I'm forcing the issue. I'm making my kids stay home. On a Saturday. No trip to the movie theater. No play dates. No shopping excursion to the air-conditioned mall. Just us at home. In a house with 4 computers, thousands of books, 2 tvs, stereos, 1 mp3 player, 1 karaoke machine, closets full of art supplies, bedrooms full of toys, dogs to play with, and a mountain full of outdoor adventures awaiting. In other words, pure unadulterated hell.

I have a few tricks up my sleeve in just these situations:

First, I make my kids watch endless hours of television. I mean, why am I paying all that money for satellite service if I can't buy myself a full day of brain cell burning peace and quite? Hello? Also the meals that I am required to feed them can be eaten in front of the magic silence box. Delightful.

Second, in the event that they will not be entertained by the idiot box, I can check out some crafty kid ideas on the Internet. One site I like I love is Melissa's Buzz Off from Alpha Mom. Recent articles include painting with straws and photo sensitive paper projects. Very cool. And Kids Craft Weekly is an amazing resource for the pre-school set. It's a weeks worth of projects on a single topic. This week the topic is Machines. Check it out.

The perennial site for tragically bored children is FamilyFun.com. With literally thousands of crafts and treats and decorating ideas and activities and birthday parties and fun. No child should ever utter "I'm so bored..." while a site like this exists.

Third, I can choose to let the boredom in and see what they discover. This is the hardest option for me because it can include up to 2 hours of whining and complaining before the magic of imagination kicks in. (During this phase I often visualize drowning myself in my huge tub or driving off a cliff a la Thelma and Louise.) But once the imagination takes over - nirvana.

So, when the kids are handled (thank the lord) I have some time for me. Which is the entire point of having a relaxing day at home. Often I choose reading. I'm currently back on a Jonathan Kellerman kick. I had put him down for a couple of years and while I was away he wrote some good books. Good for him and for me!

Shelfari is a fun bookshelf site that lets you browse user's bookshelves and read reviews and ratings and such. I like to browse a shelf with some of the same books I have and look for new cool books and authors. I just found Elsewhere this way. I will be adding it to my account at the San Jose Public Library. The library will email me when they have the book ready for me. I love that!

Also, I can be found cooking when time allows. My cooking style tends to be the "use what you've got" kind. I have a well stocked pantry and I try to buy fresh seasonal ingredients (as they are the best tasting and are often the best prices). Then I start searching. Whether it be AllRecipes.com, Cooks Illustrated, or perusing the pages of How to Eat or my favorite classic choice, The Joy of Cooking. The thing with me is that the the meal has to have a theme. If I'm doing Asian, you won't find an Italian salad dressing on the greens I serve. Sesame-soy or something of the sort. I'm a bit of a stickler in that way. Sue me.

One cool new thing I want to try is Scrapblog. It is an online photo scrapbooking site. I haven't started yet, but I'm totally going to. I haven't touched my physical scrapbooks in a couple of years. Which brings me deep shame. Like I don't love my family anymore. Thus the blogging thing. And now this. When I make an album I'll show you. I promise. If you do one, please show me. Thanks.

So it looks like Levi is playing with his extensive Lego collection. And I do believe that Madigan is writing a story. I told her that I would post it on her blog if she wanted me to. She went away and came back a few minutes later looking for the names of cities in Mississippi. I think she's in the zone. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

OK, I'm off to feed these kids. Cause it's nearly 2:00. Maybe time for lunch? Maybe so.

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