H is for Happy – a-to-z blog challenge 2014

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H

There is no better place to be in life than Happy.  When I was a kid, I had a very definite opinion of what Happy was, where I would be in order to find it, what my life circumstances would have to be for me to achieve it.

Looking back over the nearly 50 years that I’ve been here, I realize that Happy is less a place I have to work to get to – it just kind of happens.  And it hasn’t mattered whether there has been money in the bank.  It hasn’t mattered where we’ve lived.  It certainly hasn’t mattered that not everything was going my way.

I don’t know when I learned it, but I know that I’ve found happy in the strangest places.  It’s made me Happy that someone has struck up a conversation in a grocery store check out.  It made me Happy when Dr. Veitia sat next to me on a sofa in my hospital room a few years ago, when the infectious disease doctor wouldn’t even come into my room.  And as much pain as I was in and as sick as I was all three times, it made me Happy to bring all three of my daughters into this world.

Hearing my littlest beauty girl singing this song on the back seat of the car on the way to school?  That’s Happy.  And it’s when you realize that it honestly doesn’t take much to find Happy.  It really is the little things.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dpahtm6oJ28

Celebrity Kid Pictures – Home Run or Foul Play?

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As Halle Berry was traveling through LAX this week, she and her fiance Olivier Martinez got into an altercation with the paparazzi.  This is not Halle’s first trip to that rodeo, as she has enjoyed a screamfest or two in the past with photographers, trying to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood Hottie and her tiny charge.

So.  What’s the deal?

There are celebrities making enough money to buy small third world countries by selling photos of their children.  Celebrity parents frequently take children with them to red carpet events and movie premiers, putting them out there for the world to see.  I’m not saying Halle Berry did, and perhaps she has every right to be angry at photographers trying to invade the privacy of her daughter.  But how much privacy are these kids typically entitled to?

There are many celebrities who keep their kids under wraps – and I’m not talking about the real under wraps, like Michael Jackson did with his kids – but under wraps as in out of the public eye as much as possible.  Some celebrities don’t release information pertaining to their babies births – no name announcement or cutesy baby photos in the press.  Then you’ve got the Jolie-Pitt clan, who are out in public with their famous parents all the time.

Should the paparazzi be punished for taking photos of these children?  Should celebrities do more to protect their children from unwanted attention?

Discuss.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 21 – Thankful for Quiet Days

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There seems to always be a lot of noise in my house.  A dog always has something to bark at, one kid is always yelling at another kid, and Jim is always trying to be heard over the cacophony, and me yelling at all of them to shut the hell up.  It’s a wonder anyone ever gets heard.

But then there are the quiet days.  The kids are at school, the dogs are curled up sleeping, and Jim is on his computer – with his headphones on.  It feels like I have the house to myself – no one to bother me, no on to interrupt my train of thought, and no one demanding something somewhere.

And I hate it.

I wander the house, looking for something to do – even when I have something to do – just to try and attract a crowd.  I start baking or cooking or making lunch, which brings the dogs running.  I open and close the refrigerator door, just to hear it close.  I even tap louder on the keyboard.

I love having all my kids home, even for the lengthy summer vacation.  After so many years of traveling, I love seeing Jim every day.

I am thankful for the quiet days, because they remind me of the great appreciation I have for living in a loud, crazy, kid filled home.

School Friends, Teachers, Tutors – and the Christmas Shopping List Grows Longer!

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With three daughters, all of whom have friends and teachers they like to give holiday gifts to, it seems that the holiday budget has to grow to nearly the size of the national debt in order for me to accommodate all the people on the list!  The kids also like to give a little something to the grandparents that’s just from them.  Add to that the people I always find at this time of year that I’d like to give a little something to – like the two girls who tutor me in chemistry and save my sanity.  And the guy who works the tutoring desk who asked me the other day if I knew the DMX song that was playing in the tutoring center (I did not) – he earned a spot on the list by insulting me when he said, “But you’d probably know it if it was Tony Bennett, right?”  He gets the burnt cookies.

But what is a mom with a budget tighter than that chunky monkey Santa’s squeeze down the chimney to do?

Let’s go to my old favorite standby – Oriental Trading.  The place has everything you could ever want to make your own inexpensive gifts!  Something cute I found that would be great for Grandmoms and teachers is this adorable gingerbread man necklace.  It’s festive for the holidays, and you can make 12 of them from one kit – that’s just over 50 cents each!  For the teacher, add a $5 Starbucks gift card, and she’ll have something handmade to help her remember your child for years to come, plus she gets a little treat while she’s out doing her own Christmas shopping!  You can find this and MANY more gift ideas at www.orientaltrading.com.

For your teenagers friends, think along the lines of something your own teen would like.  Perhaps have him/her choose a collection of songs they like and make each teen a CD that they’ll all enjoy listening to.  Teenagers also love photos of themselves with their friends, and you can find frames of all sizes and shapes at the dollar store.  Buy a simple frame, grab some wooden letters that spell out BFF at your craft store, have your teen paint them, then glue them to the front of the frame.  Print out your teen’s favorite picture with each friend to put in the frames, and viola – the perfect gift for around $2.50!

Younger kids get a kick out of snowman soup!  Again, hit up places like Oriental Trading or the dollar store, and find some inexpensive holiday themed mugs (Oriental Trading usually has plastic ones at $10 per dozen.  In each one, put a single packet of hot cocoa mix, a chocolate kiss or two, a candy cane, and a few marshmallows.  Wrap the whole thing in cellophane, and tag it with this little poem:

Snowman Soup
Was told you’ve been real good this year.
Always glad to hear it!
With freezing weather drawing near,
You’ll need to warm the spirit.
So here’s a little Snowman Soup
Complete with stirring stick.
Add hot water, sip it slow.
It’s sure to do the trick!


These also make great party favors for your holiday parties, and if you are going to make a bunch, skip the mug and put the ingredients in a holiday treat bag, twist tied at the top.  You eliminate the cost of the mug and save about .75 per gift!

Never underestimate the value of Christmas cookies and holiday fudge.  I know we all say a dozen times a year “If I eat one more Christmas cookie, I’m going to explode!”  But we usually say it as we are snagging another cookie.  What other time of the year are you going to have this many fabulous treats in front of you?  As someone who is lucky I don’t burn the slice and bake variety of cookies, homemade treats are one of my favorite gifts!

I hope this helps you save a little in your holiday budget for you to do something nice for yourself this Christmas season.  Splurge on some fuzzy slippers you can wear while sipping your snowman soup and noshing on those Christmas cookies.  You know you deserve it!.

 

 

 

Is It Just Me? Breastfeeding Baby Doll? Seriously?

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I don’t think of myself as a prude by any means.  I am a staunch supporter of breastfeeding babies, and have done so with two of my three daughters.  Breastfeeders?  More power to you.

But do I want to watch my six year old breastfeeding a baby doll?  I’m not so sure.  There is a poster hanging above my desk that my husband – in one of his more “idiot husband” moves – purchased while on vacation.  In the poster, he is Hercules, and Granuaile – age 2 or 3 – is whoever the female Hercules counterpart is (Xena? Wonder Woman? Hootie McBoobs?).  The poster disturbs me on many levels, not the least of which is the fact that my seriously balding husband has a head of long, thick, ponytail-able hair.  But the thing that bothers me most is that every time I glance up, my three year old is staring at me over the top of her D cup boobs.

So, while I certainly think children should know about breastfeeding, and how it’s mommy’s job to make sure the baby has everything they need, I’m not sure I’m ready to carry on a conversation with my little girl about engorgement; leaking breasts; or the inevitable saggy boobs.

Or am I taking this too far?

You decide.  I think I like it better when baby doll milk comes from the little plastic bottles, where the milk disappears when you tip it upside down.

Putting a Price Tag on Love – Inexpensive Ideas for your Valentine Kid

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As if it’s not enough that we’re just recuperating from the pressures of what to buy whom for Christmas, now Valentine’s Day is staring us in the face!  No one wants to look like a cheap sucker when expressing their love on Valentine’s Day, but in this economy, with your good friends Mr. Mastercard and Miss VISA expecting a little something to reward them for how loyal they were to you during Christmas, what can you afford to do?

Let’s run it down by the list of people who might be expecting gifts and see if we can’t help you show them that you care for them with a champagne heart but a beer pocketbook.

Gifts for the Kids


Drugstores all over America make it easy for you to treat your littles to something sweet for Valentine’s Day, and because kids don’t really get the whole gist of putting a price on love, you can get away really inexpensively here.

1 – Walmart has a Valentine aisle – as does Target, Walgreens, and CVS.  You’ll find $5 plush toys, .99 candy filled hearts, $1 Valentine socks, and other inexpensive goodies.  You can fill a gift bag for your kids for under $10 and have it bursting with Valentine treats.

2 – Valentine clothes – We almost always get Valentine PJs for our girls, mostly because they usually need new PJs, but also because we can find for less than $20 (and sometimes for less than $15) a cute Valentine set of Pajamas and a stuffed animal, so we avoid the candy and sweets route.  You can find Valentine PJs, t-shirts, and socks at stores like Target, Walmart, and Old Navy.  I kinda like this little t-shirt for $5!

At Old Navy – http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=64713&vid=1&pid=818880&scid=818880012

3 – A Coupon Booklet – Treat your child to a Frosty at Wendy’s, a hot apple pie at McDonald’s, a trip to the library for story time, or even a pedicure and manicure, courtesy of Mom.  You can fill a book of coupons with free or almost free things that your kids will love!  Promise a picnic at the park on one coupon.  A popular coupon at our house is the Get Out of One Chore coupon, where your child can redeem the coupon to get out of setting the table or walking the dog, without risking allowance!  You might even offer to play that horrendous board game they got for Christmas – you know, the one that you’d rather skip playing in favor of a root canal?  Just keep reminding yourself that it’s all in the name of love.

4 – Special Valentine’s Day Meal – You probably have red plastic table cloths or red napkins left over from Christmas – or you picked them up for 75% at an after Christmas sale, so go ahead and decorate your table!  Dress it up in reds, pinks, and whites for a festive themed setting your kids will love.  Then when they sit down to a meal, it doesn’t have to be fancy, just Valentiney!  Use cookie cutters to cut heart shaped sandwiches with their favorite filling, or put that art school degree to work and shape a meatloaf or a pizza for your special kids.  Use food coloring to put a Valentine hue into mashed potatoes, biscuits, or muffins; and consider a dessert with strawberries!

The thing kids love most is your time.  If all else fails, read them an extra bedtime story, take time to listen to their playground tales, or volunteer to be the guinea pig as they try their hand at being a beautician.  Kids know that you love them when you make time for them, and your time is the one thing that really doesn’t cost you anything.  It is the best – and the cheapest – gift you can give your kids on Valentine’s Day – and every day.

Bullies – They’re Not Who You Think They Are

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So, Eilis came in from school today quite upset. In school, two little girls handed out invitations to the other girls for their upcoming birthday party. Eilis was the only girl in the class who was not the recipient of an invitation, and despite assurances from one of the girls that they just “forgot” her invitation, she was hurt. Because Eilis has been the victim of bullies before, and this sort of felt like bullying.

Now, truth be told, this was an accident. The mom to one of the girls was kind enough to call me and explain that the invitation was misplaced when it was pulled aside to make sure the name was correctly spelled. This was a simple misunderstanding, but the defenses were already up.

Because this is what you think of when you think of a bully

It’s always the bigger kid, picking on the little kid.  We have this vision in our heads that bullies came in big, burly packages.

But they don’t always.  When the group of girls at your daughter’s lunch table stands their lunch boxes up in front of them, then tells your daughter it’s because they don’t want to have to see her while they eat, that’s bullying.  Or when they make fun of your daughter on dollar dress down day because her clothes aren’t as hip or contemporary as their’s, that’s bullying.

And those bullies look more like this

They’re the kids that don’t want your kid in their games.  They whisper about her behind her back – or they whisper about something else right in front of her.

They make your kid feel less than she’s worth.

And no matter what we do to prevent bullying, no matter what threats the schools make to punish the bullies, they’re still going to be there.

Because some people just can’t accept that other people are different.  No matter what the differences are.

In our case, this time, it was a simple misunderstanding.  But it isn’t always that way.

Sometimes, it’s just genuine hurt.