Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughts on the #IceBucketChallenge

So there's this thing that has gone viral.  People post a video stating that they have been challenged and they are challnging 2 or 3 other people to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads.  They say it is in support of ALS research and funding.

I've seen a lot of videos.  I've seen a lot of friends do the videos.  I've seen a lot of people complaining about or making fun of people doing the videos.

So here are a few thoughts from me about it.  Because my opinion is obviously very important.  Which is why I blog.

1. It *does* raise awareness.

There are a lot more people talking about ALS.  Most people can't tell you that it's Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  But more people have heard of "ALS" or "Lou Gehrig's Disease" now than even a few weeks ago.  If people dumping ice water on their heads means that more people are talking about ALS and more people are sharing their own exxperiences with ALS, it's definitely a positive thing.

2. It *is* raising money.

I'm just going to share what the ALS Association is sharing.  "Between July 29 and today, August 12, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received an astonishing $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year."

3. I don't believe it's taking away from other charitable causes.

I'll just be honest... I don't think the majority of Americans have a budget that includes charitable giving to specific charities on a regular basis.  I think most Americans don't give charitably or, if they do budget for it, it's done more as a general "where should I give this week" type of thing.  I think a lot of fundraising happens because people ask, not because the majority of folks are lining up to hand over their money.  So for anyone to think that ALS is getting money that someone had planned to give elsewhere is just silly.  Plus, if you want to make the challenge about ALS and some other charity - go for it.  If you want to do the challenge and ask people to support a different charity altogether - go for it!

4. If you don't like it... don't participate.

I will say that when I first started to see the videos, I didn't get it.  I really didn't understand the point.  But then I watched more and learned more.  And I remembered my next door neighbor who passed from ALS a few years ago.  And I remember what it did to him... he had been a very active and busy man and ALS robbed him of his life before he was literally robbed of his life.  It was heartbreaking.  When I got challenged by a friend... I went and spoke to my neighbor about it.  I told her what was happening with these videos and that I'd like to make a donation in her husband's memory to whatever organization she chose.  Maybe the ALS Association was best.  Maybe there was a local group that helped them most.  Maybe the hospital where he was treated.  Whatever she would have come up with was fine by me.  She was very touched by the gesture and she chose the local chapter of the ALS Association.

So before you poke fun or get all eye roll-y or sarcastic about people doing the challenge, keep in mind that it means something to people who are living with ALS and it means something to people who have been imapcted by ALS.  Keep in mind that money is being raised.  That awareness of ALS is growing.

It isn't up to you to decide if someone else has donated or not.  It isn't up to you to judge if someone is doing the challenge for the right reason or not.

It's just one of those things that you either participate and be part of it... make it your own if you so choose... or just slide on past in your news feed.  Do it and make a difference - for ALS or some other cause.  Or don't do it and there is no harm, no foul.  But there is no reason to slam other people who are participating and who are choosing to make some sort of a difference.

Edited Aug 20 to add:

I also just learned that ALS is very similar to SMA (which is what Scarlett has - she's my I Run 4 Buddy).  It's like ALS is for adults and SMA is for kids.  Scarlett's very incredible mom posted these tidbits on Facebook the other day - and it just drove home the importance of making people aware of ALS and SMA and what it's like to live with it.  What it might be like to be trapped inside your body.  If you would like to do the ice bucket challenge... or you just want to donate... please visit

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Days of School


Teagan - Kindergarten


Teagan - 1st grade
It was a year that started with anxiety for both kids - Teagan was leaving Little Explorers (the most awesome preschool and Kindergarten in the world) and Zach was going to Little Explorers without his big sister.


Teagan - 2nd Grade


Zach - Kindergarten (public school)
Teagan - 3rd Grade


Zach - 1st Grade
Teagan - 4th Grade

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Screen Time

For the last few weeks of summer break, we've been fortunate to have the kids at home full time.  They had been going to a local day camp that had been perfectly wonderful for them the last 2 years.  This year, something was different and they didn't enjoy it nearly as much.  We reached a point where they were both begging to not have to go.  It's summer camp - it's supposed to be fun.  It's not a requirement like school.  So we pulled them out, rearranged schedules, found a wonderful nanny - presto!

But that also means they've had way way way more access to the TV, video games, the iPod, the DS3.  Thankfully, our nanny has been wonderful about taking them to do things.  They go to the park, the library, SkyZone (trampoline place), and so on.  But there is still a good amount of TV and gaming that goes on.

And I haven't felt much need to limit it too much, honestly.  It's summer break.  And for the first time in their lives, my kids haven't had to get up early and be out the door and have lunches and bags packed and go go go.  They've been able to actually take a summer break.  So they might watch too much TV or play too many video games.  That's ok for a couple of weeks.

But now school is quickly approaching and we have to get our habits back in check.

During the school year, the rule is no screens before school.  It is too difficult to get everyone up and ready if the TV comes on.  And there is limited time in the evening for TV.  This year, they will be allowed to watch a small amount of TV to unwind when they get home and then it will be homework time, play time, create time, read time, family time.  Get everything done on time, and we can end the evening with a show.

But how to transition... and how to make sure that Saturdays don't then became nothing but a black hole of TV watching and Minecraft playing?

That's when I happened upon this awesome post from Narrowback Slacker.  It was floating around Facebook and I fell in love with the idea.  There is a list of things that have to get done - once the list is done, screen time can be unlimited.  This makes me happy because I know they've read and played and been creative and taken care of important things.  This makes them happy because they get an awesome reward - unlimited screen time.

The timed stuff like reading?  That can be broken up.  Read for 10, brush your teeth, read for 10, eat breakfast, read for 10, get dressed.  Or all at once.  Same for play time.  Break it up or all at once.  Your choice.  Just as long as the list is done *before* any screens are turned on!

I didn't put certain chores on the list.  Teagan unloads the dishwasher and has started to do dishes.  Both kids are expected to put away any clean laundry that I've folded (some days, they have to fold it on their own).  But chores are expected to get done when they need to be done.  Sometimes the dishwasher runs overnight so it needs to be unloaded in the morning.  Sometimes we run it in the morning so it would need to be unloaded in the evening.  I don't have consistent daily chores for my kids - it's just not how we roll.

Once school has started again, this will be our weekend/days off rule.  On school days, we'll have a different pictoral list that the kids use to get themselves ready and to complete needed activities each evening.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Indiana State Fair 2014

And what a great State Fair it is (yet again)!

I think something that makes the Fair a success, for me, is when I discover something new or do something I've never done or taste something I've never had before.  There was one year where I left feeling disappointed because it had just been all the same old same old stuff.  Don't get me wrong - I have my Fair traditions and things I must do.  But it's the unexpected moments and finds that make the Fair special.

I spent 12 hours at the Indiana State Fair with my kids and husband and part of that time with a group of bloggers/friends.  And then I went back on Tuesday evening for a few hours of fun with some of my co-workers.

Celebrating Indiana Pork!

We started the day being silly!

Miss Indiana State Fair 2014.  And some lady with a crown.
Enjoyed seeing some very hard working 4H kids showing their "fuzzy cows."
This was the first year in decades that alcohol has been allowed on the Fairgrounds.  Rather than just having a beer tent on the Fairgrounds, I really like how our State Fair has handled the reintroduction of alcohol.  instead of just drinking beer, the exposition is in a single building and is focused on Indiana produced beer and wine.  There were about 6 vendors there when I visited with my friend, GotchaBaby.  There were 2 wineries, an orchard (hard ciders), and 4 breweries.  We each paid $5 dollars and received 4 tasting tokens.  If we'd found something we'd liked, there was a bar and sitting area where you can buy a glass for $5.  When you enter, you must show ID, you get a wristband with 3 stubs on it.  When you buy a tasting or a glass, they remove one of the 3 stubs.

A actually did 2 tastings of the Apricot Sour from Tin Man.  Tin Man is located in Evansville.  And the Apricot Sour was good enough that I might need to plan a road trip!

Y'know... just hangin' out with Al Capone.
One of our favorite areas is the Family Fun Park.  Teagan is almost too big for Little Hands on the Farm but she did still enjoy it this year.  We had fun strollin gthrough while the kids did the set up farm chores.

Grapes of Wrath of Khan

A visit to Pioneer Village found a new treat - a real barber!  He asked that we just pay him whatever we would pay to get a haircut elsewhere.  Zach enjoyed his old fashioned haircut and loved getting a matchbox car when he was done.  I think he also liked all the attention from people walking by.

Earned hats at the Glass Barn after completing BeanGo (a scavenger hunt type game).

Always fun to feed the goats at Goat Mountain outside the DNR Building

Good Daddy - holding Teagan's purse
One of the few foods that I *must* eat each year.  Ya Ya's Tomato Balls.  It's like a moist hush puppy with chopped up tomato and onion and such.  Served with a yogurt type dipping sauce.  This is the $2 Tuesday portion.

One of my all time favorites at the Fair - the Circl City Sidewalk Stompers Clown Band

Outside the very very crowded Dairy bar - handing out free samples of Superman ice cream

Gorgeous old heater at Hook's Drug Store

 Zach took to the giant slide all by himself.  He went once.  And then swore to never ever go again.  His faces crack me up in this series!

Teagan hung out with a friend and they enjoyed racing from ride to ride on the Midway.

 And one of the highlights of the night - for Teagan - was attending the free Bridgit Mendler concert on the Freestage.  The night was mad emore special when we ran into 2 families from church.  We had a great time hanging out, waiting for the concert to start and hoping the rain and storms would pass by quickly.

Unfortunately, the concert was way too overwhelming for Zach.  As soon as the first song started, he covered his ears and started to freak out.  So I took him out of the tent as quickly as possible and we went to find something else to do.  And that something else, surprisingly, ended up being the Three Hills Rodeo.  Zach really enjoyed keeping track how long a cowboy stayed on the animal - got excited by them staying on the full 8 seconds.  And he laughed at the rodeo clown, Danger Dave.  We even started to leave for the night but then came back to watc more!

This horse had no interest in playing.  She came out and gave a half buck... and then just walked.  The cowboy got to ride a different horse.

The amazing thing is that I've spent about 16 total hours at the Fair and still haven't done everything that I want to do.  I haven't had a glass of tomato juice in the Ag/Hort building.  I haven't bought honey.  I haven't walked through the Expo Hall.  I haven't stepped foot in the Home and Family Arts Building.  I haven't had roasted corn on the cob.  I haven't ridden the shuttle all the way around the loop.  I haven't gone on the Ferris Wheel.

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