Monday, December 31, 2012

50 Books in 2012!

Well, I did it! I met my goal of reading 50 books in 2012. Since getting my Nook a few years ago, I have really rediscovered my love of reading. Turns out I'm not actually too busy to read, I'm just too lazy to go to the library! So, armed with the internet and an e-reader, I have been re-experiencing as an adult the obsession with reading I had as a kid.

I use to track my books - I love how I can keep a list of books I want to read. I also tag books that they carry at my local library, so that when I do get off my lazy booty to go get real live books, I know which ones they have. I also like to tag books according to how I found out about them - a friend, message board, review in a magazine, browsing a bookstore, etc. If anyone wants to follow my reviews or friend me there, my profile is

Goodreads also keeps track of the books you read and how you rated them, so here are my 4-star and 5-star reviews from 2012. To me, a 5-star review means that I loved it, couldn't stop thinking about it, and couldn't wait to get back to reading it. Also that I think most people would enjoy reading it. A 4-star review means that I really liked it, couldn't wait to finish it, and I think most people that like the same types of books that I do would enjoy reading it.

So here we go!

5-Star Books
*Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford
*Dreams of Joy, by Lisa See
*The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
*The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
*11/22/63, by Stephen King   

My favorites here were The Fault in Our Stars and The Night Circus. Both beautifully written, original books. The other 3 happen to be historical fiction, and I loved what they taught me about the time period, as well as enjoying the story.

4-Star Books
*Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling
*Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks
*The Girls, by Lori Lansens
*Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
*The Weight of Silence, by Heather Gudenkauf
*What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty
*The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
*Matched, by Allie Condie
*Room, by Emma Donoghue
*Sister, by Rosamund Lupton
*Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
*A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness
*Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
*The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
*Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
*The Soldier's Wife, by Margaret Leroy
*The Lost Wife, by Alyson Richman
*The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker
Even as I'm typing these out, I'm second guessing so many of my ratings. It's hard for me to differentiate between 4 and 5 star books. My favorites from this list, the 4.5 star ones, I guess, would probably be Year of Wonders, Gone Girl, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, The Language of Flowers, Rules of Civility, and The Age of Miracles.

And I do want to do a disclaimer here that I have a low threshold for violence and gore in books, but a pretty high threshold for language, and non-graphic sex scenes. So there are books on my list that I would consider R-rated, for those who are sensitive to those types of books.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Family Fitness Challenge, Part 2

Two years ago, I posted about the first round of the Fitness Challenge my family was doing. Since then, we've done several rounds, and modified it a bit. I think the round we just finished was either our fourth or fifth, and we've tweaked some things each time. So I thought I'd do another post about the changes we've made, in case anyone is interested in doing something like this with their family.

The basic set-up of the challenge has pretty much remained the same. Everyone pays in at the beginning to a Paypal account (usually $30-$40 per person, per round). Then we track daily and weekly points, and the winners at the end split the money. We've done the challenges anywhere from 7 to 10 weeks. In my opinion, 8 weeks is about perfect.

Here is how we do our Healthy Habits points:

Daily Points
*5 servings of fruits/veggies: 2 pts.
*No eating within 2 hours of bedtime: 2 pts.
*Check in with partner via call, text, or Facebook: 2 pts.
*48 oz. water: 2 pts.
*No treats: 2 pts. *You are allowed 1 SMALL treat (the size of your thumb or smaller OR 100 calories worth) per day without losing your 2 points *A treat is defined as candy, cake, cookies, chocolate, pastries, ice cream/frozen yogurt. You may have a reasonably-sized piece of cake on a family member’s birthday or wedding without it counting against your points. Whole fruit popsicles and jello are allowed and not counted as “treats.”*You are allowed one "free day" per week where you can have a treat without it counting against you
Total Daily Points Possible: 68 (10 per day, times 7 days, minus 2 for the "free" treat day)

Weekly Points
Minimum 100 min. of exercise during the week: 10 pts.
Each additional 30 minutes of exercise: 1 pt. (up to 5 additional points)
Weight loss: 1 point for each tenth of a percent of your original weight lost each week, rounded to the tenths place (so if you lost .25% of your original weight in one week, you would get 2.5 points).You can't lose the "same weight" twice, so you have to drop below your previous lowest weight in the challenge to earn weight loss points.

We have a private Facebook page set up to track points, chat, share recipes, etc. We report our points there each week, and on a spreadsheet I set up through Google Docs. At the end of the challenge, we usually have 1-3 overall winners, and 1-2 winners for just straight weight loss. This time we also had a participation prize, just for someone who tracked points all the way to the end, but wasn't one of the leaders.

I have really come to love our Family Fitness Challenges. It's fun to have the moral support of my family members, and it's a fun way to get to know family members who live far away. Not sure if I've left anything out of my description here, but if you have any questions, just leave them in the comments!

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Humble thanks, as both a parent and a teacher

On Friday night, like so many millions of other parents across America, I sat on the couch in front of the Christmas tree with my husband and sobbed, my heart broken for the children who died in Connecticut, violated in one of the places where they should have been safe. I felt this tragedy in my gut on so many levels - I am an elementary school teacher. I am a parent of a Kindergartener and a first grader. I work every day with students classified as "Emotionally Disturbed." I couldn't even figure out where to begin my grief, or what to pray for. What could I do? "I guess," I told my husband, still sobbing, "I just start by walking back into the classroom on Monday."

We start by continuing to trust each other, to believe that there is good in the world, and to be a force for that good. We start by being brave, for refusing to live in fear, for promising to look for and assist those who aren't getting the help they need. And we start by going back to school.

As a teacher, I want to thank the parents of my students. Thank you for sending them back to me tomorrow. Thank you for entrusting them to me. Not just tomorrow, but every day, both past and future. Not just their physical safety, but their emotional and mental well-being and growth. I am humbled by that responsibility, humbled by your trust that I will keep them safe, that I will teach them what they need to know, that I will protect their emotions and their innocence and help them to grow into happy, smart, and well-adjusted adults. I feel a new responsibility to the career I have chosen, a new calling to honor it. Thank you for trusting me.

As a parent, I want to thank the teachers of my children. Thank you for walking back into the classroom tomorrow. Because I know that each of you, like I did, stopped to think if we would do what those teachers did if it came to that. And by walking back into the classroom on Monday, I know that is your promise to me that you continue to value and treasure the solemn responsibility of being a teacher.

It's going to be hard to let my little ones walk into their classrooms tomorrow. I've spent the weekend holding them, breathing in the smell of their hair and their skin, pulling them into my lap for extra snuggles. I don't want to let them go into the world, where they're not with me, and I can't control what they see or hear. But I will. I'll squeeze them extra tight, pray for them, and walk back into my classroom on Monday.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Recent Reads

Remember when I was going to blog about the books I've been reading?  Yeah, so obviously it didn't happen. I mean, I wanted to, but.... Here's the reason I'm not a very good blogger - I let really little things stop me in my tracks. I feel like a book review is worthless without a picture of the cover. And last time I did book reviews, I had to hunt down the pictures, copy stuff out of different tabs from Goodreads, blah dee blah. I'm so lazy. But anyway, tonight I noticed a helpful little button on Goodreads that was new to me called "Blog Your Review." So book reviews are BACK!

I'm still aiming for 50 books in 2012. Goodreads says I'm 4 books behind, but I might sneak in some YA quickies to catch up! Shhhhh.... a legitimate reader would care more about the literature than the goal, but my competitiveness will win out over, well, everything every. single. time.

I've been reading pretty great stuff lately. Unfortunately (fortunately?) one of them was my favorite book of the year, The Fault in Our Stars, and after reading that, nothing else seemed very good. I finished it a few weeks ago, and since then nothing can compare (2 U!).

So here are my latest reviews. I kind of hate it when book reviews on Goodreads spend all kinds of time summarizing the plot, so sadly, you'll have to hunt down the plotlines yourself, but these are my thoughts on my latest reads...

 The Soldier's WifeThe Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Though at times I found myself skimming over the descriptions of the beautiful Guernsey islands, I loved this book's description of Vivienne, a wife and mother who tries to find her way during the German Occupation of WWII. It was so easy to recognize myself in her relationship with her daughters, and I found myself wondering how I would react in the situations with which she was presented. Good moral questions, interesting characters, and rich relationships between then. I very much enjoyed this book and would read it again, even though it was a little bit slow at parts.

View all my reviews

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Started this book at 9:30 tonight. Started tearing up about halfway through. Started actually sobbing with like 100 pages still left to go, and didn't stop. Finished the book at 12:30am with red, puffy eyes and soaking wet sweatshirt sleeves. Not a spoiler, I hope - the book is about teenagers that meet in a cancer support group - you know it's going to be sad.

This was a heartbreaking, unflinching story about a teenage girl with terminal cancer. Her perceptions on how her eventual death will affect her parents about ripped my heart out. Her love story with Augustus is beautifully written. The characters are a little bit ridiculous in how they speak, in a Dawson's Creek, pretentious, wanna-be adult kind of way, but honestly, I grew up with some kids that talked like that, so it didn't feel fake to me.

I've thought a lot about how to write a love story, how to show in writing, that compatibility, that comfort, that perfect fit. And John Green's got it figured out. I loved the love story, loved the relationships of the two main characters with their parents, just kind of all-over loved it. One of my favorites of the year.

View all my reviews

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Gone Girl" is the story of a husband and wife with a strained marriage, which comes under scrutiny when the woman comes up missing.

I thought both main characters were well-written and believable, as was the disintegration of their marriage. I felt the issues they struggled with, and they way they handled them were believable. The plot kept me interested, and took twists and turns I didn't expect.

Part of me wishes I'd read the book earlier, before hearing that it was everyone's favorite read of 2012, because I think my expectations were a little too high. But I did enjoy it. I'd read it again if I came across it on vacation or something - and that is actually a compliment, since I really never re-read books. :) The book did have frequent strong language and swearing, so it's probably not for more conservative readers.

View all my reviews

The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a story going back and forth in time between the narrator, and the life story of the woman she is interviewing. I loved the woman's life story, but I felt that when the story when back into "real time" that it interrupted the magic. Overall, not a favorite. I finished it because I wanted to find out what happened to the twins, but I ended up doing a lot of skimming over the interviewing parts.

View all my reviews

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeTell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel like I'm missing something by not loving this book, as it's on so many "favorites" lists. I kept waiting for a plot point to suck me in, and it just never happened. I've read many other reviewers saying that they were sobbing throughout the story, and I didn't even get teary-eyed. Maybe I couldn't get into it completely because I read it over the course of a week or two, when normally I read books in a night or two, or maybe it was because I just read "The Fault in Our Stars," which seemed much, MUCH sadder to me, but for whatever reason, I didn't love this as much as everybody else did.

I liked the characters, I liked their relationships - I loved reading about the relationship between Greta and June. The storyline just wasn't very interesting to me, for whatever reason.

I wouldn't mind a re-read next year to see if maybe I like it better, because it sure seems like everybody else does.

View all my reviews

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How To Make Amazing Mashed Potatoes (just in time for Thanksgiving!)

Let's all take deep breaths and come down from Election Week with some comfort food, shall we?

So until I married my husband, I had no idea that people, like, ATE mashed potatoes for anything other than Thanksgiving. Did you know people just have them as a side dish for regular dinner sometimes? That's because they're actually super easy to make. Since my husband taught me his chef secrets to mashed potatoes, I am now the designated Mashed Potato Master at my house.

A note on deciding on the amount -  I go with 1.5 Russet potatoes for each adult if they are a side dish in a regular meal. If I am making them for something like Thanksgiving where they are one of many dishes, I go with just one per adult. This is plenty, with leftovers, but you never want to be caught running out of the mashed potatoes!

So here's how to make good old basic mashed potatoes....

Simply Perfect Mashed Potatoes
serves 8-10 (click here for printable version)
12 Russet potatoes
3/4 c. milk
4-5 T. butter, plus 1 T. for topping
2-2.5 t. Kosher salt (to taste)
1/2 c. sour cream

Peel potatoes and chop into cubes. Place into stockpot filled with cold water. Salt the water and turn on your burner to medium-high heat. Cook potatoes just until they break easily when pierced with a fork, like this:

Do not overcook your potatoes! You'll notice here that this chunk of potato isn't falling apart or anything - you don't want mushy, grainy potatoes here.

Drain potatoes in colander and empty into bowl of your Kitchenaid mixer. Use regular paddle attachment and turn on low. Measure out milk, butter, sour cream, and salt and add to potatoes. Turn up speed, and continue to mix. Stop periodically to scrape down sides of the bowl.

Mix potatoes to desired consistency. I like mine pretty smooth, like this:

Spoon into bowl, top with another tablespoon of butter, and serve!

This recipe is SUPER flexible. If you don't have sour cream, leave it out. Use any type of milk and sour cream that you have (I used skim milk and low-fat sour cream here since that's what was in the fridge). Just definitely don't use margarine - mashed potatoes deserve real butter! If you use regular table salt rather than Kosher, you may want to increase the amount a little bit, since Kosher gives you a little more bang for your buck. The amounts of all the ingredients are super flexible as well if you like a different taste or texture, and this is a good base recipe to add herbs, garlic, or whatever. The only thing I will say is that the secret to the delicious taste of these potatoes is plenty of salt. The salt is what brings out the flavor of the potatoes, so don't leave it out. Start with 2 teaspoons, and keep adding by the quarter/half teaspoon until they taste amazing. Don't go all the way to 3 tsp. of Kosher salt, though - that's a little too much (um, or so I've heard). Mmmmmmm..... now go enjoy some carb-y, comfort-food deliciousness!

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why I'm Politically Liberal BECAUSE I'm a Mormon, Not in Spite of It

It's somewhat of an anomaly to be an actively believing Mormon, and an actively voting Democrat, but we do exist. I've been asked, "How are you a Democrat even though you're Mormon?" I'm not politically liberal even though I'm a Mormon. I'm politically liberal because I'm a Mormon. The ideals and beliefs of the Democratic party align more closely with how I interpret and believe the doctrine of Christianity and Mormonism. In essence, we are here to take care of each other, to love each other, to worship how we would like to, but "allow all men the same privilege." I would rather over-serve than under-serve the needy, rather too much of my money goes toward helping others than not enough.

I'm not writing this to convince the other 90% of Mormons out there to vote Democrat. I know better. I don't know everything about politics, and I'm not going to go head to head with angry commenters. I'm just writing this in hopes of having my voice heard, so that maybe there are a few people out there who might think of "liberals" differently, more lovingly, more gently - maybe realize we're not so different from you. The leaders of the church constantly plead with the members to be civil with each other in the area of politics, yet I have been told by members that I should not have a temple recommend, should not hold leadership callings, and that I am amongst the "lowest of the low," all because I lean liberal politically. I'm serious - it's so ridiculous. Just.... be gentle. You use your vote, and I'll use mine, and let's just respect each other.

Here are the primary reasons I feel that the Democratic values and ideas align with my Mormon/Christian ideals:

There's a phrase most people are familiar with - a "bleeding heart liberal." This is how I would describe myself in every sense of the word, and proudly. Do I believe in taking care of others maybe too much? Yes, if those are the options. Jesus Christ taught us to love and take care of one another, and despite the flaws in the welfare system, that is what it's there to do. Is there abuse in the welfare system? Of course. But that's between them and God. But I believe that it is my job to give some of my material "wealth" to others so that they can make it through a tough time. I love these scriptures in Mosiah 4:
16 And also, ye yourselves will asuccor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the bbeggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
 17 Perhaps thou shalt asay: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
 18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
 19 For behold, are we not all abeggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

Yes, people abuse welfare. Of course they do. But guess what? Many people might view it as welfare abuse when a Mormon family accepts welfare so that the husband can go to school and the wife can stay at home with the children, when she is otherwise perfectly capable of working. Or when a woman drops out of college to get married at 19 because she believes God wants her to be a stay-at-home-mom. If you get to decide those things are okay for your family, then go right ahead - BUT you have to allow that other families are making the best choices for them, even if it doesn't make sense to an outsider, just like your choices might not make sense to someone else.

I don't believe that Christ would stand at the border between the United States and Mexico and turn people away. "Sorry, you were born in the wrong country. Bummer for your kids." No. And I definitely don't think that the Christ I believe in would spew the kind of hateful diatribes toward "illegals" that I have heard so many times from members of the Church.

Although I know that not every immigrant into this country is a good person, all the illegal immigrants I have met personally have just wanted a better life for themselves and their families, and I don't think we should be denying that to anyone. While my ultimate dream would be open borders, full amnesty for immigrants working and/or attending school would be a great start.

I think for many members of the church, this is where the disconnect lies - how an active member of the Mormon church can align with a political party that generally supports abortion and gay marriage. It is my view that when you choose to live in a country that is governed by a democracy, you are choosing a life where the morals of the country are governed by the majority. If the majority of this country feels that abortion rights and gay marriage should be protected, then I am fine with that. Just as I get to choose my set of morals, so does everybody else. Sometimes they coincide, sometimes they do not - and that's okay with me. I often think of the 11th Article of Faith here: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." If I want my vote on moral issues to be respected, I have to respect others'.

I whole-heartedly support health care reform. I don't believe that there is a perfect solution for a country the size of the United States. However, I do believe that everyone should be able to access health care, that people should not be denied because of pre-existing conditions, and that the President should be taking steps to actively change the way that health care functions in this country. Again, I believe this falls under the umbrella of taking care of our fellow man. No one should have to go without health care, especially children.

When we were young marrieds, we could not afford to pay out of pocket for the type of health insurance we needed to have babies. Without a trace of guilt, I signed up for a state program for middle-income families that allowed us to pay a percentage of our income for maternity and childbirth costs, and we were able to have three beautiful children. We also could not afford several hundred dollars for their private health insurance, so there was a period of time where they were also on state insurance. Do I regret using those programs so that we could have kids? No, not for a moment! And now that we're in a better place financially, I don't begrudge my income going toward state programs for other people. I believe that we should take care of each other.

 Obviously there are so many issues here I'm not even touching. But these are the issues that matter the most to me, and I appreciate you reading my thoughts on them. As we go into the election this week, and deal with the ramifications of it in the weeks, months, and years to come, it is my hope that we can all keep in mind the words of President Hinckley: "Political differences never justify hatred or ill will. I hope that the Lord's people may be at peace one with another during times of trouble, regardless of what loyalties they may have to different governments or parties."

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Easy Paper Plate Monsters

Sometimes I forget that even the simplest things are fun for kids.

My daughter wanted to do a Halloween craft today, and I searched through all the super-cute (and super labor-intensive) ideas online. I didn't have mason jars, I didn't have tulle or paint chips or anything.

Until I stumbled across a blog that had a paper plate ghost with streamers taped to the bottom. Ah, now I can rock a craft like that!

But my kids had other ideas... no ghosts were made after all. Here they are in full-on creation mode.
 And the finished product!
 My daughter's pirate.
 My son's Frankenstein guy.
 And then my 3-year-old made this portrait of her Grandpa Greg, complete with tissue paper hair only on the sides. But then she self-destructed and ripped that part off in a fit of rage and sobbing. No picture-perfect crafting at this house!
So, this isn't a please-Pin-me post. Just a little reminder to sit down and craft with your kids every once in a while. Even markers, tissue paper, paper plates, and tape can do the trick. Just let them create.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Fishie Birthday Party - 3-year-old girl

For her 3rd birthday party, my daughter who is turning 3 decided she wanted a "fishie party." So many cute possibilities! Since the party was only for two friends and some cousins, we kept things pretty low-key.

When guests arrived, they decorated some cardstock sea creatures and taped them to a posterboard "ocean." I also had a fishing puzzle out, and some ocean books. Intended to have the fishing game as well, but realized it was at the cabin. Oh well - that one always ends badly at our house anyway.

 Then we had homemade pizza in the shape of a fish, with pepperoni scales.

The  kids "fished" for the prizes in their goodie bags.

Snacks were Goldfish crackers and Swedish fish.

Then we opened presents and had cake. A fishie cake of course!

I also made little fish sugar cookies for the gift bags - I thought the little "3s" on the side looked kind of like fins!

  Gift bags - uber-professionally Sharpie decorated.
And that was it! Short, simple, and sweet, but my little 3-year-old was in absolute heaven. It was more than her little 3-year-old heart could have dreamed of.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fitness Review: Weight Watchers

Like millions of other women, I am constantly trying to lose weight. I've never been extremely obese, but always 20-30 pounds overweight. My most recent endeavor has been another try on Weight Watchers, so I thought I'd review the program for anyone who was thinking about trying it.

As most people probably know, the premise of the program is that each food has an assigned Points Value based on fat, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. You can either calculate the points yourself if you have the nutrition label handy, or they assign points for say, a flour tortilla, or a chicken breast. You are given a target point total to shoot for each day, and then you have additional "flex points" for the week, which can be evenly divided to give you more daily points, used for "splurges" occasionally, or not used at all. You can also earn Activity Points to supplement your daily points.

  • It helps me prioritize my eating. I am one of those who LOVE food. Having a set amount of points, rather than restricted foods, means that I need to decide if the food I am craving is really worth the points it will use up. I either have the points, or I don't. And if something is high in points, I need to decide whether I will cut back somewhere else, or do more exercise to make up for it.
  • Structure. For me it's nearly impossible to just say, "I'll eat better." This makes me track and record everything I eat, and make informed decisions about how I am going to allocate the points in my week.
  • No restricted foods. I'm not wanting to give up french fries or chocolate or Chex Mix. With Weight Watchers, I can have them, I just have to be smart about the quantities of my favorite treats.
  • Support network. Weight Watchers is a well-known program. At any given moment, I usually have a few friends and family members on the program, so that we can talk, exchange ideas and recipes, and support each other. There is also a HUGE amount of information online.
  • Online component. I track all my food, my weekly weigh-ins, and my measurements online. This works well for someone like me who is online all the time!
  • Under the newest version of their program, most fruits and vegetables are worth 0 points. This gives me an incentive to choose a healthier option, compared to something that might not be so healthy, but worth the same amount of points under the previous program.
  • Diet soda is 0 points. While right now I'm trying to keep soda consumption to a minimum, I love that there's a 0 point beverage other than water.
  • It's black and white. It leaves no room for emotional eating, or feeling sorry for yourself. You don't earn extra points for a crappy day at work, or a toddler temper tantrum. You can do your comfort eating, but you'll have to adjust for that down the line.
  • The price. I am doing what I believe is the cheapest option, which is only tracking my points online and not attending meetings, and it is still nearly $20/month.
  • Constant calculating. Breakfast and lunch are pretty easy for me, because I don't eat a really varied menu, but it's a hassle to be calculating recipes and food all the time.
  • Eating out. I love eating out, but it's difficult to calculate points. For most mainstream restaurants, you can find the points values of the different foods either in the WW booklets or online somewhere. But for local places, it can be difficult to estimate the points for your meal.
  • Their website, IMO, is horribly designed. I find the main website hard to navigate. I find the online tracker to be annoying, particularly the search function. Tonight I searched for "milk" and the first result was pudding made with skim milk, followed by buttermilk, followed by chocolate milk, before they finally got around to listing the points values of actual milk. This happens frequently.
 Overall, I really enjoy Weight Watchers. It helps me to be structured and accountable, while still giving me the flexibility to enjoy the favorite foods that keep me sane!

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Help Me" Monday: Touched Out

Photo Credit

So I feel like a jerk of a mom with what I'm about to confess. My kids are suffocating me lately. I try really hard to be a good mom, and the relationships I have with my kids are so precious to me. But because of how close we are, they're killing me lately.

All three of them want to be physically next to me at all times. All day long I hear, "I want to be by you, Mommy. Come with me, Mommy. I can't go to the bathroom without you Mommy! I sit on your lap? Can I style your hair? Mom, that was my spot! I was sitting by you! I don't want to sit by Daddy, only Mommy! No, Mommy do it!" I have three kids, and two hands. The devastation that occurs EACH and EVERY time we cross a street or a parking lot and there is someone who can't directly hold my hand is earth-shattering. The fighting that rages over who is next to me and who is left out is constant. They want to sit in my LAP during dinner (um, no). They want to hover on both sides of me looking over my shoulders as I check Facebook. They nearly come to blows over who sits next to me at breakfast.

It makes me want to whip around and scream, "COULD YOU ALL JUST STOP TOUCHING ME FOR FIVE MINUTES!?!!?" I find myself delirious with joy when I have to pee, just because it will buy me 90 seconds of personal space.

And then I'm wracked with guilt. My kids want to be by me (touching me, at all times) because they love me. And I adore them. But there is only so much physical contact by body can take. Am I a freak? Do other people feel like this? It's not having them around me - I love hanging out with them. It's the constant touching. Con. Stant. From when they wake up to when they go to bed, crying for me to please lay next to them (all three of them, simultaneously).

They're normally fairly independent, well-rounded kids with lots of interests and friends, so I'm hoping this is a phase. Maybe summer boredom? Nothing to do but lean into Mommy's lap to watch her read e-mail, while digging your bony elbows into my inner thighs?

So I need ideas. My kids are 6, 5, and 2. How do I talk to my them (particularly my older two) about personal space? I try to just say something like, "I need you to get off my lap for a little while and just sit next to me for a little while." That's not even really good enough for me and they still look like I just killed their puppy. I adore my children. They are my favorite thing in life. But my body can only take so much man-handling in any given day. Nothing I say to them has worked, so I need new ideas. Readers, come out of hiding and help me out here. I'd rather you didn't tell me how much I suck for feeling this way, though. Just tell me how to nicely break to to my kids that having a cumulative 115 lbs. of child hanging off my body for 12 hours a day is getting a little old and Mommy's going crazy. Thanks.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Special Dates

Growing up the oldest of 3 kids with a total of 3.5 years between us, nearly every memory I have of being little includes my little brother and sister. Screaming matches over what section of the silverware tray the medium-size forks go in, playing Barbie boarding school where there was always something wildly inappropriate happening, being held hostage at approximately 4 million of my brother's Little League games, staying up super late talking in bed, etc. But some of my BEST memories of childhood are special times that were just me and my parents.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change the chaos of having my siblings for the whole world, but it's hard to focus on one kid when you're in the middle of a child-raising maelstrom. Being the oldest and naturally the most exquisitely behaved, I often felt a bit lost in the shuffle.

For that reason, I have been trying to do special one-on-one dates with my kids. Nothing expensive, just some personal time away from the chaos that is our home life. I recently took my 5-year-old son to Barnes and Noble and as he was playing trains in the kids' area, I just noticed him. He has a beautiful profile. He has a freckle on his ear. He needs a little bit of a haircut. I felt like he was a newborn again, that time where your whole attention is focused on this child you created. He was so happy too, choosing which aisles we went down, how long we spent in any given section of books, leading me by the hand with this look of absolute joy on his face.

We were there for his free birthday cupcake, and as he ate, I asked him about his favorite thing from when he was 4. I reminded him of the fun things we had done, the trips we took, and all the big and exciting things I could think of. "Well," he said, "my favorite thing about being 4 was when you took me on my first special date to McDonald's." That was his favorite thing about his entire year.

I was again reminded of how important these times are to my kids this morning at my son's preschool Mother's Day art gallery, where the picture of me had a caption that read: My mom is special because she takes me on little dates.

Hanging out with your kids is so important. Listen to them. Hear them. Notice them. Make them feel special, because they are. They're not just one of your kids. They are their own little person, and you might be surprised at the stuff they come up with to say when it's just the two of you.

In our family, we actually schedule the dates with the kids. We alternate kids and parents, so we both get opportunities to go out with all the kids. So, the first time around it will be Kid 1/Dad, Kid 2/Mom, Kid 3/Dad, and then the next time it will be Kid 1/Mom, Kid 2/Dad, and Kid 3/Mom. We try to do two a month, so about every other week.

Here are some dates in the $0-$10 range that my kids have picked or I have thought of for the future.
  • Exploring Barnes and Noble, reading some books together, buying a book of their choice
  • Getting frozen yogurt
  • Walking around the mall and getting an accessory for their Build-A-Bear
  • Happy Meal and playing in the playland at McDonald's
  • Taking a walk together
  • Getting nails painted at the salon
  • Going on a bike ride
  • Flying kites
  • Playing at the park
  • Going on a nature walk
  • Doing the Saturday activity at Home Depot/Lowe's/Lakeshore, etc.
  • Going out for a bagel or doughnut for breakfast
  • Dollar movie
  • Getting smoothies
  • Go swimming
  • Feed the ducks
Any ideas to add to the list?

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Discount Codes for Hunger Games books! About a dollar each!

I came across a discount code for the Hunger Game e-book trilogy that is an AWESOME deal! It's from and expires March 31, 2012. Although, sometimes these codes go out of control on the internet, so if you're going to by them, do it soon!

The codes are  HungerGamesDeal2 for Hunger Games (ends up being 83 cents), HungerGamesDeal3 for Catching Fire ($1.16), and HungerGamesDeal for Mockingjay ($1.07). So you get all 3 for like $3!

I guess Kobo has their own e-reader, so it's not a file that will just automatically play on everything. It is an EPUB file, so if you check out books for a Nook, it will download to Adobe Digital Editions like the library books do. If you're trying to read them on a Kindle or iphone, check out Kobo and see what they say. You may have to download some sort of app or conversion.

I did buy these and they downloaded nicely to my Adobe Digital Editions, which I'll just transfer over like I do library books.


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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Motherhood Real-Life: I Hated Breastfeeding

(Gratuitous cute pic of my son I mention in this post. Because I hate posting without a pic. 
Plus, pretty sure I had just been nursing here - note Boppy pillow and scrunched up shirt.)

Yes, I am ready for the social backlash for that comment. I will preface this post by saying that I'm in no way trying to argue the fact that breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, the best thing for a baby. I'm not trying to negate the fact that it was the most precious time you had with your baby. I'm not trying to rub salt in the wound that you desperately wanted to nurse and couldn't.

I'm just saying. I hated it. This is tantamount, I think, in today's mommyland, to my saying that I don't make my kids eat what I made for dinner. Inconceivable! But I don't think it does new mothers any favors to pretend that everything is sunshine and rainbows. Not everybody loves to breastfeed. Not everyone even likes it. Nursing caused me to feel overwhelming anxiety and resentment toward my baby. And I'll be honest, I'm selfish and a control-freak, which further complicated the situation.

Here's the thing. I tried to love it. Everyone loves it. And even if you don't love it, you at least stick with it for the good of your child and their health. That's what good moms do. Right?

But then here's what happened. I did a decent job with my first. Nursed until she was almost six months. Respectable enough (but never did like it). Then I had my second when my oldest was 18 months. Still a baby herself, really. And oddly enough, she did not GET why I had to make myself completely unavailable to her for eternal (to her) lengths of time every few hours. Having kids close in age is a lot of work. Having a husband who is rarely home is a lot of work. Breastfeeding is also a lot of work, especially if you happen to have breasts that dispense milk in super-slo-mo. And I found myself resenting it. Baby #2 would cry, my husband would hand him to me and ask, "Do you want to nurse him?" and I would snarl something like, "Do I want to nurse him? Not really. But I want him to live and all, so someone's gotta feed him." Tender, right?

So I sat down and thought about it. Why was I nursing? It was the best thing for my baby. But... that wasn't really why I was nursing. I was nursing because I was scared to say I had stopped. Especially because I had stopped for no good reason. Just because I didn't like it. "Well, see, I was getting really sick of being the only member of my family who was constantly having their dinner interrupted to go breastfeed, so... you know..." Nope. Couldn't do it.

I once had a well-meaning friend, right after I stopped breastfeeding, innocently ask me, "You know breastfeeding is the best thing for your baby, right?" As my brain thought, Really? I have NEVER heard that before! Fascinating! my mouth said, "Just because breast milk is the best thing for your baby doesn't mean that breastfeeding is the best thing for your family." And that's what it came down to.

I wanted to look back on my son's infancy and treasure those memories. I did not want them to be clouded by resentment and irritation toward him simply for needing to eat. My husband was dealing with a crazy, snarly meanie (me, obviously). My daughter was spending vast amounts of time wandering around the house unattended at the tender age of 1. I was up all night feeding my son, and then got to handle the joys of parenting 2 babies while my husband was gone 14-16 hours a day. It was not working.

I was wracked with guilt. What would people say? What would I say when they asked why I wasn't nursing? I had never, ever heard another mother say they had stopped breastfeeding because they simply didn't like it. I imagined the stony-eyed silence at Playgroup.

But I did it anyway. I wanted to enjoy my little guy. And whatever the personal demons that were causing me to feel this way, I didn't really care. So I stopped. Pumped for a while, then switched him over to formula.

The weird thing was that after that I LOVED feeding him. It was like when I was a kid, the difference between cleaning my room when it was my own idea versus cleaning it because my mom made me. I loved to snuggle him and coo to him and stroke his face while he ate. And as my joy in mothering him returned, my guilt quickly disappeared.

And oddly enough, no one cared. If people asked, I just said, "It wasn't working out for us." And that was that.

I read someone on the internet once say that her doctor gave her some sort of depression-related diagnosis having to do with this anxiety and resentment over breastfeeding. I'm not going to say that I'm 100% positive that it didn't partially have to do with post-partum depression on the chance that it does. I'm not going to chalk it up to that on the chance that it doesn't, and I'm just a really selfish mom. The truth is that I don't know what caused these feelings. I just know that they were real to me.

I guess the point here is that we need to be real with each other. Be honest about the difficulties of new motherhood and the options we have. And when someone chooses something different from us, to be gentle with each other. Motherhood is tough enough as it is.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fun and Easy Sewing Idea for Kids - Toy Pillows!

I love to let my kids sew with me, since I really wish I'd learned to sew when I was younger (not that stumbling through YouTube tutorials isn't effective and all, but....). But it's hard to find projects that are easy enough that they can truly do a large part of it themselves.

Last week we decided to make little pillows for the kids' dolls and stuffed animals. I brought down my box of scraps, and my kids sorted through to find what they wanted. My son chose two random flannel prints that totally clashed, but who cares? (That's me not being a control freak. I'm practicing.)

First, make a template out of cardboard. Mine was about 5 inches by 7 inches. Then your child can trace the template on the wrong side of your fabric(s). You'll need two of these. Cut out, or have your kids cut it out, and pin the two sides together if desired, right sides together.

Start on one of the long sides, and sew down the edge until you get about a quarter inch from the bottom. Make sure your needle is stabbed into the fabric (expert sewing terminology, thanks YouTube), and rotate the fabric 90 degrees. Sew down the short side. Repeat the pivot, and sew down the last long side. I let my kids sit on my lap and press the pedal, with my food under theirs for safety. They go when I say go and stop when I say stop. For my younger two (ages 4 & 2), I handle the fabric. My oldest (age 6) is learning to manipulate the fabric herself, with my supervision.

At this point, flip the pillow so it's right side out.

Let your child stuff it with some polyfill.

Then shove the polyfill down a little, tuck your ends in, and sew that last seam nice and close to the edge.

Because this was a project for dolls and stuffed animals, I didn't worry that the whole last seam was visible when none of the others were. Oddly enough, Poley the Polar Bear didn't complain either. But if that kind of thing matters to you, just stitch half the fourth side when you do the other three and then hand stitch it shut, I guess.

Loved this project so much. It literally takes about 5 minutes, and takes such a minimal amount of fabric. My kids loved seeing fabrics that had originally been used to make clothes for them, and using those same fabrics to make matching pillows for their toys. We made some with the cousins too, and this worked for both boys and girls, from ages 2-9. We will definitely be making more of these at our house! My daughter has plans for a matching patchwork quilt, so I guess at some point I'll have to break it to her that I don't know how to sew a doll quilt. But then again, there's always YouTube....

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cranberry Hootycreeks

You'll want to eat these cookies just because of their great name. It feels sort of.... I don't know, vaguely Southern and/or trashy or something.

I first came across this recipe looking for a neighbor gift for Christmas one year. It's one of those recipes that you can layer the dry ingredients in a mason jar and give it away with the recipe attached. Really cute that way. If you want some pics and instructions on that, make friends with Google.

Oh, and I recently saw a recipe very similar to this on the back of the bag of Craisins. That's how you know it's good. My ex-chef husband says that the recipes on the back of products are always the best ones because companies want their products to taste good when you bake with them!

Anyway, tangent aside, here's the recipe for the cookies themselves (from with my notes in italics):

    • 2 ¼ cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup softened butter
    • 23 cup brown sugar
    • 23 cup white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1 cup dried cranberries
    • 1 cup white chocolate chips
    • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional - I think pecans would be best here, but I've never made them with nuts myself)

  1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Cream butter, then add sugars, eggs & vanilla.
  3. Mix in flour mixture & oats, then cranberries, chips & nuts.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min. (Note: For my oven it took 12 minutes for each batch. You'll want to pull these babies when they look underdone in the middle and the edges are just starting to brown. In fact, I brushed my sleeve against one taking it out of the oven and obliterated it. So don't let them get to where you would consider them "done" when you take them out, or they will be way too hard once they're cooled.)

Makes about 36 cookies.


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Monday, March 12, 2012

Tips for Moving

We're getting ready to move soon, and this will be our second move in two years. The first time around our system worked so well, I'm attempting to do it the same way again.

I decided to go through my whole house WELL in advance (think, several months) of our move, going through every drawer, shelf, and cabinet and deciding what to keep, toss, and give away. With plenty of time before things got REALLY crazy, I was able to take stuff to donate, sell things on Craigslist, have a garage sale, etc. By the time moving day came along, EVERYTHING left in the house got packed.

I started by making a checklist of each and every room and closet. When I had a few minutes, I'd start on a room and go slowly, going through one area at a time. If I didn't consider it worth the time and space to pack, move, and unpack the item, we got rid of it. Trash, donate, sell, whatever.

This strategy saved us from having to make the decisions during the crunch time of the actual move. It helped us better estimate what size moving van we needed (and save money by getting a smaller one!). We were able to get a fair price for our stuff when selling it, because we weren't desperate to do it right away. For special things that weren't coming with us, we had time to find them a good home. People were able to help us pack because I could just say, "Everything left in that bathroom is going. Pack it all." The benefits went on and on.

I'm starting this process again right now (in my kids' room - UGH!), and with each bag that comes out ready to go to the trash or the thrift store, it makes me so happy to know that's one less load of stuff that I'll have to pack and unpack.

Moving is never fun, particularly when you have little kids. But using this system makes it as painless as possible, at least!

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

WFD? Menu planning made easy

What's for dinner?

We used to plan our meals a week at a time, but we're busy parents with young kids and a life that gets crazy, and inevitably, Monday would roll around again and we wouldn't have our week planned out. In December, we decided to make a monthly meal plan because of the holiday craziness, and it worked out so well, we've been doing it ever since.

First we decided on a "Category" for each day of the week. Although you could do anything, ours are: Monday = Regional/Ethnic, Tuesday = Kids' Favorites, Wednesday = Soups/Salads, Thursday = Family Favorites, Friday = Breakfast for Dinner, Saturday = Leftovers. Sundays we eat with family so that varies.

We usually do Tuesdays first, and ask the kids what meals they'd like for the upcoming month. Then we pencil in Wednesdays (soups) and Fridays (breakfasts). Then we do Mondays, and think of some ethnic meals, maybe browse Pinterest or our cookbooks for ideas. Then we fill in Thursdays with just miscellaneous meals that we've been craving that didn't make it in anywhere else.

We buy meat throughout the month and freeze it as it comes on sale, and when we menu plan, we take into account any meat that we have in the freezer, or leftovers in the freezer that need to get used up. We also think of any other ingredients we have lying around that need to be used (produce, etc.).

For some reason, it is so much easier to come up with 4 soups for the month, 4 breakfasts, etc. than it would be to just sit down and plan out a month at a time. We keep the calendar on the fridge, and if we think of any meals during the month that we want to put in the following month, we just make a note on the calendar.

If anyone would like, I'd be more than happy to do a follow-up post of lists of dinners in each category. This method has been working so well for us - finally something we can stick with for menu planning!

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Latest book reviews

 So I made a goal this year to read 50 books, and I thought I'd review them little by little rather than my big Books of 2011 list. Here's the first few I read, more reviews to come!
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf - 4 Stars
This was a book right up my alley - intriguing cover art, a dramatic plot involving a family, and chapters that switch narrators. All my favorite things! I am trying to reserve 5-star reviews for books that I can't stop talking about, and recommend to pretty much anyone. This wasn't that good, but a solid 4 stars. It's about two 7-year-old best friends who go missing overnight, and how the search and subsequent discoveries affect their various family members. While there is the mystery of the missing girls, there are also family secrets revealed through flashbacks that flesh out the story and characters. I couldn't put it down, even taking my Nook to the gym so that I could finish it.

The Golden Compass, by Phillip Pulman -  2 Stars
This book was so not my type. Turns out when I thought I really didn't like fantasy... I don't. I stuck it out, but overall thought it was pretty lame. Not a 1-star, hated-it type book, just not my kind of thing.

The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis - 3 Stars
This book was a story about the childhood of the poet Pablo Neruda. I believe it's Young Adult - I got it from my school's library. I loved the drawings and poems in the book, and it was an easy, quick read. It was okay, not great. Not sure who I'd ever recommend it to.

Dreams of Joy, by Lisa See - 5 Stars
I didn't realize until I started reading this book that it was the sequel to Shanghai Girls, which I read last year. This is the story of 19-year-old Joy, who runs away to China, under the idealistic impression that she will help to build the "New Society" in 1957 Communist China. This is the story of her loves, her losses, her complicated relationship with her family, and her life under a communist regime. This book was incredibly eye-opening to me. I couldn't believe that Lisa See was writing about events that had actually happened in my parents' lifetime. At times the description of what the Chinese villagers went through was so horrific that I had to skim over or skip, but I was so glad I read it, since it taught me so much about an era I previously knew nothing about. This was a couldn't-put-it-down read for me.

Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese - 3 Stars
I'll start by saying this book got GREAT reviews on Goodreads. It's about twin boys born to a nun and a surgeon in Ethiopia, and their life story as they grow up on the brink of revolution, fall in love with the same woman, and try to make peace with their father's abandonment. Here's where I'm going to be honest. I like easier reads than this. Pages going into the political climate and events of Ethiopia just lose me. I liked the story, I loved reading about the bond between the twins, but the setting in this case was distracting to me. Pretty sure that makes me just too shallow to enjoy a book that everyone else did.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford - 5 Stars
I have to admit, I didn't finish this book until my 3rd try. The first two times I found it so totally boring. I wanted to like it, because it's got a great title. And everyone else in the world liked it, so clearly it had to be good (excellent logic, I know). And then I don't know what happened the third time - I LOVED it! It's a story of two kids in World War II-era America, and the boy is Chinese and the girl is Japanese. They attend the same, mostly-white school and form a friendship and the beginnings of young love. It then follows these two characters through the events of the Japanese internment, and how it affects both their families. I loved the first-love story, the educational historical aspect, and the overall plot line. Glad I gave it so many chances!

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Red Robin Customizer... Awesome!!!!

So I recently started Weight Watchers, making my favorite hobby of going out to eat a lot more complicated. However, keeping little splurges like that in my life is important to me, I just want to be able to plan for it.

So we decided to head to Red Robin for dinner last night, and I looked up the nutritional value before we left. Turns out Red Robin has this AWESOME Customizer website and app where they'll give you the nutritional value of anything on the menu. But the cool part is that you can remove items, and then they'll give you revised nutritional information on your custom creation. So if you love a certain entree, but plan to order it without cheese to save on fat and calories, you can see exactly what you're saving. Or if you switch out the fries for some steamed broccoli (you know, if you're crazy), you can see how that affects the nutritional value as well.

I just about hit the roof, though, when I found out that my go-to entree at Red Robin (the BBQ Chicken Wrap), has 62 grams of fat and 1100 calories! What!?!?! It's the same amount of calories as the cheeseburger with the fried onion strips on it! I don't mind the occasional (or not-so occasional) splurge, but I have been ordering that entree for YEARS because I thought it was on the healthier side. Turns out, according to the Customizer, the cheese alone adds about 20 grams of fat. Ugh! I could have been leaving that off all along - you can't even taste it! But at least now I know.

So it turns out they have a new burger, called the Keep It Simple Burger (under "Other" on the menu, NOT under burgers), that has 570 calories and 24 grams of fat. Still not as good as staying home and eating something actually healthy, but much better than a majority of menu items there at Red Robin (and only 10 WW points compared to like 26 for the wrap!). It was delicious, I felt happy with my out-to-eat splurge, and turns out I saved a ton of fat and calories compared to the "healthier" option I usually order.

Most restaurants have their nutritional information out there somewhere on the internet, so it's always worth a look, but I just particularly loved this app and wanted to share, since it's so hard to estimate substitutions when you're out. Hope someone else can use this and likes it as much as I did!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Keeping your Parent Power

Dear Other Mom at Taco Bell,
I wish I could have come up to you tonight and told you something. Of course, a stranger coming up to you at Taco Bell offering unsolicited parenting advice would have been, like, the weirdest thing ever, so of course I didn't. But I wanted to.

Believe me when I say I'm not a perfect parent myself. Exhibit A? I was feeding my children Taco Bell for dinner. However, I so wanted to somehow convey to you the parenting power of doing what you say you're going to do. Guess what? Even the first time you told your kid that you were going to leave Taco Bell if he didn't sit back down at the table, I didn't believe you. And neither did your kid. If you're going threaten a consequence, you gotta be willing to follow through.

Listen, I have BEEN there. Any time you are at Taco Bell for dinner on a weeknight, with your two little kids, pregnant, and with no significant other around to help, it's a dire situation. Your stress was written all over your face, and I have felt that. On nights like that, the Taco Bell dinner is more than crappy Mexican food and a fountain soda. It is a lifeline to sanity. On nights like that, my child could have literally been setting fire to the Taco Bell, and I wouldn't have gotten up and left. "Don't mind him," I would have told the cashier, "I'll deal with him in a second. Just give me my &$%*# crunchy tacos so I don't have to cook anything!"

So..... you're NOT going to leave Taco Bell if your kid gets up from the table. I know that, you know that, and your kid knows that. So why threaten it? The first time was doubtful - by the eighth or ninth threat, it was actually laughable. Never threaten your kid with something that is so painful to you that you're going to be reluctant to follow through. If you aren't going to leave Taco Bell (and girl, I don't blame you), then use a different consequence, one that inconveniences your child more than it inconveniences you.

You are the authority, you have the power, you are the momma. And your kids have to believe that. They have to know that if you tell them there's a consequence for their behavior, that there will BE one. Otherwise, to be blunt, your efforts at discipline are just a joke to them. Why would they do what you say if they know you don't mean it? So pick a consequence that's gonna hurt them more than it hurts you, think twice before you say it, and if you say it, you gotta mean it. And, in the meantime, make sure you get a refill on that soda, because if anything's going to save your sanity, it's a Dr. Pepper.

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