Posted by: zenmamajo | March 28, 2012

Grandparents and The Mary Poppins Effect

let’s face it: as parents – sometimes it’s GREAT to have help. friends, ANY place with childcare, neighbors, the neighbors’ kid(s), and especially (for those with the opportunity): grandparents.

a couple of years ago we moved to the same state as my folks. my folks live three hours south of us (perfect distance for impromptu visits but enough distance to “let the heart grow fonder” *haha*.) as a military family, we know we won’t live near them for long. this will probably be the only time, while the children are young, that our families will be able to visit as much as they have these last couple years.

in fact, our little man recently ‘flew south for the winter’ and spent a full two months with his grandpa and ‘ama’. (and yes: i sent my son off to baby boarding school *hahah*. i thought it’d be more like 2 weeks, but my morning sickness was so bad that i could hardly roll myself out of bed without losing my breakfast, let alone chase him and his sisters around…mainly him *haha*!)

anyhoo – our little guy is the most social of the bunch and didn’t even cry when he left. from all the skyping and fotos my folks sent – i could tell that little fella had a BLAST being an only child for those two months!

i thoroughly enjoyed getting to hang out with my three girls but boy are we glad to have him back – energy and all! he jumped right back in to the family and has just the funniest, most delightful little personality ever.

the other day as i pushed (all) the kids on a cart through the Target parking lot (little man in the front, one in the basket, and two hanging off the sides while we crossed the street) – my heart bursted with pride at the sight of them and the little persons they are each becoming!

don’t get me wrong: i feel like we’re in a very intense (read: physically demanding and exhausting) child-raising phase of our family’s chapter (ages 6, 3, 3, and 1…and soon to be newborn…) and – if i can be honest – i just spent yesterday hoping the day would end, but in that moment at Target – as i glanced from one precious, innocent, completely trusting face to another – i experienced total joy for having each one of them in my life. it’s such a treat making the journey of their first few years of life with them and i’m really excited for their friendships with one another.

my folks are great for swooping in and providing a little mary poppins effect on our family from time to time (or even an extended time), but i love having everyone back together and it just be ‘us’ again. i’m always posting fotos of our girls, so here are some of just our little fella – enjoy!

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Posted by: zenmamajo | March 16, 2012

How to Complain Without Sounding Like a Jerk

are you known as this guy when you provide feedback?

here’s how you can be more like this dude:

1. Think honey, not vinegar…kindness goes a long ways…

2. Give people the opportunity to correct the problem.

3. Log! Log! Log! Include: dates, names of who you spoke to, brief description of what was said, note if waiting for follow up and date when follow up was made and an overview of that conversation. Be sure to include any specific quotes if important.

4. Take it “up the chain” after a reasonable amount of time (e.g. start with that person’s superior and so on until someone responds).

5. Always offer at least one solution to correct the problem.

6. Share experiences (i like to ‘sandwich’ my feedback by starting with a positive observation, the complaint, and then ending with something positive if possible) but focus on the solution(s).

7. Use email whenever possible so that there is a record of correspondence.

8. Keep it professional. Focus on facts rather than your emotions. I recently submitted a complaint about how “disheartened I felt about a recent experience”. I felt a lot of other (intense emotions) about the experience, but I shared just enough so that they knew I was dissatisfied. i used the methods listed above and heard from the CEO within an hour of sending the message.

9. Try to make a habit and develop a reputation for providing positive feedback whenever possible.

10. Don’t expect a follow-up unless it’s absolutely necessary – like your life was in placed in jeopardy or something like that. Just trust that the feedback will get in to the proper hands. If not – at least – hopefully – you were able to send some constructive criticism.

Posted by: zenmamajo | March 13, 2012

Emergency (Pregnancy) Hot Sauce Recipe…

over the weekend i whipped up a couple omelets with sautéed onions, cole slaw salad mix and cheese (hey: better than bacon cupcakes…) and saved one for monday morning. i loooonged for that omelet all weekend and could barely contain my egg-citement to eat it as i grabbed a jar of tabasco sauce to slather it with spicy goodness…but then i realized there was only about 5 good shakes left…not nearly enough to meet my pregnancy spice quota…hmmm…such a dilemma for the start of a monday morning…i was faced with three choices:

1. eat the meal and feel unsatisfied until the next time i made omelets and had an adequate amount of hot sauce on hand the rest of the day because i can’t stop daydreaming of how the meal could have tasted…
2. pack the kids up and make a quick store run…

OOOOOOOOORRRRRR (here comes a moment of brilliance!!!)

3. make my own hot sauce! (insert superhero music: dun-dun-dun-DUUUHHH!)

i read the back of the tabasco bottle and saw it contained: distilled vinegar, salt, and red pepper. three ingredients? how hard could it be? a quick google search of: “homemade hot sauce recipe” yielded tons of results – i skimmed over a few and came up with this super-easy-slap-it-together-in-no-time recipe.

here are the ingredients:

distilled white vinegar, salt, water, crushed red pepper (i used the same red pepper i used to make a *really* simple kim chi recipe a few weeks back). here’s the crushed red pepper up close:

the portions i used this morning during my dry run were:

1T water
1/2T vinegar
dash of salt
1/2-1t of red pepper

i mixed everything in a tiny dish and found it delicious! just what my pregnancy self omelets needed!

the portions i used to make a larger batch:
1/2 c water
1/4 c vinegar
1/4 t salt
2-3 T red pepper

i poured everything in to the squirt bottle then gave it a good shake. i used tap water so i plan to keep it in the fridge. i have no clue about shelf life – but it won’t last that long to matter.
adjust ingredients to your own preference. lots of other ingredients can be added to broaden the flavor – onions, seasonings, etc …i have a pretty simple palate when it comes to hot sauce: spicy and vinegary – so consider this a starting point for your own creation *haha*.

since i didn’t take a foto of my omelets from this morning – here is a foto of my lunch (leftover pork stir fry i made this weekend – totally wish i would have documented that recipe!) flanked by the newly made hot sauce and that tasty kim chi…

soooooooo yummy! thank the good Lord that my heartburn is gone from a few months ago! *hahah* i doubt this is the best hot sauce recipe around. but it’s quick and easy! desperate times called for desperate measures – enjoy!

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