Archive for October, 2012

Milk and Cookies

with Kristen

I'm a mother of five, a bargain hunter, a recreational comparison shopper, and always trying to make more time - for me and for you, too. On this blog I'm sharing my favorite tools and finds to help make your work-life juggle a bit easier.

You can find my personal blog at

Managing stress, part 2 of 2

Categories: Managing stress


Last week’s post:
1. Puzzles
2. Thinning out the list
3. Valerian root
4. Smoothies

This week’s post:

5. Lavender stuff (photo from This is similar to the superfoods thing: I have FAITH IN THE RELAXING POWERS OF LAVENDER, and so even if it’s NOT working, it works because it makes me feel like I’m DOING something, I’m FIXING it. Plus, anything that instructs me to inhale deeply is going to help.

6. Doing each thing in the right time frame (photo from If I write when there are kids around, it takes me about five times as long to do the same amount of work as if I write when there are no kids around—and as I’m taking five times as long, I’m also snapping and resenting and feeling awful.
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Managing stress, part 1 of 2

Categories: Managing stress


Things are stressful right now. (Work/too-much-to-do kind of way, rather than personal/family-distress.) I feel like I’ve heard meditation and exercise and bubble baths and yoga advice mentioned a million, billion times; here are some of the other things I do (some of which may also have been mentioned a million, billion times):

1. Puzzles (photo from I’m working on KenKen now; I’ve also done Sudoku. I find puzzles soothing and distracting: they take my mind off things, but also make my mind feel tidied up. They’re a good thing to work on in a waiting room, or if I have a few minutes between tasks. I like the feeling of a small accomplishment.

2. Thinning out—not necessary in order of priority. Sometimes when I am feeling very, very stressed, the issue is that I’m feeling all the many things I need to do buzzing around me in a cloud. And sometimes when that’s the case, there is a percentage of things that are low-priority but could be done in a short amount of time.

If I write down the twenty things I need to do, including even the small things like changing the battery in the bathroom clock or responding “Okay, I’ll do that!” to an email, not only does that let me stop rehearsing the list mentally, but also I can often do, say, five of the things in five minutes. Getting the list down from twenty items to fifteen makes a huge difference in how stressed I am—whereas if I’d done the things in strict priority order, I’d still be on the first item and still feeling the other nineteen looming.
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What are your kids wearing for Halloween?

Categories: Elementary school kids, Holiday, Preschoolers


My eldest child has outgrown Halloween. Or, more likely, he’s between the stage of trick-or-treating/dressing-up and the stage of re-discovering it in crowds of teenagers who make everyone clench their teeth as they go to door gathering free candy dressed in a garbage bag.

The other four kids are still interested. We have a loose costume policy, which is basically this: I vastly prefer they choose a costume from the bins of clearance costumes I’ve acquired over the years. But if a child earnestly and fervently wants a different and particular costume, I am willing to consider it.

What we usually do is start with the Thinking About It stage, which is where we are now: the children are considering what they might want to be, and I’m looking up costumes and going “THIRTY DOLLARS PLUS SHIPPING? For something you’ll wear ONCE??” I wish it were easier to know THE YEAR BEFORE what costume the child would want to wear the following year. I KNOW I saw Star Wars costumes on practically-giving-them-away clearances last year, but last year none of them were into Star Wars.

William would like to be Luke Skywalker (image from Unfortunately, William is 5′4″, so he will probably need the adult-size costume, which is even more expensive than the kid one. Also, when he saw the image I just posted, he said, “If possible, I want to be the black costume, when he’s a Jedi.” At first I was dismayed, as we scrolled through page after page of Jedi costumes and all of them were “No, that’s Anakin.” But then we did an image search to see what LUKE’S Jedi outfit looks like…and it’s black clothes. It’s really just black clothes, plus a light saber. And William thinks he can make the wrist thing out of cardboard and tin foil. So that’s manageable: I can buy the light saber and make sure he has a black shirt and that’s it.
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