Wednesday, January 28, 2009

for my writing friends...

I have a guest blog post up at the Writing Academy blog.

I went to a writer's retreat sponsored by the Writing Academy a few years ago. (2005 maybe?) The members I met there are some of the finest writers I know, and they continue to encourage me on my own writing journey.

If you're looking for a great faith-based writing group, check them out!

You put what, where?

Winter in the Midwest is harsh on the skin—especially the hands! After a recent round of a nasty cold and flu virus, I found myself with chapped and bleeding hands from washing them so often.

It was just before bedtime, and I couldn’t find my favorite hand cream. (The good, expensive stuff that actually works.) So I grabbed what was handy: Diaper rash cream.

We’ve used Paladin cream since our twins were born seven years ago, and love it. It’s thick and when the babies had a rash, it went away quickly with a thick layer of this stuff.

So I tried it on my hands overnight. And sure enough—in the morning, my hands were soft again!

It sounds strange, I know. But diaper rash cream on my hands in the winter is what Works for Me! Now head over to Shannon’s for more great tips!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I enjoy cooking. Multigrain waffles from scratch, homemade granola, Alton Brown buttermilk pancakes… the noisy boys know good food when they taste it.

Last week they went grocery shopping with me, and begged me to buy these. (It was Aldi, so hey, at least they were cheap.)

(Note -- ours didn't have the chocolate chips, though I'm sure that would have made a lovely addition to an already oh so nutritious breakfast!)

Last Monday I made them for the first time. Just unwrap, heat in the microwave for a minute, and voila. Breakfast on a stick.

Twin B. exclaimed, “This is the best breakfast you’ve EVER made!”

Twin A. agreed. "Yeah, this is a HIT, Mom. Put this on the 'family favorites' list."

And the toddler? He was too busy scarfing his down to say much of anything.

Alrighty then. It's good to know where I stand!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wait! I know the answer to this one...

The noisy boys are growing up fast, and their questions don't always have simple answers. Can they invite so-and-so over to play? What should they do when someone says a bad word at school? What if someone is mean to them, or to one of their best friends?

Behavior that is clearly black and white in early childhood takes on grayish tones as they mature and grapple with relationships and making good choices.

But I'm happy to report that tonight, Twin A's question was easy to answer:

"Mom?" he asked.
"Yeah?" I answered.
"Can we cut a hole in the wall of the basement?" He asked.
"No," I said.

Yup. No problem.

Don't you just love it when it really is black and white? So easy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I take it back


Who was that upbeat woman who posted yesterday and said she was enjoying winter in Chicagoland?

Doesn't she realize it's -20 degrees outside?

Um. Yeah. Everything I said yesterday? I take it back.

I'm cold, people.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

enjoying winter

It sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Enjoying. Winter.

Yesterday I was walking the noisy boys to school, pushing the toddler’s turbo jogging stroller through a snow drift, and I had a sudden realization: I don’t hate this. In fact, I kind of enjoy bundling up and walking to school every day.

I’m a California girl at heart, and let me tell you, I hate being cold. I used to wear a coat in fifty-degree weather and stay in because it was, well, raining.

The first few years after moving from the Bay Area of California to the tundra that is the Chicago suberbs, I used to regularly think, “Why did we come here?” It was just so cold, and the memory of California’s sunshine was still too fresh.

Now I walk my kids to school when it’s three degrees.

And I like it.

Who would have thought?

Friday, January 9, 2009


The other night Llama Papa and I were both crashed on the living room floor watching our three boys run around, when the toddler decided to give Daddy belly kisses. He lifted his shirt up and gave it his best slobbery try, and laughed hysterically, though the sound effects weren't exactly what he had hoped for.

Twin B. was observing this, and immediately stepped in to provide big brother guidance. "Here, B. Let me show you," he said, "You do it like this," and proceeded to give Llama Papa a loud and long raspberry kiss, much to the delight of the toddler. Twin B. sat up and said proudly, "Don't worry, I can teach you how to do it. I've got skills."

It's good to have skills. And a sense of humor.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I’ll never forget sitting across from the noisy boys’ preschool teacher for my first ever “parent-teacher conference.” I was nervous and concerned. How were my three-year olds really doing? I wondered.

I got tears in my eyes as their teacher went on and on about how wonderful my boys were, how much she enjoyed having them in her class, and—this was the one that made me cry—how well adjusted they were.

(I secretly feared that I had somehow irreparably screwed them up, in only three short years. Little did I know there would be plenty of time for that later.)

The only thing we needed to work on? Their cutting skills. I remember staring blankly at her across the miniature table thinking, you mean I’m supposed to give these little people scissors? Really? I thought I was doing a good job keeping the scissors away from them.

Fast forward a few years and here we are with another toddler. Another chance to “get it right this time around.” So, you guessed it, I give this one safety scissors to practice his cutting skills.

It’s been interesting, to say the least.

Using scissors is probably his favorite activity right now, besides scooting his chair up to the kitchen counter and stacking up piles of bread in the toaster oven, preferably with butter.

The funniest thing is when he disappears for awhile, then comes back with scissors—usually when we’ve said something truly unreasonable, like “no we’re not having macaroni and cheese for breakfast today.” He goes and finds his scissors, and goes to work on that box. Like if he could just get those noodles out, there might be a chance.

Never a dull moment...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

first humbling moment of 2009

The toddler had an unfortunate run in with a cement floor earlier this week and as a result, has a black and blue eye. As in, it looks like he’s been beaten up. Badly.

Yesterday I needed to run to the store for a few things, and brought the toddler with me.

That was mistake #1.

Every time I turned around, a new stranger was smiling at my child saying, “Oh my goodness! What happened to your eye?” I smiled back and explained the fall, trying my best not to look like a child abuser or neglectful parent.

In the meantime, the toddler was busy wreaking havoc in the produce section. First, he wanted to walk. Fine. Then he wanted to sit in the basket of the cart, which just never works out, so I said no.

That was mistake #2.

Have I mentioned that the toddler is two-and-a-half now?

You already know what happens next. The screaming and crying and full blown temper tantrum because he’s not getting what he wants. I calmly picked him up and wrestled him into the cart seat and strapped him in while strangers stopped to stare at the abusive mother in the produce aisle.

It was a proud moment.

I handled it the way any self-respecting mother would—I strapped him in and gave him a chocolate donut.

(I know, I know. This is not a good way to handle a temper tantrum. But we’re talking extenuating circumstances here.)

And what better way to ring in the New Year than with a reminder to not judge others? I rarely know the whole story of what’s really going on with someone else—or their kids.

Grace. If there’s one word to define my life for 2009, I pray that this is the one. We all need more of it.