Monday Memories: Hoarder? Who, me?

Today’s Memories are all about childhood collections. I have a feeling that my soul sister in New Mexico (Lily from It’s a Dome Life) is going to have a similar tale to tell, so go check her out!

So I may or may not have mentioned my childhood bedroom. I collected everything. EV-RE-THING. It looked like a tornado had come through, tossing Barbies, Barbie clothes, books, dress up clothes, Cabbage Patch Dolls Little People, She-Ra, My Little Pony, trolls, cassette tapes, key chains, buttons, pins, patches, birthday cards, photographs, and a crap ton of LEGOs around like a boss. The piles of single socks, clothes, and toys that adorned the floor of my bedroom was astounding. In a not-cool sort of way. For some reason if everything was “organized” in a pile, it was okay…for me anyways.

These days, I still have piles of clean laundry (in a laundry basket, though). But my crazy collections have finally ceased. Sort of.

The Nook helps with the book hoarding. It really does. I saved only the cards that have personal notes in them. or the ones that were from my grandparents. or the really funny ones. But I got rid of the dumb ones. The Barbies and their accessories are boxed up on my parents garage shelves…collecting dust, but who cares. They’re freakin’ Barbies! With pretty dresses! The trolls, little people, she-ra, and the ponies disappeared, though I’m not sure where. Mom gave away all of my children’s books. I suppose that’s what happened to everything else. I mean, I’ve still got the important stuff. The original CPKs.The BARBIES. The Disney VHS tapes…You know…the important stuff.

Now I just collect…clothes. And shoes. And purses. That I don’t wear or use. And seashells. That are sitting in shoe boxes on my closet shelf.

OK. So maybe I’m still a hoarder. Just a little bit. But I mean…two closets and three dressers full of clothes. Plus several Rubbermaid crates…Hmmm…Maybe I should get rid of things I don’t wear.

Well if that wasn’t the rambliest post ever, I don’t know what is. Next Monday, we’ll be writing about BOOK MEMORIES! Write about your favorite memories with Lily and I. Just let us know that you’re in so we can link to you!

Did you collect strange things when you were a kid? Did you collect anything?

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Shit I’m Really Glad My Mom DIDN’T Do

There are some things that I see and I think, Seriously?  I look back on my own childhood and thank the world that I had my mom doing things the way she did things.

Sometimes (not always, of course) I feel like my mom’s a little too hard on herself. Even though there are definitely times that my mom drives me or drove me up the wall…I think she did a fucking bad ass job of raising a couple of relatively normal human beings. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her for the shit she didn’t do. Because I am a better person for it.

Things My Mom Didn’t Do

Call alcoholic beverages “mommy juice”

Please. Please. Please for the love of God. Stop. Your children will eventually find out that you’re a lush. Calling it “mommy juice” doesn’t make it any better. It makes you sound silly. And drunk.

Now, I grew up surrounded by alcohol, without having alcoholic parents. My parents owned a bar. I knew alcoholics. I knew I didn’t want to be one. So I knew what booze was. I even knew when my parents were drinking it. Big fucking deal. Get over yourself. You aren’t the first parent to need a glass bottle of wine after a rough day. Call it what it is. Wine. Vodka. Beer. Whiskey. Name your poison…It’s okay, I promise. Your kid will thank you one day. Besides, I think I turned out okay.

Make alcohol seem taboo

I was allowed to taste everything, including, but not limited to wine and beer. I hated alcohol. It tasted gross. Children’s taste buds don’t actually LIKE booze (unless you’re drinking the super fruity stuff that tastes like candy. Don’t share that with the kids.) It’s the idea that it’s forbidden that makes so many kids experiment.

Sure I made jokes about drinking when I was a kid… When told I should drink MGD when I grew up, I told my older sister, Deven, that I would “drink Bud Light like my Daddy.” When she later told me that she would take me to a college party (at the age of 9) and get me a beer, I responded with, “I prefer cocktails.” In kindergarten, I drew a picture of a bar for what I wanted to be when I grew up. Instead of playing house or grocery store, we played bartender. But I’m almost 30 years old and I drink MAYBE once a week. So I think I’m alright on that front as well.

Give me a time out

Nope, I was never given a “time out” and asked about my feelings. Instead my parents would slap me on the ass and tell me that what I did was wrong. Seriously. Just like Pavolv’s pup, I knew when I did something bad and when I did something good. I was praised for good behavior, and taught not to be an asshole. I grew up with a healthy fear of punishment. Which is part of the reason I was such a Stepford child.

When I was an education major (twice), all of the books for child development were saying that you need to ask children about their feelings and why they did bad things. This pissed me off to no end. I even wrote a paper for Argumentative Writing in favor of corporal punishment for kids (when combined with a lot of affection.)  Mostly this pissed me off because I know kids who had that kind of parent…and I know kids like me who had parents who actually punished their kids, and you know what? We were the teenagers who didn’t end up drunk off our asses and naked in the middle of a public street…(Yes, this actually happened to someone).

Let Me Run Wild

Whether in a restaurant, the grocery store, or even a kid-friendly locale, my mother had us on strict orders to behave. We weren’t allowed to run around like assholes, we had to ask to leave the table at a restaurant (even to go see the lobster tank at Red Lobster), and we had to stay close to her in stores. In other words, we were well-behaved little assholes. Most of the time.

I remember being pulled out of a restaurant and getting spanked in the parking lot, after which we returned to the table, and I was a silently crying, but sitting and not yelling, little girl. Another time, I remember playing in someone’s basement for 20 minutes, and mom thought we were outside. When she couldn’t find us, we were no longer allowed to go to the pool with our babysitter that day.

Consequences. There were consequences to running wild. I see too many kids who dominate their parents, and the parents look frazzled and unsure of what to do…At which my point my mother would look at us and say, “I am the parent. You are the child. When you’re the parent, you can do what you want. Until then sit down and shut up.”

For the record, my dad’s pretty fucking awesome, too.

My first legal shot with my parents. (Isn't my mom short and adorable?)

My first legal shot with my parents. (Isn’t my mom short and adorable?)

What about you, Blog Friends? What are you glad your mom did or didn’t do? Will you do the same for your kids?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Product Review: Don’t Rock the Boat Game

As you may remember, I’ve got a laundry list of game reviews to write, but I promised myself that I would never let reviews take over my blog. The holidays may have gotten me slightly off track, but with the aforementioned promise, it seems totally acceptable.

Today is the day to revisit the world of product reviews. Today is the day to review an amazing kids game. Today is the day to talk about pirates. And penguins. And Little A. And Trouble.

Little A is my gamer-in-training godson. Trouble is his little sister. We had a lovely afternoon of gaming a few weeks ago, and played this amazing game. “What game?” you ask? Don’t Rock the Boat from Patch Products. You may know Patch from Farkle or Buzzwords.

Patch Games Don't Rock the Boat Review

Does this not look AWESOME!? Penguins and Pirates Meets Topple and Jenga. Sounds like a winning combination to me!

The mission is simple: Stack all of the penguins onto the boat without tipping it over.

The task itself? REALLY HARD!

Three adults and a pretty clever 7 year old had to work really hard (and maybe not quite follow the rules) in order to achieve perfection. But did we have fun doing it? Hell yes.

Let me start from the beginning.

I busted the game out for Little A and I to play. My cousin Rachel, Trouble, and Brian all decided they wanted to play. So we set the game up. Little A was STOKED because the box alone was some pretty sweet business.

The game is super easy to set up. It comes with the base, the ship, and the pirate penguins.

Patch Games Don't Rock the Boat Review

Start with one penguin pirate…then work your way around the table.

Just like Jenga, the object is to gently complete the task, without toppling the whole game over. Except that Jenga starts out easy. This, my friends, is some tough stuff. That ship is teetery and tottery and crazy. It’s like the ocean has declared war on the pirate penguins.

The minute Trouble saw one penguin topple the whole game, she giggled and giggled and decided that was exactly how you play the game. That and stealing the penguins. We had to hide them from her.

Patch Games Don't Rock the Boat Review

Little A trying REALLY hard to stack all of the penguins on the boat. You’ll note that he’s totally cheating by holding the ship.

So we may have cheated a little bit. Our mission was to get all the penguins on the ship. Little A decided that he cold hold the ship while he placed it. Rachel, Brian, and I chose not to argue with the kid’s logic.

And we did it!

Patch Games Don't Rock the Boat Review

Success! (Even though we cheated)

So, really, this is a game that anyone can play. Even a two year old like Trouble. Even when she is trying to sabotage the game and steal all of the penguin pirates. It’s more fun that way, right?

We really loved playing, and Little A wanted to play with the pirate penguins the rest of the day. And take the ship off of the wave base. Because then the penguins wouldn’t fall over. This game rocks.

What are some games that you love to play with the whole family?

***I was given a free copy of Don’t Rock the Boat at the Chicago Toy & Game Fair in order to play and review it. I was not paid money to say nice things about the game, nor was I compensated in any other way.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Confession Friday: I Lost at LIFE

OK. Here goes. The following conversation happened last night:

Me: So, do you want to try out our new game? (Our previous roommate bought us this sweet game, Dominion, for Christmas…and the next day, I had popped it, organized it, and read all of the rules. I proceeded to ask Brian to play every day thereafter.)

Brian: I kinda just want to relax and snuggle and watch TV. (The same answer he’s had every night since we got the game).

Me: You don’t ever want to play games with just me. It’s just like when I was a kid. I wish we had a dog.

Brian: You can’t play games with a dog.

Me: Yes, you can.

Brian: But you’ll always win.

Me: That’s not true!

Brian: I know…(and then he hugs me sympathetically).

We finally got to play Dominion last night. He felt so sorry for me…and, wait for it…he enjoyed himself.

The following conversation happened on Christmas.

Little A: Auntie Chrissy, did you bring LIFE?

Me: No, A…sorry.

Little A: That’s OK. Can we open presents?

Me: Sure. Ask Auntie Patti, though. She’s the boss.

Little A: yells Auntie Patti! Can we open presents??

Mom: Sure! (She was never that easy going when WE were kids!)

Present opening ensues.

Little A: opens games Oh sweet! Can we play!?

Me: Definitely!

So we start setting up Catan Jr. which is awesome.

Dad: Sure beats playing with the dog, right? he chuckles at me

Me: Dad, did you read that blog post?

Dad: Huh?

Me: The one I wrote about Bismark?

Dad: No, I just remember it. You always played LIFE with Bismark. I remember you lost a lot, too.

Classic Game of LIFE

 

Woj (My Little Brother, whose name is also Brian, which gets confusing): You lost to the DOG? Hahahahahahahaha! (Literally that many ha’s)

Me: Sometimes…

Woj: How many times did Bismark go to college?

Me: A lot.

Woj: Hahahahahahahahahaha!

So there you have it, Blog Friends. My dirty little gamer secret. And you know what? Right now, I totally wish I had a dog.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Product Review: PAIRSinPEARS

Yes, it is Monday, and for today’s Memory to Make You Laugh, you can head over to my WordPress blog to read about back pain. But here at Quirky Chrissy, I’ve got an exciting post lined up.

As many of you may remember, I was invited to attend a really spectacular event in Chicago, last month: The Chicago Toy & Game Fair.

At this event, I was invited to meet with game inventors, visit booths, and learn about new and popular games. I was also given a variety of free products to try out, and write about for you, my loyal readers!

One of the games that  I was very excited to play was Pairs in Pears, by the creators of Bananagrams.

If you haven’t heard of Bananagrams, shame on you! It’s the perfect game for word ninjas or word ninjas in training. I first played it when I was student teaching. We used it in the resource room on Fridays. The students loved the break from homework or silent reading, and I loved playing with words. It worked out really well. But this review is about Pairs in Pears, so I will leave Bananagrams for another day.

PAIRSinPEARS® (Suggested Retail Price: $14.95- Ages 3+)

PAIRSinPEARS or PAIRS in PEARS

What an excellent game. Much like its counterpart, Bananagrams, PAIRSinPEARS is a word ninja game. With several play options, this game is absolutely perfect for a variety of ages. The letter tiles are larger than those found in Bananagrams, which makes it easier for younger (and older) eyes.

As some of you may know, I spent the last two summers teaching reading comprehension, a position that I am incredible proud of and humbled by. I worked for a truly amazing company that not only worked with students who were sometimes considered “unteachable,” but we were able to teach them to read, spell, and write. My 5-year-old niece, The Princess, and my 7-year-old godson, Little A (or A, for short), both have some difficulty with the process of reading/writing. Now, they’re relatively young, but with my knowledge of literacy, I know that it’s important to boost their reading skills younger rather than waiting. PAIRSinPEARS is the perfect game to help Auntie Chrissy.

Kids don’t want to feel like learning is a chore. Especially when they’re hanging out with their favorite aunt. A loves games. Loves them. Like me, he developed the love early on, and it was evident that most of the grown ups in his life were not down with playing games. As I once spent many a Life games playing with my dog, I feel that it’s my duty to play with A and teach him about the joys of gaming. So a few weeks ago, I brought PAIRSinPEARS out to play with him.

The beauty of Pairs in Pears is the versatility. There are 8 different formal activities documented in the game rules, and 2 different competitive games (with varying degrees of difficulty for varying ages/reading levels).

A and I played the basic competitive version with my cousin, Rachel (A’s mom). I would be lying if I said we played fair…We definitely let A win, because with him it’s a learning game, and we want him to know he’s doing well (and we want him to have fun…and winning is definitely fun). The basic play for this game involves dividing up the letters equally among players, and racing to see who can build cross words faster. Here were A’s favorite words to use. Cute right?

PAIRSinPEARS Toy Joy

A required a little help, and it took him a while to get the basic idea of the game, but once he was in a groove, he was all over the place. he loved rhyming words because it was easier for him to find the same letters, so we let him play that way for a while…Then we upped the ante, by telling him that all of the letters had to be different. In addition to building his spelling skills, we were working on his vocabulary, too! By the end of the day, A was begging to come back and play more games with us.

PAIRS in PEARS Review

Definitely related to me…

A few days later, I had The Princess over. We were talking about school (she’s in Kindergarten) and she told me it was really hard for her. She said that she could read the letters, but had trouble spelling the words. Of course, I broke out Pairs in Pears to play-after I told her my secret: “Auntie Chrissy is really really good with words. She knows how to teach spelling and reading, so that you can be the smartest girl ever. Do you want me to help you?”

Her eyes got really big and wide before she said yes. (What can I say? I’ve got a magical way with the kiddos.) So we started playing some of the basic skill building activities that are discussed in the PAIRSinPEARS instruction booklet. We played Letter Hunt (in which I tell her what to look for, she finds it and uses it for whatever purpose. She found her name and spelled that. She found the vowels. She found a few other short words that she knew.) It was fun for her. And she was showing me what she knew.

Then we played Sound it Out, where I showed her letters and she sounded them out, telling me words that started with the same letter. She loved that game too. After a little while, she did get tired of letters…I could tell because she looked at me and said, “Auntie Chrissy…I think we should let my brother play with the letters.” He’s 2. You see where this is going. But it’s understandable. Her brain was working super hard! I used to have a student who would like at me with an adorable little lisp and say, “Yoooouuuuu make me so tiiiiiiiwed. Yoooouuuuu make my bwain huwt.”

All in all, PAIRSinPEARS is an AWESOME game. Both The Princess and Little A will be returning to our place to play the fun word game that they just learned. Their parents are thrilled, because it’s helping them learn, and they just think they’re playing games! I’m not sure that I would recommend this for a 3-year-old, but my 5 and 7 y/o niece and nephew think it’s a great game. As an educator, an auntie, and a gamer, I think so too.

You can buy a copy of PAIRSinPEARS for yourself at Barnes & Noble or Target (in stores and online!) With a low price of $14.95, this would make an awesome stocking stuffer for any kid or kid at heart!

**The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own. The fine people at Bananagrams DID give me a free copy of PAIRSinPEARS to sample and review. They DID NOT compensate me for my opinion in any way, shape, or form.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Glamour Shots

Confession Friday: Yes, this happened.

As promised, more ridiculously embarrassing photos are provided in this post.

When my cousin, Rachel, and I were 7 and 11 respectively, our aunt in Kansas invited us out to visit her. Our first vacation without parents! This sounded promising. After weeks of preparation, shopping, and excitement, we were loaded onto a Southwest plane at Midway Airport (back in the days when you could accompany people all the way to the gate without a ticket.)

Aunt B picked us up and drove us to her home. We were greeted by her dog and our uncle, and told that our older cousin may stop by to say hi. It was all so much fun. Aunt B had planned all sorts of great things to do during our stay. We would go to her makeup store, and visit her salon (she owned her own cosmetics line, a store, and a hair salon), and she wanted to take glamour shots of us. Barbizon here we come!

So we went to the shops and got our hair done at the salon. For the first time in both Rachel’s and my lives, we had our hair dyed. Rachel told the ladies that they could do whatever they wanted with her hair, but I was more wary of the ladies with the scissors.

I informed them, not too quietly, that I was NOT very adventurous, and that they better not hack all of my hair off. Even more so, they could not do crazy layers. I was a nervous Nelly who hated change. I allowed them to do a little face shaping, but that was it. Rach ended up with a feathered haircut resemble something Farrah Fawcett would be proud of.

Then we went home with our new ‘dos and raided Aunt B’s closet. She wanted to dress us up like Barbie dolls, and that seemed okay to us. So we had a variety of outfits for our photo shoot prepared. I’ve included some of the high quality photography below.

And remember, we were 7 and 11
So maybe my future career as a model got a little off track…

For the record, when I was 11, I swore that I never wanted any of these pictures shown to anyone. Ever.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

It Only Works Once

Kids say the darnedest things. Seriously. I don’t know how parents do it: you know, parent their children without laughing at the ridiculously hilarious (and more often than not, bad) things that they say or do.

I’ve learned in my time as a teacher and auntie that kids don’t even realize the funniest things that they say or do until they’ve already been said or done…and it resulted in an outburst of laughter from the resident adult. I’m usually pretty good at holding it in when I’m teaching, but when I’m auntie-ing, LOOK-OUT. If the kid does something bad in a remotely adorable way…you’re bound to see me laugh until I cry…or pee…or both.

What’s even better, though, is when they realize that what they’ve said is funny…but they have no idea how or why. One of my students, an unfairly cute, precocious little seven-year-old girl would occasionally talk in her own little world. She would talk to me or herself, depending on how much she liked me at the time. She proceeded to talk to me, telling me that I was a mom, asking why I wasn’t a mom, and eventually calling me, “Big Mama,” at which point, I couldn’t help myself: I burst out with a large HA!

Of course, she checked back into the real world, and asked me, “Miss Christy (as children tend to call me, though I despise being a “Christy.”) What’s so funny?” She smiled a smirkish grin, knowing that whatever it was, she had done it. “Big Mama?!”

She spent the next hour attempting to call me Big Mama, without receiving the reaction that she wanted. It was so unexpected the first time, that I couldn’t help laughing. But…it only works once.

Many other students, nieces, and nephews in my world have done similar things, expecting the same result. (If you haven’t heard a really good cackle, you should hear me laugh. I inherited the world’s most infectious cackle from my grandmother.) Of course, the kids don’t understand that to adults, an unexpected action seen as a joke is only funny once.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I Teach Life Lessons

For couple of summers, I worked for a company that teaches students how to read. It’s kind of one of those last resorts for parents who have tried everything else. They teach children that no one else can teach. And they do it well. It was an incredibly humbling experience. Not only did I teach children, teenagers, and even some adults how to read…I taught them how to comprehend. Sometimes I really miss that place.

What may surprise you is that for some people, understanding what they’re reading goes hand in hand with understanding consequences. Perhaps the young 20-something who keeps ending up in jail for stupid reasons could have benefited from the program that I have come to know and understand. Of course, it’s a lot of fun teaching some of the life lessons that everyone should know. Here is one of my favorites. Be forewarned, it’s a little gross.

Always wash your hands

 

Wash Your Hands

Calia (named obviously changed to protect the innocent), an 8 year old who came to us unable to read the word, “smart,” eventually got to a point where we were solely working on her comprehension. She became an excellent reader. When Calia first started, she didn’t want to work at all, she crawled under the table, and she was really mean to most of the teachers – calling us names, saying rude things about other students, herself, and the teachers. By the end of her time with us, Calia was understanding and making conclusions/inferences based on her reading. She had made friends with some of the students and I can even remember her hugging me when she did something super awesome as far as reading. During one of her later work sessions, she and I were having a pretty interesting conversation about cleanliness.

Calia was constantly playing with her feet. Picking them. Putting pens and other items in her shoes. Putting feet in the teacher’s faces… So I explained to her, “Calia, sometimes the little kids here put this stuff in their mouths. Do you think that it’s a good idea for your feet to have touched them? It’s like putting your feet in their mouth. Would you want someone’s feet in your mouth?”

She thought for just a minute before she said, “No! That’s gross!”

“Exactly. Our feet are pretty dirty right?” I asked her to see if she would understand further…

“Yeah, our whole bodies are dirty, aren’t they?”

“Well, yes and no. Our feet are dirtier, because they walk on the ground a lot, don’t they?”

“Yeah, I don’t really like wearing shoes.” She said, as her shoes lay in a pile on the floor.

“But would you want them in your mouth?”

“No, probably not. But sometimes I pick my nose and put boogers in my mouth.”

ew. Ew. EW.

“Well, let’s think about about our hands for a minute. Are they cleaner than our feet?”

“Yes!” She said as if I was asking her the stupidest question in the world. Almost a Duh! moment.

“Right, because we wash our hands a lot. We wash our hands all day. Every time we go to the bathroom, right?”

“Well….sometimes.”

Knowing she had just come from the bathroom a few moments earlier, “Did you wash your hands in the bathroom today?”

“Of course! I always wash my hands. Sometimes, when I’m at home though…I don’t.” Calia admitted to me.

“Well, your mom is a doctor, right?”

“Uh huh!”

“And she sees sick people and makes them better, right?”

“Yeah!” Her smile beamed with pride for her mom.

“So, sometimes people get sick because they don’t wash their hands and then touch part of their body and the germs get inside.”

“Huh?”

“Did you know that the inside of your nose is inside your body?”

“It is!?!”

“Yep..”

“I didn’t know that!” She started getting really excited.

“So when you pick your nose, you’re putting the germs from your hand into your body.”

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“Miss Chrissy?”

“Yes, Calia?”

“I need to go wash my hands.”

Are you as grossed out by feet as I am? Have you ever had to explain why handwashing is important to a tiny human or two? How would you have explained it?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!