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Friday, August 31, 2012

Cookies and Communication

This morning, my girls were discussing the cookie-making we're going to do this afternoon. Dulce wants to make chocolate chip cookies. Natalina wants to make sprinkled cookies.

We're making peanut butter cookies...because I'm the mom and I don't care what you want, particularly when you want different things, and you are looking forward to yelling about that.

During the course of their lengthy discussion on the merits and faults of all kinds of cookies that we are not making, Dulce had a wonderful idea.

"I know!" she said. "We can put chocolate chips and sprinkles on the peanut butter cookies!"

Indeed we can. Problem solved. Or is it?

I took Dulce to mean that we could put chocolate chips on the cookies she made, and put sprinkles on the cookies Lilly made. Mine, of course, would have sugar on them...mostly because I'm boring.

"Great idea, Dulce!" I replied. "We can do that."

Cue a shriek from Natalina.

There were two problems with this solution as far as she was concerned. The first was that Dulce had thought of it instead of her.

This is not just a childhood problem. How often are we held back in life because someone else came up with a glorious idea we wished we had had? How often, when we hear that person praised for their insight do we bristle, shutting ourselves off from cooperating in something we would have otherwise stood behind? Remember, when someone else does well, it does not mean that we are doing badly.

I have to remind my kids of this all the time. One of us will say to one of them, "Oh, you're so clever!" Or "Oh, you're so funny!"

And my other child, having no filter or subtlety, will say this: "You don't think I'm funny / clever!"

Which obviously isn't true. A good reflection on someone else is not a bad reflection on you.

Sometimes, they'll take it even further.

"You don't love me."

It seems overly dramatic, but it captures a true feeling that we all have, an easy step from the first notion. So that if we first think, "Someone did well, that means I did poorly." We then go to, "I'm not worthy of being praised because I've done poorly." Which can easily turn into, "I'm not worthy of love."

Again, huge over-simplification, but this is real, in subtler form. 

Of course, I always correct my child, saying that she is also funny and clever and of course I love her. The child who received the praise at that particular moment had done something specific that I was praising. What she did. Not what she is.

The second reason Natalina was upset about these cookies was that she didn't want to ruin her sprinkle peanut butter cookies by putting chocolate chips on them.

A misunderstanding.

A simple misunderstanding that elevated into madness because my four year old is too young to take a second to think about what has actually been said versus what she perceived.

This also happens in the adult world quite frequently. My husband laughs at me, saying I have the worst hearing in the world (I, on the other hand, would argue that he's a mumbler), and I'll often mishear things he's said, and repeat ridiculous notions back to him.


"It's a nice, clear night out tonight."

"Why would a deer need light out at night?"

He'll laugh and say, "Yes, that's exactly what I said. Take the thing that would make the least amount of sense, and go ahead and try to make it work."


That's a benign and ridiculous example of something that's much more pervasive in real life. Mainly, that what you hear is most likely not what the other person said.

And if you hear something completely obnoxious, better to question it first, to be sure you are gleaning the right meaning from the speaker, instead of immediately going on the attack. They could be saying something you want to hear, and you've simply missed it through the haze of your own distractions.

Clarify before getting angry. Otherwise, we're all just toddlers throwing tantrums about chocolate chips, when we could have had our sprinkles without the tears.

Communication is so important. We think that because we learned to talk we automatically communicate effectively, but that's not necessarily the case.

I'll try to teach myself what I'm teaching my kids. Be patient, really listen, compromise, use words, speak, be heard, understand, have faith in yourself, take joy in others' accomplishments.

They are all tied together, no matter how much we'd like to tackle them separately.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Open Calls for Romance Publishers

Over on the writing blog, I've listed quite a few open calls from publishers looking for short stories and novellas. It's a great way to start writing if a full-on novel is too daunting a prospect off the bat.

Go get published.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Post - Finding the Perfect Pet

Today I am lucky enough to have a guest post about pets and the family from Petsmart. Something that my family doesn't currently have to deal with. Complete with this crazy picture!



Getting a pet can be an excellent choice for various purposes or situations ranging from getting a companion, giving someone a gift, or teaching your child about being responsible. However, many pet owners find themselves disappointed about the choices that they have made. Make no mistake, though, no pet is disppointing. Every kind of pet has its or special traits. It is the situation that can make handling a pet difficult for some and thus, you need to consider some important things before getting a pet.

The purpose

Many people would instantly go for a dog or a cat when choosing a pet. However, I suggest broadening your options more. If you are looking for a house companion, a cat or a dog may be good, but if you want to teach a 5 year old how to keep a pet, you'd be better off opting for ones that are easier to handle like hamsters, hermit crabs, birds, or fish. You should also keep in mind that some dog and cat breeds are better suited for sedentary lifestyle and some for active lifestyle, so proper research is a must.

The Space

Some people get themselves Saint Bernards or Jack Russell Terriers or Jag-cats just because they think they are cute. However, oversized or hyperactive pets require a huge house or a backyard. Pets that are bored or stressed due to limited space tend to have shorter life spans or destructive habits.

The Budget

In terms of budget, having a pet can be almost as costly as having a kid. No pet is maintenance-free and all require money to be fed, and groomed. Before considering what type of pet you should have or if you should have one in the first place, consider your budget. If you already have a pet, and you realized the financial consideration a little late, then you may want to look for discounted pet stuff prices by using discounts like this petsmart promo code.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

I passed the GRE yesterday. I studied for two days over the weekend. I can't believe I passed.

But I did.

So now I get to go to grad school.

Wait, wait. There's a moral to this story.

So many times, as parents, we feel our entire selves being sucked away by life, adulthood, our responsibilities, the cleaning...dare I say it, the children.

Who are we? What do we stand for? Where do we want to be? We only have so much time on this planet. What are we going to do with it?

And when the answers to those questions don't come, and instead we are faced with five loads of laundry and two squalling children, the weight of it can seem too much.

All of our carefully laid plans fall to the wayside. We get pregnant again, or someone gets laid off, we lose all our money, we never had any money, whatever. It doesn't matter what happens to us, we tend to internalize it and we think, 'this happened because I'm not working hard enough, I didn't plan well enough, I don't think things through, I'm a dick.'

This is such dangerous thinking, and it's almost inevitable. How many times have I felt this myself? I yell at the kids, or I'm too tired to clean the sink, or I'm not making any money even though I'm working my tail off. It's all because I suck, right?


Only not at all.

Be strong. You don't suck. You are amazing. You are doing things that only you can do. Life is not a day. Life is not two months. If you are suffering, if you can't get out of bed, if you feel you've failed yourself and your family, just hang on. Just another day, another week. Hell, just hang on another year. As long as it takes. And don't do it alone. If you are depressed, if you are sick, if you are just frustrated about everything, anything, reach out. We are here, we are all here. Ready and willing to help, to tell you about how wonderful you really are, and how much you will actually accomplish.

Take a chance. When you can, take a break. Look around yourself. You created this. Sure, it's a mess, and it smells like bad milk (okay, that's just me. My kid spilled her milk on the carpet and never told me. I'm still trying to find the damn spot.), but it's yours.

And it will get better.

You have to keep going. When you don't make it as a huge blogger, when you don't make it as a huge novelist, when you don't make it as a huge producer, when you don't make it as world's best parent ever (fill in your own blanks there). You just have to keep going.

Start now, start today. You don't have to *do* anything. You can just look at your surroundings and understand that they exist because of you. And you've done a really good job getting everyone this far.

As parents, the weight of the world is on our shoulders. There's a lot of pressure. You can do it. Just one more hour, minute, second. Every moment that ticks by is another moment you've won.

You've got to believe in yourself. You've made extraordinary children. And there's so much life left.

** Dedicated to several who are having a very hard time right now. I love you.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Preschool Pointers - 3: Wait


You want your child to do something, a developmental milestone you hope for them to reach. But they won't or they can't, and everyone is frustrated and it just isn't going how you'd hoped. Note: Want is the key word here. If you need your child to do something, you'll just have to barrel through.


Wait. I continually jump the gun with my kids. I think they should be ready for something, typically about four months before they actually are. When I try to engage them in said activity the first time, it is a flaming ball of fail. This happened with transitioning to sippy cups, with potty training, with talking, with playing independently, and with preschool. Last year, I tried preschool. They weren't ready, but more importantly, I wasn't ready and I ended up sabotaging the whole thing. So I took them out (we also couldn't afford it.) This year, preschool is free for FL residents. And after three days, the difference between this year and last year couldn't be more defined. They like it, they have fun, and I don't feel like a jerk. Sometimes you think you're ready when  you're not. Sometimes you think you should be ready and you make yourself feel bad. In my experience (for neurotypical kids) you just need to wait a little while.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Growing Up, the Good and Bad

My little girls are in preschool. Both in the 'wow, they're growing up' way, and in the 'they are actually, right now, not in my house' way. Both ways are fantastic.

But, let's talk about growing up. I have a hard time with change and passage of time, and growing up captures both of these fears in its inevitable way. I had more than two years with my kids at home. With nothing but my kids at home. After having worked for the first 18 months of their lives, I was happy to spend this time with them, to get to know them, to guide them, all that sappy stuff.

But, being inundated with them, day in and day out, I had a hard time appreciating them, their phase in life. I was annoyed, touched out, sometimes even snappish. They are a lot. A lot of everything. And I knew better, I really did. But I can't help my nature, and that nature is not very patient. So my impatience definitely hampered some of my time with them. Instead of always growing with them, playing with them, and excusing their age-appropriate behavior, I wished the days by. Enough is enough is too much of this.

But it's time I'll never get back. And I'm thankful for the times when I was able to take a step back and really look at my babies...for who they were at two and three and four. Now that they're gone for three hours a day, we can never go back to the full-time, all-the-time, never-apart years again. This is it. They're in school now for the rest of their lives with me. So, really, those two years weren't so long, were they?

And, of course, my friend is torturing me with sappy songs about kids growing up and not giving a damn about their parents anymore, while the parents remember so poignantly the first years of life.

The love a baby/toddler/preschooler has for her mother is beyond any other love I've ever experienced. It truly is unconditional. My kids love me hard. They love me so hard.

Will that go away with time?

I fear that. I want them to love me like this, like I love them, for all of their lives, with no breaks for angsty teenage years, no breaks as they struggle to figure out who they are apart from me.

So, while I relish that my kids are growing up and this is how it should be, I am also incredibly sad that these years, this love, will also change and grow. I want my cake while eating it. As always.

I love you, girls.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Post - Finding the Right Babysitter for your Family

Today I am lucky enough to have a guest post on finding the right babysitter for your family...something I might soon be needing!


There comes a time when you have a function or even a date with your spouse that requires that your little ones stay at home with a babysitter. Leaving your children in someone else’s care isn’t always easy but you can’t avoid it.

Finding the right babysitter is very important not going for your peace of mind but for your children. Here are some tips when it comes to finding the right care taker:

Your needs: Before you start your search to find a sitter, discuss with your family what your needs and wants are with having a babysitter. Discuss the basics like, how long you would need them to watch your child, the cost, and then other important issues like the babysitters age, background and what he/she can provide for your family. Write them out as if you are going to make a job post online; this will help you really focus on the needs and wants.

Where to find: There are plenty of ways you can find a babysitter, but the most effective would be in a
recommendation form or word of mouth. Speak with your friends and neighbors about their babysitter
recommendations. Chances are if your friend loves her babysitter, you will love the sitter too. You can try
neighborhood posts or online websites but be sure that you do a thorough background check before allowing them in your home with your child.

Interview: Once you have picked a babysitter, invite them over when the children are home for an interview. You want to make sure that you ask all the right questions before you introduce the children. Some questions to consider asking:

How long have you been babysitting?
What references do you have?
Are you certified in first aid and CPR?
How do you discipline children?
What kind of activities would you do with the children?
Are comfortable making dinner and snacks when needed?

Trial run: A great way to find out if the babysitter will work well with your family, have a trial run. Pick a Saturday that you need to run an errand or two and stay close to your home. Have the babysitter come over for an hour or two to watch the kids. Talk to the babysitter and feel them out to see how they felt. Then talk to you kids and see how well they responded to the babysitter.

Extra tips: Some babysitters are hard to book on a Saturday night; especially if they are good babysitters so it’s wise always have a second babysitter on standby. As soon as you find out that you need a babysitter, call them immediately.

Author Byline:

Ken Myers as an Expert Advisor on multiple household help issues to many Organizations and groups, and is a mentor for other “Mom-preneurs” seeking guidance. He is a regular contributor at Go Nannies. You can get in touch with him at


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Words and Phrases

Now that we've hit four, the language is beginning to even out quite a bit. My girls are using complex phrasing and doing their darndest to keep up with the adults when it comes to chit chat. Here are a few funny sayings and pronunciations for your time.

A few widels: Combination a few minutes and a little while, with a 'd' thrown in to anchor the word.

Don't tell me that word: I don't want to hear that.

What kind go outside?: Where are we going today?

After tomorrow?: the future. Any point in the future that's after tomorrow.

Even after tomorrow?: A point in the future farther away than after tomorrow.

I aweady: I already did ______.

Can you think about it?: I'm going to bug the shit out of you until you either say yes or send me to my room.

We will see: I'm accepting your terms and will not bug the shit out of you until you either say yes or send me to my room.

You're not my friend anymore: You've angered me with your unfounded refusal of my completely legitimate request.

You don't love me anymore: The above times 10.

I'm tiword: (I'm tired). I don't want to eat.

Isseem: Ice Cream

Can it be a medium?: Can you hurry up and make a decision?

Down Basket: Can you get the basket off the shelf so I can pick a video?

Viiido: Video

Lywin: Lying

Strawbeddy: Strawberry

LookED out: Look at

Souwedy Canny: Mints (Sour Candy)

They still cannot pronounce rs and use the w instead. They also cannot pronounce sk. They use sl instead.

So, marry is mewwy, and skirt is schlirt.

Kids are awesome.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Recipe Monday - Liz's Chicken Salad

I made this as a light dinner for friends, and it was a big hit! I added a few ingredients to the original recipe, and we had it in tortilla wraps rather than on buns.

3 cups cooked chicken, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup seedless grapes, halved (you can use purple ones, but we love green grapes for this)
2/3 cup slivered almonds (you can toast these but you don't have to)
1/2 cup thinly-sliced celery
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp curry powder
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (doesn't have to be fresh)
1 tsp salt
1 can of pineapple tidbits, or 2 medium sized fresh pineapples, cut into bits

Mix it all together in a big bowl.

I added dried cranberries and pears to this!



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Preschool Pointers: Take the Choices Away


We all know that one of the best tactics to keep a kid happy and on the right track with priorities in place is to offer them a choice as opposed to asking, "what do you want?" or instead of just giving them something and hearing a huge tantrum when they...didn't want to eat that for breakfast, for instance. This way, they made the choice. So they can't complain. Right? Wrong. But that's not even what this post is about.

Giving a choice between two things is fine, the problem comes when the kids don't accept those choices and ask for something else. Seems innocent enough. Oh, you don't want a fruit bar or'd rather a bagel? Okay. But don't let them fool you. This is a trap. After three or four days of this, they start listing ludicrous alter choices, like ice cream and chocolate, and freaking out when you don't give it to them. And if you try to direct them back to their two choices, they're like, "bullshit! (not a direct quote), just yesterday, those two choices meant squat. They're supposed to have meaning now?"

So then you (and by you, I mean I) open up the playing space a bit, give them more than two choices, in an attempt to get them back to your system. Another trap. You'll soon find yourself listing off 20 different kinds of cereal, not once or twice, but dozens of times. Then the kids will ask you to choose for them. Then they'll cray when you choose wrong. (TRAPS EVERYWHERE. Also, my kids are apparently spoiled to hell.)


At this point, or at any of the points before this one, once the choice train gets derailed...take away the choices. No more choices. Not one. Not you can have this or that. No bargaining. In fact, no talking at all. For the past three days, I have given my kids breakfast. Without their input. And the worst consequence has been that they'll mildly ask, why this breakfast? So. Much. Better. than hearing them hem and haw and fight and squabble over whether or not they're having oatmeal or cheerios, seriously. Best thing I ever did. Do I feel bad that I'm not letting them choose? A little. But they don't need that choice. I had ruined the system and we needed to start fresh.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Guest Post - Twins Are Double Everything for Grandparents

Today, I am lucky to have a guest post aimed at parents and grandparents alike, something which I, personally, couldn't write due to lack of experience. I do know that most of the pointers are right on. Especially the separation one. Right now, my twins would never allow themselves to be separated (we're working on it, though.).

Double the pleasure, double the fun. And let’s not sugar coat it, twins can also be double the trouble for grandparents. But with a little help from the parents, the internet and the twins themselves, grandparenting twins can be the best gig ever.

It used to be that twins often “ran in families” and traditional thought was that the rest of us were off the hook. But today’s modern medical technology has created an increase in fertility treatments – resulting in more and more multiple births. So parents and grandparents – get used to it!

First things first. Or who’s who. That is often the first major hurdle for senior aged grandparents when two little bundles of joy enter the family at the same time. One boy and one girl? No problem. But two of each? Depending on how often the grandparents see the twins, it may or may not be hard to tell them apart. Ask the parents for suggestions – because they’ll have started noticing subtle differences from the start. But really? The fun is in spending time with them – and letting their personalities emerge on their own. And if all else fails, there is always the color- coded clothing option – at least while grandma and grandpa have the kids.

Babysitting twins may sound like twice as much work, but look on the bright side – once one child is old enough to do an activity, the other one is too! Here are some tips to make it fun for all.

• Go with the flow. This might sound silly, but seriously, it’s important to throw planning out the window. It’s fine – good even – to come up with a few options of things to do, but sometimes the kids, especially when they come in pairs, have suggestions of their own. And very strong feelings about what it is they want to do.

• Find out how the kids feel about being apart. Some well-meaning grandparents might feel that it would be special to give each child some one-on-one time with grandma or grandpa while the other twin spends time with the other one. This makes perfect sense on paper, but some kids would prefer not to be split up. Just be sure to ask in advance before trying to load them into separate cars and facing a meltdown.

• Times have changed. While the harried parents may welcome advice, they may want to do it their own way – even if it means making a few mistakes. Especially if elder grandparents’ advice is outdated in any way.

• And most of all? Never ever ever treat one twin “better” than the other. It doesn’t matter if that child shares an interest with you or is better behaved or does better in school. Each twin is lovable in their own right for their own unique qualities. Remember that and it will be love at first sight. For both of you.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Today, I am the lucky recipient of the Liebster Blog Award from my friend Liz over at Life in Pint-Sized Form!

I highly recommend this blog! It's different because it's a nanny blog, not a mommy blog. The perspective is fresh and funny.

I'm to say 11 things about myself and gift the award to someone else. So here goes:

1) I'm excited that my kids are starting preschool next week. My house is a wreck, and with them hardly napping anymore, I just can't deep clean it like I need to. I think the socialization will be good for them, too. I think they're definitely ready this year. And I love the school we picked.

2) I'm not going to the gym this week. I took the girls back to the gym daycare after my sitter left town and they got sick immediately. They're almost better, but this is day eight of cold now. So, no gym until I find a new sitter. (I'm including this because it's lolworthy that I think they're not going to be sick all the time when they start school anyway.)

3) I'm an "author" now, in that I have a published novel and another coming out in September. I have a third in edits as we speak.

4) I don't let my kids play with my computer or my phone.

5) I'm reading 1-2-3 Magic, and even though my friend told me not to start using the techniques until I'd read the whole book, I have to. It will take me all year to read it. I get very little time to read things that aren't for work. It seems to be doing well so far, even if I'm doing it half wrong.

6) I think I'm going to go back to school for a master's degree in Mass Communications Health / Science.

7) I hate soda.

8) I have only three actual friends down here.

9) Today is my wedding anniversary!

10) My favorite book of all time is Jane Eyre.

11) I can eat an entire 5 lb. bag of candy in three I try not to do that.


I would like to pass this award on to my friend Jackie, author of Accidentally Mommy. She's a talented writer and an amazing human being!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Submit your Work to the Right Place!

On the writing blog, I'm compiling a list of publisher subsections and open calls for writers who want their work to get read and published. It's important to send to the right places.


If you are submitting your work to publishers, it pays to research the house to see if they have a section that is relevant to you. Here are some examples of themed open calls for authors to check out. There are no deadlines on these.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Party Pointers

A party of errors? Not really. The girls had a great fourth, all things considered.

Here are some things to consider, though, when you throw your own party.

- Party favors come in packs of eight. Not ten. Buy two of everything.

- If you're having your party at the pool, don't let your kid drown. This is a serious statement. My kids know not to go into the pool without their swimmies on. They've never done it before. Someone throws a party hat in the water, though, and mommy's back is turned greeting guests? All bets are off. One wet mommy, a drowned party hat and a safe kid and lots of hugs later, we all survived. Thank God. There is not one scarier thing than having to jump into the pool after your kid who can't swim.

- Pinatas are made of cardboard. It rains in Florida. Do not keep your pinata outside.

- If you do, a pizza box bottom will work as a quick fix. (Thanks, Osvaldo!)

- Stock drinks other than soda. We did juice boxes, which were much more popular than the soda. They are only four, after all.

- If you have a big kid coming, invite a couple more along. We had a few six and seven year olds who were able to play together without getting (too) bored.

- Timing. Some kids are going to have to nap. While an afternoon party (say 2-5) would be the best time for me, it's not for the kids. So we did high noon to about 2:30 p.m., then everyone went home (some to nap!) Last year we did it at 5 p.m. (after nap). Whatever works.

- Keep it moving. Even with a pool, kids are going to get bored and want the next thing quickly. As soon as everyone arrived, we ordered lunch. 20 minutes in the pool for everyone while we waited for it, then time to eat. Right after that, I cleaned a bit and went home to grab the cake, giving the kids another 20 minutes or so to play. Then cake. Then pinata. Then a few more minutes of play time. Then presents. Then home. Bam, bam, bam.

Remember: Most people aren't going to see your mistakes. They're busy having a good time. So relax, if you can!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Recipe Monday - Marble Cake

This is the first cake I've ever made from scratch. It was not hard, and not bad! Of course, it's a marble cake because one girl wanted vanilla and the other chocolate. What can you do? Next week, I'll post the buttercream frosting recipe that cinched it as a good cake.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round pan.
  2. Beat butter and sugar together. Add eggs, beating in one at a time. Add vanilla.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients together. Alternate pouring a bit of the flour mix and a bit of the milk (I used evaporated) and beating until smooth until all ingredients used up.
  4. Pour 1/4 batter in one pan, 1/4 batter in another.
  5. Stir cocoa into the reserved batter. Drop by spoonfuls over top of white batter. Using a knife, swirl the cocoa batter into the white batter to incorporate it in a marble effect.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean.

My complaints were only that it was a teensy bit dry and I really couldn't tell the difference between the chocolate and vanilla bits, other than coloring. Still, I am SUPER impressed for it being my first homemade cake.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Preschool Pointers - 1: The Apology


You're kids throw a fit in public. They scream in that old lady's ear. They bang into that other mom while running from you. They're just generally be bad and uncontrollable. You're embarrassed. Again.


Take them outside (obviously). Calm them down (obviously). Explain to them why certain behavior is not acceptable in certain situations and why other behavior is not acceptable ever (obviously).

Then take them back in, and don't pretend like nothing happened. That's not how real life worked, and at four (because my kids are four now), I expect them to start understanding that their actions have an effect on other people. I make mine apologize, if someone has suffered in some personal way due to their bad behavior. So the old lady and the other mom would get an 'I'm sorry,' from my girls. Does this work to stop the behavior in the future?

No. Not even close. But that's okay. It's not meant to shame them into being good, after all. It's meant to show them that you have to take responsibility for yourself, even when you've flown off the handle. That things you express in anger still count in the real world, even though you were angry at the time. It shows them that after the anger ebbs, the bruises remain.

Better still, usually the people being apologized to are quite gracious. They thank the girls for the apology and tell them they are nice girls, or what have you. This shows that understanding you were wrong and making amends doesn't change what happened but does make a difference to those involved.

So, it's not an immediate fix. It's a slow-working introduction to how to be a human being.


Friday, August 10, 2012

What's in a (Character) Name?

Writing over at Patch of Sky today about naming characters and why names are important.

In real life, you're pretty much stuck with the name you've been given, without choice. But when you write, you have the power to make your character's name fit them. To choose the wrong sounding name could turn readers away, so there is a bit of pressure when it comes to nomenclature.

The most important names belong to the hero and heroine, of course. What do you want to say about those characters?



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Guest Post - Ten Twin Quotes to Remember

Today I am lucky enough to have Debra Johnson writing for me. She is a twin herself, and has collected a few quotes aimed at twins and parents of. I know that over some of our rough spots, I'll shake my head at most of these. But I'll always believe in number one.

There is no need for an explanation; Twins will always remain a unique and fascinating thing. Over the past few years, as I have gotten older, I have found myself keep tracking of any quotes I read that are based on being a twin. I am a twin and find them to be like rare gems that I enjoy discovering and sharing. Pick out your favorite and share them with your twins!

There are two things in life for which we are never truly prepared: twins.
~Josh Billings

My sister and I, you will recollect, were twins, and you know how subtle are the links which bind two souls which are so closely allied.
~Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band

A good neighbor will babysit. A great neighbor will babysit twins.
~Author Unknown

God touched our hearts so deep inside, our special blessing multiplied. 
~Author Unknown

Life is two-riffic with twins.
 ~Author Unknown

You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike.
~Robert Brault

Not double trouble, but twice blessed. 
~Author Unknown

There's two to wash, two to dry;
There's two who argue, two who cry.
There's two to kiss, two to hug;
And best of all, there's two to love!
~Author Unknown

I may be a twin but I'm one of a kind. 
~Author Unknown

We came into the world like brother and brother;
And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another.
~William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors


About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger and editor of nanny babysitter. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: - jdebra84 @


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review - Brave

I think enough time has passed where I can talk about Brave, right? Spoilers below.

Before I say anything, damn at those red curls. Awesome.

Now, there was some tumblr nonsense about how the Queen was abusive toward Merida, but I think that's total bunk. Someone is projecting, truly.

What I saw was an historical (and very fictional) portrayal of life in a kingdom way back when. Yes, princesses were expected to act in a certain way. And it fell to the mothers to train them. So, when the headstrong teenager refuses to listen, the mother is going to get frustrated trying to explain to the girl in any way possible that there are things that need to be done regardless of personal wants and desires. This is something Merida herself comes to understand with time.

And it's not like Merida is a slave. She's sassy, and she's allowed to explore her own creativity. She's given days just to herself where she can expand her own nature and become her own person. But when it's time for her to be responsible, her mother expects her to pull her weight. No harm, no foul.

And while her stunts are funny to audiences, if my kids went directly against my orders out in public like Merida did, and the whole peace structure of the kingdom depended on them not doing that, well, I'd be pissed, too.

When I first saw the movie, I was pretty ticked at Merida, because what the hell at giving your mom a spell-cake, especially when the two of you are so so close to opening up a dialogue. But, she's only a young teenager. I'd probably have done the same thing.

I will say this, though, the next time I take my kids to a movie, I will check to see if HOLY CRAP GIGANTIC SCARY-ASSED BEAR FIGHT is in the reviews. Because wow. I had two little kids in my lap there. Even I was scared!

I also bawled like a baby at the end. Even though I knew what was coming. Even though I knew there would be a happy ending. There I was, in the packed theater, another mom right next to me, and I'm all crying like whoa. I blame not getting out enough.

The highlight of the movie, for me, was when my kid turned to me and said, "Don't worry mom, I would never turn you into a bear."

Meant the world to me. (Of course, it was all lies. She's 'turned me into a bear' several times since the movie.)

Two thumbs up for Brave from this camp.


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Monday, August 6, 2012

Recipe Monday - French Onion Pot Roast

This is even easier than my regular, throw everything in there, pot roast. I didn't have potatoes this time, so I made mash for it to go over.

  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3-4 pound boneless beef chuck roast
  • 1-2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 (10.5oz) can Campbell’s condensed french onion soup
  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour salt and pepper.
  2. Trim any large pieces of fat on the roast and coat with the flour mixture.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet and sear meat over medium high heat. You want a nice brown color on each side of the roast. Add more oil and lower heat if needed.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
Just so we are clear...I did not do any of that. I started here.
  1. Add the carrots and celery to the bottom of the crock pot. Cut into pieces if need to fit in the bottom of your crock pot. (I have an oval crock pot so it wasn’t necessary to cut the celery and carrots.)
  2. Pour the soup into the bottom of the crock pot along with 1/2 can of water.
  3. Place roast in the crock pot on top of the vegetables. Cook on low for 10 hours.
  4. Slice or shred roast removing and big pieces of fat. Serve with some of the juice remaining in the pot or use the juice to make gravy and serve with the roast.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Toddler Tricks - 103: It's Okay to Say Okay


Your kids move slowly and are incredibly easily distracted. You could be taking them to the most fun place on Earth and just before you leave, they'd want to play one more game, or splash in a puddle or run around the car giggling for funsies.

You're not used to this lack of prioritization and it can be annoying. Previously, I marched forward, rushing them into the car, saying no to every stupid (because, seriously, they are stupid) request and time-waster. Let's just get going, I thought. Why, now, would you want to do x, y or z. You had all day. No. No, no, no, no.  Of course, if you say no too often, particularly when they try out their new bartering skills (think, just one more, or just a little), they stop listening to you. Then when you really need it, like, 'no, stop screaming in the grocery store,' you're screwed.


Say yes sometimes. If it's not going to hurt anything, what's the harm? I've found that even if I've already said no, when they come back with a "compromise" (because, really, what kind of compromises do three year olds make? Not good ones.) I won't undermine myself by saying okay. And then I've seen them listen to the rules they set themselves. If they say, just one more time, they do it just one more time. This shows them that I'm listening to them, and not just putting them off (which encourages them to listen to me, too), it shows them how to communicate like adults so that they don't have to get to the screaming, crying, dragging, frustration phase, it shows that that when they do use words, they'll sometimes get what they want, and most importantly, it shows them that you are a reasonable person, so when you do say no, there is a reason. I've found my kids much more willing to listen to my nos, now that I also give them some yeses.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Bissel Steam Cleaner - A Less Than Stellar Review

My carpets are wrecked. The main reason for this being that I have almost four-year-old twins who like markers and playdoh and mess.

 But I had been able to keep up with it for the most part. Until a few weeks ago when my Bissel Steam Cleaner up and stopped working.

Thankfully for me, it still sort of works. It will not disperse its hot soapy water anymore, but it will still suck it up. So, it could be worse.

But did you know that even the Vacuum Repair place won't look at a Bissel? I'm sorry, but why do you say you repair vacuums if you don't? Isn't Bissel a fairly commonplace vacuum cleaner? They wouldn't even look at it for me. At all. Their advice? "Go buy a cleaner that isn't a Bissel. They suck anyway."

Well, first, as my friend Russ says...that's kind of their job. But secondly, whether or not they suck is not my issue. My issue is that I just don't have $300 to throw at a cleaner right now, so can someone please fix my cleaner?

Bissel will. If I pay them. And if I'm going to pay them to fix a crappy cleaner, I'm just going to buy a new one.

But that leaves me in a shady place right now, carpet-wise.

Ever inventive, I've jerry-rigged a half-ass solution.

Let me introduce you to my new steam cleaner.

So, I fill the container that comes with the machine with the appropriate amount of water and soap. Then I transfer the water from the container to this toy watering can (which doesn't sprinkle the way it's supposed to). Then I sprinkle the water on the carpet. I repeat this five times, as quickly as possible, until all the water is on the ground. Then I turn on my useless machine and suck it all up.

It's awful. Too much water gets left on the carpet and the heat factor because nearly nonexistent. But it does work...after a fashion. Just not well.

So, yeah, if you're getting a steam cleaner, don't get a Bissel. And if you do get a Bissel, at least invest in an adult-sized, fully-functioning, watering can.


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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guest Post - 8 Things New Parents Are Scared about When Raising Their Children

Being a new parent is an exhilarating time – one filled with much joy, but also many new worries.

The dreams you had for your baby when he or she was in the womb are now a reality, and it may not be
exactly what you expect. Here are 8 things that many new parents fear about when raising their children
– and how these parents can overcome them!

1. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Some new parents are always anxious about their infant. These are the parents that spend some part of
their night checking to verify if the baby is still breathing or if they have slept longer than usual.

They just brought this new life into the world, and they are terrified about the possibility that he or she
could be taken away from them.

Here’s the good news: SIDS deaths are pretty rare – just one or two for every thousand live births. Even
better, you can take simple steps to keep your baby safe.

First and foremost, put your baby to sleep on his or her back. (Since the “Back to Sleep” campaign was
started in 1994, there has been a 50 percent overall drop in SIDS rates.) Also, keep your baby in the
room with you – but not on your bed, which can be very dangerous. Breastfeeding, using a pacifier
before bed, and keeping your baby away from second-hand smoke have also been shown to reduce risk.

2. Losing Control of your Finances

When a child enters a couple’s life, unexpected expenses arise. Today you’re just buying diapers and
onesies, but before you know it, you’ll be paying for college! The solution is simple… but most of us drag
our feet in doing it: plan ahead.

This means looking at your household budget now to prepare for the future. Look at where your money
is going, and consider ways that you can cut back to reach your long-term goals. Consider setting up a
savings account where you can set aside money specifically for major expenses related to your child,
such as orthodontic work, as well as a college account.

Feeling overwhelmed? Hire the help of a financial planner.

3. Normal Development

You counted ten fingers and ten toes when the baby arrived, but now you’re worried about her physical
and mental development, particularly in comparison to other kids their age.

Every child grows at a slightly different pace, so although it’s easier said than done, don’t compare.
Instead, trust your doctor. They will let you know if there is a cause for concern, so keep up with those
regular appointments and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

4. Proper Eating Habits

Many new moms become very concerned about their ability to breastfeed their new baby. It’s hard to
tell just how much the baby is ingesting at each feeding, and the mom may be concerned that she is not
producing enough.

There are two main ways a mom can tell that the baby is getting enough. First, how many wet and soiled
diapers is he or she producing every day? And second, is the baby growing well? The best thing to do is
to consult a doctor when there is a concern in this area.

What you shouldn’t do is give up on breastfeeding! The benefits are numerous – everything from a
stronger immune system to a higher IQ – and it’s likely you’ll feel more confident about your ability to
feed your baby as you both gain more experience breastfeeding. If you’re still struggling, you can seek
the help of a lactation consultant.

5. Excessive Crying

Babies cry – many of them a lot and often – but this can be a shock to new parents. Instead, they worry
that it’s a sign that they’re a bad parent or there is bigger underlying problem.

Try to remember that crying is normal behavior, and it’s unlikely to harm your baby. If you’re
suffering from a colicky baby, rest assured that it will eventually end – most babies grow out of it by
3 or 4 months. And if you are concerned about your baby’s cries, your doctor is your best source of

6. Not Having a Life

Especially in those first few months, it can seem like you’ll never be able to leave the house again! This
newborn phase will pass, giving you more time alone with your spouse at night.

Many couples also benefit from scheduling a regular date night where they spend time together away
from the baby, allowing them to reconnect. Don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining the
health of your relationship. It’s good for you, your spouse, and your baby! If finding childcare is a
concern, consider finding other couples that have young children as well and swapping babysitting

7. Dropping the Baby

They are such tiny, fragile-looking creatures, so it’s no surprise that this is something that scares many
parents, especially dads. But babies are stronger than they look – just think about all they went through
during birth!

Some dads react to this worry by avoiding handling the baby, but doing this won’t help you overcome
your fear. A good first step is to watch your partner – or another experienced parent – handle a baby.
Then step in with their guidance when you’re ready. Before long, you will be able to start helping out in
other areas – everything from changing a diaper to giving a bath. The more you do, the more confidence
you’ll build.

8. Being a Good Parent

This is probably the number one concern on all new parents’ minds: can you do this? Many new moms
especially worry about this due to the very high standards set for mothers in our society.

The worry probably won’t ever completely leave you, but eventually you’ll feel more comfortable in
your new role – and forgive yourself for any mistakes you make along the way. When feeling doubt,
keep this in mind: billions of people have done this before you!


Tanya Rivka Peque is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia's provider of child care courses.
Tanya is an educational therapist who has been working closely with kids with special needs for about 5
years now.



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