All Day Every Day With Eli

Way back in the early days of blogging, I used to just randomly post funny things the kids would say. I’m not sure why that fell out of favor. Did mommy blogging get too serious? Did my kids stop being funny? I think the answers are yes, no, and Facebook. Sadly, goofy kid stories don’t rank high in SEO or get lots of repins on Pinterest. My kids are still hilarious in my mind, although if Elena says anything funny we’re not aloud to laugh too much and I’m definitely not allowed to write about it. And in the strange way that blogging continues to evolve, I find that I’m more likely to share these kind of snippets on Twitter or Facebook, as opposed to including them in a blog post. The kids these days call it microblogging, and apparently it’s passé to share these kinds of things on anything so wordy as an actual blog.

Well, it might be lame and it might only be amusing to me, but that’s probably been the case with 92.4% of the things I’ve written on this blog from day one. Hasn’t stopped me from oversharing in the last 9 years now, has it? In the spirit of nostalgia and writer’s block, here are a few things that have made me chuckle lately.

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One evening at dinner, we got to talking about middle-school kids and experimenting with illicit behaviors. (I promise our dinner conversations aren’t always so worthy of After-School Special topics.) Does anyone drink? Smoke cigarettes? Smoke pot? This got Eli’s attention.

“Smoke pot?” He said, his face all screwed up in confusion.  “Like smoking chicken pot pie?”

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He’s already very concerned about “cigaretting.” Smoking is much more prevalent in Spain, and you could tell it bothered him. It’s a very bad thing, right? We stayed at a guest house in Barcelona where we were mostly on our own, but there was something akin to an “inn keeper” who would be there in the mornings and evenings to keep an eye on the place and be available if you needed anything. She was a pretty, young girl who spoke excellent English. One morning Eli was out on the patio with her, talking her ear off. She lit up a cigarette and he got all serious. He sat down at the table, crossed his arms, and leaned in close: “You know that’s going to kill you.” Oh, those precious American kids!

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Another day, Elena was goofing around with Gus, and Eli wanted Gus to himself. (Funny, they don’t fight over him when it’s time to walk him. Or clean up his poop.)

“Stop pet-tronizing him!” he yelled at her. “Wait. What does that even mean?” I don’t know buddy, you tell us.

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Eli, eating ribs: "I feel like a wolf or a black bear, eating my prey." Gus: "Dropitdropitdropit."

We’re terrible about getting Eli’s hair cut until it’s well past time. It had gotten more than a little shaggy, so at dinner the other night, Mike commented that with the way it was kind of swooped forward, it reminded him of a certain celebrity.

“You have the beginning of Bieber hair, buddy.” Elena piped in, “Like, 2009 Bieber hair.”

Eli tilted his head, apparently shuffling through his mental catalog of Bieber images. “You mean the Bieber before he peed in the trashcan?” Yes, that’s the one we’re going for.

It’s your turn to amuse me. What’s the goofiest thing your kids have said or done lately?

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YOXO: Inspiring Toys For Young Makers

Looking for creative, durable, and affordable toys to inspire makers? Check out YOXO building sets!

Disclosure: I was provided with YOXO building sets for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Little do my kids know, but our humble little coat closet does double duty as a magic closet. It’s dark and small, so other than throwing mittens in there in the winter and goggles in the summer, the kids pay little attention to it. Along with our summer and winter needs, I use the closet to store toys and craft kits for those days. You know the ones … the fourth snow day in a row, the day the rain won’t stop, the day you have deadlines and littles that both need attention, the day they won’t stop touching each other, the day you just can’t think of anything you have the energy to do or go see. On those days, it’s reassuring to know that I can open the closet, pull something out, and change the entire vibe of the day. Where there was once this …

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there’s now this …

Magic Potion Lab

Magic.

I keep all kinds of stuff in there. I have a couple of add-ons to our trusty Snap Circuits that I bought when a local toy store was going out of business. I have a paper airplane kit. A science kit we used briefly at Christmas until the Xbox upstaged it. A Makey Makey that was a steal on Amazon one day. I stash our trusty Kiwi Crates in there before the kids have a chance to see them on mail day. When the mood demands it, I open the door and grab whatever catches my eye. Because they have no idea where it came from or how long we’ve had it, it’s like a new toy on Christmas day.

Looking for creative, durable, and affordable toys to inspire makers? Check out YOXO building sets!

I was asked if we might be interested in trying out YOXO, and after browsing the website for a few minutes I knew YOXO would be the perfect addition to the closet of sanity-saving magic. YOXO is a sustainable, recyclable, eco-friendly toy made with makers and creators in mind. The construction kits come with directions to build one of four YOXO heroes, as well as instructions to build several other designs. The Y, O and X-shaped links (hence the name) connect in a myriad of ways, not only with each other, but with other common household materials, such as paper towel rolls and empty boxes. The possibilities are endless, limited only by a kids’ imagination.

Looking for creative, durable, and affordable toys to inspire makers? Check out YOXO building sets!

I busted out the YOXO last weekend on a gloomy, rainy day. Eli dove right in, ignoring the instructions and building the first thing that came to mind. If you have boys, you can probably guess what it was. (Answer: a gun, quickly followed by a sword.) After playing with his eco-friendly weapons (hey, I’m just a pacifist looking for the bright spot here), he returned to start building a 3-foot-long dragonfly. Isn’t it super cool?

Looking for creative, durable, and affordable toys to inspire makers? Check out YOXO building sets!

So here’s what I love about YOXO:
The creativity. Each set has instructions for 4 designs, but the options beyond that are limitless. The website even offers free downloads to enhance the playing experience.
The look. The pieces are bright and cheery. Sorry, but if I’m leaving a toy out in the open, I want it to look nice. These look great in a basket and will draw the kids right into making and creating.
The durability. We’ve lost a few pieces to the dog – sadly recycled wood pulp is no match for puppy teeth. But that was completely our fault. When the YOXO links are in your kids’ hands, they’re surprisingly sturdy. I was worried we’d bend or break them during construction, but they hold up beautifully.
The price point and availability. Good quality, creative building kits can break the bank. YOXO is a great deal for the quality and play factor. These would make great birthday gifts to stock up on as well. You can purchase them online through yoxo.com, but I was able to purchase mine at Target.
The company philosophy. YOXO is committed to making sustainable, recyclable toys in the US that foster creativity and the maker spirit. Their St. Paul manufacturing facility is wind-powered and operates at nearly zero waste.

Looking for creative, durable, and affordable toys to inspire makers? Check out YOXO building sets!

Just a fair parental heads up: Eli’s pretty skilled at building while following directions, but the YOXO instructions stumped him at times and he needed some assistance. Our kit is aimed for ages 5 and up, but just be prepared to supply some assistance if younger kids want to build something exactly to the given instructions.

Looking for creative, durable, and affordable toys to inspire makers? Check out YOXO building sets!

They may be recyclable, but it looks like our YOXO will be hanging around for a long time. You can purchase YOXO on the company website, on Amazon, or at Target. Use the handy locator to find a store near you. As your kids build cool stuff, be sure to share their creations with the company using the hashtag #YOXOtoys.

Looking for creative, durable, and affordable toys to inspire makers? Check out YOXO building sets!

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Consider This Your Fuel Up To Play 60 Playbook

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by American Dairy Association Indiana and the NFL’s Fuel Up To Play 60 Program. Through a series of posts, I’ll be sharing information about Fuel Up To Play 60 and how you and your kids can get involved.

Fuel Up To Play 60

Last month I found myself back in middle school. Just like my own middle school days, I woke up (too early for my liking), did my hair and makeup (I’d like to think I’m a little better at it now), and walked nervously through the cafeteria doors. I mingled with the students of Zionsville West Middle School as they prepped for a day of ISTEP testing by fueling up with a hearty breakfast. While breakfast is served every day for any student who wants it, this particular Monday morning was special, as it kicked off National School Breakfast Week.

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Along with Indiana Dairy, Pat McAfee of the Indianapolis Colts was there, serving breakfast and giving the students a pep talk about nutrition and fueling up for whatever lie ahead, whether it be the playoffs or a math test.

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Healthy breakfasts and visits from NFL players are just a few of the benefits for a school participating in the Fuel Up To Play 60 Program (FUTP60). As a parent and a fan of the NFL, I’d heard of Play 60. However, if you pressed me for more information about the program, I’d have to punt, pass or kick on the question. I had no idea what the program was actually about, why I might want my kids involved, or if their school even participated. I figured that if I didn’t know, chances were pretty good you didn’t know, either. So when offered the chance to work with Indiana Dairy and the NFL to spread the word about FUTP60, I jumped. In the end, I hope you’re as inspired as I am to get kids fueled up and moving.

Like me, you may have heard of Play 60 and FUTP60, but weren’t sure what they were or if they were even different names for the same thing. Play 60 is the NFL’s campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day. Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program partner, in which the NFL and the National Dairy Council joined forces to create an in-school program that works with kids to combine daily physical activity with nutritious eating habits. Parents and kids can participate in Play 60 through schools, contests and community events. FUTP60, however, is an in-school program.

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It turns out neither of my kids’ schools are participating in the FUTP60 (something I hope to change). I had the chance to speak with Andrea McMurtry, the Wellness teacher for 7th and 8th graders at Fishers Junior High. I had lots of questions for her about the program, and she was happy to answer.

How can a parent find out if their school is participating in the program?

Visit www.fueluptoplay60.com and choose whether you’re a student or a supporter. At the top of each page, you can enter your zip code to see which schools in your area are participating.

If your child’s school is participating, does that mean all the kids within that school are participating? And if not, how do they make sure their kids are signed up if they’re interested?

At Fishers Junior High, Andrea offers a promotion period at the end of each school year to get students involved. Student participants (or Ambassadors) do so on a voluntary basis. Not every school offers FUTP60, but a student can sign up on their own if they feel passionately about nutrition and physical activity.

What can a parent do if their school isn’t participating in FUTP60 and they want to get involved?

Parents can contact the school and see if teachers are interested in implementing the program. As well all know, teachers have full plates. For that reason, parents can also organize a group of students to do FUTP60 by signing up to represent their child’s school as a Program Advisor. Everything you need to know can be found on the Supporter section of the FUTP60 website.

I asked Andrea to tell me more about the kids from her school who were involved in FUTP60. The 30 FUTP60 Ambassadors at Fishers Junior High meet weekly with Andrea and discuss ways to improve the health and fitness of their peers. They combine challenges and suggestions provided by the FUTP60 program as well as create activities of their own. By participating in the program, Andrea sees firsthand how it empowers student leaders to create projects and ideas that will have a positive influence on their peers, through healthy eating challenges or physical activity events. Andrea also had very exciting news to share: one of her students was just picked as the state Ambassador for Indiana, and will get to attend the Student Ambassador Summit in Chicago this summer with all expenses paid! What an amazing opportunity.

I also asked Andrea if being involved in the program took up a lot of time, something both teachers and parents don’t have a lot of. She spends anywhere from an hour to 5 hours a week doing program-related activities, but feels that a Program Advisor could successfully run a school program for an hour a week or less.

Pat McAfee and Angie Six Fuel Up To Play 60

I was so encouraged to hear this! It doesn’t take much to get involved and start making a positive impact on our kids’ nutrition and physical activity. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way in shaping healthy habits for our kids. Just yesterday, Eli came home from school after participating in Fitness Club. They’d talked about making healthy choices when eating, and how sometimes when you’re on vacation (we just returned from Spring Break) you make different choices. Would you believe the kid came home and asked if he could eat a healthy snack (pineapple) and run around the neighborhood a few times? Um, yes (and I should join you)! A program like Fuel Up To Play 60 can provide just that kind of encouragement and inspiration. I’m so excited to get involved.

Does your school participate in Fuel Up To Play 60? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences with the program. If not, would you consider being a Program Advisor?

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