Tuesday, September 30, 2008

There just HAS to be a place for carbs.

I was reading the paper at lunch and came across an article about including more fruits & veggies in kids' diets.

I was totally blown away. I've been thinking that I do pretty well in the nutritious eating department - the kids usually have fruit for snacks, and usually at least one veggie at each meal.

Although I couldn't find a link for you, I'll quote it here:

"shift the focus to the produce section of your supermarket, where youngsters can explore an array of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables."

Well, I can't argue too much. Except for pointing out that "an array" of veggies could cost quite a bundle, seeing as yummy snow peas seem to be as valuable as gold, and so are cucumbers and green beans in February.

I don't have any real solutions to the cost of items in the produce section: In this part of the country, if we want any kind of offerings in the middle of winter, we have to pay for the shipping costs. However, we can remember that frozen items are nearly as nutritious as their fresh versions, and in some cases more so, thanks to the freezing process starting at their peak freshness.
Here is the sample menu included in the article, which provides all the daily nutrients for a child's 1800 calorie meal:

Breakfast: 2 tablespoons of raisins with cereal

Mid-morning snack: apple slices with peanut butter

Lunch: cup of corn, salad of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers & bell peppers, AND a half-cup of peaches

Afternoon snack: quarter-cup or more of fresh green beans & carrot sticks with yogurt dip

Dinner: half-cup of steamed cauliflower AND half a large sweet potato AND a quarter-cup of strawberries

Am I crazy to think that this sounds un-doable? I mean, there's the expense of all that produce, plus the time to prepare all of it...and has anyone ever eaten that many servings of fruits & veggies in one day? I mean, someone eating a traditional diet - not vegetarian or South Beach.

The snacks are fine, and breakfast too (if I could get my kids to eat raisins...) - but Lunch & Dinner sound insane. Especially considering that this article expected the parent - well, okay, MOM - to pack all those items to be eaten at school. I don't know many kids who would eat a lettuce salad as part of the school lunch...more likely it would just be tossed. And I don't mean with dressing. Ha ha.

But if they didn't have anything else to fill up on, and the only other option was to go hungry...I don't know. Maybe I need to broaden my idea of a well-rounded meal. I rely pretty heavily on "a meat, a starch (potatoes, rice or noodles) and a veggie" formula. But we all know the state of my math skills. It could be that this is another formula that needs reworking.

Now, to find strawberries in January that won't compromise my Target budget.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The exorcism has been scheduled.

Ben woke up last night screaming and crying his adorable curly head off.

Well, I guess technically it wasn't last night. It was this morning. 1:30am, to be exact. I had been sleeping for a grand total of 2 hours, since I stayed up too late to finish reading Wicked.

Ben: WHAH!!!! MOMMY! (repeat several times)
Me: Ssh, shh...
Ben - has arms outstretched to me, and since he's not calming down....I picked him up. And broke the cardinal rule of toddlers.

Ben: DADDY! WHAH!!!!!
Me: Daddy's still sleeping...
Me - I took him to see his Daddy. The whole time Ben is screaming like we refused him his Elmo fix or something. We thought maybe he wanted to sleep with us, but he just kicked and whined and cried the whole time, so I took him back to his room.

And rocked, and read a story.

And tried to lay him down again, which didn't go over well. But I was tired, darn it.
Me: Be quiet now. It's time to go to sleep.
Me: Now go to sleep! I'm not coming in here again.

And I didn't, and by the time I was in bed, he was quieting down. Which is why I shouldn't have picked him up in the first place.

And THEN...there was breakfast. After, of course, the ceremonial Ben-wakes-up-10 minutes-before-he's-supposed-too-and-whines-the-whole-time. After all that fun.

Breakfast was a blast in itself. After double checking that he really did want Fruity Cheerios, and not the Frosted Shredded Wheat that Leah was having, I finally put milk on the Oh's in the bowl. And then gave him a few Wheat's to put in the bowl, too.

And then all kinds of crazy broke out, wherein Ben changed his mind again... and seemed totally unhappy and dissatisfied with his current breakfast option. Instead of just letting him fuss and cry while ignoring him, I took Aaron's advice. I told him "NO!" and that he should stop or get a time out. Which he got, and then received a little extra disciplinary action for not staying in timeout. AND REPEAT. Four or more times, in fact. Finally, he sat in his chair and ate the d*** cereal. Plus a second helping. Of both. Mixed together.

I was reporting this episode to Aaron at lunch, and Ben helped. He pointed at his bottom with one hand, and the time-out room with the other...Daddy got the idea.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Remember this post? About how I embarrassed myself in front of the daycare-running adults who bring kids to two of my kids' activities?

Well, now I don't feel so bad. They clearly have other things to worry about besides the random mom putting her foot in her mouth. Like, addressing the issues that were brought up on the FRONT PAGE of the Forum today. Oops.

Yes, that is the bad-parking gentleman outside of the van, and as far as I can tell, the trampoline-police lady is inside the van.

I'll summarize the article for those of you who won't click the link. Apparently the Trampoline Policelady is Sara of Sara's Little Angels daycare, which closed their doors unexpectedly a couple weeks ago. And the Bad-Parking Fella is James, who lives with Sara and is planning on opening another daycare in October. (Although I saw the van with his daycare name at dance on Monday, and he had kids in it, so I'm not sure what's going on there...)

Parents are steamed 'cause Sara hasn't refunded them their deposits or pre-payments yet, but yet is seemingly connected with opening this new daycare?

Did you read the part where James has been convicted of TWO felonies? Which I honestly think is overplayed in the article ("Twice-convicted felon" are the first words of the darn thing) since neither of them were violent or had anything to do with children. Just another example of the media dramatizing the news to sell papers. But still.

This brings up a whole new issue of daycare regulation - which I know basically nothing about. But it does seem odd that there is no background checks required for licensed daycares in ND. As a teacher, I had to get finger-printed and everything...and I was working with high schoolers. Also, I tend to agree that there should be some support from the state regarding daycares - several have closed unexpectedly this year, and I can't imagine the amount of stress that puts on a family with two working parents. If ND wants people to move here, there has to be a support network for them. And that includes reliable caretakers for their kids.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One Very Good Reason Not to Drink

This site is hilarious to me, but probably not everyone. However, this photo is wonderful. It singlehandedly illustrates one of the most convincing reasons to avoid alcohol - complete humiliation.

The other photos on the site also read like a prohibitionists top 10 reasons not to drink. From my perspective, anyway.

Math for Moms

I realized the other day, while listening to my friend J talk about the Great Harvest Bread Company not far from our house, that I have been doing an awful amount of mental math since becoming a mother.

Which is a terrible, terrible thing, since I am practically morally opposed to mathematics in general.

I fought through it in high school, with more than ethical assistance from the math teacher.

I tackled the required College Algebra course in college...three times.

I even took a statistics course one summer, in preparation for a degree in Counseling (about which I changed my mind).

As an English teacher, thankfully I had limited contact or need for math - except, of course, for every paper I graded. Percentages became my strong suit.

As a mom, I figured my math requirements would basically be fractions (recipes) and adding (days/months/years for my children's ages).

However, this is not the case. I have had this formula rumbling around in my head since Leah was born:

Let x be the amount of time it takes to put children into their carseats, remove them, and put them back in again (about 5 minutes)

Let y be the time spent on behavior of said children (shushing, correcting, catching, restraining, etc.)

Let z be the time needed to do business in shop of choice. You know, the fun ones.

So, if x + y divided by z = 0, I don't make the trip to that store.

Which is why most of my shopping is done either at Walmart, Target, or the mall.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is he growing? I think he's growing.

Ben has been doing weird things at dinner lately. Like, he's not eating it.

Last night I gave him the spaghetti noodles and sauce separately, just like I MUST do for Leah for her to touch anything. Therein lay my mistake - treating them the same. As previously stated, they can be complete opposites.

Ben thoroughly demolished the noodles, but refused to touch the hamburger & sauce. Until we withheld the second serving of pasta until he took one bite of meat. Then he finally did. After much arguing.

Tonight, we ran into time issues. We were playing with friends outside until 5:45pm, so I didn't get dinner into the oven until 6:15, and it wasn't ready to eat until 6:45pm. You have other things to remember, but do you happen to recall Ben's bedtime? Yep. It's 7pm.

And by the time dinner was ready, the kids had already been eating carrots and hummus for 15 minutes. I pretty much knew that whatever interest Ben would have had in dinner had already been ruined by the half a cup of hummus he consumed. So I went right ahead and gave in, handing out grapes as a bedtime snack/dessert, and a couple of crackers to top it off.

Oh well. He got protein and vegetables - that's better than some nights.

Oh, and Leah? She ate both dinners rather well. Which is lucky for me, because I don't think I could fight both of them at once. I'd just throw in the towel. Er, dishcloth. And bring in the washcloth, cause believe me, there is plenty of mess when these two are done.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Wanna Rock & Roll All Night

The next two members of KISS.

(This was totally Aaron's idea. I didn't know KISS sang that song.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

A size 7 mouthfull.

When I pulled up to Leah's dance studio on Monday, I was reminded of two reasons why I don't like big SUVs/trucks.

The dance studio is in a strip mall-type place, so there is parking only in front of the building, one row of spaces. One truck had taken a spot close to the door, and parked so that although he was "technically" inside the lines, there wasn't room for my minivan to get in the space next to him.

THEN, there was another huge truck (pickup with the extended cab) parked directly ON the line. I'm talking, the yellow parking line looked like someone was trying to divide the truck in half.

I parked further down, which isn't that far really, but when you are trying to hustle two kids inside and are afraid you're late anyway, every step counts. As I was being frustrated in my head, a friend pulled up and parked 2 spots down from me. We got out and simultaneously expressed our feelings about the parking options presented that morning. We were walking towards the door, and as I got in front of the treacherous truck, I held out my hand and said, "Come on, that's INTENTIONAL, " and just as the words came out of my mouth, a guy came out of the studio.

Immediately I was concerned. Of course I watched, and yes indeed, that was HIS truck. And I'm not too ashamed to say that I used a swear word at that point.

You may be saying, "But Lyz, you didn't say anything too rude, and certainly nothing untrue! It may even be good that he heard it!" And you would be right. Except for the fact that I totally recognized this man as one half of the couple that brings kids to Leah's dance class AND to Ben's gymnastics.

They evidently run a daycare, because they drop off two girls for dance, picking them up later, and both of them bring SIX kids to Ben's gymnastics class, which is parent/tot - you stay with your kids and (ideally) keep them in line.

I'm already a bit on the chilly side to them, since the lady informed me the first day that parents weren't allowed on the trampoline (I wasn't doing flips or anything, just getting Ben warmed up) AND because their 3 kids each really slows down the lines at the stations. And now I have to deal with my own embarrassment too, every time I see them. Because as I see it, there are two options for how he responded to my blunder:

1) He didn't even notice, or immediately forgot. Because he's a guy and not all sensitive like that.

2) He TOTALLY noticed, and told his wife about it. Who I can already tell I don't want to cross.

At this point, I'm just glad I wasn't caught saying something much ruder. Which, as Aaron pointed out, very easily could have happened.

What, I'm not quite sure. My mouth already has ONE foot in it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Selective hearing

Last night Leah and I had our first ever Wednesday evening church activities. She thoroughly enjoyed Cubbies, part of the Awana program. She loved her friends, the teachers, doing a craft, having a snack, singing songs, ....oh, and hearing a story about Jesus, too.

I am helping out as a leader with the 3rd-6th graders, and last night was our "get organized" night. The kids got some information on what options they have (crafts, puppets, choir, activity or games) and we voted on songs that we would learn this year.

At one point, Pastor Tom was giving the directions for a little activity. On the big projector screen there was a psalm, and we were supposed to choose a word picture from it to illustrate in our groups - either one, or everyone all together.

As an example, he picked the phrase, "Do not listen to the counsel of the wicked," or something like that. His image, cut & pasted from the internet, was a drawing of three kids dressed in costumes of a ghost, witch & devil. There were trick-or-treat bags at their feet, and a big "Do NOT" symbol behind them. Pastor Tom said, "Yeah, these are kids dressed for Halloween, but we know a ghost, witch and devil are 'wicked' " and went on with the rest of the directions - where we were supposed to go, etcetera, etcetera.

We got to our table and I started handing out markers. One girl looked at me, and asked, "What are we supposed to do?" with a totally blank face. As if we hadn't just heard about it for 10 minutes.

I said, always the teacher, "What do you think we're supposed to do?"

And this lovely, attentive child replied, "I think we're supposed to draw a picture of what we're going to be for Halloween."

I tried to hide my amazement and just said, "No. That's NOT what we're supposed to do."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Manual windows are SOOO underrated

We have been having problems with our van's driver side window for several months now. It will get stuck partially open, and not move.

In the past, we were able to get it to work by: opening and shutting the door, fidgeting with the power locks, and/or pushing or pulling on the glass itself while working the button.

All of those tactics failed, though, when Aaron drove the van a week ago Saturday. And rolled the window all the way down. As you can imagine, this leaves very little glass to for fidgeting.

For a week I'd try to get that window up every time I drove it. And for a week there was no reply from the window. Knowing that we are headed out of town on Thursday, preferably in the van, I called Monday morning to make an appointment to get it fixed. They could get me in that afternoon! Joy!

And wouldn't you know it, as I pulled out of the driveway and happened to try the button again, that darned thing worked. I think I scared it or something.

So, at least my window was closed for the chilly morning drive to Leah's dance class. But we kept the appointment. Doing that involved my mom coming to stay with the kids while I took the van all the way across town, then got a ride back.

Good news! It was just the switch, so with labor + parts, it was $135. Not too bad. We picked it up when Aaron was done with work, and then had dinner at Applebee's and headed to Lowe's to look at more exterior doors (and you thought we had made a decision!). After Lowe's, I got in the van, and tried to roll the window up....with no luck. Aaron and I were both pretty disgusted, as you can imagine.

I called the shop again today and made another appointment. This time, we took it over on Aaron's lunch break, hauling and transferring both kids. I didn't get a phone call until their closing time, saying that this time they replaced the motor, but that they were giving me a credit for the previous day's work, so the total bill was again around $120.

The van is still at the shop, but the guy there was very nice, and even offered to drive it over for us tonight or after 9am. Fortunately, we are okay, since Aaron's car has carseats for both kids and he is driving his scooter to work. Plus, I'll probably take the kids to gymnastics tomorrow in the bike trailer again anyway.

Thank goodness for the low-tech option.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Club Reunion

We reunited for the first time all summer, and with six members present.

First, an update on the books selected at our last meeting. Which was in MARCH, apparently. Yikes. Here's what happened.

Our schedule was supposed to be:
April - Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
May - Last of the Mohicans
June - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
July - Burning Bright

We nixed the April novel because one member started reading and was so disgusted with the gratuitous sex scenes that she refused to read further, and the rest of us decided to trust her judgement.

We did meet for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, although I don't remember when. I read it a long time ago and couldn't find my copy in the packed boxes (honestly, I didn't even try. Do you KNOW how many boxes of books we have?)

Last of the Mohicans was supposed to be a "splinter" group read for the summer, but only G made it through. Actually, she's the only one that made it more than 10 pages in, so we gave her a quick round of applause.

So Sunday night we discussed Burning Bright, which is by Tracy Chevalier, the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, which we read a couple years ago and really enjoyed. Here are the discussion highlights:
a) Jem & Maggie - what is their future together?
b) Why didn't Blake get more involved with the children's welfare? Or was he already pretty involved, just not as much as R wanted him to be? (Hee hee! I got you in there after all, R!)
c) My copy of the book included several of William Blake's poems, which I actually taught during my student teaching period. So the group indulged me and let me read The Lamb and The Tyger out loud. Yum, good poetry.
d) Knowing that Blake's books of poetry, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, feature poems that are mirror images of each other, is very helpful to understanding Chevalier's positioning of opposites, and this discussion throughout the novel.
e) Is Blake a Christian? We decided yes, but his opposing books of poetry seem to indicate that he struggled with doubt also. Which brought mention of our upcoming sermon series.

Other Discussion:
a) At what point did various member's relationships with their future husbands turn from friendship to romance? This also tied in (inadvertently) to the novel, as Jem and Maggie transition from friendship to romance. Good work, C & L (me)!
b)Is there such a thing as an underwire bra that won't break or poke? This was not tied to discussion of the novel.
c) Are we diametrically opposed to Christian and/or non-fiction books? I reminded the group that Three Cups of Tea, which we read last fall, was non-fiction. And G pointed out also that most of the classics we've read are by Christian authors and/or have Christian world-views.
So we didn't feel so guilty anymore.
d) Sarah Palin did not ban books. She inquired about the process, reportedly solely to be familiar in case she was questioned. NO books were censored or banned.

As we were throwing out book options, I overheard a couple ladies talking about a book that people loved. They were saying it was reminiscent of The Red Violin (movie) in that it traced the history of a certain novel that had had generations of owners. I asked what the title was and was told that people loved this book. Again, I asked what it was called, and got the same answer. Finally, I raised my voice and said something like, "Yes, I know people love the book! I get it! But WHAT IS THE TITLE?"

Turns out that "People of the Book" IS the title. Hmm. Seems to remind me of an old comedy sketch.

Here's what we finally decided on.

October 25th (at my house) - Wicked: The Life & Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. Going to give this one another shot.

November - The Shack Lots of controversy in the Christian community on this one.

January - Middlemarch Time for a classic! But 912 pages?! Start reading in December - you have two months for this one!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sugar Shock

The kids usually wake up around 7am and watch PBS for a bit before I officially get up. This morning at 7:30am Ben came running into our room. As he zoomed up to me, I cracked my eyes open wide enough to see the intense expression on his face, and then see what he was thrusting in front of him - the round plastic container that originally held 1 pound of Gummy Peachy-O's. I say originally because at the moment there were exactly 5 O's still remaining. Aaron and I have been snacking on them constantly since we bought them at -get this- MENARDS last week.

Ben got his hands on these contraband goodies because Aaron had been eating them in front of the TV the night before. And hadn't put them away.

So off course Ben wanted some. Aaron and I quickly decided that even if he insisted on eating them all, it wouldn't be too bad, since there were so few left. I gave him one Peachy-O and gave him strict instructions to give another to Leah - and I kept the container.

He bolted out of the room thoroughly excited with his success, and Leah reported later that he had in fact given her the candy - which honestly surprised me a bit.

Aaron had also been eating kettle corn the night before, so of course the kids also cleaned up the quarter of the bag that was left in the bowl. And then Ben put the bowl on his head as a hat.

The lesson learned? Aaron needs to pick up after his snacking.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I forgot.

Here's the cute photo that was supposed to go with my post about our iShuffle the other day. Oops.

I'm sorry if your day stunk because of my negligance. Because surely this photo would have made it better.


Ben has started adding words to his vocabulary. He primarily imitates, and almost never performs. So although he may declare "helicopter" (or his version of it, anyway), if you ask, "Ben, what is that up there?" he'll grin, shake his head and turn away, as if saying, "Nice try, yo."
Other words that have made it out of his mouth at one point or another: choo-choo, moon, puppy, peas, peaches, and I swear I've heard "sandwiches". It may just be me, though.

The other day, I was watching this new show on PBS with the kids - "Sid the Science Kid". It's a Jim Henson Muppets - animated show...but I'm not sure if the characters are muppets, Claymation, or what. But they ARE cute. See? Anyway. On this episode about growth, the kids all decide to pretend that growing happens really fast instead of sl-ow-ly. First, they pretend to be babies. "Waaa!" "Feed me!" "Change my diaper!"
Next is 2 year olds. "What do 2 year olds say?" The kids look at each other, and start saying, "No!" "No, no no!"

Whoever wrote that got it exactly right. Because no matter how many words Ben learns, there is that one favorite word of all kids his age. He likes to yell it and purse his lips at me, lifting his head in defiance. Just daring me to disagree. He seems to respond in the negative even to statements such as, "Let's go for a walk!" "Do you want a snack?" or "Are you a boy?"

We were driving in the van the other day, and Ben was saying "NO!" to everything we asked. Leah asked him, "Ben, do you like cars?" Ben said "No!" and Leah declared, without missing a beat, "Ben doesn't like cars anymore!"

So basically, all this lovely vocabulary has been reduced to One. Word. Ju-u-st great.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Note to 21st Century: We have joined you.

While Ben has gymnastics, Leah has to wait for an hour by herself, without mommy to entertain her. She did great last week (although I think sitting in the balcony may have reduced the whining opportunities) but I wanted her to almost look forward to that waiting time.

My original thought was that I would get a personal CD player & headphones, so she could listen to books on CD and music while waiting. Then I talked to my friend L who mentioned that she had gotten her kids iPod Shuffles.

Ever since my trip to visit sister Ruth in Chicago, I've had the thought to get a Shuffle. This was the perfect opportunity to convince Aaron. So we picked one out on our latest date night. I spent a couple of hours last night trying to troubleshoot my way through iTunes trying to get some music onto the thing other than one of my new Jewel CD's that Aaron put on there. (That's right, folks, I said one of my new Jewel albums. I have three. New ones.)

In addition to feeling totally inept, adding to my frustrations was the fact that our fridge had apparently stopped working. And it appeared to be my fault. We messed around with it a bit, and Aaron went downstairs to try to find the breaker.

He came back up rather crabby, because he had tried to call my cell phone so that I could identify which breakers controlled which rooms. I hadn't heard my phone at all, so the search began. I backtracked my path for the evening - the entryway, my purse, the back door, my bathroom (twice) and the closet (three times) and even the kids' bedrooms. Finally, just as I was starting to panic and think I had included it in the washing machine with the laundry (hi Suzi!) I had Aaron call it again.

And I followed the ring into Leah's bedroom, where the phone was glowing and ringing merrily on top of Leah's blankets. While she was sleeping.

As I was IMing my woes to Tara, I decided to check the fridge again. And it was working!

And then Aaron figured out how to add files to iTunes again, and things started going more smoothly.

But this new-fangled technology? I hope Leah figures it out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Are you supposed to be this happy in church?

Sunday morning I was positively giddy as I entered the sanctuary. (And no, no coffee had been or was consumed!) Maybe it was the fact that Sunday School was starting again, so I wouldn't have to spend the service making sure Leah was supplied with stickers and markers and reminding her to "whisper! More quietly!"

Also contributing to my happiness was the fact that Pastor George was speaking again after his summer break (and ours, since we'd missed his previous sermons by skipping town).

Let's be honest here. I was really mostly happy to see my friends again! They were all back from summer vacations, mission trips, and family obligations, and I couldn't talk to everyone that I wanted to. Because Leah was literally pulling me out of the building afterwards.

Thankfully, our Tuesday morning women's Bible study groups had their kick-off today, and I was able to catch up with more buddies. And I was flattered that G asked me to sit with her, because I look up to her as kind of a mix of a big sister and the popular girl in school. I'm thrilled to be counted as her friend! We joke a lot about her being an introvert and me being an extrovert...which was proved again by my joyfulness at a church full of people to talk to.

Because really. I know you are supposed to be excited about your faith and growing in your relationship with Christ - but it's a total bonus when the word "fellowship" becomes synonymous with "par-ty!"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Another Jane Austen reference

Mighty Girl today had a link to this page, which I thought very clever and appropriate for my blog. Enjoy!

Errands with Kids or: How Not to Lose Your Mind

Saturday Aaron was out of town for a church event most of the day.

Faced with another day of managing the kids, I could be routine as usual, meaning no lovely BREAK from routine for either the kids or me, or I could try for an actual weekend.

I opted for Plan B. Here was my plan for the day:

1) Stop by a friend's house to swap my packing paper for her bags of kids' clothes
2) Go to a garage sale held by 3 MOMS club friends
3) Head to Old Navy for their Baby Sale
4) See if The Children's Place in the mall had tights for Leah.

And accomplish all this with 2 mobile children in tow. Mission ACCOMPLISHED! With precautions in place, we arrived home happy and ready for naps/rest times. And what precautions did I take?

1) Do not leave home without a diaper & wipes. And snacks. And water (lately my personal water bottle has filled in for all 3 of us - less things to carry). But I did make sure the kids had sippy cups in the car.

2) Do NOT let kids out of car for a short stop. Which in this case was our 1st. Leah rebelled a bit, but...

3) DO let them out when feasible - the garage sale. It was held at a friends', and I knew there would be kids for Leah and Ben to play with. This went even better than expected, though, because although the kids were in the house, MY kids were totally occupied with the toys displayed for sale on the driveway.

4) Advance bribery works VERY well. I bought them each a couple of toys at the garage sale (plus 2 nice coats for Leah) so everyone was in a happy mood with new toy in hand when we arrived at Old Navy.

5) Time for snacks - and a cart to stash the kids in.

6) And make it snappy. This is not the time to be examining the clearance racks. Keep it moving, and make a trip to the bathroom and the dressing rooms to change the scenery.

7) The mall has fun stuff for kids to watch - make use of it! We stopped first at the fish tank before heading to TCP. Ben left obligingly after throwing the beginnings of a fit when I promised we'd return before heading home.

8) Have lunch at McDonald's. Need I say more on this one? You don't have to use it as a bride, either. Unless you DO have to. It's always nice to have it already planned in your head, though, right?

9) Keep your promises. Yes, we went back to the fishtank. Of course, by this time, Ben was so tired he pretty much just sat on the couch eating his apple slices, and was fine with leaving when it was time.

But here are the biggest two rules:

Take Your Time.
Let the Kids Have Fun.

Don't just try to rush through everything - if you need to skip something, skip it. Being able to be flexible starts before you leave the house. You just need to decide to have fun WITH your kids, instead of seeing them as an obstacle.

Now if I can remember to go back and read this the next time I'm "stuck" with the kids.

For those of you interested in actual purchases/deals: At Old Navy I got jeans for myself and jeans and a top for Leah for $24. Thanks to my "50% off an adult item with your ON card" (which I have) and my $10 coupon for using said card. I also got Leah these and these tights for $5 each, which she may end up wearing for 2 winters.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tranquilizer Dart Has Taken Effect

Ben sat through his entire haircut with this exact look on his face. And we were not at our usual kids' salon. Maybe that's the problem! All the bright colors, videos and bubbles make him anxious and jumpy, and the relative calm of a regular "bargain" hair salon soothes him into a near-comatose state.

Book us an appointment in another 4-6 weeks.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Just Call Me Lukewarm Mama

Yesterday while reading the paper, I stumbled upon a HALF PAGE, FULL COLOR advertisement for a new store in the local mall. And then received in the mail an extra-large postcard from the same store. Both pieces proclaimed the grand opening of the store, with 15% off all purchases. The photos in the ads featured a pretty blonde, with two pretty blonde boys.

And what, oh WHAT is the name of this store? Hot Mama. And it's not specifically lingerie or maternity clothes.

I have a couple of issues with this name, and don't worry, I'll tell you all about them.

First of all, I think the phrase "hot mama" is a bit overused...it was cutting-edge a couple of years ago (or 2004, when this chain started) but now sounds like you are trying hard to be "cool" and "with it". Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I read too many magazines. Both could be true.

Second, and really MOST IMPORTANTLY, I really hate what the phrase "hot mama" insinuates - that there is another demand on women and moms. Not only do we have to be great mothers and employees, cook tasty healthy meals, be organized, support our child's school, and be a loving, attentive wife, now we also have to be "hot" while doing all this. Good freaking luck. You should just be happy with what you get.

And judging by the website, hot = expensive. The jeans are $100+ and the "fashion tops" were all more than $50. I'm not sure how long a store like this will last in Fargo, but there are a couple of higher-end boutiques downtown that have been around for a bit, so maybe I'm underestimating the spending power of the ladies of Fargo.

Third (did you forget I was making a list?) - my SIL Lisa pointed out, is there really that much of a difference between moms and women in general? Well, some of the shirts have slogans like "PEACELOVEMOM" on them, which I would never EVER wear. Even if it DIDN'T cost $30.

I do appreciate the fact that they are targeting my age group (no longer the "twenties" thankyouverymuch.) But is there a real need for mom specific clothing? Or is it just a marketing ploy?

I plan to check out this store in person during their grand sale, so maybe I will love it. Although I think I'll stick with Old Navy and Target, with the occasional splurge at TJ Maxx and Kohls. Which is why my husband dares to share a checking account with me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

SAHM's Back to "School"

Things are settling into place around here. And I don't think that it is all because my Internet access was down yesterday. It may not be Fall yet (believe me, I don't want to think that any more than anyone else, cause that means we'll probably have snow by Halloween!) but the School Year has definitely started, even though I'm a stay-at-home mom with 2 preschoolers. Yes, I said TWO pre-schoolers.

Signs that Summer is Over:

1)We are eating dinner before 6pm again. All summer it seemed like dinner was around 6:30 or so - which may not seem late for the rest of the world, but when Ben goes to bed around 7pm, it's making things tight.

Our earlier dinner time is mostly because I've started my chore of picking out meals for the week and then shopping all at once (although I DO need to make another trip tomorrow). Which leads me to...

2) I have a household chore schedule again. This isn't really about Fall, but it does greatly contribute to our household state of mind. I had a nice routine at our old house which kept everything in a fairly constant state of tidy. But this house is set up differently, so it took me a while to figure things out and get used to it all. Here it is:
Mon: bathrooms (If you wipe everything down weekly, it's never very bad! Here's another tip: I almost never scrub the tubs. Oops.)
Tues: laundry - plus, I may throw in baking a treat (in the schedule, not the laundry. Just realized that sounds confusing). So the cookie jar has something in it for once.
Wed: vacuum the main floor - aka aerobic exercise.
Thurs: vacuum upstairs/ dust up , alternating weeks. I HATE dusting. Which is why I must schedule it.
Fri: off / dust main, alternating weeks.

This schedule makes my Type-A personality capable of saying, "Sure! Come on over!"

3) The kids started gymnastics today. For Ben, it was his first time, and he surprised me with how well he did. There was a huge difference between his first day and Leah's, which I'll chalk up to being a boy and having a big sister. I told Leah, he basically had a gymnastics teacher at home!

He was a little cautious at first, especially with the trampoline, but by the end of the class he was bouncing without a care (including the other kids!) and also jumping into the foam pit. He did all of the coach- led stations, but ran off before they could give him the reward stamps on his hands and feet! The coach was particularly impressed with his perfect "bear walk" - of course, he's been imitating Leah at home doing that for months.

Leah watched Ben's class from the balcony, and the coach even commented on how good she was being. Her class was next, and although she was in the same level last spring, there were some new things...She was HOPPING on the balance beam! Also, she was about to take out her chin with her tuck jumps on the trampoline, and she hopscotched like a pro.

Ben sat with me during her class and mostly just ate his granola bar. Kid was pretty worn out, I think. My plan next week is to bike to gymnastics, as it's only about a mile away from our neighborhood. It's almost not worth loading the kids in the van, and I could use the exercise. I guess.

Today's gymnastics marks the beginning of our activity schedule. Every morning except Thursday will be booked, plus Wed evening. I hope it isn't overkill.
For me. The kids will be fine.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Making a House a Home: 3 Easy Steps

Folks, our bar is back together. (cue applause!) Over Labor Day, Dad and Aaron put some hard labor in and got it going. The drawers aren't in yet, and the sink still needs some work I think, but it's no longer taking up floor space not intended for it.

AND, my main floor half-bath has a new faucet! Aaron took care of it for me, despite a couple of road blocks and an extra trip or two for supplies. The previous faucet was fine except for the fact that it took an adult muscle to turn on the water. Sooo not handy when there is a preschooler in the house...and then with Ben getting to that point too, I was getting really tired of having to go in there just to turn on the water 4-5 times a day. Although it did give me a chance to remind Leah to flush. Never thought I'd be giving positive reinforcement for that one. (Good flushing, Leah!)

I am so thankful that Aaron took care of these jobs - they have really been nagging at me the last couple of days. So what's next? Glad you asked!

We will be hosting his family for Thanksgiving (6 siblings with their spouses potentially attending, plus 7 nieces/nephews and the folks) and there are a few little jobs I'd like to see accomplished before then:

1) great room painted
2)great room re-carpeted, and possibly the "formal" living room too
3) new door in the entryway

You know, little things.

Our current door is solid dark wood, with some kind of 70's carved design featured front and center. I love having light come in, but because it faces north, that it really only possible by leaving the door open and letting the storm door do the job of keeping out bugs and weather. And when I close the stupid door, it feels like I'm pulling up a drawbridge, it so effectively cuts out the rest of the world.

We all headed to Menards tonight to check out their entry doors. The one I picked out was beautiful, and despite what Aaron may tell you, it was NOT the most expensive. And still, with the two sidelights, a storm door, and installation figured in, the total was $2000. Sheesh!

There is a sale on doors right now, for 15% off. The sale lasts 2 weeks, so maybe we can make a decision in that time. Because I really don't want to have Aaron tackle building a moat, too.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sure Sign of Fall

There was a cricket in my bathroom last night. A CRICKET. A big, fat, energetic one. In my SECOND FLOOR BATHROOM. When I asked Aaron how he thought it got there, he said, "Crawled. Maybe he jumped a bit..." Ha ha.

I really hate grasshoppers, which is a reasonable reaction to the locust-size hoppers that flourished on our farm. You almost had to dodge them when driving to the mailbox, and a couple of the boys on the schoolbus got a kick out of throwing at me the ones that made it through the windows. Dead OR alive. Fairly phobia inducing. So thanks a lot, Josh & Justin. I owe you a couple months in therapy.

But crickets are in first place on my insect-hating list because of their tendency to come indoors. In our old house, a split-level, they were so common that I kept the DustBuster in the basement purely for the purpose of sucking them up and depositing into the toilet. I've noticed a couple in the basement, but only after they've died. I did find one on the main floor last week, but up until last night, I thought the upstairs would be safe. No such luck.

I tried to grab it - with toilet paper, of course. But it had quite a bit of spunk, and it took me three tries before I could fling it into the toilet. And then I spent another five minutes trying to calm myself down enough so that I could go to bed.

So it appears that the war has started again, and I'll have to recharge the bug-sucker-upper. I'm just wondering if I should get a second one to keep upstairs. We'll see how many of them have the endurance to get up all those steps.