Oct 27, 2008

Tis the Season for Crud - Prevention Tip

We survived the strep and pinkeye with only 1 of 3 children catching it.

Obviously, I go from room to room with bleach disinfecting all commonly touched items such as toilet handles, doorknobs, faucets, and light switches, and I even still take the toothbrushes, the toothbrush holder, etc. and place them in the dishwasher as soon as diagnosis occurs or meds are started, but even that never stopped illness from spreading in the past. (Please note that I do NOT disinfect all toys, etc.! Only wish I had that kinda time).

I thought I should share the most effective way I've found of preventing spreading illness amongst the sibs to compliment the above-mentioned precautions that never seemed to work alone......the big reveal.....installing a multi-pegged towel rack and buying hand towels specially for each child that they recognize specifically as their own! Prior to buying this actual pegged rack, I had bought the stick-on towel-hanging deals - they were okay, but they fell off and broke if tugged on too hard.

I have 3 hand towels, of their own choosing, for each child, and they get washed every couple of days. A towel goes on each end peg, and the middle towel splits the middle two pegs to allow as much space between them as possible. They still touch slightly, but the kids don't use the sides - always the middle. I highly recommend adding this little trick to your arsenal of preventative measures! All I can tell ya is that I haven't had all kids sick simultaneously since installing it, and it has been years!

Why do I suddenly find myself wishing I had that block of wood to knock on that was in that The Big Idea voting contest I posted earlier? I hope my new desk is made of wood!

Addendum: 11/4/08: I just had an idea to keep these towels from touching yet still allow them to stay more up on the hooks than down.....grommets (sp?) Easy 'nuf, right?

Oct 24, 2008

Help Preemies and Their Parents!

When I was 14, my baby sister came into this world 3 months early. I also have 2 nephews who were micro-preemies, one born at 28 weeks.

The March of Dimes proves to be the champions fighting for preemies and research regarding the causes of premature birth.

Sign the Petition for Preemies urging support from the federal government, federal and state policy makers, hospitals and healthcare professionals, and business and workplaces. By signing the petition, among many other issues, you will be promoting the 14 proposed business and workplace standards including employee education on all aspects of a healthy preganancy, providing reasonable accommodations for nursing mothers in the work place, as well as for expectant mothers, job protection beyond FMLA including adoptive and foster care parents, and scheduling accommodations to facilitate and promote flex time if possible and time off for appointments through baby's first year!

Go to http://www.marchofdimes.com to browse their site, to sign the petition if you require further information, and to find out what you can do to help and how to donate!

Another "leak" story....

As a work-at-home mom, I work in the basement. Despite having heating vents down here, it is cold as all get out. In the summer, I frequently wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts, but am able to forego the slippers. Not in the winter. In fact, I sometimes add a blanket over my shoulders and a heating pad underneath my slippers in the winter. My feet still get cold, probably due to the concrete floor under my carpet.

A couple of years back, with feet that almost burned with cold, I finished for the night, at around 2 a.m. as usual. I went upstairs to wash my face and ready myself for bed. I had, however, noticed earlier I had an eyebrow hair, a stray one that appears from time to time, that needed plucking. I remembered I wanted to pluck this as I warmed the water running in the sink. This eyebrow hair, however, takes multiple attempts at plucking for some reason. It is almost as if it is cemented to my brain or something. All the while the water is running just under my nose in the sink as I stood there in my socks AND slippers on a bathroom area rug leaning in close to the mirror.

Suddenly, I felt this wonderful warmth spreading over the sides of my slipper-clad feet starting from the bottom up, slowly. I welcomed it. It felt so good. I thought for a brief second how wonderful it felt while wiggling my toes to suddenly realizing there was no heating vent underneath my bathroom vanity! I looked down and could see the rug beneath my overprotected feet was wet. What's worse I lifted the rug and could see the water it had damned up to remain under the bathroom vanity. I shut off the water, and suddenly I could hear more running water through the laundry chute door! I ran to the top of the stairs, and opening the door was as far as I needed to go. I could clearly see the waterfall I had created cascading from the ceiling. I hollered for my husband to come help. Firstly he was not happy about being awakened due to my stupidity and secondly he was not happy at how extensive this little mishap turned out to be.

As we stood in the basement waiting for the water to stop flowing through the ceiling and as I amazed at how that little vanity getting soaked upstairs for about 5 minutes could equate to a 6-foot radius circular waterfall over the entire center of our house and directly over the furnace and duct work, etc. combined with how it happened, my enjoyment of warm feet and having a blonde moment, the thought about the story from the view of sharing it in the future hit me and I got hit with the giggles. Who knows, maybe I was slap happy, but I do often tend to not get out of sorts because it just means you are still dealing with what needs to be dealt with, only now you're mad on top of it and complaining never helps anything......DH was not amused. He was scrambling around, as was I, and he yelled "I don't see what the hell is so funny!" He does now, but he didn't at that moment! Luckily for me, and DH's tendency towards a foul mood, the furnace survived and there was no extensive damage due to that part of the basement being unfinished at the time.

Oct 23, 2008

Is there a Positive?

Try as I might, I'm not able to find anything positive in this one. This is a photo of items that had been neatly organized and labeled into our storage room. Only a few have been removed so far too, the most important items. The rest is yet to come.

Why are they no longer neatly resting on the shelves from which they came? Because the toilet located on the floor just above them in our half bathroom overflowed and all of the water came down through the floor somehow around the floorboards and through the duct work via the vent next to the toilet.

I heard swearing and then "Get up here!" As he continued on, I said "I'd better go downstairs and check it out." Sure 'nuf. The large blue and white boxes are the boxes containing my wedding dress and train, the large slab of wood to the left is our extra table leaf. Both items I'd prefer do not make contact with remotely crappy water!

I think I mentioned before I had started a basement organizing campaign, and the storage room looked so nice. Everything in those labeled paper ream boxes now need to be placed into new boxes. The wooden shelves need to have bleach thrown on them, and I can barely type it, everything within them needs to be bleached as well, including the concrete floor. Overkill? Maybe for some, but for a feces germophobe, there is no other way.

I just spent the last 3 days trying to enter an invention/idea contest in my "spare time" and could not get either of my computers to upload media. I'd hit that upload button, but nothing would happen. Apparently the problem wasn't limited to me, and in the end, literally in the last 8 hours before the deadline, the sponsors agreed to let me e-mail them my 30 pictures. Felt good to have them finally there and my submission accepted, but the 3 days it took of downloading software, updates, trying this and that, changing settings, etc. really set me behind. When I got the kids into bed last night, I logged on to find that my submission information was completely gone and so was the contest. I thought, "All that work and it's over before midnight on the deadline date?!" I cried and decided to take a shower. The powers that be for the invention contest fixed the problem and brought back my information. Had this toilet issue happened last night during my meltdown.....who knows. lol.

I neglected my kids somewhat in an effort to make it, to edit pics, fill out forms just so, etc. (not really neglected, but it wasn't fun for them either)....they wound up missing half of a class they had on Monday as I attempted to videotape a presentation. They were angry, but in the end they didn't miss much and felt better. I completely forgot that I needed to pick them up at school before they got on the bus because bus delivery is later than the start of this class. I stayed up extra late trying to squeeze it all in. We had the strep throat and pinkeye, lots of disinfecting upstairs. It just seems like a blur. I was happy that task was over so that I could move onto my next major task that once completed is completely out of the way -- creating 56 bar graphs in Excel to put onto a website. Once this task was completed, it was time to get to the business of organizing my basement so I could start a brand new workout routine - how long this is now delayed, I can't even say for certain. I'll be bleaching and reorganizing that storage a little at a time in the little time I have.

What a bummer. It's hard to literally not raise up my hands and yell "What did I do? Why? Somebody somewhere hates me!" While I don't believe in self-sabotage, it sure feels like I'm being sabotaged a lot of the time, that there are forces working against me. Don't even know how I can type that out, as I also believe everything happens for a reason. Here's to hoping THIS positive reason magically appears, but somehow I doubt it. We might just be able to get my husband to laugh about it in the next 6 months. He doesn't tend to laugh about these things. I usually can, but not when my wedding dress and table leaf are mentioned in the same sentence as sewer water. Ugh.

Oct 20, 2008

Lovely - NOT - Discoveries of Motherhood

Three guesses what this picture is of!

This is a picture of me extracting some vampire teeth from my purse after blindly fishing for my keys and discovering their presence upon taking a peek inside. What's the big deal, right? Well, my son received these at a party the night before the discovery. The day OF the discovery he was diagnosed with strep throat AND pinkeye!

Ah well, I guess it's still better than the mom who discovered her child was using her chapstick on the cat's rectum because it looked chapped! LMAO.

Needless to say, all contents had to be disinfected for my own protection!

Oct 18, 2008

Kid-Free Jam-A Must Do!

Hubbie took all 3 kids to visit relatives today ALL BY HIMSELF! Woo hoo! I can get soooo much done so quickly when I'm alone, cleaning or otherwise--anything.

I know it makes you feel neglectful when you don't accompany your husband and kids on a trip to visit your in-laws, but I'm tellin' you, sitting my husband down and asking him to be adventuresome and take the kids to visit his family more often alone like I do when he is at work to give me alone time was one of the BEST things I've ever done. He has done it three times now in the last 4 or 5 months, which is the most time I've spent alone in all of 11 years of being a mom and all of the 12 years we've been married.

I also crank up the music and clean my hiney off - dancing and cleaning is actually fun in my opinion and good exercise, as evidenced by sweating! Thank God nobody can actually see me! At risk of showing my age, I'm gonna share my 80's list that I listen to. (keep in mind I didn't actually have all the time it took to find and upload 45 songs in order to get to use this player, but it's pretty close to how I would have made it had I had that kinda time!)

Oct 17, 2008

Fair voting on ideas....

I watch The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch whenever I am able to. They have a new segment where they challenge 3 people to pitch their ideas in 30 seconds that we, as consumers, fellow inventors, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. can vote on as being the best of the 3 ideas.

One of the things that bothers me with running contests in this manner, is that one factor in particular can skew what may be the true results.

We see it all the time - Vote for me here (link provided), and some do so for online contacts even. Some people have more friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, etc. than others who would vote just to support you, not necessarily your idea. How do you vote when asked to?

Due to these reasons, let's try to give the participants of this "contest" some fair feedback, a fair vote! I call upon all of us, complete strangers, to vote on which idea we feel is best!

I do not know any of these contestants. I was just really irked by one of the past votes held here. I compared all 3 ideas, and reviewed them for practicality purposes, and the most impractical idea, in MY opinion, was winning! How could this be? Do people not see how completely impractical that item was/is compared to the others?!

Come back after reviewing their contestants! Let's talk about WHY you feel one product idea should win over the others! In the process, we can learn about the current state of consumer thought processes and attitudes!

View contestants here! http://www.cnbc.com/id/27049065

Halloween-Yummy Mummy Cookies

These cookies are a family favorite and they look forward to them every year now. It definitely takes some time, and although it looks like a fun project for the kids to work with you on, proceed at your own risk! I have let them help twice in the past, and I'm sure it would only get better each passing year, but now that I have an almost 3-year-old who must participate in everything, I will still be making these alone during naptime and coating after bedtime! The only drawbacks are the white chocolate hardening to any surface it comes in contact with when the kids are helping and having to keep two dishes of white chocolate simultaneously warmed and going rather than one when doing it alone. They are absolutely sinful.....rich.....(a perfect PMS fix!)

(Note: I've had better success at achieving the mummy wrap look drizzling a cooled-down white chocolate mixture, but the toothpick method works okay too - you'll just need to find the right temperature to make it work best).

2/3 c. butter or margarine, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2-1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (10-oz bag)
1 to 2 packages of white chocolate chips
1 to 2 tbsp. shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread, or oil)
1. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until creamy.
2. Add eggs; beat well.
3. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
4. Stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough 15 to 20 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
5. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

6. Using 1 tbsp. dough, roll into 3-1/2-inch carrot shape. Place onto ungreased cookie sheet.
7. To form head, using 1 tsp. dough, roll into ball the size and shape of a grape; press onto wide end of body.

8. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

9. Place 1-2/3 cups (10-ounce package) white chips and 1 tbsp. shortening in microwave-safe pie plate or shallow bowl (I use a a glass meatloaf pan). Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1 minute; stir until chips are melted.

10. Coat tops of cookies by placing one cookie at a time on a table knife (I use a cake-frosting knife) or narrow metal spatula; spoon white chip mixture evenly over cookie to coat. (If mixture begins to thicken, return to microwave for a few seconds). Place coated cookies on wax paper. Melt additional chips with shortening if needed for additional coating. As coating begins to set on cookies, using a toothpick, score lines and facial features into coating to resemble mummy. Place 2 mummy chips on each cookie for eyes.

11. Store, covered, in cool, dry place.

Oct 10, 2008

A 3-year-old's Idea of a Great Time...

Yes, he is almost 3 and, yes, he does use the potty. We have a number of diaper boxes we keep on hand for sorting, storage, etc. Use a karate belt to put through the handle holes of the box and make some choo-choo noises....pull slowly throughout the house.....and you have an imaginary train! There were frequent "All Aboards" as well, and each room was a station. I imagine if you have the time or energy, you could really decorate this box up well for the car, bus, or train fanatic! (This should work well for regular-sized toddlers -- my little guy is the size of a 5-year-old and the box held.) This actually seemed more fun to him than riding his actual battery-powered ride-on train.

Oct 9, 2008

Channeling My Old Self

I've recently felt the need to draw upon the days where I was required to keep CEOs organized, and the days where I had to keep 4 worldwide corporate headquarters executives organized simultaneously......if I could do it for them, shouldn't I be able to do it here?

I'm giving it a shot in my best problem-solving and practical way. No more sacrifices over here. No more making due with makeshift homemade solutions that aren't' working well enough just because they saved money. I need what I need. I'm spiffing it all up. If that means I have to hang those cabinets in my laundry room myself or hire someone to do it, I will.

I'm starting with my office and the basement simultaneously, since one seemingly runs into the other.

I am channeling the woman who used to be me. What tools did the companies I worked for allow me to buy to be at my best and most efficient? One of my favorites was a label maker. It allowed me to organize my drawers by color and, more importantly, read the labels quickly with ease. Colored hanging file folders mean the folder tabs are usually that color as well, which can be dark when you are using reds and blues and typing or handwriting the labels. The old file folder labels that we used to crank out in rolls on a typewriter were okay, but the label maker--THAT was something. I went out and bought one for just under $30 at our local office supply store. LOVIN' it. Here is an example of the difference!

Even though I'm not supposed to use it for anything other than my business, I thought I would share the ways in which someone who doesn't buy it for their home office could use it....pretty much for anything you want to! You can buy clear tape, colored tape, plain white tape. You can put symbols on your label ranging from the Poison skull and crossbones to a No symbol (the circle with a line through it), and even a present, telephone, or paw print (and many more). You can even print labels with borders that have your title surrounded by a candy wrapper or a banner style, and even a statement bubble or wooden board sign. Different fonts, different font sizes, bold, underline, time and date. You can even create a label with 2 lines of text. You can print off up to 9 copies of the same lable too. You just enter the data, hit print, hit the cut button, and remove the sticky backing and apply your label. Here is a picture of some herbs I cut and put in the freezer for storage.

I can't wait until all my drawers are divided appropriately by color and look neat and tidy with my new labels!

Oct 8, 2008

Support Fellow Entrepreneurial Women!

Being an entrepreneurial woman, I feel it is extremely important to support others! Together we can rule the world!

I was pointed to Darlene's blog from Our Creative Life. She is having a link exchange today of women entrepreneurs on her blog. If you are a woman running a business or making and selling a product, run on over and add your link, but be sure to also leave a comment so that everyone can learn a little about you and your business in return! Go visit and support other entrepreneurial women at http://ourcreativelife.blogspot.com/2008/10/support-women-entrepreneurs.html!

Oct 3, 2008

Knee-, Back-, Water-, and Time-Saving Bathtime Tip....

Growing up, I remember my mother saying (in reference to my grandmother's bum knees), "She spent XX years on her knees bathing children every single night."

Now that I'm in my 11th year of giving nightly baths (only missing a few nights I can probably count on two hands due to children who love to run barefoot and get sweaty or dirty), I "get it" now.

I look at my knees and the first thing that stands out are the dark, rough patches that lotions just do not seem to help. It's worsened with shaving I think too. I can sometimes see how the razor has made its way into those calluses on occasion -- this can only exacerbate the issue.

I kneel on nice bath mats, so why this? Well, being a mom, THIS isn't the only time you kneel. You find yourself crawling on floors for various reasons - spot carpet cleaning, playing with the kids, cleaning the tile floors, the toilets, etc., but with 3 kids, the longest and most repetitive task is the bath. This can go on for who knows how long - depending on the number of kids we have I suppose. Sure, it didn't bother me much the first, oh, maybe 6 years.....but 11.....that's when the long-term effects set in! Start while it doesn't bother you and avoid it, period!

When I was pregnant with my last baby and was dealing with some severe back issues, I remembered spending nights at my grandma's house. I remembered getting baths in the basement in their concrete laundry tubs. I remember we loved it. My husband and I went out and bought a new, divided laundry tub for our basement. (I couldn't imagine putting them into the nasty ol' stained one that had been here probably since the house was built.)

After the baby was born, I returned to bathing upstairs in the regular bathtub. Then we ran into the issue of who to wash first and whether or not I would have enough hot water to accomplish all 3 each evening - the little guy liked to potty in the tub, which required a complete drain and refill, and the older 2 were too dirty to go first - gone were the days where I could just get all 3 in one tubful of water....ever heard the saying "Don't throw out the baby with the bath water?" I decided it was time to move back downstairs, all but the oldest who is bummed about it, and we have all loved every single minute of it.

Just as I did as a kid, my kids loved it and still love it. Even though our laundry room is unfinished and a tad creepy by kid standards, they still love it. They request it. My 11-year-old is now too big to fit and takes showers upstairs now anyway, but he does still try to work his way in for a crack at it. It's like a mini hot tub to them. As you can see, my 8-year-old still loves it and still fits (She hates showers.) The water is deeper for them, and they therefore stay much warmer throughout their bath. They also get to visit and pretend play with one another (even though there is 6 years between my last 2).

The bennies are:

  1. You use less than half the amount of water for both sides of a divided laundry tub than you do in a regular bathtub. (When you put the kids in, the level rises).
  2. You get to stand through the entire bath time.
  3. The bath time lasts about 20 minutes, including play time, for 2 kids together, rather than the 20 minutes for each individually upstairs for a total of 40 minutes.
  4. The dirty laundry hamper/sorter is right behind me, dirty clothes are put directly where they need to be.
  5. I can fold and sort laundry while they play. (Just don't start a load while they are in so as to not add washing machine drainage into one of those tubs!)
  6. They stay warmer with deeper water.
  7. They get towels warmed in the dryer to dry off with (wish I did!).
  8. My knees and back have been spared with no back issues since adopting this method.
  9. Toddlers don't tip over in a square tub like they do in a regular bathtub.
  10. My husband has agreed to finally "finish" this half of the basement. The creepy factor will be eliminated, I will get a new laundry room, and I still have at least another 4 years of bath time!

Oct 1, 2008

Children of the Library

I guess it turns out I have more to blog about than I originally thought!

Anyway, I can't quit thinking about a situation a worker at our local library shared with me a week or so ago. I keep trying to think of a solution. Is there even a solution? I had no idea people did this. Am I too isolated working at home? The only solution I can think of is moms helping other moms, and as a result their children.

Here it is in all of its ugliness.....Did you know that some parents leave their children at the library ALL DAY long in the summer day after day after day, for specific, obvious working hours? She shared that it isn't against the law to drop off well-behaved children to "spend time at the library." They, as workers, notice the patterns. They try their best to look after these children. The parents are even supplying them with a lunch to eat while there. Our library has a kiddie play room/activity area, even computers for them to use, etc. The scariest part is that she shared they also notice the elderly men sitting on benches in the kiddie room watching the children for extended periods of time. Sure, some elderly people simply enjoy watching youngsters, as it makes them feel young, as put to me by my neighbor who shares how much she enjoys watching my children play, but the alternative is a really scary thought and a complete possibility.

My first instinct was to berate these parents within my own head as I rolled my eyes at her in disbelief and disgust as she spoke to me, but the more I keep thinking about it, the reality of today is probably more likely the problem for the majority of these families. The majority of today's parents MUST work full-time jobs to make ends meet. Daycare is outrageously expensive, and really prohibitively so for many families. Single parents may be faced with the dilemma of "Lose your job if you call in sick one more time.", and consequently their insurance, even if it is through no fault of their own, i.e. because their child is sick or their daycare provider backed out on them at the last minute.

I try to envision how that completely frazzled mother must feel about the choice she just made. Was it the right decision? Child at risk over becoming homeless? I don't personally think so, but it certainly is a desperate choice to make in my opinion, and I find my heart aching for the women who feel they have to make the other choice. I'll never understand that, but it is not my place to judge another mother. (Also, I'm not "feeling" for those nonparenting parents that we all know exist).

It makes me that much more appreciative that I am able to work from home. When something unexpected pops up here, I can tend to it and just pull an all-nighter to accomplish the work. The only negative is that I am not up to par the next day. I don't have to explain to anyone what is happening here. I do, however, remember the days of having to call in for reasons other than myself being ill and experiencing that guilty feeling I should not be feeling.

What are your thoughts? Can you think of a solution for these people that I may be able to share with my local library? Maybe they can make gentle referrals to these parents out of the welfare of the kids?