Goodnight Moon Game, etc

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This is really weird because I'm not even really a fan of Goodnight Moon. A thousand years ago I wrote a really snarky post about my utter DISDAIN for Goodnight Moon which STILL gets comments all these 7897829 years later and I always feel mortified because who hates Goodnight Moon? What the hell was my problem? Anyway. The other day Archer and his friend were playing chess and Bo and Revi wanted to play chess with them and there were lots of tears when I had the boys set up outside. Bo and Revi pressed their faces against the window and sobbed because they wanted to play games, too.

So.
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I busted out the Goodnight Moon Game that the girls received on their birthday last year but weren't quite old enough to play. It was unopened so it felt very special ripping through the plastic and setting it up for its maiden voyage. Here is a video I cut down from a VERY LONG video of Bo and Revi playing the game. (They played for TWENTY MINUTES which might be a record.)


Anyway. I have lots I want to write about the last two weeks and the results of no added sugar + no dairy + no dyes. (We don't really buy anything with dyes but we do occasionally buy treats when we're out, and sprinkles, etc... do have dyes, so....) Because several of you have asked, the upshot is that we have had ZERO night terrors since cutting dairy + sugar. (Bo was waking up with a terror AT LEAST every other night before we cut these things.) There is much more to write about on this subject and I will absolutely do so when time permits for me to ruminate on all of the recent happenings in this regard. Thank you all so much for your comments and messages, by the way. It's been SO helpful for us and countless others I am sure.

I do feel very strongly that food has A LOT to do with our behavior/well being and I'm slowly weaning my kids off of sugar as much as I can without ruining their lives. Anyway, this is not where I wanted to go with this post but here I am, rambling about sugar and things that have nothing to do with the Goodnight Moon board game.

Which is an awesome game for twos. Parties of two. Two year olds. Two legit two quit.
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I mean, who needs an iPad when there are cards to place on top of each other/throw across the room when you're totally over it? Goodnight Moon Game, man. Who knew?

GGC

Bunny Slope DIY: Sunglasses Glasses

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Hey there, guys. SO. This isn't really a DIY (not that the others were, either) and maybe everyone knows this about glasses but I've spent much of my vision-impaired years confused about which frames are worth investing in and realized, recently, that when it comes to glasses frames, the options are ENDLESS.

Literally, endless -- and not in a literally, you guys sense but a LITERALLY literal sense. Literally. Because while eyeglasses tend to have a similar look, size and shape, SUNGLASSES come in every which way design OMG forever.

And so.

When I went in for my eye exam last month and it came time to pick a frame for my new prescription, I went with sunnies sans... sun..niness.

I had been heartbroken for months because Bo Destructosaurus'd my favorite pair (which I bought at a novelty shop for $10 and had fitted for my prescription lenses years ago.) Because they were made of the cheapest plastic ever it wasn't hard for them to break. I superglued them every week or so and then one day the glue just wouldn't hold. (So I taped them. And then one day the tape wouldn't hold either.)
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Anyway... when I found these Stella McCartney sunglasses at the sunglasses store, I thought HEY! THESE LOOK JUST LIKE THOSE OTHER ONES I BOUGHT FOR TEN DOLLARS THAT ARE HELD TOGETHER WITH GLUE, TAPE AND MY DIGNITY, So I purchased them, had them fitted with my prescription and the rest is history!

Anyway. To reiterate, for this DIY, you will need:

Any great pair of sunglasses
An optometrist/prescription from your optometrist
A week

And, then, BAM!
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New glasses. That do not look like anybody else's glasses because they're actually sunglasses. (You can do this with cheap glasses from 7-11 too. They just break... easier.)

Anyway.

Here are some more great frames that would rock as all-day spectacles:
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Lou/Moorea Seal/I love her lipstick
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Binoculars?
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Whatever you're into/put a prescription on it/Happy Spring Break for those who are Spring Breakin. May your glasses be filled with sun.

GGC

Story Time: I am a Pizza

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Over the last couple of weeks, Fable has been working on books in the back seat of the car.  Every morning on the way to school, Fable asks me or Archer to help her spell the words she wants to include in her books - some of the stories are about princesses and weddings and volcanos. There is a book about fairies and another book about fairies, but this particular story is about pizza. I didn't know anything about it until it was finished. She's like me that way. (NOBODY CAN READ THIS UNTIL EVERYONE CAN!)

She took it to school to share it with her class before bringing it home to show us.

The book is called I am a Pizza and it's about, in Fable's words, "Being yourself even when people want you to be like them. Like cookies or hot chocolate or mushrooms. Mushrooms might want you to be mushrooms like them and cookies might want you to be cookies like them but you're not cookies, you're a pizza. And at the end everyone knows that you are pizza because you told them. And then everyone is friends. That is what my book, 'I am a Pizza' is about. "

And it's perfect. One of the greatest children's stories ever written I think. 
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I had something in my eye on the last page because, hello. I mean, the whole crew is there, intermingling, rallying around pizza with acceptance -- the hot chocolate and the lettuce and the french fry and they're all just hanging out being their rockin' food selves. (When I asked Fable why she didn't color the last page she told me she wanted it to look different because it's the most important part of the book.)
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Because you're not cookies, you're a pizza. Go get 'em, pizzas of the word! And hot chocolates! And mushrooms and lettuce and cookies... and whatever food you feel like being today! If you accept yourself firmly and unapologetically, eventually, those around you will too.
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(It's like her name is Fable or something.)

GGC

Prints Charming (Giveaway)

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Ah, writing by hand... Those were the days, amirite? Not that my handwriting has ever been anything to write home about (zing?) but I've always been into handwriting and OPP (Other People's Penmanship). All those years passing notes in class, maybe?

Anyway.

For today's post, I got to chat with Jolie of Brim Papery, a custom paper goods company that is totally delightful. (You can follow her on Instagram, here.) 

GGC: You started your printing business last year (congrats!) and have been going strong since. Can you tell us a little bit about Brim Papery and what it means to start a paper goods company in these modern times of digital everything?

Jolie: I love what I can offer people through Brim Papery – that deeply personal, hand-drawn nature that seems to be fading so quickly in a world of digital art. Just about anyone can type up a print in a computer program and add in some clip-art, but to have someone letter your grandmother’s recipe by hand? Well, that’s another story.

GGC: You quit your teaching job to start a business at home. Can you tell us a little bit about that transition and what it's been like for you as a work-at-home mama?

Jolie: To be fair, I quit my teaching job just to stay home with my daughter and shortly after that, my business was born. My husband has a very demanding job and we decided for everyone’s sanity that I would stay home with our current and future littles.

I loved being at home (still do!) but felt a little awkward leaving the working world, and I longed for more structure and something to do that was exclusively for me, and that’s how Brim Papery was born. I am all about embracing feminist power and not letting social norms of any form make you feel bad about what you do, whether that be staying home with your babies, going out to a job, or doing a little of both, which is where I’ve landed.

Still, it was rough at first to leave a full-time career and move to working from home, personally and within my marriage. It’s hard to leave a job with a paycheck and other coworkers cheering you on to a job that you can do in stained yoga pants with only your mute infant looking on. It’s also tough to strike the balance between baby-rearing, housekeeping and entrepreneurship – all of which can very easily demand all of your time. I don’t claim to have that balance down, but ten months under my belt has taught me a few things.
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GGC: Any advice for those looking to start their own at-home businesses? 

Jolie: I by no means consider myself an expert (I have so much to learn!) but here are a few things I would offer:

Don’t wait to start! So many people think they need to have a business degree or years of preparation and getting every last thing in order, and I personally feel that’s very untrue. The fastest way I learned how to run my business the right way was trying to run it at all. Experience is the best of teachers.

Take yourself seriously. It may take you awhile to earn the understanding or respect of people in your life who don’t “get” your passion or the ins and outs of attempting to build a small business. That’s ok. You don’t need them to understand your dream or take it seriously, butyou need to do that for yourself. It will carry you miles. When other people see that you treat yourself like an entrepreneur and a professional, they will treat you that way, too.  

Lastly, be persistent. I’ve had to remind myself that nobody who is successful in any capacity became that way overnight. It usually took years of long nights, failed attempts, dry spells and frustration to get to their destination. Having a flopped idea or getting ignored by a blogger or a company doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means you still have work to do. Consider it a challenge to evaluate where you could grow and improve as a business!

GGC: Have you always been passionate about print and handwriting? (I've always had fourth-grader penmanship so I'm in utter awe when I see such beautiful handwriting. Yours is the dreamiest.)

Jolie: Thank you! As a kid I always loved to draw, and my dad always tried to nudge me in that direction by taking me to art classes at the local art museum when I was a child. He was always the biggest fan of my art and encouraged me to pursue it, but I wasn’t sure how to translate that into a career when it came time to choose a path in college, so I chose another passion (teaching Spanish!).

I have always loved making hand-made cards for my loved ones, and I’m sure my mother could pull out dozens from over the years (please don’t, mom). I am still so very flattered when someone who is a complete stranger loves what I do so much that they pay me money for it. You’d think I’d get past that, but I don’t. It’s a really wonderful feeling.
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GGC: What words-on-paper most represent YOU as a woman. What is the custom order you would make yourself?

Jolie: Wow, what a question! Words do something for me, so to try and narrow it down to one particular quote is a real struggle. I found a handful from Anne Lamott that I hold dear to my heart (that woman is my jam) but ultimately I landed on this one from Thich Nhat Hanh: Our own life has to be our message.

For me this embodies the challenge of getting over the temptation to talk circles around things, and instead to quiet down and have the courage and discipline to live a life that can speak for itself, whether it is in my business, my relationships, political stances, my personal passions, or elsewhere. I know that how I live my life speaks volumes over my words in regard to my character and integrity, so I am challenged that if I truly value or care about (a person) (a cause) (a passion) (an endeavor) then I shouldn’t have to talk about it endlessly, it should stand for itself in how I live.
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***

Jolie asked if she could make us a print for our house and I thought long and hard about what kind of message I wanted to send to my family and all who pass through this humble abode and came up with the following which is currently for sale in her shop/hanging in the entranceway of my house. 
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What about you guys? If you could hang one phrase in your entranceway, what would it be? Comment below to be eligible to win a $100 Brim Papery gift card c/o Jolie and Brim Papery. I'll pick the winner at random next Friday, April, 18th. In the meantime, you can get 20% off your Brim Papery order with code GGC20. Have a beautiful weekend, all! 

GGC

Screen Time...d

The following post was sponsored by Kid-do, an activity timeline app now available on Android and iPad. 
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I've been meaning to write the screen time post for months because I feel like it's necessary but haven't really had much of a story to tell until recently because somehow we've been able to dodge that bullet for the last several years. (Fable couldn't care less about games of any kind and while I'm sure Bo and Revi would LOVE to play iPad, we only have one and Hal takes it to work with him every day.)

Yes, there is TV. And yes we watch that thing on the daily. The little ones watch a couple shows in the morning as well as the late afternoon (Disney Jr, Sprout, PBS and Netflix) and we watch Idol (we are ten episodes behind, however) and COSMOS as a family. We have movie nights (Secret Life of Walter Mitty is on the docket for this weekend. Last weekend it was Napoleon Dynamite) and Frozen is on rotation at least once a week. (Revi calls Bo "my Elsa" and introduced a stranger to Bo by saying, "This is BoboMyElsa" which makes me want to cry because, hello.) We bust out the Wii once or twice a month to play Just Dance as a family and/or one of the Nintendoland games that came with the console. (We keep the system controls in the box out of reach of all hands when it isn't in use.)

The kids do not have iPads or iTouches or iAnythings and that will stay that way until they're old enough to convince us otherwise. This is extremely important to me and even more important to Hal who is the one person in our house to own an iPad. (He struggled HARDCORE with gaming addiction when we first met. Like, he would be up until 3am playing games when I was pregnant with Archer. This means he is SUPER aware of video games being potentially hazardous and addictive.)

The kids are allowed to play on it occasionally as a special treat... but super blue moon style. I don't have kid games on my phone so that's off the table, too. (BTW, and this is why I haven't posted about this, this is not a projection onto anyone else. Our anti-gamer thing is a personal choice and one that has a lot to do with what Hal and I were brought up with and how we feel comfortable raising our kids. You are awesome and amazing and we're all just doing what we do.)

That said, last year Archer started playing Minecraft at a friend's house. Pretty soon, whenever we planned playdates he insisted on going to said friend's house to play... because, well, DUH.

I was the same way growing up because my parents didn't let me watch television unless it was a nature show. (I know everything there is to know about marsupials and duck-billed platypus...es?)

It is a dangerous thing to be black and white with one's children and while my parents kept me rather sheltered as a child, they also listened to me when I asked them to open their minds to compromise.

My parents, like me, would rather I did what I was going to do anyway under their supervision.

SO. For Hanukkah/Christmas, Hal bought Archer Sim City for the family computer (which lives in the hallway nook). Archer's love of city planning and building worlds was palpable and we thought, this would be a good compromise. Archer would be able to play SIMS when his homework was done on weekdays and on Sundays/downtime day.

Except. He became obsessed with Sim City. He rushed through his homework so that he could play. He talked about the game non-stop. He stopped reading. And sketching. And writing short stories. And philosophizing about life and space. He didn't want to go outside and play. He didn't want to be with us on family outings. He just wanted to stay inside and play SIMS.

And when he wasn't playing, he was asking when he could play.

Frustrated, Hal and I pulled the plug.

Cold Turkey.

No more. 

We told him he would have to take a month hiatus from the game. That we would revisit it down the line but that he needed a break. He was addicted to playing and even though it was a BUILDING game (which is how we justified it for the months he was playing) it was still a GAME. In a virtual world. With no redeeming qualities that extended beyond his own satisfaction.

He became a different person when he was playing the game and although he only played an hour at a time, it was enough to alter his moods, his posture, his ambition.

After explaining this to Archer he agreed with us and told us he understood what we were saying. Which is just so Archer. He didn't fight us at all. He agreed that he had become borderline obsessed with the game and that he didn't want it to become the problem Hal and I felt it was becoming.

That was a month ago.

Fast forward to last week, when after asking (daily) if he could play SIM CITY again and me being like, "DUDE! PLEASE STOP ASKING, AHHH!" Archer wrote me a letter.

He wrote me a letter explaining why he felt that he was ready to play Sim City again and it was convincing, eloquent and reminded me of being his age and doing THE EXACT SAME THING with my parents. All through childhood... adolescence... adulthood.

I thanked him for the letter, told him I respected that he wrote it and thought he brought up some really interesting and convincing points. And then, after sussing the situation with Hal, we decided that Archer could start playing again... on a trial basis, four days a week, thirty minutes a day.

"And from there, we'll see how we go..."

Archer was happy.

I was happy.

Hal was... well... skeptical. But smiling? Kind of? (We actually got in a huge argument about all of this because in many ways he is the tougher parent and I'm kind of, well, easy... ish. I mean...  If you write me a convincing and beautifully written letter, I will likely do whatever you say/give you my kidney. Hal takes a bit of elbow grease in the convincing department.)

..Our only ask what that the 30 minutes be pretty set in stone so it didn't turn into a battle every time the microwave timer went off.

This was our first week doing the 30 minute timed game situation and so far so good. We used the Kid-do app instead of the microwave timer three rooms away because this way Archer could monitor his own game time, and when time was up, it didn't come as a frustrating shock. (Like a youtube video, you can SEE how much time has passed and how much time is left.)

In Kid-do's words:

By illustrating the passage of time as horizontal (rather than as circular), the Kid-Do Activity Timeline... demystifies time, helping ease (kids) through transitions. As they visualize the progression of time, they can measure for themselves how much time remains before the next Event...  With Kid-Do you can create daily or weekly routines like "bedtime" or "getting ready for school," and break them up into shorter activities... The timer shows you the exact time remaining in a whole routine as well as the number of minutes left in the activity going on at that moment. The Kid-Do Activity Timeline gives kids a visual representation of how much time they have left in a particular activity.

Word.

Time will tell if this is the right solution for us and whether or not there will be new letters written and new meetings had, but for me, as important as it is for Archer to realize his potential as someone who can do SO MANY amazing things with his time besides video games, so is it important for him to feel like he can say his piece and be HEARD.

So, while this has been a bit of a conundrum in our home these last few months, it has also been incredibly humbling. For all of us.
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What about you guys? How if at all do you monitor screen time? Video games? iThings? Television? As always, would love to hear from you. 

GGC
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