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"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fun Fact: Babies are born without kneecaps.  They do not appear until the child reaches two to six years of age.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WTH Wednesday: Snackies

Snack snack snack
All day long
Snack snack snack
While I sing this song 
(with apologies to Adam Sandler, and you, dear reader, if you now have this song in your head.  What crap we listened to back in the day, eh?)

We just made it through a very looooong summer.  It was long because: 1. I have children  2. I have children  3. somewhere along the lines I ... birthed children.

Ok, so it wasn't THAT bad.  But we had daily disagreements on the following topics: 1. "don't annoy your brother" 2. "don't scream at your sister" 3. "go OUTSIDE" 4. "please wear SHOES outside" 5. "no, we are not watching television," and 6. "NO, you do NOT NEED TO EAT right now.  You just had  (insert meal
here).  Go play."

So now a break to pause and reflect on the Child Snack Culture.  If you're a Mommy, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  It was the first thing I heard about when we left my daughter's preschool: "What'd you do today?"  "We had a SNACK!" "uh huh. what ELSE did you do?"  Every day: The Snack Report.

We eat breakfast at 8:30.  Preschool: 9-11:30  We eat lunch at 12 ish.

Soccer: snack signups passed around at first meeting.  Soccer starts at 8:45 (we ate breakfast at 8).  Till 9:45.  Then, as kids leave the field, they grab a snack and a drink from the obedient parent volunteers and leave for home.

Gymnastics Camp: starts at 9, ends at 12.  We ate breakfast at 8:30. I am instructed by my daughter to be sure to bring a snack tomorrow ... "for after we're done."  As in, right before I pick her up.

Vacation Bible School: snack (THEMED, to boot).  Sunday School/Nursery: snack.  The extended care program for Kindergarten (two hours, tops, after the lunch I packed): snack.

According to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center:

"Snacks are important part of a child’s diet. It is important to understand that young children need more frequent meals than adults, and they need snacks between meals to support growth and development.  A mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack can increase a child’s intake of dairy, fruits and vegetables.  When the snacks are planned, the child will most likely have a healthier snack. Also, having snacks will cut down on the feeling of hunger and less likelihood of overeating at mealtimes by going for second helpings." (emphasis mine)

I would love to increase my children's intake of nutrient-dense, low calorie (or even high fat, in terms of dairy) foods.  For them to be munching apple slices (sans the caramel dip, Puh-leaze), sesame sticks, organic yogurt (hold the hormones) or broccoli trees.  But in this over-processed, convenience-addicted, contaminate-paranoid, allergy-sensitive society, the snacks provided are shelf-stable carbs at best; dyes, HFCS and preservatives out the wazoo at worst.  Little Hugs? Cheetos?  Pudding from the shelf (as opposed to the cold, dairy section variety, which at least has a bit of redeeming nutritional content)?  "Rolled up sheets of fruit-flavored rubber that look suspiciously like wallpaper"? (Barbara Dale)

Look, I'm sympathetic to the snack idea.  It's a treat.  It's a bribe.  It's a break for the teacher/caregiver (BELIEVE ME, I'm sympathetic).  But an hour after they've had, hopefully, a nutritious, well-balanced meal at home? They can wait another 30 minutes.  Keep your Freezy Pop and pass the hummus, please.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's the Little Things

A trip to the local hardware store made my day.  Perhaps even my week.

My mission: 100 washers.  You're going to laugh at me, but here goes...

My purpose: to put one on each hanger in my closet, so that when I wear something, I can take the washer off.  If the washer's still on at the end of the season, out it goes.  Yeah, 'cause I'm anal like that.

I know, I know!  I can turn the the hangers around.  I can put a piece of tape on the hanger.  I could put a rubber band around the hanger.  I could make a list of everything I wear every day (don't think I haven't considered it).  Sigh.

Anyway, I came up with the idea last night, and ran with it today.  I have never been to this hardware store before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how bright and clean it is.  The cashier-person (she could be the owner, for all I know?!) was very pleasant and helpful.  She counted out 100 washers.  It was the best $5 I've ever spent in days.

So as I practically skipped out of the store with my sack o' rings, I happened to turn my head to see ....

(Can you hear the angels singing?)  I have been looking for a Pyrex measuring pitcher forEVER.  (Ok, not ever.  For probably a week.  Still, when I obsess, I OBSESS.)  I needed something less clunky than my TWO cup measuring pitcher to use with my new kitchen gadget.  And there, sitting in the HARDWARE store (I'd been online a bunch of places, and Target ...), was the perfect, this-week's-problem-solving item.


So I had to return to the cashier ... who, knowing the purpose of the rings, and seeing the ecstatic look on my face from finding a measuring device, surely thinks I'm a nutcase.  Oh, and she goes to my church, which means she can whisper and point the next time she sees me.  Oh well.  *grin*  I am in anal-retentive Type A OCD bliss.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment (on Saturday)

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

I Love This: Bananagrams

I am a Werd Nerd.

I love crosswords and word searches and even fill-ins.  I play the letter games on My Baby.  My second favorite game on is Word Whomp.  I play a mean Perquacky, Mad Gab, Last Word and Balderdash.

I despise, however, Scrabble.  People who recognize my love of language are sometimes surprised by this fact.

Here's my beef with Mr. A.M. Butts and his 1938 invention: I can come up with a b-e-a-Utiful word.  Use all my letters.  Even use a J.  BUT THERE IS NOWHERE ON THE BOARD TO PLAY IT.  So there it sits, turn after turn being scavenged to form "jet," "help" and "tide."  Yawn.  No one will ever know the brilliance sitting here, full of hope, in my letter tray, waiting for its chance to leap onto the Triple Word Box.  Rats.

Enter: Bananagrams!  The free-form Scrabble-like game in a banana bag.  Excellent!  Here's why I love this game:

1. Go at your own pace: you're not holding anyone up by trying to think of a word using your X.  Take all the time you need!

2. Clicky ivory-like tiles.  Very tactile.  I'm all about tactile.

3. No one's words are IN YOUR WAY.

4. No silly colored squares to trifle with.

5. No math.  Really. (well, unless you are going with tournament-style, and then I guess you track how many tiles the loser(s) have left).

6. PORTABILITY.  Big for me: tidy packaging.  No standard-sized board game box under your arm, announcing: "We are about to engage in a terribly annoying game that will take at least an hour!" as you walk into the room.  Nope, slide this puppy into a coat pocket and you can be Stealth Word Monger.

7. Quality: Yes, it's possible the zipper could die on the banana.  But you could just toss the letters into something fabulous like this.  What happens when you get coffee on the Scrabble board? a trip to Toys R Us.

8. Semi-even playing field: you don't have to know all the three-letter words that start with "e" to play your last tile.  You simply make what you know, and if you get stuck, you pull apart some other word and make something different.  If you don't naturally think of words like "conveyance," "naturalist" and "garbanzo," you can stick with "chairs," "package," and "train."  No problem.

I am a Bananagramma Mamma-Jamma.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I feel compelled to add today: When I was growing up, I poured over the Calvin and Hobbes anthologies we had around the house.  My parents were big fans, too.  So much so that this became part of our family vernacular:


It's what Calvin's dad, dressed as Santa, said when he stubbed his toe? trying to do something quiet and Santa-like.  Thought it was so funny I memorized it.  It's a good one to have in your bag of tricks, so that at least one of your 85 swear words (see previous post) are hilarious and make you laugh :)
Fun Fact: 85 = the number of taboo or swear words spoken, per day, by the average English speaker.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fun Fact: Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories an hour.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Works For Me: UnPaper Towels

I recycle. I go easy on electricity. I try to buy items with minimal (read: small, tidy) packaging. I use reusable bags at the grocery store.

I still hate CFL bulbs.

You can pry my "carbon credits" from my cold, dead hands.

So my choice to ditch the paper towel habit, although seemingly ecologically motivated, is truly due to only one kind of green -- the cha-ching kind.

A year ago we had no kitchen, and no running water on the first floor. FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR. I was able to cook in the oven (located conveniently in my dining room) and microwave (see above). All this was only a few steps away from the fridge ... you get the picture. No water on the first floor meant washing dishes in a utility sink in the basement. You know, the kind into which a washing machine drains.

I donned the martyr robe but not the pants; I lugged down pots, pans, coffee mugs and serving spoons, but we used disposable plates, bowls, cups and utensils. For. A. Year. I contributed personally to deforestation, and the amount of trash we generated in that time ... scandalous!

Because we had no running water, sticky fingers and table cleaning and all other general cleaning was done with paper towels. I bought WATER, too, by the gallons, and made my own wipes. When paper towels were on sale and I had coupons, I stocked up. When I discovered the lovely softness of Viva towels, my heart went pitterpat; where had these been all my life?

But then, as we started PAYING for the new kitchen, I started trying to think of ways to cut back. What purchases were habit, that I could rethink? Not just avoiding the impulse buy, or putting off the big-ticket purchase till we could pay cash, but what little things were bit-by-bit biting us in the tush? I use coupons faithfully, I look for sales, try to match it all up ... but what could I just stop buying?

Paper towels.

Unpaper towels: Made In The Red Barn

I replaced my upright paper towel holder with a Towel House from  Rationale: it would be hard to kick the paper towel habit.  I didn't need a full-sized microfiber cloth for the little wipe ups.  I didn't want to wipe down a sticky face with a dish rag.  So one day, instead of reaching for the paper, I was pulling out one of these babies ------->.

I still love the feel of Viva towels, and give them (especially in select-a-size) a hearty thumb up.  I have an emergency roll under the sink for bodily functions TP can't handle, putting over bacon in the microwave, and drying out my cast iron pans.  That's it.  It's practically buried under the sink, and hence, I don't use it.

Going cloth in lieu of paper.  It works for me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment (on Monday)

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fun Fact: Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backward, and for that reason they are featured on the Australian coat of arms.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Foto Friday: This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fun Fact:  The blood in the famous shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho was in fact Hershey's chocolate syrup.