A needle in a haystack – a game chip in the needles

More magic, than marker

Hosted by “Tracy” at “Mother May I,” but the photo-picture below will whizz you right there with one click.

Just call me snap happy.

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During the course of the holidays, my children discover how to parachute, or more accurately, test which toys can fly and those which cannot.

This is scientifically tested from the top of the stairs where the toys are hurled into the air, bounce off the ceiling and crash down on innocent victims below. It proves to be thoroughly hilarious entertainment for a good half hour. On conclusion of the half hour, they realize a serious flaw in the game plan, namely, the ten foot Christmas tree in the flight path. After a quick check, several items appear to be adrift, including a highly prized DS game, a one inch, thin, grey, plastic square. The meltdown that ensures is more or less inevitable. Whilst it would be perfectly possible to disassemble a 10 foot Christmas tree to hunt for the treasure, with my current responsibilities I am both unable and unwilling to compromise in this manner.

This more or less guarantees an hour of perseverating angst every day, first thing in the morning. The daily dose of angst almost persuades me to comply, but the time simply isn’t available. Arguably, an hour spent sequencing my son through the series of events that led up to this disaster would be better spent hunting through the needles, with hindsight, but I lack the energy.

Sadly, my efficiency levels are so low that we fail to take down the Christmas tree and other decorations on Twelfth Night. However, we are prompted into action with the dawning of the recycling visitation, which promises to arrive on Tuesday. With the children back at school on Monday, my elder daughter, Nonna and I take on the task in shifts. We each work independently in different parts of the house in an attempt to remove every trace prior to the end of the school day. Although the boys are generally oblivious to the décor, for some reason the strip down phase causes no end of grief and anxiety. Far better to remove all evidence in one fell swoop, the swift, slight of hand of magicians.

As I lift, roll and stash each decoration, my mind is free to reflect. Thatcher’s arrival has made several significant impacts upon my children. Thatcher is at the chewing stage of puppy-hood, which means that just about everything is fair game. It’s a daily game. Anything on the ground becomes fodder. Anything on the sofa or other surfaces above ground, is off limits. We have a mounting pile of evidence or our mistakes:- shoes, books and toys. None of these things are of value or worth protecting. A few prized items are worth the effort:- Webkinz, Pokemons and electronics paraphanalia. I foresee that before too long, the whole household itinerary will have been culled in this manner.

After lunch I haul out the tree into the roadway ready for collection, leaving a trail of green, prickly needles. The needle sweep up is also time consuming, several sack loads end up stacked next to the other debris and recycling materials. This leaves me just enough time to walk Thatcher before the school run.

Thatcher is keen to mark the dead tree. I am equally as keen that his offering should be elsewhere. Tree collection is hazardous enough an occupation without the added contributions of every household pet in the street. I distract and entertain as we lollop along the road with each house displaying still further green temptations.

As we reach the end of our circuit I see the huge recycling trucks approach the house. Thatcher is not keen on large noisy things. I hover, uncertain whether to continue his exposure or let him off the hook after 69 minutes of traffic? He cowers at my ankles, tail between his legs as we near the house. Suddenly, he makes a mad dash for the tree, his muzzle buried deep in the pines. I wonder if he has found a stray Christmas decoration, a choking hazard. On the command to drop, he does so without a qualm. There on the black rough tarmac is a small, thin, grey plastic square.

I wonder if plastic smells? I wonder if the plastic smells of my son?

I wait until completion of the school run, and the shock waves of despair at our denuded home to subside. I wait until the ebb tide, when spirits are low but even.
“Hey guys?” No-one has any interested in any more words, their daily allowance fully expended after a strenuous first day back at school.
“Guess what I found today?”
Floppy people display disinterest, their body language says it all.
“Guess what…..Thatcher found today?”
Bleary eyes blink with just the tiniest hint of something approximating interest.
“Look!” I hold up the tiny, grey, one inch square between thumb and forefinger with a white contrast wall behind. Gasps of genuine delight, amazement and joy chorus from every corner of the room.
“Did he really find it Mom? Where did he find it?”
“Fatcher found it?”
“Fatcher is being dah….………twuly……….. awesome one!”


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Top tips to maintain sanity during the holiday season

Thirteen Things about top tips for sanity in the holiday season

1. Buy yourself a chocolate filled Advent Calendar regardless of your faith so you can reward yourself at the end of each productive day.
2. Write holiday cards and mail on 12th. Realize that the last mailing date for Europe is the 11th.
3. Buy wrapping paper on sale in bulk. Realize once home that it is Wedding paper.
4. Splash out on an extravagant festive tree. On return realize it is too tall to be housed.
5. Stick to new rule that carelessly scratched DVD’s will not be replaced. Will power melts in the face of “Polar Express.”
6. Yield to whining children and buy cheapo stockings for the cats. Realize, once home, that they are for dogs.
7. Label your pies carefully before freezing, as mashed potatoes, vegetables and apple pie is unlikely to tickle the taste-buds.
8. It is a mistake to wrap and give a calendar to your spouse as a gift. It will be needed both before and during the holiday season, especially if your birthday falls in January.
9. Estimate how many days you can remain sane without a shower, then order the turkey. Write the shop’s name on the inside of your left wrist.
10. Draw up a fully comprehensive list of everything you need to buy from the supermarket for the feast well in advance. Do not leave the list anywhere near the paper shredder.
11. Do not wrap all presents and label later to save time. This only works if you have a photographic memory or x-ray vision.
12. Note that decorative wax apples, whilst festive, are also a health hazard unless you can guarantee 24/7 supervision of the fruit bowl.
13. Dig out the old spike so that you can keep all receipts from purchases until after the great day. After the great day when you note you have a houseful of rejected gifts, you can stab yourself in the forehead as a reminder against extravagance. Even if you are an abject failure, you did try, so scoff all the 24 chocolates in your Advent Calendar.

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Thursday 13 – 174 edition guessing game

Thirteen Things about Holiday gift disguise

Take a look at the picture of the gift and guess what’s inside?

1.

2. Homemade kiddie picture frame. Did you guess right?

3. What about this one?

4. It’s a mini book.

5.

6. A golf ball.

7.

8. M & M’s stuck on an old CD.

9.

10.

11.

12. CD

13. So what’s the point? In these frugal times the gifts may be small or homemade but it can all be made a little more fun and festive without breaking the bank. Also thwarts those who shake and squeeze every package, as there’s nothing like a little confusion to bring about a real surprise.

Of course it’s also one of the best way to open a gift without having to tackle the wrapping paper, an easy access and unflappable solution.

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Thursday 13 – scavenger hunt

Thirteen Things about organizing a scavenger hunt

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This is a great activity for those rainy days when everyone has a surfeit of excess unexpended energy. The idea is to leave a series of connected clues from one place to another, but inside the house whilst the weather makes 'outdoors' impracticable.

1. First, select your child's favourite, or second favourite toy and hide it. The second favourite is ideal for the child that has strong objections to their first favourite being held captive. The idea is to ensure motivation but not mental torture and angst from kidnapping. The advantage of using a toy that they already prefer rather than something new, is that quite often the 'new' is not attractive nor motivating, or if it is initially attractive and motivating whilst it is unknown, once it is found, it will be a big disappointment and not match their expectations resulting in stressful meltdowns. This is a game that we want to be successful for everyone. If their first experience is fun then we are more likely to be able to repeat it.

2. Take a different coloured sheet of paper for each participating child.
3. Walk from room to room with a clip board and pencil.
4. Identify items that each particular child is likely to latch onto, for instance our six foot wooden toy trunk is more or less invisible to the boys but the jagged two in crack in the wall, just above the baseboard in the corner of the room behind the sofa, is of infinite interest.

6. Determine your start point, preferably somewhere open and central.
7. Ensure that all children go to their first personal clue in opposite directions to avoid trampling.
8. The first clue must be obvious to ensure that inertia is overcome and that they will start to move in the general direction of the first clue.
9. Write the clue or draw an icon, tear off the strip of paper and tape it to the floor at the start point.

10. Although my children love numbers, for this particular game I don't number the clues. This way they are unaware of the fact that one child has 40 clues, another has 15 and the last has only six, to take account of their differing skills and abilities.

Pitfalls to avoid
11. Accidentally coming across the wrong clue out of sequence.
12. Using 'blind spot' words. E.g. although my children know the names for different rooms in theory, they're not a high priority and are there are difficult to recall on spec. Far better to use an icon to indicate the correct room, such as a toilet for the bathroom or a table for the dining room or a couch for the sitting room.
13. Whatever number of clues you determine is appropriate for your children, for their first attempt, halve that number, to give them a better chance of success.

Cheers dears


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Thursday 13 – dietary supplements


Thirteen Things about how to pad your diet and save some pennies

In these financially stricken times, it pays to revive some of those housewifely skills of yesteryear. Depending upon your weekly food budget, it may be that with a little resourcefulness, deception and cunning, you can stretch the pennies a little further, as well as indirectly stretch the diet.

When we first arrived in the States we went to a chilli cookout. It was quite an extraordinary experience for the naïve and uninitiated. Whilst the variety was quite daunting, the main ingredients consisted of pure ground beef, chilli beans, [very few in number] and chilli in a variety of different forms. If you take a standard dish of chilli you might be surprised to find out just how much you can add to the recipe without reducing the flavour. Oddly enough, you may also find that you increase the nutritional benefits of the recipe.

1. A cupful of lentils will blend in without a trace, and add fibre surreptitiously.
2. Similarly, unlikely as it may seem, a cupful of rolled oats are barely noticeable, introduce a hithertofore unknown food substance to the wary and you may help reduce cholesterol a smidge.
3. Finely diced carrots are inoffensive to most. For the few who do find them offensive, try carrot puree instead.
4. If you usually add onions to your recipe, try doubling the amount,
5. Similarly with the chilli beans. If you have a bean counter in your family, then puree the additional quantity of beans that you plan to add, to foil their accuracy.
6. Consider adding side dishes to the main course such as baked potatoes, freshly baked bread or a bowl of brown rice.
7. These additions are filling in themselves, which may mean that you halve the consumption of the chilli itself, which can then be frozen for another meal at another time.
8. Add more liquid, water or tomato juice to make it more of a soupy consistency.
9. Add any left over vegetables from previous meals. A cupful here or there is hardly detectible, especially if it is mashed first. If you use a particularly distinctive flavoured vegetable such as parsnips, add a tablespoonful of pickle or chutney to further confuse the taste buds into co-operation.
10. Now is the time to break the mould if you have people who do not eat fruit. A cupful of apple puree or mashed bananas adds a tangy sweetness that masks the ingredients but may just get past the fruit bat sentries.
11. This would be a good time to introduce salad or other vegetables that your family hates, because with a bit of luck their taste buds will be numb from the chilli.
12. Of course if you double the amount of chilli you can be safe in the knowledge that no-one will eat what you have produced. This may appear to be a saving in the short term, but in the long term, hungry tummies have to be filled.
13. Do not on any account add a cupful of bran fibre. Although the health benefits are unchallenged, the fall out can be dire. Any pennies saved, will need to be expended upon further quantities of toilet paper, and that my fine friend is what is known in the trade as a 'false economy.'


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Thursday 13 #167 An Emergency Halloween Costume


Thirteen Things about how to make an emergency last minute Halloween Costume

Poncho

Or

All cows may have two udders

1. Take one child with arms fully extended at shoulder height.
2. Measure from wrist to wrist.
3. Buy fabric, fold in half and cut one semi circle halving the measurement in [2].


4. Fold into a quarter and make two slashes to form an X in the centre, adjust size to fit original child's head size.


5. Cut out circle from the centre and interface with similar sized off-cut of fabric and include an additional slash at the front neck for a snug fit.
6. Hem outer circle.
7. Attach neck closure and decorate as required.


8. Permit brothers to borrow poncho for pretend play.


9. Refuse to make a pair of fake horns for each boy as an accessory.
10. Refuse to make realistic udder as in 'Back in the Barnyard.'
11. Explain the difference between cows and bulls, again.
12. Refuse to make fake bull accessory.
13. Reconsider reasonableness versus rashness of the udders as a compromise.


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Thursday 13 – 165 Spotting the Evidence


Thirteen Things about spotting incriminating evidence

1. I know who stole the Sharpie pen, the evidence is written permanently on his face.
2. I know who unraveled the toilet rolls from the partial square stuck on his foot.
3. I know who hid the toothbrush, next time hide your sister's.
4. I know you can use scissors now because of the evidence in the trash.
5. I know who was on U-tube as you have a history.
6. I know who has a secret wound and who was brave, from the Band aid wrapper, the scissors and the blood.
7. I know who can use their brakes from the squashed tomatoes in your bike tyres.
8. I know who read after lights out, from the Garfield quotes this morning.
9. I know where you got that phrase from, because I checked your U-tube history.
10. I know who cut off the shoe laces and why. Full marks for using the trash.
11. I know who stole the chocolate, a pity it was the baking variety.
12. I know who failed to flush the toilet from the footprints on the seat, one size does not fit all.
13. I know who have a “sweetheart” and I even know her “name.” Next time use a pencil, as love can often fade, Tattoos do not.

I’d add a photo, but the evidence on the culprit has been scrubbed with soap and water! I need a CSI to check the red patch for trace.


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Thursday 13 – 164:- Planning a successful date night


Thirteen Things about planning a successful date night

1. Book baby sitter 3 weeks in advance.
2. Write cheat sheet for baby sitter, copy three times, laminate, place in kitchen and children's bedrooms to avoid slip ups.
3. Write "social stories" to explain the concept of baby sitting.
4. Brief children in advance of impending night out. Reinforce 'joy of babysitting' with aforementioned social stories.
5. Role play 'baby sitting.' Utilize Pokemon as the babies.
6. Write both cell phone numbers on business sized red card stock, laminate and stick in prominent position in each and every room.
7. Carefully remove the word 'abandonment' from their vocabulary and reinforce 'third party thoroughly responsible and much more fun Respite Worker.'
8. Book back up baby sitter two weeks in advance.
9. Re-write all "social stories" and erase the word 'baby' from every page. Replace with the word 'child.'
10. Note absence of all Pokemons. Find alternatives within the next 24 hours for further reinforcement and practice.
11. Persuade Warrior to step into the breach if plan A babysitter and plan B babysitter should fail.
12. Re-write all "social stories" and erase the words 'sit,' 'sitter' and 'sitting.' Replace with the words 'care,' 'carer' and 'caring.' Role model 'caring for children' by third party. Remain standing throughout the exercise although bending is permitted. Substitute Webkinz as the objects of care.
13. On the night in question, leave house and children in care of Warrior and drive to movie theatre to watch something. Resist temptation to leave cell phones in car. Switch to vibrate. Lock car. Note rear seat is full of Pokemon and Webkinz.


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Thursday 13 – things I should have avoided whilst pregnant

Thirteen Things about
Things I should have avoided whilst pregnant

There's many a parent raked by guilt with sleepless nights full of 'what ifs' and 'if onlys.' Here are a few of those thoughts.
1. I should have rigged up the microwave with crime scene tape.
2. I should never have knitted that baby blanket. I'm sure I poked something crucial.
3. Hair dye and vanity, that's all I'm going to say on the subject.
4. I knew that cell phone was a mistake. Surely I fried every functioning brain cell too.
5. Orders to 'rest' should be accompanied with a free pass to a baby sitter.
6. They did warn me about Caesar Salad but I couldn't resist the craving for anchovies.
7. I should never have drunk the water and breathed the air in Silicon Valley.
8. I blame the blue cheese myself although I swear it was only a crumb or two.
9. I should have made him swear that the fruit punch only contained fruit and no hidden punches. Can you trust anyone these days?
10. I blame the YMCA. It was a mistake to take that Aerobics instructor course.
11. I should have had those metal filling ripped out pre-pregnancy but hindsight is always 20-20. I wonder why it wasn't covered by my medical insurance?
12. Alternatively I could blame the hospital. How stupid to give a warning about carrying heavy objects! What newly born object doesn't want to be carried!
13. Yes, regrets, I have more than a few. If I had my time over, I would do things differently. For my baby shower gift I'd have fessed up and asked for a “laminater.”

So nip on over and “click” to do you little “bit.” I’m always happy to complain about “food” but in the great scheme of things, I for one, should know “better.”

Although I usually benefit hugely from a jolly good moan.

Cheers dears


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Thursday Thirteen – Homework strategies

Thirteen Things about Homework Strategies

N.B. Supper and or food are not a strong group motivator.

N.B.B. 'Electronics Time' = 30 minutes play on the Gameboy/Ninendo DS/telly, are currently the only group motivators.

This shall be a scientifically controlled experiment, a longitudinal study.

We are currently experimenting:-

1. Ensure that all supplies are within easy reach together with duplicates. Add calming music, visual timers, fidgets, kooshes, 'Take a Break' PECs[*] to pre-empt meltdowns, four kinds of pencil grips, spill proof snacks for motivation, additional oral stimulants, tether bands for restless agitated legs, sequencing and tick down charts to aid task completion and reduce overwhelmedness. Restock Duct Tape Rolls to secure each child to carver chair.

2. Introduce LOST [*] = 'Let Off Steam Time' upon returning home. Now that they can play and also spend periods of time outside, this seems a therapeutic and fun option. Between play time and 'electronics' time at 5:30, they must complete their homework[1] and make their packed lunches[2].

3. As above except electronics time is moved to any time after [1] and [2] are completed, ideally before supper at 7:00 p.m.

4. As above except electronics time is either moved to just before bedtime or eliminated completely as [1] and [2] are not completed and everyone is asleep.

Note to self = no electronics time means no time to cook. Children go to bed on the edge of starvation. Balance risk of starvation against time and money saving benefits of a food free existence.

5. Move homework time to after supper . As they are so desperate to avoid bed, they may just be more willing to do homework instead. Note to self – stock up on midnight oil.

6. Seek an alternative to 'everyone sitting around the same table.' E.g. each child in different location to be simultaneously assisted and guided by the homework monitor, me.

Consider purchasing roller skates for more efficient movement inter alia, and sum.

7. Seek an alternative alternative to 'everyone sitting around the same table.' E.g. Homework monitor with child A, one on one, whilst B and C spin their wheels or create mayhem.

8. Instigate positive reward system. One completed worksheet equates to one Goldfish Cracker. Take care not to disintegrate into 'one word per cracker.' If we descend to 'one letter per Cracker,' I shall snap, crackle and pop. Should the 'cruel and unusual punishment' clause be amended?

9. Consider converting the attic into a dedicated homework station, or in the alternative, a very good place to hide, for me.

10. Re-introduce “Kinesthetic” learning programmes and expand.

11. Petition Board of Governors to permit children to attend after school homework club. Send gift to each Governor prior to petition. Hire baby sitter and visit after school homework club to see how the professionals do it. Send gift to professionals prior to subtle infiltration of club.

12. Move homework time to first thing in the morning as they wake between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. and this is their most alert time of the day. They are also extremely hungry and willing to consume half a 12ounce box of cereal.

Note to self:- quaff additional vat of coffee prior to 5 a.m.

13. Ask the teacher for a special dispensation, a permanent free pass to excuse us from homework otherwise, I shall be steamed rather than LOST[*]?

This is where I am currently hiding, if you want me for anything that is to say.

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