Tuesday, December 26, 2006

January is National "Get Organized Month"

And I am not getting organized. Yes, you heard it here, no more moaning from me that my house is a mess. My friend Karen sent me this great article from the New York Times. Below are my favorite points:

It was the overall scumminess of Alexander Fleming’s laboratory that led to his
discovery of penicillin, from a moldy bloom in a petri dish he had forgotten on
his desk.

“My wife has threatened divorce over all the piles,” continued Dr. Pollack, who has an office at home, too. “If we had kids the health department would have to be alerted. But what can I do?”

Mr. Freedman is co-author, with Eric Abrahamson, of “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder,” out in two weeks from Little, Brown & Company. The book is a meandering, engaging tour of beneficial mess and the systems and individuals
reaping those benefits, like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose mess-for-success tips include never making a daily schedule.

Mess is robust and adaptable, like Mr. Schwarzenegger’s open calendar, as opposed to brittle, like a parent’s rigid schedule that doesn’t allow for a small child’s wool-gathering or balkiness. Mess is complete, in that it embraces all sorts of random elements. Mess tells a story: you can learn a lot about people from their detritus, whereas neat — well, neat is a closed book. Neat has no narrative and no personality (as any cover of Real Simple magazine will demonstrate). Mess is also natural, as Mr. Freedman and Mr. Abrahamson point out, and a real time-saver. “It takes extra effort to neaten up a system,” they write. “Things don’t generally neaten themselves.”

“When I think about this urge to organize, it reminds me of how it was when Americans began to take more and more control of their weight: they got fatter,” said Marian Salzman, chief marketing officer of J. Walter Thompson and co-author,
with Ira Matathia, of “Next Now: Trends for the Future,” which is about to be
published by Palgrave Macmillan. “I never gained weight until I went on a diet,”
she said, adding that she has a room in which she hides a treadmill and, now,
two bags of organizing supplies.

His studies and others, like a survey conducted last year by Ajilon Professional Staffing, in Saddle Brook, N.J., which linked messy desks to higher salaries (and neat ones to salaries under $35,000), answer Einstein’s oft-quoted remark, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?”

My favorite quote from the article would be the ever popular phrase "violently messy."

With all of this said, I'm going to continue my life the way it is, only I'm going to accept the mess. Wait, I'm not only going to accept it, I'm going to embrace it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gold, Frankincense, and What's that Other One? by Jayne Martin-Dressing

Gold, Frankincense, and what’s that Other One? by Jayne Martin-Dressing

My children are caught up in the Christmas frenzy, and I don’t just mean the bright lights and the never-ending candy, though those have taken their toll. I’m talking about the Christmas story; the birth of the baby Jesus. They love this story. When my daughter was about three a good friend of mine bought her a book of the Nativity story complete with the word “virgin” and full frontal nudity of the baby J. She loved this book, and wanted to read it over and over. I can see why it’s fascinating. You’ve got babies, donkeys, barns, sheep, presents, angels. There’s a lot to love.

At first the liberal mom in me wasn’t sure I wanted to go down this road, I mean we do have the Easter story in a few months which is not so pleasant. But they believe in Santa Claus, the giver of gifts, why not promote this tiny baby who started the whole crazy season anyway? This year, my daughter now 7, my son 3, we checked out quite a few new stories, all with different twists on the classic Bethlehem mystery. They loved The Crippled Lamb (sad, sad title), all about this one little sheep who doesn’t get to go with the others because of his bum leg, but ends of getting the all important job of keeping the baby J warm because the holy family chose his barn in which to give birth. Then there was The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (serious tear jerker, I had to choke out a couple of pages) about a wood-carver who is called gloomy Toomey by the town children. We find out the cause of his gloominess is that he lost his wife and baby years ago to illness, and he has never been the same. His outlook changes when he is asked to carve a Nativity scene for the town widow and her young son. I thought it would be over my 3-year old’s head, but he was mesmerized by the illustrations (the curly lamb is cute), and the repetition of the little boy’s requests to make the figures as he remembers them. We also read The Christmas Rose about a little shepherd girl who follows the shepherds who’ve seen the angels as they watched over their flocks. She gets into the city of Bethlehem only to realize that she has no gift for the baby. Of course, an angel appears and blooms of Christmas roses appear everywhere which she gathers to give as her gift.

My children loved these books, and it’s been really fun to give our Christmas a less secular slant this year. The stories emphasize that this season is more about giving than receiving, more about the simple gift of love, than the pleasure of new things. As I tucked my daughter into bed the other night, I told her the story of The Gift of the Magi by O’Henry. She gasped when she realized that the woman was cutting off her beautiful hair to have enough money to buy her husband a gift. We don’t see much sacrifice in gift-giving these days. As I was turning out the light, she asked me, “What are the Magi?” I explained that the Magi are the three wise men who invented the idea of gift giving with their visit to the baby J in the manger. I asked her if she remembered the three gifts that they gave him. She thought about it for a minute, then said, “Gold, Frankincense, and…Curry.”

Monday, December 18, 2006

Looking for a Job?

One of the many great aspects of the Working Moms Against Guilt blog is the frequency for which it is updated. So with that said, I'm again looking for additional writers. I'm thinking we could divide and conquer like the working mom's do.

So here is the repeat request from last December: (no stuntbec, you haven't been fired, we just need some help)

Qualifications of the job:

  • Be willing to work for free (we will split the profits if that ever happens- click on advertising, please!- or order your Amazon stuff through our search box on the site)
  • Be willing to write an occasional article
  • Be able to accept occasional criticism from our readers, or a differing opinion
  • Have the courage to edit any article where a mistake is noted (I seldom catch my own mistakes)
  • Can be a mom in the "working outside of the home world", a mom that "stays at home" or someone who would just like to add another perspective

Please email me articles or your request for "full time writing status" at Stuntmom@gmail.com Feel free to submit any articles on any topic. If you are a frequent contributor, you will get your own password to publish- just imagine you too could be a stuntmom! Thanks and happy writing!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Working Moms Against Guilt

One of our readers sent in this blog that I think needs more attention than the quick reference in the comment section. Please check it out. Great information and wonderful writing. Thanks for your comments and for sharing, Susan.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Fair Game

I've volunteered to co-chair the PTA Holiday Fair this year, which, besides being a big time eater-upper, has been pretty interesting. How bizaare, or sad, or something, to see the same corporate world people dynamics I left years ago (pre-marriage, pre-children) surface at PTA meetings. Unsettling.

Anyway, I offered to find a new and exciting game to be played at the Holiday Fair. So I've been sifting through website after website, trying to find something to replace the tired Cake Walk. I'm told it was bust last year. And a complaint of last year's Holiday Fair was that there were no good games for the older (5th and 6th graders) kids. There's a Bean Bag Toss lined up, and a Lollipop Toss. Any ideas out there for a more "mature" game?

I found this one online - what do you think?

British Bulldog Caution: This game can get rough.
All the players (except one) line up at one side of the playing area. The remaining player (The Bulldog) stands in the middle. When he is ready, he shouts "Go" and all the other players have to get to the other side without being caught. Any player the The Bulldog can lift off the ground while he shouts "British Bulldog", joins him in the middle as a Bulldog. On subsequent runs, the Bulldogs may work together. The winner is the last one to be caught.

I especially like the warning given. If we do this one, I think we need to ask to use the Cheerleader Bouncy Pads on the gym floor, in case a kid or two gets dropped. But seriously, if you have any game suggestions, I would love to hear them, esp. if they're not JUST about Christmas. It would be nice to include a non-Christian aspect to the mix.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Dream of Grocery Store Deliveries

It's true! Amazon is now offering groceries delivered via mail (or UPS). The best thing about is that if you order $50 or more through November 30th, you get $10 off. The code is GROCERY3 when you check out. Free shipping on orders over $25 dollars, which is easy to do if you add a case of diapers to your order. Sorry, no perishables, but plenty of natural foods. Happy Grocery Shopping- leave the kids at home, better yet, don't leave your home!

(Feel free to use the Amazon search box in our advertising section- just type "grocery"- every little bit helps, thanks!)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Green Tea (Matcha) Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar plus
1 teaspoon of Turbinado sugar for dusting the tops
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered green tea (matcha)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, matcha, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal).
In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife dipped into flour to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm Still Around!

Hello! Now that I have a child in kindergarten, I get so much more done here at home. Can you believe my luck? So many people have said, "why, now that Bea's in school, I bet you're finally able to tackle some of those bigger projects." Really, a lot of people say this to me.

The truth? Life has become, sadly for me, much busier than it used to be. Kindergarten makes us so busy. My schedules (see January of last year) of hikes on Tuesday, baking bread on Wednesday, seem almost silly now. My day feels so schedule-ish now; I want the carefree days back! Where is the balance? I'm looking for it...here's what we have to work with:

Every day, Bea is up by 7. She gets dressed (clothes are picked out the night before), washes her face, etc., has breakfast, and then, off to school we go. We're out the door by 8, for a nice 15 minute walk to school. If I'm lucky, I can leave the boys at home with my husband, while I enjoy a peaceful walk. Once I get home, I get the boys dressed, and try to cram in all of my household chores, cooking, and grocery shopping before 2:30, when it's time to pick up Bea from school.

It doesn't end at 2:30. On Mondays, we come straight home. Tuesdays, she has her art class. This is very important to her - she looks forward to it every week. It's an hour and a half long, from 3:30 - 5 PM. She had Spanish after school every Wednesday, but we finally decided to end it, a month early, due to her falling asleep every week in class. Thursdays we watch another little girl, after school, until about 5:15. And by this time, Thursday afternoon, I'm beat.

I teach every Monday afternoon, and Tuesday evening, and everything about those days are chaotic. It doesn't matter how prepared I try to be. They are just crazy. I don't see how "two parents working outside the home" families survive.

How can we make our lives less crazy? Dare I say it? Less scheduling, I'm afraid.

And now, to add to the mix, I've volunteered to co-chair the Parent/Teachers Assoc. Holiday Fair at the elecmentary school. It's coming up, December 7th. Just a few weeks to pull it all together. Now, when I put on decent clothes in the evening, the kids don't ask if I'm going to go teach, they ask me if I'm going to a PTA meeting.

Hope all is well with everyone. And don't read this as me whining, because I'm not. I love what Bea's learning in school, and I can't tell you how cool it is to meet so many new (to me) parents. Life is good - I'm just searching for a good balance! And now, it's time to go get Bea from school! Hurray!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Little Democrats

Following the positive outcome of the election this week, I found this book to help you celebrate with your children.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Have you ever been around the person that spends WAY too much time talking about things you find amazingly trivial? I remember in college my Mom would talk endlessly about the dog they got when they only had one kid left living at home. She would go on and on about what the dog did that day, all the while I was ringing up a hefty phone bill making my weekly obligatory phone call home. Another example is my Mother-in-law's play by play reenactment of the conversation she had with the ticket counter person at the airport. Her vacation stories are always highlighted with a good adventure getting bumped, or having a rude person not find an isle seat on the crowded jet for her as a last minute request.

So I think I have the story that my kids will be able to tell as their example of their mom focusing on the unimportant things in life. But here it goes anyway, and I apologize for those that have heard the story, but believe me, you most likely will hear it again and again until I find the ablitily to let it go.

My parents came to visit three weeks ago. Whenever they come, it's usually for a few days but this time, they were here for four nights. This is a good thing since they really are wonderful guests (in my eyes). In the past my dad has been so outraged that we don't have a paper ready for him to read in the mornings so I thought ahead and ordered the paper for their visit. I quit the Cincinnati Enquirer after Bush Jr. was elected since I blamed our conservative paper for endorsing him in a state that was so crucial in the election. (sorry, you can still blame Ohio for the State of the Union) Anyway, I went ahead and set up the Cincinnati Enquirer for home delivery. I thought, hey, I'll keep it until the election is over- it will do me some good. So the day my parents go to leave, the paper isn't on the doorsteps, or anywhere in the yard. Three of us went out to check. Of course my Dad suddenly thinks I stopped the paper a day early, did they outwear their welcome?

It was a fluke, the paper continued for the next few weeks, and let me tell you, I became HOOKED! I can't believe I've gone so long without it. I love knowing what is going on in the world, the nation, and the city. I was finally able to answer all of the questions on the NPR news radio show "Wait, wait, don't tell me". I was so proud that I was having thoughts of getting on the show so I could have the grand prize of Carl Kasell's voice on my home answering machine.

Sadly, my love affair of the paper has come to a halt. I had to cancel the paper today. And here is where the story starts to drag and drag, but I must continue to tell it...

So I started to get up earlier and earlier to read the paper cover to cover. I started getting up so early that the kids were still sleeping and I could read it uninterrupted. But this Sunday, it didn't come at 6:00, 6:30 the baby woke up and I took her out with me to hunt down the paper that was maybe hidden in the bushes. 7:00, still no paper. 7:30....Now all the kids are awake, no paper, and I'm on the phone with customer service with the Enquirer (I'm on hold for 7 minutes) Finally when I get someone, she assures me that she can have a paper on my steps within an hour and a half. With this trouble, she will also give me two free weeks of the paper. So I hang up happy. 8:30 and I also have my paper. 9:00, I have another copy of it- not sure what is going on now.

Monday morning comes and now I have three papers on my from lawn each about a foot apart from the next. I, of course, do not think that it is funny or a good use of paper. I get the point from the delivery person: DO NOT MESS WITH HIM. So I flip out. THAT IS IT, I no longer will deal with this obsession of mine. I'm breaking up with the paper. Again I call customer service. I'm on hold for 15 minutes and when the woman answers (not as kind as the Sunday lady) not only can she give me another free week, but she can have a manager call me back in a few days. A FEW DAYS? In my head the delivery person has suddenly become a crazed paper delivery person that knows where I live (obviously) and knows how guilty I feel over all of the trees I am killing by not reading it on line. I am certain this is the only true reason why he would leave all three of the papers on my lawn.

So without a better ending all I can say is, I guess another two years will have to go by before I'm inspired to read the Cincinnati Enquirer again since I fear the delivery people more than I fear bad politics.

Monday, November 06, 2006


It's finally here, the day we all get to head down to the polls to cast our votes in hopes of changing the way things are going (or I guess there are probably a select few that are hoping to keep things the way they are, so maybe the complacent thinkers will just opt to stay at home?)

In the past, we have always taken the kids to the polls with us since we thought it would be good to have them witness voters, and the act of voting at an early age. This year things are going to be a little different. I'm getting up early and I going it alone. Hopefully there will be other voters there to, but I'm hoping to leave the kids at home. My fear is that with three kids, I won't be able to concentrate on some of the tougher issues, like our anti smoking - Vote No on 4, and Yes on 5. Any other way, and one ends up supporting smoking in public establishments, by canceling the other out. I'm also a little fearful that I'll end up voting Yes on issue 3. VOTE NO ON 3. This is the lovely measure to get a few casinos into Ohio. If the casinos get their way, which most likely they will, since they gave so much money to the democratic and republican parties, then we will have legalized gambling in Ohio. Sure it starts with slot machines at racetracks, but it ends up making it easy to get additional casinos in the state. No, I'm not against gambling, not at all. I'm just against the way the casinos went about making them about giving money to the poor by scholarships to our fine universities. Our sweet new casinos will be working to get the top 5% of students into the state schools. Sound like it's a free trip to the Universities for the underprivileged? Just take a look at all of the broken promises the Casinos have generated up in Maine. A good example of loopholes in the donations from gambling profits.

Okay, I'll get off my high horse now, and will spare you of all of my other political ranting. Just make it out to vote- you have no excuse.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Poison Control

I love ending the night of pumpkin carving on the phone with poison control. They really are such nice folks and so calming. So why do I spend so much time on the phone with these kind people working the hotline? Her name is Audrey, and she's two and a half.

Who would have thought a child would want to eat the cake of Cascade that has been stuck in our dishwasher for the last few days? I guess the people at Poison control would suspect as much, since they said it is very common. The good news is that it burns your lips so you can't eat much of it, and it doesn't kill a two year old either, another good thing. The box of Cascade had me thinking it was another trip to the emergency room for little Audrey, but not this time. All it took was a glass of milk, water on her lips, and off the bed on her tummy (in the event that she vomits, she won't choke)

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Still Looking for that Perfect Cup of Espresso?

Check out this website www.singleserveespresso.com. It's a great way to figure out how to have a great cup of espresso, without dragging all of the kids into your local coffee shop. All of the research is done for you. Of course, you could be like my husband and I- we have tried about 10 different coffee makers before we settled on our favorite.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is Three Really More Work Than Two?

I have been asked this question since I had my second child. People always want to know if someone with more than one child finds life unmanageable. I often wonder if they are really trying to ask, "so, do you regret your family planning choices"? Is three that much more work than two? Is two really more than double the work of just one? I have always responded with, "no, not at all". But I'm starting to wonder. The reason I'm wondering- my two year old... I find I'm having such a hard time working with her. I can't get her to listen to a word I say, much less agree to something I suggest- let alone something I threaten her with. I know, for those that know me, you are thinking this is easy, "you need to have more authority in your voice when you speak to her." Or maybe you are thinking, "if only you had more follow through, Jennifer." Or as my mother-in-law pointed out before I had children, "Your dogs are so poorly behaved, I imagine your children will be too". Well, the last suggestion is not the case, since I have one child that is what someone would call well behaved (or at least to my standards). So what is it about my second child?

Tonight I spent the evening with Audrey (#2) alone. We had a great time. She listened to what I had to say, wasn't set on destroying the house and went to bed without an issue. All around, she was as well behaved as my first. This isn't the first time I've noticed this. In fact I have seen this before and it's always when she is the "only child" that I'm watching.

If life is as simple as I think it is, what we can take away from this is that she really needs more one on one time. This isn't the same as focusing on her when her sisters are around, because that doesn't have the same results. When she is surrounded by her siblings, she is constantly trying to stand out. I will sit down and play a game with her when her older sister is busy doing needlepoint, and in a matter of minutes, she is up from the game tormenting the two others that are quietly minding their own business (or sleeping). So with that said, I'm going to make an effort, at least once a week, making Audrey and Daddy time, or Mommy and Audrey time a priority. Hopefully if she gets the true alone time with her parents that she seems to be craving, then maybe it won't always seem like having three is so much more work than one or two.

As my friend Bill used to always say, "no, having two kids isn't more work than one" and then he'd add under his breath, "misery loves company".

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My House is Clean

No, I'm really just kidding, but it's getting there. I have neglected my friends and other social gatherings all week for the sake of a clean house. Did I clean it because I love to have a clean house? No. In fact, it has been mentally painful. I scrubbed the bathroom floors with this chemical cleaner called "Zap" that my mother-in-law swears by. It is currently not carried in any stores because it is so good, or it has been determined too dangerous. I think it is most likely the most toxic thing in our house, but it did wonders on this old bathroom tile. Now when my parents come to visit I don't have to explain, like the last time, that I did mop the bathroom floors, they just don't come clean. So every night after the kids are in bed, I put on the rubber gloves and I get to work.

On night three of cleaning I remembered a recent conversation I had with my friend Andrea, and I started to think she might be right. (Yes, the NYT article might have played a part too) But anyway, I told her, about a year ago, that my husband suggested we hire a cleaning person and I said, "NO WAY". I had visions of when I was a nanny and the kids were not capable of doing anything for themselves. They had a cleaning service, a Nanny (and a stay at home Mom), a person that cleaned their fish tank, a dog trainer that came to their house, a weekly lawn service, a pool cleaner and a home decorator. The kids did nothing for themselves, not even flush the toilet. So when Michael suggested a cleaning lady, I was shocked. Sure, I don't clean, but I'm capable of doing it- right? So as I cleaned all week after the kids went to bed, I started thinking of what Andrea said, "If my husband said we could get a cleaning service, I'd do it in a second. It's just more time to spend with your kids. Watching your kids IS a full time job".

So maybe there's something to be said about the benefits of cleaning professionals. I could still teach my kids the value of picking up after themselves in preparation of the cleaning crew. Because really, at age 4 and 2 and 5 months, I really can't expect them to move the vacuum and scrub tubs, but I certainly can expect them to put their toys away. It's a fun thought, but I know in the reality of it all- I will continue to clean my own house and pay for the things like having our gutters cleaned and trees trimmed off of our house. Sure I could do those things too, since it pains me to have to hire someone, but I really can't do it all and spend quality time with my children while they are young.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Married and Single Parents Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds

Here's an interesting article from today's NY Times. It says what I've been saying all along from being a working mom, to staying home- housework it what suffers in the end. Thanks for sending it along, Scott.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Stuntmoms from Around The World (or from at least around the US.)

I'm always impressed (or maybe pleasantly surprised) how many people stumble upon the Stuntmom blog. My husband setup a website statistics program in May of this year that lets me get anonymous data from our readers. If you chart where users have come from on a map over the past 4 months, something very surprising happens...

...all kinds of people from all over the US have been visiting the site. (It looks like we're still a while away from being an international success.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Look Back

I sat down at the computer a hour ago to write an article that I promised to write a few weeks ago. I couldn't do it. I just couldn't come up with enough to make it a substantial article (not that it has ever stopped me in the past), so instead I spent the hour looking through old Stuntmom articles and realizing how much has changed in the year, or more accurate, how little has changed. So where am I today?

1. I don't use cloth diapers currently. Things are out of control with disorder around here, so I'm filling up landfills one diaper at a time. I do plan to go back to cloth, but it's going to be a few more months.

2. Diaper wipes- no, I don't make those either. Yes, I still like them better than conventional wipes, but I just haven't been able to cut through a roll of towels lately.

3. I do not go to the store with a meal plan. I just came back from Trader Joe's today, and still had no idea what to make for dinner. Nor did I really plan to go to T.J's, I was just looking for something to do since my husband is out of town tonight. Although I will say, I have an over achieving friend who went so far as to create a laminated calendar with all of the meals she makes, attaches to the calendar by velcro. Hmmm, can I make myself feel better and take some credit for the meal plan idea?

4. I do not wear make-up or even look nice when I leave the house. I actually wore a shirt with spit up on it, knowing in advance that it was dirty.

5. We still do not eat fast food.

6. We will not be signing up for Ballet or Gymnastics again this year. 5 weeks into our busy schedule and I'm looking for an out. I miss the days of not having a plan, when we would take walks in the woods or head to a playground just for something to do.

7. Since the move, my kids now watch too much television. I am shocked by how often I opt not to listen to my fussy kids, and I allow them to watch another Clifford the Big Red Dog, or another Dora. I fear for this winter when we are home more. Will I fold, and keep it on as background noise since they will be so used to it being on for hours, why not just leave it on? I think I need to challenge myself to another t.v. free week, just to kick the horrid habit. Or as a true addict, just to prove to myself that I can do it. Am I a bad Mom?

8. I don't have an anti-Bush bumper sticker on my new car, but I'm in the market for something smart, so please send me some good links.

9. The kids are going to bed without fussing. Thanks for the advice.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Goodbye September

Goodbye September by Jayne Martin-Dressing

Another September is slipping by me amid the rush of back to school, teaching, weekend outings and volunteer activities. I tell myself every fall that this is the season during which I want to slow down. All these beautiful things are happening in nature, and it is finally not too hot, and the windows can be opened and you wake with a coolness in the room. The days are growing shorter and there will soon be less time to enjoy the remaining color of the flowers and pick the last few tomatoes. But inevitably once again I find myself with too many responsibilities, too many places to be, and not enough time to take walks, gather seeds for next year’s garden, smell the smells of fall and slow down long enough to watch the beauty of the changing season.

We have swiftly and not without tears, (almost daily) returned to the routine of school which equals early mornings getting dressed in the dark, rushed breakfasts (not without constant urging to rush more), and the painfulness of waiving goodbye and letting go of little hands that grip tightly to my own. There is a moment, just briefly, after pulling away in my car when I feel completely and utterly useless and confused. The years really do fly by, and there go those children off to preschool and first grade and here I am alone in this car. They can’t really be old enough to be doing journal writing and sandpaper letters, can they? Am I already “that mom”; packing lunches everyday, volunteering with the PTO? When did this happen?

But this moment is fleeting, and I realize that I just have a few hours before it’s time to pick them up again. I remember the emails I need to address and the laundry that’s been in the dryer for 3 days, and the grading that’s piling up on my desk. I try to shake off that nagging feeling that maybe for the first time; they don’t “need” me right now. And the sadness is not because they are starting this wonderful journey with learning, but that suddenly it seems like I need them so very much. And I want to go back and do over the six fall seasons since children have been in my life. Maybe it is the beginning of many instances in parenthood when we wish that we could start over. People are always saying things like, “it won’t matter five years from now if your house was clean,” but nobody has any real good advice on how to make it not matter right now. It’s only in retrospect that we realize the things we’ll have a lifetime to get right, and the things, the people and promises we have only a finite number of hours to nurture and hold dear.

And so I hope that I remember in October to make more leaf piles, and care less about putting down grass seed. I hope we find a lot of mud puddles to jump in and cross our fingers that “machine washable” is for real. I hope we’ll gather loads of shiny buckeyes and go for long walks listening to the leaves crunch under our feet. I hope I can wrestle with this restlessness I feel, and try to squeeze the most out of these shorter days.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Why Write?

I've been struggling with this question for months now, with regards to writing articles for StuntMom. Why would my humdrum existence matter to others? What could others gain from my daily struggles and yes, delights? A true writers block, black cloud, had taken hold of me. I'm still feeling it, but last Monday, the cloud started to pass.

On Monday, I started teaching a college prep reading and writing course. And one of the topics of discussion for this first class was "why write?" So we brainstormed ideas on the board. What we came up with was amazing. We write to make meaning out of experiences. To think more clearly. To persuade. To form new understandings. Writing about some of my day to day business does help me think more clearly. It's not just a frivolous waste of time (although let me tell you what I should be doing right now, instead of typing away: stripping windows, folding laundry, cleaning the cat box, etc...).

Last night, after supper, my husband and I sat at the table chatting. If we can get supper on the table by 5:30, then we finish the meal around six, giving us this somewhat peaceful half hour to chat. Teasing me, he praised me for my major work of the day: grocery shopping and making 3 stuffed snakes. He said it was too bad I didn't keep a journal, that would be one of the best, most exciting entries yet. Yup, that's all I did, all day. I spent almost $300 on groceries, half of my budget for the month. I then proceeded to make what I thought would be simple stuffed animals for my sons. It wasn't as quick as I had hoped.

After unpacking my groceries and putting everything away, it was time to go pick up Bea from kindergarten. And that was pretty much my day. Shocking how the day flies by. Seeing her brothers' snakes, she asked me if I would please please please make her a pink one. So up until dinner time (Daddy made supper last night), I was stuffing a pink snake.

A most unremarkable day. And I must say, writing about it has not given me new meaning or insights, this time around! Oh well.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Sense of Wonder in the Woods

A Sense of Wonder in the Woods, by Karen Marsh.

It all began with an unsigned document describing a labyrinth that had been assembled from natural materials in our neighborhood woods. I picked it up one day at a business on Ludlow Avenue, and a week later, my kids and I went in search of the labyrinth. (For those local to Cincinnati, go to the lake at Burnet Woods, then start up the road that will lead you to both the gazebo and the upper playground area. Just about 25 yards up the hill, there is a trailhead on your right. You'll know it's the right one if you see artistically arranged piles of rocks on either side of two trees that line the path -- I love that -- a clue...) My four-year-old was eager to lead the way. He had been there once already with my husband, who had seen the map lying on our kitchen counter and was actually the first one to take our kids there. So, my four-year-old was able to lead us right to it. The labyrinth begins with an arch of large branches from which point your feet are guided along a path edged by rocks of all sizes and carefully lined up branches. The path is a lovely meandering one and at points along the way, there are sculptures that are made of large rocks assembled in different formations. Many of the sculptures are bedecked with pretty rocks and shells. Some have a theme, like one that is decorated exclusively with conical shells, all of the same size and color. Visitors are encouraged to contribute to the assemblage, and my son seemed to fall naturally into this task with no prompting. I enjoyed watching him select shells that were in a scattered pile on the ground, clean them off, and arrange them with great precision on a sculpture that had consisted exclusively of bare rock up to that point. My kids also enjoyed leaving behind two sticks and a marble that we had found on our journey to the labyrinth, choosing just the right place for each item. The marble was carefully placed in an open shell, giving the appearance of a black pearl, the sticks joined others that line the path. While we were there, we saw a solo man enjoying the labyrinth, followed by a pair of women. The women and I shared our reactions to the place and agreed that it was special. I think that a lot of the best mothering is done when one follows the energy of one's children -- the labyrinth at Burnet Woods seems to give rise to just that type of energy. And let's remember that this is in Cincinnati, too. Running across something like this in the woods of California might be like going to a nice restaurant and being presented with a lovely, artistically presented entree. Running across something like this in Burnet Woods, in the neighorhood of Clifton, in Cincinnati, Ohio is more like walking into a McDonalds, bellying up to the counter and being informed by an elegant, smiling counter person, "Today, we are offering a selection of homemade soups prepared with ingredients from a local organic garden, and accompanied by wholegrain bread that is still warm from the oven."

To whomever is responsible for the labyrinth being in our woods, I'd like to say thanks for the wonderful afternoon experience. We'll be back.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Squeeze the Grocery Budget, Clean Naturally-ish

Here I am, at the end of the month, looking for ways to yet again squeeze the grocery budget. I'm trying to spend at most $600 a month on groceries. Now, with 3 days left in the month, I have 2 gallons of milk left in the fridge, but am running out of staples. To me, the word staples equals budget buster.

Window Cleaner. I'm almost out of it. I know, it's only about $2.50 a bottle, but it all adds up. We use a lot of this product, as we have many French doors and mirrors, at just the perfect fingerprint height. So, rather than buy a new bottle of the stuff (at our grocery store, they don't stock the big refill bottles), I decided to start making my own:

Glass Cleaner
Mix together the following:
1/8 cup vinegar
1/2 cup ammonia
one quart water.
And don't dry your windows and mirrors with paper towels, use crinkled up newspaper.
Add 3 drops blue foodcoloring if you must have the Windex tint.
Just kidding about that last part.

Drain Cleaner
Pour 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar into the drain, cover the drain until the fizzing stops, then flush with boiling water.

As a part of the fall changes in our household, I'm trying to use less and less chemicals. Better for the family, the environment, and less expensive. Motivator for this change: We flea bombed the house about a month ago (I kept picking fleas off the head of my youngest, which totally freaked me out), and after airing out the house, for the next week, our two older kids complained of headaches. This is worrisome to me. So if anyone has any "safer" suggestions for dealing with fleas, please let me know. I've been sweeping salt into the cracks of our wood floors, which is supposed to kill them, but alas, I'm still finding the little critters now and then.

So, anyone have any other recipes, post away!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Bedtime at Our House

Sometimes I think my kids might be smarter than me. The one time of day that I always seem to think this is bedtime. We go through good times and bad at getting the kids to sleep. But most of the time it is painfully bad. Getting the kids in p.j's and reading stories is fairly simple, assuming they have clean p.j's and we can all agree to the number of books to read. Once the books are read, and the lights go out, it is a cry fest. Monsters, thirst, needing the potty, tummy aches, hunger and the list goes on, plague our evenings. I've tried altering the hour that we put them to bed, thinking maybe they aren't tired yet, or they are too tired, but still the drama continues night after night. I'm at wits end. I feel like screaming my head off since I just don't know what to do to get them to bed. To make matters worse, my husband has been working many nights during the week, so often I'm the sole bedtime sergeant.

Things I've tried:

"Go to bed without giving me the business, and we'll walk into town for donuts for breakfast in the morning"

Giving the girls a long bath before stories to ensure they are relaxed and in the mood for bed

"You can each pick out 4 stories tonight if you go straight to bed without crying and fussing"

"Mommy is so tired tonight, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE go straight to bed"

"I will spank you both" (I know, it is child abuse to spank, so the threat is just as bad, right?)

I just don't know what to do.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Craigs List

I love Craigslist.com. I love it a little too much. I'm constantly on the site looking for something free, something cheap, or looking to see what I can get rid of for a little bit of cash. Our first experience of it was getting rid of our dishwasher from our last house. It was working just fine, but we were doing a major kitchen remodel, so we felt it was time to buy a new one that would match everything else. (I know, not an environmentally smart thing to do, but it sure beats having a new house built- right?) So rather than putting the dishwasher out for the trash, we put a free ad on Craigslist.com to have someone pick it up and put it to use. We had our choice of people that quickly responded to the ad. Some wanted photos- which we found annoying since it was free, so we gave it to some young kids that moved here from the west coast (where Craigslist.com is so much more popular) and they picked it up with a grateful attitude one Saturday morning.

So this article isn't really about Craigslist at all, as the title would lead you to believe. It is about my trip up to pick up a Thomas the Tank engine train table that I found on Craigslist. The table was advertised for $40, so being the person that I am, I bargained it down to $35. What a deal. So I was driving the 45 minutes to pick it up, when I realized that I shouldn't show up with two twenty dollar bills, since I talked her down to $35 (really, how could I ask for change at this point?) With the kids sleeping in the car, I thought, hey, I could hit a Starbucks Drive through, get some coffee, and the kids can stay in their car seats. Brilliant! I pulled up and suddenly felt so lazy. Drive thru windows have always annoyed me since I think most people using them really should get some exercise in effort to consume their fast food. I know, here I go off on another tangent of self righteousness. But I'll stop here. Since having kids, I now think every business should have a drive up window for mom's with kids.

Anyway, here I was at the drive thru window of Starbucks and the woman in the Suburban on the cellphone in the vehicle in front of me was sporting not one- but two "JEB '08" bumper stickers. Needless to say, I was so deflated at this point, I wanted to get out of the Starbucks line and leave this conservative land of Cincinnati. I didn't realize (well, yes I did- don't forget where I live) that Bush still had fans, let alone wanted his brother to run our recently destroyed country. Just the thought of another member of the Bush family for 4 more years made me sick to my stomach. I was feeling a little sluggish about getting politically involved for the next election, but now I'm feeling motivated again. So really, I guess I should be thanking the Suburban driving, Starbucks drinking, cell phone talking republican for waking me up.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Coffee Can Cash Stash

We don't do allowances in our family yet. We have an alternative: the coffee can. First of all, a brief history: back when we lived in Portland, our washer and dryer were in the basement. It seemed I was always finding change in the washer or dryer, and a decent pile accumulated on top of the dryer. On a shelf behind my washer was a pyramid of Maxwell House coffee cans, compliments of my dad. The pack rat in me thought they could come in handy some day. (And yes, I moved them up to Rockland with me.) So one day I decided to put the pile of change into a coffee can, and see how much I could collect over time. Then we moved to Rockland, where my laundry is on the first floor. Now the can is more accessible. I then decided to take all of our recycling money (in Maine, we pay a deposit of 5 cents on every can of juice or soda or beer), and add that to the can.

The money added up pretty quickly. What to do with it?? Save for a new couch? No, that would take far too long. Why not make it a toy fund? (When I'm out and about with the kids, I do not buy them toys unless it's been planned in advance. I have taken much advice from the article I posted on StuntMom about kids and materialism, April 2006, completely to heart.) The kids could each take turns picking out a quality toy, youngest to oldest. So after saving over $30, we took the can to a toy store in town, and bought Henry some really nice blocks we'd been eying for quite some time. The older kids couldn't wait for their turns to come. So they decided to start contributing. Every once in a while, Bea's dad pays her a dollar to do some "work" for him, stamping drawings. It goes in the can, without a second thought. Grandma puts a dollar in every card that she sends, so they can "go buy something at the Dollar Store." Well, we don't shop the dollar store for an instant gratification buy-a-toy-that'll-break-in-an-hour just for the sake of spending. My husband and I are really trying to raise our kids to be thoughtful, not compulsive, consumers. So Grandma's dollars go into the can. My parents, knowing about the coffee can stash, send their bottles and cans to us. They really boost our numbers.

The kids enjoy contributing to the can. And they have come to terms with taking turns. The first round we made of spending was rough. When it was Jimmy's turn, Bea wanted to pick out a toy, too. And when it was Bea's turn, Jimmy (3 yrs old) really wanted to pick out a new train. But they worked it out. And now, no matter whose turn it is to pick out a toy, both Bea and Jimmy are excited. This sort of saving is good, in my mind, because it fosters cooperation. The kids are saving not just for themselves, but each other. They are working together. And it teaches them to think long and hard about what they really want, as their turn doesn't come up very often. Joy of joys - Jimmy was lifting the can today...it's starting to get heavy!! Henry's up to bat this time around.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lifestyle Changes

A few days ago, StuntMom asked me if I was finished with StuntMom.com. The question saddened me, but at the same time, it was a pretty legitimate one. I've been mostly quiet all summer, but for good reason. In Maine, at least if you live on the coast, it is non stop visitor time. Almost every week end, and some week days, we've had visitor after visitor. And if we don't have visitors, we're out and about visiting. Don't get me wrong - we LOVE it. But it makes the summer fly by in a crazy sort of way. And when we had any down time, I was spending any extra time at my parent's house, picking wild blueberries. It was a bumper crop this summer, and I now have 25# of the sweet tasty berries in my freezer. Thank goodness the blueberries are now finished!

So anyway, I don't think I'm done with writing, but I do need to make some big changes in my everyday schedule. I know, it wouldn't be a StuntBec posting without the word schedule in it. You see, my eldest, Beatrice, started kindergarten this past week. Oh, I miss her something fierce. But she's having a grand time. I really felt her absence yesterday, when I took the boys to storytime at the library. BK (before kindergarten), Bea and Jimmy and Henry always sat together on a bean bag chair, and quietly listened to the stories. Without our anchor, Henry just wants to play at the train table (why do libraries have toys, anyway?), and Jimmy doesn't want to sit by himself. We had to leave, just 15 minutes into stories. Sad.

About a week before school started, we began a new routine. All children need to be in bed, teeth brushed, bathed (if necessary), and stories read, by 8 PM. No easy task. So here are the changes we made: Dinner must be on the table by 6 PM. Toy clean-up is to be done before supper. If supper's a bit delayed, I've been putting jammies on/doing showers before supper. And amazingly enough, kids have been going to sleep on time, if not a little bit early!!

Another big change for us is that we're not driving to my parent's house at the drop of a hat during the week. We're saving the visits for the week end, and spending more time just walking around Rockland and doing local things. It's a good change, although I miss seeing my parents less often. By not running around so much, I'm finding that laundry doesn't pile up, and the housework is not being as neglected as it used to be. I'm trying to have supper ready, or at least prepped, before the boys and I walk to Bea's school to pick her up. If I do this, I tend to be much less cranky. When we get back from picking up Bea, we all sit down and have a snack and a cup of tea, and talk about our day. We hear what's been going on in Mrs. Conover's class, and Bea hears what's been happening at home. It's a really great way to reconnect. I have my friend Donna to thank for suggesting this ritual.

Anyway, I have much more to write about lifestyle changes...but I've talked your ears off enough for today. Time to change Henry's diaper and put him down for a nap. Sorry for being so absent. I'll be posting more often, now that the leaves are starting to drop and the weather gets cooler!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Potty Training Advice

I have a friend with a four year old that refuses to poop on the potty. She has to put a pull-up on him whenever he needs to poop. At daycare he is not allowed to wear diapers or pull ups, so he poops in his pants daily. Daycare is also thinking of kicking him out since it's been going on so long. Any suggestions? My friend is desperate for any advice.

She has tried the reward system, with no luck.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thoughts on Allowance

While visiting a sister and her kids this summer, I was confronted with the idea of allowance. Her son carried around his Boston Red Sox wallet and generously bought himself and my daughter a plastic insect while in the gift shop at a butterfly exhibit. Until this moment, it never occurred to me to pay my kids to do work around the house. Give my girls a sponge, soapy water and a bucket, and they couldn't be happier, so why would I pay them? But then it hit me... My oldest daughter, at the age of 4.5 asked for me to buy her a magnifying glass that we saw in a shop window as we were walking to the grocery store. I hastily said, "no, but maybe you could by it yourself one day". "But Mom, how could I, I don't have any money?"

So it began right then and there, my daughter would be earning an allowance so she can have the freedom to purchase. Don't worry, I worked her hard that first day as all of my bushes needed trimming and I didn't have to bend down once to pick up a fallen branch. Are we entering into the material age way too soon by giving kids money? Surely they aren't going to buy groceries, clothes or something truly needed, so should they have money? I feel guilty handing her money, like I'm forgetting to teach her manners, or neglecting to teach her about stranger danger (which is next, I promise) Do other parents give their preschoolers money, and do they feel bad about it? Should I hope she forgets, and never mention it again or should I continue to help her reach her goal and purchase the magnifying glass before the first frost kills all of the insects she is dying to view closer? Did all of these thoughts run through our parents mind while they were opening up their wallets for our small allowances?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ballet, Gymnastics, Preschool, What's Next?

I've read and heard tales of the family that is constantly shuffling their kids from one event to the next and I've often wondered why do we have such a problem with "down time" in our society? After spending three weeks of doing a whole lot of nothing other than relaxing at the beach, I returned to Ohio with an abundance of energy. It's the first week of preschool for my oldest daughter, yet I enrolled her in a ballet class one day a week, since a friend of mine has a daughter in the class. I thought it would be fun to hang out with my friend, while my daughter learns something new. I also thought it would be a good chance to help her get over being shy in new situations, since she has a friend in the class.

So sure, one would think, not a big deal- right? Next up, my middle child is heart broken that she can't be in the ballet class since it's for 4-5 year old kids. I start to question if I'm playing favorites. It's sad that at 2, she can't be in preschool, and she can't take ballet, so what is a mom to do? I'm relaying the story of deprivation to a friend of mine, and she suggests signing my two year old up for a gymnastics class, since they have them for young kids. Before I know it, my two oldest girls are now in gymnastics on Monday mornings. (My eldest insisted that she is ready for gymnastics too, and is willing to take a class where she doesn't know anyone- which I think is a big commitment coming from her since she is so shy)

Wow, how did all of this happen in a week? I'm not sure, but I hope it's not a habit. I've read about the families that run from activity to activity, eating on the run for every meal- is this where we are heading? Hopefully the fact that I'm asking this question is a touch of self analysis that will prevent me from a overly booked life with kids. Who knows, this could be how it all starts. Does every Mom say, "oh I'll sign them up this once, if they don't like it, that will be it". I guess I will have to let you know in 8 weeks when ballet is over.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

We Are Back!

I need to apologize to my dedicated readers. I've been on vacation for three weeks, which I know is no excuse, but I wanted to promise to you all, that we are back and ready to continue writing. So what did I learn from a three week vacation? Even if you are staying at home with your kids, a vacation away from the daily chores and schedule, is still a vacation. One doesn't need to travel to exotic lands in effort to be on vacation, one just needs to be in a place where chores are different and less and one feels relaxed enough to truly sit around and play with the kids, and catch up on reading. I went so far as to be sheltered from the daily news, with the exception of the occasional headline update from my father. The kids and I were in Maine for three weeks visiting relatives, but I have returned to my house ready to tackle anything, including three weeks of dust, laundry and grime that still managed to accumulate while I was gone. Thanks to Chorebuster.net, I should be able to get a handle on it all once again.

Also, my one road-trip tip is to play endless kid's music. I went to the library the day before we left, and picked out a few CD's in the kids section. Let me tell you, they were worth a million. The girls spent hours listening to The Wiggles, Jim Gill and others. Believe it or not, these were hours without fighting, just listening and looking out the window.

Friday, August 04, 2006

"We are NOT a T.V. Family"

I will scream if I hear another person say, "We are not a T.V. family." I've been staying at home for over a year now, and I can remember the days when I would in a better than you tone of voice say to other parents, "Yeah, I know who Dora is, but we don't watch T.V." Then I would suddenly think to myself, "Yep, I'm such a great parent, aren't I? My kids are going to be creative, happy and a great asset to society because of this lack of T.V." What I would do to be able to take back my words or my attitude. One day I cracked--it wasn't long into my career as a stay at home mom that I found out how wonderful T.V. could be for all of us.

Today was an exceptionally bad day for us here in the 105F midwest heatwave. It really is too hot to play outside. (Our newborn can't quite enjoy a day at the pool when the temperature gets so high.) We started the day by dumping out cereal, washing hands in our milk glasses, spilling dog food onto the floor along with dog water. "Time out, time out, time out," I scream. All while thinking of crying along with the fussy kids.

Nothing was working. No one ate breakfast. The two year old has opted to forget about the newly learned potty training and proceeds to pee on the floor. We are dog sitting two additional dogs on top of our two poorly trained beagles. The house is dirty, dogs are barking non stop at the workers who are putting in the fence in the God-awful heat. Right now I'm thinking we would all be happier if I went back to work.

At ten o'clock, my friend that I trade off watching kids with, came to pick up the girls, only to find PJ's still on my two year old. Is this where I say, ahh, life is better now that they are happily on their way to storytime? No. Instead I continue on my rampage thinking painting the baby's room is how I'm going to spend my time alone. (Oddly enough, I do find painting rewarding and relaxing.) I start putting the supplies together. Simple, right? The paint is by the front door. Rags, stirrers, paint roller, got them. Paint brush....Where is my favorite top of the line paint brush? I proceed to flip out like a crazy woman.

I get my husband on the phone to walk me through where he put it and wouldn't you know, he put it in a box of stuff with the bristles pointing down? If he would had thought about it, he would have hung up at that point since I lost it again and started screaming at him. Really, the only reason he even used my paintbrush in the first place was because he had the kind heart to help a friend of mine paint a room in our new house, before we moved in. (I couldn't help since I had just had a c-section a few days prior.) Hmmm.... Is this a hormone thing?

So, how does all this tie back into our television? Fo a moment I was really thinking I was going crazy. I couldn't help but put on my mother's shoes, and feel sorry for myself when in hind-sight, I am so very lucky.

After nap time, when the two year old still woke up with intentions to destroy, I turned on the T.V., which is commercial free thanks to my hubby making his own TiVo. And then I said, "I'm so proud to be a T.V. family". My kids have been quiet for the last 40 minutes while I write this article, which has helped put it all in perspective. I don't have to go back to work to be a better mom, I just need to remember the power of televsion.

Thanks Dora!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Road Trip Season

Well, nothing like the last minute. StuntMom asked me last week about writing an article on roadtrips, and a week later, under the gun big time (I leave for Boston for my 60 mile Breast Cancer Walk in 3 hours), here it is.

The kids and I go on roadtrips on a regular basis. We drive down to Massachusetts to visit friends and family, to Connecticut, to Michigan, to Ohio. We get around. And the trips are relatively painless. Here are my tips for roadtrip success:

Have a well stocked shoebox sized container of crayons, paper, colored pencils, stickers, scissors, colored index cards, etc. (I love the little $1 Dover Publication booklets - perfect size for the car.) The kids use a cookie sheet (bought esp. for the car, no burned nastiness on these) for a work surface. It works perfectly, as it keeps the stuff from rolling around as the car moves. Crayons are kept in a small one serving yogurt container, which fits into the cup holder of carseats. Again, this minimizes the mess factor. No glue sticks, no markers in the car. And before they move on to another toy/activity, make sure the arts and crafts box is cleaned up.

For my youngest, I have a little backpack filled with some cars and misc. toys he never sees - they are exclusive "road trip" toys. I put the backpack right next to him, and he entertains himself for hours. He is 16 months, and is not yet allowed to use the arts and crafts box. He only gets a magnadoodle (also only a car toy) for expressing his creativity.

Food is an important part of longer roadtrips. We always pack a special lunch for the first day of our drive. This summer, sushi and spring rolls were the menu of choice. Pick a special food, something the kids don't get every day, something they love, for lunch. It gives them something to look forward to. Snacks are also helpful in keeping the peace. I pack a big bag of popcorn, along with bowls for everyone. Peanut butter crackers are also very popular with the entire family. And I know many of you may not approve, but we stock candy. Smarties take a good amount of time to eat, so are a good choice. Dum Dum lollipops also work well for us. I keep it simple, not too many choices. I would highly recommend making a rule: no wrappers or garbage on the floor.

Which leads me to: Pack some bags for garbage, and teach your family the importance of using them. A clean car makes for a much more civilized roadtrip. Pack a roll of paper towels and cleaning solution, just in case. You never know when car sickness may hit.

When you take pee breaks, make sure everyone gets out and runs around. Let the kids stretch their legs and breathe fresh air. This really helped this time around - my daughter didn't get sick even once. If you have a child that is borderline potty trained, let him/her wear a pull-up.

No books are allowed, as they just make the kids throw up. Each child gets to bring a pillow, to make the ride a bit more comfortable. After every meal or big snack, we have "quiet time," when we just look out the window and quietly chat about what we see. This gives their stomachs time to digest their food, which results in less puking. Spontaneous naps often happen at this time.

Let's see, what else? Toys. I found that the less the kids bring, the better off they are. For our most recent roadtrip to the midwest, I allowed each of the older kids to pick out one toy each to play with, and this worked wonders. Jimmy brought along a few of his take along trains, Bea brought some dolls. With only one toy to play with, they stayed focused on their play for an extended period of time.

Well, this is not my most organized piece of writing, but I hope I inspire you to enjoy your trips, make them fun! Don't dread getting into your car with your family for your summer roadtrip! You can make it a good time!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Let's Iron!

Just call me old fashioned. I iron for my husband. Shocking, isn't it? I remember when I was on maternity leave my old boss called and asked if he was interrupting me. I said no, "I'm feeling rather embarrassed to say, I'm ironing my husband's work shirts" In reality, I ironed all of our clothes, so it was wonderful when I returned to work, I wasn't heating up the iron at 7:00am while trying to feed my little ones before daycare... I felt like a fifties housewife, with a June Cleaver, Martha Stewart type of outlook, cleaning my house, ironing, laundry, cooking. For those of you that know me, you know I don't have a tidy and organized house at all, nor do I try to seem like I do. So anyway, why an article about ironing?

A good friend of mine that has been on leave from her job while they worked to get a life less crazy, has sadly stated that her husband is mentioning her need to return to her career. Of course, selfishly, I can't let this happen since I see her at least once a week. Our kids play together fairly well, and we trade off babysitting often, so we each have some time to ourselves. So I suggested making a life so easy for her husband that he can't live without her around the house.

My first suggestion was to start ironing his shirts. I couldn't help but notice he wore an extremely well ironed shirt to work the other day when I ran into him walking to work. It was so well ironed, that I knew he must have ironed it himself. How did I know my dear friend was not ironing his shirts, when she is the person that so long ago stated that my ironing trouble was all in the fact that I was ironing with a ten dollar iron? I just had a feeling I guess. Anyway, she thought it was a brilliant suggestion, so she is getting the iron hot as I write.

Starch his shirts. Yes, I said "starch". Maybe not a trendy thing to do, but it really helps if you aren't a professional. You will find your ironing looks better than it is if you add a little starch to the shirt. I need to use a lot.

There is a trick to starching. I think it might be on the can of starch, but I never bothered to read it until recently- or maybe I read it online somewhere, I'm not sure. It's called spray and wait. I'm impatient, so it's really hard. But if you wait a few seconds for the starch to soak in, you won't have all of the white flakes on the shirt from the starch.

Try ironing for your man. It may make him think he just can't live without you.

Monday, July 17, 2006

This is Not a Cooking Blog

I have yet another request for a recipe. What better way to get people to read this blog than when I'm asked for a recipe. I promise not to get in the habit, but really you'll love this recipe too if you are swimming in seasonal cabbage. Adapted from Gourmet Magazine 2002.

5 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 -2 tsp minced fresh Serrano chili (or jalapeno)
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp asian sesame oil
1 1/2 lb cabbage ( whole head)
1/4 lb snow peas very thinly sliced in lengthwise strips (1cup)
1/4 red bell pepper cut into matchsticks

whisk together first 6 ingredients
add all others and allow them to wilt for 30 minutes. Serve cold

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Great Indian Recipe for GREENS! Palak Paneer

Eating seasonal produce is heroic work. Some friends and I joined a produce co-op called "Farm to Market". The idea is to skip the middle man- buy direct organic or low spray produce that is delivered to local farmers markets. It's been fun so far, we never know what we are going to get. I'm challenged every week to use the produce since I hate to waste food. We get a ton of vegetables in season, which has made cooking a lot of fun, and healthy too. Here is my recipe that I got from taking cooking classes at a local Indian grocery store.

Palak Paneer (I skip the Paneer and add either tofu or chick peas) also called Saag Paneer when made with spinach.

6 cups of cooked greens (mustard greens great) boil a few minutes then squeeze out extra water
3 large onions coarsely chopped
7 large garlic cloves sliced
1 walnut sized ginger peeled and coarsely chopped
6 tsp oil
28 oz can chopped tomatoes

cook onions in oil till soft (about 7-10 minutes)
add garlic and ginger and cook a few minutes more
add the tomatoes and the following spices:

2 tbsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tbsp cumin seed powder
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (I use a little less)
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1 tsp salt or more to taste

Bring to a boil the quickly add 1 cup of plain yogurt - a half cup at a time
one small carton of heavy cream

Chop up the greens and add to the above. Cook another 15 minutes. Blend with a food mill or put through a blender. Add tofu, Indian cheese, chick peas, or what ever you wish. Serve over rice.

Makes a ton.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Letting People Down

A guest editorial from Karen Marsh

I just had to make a decision, together with my husband, with no good options to choose from. The best advice I received was from my neighbor, who looked me in the eye and said something along the lines of "If you need to make a hard decision for yourself, one that impacts you in a deep and true way, choosing what is best for you is going to be what is best for others." Hearing this was soothing to my soul. When we first faced the decision, which was whether or not to go through with the adoption of two sweet and wonderful girls who have been living with us for the past 3 days, my husband's heartfelt input was, "We made a commitment to these girls. I don't like it, but I think we owe it to them to uphold that commitment." And I think that was also a very valid statement, but it made me sick to my stomach to hear it.

In the time since my husband first made that comment, we have talked at length, and he has talked about his tendency to react to tough demands on himself by ducking down his head and ploughing through, out of duty. I have done that at times too, and I suppose we both know we are capable of doing it. Sometimes you do it because you know that what you're doing will help someone else, or you just got yourself into something that's going to be pretty hard to get out of. I did it to get through summer as a girl scout camp assistant director. I know that my husband has done it to get him through things that were important to me. So, the question is, is it a good practice? I think sometimes yes and most times no. I think it can work for something that has a defined end, preferably not too far off, but if you're not happy, it's going to come out in many ways -- it's like trying to keep a pot from bubbling over if it's too full over a hot flame. You can't. That hot liquid will seep out the top and spill over. And the longer you keep that flame burning, the more likely you are to have a boil-over.

So, how does all this relate to StuntMom? Well, I wrote an article about the importance of acting as a "private instructor" for your kids a little while back, which sparked a bit of dialogue, and it came to mind as I was getting through this. If the choice to stay home with kids or continue to work outside the home affects you in a deep and true way, I think you need to make the choice that enables you to live the life you want to live. I guess that in the end, I am going to concur with a fellow StuntMom reader/contributor, who said it in another way -- "Happy parents make happy kids." I do still think, though, that my neighbor's wise words can be abused. After all, you could use them to justify just about any choice. But we do all know when something hits us in the deepest spot it can. It was a feeling that I hadn't felt for a long time and that I hated to remember. Now that we have reached our decision, I still feel awful, but I no longer feel sick.

In closing, I think I need to explain why the adoption idea started to feel bad, though I still don't know how it will be explained to the girls. Fortunately, there are experts involved who will be guiding the process. In essence, it had nothing to do with the girls and everything to do with me. And yes, all the people who warned us that we were getting in over our heads were right. I am embarassed that I couldn't see that before I was in the thick of it. We have two birth children, ages 2 and 4, and the girls we planned to adopt are 3 and 5. We had not visited with the girls for longer than 5 waking hours at a time until this last visit which decided everything. This time, we were to have them visit for 4 days, and then the girls were going to move in permanently after going back to their old home for 4 last days. The first full day with the girls was honestly the first time I had any doubts about what we were doing, and they were big, heavy thoughts that slammed into me like a Mac truck. All the habits, wants and interests of the girls seemed so different than the routine that we have established over our years together -- it was strangely unsettling and felt like a runaway train. Also, I had really done the math wrong on the volume of work involved. A second child definitely didn't double our work-load. In fact, it now seems easier to have two than one, but with 4 in the house, it seemed that the volume of work increased tenfold; and the number of accidents, too. Of course, there's much more to it, and I've already gone on too long. Bottom line is that maybe I could have worked to bring our worlds together, to love the girls as my own (and I do already care about them deeply), and to reign in some of the tendencies that have likely grown out of the hard knocks they've already been dealt in life, but I think that I would be giving up much more of myself than would feel good, and I think too many other important aspects of my life, and my interactions with important people in my life, would suffer.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

For Sale

I sold a sculpture last week! I know, some of you may not know I'm a sculptor, but I really must say I WAS a sculptor at one point in my life. Now it's just metal I move from place to place, with the hope that it doesn't fall on my children while playing. (One day I will go back to making art, but I'm finding time a little out of my reach right now) Our new yard is large enough that I was able to display them- and low and behold, the Cincypeddler purchased one for his fence-less yard. Here is one of my sculptures in his new home (the second I've ever sold).

Thanks for sending the photo--he looks happy.

Friday, June 30, 2006

What's for Dinner?

Sitting at the pool, I was chatting with a friend the other day about what we were both going to feed our family. It was rapidly approaching the dinner hour, neither of us knew what we were having, so her daughter finally put me on the spot and asked her mom if she could cook what ever it was that we were having. "Pasta", I finally blurted out. Shoot, we don't have a red sauce, or the makings or time for a scratch red sauce, so it will be a quick homemade white sauce with Parmesan cheese. Done, I had planned our dinner. I knew we had enough frozen vegetables to add to the pasta to make it a meal.

One cold January day a few years ago when a friend and I were sitting around my kitchen, we decided it was time to make menu planning part of our new year's resolution. We took a calendar and mapped out what we would be cooking for an entire month. It made life so simple for that month. I knew what to buy at the grocery store- I hate to admit how many times I come home from the store and still don't have anything to cook for dinner. So here is my July dinner plan. Take it for what it is, just a guide to help plan my most dreaded question, "what's for dinner".

July 1st- Saturday- our block party so we will be grilling leftover extra firm tofu for sandwiches and meat burgers (my husband is rather carnivorousness)
July 2nd- Sunday- Frozen potato perogies with veggies on the side, and a salad. Leftover meat enchiladas for Michael.
July 3rd- Monday- A friend's 4th birthday party- veggie burgers- sorry Michael, you are on your own for meat.
July 4th-Pita bread pizza
July 5th- Wednesday -tacos- this may sound gross, but there is a box of "just add water" meat substitute found in the healthfood section of grocery stores. I use this for the girls and I, real meat for Michael.
July 6th-Thursday-Pad thai
July 7th- Friday-vegetable enchiladas, meat enchiladas (frozen leftovers)
July 8th- pasta with red sauce, garlic bread, fresh veggies and salad
July 9th- Indian curry- make double the rice to use for tomorrow night
July 10th-Vegetable fried rice (add frozen precooked chicken for Michael- I usually cook a few pounds at a time, chop it up and freeze it) I also add a few extra eggs for the girls
July 11th- black bean burritos- we need Lisa's recipe for her beans- we all loved them
July 12th- quesadillas with left over ingredients from last night
July 13- Pizza on pita bread
July 14- Tuna steaks on the grill served on a salad, white sauce pasta and vegetables
July 15th- Karen's black eyed pea and rice dish
July 16-salmon on the grill with homemade bread, veggies
July 17-veggie ribs, real animal ribs for Michael, cooked all day in a crockpot with BBQ sauce, veggies and baked potatoes
July 18-Leftovers
July 19- Stuntbec visits with her family. I will have to get back with you as we plan the menu together.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Check out this website.

A guy in our city looking for privacy with some "zoning" issues. You have to love his passion. If anything, privacy is what he is lacking at his Anderson home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Private Instruction

Here's a guest editorial from reader and friend, Karen Marsh. Thanks Karen!

Have you ever discovered a new hobby or talent, perhaps spurred by a class you took? After you go to class for awhile, what seems to be the next step in developing your new area of interest in an optimal way? For me, I tend to turn toward the idea of a private instructor. I don't know that I've actually had a private instructor since the days when my parents paid one to take me through my scales on the piano, but that's not to say I haven't wanted one. And I definitely believe in the potential benefits of private instruction, above and beyond what a classroom can provide, when one really wants to master a skill. In fact, one of my interests is yoga, and one of the aspects of yoga in America that I have heard lamented by yoga instructors is the classroom approach. Apparently, if we were to "do it right," as was done in the days of old in India, the practice would be a much more private and personal journey, built out of a relationship between a student and a guru. Since a private yoga instructor around here can easily command a $75/hour fee, as compared to the $9 cost of a yoga class, there must be something that truly distinguishes the experience.

Well, what if your new hobby is "life"? You are a three-year-old child in need of mastering skills that will last you a lifetime -- sharing, being nice, eating good food, finding positive roads to happiness, etc. Which would you prefer... the private instructor or the classroom experience? This is something I've been thinking about lately. I know that I could learn more effectively from the private instructor (aka a parent). I think that those of us who are staying home with kids can look at the value added to our children's lives in those terms. If you dedicate yourself to the job of raising a child the way that a yoga instructor dedicates herself to a private session with a client, then the value of which you're giving your child can be, give or take, 8x that of what the child gets from a daycare classroom. This is not to say that every waking hour with your child has the qualities of an intense private session, but it does mean that your focus is there. Unlike a paid private instructor, your performance is not contained by a designated time period. More like a contractor on a retainer, you are standing ready to perform when a job presents itself (i.e. Bobby takes a truck from Jimmy and hits Jimmy over the head with it... time for a life lesson).

By contrast, a pre-schooler learning many life lessons in a classroom is learning not only from the teacher that is trying to guide 8-10 children through a day, but also from all of the other children in that room. Recently, I read this referred to as "horizontal socialization," whereas time with a parent is "vertical socialization." The article argued that vertical socialization gave a child a much more solid footing for life. I would have to agree that in the early years, this is the case. Would you rather have Jimmy learn his life lessons from Bobby or from a loving parent? We know the benefits and drawbacks of peers, and a child has from K-12 to experience that quite fully if you opt to send your child to school, as most of us will. The first four years of life are so fleeting. And what have you got to lose if you spend them with your child, except a little cash? Even if you're not the greatest private instructor, you're definitely the one your child would choose.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Who Killed the Electric Car

A guest article by StuntDad

I’ve always been fascinated by the "activist documentary." Classic films like Roger and Me and the more recent Super Size Me did an amazing job shedding light on corporations that have made decisions that they weren’t so proud of.

Sony Pictures Classics has a new documentary about a pure electric concept car that had great potential, but was eventually pulled and seemingly covered up.

Click the play button below to watch the trailer…

Friday, June 16, 2006

Thank You for a Great Year!

Thank you to the reader that pointed out that it's been one year since Stuntmom started!

When I started Stuntmom, I wasn't sure where it would be going, and I still don't know most of the time, but if anything it has been fun. It has been nice sharing all of the stories with our readers, and especially getting comments back too. (I really do appreciate being put in my place when needed) It has helped me to work out my feelings of leaving the corporate world to a world which I absolutely love- being with my kids full time.

I am so grateful to my sister Stuntbec, that joined at the beginning of the year, and I would like to thank those that have submitted stories too. Please, all are welcome to contribute stories, send them to stuntmom@gmail.com

Thanks again!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Be Wary of Snap Judgments!

Back when my daughter was just an infant, I learned about "biters." You know, these are the young kids who, well, bite as a form of communication. As a new mother, I clicked my tongue, and thought, how could parents let their child be that way? Turns out, my daughter Beatrice went through a short stage of biting. Shocking. And my son, Jimmy, bit my mother (in an extreme moment of affection) on the leg. It left marks. He was just under 2.

Here are a few more of my snap judgements, that have come back to haunt me:

Sharing: kids who don't share are mean-spirited. Just turns out they have to learn this necessary trait. It does not come naturally, as I once thought.

Picking up toys: Every well-mannered child should instictively pick up toys after playing. This is just how it goes in our house. Now my 3 year old absolutely refuses. I'm sure this rebellion is just a stage, but my 5 year old never did this...

Sharpies: My oldest sister moved into a new house, which was professionally wall-papered. Her 2 year old got a hold of a sharpie (permenent, of course) and marked up the walls in a few rooms, before being discovered. She did a lot of damage. How could my sister and her husband let this happen?? Why in the world does this toddler even have access to Sharpies?? She is old enough to know better. Well, a few weeks ago, after putting down a fresh tablecloth on our dining room table, and setting the kids up with paper and colored pencils, I started making supper. They were drawing quietly, so I let them alone. When I was ready to put dinner on the table, I asked my husband to help the kids clean up. Should be a simple matter of collecting pencils, and stacking paper. He came into the kitchen, and told me I wasn't going to like the mess. As usual, I assumed he was overreacting. Come on, it'll clean up fast, I coached him. I walked into the dining room, where my 3 year old sat with a thick blue Sharpie. He had drawn all over the tablecloth, and himself. My 5 year old had just sat and watched, facinated. They both knew better...

Being a parent is so humbling.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sleepovers Already?

Well, this is going to have to be a short note - we've got a few things going on this morning. But a new request came to me yesterday evening, as I cut the grass. A family has moved in next door to us, including a 6 year old girl (my daughter Beatrice is almost 5). The family is not new to the neighborhood - they just moved a few houses down, closer to us.

We've been in this house almost a year now, and some of the neighborhood kids have, about a month ago, started coming over to "help" me in the garden. Planting spring bulbs, marigolds; pulling weeds - all afternoon garden activities have become a community event. It's fun getting to know these kids.

So, back to yesterday. The girl next door asked Bea if she could spend the night. Have a sleepover. Bea came to me to ask me, and I said "no." So the little girl came over and told me she had cleared it with her mom, and could Bea please spend the night? Again, I kindly but matter of factly, no. We don't know this family. We're lucky if we get a hello or goodbye as the dad goes to work.

We went inside soon afterwards, for storytime and bedtime. Later that night, I discussed the issue of sleepovers with my husband. I mean, it's bound to happen, but at almost 5, it seems too soon. Why was my reaction to say instantly, "no"?

I went online, looking for some tips - some sort of guidelines to follow. Nothing. One site mentioned that it's a good idea to know where the family lives, and to have a phone number, so that if you're out of town, you can still reach your child. Please.

So, I have to come up with my own. Help!

1. Know the parents. Well.
2. My child must be 6 years old before a sleepover happens.
3. Smoke alarms in the house where they're staying? Firearms secure? (How do you ask that?)
4. Background check??

The idea of childhood sleepovers stresses me out. My mom was so overprotective of me, growing up. Am I just following in her footsteps? I hope not.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fast Food Nation-The Movie

Click the button below to watch the Fast Food Nation-The Movie trailer...

I'm not sure I need to say more since this is a constantly re-occurring topic on Stuntmom. Should be something for all to see (can we take our kids?). I know the tours of the meat packing industry alone will curb your need for the golden arches.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rheumatoid Arthritis Helped Build My Family

Here's a guest article from Lisa Andrews

About four years ago, our clique of mid 30-something couples experienced a flurry of pregnancies. A hunk of cake with a baby’s bonnet plastered across it became a dietary staple for me as I numbly attended shower after shower. I never tired of seeing all the tiny hats, booties and onesies (or the delicious cake for that matter), but wondered, when would my turn come? When would I get to enjoy my bonnet-plastered cake?

At the tender ages of 34 (my husband) and 35 (me) and a year of marriage under our belts, we decided maybe it was time to start working on a family. I became obsessed with taking my basal body temperature, peeing on ovulation sticks and timing intercourse at just the right second. My cycles were normal and I came from a brood of five; I figured getting pregnant would be a snap! But after four months of trying and limping around from being off Enbrel for RA, my husband got checked for infertility. After all, his work up was much simpler than mine, and with RA, I didn’t want to be off my meds and wait out the compulsory six months of trying to conceive. The results were devastating. My husband was nearly sterile and our only chance of pregnancy was using the highest level of in vitro fertilization. If having children were natural, it would be anything but natural for us. Ours would be conceived in a petri dish.

Ironically, this was a blessing in disguise. Though I never got to experience the exhilaration of a surprise pregnancy, needing fertility treatments meant I could time when I could and couldn’t use Enbrel. No longer did I have to suffer for months at a time wondering if I’d be pregnant by month’s end. Being on Enbrel shots for five years also made administering hormone shots to myself, well, a piece of cake! After 15 months of work ups and two invitro fertilizations, I finally got pregnant by my 36th birthday.

My pregnancy was easy- no morning sickness, minor weight gain and I had loads of energy. My RA kicked my butt. By the time I reached my last trimester, I could barely walk and dreaded those first few steps in the morning. My baby must have known I was in wicked pain. Our sweet daughter (Iris Elizabeth) was born six weeks early, but perfectly healthy. To my surprise, the prednisone I was taking helped her lungs develop in utero. Talk about serendipity!

Fast-forward two years. Our friends were having their second (or often third) baby and all conversations centered around pregnancy again. Would we endure another hormonal roller coaster of in vitro fertilization? Could I handle another pregnancy? Would Iris be our only child? Could I love an adopted child? After a few months trials of more fertility treatment and a wicked flare of my RA, the answer became easy. In vitro fertilization was not cheap (financially or emotionally) and I was no spring chicken. Iris is a high-spirited, loving child that would likely benefit from a sibling. And, yes- I could love an adopted child. We chose to adopt from Guatemala because of the excellent foster care, the beautiful country and a previous visit to Central America years ago.

We completed our international dossier after three months of what seemed like endless paperwork and were ready for an infant referral from Guatemala. I could continue to take Enbrel, take care of Iris and not worry about when or how I’d become pregnant again. I couldn’t imagine sporting a giant watermelon shaped belly while I chased an active 3-year old around. We received our referral for baby Maria in January of 2006 and hope to have her home by late summer. We visited her in April and can’t wait to make her part of our family.

Though the road to building our family was more difficult due to RA, it has taught me many things. One-cherish your children. Be they biological or adopted, they bring so much joy to life. Two- listen to your body. Sure I could have limped my way through another pregnancy, but no one would have benefited from my pain. Three-believe that things happen for a reason. Had it not been for RA- we’d never have Maria in our lives.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cracked into the MomForce

StuntMom suggested I post an update of my quest to break into the MomForce here in midcoast Maine. I was so lonely this past winter, my first winter in Rockland. Anyone remember my personal ad? Go back to January of this year...

On the Move Coffee Loving SAHM interested in occasionally hanging out with likeminded SAHM. Interests: books, the Brontes, grammar, hiking, cooking and baking, languages, children, picnics, gardening, and field trips.

Well, I did not post it anywhere. That just didn't feel right. Not me. But I have managed to meet a few moms, and make some friends. The Toy Library and Bea's art class were what turned the tide. I now feel like my family and I are a real part of the community up here in Rockland. When we go to the library, we are greeted by the librarians. When we go to the playground, we know some of the other kids' names. We get together about once a week with another mom and child for playtime/coffee. One new friend brought me over some of her tarragon and oregano for my herb garden. How cool.

And who remembers the chiding from StuntMom regarding the Brontes in my personal ad? She felt that was snobby. Well, guess what? I met someone right here in Rockland who is also a big fan of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Who would have thought?? I still miss Portland and my wonderful community there (Indian restaurants, too), but it's coming together here in Rockland. There are good people everywhere! It's just a matter of finding them.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Importance of Work Outside the Home??

I had an interesting conversation with a student of mine months ago that has stuck with me. I was thinking of her, wondering how she was doing. At the time that she was in my class, she was a single mom who was working in housekeeping at a local hotel. She was taking my Reading and Writing class so that she could help her own children with their homework, and also get her GED. She always came to class looking exhausted, but always participated, and took to the work with amazing enthusiasm.

During a class break one evening, she explained to me that she could actually have more money if she quit her job, and collected welfare. She could also take more classes at once, and be that much closer to a GED and college-bound. But she thought it was important for her children to see their mother working. If they don't see me working, she explained, how will they understand that when they're older, they too will have to work to survive?

She had an interesting point. History does repeat itself, especially in families. Our lives (my student and mine) are so different, but there are still some common threads. My mom was a stay at home mom, and she continued to stay home until I was in college. So my secret belief (I'm embarrassed to admit this now) was that I would go to college, meet a husband, get married, and start having kids by the age of 22. Why would I dream up a life like that? Because that's what my mom did. She did not have a "career", and she did not work outside of the home. Nothing wrong with this, of course. But now, I can see that my student has a point. So, by staying home, am I setting my daughter up with funky expectations for her future?

Well, I teach a class once a week, so I do a tiny bit of work outside the home. It's nice to have a bit of Mom Only cash (even if it really only goes toward groceries). It's nice leaving the family in charge of my husband for one night a week. Instead of changing diapers and reading bedtime stories, I get to talk about paragraph organization, grammar, etc. with adults. It's really good for me to do this. I come home from class feeling so happy and refreshed. And, yes, I will admit, it means a lot to me that my children see that I can work, just like Daddy, outside the home, too.

Friday, May 05, 2006

UPDATED: Baby Has Arrived!

Penelope Rose was born at 8:15 on the morning of Wednesday, May 3. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces. Mom and baby are doing well.

Some photos of the new baby can be found here.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Few Days Late as Usual

Just to keep everyone informed- no, I haven't had baby number three yet. We are still waiting. I heard from a majority of my friends today, since the baby was due on Saturday. I will have stuntbec post the stats once the bundle arrives. Thanks for all of your emails, phone calls and visits. Any day now...

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Birthday Gift

Another guest article from Jayne Martin-Dressing

Last night our family used for the first and last time the unforgivable birthday present my daughter received from my husband’s sister, the CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN. I’m sure that you all saw these mysterious boxes lining the shelves and the Wal-mart ads over the holidays, but no one ever really thinks about buying one. I mean, c’mon, its right up there with the S’MORE MAKER. I thought I had tucked the Chocolate Fountain from Hell safely away in the closet out of reach, and therefore out of mind. But a recent decision to clean the hall closet unleashed all sorts of forgotten birthday and Christmas gifts that didn’t quite make mommy’s ‘A’ list. My children immediately spied the possibility of a chocolate syrup bath and began to wear me down in earnest (okay, I did say if they didn’t totally trip out at the grocery store, I would consider the fountain experiment).

The CFFH is a syrup filled plastic contraption that aims to be some sort of ghetto version of a fondue maker. As the directions instruct, you simply “fill with your favorite flavored syrup”, crank up the four ‘C’ batteries and let her rip. What the directions don’t tell you is that your children will be covered from ear to ear in Hershey’s syrup, and that your deck, table, back door, shoes, pets, hair, and clothing will also be covered with high fructose corn syrup(with added calcium!). Thank Goddess I had the foresight to do this activity outside.
This was a gift, albeit a hateful one, from my sister-in-law (a.k.a. Satan in law) who almost had a spell when her son played at our house and I allowed the kids to have fun in the sandbox that still had last summer’s sand (horrors!). I think he gets a Clorox dip and a flea and tick check every time he leaves our house. This is a child who didn’t know how to use a fork and spoon until he was nearly 4 because he “just got too messy.” I can’t tell you what sort of slime-filled, play dough funhouse, 1,000 bead, and 800 piece puzzle-type of toy I’m dreaming of for his next birthday.

Who invents these contraptions that are garage-sale-items-waiting-to-happen? I know that I need to give it to Goodwill or some charity, but it almost feels like trying to give away a cat that pees on everything. Who wants that mess? But this item has got to be so far away from my children’s collective conscious that they never entertain fantasies of cranking up the ole plastic fountain again. At least if we are going to smother strawberries and apricots in chocolate, it might as well be the really good, rich, melted dark chocolate that I like to eat too.
So if you are having trouble getting your little ones to stick to the five a day plan, why not try the chocolate fountain approach. I know where you can get a good deal on one…