Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Funny- If Only It Was This Easy. . . .


Husband Down


A husband and wife are shopping in their local Wal-Mart. The husband

picks up a case of Budweiser and puts it in their cart.


'What do you think you're doing?' asks the wife..


'They're on sale, only $10 for 24 cans,' he replies.


'Put them back, we can't afford them,' demands the wife, and so they

carry on shopping.


A few aisles further on along the woman picks up a $20 jar of face cream

and puts it in the basket.


'What do you think you're doing?' asks the husband.


'Its my face cream. It makes me look beautiful,' replies the wife.


Her husband retorts: 'So does 24 cans of Budweiser and it's half the

price.'


On the PA system: 'Cleanup on aisle 5, we have a husband down.'


Yours, wishing you a Happy Friday!


Melissa

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Research on Legal Documents


Happy Thursday! I so appreciated Multi-Tasking Mama's comments last week about having the conversation with my parents BEFORE issues arise. I know I'll be happier/more at ease once I do (at least, that is the desired outcome, but who knows?!) but actually beginning the conversation is going to be all about timing. Along with all of this, I'm doing a bit of research on those all important legal documents that you hope your parents will put together or that you will know where they are when the time comes. Things like mortgage deeds, life insurance papers, bank papers, Living Will/DNR, Last Will and Testament. . . . So many things to consider. What surprises me is how much these documents vary from state to state. I had (NAIVELY) assumed that there would be some sort of cohesive, federally mandated form for these things, but alas, not so! So I'm doing my best to be as inclusive and thorough as possible without trying to overwhelm people.

But among the interesting facts I HAVE found out:

In a person's will, in some states, they are required to leave their offspring at least one dollar, or the child can contest the will and go to court for a larger settlement.

AND

if you were married to someone for more than ten years, if they pass before you, you are still entitled to their social security/bereavement benefit.

Who would have guessed THAT?!. Anyone else out there know of any good ones?

Yours, wishing you a Happy Thursday (and don't forget to leave your kids at LEAST a buck in your will!),

Melissa

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

THE MIDDLE SISTER’S “THINGS” ON OUR TRIPS

My middle sister’s name is Margee, and during every Sister’s Trip, she has a “thing.” Something always happens to her! So Mindy (the oldest) and I have started documenting Margee’s “things” so we can always remind her, over and over again. (Isn’t that what sisters are for?)

I’m going to start with this last trip, because the first trip has the best story of them all!

Trip #4: One of Margee’s dogs dies while we are gone. Seriously. She goes outside to go potty, breaks her leg, and when the vet takes an x-ray, finds bone cancer. She was very old anyway, so the vet recommended putting her down. (Okay, even Mindy and I have our limits – we won’t make fun of her about this one, I promise.)

Trip #3: Margee and I decide we want to try something new, so we go parasailing. After about 60 seconds up there, I’m terrified, but Margee just keeps telling me she doesn’t feel so well. We motion for them to122 bring us down, but Mindy, who is bravely on the boat (HA!) thinks we are telling her we want to go higher, so that’s what she tells the boat operators, who do what she says. (Everyone does what Mindy says!) Finally we get down, get unhooked, and Margee promptly starts hurling over the side of the boat. Only the wind is blowing, so it all comes RIGHT BACK AT US and somehow she misses this (or just doesn’t care). The Mexican guys are trying to clean off the boat, Mindy and I are trying to avoid it all, and Margee finally puts her head under the railing so the wind just blows the hurl onto the side of the boat instead of back into it. EWWWWW!!!

Trip #2: Two “things” on this trip actually. First, Margee gets a cold. No big deal, just get some Sudafed right? No, not in Mexico. In Mexico, you can go to a pharmacy on any corner and get Vicodin, Percocet, Viagra, or just about any narcotic, pain killer, antibiotic, or almost anything else you want without a prescription, but YOU CANNOT GET COLD MEDICINE. I still don’t get this! She also fell on some marble steps. (I’m not sure of this, but I think she was going UP, not down!) She hurt her knee so badly, she had trouble with it for about 6 months.

But all of this just leads up to…

Trip #1: This is still the best one! We went to “Swim With the Dolphins” which was an awesome experience. The last thing the trainers have the dolphins do with us is put us in the water and have 2 dolphins bring us back by having them put their snouts on our feet and having us arch our backs and stretch our arms out to the side. The dolphins are so fast, we are actually raised out of the water. It’s amazing! When it’s Margee’s turn, everything is great. She’s flying out of the water as the dolphins are pushing her. Then I notice that her swim suit bottoms are dolphins not exactly where they are supposed to be anymore! I can tell that she knows this, but she’s going so fast, there’s not much she can do about it. Luckily, nobody else in our group seems to notice. So of course, being the good sister that I am, after she gets back (see, at least I waited until she got back!) I screamed to out to everyone, “OHMYGOD! YOU LOST YOUR SUIT BOTTOMS!!!!!!” So you’re thinking, okay, no big deal, so she’s embarrassed, but nobody else saw. Aren’t you forgetting something? THE VIDEO????? YES, each group gets the opportunity to purchase a video of EVERYONE in their group! Margee watched You Tube for months waiting for it to turn up! As for our video, we bought one for the three of us, but Margee took it to a company to have it “fixed” first so we (or our husbands) couldn’t “see” any unmentionables! (Oh, here’s something funny, though. On her way to this place to get the video done, she got a speeding ticket!)

So these are Margee’s “things.” You could feel sorry for her. Or, like Mindy and I, you could just make fun of her for the rest of her life! Don’t you just love sisters?

Karen

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why That Paper Trail is Helpful

I know it seems like we harp on organization a lot around here. Well, that's what we do. Yesterday, Karen talked about having a contract with your nanny or sitter. It's not that we are perfect at it, by any means. I completely have days where my thinking is muddled and off. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to hold it all together with twine. Like when I pour orange juice on my daughter's Cheerios instead of milk. Or when I show up at their elementary school office at ten o'clock with their snacks, homework and lunches in hand. Yep, some days I am THAT mom.
I'm working to get better, and I can see where sometimes that paper trail can protect me. By writing it out, there is COMMUNICATION. It's all there in black and white. That's really what our organizers are about. Not to say,"Oh look at me! I'm perfectly organized!" but to make sure there communication between the two parties.

Case in point- now this does not have to do with a sitter, as my regular sitters and I have our routine down, but a parent and student in my studio. Last week was recital week. The parent, lacking details about the recital (basically, directions) proceeded to tell me that I needed to send something out a month before the recital with times, locations and that this was mandatory. Well, I did not send out a mass letter, but had been writing it on her young teen child's lesson sheet for some time. When I explained that, she dismissed me saying, "Oh, I never look at those." To which I replied,"That's the whole purpose of the lesson notebook- so everyone knows what the student is doing." And I proceed to show her how I had been writing down the location and time of the recital since the last week in January. Yep, for three months I had been communicating the information to everyone of my students in their lesson notebook.

I imagine there was quite the lively conversation in the car on their trip home.

Point being, when we write it down, it's there. We're communicating. And that's what this is all about.

Yours, wishing you a good Tuesday,

Melissa

Monday, April 26, 2010

THE NANNY AGREEMENT

When you think of having a nanny, you don’t always think in terms of it being a business arrangement because it’s to personal to you. After all, she’s there to take care of your children, not your finances. But this must be treated like any other employer/employee relationship. When yousigning contract start most jobs, you have to sign an employment agreement, right? So it’s no different here.

You’re thinking, “Really, Karen? A contract? C’mon now!” Believe me when I say that it’s as much for her as it is for you. Really, it’s about expectations. A nanny agreement isn’t just outlining pay and holidays and basic stuff like that, it’s putting down on paper EXACTLY what you two can expect from each other.

For example, if a package shows up at your door, can she sign for it? If she does, is she responsible for it? Is your nanny supposed to do any nanny agreement pg1housework? What, specifically, does that include? (For instance, my nanny did my kids’ laundry, but there was no way I was going to have her fold my underwear. That was just too weird!) And when is she supposed so do this housework?

See what I mean? You may talk to her about such things, but it’s much, much better to have everything documented so that there are no surprises for either one of you. And it can really open up the lines of communication, bringing things up that neither one of you had even thought about, if the agreement is comprehensive enough.

For sample agreements, there are plenty on-line, or, of course, The Caregiver Organizer has one in it as well. But whatever you do, make sure the contract fits your needs, and have it checked over by your own attorney. (That’s my disclaimer for the day!)

Karen

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Funny- Things that make you go,"Yeah! That's right!"


Good Morning Faithful Friday Funny Readers!

In the interest on not being a self-centered, whiny, ranting person this morning, I've decided to postpone my blog (Rant) about paper trails and people who think it's their duty to tell you how to run things. . . I'll get to that on Tuesday. Because today, it's FRIIIIIIIIIIDAAAAAAAAAYYYYY (yes, that is the note of happiness) and I just want to let loose.

So Karen sent me this e-mail that I thought was so funny in the mmmhmmmIknowexactlywhatyou'retalkingabout kind of way, and I've decided to repost it here. (And no, Karen, that does NOT count as a blog post for you. Love you!)

Universal Truths


1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear

your computer history if you die. (Absolutely, unequivocally. I wonder if we could somehow start a service that does that from a remote location? Hmmmmm...)


2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you

realize you're wrong.(doh!)


3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was

younger. (sigh)


4. There is great need for a sarcasm font. (TRULY. How can we do this?)


5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? (I gave up a while ago. Now I just kinda push it together and then push it into the linen closet. Better yet, I just wash it and put the same one back on the bed so I don't have to fold it. There you go. It's a non-issue).


6. Was learning cursive really necessary?


7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty

sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.


8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the

person died. (I mean, really! I could tell you how a prof of mine died, and it was SO much more interesting than what the paper printed!)


10. Bad decisions make good stories. (hee-hee)


12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I

don't want to have to restart my collection...again. (Seriously!)


16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not

seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.


17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to

answer when they call. (YUP, and I don't feel one bit guilty about it either!)


18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well. (I mean, c'mon! I gotta find the ice cream!)


19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or

Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite (or wine or Margaritas) than Kay Jewelry.


20. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Speed Trap" andAvoid Bad Neighborhood routing options. (Like the speed trap at the Kentucky/Illinois border in Johnson County, Illinois. THAT would have been helpful a few weeks ago. . . )


21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and

suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I saw it the first time. ( I can't believe my mother let me watch "Grease" when I was ten. WHAT was she thinking? I'm still traumatized. And NO! It was NOT the edited version! Good thing I was clueless. . . )


Yours, wishing you a fabulous (and speed trap free) Friday,


Melissa



Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday Thoughts-Do You Know Their Wishes?


Warning- thought provoking and semi-heavy blog today. Just sayin'. . .

Here at The Caregiver Organizer, I'm working on the skeleton of our next book in the series, "Caring For My Aging Parent." I've come to the emergency section. This is the one section that I'm not a fan of writing, but know that it is absolutely necessary. You see, it's the section that includes all of the things we never want to deal with, hope to never have to think about, yet should be prepared for because, unfortunately, the odds are not always in our favor.

The piece I'm putting into place right now is the DNR- Do Not Resuscitate Form. Even typing it out leaves me with a heavy sigh. And it got me to thinking, I know a lot about my parents, but I really don't know their wishes. Wouldn't I rather have this conversation with them now while they are coherent and well within their ability to articulate their wishes? Feels like some heavy conversation coming into my future.

What about you? Do you know and understand what your parents' wishes are? Might not hurt to make the time to begin the conversation.

I'll keep you updated on how mine goes.

Yours, wondering how the heck I'm going to approach this,

Melissa

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SISTER’S TRIP 2010

My sisters and I went on our 4th vacation, now simply known as The Sister’s Trip, last week to Mexico. We had a few bumps in the road on this trip, however, starting with our connecting flight in Dallas. (Remind me next year to get a direct flight please!)

Everything is going peachy, our 6:00am flight out of St. Louis is uneventful. We get to Dallas, pick up Sister #3 and get on the plane as scheduled. Suddenly we hear an announcement that the pilot doesn’t like this plane and wants to get another one. What? Is there a bug in the cockpit or did a wing fall off? No idea, but we all pile out. Finally,american airlines they find us a new plane. (Considering we were flying American and their hub in is Dallas, it seemed to take a really long time to find us a new plane, but whatever.) We all get on, then get an announcement that one of the passengers apparently left his passport on the first plane (really, who takes their passport out and puts it in the seat pocket?), so either they need to find it on that plane, or find his luggage and leave him in Dallas. Seems like a no-brainer, but for some reason, they didn’t know exactly where the first plane was. Hmmm. Okay. A maintenance guy finally finds the plane, and therefore the passport, and brings it to the silly man who left it behind. So you’d think we’d leave then, right? No, because they had started serving first class already, so we had to wait for them to finish. Seriously, I am NOT making this up! I just love American Airlines!

So, three hours late, we finally get to Mexico, in a torrential downpour. (So I guess it didn’t really matter if we got there late, right?) That seemed to be the theme for the next 2 days. Luckily, it was off and on. So when it stopped raining, we’d run out to the beach and lay down on lounge chairs (yes, sometimes wrapped up in towels!), just to be near the ocean. When it would start raining again, we’d run for cover. I know, we had our suits on, but the rain was really cold! Nevertheless, we were together, we were away from home, and we were still having a great time!

Saturday morning, the sun was shining beautifully! We ran out there as early as we could (after room service delivered breakfast and we ate a few bites) and didn’t move unless we had to pee or eat! It was amazing! We had all of Sunday morning out there also before we had to leave.

So all in all, we got a little sun time and a lot of sister time, which is really the point of The Sister’s Trip anyway! Here’s a few pictures of our vacation:

IMG_0153_1 IMG_0159_1

IMG_0197_1 Mexico 2010 006

Mexico 2010 013

Karen

By the way, every year we have different “sister” shirts on for our trip. This one says “I’m The Sane Sister.”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday Tidbit


Yes, it's Tuesday today. All day. Lately, Tuesdays have been an overwhelming day for me. Teach in the morning. Quick break. Teach in the afternoon. Run like heck with the kids at night. I'm trying to keep it all organized, but it's not an easy process.

My class this morning- in case you are wondering- most of them were there. But I've come to terms with the fact that if I have to flunk half of them (which I do NOT relish doing), it's job security for me, because they will have to retake my class. Ahhhh, Always a silver lining.

Something I did do to make my life a little easier today (because, yes, I am STILL on a simplicity bent) was make a crock pot dinner. Pork ribs in the pot. A little Worcestershire, meat tenderizer, steak spice and away we go.

And now, off to organize my church job. Currently, I'n liking Excel Spreadsheets for this task. Putting everyone in their grouping, alphabetizing and ordering. It makes me feel all tidy inside. Can't beat it!

And then, more writing for the "My Aging Parent" Organizer. I'm really liking what we are putting in there. It's going to be a must have!

Yours, wishing you a fantastic Tuesday,

Melissa

Monday, April 19, 2010

BITS AND PIECES

I know, you’re waiting for an update on my Sister’s Trip. I’m just so tired right now, all I can say is it was great of course, but the weather didn’t exactly cooperate the entire time. More on Wednesday!caregiver organizer cover child 300dpi

On the business front, our sale was a HUGE success on The Caregiver Organizer, but, sadly, it’s now over. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t still get our eBook or our first-run hardbound book. Just visit our website and see what they are all about.

On the personal side, did I really have to come home to a sink full of dishes? I should have NEVER made that comment (years ago, I might add) that he didn’t load the dishwasher right. He has since used that as an excuse to never do it again.

Have you ever used Skype? That’s how I called home from Mexico, as did one of my sisters. You know how there’s a big picture of the person you’re talking to, and a smaller one of what they are seeing of you? Why is it that the kids are WAY more interested in making faces into the camera and watching themselves than talking to me when they should be missing me? Find a friggin’ mirror when we stop talking!

Okay, I’m getting snarky. I think it’s time to take a nap!

Karen

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Funny- Cracking the Whip


For those of you who may just be joining us, among many of my part-time jobs (because, really, who has a full-time job anymore. . . that's a whole other post ENTIRELY), I teach music at a local university. I love this job and take pride in what and how I teach. We are, however, at THAT point in the semester.

THAT point would refer to the lull that exists after the 3rd exam (week 12) and the three weeks leading up to final exams. I always know that those
weeks-13 and 14- will be the ones where I really have to pull my class along and motivate them. I do, however, expect them to have some degree of preparedness, as they are here because they want to be. At the tuition rate of $20K+ a year, you had better be. Especially if you are pursuing a music degree of any sort.

Tuesday came and it was my day to teach my all male class. It was not purposed this way, it just happened. Now, being the only female in the room, I walk an even finer line, just because boys being boys, will do whatever they can to rattle you, make you blush, have sympathy for them, etc. It's been a term of ups and downs, but through it all, I've remained constant, pushing them to continue their studies. But Tuesday, at five minutes before class, no one was there. Not unusual. At 5 minutes after starting time, only 3 of the 7 were there, with only 1 having his text. (We use the text every single class period). By ten after, Only 4 were there, and no one had pencil or paper. At this point I lost it.

Deep Breath.

Then somebody cracked a wise crack. I don't even remember what it was, but I was beyond tired of the attitude.

I felt my mouth begin to open. Right. Uh-oh.

I pointed my little finger at all of them, narrowed my eyes and said,"This is
FREAKIN' RIDICULOUS!!!!!" You all get your lazy butts out those chairs, go downstairs to the Lost and Found, find some textbooks and get back up here because WE. (hand slamming on the piano for emphasis)ARE. (slam!) HAVING.(slam!) CLASS!!!" (slam!)

Startled, they jumped back in their seat, frozen to the chairs.

"
NOOOWWWWW!" (BIG SLAM!)

Man, did they scatter. There was a clamoring of college boy feet and haste for the stairs. I don't remember a time I saw them move so quickly as at that moment. One enterprising student ran to the next room, which happened to be the head of the theory program's office.

"Dr. X! Dr. X! Do you have an
Ottman (our text) I can borrow?"

Without so much as looking up, Dr. X, who had heard the entire encounter, calmly replied,"I have one you can rent for $50."

(I like Dr. X.)

Within three minutes flat, my class had returned, each with text in hand, frantically opening it to chapter ten, ready to go.

I am happy to report that on Thursday, when I walked in at two minutes to class time, all class members were present, all brought their textbooks, pencil and paper. And though I'm only half of most their size, I think for present, they see me as just a tiny bit taller than the week before.

Sometimes, they just need to be reminded in whose kingdom they are learning. Mine.

Yours, wishing you a happy weekend,

Melissa

Thursday, April 15, 2010

While She's in Mexico. . . .

I DID mean to blog yesterday. I really did. Karen's away on her annual Sister's Trip to Mexico, which leaves me the responsibility of blogging on days I usually don't. We all see how well THAT went!

Regardless, here's what's happening at Karmel Publishing. We're working steadily on our next book: The Caregiver Organizer for My Aging Parent. Looking at how our generation is getting sandwiched between caring for our children AND our parents, we're working to help you keep all of those things to get done organized, as well as maybe give you some suggestions of things that need to be taken care of before life gets uber complicated. (When isn't it, right?)

For those of you who are already in the midst of this season, we'd love to hear from you. We'd like to hear what things are most important to you right now, as well as while your parent continues to age, and how they need to be cared for. Anything and everything. Bring it on!
We're planning on unveiling this book early summer of 2010 (this summer, for those of you who have not yet had your coffee).

Also, take a look at our website- still running the sale. Only a few printed/bound books left, so get them before they're gone. They make fabulous baby shower gifts- always the most unique gift there.

And come back tomorrow for Friday Funny. You'll get to hear about me teaching in class this week, what made me explode and the class's reaction.

See you on the web in the morning,

Melissa

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TRYING TO WRITE A BLOG, BUT…

Hi! Karen here! I usually don’t blog on Tuesdays, but I traded days with Melissa since I’m leaving on my Sister’s Trip tomorrow and won’t be able 148to do my usual Wednesday blog. So I’m sitting here, wondering what to blog about but all I can think is that I’M GOING TO MEXICO TOMORROW WITH MY SISTERS!!!!!!

Whew, sorry! Lost my head there for a minute! Okay, I’m concentrating now. I have a bunch of topics I could write about, but for some reason I just can’t get my mind on it. WOO HOO!!! 24 HOURS AND WE’LL BE ON THE PLANE ON OUR WAY TO SUN, SAND AND PARADISE!!!!! Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry for that outburst. Back to work.

How about an article on how a nanny can make your life easier for you? 153 SO YOU CAN GO TO MEXICO WITH YOUR SISTERS!!!!! No, no, Karen, pull it together! Okay, maybe a weight loss update? FORGET THAT… I’M SIPPING PINA COLADAS AND EATING NACHOS ON THE BEACH BY TOMORROW AFTERNOON!!!!!

Oh, forget it! How about if I just tell you all about it when I get back?

Karen

Psssst! Did I mention I’m leaving for Mexico tomorrow on my annual Sister’s Trip? :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

YOU REALLY, REALLY NEED TO KNOW YOUR NANNY!

Last week I gave you some pointers on hiring your perfect nanny. But there are 2 points I need to expand on: Look into the future and know the people around her. Let me explain.

Our first nanny was the perfect person for infant twins. The typical “grandmotherly” type of woman, although she really wasn’t all that old. She just had that personality of calm and warmth and love.chrystal ball We couldn’t have been happier with her. But as the boys grew more mobile, we found out that she was having a bit of trouble keeping up with them. And when they were about 14 months old, we moved into a 2-story house, which is when she had to admit to us that her knees just couldn’t take it. Running after them on one level was difficult enough, but two levels would be murder for her. She had to leave us.

So hiring somebody who may be perfect for one stage of your child’s life may be great for the moment, but you need to look beyond that. Try to find somebody who can grow with your child and be perfect for all those wonderful stages.

My next piece of advice is more difficult to do, but necessary. It’s not only important to know the person you are hiring, but also her family and friends. Obviously you can’t run background checks on everyone (although it would be great if you could!), but you should ask her questions about the people closest to her.

Here is a true story to illustrate why this is important. My third nanny, whom I’ll call Jane, had a male roommate. No big deal, he was just a friend (actually he was gay, so I really didn’t have a problem with it!). Because St. Louis can be a really small big city sometimes, I found out that he wore an ankle bracelet because he was on house arrest for something, but Jane didn’t know what. My mistake was not pushing her to find out, because when I finally did find out (through my own means), it turned out it was for inappropriate conduct with a minor. I FREAKED!!!

I immediately called the agency who helped me hire her to ask their advice. Here was my dilemma: I loved her as a nanny, but she showed extremely poor judgment in sharing an apartment with this individual without knowing all the facts. On their advice, I drafted a contract questions requiring her, among other things, to leave my house key with me every night (there was NO way I was letting her bring that to where he could get it) and she could not discuss my family or my children with him under any circumstances.

When I presented this to her the next day and told her what I had found out, she was (I was glad to see) horrified. She signed the contract, and to my delight, moved out into her own apartment that following weekend.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think we can know everyone in our nanny’s life, but a little knowledge can go a long way. You are inviting her to be in your home, so it’s okay to pry a little, be a little nosy, and ask a few questions about her surroundings. It’s your right and it’s your duty. And frankly, if she has a problem with it, maybe she has something to hide. I’m just saying…

Karen

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Fun-Oh!

Sometimes, I just have to wonder what is going through my childrens' minds. Sometimes I ask them to explain, and other times, I just take things at face value. Regardless, they almost always make me smile, and that's what I value the most. Here's a few highlights:

Z2 loves to paint on her easel with her watercolors. Lately she has been fascinated with the Superman logo. She paints it and then sounds out his name and paints the name under the logo. As she is fairly young, she is still sounding out words, and the spelling is not quite as accurate as it will one day be. She finished her painting and left it on the kitchen table for me. I looked down to see she had spelled out Superman, but as she sounded it out, she left out the U.

Brings a whole new meaning to it, doesn't it?

**********************************

Z2 told me a joke the other day. She said,"Hey Mom, what's the difference between roast beef and pea soup?"

"I dunno, honey. What is it?"

"Well," she said,"you can roast beef. . . giggle. . .giggle.., but you CAN'T PEE SOUP!"

BWAHAHAHAHA!

************************************

Sitting in the kitchen the other day at the table, I was talking to my son, Z1 who was standing at the counter. He looked at me and out of the blue said,"Mom, when I was a baby, what was my first meal? I imagine you gave some kind of vegetables, didn't you?"

"Well, honey, I nursed you when you were a baby. So your first meal was mother's milk."

"WHAT?!? Mother's milk?"

"Mmmhmmm. That's the way God made a woman's body. When she has a baby, her breasts get full of milk so she can feed her baby. That's really what they're for."

"So,'he says, with a look at my chest and the realization of what I did to him," you put me up to your boob and I sucked the milk right out?"

"Yes, dear."

"Like A. DOG????"

"Yes, dear, except mommy only has two, not like, eight."

After what seemed a lifetime of him just staring at me, he breathes a sigh of relief and say,"Wow, mom. I'm sure glad I'm not a woman!"



Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

Melissa

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Yay For Single Tasking!

Multi-tasking. Everyone does it. We're pushed to do it all the time. Get more done. Be more efficient. Get more done and be efficient all at the same time. As of late, though, I'm finding that multi-tasking is just not working for me. I'm finding ways to single task, and I think I like it.

Today I'm in Nashville, writing songs. In the writing rooms we'll cover all kinds of ground, talk about everything and eventually circle the airport and land the plane. That can take a while. Yesterday, I walked into my appointment and after ten minutes, my co-writer said ,"What do you want to write?" We settled down to task and within three to four hours finished two songs. We were pretty focused on getting the job done. And I have to say, I liked it a lot.

There's something to it. Before I left, I set my mind down to prepping and leaving instructions and keeping things focused on one thing. I left my book (The Caregiver Organizer for MY Child), a few meals, packed and left bright and early. But I'm realizing that as I focus on the task at hand, just one task, I'm getting a lot more done. Which beats multi-tasking and having eight things only 1/3 of the way done all to heck. I'm learning to pay attention and savor things a little more. And I like it.

Yours, stopping to smell the roses,

Melissa

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

7 MORE DAYS TILL PARADISE!

For those of you who were not reading this blog last year at this time, you don’t know this, but every year since my dad passed away, my sisters and I have been taking a trip together to Mexico. This will be ourbeach 4th year. No kids, no husbands, no responsibilities, nothing but sand, sun and sisters!

I love my family (I’m required to say that!) but it is, by far, the most glorious, relaxing time I spend all year long. Here is our daily schedule:

  • Wake up in our separate rooms.
  • Have room service deliver breakfast (did I mention we’re in separate rooms?)
  • Meet at the beach.
  • Read/talk/laugh until we’re hot.
  • Take a dip in the ocean until we’re cool.
  • Repeat last 2 steps until lunchtime.
  • Keep repeating those 2 steps until dinnertime.
  • Return to our rooms (still separate!) to shower, relax some more, call home (maybe).
  • Meet for dinner.
  • Maybe find an after dinner activity, but usually not.
  • Return to (separate) rooms and relax even more, until we drift off to a peaceful sleep.
  • Repeat entire process for several more days.

Seriously, doesn’t that sound like heaven to you? We stay in separate rooms for a couple of reasons. First of all, we all need time ALONE, which we rarely get at home. But also, we’d probably end up killing each other if we stayed in the same room!

3sisters My sisters and I are best, best friends, and we love, love each other. But we know our limits with each other! We’re pretty sure that 4 nights is the maximum amount of time for our vacation (although when it’s time to go home, we’re always tempted to try another night!) and we know ABSOLUTELY we cannot share a room!

I highly recommend a Sister’s Trip, or Brother’s Trip or even a Friend’s Trip for everyone. Pick your favorite people and plan an annual event. You’ll thank me!

Karen

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Leaving Your Child With Someone Else

After Karen's post about finding a nanny yesterday, we had several comments (although only one soul was brave enough to post) about leaving your child in the care of someone else. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm in the minority by having sitters. There are many people who choose to stay with their children over working. There are people who do not have the option to choose.
Prior to having my son, I had a list of sitters lined up a mile long. The instant I gave birth, it completely changed. The next day I remember having the thought,"WHAT was I thinking?!?!?!?! I can't leave my precious baby with THEM!" After leaving the hospital it was 2 1/2 weeks before I even left the house and it was only at my husband's insistence. Even then we simply took a drive and went to Sonic because I could not take my beautiful, clean, ungermed baby near anyone who might have the hint of a sniffle. Looking back now, I realize how ridiculous I was, but at the same time, I completely understand why I was that way.

The fact is, we love our babies. Love them. Would lay down our lives in a heartbeat for them. And woe unto the person who comes between me and my child. Or threatens my child. Or hurts my child (unless my child hurt them first, but you get the idea!)

But the question remains, what makes me think that I can give my child the very best, infallible care twenty four hours a day without EVER having a break? What terrifies me so much that I feel like only I can be the one to take care of them?

Don't get me wrong- I had the gift of having my sister care for my kids and my mother was nearby as well. But I was still scared as heck, asking them tons of questions every time I picked them up and leaving a bunch of instructions that could not possibly be followed, even by myself!

And I still have not conquered all of my fears. Why do you think we wrote that book? Because we wanted EVERYTHING to be there for the best care for our children. But still, I won't let them ride the school bus (because it's a different driver some days and there are no seat belts and how can ONE person watch 60 kids AND drive?!?!?!?) And I still make them lunches so they get a healthy lunch and I still am ALL UP IN THEIR BUSINESS at school.

But I still have to wonder what makes me think I can do it all and do it better than anyone else?

I would LOVE to hear some thoughts on this from you, dear readers.

Yours, awaiting your insights,

Melissa

Monday, April 5, 2010

HOW TO FIND YOUR OWN MARY POPPINS

So you read my last post and decided, “It’s OK, I can learn to share my my home with another woman. I really, really want a nanny.” Good for you! Now the hard work begins: How do you find the perfect nanny for your family?

You basically have 2 choices: find one yourself or use a service. If you’re going to use a service, there are many, many websites that cannanny help you do this. All I can say, is please check them out before you use any of these. I can recommend Nannies4Hire.com and Care.com because I have spoken with and worked with the owners and can vouch for their professionalism and character (and no, I have not been paid to promote their companies). As for the rest of the on-line services out there, I’m sure there are many good ones, even great, but I don’t have any personal experience with them, so just use your best judgment. Also look in your Yellow Pages for local services, which is what I did. I liked the personal touch (okay, and I didn’t really know about the on-line services 10 years ago!) and found a fabulous service in my area to help me.

If you want to try to find your nanny on your own, there are many different avenues to try. After my first nanny left, I thought I’d try to save some money and look myself. I asked friends for referrals, but that didn’t really get me anywhere, so I put an ad in the local paper. WOW! Let’s just say I learned to net out some of the responders over the phone, but still, it was quite the experience! I did, however, find a woman to be our next nanny. In The Caregiver Organizer, there are contract tools to help you with interviewing, and even a Work Agreement, which is necessary to outline what is expected from the nanny, as an employee and from you, as the employer. You MUST get background checks on anyone you plan on hiring, though. There are services who will do these checks for you. I cannot stress this step enough! (Next week, I’m going to write about why it’s also important to know the people in your nanny’s life as well…stay tuned!)

Here’s my true story for the day: The woman who I hired on my own turned out to have some, well, let’s just say “baggage.” I finally let her go after about 6 months. When I went back to the service who had helped me find my first nanny, I told them about her. They immediately knew who I was referring to. They had interviewed her, but had not taken her on as a client because they had seen some “issues” with her that I had not seen. Lesson learned: Sometimes letting the professionals do their jobs is worth the money they charge. Hmmmm!

Karen

Friday, April 2, 2010

Coffee Baths and Other Assorted Disasters


Earlier in the week, I promised that I would give you a glimpse into why I'm having a harder time holding on to my sanity. Grab a cup of coffee. This is going to take a few minutes to explain my Monday morning, but I promise you will feel so much better about your Monday after reading about mine.

I get up at 5:45 in the morning to get my workout in. It's not that I like to get up that early, but if I don't work out first thing, I know it won't happen. So I put on my exercise clothes and putter downstairs to get a glass of juice. I open up the fridge and notice that something is not. quite. right. Oh, look. There's shards of glass on the shelves and what IS that dripping?

Apparently, when you put a bottle of Rendezvous Lemonade next to the vent where the freezer air comes in, it freezes the bottle. In and of itself, not a bad thing. Except that the lemonade froze too. And expanded. And shattered the bottle EVERYWHERE. And once the lemonade was outside the bottle, it melted and pooled into a huge puddle in the bottom of the fridge. And of course, the fridge was completely full as I had just gone grocery shopping the day before. Of course.

Hmmmmm. . . there goes my workout.

I begin taking items out and pull the trash can over to toss the busted glass. All the while I'm talking to myself, saying,"Okay. It's Monday. I'm not going to let this ruin my day. It's time for Spring Cleaning anyway. Just getting an unplanned head start." I'm calmly talking myself through this. By the time I get down to the bottom, my neighbor's daughter is coming over (so I can take her to school with my kids later). My husband, who is still in his PJ's looks at me, in the midst of the entire fridge contents all over the counter, painstakingly cleaning everything and says,"You want to go get that? I'm still in my PJs."

This is a test. This is only a test. I will not rip his head off. Melissa, bite your tongue and just go get the door. (Mind you, I didn't look much prettier, but hey, what's some bed head between neighbors, right?)

So I finally get the fridge put back together and get the kids and myself ready for school. Since I had had a bit of a rough start, I decided to dress up a little bit to pull my spirits up. I had on a beautiful pair of grey, wide legged trousers with a big French cuff on the bottom and some black oxford pumps. I'm shooing everyone to the car as I'm at the top of the stairs, mega cup of coffee in hand. As I begin to take my first step down, my right heel catches in the cuff of my left pant leg. My entire body lurches forward as I grab on to the banister. As I'm trying to get my heel out (all within a second, I tell you), my legs compensate and throw my body backward. I look like Weeble Wobble Punching Bag going down for the count and back up again, all with coffee in hand and screaming Lord only KNOWS what. The coffee could no longer contain itself and leapt out of the mug, onto the left wall, the right wall, down eight of the stairs with NEW carpeting and a nice sized splash on the right side of my head, down my arms, sweater vest and pants. And I was having SUCH an amazing hair day until that moment.

I fell back into the safety of the hallway at which point I see that my sweet boy is behind me with the most surprised expression on his face. Think Alfalfa, sprout of hair in the back and all.

Bless his heart, the first words out of his mouth were,"Mom!!! Can I help you?!?! I'll go get some towels!" We blotted up as much as we could, but I had to get the kids to school, so I got in the car and took them, smelling like Verona with cream and sugar. After dropping them off, I go back home, clean myself up and begin wiping down walls and carpet.

"Well, " I say to myself,"At least I didn't plummet head first to my death and again, getting more cleaning done. Might as well, after the fridge." I take a quick shower, put on fresh clothes, getting ready to walk out the door to get to work and I can't find my keys.

I know, right? It feels like a movie at this point. I'm starting to wonder a bit- it's feeling so doomsday- so I say,"Lord, I'm going to use my spare set downstairs. But if this morning is any indication that I should cancel everything and stay home, please don't let my car start."

Vrrroooooom. Car starts right up. Okay. Good. Maybe it's over. Cruising down the highway, all of a sudden, everyone is coming to a complete stop. Not one that was gradual, but a sudden halt- the kind where you look up in your rearview mirror and see the cars behind you going to the shoulder and the spare lane in order not to take out your back end.

At this point, I just bowed my head and said,"Please Lord, just get me to work, protect me, and I promise I'll come straight home. And whatever it is that You need to say to me, You have my full attention."

I went to work, taught my class and on the way home, the SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN! Cars going everywhere! And it's only NOON!!!!!

I went straight home and spent two hours getting the coffee out of the stairs. My knees are sore, my legs are sore, and I'm starting to get a little bit crabby. But at least I won't have to listen to someone of the Y Chromosome factor go on and on about the new carpet and coffee stains. I go get the steam cleaner- the hand tool is broken.

That's it. There's no more talking nicely at this point. I opened up the cleaning jug on the carpet and just begin soaking down the stairs, all the while muttering insane jibberish to myself.

The good news is, it all came up. And I managed to make it through that evening unscathed. And even The Hub said," I'm so glad you didn't fall and that you are okay," BEFORE he investigated the stairs.

Next time, I'm calling it a day at the fridge.I'm just canceling everything and going back to bed. I'm through with this kind of Spring cleaning.

Yours, no longer taking my coffee upstairs in the morning,

Melissa

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Getting Ready for Easter


Earlier this week I sat down and thought about my week. It's a big week for us at the B House because we celebrate Easter. It has become an annual tradition to have it here because we have a larger backyard for all of the activities.

After attending church and celebrating, the entire family (all 20 of us) will have dinner here and then an egg hunt for the little ones, a scavenger hunt for the HS and College crowd and then a massive Silly String War for everyone- grandmas and grandpas included!

I am proud to say that almost all of shopping is complete and today is my cleaning day- instead of the usual wait until the day before and panic completely because I have VERY. Little. Done. My goal this year is to get as much enjoyment out of the family celebration as I can. The kids are growing up and I want to enjoy all of them- my nieces, nephews, my own little bears, even the neighbor kids who might come over.

We also celebrate all of the Spring Birthdays, so of course, in addition to a TON of Easter treats, there will be cake and ice cream. Love me some homemade cake! I did, however, want to share a recipe for a new treat coming to the table. In the spirit of the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, I give you:

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats

1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
6 oz. semi-sweet choc chips
6 oz. butterscotch chips

Grease a 9x13 baking pan. combine sugar and corn syrup (really, aren't they the same thing???) in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat-STIRRING CONSTANTLY.As soon as it boils, stir in the peanut butter and then the rice krispies. Press into the pan.

Melt the chips and spread over the top of the krispies in the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

No, Karen, this is not part of the Weight Watchers plan (which by the way, folks, KAREN LOOKS FABULOUS!!!!!!) But the part of the WW plan that you will love is this: after indulging a little bit in the treats, SEND THE REST HOME WITH YOUR GUESTS. That way, temptation is eliminated and you have had your fun for the day. Brilliant, I say. Simply brilliant.

Yours, hoping you enjoy your Easter Holiday,

Melissa

PS.- if anyone is looking for the Easter Story Cookie Recipe, I have it. This makes a divinity like cookie, but you make it with your kids and each step of the recipe relates back to Scripture and the Easter Story. You can e-mail me at melissa@karmelpublishing and I will be happy to pass it on to you. It's another one of our Easter Traditions that we love.