"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Monday, June 21, 2010

Let Them Eat Cake

So I like to pretend that I'm a cake decorator. But even someone as naturally talented (and beautiful) (and athletic) as I am occasionally might have something to learn about the business. Lately, it seems like all I do is learn from my mistakes. Here are some of the things I've come to realize lately:

  • I stick to only my recipes, unless they have Grandma's really awesome cake recipe. It's so awesome, in fact, that it doesn't need any sort of leavening agent and is more like a pudding than a cake. Not so good when trying to unmold it from the pan.

  • Telling people that I don't do wedding cakes apparently doesn't mean that I won't do theirs. I have made three wedding cakes in eleven years and each time, I am reminded of why I don't make them. Recently, I had a referral from an old friend who told the bride-to-be that I was great with fondant. Yeah, not so much. At least, not until recently, and I've still got a long way to go.

  • Making deals with strangers while out shopping is a good idea. Even if she has the last dress in your daughter's size that you desperately need for your family's first photo shoot since the youngest child was born, it will bring nothing but stress, frustration, and more stress. I felt like I signed away a part of my soul with that cake. But hey, Baby looked adorable in the dress!

  • Price doesn't matter. No matter how much I jack up the price on that cake I don't want to make for the super prissy lady, she's still going to order it. Is it too late to claim that I'm having a baby* that weekend?

  • Getting only a delivery date is fine. I don't need more specifics, like a time frame or an actual address. Nope. Got nothing better to do than sit by the phone and wait for you to return my numerous calls and let me know you're home.

Hopefully, I'll get my act together. It helps talking to the real professionals, like my buddy Amber, who was shocked (and maybe a little horrified) that I don't ask for full payment in advance. And while I was once paid in quarters, I've never been stiffed for a cake. I really don't want to add that one to the list.

* Before I get emails and "Congrats!" comments, I AM NOT PREGNANT. Seriously. Totally not. I mean it. Not even joking here, folks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Think I Am Addicted

I joined another swap.
Or two.
(And I'm looking for a third...)

Muffin Tin Mom

The first one is a new concept I found online from Muffin Tin Mom. She serves her kids meals using a cupcake pan, putting a different food in each section. Really cool ideas! I think my favorite so far was a sundae selection. Her swap is for items to help with Muffin Tin Monday meals.

Red White and Blue Swap

The second is hosted by the lovely Mamarazzi. It's her annual Red, White, and Blue Swap! It doesn't matter what you include in your package, as long as it's red, white, or blue. I had lots of fun last year and am excited to join in this year.

AND I've decided I am going to host a swap of my own...toward the end of the summer. I stuck between either a fun school supply swap or a "true colors" swap, where you send your partner items that are in her/his favorite color. What do you think?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Work Hard For Your Money

I've decided to start giving the kids an allowance.

I know this is a hot topic with parents. Some don't think kids deserve payment for doing things they should already do. Others don't want their precious babies to get hurt feelings when they fail at something. Mainly, I want the kids to help out a little more and stop asking for toys whenever we go shopping. Still, there are some things that I won't pay them to do; that they should do anyway, simply because they belong to our herd.

So I'm putting together a chore chart. For the two older kids, I've got three daily chores, three weekly chores, and then a selection of optional chores for a little extra money. Here's where the Man and I have disagreed...he thinks the kids can do a whole lot more and I think they're kids! But I am willing to try it out and let them impress me.

Da Boo's daily chores consist of Bedroom Check (bed made, no clothes on the floor), Piano/Homework, and 5-Toy Pick Up. Weekly tasks are Hamster Cage, Smudge Patrol (disinfecting wipe and an area of wall space to clean), and setting the table. For a successful week of work, she can expect one dollar. I hesitated to add piano because that's more of a privilege than a chore but she doesn't always agree with that sentiment.

The Boy's chores were a little harder to come up with, but daily, he has Bedroom Check, Homework, and 5-Toy Pick Up. Every week, he gets to help clear the table one night, empty the Shoe Basket (where all our shoes seem to congregate when they're not on our feet), and feeding the Shredder (part of my paper-clearing strategy). And if the Boy manages to complete all this during the week, he'll get one dollar.

Optionals chores don't currently have price tags. I don't want to give them a quarter per job but a dime seems a little on the low side. But if they've completed their daily and weekly chores, they'll have the option to earn extra money by going on a Smudge Patrol, helping with Baby, sorting socks from the laundry (something I never get around to), finishing worksheets, and then various forms of torture encouragement that I devise spontaneously.

Now, here's where I'd normally open the floor to discussion amongst my readers (all three of you), but I should tell you that I reserve the right to ignore any and all criticism advice in the comments. However, I would like to hear what you do at your house...provided you agree with everything I'm planning and you tell me that I'm beautiful. And skinny. And incredibly talented. Good? Good.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hey, Look! I'm Posting!

I recently took the kids to a fun kid-oriented movie by myself. We went during Baby's morning naptime. I figured, she'd be low-key and cuddly, like she normally is that time of day. The movie had lots of action to keep my Star Wars-obsessed Boy entertained. AND there was popcorn. Boo would happily sell her soul for popcorn. Instead, I discovered a whole new level of my own personal hell.

Baby is weaning off the morning nap and instead of sitting calmly in my lap, she wanted to walk up and down the aisle of the dark theater, testing out all the strollers and carseats in her path.

The Boy proceeded to raise "freaking out" to a whole new level during the action portions, which caused me to split myself in two, so I could console him while chasing an escaping Baby.

Then? I forgot to bring money. No popcorn for Boo so she was less than pleased when asked to help with her siblings.

With one child stowing away in carseats, another hiding under his seat trying not to cry too loud, and a third pouting over her miserable life, it's a wonder we didn't leave after ten minutes. But we stuck it out and I promised myself all the homemade chocolate pudding I could whip up that evening. But we certainly weren't going back to the movies, at least not until all kids were in college.

That evening after the kids were in bed, I heard the usual giggling and chatting after hours. And what were they doing, you ask? Why, recreating their favorite scenes from the movie, of course! They keep asking me when we are going again, even promising to use their own money for tickets and treats.

I guess I had better stock up on pudding-making supplies. (And find a babysitter for Baby.)

Do you have any secrets to making a trip to the movies not end up as fodder for my therapist?

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