Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Need a good laugh?

Go read this. I'm crying from laughing so hard. Stupid people may piss me off, but brilliant people brighten my day. Brilliant sarcastic people are my very own ray of sunshine.

Head over to Deb on the Rocks and read about her e-mail battle of the wits. It's not too long, but it is hysterical.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Keyword Analysis

While looking through my stats, I realized that someone found their way here in an attempt to discover, "Reasons why children shove things in nose."

Oh, hun, I have NO FREAKING IDEA, but yeah, I feel your pain.

Halloween: unexpected money-saving tips

By now, you've seen all the articles with tips about making/borrowing/repurposing costumes to save money. I'm not going to waste your time with that. I'm going to share some tips about Halloween that you might not have expected.

1. Buy Halloween socks when they go on sale. In the days/weeks after Halloween, they can go down to as little as a few cents per pair (I spent 12 cents on a pair at Wal-Mart last year). They often come in dark colors, particularly black. This is VERY useful for kids. We bought a ton of them last year and our kids make sure to wear those when we go to indoor play structures. Those places often get their socks very dirty, but with black, no worry about stains.

2. Stock up on Halloween goodies for birthday party goody bags. Last year, we bought those tiny packs of crayons and some glow necklaces half price after Halloween. If we had waited, we could have gotten them even cheaper when they went down to 75% off. We gave them out in goody bags for our son's birthday party. Packs of pencils are particularly useful for this. You can sometimes find a pack of 10+ pencils for a quarter once they go all the way down. If you don't want the Halloween designs, have stickers available at the party and make decorating the pencils one of the crafts/activities.

3. Some Halloween shirts work year-round. I see Wal-Mart has some super cute "costume" shirts this year. They're things like rock star, pirate, zombie, etc. These are cute year round. Some t-shirts are very definitely Halloween, but if you don't mind, you can buy them on sale (they often go down to $1 each and even less) to use throughout the year. Some can be used at other times without being obviously dated. My son had some very "Punk rock" ones that just featured skulls and crossbones. They were Halloween sale finds, but he wore them all the time and lots of people told us how much they liked them.

4. Those color hair sprays are a quick and cheap way to prevent the, "I'm booooooooored," chorus. You can grab them cheap after Halloween. Our homeschool group brings tons of these to summer parties to let the kids go wild. I advise parental intervention and I will tell you that they can stain the skin, but if you're stuck inside on a cold afternoon, you could always head outside with a can of hair color and a towel to cover the kid's clothes and come in with super cute pink hair.

5. Once costumes are dirt cheap, grab some of the basics to use in the future. Black robes are always useful. Wings can be used in a number of costumes. We have a box full of them and I can't tell you how much use we've gotten from them. Capes work with a variety of costumes. Stay away from the trendy costumes (no Hannah Montana wigs or Borat bathing suits), but grab some basics if you can. That gives you the ability to throw together a costume next year cheaply.

6. Throw a Halloween-themed party at another time of the year. My son has decided he wants such a theme for his birthday party in the winter because he wants an excuse to dress up. Fine by me. I'll grab a punch of Halloween-themed party supplies when they go on sale and save myself a ton. This is useful for lots of different holidays. I buy Valentine's Day goody bags/party goods/trinkets to use for my twins' birthday party every year. This past year, I bought those huge packs of lip gloss/nail polish for a deep discount after Xmas, opened the package and split them up in goody bags. We got 25 lip glosses/nail polish bottles for $2 total.

What do you think? Will any of these work for you? What tips do you have to add?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Borrowers: Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Sanity (and your stuff)

Do you loan things out? How often do you get them back ruined? How often do you never get them back at all? Do you borrow things? Do you find you can't remember where you put those shoes your sister loaned you for your baby? Have you ever given back a crib covered in vomit? Have you ever simply not returned things you borrowed?

I have been very blessed in that I have friends who have passed along items to me. It has saved me thousands of dollars. More often than not, those items are given to me, not loaned, but I do occasionally borrow things from friends. It can really be a life-saver. It can also, however, cause much frustration.

I often find myself loaning things to friends/family. Well, I DID. I don't know if I will any longer. I've had a few negative experiences (and one AWFUL experience where my entire maternity wardrobe was thrown away) and at this point, even though some of my friends/family have been wonderful about the things they've borrowed, it's just not worth it.

Since there seems to be some question about what to do/not to do in this situation, I'm compiling a list of the do's and don'ts. Feel free to add your own.

1. Know the difference between loaned and given. If you're being given something, ask, "Do you want this back?" If you're loaning something, be absolutely clear that you will need that item back. Don't mince words. I suggest, in addition to asking/telling in person, double-check via e-mail. That way, if you're borrowing the things, there's no question. If you're loaning the things and people later claim they thought it was a gift, you can pull up that e-mail.

2. Do no loan things with sentimental value. If someone tries to loan such things to you, do NOT take them. From both sides, you never know what will happen. So while it is a lovely gesture to loan that adorable Halloween costume you made for your child's first Halloween to a friend, I advise against it. Family may be a different story, though. Yes, wearing mom or grandma's wedding gown is a wonderful tradition.

3. Be specific about when you need something back. When loaning a too big shirt to a friend because her child is a size bigger than yours, make certain you say, "I'll need that back when my child is in a 6." That way, hopefully, you can avoid seeing that child's younger sister sporting that exact same loaned shirt once yours fits into a 6. *

4. If you destroy it (or don't get it back to them in time because you did pass it along to another child), you MUST do something. Talk to the person who loaned it. How you make it up to them is really up to them. You can't just buy something else and call it good. Maybe they prefer if you repair the piece. Maybe they'll offer to repair it themselves. Maybe they'll want it replaced. Maybe they'll tell you not to worry. It's up to them, though.

5. If you loan something that is destroyed, be reasonable. Yes, they have an obligation to do something about it, but you don't necessarily have the right to demand they replace that 5 year old dress with an expensive brand new one.

6. Return something in at least the same condition you received it. If you've ripped it, set it on fire, doused it in oil, used it as a litter box, hosted a flea circus on it, etc, do NOT simply pack it in a box and pass it back. Let the person know and then see #4. Please, look over items carefully before you return them. If things like being used as a littler box or a site for a flea circus are normal for you, they're probably not for other people. A good rule is to always thoroughly clean things even better than you would your own.

7. Do NOT pass along borrowed things to others without permission.

8. Ask people first if they even want to borrow your items in the first place. On the flip side, if someone is offering you something that you really don't want/need, tell them. If you get a box of children's clothes and find you only plan to use a few items, pass the others back immediately. That can help prevent problems (see #9).

9. Know where loaned items are. Don't pack them away with your things in the attic. Don't shove them in the back of the closet. When you're done with them, PASS THEM BACK asap.

10. Be realistic. Items will have some wear and tear. Although, scribbling all over something with permanent marker falls outside the definition of, "Normal wear and tear." Be prepared for some wear. If you're not comfortable with that, don't loan the item. If you know someone is a perfectionist about clothes and will notice the slightest loose thread (aka: my mom), it might be best to politely decline if they offer to loan you something.

How about you? Do you have any guidelines that you think could help? Have you had a bad experience? A great one? Leave me a comment. I'm always curious to hear.

*Yes, I'm speaking from experience. No, don't worry. If you're reading this, you can rest assured this is not about you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's been called a, "Handful," but never an, "Honor."

I have four children. That's what we always wanted. During my last pregnancy, people apologized to me for the fact that I was having yet another one. Everyone wanted to tell me how rough it would be. People just love to ask, Have you figured out what causes that?" The most common phrase people use when they see us all out is, "You sure have your hands full!" They've been saying this ever since my twins were born and they were my first (and second) children. I usually bite my tongue because you never know what other people are going through, but I always think, "Better full than empty."

We don't consider our family to be all that large, but others seem to be absolutely shocked that we have oh so very many (insert eye roll) children.

So, on Simchat Torah, when we were HONORED for bringing the most children rather than ostracized for it, I felt wonderful.

I love Simchat Torah--love it. It's one of my very favorite holidays. This year, was probably the best yet. My oldest daughters did Israeli dancing with the adults and they sang with their Hebrew school (and did so wonderfully. My oldest daughter really surprised me with her poise and her knowledge). TheBaby fell asleep in my arms after nursing. She slept through all the singing and dancing, but I danced around with her in my arms anyway. TheBoy grabbed flags and ran and danced around with the others. My husband slunk back and tried to hide because he's not a big dancer and doesn't much like the spotlight (yes, it's true what they say about opposites attracting).

Before all the singing and dancing, though, the rabbi announced that the family with the most children in attendance would be called up to open the ark. That was us. So we all went up to do that. It was so nice to honored rather than pitied.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Dinner in a flash.

TwitterMoms and Samsung asked for at least 3 tips for getting dinner ready in a flash. I may be the last person you want to ask about that. I CAN cook, but I'd rather not. I figure, I'm not alone, though, so here are what works for me.

1. Have your husband cook. Who cares if it's done quickly? You don't have to do it. Feel free to do whatever else needs to be done while your oh so adorable and oh so skillful husband whips up a delicious dinner in the comfort of your own kitchen. I lucked out. My husband is a fantastic cook and doesn't mind (or at least doesn't complain) cooking in the evening.

2. Use the crockpot. It doesn't seem quick since it takes all day, but you can throw everything in in the morning and come home to an already cooked meal--no prep time necessary. This is great for me because it also eliminates my cravings for eating out. If I know dinner is ready at home, I'm less likely to suggest going out.

3. Hit the local farmers' market. I realize this won't work for everyone in every climate (at least not year round), but we've found that having fresh (and gorgeous) produce available helps make for a quick meal. I'm far more likely to be willing to cook (see #1) when we have fresh produce on hand.

4. Tilapia Tilapia Tilapia. I LOVE tilapia and it's pretty quick and easy to prepare. Keep some on hand. You can buy a good-size frozen bag (we get 4 lbs) at a decent price. Then, just sautee some onions and throw some tilapia in the pan. It's quick and easy.

5. Eggs. Eggs. Eggs. That's our go-to staple when we're in a hurry and have no idea what to make. Scrambled eggs are super quick and can be altered depending on what you add.

6. Anywhere other than here. When in doubt, go out. I like to go out even when not in doubt. :-) Go somewhere else and let THEM cook for you. Then it doesn't matter how long it takes because, once again, you don't have to cook it.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mommy Moment Winner

I signed back on after Shabbat to find great news.
Woo hoo. I won. I won.
Future Mama over at Baby Makin Machine has a "Mommy Moment" contest each month (although not this month because she has quite a bit going on with her MOD fundraiser. Go help save babies.).

I entered my post "Restoring my Faith in Humanity" for September and I WON. Yay. Yay. Yay.

This month, the prize was a a diaper bag and matching changing blanket from Couturière. The timing on this couldn't be better. You remember my husband's cousin who is now due ANY DAY? The one who lost her job and was evicted? She bought a diaper bag from someone on Craig's List, but it fell apart before she even got a chance to use it. Things have gotten worse for her and she absolutely cannot afford a diaper bag even though her little boy could arrive at any moment. So I'm going to pass this along to her.

A huge thank you to Future Mama at Baby Makin' Machine and to Kayce from Kayce's Doula Journey who was this month's judge. When I saw, "Doula" in the title, I knew her blog would be right up this birth advocate's alley and I was right. I just added myself to her list of followers.

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU. What a fabulous way to begin the week!

Parenting Dilema: What Would You Do?

My twins have a shared e-mail address. They really only use it for a select few friends and family members. We monitor it.

Girl2 recently sent an e-mail to her grandparents (dh's parents) asking when she could see them again (they live far away). Their grandma responded that maybe they could fly out for Chanukah and ended with, "Ask your daddy if that's okay, but don't tell anyone else."

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

I have a pretty good relationship with my in-laws. We're not best buds, but we get along pretty well. I'm not the type who would pitch a fit and insist they couldn't come.

Dh thinks his mother probably meant not to tell MY parents. You see, my parents have this awful habit of insisting on being here every time my in-laws are. My mother must do everything bigger and better than everyone else.

Here's just one example that explains it perfectly. When my mother saw the check I was giving my husband's brother when he got married, she insisted on writing a larger one from her and my father. Mind you, my BIL is no relation to her at all, was in a very comfortable financial situation and that check was TRIPLE what she gave HER ELDEST DAUGHTER when she got married (and my sister was not nearly as comfortable financially when she got married. My mother's financial situation, was the same through both of those weddings). So my in-laws VERY rarely get time here without my parents coming along as well. Dh thinks that's probably what his mother had in mind.

I completely agree on that stance and would love for my in-laws to have some one-on-one time with the kids without the other set of grandparents interfering.

You remember, my FIL has been battling cancer. I want him to have as much time as possible with his grandchildren without interruption. He has NEVER seen his grandchildren without my parents also being here. So I would absolutely agree to an exclusive visit from my in-laws.

Even if that was her intention, I have a big issue with any adult asking a child to keep something secret from an adult. My MIL specifically told my daughter to ask her father--not her, "Parents." Which would imply that she wasn't to tell me. That bothers me not just because she might want to keep it from me, but because I don't think it's appropriate for a child to be told to keep something from a parent. It sets a frightening standard.

I've always told my kids that if an adult asks them to keep something from their parents, the adult is doing something wrong.

I'm interested in what the internetz think. Do you think my reaction is inappropriate? Do you see my point? Should something be said to my MIL?

One reason to move to Israel

In Israel (at least in the religious neighborhoods), I doubt you'd have a construction crew right outside your bedroom window insanely early on Shabbat morning TEARING UP THE FREAKING CURB.

This, of course, is AFTER I was up all night with a vomiting little boy (not sick, but something he ate at oneg after services upset his stomach) and was so looking forward to sleeping in.