Apr
01

When single moms get sick

Posted by besttech

I sit at my desk this beautiful spring morning and can hear the rattling in my chest; it sounds like an old-fashioned percolated coffee pot just barely beginning to boil, and even I know this is not a good thing. I cannot go to the doctor, though, because I have been ill for a week now and have already made one unplanned visit to her. I am already taking antibiotics, and in fact missed four full days of work. To go back is not an option. Instead, I faithfully take the pills and drink Echinacea Tea and use my asthmatic son’s nebulizer. I drink water by the gallon, because there is no longer juice in the house — two of the kids were ill as well — and hope and pray that I will just simply get over this in time.

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Apr
01

At 6 months, adorable baby boy already is a ladies’ man

Posted by besttech

Not long after my little boy, Owen, was born six months ago, I discovered he had clout with women.

He’s a pint-size flirt when he wants to be — a genuine lady killer — and I sometimes worry whether he’s using this seemingly irresistible power for good or evil.

Looking back, I got my first inkling of his puzzling charm just minutes after he was born. But I was too dumb — and possibly dumbstruck — to recognize what I was seeing.

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Mar
31

Elyria Schools all-day kindergarten growing again

Posted by besttech

Lisa Roberson

The Chronicle-Telegram

ELYRIA – Elyria Schools’ full-day kindergarten program is once again growing.

What started out 11 years as just 11 classrooms at the district’s administrative building in what was christened Kindergarten Village will grow to 25 classrooms at six locations throughout the district next school year. Due to the success of the program, the district is adding full-day kindergarten at both Ely and McKinley elementary schools next year, said Mark Sutter, director of academic services.

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Mar
31

Healthy, safe (and yes, cheap) finger foods

Posted by besttech

My daughter has mastered the art of picking up pieces of food (or non-food) and stuffing them in her mouth in less than a second. Because of this, I’ve been reduced to eating salads in my bedroom closet to avoid her snatching my Craisins and tomatoes.

I’ve found that providing her with a tray full of finger foods gives her enough of a distraction to let me down at least a bite or two. But with only two bottom teeth, I worry about her choking and reading the nutritional information on the back of prepackaged “baby finger foods” does not inspire confidence.

So I’ve been on a mission to find the most nutritious, and safe, finger foods. Here’s the best list that I’ve come across, from Lilsugar.com.

1. Cheerios: What toddler bag would be complete without them?

2. Avocado: High in fiber, potassium and vitamin E — easy to gum.

3. Pancakes: Cut up, of course, with fruit mixed in the batter.

4. Beans: Cooked kidney beans are especially good for cutting teeth.

5. Pasta: I’ve found that whole-grain rotini noodles are a hit.

6. Tofu: If you’re saying “ick,” remember that this might be a great time to introduce your baby’s taste buds to this healthy alternative.

7. Sweet potato fries: Go easy on the salt.

8. Bananas: High in potassium, but beware — some mommies claim too many ‘nanas lead to constipation.

9. Seedless watermelon: Bright pink, sweet, delicious.

10. Carrots: Slightly overcooked and diced.

My bonus pick: Soft cereal bars, ripped into bite-size pieces. My daughter is a fan of Earth’s Best Organic cherry bars.

—By Katie Powalski, OrlandoSentinel.com/momsatwork

———

Mar
31

Dish out fun in the kitchen with cookbooks, recipes for kids

Posted by besttech

Open your own culinary school in the kitchen by exploring some of the recipes in these easy-to-follow cookbooks for kids. With these recipes, your family can learn new skills and travel the world — all for a few dollars.

“The Spatulatta Cookbook”

by Isabella and Olivia Gerasole

Scholastic, 2007

For ages: 8 and up

Given the James Beard Award for Excellence, this cookbook stars Liv and Belle — two grade-school-age girls who have taught kids to cook online. The book starts out discussing basic skills that chefs need for the kitchen. Moms and dads will be pleased that new chefs are reminded to wash their hands thoroughly before beginning. They’re also reminded of the importance of a well-set table. Other basics such as measuring ingredients and separating eggs are shown with bright photographs, allowing readers to understand how things should look. Tools used in the kitchen are also shown.

Recipes are divided into seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall; there’s an additional chapter focusing on vegetarian recipes and snacks. Some recipes have literary influences. For example, in winter we are encouraged to make a bowl of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and “Stone Soup.” In the spring chapter, the girls show readers how to make a bunny-shaped salad with a pear body and carrot ears. In summer, the girls show how to make a fresh blueberry pie and how to make weenie dogs out of hot dogs. Fall includes recipes of hearty meals such as black bean chili and harvest soup. All recipes have mouth-watering photographs of the food being prepared, inspiring little chefs of every age.

“Around the World Cookbook”

by Abigail Johnson Dodge

DK Publishing, 2008

For ages: 8 and up

This cookbook focuses on recipes from around the world. The Earth is divided into six chapters, and each begins with a colorful map labeling the region. All recipes are simple introductions to new tastes. For example, the India chapter offers a cauliflower and pea curry that is mildly seasoned with curry powder and coconut milk. Ingredients in this book should not be new to kids, but the preparations and flavors may showcase a new way for food to be prepared. Adults may also be interested in these recipes since the easy instructions offer healthy and family-friendly flavors; basic recipes for gazpacho, ratatouille and pavlova are all included. Other classics such as warm German potato salad and Swedish meatballs can be found here, too. Kids will enjoy the trip back home to the United States and Canada at the end of the book, where they can discover regional dishes such as jambalaya and Southern-style cornbread. Recipes are clearly organized for kids to prepare on their own. Lists of ingredients, equipment needed and directions are clearly labeled. An exclamation point icon is marked on each recipe that requires a hot, sharp or electric tool.

“Kids’ Kitchen”

by Amanda Grant

Sterling Publishing, 2007

For ages: 8 and up

This is another cookbook that offers new and unique flavors in the family kitchen. This book is divided into recipes that explore food from the sea, farm dairy, garden, mill and afar. The goal of the book is to teach children where different foods come from, and it does so by devoting a two-page spread as an introduction to each topic. For example, the dairy section discusses eggs at length. The book teaches readers the difference between barn eggs, free-range eggs and organic eggs and discusses how different commercial farms treat their hens. Following the introduction are recipes for an egg omelet, warm poached egg with bacon salad and an interesting egg and toast dish called boiled egg and soldiers.

All recipes offer helpful hints on food preparation techniques. Kids learn whisking in the chocolate mousse recipe how to use a candy thermometer when making vanilla fudge. Those with discriminating tastes might enjoy making the roasted mediterranean vegetables and parmesan and herb risotto. All kids will enjoy making Super Easy Pizzas, chunky oven fries and Quick Cheese Twisties. The design of this book is simple; photographs of children cooking the food accompany each recipe and easy-to-understand text allows for a bit of culinary education.

“Emeril’s There’s a Chef in My Soup! Recipes for the Kid in Everyone”

by Emeril Lagasse

HarperCollins, 2002

For ages: 8 and up

Emeril’s recipes follow meals over the course of the day, starting with breakfast dishes and ending with desserts. Breakfast dishes include easy morning meals, like French toast and Mile High Blueberry Muffins. Emeril encourages readers to kick scrambled eggs up a notch with his Baby Bam blend of seasonings (recipe included). Make a Happy Happy Club Sandwich for lunch and Some Real Good Chili or a side of Oh Yeah Baby Glazed Carrots for dinner. Recipes include cartoonlike drawings of dishes or special steps that need to be described in detail. With Emeril’s Cajun-style encouragement, meals are sure to be a blast.

An extra bonus of recipe cards includes great ideas for quick snacks; strawberry cream cheese pizzas and turkey cheese pinwheels are perfect for after school.

“Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook”

by Paula Deen

Simon & Schuster, 2008

Paula Deen has a new cookbook out for little ones. In this scrapbook-themed book, Deen also follows the day with breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. Extra sections feature special-occasion recipes for birthday dinners, holiday treats and drinks. Also included is a chapter of recipes for arts and crafts, which include directions for making clay, dough and giant bubbles. Each chapter has pictures of Deen’s family and brief captions describing the photos. Recipes are on a two-page spread: the first page illustrates what supplies and ingredients are needed, while the second page explains what to do. The collection of snack and lunch recipes is most appetizing with homemade peanut butter for apple dipping and applewiches — peanut butter and cheddar cheese sandwiched in between apple slices.

“Southern Living Kids Cookbook”

by Elizabeth Taliaferro

Oxmoor House, 2007

For ages: 8 and up

This colorful cookbook is fun, hip and full of interesting recipes everyone in the family will want to try. Breakfast recipes include strawberry French toastwiches and bacon cheese cups. Main courses have recipes for El Paso oven-fried chicken (chicken is breaded in crushed chili cheese corn chips) and Chicken Salad Scoops (a homemade scoop of chicken salad in a cake ice cream cone). Intriguing dessert offerings include apple enchiladas and redcoat trifle. Other chapters give ideas for bread, soup, fun food, side dishes and beverages, making this book a great inspiration for weekday dinners. Photographs of prepared food are displayed in funky serving pieces on decorated tables, making the dishes even more appealing. This book has an index of recipes and a cooking section that describes basic equipment and examples of different cutting techniques such as cutting crosswise and lengthwise or cutting by julienne or mincing.

–By Lisa Erickson, McClatchy Newspapers

Mar
31

Family meals matter: Celebrate spring

Posted by besttech

From MealsMatter.org

At Meals Matter, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb chop! Celebrate the arrival of spring with a family meal of Savory Lamb Chops, Parslied Potatoes, a Fresh Vegetable Salad and Strawberry Cornmeal Muffin Cakes.

Other recipes this week are guaranteed to put a spring in your step. Each recipe falls into our “Make Ahead” category. For instance, make a double batch of the kid-friendly Polynesian Chicken Tenders to enjoy for dinner this week and freeze the rest for dinner sometime later. Have a team meeting or a crowd to feed? Tomato Sauce with Ricotta and Herbs serves up to 24. The California Cheese Strata, Sunny Chicken Salad and Baked Orzo with Mushroom, Chives and Parmesan Cheese can be prepped one or two nights before you plan to serve them.

By using these recipes as a guide and planning even some of your families’ meals ahead of time you’re taking a simple step towards healthier eating. Planning ahead and having some “Make Ahead” options in the freezer helps you serve your family healthy, nutrient-rich foods even when you don’t have much time to cook.

——

SPRING MENU

Meal:

—Savory Lamb Chops

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/7021

—Parslied Potatoes

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/8216

—Fresh Vegetable Salad

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/47658

—Strawberry Cornmeal Muffin Cakes

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/12300

Make-Ahead Recipes:

—Entree: Polynesian Chicken Tenders

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/10112

—Entree: California Cheese Strata

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/35716

—Entree: Sunny Chicken Salad

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/35924

—Side: Tomato Sauce With Ricotta and Herbs

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/7189

—Side: Baked Orzo With Mushrooms, Chives and Parmesan Cheese

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/7953

———

SHOPPING LIST

6 cups Marinara sauce (Sauce and soup)

2 cups Cantaloupe, cubed (Produce)

¼ cup Fresh mint, finely chopped (Produce)

¼ cup Fresh parsley, finely chopped (Produce)

1 clove Garlic, finely chopped (Produce)

4 Lettuce leaves (Produce)

8 cups Chopped onions (Produce)

2 tablespoon Minced garlic (Produce)

9 quarts California tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (Produce)

6 tablespoon Chopped fresh marjoram (Produce)

4 tablespoon Chopped fresh rosemary (Produce)

1 cup Minced sweet onion (Produce)

5 Mushrooms, diced (Produce)

2 teaspoon Minced garlic (Produce)

¼ cup Snipped chives (Produce)

1.5 cup Chopped green pepper (Produce)

¾ cup Chopped carrots (Produce)

¼ cup Thinly sliced fresh basil, divided (Produce)

1 Ginger root, small (Produce)

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime (Produce)

1 ½ pounds Small new red potatoes (Produce)

1 Medium onion (Produce)

1 Garlic, bulb (Produce)

1 Bunch fresh parsley (Produce)

2 pint Baskets fresh California Strawberries (Produce)

3 Cucumbers (Produce)

1 Red onion (Produce)

3 One each green, red and yellow peppers (Produce)

2.5 pounds Chicken breasts or tenders (Poultry)

2 cups Cooked rice, cooled (Pasta and rice)

3 pounds Cooked fettuccine (Pasta and rice)

9 ounces Orzo (Pasta and rice)

9 Spinach lasagna noodles (Pasta and rice)

6 Loin or rib lamb chops (1 ½” thick) (Frozen food)

1.5 cup Liquid egg substitute (Eggs)

2 Eggs (Eggs)

2 cups (8 ounces) grated California Cheddar cheese (Dairy)

3.5 cups Nonfat milk (Dairy)

½ pound Plain nonfat yogurt (Dairy)

1 cup Whipping cream (Dairy)

1.25 cup Grated Parmesan cheese (Dairy)

1 tablespoon Butter or stick margarine (Dairy)

2 (15 ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese (Dairy)

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided (Dairy)

½ cup Butter (Dairy)

¾ teaspoon Dried sage, crushed (Condiments)

1.5 teaspoon Dried thyme, crushed (Condiments)

8 tablespoon Olive oil (Condiments)

2.5 tablespoon Salt (Condiments)

3.5 tablespoon Black pepper (Condiments)

4 cups Nonfat chicken broth reduced sodium (Condiments)

1.5 teaspoon Garlic powder (Condiments)

3t White wine vinegar (Condiments)

1.5 teaspoon Curry powder (Condiments)

¾ teaspoon Ground ginger (Condiments)

à teaspoon Grated whole nutmeg (Condiments)

Cooking spray (Condiments)

3 tablespoons Soy sauce (Condiments)

1 tablespoon Vegetable oil (Condiments)

½ cup Cider vinegar (Condiments)

1.5 cup Pineapple chunks in juice (Canned fruits & drinks)

12 slices White bread (Bread)

¾ cup Fresh bread crumbs (Baking needs)

1 ¾ cup Flour (Baking needs)

3t Brown sugar (Baking needs)

3 tablespoons Honey (Baking needs)

1 teaspoon Baking powder (Baking needs)

2 cups Powdered sugar (Baking needs)

½ cup Corn meal (Baking needs)

4 tablespoons Sugar (Baking needs)

———

SAVORY LAMB CHOPS

A succulent dish!

Ingredients

3 tablespoons Soy sauce

3 tablespoons Honey

1 tablespoon Minced, peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon Minced garlic

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime

6 Loin or rib lamb chops (1 ½-inch thick)

Preparation

1. To prepare the marinade, combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Add the lamb chops and toss them to coat well in the marinade. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat the broiler.

4. Broil the chops 3 inches from the heat source for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare meat. Cook longer for well-done meat.

Source: Shelia Watkins

———

PARSLIED POTATOES

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds Small new red potatoes, scrubbed

1 tablespoon Vegetable oil

1 Medium onion, chopped

1 Small clove garlic, crushed

1 cup Chicken broth (reduced sodium)

1 cup Chopped fresh parsley, divided

½ teaspoon Pepper

Preparation

1. Peel a strip of skin from around the middle of each potato; place potatoes in cold water. Set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add oil. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until tender. Add broth and ¾ cup parsley; mix well. Bring to a boil.

3. Place potatoes in a single layer in skillet. Return to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

4. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to serving bowl. Add pepper to skillet; stir. Pour sauce over potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Cook’s Notes: Variation: Replace the fresh parsley with basil leaves and add ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes for an Italian twist.

Source: Easy Everyday Cooking

———

FRESH VEGETABLE SALAD

Ingredients

3 cups Thinly sliced cucumbers

¾ cup Chopped red onion

½ cup Each chopped green sweet red and yellow peppers

½ cup Cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Sugar

Preparation

In a large serving bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and peppers. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar and sugar. Pour over vegetables; toss to coat.

Chill until serving. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Source: Simple & Delicious

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STRAWBERRY CORNMEAL MUFFIN CAKES

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups Flour

1 teaspoon Baking powder

Generous pinch of salt

½ cup Butter softened

2 cups Powdered sugar

2 Eggs

½ cup Milk

½ cup Corn meal

1 cup Whipping cream

1 teaspoon Sugar

2 pint Baskets (1 pound) fresh California Strawberries, stemmed and halved

Preparation

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour 12 muffin cups or 6 (6 ounce) custard cups.

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a mixer bowl cream butter. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, scraping bowl as needed, until mixture is fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in dry ingredients and milk alternately, to blend thoroughly. Blend in corn meal.

Spoon batter into prepared cups.

Bake in 350 degree oven about 30 minutes until springy to the touch and pick inserted into center comes out clean; cool 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Beat cream and sugar to form soft peaks. Serve muffins topped with cream and strawberries. Arrange in serving bowl; spoon into individual dishes.

Yield: 12 medium or 6 large desserts.

Source: California Strawberry Commission

———

POLYNESIAN CHICKEN TENDERS

Kids will love these chicken treats! Cook ahead for added convenience.

Ingredients

½ cup Flour

1 ½ teaspoon Garlic powder

1 ½ pounds Low fat chicken tenders

½ cup Egg substitute

3 tablespoons White wine vinegar

3 tablespoons Brown sugar

1 ½ cup Nonfat chicken broth

1 ½ cup Pineapple chunks in juice, drained

1 ½ cup Chopped green pepper

¾ cup Chopped carrots

1 ½ teaspoon Curry powder

¾ teaspoon Ground ginger

Preparation

Spray large nonstick skillet with Pam and heat over medium high heat. Combine flour and ½ teaspoon garlic on paper plate and mix well. Dip chicken tenders in egg and roll in flour mix. Brown chicken pieces in skillet 5-8 minutes until cooked through. Remove from skillet and drain well. allow skillet to cool slightly and re-spray with Pam. Return skillet to heat and add vinegar, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic, chicken broth, pineapple, pepper, carrots, curry powder, and ginger. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture becomes thick. Stir in cooked chicken. serve over rice. chicken mix can be cooked and cooled to room temperature. Freeze in plastic freezer bags. To reheat, microwave directly from freezer 1-3 minutes per serving.

Source: “Cook Once, Eat for a Week,” Weight Watchers

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CALIFORNIA CHEESE STRATA

You can make this great dish ahead of time…even the night before.

Ingredients

12 slices White bread, crusts removed and cut into halves

2 cups (8 ounces) grated California Cheddar cheese

3 cups Nonfat milk

1 cup Liquid egg substitute

¼ teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon Salt

¾ teaspoon Dried sage, crushed

1-½ teaspoon Dried thyme, crushed

Preparation

Spray a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with a nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Line the dish with half of the bread slices, overlapping to make them fit. Top with half of the grated cheese. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pour half of the liquid mixture over the bread and cheese in the dish. Continue layering and cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before baking. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before baking.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the strata in the preheated oven and bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to stand for five minutes before cutting.

Source: California Milk Advisory Board

———

SUNNY CHICKEN SALAD

Ingredients

2 cups Cooked rice, cooled

2 cups Cantaloupe, cubed

1-½ cups Cooked chicken breast, cubed

¼ cup Fresh mint, finely chopped

¼ cup Fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 clove Garlic, finely chopped

½ pound Plain nonfat yogurt

4 Lettuce leaves

Preparation

Mix together first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Combine next 4 ingredients in another bowl. Gently stir yogurt mixture into rice mixture until well combined. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, until chilled. Serve lettuce on individual plates topped with chicken salad.

Source: www.mealsforyou.com

———

TOMATO SAUCE WITH RICOTTA AND HERBS

A great pasta dinner to serve to family and friends. Make sauce ahead so you have time to enjoy company.

Ingredients

8 cups Chopped onions

2 tablespoon Minced gralic

6 tablespoon Olive oil

9 quarts California tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced

6 tablespoon Chopped fresh marjoram

4 tablespoon Chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon Salt

2 tablespoon Black pepper

3 pounds Cooked fettuccine

1 ½ cups Ricotta cheese

Preparation

Saute onions and garlic in oil in a large skillet over medium heat until softened. Stir in remaining ingredients except ricotta and fettuccine. Cook over medium-high heat stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Serve with cooked fettuccine and top each serving with 1 ounce (1 tablespoon) ricotta cheese.

Cook’s Notes: This recipe feeds approximately 24.

Source: California Tomato Commission

———

BAKED ORZO WITH MUSHROOMS, CHIVES, AND PARMESAN CHEESE

Warm and comforting side dish, perfect accompaniment to beef tenderloin and a simple salad of mixed greens.

Ingredients

2 tablespoon Olive oil

1 cup Minced sweet onion

5 Mushrooms, diced

2 teaspoon Minced garlic

¼ cup Snipped chives

9 ounces Orzo, cooked al dente, according to package directions, drained

2/3 cup Grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/3 cups Low-salt chicken broth

¼ teaspoon Coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper

¾ cup Fresh bread crumbs tossed with 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter, for topping

Preparation

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-cup capacity, 8-inch square, 4 inch deep, casserole or souffle dish; set aside. Place oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the onion and the mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add the chives, orzo, cheese, broth, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle the crumbs over top. (This can be prepared to this point several hours ahead and kept at room temperature.) Bake, uncovered, until the crumbs are browned, about 45 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Source: Contributed by sbogert to www.mealsmatter.org, based on LA Times recipe

———

Family Meals Matter features recipes selected by registered dietitians from the thousands of user-contributed recipes available at the free online nutrition and meal planning Web site Meals Matter http://www.mealsmatter.org , sponsored by Dairy Council of California.

———

For more healthy meal planning made simple, go to www.mealsmatter.org

———

(c) 2009, (Dairy) Council of California, MealsMatter.org.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Mar
31

How to bug your kids to death

Posted by besttech

Recently, our school librarian gave my son a copy of the book, “101 Ways to Bug Your Parents.” It was an old copy and she told him he could keep it.

This was really annoying to a parent whose children were already naturally talented in this regard. I was tempted to take that book over to the librarian’s house, and give it to her kids.

This volume has all sorts of fabulous ideas like, “Ask for a big breakfast and then say you’re not hungry.” Or, “Use all the hot water in the shower.” It’s not like children need lessons on this stuff. They do just fine with no instruction at all.

But, occasionally, when my rugrats have been particularly aggravating, I want to exact my own revenge. That’s why I have my own list of things I can do, such as:

DANCING: My kids go into a frenzy of mortification if they see me shake any part of my body to music. It’s even worse, of course, if I dance in public, like at a wedding, but even waltzing around the house sends them into a medical state of shock.

SINGING THE WRONG WORDS TO SONGS: Kids absolutely hate it if you make up your own words to songs they know by heart. The other night, we were watching “The “Brady Bunch” and I started singing the Brady song along with the characters, but doing it wrong on purpose. My son was so upset he almost had to go to bed.

STOP TALKING SUDDENLY WHEN THEY COME INTO THE ROOM: They will think you’re hiding something and it will simply drive them mad, even if you know all you were really talking about was the hairballs spit up by your cat.

PUTTING MY ARM AROUND THEM IN PUBLIC: This is mostly a problem of Cheetah Boy’s, but even Curly Girl at age 10 is starting to act like my arm is a heat-seeking missile if it lands anywhere on her body in public.

HAVING YOUR OWN TANTRUM: Sometimes, Cheetah Boy would sit down on the floor and start screaming when he didn’t want to do a chore. When I was in the mood, I would sit down next to him and start screaming too. This never failed to infuriate him, and amuse me. Sometimes, he would get so mad he would forget what he was yelling about.

COLORING MY HAIR: Before I had kids, I was under the mistaken impression that my hair belonged to me. Now, every time I want to change the color even slightly, my children feel it’s a personal attack on their emotional stability.

GOING BACK TO BED: When my kids are arguing with each other or refusing to follow my instructions, sometimes I just get fed up, go into my bedroom, and silently crawl into bed. It feels delicious, by the way, for the brief time I’m allowed to be in there before the kids are on my bed, begging me to get up and promising to behave better.

REFUSING TO GET OFF THE PHONE: My children have no interest in me whatsoever until someone calls, which is their signal to ask me every question they forgot to ask all day long. Occasionally, though, I will simply refuse to answer them, and they will finally give up and let me talk.

—By Marla Jo Fisher, The Orange County Register

——

Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at mfisher@ocregister.com. Read her blog at http://themomblog.freedomblogging.com/category/frumpy-middleaged-mom-ma rla-jo-fisher/.

Mar
30

Two Mass. men catch toddler after 40-foot fall

Posted by besttech

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — Two Massachusetts men are being hailed as heroes by police for catching a toddler who fell 40 feet from a home’s third-story window.

Robert Lemire tells the Eagle-Tribune that he was talking on his cell phone Sunday evening outside a pizza shop in Lawrence, about 25 miles north of Boston, when he saw the toddler dangling from a window across the street.

The 45-year-old father of two bolted across a busy street, where he met 23-year-old Alex Day, who had been inside the home at a Bible study meeting. Together, they caught the 18-month-old before she hit the ground.

The child’s father was caring for a newborn at the time.

Police Chief John Romero says “these guys are heroes, no question about it.”

Mar
30

From a sadness, gifts to others

Posted by besttech

Heather Wheeler knows the loneliness and devastation too well. With the stillbirth of her second son, Grant Kelton Wheeler, on Feb. 4, 2007, she entered a sorority no one would choose, a motherhood united in loss.

Now she wants to help other families whose babies have died before, during or just after birth.

“I wanted to make something good out of something bad,” says Wheeler, 34. “I remember saying that to one of my nurses. He will not be forgotten. But you have a tremendous amount of grief to get through first.

“I came home, and I longed for that blanket he’d been wrapped in. I cried myself to sleep at night longing for something he’d touched. It was a huge regret that I hadn’t asked for it.”

With Grant’s Gift, Wheeler and her husband, Kevin, 36, a school psychologist, have donated almost 300 baby blankets to hospitals in California and Oregon so that stillborn babies can be cradled in them. The Wheelers intend the blankets as keepsakes for grieving parents.

A VIRAL INFECTION

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 115 American pregnancies ends in stillbirth — defined as naturally occurring fetal death after 20 weeks’ gestation.

The Wheelers, who live in Rocklin, Calif., have two other sons — 5-year-old Gavin and baby Graden, who was born in June.

“My second pregnancy, up until the point he died, was perfect,” says Wheeler, a communications specialist for Adventist Health.

When she was 25 weeks along, Grant stopped moving. At Sutter Roseville Medical Center, doctors discovered he’d contracted a viral infection, with no hope for survival. He died hours later and was delivered the next day.

“Sometimes, the husbands are overlooked,” says Wheeler, “but my husband has been profoundly affected. He was there. He gave our child his first and last bath. This affects the whole family.”

She put together a Web site in Grant’s memory — www.grantsgift.org — and in December began asking her co-workers and family members to help her collect nice, new receiving blankets to donate, expecting only a handful. Soon, anonymous donations were arriving in the mail, too, including a boxful of blankets someone sent from Maine.

We don’t much like to talk about stillbirth, it seems, but when people have been touched by it, they understand what it means to help other people going through the same thing.

‘SUCH A SPECIAL THING’

In early February, just in time for Grant’s birthday, Wheeler distributed the washed and neatly packaged Grant’s Gift blankets to eight hospitals in the Adventist Health chain, as well as Sutter Roseville.

“We haven’t had to give them out yet, thankfully,” says Debbie Shoro, a labor and delivery nurse at Sutter Roseville. “But these blankets are such a special thing.

“It’s always heartbreaking when someone loses a baby. It comes on so unexpectedly. Parents had hopes and dreams for their baby. Having something soft and special like this blanket is such a human thing, a mommy thing.”

For Heather Wheeler, the blankets are a way of finding purpose in the loss of her son.

“I wish my son was here,” she says. “I wish that every day, but he’s made me a better person.

“All your kids teach you something. I’ve probably learned the most from the son I don’t get to spend this life with.

“I want to wrap my arms around people in the same situation, because I know how hard it is. There are no words.”

—By Anita Creamer, McClatchy Newspapers

Mar
30

Dear Babs: Can my son keep us his college GPA?

Posted by besttech

My son is going to University of Kentucky in the fall and I am worried that he will become distracted by his newfound freedom. He’s had some trouble in the past focusing when there are social distractions. I don’t expect him to live like a monk, but if I’m footing the bill, I don’t want him to squander his education on parties. Maybe I’m overreacting, but do you have motivational advice, for both me and for him?

— Meddling Mommy

———

Dear Meddling,

Freshman year of college can be an exciting and challenging time for a teen. They are thrust into a totally new environment, forced to make friends from scratch, and expected to study to boot. You are not wrong to be worried — many students “slip” their first semester, as they do not yet have the knack for balancing school with friends. Sometimes, it seems like the only way to meet new people is to shirk work and go out and party.

If your son has had a history of this mindset in the past, then by all means, don’t wait until first-semester grades come in to explain the meaning of “higher education” to him. Let him know you’re proud he got his college acceptance and happy to pay for school — but he has to work for it. If he cannot buckle down and study, you are not responsible for paying for four years of partying. One of the hardest lessons any parent can learn is when to cut the purse strings. Instead of starting with negative reinforcement, i.e. “If you don’t get all B’s, I won’t pay for …” why not try positive reinforcement? Promise him some extra spending money if he keeps up the good grades. Maybe his reward will be to go on the freshman ski trip, spring break holiday or just pocket money. That way, he won’t be losing out on necessary funds (like tuition or book fees) but he will have a clear incentive to keep up the GPA.

A new Web site, GradeFund (http://www.gradefund.com/), enables donors (in this case, you) to sponsor a student (your son) to reward them for grades earned. For each high grade he receives, you can promise a certain dollar amount. He must submit his transcript to the Web site in order to make sure his grades are correct. This way, there are no “ifs, ands or buts” if his grades don’t meet expectations. If he earns the grades, he’s earned your support. Period.

—From CampusCompare.com

Got a question for Babs? E-mail her at dearbabs@campuscompare.com, or log on to read more at http://www.campuscompare.com/parents.