Friday, April 30, 2010

Rough night

About a year ago I got an ear infection.I hadn't had one since childhood, and I hadn't remembered just how uncomfortable they are. For two nights I had to (try to) sleep propped up on the couch due to the pressure.

My kids aren't particularly prone to ear infections, but yesterday after Zoodle had a fever that shot up to 103.7 (rectal), I got him into the doctor where he was diagnosed with a double ear infection. Poor kiddo! We got generic Zithromax for him but of course it takes awhile to act. His fever has continued to go pretty high every time Tylenol or ibuprofen has worn off.

Now I'm actually kind of glad I got that ear infection last year. Because when Zoodle was far grumpier and clingier than usual yesterday, and then woke up repeatedly throughout the night, I understood. I like my sleep. So if I hadn't genuinely empathized with him, I'm not sure I would have had much patience with the kid! I really feel so bad for him. This has been very hard (and probably confusing) for his little body and mind.

At the doctor's office, I disclosed our Monday call to poison control, just in case it could have anything to do with Zoodle's illness. The doctor was concerned about the vitamins Zoodle had taken until I assured her they didn't contain iron. "Oh, good," she told me. "That's when it can be dangerous, when they contain iron."

I got home, and thought, You know, I should just check to be sure. My heart sank when I saw that I was wrong--the chewable vitamins did contain iron. But I reassured myself that after the calls to Poison Control (when I'd told them the brand of vitamin), and the plausible explanation of Zoodle's fever, he should be fine.

It's one thing to believe that at 5:00 p.m. It's another thing at midnight when your child has just woken you up and you've gotten his feverish self back to sleep. My mind goes into paranoia mode, and I couldn't sleep without worrying about those vitamins.

So I got out of bed and went on a mission. I checked out the diaper pail where we put poopy diapers. The Engineer cleans it out on Tuesday night. Nope, I thought, looks like he hasn't pooped since at least Tuesday.

I dug through a couple of dozen receipts until I found one from 1/22/10, showing the vitamins.

I counted the remaining vitamins.

I took pen to paper and calculated just how many vitamins Zoodle might have taken--two scenarios based on me having remembered to give the kids their vitamins either 1/3 or 1/2 of the time since 1/22/10. (I'm obviously not very consistent!)

I figured out the range of iron amounts my little guy might have ingested.

And I searched on Google for iron poisoning. What I read assured me he hadn't eaten anywhere near enough for a fatal dose, but on the high end he might have eaten almost enough for "serious effects." I picked up the phone to call Poison Control. Again.

The Poison Control operator was wonderful, explaining that the form of iron in children's vitamins is very hard to overdose on, because of how the body processes it. If Zoodle was going to show symptoms, they would have appeared very quickly. When I brought up the poop, she told me that was totally normal--any form of iron causes constipation. So while Zoodle might have to endure a glycerin suppository this weekend in addition to his ear infection recovery, he does not have iron poisoning.


Zoodle continued to wake throughout the night, but then he blessed me (and answered a specific prayer I'd prayed!) by sleeping until 7:45. I'm going to be tired today, but Zoodle's drama has reminded me just how much I love these kids of mine. Enough to make every midnight phone call or 2:00 a.m. waking 100% worth it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Flowers for you

I've had a couple of comments about my blog background lately. Apparently the snowflakes were kind of odd for springtime. (Tell the residents of the North Pole that! Poor elves, working in freezing temperatures all year round. I'm surprised human rights groups [or elves rights groups?] haven't stepped in.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah, my blog background. Well, it's now all nice and "springy," and because I was working on that last night, this is what you get for a post today. Are you happy, Call Me Cate?

Happy spring, and all that jazz!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spanking (why I don't)

I posted this to Twitter yesterday morning:

On a day like today, Chickie should consider herself very lucky I don't do corporal punishment.

As I write this blog post in the early afternoon, I can calmly admit it has been a pretty good day. But when you're in the middle of a bad 15 minutes, it feels like a bad day! When I typed the Tweet above, Chickie was in her room for an extended time out, due to some garden-variety, four-year-old defiance. If I was a spanking mom, it might have been time to give her one.

So...why don't I spank my kids?

I was occasionally spanked as a child. I remember my parents calmly telling me why I was going to be spanked. Before the paddle ever hit my (clothed) backside, I was crying! After the spanking, they told me they loved me. I don't ever remember bruises or welts, and I don't ever remember them spanking me in anger. I knew they loved me before, during, and after the discipline. I think some parents can spank some kids without causing psychological harm, and I think my parents struck that balance with me.

But there's a crucial phrase in the paragraph above: "I don't ever remember them spanking me in anger." The primary reason I don't spank my kids is because I know I don't always have control over my temper, and I think if I allow myself to spank when I am calm, at some point I'll probably also spank in anger. It's very important to me that I don't teach my kids that the appropriate way to release anger is through hitting. I want to be aware of my weaknesses, so I've made a decision in advance that will hopefully prevent a big mistake in the future.

I have other reasons I don't love the concept of spanking, but the reason above would be enough, even if it stood alone.

So because I don't spank, I must be a permissive parent who lets my kids run wild, disrespecting me at every turn, right?

Not quite. I probably won't ever find the perfect balance between structure and freedom in my home, but I do try to be firm, consistent, and gracious. I expect my kids to do what I tell them to do. If they disagree, I expect them to discuss it with me kindly, not defiantly. I expect them to treat me and others with respect, unless someone is trying to hurt them.

I utilize positive reinforcement such as praise, and negative reinforcement such as time outs, or taking privileges away. My discipline methods vary from kid to kid, and situation to situation, but I try to be clear in advance about what I expect and what the consequences will be for either a good choice, or a bad one. I am not always as consistent as I should be, but I try to be consistent enough that they know I'm serious and that they trust I will follow through.

When it comes down to it, I think it's important that we give our kids boundaries, with plenty of room within those boundaries to be themselves. I think it's also important that, no matter what discipline methods we choose, we treat our kids with respect and patience.

I'm still working on that "patience" thing. There are times I blow my top (and a lot more times I simply snap at the kids in obvious frustration.) I have to apologize frequently, but I'm learning the power of calm parenting. As they learn and grow, I do too.

I have one final thought, this one specifically for Christian parents. There are various verses in the Old Testament that speak of using a "rod" for discipline. Articles and books have been written by those who believe these verses mean Christian parents should utilize spanking. Other articles have been written (such as this one) against spanking, giving alternate interpretations for what using a "rod" might mean.

Here's how I see it. The New Testament focuses more on the "spirit of the law" than the "letter of the law." Even if the Old Testament "rod" verses are speaking of corporal punishment, I believe that I can follow the "spirit of the law" by giving my children appropriate boundaries and non-physical consequences.

Despite what my Tweet said yesterday, I don't think at this age Chickie really ponders Mommy's discipline style! But I hope in 20 years when she and Zoodle are young adults, we'll all look back on these years and feel good about the things they learned, and how they learned them.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More on 9-1-1. (Oh, and Poison Control too....)

Judging from some of your comments on the post about the kids dialing 9-1-1, I think I need to explain how it happened.

My phone (a BlackBerry Pearl) is often locked--to avoid the dreaded "butt dialing" and "toddler calling Tokyo" scenarios! If the track ball is pushed when the keyboard is locked, a message shows up:

Device is locked
Emergency Call

Any of those three options can be selected. If "Emergency Call" is selected, another message appears:

Are you sure you
want to make an
emergency call?

So I think the kids (one or the other or both) messed around with the phone and managed to select "Emergency Call" and then "Yes." Apparently this automatically dials 9-1-1.

They don't even know what 9-1-1 is, and I didn't make a big deal of the mishap, since I knew it was completely unintentional (as opposed to an older child calling 9-1-1 for the thrill of it, which would be dealt with very seriously in our house!)

But this has got me to it time to teach Chickie to use the phone, and to teach her about dialing 9-1-1? She knows her numbers, and if something ever happened to Mommy, I'd sure want her to be able to call for help. I'd love to hear your opinions on the right age to teach a child to make an emergency call.

And speaking of emergency calls, we had our fourth kid-related call to Poison Control yesterday. (It was the first time I was calling on Zoodle's behalf--another unfortunate milestone!)

While I was in the bathroom getting ready, Zoodle took the opportunity to get into the kids' chewable vitamins. The bottle has a child-proof lid, but Mommy probably didn't screw it tight enough. I don't know how many he ate; I just know that it is possible to "overdose" on certain vitamins, so I figured a call to the Poison Control hotline (1-800-222-1222) was warranted.

I was just instructed to feed him and give him a drink, and I was told he might get an upset stomach and diarrhea. As I'm writing this, it's been a few hours, and he seems okay...knock on wood!

As weird as this may sound, I've always had fantastic experiences with Poison Control. Chickie, being the most orally-fixated kid ever born, managed to eat a few non-ingestible substances when she was younger (despite my sincere efforts to keep harmful stuff out of reach!) Poison Control operators have always been calm, polite, and helpful; and they always call back a little later to make sure everything is okay.

None of us is perfectly aware of our kids' actions at every moment, so I'm very glad we've got Poison Control and 9-1-1 available when we need them!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Micro: Conversation with Zoodle

Zoodle: Daddy, chocolate milk?

Daddy (tickling Zoodle's tummy): You want some chocolate milk in your belly?

Zoodle (giggling): No. (Pause.) I want it in my cup.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Unfortunate milestone

Yesterday the kids were playing in the living room, and suddenly The Engineer and I heard the sound of a voice coming out of a cell phone. We looked at each other, confused.

Chickie ran up to me with my cell phone in her hand, and sheepishly handed it to me.

"Hello?" I said.

I was greeted with, "This is 9-1-1. What is your emergency?"

"Well," I said with chagrin, "I think we just hit a milestone--the first time my kids have accidentally called 9-1-1."

Thankfully, instead of berating me for joking about something that really is serious, the dispatcher laughed. "Well, congratulations on that milestone," she said. "So everything is okay?"

"Yeah, it's fine," I assured her. Then, in a sincere tone, I added, "I'm really sorry."

"That's okay," she said. "I'm just glad you're fine."

I said goodbye so that the dispatcher could deal with real problems. (Problems bigger than children who navigate the technical world far too easily.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's super-dee-duper blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Cold shower after a long run.

I keep hearing that ice baths or cold showers can really help prevent soreness after hard workouts. I've tended to brush off this advice, because who wants to punish themselves like that?! friend who ran the 10K with me is NOT a runner, and he ran the whole way. Afterward, he took a cold shower, and he wasn't sore at all in the following days. Of course, this made totally bugged me, because I, the one who'd trained religiously for the race, was a bit sore! So I decided maybe there's something to this cold shower thing after all.

Saturday is my "long run" day, and today's run, while fun, went over some rough terrain, and I knew it was hard on my legs. So I let the cold water beat my legs afterward, and I'm hoping, along with some good stretching, that the shower will prevent me from hating my staircase tomorrow!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Qestions about the krazy English language

Here are a few posts from Twitter yesterday afternoon.

cbethblog (me): Is there really a need for the letter "C" in English when we have "S" and "K"? Oh yeah, there's "ch". "Ch" should be combined into 1 letter.

lestes65: @cbethblog I think the entire alphabet should be reworked. Like, what's with the need for "qu"? Why can't Q handle that alone???

cbethblog: Agreed! (Then I "Re-Tweeted" the "qu" Tweet so all my Tweeps could read it.)

Kama_: @cbethblog i am out of the loop. Have you declared war on the alphabet?

cbethblog: @Kama_ Ha ha! Well, Chickie was singing a song she made up about Costco starting with K. I explained it starts with C and then got to thinking how silly it is that we use the letter "C" for words that would be perfectly fine with a "K" or an "S." :)

And as I typed that, I bizarre as our English alphabet can be, it is perhaps even more bizarre that my daughter is making up songs about a warehouse store.

Perhaps a sign we're spending a wee bit too much time at Costco?

Note: Klearly, Kama_, lestes65, and I are Tweeps worth following, no qestion about it! So klick on our Twitter names above if you'd like to follow us.

Another note: lestes65 got so into this little conversation that she wrote an entertaining blog post proposing a NEW alphabet. Must-read!

Yet one more note: showmyface (also worth following!) Tweeted, "If you think the letter C is so superfluous, why the whole C Beth thing? Huh?" My response: "@showmyface I'm not giving up my C. Beth. K. Beth would make no sense." Of course, "K. Beth Blog" does sound sort of like "Que Beth Blog." Translate a bit of Spanish, and you've got "Why does Beth Blog?" Which, really, after this post...might be a valid question.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Buy One Get One Free promo--today only!

My wonderful sister-in-law Betsy makes FANTASTIC-smelling soy candles. She also makes lotion, lip balm, and scrub with herbs grown in her own organic garden--how cool is that?! Since her company sells such earth-friendly products, she has an Earth Day promo going on. It's today only. (Actually, it ends at 6 AM Pacific Time tomorrow.)

So check out her website, Earthly Resources! I ordered some Rosemary-Citrus Scrub--I can't wait to try it! (By the way, her shipping cost is VERY reasonable.)

God reads my blog

Really, He must. Because He must have realized after my frazzled shopping trip on Tuesday, I'd need a better experience Wednesday.

When I realized my new griddle was broken, I wanted to quickly return it. So before lunch yesterday, the kids and I headed to a different Kohl's. From the first moments, the trip was completely different than our previous adventure.

There were a lot of cars in the parking lot. And yet...they only took up one space each.


Inside, the selection was better than it had been at the Kohl's we'd visited the day before. So after returning the griddle, I tried on a couple of tankini-style bathing suits. They both fit, and I liked them both! This seemed more comfortable though.


The kids were even in good moods. Zoodle was smiley...


...and Chickie picked me flowers as we walked to the car.


We went to a pizza buffet for lunch, where they both did pretty well, and we avoided any major spills or clothing stains.


Getting out of the restaurant and to the car (past a video game room and vending machines) was frustrating, but we made it, and the trip home didn't involve any crying.

So what did I buy this time? Well, let me start by saying, I love the blogosphere! My Twitter/blogger friend Melinda let me know about a deal she'd seen in the Kohl's ad--they had a big sale starting today. A griddle was on sale today, and it was a good enough deal for me to be wiling to "downgrade" from what I'd bought yesterday. I got the griddle and the on-sale bathing suit, and still spent $15 less than yesterday...$25 less if you count a $10 mail-in rebate.


Yep, God reads my blog. Actually, he knows the details of my life before even my blog readers do...and I appreciate him giving me so much to enjoy on yesterday's shopping trip!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A shopping trip with two kids

Yesterday morning I remembered I had a $30 voucher for Kohls, a department store, and I realized that it was the last day I could use it. So after we ate lunch, I took the kids with me to go shopping.

The visit started off on the wrong foot, when I started to pull into a parking spot and realized it was blocked.


The driver of this truck really disappointed me. He (or I suppose it could be she) had a perfect opportunity to take up four parking spots, and instead only used three. I'm sure next time (s)he will strive to do better!

We headed inside, where I spent quite some time picking out clothes to try on. Thankfully the big dressing room was available, and we all fit inside. But when I tried on a cute green shirt, I found myself once again wondering, When did "extra small" start meaning "medium"? This photo doesn't do the shirt justice--in fact, if it really looked like this, I might have wanted it. In real life, with both arms down, it hung on me like a nightshirt, and felt like it would fall off my nonexistent shoulders at any moment.


Unfortunately, this type of sizing tends to relegate me to the juniors department at most stores. I can sometimes find what I need, but it can be frustrating. I'm 32 and don't really feel like wearing short cut-off shorts, thank you very much.

We continued to shop, and by the time we were driving home, Zoodle was sleepy and grumpy.


(Why, Mommy? Why must you put me through the torture of shopping for non-toys?)

Chickie was okay until I told her she would need to wait until after her quiet time to have an ice cream sandwich. When her attitude went downhill and she refused to change it, I let her know (after plenty of warning) that the ice cream sandwich wasn't going to happen. She didn't take the news well.


Finally, though, we arrived home, and after some drama, both kids were in their rooms for naptime or quiet time.

And after trying on four shirts, a dress, two bathing suit tops, and three bathing suit bottoms, what did I come home with?

An electric griddle.


(And thankfully it's sized just right.)

Edited on Wednesday morning: Notice how that box is a little beat up on top? It was the last available. I opened it this morning and one of the plastic pieces is broken. So, friends, wish me the best of luck when I go to a different Kohl's today to hopefully exchange it! I'm glad there's another Kohl's nearby.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hey...I'm two years old!

From day one, Zoodle has generally been a fairly easy kid to take care of. He's usually a decent sleeper, and he is pretty compliant, and while he isn't cheerful 100% of the time, he tends to be a happy kid.

But about a week after his birthday, he must have woken up and suddenly said, "Hey...I'm two years old! I'd better start acting like it!"

Suddenly my little sweetie pie is exerting his independence.

"I do it!!!"
he cries, as he tries to open a string cheese package that is definitely not meant to be opened by two-year-old hands.

"I want mommyyyyyy!"
he wails as he tries to open his bedroom door, having climbed from his big boy bed at bedtime.

"I want daddyyyyy!"
he insists when Mommy holds him.

"I want Grammyyyyy!" he begs at random times.

And "Ah gan in iwamah go!" he says, over and over and over. Or he says something like that, and your guess on the translation is as good as mine.

I suppose I was silly to think it would always be smooth sailing...but some days I just wish my 24 1/2-month-old would be replaced in the night by his 23-month-old self. Of course, to get to the point that I have a potty trained child who can dress himself, I guess we have to make it through this age.

Thankfully, he entertains me with what he says; he impresses me with the skills he gains; and he still has a frequent smile that melts my mommy heart.

I guess that means he's a pretty awesome kid after all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Micro: Growing vocabulary

Our Schnauzer, Hammer, has the typical Schnauzer tail--cropped short and stubby. Zoodle is proud of his anatomy vocabulary and showed off to us a bit yesterday.

Pointing at Hammer's tail, Zoodle happily proclaimed, "A penis!!"

I guess we have a bit more teaching to do....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's travelogue blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

Four-year-old conversation: smile-inducing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Running...what's next?

"So," more than one person has asked me, "After your 10K, what's next? A half marathon?"

That's a good question.

The thought of running--actually running--13.1 miles, intrigues me. What a cool accomplishment that would be! At this point I have no interest in ever doing a full marathon (26.2 miles), but a half? Maybe.

I'm not ready to commit to it, though. I certainly don't need to train for a half marathon to be fit, so this decision comes down to whether or not I want the challenge--and whether or not my body responds well to the pressure.

So here's my plan (subject to change!):
  • Keep running, 3-4 times a week.
  • One run per week will be "interval training" (with some shorter, faster runs interspersed with slow jogging and/or walking.) Interval training helps with speed.
  • At least one run per week will be a long run, up to 10% longer than the previous week's long run. I'll start with 58 minutes (10% longer than the 53 minute run I did a few days before the 10K.)
  • The remaining 1-2 runs will be flexible. Likely many of them will be 30-minute runs.
  • I'll see how I'm doing with the long runs, and evaluate how I feel, physically and mentally, as the runs get longer. I can then decide whether or not I want to keep working to get into the right physical condition to run a half marathon (which would probably take me about two and a half hours--that's a long time to keep running!)
There are half marathons in my metropolitan area in January, February, and March--and one a couple of hours away in November. So I have plenty of time to decide whether or not to make this my goal, and to decide which race I want to run if I do go that direction.

I'm nervous about the heat here in the summer, and I'll probably join a nearby rec center (just $25 a month) when it gets warmer, so that I can have treadmill access on particularly gross mornings!

According to this post at Eternal Lizdom, after six months of regular exercise I'll be in the "Maintenance" phase. April 28 will be my six month-iversary of running, and I want to make sure that I keep challenging myself, so that I can be motivated enough to stay in that Maintenance phase for a long time!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Knock knock. Ding dong!

My bit of deep wisdom for the day...

Requiring commenters on your blog to complete word verification and go through comment moderation, is like requiring someone to ring your doorbell and knock before you decide if you'll let them in.

I know, it's not really a big deal. Just an annoyance.

If you like to moderate comments, that's fine. Honestly, I don't like having to moderate, so when I get spam, I just delete it. If you do moderate, you really don't need word verification.

I got spam with word verification, so I turned it off. If word verification works for you, keep it--but if you use Blogger, you might consider not using "embedded comments" with word verification. The embedded comment form makes the word verification process tedious, since the comment form has to load twice--once to enter the comment, once to enter the gibberish word.

Easy commenting--it's a beautiful, freeing thing! Peace, love, and simple blog commenting! Come together in sweet unity! Let's hold hands and sing together, to the tune of "Kum Bah Yah"--"Comment here, my friends. Comment here." Comment FREEDOM!

(Why do I suddenly feel the urge to burn my bra?)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I may not survive her teenage years

The Engineer, Chickie, and Zoodle came to the three-mile marker Sunday to cheer me on (and, yes, to take that fantastic photo.)

Sunday evening, I asked, "Chickie, what was your favorite part of coming to see the race?"

She responded, "The hot men."

Um...I think her answer begs an explanation. Earlier in the afternoon, Chickie had asked why some of the runners didn't have shirts on. I clarified that she meant male runners (she did--whew), and explained that sometimes men get hot and take their shirts off.

So when she said, "hot men," she didn't mean "hot" in the Paris Hilton sense ("Ooh, that's hot"); she just meant her favorite part of the race was seeing the men who had taken off their shirts.

Uh...this explanation isn't really helping her cause, is it?

When The Engineer asked her to clarify, Chickie simply stated, "Well, Daddy, I just like seeing the men with their shirts off."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Her teenage years are going to be an adventure.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Workable mommy friendships

The kids and I headed to the library yesterday morning, and we'd been there awhile when we had the pleasant surprise of seeing my friend K walk in with her three kids (who are all close in age to Chickie and Zoodle.)

We ended up all deciding to go to McDonald's for lunch. It was a madhouse (we'd forgotten school was out for the day), but we still had a great time. Somehow in between the hassles of feeding five kids (and ourselves), making sure little ones didn't wander off, dealing with potty times and diaper changing, and supervising time on the playscape, K and I managed to have some meaningful conversation.

She brought up how hard it can be for a busy mom to keep up relationships outside her family. (We're both lucky enough to have families that we like--we want most of our time to be spent with them!) We both agreed--we're in a season of our lives that just makes it hard to spend a lot of time with friends. And that's okay. The best type of friendship for a busy mom with young children to have is a low-maintenance friendship--one that can make the best of whatever time is spent together.

Now, I'll admit at times I've used the "low-maintenance friendship" thing as an excuse to be a hermit. That's not what I want. My girlfriends are important to me! But my most rewarding friendships are the ones in which...
  • Expectations are reasonable.
  • Playdates can be canceled at the last minute due to sick kids or frazzled mommies, and neither party takes it personally.
  • Phone calls can be interrupted a dozen times by the kids, and that's understood.
  • We make a point to get together even if it's very occasionally.
  • We both enjoy the time we do spend together, and we try not to feel guilty that we don't see each other more often.
I want to keep prioritizing my friendships in ways that work for my life--from hectic playdates, to occasional cups of coffee without kids. And when I'm given a running into a friend on a day that both of us have time for an impromptu trip to McDonald's--I want to happily take that gift, like I did yesterday. (Thanks, K!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Micro: I did it--my first 10K!


I did my first 10K, and it was fun!

I mean, it wasn't all fun. It was particularly hard at the end. But it went great--better than I expected it to. I ran the whole way, and I averaged 10:55 a mile. (If you'd like to read more details from the race, check out my running blog.)

Ready for the cheesiest race picture ever?

Disclaimer: This blogger is not responsible for any burning of the retina that may result from readers looking directly at this blogger's bright white legs.


Meeting this goal felt so amazing, and this is a day I'll always remember. I had no idea when I started running that it would be so immensely rewarding to me--not just the changes in my body, but the sense of accomplishment and well-being. It's incredible!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Destination party

"Destination weddings" are popular right now--weddings in the Caribbean, or Hawaii, or other exotic locales.

For kids, "destination parties" are even more of a trend, with birthday parties being celebrated everywhere else but at home. And it's more than just Chuck E. Cheese these days; birthday parties can be held at indoor gyms, indoor bounce houses, and more.

We've always taken the affordable route and had birthday parties at home, but this year for Zoodle's (belated) birthday party, we branched out. There's a fairly new frozen yogurt shop in our area that is really fun. All the yogurt and toppings are self-serve, and you pay by the ounce. The walls, tables, and chairs are some sort of plexiglass or something, and they provide dry erase markers so kids can write all over the restaurant! And...they have a party room.

So here it is, Zoodle's first "destination party"!

Eating pizza. (The yogurt shop let us bring in our own food.)

Candle blowing success!

A close-up of the cake I made, which has Caillou on it. Caillou is a PBS cartoon character that Zoodle loves.

And of course, the best part--presents!

One of my favorite aspects of a "destination party"? Coming home and NOT having to clean up the place! Instead, we came home and bagged up a bunch of seldom-used toys to Freecycle, so that all Zoodle's new stuff wouldn't just make our clutter worse!

We won't do "destination parties" every year, but it was a fun treat for all of us this year.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's travelogue blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

I love wearing this name tag!


(Thanks for making it, Chickie!)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Lemon-Strawberry Bars

If you follow me on Twitter, you were confronted with this Tweet on Tuesday:

All right, peeps. I got 4 pounds of strawberries at Costco ($4.99!) and I need some RECIPES....

I also made an appeal on my personal Facebook page, and between my Tweeps and my Facebook friends, I got a lot of great ideas!

But one idea was just an adjustment of something I'd already planned to make: Lemon Bars became Lemon-Strawberry Bars.


I've had the ingredients for lemon bars for a few weeks. I'd seen Tricia Stevens' recipe for "Luscious Lemon Bars" in the March 2010 issue of Southern Living, and, knowing The Engineer likes lemon bars, I decided I'd better make them. I'd never made lemon bars before.

Tuesday night I knew I needed to use the lemons before they went bad, but I also wanted to use the strawberries, and I figured you can't lose by combining the tartness of citrus with the sweetness of berries, right? So I made these lemon bars.

The recipe below is pretty much the same as the one in Southern Living except the addition of strawberries. I will tell you, while these are very yummy, they are also very rich and very sweet. So I think they'd be perfect as tiny, bite-sized squares--a dainty little dessert that would go very nicely with a strong cup of coffee.


Lemon-Strawberry Bars
Modified from Southern Living

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups diced strawberries (about 10 medium berries)
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir together 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and cut in butter using pastry blender or fork, until crumbly. Or, complete this step using a food processor--"On" to mix the flour and sugar, and "Pulse" to cut in the butter.
3. Press mixture into bottom of 13- x 9-inch ungreased pan.
4. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
5. While crust is baking, whisk eggs (using hand whisk or whisk attachment on mixer) until smooth.
6. Whisk in granulated sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
7. Evenly sprinkle with baking powder and mix it in well, and then mix in 1/4 cup flour.
8. Gently fold in strawberries.
9. Poor filling over hot crust.
10. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until filling is set.
11. Let cool in pan on a wire rack until completely cool.
12. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and cut into "normal"-sized bars or bite-sized bits.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Four eyes

I wear contact lenses almost all the time--I prefer them to my glasses for various reasons. But this week I've spent a few days in glasses thanks to a stye on my eyelid. I've never had one before, and apparently they're kind of like eyelid pimples. (I just crossed into the realm of too much information, didn't I?)

Anyway--I'm glad that I do have glasses I like, so I'm okay with wearing them every so often.


And I've realized glasses do offer me certain benefits. What better way to look like a thoughtful intellectual?


And if I want, I can rip them off like the sexy secretary in the movies.


(I know, I know..."eyelid pimple" sorta nullifies the whole "sexy" concept.)

And I think glasses can also lend an air of severity, useful when Mean Mommy needs to step in.


As I write this on Wednesday, my eye is mostly better, so I'll be retiring my glasses again soon. But they'll certainly be useful again. I was wearing them several months ago when a friend told me I look scholarly. "My scholarly look is remarkably similar to my allergy-eyes look," I informed him.

Yep, whether I want to look smart or just want to combat red eye, sometimes having four eyes comes in handy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I'm a cheater. Instead of writing a blog post today, I'm sending you over to Show My Face, where Call Me Cate let me write a guest post for her while she's in Europe. (Yes, readers, I'm jealous too!)

So hop on over and read C. Beth Tries to Change My Mind. It's a post about sci-fi. Because sci-fi rocks. Even though Cate doesn't realize it yet.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Daddy-daughter date

When I was a little kid, my dad would do weekly "dates" with me. For a specified time (maybe 30 minutes or an hour?) we'd make paperdolls or write and illustrate a book of silly poetry. Very occasionally we'd get ice cream. It's a precious memory!

So I was excited when The Engineer came home early from work yesterday to take Chickie on a date to the movies. I recently saw How to Tame Your Dragon with Little Sis, and I loved it. I knew Chickie probably would too.

I have a great relationship with my dad, and I want Chickie and The Engineer to build the same paperdoll or movie at a time!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Micro: Delayed gratification? Ha!

Photos taken during the indoor egg hunt we set up for the kids yesterday:



Really, who'd want to wait to eat pink marshmallow Peeps and blue malted milk Robin Eggs?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

In one week...

My very first 10K (6.2 mile) race is one week from today! I thought this would be a good time for a quick update on how my running is going.

I'm continuing to learn new things about running. Things like...
  • If you want to lengthen your stride, focus on what your arms are doing. Your legs will mimic your arms.
  • I enjoy running a lot more when I go slowly instead of constantly trying to improve my pace. I imagine that in the long run (no pun intended), enjoying it will be crucial to my motivation.
  • Lined running shorts are made to be worn without underwear. (Hey, these are important things to know!)
My training is going well. I actually thought the race was today, and Tuesday a friend informed me my dates were wrong! Needless to say, I was glad she told me! That gave me an extra week to train, which is great.

Yesterday I ran 49 minutes 17 seconds and went 4.29 miles. Next week will be the first time I've ever run 6.2 miles; I imagine my longest run this week will be a little over four and a half miles.

I actually feel ready. When I pace myself very slowly, I always feel that I could keep going at the ends of my runs. I plan for my longest run this week to be 53 minutes, and the race will probably take me about 15 to 20 minutes longer than that. My goal is to (very slowly) run the entire thing. I think...and hope...that God's given me the strength to do that!

This is the biggest 10K in my state. Last year there were over 15,000 runners. (Yes, that's the correct number of zeroes.) The good news about that is, due to the crazy numbers of people on the road, the pace at the starting line will be very slow for those of us who aren't at the front. (Slow runners like me are definitely not placed at the front!) Starting slowly seems to be crucial to my endurance, and I won't have a choice but to start slowly!

Seven more days.... I'm so excited!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Six Word Saturday!

It's that time again...Six Word Saturday! To find out more about 6WS and to participate, check out Call Me Cate's travelogue blog by clicking the button below.

My words:

My kids are always perfectly behaved.

Ha ha ha ha ha! Just thought I'd throw a late April Fool's joke out there. (After the morning I had with my kids Friday, it's easier to dream an impossible dream--and laugh at myself--than to wallow in frustration!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

April Fool's!

Many times, Chickie has watched an episode of Caillou that's about April Fool's. So she "gets it." I told her it was April Fool's yesterday, and we had fun with it.

I told her it was snowing outside, and when she went to the window..."April Fool's!" I remember my mom playing that same April Fool's joke on me when I was small, and I still remember how very disappointed I was not to see snow on the ground! Thankfully Chickie giggled and took it in stride.

She told me the doorknob had come off the door. I told her there was a big spider on the floor. (It was really the dog's rope toy.) A few minutes later, she told me there was a spider on the floor. It didn't fool me, but in her 4-year-old mind it's all about being funny, not necessarily about really "pulling one over" on someone.

Ro*Tel posted a photo on Twitter of the new product they're launching: Diced Beets & Green Chilies. Check out the funny picture here.

Google named itself "Topeka" for the day...after Topeka, KS recently (in a bid to get some Google business to their city) renamed itself "Google." Read about it here.

And then, of course, there was my afternoon blog post yesterday....

What fun April Fool's jokes did you see, hear, or create?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My kids' real names

As you know, I don't use my kids' real names on this blog. But I've been thinking, and I've decided it's time to start using them. I don't want to live a paranoid, fear-based life. So I thought I'd share with you what their names are, and the stories behind them.

Chickie's Real Name
We decided that The Engineer could name any daughters we had, and I could name any sons. The Engineer's family has a tradition dating way back, that the foods you crave during pregnancy say something meaningful about the child inside you. The Engineer really wanted to honor his ancestors by making our first child's name a tribute to his family history. So we named her Salsa--that's the food I craved most during my first pregnancy.

I love the name--I think it reflects her fiery little personality. But we are realistic--we know that some kids might tease her since the name is a little different! So our nickname for Salsa is Sally.

Zoodle's Real Name
With number two, it was my turn to choose! I really wanted a Biblical name. I've always loved the story of a lame boy in the Old Testament, who was honored by the king. So we named our son after that boy--Mephibosheth.

Of course, we figured if kids will make fun of the name Salsa, they won't even be able to pronounce Mephibosheth! So we shortened it to Sheth. Unfortunately, everyone seems to think we're saying "Seth," and I've often thought I should have just named him that, considering it's a Biblical name too! But I really do like having a son who has a name that none of his classmates will ever have!

So there you go, our kids' real names--you never would have guessed them, right?

Sally, Sheth, and I all wish you a very happy first day of April!


For a very easy meal, I'm liking these Mickey Mouse-shaped chicken nuggets we get at Costco. They have a whole grain breading and are made with white meat. I won't claim that chicken nuggets are healthy, but I think these are probably healthier than most!


Disclaimer: I wasn't compensated in any way for this review. I just like 'em.