Saturday, June 30, 2012

Why I Like Power Outages

OK so I know power outages are causing trouble and headache for folks across the country.   They cause food to spoil.  [Hint:  Call your homeowner's insurance company and they'll probably cut you a check for that.]  The damage that caused the power outage also likely caused damage and destruction and sometimes death from injury, extreme heat, extreme cold or failure of medical equipment.  Yikes.  I almost don't want to go forward with this post.

But forward I will go into that dark night.

We've had power outages for days on end, both in the winter and summer months. All times, I've pretty much enjoyed it.  Yes, I've had people call me crazy, poke fun at me, mock me, torment me [ok not that last one] but I stand by my emotions.  I {mostly) like it when the power goes out and here's why.

1)  It's quiet.  Real quiet.  Not 'real' as in 'very but 'real' as in 'genuine.'  Genuinely quiet.  The kind of quiet that these days in America, you have to go into a cave to hear.  It's a little unnerving at first.  Where is that hum of electricity?  But then.... it's calming.  You hear birds and animals outside.  This is what the world really sounds like.  It reminds me - this is nature's world and we're just living in it.

2) It's dark.  Real dark (real = genuine, again).  I now know what my house looks like at night without its makeup on.  I am reminded of what people mean by 'light pollution.'  I don't have the neighbor's spotlight shining in our window.  It's soothing.

3) It's hot.  I don't mind being very hot as long as I can stay hydrated.  You get used to it.  People all over the world have to be very hot their whole lives. It reminds me that this is how the world really feels.

4) No TV.  No Internet.  Smartphones until they die.  Again, back to basics.  To *real* reality, without the luxurious modern conveniences that we 'love' but leave us wondering - do I need it?  Am I controlling it or is it controlling me?  When you can't turn it on, the answers to those questions become more clear.  We read more.  We talk to our neighbors more.  We tell more stories and don't rely on power to help us connect.

5) I feel spoiled.  Is this a good thing?  Yes.  I believe it's good to be reminded of those things in life that we take for granted that many in the world do not have that could benefit them.  I appreciated my access to refrigeration, and air that keeps me at a comfortable temperature, and devices that keep me engaged and informed of the world.  When they turn back on, I think - I'll try to appreciate them more.

6) I feel sad.  I think about my friends in Togo where I lived 10 years ago.  In so many ways, electricity would benefit them.  Keeping vaccines and medicines at the right temperature.  Light to help children read and study by at night.  Electricity for devices that would connect them to the world so they would know their dictator was not god.  I'm happy to be reminded of Togo even if it springs from sadness.

That's why I like it.  Call me crazy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How To Not Lose It With Your Kids

How could anybody ever get upset at this angel?  
Let's be honest here.  Sometimes your kids will drive you to the brink of insanity.  Like take about two seconds ago when Ivy announced - "I have to go potty!"  So I say "Well then go potty!"  (She's 4 and has been potty proficient for a year.)  "I have to go potty!  I have to go potty!" accompanied by jumps and hops.  "Just go!!!!" I say {shout}.  "Light on!  Light on!"  "You know how to turn the light on! Just go!"  "Mama I have to go potty!"

Do you get my drift?

I won't replay any of our more hair-pulling-out moments.  Sometimes I really feel like I'm going to lose my cool.  Actually, it's getting hot in here is more like it.  Here are a few tips for not totally losing it with your kid:

1) Take your "I absolutely don't want to do this parenting technique" thing off the table from day one.  We took spanking off the table before Ivy was born.  Therefore, it's not an option.

2) Just walk away.  Some people may call this "count to 10" or something.  Whatever you call it, unless danger is imminent, let the moment hang while you be somewhere else.  Everything can be resolved when you feel like coming back.

3) Learn to let go of some things.  Ask - In the scheme of things, does this one annoying or undesirable behavior really matter??  My child won't eat vegetables.  We've decided not to have a battle of wills about that one.  She won't die from lack of vegetables. I don't want her to have memories of us fighting over food at the dinner table.

4) Read books about what to do.  Be an active, informed parent.  There are people who write and do research about this stuff and - gulp - know some stuff to help out us in-the-trenches parents.  You may not agree with it, but at least read something and go from there.  I've gotten some great ideas from 1-2-3 Magic and Scream-Free Parenting.... like not allowing your child (or spouse's) behavior to control your emotions, using 1-2-3 timing, and using a timer to ensure chores get done.

5) Think about what your parents did and what you see other parents doing, and evaluate - do I want to do that, or do I want my kids to have a different experience?  Act accordingly.

6) I do not advocate yelling but admit that I sometimes yell when other techniques seem to not be working.  Some people use a 'pop' as an attention getter.  I use a yell to mean business or to grab attention.  Sometimes I'm still not louder than the kids are being.

7)  If you do lose your cool - do something you regret - be human to your child and apologize for it.  Not the "I'm sorry I yelled but you deserved it" apology but the "I yelled at you and I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that."  Next time the situation arises, maybe you'll take a different path you won't have to apologize for.

8) This may be the hardest of all, but try to get on the same page as your spouse.  I have no insights about this other than to continually discuss it.  Even if you talk about it before you even have kids, each parent brings their own opinions and baggage to the table and you have to always examine and unpack it, plus decide and agree on common approaches to be consistent.  It's tough.  Kids are brilliant.  They will take any gaps between their parents and exploit them!

9) Look at your child as they are yelling 'no' at you and remember how much you love them.  If it helps, have a 'happy time' that you replay in your memory when the going gets though and they have told you 'no' or not listened to you for the one millionth time this hour.

10) If all else fails... well, I've never gotten to this point personally but if steps 1-9 aren't workin' for you, reach out and get some help.

<3 mb

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Ivory Soap Trick

GASP - I actually did something with the kids that I saw on Pinterest!  And.... drum roll...It was pretty cool!  I was advised that it will ONLY work with Ivory soap.  One of the main ingredients in Ivory soap is water so perhaps that is why this works. 

From this....                                                     To this!
Easy peasy steps: 
1) Get a bar of plain white Ivory soap. 
2) Place on a paper plate in the microwave.
3) Microwave for about 1 minute.
4) Look what happens scroll down to see the video and please excuse my dirty microwave)!  

The result is kind of like a hardened flaky dough.  We tried to mold it and cut shapes out of it with cookie cutters.  It worked OK... we made a few pretty little leaf shapes.  Maybe if we had nuked the soap in chunks and taken it out a little sooner, the whole cookie-cutter idea would have worked better.  I bought a 10 pack of soap so we'll try that next time!

<3 happy soap nuking!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Pain Relief Trick And 5 Steps To Not Poisoning Your Child

I am not a doctor. I do not play one on TV. This is not medical advice. But my kids have seen doctors a lot and have had lots of fevers.

Do you know the  acetaminophen/ibuprofen trick? I've had healthcare providers ASSUME that parents know about this trick and not explain it. If your healthcare provider has told you about this, great! If they haven't and you're interested, ask them at your next visit. Basically you alternate the correct dose of acetaminophen with ibuprofen every 4 hours to keep a child's fever down. It works great. Learn about it here.

We've used this technique ever since we learned about it, through countless ear infections and viruses.  But you have to make sure to keep the medications separate and track when you give the medicine so that you don't wind up giving too much too often, or double-dosing the same medication too soon.

When I bought acetaminophen this weekend, I was shocked at how similar the bottles look. Almost the same color liquid, same exact bottles. One had the drug name clearly labeled, the other just says 'pain relief'. I could easily see myself mistaking one for another.  Here's my suggestion for not accidentally overdosing and keeping on track:

1.  Take a sharpie and clearly label the BOTTLE and the LID with the medication's name.  I for ibuprofen (Advil), A for acetaminophen (Tylenol).    Be CAREFUL with this.  I recommend using the drug name and not the brand name.  Notice how Advil and acetaminophen both start with A.

2. Write down the exact TIME you give the first dose and the NAME of the medication you gave and make a ____ mark for checking off.

3. List out the next 2-3 TIMES the medication can be given, along with the NAME of the medication.

4. Check off the dose when you give it to the child.

5. Make sure that any other caregiver administering the medication knows and follows the steps.

Best of luck and hope everybody gets to feeling better soon!

<3 mb

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {Baby Beth}

This is a beloved doll from when I was a little girl.  I named her Baby Beth.  She has aged just about as well as I have.  We both show the wear of lots of love, and we're both now putty in the hands of my little kids.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Way Back Wednesday

I don't think this picture needs an introduction.  It speaks for itself.  It's our sweet girl from around 5-8 months old.  I still remember trying to gather enough hair for a bow, mostly from the back because she had so little on top.  It's hard to believe this little girl is 4, helping her brother learn to use the potty, getting her clothes out and dressing herself (even the socks!), writing her name, and astounding her teacher like yesterday when she answered the question "How do seeds get planted?" by saying "The wind blows them around."  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our Quirky Neighbors, Part 2

Our magnetism towards quirky neighbors has continued in Richmond.

It all began the first night we moved in.  I went outside to the car at night to get something to eat, and a teenage-looking boy was outdoors too getting their trash can.  I said - "Hi!  I'm your new neighbor!" and he proceeded, in a fake British accent to say something like "Why hello good lady.  It is a great pleasure to meet you!  Best of luck to you and safe and happy driving!"

What a lovely greeting!

Recently somebody hit our mailbox (see above picture).  I went over to his house to inquire whether they had seen or heard anything when our mailbox got smashed.  Guess who answered the door.  "No I haven't seen or heard anything weird outside.  I see a lot of weird things inside my house."  Imagine him saying this in a creepy Lurch-from-the-Adams-family kind of voice.  His brother and his friend (both clearly high) stopped by later to give moral support to our neighbor-friend kindly fixing the mailbox.  "Good job, man!" they both echoed.  "Hey, did you know I'm a nurse?" he asked me.  Then he peppered in some disparaging comments about how much doctors sucked.  "Oh yeah?" I asked.  "Where do you work?"  Now I know where I will likely never go for health care.

Their dad openly carries a gun.  Even while he mows the lawn.  The other day, we saw him outside and Hubs said he at first mistook him for his son.  "Ahh you're funny!" he laughed.  "If I had my gun right now I would shoot you!"  Ha ha ha.  We all laughed.  

Their mom occasionally sits in the car and listens to loud music for a while by herself.  (Who could blame her?  Sometimes I want to do that too.) 

There is a lady down the street whose sweet daughter used to walk our dogs.  I will take partial responsibility for this debacle.  We can trade quirks on this one. In a nutshell, I called the pound to come get her dog.  But the dog was roaming in the street, had no tag and I was scared it was sick.  I was basically a superhero and saved its life.  She didn't see it that way, and her daughter shortly decided to stop walking our dogs.  

Well, the other day I saw the same dog again, roaming the streets.  I am not about to let any dog get killed needlessly.  So I went up to her door (kids in the backseat still) and rang the doorbell.  Then again.  Then she walked right past the glass door, past me, ignoring me. 

Oh, it was ON.  

I rang-rang-rang.  Then knock-knock-knocked.  Loud.  I could see her standing in the kitchen, clearly ignoring me.  Then I started yelling - YOUR DOG IS LOOSE.  JUST THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW.  Finally she opened the door (not for me, but for the dog who was finally on the porch.)  

Me:  "You should really answer your doorbell when somebody rings it like that." 

Her:  "I'm taking care of my daughter!  She was in the ER last night."

Me:  "I'm sorry to hear that.  I understand but I was just trying to help you."

Her:  "No you DON'T understand!"  {closes the door}

Me:  "You're welcome."

I love each and every one of you.  Let your quirk flag fly!

Free Crown Craft from MyMemories!

What kid doesn't love a party crown for their birthday, or maybe just a crown to be a prince or princess for the day?  These crowns are sure to be a big hit with both the boys and the girls (I know my kids will love them!).  

If you have the  MyMemories Suite Software , you can now load the freebies directly into your Software and then completely customize them with any paper and embellishments that you have.  You can add pictures, age, or whatever your imagination comes up with!

If you don't have the software, you can still download the sample project and the elements, but you will not be able to customize the crowns.

Use my code to get $10 off this awesome software and a $10 gift certificate to the online store!  STMMMS40533


Friday, June 1, 2012

10 Free Android Game Apps for Toddlers Worth Downloading

I am so resistant to getting an iPhone it's not even funny.  Please don't defriend me for that last statement and any related statements against iPhones hereafter.  

I have an Android phone and love it. specifically, we have the G'zOne phone which is GREAT for toddlers because it is virtually indestructible (they did NOT pay me to say that). However, I am IRRITATED that every list of "best apps" I see are all apps you can only get on the iPhone. ARGH!  Another mark against the iPhone!  Exclusive holier-than-thou well-designed beautiful technology monopoly-wanna-be-take-over-the-world peanut heads.  And your commercials are so irritating.  ANYWAY. 

So, here is MY list of the best apps available on Android for toddlers.  Because I have a toddler and a little person who was recently a toddler and loves my phone.  And most are FREE because I refuse to pay for apps.  Please add your reviews and faves!

They are kind of in order by worthiness of having.

Toddler Lock
  1. Toddler Lock - FREE. Age:  from time a child can grasp and move one finger.  There are no ads and it 'locks' the phone so your toddler can't accidentally order hundreds of dollars in crap!  The music is tinkly and not annoying, and the child gets to draw with their finger and watch as colors and shapes appear and fade.  Has never crashed.
  2. Blast Monkey - FREE.  Age:  3+.  Very fun game where you have to shoot a monkey out of a cannon so he can get the bananas.  Increasingly difficult levels.  No annoying sounds.  
  3. Where's My Water - FREE.  Age:  3/4+.  A Disney app where a dinosaur tries to find water, in various levels.  Probably for slightly older preschoolers; our 4-year-old says it's kind of hard.
  4. Angry Birds - FREE.  Age:  3+.  The classic game of catapulting birds to kill pigs who stole their eggs.  A crowd pleaser for kids of all ages, it seems.  Though kind of violent.
  5. Where's My Water?
  6. Find It! - Classic version.  FREE.  Age:  3+.  Compare two pictures and tap on where they are different!  Our daughter loves these types of games.
  7. Coloring book type games.  FREE.  Ours is just called ColoringBook.  It has a lot of pages to choose from, lots of colors, minimal ads, and you can upload or email the finished product very easily.  
  8. Memory Games - FREE.  There are a variety of these.  Just pick one or two and try them out.  It seems that the more downloads doesn't mean anything, but the rating usually is reflective of the quality.  We have Hello Kitty and a Princess one.  I wish there were more high-quality ones with lots of options. 
  9. Puzzle Games - FREE.  Also, there are a variety of these.  Just search for 'puzzle' and your child's favorite character or thing.  We have a princess one that is pretty good.  Some allow you to choose a picture from your phone and turn it into a puzzle!
  10. KidMode - FREE.  Age: 3+.  It has a variety of games and videos your child can choose from.  For us, this was a little complicated, took a lot of space and memory, and often crashed, just making our little one upset.  But if you have a lot of free space on your phone it may work better.
  11. Ant Smasher.  FREE.  Age:  2+.  The ants come out and you smash them with your fingers!  Kinda gross but also fun.  Just like toddlers! 

Our phone.  The G'zOne

We tried the FREE version of Cut the Rope - But the ads are full-page REALLY annoying.  Friends have recommended the 0.99 cent version.  I will suck it up soon and do that but there is something WRONG about putting your credit card # straight into a phone.  I also would love to put an animal noises one on this list but I simply haven't found on that we've downloaded and liked enough to keep.  They have been slow, crashed a lot or had too few animals on them.  Would love advice! 

<3 mb