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Monday, December 31 2012

Now that Christmas is over and all the decorations have been packed up and stowed in the garage, it's time to get back on track with blogging. Maybe that should be my New Year's resolution, along with exercising on a regular basis and eating more vegetables (Wait, I think those were my resolutions last year. Come to think of it, the year before, too.).


I don't know why Christmas sends me into such a frenzy every year. I can read a calendar. I know when the 25th of December is getting closer. And yet, every time, I find myself panicking at the last second. I think it's caused by the lull of mid-December. I always start Thanksgiving weekend with a bang by ordering a few presents online, drafting up my Christmas card list, and dragging the bins out of the garage to spruce up the house. With such a solid start, I convince myself that I'm well ahead of the game and then immediately slack off, buying presents here and there, taking several days to address those Christmas cards instead of a single afternoon, and just generally limping along.


Then, with one week to go, I suddenly realize how close Christmas really is and how much I still need to accomplish. I haven't finished shopping! I don't have enough wrapping paper! The kids haven't made their gifts for the grandparents yet! With so many extra trips to the stores and out-of-the-ordinary tasks, everything else falls by the wayside. The kids don't need a bath every day, do they?  A frozen lasagna is just as good as the homemade kind, right?


But that's all behind me, now. The month is coming to a close, the family survived the holidays, and my to-do list is considerably shorter. It's time to begin anew starting with a blog posting.

May everyone have a happy and safe New Year's celebration tonight and a wonderful 2013!

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 03:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 10 2012

A friend of mine gave my son a sea monkey kit for his birthday last month. I've never had sea monkeys myself and was really looking forward to seeing them spring to life. It seemed like a fun and easy way to teach him the responsibility of owning a pet, even if that pet starts out in a dried prehistoric state inside a paper packet.


I read the directions, and it seemed simple enough. On the first day, we put distilled water in the tank (a very adorable Mars-themed container) and added a packet of water purifier. We let the water settle for a day and then poured in the instant life eggs. Nothing happened right away, but by the next day, we could see itty, bitty, little things swimming around. Success!


Then things got a little dicey. Based on the two sets of instructions, it wasn't clear if we started feeding them on Day 3 or Day 5. I averaged it out to Day 4, and we dumped the finely ground green mystery powder into the water. By the next day, only two sea monkeys were swimming around. The day after that, only one. And then there were none. Oops.

Luckily, Toys R Us sells replacement sea monkeys for a relatively low price. I figured we just overfed the little guys. We tried again, carefully following the directions. This time we were rewarded with four sea monkeys, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. They all died, one by one. This time, we hadn't overfed them, but what else could it be?


Was the water too cold? They apparently like a fairly warm climate, and my son's room stays cool this time of year. Am I supposed to get them a heat lamp? Is it something else?

I hate to give up. My son diligently opens his blinds every morning for the indirect sunlight they supposedly like. He should be rewarded with the sight of tiny brine shrimp paddling around.


At the very least, I'll give it one more go. And if anyone knows the secret to keeping sea monkeys alive, I'd love to hear it.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 11:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, December 03 2012

Starting next month, a big change is coming to the county where I live. Plastic bags will be banned at grocery stores and any other business selling packaged food. Instead, customers must bring their own reusable bags or pay ten cents for each paper bag needed to pack up their purchases.


When the bill first passed, I immediately became cranky. I didn't want other people telling me how to tote home my groceries. Needing reusable bags was going to require a whole other level of planning when going to the store. I'd need to remember not only to bring the bags to the store, but to actually take them inside with me. I can already see myself at the checkout line, paying ten cents a bag because mine were still in my trunk. That's a big change for something as simple as grocery shopping (have I ever mentioned how resistant I am to change?).


But after I had a chance to get used to the idea, it started to sound pretty good. It'd be nice to shop with sturdier bags. I wouldn't have to worry about one handle of the paper bag ripping off when I tried to take it out of the cart. I wouldn't have to worry about a giant hole in the plastic bag when a sharp-cornered cracker box tore through. Not to mention that I'd no longer have to cram more folded up paper bags and wadded up plastic ones into the gap  between my fridge and the pantry (I'm sure there's a better place to store them, but it really is awfully handy).


Then there's the matter of obtaining reusable bags, but that's already covered. Over the last few years, we've collected several reusable bags from street festival giveaways or Target's handout on Earth Day.


Is it really such a big deal to bring my bags to the store? Probably not. I just need to keep the bags in the car, and before I know it, bringing them inside will be second nature. And I can feel good knowing I'm helping the planet with this one small change.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email