Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Get 20 minutes of Free Time With This Fine Motor Activity

How to Improve Fine Motor Skills in Your Preschoolers and Get 20 Minutes of Free Time!
Sometimes we Moms just need 20 minutes of peace to do the dishes without someone climbing on the dishwasher door and/or pulling out clean steak knives.  I have devoted myself to finding activities that my kids can do that will keep them busy for awhile.  In the spirit of sharing my ideas, I have put together a video tutorial on one of my favorite indoor activities and also included some written instructions below.  This project is absolutely perfect for enhancing fine motor skills and even working on colors so the next time you need some free time, don't turn on the TV or the iPad, try this instead.  The video will tell you everything you need for this project, but you probably already have most of the supplies at home.  I will be featuring other projects in the future, but keep in mind this particular project is probably best for children aged three to three and half since there are sharp pins involved.  Here's to peaceful (and safe) dishwashing! 

First you will start with a standard pin cushion, normally used for sewing and some long push pins with a large head:
easy game for kids, push pins, fine motor for preschoolers
Next you will need either a Parmesan shaker, or if you can't find one of those, get creative.  I couldn't find one, so I bought a strainer at the dollar store and used the Cheerios cup:
Then you will give your young child the pin cushion and show her what to do.  The first time we played this game, she emptied out all the pins three different times for a total of over 30 minutes!
If you enjoyed this post, you will love our book!  Susan and I teamed up and released The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn in July, 2012.  If you have ever tried to cook dinner while your kid clings to your leg and cries, this is the book for you!  As we did above, we give you a Mom's point of view and a teacher's point of view, so that you can do activities that not only keep the kids busy, but also keep them motivated to learn and develop their natural curiosity.  Kids behave better when they are given challenging projects to work on, which will in turn give you more free time to do the things you really need to do, like washing dishes, paying bills, and relaxing so that you can be a better Mom!
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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Stomach Flu can actually come FROM Poor Food Handling

Facebook is a fun way to get updates on all things Christmas.  This year was painful though because I swear every third post was about the stomach flu.  The real blow came when my cousins started posting the day after Christmas (my birthday) about how they were sick with stomach flu.  Why was this so upsetting?  Because we spent Christmas night with my cousins.  Wonderful.  Now every time my stomach rumbles I can't help but think...Tick Tock, Tick Tock.  When will we get it???

This really got me to thinking about stomach flu during Christmas.  When I was growing up, we often woke up Christmas morning sick with the "stomach flu".  It's just one day of the year, why would it be so common for stomach flu to hit on this particular day?

Even when it's not Christmas, I'm a bit of a freak about stomach flu.  Okay, I'm a little crazy actually.  Sometimes I have to physically restrain myself from interrogating our playmates with questions like, Have you or your kids been sick recently?   Have you been AROUND anyone who was sick?   No?  Well then by all means, welcome to my home!  As you can imagine, it's not a great way to make friends so I do my best to restrain myself.

I've been doing some research and I've found that stomach flu at Christmas time probably isn't a coincidence.  It turns out that "stomach flu" is often masked for food poisoning.  In fact, 1 out of every 3 cases of "stomach flu" is actually food poisoning and cases of food-bourne illness go up drastically during the Holiday Season because we amateurs don't know the rules of food preparation.  We leave food sitting out while we wait for everyone to arrive.  We have a party that lasts for several hours and we far exceed the two hour rule, which is how long food experts recommend food can stay unrefrigerated.

Here are some facts to keep you awake at night:

1. Purrell doesn't kill stomach flu.   Hand-washing can get rid of it and wash it down the drain but doesn't totally kill it.  I know what you're thinking because I thought the same thing.  Why don't you just rain on my parade?  Every time I take the kids to the mall I douse them in Purrell and call it good.  That's not enough? 
2.  Stomach flu is frequently CAUSED by poor food preparation. Poor food handling can cause the norovirus, which presents as stomach flu.  Unfortunately, the norovirus is contagious and incidents of this virus sharply increase during summer picnics and Winter Holiday Season, due to POOR FOOD PREPARATION.  It's not a coincidence.
3.  Someone who had the stomach flu is contagious up to three days after they start feeling better .  You can't send kids back to school or daycare the same day they stop throwing up.  They will get everyone sick.

However I was actually a bit relieved by these finding because at least we can actively work to prevent stomach flu during the Holidays.  For example, my Aunt makes an amazing beef tenderloin on Christmas Eve.  Luckily she has worked in restaurants for years and she literally uses a plastic glove to prepare the meat.  This would probably seem odd to most people and I doubt this is a common practice in most family meals, but I'm so glad she does!  We can prevent the norovirus (stomach flu) and that's very good news to a freak like me!

So, I make a plea on behalf of everyone who hates to vomit, which is probably the entire civilized world.  Let's make a pact.  If your know your family is sick, don't take your kids anywhere.  Don't take them to school.  Don't take them to Mother's Day Out.  Don't take them to the mall the second they start feeling better.  Stay home and get well and disinfect.   I know it's tempting, believe me.  When your kid is cranky sometimes getting them out of the house is pure luxury, but please don't.  It's just not worth it.

PS...In defense of my cousins, they didn't know they had stomach flu on Christmas and it turns out they got it from another family, not from food.  Much to my relief we all made it through the night without any symptoms so hopefully we're in the clear since it's already December 28th.  Fingers crossed!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Get Crayon Out of the Dryer: The Winner of the Blue Ribbon Blog Contest

Merry Christmas to everyone!  First things first, I want to announce the winner of the Blue Ribbon Blog Contest for the Winter 2011.  Competition was pretty fierce and I was impressed again by how many people participated and the quality of the posts that were sent in.  The criteria called for posts that really shared something helpful and informative and I selected the winner...She is Melanie from Adventures in Frugalness  She taught me about getting crayon out of the dryer and that is something EVERY mom will need to know at some point, so I suggest we all pin this on Pinterest!!  The runner-up is Tessa from The Diary of a Working Mother.   Her post is about feeding her little guy and it's something I hope every parent will read at some point because it really makes you think.  I look forward to the next contest in the Spring.  Until then, Happy Blogging Everyone!!

Melanie's Bio
Hey there everyone. 

I am so happy to be featured here at A Mommy With A Selective Memory, and honored to be the recipient of her awesome Blue Ribbon Blog Award.

My name is Melanie. 

I am the co-creator or 4 rambunctious boys, a SAHM (to those aforementioned boys), a long-winded author of way too many of which is named Adventures in Frugalness (he he he), and a plethora of many other things.

I started Testosterone Overload, just over four years ago, as a way to keep in touch with family and post pictures of my boys (only 3 then).  Besides the addition of one more XY, Testosterone Overload has definitely evolved from where it started.

I've learned through the years that in order to keep up with my "brood of manliness" I have to A. keep the pantry shelves stocked at all times (I "coupon"...well, sometimes) B. know how to repair anything (especially clothing) with, and sometimes without, duct tape and C. find ways to save money on just about every other aspect of "in-home engineering" you can think of, in order to keep a roof over our heads. 

I have lovingly dub these money (and/or life) saving ideas, my "Adventures in Frugalness".  It just so happens that the post I submitted for the MWASM's Blue Ribbon Blog Contest just happened to be one of them.  It may not have saved me money...or saved my life...but hopefully, because of my research, it can do both for you (if you ever find yourself in a similar situation).

So, without further ado...

Melanie's winning blog post

HOW TO: GET MELTED CRAYON OUT OF CLOTHES First of all...let me say that if you are searching out this topic because you have a similar problem...I am sorry.  Very sorry. Now...where to begin.  Well...if you recall, last week I was having a peaceful, stress-less morning until I opened up the dryer and found black crayon melted all over an entire extra large load of laundry (see Help!  I need you....Crayon vs Dryer).  JUST GREAT! A part of me...a very LARGE part of me...wanted to just condemn the clothing and chuck 'em.  But...unfortunately, the more logical and frugal side of me won out.  I decided to try and clean them.  (Boo!) It's not like I have all the time and money in the world.  I needed something quick and cheap but also wanted to give you, my readers, a true test of options.  So with that in mind, I tried a few different methods (adapted from this blog, and my own intellect), modifying them as I saw fit, and am here to give you my recommendations/solutions.  For cleaning the dryer drum- I put a few rags in the dryer and turned it on for a few minutes to warm the wax back up.  I then sprayed it with Pro-Tek (a non-toxic all purpose cleaner--safe for fabric) and wiped every inch of the drum clean ( recommends using opinion...see below).  I then placed a few clean white rags in the drum and ran it again for a few minutes to test for cleanliness.  It worked.  Everything came out clean.  Also recommended...drying a load of dark clothing (if your crayon was dark) before anything else...."just in case".  After the rags I dried a load of old sheets and towels.  Worked for me.  Whatever you do...just make sure the drum in clean.  You don't want MORE crayon in fabric on your hands.  I'm confident that almost any cleaner would work for this step.  At least any cleaner with any sort of degreasing abilities. For the clothes- I tried a lot of different cleaners and methods.  Here's what I recommend. #1 Fill washer tub with HOT water.  Add 1 to 1-1/2 cup(s) "Homemade Laundry Detergent" concentrate (or whatever detergent you have on hand) and a capful of Clorox 2.  Add clothes.  Wash on REGULAR (not casual or delicate) for 3-5 minutes to distribute the soap/color safe bleach throughout.  Then stop the washer and let the clothes sit for 20-60 minutes before continuing the wash cycle.  Be sure to use the longest wash cycle your machine has (mine is called Super Plus and runs about 12 minutes long).  Rinse on WARM. I found that by doing this I was able to eliminate at least 60 % of the stains right away.  Sweet!....the less scrubbing the better, right? NOTE:  DO NOT PLACE CLOTHING THAT IS STILL STAINED IN THE DRYER TO DRY!!!!!!  Hang them to dry if you are not going to work on them right away. #2 Let the scrubbing begin. I said,  I tried a LOT of products. 
First, I tried this... 
Pro-Tek (a non-toxic all purpose cleaner--safe for laundry) and Clorox 2
Stain Devils-for pen and crayon and Clorox 2
My "homemade laundry soap" concentrate and Clorox 2
and...eventually....I did try this...for the sake of research's suggested  concoction
Wanna know what worked best and was the cheapest?  The "Homemade Laundry Detergent" coupled with the Clorox 2.  TRUE STORY! The Pro-Tek and the Stain Devils (specifically made for pen and crayon) worked okay.  I had to spend just as much time scrubbing the clothing as with the laundry soap (maybe even a tad bit longer).  The WD-40....ugh!...did not work any better than anything else I tried.  I was very hesitant to use it (even though it came recommended by several different sources) but did so anyway...for the sake of research.  It added another step to the whole spray and scrub process because after using it you then have to scrub the WD-40 OUT of the fabric with dish soap.  And what did I end up with?  More stains...from the oily lubricant.  So...I can easily say that I personally would not recommend using WD-40.  It was, by far, the most expensive, as well as the most labor intensive process I tried.  That's my take.  Do with it what you will. So here's what I suggest for remaining stains (after laundering as instructed above): Take a small amount of  Homemade Laundry Detergent" concentrate and work it into the fabric using your knuckles, fingernails, a soft scrub brush (not a stiff one...I tried it...not so good on the fabric), or by rubbing the fabric together.  Continue scrubbing until stain is completely gone or significantly lighter. Re-launder according to directions above.  If stains still remain (I only had two shirts that didn't come completely clean and the stains were very very light)....REMEMBER NOT TO DRY CLOTHES IN THE DRYER...and repeat scrubbing and laundering instructions above until clean. Remember this light blue shirt that was BY FAR the worst of the bunch and I was ready to just throw away?
pictures of clothes with crayons from the dryer
WELL...look at it now.
There are still a few very faint stains.  I will probably have to put it through the scrub/laundering process one more time before it is fit to wear but a VAST improvement I must say.  
It was Roberto's favorite work shirt.  He almost cried when he first saw it (he he he) but now he is just as hopeful as I am that he will be able to wear it again very soon.  
I hope this helps...and please take the advise given me by my mother.  Work on it thing at a time...maybe only one article a day.  Don't let it overwhelm you.  All is not lost. Happy Laundering y'all!

Tessa's Bio

Tessa is a full-time working (outside-the-home) mother who is learning to integrate "work" and "life" into one seamless operation.  She is the mother to Roland, her 21 month old son, married to her high-school sweetheart and is a Program Manager for an IT corporation. Her blog is titled 'The Diary of a Working Mother' and is focused on challenges of working, raising a little one, some lessons learned along her journey of life (The Picky Eater!) and a few recipes.  

Tessa's Post

Until today, I was thoroughly confused as to how Roland could be a good eater throughout the day, and yet such a picky eater at dinner time.  Dinner time is not pleasant.  At all.  At least, not pleasant 80% of the time.   And thus, I often wonder if we're putting our kiddo to bed hungry...
He loves a wide variety of food including avocados, greek yogurt (referred to as "Yo-Yo"), salmon patties and asparagus (yeah, I know...not the typical foods you would think a 1.5 year old would like). We sat down for dinner tonight hopeful that the left over beef braciole would be a hit, but were not surprised when he pushed it away and said "Noooooo".  
As I was preparing his lunch/snacks for tomorrow, I calculated the calories in his favorite daily sandwich - the PB&J.  340 calories between 1tbsp of jelly, 2tbsp of peanut butter and the bread!  I started to wonder how many calories he consumes throughout the day.   By the time we reach 4:00 PM, he consumes nearly 1100 calories!  I did some research on the internet at found out that he should be consuming 1000 calories in a day. (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Appendix 6) Perhaps he's just not hungry for dinner, and we were interpreting his lack of hunger as a picky 1.5 year old! 
That makes sense.  The fact that he eats a wide variety of foods throughout the day and doesn't appear to be interested at dinner supports my new found hypothesis.  It could also explain why Roland gets up so early in the morning (5:30 am after a 7:30 pm bedtime); it could be that he's hungry! I plan to test my hypothesis throughout the week and will report back next Sunday to see if my new theory holds. 
(I am by no means a calorie counter (in fact, if asked today, couldn't even tell you how many calories I should be consuming); I do know how important it is for Roland to get the proper nutrition so that he can grow mentally and physically.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Confessions of the Fashion-Challenged

Hubby and I always struggle with gifts for each other.  The problem is that I can never come up with anything I want and I'm cheap and don't want us spending a lot of money.  Hubby on the other hand has all kinds of ideas for himself so he's always pushing me to come up with something, anything that he can get for me. 

This year I found it.

I was out shopping and saw a girl with an awesome purse.  I don't know about you, but I HATE it when I reach down to pick up a kid and my purse falls off my shoulder, slings the kid right in the face and practically jars my shoulder out of socket.

Thus, I really enjoy over the shoulder bags.  For one of the first times in my life, I experienced fashion envy.  This girl wore her bag over her shoulder and it looked really comfy but it also was nice and elegant.  I texted Hubby and he told me to look up where he could find it.

I rushed home turns out I have expensive taste.  It turns out Marc Jacobs is some famous designer.  Who knew?  I really should have paid more attention in college to the important things, like fashion and handbags.

My frugality will never allow myself to accept a bag for $500 so I'm back to bath salts.  But hey, I like bath salts so I'm happy and that's all that matters, right??

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Not Christmas Without Burned Cookies

Every year our Christmas tradition is baking cookies and decorating them with icing and sprinkles.  It started with my Grandma and now that she's passed, we started it this year with my daughter, who is three and a half.  She was so excited you would have thought she won the lottery.  Things were going well at first. 

After a few batches, my daughter started to lose interest so we moved on to peanut butter balls and let her get down and play with her dolls.  We started to melt chocolate on the stove.  I turned to my Mom and said, "I feel like this chocolate is burning."

She replied and I quote, "Nah, I'm sure it's just that a little water got spilled on the burner."

Well, and hour or so passed, the peanut butter balls were almost done and suddenly...smoke started POURING from the oven. 

"Oh, I guess I know what we've been smelling now," my Mom says and starts laughing hysterically.  "I forgot to set the timer for the last batch." 

This is what she pulls from the oven:

These are NOT chocolate cookies.  They were supposed to be your standard sugar cookie, with a light tan color.  Now they are cooling outside after my daughter said, "Mommy, it smells kind of funny in here."

But the truth is, I was delighted by these events.  When I was growing up, we almost never got through a Christmas without burned cookies.  It's just the way my Mom is and it works for us.  In fact, I texted my brothers and they were so mad they missed the yearly burned cookie event!  They were hoping it wouldn't happen until we were all together.  Truthfully I thought my Mom had finally grown out of this burning cookie phase in her life, but I'm glad she hasn't!  It's a fun tradition to pass on.  The other batches are always delicious!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Growing Out of a Peanut Allergy is a Christmas Miracle

Before I had kids, I have to admit that I was one of the millions of people out there who wondered whether people who claimed to have peanut allergies weren't just a little paranoid.  I mean, not really, I knew they did have an allergy, but the question of severity is confusing.  After all, it's just so hard for the world to understand why all of a sudden peanut allergies are such a big problem when they weren't an issue while we were growing up.  Or when our parents were growing up.

However, my view changed one cold night in March 2009 when my daughter turned blue and had a seizure and was unresponsive for about five minutes.  We rushed her to the hospital but by the time we got there she was fine, even waving to everyone and acting happy. They did try to get blood samples from her, but since she was only 9 months old they couldn't find a vein.  For two exruciating hours, nurses filed in and out of the room, promising they were the expert and would be able to find a vein.  She cried and squirmed and I helpless to do anything but hold her close and sing to her.

We never figured out what caused that seizure until several months later we had her tested for allergies and I remember saying, "I just hope she's not allergic to peanuts."

Sure enough, the doctor called and that was her only allergy.  The doctor thought that possibly explained why she was so crabby when she was a baby, since I breastfed her and I ate a lot of peanut butter.  The doctor explained that her allergy was extremely severe and we had to get all peanuts out of the house and make sure everyone around us knew that she had a severe peanut allergy.

I was devastated.   Every time we had a playgroup we had to leave early because inevitably someone pulled out a PB&J and I didn't want to be that annoying Mom who requested that the event be peanut-free.  It really did affect our lives and I constantly felt watchful for another seizure episode.  We had about 10 Epi-Pens and had to carry them everywhere and keep track of the expiration dates and make sure that I NEVER changed diapers or purses without checking.  It's hard for other people to know what it feels like to be a Mom and feel like any second, someone who ate peanut butter that morning could accidentally touch her and I could lose her.

I remember one plane ride...We flew Southwest and so we requested a peanut free flight.  I felt guilty doing it, but I didn't have a choice.  They got on the speakers and announced that the flight was going to be peanut-free and the people in front of us started huffing and puffing.

"That's so ridiculous," I heard the woman say.  "Just because you're allergic to peanuts, you shouldn't punish the rest of us.  How inconsiderate!!"

I wanted to lean forward and ask if she wanted to see my daughter turn blue and die, right on the plane, but I didn't have the heart to fight with her because honestly that's how I felt until I had a daughter with an allergy.  You just don't get it until it's your reality.

When my daughter turned three, the doctor wanted to test her for peanut allergies again.  A whopping 10% of children grow out of it eventually.  I wasn't very hopeful, but the test came back and....IT WAS A MIRACLE!!!  She only had a slight allergy now, not even enough to need an Epi-Pen!!

Now, this Christmas for the first time, we are finally able to have Christmas Cookies the way God intended...with peanut butter!  We can have peanut butter balls, peanut fudge, peanut Cocoa Clusters, anything we want!  We tried one year to make Peanut Butter Balls with imitation peanut butter...not recommended!

Even though we are now free of the dreaded peanut allergy, I still have a soft spot in my heart for any family who has to deal with the fear of a peanut allergy.  It's real and it's scary, so if your kid's school asks you not to send a PB&J, just keep in mind that no one else is happy about it, least of all the parents of the poor kid with the peanut allergy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Research Shows Working Moms are Less Depressed

New Research Shows that Working Moms are Less Depressed
Ever since women entered the workforce in droves during the 80s, Moms have pondered the important question, What Will Make the Happiest?  Should I Work or Should I Stay Home With my Kids?  We may now have an answer.  A new study published by Live Science reveals that women who work, either full time or part time, are healthier and have less depression than women who stay home with their young children.  The study appears to be fairly extensive since it began in 1991 and followed women through every stage of their child's life.

As a working Mom, I have to say that I am a little shocked by these results.  I work because my husband isn't done with his surgical training yet so we need the money.  I also work because I want to and because I truly like having a life outside my kids but I am often crippled with guilt when I leave my kids for the day.  Every single day I wonder if my kids would be happier if Mom was staying home with them.  Guilt is a powerful emotion and it makes me wonder whether this study researched guilt and how it relates to depression?

On the other hand, my job is very flexible and I am often home with the kids, especially by the time they wake up from naps in the afternoon.  I can very easily see why staying home with little children all day could make you a little crazy.  The witching hour between 4 and 7 is crazy.  The kids are often looking for ways to irritate each other or me, which means they cry and whine a lot, and sometimes everything I try seems to end in disaster.

I wonder if the depression that many Moms face is more related to feeling judged.  I know that I feel judged often.  I feel like people wonder if I love my kids enough.  I know that my friends who stay home sometimes feel judged for not having a career.  In my humble opinion, there would probably be less depression if there was less judging.  Maybe we should agree not to judge each other, no matter what we choose for our own families.

Millions of women go to college and spend thousands getting a college education, only to quit working several years later to raise children.  I say Kudos to them!  This study only looks at the health and depression in the Moms, but what about the children?  True, people often say that if Mom is happy the family is happy, but can kids ever really be truly happy at a daycare facility?

My only hope is that women everywhere know that they have the choice and it's okay to reverse their decision.  If staying at home is making you depressed, get a job.  Often once a Mom chooses to stay home, she can't imagine going back to work and putting the kids in daycare, so a vicious cycle begins and that is how women get depressed.

At the same time, if a Mom works and she hates her job and wishes she could stay home with the kids, then she should take steps to make that happen.  Get a smaller house, buy less stuff, figure out how to work part time.
I have heard that Stay At Home Moms are a dying breed.  Since I often wish I was a Stay At Home Mom, I sure hope they never become extinct.  That would be a true tragedy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Engage Toddlers in Christmas

Christmas is a magical time.  I don't deny that, but the question is, how do I engage my 20 month old boy when all he really wants to do is tackle people and yell, "FOOTBALL!!!".  He isn't exactly into baking or making intricate Christmas ornaments so I've come up with a few ideas:

1.  Play "I Spy" using the Christmas tree.  Both kids love this.  I say, "I spy an ornament with a dog who is wearing a hat."  They both look all around the tree and yell out when they find it.  We've played this several times a day for about five days running.  I'm hoping the excitement lasts.

2.  Let them help wrap presents.  Yes, this sounds tricky, but I just give them some stickers and let them use them like bows.  They both love stickers and are so proud of the presents they "wrapped."

3.  Drive around and look at Christmas lights.  This is a perfect activity for when Daddy is coming home late from work.  Pack up some sandwiches and carrots and drive all around, looking at all the lights.  You don't even have to get out of the car.  It's pretty relaxing actually.

4.  Advent doors.  I found a really neat Advent train at Hobby Lobby.  They take turns each day opening a door.  I'm hoping it's one thing they'll remember as they get older.  I remember my brothers and I took turns putting the star on the tree each year.

5.  Lastly, I put up a new tree every day on our sliding glass door and let them decorate with Christmas stickers.  Fun is had by all.  Ho ho ho!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Who Decided Shirts Should be Short Again??

No one likes to see a plumber's crack, so I was relieved when long shirts became stylish several years ago.  It really makes you wonder why they ever went out of style.  In fact, I was watching old episodes of Friends the other day, and even in the early 2000s, short shirts were very popular.  Jennifer Anniston wore them all the time and they look ridiculous even on her. 

Look at her high-waisted pants and short shirt...her hair looks nice but really?  Is that a style we want to bring back??!??

Now that I've had two kids, I'm been especially happy that long shirts are the norm.  Who wants to be constantly pulling their shirt down and wondering if people are staring at the dreaded belly button??

That being said, I was SHOCKED when I went into H&M the other day.  I decided I was going to treat myself to a shirt for Christmas and was so excited...unfortunately my excitement didn't last long.  This is what I found:

So my question is this...what idiot designer decided to start making short shirts again???  I WANT MY STOMACH AND BUTT COVERED!!! 

I walked out of the store empty-handed.  I say we Moms protest this ridiculous fashion!!  Who's with me???  I bet you anything even Jennifer Anniston would agree that this is one fashion that should remain dead to the world.

PS...I'm sorry that I'm posting again about Plumber's crack...I guess I'm obsessed.  However, you would all be shocked to learn how often my previous post about plumber's crack gets searched for on Google...there are LOTS of people out there who want to see pictures of plumber's crack!!  It's a little disturbing actually.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mommy I'm Afraid of Santa Claus

Last night as I was putting Munchkin Girl to bed, we were talking about Santa and how fun Christmas would be.  She looked really nervous and I asked her what was wrong.

She said, "Mommy, I'm afraid of Santa.  I don't want him to come in our house while I'm sleeping.  Are you sure he's nice?"

I reassured her that Santa was really nice and I would protect her, but internally I was speechless.  I'd never thought of it like that before, but really, what a bizarre custom!  Think about it.  We are essentially saying, "Some night soon, a strange man will enter our house while we are all sleeping.  Yes, he is a stranger, but it's okay that he sneaks in through our chimney.  Oh, and little people called elves are locked up in a small house making your presents and then Santa will FLY in the sky to bring you presents, even though no one else you know can fly.  Then in a few years we will break the news that he isn't real at all and there are no elves and no reindeer."

I remember when I found out Santa wasn't real.  I was so hurt and betrayed.  I don't know if I ever trusted my parents in the same way again.  It was the first time that I realized my parents maybe aren't always truthful.  When I remembered how hurt I was as a kid, there was a small part of me that wished I could protect my kids from this, but at the same time, we don't want to be the weirdos who don't believe in Santa Claus.  That's not going to win my kids any popularity contests.

I decided to research Santa and this is what I found out:

  • There was a Monk back in the 3rd century who used to be known for giving gifts to children.  He was eventually accepted as a Saint and legends began to surface about "St. Nicholas"
  • Santa Claus wasn't well-known in America until Clement Clark Moore wrote the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas", published in 1823.
  • The red Santa Suit was created for Coca-Cola commercials in 1931.  Prior to the Coca-Cola commercials, Santa did not wear a red suit at all, and wasn't fat or jolly
  • Rudolph was also created solely for commercial purposes, and in this case, for Montgomery Ward department store in 1939
  • Santa the way we know him isn't known all over the world.  Countries in Europe all have different customs for Christmas, and none of them include a jolly, fat Santa sneaking down a chimney
Although I was disappointed that Santa doesn't have more prestigious origins,  I have to admit that I do love Coca Cola and even more than that I love Christmas time and I can't deny that Santa is part of the fun.  I'll just have to reassure her that Santa is safe and hopefully she'll sleep on Christmas Eve.  Munchkin Girl is also afraid of the move Tangled so maybe she's just a wimp and needs some tough love anyway.  Just kidding.  I will hug and kiss her plenty, don't worry.  I swear.

*** To research Santa, I used the following websites:

***The above caption is no longer subject to copyright because it has expired

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Out to Dinner with the Kids and the Old Folks

When Munchkin Girl was little, I would have preferred to poke out my own eyeballs rather than go out to dinner with her.  She yelled, she squirmed, she kicked, and of course she wouldn't eat a thing, even after we paid $5 for her grilled cheese.

At three and a half, she now begs us to "go to a restaurant" so last night Hubby and I decided to treat the kids to dinner out.  We arrived at 5:15, which seemed reasonable because we like to get Little Buddy in bed by 7.  However, as we looked around the almost empty restaurant, I couldn't help laughing.  We have now beaten even the old folks to the restaurant.  They started streaming in around 5:45, and by that point we already had the Crayons out, Cheerios all over the floor, torn napkins strewn all about the table and Hubby and I were wolfing down our burgers.  By 6:00 we asked for the check and boom!  In and out in less than an hour, just as the old folks were sitting down to their meals.  It's an odd feeling since it doesn't seem that long ago that we were in college and ordering pizza at 2am. 

Right as we were getting ready to leave, I said to Hubby, "Going out to dinner with the kids might be slightly crazy, but at least Little Buddy is way better at restaurants than she ever was at this age."

Daddy nodded and smiled at Munchkin Girl.  "Absolutely," he said.  "No doubt about that."

At that moment, she looked up, "Daddy, I have to go poooooop."

Hubby acted like she was suddenly on fire.  He practically threw her in my arms.  "That sounds like a great job for Mommy," he said.   I think Hubby is allergic to taking Munchkin Girl to poop on the big girl toilet.

We both laughed.  Some things never change.  Munchkin Girl still didn't eat her dinner, and even though she only poops once every couple of days, of COURSE she would choose to poop at a restaurant where they have one small bathroom.  Yes, going out to dinner is still hassle, but it sure is fun now.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Blame Courtney Cox

I'm glad my daughter's preschool teachers seem to like me, despite the fact that Munchkin Girl seems determined to humiliate me.  First, you might remember that she went to school the day after Halloween limping with a supposed "sore foot".  It was cured miraculously the second she saw her friends, but right before I took her inside to school I asked her how it happened and she told that Mommy ran over her foot with the car.  I can assure you I did no such thing, but I almost didn't send her to school for fear that she would go to school telling everyone and her teachers would believe her.

That was earlier this year.  Then there was yesterday.  This story actually starts a long time ago, when she was only 2 years old.  At the time, she had tons of dolls and wanted to take them everywhere and was very pushy about it, but we never knew what doll she wanted so one winter morning when Daddy was working, I named all the dolls for Munchkin Girl.  She would hold it up and I would say, "That's Lulabelle!"  or "That's Daisy" or "That one is named Lucy!".  Munchkin has all the dolls from when I was a kid so I started running out of names and I was getting a little panicky.  It was like my brain froze up and I couldn't think of another name and she was excited and demanding more names.  I was flipping through my latest copy of People magazine and when she demanded the next name, I happened to be reading about Courtney Cox Arquette and how they were going through a divorce.  It mentioned that her daughter's name was Cocoa.  I thought, That's a cool name...."That doll is Cocoa!" I say.  I look up from my magazine, and she is holding a black doll.  Oh crap.  A black doll named Cocoa.  Could I BE any more insensitive or politically incorrect??  That's what I get for reading a magazine instead of focusing on my daughter.

Fast forward a year and half.  Every week Munchkin Girl becomes fixated on a new doll.  Two weeks ago it was Sarah.  Last week it was Lulabelle.  This week it's a doll that looks a lot like Cocoa.  Only we can't find Cocoa, she somehow got lost over the years.  I don't like this particular doll.  I keep trying to hide her and pretend that we can't find her.  I've considered taking scissors to her, but don't quite have the guts yet.  Why do I hate this doll so much?  Because Munchkin calls this doll, "White Cocoa."

I know.  I'm so mortified.  It does look like exactly like the original Cocoa, only with a different skin color.  I've tried to change the name to Lucy, Lily, Angela, anything but White Cocoa.  Unfortunately Munchkin is being very stubborn about this and not only does she refuse to change the name, but she carries her around in a basket and takes her everywhere we go.  To the store.  To Grandma's house.  And now to school. 

Yesterday she insisted on taking her to Show and Tell.  The only hope I have is that the teachers won't understand because they didn't know the original Cocoa.  I am hoping this particular obsession will die down soon and then I can hide White Cocoa forever.  In the trash.

PS *** A disclaimer***  I really hope no one is offended by this.  She doesn't know any better and I promise I won't read a magazine next time when we're naming dolls.  I blame all this on Courtney Cox Arquette.  What kind of name is Cocoa anyway?? 

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Competition for Best Post by a Mommy Blogger

Calling all Mommy Bloggers!  Back by popular demand...Competition for Best Post!  This contest was a huge hit in September.  I received dozens of quality entries and in the end I selected What's Up Sippy Cup for their hilarious story about their daughter's purple chin and the reason behind it. 

After the last competition, I received tons of requests for another one, so as promised, this contest will be now be called the "Blue Ribbon Blog Competition" and I will now offer it four times per year, one for each season.  The Winter 2011 contest will be open from December 1st - December 19th.  The Fall contest was open only to humorous posts and/or stories.  The Winter contest is for any informative posts.  It can be informative because it's about crafts, cooking, or simply a life lesson.  The rules are simple:

1.  Send me an email ( or comment to this post with a direct link to your favorite post that is informative.  It can be something you wrote in the past, and should be informative and less than 500 words.  (I won't be too particular about the word count)
2.  You must be a follower via GFC (this will be checked)

I will select a winner and a runner-up and they will both receive buttons to place on their blogs to brag about being the winner of the Blue Ribbon Blog Award for Winter 2011!  I will also post the actual the winning entry along with a bio of the winner.  The results will also be posted via Twitter and BlogFrog for maximum exposure.  This is a great way to get some recognition for your blog!

I am looking forward to reading all the great entries!!

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