Monday, January 31, 2011


The teal wax oozes beyond the black ink that's stamped in its confining shape. I know I'm supposed to teach her to be mindful of those boundaries, but I can't.

I'm a rule-follower. It took a long time for the creativity in me to be unleashed because it was stifled by directives to stay in the lines. Of course I want her to be orderly and mindful and courteous, but I also want her to question authority and go where her heart and mind lead her, splashing paint and jumping in puddles and straying from the path to find her own way. It's a fine line to walk in parenting.

I am the oldest, a people-pleaser. I see so much of myself in her. She's still young enough that she's not yet afraid to ask the hard questions or do her own thing, like wear mismatched clothes. She's not afraid of what her peers think, and I make a concerted effort not to impose restrictions on her creativity. I want to preserve that independent spirit while helping her conform to the values we uphold - societal norms for safety as well as morals that have gone by the mainstream's wayside.

She'll learn soon enough that she's expected to color within the lines. For now, I'm just going to keep encouraging her to create how she sees fit.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Thank God I'm not stuck in a small space. Not like I could do what my dad does. He got trapped in an elevator once, so to deal with his claustrophobia? He took a nap. Ha! I haven't been able to fall asleep on my own in years. Dammit, I hadn't thought of that til now! Need to start carrying my Lunesta around with me. Good thing I ended up at a Walmart in Missouri where they sell alcohol. Pfft! Never would have expected to hear that phrase from me. "Walmart" and "Missouri" are usually mutually exclusive from "good" in my book. Hell, I consider them downright evil on most days. Not sure I can feel that lucky about being stuck with the kinds of customers that entails, though. Should've kept driving. No, that would've just left me to freeze to death in the white-out. Guess that's looking on the positive side of my post-pregnancy bladder being so small I can't make it 100 miles without stopping. At least I didn't have to stop at one of the adult bookstores this time. Had to do that once. Clearly a squatting-only place, even more so than a bar. How pathetic is it that half the exits off I-70 across this God-forsaken state have only those and gas stations? Ugh. Reason #827 I would never move to "Mis-ery."

Thank you, Jesus, for vodka. Couldn't have gotten even those couple hours of sleep without it. Partly because of my insomnia, but mostly because these hicks keep trying to talk to me. Do I look like I speak white-trash? Please. Which is why I don't feel the least bit bad about snagging the Smirnoff. I'll pay for it later. Not like it was Grey Goose.

Ugh, the stench has started. And now that they're shutting down power at night, it's getting a little scary. Locked myself in a stall in the bathroom for safety's sake. Realized we were going to be stuck more than a couple of days overnight, and all I could think of was the horror stories of rapes and robberies at the Superdome after Katrina. Wasn't going to let Jim Bob and his brother, Darryl and his other brother, Darryl close enough to me to exchange words, much less touch me. Upside is I've taken some photos to upload to when I get home. Which should be tomorrow. Supposed to get a break in the snow today. Plows will be able to get a start anyway.

I know they're just babies and can't help it, but someone PLEASE make them shut the hell up! It's like reliving giving birth and being in the hospital. Hearing all those babies crying. Except my Emma. Never a sound. I knew before then, of course. A mother knows these things. Though I guess technically I was never a mother. Just can't think from all the noise. Need a drink. Should wait til lights out to get more vodka from my stash; don't want to risk someone finding it. When the manager locked all the food and firearms in the break room and his office so he could ration it, I followed suit and got most of the vodka before the rest of the trailer-trash figured out what was going on. Most people were more worried about their families than themselves. Guess I finally found the benefit to being solo. I'd be worried, too. It's not looking good. Can't believe the snow only stopped for thirty minutes.

Wishing I'd watched more "Survivorman". We're almost out of food. There are about 165 people in this damn place. Luckily I'm used to drinking my dinner. Been giving some girl my nighttime ration. Looks about the same age I was when I got knocked up. She'll be due around the same time I was, too. But doesn't sound like she's married. Parents kicked her out. A loner like me. For another couple of months anyway.

If we ever get out of here.

This post was inspired by the prompt "You are trapped (alone or with others) in a single location during the fury and/or aftermath of a blizzard of historic proportions." Constructive criticism welcome.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kids Are So Gross

While I'm kind of "on a break," I thought I'd bust out some old posts, some from here and some from BlogHer. This one I posted on BlogHer a few months ago. Enjoy!

I adore my kids. I love being a mom. And most of the gross things I thought I wouldn't be able to handle before I had them really don't bother me, like snotty noses and slobbery kisses. But when it comes to food, there are times I can hardly keep my stomach from churning.

Our 10-month-old for example. She's all about drinking from a cup right now. I put about a tablespoon of water in it and help her tip it up. She squeals with joy when I bring it towards her open mouth, and then she bites the edge with all the might she can muster from the two chicklets in her bottom gum. She makes an "ah" sound into the cavern, enjoying the noise. Inevitably, she's able to wrest it from my grasp and manages to spill a little (or a lot) all over herself.

Were it just the water, it would be downright adorable. Oh, but it's not just water all over her face, arms and hands. No. It's sticky cantaloupe juice, pieces of green beans and chunks of oatmeal which oftentimes ends up in her hair as well. It's like a baby mud mask, and when she has a cold, like today, it's crusted to her face with a layer of snot. I take a wet washcloth to the little cherub and scrub away. Once her face is as clean as I can get it in the 30 seconds I have before she's twisted away and started screaming bloody murder, I wipe down her soft, doughy arms and hands and do my best to get everything out from the sweet rolls and between her chubby fingers. Thank goodness she so stinkin' cute.

Moving on to the 3-year-old. I really focus on the positive with her eating habits. She's a really good eater at this point. She likes most foods and is still willing to try a lot of new ones. I was such a picky eater, I was worried she would be, too. And that may change, but for now, I'm counting my blessings. Except when I'm counting to ten and holding my breath so I don't gag from the mix of ketchup, mustard, mayo, Ranch and barbecue sauce she's made and is now dipping into with anything as reasonable as a chicken nugget to as bizarre as a chocolate chip cookie.

Or when she's eating meat.

Oddly enough, she wasn't born a big fan of meat, but has become quite a carnivore in the last six months. She LOVES her daddy's ribs. She's like a cartoon character putting the whole thing in her mouth and stripping it clean. And when he smokes chicken thighs, she peels the skin off and eats it. Or like tonight when we had grilled pork chops and I had cut all the fat off of mine and she gobbled those pieces up. I had to walk away from the table for a minute.

But just when I think I can't take another gross moment at the dinner table, she'll do something incredibly sweet, like thank me for making her favorite food or washing her favorite dish. And there's no amount of Fear Factor-esque events that could possibly discount her smile in those moments. I'm so thankful they're mine.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Well, I thought I would be including my next installment of the Red Dress Club today, but unfortunately, life got in the way! :) I am going to try to keep posting a few times a week, but things may slow down here for a bit. For one thing, we're going to St. Louis this weekend to visit my sister. But that's just temporary, of course. The bigger issue is that Mom's memory problems seem to be intensifying. It's causing times of paranoia. My dad is trying hard to be patient with her, but he's worried, and he's a man, so his way to react is by being a butt head. To be fair, though, in the last few weeks Dad found out he's probably going to have to have a Pacemaker put in, he got laid off again, has been having trouble getting unemployment set up and his car died. Babysitting the kids tests his patience when things are running smoothly, but right now it's too much for him.

So we could really use some prayers right now. For my parents, mostly. Dad is really struggling to keep it together. I'm afraid he's going to have another heart attack from the stress. And for Mom because I think she's scared and worried and stressed, too. Also for our kids. They have seen Dad lose his temper a couple of times in the past week, and it's been pretty ugly. And for DH and me to figure out what to do. The girls are finally adjusted to their new schedules and care providers, and I really don't want to move them to another place, but our current provider can't take them full-time. Plus it's expensive to switch them to full-time. I'm looking for support groups for Dad to help him deal with Mom, and I'm going to see if I can adjust my hours at work some to limit the time Mom and Dad watch the girls, temporarily.

Anyway, all that to say that though I love my blog, it's going to have to take a back seat for awhile til we get things sorted out. I will probably sacrifice tweeting to stay up on it, so I will miss you all in that respect, but hope to be back soon!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ten Things I Believe

Today's Working Mommy Wednesday prompt was to list 10 Things I Believe. After getting the "I believe in Crystal Light, 'cause I believe in me!" jingle out of my head, I was surprised how quickly these flowed. I usually hem and haw over a list because I want to make sure I haven't forgotten anything. But I'm going with my gut on this one, and leaving it as is. Curious to see what others chose!

  1. I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, was crucified for my sins, died and rose on the third day and sits at the right hand of God.
  2. I believe I am more than the sum of my parts.
  3. I believe that even though my mother is losing her memory and may even someday forget me entirely, she loves me with all her heart, the way only a mother could.
  4. I believe that if I were put in a position where I needed super-human strength to save my children, I could complete the task as if it was a simple as snapping my fingers.
  5. I believe some wounds never entirely heal, but the scars can help define your character for the better.
  6. I believe in the power of love, chosen love, to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
  7. I believe that school's main function is to teach you how to learn, and once you know that, the world is your classroom; it's up to you to take advantage of it.
  8. I believe children keep you young, whether they are yours or someone else's, through their innocence and curiosity.
  9. I believe laughter is the best medicine, especially when joined by your babies, your husband, your siblings, your parents, or your best girlfriends.
  10. I believe I am blessed beyond measure and will never fully appreciate my good fortune.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Big Day

It's a big day here at Midwest "Mom"ments. Drum roll please.... I've received my first award! (thunderous applause) Thank you, thank you. No, you're too kind. No really. STOP.


Anyway, I really am surprised, so I have no speech prepared. I want to thank Kristy of Pampers and Pinot for bestowing this award on me. We met through The Red Dress Club. So glad I finally joined that group! I've discovered so many great blogs like Kristy's. I need to update my blog roll!

And apparently, there are rules to this award, so I better get to it. I'm supposed to list seven facts about myself. As you know, I pretty much put it all out there, so the usual ones are kind of a moot point. (wife, mother, clumsy, sarcastic, tired, creative, writer) I decided to list my top 7 favorite vacation destinations.

  1. Maui, HI
  2. Shannon, IRE
  3. Frisco, CO
  4. New York, NY
  5. Hong Kong, CN (Technically I was there for business not pleasure, but I did a fair amount of sightseeing. More than I've done in Chicago, which is why even though I've been there half a dozen times, it's still on my list of places to visit because I've never really seen anything there aside from the airport and meeting rooms.)
  6. San Francisco, CA
  7. Memphis, TN
The second part of the rules is that I have to pass it on to 15 others. So here are the lucky recipients!

Mommy of a Monster
A Belle, A Bean and a Chicago Dog
In Pursuit of Martha Points
Taming Insanity
Crunchy Betty
On The Rocks and Straight Up
Old Tweener
Four Plus an Angel
Honest (Mostly) Conversations About Life, Real and Surreal
Go, Pop, Go!
Work, Wife, Mom... Life!
The Writer Revived
Late Enough
In These Small Moments

Thank you all for your blogs and Tweets!

Friday, January 14, 2011


"Stupid New Year's resolutions," Katy thought.

She had decided to be hard-core this time. She usually just let herself run out of "bad" food, but 1/1/11 was different. She was pitching everything in her house that was unhealthy. Any unopened items would be donated to charity, but everything else was going in the trash. Her frugal side was struggling with this decision. "Really? The case of Frappacinos I just bought at Costco? They're so expensive!" So was her indulgent side. "How can I throw out this half-eaten box of Godiva chocolates my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas? It's madness!"

But toss them she did.

And she took a closer look at the everyday items she needed but knew were probably available in a healthier version. Like the canned vegetables. "Fresh or frozen is better," she said out loud with conviction, as she added them to the giveaway pile.

"What, honey?" her husband, Joe, called from the living room.

"Oh, nothing," Katy blushed. "Just cleaning out the cabinet like I talked about last night."


Katy rolled her eyes at his clearly automatic response. Joe was watching football. He tried to pay attention, God love him, but he was in bowl-game heaven. She could have told him she was practicing a striptease and gotten the same reaction. She smiled as she thought to herself, "Enjoy it now, sweetie, 'cause there won't be much time for football next season. Assuming all goes as planned."

She turned her attention back to the pantry. It was one of her favorite elements of their new house. She knew that seemed silly, but their starter home had had a galley kitchen with so few cabinets she had to store her Crock Pot and baking pans in the basement. She actually had empty cabinets at the new house, there were so many of them. And the pantry... well, suffice it to say that the people who had built the home must have known that someday she would live here, because it's exactly how she would have designed it herself. The pantry's front double doors had shelves on the backs. Inside, there was a second set of hung shelves that swung open in front of the main, grounded shelving area. It had all the space of slide-out shelving, but without the frustration of items falling off behind or getting lost in the expansive depth. She loved it. And it was chock-full of items that needed to be health-ified.

"Let's see, what's next..." she mumbled under her breath. Bread. She knew that was safe. She'd stopped buying food with high-fructose corn syrup in it awhile ago. Though Joe grumbled about the whole wheat kind, she had persuaded him that he would get used to it. He wasn't a big bread-eater anyway. One of those people who are unaffected by the addictive power of carbs. He could buy a bag of cookies and only eat one. One. She could do that, too. One bag, anyway.

Crackers. Three kinds - half of sleeve of buttery Ritz, and brand-new boxes of original Wheat Thins and Wasa crackers. Trash, donate, keep.

Peanut butter. Sigh. Katy knew this was going to be painful. She loved extra-crunchy Jif. She knew she should switch to the organic stuff, but dang it, she liked that hydrogenated oil. That sounded gross, but really, if that's all that was in there, maybe it wasn't so bad. She checked the label. "Made from roasted peanuts and sugar." So far, so good. Well, at least straight-up sugar's better than HFCS. "Contains 2% or less of: molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono- and diglycerides, salt." Two percent or less? That's nothing, really. How many ounces are in this thing - 28? Two percent of that is only... half an ounce. Which is about half a serving. Ok, well yeah, that's a bit much.  She chucked it in the trash with a sigh.

Surprisingly, it only took about 30 minutes to go through the cabinets and refrigerator. Katy was just finishing up when half-time started. Joe whistled his way toward the kitchen.

"What the...?" He stopped at the doorway when he saw the stack of food in a box on the table. "Why is my brand new bag of Cheetos over here?" he asked, suspiciously.

"Because, baby," Katy replied, carrying the last of the junk food to the garbage. "We're going to start making healthier choices about what we eat." She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him on the cheek. 

"We are, huh? I don't remember agreeing to that. That was all you last night in your 'We've got to make some small changes now, so we're ready for the big change next year' mood. I'm not changing anything, woman." The twinkle in his eye belied the mocking tone he'd taken.

Katy giggled. "Don't worry, babe. You don't have to do anything. Just don't go grocery shopping without me."

He flashed her an impish smile, snatched the Cheetos bag and ran around the corner toward the staircase.

"Joe!" Katy called after him, incredulous. "Joseph Martin Stephenson, you get back here right this minute with those Cheetos!"

Cackling, he leapt up the steps two at a time. He paused at the landing and looked at her tenderly. "Well, there's one thing you don't need to change. You've already perfected your 'Mommy' voice."

Katy's frown softened with the anticipation of answering to a new name this year.

This post was inspired by the prompt to grab something out of your pantry and write a short piece - using all the words in the ingredients.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

And the Winner Is....

...Karinya from Unlikely Origins! Congratulations, Karinya!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chinese Food, Memories and New Habits (Good and.... DISGUSTING)

Baby Steps to A Rockin' Life!

First, a sidenote - I'm being featured as part of A Moderate Life's new meme Baby Steps to a Rockin' Life today. Go check it out!

Update on S
She is obsessed with Chinese food. DH introduced her to it a few weeks ago, and now she wants it all. the. time. They had it for supper last Tuesday since I was gone on a girls night for dinner and pedicures (lovely!). Thursday morning she said she wanted it for supper that night. I can't get her to tell me what she wants for lunch when we're about to eat half the time. I told her probably not. She said, "But I want Chinese!" I told her we'd see, but probably not. "Chinese is on the way home." And her cute little 3-YO voice saying "Chinese" repeatedly? Cracking me up. DH sent me the following text when he picked her up from my parents' house: "S wants Chinese 4 dinner. Ur mom told her that if she eats 2 much Chinese, her eyes will start to slant."

OMG. What are grandparents for if not to pass down bigotry? The funny thing is that my mom is not the racist (usually). My dad is. So for my mom to say that? Totally made me laugh.

Then there's S's memory. I'm always amazed by it, I think because "experts" say you don't remember anything from before age 3. When we lived at our old house, we bought S a bedroom set when we put her in a big girl bed around March or April of 2009, so she would have been about 20 months. About a month after she had it, we decided to return it (lots of reasons, the last one being that a slat broke and the bed collapsed). We had sold the house so we didn't want to buy a new set until we found a new house, so for May of 2009, she slept on the mattress on the floor. May of 2009. One month. She wasn't quite 2 years old. Last week, a year and a half later, she mentioned to me, "Mommy, remember when we lived in our old house when I was 2, and I slept on the floor?"

It's funny because lately I've read several posts about moms being concerned with their children and how other kids see them and treat them and how their kids react to that. I have always had anxiety about her finding good friends, and now that she's in preschool and playing with her peers more than alongside them, the time has come to see how it will pan out in real life. From what I can tell, everyone at preschool is really nice. There's another little girl there who has the same first name as S. My S has been drawn to her since learning about their special bond. Not to mention that the other S is one of those little girls who is completely put together with her long, brown hair in pigtails or braids with cute hair ties and adorable outfits. Who wouldn't want to be friends with her? I don't think the other little girl dislikes S, but she really prefers to play with E, another girly-girl in the class. Since I'm not there the whole day, I don't know exactly how things play out. I don't hear anything negative from S or the teacher or the other girls' parent, so I'm sure it's fine. It's just a source of worry for me sometimes. I try to help her with pretend play to know how to handle different situations, so hopefully that's helping.

Like most of the U.S., we got several inches of snow here over the last couple of days. When I'm putting the girls in the van in the morning, it's an incredible chore. I've got to get both girls, both of their bags, both of their blankets for nap time, my purse, my lunch and now my shoes since I'm wearing snow boots, loaded and everyone buckled and situated with toys to entertain them. I can't carry it all at once, so I make a couple of trips. Invariably something is forgotten - after I've set the house alarm - and I run back in for it. Since S is big enough to walk and get in by herself, she usually wanders around while I'm loading everything else and Baby R into their assigned spaces. During this time, I'm simultaneously squawking, "Get in the car, S. Buckle in, honey. It's time to go!" Monday I was getting frustrated because she was just ignoring me, and it was FREEZING cold, so I was trying to have the doors open as short a time as possible. I finished getting Baby R situated, closed her door and walked around to the other side. S was throwing Cheerios on the ground, then burying them in the snow. "What are you doing?" I asked her. "Feeding the birds, Mommy!" Interesting process you've decided on.

This is relevant to a story below about Baby R. S still wants us to wave good-bye when she goes potty. She occasionally just flushes and tells me she's done (then I remind her to wash her hands, for the love of all that's holy before touching that spoon or your baby sister!). But she has never, ever gone and not mentioned it. Until Sunday. Hold that thought....


Update on Baby R
While so much growth and change happens the first year, I think months 13-18 are when the biggest leaps and bounds that we see take place. In the last week she's figured out how to do up buckles, which S loved to do, too. She gets frustrated that she can't undo them yet. She's still opening and closing cabinets and drawers, but now instead of just taking things out, she's putting things away. She can following simple commands. (CAN, not always does.) She is enjoying roughhousing with Daddy and Sissy. The other night, DH was on his stomach on the living room floor and S was rubbing his back and karate chopping him (the beauty of preschooler massage). Baby R toddled over and body-slammed him to join in the fun. It was hysterical from my perspective. DH found it amusing later.

Sunday was Dad's 71st birthday. We had my parents and sister, D, over for dinner. As the oldest of our children is only 3, we are possession of candles with numerals on them that only go up to 3. For my bday a few weeks ago, DH had put "32" on top. Aw, honey, so sweet of you to make me younger than I am! I thought he was going to do that with Dad's cake, too, but he went for obnoxious instead. (Should have known!) He came down the hall and we started singing. And saw it had "123" on top. Ha!

We finished dinner, and I was taking dishes back to the kitchen. I passed the bathroom and saw Baby R standing by the toilet. She's been waving bye-bye with us when big sister goes potty now that she can walk. But in doing so, she tends to grab the seat - gross! I stopped in my tracks and started telling her "No" while trying to block her to keep her from touching anything with her hands. Then I noticed toilet paper. Wet toilet paper. Dangling from her MOUTH. (Imagine me doing the heeby-jeeby dance here.) I had a moment of panic where all I could say was "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!" Everyone else was alarmed at my freaking out. I had my hands full so asked my mom to grab her and get her out of the bathroom. "Clean out her mouth! Wash off her hands! Gross! Gross!! GROSS!!!!" I set everything down and tried not to throw up thinking about how disgusting it was. My sister, D, was trying to control her amusement. She knew I was overreacting. She said, "Someday, Jenn, this will be funny." I know. It will. But at that moment, it was all I could do to keep my dinner down. (I have a weak stomach. List that as an option for Understatement of the Year. I stopped eating ketchup when I was 8 because kids told me it was blood. I know it isn't, but I still don't eat it.)

So Monday night on my way home from work, I was telling my other sister, J, about it. She was joking that Baby R must be getting influenced by her "cousins," the dogs. I laughed, and was walking into the house at the end of our conversation, and pretty much on cue, she had to chastise her dog to get out of the garbage. I laughed again, said goodbye, and as I opened the door to go inside, the first thing I saw? Baby R in the recycle bin. Oy vey.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Antagonistic Zach

I'm excited to offer my first link to the Red Riding Hood. I love Nichole's blog, In These Small Moments, and Cheryl's blog, Mommypants, and we've become Twitter buddies as well. So it was only a matter of time before I discovered their Red Dress Club last fall and wanted to get in on the fun, but kind of had a lot of other things going on. I was surprised how well this went considering my creative writing skillz are quite rusty, and the prompt seemed pretty challenging. I had no idea where this story was going to go and it changed directions several times even though it's really short. So much fun!!

•  •  •  •  •  •  •

Antagonistic Zach
Awash in fear, Xandra's face was pallid in the rare winter Seattle sunlight. "Back away slowly," she thought to herself as the Doberman approached her with a throaty growl. "Could this really be happening?"

Dogs excite fear in many people, but not to the extreme degree they affected Xandra. Even as a baby, she had inherently sensed they were a nemesis. Fortunately, her family hadn't owned any pets, so as long as she could claim allergies as a reason not to love them, she didn't find it difficult to avoid them. Given that she had never told a soul about this heart-wrenching phobia, it was quite a shock to find that her only enemy in human form had deduced her secret.

"Help!" she screamed hopelessly, her voice getting lost in the wind whipping off the waves. "I need help!!"

Just as she reached the edge of the pier (that had only hours ago teemed with fisherman) and had nowhere to go but the hypothermia-inducing Pacific ocean, the sun reflected off of something in her peripheral vision. "Knife the dog with the fish blade!" she thought. "Let me see if I can reach it without encouraging an attack. Maybe my luck hasn't completely run out after all."

Near enough to touch it now, she slowly reached out and picked up the knife, holding it in front of her to keep the dog at bay while she tried to calm her nerves and draw upon her Navy S.E.A.L. training. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the boat. Proudly, Zach stood at the helm watching his carefully orchestrated scenario unfold.

"Question for ya, Zach. Red or blue?" Xandra asked, a possible escape plan developing in her mind.

"Sorry?" he replied.

Then before he could figure out what she meant, Xandra turned and threw the knife with the precision that one expects from an assassin of her caliber. Unprepared, Zach only had time to slightly shift to the side, avoiding a deadly hit, but still sustaining a serious injury. Vexed by the turn of events, the Dobie wasn't sure if he should attack Xandra or assist his beloved owner. Water sprayed up from the sea startling him to action, but it was too late. Xandra had stealthily crept around his blind side and was almost to her car. Yelping in frustrating, the dog could only watch as Xandra sped away, her quick reflexes and MacGyver-like ability to resolve a perilous situation having saved her yet again. Zach gripped his bleeding shoulder and vowed that next time she wouldn't be so lucky.

This post was inspired by the prompt to write a 26-sentence piece in which each sentence starts with sequential letter of the alphabet, starting with "A."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Husky 20-Piece T-Handle Driver Set


I'm excited to have my first Giveaway here at Midwest "Mom"ments! Husky provided a complimentary set of tools to me to review, and you, dear readers, get to be the recipients of them when you enter to win.

The product I was given to review is Husky's 20-Piece T-Handle Driver Set (SKU 836 395) pictured here.

The set contains the following items:
Square S 0
Square S 2
Slotted SL 2
Slotted SL 5
Hex H 1/8
Hex H 5/32
Phillips PH 1
Phillips PH 2
Pozi PZ 0
Ratcheting T-Handle Driver with 10 Bits

For more information on Husky and their tools, see their website

Husky is a well-known name in the tool world, so I had fairly high expectations for this product. Luckily it showed up at Christmastime, so I had plenty of toys that needed screwdrivers for assembly/battery upgrades to test them on! To be fair, none of them required the Square, Hexagonal or Pozi drivers, so I can't speak to their usefulness, but I am confident they are made of the same quality as the other items in the set.

One toy required a Phillips head to remove the battery cover. I used the Husky Phillips PH 1 for the job. The grip was comfortable and felt secure. The battery cover didn't provide much resistance, but it was easier to use the T-shape than a standard screwdriver handle which can cause your hand to feel tired. I used the ratcheting handle with one of the Phillips bits to replace the cover, pictured here. Because that was a fairly simple task, I also tried it on a tougher item, a chair that had a screw that needed to be tightened.

+ They are screwdrivers and they did their job.
+ I much prefer the T-Handle grip to a standard screwdriver. It's more comfortable and I get better torque with it.
+ The ratcheting handle is even better for heavy-duty jobs. It kept the tip in place which helped avoid stripping the screw head.
+ I also liked the T-Handle and ratchet because they prevented the fatigue that is sometimes associated with using a standard screwdriver handle.
+ Ergonomic shape is easier for someone to use who has arthritis or other issues with regular screw drivers. 
+ It comes with a "Guaranteed Forever" warrantee that states if it ever fails, Husky will replace it for free.
- Storage might be a little more cumbersome due to the shape.
- The sizes available are limited.



Now the part you've all been waiting for. There are three ways to enter. Here's how:

1. Post a comment below.

2. Tweet this and copy me (@MidwestMomments) for verification. Post a comment below noting that you did.

3. Go to my Facebook page and "Like" it. Copy and paste this as a post to the page:

Midwest "Mom"ments is Husky! (In a good way.)

Post a comment below noting that you did.

Do one or all - you get an entry for each comment below.  Be sure to include your email address with your comment so I can contact you if you win.

I received a free 20-Piece T-Handle Driver Set for hosting this review and giveaway. Please note: I only received one set but was able to open it without destroying the packaging, so when you receive it, it will have already been opened. All the pieces have been replaced and no damage was done to the item when it was tested. All opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by any other source. I was not compensated to provide an opinion of the product or Husky. This giveaway is open to US residents only. It begins on Thursday, January 6, 2011 and will end on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 12:00pm. One winner with a valid entry will be selected using the Sequence Generator at The winner will be announced on or before Friday, January 14.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


It's funny how people in the same family remember the same events differently. Or in my case, how my sister, J, just doesn't remember them at all. It's really hard to enjoying reminiscing when 90% of our conversations go something like this:

M:  "Oh my gosh, J, you'll never guess who I ran into yesterday! So-and-so! Remember her? We both had a crush on you-know-who! Wasn't that hysterical? That time we took you to such-and-such a place was so much fun. We were so dorky! "

J: Pauses. "Um, no, I don't remember going there."

M: "Oh. Well, you remember her, though, right? The one with the really long blonde, curly hair and huge bangs?"

J: "That pretty much describes every one of the girls at school."

M: True. "Yeah, but so-and-so was tall and had that jean jacket?" Wait that doesn't really help. "She had a sister who was in cheerleading with you... what was her name...."

J: "You know I don't remember anything from our childhood."

J: Sigh. "I know."

 So on Christmas Eve when we were filling the stockings and eating Santa's cookies, we started talking about one Christmas in particular that stuck with both of us. I was excited to relive those memories with her. It's rare for that kind of thing to happen, and I was shocked at the details she could conjure up. But I also understood why. That Christmas was different. It was the one year we peeked.

Our mom is from Manitoba, so we never took vacation per se; any traveling we did was to visit family. The trip to Mom's hometown is a 14-hour car ride, and we usually went in the summer to escape the sticky midwest heat, but occasionally made the trek twice a year and braved the bitter cold around Christmastime as well. Since dad was a mailman, he didn't get time off at Christmas, so when we started talking about this specific trip, he insisted we were mistaken. I imagine there were years we went before or after the holiday, but one year, my sister and I both agreed, we were definitely there on Christmas Eve.

We stayed at Grandma's house like we did with every visit until her stroke when I was in high school. The aunt and uncle who had cousins closest to our age were there, too. All nine of us kids slept in the basement. We, of course, stayed up as long as we could to try to catch Santa. I think I was 10 or so, and J would have been about 8, so we were of an age to be in on the secret that he wasn't real, but we played along knowing he wouldn't bring presents to those who thought he didn't exist. And we were sensitive to the presence of our younger cousins.

Inevitably, we all fell asleep. My sister remembered that one of our cousins set the alarm clock for 2 or 3am. Everyone got up and stealthily crept up the old stairs that had chips in the brown paint. We leaned against the worn railing and paneled walls to avoid the creaky spots. I remember it feeling like it took forever for all nine of us to get to the top. Whenever someone made a noise, we all froze and held our breath, afraid we'd get caught.

Finally, our anticipation having reached a fervor, we arrived at the kitchen and silently made our way across the linoleum floor, past the counter laden with Grandma's delicious baked goods and the curio containing tchotchkes. Our feet found the soft carpet of the living room that had yet to obtain updated furniture so it was like a time warp to the late '60's, early 70's. There were so many of us that the presents almost filled the room. Though it was dark, there was reflection from the snow to send enough moonlight through the big front window that we could see which presents belonged to each of us.

Oddly enough, though I'm the one with the better memory in general, I don't remember what presents we got that year. I think our cousins got Cabbage Patch kids, but maybe that was the year we got them. (That would have made it 1984 since '83 was the year of the craze, and our parents refused to succumb to the insanity.) Anyway, the specifics of that part of the night are lost on me. I had thought we just checked the stockings and big, unwrapped presents. J, though, distinctly remembers carefully unwrapping her gifts, a locket in particular.

We were all giddy with the adrenaline of doing something forbidden and the joy of discovering which of our wishes had come true.  Shushing each other and prodding everyone to finish re-wrapping gifts, we snuck back to the basement. It was tough to settle down and get back to sleep, but we eventually did.

Christmas morning we got up and joined our parents. I don't know how our cousins felt, but J and I were incredibly disappointed. It was such a let down to already know what we'd gotten. We all put on a fake smile and tried to be excited, but J remembers being unable to convince our parents that she was as thrilled with the locket as she should have been and giving us away. I don't think we were in trouble really, but even if we had been punished, it wouldn't have mattered. That disappointment was the best instrument in teaching us not to peek. We never did it again.

This post was inspired by the Julia's Working Mommy Wednesday prompt to write about a Christmas memory.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's day three of those "goals." So far, I'm not doing too badly. I managed to go for a walk each of the last two days. I didn't lose my temper with the girls. I only drank 4-5 glasses of water a day, but that's better than the 1-2 I had been drinking, so progress! I did a devotion on the 1st and went to church yesterday. Things were looking pretty good until this morning.

I don't know why I bother going to bed. It's not like I get to sleep. (If only it was for reasons as racy as it sounds!) Last night Baby R was up for a couple of hours, and then S got up at 5:30am. For the day. 5:30am, people! WTH!?!?!? I was so annoyed. So even though I said a quick prayer for patience, or at the very least, the ability to bite my tongue, by the time Baby R had pinched my nipple while I was carrying her around for the THIRD time, I snapped at her. Ugh. Poor thing. Then S was (of course) so tired that she fought me at every turn, and I finally lost it when she refused to put her socks and shoes on. Big fail. Sigh. Will try to get more sleep tonight and do better tomorrow.

I'm so glad I don't do the traditional resolutions about wanting to lose weight because at work today there are chocolate chip cookie bars, peanut butter cup cookies and truffles. Seriously would have lost my willpower by now. On my fifth glass of water today. That's enough "dieting" for today... 

In other news, I have a product review and giveaway that I'm going to post about this week - yay!

But first, a few notes about the babies because I know you all don't get enough of them. :)

Baby R has started tugging on her hair when she's sleepy. I had completely forgotten that S used to do that since she has an ear fetish.

S has been looking for the Elf on the Shelf every morning since Christmas and doesn't get why he's not here after 10 explanations. Hopefully she'll be on the same page with me before Valentine's Day.

She cracks me up with her vocab. The other day she told me there was a car that was "similar" to my old one. It was, too.

She is now obsessed with Chinese food since DH introduced it to her a couple of weeks ago. Orange chicken, to be precise. She LOVES it. That and "forks n cookies."

She told her first lie last week. She was brushing her teeth and I left to do something in another room. When I came back I asked if she had spit (something I check with her about now that she's using "real" toothpaste with fluoride). She said yes. But she was standing in the same spot as when I left her. So I looked in the sink. It was empty. I mentioned it and then she said she rinsed it out. I told her she couldn't reach the handle. She said she climbed up on the sink. I couldn't believe she kept building on it. I told her how it was ok that she hadn't spit, it was more important that she tell me what really happened. Oy.

S, handing me some "presents" wrapped in Cool Whip containers: "Mom! I got you some junk!"

M: I'd really like you to pick up the Legos.
S: Well, that's just not gonna happen.
M: You crack me up, kid.
S: I know.

S: What's wrong, Mama?
M: Oh, I've got cramps.
S: I think you're gettin' old.

Ah, kids.... 
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