Friday, July 19, 2013

Know Your Customer

As I was about to get started writing this, several people posted onto Facebook the link to this new parenting method - it's called CTFD - "Calm the F*ck Down."  Our friend Josyln from Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy. even gave her take on it at

I think it's pretty weird that as I was formulating my parenting tips there would be a sudden rush on parenting tips.  Now it kind of looks like I am just jumping on the bandwagon.  Well, I'm not.  I had my ideas earlier this week, I just didn't get to the writing it down part.  So really, I am a procrastinator, not a copy-cat.  Just so you know.  No really, I thought of this Monday.  I did.

Anyhoo - back to knowing your customer...this is for parents AND children.  I think this revolutionary idea will help parents feel less guilty and help kids be less annoying and unconscious to the world around them.  Win-win.

It's always important to remain
a caring and nurturing parent.
A lot of parents try not to yell at their kids too much.  They don't want to be too shouty.  They don't want their kids to feel upset or scared or bad about themselves.  No.  Stop thinking this way.  It's good to yell.  And you know what, your kids totally know when you are about to lose it and start yelling - but yet, they keep going.  Kids like consistency.  They like to know what to expect.  If they are being jerks (that's right, I said jerks) and you don't yell at them, they become confused.  They don't really think you're angry or upset if you talk calmly to them.  Kids are pretty slow learners.  Quiet soothing voice means happy/not in trouble.  Yelling means knock it off/big trouble. 

First, let me say I don't mean ripping your kid a new one  Most crappy, annoying kid behavior doesn't warrant reducing your kid to a sniveling heap of pitiful.  Name calling and being mean and sarcastic is rarely an effective parenting tool, nor is it nice or a good example of how to handle anger.  Unless your kid has carjacked someone or is a drug dealer, simple yelling will suffice.

"Why" you ask?  I will tell you.  Sometimes children don't understand their native language unless it is spoken to them in a loud voice.  Scientists can't figure out why this is, but it's a fact (it is).  Children try to apply this concept when dealing with you as well.  They firmly believe that if they yell/whine/scream something louder, then it's more true.  

But wait, there's more.  When you raise your voice and sound annoyed or aggravated, you are helping your
This mom is caring and
loving and is helping 

her kids avoid injury.
child learn to "know your customer."    That is an important survival skill people. It's akin to knowing not to poke a bear.  It's just more subtle.  Kids need to learn what will set you off.  If they don't want to hear you yell or get a time-out or lose a privilege, they need to learn how to act right and listen the first time.  This will help them in school, the work world and life in general.

Think about it.  By the time you were 8 or 9 you knew exactly what you better not do/ get caught doing if you didn't want your mom or dad to go totally batcrap crazy on you.  This translates into real world ability.  At this point in your life you know not to provoke some thug on the street who looks menacing.  If you walk up to that guy and call him a punk-ass bitch he's not going to calmly tell you that those words were hurtful and that you shouldn't judge people by what they look like.  He's going to pound you into next week.  You know this because your parents yelled at you.

In summary, what I am telling you is that by yelling at your kids they are learning what behavior will keep you from yelling.  Learning how to judge people and their reactions and what they do and do not like will help your kids make friends, be more pleasant to be around and keep them out of danger.

I know some of you extra nice, super-nurturing parents out there are still feeling unsure that raising your voice to make your point is emotionally healthy for your kids, but trust me, it is.  This concept has been extensively studied at the DTC Institute for Technology and Science-y Stuff.  I will offer you a little tip if you are feeling squeamish or don't know how to get started yelling at your kids.  When my kids were little and they were really starting to make me angry, I would say "If I say this again, I am going to be yelling it."  It goes back to the slow learner thing.  It actually worked.  And by worked I mean that I didn't feel the least bit bad when I finally had to yell.

See!  Moms who are
calm and don't yell
HAVE to drink.  You
can drink just because
you want to.
Oh my God, I totally forgot that the whole yelling thing is also good for your mental and physical health.  Instead of bottling up your rage and masking it with alcohol and medication, you will feel more relaxed and mentally refreshed.  If you yell, you won't need so much or wine or vodka or Xanax.  That's actually supposed to sound like a good thing even though it sounds a little sad.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beware: This Could Happen To You

This is merely a representation
exaggerated for humor purposes.
I would never act like this.
 I wouldn't.  You don't know.
I don't want to alarm anyone, but my life is basically over/meaningless.  The Boy will be going to the University of Delaware in the fall and tomorrow he has his orientation.  I will skip over telling you how ridiculous it is that they charge the students AND the parents for orientation (two separate ones of course) and get right to the my life is over part.

I signed on to be the mom of children.  Chil-dren.  Not grown-ups.  *I'm* a grown-up (for argument's sake)!!  How can I be expected to parent what is essentially a contemporary?  I mean, he is starting college and I am practically just out of college - how can I be his parent?  Oh?  What's that you say?  I got out of college almost 25 years ago?  Are you sure?  That just does not sound right.

Sigh.  I don't see how it's fair that I want to be the mother of people I can pick up and cuddle and kiss whenever I want and instead I have a daughter who towers over me and a son whose whiskers rub on my face when I kiss him.  Don't get me wrong, I am well aware of the benefits of older children.  Lots of great things, not the least of which is that I can go wherever I want pretty much whenever I want and don't need a babysitter.  Don't think that's not a dream.  But still, I liked it better when we all agreed I knew best and people begged for my attention.

...Two days later

I didn't finish the post before we left for orientation.  And now I'm back.  And I still think the
You should have seen the
students helping with this.
All cheery and spirited and
welcoming.  Like that was
going to distract me from
being freaked out.
whole thing is bullshit.  First off is the food situation.  The dining situation is nothing like it was when any of us went to college.  There are tons of delicious, attractive, healthful options, offered in a variety of settings.  And, if the dining schedule/menu doesn't work for you on a given day, you can use your flex points for various food court-like options.  These extra options also include mini marts throughout campus, that stay open late, where you can get pre-made meals or fresh produce.  When I was in college, the only dining excitement was if we could find two dining halls in two consecutive days that were serving grilled cheese and waffle fries.  I still don't know what Supreme sauce is, but they used that on a lot of things.  There's no Supreme sauce now.

Oh, and as the parent, you are supposed to pay the bills and fill out the forms, but you can only do that when your student signs into the system and clicks on the "let my parents in to pay you" option.  The law prohibits colleges from giving you any information about your student, but you are still supposed to be completely responsible for making sure everything is taken care of and that your student's account has the proper funds for tuition, books and food.  You are supposed to do this in a non-helicopter parent way.  Essentially, everything I found out at orientation that I am supposed to take care of, I can only do if my kid remembers to check his university e-mail and tell me.  Sounds like an awesome system.

Poor Guy didn't even know how
ridiculous his question sounded.
It's sad when people are in
denial.  Not everyone can be
emotionally healthy like I am.
Overall, orientation was not too traumatizing for most of the parents or kids.  As parents, we all felt a lot better about our coolness and ability to "let go" when during one session a parent (a dad no less) asked if there is anyone that is making sure that kids aren't staying up until 2 in the morning and are eating.  Bahahahahaha!  Good one.  The student panel chuckled and elbowed each other before one of them pulled it together enough to say "No, your student is on their own."

So friends, for those of you a ways off from college, don't worry.  There is always a chance your kid won't get into college and then you won't have to be all freaked out that you have a kid in college.  Because that would make it better, right?  Or, if that sounds like maybe it could end poorly, push your kid to do well and get into a good college, but start upping your drinking now.

Friday, July 5, 2013

DTC - It's Like A Variety Show, Only Better

Maybe if The Party would
dress up with me while I made
mac and cheese, we might
get a TV deal.
Well, it's probably not better because there are no costume changes or ice skating, a la The Donny and Marie Show.  And, no one will sing I'm a Little Bit Country, I'm a Little Bit Rock 'n Roll with me.  And, I can't do both parts myself because obviously.

But, it's at least as good as a variety show because mac and cheese is involved.  I know, we don't usually discuss cooking around here, but, we are new and improved and we are going to expand our horizons.  And, my friend Echo (isn't that the coolest name) asked me for my mac and cheese recipe and said I should make it a blog post because that is the way a recipe should be given/written.  So, who knows, maybe you will see other recipes.  I don't make that many things, so we'll see how that goes.  I'll be happy to pass along some of my recipes for ordering out and making reservations.  You shouldn't just wing that stuff.

Anyway, Echo was saying she didn't see the beauty of baking mac and cheese - what was wrong with it the way it was?  It's creamy and delicious and when you bake it, it gets dried out, not more exciting.  So, I told Echo, that while m&c IS super delicious as is, it can be even more awesome baked (the m&c, not the cook).  Please note, baking your m&c does add extra opportunities to burn yourself, so keep that in mind if you have issues.

Here is the recipe the way I gave it to Echo:

Cook a box of penne or elbows or spirals - whatever makes you happy. Aim for the slightly al dente side since they will get some more cooking time. Just slightly firmer than you would want if you were eating them right away.

I leave noodles in the strainer after I rinse them.

In pot I cooked noodles in I use Ragu cheddar cheese sauce as a base (you can also use Campbell's cheddar soup, I just like the taste of this better). You don't actually have to use a base like this, but it helps with creating a quick and creamy cheese sauce.

You can use pre-shredded or shred your own (I just read they are similar in cost pound for pound) cheese. I switch using either. I use a mix of sharp and mild cheddar. I also add a couple heaping tablespoons of ricotta (not a must).

Add milk (I use 1%) and cheese until you have the amount you want and its a thick sauce. Consistency of a cream soup I would say. Better to be too thick than too thin.

I also sometimes add some shredded smoked Gouda or broken up pieces of American cheese for creaminess.

Pour noodles into cheese sauce. Don't use all the noodles until you see if it will use up too much sauce (use a bigger pot than you need to cook noodles so there isn't an overflow issue with the sauce and cheese). Regardless of how careful you are, you will probably get some noodles on the stove or on the floor. You should probably pick them up, but your choice.

Remember to leave it creamier than you would normally eat it. It should seem like there isn't enough noodles for the cheese.

Pour into greased casserole dish.

*Note* After I grease dish - I cover bottom in shredded cheddar for a a yummy chewy cheesy bottom and because there aren't enough calories and fat as is.

On Top -

Take a sleeve of Ritz (or like) crackers. put sealed sleeve in zip lock bag. gently pummel sleeve until crackers are crushed. if you don't use the zip lock bag, the sleeve will pop and crackers will shoot all over the floor (trust me). You could use a food processor - but then you have to clean it.

Put crackers in bowl. Add a couple teaspoons of melted butter and mix together (it's easier with your hand) into slightly moist crumbs. Sprinkle on top of mac and cheese.

Bake at 350 until crumbs are browning and mac and cheese is bubbling.

The end.

Oh -and by the time you're done, you will be too hot to eat something hot and will have to wait until later to enjoy it.

Also - I add black pepper and dry mustard and a few dashes of hot sauce when I am making the cheese sauce. It doesn't make it spicy, it just gives it a little depth. No, I don't really know what that means, but it's good.
Baked is Better
Again, we are talking about the mac and cheese.
Editors Note: You can make this recipe lower in calories and fat and more healthful by taking out the noodles and cheese and adding lettuce and vegetables.  But, I will warn you, if you say you are serving mac and cheese and serve the low fat version, there could be an incident.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I'm The Emily Post of Travel Etiquette

While I was away from DTC this spring I went on a couple of trips.  While certainly I had a good time (Disney with the kids, Las Vegas with friends), I am starting to believe that there are a lot of people who missed the day at school where we learned how to conduct ourselves in public.  And by "we" I mean the clueless people that are not me or about 7 other people on the planet.

Luckily for all, I have taken notice of this and am here to offer tips for comportment that will not only make travel more pleasant for everyone (or at the very least, me) but will undoubtedly keep a few of the more ignorant people of the planet from getting their asses kicked.  I think I am going to say that this is a PSA of sorts.  I might even count it as community service.

So, without further ado, here are some handy travel tips.

1.  Try not to be an assh*le (that's really an everyday tip, not just a travel one, but we'll leave it as a travel one for now).  We all are
Please note the group
in the front left.  They
have stopped to chat
right in the middle.
Whistle and smack. 
important and are trying to get somewhere or see something.  Try to wrap your head around that.

2.  Keep to the right.  Especially important in a crowd.  As I have told my children when we were in Disney (as well as other places), other people are not to be treated like video game obstacles that you try to beat out and/or dodge around on your way to the next location.

3.  Do not gesture wildly when you are in a crowd.  Especially true if you have a cigarette in your hand (talking to you people in the casino and on city streets). *more on cigarettes later

4.  Do not walk 17 people across so no one can get by you.

5.  You don't have to rush, but walk so there is any hope for the rest of us behind you to get to our destinations some time in the same day.

6.  Just because you have a stroller, scooter or wheelchair does not mean you don't have to look where you are going.  Manners are for everyone.  (PS - I still have the scar on my ankle where the guy ran up the back of my leg in his electric wheelchair - not exaggerating).

7.  If we find ourselves in each other's way, the way it works is that we BOTH say excuse me and go around each other.  The way it doesn't work is that I say excuse me and you keep pushing past me.  Also, if YOU bang into someone, you have to say excuse me and make sure you haven't knocked the person over!

8.  If someone holds the door for you - say thank you!  Conversely, hold the door for the person behind you.  Even if you have to wait the extra 5 seconds to do so. 

9. * Las Vegas/casino-specific rule:  I understand that you are thrilled to be allowed to smoke indoors.  I am sure that it sucks to stop what you are doing to go smoke outside in the weather.  That said, just because you are allowed to smoke inside does not mean that it's polite (or f%*#ing necessary) for you to sit down next to me and hold your lit cigarette right by my face or for you to blow smoke towards me or the crowd in general.  It's not nice!  Also, how are you going to walk around the whole hotel and casino with a lit cigarette and no ashtray?  You are flicking ashes all over the place.  What is wrong with you?  Were you people raised in a barn? 
Picture me to the left of this woman.
Now picture that I
 was there first.
Whistle and smack.
And accidental
 shove on my way by when I get up to move.
I guess that's about it.  I have some bathing suit-specific rules for some travelers, but that's a whole other post.  Let's just say though that a skimpy bikini top is not for everyone.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Don't Worry About Me, Not That Anyone Was

If I depended on my family
to ransom me, they'd be
getting pieces of me back
one at a time.  And still
probably wouldn't get
what was going on.
I have not been kidnapped.  I guess that's good since no one was even looking for me in my 3+ month internet absence.  No surprise since no one who lives with me misses me when I am actually physically gone from the house.  I'd like to do a test to see how long it would take someone to text me "Where are you?"  I think the time would depend on how close my absence corresponded to the need for a meal.

Essentially, if you are a kidnapper, what I am telling you is that kidnapping me would be a pretty fruitless endeavor.  One, I really don't have the kind of cash or prizes a kidnapper is looking for and two, it would take ages for my family to notice me missing and even longer for them to start wondering where I was.  A kidnapper might leave a phone message you say?  That's even more of a long shot.  The people who live here don't quite get the whole check the phone messages thing.

I don't want you to think that my family doesn't love me.  I'm sure they do, it's just that my children are so secure in my love for them that they can't imagine I wouldn't return (talk about misplaced trust).  That said, if I am always home when you get home or leave you a message when I won't be, can you not muster up the slightest concern for me?  Would it kill you text me that you're home and wondering where I am?  Honestly, you can't humor me a little and run up to me when I return and cry out "Oh thank God you've come home Mom" - how hard would that be?

The Party is another story.  If I'm not there when he gets home he will call or text to see
This kind of exchange
might be why my kids are
afraid to text to
see where we are when
we are not home.
where I am.  I don't think he's so much worried about my well-being as much as making sure that I am indeed going to come back.  He is well aware of my access to a car and money.  Sometimes, if we end up somewhere in two cars, I make him take both kids (if they've been really annoying) home.  This usually makes Party twitch a little.  Partly because it's his turn to be in the car with both kids and partly because he's a little nervous about where I'm going.  He usually says "Okay, I'll take them, but you know you have to come home, right?"  I just smile and say "Of course."  I give him that sweet, fake smile though so he worries the whole way home.  I don't know why, I just do.

Anyhoo, so I've been gone from Donkeys since the beginning of April.  I would like to say that I was busy doing something really important and interesting - but I try to not lie outright to people.  Donkeys had become sporadic since I had been doing Babble Pets, but I stopped doing that at the end of March.  And by stopped, I mean I quit before they fired me.  Apparently, I do not have quite a big enough following to justify keeping me.  While I have been licking my wounds a little, I am pretty glad to not be writing for Pets anymore (though Babble in general is pretty cool).  It is really picture-driven and I am just not one of those people who oohs and aahs over pets dressed in costumes.  On the upside, I did get to write a lot of captions for these pictures.  I love writing captions.  I totally crack me up.  I don't know if anyone else was amused, but I enjoyed the hell out of my own cleverness. #noonepaysyoutoamuseyourself.

Please note my use of the hashtag.  Hashtags also crack me up.  They are like little sidebars that you'd whisper under your breath if you were talking.  I actually like hastags better than the  actual use of Twitter, Home of the Hashtag.  Facebook has hashtags now, but I am not sure why.

So, I am back for a summer of fun DTC posts.  I am trying to think of ways to jazz up the blog and get more followers - feel free to offer suggestions.  I love my donkey logo and the blog name, but other than that, I am game for trying new things.  I have been missing writing DTC and all the fun comments people leave for me.  So, now you guys are stuck with me again.

Next up... I'll catch you up on what's been going on around here.  Spoiler alert: Boy graduates from High School, his parents don't like it.

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