Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Always Something to Fear

This past week with Earth Day, we've all heard a lot about what a waste water bottles are. Nearly 70% are not recycled and the cost to transport them is incredible. A couple of years ago, we all used to refill water bottles with tap water. It seemed like a good idea. Washing them in the dishwasher seemed smart because we could sterilize them. All was good until there was rumblings about the toxins that can be released when they are exposed to heat.

For awhile, I somehow managed to ignore the rumblings. But this year, as the weather got warmer, I started to feel really guilty filling my children's water bottles for the park. Was I exposing them to something that will eventually cause cancer? So many things are rumored to cause cancer. I know I cannot avoid them all. But, making a simple switch was something I could do without much hassle. So, I just ordered aluminum water bottles for the boys and myself. They are extremely expensive. But, it at least relieved mommy guilt for at least today.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Common Cents

It took me 36 years to realize that if I turn off my lights instead of leaving them on that I save money. If I leave them on, it is like throwing money away. It is such a simple idea. My dad has been saying this to me since I was probably three years old. I heard him but I couldn't really grasp it until my husband and I created a budget. I tried to lower our electricity bills each month and it was a challenge. But, it helped me digest this simple idea.

Later this evening, I remembered that I had left the kids in the basement and I didn' t turn anything off. I came upstairs and left the kids downstairs by themselves to play. Usually they come up and leave everything on. TV, radio and all of the lights. But, to my surprise, everything was turned off. Everything! I was in complete shock. I constantly sound just like my dad. "Turn off the lights when you leave a room." Maybe it won't take my kids 31 years to understand why.

This is me at age 2 or 3. Apparently my parents were saving some money by cutting my hair at home.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Great Worm Escape

My husband let me sleep in Saturday morning. Just one example of what a great husband he is. But instead of enjoying it, I started to panic. What if the worms have again escaped and are all over the kitchen floor? Luckily, I ended up falling asleep and forgot all about the worms. Well, until I walked into the kitchen. There were six dead red worms on the floor and my little boy picked the live ones up and put them back into their bin. Ugh!

My parents were visiting last night so I thought I better hide the worms in the garage. The worms are very active at night. I couldn't have them escape while they were so nice to watch our children for the evening. After we got home, I looked in the garage and wanted to scream. There were about 10 worms all over the floor, most of them dead. They were squeezing out of the top of the container. So, I handled it just like I handle every problem in my life. I googled "worms escaping." A lot of people have this problem when they first start. There were solutions. Things I could do. I have tried some of them this week. Nothing seems to help. I should have started over. I should have bought a bin from EBay. But instead, I admitted defeat. I quit. Yes, I am no longer vermicomposting. It is so hard me for me to quit at anything. I just hate to quit. But, the worms were making me crazy. I knew it was the right decision when I felt a sense of relief afterwards.

My husband was thrilled with the news. When I told him, he said it was a great decision. He was tired of the worms getting loose. Tired of me worrying about the worms. Tired of the whole process. While I was away this morning, I came home to find that he let me worms loose in our backyard compost area. Can you imagine how happy the worms are to be free? They are free to live outside a plastic little smelly box. They are the lucky worms that didn't die on my kitchen floor!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Not Everyone is Doin' It

My sons went to a good old fashioned birthday party yesterday. We're talking no clowns, no performers, just a cake, pizza and a couple of balloons. The goodie bags were just a few things that my kids loved. They didn't cost more than a couple of dollars. My children raved about them. My kids had a ball and so did I.

About a month ago in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, there was an article about how parents are out of control with birthday parties. The article described lavish parties with IPods in the goodie bags. The article made it seem like this was a normal occurrence. It also said that parents were trying to out do each other. It was a keeping up with the Joneses mentality. Really? I have yet been to a kids party where I thought it was over the top. Sometimes I think too much money was spent on something but overall, I usually feel that the parties are about the same. A lot of times, I feel that money is spent to make it easier on the parents. No house to clean and nothing gets broken if it is at the local kiddie place.

We do spend more on parties than our parents. Most of us had our parties at our houses when we were kids. Maybe we even had goodie bags. I don't really remember them. Today, most parents eventually give in to our kids and have parties at a requested location. We spend more than our parents and our goodie bags are more costly. But overall, there is a normal amount of money that most parents will fork out for their child's birthday celebration. Across the board, most people seem to stay within reason. I know I have never used the word "lavish" to describe a birthday party in Northeast Ohio.

I know, I know, I know. It does happen. Maybe in some circles. Maybe in some big cities. But across America, I am guessing that there are more average parties than spectacular ones. Most are run of the mill. You have the usual Pump It Up (bouncer) parties, Chuck E. Cheese, animal guys, princess parties, etc. The people with the crazy, spectacular parties stick out in your mind or make news. You tell your friends about it.

My kids have not had a party anywhere but our backyard and kitchen. I have held my kids off with the birthday parties at pizza places and science centers. They have asked. I know the time will come when I will bite the bullet. Hmmmm. Now that I think about it, no house to clean, no food to make, no toys to organize, priceless. Why didn't I do this sooner?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blogging Miracle

It really is a blogging miracle. I swear this happened. Today after lunch, I walked to my mailbox and saw my neighbor across the street with her small child. I decided that today was the day. I was going to put myself out there and just shout hello. I wasn't going to wait for her to pretend not to see me. Just as I started to say hello, she actually looked me right in the eye and said hello. Yes, she even waved. I can't believe that after these past years, she finally waved and said hello.

It got me thinking, if I blog about it will it happen? I wish. But if I could just throw this out into the cosmos, here are my wildest wishes.....(beyond the usual healthy children, family, happy marriage, etc.)

1. My boys will stop fighting at least for one day
2. I will age gracefully
3. My husband and I will go on a fantastic European cruise soon
4. I will finally find a pair of jeans that fit even once I wear them and wash them
5. I will meet Prince
6. I will have clothes that fit me and the occasion
7. I will find my real calling in life once the children are in school
8. My house will be clean at all times without much effort.
9. I will be in the best shape of my life for my twenty year high school reunion in 2010
10. The Democratic Party will finally select their candidate for the fall election

What are your WILDEST wishes?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shy or snotty?

I have a neighbor that won't say hi to me. It is really ticking me off. When she first moved in, I would wave and try to be friendly. I sent over a basket of chocolates and a welcome note. I didn't hear from her.
Two years ago, this shy neighbor was locked out of her house, wearing her bathrobe while holding her new born in the winter. She came over and we spent about 45 minutes waiting for her husband to come home from work to let her in. We talked and she was really nice.

But today, as I rolled my trash cans to the curb, there she was, doing the same. She was rolling the trash cans to the curb. OK. She can hear my trash cans. I hear hers. She will not look up. I am dying to say hello. Nothing.

Sometimes I feel too shy to say hello. I understand the fear. This has been going on for years. Would you just look up and acknowledge that we are both humans living similar lives?

I know that this is my problem. It isn't really a problem. I just think about it daily when I see her and wondered how others have handled this sort of situation. Should I yell out her name and give her a big wave? Should I just start ignoring her? Should I let my dog loose and hope she ends up in her yard? What to do?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Who Knew You Could Buy Worms from Ebay?

The Earth Day Celebration Continues.......

"Mommy ordered worms from EBay and we are going to keep them in our kitchen," said Ryan to my mother-in-law. It was such a weird sentence that she didn't even know how to respond. She just said "a huh, Ryan." She looked at me wondering what he was talking about.

I tried to brush it off and change the topic. My mother-in-law doesn't recycle. It just isn't their thing. How would she understand my need to start using worms to compost IN MY KITCHEN? It is weird. I feel the same. But, it was something I wanted to try. I had kept a clipping from the newspaper for over a year about it. I thought what the heck! I looked it up online and ordered red worms from EBay.

So in case you need a little more life in your kitchen, here is how I created a home for the worms.

Here is the box I used to hold the worms.

We ripped paper and cardboard to make our box welcoming to our new guests.

The worms finally arrived at our house. My boys were soooooo excited!

I had no idea they would arrive in a bag.

I didn't know how to get them out of the bag. Ewwww. Gross.

If I was a reading this, I would wonder how it was going with the worms. Straight talk. Be honest. Well, I am still learning. This morning, I awoke to 10 red worms on my kitchen floor. I have no idea how they got there. They were under my sink with a locked door. I wish I would have taken a picture of it. I was shocked so I googled "worms all over my floor" and there were posts. Apparently, my worms do not like their new house. They were trying to escape. So, I added more wet cardboard to their house. Hopefully they decide to spend the night in their container tonight. I have no idea how they got out. I am not sure I want to know.

We have fed them old grapes, old bananas, a used tea bag and bread. It isn't too smelly and I sprinkle the box with water before bed each night to make sure it doesn't dry out. It isn't any extra work for me. It is easier than a compost pile outside. I was too lazy to walk to the back of our yard to have an outside compost pile. So, I started this one. If you'd like to shock your family and friends and would like more information about vermicomposting, feel free to ask any questions about the process in my comment section or email me directly.

Happy Earth Day!

We're Trying

Happy Earth Day!

We have been working hard to make changes in our family to be friendlier to the Earth. I have always been a huge recycler since college. I drive my husband crazy going after cans and jars that he is too lazy to wash out and recylcle. I just can't throw something out if I can recycle it. But, recycling wasn't enough for me. I needed to make some bigger changes.

I have hated the plastic bags that you receive at the stores. They make me absolutely crazy. So in the past month, I made the leap to cloth bags for shopping. For those of you in larger cities or out of the Midwest, you might not realize that almost everyone here still uses the plastic/paper bags at the stores. Baggers do not know how to pack a bag with more than five items. They look so confused when you give them the cloth bags. It is worth it just to see their teenage faces try to figure out how to pack the bag. Too funny!

I have also been trying to switch to environmentally friendly cleaning supplies. So far, so good. It is hard to give up favorite brands and scents. But, I think it is a something I can continue to do.

The final switch we have made this month is to have a worm compost bin in my kitchen. I throw my old produce or scraps into a container full of worms. They eat my old food and create castings or material that will help my garden and flowers. I will write about the entire process later in the week. It is a weird process and I am still working out the kinks. The kids love it but it is a little gross to have to take care of worms daily. The verdict is still out on this one. I will try it for the summer.

Change is hard but needed. I will continue to look for ways to be friendlier to the Earth. I love that I am also teaching my children to do the same. They will grow up not knowing any different. They will tell their kids about all of the plastic bags that people used to use. They will remember the worms that mom used to keep to eat their old food. They will learn about how to treat their Earth with love. I am trying. Are you?

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Today, Ryan, my five year old ran into my bathroom in such a rush that it scared me. He said, "Mom, you have to tell Dad he has to get to Sears." What? Sears? We never go to Sears. Ever. "Why do we need to get to Sears?" "Because the sale is only until Friday." Oh, advertising again.

My poor son. He is sucker for every ad he sees. Have you ever seen the ad for the ugly purse that is sort of an organizer? They run it on Nickelodeon. He thinks I need that. He also thinks I also need the flower seeds that come in a large roll and magically become wild flowers. Santa already brought him the rocket fishing rod that he begged and begged for. Yep, saw it on commercials before Christmas.

But today, I got smart with the DVR. Ryan doesn't care for hand sanitizers much. He always bellyaches when I make him put it on his hands. So today, there was a great commercial that showed germs on a kid and all over his hands. Knowing that Ryan cannot resist a commercial, I made sure Ryan was near the TV. I replayed the commercial about germs and the hand sanitizer. Done. Fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Finally, a commercial I don't mind that he falls for.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Shop Your House First

Lotions. Lipstick. Socks. Bubble Bath. Perfume. Food. Nail polish. Tea.

I can't tell you how often I tell myself that I need a new lipstick. I can barely walk past the aisle in Target without taking a peek. But, lately, I have been trying something new. About a month ago, I was listening to someone give tips on how to save money. I heard something that has stuck a nerve and I find that I say it almost daily. She said "Use what you have." It is profound. Use what you have.

I am trying to use what I have before I go and buy more. It is saving me money. It is almost as much fun. This past week, I dug out out lipsticks and have been trying them on. Most haven't been used at all. I made myself put a wild toe nailpolish on because I own it. I am making myself try food that my husband bought and use it up. I thought I was out of lotion until I found a great lotion that I had stuck in a bag. That saved me $20 from buying one from Aveda.

I have also made a point of pitching items that I don't love. If I am not going to use it, I am either donating it so someone else can use it or pitching it if I can't donate it. I am really going to use restraint when bringing new items into my house. I will shop my own house first and use what I have!

I Pay My Children

We have too many toys. Way too many. I am embarrassed when people come over. They are everywhere. I spread them out so people can't see them all in one place. The worst toys we have are the crappy McDonalds Happy Meal toys. They are the worst. The kids never play with them. They have a pieces to them and they are always on my floor. I was going crazy because I hated these toys so much. For those of you without children or those of you who are better mothers, you will say to yourself "then don't go to McDonalds, woman." I try. I really do try. But the real world creeps in now and then and we go.

I came up with a plan to rid my life of those pesky toys. It is working and I'd like to share it with other mothers battling this evil. I pay my kids to skip the Happy Meal. Yes, for every Happy Meal they skip, they receive one dollar. If they don't order a drink and order water, they get another dollar. So, I order a large order of nuggets, large fry, two waters and we are all happy. It works most of the time but if they see the toys at the restaurant, it is less likely to work. In the van to go, they have never taken the Happy Meal.

Here's the catch. We made special McDonalds banks and decorated them. All McDonalds money is theirs. They can buy whatever they want with it at Target. So far, they have bought Star Wars toys. That works for me. They have learned to save up for something big. If I can teach this to my kids over time, I will be a happy woman. I am already a little happier that it has been a long time since a McDonalds toy came into our house.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2

While waiting in line to buy tea at Barnes and Noble, I found the coolest CD: In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2. I am a huge U2 fan. But, I have never seen this new album or even heard about it. I just love it. Each song is a U2 song interpretted by an African artist. My favorite is (Pride) In the Name of Love by the Soweto Gospel Choir. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own by Vusi Mahlasela brought tears to my eyes. It is so touching.

In the album cover, each song has a description about the artist. It also describes the country where the artist is from and issues the country is facing. It also lists organizations that are working to help the people of that country.

You can find this album at Barnes & Noble of course. You can also buy it at http://www.amazon.com/. Just a warning. I found another album with nearly the same title. In the Name of Love: Artists United For Africa. It is an album by Christian artists. I have never listened to it and it may be fantastic. I have only heard the album with African artists.

Below is a list of songs on the album. It is definitely an album to buy. Proceeds from the CD will benefit the Global Fund. It is an organization working to fight AIDS, Malaria and TB. For more information check out the www.theglobalfund.org/EN/

In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2
Mysterious Ways / Angélique Kidjo
Bullet the Blue Sky / Vieux Farka Touré
Sunday Bloody Sunday / Ba Cissoko
Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own / Vusi Mahlasela
Where the Streets Have No Name / Tony Allen
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / Cheikh Lô
One / Keziah Jones
With or Without You / Les Nubians
Pride (In the Name of Love) / The Soweto Gospel Choir
Seconds / Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars
Desire / Optimus
Love Is Blindness / Waldemar Bastos

Age Is Just a Number

A couple of days ago, I was worried about my sister-in-law's bachelorette party. I thought I would be the oldest in the group, ready to go to bed by 10. Unable to keep up with the twenty-somethings. I could not have been more wrong about the night.

We had 17 women with us! What a group. Katie was a perfect bachelorette. She was up for everything the bridesmaids threw at her. She wore an adorable t-shirt, the usual tiara with a veil, a sash and beads for unsuspecting men.

What was so different about the night was that four of the mothers had dinner with us and joined us for drinks at our first bar. It was so fun! They even helped decorate the hotel room. They helped with the drinks, goodies and naughty chocolates. They gave Katie gag gifts and were so helpful with the whole party.

For a whole week, I worried about what to wear, how I would fit in and if I would feel old. I was so worried about myself that I missed the true spirit of Katie's day. The bachelorette party isn't about the funny gag gifts that your friends make you wear. It isn't about the drinks. It is about friendship and love. Katie's friends love her so much that they all worked to make it a special day. Each person had creative touches that made the day so special.

At dinner, I looked down at Katie sitting at the head of the table. She looked so happy. Her mom was laughing, wearing something silly that I can't write about here and everyone was laughing. Everyone was in the moment and enjoying themselves. I couldn't help but think how lucky she is to have such great girlfriends. What a night!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When Did I Get Old?

I was involved in a research study for about two years. Every time I visited, the nurse would say that my blood pressure was elevated. I usually just blame it on "white coat syndrome" and ignore the nurse. But during my last three visits, she didn't let me ignore her. She told me that I had to visit a doctor about my high blood pressure.

Last week, I visited my regular doctor. She is great. She is my age. She has young children. She said that I am fat. Well, not in those exact words. But, I got the message. I must lose ten pounds. I must lose four before I see her again in four weeks. There was no wiggle room.

Her suggestions: She said I must work out. I do that. She said at least five times a week. Yikes. I probably average three or four. OK, I will do it every day. No excuses.

No white pasta, sugar or bread. OK, that is a toughie. I stopped regular sugar and stopped drinking Coke. I switched to wheat bread last year but the pasta is killing me. I have avoided pasta for dinner because I just can't get used to the taste or texture. I hear you Dr. I will cut this all out to lose the weight.

I am to avoid salt. Tough! Caffeine. Even tougher! More veggies. The hardest!

So, I am on week two of my new life. I watch my older relatives and I want to grow old healthy. I will do my best to avoid medicine if I can. I am too young for blood pressure medicine. My body sent me a sign and I got the message loud and clear.

Old Girl Going Wild

This Saturday, this old girl is getting a little wild. My sister-in-law is having her bachelorette party. We are having her bridal shower during the morning and then in the afternoon, meeting up at a hotel to pre-party, open racy gifts and dress to impress. When I was in my twenties, this would be a no brainer. I would be pumped. But now, I am 36, have two kids and a little out of practice. I am normally in bed by 11. I can drink only 2, maybe three glasses of wine. When I opened the invite and saw "pre-party" I started to panic. I will be gone before the dinner. If there are shots, I am in even bigger trouble.

I also am in trouble because I will be the oldest one out with a huge group of skinny 20 year-olds. I am hoping that maybe I will blend into the group and won't be noticeable. I already found a cool top to wear from White House, Black Market. I paid too much for it but I read somewhere that when you are older, you have to pay more for your clothes because the clothes have to do so much more for your body. I get that. I tried on countless tops at the Limited, the Gap and every other store in the mall. But, the most expensive one helped to give me curves in the right places and hide the fat I can't exercise away. So, with this top, cool jeans and an even cooler necklace, I am ready to go. I can't be anyone other than myself but with my new outfit, a few glasses of wine I am ready to help my sister-in-law celebrate the next phase of her life. Cheers!

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'm Not Talking About It, I'm Just Saying.....

One of our dear friends was extremely drunk a few months ago and created the perfect phrase "I'm not talking about it, I'm just saying...." Once you figure it out, you will find that it has many uses. It comes in handy especially when you don't really want to talk about a friend or relative but there is a need to get it off of your chest. So, when trying to pick a perfect blog title, I decided to go with this one. There are so many moms writing blogs about their experience but I want to explore more than my children in my blog. This title will leave me wide open. I hope not too wide open that no one reads the blog. I have no idea where this will lead or if it will be impossible to do. But, a good friend of mine is an excellant blogger and I have been inspired.

So, here it goes.

I'm Not Talking About It, I'm Just Saying...