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And The Song Goes
Hey mom, get off of the phone mom
Stop typing that text mom
Why can't you just talk to me intead of picking up mom
That incoming call, mom?

As we hit the holiday weekend, lots of people will be out traveling. Here is a friendly reminder from your kids, to put the phone down, pay attention to the road and talk to them instead.

The song comes from Jamie Broza's latest album, I Want A Dog! Check out the video:

For more info go to http://goodmoodrecords.com/

Full Lyrics:

Hey mom
Get off of the phone mom
Stop typing that text mom
Why can't you just talk to me intead of picking up mom
That incoming call, mom?
Turn that phone off, while your driving me
Turn that phone off, while your driving me

Each day I get out of school
Wait outside for mom
Pretty soon she drives up in her car
I jump inside and tell her all about
My busy day but then I look up,
She's heard nothing, so I say "Hey Dude, that's so rude"

Hey mom
Get off of the phone mom
Stop typing that text mom
Why can't you just talk to me intead of picking up mom
That incoming call, mom?
Turn that phone off, while your driving me
Turn that phone off, while your driving me

I play on my school's soccer team
After school each day
We practice or sometimes have a game
Yesterday I broke away and scored the winning goal
But when I looked up,
Dad had missed it, so I had to shout, "Time Out!"

Hey dad
Get off of the phone dad
Stop typing that text dad
Why can't you just talk to me intead of picking up mom
That incoming call, dad?
Turn that phone off, while your driving me
Turn that phone off, while your driving me

One time we were in the car
Heading for New York
For my birthday, we would see a show
My dad was on the phone, talking to his boss, about a deal
When we almost got hit! By a truck! But he Missed!
What luck! Holy Smokes! So I threw a fit, “That's it!”

Hey dad (AND MOM)
Get off of the phone dad (AND MOM)
Stop typing that text dad (AND MOM)
Why can't you just talk to me intead of picking up mom (AND MOM)
That incoming call, dad? (AND MOM)
Turn that phone off, while your driving me
Turn that phone off, while your driving me
Turn that phone off, while your driving me

© 2010 Elliot Music Co. Inc.,

I used to joke to people that I'm allergic to everything, and now, sadly it's getting closer to reality.  A few weeks ago, the right side of my face blew up like a puffer fish.  It began as a tingly sensation on my top right lip and before you knew it, I had a full allergic reaction to something.  Even with 4 full doses of Benadryl, the swelling had barely come down. I made an appointment with my general doc as my allergist was booked for the day. "Yep, allergic reaction. Here's a script for Prednisone. Call me if the swelling doesn't go away or gets worse."

Now, I'm all for modern or "Western" medicine. It has done a lot of great things for my kid and her myriad of health issues and I have benefitted from much of it as well. However, there comes a point when you need to look for alternatives.  The day of my reaction, my neighbor happened to come over to tell me all about the great acupunturist she had met through a networking group. It's funny how things happen like that.

When I first met with Meg, she immediately did a blood test for food allergies that was sent off to a company in Seattle.  We did a full-on acupuncture treament as well.  The only needles that were uncomfortable were the ones placed on my hands and feet, other than that, I really felt nothing.  She did a lot of work that day around my eyes and head because I had come in with a pounding headache.  I left with no headache and was quite happy.

At the second meeting, I received the results of my food allergy tests.  100% Dairy. Oh and egg whites, soy, cod and asparagus.  I can give up the asparagus and the cod, soy I can do without, but egg whites and dairy seem to be in everything.  Because of the strong results of the Dairy allergy, I'm supposed to go cold turkey for 6 months. Eventually she'd like me to steer completely clear of egg whites as well, but that will be a slower process.

It has only been 7 days since the Dairy diagnosis and it has been a case of trial and error.  I have found that I enjoy Almond Milk much more than Coconut Milk.  I found myself craving grilled cheese the other day when I NEVER crave grilled cheese.  I drooled over my husband's frozen pizza while I ate peanut butter and jelly.  I bought a dairy-free creamer for my coffee that didn't totally make me gag AND I had a lemon ice at Culver's while my hubby and daughter enjoyed their custard. 

There have been slip-ups as well. I couldn't resist the homemade whipped cream that I put together for Strawberry Shortcake on the 4th of July.  I also forgot that Pesto contains Parmesan Cheese and I had that for dinner the other night.  It's obviously a work in progress!

I haven't noticed much of a change in the way I feel, but I'm confident this has to do something good for me. I'm tired of being tired all the time. I'm sick of having to take so many different allergy meds just to make it through the day and I'm really tired of being allergic to everything.  Hopefully my next update on the Dairy-Free challenge will be filled with good news. Until then, I'll go back to craving grilled cheese.

Scoot Mom Scoot!

Remember how easy it was to lose those pounds after having babies?  Yeah, me neither. But I am trying to get in shape.  And though he is well-meaning, it doesn't help that my oldest is a total believer of every commercial he sees.  "Hey Mom look at this commercial...you can lose 10 pounds in two weeks.  Is that what you need?"
So a friend from work mentioned this running program called From the Couch to 5K.  I was mainly intrigued by the couch part.  It’s basically  a graduated running program.  I'm certainly not trying to run a 5K. But I am trying to get off the couch more.
Admittedly, I was embarrassed to start running.  It really isn't a good visual.  In my younger years I had this great stride and was carefree.  Now I take small steps, and I'm nervous to step on something the wrong way and twist my ankle. I imagine my neighbors watching me from inside their home and trying to describe what they see.  "No honey, she's not running. It's more like a scoot."
But it's cool because I found that there is this sort of runner's respect other runner's show me now.  Sort of like Harley riders.  Without the motorcycle.  And without the leather gear.  Okay okay.  What I mean is that other runners (I mean the ones that are really running- the non-scooters) make a point to give me a nod or say hello.  And whenever another runner acknowledges me all I can think is Cool! They think I'm one of them.
The other day three women were running in my direction. They were laughing and carrying on.  There I was hardly able to keep a steady breath, let alone speak.  Then one of them gave me a smile and a wave.  As much as I was ready to stop my run for the day I waited til they were out of my view before I came to a halt.  I didn't want them thinking they'd wasted a wave and a hello on some second rate runner.
But what is really nice is the kids want to join me. They like to ride their bikes while Mommy scoots behind them.  Seeing as how I am unable to speak and run at the same time, I came up with hand signals for stop, slow down, keep going.  I probably need one for Mommy needs oxygen but I think they'll figure that one out.

First of all, I’ve got to give it up for fellow blogger, Julie Davidson (AKA Smooth Mommy DJ) for taking the bull by the horns and running – or scooting with it as she does the Couch to 5K running program.  You go, girl!

It’s taken me thirty additional pounds and a 5K obstacle course to pry my hiney from the couch and get moving.  It was a little over a month ago that I started training for the Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run and Obstacle Course. The event is on August 20; and if you’re interested in how I’m doing with training, read on for a quick update.

It’s an Uphill Climb…Literally.  My intentions of working out at the Y were a little grand for my schedule; so my “training” is fast-walking about three miles round my neighborhood.  The first day, I felt surprisingly confident in my fitness level for the first two blocks...until I rounded the corner and went in a different direction. The sheer hilly-ness of our neighborhood hit me. Hard.  It felt like it was rock-climbing-gear-hilly those first few times, but I’ve kept at it.  In the weeks that have followed, I don’t notice the hills as much, and I’ve even felt comfortable enough to toss some jogging into the circuit.  Which brings me to my next point:

I’m my best cheerleader and worst critic.  I walk at a pretty good clip, so I figured “Why not jog?”  So I jogged for about a block, until a tiny voice inside said “What are you doing? You hate running and you know it.”  The voice wasn’t lying, that’s for sure; but my other, more supportive tiny voice countered “Yeah, I know…but I can do this. HAH – ya’ see I’m actually doing it!”  Instigator Tiny Voice came right back with “You’re getting tired. You’re losing steam – and even if you make it to the end of the block, it’s not like you’re going to do it again tomorrow.”  Then the other tiny voice shot back with some language that can’t be printed here.  “We” argued that way throughout the three miles as I jogged, fast-walked, and jogged some more.  Truth is, we still argue like that each of the four days a week that I train, which is fine because I’m getting better at telling the evil tiny voice to pipe down as I get better at this moving thing. 

It’s not all about me.  The walk/jog usually happens after everyone’s fed, and GG’s bathed and on her way to bed.  The first time I wore my exercise stuff and tucked her in, she asked where I was going.  I explained that I was going to be in a race, and that I was exercising now to make sure that I can finish the race then.  Now she's used to my routine.  In fact, one Saturday morning she disappeared into her room while I worked on the crossword and Jamie read the paper.  She later emerged, cheeks flushed and breathing a little heavy, and said “I’m doing my exercises.”

I wish I could say that GG said she was doing exercises to be like me, but that would be an out-and-out lie.  But if getting active while she’s young is GG’s take-away from my walk/jog experience, then that will trump my losing the thirty pounds that started all of this to begin with.

In the meantime, the Dirty Girl 5K is only 40 days away.  Keep checking back for updates…and wish me luck!

"Wisconsin Poncho, Dude, don't you know?" is a phrase that has been repeated by my daughter for the past couple of months thanks to Gustafer Yellowgold. Here's my review of the latest Gustafer CD/DVD Inifinity Sock from back in March. Gustafer is the brainchild of musician/illustrator Morgan Taylor and he recently took Gustafer out on tour. After they stopped in Madison last month I convinced them to stop in our not-used-very-often-studio to perform a couple songs off of Infinity Sock.

BONUS: We've got an autographed copy of Infinity Sock to giveaway to one lucky reader! Simply leave a comment saying, of the 3 songs he performed for MilwaukeeMoms.com, which one is your favorite. We'll pick a winner next Tuesday. Good luck and check out the videos of Morgan Taylor in our studio!

Special thanks for Morgan, his wife Rachel and their two kids for taking time out of their busy schedule to stop in our studio.

A handful of years ago, my beloved iMac became out of date. Not too long after that,  I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter.  

I opted out of buying a new computer and also opted not to have Internet service at home. 

Sure, I missed e-mail, iTunes, uploading photos, social networking, but I soon learned to curb my habits. And something surprising happened: with my hands full figuring out motherhood, I forgot all about my former online life. 

Last year, part of my personal budget reform was to not have cable service anymore. I was perfectly content with rabbit ears on my TV. But now my TV stopped working. No morning news, no weather, no late night crime dramas. And again, something surprising: All this time I was complaining I didn't have time to read, but now I read more. 

This week, my cell phone battery died. At least I think that's the problem. 

If you're calculating this... At home, I'm completely disconnected. No phone, no TV, no computer. No texting, no picture mail, no phone calls. It hasn't been as hard as I thought. In fact, it's been quiet. And I've had more time to play with my kids. 

My cell phone was also my alarm clock, so I've been sleeping in a little without a morning alarm telling me its time to start my day. I wake up when I'm ready (and so far, it's still been early enough) and there's a calmer rhythm to my day.

There's a calmness about being completely disconnected. And I'm starting to really, genuinely, enjoy it. That's easy to say because I know it will be short-lived. I anticipate this serenity to stop pretty quickly. I ordered a new phone battery through this thing called online shopping! Yep, a battery is on its way. 

But I'm hoping to still be able to say it was fun while it lasted. 

Hey there! How is your summer reading coming along? I just finished Children and Fire by Ursula Hegi . I enjoyed reading something just for fun for a change. Summer is good for that, isn’t it?

Are you and your children looking for some suggestions for cool summer reading picks?  Try some hot titles that the Milwaukee Public Library recommends:

For the Kids
Three Scoops and a Fig by Sara Laux Akin; Illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung
Wanting desperately to help her family prepare for the arrival of her grandparents, Sofia is continually told she is “too little” to help. Fortunately, young Sofia finds inspiration and is able to come up with the perfect treat her entire family can enjoy. Local author Sara Laux Akin mixes in some Italian words, gelato, and familial affection in this sweet tale of perseverance. (Ages 4-8)

Blackout by John Rocco
When the power goes out on a balmy summer night, the neighbors make their way up to the roof and admire the brightly shining stars usually dimmed by the city lights. The beautiful illustrations and the gentle text make for a calming read in this celebration of community and family bonding. (Ages 5-8)

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer by Megan McDonald
Judy's big plans for the summer seem ruined when two of her best friends go “Splitsville”, and then her parents head to California leaving her and Stink with Aunt Awful (Opal). Then Judy comes up with a new "thrill-a-delic" plan that has her heading for a fun-filled summer. Check out Judy Moody’s adventures in print before or after you catch her adventure on the big screen! (Ages 6-11)

The Summer of May by Cecilia Galante
After Maeve (May) is busted for a school prank, she is sentenced to a summer with her dreaded English teacher, Miss Movado. What starts out as a summer to dread ends up being exactly what May needed to confront the anger she feels towards her family since her mother walked out on them. (Ages 8-12)

Big Nate Out Loud by Lincoln Peirce
This addition to the “Big Nate” books offers up a collection of comics previously published in daily and Sunday comics. Featuring 6th grader Nate Wright, a four-and-a-half foot tall 11-year-old, Nate’s precocious charisma and penchant for trouble will have readers laughing through this collection of comics. Be sure to catch “Big Nate” in all his elements before Big Nate on a Roll comes out in August! (Ages 8-12)

Audio Books for Kids (Perfect for a road trip)

Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke; Translated by Anthea Bell; Read by Xanthe Elbrick
Despite her mother and father being magicians and her older brother being a magician-in-training, Igraine longs for the action and adventure of a knight like her great-grandfather. When the dreaded “Osmond the Greedy” lays siege on the castle to steal the magic books, Igraine’s bravery is put to the test. Elbrick’s reading will have listeners cheering for Igraine and hoping for the defeat of the fowl Osmond. (Ages 8-12)

Castle Corona by Sharon Creech; Read by Jennifer Wiltsie
Sharon Creech weaves a winding tale worthy of a “wordsmith”, full of intrigue, mystery, orphans, and royalty. The narrator’s soothing voice and tone will carry readers to another time and another kingdom. (Ages 8-12)

For You

Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer (fiction)
Set against a beautiful Nantucket summer, this page-turning new novel explores the corrosive consequences of secrets, and the undeniable power of love.

One Summer by David Baldacci (fiction)
Struggling to rebuild their family’s lives, Jack reunites everyone at his wife’s childhood home on the oceanfront in South Carolina. And there, over one unforgettable summer, Jack will begin to learn to love again, and he and his children will learn how to become a family once more.

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (fiction)
Devastated after discovering the shocking truth about her mother and father, Joy flees to China to find a new life (and her real father)—and Pearl, realizing what has happened, sets out for Mao’s China, resolved to find her daughter.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (mystery)
Harry Hole investigates the disappearance of a woman whose scarf is found on a mysteriously built snowman, a case that is complicated by subsequent abductions and a menacing letter.

Feel like grilling tonight? I recommend this book—I’ve tried several of the recipes and they have been fantastic. Jamie and Bobby sure are a chip off their mom’s block!

The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up: Grilling, Tailgating, Picnicking, and More by Jamie Deen, Bobby Deen and Melissa Clark
For fans of Paula Deen and her well-known sons, enjoy more than 100 all new mouthwatering recipes and entertaining ideas for outdoor gatherings.

Fresh off his appearance at the ESPY Awards--
Aaron Rodgers: Leader of the Pack by Rob Reischel
This book tells Packers fans everything they need to know about the leader of their favorite team. From his days as an undersized freshman at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, California, to being named Super Bowl MVP, Rodgers' story is sure to both inspire and entertain.

For more reading suggestions visit our website at www.mpl.org

Happy Reading!

Life gets blurry

When the boys were babies I recall having a bathing schedule. I think we bathed them three or four times a week. Somewhere between them being two and seven years old we kinda got soft on that schedule. I’m not proud of that-just being honest.

They love taking baths ‘cause they like to play in the tub and sit in there forever. That’s exactly why we prefer them to take showers. But it’s like pulling teeth to get them to shower. About a month ago the boys had a friend over after soccer practice. When his Mom came to pick him up I told Max it was time to shower and he defiantly replied, “Again? I just took a shower two weeks ago!” I didn’t even want to look the other Mother in the face. Yeah…time to get back to that schedule.

Earlier this week when Max begged to take a bath I let him. We’d been on vacation and there was a good chance he’d picked up a fair amount of dirt between here and the Grand Canyon. No sooner did he hop in the tub then we could hear him swishing that water around. My husband told him to keep the water in the tub. More swishing. “What are you doing in there?” I yelled from the other room. “I’m getting cleaned up”, he said.

Later that night my I could hear my husband grumble from the bathroom. The kind of grumble that tells me to brace myself for bad news. Water (murky water) was backed up in the tub. He’s not a plumber, but he knew immediately that something must have gone down the drain. He tried Drano. Didn’t work. He tried to snake the drain. Nope. Then he tried talking to the kid. He asked Max what he did with the washcloth he used. Max said he wasn’t sure. That answer didn’t change much over the next 24 hours. Neither did the standing water in the tub.

Finally, I asked Max if he put the washcloth down the drain.  He looked and me and said, “I don’t know. Maybe, but I can’t be sure because Dad put bubbles in the water for me. Things were kinda blurry.”

I could tell he was being honest. And I really love the “blurry” part. I mean how many times have we come across situations in life when things aren’t clear. Marriage. Going back to school. Buying a home. Taking a new job. Dealing with health issues. The list is practically endless. Who knows. Maybe life is one big blurry spot with a few clear moments in between.

It Is TIME...almost

I love the opening scenes of The Lion King.  The African drums throbbing in time to the Swahili chorus, all the animals of the plains gathered together to greet the newborn cub Simba, until Rafiki, the all-wise mandrill solemnly hisses the grand announcement: “It is T-i-i-i-i-i-me!”  It gave me chills the first time I saw it; and I was hanging on those words with excitement, waiting to see what would come next …but truthfully, hearing him say it like that kind of scared me too.

Fast forward to my nonfiction, non-Disney life.  In about mid-June, my kitchen table welcomed my return home from work with the day’s mail, just like it always does; but this time there was an envelope from GG’s school addressed to “The Parents of GG Fritsch.” (Cue African drums)  I figured that it was a Vacation Bible School invitation or something harmless, so I opened it and scanned through the salutation. “Hope your summer’s going well, blah blah blah…Third Grade Supplies List.”  I might’ve screamed a little, I’m not sure.  What I do know is that I stopped reading the letter immediately, filed it away and haven’t revisited it since.

Then two weeks ago on an unrelated  trip to Target, (Cue Swahili Chorus) a huge sign screamed out “BACK TO SCHOOL” and arrows pointed me toward backpacks, school uniforms and other Fall-related things that I don’t even want to think about.  My cart instinctively tried to steer me to the displays, but I fought it, went to the cleaning supplies aisle, got my stuff, checked out and went home unscathed.

In my continuing quest to prove to myself that we are indeed having the never-ending summer, I scanned GG’s day camp calendar last Friday…only to realize that there are roughly six weeks until school starts. You heard me. Six. Short. Weeks.   (Cue the elephants’ trumpeting and the giraffes’ – um, whatever sounds giraffes make)

But then again, the first day of school is six weeks away, not six days.  And you know what?  I don’t think I’ll be doing anything back-to-school related until Rafiki knocks on my door with Baby Simba lifted heavenward and I hear those exciting, scary words.

 Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 ways to get your kids to drink more water

If you're a busy parent like me, you might find yourself slugging coffee all day. On these ridiculously hot and humid days, you might cool off with some iced coffee. Turns out water might be a better choice— I recently read that water can pep you up better than a cup of coffee. I haven't tested or tried that method because I can see my morning going smoother with one hand tied behind my back than without my morning coffee fix.

That said, I still drink a lot of water, but I realized I had to get creative to beat out the appeal of a juice box for my daughter.  Here's what made water the drink of choice for my kids:

10. Creative ice cubes. Half water, half juice makes for great color cube that tastes just as good. Or freeze a blueberry in each cube. Or try those ice cube trays that are fun shapes, like stars, instead of your ordinary rectangle.

9. Fruity water. Toss a splash of 100% juice or fruit nectar in juice for added color and flavor.

8. Fancy water. Lemon and lime are standard water complements, but try cucumber, mint or strawberry slices in the water cup. Be sure to garnish with a slice of fruit on the rim of the glass.

7. Sparkling water. When you crave some carbonation, try a seltzer. This was how we initially made the transition from juice to water. Be warned, however, that you might encounter this scene, as I did with my 2-year-old: At a restaurant, my daughter took a sip of the water our server poured her. "Mom," she said sternly, "This water NOT sparkling."

6. Water bottles. My kids picked out their own water bottles that we keep filled—and within reach all day. Creative tip: While Eden (age 1) likes a stainless steel bottle with ladybugs, Anika (age 3) loves a plain plastic one that she colored with permanent marker. 

5. Pitcher or jug. Have water pitcher or jug in the fridge for cold water. Anika loves to pour it from a jug with a spout that she picked out from the store. She has made it her self-designated job to pour everyone a cup of water while she sets the table for dinner. Bonus: When her little sister knocks over her water, Anika is overeager to clean it and refill the cup.

4. Water-rich foods. Add plenty of water-rich food to your diet. Sure, watermelon is a natural pick in the summer, but tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant do the trick, too. In a pinch, popsicles count, too.

3. Glass treatment. "Fancy" glasses, plastic or glass, can be reserved for water. Wine glasses can be fun fun, but my kids love their plastic Halloween stemware all year long.

2. Make it a treat. Whether it's in a special cup or at a special time, treat a glass of water like a super special treat. Watch your kids' attitude change when you talk about water like it's an ice cream cone. Be sure to praise their healthy choice.

1. Drink it yourself. Don't expect your kids to choose a water if you're sipping an ice-cold Coke. Your kids watch, and eventually emulate, your every move. 

Did I miss anything? Tell me your best tip for you or your family. Cheers!

Don't Forget About You!

Is it just me or have you noticed a lot of women are getting the running bug? 5k’s and 10k’s are very popular these days.

I was blown away by a FB status update from one of my friends recently. She had done a triathlon including a ½ mile swim, 14 mile bike ride, and 3.5 mile run. Under twohours. After a 20 year hiatus.

Hmmmm….20 years ago I was partying like a rock star. My diet consisted of Mountain Dew and cheap, greasy fast food. I smoked cigarettes, drank whiskey, and stayed up super late. Then I met my husband. Then I tried to undo the damage from 20 years ago and then I got pregnant. Now 20 years later, I’m still trying to undo the rock star party damage plus all that stuff that happens to your body after having kids.

I’m not sure why my friend took a break from running and triathlons. But I know a lot of friends who took a break because they had kids. It totally makes sense. But after staying home and watching Barney until you literally see purple, you want to go to a movie-at a theater with adults. After wearing clothes that are made almost completely of stretchy material, we want outfits that look fashionable and show off our waistline   After seemingly endless nights of rocking a wee one to sleep, we reserve the right to go to bed before the kids if we want.

You give up a lot when you have kids. But it was our choice. We signed up for it, even if we didn’t read all the fine print. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on doing the things we’d like to do. I’m thinking we and our kids are better off for it.

I commented on my friends’ FB page saying I thought she was amazing. She wrote back inviting me to join her next year. I told her I’d skip all the sweaty stuff. Instead I’d drive the whole distance and be done in ten minutes. That would give me an hour an fifty minutes to check out a movie, and meet her at the finish line!

Food for Thought

No one likes to think of themselves as a complainer or a whiner – especially me, but yet, that’s what I was in mid-May.  The last day of school was quickly approaching and neither Jamie nor I had done too much in the way of finding summer childcare for GG.  My emotions were running the gamut from worry over the additional cost, to guilt over having to shuttle my kid off someplace else while I worked, to frustration over the fact that neither one of us had struck the lotto or was born independently wealthy.  Like a lot of parents, I was also juggling work stuff too.  It seemed as though the number of meetings were increasing along with the pressure to raise funds for my agency’s programs; and like a lot of parents, I continued to juggle all of it.

One of the meetings I attended back then on behalf of IMPACT – the agency for whom I work -- was a planning meeting for Hunger Task Force’s free summer meals for kids program.  We partner with Hunger Task Force in the program by connecting the families who need our help finding free meals for their kids with providers.  It was raining on the day of that first meeting, and on my way there, I was frustrated with Jamie because he hadn’t answered my text about a possibility for GG’s summer care.  On top of that, as I got out of the car, I got blasted by a wind gust and spray of rain.  And it was a bad – no -- horrible hair day.  Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper when I walked in the door.

At the table were Hunger Task Force staff, along with representatives from MPS’ Rec Program, Salvation Army, West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, Heartlove Place, Milwaukee Center for Independence and other nonprofits that I can’t remember at the moment.  They were all energetic and upbeat, and as different as the organizations were, they were all determined to do one thing:  Make sure that kids didn’t go hungry over the summer. 

The group met around three or four times in the weeks to come; and I learned a lot sitting at that table:

Struggling, hungry families don’t just live in the inner city.   There are meal sites in West Allis, Cudahy, Wauwatosa and other places where you wouldn’t think hunger exists.

Making sure kids get fed is bigger than just feeding kids.  Hungry parents often bring their kids to meal sites – not looking to get fed – but making sure that their kids do. 

There’s a lot behind those green “FREE SUMMER MEALS FOR KIDS” signs that you see in front of provider sites.  All sites have correct supervision, storage facilities and cooperation from the surrounding neighborhood as well. 

I needed to get myself in check.  Sure, the cost of summer childcare is a bit of a stressor, but we can tighten our belts and pay for it.  Sure, I feel guilty about having to work and send GG to childcare, but both Jamie and I are employed – and we’ve never felt helplessly guilty because GG was going hungry and we couldn’t do anything about it.

Every now and then, I guess I just need a tangible reminder of how blessed we are and a kick in the hiney to help those who aren't.  Juggling that additional meeting was just the kick I needed.

Food for Thought

1 out of every 4 kids in Milwaukee is poor. Think of it like this: if your child had a birthday party and twenty kids attended, most likely five of the kids singing happy birthday to your child is probably struggling with hunger in their home.

More and more families are being hit hard by unemployment and need help from community programs.  Think of it like this: Remember the conversation you had in passing about your neighbor who was laid off?  They could be wondering how to put food on the table.

These are the families that need the help of places like Hunger Task Force and IMPACT 2-1-1.  Click on the links above if you need help or know someone that does.  And if you don’t need help, I hope this little blog post can be your kick in the hiney to lend a hand to the struggling people you may encounter or to the organizations that are helping them.

Click here to read more about it in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.

Guess what? In 12 days, my Audrey will be 6 and you know how I know that? Because she reminds me about 10 times a day.  The birthday countdown started in June but at that time she was counting down by weeks. Finally at 21 days, we started the day countdown and I'm pretty sure once we hit July 31, she's going to start counting the hours.

Each year we have chosen a birthday theme and this year a "Carnival Theme" was suggested.  I really liked that idea because for the past 3 years I've dealt only with princesses, mermaids, and flowers.  We have her birthday parties at our house since I can't justify having a summer birthday party at another location.

We'll have sack races, homemade popcorn, sno-cones and (I can NOT believe I am allowing this) a Cotton Candy Machine.  This is the first time I have ever rented something for a party, but cotton candy seems to fit perfectly with a carnival.  I'm just wondering what I'm going to stick a candle in. She doesn't eat cake; pretty sure a candle won't stand upright in cotton candy.

There will be no clowns or magicians as I think clowns are creepy and I don't know if her giggly group of girlfriends would appreciate the magician.  She asked me if I thought Big Time Rush could come and sing for her at her party. Once she understood that her parents are indeed, not made out of money, she seemed content to just play silly games and eat delicious treats.

It's strange to think that we've been having these parties for 6 years now and even though that's such a short amount of time, they have changed so much.  That first birthday party was such a big deal that everyone and their sister was invited.  The next two birthdays were just family and a few close family friends. Then she started having little friend parties along with a family party and now, as she meets more kids her age, it's all about the friend party.

The gift ideas have changed too. Last year she received 3 Barbie Mermaids and a few Ariel dolls from friends and quite a few things for her Disney collection from us. This year she has asked for a reading chair for her bedroom and crafts and books.  How can I argue with that?

It's only a matter of time before she starts asking for and attending sleepover parties. Then, before I know it, there will be a time when she no longer wants a birthday party because she'll be too cool for one. I shudder thinking about those days, because even though I complain about the parties being a lot of work, I truly enjoy watching her and her friends having fun.  And this year, the extra fun will be watching those said children hop into their parent's car with a belly full of popcorn and cotton candy and knowing they'll sleep good that night.

Always an Adventure!

The day of our big vacation I got an email update from the airline stating that our flight from Minneapolis to Denver was delayed. Nice. We weren’t even on the first leg of the trip and already it was a game of “hurry up and wait.”

“Holy S#@t!!! Our plane is delayed but that’s not all. We just heard a loud noise and the captain said we are on backup! I thought getting my period yesterday was bad.” That was a portion of a frenzied text reply I sent my brother who was already in CO waiting for our arrival.

The flight from Milwaukee to Minneapolis was only about 40 minutes, but 15 minutes into the flight we heard a loud bang. It was one of those what the heck was that kind of banging noises. I looked across the aisle to my husband who motioned with his hands to stay calm. While I was working on being calm the Captain came over the loud speaker. “Folks we’ve had some engine problems. We are now on the reserve engine.” What the….? I was so freaked out that honestly I’m not even sure what he said after that. I suppose it was something about how everything was fine and no need to panic.. Before I could digest this new found information he’s back on the loud speaker. “It looks like everything is going smoothly considering the engine issue. But just as a precaution we’ve asked the Minneapolis Fire Department to meet us at the airport upon arrival.” After that I kept looking out the window and checking out the long stretches of highway and corn fields, thinking  we could land there…that looks good

My husband and I decided not to tell the boys what was going on. They were having a ball, looking at the clouds and thinking of all the adventures that would await them on the rest of the trip. There was no way I could explain that there was a slight chance we’d have to make an emergency landing. I would have rather told them the tooth fairy wasn’t real or that Santa retired.

Naturally our trip was an adventure. It was beautiful and scary at the same time. There was a raft trip that made me realize how strong the Colorado River is, and why driving is my preferred mode of transportation. There was a shiny Momma moose that stared us down so hard we decided it was best not to even glimpse at her cute mooslings or whatever they’re called. There was a dog bite and 2 Black Widow sightings. And canyons so beautiful I knew we had to be within inches of Heaven, but so high I could barley look down. 

We’re all in one piece. Maybe it’s just that parental nervousness that takes us away momentarily from the place we’re supposed to be. But even when things don’t go the way we planned, it makes for some great memories and story telling. And the kids are beginning to see that they can make it through adversity. Now when things get tough my husband and I say, “Suck it up. We lost and engine. We can get through this.”

Honey Bread with Dark Chocolate topping is a tradition in some Latin American countries. Considered a comfort food, locals can find it in almost all bakeries, and serve it throughout the year. Our version has a veggie twist: beets and carrots! Very delicious, healthy and decadent! Here is the recipe:

Honey Bread with Dark Chocolate Topping

Servings: Makes a 9x12 inches pan

- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole whet flour
- 1/2 cup beets, shredded finely
- 1/2 cup carrots, shredded finely
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbs cocoa powder
- 1 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 tbs butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp baking powder

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Pour into a greased 9 x 12 inch (22 x 30 cm) baking pan and bake in a preheated 325F (160C) oven for about 20 minutes, or until done (test with a toothpick).
When cool, cut into 2 inch (5 cm) squares and cover with the chocolate.

70% Dark Chocolate Topping:

- 70% dark chocolate bars or chips for baking.

Place coarsely chopped 70% dark chocolate, or dark chocolate chips for baking, in a microwave-safe container and microwave at MEDIUM (50 percent power) for 1 1/2 to 4 minutes, until the chocolate turns shiny. Remove the container from the microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted.
Cover the bread with the chocolate paste while still warm.

For more information on Healthy Living and Eco-Friendly Parenting, logon to www.EcoLogicalMom.com

Losing the first tooth is a momentous occasion for kids and parents alike.  Jamie and I reveled in it, especially because GG’s our only child and we knew that this was the beginning of a phase that we'd only experience once.  After the tooth was pulled, we patted GG on the back for her bravery and hyped up the Tooth Fairy.  She was anxious for the Tooth Fairy's visit and even asked to go to bed early.  We found a few shiny quarters and devised a plan to swap tooth for coins.  It worked like a charm and she was ecstatic the next morning.  After that, the baby teeth came out in rapid fire and it seemed like every other week, a new gap emerged.  It was a fun phase, although I clearly remember the Tooth Fairy nearly forgetting to contribute to the college fund on more than a couple of nights.

With the loss of the last baby tooth, I had the Tooth Fairy write a congratulatory letter to GG about losing her last tooth, how she’s growing up and how proud the Tooth Fairy was of her.  As fun as it had been, I honestly can’t say that I’ll miss staying up extra late to play cloak & dagger games to finagle a tooth from under the pillow of a sleeping child in a pitch black room and replace it with cash. 

Those times seemed like ages ago; but then last week, I hear: “Mom…my tooth feels like it’s a little wiggly when I do this” as she touched it and moved it around.  Seriously? Didn’t we just go through this?  I thought we were done.  I replied with the most practical statement I could muster at the moment: “Then don’t do that.”  Genius.

She went on, “I don’t know…it’s kind of weird, isn’t it?  I mean, the Tooth Fairy left me that letter and everything.”  Why the heck did I write that stupid letter. Maybe if I say nothing and look busy, she’ll drop it, right?  Wrong.  She wouldn’t let it go that easily and continued.  “Like, she wrote that letter, and said it was my last tooth…”  That bleeping letter.  Now GG had latched onto the topic like a Pit Bull.

“unless…unless, YOU wrote the letter.”

GASP!  O.  My.  Word.  She totally called me out!  And that’s when my mouth got ahead of my brain and I blurted out (kind of indignantly):

“Well, it’s not like the Tooth Fairy is a dentist or anything.”

Seriously...So now I'm defending the Tooth Fairy's lack of credentials? Sigh.

She gave me a Okay-Crazy-Lady-Who’s-Really-the-Tooth-Fairy look and finally dropped the subject.  I cringed and retreated – wounded -- back to my corner, realizing that if she can get me this good at eight years old, then I’m in for a very bumpy ride.

You're doing a great job!

I’ve recently connected with a woman through my blogging. That’s the cool part about technology. You can be in touch with someone instantly. But the cooler part is finding a common bond with that person. And I recently have with this woman.

She responded to one of my blogs about trying to run again. Turns out she is a stay at home Mom who used to do triathlons. She was inspired my efforts to get running. But she was frustrated that her level of running wasn’t what it had been previous to having kids.

In one email to me she thanked me for writing to her. She commented how isolating it can feel staying at home. Oh how I recall those days. I felt that I was out of every loop I had ever been in. In the beginning, it was as if my every move was dictated by my baby. When I ate and slept, how much I ate and slept. It all depended on that tiny little being wanting me for virtually every need.

And it can seem like the to-do list never ends. When I stayed at home I wondered if I was doing a good job. There were no coworkers to ask how to do this. And who gives you that big promotion? I felt as if every creative asset I had once had was gone. I thought that sweatpants were totally in fashion. Or I was too tired to care. Girl’s night was on perpetual hold. I was grateful just to be able to chat with y best friend in five minute increments throughout the week. It felt like a toss up. I could do either my hair or makeup, but rarely both. Puke laundry became a regular part of the routine. If mold wasn’t creeping along the baseboards the house was clean enough.

We don’t have kids so other people can tell us what a fabulous job we are doing. But it sure feels good to have someone tell us that. A little validation goes a long way. If you know of someone who is Mom, let them know you think they are doing a great job. But please don’t say one word about their sweatpants.

While my birthday was just two days ago, I'm still not calling myself one year older. No, it has nothing to do with age or numbers, but it has everything to do with the day itself. I'm calling a  do-over. I'm rescheduling my birthday, as well as all the hoopla that goes around it. 

I had planned to write my birthday post, and talk about my personal traditions. It was going to be reflective and serene. That—like everything else this week— didn't work out.

I'll start with last week: My phone battery and car died in the same 24 hours. And my children and I came down with strep throat. Again. And that was only Monday. 

I got antibiotics, a new phone and a new car. And I prayed for an easier week to come.

We were just about healthy as the next week started, just in time to bring the new car in for repairs on Tuesday. I tried to stay on track with the birthday week activities and be a glass-half-full person. The girls and I had a fun park play day, as planned. When we were getting ready for bed I noticed Eden had 3 mosquito bites on her arm, but I didn't worry about it. 

On Wednesday, Eden was at daycare for an hour when she got sent home covered head to toe in red spots. Even though she's up-to-date on her vaccinations, it sure looked like chicken pox. 

The doctor wasn't completely convinced it was chicken pox; she said to wait 24 hours and see how it progressed. I stayed home on my birthday with a fussy baby all day and a screaming baby all night. I knew it was getting worse. 

After a night of fussy children, I won't even mention how I also somehow overlooked that I ran out of coffee. More tired than ever, with no caffeine in sight, I started to get a Plan B together for a contagious chicken pox child when the kids were waking up. Eden's skin was clear. Not a spot on her!

We went along with our obligations for the day, but still skipped all the fun birthday stuff to get to bed early. 

Today, I'm pretty thankful it's Friday. We may or may not make our plans after work, or for the weekend even. We're taking this week day by day, hour by hour. But one thing is certain, we're trying this whole birthday thing again next week. 

There are so many food recalls lately, it is really hard to keep track of the most important ones. For this reason, FoodSafety.gov has an updated list at your fingertips. Just click on the link below and you'll have access to federal food safety information. Also, you can set up automatic alerts.

FoodSafety.gov - list of recent recalls
Set up automatic alerts via e-mail or mobile phone

For more information on healthy living and eco-friendly parenting, please logon to EcoLogicalMom.com

Is it hot in here?

A few months ago I woke up in the middle of the night. I was hot. Like burning from the inside out hot. Like I’d been working out hot. But I hadn’t been working out. I had been enjoying deep sleep until I was so rudely awakened by my hotness. No…unfortunately not hotness like Beyonce or Kate Moss. I’m talking flushed, damp, sweaty hot. Nice visual, huh?

Looking for relief, I kicked off the sheets. No relief there. I turned on the fan. Still hot. Finally, convinced that I had a fever, I dragged my butt out of bed and took my temperature. Exactly 98.6 degrees.

Then I couldn’t sleep, so I did what any wide awake gotta-know-what –is-wrong-with-me-now wife would do. I got back in bed and drove my husband crazy. “Is it warm in here? Do you think the heat is too high?” I asked, waking him up from what was probably a perfectly good night’s sleep. I kept placing my hand on his back looking to see if he had some cool spots. Ahhh…he feels perfect, I thought.

At some point it was suggested that I was having a hot flash. Hot flash? Oh man. Those are reserved for ladies going through menopause, right? I’ve got young kids. I couldn’t be going through menopause. I simply don’t have the time. You know? I have more important things to do.

So the next day, still reeling from the “hot” episode I decided to get to the bottom of things. Yeah, I should have called the Doctor. Instead, I Goolged “Symptoms of Menopause”. Holy….I couldn’t believe it. I’m thinking there’s gonna be like five symptoms. Wrong. The list I found had thirty-five symptoms. That’s five plus thirty! I thought my sweaty legs (or “swegs” as the young interns at work hipped me to) were bad. This list had things I’d never imagined, like “changes in fingernails, itchy, crawly, skin.” How about “disturbing memory lapses, and dry vagina.” Dry vagina? Oh but that’s okay, I might work that out via the “ increased incontinence.”

Obviously, I made a wrong turn by searching the web. But I do remember after giving birth feeling like I could do anything. I’m praying there’s a kernel of truth to that, because if this menopause list is even close to accurate, I’m expecting everything!

Itchy. Crawley. Skin. Really?