Get widget

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Open Letter to DINKs Everywhere

Dear DINKs,

Thank you.

Thank you for uploading your gloriously childfree vacation pictures to Facebook. When you do this, I can "vacation" myself after my lovely little noisemakers have gone to bed. Fiji, Costa Rica, Miami, you go. You go to those places. You do it.

And the fact that it only cost you $800 and took only one day to plan? I love it. I do not hate. Because you deserve it. Everyone deserves it. Some of us cannot have it. As DadCamp writes in Babble, for the married-with-kids, a vacation like that would cost $1,500.

He complains about the necessary room sizes, and about the price of dinners. (This is a piece about why people without children suck, and, honestly, the man spends the whole time wishing he was without children. Maybe it's a satire?) But, yes, DadCamp. Dinner for five does cost more than dinner for two. Sorry, but I'm not sure how that is the fault of the childless.

The one thing he doesn't mention is that "a quick getaway" with kids sucks. It's all, "I miss my toys, she's on my side of the bed, I don't want dinner here, I want to stay at the beach, why do I ALWAYS have to take a bath." They're completely unreasonable on vacation, much as they are at all other times of their existence. They're kids. It's what they do.

So, I know that should I suddenly have triple the funds that you have and were able to go on such a trip, I wouldn't have the same kind of vacation that you would have anyway. I would still have a good vacation, but not the same kind. So, thank you. Thank you for having a sane, calming, relaxing vacation with no one whining about the size of the raisins in their toast. And thank you for posting the pictures for me.

DINKs, dear DINKs,

Thank you for living with me in the suburbs. I love to see you sitting on your patios, sipping your margaritas, laughing quietly like adults do, and never having to worry that a toddler is drowning in the pool or tangling himself up in the hammock (for the fifth time). It refreshes me. Just because I can't have something doesn't mean I don't want others to have it.

This, I believe, is how most childless-by-choice people feel about parents. Just because we don't have that, doesn't mean we hate that you have it (well, as long as we're not DadCamp). And I like to see it.

And double thank you to the DINKs who will sometimes invite my family over to partake in what would otherwise have been a childless soiree. If you think I don't understand the sacrifice you have made, I do. You've changed your whole scene, and I thank you.

Thank you also for living in the suburbs with me where you pay taxes for the school system even though you do not have kids going to school. This is a debt I can never repay. Well, I mean, I'm sure the parenting community must do something to improve your lives. I just can't think of anything right now...Bueller?

When DadCamp says "my best friend is married, no kids. He moved in to his childhood neighborhood, across from his old school which is now closed. It sits empty because too many empty nesters sucked the demand dry," I simply cannot fathom what he is talking about. In what childless mecca could he and his family actually live where there are so few children in the suburbs that a school sits empty due to the dry-sucking of DINKs?

Could the school be sitting empty, perhaps, because the taxes everyone (including DINKS) are paying made it possible for the district to build a new one? I may need to see some numbers here, DadCamp. (Also, I really like saying DadCamp.)

Thank you for being well-rounded human beings who may very well enjoy baking cookies on a Wednesday night as much if not more than a weekend getaway. That was an odd generalization for DadCamp to make.

Personally, I would rather have the weekend getaway. And I know a childless, married friend who would rather make the cookies. Because we're individuals. Children or no children does not account for personal taste and pleasure. Just saying.

Thank you for putting up with the drool of the parents who say things like "You have half the expenses and double the income!" out loud in a whiny, typed-out tone. Most of us only think it because, derp, these are choices that we have made. Choices. Like you made, too. They both have good points and bad points.

Of course, if one of the good points of being parents is supposed to be that we're "showered in family" with "children and grandchildren to keep us company" perhaps we'd better improve our attitude a bit (throat clear...DadCamp...cough). Just because these people are related to us doesn't mean they'll be around when we're old. We have to keep a good relationship with them in order for that to happen. And whining about how awesome DINKs have it on the internet probably isn't the best start. Also, what if one of those dozens of grandchildren we're all going to be showered with decides not to have children? Quite the conundrum we've now stumbled upon, eh?

In conclusion, DadCamp (God, I love saying DadCamp) "wonders how happy a childless couple will be when they’re at the end of the line?" And I answer, I have no idea, but I'm betting it depends on the couple and the two people within that couple. I'm betting it will have absolutely nothing to do with their lack of children by choice.

You can't just make up random pretend problems for people that they'll have in thirty years just to make yourself feel better now.

Instead, why not sit back, cut the gum out of your hair, steam clean a carpet, and put the lovely brood to bed--so you can log onto Facebook and take a mini-vacation, courtesy of the childless people on your friendslist.

Thank you, DINKs.

Oh, and PS - I actually love your sticker.

Courtesy original Babble article. Because the title of the article is too good.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Recipe Monday - Salisbury Steak

Delicious salisbury steaks in less than 30 minutes!

1 1/4 lbs ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon steak seasoning (I use Montreal Steak spice)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock
salt and pepper

1) Gently combine ground beef, worchestershire sauce, steak spice and onion - be careful not to overwork the meat mixture.

2) Shape the meat into oval patties

3) At medium to high heat, fry the meat patties approximately 6 mins on each side - turn only once.

4) Remove the cooked patties to a platter and cover to keep them warm.

5) Add butter to the same pan and melt.

6) Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper to the pan, saute until golden brown

7) Sprinkly the flour over the mushrooms and cook for 1-2 mins until flour has absorbed the butter 

8) Whisk in the beef stock and cook until thickened. Check for seasoning.

9) Serve gravy over the meat patties.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Preschool Pointers - 35: Bring Them With You


You have some adult things to do, like bring a paper to your college campus before 6 p.m., pick up some food for dinner, or run errands. You have no one to watch the kids.


Just do it. Just bring them. Tell them what you are doing beforehand, and how you need them to behave. At four, they should be able to do you a favor. Like behave. Haha.

Now, expect these errands to take you triple time, and know that you have to make the trip about them. It took us an hour to walk to and from my car on campus to drop off that paper. Every flower had to be smelled, every hill had to be run down, every new thing had to be explored. But I learned a lot about my campus that I didn't know before.

For the food? Just bring them. And do what you want, seriously. It was the last day of my semester, so I wanted a drink to celebrate. So I had one while we waited for the food. Now, I'm not advocating taking your kids to last call at a dive bar, but having a margarita at a family restaurant while you wait for your take-out is okay. No matter what that lady giving you the side-eye over there thinks.

There comes a point when you have to start treating your babies like big kids. And yeah, it will be hard at first as they get used to their new responsibility of having to act like an actual and reasonable human being. But practice makes perfect. So keep trying.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

So, You Think You Want to Promote Yourself, Huh?

Over on the writing blog, I'm talking about how to gain more followers who are actually interested in what you are doing and will share your stuff because they like it. These work.


Promoting yourself.

It seems like such an easy thing to do. With all these social networking sites, giveaways, support groups, and of course, your own genius, you should have hundreds of followers by next Wednesday if you just work hard enough, right?

Wrong. It has nothing to do with how hard you work. (Okay, a little bit to do with that, meaning, you actually have to post and spend time on your various sites.) And, little known fact, if you actually work too hard, in the wrong ways, you'll actually get yourself banned or suspended from the sites you're trying to grow.

Before we get into specifics, let's get your basic outline ready. (If you don't think you need do. Many, many people forget their original promotion goals as they start down this path.)

So, here's the way to promote yourself, and build your audience organically. Remember, you want them to like you, not be annoyed by your existence.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Think I'm Pretty

You know that Dove Campaign that everyone loved for a hot second before everyone hated it?

This one, where the artist sketches a portrait of a woman based on her own description of herself, and then sketches another portrait based on how someone else describes her? And the self-portraits are inevitably harsher than the others? The point being that, hey! You're more beautiful than you think!

It's a great little promo...with a lot of problems.

Mainly, as Anne Theriault at The Belle Jar points out, Dove Does Not Give a Shit About Whether or Not You Feel Beautiful. In this corporate age, you always have to look one rung up. And that rung, above Dove? Is Unilever.

Pollychromatic points out this bit, at the end of the video: “'It impacts the choices in the friends that we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children. It impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.'”

Your beauty. Remember, that’s what this Dove ad campaign is talking about here. Your beauty."
Writer Elizabeth Hawksworth says she doesn't want to be beautiful. She wants women to be brave instead.

Then Cassandra over at Smibbo said everything I wanted to say. That we're missing the point. And she's right, imo.

And before you read about my flailings and failings, if you want real positivity in imagery and real acceptance in life, head over here. ...
Your self-image of your beauty, according to Dove, impacts your whole life. Therefore, we should all learn to love ourselves, and we can start by knowing that other people find us pretty, even if we don't think we're pretty ourselves.
When the video went around my feed, I shared it because I saw how much better it was making women feel about themselves, and that's a good thing.
But as my friend, Leona, said: "'There is no room in Doveland for women who know they’re hot.' (Source Feministing) Welp. I'm out then."
Me, too.
Because what Dove has done by attempting to tell all women they are prettier than they think they are is reinforcing the idea that our self-image is wrong. No matter what we do, we're wrong about ourselves. Again, people telling us what to think, for good or for bad. Let me go ahead and hit this on the head instead of beating around the bush.

I think I'm pretty.

Here's the thing, though, and I don't know what to make of it myself. If this is coming across as disjointed and weird, it's because of how unbearably uncomfortable I am even writing it. It goes against...things. It makes my chest tighten up. You aren't supposed to say it.

My friend just said it best: "You're dancing around a bit because you have negative feelings about your admissions because society has trained us all to avoid the topic of our own beauty. Believe me I know how 

you feel. It's awkward at best, feels dangerous at worst."

And that's exactly it. So, bear with me.

I never wear make up, I hardly ever match, I make weird faces. I just think I'm pretty anyway. In all of these pictures, for instance, I think I'm pretty.

I'm not "allowed" to think I'm pretty. I mean, sure, okay. I'm allowed to think that. And you, or whoever else, are then allowed to think I'm a pompous, self-important, full-of-herself asshat. In real life, should I ever receive compliments on my looks, I immediately say, "Lucky genes." I don't want to own it. I don't want people to think I think I'm better than them or that I think I have any control over what I look like. I make as small a deal of it as possible. Because wahhh, being pretty is so hard and people hate pretty people. Right? You know people are going to read those last few lines and think that's what I'm saying.

Honestly, I didn't even want to type this out because I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Point being, no matter how you think you look, it's ingrained in you to believe what other people think is more important. And it's burdensome either way.

This is the problem. This surety that other people's points of view are more important than our own.

I was having a discussion about this with a friend of mine about this. "I'd write about it," she said, "but I'm too unique-looking." At the same time, I was typing, "I'd write about it, but I'm too cookie-cutter."

In both cases, we assumed our feelings were invalid. Because of who we are.

And that's kind of what Dove is saying. What you think is invalid. Look at how wrong your image is when placed against other people's thoughts about you. Maybe you should think like them.

Meaning the solution they are providing is a bandaid. It's a way to work within the set parameters women have been given as boundaries for how they're allowed to feel about how they look.

What we really need to do is forward that message, push it further. Break down the conventions of beauty. Understand that because someone's genes gave them a look that's more conducive to praise in our modern society, it still means nothing. Understand that the only way to put everyone on equal footing is to thoroughly reject that image of beauty. Understand that how we feel about ourselves is valid and is a result of several societal factors working for and against us. Understand how we are a piece of this puzzle, not to better fit in (as some ads would have you do, like Ideal Image Laser Hair Removal, for instance), and not to see how other people do think we fit and therefore begin to believe we should think that too (like this Dove commercial), but to make a new puzzle. To make it out of Playdoh. So that it can move and shift and grow as we do, as individuals.

In the end, it comes down to caring about what people think. And on that note, I'm bracing myself for the barrage of comments telling me that 1) I'm not pretty. 2) I'm an asshole for even trying to talk about it. Because that's what I've been raised to believe happens. I've been raised to believe I do not have the right to talk about this. Because I think I'm pretty.

But I tried anyway. Because I'm confident.

And that's where we need to be. Confident. Have belief in yourself, regardless of all else.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day

Earth Day was always a big deal to me growing up. I would grab my brother and sister and trot down our seldom-used road and pick up any bits of trash we saw on the way. It was fun and frivolous at the time, but it was enough so that I started to become conscious about the world around me, and to this day, when I do something green or something that would favor Earth over my convenience, I'm reminded of those Earth Days of years' past.

But picking up garbage is just one of the tiny and multiple ways you can get the message across to your kids.

Joella over at Fine and Fair has easy ways to live a greener life without it being a battle! Check them out, and while you are over there, make note that her post is actually a blog carnival in itself and there are tons more green goodie posts at the bottom!

(And if you want to start submitting, check out her monthly carnival.)

Meanwhile, Alex at Alex Nguyen's Portraits has a stunning craft making bracelets out of bicycle tires. I know, when I say it, it doesn't sound cool. But check this out:

Way cooler now, right?

And a lot of us feel pressured to go hard or go home when it comes to going green. Jackie over at Accidentally Mommy realizes that's just not possible for all of us. Even the small steps we take are appreciated and should be recognized.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Moment of the Week - 138: "Reading"

Some kids can already read. Mine are interested by not quite there yet. They're working on it. For now, they "read" the pictures, and make up stories for each other.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Preschool Pointers - 34: Be Sneaky


Something simple needs to change. For instance, it's a month past Easter and time to get rid of the messy, grass-filled basket. But how dare you? How very dare you? The Easter baskets must stay forever! In fact, your kids aren't even going to eat the last of their candy. They're preserving it. Forever. This is just an example. This can happen with any object at any time. Simple things. You need to slice an apple, or use the last of the grapes, or move the chairs. Change, omg, stop it!


Be sneaky. It's actually a much bigger deal as they watch you do it than it will ever be again. After they're asleep or while they're distracted with something, clear it up quick, then go about your business. Instead of the flailing, end-of-the-world, how-could-yous, you'll get a question about the baskets (or whatever it is), maybe some lip quivering and a teardrop for show, and then they'll drop it.

They don't even know how not important it is until it's no longer there. Seriously.


This Feminist's Box

Look, feminism is a squidgy topic these days. Now that we can vote and own property and work and stuff, what's the problem, amirite? Do we really need to keep "making people aware" of the stereotypes perpetuated and marginalization of women in modern society? Doesn't everyone already know? And if they do know, doesn't that make it individual choice? And if women are choosing to live in certain ways and enjoy certain things, isn't that what the main push of first and second wave feminism was about anyway? Haven't we won?

Yes and no.

I mean, we really do have a bigger box, and it is a lot cozier in here now that we've been allowed to decorate (see what I did there?), and it would be kind of nice to just stretch out in here and bask in how far we've come. We deserve a break from all this struggling and fighting, and gosh darn it, we just aren't even likable anymore. Why isn't anyone ever grateful?

Because how far we've come isn't far enough. Because not only are things still incredibly weighted toward men (white men in particular), but the general population believes that they are not. Which, really, makes the problem worse than it was before because you cannot fight a problem people who should be on your side (I mean, all people really, but it's worse when you're like, but, guys, come on! This is you we're talking about / fighting for here!) refuse to acknowledge exists.

And just to clear some things up, it's not about wanting things made easier for us. It's about wanting the structural set in our society made equal. We don't want special programs and rights and passages and treatment. We don't want an equal ending point, meaning, we don't expect that being a woman should make it easier for us to succeed as we go through like. We want an equal starting point. Meaning we'd simply like not to have to claw and fight and spend years just getting to the point where men are born. That is what privilege is. It's not a bad thing, you needn't feel personally bad about it if you were born into it. But is is what it is, and we're not trying to drag anyone down so much as we're trying to climb up the patriarchy. Don't be scared, seriously. Us gaining equality does not diminish your life, I promise.

Anyway,  I could write pages on this and bore you to tears, so instead, I'm just going to point out a few specific ways in which women do not start (or end, but remember, the important piece here is start) on the same footing as men. As a group. Not talking individuals. But as a sector of society. In these ways, women are not equal to men, do not have the same opportunities as men, must work harder than men to achieve recognition or rights. Here we go, then.

Here is my feminist's box (get it?). I'm just going to go through each wall of it point by point. In this world and society where "feminism has basically already won guys, come on" we still deal with:

- Unequal pay: Women get paid 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. The equal pay legislation was shot down by our government this year. Awesome. Thanks, guys.

- Corporate absence: Women only account for 12 CEO positions in the Fortune 500 companies. Women make up 2.6 percent of corporal officers in these companies.

- Violence: one in three women will experience some form of violence, including rape and assault, and women are 10 times more likely to be victimized by intimate partners than men.

- Grooming requirements: Hair, makeup and style are considered mandatory to rise in the workforce or in society. When women don't 'groom' properly, their lack of care is blamed for their lack of success.

- Political absence: Only 20 percent of the U.S. senate is made up of women and only 12 percent of governors in the United States.

- Absence in the arts: Only 3 percent of artists highlighted in the MET's modern art section are women.

- Failure language: Failure is consistently feminized. People whining are bitches, or c*nts...if you are afraid you are a pussy...people are douches or twats...all of these represent weakness and something to be ridiculed, failure. And all of them refer to women.

- Property ownership: Worldwide, women own only 10 percent of all property (I cannot find a U.S. statistic. Sorry about that. Understand that this guy is apples and oranges with the rest of the examples.)

- Literature: Novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard says "instead of allowing women to succeed on their own merits the world of male critics and editors scratch each other's backs." Do you know who Elizabeth Jane Howard is? Point.

- Reproductive control: the people in charge of this country (which shown above are men) have control over whether or not women have rights to choice and birth control.

- Childcare inequality: Women are still held to be the main ones responsible for children. They are not, in this country, given automatic paid maternity leave.

- Healthcare access: Women's privacy is in danger when it comes to who can access their healthcare records and why, particularly pertaining to the aforementioned reproductive choices.


And yet, all of these things are not where the main problem lies. The main problem is that you (and if not you, then someone you know) read through this list not nodding along, but shaking your head. If they only worked harder, or asked for more money, or loved their children, or shaved their legs, this wouldn't happen to them, you think.

That's the problem. That's why we can never be content in a box.

For more amazing stories on what feminism means to these incredible individuals, check these out:

Feminism: Nobody told me how, by Smibbo:  "I saw boys who were teased for being “like a girl”
I saw girls who were shunned for being “too bossy”. I saw the way the rest of the world, outside of my happy-hippy sheltered life really thought. So even though I was brought up to BE a feminist and feminism runs through me effortlessly and without thought, I came to understand why there was a need for such thought, such effort, such …push."
Equal, by Pollychromatic:  "Feminism is a statement that women are equal to men, and to correct inequality where it exists. Both my daughter and my son deserve such a future."

I Was Born a Feminist, by Elizabeth Hawksworth: "Feminism is about equality. I was born a feminist.
Children are born not knowing the difference between women and men, black and white, straight and gay. Children are born knowing that their neighbour is their neighbour, that everyone can be a friend, and that everyone deserves a cookie when the plate is passed around. Children are taught the differences in society. Children are given cues to follow. But when they are born – all children know is that the people around them are people."
A Bit About Feminism, by Corndog Mama: "In this moment, I have a partner who recognizes that I'm bearing a heavy load, and he's looked for a way to make it lighter. In this moment, I am conscious that I don't have to be everything for everyone: I only need to be me, calm and reflective for my sake and that of my unborn child's."
Feminism in my Life, by Accidentally Mommy: "As a rebellious teenager, I defined feminism as being able to run around and do what I wished, date however many men I wanted, and have my world on a plate with no social repercussions. I bought myself birth control, and I worked a job where my co-workers were predominantly male. The misogynists I knew called me an undisciplined slut. I disagreed. I still disagree."

Feminism Defined: The Lowest Common Denominator, by Fine and Fair:  "Alright then. So what's the lowest common denominator? Do all feminists hate men? No. Are all feminists lesbians? No. Are all feminists hairy legged, makeup abstaining loudmouths? No. (But some really cool ones are!) Do all feminists believe that every woman should work and that stay-at-home moms are setting the movement back? Certainly not. Do all feminists believe that women share equal status as human beings and should have the same rights and opportunities as men?"

Each of these pieces is as amazing as the woman who wrote it.

Sources for this (my) piece:


Friday, April 19, 2013

Putting Delta Gamma to Sound

So, I read this article / email this afternoon, and I've been ruminating on it.

For those who didn't immediately click on it, it's a diatribe against members of a sorority who apparently are not being social enough with their partner fraternity, and boy, did the leader tell them about themselves.

Tomorrow a bunch of us are going to define what feminism means to each of us as individuals. Why? Because feminism, especially in its third wave, with all the "personal, individual choice" involved gets muddy and convoluted.

Reading this article really put some thoughts into my head about it. On the one hand, I laughed and laughed. Wow. I mean, really. Best thing I've read this week, probably. And I'm sure it's not going to affect every girl with the "internalized misogyny" (Anne Theriault, 2013) spewed all over the place. But it will affect some. And the sorority itself is cringing. Talk about "horrible PR," poor Julia's rant is sure to get her kicked out of the club (do they call them that? IDEK about sororities).

Let me copy a few choice phrases from it, and below, well, there's a video of a dramatic reading I did of the email which is NOT safe for work, and NOT safe for your kids. I have a piss-poor sorority voice, but then again, who said they all had to have high-pitched feminine voices, right? Women are women, yes?

I've been getting texts on texts about people LITERALLY being so fucking AWKWARD and so fucking BORING. If you're reading this right now and saying to yourself "But oh em gee Julia, I've been having so much fun with my sisters this week!", then punch yourself in the face right now so that I don't have to fucking find you on campus to do it myself.

Newsflash you stupid cocks: FRATS DON'T LIKE BORING SORORITIES. Oh wait, DOUBLE FUCKING NEWSFLASH: SIGMA NU IS NOT GOING TO WANT TO HANG OUT WITH US IF WE FUCKING SUCK, which by the way in case you're an idiot and need it spelled out for you, WE FUCKING SUCK SO FAR. 

Are you people fucking retarded? That's not a rhetorical question, I LITERALLY want you to email me back telling me if you're mentally slow so I can make sure you don't go to anymore night time events. 

"But Julia!", you say in a whiny little bitch voice to your computer screen as you read this email, "I've been cheering on our teams at all the sports, doesn't that count for something?" NO YOU STUPID FUCKING ASS HATS, IT FUCKING DOESN'T. 

Without further ado:

(PS - This was kind of fun. HAH)

Even more fun? Their hacked page.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fitness Corner Kickoff!

Before I let her introduce herself, I just have to say that Cassie is one of the most driven and inspiring people I know. That is all. We're in good hands with her.


I'm Cassie. Darlena has graciously invited me to head up the Fitness Corner section of her blog. I'm honored to be here. And while I don't necessarily feel qualified to be considered an expert, I definitely have a lot of experience with the losing (and gaining) of weight and starting at the bottom to reach fitness goals.

Today something happened in my life that inspired me. At work we were discussing goals and living with intention. That actual discussion is fairly irrelevant but what came of the discussion is that I live my live and set goals with intention. When I set a goal, I mean to achieve it.

So, let's talk about fitness goals. The key to achieving fitness goals is to setting realistic ones.

For example, it is totally unrealistic for me to set a goal to lose 100lbs in a month without losing a limb or two. It is also totally unrealistic for me to believe I can go outside and run a marathon today if I haven't been training properly.

These are unrealistic goals. It certainly would be nice if I could plan to be 100lbs by May (my goodness, I would LOVE to!). A more reasonable goal is to decide I want to lose 5% of my weight and a realistic timeline is 1-2lbs per week. There are some truly wonderful free online resources to help with setting and attaining those goals. My favorites happen to be:

These are online resources to help set caloric and fitness goals. All for free! They use social networking to aid in motivation. They have access to workout ideas and options. If you're not familiar with these site and looking into setting some physical goals, I highly recommend checking them out!

And what about those fitness goals? I happen to be a big believer in maintaining balance. One cannot expect to merely depend on a scale for health goals. Health is a many faceted subject.

I've been a bigger gal my whole life. Running days in PE used to be panic-inducing but in 2007 I discovered running. I started with a program called Couch to 5k. It took me through many 5ks and on up to half marathons. Running is my meditation. It can be the thing that keeps me going, the thing that keeps me proud of myself. In 2007 it took me nine weeks to go from a completely sedentary lifestyle to regularly participating in races. Even if you don't think running is your thing, I encourage you to look into the program and give it a try.

And if running truly isn't your thing? Why not set a goal for pushups?  The One Hundred Push Up plan takes you from one pushup to being able to do 100 pushups in just seven weeks!

Craving more? How about Two Hundred Situps?

I've found that using the plans on the sites listed above give me a sense of camaraderie and motivation when I need it the most. And when that isn't enough? Bloggers. The internet is full of inspirational people who have BEEN THERE and want to spread the word on how YOU CAN TOO.

Back to Her Roots and Runs For Cookies happen to be my personal favorites. These are ladies who are down in the trenches and know exactly how hard it can be but have also shown that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

(I'm in no way affiliated with and of the websites listed in this post. They are just sites I've found helpful during my own journey).


Cassie works for a small performing arts non-profit organization full time, is a mother, a wife, a friend,
and just trying to be the best she can be. Hard of hearing (working with musicians) and obese (loves
running), her life is a contradiction. She focuses on weight loss, fitness, goals and trying to obtain
balance in one's life. Cassie's hobbies are community involvement, enjoying the outdoors, horseback
riding, running, reading, and music.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tips on Taking Photos of Your Children - Contributor Post

The lovely Alex Nguyen has agreed to share some of her expertise, usually on Alex Nguyen Portraits, with us today! Taking pictures of your kids can be tough, especially if you suck with a camera as much as I do. Here's what she says!

Most people assume that you need a fancy camera, or lots of equipment, or intimate knowledge with the words "f stop" and "shutter speed" in order to get that perfect shot of their kids. I'm here to tell that while all that stuff is awesome and groovy, it's not at all needed. You can get that great shot of your kid with your point and shoot camera, and this post is to give you some tips on how to achieve some of that. First of all, all the following pictures are done indoors, near a large window. I set up near our slider, with my kid facing me and the window. You don't have to have a floor length window, any largish window will suffice.

This is my actual dining room. I just pushed table back, and plopped my kiddo in front. Note that it is not a large space, and I have no additional or special photo equipment.

 Also, TURN OFF ANY OVERHEAD LIGHTS OR LAMPS. They will cast an odd, yellowish light on your pictures. If you have a nice, largish window, you won't need additional light on your child.

See this? I call this "Cheesy Four Year Old" smile. This is what you get when you tell your child to "say cheese". You get, a cheese smile. Stiff, unnatural, and while cute, definitely not "him".

 Next, get down at your child's level. Sit down with them if you can. Engage them in some conversation. Don't be afraid to be silly.

 Don't get stuck in the rut of always taking a horizontal picture. Mix it up, and take vertical pictures (up and down pictures) as well.

Don't get fixated on taking the picture smiley picture. Get pictures of their silly faces. Of them playing with a favorite toy, or just being contemplative. If your child is normally serene, capture that.

Don't be afraid to capture the silly moments, sometimes they are the best pictures.

Get close to your child, and fill up your viewfinder with their sweet face.

A quick overview:

  • for shooting indoors, set your child near a window
  • turn off any overhead lights
  • get down to their level (sit down! )
  • don't say cheese
  • don't be afraid to fill up the viewfinder with your child's face
  • remember to take vertical pictures, as well as horizontal pictures
  • get your child to talk to you
  • let your child play
  • take lots of pictures, one of them will turn out
  • don't get stuck on getting the perfect pictures or perfect smile. concentrate on just getting your child comfortable in front of the camera, and watch the magic happen.
  • Monday, April 15, 2013

    Recipe Monday - Mexican Casserole

    An incredibly easy meal that the kids love. Mexican casserole! (Courtesy of Debby Van Vraken, btw!)

    Ground Beef (well, I put in the beef...her's was vegetarian)
    Diced tomatoes (with juice)
    Black beans (I used pinto beans)
    garlic powder
    (you could even throw some cumin in here)
    shredded cheese

    Brown the beef, then drain the corn and beans and toss them in, throw in the tomatoes and spices and simmer for 10-15 minutes, then toss on the cheese and call it a night.

    My kids asked for seconds.


    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    Saturday, April 13, 2013

    Preschool Pointers - 33: Make Them Sleep on Your Schedule


    For a long time I've been an avid supporter of 'the baby goes to bed when it's good for us.' For years now, that's been 9, 10, 11 o'clock at night. It shocks most of my friends when they're reminded of it because what kind of kid goes to bed at that time? Well, we're a "late family" I like to say. My husband works from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. so we're usually not even eating dinner until 9. Then the girls get dessert. Then they mess around for a billion years while I try to get them ready for bed and poof! 10:30.

    Sadly, this is no longer working. Since nap has mostly evaporated, I end up with jerkfaces for the last three hours of the evening as they're so exhausted they're just about to die of it. Then in the mornings, they don't even want to get up. They're having breakfast right now. It is 11:15 a.m.

    It's not going to work anymore. I need some time at night, and they're going to need to be at school at 7:45 a.m. next year. Meaning they'll have to be up at 6:45 a.m. Which is, like, five hours earlier than what we do now.


    I have to follow my own rules now. Remember the original statement was 'the baby goes to bed when it's good for us.' Well, now a good time is 8 p.m. Not 11.

    So, I'll scale it back. We'll get back to 10. Then 9:30. Then 9. Then 8:30. Throughout the summer. And I've got to keep up on the morning side, too. I have to admit, when it's nice and quiet in the morning, the last thing I want to do is go in there and rouse the troops. Particularly because they are cranky as teenagers in morning. But, it must be done. Today I did it by singing a showtune for them. That seemed to work. I'm sure it will lose its novelty eventually, but until then, well, use what you've got.

    I've got a four-month-long project in front of me. Here's hoping I can do it!


    Friday, April 12, 2013

    Sewing's Lost Generation - Blog Partner Post

    Miss Parayim is a great blog that centers around sewing as a phenomenon and as a pastime. There are great projects on there as well as some historical and contemporary context for those with a passion for fabric.

    Today she's shared some amazing musings with us.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about the lack of people my age who sew (awesome people in blog land aside). It struck me at sewing expo last month that #1 I was probably a good 15+ years below the average age of the other expo attendees and #2 garment sewers were clearly in the minority.
    The fact is, I believe a basic knowledge of sewing and garment construction are important life skills, admittedly these are skills I am only beginning to acquire.
    I think the lack of young adults that are able to sew on a button, hem a skirt, or even construct a garment has contributed to our disposable clothing culture and all the problems associated with that in terms of the environment, human rights, personal finances, and even personal sense of style/self image.
    Besides all those heavy reasons, garment sewing is fun. It’s extremely liberating to know I can choose a fabric and pattern and put them together to create something that nobody else has, and was exactly what I wanted.
    We could probably spend a lot of time analyzing the various reasons for the decline of at home garment construction- home ec no longer being required in school, cheap clothing from Old Navy, lack of exposure to everyday sewing (to name a few), but that’s not a topic I’m looking to dig into today, and I have a feeling I’d be preaching to the choir anyway.
    The thing that interests me, is what happens from here.  What small thing can I do to get my daughters thinking about what’s involved with creating the clothes in their closets?
    Of course they see me working in the sewing room, but seeing is very different from doing. I could sit my older daughter down at the machine and walk her through the basics, but she’s only 8, and I’ve only been sewing for a year.  Sewing hasn’t been part of her background, and I don’t want her to get discouraged when she sits down at a machine and a dress doesn’t magically appear 2 days later.  I want her to know what to expect of the process before she makes that first stitch.  Even if my daughters never want to learn, I want them to understand how their clothing came to be.  It’s not something I gave much thought to before I started sewing, but this is not at all an automated process.  Everything you wear represents time and effort that someone spent at a cutting table, a sewing machine, or a serger.  In the long term, I hope that I’m teaching my daughters to be empathetic, good global citizens, and conscious consumers.  In the short term, maybe they’ll appreciate their clothes more and not leave them in a pile on the floor.
    Since this has been on my mind, when my 8 year old daughter came home with a paper doll and an assignment to dress up the doll to represent my child’s heritage, I immediately saw an opportunity to start getting my point across.
    “Would you like to raid my fabric scraps to use on the project?”  You would have thought I was offering her tickets to One Direction, she was that excited.



    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Five Gifts You Need Not Get My Kids

    Kids love presents. Be it their birthday, Christmas, or just as a nice surprise. Who wouldn't, right? And I've noticed a lot of people who aren't quite sure what the best kinds of gifts to get for three-four-and-five year olds might be. I'll tackle that another time, but for now, let me tell you what they are NOT.

    1) Glitter

    I'm not even sure that an explanation is necessary here, but I'll give one, just in case you think I'm so cruel I would never allow my kids to play with the messy, heartless, horrible stuff.

    Glitter is something I need to save for when I can spring it on them, unsuspectingly. Like when we're outside or on the porch, and they look like they're going to be able to get along. Giving glitter as a gift means I've got two kids who are going to wrestle for the shiny until the shiny is all over my carpet and the two darlings are crying. Glitter is just better on mommy's terms, without the added excitement of it being a gift.

    2) Silly Putty

    You know you're staring at the gates of hell when you find a silly putty container...with no putty inside. And that's the kind of mess that doesn't steam out of carpets.

    3) SING AS LOUD AS YOU CAN ELMO (or whatever else, you know what I mean).

    First of all, he's way too expensive for the amount of use he's going to get. Tickle me, Rockin' out, Tellin' Jokes Elmo is basically a very red, very big paperweight. On the rare occasions the girls do take him out for a spin, I basically just want to gauge my eardrums out with a dull pencil. Nothing is more annoying than Elmo fake laughing. Oh wait, yes something is. It's Elmo fake laughing for 20 minutes straight.

    4) Bath Crayons:

    These don't work. They do not work. So, now we've got a tantrum in the bathroom. See those little clickies where you are supposed to be able to easily push the crayon up from its holder? LIES. The crayons melt in the warm water and fall out of there, only to melt some more, and the last thing I want to do while trying to get my kids clean is wrestle with this colorful, slippery stick of trouble. And honestly, even if they did work? I hate having to wash my tub afterward. It's not as easy off as one would think.

    5) Books with CDs

    They're just clunky and inefficient, to be honest, although they seem like a great idea. By the time I fiddle with my CD player, get the thing playing and everyone all set up, I may as well just read the girls the story myself. And why not? Why not just read to your own children? That way I can show them the words and they can start getting a grasp of how the sounds go together, too!

    Basically, when trying to find a gift for a young kid, avoid messy, sticky, and loud! We thank you!


    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Ask a Teacher - What about Summer / Fall Birthdays and Kindergarten?

    One of the segments most people are interested in here is Ask A Teacher. In that vein, I'd like to introduce Emilie. She is a teacher and a mother and a blogger to boot, residing in Kentucky. Her school system's had a rough ride with the No Child Left Behind Act, but she toils away to make her students the best they can be, day in and day out. Teaching Ain't for Heroes, but Emilie sure is one!

    Anyway, she'll be answering questions as they come in from parents and readers. Here's the first one, which is also available on her blog. After they've been posted on the home page, you'll find all questions with links to answers in the Ask a Teacher section up top!

    If you have any questions for the resident teacher, leave them in a comment here!

    I was asked recently about what to do with a child who has a late summer or early fall birthday. In my district, a child turning 5 before October 1st has the ability to start kindergarten. This creates a dilemma for parents like me. I gave birth in 2012 to a daughter who was born at the end of September. No matter what, she's going to be the odd child out. She'll either be the youngest in her class or the oldest. But what should you do if you find yourself in my shoes?

    The answer is as aggravating as you think. It really just depends on the child. The best advice I can give you is to pay attention to the needs and wants of your child. There's more that goes into choosing when to start school than just academics. Is your child emotionally ready to handle all day school? Is your child socially ready for kindergarten? What was preschool like for your child?

    Pay attention to signs that your child is ready for kindergarten. Scholastic has a great explanation of some signs of readiness for kindergarten.

    Some parents are frustrated by the age cut off and feel that their children are ready for kindergarten, even if they are turning 5 after their district's cut off. Even if your child is advanced, it's important to remember that there will be other like-age children with your child and that teachers are trained to be adept at differentiation. Differentiation is a big teacher word that just means making a lesson approachable for students that show a variety of learning levels. If your child really is bored and needs more advanced work, there are ways to skip grades down the line. I'm always an advocate of children who are displaying advanced skills be evaluated to see if they are eligible for an IEP for giftedness.

    If you're still unsure about when your child should start kindergarten, the best thing you can do is take your child into the school and see what type of assessments the school might offer to help you make your decision.


    Tuesday, April 9, 2013

    Baby's First Birthday - DP Post

    It Only Happens Once: Baby's 1st Birthday Brought to you by
    "It Only Happens Once: Baby's 1st Birthday" created by ShindigZ

    ...I've kept DP because they work hard, have pretty good content and write at a level that's acceptable!


    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...