Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Little Mommies - Review and Giveaway!

For some odd reason, little kids want to be adults. I know, I don't get it either! But, they'll play for hours in their make-believe kitchen, pretend to clean, and they love having a little one of their own to take care of.

In fact, just this morning, Dulce said to me, "Mommy, when I grow up, then I'm going to have someone to take care of."

Then she got sad, thinking about how I wouldn't have any more babies when she and her sister grew up. Meanwhile, I was doing mental cheers. Haha, okay, maybe not.

Something that's been nurturing this desire in my kids, though, is the package we got last week from Mattel!







We got two amazing dolls, marking Milestones. Princess and the Potty and Everyday Moments. While one twin is feeding her baby, the other can help her baby go potty afterward.

They loved the little spoon, and I love that when you flip the food plate in the bowl, it becomes a whole other meal.


And the potty. The glorious, makes-its-own-flush-sound and flips-from-clean-to-dirty potty. This was the main attraction!











My kids love the dolls because they're able to actually take care of them in real ways. I love the dolls because they don't come with a ton of tiny pieces for me to lose, vacuum up and clean. Like the cap on the brunette doll? It stays on. It. Stays. On. Oh, how glorious. Thank you, Mattel.

On the whole, we're really enjoying our Little Mommy dolls here! (So much that the potty is currently in Toy Siberia ... ie: the top of the fridge.)

And the great news is, I get to give a set away! That's right! Sign up here to receive both Everyday Moments and Princess and the Potty! Two dolls, one giveaway, hours of fun!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Guest Post - How to Protect your Kids from Social Networking Sites

Today I have a guest blogger talking about social networking and what parents can do to keep their kids safe.


Social networking has taken over the world and has redefined the way that we interact with the people around the world. It has made it possible to keep in touch with a large number of people at the same time. Social networks have also proved to be a favorite past-time for children who use these websites to play games, answer fun quizzes, and interact with their friends and relatives. However, there is a dark side to social network websites. There are many hoaxes targeted to exploit the naïve mind of the young children. This has considerably increased the job of the parents in terms of supervision of their children. While it is easy to keep an eye on what the children are doing physically, it can prove to be extremely challenging to monitor the online activities of children without being overbearing.

You do not need to take harsh measures like restricting your children to use social networking websites altogether. You can follow the guidelines below to handle this concern in a positive and effective manner.

Discuss privacy with your children

The first and foremost thing that you have to do is to educate your children regarding online privacy. It is a fundamental issue and should be given same importance, like the topics of drugs and sex. You have to be frank with them and tell them about the problems that could arise if they share personal information with unreliable parties.

Try to be involved

There is a significant generation gap when it comes to technology. The younger generation seems to have an inborn affinity to latest technology. They are quick to adopt the latest trend and work hard to stay up to date. However, this can also lead them to adopt unhealthy habits like sharing private information online. The social networking websites have somehow instilled a penchant of narcissism in us. We like to share every detail about us – be it what we are eating, where we are going, what we are doing, which song we are listening to etc. This behavior can be dangerous if your child is not taking care about what information he/she is sharing and to whom this information is visible. You can guide your child by being genuinely interested in their online life. Once you appreciate what they are doing, they are more likely to be more open to you about their activities. However, if you try to control them by strictly monitoring their activities, you are more likely to do more harm than good, because your child would become more secretive in order to avoid trouble.

‘Friend’ your child

This is the best way to be ‘with’ your child on a social network website. Furthermore, it will also instill consciousness in them as they will be aware that all the information that they share will be visible to you. Social network sites may pose some challenges when it comes to protecting your child but if you can take the right steps, you can easily handle it.



Mike is a regular blogger with a strong interst in child development and education. Mike has 2 children, who love the internet, facebook and other social networking sites. Aside from blogging, Mike enjoys playing with his children with their furby toys.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Recipe Monday - Baked Lemon Cod

My husband is Portuguese, and as such, really likes cod in a way I'll never understand. Here's a great recipe for the thick fish!



1 lb cod fish fillet
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
paprika

Directions:

Mix butter and lemon juice.
In another bowl, mix flour, salt and white pepper.
Dip fish into butter mixture; coat fish with flour mixture.
Place fish in ungreased square baking dish
Pour remaining butter mixture over fish; sprinkle with paprika.
Cook uncovered in 350 degree oven until fish flakes easily with fork, 25-30 minutes.





 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Moment of the Week - 115: Carving the Pumpkin

We carved our first pumpkin! (And my first as an adult!)

It's awful but hey, it's the experience that counts, right?

Behold:














 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Preschool Pointers - 11: Talk Less

Problem:

You talk a lot. Sometimes until you're right blue in the face. Because it's obvious your little ones can't hear you, are ignoring you, are simply droning you out. When did you become the teacher from Charlie Brown? You figure if you keep at them, keep talking, explaining, commanding, they'll hear at least one of the ten times you said something.

Solution:

Actually, they heard you the first time. The key is that you expect they hear you. If you act like it's okay that they didn't hear you (or more likely ignored you), they're going to keep doing it. And it won't matter how many times you repeat. You're thinking they didn't hear you. They're thinking, one time, twenty times, it's all the same. All you're doing is stretching their endurance. This is a painful cycle. If your kids are a late three or four already (and neurotypical), they understand basically everything. Don't underestimate them.

Say something. And when they don't do it, (or don't stop doing it), enact a consequence. It sounds rough, and like a lot of work, but they'll get the hint in a few days. I only knew they heard and understood everything I said when one of them easily remembered something I'd mentioned just once and gave up on a few days before. She repeated it back word for word. I was like...oh. I see.

We want to give them chances. We want them to do the right thing. But getting them to do the right thing doesn't equal telling them all about that right thing to do for fifteen minutes straight. They get it. They're just not going to do it. And the more simple you can make this equation for them, the easier it will be for them to make the right choice. They'll have consistent, concrete routines to cling to.

Basically, if you say something once, and they don't do it, and there is no reason why they wouldn't have heard you (because you're standing three feet from them and they're looking at you), then give them a consequence. As you dole it out, you can say because you didn't do xx when I asked, if you like. They'll start to come around, and your vocal chords will get a rest.








 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Romance Novel Thesaurus - Part I

Over on the writing blog, I talk about some rather colorful words and which ones should never be used.

...

As a romance editor and author, I come across many...flavorful words and descriptions of certain body parts, feelings, and sensations.

I thought I'd list a few euphemisms, adjectives and word choices...some good, some not, some just plain hilarious.

So, without further ado, let's get right to the gold, shall we?

READ MORE:



 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Inviting Twins -- Etiquette

With the advent of my kids making friends, comes the individuality of one of them being better friends with one person, while the other is better friends with another.

So what happens if your kid only likes one of mine?

We had a close call yesterday, and before that I had been asked a question about twin invitations, so I thought I'd toss my two cents in, today.

Yesterday, Dulce went to pieces thinking her friend had invited her sister to a party, but not her. The girl would not calm down. I had to hold her for a long time.

Fortunately, it was just a drawing...her friend had been using an irrelevant invitation as scrap paper.

But it's not like this isn't going to come up, and soon. So I'd better batten down the hatches.

Here is what I would say, given my twins intense relationship to one another (more intense perhaps than most twins, as I think many others can separate without dramatically melting into a puddle at this point.)

1) If you are throwing a party, where lots of kids are going, and your child only wants to invite one twin, please, do not invite us. I would so much rather make up some lie to my kids about why we couldn't go or why we weren't invited than have to deal with

A) explaining to one twin why she can't go even though she's invited so that she'll blame her sister (although, to be real, this wouldn't be an issue for us. One twin will not go without the other.)

B) Having both go only to have one ignored because she wasn't really wanted.

C) Trying to separate them in a situation where one gets to go do a fun thing because she's liked more. Yes, I could arrange a super fun playdate for the other one, but firstly, they both would then want to go to both, and secondly, dude, it's not the same.

Okay, so, parties. Either invite them both because you like them, or pass. We're cool with that.


2) If your little darling is besties with only one of my children, and cannot open her heart to inviting them both over to play, please, please ask me first. I don't think it's weird, and I don't think it's mean. People, no matter how small, have friendships and preferences, and I get that my kids aren't a package-deal for everyone (just me...I'm so lucky). If I somehow think I can figure out a way to swing a one-on-one outing, I'll let you know. If I can't, I will be super nice to you, and understanding, but politely decline.

If you come to me first, before having your kid tell only one of my kids, I have some semblance of control over the issue and the outcome is a lot more likely (read .5 percent over 0 percent, at this point in time) to come to fruition. If you leave it to the kids, not only will one of my kids not be able to go, but I will have to deal with hours, and hours, and hours, AND HOURS of cleanup.

The other one simply will not understand. Not yet. We're working on this. I hope to report back to you in a year with entirely different rules, or better yet, no rules at all.

Unfortunately, we're not at that point yet. My four year olds have a sense of competition and justice that rivals the Fantastic Four. They will fight to the death if something is just a hair off, convinced that the other one has it better, is better, is more loved.

I don't know why. Like I said, we work on this every day.

For now, it works best for us if you invite both kids and if you come to me first. It's not a must. It's not an order. Just a request. From one mom suffering from first friendships to another.



 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Guest Post - Keeping Kids Safe in the Home

Well, after yesterday's oversharing, I didn't have it in me for another post (though I have a few I have to write.) Anyway, here's Sam Rose talking about security.

...


No parent ever wants to have to think about the prospect of a home invasion or robbery. Unfortunately,
these are realities that must be taken into consideration – especially when it comes to keeping your kids
safe in the house.

Fortunately, there are lots of different ways you can keep your kids safe and, listed below, are just a
few:

1.) Home Security

Home security systems like the ones offered by Securitychoice are known not only for their sophistication but also their level of user-friendliness. These systems offer 24/7 monitoring. This means that no matter when, day or night, if something has triggered the alarm, the security people won’t be out of the loop.

2.) Family Dog

A dog can make a great addition to any family and it’s statistically proven that a dog can actually help
to reduce the stress and anxiety in a household. Dogs can also make great guardians, but only with the
proper training. If you want to look into a guard dog, it’s best to contact your local police for advice on
professional training.

3.) Escape Plan

You should organize a safe area in the unfortunate event of a home invasion. Typically, the best place
for a safe area is the home of neighbors you can trust. Coordinate with your neighbors and make sure
your children know that they have somewhere safe to go if something happens.

4.) New Locks

Whenever you move into an existing house, you should always make sure that the locks are changed.
You’ll also want to change the locks if the home you are moving into has been around for a while. Locks and mechanisms can weaken over time. Plenty of stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s sell DIY locks that are simple enough to install.

5.) Local Law

If you’re really concerned about keeping your kids safe, you should consult the local law. Make a trip
and bring the kids. If anyone is going to have valuable information about keeping kids safe, it’s them.
They might even have some advice for your children as they go about their day.

While none of these can absolutely guarantee anyone’s safety, by following just a few of these tips,
you’ll be taking the necessary steps toward making your home and your kids just a little bit safer.






 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The War on Women Is Not about Abortion - My Story

Look, I wrote three entries here about the War on Women, and they all sucked. None of them will change anyone's mind. So, here. Have this. It's all I've really got that you haven't seen elsewhere and not cared about.

Here is my story.

In 2008, the economy crashed. I was pregnant with twins. We had just bought a house with 10 percent down-payment. It would cost us more than $235,000 all told.

Two weeks before I had my children, my husband lost his job. We went from a family of two making more than $120,000, to a family of four making $40,000.

We weren't married at the time, so I wasn't on his insurance, which would have been the ridiculously expensive and not-helpful-at-all COBRA anyway. My pregnancy was a pre-existing condition when I had gotten my new job months before, so it wasn't going to cover it. You bet your life I applied for Medicaid, and I will thank God every day that they took me. They saved me.

I had premature twins, and a ten-day hospital stay. A cesarean section. All told, that bill was tens and tens of thousands of dollars. Paid.

Thank you, America. I'm so serious right now. Thank you.



Meanwhile, my husband got in line for unemployment (it was so bad there was a line. A long line. For real.) He couldn't find work. He applied to hundreds of jobs every week in the beginning, then dozens of jobs, then a few jobs.

Not because he was giving up or lazing about.

Because there were no jobs left.

He would check the job boards. No new postings. No. New. Postings.

Medicaid covered the home visits I had to have twice a week for my three-pound children. It covered the girls' health needs for the first two years of their lives, ie: the twenty two months it took my husband to find employment.

I had the option of taking six weeks maternity leave at full pay or three months maternity leave on half pay. My babies weighed three freaking pounds. We had to feed them via tubes attached to our pinkies. I took the three months. And, can I just say, my employer was amazing. That's an amazing maternity leave here in the States. Few are so lucky as I was.

It was still awful. Half of my paycheck each week, combined with the small amount my husband brought in through unemployment, coupled with the massive mortgage that just months ago we could have easily afforded plunged us into poverty and despair with a quickness unmatched by the Flash.

This was supposed to be a joyous time, right? A beautiful time where new life entered our worlds. For me it is marred by stress, disappointment, shame and tears. And I'd look at those gorgeous babies day in and day out and think, what have I done? What have I done? I can't provide for you. I am a failure. We are failures. You deserve so much more.

We went on WIC. Why? Because we couldn't fucking afford food. And it was so amazing to have to stand in the check out line and sign those coupons as everyone else watched me, judging me. There's another one, they thought. There's another freeloader. Probably a single mom, just pulling the strings, using my tax dollars. Mooch.

Well, I wasn't a single mom, but what if I had been? Everyone deserves to eat. Everyone deserves a chance. These welfare queens, you show me one. Because I've never seen one. I'm not saying they don't exist, but I am saying that being a single mom, or being poor, doesn't make you one.

I took a job closer to home. For the Catholic Church. I needed something. Anything. I looked to God. I did not find him there. What I saw there was greed and power struggles. Emotional abuse and meanness. I'm not accusing the Catholic Church of being alone in these things. This is the world. Unfortunately, even religion cannot escape humanity.

I had to pay out of pocket for birth control because Catholics don't believe in birth control. I never faulted them that. I chose to work there, I chose to pay for my own coverage. Because I was sure as hell not bringing any more babies into my world of poverty and desperation. But it did add up. My health services cost me $100 a month that I didn't have. Awesome.

And you could say, well, why didn't you just stop having sex then? Legitimate question. And in my opinion, the legitimate answer is that I didn't want to. But, if you want to get more in depth, how cruel is it to tell two married people that they cannot have intimacy because the economy collapsed? Pretty cruel. And with everything against us, my husband and I were strong and depended on each other throughout. And we deserved the whole package. Just like rich people.

By the way, if I had gotten pregnant on the Church's dime? No maternity leave program. I could apply for unpaid time off through the federally funded FMLA program.

When my husband finally found work, we moved to where the job was. With two kids who needed daycare and a market that would pay me $9 an hour for my ten years of experience, the clear choice was for me to stay at home with them, saving on childcare expenses.

Thank goodness I already had a credit card, since women who choose to stay home with their children usually can't get one these days.

I had no car, no means for making money, nothing left but my family.

And you know what? Little by little, we claimed it back. We paid tens of thousands of dollars into a mortgage at a home where we were no longer living before the banks allowed us to sell it back to them for a fraction of what we paid for it. We were able to do this before we stopped paying our monthly dues, and they foreclosed on us. Obama's policies allowed us that reprieve.

I found ways of making money at home. We were able to keep barely above water during the hard times because Obama's policies extended unemployment benefits time and again when we, personally, were in need.

Many look down on the extensions. Let me tell you something, it wasn't about allowing people to lose motivation for work. Have you ever received unemployment? Trust me, it's not a lifestyle choice people want to make. Extending those benefits was a real-world recognition of the hardships normal citizens were facing when the economy crumbled beneath them through no fault of their own. I will never understand someone who scoffs at those extensions. Those extensions saved us.

You may say, well, thanks for that little narrative, but you've barely touched on the War on Women.

Well, maybe not. I definitely interwove all the democratic policies that helped us. Know why? Because I am a person.

Women. Are. People.

But we struggle more. That $9 an hour I could make? Because I'm a woman. The cost of birth control? Because I'm a woman. In fact, being a woman increases the cost of health care as much as being a smoker does. Great. Because women have total control over their sex.

We need to protect the rights that others have worked hard to achieve for us. This is a real thing. If any one of the programs I used was not in place, I'd have failed. If I had been considered a second-class citizen, I'd have failed. If basic female health care had been denied to me, I'd have failed and my babies would have died.

Women are people.



 



Monday, October 22, 2012

Recipe Monday - Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

This frosting might be one of the best things I've ever made.


Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App


1/2 cup Nutella
5 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tblspn butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar (I used two cups. I don't like my frosting super sweet)

Beat the Nutella, cream cheese and butter together until mix. Add vanilla and confectioner's sugar slowly, beating the whole time.

DONE.




 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Preschool Pointers: 10 - Plan your Snacks

Problem: Your kid wants a bite of cereal, then a bite of peanut butter, then half a string cheese. Sounds like last week's problem, right? Well, there's another half to the solution of wasted food, and whining over snacks.

Solution: Plan your snacks ahead of time. Have them ready for when your kids are typically hungry so that before they can set their mind on a snack like, say, ice cream, they've got good food right in front of them. If you can beat them to the punch, they're less picky. When you lay out these snacks, give a variety. In the afternoons, we try to go for a protein, a fruit, and a carb. Sometimes I'll throw some junk on there for them. Because I'm a rockin' mom. Or whatever, pick your reason. In the mornings, it's more breakfast-based.


Uploaded from the Photobucket Android App

Yeah, that's a half a cinnamon roll on that plate. Come at me. The catch is, if the girls want anything else to eat, they can make all the requests they want. But they have to finish the whole first plate first. No halfsies. No eat the cinnamon roll, then ask for another roll without eating the fruit attached. No getting something else entirely. There's your snack. You've got three things to choose from, and if you eat them all, you get another snack full of wonder and surprise.





 

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