Challenge: Complete {APADO #31}

(I’m not even gonna bother with my APADO intro because this post is so meta it doesn’t deserve it. Hehe.)

(Also: all the gifs are from when I ran outside to celebrate getting to this momentous occasion. Enjoy.)

APADO 31

All I can say at this point is wow.

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To be honest, I expected myself to fail this challenge. When I went into this, I thought I would end up with about seventeen APADO posts before falling off and being done with the challenge. And I thought I’d have to look at them for the rest of my meager existence. Seventeen reminders that I can’t keep my promises.

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I can’t tell if it’s better to have low expectations and knock it out of the park or have high expectations and fail, but we’re going with the happy medium. I had bad expectations, but I ended up with something pretty awesome (if I can say so myself).

This past month, I posted once a day, every day, on weekends and holidays and all throughout May October.

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To be clear: to me, the day was not over until I went to bed. I used the backlog feature to get the date right on the posts I published after midnight (which was almost all of them, hehe.)

Though words can’t describe how good this feels, a gif or two might do the trick.

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GUYS, I DID IT.

Ahem.

Let’s do a quick recap of everything that went down this month.

This month…

(none of these stats are counting this post)

…I wrote 30 posts, adding up to an estimated total of 22,159 words.

I took 98 new photos (not reuploads of old stuff or things I already had photos of).

And made 11 gifs (not counting ones I lifted from youtube videos):

I broke 100 posts:

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And this blog got 823 views, 175 visitors, 414 likes, and 228 comments.

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I would say I’m speechless, but I’m a bit too talkative for that.

My thoughts on APADO:

I now see why clickbait content farms are the only ones who post once a day. It’s tiring. Just like a marathon, I started to stumble around day (mile?) 13. It’s like my motivation started to slide downhill until I took that glorious Wednesday walk.

Yet, I enjoyed pushing myself. I love the feeling of having a ton of cool posts for people to read. And most importantly, I found my fervor to blog again. I’ve built good habits. And I’m now motivated to post more often, although not every day.

I’m not about to say that every post was perfect, though. In fact, quite a few of them were sub-par.

My (Personal) Bottom Three Posts:

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300,000 Words {APADO #14}

Sin number one: it had almost no pictures. Sin number two: nothing is more self-centered than low-key bragging about how many words you’ve written. C’mon, Tess. You’re better than that…

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A Brief Rant-Review Of Great Expectations {APADO #15}

I don’t think Steeplechase posts get more negative than this one. Wow, I had a ton of roasts to scald this poor novel with. And again, no pictures! Readers like pictures, Tess. They really do.

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A Quick Chat About Flawed Characters {APADO #19}

Oh, I wish I’d put more time and effort into this post! I didn’t say nearly everything I have to say about this topic. Perhaps, in future, we’ll have to have a longer chat about flawed characters.

But – there were several posts that I really, really liked.

My (Personal) Top Three Posts:

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Roller Coasters {APADO #6}

Inspirational message? Heart-pumping roller coaster gifs? Yes, please. AND THE FEATURED IMAGE IS SO FLEEK.

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Taking A Casual Saturday Stroll On A Wednesday {APADO #17}

Not only was this post a ton of fun to make, I ended up discovering something about myself that has changed my view about the world. It’s comforting.

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A Random Letter For A Random Person {APADO #29}

This completely spontaneous idea turned out so neat! Just an update: I’ve been given permission to mail the letter. Once I hunt up a stamp, it’s off to Washington!

The Crowd Favorite:

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Conversations With 13-Year-Old Me {APADO #4}

Maybe it was the past-self-depreciating jokes. Or maybe it was that jamestic gif at the beginning. For some reason, this post got 41 views. As a reference, my record is 91 views (for that interactive birthday adventure which will likely return).

The Unsung Hero:

Scouty {APADO #9}

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Somehow puppy photos weren’t tantalizing enough. Was it because Scouty had already written a post on The Pawsome Press? Still, it has more views than half the posts I’ve written – a respectful 12.

What’s your opinion?

Everyone’s preferences are different. Want to let me know what you thought?

In conclusion:

I’m shocked at how much my blogging game has changed since the beginning of this challenge. I’m now proud to call myself a blogger. I’m happy with the posts I’ve made.

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I wish I could keep posting once a day, but I’m sure there would be a drop in the quality of my posts, knowing how much effort and how many late nights these ones took. And besides, there’s Nanowrimo, and that’s going to be taking up all my spare time.

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But this doesn’t mean I won’t be posting on Steeplechase next month! I’m going to try to do five Nano recaps (one every six days) with snippets, gifs, writer struggles and inspiration. Let’s hope they’re as fun as APADO has been.

Farewell, APADO. You were fun. See ya next year.

(Did I just make a rash promise again?)

Now let’s jump right into Nano.

Sheesh. Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire.

tl;dr: I finished APADO and ended up with some posts I liked and got practice for Nano, which starts TOMORROW guys I’m officially freaking out.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

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the last relaxation i’m gonna get before NANO

 

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31 Things To Do Instead Of Trick-Or-Treating {APADO #30}

(Today is the next-to-last day of APADO – the blog series where I try to write a post for every single day of October. My wittle challenge is almost over *snif*)

(I was planning to post this tomorrow but I might be planning a giant APADO recap/vote/thoughts on the challenge tomorrow so we’re going for today. Besides, it’ll give you some time to think about this post.)

(Of course I’m posting this so late that it’ll probably be tomorrow before you see it. Hmmmm….)

(featured image is an edited version of one of my photos)

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(Disclaimer: If you celebrate Halloween, that’s okay for you and I’m not trying to preach at you. I’m just sharing my opinion. Please don’t get triggered.)

I haven’t ever celebrated Halloween. Aside from its roots in druids and demons, it’s a self-centered holiday, and I have no brain energy to waste on it.

Reasons I Don’t Celebrate Halloween

There’s so much darkness and evil in the world, I don’t think we need to add any more. And before you go and say that Halloween is just a fun little holiday, the Wikipedia article backs me up:

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Society has turned it into a fun little holiday, but the roots of it are something I can’t get over.

But on another level, the thing that bothers me about Halloween is that it’s a very self-centered holiday. Kids are trained from a young age to stress out over costumes and then go show it off and ask people for treats. That’s something that I don’t find very wholesome.

To show you what I mean, let’s do some math.

People spend $9.1 billion on Halloween candy, decorations, and costumes a year, according to this source.

Just around $1.9 billion would buy every homeless person in America three meals a day for a year, plus a sleeping bag and a Bible for each of them. And the remaining $7.2 billion could buy 120 private islands in the Bahamas for $600 million each.

That’s.

A lot.

Of money.

Just to please some kids and candy companies for one night of the year.

I feel like Halloween is a sorry excuse for a holiday. It makes absolutely no impact. Even aside from the pagan ideas that are at its core, it breeds selfishness and discontent.

So what’s a non-trick-or-treater to do?

As I was going about my day today, seeing people buying last-minute bags of candy or pieces of costumes, I started to wonder if there was anything I could do on Halloween. I mean, I usually sit inside with the lights off and watch the most obnoxiously happy movie I can think of, but…is there anything more constructive I can do?

I got my mom in on the idea, and we ended up brainstorming 31 different ways to spend Halloween that are more positive and meaningful. They had to be:

  • relatively cheap
  • not associated with giving out candy or dressing up
  • helpful to the community in some way
  • and fun!

So whether you’re like me and you don’t celebrate Halloween, or you’re just looking for something to do instead of trick-or-treating, here are…

31 Things To Do Instead Of Trick-Or-Treating

Earn $31, $3.10, or 31 cents and give it to your favorite charity.

If your grass is still growing, find 31 weeds in your neighbor’s yard and pull them up.

Copy out 31 verses of Scripture. If you wanna be Pintrestable, you could even write out Proverbs 31.

Do 31 “random acts of kindness”.

Buy the #31 shade of nail polish and commit to painting your nails that color. Electric green? Teal glitter? Go for it.

Everyone loves to find a happy note. Write 31 random notes and hide them in 31 random places. Who knows whose day you might brighten?

Spend 31 minutes exercising. Let’s face it, from here until January, the food just keeps getting more delicious…and more irresistable.

Reverse trick-or-treating! Go to the dollar store and find 31 comfort items to hand out a nursing home. 

Do you know any kids who aren’t trick-or-treating tonight, for whatever reason? It’s no fun to be left out. Find 31 stickers and give them to those kids – and make sure you a) tell them how proud you are of them for standing by what they believe or b) console them about their allergies/illness/grounding.

Find 31 nice-looking leaves and make someone a Thanksgiving card by taping the leaves to a piece of cardstock. Don’t forget to decorate the envelope!

Get a trick-or-treat bucket, but instead of filling it with candy, pick up 31 pieces of trash around your park or neighborhood.

As long as you’re okay with hauling around 31 bottles of water, find 31 thirsty people at your trunk or treat or gathering and give them a bottle of water.

Donate 31 cans of food to a soup kitchen or food drop.

Lots of people are buying tons of clothes for their costumes, but how about giving some away? Go through your closet and find 31 items of clothes or shoes and donate them.

Buy 31 tire valve stem covers (don’t worry, they’re cheap) and go on a hunt for 31 tires that are missing their little cap.

Pranksters in your neighborhood? Find 31 of their eggy messes and clean them up.

Go to the mall or the grocery store and seek out 31 items that are misplaced or have fallen on the floor. Pick them up and put them back where they belong.

Find and clip 31 different coupons. (Some grocery stores have them hanging up at the front.) Then, go find the 31 items on sale and tape the coupon to the item. If someone didn’t know it was on sale, they’ll get a chance to save some money.

While you’re at the store, see if you can find 31 loose carts and deposit them back in the cart corrals.

Spend 31 minutes playing with your pet.

Spend 31 minutes with your little siblings or relatives.

Wash or dry 31 dishes for your mom, if it’s not already your chore. I guess you could also do 31 loads of laundry, but that’s kind of ambitious.

Come up with 31 useful coupons for you to fufill and tape them to the refrigerator, to be used by whoever wants them.

Make 31 paper stars and start a vase for a loved one!

Give away 31 of your old toys or stuffed animals.

Bookworm? Here’s a really scary challenge for you. Round up 31 books you’re done with and donate them to your library. Bonus points for putting 31 random notes in them!

Hand out 31 tractates, if your church does that.

It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but how about writing down 31 things you’re thankful for?

Strain your eyes and your fingers and make 31 friendship bracelets for your friends.

Make a list of 31 important people in your life and write a letter to each of them.

Spend 31 minutes in prayer. It won’t be wasted time.

The bottom of it all?

Whatever you choose to do this Halloween, I hope you’re happy and safe. If you choose to do anything from this list, though, I’d love to know what you did!

Who knows? You might end up making a new tradition, or at least having more fun than that lame Halloween party you were inevidably invited to.

Maybe, just maybe, we can start a new movement. Spending this night of self-centeredness helping others.

I like to think it’s possible.

tl;dr: If you’re bored tomorrow night, have a go at one of these weird, helpful ideas.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

A Random Letter For A Random Person {APADO #29}

(apado is a blog series we all know what it is and I’m just amazed I’ve almost completed it)

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I’ve had a hunch for awhile that people aren’t as different as they think they are.

I mean, I say about thirty times a day that I’m weird, and yet all my friends do the same. So am I really weird?

I wanted to put myself in someone else’s shoes for a half-second. Pretend I was your average person. Feeling compartmentalized and alone, the only odd one out…don’t we all feel like that sometimes?

And then I imagined receiving a letter. A figurative hand that connects me back to the idea that we’re not so “weird” after all.

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Hi. 🙂

My name’s Tess Richardson. I’m about 99.99999% sure you have no clue who I am and honestly I hope you’re okay with that.

I’m writing you a letter because I have faither in the unknown. I don’t know who you are, or what you do, but I feel like this letter found its way to the right person.

I’m not trying to be creepy. I’m not asking you for anything. You don’t have to help the defenseless kittens or disabled veterans. You don’t even have to reply to this letter.

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I just hope that when you read this letter, it puts a smile on your face. I’m not exactly sure how. Maybe the thought that someone’s indirectly thinking of you.

Whatever floats your anvil, that’s cool with me.

I hope you have a nice day, whoever you are. You deserve to. God Bless and I’m thinking of you.

Sincerely,

Tess

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^ random address I found by dropping the pin in Google Maps in a random spot.

Should I mail it?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

You’re Not The Victim {APADO #28}

(apado yadda yadda yadda we get it)

(this post is extremely short but inspirational?)

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You’re not a victim.

I know you feel like you are.

Things come your way and push you down and you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it.

But there’s plenty you can do.

The first thing is to decide to not let life beat you.

You’re not the victim. You’re the master of the situation.

So go out and make your own future.

The power’s in your hands.

You are not the victim.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Unveiling My Nano {APADO #27}

(*chinese flute*
this blog series is called APADO
*huah!*
i write a post for every single day-o
*huah! huah!*
although the commitment is a little bit frightening
*huah!*
backdate posting is saving my timing
*dum dum dum, dum dum dum, dum dum dum*)
(it’s one o’clock in the morning and i have no idea what to post about and maybe – just maybe – i just want to have some fun tonight. so i apologize in advance.)

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I starting writing The Sentinel in July. More specifically, I started building on a little sliver of an idea that had been rattling around in my brain for approximately thirteen hours.

Gotta love pantsers.

What I came out with was a story that

  • had much more promise than I was used to my stories having
  • was cohesive enough to be read by outside sources and get a second opinion on
  • and deserved a sequel.

I left a lot of things unexplained in The Sentinel. It was sort of on purpose – to get into the things I didn’t elaborate on would have taken away the focus that I’m so proud of the story having. So I’m writing a sequel to:

  • build more on the themes and arcs I set up in the first part
  • and retrospectively elaborate on some things I brushed over in The Sentinel. I’m not sure if this is the thing I’m supposed to do, but considering that I’m a Fauxthor™ and don’t care, I’m doing it anyways.

Working cover for now:

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Working teeny-weeny blurb:

Gwen feels that the faster she runs away from her fears, the taller they seem to loom over her. In an effort to take back what’s rightfully hers, she quests to find her roots, her scars – and perhaps a strength she didn’t know she possessed.

I’m really trying hard not to spoil anything. Hehe. Because the first Sentinel only worked on a basis of being stomach-churningly twisty.

I’m still not sure I’m ready for Nano to begin in four measely days. But I’d love to hear about your Nano projects! Talk my ear off. I’m listening.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

A Productivity T-Chart {APADO #26}

(APADO is my blog challenge that I’m sure you’re familiar with because I’ve been posting about it once a day for twenty-five days. Yay.)
(this is a short friday post™)
(also it’s only five days till Nano y’all, i am officially fReAkInG oUt)

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Contrary to popular belief, spontaneous people can get stuff done. My secret is just to come up with different methods and hacks that make productivity fun.

What I’m doing today is a Productivity T-Chart.

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At the beginning of the day, I wrote all the things I need to do on sticky notes. Then, I used masking tape on my desk to mark off an area for things I need to do and an area for things I’ve already gotten done. It’s really, really satisfying to move a note from one side to the other.

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Okay this is now officially meta.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

I Can’t Sleep Without A Fan {APADO #25}

(*yawns* This is APADO, the self-punishment of blogging every day. I haven’t failed yet, so I’d say I’m doing okay.)

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When the day is done and I’m through cramming my brain with information for the day,  I, like most humans, need to sleep.

My bedtime routine is a categorically specific process, which is strange for an ENFP, but I can’t get myself calmed down any other way.

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Whoops. I guess I should make up my bed before I do this post. In truth, I don’t regularly make up my bed, but I’m not going to show this flattened pancake nest of a bed on my blog.

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why is this so darkkkkk

There we go.

Instead of the harsh overhead light, I like to turn on my lamp. It helps to calm me down and relax before bedtime. It also makes photography kind of difficult, but EH.

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Whoa, that photo was aesthetic.

I have a little controller thing that makes it so I can turn off the lights from bed.

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Jedi skills unnecessary. Isn’t it convenient?

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There are two types of people in this world – people who can sleep with a fan, and people who can’t. I’m one of the first. Not only is it necessary for temperature control, the sound is soothing. And since I’m sleeping alone now (for the first time in my life), having some white noise helps.

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Then I set my alarm (because if I do it any later, I’ll forget). I put my alarm clock on my dresser so that I have to haul myself out of bed to turn it off. Once I’m out of bed, I’m awake, so it really helps to get me up in the morning.

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Then I get up in my bed and write in my journal. I get profoundly serene at this point – I have to force myself to not fall asleep yet.

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I have some books up here, but I’m usually too tired to read.

So with the fan on, my alarm set, my thoughts recorded, I get under the covers, hit the light switch…

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…and stare at my glow-in-the-dark stars until I fall asleep.

Ugh, now I’m tired. I think it’s bedtime.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

That Time I Did THSC Teen Staff {APADO #24}

(Dees ees APADO, meh leetle blog serees wheere I poast efery dey een Ooctoobar.)

(All these photos are courtesy of Victoria, the awesome photographer who made an awesome video recap that I spent thirty minutes pausing and screenshotting. WHY DOES YOUTUBE DO THAT THING WHERE IF YOU DOUBLE CLICK ON A VIDEO IT FULL SCREENS. That was my nemesis.)

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Back in May, I went to a homeschool convention. Also known as the best thing to ever convene in the history of conventions. I was part of the Teen Staff program, a unique mixture of volunteer work, group games and activities, and lectures.

(If I remember someone’s name, I put it in, but assume that any unlabeled person was someone I didn’t know or couldn’t remember their name.)

We were divided into two groups, and those two groups were divided into five teams each.

Team Juliet

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We were an awesome team. We were efficient…and friendly…and horrible at all the group games.

My nametag had been messed up – for some reason it said íTessí. I’m still not sure why. For awhile it was my nickname (“itsa me, íTessí!”) but it confused the exhibitors so much I had to scratch it out and write plain ol’ Tess above it.

Service

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The main part of our program was helping out around the convention. It’s not called Teen Staff for nothing. We did “hospitality”, which was pretty much passing around cups of water to all the exhibitors. Oh, and I went and got a guy a Monster energy drink from a hidden vending machine.

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We did book check, too, which was pretty much babysitting people’s curriculum purchases so that they didn’t have to haul them around the convention center.

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And whenever we were just hanging out, we were expected to be helpful and friendly and good representations of our generation. I think we did a good job.

Lectures

I could say a lot about these lectures, how informative and awesome they were, but let me just say four words:

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I MET KEN HAM.

‘Nuff said.

Group Activities

In between service times and lectures, we got to play group games. This was easily the most fun part of the service (although it was definitely the loudest).

simon says

For one game, we were split into three groups. Two of the groups sat in rows of chairs facing eachother. One was able to see the rest of the room, and one had their backs turned.

The rest of us were blindfolded and led into the room. We weren’t told what we were supposed to do.

The rules: The people who could see what we were supposed to do had to nonverbally communicate the instructions to the group with their back turned. Then that group had to interpret the instructions and call them out to us.

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Never has collecting some balls and putting them in a bag been so hard.

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We did an engineering challenge with spaghetti and marshmallows – tallest tower won. We all ended sticky, chewing on raw spaghet, and laughing our heads off at our miserable excuse for a tower.

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And then we did skits. Our group was charged with making a commercial to sell a book about office organization.

And it got weird.

So?

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I had absolutely no experience with large groups and interacting with people my age when I went into this.

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I came out chomping at the bit, ready to go again, wishing it would last about a year longer. Or that May would come again in anything less than a year.

They let us sign our shirts at the end of it all. I hung mine up on my wall.

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Every time I look at it, I have to go check the calendar.

Only 187 days until next May.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

An Interview With Emily {APADO #23}

(APADO is my blog series thingie that has me blogging once a day for the entire month of October. I’m so close to winning, I’m scared to fail.)

(And while we’re talking about kids…)

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this is to date the worst featured image ever. it looks like a potato.

My little sister is quite the character. She has a rough time, being the youngest of seven kids (and there’s an enormous age gap – there’s no one between me and her). She catches her fun where she can, though, and she’s definitely a light in my life.

I want to say how much I appreciate her, so I decided to give her a time to shine. To talk about herself. To showcase what a cool person she is. And honestly she’s such an actor that it’s almost too cute but since when has that stopped me before?

This is, without further adieu, an interview with Emily. Any mid-interview comments will be in italics.

The Interview

Me: *setting up camera*

Emily: What are you doing?

Me: Would you like to do an interview with me for my blog?

Emily: How…do I do it?

Me: I just ask you questions and you answer them.

Emily: Okay.

Me: You wanna do that?

Emily: Mmm-hmm.

Me: So – we’re going to pretend that I’m a newspaper interviewer and I don’t know anything about you. Because I do kind of know some of this stuff. I just want you to say it in your own words. Does that make sense?

Emily: Mmm-hmm *already bored*

Me: So. Ahem. What’s your name?

Emily: Emily Or’El.

Me: Wow, what does Or’El mean?

Emily: *thinks* I don’t know.

Or’El is Hebrew for “light of God” btw.

Me: *laughing*

Emily: *also laughing*

Me: What grade are you in?

Emily: Second.

Me: Can I talk to you about school?

Emily: *thinks* Like what?

Me: *laughing again, it’s impossible not to laugh around her* What’s your school like?

Emily: Mama.

It’s kind of a joke between her and I that Mama is the answer to everything. Any question can be answered with Mama.

Me: *laughing*

Emily: *also laughing*

Me: No really, what’s your school like?

Emily: Mmmmm…I like it. I like Language Arts the best.

she’ll make a great writer someday >:) 

Me: That’s awesome! What’s your least favorite subject?

Emily: Maaaaaaaaaaath.

Me: *trying not to laugh* What do you not like about it?

Emily: Mmmmm…*thinks* It’s too easy.

Me: *laughing, but mostly because this kid has beasted me and she’s less than half my age* Uh, what are your days like?

Emily: Mmmmm…*thinking again* Wake up, play with Emunah, drive them to Odessa, drive Tess to the barn…mmmm…go home, do JOS, aaand…go get Tony, drop Tony off, and go to bed. And read.

I feel so bad for her. Her days are tough. She rides around in the car a lot because us abusive big kids have places to be. What a little trooper.

Also, Emunah and Moses are my sister’s kids who come over to play while she’s at work. They live 20ish minutes away.

Me: What’s your favorite part of them?

Emily: *thinks* Reeeeeead.

Me: Like, before bed?

Emily: *nods*

Me: What’s your least favorite part of your days?

Emily: Going to sleeeeeep.

Me: *laughing because she’s making a neurotic face that indicates the amount of crazy I’ve rubbed off onto her*

Me: What do you like to play? Like with Emunah or with me or…whatever.

Emily: RUN RUN RUN.

Me: “Run run run”? How? Like, tell me more.

Emily: *thinking* Mmmmm…race.

Me: Race. Um…who are your friends? Like, who do you consider to be your friends?

Emily: Mama, Tess, and Tony.

Me: Awww *touched that I’m so high on the list*

Emily: And Avi. And Noah and Isaiah. And Madison.

Me: Madison! I have a friend named Madison.

Emily: Nooooo the Madison next doooooor.

Me: I don’t think we’re talking about the same Madison.

Madison Grace Lorfing I am looking at you madame

Me: Let’s see…what do you do when you’re alone?

Emily: Mmmmmm….*thinks for a really long time* Play Little Rabbits.

House term for Calico Critters. I actually walked in on her playing with them when I started the interview.

Me: Um…do you like Chase?

Emily: Mmmm-hmmm. Chaaaaase!

Me: Which Chase are we talking about?

Her dog is named Chase, and he’s named after her favorite character in PAW Patrol. Gotta get things clear here.

Emily: MY Chase.

Me: Uh…what’s your favorite movie?

Emily: Mmmm…Journey Beyond Sodor.

JBS is a Thomas and Friends movie.

Me: Aaand what’s your favorite TV show?

Emily: Thomas.

She’s wearing a Thomas t-shirt. Go figure.

Me: Do you like any other TV shows?

Emily: PAW Patrol. And Clifford and Busytown. And Barney.

Me: Ahmmmm…will you sing for me?

Emily: *shakes head* MMM-MMM.

Me: *laughs at failed attempt* Uhm, do you have any hobbies?

Emily: *thinks* Run. Race with Siggy.

Sigma is my sister’s Boston Terrier – Chihuahua mix. She has so much energy. But Emily keeps up with her.

Emily: Mmmmm…play dolls. And play play play!

Me: *laughing* Was this interview fun?

Emily: *thinks* Yaaaaash.

Me: Is it fun to talk about yourself?

Emily: Nawohhhh.

Me: *laughing* Would you please stop doing that.

At this point, she’s remembered that I’m filming her and that she can be cute and get away with it.

Me: You’re too cute, okay? Oh, one last thing – will you show me the way you do Chase’s “PAW Patrol, ready for action”?

Emily: *thinks about it*

Me: Please? Please please please?

Emily: Okay. *imitates Chase* PAW Patrol, ready for action, Ryder sir!

And then she proceeded to lick me.

I wonder where she gets that weird sense of humor?

Sometimes I take Emily for granted, or don’t appreciate the little things she does that make my life more fun. Sometimes I let things get in the way of spending time with her. Sometimes I deserve the Crummy Older Sister Of The Year Award™.

But to be honest, I think we all do that to some degree.

Enjoy your little siblings, if you have them. Love them. Care for them. Be interested in what they’re doing. They’re little people in their own right and will surprise you with how complex they are.

I know I’ve been bad about it recently.

And that’s something I don’t want to admit, but I want to fix.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

4 Ways To Entertain Kids Under 4 {APADO #22}

(Ladeez and gents, this is the series you’ve waited for – a post on every day, for the entire month of october – I’m buried in the posts that I really shouldn’t ignore – Taking my breath, and stealing my mind – and early bedtimes are left behinddddd…)

(that was corny.)

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Between being an older sister, an aunt (I know, I can’t bring myself to say it either), and a babysitter, I wind up entertaining kids almost every day. And I’m no expert. In fact, most of the advice I would give a newbie would be how not to do it. From experience.

But y’all probably aren’t beginners, and that would make for a pretty negative post. Instead of lecturing, I’m going to serve up four different tested ways to entertain toddlers (and a few tips on how to keep older kids interested in the same stuff!)

A Few Things To Note

A toddler’s attention span is shorter than the fuse on a firecracker. Don’t expect anything you do with him or her to hold him there for more than fifteen minutes. If, by some miracle, it does, don’t touch anything and let him play with it for as long as he will. And praise the Lord for the break He’s given you.

Toddlers get overstimulated very easily. Don’t bring out too much at once. They’ll either become stone-like neandrotoddlers or little ticking time bombs of energy and meltdowns. Use your tricks slowly and present them like they’re something special – even if they’re just a few things laying around your house.

Thing No. 1: Pom-Poms

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There’s something about these little balls of neon fluff that are mezmerizing to a toddler. (Watch them in her mouth and make sure she know’s they’re not for eating. If you’re really worried about her choking on them, get the jumbo ones.) She’ll enjoy scooping them into a pile and chaotically spreading them around, or throwing them in the air and having them drop on her head.

Some other things you can do:

  • poke them into a wide-necked bottle (like a Gatorade bottle). This was really popular with my babysitting kid.
  • fill the divets of an egg carton with them. You could even sort them by color and be educational.
  • If you’re watching an older kid along with a toddler, she could get involved by using a big needle and some yarn to string them together and make caterpillars.

Thing No. 2: Sensory Bottles

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Firstly: these are better if you make them ahead.

Secondly: please, please, please tape the top of the bottle shut. Don’t let kids drink glitter.

Thirdly: These are so much fun to shake, roll and spin. You could fill them with glitter, colored oil, Orbeez, or sprinkles. Add a little water (or thinned clear hair gel for something a bit thicker) and tape the top closed, and you’ve got a toddler timekiller. These are especially good for quiet play on highchair trays and car rides.

A few other ideas:

  • These are somewhat artsy. Try theming your bottle contents for birthdays, holidays, and seasons.
  • Play with how much water you put in them. Less water = more shakable, more water = more swirlable.
  • Older kids will love to put together their own bottles with your supplies. But even though they’re more mature, don’t skip the tape for them – these things are awful when they explode.

Thing No. 3: Masking Tape

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This roll of semi-sticky goodness is your best friend. Never watch kids without it. There’s a ton you can do with it, but here are some ideas:

  • Use it to mark starting lines for races of all sorts – hopping on one foot, crawling on hands and knees, shuffling with a sock ball in between their feet (“emperor penguin egg”). It’s also handy as the end line for Red Light, Green Light.
  • Mark X’s on the floor and play The Floor Is Lava. Anyone not on an X is burnt. (This one’s fun for a big group of varied ages.)
  • Use similar X’s on the floor instead of cushions for Musical Chairs.
  • Tape one single line on the floor and have them walk across it. I call this the World’s Safest Balance Beam™.

Thing No. 4: Sticky Notes

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This one’s super simple but surprisingly enthralling. Get a pad of sticky notes you don’t particularly like and let him peel them off and stick them to stuff. He’ll be in love with the way he can put them on everything. What’s arguably even more fun, though, is peeling them off, crumpling them up and throwing them.

You could also:

  • Draw designs on them (before sticking them to the wall!).
  • Fold them.
  • Rip them.
  • Older kids can stay interested, too. They can fold teeny annoying paper airplanes or make a puzzle by putting a bunch of them in a grid and drawing a picture, then challenging you or a sibling to put it back together.

In short:

Toddlers don’t need elaborate games to keep them interested. Sometimes all you need is a simple object and a bit of direction.

A final tip: don’t over-manage. Show her how to do it a few times, then let her do her thing. There’s nothing worse than having someone breathing down your neck when you’re trying to poke pom-poms in a bottle.

And if you don’t have siblings or babysitting clients? I hope that on the day when you somehow get picked to watch the church daycare classroom, these ideas will float down your mental stream of consciousness and be useful.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}