November 18, 2005

Life Lesson: Grocery Shopping

In an effort to slowly pass my vast knowledge on all things irrelevant to my kids, I have decided I will start putting down these little nuggets of wisdom for TheMonk and Swee’Pea to have at their fingertips in their adult years. Never let it be said I wasn’t looking out for my kids.

So, our first lesson is the art of grocery shopping. Because I don’t want my children to rely on Carl’s Jr. (“If it wasn’t for us, some guys would starve”) for their nutritional needs, I have put together a little primer, if you will, on how to get the most out of your grocery shopping experience. Kids, pay attention.

Buy in Bulk
Now, at first glance, you may ask yourself “Why do I possibly need 42 rolls of toilet paper?” The answer to this, kids, is we will always have a butt to wipe (and judging by your diapers, you’ll have more of a need than others) and the more you buy, the cheaper that roll becomes. Of course, storing these rolls of toilet paper may become a challenge but just think of all the things you can do with a roll of toilet paper. For example, instead of those annoying little spring things that keep doors from putting holes in your walls, just slip a roll of TP behind each door in the house. Now you’re not only frugal, you’re resourceful! And, if you’re buying bulk in diapers, you can save as much as 10 cents per diaper. Over the course of a year, that could be $250 to $300 in savings! That’s 250 to 300 more lottery tickets, boys and girls! Anyway, buy in bulk. Simple economics. Buy more, pay less.

Make a List
This goes along with the old adage “never shop while hungry.” Believe me, if you don’t have a list you’ll walk out of the grocery store with two cans of Spam, a box of Twinkies and a bag of Teriyaki beef jerkey that you’ll have to explain to your significant other. Believe me, make a list and stick to it.

Beware of Bananas
When buying bananas you should always stick to the B = (t-1) equation where B=bananas and t=amount you think you’ll eat. Always buy one less banana than you think you will eat. Inevitably that last banana will rot on your kitchen counter and while your kitchen may smell like banana bread for a few days, the site of a blackened, petrified banana is never a pretty sight.

Know Your Meats

Rump roast, Chuck roast, Top Round roast, Beef Loin Tri Tip roast… Let’s just say there are a lot of cuts of meat. When your significant other asks you to pick up a roast on the way home, how the heck is one supposed to pick the right roast? Now, you can do what your father has been known to do (pick up one of each and let your Mommy decide) or you can learn your cuts of meat. You decide.

Buy Generic

Don’t get sucked into the marketing of a product. The box of cereal with the Sugar-Pushing Leprechaun does not taste any better than the bag marked “Marshmallow Treaties”. In fact it will give your kids the same sugar rush at half the cost. There are some exceptions to this. For example, don’t ever buy beer that is marked “BEER”. There are just some lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
Don't buy generic beer

Old Stuff in Front, Fresh Stuff in Back

When it comes to perishable items never choose anything that’s directly in front of you. That’s where the store clerks put the items they wouldn’t eat on an episode of Fear Factor. They’re hoping you’ll bring that tomato that was picked last April home to serve to your unsuspecting family. Dig around in the back of the pile for the freshest fruit/vegetable. The same goes for dairy products. You might have to remove 8 to 10 cartons of milk that expire in the next 4 days to get to the milk that expires in two weeks and the stock clerk might give you dirty looks as you pile cartons on the floor around you, but do it anyway. Or ask the clerk if he’d like to come over for some home-made ice cream next week.

Express Checkout – An Oxymoron

Finally, once you have gathered all of your items on the list (of course, you stopped in the frozen food aisle last, right?) you head to the front of the store to pay. Choosing the right checkout line is the single most crucial decision you will make while shopping. The wrong experience at the checkout can ruin an entire outing. Here are some things to look for:

  • Avoid the Express checkout. Why? Well first, what the hell are you doing in the grocery store when you only need ten items or less? You didn’t use a list (see above) last time did you? Well, too bad. Just eat your Spam and forget about setting foot in a grocery store when you only need a few items. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, little old ladies go through the express line. They buy their food one day at a time because they never know when they will die. And all that extra food in their pantry would just be a waste, wouldn’t it? Old ladies don’t use cash and they don’t use ATM cards. No, they use the written check or a sock full of pennies. Either way, you’re not getting home anytime soon.
  • Choose the line with the current issue of Cosmo. Swee’Pea, you’ll enjoy perusing it while you wait. TheMonk, you can stare at the hot chick in the gold lame’ bikini. Time will fly by for both.
  • Choose a line with a mother with kids. Trust me, that mother wants to get out of the store faster than anyone. She will also have bought many of the same items so the checkout goes quicker. Before you know it, she’ll have her cards swiped, pushing her grocery cart in hand, one kid on her hip and talking on her cell phone to set up her next play date with little Oscar. Don’t, on the other hand, get in line with anyone who looks like they don’t regularly shop (anyone in a business suit or a college student, for example) as they will inevitably forget something or ask if the store takes American Express.
  • And don’t you hold up the line, either. Never, ever, ever leave the line to go get something. If you were dumb enough not to get it in the cart the first time around, don’t compound your stupidity by making everyone wait. Didn’t get the beef sirloin you needed? Well, that bag of teriyaki beef jerkey will come in handy now, won’t it? Also, pay with your Debit Card. Don’t pay cash and don’t ever write a check. There’s just no excuse for that kind of behavior.
  • Well, that’s about it on the Grocery Shopping Experience. I hope this little primer will serve you well over your many years. Of course, you could always skip the whole store and order your groceries on-line. But then, you know you’re getting last April’s tomatoes.

    Baby Lauren’s Mom on Family Traditions

    Our next guest blogger goes by the pseudonym “Ieatcrayonz”. Anyone who wants to publicize the fact that they chew brightly colored wax is either really fun, or crazy (Okay, it’s both but here’s proof on the crazy part). She is the terrific mother of Baby Lauren and when they say a picture says a thousand words, they must have been thinking of Baby Lauren’s tantrums (posted every week on Tantrum Thursdays). Every time I visit her site, I leave with a smile. There’s so much to see, including her two weiner dogs that she somehow has morphed into one dog for the purpose of blogging. And, finally, you gotta love a woman who manages to snag free baby shoes through blogging. I am thrilled that she agreed to share her family traditions here at Childsplayx2. Please welcome Baby Lauren’s mom!


    I have to admit, when Matthew asked me to come up with something for a guest blog on family traditions, I felt a whole lotta performance anxiety.

    Family traditions? Growing up, our nearest relatives were 700 miles away (on purpose if you ask me). It was my mom, dad, and older butthead of a brother every stinkin’ holiday. No grandmas or aunties to pinch my cheeks and shower me with presents of knitted underwear and hard peppermint candies stolen from the podiatrist’s office candy dish. I had no uncles or cousins to rough house with and send me to the emergency room on Christmas morning in need of ten or so stitches.

    My side of the family has a terrible tradition of opening Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. It’s like some awful inside joke my parent’s have pulled on me since I was a kid. I never understood it. I’d spend all day anticipating the magic time my parents decided upon to open gifts that evening. And for every minute on the minute until that time came, I’d beg and plead and whine, “Mom, is it time yet?!?!” One time my parents waited until 11 pm to open gifts. I was so tired, I don’t even think I enjoyed it. Like I said, TERRIBLE TRADITION.

    I married into a family that is now fifteen strong. Be careful what you wish for.

    Our family traditions now consist of a feast cooked by my mother-in-law that requires at least two or three scheduled rounds of speed eating at her small dining room table. First the kids, then the ones that forgot to eat breakfast, and finally those that tided themselves over by snacking on the plate of deviled eggs when they should have been helping prepare the food.

    Christmas day is the day we’ve designated for the carnage that has become six grandchildren opening up various superhero gifts. It’s a flash of torn paper, shredded cardboard, and cries of “Did anyone buy extra batteries?!” But it’s fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    Now that I have a family of my own, I’ve decided that we need to start our own tradition. That tradition has become going to the tree farm and picking out an overpriced tree with branches that aren’t able to hold any ornaments except those made of paper. In the interest of economy and my secret fear of pine needles, I suggested that we purchase a pre-lit tree from Target this year. From the look on my husband’s face, you’d have thought that I spit in the deviled eggs. “NAH! It’s got to be real. It won’t be Christmas without a real tree!”

    Believe me, honey, it will still be Christmas. When we see that little girl’s bright cheery face on Christmas morning, we’ll know our real Christmas gift has arrived.

    You can visit Baby Lauren’s Mom at

    November 17, 2005

    My SAHD Experience, Week 3

    I cannot believe it’s been two and a half weeks since I started staying home with the kids. I’m already half-way through my paternity leave and it’s going by so quickly!

    Boy, this takin’ care of babies stuff is tiring work! The worst part? Not being able to say, “I’m going out to lunch, see you in an hour!” These babies don’t nap all that long. The longest stretches I get with them both asleep (and, thank God that they still sleep at the same time) is about an hour. Most of the time, it’s 45 minutes. Then, I play with them until they get cranky so I can put them back down to nap again. I sometimes think I’m more tired than they are

    Yesterday, however, was a different kind of day. My work has a mentorship program for staff and I am a mentor this year. The kick-off was yesterday and I wasn’t going to miss it. So, I packed up the kids and away we went. TheMonk showed his stranger anxiety again and clung to me for most of the morning. Swee’Pea got swept up by our HR director and I didn’t see her again until it was time to go.

    It was tiring, but I felt such a sense of accomplishment! I mean, if you don’t mind me saying so, I KICKED ASS! I walked into the party like I was walking onto a yacht (sorry, Carly Simon flashback) I knew what I was doing and I seemed to convince everyone I did. I even changed TheMonk’s diaper while we were there. I did get out a bit earlier than I planned because I didn’t want to feed them there. So, we split after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

    The point of this, though, is that I feel like I’m really becoming a parent. I know what my children need, when they need it and it feels good to have that connection with them. I love that they look to me for reassurance when someone else is holding them, I love that they laugh when I give them kisses and I especially love it when they give me little baby hugs and cling to me when we’re trying something new.

    What a great feeling to be so close to my bundles of joy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get some sleep!

    November 16, 2005

    Plagiarism Update

    Okay. Thank you for all the advice. I contacted Blogger and reported the bitch lady.

    I also left the following comment on her site:


    I like this post. In fact, I liked it a lot when I originally wrote it.

    I am shocked, appalled and deeply offended that you would take someone else’s material and pass it off as your own. It would be one thing to have a compilation of your favorite posts from other’s sites and give them credit for it – but to just take someone else’s work and pass it off as your own so you can look like you know how to string two sentences together (when apparently you cannot) is pathetic.

    I have contacted Blogger and reported your violation of the terms of service. I have requested that your site be removed.

    This is a serious breach of etiquette and is also in violation of my copyrighted material. After looking at your site, it’s apparent you have lifted other’s work as well. I have contacted one other person alerting them to your theft.

    You know, I’m angry but also sad for you. You have a beautiful child. What an example you are being.


    I feel much better after leaving this comment.

    Katie from Ramblings from a SAHM also asked her to take her work down. At this point, if you’d like to pay Renee a visit and let her know what you think, I’m all for it.

    Thanks again for your support!

    Last Update: It seems the site is no longer up. I’m not sure if blogger took it down or if she took it down herself (the comments were getting nasty – but, strangely, one woman defended “her friend”). There’s nothing stopping her from opening up a new site and doing this again but man, how weird – to pass other people’s lives off as your own. I only had one thing stolen, as far as I could tell, but the lady was living vicariously through Katie. Now, on to the regularly scheduled programming.

    November 15, 2005

    Imitation is sincerest form of flattery?

    I’m not sure what to do about this. I stumbled across this blog and noticed that she copied one of my posts word for word and is passing it off as her own (at least there is no reference to me anywhere).

    Compare for yourself:

    My post

    Her post

    I’m feeling a little creeped out by this. Should I do something? If so, what?

    The Adventures of TheMonk & Swee’Pea, Part III

    To see the first two installments of the Adventures of TheMonk and Swee’Pea, go here.
    (Once you’re there, scroll down to see part I.)


    Me Oh My
    My Oh Me
    It’s the return of the Adventures
    Of TheMonk and Bri

    While we’ve been away
    We’ve grown leaps and bounds
    In fact TheMonk is almost
    Seventeen pounds

    Bri is the little one
    She’s about two pounds lighter
    But don’t go messin’ with her
    ‘cause she is a fighter

    And don’t let her cuteness
    Cause you to doubt her
    ‘cause she’ll scream and she’ll yell
    louder and louder

    TheMonk has mellowed
    Since his very first days
    But make him wait for a feeding
    And his anger will blaze

    He gets a bit cranky
    And ever so grumbly
    Screaming “Can’t you tell
    That my tummy’s so rumbly!?”

    But other than that
    We can’t really complain
    In fact, Daddy wants more
    Now is that quite insane?

    Now amidst all these changes
    Mommy went back to work
    So Daddy took over
    Trying not to go all berserk

    There’s been sweat. There’s been tears.
    But so far no blood
    Just a sensitive daddy
    Who’s a really big stud. :)

    But the time’s going fast
    As we knew that it would
    And if I could slow time
    I would if I could.

    So day care is looming
    And Mommy and Daddy will try
    To present a stiff upper lip
    (but you know we’ll both cry)

    But this is okay
    ‘cause we’re in this together
    And we’ll be a close family
    Forever and ever

    So as we move on,
    There’ll be so much to see
    Stick around for the Adventures
    Of TheMonk and Bri.

    November 14, 2005

    Busy Mom on Family Traditions

    Busy Mom is someone with whom I can really relate. She’s a Starbucks-loving, drum-playing, football-watching, mini-van driving (okay, so I can’t relate to that), very funny woman. I somehow stumbled across her blog (who could resist clicking on a link that says “BusyMom”?) and have been hooked ever since (besides, you gotta love someone who only writes 84 things about themselves on the “100 things about me list.”). I am thrilled that she has agreed to share her family traditions here at Childsplayx2. I’m already thinking of stealing some of them. So without further ado, I give you Busy Mom.


    I come from a small family. As a matter of fact, I’m an only child, so was my mother and my grandmother. So, therefore, holiday traditions were all about me when I was growing up. For the longest time, I thought the various things we did were traditions etched in stone somewhere and handed down through the generations. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized many of the things we did enabled the adults to start cocktail hour on time and in peace and quiet. Seriously, though, I had a wonderful upbringing and the holidays were always festive and full of memories.

    Until I was out of college, we spent every Thanksgiving in a small town about 45 minutes from here. My grandmother grew up there, and, her cousin, who was raised with her, and was like a sister, had everyone over to celebrate Thanksgiving. We’d get up on Thanksgiving morning and I’d be so excited about watching the Macy’s parade because the Snoopy float was my favorite. After the parade, we’d leave and drive the country highways to Columbia, where Cassie would greet us at the door. The house already smelled of cooking turkey since she had been up before the sun to get it started. The table would be set with delicate china, shiny silverware and a lace tablecloth, the signs of something special. She would always save a couple of tasks for me to do even when I know it would have been much more efficient for her to do it herself. My favorite thing to do was to use the red handled spreader to stuff the celery (I sure wish I had remembered to ask for that after she died. The spreader, not the celery.), and she let me even though I ate most of it before it ever got to the table. Since I was the only child there, little odds and ends, probably unremarkable to the adults, formed my memories and made everything seem like a grand tradition. As I got older, I groused about having to get up early, hoped we wouldn’t have to stay very long so I could catch up with my friends that evening and I was peeved that we couldn’t go on some exotic trip or skiing like other people. Looking back on it, I now realize Thanksgiving for me was like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting and that’s how the holiday should be, even for surly teenagers.

    However, Thanksgiving is a little different for my kids. Busy Dad comes from a large family and, since they live out of town, we go down there to keep them from coming here at Christmas celebrate with a gathering of extended family and friends. His cousin who owns a barbecue restaurant hosts the gathering at the restaurant and it is filled with a large buffet of items contributed by all the guests. People come and go all day, much football is watched and, since parts of the family are, um, quite “mountainous”, you may even get to see a dead deer in a truck in the parking lot. It’s a festive chaos that contrasts with the quiet, traditional holiday we celebrated when I was growing up. However, I do make the kids watch the parade with me before we leave on the 2 hour trip, even though they don’t quite get the attraction. Neither way is better than the other, I’m glad my kids get to run around and play with cousins and other family they don’t get to see much. However, we do celebrate Thanksgiving The Sequel with my parents the following Saturday so that we can get the china out and Busy Girl can prepare the stuffed celery. I, however, am still the one who eats it before it gets to the table.

    Christmas was a little different than Thanksgiving in our family. It was spent with immediate family which meant me, my parents and my mother’s parents. I can remember eagerly awaiting my grandparent’s arrival, carefully arranging and rearranging the presents under the tree, hoping carolers would come to the door, listening to the Jim Neighbors Christmas album (yes, that is the Gomer Pyle guy, but he can sing. Shut. Up. If you’re too young to remember Gomer Pyle, I don’t want to hear it.) and wondering what Santa would bring. We’d each open one gift on Christmas Eve. I once thought that was a tradition, but then I realized that it must have been started to shut me up on Christmas Eve. After I had left Santa cookies and a beer on the dining room table (yes, I really did leave a Busch for him and it took many years for me to connect that’s what my dad drank, too), I’d go to bed for a restless sleep. I’d wake up the next morning to see what Santa had brought. Santa gifts were always unwrapped and left on the hearth in front of the fireplace, stocking were filled and he’d always leave a chocolate chip cookie for me in a small knit stocking I hung on the doorknob of my room. We’d go to church, come home and open gifts. I’d very carefully hand one round of gifts to each person and we’d each open them before moving onto the next round (thus beginning my control issues at an early age) and we’d open until there were no more.

    When I got married, I worried that the little traditions, no matter how insignificant they seemed to anyone but me, would go by the wayside. But, I worried for nothing. New traditions were opened up to me with Busy Dad’s family, and, though they mostly involved too much champagne, I found that I enjoyed celebrating Christmas with lots of people in the house and opening presents was a free-for-all. When we had children, it was a dilemma when and where to spend Christmas, but we promised to always wake up at our own house on Christmas morning. Granted, we may have just returned from the open road a few hours before, but Santa comes here. Just like he did for me, he leaves his unwrapped gifts by the fireplace and fills the stockings. However, he finds cookies and milk for a snack. Times have changed and I suppose Santa should “just say ‘no’” to drinking and driving. We go to Mass, eat a turkey dinner and open gifts (free for all style, but I’m getting used to it). But, we have traditions that are “new” as well. Busy Dad’s mother gives each child an ornament engraved with their name and the year, we read “T’was the Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve and we always watch a movie on Christmas afternoon. Sometimes it’s amazing to think that we are responsible for creating/facilitating our kids’ holiday memories. It sounds like something a “real” adult is supposed to do, but, we look around and, though we sometimes feel like impostors, we realize we are the card carrying adults around here and it’s up to us. However, I do think my adult license must be conditional since Santa still leaves a chocolate chip cookie in the stocking on my bedroom door.

    You can visit Busy Mom at

    November 10, 2005

    By the Numbers

    We subscribe to at least three different baby magazines. As we were new parents we were bombarded with subscription offers and in the early, hazy days of parenthood either Andrea or myself signed us up for one not necessarily knowing the other had signed up for one as well.

    My favorite of these “baby” magazines is Parents. While it’s still slightly skewed toward the mommy, it does have interesting articles (In this month’s issue, for example, there’s an article on a father who took three months off for paternity leave) and focuses more on the child and the family than on just mommy.

    So, this week, the December 2005 issue arrived. Inside there is a fun little piece called “The Facts of Life” by Beth Turner. As the tagline of the article states, these are “Wacky stats about having kids that only a parent would appreciate.” Here are a few of my favorites along with my smart ass commentary (in bold).

    No wonder it’s so hard to meet a good woman.
    Between 1940 and 2002, 5,776,130 more boy babies than girl babies were born in America.

    And every one of them has a blog.
    A baby is born every eight seconds in the United States. That’s 11,205 per day, and just over 4 million per year.

    Now if he’d only called it a Bugaboo, he’d have made a fortune.

    An English architect named William Kent designed the first baby carriage around 1733. It was shaped like a scallop shell and pulled by a goat.

    There’s a lot to be said for a career in the fast food industry.

    To pay for your newborn’s public college education, you’ll need to sock away $20.26 a day (or $43.67 a day if he goes to a private college).

    But after taxes, it’s only about $65,000.
    A fair wage for the typical stay-at-home mom (sorry, no SAHDs here!) is estimated by at $131,471 a year (including $88,009 for overtime, based on a 100-hour work week).

    So, Hazel and Phinnaeus don’t make the list?

    The most popular names for twins: Jacob and Joshua for boys. Hope and Faith for girls.

    But it feels like 6,000.
    You’ll change your baby’s diaper as many as 3,000 times during the first year.

    Does that include server hosting fees?

    You’ll spend as much as $14,600 on your baby by the time she’s 2 – enough to buy a new Ford Focus, Chrysler PT cruiser, or Honda Civic.

    Somehow, making smart-ass t-shirts isn’t quite the same.

    Disposable diapers were invented in 1949 by Marion Donovan, a mom who made them herself and sold them at Saks Fifth Avenue, in New York City. She got $1 million for the patent rights. It’s now a $17-billion-a-year industry.

    Thank God we weren’t that lucky.

    1 in 90: Odds of a woman having naturally conceived twins.
    1 in 3: Odds of a woman having a multiple birth if she uses in vitro fertilization
    1 in 540: Odds of a woman delivering three or more babies.

    November 9, 2005

    Yeah, what She said.

    In her latest post, Andrea (my wife) very nicely captures the first five months of twin parenthood (or, more specifically, motherhood).

    Baby Bri

    My Little Girl,

    It has been 11 days since I have had to leave you for any length of time. During that time we have bonded in a way that is so incredible, words don’t do it justice. I mean, how can I accurately describe the smile I get each and every time you see me. Your face lights up brighter than any star imaginable. Your glow fills the room and I am powerless to resist your complete and honest love.

    Sometimes, I admit, this infatuation with your Daddy isn’t the most convenient. Lately, I have had to make myself scarce during your breast feeding sessions because you would rather pull off the breast to look at me than eat. But that’s just a minor thing and while your mother and I pretend to be exasperated by it, deep down we love that you do it.

    You’ve been sick lately Doodlebug. Your nose gets clogged easily and you get cranky and cry. This is so unlike you. But as soon as I pick you up to soothe you, you melt into my arms. Your little hand will grab my shirt or you’ll find my hand that supports you and wrap your tiny fingers around one of mine. Your sobs will subside into little short breaths and then you’ll exhale deeply into my neck and your body will go limp. These little moments make me so glad that I am your father.

    You look so much like your mother Swee’Pea and I love looking into your eyes knowing that the love your mother and I have for each other created you. I think back to before we knew we were having a boy and a girl. I was so unsure about what it would mean to have a girl. I mean, I don’t know how to braid hair, I have never been to a tea party and when it comes to what girls wear these days, well, I’m afraid we might have some issues over what constitutes a “shirt” in the coming years. But beyond that, I’m realizing just how wonderful it is to have a little girl like you in my life. You laugh at everything. Sometimes, I have to try hard to figure out what it is you’re laughing at. Many times, I suspect you’re just laughing at me – laughing because you know just how much I’d do for you. Laughing because isn’t it funny that this guy who you’re coming to know as your Daddy will come running at any sign of distress. A cry, a hiccup, a cough – and Daddy’s there to turn that cry into a smile. Because there’s nothing better in this world than your smile. My dream for you is that smile never fades. May your special spirit always carry on and may you always meet your days the same way you meet your Daddy. With a smile.

    Yes, you’re “Daddy’s little girl.” I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Daddy with Baby Bri

    (Photo courtesy of mightygirl)

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