Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time for a tight squeeze

I am at a very blessed place right now. I have two little ones who are both in cuddle phases.

I sat with Zoodle a little while ago in the rocking chair in his room. The light was off. He was full and sleepy, dressed in soft, footed PJs. I held him close, and he snuggled in, resting his head contentedly on my shoulder.

Getting Chickie to bed had been stressful; she was hyped, and I was impatient. As I held my little boy and slowly rocked, I could feel the tension immediately diminish. I reflected on how incredible physical touch can be, and how much the hugs of my children heal me.

And yet it can sometimes be so hard for me to stop the cooking or reading or typing I'm doing, to respond positively to my daughter's plea, "I need some love, Mommy!" I need the healing touch of the people I love; I just have to take the time to receive such a precious gift.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tweet, tweet

Are you on Twitter? I'm guessing your response is one of the following:

a. Yeah, I LOVE Twitter!
b. Yes, I'm signed up for it but don't really see what the big deal is.
c. No. I know what it is, and it sounds really stupid.
d. What's Twitter?

I'm definitely in the "a" category. But for those of you in the "d" category, here's a brief description: On Twitter, you can update your "Followers" (not cultish, I promise) on what's going on in your life. The trick is, you only have 140 characters for each "tweet" (update)--and spaces count. On your Twitter homepage, you'll see, in a simple, easy-to-read format, all the updates that have been left by those you choose to follow. You can even use Twitter on your phone if you're into text messaging. (I'm not.)

My tweets in the last few days have included the following:

Chickie just poopied in the potty, on her own, without me even asking her to. I got tears in my eyes. (From the happiness, not the stink.) (138 characters)

The Onion drinkware--very funny (5 characters)

Jaw dropping here--WOW, Melissa Rivers just made QUITE A SCENE on The Celebrity Apprentice. Joan wasn't exactly mature either. Yikes! (133 characters)

You can also carry on conversations with others on Twitter...and a tweet is so much faster than an e-mail, which helps me to keep up with people in an efficient way.

Twitter is fantastic. If I check it frequently, it usually takes me less than a minute to scan through all the updates that have been left by those I follow. It includes absolutely zero of the ultra-annoying applications, quizzes, etc. you'll find on Facebook. (To put it simply, I put up with Facebook. I love Twitter.)

Like all forms of online social networking--like Internet message boards, MySpace, and blogging--Twitter helps me feel connected with people. Let me clarify--it helps me feel connected with adults. That can be very refreshing for someone who spends most of her waking hours with a one-year-old and a three-year-old.

Try Twitter. You may love it; it may seem pointless to you. But just try it.

And of course, once you sign up, make sure you follow me. In a totally non-cultish sort of way.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zoodle's nursery--the cool iron thing!

I still don't know what to call this...


...but you guys gave me so many amazing suggestions on how to use it for Zoodle's work-in-progress nursery. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I plan to continue doing some home decoration after the nursery is done, and I also plan to keep coming back here for suggestions.

I based my decision not on what the best suggestion was (how would I have chosen?!), but on what I thought would look cute and already had on hand...making this essentially a free project! I used a combination of suggestions from various awesome blog readers, including a brilliant comment from my mom, who said, "It would be so cute if you had some chaps!" (They were very easy to make.)

And here it is. (The Engineer will have to be the one to hang it up. Not my area of expertise.)


Yee haw, isn't that just so cute? The room is coming together nicely, and soon I hope to have photos of the finished project. However,"finished" is a relative term.... I plan to keep my eyes open for more great Western-themed items to add to the decor.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Micro: Free fun

Shredded paperwork + 2 kids = Free Glee!


(And, yes, cleaning up thousands of paper ribbons strewn across the floor was a real pain. But it's still a great activity. A great, occasional activity.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Podcast update

I've posted a new podcast today. Instead of reading one of my posts, I used the podcast to answer some blogging questions sent in by a reader.

I also (I think) have fixed the problem that did not allow people to subscribe via iTunes and (most) other subscription services. Please let me know if you have any trouble. Whew--this podcasting stuff is all so new and makes me feel very technologically un-savvy!

The hardest-working member of our household

She's tall, thin, and beautiful, and always willing to work.

Well, as long as she's charged, that is.


I really love our Electrolux stick vacuum. It's pretty enough to keep out--and I keep it right next to the kitchen table. (It's amazing to me that our kids gain any weight since they seem to drop more food on the floor than I put on their plates.) I am barefoot a lot of the time, and I really get tired of using my feet as dry mops, every spare crumb sticking to the bottom of them.

And when it comes down to it, I really could do a major vacuum/mop on the tile daily, and I won't confess how VERY far from that ideal I am. So our trusty stick vac does the job of picking up spare bits of this 'n' that, sometimes multiple times a day.

I love that a hand vac is incorporated into the unit--it pops right out when I push those little buttons on the side.


With the hand vac, I can pick up Cheerios and such, and sometimes I even use it on a particularly "crumb-y" tabletop.

We paid about $40 for this (a refurbished model) at Big Lots about a year and a half ago. To say it was worth it is an understatement. I'm not sure how we got through the first two years of Chickie's life without it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Six Word Saturday!

The hilarious Call Me Cate over at Show My Face hosts Six Word Saturdays every week. Her little button is the best way to explain this simple concept:

So, here's mine:

Considering not buying her pants anymore.

Chickie seems unable to keep pants on all day long. It seems almost every time we Skype (video call) my parents, she's running around in a shirt and underwear. I guess I should count my blessings that she is willing to put them on for us to leave the house, though, right?

Join the fun! Leave your six-word sentence here, at Show My Face, or on your own blog. If you post on your blog, be sure to leave the link at Show My Face!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Yesterday as I was driving, I listened to Chickie and Zoodle in the seats behind me. Chickie was sleeping, snoring quietly. Zoodle was softly growling, trying to replicate Chickie's snore.

Yep, he's becoming a little mimic. A few days ago, Zoodle was hanging out with The Engineer, and The Engineer, um...well, he tooted. Sure enough, immediately the same sound came out of Zoodle's mouth.

It may have been one of Daddy's proudest moments.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Feeling creative?

I need help! My parents gave me this great thing to put on Zoodle's wall.


It is dark brown iron(?) and has four hooks to hang coats or hats from. The whole piece is probably close to a meter long.

I need advice, folks--I want an idea of some cute things I can hang off these hooks! If you need a reminder of the other things I've done to the nursery, check out these posts.

The Engineer suggested a small cowboy hat and duster (longish cowboy coat.) Great idea, but while the hat might be doable, toddler-sized dusters aren't exactly common (and probably wouldn't be affordable!) So bring it on--give me some great ideas for these hooks! (By the way, his name is not four letters long.)

Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

even smaller

Yesterday I saw a commercial for this product:

Okay, cute package, looks like something kids would like, but am I the only one that finds it odd to have a "Little" version of something that is already "Mini"?

Although...this does open up a whole new world of marketing. So, product development gurus out there, you'd better hope you come across this blog post, because I'm going to provide you with some fantastic new ideas, FOR FREE. You ready?
  • Mini Cooper IB (Itty Bitty): The newest auto out of Great Britain seats one person (4'8"/80 pounds, or less.) A company spokesperson admitted, "Sure, the market for this vehicle is limited due to its size. But we're hoping people will buy it without thinking about that, simply because it's so cute! {Squeeeal!}"
  • Emperor of the Galaxy-sized King-sized candy bars: These extra-extra-large versions of Hershey's candy bars are as big as your head, and satisfy even the worst hunger or PMS craving.
  • McDonald's Super-Sized XL meals: Two-pound hamburger patties and gallon-sized sodas are only the beginning. In a truly innovative partnership, Ronald McDonald and KFC's Colonel Sanders have teamed up to round out the meal with the ultra-popular Extra-Crispy Fries in a Bucket. Why eat three times a day when you can get all your weekly calories in one meal?
  • Embryo Carrots: Baby carrots have become so popular that select gourmet supermarkets are now test-marketing Embryo Carrots. They're cut so small that you don't even have to chew them. Sprinkle ECs on salad, cereal, or ice cream to increase the nutritional content of your favorite dish.
  • Nano Poodles: Miniature and Toy Poodles are so 20th century. Now breeders and geneticists have developed an even smaller variety. Nano Poodles can ride in a pocket, bra, or highly-teased hairdo without ever being seen by dog-hating maitre d's and store managers.
You know, these ideas are going to make someone an extra-super-duper-large amount of dough. I just hope they'll remember little-tiny-itty-bitty ol' me when the money rolls in.

What can you add to the list?


P.S. I'm glad you enjoyed Dan's guest post yesterday! I returned the favor, and you can read my post on his blog, Wood and Pixels Narratives, today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Photo Extra: Zoodle's nursery--the painting

The ongoing project titled "Finish my kid's nursery before he graduates high school" continues! Armed with my computer (loaded with a cool, free, western-themed font I downloaded) a projector borrowed from The Engineer's office, and about $10 worth of materials (craft paints and brushes), I set to work today.

Told you I'd do something with that lasso on the wall! By the way, Zoodle's real name starts with an "E."



Using the projector, I pencilled in the outlines of the "brand" and the letters before turning off the projector and painting them. It worked well, and was a great, simple way to put decorative lettering on the wall. Zoodle could care less...but I sure do like it!

Guest post: Dan Felstead: Puzzle Solver

I'm supposed to be in Boston this week, and several of you very kindly wrote fantastic guest posts to be used while I was gone. Because that trip has been postponed, I'll be using those posts occasionally, instead of all in one week.

Today I think you'll enjoy a post by Dan Felstead. Dan is also a photographer and blogger, and it's worth your time to check out his blog, Wood and Pixel Narratives. Thank you, Dan, for taking the time to write this guest post!

And now, in Dan's own words....


To the hardcore visitors of Beth's blog....

This is a great opportunity to step out on a limb and try to solve a puzzle that has been bugging me for months. In Beth's post about her leaving for Boston...she unwittingly gave me the final clue I needed to make the connection and finally be at peace.

Here is the puzzle:

Does Beth have a sister? Is this her cousin? It this her twin? It is Beth in incognito? What is the deal here???

Here is the answer:

Ever since I have had the pleasure to enjoy all of Beth's blogs and podcasts, I like so many others... read the comments and have made some great friends by interacting. As I often read the comments, I noticed a person posting now and then by the name of "Beckiwithani". When I first saw the avatar...I thought it was Beth but not quite??? Something was different...not much...but enough to know that's not Beth. Every time I saw the Avatar, I thought Wow...the likeness is amazing.

Photobucket Photobucket

Hallelujah! When I saw Beth was going to Boston to visit her sister BECKI...I quickly went to Beckiwithani's profile and there it of Beckiwithani's partners was none other than C.Beth and one of her blogs were about "Twins" and she is from MASSACHUSETTS! Oh yeah, I got it...I clicked blog about twins and lo and was for "Invited visitors only". I was never so happy to be turned down on visiting a blog in my life because it all came into focus.

Beckiwithani is C. Beth's twin sister and with so many folks following the One minute writer et al....she just needs some privacy now and then. Mystery solved.

TA DA! Oh, I feel like such a paparazzi!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Micro: Little

Our trip to Boston has been postponed, as there has been a death in my sister's husband's family.

It's hard to blog today. I'm just reminded how little most things are. Plane ticket cancellation fees. Blog stats. Chickie tantrums. These things fill up our days, and fill up our minds, but they are little, and not worth the stress. Oh, God, let me remember this, even when I'm not confronted with the big realities of life and death.

Edited to add: My sister has written a beautiful tribute on her blog, here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Blogging with discipline

There are times when my mind is filled with more blog posts than there are days in the week, when everything in my life can be easily put into a witty and/or meaningful bit of writing.

And there are other times when I sit, look at the computer, and think, "I know these people don't want to hear about the four loads of laundry I did today, and they certainly don't need a recipe from what I made today. I think most of them can handle Kraft Macaroni & Cheese without a photo tutorial."

When a horrendous case of blogger's block strikes, I've got a couple of options. I can take a day (or more) off blogging. This can be a freeing option. There is even a movement called "blogging without obligation," and you can get cool BWO buttons for your blog by clicking the link.

Or I can try to continue blogging on a regular schedule, hoping that if I sit down and write, I'll dig up some inspiration. I'll call this "blogging with discipline."

Blogging with discipline works for me. There seems to be a creative part of my brain that is turned on by daily writing. I certainly don't turn out brilliant posts on a daily basis. But often I surprise myself with a post I really like--one that started out with a seemingly so-so idea. One I wouldn't have written if I'd waited until I thought I had a really good idea.

When it comes down to it, I write more good stuff by writing daily than I would by writing less frequently. I also write more mediocre stuff this way. But to me, it's a worthwhile tradeoff.

Blogging with discipline is not the opposite of blogging without obligation. The concepts work together. Blogging should be a hobby, and if it becomes pure obligation, something needs to change. I blog with discipline not because I have to, but because I like the ultimate results.

Blogging with discipline doesn't mean you have to blog every day or that you can't ever take a break. It means blogging regularly--whatever that means for you. It means sitting down and trying to develop a blog post idea instead of waiting until a perfectly-written post is already floating around in your brain.

Blogging with discipline isn't the only "right" way to blog. Some bloggers find that a less-structured schedule works well for them. But if the concept appeals to you, I invite you to join me. Blog with discipline...and be available for the inspiration, when it comes.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hannah Montana

Little Sis, the fifteen-year-old I mentor, spent the night last night. Later today...we're going to see the new Hannah Montana movie. I suppose I should write some snarky post about what a waste this is--I hardly ever get to go see movies, and here I am going to see such drivel. But I have a confession.

I'm excited!

I never grew out of my preteen love of silly, simple, girly movies and TV shows. As a teen, I genuinely looked forward to my Saturday morning episode of Saved by the Bell. And as an adult, I really enjoyed watching The Princess Diaries. There's something refreshing about stories that always turn out well. They're predictable, and they make me happy.

So I hope you have a great Saturday. I will--me, Little Sis, and Hannah Montana.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bonus post!

Check out my guest post on Tia's blog, my life as I know it, today! And you'll get to read Tia's guest post right here next week, when I'm on vacation.

Family haircuts

In our family we use a wide variety of different hair stylists. The kids get cuts from me--free except the cost of Dum Dum lollipops. The dog goes to a skilled groomer, which costs more than I'd like, but it's about more than just the haircut. (I really don't want to be the one to trim his nails and clean out his anal sacs.) The Engineer takes advantage of $12 Tuesdays at a local walk-in place.

And after several years of hopping from one cheap walk-in haircut place to another, I've recently found a skilled hair stylist I want to stick with. Yesterday was the third time April has cut my hair, and she is fantastic.

She offers all the stuff any good stylist does--a great cut; styling I don't want to re-do as soon as I get home; and friendly, casual conversation. That might be enough for me to stick with her. But beyond that, there is one thing that puts April way above the crowd.

Her place is amazingly kid-friendly.
  • She has an assistant who is happy to watch my kids while I get my hair cut. As April said the first time I called for an appointment and told her I'd have kids with me, "That's why I have an assistant!"
  • Zoodle is going through a stranger anxiety mode, and it's fine with April if I hold my little guy on my lap while I get my locks shampooed, cut, and styled.
  • The last two times we've been there, April has brought her little dog Devo with her. Apparently the dog doesn't always care for kids, but she and Chickie are somehow best buds. Chickie is in heaven playing fetch with Devo in a spare room, and Devo is just as happy.
Now, the Engineer is suffering a little sticker shock. My haircut is suddenly costing well over double what I was paying at places like Cost Cutters. But, hey, I'm getting the best haircuts I've had in years, and it's one place where I don't have to worry about my kids going crazy or melting down as they wait for me. It's worth every penny.

And best of all...the dog is no longer getting the most expensive haircut in the family.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

A little limerick

Nighttime wakings and daytime woe
Chewing sippy cup, finger, and toe
but my fine, strapping youth
finally got his first tooth--
It's too bad there's still nineteen to go!

(No photos yet--it's barely visible on the rare occasions he stays still enough for me to look in there!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Guest posters--please read!

Wow, you people are fantastic! Thank you for all the offers of guest posts. I'm going to take you all up on your offers and will get to work writing guest posts for your blogs too.

During my vacation, these are the guest posters I'll be using (in the order of the offers I received):
1. Tia
2. ElleBee
3. Heather
4. Dan
5. Lyndsay
6. Jailer

And for future writer's block days, I'd also love guest posts from these wonderful bloggers:
7. Deanna
8. Janell
9. Faith
10. Barga
11. Erin
12. Angela (I'm not sure which Angela this is, as your profile isn't clickable, and I didn't get an e-mail from you. Can you e-mail me, please? Thanks.)

Here's how it will work:
  • You can write on any topic, but please keep in mind that this is a family-friendly blog.
  • When your post is ready, just e-mail it to me (as a Word document or just in the text of an e-mail) at cbethblog (at) gmail (dot) com. Feel free to attach any photos you want inserted, or provide me with links to their locations online.
  • I'll e-mail you once I've got a post ready for your blog. If I don't have your e-mail address, please drop me a line at cbethblog (at) gmail (dot) com.
  • If you're one of the top six on the list, please get me your posts by this coming Sunday (April 20th) at noon, at the latest. Friday or Saturday would be fantastic. If that's not possible, just let me know so I can call on someone who is further down the list.
  • If you're further down on the list, there's no particular deadline.
  • If you're one of the 12 people listed above, lease leave me a comment on this post to let me know that you read it.
You guys are so great! Thanks!

I need help

And let me say it for you, to save you the bother of typing it in the comments: "Well, C. Beth, we all KNEW you needed help! Serious help!"

Now that we're past that....

I'm leaving next Monday with my one- and three-year-old perfect travelers (thinking optimistically here) to visit my sister and her family. It should be a great visit in Boston with "Uncle Becki," as she's known around these parts.

And...I'm not going to blog while I'm there. So I thought it would be fun to set up guest posts. I'd need six of them if I want to fill up every day. And if you write a guest post for me, I will happily return the favor and write a brilliant guest post for your blog. (Well, maybe the brilliant part is kinda still up in the air.)

If you'd like to gain lots of fame and zero fortune by writing a post for my blog (complete, of course, with a link to your blog), please comment here or e-mail me at cbethblog (at) gmail (dot) com.


Maybe oily hair isn't such a bad thing

"The current trend of frequent shampoos may have started on May 10, 1908, when the New York Times published a column advising women that it was OK to wash their hair every two weeks. At that time, once a month was the norm."

My interest was piqued when I heard that quote on an NPR podcast recently. (Read or listen to it here.) The story went on to say that our current frequent hair washing habits are due more to shampoo marketing than to genuinely good hygiene. Washing one's hair every day strips natural oils. Then the scalp tries to make too much oil. Everything gets out of balance.

So I have a new goal, to not wash my hair as much. Don't worry, I'll be grabbing the shampoo bottle far more often than once a month. In the above article, Michelle Hananji, a dermatologist, recommends only washing your hair two to three times a week. I've probably been washing about four or five times a week. It's too much--my hair is dry. My new goal is to eventually wash my hair every three days.

For the last several days I've made sure to only wash my hair every other day. When it's been three days, my hair is pretty shiny (not in a good way), so clearly I can't make this change all at once. I figure once my scalp really gets used to the every two days schedule, I'll try to scale back to every three. Already, I think my hair looks less dry and unhealthy.

I doubt I'll get into the habit of shampooing less often than every three days. But I have to admit--I'm a low-maintenance girl. And I'm a little jealous of those girls from 100 years ago, who washed their hair only as often as they flipped the calendar page.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday Micro: Fairies

Tooth Fairy: A mythical creature who visits a child's bed at night, takes the tooth the child has just lost, and exchanges it for money or a treat.

Teething Fairy: A very real creature who visits a child's bed at night; takes that sweet, happy child; and replaces him with a screaming monster.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eggcellent photos

We joined several of our neighbors for a little Easter egg hunt and barbecue yesterday. It was great--more fun than doing it by ourselves, and definitely more entertaining than fighting crowds at a public egg hunt!

Chickie was excited about her basket of eggs.


And Zoodle...well, Zoodle was just getting up from his nap when the egg hunt happened. (And we wouldn't have wanted him trampeled by lots of excited little feet anyway!) So here is a staged photo of Zoodle "finding eggs."


Today, I celebrate life.

The life I share with The Engineer.

The lives of my kiddos--Chickie (appropriate Easter name, isn't it?) and Zoodle.

And my spiritual life in Christ, my resurrected Savior and living Friend.

May you have an Easter that is full of joy and full of life!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Reading rebel

It's a pattern.

Chickie goes to bed. The Engineer and I hang out downstairs, watching TV. At some point one of us glances upstairs and says with a sigh, "The bathroom light is on."

Either he or I gets up, and climbs the stairs. In the bathroom is Chickie, in her PJs, looking at books.

She's pretty smart. I mean, she's disobeying us, but how mad are we really gonna get, if she's gotten out of bed not to play, but to broaden her intellectual horizons?

We tuck her back in, telling her in a stern voice she needs to stay in bed. We tell her if she leaves the room again, we'll have to close the baby gate in her doorway. That usually works.


Last night, after this entire process had played itself out, I realized there was once again a light on upstairs. The Engineer headed up there and came back a minute later with a smile. He informed me that he hadn't closed her gate, because Chickie had obeyed him. He'd told her not to leave her room, and she hadn't. She'd even stayed in bed--after she'd turned on the light in her room and grabbed a book. She'd managed to find a way to stay within the letter of the law while still doing exactly what she wanted to do.

I don't think I want her to keep "reading." She's a little too smart already.

Friday, April 10, 2009


My hair is now long enough to put back.

Sort of.

With barrettes and plenty of chunks falling into my face.

Isn't that exciting?


Thursday, April 9, 2009 that's a yummy Easter egg

A few days ago I saw a commercial for Kellogg's Rice Krispies, showing a family making egg-shaped Rice Krispies treats dipped in chocolate. Immediately I added Rice Krispies, marshmallows, and dipping chocolate to my list. Today Chickie and I got to work.

Once the marshmallows, butter, and cereal were mixed, I formed cute little eggs. (Turns out this step requires more fine motor skills than my three-year-old has, so she settled for putting butter on her hands.)

Now, they'd be delicious like this...


...but like so many other foods, these treats are better with chocolate. Instead of using chocolate chips and shortening as the recipe called for, I used a really fantastic product I just discovered called Baker's Dipping Chocolate. This stuff is great--it's easy, convenient, and microwavable. I bought one tub of milk chocolate and one of white chocolate.


Dipping was a great job for Chickie. And of course she didn't mind the extra she kept getting on her fingers--it never stayed there long.


She dipped half the eggs in milk chocolate and half in white chocolate, and then I did some drizzlin'.



What a great mommy-daughter project this was! And we are certainly enjoying the results.

You can see the recipe here. (Oh, and Kellogg's might not like to read this, but we used generic cereal, and they still turned out yummy.)

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More on couches...

Since a few of you seemed interested in buying a kiddie fold-out couch (see my post from earlier today), here are a few links.

Several options at; most have free Site-to-Store shipping available
A few options at Amazon
And a bunch of other options at The Find, a shopbot--some of these are in Great Britain

Hope some of you will end up with the perfect, magic couch for your kids!

Who needs a magic carpet...

...when you have a magic couch?


In October I blogged about some fabulous garage sale finds including a kid-sized, foam, fold-out couch decorated with Sesame Street characters. Little did I know just how wonderful that little couch would be.

Chickie often wakes up during the night and comes into our room to sleep. We want her to feel comfortable doing that, but a few months ago, I was just getting sick of being so crowded that I couldn't rest well. So we moved that little couch into our room, unfolded it into a little bed, added a pillow and a couple of blankets, and told Chickie that she could sleep there if she woke up and wanted to come into our room.

To our relief, she loves it. She can come downstairs by herself, slip into our room, and go back to sleep on that little couch, with, usually, only a little sleep disruption for Mommy and Daddy.

And the Chickie Nap (remember that endangered species?) has even had a slight resurgence. Recently, Chickie has wanted her Sesame Street couch during her "quiet time" (formerly nap time.) Thankfully, it's very light and easy to carry upstairs. She often relaxes on it, reading, and a few times recently she's even ended up sleeping on it. Maybe she's not quite as ready to give up her naps as she thought she was.

This little couch bed has other uses too. Zoodle thinks it's absolutely hilarious to crawl up to it and put his head down, just like his big sister.


(The wetness on his pants and shirt is water, by the way. I do change his diapers. I promise.)

And when it's folded up as a couch, what better place to cuddle with teddy bears?


A magic couch. Every family should have one.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Is being a mom the hardest job in the world?

On her show yesterday, Oprah Winfrey repeated something I've heard before: "Being a mom is the hardest job in the world."

We all want to appreciate moms, and those of us who are moms certainly want to be appreciated. So we tend to nod earnestly when we hear this statement. Hooray for millions of moms, doing the hardest job in the world!

But let's be realistic. Let's get past the feel-good emotions we get when we honor the difficulties of being a mom, and let's analyze Oprah's statement.

If being a mom was really the hardest job in the world, would very many of us actually choose to do it more than once? Sure, there's that whole childbirth amnesia thing that switches us from "I ain't doin' THAT again!" (while putting cold compresses on our nether regions) to, "Ah, it wasn't so bad" (three months later.)

But there isn't any amnesia that makes a woman forget that her child spit up, peed, and pooped on her, all in one day. When Mommy goes to bed with Daddy and makes another baby, Mommy knows full well that 45 minutes ago she was dealing with a toddler's bedtime tantrums.

Some jobs are really hard. A desk job that requires long hours of amazingly tedious, boring work. A position in a meat packing plant that leaves the worker with a raw cow smell that won't wash away. An assembly line job in a third-world country that results in repetitive use injury and doesn't pay enough to feed a family. Sometimes we moms get bored, stinky, and sore. But not every day, all day.

Don't get me wrong. Being a mom is, at times, hard. We remember all the less-than-glamorous annoyances our kids bring into our lives all day long. Yet many of us--on purpose--retire our chosen method of birth control, obsessively track our ovulatory cycles, and choose to do it again.


Because it's not all about vomit, nap difficulties, and tantrums. There are other aspects of being a mom that are easy, effortless, and rewarding. Cuddling with my daughter is easy. Smiling when my kids are silly is effortless. Most importantly, experiencing a pure love that grows with my children is unspeakably rewarding. What a paycheck--love.

Oh, no, Oprah, being a mom is not the hardest job in the world. In fact, some days, it's the best.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Micro: Definition

three-year-old [noun]:
A small human who throws a tantrum one day because she wants to do something herself, and throws a tantrum the next day because she wants her parents to do the same task for her.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Zoodle's nursery--the border

I don't like painting rooms. I'm certainly not naturally talented at it--I have a hard time getting the paint on evenly, and keeping it off ceilings (and floors.) So for now, Zoodle's Cowboy-themed nursery (a work in progress) is staying off-white. That means I've got to be creative with the decor so that it's still fun and interesting.

So I headed to my local tack shop (Lowe's, the huge home improvement store) and rustled up some rope. We already had a staple gun, staples, and a stepladder, so this was a nice, cheap project--just 11 bucks for the rope.

On Friday, I got to work. A few hours later, Zoodle's room had a border. Here are pictures of the four walls.





This big lasso will have something in the middle of it--something involving paint, actually. (More on that later, of course!)


Add a boot, hat, and blue jeans (well, not actually blue), and there's plenty of inspiration for a growin' cowboy.




Whimsical rope loops and stars fill in the rest of the border.


If I'd known that decorating his nursery was going to be this fun, Zoodle might not have had to spend a year in a boring room. I'll keep workin' on it (in between cattle drives and horseback rides, of course), and I'll keep you up to date as it comes together.

Podcast note

I recorded today's post, "A little too nosey," as a podcast. I also interviewed Chickie at the end of the recording. Be sure to check it out at C. Beth Podcast.

A little too nosey

"Oh, my treasure!" Chickie's excited voice rose from the stroller, where she was getting settled for our morning walk yesterday. She picked up "her treasure"--a little red bead she'd found a few days ago at the park.

As we walked down the driveway--the dog tied to my waist, Chickie and Zoodle in the stroller--Chickie cried, "Oh, no, my treasure!"

Figuring she'd dropped it, I said, "You'll have to find it when we get home, Chickie."

She began to cry. "It's stuck in my nose!"

Oh, no. Not again.

I stopped the stroller, grabbed a tissue, and instructed her, "Blow! Blow it out!" She tried, but the treasure did not emerge, and her frightened nasal inhaling certainly wasn't helping the matter.

"Okay," I told her, turning the stroller around and walking back up the driveway, "we'll have to go to the hospital."

Immediately, Chickie panicked. "No, Mommy!" she protested. "I didn't put it in my nose! I dropped it! I dropped it!"

As quickly as I could, I took Chickie out of the stroller and deposited her inside, where she continued to sob and to scream her insistence that she'd dropped the treasure; it wasn't in her nose. I put the dog in his crate, where he was not thrilled to lose his walk (that's his "treasure"), and I put Zoodle in his car seat.

Next, I called The Engineer at his desk. When there was no answer, I called the receptionist. "Hi, Susan," I said. "It's Beth. I need to talk to The Engineer--it's an emergency." She quickly and calmly told me she would get him, and soon I was explaining the situation to him. He agreed to meet us at the ER.

Meanwhile, Chickie's screams continued, and she was running around the living room, determined that her short little legs could go fast enough to avoid me. I could tell that wrestling her into the car seat, and then into the hospital, was going to be difficult without a good, strong tranquilizer, and wouldn't you know it--I was fresh out of darts. Add a baby into the mix, and the task was sure to be nearly impossible. So I decided to take Zoodle over to a neighbor's house.

I rushed toward the garage to retrieve Zoodle, and suddenly from the living room I heard a much calmer Chickie voice proclaim, "Mommy! My treasure came out of my nose!"

And there it was, a little red bead, in her hand (and very soon thereafter in the trash.) My whole body filled with relief.

Immediately, I called The Engineer's office again. "Hi, Susan," I said. "Can you tell The Engineer not to leave? The bead came out."


Oh, apparently he hadn't filled her in on the details of his family emergency. "The bead came out of Chickie's nose."

So the receptionist got a story to tell at dinnertime; the dog got his walk; I got to avoid yet another nose-related ER bill, and Chickie--hopefully--got rid of all desire to be so nosey.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The toothless gourmet

Having a one-year-old who is still toothless, yet loves food, I have to be creative. Thank goodness for food processors. Last night Zoodle got to share our meal of potato, chili, cheese, and salad.


Depending on the combination of foods, Zoodle's pureed meals fall at different places on the looks-like-dog-food spectrum. Last night's was definitely one of the more appetizing-looking ones. (Really, it was.)


And does he like it? You be the judge.


At some point, though, that round little tummy gets full to the brim. Then Zoodle finds alternate uses for the food--tonight he ventured into the field of face painting.


When Zoodle finally has enough teeth to chew more foods, I'll enjoy not having to do so much food processing. But I sure will miss that gummy smile.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Tuesday night, my good friend L. had a potluck at her house for the church. And the potluck really lived up to its name.

Lucky me--I got mommy time! Zoodle was sick, which is not exactly lucky, but The (Wonderful, Kind, Awesome) Engineer stayed home with the kiddos, and my church potluck turned into an adult, social experience for me. When I heard crazy noise upstairs where the kids were playing, I didn't even care about the racket--I was just thrilled I didn't have to go up there to check it out! (Turns out they were playing "hail storm.") I talked to adults, stayed out way past the kids' bedtime, and didn't have to change one diaper or negotiate one toy-sharing incident. Heaven.

Lucky me--I partook in the potluck without contributing. I wasn't sure if I'd be going at all due to Zoodle's fever, so L. bought the sour cream that I'd volunteered to bring. When I was about to leave, I called her to find out what they still needed--and was told to just bring myself. I feasted on L.'s amazing chili, plus plenty of side dishes, homemade iced tea, coffee, and dessert. And I didn't even have to cook or shop.

Lucky me--I got to watch American Idol with other fans of the show. As we ate chili and chocolate chip cookies, we discussed Lil's song choices and Adam's leisure suit. Great times.

Of course, I brought my camera so that I could share my lucky night with bloggers. When I saw a kitchen full of food and smiling people, I hit the power button and was greeted with the message, "NO MEMORY CARD." Oh, well--my luck had to run out sometime.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's!

We kids had a blast growing up, finding ways to entertain ourselves using very little money and lots of creativity.  A lot of that was due to my older brother Sean's ideas.

One year Sean had the idea that we kids should take advantage of April Fool's Day to set up some surprises for our parents.  At some ridiculously early hour, we all three crept out of bed and very quietly got to work.

First we took rolls of toilet paper and very thoroughly TP'd the inside of our house.  From a wrought iron railing, to the ceiling fan, to the countertops, to the windows, to the furniture, and so on--there was toilet paper everywhere.

When my parents got up, they were greeted by the streams of tissue all over their living room.  They took it well and laughed at the sight.  (Why shouldn't they?  They knew it would be the kids doing the clean up!)

Then we revealed to them our second surprise.  We loved watching Let's Make a Deal on TV.  So, thanks to Sean's creativity, we created Let's Make a Meal.  We used boxes covered with paper and decorated with large numbers for curtains 1, 2, and 3.  I think we had baby food as prizes (due to the "Meal" theme), along with a new car!  The car, of course, was about two inches long and was made by Hot Wheels.  Sean was the host, and I'm guessing Becki and I played "models," presenting the prizes to my parents, the contestants.

That morning is one of the high points of my childhood memories.  From the covert preparations we made for days in advance, to the early morning set-up, to the delight of our parents, it was an exploration of childlike creativity on the silliest day of the year.

If you've ever had a particularly memorable April Fool's Day, I'd love to hear about it!