Friday, October 31, 2008


Aidan figured out how to wink.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A letter for Daddy

Jack was watching a TV show (a very, very rare occurance. We only watch tv once a week day hour). The show was talking about Daddies, and Jack started to be sad. He missed his Daddy!

Then he had a great idea- "I want to write Daddy a LETTER!" "A big letter"! So, since he is my favorite really, really cute, I was happy to help. I got paper and a pen, and asked what he wanted to write in the letter. He started getting upset, and frustrated. I only understand 3-year-olds 85% of the time, so I just was pushing through. "Ok, I will start. I will tell Daddy you miss him".

But he was mad, and this wasn't what he wanted. But he kept saying "I want to write Daddy a letter. A big letter", and I kept trying to help him write Daddy a big letter, but he kept getting upset.

Finally I figured it out. He just wanted to write Daddy a big letter. Not as in a note of words, but as in a letter of the alphabet. He picked J.

Daddy, this "J" is for you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My best one yet!

I decided to post my bento box lunches on my food blog, but this one turned out so cute that I had to share!
My awesome cousin Ali found some really fun things that she sent me- 2 egg molds, some rice molds, and a set of bunny/chick cut outs. Thanks!! I really love them!

I used the rice mold to make the face and the bear. I added some stir-fry corns and some turkey sandwich meat. I used the cut outs to make some kiwi chicks and bunny, sitting on some pineapple and tomatos. For the faces, I used peas, tomato pieces, and some rosemary hair.
Next on my wish list: some seaweed paper so I can do things like this.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Did I miss something?

Conversation when I picked Abigail up from Preschool today. She handed me a large stack of papers, many of which I knew weren't colored by her.

Me: This is cool, who drew this one?

Abigail: R did that one.

Me: Oh, nice. Who drew this other one?


Me: ...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Future Careers

We have figured out the perfect career for Abigail. Something that will utilize her strengths, capture her interest, and capitalize on her talents.

We think she should go into mergers and acquisitions.

She likes to gather and acquire things. She likes to break things into pieces. And then she enjoys repackaging those things and handing them out. Perfect.

Of course, when we told her our idea, she informed us she was going to be in the circus.

Well, either way. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Food Friday: Baby steps to a 3 month supply

Goal: To have a supply of all the food we would eat for 3 months.

Sounds easy, right? Well, not so much. We eat a lot of fresh food. That won't keep for 3 months. And I usually buy enough food for 4-5 days, not 3 months. Some food storage 'purists' tell me that everything in my supply should be non-perishable. Food in the freezer doesn't count. I can see the point of that. But I feel the need to exercise moderation. As a 'newbie', I just want to get started. I am not hard core yet, I just want to have food on hand and supplies ready. I picture myself being prepared for short-term difficulties, like maybe a tornado that knocks things out for a week or so. Or financial crisis, where we don't have money for a while. That sort of thing. I am not in survival mode. I am not picturing building a stone stove to bake my bread made from fresh ground wheat. I am just looking to beef up our supplies to be prepared. Remember it is a top priority that I will USE the items I buy/store.

Ok, so with that in mind, here is my plan for a 3 month supply:

Breakfast: Store some cereals. Not many of these, since we rarely eat cereal, but it would be nice to have some. Also store other breakfast items: Oatmeal, pancake mix, etc. Not sure what the etc. is, but we will worry about that later.

Lunch: Things like tuna, peanut butter, jelly, not sure what else, but easy stuff that we could eat for lunch.

Dinner: Plan a series of menus, then buy enough ingredients to make each meal 6 times. That would be twice a month for 3 months. To rotate, whenever I add a recipe to my food supply, I will include that recipe once a month as part of my meal planning.

This week I used the recipe for Lemon Chicken Pasta. Very simple, very delicious, and you can eat it as is or add veggies to it. I bought spaghetti, and I already had the chicken and lemon juice. I actually already opened one of the spaghetti boxes, so I will add it to my next shopping list.
I also bought extra butter, which will be kept in the freezer. And I don't like to buy spices to just sit, since I think they are better when they are fresh. But if there is something nearing the end, I will replace it a little quicker than I might have before, trying to be a little more prepared.

Gordon B. Hinckley said "Try a little harder to be a little better". Wise council, and that is what I am trying to do. I will gather the supply piece by piece. This week I got a good stock of one dinner, and that is progress.

One more tip: I am going to set up a google calendar to keep track of expiration dates and rotation schedules. I set a reminder for next September to rotate my water. And on last week's campout, I brought one of my water containers, and it worked great! See it in action if you look closely at the table on this post.

What inspires you?

Earlier this week I had about 5 blog posts running through my head. But we had a really busy weekend. Then some computer issues. Yesterday I finally had a computer working and time, but guess what- I couldn't remember any of my ideas, or they seemed lame by this time. So then I decided to use the time to sew a project that I started and never finished. Except that I totally messed up an important step, but didn't discover it until it is way too late to fix it. So that is put back away.

So now it has been over a week and I've only posted once- pathetic for me! I usually try to post every day! :) And I am feeling a lack of motivation.

So to get my posting juices going, I would love to know.... what do you feel inspired by lately? The changing weather? The upcoming holidays? Family? Friends? What are you excited about? Please comment- it is what I obsess over every time I post something new!

Monday, October 20, 2008

How to pack a boatload of fun into 27 short hours

Go on a camp out! We met our friends from Florida in South Georgia- we found a State Park that was about 1/2 way for each of us, and decided to camp out. It was a blast! It is so rare and awesome to find such good friends, and every time we are together, it reminds me how lucky we are to have found them. They have four boys- age 6, 5, 3, 1. Along with our 3, it gives us 7 kids age 1-6. Those numbers add up to disaster most of the time, but for some reason, it all just works when we are together. And Abigail might be the only girl, but she loves Mark so much that it doesn't seem to matter. And if there was ever a girl that could hold her own with 6 boys, Abigail is that girl. She found a quiet moment to ask Mark if she could marry him. He thought it was hilarious, and said "NO!" while laughing hysterically. I think she might wait a while and ask again! I don't think she understood what was so funny. :)

Sometimes, the best fun is just rolling down a hill.
And purposely crashing into each other.

Checking out the gopher turtle.
Eating snacks on a bridge. We never got a shot of all 7, but here are all the kids except baby Ben.
Great pictures of Aidan are SO hard to get- I am just in love with this one!

You can read more about it here. I tried to upload more pictures, but blogger is giving me trouble. I will upload the rest to shutterfly, you can see them later today or tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I was stressed out about some things at Church that I was in charge of, and I was worried about getting back. So I cut the weekend a little short, and we left Saturday night. It would have been better to stay longer, with perfect weather, good food, and great friends, but we will just have to do it again. 27 hours of great fun!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When Hope Turns to Dismay

Lately our family has been having a Problem. I have tried to be in denial that this Problem is happening. I have tried to ignore it, tried to correct it, and tried to deal with it. But the Problem persists.

I try to keep my head from exploding over this Problem. I have told myself countless times "it won't last forever". "This too shall pass". "It is just a phase". "Everyone deals with this- it will eventually go away".

I am doing my very best to take a long-term view of this Problem, because it is the type of thing that could very well turn me into a raving lunatic for most of the day. And it is a daily, some times hourly Problem.

Today, I took the kids to the park. We experienced our Problem at the park. Twice. And I tried to stay calm. We were already there, just stay and try not to lose it.

I was sitting on the park bench, watching the kids play happily, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a mom with 3 boys. The youngest was at least 8 or 9. Something happened, and the mom got visibly upset, and they all left in quite a hurry. The annoyance, resignation, and slight disgust on the mom's face seemed somehow familiar, and I glanced closer at the boys. I saw that she had the same problem that we are dealing with.

And all my hopes of being done with my Problem in the next year or two were dashed. I don't know if I can face 5 or 6 more years of this Problem.

I am going to need more cookies.

New pictures and post coming soon!

Hey! I have been very neglectful in adding to my 'more pictures' link to the right. So I have used all of my "blogging" time the past few days to upload two new albums. You can see them if you look on the right sidebar for the link that says 'more pictures'.

I have a fun post coming about our fun, and very messy trip to Stone Mountain for the fall festival, and a few other things, but some of my other commitments seem to be taking all my time for the moment (not to mention the munchkins who take my time always). In fact, I was going to write a post this morning, but got interrupted by thinking "hmm... I wonder what Jack and Aidan are doing upstairs", and when I went to check, they had each found a screwdriver and proceeded to put about 5,000 dents in their wall. Grrrrrr. So blogging will have to wait.

For now, enjoy the pics and hopefully I will update in the next day or so.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recipe Request

Kydon wanted me to post this recipe, for a friend of his at work. It is my mom's famous Peanut Butter Bars. I remember loving her to make these when we were growing up. I don't know that I've ever made them myself until this week. I made a pan, and they were so delicious! I am going to make more this weekend!

Colleen's Famous Peanut Butter Bars
1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups oats
1/4 cup peanut butter

chocolate frosting:
1/2 cup margarine, soft
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa (I also add a splash of milk)

Cream margarine and peanut butter. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Spread on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 15-18 min.

While warm, spread with peanut butter. When cool, frost with chocolate frosting.

Food Friday: Meals

Random things this week. My water containers came, and I filled them and put them in the basement. When they came, I found 2 bonus features:
  • There was a hidden spigot inside each one! I thought about paying more for one with a spigot, but decided not to. Now I am even more happy with the one I chose!
  • There was a big sticker on the front that said "BPA Free". When I was buying them, I tried several different sites to see if I could find one without BPA, but I wasn't able to find the info. I was SO glad to see they didn't have it!

Another idea for rotating water- take it on camp outs! It is so nice to have a big thing of water on a camp out for drinking, cooking, washing hands, washing dishes, etc. We don't camp all that often, but it will be nice for when we do, and a good way to rotate.


I am also starting a plan to make a freezer meal once a week. This week I made:

Italian squash and sausage skillet

1 and 1/4 lb uncooked Italian sausage

3 small yellow squash or zucchini (cubed)

1/2 c chopped onion

1 (14.5) oz can stewed tomatoes

2 green onion, tops only, chopped

Brown sausage. Drain and slice. Return to pan and cook until golden brown. Add squash and onions, cook and stir 2-3 min. Stir in tomatoes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 min or until squash is tender.

Serve over rice.

*I use pre-cooked sausage, like kielbasa or something similar. I spray the pan with no-stick spray, saute the onions for a minute, add the zucchini for a minute, then add the rest and heat it up. For freezing, it is best to not over-cook the squash. It will cook a little more when you heat it up, so I try to leave the squash pretty crunchy for the freezer. I tripled this recipe, we had enough for dinner, and enough left over for 2 freezer meals. The kids all liked it and ate more than I thought they would. Kydon added hot sauce, but I liked the flavor just fine.


For the 3 month supply of all the food we would eat, part of my plan will be to have some dinner menus/recipes that I can make using all non-perishable food, then getting enough to make that meal 4-6 times. I found a recipe this week that would work really well- Lemon Chicken Pasta. We all loved this recipe, and it would be pretty simple to have on hand all the things to make it. I will post more when I actually buy the stuff. Right now it is just an idea. If you know of any good recipes that would work for this plan, *please* let me know! The rotation plan will be to make each of the recipes once a month, using the items stored, and replacing them. I will talk more about my ideas for the 3 month supply next week.

If I ever have gray hair, I will know at least one came from Aidan

While Abigail was in preschool yesterday, Jack and Aidan were playing so nicely. I was talking on the phone to a friend, somewhat listening to them, and somewhat just letting them play and not paying close attention. Since everything was going so well, I talked on the phone until the very last minute before I had to leave to get Abigail. I hung up, and immediately went into 'hurry' mode.

Boys!! Get in the car! Quick! We have to go get Abigail! Hurry!!

Jack ran to the door, ready to get in. Aidan, not so much. So I run quickly upstairs, not there, run back down, hmmm.... not there. So, still yelling, and starting to offer candy and other prizes, because now I am worried we will be late. I run back upstairs, look in all the closets, rooms, bathrooms, under his bed, nowhere.

This is the boy who likes to play hide and seek, but will never 'hide' for more than 10 seconds before making noises so you can find him. Abigail will sit for hours in her spot, but Aidan likes to be found, very quickly.

Run back downstairs, look in all the rooms, backyard, garage, out the front door, basement, under tables, you get the idea. Nope, still can't find him. My brain is rushing through 3 scenarios, one is not being able to pick Abigail up from preschool, and she is there forever and waiting, and I can't go get her because I CAN'T FIND MY BOY, the second is that he ran out the front door and is somewhere in the neighborhood. Third scenario is that he got trapped somewhere, or can't breathe for some reason, and that is why he isn't making any noise.

I decide to run upstairs one last time before driving/running around the neighborhood. And as I was looking in the bathroom cabinets, I heard a small, very quiet, giggle. He was under Abigail's bed. I almost broke down in tears when I found him. I had been SO worried!! And he thought it was hilarious. His first time hiding without giving himself away or being found. He giggled all the way to preschool. And we were only a little late. But I was a wreck. And if I had any natural color left in my hair, it would be gray.

And Jack cried for a while, because the whole time I was running around, I was yelling that I would give him candy if he came out. And Jack was already out, and fully deserved candy. Except I didn't have any- I was just offering it out of desperation. Sorry Jack!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Halloween decorating for (almost) free

I love Halloween! And fall! I saw this decorating idea for the mantle, and I wanted to copy it!! Or at least do something similar. And I saw some really cute front porches, and other ideas, and wanted to copy them all.

So, without spending more than $5, here is my halloween decor!
My mantle. I did "splurge" and spend $2 for the spider webbing. I didn't have any from last year, but there is enough to save for next year.

I just printed these images from MS Word clipart onto cardstock, then put them on my picture easels that I use year round. They would probably look better in some black frames, but I didn't want to buy some just for this.

Little spiders that we made with the kids. Just pipe cleaners and pompoms ($2).

Sticks from the yard in a vase I already had. And I really, really wanted the little crow sitting there, so I was going to buy one, but couldn't find it, so I just made it. The only black fabric I had in my bin had white swirlies on it, but it works! I just stuffed him with the scraps from making him, and borrowed some legs from one of our spiders. I love the way he turned out!

I made these really easy pumpkins with carstock and these instructions. They turned out very cute!
This is a wall hanging that I made a few years ago. Good for Halloween and Thanksgiving.

And, my front porch. 3 little scarecrows stuffed with newspaper and sitting on pinestraw that I stole from our flower beds. Of course, the day after I made them, it rained.... I doubt they will last very long!

I want to get some leaves from the trees around here and do something with them. Anyone have a good idea? What are you doing to decorate for the season?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mission: Accomplished

All of my hard work has finally paid off! We took a walk to the corner! And we all walked! And there was (almost) no crying or tantrums or fights! It was beautiful!

I didn't want Abigail to take this huge thing, but I let her.

Jack wanted to bring his dump truck.

Aidan didn't want to go. He tiord (tired).

Abigail saved the day by offering to push Aidan in her red car. At first the idea was for Aidan to push her, but when he started screaming, she quickly offered him the ride.

Jack waited very patiently.

Here we are! At the corner! We made it! It was a little anti-climatic, but I'm still glad we were able to do it. The kids were definitely unimpressed.

And we made it back home without incident.
When we got home, Aidan didn't want to come inside. But that isn't even enough to register on the annoyance scale.
Confession: Before we left, I promised to give them smarties if we made it to the corner and back. I also told them it would be my birthday present. They have a lot of respect for birthdays. And smarties.

And when she was good, she was very, very good

Last week, we went once again to Stone Mountain. Abigail got an early morning bug to do work to earn some money. She wanted to do big jobs to earn "big money", meaning dollar bills and not change. So I had $4 in my wallet, and she kept working until she had all 4. She was so, so excited about going to Stone Mountain and buying something. She is always begging for things there- gum from the gumball machine, ice cream, toys from the shops, etc. I was a little nervous about Jack and Aidan wanting something when she bought her thing, but despite my encouragement, they wanted nothing to do with the 'work for money' program, preferring instead to drive monster trucks on the couch.

So we set off, I was still nervous, since I was fully prepared for tantrums from Jack and Aidan, but Abigail had worked so hard that I couldn't deny her doing what she wanted. On our plan was to watch a candy-making demonstration, since that was something we still hadn't done. As we talked about watching the candy, she got really excited about buying candy, and never once did she think about not sharing her money or candy with the boys. The entire drive, she was discussing with the boys about all the things they could buy, and what they could get with the money she earned.

They all chose big suckers! I was so proud of her for working hard all morning, then being so generous and loving with her two brothers.
I also got these shots of Jack riding the train.... I thought they were so cute! Abigail was sitting next to Aidan, with her arm around his shoulders. I tried to get some pictures, but they all turned out too dark to see. But it was really sweet.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Adoption 101

I frequently get emails from people considering adoption, and wanting to know where to start, how to get going, and what is involved. I keep thinking that I should have something written that I can just cut and paste, but I never do it, and just end up writing it over and over. Recently I got another such request, and decided to post it here, for future reference, and also in case any readers would also like the information.

I will give a disclaimer that this is very basic information. I am giving generalizations, and just general ideas. There are more details to everything here, but it is a good place to understand where to start when thinking about adopting.

There are two basic routes for adoption. Generally, the first decision is to choose domestic or international. They both have good reasons to choose that route.

International adoption is based on individual countries. Each country has different rules, regulations, requirements, and options. You can do a lot of research to find the country that is a good fit for your family.

Generally, international adoptions cost $20,000-$40,000. (Remember there is a federal tax credit of about $11,000 for any adoption). This cost may vary depending on the country, and travel requirements. Babies/children from international adoptions are usually not newborns. The youngest I have heard of was around 4 months. But usually babies come home anywhere from 9 months or older. Again, the age depends a lot on the country.

International adoptions generally have little or no contact with the birthfamily. Open international adoptions are almost non-existent. There is usually an expected timeline, and you have a good idea of how long it will take to bring your baby home. International adoptions are not guaranteed, but the 'failure' rate is much, much lower than domestic. The homestudy is much more extensive than for domestic adoption.

The most common countries adopted from are:
  • China
  • Russia
  • Guatemala (currently not recommended to start an adoption there)
  • S. Korea
  • Kazakhstan
  • Ukraine
If you are interested in domestic adoption, there are 3 basic routes. Domestic adoption is moving more toward open adoption, where there is some sort of relationship between the birthfamily and the adoptive family. Generally with domestic adoption, the birthfamily is allowed to choose the adoptive family, so the 'wait' time could be days, months, or years. There is no way to predict or know when to expect an adoption.

1. Agency adoption. You contract with a private agency. The agency provides your homestudy, birthmother counseling, advertising for a birthmother, and various other services. Agency adoptions generally cost $20,000-$30,000. The fees vary based on individual situations, as well as gender and race. If you are LDS, you can use LDS Family Services as your adoption agency. Their fees are based on 10% of your income, with a minimum of $4,000 and a maximum of $10,000. Agencies work almost exclusively with newborns, although there are a few exceptions.

Agency adoptions are wonderful if you are nervous about interacting with birthfamilies, if you are unsure of the adoption process, or if you would rather someone else 'find' a birthfamily for you. They are often a very fast way to have an adoption (depending on the number of waiting couples vs. the number of birthparents- LDSFS is generally not very fast). Most reputable agencies offer some sort of financial repercussions if the adoption does not go through- they may apply the amount paid to the next adoption, or not require payment until placement, that sort of thing.

Agency adoptions can also be frustrating if things are not happening as quickly as you would like, if the agency is not giving you adequate information, or are causing problems in other ways. It is one of the most expensive ways to adopt, and that is a determining factor for some.

2. Private or independent adoption. In a private adoption, you find a birthfamily, and contract directly with other professionals to facilitate the adoption. This would include hiring an attorney, or possibly two, counseling for the birthmother, notaries, and other professionals as needed. Private adoptions generally cost $4,000- $10,000 (this figure is based on what I have heard, I have no source or statistics for this number). Private adoptions are generally newborns, but there can be older child adoptions if the situation arises.

Private adoptions can be wonderful. It allows you more control over your own situation, more direct access to information, and the ability to form your adoption and relationships as you would like them. It can be much, much cheaper than agency adoptions.

The downside to private adoption is that you are often left on your own. This is fine if you are knowledgeable and confident, but there are no professionals around to guide you, give advice, or act as a go-between for all of the intense emotions of both the birthfamily and the adoptive family. You might have to deal with a lot more 'issues' than you would with an agency adoption. It also can be difficult to locate all the resources that you need. There is also generally no financial recovery to a failed private adoption. Any money paid will generally be lost.

3. Foster adoption. Adopting a child from the state foster care system. Generally this means older child adoption, but sometimes newborns are available. You can choose to "foster adopt", meaning you can foster a child in the system with the hope of adoption. In this route, you would be supportive of the state's goal of birthfamily reunification until (or if) the parental rights are terminated. Or you can choose only "adopt", meaning you will only consider children who are already free for adoption.

Foster adoption can be virtually free. During the fostering time, families are given a stipend to cover some expenses. Different states also offer lifetime medical care, college assistance, and other benefits to adopting from the foster care system.

Foster adoption can be very difficult, since the goal of the state is to reunite the birthfamily, not to place into adoptive homes. It can be a long, drawn-out process. And many times, the children have suffered neglect and/or abuse.

In our family, we used LDS Family Services for our first adoption. We had one failed adoption attempt, and then we were matched with and adopted Abigail. Ours was unusually quick, we started the process in Jan. of 2003, and Abigail was born in Jan. of 2004. Our second adoption we did a private adoption. We found Jack and Aidan's birthmom through a friend of my sister, and we used private attorneys to facilitate the adoption. LDS Family Services did help us with our homestudy and supervisory visits for the private adoption. Their adoption took place in May of 2005. We have open adoptions with Abigail's birthmom, and Jack and Aidan's birthmom, birthdad, and a lot of the extended family as well. Open adoption is something I was nervous about when we began, but is something I have grown to love and appreciate. I would not want our adoptions to be any other way!

I recommend the websites, and adoptive families magazine. I also recommend the books "Dear Birthmother" and "Making Sense of Adoption".

If you have any questions, or wish to correct anything in this post, feel free to do so! I love talking about adoption!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Food Friday: Water Storage

This week was my birthday (yay). My parents and in-laws both gave me some money. (Thanks!!) There are probably one million things I want. New clothes, shoes, go out to eat, movies, storage bins for my closet, new light fixtures, paint, fabric, oh, it might be easier to tell you the things I don’t want- pickles and textbooks. Everything else I drool over.

Even though there are so many things I want, I have been reading a lot of blogs and websites about living more simply, and I am trying to make my life less about what I want in the moment and more about how I want to shape my life. In that mindset of not over-spending, and not buying things I don’t actually need (And I won’t even mention all the economic crisis worries) I decided to resist the urge to buy something frivolous. But I didn’t want to just use the money for bills. So I was trying to think of something that would help me with a goal or a way to better my life, and I thought of water storage. So I used my money this week to buy some water storage containers. I purchased 3 5 gal containers.

There are so, so many different options. I almost went a little twitchy looking at all the products. There are good and bad things to every option. I chose this container because:

  • 5 Gal. seems like a reasonable amount to store to me. Large enough that I don’t have 57 containers, but small enough that if I wanted to carry it somewhere or throw it in the car, I could.

  • It is very definitely approved for water storage. There are a lot of other cheaper things, but I really didn’t feel like doing serious research. I feel a little better about knowing something is designed for what I want to use it for. And this one looked sturdy enough to last for years and years.

  • There are more expensive options as well, with special filters and spigots and all that. I decided not to go that route. I will be filling my containers with clean tap water. A filter might be nice, but maybe I can add that eventually. Right now I am working toward the basics. Starting simple is my goal.

  • I liked the blue.

There are some basic guidelines to storing water:

"If water comes directly from a good, pretreated source, then no additional purification is needed; otherwise, pretreat water before use. Store water in sturdy, leak-proof, breakage-resistant containers. Consider using plastic bottles commonly used for juices and soft drinks."

"Keep water containers away from heat sources and direct sunlight."

Source: (there is much more info there if you want to read more about water storage).

The American Red Cross recommends that you store 1 gallon/person/day of water, and to store 3 days worth in your home.

It is also recommended to rotate or empty and re-fill your water containers. The time varies by storage location, heat/cold, and a few other factors, but a good rule of thumb is one year. I can easily remember that around my birthday, I need to change out my water.

There was one other idea that I really liked. It was to use 2 liter bottles that formerly held soda, clean them and use them for water storage. It suggested to fill the bottles, then freeze them. Once frozen, they could be used for water, or also as big blocks of ice in case your power goes out and you need them to keep your refrigerator/freezer cold. We have an extra freezer in our basement. It isn’t huge, but I could easily throw 5 or 6 extra 2 liter bottles in the bottom. Extra water can be used for cleaning, washing, sanitation or cooking. It would not be a bad thing to have a little extra water in an emergency. So as I do my grocery shopping, I will buy some 2-liter sodas and supplement my water storage (after I drink the Diet Coke, of course).

This week I read the blog of someone who was in Hurricane Ike. He said that he was grateful that he had stored the recommended amount of water, but it made him a little nervous and a little stingy with it to know he only had the bare minimum. Water is something that it wouldn't hurt to have extra of. For now, I am happy with my 15 gallons of storage, and I will supplement with a few 2 liter bottles.

Did you make any progress this week? Do you have your recommended water storage? If not, what can you do *this week* to get some? I would love to hear about it!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

If you met me on the playground, you might hate me

I'm not a helicopter parent. I refuse to hover. When I am at the park or playground with my kids, that is my chance to sit and chill for a while, and it is their chance to run and play and be a little wild for a while.

I believe in letting the kids play. Without a whole lot of intervention from me. I will push them in the swing, and watch them do the monkey bars, and cheer when they do something they consider cool. But for the most part I back off.

Which generally earns me a lot of dirty looks and many somewhat veiled annoyed remarks in my direction from other parents. When we are at the park, Jack and Aidan like to play. They are 3. And they like to run. And try to 'get' each other. Sometimes they tackle each other. Sometimes they walk beyond the carefully laid mulch to the hills and trees next to the playground equipment. Sometimes they walk over to the water fountain and spray themselves until they are soaked. Sometimes they throw rocks (I stop them if people are nearby, but let it go if they are throwing in the ditch). All of this is ok with me. If they come home a little wet, I don't really care. If they accidentally run too fast down the hill and fall down, well, they've been bumped and scratched before. I don't jump up every time there is danger of them falling, bumping, or possibly getting hurt. I sit back and watch, and comfort when the need arises.

And, since I am confessing here, I don't care when they commit the (apparently) unpardonable sin of climbing *up* the slide. I'm not really sure why this is such a monstrous thing to do. I remember loving to climb up slides as a child. It works their muscles, gives them a challenge, and they enjoy it. But when other parents/kids are around, you are sure to hear shout of NO! And threats of time out when little Johnny even turns the direction of going *up* and not just down. And I get lots of dirty looks when mine do it and I just sit there. The looks get downright scary when I shout 'good climbing'!

When other kids are around, we are the bad influence. The other parents try to keep their children inside the mulch spot, away from the fountain, and never, ever climb *up* the slide. If there is a little scuffle, I tend to sit back and observe. I will intervene if I feel it necesary, but I never find it necessary before the other parents are already running at full speed, and yelling, and generally making a much bigger deal about whatever is going on.

My kids have been pushed, bitten, hit, etc. I try not to make a big deal of it. But I think I am the only one. Most of the parents I see would have an adult-sized tantrum if/when any of those things happen to their precious child.

Needless to say, I am not the popular mom at the park. I think the other moms really hate me. The one at the park today did for sure. She was talking to her playdate friend, and when I first sat down, I thought they were speaking at pretty normal levels, but her friend must have had selective hearing loss, because whenever she had something to say about THOSE BOYS (mine), her voice raised considerably. I appreciated it, because I was reading my book, and her play-by-play of their horrific behavior (running! climbing! shouting! horror!) allowed me to keep reading and not have to watch them as closely as I usually might. :)

If I felt my kids needed protecting, and they have in the past, I would do a little more hovering. If a kid is bugging them, I have no problem telling the kid (nicely, of course) to back off. And I have no problem with other people telling my kids to back off. But I know they can handle themselves, and they won't die if someone pushes them down. So I let them deal with it. But this attitude really makes it hard for me to meet friends on the playground.