managing my kids' computer time


photo by Stuart Richardson, 2013

My kids are playing video games right now, and the constant stream of technology never seems to end in our house.

But I have to admit, for a mom with way too much to do (which is, by the way, the definition of the word mom, i.e. /mom/ n. woman with way too much to do), sometimes the sound of computer generated dings and bells is, I confess . . . soothing. It is often the sound of no one fighting (at least for the moment), and it is the absence of hearing your own name shouted like an obscenity (MOM!!!!!!). That annoying computer game music more often than not represents peace and quiet for me . . . a chance to read, decompress, or sit and stare.

teaching kids how to clean


Isn’t my little guy handsome? I asked him to look tough for that picture.

One of the most important things I can do for my children will be to teach them the value of hard work. I admit, though, it’s not my strongest area of parenting. It’s much easier to clean up a mess myself than to ask my child to do it, show them how to do it, and then watch and wait while they get it done. But I guess parenting isn’t easy, is it?

When ARM & HAMMER®* Baking Soda asked me how I used their Baking Soda around the house, besides just baking or sticking a box of it in the fridge, I thought immediately of how I love to sprinkle it on my carpets right before I vacuum. It helps lift up the dirt, and freshens even the most dingy carpets.

But I don’t have carpets where I live right now, so I couldn’t demonstrate that for you.

I have been wanting to do a post on encouraging kids to do chores around the house, though, and since ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda has such a multitude of cleaning uses, I thought I could teach my kids how to use it to do their chores.

The beauty of using ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda as a cleaning agent is that it is 100% safe for children to use. It won’t scratch or corrode, and, most importantly, is non-toxic. That’s something I can really feel good about.

My oldest son used it to scrub the kitchen table which had little bits of food stuck on it since breakfast.


My daughter used it for the bathroom—in the tub and in the sink. She discovered it was great for scrubbing all the grime in the sink and making it shine.


I would have had my youngest scrub the baseboards with it, but he said he was tired and just wanted to hold the box for the picture.


Never said I could teach them to love cleaning overnight. But this was a start.

What about you, what do you find are the tougher things to teach your kids?

And what do you use ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda for? What are your secrets? If you have one you’d like to share, be sure to share it in the ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda/Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Sweepstakes, which you can find out all about here.

*As a Martha’s Circle Blogger, I have been compensated for this post, but all views and opinions are my own.

handwritten letters


The last few weeks, I have been having an age crisis.

My niece just turned eighteen, the very same one I taught in Nursery at church. The very same one who, when she was a year old, I remember pushing her in a shopping cart, when she rubbed her sweet little hand over mine. Her skin was so impossibly soft, that the moment left an indelible impression on me.

Next, my son will be turning twelve on Friday. How in the world did that happen? Add greater significance to that, my youngest child just turned six, which means he only has twelve years until he’s eighteen. And though I know one never stops being a parent, this month marks the technical mid-point of raising my children.

Then of course, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. And I was feeling very thirty-six, and very single.

lemonade stand for the first day of summer


Every summer when I was a kid, the neighborhood girls—which consisted of Caitlin, Amy, and myself—were always scheming up some sort of business. One year there was a magic show, which starred my brother Josh, his buddy Seamus, and me and the girls wearing leotards cast off from Amy’s former dance recitals. What nice neighbors and parents we all had—that they would actually come and sit on the yard to the side of my house and watch our last minute production. Oh, and pay us for it, too.

Though I can’t remember any particular lemonade stands, I’m sure we had many. And I just want to thank everyone who bought something from us.

I think anyone who buys crappy lemonade from a sticky nine-year-old will get a wing added to their mansion in heaven. If anyone thinks this country has lost its humanity, then I say, look around at all the lemonade stands. How many people, solely for the purpose of doing a good deed, plunk down their money, stare into little eager faces, shove any germaphobic tendencies aside, and gulp down a paper cup full of lukewarm Kool-Aid?

That, my friends, is altruism.

My kids have wanted to have their own lemonade stand since . . . oh, since they were born. But I was always a chicken about it. We either didn’t know our neighbors well, or the street was too busy, or who knows what else? There were always excuses. Apparently, the phrase “err on the side of caution” is tattooed on my prefrontal cortex. I just can’t over the idea that life isn’t as safe as it was for me and the neighborhood girls when we were peddling Girl Scout cookies. So I always hesitate.

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