Monday, November 22, 2010

Time Savers - Volume 1

Are you tired of looking like you just rolled out of bed? Check out the following article I found on the website (one of my personal favorite sites). Sure, some ideas sound just plain gross and I wouldn't be caught DEAD in yoga pants, but there are lots of helpful hints therein for getting ready to go without going nuts.

Here is the link:

And here is the article:
Moms don't have much time for prettifying before leaving the house. In a 2010 BabyCenter survey, the majority said they spend less time doing their hair, getting dressed, and putting on makeup compared with pre-child days.
Before motherhood, women spent 41 minutes getting themselves ready for the day. After having kids, that number was trimmed to 25 minutes. That's a loss of 16 minutes – and is almost 40 percent less primping time!
Yet moms still want to look put together, whether we're heading to the office or the playground. Here's how BabyCenter moms manage to look good and get out the door quickly.

Plan ahead

"I get everything ready the night before that I possibly can."
"Shower at night after the kids are in bed. In the morning just flat-iron your hair. There's no time for a blow-dry."
"I think about what I'm going to wear ahead of time, like when I'm eating breakfast or lying in bed."
"Choose your clothes the night before, so your tired brain doesn't have to make any decisions in the morning."
"I plan what I'll wear two or three days in advance and put it ready to go on hangers."
"Set your clothes out the night before, along with shoes and accessories. That way if you're running late, you don't have to think about what to wear."


"Make time to at least put some makeup on and never go out in pajamas. Because if you do, it's downhill from there. You'll start to think it's acceptable."
"Always wash your face, wear clean underwear, and put on deodorant."
"Instead of doing your whole makeup routine, stick to a couple of basics that highlight your best features. For me that's just putting on mascara and sometimes blush."
"Get up earlier. I just find it's a lot easier to get myself up and get ready before waking the kids so I have all the time to focus on myself rather than having to multitask."
"No tricks – just hustle!"

Keep it simple

"I use minimal makeup and I let my hair air-dry."
"Wipe very important areas, brush your teeth, put body lotion on, and wear a hat."
"Buy lots of yoga pants and either cut your hair way short or keep it long enough for a ponytail."
"Have three pairs of pants with tops that can go with all of them. Use mineral makeup, no eye shadow, just liner and some mascara."
"Wear more repeat outfits and fewer accessories."
"Keep it simple. A little foundation and mascara goes a long way."
"I wear my nursing tank around the house and just throw a T-shirt over it and add jeans and flip-flops. I'm ready in a flash."
"Good mascara, cute headband, and colored lip balm."
"I skip all makeup and just use a tinted moisturizer. My hairstyle is always straight and fuss-free so I just have to give it a quick brush in the morning."

Take it on the road

"I do my makeup, nails, and accessories on the bus."
"I do my makeup in the car, and only minimally."
"I skip makeup until I get to the office."
"Keep all your important things (like lip gloss and a comb) in your handbag for easy access later."

Rethink things

"I've found I like my hair better when I don't wash it every day! Yay!"
"I put my hair up instead of styling it or straightening it."
"If you pump in the morning, use a hands-free pumping bra. You can do your hair and makeup while you're pumping."

Involve your kids

"I shower with my baby girl, get her ready, and plop her in her baby chair while I throw something cute on."
"I've made my entire upstairs babyproof. My son can crawl around and play wherever while I get ready."
"I put the TV on and let my older kids watch their favorite shows. I bring the baby in his car seat into the bathroom with me while I get ready."

Take shortcuts

"If I know I'm going to be in a rush, I sleep in the clothes I'm going to wear the next day."
"Do everything in the shower – brushing your teeth, washing your face, and shaving. Have everything you need to get ready in the bathroom, like lotion, hair supplies, makeup, and clothes. Getting ready all in the same room saves time."
"Always take breakfast to eat in the car."
"I wipe myself with a washcloth or wipes, lotion my arms and legs, use deodorant, eyeliner, and lipstick, and spritz perfume on my neck and wrists. I keep my hair in braids so I don't have to do it every day."

Get help

"I have my partner watch our son while I get dressed."
"Have your partner, spouse, or friend get ready while you nurse, then hand the baby over when you're finished nursing. They can get the rest of the tasks done while you get ready yourself."

Don't worry

"Remember that everyone looks at your kid and not you."
"Just make do with less and put up with being frumpy unless you decide it's worth sacrificing sleep to try to improve the situation."
"You are a beautiful mother! Who cares if you don't have the trendiest makeup or latest fashions? And remember, a ponytail looks cute on anyone."


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Snack Time Simplified

If you are like me (always short on time, in a hurry and generally overwhelmed), it is very helpful to have an ace up your sleeve between meals and when hunger pangs hit. Here are a few ideas to get you and the kids snacking:

Super-Quick Snacks
Ants on a Log - spread peanut butter on celery and top with raisin "ants".
Cheese and Crackers
Yogurt with Cereal or Granola Clusters
Graham Crackers with Cream Cheese
Raw Veggies and Dip (hummus, bean dip, soft cheese)
Fresh Fruit
Apple (or Pear Slices) - serve with peanut butter, sugar free caramel dip or yogurt
String Cheese or Cheddar Sticks
Sugar-free Pudding Cups
Baked Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Dried Fruit
Granola Bars
Rice Cakes
Toast "Sticks" with Peanut Butter

Make-Ahead Snacks:
Pinwheels - tortilla or other flat bread spread with cream cheese, topped with deli meat/veggies, rolled and sliced
Homemade Trail Mix - combine whole grain cereal with raisins /other dried fruit
Frozen Fruit Juice Popsicles or Grapes
Cucumber Slices
Fruit Salad

Leftovers Anyone?
Tuna or Chicken Salad on Crackers
Meat Loaf "Bites" with Melted Cheddar
Diced Ham and Pineapple
Cold Pizza (I prefer homemade)
Roasted Vegetables
Pasta Dishes
Soups and Stews

Okay. Now I'm hungry (again).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

15 Minutes to Spare

"Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff that life is made of." - Benjamin Franklin

Good 'ol Ben also said: Time is money. To me, time is golden, priceless and fleeting. The most valuable moments are spent with my family but I still have a household to maintain and every evening I find myself wondering where the time went. Some days my Wrinkle in Time (i.e. a fold in the fabric of The Daily Routine) renders me incapable of completing something as simple, yet deceptively elusive, as the task of unloading the dishwasher. Such Wrinkle often occurs after a late breakfast...

"Breakfast time! Crap. Late again"
[Fast Forward] 
Ok. it's 10 am. "Naptime!"
[Fast Forward] 
The kids are awake. "Time for lunch."
[Fast Forward] 
Papa is home..."Enzo, say hello to your Papa (whew-it's about time)."
[Fast Forward] 
Is it 5 o'clock already? Holy COW. I have to figure out what to make for dinner. "Is that clothes still in the dryer?!"

I've compiled a list of things I can do in 15 minutes or less (when I can find the time):

Spot-clean the bathroom
Sweep the kitchen floor
Vacuum a room
Load/unload the dishwasher
Take out the trash
Make the beds
Pick up toys and put them away (several times)
Water plants
Discard junk mail
Sort laundry
Create a shopping list
Clip coupons
Purge the fridge of old food
Prep dinner
Set the table
Clear the table
Make a phone call
Meditate/take a "power" nap-whatever that means
Thumb through a magazine
Read a book
Water the lawn
Groom a pet
Bathe a kid
Play hide-and-seek
Sew a button onto a shirt
Upload photos from a camera/phone
File a bit of paperwork
Check and return e-mail messages
Clean out my purse
Take a shower
Write and send a thank-you note

Keepin' it "real": If I had 8 consecutive, uninterrupted hours of spare time (kid-free), I probably wouldn't do any of the above, except "blog"...and maybe take a nap. When spending time with the my husband and kids, I do my best to make sure we all enjoy every minute of it. After all, they are only young once and time flies.

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." - Michael Altshuler 

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Harvest Pumpkin Soup


1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 small potato, finely cubed
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tbsp. butter
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups chicken broth*
1 tsp dried parsley (or 2 tsp fresh)
1/2 tsp thyme
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
Chives for garnish (optional)


In a 1-quart sauce pan over medium heat, saute the onion, potato and sugar in the butter until onion is transparent and slightly caramelized (about 8 minutes). Add the pumpkin puree, chicken broth*, parsley, thyme and bacon. Stir to combine well, bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm or serve immediately. Before serving, season with salt and pepper, to taste and garnish with a tablespoon or more of the heavy cream spooned onto each individual serving. Garnish with chives (optional).

*More or less broth can be used to adjust the thickness of the soup. The soup can be pureed in a blender or food processor before garnishing for a smoother texture.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Comfy Cozy

Ahhhhh, yes. My favorite time of year is finally here. Autumn has arrived, chock-full of holidays and activities that are near and dear to my heart. My personal favorite is Fall Wardrobe Day. I rummage around the closets looking for where I stashed the dozen or so sweaters I own. They're nothing special, really. Most were acquired either at a discount retailer or thrift store (I am one who needn't worry about potential moth infestations). Out come the hats, scarves, footsie pajamas and jackets for the little ones and warm blankies are stowed in the car. Oh, and yes--I actually do keep gloves in my glove compartment. Isn't that what it's for?

And then there's the food. Comfort foods like meat loaf and mashed potatoes are a favorite at my house. Soups and stews are relatively easy one-pot meals that can be prepared with little fat and lots of vegetables. Aside from all the usual Autumn fare, there's a myriad of recipes that call for pumpkin puree that I'm just dying to experiment with. I gotta get those veggies down their little hatches any way I can! Cooler weather calls for hot cocoa with marshmallows, herbal tea, vanilla lattes, and warm milk spiked with cinnamon and a teeny bit of sugar (if you've never had it, you really ought to give it a try).

Fall is a great season to encourage kids to use their creativity with food decor. They can help frost spooky ghost cookies, construct a haunted gingerbread house, or decorate sugar cookies with candy corn before they are baked. Sure, it's likely to create a huge mess, but it's very entertaining for little ones. Mmmmmm...Don't for get the Candy Apples. One can argue that these candy-coated delights are actually kind of healthy, right? Every year, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom creates a centerpiece using a whole pineapple decorated to resemble a turkey. She fashions a turkey head cut from red felt stuffed with cotton which she then attaches with pins to the fruit. It may sound unusual but it's really awfully cute! Why a pineapple you ask? That's a very good question...

Here is a great recipe just passed on to me by a friend. I have yet to cook it myself, as I just acquired this week and would need to borrow a larger crock pot but ingredients don't lie--it's chock-full of yummy stuff. I can't wait to try it! It is as follows:

Dawn's Potato Soup
In a large crock pot set to "low" add the following, combining well:
6 potatoes, cubed
2 leeks, sliced
2 onions, chopped/sliced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 cups of water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
2 tbsp butter

Cook for four hours on the lowest setting. One hour before serving add one can of evaporated milk
and garnish with chives.
Optional garnishes: bacon bits or minced garlic, chopped ham, whatever is on hand.

Gobble, gobble, gobble...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do You Rememer That Thing Known As "Sleep"?

sleep n. A natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli. -

I faintly recall a time in my life when I could sleep for 12 hour stretches, without so much as a drink of water or a bathroom break. Sometimes I wonder: Did that really happen or did I just dream that I once slept for 12 hours?  It is true, though that at the ripe, old age of 16 I felt the need to stay in bed long after the rooster crowed, was plucked and baked in a pie. Wow. That seems like such a long time ago. I'll let you in on a little secret: As I type it is now 9:40 pm and I really should be in bed. Not a creature is stirring, not even the husband. The kids are asleep by 8(ish) and the baby can snooze for about seven hours at a time. If I were smart I would, too but, given a bit of spare time, I can accomplish a lot. The idea that doing dishes, laundry, checking e-mails or blogging could be accomplished kid-free is all too tempting.

Crap. It's 9:49 already. Soon it will be 10 o'clock and 1.5 hours past my "bedtime". Don't get me wrong-I love to sleep but motherhood changes everything. Day-to-day, minute-by-minute my priorities shift according to what is best, not only for the children, but for the household as a whole. Many times I have griped to my husband (a.k.a.The Innocent Bystander), "You don't understand. I would go and take a nap if this house weren't a total disaster area!! If I don't reorganize the Ziploc container drawer, who will?" Just let it go, he tells me. That is sound advice but easier said than done. Every evening I do as much as I can before bedtime to prepare for the day ahead. The diaper bags are stocked, bottles made, sippy cups filled, coffee maker set, clothing chosen and laid out, the cat's bowl filled. Did I forget anything? Oh--I can shower and wash my hair tonight to save time in the morning and my toenails have been neglected for way too long... Forget it. No time for that now. I feel too tired and overwhelmed at the moment.
It's 10:30 and I wonder where the time went. The muscles that control my eyelids are failing me. Time to shut the P.C. down and finish my story some other time. I must sleep now. Until tomorrow...

Okay! I'M BACK, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready for another day. Seven hours of sleep can do wonders for my spirit. Just like the definition for sleep, I spent quality time resting during which I'm relatively certain my eyes were closed, my body movement decreased (when I wasn't tossing and turning), and I showed little response to external stimuli. The latter I know because my husband tended to our toddler when he woke up fussing and I miraculously slept right through it all. I have been falsely accused of routinely feigning sleep so that he will get up instead of me, which I adamantly deny. Just because I did that once, doesn't mean I do it all the time. So today, with new-found energy, enthusiasm and (hopeless) optimism I create my daily "To-Do" list. Included in the top five after "laundry" and before "vacuuming" I write: TAKE A NAP in all caps and underline it. Twice.
People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.  ~Leo J. Burke

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'M IMPRESSED...Products That "Wow'd" Me

The Magic Eraser:
I am not one to recommend nor endorse something I don't like so when I say that I love the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, I really mean it! After the first use, my thought was, "Where have you been all my life?"  I appreciate any cleaning products that make my life easier, are easy on the environment (as well as the people in it) and perform well. My bathroom cleaning routine used to consist of spraying the tub, toilet, sink and counter with a caustic cleanser and letting it sit for a few minutes before tackling the commode first. By the time I got to the tub, I would hope that the cleanser has loosened some of the soap scum so I could step into the tub wearing a Hazmat suit and scrub it off. Not fun. This is a back-breaking job especially considering that I have those stupid shower doors that slide open instead of a shower curtain. I have no idea what those funky Mr. Clean sponges are made of, but they are out-of-this-world effective. A chore that would normally take me 30-45 minutes was complete in only 10! Wow.

Oxy Clean:
I was reluctant to try this product because I doubted it's effectiveness but Billy Mays, may he rest in peace, was right to get all fired up over this one! It works great for all sorts of stains. I was even able to clean my fruit-juice stained cutting board with it. It works wonders on kids clothing and yellowed burp cloths. I've used it for numerous diaper "explosions" with great success.

Penny Pincher Tip: I went with the store-brand versions of both products mentioned and not only was I very pleased with the results but I saved a considerable amount of moola.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Try It...You Might Like it!

Kid: I don't like cauliflower
Me: You know my dinner rule. You don't have to like it, but you have to try it.
Kid: [groans]
Me: Just eat it
Kid: But I hate cauliflower!
Me: How could you know this if you've never actually put the cauliflower in your mouth and chewed it?
Kid: But I have tried it before. Remember?
Me: Wha--? When?
Kid: ...'member that one time at Grandma's house?
Me: No...and since I don't "member" you have to eat it anyway.
Kid: It's not my fault if you forgot!
Me: Ok. New rule: If I can't recall that you've tried it before, you have to eat it again. Would you like some ketchup with that?

My daughter, bless her heart, is an adult now but we both have many fond memories of our battles at the dinner table. Did I mention that I won this one?

Photo courtesy of

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thinking Out of the Bento Box

A Happy Mom = A Happy Family. 
A Hungry Mom + Busy Day - Food = Miserable Mom...and well you can see where this is going. There's nothing that fouls my mood up faster that being hungry and/or unable to obtain nourishment--quickly and I need something that's actually good for me. Daily, often routine tasks seems so much more difficult to accomplish when I'm starving to death. Did you ever notice that people are unbelievably annoying just before you eat (a late) lunch? Well, I discovered a very cute solution.

Having an affinity for all things Asian, I recently splurged and bought a lovely, lacquered bento box online. Love, love, LOVE IT! A bento box is a Japanese lunch box that is compartmentalized and designed to store a variety of foods in one handy-dandy adorable container. Bento boxes are traditionally packed with rice, vegetables and some type of meat or fish but I don't want to limit myself to the standard Asian fare (although it's my favorite). I like taking leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day, so it fits the bill. These boxes are great idea for kids, too. If school-age children help pack their own with good food choices that an adult provides they are more likely to actually eat the stuff and preschoolers can be suckers for a "gimmick". Case in point: My toddler won't touch his egg foo young unless I feed it to him with my chopsticks...interesting.

I'm due back in the office soon, as my maternity leave will be coming to an end (sigh...) and I want to do my best to eat healthy when away from home. I plan to pack (besides leftovers) fresh, raw veggies, fruit, nuts, hummus, cheese, crackers and whatever I will need to get through a 10-hour work day. I'm a busy mom who doesn't need to put any extra strain on her system by eating take-out every day, which can be tempting when you have a whole hour for lunch, lots of restaurants to choose from and boy, do I like take-out! With a belly full of orange chicken or "super nachos" I can achieve nirvana and I am often at my most spiritual while slurping down an extra-large Coke with lots of ice on the way back to my desk. Unfortunately, these kinds of food come back, bite me on the butt and stay there...on my butt.

You've got your work cut out for you, my adorable new bento box. It's time for me to get creative with my lunch so I don't get hungry, bored and run to the nearest taco shop. I'm gonna pack that little sucker so full...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Smarter Larder

larder [ˈlɑːdə]n a room or cupboard, used as a store for food

I love to cook for my family and cannot survive without a well-stocked pantry....well, OK- so I won't shrivel up and die if I run out of tomato paste, but you know what I mean. Lets just say if, for example, one day our refrigerator broke down and everything in it spoiled. What would I do after the initial shock subsided? I could just order a pizza or get Chinese food to go (a great excuse to pig out) but what if takeout was not an option? Since I'm in charge of the kitchen I try to prepare healthy meals whenever possible, using fresh ingredients and avoiding processed foods with preservatives, blah, blah, blah... Sometimes, however I find myself in a real bind or in a hurry to put something on the table. I have found that, with some careful planning, you can squirrel away and stock convenience products that are actually good for you and have a decent shelf life. A few of my favorite places to shop include a couple of nearby natural foods stores and our local farmer's market. We are a busy family with perpetually hungry little monkeys so we do most of our hunting and gathering at a local chain grocer, but hubby and I do our best to choose wisely. Read those labels!

Aside from all the obvious basics like flour, sugar and spices, here is a list of staples I just can't would rather not live without:

Baking mixes (like cornbread or brownie mix)
Beans(the magical fruit)
Bread crumbs, plain
Bottled sauces and vinegars
Fruit, canned (low sugar)
Canned fish
Chicken/Beef/Vegetable Broth
Cream soups
Dried fruit and nuts
Fruit juice
Granola or cereal bars
Instant oatmeal
Instant Potatoes (definitely not like "the real thing", but pretty good)
Nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.)
Oils (olive, canola, peanut)
Other condiments (ketchup, mustard, etc.)
Powdered milk
Condensed Milk
Preserves (naturally sweetened fruit spread)
Pickles, olives, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts and other "goodies"
Pasta sauce (tomato-based or Alfredo)
Soups and stews (in cans or dried)
Soy sauce (a must-have)
Taco shells
Tomatoes, canned (diced, pureed, sauce, and paste)
Tortilla chips
Vegetable shortening
Whole grain, instant rice and rice pilaf mixes
Whole grain pastas
Whole grain crackers

Oh, and CHOCOLATE, of course:
Powdered cocoa
Unsweetened baking chocolate
"Melting" chocolate (preferably 70% cacao)
Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chocolate syrup

I think that pretty much covers the chocolate department.

As always, I try to avoid buying or storing damaged cans/packaging and check the expiration dates. With the above ingredients I can whip up a great casserole, pasta dish, appetizer, desserts, you name it. One of my favorite treats is a mixture of dried cranberries, dried blueberries, raisins and nuts mixed with melted chocolate and dropped by teaspoon...or tablespoon onto wax paper. I chill them until set. Mmmmm...a delicious treat to impress a guest or to hide for yourself. More Recipes For Busy Moms coming soon!

Lastly: Customize you own list of foods you'd like to store depending on you and your family's preferences, take advantage of sale prices and buy in bulk when it makes sense to. Squirrel away! You'll be glad you did.

Dug: 'Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, "I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead." Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.'
-From Disney-Pixar's "UP" 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An Ode To Chocolate

I reach for you in times of need
Bittersweet, beloved Chocolate
The velvety depths of my cocoa greed
Exceed the size of my wallet
In 70% Cacao bars
So good I must have two
Floating in my chocolate cloud
I dream of Milky Way and Mars
Tipping my cocoa mug to you
My shrieking kids seem half as loud.


Monday, June 28, 2010

When Shaving the Cat is NOT An Option

Our beloved cat, Geronimo is like one of the family and, before the babies arrived, he was the king of our castle. He's grown accustomed to being waited on hand and paw, having the run of the house and sleeping in our bed. The day we set up the baby crib he must have thought, "Great! Another place to sleep" because he wasted no time making himself at home in it. Ick (he spends quite a bit of time gallivanting outdoors and we don't usually know where he's been). He was promptly removed and the crib sheet was laundered.

I gotta hand it to him, though. He's no quitter. He kept jumping into the crib so we started closing the door to the baby's room. Goldilocks soon started testing out the bassinet, activity mat and even on top of my nursing pillow. Hey, hey...wait a minute! What about the baby? Is nothing sacred around here, you filthy animal? One day I was in the kitchen tearing off a piece of aluminum foil from the roll and Geronimo ran out of the room in terror. It turns out he hates the crinkly, metallic sound of the foil. Ehhhhh-xcellent. When the baby's not sleeping I put a sheet of foil in the bassinet and it worked! I've also heard of people using balloons to deter cats from using a flower bed for a toilet...same idea.

If you desire a fur-free home, good luck (unless you own a hairless cat) but here are some helpful suggestions for when the fur starts to fly:

  • Designate a "pet-free" zone and block access to your child's sleeping/nap areas, bedroom, den or wherever you decide is appropriate. Keep others (family members & visitors) informed so they can help keep Fido in check.
  • Groom your pet regularly.
  • Wash bedding as often as possible.
  • Vacuum with a hepa filter. That can help control pet dander and dust.
  • Use a fur-remover for upholstery.*
  • If you have hardwood or tile floors, try to wet-mop whenever you can. This can gather more fuzz than dry-sweeping alone.
  • Be realistic- you may not be able to keep your pet out of every room, all of the time. Trust me, they can be persistent and sneaky.

One Last Thing: Consult with a veterinarian and your child's doctor about your pet's hygiene and potential health problems that may affect you or your baby. I found that WebMD has helpful information for those with moderate to severe pet allergies:

Our four-legged pal may never reclaim his spot on his throne, but at least we can co-exist peacefully. And, although it may seem like a good solution, I promise to never shave him. 


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ready to Stroll

I love my strollers. Baby #1 is an adult now but when she first arrived, I was financially challenged and content just having one to use. Enter baby #2: I announced to my husband that I wanted a jogging stroller to which he replied, "Why? When do you jog? For some reason I can't imagine you'd need one of those." Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence. He's right, though. I'm definitely not the jogging type. I'm a walker-in-training. For baby #2 we forked over some hard-earned cash for a travel system that enabled us to snap the infant car seat into the stroller; the two combined canopies helping to protect the little guy from the elements. Baby loved it, too and slept through the bumpiest of rides. It was perfect!

Enter baby #3. Uh-oh. I can "wear" an infant and push another one on four wheels- no problem but babies get heavy...and heavier. Recently, our family bought us a stroller we could use to accommodate both our new baby and our toddler. THANK YOU!!! We are now grateful to have at our disposal a double stroller, single stroller, umbrella stroller and baby carrier.

I realized early on that a leisurely stroll 'round the block could be hazardous. This was something I took for granted when it was only hubby and I on our four legs (two per person, of course) and we could easily negotiate an uneven sidewalk. With a few safety precautions and preventative measures, it can be fun and stress-free to cruise around with little tykes. All that said, here are a few tips for safe and fun strolling:
  • Choose a stroller that's right for you and your family: Consider how and where you will use it. Are you a "city slicker" or the off-road type? Ideally, it should fit in your vehicle (if applicable) and not be too difficult to maneuver, unless you like a challenge.
  • Plan your route: Have you ever run out of sidewalk? It helps to be familiar with your route to avoid having to push the stroller in the street, over rough terrain or through an unexpected detour.
  • Use caution in high-traffic areas and parking lots: Even if you have the right-of-way, don't assume that drivers can see you! Keep a safe distance from the edge of the curb before crossing an intersection and don't "jay-stroll". Wear bright colors or use a flashlight/reflectors if out before sunrise or after dark.
  • Strollers are equipped with safety restraints and brakes...USE THEM: Always have your child properly seated and restrained. Apply the brakes when stopping even for a short period of time, especially on a hill. Stay close to your child(ren) and don't rely solely on the brakes...hold on to the stroller. Check with your child's doctor before jogging with them.
  • Don't load-up like a pack mule: Try to use the bottom storage basket/net whenever possible and avoid hanging heavy items from the handles or sides of the stroller, this can cause the stroller to tip.
  • Make sure you know where 'Thumkin" is: Check that your child's hands and fingers are clear of any moving parts when folding or unfolding the stroller or canopy.
  • Sun Protection: A canopy can't always cover every baby part. Use sunscreen. Hats and sunglasses (some kids will tolerate these) are good, too. 
  So there you have it...that's how we roll.

In the film  "Away We Go" Maggie Gyllenhaal's character "LN", who has an alternative approach to child rearing, is presented with a baby stroller (an unwelcome gift) and asks,"Why would I want to push my child away from me?"

Oh, and, um...I never did get that jogging stroller. 


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reducing Our Carbon Butt Prints

Diaper wipes, baby wipes, wet-wipes, "wipies" whatever you call 'em they sure come in handy, don't they? So much so that, for a while now, manufacturers of these products have been marketing them toward adults for every-day use as well. I've heard of many, many uses; everything from automotive to zoological. Their use extends beyond the diapering stage. Bicyclists use them, athletes, use them, even Brad Pitt admittedly uses them....for himself. According to his co-star, Eli Roth, "...after a scene, Brad had to get next to me for a close-up shot, and he said, 'Damn, you're ripe,'  I said, 'I didn’t have time to shower.' He said, 'Baby wipes, man, baby wipes.' " Way to go, Brad!

I like the pop-up dispensers and keep one in each room; they're used most often at my house for changing diapers and cleaning dirty little faces but they are also great for me. My motto is: if it's safe enough for baby's bum it's safe enough for my face...or the cat. I often use a wipe to remove my war paint after a day in the trenches and our cat likes to sleep on our bed after rolling around in the dirt so I use them on him as well, which he detests.

We go through a lot of wipes on a regular basis. I'm not too pleased with the type I am using now and am ready for a change. I want to help my kids reduce they're carbon butt-prints but I like the convenience-factor so I did a bit of research and here is what I found:

Seventh Generation ( offers wipes that are hypoallergenic, whitened without chemicals containing chlorine, unscented and alcohol free.

To go a step further into eco-friendly territory, Elements Naturals ( makes wipes from " fiber created from 100% annually renewable plant resources..." that are 100% natural, biodegradable and even compostable. Imagine that! Every little bit helps.

I have yet to try and am not endorsing either of the products/websites mentioned, they just looked interesting. Check them out for yourself and let me know what you think. I also plan to check our local "natural" market soon. Happy wiping!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Can't Remember SQUAT

Move over, preggo-brain! Here comes mommy-memory or, rather, lack thereof. There are other fun terms I like to use to label my forgetfulness: a short-circuit, brain fart, whoopsie, doo-doo for brains, Elvis has left the building, the lights are on and no one's home, etc. Some days I feel like I can't remember SQUAT and I wonder why my mind seems to misfire. What could be the cause? Could the culprit be lack of sleep, poor diet, not enough water, aging, stress or all of the aforementioned?

I have yet (yet) to do something awful like forget one of the kids at home and drive away but nevertheless, I worry. I have a lot more on my mind these days. I have to think of other people's needs besides my own which, after 18 years of parenting, I'm still growing accustomed to. To date, one of my "dependents" is an infant and another is still relatively small and helpless. I have two diaper bags, two car seats, and two schedules*, well...sort of (see asterick, below). What if I forget something really important? Where the heck did I leave my wallet? Does someone have an appointment today? Has anyone seen my cell phone? Did I just feed the neighbor's cat instead of ours? There's a lot to be done daily and even more to remember.

If you feel like you have one cookie short of a baker's dozen, here is what can help:
  • Keep running lists of what you need to buy and what you need to do.
  • Try to prepare what you will need for the next day. 
  • Keep diaper bags, purses, back packs, lunches, wallets, etc. organized and ready to go.,
  • USE A CALENDAR! I can't stress this one enough. Try to use the same one for everything.
  • A cell phone with programmable alarms, an alarm clock or a kitchen timer can come in handy.
  • Keep a bag, box, or basket by the door for things like library books, rented DVD'd, outgoing mail, that blouse you borrowed...anything that needs to find it's way out of the house.
  • Ask for help and accept help whenever possible.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff, you don't have to remember everything-just the real important stuff and for goodness' sake, try not to beat yourself up when you do forget. 

*As for my "two schedules" at least I still have one golden hour after lunch when there is an 80% chance that both boys will be napping and I can rest and prepare for the next round. So as I go back outside to retrieve the coffee cup that I left on the roof of my car, I give myself a pat on the back because today I remembered my vitamins and to take the ground beef out of the freezer. I will survive another day.

"I love it when mothers get so mad they can't remember your name. 'Come here, Roy, er, Rupert, er, Rutabaga... what is your name, boy? And don't lie to me, because you live here, and I'll find out who you are.'" -Bill Cosby

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mom's Super-Secret Magical (Toy) Weapons

I like to hide toys from my children. Not all of the toys, just a few good ones. I use them as my super-secret magical weapons. Some days I can't seem to get a minute to myself or a task accomplished. For such occasions, I keep a stash of tantalizing do-dads in our spare room guaranteed to please, or at least save the cat from another tail-pulling incident. If I'm in dire need of a shower, receive an unexpected phone call or can't seem to physically detach myself from a small person long enough to put the groceries away before the ice cream melts, that's when I strike. I break out one of my "secret weapons". I make a magical toy appear, seemingly out of nowhere and the party is on. This strategy works well for kids of all ages as long as the items are developmental and age-appropriate. Attention spans may vary, of course.

A few good ideas for the younger crowd: New board books, a small set of building blocks, musical instruments and a fun CD, coloring books and washable "oops"-free markers, toys with lights and sound.

For the older kids: Puzzles, simple (read: not messy) arts & craft projects, anything remote-controlled , board games, etc.*

An article on reads: "Redirection and substitution of positive parenting techniques that help children learn appropriate behavior and prevent disruptive behavior, while retaining their sense of exploration and discovery." I couldn't agree more.

I often practice redirection when little man throws a tantrum. I am equally gifted in the art of the "switcheroo": Replacing all the toys from time to time to prevent the dreaded toy boredom. I'm a regular Madame Houdini. However, instead of "Abracadabra" my magic words are, "HEY! Look what I have! It's a new _________" Truth be told, this is successful about 90% of the time but the odds are in our favor, moms. And for my next trick...

*For a more comprehensive list of age-appropriate toys, visit and search "Age Appropriate Toys"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What to Stash in the Mini-Van

If you are opposed to the term "minivan" you can replace it with "car" or "cross-over vehicle".

Things to always keep in your vehicle: Flashlight, blanket, maps (can't always trust a GPS), phone charger, water in a PVC-free container, non-perishable snacks, first aid kit, extra clothing/diapers, napkins/tissues, Fix-A-Flat, sneakers, "girl emergency" items, pen and paper...did I miss anything?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Easy With the Laundry Soap!

A recent article on reads: "...according to the Wall Street Journal, Americans use too much detergent per load. They have come to think that more soap equals cleaner clothes, which is not the case – rather it causes build-up and dingy colors". I have used way too much laundry soap in my lifetime. Yep. I know I have; guilty as charged. In the not-so-distant past, I have probably used more liquid detergent in one week than the Hotel Del Coronado uses in one month. It's weird how it happens. Using the bottle cap, I measure out the minimum recommended amount-according to the bottle label-and pour it into the running water that's filling the machine. Then something strange happens: I pour in just a bit more. Don't sit there and act like YOU'VE never done it!!! However, I am proud to state that I am now a changed woman. I don't need to spend any more on cleaning products than I already do and if it really is true that less detergent is more then I'm sold. So I tried using 1/3 the amount I normally do and guess what? It works! The clothes came out clean! About two months ago we brought home a super tanker of detergent (150 ounces) and I still have more than half of the bottle left. Awesome.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

You Can't Have It All

I did the one thing I have vowed, as a mother, to never, ever do: I left the house yesterday (gulp) under-prepared. What do I mean, exactly? I FORGOT TO PACK A SWEATER FOR ENZO and the meteorologists' predictions were less than accurate! In other words: IT WAS COLD OUTSIDE. I was beating myself up on the inside for not being prepared for this possibility. What's the big deal, you think? You must understand the depths to which my desire runs to have every-possible-thing-I-could possibly-need at hand (or at least in the car) ready at all times. I'm not exactly certain why I choose to obsess about this, of all things, but I am aware that I get this from my mom who was always prepared. Hungry? Got a runny nose? Weather take a sudden turn for the worse? Painful hangnail bothering you? No problem. Super-mom to the rescue. There's cookies in my handbag, tissues in the glove box, two spare sweaters and a rain coat in the trunk and nail clippers on my key chain. Seriously. This is how I grew up. It was comforting, actually but can I pull it off? I try. Believe me...I try. My attempts at perfection often leave me with a sore back from carrying more than I need, wasted time, and misplaced spare sunglasses. Thankfully we were amongst our "familiars" and my sister-in-law came to the rescue with a bigger-boy sweater borrowed from her son. Our newborn, Elliot fared much better. I made sure to stock his diaper bag well enough for various excursions from the beach to the tundra. Snow shoes included. I have been redeemed.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
- Albert Einstein

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