Wednesday, December 24, 2008

N--Naughty or Nice?

I rarely read the news for two reasons: 1) It uses up too much of my valuable time and 2) Most of it is sad, violent, and/or depressing. Yuck. But, my wonderful hubby, who is a pretty avid news reader/watcher, will save stories for me to read that he knows are of interest to me (usually psychological and/or anthropolical related articles). Here's the one he saved the other day:

(Did I mention that my degree is in psychology?) I found this article interesting, especially the last paragraphs. It looks like we have a choice to be naughty or nice--WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK IT??!!?!??! Stay out of those powerful positions, I guess. Unless you have a very solid moral character, eh? Darn it, I'm still considering politics as a profession....Do you think my moral character is strong enough? :)
Well, choose niceness--Santa still has 15 hours, according to my timezone. (Is there such a thing as Christmas eve deathbed repentance?)

Monday, December 8, 2008

M is for MOVING!!!!

Many of you know that throughout my married life we have tittered back and forth between CA and WA. Well, my blog drought has been due to the fact that I have been packing and driving and soon-will-be-unloading our stuff! And, we're back in Washington and we plan on staying for a while. You may be asking, "Why the h_ _ l did you leave sunny, beautiful, warm southern California???!!!!"

I guess you could say that we are "going green." Western Washington is gorgeous!! Plus, I know how far my dollar goes in both states. While I love the beach and pleasant weather, this just isn't my dream home:

Okay, slight exaggeration. But, you get the idea.

Email me if you'd like my new snail mail address--you just might get a Christmas card, you never know!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

L is for Love Languages

I absolutely love these "Love Languages" books by Gary Chapman. In case you've never heard of these books--here are the 5 main love languages he's identified, (please, please, follow this link to read about them in detail: )
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Quality Time
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Acts of Service
5. Physical Touch

Dr. Chapman also acknowledges that we all probably give and receive love using all five of the languages, but we usually have a dominant language.

Here's a very simple quiz to give you a hint as to what language you communicate in and respond to the most (bare in mind--this is just a little quiz--for the real deal--buy the book!)

The quiz:

He has written several books based on these five love languages. This one is geared more towards families.

While The Five Love Languages is more for couples and proved to be insightful for me, I don't find it difficult to analyze and improve upon my husband's and my relationship. We chose each other because we were compatible (and really attracted to each other!) and have been working on our marriage over the years. The kids, however, oh boy! The Five Love Languages of Children was a real eye-opener for me: I reflected on all four of my children and why I was just not "getting through" to each one as well as I wished I could. Now I have a better understanding of what each individual child needs.

This one is geared more towards teens. Dr. Chapman writes, in many of his books, that people's dominant love language sometimes changes over time--especially in times of growth and change. Sounds like puberty is number one on that list!

There are many more love language books:

Hope you can at least get your hands on the four that I have pictured here, 'cause, "what the world needs now--is love! Sweet love! It's the only thing that there's just too little of." Seriously though, I hope you find these books both insightful and healing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

K is for Kindness

Thanks to Marie' for 7-tagging me. I thought that was so kind. So, yes, I will play along. As far as other kind things: I really believe in the sayings, "What goes around, comes around" and "Do unto others, kindly and true, as you would have others do unto you." (The latter of the two I make my kids repeat until they say it in their sleep).

7 things that I can do:
1. Entertain more than 15 kids at one time
2. Sightread music
3. Keep secrets
4. Dance
5. Block 6' 4" tall men in volleyball
6. Make greeting card/stationary
7. Knock on strangers' doors and talk about Proposition 8

7 things I cannot do:
1. Be patient (well, I probably can do it, but it's so hard)
2. Bowl
3. Grow really, really long fingernails
4. Shop at expensive department stores
5. Keep the top of my clothes dryer clutter-free
6. Buy processed cheeses or meats
7. Refrain from quizzing people on where various products are made (I'm a nerd at heart).

7 things I say often:
1. Let it go in one ear and out the other.
2. Hi, babe (usual greeting for hubby).
3. Do not talk back to me!
4. Time to eat!
5. Shhhh.
6. Call me.
7. How was work/school today?

7 things I plan to do before I die:
1. Run a marathon
2. Visit all 50 states (only 8 remaining)
3. Write several books
4. Learn to fly a helicopter
5. Serve a mission with my husband
6. Witness my children's temple weddings
7. Hold political offices

7 things that attract me to my man:
1. His quick, charming smile
2. His sense of humor
3. His tolerance of my all-night snuggling, even if it's 90 degrees outside
4. His love for our children
5. His sincerity
6. His happiness with the simple things in life
7. How he thinks so deeply about things and then speaks with great eloquence and affirmation

7 Favorite Foods:
1. Homemade chicken and dumplings
2. Lentil soup with rosemary
3. A really good green salad
4. Greek pizza
5. My hubby's steak
6. Homemade oatmeal hazelnut bread
7. Apple crisp

7 people who I would like to do this (only if you want to):
1. Shea
2. Heidi
3. Jacy
4. Christy
5. Becca
6. Molly
7. Melissa

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

jokes (and only ONE WEEK until elections!!)

Mimi was just over five feet tall and pleasingly plump. After a minor accident, her mother accompanied her to the emergency room. The triage nurse asked Mimi for her height and weight to which she quickly blurted out, "Five-foot-eight and 125 pounds!"

"Sweetheart," her mother gently chided, "this is not the internet."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Uh, another joke :)

Forgive me, my great grandfather passed away. Then, without being told of his death, his wife, who was in the hospital, died two days after him (doesn't that give you chills). I hope I can die that way, when I lived a good, long, healthy life and within days of my husband. So, I was at their funeral over the weekend and it was so nice to remember them and to know that they are together forever.

I was able to play the organ at their funeral. For those who know me, I love, love, love music and feel it can really set the mood, faster than spoken words. I chose songs that were pensive,but not tragic, uplifting, but not cheery. My own soul feels grateful to have known my great grandparents and to know that my own children have a few happy memories of their own about their great, great grandparents.

Here's a cute little joke for you:

A woman's husband was stationed overseas, when her four-year-old daughter decided that she needed a baby brother.
"Good idea," the mother told her, "but don't you think we should wait until your father's home?"
The little girl had a better idea, "Why don't we just surprise him?!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jokes will not be every day....

Oh my, life gets busy! Sorry, the jokes will not be every day. I ran a killer race on Saturday--the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. It was awesome! I am still a little achy. I run at least 20 miles ever week and this race was just a 10K but because of all the obstacles--whew, what a grueling and fun run! I'll post pictures in a few weeks.

Now I find myself in the midst of parent/teacher conferences and class parties so I can't guarantee a joke every day. Waah, waah, ya, I know....

Today--a couple of fun food quotes (I apologize in advance if you are a vegetarian):

"Red meat is not bad for you. Now, blue-green meat--that's bad for you!" Tom Smothers

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook." Julia Child

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Daily joke~~~

A couple was sitting at a bar having a drink. The man snickers quietly to his wife and says, "Look at that funny-looking, old couple over there."

She looks where he's indicated, "You fool-- that's a mirror."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daily joke...

A mother was explaining perspective to her young daughter, showing her that when an object was close-up it looked big, but the same object viewed from far-away looked small. The little girl was amazed and ran off happily.

A few minutes later she came up to her mother and stated, "But Mom, from far away, your bottom still looks big!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Daily joke:

A lawyer parks his shiny Jaguar on the side of the road. He is just getting out when a car comes zooming past and rips off his driver's side door. He's angry and shouting and cursing at the maniac. He is still ranting when a cop pulls up a few minutes later. "Officer! Some !#@&# idiot ripped off the door of my new Jaguar!" The officer replies, "You lawyers--you're so preoccupied with your car that you didn't even notice that your left arm has been torn off." The lawyer, shocked, looks down and screams, "My Rolex!"

J is for Jokes

Ah, there's nothing like a good joke. Every now and then I can think up a good one. For those in-between-times when I'm feeling not-so-creative I am grateful that I can read jokes that someone truly funny came up with.

Things here in CA are really getting heated with this proposition 8. I am for this proposition because I believe in family and that marriage is the foundation to creating, bearing, and raising children. Last I checked, two people of the same sex couldn't make a baby. Since that's one of the purposes of marriage--I'm all for traditional marriage. I've gotten my share of hurtful comments and even had my yard sign stolen.

Anyway---things are so busy with this that I feel I need to keep my chin up and a smile on my face (and a song in my heart, yada, yada, yada). So, from here until election day I will post a joke or funny story every day.

Happy reading and don't forget to vote!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I is for Internet [Safety]

At some point in your child's young life you have to talk about strangers. This is, hopefully, not a one time deal. They need to be aware of what to do in various scenarios/situations. Amongst many things, they have to be taught that appearances can be deceiving. This brings me to this topic, internet safety.

This is something that parents need to be greatly involved in--for their safety and the safety of their children. Here are a couple of quizzes for you to take, for starters:

Maybe you are really smart and knew all the answers. Good for you--but you still need to be careful. Some quick thoughts on basic internet safety:

1. Keep all computers in high traffic areas--not bedrooms. This is kind of a challenge with wi-fi and all sorts of wireless handhelds available. Maybe opt to not have wireless devices.

2. Purchase and use internet filter software. Check out some comparisons and buy the one that best suits your needs:

There are so many wonderful features with the filters--many of them allow you to set up how sensitive you want alerts and filters to be--many, many options--it's awesome.

3. Be in the room when your a family member has to use the internet. Instruct them to never download anything from unknown or questionable sources, never give out ANY personal information, discourage chat rooms, bookmark sites so as not to have to search for them, not to use free peer-to-peer or chat-based programs to download material, and to use credible search engines.

4. Teach family members to have the courage to turn things off, as there are always ways to bypass filtering or sometimes something sneaks past the filter. By definition, pornography is any visual or written medium created with the intent to sexually stimulate. Teach yourself and family members, "If it turns you on--turn it off--IMMEDIATELY!" An educated man once noted that all males are addicted to pornography without even having to view it. Yes, males are very visual, but female viewing of pornography is also on the rise. The following link lists some alarming statistics:

5. Finally, practice these tips yourself!! While blogs are all the rage consider making yours password-protected. I've seen some blogs where people list their addresses and schools that their children attend--not a safe move, parents! (Even pictures of your child in front of their school are unwise). If you do not wish to make your blog private than at least refer to your family members by made-up names, "Handsome hubby," "Princess #1," "Superkid," etc....

My intention is not to scare you, but to help you protect your family. It's up to you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

H is for Housework

Joy of joys--housework!! I used to hate some aspects of it, especially the little chores that constantly need to be redone. For me, especially, it was cleaning up the area wherever the youngest child ate. Kids eat 4 or 5 times a day. At one point I noticed that I was almost holding a grudge against the youngest child for the messes that they unknowingly were creating. I came to grips with myself and after some serious pondering, decided that this was the stage of my life, cleaning up after babies--might as well do it with a smile. It sounds cheesy, but really, it was my change in attitude that made the difference.

I have always loved having a clean house. And I have always loved delegating. The two work together in housework.

First off, parents of little ones: notice how your baby or toddler will sometimes try to do a chore with you. While you may be annoyed at their desire to take out all the spoons from the dishwasher, realize that they are trying to help--Let them! We have children's size brooms, dustpans, pretend vacuum cleaners, etc. And all kids love feather dusters. From my experience, two-year-olds can learn to fold washcloths and match socks.

Older children, even those who "helped" with the chores when they were toddlers, get to a point where they don't want to do chores. I suggest a chore chart for each child with their daily tasks listed so they can have a way to check them off. Allowance, based on doing chores, is perfect for teaching cause and effect. And, of course, every wise parent knows that making the task a game helps tremendously. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Beat the timer: Set the timer--whatever toys/objects are not put away before it beeps are gone for a day/week, however long you think is fair.

2. Toy card game: Cut index cards in half. Write a different adjective, that describe toys, on one side and draw a simple picture representing that adjective. For instance, "red" and color a little spot of red on the card, or "toys with numbers" and draw numbers. Even young children, who can't read yet, understand the simple pictures. Make several different cards. Put them in an envelope. When it's time to clean up, each child takes a card, cleans up all the toys that fit that adjective, and then choose another, etc.

3. Clean up to music--singing or listening: Barney's "Clean-Up Song" while annoying, really works for little kids! (scroll down to "Barney-Clean up" and click on it).

4. Practice counting by having them count how many toys they pick up. Maybe even have them estimate beforehand how many toys they think need to be put away.

I have redone chore charts over the years, since their availability and abilities have changed throughout childhood. But, even a busy teenager, involved in everything under the sun, needs to learn the value of work and contributing in the home. By the time I was 15 I was prepping and cooking dinner every Sunday--since that was the only evening I was home and my mom wasn't going to let me have a free ride throughout my teenage years--and bless her for that!!

Now, don't think I sit back taking advantage of child labor or anything. I have a simple chore chart for myself and here it is, in case you're wondering or in case you need one yourself:

This chore chart works for me because I only spend about 10-30 minutes doing these things each day. This helps me not to procrastinate and then have one day when I'm just running around trying to clean up everything--yuck! Also, it keeps the house pretty clean, you know, not just picked up, but actually clean. Aww.... *sigh*

Anyway, remember, delegate, keep smiling and maybe "whistle while you work!"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

G is for Gossip....

Nothing like a juicy piece of gossip, eh? Yeah, but that doesn't mean it's right.

One of my favorite games when I was a little kid was telephone. Everyone sits in a circle or in a line and the first person whispers a message into the ear of the person sitting next to them. The message is then similarly passed along 'til it reaches the final participant. You can only say the message once to your neighbor. It was always a riot to hear what crazy words came out at the end.

Well, that's how I feel gossip is too! The story gets changed, twisted and tweaked a little here and there until it is completely off from the truth (or from the original rumor).

One time, in college, I ran into a guy that had been in a lower budget film. I had had a crush on him a few years before that. You can imagine my surprise on running into him, finding out it was his hometown. I told a few friends and family of my surprise run-in. I still had a bit of a crush on him so I was talking to a friend of a friend about setting us up (he knew the guy, personally). This, too, was being reported to my relatives and friends back in my home state.

Well, midterms hit about then and I got busy and also got over that teen crush of mine and therefore the set-up never took place. A few weeks later I ran into a gal from my home town, who heard from her mother, who heard from a friend, who heard from etc... that I was ENGAGED to that guy. HELLO!?!?!?! Well that gossip definitely was twisted and tweaked, at warp speed, apparently!

I find it best to not repeat anything until I have talked to person who is the subject of the gossip. (Even if the gossip nice, don't spread it unless you heard it from the horse's mouth and they want it spread). (Yeah, and how often is gossip nice?!) Yes, be a truth-seeker, friends, not a mudslinger!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

F is for FANATICS (and Fantasies)

Oh, how I love the Olympics! I am truly a fan of this mecca of sporting events. All the talk about Dara Torres and her age has really gotten me motivated. I hope that there never was nor never will be any performance-enhancing substances discovered. That would be sad. Okay, so, assuming she is clean (which is my hope!) aren't you just so excited about a 41-year-old competing in such a demanding sport as swimming? WOW!

One of my life-long dreams, since I was little, has been to compete in the Olympics. I played sports almost non-stop as a youth, and I've tried to stick with it in between pregnancies over the years. I had a few offers to play for some little colleges, but turned them all down to attend a larger school. My only regret was that I never tried out for their volleyball team.

My brother-in-law has been telling me I should shoot for 2012. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. No one has seem surprised when I mention this. So, aside from that....

I thought it would be nice to know-- assuming you are stellar-- what Summer Olympic sport would you love to be a competitor in and why? Post your comments now! I'm curious.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

E is for Election

This blog only gets updated every week or so and so I knew that alphabetically I wouldn't be at "V" by the time November came around....

So, it's up to you to do your homework and find out which candidates you support most. And be aware of the issues you will be voting for and take a stand. We live in a democracy, ain't it great? Take advantage of it!

And while you are comtemplating and in deep thought, here's a little video to help you not stress out:

Monday, August 4, 2008

D is for Desserts

With the growing problem of obesity rates in the USA, I was really debating if I wanted to post this. Desserts are delicious. Desserts are decadent. Desserts are delectable. AND, desserts can make you fatter. So, be wise. There are countless articles about eating healthy and exercising so I don't need to preach to you; we'll save that for the results of your Google searches.

I try to be smart about eating and exercising. I do not have Obesophobia (fear of gaining weight) as in I'm not constantly obsessing about my weight. But, I try to be very in tune with my body and when it's had too much to eat or foods that are really rich, I am aware of and HATE that sluggish feeling. I limit my dessert intake to Friday nights and a small morsel on occasional Sunday evenings. Call me crazy, but I like dessert to be something special so I don't eat it every day.

I've listed below four of my favorite recipes, but before you read them I have to say a few things:

  • Desserts are fun to share. Everyone can enjoy the sweetness. If you are the recipient of an abundance of desserts, like when all the women on diets at my husband's office gave him all the Christmas treats they had received that season because they thought that since we had four children we must eat desserts all the time and I hate to waste food, the freezer is your friend! Cookies and cakes and cheesecakes freeze quite well. Frosting may come out a bit weird-looking but the treats will taste fine!!
  • I like to use unusual ingredients in my recipes some times, as you'll see in the first recipe.

  • With regards to the title of the second recipe, I have not actually found any food that I consider to be "Better than Six," but that's the title it was given so I'm keeping it.

  • I try to cook from scratch whenever possible. Convenience items are also conveniently laced with chemicals. I do use "Cool Whip" sometimes, as listed below, an exception to my rule.

  • So sorry that I didn't include pictures. I don't have the energy to make four desserts just for the sake of having pictures. Maybe if I was getting paid....

Now on to the recipes!! (Right click, save 'em to your desktop, then print whenever).

Yummy, chocolate...

I like this refreshing dessert in the summertime...

And this one in the fall...

And these make the house smell heavenly....
Bon appetit!

Friday, July 25, 2008

C is for Childproofing

Yeah, you knew that was coming....

If you have a family, than at some point in your life you have had to, or will have to, childproof! Even if you have teenagers, well, in 10-20 years, you just may find yourself childproofing anyway, for grandkids. And for many people, childproofing for pets. So, buck up folks, grin and bear it, you're gonna have to childproof!

Having come from a family with many siblings, and having babysat a lot when I was a youth, and being in the habit of immediately childproofing any room I enter, I feel I have a good grasp on this childproofing thing. I don't think you need to hire a professional to do it, either.

I like to work my way from the bottom, up. Little kids, toddlers, and babies, (and short, weiner dogs) have a different viewpoint of a room than we do, especially babies who are rolling and crawling. Remove any item that is small enough to fit in a child's mouth. No, you don't have to actually insert an object into the child's mouth to see if it can fit or not. In fact, I have here a very handy measuring tool--I even peeled the little remaining fragments of toilet paper off for this picture. Yup--a toilet paper tube! If you can barely squeeze something in, than baby can probably barely squeeze it into their mouth. Keep small objects put away in hard-to-open containers, and up high, out of child's reach.

Older children may get pretty bummed about not being allowed to play with smaller toys, like Legos, because there is a little one about. I have taken this into consideration, too. Fortunately, with little toddlers and babies, they take a nap or two during the day. That's the time to get smaller toys out for older siblings--with the understanding that they know they will need to scour the floor and pick up everything before baby gets out of bed.

Most people know to put outlet plugs in so that baby is unable to stick something into the electrical outlets. If you are unable to keeps cords concealed than you'll have to teach your child not to touch, and keep an eye on them.

Here are two plastic outlet plugs. They are sold at any store that sells baby-proofing paraphanelia. The white c-shaped object at the top is one of my favorite childproofing objects: a door jam. It is made of foam and is to be put up high on a door (I put it at the top) and it keeps doors from being shut (or slammed by older siblings) and smashing little fingers. I have only been able to find these at The Burlington Coat Factory's Baby Depot. I bet you could find them somewhere online, as well.

Okay, back to the floor here, and I really do get on my hands and knees to make sure the area is clear. Okay, and you've put in outlet plugs. Now, do you really have to remove everything from tables and countertops and put those drawer and cabinet locks and latches on everything? No!! You don't! Just the ones you don't want the baby into! I purposefully leave some of my kitchen cabinets without them and that's where I keep my Rubbermaid, Tupperware, and metal and plastic bowls. And not all drawers need the latches either, like where you keep your towels and large mixing spoons.

Some kids figure out how to open the latches and locks. For this reason I recommend that you ALWAYS store cleaning supplies and anything poisonous/hazardous up high in a room not frequented as often as others; laundry rooms are a great place.

With furniture, anything that can tip over, will probably get tipped over. I once had a cute little corner shelf and at the top was my very expensive, very detailed, and very fragile cake decoration from the top my wedding cake. Baby #2 crawled over one day and you can guess what happened....

Keep cords from blinds out of reach or make sure they are cut, that there's no loops for a child to get strangled in (scary). If a can of soda-pop can fit through, a baby's head could get stuck, is a good rule of thumb.

Baby gates work well for completely keeping baby out of certain areas, but you'll have to configure which kind you want and the installation. And, you may have a child who's a climber, one who can scale any kind of vertical surface.

There are so many "what-if's" that I could throw in here. Really, you just have to watch your children and go from there.

For instance, this child used the changing table (to the right, not really visible) to climb up and reach the closet shelf to obtain the baby powder. (His lungs are fine, by the way).

The more children (or grandchildren) you have the more potential childproofing tangents you face. Our fourth child took an interest in something that the older three had not. We use dowels in our sliding glass doors and window tracks so that they can't be opened by outsiders. You can imagine my surprise when one morning, my little guy, about 18 months old then, runs up to me weilding a bostaff (see Guess I overlooked that three times too many.

Sometimes you have to childproof the child from themself. Yes, this
is actual fecal matter, on my daughter's hands and legs, from her very own diaper. Sadly, this scene was one that I happened upon many times. Eventually I did what we moms do best--improvise! I found a pair of pants, without snaps at the crotch, that I could hike up to her armpits and put baby-safety pins all around the waist.

You can be a childproofing champion! Just take it from the top, by starting at the bottom. Your little ones' safety depends on it. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. You'll be surprised when one day you walk into someone's home and find yourself first checking out their floor, not their pictures, paintings, fine-home furninshings. Nope, you'll be looking at that floor. And, I'm here to tell you that's okay!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

B is for Babysitters...

I've heard many first-time parents say that they would never hire a babysitter. There are some pretty scary stories out there about babysitters from you-know-where and horrible things that they did to the kids. Sad, very sad. But, don't lose hope friends: there are good babysitters out there! I have had the priveledge of employing some.

First off, if you really think that you can never trust another person to watch your child, then you might be in for a long, exhausting journey. My own husband, when we were newer parents, also said that he didn't ever want anyone watching our kids, unless it was someone from our immediate families. But hey, people move, get jobs, retire, maybe move again. We had the convenience of living near immediate family for only a year or two. Even if family is right there, there may indeed come a time when you need to go somewhere and a family member is not available.

We, though we are loving parents, need a break from our children some times--and that's okay. I say that you may be in for a long exhausting journey because, "You can't draw water from an empty well"--we need time to refuel ourselves. I am a stay-at-home mom, but that doesn't mean I stay at home ALL the time :) !!

*Married people--take your spouse out WITHOUT the kids. Regularly. I've seen marriages fail because the husband and wife simply stopped dating, maybe some because they were too scared to hire a babysitter.

*Single parents--you need time away from the kids as well, take it!

Don't go overboard people and neglect the kids and leave them in daycare longer than your common sense tells you. Just FYI.

Okay, okay. This blog is getting too long. My tips for finding and hiring good sitters are these:

1. Get referrals from good friends who are themselves parents!

2. Take the time to interview your sitters. Some questions you may want to ask:
a. Why do you like babysitting?
b. How much experience do you have?
c. What special training have you had that better assists you in your babysitting?
d. What kinds of games/activities do you like to do with the children you babysit?
e. Can you change a diaper?
f. (Most importantly) What is your rate?
*If you are worried about the answers given or, more importantly, how they were given, give yourself the benefit of the doubt and move on to someone else.

3. Try a sitter out, while you're at home! Maybe you've got a project to do around the house, but you don't want your kids in the way. Have the babysitter there to tend the children and keep them out of your hair. The kids don't have to know that you didn't go anywhere, because than they might just keep bugging you.

4. With teenage babysitters, if possible, pick them up from their houses. I find this is the perfect time to explain the gameplan for the night, "dinner is in the oven, feed the kids at 6pm, no more tv for them tonight, etc..." Also, it gives you an opportunity to meet his/her parents to see if they know and care that their child is babysitting for you.

5. Write down the gameplan--what things to be done and the times they should take place. If you make it too detailed they might be inclined to ignore the list or skim it. Some people are strong audio-learners, make sure you explain the gameplan. Some are better at visual-learning, a reason you write everything down. Either way--it's good for them to have everything written down, like a checklist.

6. Have your cell-phone number(s) written down in more than one location and show them to the sitter. Also a good idea to have the number for the poison control center and the number of a good neighbor/friend/family that lives close by. We have our cell-phone numbers on the home phone's speed dial.

7. Walk the babysitter through the house and show them where everything that's relevant to their job is. If you can, make meal prep time as minimal as possible for them--you hired a babysitter not a chef, remember? Other helps might be to have pajamas already layed out, as well as other things from your child's nighttime ritual (favorite book, blanket, stuffed animal, etc....)

8. Get feedback from the sitter on how they thought the night went.

9. (*Really important)---Get feedback from your kids on how they thought the night went.

10. Consider forming a babysitting co-op with good friends--a great way to save money!

I hope that your "Adventures in Babysitting" are smooth-sailing. Like I mentioned before, there are some great babysitters out there. Be careful and confident and you will find them!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A is for Amish [friendship bread]

Throughout the last 10-12 years I have been many times the recipient of Amish friendship bread starters. Maybe you've seen them? Gallon-sized ziploc bags of gooey, whitish stuff, each accompanied by a sheet of paper (plain or fancy) with directions on what to do with this, uh, glop. Ten days of directions before you can even bake the glop and eat it. What friend, first off, would make you wait ten days for anything?

Ten or so years ago I didn't know much about sourdough starters and breads and such so when I received my first bag of Amish friendship bread starter I was quite skeptical about why I'd want to eat something that had been fermenting for several days. I had even more reason to be skeptical because I received that first bag from my sister-in-law. I have to admit, I questioned her motives. (That bag ended up in the garbage; thankfully my relationship with my sister-in-law did not).

I have to say that I do love the directions that accompany the bag, most days you're just supposed to mush the bag. What a fun word, "mush." I guess "mash" or "smoosh" or "squish" just sounded too violent and in order to keep us friends from pounding the poor bag to death, we are instructed to "mush" the bag.

On day 5 you add flour, sugar, and milk. Then, you get to mush some more. Well, when you get to day 10 is when you discover that you have to have friends in order to keep the starter going. After adding more flour, sugar, and milk, then you have to divide up the mixture into four parts: 1 to bake your bread, and 3 to give away (you can save one of those for yourself if you feel like keeping up on the mushing). I think I've received the Amish friendship bread starter six or seven times and that means I should have passed it on to anywhere from 12-21 friends (depending on if I kept some for myself); I think I've given it to two friends total. I actually do have more than two friends, I just seemed to have kept forgetting to bring a bag of glop to someone and the bags ended up sitting on the countertop going unmushed for days. Into the garbage they went.

The few times that I've actually taken the time to bake my remaining portion have been tastily rewarded. To the glop you end up adding: vegetable oil, sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, eggs, milk, a small box of vanilla pudding mix, cinnamon, and salt. The bread is soft with a flaky, chewy cinnamony crust.

The puzzler is, what kind of Amish did this starter come from that they would include a box of vanilla pudding mix in the recipe? What Amish people have boxes of vanilla pudding mix? Maybe that's the equivalent of a junkie in jail, paying off a guard to get him some drugs. [Amish person to tourist] "Psst, you brother. Come hither. Whilst thou hastily run up yonder road to the nearest grocer and fetch me a box of vanilla pudding mix?"

With the three extra bags that you must pass off to people to keep the starters (and the friendships?) alive, I can't help but compare this to the other fun things we pass off to friends, like colds and other illnesses. You know, I catch a cold, "Great, now I'm stuck with this!" I get a bag of glop, "Great, now I'm stuck with this!" Hey, that's what friends are for!

Well, if you ever have the privelege of receiving an Amish friendship bread starter I hope you have a fun time mushing it, possibly baking it, and possibly sharing it. Spread the love (and the mushing!)

Introducing some ABC's of momming and homemaking

To keep things of interest for myself (and hopefully you) I have decided that I will use each letter of the alphabet to start different topics and to help me brainstorm. I know in my title I used the non-word "momming." That's basically my take on parenting; I thought it sounded more fun than the word "mothering." Plus I think of "mother" as a term for very tight-laced, tight-lipped women who like to discipline and clean all the time. (Don't get me wrong--disciplining and cleaning are important--I just prefer to not do them all day long!)

Anyway--Let the ABC's begin!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I Once Said I'd Never...

...use email! Back when the internet was a new-fangled thing, a friend, who was moving, gave me her email address. I told her I thought this up-and-coming email thing was so impersonal that I'd never use it. I have definitely eaten those words. Several times. Okay, probably thousands. I love the convenience of email and the internet. Though occasionally I miss a good, hand-written letter, I somehow manage to get by. So, okay, I've come to accept and use email. On the other hand though, Christmas e-cards I find to be quite lame. I don't care how many trees you think you're saving by not sending REAL cards. You ain't so green--you're using up natural resources to fuel the energy required to send the e-cards!! Real cards look so pretty and c'mon! It's Christmas--aren't we supposed to do special things then?

One more thing that I once said I'd never do was talk on my cell phone when driving a car. I only receive a whopping three calls a month and they are always when I am driving--I figure it must be pretty important so I'd better get it. wasn't.

Driving while holding a cell phone is dangerous so I try not to do it. The best way for me to avoid answering a ringing cell phone in the car is for me to get my kids really riled up about something, than their noise drowns out the ringing cell phone. I don't know if I recommend this strategy though, all the noise is causing my stress levels to really rise and I discovered a gray hair the other day--unacceptable! I'll have to think this plan through more thoroughly.... Excuse me now, I must go check my email....