Monday, September 28, 2009


I've had a lot of sass from Bugs lately. And I was at my wit's end and that's the truth. Even The Marshmallow was sick of dealing with it and he can tolerate a lot more than I can. He sort of thinks it's funny and so then I want to rip both of their throats out.

And there are other "habits" that Bugs has gotten into that I just really wanted to nip in the bud but couldn't quite make a big deal about each on their very own. Like wiping out the sink after she spits out toothpaste. When she doesn't, I just couldn't bring myself to punish her but was getting absolutely exhausted of reminding her of things like that: turn out your light, close the door when you go in/out, don't leave the stair gate open when Tinkerpot is awake blah blah. Just a few things.

And so I took proactive measures that were supposedly designed to end all of the bad stuff. Haha, I'm such a smartie mom. *gag*

I made a chart. I'm a chart whore. It's got 20 boxes for frownie faces. Each time an undesired behavior occurred, I'd put a frownie face up there. She was aware of the consequence but knew she needed 20 in order for it to occur. After a couple of weeks, she filled up the boxes and today had to pay the piper.

She's been working since she got home from school. No playing...she's on my clock. And I have a few observations that I think are interesting:

1) she doesn't seem to mind doing all of the chores (crap)
2) I think I've underestimated what this kid is capable of so it's good to see what she can/can't do with respect to working around the house - no longer will she be able to get away with telling me she can't.
3) I'm doing more work than she is to prep so she can do some work
4) I'm getting a lot done!
5) This is more punishment for me than for her
6) It's been a really good time for me to train her how to do certain chores correctly. She's mopped the floor (did good job!), emptied trashcans and put bags in them, wiped baseboards, wiped cupboard doors... and now next time I can just tell her I want something done and know she theoretically knows how to do it.
7) This is more punishment for me than for her...

Not loving "work day". I'll be glad when it's done. What remains to be seen is if it is good enough incentive for her to quit sassing me and remembering to do a few little incidentals. I still have hope I can make it suck bad enough. Just give me a few more hours. It's only 3pm.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dinnertime Organized

When there's a task I truly hate, I organize it and thus, love it more. That's true about dinnertime because what I hate the most about that dreaded hour is the hour prior while I try to think of what to cook. I know, we've been here before.

I've told many people about my system for organizing dinnertime and so many people have asked me for my files that I thought I'd just blog about it instead.

Everyone (let's just say women because we're being truthful) - every woman has about 10 - 15 meals that they fairly typically rotate. You might throw a few extras in there from time to time but you generally come back to the stand-by's.

Now you have to list out the stand-by's. Name this "Page 1".
On Page 2 of your Word document, list out all the ingredients for each meal like this (add other ingredients if you regularly serve a certain side with it):

dried spaghetti noodles
spaghetti sauce
Parmesan cheese
french bread
salad (lettuce, mushrooms, cucs, tomatoes)

Put all of these lists into columns. I'll get to the reason in a minute. Next to each ingredient, insert a symbol of a small empty box so you can check it off once you buy it. This'll make more sense in a minute.Starting on page 3, make recipe cards for each of the meals. Pretend you're writing instructions for a 10 year old child with limited kitchen experience. That way, when your kids are ready to start cooking, it will be easy to teach them your stand-by's. Or if your husband wants to cook, he can just follow the instructions. Like for spaghetti, I actually wrote out the instructions to boil the water.

Now, you'll want to format the pages. Make the fonts small - like 10 or 11 pt, and the left and right margins tight. You'll want the first sheet to come off as a half page that you can tape into one of your inside cupboard doors for quick reference. The 2nd pages will need to be small enough to fit in your purse. I have several pages looped together with a ring. They're my grocery lists. I hang the pages on my fridge along with a dry erase marker and add to it whatever other things I need to buy then take the whole thing shopping with me when I go. Easy!

The last page I format as actual recipe cards for my recipe box.Now print and then take them all down to the UPS store and laminate them. This is an important step because you'll now be able to write on them and erase your writing. A useful tool especially for your grocery list!

So now you've got your quick reference meal list for when you're low on ideas. You've got a grocery list that you can go through and just highlight all of the ingredients you don't have on hand. When you shop, you just check off the things you bought. If you buy all the things that are on the list that you don't have, then you now will have all of the ingredients to make anything on your list and mealtime should be that much easier.

It's a no-brainer!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The other day I brought the baby out and as she played, I lay on my back and stared up into the sky. It was a warm sunny day and I felt totally at ease. Happy.

I was happy because it was warm, the sun was on my face, the trees are green, the baby's not crying, I'm not in pain, my house wasn't too much of a mess, it wasn't a work day, and I was laying on a blanket in the sun.

I realized that happiness is a moment-by-moment event. You can possibly achieve happiness full time but then how would you appreciate moments of pure happiness? If in a person's day, one can achieve moments of delirious contentment, then those are the moments to live for.

My moment of happiness...
The cat wondering if her moment of pleasure is about to end...and how to escape.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Get A Better Start On Your Mornings

I don't profess to know all there is about how to get a kid out the door to school without too much chaos. After all, this is my first real year of doing it. What I do know is that I've never been a morning person and after 20 odd years of forcing myself out of bed at literally the last possible moment for school, I know a few things about pain-proofing the process as much as humanly possible.

Last year, when Bugs started preschool, I quickly learned that getting up at the last moment possible just wasn't going to cut it. The result was me yelling for her to hurry and her learning the lesson that being late is normal and okay. I wasn't alright with that. I started getting up earlier and streamlining the process.

I added something that worked fantastically for me while in college. In this respect I'm only organized because I'm lazy about mornings.

You guys, this really only takes about 10 minutes of your Sunday and is so worthwhile every single morning. Instead of trying to find a pair of socks that match the shirt, or where all the underpants went, why is this stupid shirt so wrinkly and oh my heck! I forgot to dry the load of jeans! All these catastrophes instantly solved...

Set out a week's worth of clothes including socks (tucked into pockets) and underpants. Trust me. I promise this is worth its weight in gold.

Sorry for the terrible picture - I've lost my camera's memory card adapter and my phone just doesn't take the best pics.

I Have Some Catching Up To Do

Haven't done much scrapbooking lately but I have tons to do. I've not done any for Tinkerpot yet so I've got to start at the beginning. This is the fun stuff, really...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mom & Bug's Date

All I can say is that it's really easy to please a 5 year old if you give them attention. So easy.

Bugs requested a special night with mom where she could stay up as late as me and we could just be together. I mean, who else in the whole wide world wants to be with you THAT much. Hand me a hankie. I just luv that girl.

I took it a step further and included chocolate brownie sundaes, games and a midnight walk. The thing she doesn't know is that I don't necessarily go to bed at 9pm but what she doesn't know won't kill her. After all, it was a school night.

We did this last night and had to opt for a school night because my little sister and her 3 year old daughter are coming to visit for the weekend and Bugs and I had originally scheduled "Our Night" for Saturday.

I thought the midnight walk would be awesome because she doesn't know what the world looks like when it's dark due to her early kid friendly bedtime. Not to say she's never been out in the dark but it's rare. She was mesmerized by the stars, the street lights and our shadows that she said looked like ghosts. It was really only about 8:30 but she thought it was magic. See, free entertainment: a walk around the block at 8:30 pm. I'm a genius.

And that sundae - my first sugar since August 1. I didn't finish it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reminds Me of High School

that would be me. Reminding myself of high school. And we all know how much I hated high school.

So there I was minding my own business toodling around in the kitchen, the sounds of 5 year old girls whafting up the stairs. I'm busy contributing to Bugs's social life (more later on this) when I hear the doorbell ring. I have two doorbells in my house, one upstairs and one downstairs (because my house is soooo huge, lol). The former owners put the doorbell downstairs so that kids from the street behind could come through the catwalk and not have to go all the way 'round front.

So the doorbell rings. It didn't register for a moment that the sound I heard was the downstairs bell and in that moment, here's what I thought (crazy that I can have such a long thought in such a short moment).

I thought the doorbell might be for me. And that it might be a friend. Preferably one I haven't seen for a while and that we could catch up. I wasn't busy at the moment and I could give her cookies and we could sit and visit and I could be a fabulous "drop in" host. I hoped that my friend would have just dropped by because she was in the neighborhood and thought, "Hey, I just want to go see Amy for a few minutes, hope she's home!"

In the moment that followed I realized it was the downstairs bell. It was one of Bug's friend's sisters come to get her to take her home. So much for wishes, right?

Truth is, I rarely "drop in" on friends like that, as much as I like it when others do it to me. And most of my friends can't keep up with my work schedule so they don't have a clue as to when I might be home anyway.

And then I was sad...sort of lonely and pathetic and high school - like I don't have enough friends and I must not be popular or something because nobody wants to just drop in on me.

And then I laughed because I felt so 15! I have the greatest friends who all would welcome me with open arms, cookies and an hour long chat if I would just drop in on them and spare a moment of my precious time. And a lot has changed because in high school, I just couldn't say that.


I'll go back to contributing to Bugs's social life and forget about mine. Mine's perfect.


The other day as I was driving around, I happened to notice, high in sky, not too far in front of me about 30 large dark birds flying in a large but compact circle. I've only ever seen birds like that circling in old western movies, and it's usually buzzards and they're used to imply that there's something dead below. We were in a neighborhood. What's that saying?

While I watched, a few of the birds headed off toward the west and before long, one by one they would follow the first birds. I thought they'd fly off but they created another circle probably about 400 yards to the east of where the first circle was. And then they circled there for about 10 minutes.

I got down the road quite a ways and when I turned the corner, I looked back to ascertain if I could still see them. I could so I stopped to watch. They were still circling in that same spot. But now, a few birds were flying off again to the east. One by one again, the others followed and this time they did not re-circle.

I was so intrigued. I've never seen anything like it before and I could tell I wasn't the only one interested as there were a lot of swerving cars on the road.

I'm not a superstitious person by nature, but at various times in history, there have been people that take occurrences like these and make predictions or call them omens or whatever. And even with a strong belief system of my own, sometimes I see things like these weird circling birds (hawks? crows?) and it spooks me a little. If I were the type of person to look for "signs" or "omens" in things, I would have had one that day.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I just finished reading Wicked. The book was really good and I loved it. But then I'm a total lover of The Wizard of Oz.

This post is a spoiler so if you've not read it or seen the broadway show, you probably shouldn't read more.

I was disappointed that the events didn't necessarily adhere to the movie. It aligned closely enough but in my humble opinion, the movie IS GOSPEL. And it was really weird to see things on the other side of the fence. Like the WWW was actually a person who perhaps wasn't as "wicked" as she appeared in the movie. And let's just admit it - she came off as REALLY wicked! I watched the parts of the movie with her in it and she really outdid herself. She was awesome (the actress, I mean) - absolutely incredible as a wicked witch. I just love her. Just look at that body language people. A true work of art!

There were a lot of political agendas in this book and lots of back and forth banter about good vs. evil. I think those discussions were necessary to justify the Witch's progression from essentially a good/neutral persona into what she became, which in my opinion wasn't as wicked as crazy/insane.

I enjoyed the recharacterizations and depth of character of figures we've "known" for a long time such as Glinda, the Good Witch, and the Wicked Witch of the East whom we never really did get to see any of besides her shriveled toes. Also the Wizard of Oz had a lot of face time and what he was up to for years before Dorothy entered the scene.

All in all, I could have done without the political posturing, some of the meaningless filth and the endless good vs. evil rhetoric but the story was entertaining. What I mean to say is that I like a story...plain and simple. I don't like to have to delve too much into the deeper meanings. They usually are way over my head. I'm shallow. True story.

Oh, by the way - I mentioned to my do-gooder sister that I was reading Wicked and how much I was enjoying it. Her reaction was that it was filth...pretty bad stuff. Um, I get that there were parts that weren't you know, awesome and "of good worth" but .... yeah, I got over it.

Can't wait to see the Broadway musical.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Looth Tooth

Bugs came home from school today so excited. Her hands were over her mouth and she couldn't contain herself. She has her first loose tooth!

Turning 5 has been an extremely big deal for her and she waited so impatiently for her turn, ticking off a list as each of her friends turned 5 before she did. And after they all turned 5, they started losing teeth. But not Bugs. I didn't expect her teeth to fall out for many more months. But I'm glad for her that they are because she can sort of feel like she's caught up with the ones who turned 5 so long before she did.

And while Bugs was so excited, my reaction was so unexpected I had to catch my breath. As I stared down into that little mouth at that tiny tooth that soon would no longer be part of her cute face, I actually started to cry. I remember when that tiny tooth made its first appearance and how proud I was of her. Because this loose tooth was the very first to come in. All of these little signs that my first baby is not a baby.

I cried the first day of Kindergarten but strangely, I cried more with that looth tooth.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Real Conversation

Kid: "Mom, get me some water", stated as she is going to bed.

Mom: "I don't take orders from a kid."

Kid: "Why not?"

Mom: "Because I'm not your slave."

Kid: "Yes you are!"

Mom: "No. I'm not." Rolling my eyes. We've been here before...obviously.

Kid: "Yes you are! Moms are SLAVES!" she practically screams, indignant at my ignorance!

Well, I stand corrected!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Don't Recognize Me...

Who would have thought that I could go without sugar for as long as I have? Me, the Oreo, cookie dough, chocolate fiend? Don't misunderstand...I miss it. I do. I really do. I miss the taste; that heavenly sweetness. Mmm.


I actually bought organic peanut butter yesterday because it has no sugar. I'm the type of person who can eat peanut butter spoonful after spoonful right from the jar. It's so delicious, but that's the Jif brand or Skippy...not organic no salt, no sugar taste. That was before. I opened this peanut butter open yesterday and stirred it up. It said "some separation of oils is normal". Blech. I took a lick off my knife. Hmm. Another lick (bigger). Mmm. I got a spoon this time. I put a few craisins on the top of the peanut butter. Oh my. It actually tasted like peanuts - and some sweet with the craisins. It was so delicious. I was amazed! I've had this stuff before and hated it! But you know what? I love it now and I'm switching. No more Jif or Skippy in my house. Bugs is young enough not to know the difference yet and the less sugar for kids the better too. They get enough, and please - I'll still put jam on her sandwich. I'm not that brutal.

But another thing I did today that I never saw myself doing. I made my own mayo...on purpose. I have mayo in the fridge, but it has sugar in it too! Does everything have sugar in it? Yes! Why? Who knows? It's frustrating - I have to watch every single thing I put in my mouth and be very present in the kitchen. No mind wandering licking the spoon during cooking anymore. So I got a recipe from my friend Josey. It has eggs, lemon juice, salt, mustard and olive oil. And again, I've had this stuff before and never really liked it. This time...I was so pleased that I couldn't stop licking my finger! Not having mayo has been hard because I love it. And now I don't have to worry about sugar crashing my party.

It could be you think I'm going overboard with the whole sugar thing. But you don't realize how long I've had those mid-afternoon hardcore slumps. I've always wondered what was wrong with me! I've tried a lot of different things to get rid of them because they are a huge downer. I'm full of energy and drive all day but 3pm rolls around and I am down for the count and it's a terrible time to have a slump. I could set my clock by it. And to not have that horrible fatigue every day has been amazing! I just don't want to go back there. I will eat sugar again no doubt. I love Oreos too much. But I want to choose when I have it, not have it in everything I eat just because some manufacturer decided balsamic vinegar is better with sugar. I will control it...and I will feel better because of it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

She's Crawling

It's true.

The Marshmallow is spending the day making a permanent gate for the top of our stairs because one side is a wood banister and the store bought gates just aren't secure enough. It's a freak of nature to see this little tiny girl crawling across the floor. She's even pulling herself up to her knees on things. Holy's coming.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Child Food Challenges

Bugs: picky from the start...

Like many, I have a very picky eater. At 5 years old, if it even looks like grown-up food, she hates it. This can be very discouraging. So many wonderful foods don't really look like they're delicious and so to get her to try anything is pulling teeth.

It's gotten to the point where I make very simple dishes and The Marshmallow just has to eat it too. That's my main problem. I don't mind cooking Mac 'n Cheese and plain old chicken (no sauces or seasonings please!) but I'm sure my husband would rather have grown-up food. I'd really like to try Deceptively Delicious because I've heard those are "real" foods that have good stuff in them too. I'm not above misleading my children for health. Believe it.

Along these same lines, I've been getting that Kraft Food & Family magazine, a monthly freebie magazine with lots of recipes that look wonderful. Now not all of them are that fabulous but they look great anyway. It's an advertising ploy because most of the recipes use...can you guess...Kraft food items. No biggie - I can easily replace Kraft ranch with no-name Ranch and call it good. Back to the story...I was leafing through the newest issue that came in the mail today - a ritual I'm trying to get used to - go through the magazine the day it comes, clip out whatever you want and throw the magazine away the same day ... buuuut anyway... there was a little insert in there about kid's lunches. It gave lots of ideas that I'd never thought of. Stuff she'd probably really eat! Like this...

1) tiny bagel sandwiches with turkey and cheese
2) whole wheat tortilla roll-ups with deli meat and cheese
3) layered salad with cheese, deli turkey (chopped), lettuce and ranch
4) reduced fat cream cheese and jam sandwich (coupled with healthy side dishes this is good!)
5) egg sandwich (scrambled with cheese on toast)

I always add a fruit and milk to the side of any meal mainly because it just makes me feel like a good mom doing good things for my kids.

I'm tired of the same olds: nuggets, pizza, pb&j. She needs variety in her diet and I need variety in what I make. I got some good ideas. Hope these gave you some too.