Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Woof Woof

My kids have been home from school for over a week now. I've personally loved the chance to sleep in and be lazy in the morning. It's nice not having to get up and get the kids ready for school. And the kids have been great so far. Almost every morning, they've left little surprises for me to find! Once they left a gallon of milk out on the table. Another day, they left all the couch cushions scattered throughout the house. They've left a roll of toilet paper unwound across the bathroom floor and a dozen plates with melted cheese on them sitting on the counter. They left me a snow boot sitting on the kitchen table and every single toy they got for Christmas on the family room floor. They even left a dozen half-eaten cookies crushed on the kitchen floor once. (Yeah, yeah, I know. But it's a toss-up as to which is worse - cleaning up the messes or getting up early.)

Today was no different. Today, when I got up, I stumbled into the kitchen to make some coffee and stepped in a bowl of water that had been placed on the floor. Some moms might wonder why such an object was on the floor, but not me, oh no. The only thing that went through my head was a small prayer of thanks that it wasn't a bowl of sour milk, or sticky pop, or chili con carne.

As I waited for my liquid energy to drip into my coffee mug, I rubbed my eyes which slowly focused on the kitchen floor. Hmmm, that's interesting, I thought. There were 3 bowls of water and 3 bowls of Cheerios on the floor. Before I could ponder the meaning of this, Jackson, Clayton, and Brooklyn bounded into the kitchen on all fours while yelping and barking. They paused at the dishes to lap up the water with their tongues. I guess they're a little more disturbed than I'd originally thought that Santa didn't bring them a dog. I patted their heads, grabbed my cup of coffee, and wondered to myself why I bought them toys and video games for Christmas when all they needed was a bowl of water and some Cheerio kibble.




Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I think I may have found the way to get out of hosting holiday dinners...

It got worse before it got better. I think my house still smells like smoke today.

On a brighter note, we all had a nice Christmas!

A huge igloo that Austin made. He could lie down in here, completely stretched out, and still have room for more kids.


Meet Patrick Froggy


And Spongebob Froggy. These are Clay's new pets courtesy of his godmother, Denise. Thanks Dee! He loves them!!!


My kids don't let a little snow stop them from enjoying summer-like sports and games.


Here they are playing track ball.

Like the crazed look on Clay's face?

Little Lexi

Aj

Savannah

Brotherly love. Or wrestling on the couch. Something like that.

Princess Brooklyn

Rock on, Jax, rock on.



I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

God Provides a Way

I finished my shopping today. At least, I think I did. And you know what? I had fun doing it. I went out with a smile on my face. (It may or may not have had something to do with the fact that I'd left the kids at home.) I made a conscious decision to be that person who brightens the day of others. Instead of avoiding eye contact, I purposefully smiled at everyone. I wished people a merry Christmas. I started conversations with the cashiers and fellow shoppers in line near me. I put money into the Salvation Army bucket like I always do, but this time I stopped to talk with the gentleman ringing the bell. I've seen this same man ringing the bell at least 5 times this past month as I went to the grocery store. We chatted for a few minutes and wished each other a merry Christmas. And you know what? I had fun! And I know that people walked away from our encounters with smiles on their faces. Oh sure, they might have been smiling to themselves because they thought I was nuts, but I'm going to pretend that a little cheer from me brightened their days and they went on to smile at a stranger in the next store, and he went on to chat with a cashier in the next store, and so on and so forth.

Just be careful when you're out spreading holiday cheer. At one point, I had something in my eye and was blinking like crazy. I rubbed my eye and blinked some more. It still bothered me. I squinted my right eye and blinked a few more times. A little old man, comparing toothpaste brands and prices, looked up at me and, with a smile, winked back. "Oh no! I wasn't winking at you. I mean, you seem like a lovely man and I AM trying to spread holiday cheer today, but my eye, I have something in my eye. My eye hurts. I was just trying to get it out. By winking. But not AT you. Just winking in general. In fact, it wasn't really a wink at all. It was really more like a squinty-eyed blink. Honest. Ahem. OK, so I'm going to finish shopping now. Have a merry Christmas," I stammered as a quickly pushed my cart away. Leave it to me to inadvertently pick up an 84 year-old man at the grocery store.

And now for another Christmas pearl. This one is by Patricia Crisafulli. I met Patricia when I crashed a dinner party she held for Margaret McSweeney, Bonnie St. James, her husband, and son. And she welcomed me into her home like I was an old friend.



A Long Ago Christmas Memory
by Patricia Crisafulli

The old farm on a dirt road in the backwoods of northern New York State was described to me so many times, I can imagine the place, even though I never saw it: the big frame house with the wide porch, the pair of maple trees out front, and the barn in the back where my grandparents kept a cow or two, pigs and chickens, and a team of work horses.

That old house came alive for me in dozens of stories that my mother told, of how she and her sisters grew up there during the Depression. The stories had that long-ago feel not only because of the years that had passed, but also because of the era: tales of riding in a horse and buggy in the summer and a horse and sleigh in the winter. My grandfather owned an old Model A Ford, but the tires were patched beyond repair and there was no money for gasoline.

One story that has always stayed with me was of a particular Christmas in the early 1930s, a time my mother remember as the "depths of the Depression," and there was no money. In order to pay the interest on the mortgage, to keep the bank from foreclosing on the farm, my grandfather needed a relatively small sum. The amount I remember being told was $13, but for the little they had in those days it might as well have been $13,000.

Tested by trouble and sorrows, my grandparents relied on their deep and abiding faith. As Psalm 34 tells us, I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. The answer to their prayers was to be found right in their own backyard with gifts of the earth. My grandmother went into the woods to gather bushel baskets full of ground pine, with green sprouts like miniature boughs that spread in great patches along the earth. From willow branches she made hoops, around which she bound the ground pine to make wreathes.

She sat up all night making wreaths, enough to fill a large hamper basket, which my grandfather strapped to his back. At four in the morning, he hopped a ride on the milk train into Syracuse, where he went door-to-door selling wreathes. Night after night, my grandmother made wreaths, and day after day my grandfather sold them.

As Christmas approached, my grandmother had saved coupons that came in tins of coffee to get a Kewpie doll for her daughters. The only other things she gave them were mittens she knit herself.

Then on Christmas Eve, my grandfather came home from the last day of selling wreaths, exhausted but relieved. The farm was safe for another year. From what he had earned, he had a dime left over, which he spent on his beloved wife to buy her a powder puff. That night, my grandmother gave him her surprise: enough money from selling butter and eggs all year to buy four new tires for the Model A Ford.

Hearing this story as a child, my head was too full of the Sears & Roebuck "Wish Book" catalog to really comprehend it. As an adult, I try to fathom living with no money at all. What lingers in my heart, however, is the love of my grandparents for each other: the dashing young American soldier in World War I and the beautiful French girl he met overseas and then returned to her country to marry.

Many years, thousands of miles, and untold hardships later, that love continued. During a very dark December, they found a way together to keep the farm and the family together. And so it would always be for them.


____________________________________


Patricia Crisafulli is a writer, published author, and founder of www.FaithHopeandFiction.com, a monthly e-literary magazine with stories, essays, and poetry to inspire and entertain.


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A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Life Beautiful

I'm continuing with some more pearls of inspiration today. This one is from a dear friend, Margaret McSweeney. You'll never meet a more generous person. The book, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, is Margaret's project and contains essays like these from some very incredible Christian authors. If you need a last minute Christmas gift, pick up a copy of this inspirational book and you'll not only be blessing the recipient, but a host of others as well because ALL the proceeds of this book are going to WINGS and Hands of Hope, two terrific charities.


Life Beautiful
by Margaret McSweeney


During a quiet moment after Thanksgiving, I started reading my parents' stack of love letters that I recently found in a storage box. As a Christmas gift to you, I would like to share my father's words to my mother written to her during Christmas 1949. This incredible "hug from heaven" has been a tangible affirmation that Pearl Girls has true meaning and great worth for women throughout the world. I pray that God will continue to bless this ministry and outreach. May we all realize that the grit in our lives can be transformed into grace through the love of God.

This is what I found written on a tiny folded card inscribed with "Christmas Greetings" on the front:

Christmas 1949

My Dearest Carolyn,

Truly a jewel is a thing of beauty, but a life that is lived to serve others and to glorify our Christ, such as yours, is my dearest, a far surpassing gem in radiance and beauty.

Pearls to me, symbolize this "Life Beautiful" that you have achieved, Carolyn. Each pearl is a result of a great hurt to the oyster's life. But the little mollusk builds an iridescent coat around this source of hurt, and as a result, the precious pearl comes into being. Life is like that too.

If we, like the pearl, can make of our hurts the basis of a thing of beauty, then we can bear witness to an on-looking world how Christians can overcome through Christ, blows that are seemingly insurmountable.

At this happiest season of the year, I give thanks to God for you, Carolyn - my Pearl of Great Price.

Your Claude

Isn't this an amazing Christmas Pearl? I hope this message has touched your heart, too. Another Christmas gift I would like to share with you: My father's lessons on leadership. These can be found on my guest blog post at Michael Hyatt's website.

During this holiday season, decorate your life with Christmas Pearls --- strands of God's grace-reminders that nothing can separate us from his love, not even the grittiest of circumstances.

And please celebrate the "Pearls of Great Price" in your life through Post a Pearl. It's a fun and free gift that you can share with special people who have been a blessing to you over the years.

Merry Christmas!
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Margaret McSweeney lives with her husband David and two teenage daughters in the Chicago suburbs. She's the founder of Pearl Girls and a published author. Please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/ for more info. You can also find Margaret at her writing blog, From Finance to Fiction or on Facebook and twitter.


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A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!


12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/

Too Precious to Wear

I've been running around the past couple weeks like a chicken with its head chopped off. Why do people say that? "Chicken with its head chopped off". That's disgusting. Do chickens really run around when their heads are chopped off? Wait, don't answer that. I just know some farmer is going to write a comment all about chopping chicken's heads off now. Scratch that whole conversation. Let me start again.

I've been really busy the past couple weeks. Running around, trying to do Christmas shopping, baking cookies, buying Christmas cards, printing pictures to put in the cards, mailing packages, decorating, and trying to keep up with all the usual stuff is wearing me out. Every year, it seems I get farther away from the true reason we celebrate Christmas and I get sucked in farther to the commercialism of the whole thing. I'm about ready to tell the kids all about Santa and start a new tradition of not decorating and not buying presents and not baking cookies and not sending out cards. It's all just so overwhelming.

I went to the mall today. Well, I went to the parking lot of the mall anyway. After driving around for 20 minutes in search of a parking space, any parking space, a parking space 4 1/2 miles away even, I gave up and tried to make my way out of the entire mall-parking-area. That took another 20 minutes. By the time I made my escape onto a main road, I was cursing all of humanity (or at least the portion which holds driver's licenses) and begging Santa to bring me a flying car for Christmas. I really try to stop and think "What would Jesus do?" before reacting. But, then again, Jesus never had to drive among idiots in the Woodfield parking lot on December 21st.

Anyway, I'm trying to reclaim my laid-back, happy, joyful self this week. I'm trying to put all the ridiculouse expectations we put on ourselves in perspective and prepare myself for Jesus's birth instead of Santa's arrival. To that end, I'm posting a few inspirational stories from fellow authors and contributors to the book, Pearl Girls. I hope that these will help you to remember what's important to you in these last few days before Christmas.


Too Precious to Wear
by Sarah Sundin

One Christmas when my mother was a girl, she received a string of pearls from her father. Since her parents were divorced-an unusual situation in the 1950s-she treasured the pearls as a sign of her father's love. When he passed away her senior year in high school, the pearls took on even greater significance.

When I was growing up, my mother talked often about the pearls, but my sister and I never saw them. Mom kept them safe in their silk-lined velvet box tucked in her jewelry box. For dressy occasions, she wore other nice jewelry, but never the pearls.

The pearls were too precious to wear.

What if the strand broke and even a single pearl was lost? What if the clasp broke and she lost them forever? She couldn't risk it. Better to keep them cocooned in silky security.

When my mother offered to let me wear her pearls on my wedding day, I was deeply touched. This was more than "something old" or "something borrowed," but a sign that she trusted me and loved me.

A few days before the wedding, my mother pulled the box from seclusion. My sister and I watched with curiosity and awe.

The pearls had turned a deep grayish-yellow, they were flaking, and some had fallen apart.

They were fake.

For over thirty years, my mother nurtured a piece of costume jewelry. All that time she could have worn them and enjoyed them without worry. Her father gave them to her for a purpose-to wear them and feel lovely and ladylike and special. He didn't mean for her to hide them away.

On our wedding day, my husband gave me a strand of real pearls. They symbolize my husband's sacrificial love for me-they were expensive for a graduate student with half-Scottish blood.

I vowed never to tuck them away but to wear them often. Yes, I'm careful. I inspect the cord and knots and clasp, and I plan to have them restrung when necessary. But I wear them and enjoy them. That's why my husband gave them to me.

Our heavenly Father gives us gifts too-brilliant and costly. We should cherish them, but we should use them. Whether our individual gifts involve serving, teaching, encouragement, evangelism, or even money-they have a purpose. The Lord wants us to use our gifts to bless others and to spread the message of His love.

While pearls make women look lovely, using our God-given gifts for His kingdom makes us even lovelier. And just as pearls grow more lustrous with frequent wear, our gifts from God grow in beauty and strength the more we use them.

This Christmas I plan to wear my string of pearls, a sign of my husband's love-and to display my pearls from heaven, a sign of my Father's love.

Have a lustrous Christmas!

__________________________________


Sarah Sundin lives in northern California with her husband and three children. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. Her first novel, A Distant Melody, historical fiction set during World War II, will be published by Revell in March 2010. Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com or her blog or find her on Facebook.




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A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here. Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it Snow...

I personally hate snow and ice and cold. I'd be fine and dandy if I moved south of the Mason Dixon and never saw another snowflake again. But my kids love it. The minute they see a fresh snowfall, they bundle up and head outside. I've appointed myself the official hot chocolate maker which is an indoor job.

Here's the fort Austin made today...



And the snowman Savannah made. If you look closely, you'll see the celery nose. What? We were out of carrots. My kids are nothing if not creative.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cash, Check, or Charge?

I had some errands to run yesterday so I after I picked up Clay from kindergarten, I headed to the store with Clayton and Brooklyn. We went to Michaels so I could get some meringue powder to make icing for gingerbread men. I put Brooklyn in the cart while we walked around the store, browsing the aisles. Clay calmly walked beside us bounced off the walls and hopped through the store like a kangaroo on crack. Why is it that some children (cough cough BOYS) just don't have the ability to walk? Or be quiet? Or control their impulse to loudly sing Jingle Bells with chicken clucks instead of words throughout the store?

So, we looked around a bit, grabbed a can of meringue powder and headed to check out. This is the time that Clay blasted off and actually went into orbit. He kept trying to swing the cart around, forcing me to play tug of war with him so he wouldn't push the cart into a display of ribbon. He couldn't stand still and ended up smacking the butt of the woman in line by us. "Oops, I'm SO sorry! Please excuse us," I gushed as I nearly dislocated Clay's elbow, yanking him back towards me. Of course we were in the longest line in the history of mankind and the customer a few people ahead of us was digging through her purse for change. "$1.82, $1.83, oh a nickel! Let's see, that makes $1.88, $1.89..."

I resisted the urge to shout, "Oh for the love of Pete! Here's a $5.00! Keep the change!" and instead concentrated on redirecting Clay before he got us kicked out of the store. "Let's play 'I Spy'," I suggested. Then, for good measure, I said, "I bet Brooklyn can guess it before you," just to ensure he'd have to play lest his little sister beat him.

I Spy worked for the next 3 1/2 hours as we inched our way forward in line. When it was finally our turn, I plunked my meringue powder on the counter and opened my wallet to fish out my debit card. It wasn't there. I searched the contents of my purse to make sure it hadn't fallen out. No dice. I looked in my wallet again and noticed that my driver's license was missing as well. "Oh no", I thought to myself. "Not again."

"Brooklyn! Did you take my driver's license and debit card again?"

Her big brown eyes widened for a minute, then she guiltily looked down. "Yes, Mama," she admitted.

"Ugh! Brooklyn!" I moaned.

"I sorry, Mama," she said tearing up.

"Brooklyn, you can't keep taking my license out of my purse. Where did you put it? The usual place?"

"It's in the bathroom," she informed me.

I cannot count how many times I've gone to pay for something at a store only to notice that my debit card is missing. She not only takes my cards, but she swipes Jackson's library card and Austin's school ID as well. And she always puts them in the same spot - between the bathtub and the sink. I have no idea why.

After my unproductive trip to the store, I came home and gave Austin a new job - making pretend credit cards, library cards, and a driver's license for Brooklyn out of laminated card stock so she'll stop stealing mine!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Giveaway

I'm giving away a Sony Reader Pocket Edition ($199.99 value) on my review blog. Check it out HERE!

Monday, December 14, 2009

You're Going to Feel a Little Pinch

I went to the dentist today because he told me I had a cavity that needed filled when he cleaned my teeth 6 months ago recently. Because the cavity wasn't enough, I also broke a tooth a couple months ago recently that needed to be fixed as well. My parents aren't exactly the "We haven't seen the grandkids in weeks, can we come over?" type people so I try to refrain from asking them to babysit unless absolutely necessary. For example, a couple weeks ago when I needed to go to the ole gyno for a pap smear, I called them. Somehow, when you put it in that perspective, it doesn't seem so imperative to have a babysitter lined up when you need a filling at the dentist.

I really hate going to my dentist. I mean, I like the dentist as a person and if he was say, my accountant, I'd be delighted to see him, but then again, accountants rarely come at you with 4 foot needles and the lie, "Now you're going to feel a little pinch and some pressure." Pinch and pressure! Yeah right. One of these days, I'm going to reach out and pinch his arm and say, "Now THAT'S a pinch. Jabbing a needle in my MOUTH is not a pinch!"

So, the dentist is drilling away and my skull is vibrating. Literally, little fault lines started cracking open on my skull as he worked on my tooth. At one point, Clay walked over, peered in my open mouth and said something like, "Ewww, why is there blood?" The dentist dismissed him with a, "There's no blood" answer. However, I could see red trickling up the little sucky thing in my mouth. No blood? Well, it isn't cherry Kool Aid! How does a tooth bleed? Does your tooth actually bleed? Or is the blood the result of the swallow factor?

You know what I mean? When the dentist has your mouth pried open, and half a dozen instruments of death are in there along with his hands and you feel this need to swallow, but you don't want to swallow. And the more you try not to swallow, the more you have to swallow until you're consumed with the impossible task of trying not to swallow because you just know that if you give in and swallow, the motion of your jaw is going to send the drill on a trajectory that will cause it to bore into your gums, spewing a river of blood down your throat which will, of course, incite that swallowing reflex yet again. Or maybe it's just me who does that. Hmmm, I should really look into these things, maybe do a little research, or take some surveys, before writing about such stuff and letting the world know just what kind of nonsense goes on in my brain...

Anyway, after the drilling for blood extravaganza, he started to fill my teeth. I don't, quite frankly, know how I even have any tooth left to hold fillings. My teeth are beginning to rot right out of my head. It's only a matter of time until I look like this.


As my dentist was filling my teeth, Brooklyn came over and asked him, "Can I have a napkin?" Yeah, I have no idea why she wanted a napkin. Maybe she was snacking on toothpaste while the dentist had his hands in my mouth and I couldn't watch her. Anyway, she kind of leaves off the "P" when she says the word "napkin" so the dentist didn't understand her. She repeated it. "Can I have a nakin?" Still puzzled, he stared at her. I tried to translate, but since my mouth was numb and presently contained a drill, a sucky thing, a wad of cotton, and 2 hands, it came out like this, "Xhe wancia akin." Oddly enough, the dentist understood that.

On the bright side, the kids were really good. (I had bribed them with gum which, in retrospect, was probably not the best thing with which to bribe them while AT THE DENTIST), but it worked. They spent the whole time playing with their favorite video game system, a.k.a.- mom's phone. And I have a whole 2 weeks now when I can claim to have perfectly wonderful teeth before I go back for my cleaning at which point, he'll tell me I have 3 more cavities...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Julia Child, I'm Not



I guess this is why I'm not allowed to host Thanksgiving dinner anymore.



If this is how you cook a turkey, then you need some help! Click on over to my review blog to see the latest from Kraft and enter to win one of two baskets full of Kraft goodies! Click HERE!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Can You Hold This?

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I was pregnant with my first baby 16 years ago. I was going to be a mom. My job would include diapering, feeding, rocking, and caring for my baby. Simple, right? I was clueless I had it all figured out. I had no idea, however, that I would also turn into a chauffeur, a garbage can, a maid, a broken record, or a coat rack. Yep, I'm a coat rack. We went to Clay's Christmas program at school tonight. We got there a half hour early and were greeted to an overflowing cafeteria with standing room only. One by one, the kids peeled off their winter coats and thrust them at me. "Will you hold this?"

"Because there's something wrong with your arms and you can't?" I asked. They laughed and ran off with their friends.

"No, seriously!" I called in a futile attempt to get them to retrieve their outerwear.

I stood there, wobbling from the weight of 7 coats tossed haphazardly into my arms. I couldn't see around the mountain of Gore-tex. I turned this way and that, looking for a safe spot to put the coats, but since we were standing at the back of a crowded lunchroom, there was no place to set them. I was the official coat rack. Wait, scratch that. I was more than a coat rack because just then Lexi ran back to me and tried to hand me her Cyber Pocket video game. Of course, I didn't have a hand available to take the proffered game, so instead of holding it herself, Lexi precariously balanced it on top of the coats. This was about the time Brooklyn decided the purse she'd brought was too heavy to carry. You know, the purse I told her to leave in the car. The purse that was filled with a Barbie, lip gloss, 2 crayons, a half-eaten chocolate chip cookie, a snowflake cut from my last sheet of copy paper, a spare Christmas tree light bulb, a bracelet, a bottle of nail polish, a coupon for a can of Carnation evaporated milk, and a pair of socks. You know, because you just never know.

As the concert went on, my kids asked, "Mom, do you see Clayton? Mom? Mom? Where'd she go?" they questioned each other as they stared at the mound of coats on the floor where I'd once been standing. I wearily raised a hand from under a hot pink, size 3T jacket.

"I'm down here," came my muffled reply. "And we're moving to Florida where people don't even own winter coats," I added.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

GO TO BED!!!

My kids have been having bedtime issues. Issues in that they're simply not going to bed without a prerequisite 40 trips to the bathroom, 2 dozens glasses of water (kinda goes hand in hand with the field trips to the bathroom), 15 stories, 2000 kisses, 58,000 times to get out of bed and tell or ask me something all-important like, "I want waffles for breakfast", or "How can Santa get to all the houses in the world in one night?", or "Is a T-Rex bigger than our house?", or "Why are babies small?"

And let's not forget the lavender lotion rubbed on their backs because someone had the brilliant idea to tell them that lavender was magical and would make them fall asleep right away. This would be the same lavender lotion that Lexi had an allergic reaction to. She broke out in a rash all over her back. After showering the lotion off and taking some Benedryl she stopped itching and passed out asleep. "Benedryl for everyone!" I shouted. "Get in bed, everyone!" I shouted.

Of course, the next day, I didn't think to give Lexi a dose of Benedryl before school. She got itchy. She went to the nurse. The nurse thought she had some contagiousness that needed to be contained immediately. I had to pick her up. I had to keep her home today too (or pay to take her to the germ-infested doctor's office to get a note that states she's allergic to the stupid lavender lotion.) Now, don't get me wrong, the nurse was doing her job. She doesn't know what the deal is and has to make sure all the students are protected, but from my perspective, it's frustrating. Lexi, on the other hand, was happy to have the day off so she could play in the 80 feet of snow we got.

OK, back to bedtime. Here's the thing. I know all about bedtime. I'm not new to this bedtime thing. I've been doing it for 15 years. I know how to get kids calmed down and ready for sleep. I've written articles for Goodnites on the subject, for crying out loud. So, what is it? Is it just the time of year? Kids don't get to run off enough energy during the day because of the cold weather outside? They're all crazy-excited about Christmas? They start counting sheep, but the sheep whisper, "Let's get out of bed and plaaaaay!"? Actually, scratch that last one. If imaginary sheep are talking to your kids, maybe it's time to cut back on the hallucinogens in their bedtime snack.

I threatened the kids that if they keep goofing off at night instead of going to sleep, I'm going to make them go to bed a half hour earlier every night until they learn to settle down and go to sleep right away. At this rate, they're going to be going to bed at lunchtime.

If this is happening to you too, know this is a phase that will pass. It's happened before and it'll happen again. In the meantime, keep your cool at bedtime. Continue to stick to your routines, bath, snack, storytime, soothing music, or calm tv shows, whatever the usual schedule is at your house. Eventually, they'll get back to their regular routines. And in the meantime, maybe feed them large tryptophan-laden meals for dinner.

Blog Post

Thanks for the reminders! I totally forgot to pick a winner for the Bugsby reading system! I'm so sorry. Here's the winner of the Bugsby reading system -

TaraB said...
Hello!

I would love this for my 2 children (4&6). We have been back and forth trying to decide which one to get. My 4 year old spent half an hour playiing eith this in the store and I can't usually even get him to sit through a 5 minute story book!

Congratulations and thank you so much for your patience! Please email me at mom2my6pack@aol.com so I can get this out to you before Christmas.

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And please take a minute to send a holiday ecard to your friends by clicking HERE. For every ecard sent, Kraft will donate 10 meals to Feeding America!

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I went to a book launch event Thursday night at the Comedy Sportz Theater in Chicago. It was a fun night for everyone! I ended up having to bring 4 of my kids and even though they were bored to tears a little less than enthusiastic, they were awesome. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Dominick's had donated all these trays of food and bottles of sparkling lemonade. Brooklyn ate like 4 pounds of shrimp and they must have put away at least 16 gallons of lemonade. It was a great night and I was so happy to be included among such fun (and funny) ladies!


Sara from SelfMadeMom, Beth from RoleMommy, Vanessa from ChefDruck, and me


Beth Rosen, Sara Fisher, Marcia Hansen, Nancy Loo, Beth Feldman, Vanessa Druckman, me, and Miss Lori

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Then, on Saturday, I was at a book signing for Pearl Girls. This book was put together by a dear, sweet, wonderful woman, Margaret McSweeney (who, I'm pretty sure, knows everyone on earth!) and features inspirational essay from 66 women! All the proceeds from this book are going to help two organizations: Wings and Hands of Hope.


Brooklyn found an interesting place to sit. Then she spilled a full cup of hot chocolate on the floor, but somehow we managed to not get kicked out.

Need quick, easy, inexpensive holiday gift ideas? Here are 3 great books (if I do say so myself)! Because I Said So, Pearl Girls & See Mom Run!

You can click my book page HERE to order the first two from your favorite bookseller. You can click HERE to get See Mom Run.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Recipe for Joy

I don't know what it's like to live on the streets and get your meals from a garbage can. I don't know what it's like to wait in line at a soup kitchen for some nourishment. But I do know what it's like when money's tight and you have to borrow $5 from your kids to buy milk and bread to hold you over until your next paycheck. And picturing people who don't have enough to eat is always just a little harder this time of year.

Kraft is running the “Recipe for Joy” E-Card Contest where bloggers have a chance to receive a $1,000 donation to their local Feeding America food bank in their name! Kraft Foods has teamed up with Feeding America to donate up to one million meals to needy families this holiday season. For every free e-card sent, Kraft Foods will donate 10 meals to Feeding America*. How cool is that, right?

So, here's the deal. I'm competing against a dozen other bloggers and I like to win. I may possibly be a little obsessed about winning. I want to beat all the other bloggers and win $1000 donated to my local Feeding America food bank! But I need your help. Don't worry, there's something in it for you.

First, it's super-easy. You don't have to cook or shop or volunteer at the food bank. All you have to do is go
HERE and send a FREE holiday greetings e-card to your friends and family and coworkers and people you knew in high school, and fellow church members, and heck, send one to your whole address book!

Your friends and family will get a nice personalized greeting from you. There's even a button they can click to get some yummy holiday recipes like chocolate-vanilla swirl cheesecake! Mmmmm! PLUS, for every e-card sent, Kraft will donate 10 meals (up to one million meals) so you can feel very good about doing a small thing to help out in a big way.

Now this contest started the 23rd, so I'm already a week behind the other bloggers, and it runs through December 31. So get clicking! Go
HERE to send your free e-cards now!

* Feeding America directly supports 205 member food banks. Kraft Foods is a long standing partner of Feeding America. Over the last 25 years, Kraft Foods has contributed $770 million in funding and food to support Feeding America and other hunger relief initiatives worldwide. By partnering with organizations, such as Feeding America, Kraft Foods provides much-needed food to hungry people throughout the United States. For more information about Feeding America, log on to
http://www.feedingamerica.org/. Meals are used for illustrative purposes only. Kraft Foods has set a goal of donating the monetary equivalent of 10 meals for each e-card sent, up to a cap of one million meals. Feeding America's meal conversion is effective until June 30, 2010.

I have not received any compensation for this post.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, home of the biggest ball of mud, it's Sunday sound out with your host who never sleeps, Dawn Meehan!

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! Except my readers from other countries. Not that I hope you guys had a bad Thanksgiving or anything. I just figure you probably don't celebrate Thanksgiving. But, just in case, any of my readers from other countries do, in fact, celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a wonderful holiday! OK, I'll stop talking now.

We went to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. My sister and her family were at her inlaws so it was a small gathering. Basically, my mom went nuts cooking an entire grocery store's worth of food, I ate until I nearly threw up, and my kids ran around the place like feral children who were being introduced to society for the first time. My mom did a great job of not stressing out as my children repeatedly broke the sound barrier although I have a feeling she might have downed a bottle of wine after we left. Just kidding, Mom. Thanks for dinner!

Now, here are the answers to this week's burning questions...

Hi, Dawn. I am into the third chapter of your book. My question is after the first few children, did you "plan" to have the rest of the brood? Did you go through a list of apprehensive "what-ifs"?
Honestly, we only "planned" to have 2. We only "tried" for the first 2. I never went back and forth in my mind, weighing the pros and cons of having more kids. I never made a conscious decision to have 6. It just sorta happened. Some days I'd like 6 more. Others, I'd like 6 less. Just kidding. Sort of. (Hey, I had all 6 home nonstop for the past 5 days. I've never heard so much fighting in my life. Give me a break.)

You make fun of St. Louis style pizza and yet you serve "flat" pizza to your guests?
Yeah, but there's a difference between "flat" Rosatti's pizza and St. Louis pizza (aka - a matzo cracker covered with ketchup and goo). :::running away before angry St. Louisians throw cracker-pizza at me:::

Well don't leave us hanging! Where's the finished project [cheer DVD] for us to see?? :)
Eh, you don't want to see that. It's over 20 minutes long and it's kinda boring. It was just for the girls so they could watch themselves over and over and over and over again...

Repeat after me, "I am NOT Superwoman. I WILL toss that cape. I CAN ask for help. I WILL ask for help."
I am NOT Superwoman. I WILL toss that cape. I CAN ask for help. I WILL ask for help. Now, can anyone help me find my cape?

I'm wondering why you didn't hire Austin to do it for you in the 1st place ;)
Austin? MY Austin? The kid who had 5 days to make up his missing homework assignments especially since he wasn't allowed tv and video games, yet still has incomplete work? That Austin? Oooo boy, that's funny!

Were there any Cheerios inside [the arm rests of Brooklyn's carseat] ? Or Polly Pockets?
Nope, but funny you should mention Polly Pockets. I did find a little plastic Polly Pocket shoe and an empty Sonic tots container, and a piece of string cheese in the back of my van the other day! They'd been there since the Mesozoic Era. I don't even know what the Mesozoic Era is. It sounds good though. I need sleep.

Ps.....how about before bed drinking some Plum Wine !
If you insist. :::going to pour a glass:::

Can't remember if Brooklyn is still in bed with you at night, wriggling and disturbing your sleep?
I guess I never showed you guys the pictures! We bought Brooklyn her own bed a couple months ago. She slept in it without any problems at all for a whopping TWO nights! Then she decided it was too scary to sleep alone and she took over Lexi's bed. Sooo, thankfully, other than an occasional night, she's out of my bed. She's Lexi's problem now!

The girls' room...


Lexi's bed (now known as Lexi's AND Brooklyn's bed) on top and Brooklyn's bed (now known as the toy box) on the bottom.


Savannah's bed atop Savannah's and Lexi's dressers


Brooklyn's dresser


I die if it's 69 in my house. And get pissed off. I usually need it to be 70 or 71. And still need socks on most nights!
Thank you!!! I was really starting to feel like a weirdo for complaining that my house was 62. 62 is COLD! I can't believe how many of you keep your houses that cold on purpose. More power to you! I like a nice 68 degrees personally.

OK, do you watch a lot of "Phineas and Ferb" or am I the only one that thinks of them whenever someone says "Yes, Yes I am."??
I watch so much Phineas and Ferb, in fact, that I snicker everytime my New York friends mention the "tri-state area". Oooo, oooo! Speaking of my New York friends.... one of my NY friends,
Beth Feldman from Role Mommy is coming to town! Wanna know why? Of course you do! Because she's got this book, See Mom Run and it's full of essays from awesome bloggers like ME! And the book tour includes a stop in Chicago THIS Thursday! So, anyone in the area, please come out and see us attempt a little stand-up at
The Comedy Sportz Theatre
929 West Belmont Avenue
Chicago, IL
Thursday, December 3
from 5:00-7:00



AND... that's not all! Some local contributors (including ME!) of Margaret McSweeney's book Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace will be on hand to sign books on
Saturday, December 5
from 2:00 - 4:00
at the Barnes and Noble in Deer Park
Deer Park Town Center
20600 North Rand Road
Deer Park, IL

Come to the book signing and support the work of Hands of Hope and Wings!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

BRRRRR!!!

I think I may be a vampire. Although I don't have a hankering for blood or anything. And I'm pretty sure I don't turn to dust (or sparkle) in the sunlight. And I like garlic. Not sure about the stake through the heart or holy water. OK, so maybe I'm not a vampire afterall, but I can no longer sleep at night. I haven't slept well at night for so long that I cannot even remember the last time I slept a straight 8 hours at night. Most of the time, however, I could probably sleep all day. Wait, let me rephrase that. Physically, I could sleep all day, but realistically, with the 400 kids who are usually at my house, I couldn't possibly actually sleep during the day. But last night was especially bad. I lay in bed shivering for hours. Shivering! Me! The woman who awakes in a puddle of sweat, the woman who is always hot, the woman who can't stand to wear long sleeves or anything on her feet because it makes her too warm. Yeah, that woman. Yet, last night, I lay awake until after 3:00, just freezing.

I finally got up the energy to crawl from the relative comfiness of my many blankets and brave the iciness of my house in order to check the thermostat. It was 62.

Today, I gave my 329th "Do not touch the frippin thermostat under penalty of death" speech to the kids. Of course, all 6 of them unanimously agreed that "Notme" was the culprit. I'm buying a fingerprinting kit. Oh yeah! Who has the last laugh now, Notme?!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Introducing Bugsby


Join Bugsby the Book Worm on a magical reading adventure! Your children will love reading along and interacting with their favorite characters as they build early reading skills. Kids will fall in love with reading as they have fun listening to stories read aloud by their new reading pal, Bugsby.


Awhile back I did some reviews of both the Leapfrog Tag reading system and the Poingo reading system. Although I liked both of them overall, there were some features on each that I really disliked. The Poingo system had a nice pen and a good price, but there are only 6 books available with this system. The Tag system has a much wider selection of titles to go with it, but the tip of the pen is sharp and can tear up the pages of the book if your child presses down too hard, and it's a little pricier. With both of these systems, you have to go online to download books to the pen and the pen only holds a few books at a time.


The new Bugsby reading system by VTech has the best features, in my opinion. The pen is a nice chunky shape, easy for little hands to hold, with no sharp tips that can gouge the pages of the book.



There are 8 titles available with this system to keep your kids busy. And the best feature of all, is that each book comes with a cartridge that slips right into Bugsby's little backpack.



You don't need to spend hours online downloading software and information for each title. Just pop the cartridge into the pen and read/play with the book. When you're finished, store the cartridge in the included holder on each book!



On the VTech Kids website, you and your child can create your own Bugsby story online. It's fun to do and you'll get 10% off Bugsby products when you give it a try HERE!


VTech has a Bugsby reading system to give away to one lucky reader! What a great idea for a Christmas present! Just leave me a comment here and I'll choose a random winner on Monday, November 30. Good luck!


* I have been paid to work with VTech on some promotions and did receive a Bugsby reading system to try out, however, as always, I only give my honest opinions on products I review.

Money-Saving Tip #87

People always ask me, "How can you afford to have 6 kids, especially in this economy?" I'm frequently asked for money-saving tips. Oftentimes, my kids come up with brilliant cash-saving ideas that I never would have thought of on my own. For example, yesterday, Brooklyn showed me that the arm rest padding from her car seat can double as slippers. Because of her ingenuity, I just saved $15-$20 on slippers for Brooklyn!




Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm baaaaack!

I'm baaaaack! Didja miss me? I have a good excuse for not blogging for (gasp!) an entire week! OK, well maybe it's not a good excuse, but it is an excuse...

Lexi had her cheer showcase last Sunday at which point I took the last pictures and video tape for the cheer season. Then I began to work on putting all the pictures and video clips together to make a DVD of the girls' highlights. I needed to have the video done by the end-of-season banquet yesterday so I could give copies to all the girls on the squad and the two absolutely awesome high school coaches who donated their time and talent to teach our girls. Seriously, these coaches were so incredibly terrific that all the cheerleaders were crying as they said goodbye to the coaches at the banquet yesterday because they're going to miss them so much.


So, I was busy working on this video, editing pictures, cutting video segments, and choosing music for the video. I went through the collection of music on my iPod and picked out a couple songs to use in the video. I asked Savannah what she thought about my song choices. She quickly browsed my library of music and said, "Seriously, Mom? Seriously???" She rolled her eyes and said something along the lines of, "You don't have any non-old people music!" She took out her own iPod and played song after song for me, telling me which ones would be good for the cheer video. Thanks to her, I now have non-old people music on my iPod by such legends as Lady Gaga, Iyaz, Ke$ha, and Miley Cyrus (or is it Hannah Montana?) I don't even know how to pronounce these names! How exactly does one pronounce a dollar sign?

Although I've taught myself how to make a video with Windows Movie Maker and consider myself fairly savvy, I had no idea how to get music from my iTunes library over to WMM.

After messing around for hours, I finally figured out I could put the cheer songs into a playlist, burn a CD with them, then rip the CD and import into WMM. <---does that sound like Chinese to anyone else? There's gotta be an easier way to do that, but alas, I couldn't figure it out. In the end, I got my music, pictures, and videos organized and started arranging them. I worked on it for a couple more hours then saved the project and went to bed.

The next evening, when I tried to open the project to work on it, it was nowhere to be found. Argh! My computer geek friend (always good to have computer geek friends!) said he could probably retrieve it for me, but I knew I couldn't wait until I had time to have him look at my computer so I started all over again. I worked for another 6 hours or so and had the video about half finished. I made absolutely certain I saved it this time. All's great. I have a couple more days to work on it. I'm halfway there. No problems.

The next morning, I had the brilliant (and by "brilliant", I mean "completely "UNbrilliant"!) idea to clean out and organize all my picture folders. I have about a bazillion (give or take one or two) large-file photos on my computer and I think they're starting to slow things down, so I condensed them, organized them, and put some on CDs and deleted them. A little later, when I opened my video project to resume work on the movie, guess what I saw. Yep, a whole bunch of little red Xs where my photos used to be. My idea to rearrange my picture folders and put all the cheer pics into the same folder? Notsogood. Again, there was probably a way to save the whole mess, but I was so mad and frustrated at this point, I just deleted the whole darn thing and started all over again.

Meanwhile, my power cord which had broken and was a little touchy, stopped working altogether. The only way I could use my computer was to hold the power cord "just so" while typing and moving pictures around one-handed. Every time my right hand cramped up from holding the cord, the computer would stop charging and I'd have to spend a good 10 minutes wiggling the cord around until I got it to start charging again. This is the biggest reason I didn't blog last week. What a huge pain in the butt it was to finish the video this way. I just didn't have it in me to try to push the cord in enough so that I could check mail or blog with only my left hand.

Thanks to my computer geek friend (have I mentioned how important it is to have computer geek friends?), I was able to get a good deal on a new power cord and it was shipped super-quickly so I'm back in business now! Oh and I did finally finish the video. Of course, when I went to burn the copies, after taking half an hour or more per copy, they didn't work. Every DVD I burned had a glitch and would stop playing at some point during the movie. Thankfully, Austin stepped in, transferred everything to his computer and burned the copies lickety-split for me.


Sooo, all is well. My video is done. Cheer is done. My computer is working once more. And next year when I open my big mouth and say, "I can make DVDs for everyone!", for the love of God, someone slap me!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Sound Out

It's Sunday. I'm answering your questions from the week. Then I'm going to bed. I may or may not have a glass of wine and stuff a wad of cotton in my ears to drown out my kids' incessant fighting tonight.

You always amaze me with your cakes?!Did you take any courses or something?
Thank you and yes, yes I did.

Do you use something,(like a picture), to help you design these cakes or do you use a pre-made pattern ?
For the pineapple one, I used a picture of SpongeBob's house and a picture of an actual pineapple and kinda combined them. Usually I use a picture of some sort as a guide for the cakes I make.

Um...That's a pretty FLAT pizza behind Austin's cute face. I thought y'all Chicagoans only ate pizza that rivals lasagne in depth!!! Please explain!

Yes, yes it is. That's Rosati's. Good pizza, but not CHICAGO pizza. We usually get that for parties because, when you're balancing a plate on your lap, it's easier to eat "flat pizza" than Lou's.

*gasp* You are admitting that you defaced a library book?!?!?

Defaced? Oh heck no! I increased its value by signing it! You know, because I'm all famous and everything.

Now that Austin is 15 (!), don't you think it is time for sidebar picture updates?
Yes, yes I do. In fact I was just talking to my web designer about that very thing!


I was shocked to see how grown up Austin looked in the picture you posted! How's he doing in school now that he's had time to adjust to the honors classes?
Don't ask.

So.. hows that going for you Dawn? Are they hanging up their coats yet?

No comment.

Too funny! How did you get Clay and Brooklyn to have such serious faces [in the video]? How many takes did that take?

Amazingly enough, I didn't even have to tell them to act bored. It was almost as if they really were bored with the whole coat hanging demonstration! Inconceivable, I know!

Clayton has the best laugh EVER! Thank you for the morning giggle!

Yeah, it's pretty contagious. If he ever figures that out, he'll be able to get away with murder.

ha! lol! would use it, but here in south Louisiana, you really only wear a coat once a year when there's a freakish below 80 day!

Now was that really necessary?!!!

Holy MOSES - Austin became, like, a real man-boy since I've seen him.

I know. :( They grow up so darn fast! But, on the bright side, he helped me hang up the Christmas lights outside because he's taller than I am and he climbed on the roof to clean out the gutters while he was up there! :)

And to those of you who still think there are no half gallons of ice cream in the world...

"Anyway, I wanted to mention that your SSO question from another reader about ice cream containers is correct. Most ice cream containers are no longer 1/2 gallons; rather, they have shrunk the size down to 1.75 or even 1.5 quarts!"

"Hate to tell you, dear, but the half gallon cartons of ice cream? They're only 1.5-1.75 gallon now."




HA! HA!!! In your face! Take that! I WIN!!! I mean, ahem, yes, yes, they do still make half gallons of ice cream. You just have to know what brands to look for.


And now, it's bedtime for me. Goodnight Seattle!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My New Invention

I have the best idea for an invention! Now, if I could only find someone to make my plans into reality! I think a lot of people could use this. I could make millions with it! Parents the world over would thank me for coming up for such a useful, helpful, sanity-saving invention! Let me explain...



Scene One: your 5-year-old



Mom?

What?

Can, umm, I have, umm, wait Mom, when are we, umm, when are we going to go to the store?

In a few minutes.

Mom, can I have gum if I'm good?

We'll see.

Mom, look at this! Mom? Mom, see what I can do?

Wow!

Mom, can, umm, Mom, can you do this? hopping on one foot with other leg behind his neck

Not likely.

Mom, do you know where my puppy is?

Where did you put it? Look in your bed.

Mom, do you like my puppy?

Yes, I like your puppy.

Can I feed my puppy?

Only PRETEND food!

Mom, umm, what do puppies eat?

Real puppies eat dog food. Stuffed animals eat pretend food.

Mom, why is this white?

I don't know! 'Cause it's a white dog!

Mom?

Yes?

Mom, umm, I forgot what I was going to say. Oh yeah! Mom?

What?

Umm, I forgot again. Oh yeah, Mom?

WHAT???

Umm, what's my puppy's name?

I don't know. Did you give him a name?

Mom? Umm, Mom, can I have a sucker?

Yes (Maybe it'll shut your mouth for a few seconds. I didn't say that out loud, did I?!)

Mom, will you get the candy down for me?

Yes

Mom, Brooklyn won't let me, umm, Brooklyn won't let me have any.

sigh

Mom?

What?

Mom, can you set up Wii for me?

Yes

Mom, look at this! Mom, are you looking? Mom, see what I can do? Mom, umm, should I play bowling or baseball? Umm, Mom, look at me! Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!

Calgon, take me away!!!


(Actual audio from Clayton which has been transcribed for your reading pleasure)



Scene Two: your 15-year-old



Hey there! How was school?

boring

Do you have a lot of homework?

No.

How did you do on your math test?

I dunno.

How do you think you did? Did you know the answers?

I guess.

Weren't you cold walking home with just your sweatshirt

grunt/eyeroll combo

OK then. Nice talking to you.


My invention will take half a preschooler/young child's words and transfer them to a teenager. Voila! Now you have two kids who each speak an appropriate, middle-of-the-road amount of words. This invention could conceivably work for husbands and wives as well! Oh the possibilities are endless! Think about it! Husbands who can say more than a dozen words a day and wives who can say less than 40 million words a day! It will revolutionize relationships everywhere!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Coat Hanging 101

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, the city that had its first day of summer this weekend, it's Sunday Sound Out starring the ultimate winner of the fun-filled game Balderdash, Dawn Meehan!

How are things going with you and Joe? I would love to hear how everything is at your house and how I can pray for you both and the kids specifically.
Things suck, but I'm doing what I have to do for me and the kids. But it's ok because God is amazing and can use any situation for good.

How much one on one Mommy time does she [Brooklyn] have now?
We have all morning, just the two of us. Sometimes we run errands, sometimes we go to the library, sometimes we go back and snuggle in bed while watching Little Bear tapes. We always read 50,000 books and usually play dolls. She's very cuddly and sweet and I'll miss her when she goes to school.

Look at how organized your videos are! Was this the 30 seconds following straightening them? Mine NEVER stay that neat for very long!
Yeah, I'm a little insane about organizing stuff like that. The more things in my life that I can't control, the more obsessed I get about organizing my house.

Advice: How does one keep preschoolers from trying to sit on the bagging area. It's some sort of gravity field, some of impossible temptation....
Duct tape them in the grocery cart.

Dawn,they don't make half gallons of ice cream anymore.Lise
Of course they do. Every store I shop at sells store brands of ice cream in half gallon boxes.

Does your library have self-check?
I think so, but I've never used it. There's never a line to check out books, so I've not looked into the self-check there. The last time I was at my library, I grabbed my book off the shelf and signed it to the library! Hee hee
Speaking of, you can still get a signed copy of Because I Said So
HERE.

How do you use your own bags in self check?
Honestly, the self check-outs I usually use are at Jewel (local grocery store) and they have a mini conveyor belt that leads to a bagging area (that isn't a scale). After ringing up my order, I just move down and bag my groceries in whatever bags I want to use. And unlike 98% of all humankind, I know how to use the order divider so the next person in line can start ringing up their order while I pack mine.

Dawn - I'm very excited to take my family to this amazing show [Zing Zang Zoom circus]. I'm having troubles entering the MOM code for the discount. Can you provide any more information as to which spot on the ticketmaster screen we enter this. I'm fairly computer savvy and have tried a few possibilities and it will not show the discount price. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Meghan would be happy to walk anyone through the process to ensure you get your discount. Feel free to email her at
mdaly@momcentral.com.

We celebrated my oldest son's birthday this weekend. Well, at least some of us did. My mom is mad at me so she refused to come. Apparently she talked my grandmother out of attending as well. sigh The rest of us had fun though. Our close friends stayed late while we played Pictionary and Balderdash and had a terrific time. I hadn't laughed so hard in a long time. The kids were absolutely hilarious. It's nice now that most of them are old enough to join in the games.


Here's my big 15-year-old who now towers over me.


The 14 inch tall cake...


frosted orange...


Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Austin thought the cake was cool, but didn't eat a single bite. He doesn't actually like cake. Maybe next year I'll decorate a cheesecake or a pie for him.

Austin didn't eat the cake, but as I sat here typing this, I noticed Clay get out of bed and walk through the kitchen 3 times. I finally went to see what his deal was and why he kept getting up to go to the bathroom. Know what he was doing? Every time he walked through the kitchen, he reached out and grabbed a handful of cake on his way back to bed. Stinker!

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