Friday, April 30, 2010

A Stranger's Just a Friend You've Never Met

I do not teach my kids "stranger danger." I never have. In fact, I've corrected other people when they've said "stranger danger" to my kids, because we believe that teaching kids to be afraid (what else does the word "danger" imply, except that one should be afraid?) is counterproductive.

There's this attitude in this country that any man who is interested in or talking to children is a child molester. I think that this is as dangerous an idea as the idea that all women are objects/sluts/etc. It is as destructive as the idea that all Arabs are terrorists. It is not a prejudice that I think should be taken lightly.

(if you're reading this on Facebook, there's a video here - go to to see it.  If you don't click through, you'll probably also miss the funny pictures coming up)

The implication in the video is that only perverts talk to kids, right? And Leonard is socially aware enough to know that other people (or security cameras!), seeing Sheldon talking to Rebecca, will think he's a pervert. Sheldon, blissfully unaware of most social rules and mores (if you haven't watched the show, he is one of those brilliant scientists who is clueless when it comes to social interaction, and hilarity ensues - you should watch it, it's a good show) doesn't see anything wrong with "making friends" with a little kid.

My husband is a great father. He genuinely enjoys getting down on the floor and playing with the kids - building Lego projects and ramps for Matchbox cars all morning on a weekend. Yet I have seen him totally shut down when the neighborhood kids (mostly girls) come over. He has told me for years, since before we had kids, that he feels like he has to be very careful in his interactions with kids, because he doesn't want to be accused of anything improper. So, for example, if a kid I've never seen falls on his bike in front of my house (true story) I'll run out and help him without a second thought, I'll bring him inside and clean him up, give him a bandaid and a hug, and call his folks for him. My husband will not. (He'd probably call me to come help, honestly, or one of the other female neighbors. He's not just going to leave the kid out there bleeding).

How sad that all the kids of the world are missing out on everything they could learn from him, because our paranoid society that teaches kids that all men have uncontrollable sexual urges. How sad that he has to be so reserved, when he could really have meaningful, mutually beneficial connections with kids.

I thought we believed in the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" in this country! "Oh," the helicopter parents cry, "but what about the chilllllddrrrreeennn?"

(I sent him those paragraphs for approval, because I try not to write about him without permission, and he said, That's very nice of you to say. I would not necessarily call for you or another neighbor, but I would certainly not bring a child (boy or girl that I did not know the parents well) into our house without another adult around. I would help the child up, pick up the bike, and help the kid home. If it were an emergency or if the kid lived a ways away, I'd certainly do first aid and call the parents as appropriate but that would all be done from the porch or front yard, unless another adult was right there. So there you go, I was mostly right.)

I'm glad I didn't grow up in this era. When I was a kid I fell on the way to school on my bike, and a man who lived in that neighborhood - someone I had never seen - stopped, took me to his house, patched me up, gave me a cookie, and called my mom. I was scared and hurt (I still have the scars from that accident on my knees), and he helped me. It never occurred to me that he could be a threat. He was just a nice, middle aged guy, helping a kid in need.

I had a long friendship with a middle aged, unmarried, childless man who lived in my neighborhood (I wonder whatever happened to him...).  I remember going to his house to play marbles.  He wasn't a particular friend of my parents - just someone who lived in our neighborhood and liked kids (or tolerated me, anyway).  He never hurt me.  I can only imagine what people would say if I let Mary Grace have a relationship like that with one of the men in our neighborhood.  "Well, have you run a criminal background check?" 

Oh sure, when I was a kid I heard the "stranger danger" message in school, just like we all did in the 80s, but I also saw that my mom talked to people in the store, and that my extended family did too, and that 99.999% of those interactions were between neutral and friendly, and it overwrote the message I got at school.

So, I don't teach my kids "stranger danger" because I think it's destructive to our society (quite literally). What DO I teach them?

  • I've been teaching them since they were about two and a half that they have a "private body" that is not for anyone else to touch. No one is allowed to touch them between their legs unless they're helping them in the bathroom (because they're still at the age where they need help wiping). Because they're not afraid to talk to strangers, they're not afraid to say, "NO! Don't do that!" to strangers, either. 
  • I've taught them that if something happens, they need to tell, regardless of what the person says. 
  • I've taught them that we do not keep secrets in our family (unless they're happy secrets, like presents). 
  • I've taught them that they are not to go inside neighbors' houses without permission (mainly so I know where they are when they're playing, and I don't have to go door to door looking for them). 
  • I've taught them not to take food from anyone (mainly because I don't want them to spoil their dinner, or to constantly be begging the neighbors for treats!). 
  • I've taught them to stay out of the street, no matter what (that's kind of a no brainer).

I let my kids, at ages 3 and 4.5, play alone with the other neighborhood children in the front yard on our block. We know all the neighbors nearby, and we know that parents are peeking out of doors and windows constantly to keep an eye on all the kids (mainly to keep them from doing anything stupid - not out of fear). I'm fortunate to live in one of the safest cities in Indiana, one of the safest states.

I hear you - "But even safe cities have child molesters, Amy!!!" you're screaming at your monitor. Yeah, I know. One lived directly across the street from me. And after my head initially flew off (I was pregnant with MG when I found out), I realized that everyone has to live somewhere. As long as we knew, and he knew that we knew, I didn't have any real fear that he would do anything to any of the kids in the neighborhood. (He was a flasher - he had flashed his junk at three 8 year old girls in Toys R Us).

And, as far as I know (and I know pretty well) he didn't. And he moved away after a year.

This whole post happened because of a conversation on Facebook, where a mother I know said that she ran down the street screaming "Don't talk to strangers!!!!!!!!!!" at two kids (3 and 5) in her care, because they were talking to a male forklift driver. I suggested that it might have been overkill, gave her some statistics on crime (she also lives in one of the safest cities in the country, violent crime is at an overall, nation-wide 30+ year low, and 95% of kids who are abused know their abuser - he's a family friend or a relative or a clergyman). But you can't fight hysteria with facts.  The conversation went on, and I pretty much called her a helicopter parent. I asked her how she thought the poor forklift driver felt, and how he might change the way he interacts with kids in the future as a result of that experience.  I gave her some links to Free Range Kids (one of my favorite blogs). I suggested that teaching children to be afraid of everyone as children will impede their ability to be successful adults.

She basically came back and told me that my kids weren't ever going to be successful adults because they were going to get kidnapped and molested and killed and then molested again because I'm a horrible mother. Nice. 

The competitive mothering aspect of the whole discussion was clear even before I jumped in and called 'em all a bunch of lunatics. "I yelled at these kids and scared the forklift driver, I'm such a good mother!" Another said, "Oh, I don't even let my 3 year old say hello to strangers in stores, and I don't care if people think my kids are rude, because I'm such a good mother!" It's ridiculous. Competitive mothering is the primary cause of all of this hysteria. I was just waiting for someone to jump in and say, "I don't even allow my kids to go outside - they haven't seen sunlight since we brought them home from the hospital, because I'm such a good mother!" And they don't even care that it's done at the expense of all men in this country, and at the expense of their own kids' feeling of security and safety in the world, and at the expense of kids' ability to do normal kid things, like play in the yard!

We all like to brag about our kids, and it feels good to have our opinion of ourselves as "good mothers" reinforced. I just wish people would see the larger picture - the positive interactions they deprive their children of, the erosion of respect for men in our culture ("Everybody Loves Raymond" and other bumbling dad shows, "Law and Order - SVU" which would lead you to believe that it's only a matter of time before everyone is the victim of a serial rapist) - when they teach "stranger danger."

I also blame the 24 hour news cycle. We never would have heard of Elizabeth Smart 20 years ago. But CNN and Fox News have an infinite amount of air time to fill, and they fill it with scaring the snot out of parents. Nancy Grace... Don't even get me going on Nancy Grace. I turned off the news shortly after 9/11/01, and I haven't really turned it back on since.  I will occasionally watch a bit here or there, and it'll ominously say, "What household chemical is going to kill us all? Find out at 11!" and I'll turn it back off again.  (I read the news - all the information, without the hysteria.  Oh, and I watch Jon Stewart, because he's da man).

Most kids are going to survive their childhood just fine. All of us did! I never knew anyone who was kidnapped by a stranger and killed - did you? (I knew plenty of people who were hurt by people they knew, but "stranger danger" doesn't address that!)

Let's start parenting from a point of logic and sanity, instead of parenting out of fear.

I'm particularly interested in what YOU have to say. Do you teach "Stranger Danger" in your house? Jen, am I remembering correctly that the Body Safety classes you teach have moved away from the Stranger Danger mentality? Cate, I'll bet it's a LOT different in Alaska. Rob and Rebe - how do you approach the issue in the major metropolitan areas you live in?

Let's talk about it here, because the people I was talking to on Facebook ended the conversation.  Not that I was surprised...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Neverending Battle

I need to recommit myself to losing weight.

It started with my birthday.  I took about four days off for various celebrations.  Then I got the Wii Fit from BJ, and it said I was about 15 pounds heavier than I thought I was.  Surely I wasn't THAT bad.  Must be a fluke, right?  Until the doctor's scale said the same thing.  Turns out, I wasn't that bad, but my scale was. 

I got a new scale, and sure 'nuff I'm back up to where I thought I was in late February.  Either that, or all the weight I thought I lost in March was actually my scale crapping out.  I'm not sure.  I lost 15 pounds in March, so it could be either.

And either way, it's like March never happened.  I find that very depressing.

So, the last couple of weeks I've been pretty frustrated.  There has been some other stuff going on too, that I'm working on addressing, and a bunch of Easter candy in the house that needs to go away, but the net result is that I need to recommit myself to losing weight.

Now, this is a huge revelation, because in the past I would have said, "To hell with it, I've been deceived by technology, I'm a giant failure, I can't do this, I suck, pass the cheesecake!" 

Not this time, folks.  Because either way, I've lost a lot of weight.  A crappy scale can't make my pants size go down, right?  I'm down from a 20 (nearing 22) to a 16 (nearing 14 - they zip but they make awful muffin top!!), and that is NOT nothin'.  So I am NOT going to let the scale beat me.  I am NOT going to sabotage myself because of the emotional burden I'm carrying right now.  I am NOT going to give up simply because I've had a small set back.  I am NOT going to fall back on my old friend food just because I'm hurting.  I am NEVER going to do that to my body again.  And if it takes me another month or two to lose the same 15 pounds I thought I'd already lost?  Fine.  Because that just means that I'll be able to say I lost 90 pounds instead of merely 75 when I'm done.

Or something... Math isn't my strong suit.

Here is my plan:
  1. Get back to drinking green tea every day.  I'm not sure how it works, but it seems to help.  When I'm consistent with drinking it, I seem to lose faster.  Whether this is science or a coincidence doesn't matter, because it's tasty (I get the blueberry flavored "Purple Antioxidants" green tea at Kroger) and it kind of helps me perk up a bit in the afternoon, too.
  2. Get back to "an apple a day."  Again, may be science, may be coincidence, but I notice better results when I'm eating apples frequently.  Lots of fiber, lots of sweet to curb cravings, 80 calories?  Sign me up.
  3. Gradually knock my calorie goal down to -2 pounds per week.  If I really started at 15 pounds heavier than I thought I was (yikes) that means that I was figuring my calories based on someone 15 pounds lighter than myself, which could be why my loss has stalled since I got the new scale a few days ago.  So, I am going to have to be stricter with the number of calories I allow myself in a day, unless I
  4. Get serious about exercise.  I did ok in January, but since then I haven't been even remotely consistent with exercise.  I'm more active than I was, but obviously that's not cutting it.
I am halfway there.  I'm not giving up now.  

Hold me to that, ok?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Red Light/Green Light

Here's a little hack for all you moms out there.  We went to the Indianapolis Children's Museum today, and they have a giant 5 story ramp in the middle which, on uncrowded days like today, just screams "RUN DOWN ME!  RUN DOWN ME AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!!"  

Well.  Obviously this is awesome, because it makes them tired.  But I don't like it when my rugrats get too far away from me, because then I can't see them and I get all anxious.  I mean, if they're the length of a quarter of a ramp ahead of me and it's not busy, whatever, but if they're 3 floors down, we have a problem.

Today, instead of yelling, "Stop," which I normally yell, I yelled, "Red light!" and they stopped dead in their tracks!  When I got closer I said, "Green light!" and there they went.  It was like a game, instead of like me constantly nagging them to do everything, and because it was a game they were much more willing to follow the rules.

I didn't try it, but I might threaten, "you have to stop when I say 'red light' or you LOSE!" next time.  They hate losing.  I can't imagine where they get that.

So try it on your next outing.  It's magic.

Museum, take two

Dear Mary Grace and Claire,

That carousel has been going around in the exact same circle since I was your age. The only thing that could make it special for me is the look of delight on your faces.

You make it magical.


Hair, Day 2: The Reckoning

Day two of a new haircut usually begins with me, in the shower, using four times more shampoo than I need because I forgot that I got my hair cut.  Then, after I've washed out all of the hair drugs that the stylist used in my hair to make it so shiny and full of life, and I stand before myself in the mirror looking at the disaster that has befallen my poor head, I weep.

Not today.

I've been running around for a couple of years (since right before Claire was born) saying that the folks at the salon that has a presence on both sides of town - the one that has been here longest - e-mail me if I'm too vague and I'll tell you which - weren't very nice to me, because they weren't last time I was there.  But it was worlds different this time, and I am much much happier with the results.  I guess they've had a lot of turnover, so if you're local and you haven't been there in a while, you should try it again.

We had a great day with Jen and her kids today.  Jen and I have known each other for 20 years.  That blows my mind.  There isn't anything in the world I can't tell Jen.  If I tell her something mortifying, something that is so embarrassing and so bad that I think, "I can't tell anyone this, they'll never speak to me again!" she usually says, "Oh, that totally happened to me too, and here's what I did to fix it.  In fact, I still have some of whatever fixed it and I will bring it to you."  In short, she totally rocks.  I don't know what I'd do without her.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spa Day

So after I went house hunting with my friends Karen and Tammy (here's a tip - if you're selling your house, think about picking up the cat puke in the basement, cleaning the litterbox, NOT leaving vats of cat food out to stink up the entire house, and hiding your cockroaches, people...  sheesh!  We RAN out of those two houses, but several others were super nice) I went to the day spa to spend my gift card from Christmas (thanks, Dad!).

Debbie was doing my nails, and while I was waiting for the wax thing to do whatever it does, I glanced around at the girls getting their hair done for the prom (and I realized that my prom was 17 years ago, and I felt old).  There was one girl who looked super young, and I said to Debbie, "I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with her, there's a lot of teasing going on over there!" as I gestured toward her.  Debbie remarked that she looked awfully young to be going to prom.  I said, "Yeah, she does, but maybe she's just little...  like a gymnast or something."  We shrugged and got back to my nails.

After the first coat I glanced again, and they were putting a veil on her freshly teased head!!!

"DEBBIE!  That little girl is getting MARRIED!"

"WHAT?" she exclaimed.  "The one with the teasing!?"

"Look!  They're putting on a veil!" I stage whispered.

And just as I was about to dial children's services, because seriously this kid was prepubescent, we realized...  It must be her first communion.

This is why they shouldn't serve wine at the day spa.

My hair looks amazing. 

That is all.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Sometimes I wish I had a weed whacker instead of a brush.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Busy Days!

Time flies...

We've been hanging out with Grandpa Bob a lot, Grandmother Diana came down for a night, we've gotten extremely good news at work, we've had meals with friends, a great parent/teacher conference report at school, and lots of adventures and warm weather to enjoy.

And now it's 11:15 pm and I need to go to bed, so I can't tell you any more about any of it. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Kids Make Me Tired

Wow, do these kids have a lot of energy.  Whose idea was that, anyway, to give kids 10 time more energy than their parents??  That is so wrong.  I am beaten before I ever open my eyes in the morning.  It's just not fair.

I'm going to start making them run laps around the block, just to chill their butts out.

That is all.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Top 5 iPhone Apps for Kids

The iPhone is the best babysitter ever.  Get yourself a very sturdy protective case, some quick reflexes (for when it drops) and let the magic happen.

5.  YouTube (free)

The beauty of this app is that it's already installed on your phone right out of the box.  In line at the grocery store and melting down over the Polly Pockets that Mommy is not going to spend $5 on again?  Bust out with some Beyonce.  All The Single Lettuce!  The kids will sing along and entertain themselves and your fellow shoppers.

4.  DoodleBuddy (free)

I guess you can draw with friends with this thing.  Whatever.  My kids don't need to draw with all their friends who have also stolen their parents' phones, they just want to draw.  When you put a frog stamp down, it ribbits.  When you stamp with the frowny face with tears, it sounds like a baby crying.  Endless fun.  You can also "airbrush" with your finger.  Shaking clears the screen, so it's easy for kids to start over.  Just be sure that they don't shake the phone into the dentist's fish tank.

3.  Tozzle (light - free; full - $1.99)

I got to go to the bathroom all by myself today (!!!) because my kids were busy fighting over Tozzle.  It's an animated puzzle app.  Claire had no trouble figuring it out.  It even teaches letters, numbers, and rudimentary spelling.  They will quickly grow bored with the two puzzles available in the light version, so be prepared to cough up the $2 if you download it.

2.  Toddler Teasers - Shapes (free)

Claire had fun with this one.  "Find the oval!" and then when you touch the oval it claps.  "Find the crescent!" was too hard.  I said, "A crescent is a moon," and she immediately got it.  So, she learned stuff.  Yay!

1.  Balls (free)

Shut up!  Once you get past the name (or you start calling it "rainbows") Balls is a beautiful zen-like wind chimey ball thing that will entrance your kids for as long as it takes to get through the check out line.  If they shake it the balls bounce and the chimes go faster.  If they tilt it they all fall toward the floor ("gravity").  You can customize the settings, for more balls, bigger balls, different tones, and so on.

What are your favorite apps for your kids?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kids and Death

I am totally screwing up the conversation with Mary Grace about death. 

It started when her classmate's mom died.  The conversation has paused, since then, but it hasn't really stopped.  It probably never will - I know my parents and I still talk about death (it's probably still hard for my parents).  Mary Grace is aware of death, now.  For example, when characters in her shows say the words "die" and "dying" (and it's kind of astonishing how often they do in children's shows!) they just bounced off of her blissfully oblivious little head before, but she hears them now.  She hears those words on the news.  She notices when we talk about people in our lives who have died (my aunt's father-in-law died, and we will attend his wake this weekend in Grammaland, and I was making arrangements for someone to watch the kids, because they didn't know him well enough to go, and she heard me on the phone).  She asks me questions.

I know this is normal stuff for a child her age, but it's still so hard.

I don't want to lie to her, but I don't want to scare her. 

So far, I've told her the following, in small bits and pieces:

About the process:  You know how your toys have batteries?  Well, people kind of have batteries too.  And when you get really old, or sometimes if you get really hurt or really sick, those batteries can stop working.  And just like your toys don't do anything, anymore, after their batteries run out, people don't move or talk or eat or do anything anymore after they've died.

To give perspective:  It's not the sort of sick that you and Claire get when you have a pukey flu or when you have a cold - in order to die you have to be really, really sick or really, really hurt.  That's why Mommy and Daddy tell you to stay out of the street, by the way, a car hitting someone can hurt them really, really badly.

To teach empathy:  Generally people are very old when they die, but sometimes people die before they get very old, like Marly's mom.  That's why it's important to love each other and take care of each other every day.  Because sometimes people die when no one expects them to, and that's really hard.

To comfort:  Mommy and Daddy probably won't die until we're very very old.  My mom and dad are still alive, and so are Daddy's mom and dad, right?  Mommy and Daddy are grown ups.  And chances are that you will be much older and more grown up than Mommy is before you have to worry about Mommy or Daddy dying.  (And now I have to watch myself, saying things like "I'm so old!" when I realize that it's has been 17 years since I was 17 years old.  Hearing me say that could completely freak her out, now.)

To reassure:  You probably won't die until you're very old, either.

To make her feel like she has some power and control:  Part of the reason that Mommy and Daddy have been working very hard at being healthier (weight loss is another frequent topic in this house - they've watched their parents lose over 100 pounds in half a year, and they've noticed) is so that we can keep our bodies healthy to live even longer.  And we take good care of you and Claire, too - we take you to the doctor and we feed you fruits and vegetables so that you can be healthy and strong and live a very long time.  What are some things that you think you could to do keep yourself healthy, and to keep yourself safe?  (Eat vegetables, stay out of the street, etc.)

And, because she goes to a Christian preschool:  A lot of people think you get to go to Heaven and be with God when you die.  That is a nice thing to think, isn't it?  Thankfully, she hasn't asked me (yet) if I believe that.  I did say, Do you remember what it was like before you were born?  Me neither.  But I think that's probably what it's like for people after they die.  My own religious beliefs could fill an entire blog, so I don't want to go into it other than to say that I can't really tell her for sure "you go to heaven" without feeling like a big hypocrite.  I don't honestly know that the whole heaven thing is true, and neither does anyone else.  The best I can do without feeling like a fraud is "no one knows what happens when we die, but here are some things that some people have guessed." 

Times like these, it would be a lot easier to be a religious person.

And, because I do believe this:  Death doesn't stop love.  Just because someone dies, that doesn't mean that we stop loving them, or that they stop loving us.  (I do believe in The Princess Bride!  I'm not sure if that's awesome or sad.)

Now remember, I'm giving this to her in small bites, over the course of several months, but I still feel like I'm about 6 grade levels ahead of her with all this.

I need help.  Anyone out there have any suggestions?

(I borrowed the image from someone else's blog, but they probably don't own the IP, either, so I guess it's ok.  I'm very unsure of how all that works.  I did check Wikimedia Commons, and I tried to use's copy of the above photo, but it didn't work.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Tax Day Proposal

My dad made a brilliant suggestion in honor of Tax Day.  He said that everyone in Congress should be required to do their taxes with a pencil and paper - no computer, no accountant, no Turbo Tax - and if they can't do it, they need to fix the system!

That is a change I can believe in!

My New Best Lunch

I'm taking a break from the singularly awful day I'm having (as in bad on all three levels - local, state, and federal!) to tell you about the awesome sandwich I just had.

Have you seen this stuff yet?  It's like a pita and a tortilla had a baby.  The light only has 90 calories, for a VERY satisfying portion.

So I got some (light) flat bread at the store, then I got some pastrami (LOVE pastrami!), and some reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese, and some romaine lettuce and some bell pepper and some cucumber and some mustard.


I measured the meat and cheese (because lunch meat's sneaky) and made sure I kept it to one serving.  The Hillshire Farm Deli Select thin stuff is only 60 calories per serving.  The whole sandwich was only 200 calories, and I am stuffed.  I had some Southwestern Ranch Baked Lays and some dried apricots with it.  YUM!  Total - 420 calories. 

I have to get back on the wagon after the four day bacchanal that was my birthday. 

Try the flat bread and let me know what you think.

(PS - no one told me to blog about this flat bread, I am doing it out of the goodness of my heart.  However, if the Flat Out people want to send me samples, I will cheerfully eat them!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Abusive Technology

BJ got me a Wii Fit Plus for my birthday, which is not like getting someone a gym membership for their birthday at all.

For one thing, it takes about 11 hours to burn 100 calories on a Wii Fit.

For another, your kids don't think they should be allowed to take a turn on the gym membership.

But what really sets the Wii Fit apart from a gym membership is that a gym membership won't try to humiliate you.

I can't even tell you how glad I am that BJ wasn't home when I set it up.  I put in my height, stood on the balance board and...

My Mii porked out!

And as if that weren't bad enough, the Wii Fit says that I weigh about 15 pounds more than my bathroom scale says I weigh!


I can see why people throw the controllers through the TV!

Have you got a Wii Fit?  What do you think of it?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thirty Four

The cool thing about being thirty four is that you are finally beginning to see the benefits of all these years of making good financial choices.  Your retirement accounts are growing, your debt is shrinking, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel of personal finance.

The cool thing about being thirty four is that you know, without a doubt, who matters in your life.  Your priorities are clear, and therefore, are easy to keep straight.

The cool thing about being thirty four is that you've finally conquered your weight, for the first time in your life, and you can get on the scale and experience pride instead of guilt - even when you've been naughty and had cake and lots of alcohol and steak the night before. 

The cool thing about being thirty four is that certain things which would have sent you into a tailspin of self-loathing fifteen years ago roll off of you like they never mattered to begin with. 

The cool thing about being thirty four is that you have perspective. 

The cool thing about being thirty four is that you know exactly who you are.

The cool thing about being thirty four is that you no longer feel like you need to apologize for being yourself.

Happy birthday to me! 

Friday, April 9, 2010


Reading bedtime stories with Uncle Chuck. We are getting up early tomorrow to go to Chicago. Figured we would stay at Gramma Denna's and save $150.

Chez Gramma takes payment in kisses and hugs.

Breakfast Tomorrow - The Monte Elvis

I just adapted someone else's breakfast recipe for snack (mainly because I only wanted to use one pan - be sure to click through because she has a lot of yummy looking recipes), and if we were going to be here* in the morning this is totally what I would be making for breakfast.

Monte Elvis (get it?)

4 pieces of bread (I used Aunt Millie's light for the calorie info - 35 cals/slice)
2 bananas
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
1 egg
splash milk
Pam spray

Mix the egg and the milk like you do for French toast, because that's pretty much what we're making here.  Peel each banana and slice it in half, then slice each half in half long-ways, so you have four long, skinny banana quarters from each banana.  Spray a pan with Pam and heat it over medium heat.  Dredge ONLY ONE SIDE of the bread through the egg/milk mixture, and put it wet-side-down in the pan.  Arrange the banana slices on top of the bread (I could only fit 3/4 of each banana on each piece of bread, so I just ate the other 1/4). 

Drizzle about a teaspoon of honey over the bananas, and sprinkle them with cinnamon. 

If you choose to use peanut butter, spread a thin layer over one side of the second piece of bread, then dredge the other side of that piece of bread through the egg and milk, and place it on top so that the peanut butter is touching the bananas.  If not, just dredge one side of the bread through the egg and put it, wet-side-up, on top of the bananas.

Once the bottom piece of bread is browned, carefully flip the whole sandwich over and cook the other slice of bread.

Serve warm.  Syrup not necessary.

This could be adapted to just about any filling - I'm thinking that I might caramelize some apples and try that, too.  YUM!

Makes 2 servings.


Aunt Millie's Light Bread - 35 calories/slice = 70 calories/serving
Egg - 70 calories = 35 calories/serving.  I had some egg mixture leftover, so I just figured that the amount of milk was negligible.  No need to be perfect
Banana - one medium = 105 calories
Honey - 1 tsp = 20 calories
Cinnamon - free
Peanut butter (Jif) - 1 tbsp = 90 calories

Total calories in one sandwich without peanut butter - 230.  Fat grams (according to 3.3.
Total calories in one sandwich with peanut butter - 320.  Fat grams (same) 11.3 (holy carp!  Who knew peanut butter had that much fat??!!).

*We have a big dog and a house sitter.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I hate everything about this virus, except the snuggles.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Revenge Of The Easter Bunny

Things I have learned today:
  • You are not a mean parent for taking the candy away. 
  • When your kid says she has a stomach ache after a major candy consuming holiday, listen.
  • When both of your kids say they have stomach aches after a major candy consuming holiday, do not plan an outing.
  • Do not, I repeat, do not ever try to force your kid to eat lunch on the day after a major candy eating holiday.
  • They'll make you regret that you said, "if you don't eat that we can't go to the museum."  Oh yes, they will.
  • The ability to reliably aim for a bowl is a more important skill than being potty trained.  
  • If you have a stomach upheaval while on the road, go through a KFC drive-through and beg for a couple of empty buckets.  
  • Preferably unused, because the smell of KFC is nauseating enough on its own.  Seriously, Indianapolis KFC - have you ever been cleaned?
  • Laying blankets under sick children is a good way to avoid having to wash the sheets every time they miss.
  • You'll still end up doing three loads of laundry, minimum, for every six hours of illness.
  • Stomach upheaval is excellent for the diet.
  • Having Easter candy lying around is not.
  • Netflix "Watch Instantly" is proof that BJ is brilliant, because he made it possible for us to watch Netflix on the TV in the bedroom.
You get three posts today, so enjoy it, because I'm probably going to have the stomach flu by morning.  You might want to actually save this one and read it tomorrow or Wednesday, just so you don't miss me.

PS - BJ drove through a tornado warning on his way to the show he went to tonight.  He's fine, but his car apparently took severe damage from the hail.  I guess it looks like (and sounded like) someone was driving golf balls into the roof of the car.  Because, you know, we needed one more thing today. 

PPS - I've lived in Indiana my ENTIRE life - and I've been through an actual tornado - and I still can't remember the difference between a watch and a warning, and which one is worse.  I think they need to change it from "watch" means one is possible and "warning" means one has been sighted (or vice versa - seriously, I have no idea) to something intuitive, like a tornado "maybe" and a tornado "take cover!"  Wouldn't that be more sensible?

PPPS - Also, while we're changing big things, daylight saving time is bullshit and should be stopped immediately.

The Rest of the Story

About five minutes after I posted that we were at the museum, and only about twenty minutes into our visit, Claire asked to go to the bathroom, and while we were gone MG threw up (thankfully in a trash can) in the Barbie exhibit. Claire had to go again before we left the museum, and again by the time we got to the car. She hung in there until we got to the KFC on 38th street, but she hurled in their bathroom (sorry KFC employees, we did the best we could) and pretty much hasn't stopped since.

Of course this happens when BJ is out of town at a show all evening.

If you're ever on the roadwith a puking kid, KFC buckets work great for catching vomit. I may keep one for the purpose, actually.

So, there is the rest of the story that Dad alluded to. This is one of THOSE days.

Museum Day

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Day

I had a lot more free time last year.  Click here to read about my prank on the kids.

This year, April 1 falls on one of those running-from-the-time-we-get-out-of-bed-until-bedtime days, so no prank this year.