Wednesday, June 30, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed....

Hey Chicago peeps - do you and your kids like theater? A chance to win tickets to The Emperor's New Clothes from the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre here.


One of the things that I have done my best to instill in the wee ones - especially Mister Man who is a perfectionist and doesn't want to even try the first time if he doesn't think he'll succeed - is that true success only comes with practice. You have to work at it, and it isn't always easy.

When you try and then fail, that doesn't mean you give up. Instead you try again, change tactics, get help, or just plain old practice until you get it right.

More important than telling them this though is having them see it in practice. And I'm giving them some good practice right about now.

I've been working on doing the C25K for ohhhh about two years and three months now. No joke. I got really close in July two years ago, but life got in the way and I got away from it, just hit or miss running.

I recently got serious about doing it again - and I'm signed up for my first 5K while at BlogHer (gulp) in August (gulp - heat!). It has been going fairly smoothly. While the weeks' runs haven't been super easy, I've been able to do them.

Until last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday was my twenty-five minute run. I'd done the prep work up through Week Six Day Two. On that Day 3, however, it all fell apart. A couple minutes in, my ponytail was starting to loosen, and I can't run with my hair flopping all over (my lack of sweating is a big part of that). I paused to redo my ponytail, as I haven't yet mastered the art of running on a treadmill and fixing my hair, or at least not without falling off the treadmill.

I began running again, but shortly after the five minute mark, my shoe came untied. And running with an untied shoe? Well, you just can't do that. And thus my run was broken. Before I finished my twenty-five minutes, I'd stopped for a total of four times. I was disappointed, as it was my first failure at the C25K.

I had a great set of excuses: I hadn't slept enough lately, I didn't eat a protein breakfast that morning, I couldn't get my calf to stretch, the gym was too hot that day, I had forgotten my water bottle in my car, I was focused on doing too much that day before I headed to St. Louis, etc etc. But all that really meant is that I didn't do what I was supposed to.

After my run, I headed down to the Build-A-Bear event (a post on that coming shortly) and although I brought my workout stuff, I never found the time to run before we left my in-laws' house on Sunday.

Monday I was back to it, however. I figured that doing the 25 minute run after having been off for several days wasn't going to happen, so I decided to repeat Week 6 Day 2 - my two ten minute runs. I did my first ten minute run, although it wasn't easy. Five minutes into my second ten minute run, I was gassed. I had to stop and walk for a bit. Unlike previous times, however, where I'd stopped to walk but then managed to finish my run after a period of relative rest, my legs weren't cooperating. Major fail.

I focused on getting sleep and making sure I had a good breakfast so that today's run would go better. Last night, I had softball, but that shouldn't impede me too badly. Oh, except for when I was messing around before an inning and took a ball off my shin just above my ankle.

Ow. It got the muscle I use every time I flex my foot, so even walking was somewhat painful. I dreaded my run today - another attempt at that Week 6 Day 2 - and now I had perfect excuse. The bruise on my leg would keep me from being able to do it.

Uhhhh note to self: do not turn to talk to someone while manning first base and waiting for the shortstop to throw you the ball!

Last night, I couldn't fall asleep. I woke up early this morning and couldn't fall back asleep and was exhausted. And yet I made myself go out and run - thinking not only of Melisa dutifully doing her runs but also Mister Man and what I preach to him.

The first five minutes of my run seemed to last forever - and not only because the tv in front of me seemed to be on perpetual commercial mode. I got through that and kept going and finished that first ten minute run. Once I got to the one mile mark, it didn't feel so bad - something I've noticed about running in the past. When the music cued me to start up on my second run, I did it.

It was really hard. I kept talking myself through various points:

Just run until you hear that Day One is going to stop their eight minute run - you will have done three minutes at least.

You can run three more minutes while Day One is walking; three minutes is nothing in the grand scheme of thing.

Hey you've only got four minutes to go; you've done more than three quarters of your running.

Day Two is the first one to finish running for the day, and that will feel good.

And then... my iPod froze (again). I had no music and nothing telling me when to stop and start. Fortunately, knowing this happens with my iPod when I run for more than eight minutes at a time, I had checked the treadmill to see when I had started that second ten minute run. I can't watch the timer though, or it kills my motivation. Instead, I focused on the tv.
It's ok, just get through this set of commercials until the next tv show comes on.

Ok, let's see if you can do it to the first break. You know you'll be done before the first break on the show.

Ok, maybe not the first break, but at least until the first contestant starts playing his individual game (this is the part where I admit to watching the tv that has The Price Is Right on it).

Finding those little milestones in my big goal got me through it, and I did run my full second ten minutes. Week 6 Day 2 is now complete. I'm ready for my twenty-five minute run on Friday.

Well, except that I'm donating blood tomorrow afternoon. I wonder how donating blood will affect it... nah, I can't use that excuse!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where Did They Go Again?

Hey Chicago peeps - do you and your kids like theater? A chance to win tickets to The Emperor's New Clothes from the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre here.


So I've written about how I'm a sort of organized person. I like lists, I like crossing things off lists. I even created a spreadsheet for myself for BlogHer (ummm yeah, I'm seriously that much of a geek).

My motto in life is "everything in its place and a place for everything." Just typing that makes me happy. There have been multiple times where I "lost" my phone only to find it in the pocket in my purse where it belongs. I'm simply so used to putting it there that I do it unconsciously and don't even realize I'm doing it.

You know what's coming next, right?

Ha, I didn't lose my phone - you're wrong.

Instead I lost my keys. Again.

On Saturday, I ran errands all day. When I arrived home, I walked straight into the kitchen, knowing I needed to make a cake for Sunday prior to running back out again for a girls' night out.

I spend my entire time in the kitchen baking, then I ran back out to my car - straight from the kitchen, and I mean I didn't even stop to go to the bathroom - to head out to girls' night out.

I reached into my purse to start up my car and my keys weren't in the nice little pocket in my purse where they belong. I have two great pockets on one side of my purse that perfectly fit my keys and my phone, and they are always there.


I began digging through my purse, but I didn't see them. My next step was to begin taking everything out of my purse (and realizing some of the items needed to be disposed of in general - expired coupons being one). Nope. When the purse was empty, still no keys.

I ran inside and checked the counter. I checked the island. I checked the stove. Hmm. I checked the family room - even knowing I hadn't been in that room. I checked on top of the microwave and on the hutch.

I went back out to my car and searched everywhere. Not under a seat, not slipped down the side anywhere, and not on the garage floor. Eventually, I gave up and grabbed the spare set of keys so I wouldn't be any later.

Post event, I searched the entire house to no avail. My husband looked in the same places I had already looked, and no - he didn't find them either.

Sunday, I tried again. Monday, I looked again. Tuesday, I looked again.

Then I needed to pull out my Bluetooth tonight. I unzippered the pocket in my purse where it belongs. Since it's small, it lives in a different pocket from my phone or keys, and nothing else lives in that pocket.

Ta-da! Car keys. Huh.

Thinking back (which isn't exactly the easiest thing for me to do), I apparently had taken my Bluetooth out when I had arrived home with my keys in the same hand, and they arrived into that pocket together. Oops.

On the plus side, I am no longer panicking about losing the only set of keys to my car. And apparently I need to use my Bluetooth more often. Somehow, I have a feeling this won't be the last time I do this.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - S'mores Pizza!

Hey Chicago peeps - do you and your kids like theater? A chance to win tickets to The Emperor's New Clothes from the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre here.


I have to apologize in advance to you all. I'm sorry. I'm really and truly sorry.

My family went to Peel Wood Fired Pizza in St. Louis, and it was good. The whole experience was great (ok, except for the wait with small children - but that only proves how popular it is, and so not their fault). We had some really yummy pizza, and my family requested that I replicate it when we got home.

So this evening, I pulled this out of the cabinet.

Any guesses what I'm making?

S'Mores Pizza

(note - this is my regular pizza dough and is enough for regular pizzas and then dessert pizza at the end. I make three small/medium pizzas for the four of us and then one ~8 inch pizza for the dessert one)

1 c water, warm but not too hot
1 T yeast
1 T oil
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
3 c flour (this will vary each recipe, sometimes more and sometimes less)
1/2 c Nutella
2 graham crackers, broken into large pieces
1 T honey (leave it in the bottle)
1 c marshmallows

Place the water into your stand mixer bowl (or if you're not lucky, into a regular bowl, but then be prepared to do lots of kneading). Add the yeast and oil. Add 1 1/2 c of the flour, and mix well. Add the salt and stir again. Start adding flour by the 1/2 cup. Mix well with each addition, kneading (or using the dough hook on the stand mixer) to thoroughly combine before adding more.

Once the flour is all incorporated and it's kneaded well such that it feels smooth to the touch (not tacky and not dry - adjust water and flour as needed there), let it sit. You'll want to knead with the dough hook prior to that for 7-10 minutes or by hand for up to 20. Place a damp towel over the top of the bowl while it rises for an hour.

Gently separate out the dough you want to use. As I mentioned, I use the dough to make other pizzas for dinner, first, leaving a little over a fist-sized amount for this one.

Lightly flour your surface, and roll out your dough into a round, turning it as needed. Use a spatula to spread the Nutella into a thin layer on the dough.

Have children break the graham crackers into large chunks if you trust them - or do it yourself if you don't want them crushed into granules. Sprinkle half the graham crackers lightly over the crust, then drizzle it all with honey.

(Yes, these graham crackers were way too small and too much, but the wee ones had a blast helping me with this. The only problem they created is that the granules made it such that the marshmallows didn't stick into the Nutella too well!)

Place the pizza on your grill on a pizza stone (if it's hot and summer and you don't want to turn on the oven - otherwise, back this at 475 degrees). Add the marshmallows and remaining graham crackers, and gently press into the Nutella and honey.

Bake it for 7-10 minutes, until the marshmallows are golden brown and all melty. Remove from the oven and cut into pieces. You'll want to eat this immediately, as marshmallows just aren't good once they cool off and get hard.

No, we have no leftovers. Just be happy I have pics at all! Enjoy this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Blessed With Grace.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What Not To Wear

Hey Chicago peeps - do you and your kids like theater? A chance to win tickets to The Emperor's New Clothes from the Shakespeare Theater here.


Last week, I talked about the ummm fun lessons I learned while coaching t-ball. Trust me, they were hilarious. At least in my head. It is possible that I'm going off my rocker after coaching eleven kids in t-ball though.

Anyway, I was going through my camera, and I realized that I had a photo that I was going to share as one of my lessons, but I completely forgot about it. It's still worth sharing though, even on its own.

Just a suggestion. BUT

Don't wear high heels to a t-ball game. Especially not in Chicago where it's been storming for days and the ground is very soft. At a t-ball game, you're likely to have to walk in muddy gravel, muddy grass, just plain mud, or all of the above. Those types of surfaces tend to enjoy swallowing up the pointy ends of heels, either ruining them or making for a not so fun cleaning job since that gravel is like cement.

I am being kind in not showing the face of the person who did this, as it's possible that she's related to me, so just consider this a public service announcement. Heels an t-ball don't mix. (I thought that one was obvious, but evidence shows I was wrong. Very, very wrong.)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I'm Taking It Back. Again

Brand new giveaway for Chicago peeps - The Emperor's New Clothes at the Shakespeare Theater here!


Hmmm. I just realized that I'm posting about my husband two days in a row here, which is very unusual for me. I usually don't post about him at all. Don't read anything into this. Apparently with him home for the summer (he's a teacher), he's cracking me up a little more than normal!


My husband - like many men these days - uses an electric razor to shave. It's easier, you don't need shaving cream, it works better, it doesn't require replacing...

Oh. Wait.

My husband's razor has been replaced. He somehow broke the one he'd bought for himself early in our marriage. With his birthday coming up soon after he broke it, I bought him a new one. A nicer one.

He broke that one a couple years later.

Father's Day was rapidly approaching, and I bought him another newer, nicer one. This one even had a little holder thingie that cleaned your razor for you, so you didn't even have to do that - just press a button and whir it went.

Fast forward another couple years, and that razor stopped holding a charge. Primarily because there was a little orange light that shone on it that drained the battery. Rapidly.

He would plug it in and leave it plugged in until the next morning (rather than simply plugging in it a minute or two before he needed to use it). Being the frugal cheap environmentally-conscious person that I am, I unplugged it every time I walked past it.

Magically, one day last spring, the orange light turned off, and once again, all was well with the world. I was even able to return the new razor I'd purchased for him for Father's Day.

Then came fall, where the light reappeared. Needless to say, we returned to our habits - my husband leaving it plugged in forever and me following behind to unplug it after he'd used it. Oh, and I bought him another new razor for Christmas.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, he went snooping in my car and found his gift hidden in my storage panel. Unlike his family, which tells people what to buy for them, I'm a big believer in gifts being a surprise. On the principle of it (and hoping that orange light would magically fix itself again), I returned the razor.

The light is still on today.

And with Father's Day having occurred less than a week ago, I once again bought him a new razor. This time, it wasn't nicer than the one he was using. Silly me, I bought him one that's identical to the one he had previously - we'll see how long before the orange light comes on. (And hey - if ANYone has a solution to the orange light on a Norelco electric razor, let me know!)

This time, I gave him the razor.

Upstairs in our bathroom, do you know what's on our counter today? Several days after Father's Day?

Yep, that's how I was able to take a picture of the orange light today. My husband is still using his mostly broken down razor. The new one remains in the box. I figure my husband has another two, maybe three, days before I decide to return the new razor. Again.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Men. They Think They're Funny

I have a very yummy - and natural! - kettle corn giveaway here!


I have a cool little thing in my shower - and no, it's not what you'd expect. I have a waterproof notepad and pencil. You know, so I can make those lists that I talk about sometimes. It's actually a pretty cool thing to have.

Some people abuse the privilege though, as evidenced by this "conversation."

Let me translate for those of you who don't read scribble.

My husband: I reserved a rm 4 Friday (7/23 drawn in with an arrow - just in case I wasn't sure from the context of the rest of the note what date he was talking about ... and because it was so germane to the discussion anyway) night at Imperial Palace (right there, this should give you a clue that he's going alone and I'm staying home!) for $56 (including tax), and I'll take the $5 shuttle instead of a taxi.

Me: Do you know how much I hate text speak? (It's truly a pet peeve of mine, especially coming from educated people when writing and not actually texting.) And is this really something to share via shower mail? (Because, ya know - when talking about vacations, especially guy weekends, maybe this should be a real converation?)  Am I that scary? (Hey, there has to be some justification, right? I'm trying to throw him a lifeline here.)

My husband: Shower mail! Ha! Good one! We've invented a whole new form of communication!

And once again? Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. At least I can find the humor in how guys take in information and process it, right?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ummm, What Was I Saying?

Are you a fan of sweet? Like kettle corn perhaps? Go enter here!


I'm a list person. I love making lists, and I love to cross things off the lists.

Earlier today, I was brimming with ideas for blog posts. If I remember correctly - and at this point, who knows if I do or not - I had a good five posts in my brain.

And now? I can't think of a single one of them. I composed many of them in my head even, and some of them were brilliant (I can say this now, as there's no proof to refute my statement). My mind has gone blank.

While musing over the posts, I debated opening Blogger and drafting the start of a few of them. I decided that wasn't necessary. I need to rethink that a bit. Oops.

Don't you hate it when you can't remember what you were going to say? And I can't even blame pregnancy brain.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The New Girl In Town

I have a very yummy - and natural! - kettle corn giveaway here!


Growing up, I moved around a lot. Well, somewhat a lot - I know people who moved way more than me, but ... point being we moved six times before I hit the fourth grade. Generally, I was fine with that. I always loved exploring new places and meeting new friends and the like. I'm lucky that way.

It was slightly different when I moved to that new school in fourth grade though. While my parents are by no means poor, we are absolutely not conspicuously wealthy either. The Catholic school they sent me to? Wow.

The conversations - at fourth grade - were about the pool at the country club, the boating they did on the weekend, the designer jeans, etc etc.

And me? I had no country club. I'd never been on a boat. And jeans? Ha! My conservative mom had never bought me any. I honestly didn't own a pair.

As I started to see the lay of the land, I began begging my mom for some of these things - not realizing the cost of a country club membership or how far out of reach that would be. We never did join that country club. And we never got a boat.

On the plus side, we became really good friends with a couple people who had a boat who invited us on it regularly. And I became good friends with a couple of girls who also didn't do the boating thing (by choice) where it wasn't a focus.

Since it was the 80's, once I convinced my mom to buy me some Jordache jeans, I eventually learned how to roll them up properly so that I fit in. Mostly.

But oh that terror in my heart, the fear that seized me and froze me when the girls would start to talk and then just ... look at me. Waiting for me to contribute. And in the fourth grade, I didn't have anything to contribute.

It was the hardest time I ever had fitting in, and my mom didn't get it. I was reminded of this struggle when reading Girl in Translation recently by Jean Kwok (which I highly recommend reading - loved, loved, loved this book). In the end, I found my place in that school and in that town, but it was so different from anything I'd experienced prior to that.

And honestly? It was probably a very healthy eye-opening experience. For me to see the difference in people so starkly, to see the focus on wealth and learn how to deal with it when I ... wasn't quite in their league, I think made me a far stronger and happier person.

It allowed me the happiness to buy a house that we can afford rather than stretching. And it allowed me the courage to finally quit my job to stay home with the wee ones - a far more important job, anyway.

What lessons has your childhood taught you?

This post is a part of is Silicon Valley Mom's Blog book club. Go check out what this book inspired in other moms. I received a copy of the book to inspire my post (and highly recommend it), but this is not a review, nor did I receive any compensation for writing this post.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You're My Inspiration

Are you a fan of sweet? Like kettle corn perhaps? Go enter here!


Every time I think about this post, I have that song going through my head - and I do again - "You give meaning to my life; you're my inspiration...." In the best vein of misery loves company, I can only hope that at least one of you is now suffering my fate.

I have a point though - shocking, I know.

I'm not one to do things halfway. I set large goals, and then - for the most part - I go after them. Take a trip back in time with me, will you?

I had a really neat goal a couple years ago - to run a 5k. I started doing the C25K program, and for the most part, it went fairly well. A good friend of mine who you would not peg as a runner told me how she had started to run 5ks and talked me into it.

In the beginning, it was great. A friend of mine from my neighborhood joined up with me after the first week, and we ran together. Having her with me was a huge help as we went from sixty second runs to ten minute runs. Then her knee started giving her problems, and I was on my own.

It was ok though. I had joined a gym to run inside (ummm I don't sweat, so running outdoors in the summer is not ideal), and I made it through week six with its twenty-five minute run, and week seven with its twenty-eight minute run. It wasn't easy, and I wasn't fast, but I did it.

Then summer hit. And so did the excuses. I missed a few runs here and there, and pretty soon there was no way I was running for twenty minutes. Over the next ahhhh two years, I was off and on running - frequently able to pick it up at week 5 (five minute runs) or week 4 (three and five minute runs). Then I was down to week 3.

I spent week after week at week 3. For whatever reason, I just couldn't get past it to start week 4, even though I was running my requisite three times a week. I was frustrated, but I kept trying.

Then I heard that Melisa was also planning to do the C25K program. And we somehow got ourselves signed up to run the 5K at BlogHer (our collective first!). She talked about her strategy and the days she was running. And I realized that maybe this is something I can do.

I hear her updates and see her happy Tweets about what she's accomplished. And you know what? It's kept me running, too. The days I think about skipping because I'm tired or it's too late or I have something else going on? I think about Melisa running no matter what, and I go.

I made it through week 3. I completed week 4. All the while, I remembered Melisa and her unflagging determination, and she kept me going. As I got into the longer runs, it got harder. I wanted to stop and take breaks. But I powered through - because Melisa was keeping me honest. On Friday, I completed - without stopping once - a twenty minute run. Yesterday, I did my five / ten / five run, and tomorrow I have a long twenty-five minute run.

Wow. After tomorrow I start week 7, and then I have two weeks before I'm truly running a full 5k - in plenty of time for our BlogHer 5k. I may not be fast, and I definitely won't be first, but I know I'll at least complete it before they close the course.

Running with a live partner the first time around was huge. And having a virtual partner now with Melisa? Well, I have this little song I need to sing to her....

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

Are you a fan of sweet? Like kettle corn perhaps? Go enter here!


I love being productive. It's wonderful all the things I can get done when I really put my mind to it. The only bad side effect? My days start to run together because I do so much. Needless to say, I thought for a moment that I'd actually forgotten about Tasty Tuesday.

Nope, I didn't forget that, but I did forget that I'd promised to bring our fire department some treats today (along with several other friends of mine). Fortunately, one of them called me at 7am to see if I could bring hers over for her.

After debating what to make - since I also wanted to go running at the gym after filling up my car with gas (the dummy light was on - oops!) and do a load of laundry before picking up the wee ones from summer school - I settled on a yummy bar cookie.

My husband insists they're evaporating, but I don't believe him. They are pretty darn good though!

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

2/3 c butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 c oats
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c flour
2 c (or more) chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 pan.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan with the brown sugar. Remove from heat once melted and stir until fully dissolved. Add the vanilla and beaten eggs and mix until well combined (make sure you beat the eggs well before adding them!).

Add the baking powder and soda, salt, and oats. Mix well. Add the flour and stir gently until just mixed. The batter will still be somewhat soupy - that's ok! Pour the batter into your greased pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the batter.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes - until a tester comes out clean. Cut into squares and hope no one else sees them!

Enjoy this and more with Blessed With Grace and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

T-Ball Coaching: Lessons From The Trenches

Are you a fan of sweet? Like kettle corn perhaps? Go enter here!


Today was the last day of the t-ball season for the wee ones. This was the first time (and probably the only) time that they played on the same team. One set of games, no conflicts - oh it was lovely.

And did I mention that I coached? Yeah, there's goes that I-can't-say-no bug again. A lot of the reason I coached though was because we had such a poor coach last year. Nothing against him personally, but he had no experience, nor did he have the personality nor interest in t-ball to make it an experience where the kids got something out of it. After complaining, I sort of felt like I had to justify my complaints by getting involved.

And it has been a fun season - the kids all progressed, though obviously some at a much fast rate than others. I won't be sad to see it end completely - the hot and humid days in Chicago are upon us - but I learned a lot from the experience.

Which of course means that I need to share with you, too.

Behold, the Top Ten Things I Learned As A T-Ball Coach:

10) A snack is not optional.
We started out the year with the idea that it's a 45 minute to an hour long game. With maybe twenty minutes of practice beforehand. The kids don't need another junk food snack in their day. The other coach and I were good with that. By the second week, enough complaints were heard that we reluctantly instituted snacks.

9) The biggest challenge is ensuring there are no fistfights on the field.
Fortunately, this wasn't something that involved the adults. Instead, it was like the pee wee hockey or soccer games you see with a swarm of children following wherever the ball goes. Knowing my wee ones, I instituted a system for them that quickly spread to the whole team and seemed to work well.

As we got out onto the field, I drew a large circle with my heel approximating where each child was to stand. It was the circle "where they lived" while on the field, and they adored it. As we went out, they started to ask me to draw their circles. And some added to them, making them more square than circle or drawing an initial inside.

Once the kids were properly positioned, they were admonished that they were only allowed to leave their home and enter the burning lava where the ball was if if called their names. Thus "Peter's ball" was actually respected. Most of the time. Go fig.

8) Figuring out how to teach five and six year olds the "ready position" is pretty hopeless.
The other coach started out the season by calling that position "down and dirty." While good in concept - your glove is down where it can get dirty - it unfortunately was too open to interpretation.

Some kids sat down and got dirty. Some kids placed dirt in their gloves and tossed it. Some kids squatted all the way down. Some kids hunched their backs, resulting in eyes focused on the dirt and not the play - something that freaks me out, having seen more than one player injured in the past by not paying attention.

Over the course of the season, we tried one gambit after the other, but I'm pretty sure the video evidence will show that we never once managed to have all the kids in the ready position prior to a play at the same time. We were lucky if they all had their gloves on their hands.

7) Just about any child can hit a coach-pitch ball... once.
Midway through the season, our league switches from true t-ball to a coach pitch game, whereby each player get "four" pitches from the coach to hit the ball before resorting to the tee. By moving kids around, adjusting bat positions, etc., we achieved most kids hitting from the pitched ball within a couple weeks - with exceptions here and there throughout the games. Sometimes it isn't the kid that needs to adapt; it's the coaches.

6) Although the coach meeting prior to the season and the rules of the game state that kids are to given only four coach pitched balls before moving back to the tee, this didn't often happen in reality.
Our team was one of the very few that would bring out the tee after the fourth missed ball to ensure the game moved along and that no child was embarrassed after five minutes of swinging and missing. Really, after Suzy has missed the ball by a mile four times in a row, another four balls isn't magically going to turn her into Sammy Sosa.

5) Getting hit in the face with a ball isn't conducive to improving your skills.
Poor Mister Man. At a game I couldn't attend because I was on my way from work (don't ask), another father was helping to warm up the kids before the game by playing catch. He unfortunately threw a ball when Mister Man wasn't looking, and it hit him in the face. I did make it to the game in time to see him foul off a ball into his face (though luckily, I talked him into continuing to bat, and he got a hit the next pitch - phew!). Ever since that point, he's been afriaid of the ball and looks away when it comes close enough to catch. We're still working on breaking him of that habit, but unfortunately, his skills both in the field and at the plate have taken a nosedive since then.

Note to self: Always make sure a kid is looking and acknowledges you before throwing a ball. I can't handle the pressure of ruining another kid's game!

4) Don't serve snacks until after the post-game meeting.
After each game, we would always gather up to talk about who did what things really well during the game. Each kid loved puffing up with pride as we talked about great throws or hustle or hitting, etc. But once a parent opened up the snack bin immediately following the game? Yeah, we lost them. They're working on their sugar highs and anything we may have to say to them takes a backseat. We haven't had a good meeting since.

3) The game ball is a great motivator.
Another purpose of the post game meeting is to hand out the game ball, which kids treasure far more than I imagined they would (our coach last year didn't hand out game balls, so I can only assume that he kept the extra twenty-four balls he was provided - ahem). Every week, kids would ask if they were getting the game ball and what they needed to do to earn it. While we were sure that each kid got the game ball an equal number of times, we weren't shy in reminding them that things like not saying mean things to players on the other team (in the instances where they needed to use the tee) or ensuring they kept their gloves on their hands and the like were prerequisites for earning a game ball.

Now that I think about it, maybe we should have made down and dirty a motivator. Oops, too late.

2) Grandparents are an integral part of the t-ball experience.
Inevitably, one of the wee ones comes to me while at a game. Moooommmmmmy, I have to go potty! So what do I do? I simply point the offending wee one (who did go before we left the house, btw) at the nearest grandparent and send them to the gross, nasty Port-a-Potty. Ahhhh, crisis averted.

And the number one thing I learned while coaching t-ball?

1) Don't assume kids know any of the rules of baseball.
At the beginning of the year, some of our practices consisted of running the bases and teaching the kids where each base was and where to run. It was, sadly, a necessary lesson - for my wee ones, too. (Hey dads, go watch more baseball with your little kids!) Throughout the season, we rotated where kids played in the field with each inning. We would tell Joey to go to second base and lead him to it. We would tell Ricky that he was playing pitcher and lead him to it.

At today's last game? Mikey, you're playing third base. Ummm Coach, where's third base? Oh vey.

So what have you learned from your sports experiences?

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'm Graduation-ed Out

Are you a fan of sweet? Like kettle corn perhaps? Go enter here!


Yep, the wee ones are only in kindergarten and preschool, and I'm already done with graduations. This doesn't bode well for their important milestones in life. Find out why at Chicago Moms Blog, where I'm posting today - sadly for the last time, as they are shutting down their site as of July 1.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

That's The Best Excuse Yet

Are you a fan of sweet? Like kettle corn perhaps? Go enter here!


Growing up, my mom wanted my sister and I to play an instrument. She had played the piano to the point of also playing the organ in her local church (that's really good; an organ requires something like six hands and four feet to play).

Fortunately, she didn't start on this kick until I was in elementary school and could sort of show an opinion. Sort of.

So when fourth grade rolled around, which was our first opportunity to play in the band, I decided I was ready to go for it. My mom encouraged me to sign up for the band and to choose an instrument. I debated the trumpet and other instruments. Finally, I decided on the drums.

After all - with the drums, you don't actually have to read music, just bang on them. All was well with the world. Until I actually got my drum set. I think it weighed more than I did. And remember, I was in the fourth grade at the time. I also realized shortly thereafter that while I didn't have to read the notes, I still had to hit the drum in a certain fashion at the exact right time. And that certain fashion got more and more complex.

Fine motor skills? Apparently not always my strong suit. You don't want to see me dance, either.

Fortunately, the band was only a six month commitment, and my mom happily let me return the drums at that point.

But she still wasn't satisfied. She wanted me to learn to play music, just like she did. And having given up on my choice of instrument, I now started taking piano lessons.

Go fig. Reading music isn't actually all that hard. I enjoyed it and breezed through the first couple piano books. Then it got harder, and I had to buckle down and practice. After two plus years, I played ok but I was never going to be great at it. In my mind, I'd sort of learned all I wanted to.

Fortunately, my piano teacher was multi-talented. While my sister continued her piano lessons, I got to start taking flute lessons. Ahh the beautiful flute.

Ummm ewwww. The spit filled flute. Have I mentioned that I don't exactly do puke? Well, spit is also kind of right up there for me. It's giving me the shivers just thinking about cleaning out the inside of a used flute. With the same little rag over and over again.

Needless to say, I realized fairly early on that the flute was just not meant for me. But not liking the spit wasn't something my mom was willing to accept as a reason to quit.


Again, the more I played, the more complex the music got, and the more fingers I had to use on the keys - at the same time. And there, there came the problem.

Yep, freaky-deaky me is double jointed. In both hands. In all fingers. Especially my pinkies. In fact, after having just taken that picture, my pinky - having remembered now what it's like to be in that double jointed position - keeps wanting to go back there and get stuck.

Picture playing the flue. Picture holding your fingers out nearly straight but bent at the tip in anticipation of playing a note. Now picture being double jointed and being unable to complete the bend of a finger to play said note because said finger is locked into a double jointed position.

Yeah... I lasted at the flute for less than six months. My mom relented when she saw that I was unable to play some fairly important notes after the first few minutes of practice. Fortunately, I was a generally good kid, so my mom trusted me when I said I wasn't faking it (I truly wasn't).

Bet you never heard that excuse before, huh?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How Do You Celebrate?

Are you a fan of sweet? Like kettle corn perhaps? Go enter here!


I'm hanging out over at Chicago Moms Blog again today. While I'm thrilled that the Blackhawks won the Cup (I adopted them after Norm Greed - not a typo - took over my beloved NORTH Stars and have cheered for them ever since), I'm not so thrilled with the way some people have reacted. Check out why.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

Hey, it's perfect timing - a food giveaway for a food post.  And ohhhh this kette corn is good.  Go enter here!


We're still grilling around here - even though it has been sort of cold and rainy. T-ball games were rained out both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and we got soaked both times. Whee!

But between the raindrops, I still had fun putting together another chicken recipe for the grill. I love "Chinese" food - and I put it in quotes because the stuff we eat in our garden-variety place here is nothing like what I was served anywhere when I was actually in China. The only (ok, one of the) problem(s) with Chinese food is that it isn't always the most healthy.

Take orange chicken, for example. I love orange chicken. It's a perfect sweet and savory combination for me. Making it at home though? I don't want to know what's in it.

So I adapted it for the grill. And really, I think it turned out pretty well. My husband agrees since he ate (literally) a pund of chicken at dinner.

Apparently I'm on a citrus chicken kick. Lemon chicken, lime chicken, lemon chicken kebabs - what's next?

Orange Chicken

1 c orange juice (yay for orange season with yummy fresh squeezed juice!)
zest of one lemon
juice from one lime (mine was pretty juicy, maybe 1/3 cup)
zest from half a lime
scant 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c honey
4-6 chicken breasts (I had ~2 pounds)

Combine the orange and lime juices and zest in a saucepan, along with the honey, vinegar, and garlic. Bring to a boil while stirring regularly. Simmer 15 minutes.

Let the marinade cool completely, then add it to your chicken breasts. Let marinate all day in the fridge.

Pull the chicken from the marinade, but don't discard it. Keep about 3/4 cup to baste the chicken. Boil the remainder until thick and bubbly, and use for a sauce. Grill the chicken breasts about five minutes on each side until the juices run clear, basting with the reserved marinade every few minutes.

Serve with rice and bok choy and enjoy!

And no pictures again? I know. Did I mention that my husband ate an entire pound just himself? I was sort of expecting to be able to use the leftovers for pics. Whoops.

Enjoy this and more with Blessed ith Grace and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hiding Isn't Helping

One more day to enter for a $25 Wal-Mart gift card here.

I also just put up a brand new giveaway for Angie's Kettle Corn here, with ten winners, so go enter!


I've debated posting this for over a month now for a number of reasons. I don't want to get pulled into a debate where I'm definitely not the expert. I want to keep some modicum of privacy for people - even though I'm admittedly a fairly anonymous blog. And I don't get it. I truly don't get it, and I can't wrap my head around it, which is my biggest struggle.

Earlier this week, I read a post by Melissa at Peanut Butter In My Hair, and sensing her frustration, I realized that a lot of that really doesn't matter. I have something I want to share, and it isn't about a debate, it's about people and about things they do that - inadvertently or not - are harmful.

Melissa wrote about Post Partum Depression and her desire that people not minimize it, not pretend like they know how it feels, not push it further into the darkness where it only festers and grows.

On Mother's Day, a woman whose wedding I attended killed herself.

She had a great job that she loved, she'd been in a great community where she was well-respected, and she had an adorable six week old baby girl. The following day, she was to return to work from maternity leave.

On the Thursday before Mother's Day, a colleague had called her to check in. "I don't think I can do this" the woman told her. And her colleague did what we all do, so very often. "Of course you can. We all feel this way sometimes; it's no big deal."

The woman was right. She couldn't do it, and she ended her life.

I can't begin to understand how she felt that way. I can't imagine ever being at the point where suicide is the only way out. I can't imagine ever feeling like leaving behind an innocent child is the right decision - and I'm profoundly grateful for that.

I'm lucky, but there are so many women out there who aren't so lucky, who suffer deeply - sharply - on a daily basis just struggling to make it not through the next day but the next hour and the next minute. While I can't put myself anywhere near the place they're in, I do understand it, and I feel for them. I get that the casual, unintentionally hurtful "it's not that bad" cuts more than they can bear.

This woman didn't always have the easiest life. She had gotten divorced since I attended her wedding, and her baby was an accident with a man she hadn't been dating long enough to decide that they were ready for this next step. But they worked through it, and they were making a go of it.

Does this explain why she fell so deeply into the blackness of depression that she couldn't see a way out, couldn't find someone who understood, lost all hope of ever escaping the darkness where she lived?

While her circumstances may not have been what she envisioned as a little girl growing up with fairy tale romances in her eyes, that wasn't necessarily the precipice that caused her to slide so far into post partum depression. There are plenty of women who do have the fairy tale romance who travel the same path, and plenty of women in circumstances far more dire who rebound with no issues.

Post partum depression doesn't care who you are. It simply finds you and seizes you, and good luck getting it to loosen its grip.

Part of what most scares me about this woman is the reaction of her family. The fact that she committed suicide is not well-known. All they shared was that she died suddenly. They saw her fall as something to be ashamed of, something to sweep under the carpet and pretend away.

It isn't.

The further you push it under the rug, the deeper its hold becomes. This isn't something that shows weakness of character. It isn't a character flaw or failing. This is a serious medical issue. It's valid. It happens.

It breaks my heart to think of that little girl growing up with not so much as a single memory of her mother. And she isn't the only one. Post partum psychosis has a five percent suicide rate. When you think about the number of babies born each year, that figure it staggering - even accounting for the fact that this "only" impacts one to two women per thousand births.

The next time I see a woman with a new baby who is struggling in the grocery store, I'll offer a sympathetic smile or more. When a friend says she's struggling, I'll encourage her to share with me - and to find some help. So many won't find help because of the stigma attached to it, feeling like a failed mother, being mentally ill, or more. There should be no stigma. It happens.

Even though this woman's mom doesn't want to admit it, wants to keep the illusion alive that there are no problems, her daughter is proof. And without getting help, the repercussions are severe. If you've suffered through PPD, hats off to you for not drowning. Your success and your survival are a tremendous feat and not something to hide away.

There's a baby girl out there who someday will wish her mother had been able to do that. And I just hope that other mothers and grandmothers and husband will and can shed some more light on the tragedy that can be avoided for those who need to be encouraged to find the right help.

I'm not an expert, and I don't pretend to be one. My heart just can't take hearing about another little baby like this one.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm A Creature Of Habit

There are still a couple more days to enter for a $25 Wal-Mart gift card here. I just put up a brand new giveaway for Angie's Kettle Corn here, with ten winners, I need you to enter!


I am a creature of habit, and I know it. I just proved it to myself yet again.

I'm sure you've heard of the phrase "A place for everything and everything in its place." I live it. It brings me comfort. Things belong somewhere, and then I know where they are. I don't have to search endlessly for them, trying to figure out what I did with my keys or my shoes or that homework paper Mister Man needs to turn in.

I get so good at it that sometimes I don't even realize I've done it. I'll freak out because I can't find my phone and call it, only to discover that I put it in my purse where it belongs. It's so instinctive that I don't even notice myself doing it.

So back to my proof.

Earlier this week - Wednesday, in fact - I went to the gym to run. I had two and a half hours to get to the gym, run, pretty myself up, and get to Mister Man's kindergarten graduation (don't get me started). The timing worked out beautifully, and I was happy.

When I arrived at the gym, I dropped Little Miss off at the kids' area and headed to the locker room. I grabbed my running skirt, my shirt, the freshly charged iPod and... no running shoes. Wait. What? Where are my running shoes?



Let me back up a moment for you. When I run, I generally run on the treadmill at the gym. Being a non-sweating person (yep, that's me and it's no fun), I do well running where it isn't too hot and where I have a ready access to water. Thus, treadmill. However, on Monday I was scheduled to run but didn't have time until around 7:30 at night. Rather than drive the twenty minutes to the gym, I decided to run in my neighborhood since it had cooled into the low sixties.

Annnnnd when I took my shoes off in the family room when I got home, I left them sitting there. And because I wasn't in the habit of having to put them back into my gym bag, I didn't.

Back to the gym on Wednesday... I glanced down at the heeled black shoes I was planning to wear to Mister Man's graduation, and I debated whether I could pull off heading up to the floor anyway. Mmm no, no, I really can't. Instead I took a shower and spent a little extra time getting ready.

That night, I ran again at home, since June in Chicago is fortunately long sleeve weather half the time. At the end of my run, I carefully put my heart monitor and its accoutrements into one running shoe. My iPod and socks went into the other. I was not going to forget anything. In fact, I even remembered to put my running clothes into the wash since they ummm needed to be washed.

Yesterday, I returned to the gym, so proud of myself that I remembered to repack everything. I opened up my gym back and removed my heart rate monitor and my iPod. I grabbed my running shoes and... ummm where are my running clothes?

My mind raced back to my house where I could picture my clothes still hanging on the drying racks from where I'd done laundry the night before. Because, you know, I'm not in the habit of having to repack my running gear specifically.

I was absolutely not going to not get in another workout because I'd forgotten something. Again. And last night I didn't have the opportunity to run at home later in the day - I had a murder mystery party to get to (and oh, do I make a good saloon girl!). I surveyed my bag - as a Girl Scout, I always have something else packed. I had a pair of yoga pants and two sports br@s.

I sighed and debated whether I was truly desperate enough to wear this ensemble. I thought briefly and then realized that 1pm in a gym is a fairly empty time, which would work to my benefit. And that the fact that I don't know anyone at my gym actually worked to my advantage for once in my life.

Begrudgingly, I pulled on the yoga pants that are designed to have a) a perfect yogi body or b) a long shirt covering through the hip area. I had neither, but that was my own fault. I closed my eyes and pulled on the two sports br@s. And I felt n@ked.

I pulled the pants up until Erkle would have been proud. I pulled the sports br@s down until I had only a couple inches of exposed abdomen. I debated with myself again whether or not I was up to this. And I reminded myself yet again why I do not wear a bikini and probably never will.

But I did good. I sucked in my gut and walked up the stairs to the gym floor, and I did my workout. After the first five minutes, I wasn't constantly conscious of my lack of a running shirt; it only hit me every three or four minutes that I was soooooo exposed.

I concluded my workout in my creature of habit ways and left the gym in the same way I do every day. Shower, moisturizer, pants on, shirt on, return the towels, hair dried, makeup on, shoes on... just like I do every time I go to the gym.

Because I am a creature of habit. And I need it that way.

Oh, and my running clothes? They're currently sitting on the couch next to me. I put away all the laundry today, but my gym bag is in my car. Ten to one I forget to put them in my gym bag for tomorrow. On second thought, maybe I should go put them in my car now.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This Suddenly Became A Busy Summer!

Psssst! I'm still giving away a $25 Wal-Mart gift card here.


Mister Man came home from school the other day with a scrapbook from his kindergarten year. It's precious (and I have proof that he grew! Three inches taller from August until May recorded by his teachers. Ha!), and there were so many neat things that he wrote.

Of course, he also wanted to make changes to it. His favorite color is no longer pink. He now prefers purple (that's my boy!). And his favorite tv show is no longer "Beyond Time In Space" (one he invented himself).

But the coolest thing I thought was a wish list for the summer. He wrote down the three things he most wants to do this summer, and lucky him - he's going to get to do them all.

It got me thinking, however. What do *I* want to do this summer?

And since I can't stop myself with three, here are thirty. Shall I check back on my progress later?

30. Get my pile of magazines to read down from their current seven plus inch pile. If that means throwing some out, I'll find the fortitude.
29. Have a date night with my husband.
28. Get an "exclusive" invite to just one party at BlogHer for a brand I'm passionate about (what, you don't think I'm cool enough? Thanks a lot!)
27. Sign myself up for the summer reading club at the library - and read the minimum 12 books.
26. Update all the binders for the nine (yes, NINE) jobs I had on the PTO this year.
25. Pass off said binders to the new PTO members who will be henceforth responsible.
24. Head out to Old West Town and do some gold panning with the wee ones (and friends).
23. Clean up all my old horse tack and bring it to the second hand horse shop (unless one of you is horsey and wants some really nice stuff cheap - Crosby 15 1/2" saddle, show bridles, bits galore, show boots, a tack trunk, etc).
22. *sniff* Get rid of the last of the baby gear - double strollers, wagon, tricycles, etc.
21. Get 100% caught up on my email - defined as fewer than 50 unread emails in my inbox.
20. Fix the basement from our ejector pump fail last weekend - new carpet, drywall, bifold doors, and all.
19. Move the playroom toys into the newly fixed basement - and sort out those that are no longer played with first.
18. Purchase desks and whiteboard paint to create a homework room in the former playroom.
17. Get caught up on all my paperwork filing.
16. Dejunk the office to the point where I can donate the "I can hold anything" entertainment center that does not belong there.
15. Fully weed the landscaping and get new mulch down (this counts as completed even if I hire someone to do it).
14. Rearrange the storage facilities in the garage such that my husband's car will fit.
13. Sign Little Miss up for gymnastics (which technically starts on Monday, I believe. Oops).
12. Complete the C25K training (Week 4 Day 3 tomorrow!) - even if it's after the 5K that I'm signed up for at BlogHer.
11. Create a more regular bedtime that results in a less tired me.
10. Find time to use the massage gift card my husband gave me for Mother's Day.
9. Have at least five organized playdates for each of the wee ones.
8. Find an outlet for my need for a creative and mental challenge now that I've quit work and the wee ones will both be in school full time this fall. (Suggestions?)
7. Sell or donate all the outgrown clothes of the wee ones. (anyone need girl sizes 2-4T or boys' 3-6T?)
6. Buy a new laptop to replace the one I have to turn in for work - and be happy with my choice. (ummm, again - suggestions?)
5. Get my car detailed.
4. Have a physical.
3. Have an island in the kitchen (and an end table in the family room and a desk in the office and a nightstand in my room and a nook in my car) that is not home to clutter.
2. Set realistic deadlines for projects - and ensure I make each of them.

And the number 1 goal I have for this summer?

1. Enjoy my time with the wee ones - and ensuring they're enjoying their summer, as well!

Yikes. I feel like I need to print out this list now and keep it handy. Did I miss anything?

And what about you - what are you up to this summer?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

Love Shrek? Go enter for a fun Shrek-tacular prize pack here, or do you prefer a $25 Wal-Mart gift card? Then go here.


It's officially summer. Little Miss is finished with school, and Mister Man has only a day and a half remaining (and fifteen green days in a row!). It's also gotten really hot in Chicago - today being the exception, of course - which means that I'm sort of done using the stove or oven for the summer.

I do a lot of chicken grilling, and I use a lot of citrus marinades (ok, a lot of marinades in general). I realized that I haven't posted this one yet, but it's definitely one of our favorites!

And my apologies - I again have no pictures. This is a super easy and fast throw together recipe (as in I did it in eight minutes between conference calls last Thursday), and there are no leftovers once it's cooked!

Grilled Lime Chicken

1/2 c lime juice (squeezing your own tastes much better)
3 cloves garlic, minced (don't use the jarred stuff!)
2 T sugar
1/3 c oil
salt and pepper to taste (you don't need much!)
6 chicken breasts

Mince the garlic, juice your limes (3-4 is about 1/2 c depending on the juiciness of them). Add all the ingredients except the chicken into a container and shake well - or use your blender to whip it together, in which case you may not need to do anything but peel your garlic.

Add your chicken, and let marinate for 2-4 hours. I sometimes cut into strips of chicken to help it cook more quickly and have the taste get into the chicken more if I don't have as much time to marinate it.

Toss it on the grill - cook for 5-7 minutes per side, turning only once. Don't overcook it!

I like to serve mine with rice and corn and other fresh veggies. Yum!

Enjoy this and more with Blessed With Grace and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust

We're getting down to the finals days for a couple of these. If you've been thinking about entering, go do it now - a week of summer day camp for ages 5-12 here, a fun Shrek-tacular prize pack here, or a $25 Wal-Mart gift card here.


Today, I went to the wee ones' t-ball game. It was hot. I really, really didn't want to put on socks and sneakers, even though I knew I should if I was going to be out on the field coaching (ummm yeah, sucker me is also the t-ball coach).

Nope, I instead chose to wear my favorite pair of oh so comfy summer mules that I wear almost daily - alternating with a couple other similar styles. Granted, they've been due for an update in terms of fashion and wear, but I wasn't quite ready to go shoe shopping yet (and ummm yeah, I know it's odd, but I hate shopping for shoes and have probably fewer pairs than my husband does).

On the field of play, I did my usual - drawing of circles for the children in the field to show them "where you live" while playing each position, helping each child get a batting helmet on and ensuring they are all correctly positioned in the batter's box.

All was well, and I was very contentedly looking forward to my post game freezer pop. I changed Mister Man out of his cleats and back into his gym shoes. As I stood up and began walking over to his equipment bag (I use this term loosely, but bear with me), I noticed that walking was a challenge.

For some reason, my right shoe was making it really hard for me to walk. I kept going and finally realized something was wrong - maybe a stick stuck in my shoe?

No. No, it couldn't be that simple. Somewhere in my overuse and misuse of my shoe, I managed to pull apart the leather upper.

R.I.P. my dear mule.

My $1 flip flops from Target that have been my shower shoes at the gym for the past year and a half fortunately stepped up and managed to get me home, but they are not the long term solution.

Anyone want to go shoe shopping with me?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Strategy Number 532,742

We're getting down to the finals days for a couple of these. If you've been thinking about entering, go do it now - a week of summer day camp for ages 5-12 here, a fun Shrek-tacular prize pack here, or a $25 Wal-Mart gift card here.


I treasure my sleep. I like to sleep a lot. I am not a morning person (and really not so much of a night owl either, somehow). I never got over the teenage tendancy of trying to sleep as late as humanly possible before facing the day.

On weekdays, this means I wake up moments before the wee ones and dress at the same time they do before we head downstairs to eat and pack up backpacks. It's possible that there are days I don't brush my hair or anything else until after they've been dispatched to school.

The wee ones, however, are morning people. They wake up chipper and wanting to play - knowing that the days tend to be fairly full, leaving them with less than the amount of time they'd like to do nothing. While they don't get up super early, I have had to institute the rule that they are not allowed to go into each other's rooms to play until at least 7am.

In fact, I don't really need an alarm clock any more, because at 7am ever morning on the dot, I can hear them starting their games, generally in Little Miss's room.

Weekends though... weekends, we don't have to be out the door at 8am. Weekends are when we have a chance to relax a bit more and hang out. And sleep.

Except for the 7am thing.

I've tried getting them to sleep later, but they really just love playing with each other. Even when they agree the night before to sleep in and not play so early or so loud, that promise is forgotten by the time the sun peeks over the horizon.

I came up with a new strategy last night.

At 7am, I heard Mister Man tiptoe into Little Miss's room. He ran back and forth between the door and her bed reading her the sign. Then he explained loudly exactly what it meant

And then he closed her door and went back into her room.  Silence reigned until 7:45 on the dot.

Unfortunately, I was already awake by the time he left her room the first time, so this strategy failed in its mission. I'm back to the drawing board. Maybe I'll go sleep in the basement on weekends? Or send them down there. Hmmm....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

If I Were A Bird, I Could Fly To The Store...

A quick interruption before the post... I still have three giveaways going on. Enter to win a week of summer day camp for ages 5-12 here, a fun Shrek-tacular prize pack here, or a $25 Wal-Mart gift card here.


Yesterday, Mister Man was putting his library books back on the bookshelf where they belong and generally helping me clean up the playroom. Unfortunately, he tripped slightly over the kiddy jumper and stubbed his toe.

I was on the floor about six feet away buried under small pieces of toys that I was trying to sort, and really... it was a stubbed toe, something he unfortunately someday needs to learn to be able to shake off. He immediately lifted his foot off the ground and made the face where he's about to cry.

Hey Mister, c'mon over here, and I'll take a look at your toe.

All I got was a head shake in return.

Remember what I told you before? For something like this, the more you use it, the more blood will go to the area and make it feel better.

Another head shake.

Sweet Pea, come over here if you want me to help you with it.

He started hopping on one foot, something he's really not yet coordinated enough to do, especially not with half a room between us.

My husband piped up then, Just do it like you did when doing the swim test the other day. Remember when you were tired but you found a way to do it even though it was really hard? You just took a deep breath and swam anyway.

Mister Man looked at my husband with a very puzzled look on his face. But Daddy, I'm not in water. How can I possibly swim to you?

Yep, that's my boy... the smartest little kid I know, but sometimes ohhhh sometimes he cracks me up with the things that fly right over his head.

PS He was fine. We got him to play-swim over, and he was fine by the time he reached me. As I figured he would be.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Childhood Scars

A quick interruption before the post... I still have three giveaways going on. Enter to win a week of summer day camp for ages 5-12 here, a fun Shrek-tacular prize pack here, or a $25 Wal-Mart gift card here.


Growing up was always something exciting to me. I remember anxiously awaiting the first day of school when I would get to go to kindergarten, when I got to be a Girl Scout, shaving my legs for the first time - all of them were moments I longed for. Being a grownup was always something full of such mystique for me, and I couldn't wait for it.

I know I'm not alone in this, and the first day of high school, passing the driver's test, going to college, getting married - all those are milestone we look forward to. For most of us, it's only after we've passed these milestones that we look back and realize that maybe the race to grow up didn't need to be quite that much of a focus.

A book I read recently led me to think about this - about how today we're forcing kids to grow up earlier and earlier, and how much they're missing out. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphinne Minoui really brought it home - a ten year old girl, already married and divorced, forced by her circumstances to grow up faster than any child ever should.

The recent video with the dancing seven year olds is another example, although at least (and it's hard for me to even qualify this) - at least their loss of innocence wasn't nearly so visceral.

For me, I was lucky for the most part. I may have moved around a lot as a kid when my dad was transferred, but I was fine with that. My parents loved me, and they didn't put too much pressure on me to grow up any more than behaving in front of company.

It wasn't all sunshine and roses, though, and there are some things where I can still see the scars - relatively minor as the psychological damage may have been.

When I was eight, my mom left my dad and we moved to a small condo where I remember helping my mom clip coupons. I don't remember a ton about that period, but clipping the coupons has stayed with me, along with my mom searching for work and driving a tiny, used two door Ford Escort - the cheapest car she could find. The fear of not having enough money and even of spending has stayed with me since then.

In some ways, this isn't a bad thing, as I've never had any debt problems and do a great job of saving money (hey, it's how we can afford to have me stay home with my husband as a school teacher). However, my reluctance to spend money is sometimes irrational and causes me to miss out on experiences or things that I really ought to - or could - enjoy.

My parents did get back together after less than a year, and they're still together today. When I was twelve, though, I had another experience that still scars me today. My dad went into rehab for alcoholism (successfully, I might add), but it was traumatic at the time. My parents never really did a great job explaining it to me, although I remember my mom sitting my sister and I down and telling us she had some news and then asking us what the first thing Daddy did when he got home from work each night - that's what stuck with me. After our numerous wrong answers (take off his tie, I remember was one of mine), my mom reminded us that he got a drink ("Johnnie Walker, Red and water" my sister and I chirped in a sing-song voice that looking back tells me we maybe saw far too much).

Dating through and after college, that fear stuck with me. I'm not a big drinker, and I never have been (hey - couple a fear of spending money with a fear of becoming alcoholic, and you have someone who doesn't drink much). I never understood the joys of going out to get drunk, and I probably never will.

And I was, and maybe still am, paranoid about that regular drink, like that's the proof that whoever I'm dating is on their way to becoming an alcoholic and recreating the situation my mom faced. Granted, there were a couple guys I dated who probably did achieve that, but most of them? They had no issues - I was the one who had an issue, and inevitably it became an issue in the relationship.

What "happened" to me - or rather, the events of my childhood? Minor. Completely off the radar compared to what it could be. And yet, I can see the impact they had on the person I am today.

Now I try to picture the person I would be today if I were married and divorced by eight years old. And I can't. I can't imagine the scars I'd have, the fear I'd have, the issues I'd face. And it breaks my heart to know that Nujood has yet to grow up to realize the scars she bears - and to know that she is far from alone, that childhood marriage is a regular occurence yet in certain parts of the world.

And if you'll excuse me, I have two children I need to go hug. And some childhoods I need to preserve.

I received the book "I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced" as a member of the Silicon Valley Moms Book Club. There was no compensation involved. Be sure to check out what other SV Moms had on their minds while reading about Nujood.

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