Tuesday, January 3, 2017

THE BEST WAY To Wrap A Gift Card Plus Holiday Gift Hits & Misses

As I sit here, in the midst of an ice storm, during a week in which we really didn't do much, I'm thinking of the gifts my family gave each other for Christmas.  A mere four days later, some are being used and others are already being ignored.  In the spirit of education, let me share them with you. But first, drumroll, please: 


The teen, as expected, wanted cash or at least gift cards so he could buy video games.  But how to wrap them?  Hmmmm?  After scrolling Pinterest, which I do anyway like some men scroll porn, I rejected all of the ideas on that site and came up with this nugget of brilliance. 


The challenge was to come up with something unique that wouldn't piss the kid off, but would still confuse him so that when he picked up the package, he wouldn't know what was inside.   I grabbed some old yarn (this happens to be fancy stuff I had lying around), bent the cards so they were small, and wrapped them up.  The ball was big enough that he had no clue why I was giving it to him, yet small enough where in less than a minute, he had the gift cards in his hand.  Yep, mom has at least one creative brain cell left!

On to our other gifts...for me, the best one was this purse, the Saygoer Sling Bag Pack Canvas Cross Body Bag with Adjustable Strap.  I needed something that would not only hold my essentials, but my Kindle as well.  This bag is canvas, and it's not sexy, but it is sturdy, ergonomically great, and has a little compartment on the inside, close to my body for ID.  My plan is to Scotchguard it so it's waterproof.  My daughter says it looks like a manpurse.  I told her, "Then don't carry it."  It's mine anyway. 

Philips Norelco Electric Shaver 2100 - We bought this for the teen who always seemed to have a whisker or two lingering after shaving with a disposable razor.  He didn't ask for this unit, but reluctantly admits that he likes it.  The razor shaves him close without ripping any zits off.  I'm hoping it'll last him through college.

And our last hit:  PopSockets: Expanding Stand and Grip for Smartphones and Tablets.  Now, when my daughter wanted this, I thought it was a waste of money.  It's small and sticks onto the back of her phone, allowing for a better grip and is a stand when she wants to use videos.  Yes, it does that, but it's also fun to just pop up and down.  Maybe it's the texture, because it doesn't make a sound.  The price point was about $10 on Amazon, which was cheaper than my local ripoff stores which sell it for $20.  So far, she's loving it. 

Which brings us to the duds of this year. 

Take a look at this piece of crap that was $60 on Amazon and for which  I paid $20 at my local Toys-R-Us.  It's called Fantastic Gymnastics.  It is definitely NOT fantastic.

You're supposed to manipulate the gymnast by pressing the red and yellow buttons.  Unfortunately, the gymnast (who has no face - REALLY DEVELOPERS?  You couldn't spare the money to put an ACTUAL FACE on the person??), rarely lands feet-up, resulting in a frustrated, ticked off kid.  My daughter is swearing she'll play this with her friends, but I know it'll be shoved into a pile in the basement before Spring. 

Now, the next items is a present I bought myself and in theory, it's great.  It's the XY3 3rd Gen Item Finder - Bluetooth Key Finder, Wallet Tracker, Phone Finder, and Lost Item Tracker.  Mom is ALWAYS losing her phone and the kids call it so I can find it.  But what if they're not around?  I mastered finding my keys with a simple Command hook by the door, but the phone is a problem.  XY3 is supposed to FIND YOUR STUFF and do it three-fold.  1.  You have an app on your phone that will tell you where your keys are.  2.  You can use the computer to find your phone and/or keys.  3.  There's a button on the key thingy which you press to find your phone.  Brilliant, right? 

EXCEPT, that while it may indicate where something is, it only shows your address.  It doesn't say, "Hey, Stupid.  Your key are, for some unknown reason,  between the couch cushions along with the Doritos you snuck last night."  I KNOW they're in the house!  I just don't know WHERE!  Nevertheless, finding my keys is easier with XY3 because you just follow the beep to the keys.

Now, finding the phone is where this device craps out.  To test it, I was standing with my keys in one hand and my phone in the other.  I pushed the handy-dandy button on the keys.  No sound.  I did this twice.  Dead.  I contacted customer service.  No reply.  Then I saw it advertised on Facebook and made a comment.  Comments get attention!  The tech magicians worked hard to find a solution, but could not.  They're in the process of replacing the XY3.  I really hope it works out, because I do lose my phone quite often and the techs, through Facebook, again, not via email, seemed really nice. 

If you disagree with any of my opinions, feel free to post.  And stay tuned for more reviews coming up within the next few days.  By the way, you can follow me on Instagram:  @momscrayon.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Three Easy, Cheap Meals For When You're Feeding A LOT Of Teens

If you've been reading this blog, you know that my son likes to have his friends over  - a lot. Sometimes it's one or two boys who will eat whatever we're eating for dinner, but often it's up to 11 kids! Try as I might, I cannnot stretch a meal for 4 to encompass 15. 

So how do you feed an army of ravenous teenage boys on a budget?

The obvious answer would be to order pizza, but that gets pricey FAST. To mitigate the cost, I buy either cooked pizza from our local grocery store or an uncooked one from that same store or Costco. Even the cooked pizza is cheaper than Dominos or our local pizzeria. And I never have it delivered! Better the tip remain in my purse than grace even the nicest delivery person's pocket.

Often, I cook, nothing special since I'm not the best cook, but doing so saves a lot of money. My favorites, in no particular order, are:

  1. Mac and Cheese – These kids, fortunately, are not picky about the quality of the food offered. Generic macaroni and cheese can be made in bulk, is comfort food, and is a favorite among all. Wanna get a little fancy? Top with generic shredded cheese.
  2. Turkey Chili in the crockpot – I just made this last night for a mass of teens and it went over famously! Beans, rice, and corn can be added to make this extra filling. Find my recipe (along with other crockpot recipes here.
  3. Fish Tacos – With generic fish sticks as the basis for these, kids find them exotic. Find the recipe here.

The mothers of my son's friends are grateful that we have their teenagers over, since they know their boys are safe and out of trouble. My son is delighted that even though we don't have a large house, his friends feel comfortable here. They're over so often, in fact, that they know where the paper plates, cups, and filtered water are – I tell them to help themselves and they do.

The dishes above make me happy that the kids eat hearty and are a part of our lives. And I love how my son thanks me, after every gathering, for allowing his friends to hang here. Sometime soon they'll all be off to college. I think I'll treasure them now.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Rules For My 16-Year Old This Summer

Motherhood is an evolution because as the kids change, we parents have to tweak our parenting skills to coincide with whatever stage they're in. For example, a few years ago I wrote a popular post entitled “6 Rules To Help The Teen & I This Summer”. My son is now a few weeks away from turning 16 and, despite his best efforts, was unable to secure either a job or even a volunteer opportunity this season, since most places won't even consider hiring anyone who's 15 (I'm sure there's a reason for this, but Hey Volunteer Organizations: This policy sucks! He's a great kid who would have been an asset to your nursing home, animal shelter, etc.). While I'm giddy that Junior is around this vacation, I've once again, had to adjust the parameters for his 10 weeks or so off since his level of maturity is far different than it was a few years ago. 

This is an image off Pixabay - it's not my teen.

So are are my original 6 Rules For My Teen, plus a few I've added to help my adolescent and I thrive while he's around:

  1. You must tell me where you're going and check in with me periodically. Whereas before, I wanted to know your route, that's no longer necessary. You're almost 6' tall and know the whole child abduction drill. Still, I want to know what your ultimate destination is, whether it's the pizza parlor, friend's house, etc. 

  2. You must respond on your cellphone when I call or text me back. When you were 13, the rule was you had to always have his cellphone on you (and charged) because you'd just gotten it. Now it's basically a part of your body. But you've got to answer and/or text back, otherwise, I worry. This, of course, implies that I won't pester you with questions, check-ins, etc. which I do not. 

  3. You pay for the bulk of your entertainment. You get an allowance. Pay for your own excursions (to restaurants, waterparks, etc.). If you don't have the money, we'll work it out.

  4. Figure out what you need and bring it. Water bottles, sunscreen, a swimsuit, towels – pack ahead of time and if you forget it, consider it a learning experience.

  5. Your friends are welcome to come over, but there must be an “ending time” to their visits. A few years back, we had several kids who came in the morning and didn't leave until well into the night, despite being told what time their parents should pick them up. I love your friends, but the shear number of those open-ended visits threw the family off.

  6. If you makes future plans, let us know about them. Summertime is still, to some degree, family time and we'd like to see him, especially on the weekends. We all have the Cozi Family Calendar app on our smartphones (it allows all parties to see and adjust the family calendar) so there should be no confusion about events that are coming up; these events include your own plans which are to be respected by your dad and me.

Additional rules for my soon-to-be 16 year-old:

  1. We need to limit the larger friend gatherings. During the school year, you have upwards of 10 kids coming here on Friday nights. While I WANT THEM HERE, having such a large number of teens here a few times a week strains the family budget. Have one or two kids over a few times a week, but the larger hang-outs are still limited to once per week.

  2. You've got to work around the house. Yes, your choreload has increased for the summer, of course, because you're around more; no, you're not getting a larger allowance for this. Some things you're just expected to do because you're part of the family. But there are a few projects we need done like painting the front door, de-cluttering the garage, etc. that that you're perfectly capable of doing – for an additional price. Similarly, you've agreed to give your sister music lessons which I LOVE because it's a time that you're having fun together without video. 

  3. Sometimes, get yourself from place to place. I am not Uber. I don't mind driving you somewhere if I happen to be going in that direction, but the concept of “pick me up here and take me there” is not happening. If I'm in a good mood, I may assist with part of the journey, but our town is small, your pals are relatively close, and your legs work. Use them either to walk or pedal that wonderful adult bike we got you a few years back. Similarly, I am not your friends' taxi. If Mike wants to come over, let him find a way to do it – I'm not picking him up (and yes, I've had parents who work ask me if I can ferry their kids about). 

  4. You are now responsible for his own pool badge, health club card, library card, etc. Mommy is not the keeper of these articles any more. It's time to carry a wallet with these cards in it along with cash for incidentals. 

  5. Friends do not belong in your bedroom. Adolescence is a time of exploration. While your buddies friends are great, they're still teens and no one is going to try drugs or alcohol on my watch if I can help it. As for girls – there's no WAY they're setting foot in your bedroom! Our house is big enough where y'all can hang in the den. There's no reason for your hommies to explore other recreational rooms.

  6. You can wait on your friends and clean up after they leave. This is part of hosting. Kid, you ask your friends what they want to drink and get it for them. I'll buy the snacks, but you serve. He also needs to clear dishes and vacuum the rug (for crumbs) once they leave. To your credit, as soon as the door closes on the last kid, you're on Clean Up Duty without any prompting from me. 

Parents, sure, a lot of these rules are common sense, however, putting them out there, discussing them ahead of time, means fewer arguments. Next year, when my son is driving, I'll drop some of guidelines because he won't need reminding and add others pertaining to the car. 

The car....oh Lord! Stay tuned, readers. More advice on teens coming up shortly as Junior gets his Permit. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

I'm At Peace With My Body - If You Don't Like It, Don't Look

A few years ago, I woke up and realized something:

I've hated my body almost my whole life.

That's because for all, but a few, brief years, I've been overweight. And when you're zaftig in our society, it carries a stigma; you're labeled “lazy,” “slovenly,” and undisciplined. Now, of course, you're also told by doctors that you're unhealthy (despite what doctors have now learned about the damage that up and down dieting does to your body). 

Growing up, I was the last picked for teams. My mother shopped in the “hefty” department at Sears where the clothes were made of scratchy polyester and looked as if they belonged on old people. Because it was and, to some degree, is still acceptable to belittle those of us who are curvy, I was mocked which made me shyer and shyer. 

Nowadays, there's greater awareness of body image and how damaging shaming is, but that hasn't stopped strangers from continuing to make comments. The worst was a little boy in the grocery store who came up to me a few years back and declared loudly, “I've never seen anybody as fat as you!” His mother just stood and said, “Now, Jimmy, you shouldn't say that” (if my kid ever said anything like that, I'd drag her out of that store pronto and we'd have quite a talking to!). I dug my heels in as the child stared at me and a crowd gathered. “Honey, people come in all shapes and sizes and that's okay,” I said, still mortified. (What I should have said was, “You're a rude little shit who should learn from friggin manners!”)

I've lost weight and gained it back, lost it and gained it – yo-yo dieting they call it and, as I said before, doctors have learned that it damages the body severely. At the moment, I'm heavy again, this despite eating right and exercising. I'm tired - of dieting and fed up with the criticism. That day, a few years back, I realized HOW MANY YEARS I'D SPENT HATING MY BODY! More than half a decade! And I resolved to stop.

 I looked in the mirror, at the body that's born one child and nurtured another, and realized: I'm beautiful no matter what my weight!

It's an attitude that's served me well. Every day I look in the mirror and celebrate my curvy body. I've joined Facebook groups and subscribe to pages that publicize healthy images, no matter what the number on the scale says. And when my husband looked at me as I was eating a small bowl of barley with milk the other day and said, “With what you're eating, shouldn't the pounds be melting off?” I stared back at him in all honesty and replied, “I like the way I look.”

There are those who will see me this Summer at the beach and shake their heads at my voluptuous body in my bathing suit.  To them I say, 

“It's my body and I'm happy. 
 If you don't like it, don't look!”

Monday, May 16, 2016

Three Products I LOVE (And One I Do NOT) - Product Reviews Ahoy!

Okay, readers, I have not done product reviews in a LONG time, so today is the day! Check out my assessments below of some stuff I have around the house!

Yogi Ginkgo Clarity Tea

Yogi Ginko Clarity Tea is delicious!

I am not a big herbal person, but I'd heard about the alleged properties of ginkgo (read more at WebMd here). What attracted me to the package of Yogi Ginkgo Clarity Tea, however, was that it allegedly supports memory. Hmmmm....I can always use help in that department. 

This tea has a sweetness that makes it perfect for hot or on ice. Since it's decaffeinated, it's appropriate for drinking all afternoon since it won't interfere with sleep. 

And does it help my memory?

 I think so! I definitely notice a difference when I'm drinking it versus when I'm not.  This is my go-to drink, especially during the Summer.

Jack Links Turkey Jerky

Jack Links Turkey Jerky is great for you and your kids.

When I think of jerky, I think of chewing on rubber tires. Other jerky I've tried was so chewy it actually made my jaw ache. Not so with Jack Links Turkey Jerky!  Okay, so there were a few pieces that were on the tough side, but overall, it has a pleasant texture it is DELICIOUS! At 80 calories per serving (three in the package – of course, I ate the whole package) and 13 grams of protein, it's a great snack to have in the house and is a must-have in your emergency kit. My daughter loved it, too, so I'm keeping some in the car. 

 Fresh Step Kitty Litter

The ONLY kitty litter I'll buy!

A few years back, I cashed in any favors I had with the hubby and asked for a cat (I really wanted a dog, but a canine just doesn't fit in with our lifestyle right now). While Cosy is the family pet, since she's mine, I take full responsibility for the litter box. I tried the cheapie brands of litter and they are a total waste of money (except when you need traction in the snow - keep a bag in your trunk during the Winter).  I've also tried the new pricey crystals which are supposed to be soooo absorbent that they last the whole month. Bullshit! The crystals smelled like the cheap litter and, when the cat treks them on the floor, THEY HURT TO STEP ON (think tiny Lego, parents)!

Fresh Step Litter NEVER SMELLS even though the litter box is in the family room where any odor would be especially apparent.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've forgotten to scoop the poop, but even after four days, there's no odor in our room. Fresh Step is the only brand I'll be using.

Cosy, my kitty litter user.

So those are my favorite brands of late. I'll be reviewing products at least once a week, so stay tuned.

Now, do you agree with my reviews? Feel free to disagree!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Generic “Playground Aide”? I Don't Think So!

Everyone is justifiably applauding teachers this week. Most go above and beyond the pittance they're paid, dedicating their personal time and often dipping into they own budgets to provide what schools will not or cannot. Similarly, classroom aides work hard to assist their students and mentors in making sure kids are happy and learning. 

One rank of the school system everyone overlooks is me: the playground aide. Low on the educational food chain, my peers and I come in for an hour or two every day to supervise recess, allowing teachers and classroom aides to have their well-deserved lunch. NEVER acknowledged, most of us aren't even known by name. Most kids refer to us as “the aide” if they're talking to someone about us, as if we are generic.

So what does a playground aide do?

Playground aides are important in keeping kids safe!

First and foremost, we protect your children from:

  1. Outsiders who may be innocently walking their dogs,joggers working out, and/or predators who “wander” onto the playground during outdoor recess.

  2. Themselves as they run after balls, stand under basketball backstops, and unintentionally chase each other into the woods or into parking lots. 

  3. Parents who think they can just come on over to recess to say “hi” to their kids forgetting that the kids are the school's responsibility during the day. These parents mean no harm, of course, but recess is an important part of a child's school experience. It's important that parents not interfere with their kids' social opportunities. 

  4. Each other as we referee squabbles and are on the constant look-out for bullying. 


We get to know your kids as individuals and in groups. We see who they hang with, how those groups interact, and who is most likely to be left out (it can vary from day to day).  We also talk with kids when they are alone, ascertaining whether the kid WANTS to be by him/herself or someone has excluded them (exclusions are addressed quickly). Arguments are taken seriously and talked about with the parties shaking hands or with an understanding nod; if a disagreement cannot be resolved, I send both kids to the school counselor for further consideration. Name calling and bullying are NEVER tolerated. 

My co-workers and I try our best to protect kids against injuries, but, unfortunately, they do happen. Kids carelessly bump heads, basketball players fall in the heat of the game, little ones trip over curbs and fall down walkways when the sun gets in their eyes. My peers and I wipe tears as we guide children to the nurse. Truth be told, WE get injuries too; I'm reminded of this as I look at the scratches I got yesterday trying to rescue a ball from the rosebushes. I'd rather get wounded getting a ball than have a kid get hurt (worst case scenario: the ball stays in the patch of poison ivy). 

While some aides look for reasons to blow their whistles at the kids, I take the motherly approach to being a playground aide: I look for and praise the good in children. Helpers are rewarded with praise, cooperation is copiously thanked, smiles are free and easy. A handful of children take the time to ask my name, wonder if I'm a mom, and tell me about their day. With one eye on the others, I beam at these kids: they make my heart sing! If I see these kids with their parents around town, I take the time to introduce myself to their parents and tell them how incredible their children are. 

So why take on such a humble, low-paying, often thankless job? Because it allows me to contribute to the family financially while still being at home for my younger daughter. I'm on her schedule, never far away and even if she's sick, I'm only away from her for an hour or two. My humble little salary helps pay for snacks, contributes to fundraisers, and allows us to splurge on the occasional ice cream cone. Plus, I LOVE being around kids, even for an hour or two until my own come home. 

Yes, to most of the kids, I am an nonspecific “aide,” or babysitter. To many of the parents, I'm usually a peon who “forgot to remind Jimmy to put on his jacket” (truth is, I reminded Jimmy several times, but I'm not wrestling your little darling into his overcoat on a 75 degree day). To the school administration, I'm a required-by-law body who allows the teachers to get some rest. But to a special handful of children, I'm a friend at recess when their peers abandon them, a protector, and there when they need someone to talk to. And those kids, who know my name, know I'm not generic at all. 

Thanks for reading!!!

Monday, April 25, 2016

How To Talk With Your Teen – Who Won't Talk With You

Ah, teenagers! You've got to love them, or else you'll kill them. My mild-mannered little boy who could chat up a storm hit puberty and his vocabulary began to dwindle, at least when it came to me. I get it. I'm his mother. I'm “annoying.” And as puberty has progressed, he's become a hot bed of embers, just waiting for something, or someone to inflame him.

Teens can be challenging to talk with!

So how can you talk to a teenager, whose hormones are raging and is under tremendous pressure from school, etc.?  It's not easy, and there's no guarantee you'll have a civil conversation, but here's what's working for me:

  1. Keep topics neutral. Talk about a movie or television show he likes, how his video games are going, if anything interesting happened at school today. Go on his school's website and discover what he's studying, then strike up a conversation about one of those topics.

  2. Take advantage of car time. At minimum, I drive my son to and from school. We talk about the weather, other drivers, interesting cars we see, houses we'd love to live in, the news, and, at night, what people might be doing in their houses. Yes, it's superficial, but it's conversation nonetheless.

  3. Invite them down for a snack and let them speak first. Your daughter might be more willing to talk if you're just sitting there reading or doing stuff in the kitchen. The point is to BE there just in case they need to talk. 

  4. Once they do start talking, don't interrupt.  Let them take control of the conversation. They're like butterflies; you don't want to scare them away.

  5. Just listen. Don't try to fix a problem unless asked. As parents, we want life to be easy for our kids and we offer unsolicited advice. Sometimes a kid just needs a sounding board. Lend an ear, not a tongue.

    Listen to your teen - let her do the talking.

When Junior was in the living room last night playing his clarinet, I complimented him on his playing. “Mom, I know you're just trying to be nice, but I find your comments ANNOYING. I know you like to hear me play. Leave it at that.” Message received. Lesson learned.  No offense taken.  

Tonight, as we drive to the Mall for something he needs, I'll surrender control of the stereo. He likes to plug his phone in and share his music with me. It's not my taste, but this is not about me. It's about him knowing that I'm there and being open to who he is. Hopefully, when the he wants to talk about the complicated stuff (girls, drinking, etc.), he'll remember that I'm here for him.

I know he needs me.  He knows he needs me.   All it takes is a little conversation – on teen terms.

Please note:  1)  I am not a health care professional.  I am a mother, trying to minimize the amount of therapy her kids will eventually need.  2)  The photos above are courtesy of Pixabay.com.  



Thursday, April 7, 2016

How To Help Your Teen Through A Cold

I remember when my elementary-aged son stayed home from school with a cold. I'd check his temperature every few hours, make him lots of tea, and we'd cuddle in my bed for hours watching TV.  He was all gooey, needed, and wanted mommy-loving. I was such a meticulous nurse that my husband would sleep in my child's room while I tended to my patient around the clock, even waking up to feel my child's forehead. I obsessed about how much he was eating, drinking, and peeing. Although at that point, I no longer needed to count pee-pee diapers, I did take copious notes just in case a doctor's visit was required.

Ahhh, those were the days!

Fast-forward as my now 15-year old recently complained of being hot and cold on and off, huddling under blankets in the den. Clearly, he had a virus. As I tried to baby him, it was outright rejected! In fact, he looked at me as if I was insane.

I get this look from my teen whether he's sick or not...

My nursing approach had to be modified from when he was little. But how? 

I took my cues from him. My patient basically hibernated in his room, where he spends most of his time anyway, whiling away the hours on his iPad, too sick to even sit at his computer to talk with his friends. The armpit I checked his temperature under is now a hairy mess and I was once again, cognizant of how he's a boy in an almost-man's body.  He needed me, but in a different way. 

 Here's what worked for me in getting this changling over his cold:

  1. Persuade, not order. Again, this is NOT your baby in the sense that you cannot order them to do something unless you have the strength to overpower a 100 pound plus teen. “Take this medicine” does not go over well with the members of this tribe. “You probably need to take...” or “this pill should make the pain go away” is a better approach.

  2. Provide them with lots of liquids, but don't nag them to drink. Reminding them that fluids are key to getting better saves your breath, since they tend to dig their heels in when you try to force them to do something they don't want to do. Remember: They know it all. We're idiots. Umpteenth reminder: the ordering ship has sailed.

  3. Take their temperature judiciously, preferably when they're sleeping. Advance with the caution you'd use with a wild animal.

  4. Take the team approach when trying to get them to go to the doctor. I said to Junior, “You're probably going to have to go to the doctor tomorrow;” this caused a MAJOR argument. “I won't go and you can't make me,” he yelled. He was right. WE needed to come to an agreement.  It ended with us agreeing that if his fever wasn't down, he'd go. I then knew that if he had the energy to argue, he wasn't as sick as I'd thought.

  5. Let them make mistakes. Mister Know-It-All went to school earlier than I advised and was sent home because he felt dizzy (nah nah nah nah nah). 

    Teenagers are moody as is.  They're worse when they're sick.

If the kid had been REALLY sick, he would have been more pliable and we'd have been to the doctor sooner, rather than later. I mean if they're suffering enough, they'll let you seek medical attention. And if I thought he was in any real danger, I'd have hauled his butt to the doctor, even if I had to take his iPod and have him chase after me to get it.  But this was a simple cold

Teenagers are precious. They're also hurricanes, changing moods every three seconds! Difficult as they are well, they can be even more trying when they're sick. Ditch the babying approach when they're sick, employ some of the strategies above, and, hopefully, your surly spawn will be back to their adolescent self in no time!

What works when your stubborn child is sick?   

Please note:  the images above are from Pixabay.com.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Naggings As Old As Time - Momisms

As I wandered the grocery store this morning, my eyes focused on a stunning woman accompanied by her preschool son. In passing, I caught snippets of their conversation, with the boy asking his mom for something and then her reply: 

“But Honey, every time I buy you something you think you'll like you never eat it.”

 “MY GOD,” I thought. “THAT'S MY LINE!”

Same basic mom, different day

I continued to listen as the mom listed what her son had asked for in the past (the list was LONG) and how the food had gone bad. She talked about how much food they waste and what a shame it was. I caught her eye. “Been there, done that. I completely understand.” She smiled back, validated.

I'm betting that for centuries, mothers have been giving the same lectures to their kids, with only minor variations. Can you identify with any of these “Momisms”?

  • “Honey, I asked you like five times before we left if you have to go. NOW you have to?!!!”

  • “I don't care if all the other parents in the neighborhood (tribe, school, temple, church, caravan, commune, etc.) let their kids do it. I'm your mom and I say NO.”

  • “Your sister (brother, pet, our furniture, rocks, our chariot, etc.) is not food. Don't bite it!”

  • “Try it (the new food). If you don't try it you'll never know if you like it.” (Sidebar: I had to coerce my kids to try pizza. PIZZA!)

  • “Stop yelling/screaming/talking so loudly. You're giving Mommy a headache.”

    Kids have probably been hearing the same stuff from their moms for centuries.

  • “Go to bed. NOW. Not in 5 minutes. NOW!”

  • “No, you cannot have a pet (cat, dog, rodent, yak, elephant, snake, etc.). Why? Because I'll wind up taking care of it!”

  • “Get back here and stop running around. NOW!”

  • “You kids are so spoiled! Back in my day....”

  • “Don't make me get up!”

    Kids have probably been ignoring Momisms just as long, too!

  • “I don't care who started it, YOU stop it!”

  • “Where do you think YOU'RE going?!”

  • “Someday I hope you have a kid exactly like you!”

These Momisms are much easier to take when you're not uttering them.  And kids are a lot easier to take when they're not yours (although other people's children aren't NEARLY as lovable as yours!).

I listen to moms with toddlers and think, “Been there, done that.” I talk with other mothers of teens and ask, “Is this normal?” And I seek the advice of mothers with older kids to get a handle on what's coming up. 

The scoldings, the phrases are as old as mothering. But my favorite “momism”?

I will always love you - no matter what. 


Thanks for reading!

Please note:  Most of the photos above are courtesy of pixabay.com. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Claff's.com: Family Life Never Looked So Good

Disclosure: Products were provided to me for reviewing purposes. In fact, I asked for them. But the opinions expressed are my own. Positive reviews cannot be bought here, folks.

Claff's pieces are substantial, frame-worthy works of art!

Jennifer McLaimtaig is one talented photographer, so I was delighted when she offered to let me choose some of her products to review. Her website, Claffs.com provides “grace words and resources to encourage family life.” Perusing her site, her images of children and family are so poignant, they actually brought tears to this mom's eyes. Most of them are accompanied by quotes from the Bible and there, my friends, was where I was momentarily stumped: I am not a particularly religious person (no offense to those who are). Would this watered-down Unitarian find anything she liked? 

Fortunately for me, there is plenty of wisdom here that is not Scripture-based and it touched me.

I just CAN'T relegate these pieces to the fridge!

Claff's contains some lovely cards, photographs, magnets, and posters that are patriotic (quoting from the Star Spangled Banner), self-affirming, and comforting for even the most secular visitor. The
captions cue us to be present for our children (meaning, to me, that I should put down my blasted cellphone and pay attention to my kids). They admonish us to “eat well, move well.”


In other words, this website provides inspiration everyone can relate to.

My prints arrived wrapped beautifully tied with bow and even though they were meant to be hung on the refrigerator, I couldn't bear to do so! I don't stare at my refrigerator (IN, yes, AT, no), so I was determined to find other places for them. They deserved more than just a glance in the kitchen. This art is frame-worthy and flexible decor As I speak, one print adheres to the brass fireplace grill in my living room (I'll remove the item before I light a fire). The other is propped up on my dresser as a reminder that taking care of myself is not selfish. I look at that one when I first wake up and just before I retire for the night. 

A Claff's piece on my fireplace

Claff's products would make perfect Easter, Passover, Mother's Day, and just “I appreciate you” gifts. 

The images are lush, the words well-chosen. Whether you're religious or not, you'll find very special wisdom at Claffs.com.

Same Disclosure:  I was compensated with merchandise so I could write this review, but it is an honest assessment of the materials.  

Friday, March 4, 2016

It's The “Yeast” You Can Do: Truenature Cranberry Supplement

I am NOT an herbal-type of person. I take a daily multi-vitamin and THAT IS IT.  But recently, when I had a recurring yeast infection that defied three rounds of medication, I figured, “What the hell? Before I pay to go to the doctor for an exam (very expensive), let's go the cranberry route.” 

Cranberries have been known for years for their medicinal properties - photo courtesy of Pixabay

Native Americans in North America used extracts from cranberries for treating urinary conditions, bladder problems, to increase urine flow, kill germs, and reduce fever. I grew up with science verifying these cures, soI figured it couldn't hurt to try cranberry for a yeast infection. Forgoing the cranberry juice cocktail route (too much sugar), I started mixing unsweetened cranberry juice with water, bu that upsets my belly. So on one of my hunting-and-gathering forages into Costco, I perked up when I saw 

Truenature Cranberry Supplements

Truenature Cranberry Supplements

At a price point of about $18 for 250 capsules, I bit the bullet and bought it. The directions said take 1 caplet with water at each meal, but I was in a rush to get rid of the damn infection, so I took two caplets twice a day. Within 24 hours I felt better; the pain and itching was all gone AND the supplement did not affect my stomach. 

According to WebMD.com, “drinking cranberry juice regularly increases the amount of salicylic acid in the body. Salicylic acid can reduce swelling, prevent blood clots, and can have anti-tumor effects.” 

So even if the softgels didn't cure my yeast infection (maybe it was residual from the medication I was on?), I'm going to continue to take Truenature Cranberry Supplements. If it can help keep me from suffering from a UTI or yeast infection, plus render all the benefits WedMD says it can, it's worth taking. 


Thank you for reading!  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Allow Your Child THIS Teachable Moment – How To Deal With Not Being Invited

“Sydney is crying,” my friend told me. Sydney is not my friend's daughter, but one of her child's classmates. Sydney had not been invited to a sleepover and her mom was upset with my friend. “I just don't have enough room in my house for everyone we want to invite,” my friend explained. Still, Sydney's mom was pushing hard for her daughter to be invited even though lots of kids had not.

Not being invited conjures up lots of unpleasant emotions

Feeling left out is disappointing. It often brings up feelings of not being good enough, forcing someone to ask “What's wrong with me? Why was I left out?” Obviously, this is an experience no parent wants their child to endure and many, like Sydney's mom, intervene to spare their child's feelings. I've written in the past how I received an email from a mother basically saying, “I invited YOUR child to my kid's birthday party; you HAVE to invite mine to yours.” And while I understand that parents feel the need to advocate for their children: 

coddling like this prevents a kid from learning one of life's most basic lessons: 
you don't get invited to everything. 

So what can you do when your child doesn't get included in an event?  Explore the possible reasons why they were left out which probably have nothing to do with them.  These reasons may include issues such as:

  • Space - As with my friend above, her house simply isn't big enough to accommodate everyone they would love to invite.
  • Family – Some parents limit events to just family.
  • Budget – Parties are expensive resulting in guest lists being limited.
  • Social – These include your child simply not playing with a kid anymore or politics (if we invite Caitlyn, then we're obligated to invite her sister because that's Caitlyn's parents' rule).

Ironically, in my experience, the kids often handle these issues of non-inclusion better than the adults. Recently, someone handed out birthday party invitations in front of my daughter. She was not invited. I asked why she had not been and she shrugged, “She's having a video game party and knows I don't like them.” To her, it was no biggie. 

Kids often handle not being invited better than their parents do!

It's important to teach kids that “you can't always get what you want.” 

They need to be able to deal with this disappointment gracefully, without parental interference. My friend stuck to her guns and as sad as Sydney is, if her mom handles the situation right, the child will grow from this experience. 

For more guidance on how to help a child cope when they're not invited to something visit:

  • This CNN article entitled “When Your Kid Isn't Invited"
  • This article from Huffington Post entitled “Sorry, You Aren't Invited: A Practical Guide to Children's Birthday Party Guest Lists”

How do you handle it when your kids aren't invited to something?  

Friday, February 26, 2016

5 Ways To Celebrate Leap Day 2016 (It's THIS Monday)

This Monday is special – after all, it's only every four years that there's a February 29! Yes, 2016 is a leap year in which an extra day is “added” to keep us in sync with the solar calendar (aka the time it takes the earth to make a complete orbit around the sun). While we think of a year as being 365 days long, it's actually 365 and ¼ days long. Thus, to even it all out, an extra day is added with this Monday being The Big Day.

 Here are some suggestions on 
how to celebrate this Leap Day:

  • Try something different. This is an extraordinary day, so why not do something out of the ordinary? Nibble on a new food, bust a new move (in the gym or any place), speak to a new person, try your hair a different way, learn a new word, etc.

  • Make this Leap Year Cocktail.

  • Write a letter to yourself that you'll open in four years, outlining what you'd like to accomplish in that brief span of time. Better yet, write a letter to your kids that they can open in four years!

  • Check out this Leap Year Trivia. 

  • Do something that you probably should do every few years that can be accomplished in a day, like paint the front door, clear out the attic, or purge those old papers.  

    Jump into this Leap Day by doing something different!

Special days beg for something extraordinary. Deviate from the norm just a bit, for one day. You'll be happy you did!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Why Teens Should Be At Your House & How To Make It Teen-Friendly

The volume is deafening.  Think sporting-event loud. Nine teens are squeezed into my tiny den playing video games. They laugh, yell, and the occasional curse word invades the air. They're having a ball! Better yet, my son (somewhere in their midst) is beaming. This happens almost every Friday night – a gathering, dinner, late departures. My husband, getting tired of the cost to feed this pack, asked, “Why are they always HERE?” Answer:

We WANT The Teenagers At Our Place!
Here's Why

You WANT Your Teen At Your House!

  1. At this age, your kid is largely who his peers are. Without the intimacy of grammar school and the connections you make on the blacktop, you don't know who your teen is hanging with, who he's influenced by. Actually SEEING and meeting these people is invaluable. You can get a sense of what a kid is like, especially if you hang back and surreptitiously watch and listen to them interact.

  2. When friends' parents pick up, you get a chance to meet and chat them up. Getting a sense of someone's family values is important and will make you feel easier when your kid goes over their house.

  3. You can get a sense of how those friends treat others. Junior's little sister will sometimes hang with the teens for a bit (until I call her out). We've had boys make fun of Lily and treat her roughly (push her out of the way, etc.). I was not happy and made sure that my son stood up for his little sister in the future. Conversely, there have been friends of Junior's who have offered to play with Lily, helped her with homework, and been quite kind to her. I LOVE those kids!

  4. It gives your child a chance to act the role of Host which is important socially. Responsibilities include offering friends drinks, snacks, serving dinner, and seeing their friends out with the polite “thank you for coming.”

  5. It's rewarding. My kids have more friends than I ever had at this age. These are people he sees at school and chats with online. In some ways, they're an extension of our family.

There have to be rules for when Teens (or anyone) visits

Now, in order for these gatherings to happen, I've set some Ground Rules

  1. I have to know, in advance, approximately how many people are coming. This is a practical thing since I need to know how much food to have on hand. I've put out 5 bags of chips and found them gone in 10 minutes. These kids can eat!

  2. There has to be a set departure time. We've had kids come and leave way too late, to the point where either my husband or I had to stay up just to keep an eye on things. That doesn't happen anymore.

  3. Junior know he has to clean up as soon as his guests depart.   That means vacuuming the den, cleaning up errant plates, cups, etc., and taking out the kitchen garbage. 

  4. When my daughter is around, the boys CANNOT curse. Yeah, once in a while a forbidden word flies out, but most kids are immediately apologetic. 

So HOW can you make your house 
Teen Friendly? 

  1. Give them space. I wish we had a dedicated space for them, but we don't. So they gather in the den and I basically leave them alone. They don't want me in there except to deliver snacks and I respect that.

  2. Have LOTS of snacks and drinks on hand. Paper cups  and plates are a MUST and if you don't want to wash bowls for snacks, buy some disposable aluminum baking pans. 

  3. Make dinner simple. We go through frozen pizza like it's water. Other popular dishes include macaroni and cheese (CHEAP!!!), pasta, and tacos made in the crockpot.

  4. Keep your Wifi password handy. They're going to want to log into your Wifi – place it on a piece of paper so they can pass it around. It's easier than repeating it ad nauseum.

  5. Limit sibling interference. Lily can hang with them for about 5 minutes before I usher her from the room. 

There's nothing better than seeing my teen (this is not him) happy!

Having a group of teens over is loud, messy, and ultimately, a lot of fun. These gatherings create wonderful memories for my son and I cherish the smile on his face when I see him with his friends. Best of all, I know what he's up to when he's home. 

Our kids grow up in the blink of an eye. Cherish your time around them and BE the place they want to hang.

Thanks for reading!