Tuesday, April 29, 2008

He wants an egg...

Noah just came in from playing outside and asked for an egg. While most mothers would probably just say no, and end it with that, I asked him what he needs an egg for, exactly.

"Um, I don't know..."

I asked him again what he wants to do with it. Whatever the reason is, it's probably good.

"Um...well...I want to put it out there for a bird to fly by and pick up."

I explained that a bird wouldn't come in our back yard and pick it up, and the eggs in our fridge actually came from a chicken.

"Yeah? So?"

So, a chicken isn't going to come in our back yard and reclaim an egg that it didn't lay in the first place.

I thought he was starting to understand, until he suggested,

"What about if we put it in the front yard?"


"How about if we put it in the nest in the tree?"

Nope. I then went on to explain the nest didn't belong to a chicken, it's too high for us to reach, the bird wouldn't want it anyway... etc., etc., etc.

Finally, he got it.

"Oh, okay. So... can you cook me some eggs?"

THAT, I am willing to do.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Why I no longer own a color printer...

I was in my bedroom today and Noah came running in to tell me,

"Something's happening."

If you are unfamiliar with the language of Childese, this sentence, roughly translated, means, "I did something you're probably going to be mad about, and I had to come get you, because it's still going on."

An example of this is one time when Zachary came knocking on the bathroom door to tell me,

"Something's dripping."

I thanked him and told him I'd be out in a minute, thinking it was probably a faucet left on in the kitchen. Imagine my surprise when I walked in a few minutes later to see the fridge wide open with a half gallon jug of apple juice laying on it's side glugging sticky liquid all over my kitchen floor.

But today, it wasn't apple juice. I walked in to find my printer vomiting a large number of fully covered grayscale sheets of paper that look like this:

I rushed to stop the printing process and found out there were still 108 copies in progress.

One of my biggest pet peeves is that every website that has games and activities for kids has a big old PRINT button somewhere on the screen.

Seriously. I don't know how many times I've found a dozen copies of Caillou and his friends decorating the floor around the computer desk, or 30 copies of Elmo my kids have "colored" using the computer.

There's something very wrong about the fact that it's harder for me to go through the procedure of printing out a recipe for chicken enchiladas on Allrecipes.com than it is for my 4 year old to print out 128 copies of the "Extreme Taz Half Pipe Challenge" on WarnerBros.com. This is the very reason I got rid of my color ink jet printer years ago and got a black and white laser jet printer with a large cartridge.

I haven't done the research, but I highly suspect that Nick Jr., Cartoon Network and Disney.com have all cut some sort of a deal with Hewlitt Packard. It's an evil conspiracy, and it's just plain wrong.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In honor of Earth Day 2008...

Have you noticed that lately at the grocery store they don't even ask "paper or plastic?"? They just put everything you buy into about a jillion plastic bags, right? Sometimes one or two items in a bag at most. And what do you do with all those bags? While they're great for carrying wet clothes or dog waste, you really can only re-use so many of them.

This is a picture of a "bag holder" I picked up at IKEA years ago. It's stuffed full of plastic grocery and newspaper bags I've collected. Despite recycling tons of bags, reusing them for stinky diapers when I tend little ones, and bringing my own bags to the grocery store for the last few months, these plastic menaces are still taking over my pantry! (I hate to admit it, but I have a second bag holder out in the garage, which is also pretty full...)

Did you know that only 1-3% of plastic bags end up getting recycled? According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year. (The estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion!) And each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.

Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade, which means they break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.

In 2001, Ireland consumed 1.2 billion plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag consumption tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%. Approximately 18,000,000 liters of oil have been saved due to this reduced production. Governments around the world are considering implementing similar measures. In fact, in San Francisco, a new law was passed that will ban plastic bags in the next year.

So what can you do about it? Bring your own bags. Really. It's not that hard. Have you seen the reusable bags at the grocery store? Sometimes they go on sale at my local grocery store 10 for $10. And each time you use your reusable bags, you'll get a credit of 5 cents a bag, so after 20 uses, your bag has paid for itself AND prevented 20 plastic bags from being used.

You don't necessarily need to buy new bags. You can reuse the paper or plastic bags you already own and still receive the 5 cent credit. You can find reusable tote bags you already own or make your own bags. Here's a pattern on MarthaStewart.com that shows how to turn old t-shirts into reusable bags:

Martha's t-shirt bag pattern

Reusablebags.com, where I found most of the information listed above, has some great bags that fold up really small so you can toss them in your purse and have them handy wherever you shop.

I try to keep my reusable bags in my car at all times, because, otherwise, I forget about them until I'm already checking out at the register. It takes a while to make it a habit, but I'm getting there. Right now, the hardest part is explaining to some of the cashiers that I don't need or want the plastic bags, I have my own.

Granted, most stores have a bin now located near the entrance where you can recycle your used bags, which is great, but I've noticed it's almost always stuffed full, and I have to wonder if the bags really get recycled anyhow. Wouldn't it just be better to reduce the number of bags out there in the first place?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Nate!!

It's Nate's 33rd birthday today and the kids are super excited. In fact, we made him this lovely cake to surprise him with when he comes from golfing:

Doesn't it look scrumptious? No? Well, this is what you end up with when you let a 4 and 6 year old help with the decorating. They had to use a little of every kind of sprinkle and colored sugar we have. Now they're getting anxious for him to hurry home from golf so they can eat it. In fact, Noah already set the table. This photo is so embarrassing, I can't believe I'm posting it:

There was a bunch of stuff on the counter that I had to move to even make the cake, and it wound up on the table, so when Noah set the table with Valentine's Day paper plates, he just put plates on top of the pile of junk!

I guess he hasn't learned that the proper placement for the fork is on the left...

Happy Birthday, Nate! We love you!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

There's no use crying over spilt milk...

It was a rough day today, and tonight while trying to get Zachary to finish his homework (which was like pulling teeth, by the way), Noah asked for a cup of milk. I went to put it on the table, and at that exact moment Noah moved his arm, spilling the milk all over the table, all over Zachary's school folder, and all over the disciplinary note that was sent home by Zach's teacher. (Remember, I said it was a tough day...)

Anyhow, it was kind of the final straw and despite that saying about spilled milk, I burst into tears while I mopped it all up.

Zachary started whining about his folder and Noah, thinking he was in trouble, asked if he still was going to get milk now.

Then Zachary said, "Gee, Mom, you don't have to cry. Can't you just make a mad face like you always do?"

Apparently not, because sometimes you've just gotta cry when the milk gets spilled.

And what's with that dumb saying anyhow?

Tell you what, if you've ever gone through the humiliation of using a plastic suctioning device to desperately milk yourself like a cow just so you can leave your sweet, but colicky baby with a sitter for your first night out in months, only to knock that milk over when you went to put the lid on the bottle, spilling it all over the floor - you know there's nothing you can do but cry about it sometimes.


Boy, I'm glad we're past that stage.

Well, except for the fact that now we're in the "Assertive Discipline Notice" stage.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wanna entertain your child for a few minutes?

Okay, this is just making me snicker. I can't believe I didn't think of it before!

This morning, I put one of those pedometers on because I'd like to start keeping track of the steps I take every day. Noah saw it and asked about it. Since I have a spare one that shows distance instead of number of steps, I put that one on his pants and told him it would show him how far he ran around the house.

He ran back and forth for several minutes and kept coming up to me to show me how far he's gone. By the time he stopped, the kid had run 4 tenths of a mile! (Okay, that figure is probably a little off, because the pedometer can't be set for anything shorter than a 2 foot stride...) But, isn't that amazing?! I'd be interested to see how far he goes in an entire day!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Do you use those plastic refillable bottles to pack your own water with you? Then you should watch this:

And this:

I just went through my collection of plastic water bottles (and I DO mean collection! What was I thinking?!) and threw a bunch out. I think I'll be sticking with stainless steel bottles from now own, like these:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bountiful Baskets

If you live in the Phoenix Metro area and you haven't checked out BountifulBaskets.org, you should! It's a non-profit produce co-op that purchases large amounts of produce from a local warehouse that supplies restaurants and grocery stores. The produce is then divided among the participants at locations throughout the valley. The co-op runs every other Saturday.

You pay for your share on the Wednesday before the Saturday delivery, and Saturday morning, you show up at the pick up site with a laundry basket in hand to "harvest" your share of the produce, which is normally half fruits and half vegetables, and roughly equivalent to about $50 worth of produce. The cost to you is $17.50!

In addition to the produce, they've recently had fresh bread available from Alpine Valley Bread Company. I usually order 6 loaves of whole wheat bread each time, and we still run out occasionally. There are other items or "offerings" available at different times. In the past, I've ordered almonds, See's chocolates, a case of Utah peaches, and Artisan bread. They've even had local honey, olive oil from the Queen Creek Olive Mill, and fresh cheeses. There's also a waitlist for a side of fresh, hormone and antibiotic-free beef.

The co-op also has recipes on the website that correlate with the produce from that week, and a message board for members to share ideas and recipes, ask questions, cyber garage sale your stuff, and advertise your small business. Through the message board, I was able to meet a really nice woman who helped me can my case of peaches. How amazing is that?!

So if you're looking to add more produce to your diet or just trying to save some money, look into it!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Help Wanted

Position for Hire

Middle-aged woman (yes, apparently, with this last birthday I hit MIDDLE AGE, at least according to the US Census) seeks bright youngster for instructional help in the usage of modern day electronic appliances - in particular, a Classic iPod.

Must be capable of useful coaching without the use of too many sarcastic remarks, such as:
  • "Hell-oooo! Welcome to the 21st century, Lady!"
  • "Duh."
  • "Whatever!"
  • "Are you freakin' kidding me?!"
  • "Madonna...who's Madonna? Oh wait, is she that OLD chick who sang that song...?!"
  • "I can't believe you don't know how to do this! Didn't they have computers when you were younger, or did you ride a dinosaur to school?"

Educational requirements
: Some elementary school.

Salary: $10/hour.

(Which is exactly 10 times what I got paid when I worked as a kid, and more than I'd make right now if I ran out right now and got a job of my own.)

Hours: From the time school gets out until your mom needs you home for dinner.

Workplace limitations: "Texting" of one's friends during instructional periods will not be tolerated. (Particularly because I won't know what the heck you're talking about.)

If interested, please contact Natalie by telephone. No email contacts, please, because half the time I can't figure out how to turn on my computer...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I dig gardening!

I can't believe it! We already have apricots growing! This tree was so tiny when I bought it last spring at Costco, I really didn't expect anything from it for several years.

This is the lemon tree. This will be the first year we get lemons. We planted another lemon tree at our last house, but we moved right before the tree produced anything. I think being able to grow citrus in your own backyard is AWESOME!

And can you believe it? Grapes! We planted these a few years back and have never really harvested anything, but then we haven't really taken care of them either. They're fun to watch because they grow like crazy and come back after the frost. I think the kids picked all the grapes off too early last year.

We also have peas, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, birdhouse gourds, and several varieties of flowers sprouting.

Now, if we can just keep the kids from picking everything before it's ripe...

From today's carpool:

This morning, I could hear Noah in the backseat chewing gum. Since I hadn't given it to him, I asked him where he got it.

"From my carseat," he told me. "It was in the cup holder."

So it was the gum Justin had given him yesterday on the ride home that he'd already chewed. But only about half a piece, because I cleaned the other half of the gum out of Noah's hair yesterday using peanut butter.

Yeah, peanut butter. Did you know that works? Try it. Unless of course, your kids are smart enough to not get gum in their hair.

So then, Noah spit the gum out into Wesley's lap.

I apologized to Wesley and had to take the gum away from Noah and tell him how rude that was. He kept spitting just because he thought it was funny, so I had to threaten to pull over and paddle him, which I've done before. I'm the queen of pulling over.

The rest of the ride to school was pretty quiet after that...

so, not a bad morning.