Sunday, November 30, 2008

One step toward the potty, two steps back

The kids and I had to leave church early today. Why? Because Chickie hadn't pooped since Thanksgiving, and she was writhing on the floor in the nursery, crying. No amount of cajoling could get her to go.

As I got her in the car, I was crying too. I had no idea how emotional potty training could be, and I don't think a parent who hasn't had a resistant child can understand that. Part of what has been so hard for me through this process is that Chickie's "issues" are somewhat uncommon--a fear of, and resistance toward, pooping, not combined with actual constipation. Folks, if it was as easy as purchasing an expensive laxative, I would gladly do it. Dealing with these issues that are purely in her head is confusing and immensely frustrating. I've found myself wondering if I need to bring her to a child psychologist.

When I "let it go" and don't push her, I feel more at peace. And I thought that was working, in combination with lots of positive reinforcement (the potty chart and accompanying rewards) and plenty of Placebo. Then for some reason Friday and Saturday nights, she sat on the potty for long periods of time, with lots of crying and no solid results. By today she was so sore that it warranted getting her home to deal with it here.

Within an hour of being home, she did her business, in disposable training pants, not the potty.

I know this will work out eventually. I know the chances that she will always fear pooping are very low, since she is maturing emotionally, and most more mature kids are not terrified of pooping, especially if they don't have constipation issues. But in the middle of the mess (or lack of mess at times), it is surprisingly tiring and nearly all-consuming.

I really apologize for all the poop talk. Honestly, it's just hard to sit down and blog about something else when this is such a big deal today and has been such a big deal so much of the time lately. Seeing my daughter in self-induced misery and not being able to fix it--that's truly awful. Not to mention the pure frustration of knowing there are many parents blessed with kids who potty trained fairly quickly, without emotional issues. I know it's wrong, but I'm dealing with bitter, jealous feelings, wishing my child was like that. And I know I shouldn't care what others think, but I wonder if those parents who had it easy look at me and think I must just be doing it all wrong.

So there you go--musings of a not-so-happy mommy. The stinky truth.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Please welcome me... the 21st century.

I finally got an MP3 player. I went pretty cheap since I want to see how much I'll use it before investing in something really cool like the iPod Touch. So I got a little Sandisk Sansa at a Black Friday sale.

Here's the thing--I don't listen to a lot of music. Remember my complaint about blogs that automatically play music? I listen to music in the car, sometimes, but more often than not I tune into talk radio. And (get ready for a gasp here), unless it's musical theatre or a really interesting opera or some sort of music that I can sing along to, I'm generally get bored watching live music. I know, I know--it's kinda weird.

So I've never felt the need to get an MP3 player. But my sister listens to a lot of podcasts on hers, and that interests me. Basically on-demand talk radio, on topics I find compelling? I'm there! I get bored on my walks with the kids and dog in the mornings, and I'm looking forward to listening to podcasts. I bet it'll help me walk longer, which will help me be healthier. This MP3 player just may save my life!

So if you listen to podcasts, "sell me" on which ones I should start subscribing to (or whatever the terminology is.) Funny, interesting, educational, inspiring--give me some links!

It's great to join you, my fellow humans, in the 21st century.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving: Fabulous or Flop?

Well, I'm pleased to say...the list/schedule worked; Thanksgiving dinner was on the table early; and it tasted great! Next time I'll want to improve on getting everything to stay hot because in general most things were lukewarm by the time we got it all done. But in general, the meal was a success, and it was wonderful to spend it with my husband, kids, grandparents and friends Laurel and Wendy.

Here were the recipes I used, along with my reviews of how they turned out.

Turkey breast, made in the CrockPot, with gravy made from the drippin's. This was delicious! It was so moist. I used Herbes de Provence (sold in spice section) as seasoning, along with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper called for in the recipe. The herbs were excellent. I also stuffed it with apple and onion, per the recipe. The turkey breast cooked a LOT more quickly than I expected. After 2 1/2 hours on low and 1 1/2 hours on high it was done. Mamma's gravy was yummy too!

Half a ham with apricot honey glaze. This was great too, and just like the turkey, it cooked more quickly than expected. Great flavor! I used bone-in ham which I think helped it stay juicy. I'd happily use the same glaze again.

Stuffing, which I'll be making in the oven--I'll try 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. (The recipe calls for it to be made in the CrockPot.) I wasn't thrilled with this stuffing recipe and will seek another.

Mashed potatoes with cream cheese and sour cream--I'll add bacon to these, and I won't make them in the CrockPot. (Unlike the awesome CrockPot Lady, I only have one slow cooker.) These were great, though I took them out of the oven too soon and they got lukewarm. They were much better later when I had leftovers that were nice and hot. Instead of using water and boullion, I used boxed chicken broth. I added bacon and chives--mmm. In the oven on 350 I'd say they need 30-40 minutes if you make a big batch like I did--the sour cream and cream cheese really cooled them off. Really a tasty recipe!

Broccoli salad. This was VERY good. Between the three ladies there besides me, I got two recipe requests. I used craisins instead of raisins, and used almonds instead of peanuts. Note that you need to make this the day before so it can marinate overnight. I do think the marinating time helped with the flavor.

Green bean casserole. Green bean casserole is so yummy--but I should have thawed my frozen green beans first; it took too long to cook and didn't get quite done.

Caramel apple pie. To die for. Make it. Seriously, SO good. I used a Pillsbury crust (the refrigerated kind that you just unroll) because they are so good and so easy. The recipe called for caramel squares, unwrapped and cut in two. Instead I bought a bag of little caramel pieces in the baking aisle, made for melting (for apples.) They were easier to use than whole caramels. And per my Mamma's suggestion, I beat an egg white a bit then brushed it on the unbaked crust, followed with a sprinkling of sugar. It was gorgeous, nicely browned on top.

It felt like a huge accomplishment to pull this off--and I had lots of hands helping me do it! Even better, The Engineer's hands did all the hand-washing of pots and pans and such afterward. What a guy.

And I'm very pleased to announce that before bed Chickie gave me a great reason to be thankful--again, for the second day in a row!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A to Z...a Thanksgiving giveaway contest

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I'd like to play a little game, one we played around the Thanksgiving table when I was a kid. At the end of this post I'll name something starting with an "A" that I'm thankful for. If you're the first to comment, tell us something you're thankful for that starts with an "B." Second comment, something starting with a "C." (I'm pretty sure you're smart enough to figure out the remaining 23 steps!)

Feel free to post as many times as you'd like, but don't post twice in a row. Traffic might be low today since it's a holiday. Can we get to "Z" before the day is through? Let's try!

If you cross-post and more than one person uses the same letter, no problem--it's a good day to be extra-thankful.

And to sweeten the deal...whoever completes our alphabet with "Z" will get some yummy peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies in the mail. Remember, no posting twice in a row. I'll plan to come on and post a "Y" comment so that anyone is free to post "Z."

Let's get started!

A: I'm thankful for...
Another sticker on Chickie's potty chart.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

List, list, list

My mom is a master of organization and an expert list-maker.

I recognize that writing this post and publishing the photo below means I am publicly admitting I'm turning into her.

I'm okay with that. As long as I can continue to keep my house a little less clean than hers, that is.

So, here goes. This is my attempt to keep Thanksgiving cooking stress at a minimum while still getting dinner on the table at 2:00ish. I'll have to report back on its effectiveness in a few days.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Line-item veto

My dad's blog yesterday asked his readers what would make them want to "self-impose a pink slip." I responded, "You know, I was sitting here trying to think of a good answer and realized how incredibly blessed I am that right now I don't feel like resigning from anything. Yeah!"

Then I got to thinking. I may not want to resign from any of my "jobs" but (forgive the dreadfully mixed metaphors here) I sure would love line-item veto power. If I had that power...

I'd keep cooking but I'd veto dirty dishes.

I'd still love being a mommy but I'd veto potty training a toddler and production of toxic gas by my infant's rear end.

I'd stay married but I'd veto silly arguments with my spouse.

I'd keep up my Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring but I'd veto the long drive across town to see my Little Sis.

I'd keep our dog Hammer but I'd veto 95% of barking and 100% of chewing on or eating forbidden objects.

I'd keep blogging but I'd veto Blogger's technical issues and caring too much how many people are reading.

I'd keep occasionally doing a little real estate work but I'd veto stress.

I'd keep driving but I'd veto dirt that sticks to cars, red lights, and traffic.

While I'm waiting for my line-item veto power, indulge me by sharing how you'd make your life easier with that powerful red editing pen.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Get your "Mmmmm" on

We are having a Thanksgiving feast. I'm excited; it's only the second time I've been in charge of a big, holiday dinner. My grandparents (Mamma and Papa) will be in town, and two of my good friends will join us for dinner.

I feel like such a grown-up.

Want to join us? You can be here in spirit...and if you want to feel even closer to us, you can borrow some of my recipes (all of which I've borrowed from other websites.)

C. Beth's Thanksgiving Menu

Turkey breast, made in the CrockPot, with gravy made from the drippin's. (Gravy will be made by my expert Mamma, but if you need a gravy recipe, check out this one.)

Half a ham with apricot honey glaze

Stuffing, which I'll be making in the oven--I'll try 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. (The recipe calls for it to be made in the CrockPot.)

Mashed potatoes with cream cheese and sour cream--I'll add bacon to these, and I won't make them in the CrockPot. (Unlike the awesome CrockPot Lady, I only have one slow cooker.)

Broccoli salad

Green bean casserole

Caramel apple pie

And with all that cooking, I trust you won't look down your nose at me for the last two items:

Store-bought brown and serve rolls

Canned whole cranberry sauce

Oh, and I can't end this post without a photo. As of last night, here's what's hanging on my fridge.


There was a lot of crying involved on Chickie's part...but no pressure on mine; it was initiated by her. And her stated motivation was WALL-E. (Added to the bribery...uh, I mean motivational package...were four WALL-E lithographs hung on her wall for numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4. The lithographs came free with the movie, and she enjoyed choosing the first one yesterday. I guess the lithograph sweetened the pot.)

What's that thing I see, just barely, if I squint just right? Well, I'm in a very long tunnel, but I think that just be a dim light, way down at the end.

Giveaway winner and fun haiku

Whether you think that
R.D. is deep or shallow,
we have a winner!

The winner of the Reader's Digest subscription was chosen by the Integer Generator at

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-11-23 14:19:33 UTC

Comment number 12 was written by Mel. Congratulations, Mel! E-mail me at cbethblog(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address.

For fun, here are the haiku that were submitted. (I think "haiku" is the plural of "haiku," like "deer" and "fish." Any experts out there?)

Mel's haiku:
Is reading a sin?
I still pray that I do win
Even if it is.

Mama to a diva's haiku:
Something I can read
A perfect mental escape
Give away from Beth

Liz's haiku:
Digest memories
"Humor in Uniform" and
"All In A Day's Work"

beckiwithani's haiku:
My husband Donal
Rolls his eyes that I like it ...
I read anyway.

beckiwithani's extra credit haiku series:
Have you seen Mad Men?
On TV - A & E.
Mentions the Digest.

It's set in '60.
Readers Digest just published
That cigarettes kill.

With slogans and sheen:
"Be a man! Smoke Lucky Strikes!"
The ad-men prevail.

d's haiku:
All abridged books read
like life in these United States
Digest but don't taste

ElleBee's haiku:
Lots of magazines
But none bring memories like
Bathroom read RD

Sandi's haiku:
Reading is my real love.
Blogging is my fun hobby.
Help me find some love.

Bri's haiku:
I'll write this for you
If I can get cookies too
For referring me

Anna's haiku:
The digest I would like
Too cheap to buy my own one
My poem not good

Thanks to everyone who entered, and special thanks to all the haiku-writers--I got a kick out of reading them all!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Who invented children's books that play music? Tinny, shrill, annoying music?


Whoever it was, that invention is a fantastic argument for establishing an exception to the inconvenient American prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment". I'm thinking the inventor of these terrible little musical devices (using "musical" in the broadest sense of the term) is deserving of the stocks, at the very least.

Of course, toddlers think that when you push a button on a book and glass-breaking tones emerge, that's just about the coolest thing in the world. I say "just about," because Chickie discovered something she considered even cooler today.

She pushed buttons on two of those little books. At once. She held them up and said, "They're both playing songs!"

My ears ringing, I pasted on my fake mommy smile, and looked around for something to get my mind off the cacophony. I didn't have any sharp objects available to shove underneath my fingernails, so I had to settle for clawing my eyes out.

When I complain about her taste in music in a few years, just remind me of her two-book symphony. The worst boy band in the world will sound heavenly in comparison.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Giveaway time!

I have a free Reader's Digest subscription up for grabs!

The rules:
1. Sorry, my international friends--this can only go to a U.S. resident.
2. Post a comment, any comment at all. I personally think you should post a haiku (poem of three lines--5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second, five syllables in the third) about why you want this subscription. But that's purely for my entertainment because I like silly poetry. The winner will be chosen randomly.
3. Tell friends, enemies, frienemies, family members, and blog readers about this. I only have one subscription to give away, but if someone you refer wins, I'll send you some of the super-yummy peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I've been making lately.

So click that comment button--and good luck!

Winner will be chosen sometime Sunday!

Magic Pill

Okay, this is two days in a row of poopie posts--please just bear down...uh, I mean bear with me. I've been trying to back off and not put too much pressure on Chickie, but I'm just sick of it.

She is so afraid of pooping. She says it hurts. Thing is, we don't have (ahem) a firmness problem. In fact, lately we haven't even had a frequency problem.

We have a fear problem.

She feels the urge, and she does her darndest to hold it back, running in circles, crying and screaming, sometimes speaking in this weird gibberish. When she finally does the deed, she cries and cries as I change the disposable training pants that we've resorted to. She's hurting because she's afraid, and she continues to be afraid because it continues to hurt.

She thinks it's a physical issue. I'm quite sure the root is actually in her beautiful little head, not her cute little butt.

So today I had an idea that I was desperate enough to try.

"Hey, Chickie," I said when she'd just gone through a minor "Ouchie!" session without any solid results. "Do you want some medicine to help it not hurt?"


"Okay," I said, headed into the kitchen. "You go play, and I'll find some."

"What's it called?" she asked.

"It doesn't have a name," I said. Then, I magically "remembered." "It's called Placebo!" I proclaimed, as I found--aha--the Halloween candy! I couldn't think of any time she'd ever had Reese's Pieces, so she wouldn't recognize them. I got out one of the little candy-coated "pills."

"Placebo is candy medicine!" I told Chickie. She happily gobbled it up.

Now, it's very important to me not to lie to my kids, and I actually had a really hard time not knowing if I was crossing that line or not. I repeatedly told her, "Taking Placebo can make it not hurt!" I figured that was true, even though it would be her mind, not the pill, doing the job.

When she'd start her moaning, I'd say, "Oh, remember, Chickie? You took Placebo, it doesn't have to hurt anymore!" And at first, it seemed to be working. Like a switch had been flipped, she'd stop the writhing and go on with what she was doing, saying, "I took 'Cebo!"

As the urge got more, well, urgent, it became more difficult. She is in such a terrible habit of tightening up her little body, trying to keep the stuff inside. She got a second Placebo "to help let the poopy out." As I continued to remind her about the Placebo and to tell her she needed to "help it work," she seemed more able to control her emotions. But she still held back, and still went through quite a bit of discomfort.

Chickie went to bed happily--unfortunately, without doing her business. Then she crawled in bed with me this morning and said, "I'm letting the 'cebo work." I sure hope those magic little pills are enough to convince her there really is no reason to fear.

Think Placebo would reduce my mommy anxiety too?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Does Perfect Love Cast Out Fear?

That's the title of the latest installment in the Chickie Poop Saga.

What do you think, folks--can her love of WALL-E conquer her fear of pooping in the potty?

The plan:
1. Pooping in the potty gets her a sticker on the potty chart (see below) and a toy from The Toy Drawer. She'll get four stickers and four toys and then...
2. With Poop #5, she'll get a sticker and the WALL-E movie.

She's talking excitedly about it, so we'll see if it works. Wish us luck!

Here's the chart:

I thought of drawing little poopies in the potties, but I was concerned that guests might find that weird. (Good thing looking at hand-drawn toilets when you get juice from the fridge isn't strange at all.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Clickity Click

Today I'd like to share a few blogs with you that I've been enjoying recently. Now, if I read your blog and it's not listed here, I still like it! I'm just choosing a few to highlight today.

So, if you're searching for some good new reading material, click on...

Dwell and Cultivate
How cool is it that my dad has started a blog? And it's a really good one. My dad has been a pastor for almost as long as I've been alive, and he shares lessons he's learned along the way. His writing displays lots of wit and lots of heart, and for a preacher, he's remarkably un-preachy. If you think I'm biased, maybe I am--just check it out for yourslf and see.

Add Humor and Faith...mix well
I've only been reading Sandra's blog for a month or two, and I already wish I could sit and have a cup of tea with her to experience her warmth, joy, and wisdom in person...and that I had some of her beautiful photographs hanging on my walls.

365 Sonnets
This blog author, Mike Fan, is writing 365 sonnets, and he's got great writing skills plus a fabulous sense of humor. Oh, and he's 16. Yeah, as in the age when most of us are talking in another language and focusing on adolescent crushes, not writing fantastic poetry.

Simply Put
Chris Bowers is a Writer with a capital "W." His recent post, "Billy 'Buster' Branett," is captivating, entertaining, and beautiful.

Cake Wrecks
Who knew that dreadful cakes could be the basis of one of the funniest blogs I've read? Be one of the thousands to get your daily chuckle checking out this site.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snip, clip: THE DECISION

I looked at Zoodle's hair more, and many of you who commented on the previous post were right.

It was a mullet.

So, I got out the scissors today. I cut the back, and trimmed up the extra-long hairs on the sides a wee bit too.







He still has long hair on the sides and in the front, but the mullet is now ancient history, where it belongs, along with the 1980s.

Chickie got a trim today, too. (Sampa, this pic's for you!)


Lead us not into temptation...

Sorry, folks, but I have to share. Hide your eyes if you're dieting.


Yes, those are Old Fashioned Candy Cane Creme flavored Oreos.

Yes, they're yummy.

Yes, they are trans-fat free.

Yes, that means they are genuinely healthy.*

*Any statements regarding the healthy qualities of junk food are C. Beth's (possibly delusional) opinions only and should be carefully discussed between you, your family physician, your cardiologist, and your favorite tummy tuck surgeon.

Conversation with Chickie

Chickie is coloring with markers and turns to me.

In a sweet voice, with a little smile, she says, "I'm not drawing on myself, Mom."

"Good," I reply.

"I'm not drawing on myself, Mom," she repeats.


Then, she holds out a colorful hand and adds, "Only a little bit. But that's okay."

"No," I assure her, "That's not okay."

"That's not okay," she confirms. "Sorry, Mom. Sorry. I'm not supposed to draw on myself. That's not a good move."

It's good to know she's familiar with the rules. Even if she makes every effort to charm herself out of them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Countdown, part 3: Big thanks

As I blogged about on September 2nd and October 2nd, we're approaching the second anniversary of The Engineer's brain surgery on January 2nd. I've gotten off-track on my 2nd-day-of-the-month postings on this topic, but life lessons don't always happen on a schedule.

Last week one of the fellow moms in my local playgroup lost her husband to a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung.) At an age far too young, she is a widow. Her daughter will be three in December, and her daddy is gone. I don't know them well, but my heart aches for them.

I keep thinking, "I could have gone through all of this." About a month after The Engineer's surgery, he woke up in the middle of the night with chest pain. At the ER he was diagnosed with pneumonia, which was causing the pain. It was the most fortuitous case of pneumonia we'd ever heard of, as their examination also revealed a pulmonary embolism. Had it not been for the pain from the pneumonia, the clot might have traveled to his brain, and I might have been a widow, with a fatherless daughter.

I knew that intellectually, but it struck me more deeply this week. Twice in a short period of time, God, in his infinite yet unexplainable grace, kept my husband alive, despite a brain abscess and a blood clot. A few months after that intense time, I was pregnant, and soon my completely healthy husband and I had a second child. Life went on. And gradually the miracle of that simple fact--life went on--lost most of its luster.

I don't know why this other dear woman lost her husband when I didn't. And I know there are no certainties for tomorrow, and next year, and the years after that.

But I know how grateful I am. Last month I talked about being grateful for everyday things. Today I'm reminded to be grateful for the BIG things, the things I take for granted, the things I forget could have been gone two years ago and aren't guaranteed to be here tomorrow.

So, God, thank you.

Thank you for my husband, who I love and am in love with.

Thank you for my healthy, beautiful daughter.

Thank you for my healthy, adorable son.

Thank you for parents and siblings and grandparents who enrich my life.

And the one thing that can't be taken away--thank you, God, for your Son Jesus and His life, in me.

That's the big stuff. However long I'm here, and however long I've got this beautiful family, may I not forget to be deeply grateful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Snip, clip?

If you've been reading this blog awhile, you know that Zoodle's hair has had a life of its own.

There's always been plenty of it.

And for a few months, his cowlicks took over. I loved his 'do during this time.

Then his hair decided to lay down and behave somewhat normally. How boring.

Throughout the months I've had people suggest that it's time to cut his hair. I've always reacted with horror. Cut this fabulous, perfect head of hair on my perfect little baby? Not yet! But recently I've started to think it may be time.

From the front he still looks cute. I mean, shaggy is in for boys anyway, and I don't mind it down over his ears.

But in the back he's looking a little too, well, 1980s. (Note that when he's upright and isn't leaning his head back, his hair doesn't look this long--but it does still curl down over his collar.)

So I am considering just trimming up the back. Any thoughts? Do I (deep breath) give my 7 1/2-month-old his first big boy haircut? Or let it grow and prepare myself to correct all the people who may start thinking he's a girl?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Giveaway link!

Angie (a.k.a. SciFi Mama) is giving away kids' craft supplies. Go over there and enter, and tell her I sent you!

Enter here!

Broken connection

There are some things that my brain just has trouble with. Like choreography. Somewhere in the journey from my eyes to my brain to my feet, there's a broken connection. I just have a hard time figuring it out. It amazes me when natural dancers can watch someone do ten dance steps in a row and easily reproduce them.

That's how I used to feel about those "Word Verification" words you have to type to comment on blogs and to enter information on other websites. It seemed more often than not I got them wrong and had to try again. But finally I guess the a new connection was formed in my brain, and I found myself usually able to type the gibberish on the first try!

Then Blogger went and threw me for a loop. They started requiring Word Verification for composing and editing blog posts, and the letters are more warped than the words that you have to type in the Comment screen. Once again, I find that I can't seem to get it right.

I'm a Word Verification moron.

And I'm not saying that in some sort of self-loathing way. I recognize that accurate Word Verification deciphering is not an essential life skill. I think it's kind of amusing that when confronted with these weird strings of letters, I'm suddenly a dullard.

On my resume: "Skills: Excellent speller. However, if you need meaningless combinations of letters typed, hire my toddler--not me."

So, 'fess up. What seemingly simple tasks seem to cause broken connections in your brain?

Now off to publish this post. Is that "interi" or "interj" I have to type? I guess we'll see....

Friday, November 14, 2008

What's that noise?

Must be the sound of wild rejoicing emanating from my driver's seat....

If you'd told me a few years back I'd consider sub-$2.00 a gallon gas a bargain I would have laughed (or possibly thrown up.)

It's been a great week with The Engineer's parents. Unfortunately, they're headed home this morning, but we were able to go out for a delectable dinner on their last night here. (Those of you who live in the same unnamed metropolitan area as me--e-mail me and I'll tell you about our surprising new restaurant find.) Our server was not only incredibly nice; she also took a very cute picture of the six of us.

Have a great Friday, and I'll see you here tomorrow!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


There are three types of bloggers.

Type 1: I blog because it's fulfilling to me as a person, and I don't need an audience.

Type 2: I blog to keep in touch with family and friends--only. I'd prefer that strangers not read my blog.

Type 3: I might have some of the motivations of Type 1 and Type 2, but I really want as many people as possible reading my blog! I LOVE an audience! Please, please, please read! Pretty please?

I might as well not even sugarcoat it. I mean, I have a degree in theatre--clearly I want an audience! I am a Type 3.

Recently I've gotten questions from some fellow Type 3s, wanting to know how to get more people to read their blogs. I'll start with the disclaimers that there are far more successful blogs out there than mine, and I'm by no means an expert. But here are a few things I've learned about driving traffic to my blog. Please add your own in the comments section! (Type 3s love blog comments.)

1. Put a link to your blog in your e-mail signature.

2. If you are active on an Internet message board, put a link in your signature. Invite others on the board to share their blogs, and be sure to share yours too--this is a great way to get new readers and to discover some fun new blogs to read.

3. Post interesting or funny comments on other blogs. Lyndsay (whose hilarious blog you should definitely read) told me once she noticed people were clicking her name and visiting her site after she'd left a funny comment on a popular blog. Make sure it's genuine--that you're commenting when you actually have something to say, on a blog that really interests you. You can include your blog URL in your comment too, but be aware some bloggers don't welcome such self-promotion. Blog URLs are always welcome in comments on my blogs, as long as you post a real comment too, and as long as your blog is not of an adult (XXX) nature.

4. Think of an idea that is truly unique, and start a blog based on that. My One Minute Writer blog uses an old idea--writing prompts--but changes it by adding a one minute timer. The CrockPot Lady started the first-ever Crock Pot recipe blog, committing to post a recipe every day for a year--and has a huge readership. You may eventually get more traffic at a blog that offers something unique, though it may take awhile for interest to build and for the word to spread.

5. My dad has a fantastic new blog, and he writes his posts every night, setting them up to publish at the same time each morning. (To set up future publishing on Blogger, click "Post Options" below where you type your post.) I've started doing the same thing (when Blogger's software cooperates.) I always know I can check my blog roll early in the morning, and one of my dad's posts will be there. Routine may help your readers to be more consistent and will certainly help you to be more consistent! Which brings me to the next tip....

6. Write regularly. For me that means once a day (sometimes more often!) For you it may be a little less frequently. Just know that if you take three months off blogging, especially with no explanation, you may lose a lot of readers.

7. Respond to comments with a comment of your own. My sister Becki (beckiwithani) suggested this to me, and it's a great way to show appreciation for those who comment on your blog...and to get them to come back!

Some people have asked me how to become one of Blogger's Blogs of Note, since my traffic went up quickly when my other blog was given that title. Unfortunately, there's no way to "apply" to be one of the Blogs of Note; you just have to hope the folks at Google/Blogger find out about your site in some way. In other words, if it happens, great...but don't depend on it to increase your traffic. (Psst--See the comment by Mike Fan below, on how to apply--seems I was wrong! SHOCKER!)

Now, on a serious note--as a Type 3, I have to consistently remind myself of something very important--My worth as a person is not based on how many blog readers/commenters I have! Even as we Type 3s hope for more traffic, maybe we can also learn to take more pleasure in the process as we keep in touch with our families and friends. Those Types 1s and 2s may have it right after all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Keep the construction paper away from the trash can

I have a confession to make. I throw away nearly all of Chickie's beautiful works of art. Sure, I kept her first paintings, and her first obviously representational art is still hanging on my fridge. But generally her beautiful, lovingly-created items are unceremoniously tossed in the trash.

This morning I took two of yesterday's creations (marker-drawn) and two from today (one marker, one paint), and wrote on them, "Happy Veterans Day! -Chickie". We then went to a nearby nursing home and dropped them off so they can be distributed to veterans there.

I realized, we could start doing this on other holidays too. I think I'll start saving some of her works of art so we can go back to the nursing home for a Thanksgiving or Christmas visit. Next time we may take the time to hand-deliver them. Either way--dropping them with a staff member in the lobby or giving them out personally--it seems like such a nice way to teach the kids about spreading happiness to others.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shopping alone

The Engineer's parents are in town, and The Engineer was home from work yesterday. So I got in my car and went shopping...alone. I went to three different stores. Let's compare this shopping trip to the typical three-store trip, taken with an infant and toddler in tow.

Typical: 4 times into the car + 4 times out of the car * 2 kids=16 times that I buckle or unbuckle carseat straps.
Today: I get in the car and out of the car eight times, easily, and it only takes a few seconds each time.

Typical: I carry a diaper bag, toys, and sippy cup, and go back into the house 14 times to get the rest of the gear I forgot.
Today: I bear no resemblance to a pack mule.

Typical: Chickie calls from the back seat, "Can we listen to Philadelphia Chickens, please?" If I have the nerve to turn it off and Zoodle is tired, he protests.
Today: The only talking I hear is coming from my favorite talk radio station.

Typical: Zoodle is strapped to my back in my favorite baby carrier, and Chickie (the most orally-fixated kid in the world) is in the shopping cart sneaking packages out of the basket so she can chew on them.
Today: When I need a shopping cart, I push it around easily. When I don't need a shopping cart I grab one anyway, out of habit.

Typical: Not wanting to bother with two small children in a fitting room, I buy clothing without trying it on, or by hastily putting it over my clothes while I try to find a reflective surface in the middle of the store.
Today: I try on clothes in peace, thereby avoiding purchasing a shirt that looks far better on the hanger than it does on me.

Typical: Stress.
Today: Heaven.

Later we were driving to dinner, with the kids in the car. We passed some cows, and I pointed them out to Chickie.

"Look, Chickie! Those are cows! And baby cows!"

Chickie, in her "expert voice," informed me, "Actually, those aren't cows. Actually, those are baby elephants."

Well, you learn something new every day. I guess having kids in tow isn't so bad after all.

Monday, November 10, 2008


We went out for lunch today. The restaurant has a cool hand washing machine. It's even got a flip-down step for kiddos who can't reach.

Of course the step has a warning label. And apparently warning label writers these days are pessimistic about the health of America's children.

Please, pay your bills...

...if not for your sake, for the sake of whoever gets your phone number next time you move.

We seem to have a knack for inheriting phone numbers of people with plenty of uncollected debt. Now, I understand that life happens, so this won't be a rant post against those with collections.

But, for the love of Pete, is there not a way for collection agencies to look up phone numbers and realize their "target" has moved? Over a year ago?

Seeing "OUT OF AREA" on the Caller ID, I at first avoided the calls, figuring they'd stop calling eventually. They didn't. So I started answering, to let them know that Scott and Leanne Van Buren* no longer live here. One company called often and repeatedly despite my gentle corrections, and finally my repressed assertive qualities came to the forefront when I told the caller, "I insist you take me off your list!" (Yeah, I know, my assertive side isn't very frightening.)

The ones that really bug me, though, are the automated, recorded messages. We have two of these that we get over and over. And over. And over. And over.

And over.

And over.

Yeah, it's that annoying.

The first has been calling for a couple of months now. It goes something like this: "Hello, this is American Recovery Services. We are calling for Scott Van Buren. This is an attempt to collect a debt. If you are Scott Van Buren, please press "4". If you are not Scott Van Buren, please call 1-800-555-1212."

So, let me get this straight. If I owe them a debt, they are ready and waiting to talk to me right now. If I'm a totally innocent party who owes them exactly zero dollars, I have to call them to get my name off their list. And, really, how many people are anxious enough to pay their debt that they actually press "4"? Deep breath, Beth. This is not worth the ire it raises in you.

And then there's another company that has been calling me for many months. I don't even think they are a collection company. I've tried to imagine what they are, but nothing seems to make sense. Their message says something like, "This is the law offices of Palmer, Reichler, & Associates, P.A. We are looking for the parent or guardian of Junior Richards. Please call 1-800-555-1212."

At first I thought it was some sort of child support collection agency, but why would they be calling his parent/guardian? They'd be trying to find the non-custodial parent. My stomach is in knots from the curiosity!

I finally got sick of that message (which occasionally goes through calling-us-once-a-day phases) and called the number. It was an automated system, and after being on hold awhile I decided putting up with the messages was better than sitting there on hold. One of these days I'll get annoyed enough to call them and sit through the hold music. Until then, I'll just complain.

Anyone want to trade phone numbers?

*Not their real names. Making up names is kinda fun.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Really, is it THAT different from him drinking milk my body produced?

I'm going to warn you. This post is really gross. If you are easily disgusted, stop now.

I was sitting on the couch last night holding Zoodle; I'd just nursed him. I saw a little piece of food on him and figured it was a crumb from the pita chip I'd eaten a few minutes before. Too lazy to throw it away, I put it in my mouth.

"Hmm," I thought, "That's pretty salty for such a small piece."

A second later my food radar told me something was wrong. The little bite didn't taste bad; it was just very salty, with an un-pita-like texture. I took the morsel out of my mouth.

I looked at it more closely.

And I quickly identified a baby booger.

Hey, I did warn you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Baby Shower...The Menu

The baby shower went great. I made the food. A lot of food. It was close to perfect for a group of 25-30 people. We only had 12. I don't cook for large groups often and had no idea how much to make. The shower was from 2-4; more of the food would have probably been eaten if it had been a lunchtime or cocktail-hour event.

If you like to cook, some of these recipes might appeal to you!

Beth's Baby Shower Menu

(Most of these recipes are found online; just click the name of the recipe to access it.)

Fruit with Fruit Dip

My notes: You can't go wrong with fresh fruit--I used grapes (red, black, and green), pear slices, and apple slices. This fruit dip is ridiculously simple, with two ingredients mixed together (marshmallow cream and cream cheese.) The mom-to-be particularly liked the dip. Not shockingly, I prepared way too much fruit. And dip.

Pita Chips with Hearts of Palm Dip
My notes: These homemade pita chips were nicely flavored. I copied some of the reviewers by spraying the pitas with canola oil, sprinkling them with the spices, and then cutting them, instead of using the method suggested on the website. Olive oil would have been better; I just didn't have any in spray form. The Hearts of Palm dip is very similar to artichoke dip and was delicious. Note that this was the only item we came close to running out of; we ate about 3/4 of it. With a large group you'd want to double the dip recipe. Next time I think I'll reserve a bit of the mozzarella and sprinkle it on top of the dip before baking.

Crackers (store-bought) with Raspberry Cheese Spread
This spread was so good and very impressive-looking! It made a lot, and there was a ton left over. In fact, I'm going to have a little as a bedtime snack in a few minutes.

Pesto Pinwheel Appetizers
(From a holiday brochure put out by H-E-B supermarket)

1 box (2 sheets) frozen Puff Pastry Sheets
1 jar Canyon Foods Basil or Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (or another brand)
6 T. pine nuts (I got mine in the bulk foods section)
8 oz. (1 c.) shredded Italian-blend cheese
1 egg, beaten with 1 T. water

1. Thaw folded pastry sheets 30 to 40 minutes at room temperature or until pliable.
2. Heat oven to 425F. Coat 2 large baking sheets with non-stick spray. Beat egg with water in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Unfold each pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface. Spread half of pesto over each pastry sheet, to within 1/2 inch of top, bottom, and sides. Sprinkle cheese and pine nuts over pesto.
4. Starting at the short side closest to you, roll up each pastry sheet tightly, like a jelly roll. Wrap each in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator or freezer a few minutes to chill thoroughly.
5. Discard plastic wrap. Cut each roll crosswise into 12 to 15 slices with a sharp knife. Arrange slics on prepared baking sheets, cut-sides down. Brush tops with egg mixture.
6. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown, in 1 or 2 batches. Cool slightly and serve.

My notes: I made double, but we had over half of them left. I made half with basil pesto, and I meant to make the other half with sun-dried tomato pesto but accidentally bought tomato bruschetta instead. I put it through the food processor and used it. I brushed the large, uncut rolls with egg on all sides before cutting; it was easier, and it worked. They were good! The Engineer had some of the leftovers, which we heated in the oven instead of the microwave, to preserve the pastry's crispiness.

RED ALERT! Geeky blog post ahead!

When you hear, "RED ALERT!" does it transport you to the bridge of the Starship Enterprise?  If so, you'll dig this post.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, this entire post may just be fodder for you to laugh at The Engineer me.  And that's okay; we're secure in our geekiness!

We love Netflix. At first I figured I'd mostly get movies from Netflix. And then we discovered the joy of watching TV series on DVD.

What kind of series do we watch? Science fiction! A couple of years ago we started Netflixing sci-fi shows, and, oddly enough, sitting in front of the TV sharing a genre we both enjoy is a special sort of bonding for us. Here's a rundown of the sci-fi shows we've watched on DVD, are currently watching, or plan to watch.

1. Firefly. We started with a good one! This series is designed as a western-type show in space, with a diverse group of ex-cons (all human) flying around on an old, patched-up ship. The characterizations are great; the dialogue is funny; and the plot is suspenseful and compelling. Unfortunately, the network didn't fully support the show, and due to poor scheduling and other factors, it was canceled before a full season had been filmed. Thankfully the follow-up movie Serenity ties up most of the loose ends and is a really enjoyable film.  The Sci-Fi Channel is airing a Firefly marathon on Memorial Day (11/18)!

2. Farscape is about a man who gets sent through a wormhole and ends up very far from Earth, in a portion of space inhabited by all sorts of aliens (some of which were puppets created by the Jim Henson Company.) It's very entertaining, and I definitely grew attached to some of the characters. It's also kind of fun to watch the alien makeup evolve from season to season. It doesn't measure up to Firefly, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

3. Star Trek: Enterprise is the most recent Star Trek series, but it is a prequel to the other series. I preferred The Next Generation, which I watched most of when it originally ran--but I did thoroughly enjoy Enterprise. Scott Bakula plays Captain Archer, and while I never totally believed him when he acted "tough," his character is very likable.

4. Battlestar Galactica (the new series) is very different than the decades-old original series. I hesitate to say too much about the plot, since I don't want to give anything away. Plus, "robots that look human" sounds cheesy--and Battlestar Galactica is anything but cheesy. It is consistently well-acted, at times dark, beautifully-written...and my favorite TV show of all time. The first three seasons are available on DVD; the first half of the fourth season is available for download for $1.99 an episode on Amazon. The second half of the fourth and final season starts in January on the Sci-Fi Channel. Please, Sci-Fi...don't mess it up.

5. Heroes. We furiously squeezed in enough Netflix time to watch most of the first two seasons of Heroes before Season 3 recently started on NBC. If you like comic book movies and sci fi, you'll enjoy this show, which is essentially a combination of the two. It's totally unbelievable, but still really fun.

6. Babylon 5. We're a few episodes into the first season of this series, and so far it's dated (amazing how old this mid-'90s show feels) and really corny. Jason assures me that based on the episodes he saw when it originally aired, and what he's read online, it gets much better in the second season. I'm hoping it does, because if not, I will have wasted a lot of time watching a crummy first season.

7. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This is next on our list, and I'm excited. I watched the first few seasons when it was originally aired, and it was a great show. I hear I missed some good stuff in the last seasons. It'll be fun to get back into stories about shape-shifters and other interesting aliens.  I'm not-so-secretly hoping we cut the Babylon 5 showings short so we can get to DS9.

If you like the genre, feel free to share your favorite sci-fi TV shows, books, or movies.  If you don't like the're missing out.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Giveway link, and info on copyrighting

First, the exciting stuff--Lyndsay is giving away some earth-friendly, natural baby wash made by Method. Go here to enter, and be sure to tell her that Beth sent you! If you win, I win too, and my Zoodle's sensitive skin is excited to try this new baby wash. She's choosing the winner today, so enter ASAP!

Second--If you'll scroll down a bit, you'll see that I've copyrighted and registered this blog with This is a nifty service, not only for bloggers, but for anyone who creates something that they'd like to be copyrighted, as long as they can put it into digital form. (If you're a blogger and you have trouble finding your site feed URL, you may find this link helpful.) According to this article, anything you write is automatically copyrighted, but registering it with a service like My Free Copyright gives you evidence that you are the original writer, in case someone tries to plagiarize your work.

So for all of you who were planning on claiming my Chickie poop stories as your are thwarted!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Baby shower games

Okay, ladies (and any gents who have attended baby showers), time to hit that "Comment" button, because I need some ideas. I'm helping with a shower on Saturday, and I'm in charge of games.

We're going to use play dough to make babies, and we'll let the mom choose which one she likes the best. (I'll be giving the ladies serious warnings about the dangers of play dough up the nose.)

But I need a second game. And I personally don't like the ones where each person is given an item such as a safety pin and has to surrender it every time she says a certain word such as "baby." That game stresses me out.

I also think the melted candy bars in diapers game is just a little too gross. Okay, a lot too gross.

Other than those...what would you suggest?

By the way, if you're in the "suggesting" mood today, head on over to Sasha's blog and let her know what your favorite dessert recipe is. Sasha's fame, fortune, and glory are at stake--or a least the personal satisfaction of winning an office contest. I'll be checking out the recipes she gets when I'm in the mood to bake, or even just to drool.


I was mopping the tile downstairs today. (Yes, I know! Exciting! That green monster of envy just reared its ugly head, didn't it?) Zoodle had been fussy, so I'd put him in the swing and was occasionally singing to him and replacing his binky, hoping to hold him off long enough to finish my task.

Suddenly I heard Chickie's laughter. I looked around the corner. She was kneeling in front of the swing, and whatever she was doing was entertaining--Zoodle was watching her with a wide grin, his gray mood gone.

How great is that?! I'm used to doing housework and taking breaks to take care of two kids who are going in two different directions. I wondered, "Is this how it will be as they grow up? Two kids entertaining each other and making my job easier instead of harder? I could handle that!"

Then I got to thinking. Chickie can feed Zoodle. She can entertain him. What in the world am I doing here? She's doing my job better than I do!

Oh, yeah. Chickie is lacking one important thing. Or rather, two. As great as she's getting at entertaining Zoodle, any attempt to nurse him is going to be very frustrating for both of them.

Yeah, I guess I'll stick around. Nothing replaces Mama's mik, and nobody replaces Mama.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Growing out, growing up

I'm growing my hair out. You know, it's really not fair. It took a few minutes and a few snips of the scissors to cut off 12 inches, three years ago. Why can't it be that easy to grow it out?

With the back growing over my collar it was starting to look like a mullet, or as my sister calls it, Carol Brady hair. It doesn't help that my cowlicks were making one side look longer than the other in the back. And I was getting tired of wearing the same headbands over and over.

So with encouragement from some friends, I went out and got a cut. I was putting it off, not wanting to get rid of length when I'm trying to grow it out. But I'm so glad I did it. It actually looks like a style now (instead of grown-out short hair on a good day and a dead, greasy animal on a bad day.) I should have done this a couple of months ago.

It got me to thinking. As I'm growing my hair out, my kids are growing up. The kid growth is definitely a longer process...and kids go through far more "awkward" phases.

It seems that just when I feel like everything is going smoothly, we enter another of those phases. Akin to split ends and a mullet-ish look, suddenly my old ways of doing things just don't work anymore. Whether it's potty training, discipline, or even childproofing, I start to feel like a rookie mom again.

When we hit those times, part of me knows I need to make a change but I tend to put it off. Then when I finally shake things up and change the way I'm doing things, it's usually quite refreshing. Suddenly I have a comfortable parenting style again instead of one that's grown out...or rather, outgrown.

Recently we were working on potty training Chickie and sleep training Zoodle. At the same time. Those are two pretty major things, and they both require a lot more time and frustration than a haircut. In both cases, however, as I started to see the fruits of the changes we were making, part of me wished we'd started "cutting" earlier. Our old parenting styles were getting pretty shaggy since our kids had outgrown them.

Thanks to a good haircut, I feel like growing out my hair is going pretty well. And thanks to a lot of grace from God, and a lot of work, my kids are a joy as they are growing up. Having good kids is one of the deepest desires of my mommy heart.

But I'll be honest--having a good hairstyle makes me pretty happy too.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Welcome, new readers

Well, a little over a month ago I started a little blog called The One Minute Writer. It's been a fun one to do but hadn't really "taken off;" the readership was staying consistently...small.

Until today. Whoa.

I'm giddy and honored and going a little crazy because it was featured as on the "Blogs of Note" list on Blogger. Suddenly as I was innocently out and about with my kiddos, my e-mail in-box was flooded with new comments on my One Minute Writer blog. My number of followers was multiplied by six. When I came home I had to enable comment moderation and quickly delete several obscene comments made by one reader who entertained no one but himself with his utter vulgarity.

Boy is this exciting!
(Obscenity aside, of course!) Many of you who are fellow bloggers understand the thrill of getting new readers.

I know a few people have clicked from that blog to this one. Welcome to new readers of C. Beth Blog, my first blog and "my baby" (second to my real baby, of course.) This is where I talk about family and life, the things that are important to me and the things that make me laugh. Join the discussion. I'm honored to have you here.

Ballots and BUZZ

Did you vote? If so, and you're a blogger, feel free to snag this graphic.
(Yes, I know it's incredibly feminine. If any male bloggers are upset about that, I'd be happy to make you one with a picture of a backhoe, baseball cap, or big screen TV.)

We dressed in red, white, and blue as a family and drove to the polling place.

It's encouraging to me that I drove into the parking lot at 6:59, with polls opening at 7, and we still had to wait 15-20 minutes to vote. I'm excited about the turnout this election. I thought about voting early, but in our county paper ballots are available on election day and not during early voting, and I'm one of those anti-e-voting wackos.

Zoodle did great. Chickie did well (entertaining herself by squishing ants in the waiting area), until The Engineer got back to the voting booth with her and she saw a pen. "I want to DRAW, Daddy!" she cried. She threw a tantrum when she wasn't allowed to turn the ballot into a work of art. Thankfully I was ahead of them and was able to trade kids with The Engineer so that he could cast his vote.

I may head to Starbucks today. In honor of Election Day they are offering a free 12 ounce coffee to anyone who asks for it. My friend Amy also let me know that participating Ben & Jerry's shops are giving away free ice cream from 5-8 p.m. To find a participating location, go to this site. And thanks to Angie for posting about participating Krispy Kremes' giveaway of star-shaped donuts, if you have an "I Voted" sticker. We may not all agree on who should be President, but free stuff has a way of uniting us, doesn't it?

Monday, November 3, 2008

I feel so (sniff, sniff) SPECIAL!!!

I just got a phone call from our U.S. Senator who is up for reelection. I got one from his wife the other day. Of course, the messages were recorded...but both times I was greeted by name. It's interesting to hear a recorded message say, "Hello, Smith family!" And I'm not talking some sort of computer generated voice. It didn't even sound like "Smith" was inserted in the sentence; it sounded like Mr. and Mrs. Senator had actually taken the time to record all three words in sequence. "Hello, Smith family!"

Now, our last name isn't Smith, but we do have a very common surname. I'm thinking maybe they just did recordings with, say, the 100 most common surnames in the state, and used a general, unpersonalized message for the rest of our state residents unlucky enough to have unique last names.

Have you experienced this? And if so, is your last name common or uncommon? Are you a Smith or a Wiggenbottom?

Poop and giggles

Yesterday morning was one of those times I just wanted an expert to come in and tell me how to solve all my parenting problems. Once again, our issue is poop.

Chickie has been extremely hesitant to do the deed, and Sunday morning she was in enough discomfort that we resorted to using a suppository. That was fun, let me tell you. The next couple of hours were filled with lots of crying and lots of poop (mostly in diapers, once in the potty.)

I felt that my little girl would never forgive me for using a medicine on her that hurt. I had visions of a bitter teenager, still angry at her mother for violating her in such a way. A bitter teenager who cries every time she needs to poop.

And then she got to a point that the medicine had done enough of its job that she calmed down. She wanted to wear panties instead of a diaper. She climbed up on the couch with me. She climbed on me. Laughing, I said, "You're laying on my head!" She started giggling. "I'm laying on your head!" My laughter harmonized with hers, and it was one of those perfect parenting moments, squished head and all.

And I was reminded that I've been building a relationship of love, trust, and boundaries with this little girl for almost three years. The bumps in the road don't change that. I'm doing my job as her mom, and that's what she's depending on me to do...whether I'm helping her poop, or sharing her giggles.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bears and bears and bears, oh, my!

I finished the giveaway teddy bears for lucky winners Jennifer and Angie. There is one extra since I made one for my sister too. Nothin' wrong with a little nepotism.

I asked Chickie to name the bears for me. She came up with fantastic names that I will have to spell phonetically as I have never heard them before. Of course, those of you receiving the bears are welcome to change the names if you prefer more conventional monikers.

Without further ado, may I introduce...

Angie's bear (made of sparkly green felt)

Jennifer's bear (made of soft navy corduroy)

and Becki's bear (made of fabrics that match her rocking chair pads)

Interesting names, aren't they? Can we say future sci-fi writer?

I first gave Doguggeye white buttons for eyes. I had to change to black. Only those of you who watch Heroes will get this...but I kept looking at him and getting creeped out, thinking he was about to paint the future.

If you'd like to make your own little bears, download the pattern free at this site. I enlarged the pattern, but smaller bears would be cute too. I filled Chickie's bear with dry beans, but used popcorn for these three, and I like the popcorn better. Lentils or rice are also suggested at the original site.

Ladies, your bears will be shipped this week!

When I am queen

When I am queen of the world (and I'm talking all-powerful monarch, not British-esque figurehead), I'm going to get rid of a few things...when I'm done eliminating war, poverty, and hunger, of course.
  1. Daylight Savings Time. The state of Arizona is so rebellious, they don't have Daylight Savings Time. (Betcha didn't know that's why their senior Senator calls himself "The Maverick.") Their time stays the same year-round...imagine that! The whole "fall back" thing isn't even fun anymore once you have kids, because all it means is that they wake up at the same time as usual, but the clock says it's an hour earlier. When I'm queen there will be no more need to reset your clocks twice a year. Of course, that also means you'll forget to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Sorry. I'll outlaw fire too.
  2. MySpace. I'm all for Internet communication (clearly!), but, dude, Btween ur craZ spLing & da gr8 bakground on ur myspace page, yo, i can't evN read what ur sayin! And while you may think the pictures of you gettin' crazy with your homies and making out with that girl you just met are funny, your future employer just might disagree. MySpace is outta here when I'm kween of da wurld!
  3. Scented diapers. They're gross, and they're gone.
  4. Music on blogs. It reminds me too much of MySpace (see #2.) I recognize I may be in the minority here, so until my queenship becomes official I'll just keep using that "pause" button.
On the off chance that you beat me out for the position of all-powerful king or queen of the world, what will you get rid of?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Candy hunt...and a recipe

We didn't really do the whole Halloween thing this year. Chickie (at 2 years 9 months) is in a "scared" phase. My formerly fearless toddler is getting scared by lots of things that wouldn't have phased her a few months ago. So I was a little nervous about the decorations, masks, etc. that she might encounter during trick or treating. We had invited friends over for dinner, and when I found out they don't do trick-or-treating, we decided to skip it this year. Besides, I hadn't put costumes together for the kids, and appreciated the excuse not to worry about it until next October

Instead, Chickie and her friend Z did a candy hunt in the house. (Z is almost five, but he and Chickie are great buddies.) I hid candy in our game room, and the two kids got their candy buckets ready to go upstairs for the hunt....

Chickie and Z searched, crying out, "I found one!!!" whenever they spied candy.

Afterward, Chickie showed me her stash. (Shh--she doesn't know how much more she would have gotten if we'd gone trick-or-treating!)

When the fun hunt was over, we sat down and watched part of Cars since both Chickie and Z are lovers of anything with wheels. It was really a fun night even without costumes and trick-or-treating.

Before the candy hunt, we had dinner. I went with one of my standby dishes, Rachel Ray's delicious and easy Mexican Lasagna (which I make with ground turkey instead of ground chicken.) If you're looking for a simple recipe that will please most people, try it out.

For an appetizer I made a new recipe my friend Deanne shared with me, and it was delicious. Now, I'm not sure what to call this. We ate it with tortilla chips, but it's too chunky to be called dip or salsa. It's more like pico de gallo on steroids. So we'll call it...

Deanne's Dynamite Pico

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed (or several fresh, ripe tomatoes, diced)
1 can corn, drained
1/3 to 1/2 red onion, diced
2-3 avocados, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste
Garlic salt to taste

Toss all ingredients, and chill. Serve as a dip with tortilla chips or as a topping for tacos, quesadillas, burritos, salad, etc.

Fresh and delicious!

However you spent your October 31, I hope you had as much fun as we did!