Spilled Milk

Last week I made coffee without putting the pod in the coffee machine.  I mean, really (!), the absolute simplest way to make coffee – put the pod in and press a button – and I messed it up.  Why?

I was multitasking, that’s why.  I was trying to make breakfast for the kids, plan out my week, check the weather (big snowstorm on the way) and get myself to the dentist on time.  It’s only 7:45 on a Saturday morning and I was already exhausted from trying to do so many things at the same time.  I wanted to crawl back into bed and hibernate.  Unfortunately, if you read my last post, you’ll know that is impossible with my 2 kids who have an inner clock set to 5:30 am.

While I was trying comprehend why my coffee looked like water, I heard my five-year old say “uh oh!”  I looked and discovered he had dripped milk on the floor.  Being the good kid that he is, he got a towel and tried to wipe it up.  But the more he wiped it up, the more he spilled.  Sadly, I realized that he was multitasking too.  He was still trying to drink his milk with one hand and clean up the mess with the other.  And he learned it from me!

There is not a lot of research that shows that multitasking is beneficial.  Most of what you find will say that, for short-term, it’s fine.  But in the long run, it’s more harmful to your health and to your memory than most of us realize.  In fact, multitasking can actually cause more stress, make it harder to focus, make you unhappy and less productive.

When I think about it, life has changed drastically in the last 15 – 20 years with cellphones and personal computers.  Especially with smartphones that allow us to be in constant contact with the rest of the world.  It has become increasingly harder and harder to pull ourselves away from text messages, emails, and social media.  Look away from your phone or computer now and look at the people around you (unless you’re sitting in a room all by yourself, that is).  How many people have a cell phone in their hand?  How many of them are looking at their phone and walking, or eating, or talking to someone standing next to them, or ordering a cup of coffee?  That is multitasking!  What about when you are watching tv?  Are you checking your emails on your phone or computer?  texting someone?  scoping out Facebook? Do you even remember when people only had a landline in their house and that was it?

I’m guilty too, it’s a big part of why I’m frazzled all the time.  After thinking about this during the week, I realized that often I am trying to do two or more things at the same time.  I make breakfast, pack lunches and try to get the kids up and dressed all at the same time.  During my lunch hour at work I am eating, making copies, setting up for the afternoon classes, etc. I cook dinner, check the kids’ backpacks and email at the same time.  Starting the Chore Chart has definitely helped with the getting things done in the morning (check out my last post about the Chore Chart below).  Think about it though.  How is this affecting our children?  What are we teaching them?  That you can drink your milk the same time you are trying to clean up what you spilled?  You’re just going to spill more.

Now Google “A day without cellphones” and you’ll see dozens of articles and stories about people who have given up their phone for a day.  The results range from a couple of people barely surviving 24 hours to quite a few rediscovering the world around them.  In my search, I discovered that there is actually a National Day of Unplugging, started by Reboot, a non-profit affirming the value of Jewish traditions and creating new ways for people to make them their own.  We missed the National Day of Unplugging (it was on March 3-4, 2017) but that doesn’t mean that we can’t give it a go on our own, right?

So now, I ask you… can you do it?  Can you go a whole day without your phone and computer?  Pick a day that you will not need either for work.  Make this a day to focus on one task at a time.  Start with that cup of coffee in the morning.  Sit down at the table and enjoy that cup of coffee, down to the last drop.  Just let your mind wander as you do so.  Were you able to do it?  Great!!! Now, on to the next task, one item at a time….

Chore Charts

Trying to establish morning routines without aggravation…

 

Getting the kids up in the morning has never been a problem.  They are up by 5:30 am every day.  This is great for weekdays, not so great for weekends when you hope to sleep in a bit.  We don’t even set our alarm clocks any more, they are that attuned.

Getting the kids ready for school and ourselves ready for work and out the door on time is not so easy.  Everything has been a real struggle, from getting them dressed to convincing them to eat breakfast.  At 3 and 4 years old, they only want to play, which is understandable.

So, with their birthdays looming upon us, I decided we needed to change tactics and turned to one of my favorite online obsessions – Pinterest.  What responsibilities can and should we expect of each of our children?  Is it too early to start a list of chores?  an allowance?  The plethora of information found is both inspiring and overwhelming.  I finally came across a pin from the blog My Name is Snickerdoodle that seemed perfect.  It was easy to make and easy to use.  As the kids finish each morning routine, they simply flip up each tab to read “Done”.  I made one for each child, sat them down and together we talked about what routines we have to do each morning in order to make it to work and school each morning.  As an incentive, I decided to add that they could earn 25 cents a week if they did their without complaining.  They liked the idea of getting money each week for their piggy banks and agreed easily.

Establishing morning routines without tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the five morning routines I expect them to do everyday, without complaint:

  1. Get dressed.
  2. Make bed.
  3. Eat breakfast.
  4. Brush teeth.
  5. Put on shoes

Day One – The kids eagerly started their routines and flipped up each one to read “Done” as soon as they finished.  It soon became very competitive.  Who could flip up all five responsibilities first?   I had to leave for work as they were eating breakfast, but their Lola (Filipino for grandmother) reported that they finished breakfast without argument and brushed their teeth and put on shoes in record time.  When I returned from work that afternoon, they were so excited to show me that they had flipped up everything.

Day Two – The kids were not quite as enthusiastic as the first day and I almost despaired that the novelty had already worn off.  My older child needed a couple of reminders that the jobs needed to be done without argument in order to earn 25 cents at the end of the week.  However, once he flipped up the first responsibility, he got more excited about doing the rest.

Of course, the younger child was not about to be outdone.  As soon as the older one announced that he had flipped up the second one, she switched into high gear.  She got dressed and made her bed in record time.  For her, everything she does involves a song and dance, and I mean literally she has to sing and dance about while you wait with increasing impatience and try to keep her moving along.  This time, she showed some will power and withheld on the improv performance about her life.  After two bites of her cereal, though, she declared herself full and was off to flip up the third before her brother.  Luckily, I intercepted her and sent her back to the table to finish.

Day Three – So, today was a little trickier because the kids had pajama day at school.  Try convincing your kids to put on fresh pajamas to go to school… not so easy.  Once we flipped up the first job, they set about making their beds and I left to pack the lunches and make breakfast.  A few minutes later, my younger one came in and announced that she was done making her bed.  But I discovered when I was preparing to leave for work that she did not even touch her bed.  Soooo… we had to have a talk about not telling the truth… which made me a little late for work.  It’s ok, some things are more important, right?

Days Four, Five, and Six – The rest of the week went pretty smoothly.  I had a few complaints, but generally, they were more willing to get the routines done than ever before.  And I purposely did not remind them about the 25 cents at the end of the week.  I didn’t want the money to be the only reason they did their chores,  Flipping up the chart seemed to be satisfactory enough for them and I want to try and keep it that way.  It’s like crossing off your to-do list.  It’s giving them a sense of accomplishment.  So on Day 7 when I presented them with 25 cents, they were ecstatic.

Two weeks in and I think we forgot to do the chore chart one day (it was a weekend day, we were taking it a little easy).  Otherwise, it is still working pretty well.  Next up, I ‘m going to come up with the afternoon/evening routines and .  I don’t want to overwhelm them with too many, so I need to think about this a bit.  I’ll keep you updated on how this goes.

 

The Dangers of Laundry Pods

We had an awful scare not too long ago.  I have really struggled about whether or not to share this with you, but finally came to the conclusion that even if you think that I am a bad mom, sharing this story may help someone else and prevent another child from getting hurt, or worse…

While I was at work, my three year old found a laundry pod in the bathroom.  It was left on a bucket of laundry that was meant to be washed a few days earlier.  She went to use the toilet and rather than put the pod down so that she could pull down her pants, she tried to hold it in her mouth.  It burst and she swallowed a small amount of detergent.  She finished using the toilet and then went running out, crying, to our caregiver.  After figuring out what had happened, she wiped her hands and face and gave her some water to drink.  Luckily, this made my daughter vomit.  An ambulance was called and as my last class left, I received the phone call.  I flew out of work, a co-worker drove me home, I was so shaken.  We managed to meet the ambulance just before it left.

After arriving at the ER, the doctor checked her out and told us that we were lucky she vomited quickly but they wanted to keep her for observation for several hours to make sure she didn’t inhale any detergent when it popped.  The doctor in the ER had consulted with Poison Control and was advised that symptoms of inhalation could appear somewhere between 6 and 8 hours.

We were very lucky.  No symptoms appeared and my daughter was discharged.  We learned a few things while in the ER and through doing some research with Poison Control and several medical websites:

  1. The detergent in laundry pods is highly concentrated and therefore even more dangerous than regular liquid detergent.  Pods are convenient because you don’t have to measure, and if you live in an apartment like us where you have to lug everything down to the laundry room, much easier to carry a few pods than a while bottle of liquid detergent.
  2. Detergent is alkaline and can burn through a child’s esophagus when swallowed.  One nurse in the ER told us that sometimes the burn can be so bad that a feeding tube would have to be inserted in a child’s side (rather than through ordinary measures).  Even with the few drops that my child swallowed, her throat was red.
  3. IF YOU THINK YOUR CHILD MAY HAVE INGESTED EVEN A SMALL AMOUNT, CALL POISON CONTROL IMMEDIATELY!  THE NUMBER TO POISON CONTROL IS 1-800-222-1222.  You can also go to the website and get immediate help – the website is http://www.poison.org/ or http://webpoisoncontrol.org/ .  For either website, just locate the orange “HELP ME with a possible poisoning” button.  Of course, in a real emergency, you should always call 911.   I recommend going on the website today and familiarizing yourself with the site.  You can also subscribe to its newsletter and check out articles and even donate to help support the site (the site is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all help is free and confidential).

What? No coffee???

First day back and I dropped my coffee just outside of school.  The whole cup busted.  And as I watched the coffee spill out across the pavement, I thought this is NOT an auspicious beginning for 2017.  < Sigh >  When I finally got to my classroom, I discovered that someone had left me a giant wrapped ball of Lindt chocolates (yay!) as a present.  There is a God!  And he knew I needed either coffee or chocolate to get through the day!  Maybe 2017 is going to be a good year after all….

Happy New Year!

Soooooo, I didn’t get this written as early as I would have liked, but I’m glad I’m writing this now.  2016, it seems, was not a good year for a lot of people.  We lost many celebrities this year.  We lost many family/friends this past year too.  I will hold on to my happy memories of each person dearly, for they helped shaped my childhood and my life.  We did have some really good things happen to us this year, though, it does get you thinking… life is too short to waste it doing things that make you unhappy.  So I ask you…

Are you happy?  What can you do to make yourself happier?

I have decided that will be my one resolution this year.  To make myself happier.

How can I do that?

First, I made a list of 5 things that already make me happy.

My list includes:

1) Spending time with my husband and kids, my family and friends.  We get so busy with work and trying to get through day to day stuff that sometimes we forget to just relax and enjoy each other’s company.  I truly enjoy being with my family and with my friends.  So, I am going to try spending more time with family and friends.  It makes me happy.

2) Teaching art.  I love being in the classroom.  I am the teacher who tells you it is okay to get your hands dirty, the teacher that tells you that your work should NOT look like anyone else’s work, the teacher who teaches you about art – one of the finer things in life.

3) Creating art.  This is my way of meditating, of zoning out, of processing the million and one thoughts that running through my brain screaming at top volume for attention.

4) Sharing myself on this blog.  I was always a very shy person.  It wasn’t until my 30’s that I started feeling braver about speaking up and saying what is on my mind.  Creating this blog has really helped me overcome that last bit of shyness and be confident in speaking out.  Am I an expert on anything?  Nope, but I do have opinions and this has allowed me to share them confidently and thoughtfully.

5) Reading.  There is nothing like a good book.  I went from being someone who worked in a bookstore (a long time ago) and collected books as if they were diamonds to reading picture and board books once I had kids.  Why?  I’ve been so frazzled with adjusting to motherhood, that reading got pushed to the side.  I only recently in the last few months, starting reading for myself again.  Haven’t finished anything yet though…

Second, I made a list of 5 projects or goals that I would like to accomplish this year that would add to my happiness.

My project or goals that I would really like to accomplish this year are:

1) Build an emergency fund.  I can feel you scowling at me already.  Don’t say anything.  We have had a few tough years and now we have made progress towards spending more than we make.  We now need to focus on rebuilding that emergency fund in case we hit another rough patch again.

2) Build a “Buy a New Home” fund.  We are outgrowing our wonderful apartment.  We need another bathroom.  It is inevitable that as soon as one person goes in to use the bathroom, someone else is knocking on the door, telling you to hurry up.

3) De-clutter the apartment.  I feel as if there is a ghost that follows me around and clutters up the room as soon as my back is turned.  It is a never-ending battle, but I am determined to tackle this once and for all.

4) To get the website running really smoothly.  This way I can focus on other aspects of the blog like writing more and creating more cartoons for the blog.

5) To finally go to a Paint night, have brunch with friends, and to have a regular date night with my husband.  A friend of mine has been trying to get two of us to go for the longest time.  We gave ourselves a deadline, by the end of January we are leaving the kids with the husbands and going to go paint and have a good old gab session.  The same with brunch, Although, I never lost touch with a group of girlfriends, it was hard to actually get together and keep up with each other.  Same with date night with hubby, as new parents with two kids who got sick A LOT, we felt so guilty being away from them, even for a night out with each other that we could not enjoy ourselves.  Well, the kids are older and healthier now.  It’s time for us to go out and kick up our heels a little.

 

Notice that I didn’t put anything in there about losing weight or eating healthier, or breaking any other bad habits.  From everything I’ve seen and read, only the smallest fraction of people actually reach those sort of goals each year.  Why make myself unhappy with goals that I am most likely not goal to attain?  However, these projects/goals that I listed above are attainable, and I am sure that as I accomplish each one, I will feel more relaxed, more in control, and a little less frazzled.

Now, it’s your turn… I would love to hear what 5 goals you have for yourself this year that will make you happier.  Let’s make 2017 a happy year!

Root Canal

Is it sad that the only time I find myself sitting still is when I am having a root canal?

I was thinking this about three weeks ago as I was sitting in the chair at the dentist’s office.  I love my dentist, but honestly I do not want to see him as much as I have this year. However, that is the price you pay when you neglect yourself.  And as I sat in that chair waiting for my face to go numb, I realized that I have been neglecting myself for far too long.  I need to start taking care of me.

Easier said than done.

Since my kids were born, my husband and my parents battled serious, and sometimes, life-threatening illnesses.  In all of the hullabaloo, I stopped taking care of myself.  And I don’t mean that I stopped showering, shaving my legs, or using deodorant.  I stopped going for my yearly checkups.  And now that everyone is healthy and strong again, my first New Year’s Resolution is to take care of me.  And I know that once I put this out there (in the great, wide internet world) I have to hold myself accountable to this.   The first step was the dentist.  Hence, the root canal…sigh.

My second New Year’s Resolution is to find more time to sit still.  I am going to schedule “Me” time at least once a week for two hours.  Doesn’t sound like a lot of time, does it?  Not on paper, at least.  In two hours I could get a mani/pedi, go for a haircut, stroll through a store, read a book (I used to be an avid reader before kids), or countless other things.  I’m going to start making a list.  I’ll post that soon. And doctor appointments will not count.  That is a necessity.  This “Me” time is exactly that.  Just. For. Me.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving holiday!  While traditionally we have the family over at mom and dad’s house where everyone eats too much, watches the parade, the dog show, and the football game on tv, and we get in at least one good family argument, this year is much quieter.  My youngest has a stomach bug and my husband has to work.  On top of that, my mother-in-law is here and very jet-lagged, so she is sleeping right now (it’s nighttime in her country, so it is understandable).  I am waiting for my husband to come home early and then will take my older child and mother-in-law over to meet the rest of the family.  Hopefully, no family arguments or oven fires will happen.  And yes, they do happen.  My husband and I were dating when I invited him for Thanksgiving at my sister’s house.  As we were walking in, there was a family argument and then, a little while later, the oven caught on fire.  The pan that the turkey was in had a pinhole leak in it and was dripping onto the bottom of the oven.  As we watched my boyfriend help my sister clean the oven, my mother leaned over and said,”If you don’t marry him, I will!”  Four months later, we were married.

So as I reflect on Thanksgiving today, I would like to say that I am grateful for my family and friends and their infinite patience and love.  I am grateful for my children.  My son and I have a running joke, “You’re driving me crazy!  But I still love you!”  I am grateful that I am able to get up every morning and hit the ground running, sometimes slipping and sliding all over the place, but hey! I am moving and that’s what counts!  I am grateful for all of the people who remind us that though we may not agree politically on who should be president, it is the people of this country that make it great and wonderful.  For we still have the right to speak our mind and fight for what is right and fair and just for all people.  And as A.J. Jacobs reminded us when he held his Global Family Reunion in 2015, WE ARE ALL ONE BIG FAMILY.  So stop fighting about every little thing and instead do something to help someone else.  Even if it is as small as paying the coffee for the person standing on line behind you, show someone that you care.  I challenge you to do one act of kindness a week between now and New Year’s Eve.  Can you do it?  I bet you can!

Sopapilla

Filipino-style Cheesecake

This is one of my family’s favorite desserts.  It is also one of the easiest cheesecake recipes ever and the kids love to help make it (and lick the bowl afterwards!).

You’ll need:

hand mixer               rolling pin               spatula               bowl               9×13″ baking pan

Ingredients:

2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls (8 oz each)

Filling:

2 packages of cream cheese (8 oz each), softened

1 cup of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cocoa, unsweetened

For the topping:

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1 tsp of cinnamon

1/4 cup of butter, melted

2 Tablespoons of honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and cocoa using the hand mixer on low until everything is incorporated.
  3. Open on can of crescent rolls and unroll onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the rolling pin with some flour and gently roll out the crescent rolls until it is the same size as the baking dish. Transfer to the bottom of the baking dish.
  4. Spread the cream cheese mixture on top, using a spatula. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and gently roll it out until it is also the same size as the baking dish. Lay on top of the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Melt ¼ cup of butter and stir in ½ cup sugar, 1tsp cinnamon, and 2 Tablespoons of honey. Stir together until the sugar has melted and drizzle on top.
  6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool before serving.

Inside-out

So… the other day Itags wore my pants inside out.  Not intentionally.  I didn’t realize they were inside-out until I sat down for a meeting at lunch.  I realized there was a funny ridge on the outside of my leg.  Confused, I looked down and discovered that the seam was on the outside.

This is what happens when you get dressed in the dark.  Why?  Because you don’t want to wake the three year old who climbed into your bed at 2 a.m. and is now snoring away while you use the flashlight app on your phone to grope through your closet to pick out your clothes for the day.

I had a moment of panic.  Surely everyone noticed!  Maybe they were just being polite by not mentioning it.  Trying not to draw any attention to myself, I reached behind me pretending to straighten my shirt.  Nope… thank goodness I had worn a shirt that covered my backside and the tags.  I breathed a small sigh of relief as I then realized, my students did not say anything all morning.  And these kids don’t miss anything!  Surely, they would have said something if they noticed this major wardrobe mistake.

I laughed about it with my husband that night as I prepared dinner.  I was relieved that my crazy day was over.  Until I took the package of salmon out of the fridge and discovered that I had defrosted ground turkey…

Welcome to my world…

I am a frazzled mom.  I’m sure if you have kids then you have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a frazzled parent.  I am not the cool, calm, and collected person who shows up at the birthday party with the perfectly wrapped gift and clean-faced children who look as if dirt has never touched them.  Nope.  I am the one who shows up with the gift bag I managed to find in the back of the closet (because even though I remembered to get the gift yesterday, I forgot the birthday card and gift wrap) and kids, who I swear were clean when we left our home but somehow managed to end up with dried yogurt around their mouth and dripped down their shirt.  I am the one who shows up with one kid crying because he/she didn’t get to wear the shoes, pants, or shirt with the minions or princesses that they wanted.  I am the one who shows up with my hair in a ponytail, the barest of makeup, and a giant bag with the extra change of clothes, wipes, snacks (some which have been there past their expiration date) and water for the kids.

Some days I do pretty well at keeping everything and everyone moving along pretty well, and other days I completely flop.   I invite you to take a journey through motherhood with me as I attempt to organize my life and my family.  It’s not easy, I try take it one day at a time and with a LOT of coffee (and chocolate).  I’ve realized recently that taking it one day at a time is just not good enough anymore.  I need to do better.  So, check back each week as I share my mishaps and triumphs, my revelations and my concoctions which passed muster with the pickiest eater in the family – the one who thinks she is the boss of everyone – the littlest one and the loudest one – the daughter!

See you soon!