Reflections and New Year's Wishes

As I sit in my yoga pants (which stopped being flattering about 40 pounds ago) in my usual spot on the sofa (you'll know it by the large butt imprint permanently worn into the leather), I can't help but ponder the year that will soon draw to a close.

Things have changed. Things have stayed the same. Things that initially seemed different are now comfortable.

We've grown as a family, both physically with the addition of Little One, and emotionally. I've been blessed to watch an indescribable bond between my children from the moment Little One joined us. I've been amazed at how naturally big brotherhood has come to Big One. I've relished more kisses and love than I could possibly imagine and felt butterflies at the sight of my children.

I've concluded that life cannot accurately and completely be captured and interpreted in words, yet I won't stop trying.

In recent weeks, months even, I've felt a bit unsettled. Anxious, worried, caught up in my own thoughts and fears. Today, I feel peace. I've shown more patience than I have in some time. I like this feeling. Harnessing this peace, patience, and optimism is my hope for 2009. I want to spend less time worrying about life and more time living it. I hope to come closer to the elusive balance of home, family, work, and personal interests. I want to love and be loved.

Here's wishing all of you the realization of your goals in 2009!

Prayers for Baby Stellan

Have you visited MckMama's blog? Her son is a true miracle. After being told he surely wouldn't survive due to a heart condition, he was born healthy and happy. But now he is battling RSV. And it's bad. He needs prayers. Visit The Mommy Diaries or MckMama's blog for more information. But please keep this sweet baby in your prayers! He has overcome so much. I can't imagine what his family must be going through right now.

Weekly Recap and Top Posts

So I admit I wasn't going to do my weekly recap/lessons learned post today. But then I visited Esther at The Mommy Diaries and she had a link to my blog so I decided I should do it. The truth is I'm still trying to recover from the craziness of the last week. Starting tomorrow I'm going through a self-mandated sugar detox. Man oh man have I been ingesting the sugary goodies this week (and packing on the pounds). It's a little late but here it is: this week's lessons and top posts.

  • Placing a stick of butter on the cooktop while the oven is going is a great way to soften the butter. Or, if you leave it unattended too long, melt the butter. Fortunately, the pools of butter weren't too big by the time I remembered it.
  • I'm too old to make gobs of Christmas candy. I don't have the patience anymore. At the ripe old age of 30, I'm hanging up my candy making gloves and leaning towards cookies next year.
  • Furthermore, I love chocolate dipped pretzels (and I have the rear to prove it) yet I hate the melting/dipping process.
  • Threatening to call Santa to cancel Christmas isn't the best behavior modification plan. Because what are you going to do when your 3 year old continues to misbehave? Ok, so you make a fake call to Santa. Then the aforementioned 3 year old insists he doesn't want presents. What's your next move, Mom? Three. is. fun.
  • Threatening to tell hot Dr. C about Big One's bad behavior? Another bad move. Because now, Big One is scared to even speak to Dr. C. He tells me he still likes Dr. C. He just wants to be shy around him.
  • Threats behavior modification techniques really need to be well thought out.
  • One of the great things about Christmas is watching your kids relish the magic of the holiday.
  • Watching chubby baby hands pluck away at a toy piano hand selected by her big brother is one of the most beautiful sights.
  • It's right up there with sleeping children.
  • No matter how much they drive me crazy (it's been a LONG weekend), I know I am so blessed to have my family!

Well, I tried! And now a few of my favorite posts from the week.
  • I Suppose I Could Have Stayed Home and Baked Cookies @ The Gift: Every mom struggles with the work vs staying home issue. This is a great post by Anastasia about how her opinion changed.
  • Men Are All Alike @ Martini Mom: I know I've included a lot of this blog in my favorite posts but she is hilarious! She's one of those writers who can turn any situation into something funny. Being a teacher, she has plenty of funny stories from her kids and this is another one that I think you will enjoy. She also has a story about falling on the ice which I can totally relate to. Last winter while I was pregnant with Little One, I slipped on a patch of ice and went down like a sack of potatoes. I'm not the most graceful of folks. Add ice to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. Let's be honest. I fall on the ice at least once a winter. At least this year I don't have to leave the house when it's icy!
  • New Year's Eve Noise Makers @ Lucky Me: If you need a craft activity to keep the kids out of your hair entertained, this is a good one. I'm planning to do this with Big One.
  • Emma's New Purse @ The Mommy Diaries: Esther's daughter received an adorable new purse and cell phone. You must see these pictures. She is a fashionista in the making! I suppose I like it so much because I can picture Little One being the same way in a few months. My personal favorite is the last picture of Emma.
  • last week @ matt, liz, and madeline: I've mentioned Matt's blog before. I'll warn you again: go armed with Kleenex. This particular post made me both laugh and cry. The tears for the heartbreak of this family. The laughter for Matt's ingenuity in his last minute tree decoration.
Disclaimer: There are no guarantees that any of the above content will be interesting, enlightening, grammatically correct, or spell checked. There will most certainly be typos, rambling that causes boredom, and a nonsensical train of thought. But I thank you for reading to the end anyway!

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

Waiting to see Santa...

No tears! Hooray!

Merry Christmas!

Discoveries This Week & Top Posts

It's that time again! Here are just a few this weeks discovers/rediscoveries/life lessons.
  • There is never a bad time to show kindness to a friend, neighbor, family member, coworker, or total stranger. You never know when it will be too late!
  • No one else in the house understands the concept of silence while Little One is falling asleep at nap time. No one. I need nap time, people!
  • Christmas is coming whether I'm prepared or not. I need to let go of all the things that I intended to do for the holiday season and just enjoy this time with my family!
  • My brain is too scattered right now to do any more reflection on my week. So I'm off to bake Christmas cookies with Big One!

And now for the top posts of the week.
  • How Sweet Gingerbread Home by Jessi @ Table for 4: Jessi and her son, Josiah, made an adorable gingerbread house. From scratch! I bow down to her awesome gingerbread making skills. I never would have had the patience! There are some great pictures of the finished product with her adorable son, Joshiah. Jessi, you've once again inspired me to attempt a gingerbread house from scratch next year. But most likely I'll chicken out and do a kit instead!
  • Christmas Decorations by Christy @ Fiona Foo: Christy posted some beautiful pictures of her Christmas decorations. Her house looks so festive! It's the kind of house you would want to go visit and sip cocoa by the fireplace (which I'm so jealous of!). I'm new to Christy's blog but check out the adorable pictures of her daughter while you're there. Her daughter has the most adorable little pink hat! So cute!
  • They're WHAT? by Martini Mom: You must read this hilarious story about what happened when her daughter's roommates came for dinner. Very funny stuff.
  • Rice Christmas Tree by Just for Fun: If you're looking for some last minute holiday activities with the kiddos, check out Just for Fun. She has so many fun activities on her blog. I'm still determined to do with rice Christmas tree with Big One even though Christmas is almost here!
  • Michael Signs "Milk" by Jolene @ The Little Things in Life: Check out this video of her son signing the word "milk". He's not even 1 yet! This really inspires me to start teaching both kids sign language. Big One is showing a lot of interest in learning sign language/other languages. He knows several Spanish words (thanks, Dora!) and a few signs. I'm going to make it my mission to teach them more!
For more top posts of the week, visit The Mommy Diaries. Have a great week!

Diaper or Underwear?

Yes, this is my third post today. Apparently, I have a lot to say.

For those who have been reading for a while, you may think this is yet another post about my potty training woes or a new strategy to get Big One to poop in the potty. But it's not. Not really, anyway.

This summer, in the midst of our hardcore potty training with Big One, he was so very proud of himself for wearing underwear. One day, Hubs was working on some sort of home improvement project in the driveway when our neighbor, Tom, stopped by to chat. Big One is always up for a visit from a neighbor. His two favorites are Tom and Jerry. Yes, those are their real names. They aren't a couple, in case you're wondering.

When Big One saw Tom outside talking to Daddy, he ran out the front door to greet him. He proudly announced that he was wearing underwear. Without missing a beat he yells, "Hey, Tom! Are you wearing a diaper or underwear?"

It was so funny, although Hubs was embarrassed. Tom didn't mind though. He laughed it off and started joking back with Big One.

That was the last time I really saw Tom. Sure, I saw him in his driveway or mowing the lawn. But that was the last real interaction we had.

We found out tonight that Tom passed away. Two weeks ago. Stomach cancer. We didn't even know he was sick. And now he's gone. And we're very sad, even though we didn't know him beyond exchanging small talk in the driveway.

His son lived with him. Now his son is alone. Old enough to take care of himself. But alone.

I'm sad for his son. I'm sad that we didn't know of Tom's sickness. I would have done more. Baked him cookies. Made casseroles to stock the freezer. Showed him that we cared. I'm sad that we found out two weeks after the fact. We would have gone to the funeral.

I'll miss seeing him outside in the summer. I'll miss Big One yelling, "Hey! There's Tom! Can we go say hi?" I wish I would have let Big One go say hi to him more often. I usually brushed it off, telling him Tom was probably busy. And now, Big One can't go say hi. I wonder if Big One will notice. Will he ask about Tom? Will he even notice that he's not around? Should we tell him?

We have invited Tom's son to our house for Christmas Eve. I hope he joins us. I've never had a conversation with him. But no one should be alone on Christmas Eve. Especially after such a loss.

What's That Expression?

Don't bite the breast that feeds you. No? That's not right? Well it should be. Because ouch!

Little One now has 2 teeth. They sprouted last week. And they're sharp. She's been very good to me. Until the last few days, that is. Apparently she's exploring the concept of cause and effect. I imagine her thought process goes something like this.

If I pretend I'm hungry, Mommy will feed me. I'll give her a sweet little smile, study her face carefully to see if she's on to my plan, then, without warning, bite down suddenly with my shiny, new teeth. Guess what happens? Mommy squeals and makes some hilarious facial expressions. Then she starts muttering threats of formula and bottles. But I know better. A quick flash of my extra big grin and she goes all mushy on me. That smile coupled with my big brown eyes will get me out of anything. Mommy and Daddy are so easy. And if I wait a good 5 or 6 hours, she's not so jumpy about the whole biting thing and I can sneak in another one. Being 7 months old rocks!

Our Christmas House

Last year, we began our Christmas house tradition. Don't call it a gingerbread house. Big One will promptly correct you. Last year's Christmas house was constructed from a kit that was on clearance at Target. This year, I had grand intentions of baking a gingerbread house completely from scratch.

Things don't always turn out as planned. I'm not sure what happened to the first part of December, but do you realize next week is Christmas? I had to ditch my plans of a fairy tale gingerbread Christmas house and again spring for the kit.

I should have picked up a different one. I just had a feeling that some of the pieces would be broken.

I was correct. I may not have baked it myself, but I know a thing or two about icing. We were able to do a quick patch job and get the house constructed in no time.

It's probably a good thing I don't have aspirations to be a structural engineer, construction worker, or anything else involving the structural integrity of buildings. Most of the walls were somewhat straight and there was only a minor gap in the roof. Nothing a big swirly line of frosting can't fix.

Big One had a lot of fun decorating his Christmas house.

Little One was a great foreman on this construction sight. She kept a close eye on all of the construction. Big One only licked the knife a few times. And he may have licked his fingers a few times and then put more candy on the Christmas house. My advice? Pass if he offers you a bite.

He took one last look at the blueprints to make sure the Christmas house was complete.

It passed the final inspection and was ready for photographs.

Hey, Big One. The camera's over here. Little One, what are you reaching for now? I can see you! You're not very sneaky.

Happy Christmas house making to any of the other mamas out there doing their own gingerbread construction!

Another Snowy Wordless Wednesday

Check out 5 Minutes for Mom to see more Wordless Wednesday. Thanks for visiting!

Really, Target?

Swimsuits in December? Really, Target. I understand your need to get a jump on the next season and all. But swimsuits in December?

I love you, Target. I really do. I'll sing the praises of your $1 section until the day that I die. What a perfect way for all of us desperate loving moms to bribe reward our children. How else could I possibly make it through your aisles with my two screaming children with any ounce of sanity left?

I can forgive your Christmas displays two weeks before Halloween. I'm assuming your selection of Valentines and Easter paraphernalia will soon push the Christmas decorations aside. I can live with that. But swimsuits in December may cross the line.

By getting a jump on the season, you may actually alienate the moms who so loyally cross your threshold. I know I'm not the only mom who loves the winter months simply because I can hide my extra weight behind bulky sweaters and winter coats. Another glass of eggnog? Sure. I've got some spare room under this sweater. I better have another Christmas cookie to go along with it. I have months before I have to think about wearing short sleeves again. It would be rude not to sample all of the goodies that everyone loves to share at this time of year.

Except now when I walk into Target, I get a reminder of all those winter pounds I must shed. You haven't even given us the chance to make our New Year's Resolution to lose 20 pounds by May (which will be broken by mid January). Are the swimsuits meant to be a motivator? Because it's not working for me. In fact, it's almost enough to send me to the bathroom in tears.

Or reach for another Christmas cookie.

This Week's Lessons & Top Posts

This week I learned...
  • If your doctor prescribes medication for your underactive thyroid, you should take it. Going 4 months without it because you're too lazy to go for your yearly blood draw? Not recommended. I'm calling my doctor tomorrow.
  • After giving your 6 month old a biter biscuit, you should wipe off the goo immediately. That stuff dries very quickly and isn't easy to remove.
  • Killer whales eat seals. I suppose I may have learned this at some point. But I relearned it in our latest library book. At least it was just a drawing and not an actual photo. And at least I was a little airy and thought it was a fish. So when I said, "Hey look, Big One. That killer whale is throwing a fish in the air to eat it" I was relieved that Big One didn't realize like I did that it wasn't actually a fish but a seal. And he also didn't notice the red blood trail in the water on another whale-eating-a-seal illustration. Did we really need the red blood trail in the water? That seems a little gruesome for a children's book. We're sticking to fiction on our next trip to the library.
  • My dog is able to locate a patch of mud even if the entire yard appears to be covered in snow. I hate muddy dog prints on the floor. (I already knew that last part.)
  • Some days when your 3 year old is acting especially naughty, not even lunch out with friends will help. Sometimes it takes an emotional breakdown full of tears and snot under the covers of your bed (sorry I used your side of the bed, Hubs). If you're lucky, the same 3 year old who sent you spiraling off the edge of the proverbial cliff will give you a big hug, tell you he's sorry for making you sad, and melt your heart. And then you can go back to being Mommy again.
  • If you stop sitting around on your butt thinking, "I would really like to pursue _____" and actually take steps toward pursuing your super secret life dreams, things will start happening. You may even smack yourself on the head and say, "Why didn't I start actually doing something about it sooner?"
And now for my recommendations if you have some spare time...
  • lost lyrics by Amy Lou @ Spontaneous Blah: Amy is back at it! After a bit of a blog hiatus, she shared a piece of writing she discovered this week. I love this post because it reminds me that I need to write as soon as inspiration strikes (unless I'm driving down the road... unfortunately, that's when most of my inspiration strikes). I always think I'll remember my little inspirations, things that the kids said or did, the kid's firsts. Of course I don't and they're lost forever.
  • The Real Field Trip by Vodka Mom: This mom is seriously funny. I just discovered this blog this week. She is a kindergarten teacher so I'm sure all of the teachers out there can relate. It was tough to pick just one of her posts but this one is quite humorous. She's Gonna Blow is worth a read too.
  • Peppermint Marshmallow Recipe @ Little Birdie Secrets: I love this blog. They have so many cute ideas. Big One is obsessed with marshmallows of all varieties so I think this may be one of our projects this week. I've never made my own marshmallows so this could be interesting. I do make a lot of homemade candy at this time of year though. We'll see how it turns out!
You can find more top posts of the week at the Mommy Diaries. Enjoy!

Jesus, Santa, and the Easter Bunny

It seems that this time of year is a bit difficult for a 3 year old to understand. This is what Big One knows about Christmas.

Santa is going to bring him presents, as long as he's good and stays on the "nice" list. If anything is missing, Santa apparently took it way, way, way up in the air, since his sleigh can fly and all. Santa took our cat, Hunter, way, way, way up to Heaven this summer. The Easter Bunny will also be visiting this holiday season to hide eggs in the Christmas tree. Oh, and by the way, did you know we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas? Jesus wants a Cars birthday party. We're going to recycle the Cars sign from Big One's party. Jesus won't mind sharing. We need to go to the store to get red and black frosting for Jesus' Cars cake. Big One would like to go to Jesus' house for his birthday party. But Big One is not going to talk at the party. He's only going to sit and play with his Planet Heroes. He did have one question when we discussed the birth of Jesus. Were the angels the pretty kind?

It Hurts When I Do This

Big One has become the master of stalling at bedtime. Stories. Water. Endless, random questions. He's done it all for a while.

Apparently, it was time for a new approach.

Last night (after getting out of bed several times already), he walked out into the hallway, finger fish hooked into his mouth and digging into the inside of his cheek.

"Mommy, it hurts when I do this."

Really? You mean digging your finger into your cheek doesn't feel good? It's so very difficult to keep a straight face sometimes.

But it gets better.

A few minutes later he comes out again, this time, his pointer finger lodged snugly in his right nostril.

"Mommy, this hole right here hurts."

Your finger is halfway up your nose, Big One. I don't imagine it feels good!

I love 3.

What I Learned This Week

Since motherhood is all about learning on the job, I thought I'd share what I learned this week.
  • It's nearly impossible to find a children's non-fiction book about zebras that doesn't show some sort of photo or sketch of a zebra being preyed upon. And by preyed upon I mean half eaten with at least 1 predator happily munching away on a bloody zebra carcass. The first zebra book I picked up yesterday was entirely devoted to zebras as prey. An entire book of zebras being consumed by other animals... in the children's section. Nightmare, anyone?
  • I still have no idea why my dates are populating my post title fields. It's driving me nuts. But apparently not nuts enough to really try to fix.
  • I like doughnuts. There was a time (20 pounds ago) that I could pass by a doughnut without a second though. Now, if you're a doughnut, watch out. I won't tell you how many doughnuts fell prey to my cravings this morning.
  • If your husband finds out about your blog, he'll read it. When you blog about him, he'll act hurt. Secretly he likes the attention. *wink, wink*
  • Even bribing your 3 year old with a new bike won't convince him to poop in the potty.
Esther at The Mommy Diaries does a Sunday Best Posts of the Week. I love the idea so I'm going to borrow it. Hope you don't mind, Esther! I always love discovering new blogs and I think this is a great way to do it. Enjoy!
  • Leaf to Leaf by Amy Lou @ Spontanous Blah: This post is not from this week. Not even this month. But I love it and felt it deserved mention. Amy has had quite a year. I'll leave the details for you to discover if you visit her blog.
  • What Did She Just Say? by Anastasia @ The Gift: You know those awkward social situations when everything is going well and then you say something out of left field? Suddenly everything happens in slow motion and you would do anything if you could rewind time and take back that one thing. I can relate so much to what Anastasia has to say about this!
  • From the Desk Mouth of Josiah by Jessi @ Table for 4: I love reading the funny things that kids say. Jessi shares some great quotes from her 2 year old. I especially like the last one!
  • reflection by Matt at matt, liz and madeline: Please do not go to this blog without a box on tissue. I can't begin to imagine what Matt has gone through this year. The picture in this post is amazing. If you read the background of Matt's story, it's even more powerful. But seriously, tissues are a must if you're going to read much of this blog.
Here's to another week of parental mistakes learning opportunities and lots of newly discovered blog posts!

All I Want for Christmas is...

A ghetto pantry?

Hold on, Santa. I think you misread my letter. I know you're busy at this time of year. And you're probably on a sugar high getting into shape for your Santa costume. I'd be a little confused too if I were surrounded by all of those guys with pointy ears. And talking reindeer must really trip you out.

But a pantry?

It seems a few months ago I mentioned to my loving Hubs that we should get some sort of cheap freestanding cupboard to put in the dining room area (which is part of the kitchen) as a pantry of sorts. He thought it was a good idea but we didn't pursue it.

Until yesterday.

Hubs went to the home improvement store. Alone. Dangerous. That's how we acquired 85% of the tools in the garage that now rest idly, hoping to once again be called to duty. (I'm not complaining. Hubs is actually very handy around the house. I'm just saying... not sure all of the tools were a necessity.)

He called me excitedly blabbering about some cupboard he found. The kids both needed me so I told him we'd talk about it later.

When he got home, this is what he said:

"It's your Christmas gift but I'll go ahead and tell you. I found this really nice cupboard that we can use as that pantry over there."

Blank stare.

"I'm getting a ghetto pantry for Christmas? You can't even make me a nice built-in pantry? I get a ghetto pantry as my Christmas gift?"

"But that's what you wanted."

"I wanted it for Christmas? I don't remember that. I remember saying it might be a nice addition to the kitchen. Never did I suggest it as a Christmas gift."

Hubs always puts words in my mouth like that. Last year we had discussed that we could use some new pans. So when his dad asked for gift suggestions, he told him that I wanted pans and he wanted Guitar Hero. What?

Yes, please, give me pans. So I can fulfill my wifely duty and cook. While my husband sits on his butt. And plays video games. That's always been my Christmas wish. Hey, why not throw in a new iron while you're at it? (Incidentally, Esther over at The Mommy Diaries has a great relevant video on her blog!)

Just for the record, I'm not really as selfish as I come across here. All of my responses to Hubs were done in a more joking way. But really, we can get the pantry, but can we not call it a Christmas gift? Love you, Hubs! Pantry and all.

I Need to Scratch it Like a What?

Big One: Hey, Mommy. You just need to scratch it like a DJ.

Me: [Pause] Did you just say I need to scratch it like a DJ?

Big One: Yeah, Mommy. You need to scratch it like a DJ. Like this. nuh-nuh [slides his finger back and forth on his headboard]

Me: Like this? [doing my best "scratching it like a DJ impression"]

Big One: That's how you DON'T scratch it like a DJ.

Me: That's not right?

Big One: No! You go like this. nuh-nuh.

Me: Like this? nuh-nuh. [Imitating his finger sliding on the headboard.]

Big One: Yeah! Now jump up and down like a DJ.

Me: Uh, I'll break your bed if I jump up and down like a DJ.

Big One: Oh, ok. Well scratch it like this like a DJ. [scratches his nostril]

Me: DJs scratch their noses?

Big One: Yeah.

Me: I'll pass.

He says he learned this from Ooh and Aah on Playhouse Disney. Who says TV can't be educational?

Can You Flush Tootsie Rolls? or How Not to Potty Train Your Child

Yes, we are still struggling to get Big One to go Number 2 in the potty. Our brainchild tonight? Tootsie Rolls.

Big One started his screaming/dancing/I'm-not-going-to-poop-even-though-I-really-need-to routine. Since I was nursing Little One to sleep, I suggested Hubs try the Tootsie Roll play which he devised a few weeks ago.

Hubs secretly grabbed a Tootsie Roll from the leftover Halloween candy. He collected Big One's Curious George stuffed animal. Do you see where this is going?

Hubs announced that Curious George really needed to go potty. Big One took the bait and ran after them into the bathroom. After sitting on the potty chair for a few seconds, Curious George miraculously pooped.

Big One was in awe.

"He pooped! HE POOPED!"

I heard the toilet flush. Can you flush Tootsie Rolls? I sure hope so.

"Hey, my tiger needs to poop too!"

Uh oh. Not how this was supposed to work.

"No, Big One. Tigers poop outside. But you can go on the potty. Why don't you try like Curious George?"

Big One was convinced that suddenly all of his stuffed animals gained the ability to go #2 in the potty. Hubs vetoed several stuffed animals and finally admitted to Big One that the "poop" was actually candy.

"NO! Curious George really pooped!" Big One insisted.

Big One never pooped.

I have a feeling I'll be fishing stuffed animals out of the toilet tomorrow.

A Snowy Wordless Wednesday

For more Wordless Wednesday, check out 5 Minutes for Mom and MomDot. Thanks for stopping by!

Lost in Translation

The 3 year old mind is an amazing thing. It can twist the simplest of commands into something entirely different. Here are a few recent examples of this breakdown in communication in our house.

I say: "Please at least try to poop on your potty."
Big One hears: "Throw yourself on the floor, kick and scream, completely ignore all logic, and hold poop in until you are constipated. Or, wait until I put on your night time diaper. Let it all come out because I LOVE cleaning up poop."

I say: "Pick up all of your toys in the living room and take them to your room."
Big One hears: "Pick up one toy, get sidetracked, drag out a new tub of toys, spread them all over your room, and pretend to be deaf when I remind you of your original orders."

I say: "Please be quiet. Your sister's sleeping."
Big One hears: "Please run up and down the hallway right outside your sister's door, stomping as loud as possible. Roar like a dinosaur while running by her door. Please make the roar realistic by doing it as loudly as your little lungs will allow. Throw a few toys at her door. When I lecture you about being quiet, throw yourself down on the floor and kick the wall to her bedroom. Refuse to go to bed by screaming and fighting me the whole time."

I say: "It's bedtime. Go to sleep. No getting out of bed. No yelling."
Big One hears: "Go ahead and stay up another hour. When I try to leave the room, ask me a million random questions. Ask for more water. Get out of bed and collect a few of your favorite toys. Play with them for at least 30 minutes. Be sure to play loudly. Come to the door and lecture us about how loud the TV is and how you can't sleep. Return to your bed and beg to be tucked in again. Ask for more water. Continue to play in your bed until you can't stay awake any longer."

I say: "No you can't have a sucker."
Big One hears: "Kick and scream long enough and I'll probably give in just to make you be quiet."

I say: "Please stop touching the Christmas ornaments."
Big One hears: "Stand next to the tree suspiciously until I turn my head. Proceed to play with the ornament that I just told you not to touch. Drop it on the floor. Make sure it breaks. Go pout in the corner when you get in trouble for breaking the ornament. When you're finished pouting, return to the tree and repeat."

I say: "Leave Mommy's computer alone."
Big One hears: "Wait until I turn my back for a second. Press every single button that you can get your sticky little fingers on. I prefer that you either open a million Firefox help windows or shut my computer down altogether. Forget about the work I'm doing. I didn't save it but I might be able to recover it. If I'm lucky."

I say: "Mommy's working right now."
Big One hears: "Jump on my back. Yell as loud as you can. Get right in my face and talk about random things that make no sense. Sneak out to the kitchen and pull things out of the drawers. Go to the bathroom. Unroll the toilet paper. Shove some of it in your potty chair. Squeeze half of your toothpaste on your toothbrush. Throw a fit when you get caught.

I say: "It's bath time."
Big One hears: "Do everything in your power to stall. Throw a fit. Kick. Scream. Refuse to remove your clothes. Make me beg and plead with you to get in the bathtub. Get in the bathtub. Refuse to let us wash your hair. Throw another fit when we do anyway. Start playing with your bath toys. Refuse to get out of the tub when bath time is over. Splash water all over the bathroom, especially near the wood trim. Wood and water are a good combo."

I say: "We can play Candyland if you follow the rules."
Big One hears: "Rules? What rules? Don't pay attention when I try to help you. Take 5 cards instead of one at a time. Bounce about wherever you feel like it. Declare yourself the winner after your second turn. Get sidetracked and ignore my pleas to just pick a stinking card. Get bored and scatter the pieces all about. Get mad when I put the game away."

Isn't the 3 year old an amazing species?

Gravy, Snowflakes, and Pumpkin Nog Goodness

What a combination, huh? I don't recommend these 3 things all together. But individually they can be quite good.

Snowflakes have been flying this weekend. To Big One's delight, the snow is actually sticking. This morning, Hubs and Big One made a trip to Target for snow pants, boots and "hand glubs" (gloves). On their great shopping adventure, Hubs and Big One picked up some Pumpkin Nog. It was like liquid pumpkin pie. That actually sounds kind of gross but it was really yummy. I highly recommend picking up a carton.

Big One was able to get in some fun time in the snow with Hubs this afternoon. He was very pleased until we pulled the plug on the fun and made him come inside. We're so mean!

Hubs suggested we celebrate Thanksgiving: The Sequel today. Since Little One demanded so much attention (and refused to nap) on Thursday, I was all for a more relaxing version of the holiday. I cooked my first turkey ever and it turned out surprisingly well. I also made gravy for the first time ever. Guess what? No lumps! I was excited. We bought the smallest turkey we could find but we still have plenty left. Feel free to share any leftover turkey dish recipes!

The kids were a bit crabby today. Hubs and I snapped at each other a few times. But I am truly one blessed mama. I hope you have all enjoyed Thanksgiving, however you celebrated!

Black Friday (Or Not)

Black Friday shopping is crazy. Who in their right mind would go shopping at 4am? I'm unwilling to sacrifice sleep just to save a few bucks.

I am seriously addicted to bargain shopping, but honestly, the Black Friday "deals" don't excite me that much. First of all, I HATE crowds. I like my personal space. I like aisles free of clutter, carts, and sweaty people who have been shopping all day. I don't want to wrestle another Black Friday-crazed mom for the last of whatever great deal is left on the shelf. And I loathe waiting in line for more than 5 minutes. So I never partake in the Black Friday festivities.

Honestly, I can find a lot better deals shopping the clearance racks at Target throughout the year. Their clearance eventually gets to 75% off and that's a REAL deal. These days, even 50% off doesn't excite me. I'll wait until it goes to 75% off unless it's something I *really* want. Otherwise, I'll take my chances on losing it.

Despite my extreme dislike for Black Friday shopping, we decided to head out of the house yesterday at 4pm. We figured that most of the bargain shoppers were done for the day. Plus, I really only wanted to go to Michael's and Hobby Lobby so I could get the supplies I need to start making Christmas gifts. Apparently, everyone else had the same idea.

Hubs and Big One stayed in the car at Michael's. I lugged Little One in the store with me. The fact that there were only 4 carts left at the front of the store should have been my first clue to turn tail and run back to the car. Still, I forged ahead, determined to get through my list.

Until I saw the checkout lines. They stretched halfway to the back of the store. Did everyone head to Michael's after their long day of shopping at the malls, toy stores, and Walmart? Why in the world was it so busy at 4pm? I just wanted a few craft supplies, people! But I couldn't do it. I couldn't entertain Little One for who knows how long in line. I promptly returned my cart for some other poor sucker to use and headed back to the van. We didn't even try Hobby Lobby. I'm not sure I want to brave the crowds today either. I have a feeling I should have made the trip a few weeks ago if I didn't want to battle the Christmas crowds.

I did send Hubs into Toys R Us to buy a doctor's kit for Big One. He always wants me to pretend to be a doctor when he gets hurt so I thought it would be a perfect little gift for him. Hubs called me from inside the store.

"It's all pink. Is that ok?"

I was shocked. Was this the same Hubs who, 2 years ago, didn't want Big One to have a doll, even though he was dressed in all blue? Now he was willing to buy him a doctor's kit that was pink. My how things change! They were all out of the blue ones so it was pink or nothing.

Since Big One has been asking for Tinkerbell for Christmas and seems completely comfortable playing with "girl toys", I had a feeling he wouldn't even notice the bag was pink, nor mind if he did happen to notice. I didn't care and if Hubs was on board, it was a go. So Big One will find a shiny pink doctor's kit under the tree this year. It will probably be one of his favorite items.

We also headed to Target for a few groceries. But that was the sum of our Black Friday shopping. And I don't feel like I missed out. I'd much rather shop the clearance section of Target throughout the year and get 75% off things than battle 5 million people on Black Friday to save a few bucks. Did anyone else brave the Black Friday crowds?

Six Months Ago...

...I gave birth for the second time. Little One has made the halfway mark of her first year! I remember the day (night) so clearly. The red light we ran to get to the hospital. Staring at the stupid light on the ceiling in the delivery room. The anesthesiologist trying to convince me not to get an epidural. Little One making her entrance. The overwhelming, indescribable wave when I held her the first time. The wait to get her back after she went to the nursery. The doctor telling me she was going to the NICU. The guilt that I hadn't called my doctor sooner when I thought my water was leaking.

I'm finally starting to get over the guilt. Our journey as a family of 4 didn't start out as I had planned. Big One didn't get to cuddle with his new baby sister in my room the way I had imagined (but he did get to cuddle with me). He was able to see her once through the glass of the NICU. He cried the 5 days she was in the NICU, asking for her to wake up and come home with us (she had been sleeping when he saw her so he thought we were waiting for her to wake up before she could come home).

Little One stayed in the hospital 2 extra days so I spent the nights with her in her room. While at the hospital with her, I wanted to be home with Big One. When home with Big One, I wanted to be at the hospital with Little One. Really, I just wanted us to be together. A family. I can't imagine how the mamas whose babies spend weeks or months in the NICU must feel.

I remember at 2am staring out the hospital window. A traffic light blinked from red to green to yellow and back to red. I watched cars driving on the freeway. I remember thinking, "I'm not the only one awake right now. There are other people up right now, but they want to be up. They're drinking and partying. Are they crazy?"

Then there was the bili light night. I imagine it was the equivalent of trying to sleep on the sun. The thin hospital blanket did little to block the glow that lit her room all. night. long.

It seems so long ago. Yet it seems like yesterday.

Despite the bumps in the road, I know we are lucky. Every night, I walked the length of the corridor in the NICU to Little One's room. The walls proudly displayed pictures of NICU graduates then and now. Tiny babies, clinging to life. And the vibrant, healthy children they grew into. Little One's stint in the NICU was more precautionary than anything else. Our story has a very happy ending. The grinning, giggling 6 month old I get to cuddle every day is the proof.

Happy 6 month birthday, Little One!

Look, Mommy, That Zebra is Red!

On our trip to the library today, we headed to the juvenile non-fiction section to look for a zebra book Big One saw last time. Little One was heavy and squirmy. We had been running errands all morning. I just wanted to get in and out of the library. I quickly scanned the shelf for the zebra book but didn't have much luck. While I looked, Big One plucked random animal books off the shelf. After collecting 4 or 5 books, I decided to cut him off and ditch the zebra book for today. He agreed and we were off.

At bed time, we perused the two cat books that he selected. I had no idea there were so many different types of cats. Some of them are very creatively named. The fishing cat. The jungle cat. The flat headed cat. Pure genius. Big One wanted to know the names of every cat. And he repeated every name exactly after I said them.

It reminded me of the radio cooking show that used to be on the local country radio station. I clearly remember riding in the car with mom, listening to 2 women reciting recipes. The lead lady would read the first ingredient. The second would repeat it word for word. They were the ultimate tag team of radio cooking shows.

Now for the red zebra.

We flipped open the last book. On one of the first few pages was a sketch. Two tigers and a zebra. The zebra was red. And half eaten. I attempted to quickly flip past the potentially nightmare-inducing sketch. Not fast enough. Big One spotted the zebra and wanted to look at it. Darn! He didn't say anything at first. Then,

"Look, Mommy. That zebra is red."

Forget that he was missing his hind legs. Fortunately, that little detail went unnoticed.

Apparently, non fiction books need to be censored!

More of Me

Since I have you under my spell and you surely crave more of my genius writing, I wanted to share with you my latest endeavor. I have so much free time these days with a 3 year old and a 6 month old, that I started writing for a website called Busy Mommy. I am the Mommy Time Topic Editor. I only have a few articles up so far but more will be coming soon. You know, between all the diaper changes, temper tantrums, and holiday activities.

The Busy Christmas Giveaway is going on right now so check it out. Currently, there are giveaways for a Radio Flyer Turbo Turtle Ride On Toy and a Crazy Forts Construction toy. There are several more giveaways that will be added, including a personalized blankie, a Jawbone Handsfree Headset, Pediped Shoes, and lots more. Don't forget to register on Busy Mommy before you enter the giveaway. No, I'm not paid to pimp the contest. :-) I just wanted to share the chance to win some prizes right before the holidays. Happy Monday!

The TRUE Meaning of My Name

My bloggy friend, Jessi, just did this on her blog and I couldn't resist. I quickly clicked the link to reveal the hidden secret to my name. I added in a few of my own comments in red. Here it goes...

What Shelley Means

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong. [EXACTLY what I think every morning when I look in the mirror]

You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know. [This truly was written just for me. You may not know it, but you too are under my spell. That's why you keep coming back over and over again. Don't fight it. I have you mesmerized.]

You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do. ["Crushing-the-Weak" is actually my middle name. But you probably figured that out by now.]

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out.

Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia. [If by success you mean showering almost every day and not completely losing my cool when the kids do everything in their power to push me over the edge, then heck yeah success comes easily!]

Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person. [Overbearing and selfish. Check and check.]

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone. [Getting a little warmer. There are very few people I don't get along with. Unless I'm pregnant. But really, can you blame me? It's all those raging hormones. Charming may be a bit strong. It's a bit difficult to be charming with baby drool dripping off the nursing tank top I've worn for two days straight. I'm pretty sure I've got the "box guy" (UPS man) eating out of the palm of my hand though.]

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together. [I'm really not big on water. I can't swim so I try to avoid boats. Oh, we're talking metaphorical boats here? Then, again, we're pretty close to the mark here. I like to think of myself as a people-bringer-togetherer.]

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together. [I resent being called flaky! Just because I forget to feed Big One lunch occasionally or can't remember the last time I showered does not make me flaky. Ok, I may forget a few birthdays. But who doesn't?]

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow. [Chill. Yes. Very chill. A preschooler and a baby will do that to you.]

You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily. [Hubs will definitely veto this one. Light hearted and accepting, yes. That last part though? Not so much.]

Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is. [People are ALWAYS asking me what my secret is. Especially when I'm cruising the aisles of Target, hair in a ponytail, clothes only slightly disheveled. Even more so when I'm chasing Big One down the toy aisle, hurling threats of him never again seeing the light of day, all while bouncing Little One in her sling in an attempt to minimize her blood-curdling screams to a dull roar. Oh yeah, I make people jealous wherever I go!]

You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in. [Isn't there a song about not fencing me in?]

You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising. [People are always wondering what in the heck I'm going to do next. But usually they have the mental ward on standby.]

You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care. [I'm pretty sure I'll never settle down. I'm so far from it it's not even funny.]

Cake in a Cup

Due to my yucky sickness at the beginning of the week, I haven't done many activities with Big One. So today, we did one of his favorite things. We baked! Except we used the microwave. That was a first for me. I'm not big on using the microwave for much of anything, honestly. But, as I was bouncing from blog to blog last night, I came across this cake in a cup idea at Her Cup Overfloweth. Since I've been craving chocolate for a few days, I knew we had to try it out today.

Usually when we bake, I hand Big One a measuring cup or spoon full of whatever ingredient is next. This time, I decided to let him do the scooping and measuring. He did a darn good job (with the help of his new Planet Hero)!

I like this baking project because he can have his own little cup. He has more ownership over the whole process.

Here were our little cakes in a cup just begging to be baked... the microwave. It was a little odd to me because I'm a baker. I bake a lot. In the oven. But they sell the dessert mixes that you just microwave, right? So why not?

After 3 minutes of spinning in waves of radiation (sounds healthy, huh? that's why I'm not big on using the microwave. Hubs will say I'm crazy. And he's probably right), this was the result.

Big One was hesitant to take a bite because he thought it was too hot. Eventually, he gave it a try and gave it the big thumbs up. I like the idea of him just digging the cake out of the cup with a spoon. It was less messy than a piece of cake on a plate, at least for a 3 year old!

I remember a friend of mine talking about something similar using a cake mix instead of making it from scratch like the recipe we used today. It would actually make a great (cheap) Christmas gift idea in a cute mug. I found one here that uses a cake mix. I think we'll try that one next time since we're usually a cake mix family anyway!

I'm Back!

I wish I had an exciting story to explain my blogging absence, but I don't. I was sick. And when Mama's sick, everything goes crazy. I've been out of commission this week and it hasn't been fun for any of us. The weekend was crazy because Hubs was out of town. Then late Sunday night I started feeling really tired and just yucky. I thought it was from running after the kids all weekend. I was wrong.

Hubs had to stay home Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately, he doesn't get a lot of PTO so he had to take both days unpaid. Yuck! There was no way I could have handled the kids (I could barely get out of bed) so we didn't really have a choice. I actually thought I was better Monday night. But then I was up all night getting sick. By 6am we knew Hubs would have to stay home Tuesday too. It was rough on everyone.

Hubs is not used to so much time with the kids. Patience was wearing thin very quickly. The kids aren't used to Mommy being tucked away in her bedroom all day so they were more difficult than usual. I think Little One had it the worst. I breastfed her as much as I could but since I could barely hold down water, my supplies were low. Now that I'm (sort of) back up and running, she has been a little more clingy than usual.

I still have a headache that just won't stop. But I'm functioning again and I feel worlds better than yesterday or Monday. So that's it. That's why I've been gone for so long. Aren't you jealous?

MomDot Christmas of Dreams Blog Party: Day 2

It's Day 2 of the MomDot Blog Party! I didn't get to nearly as many blogs yesterday as I had hoped. I hope to get to more today. Today's sponsors are LaPlates, Lets Go Strolling, and Natity's Design. The question of the day is:

Traditions, what are some of your favorite family traditions? What are some that you want to begin?

It's the little things that make Christmas special for me. Many of the traditions from my childhood manifest themselves into the traditions that we now create for our own kids. Baking and decorating Christmas cookies with Mom, setting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, writing a note to Santa to leave next to the cookies, leaving a carrot for Rudolph*, eggnog, opening 1 gift on Christmas Eve, heading to Grandma and Grandpa's on Christmas morning, a ridiculous amount of really yummy holiday foods.

The fact that I remember the little things and not the gifts I received guides how I approach Christmas for my own kids. We don't spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for them, but we do try to make the whole holiday season special for them. Baking Christmas cookies with Big One is one of the things I'm most excited about this year. Now that he's 3, everything is so much more fun. I'm also excited to see how Big One involves Little One in the excitement. He's so good with her and always tries to involve her in what we're doing. One of my favorite things is watching the two interact.

A tradition I plan to start this year is making homemade gifts for the grandparents. No tree is complete without homemade ornaments!

*Yes, we only left a carrot for Rudolph. The other reindeer were on their own. Karma, perhaps? All that laughing, calling him names, and not letting him join in any reindeer games came back to bite them. The whole Rudolph story is a bit reminiscent of high school drama, don't you think? Outcast is ridiculed, Outcast does something really great (saves Christmas), suddenly all of the popular kids (reindeer) want to be Outcast's best friend. *sigh* Drama really is everywhere!

Funny childhood memory: one year Mom and Dad decided it would be a good idea to throw Rudolph's carrot on the roof so it would be right there, waiting for him when they landed. They were all about making a production to make us believe in the magic of Christmas. They didn't consider the fact that someone would eventually have to climb on the roof to retrieve the carrot. During winter. In Iowa. With all the snow and ice. That carrot stayed on the roof for a while. The carrot waited next to Santa's cookies in following years.

Thanks for joining my little walk down Memory Lane. Can't wait to read about all of the other holiday traditions out there!

MomDot Christmas of Dreams Blog Party: Day 1

The ladies at MomDot are hosting a Christmas of Dreams Blog Party with different blogging topics each day. Of course there are prizes involved, but it's also a great chance to get to know some new bloggers.

Today's topic is sponsored by La Belle Toile and This and That by Randi. MomDot asked us to introduce our families and share holiday photos from past years. So here we go...

If you've read any of my previous posts, you've probably figured out that my little family consists of myself (obviously!), Hubs, Big One, and Little One. This is the latest (and one of the only) pictures of all four of us.

Big One just turned 3 last month. He is such a character and very smart. We can no longer get away with redirecting him when he wants something. (What? You want that $300 moving dinosaur? Here, have a sucker instead.) If we tell him we're going to do something, he'll remember it and not let us forget! He has always been a mama's boy but also really wants to be independent. Here he is on his first Christmas. The "My first Christmas" Santa hat was a little big!

And here he was with Santa at the mall. Santa was a bit crabby. Like he would rather have his eyes dug out with a spoon than let another child sit on his lap. Fortunately, Big One was too little to know the difference!

This was the following Christmas shortly after he turned one. Notice that we went with a small tree that could be put up high out of his reach!

And here he is last year with Daddy opening his presents.

Little One is almost 6 months old already. So far she has been different than her brother in many ways. It's not fair to compare them, but it's also impossible not to compare. She started off a lot fussier than her big brother but she's turning into quite the smiley little girl. She's also VERY attached to her mama, but we spend all day every day together so it's really no surprise. I can't wait to see how she reacts to her first Christmas this year! Since we don't have any holiday pictures of her yet, here is one of her big grin!

And here's another one of my little sweetie. Seriously, don't you just want to eat her up? I may be biased but I think she's pretty darn cute.

So that's us in a nutshell. If I really went into depth on each of us this would be even longer. Brevity is not my strength. I look forward to visiting the other participants and getting to know their families!

Wordless Wednesday: Navy Pier

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Release Thy Guilt, Woman!

Nothing strikes panic in my heart like the ding dong of the doorbell mid day. Do I have some strange phobia of doorbells? No, although I'm sure I have enough issues to keep any psychiatrist busy for weeks, months even.

The anxiety I feel is mainly due to the fact that I'm never appropriately dressed to answer the door. No, I'm not a nudist. Hubs would like that, though. I've used my wicked Paint skills to draw this representation on how I normally look.

It might not be the most accurate picture. I do have a torso. And a head, a neck, a couple arms, the usual. And my feet aren't quite that malformed. They're not pretty. But they are more foot-like in real life. I may have shaved off a few pounds. Oh, come on. You know you would too.

Unfortunately, the amount of hair growth on my legs on a typical day isn't too far off from the picture. And many days I wear shorts around the house. And unfortunately, my leg hair is dark. See where I'm going with this? I know my standards of acceptable personal hygiene and attire have dropped considerably in the last 6 months, but even I can't answer the door looking like that.

While the top half of my body is considerably less hairy, it's generally not ready for public show either. I live in nursing tank tops. Here's the problem with that. I still look, oh, 4 or 5 months pregnant. Except there's no baby in there so it's all squishy and flubbery. Not so hot hanging out the bottom of a nursing tank top. Couple that with the cloth nursing pads I use (which can be seen from a mile away under almost any shirt) and you've got one hot mama.

Just for the record, I attempted to recreate the top half using Paint but it ended up looking like really bad cartoon porn so I decided to leave that out. You're welcome.

So when someone comes to the door, panic strikes. I rush around the house, searching for a clean pair of pants and a sweatshirt so I can answer the door with some bit of dignity intact. It's in those moments that I seem to move in slow motion. I can't find a shirt and when I do I struggle to get it on. Same with my pants. It's like a bad dream. A dream that I actually have sometimes. I'm generally naked in my dreams, though. And many times in a public place. I either can't locate any clothes or can't get them on. Too much? I'll stop with the dreams.

Do I have a point amidst all of the hair and tummy fat? I think so. Oh, I remember. Yesterday, DURING NAP TIME, the doorbell rang. Panic! At least I have pants on as opposed to my usual shorts. I scrambled to find a sweatshirt to cover the top half. Success! I get to the door holding Little One, to find that our visitor was on his way down the stairs. He stopped and turned around.

And that's when I realized what he was. Yes, I said what and not who.

He was a magazine salesmen. You know? The ones who come around talking of all the glorious prizes they'll receive if you only buy a magazine subscription from them. It's not like it's even a school fundraiser or something worthwhile. It's for someone who is too lazy to get a real job and falls for the glitz and glamor of... door to door magazine sales? Sorry if you are or ever have been one of these folks. I just don't get it. I suppose I might go AWOL and join the program if I knew all of the juicy details.

Somehow, I declined his generous offer. Yet I felt guilty. I felt guilty when he's the one who goes door to door asking people to buy magazines. Thanks to his quest for these magical points, I now have 2 screaming children since he rang my doorbell during nap time. But I truly felt guilty for not buying a magazine from this guy.

Women, we need to let go of the guilt. Let go of the guilt for not spending enough time with the kids, not cleaning enough, not shaving your legs, forgetting your brother's birthday, cooking something your husband doesn't like, and yes, even for not buying a magazine subscription from a total stranger. Who rings your doorbell. During nap time.

I think I'm just going to stop answering the door. It always gets me into trouble. Just ask Hubs about the time he came out of the bathroom to find 2 Mormon gentlemen on our couch. He loves telling that story. If nothing else, I provide him plenty of great stories to tell.

OK, OK, I'll Write!

I can't guarantee it will be of any substance though. Hubs reminded me last night that it's been a while since I've blogged. This morning my friend, Jessi, also mentioned that my blog has been quiet lately. So here I am, trying to write something worth reading.

To be honest, nothing has struck me as blogable lately. Life has been fairly low key. Not a bad thing! I'm sure the 3 ring circus will return soon. Hubs is going out of town this weekend so I'm sure I'll have plenty of blogable moments for you next Monday.

One thing did strike me last night as a potential blog topic. Hubs and I were cleaning the kitchen last night and the flowers that he got me for our anniversary were ready to go to flower heaven. As I pulled them out of the vase, I realized I hadn't really enjoyed them. I hadn't stopped to look at them or smell them. [Insert "stop and smell the roses" references here.] Now they were withered and dried. I was sad to throw them away. I felt guilty for taking them for granted.

Of course, this made me thing of other things I take for granted or don't enjoy enough in my life. My kids and Hubs were at the top of that list. I'm constantly struggling to find that balance that we all seek. The balance between kids, relationships, and household chores. I feel like I'm just getting by in all areas but not really excelling at anything. If anyone has the secret to doing it all, I'm all ears! If I could figure out a way to live on no sleep, I might be able to get to half of the things on my to do list.

Bored yet? I warned you!

Wordless Wednesday: Sunset

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A Boat, A Vote

I said, "When Daddy gets home, we're going to vote."

Big One heard, "When Daddy gets home, we're going on a boat."

It took me a while to catch the breakdown in communication. At first, he started talking about how he would miss us. I told him he would be going with us. He wanted to make sure that Little One was also going. Once it was confirmed that we were all going, he was thrilled.

Then he started talking about boats. I didn't think much of it since random thoughts strike him all the time. He'll suddenly start talking about something we did last month as if we've been having a conversation for 10 minutes about the topic.

I finally realized he was expecting to take a boat ride upon Daddy's arrival from work. I felt guilty. I felt as if I had to hunt down someone with a boat so I could fulfill his expectations. After all, as he had already pointed out, he has never been on a boat. He seemed ok with the fact that we won't be taking a boat ride this evening. At least I think so. We'll find out in a few hours.

How do you explain voting for a president to a 3 year old? I did the best I could. He didn't really understand. But I think it's important to try. To say the words. To get him accustomed to these rights that belong to us as citizens.

The thing about this vote is Big One and Little One are the most important reasons I am voting. Don't get me wrong, I always vote. But this election seems more urgent than previous presidential elections. Perhaps it's because I'm now a mother and the future of our country doesn't just impact me. It impacts my kids too. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the economic issues, the war, and all of the other things that seem to be going wrong. Whatever the reason, this feels like a critical election.

And I don't yet know who will receive my vote.

I'm struggling with this one. There are things about both candidates that I really don't like. They also both have certain views I strongly back. Unfortunately, I can't pick and choose. Just like everything in life, you take the good with the bad. I feel a lot of pressure to make the "right" decision. And since I don't know what that is I still haven't decided.

If you haven't yet, vote. Or don't. But vote. You should. I didn't mean for this to turn into a "you should vote, it's your right and responsibility" post but it seems it has. The older I get, the more it surprises me when people choose not to vote. That's your right too. But I really hope you vote.

Anyone up for a boat ride?

Think About Happy Things... Like Goats

What? Goats? Happy? Apparently, according to Hubs, anyway.

Big One was still awake and I could hear whimpering coming from his room (typical part of our nighttime routine). I went to check on him, scare away the monsters, explain the shadows are just his toys. The usual. Hubs also joined us.

Big One: But I'm thinking about monsters and shadows.
Me: Well, think about happy things. Like carousels. And puppies.
Hubs: And goats.

[Crickets chirping]

Big One: What? [As in how in the world can you put puppies and goats in the same category. That makes no sense, Dad. What are you on?]

Big One looks at me, searching for some understanding.

Me: I'm with you, Big One.
Hubs: Like at the pumpkin patch. You know, like a petting zoo.

We're city folk so apparently seeing a goat at the petting zoo is memorable.

Maybe you had to be there.

Daylight Savings Time: A Mother's View

I would like to thank the mastermind behind Daylight Savings Time. I don't know your identity (probably a good thing for your own safety). Are you even still alive? Or is Daylight Savings Time one of those archaic ideas we continue to practice whether or not it is still practical? Either way, I do know you must not have young children. Surely, no one with children would concoct such an idea. One that would entirely throw off the schedule mothers work diligently to create. You see, mothers build their lives around nap time and bed time.

Long ago and far away, in a time before my own leap into motherhood, I coveted this time change. An extra hour? I'll take it. No complaints from Ms. Carefree with only herself to manage. Unfortunately, when children enter the equation, all hell breaks loose.

You see, oh wise creator of Daylight Savings Time, children don't understand the concept. They just don't get it. They don't relish an extra hour of sleep like adults. Clocks are meaningless when you're 3. A clock is just another toy to destroy while Mom has her back turned.

In my attempt to prepare my children for the time change, I kept them awake until the clock, with it's newly assigned time, dictated by your genius plan, reached their usual bed time. Now keep in mind, that was actually an hour later than they've grown accustomed to falling asleep. Have you ever kept a young child awake for an extra hour? It's not pretty for anyone involved. In fact, it can get downright ugly. Flailing on the floor screaming ugly. Clawing at their eyes ugly. Pulling out my hair ugly (which is turning gray by the way. And you're not helping). But I did it just to play along with your little scheme. Who am I to rebel?

Would you like to know what happened this morning, Mr. Daylight Savings Time Creator? (You must be male. You must. No woman would inflict this upon another woman.) My children, particularly Little One, woke up at their usual time. Their old usual time. Which was 7:30. Last week, anyway. But now, my clock reads 6:30 since you wanted to mix things up. The same clock that tricked me into staying up an extra hour last night, what with the time change and everything, is now telling me it is 6:30. And my children are awake. Children won't sleep until the new 7:30 because to them that's actually 8:30 which is way longer than they would like to sleep. You following me here?

Now I must slowly retrain these two young children to go to bed and wake up at the new times that we've set. I must also train myself to go to bed a little earlier just in case they still aren't getting with the program. The program of getting all crazy with the clocks. You're watching all of us, mocking us, aren't you? Reveling in your creation of chaos. Watching us drink our fourth cup of coffee. Counting down the hours until bed time. The new bed time. Not to be confused with the old bed time.

Is it nap time yet? New or old? I'll take either at this point.

Tootsie Rolls

How many sizes of Tootsie Rolls are really necessary? You have the teeny tiny ones. The normal size ones. Then, of course, there are the long, thin Tootsie Rolls. And don't forget the Tootsie Roll bars. Did I get them all? Is there a purpose in having so many different formats for the same candy? It's something to ponder while raiding the Halloween candy.


I think I lost it. Maybe amidst the wrenches, fertilizer and inflatable Christmas yard decorations at the home improvement store today. Perhaps in the bottle of ibuprofen I've consumed this week. Did the gallons of Mountain Dew extinguish my flames of inspiration?

Staring at my laptop screen isn't helping. A long trip around the blogosphere (can't we come up with a new word?) isn't igniting any deep, creative sparks. Even a sampling of Anais Nin, my go-to girl for inspiring words, is not moving me.

Still, I will leave you with one of my favorite Nin quotes.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Halloween Riddle... and other random thoughts

Q: What's better than an Oreo fresh from the package?

A: An Oreo smothered in rich, chocolate frosting.

Ok, so it's not really a riddle. It's my breakfast disguised as a Halloween craft. After all, nothing says "breakfast" like chocolate on chocolate.

I found this adorable Oreo spider project on Little Window Shoppe via MomDot. Still with me? I knew I wanted to try it with Big One because, well, it involves Oreos and M&Ms. The sacrifices a Mama makes! Despite good intentions, I've been slacking lately in the "crap" (craft) department.

Big One always loves a fun project, especially if it involves food. Here is his cute little Oreo spider. (We modified the original activity by using tootsie rolls instead of Twizzlers as the legs.) Keep in mind this is the creation of a 3 year old!

It has a few misplaced legs, but it was still very cute. And yummy. Except Big One wouldn't eat it because of all of the gooey frosting on top (Hello! That's the best part!). He doesn't like messy hands. He freaks out. He's all boy except when it comes to messy hands. You know the smash cake on the first birthday that most kids attack? He gingerly picked at the frosting for 15 minutes. He was less than thrilled when I stuck his little hand right into the cake. Yet he'll find any muddle puddle in a 50 foot radius and jump right in the middle without hesitation.

Upon returning to the living room after cleaning up the mess, I was horrified to find my son engrossed in an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. That will teach me to leave the TV running. You may leave it with an innocent enough show playing but who knows what will be on the screen when you return?

In other news/randomness...

We are still having bathroom issues at our house. Big One has gone from a once-a-day pooper to a once-every-2-or-3 days pooper. I've resorted to Pedialax. It works because Big One has no choice but to go. That doesn't stop him from kicking and screaming in an attempt to hold it in. And sometimes pooping in his undies. If anyone has any suggestions on how to break this vicious cycle, I'm open! It feels like we've tried everything. He's just plain scared to poop.

Tonight we trick or treat. Do you have Beggar's Night where you live? I don't get it. What's the point of having Halloween if you're going to trick or treat the night before? What are we supposed to do tomorrow? You know, on the actual day of Halloween? I'm sure we'll think of something (sit on the couch and zone out in front of a movie) stimulating to do as a family.

October is almost over. What? That's right. October is almost over. Leaves are falling. A chill is in the air. Hubs has a new fall toy. His latest purchase at the home improvement store? A leaf vacuum. I don't know the technical name for it. Apparently, it's a leaf blower/vacuum. He walked around the yard last night sucking up leaves. It strikes me as funny. What happened to a good old-fashioned rake? I love you, Hubs! And I suppose if I were the one responsible for the removal of leaves, a leaf vacuum would be on my wish list.

My friend, Tara, is on my mind a lot today. She's dealing with a tough family situation. Without going into too much detail, there's a precious little baby boy who was born yesterday who is paying for some mistakes his mama made while pregnant. Tara is NOT the mama of this beautiful baby just for the record! But she is feeling the effects of the situation. Tara, I love you and you have the kindest heart of anyone I know. I wish I could be there in person to give you a big hug. (Move to Iowa!)

We have an update! The poop has landed! That makes it 2 days in a row (thanks, Pedialax!). There was major screaming and fighting but the poop always wins!

On that note, I leave you all with wishes for a happy and safe Halloween/Beggar's Night!