Our Family Motto: What’s That Smell?

The most frequently asked question in our home is, “What’s that smell?”

The other day, there was such a smell coming from the laundry room that I actually closed the door between the laundry room and the kitchen, and opened the other side of the laundry room to the garage to air it out a bit. You know it’s bad when the garage smells better than the laundry room!

Having avoided doing laundry for a few days, I decided to brave the stink, for the sake of clean underwear. I started to run a load of clothes, and as the water filled the basin, the smell was putrid. Worse than dirty diapers. More like rotting roadkill.

Not wanting to make a grisly discovery myself, I asked my husband to take a look inside the machine. I was sure there would be something dead at the bottom of the barrel. Dutifully, he removed the wet stuff from the full washer one article at a time. When he got down to the bottom, he found the offending article. “Honey, what’s this?” I peeked around the corner and saw him holding up dripping wet a Blue’s Clues beach towel with big, brown splotches.

My mind was jogged back to a major chocolate milk spill earlier in the week. “I think it’s chocolate milk,” I said. (See, it’s not as bad as you thought it would be.) But it sure did stink! I had grabbed the big towel to help mop things up. When I finished, I tossed the towel into the washer and forgot about it. Oooh-whee!

In case you’re wondering how to remove the smell of spoiled chocolate milk from a towel, I used Tide and chlorine bleach. That almost worked. A subsequent wash with Tide and Borax did the trick.

What? PPV Cartoons for Little Shoppers?

I think we watch too much television. That goes for my whole family. Kids, grown-ups, everybody. And I know we should cut back. I admire the families that have the gumption and commitment to turn it off for a week, or even get rid of it altogether, but I am not that tough. At least not today.

So imagine my reaction when I went grocery shopping and discovered a fantastic and devious new take on the old metal buggy. Now, I have three kids, so the plastic race car shaped carts are already a big hit with our crew. However, this was something entirely amazing — the TV Cart.

Oh, yes. The first time I encountered the TV Cart, I heard it before I saw it. A familiar tune wafting down the aisle in front of me. I found myself singing along to The Wiggles, and wondered where that music was coming from. And then I saw it. The TV Cart. A mother was pushing her blissfully entranced toddler in this big plastic pod. The cockpit of the cart is mostly enclosed, except for the front window. I guess that’s so the kid can breathe.

My initial reaction was one of surprise, mingled with disgust. What will they think of next? As if we need another thing to spend money on, and give our kids more TV at the same time? What kind of mother would do that?

On the way out of the store, I saw the station where the TV Carts wait to be rented. It’s a dollar per use. Now, I think of myself as a practical, frugal person. A whole dollar, just for TV during a shopping trip? Ridiculous. hmmmm.

A week later, I was at the store again. This time, I had two of my three children with me. Knowing I was in for a sweaty wrestle of an outing, I looked at the TV Carts. Could I be so frivolous? I started to rationalize, “With two kids, it’s only 50 cents each. That’s not so bad.”

My son was checking out the Cart as if it were a Mustang at the dealership. He peeked inside the cockpit. “Mom, there’s a TV in there!” Even his baby sister wanted to get into the Cart. I caved. I got change from the nearest check-out lady and fed it into the rental station. The kids jumped in, The Wiggles started to wiggle, and we were off.

With mixed feelings of guilt and euphoria, I completed the shopping without a peep, bicker, or cry from the kids. They didn’t even try to get out and run around. This mom’s verdict: TV Cart is a good way to get the shopping done when you’re having one of those days with the kids. It’s a treat for kids and parents alike, but I’ll be using it sparingly.

Wii would like physical therapy!

If you’ve read my previous post on our new Wii (the kids won’t unwrap it until Christmas, but we’ve been playing it at night – shhhh!), you know how much I love it! Even though I suck at pretty much all the games (except I did knock out Hubby at boxing), it is so fun! We plug it in after the kids are asleep and go for a couple of hours. Bowling, golf, tennis, baseball, etc. — none of which I do in normal life with any regularity… I end up sweaty and out of breath (especially from boxing – I turn into a crazed punching machine for some reason). Nothing wrong with that. I figure anything besides sitting at the computer counts for exercise, right?

But the next morning, boy am I sore! Yes, I’m a bit out of shape. And I’m not as young as I used to be. Anyway, my muscles ache, and my shoulder hurts. I’m really okay, but I was thinking, when will somebody develop a nice post-Wii workout cooldown game for us middle-aged Wii addicts? How about Wii Therapy, Wii Pilates, Wii Yoga, Wii Stretch? They can bundle it with Wii Sports and call it Wii for Oldies. 🙂

Why I don’t like Dora the Explorer (rant alert)

I have never been a big fan of Dora the Explorer. I don’t like to complain, but when Dora first hit the scene, I wanted to like her! I thought it sounded like a great idea to have a young Latina heroine solving problems and speaking Spanish! But right away, I noticed a couple of things I just couldn’t get over.

First of all, why doesn’t her shirt cover her belly? Isn’t it bad enough having to see grown-up women baring their tummies all over TV? Do we have to see it on preschool programs? I’m sure the animators made a conscious decision to leave her belly exposed, because it couldn’t be an accident. I mean, how many frames do they have to draw to make a single episode? Can’t they just draw her shirt a little lower? I guess it’s supposed to be cute, but the more I see it, the more annoying it is.

Secondly, why does she always shout? To me, the dialogue on the show seems so loud. Unless Dora and Boots are deliberately whispering, it sounds like they’re yelling. And then, they urge the viewers to shout at the TV! “I can’t hear you! Say it louder!” Or how about “Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping!” Stop!

I didn’t think Dora would last this long, but she’s still everywhere.

Don’t even get me started on Bratz!

Here’s my elf dance. Let’s see yours!

You’ve probably seen the OfficeMax commercials for Elf Yourself. It’s a web application that lets you upload your own photo, crop it to fit an elf hat, and then watch yourself do an elf dance with up to three of your friends. Silly, but so fun! I did one with my own face first, and then I made one with my kids (above). Aren’t they cute?!

I’ve heard that people without high speed connections aren’t able to enjoy the show, so keep that in mind. You can see my elf dance here, or make your own. [Edit: Sorry, but the ElfYourself service must have been just for the holidays. It doesn’t work anymore, but it was fun while it lasted!]

Fudgey Carrie and Matthew “Hannah Montana” – meeting Hubby’s coworkers

We went to my husband’s annual company Christmas party on Friday. This was the second one I’ve been to, having attend last year’s party for the first time. And since I have a hard time even remembering the names of my own children at times, I am pretty hopeless when it comes to putting names to the faces of people I only see once a year.

One thing I do to make it easier to remember names is to make them into funny nicknames or phrases. For example, here are some of the lovely people I met this year (real names have been changed):

“Fudgey” Carrie: The lady whose husband offered to marry me after sampling the fudge I sent into the office with Hubby

Matthew “Hannah Montana”: The SuperDad who took his daughter to the Hannah Montana concert, and is apparently scarred for life

Lizzie “Spanx”: The coworker who decided she loved the homemade treats I sent in so much, that she bought Spanx for the party so she could continue to indulge during the week

Don “The Arguer”: The one who drives his secretary crazy by trying to reinvent the wheel, even though she’s been doing this for 30 years already

The party was a blast, by the way, and the people were just as fun as their names imply. Happy Holidays to all!

Blizzard Bracelet: Thinking of sunshine and citrus!

Here is a photo of what I did this afternoon. We had a big snow/ice/wind event this weekend, so even church was cancelled. I don’t mind winter weather, as long as I don’t have to drive on ice. Besides, I needed to make a Christmas gift for someone, so I came up with this. It is fresh and fruity, and makes me think of sunshine and citrus — exactly the opposite of today’s weather! I used all kinds of beads, including fire-polished faceted Czech glass, peridot gem chips, clear quartz chips, and cathedral beads. I love the way it turned out. It’s a bit heavy with all that glass, but boy, does it sparkle! Do you like it?

Look what’s new on Squidoo: SquidFlix movie reviews

I’m addicted to Squidoo. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should do so right away. There is not an easier, faster, cheaper way to make a web page on anything you like. Plus, you can link back to your own blog or site (free backlinks!), and you can even earn cash royalties for yourself or charity. Seriously, Squidoo rocks.

Now, there’s a new way to Squidoo. It’s called SquidFlix, and it’s a fun and easy way to build your own movie review page. Just type in the name of the movie you want to review (whether it’s your favorite or least favorite), add some information to make it unique, and voila! Now Squidoo will pay you for traffic that clicks through your page. Isn’t that nice?

I’ve made my first SquidFlix page on one of my all-time favorite movies, The Princess Bride. I used the default modules as a starting point, and added some awesome quotes, video clips of my favorite scenes, and links to DVDs on Amazon. It was quick and easy to put together, and I plan to fill it out a bit in the next few days. If you’re a fan of The Princess Bride, stop by and add your own 2 cents.

And while you’re there, don’t forget to try building your own page. All the other kids are doing it. You know you want to. 🙂

Why we love Yo Gabba Gabba (it’s weird, but now I like it)

Yo Gabba Gabba is one of the few children’s programs that I can actually enjoy with my kids. It reminds me of Sesame Street and The Electric Company from when I was a kid.

Unlike some of the other meaningless junk cartoons, Yo Gabba Gabba is actually fun and educational. It took me a couple of episodes to “get it,” because it’s different from anything else I’ve seen, but now I see why the kids love it so much! We sing and dance together to songs like “Don’t Bite Your Friends,” and “Party in my Tummy!” Once you get over the “this is so weird” phase, it’s a blast.

One of my favorite parts of Yo Gabba Gabba is the special “Dancey Dance” segment. This is where a special guest actor or celebrity teaches the characters — and us — how to do a special dance, like the “Twirly Whirly” (Nikki Flores) or the “Puppet Master” (Elijah Wood), and other special moves by Laila Ali, Sugarland, Sean Kingston, and others. The dances are simple and fun for the kids, and having a real human person on the show makes it more relatable for adults. Plus, I’m not much of a dancer, so these simple steps are perfect for me, too! There are also special music segments, featuring fun bands like the Aquabats and the Salteens, doing some very perky, peppy toe-tapping tunes.

Quite simply, Yo Gabba Gabba is the freshest, hippest new kids’ show out there, and if you’d like to check out some videos and get more information on Yo Gabba Gabba, visit my Yo Gabba Gabba page at Squidoo.

Geek Mom: I think I have Wii elbow!

My husband surprised me with the news a few months ago. “Honey, I got a Wii! I wasn’t looking for one, but I just happened to wander into the game store, and the guy said they had just got the shipment, and they hadn’t even unpacked them yet. They’re really hard to find, so I was lucky to find one, and I had to get it, and we can give it to the kids for Christmas…” That was back in September.

We love video games, and it’s not that I didn’t want a Wii. It’s just that I don’t need another device that encourages me to waste more time playing games. I know that once the Wii is unwrapped and installed, there will be almost no chance of turning it off. The kids will want to play it all the time. And worse yet, I will want to play it all the time! And I’ll have to take turns!

So Hubby brought it home, and we tried it out (after the kids were asleep). We played tennis, golf, bowling, baseball, even boxing! It was awesome! I lost every challenge except for boxing. I don’t know what got into me, but I turned into a crazy manic Wii punching machine, and somehow I knocked him out. I was sweating and out of breath, but I won!

I think I’m developing “Wii elbow.”

We put it back in the box, and we’re hiding it under the bed until Christmas. Don’t tell the kids!