Dinghy Rally

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So often these days kids are drawn to screens to play in virtual worlds. That’s part of the reason we enjoy boating so much – they are forced to enjoy the great outdoors. These school holidays we were rafted up on our boat with another family and the familiar whine of the kids proclaiming they were bored led us to make up a rally.

My husband and I did a reconnaissance mission to work out clues for the kids, then we put them into cryptic clues.

There were three dinghies each with two kids; a driver and a clue solver. Once the item was found they had to take a photo on their phone. This provided hours of entertainment (particularly as one of the yachts we had given a clue to find had sailed away after we wrote the clues!)

It was great to see the teamwork with the kids out independently cruising around in their dinghy, having to use their brains to try to work out the clues. My favourite clue was that they needed to find a mooring with three yachts on it. They were all obviously looking for three yachts rafted up together, but the name ‘3 yachts’ was actually written on a mooring. They had to cruise around and look at every mooring in the bay before they found it.

When they returned they all received a small prize for participation (in order to soften the blow that there was only one winner), and a small cash prize went to the winning team. The photos that were offered up for some of the answers were a stretch of the imagination for the clue, but for the most part they all found the majority of the answers (except of course the missing yacht).

The kids all had fun and we had fun watching them head off on wild goose chases when they misinterpreted clues. If only we’d insisted they had to find everything on the list, we could have had hours of peace and quiet until the missing yacht returned from its sail!

We’ve told the kids that next time they can write the clues and the adults will try to find them. I can just imagine their clues will be referencing pokemon characters and minecraft instruments just to leave us as bewildered as they were with some of the cryptic clues we gave them.

(Image courtesy of Simon Howden, Freedigitialphotos.net)

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It’s as easy as riding a bike  

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There are certain times throughout parenthood where you are faced with a scenario where you need to teach your child a skill, but may want to put it off as it is a tedious or painful task for you.

A prime example of this is when you teach your kids to ride a bike. They generally start riding bikes with the assistance of training wheels. These allow them to have a sense of freedom as they wobble side to side from one training wheel to another, never having to really master balancing the bike.

Your child knows the basics of riding a bike and they can ride for fun. You have that internal conversation with yourself whether you bite the bullet and teach them how to balance and ride, or is it easier (for both you and the child) to let them use training wheels until they are an adult? It’s one of those jobs that you know is going to back-breaking but eventually you have to dedicate the time to teach them a life long skill. This means you have to try to hold the bike seat whilst running alongside the child, all the while barking orders and trying to not let the bike fall over sending the kid (and/or you) over the handlebars. It’s not an exercise for those with weak backs as it is unnatural to twist your back, pulling and pushing on the bike frame, whilst running.

My son loved riding his bike as a toddler and insisted we remove his training wheels at two years of age. As you can imagine, his bike barely reached my knees, so running, twisting, bending and manipulating the bike was a nightmare. Thankfully he was so motivated that he picked it up quite quickly, whereas my daughter was seven before we could convince her she needed her training wheels removed.

Apart from having to manipulate your body into what resembles a yoga pose while running, it also takes a bit of deception to make the child think you are holding them, while intermittently letting go in the hope that they will start to balance the bike by themselves. Eventually they will get the knack and before you know it, your hard work has paid off. They will eventually have a skill that they can recall and use anytime in life – hence the saying, ‘it’s like riding a bike’.

There is immense relief once you have taught your child to ride a bike (assuming that is without injury to you, the child or the bike) and the effort seems worthwhile. So if there is a task you have been putting off with your child, embrace the challenge and give it a go – there’s no time like the present.

(Picture courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

Kids birthday parties aren’t what they used to be!

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When I was a kid, birthday parties used to consist of a few friends coming to our house or a local park. We would play pass the parcel (the variety where there was only one winner) and maybe run a 3 legged race. We would eat fairy bread and have a homemade cake – and we loved it!

Fast forward to my kid’s generation and every party seems to be bigger than Ben Hur! Every party seems to have a theme and you almost need an event planner to pull it off! A few years ago our family went to a kid’s carnival themed party that had full size rides, bouncy castles and a disco at their house. My daughter went to a party last year that had approximately 100 kids as guests and had a DJ and a photo booth.

My daughter is turning thirteen this week and she is having an ‘international’ party where the guests are to come dressed in national dress of their choice of country. My daughter scanned a passport and made individual invitations for each guest with their photo and a description of the ‘itinerary of their trip (aka party)’. I’ve been receiving RSVPs addressing me as the ‘travel agent’.

We have purchased six foot tall cardboard decorations to reflect a number of countries and they will be spotted around our house with food from those nations available to eat at each country (eg. pastries in France, pizza in Italy, chocolate in Switzerland etc).

Thirteen is a funny age, as they want to be independent teenagers yet I still have to make lolly bags for the kids when they leave.

I have a rule in my house that the kids can’t have a birthday party at home between the ages of fourteen and eighteen as these are the years where you run the risk of underage drinking occurring. Over the past few years, my eldest daughters have celebrated their birthday by just going out to dinner with a few friends. Needless to say, my eldest is very excited at the prospect of having a birthday party at our place to celebrate her eighteenth in a few months. I have mixed emotions about it, as I enjoy a party as much as the next person, but I’m concerned over gate-crashers and young adults drinking too much when we are responsible for them. Anyway – I’ve still got a few months to come to terms with that. Right now I need to focus my attention on the international celebrations this weekend – if the kid’s can’t find me, I might be in ‘France’ drinking champagne 🙂

What is the most extravagant kid’s party you have attended?

(Image courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

Pop Up Frustration

  As I sit in a park writing this post I silently giggle to myself at a well meaning grandma wrestling with ‘pop up’ soccer goals. 

My amusement stems from the countless times I’ve found myself in the same position with pop up goals, sun shelters and tents. It’s like the inventors of these products number one priority when designing was how they could best humiliate parents in public. 

I once literally wrestled with a sun shelter for at least half an hour on a crowded beach. It first brought sniggers from my husband but by the end of the ordeal I was sure that I was entertaining the whole beach. I didn’t want to give in! Eventually I succumbed to following the instructions which I found printed on a tag inside the bag and low and behold it actually collapsed into a neat circle to be packed away within seconds. 
I thought after that experience that I had learned the key to collapsible shelters but to this day every time I touch one of those things it ends in frustrated groans. There must be a sweet spot that I can never seem to find. 

I’ve now just watched the granny carry the soccer goals (fully open) over towards her car. At least she has the sense to give up early. I feel bad that I haven’t offered her assistance but given my track record I think she’s found the perfect solution! 

Surely I’m not alone in this frustration. Have you had a similar experience?

‘Horrorscopes’ a twisted tale

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My new short story is now available on kindle for 99c.

http://www.amazon.com/Horrorscopes-twisted-tale-Joanne-Nicholson-ebook/dp/B00XJ27QYE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1431427013&sr=1-1&keywords=joanne+nicholson

When a little old gentleman goes into a bustling café to place an order for coffee he is ridiculed and humiliated for not being able to place his order electronically. Upset, he slams down a tattered old magazine on the counter, telling the crowd that karma will come back to haunt them. 

As each person who picks up the discarded magazine reads their horoscope, they are surprised to find that it is accurate – but maybe not in the way they first imagined. 

After reading this short story, you may not look at your horoscope in the same way ever again! 

Check it out now – it may be short but it certainly isn’t sweet!

APP-PALLING WASTE OF TIME  

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My youngest children use the same Apple ID as me so I can keep track of the apps they want to download onto their devices. This gives me the total discretion to decide whether the game/app is suitable and stops them from having open slather to purchase or download apps as they please.

The flip side to having them using the same Apple ID, means that the apps get automatically downloaded onto my devices. I don’t mind this, as it actually allows me to use the app to see that the description of the app has been accurate and that it is appropriate for my kids. The downside of ‘checking out’ these apps, is that I find myself spending hours playing these addictive little games that my kids enjoy.

Last Christmas I took great delight in ‘Elfing’ myself and watching my over-sized head on some phenomonal hip-hop dancer’s body grooving to a funky christmas carol. Come on – admit it – you did it too! Or if you didn’t, you should as it really is worth the chuckle!

The latest craze for my kids is a game called ‘Crossy Road’ where you try to get a pixilated chicken to cross the road without getting hit by a car. Simple and boring I hear you say – but no! It’s addicitive because you are sure you can beat your prior record. First the chicken wants to cross a road, then there’s a trainline and eventually a stream. Just when your brain is telling you to grow up and get on with real life, you win a cow. Then it’s a whole new game! You now want to get the cow to cross the road. It’s embarrassing that I’m entertained by such a simple game!

I have come to the conclusion that these apps are appropriate for my kids, just not for me as I find myself wasting time on trivial games. I have however worked out the riddle ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ – the answer, so you can win a cow!

Please tell me I’m not alone – let me know if you too have been sucked into the vortex of time wasting games, in the interest of researching them for your kids!

(Picture courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)

BIG MOTHER

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My teenage daughters enjoy watching ‘Big Brother’, so I have seen snippets of the show in passing. This week, in an effort to inject a bit of fun (and less nagging) into our household, I adapted a task from that show to get my kids to do as they are asked.

The premise is simple – ‘Big Mother’ (my alter ego for this week) will offer the housemates (aka my kids) the opportunities to do tasks (ie. chores). They each only have one chance to not immediately complete their task or they are eliminated from the competition.

At the end of the week, the remaining housemates who have completed all tasks are involved in a cash grab. I will stand at a balustrade from our second storey and each housemate will get an opportunity to catch $5 notes that I throw down. My husband and I practiced the cash grab to make sure that you can actually catch some money, but that it is challenging enough that hopefully the kids won’t catch too much!

The kids and I have been having great fun as I periodically call out to one child or another “This is Big Mother. Please report to the bathroom, you have 3 minutes to brush your teeth – do you accept this task?” or “All housemates, please report to the dining room.” For fun I even add in a few fun tasks, like when I asked my daughter if she would accept the task of doing 10 star jumps!

So far, this week has seen the kids being attentive and chores being done promptly. I’m all for thinking outside the box to come up with new and interesting schemes to get my children to do as they are told. Maybe I should start watching ‘Big Brother’ regularly to get more inspiration to help manage the kids.

What wacky schemes have you used to motivate your kids?

(Picture courtesy of nirots, freedigitialphotos.net)