Thursday, February 26, 2015

Police Birthday Party

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The Headlines:

My son wanted a Police Birthday Party.

Enough said.

First of all, I want everyone to know I realize this post is like a late night act waiting to happen.  "DIY Police Birthday Party" - I can hear the jokes now - but this was no laughing matter.  When your 3 year old says he wants a police party - even after you suggest a baseball party - then guess what?  You're having a Police Birthday!

Selfishly, a baseball party was the way I wanted to go.  The colors, the cuteness factor, the food could be so easy.  But pulling off a police party...?  Not as simple.  How did we do it?  Referring to the picture above, we did not commit a criminal act or fake a 911 call at the height of good times.  More on that coming up.  But first, my theory on kid parties:  have as many as you can when they're young because it's creating a memory they may have for a lifetime.  They're only little once, as I wrote earlier this week.  If you're feeling nostalgic for the years gone by you can read it HERE.  It just seems like I had him yesterday... y'know?

Anyways here we go: every good party starts with the invite.  I really need to get a new style but I've latched on to this one the last few years because it's so easy!  I get cards and add an appropriate sticker to the front.

Then I print my own inserts and attach them with cool sticky tape.

Make your words funny and appropriate to keep in line with the theme of the party as pictured above.

Next step, figure out the cake.  I always think: what's the easiest thing to make that will fit in with my theme?  This year, the badge seemed the way to go.  As I always do, I "arrange" my cake.  It's not as hard as making it from scratch but looks just as home-made plus it's less dough than a bakery.  Ha!  So I buy a flat sheet cake at the store, pick it up, cut, arrange, frost and decorate it.  Here, I had 2 half sheets of white cake.  I made the frosting.  This is the yummy (like to-die-for), easy peezy recipe:

This is what you need:
1 cup butter, softened
2 tspns vanilla
1/4 tspn salt
32 oz powdered sugar
6-10 tblspns of milk

This is what you do: Beat first 3 ingredients with mixer until creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, alternating with 1 tblspn of milk at a time, until all is blended and smooth.  DO NOT refrigerate.  I made this the day before, stuck it in the fridge, then took it out to use it.  Oops.  It gets too hard.  I had to "thaw" it out.  Rookie mistake.  Not a baker, am I!  

TIP: always double a frosting recipe.  You never have enough.  The more, the better... you can use it afterward for graham crackers or make any treat more fun! 

Then we, actually BP (the husband), cut the shape... and I frosted it.  "HPD stands for Hudson Police Department"

Of course, when you frost do a "crumb layer" - it looks super messy - place it in fridge for at least an hour and then come back and frost it again with a last, thin layer.  Looks much better.  And here's the key to cool looking frosting.  Rather than adding food coloring to it... I just buy this stuff.

It's basically a colored frosting mist which you spray on and it's beautiful!!!!  Not to mention, so much easier than food coloring.  It's made by Wilton's and you can get it HERE - this link will take you to Amazon - free shipping!  See the soft color it makes?  Gorge.  Loooooooove this stuff.  And of course they have it in all sorts of shades, not just silver!

Honestly, my cakes never look perfectly coiffed but I like that better.  I hate the fondant cakes that look too perfect (and frankly taste weird)... mine are always a little "shabby chicy" looking - just my style!

Next up, activities... when kids arrived we gave out Detective "badges" which I found at the Dollar Tree... they're on-line HERE though a bit over priced -when you consider I got them at the DOLLAR Tree!
Here's a closer look.

then we played games.  Now, for 4 year olds, 3-4 things to do, besides cake and ice cream for a 2 hour party is more than enough.  I decided on:

Catch the Criminal 
(fun name for hide and seek - the hiders got to wear mustaches)

Target Practice
(we used play guns and aimed for a target in backyard)

The Detective Dance 
(which was just a fun name for freeze dance - yep that's me leading it below)

I was also thinking about doing an art project with fingerprints.  Or "Pin the handcuffs on the Prisoner" but I got too busy... I also, to be honest... was really crossing my fingers for the big event...  which actually happened.  

The Police came!  No, not to break up the party but to BE the Party!

People we're pretty surprised as I kept it mum to most since I wasn't sure it was going to happen.  As you can imagine, police officers are busy.  But if people happen to behave on the day of your party... they may have a little extra time.  So here's what you do: contact whatever police or sheriff's department oversees the city where you live...  most now have a Community Relations position.  But if the town's too small, they may not.  But either way, do some research and find out who's the right person to ask.  Just remember, the answer is always no unless you ask.  The time of the party is also key.  Sunday afternoon works.  Saturday night would not.  Once you call, they won't make any promises but in my case the emails went to the right people and bottom line, they came.  I can NOT tell you how awesome it was... I cried when they got there, it was like I was seeing ROCK STARS!  And the kids were in awe as much as me!

They got to look and sit in the officers 2 cars.  They brought stickers for everyone and a little goody bag for the birthday boy.  It was, by far, the highlight of the entire party.  Yes, sadly, way better than my Detective dancing!

But always have back-up plans because, clearly, it's never a sure thing.

We had this party from 2-4 in the afternoon.  Because it wasn't lunch or dinner I decided to just do yummy snacks.  Sticking with the theme of the party we had to serve this

The "coffee" was colored lemonade.  I just mixed a bunch of food coloring to make it look blackish/brown and put it in a coffee pot!

But after that I was pretty stuck.  What is "Police Food" anyways?  So I just made a sign that said "Break Room" and served what I wanted. Of course there was kid food like chips and fruit but then I added some more "sophisticated" dips for adults.

I have to tell you the 3 dips I made, came out FABULOUS and I got them all from other bloggers.  They were a Hoagie dip, a Cobb dip and Pizza dip!

The first, pictured above (just barely).  I forgot to take pictures since I was so slammed.  That was the Hoagie Dip and basically it's a deconstructed sandwich.  Meaning, only the insides.  Therefore, you spoon what you want on a piece of bread.  I loved the idea and it was very tasty... find Blogger Theresa Greco's recipe at "Food Hunter's Guide"  HERE - sidenote she's a fellow Arizonan!

Next, was a Cobb dip with bleu cheese, iceberg lettuce and bacon that was incredible!  Not great kid food but this was for the adults.  This creation was Blogger Cathy Trochelman's from "Lemon Tree Dwelling" and you can find it HERE !

Finally, and I'm saving the best for last... was the Pizza dip  by "Closet Cooking" Blogger Kevin Lynch.  This one, is very kid friendly obviously, and it was awesome! Same premise as before, it's basically a pizza without the crust.  You scoop it with bread.  I emailed Lynch and he said it's one of his most popular recipes of all time.  I get why... my Mom, who is pickier than me by the way, gobbled it up!  You can find it HERE... I will definitely be making that and the others again.

That's a wrap people.  I did make this silly sign.  I realize the contradiction - whose side is he one anyways?  But I thought it was cute...

My "colors" were black and white but you could also do navy blue and white.  I did goody bags, which I also forgot to take pictures of... they had black and white pencils in them, fake mustaches and red licorice.  For the record, I never look at Pinterest or Google for party ideas... the reason?  I want to come up with my own stuff.  Anyone can copy (I do it all the time - highest form of flattery after all) but I do like to come up with my own stuff first.  So once you decide on your party theme, think!  You never know what lies beneath that adorable hair cut of yours?   Then, hit as many Pinterest buttons as you wish!

One last thing, this post contains two affiliate Amazon links.  That means if you happen to click on them and buy the products, I'll get a very very very small percentage of the sale, at no additional cost to you.  I'm trying to save for next years party!  ;)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"I Had You Just Yesterday..."

The Headlines:

My son turned 4 a couple weeks ago...

It went way too fast.

There are short little terms for the stages we go through in life...  you know them, we all do.  Newborn.  Baby.  Toddler.  Little boy/girl.  Big boy/girl.  Preteen.  Teenager.  Man/Woman.  Husband/Wife.  Father/Mother.  Grandpa/Grandma.  We hear and say them all the time.  In one word, you can signal to the world where you're at... and just as fast as those phrases roll off your tongue ... do the stages seem to flutter away.

My son was born at the end of January - four brief years ago.  He's now up to the stage of little boy but as I look back on those four short years I wonder how we even got here...?  How did they fly by at the speed of light?

It's as if I'd like to take each day by the neck and just hold it... for a moment so we could all catch up!  I promise myself all the time that I will enjoy everything but that's hard.  I want to live very purposefully but then I have to make breakfast, return emails, drive kids to dance and baseball practice.  That's not special!

Or is it?

Yes, life with our babies begins the second they land on our chests, crying and cradled for the first time.  From that moment on it's as if we're on a race track.  And every stage of life is whizzing by.


This stage is fuzzy for all of us, isn't it?  Those sleepless nights make the days confusing and weeks run together.

It's all about feeding, playing, sleeping, diapers, feeding, playing, sleeping, diapers... laundry, errands, playing, sleeping, diapers, feeding, friends and family visits, playing, sleeping... you get the drift.  Over and over.   The breast-feeding, if you choose to do it, is the only thing you talk about with anyone.  Your boobs, sadly, have never gotten so much attention.  From everyone, by the way, because their gigantic... but they also hurt - we could go on here but that's a whole other story!  Do you remember the first bath?  That was traumatizing for us... I cried harder than she did!

Speaking of... if you have a crier, like my little boy was... the sound of silence has never been so golden as in this stage of life.  It was also at this point I had back pain, lots of it.  I got massages almost weekly because I carried my babies EVERYWHERE.  To stand upright and alone was oddly fulfilling.  It's during this time that your life doesn't feel at all like your own.  Instead, there's an extension of your body because they rely on you so very much.  It's also during this period that if you're lucky enough to grab some time by yourself... it feels un-natural, dare I say, downright wrong?  I remember walking around during this alone time, looking at people pass me by, wondering in my head:  do they know I have a tiny baby at home?  Of course they didn't, nor did they care, but I did.  And while I yearned to get away... ironically, I wanted just as much to get back.

This is the stage you feel so exhausted you can't wait until it's over.  But as fast as you wish it - it will go away.  The first few months are a complete blur but so very special.  And they will never come back.  Once it's gone your newborn is a


Here, the personality starts to come out.  You begin to find yourself right along with the baby.  The smiles aren't just gas.  They're communicating with you.  Babies love to do raspberries with their mouths and sleep in the car.  They're more fun now but just as much work.  Especially if you're still breastfeeding.  Throw in pumping and forget about it.  Your life is no where near your own.  You get excited about all the "firsts":  Rolling over, eating new foods, those giggles - a tooth!  And what about that first word?  When you hear Mom (or Mamamamamama) for the first time - it makes it all worth it.

Then they crawl, stand and eventually walk.  Once they hit, 18 months to 2 years... that's when they start to get a little easier.  Your life has little glimmers of its old self.  Yes, the goal here is hopefully, at the end of this stage you will once again get a full night of sleep.  And, if you choose, drink wine on multiple nights of the week.  That is when life begins to regain a sense of balance and it feels amazing.

But also depressing.

When the baby stage is over - it too is gone for good.  Unless you have another (which is why I think some of us do, at this point)!  We already miss it.  While it was so completely consuming it was also liberating at the same time.  So we yearn for more - we can't get enough.


This is when Mom and child get out more.  You go to the park, shop on short excursions, enroll them in "Little Gym," go to the library or attempt church more often.  Perhaps even go out for dinner here and there.  But let's not forget it's also when their little bodies are on overdrive.  They want to do everything, go everywhere, learn, move, talk and explore.  You, as their parent get to experience the world with a new appreciation.  You see it through fresh eyes and you're in awe of the splendor.  It's here where you get to remember the potential of a blank slate: the joy of the taste of ice cream, the fright of a man named Santa Claus and the interest in a body of water.  The toddler makes new friends and has no enemies.  Mom is Queen and Dad is King and life is simple yet divine.

It's in this stage where the real "fun" begins.  The naps end, the tantrums start and the whining gets out of control.  They're saying sentences and you can understand, most of, the words.  The other ones are so cute you don't want to correct them anyway.  They're actually listening to the stories now at night as the crib is put away and snuggling in their bed begins.  Breast feeding is now officially over and there are 5 babysitters in your contact list.  The crying, when you leave the house for the night, has stopped (if it took that long - as it did with my second child) - and balance has officially settled in.

Little Boy/Girl

It is now that an era has ended.  Mourning (for me at least) begins.  The "little-ness" is gone.  The naps you used to long for are now just long gone.  It is in this stage they are speaking in full, very clear sentences, explaining emotions, having conversations and asking intelligent questions.  I can barely carry my now 4 year old as he's almost half my weight.  This is the stage we are currently in with my son and it has gone way too fast.  He is going to pre-school and becoming much more independent.  They're so impressionable in this stage.  Everyday he is "modeling" himself after moms/dads/grams and gramps.  See what I mean in this very short video below... he's carrying his own I phone (it doesn't dial - it's one of our old ones).

He also talks about getting married and being a dad all the time.  His personality is fully forming and while he's a little boy - it feels much more likes he's a little man.  He rides his scooter, bikes with training wheels and swims on his own - I expect him to get his driver's license next week (not really).   He's even on a T-Ball team.  Yet, he's only 4 years old.  The same age my daughter was when I had him... just yesterday.

During this stage it seems as if they barely need you anymore.  But I remind myself, they do.  I know this because as my daughter continues to climb through the stages listed above - she's 8 - and what I consider a "big girl" - yet she needs me now just as much as she needed me then.  In different ways.

Sigh...  The other day BP (the husband) told me he "couldn't wait until our son was out of the (3 point harness, big a--) car seat and into the booster."  I understood his reasoning: they're big and a pain to store, we have 2 of them, attaching them in cars and taking them out is annoying.  But I warned him, be careful what you wish for - our son will get out of that seat when's he's 5, not a day earlier.  So no more car seat means no more 4 year old.  It means kindergarten will be nipping at his heals, it means he'll need us even less and develop attitude more.  It means he will be a 5 year old and I'm just warming up to him turning 4... so let's not wish it away.

I had him just yesterday.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Reasons a Mom Turns Into a Mom-STER

The Headlines:

Sometimes the sweetest Mom can, for a brief moment, become a raging lunatic.

I call that a Mom-STER.

Girlfriends we have ALL been there.

This is why.

It happens to all of us… you wake up… completely on the right side of the day.  You know, the glass is definitely half full.  Until, something inside you snaps.  The trigger can be almost anything but it's usually related to your children.  Those little bundles, who can provide so much love and fulfillment over time, can also make you go a little insane at certain moments.  It's okay to admit.  It makes you human.  But it also makes you a Mom-STER!

I, myself, probably turn into a Mom-STER less than once a week.  But I only have 2 children.  I can't imagine how many times some women turn into a Mom-STER.  Those ladies that have 4 children or more are not only saints, but they have to become a Mom-STER at least twice a week.  I mean, I'm pretty sure that would be my average.

What exactly IS a Mom-STER?  It's a term I made up while playing with my son one day.  He wondered if there were any Monsters around... and I joked... "nope, no Monsters - just us Mom-STERS!"  But after relaying the story and explaining the definition to my friends... most agree a Mom-STER lives in their house too!

Here are 5 Common Mom-STER triggers:

Number 5  -  NOT LISTENING
This is when the Mom asks her child to do something and it just isn't happening.  This is almost every morning at my home when I ask my 4 year old son to "PUT ON YOUR CLOTHES!"  It may take him about 15 - 20 minutes of standing bare back, parading around, joking/laughing/playing before he dresses.  I would guess, most mornings I have to ask him to put on his clothes about 38 times.  I don't think I'm exaggerating.  On rare occasions, the Mom-STER appears and the task at hand is, in turn, immediately done.

Occurs when a normal mother listens, for an extended period of time, to her once peaceful children, argue.  The topic can be anything from "your leg touched me under the dinner table" to "he got more ice cream than me" to an occasional, "she's NOT SHARING!"  Whatever the argument… if the Mom-STER appears... fighting between children, at that moment, quickly ends.

It can happen either in front of people you know or complete strangers.  It's the most dangerous instances of Mom-STER rages because those who may witness it may not understand what they're seeing.  Either because A) they are not a parent themselves or B) they are NOT a parent themselves.  The Number 3 Mom-STER rage has rarely, if ever, happened to me… but I have heard of parents go through it before.  It is not pretty.  It can be frightening to outsiders.  Try to avoid this scenario if at all possible.

Number 2 -   TIME OUT TRAUMA
This Mom-STER comes out when a Mom is very clear minded-ly disciplining her children.  But it is not working.  This happened to me last Summer.  My children, wait, specifically… one of them was incredibly bad in a public setting which then carried over to the car.  I maintained the whole time (see above).  But at home the bad behavior did not subside - so it was time out time.   When that didn't work, I will be honest here, it was the first and only instance I've spanked my son.  He turned, looked and laughed at me... as if it was the funniest joke he'd ever heard.  That was when the Mom-STER came out.  I left his room and as I did I told him "you're going to bed without dinner"  -  you know - the punishment straight out of an old episode of "Leave it to Beaver?"  My sweet daughter then rushed up to me, in tears, and said she would "give up her dinner for him…" and the Mom-STER quickly left the room.  My heart melted.

Let me clear, is the most horrible instances of Mom-STER visits.  Because it usually happens for absolutely no real, valid reason at all.  It's completely the Mom-STERs own fault.   Last week my daughter was making her Valentines and when she didn't listen to instructions I struck like a rattlesnake.  She immediately started crying and stormed out.  I went to her room where she was face down in her bed with her head in her hands and I did what all real Mom-STERs have to do once in a while.  I apologized.  I hugged her, carried her and asked her for forgiveness.  She gave it to me.

Yep, sometimes even the best Moms can turn into Mom-STERS.  It's okay.  As long as the fire kids see, is extinguished as quickly as her point gets across.  For the true Mom-STER recovers quickly and whole heartedly.  She bastes in the love of her children but makes mistakes like every human being is entitled to… and in the end she becomes the loving, caring and nurturing Mom again… until the next time her blood boils from the inside out!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fake Make Caramel Brownies (w/ German Choc Cake Mix)

The Headlines:

I like to make yummy treats.

But I have no time.

This will blow your mind.

Not your day!

Plus. there's a fun "secret" ingredient in it!

About 10 years ago as I was working on the morning show on the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, AZ.  On this morning I walked into work and saw a plate of brownies.  Now, if you know the news business... you know there are treats in the newsroom a lot.  So I usually skipped the stuff.  But not on this day.  They were way too good to resist.

Can you blame me?

This time it was the interim traffic reporter who brought in some Chocolate Caramel Brownies. That plate of brownies, I'm sure of it, begged me to eat them.  And so I did.  Thank the lord in heaven because it was worth every single calorie.  Afterward, I HAD to have the recipe.  She gave it to me.  After weeks of bugging her.  Now I pass it on to you.  You can make these any time of the year... but on Valentines's Day or any special occasion it is totally in order!  Because these babies are NOT to be ignored.

The best part?  They take NO TIME TO MAKE.  If you have a spare 5 minutes (hands on time) - you're in business.  So you can get back to whatever it is that you really need to do today.  The secret here... they're made with a GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE MIX - I know crazy, huh?  These to-die-for brownies will totally seem homemade - but you faked it!

Here's what you need:

1 box of German Choc Cake mix
can of evaporated milk
2/3 cup butter
bag of 14 oz caramels
bag of chocolate chips
chopped pecans (optional)

Here's what you do:

Heat oven to 350.  Mix together cake mix, 2/3 cup melted butter, 1/3 cup eval milk and 1 cup of chopped pecans (if you choose - I didn't for our purposes because we have a nut allergy).  Then melt the caramels with 1/2 cup evaporated milk.  Take a little more than 1/2 of the cake/brownie mix you just mixed together and spread it on a buttered 9 x 13 cake pan - it will be a rather thin layer, you'll have to use your fingers and you'll be concerned but remember it's a CAKE mix so it will rise.  Then dump about 2/3 of the bag of chocolate chips over the spread.  Once the caramel is fully melted, dump that over the chocolate chips.

Then take the rest of the brownie mix and sort of place it over the top of the caramel.  This part is weird.  You won't fully cover all the caramel and you just kind of plop little pieces all over it.  Like this...

Bake it for about 22 minutes... you will freak out over how much this baby will rise in the oven (that's the cake mix people)!  Then take it out and let it cool.  After about a half an hour place it in the fridge to further cool.  They have to be really really "cooled"  to be able to cut.  Otherwise it's a chocolate/caramel mess!  Also, by this time they have fallen back down a bit to look like below.

Then just enjoy.  Sinking your teeth into these is like taking a walk on the clouds.  Cause you're in heaven!  And don't tell anyone you faked it!  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Natural Asthma Cure: Himalayan Salt Lamp

The Headlines:

My daughter has asthma.

She was taking a medication for it.

Turns out she didn't need it.

She needed this...

It's a Himalayan Salt Lamp.  

Doctors are amazing.  We need them.  They help us get better when we're sick or sad or hurt.  They're trained in areas we are not.  I am no doctor.  But I am an expert on our story.  If you need more background on that  - the story about my daughter taking a pill to help her asthma which made her depressed in the process - click HERE

It will give you the details of what led up to this point.  The point where we figured out a lamp was helping "cure" our daughter far more than any medication.  It's called a Himalayan Salt Lamp and while some, like my husband, may call it VOO-DOO... once you hear our story you may change your mind.  BP (the husband) doesn't call it voo-doo anymore.

Long story, as told in the link above, short... my daughter was diagnosed with asthma when she was about 3 years old.  She coughed.  A lot.  She took Singulair (generic Montelukast) and it made the coughing stop but, after years of taking it, I realized it also made her sad.  It took a while to figure this out since I gave it to her slowly and ramped up the medication over time.  Years actually.   About 2 months before I took her off of the medication we took a short weekend trip.  It was there, in the White Mountains of Arizona, I happened upon one of these...

While in the store we found the lamp could help asthma sufferers and I joked:  "Savannah ya got yourself a new lamp!"  But soon I wouldn't be laughing.  I could not know the large impact of such a small thing.  Not yet.

We stuck it in her room and turned it on.  It sat, rather un-spectacularly, on her dresser, across from her bed for about 2 months…

Fast forward to Fall Break when I took my daughter off the drug that was helping keep her Asthma cough at bay - and we braced ourselves.  We went to the doctor, she prescribed an inhaler, the medication to go with it... we purchased that and then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

But nothing happened.  She didn't use the inhaler at all.  She didn't NEED it!  I was very confused.  Just a little while ago, if she forgot to take her pill even just one day, she would inevitably cough.  WHY WASN'T SHE COUGHING NOW?  One night when I was taking her to bed and about to turn off the Salt Lamp... it dawned on me... maybe THIS was why she wasn't coughing?  Nothing else had changed.  I hadn't bought an air filter or cleaned the air ducts (both of which I had planned to do)... we just had this lamp on all day, everyday.  Perhaps this was her "cure"?  So I went on line and read that, for many, there's something to it.  People sware by the power of the lamp.  And now I do too.

How does it work?  The bulb inside the rock/salt creates heat which attracts moisture and through the process of evaporation the lamp emits negative ions... these negative ions then cause harmful particulates in the air to clump together and drop to the floor.  In very simple terms, it cleans the air around it.

There are those who say there's hardly enough negative ions being released from the lamp to make any difference but our experience would point in the opposite direction.  It's been 3 months since she's been off the pill and the only time she coughs, significantly, is when she's sick with a cold.  I'm convinced.  Especially when you consider we've done NOTHING ELSE different.  No dietary changes, no other medications or vitamins, at all.

We have since been to our Asthma and Allergy doctor and told him of our findings.  Guess what?  He didn't poo-poo it at all... in fact just the opposite.  He says he's not at all opposed to alternatives.  Especially if they work.

This does work for our family.  Since our discovery, I've bought 2 more and put them in my room

my son's room...

and of course it's on 24/7 in Savannah's room.  The light at night doesn't bother her.  For my sleeping purposes, I turn it off at night - just too bright.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I am not a crazy person, just a Mom trying to help her kids live the best life possible.  And it's working.  As I explained in the post first mentioned above… she's happier and healthier than she's been in a long time.  And that's all that matters to me.

Will it work for you?  I'm not sure.  Again, I am no medical professional and I know every person is different.  I can say it worked for us - my hope is it will help you too.

The bottom line is this: you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.  If you or your child suffers from asthma - buy a Himalayan Salt Lamp.  They're relatively inexpensive, especially when you compare it to the costs of pills, steroids, nebulizers and puffers... and if it works, well then, it's priceless isn't it?  You can find them through Amazon,  depending on size, they range from about $20-$35.  I've seen them actually in-store at Home Depot and I've bought some at Target.  But buy more than one if you're serious.  Put them in several places throughout your house - definitely where you spend most of your time (like your bed - or an office).

Lastly, and most importantly, I encourage you to be your own best medical advocate.  Like I said, Doctors are trained professionals... I would never pretend to know more than them.  But they aren't God.  They don't know everything and they can make mistakes.  Just like anyone.  Always keep that in mind.  Sift through the information they give you and pick and choose what's right for you.  Follow their advice, not blindly, but critically... they may know more than you about medicine - but in the end, you're the expert on you and your family!  

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Warning About Kids & Medications

The Headlines:

I gave my daughter Singulair (generic is Montelukast)

I thought I was helping her…

Turns out I was hurting her.

When you become a Mother it is a true gift.  It's a huge responsibility while, at the same time, there is a major burden on you, as the mother, to get it right.  No one becomes a Mom to make mistakes.  But inevitably, people do.

I, myself, made a huge mistake which I'm forever scarred from.  It's why I'm sharing it here.  I'm hoping this post can help someone from making the same mistake.  Or at least, make another aware of the possibilities - the impact of a small pill.

It all started when my daughter was 3 years old.  In fact, I remember it specifically because she was having a birthday party.  A birthday party she would, initially, not attend.  Instead, we had to rush her to the ER because of an uncontrollable cough.  She was put on a breathing machine, got better and discharged.  Later, it was determined she had asthma.  Doctors gave us some different options on how to handle it but in the end, especially as a young child, we decided to go with a small pink pill (4 mg) called Singulair.  The generic is called Montelukast.   Back then, it was given to her on an as-needed basis.  Very sporadically.

When they prescribed it to her they warned me it could make some kids a little crazy.  So I kept an eye out and nothing happened.  She seemed fine.  I also gave it to her so infrequently, however, that any signs of particular behavior would have been hard to see.  As the years went by her coughing got worse.  It increased.  Side note - she also has a nut and shellfish allergy (picture below shows what happens after ingesting a tiny "may contain nuts" candy).  I'm told sometimes food allergies and asthma go hand in hand.  So it was just a matter of time before her dose was increased to 5 mg.
After eating a tiny candy that said "May Contain Nuts"!
Now, let me say this… doesn't everyone want to fix their ailment by taking a small pill?  In a perfect world, we could go to a doctor's office and swallow a pill to cure cancer.  But that's not realistic.  At least not yet anyways.

So at first, I was ecstatic about the thought of a pill keeping my daughter healthy.  It was also becoming very evident that when she did not have it, like if we skipped a day, she would start coughing.  Therefore, sometime in her 6th year but closer to her 7th she started using Montelukast (Singular) daily.  Remember, she had been taking the drug 4 years now.  It had become a part of our daily routine.  So when, as a 7 year old, I noticed a change in her personality... the reason escaped me.

It's like a frog in boiling water.  Heard of that?  Put a frog in a pot of water and slowly turn up the heat.  The frog won't jump out... he'll boil to death because he doesn't even realize what's happening.  Until it's too late.

My normally happy-go-lucky, joyous daughter was no longer there.  She became less confident and more removed.  She was an unmotivated tv-watcher, who couldn't create "play" - I barely recognized her!  She wasn't connecting with friends… she was sad.  Her second grade year was a difficult one.  I watched the poor child struggle.  Overall, she did fine in school but fine was not her.  Inside, my heart was breaking.  It was so confusing.  I thought perhaps hormones were affecting her at an early age.  I even wrote a blog post on her belly - she thought it was too big.  We talked to her teacher, encouraged play dates, we tried to make things better but nothing seemed to work.

It was after she turned 8 that I went on a Girl Scout Brownie trip as a chaperone out of town for the weekend.  I almost didn't go but everything happens as it should.  The morning after we got there she had a meltdown.  Granted, the kids got no sleep and every girl had a meltdown during the weekend but hers was different.  She cried so hard she shook and she truly didn't understand why she was so upset.  No one did.  I watched as she ignored songs, clung to me and didn't relate to other little girls.  It was almost as if she couldn't be herself.  Like herself was inside her own body - lost.

Clearly, something was wrong.  I just had no idea what or why.  A couple weeks later I found out.  School in Scottsdale, Arizona was on Fall break.  One day towards the end of the vacation Savannah got sick and therefore was acting even more unmotivated than usual and she said to me:  "I'm just so sad from the inside out…"  I'll never forget those words.  I didn't hesitate, "do you feel like that often?" she replied, "sometimes, at school, I want to cry for no reason."  I knew then... we had a real problem.   It was at that point a bell went off in my head: the little pink pill.  I was sure of it!  I went on line and the official "side effects" didn't help me.  But I looked further and bumped into a few "Mom mentions" (like the one you're reading) that did.  Finally, I was on to something… my daughter needed to stop taking the little pink pill and fast.

But my worry quickly switched to the incessant asthma cough that was sure to follow.  We went to the doctor and, while she wouldn't admit it was the pill officially, she said to discontinue use and never give it to her again.  She was prescribed an inhaler and we picked up the medication for that device.   She has never used it.  That was over 3 months ago.  I now believe in an asthma cure more powerful and healthier than any pill.  The Himilayan Salt Lamp.  You can read more on that by clicking HERE.  For now I want to stick to this topic.

Today Savannah is almost back to herself.

She is happier, more excited and has fun, fresh ideas for the first time in a long time.  Her confidence is building.  I can now see my daughter again.  I can see the real her and I'm overjoyed.  There are still glimpses of the drug.  My Mom actually said to me, it's like she learned a certain way of behaving under the spell of the pill… now we have to de-program and re-teach her how to be herself again.  Makes sense to me.  We're still working on that...

In case, you're wondering: yes, I am so angry.  But not at others, just me.  I wish I saw it sooner.  I can only say because it happened over so many years and because I didn't initially give her the drug everyday - it sort of snuck up on me.  Just like the frog.  I will have to live with that… but I can also relish in the fact that my little girl was able to communicate effectively enough that she could finally identify and communicate her feelings.  I'm also thankful that I listened and didn't brush those feelings off as "typical girl" (which is easy to do when you raise a girl)!  But I will say this:  I feel guilty.  I believe my daughter was silently suffering for years and I wish I could have done something to stop it.  A mother protects her daughter(s) but somehow along the way… inadvertently but almost certainly… we end up hurting them.  That's not how it's supposed to be... but it is the way it is.

I am no doctor.  I can not tell you what to do on an official level of any kind.  But I am an expert on our story.  What happened to us was real and it was difficult.  I'm thankful for the outcome but I'd rather others not go through the turmoil.  I realize some people can take Singulair and not be effected by it in any way.  My daughter is not one of those people.  I would now caution anyone who gives their child a pill - any pill - to pay attention.  Watch closely.  See what it does and listen to your child's reactions.  Don't become ambivalent, do not let it sneak up on you and do not ignore signs.  In short, treat a medication with the seriousness one would expect and with the love your child deserves...

Please pass this on… share with friends.  Tweet.  Whatever or however you can… my goal here is to tell as many people possible about a very real experience that can have a major effect on the ones you love and protect.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Valentine's Mad Lib Downloadable

The Headlines:

Valentine's Day is for kids too!

Use this Valentine's Day Downloadable.

Made for a 3rd grade class "Friendship Party…"

So you don't have to!

Let's be clear… some adults may not like Valentine's Day but most KIDS love it.  Why? Nah, not for all the "right reasons" they just like it for the candy.  I mean, they're kids!

The other reason they like V-day: fun, creative projects.

You know, cards for class, the party at school… or maybe it's the one time of year Mom bakes!  We will be doing it all next week… and since I'm Room Mom in my daughter's 3rd grade class… I'll be helping plan the "Friendship Party."  One of my duties for that, is this:

It's a home-made Mad-Lib with conversation hearts and it's sure to be a hit!  I know, we're not the first ones to do this… and honestly, it wasn't even my idea - it was the other Room Mom!  Love her...  but I volunteered to create it because that's what I love to do - create with words!

Honestly, I would love to claim it's incredibly difficult and a skill that takes years to refine - but it's not.  Anyone with a high school degree could manage it.  So you could certainly attempt to do one yourself… or you could just use mine.  If creativity or time escapes you - USE MINE!  You'll find it at the end of this post.

Once that's downloaded and printed… buy some Conversation Hearts, sparkly glue (found at the Dollar Tree), paper plates and away you go.  Trust me, sparkly glue looks better on this type of project then just normal glue.

Put all that stuff on a paper plate and after you decide which hearts go where… slowly dip them in the glue, like this:

But take your time here because otherwise… you'll get too much glue on the underside and the candy will begin to MELT into the glue which looks like this:

not horrible… but this is preferable

Then when you're done, the whole thing will look like this:

It's cute, funny and both boys and girls will get a huge kick out of writing a LOVE note… especially in the third grade!

One Picky Chick Valentine's Mad-Lib Downloadable HERE … FYI this one does NOT say 2015…. I didn't want to date it.

Have fun!

P.S.  This is my first attempt at a "down-loadable..."  I feel like celebrating - Candy Hearts for everyone!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Valentine's Day Idea

The Headlines:

It's February 14th next weekend.

I know, you hate the holiday.

But there's a good chance the one that you're with… doesn't.

So buck up… and do this… or at least do something!

How many times have you heard this?  "I hate Valentine's Day.  It's a made-up Hallmark holiday!"  If I had a dollar for every… yea, we ALL hear it.  We get it people - you don't like the day of love.  It's not completely made up, however, there is actually an action that spurred the holiday.  I was just talking to my fellow blogger friend, Kristen Hewitt from, who wrote about its origination...  Spoiler Alert: it's the day a priest was beheaded for secretly marrying couples after an Emperor outlawed marriage for his soldiers.  Read the full story here.

Anyways, she doesn't really like the holiday either.  See, for some reason her and I tend to lean toward opposite sides of the fence on…almost everything... because I, for one, LOVE Valentines Day.  Always have.  Please tell me the problem with telling people in your life… that you love them?  You don't need a serious boyfriend, wife or "person"… but maybe a Dad or a best friend or even a child that deserves to know they're special to you on Valentine's Day!

But here's the thing: the saying "It's the thought that counts" is more true than anything on this day.  One doesn't need expensive red roses on Heart Day - so cliche - but a card from the heart and maybe something else… a special thought or action that someone did just for you.  That's it.

For the record, all good ideas start with thought.  I, personally, do my best thinking on walks.  Where do you do yours?  Go there and think of something special for whomever you want to "gift" some love to on February 14th.  Please omit all restaurants or bar visits from any possible ideas.  It's just awful there on this day.  Price fixed menus, chicks mad their man didn't get them a Louis Vuitton, single guys looking for chicks ticked off, crowds, lonely people… just stay away and come up with another idea.  

Dad brought home roses to his daughter & he wore the heart tie to work from his kids!
Here's what I did last year for BP (the husband) - don't judge - it came from the heart:  I put this goofy sign up in the hallway so that when he walked in from the garage he saw it…

If you can't tell… it says: How do I love thee… let me count the ways.  Then I proceeded to put numbers up throughout that house… 1, being the card in the picture above which laid out the whole silly task ahead and gave hints where he'd find the number cards.  2, was the Duval-Leroy bottle of bubbles on the bar below.  

3, the table where I fed him the dinner I made for the night.  4 & 5, were my daughter and son's bedrooms… because he gave me them.  The backyard spa was in there because we were going in that night...

and so on and so forth.  He had to run around the house looking for all the numbers - I think they went up to 10.  Of course, the kids followed and it was just good fun.  Because it was an idea that came to ME, cost almost nothing but meant the world.  It simply showed I cared - on Valentine's Day.  So I ask again… what's wrong with that?

There are those that say "Why does there have to be a holiday?  Why can't we just show love all the time?"  To that I say… show the love everyday.  But also show it on this day.  Because it's there and a little special something on a random Saturday in February never hurt anyone.  You know what did?  Doing nothing.

For this Valentine's Day 2015… we are having both sets of parents in town for my son's 4th "Police" Birthday Party.  Didn't quite think that through… or maybe it will be just the kind of special Valentine's Day we're all looking for!


Monday, February 2, 2015

Cheaters Prosper… Again.

The Headlines:

The New England Patriots won.

Cheaters Never Prosper.

Yea, right.

So what do we tell our children now?

I truly thought it wouldn't happen… sure, they got to the big game but I was positive they would never win.  That's not how life works.  But I was wrong.

**Full disclosure, I don't care about football and have no vested interest in either team.

No I didn't attend the Super Bowl yesterday… BP (the husband) did.  Heck, it was in our backyard (Arizona).  But I did watch (some) it.  I saw the interception that changed everything but I never thought the guys from the East would win.  I thought it not possible.  Because Cheaters never proser.  You know, that old saying our parents said and re-said throughout our young lives?  And I believed them.  But the fact of the matter is… Cheaters do and can prosper.  In fact, sometimes they do really really well.  Heck, they can even win the Super Bowl.

Now, I'm not judge and jury here.  Yet clearly there are those of us (me) who are acting like it.  There has been no official and finalized investigation into the latest Patriot scandal… Deflate-gate.  But I always say… where there's smoke there's fire.  Someone had to yank that air out… someone took those videos (spy-gate) and it wasn't the other team.  It was someone linked to New England.  Period.  But still… they have not been punished enough, "journalists," fans, heck even the NFL have (and will) let them off easily.  In front of millions of children they even WON the Super Bowl last night.  And that just kind of knocked the wind out of me.

Because, it is very clear, in our society Cheaters DO Prosper and that sickens me.  In fact, to go one step further… it's the guy who doesn't cheat who ends up losing out.

I get it.  We all fudge a little here and there.  The Mom who forgets to pay for the pack of gum she threw in the baby car seat, the golfer who refuses to record low scores on the course, the son who grabs a cookie when he's supposed to eat a carrot.  It happens.  But there are lines that have to be drawn.  There are lies that matter.   As far as I'm concerned, The Patriots are a good ball team who, for all we know, have gotten to where they are by fudging here and there which makes all of their wins not victorious but down right suspicious.  And who wants to look up to that?

I'd rather look down.  Or maybe just away from the team who we-think-was-the-best-but-we-just-don't- know-because… they-cheat.

Yep, my husband was here last night…

and I was here, at a Super Bowl Party with my kids who didn't look at the game for more than 30 seconds.

Thank God… because the Cheaters Prospered Again.  And I'm going to need some time… to figure out how to explain that.

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