Friday, October 31, 2008


The Engineer loves meat. A well-cooked steak transports him into realms of ecstasy. If I made Angie & Elvis' incredible meatloaf once a week, I think that alone would ensure we'd have a long marriage. Add mashed potatoes, and it would doubtless be a long and happy marriage.

I...well, I like meat. But I also appreciate beans and lentils and quinoa. I think I could be a fairly happy vegetarian--not a vegan, as I'm far too fond of dairy. But a vegetarian? Sure, I might miss steak and chicken at times, but I could swing it.

So sometimes I risk The Engineer's skepticism and make exciting, meatless meals. Recently I found a great-looking recipe for lentil soup. I started making it, then realized my bag of lentils was almost empty, so I created my own recipe, adding two or three kinds of beans, along with barley and other wholesome ingredients. When I added a spoonful of sour cream to my bowl, it was pretty good. It made a ton, so I froze a bag of it.

A few days ago, I put the frozen soup in the fridge to thaw it. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but when I was about to go to dinner with Hillary and her family, I pulled out the soup and sour cream and told the Engineer, "You can have this for dinner."

Now, I don't recall putting frog eyes or dried spiders in that soup. The expression on The Engineer's face said otherwise.

"Or," I said, "there are chicken tenders in the freezer."

So the hearty, homemade soup went back in the fridge, and the processed, breaded chicken went in the oven.

Now, I'd better add ground beef to my grocery list--it's been a couple of weeks since I made meatloaf.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chickie's big night

Tonight Chickie got two new toys--Lofty and Benny (from Bob the Builder.) Plus we went to the store to pick out candy of her choice (a plastic car full of what was labeled as candy but ended up being gum.)

I don't know if the ever-escalating bribery had anything to do with it, but I was very happy to fulfill my toy and candy promises when...

...Chickie pooped in the potty for the very first time.

Something so putrid never smelled so sweet.

Dad the parent

When Chickie was little, a friend told us adamantly, "Dads are not babysitters when they take care of children! They are parents!" I fully agree--and yet I appreciate how hard it can be for a dad who's been working all day to come home to extra kid duty so that Mom can spend time with friends.

The Engineer is working toward a fast-approaching deadline at work. It's stressful. When he got home last night I hurriedly gave him instructions and updates on dinner, Chickie's poop possibilities, Zoodle's fever, and bedtimes, then rushed out. Fellow blogger Hillary is in town with her husband and son, and we wanted to meet in person. When the kids got sick, our plans changed--from them coming to our house, to me meeting them for dinner.

Of course, that means the childcare fell to The Engineer. And what an evening for childcare. Zoodle's fever changed him from a mellow baby into an angry baby; when The Engineer called me with a medication question, I could hear Zoodle's screams in the background. Chickie's feeling fine now but suffering the effects of two nights of choppy sick kid sleep, and when I got home, The Engineer was putting her to bed...again.

Thanks, my dear Engineer, for being the type of parent who gives me a break when I need it, even when you really needed a break too.

(And, Hillary, it was great to meet you guys!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cheese & Whine


Nothing like a big, beautiful, cheesy smile to brighten your day:


I for one need that gorgeous smile today! Chickie has been sick with a fever and an icky nose since Monday,which means she isn't sleeping so well. Then last night I discovered that Zoodle's got a fever too. Sometimes I wish Chickie would share a little less.

My second whine is potty training-related. Yes, Where's the Poop? is an adorable book. No, it hasn't led to Chickie actually pooping in the potty. I should be calm and patient, knowing that it will happen, and that I can't force it. I should be thrilled that the pee pee portion of our training is going swimmingly.

Instead I'm impatient, trying everything I can think of to help Chickie overcome her fear of pushing that poopy out where it belongs, and frustrated that it's just not happening.

I've resigned myself to the fact that it might take baby steps. Today Chickie had her big girl panties off and pooped on the tile outside the bathroom. Before potty training, I certainly wouldn't have known that I'd congratulate my daughter for doing her business on the floor. Yet as I cleaned off her legs, I smiled and enthusiastically told her how wonderful it was that she hadn't pooped in her panties and that she was near the bathroom when it happened.

Parenting ain't glamorous. It's full of whining--sometimes theirs and occasionally mine. Thank goodness for the cheesy smiles. They remind me that parenting (complete with rectal thermometers, misplaced poop, and 2 a.m. trips upstairs) is the best job in the world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And so it begins...

There are some unwritten rules for American parents.

1. Teach your child to appreciate living in a free country.
2. Help your child to learn respect for others.
3. At some point, sell your soul to Disney.

Somehow, I felt I was finally following rule number 3 when I pre-ordered the WALL-E DVD today. It doesn't come out until November 18, and by the time it arrives it'll still be a month until Christmas, when a thrilled Chickie will finally get to rip off the wrapping paper. Until then, we'll probably watch the trailer online approximately 6,000 times.

You may recall that Chickie loooooves WALL-E. So when a WALL-E ad popped up on my blog today, I clicked. And when I saw that pre-orders come with four free lithographs, I bit, and I bought.

If that's not enough to prove that Disney finally owns me, check out the WALL-E widget at the very bottom of my blog. My goodness, I'm advertising for them without even getting paid for it. But, really, who doesn't want to know the number of days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the DVD release? And, really, was your day complete without playing the WALL-E cup game?

And I don't even mind too much that I've bought into their pervasive marketing, because I'm just really excited. It's a great movie, and Chickie will be thrilled, and...and, well, at least I'm in the company of many, many other parents who have discovered that Disney's draw is just too much to resist.

At least she hasn't gotten into the whole Disney Princess thing.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Magic Number

I was tagged by ElleBee to reveal seven things about me you might not know. I'm taking "you" to mean things those of you who haven't known me for years. Here we go....

1. My identical twin sister and I were co-valedictorians of our high school class. We were both very competitive and that was the result.

2. The first poem I remember writing was when I was seven. Here it was:
I love to splash in puddles.
I love to run in the rain.
I love to open my umbrella.
It's just like a game.

Rain helps things grow
As you probably know
And this has been a long enough poem
So I think I'll have to go.

Apparently I ran out of descriptors for rain at about the sixth line.

3. I have really bad eyes. When I finally got contacts I could sleep in, The Engineer said, "Oh, that's too bad! Now I can't keep making faces at you in the morning before you put your contacts in, knowing you won't be able to tell what I'm doing!"

4. I love the movie The Princess Bride. Say it with me, fellow fans! "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

5. My sister and I had a paper route in high school. We took it over from our brother, who had been a paper carrier for years before graduating. Eventually my mom helped us with it, too. I was so embarrassed but now I think back to what an ideal job it was for a busy high school kid. And riding my bike was great exercise!

6. I've had 17 teeth pulled--four permanent teeth, ten baby teeth that weren't coming out quickly enough for my orthodontist, and my three wisdom teeth (didn't have a fourth.) I used to like going to get baby teeth pulled because they gave me laughing gas. I think I'm lucky I'm not a drug addict now.

7. When I was pregnant with Chickie I cut 12 inches off my hair. I've kept it pretty short ever since but I'm now in the process of growing it out again.

I've been instructed to tag seven people (since seven is the magic number here), so, no obligation, but if you'd like to play, please do--Bri, Becky, lestes65, Caroline, Mommazilla, Hillary, Dad, and anyone else who wants to play.

By the way, this is my second post today. Be sure to check out the first as it's a must-read...unless you're dieting. Then stay far, far away.

Your to-do list for today:

1. Check your cabinets and fridge for real butter, peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and semisweet chocolate chips.
2. If you don't have any of these ingredients, drop everything, go to the nearest store, and stock up.
3. Make these easy, incredible cookies: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
4. Bask in the praise of your family and friends...if you want to share the yumminess. If you don't want to share, simply bask in the praise of your own very happy tastebuds.

(Remember, you can find more of my favorite recipes, and dishes I'm planning to try, at my Delicious page. When I try recipes I comment on them (or delete them if I don't think I'll make them again)--so scroll down to find lots of dishes I've already tested!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Art pen pals

If you want to be part of the art pen pal thing I'm setting up (read more here), please let me know--I'll be getting it organized within the next couple of days.

If you signed up, I need your mailing address. Please send it to cbethblog (at) gmail (dot) com. I promise I will only sell it to the highest bidder. (Really, I'll only give it to the person I assign to send you their artwork!)

And no, Anna (see comments), you may not send a child as your work of art, though I did get a good laugh out of that idea!

Isn't she a little young for this?

Clementine season is coming soon! Clementines are basically tangerines (although my quick Google search made it clear they are not quite the same thing), and they are little spheres of juicy goodness. They are even seedless. (Well, except the one I gave to The Engineer one time, after singing their juicy, seedless praises. That one had eleven seeds in it.)

Last year I bought some Cuties brand Clementines. Chickie likes to play with the little stickers that come on produce. Some time after I'd eaten my yummy snack, I discovered that she'd put the sticker on one of The Engineer's books.

Let's zoom in a bit, shall we?

Yes, that's a sticker reading "Kiss a Cutie," and my two-year-old Chickie put it right on Ben Affleck's lips.

Oh, my, her teenage years are going to be an adventure, aren't they?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fellow cyclists...

Well, it's been 2 1/2 weeks since a few of us agreed to start doing bicycle ab exercises. How's it going? If you haven't gotten started, now's still a good time. It seems to be making a difference for me! Not ready to post any before and after pics...but I do think I'm seeing a gradual tightening of my former baby belly!

She's a natural mama

We tried to feed Zoodle bananas on his half birthday--our first attempt at feeding him solids. He liked the taste, but he was totally clueless on what to do. There was no swallowing involved, just a strong tongue-thrust reflex.

A couple of weeks later we tried again. Same results.

Thursday he was six days short of the seven month mark, and when I saw overripe bananas on the countertop I decided to give it another shot. The tongue-thrust reflex seemed to be lessened, but he still didn't understand how to swallow the yummy stuff.

I knew there wasn't any hurry, since breastmilk is nutritionally complete for infants, but I thought I'd see if anyone else was having the same issue. I went to my Internet group of parents with babies Zoodle's age, and began to type a post about Zoodle's difficulty eating.

Before I finished, I looked over and realized Chickie was holding the bowl of smushed bananas in one hand and the spoon in the other and that she'd just put a bite in Zoodle's mouth.

"No, Chickie!" I said. I explained to her that it's Mommy's job to feed Zoodle.

Then I realized he wasn't spitting the food out.

And I heard a swallow.

A few minutes later, he'd finished his very first (small) meal of solid foods, thanks to his sister giving him the first successful bite.

You'd think I might be threatened by a toddler who's got "the touch" when I couldn't get him to eat. But I'm not.... I'm just trying to decide if she's old enough to babysit yet. I'm sure I could teach her to change diapers, maybe even teach her a little infant CPR. Any thoughts?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kids and the time/space continuum

Any other Heroes fans out there? One of the characters, Hiro Nakamura, can bend time and space. He can freeze time, transport himself across the world, and come back, restarting time so that no one knows he was gone.

I need that power. Instead my kids have their own effect on the time/space continuum. They make everything I do take more time. And if something important is nearby, they somehow bend space to transport that object into their not-so-careful hands. Or maybe they just wait until my back is turned; I'm not sure.

My real estate license is up for renewal at the end of this month, and despite the fact that I haven't been working lately, I do like to keep the license active. But with my kids' adverse affects on time and space, completing my Mandatory Continuing Education was more, well, adventurous than it had been in the past.

First there's the time thing. I signed up to take my course via correspondence. But have you ever sat down and tried to read a boring textbook with kids around? Talk about distractions. I'm thinking about demanding at least double credit for that "15 hour" course.

Then there's the fact that I am blessed with kids who love books. Well, Chickie loves books; Zoodle just loves anything he can get his grabby little hands on. They must have used their space-bending powers to transport my textbook into their hands, because it's not in the best shape. Let me show you.

That, my friends, is a book that has been knocked into the tub by a toddler. For the last half of my reading, I had the pleasure of carefully peeling wet (later merely damp) pages apart.

And then I discovered that Zoodle is already learning to eat his words.

I grabbed the book from him and fished the soggy torn up bits of pages out of his mouth, bemoaning that I couldn't in good conscience take the time to snap a picture of him actually devouring it.

In two more years, I'll be renewing my license again. But I have a plan this time. I'm going to start petitioning the state Real Estate Commission to update me on real estate law changes via a video course featuring characters from Sesame Street, Super Why, and Sid the Science Kid. I'll pop in the DVD, plop the kiddos on my lap, and actually get through it in 15 hours. When they also agree to create a board book version of the textbook, I'll be good to go.


On an unrelated note...anyone feeling artsy? I came across a cool idea on Michelle Brunner's blog--she's an art teacher, and I enjoy the art she posts on her site (and sells on Etsy!) Anyway, here's her suggestion:

"If you have time today send someone you care about something arty like a card you made, a quick sketch, anything! Become art pen-pals! Have the other person send you something they drew or painted back...even if they are not an artist! I don't know about you but getting real mail...aka non bills or junk mail is a real treat and does not usually happen!"

Now, I have almost no art training and won't be winning any art contests any time soon, but I do love to draw and think it would be fun to exchange hastily done, totally amateur, little pieces of art with someone who reads this blog. I'll probably be using some of Chickie's paints. Anyone want to do it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Sandra's blog post yesterday was an excellent post about giving specific compliments. I get so much out of the blogs I read, and I wanted to take a minute to tell some of you fellow bloggers what I really enjoy about you and your writings.

Angie, I always know when I post something geeky that you will relate to it, and I mean that as a high compliment! I think it's so cool how you and Ronnie partner up in parenting and occasionally even in blogging. I wish you lived closer, but maybe one of us can visit the other again sometime. Oh, and Mojo ROCKS!!!!

Anna, you do such a great job as a mom to three boys! Pictures tell a lot, and your boys look so happy. I know a whole lot of that has to do with their loving mom.

Becky, I feel like we've gotten to know each other through blogging, and that has been fun! You are so encouraging in leaving so many comments, and your you have a knack for writing entertaining stories in a natural "voice".

Blite Not Whack, your blog posts about The Diva are entertaining! She is such a smart little girl and SO adorable. I'm looking forward to reading more as she grows up and keeps coming up with funny things to say. Oh, I love your blog title, too.

Bri, it amazes me that you manage to blog with five kids, even when your husband was deployed! You are a confident, loving mama. Your kids are lucky to have you, and your country is blessed with the sacrifices you guys make for us.

Brook, I love the conscientious, involved style to your parenting, as it's conveyed in your blog posts. Garrett is a lucky baby and I expect him to grow up confident and secure. I definitely relate to you as a mom.

Caroline, every time I see you've posted, I'm excited! You are such a funny, devoted mama, and your ability to keep your posts from becoming too wordy has helped me. You have one of the best humor blogs I've read.

Claire, I'm so glad you've started blogging! I'm looking forward to seeing more pictures since you have such a talent for photography. Give kisses to your sweet boys for me! I miss you!

Dwell and Cultivate, you are a natural blogger and I look forward to reading your new post every day! I've always loved your wisdom, so getting a daily dose of it (along with some laughter here and there) is a privilege, from so many miles away.

Faith of All Crafts, your beautiful crafts are inspiring, and you have been inspiring to me as a parent for a long time. I hope I can do as well with two kids as you do with four! One of these days we'll meet in person; I think I'm due for a trip to AZ before long.

Hillary, you are an inspiration to me with your bold faith! I'm psyched to meet you guys in person next week...woo hoo!!!

K (The Scoop), I am SO blessed to have gotten back in touch with you after all the years apart! Your blog makes it obvious that you and P are such devoted, involved parents, and DD is happy, loved, and adorable. Thank you for being such an awesome, loving friend. You are a treasure!

Kara, your blog is such a great idea and also the absolute cutest, best-looking blog I've seen. I'm excited to see it catch on as you keep writing, and I'm looking forward to trying more of your recipes! Also, thanks for taking part in my other blog; I love reading your one minute writings!

, you are such a precious real life friend, and I'm so glad you've shared your blog with me! Your joy in parenting shines through--it may not always be easy, but you were made to be a mama.

Kerri, you are my hero for your ability to write funny blog posts that are short and easy to read. Want to give some non-verbosity lessons? I'll be first in line!

Jonah Lisa, you so totally impress me with what a hands-on mom you are...all the crafts, your genuine commitment to protecting the earth, and the fantastic dishes you cook. And I'm loving the Sheriff's Log!

Lyndsay, you are SO funny. You're a mom who juggles a lot, and you're able to be honest about the joys and struggles of parenting while making me laugh in agreement. I also love keeping in touch with you by e-mail, and I wish you were a "real life" friend. Want to move to my neighborhood?

Megan, you have so much God-given wisdom and I'm so glad you share it through your blog. It's beautiful to see where God has taken your life. You're such an awesome mama!

No Pink Here, you are helping me get to know my own city! You and K do so many cool things together; maybe I can start taking some of your suggestions as I try to change my hermit ways!

Rebecca, since I'm not too great at picking up the phone, I'm so glad we've been able to get back in touch through our blogs! I'm so excited to watch your family grow again, and I hope we can see each other in person before too long. You're such a loving, wonderful mama.

Sandi, you are SO funny! And your photography is just gorgeous. I get the feeling you have a lot of FUN at your house because you manage to be a seriously involved parent without taking parenting too seriously.

Sandra, I'm so glad you found my blogs so that I could find yours! Your heart and faith shine through every post, and I'd love to sit and have a cup of coffee with you.

Sasha, your blog is just fun; it feels like a girlfriend chatting with me. At the same time, I see your wonderful mommy heart when you talk about the challenges of parenting.

Special K, you have such a beautiful family and I like how you're able to write about the everyday joys of being a mom.

Tia, there is something really natural about the way you blog, something that makes me feel like we'd comfortably be "real life" friends if we lived close. So glad you sent me the link...more than that I could become a faithful reader! Thanks for participating in the one minute blog, too!

Tourette's Mom, I would love you even if I only knew you from your blog; you are so honest and real there. How lucky am I that I also get to count you as one of my closest friends?! From your encouraging words to you cleaning my house when The Engineer was in the hospital...I appreciate you so much.

Thanks, my blogging buds, for enriching my life. (And...psst...if you're on my blog roll and haven't blogged for weeks, come back! I'd love to see what you have to say these days.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mommy Vern's Giveaway!

Check out Mommy Vern's blog here for a giveaway of some cute items...and to see a picture of her super-cute baby!


I'm used to juggling lots of activities; in high school and college I was always the "involved" sort. These days I'm still juggling, but most of my activities are family-related, from cooking to cleaning to changing diapers.

And as my focus has shifted to the "home front" over the last few years, I find that I've become a bit of a hermit. Not in the hide out in a cabin in the woods, grow a long beard, and avoid all human interaction sense. I'm too much of a city girl to live in the woods; my beard-growing skills leave much to be desired; and I do genuinely like people. But more in the "Do I REALLY have to leave the house today, knowing getting two kids in and out of the car is a pain and knowing I'll have trouble getting everything done at home?" sense.

I'm in the second year of my thirties now, and as I get older I find I become less tolerant of disorganization and mess. I take comfort in structure and an uncluttered home. Now, I'm not actually that great at achieving this level of comfort, but at least it's easier when I have lots of time at home. On days when I leave, whether it's to go grocery shopping or attend a playdate, there's an extra level of stress on my day. I'm more likely to go to bed with dishes in the sink, which messes up the next day too.

So I find myself connecting more online than in person, slipping into hermit mode in between church commitments.

Then I also find myself feeling sad that I don't have the depth of friendships I desire.

Hmm.... There might be a connection here. Maybe if I got out of hermit mode, I'd have deeper friendships. I might cause myself a little more stress on the home front, but with closer friends I'd have a better support system to help me through the stressful days.

So if you're one of my '"real-life" friends who's been saying, "We should really get together," keep asking, and make sure we nail down a date. I may not turn into a social butterfly, but I'm going to try to change my hermit ways before I find myself searching for a cabin in the woods and putting Rogaine on my hairless chin.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What my kid is reading these days

I think that many of us who have small children harbor a secret hope that by reading to them we're contributing to their development into little geniuses. You know, dreaming that when they graduate from Harvard Medical School at the top of the class, their speech will honor "my loving, beautiful mother who is responsible for me being here today because of all the hours she spent reading books to me."

So we buy our babies soft books they can chew on, then books with interesting textures for exploring hands. Before long, we're graduating to Sandra Boynton and Dr. Seuss. We find ourselves looking forward to reading them our favorite childhood books, like The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

And then the progression comes to a screeching halt, as we realize the next step isn't C.S. Lewis. It's...


Because even little geniuses need to be potty trained, and a whole lot of writers have cashed in on the notion that desperate parents will be happy to shell out good money for a book that just may help their miniature Einstein realize that the potty is the number one place to go number two.

After my first nauseating experience cleaning poop out of big girl panties, I knew I needed to change Chickie's habits ASAP. My search led me to Where's the Poop? by Julie Markes, illustrated by Susan Kathlen Hartung. The reviews on Amazon quickly convinced me, and I ordered it.

This little book may not be turning Chickie into a genius, but we love it. From Amazon, here's the description: "With the aid of this playful book, your child will see that he or she has a place to poop, too. While reinforcing the concept of toilet training, Where's the Poop? gives children the confidence they need. This engaging lift-the-flap book shows children that all creatures have a place to poop: tigers in the jungle, kangaroos in the outback, and monkeys in the rain forest." The end of the book shows a little boy who is proudly telling his mommy he pooped, and when the reader lifts the lid of the toilet, there's the poop, right where it belongs, floating in the potty.

It's a lot less disgusting than it sounds...really. The illustrations are very cute, and the depiction of various animals' poop is somehow very tasteful. Here's Chickie, discovering that little penguins poop on the ice:

Now, it hasn't worked yet, but Chickie is talking positively about pooping in the potty, so I'm earnestly hoping we'll hit that milestone soon.

And I'm changing my daydream a bit. She's still graduating from med school, but her speech is a little different. "Thanks, Mom, for helping me get to med school by spending hours reading me great literature. But more importantly, I've been able to poop in the potty for these last 22 years, and for that I give you credit...well, you and Where's the Poop?"

Monday, October 20, 2008

First, grab some tissues...

...then add August Rush to your Netflix queue (or head to Blockbuster or just buy it!)

The critics panned it. And they're right that it's sappy, formulaic, unbelievable, and predictable.

But for pure, escapist entertainment value, I agree not with the critics but with Netflix viewers (4 out of 5 stars) and Amazon customers (4.3 out of 5 stars.) It's incredibly sweet; has a good soundtrack; and provided both The Engineer and me with a great, feel-good cry fest.

And it's rated PG, so it's family-friendly. There were a few parts that could frighten young or sensitive children.

Seriously, real life might not work the way it works in this movie, but sometimes that's the point. It's a beautiful story. Watch it!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homo Sapiens Footballfanius

Last night we spent a quiet, intimate evening with nearly 100,000 of our dearest friends.

It was my first-ever college football game. Where we live, college football is more than a hobby, more than a passion. It is a religion of its own.

It's also a a very, very large petri dish. Did you know there are actually multiple subspecies of humans? They can be observed in their natural habitat at football games. Get ready for some weekend science education.

Homo Sapiens Geekinus
There's a little geek in all of us, but in this subspecies it is particularly evident. Note the brightening of the specimen's eyes when Homo Sapiens Marchingbandius takes the field and creates intricate formations. If you asked, this subspecies would admit that they find the band to be more interesting than the football game.

Homo Sapiens Miniaturius
This very young subspecies is too small to enjoy watching football but looks amazingly cute in a tiny jersey and official team sneakers. Often accompanied by Homo Sapiens Stressedanddistractedis.

Homo Sapiens Sportscasteris
This subspecies sits in the stands but desperately wants to be in the press box, so from its mouth continually comes a very loud commentary on the game. It is a fascinating subspecies, capable of being highly intelligent, amazingly accurate, and consistently annoying.

Homo Sapiens Hotheadandcuss (closely related to Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis)
You won't be aware of this subspecies until it is convinced that Homo Sapiens Referee has made a bad call. Then, even from very, very high in the stands, this species will do its best to make its voice heard on the field. Be aware that if Homo Sapiens Miniaturus is nearby, it may hear occasional loud, four-letter words.

Homo Sapiens Formercheerleaderis
This attractive subspecies is usually of the female variety. She has an excellent capacity for memorizing every word of the fight song, and always stands and enthusiastically takes part in fan chants and cheers. The specimen may be heard to declare to its mate, "We've got to stand up and show everyone how it's done!"

Homo Sapiens Lookatmelookatme
Occasionally among the myriad of fans you will see an impeccably groomed subspecies. If male, he is muscular and performs an interesting mating ritual called "strutting his stuff." If female, she is wearing the team colors, but her shirt is for some reason much smaller than the shirts of those around her, and she may have been recently attacked by a predator, as her skirt appears to have been torn off just below her hips.

Homo Sapiens Littlesisterus
This subspecies has been a football fan for a long time and going to a game is a dream come true. When asked after the event by her Big Sister (Homo Sapiens Geekinus) "What was your favorite part?" she replies, "All of it." She belongs in this full stadium, and she'll remember this game for a very long time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Garage sale!

A lot of people hate garage sales. And I can understand why. The Engineer, for instance, doesn't see why he'd want to spend his time digging through junk that other people don't want when we have plenty of junk in our own house.

And sometimes "garage sale-ing" is frustrating. You can spend hours going to sale after sale, finding absolutely nothing worth buying.

Then there's days like today...the days that make me love garage sales. Chickie, Zoodle, doggie Hammer, and I went on our morning walk, which we usually skip on the weekends. I tucked a few bucks in my pocket, knowing we'd probably encounter at least one sale, and wanting to be ready just in case I found something good. We saw a sign, and headed in that direction.

I'd just like to say, people who understand garage sales--who understand that to get rid of stuff you have to price it low--are tops in my book. Especially when they have little kids. And especially when they take care of their stuff. We hadn't been at the sale for more than a couple of minutes when I realized I'd have to hit an ATM and come back with my car to take home my haul.

We got...

a bunch of books in great condition,

some random toys,

A real TEMPUR-PEDIC pillow (don't worry, the thick cover is washable, and it doesn't even look used!),

a double-sided easel, and a Sesame Street couch/futon thing...

all for $25.50. Score!!!

The Engineer was very impressed with the pillow ($2.) He and I already use TEMPUR-PEDIC pillows, and they cost an arm and a leg new. Think I'll eventually convert The Engineer to the cult of garage-salers?

Friday, October 17, 2008


Say it with me: "KEEN-wah." That's how you pronounce "quinoa."

Heard of it? According to The World's Healthiest Foods website, "Quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient 'grain' once considered 'the gold of the Incas.'" Sounds healthy, right? The beauty of it is, it also tastes good, and the texture is unique and fun.

I get quinoa in the bulk foods section of a large grocery store. It can also be found at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and other health food stores. It's affordable and easy to use. Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer before cooking it.

I've just recently discovered quinoa and so I've only tried one recipe using it--but it's such a delicious, easy dish that I keep making it! I've added some ingredients and altered it for the Crock Pot. The original recipe is at All Recipes, and my version is below. (Thanks, Becki, for finding this recipe and suggesting the addition of tomatoes!)

Slow Cooker Quinoa and Black Beans

3/4 c. uncooked, rinsed quinoa
1 1/2 c. frozen corn kernels
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes or Ro-Tel
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic (1 1/2 teaspoons if you use jarred)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth or chicken broth
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 c. chopped cilantro

Put everything in the slow cooker except the cilantro. Stir, and cook on HIGH for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or LOW 4-5 hours, until quinoa is puffed and translucent. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in the chopped cilantro.

For tacos or taco salad:
Use hot as filling or topping for soft tacos, hard tacos, or taco salad. Add light sour cream, salsa, cheese, lettuce, or any other toppings that sound tasty to you!

For salad:
Chill, and eat plain or over a bed of lettuce.

Photo time!

Uncooked quinoa looks like small bird seed:

When quinoa is fully cooked, it will puff up and become translucent--or, according to The Engineer, it looks like fish eyes. Appetizing, huh?

And here's the finished product, right before I ate it, chilled, for breakfast. (No, it's not exactly traditional breakfast food, but when I got it of the fridge out to photograph it, I decided it looked tasty!)

For lunch I'll probably heat it up and have it with lettuce, crumbled tortilla chips, light sour cream, and cheese, as a taco salad. Mmm!

The Engineer, who is decidedly carnivorous, likes this enough to eat it (though he'd prefer brisket and mashed potatoes!), and Chickie ate a lot of it the night I made it. We served it (as soft taco filling) to a couple we know awhile back. She's vegetarian; he's not. They both loved it, and he asked for the recipe since he often doesn't care for meat-free entrees. I like a lot of vegetarian dishes, so when I semi-successfully "try one out" on my husband, it's a winner!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sixth photo

Anna tagged me to play this photo game. I'm supposed to find the sixth photo in the sixth album in my online photo storage site, and share it along with the memories it evokes. (By the say, am I the only one who thinks "sixth" is a tongue-twister?)

This picture brings up a great memory! Chickie was almost a year old, and my parents were visiting us. My dad is a huge fan of Starbucks (or Fourbucks, as Lyndsay calls it), so going there with his granddaughter was a very special occasion. And of course, Sampa ("Sam"+"Grandpa") was being silly giving Chickie her very own "hat."

I'm supposed to tag six other bloggers to participate in this Fun Photo Meme. Well, I'm not threatening any bad luck if you don't do this, and if you do, you probably won't have something great happen six minutes after you post. But if you think it might be fun, please participate whether I've tagged you or not. My six "tag-ees" are Sandi, Lyndsay, Kristen, Angie, Blite not whack, and Sandra.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Assistant chef

One nice thing about letting your toddler stand on a stepladder and "help" make dinner is that you learn interesting things about food preferences. For instance, I now know that Chickie likes raw onion and raw garlic.

Let this post serve as my warning and apology to her future spouse and any other boys she may kiss. I'll try to at least keep her away from anchovies, okay?

Babies in da Hood

In October our weather is indecisive. Today it's rainy; earlier this week it was warm. But last week we took a walk on a particularly nippy morning, and as much as I know I'll be sick of bundling up two kiddos in a couple of months, they sure did look darn cute after months of short sleeves.

Forgive the weird look on Chickie's face. I was telling her to smile, and she sure was trying, but it's hard with a mouth full of Itty Bitty Bistro PB&J Oatmeal-to-Go Bars.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To cry or not to cry?

I love mommy message boards, and most of the moms I've "met" online are sweet, supportive women. These communities are also always lucky (ahem) to have a few moms who know everything about parenting and are happy to share their wisdom, whether or not it's requested. Here are a few things I've learned from these, I mean all-knowing...moms.
  • If you feed your baby formula you're guaranteeing them health problems for life.
  • If you breastfeed past a year, you're just plain weird and have an unhealthy emotional relationship with your child.
  • Put your newborn in a baby, crib...and you're clearly a detached parent.
  • Sure, you can co-sleep with your baby...if you want that spoiled kid to still be sleeping there 13 years later.
  • Vaccinations don't work, cause autism, and are only required because of a vast government/pharmaceutical company conspiracy.
  • If you don't vaccinate your child, you must not care at all about public health, and you must want your kid to die of measles.
And don't even get me started on those Commie Obama Mamas or warmongering McCain supporters!

I know, this is really helpful stuff, and I should write a parenting manual or something. And I'm not even done yet.

We haven't talked yet about whether or not you should let your child cry it out. This is one of the most controversial mommy message board topics. After all, doesn't everybody know that if you don't pick up your baby every time they cry, they'll have lifelong trust issues and probably some sort of larynx injury? And that if your baby doesn't cry it out, they'll be keeping the sleep disorder clinics in business in 30 years?

With Chickie, I was pretty firmly in the attachment parenting camp. I didn't ever require her to cry herself to sleep unless she was in my arms or in the carseat. I spent many, many hours helping her fall asleep; and she learned to fall asleep independently about the time Zoodle was born.

She is usually happy and well-adjusted, and I am thankful for all the cuddles I had with her. But I knew my schedule and my sanity couldn't survive if Zoodle required that much help with sleeping.

At first, he went down for naps and nighttime easily...but then he hit the four-month mark, and it started getting more difficult. Over the last couple of months, I gradually noticed a couple of things. One, I seemed to be actually keeping my little guy awake by trying to "help" him fall asleep. He's very social. Two, at times when he was crying for a few minutes while I was dealing with Ana or another task, he often went to sleep very easily once I re-entered his room.

So within the last week or two, I've started doing something I really didn't think I would ever consider. I've been consciously and purposefully letting Zoodle cry. Our going-to-bed routine doesn't fit perfectly with any of the experts, but it works for both of us.

I put Zoodle down and sing a song to him. When I leave the room, he usually starts crying. I let him get a little crying out of his system for about two minutes. I re-enter the room, replace his binky, and rub his back for a couple of minutes. I leave again, and if I need to repeat the process I do. I usually enter the room one to three times after initially putting him down, and then he's asleep. The whole process generally takes three to ten minutes. He's happier because he's sleeping more, and I'm happier because I am still helping him get to sleep, but it doesn't take half the day.

One of the things I'm learning with our second child is that a lot of parenting isn't about finding the perfect philosophy; it's about just plain figuring out what works. That may mean I'll never be one of those all-knowing message board moms, but it also means I'm a generally happy mom with generally happy kids. And that is a wonderful feeling.

(Yep, that's my breastfed, vaccinated baby who sleeps sometimes in his Pack-n-Play and sometimes in our bed, whose mama doesn't feel like talking politics on her blog, and who will probably end up just as neurotic as the rest of us.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Aww, what the's one more bear giveaway winner!

I just photographed a bunch of fabrics so that Jen, the winner of the teddy bear giveaway, could choose which one she wants. And I thought, "Well, it's a pity; there are a lot of great fabrics here, and Jen will just use one of them!"

So I'm giving away another bear. Woo hoo! I'm using the entries from the previous giveaway. Again, I used to generate a number. The lucky winner is...

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-10-13 17:21:15 UTC

Comment #18 was ANGIE, Paige's mom...who also happens to be a cool blogger that I've met in real life when she came into town one time. Check out her blog.

Angie, I have your e-mail addy, so I'll send you photos of the fabrics and you can choose which one you want! Congrats!

Now, I do have some incredibly exciting continuing education I have to do to renew my real estate license at the end of the month, so I've got to crack open that book. So, Jen and Angie, if it takes me a few weeks to get your bears out to you, don't be too surprised.

I wanted to re-post the link to the free teddy bear pattern. I enlarged it; it is supposed to make a very small bear. Here it is in its original size. If you'd like the enlarged one that I made, e-mail me and I'll shoot it over to you...or just download the pattern as an image and use your photo editing software to resize it however you'd like.

By the way, this is my second post of the day. Sometimes when I post twice in one day, the first one gets lost in the shuffle. So I'll start telling you when I'm particularly blogging-happy. Here's a link to today's earlier post.

Easy learning activity, easy meal, easy movin'

Easy learning activity:

Remember growing bean sprouts in preschool or grade school? I saw a really easy way to do it on PBS Kids the other day, so Chickie and I tried it. This has been a HIT!

1. Fold a paper towel in quarters.
2. Put it on a plate.
3. Get it wet.
4. Put some dry beans on the towel.
5. Put the whole thing in a plastic food storage bag, and seal it.
6. Put it in a place where it will get some sunlight.
7. Check out the beans daily (or as often as you think of it) to see them growing!

We started last week--I'm guessing Tuesday or Wednesday-ish. We checked the beans the next day and saw that some of them were starting to swell and split. Then we forgot about it until yesterday, when Chickie brought them to me. Success! Those bean sprouts grow quickly!

Here they are this morning. It's interesting to see which bean sprouts are growing most quickly, since we used three types of beans.

Chickie wanted to play with them, and what better way for her to get to explore growing things? Here she is, pretending one of the sprouts is a helicopter. Later, one sprout was a spider. (When we opened up the bag yesterday it was quite stinky. This morning it wasn't bad, but judging by the way she covered her nose, I guess she figured you can't be too careful.)

This is such a fantastic activity for any family, whether you are a working or stay-at-home parent. It literally took about three minutes to put together, and that was with the "help" of Chickie.

Easy meal:

I'm not great at the whole presentation side of meals, but I thought this one turned out pretty dang cool:

This is cheeseburger soup in a sourdough bread bowl. The recipe comes from The CrockPot Lady's blog, where I've gotten many recipes lately. I made mine on the stovetop, simply because I didn't start it earlier in the day. To make the bread bowls I simply took small sourdough boules, purchased on the half price rack at Wal-Mart Supercenter, and used a knife to cut off the top. Then I used a fork to hollow out the bowl. Easy and impressive!

Now, I'd like to say this recipe is healthy, but it's really just borderline at best. The CrockPot Lady did improve it by reducing the amount of cheese, but it's probably not one you'd want to make frequently if you're going for a generally healthy diet. For an occasional treat, though, it really is great. Chickie wouldn't eat it, but that really surprised me.... I think most kids would gobble it up.

It uses Velveeta...and did you know that Velveeta is not sold in the cheese section? It doesn't have to be refrigerated until after you open it! Personally, I find that a bit frightening. Not that I had any illusions about Velveeta being "natural," but it just seems weird that it's so processed that it can be sold right next to the pasta. I won't be buying Velveeta frequently...but I will use the leftover, mixed with Ro-Tel, to make some yummy queso to eat with chips. I mean, we mustn't waste, right? Mmm.

Easy movin':

My friends, we have a mobile baby on our hands. As proud as I am of my little Zoodle, I was not ready for this. He is scooting and rolling enough that he can end up several feet away from his starting point, and he's on his hands and knees, rocking forward and backward, so he'll be crawling soon. Oh, my goodness, it begins....

Hope you have an easygoing day!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Open mic night

The reason I had poetry on the brain late last night is because we'd attended an open mic night, with music, poetry readings, and a somewhat disastrous monologue.

Unfortunately, the monologue was performed

Here's the thing with parenting. It doesn't matter how much advice you get, most of it is still trial and error. For instance, if you don't know if your toddler is ready to sit through an hour and a half of performances, you try. Then you realize you erred. Trial and error.

The entire evening we were whispering, "Chickie, sit down!" "Chickie, be quiet!" "Chickie, don't head-butt Mommy!" My dear friend Laurel, whose church was hosting the event, was good enough to carry Chickie out a couple of times, so that she could play in their nursery area. But I was on edge the entire time, desperately determined to make sure my child didn't distract too much from the performances.

Then it was my turn. I was introduced, and I started the monologue--a fun witty piece from Oscar Wilde's The Ideal Husband. About a line into it I started hearing signs of a struggle coming from where Jason and Chickie were sitting.

"I want to go see Mommy! I want to go see Mommy!"

Through the distraction, I tried to stay in character and remember my hastily-memorized lines. I got about halfway through the short piece, and then my ears were met with the sound of toddler feet running toward me. When she reached me, she cried happily, "MOMMY!" (Later Jason explained he figured it would be better just to let her go since she was going to scream her little head off if he carried her out. I understood his reasoning; when she has a goal, she is not easily deterred.)

I dropped the British accent, took my eyes away from the point I was focusing on for the monologue, and looked at the audience with a smile.

"Intermission time!" I declared.

Thankfully, they laughed, and I got down on my knees and asked Chickie if she could sit right next to me while I finished. "Okay, Mommy!" she declared.

I tried to bring my brain back into some semblance of order as I got back into the monologue, but the distraction of a stage was too much for my little girl, and she wasn't seated for long. As I finished the piece, I'm afraid I was terribly upstaged by the toddler behind me.

She went to a microphone (that wasn't turned on) and said, "I'm Chickie!"

She then spied a keyboard (thankfully, also off), and said, "Mommy, I want to play piano!"

When the longest two-minute monologue in history was finally over, I put Chickie on my hip, smiled again at the gracious group and told them, "Laurel said to me earlier tonight, 'This is Chickie's first time seeing you perform, isn't it?'" I paused. "I think it'll be the last, for awhile."

Saturday, October 11, 2008


While I enjoy writing poetry about silly things like the Funky Fairy and my great old Honda, there was a day when I actually used to sit and write more, well, seriously. I really liked doing that, and I think I need to get back into it. I remember loving the creative writing class I took my senior year of college (nine years ago), and tonight I dug out the poems I wrote for it. Here are two of them.

King of Phoenix

He enters on tiptoe
Coming, going, teasing
Until he invades with
                        Boulder-heavy steps.
He oppresses us
Never sleeping
Sneaking through
Sturdy, sealed windows,
Briefly opened doors,
Arrogantly brushing by pink and timid insulation
Which bows in surrender
Upon his attack.
He feeds on the lengthening days,
His ravenous hunger accelerating
Until he becomes violent,
Leaving red slap marks
On noses and sandaled feet.
He hides in my car,
Waiting until I open the door
To reach out smoky fingers
And taunt me--
"Stay outside. This is my place.
You could never force me out"
(Maliciously daring me to enter
So he can smother me.)
Those he can't intimidate into fleeing
Cannot hide for long.
Four months
From his golden throne
He rules.


Grandma's Dinners
Grandma's dinners were
Fall-apart roast,
Cloudy, whipped potatoes,
Golden, steaming rolls,
Whole strawberry preserves,
Fresh-squeezed milk,
Churned ice cream
Oozing off cobbler.
Family members chatted
With customers from
Grandpa's auto repair--
Guests as varied
And savory as Grandma's vegetables.

Only one visitor
Sneaked in, unwelcome.
Cancer invaded Grandpa.
Long short waiting
For the inevitable
Was more pleasant
(Or more bearable)
For both with
Grandma's bountiful meals.
Smiling and afraid,
She continued cooking,
And, later, feeding,
Until Grandpa slept at last.

Grandma's dinners are
Pasteurized milk over
Kellogg's Corn Flakes,
Or Chunky Jif
And Smucker's smashed
In Wonder Bread.
How and Why,
I wondered initially,
Can my grandma,
Whose potent chili
Kicks tastebuds, shouting,
"STAND!" and "saLUTE!"
Exist on cereal and sandwiches?

Now I grasp
(More, yet shallowly)
Grandma's rare philanthropy.
She lavishly shares
Riches of herself.
Her full house
Is now Her.
She eats cereal
And peanut butter,
Because for Grandma,
Roast isn't filling
Without anyone to
Cook for, to share with.

The key to parenting a toddler... to be more stubborn than your child.

Okay, that's a bit simplistic. But as Chickie grows and I see more of her strong will developing, I'm realizing that sticking to my guns is both vital and difficult.

It all started yesterday morning. I think that old Funky Fairy had paid Chickie a visit overnight, because she was grumpy and emotional. So when I asked her to clean up newspaper that she'd strewn across the dining room floor, she was determined not to do it.

Actually, she was willing to obey, but only if I helped her. I do often help her clean up, but I think it's also important for her to learn to do simple chores by herself. I was busy doing other things, like sweeping up a glass bowl I'd shattered, and I told her the newspaper was her job.

And thus the first shot of World War III was fired.

When Chickie repeatedly refused to pick up the paper, I told her she needed to go into her room with the door closed. That's usually akin to torture for her, but yesterday she actually wanted to be there. After a couple of minutes of non-punishment, I gave her another chance to clean up the paper.

"I don't want to! Mommy, help me!"

Next she was sentenced to her time out chair (her high chair.) I told her she'd need to stay there until she was ready to clean up the paper.

Over an hour later, she finally got down, crying, and began to angrily throw newspaper sections onto the table. She took a furious bite out of one section. Occasionally she stopped to cry and scream, but by the time she finished her task, she'd calmed down. I gave her a big hug, a tuna fish sandwich, and a nap.

That hour and fifteen minutes or so, with her in the high chair, really tested both of our limits. There was a whole lot of screaming and crying on her part, and a whole lot of calm resolve on mine. I give God credit for me not losing my temper, as that's something I've been praying will be changed in me.

At times I was choked up, hating to see her so miserable but knowing she needed to learn this lesson. At other times I was choking down laughter; an overly dramatic little girl can be very entertaining. About three quarters of the way through her imprisonment, I smelled something.

"Chickie, did you poop?"

"No," she replied. Then, overcome with emotion, the truth came out as a crying wail. "I TOOOTED (sob, sob, sob)!"

As I wondered if she'd be in that chair all day, I imagined that this conflict was a crossroads. If I stayed strong, she'd develop into a productive member of society, respecting authority and law. If I caved, she'd soon be dealing drugs to her playgroup buddies and searching the Internet for undetectable arson techniques.

I knew it wasn't quite that dramatic, but I also knew that as hard as it can be on both of us, it is vital for this sweet child to learn to obey her parents' reasonable instructions.

When all was said and done, the competitive, stubborn part of me rejoiced that I'd "won." But later in the day, I asked her to put up her toys, and she did it, without arguing or complaining. And I knew the truth.

Chickie may not have gotten her way yesterday morning. But when she cleaned up that newspaper by herself, she won.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Giveaway winner...and bargains galore!

Thank you all for the great participation in the bear giveaway, and for all the kind words! There were 30 entrants, and once again I used to generate a winning number.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-10-10 19:02:21 UTC

The winner is #30, Jennypenny--proving that being the last in line can be a good thing! Congrats, Jenny! Please e-mail me at cbethblog (at) gmail (dot) com so I can send you pictures of some fabric choices. I'll post a picture of the bear before I mail it off to our lucky winner. Keep watching for more giveaways in the future!


Now, onto business...the serious business of bargain-hunting!

Yesterday I saw a JC Penney ad that screamed, "75 % OFF" and knew I had to check it out. They are cutting an extra 50% off all clearance items. My kind of discount.

First I went to JC Penney's website and clicked "Today's Store Ad" at the top of the page. The ads may vary from area to area; I had to enter my ZIP code to get ours. Hopefully you'll be able to get the same deals I got. There were printable coupons in the ad--$10 off a purchase of $50 or more, and $15 off a purchase of $75 or more.

We headed to the mall and went a little crazy. These were our finds:

For Chickie, I bought a shirt and a cute pair of Keds. The Keds were the only thing we bought that weren't deeply discounted...but they were on sale 25% off, and they pushed us above $75, which gave us the higher coupon discount.

For Zoodle, we had great luck in the clearance section. The three little rompers I bought him were our best deals of the day--$2.50 each (plus the extra coupon discount).

I had decent luck, adding to my wardrobe, too.

And even The Engineer came home from work with gifts awaiting him. Thankfully he liked both shirts and the Nike workout shorts.

If I'd paid full price for all of these, with no coupon, with tax, I would have paid $371.18. Or, to be more accurate, I wouldn't have bought any of it! After all the discounts and the coupon, my total was a whopping $85.37. That means I saved 77%.

Head to JC Penney--they're practically paying you to shop there this week. Be sure to check the website first to see if the coupons are available in your area.

Lastly, there are a couple of great photo printing deals going on this week. Through tomorrow, you can get up to 50 prints for 1 cent each at Snapfish by using the coupon code FALLPENNY08. You'll still have to pay shipping. (Edited Saturday--this sale has been extended through Tuesday.)

Or order prints at Walgreens' website, indicating you want to pick up the prints in-store if you want to avoid shipping. Through Sunday, coupon code FALL4ALL will get you the prints for 10 cents each on orders of 50 or more. I've done online ordering with in-store pickup at Walgreens, and the pictures are ready in a matter of hours.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chickie's New House

Be sure to check out yesterday's post to enter for an awesome giveaway. And come back tomorrow (Friday, probably in the afternoon or evening) to find out if you won!

When Zoodle went in for his six month appointment last week, I found out he'd outgrown his infant seat. By an inch and a half. That's kind of a lot. So that day I ordered a new big boy carseat for him. (Psst--I got it on Amazon and got 10% off by using the code VISABABY and my Visa card. I think you may even be able to get the discount without using your Visa card. The code is good on all baby items sold BY AMAZON [not by third parties on Amazon.])

Well, Chickie was interested in this big ol' carseat box. She climbed onto a chair, then lowered herself into the box.

And then I had a flashback to a post by my friend Megan, talking about the little doorways her husband made out of a box.

I grabbed a box cutter and created a playhouse for Chickie.

It has a door that opens and closes... a window... another window, with shutters... a skylight with shutters.

Chickie loves her little house. At first she wanted me to get inside with her...

...but then she discovered how fun it is for her to get inside while I stand outside, knocking on the door. She opens the door and I pretend to be someone (the mail carrier, Grammy, Felicia the Night-Night Fairy, etc.)

We really need to get a new refrigerator so that we can make her a skyscraper next.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Giveaway time--homemade teddy bear!

Update: This contest is closed, but I hope to have another giveaway very soon--keep checking the blog!

This giveaway ROCKS...details at the end of the post.

At naptime and bedtime, I tell Chickie a story about a fictional orange bear named Flame. These days, she often tells at least half the story for me. It's a very special routine.

So today I found an easy pattern online for a homemade bean-filled teddy bear. I saved the pattern image on my computer then resized it so that the image was 15 inches tall, and the bear about 12 inches. (The original pattern was for a small bean-filled bear, like those annoying ones that were sold everywhere several years ago. I wanted hers to be bigger.) I printed the pattern, cut and pasted the pieces (since I had to print the enlarged pattern on multiple sheets of paper), dug out some orange fabric, and got to work.

I made sure to cut 1/4" or so outside the pattern lines, for a seam allowance (as indicated on the pattern):

After an afternoon of work, I had a finished product. Isn't little Flame adorable? And I like the whole beanbag feel of him.

He's even cuter sitting up, though.

And he was a hit with Chickie.

I had so much fun making Flame that I'd like to make another bear for a lucky blog reader. Here are the rules:

Here are the rules:
1. Post a comment below. You can say whatever you want; just comment.
2. Tell your friends about this giveaway. Post it on your blog, send out e-mails, rent a billboard, whatever. When your friends enter the contest, make sure they list your name in their comment. If your friend wins, you'll get a free bear, too.
3. Friday, I'll randomly choose one winner. I'll let you choose from available fabrics (i.e., ones I happen to already have lying around), or if you have a particular fabric in mind you can send it to me. You'll also get to choose whether you want the bear filled with beans, rice, or popping corn.

If you comment multiple times (because you just love commenting or because Blogger is messing up again), only your first comment will count as an entry.

Open only to those who have a U.S. shipping address.

Good luck!

Bicycle with me, anyone?

Okay, I'm tired of looking at these stretched-out postpartum abdominals. I know my sister Becki has had great luck with doing bicycle exercises (sort of modified crunches but more effective than traditional crunches). I've done these before and if the burn I feel is any indication, they do work!

So starting today I'll be doing these killer ab exercises daily. Who wants to join me?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Funky Fairy

The moon is out, the lights are down,
And everyone’s asleep.
The Funky Fairy comes to town--
That crazy little creep.

He flies right past the neighbors' homes,
A smirk upon his face.
There’s nothing random when he roams—
He’s headed for my place.

Tonight my house is just his toy,
And enter it he must.
Once in, he sprinkles girl and boy
With Funky Fairy Dust.

We all awake with happy grins,
No sign of frown or sob—
‘Til Funky Fairy Dust begins
To do its evil job.

Chickie just can’t have her way,
And so she starts to cry
Zoodle’s naps are kept at bay,
No matter what I try.

The Funky Fairy’s potion
Overwhelms my tots
With Zoodle’s strong emotion,
And Chickie’s “I will NOT”s!

So think upon this tale tonight
As you are laying down—
Because that Funky Fairy might
Be headed to your town.

Monday, October 6, 2008

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

A couple of weeks ago I thought to myself, "You know, I don't think I've ever been in a play and had an actor not show up for a performance. I wonder how we'd handle that if it happened."

This, my friends, is what we call foreshadowing.

Last Sunday we had a matinee of The Odd Couple. I'd arranged to come later than normal and came in the dressing room 30 minutes before the play was meant to begin. The conversation I walked into concerned me.

"Well, I guess we need to get Stephen (a stagehand) a script so he can start reviewing the lines."

Yep. One of our actors hadn't shown up, and no one had been able to contact him. So a few minutes after 3 p.m., the director explained the situation to the audience, and our fearless stagehand Stephen, script in hand, did a wonderful job filling in.

The actor rushed in the door after Act One, with a deer-in-the-headlights look. He'd laid down for a nap after arranging for his brother to wake him at noon. That didn't happen. His roommate woke him up a little after 3:00, and when he realized the time, he hightailed it to the theatre.

I understand this was entirely unintentional on his part, and to his credit, he felt absolutely terrible about it...terrible enough to probably make sure it never happens again. (Two words: alarm clock!)

As an actor, it was frustrating to me. This was a really good production, the type of community theatre play that is a credit to volunteer theatre. And I know how unprofessional it looked for someone to be onstage with a script, and then to be replaced by the casted actor halfway through the show. But theatre--amateur or professional--hits snags. The show must go on, and it did, thanks to a stagehand who did an incredible job acting for the first time in his life.

Saturday was closing night, and I'm glad it's over. I really enjoyed it, but it was a lot more stressful than I'd realized it would be. I don't think I'm quite ready to leave my baby as often as I had to, but there was no way to know that without trying. I hope to get back onstage, but I'll probably wait several months or more.


The new blog...
If you'd like to check out my new blog, The One Minute Writer, please do. I'm excited about it! Instead of explaining it here, I'll let you visit it to get an idea of what it's about. If you know any other bloggers, writers, teachers, etc. who might be interested in it, please pass along the link. Thanks!


Happy birthday (a day late) to my brother Sean, and happy birthday today to my dad! I love you both so much.


Thanks to those of you who have been praying for our friend who was in the car accident. Brent has had three surgeries and is now in a rehab hospital, where he'll probably stay another week or so. He won't be able to put weight on his fractured hip for about three months, so the recovery may be a long one unless God intervenes miraculously, which we are praying for. His wife Lindsey is understandably going through a very rough time. Please keep praying. Thanks!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

New blog

I'll write more about this later...but if you'd like to check out a new blog I just started, click here:

The One Minute Writer

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another new breakfast addiction--homemade this time!

Itty Bitty Bistro, you rock. Thank you, Kara, for posting the yummy recipe for PB&J Oatmeal-to-Go. These little breakfast bars are easy to make and such a nice, fresh alternative to store-bought granola bars.

I think it's nifty how food blogs post lovely pictures of their finished products, don't you?

Unfortunately, I'm not that patient, so you'll have to go to the original post to see the picture Kara took. Her bars turned out a lot prettier than mine anyway.

I started making these and realized I didn't have any applesauce. So I substituted half an overripe banana, and it turned out well, though I'll try them with applesauce when I have some. Next time I make these I'll probably double the recipe, put them in a 9"x13" pan, and cook them a bit longer.

As I was eating one of these yummy little bars, I bit down on something hard. Really hard. Did the oatmeal manufacturer put a pebble in my oats? Perhaps it was a shriveled up bit of rotten peanut from the peanut butter?

Nope. It was a piece of metal.

And I was the one who put it there.

Beth's Baking Tip of the Day: When you're using a mixer and the blades just aren't working well enough (say, in pureeing the banana in your recipe), you might be tempted to use a fork to squish the banana, while the mixer is running. This would be a bad idea.

Very creative way to bend and mangle your beaters, don't you think? And apparently also a good way to get chips of metal beater in your batter.

So every time Chickie ate one of these, I had to break it apart carefully first to make sure it was metal-free. Next time I think she'll have fun eating the oatmeal bars with her fingers instead of a spoon.

But on the positive side, my fork is no worse for the wear. Southern Living at Home flatware is expensive, but it does hold up well to crazy cooks.


Thanks for the great response to the lip gloss giveaway!

I randomly chose two responses using's random number generator. They were response numbers 17 and 18. Congratulations to...

(Karen's sister)
Karen (who gets a free gloss for sending Amy)

And last, but not least, Sasha, you sent so many people my way that you're a winner too.

If you didn't win, keep checking the blog for future giveaways! I hope to have another one very soon. And check out my grandma's Avon site for some great deals, including $1.99 for these glosses. To get that particular offer (for a very limited time), and to get free shipping on any order (again, limited time), check out the instructions at the bottom of the original post.

WINNERS, please send your full name, mailing address, credit card number/expiration date/code on back, Social Security number, and home phone number to me. Nah, just kidding--but I will need your full name and mailing address so that I can have Avon send the glosses you want. Also let me know what color you want--see the bottom of the original post for instructions on choosing a color. You can contact me at cbethblog (at) gmail (dot) com

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Curses on thee, typeracer!

Oh, my.

Like I needed another addictive website.

But this is so fun.

Check out typeracer, a website where you can hone your typing skills by racing against random opponents. You can even set up races with your friends. By doing progressively better, you can watch your words per minute number go higher. Of course, if you stay up way too late doing race after race after race, your brain probably isn't at its best, and that number will go down. Not that I'd do that or anything.

I can't tell you why this crazy site is so addictive. You'll just have to try it yourself.

And when you feel guilty because you and your kids haven't bathed in weeks, at least you know you were bettering yourself by improving your typing ability.

Thanks to BzzAgent for turning me on to typeracer, and thanks to Sasha for turning me on to BzzAgent.

By the way, Sasha has a giveaway on her blog right now. Check it out.

Be sure to come back here tomorrow to find out who won the lip gloss.

Countdown, part 2: It's not brain surgery

October 2, 2008

It's three months until the second anniversary of The Engineer's surgery. Sometimes when people are talking about something simple, they'll say, "Hey, it's not brain surgery!" As we were preparing for the operation, we used to laugh at that. Thankfully he was at the hands of a skilled surgeon and it was fairly simple as these operations go. So while it was brain surgery, it wasn't rocket science.

As promised, over the last month I've been thinking about that time, and trying to learn from it. Any health crisis is enormously stressful. Yet I remember seeing so many of God's miracles and blessings through that time, and being so grateful for them. I'm trying to learn to see every day situations in that light. When I flooded the bathroom recently, I decided to be thankful that Zoodle slept through the roar of the shop vac, and that I was able to read a magazine while I moved the vacuum hose from spot to spot.

If I can be thankful when our family has a crisis, or when I make crazy mistakes, I can also learn to see blessings and miracles during everyday things like Chickie's tantrums and Zoodle's crying.

I know I can learn to integrate this thinking in my life. It's pretty simple, right? I mean, it's not brain surgery.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Renaming the Fam

Well, my husband and I had a good talk yesterday about Internet privacy, and decided it would be a good idea to stop using our family's real names on the blog. So get used to reading about...

  • C. Beth--I'm keeping this as my name since I don't want to change the blog name.
  • The Engineer--My smarty pants husband
  • Chickie--Our almost-three-year-old daughter (shortened version of her nickname: Chickie Poo Poo).
  • Zoodle--Our six-month-old baby boy. Name is from Sandra Boynton's Silly Lullaby, which I sing to Eli every day. Many, many times a day.
  • Hammer--Our dog's name is staying as-is. If you want a hyper Schnauzer who likes to grab food off the countertops, feel free to use this information to track him down and steal him. Just kidding. Sort of.
Please use our new names in your comments. Thanks!