Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Produce Partners in Kansas City

Don’t freak out, but once again I am using this blog for good. I have a friend (Erin Schmidt) who has started a business with her husband and I offered to promote it a little.

They have a great website for you to check out, but here’s the gist of it in co-owner Erin Schmidt’s own words:

“We’re starting a full-service vegetable and herb gardening business, installing and maintaining organic gardens for individuals, families, communities and businesses. This concept has become extremely popular on the West Coast and we're going to give it a try here in Kansas City.

We're calling the venture Produce Partners, because we really want it to be a partnership between us and our customers to create something really wonderful. It's a way of re-connecting with our food source, making productive use of our land, improving our diet with organic produce and building community at the same time.

It’s about getting gardens in people’s yards again – over the past 30 years there’s been a steady decline in the number of people that grow their own food, and we’d like to change that. Even people who don’t have a “green thumb” deserve to have fresh organic vegetables from their own garden. That’s where we can help.
For those of you familiar with CSA (community supported agriculture) programs, what we provide is similar in that we grow organic produce for you. The additional benefits of a backyard garden are:

-- You choose what you want grown in your vegetable & herb garden – It's like having your very own farmer's market in your back yard

-- We deliver to your doorstep (or you can pick the produce whenever you want) – This is convenience at its best

-- Talk about local – when the distance your food travels to your dining room table is measured in feet rather than miles, we are helping reduce your carbon footprint

-- No yard space or no sun? worries. Ask your neighbors to see if they are interested – if so perhaps they could provide the garden space and you can split the cost & the bounty of the garden.

We want to use these winter months to plan the gardens with our customers so when spring arrives we can get to work gardening. In other words, please don’t wait until spring to contact us…

We have developed a website that provides information about our services ( and we encourage you to check that out. We’re currently taking customers for the 2009 season – for this first year we’re limiting our customer base so we can do a really great job from day one.

Happy New Year! And Erin, just put a link to my blog on your web site and I'll consider your advertising bill paid in full!!! Just kidding!

Monday, December 29, 2008

On Death and Dying

When my dad would turn left in front of oncoming traffic, my mom would say, “Ahhhhh! I’m in the death seat!”

Aron made a little stool for Callie, but the base isn’t wide enough or something. The kids get on it and fall off or almost smack their faces on counters, etc. I call it the “death stool.” As in: “Get off the death stool! I don’t have time to go to the ER today.”

Earlier this year Aron’s cousin and his wife had a baby who only lived a few hours after she was born. The Visitation was probably the saddest thing I have ever personally witnessed (Shannon’s memorial service was a close second). The tiny baby girl was in an open casket for everyone to see. I didn’t want the kids to witness such a sad thing, but then God reminded me that I’m not in control. I went to change my own baby girl’s diaper and came back to see Aron and the kids in front of the baby’s casket, discussing the situation.

I think it’s important to talk about death with kids and with each other. To make light of it. To bring humor to it, when appropriate. The kids were not freaked out by the sight of the baby. You of course know what Crybaby (me) did. I wasn’t sad for the baby, who I absolutely believe is in a wonderful place. I was sad for the people who would not get to physically hold her on a daily basis. I was sad for what could have been.

I guess everything is as it is supposed to be, bad or good, right or wrong. Think about this: If Adam Walsh had not died, would his dad have gone on to start an organization that has helped capture so many criminals? If I hadn’t been married before to Shrek’s mean twin brother, would I have appreciated being married now to the man of my dreams? If I hadn’t lost my own baby so long ago, would I disgustingly smother my children with love these days? If my parents had had more children, would be as close as we are? I’m still trying to figure out why Shannon died, but I’m confident it will all be revealed someday.

Anybody have any good death jokes? Jeez, tough crowd out there today.

How about this one: tell me your favorite Christmas gift you received … either yesterday or ever.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Duggars

When I think of the Duggar Family, a Pink Floyd song comes to mind and I change it to say, “Hey. People. Leave them Duggars alone.”

They are not in debt. They are not on welfare. They are not on food stamps. We are not paying for their health insurance or their daycare with our taxes. They are not taking tuition assistance to send their kids to a private school.

They seem to be raising some pretty cool kids who know the value of a dollar, who aren’t ashamed to shop at a thrift store whether they have a ton of money or not, who value human beings over STUFF.

So instead of bitching about these amazing people, why not gripe about the able-bodied people who are sucking on the government boob full-time? The people who are neglecting their kids: the 4-year-old girl I came across at the park ALONE. And this happens often in my world.

Do you have any idea how many kids I could have right now if I made off with all the ones I came across who are neglected (don’t get me started on people who have to be on cell phones and laptops instead of playing with their ONE measly kid at the McDonald’s Playland)? I could fill a mansion.

So get off my Duggars!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Nightmare: Alone Time

I recently had a dream. Aron was going on a fishing trip and was taking all the kids. Even the one-year-old, still-breastfeeding, can’t-get-to-sleep-unless-she’s-on-her-mama Eva.

My rational friend Ellen and a couple of her friends were telling me to calm the hell down, that it’s no big deal and to enjoy my Alone Time.

And I’m yelling at her, “How can I enjoy my alone time when my breasts are going to be so full of milk they’re exploding and I’m having to pump several times a day and I can’t sleep because I’m worried about how my baby is getting to sleep and they didn’t even take bottles because we don’t really own any?”

So I tried calling Aron’s cell phone and even my own cell phone in case he took that, but neither phone was answered. And instead of scrapbooking or going to the community center to work out or going to a movie with my mom and Cathy or working on my novel, I AM FREAKING OUT.

Then Aron comes back and there is my precious baby (not sure where the other kids were at this point, but clearly I worry about them less since they are more “self-sufficient”!)and I tell him, “You are NOT taking her.” And he goes, “Yeah, I know.”

Aron thinks it’s hilarious that my nightmare is Alone Time.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Scrapbooking Projects

1. Regular chronological albums. These started when Joel was born and there are already so many I’ve done and I can honestly see having about 100 of these by the time my kids are grown. These are the ones that are easy to tote around and work on when I’m visiting and the kids are playing.

2. Baby books. I’m done with Michael’s and Callie’s. Joel’s isn’t like the others, so I’m making him one like theirs, which will be a negative-finding, reprint-ordering nightmare, but I like a challenge.

3. Special albums. I’ve made one for our wedding (and the fun leading up to it), our honeymoon and one for our 2000 trip to New England.

4. ABC albums. I started these little 7x7 albums for the boys and put doubles and stickers on each page to correspond with a letter of the alphabet. Ask me how many times they look at them and if Callie’s is anywhere near done.

5. Tutu album. My mom bought a couple of albums from me when I was a Creative Memories consultant and now I’m filling them with pictures of her and her grandchildren. I should have the first one ready for her by her 97th birthday (she’s 58 now).

6. My favorites album. This came about when a friend gave me a top-loading album, which I don’t normally use. I didn’t want to waste it, and I had too many doubles that were too great to make into squares, so I tediously went through all my doubles and picked out my favorites. The challenge comes again with the advent of the digital camera in our house … now when I get things printed through CVS or Winkflash or whoever, I have to keep in mind: do I need an extra of this for the Tutu album? Eva’s baby album? For my dad’s fridge?

Yeah, I know, how many hours am I spending on something that could so easily go up in flames or be destroyed by a flood or that my kids may someday accidentally throw out of a moving car window. But I love looking back at these albums even if they don’t care much about it. But as I get caught up, I see them wanting to know when things happened, and I can show them not only the pictures but also journaling of things we said and how we felt at the time the pictures were taken. Not only am I LIVING life to the fullest and making memories worthy of lots of photos, but I’m carving out moments here and there to put them into albums I can enjoy for years to come (that’s the plan, anyway).

PLEASE comment … do you love scrapbooking? What projects are you working on? How far behind are you? If you are all caught up, know that I hate you, Bree Van de Kamp Hodge.

Or … do you despise scrapbooking? Dismiss it as a waste of time? Prefer to spend time LIVING life and MAKING memories rather than pasting them down and adding captions?

Anyone out there besides Sarah in England scrapbook?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Scrapbooking Squares

Merry Christmas and all that crap.

Thanks for being born, Sweet Baby Jesus, so I can have a day to be with my family (which includes my mom and step-dad this year). I get to watch them open presents and play and be happy. It’s also an excuse to eat cinnamon rolls and a bacon/egg/cheese bake and drink Starbuck’s Christmas Blend coffee. I think I’ll even attempt to make a turkey this year with some easy fixin’s.

It’s also a day I will be scrapbooking for relaxation (“relaxation” also means accomplishing something to me, but that will all change someday and I will “retire” and take naps and learn how to be still with myself and go for long walks and watch every movie ever made like my dad does)!

I discovered scrapbooking right after I got married in 1998, but I slacked off on it. If I had known that simply finding a way to pee alone and having to write “take a shower” in my planner would become issues, I would’ve worked my butt off back then on getting the backlog scrapbooked.

I used to always get doubles of photos so I could give a picture to someone else in the photo besides my kids. The problem was that I had WAY TOO MANY leftover doubles that were not great, were a little out of focus, etc. I had been happy to use them in my albums (those pictures are of my BABIES and I have trouble doing away with even ONE of them), but what to do with the doubles?

So I got out my Creative Memories square maker (like a punch), which has two sizes, and started punching out things like Joel’s little feet hanging out from his high chair, a cute side view of Michael’s face, Callie from behind picking up a pumpkin. You could also use a circle maker or any shape you want. I just like the way the squares all go together.

Someone gave me a top-loading album (which I don’t normally use), and I decided to make it a “My Favorites” album and used the squares to make some border pages to begin new sections:

Joel's section:

Michael's section:

Callie's section:

One problem with digitals is that, because I only get the photos printed that I need, Eva will only have a page like this at 12 cents per print! But you know I’ll have to find a way to make her one.

Chris is probably having a fit right now … I’m pretty sure she just pops in digital photos from her computer into a nice layout on the computer screen and then somehow prints it out or else takes it somewhere to be printed.

I seem to always make my crafting harder than it should be. This is evidenced by the number of projects I have going on right now, which we’ll go into tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Aunt Cathy Recipes

Holy crap! I served you guys BAD yesterday! (that’s slang for “I verbally kicked your butts”). I apologize. But we’re friends, right? That’s why I know you’ll let me make it up to you by posting my Aunt Cathy’s Snicker Cake recipe.

You, too, can be “voluptuous” like me!!!!

Never mind. I can’t find it. It’s floating around somewhere “on my desk” (translation: it’s either on my computer desk or the kitchen desk or in a stack of papers and I’ll definitely find it AFTER this post has been published).

Alright, then. How about her Dilly Dip recipe? Let me say first of all that I so totally DIG my Aunt Cathy. She is always understanding when my kids melt down at her house. She is sweet and kind and I don’t give a crap that she is divorced from my dad’s brother. She will always be my aunt, and I will always love her. When I got married she gave me a bunch of recipes. Since she is arguably the best cook ever, I’ll share a couple here.

Dilly Dip
16 oz. sour cream
2 T fresh minced onion
2 T Beau Monde or Bon Appetit (a spice)
1 pint Hellman’s mayo
2 T dry parsley
2 T dill weed

Mix above and let set overnight. Serve in a hollowed-out round loaf of pumpernickel bread. Serve with broken pieces of pumpernickel.

Broccoli Salad
10-12 strips crumbled, cooked bacon
½ cup raisins
¼ cup red onion chopped
1 pkg. fresh broccoli flowers

Blend the following together before adding to the rest:
1 cup mayo
½ cup sugar
2 T vinegar

Marinate one hour, then serve.

Merry Christmas Eve!!! Now I gotta go wrap a buttload of gifts from "Santa."

If you have small kids, check this out:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Surprise, Unexpected, Accidental Mistake (Pregnancy)

Dad Warning: this post may not be a good one for you to read!

Women Warning: you’ll probably all be offended, too. I don’t want to get hate mail on this topic, so just know that I may make your blood boil today.

I loved the book Table for Eight by Meagan Francis (reviewed yesterday). My only problem with it is on page ix, where the sentence reads,

“Maybe you were surprised with a series of unexpected pregnancies.”

Then she talks about the author (Leslie Leyland Fields) of a book titled Surprise Child: Finding Hope In Unexpected Pregnancy saying how she “admits that her fifth and sixth pregnancies were the realization of one of her biggest fears. She writes that she was crushed to have to start again at the beginning …”

That’s funny. MY biggest fear is being too dense to realize that pregnancy is caused by sex, especially after I’ve done it FOUR times.

I’m trying to figure out how to NOT freak out here. Where do I begin? I guess some of you will be shocked to learn that I am pro-choice … the CHOICE being whether or not to have sex.

First of all, please do not EVER refer to an unplanned pregnancy as a “mistake” in my presence. A mistake is when I do something mindless like put salt instead of sugar in a recipe or when I call Joel by his brother’s name, NOT when I have sex and make a HUMAN BEING.

Secondly, what about this thing called Feminism? Didn’t we fight to be the hot shi* we are now? So why can’t we take responsibility when something happens in our lives? How is a pregnancy unexpected if you had some sex, ANY sex? This is an insult to all the women who are unable to get pregnant either on their own or with the help of science.

Third, never have I had a pregnancy be a SURPRISE. Um, I pretty much know when I’m having sex, unless I’m asleep for the whole thing, and I’m SURPRISED this hasn’t happened a few times being as how I’m exhausted every night at 9 p.m. So if I’m a big girl and know that the equation is “sex can equal a pregnancy” … then how is it a surprise? That being said, it WOULD be a surprise to me to become pregnant with, say, sextuplets without using fertility drugs.

Fourth, referring to a pregnancy as an accident is asinine. Here’s how I see it going down, and I’ll try not to be too graphic: I have just taken a shower and am naked. My husband walks in, only he TRIPS on his way in. He falls ON TOP OF me just the right way and … voila! He impregnates me! Stupid, right?

Bottom line: Even if you are using a titanium diaphragm, are breastfeeding day and night, your man is wearing the strongest condom ever made AND had a double vasectomy, and you are on 5 kinds of the Pill (including the ones where you don’t bleed for, like, a YEAR) …

Although there are many scientific ways to figure out when you are fertile, IF YOU HAVE SOME SEX, YOU MIGHT GET PREGNANT.

Class dismissed, and please NEVER ask me if I know what causes my large family!

I still love ya’ll, and tomorrow I’ll make it up to you for putting up with my yelling and ranting.

Girls, it’s like I always tell my husband (something stolen from Judge Judy):

Beauty fades, but dumb is forever.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Googlebot Searches That Lead to My Blog

Dawn over at Because I Said So does this, so I’m gonna copy her.

Consider this an early Christmas present from me: the gift of you knowing you are normal!

Here are some interesting Internet (Google and otherwise) searches that landed readers here:

“freaky things to do in bed”
What’s possibly more disturbing is that either more than one person is searching this or the same person keeps coming back over and over.

“NFP and the wedding night”
Glad to be of service on the Natural Family Planning front. Use it. Love it. It works.

“Nighttime wetting”
Yep, we’ve all done it and probably will again someday.

“Primerica IRA”
Hate them. No secret.

“Deep questions for online friends”
Sorry to disappoint on this one. I really just want to know why Caillou has no hair. Anyone?

“Where can I hide my diapers from my friends?”
Tresa wrote a comment once about me hiding money in my diaper pail, but otherwise I don’t need to hide my diapers from my friends. I’m not TOO worried that they will steal them.

“Extra breasts”
Shouldn’t you be searching for “plastic surgery” instead?

“spanking and Roman Catholic confession”
Sounds like a personal issue in need of therapy to me. I was just writing a clean Thanksgiving post.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

When Your Grandma Dies

Last week both Aron and Ambre had to deal with the death of a grandmother.

After we found out, I looked out the window and all I could think of was, “Who the hell cares if the neighbors never get their house painted more than the halfway it is now? Who cares if I never get time to work on articles? Who cares if I have a few pounds to lose? Who cares if the laundry piles up?”

None of that matters.

So I’d better quit with my “the roads work both ways” crap with my grandma and just put our 5 butts in the van and make the ½ hour trip to go see she and my grandpa. They did so much for me growing up; who cares that I made some decisions when I was younger that she didn’t agree with? Who cares that she tries to guilt me every Christmas because I decided to celebrate it at my own home with my own family? Who cares that she doesn’t like it that I do family bed and nurse my kids forever?

None of that will matter when she’s dead. If she doesn’t realize that, at least I do. That’s going to have to be enough for the both of us for now.

Aron and I have been together 13 years and haven’t had to go through a death like this yet. I don’t know what to do for him, so I do what I know makes him happy: I clean. Order helps him relax. I got all my crying out so I could focus on him. Then I offered to take the kids to the indoor play area. He was thrilled to have some time alone. I made sure he understood that I still have FOUR grandparents left, so he’ll be doing nice things like this for me many more times than I will for him. My poor husband; how does he put up with me?

Ambre’s grandma was always cool. You can read more about her here.

Aron’s grandma Della was practical, kind, down-to-earth, had 11 kids (two who died before I even met Aron; her husband also died before I met Aron), lived on a farm, had a great sense of humor and was sharp-minded right up until the end. You always felt comfortable around her.

I will miss these two grandmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Deep Thoughts from 2008… With Kerrie

I have a lot of crap in my head that wouldn’t make a decent blog post but that makes for some decent pondering …

1. I have a Mossimo Casual Tee. When it gets dirty I call it a Casualty.

2. Somehow watching a Pilates workout while eating a cheeseburger and fries with my kids in the middle of the day feels clandestine and wonderful!

3. What’s up with high heels? I like to be able to walk without breaking an ankle. People depend on me. I can’t go convalescing for weeks on end because I wanted to look pretty for an hour.

4. It annoys my husband, but I peel off all the Best Choice labels from all items in the house so I can donate them to the Belton Cat Shelter. I do write on cans what’s in them. I’m not totally mean.

5. My son Joel sometimes refers to himself in the 3rd person. He does it because I can’t always differentiate their voices, so when I ask a question he’ll say, “Joel wants a sundae.” or “Joel’s done with his math.”

You got any deep thoughts, or what? Please, tell me something you do that annoys your husband or kids, at least!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Be An Amazing Father

Why wait for Father’s Day to express my love for my dad? Besides, I did a post for my mom a while back, and methinks Dad is wondering where HIS is!!! Well, Dad, as you would say … here she be! (there are some great You Tube videos in here for your enjoyment, especially for my older more mature demographic. Just click on the different-colored words.)

My dad used to let me listen to his Ventures records in my room when I was a kid and dance like a freak. Walk, don’t run! I think I’m reincarnated from the 60s.

One weekend day, I was very bored. Instead of yelling at me to find something to do or assigning a chore (like I do with my kids), he shocked me by taking me to Toy City and letting me get a few things. All I remember is getting one of those orange worm-on-a-string things that you attached to a button to make it seem like it was moving on its own.

He used to take me to Bitterman’s Candy Store in the summer and let me pick out a bunch of unique stuff. Their slogan was : Have a Sweet Day. This is probably why I’m the Sugar Mama today.

He used to take me out of school once a year to go Christmas shopping and see a movie. Once I was in high school, the Administration didn’t want to let him take me out for no good reason, but he gave them hell and did it anyway. I remember seeing Adventures in Babysitting.

He played Beatles music all the time (and lots of other music, too), which turned me into a major fan. We even went together to see Paul McCartney play in Kansas City back in 1993.

He was usually home from work when I got home from school (he was a mailman and went to work early), which headed off a LOT of problems on my end when I was in junior high and high school.

We used to watch Dance Party USA and make fun of everyone.

Sometimes he’d put up a tent and we’d camp out in the backyard. I’m sure he wanted a son to take camping for real, but he never said that.

He is funny. Just check out some of his comments from back when I started the blog.

He took me fishing once. I’ll never forget it, even though fishing isn’t quite my thing.

He once won a radio contest and got to run around a record store collecting as many records as he could in a short amount of time. He got me a Charlie Daniels Band record.

He’s an amazing grandpa. After only having one kid, you’d think it would be hard for him to adjust to so many grandkids, but it is not so. Joel loves the spend the night with “Poppy” (Michael did once, too). The boys adore him, Callie has him wrapped around his little finger (he’s one of the only people who can handle my bittersweet daughter), and even Eva (Mama’s girl) will sit on his lap and get tickly kisses.

I love you, Dad. From Snookums. Oh, and thanks for teaching me to appreciate the song “Feliz Navidad” … dancing around the room singing it has become a highlight in my own home!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

McLoughlin Family Christmas Letter 2008 = Lame-o!

Sorry, but my heart just isn’t in the Christmas letter and photo spirit this year. Last year I was kind of disgusting: within days of giving birth I had a family photo (with label on back telling who everyone was), Christmas card, addressed envelope, stamps and Christmas letter for about 100 people/families. We all sat at the dining room table assembling the whole mess.

I don’t know what I was trying to prove.

So our photo and letter will be on the blog this year. If a word is light blue, click on it and it’ll take you to a blog post for more information. The latest pictures of the kids can be found to the right under the "photos" label/tag. Happy looking!

Aron traveled all summer and then some, but we are thankful he has a job. He found time to make a gorgeous TV stand and FINALLY put up Christmas lights … a project he’s been wanting to get to for 8 years.

I’m working on a bunch of writing projects (online and print), and homeschooling is a blast. I learn new things from a 2nd grade curriculum all the time!!! Every now and then I get to work on my 2006 scrapbooks.

Joel turned 7 this summer and learned to swim in Phoenix and also learned to ride his bike without training wheels. He had his First Reconciliation at church in November.

Michael turned 5 this year and is still wise beyond his years. The things that come out of his mouth and the projects he concocts make him seem like a 90-year-old man sometimes.

At the ripe old age of 3, Callie has discovered Hannah Montana, High School Musical and makeup. She is a bossy little mommy-type, and I have not a clue on Earth where she gets it.

Eva just turned 1 and is a big 26-pounder crawling around and pulling up on the furniture. She has 3 teeth and likes to say “giggle giggle giggle.”

The Family
This summer we went on a mini-vacation with my dad’s family to Branson, Missouri. We spent a lot of time at the local pools, and recently got a 3-month membership to the indoor pool. In July we got sick of being apart, and we all drove 22 hours to Phoenix for 3 weeks. We were only 5 hours from San Diego, so we drove there each weekend. We go to the zoo, on field trips (dairy farm, museum), visiting family and friends. Aron and I stripped wallpaper in our bedroom and will soon be painting and getting new windows. Our garden yielded … crap, I don’t know. We were gone 3 weeks, and I sort of let it go to pot the rest of the time.

Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this blog and to family, friends and neighbors. I pray you are all healthy and safe and content.

Here is our Christmas photo. My mom gave us this snowman thing, thinking we’d be happy with our family of 5 at the time. So Callie added the baby doll to represent herself. And before you even ask, I will answer your questions. The answers are: yes, we would love to have more kids and no, last time I checked we were not clinically insane.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Denim Jumper Apology

I realize it was mean of me to call certain homeschoolers “denim jumper wearers.” Nobody jumped my case; I just started thinking about what I wear around the house … and out of it. So here’s a chance for the Jumper Wearers to make fun of ME.

First of all, I couldn’t wear a jumper even if I wanted to (so maybe I’m just jealous). Picture me trying to hoist the jumper up to my chest to try to breastfeed. I haven’t worn a dress in about 7 years. Wait, there was that ONE nursing dress. But seeing as how I hate to shop, I won’t be heading out to buy a nursing jumper anytime soon.

Second, I’m distantly related to the Jumper Wearer because I wear a long skirt a lot when my sweatpants are dirty or when I’m going to church.

Third, I just fit back into my largest pair of jeans (yep, one YEAR postpartum), which means I’ve been wearing sweats for quite a while almost EVERYWHERE I GO. Thank the Lord for summer and shorts!

Finally, I just found a long-sleeved shirt at Target that I like and bought FOUR of them in different colors. How is THAT for lazy shopping?! And if they’d had my size in ALL the colors, I would’ve bought about 8 of the darn things.

So, go ahead and comment away about my lack of style and shopping sense. I can take it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Interview: Lisa Russell, online freelance writer

I found Lisa when I was new to the blog world and was looking for other Mommy Bloggers. I am grateful I stumbled upon her because she has become a friend and a mentor. She homeschools 6 daughters and makes good money writing solely online and selling ad space on her blogs and websites. She's even written an e-book called "How to Write Nasty Letters."

Lisa’s husband worked as a Director of Photography in Los Angeles and was losing work because he put his family first. They moved to Washington and got into the 15-hour-a-day restaurant business. Eight days after their last daughter was born, they closed the restaurant down due to overwhelming financial burdens. Over the next few months they lost their home and had both their vehicles repossessed. It was devastating, but Lisa started writing for income soon after so her daughters could eat. She says, “After slaving away at the restaurant so much and neglecting my kids for that business I refuse to work outside the home ever again.”

Below is a short interview with this impressive and energetic woman.

KERRIE: How do you find the time to homeschool, write and raise 6 daughters? Do you have a structure or schedule?
LISA: We have a pattern, but I really don't keep track of the time. I write before they wake up and I keep the computer on all day long, pop on and off while they're occupied (or nursing).

KERRIE: How do you keep the kids occupied while you write?
LISA: I usually only try to write things I need to concentrate on when the smaller ones (under age 8) are asleep.

KERRIE: When did you start your freelance writing business?
LISA: About one year ago.

KERRIE: How much time do you spend on it in an average week?
LISA: Three-five hours a day, seven days a week, so 21-35 hours a week.

KERRIE: Does anything suffer because you write? (e.g., the dishes sit for a while, the laundry piles up)
LISA: I feel very blessed that I always have something more important to do than dishes and laundry! I make sure the dishes are done when I go to bed and the kids fold their own laundry because they don't care if it's done right.

KERRIE: Do you older kids help with chores so you can get writing done?
LISA: My 14-year-old has been volunteering to do a lot of the cleaning lately, my 11- and 8-year-olds will clean when I ask them, if I can give them some candies or something.

KERRIE: How many online, blogging sites, etc. have you written for?
LISA: I would estimate between 50 and 100. [like eHow,, Suite 101]

KERRIE: If you've done print work, what (if any)percent of your income would
you guess is based on reprints?
LISA: Alas, I am a wannabe in this department. Online income is so much easier.

KERRIE: Where do you get all of your ideas?!
LISA: My head is a crazy place. I have way too many ideas, and I bet I talk in my sleep. I think I must have some kind of mental disorder that creates too many ideas. It's hard to finish things when you're always thinking of the next thing. You don't want to know how many screenplays I'm writing right now. My characters even get confused.

To learn more about Lisa, check out her blog, Mrs. Hannigan. From there you can link to her other blogs, check out her past posts, leave comments, etc.

What I learned from this interview:
I’m the same way as Lisa as far as having too many ideas … on scraps of paper (the baby eats some of them), on the computer, in spiral notebooks, on a legal pad I write on while I drive. I like working on quick projects online and also longer-term stuff like essays and articles to submit to print publications.

It’s good for kids to learn chores anyway (otherwise how will they take care of themselves when they leave your home?), but when they see that they’re helping their mom so she can do something she loves and is passionate about, kids benefit from that, as well.

When my kids ask for “extras” (like expensive homeschooling supplies or field trips) I tell them if they let me concentrate on writing every now and then we’ll have the money for those things.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

(Surprise) Field Trip: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

December 2020 perspective update: After I posted this, I was contacted by my local museum about my experience. They wanted to talk to me about how to make it more kid-friendly. I kick myself every day because I didn't go talk to them! In 2008, I was in the trenches of parenting and homeschooling 4 kids and having a ball with it and didn't want to leave them crying at home to go have a meeting. I caught some crap about even taking my kids to a nice museum in the first place, so I took this post down. Here it is again though, because I believe in taking kids to museums! In fact, you'll find an entire category about it on my blog now! Happy historical hunting!

Photo taken at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art January 2020

I’d found these cute cartoon DVDs at the library that let you “meet” dead artists like Picasso and Matisse and learn about their art. I can’t draw to save my life, but my kids got some artistic talent from their dad, which is another reason why I homeschool. I don’t think one hour a week for art in school is enough. On the rare occasions when I sit my butt down and color or attempt to draw or clumsily do a craft, it relaxes me and I lose track of time just like the kids.

I love going places with my kids. When I have a tiny baby, it’s certainly a challenge, and I usually have to schedule things around having a helper come places with me (Mom, Dad, Aron, my cousin Zee).

Otherwise, I don’t mind taking them to the pool by myself. I don’t mind taking them to Target. I LOVE taking them on educational and fun trips. Even driving to Phoenix (and San Diego) from Kansas City this summer for a 3-week adventure was a great way to get out of the house and just be with my kids.

So one day last week I washed the sling, put the double stroller in the trunk, packed PB&Js and yelled for the kids to get in the van. I had decided the day before that we were going on a Surprise Field Trip to our local museum.

I told them we had to go out for chocolate, which we did. Then the whole way to the museum all I heard was, “Where are we going?” so I turned up the Christmas music louder. We ended up staying for two hours. I called it a reconnaissance mission. The goal was to familiarize them with the museum so we could go back again and see other things and maybe stay longer the next time. Admission was free (donations gladly accepted) and parking was only $5, so it seemed like a deal to me.

Once someone asked me if I left my younger 2 kids with a sitter while going on a homeschool field trip to PetCo. And I asked her this:

Why does a field trip have to consist of 1 teacher, 3 parents, 1 guide and 25 kinda bored kids who are just SO excited to be out of class that they don’t pay much attention anyway? It’s true that Joel enjoyed the museum more than the little ones, but they did okay. Next time I may send Joel along with just his dad or a grandparent, though, so he can see what he wants without being rushed.

But how cool is it for a kid to spend an afternoon with his mom and siblings being unrushed and learning what he wants to learn about? All too soon my kids won’t want much to do with me (eeek … the teen years!). I need to love on them as much as I can right now, today. I dig being a mom, and I want my kids to feel that.

The only incident was when Callie couldn’t keep her hands off sculptures and paintings at the end. I told her she’d go to Art Jail, but it didn’t work. When she full-on fondled a painting called Bikini from 1964, a mean older guy guard barked at me that I “might want to get control of that one.”

Yes, Readers, you know me. I first said, “You have no idea how right you are, Sir.” Then I got mad as I left and was muttering things like, “I’m gonna get control of YOU, dude!” and “It’s a PAINTING; not life or death. Jeez. Maybe if you had some stuff they COULD touch they wouldn’t want to touch EVERYTHING.”

So that’s my biggest beef with the museum: that they just did huge and expensive expansion but didn’t do anything for kids. I realize the Nelson is a grown-up art museum and I took a 3-year-old there and told her not to touch anything (so I was totally askin’ for it), but Phoenix’s museum at least has a nook for kids to touch stuff and read about art and draw.

A good lesson was learned today, though. On the way to the museum we drove through a very ritzy neighborhood with lots of what Joel called “mansions.” He said, “I’ll bet the people who live in those are really happy.” I said, “Not necessarily. I wouldn’t be happy in a house like that because I’d have to clean it. Also, we’d never see your dad because he’d have to work all the time to be able to afford our home.”

I believe that if I teach my kids that all there is to life is attending college and making lots of money, then the homeschool experience will have been a complete and total failure.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Interview: Jessica G. Fisher of

A couple of years ago I started noticing Jessica Fisher’s name in almost every issue of Kansas City Parent magazine under “contributing authors”. Her bio said she had five kids, and I COULD NOT UNDERSTAND how she had time to write and send off a publishable article every month. I had only one under my belt and couldn’t fathom ever getting another idea.

I assumed her kids were in school or that she had a nanny. So when I noticed her bio said she now has SIX kids and listed a website address, I ran to the computer and typed in the address. Turns out she HOMESCHOOLS, just like me.

Jessica has a great writing website and also a blog (she wants you to “join me on the Road to Joyful Motherhood”), as well as a book that you can order off of her blog called “Cooking With Children.” Below is a short interview with her.

KERRIE: How do you find time to write with 6 kids and homeschooling? Do you have a schedule? Write when they sleep?

JESSICA: Usually I take Saturday mornings off. That is when I have done the bulk of my writing, pre-baby. I would head to Panera as early as I could wake and come back at lunchtime. I got a lot done during those 5-6 hours. Since the baby was born, I just fit it in here and there, often in the mornings before the entire household is awake. It just doesn't seem productive to go sit in a coffee shop to hold a fussy baby when I could do it so much more comfortably at home. Since I started writing, I've simply put other hobbies (mainly scrapbooks and shopping) on the shelf. There is only a limited amount of time to devote to these things, so the other interests gave way for this one.

KERRIE: When did you start your freelance writing business?
JESSICA: I started writing for magazines in 2006.

KERRIE: How many publications have you written for?
JESSICA: My work has been printed in about 70 regional parenting publications in the US and Canada.

KERRIE: How much time do you spend on it in an average week?
JESSICA: That really depends. I don't have set hours. And I can't really control when I'll get a good idea. I have multiple notebooks here and there for notes. I write whenever I have a good idea and the time to implement it

KERRIE: What percent of your income would you guess is based on reprints?
JESSICA: I have no idea of the percentage, but I usually sell the same piece many times since most of my clients are not in competing markets.

KERRIE: Does anything suffer because you write? (e.g., the dishes sit for a while, the laundry piles up)
JESSICA: Household chores certainly back up, but I don't think that is because I write. If I wasn't doing this, I'd have some other creative project to distract me from housework.

KERRIE: Do you older kids help with chores so you can get writing done? (I am a
big fan of this!)
JESSICA: Writing is something I've always loved, but it is by far a part-time job. I didn't go looking for another job. I love my day job. All my kids over 4 years old have regular weekly chores, but they would have that regardless. They were doing it long before I was writing.

KERRIE: How do you keep the kids occupied while you write?
JESSICA: My kids love their free time and since there are so many of them, they pretty much entertain themselves if I'm doing a task. But, I try not to sit down to write a piece if I know I will be interrupted many times. I try to wait until everyone is asleep for the night.

What I learned from this interview:
Strangely enough, I hadn’t thought of borrowing my husband’s laptop and heading to a place with WiFi and getting some writing done on Saturday mornings (he’s off every other Friday as well!). I guess with all his travel and then trying to catch up on home matters, I didn’t realize that our baby was one year old and that I could leave her for a couple of hours with Daddy and siblings.

What I love about Jessica and her family is that she MAKES the time to write, and her husband supports that by helping with the kids. I expect to see her cranking out a best-selling non-fiction book when her latest baby gets to a “leave-able age.”

I need to set my alarm so I can get some quiet time alone in the mornings, especially since I’m between babies and don’t need as much sleep. That’s much more productive and more kind than trying to write whenever I THINK the kids are occupied and then yelling at them for breaking my concentration.

Have files of article reprints that you own but have no clue where to start reselling them? Have ideas for some fantastic new pieces but no idea who might want them? Check out my 386-page PDF of tips, tricks, and insider information, as well as 384 paying parenting and family markets! Just head to this page to download How to Get Published (and Paid!) Writing About Your Kids and get started immediately!

Sign up for an email subscription to The Published Parent and get two amazing freebies: 10 Parenting Markets That Pay $100+ and 10 Markets That Pay Writers to Write About Writing! And join my Facebook group called Parenting Magazine Writers ... it's FREE and full of tips and tricks and markets and like-minded writer friends!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jesus Shops at Hobby Lobby

(This is a second-hand story, so it’ll be like one of those Geiko celebrity reenactment commercials)

Recently my good friend EK went to Hobby Lobby. She was looking for a basket to put her Christmas cards in and wanted a nice blue (go, Duke!) bow for it. She couldn’t find exactly what she wanted, so she went to the Help area to see if someone there could tie a bow for her basket using the ribbon she had found.

They told her they don’t perform that service anymore.

Defeated, downtrodden, broken, crushed, head hanging down and tears falling from her eyes … what was our heroine to do? She NEEDED that bow on that basket but certainly was not able to tie it herself.

Then a 50-year-old female shopper happened upon the tragic scene.

Shopper: “You need a bow tied? I can do that for you.”

EK was so happy she almost cried. “Thank you, thank you, most generous woman. May I name my first born after you?”

Shopper: “Uh, sure, lady. But you might wanna rethink that. My name is Melba.”

EK: “Why, that is PERFECT. My new husband has been eating loads of melba toast lately. I shall name my firstborn Melba Toast in honor of your kindness.”

The moral of the story is that God is everywhere, just looking for a way to help us with matters both large and small. (But we’ll call that woman “Jesus” since it’s almost His birthday and all that.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chocolate Suicide Recipe

I made this for Eva’s first birthday party along with a strawberry cake. Man, it was a lot of work de-seeding all those strawberries. We also had 3 ice cream choices (all Edy’s): Espresso Chip (my favorite!), Vanilla and Double Fudge Brownie.

Chocolate Suicide
1 box Devils food cake mix (including the ingredients needed: eggs, oil)
12 oz bag of choc chips (or more)
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter

Bake cake according to directions. Let cool completely.

Place chocolate chips in bowl.
In sauce pan heat cream and butter until mixture boils.
Pour mixture over chocolate chips and let stand for 30 seconds.
Whisk until smooth.
Let cool for 15-20 minutes

Crumble cooled cake into small pieces and put into large bowl.
Add half the ganache mixture and mix well (it should resemble fudge).
Place in prepared cake pan and press down and smooth the top.
Freeze for one hour.

Remove cake from freezer, cover top with remaining ganache.

You can put berries on it to make it look pretty or just dig in! Just make provisions for your small children if you have some still living at home because you will go into a chocolate coma!

A birthday FYI: I did a PowerPoint slideshow for Eva’s birthday with EMF’s song “UnbeliEVAble” (available on request). I also do a birthday letter for each kid for their birthday every single year. I put a copy in a binder, a copy in our fireproof box for the kids to have someday and a copy in my scrapbook.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

How Much Allowance Do You Pay Your Kids?

I got tired of being one of those over-indulgent mothers who buy their kid something every time they leave the house. So when the boys turned about 5 and 7, Aron and I discussed chores and allowance. Those boys could darn well buy their own plastic animals and gum. (Flash forward 12 years to the post How to Make a Simple Chore Chart for Kids)

I got an allowance when I was growing up (FYI and shocker: I'm an only child). I had a different chore for every day of the week: dusting, vacuuming, changing the cat box, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting again. Every day I had to clean out the cat box. Mom wouldn’t let me near the laundry, which was probably best. I only had to do dishes in the summer when I was home all day. You don't even want to know what that house looked like a few months after I moved out!

Some parents don’t give an allowance. That’s cool. You are part of a family, Kid, so you should chip in. I agree.

I know a woman who pays 7 cents per year of age of the kid, which is too complicated for me. That’s taking homeschooling to the extreme, and it hurts my brain. So I would be making 7 cents times 37 years is … my brain hurts already. And my oldest son would be getting 49 cents per week? What’s he going to buy with that? That’s not even minimum wage in Kid World. Talk about living below Poverty Level.

My boys basically do the same chores even though they are 22 months apart in age, so I pay them the same: $3 per week (plus 50 cents to church and 50 cents to their savings account). Yes, it does add up, but I definitely love having the help bringing up dry laundry and diapers, putting away silverware, recycling, emptying smaller trashes into a large one. I will keep adding chores (vacuuming, dusting, dishes) as they become more capable but will keep the allowance amount the same for a while.

My friend Ellen charges to mediate, which I LOVE. If her kids are loudly fighting and asking her to do something about the other kid, she says, “Okay, I charge a quarter per fight to mediate.”

I wrote this little piece for KC Parent Magazine titled The Allowance Conundrum, so check it out!

What are your opinions on allowance?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Eva Turns One

My baby (and 4th child) is one today. It’s interesting how differently you treat a first birthday from kid to kid.

I still sent in her picture to the local news station so they’d show it on the First Birthdays thing they do, where they roll pictures and play a strange version of “You Say It’s Your Birthday.”

We are still having a party, we just aren’t inviting the whole world (that would scare the crap out of her anyway).

We are still giving her a fun gift. We just aren’t letting anyone else give her anything since we have a whole toy store contained in our house. We have made it clear that her savings account will always accept donations.

No, she’s not walking yet, and I’m happy. She has 3 teeth. She is always happy.

Happy Birthday, Eva Peeva. We love you!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Bumper Stickers

Aron got me this as a surprise. It’s kinda weird having all of our names on the back of our van. I’ve already warned the kids not to turn around if someone says their name when we’re out in public. We clearly have needed a new one for about a year. I keep putting Eva on in Sharpie when she fades, but it’s time for those white stick-figure people for the back of the van, methinks.

Got this at the Unity Bookstore this summer. My dad raised me to appreciate all things Beatles and John Lennon. I especially love his Christmas song. These lyrics are from “Imagine” in case you’ve been living under a rock or were born in the 80s.

Aron also got me this one and he has one, too. He found it while surfing the Internet (for what, don’t ask) and also got me a rhinestone T-shirt that says the same thing. I enjoy looking in my rearview mirror to see reactions. Usually I catch people pointing and laughing, but that could also be because I have a sticker with 4 kids and they think I’m nuts for procreating so much.

What do your bumper stickers say?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

High School Musical

Okay, so I’ve officially turned into a 9-year-old girl. I love the first 2 High School Musicals and can’t wait until I can get the 3rd at the library. It couldn’t be because my not-yet-four-year-old daughter watches them every chance she gets, could it? That music grows on you.

Back in my day, I had Grease and Xanadu. Excellent music? Check. Crush-worthy actors? Check. Hokey? Oh, yeah. Perfect for little kids? Yep.

It pains me to see Jeff Conaway from Grease on Celebrity Rehab these days. He’s still kinda cute, even all hunched over and using a cane. By the way, forget the DARE program. I personally show my kids pieces of Celebrity Rehab for their “Don’t Do Drugs” homeschool education.

On the HSM2 DVD we got from the library, we watched videos of the movie songs in about 10 different languages AND watched a tutorial from the cast on how to do some of the opening dance.

Really, though. Check this music out. I’m asking Santa for the soundtracks for Christmas.

Here's one song.

And another.

Okay, just one more.

Callie calls it High Schoosical, like Seussical.

What was your favorite movie when you were a kid?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bedtime Rituals

Bedtime rituals and times differ so much from family to family.

It’s no secret that we have a family bed and always have. AND we homeschool, so we don’t have to be anywhere in the morning. Gradually this has turned me from a morning person into a bit more of a night person. The kids seem to stay up later and later (past 10 p.m. … gasp!), sleep in, and their homeschooling still gets done. The only problem arises when the boys spend the night with my dad and stepmom, who most likely ends up crashing before the kids do.

One friend of mine is totally structured. She puts all 5 of her kids – who range in age now from 5 to 12 – to bed by 8 p.m. every night regardless of age. If they are not tired, they read or chat, but they have to be quiet until they fall asleep. If there’s a show on TV she is dying to see (a rarity), she’ll put them to bed even earlier. I admire her discipline and realize I’m a total wimp.

I know of someone who put their kids to bed by 6 p.m. when they were little, before her husband even got home from work. First of all, I WANT my kids to know who their father is. Second, what the hell time do those kids WAKE UP????? I didn’t become a stay-at-home mom so I could wake up earlier than when I was a working girl (meaning I had a job, not that I was a prostitute).

If your kid is in school or goes to daycare, I realize you have to be up early, which means an early bedtime. But if you homeschool or are a new stay-at-home mom, for instance, how does bedtime go in your household?
And for those of you with grown kids, I’d love to know how and what time you got your kids to bed, too.

I can see my mom’s comment now: “You were in bed by 8:30 at the very latest EVERY SINGLE NIGHT in elementary school and you LIKED it.”


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