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...