Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Mommy, can I give my dolly a bath in the sink?"

Chickie asked me this question, and I thought it would be an easy way for her to entertain herself. It ended up being quite an adventure, complete with...

...water flowing directly on the doll's head and face, followed by Chickie's sympathetic voice asking, "Aww, did you get water in your eyes?"


...full immersion of the baby.


...and Lion King moments.


Chickie also used the opportunity to "wash" her own hair with wet hands, and to splash amazing quantities of water on the floor.

When that got boring, she ran into the living room and grabbed a teddy bear that she named, on the spot, "Snook" (rhymes with "kook," not "cook.") Apparently Snook needed a bath too.


My favorite (?) part about that scene is the poor, forgotten dolly floating facedown in the water.

Then, as I sat in the living room, I heard Chickie's smiling voice saying, "Mommy, I'm stuck!"


Before I got her out, she'd sat in the full sink, managing to get herself and the floor that much wetter.

After I dried off the tile and counters, and changed Chickie, Snook needed to be dried.


Sure, the dolly bath...and bear bath...and little girl bath...made a big mess, but it was also really easy to clean up. I think this is an activity we'll be repeating!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Makeover time for my blog!

Hope you like the new look!

Monday Micro: Discount


Thank you, Wal-Mart, for the generous savings. I'm hoping for other fantastic offers such as...
  • Candy bars--were $0.50, Rollback price 2/$1.00!
  • Plastic grocery bags--free!
  • Employees available to help you find things--now available every other Thursday from 2-3 a.m.!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


My friend Laurel e-mailed me several weeks ago. She said, "I was thinking a cute blog post idea...like the Home Improvement show where friends make over someone's home. You could make over the design of someone' blog and the end product is a complete surprise, taking into count the person's personality of course. .....okay maybe I want you to make-over my blog but it's still a cute idea."

I laughed and told Laurel I'd like to redesign her blog. Finally this week I got to it. Little Sis helped me--she has a great eye for these things! Here are before and after screen shots:


(Click on screenshot to check out Laurel's blog!)

Here are the changes I made, and how I made them, in case you'd like to give your blog a makeover! (These instructions are for blogs on the Blogger platform.)

1. I switched to the Minima White Blogger template. I'm a fan of this template, since it's so simple and therefore easy to customize.

2. I made her posting column wider. I also recently made this change on my blog--though it wasn't a very drastic change on my already-cramped page! To read about how to widen your posting column (so easy!), go here.

3. I redesigned Laurel's blog header. She wanted to keep the daisy theme, so she supplied me with the picture she'd used before, and I incorporated it. I also took out the border that is usually around the header--e-mail me or comment here if you want instructions on how to do that.

To make headers, I use Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2, which is similar to Adobe Photoshop. If you don't want to buy a photo editing program, you can make blog headers for free at Scrapblog.

4. I changed up the colors of the background, text, etc. On Blogger's "Fonts and Colors" page you'll see a place where you can "Edit color hex code." Go to this site, and you can find codes for 4,800 different colors--better than the 60 offered by Blogger, huh?

Laurel, I hope you enjoy your new blog makeover--I had fun doing it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again! To read about Six Word Saturdays, and to participate, just click on the button below.

My six words for this week...

Hangin' wit mi sweet Lil' Sis.

This weekend my "Little Sister" (who I mentor) is spending a couple of days with us. In honor of that, I tried to write my Six Words in current teenage shorthand/lingo. (She assures me that everybody spells "my" as "mi" now.) I'm at least 15 years too old to make it believable, aren't I?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hello, my prosperous friends!

What does it mean to be wealthy? I'm not talking about metaphysical types of "wealth," though I'm sure we could all think of ways that the love of friends and family makes us "wealthy." No, I'm talking about traditional wealth--having more than enough money, stuff, and provision.

I went to a class at church last night, and we watched a DVD of Beth Moore, a speaker. She read from a book by Phillip Yancey. While I don't have the exact quote, Yancey said something like this:

If you are reading this, you are wealthy. Just having the money to buy a book and the ability to read it puts you ahead of most other people in the world.


Most of us don't feel wealthy. We may think that those who make quite a bit more money than we do are wealthy, but we are often hesitant to put ourselves in that category.

But you're reading this. On a computer. That means you have had enough education to learn to read, and you either have enough wealth to own computer, or you live in a prosperous enough society that you're provided with some sort of computer access--possibly free.

You may start to feel wealthy when you realize that "At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day."

You may start to feel wealthy when you realize that in the year 2000 almost a billion people were unable to read or sign their names.

You may start to feel wealthy when you realize that even if your net worth is negative and you're unemployed, you probably live in a country where someone will provide you with enough food to keep you alive. Yet in our world 25,000 children die due to poverty, every day.

(Above statistics & quote were found here.)

We're wealthy. What should we do with our newfound wealth?

I'm not sure I know the answer to that question. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Non-annoying children's music: Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about Sandra Boynton's music, which is a favorite of our whole family. (Well, I'm assuming Zoodle likes it; sometimes it helps him stop crying!) Today I'd like to introduce you to...

Go Fish

Go Fish is a Christian group with the slogan "Great music for kids that won't drive parents bonkers!" They sing fantastic a capella harmonies (usually only using percussion instrumentation), and it's really fun. I'll tell you more about the CDs and DVD we have--click on the pictures or titles to listen to samples of the music! (Ignore the "BUY NOW" part of the pictures--those were the pics I was able to successfully download from their site.)


Superstar is one of their earlier CDs, and it's a classic. Songs such as "The Ten Commandment Boogie" and a jazzed-up version of "Jesus Loves Me" are fun for kids and adults.


Some of the songs from Superstar are also on the group's first DVD, Showtime. It starts out with a live version of "Superstar," which begins with a catchy "Na na na" tune. Before Chickie could talk well, she'd say, "Na na!" when she wanted to watch this DVD--sort of confusing, since that was also her way of saying "banana." It's a short DVD, about half an hour--just right for a toddler's attention span. Now I'm introducing Zoodle to it.


Snazzy is another really fun Go Fish CD we have. I particularly enjoy "Hit the Drum," "Get Your Jammies On," and "The Mom Song." Chickie used to ask for this CD by using the first couple of lines of the title track: "Mommy, can we listen to 'Go Fish feelin' kinda snazzy, little rock and roll, little razzle dazzy'?"

It looks like the Go Fish guys have a new CD and a new DVD out, so we may need to buy those...or request them from my parents as a gift (hint, hint!)

I hope some readers will check out Go Fish and find that they like it just as much as we have. Again, please feel free to share your music suggestions in the comments! Thanks for the great suggestions yesterday. We had a late night so I didn't respond to them individually but will try to do so later today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Non-annoying children's music: Part 1

Let's be honest. A lot of kids' music is so annoying it makes me want to pull my hair out. Or scratch out my own eyes. Or curl up in a fetal position and moan loudly.

Since all these reactions are inappropriate for the setting in which we are usually listening to music (the car), I prefer to find good kids' music--stuff that I can enjoy and even sing along with. I'll share some of what we like, today and tomorrow. (Share your own favorites in the comments!)

Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton is the author of scads of adorable children's board books with titles as beguiling as The Belly Button Book and Your Personal Penguin. (In fact, you can get a free download of Davy Jones singing Your Personal Penguin here--scroll down a bit on the page.) Boynton also has a few full-length albums that are sold as book/CD packages. We have two and love them both.


Philadelphia Chickens is an "imaginary musical revue" with songs by Sandra Boynton & Michael Ford. Kids can read along in the book while they listen to some fantastic stars singing Broadway-style songs. It's so much fun hearing Meryl Streep belting "Nobody Understands Me" and Kevin Kline singing, "BusyBusyBusy." And these days it is extra-sentimental when I listen to Natasha Richardson sing "Silly Lullaby," the song I got the nickname "Zoodle" from.

Here's an exampe of some of the adorable, funny lyrics from the song "Belly Button (Round)" on Philadelphia Chickens:

"Belly Belly Button,
you're oh so fine.
OOO, Belly Button,
I'm so happy you're mine
A tummy without you
just wouldn't be right,
Little Belly Button,
you're a beautiful sight."

You can listen to clips from all the songs on Philadelphia Chickens here.


Dog Train is Boynton & Ford's rock album, and The Engineer and I particularly like this one. The Spin Doctors start the album with the cathartic song "Tantrum." The title track, "Dog Train," is performed by Blues Traveler. Kate Winslet and "Weird Al" Yankovic are hilarious singing "I Need a Nap," and Steve Lawrence and Eydi Gorme are even funnier crooning "Boring Song."

Here are some of the lyrics from the song "Wave Bye-Bye" (a song about a little girl who just wants her parents to leave the boring party they're all at) on Dog Train:

"Come on and say bye-bye.
I want to go bye-bye.
It's time to wave bye-bye.
Wave bye-bye....

"I want them not to see me,
'cause whenever they do,
they've always got to ask me,
'And how old are you?'
Well, I was four when we got here.
It's a while since then.
I'm thinking that by now I must be...nine or ten."

You can listen to clips from all the songs on Dog Train here.

If you're torturing yourself listening to annoying kids' music, don't let yourself suffer another day! Check out Sandra Boynton, and let me know what you think. Come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you about one more group we like. I'm looking forward to reading your ideas in the comments!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Micro: Last day!

Today is your last chance to sign up for the U.S. bone marrow registry for free--a $52 savings (if funding is still available!) I posted about this recently--read that post here.

Signing up takes a few minutes--and the actual cheek swabs are even faster. I got my packet in the mail this weekend, and my swabs will go back out in the mail today.


If you haven't signed up, I hope you will--just click here! Ethnicities other than Caucasian are particularly needed, though us white girls are important too.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Oh, that's why you think your daddy is great?

I found this fill-in-the-blank "Best Dad" certificate online and figured it would be a great thing for Chickie to make for her Daddy. I asked her questions, and used her answers to fill in the blanks. This is what the completed certificate says:

My dad, Daddy, is the best dad in the world because he really knows how to take care of me and always gives me Tic Tacs. Every morning he wakes up and that makes me feel good! Whenever I need training pants my dad always puts them on and he never needs to get suppositories. His biggest talent is singing at church and he can put pictures on the wall like no one else. One day I hope I can write letters just like him! I love when we play football together because I feel good just being around him. Whenever we go on vacation he takes care of me and is the best daddy around. I don't know how I'd learn without him. I want him to know I am going to grow up because he's a BEST DADDY and that's why my dad is the best dad in the world!


Well, at least if she's unwilling to poop in the potty, she's grateful for her daddy continuing to give her disposable training pants when she needs them. And clearly she's hoping we never have to use a suppository in her again.

She'll love it if we drag this out when she brings a boy home in 15 years; don't you think?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Six Word Saturday!

Time for Six Word Saturday again! Click on the button to find out more about 6WS.

Yesterday I opened a letter from my car insurance company. It included a page with this information:


It says, "Any increase or reduction in premium has been, or will be included as an adjustment to your billing statement. The billing statement may be enclosed or it may be mailed to you separately."

Never before has so little information been conveyed in so many words. So my six words this week are...

You killed a tree for that?!

Friday, June 19, 2009

How important is it?

I know when I write this next sentence, quite a few of you will relate to it:

I feel guilty if I'm not "working" enough.

When I shared my flexible house cleaning plan recently, what I didn't tell you is that quite often, I go way off track. I have a week--like the one we're currently in--when I get very little, if any, cleaning done, besides the everyday stuff (doing dishes, picking up toys, etc.)

And, considering that staying at home to take care of my family and home is my primary "job," when my house isn't clean, I feel guilty.

So this post is meant to encourage myself, and encourage you fellow "guilty" parties, to look at things a little differently.

Why are my tile floors dirty, and why are my bathrooms begging for a sponge and some cleaner? Well, let's see....
  • Monday was the last day my parents were in town, and we had a great day together.
  • Tuesday I did lots of laundry.
  • Wednesday I spent all day with Little Sis. I made granola, and together we made bread. We played on the computer and played the Wii.
  • As I'm writing this Thursday afternoon, I've just recently said goodbye to a friend of mine and her two kids--the kids had a blast playing together today.

Maybe by the time this posts on Friday morning I will have gotten a little cleaning done. Maybe not. But really, should I feel guilty?

Here's how I see it, when I push the guilt aside and think rationally: Spending time with family may not be work, but it's important. Hanging out with Little Sis may be fun, but it's also important. Having a play date may not improve my home's cleanliness, but it's important. Even blogging, my creative outlet, may not be drudgery, but to me it's important.

Are you seeing the pattern here? What should really be my priority--getting enough housework done to prevent that silly guilt, or doing what's important?

Now, I'm not advocating living in squalor. I'd be miserable in a house that I rarely or never cleaned. But I am advocating giving ourselves a break when we need it. I'm suggesting we remember that it's okay for a house to look lived in.

There are a lot of truly important things I can spend my time doing...things that, in the long run, will matter a whole lot more than that pesky accumulation of dust on my entertainment center.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sampa's Snack

My dad has the same snack almost every night, and after his recent visit, I've picked up the habit. I'm writing this at a little past 10 on Wednesday night, and I just finished mine--it was so good!

Sampa's Snack

Mix, to taste...
Yogurt (I use plain)
Berries (I use frozen, thawed in microwave)
Granola (I use homemade CrockPot granola)


Yes, it's similar to the Parfait sold at McDonald's. But it sure is nice knowing exactly what's in it--and knowing that what's in it is good stuff.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A little of him, a little of me

I look at my kids and can clearly see certain traits they've inherited from me, and others that came from The Engineer. Let's take Chickie for example.

She has Daddy's hazel eyes and Mommy's wavy hair. Daddy's determined personality and Mommy's love of reading. Daddy's enjoyment of the outdoors and Mommy's coordination.

Unfortunately, having Mommy's coordination is not a good thing. I'm lucky I ever learned to walk with my two left feet, and when I try to learn choreography, it's the stuff hidden camera TV shows are made of.

Chickie loves to be active. She wants to go outside to play with her friends whenever she sees them, and she'd happily swing on her new playscape in humid, 95 degree weather if Mommy would push her. But give the girl a tricycle, or a tee ball bat, or a scooter, and she proves herself to be my daughter--that is to say, it just doesn't go very smoothly.

We want her to be active, so we're encouraging her in her desire to go outside and have fun. And at this age she's not embarrassed that she can't seem to pedal that trike, or that swinging a bat doesn't come naturally to her. I hope she can keep that confidence.

You see, I may not have a lot of natural coordination, but I think I could have developed more athletic skills if I'd just tried. Instead, I labeled myself as "not athletic," and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I bet that even if Chickie doesn't have a huge amount of natural coordination, she can still learn some good athletic skills. It just might take some work.

I do notice that Chickie gets quickly frustrated when something doesn't come easily. She rarely tries to pedal that tricycle, knowing she can get around more easily on her little car (which she has a hole in the bottom for feet, Fred Flinstone-style.) Some of this may just be her age--three-year-olds are not naturally patient! But if any readers have ideas on how to encourage her to keep trying when learning a new skill is frustrating her, I'd like to hear them.

Even if Chickie isn't the first picked for teams, and even if she finds that learning dance steps isn't second-nature, maybe she won't worry too much about what other kids think. I have high hopes--she may have Mommy's coordination, but she has Daddy's confidence. All in all, that's not such a bad combination.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday (uh, Tuesday) Micro: Goodbye

We've had a great several days with my parents here. They are leaving this morning.

Despite Chickie informing my mom that she will be coming on the plane with them, I'm having to face the harsh truth: Once again, I've got to be a real mom of two, withut grandparents here to babysit, help with cooking, and even change occasional diapers.

I'm so incredibly blessed to have parents who are great company for The Engineer and me, and who adore their grandchildren. I'll miss you guys. Thanks for the great visit.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Zoodle's dedication

With my parents in town this weekend, I wanted to dedicate Zoodle to God at church. Here is the e-mail exchange I had with Kenny, our pastor:

Kenny--My parents will be in town next Sunday the 14th. Can we do Zoodle's dedication that day?


Yes, that would be great!!! If you want me to do anything specific let me know.


Hmm, anything specific. I was thinking we could start doing some sort of cool war paint like Native Americans do for their ceremonies? What do you think?


I was thinking more along the lines of the Vulcan mind meld. :) I don't really even know what that means. :/


Despite our creative ideas, we settled on the normal dedication ceremony.

For the important occasion, Zoodle dressed up in his best shirt, tie, and pocket square.


The brief dedication was great. Pastor Kenny talked about what it means to raise a child in God's ways, and he prayed for us to have wisdom as Zoodle's parents. (We need that wisdom!)

(Left to right: My dad, my mom, Chickie, me, Zoodle, The Engineer, & Pastor Kenny)

Dedicating Zoodle was a memorable, important occasion. (But I still think war paint and a Vulcan mind meld would have been fun!)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Recently I was at Hobby Lobby with the kids. Chickie didn't want to leave. I was frustrated and used a tactic I've seen lots of parents use. You've probably witnessed it too.

"Okay," I told Chickie when I called her and she didn't come. "'Goodbye!"

Chickie immediately burst into frightened tears.


I had to assure her that I wouldn't leave her there. I was also in the awkward position of having to repeatedly answer her question, "Why did you say, 'Goodbye'?"

I realized right away what a silly thing I had done. If Chickie had known it was an idle threat, it wouldn't have gone very far to motivate her. When she thought it was a genuine threat, it scared her and made her feel insecure with one of the people in this world who should make her feel the most secure.

Sometimes falling flat on your figurative face can really open your eyes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

This blog post could make you a life saver

For years I have wanted to sign up with the U.S. bone marrow registry for potential donors (now called the Be The Match RegistrySM.) Let me be more accurate--for years I've felt like I needed to sign up, like I'm being drawn to do it. I even started the process online a few years ago, and stopped when I decided I wasn't ready to pay the money it costs to have tissue typing done (currently $52.)

Last week I again pulled up the website and kept it open on my computer for several days, meaning to talk to The Engineer about the cost. Imagine my surprise when, yesterday morning, I glanced at the site--and saw that they are doing a Marrowthon hoping to add 46,000 people to the registry, and tissue typing is currently FREE until June 22 or until funding runs out!

Be The MatchSM performs simple tissue typing (via a cheek swab, not a blood sample) and stores information so that when someone needs a marrow donor, potential matches can be contacted for further testing, and the best match can be chosen. Marrow donation is not painful, as it is performed under anesthesia. Some achiness is often experienced after the donation, and all donor symptoms are gone in 21 days on average. Read more about the donation process here and here.

Signing up online takes about 10-15 minutes. At the end you'll be given the option to donate money, but it's not required. I'm now waiting on my testing kit, which will provide me with a swab so I can surrender a few of my cheek cells (I'll never miss 'em!) to the registry.

Will you consider registering as a potential bone marrow donor? You might save the life of someone with cancer or another life-threatening disease. Be sure to do it soon before the special offer expires or the funding runs out. (Today would be great timing, don't you think?) Go to the Be The MatchSM website to read more or to register.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Guest post: Stuck on you

Several weeks ago, I was supposed to go on vacation, and several awesome readers of this blog volunteered to write guest posts for me to use while I was gone. Well, due to a family emergency (not in my family), the vacation was cancelled, but I was left with these fantastic guest posts! I'm digging one out for today, since I'm busy preparing for my parents to come spend a few days with us. I hope you enjoy ElleBee's post!


Hello all you wonderful C.Beth readers!

In the blogosphere, I go by ElleBee. I author two blogs: "Musings of a Working Diva" and "Enthusiastically ElleBee". IRL, I'm married with two boys, Sweet Son #1 and The Manimal. I work full-time outside the home and in my nearly non-existent spare time, I'm very involved with our church.

C.Beth writes a lot about her little ones, as so many bloggers do. Anyone with children could probably rattle off a list of things they've learned from parenting. In my very first "real" blog post, I wrote about a discovery I'd made--an affliction shared by all male humans, regardless of age: Male Pattern Blindness. Simply put, Male Pattern Blindness is the inability of males to see something unless it is right in front of their eyes.

Recently, a friend of mine, Carolyn, reminded me of another syndrome, this one associated with all children of particular ages. Boys and girls alike, most often affecting older infants, certain toddlers, and even some in the 'tween stage.

She calls it "Human Velcro", and defines it as the desire for children to be no further than two inches from their maternal parental figure at all times.

My youngest nephew, Baby Bean, is 18 months old and is thoroughly infected with Human Velcro Syndrome (HVS). Diva Nana and Diva Papa took Sweet Son #1 to Texas to visit over Spring break. My older nephews, Tex (age 6) and Sir Falls-a-Lot (age 5) were THRILLED to see their grandparents and cousin. Baby Bean, on the other hand was thrilled as well.

From a distance.

Any time he was approached by an adult other than mom, he was, well...let's just say he was LESS than thrilled.

Both of my boys went through it. Sweet Son #1 went through a few days where he would scream "Mommmeeee!" at the top of his lungs if I went out of his sight, for even a minute or two. When The Manimal realized that he wasn't physically attached to me, and I could actually separate my body from his, he started saying "Hold you!", which he still says to this day when he wants me to hold him.

Lately, though, I've started wondering if this syndrome isn't contagious. Princess the Wonder Dog has recently begun following me around the house. I can't turn around too quickly or without checking the floor first, because I'm liable to trip over a fur child.

Perhaps we've discovered a rare case of Canine Velcro Syndrome.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oh...there you are.

I was reading my friend Janell's blog the other day, in which she confessed to some scatterbrained tendencies. (Janell is honest enough to use the "scatterbrained" term. Most of us chalk up our forgetfulness to "Mommy brain," which is really just the excuse we use when we're too young for "senior moments.") Her stories reminded me of an incident from Zoodle's infancy.

We were at a church event. Zoodle had been passed from person to person. Suddenly I realized that the last person I remembered seeing him with had left, and I didn't know where he was.

"Where's Zoodle?" I asked The Engineer in an anxious voice.

He gave me that look--you know, the one that requires no words to say, "Have you totally gone off your rocker?"

And I realized Zoodle was very close to me.

On my lap.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The happiness of health

Well, Zoodle got past his stomach bug.

Then Chickie got it, in a different form--not as bad, but still not fun.

Then I--the one who hadn't had a stomach bug in maybe 15 years--got it.

I was not a happy camper. I remember having one of these viruses when I was a teenager and musing how absolutely dreadful it felt. And when it happened again, I found that my memories were pretty accurate. It's not fun. Thankfully it was a quick, 24-hour thing, and it happened on the weekend, when The Engineer could cover for me with the kids. By Monday morning I felt fantastic again.

But feeling crummy made me think about all the people I know, or know of, who have had chemotherapy, and the terrible side effects that go along with it--for a lot longer than 24 hours. It made me think about friends who have had terrible "morning sickness" all day long, for all nine months of pregnancy.

And it made me appreciate the fact that I'm usually healthy, and that when I get sick, I get over it quickly. I don't know if it will always be that way, but for now, I have a renewed gratitude for my health.

What is something positive that you tend to take for granted in your life? I hope you'll join me today in taking a minute to be thankful.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Giveaway--16 GB IPod Touch!

I am so excited about this giveaway! I'm hosting it on a new blog that's specifically for giveaways and reviews. Click below to check it out, and good luck--you might be the one to win an iPod Touch!

And be sure to check out today's Monday Micro post, below.

Monday Micro: Honesty

Chickie sat on my lap and started rubbing her hand along the bottom of my leg. Then she said it.

"That's a cactus, Mommy!"

I guess it's time to shave.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Brief bits of fiction

My other blog, The One-Minute Writer, encourages readers to spend 60 seconds or less writing a response to a daily writing prompt. Friday is my favorite day for that blog--it's Friday Fiction. On Fridays, readers are asked to write a brief bit of fiction. I expect that more often than not, more than one minute will be spent writing on that day, and that's just fine.

When I participate in Friday Fiction, I have a ball. I'd like to share a few of my Friday Fiction writings. I edit minimally, if at all--the idea of The One-Minute Writer is to write quickly, to get the creative juices flowing, not to write perfectly. Here we go--hope you enjoy!

June 5, 2009
Friday Fiction: Breakfast
Write a brief fictional piece that involves breakfast.

I couldn't take my eyes off his hands. In his right was a sharp knife, which he was using to very carefully carve a perfect piece of bread.

"You do understand," he said in a calm voice, as if talking about the weather, "that we have a business arrangement?"

I nodded slowly as he spread a thin layer of butter on the bread.

"And if you do not, for whatever reason, pay my organization what you owe...."

He paused long enough to slowly drizzle honey in an even zig-zag across the slice of bread. Then he continued.

"Then, Regina, we will have no choice but to ensure that is the last chance you have to make such an error."

For the first time, I tore my eyes away from his hands and looked up. His eyes were dark black. His mouth curved into a smile, and I looked again at his hand, which he was using to offer me the knife.

His even voice continued. "Would you like a slice of bread?"

May 29, 2009
Friday Fiction: Epiphany
Write a brief, fictional piece about a character experiencing an epiphany (sudden, often life-changing, realization.)

I woke up that morning, June 24, 1965. The world seemed clearer than it ever had before. Birds outside my window were twittering in such a way that I could almost understand them. The smell of coffee was more deliciously pungent than it had been the day before. The red trim on my curtains was brighter, more crisp.

And my mind was alive in a way it never had been. Suddenly I knew the truth. Everything around me--the birds, the coffee, the curtains, my wife, the world--was a figment of my imagination. Even my young body was not real. The only thing that truly exists, I suddenly realized, is my mind.

The truth of this was thrilling and freeing. None of my worries have any merit since nothing physical actually exists. My mind is all there is in the universe.

I stood up and loosened my jockey shorts, letting them fall around my ankles. Stepping out of them, I made my way through the kitchen. I did not return my wife's greeting; I knew that I'd created her, and I'd created that greeting.

I opened the front door and walked across my lawn (how green it looked!) and into the middle of the street, reveling in the way the wind swirled around my naked body. I loved the way the world of my creation felt that day.

When my neighbors saw me they whispered, pointed, and laughed, and I laughed too, reveling in what a fantastic job I'd done, imagining these varied people I thought I'd lived next to for the past six years. I couldn't get the smile off my face as I continued to walk toward Main Street, enjoying my creation with every step.

May 22, 2009
Friday Fiction: Steal
Write a brief bit of fiction, including in it the word "steal" (or some version of that word.

I felt silly, with this wide grin on my face, as I said, "A grande decaf soy latte, please."

"You look happy today," the barista commented.

"Yeah," I responded, but I didn't go into detail, just continued to inwardly savor this time.

My drink was quickly made, and I took it. I found a tiny table in a corner and sat with a happy sigh. I spread out the three books I'd brought--a popular science tome, a mystery novel, and a trashy fashion magazine--and almost giggled at the decision I had to make. I grabbed the novel and cracked it open, and as I sipped my latte, I read.

I read my book, with no interruptions. No diapers to change, no snotty noses, no sibling squabbles to break up. I just read my book, and as I read I continued to grin, thrilled that I could steal away some time to myself today--time to be a woman, not just a mom.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again! To learn about Six Word Saturdays, and participate, just click on the button below. It'll take you to Call Me Cate's blog, Show My Face, which hosts Six Word Saturdays.

My six words for this week...

Sometimes parenting is really, really disgusting.

Zoodle is doing well, but Chickie got the bug yesterday. (Thankfully she's not as sick as Zoodle was.) If a genie comes out of a bottle in my house, I'm asking that neither of my kids ever gets a stomach/intestinal virus again.

(Edit, Saturday a.m.--Chickie is doing much better this morning!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Truly exceptional

It's always nice to know that your child is in some way exceptional. I have a friend (Hi, Kendra!) who has spent lots of time with Chickie in our church nursery. One day Kendra assured me, "Beth, I've taught preschool for years, and Chickie is one of the most oral children I have ever met."

One of the most oral children. In other words, she puts everything in her mouth. I'm so proud.

It's much better than it used to be, but I remember Chickie's oral fixations being a source of unending frustration to me, during her first two-plus years of life. When she was a year old, I didn't even want to take her to the park, because it was so frustrating trying to keep her from putting sand, leaves, and dirt in her mouth. I'd pick her up from the church nursery and prepare to hear what she'd eaten that day. (Stickers? Crayons? Play-Doh?) And of course there was that infamous McDonalds floor-licking incident.

The worst part of having an exceptionally oral child is that you end up with lots of calls to Poison Control. (Yes, I childproof. No, I'm not perfect.) First it was hand sanitizer. Then some sort of cleaner (just a little bit, thankfully.) Then fruit-scented roll-on soap. (It should be ILLEGAL to put a yummy-smelling scent in a child's product that is not meant to be eaten.) Each time she was just fine, but I felt like a terrible mother. The Poison Control operators are very friendly, and I'm thinking about inviting them to our next birthday party since we know them so well.

Next time Chickie has a red tongue from sucking on a marker, walks around with a stuffed animal hanging out of her mouth, or tries to lap up the dog's water, I'll just take a deep breath and remind myself of this: My daughter likes to put things in her mouth, likes it so much that she stands out from other kids. My daughter is exceptional.

(Chickie at 8 months)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Organized Spontaneity

My mom is amazing. She keeps her house so clean, thanks to the specific tasks she has scheduled for every weekday.

I'd love for my house to look like hers, but I'll be honest with you--that level of organization is just stressful to me. What happens when something comes up and I miss a day? Do I have to reschedule everything, or just skip the task altogether, or double up the next day?

So I don't even try to be as organized as she is when it comes to keeping a clean house. And I'll be honest with you--my house has never been, and may never be, nearly as clean as hers.

But I've realized a couple of things in the last couple of years:
  • I'm happier with a clean house, and if I don't have some sort of plan, it doesn't get done. And that's just plain gross.
  • I like to cook, but if I don't go to the grocery store with a plan and a list, I spend too much money, don't buy the things we really need, and end up stumped on what to make for dinner.
So I have my own methods of organizing my cleaning and meal planning--methods that let me stay sorta kinda caught up, while allowing me to keep my spontaneous side alive. Here's how I do it.

I've broken up the basic cleaning in my house into five categories:
  1. Clean tile floors (vacuum/mop)
  2. Dust
  3. Vacuum carpets
  4. Clean bathrooms
  5. Clean kitchen (inside of microwave, outside of appliances, sink, etc.)
On days when I have the time and motivation to clean, I do one of those tasks. I don't do them in a regular order. I end up cleaning the tile more often than anything else (because my kids make so many messes,) and cleaning the kitchen less often than anything else (since I already do light cleaning when I do dishes.)

But in general I try to get most of my cleaning done every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks. It's not as often as I "should," but it's often enough to keep us from living in squalor. And if I get behind, I'm only a week or so away from being caught up.

Now, I recognize that if you are the type to keep your house really clean, every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks probably sounds dreadful. (And you'd really be horrified when I let it go longer than that.) But it works well enough, and when my kids are a little bigger, hopefully I'll get things done more often.

I have a meal plan, but I don't assign meals to specific days. I sit down and pick several main dishes (usually five or six) that I want to make, and I type the titles into a Word document. When a recipe is online (as most of mine are), I link to it in the document so I can easily get to it. Then I use the recipes I've chosen, and my refrigerator shopping list, to make a typed list, organized by category. Here's a portion of my current meal plan/shopping list:


When I'm at the store I usually remember some other things we need, and there are items I nearly always buy but don't always have on the list, like fresh fruit. I don't do coupons, and I don't use the print ads. That would save us money, but I've tried it, and the time it took just wasn't worth it to me.

By the way, I don't do much planning when it comes to side dishes, unless I've found a recipe that just looks great. I usually just keep a variety of the basics around--veggies, salad, bread, etc.

Over the course of a couple of weeks or so, on a night I plan to cook, I open the meal plan document, decide which recipe I want to use, and make it. I only make a big meal every two or three days; we eat leftovers and simpler meals (such as bean and cheese burritos) on most of the other days. In between major shopping trips, I make grocery store runs with shorter, handwritten lists.

There you have it--my organized spontaneity. It's not perfect, but it's a pretty good fit for imperfect me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This time I DO want advice

Zoodle woke up three times last night. Each time he vomited twice. That's the most vomiting either of my kids have done, and I don't generally get stomach bugs, so I don't have much experience here.

I've heard I should still breastfeed him, but does that mean as much as he wants? Do I need to worry about over-feeding him and bothering his tummy more? I nursed him a few minutes ago, and so far he's kept it down (which he was unable to do in the middle of the night), so hopefully we're past the worst of it. But in case he does vomit again, I'd like to know how to handle it.

He was willing to drink a little water in the middle of the night. Should I stick with water, or pick up some Pedialyte?

Should I stay away from any solid food until the vomiting stops?

I think he does have a fever, if that makes any difference.

Thanks for any suggestions and advice that might help get us through this tummy bug!

Zoodle Wordle

The other day when I shared some of my browser bookmarks with you, I mentioned the Wordle website. Here is an image I created there:


Isn't that fun? I'm having it printed by Winkflash ($2.38 for an 8x10, including shipping), and I'll buy a cute, cheap frame so I can put this in Zoodle's western-themed nursery.

I love that a time-wasting website like Wordle is turning out to help me in a very practical way in my quest to decorate Zoodle's room!

By the way, here are a couple of tips in case you want to make your own Wordle. First--to make some words bigger than others, type them more than once. I typed "cowboy" three times, and typed all the other words one or two times. Second, my Wordle was not the right dimensions for a standard frame, so I used my graphics program to get it to the right size. If you need any help with the process, feel free to e-mail me at cbethblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Soon, the long-overdue nursery will be complete, and I think the Zoodle Wordle will really add to the look! (Plus, "Zoodle Wordle" is just fun to say. Zoodle Wordle! Zoodle Wordle! Zoodle Wordle!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happy feet

I got a pair of new sandals a couple of weeks ago.


I am loving these! Now, they did take a bit of time to break in, but now that I have, they are so comfy. They're both soft and supportive, and the leather upper is now nice and flexible. Fantastic.

And I got them for $20! I love deals like this. When I can find a quality product (in this case, Naturalizer brand) for the same price I'd pay for an inferior product at a big box store, I'm in heaven. I picked these up at Ross, and I've found great shoes for myself, The Engineer, Chickie, and Zoodle there, at various times.

You may have never thought to venture into Ross for shoes. I highly recommend it. You never know what you'll find, but if you get lucky, you'll walk out of there with a pair of happy feet.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Micro: Legos

For seven years, a man named Barry Galloway was our pastor. This was one of my favorite things that he ever said:

Legos blocks come in all sizes. Some pieces have one or two posts; they can only connect to one or two other blocks. Some Legos have enough posts to connect with dozens of other blocks.

People are like Legos. We're all made differently. Some of us can connect deeply with only one or two others in friendship; some can have close friendships with many people. Find out what type of Lego you are. And don't feel like you have to change it.