Barbasol... Not Just for Grandpa's Beard

I have vague memories of my dad using Barbasol shaving cream. Does anyone still use that stuff? It reminds me of dads and grandpas. We, however, found a more exciting use for this can of Barbasol. (Perhaps I should have used it to shave my hairy legs, you know, since it's summer and all.)

This summer has been basically craft free. Out of guilt and boredom I decided to pick up a recent issue of Family Fun. I LOVE this magazine and the Family Fun website, by the way. I highly recommend it for activity suggestions. It's always full of fun activities that are easy to execute. Just my style! After a quick trip to Walmart, we were set for our shaving cream craft project.

Everything about this craft project screams fun. First, you get to cover a baking sheet with shaving cream. Big One exclaimed, "I never knew shaving cream could be so much fun!" How often do you get to squirt shaving cream haphazardly?

The next step involves placing drops of liquid food coloring on top of the shaving cream. Big One struggled with the urge to squeeze the entire bottle of food coloring on top of the cream. Ultimately, he conquered the urge and placed a few large drops on the cream.

Next, a craft stick is used to swirl the food coloring in fun patterns.

Place a piece of card stock on top of the shaving cream, pressing gently. Or, if you're 3, go ahead and shove that piece of paper down as hard as you can.

After lifting the paper out of the shaving cream, scrape the excess off with a craft stick or other flat edged implement.

The result? Some fun patterns on the paper which can be used for other crafts.

Of course, when the craft is done, it's fun to squish around in the shaving cream. Be prepared for colorful hands even after the shaving cream is washed away! Big One still has blue hands. With the exception of the skin tinting, this craft was very easy to clean up.

Little One didn't get to join in on the fun. I'm such a mean mommy! (Or I just wanted to avoid a trip to the ER for excessive shaving cream consumption by my 1 year old.) Either way, she entertained herself with a book and some toys.

Such a Wean-ee

Oh, Little One. Such a demanding sweet soul. She is persistent, I'll give her that.

After the decision to stay home with the kids once she was born, I also decided she would be breastfed until a year. At that time, she would simply wean herself and begin drinking whole milk like her big brother.

Or not.

She will soon be 14 months old and shows no signs of weaning. In fact, over the last few months she has added feedings to her schedule, despite the fact that I feed her three solid meals and snacks. A growing girl needs her milk. And her comfort. The original goal was to wean by 1 year. The new goal is to be done by 18 months. Little One may have other ideas.

I'm torn because it's not that big of a deal to continue nursing. I just don't want her tugging at my shirt when she's 5 expecting to nurse. (No offense to anyone who still nurses their 5 year old. It's just not for me.) I have a fear that the longer I nurse, the harder it will be to wean her. And, occasionally, it would be nice to not have to schedule my life around her bedtime, since the only way she will go to sleep is after a belly full of warm breast milk, straight from the source. Bottles are chew toys at our house.

I thought I got away with no nursing after nap time this afternoon. She woke up screaming (typical) but was quickly smiling at the sight of Elmo. We played for a while and I gave her a cup of milk. She humored me by taking a few sips. At least 15 minutes passed with no signs of nursing. But then the urge struck and she wouldn't be denied. She climbed into my lap and cuddled up into nursing position. I tried to just cuddle or sit her back up but she wasn't falling for it. I gave it.

The biggest issue is that the nursing is a big comfort thing for her. She often nurses longer than she actually needs to just for the comfort factor. I hate denying my baby the comfort that she wants and needs. She's such a mama's girl. This could be a long, difficult process! My new mantra? I am not a human pacifier. I am not a human pacifier!

Baby E's Magic Toilet

Big One's fear for the longest time has been pooping on the potty. We've struggled with it for over a year now. As he nears 4, we feared he would always need the security of his diaper to go number 2. We've tried bribing, coercing, punishing, begging, pleading, bribing some more. The kid just wasn't going to do it. Until yesterday.

We went to visit a high school friend of mine and her daughter, Baby E. Big One declared that he had to poop. I informed him he would either have to hold it or try going on the potty. He decided to hold it. For about a minute. He then decided to give the potty a try.

As soon as he sat down, he started going. No begging or pleading required. There was no clenching of his butt cheeks and whining that it was scary. He just sat down and went. I can't tell you how shocked and happy I was. Only a parent could be this excited about poop. Isn't it amazing how your priorities change? I declared Baby E's toilet the magic toilet.

On the way home, I asked if Big One would start pooping in our toilet now that he knows it's not scary. This is where my words came back to bite me.

"No, because Baby E's toilet is the only magic toilet. Ours isn't magic."

Shoot! Luckily, I was quick on my feet.

"Guess what? I took the magic from Baby E's toilet and brought it home for our toilet. Now you can use ours, too!"

Apparently, he bought it. He went again last night at home. He even mentioned something about not needing magic anymore. Small victory! This morning he used the toilet yet again to do his number 2. We're on a roll. I'm hesitant to say he's completely over his pooping issues. But at least it's a good start!

Change of Scenery

Before embarking on our latest adventure, I foolishly called it a vacation. A few days into the "vacation", my opinion changed. I decided to call it my "change of scenery" instead. My everyday life in a new location. Dirty diapers, temper tantrums, entertaining the kids, making sure no one fell down the stairs, feeding, clothing, and all of the other little things that make up the average mom's day. The thing about the mommy gig is you never get to turn it off.

Still, I can't complain. This is where our change of scenery took us...

Not a bad view to see each morning. Our cabin was located just outside of Gatlinburg, TN. We shared the cabin with my parents, sister, brother, sister in law, niece and nephew. It was a spacious cabin, with each family having their own bedroom.

Big One and Little One handled most of the car ride very well. But the last leg from Paducah, Kentucky to Gatlinburg was rough. And it was on Father's Day. Happy Father's Day, Hubs! I got you a relaxing day of driving with two screaming kids. I even threw in a mental breakdown just for you. Did you like it?

We were all happy to arrive at the cabin.

Except that the first night at the cabin was almost as rough as that day's car ride. The kids didn't sleep well. Little One kept waking up. Big One flopped around in the bed we shared. Hubs tried to sleep in the van until I begged him to come in so he wouldn't be eaten by a bear. None of us slept well.

Monday morning we all decided to take a hike in the mountains. Little One was whiny. Big One was whiny. I was on edge and exhausted. We finally made it to the beginning of the trail to find all of the parking spots were full.

But wait, someone was backing out. We were going to park in the spot and my brother was going to drive a quarter mile back down the hill to park his car. Hubs moved forward slightly to let the other car out of the spot. Out of no where, another car speeds up and slips right into the spot.

That was the straw.

I got out of the van with Little One and Hubs drove down the hill with my brother. I lost it. Tears. Cursing. Threats of packing up and heading home that day. I made sure to throw out a comment about rude people stealing parking spots as I stood right next to the car that had taken the spot. And yes, they were out of the car. Passive-aggressive tendencies at their finest. I needed to make my point. It took a little of the edge off.

My dad took Little One and I paced the parking lot crying.

We finally started up the trail. A nice woman who was pushing a stroller down the trail stopped us. There was a tree down over the trail about 100 yards from the end. A stroller could be lifted over it. Don't stop. It's worth it to go on.

I know she could see how psycho I was that day. My face said it all. "Psycho out of control mommy on the verge of a complete mental breakdown right here. Everyone stand back."

I wanted to throw myself in her arms and cry. She would understand. She's a mom. But I resisted for fear she would pull out some pepper spray or try to push me over the edge of the trail.

Instead we forged ahead. I stifled the tears, but the raw emotions still lurked near the surface.

Half way up the mountain, Big One got tired. Little One was sound asleep in the stroller. And it started pouring down rain. Drenching rain. I picked up my muddy, soaking, 43 pound son. I carried him up the mountain. I forced myself to keep taking steps. Put one foot in front of the other. Don't think about your burning arms. Keep going.

We made it to the tree across the trail. Stroller went over, despite warnings from every single party coming down the mountain (except the first mom) that we would not be able to make it through. Tell me I can't and I will. (OK, so technically it was Hubs and my brother that lifted the stroller over the giant tree.)

The kind mother at the bottom of the hill was correct. It was worth it.

Little One woke up half way down the trail so we stopped for a family picture.

We're all soaked, muddy and tired but not defeated. I was even able to muster a smile. More to come on our change of scenery...

One Year Ago...

Dear Little One,
One year ago, you graced us with your presence. I still remember so many of the details. How is it possible that it was one year ago?

I remember the contractions starting and not being concerned. Big One took FOREVER to join us. You weren't so patient. 5 hours from the first contraction to your birth.

I remember waiting for Grandpa & Grandma to get to our house to watch Big One. We watched one of those late night celebrity gossip shows as we waited. They kept talking about pregnant celebrities.

I remember running a red light on the way to the hospital. We stopped first. But it was 1am and no one was around. The light wasn't changing so we went.

I remember stopping on the steps of the hospital to breathe through a contraction. The security guard shooing us to the elevator. The secretary that took forever. The long wheelchair ride to my delivery room. I remember them wheeling me past several open rooms wondering why they wouldn't just stop at one.

I remember them telling me I was progressing quickly and may not have time for an epidural. I remember crying. Pleading. I got my way. It kicked in quickly. The anesthesiologist didn't think it would. He was wrong. I won.

I remember you having difficulty breathing. I held you for a minute. Off to the nursery. An hour of recovery for me before I could join you on the mother/baby floor.

I remember your Daddy going home after we were settled in the room. Then the doctor on call came to tell me that you were on your way to the NICU. That was not in the plans.

I remember crying. A lot. Feeling cheated that all the other moms had their babies in the room while I had to rely on others to wheel me up 2 floors to the NICU.

I remember the first time I saw you in the NICU. You were crying. I held out my fingers and told you mommy was here. You grabbed my fingers and stopped crying.

I remember the guilt I felt. Not being with you constantly. Being torn between you at the hospital and Big One at home. Wanting to pick you up and carry you out of the hospital. What did the doctors know? I wanted my baby.

Looking back, I realize how lucky we were. You only had to stay in the NICU 5 days. It was more precautionary than anything. We were blessed to bring home a healthy baby girl. I know not all families are so lucky.

With tears in my eyes, I want to be the first to wish you a Happy Birthday, my sweet little girl. I can't wait to snuggle with you when you wake (and wipe your runny nose, my little sickling!). I can't wait to help Big One decorate your birthday cake. I can't wait for that smile to flash across your face.

Happy Birthday, Little One! It has been one crazy year full of laughter, tears and memories. We love you more than words can express. You added a piece to the family that we never knew was missing!


100 Calorie Packs

Does anyone else see a major flaw in all of the 100 calorie packs that overrun the snack aisle? In theory, they are great. You can fulfill your snacking desires with only 100 calories. And there are so many possibilities. I can eat chocolate for only 100 calories? Count me in!

So you throw a few boxes in your cart, speed through the rest of the aisles, and rush home so you can dive into your new snacking friend. You put away the cold groceries so they don't melt and/or rot. You dig through the bags to find the 100 calorie packs.

And then you open the bag.

Is this some kind of sick joke? Did someone with willpower to spare think up the 100 calorie packs to torture the rest of us?

I bought the chocolate covered pretzels. I adore chocolate covered pretzels. And I adored the ones in the 100 calorie pack. All 10 of them. Tiny ones too. Not a full sized pretzel. If I had the willpower to eat 10 chocolate covered pretzels would I be buying 100 calorie packs? Would I be trying to lose 50 pounds?

I can eat one of my 100 calorie packs but I'm not satisfied. All I can think about is eating another one. I want more of those chocolaty, yummy pretzels. I could easily polish off the entire box in one sitting. Suddenly, I'm eating a 600 calorie pack, not a 100 calorie pack. (I haven't actually done this. But I did have 2 bags in one sitting.) I'm better off not buying them because once I start with the chocolate I don't want to stop. If I avoid it altogether, I'm much better off.

My theory is that the 100 calorie packs are a gimmick. If you ate such a small amount of most snacks you would probably only consume around 100 calories. These companies are using the health food/dieting/weight loss craze to their advantage to make money. But then again, I suppose every company who sells anything preys upon some weakness in its target audience.

From now on, I'm sticking to my Skinny Cow (or as Hubs calls them, Happy Cow... at least he didn't call me a happy cow!) ice cream treats. At least I can enjoy a full sized treat for 3 WW points!

Wordless Wednesday: Sleepy

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here, here or here.

What Is This Strange Fruit?

I'm on a healthy eating kick (more on that soon) and decided to try this quinoa recipe today. We headed to Super Target (my home away from home) to pick up limes. Big One easily spotted them and helped me place them in the bag.

Apparently, the cashier is not so good with his fruit identification. He picked up the bag of limes, turned them over a few times, and then said, "What are these?"


You've never seen a lime before?

Or you've seen it but you're struggling to come up with the word... for a lime?

I can only imagine the conversation he had with his wife when he got home.

"Honey, you'll never guess what I saw today. A lime. In real life. Right before my very eyes. It was sort of like those yellow fruits with the peel. What are they called again? Shoot. I always forget. Oh, lemons. That's right. Yeah, they're sort of like lemons except they're green. Can you believe it?"

I shouldn't make fun. I was just so amused by the fact that he asked me to identify a lime. I often get asked what my cilantro is when I buy it. I get that. Could be cilantro. Could be parsley. But a lime? That's a first! Fortunately, the grapefruit we picked out had a sticker on it or things really could have been confusing.

Just Right

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! My day was great. Nothing too exciting. Just the way I like it. Lots of happiness and love as well as time spent with my family. That's always been my Mother's Day wish! I don't need a fancy gift. Just time with my family. And maybe a personal secretary since I forgot half the things I was supposed to bring to my parents' house. Including my Mom's gift that the kids and I made. And the camera. At least I remembered both children. Let's hope it never gets to the point of leaving children behind. I promised myself I'd be in bed 9 minutes ago so I will close with one last HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! It's a ridiculously difficult yet supremely rewarding job and I couldn't imagine my life any other way!

Stay Little

This is one of my favorite photos of Big One as a baby. One day after he was born. Snuggling on Mommy. I love this picture.

How is it possible that this is the same child who is now 3 1/2? Energetic. Telling stories. Laughing. Throwing temper tantrums. Hugging his Mommy.

Tonight I spent a little extra time with my big guy at bed time. We sang and cuddled. He ended up snuggling up with me similar to the photo above. As soon as he snuggled up to me, my mind instantly went to the photo.

I don't usually get sad about the kids getting older. I cherish the memories we have but I also love seeing their new tricks and all of the things they learn each day. But moments like tonight remind me just how fast they grow. I want to keep them little forever. I don't want them to outgrow their chubby little fingers. I don't want them to avoid my hugs in public because it's embarrassing. I don't want them to feel like they don't need Mommy to fix their boo boos. And I don't want to forget all of the little moments of their childhood. The emotions I feel. The laughs we share. Even the tears that are shed. I don't want to lose it.

WW: Easter Fun

***I just wanted to be clear that not ALL of this stuff was for my kids! My niece and nephew were here over Easter weekend so this was the stuff for all 4 kids. I just realized that it probably looks like we totally spoiled them but really it's not as bad as it looks!

Terror at the Mall

Tonight I encountered the most terrifying scene I've ever witnessed at the mall. It was ugly. Brutal even. At the center of the storm? Big One, of course.

Don't worry, no children were injured in the making of this blog post.

Tonight was supposed to be our family swim class. Unfortunately, the instructor that doesn't really instruct was sick. No sub. So no swim class. (They waited to call until after I shaved my legs, by the way. But that's a different rant post.) Big One was bummed so we decided to take him to the mall to play and possibly ride the Easter train. The only requirement? He had to eat dinner at the mall with us.

Can you guess how that went? Read the title of the post. You may be able to hypothesize about the events that unfolded next.

Big One refused to eat. We warned him no less than 20 times that he would not be playing at the play area or riding the train if he did not eat. Yet still he refused. Just when I think he's getting to the age that he can understand cause and effect he reminds me that he is only 3 1/2. The temper tantrum started at the table. The drama. The kicking. The screaming. I had to excuse myself before I totally lost it.

Little One and I abandoned Hubs with Big One and his fit. Sorry, Hubs. But the scene would have been a lot worse had I stuck around. We hung out on a bench and waited for them. Big One walked along willingly for maybe 50 feet. Then all hell broke loose.

The child was literally kicking and screaming in the middle of the mall. We tried the "walk away and he'll follow" technique but I just can't let myself get too far away from him. I've read too many stories about pedophiles stalking the malls.

I tried the tough love approach. He continued his kicking and screaming. I picked up my 45 pound flailing preschooler and started through the mall. Of all the nights for him to wear his McQueen crocs. One flew several feet, fortunately avoiding any fellow shoppers.

Hubs and I basically took turns swapping the kids. Tonight also happened to be a night I forgot the stroller so both kids had to be carried. I'm sure the reactions ranged from "Glad it's not me!" to "I've been there before" to "What horrible parents!" I was too pissed to even look at anyone too closely.

Until we reached Old Navy. An employee standing in the window glared at me. Excuse me? Obviously, you either have no children or are delusional enough to think they would never act this way. It really drives me nuts when people judge others. If there's one thing I've learned from being a parent it's never judge!

I'm just so frustrated because in many ways he is self sufficient and acting like a big boy. And then he brings me back to reality with something like this. I know he's a preschooler and this is normal. But man it sucks when you're the one dealing with it.

And I promise I'm never going to laugh when I see another parent dealing with a monster tantrum in the store. That did not help, fellow mall shopper. But thanks for trying!

Despite the fact that we both wanted to break something by the time we got home, I am proud of us for sticking to our guns. I would rather be that family with the child throwing a tantrum than the one who gives in and lets their child get away with things (don't get me wrong, we've been that family too).

I guess the bottom line is, we're all "that family" at some point. Some of us more than others.

There was a humorous point in the evening after we got home. Little One started some drama after her bath and I lost it. I started crying. Hubs and Big One were also in the room. This is what happened...

Me: sobbing
Big One: Mommy? Are you crying?
Me: Yes.
Big One: Why?
Me: Because I want just one day when EVERYONE is happy. All day long. Just one day. ONE DAY!
Big One: (whispering) Daddy, I think we should leave now.
Hubs: Why?
Big One: Because I think Mommy's getting angry.

I almost started laughing. But I still needed to cry. Just a little. By myself. Hubs knew just when to send Big One in to hug me. And then we were back to good.

Every Time!

We are fortunate to have a great science center in town. The family pass we purchased was well worth the money. Big One can stretch his legs and really dig into the interactive displays throughout the building.

He does, however, have difficulty remembering that he is supposed to walk from room to room as opposed to breaking into an all out sprint. Hello! Overweight mommy over the age of 30 here. Slow down, Son!

One of the displays is a weather stage sponsored by one of the local news stations. It has the green screen with a camera and TV. The kids can stand on the stage and see themselves on the TV with the map and everything. Pretty cool, huh? Yeah... except for the fact that they actually broadcast the weather from the stage for the noon news. Whose idea was that?

"Hey, let's slap a weather stage in the middle of a giant room in the middle of a science center full of preschool aged children. We could even broadcast the weather from the location. But let's not put a door on the room or anything. Let's just leave it out in the open. Where any child who happens to break out into a sprint and slips away from his 30 year old overweight mom can jump up on stage."

Big One has never made an accidental appearance on the weather segment of the local news but he has come close. More than once. The first time they were actually doing the weather at the moment he ran into the room. Fortunately, he kept sprinting right past the stage and checked out the snapping turtle instead. At that point, I caught up with him and steered him clear of the stage.

The second time, the meteorologist was standing there waiting to go on air. Lucky for everyone involved, the cameras weren't rolling because Big One headed straight for the stage. After some coaxing, I was able to get him to go visit his beloved snapping turtle. Another crisis averted.

Today it's very possible that some audio of me screaming at Big One was picked up. But I can't really be held responsible. After all, it was 12:40. The news should have been over. It's like they know we're in the building and intentionally go on air when we're in that room. Big One did not make it into the shot thank goodness. But I did yell after him as I chased him past the stage. And I caught up with him just outside the room and informed him that we were done for the day. Let's hope the microphones they use aren't very sensitive because he wailed with despair after learning his fun was over for the day.

Oh, I forgot one more thing. This one qualifies me as Mom of the Year. As I'm chasing Big One out of the weather stage room and pushing Little One in the stroller, I happened to look down at her. Just in time to see her head slip under the tray on the stroller. That's right, folks. My daughter slid right out of the stroller as I was chasing my son through the Science Center. Fortunately, I stopped before I ran over my own daughter with the stroller she had just been sitting in. Seems I forgot to strap her back in after I took her out in the toddler room. Oops.

Screw You, Friendly Toys R Us Employee

Big One had a birthday party to attend tonight. Being the organized mom that I am (ha!), I spaced off the party until this morning. Hey, at least I remembered today and not tomorrow morning! That meant we had to make a quick trip to Toys R Us for a gift.

Today is also my dad's birthday (happy birthday, Dad!) so he was on his way to our house. I told him we would be home by noon. I knew we would probably not be home by noon. But I thought if I told him that I may actually make it. Again I say ha!

Big One was warned that it would be a quick trip. But he's 3. And 3 doesn't understand "quick" especially when we're talking about a trip to the toy store. I quickly lost patience and started snapping at him, trying to hurry him along.

Out of nowhere, like a stealth ninja, we were attacked with sugary kindness of a friendly Toys R Us employee.

"What are you looking for, little buddy?"

As if to break up our little mommy-son feud, he poured on the sugar. What the heck? When I want a helpful employee, there's none to be found. But on a crabby day when I just want to be left alone, Mr. Employee of the Month with his bright smile and perky personality is lurking. I don't even think he was actually working. I think he planted himself, pretending to stock a shelf, waiting to pounce on some poor mom who was having a rough day. Or has a 3 year old.

He led us to the Cars toy section. And then he hung around, pointing out all of the different Cars toys to Big One. As if we don't know about every. single. Cars. toy. ever. Ever. There was a strange tension between myself and Mr. Happy Go Lucky Toys R Us Employee. I felt him judging me. (Or was it me judging me?) I willed him to leave the aisle so I could sulk in my "bad mommyness". He finally left us alone.

I suppose there is a slight chance that he was just a genuinely nice person who truly wanted to help. He may have even been judging my crankiness. Perhaps the tension was all in my head.

The thing about my impatient snapping is I know I'm doing it. And I don't want to do it. But I do it anyway. And then some happy, perky, childless person comes along trying to help out. And then I feel even worse about my snapping.

So, friendly Toys R Us guy, thank you for leading us to the Cars toys (even though we already knew where they were). Thank you for rubbing in the fact that I was impatient and snappy (even though you didn't actually say the words or even shoot me a look.... your over the top kindness was criticism enough). Thank you for ruining a perfectly mediocre trip to the toy store with my 2 young children. I'll remember this trip when I actually need some assistance and the only thing I will find are grinchy trolls donning Toys R Us uniforms.

Dear Hubs,

Dear Hubs,

Happy birthday! I fully intended to write a witty, sweet letter to you in honor of your 31st birthday. But as it's after 4 already, the house is a mess, I haven't showered, your cake isn't decorated, Little One is stirring from her nap and the kids shared their cold with me, you'll have to take what you can get!

Thank you for dealing with all of my quirky little habits. My whining. My temper tantrums. My recipe experimentation. My craziness when I have a few too many drinks. And lots of other stuff that I can't think of right now (or am choosing to leave off of my blog so as not to look bad... hey, it's my blog, my rules).

Despite what I say about you (kidding!), you are a very sweet husband. I love that you go out at 10pm to buy me my favorite $5 wine. I love that you do sweet little things when I don't expect it. I love your sense of humor. I love that in the end, you're always there for me.

The kids wanted me to tell you that you're a wicked cool dad. Big One made up a song for you this morning while banging on my stand mixer as music. I don't remember much of it but the last line was, "And I love him very, very much." How sweet is that? He may be the master of temper tantrums but he's a sweet kid. And the way Little One looks at her Daddy? Anyone can see she's Daddy's Little Girl.

So, old man. Bottom line? We love you! We don't know what we'd do without you! And we hope your birthday is the very best ever. Even though you already know all of your presents (thanks Big One!).

Shelley & The Gang (aka Big One & Little One)

My Apologies

I'm always amused by the searches that lead people to my blog. But I feel that I owe some of you an apology. Most of you, actually. For it seems that somehow Google has led you astray by bringing you to my blog. I highly doubt that most of you found your answers. But I hope you at least found a little enjoyment! Just for the record...

To the reader looking for a Flirty Girl Pole review: I hope my assessment of the Flirty Girl Pole was in no way offensive to you. I have no actual experience with the pole, and I hope my comments didn't deter you from pursing your own Flirty Girl Pole experience. I can guarantee no one would want to see me attempt to dance myself thin, particularly with a pole involved. Perhaps I should contact the makers of the Flirty Girl Pole to see if they would like me to do a blog review/giveaway for their product. It could be big (and no, I'm not talking about my back end).

To those of you looking for directions to make your own diaper bag: Obviously, I have been of no assistance to you considering my sewing machine was used exactly 1 time before it was tucked away in the basement, never again to see the light of day.

To the visitor hoping to find a red zebra diaper bag: I am 100% certain you did not get what you bargained for when you stumbled upon my post about red zebras. All I can say is I'm sorry. Blame Google.

To the visitors looking for one of many different character diaper bags: Again, not so much what you were looking for, I suppose. I sort of feel as if I should change the name of my blog. All of these poor moms come here looking for the latest in diaper bag gear and they find... me.

To the reader who has poop too big to flush: Unfortunately, I am of no assistance here. My son prefers not to poop in the toilet. Our toilet must have enough power behind its flush because Hubs, who always seems to clog the toilet at my parents' house, doesn't have any problems here.

To the person looking for magic touch bags: I'm not sure what that is. Should I? Is it family friendly?

To the visitor searching for "mall play areas ok": If you are seeking mall play areas in Oklahoma, I can't help. If you are wondering if mall play areas are ok? That's a matter of opinion. All I can say is last week when we took the kids to the mall play area, a little girl came up to Little One and put her little hands all over my baby. As she was touching Little One's head, the other mom realized the little girl's finger was BLEEDING. I generally try to suppress my germ-o-phobe tendencies in public but that was a bit much for me to handle.
So if you don't mind blood, germs, head lice and bullies, then sure, the mall play area is ok.

To the visitors searching for diaper bag diary: Is this to say you've actually heard of me before and are looking for me? Or perhaps there is another blog with the same name and you ended up here by mistake. Either way, welcome!

To the visitor wondering if Jerry Trainer wears diapers: I have so many questions about this one. If you became a reader of my blog, please speak out! Who the heck is Jerry Trainer? And why do you want to know if he wears diapers? I must be out of the loop on this one. This was an older search but it still has me perplexed.

To the non-swimmer wanting to snorkel: Yes you can! You may not want to read about my experience ahead of time but it is possible!

The Solution to All My Problems...

Many an infomerical has caught my eye recently. The Slap Chop. The Point 'N Paint. The Pancake Puff Pan. All very handy tools which would surely get hours of use and be worth their low, low price (plus shipping & handling, of course). But tonight, the solution to all of my problems spoke to me through my television.

The Flirty Girl Pole.

It, along with the Flirty Girl Fitness Program, will melt away those last few (20) pounds of baby weight. What? Of course I don't still have baby weight at 9 months post partum. Or maybe I do. (Does it count as baby weight if the reason it's still hanging around is heavy consumption of chocolate, Mountain Dew, cheese, and bread?)

Whatever the source of my cellulite riddled thighs, the Flirty Girl Fitness Program is going to give me a "sexy, slender, fabulous" body. The best part? I'll also learn some sexy new moves for the strip dance club. Because I frequent many a strip dance club these days. Right after I nurse my 9 month old and tuck my 3 year old into bed.

On top of the sexy dance moves and hot bod, I can also get the Flirty Girl Pole. Haven't you always wanted your very own stripper fitness pole? I'm fairly certain it's every girl's secret fantasy (or maybe it's every HUSBAND'S fantasy). Now that we FINALLY took down the Christmas tree, we have an open spot in the corner of the living room. I think it's the perfect spot. Having a stripper fitness pole in my living room will definitely elevate me to the coolest mom on the block. I'm ordering mine now.

DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way meant to offend strippers, dancers, or frequent visitors to either type of club. I suppose deep down I'm a bit jealous because my weak attempts at dancing look more like I'm having a seizure.

Oh, and I really do want the Slap Chop and the Pancake Puff Pan. Seriously.

Wordless Wednesday: Crawl Baby Crawl (or Get Mad Trying)

Visit 5 Minutes for Mom for more Wordless Wednesday. Enjoy!

If You Like It...

I've been known to break into song at random times (but only in the safety of my own home... I know my limits). I'm a HORRIBLE singer but I can't help myself. Big One is my biggest fan. He often breaks into song with me or by himself. I love it! He is so much like me it's not even funny. Actually, some days it is funny. Like tonight.

I tend to get one song stuck in my head and sing it. Over and over. And generally it's just one line that I sing. Over and over. Hubs LOVES that. Just ask him. Loves it. Today it was Beyonce's If You Like It Then You Shoulda Put a Ring On It. (Is that the title? I'm not so good with song titles. I just label a song by its most prominent lyric.) I heard it on the radio on our trip to Borders and sang it most of the day.

Tonight while putting Little One to sleep, I heard Big One and Hubs next door getting his PJs on. Out of no where, I hear him sing "If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it". Over and over. I'm so proud! There's nothing like hearing your 3 year old singing Beyonce to make your day!

Dusting It Off

I don't have a grand explanation for my blogging absence other than a lack of inspiration and things going on in my head. I tend to over analyze and worry about things beyond my control. Long story short, I'm forcing myself to blog again if for no other reason than the free therapy. So I'm going to get back on track with the lessons learned/top posts of the (last few) week(s). First, the lessons I learned this week:
  • Never leave a plant within reaching distance of an 8 month old, particularly one that grows in water. (The only plant we've ever been able to keep alive is a plant that grows in a vase of water. Its roots just hang out in the water. Trust me, we've tried to kill it multiple times. It's been completely dry with droopy leaves and bounces back with a little water. It's a miracle plant. Perfect for me!)
  • If you insist on leaving the baby within reaching distance of the water dwelling plant, expect to hear a loud crash followed by rushing water. Run for towels. Then laugh when you see the baby grinning proudly, clutching the leaves of the plant.
  • Never underestimate the reaching distance of an 8 month old.
  • Sometimes a family trip to Target and Petsmart is just what you need. And occasionally, even a 3 year old can last the entire trip without any temper tantrums or meltdowns. Go Big One!
  • Don't wait several weeks between posts or you'll get rusty!
Since it's been a while, I have several recommended blogs to visit!

If you're in the market for a hot British man, Christy has all the info. But this is a limited time offer so act fast!

If you need some activity ideas for your tots, visit Chasing Cheerios. I just discovered this blog this week and I LOVE what I'm seeing so far. I found several ideas that I'm excited to try with Big One.

If you want to cry, visit Jessica Kate, Tuesday's mommy. You may recall my post about Tuesday passing away a few weeks ago. I can't begin to imagine what the family is going through right now.

If you're in the mood for a happy ending (or beginning, depending on how you look at it), baby Brayden will hopefully get to leave the NICU tomorrow and finally start his life at home with his mommy and daddy! It's amazing how quickly you become emotionally invested in the lives of total strangers. I've been following Brayden's journey since his birth and I'm so thrilled for the family!

If you really believe it's a small world after all, read Kelly's story about the doctor who delivered her baby, Harper. Very cool!

If you're in the mood to bake, Little Birdie Secrets has the recipe for Amish Friendship Bread. The main reason I posted this link is because I actually received a starter for Amish Friendship Bread on Friday. I've never made it before so I'm very excited. Thanks, Joan!

If you want to be amazed, find out how Matt is spreading the word about the Liz Logelin Foundation. He made a big time TV appearance last week. I watched. I cried. Me crying? Shocking!

If you want to laugh so hard you pee your pants, visit the Barefoot Foodie to read about her mother in law's "accident". It is seriously hilarious.

If you need new art, check out Anastasia's work. She's opening up an Etsy shop!

If you're in the mood for chocolate chip cookies, try this recipe. I'm horrible at baking cookies. Cakes I can handle. Cookies? Not so much. Unless the dough is premade in convenient break apart cubes. And even then I usually burn them or underbake them. Despite my best attempts to ruin this recipe (no vanilla in the house which never happens and I baked them too long), they still tasted good. I can only imagine how they would taste if I actually had all of the ingredients and took them out before they became hard as a rock.

Whew! That list turned out longer than even I expected. I could have added several more but I'll stop there. Enjoy your week!

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

I love you. I miss you. I just haven't felt the bloggy inspiration lately. It's nothing personal. The mid week migraine did not help. Little signs of an impending head cold are creeping in so our break may be extended. Really, it's not you. It's me. I mean, I know people always say that and usually they're fibbing. But you're just a blog. How can it be you? It's definitely me. And this is definitely NOT a break up. Just a break. I just don't want you to think I've completely abandoned you. I know you'll be here waiting when inspiration does spark. Tomorrow. Next week. Next month. You're loyal like that. That's why I love you so much, Blog.

Warm Regards,

Hug Your Babies

I just found this blog about the Whitt family yesterday. The same day that their precious baby, Tuesday, died from cancer. Please hug your babies and remember how precious they are. How fleeting childhood is. How quickly life can change. Forget about the messes they make. The days they don't nap. The temper tantrums they throw. Just love them and hug them and cherish them while you have them and they you.


I've mentioned Matt's blog before but today's post was inspired by his recent post so I thought I would mention him again. Matt's beautiful daughter Madeline was born last March. His beautiful wife Liz died suddenly 27 hours later. Before she ever held her baby girl. It breaks my heart. And even though I've never met them, I think about them a lot. About how it should be. Whenever I visit the blog, I find myself crying, sometimes sobbing. But Matt has a way of working in a little humor into nearly every post. So last night as I sat sobbing, thinking about how Liz should be there with them right now, a few brief sentences about Matt's snorkeling experience made me laugh out loud. He is a talented writer and is an inspiration.

Matt's description of snorkeling reminded me of my own Mexican snorkeling adventure. Puerto Vallarta. March 2005. 3 months pregnant with Big One. Lots of free alcohol and drunk friends. Virgin daiquiris for me.

Most of our time was spent enjoying the resort, but we decided to go snorkeling one day. Have I mentioned I can't swim? How I arrived at the decision to board a boat, bound for the OCEAN, and jump off the boat into the ocean, I'll never understand. But I did and lived to tell about it.

The weather in Puerto Vallarta was beautiful. And then we boarded the boat. We all nearly froze on the way to the snorkeling spot. We finally arrived and our fearless leaders gave us some important snorkeling information. This is what stuck out the most:

There was an unusually high number of jelly fish in the area that day. But no worries. They had a topical cream available should we be stung.

What?!?!? I'm going to jump off of perfectly safe boat in water cold enough to make polar bears happy when I don't know how to swim AND I may get stung by a jellyfish? At this point I knew I was insane. But I didn't spend $150 to sit on the boat and watch others snorkel.

Obviously, swimming skills are not required for snorkeling. But severe humiliation may result if you don't know how to swim. On our trip, we were divided into 2 groups: swimmers and non swimmers. I, of course, joined the latter. Along with a bunch of kids under the age of 10. While the swimmers sported the little inflatable snorkeling life vests, the non swimmers securely strapped giant orange life vests around our waist. You know the ones. Wearing it around your neck while snorkeling will apparently prevent you from sticking your face in the water. So waists it was.

One other member of our group (who was above the age of 10) was supposed to join me in the non swimmer group. She chickened out and stayed on the boat. She may have been the wisest of us all.

All of the swimmers jumped off the boat first (I suppose they didn't want the slow non swimmers holding them back as we embarked upon the snorkeling expedition). It was finally my turn. I jumped into the frigid water and had to catch my breath from the cold. I clung to my orange life vest for dear life. Yes, it was strapped to my waist. But I wasn't taking any chances. Not only was the water full of jelly fish, it was choppy as heck. I bobbed along in the ocean, clutching my orange life vest, trying to avoid crashing into the 10 year olds next to me.

I did put my face in the water once or twice. Once I stopped hyperventilating, it was actually kind of cool. We didn't see a lot of colorful fish or anything but it was still a fun experience. I wish we had pictures. I know we took a bus to this Mexican Walmart to buy an underwater disposable camera...

... but I don't remember if we ever had the film developed.

So would I snorkel again? Most likely yes. It was a fun experience. You know, outside of the orange life vest, frigid waters, and jelly fish dodging. But, for the most part, I like to keep my feet securely in the sand...

And enjoying a beautiful sunset.

How Do You Like Your Potatoes?

We are big fans of the potato here at our house. Mashed and grilled are at the top of the list when it comes to potato preparation. But I think there may be a new #1, at least on my list.

I checked out the Pioneer Woman Cooks the other day and found this recipe for Crash Hot Potatoes. They are SO yummy. They take a bit of time to make but it's not difficult by any means. You basically boil red potatoes, smash them slightly, brush with olive oil, season, and bake. They're cute little bundles of crispy potato-y goodness. If your family likes potatoes, I definitely recommend trying it! I'm looking forward to making them again. Hope you are too, Hubs!

Lessons Learned & Top Posts

Another week full of life lessons has come and gone. Here are some of the things I learned this week.
  • When you use the last of the shampoo and condition, replace it right away. By the time you take another shower in 2 or 3 days (of course I shower daily....sometimes), you'll forget until you're already in the shower and soaking wet. You'll then be forced to use your husband's Suave for Men shampoo. You'll smell like a dude the rest of the day. A clean dude, but a dude nonetheless.
  • Write down your favorite recipes. If you don't, you'll never find them again. You'll forget which website you found the recipe on or your computer will mysteriously delete all of your bookmarks (this has happened to me, although not this week). Then you'll be stuck choosing some random recipe that won't turn out as well. And you'll be disappointed.
  • When your husband says, "The baby has been falling asleep easily at bedtime lately" right before he leaves for an evening out with friends, give him a swift kick where the sun doesn't shine. He'll deserve it. Because as soon as he walks out the door for a night of fun and freedom with friends, the baby will suddenly decide that it's the perfect night to NOT go to bed easily. She'll scream. She'll cry. She'll flip herself over and get her arm stuck in the side of the crib. You'll have to go in her room multiple times pulling every trick in the book to get her to fall asleep. And you'll have to leave your 3 year old unattended in the living room. Which brings us to our next lesson of the week...
  • Never leave your 3 year old unattended in the living room. This one doesn't really need any explanation. Because anyone in their right mind who has spent any time with a 3 year old knows it's never a good idea to leave them alone in a room full of electronics and fun couches on which to jump.
  • When your 3 year old yells, "Don't worry, Mommy. I'm just practicing my pillow fights" it really means "Hey, Mommy. I'm having a blast beating everything in the living room with this pillow while I jump up and down on the couch, which I know I'm not supposed to do, but you're stuck with the baby so what are you going to do about it?"
  • Nothing is more infuriating than a 3 year old laughing at you while you're yelling at him for being naughty (see previous lesson), particularly when you've already had a pull-your-hair-out-of-your-head day with the kids.
  • Bedtime stinks!
And now on to the top posts of the week, as decided by me!

What Every Single Conversation is Like Around Here: I can definitely relate to this. Kids have a way of stalling, particularly when you really have to be somewhere on time. I blame the kid for us always being late.

Christy got an adorable hair cut. I think we can all relate to that brand new look feeling. And I'm so glad that Christy is back to blogging after a short break. I missed your posts, Christy!

MckMama has a great post on toddler tantrums, complete with video. It is absolutely hilarious!

Jessi and her family are enjoying the sunny weather in Texas. And I'm jealous. So I have to revisit her post about the weather to make myself feel better about the snow that just won't stop here in Iowa!

There were lots of other great posts this week but Little One has figured out how to roll/scoot herself across the floor and is pulling on a cord she shouldn't be messing with (don't worry it's not plugged in). Big One is doing a semi-tackle/wrestling move to stop her so I think it is time to intervene. Especially because Big One, "told her 10 times not to do that. It's not a toy." Gee... do you think he's heard that a few times from me?

Happy Sunday!

Mall Play Area Politics

The mall play area. Breeding ground of germs, head lice, and bullies in the making. What's not to love? With few choices in the winter, Hubs and Big One headed to the mall play area Thursday night. Big One was able to burn off energy. I was able to put Little One to bed without a screaming 3 year old in the next room. And Big One was able to avoid all of the little germs and bugs that infest the average mall play area.

The bullies? Not so lucky. How does a young child learn to be a bully? Apparently another little boy claimed the tree slide as his own. Big One unknowingly encroached upon his territory. The little boy shoved Big One off of the stairs. OK, so it's only 3 or 4 stairs high. And the floor is soft. But still!

I try not to be the hovering mom. And generally I'm more worried about Big One accidentally bumping into someone else or not paying attention to what he's doing. And there was the one time when he called some other kids Stinkers. He got in trouble for that too. But I try to stand back and let him handle things himself. But as boisterous as he is, his feelings are easily hurt and I can't help but be there to pick up the pieces. I was not there but Hubs just steered Big One to a different part of the play area.

So how do you handle situations where other kids are aggressive toward yours? Hubs said the child's parent didn't say anything. So either he was there unattended, the parent wasn't paying attention, or the parent just didn't care. Do you say something to the child? Look for the parent? Let it go? I have a feeling had I been there I would have told the little boy he needed to move so my son could go down the slide. I wouldn't have lectured him but I would have said something about letting other kids on the slide. I'm not so good at biting my tongue when it comes to my kids. I'll go all Mama Bear if the situation warrants. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has had a similar experience and how you handled it. I know kids aren't perfect (I have the bloodshot eyes and gray hair to prove it). But I make sure Big One knows he won't get away with treating others poorly. Thoughts?

Chunky Tomato Pasta Bake

I rarely try new recipes because I am married to quite possibly the pickiest man ever, at least when it comes to his food. (I haven't shaved my legs in a month so apparently he's not picky in ALL departments. Sorry for the horrible image that is probably now in your head.) With the exception of small children, I have yet to meet a pickier eater than Hubs.

I, on the other hand, love trying new recipes. Last week I used a can of Del Monte tomatoes for something and noticed an interesting (read: easy but still tasty) sounding recipe on the can. I went to the Del Monte website and found lots of really easy recipes. So I decided that Big One and I would start trying new things at lunch.

Now this is a stretch for me. I don't mind cooking but the thought of doing tons of cooking at lunch time isn't appealing. If it can't be served cold, microwaved, or heated in the oven, it usually doesn't make it to the lunch plate. But I finally went back to writing out menus this week and yesterday in the lunch square, I found "Chunky Tomato Pasta Bake". Chunky Tomato Pasta Bake violates many of the rules Hubs has established when it comes to acceptable meals. Here is a short list of its offenses:
  1. It's a casserole.
  2. It involves more than 1 ingredient being combined.
  3. It has ground meat in it.
  4. It has tomatoes in it.
  5. It has cream of mushroom soup in it.
  6. It has melted cheese on top. (He doesn't like melted cheese. Except pizza is one of his favorite foods. What? Yeah, I know. But if you ask him he'll claim he doesn't like melted cheese. I think someone needs to tell him all that white stuff covering his pepperoni is MELTED CHEESE.)

So I decided to try the recipe yesterday at lunch (see below). There are only 4 main ingredients (plus cheese on top).

It goes in the oven....

And comes out delicious!
I made a few modifications to the original recipe. I used ground turkey in place of ground beef and I only used 1/3- 1/2 lb (not sure exactly but it wasn't more than 1/2lb). It would be fine without meat at all if you prefer. I also only used about 2/3 of the can of tomatoes because it seemed like it was getting really tomato-y.


6 oz. uncooked penne or other tube pasta
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) DEL MONTE® Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano
1 can (10-3/4 fl. oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. Brown meat in skillet; drain. Combine meat with pasta, tomatoes and mushroom soup; place in 11x7-inch baking dish.
  3. Cover and bake at 350°F, 25 minutes. Uncover; top with cheese. Bake 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

The World According to Big One

Three year olds have a lot to say about the world. And Big One has been busy this week sharing his knowledge with us. In case you were wondering...

  • Blue and red make "papamarine" (aka aquamarine), not purple as previously thought by... every living human being. So how is purple made? Well, with yellow and green, of course. He will be disproving commonly believed theories for the rest of his life, I'm sure.
  • He loves going to our old zoo so he can climb through the tunnel and see "prairie dolls". A distant cousin of the more widely known prairie dog, perhaps?
  • "Park the Herald Angels Sing" is still one of his favorite songs.
  • The toilet is quite possibly one of the coolest toys ever. Still. At age 3. It just never gets old.
  • The one wearing the Superman pajamas gets to make the rules. Daddy learned this lesson last night at bedtime when Big One announced, "I'M the only one wearing Superman pajamas so I can do whatever I want."

Weekly Lessons & Top Posts

Whew! We survived another week. Warning: I'm very tired tonight so my lessons of the week may not be all that exciting. Here it is anyway.
  • Facebook can be addictive. Use with caution!
  • Think twice before introducing your husband to Facebook (see above).
  • You know it's time to step away from the junk food when your son exclaims, "WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Mommy! You're jeans are big, big, big!". Great self esteem booster.
  • If you want to have a witty list of "lessons learned" from the week, it's best to write them down when they happen. Otherwise, you'll be stuck with only 3 items on your list, even though many other things were learned along the way.
And now for a few recommended blogs.

Martini Mom has a good lesson for all of your husbands. They definitely need to read this so they won't make the same mistake!

Lucky Me shares some fun homemade Valentine's Day gifts.

Check out matt, liz, and madeline to find out how you can donate to a great cause. Do it for the love of Liz!

If you need a good laugh, visit Musings of a Barefoot Foodie to read about Brittany's trip to the OB... with her 2 young kids. Fun all around!

If you've ever considered cloth diapers, check out Esther's post at The Mommy Diaries. She gives lots of great info on cloth diapering. Little One is cloth diapered and I love it.

And now I must finish my weekly menu planning and my letter E week activity planning. I am determined to get more organized!

What If?

Big One asked if we could make popcorn today about 30 minutes before I usually pull out the dino shaped chicken nuggets and goldfish crackers cook a nutrition lunch from scratch. Initially, I said no but then decided why not? We have a stir crazy popcorn popper and he loves watching it. As we sat cuddling on the couch eating out popcorn, I started thinking about how my day would be different if I had gone back to work after Little One was born.

  1. I would have showered by now.
  2. I would be wearing something a little more stylish but not nearly as comfortable.
  3. If work was anything like the last few months I was there, I would be trying to look busy by scrounging up any busy work possible. (Boring)
  4. I would be staring at pictures of the kids instead of staring at (and cuddling) the real thing.
  5. I wouldn't be stressed about our health insurance situation.
  6. Big One would have social interaction with kids his own age. But he would throw huge fits every morning, insisting he wanted to stay home. Little One would be held and rocked by someone else. I would miss them even if the social interaction was good for them.
  7. When I picked the kids up from daycare, I would hope to not see yet another sign disclosing a contagious disease that has infested the daycare. (The amount of time I spend googling the symptoms of random childhood illnesses has drastically decreased!)
  8. I wouldn't have the freedom to schedule my day as I see fit.
  9. I would have had to park at the top of the hill so I could even get to work. Then I would have had to drive on snowy streets that either aren't yet plowed or were plowed by someone who really didn't care if he did a good job or not. I hate driving in snow!
  10. I wouldn't have to look around and see the mess that never disappears at our house!
  11. I wouldn't be listening to Big One blowing air through the straw from his juice box even though I've asked him to stop no less than 10 times.
  12. I would be listening to arrogant coworkers, some of whom actually clip their nails at their desks. Gross!
So what's the verdict? Where would I rather be? Right where I am, of course. That's not to say there aren't trade offs (see # 5 and 10). I've never questioned my decision. It felt right from the beginning (even when the kids are driving me nuts and I want to curl up in a ball under the covers). But I think no matter what decision you make in the stay at home/work at home/work outside the home dilemma, there are benefits and sacrifices.

And now my random thinking is done for the day.

Wordless Wednesday: Playmates

Check out 5 Minutes for Mom for more Wordless Wednesday.


WARNING: Contents of this post may cause derailment of any and all New Year's resolutions to lose weight, get in shape, cut out junk food, or generally live a healthier lifestyle. I take no responsibility for what happens should you continue reading!

This seemingly innocent pan of delicious treats will end any diet at the first taste. It contains quite possibly the two best desserts ever: brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough. I found the recipe on Bakerella although it's so simple that you don't actually need a recipe. Enjoy!

Have You Heard The One About the Elephant?

Big One is really into telling jokes right now. It's hilarious to listen to him tell a joke. By the punchline, I'm nearly rolling on the floor. But it's not because it's the joke of the year. In fact, I still haven't figured out the punchline of his usual joke. It's the way he tells the joke and starts laughing so hard before he even finishes. It usually goes something like this...

Big One: Hey, Mommy! How do you get an elephant in the refrigerator? (At least I think that's what it is... he's usually already laughing hysterically at this point.)

Me: I don't know.

Big One: Say "How?".

Me: Ok. How?

Big One: With a (peanut butter?) and a (jelly?). (laughs hysterically)

I think it's something about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or peanut and butter, or butter and jelly, even though none of those make sense. He's even creative enough to switch it around using different animals and refrigerators belonging to other family and friends (How does a giraffe get into my cousin Andrew's refrigerator?) Tonight he had a new one.

Big One: Hey, Mommy! How do mermaids get bigger.

Me: I don't know. (Not realizing it was a joke and I was supposed to say "How" instead of "I don't know")

Big One: Say "How".

Me: How?

Big One: In a hole! (again with the hysterical laughing)

What the? I don't get it but I was laughing harder than I have in a long time. It truly is all about the delivery.

Health Insurance Frustrations

Before I quit my job to stay home with the kids last May, we were on my health insurance. It offered great coverage and was actually affordable. Losing that benefit was the one thing that made the decision to stay home the most difficult. In the end, I decided staying home with the kids was more important.

Hubs works for a small company so I understand that costs will be higher. They don't pay much toward the premium. And every year it goes up significantly. This year it's going to be $130 more a month. That's an EXTRA $1560 a year in health insurance premium alone on top of the already high premium. We'll be paying over $700 a month on health insurance premiums. Honestly, I don't know how our bank account will survive that much more gone each month.

So we're stuck.

Do we stick with it since it's a group plan? Do we try to find an individual plan? Do we consider a health savings account? I'm so frustrated. I don't want to make the wrong decision. A health savings plan would mean less premium but more out of pocket at the doctor's office. That's fine as long as we all stay healthy. But then there's the maternity issue. There are no plans to add another baby to our family but little surprises do happen. Most individual plans and HSAs only cover complications or cost a lot more to add maternity.

So I'm looking for advice. Suggestions. Pros and cons to any of the above options. Anyone have experience with a health savings account? Will we have a waiting period for preexisting conditions? I know I shouldn't complain because at least Hubs has a job and we have the option of health insurance. It's just frustrating to see the premium go up by so much every year.

Hubs is meeting with our insurance agent so we'll see what he has to say. This just seems like such a big decision. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate really big decisions? I need chocolate!

Glittery Weekly Recap & Top Posts

A few of the parenting lessons I learned this week...
  • When you shake the bottle of taco sauce, be sure you haven't already loosened the lid. This is particularly important if you plan to turn the bottle sideways or upside down to shake it.
  • If you insist on shaking the taco sauce with reckless abandon, storing the car seat, baby's coat, and diaper bag right next to the counter in the kitchen is not a good idea. It may result in a diaper bag full of taco sauce.
  • When attempting a project involving glitter with a 3 year old, having a few drinks ahead of time is advised. That way you won't want to cry when this happens...
(the photo doesn't really do it justice... we had one heck of a glittery mess)
  • Never breathe a sigh of relief when you open a bottle of glitter and find that it does indeed have a convenient shaker lid with little holes. Chances are, when your 3 year old shakes it violently to get the glitter to come out faster, that little snap on lid won't hold up. (see above picture)
  • Placing a pan under your glitter project is a good idea. Just don't use a good pan. And don't expect any future baked goods to be without an extra sparkle.
  • Unless you're looking to start a new fashion trend, it's best to move your shoes away from the vicinity of the glitter explosion before attempting to clean it up.
  • It's impossible to clean up every trace of glitter. It's probably best not to roll out the dough for stromboli on the same counter where the glittery explosion occurred. Unless red glitter is your preferred stromboli seasoning.
In all of your spare time, these blogs are worthy of a visit.

No Spill Paint Cup @ Her Cup Overfloweth: I love this idea. Big One loves painting so we may have to try this idea for keeping the paint contained.

So Weird @ The Little Things in Life: Jolene is the authority on "dumb pandas" according to Google. Why in the world is anyone googling that anyway? Jolene is very funny and this post will give you a laugh.

This Happens to Us in the Winter... @ The Mommy Diaries: This is a hilarious Muppets clip and so true. This is us this weekend since we're snowed in! Anyone who lives in the Midwest or other snowy climates will appreciate this.

My Mother's Daughter @ Musings of a Barefoot Foodie: I can relate to many aspects of this post, particulary the dull razor blade, hiding the loofah, and the transformation. Very funny post.

Free Suze Orman Ebook @ "Deal"icious Mom: This post includes a link to Oprah's website where you can download a Suze Orman ebook for free.

Ooblek @ Lucky Me: This is a fun activity to do with the kiddos. This stuff is very cool. I made it several years ago when I ran an after school program and the kids loved it. After our glitter explosion this week, I think I need a break from messy activities so we may hold off on this one!

The Magic Touch

When it comes to his baby sister, Big One has the magic touch. Little One's first glimmer of a real smile came at 5 weeks as she stared intently at Big One. She does adore her big brother. He adores her just as much. I never would have imagined how special the sibling bond could be until I became the mother of 2 children. I have a brother and a sister myself but there is something different about seeing the bond from a mother's perspective.

Tonight, Big One proved his skills with his sister once again. They were both in the bath and he started tickling her feet and saying her name over and over again while grinning right in her face. To me that would be annoying. But to her it was the funniest thing ever. She laughed her first real, out loud laugh at his antics. Up to this point, she had only done a silent sort of laugh. It was so funny to finally hear her laugh. And to watch the two of them interact. It never gets old.

Weekly Recap and Top Posts

It's Sunday again! The last 2 weeks have really thrown me off with Hubs being home. Of course I've loved every minute of the family togetherness. I'd just like a bigger house to spread out all of the togetherness a little bit. :-) Here are my thoughts/reflections/lessons learned from the past week.
  • You can lead a baby to her crib but you can't make her sleep. Little One is vetoing nap time. And, based on the screaming that is still taking place at almost 10pm, she also is now objecting to bed time. I'll give her one thing, the girl's determined.
  • You can't judge a book by its cover. Or a hairstylist by his mohawk.
  • I really hate hearing my children cry. For many reasons. Can you tell how hard I'm tapping on the keys right now? Probably not. But let's just say, the previously mentioned screaming from Little One's room is doing a number on my nerves right now.
  • Just when you think you have your kids figured out, they go and change on you. Motherhood is difficult. Rewarding but difficult. They really make you work for the rewards. I suppose that's what makes them so, well, rewarding.
  • Someone told me this week that babies who are difficult tend to be easier when they're toddlers. Let's hope. Because Little One has been much more difficult than Big One was as a baby.
  • I'm noticing a trend here so I'll conclude with one last thought of the week. I love my children to pieces. And even when they're screaming at 10:20pm, I would never trade them for anything in this world.
And it wouldn't be Sunday without the top posts of the week.

St. Jude's Card Recycling Program @ Fiona Foo: Until I read Christy's post, I was unsure of what to do with the plethora of Christmas cards we received. She shared all the details of how to send off your cards for the St. Jude's recycling program. I'm still trying to decide what to do with all of those photo cards we received!

Menu Planning Free Download
@ Her Cup Overfloweth: I go through phases when it comes to meal planning. For a while, I'll be really good at planning a menu and sticking with it. I'm always happier on those days because I don't have to stand in front of the cupboards waiting for culinary inspiration to strike. (Does Kraft Mac & Cheese count as culinary inspiration?) I like this weekly meal planner because it has boxes for all meals and snacks. Sticking to this could definitely help out at the grocery store as well!

Healthy Recipes @ Little Birdie Secrets: While we're on the topic of cooking, Little Birdie Secrets has some healthy recipes that look delicious. They also have a link to the eatbetteramerica site, which I'm definitely going to check out. (I included that just for you, Jessi!)

Crazy Faces @ Lucky Me: If you resolved to do more crafts with the kids this year, this Crazy Faces activity looks like a fun one.

We're Outta Here @ My Charming Kids: Earlier this week, I posted about Baby Stellan and his recent trip to the hospital for RSV. He improved very quickly and is now at home with family.

New Year's Resolutions @ The Mommy Diaries: Esther has a great list of goals for 2009, most of which I could adopt as my own. She also has her weekly list of top posts so check them out!

Little One is so far beyond crying it out it's not even funny. So I'm off to her room for probably the 100th time tonight. Someone get me a beer!

Out With the Old, In With the New

Hairstyle that is. Thanks to Chad, I have a new hairstyle. Who is Chad? He was the man behind the scissors that took me from this...

... to this...

The pictures aren't the best. But this isn't really so much about how my hair looks as it is about how my hair got to that point.

When you think of a male hair stylist, how do you picture him? I'll admit, I think of a petite, effeminate man with a spring in his step.

Chad is the complete opposite. He stands well over 6 feet tall, has tattoos covering his arms, and sports a mohawk. I went to a walk in salon so it was the luck of the draw. And I drew Chad. I was actually a bit excited because I hoped he would have creative vision that the others lacked.

I sat down in Chad's chair and gave him an idea of what I wanted. I wasn't completely sure myself but I assured Chad that I'm not emotionally attached to my hair, so he need not worry about scaring me.

Chad apparently took that as a challenge.

He grabbed a section of hair and started chopping. You know how most stylists carefully cut your hair, one snip at a time, combing and making sure it's straight? Not Chad. He just started whacking, much the way an inexperienced and uncaring person would do to their enemy's hair.

I admit I suddenly got nervous. I regretted giving Chad free reign of my hair. I tried to hide my panic. I'm not sure if I did a great job.

"If you're sitting there thinking, 'I look like shit', don't worry. I'm just getting rid of the unnecessary length."

Whew. I think. I was still a little uncertain of Chad's less than conventional techniques. But I didn't have much choice but to go with it. After getting rid of all the unnecessary length, he asked how short I was willing to go. I gave him an idea and then asked what he had in mind.

"Nothing in particular. I'm not going to shock the shit out of you. I won't give you a pixie or anything."

Whew. Because I can't pull off a pixie cut.

The conversation with Chad wasn't your typical hair dresser conversation. Chad's a straight shooter. He won't sugar coat it. And he didn't mess around with small talk. I like that. One of the most stressful things about a trip to the salon is digging through my brain, attempting to scrape up something that will make a suitable conversation. These days, a trip to the salon is one of the few times I am away from my two very loud children. The last thing I want to do in the chair is hold up my end of a conversation, intellectual or otherwise. So thank you, Chad, for not expecting me to chat about the weather, my kids, or my career path.

Chad finally found his artistic inspiration and he pulled my hair together in the end. He even took particular care in ensuring that both sides were the same length, something that many hair stylists don't seem to care about. Sure, it felt as if he was pulling my hair from the roots when he thinned it. And he came close to gouging out my eye a few times with the scissors and his fingers. But in the end, I was happy with my hair cut.

On a side note, I'd love to know how much you tip your hairstylist. That is my least favorite part of going to the salon (well, after the small talk anyway). I always worry that I won't tip them enough. So I add an extra dollar or two on so they won't complain about me after I leave. But then the next time, I feel obligated to tip at least that same amount. And it's usually more than I really want to tip them. Thoughts?