Originally created 06/02/04

Sound bites

Efficiency expert

Parents know that leading a household is one of the hardest jobs in the world.

Here are some efficiency tips featured in the May issue of Redbook:

  • Work the swing shift. Schedule activities wisely to avoid long lines, such as shopping for children's birthday gifts at large retailers at 10 p.m. or taking a 2 p.m. "lunch break"to run errands.

  • Crunch numbers. Before you spend 20 minutes driving to the mall and another 20 minutes standing in line to use a $3 coupon, consider this: For someone who earns $30,000 a year, each minute is worth 25 cents, so saving a few pennies is not always worth your time.

  • Promote from within. Good managers know when it's time to give employees more responsibility and to reward them accordingly. Even kindergartners can set the table, and they're likely to do it willingly if there is $1 or a fun activity waiting for them when they're done.

  • Hire freelancers. Hiring part-time help for cleaning or yard work might seem extravagant but it's worth the money if your time is precious and there are other tasks that only you can do.
  • Larger-than - life fashion shows

    Today's moms-to-be have lots of things their own mothers didn't when they were pregnant - cell phones, botanical beauty creams and stylish maternity clothes, among them.

    Now there is a national maternity fashion show touring the country throughout May to offer clothing solutions and suggestions and to raise money and awareness for the What to Expect Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income women have healthier pregnancies, safer deliveries and learn to read to their babies.

    Brands such as Cadeau, Japanese Weekend, Meet Me in Miami, Tummi, Duet and Belly Basics are participating in the Expect: Fashion 2004 tour. Participating retailers will offer one-on-one personal shopping consultations.

    Sand Castles

    A long day at the beach will fly by if you bring the tools needed to make your family's own version of the Mexican Pyramid of Cholula.

    Directions to make the sand pyramids and more than 25 other projects are included in "Sandcastles" (Chronicle Books). (The original pyramids took seven centuries to build, while this one can be done in a day.)

    The book, which is beach-friendly thanks to its coated pages, was written by Patty Mitchell with help from Leap ... Imagination in Learning, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that aims to foster creativity in children. Leap sponsors an Annual Sandcastle Classic Contest that pairs children with teams of architects and contractors.

    To make the pyramids, you'll need a tape measure, five or more shovels, five or more buckets, a trowel and a putty knife, a fan rake, a 5-foot-long 2-by-4 piece of wood or the fan rake handle, a spray bottle, and a paintbrush.

    Select a fairly level area near the high tidemark. With your tape measure, mark out a 4-foot square, or take two giant steps for each side. If your are building two pyramids, space them about 4 feet apart.

    Build up each mountain to a height of 4 feet, alternating layers of water and sand in a method known as the "flat mountain," and tapering as you build. Remember to compact the sand and water continuously.

    Using the trowel, shave down the sides to get the rough pyramid shape. Use the 2-by-4 or fan rake handle to get the walls straight and even. Starting at the top, lightly cut in the outline of the stone blocks with your putty knife. Spray the sides to keep them wet, which will allow for cutting cleaner lines. Once you have the lines lightly carved, go back and make them a little deeper. Use the paintbrush to clear away any excess sand.

    Clean up the sand around the pyramids with the fan rake, smoothing out the sand up to about 3 feet of the sculpture.


    Children will hunt high and low in their quest for information on pirates. Here's a treasure trove of new picture books featuring pirates:

    -"Discovering Pirates" (Pelican) by Richard Platt.This book maps out the role of pirates in history since the beginning of maritime trade. While filled with child-friendly illustrations, "Discovering Pirates" doesn't gloss over the violence and suffering caused by ocean outlaws.

    "Roger the Jolly Pirate" (HarperCollins) by Brett Helquist.Ever wonder where the Jolly Roger skull-and-crossbones symbol came from?Maybe it's named after Roger, a lousy pirate whose attempt at baking a cake below deck left a lasting impression.

    "Ahoy, Pirate Pete" (Candlewick) by Nick Sharratt.Pirate Pete's journey is completed by young readers who fill in blanks in the text with pictures of their own modern-day treasures: spaceships, doughnuts and balloons among them.


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