Wednesday, January 31

Frustrated and Running Out of Crib Sheets

My daughter has a new hobby. She's decided that instead of taking a nap every afternoon, she'll jump up and down in her crib until she gets bored, then start fussing in hopes I'll let her out. When I don't (I still maintain she needs a nap, since without one, she crashes hard about two hours before bedtime), she lets me know how annoyed she is by stripping off her clothes and diaper then releiving herself on the mattress.

It's reminding me of a cat I used to own. We took the cat to the no kill shelter. Unfortunately, they don't accept not quite two year olds adept at pushing their limits and their mommy's buttons.

I suggested duct tape (which I know I saw on a blog recently, if only I could remember where...), but my husband doesn't think that's the right solution.

Any ideas? I'm getting sick of changing out the crib sheets.

***Updated: Aha! Here is the post I was looking for (gotta love Google)!

Tuesday, January 30

Friendship and Hand Gestures

I just read a wonderful quote about friendship on Randi's blog, I Have to Say.... So, I'm officially sending you all there to read about how my wonderful friends strengthen my life.

Go on over and read it, then come back and I'll tell you all about the unity picture I got in Brazil.

I went to Brazil four years ago with a group from my church. We worked with an organization called Project AmaZon, or PAZ for short. They work along the rivers in the Amazon Basin. Our group, we had been told ahead of time, was going to be on a health boat, visiting several villages along the Amazon River.

Our first morning in Santarém we each purchased a rede (Portuguese for "hammock" and pronounced "hedgie") and went down to the public line boat that would take up out to meet the PAZ boat at the first village. And when I say "down" I really mean DOWN. I can't find a photo of it right now, but trust me when I say there was a big huge high sea wall and a rickety spindly little ladder.

Down and I are not good friends. I have no problem with heights, but going down from heights is pretty anxiety inducing for me. I spent several minutes at the top of the wall, watching everyone else head down, including several local workers who carried large boxes on their heads while they fairly danced up and down the steps.

When I finally made my descent, complete with sweaty palms and shaky knees, I realized that there was no way I would be able to repeat this journey later that evening with my luggage. I hadn't even been able to carry down the plastic grocery-sized bag with my rede in it.

On the dock beside the line boat, I spoke with another member of our team, sharing that I was a bit nervous about the return trip down the ladder. I asked him if he would be willing to help me with my suitcases. "Of course," he told me. "We're a team. We'll take care of it for you."

Climbing back up the ladder, it started to rain. I was grateful, because it helped to hide the fact that I had tears streaming down my face. At least, it did until I got back to the van and completely broke down sobbing among the rest of my teammates. Several of them hugged me, told me it would be okay, and prayed for me. I managed to stop crying, but I didn't really feel any better.

That afternoon we had a rest period to recover from our overnight flight into Brazil and to prepare for the overnight voyage on the line boat. I was supposed to be napping, but whenever I tried to lie still and close my eyes, I felt completely unsettled and upset about my experience that morning.

Finally, I asked one of my teammates to please finish up in the bathroom because I needed to be in there right away. My urgency wasn't because I was desperate to use the facilities, but because I really needed some time alone, without anyone else intruding on my space. At the PAZ guest house, the only personal space to be had was in the bathroom.

I sat on the floor and spent several minutes simply crying out the rest of my tears. When I'd finished, I began to pray. "Why?" I asked God. "Why am I so upset about this? It's not that big a deal. What's going on?" As I prayed and pondered, I began to understand that I wasn't so upset about the wall or the ladder or the down, but what was really bothering me was my inability to do for myself.

I'd been raised as a typical American, full of determination and independence. Like a small, stubborn child, I sat there on the bathroom floor saying, "No! I want to do it myself." Yet, I couldn't. The realization left me feeling very vulnerable and frightened. I decided to go back to bed.

While I was trying to fall asleep once again, I heard a message from God. This doesn't happen to me with any regularity, but I was pretty sure God was talking to me, even though it sounded rather a lot like just talking to myself inside my head.

God told me to look at my hand. "Huh?" I looked at my hand.

"Look at your fingers," He instructed. "See how they move? Aren't they beautiful?"

"Okay, sure."

"One finger, all alone, can't really do much, can it?"

"I suppose not."

"But, when all the fingers are together, working in concert as your hand, think how much more they can accomplish."

"Well, yeah, I can see that."

"You and this team are like your hand. On your own, you can only accomplish small things, but when you open yourselves up and work together, you can do so much more."

And that was all God had to say about that. The rest of the trip was really pretty uneventful for me, by comparison. But the image of all my fingers working together has really stayed with me.

Monday, January 29

Making DVDs

Have you ever started something that looked interesting, only to discover that it was waaaaaay more complicated than you had ever realized? I'm currently stuck in the middle of trying to figure out how to make the movie clips we've filmed on our digital camera play on a disc in the dvd player.

Here I thought it would just be a matter of copying the files. Silly me. Apparently all the files have to be converted to something called MPEG-2 first. Then you have to create a menu.

I don't know what's next because that's as far as I've gotten. But I've already tried to copy the files onto the disc twice with no success (because they haven't been in the right format--twice). Who knew there were so many different kinds of movie files.

Well, really, I suppose I should have had some clue. I mean, consider all the image file types that are out there. JPEG and GIF and EPS and BMP, just to name a few. But, I've been working with those for years, so they seem like old friends. Well, mostly. MPEG and AVI and NTSC are all new acronyms for me. I must admit, though, I'm feeling a little more sympathy for the people I used to work with.

In my previous life (back before anybody was calling me "Mommy"), I was in charge of contacting speakers for our conferences. Once they agreed to speak, we needed all sorts of information and files from them, including a short biography, photo, and brief description of their topic.

For professional speakers, this wasn't a problem. They usually had assitants or agents who took care of all these things on a regular basis. But for our technical conference, we didn't use professional speakers. All of our speakers were paper industry professionals, often the men (and a few women) managing the paper mill. No agencies to send out photos there.

One year, we decided it would save us a lot of trouble if we simply asked everyone to submit their photos electronically. I happily composed a message to all of our conference speakers letting them know we needed a photo in GIF or JPEG format, no less than 300dpi. I got the strangest e-mails back from that. One poor woman didn't have the slightest idea of file compression, so she sent me a scanned photograph that was about 20 inches wide and about 8MB. And this was back when businesses still used dial-up internet connections. It took a good two hours to download that puppy.

But, like I said, I'm feeling much more sympathetic at the moment. At least I don't have a perky little marketing coordinator e-mailing me and asking for all these files. Or should that be a "pesky" coordinator?

Saturday, January 27

Jus' Ducky

My daughter's second birthday is fast approaching. Much faster, in fact, than I really want to consider. How did she get to be so grown up so quickly? Where does the time go?

In any case, we're having a birthday party for her in a couple of weeks. I wanted to post her wishlist for those of you who may be searching for gift ideas.

Ducky Gifts

A ducky robe, like the one here, would be great for wrapping up in after bathtime. The slippers are awfully cute, too, aren't they?

Wooden alphabet blocks, like these would be an excellent addition to the toy collection. And they're educational.

Mittens are great fun and stuffed animals make wonderful pets. What better way to combine these passions than with a kid-sized puppet, like the one featured here? Oh, boo hiss! They don't sell it anymore. Now you'll have to find it on your own. Good luck.

Toys that fit inside one another are such a joy. Like these bowls. Wouldn't they be great to set up and knock down and put together and take apart over and over and over again?

It's not quite warm enough to be outside with wheels yet, but the hardwood floors inside (especially the long hallway) offer intriguing possibilities for indoor riding. This looks like it could be a perfect first tricycle. PURCHASED

Painting is a brand new idea. With supplies like these, it's a sure bet to catch on quickly, without making too much mess to clean up once the masterpiece has been completed.

We're just beginning to work with numbers and letters. With help from friends like these, could learning get any better?

Stacking and colors and wheels, oh my! There are just so many options when playing with this sort of toy.

Being a toddler makes so much energy! Dancing to music is a fun way to rechannel some of it before naptime. A dvd like this one could be very useful.

I hope this has sparked some good gift ideas.

There is a particular gift I'd like to ask everyone not to get, though, because her daddy and I have already chosen this book to fit into the theme of the party.


Friday, January 26

Tired but Happy

I spent a lot of today working on projects. First, I started cleaning the house again. In fact, I have to confess, the cute little comment I have beside the link to FlyLady's website "helping me keep my house clean" is really no more than wishful thinking. I made it through BabyStep #2 about four months ago. Then I stopped, and really, I haven't considered shining my sink since.

However, this morning, I did begin to tackle all the papers, yarn bits, books, dvds, and other assorted mess that makes up our living room. I am happy to report that we are now only about half as messy as we were earlier today.


The other thing I managed was to revise the registration process for the website I design. It's not really anything especially impressive, I suppose, but for me it took a lot of work, mostly of the searching through HTML and javascript internet archives, putting it together, trial and error variety.

And, can I just say...well, of course I can, it's my blog...I get really frustrated with software that's designed to think for you. Like the auto correct feature in MS Word. Sometimes, I don't want the preset correction. And website software can be even worse. Wysiwyg ("wizzy-wig" what you see is what you get) editing is not all it's cracked up to be. I'd like to suggest wycsiwyrg ("wick-see-werg"? what you can't see is what you really get). Does it make me look like too much of a geek to admit I type my blog posts in the HTML editor?

Wednesday, January 24


We've been sick here again, lately. And busy. And generally not feeling like writing much. So, I thought I'd share some highlights...

The Bears won the NFC Championship, so they're headed to the Superbowl. Woo-hoo! Between the illness and the shouting, I've not had much of a voice since Sunday.

Adam's last day at his old job is tomorrow. Yee-ha!

That's our daughter's response to pretty much any question these days, whether she knows what we're asking or not.

"Are you the world's cutest little girl?"

"Are you a slimy lizard with green scales?"

In an attempt to ward off football withdrawal, I was searching for football movies. I found 33 that sounded good, but I'd never seen. Actually, quite a few of them, I'd never heard of before. Someday, I'll post that list....

In an effort to eat better and save money, we've been cooking a lot more around here lately. I have several recipes that I'll be posting on By Hook or By Cook later. Maybe over the weekend.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. My brain's still a little fuzzy from the flu. I'm guessing that will get better soon. Otherwise, life will be disjointed for a while yet.

Thursday, January 18

Thursday Thirteen #14

Thirteen restaurants I'd love to go to for date night tomorrow

1• Rock Bottom Brewery

2• Carrabba's Italian Grill

3• The Cheesecake Factory

4• The Old Spaghetti Factory

5• Maggiano's Little Italy

6• Cozymel's Mexican Grill

7• Tony Roma's

8• Lalo's Mexican Restaurant

9• The Melting Pot

10• Cheddar's Casual Café

11• BD's Mongolian Barbeque

12• Timber Lodge Steakhouse

13• Giordano's

Unfortunately, they're not all nearby and I'm pretty sure we don't have enough in the budget to cover dinner and an in-flight movie. Guess we'll have to stick to one close to home. It's fun to imagine, though.

Check out other thirteeners at

Saturday, January 13

Serious Man but a Silly Woman?

I stumbled upon a very fun little test (actually, I found it here). It uses an algorithm based on identifying the frequency with which certain words are used in a text. It's supposed to tell you whether the author is male of female.

I ran a number of different blog entries through and got a mix of predicitons, some suggesting male authorship, others female. I noticed, though, I tended to get the male prediction when I was writing a more serious post and female when I was just being silly.

I wonder why that is?

Friday, January 12

This is Your Official Notice

I just found out. How could I miss such an occassion. [breathes sigh of relief] Ahh. I didn't miss it, I'm getting this in just under the wire.

Apparently this has been Bloggetyville's De-lurking Week.

So, if you visit me here and read what I write, feel free to leave a comment.

Or, you can consider yourself a "legitimate peripheral participant" (from Let's Get More Positive About the Term 'Lurker') and continue to lurk.

Your choice.

Thursday, January 11

Thursday Thirteen #13

Today was one of those days that started out rotten and somewhere along the line (well, at about 6:45 this evening, actually) turned out just great.

So I humbly offer: Thirteen steps on the road from bad to good.

Adam woke me up half an hour after I'd fallen back asleep this morning because he couldn't find his belt.

He woke me up again a few minutes later to tell me he needed a resume printed for his job interview this afternoon and could I help him find the paper?

Our daughter woke up about 45 minutes after he left for work, and three hours before she was supposed to.

Have you ever seen the silliness they put on TV at that hour of the morning?

Thankfully, we were able to get a morning nap in that lasted until lunch time.

Lunch was rotini and romano cheese (nothing like a little R&R).

The short one in the house agreed to an unheard of second nap this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I was able to get some work done on the website I design in my "spare time" (hah!).

I wasn't expecting Adam to call after work because he had his interview right away, but he did anyway.

I wished him luck and told him I loved him.

He said he loved me, and he'd call on his way home.

He called two hours later to say he got the job.

And they offered him a nearly 30% increase in salary! :)

Check out other thirteeners at

Wednesday, January 10

Working More?

Recently I was asked to consider working from home on an interim basis for an organization I worked for once upon a time, many moons ago. The position I used to be in is currently vacant and the director (he's new since I left) wants to know if I can step in and pick up some of the slack while they try to find somebody new.

I can't decide if I am interested in this offer or not. Most of the "slack" I'd be picking up consists of basic data entry--my least favorite part of that job, back when I worked in their office.

And, I've discovered it's a lot harder to work from home than I had counted on. I currently do some web design at home (there's a link to the site I design on my sidebar). It's often a struggle to balance spending time with my daughter and getting stuff done that I'm being paid for.

I find it especially difficult to find focus when my attention is constantly being pulled away from the computer and toward a small screaming person who jumped halfway out of her high chair, then got stuck (yes, she did that this very afternoon).

This morning, I was reading a section of Knowing God's Will. He was talking about a business consultant whose only advice to his executive client was, "Do one thing at a time." I had to laugh. If only I was allowed the pleasure of doing just one thing at a time!

I read about a medical study that was done once, scanning men's and women's brains while they worked out solutions to various problems. The researchers found that men tended to only use one side of their brain at a time, while women worked from both sides at once. At the time (in college), I merely laughed and suggested this was why women were smarter than men.

Now that I've been out of college for more years than I care to remember, I think God made us that way on purpose. Women in many circumstances are much more likely to be subjected to the various demands of husband, children, housekeeping, and cleaning up after the dog, all while trying to cook dinner. We need every brain cell we can get!

Meanwhile, I'm still deciding about this temporary job offer. We could use the money. I'm just not sure it's worth the stress.

Pray with me, would you?

Hearty Granola

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

I created this recipe to fit within the guidelines of the D.A.S.H. plan. D.A.S.H. stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. And it's not just a recipe, but a Works-For-Me Wednesday tip.
click photo for larger image       
3 c rolled oats
1 c raisins
½ c dried blueberries
½ c dried halved cherries
2/3 c almonds
¼ c honey
2 T oil
(variation below)

·Preheat oven to 350°F
·Melt honey in microwave on high for 30 seconds or until bubbly
·Mix oatmeal, fruit, and almonds in a large bowl
·Stir in melted honey and oil
·Spread granola on a large jelly roll pan
·Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring every five minutes

NOTE: Take care to place the pan directly in the center of the oven rack. Edges of the pan which are too close to the sides of the oven may burn.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2/3 c (113 g)
Serving per Recipe 8
Amount per Serving
Calories 295     Calories from Fat 72
% DV
Total Fat 8g
     Saturated Fat 1g
     Monounsaturated Fat 4g
     Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 3mg
Total Carbohydrates 48.5g
     Dietary Fiber 7g
     Sugars 11g
Protein 10.5g


D.A.S.H. Serving Information

Each serving of granola contains:
     1 grains servings
     1 fruits servings
     ½ sweets serving

Serve with ½ cup milk or yogurt (adds ½ serving dairy)

Reduce raisins to ½ cup. Replace blueberries and cherries with ¾ cup chopped dried apple, ½ cup chopped dried pear, and ¼ cup broken banana chips. Replace almonds with chopped walnuts.

For more tips and advice visit Rocks in my Dryer. This week's theme is healthy eating.

Sunday, January 7

A Pinch of This and a D.A.S.H. of That

One thing I've been trying to accomplish for most of my life is to reach and maintain my ideal weight. Lately, I've also been concerned about my blood pressure. While I was pregnant with my daughter, my BP was elevated at every midwife appointment. I'm sure this can be attributed, in part, to the so-called "white coat effect". Still, losing weight and eating more healthfully overall should help my BP to regulate at a more normal level.

In an effort to start afresh with the new year, I've decided to begin the D.A.S.H. plan again. D.A.S.H. stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. I tried this over the summer and found it worked well for me. I didn't feel much like I was deprived of food, since you're actually expected to eat quite a bit. In fact, many days I had trouble getting in enough fruits and veggies to meet my quota.

I started developing some recipes that were in line with D.A.S.H. guidelines. Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting these over on By Hook or By Cook. If you're interested, I created a weekly food diary to help me keep track of what I was eating, how many servings of any given food group I may have left, and so forth. I also set it up to keep a running total (for daily calories, protein grams, carb grams or whatever you may be watching) and included a column for drinking water. You can view the PDF here--for those of you who like to be warned about such things, the link is set to open a new window.

Friday, January 5

Nutrition Information

This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.

I just found a nifty little program that lets me calculate the nutrition information for recipes. I'm very excited!

Now I need to go back and add that information to the recipes I've already posted, and I'll make sure to include nutrition information in all future recipes.

EDITED TO ADD: I may add it to the rest of the recipes. It's kind of a hassle since the program doesn't always have the measurement available that I need. Does anybody have a better recipe nutrition info link I can try?

Maybe This is What I Need

But I'd give her a week, tops, before she figured out how to break in and dump all my credit cards and junk out of that purse, too.


I suppose I should be grateful that at least she's only stealing money out of my purse to play with, rather than to take to the mall and spend.

Still, after finding her happily covered in lipstick already this week, I'd rather not have to take care of that all over again.

I had so hoped to skip the "terrible twos" with my children. They were all going to be perfect little angels. What happened?

Thursday, January 4

Thursday Thirteen #12

One of the items on my List of Things to Do Before I Die is Visit all 50 states. So far I'm 84% there. My qualifications for a "visit" are that I have to actually set foot on the ground outside, so driving through a state without getting out of the car and stopovers without leaving the airport don't count. When I was in college, though, my friend Joyce and I were comparing states and she pointed out that she only counted visits by states where she's spent the night. So, in her honor, I offer:

Thirteen states I've never slept in

9·North Dakota
11·Rhode Island*
12·South Dakota

*States I've visited by my definition (for what it's worth, I've not yet visited Alaska or Hawaii by anyone's definition, but since this isn't the Thursday Fifteen, I'll just leave it at that)

States I've driven or flown through

Check out other thirteeners at

Wednesday, January 3

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Ice cube trays

I'm running on very little brain power today. I've been thinking about visiting this group for a while, so here's my secret for feeding little ones.

That's right. Ice cube trays.

For babies, you can easily freeze one ounce portions of homemade baby food in ice cube trays. Just mash it all up (or use your blender or food processor) and spoon it into the trays. After a few hours, you can pop them out and store them in freezer bags.

For toddlers, dish up the meal (or snacks) right into the tray. My daughter is much more likely to eat a bite of chicken and two small stalks of broccoli out of each cube section, finishing her meal and not spilling as much on the floor, than she is to pick it all out of a bowl or off a plate.

As an added bonus, they're a lot cheaper than those plastic character plates they sell for the preschool set.

For more tips and advice visit Rocks in my Dryer.