I figure with spring breaks starting throughout the area that this is the perfect time to repost this.

raising2tweens

 Recently I put together a list of activities in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond for a friend who was having a hard time coming up with inexpensive and free things to do with his children. He was looking for ideas of things to do at home and out and about. So I asked my friends and family to contribute their favorite things to do and was able to compile a pretty comprehensive list. I even broke it down by weather and if it was free or cost. I thought I’d share this list on my blog because I’m sure many other parents would love to see it.

I also want to suggest visiting my friends at www.familyfriendlycincinnati.com, www.stockpilingmoms.com and www.365cincinnati.com since they are always posting great activities.

 

Any season activities – Free

  • Cincinnati Art Museum (do a little research and make a scavenger hunt before you go)
  • Krohn…

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Enjoying a Lazy Day

lazy dayI am always on the go. I am constantly running between work, soccer, Odyssey of the Minds, speech competitions, doctor appointments and meetings all while trying to have some what of a social life.

Once in a while, I need a day of doing nothing! I spent most of Sunday doing just that and doing it alone. It was FANTASTIC! I cuddled up with the dog, watched Snapped, took a long nap, ate leftover Chinese takeout, watched more Snapped and enjoyed my alone time.

My friend Jessica gets it. She spent her Sunday doing the same thing at her own house. We both value those rare day where can just be all by ourselves doing nothing at all. It’s probably because we are both home-bodies to some extent. Most of our friends and family don’t get it though. They can’t understand how we can spend a whole day doing nothing. I can’t understand how they wouldn’t want to be completely alone doing nothing from time to time.

Are you someone who is always on the go or do you like that time off from the world once in and a while?

Cincinnati Children’s Brings Parents Together at New Urgent Care Facility

I was invited to a super secret bloggers night out at the new Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center satellite location in Green Township. I received the email and thought “wow, I wonder why I was invited.” I was super excited though. I wanted to see this new location that will offer urgent care and they were promising dinner and a super cool swag bag (it was super cool). Plus, everyone who follows this blog knows how much Cincinnati Children’s means to me. As soon as I arrived and starting to talking to other guests, I quickly realized why I was chosen. I blog about Children’s Hospital a lot. I also blog about my son’s rare diseaseHistio. The public relations staff had seen my blog and thought I’d be a good fit for this. As I talked to other guests, I realized they also blog about Children’s Hospital, their experiences and their children’s rare diseases. Wow!

I was in a room with several parents who have children with rare diseases. I couldn’t believe it. And then… I couldn’t believe the emotion that filled my whole body. I was overwhelmed. Here are a bunch of people who can actually relate to me. None of them are going to say “everything happens for a reason” or “God only gives you what you can handle.” Although I believe in those things, they are not comforting when you have a sick child. None of them are going to ask me about life expectancy (luckily Joey’s prognosis is good). Not one of them asked me how I can stay so strong because they all get that it’s not a choice. No one tilted their head and sadly asked “how is he?” They all just got it. Please don’t get me wrong. I appreciate everyone’s concern and I understand that most people just have no idea what to say to me.

And the most amazing part was how positive everyone was. I was in a room full of parents with children who have rare diseases and everyone was super positive and upbeat. Everyone talked about how writing has been therapeutic, how getting involved with the hospital has helped them, how they didn’t view any of it as a problem but just as another challenge in life and no one focused on whether or not their child had a life expectancy but instead how they are working toward finding a cure. It was truly therapeutic to talk these parents. In fact, some of us talked about getting together on a regular basis. Amazing is the only way I know how to describe this.

So if you live in the Green Township area, you might want to know more about the facility. It was really cool! It is extremely user-friendly with several self check-ins, information desks on every floor, color coded ceilings and floors to lead you to the right department and fun paintings on the walls. One of my favorite things was the lava dots on the floor. They actually change colors (see picture). This facility offers an orthopedic center, physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy, hearing tests, MRI and x-ray services, an urgent care and much more.

The new facility at 5899 Harrison Ave., Cincinnati, April 29. They will have a grand opening celebration on April 20 from 11-2. Families are invited to enjoy food, tours and fun activities.

Hallway

Hallway

OT room

OT room

Lava dots

Lava dots

Lava Dots!

Lava Dots!

welcoming space

welcoming space

One of the hallways

One of the hallways

Monster Jam® Giveaway!

monster jam

Monster Jam® is coming to the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati April 5-6. I have never been but I hear it’s incredible! My 11-year-old son is so excited to go! I am also excited to give four tickets to two lucky winners!

Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam®, starring the biggest performers on four wheels: Monster Jam monster trucks! Approximately 12 feet tall and about 12 feet wide, monster trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66-inch-tall tires and weigh a minimum of 10,000 pounds. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, monster trucks generate 1,500 to 2,000 horsepower and are capable of speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Monster trucks can fly up to 125 to 130 feet (a distance greater than 14 cars side by side) and up to 35 feet in the air.

Pricing

Monster Jam® tickets start at $18. Advance Auto Parts is offering fans ticket vouchers for $5 Off Adult Tickets. Opening night tickets only cost $12.

I’m happy to announce we’ll be offering an exclusive MONSTER JAM 4 FOR $40 FAMILY PACK where parents can save up to $32!!!!! **All you have to do is log onto http://www.ticketmaster.com, select from the Fam 4 pack Dropdown menu and use the code FAMILY to receive your 4 for $40 Family Pack. **Disclaimer: Offer subject to ticket availability. Excludes premium seating. No double discounts. Not valid on Opening Night performance. Offer must be purchased in multiples of 4. Additional fees may apply.

PIT PARTY – 11:30AM-1PM ON SATURDAY. Must have a valid 2 p.m. performance ticket in addition to the pit pass to enter. Pit Passes are $10. The pit pass gives fans the opportunity to get a view of the trucks up close and meet the drivers of the massive monster trucks.

Stay up to date on shows by following Monster Jam on Facebook.

Zombie

I have two (2) family four packs of tickets to giveaway.

How the Giveaway Works:

You can enter several ways. The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win. Enter by noon on Monday, March 25. We will randomly choose two (2) winners who will be announced on our Facebook page. The winners will have 24 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.

1. Comment on this post saying why you want the tickets (required).

2. Become a fan of Raising2tweens Facebook page and comment here that you did.

3. Share this contest through Twitter, Facebook, email or text and comment here that you did.

4. Follow this blog by hitting follow and comment that you did.

Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events.

This contest is now closed. 3-25-13 12:19 p.m.

Living With A Creative Genius

My 11-year-old son Joey is very smart and super creative. His brain works in a very unique way, which is a part of the reason he does so well with Odyssey of the Mind. He has been doing science projects at home on his own since he was about 3. He has a crazy imagination and can keep himself busy 100 percent of the time. He use to collect garbage at his sister’s soccer games and then build machines from it. He often gathers random materials from around the house and builds things in the yard with his friends. He is a creative genius.

A normal day at our house

A normal day at our house

Although he loves to build and experiment, Joey will do the bare minimum when it comes to school projects. He will not do extra credit because it’s “extra” unless I make him. If a teacher says something is optional, he will only do what’s required. If he scores a good grade on his math test, he will not do any of the corrections to make it better unless I force him. He gets mad when I require he do the extra. So we just had his first science fair at school. I knew Joey would do well with the actual experiment and data. He worked on it for weeks and typed his report well in advance. Our home printer is down so he sent his report to me at work. I printed it out and gave it to him in the car one day last week. “Now you are responsible for this Joey.” Later that day I put the dog in the car and realize she’s walking all over it with her sharp nails. I hand it to Joey again, “you should probably put this in your backpack so it’s safe.” The next morning I notice it is sitting on the kitchen table with the reminisce of breakfast, including syrup, all around it. I put it in his backpack myself. Since I knew Joey had been working on this project quite a bit, I made the mistake of assuming it was finished.

We came home from family night dinner at my mom’s Monday night around 7:30 when Joey announced he had to finish his project that was due the next day. WHAT? It is not finished??? At this point, he realizes that he didn’t send me all the pages to print so here we are with no printer and a missing page the night before. Luckily we have very sweet neighbors who allowed him to print there. I remembered that Joey had told me he wanted to take pictures of his project for his display board but he never gave me anything to have printed. I asked him if I needed to make an emergency run to Walgreen’s and he said no because he never took the pictures. I repeatedly asked if he was giving the project 110 percent and he assured me he was. I kept thinking his display board looked awfully plain. There was even a muddy shoe print on it. I asked how he was going to cover it… He cut out strip of paper and glued it over it. Then parents starting posting pictures of their kids projects on Facebook and I knew Joey didn’t care about giving even 100 percent.  Look at his friend’s board below and look at Joey’s. I’m not sure he even used scissors to cut the information out that he glued on. I’m guessing he just tore it with his hand. He must have realized when he got to school that he forgot to put a title on it because I noticed at the fair Tuesday night that he had scribbled the title on the board in pencil in his absolute worse handwriting.

Joey's friend's project

Joey’s friend’s project

Joey's project

Joey’s project

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joey’s board was the most plain board at the entire fair. It was the only board that did not have a photo, color or something on the side panels. I know other parents and his teacher had to be thinking “WHAT THE HECK? This is an incredibly creative kid who is on the chess team and goes to state every year with Odyssey and this is his project.” On our walk home I asked if he thought he did the best he could. He told me he did. I asked again. He then admitted that although his data was fantastic (and it was) that he could have put more in to the presentation. We talked about how when someone is viewing projects they are more likely to stop at something visually appealing than something plain and he agreed. I understand I could have pushed him harder to make it better but I feel like we are at the point that I have to let him figure it out himself.

Hopefully he won’t be a minimalist on future projects and will put that creativity to work!

Kids Learning to be Disappointed

Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could go through life without ever knowing what disappointment is? I would love to protect both of my kids from all the disappointments in life – being hurt by friends, losing a loved-one, having their heart broken, getting a bad grade, having a horrible boss or losing a competition. Unfortunately, that’s not really how life works. Working through disappointment as a child, prepares you for how to deal with it as an adult because unfortunately, disappointment is inevitable.

My 5th grade son Joey has been competing in Odyssey of the Mind since kindergarten. I think he is the only kid in his school district who can say that. He loves it. He has been on the same team now for four years. He has qualified at the regional level for the state competition three years in a row now. Unfortunately, the first year, half of our team members were going to be out of town for spring break and were unable to compete. Last year, the team took third place at state. First and second place teams are invited to attend worlds. Since one of the top teams could not attend, Joey’s team was extended an invitation. However, it was in Iowa, about 14 hours away, and very costly, so we were not prepared.

The Team and Coaches

The Team and Coaches

Joey and his teammates went into this year with determination to final for and attend the worlds competition in Michigan. You can see how badly by reading this article and watching the video. The coaches and parents were very supportive. The kids worked really hard putting hours upon hours in to preparing. The team took second place at Regionals. They actually had the highest score on long-term but were a little short on spontaneous, putting them in second. They continued to work hard to prepare for state. They practiced spontaneous over and over and made minor changes to their long-term problem. The day before state one of their teammates came down with a fever. The team immediately came up with plan B and put it into action. They rocked their long-term performance even with the cast change.

Then it came time for spontaneous. The team goes in alone for this – no coaches, no parents. They are told whether it is a verbal or a hands-on and they have one minute to decide which five of the six members will participate. It’s a lot of pressure.  The teammates typically come out saying they did great. Not this time. Joey came out shaking his hand as if he was iffy and holding back tears. They aren’t allowed to tell anyone what the spontaneous was until after awards. I could tell he was ready to bust and was no longer confident he was going to worlds. UGH! The rest of the afternoon, other than when we had a fun team lunch, was spent worrying.

The supportive siblings having a snow ball fight during spontaneous.

The supportive siblings having a snow ball fight during spontaneous.

We arrived for awards. That energy that was present during awards at regionals just wasn’t there. I thought for sure our team would be third place again and we’d have to wait on an invite to worlds. They announced third place and it wasn’t us. I was briefly hopeful. They announced second and again it wasn’t us. Right then I knew… I knew that my son was going to be heartbroken. The first place team was announced… it wasn’t us. I looked at my son’s face and my heart literally ached. As awards finished we hurried out to the car knowing he was holding it back as much as he could. The tears were welling up. As I hugged him I told him how proud I was of him for taking sixth at the state level. It was his dad’s weekend so he hopped in the car with him. I could feel his sadness as they pulled away. This is one of the times in my life that I hated my every other weekend arrangement. I wanted to take him home with me, hug him, tell him it was okay, eat ice cream out of the tub and watch movies that would make us laugh. I didn’t get to do that. Instead, I received text messages from him for about two hours telling me how sad and disappointed and even a little angry he was. I told him I loved him and to get some rest.

chocolate therapyHe and his sister came home the next evening. I was waiting for him with open arms and a small tub of “chocolate therapy” ice cream. In no way am I trying to teach him to eat his feelings away but sometimes ice cream really can fix anything. Joey always tells me “Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy ice cream and that’s basically the same thing.” We sat on the couch as both kids dug in with a spoon and laughed about what was on TV.ice cream

Joey is still disappointed but he’s coping. He’s already thinking about next year and what his team can do to prepare even more. I don’t know if he’ll be going to World’s in 2014 but I am sure he will one of these years. His determination and hard work will get him there. Until then…. He may have to deal with disappointment. How do you prepare your kids for disappointment?

Team and family lunch (37 people)

Team and family lunch (37 people)

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When Adults Take Time to Have Fun

My children’s Education Foundation Board puts on a dance every year as a fundraiser. It always has a theme and probably 90 percent of the people come in costume. They also have a popular local band play the event. The admission price, $35, includes light appetizers and a great time!

rusty griswolds

The Rusty Griswolds

Parents, who I see everyday rushing their kids to and from school and soccer practice, stressed out over homework and all while working 40 hours a week , take this one night a year to just cut loose. They ditch the yoga pants or suits and dress to fit the theme. This year’s theme was Reel Fun. It was kind of Hollywood style. People came as movie stars, theater ushers, film crew and their favorite TV and movie characters. Everyone enjoyed the cash bar and danced all night to the Rusty Griswolds.

The Griswolds are a local 80’s band that has been playing in the Cincinnati area for several years. They were also dressed for the occasion. Women who are usually ready to pull their hair out from their busy schedules were on stage dancing with the band. Marilyn Monroe, Joe Dirt, the cast of The Walking Dead and A League of the Their Own, Pink Ladies, Taylor Swift and Cat Woman filled the dance floor. Once the dance ended at midnight, several of the attendees, in their costumes, went to a nearby bar to dance even more.

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together!

Throughout the evening I had a chance to talk to parents who I usually just see in passing. I also met a lot of people for the first time. It was awesome to make new friends and get to have fun with people I already knew. We were able to just have fun with people we will see for at least 12 years of our lives and not worry about the kids for just a little while (BTW, the local YMCA always offers a lock-in the night of the dance).

It was an awesome reminder that we need to take time for ourselves, step outside the box and go have fun without the kids. How do you take time for yourself?

baseball team