Monday, March 30, 2009

Movin On Up...

Michael received or I should say earned his first tip tonight in karate. Tips are the intermediate steps in between belts. He is beaming with pride. Not bad for only 5 weeks into karate. I dont think we will be stopping this ANY time soon. He is in front of the class with Sensei, having his tip put on.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

PR and Press

Interested in my writing?
click here

Want to see some places we have been featured? - Dispelling Homeschool Myths
News Channel 9 WSYR-- Homeschooling Interview
Family Life Blog
Meal Make Over Moms Award
Homeschool. Style. Bytes
Bridge Street Morning Show- Fruit Simple and Cricket Azima Cooking Segment

Pitch Policy

You've clicked here because you want to pitch me something, and I'm more then happy to listen. However, just to save us both time, please keep to the following guidelines:-send me a brief, original e-mail, not just a press release. My e-mail address is jenaferlm[at] Include links to what you are promoting, because I like to check out the items before I reply. At the moment, I can reply to all e-mails so you'll know how I feel either way.

If you wish to advertise on my blog, please email me for prices and policies.

I am not interested in providing free content or syndicating my blog to other websites. However, interviews or contributing as a guest blogger might be something I'd be interested in. Email me. Definitely e-mail me if you'd like to hire me for a job.

I will not recommend products/services that I haven't personally tried, because I want to stand behind what I write. On that note, it's a good idea to send me a sample, to keep. The review will include:
- a stand alone post with photos and links back to your website.
-The review will also go up on my profile page at
-The review will be shared on Facebook and Twitter.

I like to give a fair review; what I like, and what I think could be better.
I will also disclose that I am blogging about a sample product that was sent to me, or that I received compensation to blog about a product. If I really don't like the product, I will e-mail you before I post.

Occasionally, I host giveaways and can always use sponsors. I will accept sponsors whose products I have personally tried and enjoyed. These sponsors can be from the USA or Canada. I am most excited about the following categories (don't worry if you're not on this's a work in progress):

Anything of organic and natural nature
Travel (family friendly)
Gadgets (love gadgets!)
Health and Beauty
Healthy Eating/Cooking/Baking
Home and Garden
Family friendly Destinations, restaurants, hotels, museums
Books! Especially cookbooks or children's books
Tools/ Do-it Yourself
Arts and Cultural Events

Thanks to Notes From the Cookie Jar for a great model of a pitch policy!

Crawling Out of Hibernation

So yesterday was truly one of the first really nice days here in Syracuse in a long while. It was mid sixties with bright shining sun. I bought a few rose bushes and planted them in for what I hope is the start of a great cutting garden. The sight of dirt still stuck under my fingernails is so nice.
As my neighbors all began to crawl out of their dens during the day, they joined us for an impromtu barbeque in our driveway--hot dogs, hamburgers, beer: all delicatly served from the hood of my husbands car since the patio furniture hasnt yet ended its hibernation. Martha Stewart would have been proud, a dinner party buffet for 12 plastered on the hood of a Saturn...makes you envious you werent invited I know.
So my neighbors all collected and chatted up the past 5 months' happenings including the introduction of two baby girls born during the bleak winter--this their first day outside.
The air smelled of a freshly lit grill and sounds of laughter filled the air. A great day all around. Anxious for more spring days on the horizon.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back to Reality in More Ways Than One

I had a great time--of course. I rested, relaxed and lived for myself for three days. Everything I did focussed around me and i loved it and I love that I got to go. The most beautiful sight I saw was that of my room window overlooking the strip and the mountains from the 23rd floor at the Wynn. The colors of the mountains were magnificient. But no more bragging...I need to vent on Vegas--

If the mayor of Vegas is looking for a nickname or travel slogan how about "Vegas-the most dumb-ass place you can bring your kids". Thats my suggestion. Look I knew what to expect from vegas--and Im no prude but I was overwhelmed with the nature of it all. A rented truck billbaord drove up and down the strip with naked girls with meere letters and numbers covereing only the most 'indescent" parts titled: hot girls delivered to your room, as if it were Little Casers bringing over a peperoni pie.

I walked the strip on two days to 'see it all' and I did...believe me. The sanitation workers used shovels to pick up the three inch deep drift of cards of naked women each promising to be into this and that and just a phone call away. Lillte kids walked hand in hand with thier parents through the muck of cards while the parents took in the sights.

I wont even get into the depravity of the gambling and the stories I overheard by the pool or at lunch about so-and-so- loosing 7,000 dollars last night and now he has to call his wife and tell her.

The most disturbing though--on a deep level for some reason, was waiting for the cab this morning at --3:00am outside the hotel. I watched one man shuttle two TRASHED girls towards his car fro the casino. I dont thin khe even knew their names he kept saying "Comon girls...comon girls this way" like they were puppies. One girl could barely stand and the others dress was already half unzipped off her body. Next a cab showed up with two girls on a job--meeting someone who had summoned them from some ad, they couldnt have been more than 20, skinny like unhealthy skinny-- but very cute, dressed in not much and giggling to each other about being so tired from the third job of the night together. Something about it was so disturbing to actually see this up close. I mean Good God how do you get to that place and how do you get out? I thought of them all morning.

If you get nothing else from this overtired and jetlagged mom today, Please do not bring your kids to Vegas. It is not a family place and you can not seclude them from "Vegas".

I told my husband on the way home, Im greatful I got to see it--but I have no desire to go back.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On Vegas Time....

Yes, those are margaritas...more specifically AGAVE magartitas. YUM.... So I read all about how to run a homeschool co-op, but alas I was drinking a margarita so I forgot. (vacation sacarsm)Oh and Ive had it with the sink hole casino that you need to walk through just to get anywhere--how come everyone else is whootin and hollering? What exactly am I doing wrong with those stupid slot machines? I wont even mention the $20 spin on the roulette table. I picked 33 and 35 (ten on each) 34 came up---no Im not kidding. Thats just my brand of luck.

Eat, Pray, Love is turning out to be pretty awesome but again there were margaritas involved..hmmm..pattern?
I have only called the kids each about 6 times in the past 24 hours. My plan is simple: annoy them so much with frequent disrupting phone calls that they are too annoyed to miss me. I think its working.....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Vacation for the Weary

Ok, Yes I am a stay at home mom. However even we who stay home and eat bon-bons all day (read: snarky sarcasm) need a break from it all. My break is coming.

On Sunday I will be going on vacation kinda by myself, kinda with my hubby (he's going for work) to Las Vegas. Yes I will be in Sin City doing anything but sinning.

My Vegas super cool plans include: sleeping wihtout waking to small feet in my face, eating a warm meal that did not require reheating, peeing wihtout having a conversation through a closed bathroom door, showering without mitigating an argument with shampoo in my eyes, eating anything but kid-fare for dinner, havving breakfast in bed, alone time, reading a book written for the over 7 crowd, listening to music that does not tell you to clap along, watching tv with real people as characters not animated ones, and not quoting SpongeBob.

Truthfully I will miss my monkeys for the 6 days we are apart. But I know when I return I will also bring back my patience (which has been missing in this messy house lately) and a renewed sense of humor. we seem to run at full thottle here and I find myself in need of just a bit of R and R.

In addition to my super un-busy schedule while on the strip--I most likely will not blog for a week until I return unless something really cool happens--hey its Vegas--I can blog about it--it doesnt HAVE to stay in Vegas--right??

If I have time (read: am bored) I will post one or two posts. See ya in a week@!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blog Party 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Theres a Blog Party going on for all Mom bloggers..check it out! For those of you new to Blog parties--they are alot of fun with great prizes!!

There are so many cool prizes to be won at this year’s Ultimate Blog Party, but my top three picks would be:

$50 Gift Certificate to Target provided by Shoot-Me-Now
$50 Gift Certificate to Target from Agoosa
Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer from Moms Who Think

Actually, Id be happy with any prize relating to kids or somethign for Mom. Surprise me--.

So party on sure to check it out!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Michael!!

Happy Birthday Monkey #1

He gets a new bike and a Monster Jam game for Wii--such a boy! He got the bike last week to get in a week of riding before vacation. Here he is "posing" with the bike.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We’re Keeping the “Post-It” Company in Business

Our new obsession: Post-It Notes .

Why? I have no idea.

They discovered them a few weeks ago and since then it has been an onslaught of post-its attached to everything with cryptic little hand scrawled messages on them.Whatever the reason for the obsession I strongly urge you to buy stock in this company (*joke* I am not handing out investing advice here).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Raising Peanuts: Making and freezing bread dough

Great info on how to freeze bread dough for later use: Raising Peanuts: Making and freezing bread dough

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Club Penguin Puffle Cupcakes and My Aching Back!

So I need a massage from stooping over and piping cupcakes for the past 3 hours. These are "Puffles" from Club Penguin. I seriously win the Mom Award for today. And yes we are allowing food coloring for birthday parties -- after much debate figured a blanket ban without any wiggle room for special occasions was not good for anyone.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Little Critters Emerge From Hibernation at First Sign of Spring

We joined a slew of our homeschooling friends for a fantastic day at Onondaga Lake Park. We enjoyed bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 50s. Everyone stretched their legs a bit with the bikes and playground equipment. The fresh air felt great! Michael and Jonah (above) having a deep conversation while overlooking the still cold lake. Meg (belows) plays in the odd dotted shadows under the jungle gym.

Such is the Social Life of the Under 7 Crowd

We had a weekend bowling birthday party for our friend who turns 6 three days before Michael does. The kids bowled for the first time and got to eat lots of food coloring (Yummm) in the bright yellow SpongeBob birthday cake.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dinner Dates and Love Notes

Last night I decided to treat the kids after karate to Friendly's for dinner and ice cream. I had been holding onto to our Easter Seals Gift certificates for just the kind of no-reason occasion. We even brought a friend.

During dinner while the kids were busy alternating eating and coloring the page for the coloring contest, Michael took his napkin to scrawl me a message: "I love you too" with a bit of inventive spelling.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Little Bit of Artificial Spring Here in Syracuse

We had the local CNY Blooms show last weekend and it was so nice to at least pretend spring was near. As you can see I LOVE water features and the kids and I are going to build one this summer—hopefully it looks like a water feature and not like a puddle. All Michael wants is a pumping well. He is facinated.

I am also I love with the pizza oven over the fireplace. I can see it now, Friday night…outside, fire burning, pizza cooking in oven. I tried explaining to Pete that we could easily recoup the $9,000 expense quoted by not paying pizza delivery fees in maybe about 23 years. I see it as a way to economize.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Gym Day- Nothing Like Jumping into a Giant Pit of Foam

We went to a new gym for a gym day with homeschool friends--it was great!! Meg was the first to take on the foam pit. They had a great time and were pooped afterwards! [Sidenote: I got stuck in the foam pit. *Stop laughing* There is 4 feet of foam blocks on top of a trampoline. Several moms had to help me out after I attempted to roll over the top of the blocks to get to the the edge but I kept sinking. *I said stop laughing*. My quads hurt so bad that night from trying to get out of that pit I needed Advil to get to sleep!]

Monday, March 9, 2009

How My kids Can Go from Being Praised to Being Punished in 3.2 Seconds

There are many social lessons that each parent chooses to teach their children and to varying degrees. We all vary on points we need to make with them and how much weight each topic should be given.
My biggies are behavior when we are out and about and gratefulness. My kids have never pitched a fit in the middle of Target screaming “Give it to meeeeeeeeeeeee. I want it NOWWWWWWW!” As I heard from a six year old yesterday five aisles down from me while I was shopping alone, enjoying my few moments of “quiet” . This child decided to have a drop-down hands-and-feet failing screaming bloody-murder temper tantrum while the mom screamed over the child. How nice. Even the Target employees were cringing. How did it end after what seemed like an eternity—this brilliant parent gave the child exactly what the temper tantrum had been over and no sooner did the object hit his hands, he glanced a knowing little smile at her. This was not his first time; nor his last.
Now had that been my child well… I cant answer that because I cant even wrap my head around it to imagine that. Is it because my kids are so great and I am the worlds-best mother, no. Its just because that is one of my biggies. We always behave well in public , especially shopping and any tantruming or the like is about the most backwards way to get anything with me. Here we get rewarded for being good- and on an unpredictable schedule. Kinda like the lottery—Hey you never know.
So we are at the grocery store and my kids are helping unpack the cart onto the belt we go through the whole check out process and the cashier comment—They are so well behaved! Michael and Meg smile.. they just won a prize! Our secret rule is whenever anyone gives them or me an unsolicited compliment on their behavior they get some form of a treat. Whats great about this method is it happens so infrequent—but just frequent enough that it instilled this super good behavior that is now pretty much automatic. Som I proudly pronounce you guys get a treat—great job !! Keep it up. We are all smiles as we bundle into the car. I search my purse as I have 2 coupons for Friendlys. They aren’t there—I guess I need to run home and get the coupons (they are bogo ones—can NOT use them!)So I announce—I’ll take you guys to Friendlys but first I have to run home and get he coupons so we will go in about an hour (it was still a bit early for dinner)
The horrific sound then emanates from the backseats: “Uhh.Mommm. I want to go NOW. I don’t want to go home….Moommmmm Lets just go now! Yeah I don’t want to wait an hour”
And just like that Friendlys was cancelled. We –I—do not allow ungratefulness, especially like that. And no sooner than I cancelled it and started preaching about gratitude—they knew they had crossed a line and there was no going back in my mind. So the tears flowed with the “please forgive me” speech. I buttoned up my steel exterior and held firm-nope, not going..maybe next time.
We are a middle-class family, cutting coupons like everyone but in the grand scheme of the world, we live a *charmed* life. They have much to be thankful and grateful for but sometimes they slip-and I know it’s a kid thing. I do. But like I said—that’s a biggie for me. And I think its a slippery slope when you give in even though it was minor. So now everyones a bit blue tonight, with quickly dashed ice-cream dreams. But I feel good in knowing that next time they are given a special treat-for what ever reason- they will remember to be grateful because it can go away just like that.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blogs, Web Design and... Paypal????

So do you know I do web design? Thats ok, I'll forgive you.
I do it freelance and love it--its kind of a qwirky hobby that I do. I was reading my Twitter and one of my former web design clients, Armory Massage was featured in a blog. In the blog, of course, is the website. And on her website is my logo. So in my fantasy world, the blog was about me and my spectacular website design.

Hmmmm....I can really twist things in my mind if I try hard enough.

Ok,but here's the reason I'm not linking to "the blog": the blogger actually has a Paypal button on his page for you to "Buy him a cup of coffee for $2" if you liked his article. It's masqueraded behind a cutesy cup of coffee on the button-distracting you from the fact that he is bumming two bucks from you. Really? Seriously? I need to know if I am kind-of-offended by this for no good reason. Am I offended by him asking me for money or because I didn't think of it? Would you pay it? Is this money IRS declared income? Does he really buy coffee with this money?

If you answer yes that you would pay it, I will be forwarding you my Paypal account information with a link titled: "If you liked my blog-help get me a massage in Vegas" however my button will skim a hefty $50 bucks from you.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Budgeting, Grocery Shopping, and Menu Planning

So I have read a lot about menu planning and other frugalities when grocery shopping but just never got into it. The result has been fast food some days and far from what I want it to be. Now nutritionally, at least I can say our ‘poor” choices are still good ones (Like Chicken Nuggets, apple dippers –no caramel- and white milk at McDonalds: and NEVER more than 1 time per week). But with the convenience you pony up --the cashiness—yup the money. I am still struggling to stay on my budget but sometimes I could have done such a better job. So I think that menu planning and grocery budgeting here on my blog may be the way to go, at least experimentally speaking. Then if I feel bound to my goal because of the audience of you, then perhaps I can get this under better control.
Why budget? Well I could lie and quote the current state of the economy or tell you I am devoting my savings to charity. But that would be a lie my friend. Currently, I’m trying to save up money for something really *important*. We (meaning me and hubby no kids) will be going to Las Vegas (him for conference me for some well deserved R & R) in 2 weeks and from my research it appears that the spas out there are quite pricey—even for me who has never said “no” to a good day at the spa. So, we will not be spending money on groceries this week so that I can get the Shiatsu Massage and the Rain Stone Ritual. Its important to prioritize and apparently my children’s nutrition falls below a stranger rubbing me down in Sin City (I blame it on Obama, he told me to stimulate the economy--Im saving the jobs of masseusses in Vegas).
Ok, I’ll buy *some* groceries.

I am going shopping today at my favorite grocery store P&C. I will be good and use my coupons and buy sale items.
On Saturday and Sunday we will be at a spring garden show and then and RV Camping Show so I am sure we’ll be eating around. However the standard oatmeal for breakfast and PB&J sandwiches will be available for anyone interested. Dinners may be BBQ (weather might be nice enough finally) or something casual—we eat much more casually on weekends since we are always “doing something”. The rest of the week I will follow a more planned menu for each day ( I won’t bore you with the actual menu plan).
I would like to keep shopping BELOW $100—for me this is a stretch. I KNOW it can be done but somehow I walk out of my grocery store having sunk anywhere between 180 and 240 despite coupons and good intentions. I am thinking about 30 on produce and dairy,20 on household supplies like paper towels etc, and 15 frozen, and 15 general grocery. Even as I am writing it I am cringing at what I *can’t* get.
So with list in hand, coupons in pocket and massage on my mind I am off to shop.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Scientific Journey Ends With Messy Floors

So today was all about excavating. We got a great Gem and Rock Excavation Kit from the Smithsonian Institute Science Store. Happily no one was injured by the wooden the mallet or sharp wooden spikes. We found quite a few cool gems within and were happy to hammer away.

My house now however looks as though a small cement factory exploded within because of the ability to smash the excavation ‘brick’ into sheer dust that is PERFECT for tracking through the house on feet and clothing. And according to the kids EVERY morsel had to be smashed just in case a teeny-tiny gem was hiding. YEAH Science!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Just playin around....

Just playing around while I actually 'work' on something else. I just really liked the greens here . I must be thinking about Spring. For those that dont know.... you can make your own at Wordle.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nothin' Says Drama Like Brownies From Your Mama

This month we have done some dietary changes in we have eliminated ALL artificial food coloring---very difficult considering it is in everything! But I’ll save that nonsense for another day. The point is in my never-ending research to be the best at everything, I discovered that too much of a good thing can be bad—Huh. Who knew. We have had a lack of all things unhelathy lately so to stave off the negative effects of a healthy diet Meagan and I whipped up a batch of brownies and cupcakes to fill our bodies with sugars and yummy saturated fat—just in case we over-did the healthy food. Complete with hot cocoa it had all the makings of sugar highs. While the we lapped up the raw batter almost quicker than we could bake it we did manage to enjoy some fresh and warm from the oven. These delightful treats stuck around through afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert but have now long vanished without a trace.

Now normally, I would not poke fun at my kids, especially Meagan in a time of sorrow HOWEVER when my daughter has a complete meltdown due to the lack of brownies in the house…well I do need to share that and I’ll chalk it up to the ill-effects of Betty Crocker.

Monday, March 2, 2009


After watching Extreme Home Make Over on ABC last night I started thinking again about Michael being a baby and with his 6th birthday only weeks away, I figured to put the blog to good use and support a good cause. Here is Michael at three days old. He weighed 3 lbs 4 ounces when born and spent 28 days in the NICU. Luckily, all he needed was time and nutition before he was able to come home to me.
Last night’s family featured on Extreme Home Makeover was a woman who professionally photographed preemies in NICUs for families to have memories, especiallly for those who never got to brring their babies home. She supported the March of Dimes and did photography for them as well.

Each year the March of Dimes has the March for Babies (formerly Walk America) to help raise money for prematurity awareness and research. I have participated every year in one way or another since Michael was born. Here we are in 2006 on the morning of Walk America ready to go with his March of Dimes "NICU Graduate" shirt on.
March for Babies is coming up again, usually in April. Please get involved: walk, support a walker, or make a donation. It is a very worthy cause.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Standards, Norms, and Percentile Rankings

I am an odd homeschooling mom. I know it and can readily accept it. I see other homeschool parents groan about standardized testing required in our state starting in 4th grade and required every other year onward. I on the other hand am a closet tester. I get giddy at the site of a score report, stanines, and graphs that display percentile ranks. Please don’t tell anyone.

Not only do I enjoy an occasional standardized test but I go as far as administering them (oh the horror!!!!) I learned I could administer some at home as early as kindergarten. So I happily completed the paper work to administer Michael the IOWA test this January in what would be his Kindergarten year. I did so partially because I knew he was bright and wanted to know just how bright. I also wanted to know that his apparent intelligence wasn’t all in my head. Secretly I also wanted an unbiased third party agreeing with me that he didn’t belong in public school (if you squint your eyes really hard and tilt your head just-so you can see that that is printed on his score report.

So I gave him the IOWAS and have been checking the mail daily waiting…big white manila envelope where are you???

It came today and revealed what I had already known. He’s a smart kiddo.
So I use my broad teacher knowledge to explain it to my husband who looks at me like I am a moron “I understand 99th percentile. Yes I know what it means but thanks for getting all teachery to explain it to me” {He doesn’t really say this but his eyes do).

Next I move on to Michael. I show him the graphs and do a nice job explaining it carefully not using words like ‘smarter” or alike; instead I focus on the fact that he is working above grade level and it is a reflection of his hard work yada yada yada. So now I need to explain the norms as he asks about the 99%. Here is the conversation. It is priceless and does show he has the same competitive spirit as his mom.

ME: The percentages show how you did compared to other kindergarteners all over the United States who took the same test.
So Michael, if 100 kids took this test you scored better than 99% of them.
He proudly smiles and says...”Humph....... I wish I could have beat the 100th kid.” He took great satisfaction out of learning that in my example he WAS the 100th kid. So Meagan is up next. She will venture into the testing world in September and then we'll wait with anticipation the arrival of and envelope addressed to Meagan.

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