Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Heart Baking Soda

If I were a supermom, my Batmobile equivalent, equipped to handle every disaster, would be baking soda. My husband was impressed today as I introduced him to yet another use of this cheap and effective cleaner. Here are just some of the uses for this non-toxic household essential:

  • Sprinkle it on the rug before vacuuming. Freshens the rug and the vacuum bag!
  • Use as a paste to scour most metal or marble surfaces.
  • If you use enough friction (not pressure!) and brush with baking soda a couple times weekly, you never need toothpaste.
  • An important ingredient in making your own deodorant.
  • Open containers can limit smells and 'flavor contamination' in the fridge and freezer.
  • Keep an open container next to the diaper pail to combat odor.
  • I haven't taken the plunge yet, but I hear from many that it is excellent as a shampoo alternative!
  • Run it through the dispose-all (again, to get rid of smells)
How about you? Any other uses for my favorite tool? Or do you have another superhero must-have?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Zoo Buddies!

Peter and his buddy explore a turtle shell!

It's possible Peter was a bit overwhelmed by the hugs :-)

What a great zoo trip!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gluttony: The Celebrated Sin

Olive Garden's never-ending pasta bowl is back for the next month or so. All-you-can eat salad, soup, bread sticks, and a variety of pasta and sauce combinations. The price is good and I like their food, so that's where we went to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary.

We had planned to each have a bowl of soup, a bowl of pasta, then order one more bowl and take it home for lunch leftovers. My husband succeeded; I only ate half of my first pasta bowl, so brought the rest of that home. He teased me about "failing", but both of us knew he didn't mean it.

Sadly, many Americans (including good friends of ours) would have considered it a failure. After all, I had paid for as much as I could force into my body. I should have tried harder. This was a challenge and if that was my best effort, it was lousy.

Peter's biggest food challenge is keeping
it off his face! (chocolate ice cream goatee)

This is the same mentality that supports hot dog eating contests and "food challenges" sponsored by a variety of restaurants. I've found this mentality more prevalent in males, but it's not exclusively a "guy-thing." There is an attitude that being able to stuff yourself to the point of being uncomfortable for the rest of the evening is somehow an admirable thing.

Some engage in the same behavior, with a slightly different mindset. It's not that you should eat as much as humanly possible, but that you want to. The food tastes so good! You want to get your money's worth! Well, yes, I do appreciate a good value, but not at the expense of being sick.

Why are we OK with this? Even people who wouldn't engage in gluttonous eating often don't object to it. Do people recognize their behavior as gluttonous? If not, how would they define that term?

I've also been thinking about how this compares to the other deadly sins. Do we aspire to be greedy, prideful, or angry? Is envy considered sinful or a good motivator? Is sloth tolerated, even jokingly lauded, as long as you're not seen to be receiving public assistance? (PSA: if you had a subsidized student loan or mortgage, you received government money.) Is lust promoted in our culture as a good thing or just accepted as inevitable?

Finally, to which of my own sins am I turning a blind eye?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tandem Nursing?

For those unfamiliar with the term, tandem nursing refers to breastfeeding two kids of different ages at the same time. Since the first time I heard of it, it hasn't appealed to me in the least. Now, I don't think there is anything wrong with it if a woman wants to, but it just didn't seem like something I would want to do.

Peter, apparently, has different plans. Tonight we were talking again about the baby while he hugged my belly, saying hi. He asked again for the baby to come out, and I replied as usual that the baby would stay in until winter, then when it was born we would bring it home.

"Lala?" "Yes, we can take the baby to the library."
"Ma?" "Yes, we can take the baby to the mall." "Dada." "With Daddy."
"Pway?" "Play?" "Pway." "Pray?" *nods* "Yes, I would love to pray with you and the baby."
*signs 'nurse'* "You want to nurse with the baby?" *nods* "Um, maybe." "Meemee."

I don't plan on nursing through this pregnancy. Currently, he only nurses at night and for less than a minute on each side. I plan to phase that out completely before the third trimester, mostly because it's getting rather uncomfortable. I had figured once he was weaned, he was done. But now? Well, I guess I'll see what he thinks as it gets closer. At any rate, I plan to give it more thought, since it seems like something he wants.

Could be us. Who knows?

Friday, August 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 6): Awesome Moms Club

A friend of mine recently saw a Facebook post about a fun toddler activity - that involved sand. Inside. She posted a comment asking how more experienced moms contained the mess and was immediately chastised. "Hello! Haven't you heard of a vacuum?" Yes, yes I have. We try to use ours at least once a month...

In response to this, we decided to form our own club. It is the Awesome Moms Club, for moms who are all about enriching their youngsters, but not at the price of our own sanity or crazy admission costs. (Not that I think vacuuming = insanity for all people, but it might for me.) So, some things that children of Awesome Moms might learn:

Digging is great fun! It belongs outside. Where dirt and sand occur naturally.

If you go swimming in January, be grateful the high school pool is as warm as it is. We could have taken you to Lake Ontario.

Water play has its place. Outside, sinks, and tubs are all good options. A table in a carpeted room, not so much.

A trip to the mall provides exercise, socialization, and opportunities to practice letters and numbers. And is free. (OK, we're a little spoiled. Our mall has a playground, too.)

Care to join us? What lessons have your kids learned from their Awesome Mom?

Moms Club

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Food Management: What's living in the fridge?

I cleaned out the fridge today. (Why is there no 'd' in refrigerator?) I was inspired partially by The Minimalist Mom and partially by the amount of lint and food residue that has accumulated in the year since I last cleaned it. Food residue I understand, particularly with a small boy around who occasionally pulls things out without warning. But lint?! Very strange.

Look! So clean and organized!

Anyway, it was high time I got that appliance back to keeping only what we wanted kept. We had to empty four containers of Peter's food scraps and a cup of what was probably milk a few months ago. The problem is, we put away his unfinished scraps, figuring he can eat them the next day. But then these itty-bitty containers get pushed to the back, never to be seen again.

New rule: One of us will finish the <2oz. of food left at the end of the night. Better than letting it spoil.

I also caved and finally threw out more than twenty condiment packages: catsup, tartar sauce, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, blue cheese, and lots of Taco Bell hot sauce. We'd had them all nicely contained, but we rarely thought to use them. And neither of us even like blue cheese. Again, maybe it was a waste of food, but a) I have no idea how long most of them have been there and b) we haven't used any in the past few months, at least. It was time to let go.

New rule: Unused condiments will be thrown out if we don't like them or dated with a marker if we intend to use them. Anything still there after a month has to go.

Finally, I threw out the maraschino cherries and the chocolate frosting. Both of these were also of indeterminate age. I don't actually remember why we have the cherries; perhaps we bought them for some ice cream social. The chocolate frosting was left over from my mom frosting a cake at our house. I glibly assured her we would use it. But it's been there a LONG time, neglected.

New rule: Don't buy or keep refrigerated food we realistically don't plan on using within a month.

I leave you with an excellent song, "Livin' In The Fridge." There isn't any video to speak of (just the album cover throughout the entire song), but this was preferable to many of the sexually inappropriate videos that I found before this one. :-P (A situation I found odd, since the song isn't remotely about sex.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I did actually go in the ocean, I promise. But then I had a new romance novel on my Nook...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quid Pro Quo Relationships

I don't understand how any woman would be accepting of her boyfriend or husband going to strip clubs. I can see, "I don't want you to go, but I won't forbid you." But I know of two women who profess not to mind in the least that their significant others frequent strip clubs. How does it not bother them that these men are objectifying and lusting after strippers?

(There's also the question, why do these men want to objectify or lust after strippers? But that's a different topic.)

My husband and I were talking about this recently. (He also knows both couples.) His hypothesis was that it might bother them a little, but by raising no objections to strip clubs, these women have a free pass for something they want to do that their husbands don't really like. It's a quid pro quo relationship.

While I'm stereotyping, let's pretend
all the women want to go shopping.

I'm not sure if that's what's happening regarding strip clubs, but I know that's the standard for many of our friends' relationships. "Well, he went to see a movie when my parents came to visit, so he has no right to complain if I go out drinking with my friends on Saturday."

This is such a warped perspective for a relationship that is supposed to be built on love. Love is not selfish. Love wants the best for the other. It's not about keeping score or "getting away with" what we want. Relationships should be built on mutual respect and honesty. Quid pro quo is fine for the business world, but if that's the standard for marriage, it's no wonder so many people characterize marriage as a ball and chain.

My husband and I relax in totally different ways. He likes to spend time with friends, discussing politics, watching movies, or playing board games. I like to have time alone to read a book, just lie in bed, or maybe spend time with one friend. So when we need to unwind, it's not often together. 

But we don't keep track. "Well, your friends were over for three hours on Thursday night, so you have to take Peter for three hours on Sunday." Why not? Because we have different levels of stress at different times. Because it's not a contest. Because each of us want to help the other, so there's no point in keeping track. At any given moment, we try to do what is best for the other, our relationship, and our family. That's love.

Monday, August 20, 2012


We just returned from our vacation tonight, and CatholicMommy was about to post something when she was called away by a very sad little boy, who apparently woke up and forgot where he was. She wanted me to assure you all that she'll resume posting tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Increasing Independence

No big deal, Mom. I can do the big playground by myself.

Friday, August 10, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 5) - Homosexuality, Abortion, and other simple choices

Saw this on Facebook. Frustrated.

The problem with the image above also exists in this image.

Now, I happen to agree with the second image and not with the first. But both of them take an issue that has many facets and is deeply personal and treat it like a favorite color choice. Views on abortion and the morality of homosexuality are not decided by the flip of a coin and will not be changed by Facebook pictures or bumper stickers.

Not to mention that labeling those who adhere to the law of the Hebrew Scriptures as sexist, chauvinistic, judgmental and xenophobic is rather anti-Semitic, don't you think?

It was brought to my attention tonight that "xenophobia" means fear of strangers/foreigners. It's often used incorrectly. "What about if you don't like foreigners, but aren't afraid? You just think you're better? Is there a word for that?" "Hatred." Hm, yes.

I'm not claiming a high ground here. I've definitely gotten to the point where a snarky one-liner is more satisfying than taking the time to think out and explain my position. But just because I'm guilty of treating those with whom I disagree as morons doesn't make it an acceptable way to have dialogue.

If you want to engage in conversation about the arguments made in these images, I'm willing to do that. But doing so in a post called "7 Quick Takes" would be rather ironic, given that I'm complaining about oversimplification. :-)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Laughter and Tears: A lesson from my mom

"You've got to laugh a little, cry a little... that's the glory of love." Billy Hill

The song above, most recently made famous by Bette Middler in Beaches is one of my mom's favorites. And a good teaching song.

I was probably around 10 years old, helping my mom make cookies. I don't remember exactly what went wrong, but I think I spilled the flour and made a mess with the eggs. I was certainly old enough to be more coordinated, but we laughed and cleaned it up and continued with our project. My mom sang that song.

All the ingredients finally contained in the mixing bowl, I turned on the electric beaters. And lost control, nudging the bowl off the counter to shatter on the floor.

Not just any mixing bowl. The flowered one my mom had inherited from her mother, who died before I was born. It was too much. I started to cry.

She didn't scold me, didn't get angry, didn't even cry. She assured me that it was monetarily worthless and certainly not the only object holding memories of her mother. She helped me clean up the third mess of what should have been a quick and easy project, then turned with a small smile and sang again, "You've got to laugh a little, cry a little..."

Thanks, Mom. That's the glory of love.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Driveway Construction

We finally ordered new gravel for our eco-friendly (and weed-friendly...) driveway. Peter helped his daddy spread out the stone piles.

OK, just a little more to do!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

For the little ones who steal your heart

Everyone knows that teachers, coaches, camp counselors and the like are not supposed to have favorites. But anyone who has ever been in that role knows it's impossible to avoid. A poem I wrote about a little girl who used to be in one of my gymnastics classes.

I want to go over there. To the balance beam? No.
Tell me the name, I don't know what you mean.
Over there. (As if this makes it all clear.)
Pick me up, and I will point to where we go.

I can no more leave you there,
 with your arms stretched up to me and your hair in your face,
than I could truly scold you
for the countless mischiefs you get into.

We are not to nickname our students,
but sometimes I slip and call you Monkey
as you scramble on and all over everything.
Do you even know you could get hurt,
or do you just trust that I won't let that happen?

It is a heavy burden, that trust,
and makes light the weight of this little one who,
climbing into my arms,
has climbed, too, into my heart.

Me with another little gymnast
(my cousin, now in middle school!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Family Love

Shane likes to pretend he's the normal one.

He's not.

Rubbing noses :-)