Thursday, March 25, 2010

Molten Lava Cake

The other evening, while I was trying to relax and just thanking God for some quiet time while Noah was upstairs with his Dad, my little foodie came running up to me, screaming excitedly.  (Did I just jinx myself?  Bye-bye quiet time).  He was rushing, almost breathless and when he stood close to me, he said, "Mommy, I want chocolate cake!"  Now where the heck is this coming from??  So I asked, "Did you see chocolate cake on tv?"  He admitted he just saw Scooby eating cake.  *SIGH*  I knew it!  And of course I knew it, because I'm very suggestible like that myself.  How could I be naive as to expect my son to be any different, right? 

So, feeling much empathy for Noah (and I bet deep down I wanted a chocolate fix myself!), I gave in to the incessant demand and tried to think of what I can come up with given my pantry supplies.  I didn't want to go for an instant cake mix as I knew it wouldn't satisfy me.  I wanted something gooey and really chocolatey but didn't have a brownie mix in the pantry.  Then I decided to pull out my copy of Paula Deen's Chocolate Lava Cake recipe and was very pleased to see that I had all the ingredients on hand.  In less than 30minutes, Noah and I were both in chocolate heaven.  The only thing I didn't follow from the recipe was the addition of the orange liqueur.  We don't have that so I skipped it but it still turned out amazing!

So to all you chocoholics, here's a good and VERY EASY one!  You probably only need no more than 3 'bites'/'scoops' and you'll be ready to walk away.  I think it's too much to actually finish an entire ramekin of this recipe. That's how seriously decadent this is.  And it's not so much as sweet as it is chocolatey so it's not for the fainthearted.  

Here are some pictures of what I made.  The middle part will be soft and everything will ooze out when you cut through.  If you need to refrigerate left-overs, I've found that heating them in the microwave for about 30 seconds will make the middle part gooey again.  If you heat them up for too long, you won't get the gooey middle as it will all harden.  Click here for the recipe.  


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Simple Wisdom

I just recently realized that, apparently, in our home, there are only two general emotions.  When Noah does something 'disagreeable' and I end up morphing into a monster in some way or another, expect him to say with much apprehension, "You mad, Mommy?"  The interesting thing is, when you answer 'no' to that question, what he'll say next is, "You happy??"  

It's either mad or happy.  "You mad?....you happy?", is what you'll often hear Noah ask us when we seem upset.  I've been very tempted to explain to him that there are far more complicated emotions than those two such as anxious/worried, sad/depressed, excited, confused, proud, embarrassed, surprised, disappointed, indifferent, and many other combinations, some of which humanity probably hasn't accurately labelled as of yet.  But a part of me wants to keep it simple for him too.  Yes, he's aware of the words 'sad', 'disappointed', and 'worried' (most especially 'worry', I'm sure) so it's not like I'm limiting his vocabulary.  It's just that sometimes I wonder how life would be like if we really only had those two emotions.  Of course I've wondered too why to Noah it's just those two things but obviously the answer is because those are the two strongest ones, the two most detectable ones he often sees us experience.  

Actually, if you think about it, it's really not as simple as it seems because being 'mad'/angry as they say is symptomatic of pain; that people who are angry are really, deep down, in pain.  So, I guess when Noah says what he says (or should I say, asks what he asks), we're not just confined to two simple emotions, anger and happiness, but also hurt/pain and therefore, sadness.  That being said, I wonder if Noah could be on to something here (and I'm really having this eureka moment right now as I write).  


Isn't it true that when  we're other than 'happy', we are experiencing some degree of pain in our being?  When we are worried, afraid, mortified or anxious about something, isn't that a painful experience somehow?  Doesn't fear cause some degree of anguish, especially in terms of our mental state? When we are disappointed, isn't that also pain, an injury to an expectation we have set?  When we are embarrassed, isn't that when our egos are bruised and hurting somehow?  Perhaps it is true that every perceivable emotion is rooted in either happiness or pain, either a state of feeling whole and content or a state of injury and incompletion.  


It would be interesting, to say the least, to assess at the end of the day how we've been in terms of these two states of being.  At the end of each day, are you happy, whole?  Or do you feel some pain, some feeling of injury somewhere, somehow?  I know some of you would say it's far more complicated than this and that I'm over simplifying things.  Am I?  Or maybe we've been unnecessarily complicating things all this time instead of just going to the basics.  Picture yourself asking just that question at the end of the day.  If you answered 'pain' instead of 'happiness', doesn't that make you want to ask yourself more what the source of your pain or injury is?  And if so, doesn't it make you want to do something about it to change it?  


Doesn't it also make you want to give a different answer the next time you ask yourself the question?  If you were feeling some degree of pain or injury but know in your heart that it's not overwhelming enough to disregard the numerous pockets of happiness you've experienced during the course of the day, won't it make more sense to claim happiness?  Won't it make more sense to choose to view your cup as half-full, rather than half-empty?  Either way, whether confronting the question makes you look deeper within and change something to make you more whole and content, or makes you overlook the minor bumps and humps and claim fullness and happiness instead of pain and discontent, this 'oversimplification' seems good and worth giving it a shot.


If only for that, if only for the potential to either become more self-aware in a simpler manner or be braver in claiming happiness for ourselves at the end of each day, then it would be fair to consider Noah's innocent question  as truly priceless.


So, ask away.....You mad?....You happy?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Uh-oh...Somebody's Mad...

If I were a phrase and my name was 'poor judgment', I'd be very upset...no, no...fuming mad right now.  This has got to be one, if not the most over-used excuse or explanation these days for committing infidelity.  'It's because of my poor judgment that I've brought pain to my wife and family and I am the only one to blame', is what we always hear from these public figures who have been caught cheating on their spouses.  I heard it from Jon Gosselin's mouth, now hearing it from Jesse James' as he pseudo-admits to cheating on Sandra Bullock, and I would bet at some point Tiger Woods and all those cheating politicians uttered the same.

I've come to believe that 'poor judgment' has become all but a diplomatic way of saying 'I freely chose to think using something other than my brain and again chose to be selfish and myopic to see only what I wanted at the moment and not see the consequences of my actions and to top it all off, was stupid enough to get caught.'  One good thing from the use of this phrase though, is that at least it implies that there was some form of thought process prior to the indiscretion.  I hate it when I hear people say "I wasn't thinking" and then throwing into the mix the "It just happened" claim, as if poof!....there it was and some magical, invincible force was involved and an out-of-body experience occurred.  Puh-leaaazzzzze........At the very least, 'poor judgment' implies that choices were present, evaluated (somehow), and then chosen.  And that's the key to why personally, infidelity is such a non-negotiable for me in my relationship.  If my partner cheated on me, he chose someone else over me, for whatever reason.  Him choosing to cheat is choosing to hurt me and our family.  Him choosing to cheat completely tells me that he chose deception over truth. And what kind of relationship can thrive if not planted in truth?  From a fully selfish perspective, what kind of person will I become or do you make me to be if you give me anything less than the truth?...truth about you, me, us, what we have, what we've built, what's ahead.  Deceiving me is an insult to my intellect more than anything else and  that is an unacceptable injury for me.  Deceiving me is dishonoring me, so how can I think lightly of that?

I know some of you are thinking right now that it's just easy for me to say this because it hasn't happened to me and that once it happens, my feelings might change, especially since I have a child to think of.  Point taken.  In the same breath though I know that I know myself too well to be certain that I am not into 'sharing', I am extremely territorial, and that I don't need any more potential sources of paranoia to push me over the edge of sanity. It's precisely because I have a child to think of and protect, that my sanity and peace of mind are of utmost importance.  That and I have too much pride to take being insulted and have my boundaries crossed.  

Now don't get me wrong here.  I'm not trying to speak from a 'holier-than-thou' place.  I know that people cheat and have affairs for various reasons too complicated sometimes for any of us to judge.  I am not condoning the choice and the act either...obviously.  There is no question in my mind that in my belief, being unfaithful to your partner and breaking your commitment to each other is wrong based on our current moral standards. (I'm clearly not being a post-modernist in this respect but I'm sure post-modernists will respect my personal stance....or so I hope.)  It's just that it irks me when some cheaters make it out to be something else.  Some sugar-coat it and call it 'recklessness', others call it 'a moment of weakness'. Some call it 'sickness' or 'uncontrollable impulse', while others say it's 'darkness, evil taking over'. This is a free country and you can call it any name you like.  Heck, you can call it a 'blessing in disguise' for all I care. Just don't make it out to be anything other than what it truly is.....narcissism and most definitely a solid deal breaker for me.   

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Autism and Dentistry

One of the blogs I follow is 'Pediatric Dentistry' by Dr. Dean Brandon.  I've always found his site very informative and just recently, he published an article about how treatments are generally done when the patient has autism. I don't have a special needs child but was happy to have the knowledge about the topic as I had often wondered about it myself.  

I appreciate how Dr.Brandon conveyed the message that these special needs patients aren't much different from other patients, although at times, depending on the need, some sedative medications may need to be administered.  At the end of the article, I smiled when he wrote that for the most part, it's the parents that get more stressed out from the whole process, rather than the children themselves. 

I was really able to relate to that since a lot of times, AJ and some of my other friends point out to me how stressed out I get just worrying about Noah's behavior (which is just typical toddler behavior at that!) .  I mean, think of how many times we, as parents, have over-anticipated the 'sssshhhh-ing' in Church, as we do our best to keep our kids well-behaved and completely quiet.  The funny thing is that sometimes, AJ and I actually make even more noise telling Noah to keep quiet which aggravates the whole matter.  Think, too, how many times you've imagined the judgmental looks and stares while you try to control your child while you shop in the supermarket or spend some time in the library?You have to agree with me that those thoughts of embarrassment and unsolicited attention are far more stressful than the actual effort of simply making sure that our children are safe and not acting inappropriately.  I've always been told that I need to give other people more credit when it comes to feeling empathy and being considerate of adults with toddlers/babies.  I need to relax and let go a little bit because frankly, just being with a toddler who has all the energy and curiosity in the world is tiring enough.  I need to know that the world is still a kind place where people can be a bit more understanding of others who seem to be having a tough day as well, maybe even tougher at times.  It's simply common humanity and we all need to rely on just that, sometimes.

Anyway, let me stop babbling here and give you a link to that article.  I hope that this will help parents who have special needs children, as well as the rest of us who just need to understand a little bit more.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Facebook Diet 3 Weeks Later

I have been doing so well, not exceeding my 2hour per week facebook time limit, until Saturday night happened.  Like most dieters I suppose, there are slips to be expected.  And I slipped.  Like a typical hungry dieter, I got greedy on Saturday night, while home alone, nobody looking....so predictable, isn't it?  I knew exactly how much I should only consume but I got too engrossed, lost track, gave in to my appetite and clicked and clicked and clicked away.

I was checking out my farm on Farmville and thought, 'Hmm, let me harvest a little'.  But then I should've known better that these games just don't work that way!  Before I knew it, I was obsessing over my trees that were begging to be harvested, and my animals that needed to be milked or groomed or whatever. It's insane!  And yes, the greedy part really kicked in when I convinced myself that I don't need that much time to receive and open gifts sent by my farmville neighbors.  Oh how silly of me!  It was VERY tempting to go on and on and put my farm back in its original state of order and charm (according to me, of course!) but fortunately, self-control finally kicked in and I stopped clicking and shut down my computer.  I literally had to fold my laptop just as someone who's been standing by the refrigerator for a long time, grazing (or over-grazing, I should say), would slam the fridge door shut!  

I checked the clock and wrote down on my notebook just how much time I've consumed.  So I'm here, reporting to you that for this past week, I exceeded my two-hour limit by 18 precious minutes.  I do feel some remorse but not discouragement.  I intend to take hold of the reins once again and march forward. Continue to wish me luck because I must admit that it's getting harder and harder.  Pride and greed are beginning to really seep in, especially when I see how I've seriously gone down in ranking in both Farmville and Cafe World.  I get sad and utterly tempted to throw this sacrifice out the window.  But then I remind myself why I'm doing this and realize that this is nothing compared to other people's sacrifices....compared to our Lord's sacrifice.   

So let's hope temptation takes a hiatus or something....yeah right!  You wish! I just have to flex my self-control muscles some more and control my appetite.  Oh dear, now I'm screwed......

On to week four.........

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mommy Break

Tonight is a big night and it’s making me excited almost beyond words…almost.


The Pacquiao-Clottey fight airs on pay per view (PPV) tonight live from Texas and I’m certain boxing fans worldwide are geared up for it, especially Filipinos.  I won’t go much into Pacquiao’s/Pacman’s background and ‘awesomeness’ since I’m sure you either already know about it or can easily get the information somewhere else online.  I will point out, however, that the magic of Pacman is strong enough not only in bringing people together in social gatherings during fight night, but also in terms of promoting national unity,  if only for one night.  It has been said that during Pacman’s fight nights, no crime is committed in the Philippines and that some kind of ceasefire happens between the rebels and the military.  Now if that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is!

Pacman night is like the Filipino Super Bowl.  It calls for some sort of gathering, mostly of testosterones (and may I remind you that both sexes possess testosterone), and you don’t necessarily have to be a huge boxing fanatic to be present.  It’s safe to say that as long as you’re Filipino possessing some fiber of Filipino sentiment in your body, then you will most likely care about the fight and its results.  Unlike the Super Bowl though, and typical of most Filipino gatherings, expect more than just beer, chips and dip.  Menus may vary but I assure you that there will be a lot more food than your typical American party.  It always is the case.  What can I say?  We love to eat and eat well!

I don’t want to mislead you though into thinking that the reason I’m excited is because I want to watch the fight.  I’m actually not a boxing fan.  I don’t derive pleasure from watching people hit each other and spit out blood in between.  I just get tired either squinting the whole time or trying to cover my eyes when the big blows come, and I have to admit that having my ass twitch for the duration of the fight is not my idea of fun.  I care about the results of the fight though and am totally rooting for Pacman.  I am very Filipino, after all.  But AJ letting me know about the results and describing some highlights to me always suffice.  I can also check out some good video clips online days after and I’ve always been fine with that.

My excitement about the fight night is really more selfish than anything else.  You see for me, fight nights translate to alone time.  Oh goodness, just typing those two words bring me such ecstasy!  When AJ gets an invitation, mostly from family, to watch Pacman’s fights via PPV television, I always hope that it’s one where Noah can tag along so that both boys are out of the house for the night.  Isn’t that wonderful?  For a few priceless hours, I can totally relax and be responsible only for myself.  No one to entertain and play with, put to bed, give out reminders to, watch over and argue with.  It’s a well-deserved and much desired ME TIME. 

I can watch whatever t.v. show or DVD I want.  I can be on my netbook if I choose to, without a tiny pair of hands insisting on pounding on my keyboard, messing up my work in the process.  I can catch up on my magazine readings and lessen my guilt over keeping our subscriptions.  I can maybe pick up a book I started reading months ago.  I can just vegetate.  This doesn’t sound fun to some people and one may argue that going out and being social is more rewarding.  I have one thing to say to that. ---- I don’t care.  Call me anti-social all you want but this is me….the one that loves to stay at home and thinks that there’s no better relaxing form of entertainment than being in my head.  That’s kind of hard to do when you’re being attentive to someone, or worse, forcing yourself to listen to someone and feign empathy.  And who will disagree with me when I say that being in your pajamas with your au naturel face and hair definitely beat trying to find a good-enough outfit that will flatter your body that’s been wishing it would shrink to 4 sizes smaller and also spending at least 30 minutes just to conquer yet another bad hair day that seemed to have lasted for a year now???

Well, I’m sure someone out there is probably disagreeing with me now but again, I don’t care.  I am an exhausted person, wife and mother, who needs a break from being responsible for other people for a change.  I believe, especially as a parent, we all need that break time and again.  It’s so easy to define ourselves as ‘parents’ all the time, feeling that we have totally morphed into these super responsible and totally mature, all-about-the-super-ego human beings.  But it’s unrealistic to try to be that all the time.  We all need a breather and be reminded of how it was when life was simpler; when there was no one else to worry about and care for than our selves; when there was no one else to nurture and no one else more important than who we are.  Sounds selfish?  Yes.  Is it wrong?  No.  Whoever spread the belief that selfishness is an absolute negative is an absolute moron.  It’s only commonsense to take care and feed oneself first before having the capability to extend yourself and what you have to others.  What value can be shared if you are worthless to begin with? 

So, good luck and I wish you much success, Manny Pacquiao!  And thank you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my exhausted body for giving me another fight night hibernation time.  

Joy here, signing out......................................................................................................................................

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Finding A Preschool



I reached another 'Mommy milestone' yesterday and I still haven’t decided how to feel about it.  Yesterday, I brought Noah to one of his prospective preschools to observe the classes and tour the facility.  I had mixed feelings about it, almost like I was the one attending my very first school.  I was excited and nervous and panicky and sad, thinking that this is it....my boy is indeed 'grown' and needs to be let out into the bigger world.  Let me say though, that I was very impressed with Noah and was so proud of how behaved he was the entire time.  Prior to getting out of our car, I reminded him to just hold my hand and be quiet as I would be speaking with 'the lady' to get information about the school.  I repeatedly reminded him that he shouldn't interrupt and just listen to 'the lady'.  He did exactly just that.  The one time he had to let go of my hand since he had to take off his jacket and hat, he just stayed and hovered around me, instead of wandering off.  I was really so proud of him...still am, actually!

I kept thinking of this documentary film I saw once on HBO, “Nursery University”, which tackled the insanely competitive world of applying for certain nursery schools in NY.  Seriously, watching that film made it seem as if nursery/preschool application was almost as stressful and life-defining as applying at an Ivy league institution.  It made me feel so sorry for those children whose parents were too high-strung and had an undeniably high sense of entitlement.  I can only imagine the future pressures and unrealistic expectations that those children will be exposed to all their lives.  How can anyone not feel sorry for that? 

I know I should’ve just shut it out of my consciousness.  I kept telling myself that this is just preschool and that this is not an upscale NY community, such as what was featured in the film.  I also kept praying that parents in our town are way less neurotic than those ultra-competitive ones in the documentary.  It will be alright, Joy.  This is just preschool, you do have options and the world will not end if your son doesn’t get accepted in your first choice.  He will still grow up normal and have a shot at success in the world.

Now, I know that telling myself those things probably already put me in the neurotic category that I was so very carefully avoiding.  But I have to admit…I was slightly paranoid and probably over-thought the whole thing.  For one, I made sure I was properly dressed…not too shabby and not too intimidating either.  Just effortlessly stylish, yet comfortable.  I also made sure I put forward my friendly side, as well as putting across my ‘relaxed’ desire to get my son in the program without seeming overly eager and borderline obnoxious.  I probably put to work every bit of knowledge I have about impression management….unnecessarily.

Fortunately, I left the building realizing that it was the school that needed my approval and not the other way around.  Yes there is a lottery involved given the number of yearly applicants they have, but the bottom line is that ultimately, it is my decision as the parent that truly counts.  I think some parents lose sight of that.  It’s very important to know, REALLY know, that reputation is not enough when selecting your child’s future school.  I will not dispute that track record counts.  But track record does not say anything about the degree of fit between that school and your child’s (and your family’s) attributes.  A school even labeled as the ‘best’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for your child and for you, your family.

I’m just now fully realizing that a preschool search is serious business.  You need to invest a lot of your time doing research.  You need to ask around, go online, make several phone calls and if the facility permits it (which ideally, they should), do unannounced visits.  A good place to start, in my opinion, is to utilize your town’s resources such as your public library.  In our case, our public library hosted a Preschool Fair early during the year where parents were allowed to meet different representatives from the preschools in the area.  A word of caution though…Be prepared for some information overload so make sure you bring a lot of paper, a reliable pen and an envelope or bag where you can stuff all the flyers and brochures that you will end up collecting by the end of the event.  It also helps to have a list of questions you need to ask or items you need clarified by the different schools, such as teacher-student ratio, policies on being toilet trained, curriculum, etc.  The most value I got from attending the said fair was that I was able to get a ‘feel’ of the different institutions even before actually going to their facility.  In my view, this is invaluable.  Never underestimate the connection you feel when you speak with the representatives.  Although you also have to make sure that they are not just well-trained sales people and that you are being gullible about the whole thing.  Keep an objective mind and trust your hunches.  In our case, I eliminated from my list those institutions whose representatives acted as if they couldn’t care less about my questions and did not really give me the time of day to even try to ‘sell’ me their school.  Arrogance is not exactly a turn-on for me.  I also felt wary towards the overly-eager and annoyingly bubbly representatives.  On the other end of the spectrum, I was equally turned off by those who seemed as if they were begging for a dose of caffeine or a ray of sunshine.  If you’re making me sleepy and bored and cannot even hold my attention, how can I expect you to be interesting to a 3year old?  To make the long story short, I believe that if I don’t like your vibe, there’s something there to be trusted.  Don’t ever disregard your hunches.
 
More or less, the following are the main questions that we considered important to ask in finding a preschool for our 3-year old:

·         What are the class hours?  You have to make sure it will work with your child’s daily routine. (e.g. Does it not start too early such that your child will always end up late given his waking up time in the morning?  Does it not conflict with his nap time?)

·         What is the curriculum like?  How are the days broken up into different activities?  What are the main goals (academic, social/behavioral) to be achieved at the end of the school year? (e.g. to learn all the letters, numbers, shapes, colors, days of the week, name recognition, writing ones name, etc.)

·         Is it truly a preschool or more of a daycare?  How much structure is there during class hours?  (We found that some of the organizations that were present during the preschool fair were actually more like daycare centers where they mainly babysit your child, and provide ‘some form of structured learning’.)

·         What are the costs?  What are the fees like?  Is there a payment schedule or are you expected to pay in full?  Are there discounts provided for residents of the area?

·         What is the teacher-to-student ratio?  Most preschools adhere to the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) recommendation of 1:8 (for 3yr olds) or 1:10 (for 4yr olds).  Policies may vary per state.

·         What are the credentials of the teachers?  Do they at least hold an Associate’s Degree in education or a related field?  Are they CPR trained and certified?

·         What are the school’s health and safety policies?  How strict are they about monitoring who picks up the children at the end of the day?  Is the building safe and not too open to the public such that anyone can just enter?  What are their policies for food/snacks?  Is it a peanut-free environment (for those with allergies)?  Are snacks required to be ‘healthy’ / nutritious, or is junk food allowed?

·         What are the toilet-training requirements?  Most if not all preschools would require your child to be ‘fully toilet-trained’.  What is their definition of this?  Is it just a matter of knowing when to go, or the child being able to clean up himself?  How do they address ‘accidents’?  Do they have a ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ policy?  How flexible are they?  This information will definitely help you prepare and train your preschooler before starting school, if you still have the time.

·         Are the administrators and teachers open to the idea of unannounced visits prior to registration?  I would definitely stay away from schools that don’t encourage this.  It just makes me ask myself if they are hiding something.  It’s very important that you, as parent/guardian, get a feel of how the ‘natural’ environment is like and observe the teachers and students in action.  This will further help you determine the degree of fit between your child’s nature (abilities and temperament) and the school.

·         How far is the school from your home?  Is it a distance you are willing to travel or is it too inconvenient?

·         When you visit and observe, ask yourself how the children are.  Do they seem happy and content?  Or are they bored, stressed out or unchallenged?  Is everybody busy with something or are some of the children left idle and just left wandering around?  Can you happily and contently picture your own child in that same environment?

·         Does the school allow ‘active’ time for the children per session?  Children need to be active and need to burn energy.  They need to be given even just a few minutes everyday / every school session to play around and move about freely.

·         Finally, ask yourself what your own priorities and objectives are given this developmental stage of your child.  Do they coincide with the school’s philosophy?  Are the things you wish for your child to learn taught by the school, whether formally or informally?

In the end, the age-old adage "the more you know, the less you understand" applies.  You can research all you want but let me assure you that you will get overwhelmed at some point and more confused.  Stick to the basics. What are the things most important to you?  There is probably no perfect preschool out there.  One will be too messy, the other too suspiciously clean and organized.  Some teachers would seem too uncomfortably bubbly for your taste, while some would scare you a bit.  One would be too far for your driving comfort on a daily basis, while the closer one might be too expensive. You will never run out of reasons not to take the plunge.  So I say, just stick to what is most important.....healthy social interaction / informal socialization, health and safety, well-being, basic learnings that are age-appropriate, and affordability.  To me, it's those things. For now, it's those things.  Let kindergarten and concerns about Noah's SAT or ACT scores, and worries of whether or not he will be adequately prepared for entrance to the University of Chicago, Harvard, Yale or the London School of Economics be for another time.  

Right now, he is an only child who needs more exposure to a diverse group of children his age, needs a bit of a simulation of kindergarten or the formal, more structured institution of education and of course SOME academic preparation (translate: letters, shapes, colors, and numbers, which I can also very well teach him / expose him to). Those are my criteria...for now.....
  

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kids' Outfit Hangers

**Previously posted at the Page-Manuel family site, but I'm in the process of revising said site**



Did you ever wonder what to do with those outfit hangers you've accumulated while your child was growing up?  



We get them all the time either directly from our purchases from the store or through gifts.  I don't particularly like them since I always hang tops and bottoms separately so that I can easily see them and have the liberty to mix and match.  Well, I'd like to share a great way to re-use these hangers, in case you're still contemplating on getting rid of them.

If my family is anything like yours, the last few minutes before stepping out the door, in cold weather particularly, can get a bit stressful.  That's about the time everyone goes frantic looking for their hats and gloves.  Hopefully, this system would help your family as it has helped ours.

    

You can keep it to just one hat and a pair of gloves, or hang additional hats with strings or loops on the stem and neck of the hanger.  


We prefer these hangers instead of the skirt or trouser ones with clips because these ones are easier and safer for the child's hands/fingers.  
Noah can just pull his hat and gloves himself and also put them back without needing assistance and no risk of getting his fingers pinched.
                                                                                                                                                                                    




Friday, March 5, 2010

Design Diva

Let it now be known that I am a HUGE Sarah Richardson fan.  If you haven't heard of her, she's a well-known Canadian designer whose show "Sarah's House" currently airs on HGTV.  I also used to watch her on the Fine Living Channel when she had "Room Service".  I thought before she was just someone I enjoyed watching given that she has never disappointed me when the final reveals of the rooms were shown.  Little did I know that an obsession was growing.

I am obsessed with her (in a wholesome way, of course) and have said before that if reincarnation were indeed possible, I would want to be reincarnated as her.  I love both her design and fashion sense, her wit and air of approachability.  Though I can neither have her body build (which would've been cool considering I adore her outfits), nor her facial bone structure to allow me to sport her face-framing bob cut, I would like to think that I can garner some 'Sarah points' in the wit and approachability departments. However, I still deeply wish I possessed even a fraction of her design 'instinct'.  I am jealous of her, of how effortlessly creative she appears.  I was also both happy, but even more jealous and a bit resentful when I found out that not only does she own a number of businesses, have television shows, awards and is just simply crazy busy with her highly successful career, she is also married and a mother of two young girls! What??!!!  She says her family comes first but she remains deeply passionate with her career in design.  Now, how can I not want to be reincarnated as her after all that???  

Seriously though, these are the words I associate with her design style:  bright and light; muted colors; uses bright colors mostly as accents, uses them only sparingly; elegant but livable; doable; very tasteful and nothing over-the-top; contemporary with just a hint of country; light greens, blues, grays, warmer tones of whites; tranquil; airy; comfortable; minimalist but warm.  Speaking from the olfactory side of me, I'd say that looking at the rooms she designs makes you smell fresh laundry...nothing sharp or too strong....only a gentle, comforting, clean scent that makes you want to linger. My foodie side would have to say that looking at her designs conjures up images of a perfectly warm hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows in them; nothing too sweet or heavy, but perfectly, seriously chocolatey, smooth with just a hint of that bittersweet goodness that warms even your soul.  Texturally, I can only say that her room designs make you feel like you're sliding your hands over (at least) an 800 thread count bed sheet, so soft and smooth that it will just pull you in and make you want to curl up and have the best sleep of your life.


http://www.sarahrichardsondesign.com
Master Bedroom Design   Nursery Design
Bathroom Design
Tween Bedroom Design

Laundry Room Design

Office Design    Family Room Design


Sarah, let me thank you for whenever I see your room designs, you allow me, even for just one brief moment in my hectic and chaotic daily life, to enjoy one deep, relaxing **SIGH**.  I also have to thank you for inspiring me to work on my own spaces here at home.  Our projects are endless.  We have a garage to organize and a basement to finish.  We have bathrooms to redesign as well.  At least though, the kitchen is 'kind of, sort of' almost done.  And thinking / looking back, I think the Sarah in me (and in AJ) was at work when we selected our color palette.

Take a look at our 'Before' and 'After'----

Our old kitchen cabinets with the traditional honey oak color and predictable white walls


                              
old stove when we first moved in with the old side cabinets and all the mess



sink area with microwave sitting on top of the laminate counter tops, and the old dishwasher 
   
And our Partial Reveal ---

  
The glass tiles we selected for our backsplash (browns, taupes, light green and light buttery yellow)



The 'almost' perfect reveal, if not for the hanging rags....oh well.....
White cabinets with modern looking handles, all from Ikea; white stove with the microwave hood;  black granite counter tops with specks of green to blend with both the cabinets and the wall color



 Minus the hanging rags  :-)


We're clearly far from completely finished, and that's the exciting part!  We still have a few more projects left for me to unleash the Sarah in me!  Wish me luck!  I promise to post and update as more DIY projects get done!  What about you?  Have you thought about your design inspirations and inclinations?  What's your next project??? I'd love to hear about it.