DIY Reaction Contraction (aka Ball Wall)

One of my favorite places in Indy to take my kids is the Children’s Museum. It never gets old to them and it gives me a place to take the kids when they’re bored at home. And while we’re there, It gives me great ideas of things to do with them at home as well.

Did I tell you that I’m writing a monthly post for the Children’s Museum about doing just that? Each month I get to write about how the museum exhibits spark ideas and activities for us to do at home. You can check out my posts by clicking Right! Here! (go ahead! Click!)

This month we decided to make our own Reaction Contraction, also lovingly known in our house as the “Ball Wall.” Reaction Contraption at Playscape

It’s my boys’ favorite part of the entire museum so we cheaply and quickly made one to play with at home. So I thought I’d share how we did it.DIY Reaction Contraction

So fun (kid-tested, ages 18 mos to 12 years). Super easy (um, do you know me?). Super cheap (under $7).

Here’s what you’ll need:Supplies

  • various sizes of empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls (I used 14)
  • a display board (mine was 36 in x 24 in)
  • enough felt to cover the board (mine took about 1/2 yard)
  • Velcro (we used about 22 inches of the scratchy side only)
  • hot glue gun (it took 2 sticks)
  • scissors
  • a small, lightweight ball (like a ping pong ball)

We started about a month ago by saving paper rolls as they were emptied around the house. I cut out a section running the length of the roll. On the longer rolls, I just cut out a small section of each end so that it resembled a tunnel, big enough that a ball could roll in and out of easily.

I then cut about 1.5 inch pieces of the scratchy side of the Velcro. (See how uncrafty I am? I don’t even know what that side is called.) I hot glued one piece on the small toilet paper rolls and two pieces (one of each end) on the longer rolls. Make sure to secure the Velcro to the side of the roll and not the side opposite of where you cut. Remember, it needs to stick to the board so that the open side faces up.Track pieces

We also had some old display boards the kids use to paint projects on while inside the house. Any kind of sturdy display board or cardboard will work. I laid the board on top of the felt and cut around the board leaving a 1-2 inch border. Work your way around the board, squeezing the hot glue in small sections onto the board and then folding over the felt onto the hot glue to tightly secure it to the back of the board, fully covering the opposite side of the board with felt.IMG_7493

Now PLAY! I started by setting up a pattern that I thought would work and let Lucas (4 years old) put the ball down the first time. He attempted to fix the places that failed and kept maneuvering the track pieces so it would go all the way down.

Then I took them all off and had him create his own track. It was super simple but he was so happy and proud of himself when it worked.IMG_7503

Then Cami (8 years old) and Alaina (12 years old) lined up for turns. I had to make Alaina stop to go to bed. I had NO idea either of them would even look twice at it, but they had a great time trying to out-do each others’ designs.

So the next time you’re at the museum, look to see how you can bring those favorite exhibits home with you. We had so much fun recreating our own Ball Wall. :)

reflections and changes

Today I saw myself in the reflection of the car window. This isn’t something new. Obviously. But what I saw made me realize that I had been living the days of the last month in a complete fog. Not reflecting on what I was seeing, hearing or feeling. I was just doing.reflectionI stopped writing. I stopped choosing to love. Not intentionally, but I just got… sidetracked. October got busy. Days and nights and weekends were full of scheduled activities for the kids. Adam and I were leaving for a 6-day trip to London so I had to get things done at work, childcare planned, directions, phone numbers, medical release forms written and signed. Adam was working through his busiest month of the year at the office.

And then we left for six days last week on a whirlwind trip to London, with a day in Paris thrown in because when will we ever have the chance to go to Paris if we don’t go now? (Our trip is a whole post for itself. That’ll come soon.)

But then we came back this last Tuesday night and I swear I can’t hardly remember what’s happened the last 2.5 days since we returned because reentry is a bitch. Let me say it again: REENTRY IS A BITCH. Being on that kind of trip, for that long, with no responsibilities, just walking and touring and more walking around an amazing and beautiful city full of grand sights and rich history is stupid hard to come home from. Eating and drinking and laughing with 21 other people for six days? Not doing dishes or making your bed or being woken up in the middle of the night or tending to a crying child for six days? Those were good days…

Don’t get me wrong. I missed my babies like mad. But not the responsibility of being an adult that comes with real life back at home. That I could live without for a few more days…

See, reflection is tough. Sometimes it’s really good. Really, really good. Like reflecting on a wonderful trip to London. But when you really see yourself for the first time in a month? Tough. It’s just hard to see your reflection and not really know who you’re looking at. Going through the actions of being a mom, a wife, yes. But I feel like maybe I’ve lost a bit of ME in that time. I’m not sure exactly why. I think maybe I’ve taken a step back and have just watched life play out in front of me rather than being an active participant in it. I just haven’t felt like playing I guess.

Sometimes when things get hard it’s just easier to step back and watch because you don’t have the energy or desire to do anything about it.

Sometimes you realize you need to change those things but don’t know how. Or don’t want to admit how.

Sometimes you realize you need to change those things but don’t want to because it feels comfortable and because you wonder if maybe the pain of figuring out why it’s hard isn’t worth the change.

And sometimes you write a post that makes you realize that that’s exactly when you need to change those things the most.

So here’s to making hard changes. Cheers…

 

 

choosing to love

Sometimes I’m too naive. I like to think I’m just optimistic. Thinking the best about people/situations. But I’ve learned recently that I’m also very naive.

I recently reconnected with an old “friend” via Facebook. He wasn’t my boyfriend. We never actually dated.  But I fell for him hard my senior year of high school and we had a deep connection. He became a very close friend by the time we graduated but our relationship, whatever it had evolved into, ended abruptly, shortly after the start of college.

Abruptly and completely. And I was heartbroken. I had lost a friend and more than that. With no explanation and only my own thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head telling lies and truths and not knowing which was which.

Years passed (18 to be exact) and we spoke maybe twice. The last time we spoke or had any interaction was 13 years ago. I’ve actually written about it before here. It’s interesting how you hold on to memories when you don’t have closure…

So when we became Facebook friends last month I had a naive expectation about how it would look. I’d browse his Facebook page, see who he’d become, where he was. He’d do the same. We’d say “hey, good to see you again” and sporadically like each others’ pics and posts.

It didn’t quite work that way. It’s too easy to go back to the past, remember those feelings. I was naive in thinking that wouldn’t happen…

A few days later, a friend invited me to pray for Adam every day during the month of September. We had spoken about this a week or so before and the timing couldn’t have been better. Adam and I were in a fine place in our marriage, but at the same time I was reconnecting with someone I had loved and cared for very much in the past. I knew I needed to proactively protect my marriage in every way possible because no one else would do that but me.

So I made a strategic choice to love Adam more. To love him better. To love him purposefully. To pray for him each day. To pursue him lovingly. And it has worked.

I feel more connected to him than I have in years. Actually, I’m not sure that I can remember the last time I felt like this. I have (re)found a love for him that feels alive and real.

I keep asking myself why I haven’t done this before? Made a CHOICE to love my husband? We’ve been through rough times. Where I wasn’t sure I could picture living the REST OF MY LIFE *together* with him.  Why didn’t I choose to love him in those times? To protect and guard my marriage then like I am now?

Let’s be honest. For most of us, it’s not another person that is coming between, or causing problems in, our marriages. It’s disagreements about parenting, money, hormones, the way we speak to each other, lack of respect, not loving ourselves… I could go on and on.

But we can make a choice EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. to love our spouse more. Because after this long, it HAS to be a choice. The butterflies go away and day to day life, STAGES of life, get in the way and change dynamics. Kissing him goodbye in the morning and goodnight before bed becomes a ritual. But let me tell you. CHOOSING to love someone? It changes all of it.

So I challenge you to make the choice. The choice to love your spouse. Love him better. Love her more. Love him deliberately. Love her purposefully. CHOOSE love in all the moments of the day. And look at him like you love him. Like you really, deep-down mean it.

Because you *will* mean it. And it’ll feel amazing. I promise.

confessions

Today I shared on Facebook that “I shamelessly admit to loving Enrique Iglesias’s new song “Bailando.” And I first heard it on Radio Disney with my girls. So there.”

So I thought I might as well fess up my whole new gym playlist I created on Spotify last week since it includes several more songs I could “shamlessly admit to.” And since apparently I didn’t ask the right questions when the cable guy came today, I’m hanging out by myself while Adam’s on the phone trying to figure it out…

Here’s my dancey little list of songs I work out to now (in no certain order). And do dishes to. And fold laundry to. And make dinner to. You get the picture.work out songs

  1. “Really Don’t Care” by Demi Lovato : Man I wish this song was out when I was in high school. It is a great break-up moving on song.
  2. “Love Never Felt so Good” by MJ and JT : I mean, MJ and JT. Nuff said.
  3. “Not a Bad Thing” by JT : Will someone please pay him to sing this to me for my birthday?
  4. “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias : I can’t stop doing the two Latin dance moves I learned from a Columbian friend at my first job out of college. This song makes you move.
  5. “Shake it Of”f by TSwift : “It’s like I’ve got this music in my heart saying it’s gonna be alright.” Girl, I can’t control my shoulders when this song comes off. I really love it. And Lucas thinks he can break dance after watching the video, so it makes the song even better.
  6. “On the Floor” by JLo : You know my obsession with JLo, right?
  7. “Suit & Tie” by JT : Noticing a trend here?
  8. “Take a Walk” by Passion Pit : Seriously one of my new favorite songs at the suggestion of a great friend. Like, you have to go listen to it now. It’s so great.
  9. “Little Secrets” by Passion Pit : Another great new find to me with a fun tempo that keeps you moving.
  10. “My Love” by JT : An oldie but goodie. Oh, so good. Maybe one of my favorite JT songs of all time.
  11. “Love Runs Out” by OneRepublic : I saw them in concert this summer thanks to my mom and it made me love this band. (Along with The Script who opened for them. Amazing live music, these two bands.)
  12. “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna : I’m generally not a big fan of Rihanna, but this one reminds me to keep going.
  13. “Timber” by Pitbull and Keisha : I seriously about barfed when I found out that Keisha was the one singing in this song the other day, but oh well. I love the song and it reminds me of one of my favorite routines from Zumba.
  14. “Let it Go” from Frozen : Because Let it Go from Frozen.
  15. “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis : I feel like their music reminds me of good rap music that made me love it when I was a teen rather than most of the crap rap they make now.
  16. “White Walls” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis : This song just makes me feel cool when I listen to it. Let me pretend.

What’s on your work-out playlist? As much as I’m listening to these, I’m sure I’ll need some additional songs soon.

And if you live in downtown Indy and want to join me at the gym, I’d love a partner. :)

Call me Carny

I think we’re going through (Indiana State Fair) withdrawal. Ferris Wheel

Monday, Lucas woke up and said to Alaina, “Can we ask Mommy to take us to the fair today?” And we waved at the fairgrounds as we drove by on the way to Target. Sniff.

Yesterday, I tweeted: “I believe that teaching your child to love the @IndyStateFair is extremely important. At least I have succeeded in one part of parenting.” Sniff sniff.

This evening, as I saw the weather for the tomorrow, I thought, “Oooh! It would be a great day for the fair!” WAAAAHHHH.

We visited the fair four times and I worked at the elephant ear stand three times. I was at the fairgrounds 7 of the 17 days of the fair. And honestly, I wanted to be there more than that. Where else can you see such a diverse group of people commune in one place on purpose?

Where your kids actually want to be close to each other?

Kids in tire

Where you can see Olaf made out of canned goods?Olaf

Where your oldest big city daughter asks for a cow?Alaina with calf

Where you seriously think your son has fallen deeply in love with a calf he just met?Lucas and Calf

Where the baby doesn’t care what part of an animal he’s looking at?Isaac with pig

Where you can actually milk a cow? Like, FOR REAL MILK A COW?!milking a cow

Where you come home from pretending to be a carny by working at the elephant ear stand still saying “Elephant ears come with a free small soda tonight” with your skin smelling (and tasting) like cinnamon sugar?elephant ear stand

Where you quickly realize that this year you don’t have to push your little boy around on the tractor when he takes off so quickly you hardly have time to take a picture?tractor

For some reason I feel content during the State Fair. And content is a pretty big word for me. I don’t use the word often or lightly. Being content (for me) is really hard. But during the fair? I’m simply… content. Fully and completely. And it shows.content

I can’t wait for next year’s fair. It’s like a little vacation from real life but just 10 minutes from my house. Where my kids and I love every single part of what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel while we’re there.

Until next year Indiana State Fair. Until next year…

small things and the Indiana State Fair {GIVEAWAY!}

A couple weeks ago in church, I was kind of put in my place.

See, I’ve always been very irritated with how poor people eat. I’m not gonna lie. Standing in line behind someone using food stamps to purchase crap food has always been a huge struggle for me. And I was always so confused why women couldn’t figure out what WIC vouchers cover.

And then my eyes were opened by one comment at church: People who live in poverty don’t have access to grocery stores that provide good food choices – they live by gas stations and convenience stores.

So I started doing some research. I found my zip code in Indianapolis (46202) has the highest percentage of population below the poverty level. Poverty

Want to know something even crazier? There’s only ONE major grocery store in my ENTIRE zip code. One Kroger that we lovingly call GK (Ghetto Kroger) or Kroghetto. Not a single Marsh, Meijer, Aldi or Target. When I search for “grocery stores in Indianapolis 46202″ only Kroghetto shows up. How are people living in poverty, heavily relying on public transportation, shopping at grocery stores with healthy food options? They simply aren’t.

To research further, I looked at the WIC food requirements. Have you seen them?! Holy details Batman. Take a look: http://www.in.gov/isdh/files/WIC_Program_Booklet_English.pdf. Seriously. Just take a few minutes and look at the requirements of what you can purchase with WIC. Two examples:

  1. You can only buy a dozen large or extra large white eggs (not medium, not 1/2 dozen, not brown, not cage free, not even the brand Eggland’s Best).
  2. You can only buy peanut butter in 16 – 18 oz. jars and you cannot buy: spread, organic, mixed with jelly, marshmallow, honey, Smucker’s Natural, Fifty 50, Jif Omega 3, Smart Balance, Krema, Better’n Peanut Butter, Health Valley, Reese’s, or even natural peanut butter.

These are only two examples. There are so many restrictions on even healthy items you can buy it would take a crazy amount of time to plan and then also to shop. It makes my head swirl and I’m a completely competent, seasoned, healthy food grocery shopper. Add taking your kids with you to the grocery store with you and I think I might lose it. For real.

So when I read about easy simple ways I can help my community feed those who are hungry, I get excited. Insert another thing I get (overly) excited about: the Indiana State Fair. Put them together?! YEEHAW!!!

Indiana State Fair attendees who follow the Indiana’s Family of Farmers (IFOF) Recipe Trail at the fairgrounds will help feed the hungry (and receive a kitchen towel printed with a food safety tip). For each person who finishes the trail, IFOF partners with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) to donate one pound of food to food banks across the state. Last year, recipe trail travelers donated $8,372 worth of food. Let’s do better this year.

All you have to do is collect recipe cards from 10 locations around the fairgrounds and bring them to the IFOF booth at the DuPont Food Pavilion where you’ll receive your towel and get counted as a donor of a pound of food. (Extra perk: The booth also features a chance to register for a grand prize of a Frigidaire® chest freezer.)

One side of the IFOF recipe card features a recipe from a real farmer around Indiana and highlights Indiana’s commodities such as pork, beef, poultry, soybeans, corn and dairy, along with an Indiana wine pairing. (Yay!) On the reverse side of the card, fairgoers will meet the farmer and read a personal story from his or her family.

You can find the recipe cards at:

  • Exposition Hall (Rose Acre Farms booth)
  • DuPont Food Pavilion (3 stops: Purdue, Indiana Beef, Indiana Wine & Grape Council)
  • Habitat for Humanity Ag House
  • Indiana Farm Bureau Building
  • Glass Barn
  • Normandy Barn
  • Pathway to Water Quality
  • Final stop/recipe redemption point: IFoF booth at DuPont Food Pavilion

While I know going to the state fair and completing the recipe trail isn’t going to fix poverty, it *is* going to help. What’s that saying? Sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact? I mean, you’re already going to the fair, so you might as well do a small recipe trail. It’ll have an impact. I promise.

OH WAIT! You don’t have tickets to the state fair yet?! LUCKY FOR YOU because, thanks to my fine friends at Indiana’s Family of Farmers, I have a 4-pack of Indiana State Fair tickets to give away! (Which opens FRIDAY by the way! YEEHAW!!!)

All you have to do is leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about the Indiana State Fair. Easy peasy, but required.

Want additional entries? Earn up to two additional entries by completing each of the following:

  • Share this post on Facebook (and come back leaving me a comment telling me you did so).
  • Follow me on Twitter (@katieunscripted) and tweet about this giveaway, linking back to this post. (Something like “Win 4 tickets to the @IndyStateFair where you can do the @FamilyofFarmers recipe trail benefiting @FeedINsHungry. http://wp.me/p2QiXQ-m2″) Again, come back and leave me a link to your tweet.

(Sorry, while you’re welcome to share and tweet all you’d like about this giveaway, only one FB share and one tweet will count. Giveaway runs from now until 11:59pm on Friday, August 1st. Winner will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. No exceptions.)

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Disclosure: As an IFOF Ambassador, I received four tickets to attend the Indiana State Fair and four tickets for this giveaway. This is a sponsored post. Though, as always, all thoughts and opinions are completely mine. (Let’s be honest – my love for the fair isn’t news to anyone.)

(a different kind of) porch party

Oh boy, here it comes…

I’m angry. Like really angry. Like really, really angry.

I’m involved in a conversation online that I should never have entered. I take that back. I’ve been steaming about it for awhile now and I finally said a tiny bit of my opinion and it’s spiraling and I’m starting to shake.

Here’s the final straw that made me enter the conversation about this ongoing issue I’ve been seeing consistently in our neighborhood online group recently:tipping point

I know there have been quite a few break-ins throughout our neighborhood. (We were one, remember?) I know that crime is crazy in Indianapolis right now. I read it. I see it. I feel it. I feel a pull at my heart that the people in my city don’t value life right now. That they don’t respect others in (and out of) their community. I feel it hard.

I understand being on edge. I understand feeling hypersensitive. Shoot, I called 911 Saturday night because we thought someone was breaking into our house when it turned out to actually be a huge raccoon scaling up the downspout to our 2nd story. (For what, we have NO idea.)

But let me tell you this. If you, FOR ONE INSTANT, think that profiling the people that look different than you isn’t just as harmful to our city, you are VERY, VERY WRONG. (If I could bold that more I totally would.)

Be alert. Watch out for your neighbors. But calling the cops about a “black man walking down the alley looking through trash cans” and posting about it to the ‘hood is going to far. It’s not illegal, first of all. And you’re throwing it away, so who cares?! I mean, obviously you, but COME ON.

And you keep seeing “homeless people” walking around the ‘hood? You must have good conversations with them if you find out they’re homeless. Oh, you don’t actually KNOW they’re homeless, you just think they LOOK homeless?

And freaking out because a pick-up truck is just sitting in the alley in the middle of the day and there’s no driver in it and now you feel scared and want people to make sure all their doors are locked? Hmmm…

If you moved to the north side of downtown because you thought it was all cool and hip and wealthy and white and perfect, you should have done some more research. It *is* cool and hip (and often wealthy and white) but it’s also extremely diverse and different and totally UNPERFECT. Which is exactly why we’re here. Don’t ruin it for us by freaking out every time someone walks on your public sidewalk.

So I’m checking out of this neighborhood online group. And I’m just going to talk to people at the park. And on walks. And while I weed my front flower beds. porch party

Oh, and on my porch. Where I’ll sit and drink if I want. And because I look like you, will never have the cops called on me. It’s way more fun than reading people freak the freak out over people who look different than they do.

 

I had intended to write this beautiful post about community and the city-wide porch party that took place on Sunday, but this is what came out instead. Oops…