Early bird groceries

Are you OK, Jared asked.

Yes, I’ve been awake since 3:44 a.m., I said.

My body had gotten more than four hours of sleep and was tricked into thinking that was enough.

Welcome to motherhood, Jared said, laughing.

Yeah, yeah. Since I’m up, I’m going to run to the grocery store, I said.

Are you sure you want to go now, Jared asked. It’s 5:30.

Yep, I said. Saves me from bundling up Baby Girl to do it later (there was a wind chill warning in effect). I’ll be back before you go to work.

Have fun on your outing, he said. Hurry home.

Gee, thanks, I thought.

At the store I found everything I needed to make my new stuffing recipe for an early Thanksgiving dinner with friends that night.

Then this …

We don’t sell alcohol before 8, the clerk said.

What, I asked, dismayed.

Don’t look at me, she said. It’s state law.

So much for the white wine part of the recipe.

I slogged back to the car, some groceries in tow, and checked my phone only to read: “She’s awake and hungry. Hurry home.”

You see, we can’t get Baby Girl to take a bottle, which means I can only be gone for a few minutes at a time unless she takes an epic nap.

Are you OK, Jared asked for the second time in an hour when I got home.

No, I said, holding back tears. I couldn’t buy wine for my recipe and now I have to go shopping again later.

It’s alright, babe, he consoled me. Just don’t use the wine.

No, I have to use the wine. It’s part of the recipe. It gets all the good bits into the sauce, I explained. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t sell me wine before 8. It’s not like I was going on a bender.

Well, you look like you could use a drink now, Jared said as he left to shower.

About a half hour later he returned to the kitchen, still dripping water.

How long before you would start looking for me, he asked.

Huh, I said.

I fell asleep in the shower, he said. Luckily I leaned against the wall instead of falling over.

Welcome to fatherhood, I quipped, and it’s only 7.

**Let it be noted that I did get wine later in the day because Baby Girl and I ventured out to help my sister-in-law make lefse. Let it also be noted that I realize — now — that just using a different recipe would have made the most sense. In my defense, it was 5:30 in the morning.

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Missoula health expert knows how to keep kids safe during holidays

A Health column in yesterday’s Missoulian by Community Medical Center’s women’s and children’s services director Kim McKearnan included a list of ways for those of us with children underfoot to keep them safe during the holidays. It also provided a link to more safety information and checklists via homesafetycouncil.org.

Here’s a condensed run-down of McKearnan’s list. Check out the column itself for the full version.

• Ensure that all electrical cords are in good condition and out of walking paths around your home (including not placing them under rugs).

• Be mindful of hot drinks.

• Candles should be kept a minimum of 3 feet away from anything that can burn, monitored at all times and out of reach of children and pets. Battery-powered candles can be a safe alternative.

• Hosting a house full of guests can lead to decreased supervision of children. Have adult guests take turns watching children, hire a trusted baby-sitter during holiday parties and make safe play rules clear to the children in your home.

• Exercise caution when cooking holiday meals. Keep children a safe distance from the oven at all times and take time to teach them kitchen safety.

• Provide a designated spot for your guests to stow potentially unsafe items.

• Carefully read the labels of the toys and gifts you purchase for children before wrapping them to be sure that they are age-appropriate and safe. When giving an older sibling a gift that could be harmful to their younger sibling (for example, small parts that a younger child could choke on), be sure to remind the child to keep the toy in a place that is out of reach for their little brother or sister.

• Dress your children warmly head to toe. It is strongly recommended that children wear helmets when sledding, snowmobiling, skiing or snowboarding to prevent head injuries resulting from falls. Adult supervision is also recommended.

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Santa is real and he has a home in Florence, Montana

By TOM BAUER/Missoulian

By TOM BAUER/Missoulian

My daughter is on to the whole fake Santa thing. She sizes up the various Santas we see around town, in the mall or outside grocery stores, usually, and then turns to me with a knowing look and declares, “That isn’t the REAL Santa Claus.”

She believes they are Santa’s helpers, needed because the real Santa is too busy this time of year to do all the things Santas need to do. Today’s Missoulian story about Santa – AKA Charlie Jerke – explains just what those things are, and gives us a glimpse into why Santa’s helpers like Charlie Jerke can be every bit as magical as the “real” Santa.

– MM

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Missoula has good stuff for kids and community: A free swim, a phone call from Santa and more!

It’s a busy time of year, isn’t it, fellow parents? There are all these special school activities, holiday events and community campaigns. It’s fun, it’s meaningful – and after a while, it’s rather exhausting.

A fun way to take a break with the whole family is to pack up the swimming suits and towels and head on down to Currents. And lucky you, tomorrow – Friday, Dec. 10 – Currents is offering a free swim for all ages in honor of the fact that Missoula has once again been designated a Playful City USA. The free swim is open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

AND, if you bring in a donation of a non-perishable food item for the Missoula Food Bank, you can enter a drawing to win a 10-swim punch card.

(Special note: The e-mail I got from Missoula Parks and Rec about the free swim had this statement in bold – “Kids ages 7 and under must be accompanied in the water by an adult.” I haven’t yet figured out how to add emphasis to statements on this blog, which I why I still use the dreaded ALL CAPS when I would prefer to use italics or boldface type. So just consider that statement bolded, ‘K?)

Know what else Missoula Parks and Rec does that is tons of fun? It runs this program called “Santa’s Calling.” You can sign up to have your child receive a phone call from “Santa” on Wednesday, Dec. 15 between the hours of 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

Click here to download a form. You can also pick one up at Currents, which is also where the form should be turned in – by Dec. 13 at the latest.

Santa’s Calling is completely free, but donations are appreciated. The money goes to fund youth recreation scholarships – yet another very worthy cause.

Next up: If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, Missoula Parks and Rec says it has the perfect item. It’s the new Parks, Trails and Open Space map! You can download the very large electronic version of the map by clicking here. However, I recommend paying the $4 to get the full-color, high-quality 24×36-inch map in a form you can actually roll up and stuff into a stocking.

Here’s how Missoula Parks and Rec describes it: “The map details all of Missoula’s parks, streets and bicycle/pedestrian routes, PLUS hiking trails on Mount Jumbo, Mount Sentinel, the North Hills and all of Missoula’s other great recreation areas.  No other Missoula map covers both city streets and open space trails.  The information side of the map features a comprehensive map of the Riverfront Trail System, and complete directions to family hikes, visitor tours and even challenging treks to Sentinel and Jumbo’s summits.”

Sounds like a great present, right? If you’d like to buy one, you can do so at Currents, and with the knowledge that 50 cents of each sale will go to fund recreation grants for low-income families.

Last on my list of niceness provided by Missoula Parks and Rec is its teamwork with Families First to offer a parenting program/youth swim special. Parents can get tips from experts while their kids swim. The special part is that if you buy a swim for one kiddo, you get one free.

The next parenting workshop will be held on Jan. 26, so you have plenty of time to find out more. Contact Families First at 721-7690.

– MM

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“Dance Star Mickey” better not bust a move in my house

Does anybody really base their purchasing decisions on retailers’ so-called “hot lists”? I’m asking because now that there are only 72 shopping days left until Christmas, my inbox at work is fast filling up with suggested gift lists from national names.

The one from Toys R Us this morning stood out, partly because we do not have a Toys R Us in Missoula and partly because one of the “hottest” gifts on its kids gift list is a Pillow Pet – and my daughter just got one of these for her birthday, courtesy of my grandparents. The one that looks like a bee. She loves it. Sleeps with it every night.

Browsing through the list, however, I see a lot more stuff my kiddo can do without. Stuff I don’t even recognize. What in the world are Zoobles? Sing-a-ma-jigs? Squinkies? Am I officially an old fuddy-duddy already or do these toy names sound like they came from somebody 12 months old?

Even the toys I do recognize – such as Dance Star Mickey, whom I remember making a fool of himself gettin’ jiggy with Donny Osmond at his big unveiling earlier this year – look horribly annoying. Dance Star Mickey, in fact, bears too close a resemblance to Tickle Me Elmo, once considered the hottest of hot gifts, who has lived in the back of one of our closets for several years now. He, too, was a gift from a grandparent – but he terrified the bejeezus out of Willow, and after the first 20 minutes or so, her terror ceased to amuse us. So into the closet he went.

Funny thing is, I know that whatever gift we end up getting for our daughter, even at the ripe old age of 6, she will still show a marked preference for the box it came in.

– MM

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