Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ebbs and Flows

A solid four years in to this working mom venture, I've learned that there is a cycle where work demands more of your time, and times when "home" demands more. Right now, work is winning out hands down!

I will refrain from complaining. Its a very good thing that my Firm is so busy right now. A lot of law firms (most of the big ones) have been laying off green-behind-the-ears associates like myself. Many of my friends from law school have fallen victim to the economy. So, yes, its a good thing.

Unfortunately, when work picks up the pace, most of my "extras" such as reading, cleaning my house (ha!), and yes, even blogging, get pushed to the wayside. But that is ok. Because I know its cyclical. Soon enough, the equilibrium will readjust to center again. That is, if the trial we have scheduled for August either settles or get postponed (please pray! trials are hell!!).

How is business for everyone else? Seems like things are picking up a little bit all around!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Under Wraps

Here are some great wrap recipes for you to try!

Turkey Melt

Preheat oven to 350*.
Lay out however many tortillas you need on plates.
Sprinkle a handful of shredded cheese (mild cheddar, colby jack, or mexican blend work best - you can get these all cheap in large bags at Costco!).
Layer a few slices of turkey (or ham).
Pop in oven until cheese is melted.
Toss on a handful of salad mix (again, super cheap at Costco).
Roll up, cut in half!
Serve with a side of honey mustard or ranch dressing for dipping.

French Dip

Using either a tortilla or a pita wrap, spread a very thin layer of horseradish spread (omit for kids) or mayo.
Layer a few slices of roast beef.
On top of that, place two slices of provolone.
A few onion slices on top of that is optional.
Bake until cheese is melted.
Roll up, cut in half.
Serve with french onion soup for dipping.

Southwest Wrap

Place a few pieces of pre-cooked, sliced chicken (either homemade or you can buy packaged).
Sprinkle on mexican blend cheese generously.
Heat in oven until cheese melts.
Add salsa, sour cream and lettuce.
Roll up and cut in half!

Club Wrap

Spread a little mayo on tortilla.
Layer some turkey.
Sprinkle shredded cheese or swiss slices if you prefer.
On top of that, layer some ham.
Sprinkle some bacon bits (to make homemade, next time you make bacon, chop up leftovers and store in freezer in sandwich bags!)
Heat until cheese is melted.
Sprinkle on some diced tomatoes and salad mix.
Roll up, cut in half and wah lah!!

Wraps are quick and easy lunches for busy weekends! I keep a pack of tortillas handy at all times. We save a lot of money not eating out on the weekends this way.

Friday, June 26, 2009

No Tears to Shed

I, like most of the world, was shocked yesterday to hear of the untimely death of the legendary Michael Jackson. What was even more shocking to me, however, is the reaction to his death.

Yes, he was a musical genius.

Yes, he broke down race barriers.

Yes, he defined pop music for my generation.

But, he also had inappropriate relationships with young boys. (Yeah, I know he settled, but come on...). He has exhibited beyond eccentric behavior in the past 10 years that seriously calls into question his mental stability. He was flat broke.
Sure, he was about to come out with a come back album. But let's be honest - when is such an endeavor ever a success? Nine times out of ten, its a big flop. Michael Jackson, the musical icon, has been dead for a long time people. He was never "coming back." That era was long over.

I agree, its rather shocking to hear of anyone dropping dead so suddenly at the young age of 50. I agree, its sad for his family (as poisonous and dysfunctional as they were) and his children. But do we really need to cry? Do we really have to feel as if it was a personal loss?

One of my "friends" on Facebook posted yesterday that this was the most significant death of our (70s and 80s kids) generation. Seriously?

I guess what I'm trying to say is - have we all forgotten what a nutcase he was all of a sudden? Has all that been wiped clean? What is with this idol worship? Can't we just simply say "how sad" listen to Thriller and Billy Jean a few times in tribute, and move on?

But, I've never been a big celebrity-worshipper anyway, so perhaps I just can't understand.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No Pit Please!!

I just read a fascinating article regarding the use of Pitocin in labor and the correlation with emergency cesarean sections! Pitocin is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which is administered to either induce labor or to augment labor if the physician feels that the contracts aren't strong or organized enough.

A hospital in Chicago did a 3-year study where in they implemented a policy to infuse the Pitocin at a much slower rate (1 by 1 every 30 minutes v. 2 by 2 every 20 minutes, as done previously), and also decreased the use of Pitocin from 93.3% of laboring patients to 78.9% of patients. As a result, they saw the incidence of emergency cesarean delivery drop from 10.9% to 5.7%!!! There was also a significant decline in the number of vacuum and forcep deliveries, and a sharp reduction in neonatal ICU team mobilization for signs of fetal distres, as well! Oddly, the overall cesarean birth rate remained the same.

Hard to argue with the results! If you need Pitocin, ask your doctor about infusing at a slower rate!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Shortcut

I'm a dirty girl. I never remember to wash my face before bed! I can't even tell you why, but for some reason, I can't bring myself to do it. I do, however, brush my teeth, so go figure.

I learned once during a Mary Kay facial that for every night you do not remove your makeup before sleeping, your skin ages the equivalent of 6 days. Eeeek!! Seeing that I've already acquired a nice collection of wrinkles at the ripe old age of 28, that's not great news for me!!! (Although, I doubt the veracity of this tenant, as I haven't washed my face before bed consistently in years, so my skin should have aged about 18 years in the last 3...I'm not that wrinkly!)

Well, these Daily Facial cleansing cloths have turned out to be the perfect solution for a lazy bum like myself! I simply grab one after I finish brushing my teeth, and wipe away the day as I sit in bed and read. They have a moisturizer and make up remover in them, so its a one-step deal. Toss in the trash (don't even have to get out of bed!) and my skin is much happier :) I must say that I have noticed a difference in my skin since I've started doing this a few weeks ago. And its a habit I've been able to sustain! These particular facial wipes can be found at Costco for approximately $11 for 150 wipes, which should last about 5 months. Not a bad price to pay for healthier skin!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Buying Time

The only thing all human beings are given in equal measure is time.
- Anthony Robbins

We all have the same 24 hours in the day. What matters is what you do with it. It doesn't matter if you are rich, poor, smart, or not, you can't get anymore than 24 hours. (Man, we could make it big if we could figure out how to!).

It doesn't matter whether you work out of the home, in the home, or stay at home with your kids. Life is BUSY. We find ways to fill every free second. There never seems to be enough time to get it all done. As a working mom, I think the challenge is even greater, as we have to account to someone else for at least 1/3 of our day. Work and life can consume you to the point where you cannot seem to find time for anything else.

I don't know about you - but that just isn't "enough" for me. I love practicing law, but its only a part of my life. So, I try desperately to find ways to squeeze in time for other things I enjoy (and need!). For example, I get up at 5:30 a.m. to work out. I listen to books on cd in the car while I commute, and make my personal phone calls (and sometimes professional calls too) while commuting. Most nights, I have to work for several hours after my boys are in bed for the night (the evil of billable hours). So, even though I rarely hit the sheets prior to 11 p.m., I always make some time to read for pleasure, even if it is only 10 minutes (a necessity to clear my mind, or I dream about work and wake up panicked!). When you work 10-12 hours a day, you have to get creative!! Especially with two precious boys, who I refuse to sacrifice a single minute with unecessarily!

The weekends aren't too much better either, since I often have "catch up" to do for work, housework, laundry, and errands. Of course, we try to do lots of fun things with our boys and our friends and families too.

So long as I can manage to keep the routines in place, we seem to manage pretty well. Of course, sometimes more focus has to be on work and at other times, more attention on home/fun. But I try my hardest to keep homeostasis, so to speak. Its a constant work in progress, and to be honest, its exhausting. But that is the price you pay for living an otherwise "fulfilling" life, huh?

What are your tips for squeezing extra time out of the day????

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What a weekend!

Operative Word: BUSY!!!

We had a rich and full weekend. Too bad the only "productive" thing I accomplished all weekend was the laundry! We may not eat this week, but we'll have clean clothes!!!

Saturday morning, we took a scenic drive up to Poolesville, Maryland to the Homestead Farm with the best of intentions to go cherry picking with several of my husband's siblings and our niece and nephew. It was a tad overcast on our way up, but we weren't too worried. Until we started strolling down to the orchard that is, and were pelted by rain droplets! So, we headed back up to the store to see what would transpire. With impeccable timing, the heavens parted and buckets of rain began to downpour within a minute of our reaching shelter! Carter decided to take a rain shower, but the rest of us stayed warm and dry until the skies cleared again. We decided to just buy cherries (and some peaches) and go home, but the kids really wanted to pick something. So, we had the great idea to pick strawberries. Fabulous idea, except the fact that the strawberry fields were nearly completely under water at this point, and the trails to get to them were (in the words of the infamous Dora the Explorer) "muddy mudpits."

Bennett's first farm visit!

Carter's umpteenth farm visit!

Saturday evening, we went to the first birthday party of a little girl we met while Bennett was in the NICU. Her mum is a lawyer like me, so we hit it off from the start. Her water broke at about 29 weeks and she delivered a little before 33 weeks. Her little girl stayed in the NICU for 7 weeks due to her habit of having bradycardias secondary to reflux. Not fun!!! It was a beautiful party and we saw several of our other NICU friends there too! Needless to say, after this fun-filled day, the kids were conked out early!

Today, we drove to Charles Town, WV, to attend the baby dedication of my best friend Melissa's son Elijah. It was a beautiful ceremony! They had a fun party afterward to celebrate.

From L to R: Bennett, Ace, Carter, Elijah, Melissa, Chantelle

Mommy and squirmy Bennett

Then we headed to my in-laws' house to celebrate Father's Day!

YAWN! I'm sleeeeeepy! Fortunately, (and unfortunately) this week is going to be a busssssy one as well!! I guess I ought to sign off and try for a few hours of shut eye! Goodnight!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My New 'Do and a Book Review

I couldn't help myself with the rhyme! I didn't realize how loooooong my hair was! I got 8 inches taken off!!! I asked for light golden brown highlights, but it turned out darker than I had hoped. Oh well! I got long "whispy" side bangs and some long layers and shaping around my face.

Here's Bennett helping me show off the new hair. It was humid today, so some frizz despite.

This morning, I finished reading American Wife. I'm kind of mixed on it. The book is a fictional story about the life from girlhood to the present of a First Lady. It was a great story, BUT... the characters and plot were loosely (in some parts verrry loosely) based off of George and Laura Bush. Once we got to the present-day part of the story, it got a little "cheesy" - too close to the Bush Presidency. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it!

Now, I'm starting on Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts, which is non-fiction.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Momma Needs a New 'Do!

Perhaps I should be embarassed to admit that I haven't been to the salon to have my hair done in about ....oh....a year? Yep, about a year - a few weeks after I had Bennett! Now, I've been enjoying the long hair. But, its just getting outta control. As you can see, I have crazy curly locks. Add the humidity of summer, and well....you know.

I have a hair appointment TONIGHT!!!!

So, give me your opinion! What should I do? How many inches should I get taken off? Post some links to styles you think I could rock (ha!). I also plan on getting some light brown highlights done.

Its about 2 inches longer than this when straightened. However, it takes about an hour to straighten this mess at this length, and then it curls right back up again anyway!

Help a girl out!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Better Mac-N-Cheese

What kid doesn't love mac-n-cheese? Mine love it! Plus, its a quick and easy meal for hectic nights or for lunches. However, I cringe opening that packet of dehydrated processed cheese powder. I cannot imagine that it can be that good for them!
So, I've come up with a healther alternative that they still love, and is just as easy to prepare! I use the Barilla Plus Macaroni noodles. These noodles are a complex carb, made with whole grains (which also means extra fiber!). They have Omega-3 fatty acids and protein added in, to give it an extra health punch! It makes me feel good knowing I'm not just giving them empty cheesy calories!
After you drain the noodles, add 1/2 cup of low-fat milk, 1 tbsp of butter or margarine, and 1 cup of shredded mild cheddar and heat until the cheese is melted. Add the noodles back in to coat with the cheese sauce and serve. Wah lah!!! Healthy mac-n-cheese they love and your mommy-conscience can feel good about!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wooden Ears

Carter is four. To anyone who knows any four year olds, that statement says quite a lot! I absolutely love this age, but with it comes new challenges. Right now, the biggest challenge is his newfound selective hearing abilities.

Carter, do you want some ice cream? Yes!!! Gimme gimme gimme!

Carter, can you please pick up the cereal you spilled on the floor? (chirp, chirp) Carter....did you hear me? (silence) Carter??? CARTER??? PICK UP THE CEREAL!! (defeaning silence) IF YOU DON'T PICK UP THAT CEREAL BY THE TIME I COUNT TO THREE, YOU WILL BE IN BIG TROUBLE MISTER!!! (and perhaps maybe now he complies...)

I don't like to yell. Nor do I enjoy repeating myself umpteen times. Of course he hears me, he just thinks that if he ignores me, then he doesn't have to comply with my requests.

Not cool, kiddo!

This weekend, I'd had enough (see a recurring theme??). I implemented a new Wooden Ears Policy. After I ask him once to do something (or cease and desist), I will give him one "free" reminder. If I have to ask a third time, then he loses a privilege (television, computer, playroom, bedtime snack, bedtime story, etc.). If he loses more than two privileges in a day, then he goes to bed early and forfits all of his "Chore Chart" stars for the day. I mean business!!!

So far, so good....I'm really hoping that eventually we can get to a point where he does what I ask the first time he's told. Alas, he is a male, so I won't set my expectations too too high ;)

Monday, June 15, 2009

(Don't) Picture This

It was a beautiful weekend. The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze, but it wasn't nearly as hot or muggy as it has been here on the East Coast of late. My sweet darling one year old decided both Saturday and Sunday that it would be lovely to rise early to enjoy the brillance of the morning. (Translation: Bennett woke me up at the butt crack of dawn). I spend Saturday diligently cleaning and organizing and laundering. We take a brief break in the afternoon to go buy a fun kiddie pool for the boys and get some dinner. We put the kids to bed and I return to my endless piles of laundry to fold. I read my book (which is turning out to be very good, by the way -->) for a while, watch a movie with Ace (Marley and Me), and crawl into bed at 1:30 a.m. Smart, Elle.

Sunday, again up with the rooster (aka Bennitto), I return to the usual tasks of cleaning house and corralling children. We have to leave for church at 11:30, so at 10:30, I wake Ace up (must be nice, huh?) and ask him to watch the kids, make the bed and make sure Carter gets dressed while I shower and dress. I come out of the shower to the sound of children crying in my bedroom. Carter and Bennett were there alone, and Bennett just got a head bump and was wailing. I scoop Bennett up to console him and yell for Ace.

Ace informs me that he just cannot take it (the screaming) anymore and he's going to take a shower. Bennett decides he wants to nurse (I am, afterall, topless) and just latches on to me without warning. Nice. My hair is sopping wet, I have a kid hanging off my chest, and Carter is bouncing off the walls. Meanwhile, Ace proceeds to shower and dress, and I'm STILL NAKED. Because a girl can't get 20 minutes of peace I 'spose. I snap. Hell hath no fury like an overly-stressed woman. I'm SCREAMING at Ace - "You never help me around the house," "You have no regard for our routines," yada, yada, yada, only slightly exaggerating or over-generalizing. All the while...still naked (please, don't picture it, it ain't pretty).

I look back at how comical it was at the time, but an important realization was reached by both of us yesterday morning ... The stress of work (which, by the way, I got an email from my boss this morning saying to prepare myself, we're about to get even busier...), the stress of my futile attempts to keep my house clean and orderly, and the severe lack of free time to enjoy my children or (gasp!) some time to myself - well, lets just say I've had enough. Now, don't beat up Ace (because he reads this) - he does contribute, its just not enough and his standards aren't quite as high as mine. But if want to save our sanity (and our marriage, apparently, lol), something has GOT to give.

So...we decided to hire back our cleaning service. They come twice a month and do all the deep cleaning. We'll still have the basic every day stuff (which is more than enough, believe you me) to do, but this will at least ensure that twice a month, my house is clean, and I don't have to do it! Maybe now I can get to some of the other projects (like writing thank you notes for Bennett's birthday...) that get strewn to the wayside. Screw being frugal - I'd rather be sane!!

So, don't picture me naked and screaming with a kid hanging off my chest...but do picture my house clean and tidy and me calm and relaxed :) That's the hope at least!!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009


Let me hear that collective sigh! Its Friday night people!! No better way to enjoy the end of a well-worked week than with a nice glass of wine! It smooths the edges and softens you up!

Tonight, I'm getting a head start on laundry and housecleaning so that (hopefully) I can spend the rest of the weekend kicking back and relaxing with my boys! (A girl can dream, right???)

Today, I attended my Firm's annual Summer Outing at a crab shack just outside of Annapolis, Maryland. I had a great time kicking back with my co-workers and relaxing and just being ME - not lawyer-Elle, just Elle! I guess it sort of made me realize that I spend way too much of my time in the office on edge and afraid to be myself. And I've worked here over 4 years people! Once you peel back the layers of these hardened and ruthless litigators, there are just normal people underneath, lol! Needless to say, it felt really good :) I guess I'm just too afraid sometimes of coming across as "soft" or a pushover. I'm going to have to make it a point not to be so jittery at work from now on! Anyone else like this?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 by Ace

I saw this movie tonight with high hopes and high expectations, but there was something else I witnessed that caught me completely off-guard...

Here's the quick synopsis of the movie:

A gang of armed thugs hopped on a train to take its passengers hostage. The main character development plot is between the leader thug Ryder (John Travolta) and transit traffic controller, Garber (Denzel Washington). It's a high-budget terror movie, designed to arouse the Die Hard fans out there. I would hate to be the one to ruin the movie for you, so more info can be found here: http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1810003158/info

In my opinion, the movie deserves a 3.5 out of 5.0 stars.

Here's what I liked:
  • Character development is pretty solid. The characters are authentic.
  • The action sequences are visually smooth. Unlike movies made from the 70s, bullets hitting solid objects looked authentic.
  • The Stock Market-related details were accurate, except for the part where the Dow and other major averages dropped over 7% in one session from a terrorist threat. In real life, trading on all exchanges would have been halted. Trading resumes after all threats are eliminated, that's when a gap down of over 7% can occur - only after the market reopens, not while the terrorism is in progress.

Here's what I disliked:

  • Excessive use of profanity. I can understand it's for realism, but there were KIDS in the audience! By kids, I mean kids 10 and under. Why were there kids at a rated-R movie? (See below).
  • It's a straight movie, meaning, no twisted plot, no role reversals, no backward endings or hidden endings. Nothing that would cause a Ph.D or J.D to think.
  • It's overly simple and too many annoying characters.
The future of our children's moral functions remain in the guidance of their parents!

I was appalled (for a lack of a stronger word) by the amount of children under the age of 10 who came to see this movie tonight! I hate making generalizations, but from my observations, all of the kids I saw come from low income households. I even saw a baby nursing in the movie theater!

Come on people!

Don't you think about consequences? Stop the spending on campaigns against drugs, guns, and drunk driving and arrest these "parents" who subject their young ones to disturbingly violent movies this late at night. You'll be doing society a great service for generations to come, trust me! How appalling!

By the way, it's really sad that the people who will read this rant are already privileged while those who need to realize this message could barely afford the electricity in their homes, let alone a computer with internet access.

Hell on Earth, it's what I witnessed tonight. And quite frankly, it was more entertaining than the movie...

H2O Tip

I can't believe I just took a picture of my water bottle. Redefining still life art...

Anyway, I wanted to share a tip with you that I recently came up with to help me make sure I drink my allotment of water. I try to drink upwards of 100 oz since I'm breastfeeding.

I carry around a 20 oz Rubbermaid water bottle. In the morning, I put 5 hair bands (you could use rubberbands too) on it and take one off every time I finish off the bottle and refill it. When there are no bands left, I've hit my 100!

I know, I know... that's pretty elementary. I won't be copyrighting the idea any time soon :) Just thought I'd share!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What a no good, low down, dirty, rotten day!!!

I should have stayed in bed this morning! Here is the saga...

I was supposed to be in D.C. this morning at 9 o'clock for a mandatory professionalism course (yawn) for my D.C. license. I left my house at 7 o'clock, giving myself plenty of time to get there - ha! What would normally be a 20 minute drive to the Metro took an HOUR AND A HALF!!!! Apparently, people can't drive in rain. My blood pressure rose with each passing (or non-passing) mile.

I jump on the Metro, and in my rush and panic, I end up taking the long route on accident. Nice. I finally do arrive, a mere 5 minutes late, and am told that I will not be allowed in. Groan!!!! Are you kidding me??? What could they possibly have covered in those first 5 minutes that is so important?? I should be thankful, however, that I just came from Maryland...the gentlemen who arrived behind me flew in from California for it! However, as a nice consolation prize, they did waive the rescheduling fee. How considerate. Now, I have to drag butt all the way back there on July 11th, which is a Saturday!!! to take this stupid course. Otherwise, my license will expire and that would be no good. At least, my boss wouldn't like it.

So, I mosey on down to the U.S. District Court to get two summons signed (that's another frustrating story, but I'll spare you...). The Rule is rather ambiguous, so I prepared the summons in two different ways just in case. I get that done and hop back on the Metro to come into the office and make this day productive. I am at the last stop before the station where I am parked when my secretary calls to tell me that the Court called and said I put the wrong name on the summons. Lovely. It really was a silly stupid mistake.

So, I'm back in the office now, and I reallllly don't want to walk down to my boss' office and tell him about my adventures this morning.


Well, here's to hoping that the little black rain cloud decided to stop following me today!

Taking Responsibility

Sometimes its just easier to clean up the toys yourself and dress your child, huh? In the long run, however, that discourages independence and responsibility. When Carter turned 3, we decided it was time for us to stop being his butler, maid and waiter, and for him to start taking on responsibility. Our philosophy is that as a family we are a team - everyone contributes and pitches in a hand!

So, to remind us to keep on top of this, and to encourage Carter, I developed a Chore Chart of age-appropriate chores. Little did I know when I started what a great teaching tool this would become! If there is a new skill we want Carter to learn, or a behavior we want modified, we put it on the Chore Chart!

I tape the chart up on the closet door in his bedroom. Every night before bed, I review the chart with him and put stars in each box that was completed. If he gets stars in all of his boxes for the day - he gets a quarter! If he doesn't, then we talk about what he missed and how to do better tomorrow. Plus, I reserve the right to withhold stars for bad behavior. The threat of losing stars is enough to compel his little tush into action! I love it :) Plus, he really looks forward to cashing out his quarters every once in a while and taking a trip to the toy store. This also helps teach him about saving and the value of money.

Now that he is 4, I need to think of some new chores for the chart. Any ideas?

Also, email me - elle134@gmail.com - if you want me to email you the Chore Chart file to customize for your child.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Overcoming a Picky Eater

Kids don't tend to be naturally good eaters. Most moms I know suffer severe frustration over trying to get their children to eat well. I've definitely been there!!! When Carter started eating table foods, he'd eat just about anything I put in front of him - I thought I'd skipped the curse of the picky eater. Nope. Shortly after his first birthday, Carter decided he wasn't going to eat anything other than chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, mac-n-cheese, and ... cheese. Okay, he'd eat fruit too. But still, a kid cannot survive on cheese alone! For too long, I fed into this (ha ha ha) and made a separate meal for him.

One day, I decided I'd had enough! I was tired of all the fighting and stress over getting him to try new foods, or at least ingest a veggie once in a while! Plus, I figured all this stress over foods could not possibly be good for encouraging a healthy relationship with food. So (inspired by my friend Alice Anne whose daughter eats EVERYTHING), I decided to stop stressing . And to stop catering to his picky tastes. I started by offering him what I prepared for Ace and I for dinner. I made sure that every meal had some element that he would eat, so he wouldn't starve (but I usually offered this part last). If he didn't eat - fine. We didn't argue about it, just matter-of-factly ended the meal. I knew he wouldn't starve himself (and he was BIG, so he had some reserves to go on), and sure enough, after a few meals of this, he started tasting what I offered him!

I've read that it can take tasting a food up to 14 times for a child to decide they can stomach it. So, I just kept offering. Now, I respect that everyone has different tastes, so I don't expect him to like everything. I really don't like fish - no matter how many times I've tried. Kids are no different! Carter to this day refuses to eat ground meat, tomatoes (or any derivative thereof), carrots or potatoes (other than french fries). That's fine by me because he eats many other varied and healthy choices!

So, a few tips I've learned along the way:

* Sometimes its the texture kids don't like - try changing the consistency of the food.
* Some kids don't like their foods mixed - get a lunch tray looking dish that has separate areas for different foods.
* A drop or two of food coloring can make any food look more fun and appetizing.
* Slowly introduce a new food. For example, for spinach, start by mixing some spinach into corn muffins first, then add it to a pasta sauce, then serve it mixed with butter or some parmesean cheese, THEN serve it straight up.
* A rose is still a rose by any name, but calling a food something fun, kids may be more apt to taste it (i.e. super-man muffins, muscle milk, grow tall sticks [celery]). Plus, I've known many kids who will eat any meat if you call it "chicken." A little deception won't hurt ;)
* Always have one food in the meal that they will eat.
* Try a "one-taste" rule - they just have to taste it once, and if they still don't like it, no sweat!
* Praise them for trying new foods but don't make a big deal or get mad if they simply refuse or don't like it.
* Involve your older children in picking out the foods at the grocery and preparing. Carter is my little sous chef! If he takes ownership of the meal, he's sure to try it!

That said, some kids are more than just picky eaters. Some have developed food aversions that need actual intervention and therapy. If your child's pickiness seems excessive or persistent, talk to your Pediatrician about getting them a consult at a feeding clinic.

Also, I've found these tactics equally applicable to husbands as children :)

If you have any other ideas or tips - share!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Book Review: The Host

Last night, I finally finished reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer (same chic who wrote the Twilight series). It was a long book, but I took a hiatus in the middle to read another book that sounded more interesting :) The Host started off kind of "eh" for me - a little too sci fi for my tastes. But about 1/3 of the way through it got really interesting!

Basically, the book is about these alien "souls" that survive by being implanted into other living things. These souls recently invaded earth and pretty much took over all human life. However, there was a small group of humans that still existed in hiding. There was a soul that could not completely take over her host, and who went to find the host's family in that enclave. That's where it gets super interesting! I would recommend it!

For the first time in a loooong time, I don't have another book awaiting me. I need to go to the library!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Feeding Frenzy

I love to cook. Trying out new recipes is one of life's simple pleasures for me. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to cook on the weeknights, so I try to keep those meals to things that take 30 minutes or less to prepare. I also do most of the prep work the night or morning before (i.e. chopping, marinating, etc.).

I also determined pretty early on (when Carter refused to eat anything other than chicken nuggets and cheese...) that I am not a short order cook! If Carter or Ace don't like what I'm making - tough :) I make sure every meal has elements they like, so they don't starve. But I also want them to expand their palates and try new foods! They are surprised sometimes what they end up liking! As a result, I have raised kids that are not overly picky. I promise to follow up this post with my ideas for overcoming a picky eater (especially for you Jenn!!).

To make meal-planning easier, I have created an excel sheet that breaks down entrees by the main ingredient (chicken, turkey, pork, beef, seafood, vegetarian), and I also list sides by veggies and starches. That makes it super easy to create a varied menu without much thought. But sometimes I get rather bored with the usual go-to's, so every week I aim to try out a new recipe! I subscribe to Cooking Light's "Dinner Tonight" email and I often pick up Martha Stewart Living and Rachel Ray's Everyday magazines for meal ideas too! If the meal is a success, I add it to my database and put the recipe into my recipe box. Oftentimes, I can take a recipe that is elaborate or too fancy-pants for my family's tastes and make it more simple by changing the cooking method or eliminating or replacing ingredients.

If you haven't noticed, I list my weekday menu over to the right each week ---> Of course, there are some nights when I have to work late or I'm just too burnt-out to cook, so we do say "screw it" sometimes and eat pizza :)

If you ever want my "recipe" or found a meal that your family really enjoys - email me!!! Also, if you want me to email you my meal database, pop me a quick email! elle134@gmail.com

Last night, several of Ace's siblings dropped by for dinner, so I decided to try out a fun new summer recipe I found from Cooking Light - Chipotle Sloppy Joes! Oh my goodness, they were SO GOOD! Everyone was raving about them and devouring them! The recipe made about 10 sandwiches too, so it was great for feeding a mob. The contrast between the sweet vidalia onions and the spicy warm chipotle pepper was awesome - you must try this perfect summer recipe! I paired it with corn on the cob, steamed broccoli and oven fries. For dessert, we had root beer floats!!!

Happy eating!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I got bored...

...With the Japanese fish and script blog theme. I decided to go minimalist until I find something I like better.

Carry on :)

What are the odds?

Anyone like statistics? Genetics? Well, have I got a post for you! Have you ever wondered what the odds really are for conceiving one gender over another?? Its not 50/50 like many believe! One day, while pondering over whether this mom of two boys could ever wish to have a daughter, I came across a great website - Ingender - that discusses all things related to gender selection.

So I want to have a third child (one day), and it'd be really nice to have a girl. I ADORE my two boys, but it'd be fun to experience a girl too! Plus, I have all types of heirlooms I could pass down to a daughter! And I'd really love to have a little girl with my curly brown hair and those big brown eyes my boys have...

Anyway. After it was confirmed that we were in fact having a second boy, I began to doubt my chances of ever seeing pink. You see, my husband is one of 5 children - the first four of which are boys! That in and of itself may not be all that suspicious, but when you look at the extended branches of his family tree - its starting to look like this clan tends to produce a predominance of one gender.

Well, my friends, all hope is not lost!!!!! According to a survey done of over 6,000 American families, there is globally a slightly higher chance that any child conceived will be a boy - 51% of all babies born in the U.S. are males.

Apparently, though, the odds change with each successive child! Look at this chart to the right - this shows the odds of having a boy after each girl. So, if you have two girls, the odds of having a boy for your third child is only 46%. Yet, if you have three girls, the odds of a boy is nearly 53% for the fourth, according to the actual statistical data.

Its different for the odds of having a girl too. If you have one boy, then the ods of the second being a girl is 50%. But if you have two boys (like me!), the chance that the third will be a girl is 47.7%!

Now, looking at the overall data, it shows that there is only a 14.9% chance that a 3-child family will be all boys and 12.1% of all girls. Those aren't bad odds, I'd say! But it does seem to suggest that there may be a genetic component with regard to having males, as the odds increase for having another boy the more you have. The same isn't true for girls, though, as you have a better chance at having a boy after 3 girls than you do after 2 girls.

Interesting stuff, huh??? Of course, I'll be happy with whatever God gives me; and I know better than most that a healthy baby is all that matters. But a girl would be icing on the cake :) We can talk about ways to make that more likely another day, he he he (starting with convincing my husband to have another!).


I decided to delete my prior post. I meant it only in a joking matter and did not think that it would cause offense to anyone. However, out of respect and an abundance of caution, I felt it was better to remove the post all together.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The "Mom"icure

Two things have changed since I became a mom over four years ago. One, I realized that I would much rather spend the $45 it costs to get a manicure and pedicure done at the nail salon on Gymboree or Janie & Jack (really super duper cute, but pricey, kids clothes for those who have yet to be initiated into motherhood). And two, nail polish is a freaking waste of time anyway when it chips off within 24 hours from bathing babes or scrubbing bottles.

Sooo...I improvise. I've realized that you can achieve hands that scream to the other mom's on the playground "She's got her sh!t together!!" (little do they know...) with little effort or money. And who can't stand to save a few dimes in this economy??

(Although, can someone explain to me how it is that one of the biggest auto makers in this country can declare bankruptcy and be removed [thats like a BIG time out] from the DOW Industrials the market still closes up????)

I've recently discoverd Ms. Manicure, and I'm in love! NO particular reason, except for the product is quality and its cute. What more reason do you need?? Her (and I'm sure its an "it,"as in a corporation, rather than a "her" but I digress) "Call your Buff" 6-way buff board is the perfect solution to nail polish! With this one handy dandy tool, you can buff your nails to a gleaming shine that won't chip!! Its easy to touch up, doesn't smell, and can't be spilled into your carpet! Simply perfect!!! Go buy one!

Once you have your cuticles trimmed, your nails gleaming with shine and the play doh cleaned out from under your nails, you must pamper your hands! I once heard that the skin on your hands is one of the fastest places for your skin to age (gasp!!!). Take care of it! No one wants wrinkly hands, right?? I have a love affair with Bath & Body Works' True Blue Spa Products. In particular, the "Just a Minute" hand scrub - it leaves your hands as soft as a baby's bottom!!! Then, finish them off with a deep moisturizing treatment with their "Glove Me Tender." Smooth as eggs! (That's for you Ace, since you are being forced to suffer through this).

Now, one must not neglect their tootsies either. I only make time for a pedicure once a month. Maybe now that summer is upon us and my feet will be bare, I'll do it more often. If you really want to recreate the spa experience, get yourself a $20 foot spa. It bubbles, heats, massages, etc. Drop in a drop or two of essential oils (peppermint if you have stinky feet) and kick back and read a magazine or watch some mindless television. Since your toes aren't scrubbing baby bottles or bathing the kidlets, they can safely be adorned with a little color here and there (or alot of color if you are crazy like that).

Now, I must confess that I've never actually personally used the Ped Egg myself... BUT - I've heard enough people raving about it that I keep meaning to buy it. Its only about $10, so not a huge investment. But the old fashioned foot buffing emory board looking thing just ain't cuttting it anymore for me. Ace swears its because I walk around the house barefoot. He always wears slippers and HIS feet are smooth as eggs - which just isn't right. So anyway, if this thing actually works they way they say, then its pretty fan-freaking-tabulous and you must have it. As must I...when I get over my cheapness and drop a Hamilton on it.

So there ya go - Elle's Guide to making other moms green with envy by fooling them into thinking you are so put together that your nails are always perfectly manicured; not stressing about paint chips; and saving a few smackaroos. Who wants to come over for a "spa party"?? The only thing that could make this better would be some chocolate, wine and friends!

Disclaimer: I was not paid to endorse any of the products shown in this blog. If only, right?