Bottling The ‘School’s Out’ Feeling

summerToday was my son Colin’s last day of Kindergarten. He catapulted out of bed this morning, excited to wrap up the school year and then head to a friend’s house for a “Welcome Summer!” pool party.

When I went to pick him up from the party, the mom who organized the get-together showed me a photo she took of the kids; watermelon filling their smiles, and fists up in the air hailing summer. The picture warmed my heart and I felt a wave of nostalgia come over me.

There’s nothing better than being a carefree kid. The joy of waking up the next day after school’s over and not having to deal with your regular routine. Visions of beach play dates and summer camp memories to come and making S’mores and chasing fireflies at night. Summer seemed to last FOREVER when you were a child, didn’t it? And it was awesome!

Looking at that picture of Colin and his friends, I really wish that I could bottle that energetic ‘school’s out’ feeling. Fortunately, he and my almost 4-year-old daughter have many years ahead to embrace their summers off. And while I watch them relax and enjoy it, I too feel myself letting go and starting to plot more sunshine breaks and figuring out ways to sneak in fun wherever I can.

Let’s look forward to all of the crankiness crushing summer moments that are in store for us.

HAPPY SUMMER!

xoxo

Not every day rocks.

somedays“If you had a less than stellar day, keep in mind that tomorrow might not suck!”

~Tara Rummell Berson, The Crankiness Crusher

 

Ah, the power of positive thinking! :-)

Take a swing at those curve balls.

Pitcher Preparing to Pitch BallIt has been eons since my last post, but as the new year approaches, I wanted to thank you for being a part of the Crankiness Crusher community, whether it be by reading my infrequent posts or by joining me on my Facebook page (where I update daily, by the way!).

I wish you many positive things for the year ahead, but most of all, I want you to enjoy the life you have while continuing to shape it to be exactly what you want. While life will undoubtedly throw you many curve balls, each day offers a chance to take a swing at them, and figure out the best way to finally reach your home plate of happiness.

Keep in mind that happiness isn’t always apparent. Sometimes you have to look for it. Realistically there’s always something good to be thankful for, even if it’s something as small as appreciating a nice e-mail that someone sent you or as meaningful as a hug from a person who truly cares for you. Look for the good in each day, or your “Crankiness Crushers” as I like to call them. They will help bring you out of a funk, lift your spirits, and they’ll help you spread positivity to those grouches out there who really need it!

Aside

Set off some fireworks in your own life!

Not an especially colorful shot of fireworks, but it’s one I took last night.

As I reflect on my country’s independence claimed 236 years ago, I’m reminded of the value of having your freedom. I’m not just talking about the freedoms we have in America, but the freedom we have to make decisions in our own lives. Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back from achieving what you want or what you NEED to be happy. Generate some sparks; set off some fireworks to keep things exciting! Then when you sit down and gaze up at the sky, you can smile as you envision all of the bright colors you’ve added to your world. A definite Crankiness Crusher.

The Importance Of Carrying On

Sometimes you just have to pick yourself up...

Sometimes it takes all of your will and every muscle in your body to just keep going. I’m here to remind you that even when you’re weary, you have to push forward. Feel free to take breaks along the way, but the quicker you move ahead, the faster you’ll meet the unexpected joys that await you.

You have the power to make it a good one.

There is so much possibility in today--and every day this year.

As many of us clink champagne glasses on New Year’s Eve, we often say “This is going to be a great year!” And in that moment, we are filled with such hope, optimism, and the excitement of either continuing a fab lifestyle or changing our luck because we’ve been granted another year to “make things happen.” I’m always giddy when ringing in a new year, and tend to forget how good or bad the previous one was, and instead start plotting how to make this year the best one yet.

Today, I logged out in my PJs all day and enjoyed a little downtime (finally!) with my family. Instead of zipping around, I just hung out, hugged my kids (and my husband who usually gets the shaft!), ignored my to-do list, and was thankful for a day of rest. I also began to think about some things that I’d like to accomplish this year; nothing that would stress me out, just some goals that I’d like to achieve sometime this year. Right now, so many things seem possible. I’m feeling rejuvenated by 2012′s newness. It’s like a breath of fresh air that I, and I’m sure many of you, desperately needed.

A Christmas gift that'll help us practice what we learn.

For me, this New Year has ushered in a feeling of wanting to improve myself. For the last few years, I’ve been so dedicated to fulfilling my kids’ needs that I had forgotten to tend to my own. Now that they’re getting a bit older (they’re 5 and 2 1/2), I have a little more time to actually think about what I want. For example, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument, but never pursued it. My son will be taking piano lessons this year (thanks to my generous in-laws), and I’ll have the opportunity to learn right alongside him. It’ll be a fun way to bond–a real crankiness crusher, I’m sure–and it’ll fill a hole in my life’s plan that I’ve wanted to address for a while.

Do you have any holes that you’d like to fill this year? Share them here if you’d like. Remember, that you have the power to dig up your dreams and manipulate the earth to make things happen! It’s gonna be a good year, everyone. I can feel it in my bones.

Cheers to 2012!

~Tara

Rediscovering the Magic of Christmas!

Originally posted on A Hopeful Sign on December 23, 2011:

Colin and the elfFor the past week, my 5-year-old son has been sprinting into our bedroom right after he wakes up and announcing how many days there are left until Christmas. The wonder and excitement shining in his eyes is contagious. Boy do I wish that I could bottle that feeling for those of us whose stomachs are in knots over our to-do lists before Santa’s impending arrival! Rather than enjoying the merriment of the season, so many of us are feeling stressed and exhausted by thoughts of card sending, gift buying, and present wrapping, which loom like sugar plums over our heads.

When anxiety kicks in, I try my best to take a step back and remember the true spirit of the holiday. This year, it’s my children who have really been shedding light on how magical this time of year is, and reigniting the hyperactive joy that I felt when I was a kid.

From watching classic Christmas movies with my kids to driving around at night checking out our neighbors’ personal Winter Wonderlands, I can feel the magic of Christmas enveloping me. Our eyes are wide as we gaze upon the beautiful Christmas lights, and our spirits are jolly as we belt out the lyrics to Christmas carols, giggling through the words we don’t know.

While being whisked off to “The North Pole” on a holiday train ride, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to my son ruminate over how Santa will get down our chimney and strategizing the  best place to put his cookies. My 2 ½ year-old daughter, on the other hand, is still deciding how she feels about the round man in the red and white suit who’s judging her every move, yet she repeats “Santa is my friend” like a mantra.

Their uncontained excitement over the holiday has inspired me to create new family traditions. Over the last few days, we’ve baked and decorated cookies with my cousin and her family and got crafty by designing our own foam Gingerbread boy and girl ornaments. I also bought ornaments that represent what my kids are going gaga over this year; a Cars 2 ornament for my son, and a Tinkerbell one for my daughter. I’ll do this every Christmas, and as the years progress, we’ll see how their interests have changed. It’ll be our own holiday-themed time capsule!

Another way that I’ve rediscovered the magic of Christmas is by watching my kids interact with Tinsel, our Elf on the Shelf. Christmas has also always been about being nicer to people—and not just because you want to avoid Santa’s “naughty list”.  Tinsel has been keeping the wee ones in check since they know he reports back to his big boss Santa about their behavior. Each morning, Tinsel appears in a different location in the house after he comes back from the North Pole. Today he showed up in our utensil holder on the kitchen counter!  My husband and I love listening to our kids ponder where he could possibly be as their little feet scamper through each room. I chuckle under my breath when I see them presenting their artwork or goodies to the elf or cracking silly jokes in an effort to win him over. And they would never dare touch him, because that know that if they do, he’ll lose his magic. It’s their belief in his magic—and the magic of the holiday—that has me looking at Christmas through my children’s trusting and untainted eyes.

During this festive time, we traditionally swap lots of recipes, especially for Christmas cookies. This year, however, I’d like to switch things up a bit and exchange recipes for rediscovering the magic of Christmas. Here’s mine, inspired by my children, and I’d love for you to share your ingredients as well.  Let’s keep our bellies and hearts full of wonder and belief during this special time of year!

Crankiness Crushing Magical Christmas Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 heaping TBS of wonder
  • A stick of faith
  • A pint of ho-ho-hope
  • ¾ cup of dreams
  • 8 fluid ounces of love
  • 1 cup of generosity
  • A few shakes of sweetness
  • A few handfuls of hugs
  • A healthy dash of positivity
  • And some mistletoe leaves to encourage you to kiss someone you love.

Directions:

Mix it all together and enjoy!

Llama love.

When I recently went to the Green Meadows Petting Farm with my family, I was ridiculously excited to be face-to-face with llamas. When I saw them, all I could think about was a catchy tune that I’d heard on “Sesame Street” (like over 30 years ago!) that played while I watched a little girl take her pet llama to the dentist  (random, I know!).

Like alpacas (which I ADORE), I consider llamas to be magical creatures that I just want to hug! Well, not only did I get to wrap my arms around two llamas, Muffin and Biscuit, but I also got to give Baby Biscuit a little goodbye kiss. Yes, I know this will gross out some of you, but you animal lovers out there will understand my affection and appreciation for these cuties!

Here’s photographic evidence of my crankiness crusher. Hope it brings a goofy llama-like smile to your face!

Got goals? Think of back-to-school time as back-to-YOU time!

Today’s crankiness crusher: I was thrilled to write another guest post for the magazine blog, A Hopeful Sign. AHS’s mission is to spread hope through living-learning-leading. If you have time, you should really check out all of the inspirational stories and photos on the site. And I’d LOVE it if you’d check out my latest piece about how you can put the back-to-school energy that’s in the air towards setting and accomplishing your own goals this school year. Life is short, make it count!

Originally posted on A Hopeful Sign on September 11, 2011:

http://ahopefulsign.com/living-to-learn/think-of-back-to-school-time-as-back-to-you-time

Decades of amusement.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that Vlad (my husband) and I took the kids to an amusement park that my brother and I used to go to when we were tots. Here’s proof:

This is my brother Tommy and me on the fire truck kiddie ride at Keansburg Amusement Park circa 1979(ish). Check out our groovy duds!

I wanted to replicate this photo with Colin & Anna, but the fire engines have now been replaced by a train (which you’ll see in the video I took below).

I was happy to see that the amusement park was still clean, and that it provided just as much inexpensive entertainment as it did over three decades ago. Colin enjoyed playing the water gun balloon game and somehow managed to make his pop exponentially faster than my husband. Vlad claims his was broken. Sore loser. ;-)

We had pizza and ice cream (don’t judge–it’s dairy!), and I bought some watermelon slices to ease my conscience about what we were eating. But on a day like this, sometimes you have to let go of all the, “This is what I SHOULD be doing” thoughts and just say to yourself, “What the hell, this is what I WANT to be doing!” When you let yourself chill, others around you can relax more easily, and you leave the day WIDE OPEN for lots of crankiness crushers.

Check out my wee ones chugging around on the choo choo. (Colin is wearing a green shirt and Anna is sitting behind him.) Ignore my brief commentary about it being the same train my brother and I used to ride. I didn’t realize that it was a fire truck until I came home and dug out the old photo!

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