Monthly Archives: January 2012

Kids Stickerbooks

I’m sure some of you have noticed I haven’t had my usual craft posts up this month.  Partly, that’s because we’ve been doing other things like

At the Rec Center with Mommy

Going to the Rec Center

V and Carmen

Playing with our pet rabbit

V using the power drill to "fix" her step stool

Fixin’ stuff

Hamming it up after a chocolatey treat!

Eating chocolate goodness

Our playdough snow family

and Playing PlayDoh

We have also been completing a lot of craft projects that are not designed by me like special stamping markers, dot art, those Color Wonder paints and markers.  It’s all fun stuff, and V has been busy drawing her first circle and signing her name in a continuous squiggly line, but nothing really original on my part.  (I do have a few Valentine’s posts forthcoming though!).

So today I thought I’d share an easy way to make a sticker book, one of V’s very FAVORITE things to do.

V's sticker book! Note the princess/flower page juxtaposed with Star Wars! V's a gal of many interests!

Purchase a scrapbook and scrapbook pages.  Let your child decorate the pages with stickers, then insert into the scrapbook and you have an instantaneous sticker book.  You can add extra plastic page pockets as needed, depending on the size of the scrapbook you selected.

Enjoy this simple project that will literally give you continuous play for days, weeks, or in our case, years!

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One Woman’s Story of Tantrum Survival

Sweet Baby V, in earlier years, snoozing peacefully in her car seat.

Today(Editor’s note: this was written last week), I passed a guy on the corner of a Rite Aid parking lot holding up a sign that said “Broke.  Odd jobs?”  And, I SWEAR, I almost paid him whatever was in my wallet (which was likely about two bucks) to help me strap my daughter, V in her car seat.   I was pulling over in the Rite Aid parking lot, after viewing a tantruming V, dripping yellow snot and tears, as she poked her beleaguered face into the rearview mirror.  Little miss thing had tantrumed and squirmed her way out of the car seat restraints.

We are the owners of one vehicle.  While in mid-sized city, Michigan, this worked for us because of the availability of public transportation; it is significantly more challenging to maneuver in small-town West Virginia.  Thus, every outing with V is a bit of a production as it involves me dropping my husband at work, then driving to said outing or waiting anywhere I can proximate to the outing destination rather than returning home, then back again, etc. All of this has to be coordinated around V’s nap; which is a scheduling nightmare of sorts because if I miss the window to get her home before she falls asleep, I either wake her and chance missing a naptime or sit in the vehicle for upwards of two hours.  And then I rush from V’s nap waking to give her snack, load her back in the car, and pick up my husband again.  We have to make this work financially, so we do, and I comfort myself that our situation is best for our budget and better for the environment, but some days, it can be a real pain in the rear.

So I was thrilled to find a local recreation center with an open gym time that started at the perfect time for me to drop off my husband and drive there directly, one that ended with enough time to get V home BEFORE her nap time started, so that I would not have to drive in circles or wait in the car for the duration of her nap.  This morning, having been cooped up since the New Year due to teething induced sleep deprivation, then a week of everyone in the house catching some nasty bug, I was excited to pack V in the car and spend two hours of the morning with her as she played ball, drove Fisher-Price cars, and bounced in bouncy configurations.  Our gym time went so well, and I thought, with two hours left before V’s naptime, that we’d have plenty of time to meet M at work for a family lunch.  So we did, and had a lovely time.

Then it came time to load V in the car.  At which point, today’s soul sapping tantrum began.  V yelling “My Daddy; My Daddy; My Daddy” inconsolably. V wanting to be comfort-nursed in the freezing cold compact car.  V wanting me to ride in the backseat. V running through the parking lot towards his office and fighting me with all her strength as I attempted to return her to the car; stiffening her legs so that I couldn’t bend her to fit her through the car door.  I put her in the car and shut the door to keep her safe from writhing out of my arms onto the concrete or running into traffic.  I tried calling my husband to talk her down; no answer.  I calmed myself down.  A little.  Then I opened the doors and wrestled her into her straps, as she continued screaming at the top of her lungs.  A university van passed, the driver watching me carefully to assess the situation.  I didn’t appreciate the stares.

I drove out of the parking lot, turning on Spanish guitar music, hoping the soothing sounds would calm one of us down.  “NO MUSIC!” from the backseat.  More shrieking.  More heartwrenching, “My Daddy” pleas.  I counted down each landmark on the way to our house, hoping I could make it to the next one, trying my Yoga breathing techniques to drown out the drama in the backseat.  This brings us to the aforementioned Rite Aid stop, about 5 minutes away from campus.  I pulled over, pulled V from the car seat, “Do you want to go in the store and look around until you calm down?”  “Yes.”  So we did; 15 minutes later, a relatively calm kid in my arms, I opened the car door to face tantrum take two.

Reflecting, reasoning, waiting, scanning the parking lot for any respectable looking person for help, I find only a guy in a white van with blocked out windows (I’m secretly convinced all serial killers drive these and so that’s not an option).  An ambulance pulled down the street; I wonder how much they’d charge me for services.  I check out the sketchy looking man scouting for odd jobs on the corner and reflect that odds are that he wouldn’t attack me in a visible parking lot in the middle of the day if I asked him to help, right?  I decide not to chance it. The fire station is across the street; maybe I can enlist a big burly man (or woman) to get her to just sit in the blessed car seat already.  More yellow-green snot flows.  I finally get her arms in her seat without bending them at such an angle that I’ll hurt her and pull the straps as tight as they’ll go.  She’s not scooching out this time.  Pulling out of the parking lot.  Two miles down the road, I hear silence in the backseat.  She’s asleep.

I finish driving home, run in to grab a book from the house.  I keep driving.  I get my oil changed.  I drive a half hour away to buy diapers and wait in the car reading Dr. Sears’ The Discipline Book.  I normally love the Sears’ parenting series, but today, having tried all the  strategies in the temper tantrum chapter, I find the advice insufficient and grating.  I work a couple of logic puzzles to focus my mind elsewhere.  I sit in the parking lot until she wakes up and we go in the store to buy diapers.  I prep her for the car seat, reasoning that we are going to pick up Daddy (a half hour late) and holding my breath until she’s in and settled.  THANK GOD!  The tantrums have been too frequent lately.  Only last week, I called my husband, begging him to come home, to change V’s diaper after a poop covered, bare-bottomed hour long wrestling and crying match to complete a simple diaper change.   I am so done with tantrums.

We’ve been through tantrum-filled weeks before.  Usually, V is teething or sick.  Usually the tantrums subside after a few days.  I know it is not a discipline issue; we’re pretty good on that front and everyone comments on how V is so well-behaved.  It’s just these days, V wants her dad.  And she’s what Dr. Sears has called a “high-need” child.  One that challenges, one that actively negotiates and barters at the age of two (“One sticker AND one candy, Daddy,” ” I need chi-chi (nursing), I grumpy.  Chi-chi helps, Mommy.”),  one that wants more time-ins, more nursing, more connection during sleep, more, more…and sometimes, we just can’t give her what she wants.  She has strong needs, strong emotions, and little ability to emotionally regulate at this point in her development.  I know this about my child.  But some days… some days, I want to enlist a stranger off the street to help me through the tantrums.  Or have a nursing free day so I can savor a glass of wine…or two.  Or take a long, uninterrupted nap.  Or call my mom and half-jokingly suggest she make the 10 hour drive from MI for a long weekend with her granddaughter (hint, hint, Mom!).

Have you ever been unhinged by a tantrum?

Linking up with Shell’s Things I Can’t Say for


Home Cooking with The Ripple Effect 2009: What I Had in the Pantry Chili

What I Had in the Pantry Chili

I never put up recipes here, because I have no delusions that I am any kind of above average cook.  I can follow a recipe (though I’ve had a few baking debacles;  just ask my mother…) and adapt in a pinch, but I’m no gourmet.

But in a Zen state the other day, I was able to configure the contents of our pantry into a more than edible chili.  As this is the first chili I have made in my life, I thought that was darn tootin’ and wanted to share my success with my blog friends!  So here’s the skinny:

1.5 to 2 lbs ground turkey

1 can organic tomato sauce

1.5 cups organic frozen corn, thawed and drained (you can rinse with hot water to do this efficiently)

1 carton grape tomatoes, halved

2 cans organic kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 onion, finely chopped (you can add more if you like more, but this is what we had left in the cupboard)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1.5 cups low sodium V-8 juice

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Brown ground turkey in a pan; drain if there is excess fat.  Combine all spices in a small bowl and mix together with a fork. Combine all ingredients  into a Crock Pot.  Cook on Low for 4.5 hours or until done to taste.  Eat a big ol’ bowl and enjoy!  (Feel free to add any peppers you have hanging out in your refrigerator or up the chili powder content to taste!)


Books I Love: Stories for Young Children to Learn Life Lessons

V, at age one, pouring over some of her favorite titles

I LOVE reading and my husband, M, and I love to collect books.  I collect some mysteries, classics, poetry, and children’s books.  I started collecting children’s books before we had our daughter, V.  Board books, picture books, intermediate level and young adult books left over from my childhood… I plan to share some of my favorites over the course of several posts this upcoming year.

The list I am sharing today includes my favorite titles for teaching young children about topics ranging from God, to thankfulness, death, love, and physical development.  I’ve collected these books with the intent to share them with my little one and I hope you find something new and interesting in the selection below!

Be Happy: (ISBN  978-1-4424-0676-6)   A board book by Monica Sheehan

A lovely book of spirit-filled wishes for a small child

Grateful:  A Song of Giving Thanks: (ISBN-13  978-0-06-051635-2)by John Bucchino

A poignant song of thankfulness with bold, bright images

What Is God?:  (ISBN  0-920668-88-7)  by Etan Boritzer

A non-denominational book that explores and explains in simple terms an overview of the concept of God as understood by the world’s religions.

The Three Questions:  (ISBN  0-545-16756-6) by Jon Muth

The pictures have an ethereal quality to them and the gentle story guides the reader to live in the moment.

The Next Place: (ISBN  0-931674-32-8)  by Warren Hanson

A beautiful, grace-filled story that discusses “the next place “; an ecumenical picture of heaven that is breathtaking from words to pictures.

On The Day You Were Born:  (ISBN 0-15-257995-8) by Debra Frasier

A gorgeous story with brilliant illustrations that describes the miraculous events in nature that take place on the day of a child’s birth.

So Few of Me:  (ISBN  076362623-6)  by Peter H. Reynolds

A story for perfectionistic children and adults; talks about letting go of some of the stress to embrace life.

Is There Really a Human Race:  (ISBN-13  978-0-06-075346-7) by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

A story that questions the striving, competitive lifestyle so many people live…

It’s Not the Stork:  A Book about Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families, and Friends: by Robie H. Harris (ISBN 076360047-4)

A very developmentally appropriate, straightforward explanation of human physical development for kids ages 4 and older.

The Family Book: (ISBN-13 978-0316070409  )  by Todd Parr

A wonderful book that introduces children to different family compositions with primary colored, stick figure type illustrations.  I love just about everything that Todd Parr writes!

I Love You:  (ISBN13 978-0316019859) by Todd Parr

This one will pull on your heartstrings, but not in an over the top way; it communicates the concept of acceptance and unconditional love to children.  My daughter wanted to read it over and over again at the first reading; so many of the situations depicted in the book were relatable to her!


100th Post: Power of Choice, my “This I Believe” Essay

Looking Out on the Mediterranean

This I Believe started out as a series of radio broadcasts in the 1950’s, hosted by Edward R. Murrow.  The broadcasts were essays read by both famous and unknown individuals sharing the beliefs dearest and most essential to their lives.  What started out as a radio program is now an organization.  Several books have compiled essays that continue to be written and essays can be submitted online for possible publication.   This past year, This I Believe, a collection of essays including some of the original broadcasts as well as modern essayists, was selected as the book for Shepherd University’s One Community, One Book (Common Reading) program.  As I read the moving stories, I started thinking about my own This I Believe essay.  Sharing an essay about the philosophies closest to my heart seems appropriate that for the 100th post on The Ripple Effect 2009, a blog I started to share meaningful stories of parenting and personal growth.  Thanks to my loyal readers who have hung in through my first 100 posts and to the new readers who are sharing in the conversations and helping the momentum grow!

When I was in graduate school, pursuing a degree in Psychological Services at the University of Pennsylvania, I had the fortune of having an excellent professor, Professor John Fantuzzo, for a course on Psychological Interventions.  The most powerful lesson I have received in all of my education, I learned through writing an essay Professor Fantuzzo had assigned us on the topic of choice.

I did not fully heed my intellectual understanding of choice on the day I wrote my essay; though I had philosophically planted the seed to nourish at a later date.  What I wrote for that assignment changed me, over time.  The years between high school and my thirties were challenging ones for me, filled with continued financial struggles, grief from multiple personal losses, and disillusionment with many of the beliefs I had held during my childhood.  After achieving excellence in my academic pursuits, I held a series of demanding and ill-fitting positions that tested my emotional and physical boundaries and left me distanced from myself.  While I did learn a great deal about myself through the experiences life was presenting, I was at points suffering from depression, borderline anorexic, and coping with the onset of two chronic health issues.

I knew something had to change, but despite two degrees in Psychology, I did not know where to start.   I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to make a change and that I would not be able to create the life I wanted.  I felt myself wavering between a sense of powerlessness and a flickering of hope and faith that I could move out of this dim emotional place.  I started anyway.  I found a position in a university department working with wonderful people.  We moved to a community that suited us.  My husband also made some career changes that set us on the path of forward momentum in our lives.  I fed myself.  I found some balance between work and life.  Good things began to happen for us: my husband found a good job, we got pregnant and had our little girl, V, and I started writing again.

The essence of what I wrote in my essay before I lived it was this:  in every situation, we have the power of choice.  In every situation, we have the power of choice. We may not like the situations we find ourselves in within life. We may not have control over the aspects of a situation that we wish to control. We may have limited or constrained options, but we always have a choice. Even the smallest choice can be powerful. We can defy suffering with a smile.  We can pull ourselves out of grief by reaching for another or focusing on someone whose need is greater than our own.  We can breathe through pain. We can wait, enduring, until life changes, because everything changes. We can fight.  We can forgive.  We can love. We can choose a different path.

I still stumble on my own path and I know I have challenges and more losses to face in my future.  I hope I can summon the courage to keep taking responsibility for my choices during difficult moments of my life.  I still wrestle with feeling a lack of power to make positive changes in my life.  During these moments, what allows me to maintain or regain forward momentum is a cognitive shift; enduring belief in the power of choice.   Change is not always a fast process; but it starts with the choices we make.  This, I believe.


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