Dec 23, 2009

Just checking in and updating

I have no idea what week number I'm on at this point in my dieting quest, and as you can imagine, things have just gotten extremely crazy due to birthdays and holidays. In order to exercise and eat right, some things had to go so that my goals did not suffer.

Since we are so close to the end of this year at this point and I previously created a blog entry regarding how I was to meet my New Year's resolution of eliminating the things that prevented me from keeping the resolution of getting healthy and losing weight in 2009, you can see that I stuck to it. lol. The blog had to go and still has to go, not completely, just not as frequently so that I can continue working on myself.

In hindsight, yes, I did eliminate all of the things that prevented me from tending to myself. Also, however, a lot of things suffer, but I have to make a conscious decision to forget about the fact that I accidentally pay a couple of bills late to work in the workouts. I'll survive, anxiously but survival no less. Trying not to sweat the small stuff.

I have lost weight, and I haven't weighed myself in a few weeks. I have maintained, and even lost another few pounds. I haven't been tracking Weight Watcher points and instead have been able to eat sensibly on my own to where I have not gained. More importantly, people are noticing and commenting that I've lost a ton of weight, which feels great. Most significant, however, is that I feel healthier. My clothes fit better, and I'm in fact wearing jeans again. I have muscles all over again and seem to be able to even have a bad week of fast food when on the run and not gain weight because of my workouts. I seemed to have switched up my metabolism. I'm stronger and I've noticed that hectic outings with the kids don't wear on me at all any longer, wherein they used to kick my butt, and muscles would get sore; they no longer do either.

Overall, things are going well. Crazy, but I'm managing. I'll come back soon and share how I was able to work in a sensible breakfast, which is a big deal for one who never ate breakfast, but I attribute a lot of my success to my breakfast smoothie!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to you all!

Oct 6, 2009

Weight Loss Week #4 In Review

Not good at all. In short, you know when people say I was on the run? Well, I was, only literally. No exaggeration at all. I spent an entire day coming and going with about 15-20 minutes at a time in the house in between trips. Crises included trips back home, family emergencies, dealing with the lice followup to ensure no new nits were found, etc. I ate fast food once daily while on the road, but it was once daily period due to being so busy and spread too thinly. The only good that came about was that I forced in a workout and had a good food day on Monday with 2 miles on the treadmill and on Tuesday I walked 3 miles very slowly with my 3-year-old in tow for a school field trip. Hubbies schedule was changed up a few times and I had more work than I would like. (Thanks Dr. So and So for saving your work up for delivery when you feel you are up to it because you'd like to spend time with your little one.) I also did some running for a friend in need. I also kicked a toy a couple of nights ago after turning out the lights attempting to go to bed. Cut my toe and didn't realize it and therefore spent the night bleeding onto my sheets. I was so exhausted, I actually didn't feel anything beyond the initial stinging until morning when I woke with an "Ouch!" Toe is extremely sore, but I don't think broken. Counted that as a no-no for sticking into some running shoes for aerobics and treadmill work. I still haven't treated the sheets and washed them. I'm just now catching up from all the laundry we produced from ensuring everything was washed every single time after one single use in hot water and dried due to the lice. I'm not weighing myself today. I am going to have to consider tomorrow, Saturday, a start over day and will report next Friday how I did for that week.

Sep 28, 2009

Weight Loss Week #3 in Review

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: I weighed myself on Saturday and the scale had actually moved. Hopeful that it was because of the DOMS because my soreness is gone. Made it all the way through the Start It Up program today (Sat) with a mile on the treadmill. All is well this Saturday. Tomorrow, Sunday, I only plan on doing my points system and taking a day off from the working out, which I hear is a good thing to do. Six days a week is great for me as it is!

MONDAY: Finished the Start It Up Slim in 6 program today -- just wanted to make sure one more time before I move on to the Ramp It Up program and get sore all over again. Finished that off with 1 mile on the treadmill, which I was able to up the speed on from 2.5 to 3. I had to turn it back down to 2.5 though to incorporate my arm toning exercises with the weights though.

TUESDAY: Found some bills that are going to be cutting it close today if put in the mail today. I also got hit with a $40 fee for a late payment last week, which is the first time I've every paid anything late in my life. Just don't seem to have enough time in the day to get it all done while working my me time in there. My son handed over the picture order form he said he had never received for picture day 2 weeks ago to discover there is no way to get them now. Hoping for retake day for him. Asked DH to blow-dry my daughter's hair before bedtime for her last night for her picture day today due to my heavy workload and desire to go to bed sometime before 4 a.m. She has awkwardly located waves and cowlicks that if blown dry the night prior still leaves her with silky, shiny, straight hair the following morning. He forgot to do it. She fought me this morning on trying to fix it up nice, so she too will be going for a retake day. I asked him to write the check to cover that, and I'm hoping he got that right because for the first time in our 7-year school picture history, it is made out to another name, the website address in fact. I started the Ramp It Up part of the Slim in 6 program, and it wasn't that bad. We'll see tomorrow or the next day if I'm sore or not. I didn't finish all reps of everything, but due to my arm-strengthening exercises on the treadmill the last few weeks, I was able to do all of the arm/band workout portions except for the rowing ones. I was able to do all squats, pliets, and lunges, but my arms crapped out on me so I had to take them out here and there. I had to pause the DVD twice to get a drink of water and to catch my breath. I did not do all of the abdominal crunches. My stomach muscles are the weakest muscle in my body having suffered a back issue during my last pregnancy and my spine being 7 degrees past normal setting, but I'll get there eventually. Followed that up with 1 mile on the treadmill with no arm strengthening exercises since that is now incorporated into the DVD. Off to work now.

WEDNESDAY: I did what I was supposed to do all day. Lost 3 1/2 pounds as of this morning this week, and then the evening hit.....I found lice on my daughter's hair. The best we can figure, since my daughter doesn't remember seeing the photographer open a new comb for her, was picture day at school. This is a first for our family and I would rather have my eyeballs scratched out then deal with this again, so fast forward to official weigh-in on Friday.....

THURSDAY: Thanks to last night's discovery, I spent the entire day cleaning and nipicking and dealing with grumpy children in shower caps with heads full of olive oil. I had 25 bags of pillows, linens, comforters, couch cushions, etc. at the laundry mat in the dryers there to kill any potential bugs. I also bought the RobiComb for $30.00, which seems to work. It detected and zapped about 15 of the critters on my daughter's head prior to the application of olive oil and so far everyone else is clean. Quite a day. I had an orange-melon smoothie for breakfast, and it all went out the window the remainder of the day, as I was just too busy. I had some candy here and there with the kids while I nitpicked, a salami sandwich for lunch while I nitpicked, and then pizza for dinner just prior to washing out the olive oil. I think I finished the day off with a 1-point large pretzel and mustard. Lots of pop too. No water today, no fruits, no veggies....you get the picture.

FRIDAY: Is going well so far, counting points again, but typing this up early so I can keep being down to business and finish off what started the other night....more checking, another olive oil treatment for everyone, etc.

WEIGHT LOSS THIS WEEK: 3 1/2 pounds since last Friday.

TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS: 7 pounds in 3 weeks.

LEARNED THIS WEEK: One crisis can throw you completely off course. Also, many things, some important, are going to slip through the cracks when you work me-time in without the help of an organized individual. lol.

Sep 24, 2009

Weight Loss Week #2 In Review

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: Last weekend was a bad one. I didn't eat particularly bad things, rather I didn't slow down enough to eat but once a day. I still made that a healthy choice, but I'm sure it will affect my number drop this week. It seems it was a blur due to my hubbie working overtime on his days off. The poor guy hasn't had a day off in.....I don't even know without checking the calendar. Despite being as tired as he is, he wants this for me as much as I do - it's just remembering that during inconvenient times. I also had to take those 2 days off from the treadmill due to the blister on my right heel, but I used that time to locate my old stash of workout video (tapes and DVDs).

MONDAY: 2 miles and 50 minutes on the treadmill with hand weights and arm exercises. Blister is getting sore toward the end there. Jumped on the Soloflex and did some leg curls and extensions. Used to love doing those. Shorted myself 2 glasses of water. Dunno why, just can't get myself to drink it.

TUESDAY: I managed to get my workout in, transcribe Dr. JabberJaws (40 mins for 4 patients), and to take in my daughter's friend and her dog so that her parents could attend an out-of-town funeral. Whoo-wee. That dog barks more in 15 minutes than our dog has barked in the 6 years we've had her. It's ear-piercing. Owner said they never let it roam free and to keep it in it's crate. Yeah, well.....not if I'd like to hear myself think. I made it a spot in the back foyer with a doggie bed and it's own supplies by gating it in there on the tile floor, but the lil' bugger climbs out. When I put another gate on top of that one, he pulled it down onto himself. It's going to be a looong night with trying to get 2 yapping girls to bed on time on a school night and this dog.....how am I going to get my work done and make sure it doesn't mark it's territory inside my house? If I lock it up, even in the garage, the whole neighborhood can hear it. Shorted 2 glasses of water again. Just don't feel like drinking it.

WEDNESDAY: It was a looong night, only 3 hours of sleep. Got my work done at 4 a.m. My youngest woke at 1:30 to play with the dog. I got him back to bed, took the visiting dog out at around 2 a.m. in the rain, brought him back in, put him in the room with the girls for some peace, and came down to try to finish work. Hubbie came home at 2:30'ish and found it had crapped in the living room. At 5 a.m. we found my daughter with every light in the house on playing with this dog in the living room due to its bark. Got them both back to bed to wake at 6:30 to get my oldest off to school to find the dog had crapped again in the living room. I let hubbie grab some more sleep, etc. so that the workout today came in at around 5 p.m. Yes, the friend and the dog were still here. In fact, they weren't picked up 'til almost 10 p.m., but hubbie dealt with it all so that I can do my thing. It only ate a couple of toys, but a small price to pay for some nonbarking time, so I call them sacrifices.

Today I started my Slim in 6 program, turned the background music off and played my own. As I expected, I didn't make it through all the reps Debbie (I think that's her name) and her associates do, but I made it through. What attracts me to this program is that there are little green bubbles off to the side of the screen, as well as a timer at the bottom of the screen counting down. Each time you complete a section, a bubble disappears working its way down and you can see that timer counting down. Just when you think you can't do another rep, you think "I only have 34 seconds to go, and you do it, or at least I do. I did better than I would have had I just jumped into this 2 weeks ago instead of working a tad on my endurance and stamina on the treadmill. Overall, I'm pleased I made it as far as I did. After the Start It Up Program section, I jumped on the treadmill for only 10 minutes until my blister told me to get off. I drank all my water today, all 6 glasses. I ate breakfast and lunch together because I missed breakfast for work. I try to keep my breakfasts and lunches real low in points anyway, so figured it wouldn't be a big deal to put them together.

My Holy Crap moment of the day was when I hadn't eaten any breakfast and hubbie had prepared chicken nuggets in the oven for the kids (the visiting kid is way pickier than my daughter, which I didn't think was even possible). I caught myself wondering how often I have done this in the past, despite this being the first time in the almost 2 weeks of counting my points....I popped the 3 uneaten nuggets into my mouth rather than throw them away.....5 nuggets is 7 points I discovered upon recording them into my log. So not worth it, and in fact, making note to not buy them, even when hubbie is in charge of dinner. I had fish and asparagus for dinner at bout 9:30 p.m. and finished just as the extra child and dog were picked up. I looked really scary at that moment with my bangs in ringlets and a sweaty V on my shirt with more in all the usual places. Egads. Oh well.

THURSDAY: Again let hubbie get some extra sleep. He has a dangerous job, so I can't help but put that priority up there once in a while, despite my desperation and goals. It is 1:18 p.m. and I haven't eaten anything but a taste of scrambled eggs to ensure they were cooled off for the little one (it's his reassurance). Got my morning workload taken care of while little one ate breakfast. So I'm going to wind this up quickly and get up there and figure out what to eat. Another day of the Slim in 6 Start It Up program and I finished almost all reps, but the lunges are getting my already-sore thighs today. Afterward I hopped on the treadmill for 25 minutes and 1 mile, stopping long enough to work my, ummmm, what are those muscles called again? triceps! That's it.....Are fat people allowed to refer to their muscles by name? It feels silly to do so, but they are there. In fact, I can feel my muscles in my abdomen, biceps, triceps, and thighs again. Motivation indeed. Actually, and I know it is soon, but I feel that I look a little less "round" than I did 2 weeks ago, i.e. my silhouette.

I'm trying to not care that the scale has only moved 1/2 pound so far this week when checking it today, but not eating enough and not drinking water are probably going to contribute. The important thing is that I've worked in the workouts each day for my health. I'm also secretly hoping it has something to do with the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) phenomenon I read about. This is where your worked muscles retain fluid to protect themselves and it is temporary. I'm also reminding myself that the WW leader waaaay back the last time I was a member had told me that if you are the type of person who wants to pull big numbers to stay motivated, then working out should come later because you may not see those big numbers when working out simultaneously. At this point, I don't care if my scale reads 230 pounds when I'm done, as long as I'm wearing jeans that are 12 sizes smaller - who am I kidding, wearing jeans again period.

FRIDAY: Hubbie let me sleep in, which isn't good for the girls waiting for their work from me, so I hopped out of bed and attached myself to the computer immediately. Afterward, around 11:30'ish I had my orange-melon smoothie for 5 points (should've been only 4 points, but I bought the wrong yogurt). I also weighed myself as my computer was booting up and it says that I'm up now 1/2 pound.

WEIGH IN: Up 1/2 pound from previous Friday.

WEIGHT LOSS TOTAL: 3 1/2 pounds in 2 weeks.

REFLECTION: I can see the problems I had this week. I skipped 2 meals a day for 2 days. I put 2 meals together on a day, and I know it is better to spread them out to keep my body fueled properly. I shorted myself a couple glasses of water a few days. I had waaaay too much going on around me. I am also severely lacking in sleep. I hopped onto the scale just before writing this about 1.5 hours after my last weigh-in this morning out of curiosity -- I had a BM and hoped my number dropped with it (Admit it, you've tried this too!) You won't believe this, but the scale says another 1/2 pound up from earlier, so I'm sticking with my original weigh-in, mostly because the time frame is consistent with my usual morning weigh-in time. My muscles are really sore today, and I'm hoping DOMS has something to do with that, as mentioned previously. On the upside, I've improved my heart health 5 days this week and strengthened my muscles despite not dropping numbers.

Sep 18, 2009

Week 1 - Weight Loss Adventures

So I officially began my weight loss journey in earnest last Saturday. I decided to use my old Weight Watcher's points tracking system and to commit to exercising once again.

I had my husband take photos of me from the front, side, and back. It was a monumental moment for me, as I avoid pictures of myself at all costs these days.

Firstly, I can't believe how deconditioned I am, so I decided to start on the treadmill. I've done 2 miles per day at a speed-walking/lazy-jogging pace while lifting 3-pound weights in various arm exercises to raise my heart rate and hopefully tone my arms simultaneously for about 15-20 minutes, as these boobs have never been amenable to bouncing of the jogging degree (there is no such thing as a sports bra to hold 'em steady). It is enough to make me sweat like a hog. I figure it is best to work my way into this by reconditioning myself to avoid the inevitable discouragement I predict I would feel when having to stop at half the repetitions (or less) than those in all of my workout videos.

The treadmill is actually fun to do, and the time flies (45 minutes) doing it in front of a TV with my favorite music blaring. I guess I need something to look at, despite rocking out and getting funky.

It's important to note a few things about walking on a treadmill that I personally had never used until this point:

1. Trying to get down to the beat of your tunes can make you lose your balance but is big fun.
2. Reaching across your body in front of you, i.e. left arm reaching for the weight in the right-sided cup holder, can make you lose your balance.
3. Closing your eyes or turning your head, even for a millisecond, can make you lose your balance, and you should just forget about looking behind you altogether.

Family and scheduling conflicts are most definitely my biggest hurdles. This week my husband's job interfered, as did his habits, despite his promise of support; I had a few appointments myself; and I had a friend in need. My practicality tells me there is no reason to get up, shower, apply makeup, do my hair, come home, remove the makeup, sweat profusely, shower again, reapply, redo the hair, etc. I have to do it before I need to leave the house, which isn't always doable. Therefore, some of these exercise bouts occurred less than 12 hours apart, i.e. 10 p.m. one day, and 8 a.m. the next.

My husband took off to work early leaving me with a ton of work to do, so I pulled a really late night to work in both me time and work and burned myself out the next day, but I got back on and did it anyway; only 35 minutes rather than 45, while constantly talking to my 3-year-old and talking him off the step-ski-bike machine.

Meal planning is right up there with the aforementioned. Last night everyone was happy to be eating Sloppy Joe's (what they didn't know was that it was the WW version for 5 points). I made it at noon, tasted it, and couldn't tell the difference between it and the canned version my husband introduced them to. Neither could my husband or the boys, but my daughter, the pickiest and frequently whiniest child on the planet took one bite and decided the "crunchy things" ruined it. Sigh. The crunchy things were green peppers, and she focused more on the color than the texture, despite eating the other half of that raw green pepper with me earlier. I sometimes wonder if she simply takes joy in being difficult.

I completely ignored the mess that greeted me each day upon completion of my workouts/exercises, such as the "groceries" (a man's version of groceries), strewn across the counter, the dish-filled sinks, the toy-strewn house, etc. I figured hubby let that happen, so he can do this for me and handle it the next day if need be. The biggest problem with that mess is that it makes preparation of my more complex and fresh-ingredient recipes almost dreadful. During one particular day of mess and day of running children here and there, I did a trip to Wendy's choosing the better options for the points that remained for me that day.

My biggest fear is that the organizational freak within myself will win out over my desire to achieve this one particular goal for myself. It makes it very difficult to take me time when these things are gnawing at you sometimes with guilt. This is how I find myself today almost 100 pounds heavier than when I met my husband 18 years ago (an average of around 5 pounds per year), and to clarify, it is because I put myself last to tend to everything that *I* felt needed attention more, and the last time I ignored it, it turned into the mess I found myself having to deal with this past year before freeing up the issues enough to start this try. This can't happen. It is as simple as that.

So, the big reveal for this week, is that I walked/exercised for 14 miles on a treadmill and I lost 4 pounds. Not sure what happened there, as yesterday it was 5 pounds.....could be the hormonal issue that has arisen....maybe the two glasses of water I didn't manage to work in yesterday.....but either way, it is a loss.

ADDENDUM: Today, 1 day later, than goodness, I noticed that I'm in a lower points range for my current weight, so there I was eating 2-5 points more than I should have been for a couple of day. Better week next week!

Sep 11, 2009

I Remember September 11, 2001

Eight years ago today was my oldest son's first day of preschool. It was a co-op preschool, and since I was in charge of scheduling parents, I scheduled myself to spend this day with him working in the classroom.

The kids were loud and squirrely as they were exposed to the new school structure setting for the first time in their little lives. The father that was assigned to work with the teacher and I this first day received a cell phone call. I didn't even have a cell phone then. The look on his face was a little off, but all he said to us as he tried to find a radio station in the classroom was that a plane had crashed into a building in New York. I don't know if the classroom noise was just too high to listen to the radio or what, but he gave up on that as I glanced over periodically from the other side of the room and walked away. We continued about our day. It was a lot of fun. I still enjoy watching my children experience things for the first time as much as I did that day.

Working at preschool meant that we, the parents, cleaned up after class each day, so that is what we did. When finished, I placed him into his car seat, buckled him up, and headed home talking about his first school day (a whole 2 hours). I noticed there wasn't any traffic, which is odd, on the road we were taking. I turned on the radio and heard for the first time what most of the rest of the world had been listening to for a few hours by that time. My heart dropped in my chest and I started glancing at the skies as I drove next to our local airport. I had a feeling that it was going to happen everywhere across our country. I hurried home.

I walked in the back door to find my husband watching the TV who turned and looked at me with his mouth half open in disbelief holding our 20-month-old in his lap. I remember crying at the images of women and men holding hands and leaping to their deaths from the burning buildings. My heart was breaking for my children as I held them tight.

My heart still goes out to the families and loved ones of all those lost that day. I may not have ever heard the words Taliban or al Qaeda prior to that day, but I remind myself daily what they are and of the threat they represent to my children, their future, and our country.

I will never understand how any group, be it religious, social, race-oriented, etc. can classify another entire group into one sweeping generalization that it warrants attacks of any kind. I recognize their shortcomings, their ignorance, and that somewhere along the line someone failed them in raising a truly well-rounded/compassionate human being.

Sep 10, 2009

Bye-Bye Summer Vacation

In many ways, it is a relief, and in others, not so much. Is it just that I "like" to gripe? Nah. Each season has its pros and cons.

The kids are back in school now for 2 days. The summer running and madness has ceased only to be replaced with school running and mounds of paper. Right now I believe the quiet house to be the blessing simply because I'm more able to get down to work when needed, less fighting, noise, etc.

The hardest part and latest challenge being that hubbie's schedule has changed yet again to where we are both working until 2-3 a.m. Not good for our new middle schooler who needs to wake at 6:30. I'm struggling with fatigue and trying to find a new change in the work/home balance to accommodate avoiding sending one of the loves of my life off to school without a hug. We'll figure it out eventually. It's probably as simple as getting my body out of the wake-sleep pattern I've been in for over 10 years and shifting my work hours to very early morning instead, but it's proving a challenge. I live with this fear that those who subcontract for me will inevitably send the wrong file the evening prior or forget to return their work altogether thereby holding up my return to the client the following morning. Control issue? I don't think so, but I'm sure it plays at least a partial role.

Update on my goals...I spent the summer picking away at the basement. I managed to sort around a 20-year accumulation of toys, despite my oldest only being almost 12 (no thanks to my mother-in-law--I'll explain later. You see, we have his 11 years worth of toys, my daughter's 9 years of toys, and my toddler's probably 2 years worth of toys (as we recycled the others since he didn't couldn't tell). Garage sale is in my immediate future. I finally got the old spider-ridden, unfinished part of the basement completely cleared out and ready for my husband to stud out and drywall. Better yet, ALL of the workout equipment is sitting right here in front of me just waiting for me to begin achieving my personal goal of tending to myself and putting myself first. Hubbie expressed concern about how he was ever going to be able to use it since it is right here where I work, to which I responded, "Look at me. I'm a walking mess. How 'bout nobody question how something is going to work out for them and allow me to only worry about myself for a change? Six months is all I am politely asking for, which I will be taking regardless if necessary." He got it, and I'm thankful he can be so reasonable, (Note: "can" be). Three weeks ago I was all ready to begin, and one of my subcontractors took off for 3 weeks without notice. Can't begrudge her a trip seeing how she never takes any, but a little notice to plan backup help woulda been nice, so I spent the last 3 weeks eyeballing the equipment. Just as she returned, literally, I got a call for some nonmedical transcription work that is going to be a nightmare that I'm hoping I receive a call for in 2 more days to cancel (It's going to be extremely expensive due to the terrible quality and projected length of time to transcribe due taking a crack at it for a mere 5 minutes yesterday).

I can taste it - it's right there - literally ME time.

Jul 1, 2009

I'm REALLY glad you're not scared of the swine flu

Really. I couldn't be happier for you.

I've seen and heard comment after comment from people who believe they are superior to others because they aren't or weren't scared of a little swine flu. It cracks me up. I suppose since I am one of those people who did understand what it meant to get the swine flu, that it was more like the regular flu, and yet I still planned on pulling my kids out of school should it arrive in our area that I'm one of the crazy, overzealous, uninformed parents out there. @@

It's simple math really people.....Household of 5, 1 full bath and 1 half bath, the need to designate 1 for BM end and 1 for the vomiting end, the potential to have more than 2 people at a time needing one of those bathrooms for any given end.....yeah, I'd rather "avoid" it. I'd rather not deal with a vomiting 3-year-old should I feel like crap myself. Not scared of it at all.

So next time you feel the need to wave your common sense superiority over the heads of others, in your group of "in-the-real-know" about the issue, etc., give it a thought. Some of us merely gave more thought past contracting the illness, you know, like scrubbing vomit out of carpeting or needing to vomit into a toilet someone just had a diarrheal blowout in, etc.

Jun 24, 2009

Movies & Kids

I'm starting to notice a problem here....either I've turned into a certain ex-Vice President's wife, or something is very wrong with perception these days in general.

Last year my husband and I could hardly stand the wait for the newest Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull movie. We were really excited about seeing the movie, as it was one of our favorite action series as children ourselves. The day had arrived, and after having watched the prior movies with our kids to get back up to speed and checking the ratings for the latest, off we went.

In spite of the ratings for this movie being PG-13, we decided to take our 9-year-old, 11-year-old, and 3-year-old anyway. We knew the 3-year-old would probably cause us to miss bits here and there taking turns at walking around with him when necessary, it being his first movie and all and due to the fact that it wouldn't remotely hold his interest, but......I was really ticked off before the movie ever even started.

This movie was rated PG-13, but the notations indicated the movie contained adventure violence and scary images only. Based on our own personal experiences with Indiana Jones, we knew our older 2 could handle this. But the previews/trailers for the movies prior to our movie beginning is what had me completely floored, mouth on the floor and all. My children had to view a trailer for Dirty, Sexy Money that showed lingerie-clad women, 1 seductively throwing herself down onto a bed, and even girl-on-girl action.

I returned home furious enough to rip off a letter, but I was unsuccessful in determining just who it was should be the recipient.

Fast forward to last week when my husband decided to take our 9-year-old and 11-year-old to see the new Transformers Revenge of the Fallen movie......Again, PG-13, but based on the first movie, the Burger King Kids Meal Toys with children our children's ages, he never checked the cautions for the movie. He bought the tickets on a whim as a special late-night treat for the older 2 while already at the movies watching Up with them. It is imperative that you take note of what the notations actually are for this one, which are: Intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material.

My husband came home in shock and embarrassed that he had even taken our children. He kept repeating, "They have kids their (our children) ages playing with them as kid meal toys!" We can handle a swear word here and there, but this apparently went above and beyond to the point it should have been labeled with "excessive language." He said he kept waiting for people to stone him and reprimand him while walking out with our kids that he had dared do such a thing. At least one of the trailers was appropriate, a new Toy Story movie coming up.

Brief notes about what he shared with me: Excessive language, and really overly so, not just your standard "shit," "hell," or "damn." Name calling using "pussy." A transformer climbing with wrecking ball-type of balls hanging between his legs clanging together AS his actual "balls." A "hot" girl landing with her head in the crotch of a guy and him picking up his head, looking down, and saying "Beautiful." A little robot humping the leg of a "hot" girl. A "hot" girl coming onto Shia LaBeouf's character trying to get him to "do it," and them showing her panties under her very short skirt while lying atop him so that you could get the full effect of her tail appearing as she transformed. That's about all I can recall off the top of my head at the moment, having not seen it for myself, but if my husband, Mr. Potty Mouth himself, had a problem with it, then I venture to say it must be "out there."

This is a questionable movie for even 13-year-olds in my opinion. It has been marketed to children even younger, as you would be hard pressed to find a 13-year-old or older person playing with the toys or eating the kid meals in which they are placed. Something has gone way out of whack here.

While I'm at it, there was another movie last year I believe it was....Hancock (which we did not let our children see thankfully). What a great opportunity for kids just missed out on. Had they made the character not drunk (which can offend some people) and instead had him lacking for other reasons, had they chosen another word as the word that set him off (only because they had children saying it), and had they completely cut out the scene where he takes home a woman from a bar and ejaculates through the roof of his trailer, they could have had a very good modern and realistic superhero movie on their hands in my opinion.

I also took my daughter, at my husband's recommendation, to see Marley & Me, which was inappropriate in my opinion for a 9-year-old. It didn't indicate in any way that the movie had suggestive sexual scenes that I found myself covering my daughter's eyes and ears for.

It really is such a shame.

Jun 18, 2009

I'm the Local Buggy Bandit and Groper.

In the past, in all my haste, during my on-a-mission, get-in-and-get-the-hell-out as fast I can style grocery shopping excursions, I had grabbed buggies other than my own causing panic in other patrons. It was only a couple times (so far), as I've learned to pause a sec to avoid this situation. I was dubbed the "buggy bandit" by my husband.

The first time this happened I was in the dairy section. There was a huge line of buggies clustered in the general area, so rather than wait for room to appear for my buggy, I left my buggy back by the paper products and walked right up to get my milk. Unfortunately, I then apparently grabbed the nearest buggy and continued on my merry way. Can't remember where I was when I noticed a bunch of produce in my buggy that I had not selected, and my Band-Aids? Where were my Band-Aids?......then it dawned on me, so I quickly made my way back to the paper product section to find the buggy-less woman standing near my cart. No harm done, a little bit of a laugh, my profuse apology, and on we went.

The second time, however, did not go as smoothly. I repeated the same slide-in-and-slide-out maneuver in the produce department and again grabbed the nearest buggy that was not my own. I was in the other end of the store when I looked down and noticed there was a purse in the seat of "my" buggy that was not mine. Egads! My heart dropped. I could get in big trouble for this one! I start frantically backtracking, not really knowing where I committed my crime. It was when I rounded the corner into the produce department that I could see a frantic woman surrounded by a couple of other helpful women that I located my mark. Deep breath.....onward. I approached the woman, who identified me via her purse as I approached her. I apologized up and down, backward and forward, and even sideways. I reached out and touched her arm in my attempt to convey my sincerity. She wasn't having any of it. Talk about dirty looks and conveying no interest in relating or understanding....sheesh. The giggles hit me halfway home, and I laughed about how stupid of a thing it was to do until I had tears. Can't really explain it, but it hit me funny somehow.

Fast forward to today, grocery shopping with kids in tow, I take a step back to look up high and back straight into someone. In an attempt to gain my balance, as my heel landed on this person's heel, my hand came down and back, and I palmed HER ass, and I mean really palmed it. Oh brother, now I'm not only a buggy bandit, but a groper. The kids had a good laugh but, again, the patron was unamused.

While my bandit incidents occurred during a time I really didn't know anyone in our small city, the ass I grabbed happened to belong to a woman who lives down the street from me, and I'm not exactly fond of her. I have no idea how she feels about me, but I'm guessing since I don't allow her children to play here due to their cursing, hitting, and fighting, it isn't favorable.

(NOTE: It is very important that as many people realize what a no-no leaving your purse in your grocery cart actually is.....many thieves wait until you are reading labels or are turned into the back of your car unloading groceries to make a grab for it! I've seen it happen with my own two eyes, and I actually pulled it off myself as the buggy bandit!)

May 28, 2009

Could You Use an Inventor Mentor?


Now I know I've mentioned in the past that I don't like to share forum sites for inventors to cut down on the clutter, chaos, and bickering that inevitably occurs on them, but here is a new forum/library where an online acquaintance of mine, Tania Reynaert, is bringing together serious, new independent inventors who can always certainly use a little guidance from those who've already been there with a proven track record. Tania is also currently going through the process and is expecting to see her product on store-shelves soon, with a lot of hard work, determination, and with mentor guidance.

Just as I wish existed, she did too. She also states the objective of this forum is to serve as an inventor resource, a resource that doesn't currently exist, clutter-, chaos-, or bicker-free that is, in the form of a library. You can search through the information already there, and you can help them grow and become more useful to other inventors simply by asking inventing-related questions.

You ask a question, and a mentor or two will respond. Those questions will remain for browsing by others who will inevitably have the same question another day. It's brand new, so check out "the new place to learn without chat" at The Inventor's Mentors Forum!

I look forward to learning.

Nincompoop Corner - Bed Sizes

So both hubbie and I wound up in the nincompoop corner, but oh well, it made for a great laugh.

I bought some new Thomas the Tank Engine sheets for my 3-year-old's new big boy bed, which is a twin bed. I put them in the washing machine and hubbie promptly pulled them out to make that bed for the anxious toddler who nagged and nagged for his bed to be made while waiting for them to finish the cycle.

He came out and announced they were the wrong size and that I should've purchased the "single" size. I asked, "What's the difference between a single and a twin? I thought they were one and the same. He proceeds to explain to me, "No, single and twin is not the same, and in fact, there is such a thing as a double bed." I respond that I'm aware there is a double bed. We're now walking toward the bedroom so I can assess what is wrong when he announces, "Singles are for 1 person and smaller than a twin, which is for 2 people." I start laughing hysterically asking, in between laughs, "Twins for 2 as in twins?" Oh brother.

When I arrive to the bedroom, I can clearly see how large this sheet set is so I set off to locate the package to see what I've done.......aaaahhhh, in my haste I interpreted "full sheet set including pillow cases, fitted, and top sheet" to mean "all the parts." Now I'm laughing hysterically at myself.

By the way, don't buy character bedding. It is more expensive, obviously, but the quality is about the worst I've ever had the displeasure of lying in. The baby doesn't seem to mind, but the sheets, in all their colorful decor, are still practically transparent, rough, and don't make for that wonderful cool-sheet feeling you may like in the summer. Also, please note that even if it does indicate it is a "full" set, it does NOT include a bed skirt. lol.

May 27, 2009

MT Independent Contractors

So, as an independent contractor (IC) you have a couple of options. You can decide to either work directly with the providers for whom you transcribe as an independent contractor as direct clients or you can choose to work for a transcription service in the capacity of a subcontractor (SC). Either way, YOU are your OWN business.

As an IC it is not your client's responsibility to ensure you bill them on time or that they ever even receive your invoice, and as an SC it is not the responsibility of the transcription service owner to contact you looking for same.

In either position it is also up to you to determine if you are invoicing your client, be it a provider or a service, appropriately. This means that it is not up to them to contact you and tell you that you shortchanged yourself on your invoice by omitting a job or a typo in your line count numbers that shorts you a couple hundred lines.

You should also have a basic understanding of what an invoice number is and apply it to your own invoicing system. When you contact the person in charge of seeing to it that you are paid, it is much easier for them to locate the invoice in question this way. Invoice numbers can look like this: 3100-09, 3101-09, 3102-09. The -09 referring to the year. The first half of the invoice number being a customer number assigned by you that compounds by 1 with each invoice created. The client assigns you a vendor number in their system that records your invoice numbers and amounts accordingly in chronological order. The first invoice next year, if 3102-09 had been the last in 2009, would be 3103-10. Now when you call this person, you can reference an easy-to-note reference number instead of saying or typing, "My invoice for period May 1, 2009 through May 15, 2009." or "05/01/09-05/15/09," or worse yet, "the one for $635.00." It also makes for easy entering into their payment system, whatever that system may be.

For those needing clarification, if you are a subcontractor, the transcription service for which you provide services is your client.

May 26, 2009

Random Thoughts About Feet

Why is it that you wouldn't dream of putting on the same pair of socks 2 days in a row and yet you think nothing of putting your feet into the same pair of shoes day after day after day?

I've been putting my feet into the same set of sneakers for over 1000 days now.

Summer Crazies....


This is how I refer to it. Even though school is still in, when the weather warms, my home becomes the child magnet. It seems much more difficult with a 3-1/2-year-old however I have to say. He wants so badly to play with all the bigger kids and to keep up.

Back when my first two, now 9 and 11, were this young, my home was completely child proofed. Not so any longer. It is to a certain degree--to keep him out of harm's way--but I guess catching his antics and behind-the-scenes sneakiness is much more difficult with everyone running in different directions.

Lately, he's been giving me a real run for my money, so much so, I haven't blogged in a while. It's been compounded by the end-of-the-school-year madness such as helper breakfasts, VIP lunches, field trips, softball season, etc.

Last week, my youngster walked around the corner with a freshly cut strawberry in his hand proudly holding it up with one hand while holding out the empty hand and wiggling the fingers announcing, "See mom, I didn't cut my fingers off!"

I have to admit he did a really great job at it, but once discovering his hands were in fact still intact to find the large serated bread knife left next to that stawberry top, I set off trying to locate a new container in which to put the sharp knives atop the fridge like the old days. One of the drawbacks of having much older siblings to watch and to learn from and to having a 3-year-old the size of a 6-year-old. He can reach everything.

This week he has become more determined than ever to go potty all by himself. He comes out and announces that he has done so. I want to encourage him to continue, but.....he won't cave on calling for backup to wipe after a poopie. @@

He has cleaned all of his dresser drawers out 3 times in the last 10 days or so in order to locate a hoodie sweatshirt and jeans or sweats to wear. He has suddenly developed a true love of these clothing items, regardless of how hot it is now outside. I have now hidden the sweatshirts and he has now moved onto long sleeve shirts. Don't know what I'm gonna do with him, other than continue to force him to help me clean it all up.

One day last week, he announced that he pee-peed on the potty and poo-poo'd too just as proud as can be. I asked him who wiped his bum to which he replied, "Nobody." I took him into the bathroom explaining that bums always need to be wiped after a poo-poo because some gets stuck in the crack. I said, "Here lemme show ya. Bend over and touch your toes." He does this and I wipe. I then show him the remnants left behind on the paper to which he dramatically and disgustedly yells, "Aaaaackkkkkk! Don't show me that again, K?!"

Now, this week, after a dresser-emptying episode, that my husband discovers and overreacts about, we hear "Eeeeew! There's poo-poo on the floor!" to which my husband also overreacts about (he shoulda won an Oscar - really). Turns out that in his attempt to put on some new clothes with an unwiped poopie bum, he left a pretty good skidmark on the area rug in his room. Instead of yet again being able to explain it to him as to how he should have called for backup in wiping, he can't hear me as those eyes are watching my near-hysterical husband ranting and raving like a lunatic....."I can't do it Chris. I just cannot clean up any more poop. You're gonna have to do this!" (We've both been driven to the brink by our dog's bodily fluids from either end, but that story another time. We're wondering if she isn't the next Marley).

The other day, as I'm working on the couch with my laptop, he comes around the corner and announces "Don't see me mom and cover your ears." (This is how he announces that he is about to do something he knows he doesn't want us to see.) So I oblige him, purely for the memory of it. He walks away out of sight but pops his head back into the room and asks, "Can you hear me?" I don't answer him and keep looking at the computer with my ears covered. Next I hear a sliding chair across the tile floor and a loud noise with it. He comes running back around the corner and asks again if I can hear him, to which I again do not respond. He does this yet once more. Finally, I don't hear anything, so I stand up and walk into the kitchen to find him standing on the very heavy dining room chair that is now at the other end of the kitchen reaching into the cookie jar for a granola bar. "Wouldn't it have been easier to ask for one?" I asked him. He answered he wanted to do it by himself.

Being a work-at-home mother means that work tasks you are trying to accomplish with a toddler nearby take quadruple the time it should!

My parenting tips within - find a decorative container/vase in which to keep your sharp knives atop the fridge out of reach of toddlers. Tying a rope around your kitchen table chairs works well for preventing toddlers from climbing but does absolutely nothing when that toddler learns how to untie that rope. I'll never figure out why the phrase terrible two's was ever coined, as the age of 2 never posed any problems for us. It was the age of 3 that kept us on our toes that requires constant reinforcement and lessons to be taught.

May 7, 2009

Handmade Tea-Light Candle Holders



My 3-year-old made this candle holder. All the kids enjoy making these to give away as gifts. They make great gifts for grandparents, aunts, and uncles, etc. Great project idea to offer up to Dad for making mother's day gifts as well.

You'll need a small GLASS jar with an opening large enough to accommodate a tea-light candle. Dijon mustard jars, maraschino cherry jars, and babyfood jars are perfect.

If you've been saving the gift tissue from gifts, you are all set. If not, you can buy some if you need to. The more colors and patterns, the better. My child chose to stick with one pattern, and for his age of 3, I chose to keep the pieces more square for ease. Cut up your chosen tissue papers into irregular shapes, and store extra in a baggie for the next time. Each time makes for a unique gift. Multiple colors gives a special stained glass effect once the candle is inserted and lit.

You will also need glue. I have not investigated flammability of craft glues of any sort, but I know you can use what we do--regular ol' white school glue. You can thin it out a bit with water if you like as well. We don't. To apply the glue, you'll need a child-style paintbrush or foam craft brush. It's probably best to ensure minimal glue gets on the inside portion of your jar.

Paint one side of the jar and apply your tissue paper, and repeat all the way around. Overlapping is great. It's okay to go over the tissue paper with the glue to help flatten out any wrinkles. Imperfection for toddlers is sweet in my opinion.

It's obviously best to keep any tissue paper from overlapping into the mouth of the jar as well due to flammability. If your jar is tall enough, then you really won't need to worry about this due to the height of a tea-light candle. Do NOT use votive candles in your handmade candle holders. You may also embellish your handmade candle holder externally with a variety of items, foam shapes, sticky letters, glitter, etc. To add glitter, paint a layer of glue over the paper and sprinkle it on. Glitter should only be used for children who are able to handle their creation minimally, as the glitter will get on their hands. You don't want glitter to get into a youngster's eyes, so use with caution.

Allow to dry, and you're all set.

Apr 24, 2009

Inventing Lesson #1 Learned

So, after all this time, I was finally able to talk to someone actually experienced in the field of inventing and bringing products to market, and notice I put product*s*, as in plural. You see, each product can require a different approach, each inventor may work better with one approach over another - there isn't only one way to do this is what I have learned over the past 2 years.

Yes, I am still waiting for my provisional patent application, and as of April 7, 2009, it has been 2 years since I embarked upon this journey with my current product. It is the item I had chosen to be my first to take through the invention process and to take to market, as there are others.

I am not comfortable sharing the details of how it is a highly regarded professional could drag this process out to the 2-year mark, or get one up on me as has been shared with me, but I will share that is partly due to blurring the lines between friendship and professionals. Had those lines not been blurred, I would have presented more questions, in an annoying manner even, and pressed harder to get what I am paying for - an actual provisional patent application - at least a year ago.

My advice is to avoid friend referrals. I am not saying to not see the same attorney a relative or friend has dealt with in their endeavors, rather to avoid befriending and working with an attorney who is simply a friend of a friend. I feel it is too easy to blur those lines. Both parties, I dare to predict, can feel the same. I'm sure my attorney has felt she needed to do a little more for me than usual, or rather offer more advice free of charge, than she might others. Yet, I'm just plain ol' inexperienced me, so what do I know about how long this should take?

However, it has been 2 years, and while I may be low on a priority list, it has been too long. I found out today, thanks to the inventor I mention above, Mark Reyland, that it normally takes anywhere from 6 weeks to max 3 months. Needless to say, Monday brings about a whole new me in getting this application in my hands. Thanks Mark!

If you are interested in learning some reliable steps involved in the invention process, visit Mark's blog! Love it!

Apr 20, 2009

Art Projects with Colored O Cereal or Fruit Loops





This project is as easy as pie. Three-year-olds seem to enjoy smashing the colored O's especially. Use either a rolling pin or a large spoon. They also don't mind the sorting so much either. Great for learning to sort by color, color recognition, counting, etc. Use your imagination.

Using some of the recycled applesauce, pudding, or yogurt cups, place the color assortment surrounding the construction paper within easy reach of your toddler. As a side note, my 9-year-old daughter still enjoys getting creative with this project.

Also using some of the aforementioned containers, pour some glue into one and provide your child with tools to drizzle and paint the glue onto the paper. The tools can be anything from a Q-tip to sponge applicators to actual paint brushes. If you feel your child can handle squeezing an actual glue bottle, then let them have at it. Just be forewarned they tend to drizzle in one place.

You are only limited by your imagination. You can place drips of glue throughout, drizzle it on, or paint it on. You can strategically choose your colors and sprinkle them onto your picture or you can randomly sprinkle it on.

You then bend your paper to accumulate the loose crumbs into the center to pour into yet another container for a new wonderful rainbow mix.

Give them a brief demonstration and off they go.

SUPPLIES:

* Colored O Cereal sorted by color, 1/2 to 1 cup of each color.
* Baggies for crushing the cereal within.
* Large cooking spoon or rolling pin for crushing the cereal.
* Glue
* Containers such as empty applesauce, pudding, or yogurt cups to hold the glue and crushed cereal.
* Construction paper.

Apr 13, 2009

An Edible Veggie Floral Bouquet



(Excuse the mess in the background, as I had to assemble and run and then clean up after I returned home. I also didn't cover all skewers with the green onions as I should have and therefore 'painted' them green with my photo editor this time.)(Note: Breadsticks had not yet been inserted.)

This is a smash hit every time I've made one, which has only been twice because it is time consuming and a little challenging when trying to assemble and care for small children at the same time, but it can be done! (Maybe you can, like me, elicit the help of your spouse by putting him in charge of using some wire cutters to snip down the skewers to varying lengths!)

What you will need:

* Basket/container (at least 2" deep)
* Bamboo skewers

* 1 head of cabbage
* 1 bunch of radishes
* 1 yellow bell pepper
* 1 orange bell pepper
* 5 medium carrots
* 3 bunches of green onions
* 2 cups broccoli florets
* 2 cups cauliflower florets
* 1 cucumber, sliced into rounds AFTER you have run fork tines lengthwise to break the skin.
* 1 pint cherry tomatoes
* 1 bunch asparagus spears, blanched, thick enough to withstand insertion of skewers
* 1 box think Italian breadsticks

Optional Extras: 5 stalks celery with tops, 1 small head endive, and 1 bunch chicory.

ADVANCED PREPARATION THAT CAN BE DONE THE NIGHT PRIOR:

Radishes into Roses: Cut off both ends of each radish. Try to do so to where a small circle appears on at least one end. Take the radish and using a paring knife cut from the good circle-side up toward the bottom without going all the way through around the edges. Pace into a bowl of water and store in the fridge overnight. The sides will expand outward giving you a more petal-like appearance.

Leaf-shaped bell peppers: Core the peppers and cut them into vertical leaf-shaped slices, triangular shapes work well. Again place in a bowl of water overnight in the fridge.

Carrots into tulips: Insert knife every approximately every 1/4" on an angle with the bottom of the knife, aka the cutting edge, angled toward the small end of the carrot. Place this slanted cut about halfway through the carrot and stop. Rotate the carrot about 1/3 and place another cut the same way, and then repeat once more for a total of 3 cuts. You can now pull the tulip shape off or use the tip of your knife inserted into your cuts to break it free. (You may need two or three tries to get it just so). Again, place into a bowl of cold water overnight.

Prepping the green onions: Cut off the roots of the green onions just above root, sparing most of the bulb/white portion of the onion. Cut the bulb/white portion off approximately 1 to 1-1/2 inches into the green portion of the onion. Using your knife tip, cut vertical slits from the white portion of the onion outward through the end of the green portion. Place in a bowl of cold water in the fridge overnight. The cold water will curl the fringe. The hollow green onion stalks will be used to cover skewers during assembly, so you will need to place one slit in the center of single end of this green potion and also place into ice water overnight.

Broccoli and cauliflower preparation: Prep the broccoli and cauliflower into floret-sized pieces about an inch in diameter, but varying sizes make for a nicer look. Again, place in a bowl of ice water overnight.

FINAL PREPARATION:

* Prepare the cherry tomatoes by washing prior.

* Prepare the asparagus by cutting off the unusable ends. Place them into a pan of boiling water for approximately 7-10 minutes until a cooked yet still-crisp texture is achieved. Immediately place into ice water (really, water with ice cubes this time).

* Prepare the cucumber by raking fork tines across the length of the cucumber deep enough to get through the skin and then slice the cucumber into rounds.

ASSEMBLY:

Cut your head of cabbage in half. Place into the bottom of your chosen container with the flat side facing upward to accommodate the skewers. Strategically cut the other half into shapes to fill in any voids in the basket.

You can trim the skewers using wire cutters in advance or as needed to achieve a pleasing arrangement. Shorter on the outside edges and longer in the middle.

Cover the skewers with the green onion sheaths and skewer the florets, peppers, cucumber slices, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, and prepped green onions. Insert unsheathed skewers into asparagus spears and breadsticks (although the breadsticks can also just be placed into the arrangement and stand well on their own until the arrangement is thinned by guests).

Arrange your bouquet balancing colors and shapes as necessary. You can serve only veggies in the arrangement or also place extra servings on a serving tray/platter around your basket.

Apr 12, 2009

Easter Goodie Don't



BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID....

Like most full-time working mothers who only get 1 weekend a month kid-free to sneak in secret shopping trips, I made a rush trip at only 1 store to gather my Easter basket supplies. I can't tell you who made these cookies or what brand they were, as I tore off the tags for obvious reasons, and while I could tell you where I bought them, I won't, in case someone doesn't agree with my opinion. They were purchased in an Easter section of a large chain store.

If you see these cookies in the future, run. Don't waste your money. They are egg-shaped, iced sugar cookies. They smelled like vomit, and they tasted like vomit. It took me 2 hours to get the taste out of my mouth, and I only took a nibble. I was grateful I didn't toss any cookies of my own. The kids also only took a bite that they each quickly spat out.

Apr 1, 2009

Kid Crafted Easter Egg Baskets




With the help of an adult that is.

We made these baskets 4 years ago. They've held up pretty well. We store them in paper ream boxes, 1 per box.

While we all treasure them now that they are done......it wasn't exactly an ideal project for kids of 5 and 7....at least until we got past pasting the plaster strips onto the balloons. I would now recommend that the parents of younger children apply the plaster strips alone when the children are in bed, allow to dry, and introduce this project to the kids the following day at the paint and decorate stage.

It was very messy. My daughter was about 5 years old and my son about 7. We had a balloon pop during application of the plaster strips.....plaster flew everywhere, but she also got upset enough to cry. She takes it as a personal insult almost if things don't go just so or as planned (we're always working on this.) My son thought it was hilarious. The kids could not do this stage alone, and even though they are 11 and 9 today, I still wouldn't be too far away.

The up sides are the pride they feel each year they see their basket, the baskets hold a ton of "stuff," and are more accommodating to holding toys and larger chocolate bunnies.



If you're up for to the challenge, then go for it. Here is what you will need with instructions:

*2-3 Pkgs. of Plaster Gauze Strips (like these)

*A balloon of an appropriate size (we chose extra-large from a party supply store) that will resemble an egg shape when inflated.

*Craft paints and decorative accessories of any kind. Get creative!

*A place to hang your balloon for drying purposes. String and hangers, nail/hook in garage, etc.

*A razor blade/wallpaper cutter (similar to this)

*Masking tape to cover the balloon exit hole.

Instructions:

Inflate your balloon to the size you desire. Follow package instructions on plaster gauze strip packaging to prepare the strips appropriately. Place the strips in one direction completely covering the balloon, leaving a small circle at the narrow end allowing the tail of the balloon (where tied) to hang out so you can deflate the balloon and remove it later. Then go back and place more strips in the opposite direction for reinforcement purposes. Smooth out with your hands as necessary to achieve the desired smoothness. Allow to dry according to package instructions or when you feel the plaster has properly cured. (Wait until after the children have decorated their Easter Egg Baskets before popping the balloon. This just allows for more resistance against the weight of their decorating activities. )Remember! Once the children are near complete with embellishing their creations, cover the small opening where the tail of the balloon was hanging out with some scotch tape and have the children paint over this before putting your supplies away.

Once dry, pop the balloon within and remove through the small opening you have left. You can wait until after the following step to remove it, but you will want to pop it first. Now you can cut around the egg in a jagged fashion with the razor blade mimicking a cracked egg pattern. Fill with Easter grass and goodies. Enjoy!

Mar 23, 2009

Bad MT or Good MT?

Doctor dictates: "The patient is asking for a 'scope' patch for an upcoming cruise."

A bad MT hears and types "scope".

A good MT hears the same thing but stops to think......is there a drug on the market containing the word scope for motion sickness/seasickness? Even if the MT has never heard of the generic drug name scopolamine, let alone a brand name such as Transderp Scop, he or she will set off on a search to find out. A good MT will start by searching motion sickness, sea sickness, and the drugs used for same, and hopefully come upon at least a generic drug name. A good MT can take it from there and venture into brand name searches. An excellent MT, one who goes over and above if the account has no restrictions on special character placement, despite it not being necessary to include the "line over the o" symbol, would add it and have s shortcut assigned to do so.

Mar 21, 2009

Reusable Household Containers for Kids Crafts


You will encounter many different containers ranging from single-serve applesauce cups to yogurt containers that can serve as craft accessory dispensers/holders.

Here I have pictured Italian ice cups that we use to hold tempera paint. Easily washable and reusable and amount to less paint waste. Also easily rinsed and recycled via the recycle bin if you so desire.



I have never once in the 11 years I've been a mother who has also worked in a preschool seen a kid haphazardly throw paint onto paper when supplied with a brush for each color of paint. Sure, a few times they've mixed their colors via the paintbrush just bumping into other colors, but the amount of paint needed for them to produce a piece of art is really very minimal; not at all the amount you pour into the standard kids' art paint cups with caps and covers. It doesn't hurt to toss out the mixed paint should it occur either.


Paint cups such as these are expensive and difficult to clean. The covers don't necessarily mean paint stores well for long periods of time either.

Single-serve applesauce cups are great with low sides for putting plain old glue into the bottom. Supply a paint brush for the toddlers and they have an easy and fuss-free way of applying glue to an art project. Nothing frustrates them more than handing them a glue stick and expecting it to stick a noodle onto a piece of paper - you need more substance for certain projects. Most toddlers have a difficult and messy time of trying to squeeze a glue bottle as well.

Before tossing out any container - give a quick thought as to what you MAY be able to use it for. Maybe it won't work out as you had planned, but chances are it will!

Mar 17, 2009

What is this on our leprechaun? A mole?



So we bought a headband while grocery shopping last night. Daughter looks at me and says, "I'm a bit confused about something mom." I ask her about what. She shows me this leprochaun, which I really looked at for the first time at this point. I told her I'm a bit confused about that too. I really don't know what this is. Anybody?

Mar 2, 2009

Driving I-75 South is NOT Family Friendly...

I'm going to post the pics I started taking somewhere about an hour into Florida. These signs had been freckled throughout the countryside for states at that point. They weren't all for one single club as the pics I did happen to take indicate. They were spaced out about every 3-4 miles. Each picture shown here is a new picture of a new sign.....Do you have children who can read? Do you have children learning their homonyms/the difference between bear and bare? Need I say more?

Seems to me there could be some sort of grading system.....why not one indicating how much is revealed, whether couples are welcome, etc.? What about the kids?



















Feb 23, 2009

Kid Activities with Colored Pasta

This batch of noodles has lasted us around 8 years. We reintroduce the buckets of colored pasta here and there, and each time it receives a warm reception. You can utilize the colored pasta for a variety of activities. There is a wide variety of pasta shapes.

It is excellent at developing their shape and color recognition skills by having them help sort the shapes or colors into separate containers. Be forewarned, however, that you will not want to attempt to engage them in a large sorting project. This sort of activity will hold a toddler's attention for around 15 minutes before they start experimenting with what happens when they pretend to be say a construction machine dropping them from high distances, etc. You will want to introduce a small number of each shape or color for this type of activity.

It is excellent for developing hand-eye coordination via threading applicable shapes onto boot laces. Boot laces work best due to the little plastic tapered ends, their stiffness, and their length.

The nonthreadable shapes are great for miscellaneous art projects, i.e. making pasta art on construction paper with glue.

Buy the largest container you can find of rubbing alcohol so that you can expedite the die process in large batches. You can store them in inexpensive store-brand food containers or in the recycled household containers I shared here.

Ingredients: Rubbing alcohol, food coloring, dried pasta, newspaper/paper towels, and wax paper.

Instructions: Pour the rubbing alcohol into a deep and narrow bowl/container. Add food coloring until a deep hue has been achieved. The longer you allow the pasta to soak, the more color it will absorb for vibrancy. Remove the colored pasta with a slotted spoon and place onto the newspaper/paper towel that is placed atop the wax paper forming a water-proof barrier. Allow to dry overnight or outdoors in the sunlight.

Children of any age past 2 will be able to utilize the pasta in varying age-appropriate ways, but you will want to be sure that the children do not try to eat the pretty pasta. I tasted it myself because I always want to know what the likelihood is that they might eat it.....put it this way, unless you have a child who is seemingly taste-bud devoid, then you should be okay. It tasted horrible.

You will encounter broken pasta shards as people step on them during necklace-making sessions spread out on the floor, so be careful. The shards can sometimes be very sharp. Nobody has yet been cut during the breakage moment itself at our house or after, but I can see that occurring afterward easily. Cleanup is still very easy even on the carpet with hand raking. If you experience excess breakage for some reason, be sure to vacuum thoroughly just in case.

My three-year-old spent an entire hour threading necklaces last night and was pleased as punch at having him and I rotating turns at wearing them. Today he had a great time gluing the shapes onto paper for yet another hour.

Enjoy!

Feb 16, 2009

Room Art - Do It Yourself


Kids Room art is becoming more and more readily available these days, but don't despair if you aren't able to find something that fits just so for you.

Here are some pics of the art I created myself for my then 4-year-old's room. She chose butterflies, which were scarce 5 years ago, so we went out and about in search of ideas.


I bought a brown-wrought-iron-rustic-looking butterfly and dragonfly and spray painted them myself using multiple colors to match the colors in her room and to stand out nicely on the wall.



I also found some stand-alone bug art that I hot-glued onto some canvas pictures I painted myself to match the theme. I used acrylic paint (will probably choose another medium next time for more depth, as the depth it had during the painting process flattened out upon drying. I thought it would dry raised where extra paint was added, but it did not).

I also bought some baking-molding clay and shaped the yellow circles, baked them, and painted them to match the swirls on the floral curtain tiebacks and the center of the large flower on the large picture.

I lost my gumption at some point because the plan was to use a freehand text to tie the pictures together with one-line sentences to create a story. Instead I left the scalloped borders with the applied circles and figured it matched the scalloped wallpaper border enough.

I also found some pink gingham ribbon that matched the comfortor and the curtains and stapled them to the back of the canvas frames.

It has lasted us 5 years and now she is ready for a new more mature room. I'm grateful, with the speed in which these kids outgrow their bedroom themes that I got away with this one for a mere $65 and that the theme has lasted her this long! Retail paintings of this size would easily cost you $200+ otherwise.

You can buy canvas frames on sale by searching the craft store sites and their flyers for discount coupons. We already had the acrylic paint on hand for some of our art projects.

Feb 13, 2009

Are Sippy Cups Evil?

I've decided to blog about some inaccurate information I encounter floating around on the net. It mostly bothers me because I've been witness to misinformation being spread for eons as a result of belonging to many parenting groups on varying topics. One person says it with some sort of authority and it gets repeated and repeated and repeated as fact, black and white, no gray areas, either/or.

The most important point I'm trying to make is that it takes some common sense to differentiate between what is a fact and what isn't and the ability to recognize that so-called "rules" and "guidelines" are usually geared, in most cases, to combat the worst-case scenario, i.e. the person with the least common sense. Also, frequently, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason in the way of an explanation of "what went wrong." Often, firsttime parents are merely wanting to do absolutely everything just right and are the most guilty of parroting the learned "facts" and judging others for not following suit. I think we are all a little guilty of this in one respect or another on a wide variety of parenting topics in the beginning or simply when we learn we are supposed to be doing this in order to feel like we are doing it right.

So, let's start with those who believe sippy cups are evil, that they will ruin your child's teeth either via decay or by causing alignment problems.

The answer is, NO, a sippy cup itself will not cause alignment problems OR cavities. It is the misuse and abuse of these items that can. For every person who likes to lay blame of their child's braces or cavities on a sippy cup, there is another whose child has perfect teeth and no cavities. Why? Because genetics plays the biggest role in what type of teeth your children will be blessed with. Environmental factors can also contribute. All external forces working on them through the years can either exacerbate a condition one is prone to or bring a condition about full force.

Sadly, there are many people in this world who become parents that have no remotely educated knowledge base or have a lack of common sense regarding such issues. As a result, rules are instituted to save the children of these people. Some people will search for the answers to topics and yet interpret the text they encounter in the way they WANT it to read.

The authoritative professional organizations clearly indicate that ECC (early childhood caries) or "bottle rot" is caused by PROLONGED contact with liquids or foods other than water whether the mode of delivery is via sippy cup, bottle, **OR** breast. Does it really need to be explained that a combination of prolonged usage of any of these 3 would also contribute? Does it really need to be explained that prolonged usage does NOT mean the length of time your child used any of these 3 overall, i.e. from 12 months to 36 months of age, but rather how much time each day is spent sucking on them?

Many speech therapists also indicate that an open-bite malocclusion (misalignment) AND speech development issues commonly DO occur as a result of, again, you guessed it, PROLONGED sippy cup usage. They, too, point out that this means walking around with and consuming from a sippy cup all day long and/or all night long (and add to that allowing your child to suck on a pacifier all day long for a prolonged duration) and, yes, an open bite can happen, but we can discuss pacifiers specifically another day, which are also not evil.

The point here is that, no, sippy cups are not evil, nor will they be the root cause for everything and anything that goes wrong with your child's teeth if used appropriately.

What you need to do is evaluate your parenting style and remember that with everything else in parenting, moderation is key.

Fruit juice can be okay as well - look up the guidelines on the recommended amounts per age that are available. Some children don't take in an adequate amount of water and require a diluted-with-water juice on occasion, whether it be during an illness or on a short-term daily basis. Get creative with the ways to eliminate unnecessary juices completely - change the dilution factor to where eventually the child is drinking only water. My pediatrician shared that daily orange juice each morning is completely fine and the best juice for them out of all the rest.

In fact, although I find no studies have been quoted, some professionals have indicated that sippy cups are better than bottles for use by children in daycare due to the level of exposure to bacteria each offers to a child regarding the development of ear infections.

Take preventative steps early on when introducing the sippy cup to ensure no bad habits are formed. Your child shouldn't be allowed to walk around the house with a constantly full sippy cup. Let them get thirsty and request a drink so that they drink as much as they need to quickly to quench their thirst. If they want to take it to another room while drinking it, give them about 10-15 minutes, then go behind them, scoop it up and put it out of reach on the kitchen counter. This means, however, that you will receive requests for water multiple times a day and even at night, and that you will need to get off your rear to accommodate them.

Don't hand off a sippy-cupful of chocolate milk, juice, or pop/soda (I'm not even going to ask why on earth you may be giving your toddler pop/soda) just so you can get through a conversation to keep them quiet. If you feel it is a rare treat to offer special sugary drinks, even naturally occurring sugars, then offer it up at the table at mealtime with the meal only.

Combating the dependence upon a sippy cup starts the very first time you substitute the breast or a bottle with that sippy cup. Don't allow the children to use it for comfort. Establish immediately that the sippy cup is a very temporary solution to a problem - thirst.

An active day to prevent dehydration outdoors is the only circumstance I can think of where a child should have a sippy-cupful of even water handy at all times.

If you have been successful in not nurturing the development of any dependence or bad habits in relation to the sippy cup, it is even okay to let your toddler have a sippy-cupful of water next to his/her bedside to grab during the night. You know why? Because they will take their drink and set it back down.

While sippy cups with straws are in fact more beneficial for the proper development of muscles used in speech, the use of them specifically will not guarantee your child will have no speech issues. Straw cups are harder to clean, especially if you find one under the back seat of your car a month later. Again, however, prolonged use of the straw sippy can also contribute to cavities, as will constant exposure to liquids via a regular open cup. The issue regarding cavities is the frequency and duration of exposure to bathing the teeth in these sugary or acidic substances and how the various substances trigger the various biological mechanisms within the body that contribute to or combat decay as well.