Saturday, May 3, 2008

Week In Review

The Top 5 Things I Learned This Week:

5) If you wish to feel completely incapable in the culinary arts, attempt a Williams Sonoma recipe.

4) Whether you are on the plains of puberty, the rough terrain of toddlerdom, or deep in the trenches of infancy, the sun will find time to shine on you....bask in it while you have it.

3) Spending time with your girlfriends is essential for preserving your youth, your sanity, and your sense of humor (margaritas help too).

2) Forget the Pulitzer, the Nobel, or even an Oscar, mullets mean you have arrived.

1) There is nothing quite so wonderful as having your house cleaned by a group of professionals, unless of course they come when you're cleaning yourself.

I Couldn't Make This Up...

So first, the confession:

I have a cleaning lady.

Now, before you throw your hands up in the air and curse the fact that I, a stay-at-home mom, enjoys the luxury of having my home regularly cleaned by professionals, please remember that, in addition to spending my days caring for children and doing the basic duties of keeping house, I also work as a freelance writer during nap and bedtime (the best times for serious cleaning).

Oh, and yes, people actually pay me to write on occasion.

And my cleaning lady and her entourage are great. Natives of Portugal, they come every other week and completely restore my home to the normal standards of livibility, a condition that I bask in for at least 10 minutes until my little ones reclaim their space.

Having established all of this, my story goes as follows:

My normal cleaning day needed to be rescheduled due to more than a few conflicts and so, I arranged to have them come at 5:30 on Friday, after the Picture Party.

The day went very well (as I posted), but my little miss skipped her regular nap as the excitement and the sugar we gave them to keep them content did not make for a sleepy combination. Though she really stills needs her daily serving of sleep, she can usually make it through so long as I get creative.

This creativity amounts to an early bath in the "big tubby". We go for a "swim" early in the master bathtub because (1) it is fun and different, and (2) the early time revives her and avoids a bathtime battle after exhaustion really sets in.

So, the three of us head into the bathtub for some bubbly fun before the cleaners arrive. All goes according to plan until I hear a car door slam and wonder if my husband decided to come home early.

Nope.

The cleaners arrived an hour early and they were already charging in the house (3 women, 1 man).

I took but a second to digest my current conundrum, before I shouted, "Let's go...they're here!"

As quickly as possible, I unloaded my charges and threw towels over them. (I actually wear a bathing suit...not because I have a problem with bathing with my children, but because I have a problem bathing with myself).

I allow myself to think that I may have things under control when I hear the thumping footsteps coming up the stairs coupled with the shouts in Portuguese. I run with the baby into the bedroom while my daughter runs down the hallway, leaving her towel behind her.

I hear the steps stop and then laughter of the kind only a naked child could produce.

Clutching my little man, I peer out from the door to see where she is in the hopes that I may try to lure her back in to warmth, clothing, and humility.

No luck--- she is running up and down the hallway, shouting "woo hoo", naked as a jaybird.

The entire crew is in hysterics while I flashback to images of her aunt as a toddler doing something very similar before a gaping audience on Allegheny Ave.

I could deny it no longer: she has Jeannie in the genes.

Quote of the Weekend

"The persons hardest to convince that they're at the retirement age are children at bedtime." -Shannon Fife

Picture of the Weekend





When it comes to the business of pirates, there will be no shaking of the booty.








I''m running low- Send your favorite kid pictures to: dalessandrochristine@gmail.com








Friday, May 2, 2008

Stayed Tuned....


Nothing annoys me more than the shameless attempts of the various news programs to lure us in with their sensationalized headlines: e.g. How your cat can kill you; Why the elderly may be costing you money; Your neighbor is probably a prostitute.

Because I am so aggravated by this practice, I will employ it myself:

Something happened a few short moments ago that I have to blog about (when I have a real chance, which means tomorrow).

It involves a huge confession, nudity, and the Portuguese.

Log on tomorrow to find out......as well as "The Week In Review" (so many lessons, so little time....)
****And if you are unfamiliar with the scandalicious, former news anchor pictured above, it's probably because you live in an area with a professional news team.

Taking Over the World One Blog At A Time

I am excited to announce the generation of a new blog devoted to motherhood and all the mnia that goes along with it.

If you enjoyed yesterday's log from a mother in the trenches, check out my friend Amanda's new blog: www.amanda-inthetrenches.blogspot.com




Also, if you want to start a cathartic blog of your own, but aren't sure how to start, feel free to email me with any questions!

So, I've Been Slogging...

Slogging- (v) slacking on my blogging

Yesterday was a day filled with Little Gym, errands, an impromptu playdate, more errands, and I think a trip to the bathroom, but I am not entirely sure I stopped long enough to even do the last.

Today was filled with one ambitious event: hosting a Picture Party.

For those of you infamiliar with this latest trend, a Picture Party is a gathering where a group of people assemble and a professional photographer (in this case, Shirley Magilton) comes and sets up a studio in your home. Each family is given time for a mini-shoot (30-40 minutes) with no session fee or obligation to buy any of the pictures.

In total, we had five different families, with nine children and five very daring mothers.

If we're being honest, I am absolutely shocked that there were no major meltdowns, extended timeouts, or even broken anythings. I am not suggesting that the children sat quietly like a group of angels, singing songs and drawing pictures. But really, it went pretty swimmingly.

So, if you are interested in getting professional pictures taken of your kid, but the price of a good photographer doesn't match your budget (a family's gotta eat), then I would look into having one of these parties with a photographer in your area.

And, if they're willing, I'll post some of the results in the future.

Cheese.

The Votes Are In...




Since many of us are mothers, know mothers, or may have been even born by mothers, it is no surprise that some of the best films are inspired by the very common experience of pregnancy, as well as labor and delivery. It is a huge transition and, with so much change occurring in so little time, there is certainly room for a joke or tear at every corner (especially when most of the change occurs with your waistband).

So this week’s vote is about the best of pregnancy in film. Though there are many movies that focus or touch on this topic, few do it better than the ones on our poll (because I said so and I have absolutely no credibility). And to the winner….


A tie!! My choice, She’s Having a Baby, tied for first with Father of the Bride II. Both movies probably got the most votes because they effectively combine humor and drama in this very human experience.

I chose She’s Having a Baby because I think Kevin Bacon is adorable and believable as the bungling, conflicted father-to-be, because the ending and its respective song still makes me cry like a moron, and because I cannot resist that great, saxophone infused, cheesy 80s music instrumentals.

I did enjoy Father of the Bride II and that is mostly because it doesn’t matter if Steve Martin is playing an expectant father/grandfather, King Tut, or a jerk, he is hysterically funny. I did not vote for this movie, however, because nothing really stands out in my memory other than the plot.

Juno came in second and I bet that if I reposted this poll a year from now, after more people have had the opportunity to see it, it would earn more votes (hopefully because I’ve also managed to convince more people to read this blog). I have not seen it, but it is one of those movies I know I will like….which means I’ll have to watch it soon and give my review (again, because I have no credibility).

Coming in third is Knocked Up and For Keeps. I thought Knocked Up was very funny (thanks to Seth Rogen and his cronies) and if I could get over my dislike for Katherine Heigl, I may have voted for it too. As with the aforementioned 80s classic, For Keeps was also an enjoyable movie (especially since it is quintessential Molly Ringwald), but perhaps its cheese factor was a little too much for our lactose intolerant audience.

Finally, Nine Months came in last, having only garnered one vote. This may be a bit of Hugh Grant backlash, or the fact that most of the movie is about his character’s ill-treatment of his pregnant girlfriend (played by Julianne Moore), but the final scene of him dancing with his newborn to a Jim Morrison song is very endearing.

So there you have it….the winners come down to two films that effectively use their expectant fathers to create laughs, sentiment, and more than a few memorable scenes.

Now on to the next poll……

Quote of the Day

"You can only be young once. But you can always be immature." -Dave Barry

Picture of the Day


One small shave for the little man, one giant leap toward manhood.


Send your favorite kid pictures to: dalessandrochristine@gmail.com


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Reporting Live From The Trenches....

The following was sent to me by a wonderful mother who is knee-deep in early parenting. In it, she is responding to the most annoying question posed to stay-at-home moms: What do you do all day?

The question should be: How do you stay out of the looney bin and why aren't you earning a salary comparable to Bill Gates?

I am posting this "log" for two, very good reasons:

1) It is a perfect picture of a very full and demanding day,

2) I personally happen to know two other mothers who will read this and feel like at least there is someone out there who knows exactly what they're going through.

For Her Husband, Who Asked, "What Did You Do All Day?"

5:45am- Alarm goes off because my husband is going golfing today and needs to visit the office before he plays 18

6:00am- I change the dirty diaper of my newborn and begin feeding 6:05am -Kiss my husband goodbye and wish him fun and luck golfing

6:20am- Try to fall back to sleep because my newborn has, I can’t because his breathing is so congested that it’s driving me nuts and breaking my heart at the same time

6:32am- Get out of bed, make bed and clean up the empty bottles from the night’s feedings, drag a basket of clothes downstairs while trying not to fall holding the precious newborn

6:40am- Put newborn in swing in hopes that he will be able to sleep, start laundry (laundry does not get done until next afternoon)

6:45am- Get newborn out of swing, he is mad and now very stuffed up

7:00am- Thank the heavens that I set my coffee up the night before because newborn will not let me put him down7:10am- Try to console newborn while checking email and Onemaidamilking blog

7:30am- Get 2 year old out of bed, wash her face and hands and brush her teeth

7:45am- Make breakfast for me and 2 year old, fight to get 3 bites of banana down her throat

7:47am- Give up because now she wants markers and crayons and will not do anything unless she gets them, I get them and we eat peacefully, no banana consumed

8:00am- Begin watching Upside Down Show and potty training, all while trying to shove as much fluids in the 2 yr old, so she will in fact pee pee on the potty

9:00am- Change diaper of newborn and begin feeding

9:05am- 2yr old makes first pee pee on the potty, I put ravenous newborn down and proceed with the pee pee dance, while 2 yr old is holding the cup full of urine insisting that SHE walk it to the bathroom and flush it, 5 M&M’s rewarded

9:07am- Begin feeding newborn again

9:10am- Another pee pee on the potty, dance and flushing followed, another 5 M&M’s rewarded

9:12am- begin feeding newborn again

9:15am -another pee pee on the potty, dance and flushing followed, 5 more M&Ms

9:17am- begin feeding newborn again who has now no interest in the bottle

9:20am- while washing bottle 2 yr old poops on the potty, dance and flushing followed, 5 more M&Ms

10:00am- playing and doing laundry, my father arrives to “give me a break” and proceeds to tell me that newborn is really sick and I need to take immediate action to which I respond that he has been to the doctors twice in the last 5 days and there is nothing we can do for him except keep him comfortable, and then he tells me that my house is dirty and the dog is making newborn sick…BLLLURRRGGGG!!!!!

11:30am-make lunch, which was the other half of the bagel she ate for breakfast feed newborn who is still laboring to breathe, play with markers

1:00pm- take 2 yr old up for nappy time, proceed with reading the normal 6-7 books, newborn now is really laboring to breathe and is even pausing between breaths, mommy starts to cry and tells 2 yr old to read herself to sleep that she has to call the doctor, 2 yr old says "otay"

1:30pm- call husband for a little support, he says call the doctor and call him back if I need him (I thought I was calling him because I needed him) also called him because I think that newborn is allergic to the dog I tell husband to stop and get a steam cleaner that we are shampooing the rugs tonight, try to put saline drops in laboring newborn’s nose so to use the infamous bulb sucker NOTHING comes out…mommy still crying and he is completely blocked

2:00pm- call every Duct Cleaning business in the phone book to have someone come as soon as possible to clean my heating vents. Just in case newborn is allergic to his own home

4:00pm- call pediatrician's office crying they tell me to call an ENT doctor…all offices closed and if it’s an emergency call 911, mommy still crying

5:00pm- I call my mommy crying and ask her to come over because I just can’t listen to one more minute of my newborn baby working and fighting for every breath,2 yr old wakes from nap and asked if I’m okay and did I call the doctor, I assure her that I am okay and the doctor has been called

5:30pm- husband comes home with steam cleaner and goes right back out to buy a humidifier that doesn’t sound like someone landing airplanes in the same room with you, make dinner for 2 yr old (PB&J--I did not care about nutrition at this point)

6:00pm- give newborn a bath because maybe the steamy bathroom with give him some relief, husband comes home with a WARM MIST humidifier, to which I proceed to tell him that the doctor always say to use a cool mist, and that I didn’t know why they suggest it, they just do, he goes back out to buy correct humidifier

6:20pm- give 2 yr old bath, keeping newborn in bathroom to further help his breathing

6:30pm- husband arrives with second humidifier and now starts process of steam cleaning carpets, oh and lets me know that he is mad because he shot a 90 golfing today (poor baby)

7:00pm- we start bedtime ritual of watching Dora, drinking milk and eating cheerios

8:30pm- my mother is still in a steam bath with newborn, husband is just getting done shampooing and I’m reading to the 2 yr old,

10:00pm- mom leaves, I take over sitting in a humidified room, that looks like a rain forest

12:00am- feed newborn, 2 yr old falls out of bed, she has been in this bed for 6 mos, this is the first time she fell out of bed, husband who has the VIDEO monitor in the room with him did not hear her crying, he was sleeping too soundly (again poor baby), my husband takes newborn and I begin again to read to the 2 yr old, finally she asks with her sleepy eyes if the camera is on and I assure her that it is (not that it makes a difference because her dad who is responsible for it is sleeping to soundly to hear or see it)

4:00am- while feeding the newborn, I look at him and he smiles and winks at me, (he was still laboring for a breath)

So the moral of the story is that the good moments seem that much sweeter when you have had a wild day!!!

Oh and by the way, we took the newborn to CHOP ER the next day. We are still waiting for test results but he seems better today.

**Special thanks to Amanda for submitting this, and who should probably start a blog of her own.

A Family That Sprays Together...




Every so often my day of blogging develops into a theme of sorts. I’ve had food days, television days, and yesterday kind of morphed into a military day.

My original aim for today was to focus on vaccinations. A new report from the CDC claims that 72% of 2 year olds are not completely or correctly immunized. So, I did some research, found some clips, sorted through all the autism theories, and found myself exhausted and still a bit unclear.

So, today I’m talking about hair. Crazy hair that only looks cute on kids, or dads who lose hair on account of theirs.

The above family is one of my favorite hair pictures. It has been floating around the internet for years and it never gets old. Clearly they have either decided, as a family, to join Dad on tour as he rocks Portland or the entire family has caught some horrifying disease, which I am sure they could have been vaccinated for.

My Kind of Trophy


When you first lay eyes on your newborn, there is no doubt that your mind quickly turns to what the future may hold for your child. What will they experience? How will they develop? What accomplishments will they obtain?

And, in the deepest depths of their hearts, almost all parents say a secret prayer that their child may some day attain the highest distinction:

Winner of the annual Red Wing, Minnesota Mullet Contest

This year’s title went to 3 year old Brady Arneson who, with his triumphant win, has maintained the family legacy of winning hair contests and macking mullets.

According to the Grand Forks Herald:



It may be a fashion no-no, but Brady Arneson wears his mullet with pride.
The 3-year-old Red Wing hockey player recently took first place in the 2008 Minnesota Mullet Contest put on by Hockey Moms Magazine.


Brady’s business in the front, party in the back style is family tradition. His older brother, Blake, won the same award in 2005….
“They had that nice baby hair that we didn’t want to cut off,” [Brady and Blake’s father] Scott said. “But we’re going
to cut it off pretty soon and cool him down for the summer.”




Some thoughts:

1) What type of business does Brady do that requires him to keep his hair short in the front? Likewise, what kind of partying is a 3 year old doing that requires Rapunzel length locks in the back?

2) I had no idea that there was a magazine devoted to Hockey Moms, nor was I aware that soccer moms had some competition. Finally, do people subscribe to this publication?

3) Cool him down for the summer? Will they also be taking him to the groomer's?

Quote of the Day

"A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary." -Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Picture of the Day


Not being able to resist the lure of sugary cake, the little girl reasoned that if one ear remained in tact, the bunny’s hearing would not be impaired by a little taste.
The inventory is running low....send your favorite kid pictures to: dalessandrochristine@gmail.com

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Families and Television

Last week I posted a piece about excessive television watching and the American family. I also created a "quiz" to see how many of you were as troubled as I am.

The results were disappointing. Though a few valiant efforts came in, only one person (who will remain nameless until a later date) came close to matching my mindless knowledge (yes, I know that's an oxymoron).

Despite enticing you with a promise of devoting an entire blog day to you, only a few submissions were sent my way. Devastated by your unwillingness to keep my misery company, I am reposting the quiz with the request that some more of you attempt to rise to this trivial challenge.....

The answers along with the winner (or, loser?) will be revealed this Friday....


Here it is:

1) When someone calls your home, does your family erupt into a chorus of, “The phone, the phone is ringing”?

2) When your child is introduced to a Spanish speaker, can they carry on a conversation so long as it involves using a map, a backpack, and climbing a mountain?

3) When you head to the beach this summer, will your family’s only means of traveling from the dunes to the water involve rolling?

4) If someone were to introduce you to their new friend, would Caillou seem like a perfectly reasonable name for them?

5) When visiting a farm, do you expect to hear the voice of Mel Brooks coming from any or all of the sheep?

6) Have you ever been at the deli line and, after finding that your ticket number was number 9, remark, “Hey, that’s the number of the day”.

7) Have you ever accused your car (or any other mode of transportation) of being cheeky?

8) Do you find yourself spending more than a little time wondering how two engaging, brother and sister rabbits can lead such fulfilled lives while never ever producing any evidence of parents?

9) Even though you’d publicly denigrate the show for its nonsensical contribution to childrens television, does a laughing baby framed in the sun make you feel warm and fuzzy inside?

10) Would a check of your iTunes file unearth the song “There’s a Party in my Tummy (So Yummy, So Yummy)?

**If you answered yes to at least 7 of these questions, it’s time to turn off the television.

****However, since I love to reward mindless knowledge, if you can send me a list of all the shows alluded to in this quiz, I will devote an entire blog day to singing your wonderful praises. Send your answers to: dalessandrochristine@gmail.com


Because It Is So Easy To Forget



Having recently learned that my eldest brother will most likely be heading back to Iraq this winter, it’s fair to say that I can’t think of much else.

What I do manage to wonder, however, is how quickly the media has moved its daily focus away from our service men and women overseas to the political soap opera playing out on our national stage. It just seems like the campaigning has been going on for too long and, even when someone does win something, have any of us really won?

This is not a political blog. This is a blog about parenting.

My eldest brother is a father of four, and my middle brother is a father of three. They both have been deployed and both families have certainly endured the strain. Yes, this is the life they have both chosen, but so have countless others and they all need to be kept in our thoughts.

A great way to do this is by visiting a terrific site dedicated to those wounded in combat. The world they know will forever be changed, as will their place in it. If you want to make a donation to the cause, or just find out some information that is truly newsworthy, please visit:

www.woundedwarriorproject.org




Special thanks to Perezhilton.com for bringing this to the public.




Celebrity Parents




If you don’t remember (probably because you blocked it out), Jason Lee won one of our first polls for giving his child the worst celebrity baby name. He and his Baby Mama named their son Pilot Inspektor (yes, that is the correct spelling), and the world still has not recovered.

Well, Mother’s Day is coming early, my friends. Jason Lee has found a new woman (Ceren Alkac) and is now expecting a new baby this fall.

I’m not sure if I can hold my breath for six months, but you can bet I’ll be counting the months along with the possible atrocious names he may choose this time.

Something EVERY Parent MUST See...

My good friend Susan passed this video along to me and, as terrifying as it is, every parent should take the time to watch it. The video features a news segment in which the inadequacy of fire alarms to rouse sleeping children is revealed.

As a drill, a fire alarm is sounded in one home of four children (from baby to tween), and not one of the children wakes up despite the passing of three long minutes. The parents are greatly bothered, as we all should be.

The segment goes on to highlight a product that allows parents to record their own voices, yelling at the kids to wake up and, of course, it works almost immediately.

If we are talking about a significant fire, three minutes can mean the difference between life or death.

I must say that I not only found this troubling, but also not at all surprising. We recently had our home security system go off at night and my daughter did not even move. More shocking is that our security alarm is a lot louder than our fire alarm.

Most shocking is the fact that this finding isn't all over the news. I mean, my news programs try to reel me in every night with their sensationalism (What could be killing you at the grocery store? Why you should never leave the house when it rains! Cereal may cause Cancer..)

Why isn't this a lead story???

Oh, and I'm ordering the parent voiced fire alarm as soon as I am done typing.






video

A Salute to Sesame Street




Better than Beckham (did I really just type that?), Sesame Street produced a DVD specifically devoted to children of deployed parents. Cuba Gooding Jr. hosts the show, which helps military children better understand the different stages and types of deployment.




Released last July, the movie follows Elmo as he learns why his father has to go away for a long time and what it all means. Though it is really geared to the 2-5 set, I imagine older kids might benefit as well.




Wal-mart donated $1.5 million to the project, making it possible for Sesame Street to give the DVD, along with a complete transition kit, to any interested military family for free.








Then Vs. Now (Continued from earlier posts)

A Phone Conversation-

Then:

You call your friend to see what is new and chat on endlessly about whatever happens to be on your minds. You laugh, you gasp, and you may even gossip, and after twenty to thirty minutes of meaningful conversation, you agree to get together soon and end the call amicably and of your own free will.

Now:


After three days of runny noses, no naps, and five consecutive temper tantrums, you finally find some time to return your friend’s call while the kids seem distracted by a television show and some sugary snack you’d sworn you’d never let them eat.

You complain about your exhaustion, your child’s most recent phase, and your waistline, all while preparing dinner, picking up toys, and trying to figure out what the heck is stuck to the refrigerator door.

After 2:31 minutes have passed you find yourself yelling to your friend that you should get together soon so long as the occasion can take place after bedtime and without the need to wear any stain-free, pressed clothes. Oh, and you are yelling because the window of free time is up and you now have one child demanding juice and the other attached to your knee or hip as they try to grab at the phone.
You hang up the phone unsure of what you just talked about and with whom you just spoke.

Becaue I Only Wish To Be Half as Good at Parenting as my Brothers

Whether the separation is caused by military service or life's uncertain circumstances, there are few things more difficult than being apart from your family.

Quote of the Day

"Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same." -Pearl S. Buck

Picture of the Day


Her mother foolishly believed that egg dye would only dye eggs.


Send your favortie kid pictures to: dalessandrochristine@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's the Word on the Street?


Reports are just coming out that one of my favorite members of the male species, David Beckham, will be making an appearance on Sesame Street to teach the meaning of the word "perseverence".


His cameo was taped earlier this month and though the air date has yet to be released, you can bet my calendar will be clear.


I just really want to my children to learn the importance of pereseverence.



Mother's Day Eve

Two weekends ago, I traveled up to Manhattan to enjoy a day of shopping with some of my oldest and dearest friends. The occasion was organized by one husband, who thought the trip (coupled with some nice shopping money) would make for a great birthday gift for his wife (and by default, her friends).

He could not have been more correct.

Though our shopping was not particularly memorable (the most dangerous stores were closed on account of a certain papal visit), everything else about the time we spent together was. We talked endlessly about both the present and past. We ate too much, imbibed a little, and parted ways feeling like we had been given some kind of revitalization. Despite my blistered feet (I will never forego form for function), one friend’s attach of mastitis (ahh…motherhood), and the day ending earlier than we might have liked….it was so long overdue, and so wonderful.

I am already in the process of convincing my husband it should be an annual event.

This past weekend I found myself again in the unusual predicament of having an afternoon away from the home. My friend Jeanine (whom I do not see nearly enough) had her baby shower. Now, if I am being truthful about baby and bridal showers, I have actually always loathed them. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good meal, but spending hours “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing over great presents someone else is receiving is not my selfish cup of tea.

But that has changed too. I now look forward to a couple hours away with other women…talking about our kids (which ones do not want to start school and which one requires a chaperone ..shout out to BC), catching up on news, and not having to cut anyone’s food for them. Jeanine’s shower was lovely, the food was delicious, and the time not having to worry about trips to the potty and vegetable eating was nice.

I guess what it comes down to is spending time with friends. We devote so much time to our children, followed by our husbands and family, that girlfriends often get pushed to the back of the line.


Every mother needs to take care of herself, and her relationships. So, for this Mother's Day...enjoy your day with the family and all that may entail. But if you are so inclined, petition for a girls' night out on Mother's Day Eve....you're probably overdue.

Tuesday's Craft


Since Mother's Day is right around the corner, consider using the craft idea below as a great gift for the grandmothers. It combines the sentimentality of a home made gift from their grandchildren with their second most favorite thing, kid pictures.


Flower Pot Picture Collage


Materials:


Construction paper, various colors

Glue stick
Photos
Scissors
Tape

Green chenille stems or green pipe cleaners, one for each flower
Optional: patterned paper

Directions:


1. Cut photos into circles to be used as the center of the flower.


2. Cut simple flower shapes out of construction paper.


3. Glue photo circle to the center of the flower.


4. This step is optional: Glue construction paper flower to a piece of patterned paper. Cut around the flower giving your construction paper about a half-inch border of patterned paper.


5. Tape chenille stem to the back of your flower. Make sure the tape is secure by pressing onto the tape with your fingernail.


6. Trim ends of chenille to the length you desire, depending on what you are using as a vase. If making a handheld bouquet, don’t trim the chenille; simply tie a ribbon bow around them all.

Tips:
· Instead of patterned paper, have children color white paper with various colored markers or crayons and use that as your border.
· If you find it easier, instead of cutting around the border, trace it lightly first with a pencil, then cut.
· Even the littlest of children can make this craft, simply help them by cutting out photos and flower ahead of time and have them help with the gluing and taping.

Quote of the Day

"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children." -- Charles R. Swindoll

Picture of the Day


If you think this looks tough,
you should see my ab workout.


Send your favorite kid pictures to: dalessandrochristine@gmail.com

Monday, April 28, 2008

Profile of a Parent



Name:
Mike, Michael, Skippy, Duh Duh Duh (according to Andrew)

FATHER OF:
Andrew Michael D’Ostilio (10 Months)

What You Did Before You Were Someone’s DADDY:
Stayed late at work. Ran every day. Spent uninterrupted time with my wife. Attended or rented any Bruce Willis or Denzel Washington movie ever made.

What You Do For Yourself Now:
Get home at 4:15; Kiss my wife good-bye as she leaves for work at 4:30; Play with Andrew; feed Andrew; play with Andrew again; put Andrew down for bed; watch the Phillies and American Idol; feed the cats; kiss my wife hello at 10:00 PM; have dinner with her at 10:30; watch old episodes of Frasier with her; go to bed. Repeat each day.

What is your favorite thing about being a FATHER?
Watching Andrew’s new facial expression that occur daily, feeding Andrew while he has to listen to patriotic music. I love playing with him and watching him explore new things. Finally, knowing that I will have a life-long buddy.

What is the one thing you wish you’d known before you had children?
How hard it is to find balance in life, and how much love I feel for my boy.

What would you do with an extra free hour in your day?
I would love to do more home improvement projects. Run and Lift.

Who are your go-to people when you have a parenting question? Well, I’m a guy...so I usually go to my wife when I have questions. But when we both don’t have the answers, I go to my friends at work who are moms (Katy Peck and Robyn Danza). I will not ask my mom for advice. For her everything is rooted in doctor’s visits and allergies. Any problem according to my mom is allergy related. We choose not to live in fear like that.

What is the one thing your child(ren) do that always makes you smile?
Andrew chuckles and screams when he’s happy. I love watching Andrew jump in his excersaucer as he’s listing to Julie Andrews sing “The Lonely Goatherd” from Sound of Music (you know the puppet scene) or jumping to John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” Andrew likes a little James Brown and Stevie Wonder as well.

Who is your favorite fictional mother? Claire Huxtable, but my favorite dad would have to be her husband, Cliff.


If you could be someone you know for a day, who would it be? I’d like to be Steve Quick. I admire his work ethic, his undying friendship, and his ability to run faster than me. Really, though, I’d like to be Bruce Willis and wear a tank top as I climbed elevator shafts.

If you could ban people from doing something, what would it be? Hurting children, students cursing in the hallways at school, abortions, and putting smut on TV during prime-time hours. I really try to find something good. Thankfully Family Ties, Quantum Leap, The Cosby Show, Golden Girls are all on DVD.

If you could make one mixed CD that would be the only music you could listen to for the rest of your life, what songs would you put on it?
“The Hurricane” by Bob Dylan
“Changes” by Tupac Shakur
“Prelude: Angry Young Man” by Billy Joel
“The Wanderer” by Johnny Cash
“Long Black Veil” by Dave Matthews Band
“My Way” by Frank Sinatra
“Scenes From and Italian Restaurant” by Billy Joel
“Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash
“Sweet Child O’Mine” by Guns N Roses
“Lady” by Lenny Kravitz
“Down” by 311
“Crusin” by Smokey Robinson
“Californication” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Ch Ch Check It Out” by the Beastie Boys
“Intergalactic” by the Beastie Boys

Of course there’s always “Sexyback” by Justin Timberlake. But that may be a stretch for me to actually bring sexy back. I’d have to find it first or have had it once upon a time to bring it back.

For the record: A profile of parent is not always an invested Mom, but an invested Dad as well. One Maid O Milking is a great friend of mine, and like all good friends, it’s not a friendship if you can’t bust on each other. Rest assured, Maid O’ Milking sends her fair share of digs my way.
****Special thanks to Mike for this week's submission; it's especially nice to hear from a father's perspective. If you'd like to include yourself in the weekly feature, simply answer the questions above and send them in with a picture to: dalessandrochristine@gmail.com

Where Are The Parents

So let me start by saying that, when it comes to the world of art, I am all for "L'art pour l'art". I try to keep an open mind when an artist goes avant garde, even though it may seem a little over the top. I really try.

Today's scandal is circulating around Miley Cyrus, who, at the very vulnerable age of 15, posed for the cover of Vanity Fair without any clothes, draped only in a sheet. Her back is fully exposed and, while everything else is covered, the image is pretty provocative. And, again, she is fifteen and a role model to more than a few, very young and impressionable girls.

Other shots in the magazine are a little more subdued, showing her with her famous (D-list) father and a few tamer pictures. And, of course, the reaction to such a young girl in such a suggestive image is completely expected, and the cynic in me believes that may have been the exact intention (forget about homeroom and homecoming...she must think of her career).

Also as expected, everyone is back tracking. Miley claims to be embarassed, the parents claim to have had no idea, and apologies abound. On the other side, Vanity Fair and Annie Lebowitz (the famed photographer and architect of the shoot) are both discounting the parents' feigned ignorance, and even going so far as to produce footage showing the process of the shoot, with everyone laughing, smiling, and perfectly okay with what is transpiring.

All of this begs the question, who's to blame?

Not Miley...she is living in quite an interesting little vacuum and entirely too young to make such judgement calls when she is surrounded by adults telling her what to do. When I think of who I was in 9th grade, I just assumed everyone had my best intentions in mind all the time...she probably does as well.

Not Disney....an easy scapegoat, but not in this case.

Vanity Fair....not exactly a moral high ground, but they were also not the ones in charge of how the shoot played out.

Not even the photographer....I realize Annie Lebowitz is insanely popular (I'm actually not a huge fan), but she is also well respected for her involvement and interaction with her subjects. She apparently shares everything she shoots with them....no surprises, in other words.

Which leaves us with the parents. They were there the entire time, they are her guardians, and they let her down in this one.

Am I wrong?

I really dislike The View, but I think Whoopi Goldberg really got this one right:

So, I'm Thinking About Having a 3rd Child

According to another recent study, chocolate (especially dark chocolate), significantly lowers your chances of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy.

According to a Yahoo News! report:

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is rich in a chemical called
theobromine, which stimulates the heart, relaxes smooth muscle and dilates blood vessels, and has been used to treat chest pain, high blood pressure, and hardening of the arteries, Dr. Elizabeth W. Triche of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and colleagues write.

Yum.

And, as far as a third child goes....I was kidding. Now, will someone please help my mother off the floor, she surely must have fainted.


Finding Your Way Through the Trenches

If you have a child under 6 months old, you are at a stage in parenting I like to refer to as “the trenches”. You and your baby fill the days on a pretty steady schedule of feeding, napping, and diaper changing. However, as the clock slowly ticks by, and after 3,000 rounds of rattle shaking, board books, and peekaboo, you might find yourself wondering, “Now what?”.

You may be tired, bored, confused as to how to better pass the time, or all of the above. If you are, you are certainly not alone. I remember thinking of reasons to go for another walk, talk on the phone, or find something (anything) for us to do to break up the monotonous routine of the day.

I also remember eagerly looking forward to the next stage of development, one that may include more interaction between mother and child, and more things to experience, learn, and adapt. What I failed to realize (the toddler years were yet to educate me), is that these times are so short, I should just learn to live in the moment.

For that reason, the experience I had with my second child was much different. I appreciate the fact that temper tantrums, constant running and hiding, and downright orneriness are not yet a part of his day. The days now fly, and, ironically, I wish the time
wouldn’t move quite so fast.

And I know there are more than a few grandparents out there who know exactly what I am talking about.

For those of you in the trenches, here are a few things to keep in mind while you spend your days:

5) This child will some day be a teenager, which means not only will they not rely on you so much, they might also pretend not to know, understand, or even like you (the last will only be pretend…I promise).

4) In a few months, they will be running, jumping, hiding, and terrifying / exhausting you to no end. And just wait until they learn how to climb the stairs….

3) Doesn’t it seem like yesterday when your world was consumed by nights out on the town, with worries contained to clothes, friend drama, and work deadlines? It probably seems like it went by quickly (and you may even long for those days). Apply that quick passage of time and longing to revisit it, to your child’ early years, and then multiply it times 100.

2) Live in the moment. Sure, I grew tired of reading Goodnight, Gorilla after the 1,000 time on any given day (it has no words!), but when I go back to it now, I still smile. Try to live in every moment, even if it’s the same one….over and over and over.

1) You have no way of realizing how much you are doing for your child by creating a safe and loving environment. They can’t tell you and though they will not remember all your time and commitment to them at this age, they are already enjoying your care and influence, and, most importantly, they know they are loved.

So, do not feel guilty if you find yourself watching the clock, or giving the baby to your husband the minute he walks through the door….no one ever said parenting was easy (even at this age), but it is the hardest, best job you’ll ever have.

Monday's Meals

This recipe comes straight from Williams Sonoma, which means it is unnecessarily complicated (is it really awful to use lemon juice?), requires state of the art cooking accessories (available only at their store), and amazingly delicious.

Also, would you believe this is a kids recipe?? They tout this as a fun and easy kid recipe, though recommend parents stay nearby for some help.

Okay, at what age should we expect our children to cut lemon with a sharp knife, operate a juicer, and press and chop garlic?

I don’t think we’ve quite hit that milestone on our end.

However, much like teen Jeopardy, this Williams Sonoma recipe may be one I can actually pull off.

Glazed Baby Back Ribs


When you serve these delicious ribs, be sure to pass around plenty of paper napkins!

Ingredients:
1 large lemon
1 cup tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 large garlic clove
2 pounds (2 racks) baby back ribs

Directions:
Before you start be sure an adult is nearby to help.

1) Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2) Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil.

3) Begin the glaze- Put the lemon on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the lemon in half crosswise. Twist the lemon halves over the cone of a citrus juicer to juice it. Pick out the seeds, measure out 3 tablespoons juice, and then pour it into a small saucepan.

4) Add the ketchup, honey, Worcestershire sauce, butter, ginger and coriander to the saucepan.

5) Chop the garlic- Put the garlic clove on the cutting board. Place the flat part of a metal spatula over the garlic clove and press down hard with the heel of your palm to break and loosen the papery skin. Don't worry if you smash the garlic a little. Peel off the skin and throw it away. Using the knife, chop the garlic into tiny pieces. Add the garlic pieces to the saucepan.

6) Boil the glaze- Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring the ketchup mixture to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat.

7) Coat and cook the ribs- Put the ribs in the foil-lined roasting pan. Pour the glaze over the ribs, turning the ribs to coat both sides with the glaze. Arrange the ribs meaty side up. Cover the roasting pan tightly with another layer of aluminum foil, put it in the oven and bake for 1 hour.

8) Remove the ribs- Ask an adult to help you open the oven and carefully slide out the oven rack. Wearing oven mitts, carefully lift the roasting pan from the oven and place it on a heatproof counter or other surface.

9) Brown the ribs- Using the tongs, carefully pull back the aluminum foil from the roasting pan. Be careful: The foil and steam will be very hot! Throw away the foil. Ask an adult to help you put the roasting pan with the ribs back in the oven. Bake the ribs until they are browned and the meat is very tender, about 1 hour more. Ask an adult to help you remove the roasting pan from the oven. Separate the ribs

10) To serve, let the ribs cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Using the tongs, transfer the rib racks to a cutting board. Ask an adult to help you now. Holding the ribs steady with a meat fork, use a knife to slice between the bones and separate the individual ribs. Pile the ribs onto a serving platter and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Kid Clip

Britain's Got Talent seems to produce as many nutty performances as the American version, but this particular kid had me absolutely engaged. Funny, entertaining, and much older than his age, this is clearly going to be someone we'll (or, at least England) will see again.

Enjoy!




Quote of the Day


"The best time to give advice to your children is while they're still young enough to believe you know what you're talking about."
---Unknown

Picture of the Day


Even on the cloudiest, windiest of days....a child will find some sunshine.



Send your favorite kid pictures to: dalessandrochristine@gmail.com