Thursday, April 30, 2009

Paradise Postponed

Yep, we had to cancel our trip to Mexico. Darn Swine Flu! If the World Health Organization had not raised the alert level to a 5, we would have still gone. Couldn't they have waited one more day? We were actually hoping that once we were down there, they would close the borders! (Gosh Darn It, we'll just have to stay a while longer!)

Although I'm sure we made the right decision, it's still hard to swallow. I keep looking at the clock this morning, thinking what we'd be doing right now. For instance, we'd be just landing in Dallas, ready to change planes and meet our oldest sister in a few minutes. Who, by the way, may never speak to my other sister and me again! Needless to say, she DID NOT want to cancel the trip.

So we'll talk to the travel agent this morning and try to plan something else for this month, in another part of the world!

And may I add, this is officially a commercial for Traveler's Insurance! We cancelled our trip 12 hours before we were to leave, and will either get all of our money back or be able to use it towards another vacation within the next year. That a GREAT deal for about 100 bucks!

So wish me luck that my sister speaks to me again and we find another destination before school lets out.


And in case you're wondering, I'm eating everything in sight today and getting a massage. Tomorrow I'll stop wallowing in self-pity!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Need a Wife, I Mean a Nanny!

Let me tell you from personal experience, having a full-time nanny was AWESOME! Honestly, it was like having my own wife!

So if you’re trying to decide whether a nanny is the way to go, or if you have already decided and now need to start searching, let me give you the benefit of what I’ve learned. There are a few key things to keep in mind

  1. The nanny will be in your home, all day, with your kids and your things, while you are gone. I know you know this, but have you REALLY thought about it?
  2. She will know things about your kids and see things your babies do BEFORE YOU.
  3. You MUST have a back-up plan in case she is sick at the last minute. This is VERY important, and I should know, because I never had a back-up plan!
  4. She can make your life 100% easier if you hire the right person and agree completely on her duties.

So, you still want to hire a nanny, right? There are many local and on-line services to help you with this. They are wonderful, because they do all the background screening and initial interviews. And they will only pair you up with nannies that fit your profile. However, they can be quite costly.

So if you go at it on your own, here are a couple of suggestions. Make sure you watch them interact with your kids. Always, always, always do background checks on them. This includes a county, state and national criminal check, driving record and a check on the Child Abuse and Neglect Database. You can probably do these online or even through a detective agency.

In By The Book: Caring For MY Kids, we discuss hiring a nanny in a bit more detail. Also, there are outlines for a nanny application, interview sheet, and even a nanny agreement. While the agreement is not a legally binding contract, it is very specific on what your nanny’s duties will be and will not be. It also outlines pay structure, holidays, vacations, sick days, hours, etc. Make this as detailed as possible.

Good luck on your journey to find the perfect nanny!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Paradise Is Only 6 Days Away!


In six days, I will be leaving for Mexico with (pay close attention here) my sisters! NO KIDS! NO HUSBAND! NO DOG! NO CAT! JUST ME AND MY SISTERS!

(Are you jealous yet?)

Now don't get me wrong, you all know I LOVE my boys, the two 8 year olds and the 40-something year old. But, can you even imagine 5 days of Mexican sunshine, rolling waves, snoozing on the beach and eating everything in sight? And no "Mommy, watch this..." or "Mommy, he did ______ to me" or "Honey, where's the ________?"

This is the third year in a row that my sisters and I have gone away together. We go to all-inclusive, adults-only (if my kids aren't going to be there, I don't really want to put up with anyone else's kids!), beach-front resorts. Do we spend too much money? YES! Do we eat too much? YES! Do we work out? NO! And most importantly, do we feel guilty for leaving our families? NO, NO, NO!!!

Okay, all kidding aside, I think this is the best thing I do for myself and for my family all year. I come back refreshed, relaxed and a better wife and mommy. And the boys get some great quality time together. It's not going to kill them to have 5 days of constant fast food, TV and Wii. As long as my husband remembers to get them to school, I'm fine with everything else!

Did you read Melissa's post "
How Long Does It Take To Do That" back in January? If not, go back and read it. It is SO TRUE. The basic premise of her post is that when the husband travels, he packs and says, "so long honey." When the mom travels, we have to write long and involved notes explaining what needs to be done each day for school and where the sports games are over the weekend. We need to find babysitters for the time between the end of school and the time he gets home. We need to put notes out to remind everyone that the dog and cat need to eat and drink also. We send emails to the teachers so they know that if something isn't done on time, it's NOT OUR FAULT! We need to have neighbors come in to let the dog out, who isn't used to being in the house all day. And other neighbors to ask the husband in the morning at the bus stop if the boys have their backpacks, homework, snack, lunch, etc. We need to do laundry, so they have clothes to wear while we're gone. We need to go grocery shopping, just for the off-chance that they might eat a meal at home. Like frozen pizza or cereal.

(Oh my gosh, as I write this, I'm realizing all the things that I still have to do! Thank goodness a lot of this, like the schedules, are in

Anyway, you get the idea. But the main point I want to make is it's all worth it! We all need to take a little time for ourselves. Whether it's a trip to Mexico or just lunch with a girlfriend, you need to take care of YOU. I know, you've heard it before. But are you doing it? I am, and I think I'm a much better person for it.

So take a deep breath and plan something for yourself... by yourself. And think of me in 6 days while I lay on the beach and don't think of anything!


Monday, April 20, 2009


Do you remember when you used to babysit? Okay, besides the fact that we got LESS THAN $1.00 per hour (oops, am I showing my age?), we tried to get away with as much as possible, right? Whether it was eating every bit of junk food they had in the house or (gasp!) sneaking the boyfriend in after the kids were asleep. We were, after all, teenagers!

But now we’re the PARENTS, and we know what they are up to (eek!). But, when looking for a babysitter most of us just ask our friends and neighbors who they use, then we call them, right? But shouldn’t we use the same thought and effort when hiring the 3 hour babysitter as we would use if hiring a full time nanny? We are still trusting somebody with our children, our home, our lives for those 3 hours that we are gone.

In our book, “
By The Book: Caring For MY Kids,” we’ve included a section just for parents. It has interview questions for the potential sitter, as well as forms to fill out with your sitter’s information once you hire him or her. It even lets you “rate” the sitter and lets your child do the same. Hmmm, interesting differences in those ratings, don’t you think? J

What we’d love to do is look the potential sitter in the eyes and demand answers to “Do you have a boyfriend?” or “Have you ever tried illegal drugs?” or even “Are you going to pay attention to my kids and play with them?” But, it’s probably not the best approach! Don’t forget, they are checking YOU out, too!

Here is a sample of the questions you will find in the book:

1. Are you certified in Infant or Child CPR? How about First Aid?
2. Have you completed the Red Cross Babysitter Certification Course, or similar course offered at school?
3. What grade are you in at school and what are your grades?
4. What are your extra-curricular activities and hobbies? (This can tell you a TON about what kind of person she is.)
5. What age children are you most comfortable with and why?

These are just a few of the questions you might consider asking a potential sitter.

Depending on the person’s age, you might even want to have her parent there with you during the interview. Not only do you want to be comfortable with her, but you want her to be comfortable with you, and sometimes that means having the parent at ease also. And don’t forget, if she runs into problems, she’s probably going to call her own mother first, before bothering you while you’re out. Soooo… yes, you’re checking out the mom, too!

Next week, we’ll discuss how to hire a nanny. And VERY SOON we will have a giveaway for a FREE
book, so keep checking back!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why I Will Never lock the Bathroom Door Again

Melissa here-

In honor of Z2's birthday, and the fact that they are growing much faster than I want them too, I would like to share the following story. Never a dull moment around here. This really happened to me Monday morning at 9:45, March 28, 2005 . I can look back now and laugh (like both of my sisters did when I called them ) I hope this brightens your day!

I don’t know what was going on. Either God was bored, or my angels were on break, but that morning I walked into the bathroom. Noticing that my two children, Z1 (4) and Z2 (2) were otherwise occupied, I was quite happy to have a moment to myself. To ensure my two moments of peace, I closed the bathroom door and locked it. I never do that. Usually the kids just come right in, so I try to be as quick as possible. Not today, I told myself. They are occupied and I am going to the bathroom on my own, just like a big mommy.

So I do what I need to do and wash my hands. I turn to the door to undo the lock. It just turned around in circles. I tried to open the door. It was frozen. I was trapped. I swear to you, that bathroom got about two feet smaller instantly. I tried a little harder to get the door open, becoming frantic to get out. When I realized the door was not going to open, I began to panic. "Okay, okay, think,okay, thiiiiiink," I told myself. "Check your air supply." Air vents? Check. Since I was in the bathroom, I would have plenty of water should I be stuck for a long period of time. Okay. And we're breathing. I begin thinking about how long I may have to be in there, knowing that Brad would not be coming home for lunch. Then it hits me. I am locked in AND MY CHILDREN, AGES TWO AND FOUR ARE ALL ALONE IN THE HOUSE!!!!!! (And there are two Easter baskets filled with chocolate just waiting for Z1, my expert climber, to scale the refrigerator and rescue them!) Panic comes back!

By this point, about 20 minutes have passed, and the kids have discovered that I am still in the bathroom. Z1 is trying to get in. He tells me, “Mommy, I’m ready for you to come out now! Now, Mommy! Now!” No kidding! After he figures out that he can’t get the door open, and I can’t get the door open, he tells me,”Okay Mommy, I’ll go get you some books to read.” (I’m dead serious). My little boy starts slipping books under the door to me. One always wants reading material in the bathroom, but books on salmon and lizards was not what I had in mind.

I started thinking, “What are my tools?” I begin scrounging through the drawers. Had it been MY bathroom, no problem. But I was in the children's bathroom. What am I going to use, a rubber ducky? The door hinges were on the inside, so I managed to get one out using a hair pick I found. The second hinge, however, refused to move. By this point, the kids are playing outside the door. I see tiny little fingers beneath the door. We start playing hand games and I began to wonder if I could get a phone through there. Luckily, there was about one inch of space between the carpet and the door. After much direction, Z1 brings me the home phone. Doesn’t fit. So after much MORE discussion I finally get him to get my new cell phone (much thinner than my old one, thank you Angie!) out of my purse and he shoves it under the door. God love my child! I call my husband at work.

I tell him what’s going on. He LAUGHS at me! I gotta admit, if I was on his end, it probably would seem pretty funny. Thankfully, his office was about ten minutes away. After he announced to the office why he has to leave, and they getting a good laugh out of it, he makes it home to let me out. He laughed the entire time he came up the stairs. Thankfully, the door handle had been put on backwards, so my husband unscrewed the handle and was able to get me out quickly.

Thank the Lord for the drive a child has to be with his Mommy and for tiny cell phones!

So, the moral is, have a wonderful day and think twice before you lock your bathroom door!



Sunday, April 12, 2009

I DO Believe, I DO Believe

When do kids stop believing in the Easter Bunny? And for that matter, Santa Clause? My boys are 8 years old and honestly believe that a magic bunny travels the world delivering plastic, multi-colored eggs with candy inside of them. Now, I somewhat understand the Santa Clause thing, but the Easter Bunny? Surely they can think through this using some form of reality, can't they?

Okay, let me explain. I was raised in a Jewish household, so Easter was no big deal for us. Actually, I take that back. Every year, on the Monday AFTER Easter, my dad would go to the drug store and buy us Easter baskets. Because, of course, they were half off! So yes, I suppose we did like Easter, but we never learned about any magic bunny.

Just like Santa Clause. I never grew up thinking some round, jolly man made it all the way around the world in just one night to deliver presents to all the boys and girls. I just knew that on Chanukah, I got presents for 8 nights in a row, and that was magic enough for me!

I must admit, though, that I LOVE perpetuating the Santa Clause myth for my kids. I have so much fun doing it, and I know that one day they will tell me that Santa doesn't exist. I DREAD that day!

But what is it like for the kids? Is it some horrible realization that their parents have been lying to them all their lives? That there really is no magic in the world? No Santa Clause? No Easter Bunny? Or by the time they learn of the truth, is it no big deal to them? Surely, somebody at school will tell them this terrible truth soon. After all, they will be in 3rd grade next year. And many of their friends have older siblings.

And speaking of older siblings, how is that my kids have none, yet know ALL of the cuss words already? How can 8 year old boys know this? I didn't learn any bad words until about 5th grade. I can't stand it that their precious little ears and mouths can hear, and worse, say, these words.

But I digress...

As long as my kids believe, I will go right along believing with them. And I will try to cushion the blow when they learn the truth. And I will tell them that there is still magic in the world, you just have to look for it a little harder. I see it every time I look into their eyes!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Can I Brag?

Now I don't want to be one of "those" moms who talks about their children nonstop, and I think I'm pretty good about that. But every so often, one of them does something so great, I am just busting at the seams to tell someone ... anyone ... EVERYone!

I have twin 8 year old boys I'll call A and E. This story is about E. I just happened to be volunteering in his classroom this morning when the school counselor came in and asked to take E and another boy out of the room to talk. So, of course, my first question is "What did he do?" (Why is that always the first question for moms of boys? Do moms of girls do that, too?) She told me he didn't do anything, he was fine, and not to worry. Yeah, right! I gave her that "What aren't you telling me?" look until she gave me a tidbit. She said that there was a bit of trouble at recess yesterday and that E stood up for somebody. Hmmm. MY E?

So I waited until E came home, and immediately pounced on him for the whole story. Apparently, there were a few boys who had been teasing one of E's classmates, who I'll call H. They were calling him names and taunting him, under the pretense of playing tag. Now, keep in mind that the boys doing the teasing are friends of E, and H is really not a good friend. But my E said that he wanted to be on H's team for tag, and that they should stop bullying him. My little 8 year old showed compassion and strength for this other little boy.

(sniff, sniff)

Does this mean I'm actually doing something right?

Dang, I love my kids!


Monday, April 6, 2009

Mission Accomplished

Well, I did it! I am now on Facebook, making my goal complete. Of course, I still need to figure out what I'm doing on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, but at least I'm there! Actually, I've "met" a bunch of people on Twitter already. It's amazing how total strangers, who have absolutely NO IDEA who you are, will start "following" you. If you think about it, that's a lot of pressure. These folks must think that I'll have something wise to say, something to help them on their journeys, or even something witty. So I get stressed out every time I "tweet." If I just want to say that I'm working on my blog... well, that's kind-of boring. How can I spice it up in 140 characters or less? What if my followers STOP following me? What if I'm not popular? OMG, IT'S HIGH SCHOOL ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

(Deep breaths, deep breaths.)

Okay, I'm fine now.

Okay, so now that I'm "connected" at all these sites, now I have to manage my time and make sure I don't spend too much time Tweeting or posting or whatever it's called. Believe it or not, that's hard to do. It's very addicting! And fun!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I MIGHT be getting the hang of this.

Just an update to let you know that not only am I continuing to learn more and more about what LinkedIn can do for me, but I accomplished Goal #2: TWITTER! Yea, I did it! I am now on Twitter and can Tweet all sorts of people. Okay, I still need to figure out what and, more importantly, why. But, hey, I already have 7 followers! My official URL is but those on Twitter can find me with @karmelpub. Still learning, so wish me even more luck. Oh, and Goal #3 is Facebook. Sigh!