WFMW: stickers and kids

Hoarding stickers for the right occasion works for me.

Have you ever noticed that your children get stickers everywhere you go? At the grocery store, the doctor’s office, at preschool, on advertisements in the mail? Some from Grandma at Halloween or Valentines Day?

Get a sticker box. Occasionally, my son wants to wear a sticker he has been given immediately. Often, though, the sticker is forgotten and left in the car or on the counter in the kitchen. I hoard all such stickers. I keep them in a little plastic see-through box. Occasionally, I buy stickers I like and add them to the box, but the majority of the stickers are from elsewhere! I keep the little box out of sight, waiting for the right moment.

When the right moment comes, I break out the scratch paper (or nicer paper if they are making a card or art that they want to give someone) and hand over the box. I used to worry that Duncan or Amelia would exhaust the collection in a single afternoon! Not so. Take courage Mommy and hand over those stickers! Three reasons:

1) The size and variety of the collection make looking half the fun

2) Short attention spans

3) Peeling and sticking takes dexterity and concentration. This is hard work!

When is the right moment?:

plane trips

sick days

when one child is doing something fun and the other gets left behind

when dexterity challenged children want to make art.

Stickers are great for the plane. I bought a cheap little photo album for $1. My toddler stayed busy selecting stickers, sticking the stickers on scratch paper, and then flipping through the album. He loved it and it kept him in his seat, happy and safe.

My daughter Amelia has very poor fine motor control. She feels frustrated when she finds that she can’t do the artsy stuff other girls her age do. Drawing will never be her forte. But she can make a nice card with stickers–she is able to express her creativity and feel good about the result.

For more works-for-me tips, visit Shannon at:

Why is early to bed/Early to rise so difficult?

I know that I am a more productive person when I get up early. I know that I am a happier person when I go to bed early. I know that I am a better mother when I get enough sleep. Every day I have the goal of getting to bed in good time–until about 9:30 or 10:00 at night, and then–the house is dirty, the laundry needs doing. There is a movie I really want to see, a blog I want to write, other blogs I want to respond to. I’d like to talk with my husband. Good intentions go out the window. And then the next morning, I wake up and it’s 8:00. Yikes! (Or even worse, it’s 6:30, my 3 year old is at top volume, and I am death warmed over).

How can I stop the cycle? If I got up at 5 a.m., when the clock struck 10 p.m, would my house be dirty, the laundry need doing, and would I still be wanting a moment to talk with my love? I fear that answer in yes.

WFMW: grocery sack as giant disposable glove

I’m a mom and a cook. This means I deal with lots of messes. I don’t like to touch some of the things I need to touch (examples to follow). This is why the plastic grocery bag works for me. Both of my hands fit inside and can work in tandem to grasp whatever it is I’d rather not touch. It is then easy to reverse the bag and to use it to throw away the item(s) without touching it.

Examples: The best use for this idea is in the tub when your two year old has an accident and the result is, ahem, not going to go down the drain. But there are lots of less extreme situations, where hand protection and a built in garbage receptacle are really nice to have. Raw chicken skins, piles of refuse you don’t trust your garbage disposal with, children’s food or paint covered messes, etc.

For more great works-for-me Wednesday ideas, be sure to visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.

Random Thoughts about Immigration

I am sorry to hear that John McCain’s campaign is doing so badly. I am not sure that I would have wanted him to be President, but I thought he offered many positives that others did not. I have no idea what we should do about Iraq–it’s a huge mess and disaster–but I don’t know if that means we should leave or stay. So I don’t know whether I’m with McCain on that one or not. The thing that bothers me is that McCain’s campaign is suffering because of the position he took on immigration. I don’t understand that. Continue reading

A breakthrough?

Duncan and Amelia’s constant fighting has been driving me crazy. I have always hated hearing other people’s children argue, and until recently I counted my blessings that I didn’t have to deal with that. Amelia is almost five years older than Duncan (my dissertation was our phantom middle child). Only children don’t fight, because they don’t have anyone to fight with. Amelia was smitten with Duncan from the moment she met him, so we were 7 or maybe 7 1/2 years into parenthood without having to deal with fighting. Well, then the honeymoon ended. Duncan got old enough to be annoying and Amelia isn’t quite old enough to ignore that. Now we have constant fighting whenever they’re together.

Today I tried something new. I gave them a choice: they could sit together holding hands for one minute or they could go to their rooms for 30. If they wanted to be able to play after only one minute, they both had to agree to holding hands and sitting together. Now, when I have heard others suggest similar solutions for bickering, I didn’t think much of those suggestions. However, I knew that what I had tried so far hadn’t worked at all, so it was time to try something new.

So far, so good. They didn’t love it, they didn’t think it was fair, but it was just goofy enough, and just barely doable enough (I let them have up to three tries on each occasion) that they were able to do it. And after they had successfully sat holding hands for one minute, the fighting mood had broken. I tried having them sit in silence, and I tried having them sing (e.g., Love One Another, There is Beauty All Around).

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

WFMW: white noise & swaddling

How do you get your baby to sleep so that you can sleep? Two things that have worked for us are swaddling and white noise.

Swaddling: In the hospital, babies are tightly swaddled so that they won’t startle themselves into a screaming fit (suddenly thrusting out all four limbs in an involuntary jumping jack is not often compatible with sleep). Swaddling is often left behind at the hospital doors. But babies sleep better when they’re swaddled, and this isn’t true of just newborns!

One problem is that most baby blankets are much too small to swaddle anything but a newborn with. Get a bigger blanket! Make it, buy it, or beg someone else to make it for you. Dh and Dr. Harvey Karp swear by square blankets, but I have mastered swaddling with a fat rectangle. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but you must figure out your own way of swaddling so that your baby won’t get loose (use his weight to pin the blanket underneath him) and practice, practice, practice. [If you haven't been to the hospital yet, be sure to ask one of the nurses for a demonstration while you're there. They are swaddling pros.] Be consistent and (hopefully!) your baby will soon associate being swaddled with going to sleep.

During the summer, dress the baby in something very light–just a onesie perhaps–and choose a very light blanket as well, as swaddling tightly will often involve wrapping him or her in two layers of blanket. Overheating a baby is one factor in SIDS, so you want to be vigilant about avoiding that. Cotton sheet type material works well. a) it is lightweight and b) it stays wrapped around the baby better than most alternatives. Those fuzzy microfiber fleece type blankets do NOT work well. Your baby will easily kick him or herself free.

White noise: Your baby will sleep much better with white noise. Many people swear by vacuuming, driving in the car, radio static, turning on the fan, etc. The problem with these methods is that they can’t be employed consistently at every nap and bedtime and on every trip to Grandma’s house. You can buy a “sound spa” at Bed, Bath and Beyond or any similar store for about $20. Most models have several noises to choose from: waterfall, rain, heartbeat, etc. Kate falls asleep to rain every night and every naptime. Be consistent and your baby will (hopefully!) associate your chosen white noise with going to sleep.

Note of caution: I got these ideas from Dr. Harvey Karp’s book The Happiest Baby on the Block, a book which definitely worked for me. He has another recommendation, swinging, which also initially worked great for us. Unfortunately, we let our baby sleep in her swing at night. She slept great, but started showing signs of a fairly serious (three months of physical therapy!) neck problem. In fairness, the neck problem might have arisen from how she was positioned in the womb before birth, but her PT believes the swinging aggravated her problem. So, I would avoid overusing the swing.

See Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer for other great tips on Works-For-Me-Wednesday.

The best thing about my blog

The best thing about my new blog is definitely the title. I love chocolate and I love garlic, but no, not together!

I like dark, bitter chocolate. In Germany, after college, I discovered something called Herrenschokolade in a black wrapper. I bought it because I liked the idea of being a 22 year old girl eating something labeled Herrenschokolade. However, I kept eating it because I liked it. When I lived in the Bay Area, I got excited about Scharffenberger chocolate which was also quite bitter. These days I just go with the cheaper 70% Ghiradelli that one can pick up anywhere. My guilty secret is the enormous bag of chocolate chips standing open in my pantry. Someone asked the other day whether eating chocolate doesn’t bother my little nursling. My steady progress through the 5 lb bag suggests it doesn’t.

I also like garlic. One of my prouder accomplishments is that I’ve learned to cook very good pasta dishes. Although pasta dishes are my favorite, I seldom order it out, because I can usually do better at home. Woo! Anyway, I have always liked garlic. But growing up, my acquaintance with garlic was through garlic salt and garlic powder. I thought I was really gourmet when I moved to the bottles of minced garlic. Now, I can’t imagine life without a garlic press and the pleasure of newly smashed garlic cooking in olive oil.