Compact to pack along with so many game options! I can never recall how many cards go with which game due to senility or sangria, so whatever the reason, printing and bringing along a copy of the rules for your favourite games is a good idea.
"Snipe Hunt" is a classic outside activity, but you can play it inside too. We received the electronic version of Snipe Hunt (if you've never heard of this legendary prankster game you can read about it here). The Snipe Hunt Game can be played with two people or in teams. The object it to be the first to find the other team's Snipe and return it to its nest. After a period of time, if the Snipes haven't been discovered, they'll chirp and then their eyes will light up. Each game comes with two Snipes, (named Biela and Smartin) and a Snipe nest. It's fun to play indoors, especially in the dark. And when the sun returns, you can take the action outside.
Pack a few "Paint By Number" projects or other compact craft kits that have all the supplies included. They're flat and easy to pack along in case of "Boredom Emergency." Rainbow Looms may or may not fall into this category depending on how independent your kids are. If you are required to help, this particular craft may backfire. Trust me on this one. (Also... how annoying is it to find tiny elastics all over the house??)
All kids love to draw. So as long as you have plenty of paper (grab a stack of newspaper print notepads from the Dollar Store) and some kind of writing utensils, you've bought yourself a few minutes of rainy day serenity. My kids like to draw mazes and then challenge us to solve them. It really isn't much of a challenge, but they'll never know that. You can buy pre-made travel Craft Kits, but $20? Really? It's easy and inexpensive to make one up yourself. Buy a cheap travel make-up bag and stock it with a glue stick, scissors, a little ruler for drawing straight lines, pencils, a sharpener, erasers, and a few pencil crayons and markers and you're good to go.
While you're at the Dollar Store buying sketch pads, pick up a pack of brown paper lunch bags. Kids can use the markers from your cool craft kit to make puppets. They can create their own characters and script or read (e.g. anything by Shel Silverstein) for inspiration—then put on a puppet show or stage a play!
Novels, picture books, magazines—these are essential MUST PACKS. But don't forget about trivia or joke books, books with word searches and mazes or riddles, flash cards, and quizzes too. I bought—'The Best Book In The World Because I Made It'—for my son. It's rather cool because you can customize the cover with letter tiles. The inside is filled with simple comics to finish, doodle activities, and places to write his own stories. I kind of want to keep it for myself...
I don't play head games, but board games? I'm in! We just bought this game called slamwich to bring with us to the cottage. We haven't played it yet, but I'll report back when we do. This purchase *may* have been influenced by the fact that I hadn't eaten lunch yet. Also, the clerk assured me that it's lots of fun. Be sure to pack along your favourites (small but entertaining). If you forget, you can always have the kids use their trusty paper and markers to make up their own handrawn games. They'll be awful and boring and they probably won't make any sense, but it will definitely kill some time. What? You know it's true.
Hopefully the sun will shine brightly on you and yours all summer, but if it DOES rain, what are some of your favourite rainy day activities? Feel free to leave your suggestions or share a link in the comments.
RELATED: Why You Should Keep Your Kids Letters from Camp off Facebook
Perhaps as a by-product of the hyper politically correct society we've created, the word fat has become the new "F" word. You can no longer elude to fatness in public without running the risk of being called a "Fat Shamer"—even if you're referring to yourself! I called myself "Skinny Fat" online and it ruffled some feathers. Skinny has also become a shameful word. It's the new S word, so my using skinny and fat in the same breath was scandalous.
For the record, I am not a Fat Shamer. Though I admit to fat shaming my brother's cat. We call him Fat Miggy on account of him being super fat. He doesn't appear offended here, does he? Calling him a fat cat is an innocent rhyme, not a hate crime in my opinion.
The fact is I am the definition of Skinny Fat. Unfamiliar with the term? You can read more about it here. Essentially Skinny Fat describes somebody who appears thin-ish, but carries extra visceral subcutaneous fat—lots around the organs. This is unhealthy. I know this because my doctor said, "This is unhealthy."
Over the past few years I've gained some extra padding around the middle and some 'round back for good measure. I feel sluggish and I've been diagnosed with hypertension. I'd be a big fat liar if I didn't also admit that being overweight is a blow to my vanity. My clothes don't fit properly, and my arms are what my kids call "Hiya Helens" and shorts are just...nope. Oh look, I just fat shamed myself. I do that a lot. Fat shaming a cat is one thing, but fat shaming yourself? This is neither healthy nor productive. It's just that I'm uncomfortable. I'm constantly adjusting the way I sit/move/dress/act to accommodate for the extra weight. I hate it.
But what I hate MOST is the anxiety I have about not taking care of myself properly. As a parent, I can't stomach the thought of leaving my children without a mother. High blood pressure at the age of 45 is a legit concern. Not to mention optional. If I lose the weight and move my body, well, problem solved.
So in theory it's an easy fix. But, fat chance of that happening while I'm this busy and tired and stressed and on a deadline and whatever other excuses I can drum up.
*This is one of my Before Photos. (Please, don't ask when the baby is due. There is no baby. Well, maybe a food baby.)
A few months ago I finally stopped making excuses and started making changes.
I joined a gym (and I'm actually going which apparently is key) and I started following a Weight Watchers program.
My progress has been slow, but steady. Ten pounds down, ten more to go. But for me the weight isn't the main issue. It's more about feeling fit and firm and happy and healthy. Clothes that don't cut into my waist are a welcome bonus.
Here's what I've learned/am learning along the way from being flabby to flab-u-less!
1. Be kind to yourself. Calling yourself a fat ass does nothing to motivate. Restrict the fat shaming to chubby cats.
2. Don't compare yourself to others. Rather allow yourself to feel inspired by their success. Tell yourself, "If they can do it, I can too!" Instead of feeling jealous of their Instagrammed rock hard abs, ask your fit sistahs for tips and advice and encouragement.
3. Find support. I joined a Facebook group of like-minded people who are trying to live healthier. We share exercise strategies and healthy recipes. But more importantly, we admit to goofing up and support each other when it happens.
4. Choose an exercise program that works for YOU. I used to enjoying running but it no longer suits my body (sore ankle, bad back). So now I try to do two days of cardio at the gym instead—like a fun Zumba class or a 25 minute circuit of the cardio machines (I only do five minutes per machine because I need to change it up or I just get bored and throw in the towel). Then I do two days of weight training with a light warm up and cool down—thirty minutes in total and I'm out of there. I try to walk the dog briskly or go for a bike ride with the kids on the off days.
5. Drink boat loads of water. I'm still struggling with this. When I'm well hydrated my skin looks better, I don't eat as much, and I have more energy as crappy toxins are getting flushed from my body. So why is drinking water such a struggle? I have no idea. Besides having to pee every ten minutes, it's not complicated. Of course adding lemon and berries and cucumber and fizz and all of those fun things make it easier. I just have to work harder to stick to my mandate to hydrate.
6. Take charge of what you put in your mouth. Again, not complicated but easier said than done. Beginning Weight Watchers was a real eye opener for me. Being held accountable by tracking the points for every morsel (and liquid... hello Pinot Grigio 4 points per glass) that goes into my mouth has made a HUGE impact on my weight loss. On a recent outing with my daughter, I absent mindedly popped a Tim Bit into my mouth. I looked up the point value after the fact and was shocked to learn that one teeny sour cream glazed Tim Bit was a whopping 3 points! I am allotted 26 points for the day. What a waste. I am learning to make smarter choices about what to spend my points on.
*Quick and easy weight loss trick? Hide behind a Weight Watchers Meeting sign. :)
7. Keep a food journal for the very reason I mention above. Every little thing you eat adds up. The Weight Watchers App on my phone does the work for me. I plug in (or scan the bar code) what I ate and how much, and it tallies it up for me. Fruits and veggies are ZERO points so if I'm feeling peckish I'll have a handful of grapes or cucumber spears dipped in hummus. Wanting something desserty? I'll serve up some banana ice cream. Processed foods are very high on the point scale so staying away from those not only keeps my points down, but it's healthier all around. We are a vegan-ish family so finding a program that accommodates a variety of dietary choices has been a game changer.
8. Forgive your mistakes and move on. I ate an entire bag of Veggie Straws one night (curse you PMS and your evil salt cravings!) and bloated up like crazy. But the next day I made amends by drinking tons of water and staying on track. "Tomorrow is a new day." This is a motto I'm learning to trust. Also, don't give up! If you're like me, you want to see instant results with limited effort. Some call that lazy. I call it efficiently hopeful. However, if you want your exercise and diet regiment to work, you have to see it through—even after you fall off the wagon. Commit to it for three months and give it your best effort and you'll be surprised at what you are capable of.
9. Saying "I'm on Weight Watchers" is not enough to actually lose weight. Sadly you have to FOLLOW THE PROGRAM. This hard truth reminds me of the wickedly funny Amy Schumer. She does this shtick on being disappointed about not losing weight on her carb free diet. She whines, "Why am I not losing weight?! So I ate a whole loaf of bread in one sitting, but I'm on a carb free diet!" So what if you post on Facebook that you're on a new weight loss plan. If you're eating a bag of chips and chugging wine while you're posting this update, newsflash... the program ain't gonna work. Also, you can share inspirational quotes about weight lost on Instagram all you want, but if you're not walking the walk, nothing is going to change.
10. And finally, one more muffintastic Amy Schumer gem. Watch "New Body" and raise your hand if you've planned (unrealistically) for your new body like this. I admit it. I totes have. Mmmmm...muffins...
* Though I was asked to try out a Weight Watchers online membership and share my thoughts on social media, this post is not sponsored—I am writing about my experience under my own steam. I used Weight Watchers online support for three months with impressive results. I plan to continue paying for my own membership going forward. I may add dedicated weigh-ins as well. I suspect I'll do better with more accountability—knowing I have to weigh-in in front of somebody will give me an added kick in my