Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday Tips & Tricks - New Years Hangover Helper

(OK, I know it is Wednesday, but the holidays are busy and I didn't want you to miss out on this tip!)

photo by: itspaulkelly via flickr

Plan on ringing in the New Year with a bit of bubbly? This little trick always seems to help my husband and me avoid a big-time hangover on New Years Day (or any excessive celebration)!

*** Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV! Just a regular woman who is sharing what works for her and promises no cure for you or yours! Do not take this for medical advice or sue me if it doesn't work or for any other reason! But, you may thank me if it does!

1. Have a good, hearty meal before your celebrations (i.e. drinking) begin.

2. Drink plenty of water! At least one glass of water for every two glasses of your alcoholic beverage of choice.

3. Around 11pm or at least before going to bed, take a multi-vitamin and two ibuprofen with a tall glass of water.

4. Get at least 6 hours of sleep!

5. Wake up feeling surprisingly un-hungover.

6. Have a happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday Tips & Tricks: Fitting in activity

What a busy week! Children home, husband home, shopping and baking to be done! Posts will likely be few and far between this week and next as we all celebrate love, life and family over the holidays.

Today's tip is about helping your kids (and yourself) to keep active during these crazy holidays. My children love to watch videos, and when I'm busy I let them! Our general rule is about an hour a day. If they want more than that they have to earn it. How do my kids earn a video or a little TV? Smile practice, jumping jacks and dancing!

I started requiring this of the kids before a program because they usually want to watch TV when they are tired and grumpy and bored. After the show is over, instead of feeling better, they are usually tired and grumpy and bored. So, to get them feeling good before a video we do:

10 jumping jacks (unless they feel challenged and say, "I bet I can do 20!";
10 Practice smiles (which gets them giggling and happy), and
1 fun song to dance to (we just turn on the radio to something fast).

Laughing, jumping and having fun together gets us all in a better mood! When they 30-minute video is over, the kids are usually in the mood for some good, active play!

If you don't hear from me again until next week, I wish you all a wonderful and happy holiday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Being the boss

Did you consider, when you were fawning with your amour over the thought of all things baby, that babies grow up into children? And children to teenagers? And that only when they are fully grown peace might be restored, somewhat, in your life once again?

I didn't. I laugh at myself as I write this. I had this fantasy of the perfect little family, with the perfect little baby and little children as if everyday would be Christmas morning. We would be perfect parents and joy would be the resounding characteristic of my home. 

Did you realize that you would actually be responsible for another human, perhaps a few of them, in every single conceivable way? First-time mommies with babies: ALERT! This is the easy part. Enjoy it. It does pass faster than you can imagine. You are responsible for keeping baby cleaned, fed, safe and relatively happy. After this it gets tricky and you will find yourself tested in ways never expected.

Before they talked back

Not only do we have to keep our children clean and fed, which can be enough of a challenge (the cleaning part is a challenge because we have to feed them!), but we also have to teach them everything! How to brush their teeth, put on shoes, wipe their butts, eat with a fork, drink from a cup, say please and thank you, zip zippers, button buttons, be nice with animals and people, speak nicely, etiquette, grammar, handle their emotions, bullies and teachers, wash their hands and so on and so on and so on. And while we're teaching, they dare to develop their own opinions, likes and preferences and discover their independent selves!

We are the bosses of our children, but it's like being the president of a country in constant anarchy! It's hourly mutiny! And when they aren't trying to kill each other they are ganging up against us! Our job is to teach our children to be independent of us, but it actually makes our job harder because they assert their independence whenever they want instead of whenever we want.

Good thing they give amazing hugs, isn't it? 23 hours and 59 minutes of stress and craziness melt away with one sweet hug. And when it doesn't, well, I guess I'll have to heed the wise words of my 5-year-old (her recent response to my request to stop whining), "You wanted to have us, so you're just going to have to deal with it."

America's Most Amazingly Energized Woman

This post is obviously not about me! But it could be about you or someone you know. Centrum®, along with funny-lady Molly Shannon, is hosting a contest to find this very woman and they are inviting all of us to nominate her! 

Through January 3rd, you can visit to nominate a woman lives life to the fullest with energy and love and a smile on her face - even during the holiday season! Maybe she's that friend who manages to keep a clean home and fit in a workout, all the while planning and executing fun activities with her children! Or perhaps she's a fellow blogger who seems to do it all and shares and inspires her readers the spirit of her life. How I aspire to be that woman! But, alas, I am not.

If you know this woman, go to the aforementioned site by January 3rd and nominate her (or yourself!) in 300 words or less.

Five finalists will be selected by a panel of judges and the we, the public, get to vote for "America's Most Amazingly Energized Woman!"

The prizes, Xperience Days gift certificates, are awesome! Perhaps she'll even share hers with you for being such a great friend!
While you're there you can download a $3 coupon for Centrum® Women’s or Centrum® Men’s to help you achieve better health during the holiday season and check out tips from Molly Shannon herself!

Disclosure Statement: I am a member of One2One Network and this post is part of a member project where I am eligible to win prizing.  I make no claims about Centrum as a product or it's effectiveness.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sleep and the Gender Gap

Thank you all for wishing my family well. Fortunately, it seemed to be an isolated case! Everyone has been fine since the night of cherries (newcomers, welcome! See previous post for the gory details).

As I mentioned, there was actually a study done that showed that men do indeed sleep through the cries of babies. Research done by Mindlab, at the University of Sussex, determined that a baby's cry doesn't even rank in the top ten of things that wake men from their slumber!

A cricket is more likely to wake a man than his screaming newborn! The participants were random, not necessarily fathers, though it didn't seem to make a difference whether they had children or not. Mothers and non-mothers alike were awakened by the cries of a baby.

If there are any inventors reading this, I would like to commission you to create a device that will convert baby screams to cricket chirps through the baby monitor. Wouldn't that be awesome?! So, baby cries, but Papa hears crickets chirping at his bedside. Mommy feigns sleep and upon waking, Papa hears the child crying. Seeing his sleeping wife, the loving husband goes and quiets his precious child.

The more likely scenario, sadly for us mommies who work around the clock, is that when the chirping sound wakes our husbands and they finally do hear the baby crying, they will simply give us a shake and say, "The baby is crying!" Then, like they do, they will just roll over and fall right back to sleep.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vomit and the Sleeping Man

When 'they' coined the phrase,
"sleeping like a baby," I think 
they meant to say, "sleeping like a man!" 
Have you ever noticed how men can sleep through anything child-related? A newborn screaming in the night for hours on end, children playing in the wee hours of the morning, the washing machine being loaded and run with wet or soiled sheets... I'm sure you could add to the list!

I woke up to the boy's crying close to midnight Saturday. Just as I was leaving my bedroom to criss-cross the hall to his, my 5-year-old daughter was coming out of her room, which is directly across from mine, crying. Crying and throwing up! Vomiting and darkness are bad combinations. Luckily, the hallway space between the bedrooms and the bathroom is small and in seconds we were in the bathroom with the light switched on. She threw up all over the floor and the toilet too. And she left a trail from her bed, across her room and spattered about in the hall. Guess what the last thing was that she had eaten? Unfortunately, cherries. On a cream colored carpet. I guess that will teach us to eat fruit off-season! The cherries hadn't made her sick, of course, but the bright red splotches all over nearly made me so.

By now the boy was screaming his lungs out and my 4-year-old was walking around to find out what was happening. Don't step in the vomit!!! I asked her to go wake up Papa to take care of the boy. I needed to clean up the bathroom so my 5-year-old, who was trapped by the mess on the floor, could get out of it and wrap up in something warm, as she consistently removes her pajamas each night, if I can get her in them at all.

Moments later she was back telling me she tried, but Papa wouldn't wake up. Baby still screaming, screaming, screaming. He could surely hear the commotion and see the bright lights under his door. These were not part of his typical night-waking experience!

Bathroom floor cleaned, daughter wiped down, hands washed. Back to bed for DD2, while cherry-girl, wrapped up in my cozy, warm bathrobe, rested on the floor while I changed her sheets and spot-cleaned the carpet. Thank you, Oxiclean spray. Thank you to my sister who recommended it for tough stains!

I manage to wake my husband so he can take care of the boy. He does. Sort-of. I get everything cleaned up, wiped down and sheets changed. Back to bed for the sick one. Bucket and towels arranged. Back to bed for the baby boy, who is still screaming, but now he's screaming for me while in bed with Papa. It's now around 1am.

2:00am. Daughter crying. I run into her room and she is successfully using the bucket. Clean up. Back to sleep.

2:40am. Daughter crying. Boy crying. Successful use of bucket. Precious lovey found face down in bucket. The spare is not the same, but she'll settle for it until morning. Clean up. Back to sleep for us for a blissful 4 hours.

For 5 years I've been amazed at the amount of activity and noise that can go on in the middle of the night without my husband ever even stirring.  Apparently, it isn't just my husband, but according to a study done by Mindlab at the University of Sussex, men in general! I'll tell you more about those findings tomorrow! Meanwhile, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that no one else in this house has a bout with any stomach bugs!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas shopping put me in the spirit!

Toys R Us was completely insane this afternoon! Or, maybe I am for going shopping at a toy store at 3:00 o'clock on a Saturday two weeks before Christmas! It was crowded, messy, noisy... and I loved every second of it!!! That amazing man of mine stayed home with the kids (one was sleeping when I left, all three were asleep when I returned) all by himself for 2 hours!

Normally I shop online, but as my family has grown, so have the shipping charges! And there's just something about seeing and touching, and sometimes playing with, the toys you're going to offer your little ones. And I found a few things I wouldn't have otherwise. Like a Dora snuggie!!! The girls and I had made a list together after browsing through the Toys R Us catalog, so I knew just what to look for. Nevertheless, thanks to the crowds, missing price-tags and trading one item for another I couldn't find it took me longer than I expected.

I think I may have been the only one smiling as I walked out with my shopping cart full and my wallet empty, but I was beaming walking out of that store like a little girl with eyes all lit up with Christmas lights. Like my children's eyes will be on Christmas morning when they open their gifts.

I love Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Things that make me fat

So, I had an appointment today and at the weigh-in I was at a completely unacceptable weight. Now, instead of needing to lose 15lbs, I need to lose 20 to be back to my 'happy weight'.

So, (I like to say "so"), I decided to list the things that make me fat so that I may stop doing/eating such things!

1. Mochas (I need coffee, I don't like coffee, I LOVE mochas)
2. Wine (that third glass is completely unnecessary!)
3. Tasting my children's food to check flavor and temperature.
4. Eating what they have left on their plate so that nothing is wasted.
5. Whole milk (we'll get back to low-fat when the boy turns two! Yes, I know I could buy two separate cartons).
6. Lack of sleep (proven fact that less sleep = more fat)
7. Lack of exercise (I'm active, obviously, but I need that heart-pounding, sweat inducing exercise that time and bad knees hardly allow)
8. Being a writer instead of an exercise guru.
9. Living in the 'lake effect' zone where for 4 to 6-months out of the year it is too snowy/icy/slippery for walks and bike riding and too cold to be out there anyway!

Oops, gotta run! The pizza man is at the door.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mothering Issues

Current Issues to be addressed:

1. Bedtime for girls (sleep vs play)
2. Sleep for DD2 (won't stay in bed long enough to fall asleep)
3. Night waking for baby (has slept through the night less than 5 times in 15 months)
4. Language usage (stupid, poo-poo and other such vocabulary)
5. Respect! (Mommy and Papa! Siblings and self!)

I broke down into tears this morning. Being a mom is sometimes so hard, isn't it? It may also have had something to do with the fact that I haven't had a solid night of sleep in days (weeks, months, a year) and I've been up since 2:30am. Oh, I had a little sleep here and there between then and 6am. First, next to the bed of my 4-year-old who, at 2:30am, came into my room because she needed "someone to sleep with." Big sis tagged along, but only for help to find her lovey, lost in blankets.

My oldest settled quickly back into sleep. Little sis, however, pleaded with me to stay. Actually she pleaded to sleep with me in my bed. I am fed up and frustrated with her go to sleep and stay-in-bed issues. Every night is a struggle. I often wake up to her sleeping next to me. I held firm this night. She would stay in her bed and I would stay with her for a few minutes. She's still in a toddler bed, so I sat on the floor and rested my head next to hers. I think I fell asleep the second my head hit her pillow. I slept there until around 3:30am. Enter issue number 3, as listed above.
I can't sleep!
The boy had a high fever Sunday and Monday, but was back to normal yesterday. He's STILL getting those molars and now a couple more teeth have joined the party, just about to break through. He screamed and screamed. He fought the administration of teething relief.

"Back to sleep, little one." Mommy says! My bed and I were reunited for approximately 3 minutes. Well, I'll try the bottle then. Yes, I'm STILL offering him a bottle in the middle of the night, but it is no longer blissful. This is another one of my mothering issues. I should not be doing this! But I am not prepared to have the entire house awake at 3am instead of just him and I. Normally, he goes right back to sleep. But this was not to be the case last night. Oh, no.

I tried to sooth him, sing to him, rock him, leave him to settle himself. Alas, nothing. It was probably close to 4:30am when I gave up and took him to my bed. He settled quickly and finally we slept. Beautiful sleep. For exactly 30 minutes. Hubby took him downstairs then. 45 minutes of sleep. Time for Papa to get ready for work. Time for Mommy to insert her caffeine I.V.

7:00am. What do you know? The boy is ready for a nap. Sleep well, little one. The girls are awake. The day has officially started.

On the bright side, I got a shower while Papa served breakfast! And two hours later the girls are at school and the boy is still sleeping (thanks again to Papa who took the girls to school so I didn't have to wake the boy). Do you ever find that in the middle of your complaining you find a train of thoughts leading you to what your most thankful for? I just did. I'm sure tired, but I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful husband. I'm so lucky to have three beautiful and healthy children. I'm so lucky to have the power of observation that allows me to see what works, what doesn't and what I need to do to change it.

Now, if I could just get enough sleep so that I may have the energy to follow through!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Goodbye to Ironing!

Iron No More!
(photo by It's Greg via Flickr)
Irons are practically banned in my house. My husband is allowed to use one on rare occasions, but not I. I hate ironing. It's a waste of a perfectly good nap-time and it is impossibly dangerous to try ironing when young children are afoot. A solution to the problem is here! Read on.

The next time you have a few wrinkles to tackle, leave the iron on the shelf and put your dryer to use!

Step 1: Dampen fuzz-free cloth or lightly spray wrinkled clothes with water only
Step 2: Toss cloth and wrinkled clothes into dryer (max 5 lightweight garments or 2 heavier garments)
Step 3: Dry on high heat for 10 minutes
Step 4: Remove from dryer immediately!
Step 5: Dress or hang promptly

Just think of all the things you can accomplish while your dryer does the ironing for you!

Don't forget to get on board the Tuesday Train blog hop!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Easy, healthy pancake recipe for hungry children!

As you may know, I like to know what is in the food I feed my children. This is not to say that we don't occasionally order pizza (though homemade is just as fast and much healthier) or go out for a burger (no world-dominant fast food chains make our list, however), or even buy a box of mac & cheese (usually organic!) once in a while.

You may also notice that I love to write (and speak) parenthetically. But, never mind that!

Formerly, I bought pancake mix to make a healthy morning breakfast that is also quick and easy. Then I noticed that the ingredients of most package mixes included plenty of sugar or  things I'd never heard of or things Dr. Oz says we must avoid! The ones that are healthy and of natural ingredients are seriously expensive.

So, I decided to look for a very simple recipe that would be just as quick and easy as a boxed mix and cheaper over the long run. And I found it! I only wish I could properly source where, but it's been too long and I can't remember. I'm sorry.

This recipe will make approximately 4 medium to large sized pancakes. One batch can also can make two round pancakes, a "4", a "5" and even a musical note! If you're inclined to make shapes. :)


1 Egg
1 Cup Milk
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Flour (AP or Whole Wheat)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt

Step 1: Beat egg, milk and vanilla
Step 2: Combine remaining ingredients and stir until well-mixed. Lumps are OK!
Step 3: Cook on a hot griddle!
Step 4: Top with natural maple syrup or other desired item (we like strawberry jam when we're out of syrup)
Step 5: Voila! Serve and eat!

From start (pulling out the ingredients) to finish (setting the plate in front of your little ones) it takes a maximum of ten minutes. Of course, it depends on how many times the baby throws things on the floor from his high chair or how many times your older kids fall out of theirs because they've forgotten that chairs are for sitting in and not doing acrobatics. Or if they fight over the color of their plates or spill their orange juice. But you're a mom (probably, if you're reading this) and you're already prepared for these diversions.

Now, because I'm feeling chatty and the only other person in my house is asleep, I'll briefly share my thoughts on the ingredients.

Eggs & Milk: Organic!!!
Vanilla: you can find vanilla without alcohol. It just takes a bit of searching the store shelves.
Flour: I use whole wheat only. I don't bother doing half white half wheat like I would for bread and the pancakes come out great!
Baking Powder: Your pancakes will be fluffier if this doesn't clump, so make sure it is smooth when you mix it in.
Salt: The recipe does need a little salt to bring out the flavor, but I usually add less than the recipe calls for.
Topping: Please don't feed your children those chemical syrups. Pure maple syrup is on the more expensive side, but sooooo tasty. And, like I said, use jam or fruit or something else instead if you don't have any.
All that remains of pancake #2


PS: It took me much longer to write out this post than it did to make and serve these to my kids this morning! And, my picky eater who rarely finishes her bowl of oatmeal ate TWO pancakes!!!

Happy Monday!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Marriage Matters: Date Night!

Do you date your husband? I do and I love it. We don't have a regular night set aside, but we do try to have a babysitter at least once a month to get out and have dinner on our own. We're foodies. We love our wine. We love the whole dinner thing. Kids kind of wreck the experience, know what I mean?

It's not what you do that is important, however. It's the simple fact that you get out with your husband or partner for one-on-one time together. No children, no distractions from one another, doing something you both enjoy and interacting with each other.

When kids come along marriage changes. You're no longer just a couple, but a family and it can be a very difficult transition. Many parents make the mistake of putting their children before their marriage. Yes, that's a mistake. It is one major reason that so many marriages fail in the first three years after having a baby. I've said it before, your marriage is the foundation of your family. You've married your husband "until death do we part." Divorce rates show that not so many people uphold that vow anymore. My husband and I will, because we've chosen to do so. We choose to do so every single day. We put each other first. Not before a hungry baby or a boo boo, but in the big picture. Because to us, marriage matters. Our marriage matters to us. And by making it our priority we benefit our children. Our happiness makes our children happy and that's what we all want, right? Happy children. Happy lives.

Date night makes us happy. So does leaving bedtime struggles to the babysitter once in a while!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mommy overwhelm

Have you ever had a moment when you suddenly wonder if you're doing everything wrong? How you've possibly gotten this far into the parenting job and are only now realizing you may be completely screwing up?

I'm having one of those moments. Day, perhaps. Week. Weak. That's how I feel. What am I doing wrong? I know I'm doing some things right. Out of the house my daughters are superb. I couldn't be prouder the way they interact with other people: parents, teachers, peers. But at home they seem to have completely different personalities. I think I'm mostly feeling this with my 5-year-old, whose behavior heavily influences the behavior of my 4-year-old. They are just 15-months apart. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

My dearest first-born is incredibly smart, funny, talented, beautiful, dramatic and articulate. Sometimes this combination is amazing and makes me so proud of her and the job I must be doing as a mother. And sometimes, this combination is volatile and makes me wonder if I'm raising a sociopath! Or perhaps, just a serious DIVA. Yes, capital letters. In bold. DIVA. She can hardly handle the slightest criticism, constructive or not, or difference of opinion. She must be right, she must have her way and if she doesn't she says, "I feel like you think I'm a stupid, bratty girl when you speak to me like that." I told you she was articulate. Last night she told me, quite seriously, that she thought she was beginning to hate me. This because she was out of bed for the third time in the hour I put her to bed and I told her I was starting to get upset with her.

Maybe I'm too soft. Maybe I'm too hard. I don't know. I'm having one of those days where I doubt everything I do. I'm not even PMS-ing. Are all children such extremists? Clinging and loving you so much one minute and then hating you the next? A wise friend of mine who had decades on me told me once, "Little children, little problems. Big children, big problems." I try to remember this, but I feel that if, at the age of 5, my child is already acting like a 15-year-old, what will life be like when she actually is?

Deep breath. Thank you for reading my vent. I'm going to stop here and clean a closet. With such a task I can see clearly the impact that my efforts make. Or exercise... Wait, cleaning is exercise. Especially if I turn on the 80s station. Off to clean myself skinny again then and forget about parenting troubles for awhile.

Anything troubling you? I've got a great ear and a shoulder to go with it...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seasons meanings

 I love this season. From Thanksgiving to New Years it is one holiday after the other (including my birthday and a few relatives birthdays thrown in there somewhere!). It's a time to really consider all of the blessings in my life and experience gratitude for them.

Many of us think of what we're grateful for, but do you allow yourself to truly fill your heart up with the feeling of gratitude? To truly experience it? Take a moment. Think of one thing, perhaps your child or your husband or your mother, that you couldn't imagine your life without and really be thankful for it (or him or her). Feel thankful. Allow it to fill you up, surround you. Radiate that feeling. That gratefulness, that joy.

Feel good? Carry that with you today and throughout this season. Forget about the shopping and cleaning and all of those stresses that we have added to the season over the many years of human existence. Instead, focus on your joy and share that. That's what this holiday season is about. I love this season.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Finally! Reviews, Samples & Coupons

Hooray! I have finally broken into reviews and coupons and all of that goods stuff! Who doesn't want to nab a few extras when devoting plenty of time and energy to a blog? Well, thanks to the One2One Network (see left side-bar) I will soon be posting reviews for a children's book and the latest Norah Jones CD!

If you check out my new "Samples & Coupons" page you may find something that will be mutually beneficial! This, care of

So much to be thankful for this holiday season! I'm thankful for the wonderful opportunities that blogging presents and so much more grateful for my readers! Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Check back soon for this album review!

I'm thankful for: My cat! He came back!

On October 20th I wrote the post My Cat is Missing. On November 20th he came home! From full moon to full moon. He just showed up, meowing at the door! He's skinny, has some intestinal parasites, but is otherwise healthy. He lost 3lbs, but he's in relatively good shape. So, he's on medicine for the parasites and we're filling his belly with kitten food for now to get him some extra nutrition.

Our other cat showed signs of stress the first week he was gone (licked away two patches of hair), but has been thriving since. She has been around more often, playful, and didn't seem to mind at all that Milo was gone. Upon his return, she's back to hiding and she's growling and hissing at Milo! If it's not the kids it's the cats!

Where he's been is a mystery. He came home clean. Clean! There's no way he's been outside for 30 days. The day he disappeared it was very rainy and he always comes home (quite muddy) to clean, dry off and warm up. To stay alive he must have had access to food and water. I had wondered at first if he'd possibly gotten stuck in one of the newly constructed houses down the street from us, but there have been people in and out of them, so he would have escaped. However, there are also a few houses for sale that are empty. One of which has seen no activity for about a month, so it's possible he snuck in the garage or the house the last time they were there. That house is directly across the street from the cat he fought with just days before disappearing. He has been known to sit in the driveway watching that cat. I can imagine, if he was stuck in the house that he had access to toilet water, but what about food? Unless they had a mouse problem, Milo should have died of starvation long ago. The vet said after 3 or 4 days his body would start to shut down, but test results showed that even his liver function is fine. So, I'm stumped. And curious. But grateful that he's back. Perfect timing for Thanksgiving! What are you grateful for this year?

Already yearning for another adventure outdoors.
But I'm not letting him out!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Tips & Tricks: Easing the morning rush

Most moms have busy, rushed mornings. This week we've got school and holiday travel to deal with. With one child it's fairly easy, with two a bit more tricky and for 3 or more you may as well forget getting yourself ready!

But here's a trick I use to make my morning life easier: Baby boy goes to bed in tomorrow's clothes. That way, when he's awake it's a simple diaper change and I'm off to help the girls with the things they still have a bit of trouble with (like getting their sock toes lined up just right!).

My mom thinks it's crazy that I do this, but I say, "Why not?!" It saves time, stress and struggle with an older baby. Plus, baby clothes are so comfortable that there's hardly a difference between day clothes and night clothes. For special occasions when we want to dress him up a bit the next day he'll go to bed in PJs, but those days are rare exceptions!

This tip and trick works best with babies 4 months and up, after that poo-poo blow-out phase has passed! Until then you're changing clothes so often it hardly makes a difference!

Try it out and see what a difference it makes on your next busy morning!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday braggy blog hop

So, tonight I googled (love how that's accepted as a verb now) "Friday blog hops". I wanted to find the hop of someone I am not already following. And I'm following a lot of blogs. I love to read them nearly as much as I LOVE to write mine (and love you for following)!

Anyway, I came upon this one from Life with the Lebedas and she does themed blog hops. I found this to be quite fun AND timely, since the theme this week is Brag About It. And, since parent-teacher conferences were yesterday, I have plenty to brag about!

My daughters ROCK! Yes, they are only 4 and 5, but still. A mommy can be proud. My first-born baby girl is in Kindergarten and her teacher clearly adores her. She raved about her lovely personality and how well she was doing. She's ready to read, so we have our first take home book. She is reading when she wants to. In fact, at our lunch date yesterday she read, "fajita" and "grill". I helped her with the Spanish "j" sound, of course. The thing that most pleased me, however, was this: Each day the class has a 'special' student who tells the rest of the class about themselves. Then, all of the students draw a picture of that person and the drawings go into a little book that the child gets to bring home. It's really sweet! Well, my little darling has demonstrated that she really listens to what each person is saying because she always incorporates what the child says they love to do. So, if Jill (made-up name) likes to play soccer, then my girl draws her playing soccer! She's the only one who consistently does this. That made me SO proud. Why? Because it shows that she cares about people. That she notices what other people care about and that is exactly what makes a person feel special and worthwhile. I don't often see this with us at home, so to hear that from her teacher made me so happy. That's the kind of person I want to raise!

Onward to our second conference of the afternoon with our second daughter's teacher. My sweet Pumpkin is one of a kind. She is smart and funny and willful. Examples from her teachers include her counting ability: she counted to 49 and then got stuck (20 is the goal for her age). She uses her words: She told the para pro one day, "My nose is extremely stuffy." And she draws with the detail of a much older child. Sometimes, during free choice, she seems a little unsure of what to do. I suggested that she might be bored and I could almost see the lights go on in her teachers heads. They promise to encourage her and challenge her when she seems to need it. She reads at the same level as her sister, is much more focused, can do 16 to 24 piece puzzles on her own and isn't afraid to tell you "No!"

And, since this is a brag post, I should mention how well-behaved the boy was while we dragged him along to 30-minutes of conferences while stuck in his stroller. He was great! And he went nuts when we let him loose at home. I'm starting to decipher words now. I was thinking he wasn't talking, but I think I'm just not paying attention. Today I distinctly heard the following words and/or phrases, "What's that?"; "Papa"; "Kitty-cat"; and "car". Papa tells me that in French he says, "Regard" (look) and "Encore" (more). That's all I can remember, but that's not bad for 14-months! I have a touch of mommy-guilt with him because I don't spend the time reading with him and playing with him like I did his sisters. DD1 spoke at least a dozen words clearly by this age.

So, that's my brag for the day. I'm a very proud mommy. Damn, I love my kids! Not just because of their incredible intelligence, but because they are turning out to be truly lovely people and that matters the most to me.

Link up and brag!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: School Days Weekly Calendar

I don't know about your kids, but my preschooler and kindergartner get overwhelmed by a monthly calendar. I searched and searched online to find one that would help my kids understand which days they had school and which days they didn't. I couldn't find one, so I gave up and made one.

I apologize for the terrible quality of this picture, but I'm having technical difficulties! I would have simply turned my document into a pic, but my microsoft trial has expired and I not prepared to part with the cash required to 'convert'. But I digress...

You can see that we have here a weekly calendar with a school bus shown on each school day. My four-year-old has taken ownership of moving the magnet each day so that both she and her sister know if it is a school day or not.

We hang this on our door, which happens to be steel, so magnets work well. You might choose to use your refrigerator, or laminate it so that you can use cute stickers.

This calendar does a few things:
1. Teaches the days of the week (you probably guessed that one!)
2. Encourages reading and word recognition
3. Encourages responsibility

You are more than welcome to use my idea, but if you make any money from it give me some!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nurture Vs Nature

Will boys simply be boys? Could this be true? For the past 15 years or so, I have leaned to the nurture side of the nurture vs. nature debate. My educational background is in sociology, psychology and family studies. I believed that if I raised my children with gender neutral leanings then they would pick up the best of both 'boy' traits and 'girl' traits.

I'm noticing this is not so. Ever since I had the boy, my theories have been slowly slipping out the window. Not flying, but slipping, testing my long-held beliefs.

Though my daughters enjoy trains, cars, dirt and dinosaurs, they most enjoy playing with their dolls. One is mommy, one is daughter, both have babies. Sometimes they even stick the dolls in their shirts and drop them out pretending to give birth! Hah! That mostly happened toward the end of my pregnancy with the boy.

But the boy just shows a natural affinity toward such things. If I give him a doll, a car, or a noisy lighting/musical toy, he goes for the car and starts making car noises! I don't even know how he learned that!

 The girls have both been very attached to their loveys since the moment they first held them. In fact, I've replaced them several times when lost without them noticing. Now they are too old for that trick and are perfectly happy to use a spare when we can't find Baby Pom or Baby Pim. But they can hardly pass a day without those little friends. The boy, on the other hand, to whom I've introduced a lovely several times, just throws them. Yes, just throws them. Out of the crib, out of his hands, out of the car seat. Give him a little stuffed animal lovey and he may chew on it for a moment, but then he tosses it aside like a stinky diaper (unless it is the aforementioned Baby Pim or Baby Pom, which he'll keep and then try to get away from his sister as quickly as possible!)!

Boo boos. The girls get the tiniest bump or scratch and its a tragedy as serious as Romeo and Juliet. Crying and whining commence. Bandaids and ice are required even if they haven't broken skin or bruised. It's terrible! And irritating! The boy, on the other hand, can hit his head on the floor hard, look stunned for a moment, laugh and go about his business. Sometimes when he accidentally bumps it he'll bump it again as if investigating the event. And when he falls off of something and smashes his face into the carpet whether the hard one at home, or the spongy one in mall play areas, he seriously just laughs and then climbs up to do it again!

My girls are girly. My boy is such a boy.

Nurture Vs. Nature? I'm now leaning toward nature.

How about you?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Relax & Surf Blog Hop

I love this Sunday blog hop because there are no rules! See the link to the right and have a fabulous Sunday!
I'm off to decorate turkeys with my kids!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oh, how they grow and permanent birth control

 Well, that's it. Now that the boy is officially a toddler, I'm completely done with babies. I've had my 3 in 5 years. My baby girl is now a little girl. A real girl! And my 4-year-old is quickly leaving behind those baby features and turning into a real girl too! It's shocking and breathtaking and humbling to watch them grow. To see the little people they are becoming. It warms my heart and scares me at the same time! But my job is to raise them to be independent of me. To simply be independent. And that's what I'm doing. I hope.

Did you realize, when you thought about having a baby, or when you were pregnant, that you would become the entire world of another person? That everything that is important to them is right there in your arms? I wonder how long this goes on?

Next week I have my annual exam. It's time to consider permanent birth control. Though I've always known I would have two girls and one boy, in that order, no more and no less, I don't want to take any chances! I love my babies. Their sweet, soft cheeks. But I am done! I am reclaiming my body after five years of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. So, since tubal ligation doesn't seem to work (as evidenced by my pregnant cousin who had one 5 years ago), I am considering Essure. If you don't know what that is, here is an excerpt from their website:

Unlike other permanent birth control, the Essure procedure does not require cutting into the body or the use of radiofrequency energy to burn the fallopian tubes. Instead, an Essure trained doctor inserts soft, flexible inserts through the body’s natural pathways (vagina, cervix, and uterus) and into your fallopian tubes. The very tip of the device remains outside the fallopian tube, which provides you and your doctor with immediate visual confirmation of placement.
During the 3 months following the procedure, your body and the inserts work together to form a natural barrier that prevents sperm from reaching the egg. During this period, you must continue using another form of birth control (other than an IUD).

What do you think? Does anyone have any experience with this?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Landing the helicopter

Remember when we were kids and we could play outside for hours and hours without every checking in with Mom? That's how it was at my house, anyway. I grew up on 10 acres of land next to my grandma and grandpa's 10 acres and their neighbor, my uncle! We had so much room to run and play. "Urban sprawl" wasn't even a phrase that existed yet and the world at large (i.e. the backyard) seemed trustworthy.

We played in the dirt, jumped in an abandoned old speedboat that was propped up on the property. Played in a huge shed full of tractors. Climbed very high trees over a swamp. We had incredible adventures right in our backyard.

Today, when it comes to playing outside, I'm a bit of a helicopter parent. I find myself constantly saying, "Walking feet on the sidewalk! Watch out for the swing! Don't run with sticks! Get back on the grass! Stay where you can see me!" I'm constantly directing. Our backyard ends at the woods and between the neighbor and us there is a public sidewalk. It ends at the treeline, so its not used often. On the other side of us is an empty lot. We have no fence. I never let the girls play on their own because I feel too far from them if I'm in the house. Too many stories about children being taken right under their parents' noses swirl around my paranoid brain.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day. Unseasonably warm. I put baby/toddler boy down for his nap around 12:30pm (he had refused his morning nap) and the girls begged to go outside. I had things to do inside, so I walked them out to the backyard, which is down the deck's flight of steps and gave them their boundaries. We reviewed what they were to do if I called their names and then I set them free. I landed the helicopter. I went back into the house.

I could hear them at all times. I watched them out the window every couple of minutes. I sat on the deck for awhile reading blogs while they played, but I left them alone. I kept my mouth closed. I let them play in the dirt, go into the woods a few feet to gather grass cuttings, sticks, more dirt and whatever else struck their fancy!

They played together so beautifully outside. For 3 hours!!! I called them in only when the boy woke up. They came for chocolate milk and then took an hour and a half long bath! No fights, no arguing. They were having so much fun in the bath I literally had to drag them out of it! Teeth chattering because the water had turned cold, but they didn't care. It was lovely.

That's what childhood should be. Carefree, fun and full of laughter.

Three under a teepee

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mama Kat's writing workshop prompt: Ignoring Intuition

 As you know from my previous post, I'm a firm believer in intuition. I also disbelieve in coincidence. If something happens, there is a reason, a connection. Each week Mama Kat offers 5 writing prompts to get writers writing.

As it happens, this week one of them is:
Describe a moment when you ignored your intuition. What happened?

Coincidence? I think not! Obviously. So, something in the universe, God, if you prefer, is telling me to listen closely to my intuition and reminding me of what happens when I don't. So, I'll share with you what happened once when I ignored my intuition.

I met my friend... we'll call her Louise... when I was 5. I was hiding under the table at Kindergarten round-up. My mother was in the next room and I was painfully shy. Louise reached out to me and said, "Why are you crying?" We've been friends ever since. That's 30 years now. Though we haven't been in close contact since we graduated high-school, we've always shared a close connection. Similar to the one I share with my sister. Whenever she was on my mind for no known reason I just knew it was time to call her. Inevitably she'd tell me she'd been thinking of me and was going through something that required an empathic shoulder. Or, I'd dream of her and then get a call from her the next day. I learned to trust that when Louise was on my mind it was time to get in touch.

Deep breath.

A couple of years ago I started dreaming of her often. More often than I ever had. It had been a couple of years since we'd seen each other and nearly a year since we talked. I had two young children and a Kindermusik business to take care of and she was living the free and easy single life. Every morning after a dream, I'd think to myself, "I'll call her later today or tomorrow." This went on for a few months. I had this nagging, pulling feeling telling me to call her, but I let life get in the way and used it as an excuse. One day in April I dreamed of her again. It was a frightening dream and she was in serious trouble. She was drugged, drunk, lost and asking for my help. I woke up and knew that was the day I must call her. I had an early doctors appointment and called her when I got into my car to go home. My husband was home with the girls. There was no answer, so I left her a message and resolved to call again later.

Later, that afternoon, I got a call from my mom. She said, "DG," ok, actually she said my name, but I'm keeping that to myself, "It's Louise."

Oh God! I thought. I knew it!

"What happened?" I asked, terrified.

Louise had overdosed the night before, while I was dreaming of her, and was in the hospital with severe liver failure. They didn't know if she would make it.

If I had only called her! For months her spirit had been calling to mine, reaching out for help and I let her down. Maybe I could have done something. Maybe just talking with me would have altered her path in a better way.

The story continues, and Louise survives, but I'll stop here with one last thought to share. Though I felt guilty for a long time for ignoring my intuition, I came to understand that too had happened for a reason. Louise had to learn her own lesson. The Universe demanded that I stay out of the way, and so I did. But now, when I hear the voice or dream a dream, I listen. Do you?

I promise to get back to the typical Domestic Goddess Mommy writings tomorrow! Like telling you how my little guy is now a serious walker and climber, how babies don't understand the concept of daylight savings and how this gorgeous, crazy Midwest weather is setting my domestic duties way off course!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Updates, transitions and psychic phenomena


Where has my sweet little baby gone? He's been taken over by a screaming, fitful toddler! He finally started really trying to walk about a week ago. 8 steps is his high score so far, but he's already acting more like a toddler than the gentle, cuddly little guy of just a few weeks ago. Baby bliss has turned into toddler hell! Ok, it isn't quite that bad, but it's on the horizon! My 4-year-old needs to stop having fits before baby boy... I should start calling him toddler boy... hits the terrible twos (which, if you're a first-timer, you might not know that this actually starts around 18-months). Plus, he seems to be teething and going through a growth-spurt all at once, so as you can imagine it's a lot of fun at my house right now!

In other news, I've had my haircut for the first time in about 9-months! Goodness, it feels good. Remember those days when you kept up with your hair? A good cut at least every three months? Expensive salon products to keep it gorgeous between visits? Three kids later and I'm averaging 2 haircuts a year and looking for products in the $5 range! My naturally curly hair requires more love! (Any hair products for curls that need to be reviewed out there? Anyone?)

A few of you have asked about my sweet kitty, Milo. Sadly, he did not return home. It's been almost 3 weeks. I've been encouraged not to give up hope, but I no longer need it. I feel he's left the physical world for the spiritual one. Do you believe in intuition and pyschics? I've got a strong intuition that sometimes turns out to be psychic. For instance, I often dream of things as they happen: a friend having her twins, another friend dying of cancer, another overdosing (yes, I have all sorts of friends!). Sometimes I'll hear a song in my head moments before it comes on the radio, or know exactly who is calling when the phone rings. But the most significant 'psychic' experience for me was having a psychic pregnancy. I started having morning sickness and cravings. After a couple of weeks of this I took a pregnancy test even though I was on the pill and had never missed a period. Negative. So, I called my sister and asked her if she was pregnant. We've always been close and tend to just know when the other needs us. At least we used to be, but that's another story. Anyway, she said she wasn't. My morning sickness continued. I couldn't even stand coffee! Then one day at 10am I craved madly for a hamburger! I happened to have minced meat and buns and cooked one up. At 10 in the morning! I promptly called my sister again and asked, "Are you sure you aren't pregnant?" She told me she was about a week late, but as that was not uncommon she was waiting to take a test. I had already taken another one because I felt pregnant! But I wasn't! I told her, "One of us is pregnant and it isn't me. You take another test right now!" And she did. And she was. She never had morning sickness, but I had it for her the whole first trimester. Weird, hey? But that's why I trust my feeling that Milo is gone.

Whenever my husband travels overnight I feel a little edgy. Every sound sounds a little different. I triple check the locks on doors and windows. I always feel just a bit uneasy without him. But the other night when he was gone I didn't feel that way at all. And just as I climbed into bed I noticed that. I thought, "Hmmm, I feel completely safe and secure." And then I felt so strongly that Milo was with me. Watching over, protecting his family. And my heart accepted that he's passed on.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Holy molars!

For the past two nights baby boy has screamed and screamed and screamed. Fortunately, I have learned to sleep through it! Well, not really, but the girls obviously have! So, today when he seemed to be refusing to nap long after he should have been sleeping soundly I pinned him down and had a look into that sweet little mouth of his. Don't worry, I was gentle. You ladies with pre-crawlers, just wait! Diaper changes, dressing/undressing, and checking for teeth when necessary become battles to the death! OK, not the death... I'm exaggerating slightly. Slightly.

Anyway, I pinned him down and stuck my relatively freshly-washed finger to feel around in there. For a few days I've noticed swelling, suspected teething, but I haven't seen any sign of teeth erupting. He only has four. Those central incisors, which took their own time coming in.

Here's a handy little chart from this website for you to show the approximate ages that teeth erupt. Obviously some babies teeth much earlier and some much later, but the order of eruption typically remains the same. When baby boy began showing signs of teething I was looking for that telltale whitish gum around the lateral incisor location. However, that's not what is coming in! He's getting his first molars! No wonder he's been so crabby! I can see it and feel it on his right side, but not his left, though he's quite swollen over there too. I have a terrible feeling he's going to teeth constantly from this point on until the rest are in. That's what daughter #2 did. Two teeth at 7 1/2 months, then NOTHING until 10 1/2 months and then she never, ever stopped.

Oh well, I'll get sleep when he's 5. I hope. Until then, I happily accept Starbucks gift cards!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cleaning myself skinny

Good morning! Two in school and one napping (sort-of). I do so love this time of day!

I've been busy earning my title and it's gone quite well. Since Monday I've baked bread, tidied and vacuumed the basement, wiped down all of the kitchen cupboards, completed (washed, dried AND hung or put away) 98% of the laundry, bathed my children (hee hee, I do consider this an accomplishment), and tidied our tiny laundry room, transferred the Wii from the living room to the basement, hooked it up and played with the girls. I have much yet to do before my hubby returns tonight, but I'm taking baby's nap time off to catch-up on blog reading and writing.

It was hard to resist the pull of the computer! I wanted to just pop on to check comments, but I knew if I did an hour would pass before I was off again. It's so easy to be sucked into all of the interesting blogs I follow. I did manage to check the weather and the email without spending more than two minutes online yesterday morning, though. Other than that, it was cleaning and kids! I had planned to enjoy a glass of wine while I blogged last night, but instead I watched a funny chick-flick while I finished up the laundry. OK, enough about laundry! I hate laundry!

Today my mission includes organizing the master bedroom closet, cleaning the master bathroom and dusting and vacuuming the main level of the house. I have about 12 other things on the list, but these are the priority.
I'm thinking that housekeeping duties should be considered my exercise workout. If I cleaned like I have been everyday, not only would my house be amazingly spotless (for 5-minutes at a time), but I might also lose those last 10 (ok, with the Halloween candy it's creeping closer to 15) pounds and get into relatively good physical shape. I read a study once where hotel housekeepers were split into two groups: one was told to consider their job as exercise and the other was told nothing. The first group lost more weight than the second! They actually burned more calories doing the same thing! I'm sorry that my mommy-brain prohibits me from citing the source of that study. Who needs diets! I'm going to clean myself skinny!

Thanks for your support in my endeavor to switch off! Now I'm off to blog hop (see the link for 3 four and under's blog hop) and follow back my new followers. I'm almost to 100!!!! I am very excited about this. I hope you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Your mission, should you choose to accept it...

 It's Monday and for many of us Stay-at or work-from home moms it means getting the house back in order after the weekend. I'm pleased to say that I've already got the laundry folded and put away, with another load in the washing machine as I type. I'm off to clean the kitchen the moment I click "publish".

I've decided to take a couple of days off of the computer. Upon finishing this post I will devote all of my time and energy to my family and house until tomorrow night after the children are in bed. Normally that time is reserved strictly for my husband and me, but my man will be traveling, so instead I'll share my glass of wine with you and I'll write about just how much one can get done when one hits the power switch on the laptop or desktop!

I challenge you to join me. Switch off the computer and switch on to your life for the next 36-hours or so. Hitting the power button is not just to get the laundry done or the toilets cleaned, it's also about being present with your family. Accept my challenge through a comment and then come back here on Wednesday to read about my experience and tell me about yours!

Goodbye for now, dear readers! I wish you productivity!  Enjoy the real world! I look forward to hearing about your experience and sharing mine!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Marriage Matters

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. How lovely and wonderful it is to be married to this man. I am lucky and grateful. We've had big ups and bigger downs, but our 10th year together has been a very happy one. It is not a fairytale. "Happily ever after" likely doesn't exist, but happy most of the time certainly does!

Like good parenting, a good marriage takes hard work and effort. Dedication, commitment and energy. I used to think that marriage should be easy. If it was too hard then it wasn't worth it. Boy, have I grown up! The more you put into your marriage the more you get out of it. Just like an education and the career that follows, you have to keep working, keep learning and keep giving one hundred percent. If you stop putting in effort at work you'll lose your job. If you stop putting effort into your marriage, you'll lose your marriage.

Marriage matters. The relationship between husband and wife is the priority in the family because it is the foundation of the family, the very reason there is a family. It's easy to forget about this when a baby comes along. You devote so much time and energy toward the baby that sometimes you simply forget about each other, or begin to take each other for granted. Add a second child and you may go days hardly looking at each other (especially if you have twins or children very close together). It is vital to keep putting meeting each others needs amid the needs of your children. A fire left untended dies out. If anything, think of your marriage as a child. A new marriage needs the same time as attention as a newborn baby. A 5-year-old marriage is more secure, less prone to tantrums, but still needs plenty of love and attention. And so on, and so forth.

I encourage you to take a moment today to let your spouse know that they matter to you. That your marriage matters.

A few good books that have helped me along the way:

His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage Fifteenth Anniversary Edition
Saying What's Real: 7 Keys to Authentic Communication and Relationship Success
Grow Up!: How Taking Responsibility Can Make You a Happy Adult

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday Tips & Tricks

Ok, so this is late and might not really count, but I'm excited to do this with my kids portraits:

Turn your pictures into an art canvas! Click here to find out more & let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Are we there yet?

Saturday the children and I left hubby behind and went to my parents' house two hours away. The trip there was relatively easy. One emergency potty stop (where my 4-year-old sounded out the word BEER on the gas station window!) and 32 repeat playings of Can You Feel the Love Tonight on a Disney Princess CD and we were there. Well, almost. We'd reached the freeway exit. From there it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach my parents house.

"Are we there yet?" asked 4-year-old little sis.
"Not yet!" I happily responded. I was thinking how cute and typical of a TV sitcom that question was.
"Are we there yet?" She asked again seconds after the "t" of "yet" left my tongue.
"Are we there yet?"
"Not yet!"
"Are we there yet?"
"Honey, I just told you 4 times that we're not there. Do you think we're there?"
"I'm just so excited to see Grandma!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait!"
"Not much longer, sweetie."

Repeat scene 15 times.
A little funny, a little annoying, but we ended up making a game of it. I answered in all sorts of different voices and accents and turned the tables about a mile from home (my parents haven't moved in 40 years - it's home to me!).

"Is that Grandma's house?" I kept asking. It was actually fun to see how they recognized the area, but weren't sure which house belonged to Grandma and Grandpa.

We arrived and had a lovely, quiet evening with Grandma and Grandpa. The baby went down easily, though he didn't stay down very well. Grandma got the girls ready for bed and once everyone was tucked in I got to play Wii with my dad. That was my favorite part of the trip. Isn't it fun to be an adult with your parents? I think it's as fun for them.

Sunday was my grandmother's 99th birthday surprise party. She was surprised and so happy. She's such a lady. After lunch she, with the aid of her walker and nurse, made the rounds to every person to say thank you. I admire this woman so much. I often wonder if I'll be as lucky as she to see not only my children and grandchildren grow, but my great-grandchildren as well. The oldest great-grandchildren are headed to university or the military. The youngest (my baby for another few months - there are a couple more babies on the way) is just graduating to table food. She's led an amazing life. A century. And she hasn't sat idly by letting old age and strokes slow her down. Oh no, she still teaches art lessons at her own studio a few sessions per year, lives in her own home and goes to parties! The reason she's still living is because she is still living every day of her life.

We left to return to our home directly from the restaurant where the party was held. A quick stop for a grande peppermint mocha and some vanilla milk for the kids and we were on our way. The second hour of this drive was so awful I can't bear to recount it as one should not have wine so early in the morning. Let's just say we had to stop, not to potty, but to have a time-out. Blessed am I to have a husband who was feeling so refreshed and relaxed after a full 24-hours to himself. He took over when we got home and I got that glass of wine!

Who do you admire? Who inspires you to truly live each moment of your life?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy 99th Birthday, Grandma!

Every year on this day we celebrate your birth
Another year gone by that you've graced this Earth

A woman, a mother, an artist, a teacher
We love all of you, every flaw, every feature

How blessed we are to be your family
A more magnificent person there never will be

Happy 99th Birthday, Grams
Love DG & the Fam

(c) DGMommy 10/23/10

Friday, October 22, 2010

Easy Cheesy Pasta

I love a good cheesy pasta as much as the next mid-western girl, but I can't bear the thought of feeding my children such processed garbage (no offense if you do) and the organic brands cost as much as an entire box of pasta. So, I make my own. It is nearly as quick and easy as the boxed brands and so much tastier. Plus, you have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what is going into your children's food.

So here is the recipe (disclaimer: I am an intuitive cook. I rarely measure, but I'll put basic measurements here that are meant to be used as guidelines):

Pasta of your choice, set to boil while you prepare the sauce.
Enough to serve 4

Sauce (this is a basic bechemel sauce with cheese, so if you know how to do that you're set):

 2 tbsp Butter
1 to 2 tbsp (whole wheat for health, but it really doesn't matter) flour
1/2 to 1 Cup (organic) milk
1/2 to 1 Cup shredded cheese (we already talked about this!)

Optional ingredients: minced garlic, cauliflower puree, nutmeg or your favorite herb.

Step 1: Grate cheese (do not use processed - make sure it is natural), and set aside.
Step 2: Melt butter in small to medium sauce pan on low heat
Step 3: Once the butter is melted, remove from heat, slowly add flour while stirring to keep it smooth
Step 4: As the flour and butter become a paste, slowly add the milk (you may heat this beforehand to avoid lumps)
Step 5: Continue to stir and add milk until you have enough to cover your pasta. Now you can add your optional items (note: if you are adding cauliflower puree to sneak in some veggies, reduce the amount of milk used).
If your sauce has become lumpy, use a whisk until it's smooth again.
Step 6: Add cheese and stir until nicely melted and the sauce is once again smooth
Step 7: Combine drained pasta and cheese sauce. Add salt or pepper to taste

Et Voila!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Catch-up day!

Well, I've been a total slacker this week. Yes, the kitchen has been cleaned everyday, but I still haven't steamed anything and I'm behind on the laundry. And the kids need to be bathed! Well, two out of three anyway.

Do you remember a time before you had children? Thinking you were so very busy and there weren't enough hours in the day! Then you had baby and you couldn't believe how much time you wasted before kids?!

For moms of 2: Do you remember how busy you thought you were with one baby? Then baby #2 came along and you reminisced about how much time you didn't realize you had with only one child?

Vintage Humor Retro 50's "I Child Proofed My House, but They Still Get In" Wall ClockFor moms of 3: Do you remember how easy it was with two?! You and your husband could pair off and it was easy as pie. You may never have looked in each other's eyes once during a meal, but you shared the work and only had to deal with one at a time when you were together? Now you hardly notice your husband at all during a meal with the kids, you never have a free-hand, something or someone ALWAYS needs to be cleaned and the house needs as much attention as the kids because the kids are constantly leaving tornadoes in their wakes!

For moms of 4 and more: You must have so much love that you don't even notice the insanity anymore. Yay for you! Psychotherapy should be free at this point. I am one of 4. I know my mom could have really used it. :)
(love you, Mom, you're the best...)

Today's To-Dos:

Finish Laundry (two loads to fold/hang)
Steam couches (maybe if I start small I'll do it)

That is it. Besides the usual kitchen clean-up 3 to 5 times a day. Seriously, how many times a day do you clean your kitchen?


I have cut down on the mochas and wine, but the scale has gone in the wrong direction. I'm blaming PMS, because I really have been being good!

The cat is still missing. Time to mention it to the girls. TMI ALERT: I noticed strange poop in the litter box. It is not Meena's. Meena, however, acted quite strangely the day Milo went missing and has nervously licked away a large patch of hair on her back. Think she knows something we don't. I know other people are dealing with far more difficult things in their lives. I'm grateful for everything I do have and the health of my family. I still miss my cat. See: Perspective

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My cat is missing.

 My cat is missing. He's an indoor/outdoor cat. Not by my choice, but he so persistently wants to explore the outdoors that I have to let him. Or deal with constant meowing and scratching at doors. But he always comes home. Several times a day, in fact. Just to check in or have a nap. And though we've gone to bed before he's come home at night a few times, he's always there at the door in the morning demanding to be let in! I went to bed before my husband Monday night. I can't remember if Milo (the cat) was inside or out. He's usually blending into the navy blue armchair, curled into a ball of dark fur. When the light is low one can hardly see him.

Yesterday evening, as the sun began to set, I asked my husband if he had let the cat out this morning when he left for work. Typically Milo is the first one up! Or, if the baby wakes him he comes upstairs meowing to be let into the garage to do his business and have some breakfast. But I hadn't seen him all day. Not once. So, husband hopped on the bicycle to take a look around the cat's usual haunts on our street... and to make sure there was no smashed furry patch on the road... per my prompting. No sign of him. Baby boy woke me around 4am and I checked outside, hoping my cat would be there waiting. Nope. And again this morning. No sign. So, where's my cat? He always comes home. He annoys the crap out of me half the time, but he's my cat. I love him. He's one of my babies. And now I'm worried.

I brought him home on September 11th. Yes, the September 11th. We were living in Asia at the time and my husband traveled frequently.We were newlyweds and I'd never lived further than two hours from home (my parents' house of nearly 40-years now). I was in a strange country. I didn't know a soul. I needed a cat.  We had adopted Meena at 6-months old, just a week or so after moving there, to keep me company on all of his travels. Then, several months later a friend told me about a kitten she had found in her back yard. No sign of the mama and his eyes weren't even open. She had two older cats already and couldn't keep him. I took him in and bottle fed him and gave him love. This was not Milo. This was Bernard. But Bernard didn't make it past that first week. In our mutual grieving, my friend told me about a box of kittens that had been left at her vet's doorstep. We agreed I should stop by and just take a look!

My husband was traveling again. He was not there to deter me, though we had agreed after Bernard's passing that we should stick with just one cat. So, I stopped. First I held a tiny orange and white cat. But I'm not fond of orange cats. Then I saw Milo. The biggest of the litter, huge blue eyes and dark brown fur. One paw white, one brown. I picked him up and he immediately made a home on my shoulder. It was love at first purr. This silly, little cat was about 5 weeks old. He had just been weened from the bottle, but was drinking formula from a bowl. He sort-of rocked when he walked in the funniest way. He needed a bath after every use of the litter. He was so funny and so cute. Meena was about a year old and wasn't intimidated by this new roommate. She could knock him over just by lifting a paw. I introduced them to one another while the planes crashed into buildings.

Milo greeted my husband, upon his return, with that funny waddle of his. The husband was not upset. They became fast friends and Milo made a home in the husband's bathrobe pocket most mornings. He slept every night at my shoulder, nuzzling into my neck. These were lovely times. 4-years later we had a baby, and the kitty baby was displaced. But he handled it well. Months after that we moved back to the US and the cats came with us. They took longer to recover from the trip than we did, but eventually Milo felt at home again. He's the best cat for children. He lets them pull on him, lay on him, poke at him. He's always patient, and when they go too far he gives them a harmless warning. Enough to scare them, but never enough to hurt them. He's a good cat. But he's missing. And he doesn't have a collar. He always gets out of them, so we quit bothering. Enough of the neighbors know where he belongs. We'll wait another day to tell the girls.

Hopefully, he's safe.

How will I tell her?