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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Post - Give and Get Back with Charitable Donations

Today a guest post on the spirit of giving.

We all know that warm, fuzzy feeling associated with doing a good deed, but it turns out we can pinpoint the benefits of putting others first. According to the Harvard Business School, a study showed that participants who gave money to someone else experienced more happiness than spending on themselves. These results support a greater belief that altruism, is a common trait of the happiest, healthiest people.
A 1999 study out of the Buck center for Research in Aging showed that high volunteering seniors had a 63 percent lower mortality than non-volunteers, according to Along with altruism's social and health benefits, charitable giving offers a financial benefit. Donors can write off all money donated to charitable funds on their taxes.

Charity Navigator

With so many worthy charities, it's difficult to decide where your money will be best used. Charity Navigator provides some insight into hundreds of charities, rating each organization based on transparency and how much of the funding the charity receives actually helps people. This giving guide also categorizes outstanding charities into top ten lists, including charities worth watching, charities in financial trouble and charities expanding in a hurry.
Visit to bone up on your Charity knowledge. From there, you'll be well-informed to donate to a worthy cause. When you're ready to donate, LifeLock charity information will keep you from falling for common charity scams.

Getting Kids Involved

Volunteering can start at any age. Getting kids in on volunteering and helping out is a great opportunity to teach them the importance of giving back and lending a helping hand. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach noted on that "we all want to raise good kids, and part of doing that is giving them real responsibilities, above and beyond doing the dishes." Have the younger ones (ages 6-10) get involved by helping at food banks or spending time with elderly people, playing games with them like checkers or chess. Boteach says that senior citizens are thrilled to see youngsters, especially if they don't have grandkids of their own.
Teenagers should be allowed to flex their charity muscles by volunteering at local animal or homeless shelters. The holiday season is already here, and places like these can use all the help they can get. From passing out food to taking dogs for walks, the holiday season is the busiest time of year for volunteer work.

Red Cross 

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the American Red Cross is leading relief efforts on the East coast. According to CNN, donations to the disaster relief organization topped for Hurricane Sandy relief topped $130 Million. One of the leading factors of the American Red Cross' success is its wide accessibility. features an easy process to donate funds online, and mobile donors can contribute $10 to relief efforts by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999.
If you're short on time but would like to donate to an effective cause, consider supporting this renowned relief organization.

Volunteer Match

Aspiring volunteers have resources as well. lists opportunities in local communities, providing locations, contacting information and RSVP outlets in one platform. Tech-savvy users will enjoy the Volunteer Match app, which repackages this community platform in an on-the-go format. Aspiring helpers can read reviews from former volunteers to gain greater insight into a project. Volunteer Match also enables participants to invite their friends to participate through Facebook.


Perhaps you see an unrecognized concern that could use some help. Causera enables charity-minded users to start their own fundraising campaign. Causera offers a variety of fundraising products and supporters purchase the selected goods directly from the user's Causera site. This all-in-one fundraising platform takes the hassle out of supporting a little-known cause.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Enter to win more than a hundred books, gift certificates and other prizes! This is a great giveaway (and not just because my books are part of it!)

Fall in Love Giveaway Hop!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Easy and Cheap Natural Remedies for Kids’ Common Injuries

Today I've got some at-home remedies for common kid ailments, courtesy of a guest post.

Kids have a way of hurting themselves. Bug bites. Scraped knees. A cold from that sick kid in
class whose mother thought it was a good idea to share. Whatever.

Rather than wasting time running to the store for more Neosporin Kids or cough syrup, we can
often find just what we need to heal our kids for much less right in our pantry. Moreover, it’s
becoming increasingly clear that antibiotics are overprescribed. Even the American College
of Chest Physicians says that antibiotics are not effective against the common cold, which
means your money and time are better spent elsewhere. Instead of wasting time and money that
you could be spending on budgeting or reading for online classes, use these easy, cheap home
remedies for common complaints.


Grapes are naturally expectorant, meaning they let you get rid of phlegm. Buy grape juice with
as little added sugar and additives as possible or bring home a carton of grapes for the kids to
munch on. Meanwhile, brew some ginger tea with honey to further relieve congestion and ease
sore throats.

Stuffy nose

Nasal congestion is the body’s inflammatory response to an irritant, which can be bacterial, viral,
fungal, or a matter of seasonal allergies or mold. Steep fresh ginger slices in hot water for 20
minutes, remove the ginger, and pour a dollop of honey and milk. The steam from the tea will
relieve immediate pressure but the honey and ginger also give boosts to the immune system.
Coconut milk tastes especially good with this tea.

A less tasty (but apparently more effective) alternative is tomato tea. Combine and puree:
• 1 tomato
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• A couple of flakes of red or cayenne pepper
• Pinch of salt

Heat the mixture on the stove until lightly steaming.

Scraped knees

Wash and dry the area and cover the wound with honey. Honey has been used for centuries
across cultures as a treatment for anything from battlewounds to problem skin. It’s antibacterial,
a source of antioxidants, and it’s humectant, which means it traps moisture. On any cut or
scrape, it prevents infection and speeds healing. Wash off before bed and apply as necessary
until a scab forms.


Apple cider vinegar relieves many health woes, including seasonal allergies, joint pain, and an
unhealthy gut, but used topically it also heals warts if applied twice daily and covered with a
bandage. It also works for bee stings.

Upset stomach

The next time your child complains of an upset stomach, brew mint, cinnamon, or ginger tea
with a spoonful of honey. Don’t bother buying boxes of this stuff. Just cut up a whole ginger
root into thin slices and dehydrate (using an oven on very low heat) or hang up a few sprigs of
mint for a couple of days. When they’re dry, grind them up in a coffee grinder and store in a
mason jar. Steep as with any normal tea.

Everything here works for moms, too! So, in the few minutes per day that you seem to have
nothing begging for your attention, kick up your feet with a book and sip some calming, healthy

Carmen Brettel is a writer and manager for, where she has recently been
researching financial aid for girls. In her spare time, Carmen enjoys gardening and volunteering
at animal shelters.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Be an Amazing Nursemaid

So, I'll come out and admit it, I am a crappy, crappy nurse. I'm just about as caring and sympathetic as a foot, though I try my darn hardest. Ask my husband. It's one of my (few, I'm sure...haha) weaknesses. You know, along with cooking, and cleaning, and parenting, well, anyway, let's just move on.

I've been observing my intense failure for several sicknesses now, and I've compiled a list to help you avoid completely losing it when your loved ones are sick.

1) Always have medicine in the house. And, no, children's Tylenol does not count. If your kids are sick, chances are your spouse is sick or will get sick, and he'll look to you for common medicines. So, stock up on Nyquil, Robitussin, Dayquil, Excedrin, etc. Bonus points if you do this before anyone is ill. However, I'll still give you a passing grade if you remember to do it by three days into the sickness.

2) Cook bland, easy-to-eat foods. You'd think I'd have this totally covered, right? Well, my ineptitude in the kitchen knows no bounds. My children have decided they hate soup. What does this leave me with? Well, my husband still wants soup when he's sick, so I'm a short order cook as of late (and a shitty one at that.) The kids are basically getting by on sandwiches. Last night, I made my family's sick food when we were kids. Bacon and eggs. Hahahaha. Apparently, not every family is my old family, and bacon is not a sick food. Good to know. I also have ridiculously expensive steaks that I can't use because sick, so if anyone local is reading this and wants some free filet mignon, I will give it to you with tears.

3) As if it's even possible, kids will be even more clingy when they are sick, and you can't just tell them not to touch you, even when they're literally standing on your effing face. I have been grabbed at, groped, and manhandled in all ways these past few days, and I just want to toss them aside and be like, dude, seriously, stop touching me. As my friend Sarah aptly put it, "Why must kids live on our faces?" So, yes, you'll want to open your womb back up and be like, "Climb on back in, it's cool, as long as you leave me alone, Gawd!" But you can't. Suffer silently. It sucks to be sick, and they just love you.

Of course, if you have more than one, you can be assured that they'll find some way to fight about who gets to be closer to mommy at any given moment. Awesome.

And the never-ending chorus of "I'm sick, mama. I'm sick." I know you're sick, sweetheart, I'm sorry you're sick. There is nothing I can do.

And then when they figure out that you're actually not going to make them better, well, you're a bad guy. Get used to it.

4) Tissues and juice. Sick people use a lot of tissues. That empty box isn't nearly as funny to the sick person as it is to you. Also, they don't like being told to use a napkin while you run out for more.

5) Be prepared to be unappreciated. Sick people don't like anyone. My kids have told me such, word for word. "I just don't like anyone." And the two hours you spent cleaning the girls' room will go completely unnoticed as they seethe over the lacking juice and tissues instead. The laundry you did do will go unnoticed because you forgot to do the jammie pants. Also, you need a larger laundry basket and why is everyone such a slob, it's depressing. Sick people have fewer filters.

Head high, crappy nurses. You can do this.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Recipe Monday - Peanut Dip

Okay, so this was a pinterest fail, but it tasted so good, I'm reclaiming it.

My suggestion is to not bother making it into any kind of bar thing. Melt the whole shebang, and throw it in a bowl. Use it as dip for apples, pretzels, whatever. It's delicious.

Peanut butter "bars"

2 cups salted peanuts
2 & 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 cups peanut butter chips
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 cups miniature marshmallows
kosher salt or sea salt, optional


Melt butter and peanut butter chips in a large saucepan over low heat.
Stir until smooth.
Stir in condensed milk and marshmallows.
Continue stirring until smooth and well-blended.
Add in peanuts and transfer into a bowl.
Add salt if you like.
Cover and refrigerate until chilled.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Preschool Pointers - 14: Get to the Bottom of It


You know, you never thought you'd have a child who lashed out physically as a way to combat overwhelming emotion and four-year-old strife, but here you are, at the school again, because your little one apparently has a healthy distaste for authority. You've told the kid a million times that she needs to use words. You've sympathized with her. You know how upset she can get. You've set up reward systems, you've disciplined, taken away privileges, and she'll be fine for a few days, but it seems almost every week she forgets at least once and allows the HULK SMASH to come out. What do you do?


Wouldn't it be awesome if the kid suddenly got the point and just stopped with the kicking or hitting? Just behaved like the other kids? Just understood that innate fear that you know you always had of grown ups?

Well, saddle up, because I've tried that, and it ain't happening.

While it's not okay to defend your child's brash actions to the death no matter what the circumstances, it is really important to look for clues and follow cues. If you know you have a child that triggers on a hair, it's up to you to help those around her not trip that trigger (while you continue to work on it at home. Ultimately, the kid has to stop throwing screaming tantrums when she doesn't get her way / can't verbalize her feelings. Never stop working on that at home.)

In our case, one of the girls will, about once a week, dissolve into a raging mess and physically hit or kick whoever tries to stop her. Both teachers and now the principal have been victims of it. She's not a bad kid (haha, says the mom), she actually loves all these people and will hug them and apologize when she's calmed down. She considers them friends.

So what's happening?

The problem is (well, besides the real problem which is my child's inability to keep control of herself when she gets frustrated), is that she doesn't want to move until people have heard her. But she's not talking. She's just crying. The teachers usually have to move to another area or room, and they can't just leave her there. They don't know how to get her to stop, so they try to physically move her. They go over to a kid who's out of control and try to pick her up. And they get a foot...somewhere. Because the girl doesn't want to be moved.

And she has a really strong sense of right and wrong and good and bad. When this happens to her (or when she does this...for those of you who are all about accountability in four year olds), she knows she's not doing the right thing, and yet feels powerless to stop it. This compounds her original problem and she jumps onto the nobody-is-going-to-like-me-now-anyway boat, making it her against the world.

As a parent, I can break through to her pretty quickly. Sometimes, I'll clash with her, show her that she's the child and I'm the adult and she needs to calm it down. But more often, I'll soothe her (without trying to pick her up or move her until she's ready). She wants to hear that she's still a good girl, that people still like her, that everything will be okay. She wants someone on her side. And once you can get her on board with that, the rage passes and you can work through it.

Is it ideal? No. Like I said, we're working on it.

But it's something at least. She doesn't want to lose control, and it's never aimed at a person. Even when she's fighting with her sister, if that rage thing kicks in, the sister is forgotten. It's just the one and her emotions, fighting each other.

I guess, the solution is to show your child that you're on her side, but you need her to work with you. If you can approach these situations with a little gentleness, you can usually stave them off or stop them before they even get off the ground.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Why Shit Never Gets Done

Look, being a grown up is really hard, okay? Especially when you fake the most important bits. I don't understand my tax forms, I can't / don't balance a check book, I let my documents expire, and I lose everything. I can't keep receipts or confirmation numbers. I don't find a new doctor when I move places, I don't explore my health insurance options or know anything about them.


It's all a huge pain in the ass.

Now, it's incredibly difficult to be a parent when you're such an obvious twelve year old, yourself. I mean, how long can I go around screaming, "I don't wanna!"

Apparently for a good ten years at a stretch. But then, all the little ass pains...well, they combine into one gigantic ass pain usually under pressure and on a deadline. Not doing things because you don't need to is not a good reason. Because then when you do need to, well, you're shit out of luck and you gave yourself five minutes.


Let me explain. I'll start at the beginning and pile this upon you so heavily you'll be trapped in red tape for days, nay, months. (Or you would be, if you were me.)

I have been accepted to the University of Florida as a graduate student. Awesome, right?! Yeah. Except they want to charge me out-of-state rates. Why? Because I cannot prove that I have lived in Florida for more than two years.

Well, simple. Just provide us your vehicle registration, your license and your voter's registration. They all have to be FL documents of more than a year old, but that should be no problem.

Only it is.

My license is still Connecticut. Because it doesn't expire until 2016. Yes, I know it's against the law, but I only really drive down the street anyway. Plus, maybe we'll be back in CT in 2016, right? We can hope.

My voter's registration is from this year. Because I didn't need to vote until this year. Which means I only have the registration.

Okay, so go get a new license, right? Easy.

Except I need an official birth certificate. Now, if I were an adult, I'd have that readily available. But I don't keep important documents, apparently, and I don't have one. So I have to order one from Connecticut. Awesome. (I also need my Social Security Card (I know I have that somewhere), a billion pieces of mail, my marriage certificate...which I have! WOO HOO! and a bunch of other crap. And money. And people wonder why I didn't do this earlier.)

Don't have your birth certificate? That's okay. Just bring your passport instead. But my passport is expired. Because I haven't traveled out of the country since 2007, and I first got it in 1999. Awesome.

Well, can I just order a new passport? Sure. That will be a billion dollars and 4-6 weeks processing. And the marriage certificate...which, again, I have! WOO HOO!

Okay, so once I order the birth certificate and I bring all that garbage to the DMV, then I can have a new license. Given times and that we're traveling over Thanksgiving, this puts me into December.

Then I can bring the new license and the voter's reg to the school, but it won't be enough because I didn't do this two years ago.

I'll also need a letter from my management company (which I only go through after going through my landlord who is the actual person who deals with the company) on official letterhead, the girls' doctor and school records, utility bills (which aren't in my name, so I'll need, again, the marriage certificate...which I have! WOO HOO!), my husband's vehicle registration, and God knows what else.

And you know what? That still might not be enough. Then my case goes to admission jury where they can just say no.

And then I don't go to school.

Lesson here? Just be an adult. It's easier in the long run. Plus it will teach your children priorities.

Really, it's a pity they don't want things like 'baby's first haircut,' or 'baby's baptism candle' or 'every birthday card you've ever received.'

Those are, apparently, the things I keep around.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

The End of the Spammers?

I've posted before about the hilarious spam messages I receive on this blog.

Gems like:

"I think this is one of the such a lot important information for me.
And i'm satisfied reading your article. However wanna remark on few general things, The website taste is great, the articles is in reality great : D. Just right job, cheers
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"That is really attention-grabbing, You are a very 
skilled blogger. I've joined your feed and sit up for seeking more of your excellent post. Additionally, I have shared your web site in my social networks
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"Somebody essentially lend a hand to make seriously articles I 
would state. This is the first time I frequented your web 
page and thus far? I surprised with the research you made to create this actual put up amazing.

Excellent activity!
My webpage ; buy youtube views"

keep coming.

I laugh.

Now, I had been allowing these spam comments for two reasons.

1) Captcha is annoying.

2) Some of these commenters are real people making, like, three pennies per comment or something. And who am I to deny them their income? They're only looking ridiculous on older posts anyway.

But then I got a comment that said something along the lines of this:

"Blah blah ridiculous, nonsensical blather. Does your site have a spam problem? View my webpage."

And I was like, well, it didn't until you drew it to my attention. Now, I'm thinking, jeez, if the spammers are asking if I've got a spam problem, it's probably time to bite the bullet and rid myself of these leeches.

(No offense, leeches.)

Even without that snarky spam comment, the number of links left on old blog entries is getting up to a half dozen a day.

This is everyone's problem. Moderation, yo. When you descend upon something so surely and with no reprieve, you're going to be stopped where otherwise, had you exercised just a little judgement, held back just a tad, you'd be left alone to attempt to entice people with your stupid links.

Unfortunately for you, I'll now be taking care of my "spam problem."

Thanks for bringing it to my attention, bots.

But before I do, here are a few more gems for you all:

"When someone writes an article he/she retains the image of a user in his/her brain that how a user can be 
aware of it. Therefore that's why this article is perfect. Thanks!
Here is my web-site :: buy Youtube views " 

(This one is extra good because it's on a post about shepherd's pie. Hah.)

"What's up, every time i used to check weblog posts here early in the daylight, for the reason that i like to gain knowledge of more and more.
my web site :: clean my pc "

Okay, I have to stop copy and pasting these before I change my mind about strengthening my security.

They're so hilarious; I really quite like them.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Life Map by Kate Marshall - Book Review

My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your FutureMy Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future by Kate Marshall
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well, I didn't really like this book, but, you know, it's my own fault.

I'm a pantser. I don't make plans. Why? They always fall through. And the bigger and more detailed the plan, the worse it goes.

I had a big plan once. I was going to be one damn successful broadcast journalist. I was going to produce the hell out of news, in New York, no less.

And I almost made it; I really almost made it.

But here I am.

An accidental twin pregnancy, a layoff, a crumbled economy and a husband later, I find myself here in Gainesville, where they don't even HAVE a news market. (Seriously, we're market 169)

I'm home, taking care of my kids, and slowly, with no plan in place, I've begun to branch out again, taking on odd jobs that turned into regular jobs, writing, blogging, expanding my resume.

I just got into grad school. But I don't have a plan. It's just something to do that will hopefully pay off in the future. That's the only way life works for me.

And I want a plan, I really do. So I was excited to get this book. But with questions like, "where do you see your friendships in ten years?" I mean, I guess I was just a bit disappointed.

My answers got more and more vague.

Basically my life plan is: Keep my family, add some money and success.

That's it.

And I'm not going to project my death date, sorry.

One of the questions asked me to go through my pictures and make a collage with me in the center.

I skipped it.

Because in my currently plan--which is get as much shit done a day as humanly possible--I don't have time for an art project. I already know what is important to me, the question is what am I going to do with it?

And to get to those answers, I'm going to need a lot more probing questions than, "what have you given to service in the past five years?"

If I'm going to make a plan, I'm going to need to be ninjaed into it.

This book didn't do that.

There's a great discussion going on about planning right now at the Blogher Book Club.

**This review is part of the Blogher Bookclub review initiative, but the thoughts expressed are my own.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guest Post - An Ode to Scooby Doo

Today I have an avid Scooby Doo fan explaining to me why the show is great. (Which works out well, since I was never really into it, myself.)

Scooby Doo has always been a greatly popular cartoon and is still shown today on Cartoon Network. The show has been on air in some way or another since 1969 and is still being produced today. There are four main characters, along with Scooby himself of course. The four teenagers include Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma and together they solve many mysteries that come their way.

The gang spend their days getting into all sorts of trouble and solving many mysteries that involve the teenagers facing ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and criminals. The episodes are full of fun, action, and adventure and it’s no wonder why they have always been so popular.

Shaggy and Scooby are usually together. Shaggy is Scooby’s owner and is a little bit of a coward himself who is usually more interested in food that what is going on! Scooby is a Great Dane who can speak English a little bit and tends to put an ‘r’ before the words that he says. Shaggy is always being chased by ghosts and is a bit scared to say the least! Scooby is the star of the show and a very loveable character who is scared of his own shadow! His mistakes often lead to the group solving a mystery.

Daphne is known to be a little clumsy. She has been kidnapped a few times and left imprisoned until the other teenagers finding her. It’s usually Shaggy and Scooby who end up finding her, but it does tend to vary. She has a big crush on Fred too. Daphne adds a bit of glamor to the show with some handy everyday things in her purse that often prove to be useful.

Fred is the leader of the gang and tends to try to take charge. He and Daphne are often wondering off alone whilst the rest of the team heads off in another direction. She is calm and collected most of the time and very focused on the task in hand.

Velma is the clever one and is very intelligent at that. She is a key to solving a lot of the mysteries and loves to read mystery books as well. She has a habit of losing her glasses at times and finds them often falling off her head! Velma is great at finding the vital clues that the gang need to solve the mystery!

If you are a Scooby Doo fan, then you can watch episodes on Cartoon Network and see if you can help solve the mysteries. Every episode has a new plot and a new mystery to solve. The gang gathers clues to reveal who has committed the crime!

Not only can you watch the episodes, but you can also play the games. Cartoon Network has loads of great games to play online so you can help the gang solve mysteries and plot your way out of a haunted house. You can keep yourself entertained with games online until the next episode is on! Scooby will no doubt be around for many more years to come. 

About Author

Olivia is a freelance writer based in North Wales. She is a great fan of Cartoon Network and Scooby Doo. When not watching the shows; you’ll usually find her swimming or reading a good book.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Recipe Monday - Beer-Battered Flounder Bites

These are great if you're in the mood for fried food.

3 medium-large flounder fillets, cut into bite size pieces
1 can of beer
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika

Mix one can of beer with the flour, salt, and paprika.

Mix the flounder nuggets, in batches, until well coated.

Drop into hot fryer or deep frying pan with lots of oil until golden and crispy.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Preschool Pointers - 13: Do Not Give Up

Problem: It's been three months since you've seen your child. You don't know who this monster is who has replaced him, but he sucks. He won't listen, he won't talk, he won't reason. All he does is demand things, then tantrum, then demand more things. It's like he's looking for any excuse to cry. Including you not letting him wash his hands again for the third time in a row, him touching his own feet, you opening the door wrong, or him eating all his cereal. Hell, even the thought that someday he might eat all his cereal puts him into tears. What do?

Solution: Well, I can't say it's teeth any more, can I? It's just...I don't know. Growing pains? It's not you. At the very least it's not all you. Try finding the root of the problem, and this won't be easy, since your kid has decided not to talk to you, instead only wailing away.

And sometimes you think you've gotten to the root of it, and you were wrong. Or there was more. Or something else is bothering them too. But you won't know what it is because they won't tell you.

The solution? Hang in there. Do not give up hope. If you continue to show your child that you are listening to him and that you understand some of what he is going through, he will come around. He will eventually break down and talk to you, if each tantrum you gently direct him to do so. Just keep at it. In some way, it's like an undercover battle of wills. He's doing his darndest to get you to react negatively to him (or at least it seems like that), and you've got to try your hardest to keep it positive, keep it happy and show him how much a better attitude improves life.

What I've been saying to my crying, wailing girls is, "I know you're upset, but this isn't helping anything. How can we fix the problem?"

By skipping over what's the problem, I've gotten some success, but mostly, it's just time. They've decided to come back around to the side of human again, and I survived the monstrous time.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Guest Post - Teaching an Appreciation for Food

Today, I'm lucky enough to have a guest post from Jack Meyer on food appreciation in little ones.


Being raised as a young child in the 1960s, at least the world I grew up in was a gastronomical adventure for my not so discerning palate. My mother would go to a party and come home with some very interesting culinary ideas. I remember the fondue years; we had all the latest fondue equipment and there wasn’t anything we didn’t fondue. Then there were the Hawaiian Luau parties she would go to with dad, we actually buried a pig in the yard, which I remember disturbed me greatly. It was a tasty pig though, I must say. Ahh, memories!

Mom was a very “hands on” kind of mother; from as far back as I can remember I was seated up
on the kitchen cabinet to observe the preparation of mom’s latest and greatest culinary creation.
Among my mom’s many talents in the kitchen, she was an expert in the art of pie making.

To this day I don’t know anyone who can whip up the perfect pie crust with exactly the right
flakiness and texture that my mom can. (She always includes the tastiest little cinnamon rolls with the
leftover dough when she’s done…all I can say is YUM!) She still has her grandmother’s wooden
bowl that she makes the crust in, just as she was taught by her grandmother and her mother
before her. I watched from the time I was around four years old, and then as a much older child of
perhaps nine or ten was given my chance to create the perfect pie crust. Hard as I might try over
the years my pie crusts do not come out like my dear mothers. Sadly this talent somehow skipped
a generation. Not all is lost however because my daughter can whip up a great pie crust.

There are many different ways to include your children in exploring new dishes and old favorites.
Not only does it give them a wide range of choices for their future eating pleasure but also opens
up the walls to different cultures. I will list just a few ideas for including your children in your
love for food.

1. Start early - begin when they are young and still interested in everything you do. All
young children love to be a part of what you are doing. While you are cooking engage
them in what you are doing, share cooking terms and how-to’s with them. Let them do
the easier tasks like fetching things you need for the recipe at hand. This will also teach
them the names of many things in the kitchen.

2. Try Everything! Always get them to try different foods. When they are old enough let
them try a bit of everything you are eating, if they don’t like it the first time that doesn’t
mean they won’t like it in the future. I know growing up there were certain things I didn’t
care for that I like now. I also remember when my daughter was young; she started out
a picky eater. On trips we had to carry cans of green beans, black olives, and beets with
us as we traveled. The only other things she liked were chicken legs and corn on the cob.
She didn’t like fast food, go figure. She grew out of that phase and has branched out
beautifully, including many things in her diet, as well as an occasional hamburger!

3. Include them in all aspects of food preparation – as they age, give them more
responsibilities in the kitchen. Include them in the planning of meals as well as the
shopping. Read cookbooks together. I remember sitting with both my grandmother and
mother reading recipes from cookbooks, I now do it with my daughter. Trying to decide
if the recipe sounds good to us and thinking about what we could add or take away that
would make it even better. Sometimes we just have to run in the kitchen and try them out
right away! Some of our experiments are great and some are not so great, but the process
is a lot of fun and we always learn something.

We often laugh over past dishes that did not turn out as expected, as well as ooh and awe over the dishes that won us fame in the extended family. So my advice to anyone who loves cooking, who enjoys well prepared foods, and sharing with family and friends is to get your children involved early on and make it a memorable and happy experience. You won’t regret it!

Author Bio:

Jack Meyer is a regular contributor for As a detective
he wants to spread the knowledge of terrible things that can happen when people don’t fully
verify the credentials of a caregiver or any employee. He also writes for various law enforcement
blogs and sites.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Little Mommy Winner!

Lucky winner of these two Little Mommy Dolls (Princess and the Potty and Everyday Moments)

is number 69, Susan Chester!

Thanks, everyone, and congratulations, Susan!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Other Side, Parents vs. Nannies

A great friend of mine is a nanny. Strong and sure, she sometimes gets some flack from the parenting community. Posts like this kind of point toward why. But, you'll see, it's all mostly misunderstanding.

So, on behalf of's the other side.

1) Her first pet peeve is parents that allow tantrums. She says that she'll give in nine times out of ten and let a kid climb the stairs, but on the tenth time, she's not budging, and she's keeping the baby gate. Then she has to suffer a tantrum. And then when the parents get home, they think it's no big deal because they let the baby climb the stairs, so what the hell?

She says this undermines her and makes her job harder. Now, I can kind of see that, sure.

She says the parents either give her a mean look, or just take the gate down and let junior play on the stairs.

Then she says, thanks. Thanks a lot.

But here's the see, we're working on gross motor skills right now, and I want her to get all the practice she can while watched over by an adult so that she can perfect the skill, and I don't have to worry about her falling down the stairs much longer. Then we can get rid of that blasted gate that I stub my toe on every morning.

And since we're not co-parents, and you're not sticking around tonight, it's not really undermining you, though I can see how you would think that. It's more me wanting to spend time with my child, and wanting to practice stairs with her.

The ones who give the mean look? Well, they probably want you to practice stairs with the kid and think you are undermining them. But I don't think that's your job.

For parents, it's like, you can't just ignore a crying kid who throws herself into your arms. It's not me giving into a tantrum. I've just gotten home. I'm not thinking you're a horrible person. Babies cry. They want things, and they want them the same. But that's not how the world works, and while the girl learns that, there are going to be some stumbling blocks.

In fact, it's good that we have different methods. It introduces her to variety early. So, I'm not thinking she's a victim, but I am loving up on her, you know, because I love her.

And if you were able to calm her down about the stairs before I got home, that's more kudos to you! She likes and respects you, and you're helping me set adult / child boundaries. Those boundaries just happen to be different for you than for me.

So, in my opinion, I'm not 'giving in to her tantrum,' I'm just listening to her tell me about her day. And I'm thankful you were a part of it.

2) Next up is co-sleeping. Now, I never co-slept, so I'm going to have to step out of character for a moment.

She says that while co-sleeping may make the parents' lives easier, it makes hers harder, and she doesn't mind telling parents it's a problem for her.

Unfortunately, though, parents really aren't up late at night worrying about what personal, family sleeping habits are going to make their babysitter's or nanny's life hard. No. They're up late at night because their kid is screaming his bloody lungs out and finally, you know what, they take him into their bed. Because sleep.

End of story.

And if it's a problem for you, well, that's fine. Tell the parents during the interview, so they can decide if that's a problem for them. And, yeah, I get that it's inconvenient for you and even hard on the kid at first. But you know what? Kids are resilient. They fall into routines. So, hopefully you're not going to be dealing with screaming for a long time...because hopefully he'll learn that you don't want to lie there for an hour. He'll learn that a few minutes is enough. And I think you can give him a few minutes. You know what kids need to transition.

Most people will understand and sympathize with you, and even apologize that their little one won't go down for you. They know what the stakes are. They know what's happened. They still deserve a night off every once in a while, and if it's something you are unwilling to deal with, tell them upfront and save everyone some time. Especially if you are a full-time nanny who will be doing either naps or bedtime on a routine basis. I don't want my kid screaming her head off because you won't lay down with her for a few minutes, and if that's what's happening, you are totally right. We need a new arrangement. But my friend does say she'll deal with it occasionally. Well, that's better than nothing, right?

Again, it reinforces to the kid at an early age that adult / child boundaries can vary. A good lesson to learn.

3) Mama Bear. Oh, Mama Bear. I love Mama Bear...because I've been Mama Bear.

But let's take the "parent chilling on her cellphone or talking to her friends while her one-year-old baby plays across the area and she pays no attention, then comes up and berates a fellow caretaker when a three-year-old child falls on the baby" from the other side.

First, I'm probably a new parent. That huddle you see me in? That's not me getting some juicy gossip about the neighborhood. I couldn't care less. Lord knows, I can hardly speak to adults anymore. I just don't know how. I'm simply trying, and it's hard. No, that's me tensing every single muscle in my body so that I don't get up and walk over to hover directly over my precious at all times. I'm serious. I don't want to be one of those parents. The play area is for the babies, and I'm trying desperately to regain my independent personhood, and let the little one do the same. And it's killing me.

You don't have to do that because the child you're watching isn't your own, so while, you too, deserve a break like me, you probably don't have all these feels you're trying to logically counteract which would put you on the edge. And going along with that, yeah, my reaction is going to be out of proportion, but it's because my brain goes, "Love! Mine! Shit! Fuck! I knew I should have been hovering over there, I am such an asshole! Fuck! My baby! Shit! Is she ruined for life?!" I don't know the answers to these questions. Because I'm first-time parent stupid.

If the same were to happen to you, probably, you would be much more efficient and adept than I am at this. Your brain would go, "Oops! A little accident. Let's brush everyone off and try again."

Oh, how I would wish for that reaction, instead. It's a much more mature, and better, reaction.

So, when I come over and yell at you, and baby my child, and practically cry, it's not rage at you. And I apologize for being an ass. But it's got nothing to do with you at all. It's got to do with me. I'm all confused and scared and befuddled.

Please, give the Mama Bear a little patience. She's judging herself, not you.

As for 4) sick kids, and 5) payment, yeah, I've got nothing.

You shouldn't have to work around sick kids, especially if the parents ninjaed you and you didn't know they were sick. And everyone should get paid well, and on time, for what they do.

I guess some people are just jerks.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review - Break for Beauty, Elizabeth Hawksworth


Done? Okay, good. Now read this.

If given the choice between poetry and prose, I gravitate toward the latter every time. It's not that poetry isn't amazing in its own right; I'm just one of those people who needs the words to surround me, build a picture, not with emotion and feeling, but with text.  I feel prose more than I do poetry.

That is not the case with Break for Beauty by Elizabeth Hawksworth.

"What does a journey through 10 years of becoming a writer look like? Elizabeth Hawksworth takes her readers through a varied and unique collection of poetry and essays about different parts of her life. Exploring religion, mental illness, self-discovery and other themes, this book emulates different poetry styles and word-painting to introduce readers to herself and her love of poetry."

I picked it up, expecting the whole thing to go over my head and leave me cold. Instead, an intense and emotional narrative enveloped me.

Perfectly chosen pieces flow into each other as easily as each artistically chosen word beats meaning and life onto the page.

Here you will find raw and base emotion dissected into intelligent ideas and original thought.

The tortured pen paves the way for reader breakthroughs with each phrase.

And the upswing of poetry is that it's perfect for people who can't commit themselves to reading for long stretches of time, like moms and business people.

If you've got a few spare moments, you've got time to Break for Beauty.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Recipe Monday - Dry Rub Tangy Chicken Wings

If you want to make wings, but you don't want the mess of hot sauce, this alternative is amazing! I'm going to make them a lot more often.

Great for parties! I mixed the ingredients in a bag, then tossed in the wings. Threw them in the oven, turning once. Delicious. So much less work than my fried hotwing extravanganzas.

3 pounds chicken wings, joints separated, tips removed
Dry Rub
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1. Mix all ingredients of the dry rub in a sealable bag. Add the wings and toss to coat evenly.
2. On charcoal grill: Start your kettle grill with a bucket full of coal, wait till they’re nice and hot. When ready, dump the bucket on one side of the grill leaving the other side bare. Put the wings on the hot side the grill. Cook the wings until the coating starts to caramelize and you get some black grill marks, flip the wings and and repeat. Move them to the cool side of the grill, cover and cook for 30-35 minutes (less time if you like your wings juicy, Greg likes his drier).
On gas grill: Turn one side of the grill to high heat, the other side on medium-low heat.
In oven: Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil (this is an important step unless you want to spend an hour scrubbing your pan after cooking). Lay a baking rack on top of the baking sheet and place the chicken wings on top of the rack. Bake for 20 minutes, flip the wings and bake for another 15-20 minutes.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Preschool Pointers - 12: Make a Deal


You've got more than one kid and they fight over silly things, like who gets to be a princess, which video they want to watch or whether or not the lights are off. Or you only have one kid, and she's constantly trying to fight you over rules or what have you.


Start using compromises. At first, I would just throw my hands up and say, "work it out. Don't come back to me until you've worked it out." But the girls need a little more direction than that.

So now, if one wants to play the piano and the other wants to sing and they absolutely cannot do them at the same time, I try to keep them calm, and ask them to propose deals to each other. One will think about it and say, "Okay, here is my deal: You can play piano first if I can be a princess while you play." Then the other can say yes or no. If no, that one needs to come up with a counter-deal. And we will do this until someone says okay. Or (because how often does that happen? Once out of five times, maybe), they get neither of those things. Usually, in about 30 minutes, after I've cruelly denied them everything they've ever wanted, one of them will randomly decide the other can go first and just announce it. Then we move on.

If they're arguing with you, you can make a deal with them. The difference is that what you say goes. They get the chance to calmly state their case if they can, and depending on how well they carry out that task, you can amend your deal or not. Your kids will figure out their boundaries (slooooooowly), and they'll learn important communication skills.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Romance Thesaurus - Part II

Over on the writing blog, I continue my search for the perfect euphemism.

Okay, so we've covered penis and boobs. Next up? Well, let's continue to explore those two terms. Did you know that the parts of the penis and boobs are used so often they need their own entries?


READ MORE (It's a family blog over here, y'all.)


Thursday, November 1, 2012


Halloween was incredibly busy around here! Here's a picture guide!

Last night, we went trick or treating around the neighborhood with our neighbors and good friends, like we've done for the past three years now! It was great! My kids even picked an apple (from my friend's house at the end of the night), instead of a goodnight candy.

Knocking on doors like bosses, yo.

Before that, it was Boo at the Zoo! Which was phenomenal!

The kids loved the princesses. This was the second time they saw Rapunzel, and oh my God, they won't move from her when they see her. They are insta-best-buddies for life.

You see here that Dulce is more impressed with princesses than Lilly.

Anyway, the spectacle was awesome, except for the ridiculously scary witch, werewolf and grim reaper who had my kids in tears. A little warning next time, guys, that's all. Maybe an alternate route for the kids who insist that stuff is real.

Before that, they had a "festival" at preschool, and everyone went in their costumes.

  My favorite picture is this one. Laura will love it, too.

I kept trying to get shots of my kids...but kept missing them. Here's a wicked cute girl who doesn't belong to me, though.

And over the weekend, we did trunk or treat at a local church with a pumpkin patch. This was the only time my girls let me do their costumes in full, and, boy, I missed the pigtails yesterday.

I can't explain to you how much they freaked out over this Rapunzel. It was like Christmas on Halloween. They pretty much died, and it was all they could talk about for days. Forget trick or treating...they met Rapunzel.

Happy Halloween!



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