Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Safety

Tag Halloween Party Wrought Iron Pumpkin Stand, 10.625" TallSo this weekend is Halloween.

It's a holiday that brings to our stores a plethora of individually wrapped candy and strange costumes.


Don’t even get me STARTED on the costumes by the way! When did every costume for women become “sexy?” I mean, the WHOLE female costume section is full of short skirts and misplaced cleavage! “Sexy French Maid?” Okay, I’ll accept that. But “Sexy Nun?” That’s just WRONG! And this year they‘ve introduced “Sexy” Sesame Street Characters? Is this a sign of the apocalypse? Or just seriously bad taste?

But I digress.

I was talking about Halloween and its accompanying precursors. Like many holidays, it also brings to magazines and internet postings a bunch of health and safety advice.

3M 198 Scotch Reflective Tape, 1 in x 40 in RollMost of the advice makes sense: Put reflective tape on your kid’s costume, and/or make them carry a flashlight. Make sure your child’s costume isn’t too long so that they might trip. Don’t let them wear a mask that obscures their vision.

And in case you’re a complete moron, they’ll offer you this tidbit of wisdom: If your child’s costume includes a cutting-type weapon, make sure they carry a fake knife, not a real one.

Why THANK you, Nickelodeon parentsconnect.com! I’d better call Junior inside right now and snatch that Ginsu from his little fist! Crisis averted!

But I’ve also seen some downright BAD Halloween advice.

Here’s a quote from the heath editor of a popular magazine:

“I don’t like to give out unhealthy things like candy at Halloween. I prefer to give stickers or other small nonfood items. The kids are always pleasantly surprised when they see my ‘treats’.”

Oh yeah? And are YOU “pleasantly” surprised by the gifts of rotten eggs and T.P. you receive later in the evening? Good plan!

And here’s another cheerful headline:

"Let's make our own candy! It's easier than you think!”

Sure! If you want your stuff to get tossed into the trash by the trick-or-treater’s parents as soon as they get home. Knock yourself out!

Another blogger I read (tbd.com/blogs) talked about an article advising people to never take their children to an unfamiliar neighborhood to trick-or-treat.

His argument: How else are they going to get good candy if they live in a neighborhood full of old people and/or helath nuts like the magazine lady above? I have to agree.

And of course, every article says to inspect your child’s candy and discard any unwrapped or “suspicious-looking” candy.

Now I do this myself, mostly because it also serves the purpose of allowing me to skim off the good stuff as my cut.

Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar, 1.55-Ounce Bars (Pack of 36)What? I feed, clothe and house these kids all year! I’m not entitled to a measly fun-sized Hershey bar (or two) once a year?

By the way, as much as I’ve heard rumors of poisoned Halloween candy and/or razorblades in apples on Halloween, I’ve never seen any of this actually documented as truth. So I did some research on it.

Okay, I checked snopes.com.

That counts as research in this day and age, I think.

Poisoned candy passed out at random? (www.snopes.com) Nope. Never happened.

But the razorblades in the apples? Actually true! (www.snopes.com) Although most of the razorblades were planted by the kids themselves before they “discovered” them and showed them to the horrified parents, or by older brothers and other pranksters.

Besides, what kid would eat an APPLE when he’s got a pillowcase stuffed with sour patch kids and kit kats? You save those apples to throw at the healthful-hander-outer’s home later!

Not that I’m advocating such a thing.

But anyways, with all this advice floating around, we should all know how to be super safe on Halloween!

Now to go comb through my kids’ candy…..

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel-Writing Month

So November is National Novel Writing Month.
Yeah there really is such a thing. I did not make it up.

The challenge is to write a novel (defined as 50,000 words) in thirty days, starting on November 1st and ending on November 30th.

The idea of the whole thing is: Everyone works better under the pressure of a deadline.

As any student who’s ever stayed up all night to finish something that’s due at school the next day can attest!

I first heard of this NaNoWriMo thing last year from a friend who’s done it before. It sounded cool, so I thought I’d try it. I signed up and began, but I wasn’t at all sure I could complete it.

As I told my friend at the time, my biggest obstacle is that I’m an abysmal typist. Oh, and I have five kids.

Both things were definitely challenges. Because I did not take typing in high school like my mother told me to (She was right again! Grrr…) I am essentially a quickened-by-practice hunt-and-peck typist.

I high school I was more interested in saving my electives for really important classes like drama and choir. What can I say? I was a teenager!

Brother 3010 Correction Tape for Daisy Wheel Typewriters (2-Pack)So I don’t type all that quickly, and I make a LOT of mistakes. But that’s the beauty of the word processor, right? I don’t have to break out the correct-tape (remember THAT stuff?) in order to fix my excessive amount of typographical errors.

And as for the problem of trying to concentrate on doing something creative while five kids try to distract me… well, that’s obviously a REAL challenge!

Although I did manage to write the 50,000 words by the deadline last November, the novel wasn’t actually finished for several more months.

But I did feel like I had accomplished something.

So I’m going to try it again starting on Monday.

Anybody want to join me?

Click on the link below to read more about it:
http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Celine Dion... and me...

So I read that Celine Dion has been hospitalized to prevent premature delivery of her twins. I assume this is just being put on bedrest, except inside a hospital.

Being put on bedrest is something I was completely terrified of when I was pregnant with twins myself.

Well, that and dying. Actually I wasn’t the one afraid of that, though. Medical school seemed to have given my husband a little too much information about What Could Go Wrong in a Multiple Pregnancy.

Actual conversation between me and my husband from that time:

Me: (looking at his paystub over my giant belly) Hey, they’ve got spousal life insurance on here. I thought we decided we didn’t need that and you cancelled it?
Him: Oh, yeah. I thought I did that last year.
Me: Well, you’d better call them and cancel it again.
Him: (long pause) Well…maybe I’d better leave it for now.
Me: What? Why?
Him: You know, just until the twins are born.
Me: Until the twins…. Hey WAIT a minute! You mean in case I DIE?!?!
Him: I’m just being practical.

Well, it was nice to know that he had the bases all covered in case I kicked the bucket.

But anyways, I was more afraid of going on bedrest myself.

I mean, with three other kids to take care of, I don’t see how bedrest would even have been POSSIBLE. I can’t even go on CHAIR rest around here. As soon as you sit down someone wants something! I can barely read two sentences in succession of a book before I‘m interrupted.

Although I remember years ago a friend whose (single) baby was threatening to come prematurely had to go on bedrest for NINE WEEKS. And she had a preschooler and a toddler at the time!

And (unlike Ms. Dion, I’ll wager) my friend had to do it without the aid of any nannies, maids, nurses, et cetera. All she had was relatives, and lame friends like me to bring a casserole and a paperback once in a while.

But she stuck it out, and that baby is healthy and in the third grade now.

Now THAT is a supermom!

Although I do sympathize with Celine; I’m pretty sure bedrest is no fun no matter how rich you are. It would drive me nuts with boredom, personally. And I hope her twins will be born as healthy as mine were, rendering all the worry before their birth unnecessary.


But of course they’ll take good care of her at the hospital.

Clown Wig, Multi-colorAnd maybe she can hire someone to keep her from getting too bored. Maybe a clown? A comedian? Or a tap-dancer?

Or maybe she’ll just be stuck watching bad TV with the rest of the world…

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've Been Edited... to DEATH!

I submitted a story to Reader's Digest a few months ago, and they published it!

YAY!

Except they edited most of my story out. I'm serious. I think the editor used a blowtorch to cut my story down.

I know, I sound like those disgruntled actors who say their best work ended up "on the cutting room floor." Like editors are out to get them or something. But I'm starting to sympathize with them a little now.

Just to let you know what I mean, here's the story I submitted:

When my husband and I were first married
in the early nineties, the Army had us
stationed in Germany. One of our favorite things
to do was to go to the movie theater on post.
Since this was the only theater in town that
showed movies in English, it was popular
among many of the soldiers and was often crowded.
When the movie Forrest Gump came out we
went to see it right away. The theater was full of
single soldiers in a rowdy group. I was concerned
that they would be disruptive during the show,
but they all quieted down during the film,
until the scene when the main character
graduated from college. Onscreen, as Forrest walked
out of the ceremony, he was met by a recruiter
who handed him a pamphlet about joining the Army.
Unable to hold his peace, one of the young soldiers
in the theater jumped up and cried, “Run, Forrest, RUN!”


Okay. Not the FUNNIEST story EVER, but not too bad, right?

Here's what they printed:

My husband and I were watching Forrest Gump
at the base theater. The crowd was pretty quiet
throughout the film, until the scene when Forrest
graduates from college and is met by an
Army recruiter. That was met with a shout
from behind us, "Run, Forrest, Run!"

Forrest Gump [VHS]Seriously. THAT'S what they printed. On page 66 this month.

Is it just me, or did they cut the funny right out of this story?

Assuming that it was ever funny in the first place....

Not even MENTIONING the fact that I was cut down from 157 words to less than 50 (Okay, I DID mention it. So sue me!), and that in the Army it's called a POST not a BASE (making me look like a moron who doesn't know her terminology!), I really think the story is not funny anymore after the editing.

But hey, it's been published, so why am I complaining?

Except, I'm wondering where's the check they promised me.....

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is There a Special Virus for Redheads?

So, we’ve got two sickies in the house right now.
And both of them have red hair.

Yesterday, Baby Boy wasn’t interested in eating much. Even when there was cake and ice cream. (We were at a birthday party.)

Then when we got home in the evening he threw up in the kitchen.

This resulted in the flurry of activity that always happens when a toddler throws up: trying to get the kid and the area cleaned up before he/she makes it worse by walking through the puddle, and without getting too much vomit on anyone else.

These problems are compounded when you have twins: that means there’s automatically another toddler ready to tramp through the mess, smear it around, and/or drop toys in it.

Also Baby Boy was crying hysterically because he’s still too little to understand why his stomach is involuntarily throwing its contents out. It’s a little scary when you’re two years old.

Anyways, as soon as we got him cleaned up the other kids started up with the, “My stomach hurts too.”

Hmmm. Sunday evening tummy aches. Could this feeling of illness have anything to do with the imminent threat of school Monday morning?

But I guess it turns out one of them actually meant it, because after the girls were in bed, GG called from the bedroom, “Boo’s barfing!”

Both of them seem to be better today, but it does seem odd that the illness only struck those two kids, out of the five.

Is it the Curse of the Red-headed Virus?

Could be. Those two do share an uncommon bond.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

What is a Harried Mom?

Okay, so yesterday I was looking for images that exemplify
my life as a mother, so I googled "harried mom."

Yeah. that's how I'd describe myself.

You disagree? Check the archive.

This one is a cartoon I drew myself years ago for a mom's group I was part of.



Most of the images I saw on Google didn't make a lot of sense, honestly.

It was like, did you UNDERSTAND my search words?



Could that woman look LESS like a harried mom?

But this one was more like it.


It's from cannedfood.org, if you can believe it.

And then there's this one:



The description, from gettyimages.com, was a little too specific actually.

She's described as:
"30-34 Years, Northern European Descent, Southern European Descent,
Domestic Kitchen, Standing, Sitting, Carrying, Working, Mother"

Wow.
Well, actually I think that kind of sums it up, as I feel I am also simultaneously
standing, sitting, carrying AND working much of the time.....

And just for fun:
 I really like this one, called the duct tape babysiiter.

Not that I'm advocating such a thing...





That duct tape can do anything I guess!





Saturday, October 16, 2010

Parenting Wars: Is it Homeschoolers vs. The Rest of Us?

Ty Beanie Babies 2.0 Fletch Cover Dog (Laying)Recently I have been reading some blogs about homeschooling and the choices parents make in that regard. It seems homeschooling is everywhere now; it’s the IN thing to do or something. Like it’s the new pet rock, or beanie baby.

Now don’t get your dander all up; I’m not belittling homeschooling! Obviously it’s a good choice for many families. I’m just pointing out how I keep hearing about it.

Okay, are you all settled down now, or did that make it worse?

All right, I apologize for the beanie baby comment! Can we move on?

100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child's Learning StyleI read a blog post from a homeschool mom about things other parents say to her. If you're interested in the post in its entirety, click HERE (But if you just want to keep reading, I'll sum it up.)

This blogger was talking about the questions she gets asked because she chooses to home school her kids. (i.e. “Don’t they need socialization?” “How do you have the PATIENCE for that?” etc.) She seemed rather offended by these questions, as if the people who asked were passing judgment on her for being backward or repressing her children somehow.

Well, I don’t homeschool my kids, and I will tell you that those questions are crowding into my mind every time someone says they do.

How DO you have the patience and organizational skills to pull that off?

How do you even know what to teach? I would be totally lost.

What ABOUT socialization skills? How do the kids learn to get along with other kids in the real world?

(I‘m just being honest here. Don‘t kill me, y‘all.)

And what is the reason behind all these questions, you homeschool moms ask? Is it because I, who send my kids to (gasp) public school think that you, who (gasp again) keep them home, are making the wrong choice for your child?

No. No it’s not. Because how can I know what is the right choice for someone else’s child?

Am I passing judgment on you for choosing to homeschool?

No, of course not! Far be it from me to pass judgment. (Except on my blog, ha, ha.)

Motherhood Poster 27x40 Uma Thurman Anthony Edwards Minnie DriverAm I simply shrinking in horror at the thought of having kids home ALL DANG DAY?

Well…maybe a little bit….

Then I read another blog about parenting choices that kind of hit the nail on the head for me.
It’s about how we all have our insecurities as parents, and it’s always hard to be sure you’re doing the right thing for your child. (Again, if you want to read the whole thing, click HERE)

Basically, every time I hear a parent who makes a different choice than I do, I am forced to re-examine my own choices. Even when I’m pretty sure I’m doing the what’s best for my child.

It’s annoying; I don’t like to admit it. But there it is.

As soon as you say your child wasn’t learning well in public school and he is doing so much better at home, I think you’re saying that I’m a bad parent if I feel mine is okay in public school.

And, yes, rationally, I know that this is not the case. I do realize that not EVERY conversation is about ME. (Really!  I do!)

But that’s how it FEELS.

So that’s why we non-homeschool parents seem to be judging you homeschool parents with our pointed questions.

Because we think that YOU’RE judging US!

Isn’t that ironic?

Now…can’t we all just get along?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pet vs. Pet, Part Two

Goldfish in Bowl mousepad, mouse pad, mousemat [Office Product]It’s not an easy thing, being a pet in our house. Apparently it’s kill or be killed around here sometimes.

When I wrote about our kitty eating one of the mice the other day, I forgot to mention that we had a fish too.

It’s not too difficult to forget about fish. As I’ve said before, they’re The Most Boring Pets on Earth.

We have a fish because one of our neighbors moved and couldn’t take their fish along, so the kids begged until I agreed we would keep it.

This is not the first time this has happened to us. A few years ago we ended up taking a whole tank full of fish from a neighbor who was moving away.

That time, however, I feel I was ambushed. The conversation went like this:

Neighbor: So we’re moving in a few weeks. When do you want me to bring the fish tank over?
Me: What?
Neighbor: The fish tank. When do you want me to bring it over?
Me: What?
Neighbor: Remember, you said you’d take the fish when we moved.
Me: When did I say that?
Neighbor: When I asked you. Remember?
Me: What?!

By the way, the kids were present for this conversation, so just imagine them in the background like a Greek chorus, chanting, “The FISH, the FISH, we’re going to get the FISH!”

Now, in my neighbor’s defense, I guess it’s possible that I HAD agreed to take the fish and was subsequently (a) hit over the head with something large and heavy, or (b) abducted by aliens and had my memory wiped. Or that I just had a case of “mommy brain” and genuinely forgot.

But I don’t think so.

I kind of think I was ambushed.

But anyways, the kids were excited about the fish, so we got them. It turned out they were Betta fish, the kind that you’re supposed to keep separated or they’ll kill each other.

You’ve seen these things in the pet store, right? A whole shelf full of tiny bowls with one solitary fish floating in each one, like fish isolation chambers. It’s a little creepy, isn’t it?

Highlander: Director's Cut 10th Anniversary EditionThe pet store guy had told me that if you put two Betta fish together they would fight until one of them was dead. Like that movie, The Highlander. Remember, “There can be only ONE!”

But this tank had six or ten of the little buggers all together.

My neighbor said it was okay, that they never fought because there was only one male and the rest were females. Which made sense in a way.

Once they got to my house, however, it was a different story.

Maybe it was the trauma of having their tank moved, or maybe my house really IS a dangerous place for pets, but that single male suddenly went on the attack. He was like, “I don’t care if you ARE a bunch of girls. You’re going DOWN!”

Disney Finding Nemo fleece throw blanketOne by one the fish started dying. I never saw any actual fighting, but every once in a while you’d see one of the fish swimming around with half a fin torn off.

And there was the one who cowered next to the filter all the time, perhaps trying to work up the courage to make a break for it, Finding Nemo style. All drains lead to the ocean, right?

Eventually only the male was left. And I guess he liked it that way.

But back to the current fish, the one a neighbor here in Hawaii bequeathed to us.

The fish is named Angel, by the way, although it hardly matters. I don’t think any animal care LESS what name a human gives it than a fish.

Anyways, I’d been noticing recently that Kitty has been showing a lot of interest in the fish bowl. Not really a good sign for our little friend Angel I think. Remember what happened when he took a shine to the mouse cage…

(If you've forgotten what happened a little while ago in the cat versus mouse game, click HERE.)

You can probably guess where this story is going by now, right?

Plastic Fish Bowl - Drum - 2 1/2 GallonToday the kids asked me where the fish was. Apparently, his bowl was in its regular place on the counter, but Angel was nowhere to be found.

As best we can tell, Kitty strikes again.

There can be only ONE!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

What to do Today?

Calendar Grid/ Sky Kaleidoscope Paper (Creative Cafe)Right now it’s fall break. So my kids are off school all week.

That means they’re at home. ALL of them.

ALL DAY LONG.

So far, everyone’s still alive. Which is good news.

We’ve been looking for things to do all week out of the house to keep the fighting and the “I’m BORED, Mom!” down to a minimum.

But to day I had a repairman coming (the toilet again--don’t EVEN ask!) so we had to stay at home all day, and find things to keep us occupied around here.

The kids were outside when the repairman arrived, and he made a comment about how kids still enjoy mud pies that I didn’t quite catch. I was more concerned about the toilet, to be honest.

Which, by the way, was required to be removed from the floor again. What the HECK are people flushing around here? I can’t imagine.

But in a few minutes I looked outside and found out what mud he was talking about.



Yep. That’s my daughter, actually submerged in a mud puddle the SHE CREATED with the use of two hoses!

The girls had a fabulous time playing in the mud until I called them in to clean up for lunch.



You’ll notice the mud here is as red as Alabama clay. It’s not what you’d expect in Hawaii, but the area where we live is called Red Hill. The dirt is red here, but on most of the island it’s regular soil, or else sand.

It stains as bad as Alabama clay too.

Here’s Boo trying to look remorseful over the mess she created.



I guess they were just having too MUCH fun!