Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Apparently, I have raised my children in to a bloodline of which they were not born. They have recently decided that they are royalty and I, their lowly mother, am their serf. (Or indentured servant, at best.)

Typically, my son has the day shift and my daughter has reign over the nights. This means that they are both well rested to get the most out of my day. I, on the other hand, flirt with the ability to function most days.

However, in the land of serfdom, I try to remember that these days will end. Perhaps in a royal wedding. Perhaps in a bloddy revolt. Either way, I plan to pay my debts to my earn my freedom.

I serve at the pleasure of the King, uh, I mean, my kids.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

“Wash the plate not because it’s dirty nor because you’re told to wash it, but because you love the person who’ll use it next.”

– Mother Teresa

Monday, October 27, 2008
After spending a hunk of the morning with 2 gals decontaminating the playgroup toys against the Hand, Foot, and Mouth plague that is running rampant here, I thought it might be useful to have a quick brief on how to contain illness in the jet setting preschool populus.

In short, you can't! But it's always fun trying....your options are:

1. Have an argument about washing hands at least 6 times a day
2. Have an argument about not putting the aforementioned hands in the mouth at least 6 times a day
3. Have an argument about taking Tylenol 6 times a day when the previously mentioned options don't work.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Nothing newsworthy to report really. Just didn't want anyone to get worried...yeah, right. Stop snickering.

Still alive. (I think I'm glad for that.) Still have a headache. Which reminds me...still have 2 kids. (They don't have headaches.)

Still don't know my place. (Probably glad for that, too.) Makes it easier when I get in trouble which would probably happen less if I knew my place. When I find it, I'll let you know. Probably has something to do with that pesky job description.

Did I tell you...I'm thinking of hiring a life coach? (Since they don't really make clones of the right things yet.)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The dishwasher is huge problem in our house. It works great, but for some reason we produce so many dishes and cups and glasses and utensils that running it once a day just doesn't cut it.

As I've never really had this problem before, I think it has something to do with the fact that we don't have garbage disposals here so when a meal is finished the trash can has to have enough room in it for any waste. If not, the trash has to go out first. If the kids are around, that may have to wait until I can safely take the bag to the chute. (I'm still not that excited about leaving my kids alone in the apartment even for the two minutes it would take to do this job. I'm panicky that way.)

Anyway, the bottom line is I always have a massive stack of plates, etc, waiting to be washed. I feel like I load and unload the dishwasher at least twice a day and still have plates to clean.

A few weeks ago I was talking to another mother (of 3, including twins) who happens to have an immaculate house. It is truly perfect! She was telling me that her oldest daughter is responsible for taking care of the dishes after dinner and that, to make this job easier for her, they routinely use paper plates.

I have to admit I was shocked. What about the environment? What about manners? What about simple common decency? I'm from a "proper plates" kind of family. This was not an easy idea to absorb.

Turns out I'm a snob when it comes to plates. I think my husband already knew that, but I wasn't ready to admit it. If I bring home take-out, mine has to go on a plate. I will not eat it out of the container. My husband, on the other hand, has no qualms.

Well, to make a short story even longer, the past few months have been especially hard with our hefty work schedules and taking care of the kids. My household management has hit an all time low and I was desperate for anything that would help me catch-up.

That's when I recalled my friend's method of plate management. So I decided to "suck it up" and give it a try. We bought a stack of disposable plates and bowls. I ran the dishwasher endlessly for an entire day to clean out the pile and start fresh. Then I started using the disposables for breakfasts, lunches, and generally (but not always) for dinner.

Amazingly enough, we are finally on top of the plates problem. It pretty much instantly has gone away and I've been able to turn my attention to more pressing matters, the living room and the general mess piling up on all available surfaces.

I don't foresee using paper plates forever. I just can't. I like the formality of putting a meal that I made on "nice" plates. However, giving myself a break from my own rigidity has really been a breath of fresh air.

Down with plates! Up with people!
Monday, October 20, 2008
When I was pregnant with Emma I was not able to make it back to my hometown for a baby shower and because we move a lot I didn’t know too many people where I lived. A friend solved this problem for me with a really creative surprise baby shower that would work very well from Korea.

She sent an invitation to a surprise “Long Distance” baby shower to my friends and family asking them to send photos of themselves to her with their shower gift prior to the shower. Then, she hosted a small lunch with me and my few local friends and family and included the photos and gifts from my long distance guests. She took photos of me opening the gifts with their photos and sent them to me and the long distance participant.

I really thought this was a nice, meaningful way to help me connect with everyone who was so far away. In the military life, our families and friends are so spread out that we sometimes feel so disconnected from them at the most important times. So, keep this in mind if you have a pregnant military friend. Perhaps you can help make her day, too.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Over the past 2 years I've become a certified expert at dealing with a puking child (even 2 children and 1 parent, me, vomiting simultaneously, while other parent, Robert, was TDY, which was particularly fun). I know that this is not a pleasant topic, but I have developed a process that might be helpful next time your child gets a stomach bug.

One thing I have noticed is that these bugs are pretty short lived. Vomiting tends to occur (in my house anyway) only about 2-3 times with the occasional recurrance the next day.

Unfortunately, there is no good way to predict the first explosion which makes the first clean-up a bit of a challenge. (Any suggestions on that are welcome, however.)

In a crib:
  • Remove clothing while child is in crib so as not to contaminate the rest of the room
  • Remove child and clean-up child
  • Lie child on a towel on the floor with pillow and blanket (if alone) or have partner hold child if you are the designated "cleaner upper"
  • Remove bedding and place in washer with powder, but do not run it yet! This will not be your first trip to the laundry room. No need to waste water!
  • Replace waterproof matress cover
  • Put towel over mattress cover (bring a stack in the room while you are at it)
  • Put crib sheet on top of towel (the towel will help reduce the number of waterproof matress pads you need. Usually, you'll have more sheets on-hand that matress covers.)
  • If there is a pillow, wrap pillow in large towel
  • Return child to bed
  • Place empty landry hamper outside bedroom door.
  • Go to bed, but don't go to sleep. Within about 10-20 minutes you'll be needed for Round 2.
  • When Round 2 comes (and it will), remove clothes and clean-up child, as before
  • Place child on floor in safe location, as before
  • Remove crib sheet and any soiled towels and place them in the empty hamper outside the bedroom door.
  • Place fresh towels on bed and pillow and put on a fresh crib sheet.
  • Return child to crib (probably with drink)
  • Take hamper of soiled linens to washer and this time you can probably safely run the machine. You don't want to leave the nasty items too long and you'll probably have to wash everything at least twice.
  • Return hamper to outside bedroom door for Round 3.
  • Got to bed, sleep lightly until 5:45 when you will finally pass out exahausted only to be wakened at 6:05 by your suddenly healthy little one who is raring to go.

In a bed:

This process is similar than in a crib, but requires more urgency as the potential damage can be more widespread. Be sure to brief your child on what he/she must do it he/she ever feels sick in the night.

The following instructions can be helpful:
  • Call loudly for help-do not try to self-manage the situation
  • Do not stand up (sit only)
  • Do not walk unless absolutely necessary or you have enough warning to make it to the toilet
  • Do not vomit on pillow
  • Do not vomit on floor
  • Do not vomit on favorite lovey or use the Clone Theory of lovey management
  • Do not vomit on cat (or dog) (Learned the hard way, folks!)
Your responsibilities are:
  • Respond immediately and with haste
  • Be sure to respond to the scene clearly giving instructions that are loud enough to hear (e.g. "Do NOT stand-up" or "Do NOT puke on the cat.")
  • Perform the same procedures required for children in the crib including the use of towels, hampers, washing machine, etc.
I hope this is helpful. I'll be sure to update the blog if I learn any new techniques tonight.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here's one of my favorite recipes. Believe it or not, the kids really love it. Serve with rice and a complimentary veggie. (Still working on my job description...but it's going to be brilliant. Something about soap operas, Dr. Phil, and bonbons.)

Roast Pork with Vinegar and Bay Leaves (Serves 6)

2 tbs butter
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 lbs pork loin
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
½ cup red wine vinegar

Put butter and oil in heavy pan. Medium high heat. When butter foam subsides put meat in fat side down. Brown deeply all over. Turn when necessary (turn heat down a bit if butter starts going dark brown).

Add salt, sprinkling on all sides. Lightly crush peppercorns. Add to pot with bay leaves and vingegar. Scrape browning residues from pot. Do not let vinegar simmer long enough to evaporate. Turn heat to low. Cover pot tightly. Cook turning occasionally, until tender. Add 2-3 tbs water to replenish liquid if necessary.

Transfer to cutting board to settle for a few minutes, Slice 3/8 inch thick. Arrange on platter.

Tip pot. Spoon off most fat and all bay leaves. Add 2 tbs water. Turn to high and scrape residues away from pot while water boils away. Pour juices over pork. Serve.
Monday, October 13, 2008
If you clicked, I think it's time we had a talk. Time for a reality check. I realize I'm about to hop on for a ride on my high horse, but hang with me. Maybe I have a point. Maybe I'll just irritate you more than usual, but I will acknowledge that I'm not perfect at this either.

I was at Toys R Us the other day and ended up wandering my way past a completely empty merchandise wall. Totally, completely, and utterly empty. There was a slightly intense woman standing in front of the racks on her cell phone discussing the Zhu Zhu Pet situation with someone. She was visibly traumatized by the fact that the shelves were completely empty. The anxiety in her voice spoke a thousand words.

Obviously, this is a multi-layer problem. Starting with if you think that purchasing these creepy little simulated rats will make you the hero of the season for the low price of your moral fortitude and your mighty inflated dollar, then you are actually probably right. (Believe me, I know. I have 6 years of chasing the toy dragon and it does make them happy. In fact, sometimes deliriously happy....temporarily.)

The problem is it doesn't make me happy. For many reasons:

  1. I hate losing my spine and selling out to commercial trends. I do and I hate myself even more every time.
  2. My kids don't need another thing. At all. And the toys typically don't come close to the hype and expectation so there is a long way to fall.
  3. I hate to see these obnoxious eBayers sweeping the shelves of merchandise and then reselling it for exorbitant prices. I've witnessed some of the aforementioned profiters actually push little children out of the way so they can have first dibs. They are ruthless and do not deserve my mightyly inflated dollar.
  4. Every time I drive my kids to school and see the lunchroom packed with kids who are just happy to have their tummies filled with the free breakfast the school provides, it makes me feel physically sick. I get to go home. Sometimes, they do not. Zhu Zhu Pets are not on their wish list this season and, if they are, I bet they don't dare to tell anyone.
So, I try to start every discussion of current toy trends with a "I will never buy you that toy unless it is regular price and I have the money" statement. That way the expectations are dashed from the beginning and ultimately, I win. I either get the toy for a reasonable price ($9.99 in the case of Zhu Zhu Pets) or I don't disappoint them because I didn't. In addition, I hope that one day they will realize that although I'm not very good with money and I do buy too many toys, that I have attempted to provide them with a basic financial lesson and hopefully, a moral one as well.

Oh, and, by the way, I am on the lookout for normally priced Zhu Zhus. I'm not crazy, but I'm also not expecting to find them.
Five o'clock Sunday can only be described as the worst hour of the week. This is when your time slowly transitions into someone elses' time. The pace is picking up and your life on someone elses' agenda (school, work, kids, etc.) is about to break loose again.

By now, you'd think I'd have found some solutions for the 5 O'Clock Sunday Blues, but I haven't. It infects our house like the hours after eating bad tuna. Slightly uncomfortable at first, but then, suddenly, an all out war on our senses, our bodies, our minds.

Oddly enough, Monday morning is not so bad. It as though once you'd made it to Monday, Friday is on the radar again and it will all be ok. If I could just get through Sunday, the week would actually be ok.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I don't spank but I'm not 'above it' and I don't judge people that do.

--Lauren N. on "Across the Pond"

In case you don't read all the blogs linked through my page, I just saw this on Lauren's blog and I think it is a great piece of parenting philosophy. The ramifications are endless!
While you are working on your motherhood job description (I really want them folks! I need help!!!!!)...

On a new note, I need recipes!!!!!!! (Brooke, you've inspired me to ask since you're good at posting recipes.)

Since we moved here Emma has put huge dietary limitations on the whole family (not her fault-she's got food allergies). We're so bored with food and if you can help, please do.

Here's the catch. I'm looking for recipes that don't have:
  • Beef
  • Milk/Milk Products
  • Egg Whites (I have "egg replacer" if needed)
  • Soy
  • Wheat (I can use rice flour if substitutes would work)
  • Nuts (No nuts!!! Very dangerous)
  • Shellfish (Also, very dangerous)
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
We eat a lot of:
  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Pork and Ham
  • Fruits (No cherries or strawberries, though)
  • Veggies

We love everything, so if you've got any good ones, please pass them on. Just post them in the comments so everyone else can use them. If your recipe is close to "Emma Safe", post-it. I can usually figure out substitutes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008
I was talking to someone today about the stresses of manging motherhood, spousehood, and jobhood here with the crazy "OPS" tempo we've got. (Yes, I didn't even really have the term "OPS tempo" in my vocabulary until I came here. Also, true with "exercise", "NEO", "DEROS", "Wing", "Squadron" (limited use only), "ROKAF", "DO", "PACAF", "CONUS", "hop", "housing", "SOFA", "MPS", "MPF", "AAFES", "DECA", "DODS", "CDC", "PDE", and many, more.)

Anyway, I here's the questions of the day. Take a minute to write yourself a job description. This should be your ideal job description, not the actual one. What should your job as a stay-at-home mom include?

If it helps, you can write both the ideal and the actual just to identify the areas that are "falling short". Consider where your responsibilities fall as to motherhood, your spouse, household maintenance (laundry, cleaning, cooking, tidying, etc). Also, include what you would prefer to do with your rare spare time in the day compared with how you actually spend this time.

I'm thinking I need to do some rebalancing so I'm try to write my own and I'm hoping yours will help me. Think of this as your community service for today. :0)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I know. I know. I should know better, but I'm not too sharp. Sometimes I just have the judgement of a 3 year old in a toy store combined with a verbal impulse control disorder. I'm going to shamefully recount this story as another lesson learned the hard way. I know it's not so bright, but don't judge. Just absorb so you are not as tacky as me.

When I picked Emma up from her lovely part-time child care provider today, she very politely asked me if I knew Emma has a bruise on her bum. I'm presuming that she noticed it upon lovingly freshening up my daughter's less pleasant end.

I did happen to know that she has a bruise on her tooshie after sitting firmly on a toy in the bath the other day, but instead of responding appropriately, I'm extremely embarassed to say that I joked that it was where I regularly beat her.

Please don't groan. It's a bad habit to try to make light of uncomfortable situations (especially "uncomfortable for me" stuations!). Problem is, I don't really do it well. So, you can see what got me there.

Anyway, I think we left it ok, but now I have to behave because I really don't want anyone to think I'm irresponsible.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Multitasking in my household typically means that nothing gets completely done. Ever. Laundry is half folded. Dishwasher is half unloaded. Bathroom is half clean. Kids are half dressed. Hair is half dry. Meals are half eaten. E-mails are half written. Half must be a magical number in the cosmic schema because it is a recurrent theme at my house.

If I apply this elusive rule of 1/2 to every other aspect of my life, it explains a lot. I get paid 1/2 of what I'm worth for most things. My car usually only has a 1/2 tank of gas. I'm 1/2 way around the world from the place I consider home. I can only remember the names of 1/2 the people I know.

But let's remember one important part of the magic of 1/2....your cup can be 1/2 empty, or, as I need to try to remember to see mine, it can be 1/2 full. The laundry is after all 1/2 folded, the bathroom is 1/2 clean, the kids are 1/2 dressed. And (if you are lucky enough to be in the right half), I remembered your name. Thank you!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Let me just say this has been an extremely trying week. I hope that helps explain the depths of my angst from yesterday and I've been trying to come up with a way to make peace with "my public"...small as you may be....Anna.....

Bottom line: My brain is fried (not like chicken, but like ocre, Blachhhh!!!). So I'm going to have to delve in to some simpler resources to perk myself up. Most of you have seen this.....Anna....and I'm just going to steal it (with a few minor revisions) and hope for better inspiration later.

An 11-Lesson Curriculum For New Parents:

Thinking of Having Kids? Do this 11 step program first!

Lesson 1:
Objective: Prework & Course Preparation

1. Go to the grocery store. (Leave early, arrive late.)
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2:
Objective: Critical topical research

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...

1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.

Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3:
Objective: Physical Conditioning

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...

1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag down gently, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag,until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4:
Objective: Hygiene

Can you stand the mess children make? To find out...

1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5:
Objective: Fashion

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.

1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hangout. Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6:
Objective: Consumer preparedness

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.

1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7:
Objective: Event planning

Go to the local grocery store. (Leave early, arrive late.) Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8:
Objective: Survival techniques and dietary concerns

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half of what's left into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine-month-old baby.

Lesson 9:
Objective: Cultural literacy

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street, Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking "What's Noggin?") Exactly the point.

Lesson 10:
Objective: Trip preparation

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years.

You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11:
Objective: Carrying a conversation

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10.

You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

Phone conversations require an advanced level of training and should not be attempted without a minimum of 5 years of experience.

Recommended Reading:
  • Every book on sleep training on the market
  • "Parenting for Dummies" or "Idiot's Guide to Parenting"-your choice
  • Toy R Us Christmas toy catalog (found in your local newspaper, seasonally, or at a TRU store near you)

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