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Dr. Mom Mondays: When Playdates Go Bad

14 Mar

I have an exciting announcement!

Mondays at The Little Hen House are now “Dr. Mom Mondays.”

Some of you may have heard me mention that my mother is a psychotherapist. Well, I’ve convinced her to host a weekly series here on The Little Hen House, in which she answers all your tough parenting/relationship questions. She’s pretty awesome at her job and I seem to have turned out relatively healthy and normal, at least that’s what my therapist tells me. So umm… yeah.

What was I saying? Oh yeah, my mom is going to be here every Monday for “Dr. Mom Mondays.” Now, the only way this will work if is if you all participate in my brilliant plan. I encourage you to email me with any parenting or relationship questions you have. I’ll be picking one of your questions to feature every week with a link back to your blog, or I can keep your identity a secret if that works better for you. Everyone needs a little confidentiality from time to time too.

My mom will personally respond to the weekly question here on my blog and then we can all chime in on the comments below. The idea behind Dr. Mom Mondays is to create a community for all of us to share our experiences and support each other during our adventures in motherhood. We will have our own Dr. Mom as the licensed therapist/voice of reason and the rest of us to lend a girlfriend’s point of view.

Are you ready for the first installment of Dr. Mom Mondays? Me too! Today’s question comes from yours truly, as this is what sparked the whole “Dr. Mom Mondays” idea. It’s a real-life problem that I am struggling with, and I know that many other mothers have the same issue.

Please email your Dr. Mom Mondays question to morgan(at)thelittlehenhouse(dot)com. Thanks guys!


My 4-year-old daughter has a good friend who can be aggressive at times, hitting and pushing and slapping my child when they have conflicts during play dates.  How should I handle this with my child, the little friend, and the other mom?


Let’s start with making the best assumption — that the “aggressive” child needs a better way to handle her frustrations. The next time the girls are together, start out the play date with a practice session BEFORE ANY PROBLEM HAS COME UP.  Stay cheerful and positive, like a good coach – make this a bit of fun!

Tell the girls that you are going to teach them something that many kids don’t know — what to do and say if they get frustrated with one another.   First, have them practice saying out loud, “I am frustrated!” while they sit down at the same time.  It is very important that they sit down as soon as they say the sentence “I am frustrated!”  Be sure you join along in the practicing, getting up in between and sitting down again with the sentence.

Then have them practice saying, “How can I help you?” When they can say both sentences clearly, set up a practice session with you having a toy that they want.  They will sit down and say, “I am frustrated!” and you will say, “How can I help you?”  When they say, “Give me the toy,” you can model some negotiating (“Let’s set a timer and when it dings, it is your turn” or “Let’s dance to music instead of playing with toys” or “Let’s each get a toy we both like and trade every 5 minutes” and so on).

The day of the playdate have them tell you every time they make this work, and reward them!  If this doesn’t help, let me know and we will take the solution a step further.

Mary Quinn is a Marriage, Child, and Family Therapist with a private practice in San Diego. She is also a wife of 31 years, a mother of three, a step-mother of two, a grandmother of seven, a passionate gardener, and a writer. She has a Ph.D., survived a childhood with five brothers, and always wears red toenail polish.

Thanks Dr. Mom! Readers: what do you do when a playdate goes bad?

Top Ten Worst Valentine’s Day Gifts

11 Feb
  1. Lingerie. We both know who this is really for, don’t we?
  2. A Puppy. Thanks Jerk-face. You basically just got me another baby. Except this one will never grow up. I guess that makes both of you.
  3. A box of chocolates from the drug store. Although, they might give me such a bad headache that I will actually have a legitimate reason to withhold sex.
  4. Anything intended for exercise (this includes yoga pants). This is a no-win situation.
  5. A gift certificate for a massage. Unless it comes with a gift certificate for a babysitter too.
  6. A romantic Facebook icon left on my wall. We’re not 13, ok?
  7. A stuffed animal. Like I need another one of those dust-collectors sitting around the house.
  8. Appliances. Unless it’s a robotic maid.
  9. Something that requires assembly (by me). Do I really need to explain this one?
  10. Nothing. Consider yourself warned.

What’s on your wish list this Valentine’s Day?

Top Ten Things That Are Cheaper Than Therapy

24 Jan

Photo courtesy of "The Far Side". 1. Wine. Unless you drink too much of it. Then you will have to pay extra for an emergency phone session.

2.Blogs and coffee.

3. A pair of jeans that make your ass look really great.

4. Naps.

5. Hiring someone to clean your house.

6. Looking up YouTube videos of baby hedgehogs.

7. A $15 dollar mani/pedi that includes a 10 minute massage (email me if you want the name of the place).

8. Dropping your toddler off at the Ikea babysitting room and then spending an hour reading a magazine in the cafeteria.

9. Watching the “American Idol” tryouts.

10. Google images of “awkward pregnancy pictures” – trust me.

What else is cheaper than therapy?

Five Ways to Meet Local Moms

14 Jan

Here is the most recent post for my column “Following the Yellow Brick Road” over at Coronado Patch. It is specific to the community, but you can easily insert your own local dwellings to get the same effect.

If you have time, leave a comment over there. I makes me look good. *wink, wink*

Have a great weekend everyone!

Five Ways to Meet Local Moms

One of my biggest sanity savers is my arsenal of mom friends. After Emma was born, and I finally woke from the haze (well, let’s be honest here—I’ll never fully recover from the lack of  sleep), I knew that if I was going to survive this thing called “motherhood,” I needed to get me a posse of mom friends. I’ll be the first one to say it, there are only so many rounds of peek-a-boo and hours spent roaming the aisles of Target that a person can take.

If you are finding yourself in the same situation, it’s time to take action. Now is the moment! C’set la vie, or whatever.

Here are some of the best ways I have met other moms. And yes, I have done every single one of these.

You can read more of this article here.

My Toddler Ate Something Green, and She Liked It!

4 Jan

This is a departure from my usual posts. I am going to give you all something very special. It’s a recipe. Not just any old recipe though. This is something I created all by myself. Not only that, but it is really easy to make and it seriously tastes amazing. Plus, you can freeze and re-heat it in a pinch. That is something surely everyone can appreciate.

But you want to know why this recipe is really, really special? My three year old ate it. And it contains a green vegetable. The baby even ate it too! That means the entire family ate the same green vegetable dish. I mean, I can’t even believe I’m giving my secret away for free.

I wish I had a picture for you guys. I went to take a shot of the leftovers I have in the fridge, but it had already been eaten. See? That’s how good it is! I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

Cheesy Broccoli Casserole ( aka: Green Food My Toddler Will Eat)

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, heated (I use 2 percent)
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 large bunches of broccoli cut into very small florets
  • 6 large russet potatoes (I’ve used red potatoes too and they were delicious- just use the equivalent weight) cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesean
  • A rectangular pan

Wash and prep all vegetables and cheese. Put the pan in an easy to reach place. You will need to move fast once the sauce is ready.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 1: Make the bechamel sauce.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until a paste forms. Cook the paste until it bubbles a bit. This takes about 2 minutes. Don’t let the paste get brown though!

Add hot milk and continue to stir as the sauce thickens. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.

Lower the heat and cook. Keep stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the salt and pepper to taste while you are stirring.

Remove the pan from the heat.

The sauce is ready. Now move fast!

Step 2: Assemble the casserole.

Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of your baking dish.

Next, add a layer of broccoli. It’s ok if the potato layer is peeking through. It all ends up in the same place eventually.

Ladle the bechamel sauce on top of the broccoli. It does not need to completely cover the broccoli. It shouldn’t even mostly cover it. The sauce will melt and cover everything during the baking process.

Repeat another layer starting with the potatoes.

After your second layer has been assembled, sprinkle the shredded cheddar over the partially assembled casserole.

Continue layering until you run out of ingredients or you reach the top of the pan. This usually happens around the fourth layer.

Top with the parmesan cheese.

Helpful tip: If the bechamel sauce gets thick on you, whisk in a little water. This will thin it out.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. You should be able to easily stick a knife through the casserole. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

The directions I gave you are for a double batch, which serves about 8 people. We eat half and freeze the rest. I reheat it at 350 until it is bubbling. Then I let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does!

Now back to the regularly scheduled posting….

Peace Out 2010

1 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! How are you all feeling today? Hungover? Tired? Or totally well rested because you can’t get a sitter on New Year’s Eve and the thought of staying out until all hours of the night and then getting up at 6am with a champagne hangover to take care of two kids makes you feel suicidal so you went to a kid’s party where your husband got totally hammered and ended up sleeping on the couch and then to make up for it he watched the kids all morning so you could sleep in?

Did you all make New Year’s resolutions? My husband and I did something a little differently this year. Usually, we each make three resolutions for ourselves and hope one will stick. This year, we each made three for each other.

I know what you are all thinking, “Sounds risky.” Oh, it is. We had a few ground rules though: 1. No cheap shots, 2. Something totally do-able, and 3. It had to be fun and lighthearted. I want to share the results with you:

My Resolutions for My Husband in 2011

  1. Complain less about the computer.
  2. Complain less (do you notice a trend here?) about the route I take to get to the freeway.
  3. Make a family dinner twice a month.

My Husband’s Resolutions for Me in 2011

  1. More “date nights” (we all know what that means).
  2. TBD
  3. TBD

He totally left me hanging on the other two. I’m going to give him a chance to take a nap, a shower, and eat a burrito so he can get his head together enough to finish the rest.

I also cheated a little and decided to give myself three personal goals for 2011. Here they are:

  1. Pay better attention to my Google Reader.
  2. Go to bed one hour earlier.
  3. Get some chickens.

The last one is going to be quite a challenge. I’ve been thinking about it for so long that it’s about time I actually moved forward with the idea. Plus, it’s not just about having chickens. It’s about doing something that seems like a lot of hard work and that I know nothing about, and stretching myself to learn and grow. If all else fails, I’m sure this little experiment is bound to make for good blog material.

Peace out 2010- don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

What are some of the resolutions you made this year?

Ten Ways to Rock in the New Year With Kids

30 Dec

Here is my most recent post for Rated by Mom:

Ever since I became a parent New Year’s Eve has been kind of a bust. My husband and I are lucky enough to have both sets of parents living in town, and normally they are more than willing to babysit for us. Well on New Year’s Eve, all bets are off. That is the one night a year that our homebody parents have a night out on the town.

I suppose we could try to find a babysitter, but who is going to watch our kids until two in the morning? And honestly, the thought of staying out until all hours of the night and then waking up at 6am to take care of an infant and toddler sounds terrible. I don’t think there is anything worth putting myself through that kind of torture.

Instead of staying in and calling it a night, we are planning doing something a little different this year. We are still going to rock in the New Year, but in a kid friendly way. Yes, we will probably be doing the countdown hours before our own clock strikes twelve, but it will be midnight somewhere.

So here are 10 Ways to Rock in the New Year With Kids:

1. Make festive paper streamers. Tape crepe paper, ribbon, or strips of construction paper to empty rolls of toilet paper.

2. Set off indoor fireworks. Ok, not really. Make use of your leftover Christmas bubble wrap by placing the bubble wrap on the ground. When the clock strikes 12, everyone jumps and stomps on the bubble wrap, creating a popping effect.

3. Do a treasure hunt. Write wishes for the New Year or words of wisdom on pieces of paper. Attach chocolate coins or candies to the papers and hide them around the house. This is something that children of all ages can enjoy.

4. Dress to impress. Bust out the dress-ups, sequins, and hats. Even old Halloween gear will do. It’s hard to deny the party power of a great costume.

5. Make some noise. Fill empty water bottles with beans or corn kernels. Decorate the outside with tissue paper, stickers, streamers, and glitter. Shake away.

6. Save a moment in time by creating a time capsule. Have each family member place a token inside an empty shoe box. Write down what each person contributed and why it is meaningful to them. Then decorate the outside of the box- don’t forget to write down the year. Also, don’t put anything in there that your kids will miss too much. You can save the box until next year or until your kids are much older. My parents did this when I was 10, and we opened ours last year. It was so much fun.

7. Toast the New Year with a “Champagne” cocktail. Combine a 12 ounce bottle of white grape juice, 1 6-oz can of frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed), a 12-oz can of lemon lime soda (chilled), and 1 16-oz package of frozen strawberries (thawed and blended). Pour into fancy glasses or paper cups that have been decorated.

8. Dine in style. Personal pizzas are a fun and easy activity that the entire family can eat. You can buy pre-made dough at some grocery stores, or make your own. Fill small bowls with various ingredients and let your kids decorate their own pizzas. The kids can decorate paper plates with markers while the pizzas are cooking. Serve the pizza on the plates.

9. Get cozy. Build a fire and make a tent with some sheets. Gather as many pillows and comforters as you can find a build a giant family bed inside your tent. Turn off the lights and enjoy the light from the fire, or get out some flashlights for fun in the dark.

10. Bake a New Year’s cake. I recommend using the “Funfetti” cake mix and frosting. Pick up extra sprinkles and sparkly candles. Light the candles and blow them out at the stroke of midnight. Eat and enjoy.

I hope everyone has a rocking New Year’s Eve! Happy New Year!

How are you planning on rocking in the New Year?

The original post can be seen here at Rated by Mom.

An Ode to Chuck E Cheese

21 Dec

What does a mother do,
when rain falls on San Diego ground?
What does she do,
when there’s not a playdate to be found?

The park is too wet,
and the wind is too cold.
The house is a wreck,
and there is laundry to fold.

Does she crawl into a ball,
and lay on the floor?
No! She puts on a brave face,
and heads for the door.

She loads up the car,
with her children, coats, and keys.
And finds herself heading,
towards the nearest Chuck E Cheese.

A place where the fun,
starts at the door.
A place where it won’t matter,
if food falls on the floor.

A place where her kids,
can run, jump, and shout.
The can act like wild banshees,
they can cry, fuss and pout.

Because nothing else matters,
when you’ve got pizza, ski ball, and beer.
Not even that overgrown rodent,
can dissolve all the cheer.

Thank god for this place,
it has saved many a mind.
When the rain starts to fall,
It’s the first place you’ll find (me).

Budget-Friendly Genius Gift Idea: DIY Terrariums

20 Dec

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the economy sucks.

I love giving presents, but my bank account hates it. Every Holiday season I struggle with finding gifts that are easy on the wallet, but also original and thoughtful. I am open to the idea of making gifts, but I’m not very crafty (even though I really, really want to be).

Well, I am so pleased with myself this year because look at what I made:

And if I had really great lighting, expensive furniture, and a childless house they might look more like this:

You get the picture, right?

I love terrariums for many reasons. First, they are really chic and stylish. Second, the are very low maintenance. Third, they are inexpensive and easy to make. This the most winning combination ever!

The best part about making your own terrarium is: it’s really cheap. I spent about $30 on all three of them, and I have enough leftover supplies to make at least four more. That’s less than $5 each. I feel so thrifty!

I have seen really cool terrariums in hip and trendy stores that sell for over $100 each. That’s madness!

Not only can you make your very own terrarium without forking over a fat wad of cash in the process, but they are really easy to make and you don’t have to have any special skills or talent to do it. It’s my dream come true.

Ready for the instructions? Here you go:

How to Make a DIY Terrarium That Looks Like It Cost a Million (or $100) Dollars


  • Clear glass containers: I bought mine at a thrift store for a few doallars each.
  • Cactus/Succulet Mix (soil)
  • Charcoal
  • Lava Rock: This comes in different sizes and colors. I used the small black variety.
  • A variety of succulent and/or cactus babies: I cut some from my parent’s house and my pots in the front yard.

Helpful tip: Most of these things can be found at Home Depot or your local nursery.

Helpful tip: If you cut your own babies, they need to dry out for about 72 hours before you plant them. They do not need to be soaked in water before they are planted again.

Step 1: Put a layer of charcoal at the bottom of the glass containers. This helps absorb odors.

Step 2: Put a layer of lava rock on top of the charcoal. This helps with drainage.

Step 3: Put a layer of soil on top of the lava rock. My layer was about 2 inches thick.

Step 4: Plant the succulents and/or cacti. Just shove them down into the dirt and make them nice and cozy. Don’t over think this part- it’s hard to mess up.

Helpful tip: I think the terrariums look best when grouped in odd numbers like three or five.

Step 5: Put another layer of lava rock on top of the soil and in between the plants. It should look like this when you are done:

Don’t forget to add a little water. I added just enough to moisten the soil. Less is more.

That’s it! How easy is that?

Don’t be surprised when I show up on your doorstep with one of these in my hands, and you definitely know what I’m bringing to the annual gift exchange party this year. Sorry to spoil it for you.

What are some of the budget-friendly genius gift ideas that you are employing this year?



Last Call

10 Dec

Today is the last day to enter my charity giveaway! All the proceeds go to Casa Hogar de Maria Inmaculada, an orphanage in Tijuana. I know everyone is on a tight budget right now. Even $5 makes a difference. Please donate if you can.

Many of you have already donated and I can’t thank you enough for your generosity.

The giveaway ends tonight at 8pm (pst). Here is the link for more information. The winner will be announced on Monday.

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