Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wrestling...

Today was Nick's first wrestling meet...we got up early. Way early. Too early. And we left for the school before I even had my coffee. I had to wake up Delaney and Sam and drag them out of bed. It was ugly. It was rough. But we got there and walked into the gym. Nick made a beeline for the bleachers.
"No...Nick. You need to go and sit with your team."
"But...they're wrestling," he says.
"Well, yeah. That's what the practices are for."
"But I don't want to."
So, we find a spot in the bleachers and get his wrestling shoes on.
"Why don't you go down and sit with your team?"
"No."
Okaaay. How about we just sit in the bleachers at this obscene time in the morning and watch all the parents drink the coffee they were smart enough to buy on their way over.
"Can I play the DS?" Nick asks.
Sigh.
"Nick...we are here so you can wrestle. Not play the video game."
He's quiet for a minute.
"I don't think I'm ready for this kind of thing yet," he tells me.
Yeah. I don't think I am either.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Miracle of a Hat

I've been on a hat kick lately...I wear them all the time. I've discovered that with a hat, I don't even have to brush my hair. I get up, pull a sweatshirt on over my pajama pants, put a cute hat on and I actually look presentable enough for the bus stop. I may still have slippers on, but if I'm wearing a hat, I feel put together and fully dressed. From the waist up, anyway. It's a great trick. And fortunately, I haven't had to get out the the car yet. And now that we've had our first snowfall (YAY!), a nice warm hat becomes even more necessary for cold mornings. And bad hair days. And days when your hair might not be so bad, but you don't want to take the time to find out. And days when the alarm says that you have to get up and you don't want to and then you realize that if you wear a hat, you can sleep that extra minute or two that it would take you to brush your hair. See? Hats are amazing.

The Winter Hats Boutique website has a ton a cute hats; hats for kids, men and women. They have Winter Hats and Women Winter hats. And they have so many to choose from. Delaney will wear a hat if I have one on, but only for about 10 minutes and then she rips it off and I find it in the bathroom sink or on the floor in the car. Which is too bad, because look at this one...

 It's painfully cute.  And this one...
So darn cute.  Really. I'm tempted to have another baby, just so I can buy this beanie hat for him.You should check out some of the amazing hats on this site...adorable.

I have a pair of pajamas that would go quite nicely with this one...
I think I know how to start my Christmas wish list this year...and  it's going to be a long one!

For 15% off, use the code 15OFF at checkout!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween!

Granted, Halloween was almost a week ago, but like usual, I am a bit slow. It didn't help that my Internet was down for. Four. Days. FOUR DAYS! It was terrible. I actually got laundry done, I cleaned bathrooms and changed sheets. Horrible. Thankfully, it's back up and I won't have to do any of that stuff again. So, of course now that I'm back online, I have to present the obligatory cute kids in costume picture.

Nick was a pirate (like that sneer he has going there?), Delaney was a princess and Sam was "Superman". We tried to tell him he was actually Spiderman, but he didn't believe us. We went trick or treating around the neighborhood and there are a few houses that were decorated a bit scary. I worried about how Sam would react, because when Nick and Delaney were that age they were terrified. The first scary house had a skeleton guy hanging in a tree and Sam stopped short and stared at it. "Uh oh," I thought, waiting for the crying or screaming. But no...he spits at it.

"Spit at scawy (scary) guy," he said. And then he spit again. Superman, indeed.

Then we came home to find the dog laying in the middle of the living room, surrounded by lollipop sticks and candy wrappers. And that can make even the toughest of kids cry.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Parent/ Teacher Conferences

Nick's parent/teacher conference was last week. I've volunteered in the classroom several times, so I knew the teacher and her assistant and already had a pretty good idea of where Nick stood in class.

Or so I thought.

In preschool and kindergarten, Nick was always at the top of his class in all the subjects they were learning at the time. Apparently, within the first few months of first grade, his reading level is no longer at the top of his class, but has dropped so far below grade level that the teacher recommended sending him to the special reading classes the school offers. Now, I have to admit I was a little taken aback. While I am not opposed to anything that will help him out, I just question the judgement of his teacher. At the conference, I had a few questions for her that she couldn't answer. I wasn't impressed. They have these math sheets that are all simple addition problems. But the kids are timed. They have two minutes to fill it out. Looking at Nick's work, I can see where he starts to get stressed out and just starts putting in numbers so he won't be left with an empty page. To me, this seems really silly. They're just learning this stuff. Do they really need to be timed? I asked the teacher what the benefit of this was. She stuttered around and little and then told me that she didn't really know. "It's just the way we always do it. " She lost all my confidence, right there.

I am going to put Nick in the special class and see if there is an improvement, because it can't hurt, but I doubt the necessity. She told me he is advanced in math and sciences but needs to work on his spelling. Which brings up another issue...when we go over the words at home, he can get every single one of them correct. Then he brings home his test and I find that he has missed nearly all of them. I can't figure that out, either. I wonder if he's just a bad test taker and what, if anything, can be done about it.

I have a feeling school is going to be harder than I thought.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Made a Friend!

The lobby at Delaney's dance class is full of three different kinds of moms: there are the ones that sit together on one side of the room, talk loudly and avoid eye contact with anyone not in their yoga pant, designer purse-clad group. There are the moms that drop their kids off and make to the nearest exit as fast as they can. Then, there's the lepers. The moms that scrounge for whatever chair is leftover, or they sit on the floor at the back of the studio in their jeans and dole out goldfish crackers from non-designer diaper bags. The moms that are always late with the payment. The moms that never seem to "fit in".  You know, like me. Maybe it's because I'm always drunk. Hmm.

But anyway, today, I made a friend with a fellow leper.

When you stay at home with your children full time, meeting a new person with whom you might actually have something in common with is an event. A celebration. It's like a freakin' date. Do you ask for her phone number? Or does that make you sound too desperate? Will she think you're a stalker if you find her on Facebook and friend her? Should you follow her home, get her address and send her flowers? I just don't know...This friendship thing is hard.

Not that I'm completely anti-social. I do have friends. Just because no one can see them doesn't mean they aren't real. But believe it or not, I have real ones, too. I have several acquaintances and a few very close friends with whom I cannot imagine not having in my life. Friends who forgive me, no matter how bad of a friend I am. And I love them to pieces...but I've discovered that as an adult, for me anyway, making a true friend is really, really tricky. I don't know how to do it.

But today, I managed to control myself and after class, I resisted following my fellow leper home. Only because I know a restraining order would make it difficult to take Delaney to dance class. Maybe next week I'll just bring her a small gift...like a life-sized portrait of her, done in macaroni noodles. I'm sure I could get Delaney to help.

Monday, October 18, 2010

It starts early...


This is my daughter's bed. Yes. The one she sleeps in. If I try to take anything off of it, she screams and cries until I put it back. Exactly where it was, or she gets angry, stomps over and puts it in it's proper place. As disorganized as this looks, apparently, there is a system. The books are sorted to her liking...doctor books by her head, a select few rotating books propped against the wall. The stuffed animals and babies all have their own place, and God forbid I move one. I accidentally uprooted "Baby Koala" from his place in the covers once and it was another ten minutes before she would go to sleep because she had to get him comfortable again.





She has several different blankets, that are only to be used for certain dolls. She has an assortment of crayons and paper, in case she feels like drawing in the middle of the night. She keeps her plastic rings and bracelets next to her, right beside her barrettes in the pink, plastic bedside bucket that we once brought home from the hospital. She has a place for all the junk mail that I tried to throw away but she thought she had to keep; the flier from the dentist with the tooth fairy on it, a princess picture from the Disney movie club advert...very important things. All close at hand. Two different water bottles. In case she gets very thirsty. Birthday cards, pennies, a squirt gun...

I'm afraid that one day she will be featured on Hoarders...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Midnight snacks

I was rocking Sam a few nights ago, trying to get him to go to sleep. He as being very stubborn. He kept looking up at me and asking for a cracker.

"Cracker?" he'd ask.
"No."
"Cracker?"
"No."
"Cracker?"
"No."
He decided on a different approach.
"String cheese?"
"No, Sam. Go. To. Sleep."
"String cheese?"
"NO!"
He was quiet for a few seconds.
"Hangbooger?" he asks.

Sure, kid. It's almost 11:00 pm. You can't have a cracker, but I will run right downstairs and grill you up a hamburger.

I guess it was worth a shot.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Definitions

Delaney came in crying and screaming that Nick kicked her in the face.

"Nick! Get in here!" I shouted. "Did you kick Delaney?"

"Yes," he says, sadly.

"Was it an accident?" I ask.

"No. It was on purpose."

"Then you need to get to your room right now! We do not kick each other."

"No, no...wait! Wait!" he pleads. "What exactly does "on purpose" mean?"

Thursday, September 30, 2010

SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Socks and Giveaway!

Sponsored by Tomoson.com


When we were given the opportunity to try out a pair of SmartKnit Kids Seamless Socks, I jumped at the chance. Free socks! Of course! These particular socks are seamless, which they claim makes them more comfortable than your average socks.

I requested them in pink, Delaney's favorite color. I decided to test them out on her, because she refuses to wear socks. Her flip flops are welded to the bottom of her feet. Every time I make her wear socks, minutes later I will undoubtedly stumble across a pile of sweaty girl socks, ditched in the middle of the floor somewhere. She hates socks and that might be fine if we lived in Florida, but Colorado's weather is not so mild and she cannot wear flip flops year round. SmartKnits sent one pink pair, sized medium and one white pair in large.

She glared at me when I showed them to her.
"I hate socks!" she hissed at me.
"I know, but look! These are pink!" I finally persuaded her to put them on and wonders of wonders...she wore them all day. All day. I'm a believer. Designed for children with sensory processing diļ¬€erences and hypersensitivity, they work equally well for kids who just don't like socks that bunch in their shoes. Maybe it was the lack of seams, the bumps or the texture, but these sock were absolutely a hit with my daughter. They are designed without a heel, so they can't be put on upside down because both sides are the same! This also keeps children from outgrowing them as quickly as they would regular socks.

I was instantly struck by how soft they were. They are made from 97.3% polyester and 2.7% lycra and are antimicrobial which helps inhibit odor-causing bacteria. And really, my kids smell bad enough. These socks are designed to wick away moisture and the form-fitting design is snug on the foot, keeping them from slipping and bunching in the child's shoes. Their patented non-binding Halo-Top keeps the sock up, without pinching or binding. After wearing them all day, she didn't have the elastic marks left on her leg like other socks leave.

I am absolutely impressed with these socks and so is my daughter. She may not get frostbite this winter after all.

They are also going to send a pair to a lucky reader! So, in the comments, tell me why you'd like a pair of these and you're automatically entered to win!


This Product Was a Free Giveaway

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Liberation!

My saintly neighbor watched my two youngest so I could go to the grocery store. Alone. That hasn't happened in years. On the way there, I cranked the music up loud without the shrieks and whines that usually accompany that. I sang. Loudly. To Nine Inch Nails. I exceeded the speed limit by 4 miles an hour, I swore at the man who turned in front of me.

"What!? You &*#(@ moron! Did that year not come with a %&(#@%$& turn signal?" without having to worry that the little sponges in the backseat would repeat it back at some inopportune time. Preschool conferences are stressful enough. And all this excitement, all this liberation before I even entered the store.

I selected the first cart I came to. There was no crying and begging and searching for the one cart in the store that looks like a car. There were no arguments about who was going to ride up front, or who got to sit in the basket, or was going to hold the list. I got to hold my own list. I had time to look at my coupons and actually compare items and prices. I was able to examine the strawberries and the apples. I picked the best avocados. No one was crying. I wasn't constantly pulling on little arms, trying to get them out of the way of the other shoppers. I didn't once have to smile at some stranger in an apologetic way. I didn't even have to talk. For an entire hour, I didn't once say anything. It was...nice. Because I don't really like to talk but that's all I do, all day long.

"No! You can not spray the dog with the hose!"
"Why, may I ask, are there Benderoos hooked to the ceiling fan?"
"What is in the TOILET??"

So, it was refreshing. Not having to speak. To leisurely stroll the aisles of the grocery store, checking items off my list with satisfaction. If they offered champagne at the door, it would have been perfect. They really should do that, while they wipe your cart down with their velvet towels and bow graciously.

I was stalked through the produce aisle by an over-enthusiastic older man and I realized with regret, that my wedding ring was at home. Fortunately, I avoided additional contact and was able to lose him in the frozen foods. Elderly gentlemen can't quite get it up to speed sometimes...you know, their cart?

But all good things must come to an end. Who would have thought I'd ever say that about Wal-Mart? Eeegads. But I hurried home to get the kids with plenty of time to get Nick from the bus. And dare I say? It was nice to see their smiling little faces.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Early Childhood Education - Acquiring Sign Language

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of Texas child care facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose child care schools.  Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.

Early Childhood Education – Acquiring Sign Language

One of the keys to surviving in a tilted economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent standard of living will be limited is versatility – and the ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the disabled – primarily the deaf.

At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language has led to more career opportunities – and if current trends continue, it's likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.

Signing Before They Can Speak
A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years – ages 2 to five – are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.

This is not as odd as you may think. As you know, many indigenous peoples around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate.

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:
            "...by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children
            can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children
            can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces
            frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves
            before they know how to talk." (Glarion, 2003)

The author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that "using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration...[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music" (Glarion, 2003).

The Best Time To Start
Not only does early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, it can also strengthen the parent-child bond – in addition to giving children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk – and the implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Do the Reuse Challenge!



This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Aladdin. All opinions are 100% mine.


According to the Aladdin challenge we spend approximately $2,350.00 a year eating lunch out or purchasing take-out. We spend $636 buying regular drip coffee from a shop, when it would only cost us $165 a year to make it at home. By the end of this year, 23 billion disposable paper coffee cups will have been thrown out. But the statistic that really floored me? In the United States, we use 50 billion disposable water bottles a year. That breaks down to 137,000 a day and 1,585 per second. It takes seven million barrels of oil to produce all these bottles.


That is why I've decided to participate in the Aladdin Do The Reuse Challenge It is a thirty day commitment to give up disposable products, like water bottles, paper cups and take-out food containers. By accepting the challenge Aladdin will give a discount to those participating, good for items on their site. And they have several items to choose from, from traditional food containers to artsy coffee mugs. You can even design your own with photos and personalized text.


Nine families will be blogging about their experience with the challenge on the Aladdin website and you can keep updated through  Aladdin on Facebook


Personally, I'm guilty of using the disposable water bottles. Even though I use and reuse them, I know that I shouldn't use them at all. So, that's my focus the next 30 days...no more plastic bottles. Now I have an excuse to buy one of those cool water bottles.




Visit Sponsor's Site



When the Going Gets Tough...Guest post

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alisagilbert599@gmail.com.

 When the Going Gets Tough: How to Deal with Your Kids When They're Annoying You


No parent wants to admit it, but we all know deep down inside that our young children aren't the little angels we talk about when we update our relatives on the phone. While your kids may not exactly be holy terrors, there will inevitably be moments when it seems that they're making a career out of testing your nerves. The constant questions, the whining, the poking, prodding, car-seat kicking all comes with the parenting territory, and we must, of course, suck it up and deal with it. Here are a few ways to maintain your sanity.

1. Think twice before exploding.

It's easy to want to snap when your children are driving you up the wall. However, remember that while you cannot control an external situation, you can control how you react to it. Sometimes the best way to diffuse a situation is by keeping your cool. If you find yourself about to yell, take a deep breath and count to ten in your head. You'll be much better prepared to deal with rambunctious tykes if you have taken a few moments to calm yourself down.


2. Talk to your kids as if they were adults.
As adults, we often don't give kids the credit they deserve. Sure, they can be annoying, but many times childish behavior results from talking down to your kids. If you instead talk to them as if they were mini adults, you'd be surprised by how adult-like they can be.

3. Sometimes its better to let them carry on until they tire themselves out.

If you're a parent of young kids, chances are you are something of a control freak. A situation gets out of hand and the first thing you want to do is to make it stop immediately at whatever cost. Whether it's whining because they aren't getting their way or teasing and poking a sibling, you want to stop bad behavior before it gets out of hand. Sometimes, as parents, we have to face the fact that we must pick our battles. Kids will be kids, and we can't expect everything to go our way either. Save yourself future ulcers, and let them do their thing until they realize they aren't going to get anywhere acting as such. They'll eventually tire themselves out. Trust me.

4. Be reasonable in the face of irrationality.
It's tempting to want to fight irrational behavior with threats or "because-I-said-so" proclamations. While these may work some of the time, more often than not they only serve to escalate situations. Related to tip number two, by maintaining a voice of mature reason, you are subtly influencing your kids to imitate how you behave. Kids learn exponentially faster and more effectively by example, not words.
While every mom and dad has a different parenting style, the most important thing to remember when your tots are being annoying is that they are young children. And we should enjoy them as they are while we can, because before long they will develop into completely different creatures with different challenges. In the blink of an eye, they will be teens, and then we will wish for that annoying tantrums were all that we had to worry about.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Rambler's Way Wool



This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Rambler's Way Farm. All opinions are 100% mine.


Let's say I was given $200 to spend on wool items. My first thought? No thank you. I've owned beautiful wool sweaters in the past. Sweaters that have never, ever been worn because they are so itchy, bulky and uncomfortable.  When I'm shopping,  I may fall in love with a sweater but if the label lists wool in any percentage, I instantly put it back on the rack. 


Now, if I was given $200 to spend on Rambler's Way Wool? Well, that would be a different story.


I would definitely want one of the Henley shirts.


And a camisole.



These look so light weight that I'm hesitant to believe that they are wool.  But they are. They're made from Superfine American Rambouillet 18.5 micron wool which makes a breathable fabric that can be worn year round and directly next to the skin without the irritation that standard wool would cause. The natural fibers repel odors and moisture. They are chemical free, machine washable and dryable. They resist shrinkage and the breathable fabric remains comfortable, whether the sun is shining or the cold snows are blowing. They also feature flat, chafe-less seams.


Best of all, these products are made with a focus on low environmental impact. Rambler's Way Wool  is made in America and sustainably farmed, with special attention paid to the care and the humane treatment of the animals.


All wools are definitely not created equal.




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Monday, September 20, 2010

Four years old...

Delaney turns four today. We had a party for her Saturday, at a park in the rain. It was supposed to clear up by afternoon, but it never did and I was disinclined to move a party with 16 children into my house. So they played with wet behinds from sliding down the slides. But they didn't care. There was cake! And ice cream! And goody bags! And kids! Woo hoo!

Unfortunately, there was not alcohol. Unless you count the Bailey's I slipped into my coffee.

Delaney had requested a Hello-Kitty-Princess-Doctor cake:
When we were cutting it, I asked her what part she wanted.
"The Hello Kitty part."
Nick wanted the pills. I hope that is not a precursor of things to come.

She was satisfied with an ear and the bow.

Sam and his noisemaker. That didn't work because it was full of slobber.

Fortunately, cake is one thing that does not require teeth to be eaten.

Mom and Sam!


This morning I filled her room with pink balloons and streamers, decorated the house and made her pink, heart shaped pancakes for breakfast. I told her she could have (just about) anything she wanted for dinner. She thought long and hard.
"Macaroni and cheese."

You know, the gourmet orange kind in the box? Fancy.

Happy Birthday baby girl!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Poop

Last night I was alerted to a possible problem when I didn't have any hot water to wash my face. So, I head down to the hot water heater.


There's a fountain gushing from the top and pooling around the base of it. While I'm not an expert, I was pretty sure that it wasn't supposed to be doing that. And of course, I also had a major migraine and had finally got all three of the kids to sleep. I didn't want to play with the water. I wanted to go to bed. So I called my husband. He told me to shut the water valve off on top. I did. It didn't do anything. He ended up coming home and having to shut the water off to the whole house because the shut off valve on the unit was broken. But it was night and I was going to bed. I wasn't too concerned.

Then came morning. We turned on the water long enough to take care of the essentials (you know, like making coffee) quickly, before the thing started to over flow again. Then he took the parts he needed (which meant no more water. At all.) and set off to find a new one with the money we just pulled off the money tree in the backyard.

I babysit the neighbor's adorable two year old in the mornings, so I had the three kids and we were happily playing in the backyard. Until the neighbor boy managed to find the one pile of dog poop in the backyard. But he didn't just step in it. He slipped in it. And fell. In it.  Remember the no water thing? Yeah. A two year old, covered in dog poop. And no water. Except for my tears...

How come so much of my life seems to involve poop? People can no longer have a conversation without me mentioning it at least once. Before I had kids, I don't think I ever even said "poop". Now I say it 50 times a day. At least. I'm so much fun.

Happy Anniversary to me! Oh. And my husband, too.

My husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary this past week. It's strange to think it's been that long. I'm surprised that anyone could put up with me for that long. We've been together for 12 years...plenty of time, really, for him to realize that I'm not completely normal and take off to parts unknown. But he hasn't. Yet. In fact, he even took me out to dinner.
We went to The Melting Pot, which was a ton of fun. Without the kids. It was a three hour dinner...without the kids. Did I mention that? It was like a real date. Bliss.


We had all kinds of good food...


But dessert, is of course, always the best part!We had chocolate/passion fruit fondue. Sooo yummy.

Oh...and the wine. There was a lot of wine.



Here's to many, many more...Happy Anniversary D. Love you.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New cake!

There's a new cake on my cake blog. It has subtle, unintentional pornographic elements.

I haven't been doing many cakes lately, but had two orders this weekend! And another call for a wedding cake. Yay!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Battery Bugs

I was dreaming that I had to jump another car. So I get out my battery cables and attach them to the battery in my car. But on the other end there turns out to be tiny iridescent bugs and I have to squeeze their wings together, like clamps, to get them to stick on the battery. But then they kept flying away.

It was very annoying.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I hate tuna!

I don't like to lie to my kids. No, really. I don't. But sometimes it's a necessary evil. Like when it comes to food.

Nick hates tuna. Hates it like it wronged him in another life. Hates it with a passion. But he's never actually tasted it.

So, the other night, I made tuna noodle casserole.

"What are you making for dinner?" he asks.
"Food."
"What kind of food?"
"The kind you can eat."
"Mom!"
"I'm making noodle casserole."
"Oh. Why do I smell tuna?" he asks.
"Um...I don't know. I can't smell anything."

Dinner is served.
Delaney and Sam dig in.
"I hate this!" Nick complains, which is the usual dinner refrain, no matter what I cook.
"At least pick out the parts you like."
He very carefully separates the tuna from the rest of the casserole, until he has a nice little pile of it on one side of his plate.

"I'm just going to eat the chicken," he informs me. And proceeds to eat all the tuna.

I still haven't told him it was not chicken.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Phone Phobic

I hate talking on the phone. Hate it. Despise it. If it rings, I most likely will not answer it. You can leave a message, but I probably won't listen to it. My husband will see the light flashing on the machine and listen.
"You have 17 new messages," the stupid thing will announce.
"Do you ever check this?" my husband asks.
"Um...sometimes?"
He sighs and checks the messages. I'm pretty sure he didn't realize how neurotic I was when he married me.

I looked it up and found out that it's called telephobia. It's actual real thing. I'm not afraid of the phone, I'm well aware that it won't strangle me while I sleep (at least now, since it's cordless), but that doesn't make me like it anymore. It's always been like that...even in high school. I was never one of those teen girls that would spend hours on the phone. (Except to my boyfriend. But that was different. We couldn't bear to be away from each other for more than a few hours, so we had to talk often, to ease the pain.) I read the common reasons people are telephobic, but I don't know if they necessarily fit. I'm perfectly capable of being ridiculed and misunderstood while not on the phone. If anything, I think I come across less of a freak on the phone than I do in person. I just hate it.

                Bad things can happen when you're on the phone.

I would much prefer to email, or write a letter, or use smoke signals. Just because I don't call you back doesn't mean I don't love you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

First Grade Casanova

The first full week of first grade has come to a close...and Nick has already come home with a girl's phone number. He gets off the bus and hands me a scrap of paper with big, sloppy numbers written lopsidedly across it.
"What's this?" I ask him.
"Oh, that's Hope's phone number. I'm supposed to call her," he said.
Oh. Of course.
What exactly do six year old children talk about on the phone?

Otherwise, things seem to be going well for him. When I ask how his day went, I usually get a "I don't remember." But he really likes recess and the fact that he had pizza today for lunch.

Sounds about right.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hampton Chain-of-Friends Sweepstakes

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Hampton Hotels. All opinions are 100% mine.


We all need time away now and then. Mostly now. And then. And again. So how about entering to win a free weekend stay at a Hampton Hotel? During their current Hampton Chain of Friends Sweepstakes they are giving away free weekend stays for the winners and three friends, daily. And the grand prize? The entire hotel for the weekend, just for you and 100 of your closest buddies. Yep. The whole hotel.

Personally, I'd grab my husband, my brother and his finance and spend the weekend in the Denver Hampton. Maybe have some cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory and wander up and down the 16th Street Mall. And with the money I wouldn't be spending at the hotel, maybe we could take in a show at the Buell Theater. I think I'm going to go enter right this second...OK. There. And if I win the grand prize, I've already decided that I will be hosting a blogging convention there. Since I've never been able to make it to any of the other ones, I guess I'll just have to sponsor my own. You'll come, right? Please?

Now it's your turn. Go, enter. Everyone and anyone is eligible!Where would you go? Who would you take with you?

Click HereClick Here
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Visit my sponsor: Win a free Weekend Stay

Monday, August 23, 2010

He who castrates...

Delaney and Sam were playing together the other day and I could hear them talking.

"Sam," Delaney said. "You can be the castrater."

Um...what? I decided it might be time to check and see exactly what game they are playing.

They are playing store and Sam is the cashier. With the cash register. Cash register. Castrater. Close enough.

Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship (sponsored post)

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Woodrow Wilson. All opinions are 100% mine.

The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships seeks to recruit, prepare and retain effective teachers for the students and schools who need them most.
The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship is offering recent college graduates and those who would like a career change with a $30,000 stipend to complete a master's degree program at one of 14 different universities. Applicants must be in the science, technology, engineering, or math fields and have completed an undergraduate degree in one of these STEM fields before June 2011. Candidates must have graduated with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and demonstrate commitment to the program. 

Those chosen will complete a field-based master’s degree in teacher education, be required to teach for at least three years at the high school level and will receive considerable mentoring and support in the classroom.

It is a highly selective program and the 2010 fellowship competition drew in 7,000 applications for the 80 available spots. Fellowship spots are contingent to passing the required state certification tests.

This year's application deadline is September 1, 2010, so act quickly! Visit www.wwteachingfellowship.org

for more information and to apply.





Visit my sponsor: The Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship

Lions! Tigers! Thunderstorms! Circus fun!

My mom bought the kids and I tickets to the Merriweather and Culpepper circus. While I am not a circus fan, I knew the kids would have a good time. It rivaled Christmas, they were so excited. We opted for the 5:00 showing and showed up just after 4:00 to enjoy the "Fun for All Ages!" midway. As we approached the field, the tent loomed into view and I realized why they push "pre-sale" tickets. If you were to see it before buying tickets, you wouldn't buy any.



The tent was a wreck; filthy and ratty, filled with holes and more patches than original material. And the midway? Non-existent. Then it started to rain and a thunderstorm warning was issued. They canceled the 5:00 showing and re-scheduled it for 7:30.

We took sad kids back to my mom's house, 20 minutes away. The rain let up and we headed back to the tent of doom. Walking to the tent, you could suddenly hear the roars of the big cats and Sam started  crying. Delaney stopped walking, screamed that she was going back to the car and started crying. So, I ended up carrying two crying kids into the tent. Inside, the poor tent's condition was even more apparent and the bleachers were covered with water from the leaks. Nick immediately starting begging for a cheap, plastic light stick. Or an expensive blowup animal. Or...or... I bought him cotton candy so he'd stop talking. The show started and they had a lion and 2 tigers that kept spraying everything, a juggler, unicycles, a clown, a girl on a trapeze (Delaney said, in awe "She's wonderful!"), a girl with hula hoops, ponies, peanuts...circus stuff. We had conveniently chosen seats directly behind a support pole and a lot of neck contortion was required. A little girl in back of me kept hitting me in the head with her blow up snake. Accidentally, I'm sure.

Sometimes, I wish I was little again. To be able to overlook the tawdry and crass and see the magic beyond the ratty tent. I failed miserably. At least Delaney and Sam enjoyed themselves. Nick is still mad at me because I wouldn't buy a light stick...

Boost Mobile (sponsored post)

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Boost Mobile. All opinions are 100% mine.


Boost Mobile is a no-contract wireless company and is part of the Sprint pre-paid group. They have a wide selection of phones to choose from, including the Sanyo Juno, the Blackberry Curve, the Samsung Rant and the Samsung Seek. All the phones they offer are "social in nature" making it simple to update a status on Facebook and Twitter. They offer a variety of easy payment plans, like the "BlackBerry Monthly Unlimited" service which is unlimited nationwide talk, text, Web and email for $60 per month. They also offer the "Monthly Unlimited" service plan offering unlimited nationwide talk, text and Web for $50 per month.

An impressive feature is the Re-Boost program which makes it simple to make payments. You can pay online, on the phone, in person or set up an automatic payment plan. When you set up an automatic payment plan, you are given $20 in credit for ringtones, wallpapers and downloads. Plus, you get a $2 credit every time you use the Auto Re-Boost plan. If necessary, friends or family can even make payments for you.

Boost Mobile phones are available at over 20,000 major retail stores, including Radio Shack, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.

Visit my sponsor: Reboost

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

School For Husbands

I just finished reading "The School for Husbands" by Wendy Holden. Unless you like weak, whiny characters I wouldn't suggest it. It annoyed the heck out of me. But the premise of the book is a husband who tries to save his marriage by attending the "School for Husbands" where the courses include things like closing the toilet seat after peeing, helping with housework, general hygiene and the importance of keeping chocolate in the house. Basically, it says that it's the little things that end up being the one big thing that will end a marriage. And I do see the point. On the cover, it asks "What Would You Teach Yours?"


It got me thinking...what would I teach my husband? He always closes the toilet seat and his aim is perfect, he showers daily and he doesn't leave hair on the soap. I know people whose husbands demand dinner at a certain time everyday; my husband doesn't care if we eat at five or eight and he usually cleans up the kitchen after I cook. Even if dinner ends up being a experiment and it goes horribly wrong, he will eat it and say it's good. If I need wine, he will go to the liquor store and get some for me. He always puts his dirty clothes in the hamper. He's been known to borrow my car simply to put gas in it, because he knows that I hate doing it. He's never criticized me and only once in our 12 years together has he laughed at my shoe choice. He knows that I'm a slob and he knows how disorganized I am, but he tolerates it without comment. Even when I misplace important paper work or forget to make an vital phone call, the most I get is a sigh and an eye roll. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how...dare I say it?...lucky I am. ( I hope he doesn't read this...we don't need to inflate his ego.)

My biggest complaint is that he works too many hours, but I know that he's doing it for us, so we can afford what we have. How can I be mad at that? (Actually, depending on my mood, it's pretty easy to get mad at that. Right now, however, I'm feeling grateful.)  He's compassionate, thoughtful and usually manages to say exactly the right things. Most the time, he's more patient with the kids than I am. And he almost always takes the trash out without asking.

If I decided I wanted a puppy, he'd go out and find me one. If I decided I wanted another baby, he wouldn't hesitate to unzip his pants... He's supportive of this blog, even if he doesn't quite understand it and he wouldn't hesitate to hand over the TV remote if I were to ask. He even loves to go grocery shopping.

So...what would I teach him? Wow. I don't know. Maybe he could take a cooking class...it would be nice to have someone else cook for me now and then. Oh. And actually, it would be great if he could figure out how to turn on the vacuum. And give me pedicures. But aside from that...I'd have to say I'm pretty lucky.

So...what would you teach your husband? (Or wife! )

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bipolar

Inspired by a recent conversation at a family gathering...

My brother is Bipolar. It does not make him less of a human being. It does not make him a loser or a criminal. He may have made many manic-induced bad decisions over his lifetime, but that doesn’t mean that he’s stupid or deserving of ridicule and eye rolling.

I don’t claim to be an expert and sometimes I get just as aggravated at him as everyone else, but I am tired of the judgment and criticism of him. From members of his own family. From people who have never taken the time to learn anything about it. People who equate “not feeling good” as being hung-over. Being manic does not equate being drunk.

In my experience, people who are not familiar with mental illness, bipolar or otherwise, tend to have skewed images of the issue. Perhaps the view they have is due to the numerous shows on TV which portray the mentally ill as criminal or dangerous. Maybe it is just ignorance. Either way, it’s not justifiable. If there is someone in your family, immediate or extended, someone at work, or maybe just a neighbor, there really isn’t any reason not to learn a little about their affliction. There are countless sources online or at the library. http://www.nami.org/ is an excellent source of information.

Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic Depression, is characterized my major shifts in mood, energy and the ability to function. The cause is unknown and it effects men and women equally. The shifts can be subtle or dramatic, last for days or for weeks. While manic, behavior may include elation or extreme irritability, increased physical and mental activity, racing thoughts and increased talking at a much faster speed. In my brother’s case, his vocabulary also changes when he’s manic. Risk taking and impulsiveness are also characteristics. While in the depressive stage they have low energy, have no interest in anything or anyone are often easily annoyed. They suffer prolonged sadness, worry excessively, have abnormal feelings of guilt and worthlessness. They often contemplate suicide.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 10 million Americans suffer from bipolar. It’s more common than you’d expect. This number does not, however, take in account all the families of those who are effected by bipolar family members. Spouses, parents, siblings, who all try their best to “be there” and to understand. And there is nothing more disrespectful than the uninformed who undermine the family’s intentions.

While that sounds harsh, it is exactly what happens when someone says something thoughtless. It puts the family member on defensive and they immediately feel to need to protect and explain, which often falls on deaf ears. Due to my brother’s rapid cycling, he is often absent from family gatherings, either because he is too manic or has fallen into a deep depression. Trying to explain his absence is very difficult to people who have not taken the time to understand. To his immediate family, when one of us say “He had a bad night”, we instantly understand. You say that to someone else and they smirk and comment about his drinking and give each other knowing looks.

Even in this day and age, when technology and the medical field have advanced so far, there is a stigma to bipolar and mental illness. It’s really inexcusable.

If you want to be a help to the family, the main thing is to be understanding. Ask questions only if they are an honest attempt to understand. Be there and be willing to listen. Do not judge and don’t offer advice.

Sometimes, the only thing the family may need is a compassionate, fellow human being who will not judge and make assumptions. Someone who makes an effort to understand.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What if the sun burns out?

I was a worry wort as a child (umm...OK...maybe I still am.) I would lay in bed and fret over all the things that could go wrong. What if my parent's died? What if our house burned down? I had a list in my head of all the things I'd want to save in case of fire and a trash bag in my room that I could shove it all in, just in case.

I remember one of my favorite songs by T'Pau (anyone else ever listen to them?):
Don't wish too hard
Because they may come true
And you can't help them
You don't know what you might
Have set upon yourself
This song gave me panic attacks because I told my brother that I wished his head would fall off and I spent the following days convinced that I had killed him. Be careful what you wish for because it just might come true. Then you go to jail.  I may have been a strange child.

Unfortunately, Nick seems to have taken after me. He always has "bad thoughts" and I remember saying that same thing to my mom when I was little. She used to tell me to think about other things, like rainbows and kittens. It didn't work, but I tried it on Nick anyway. I tell Nick to think about monster trucks and dinosaurs. But that was a mistake. You don't use the word "monster" or "dinosaur" when trying to get a kid to think happy thoughts. Because then he wanted to know if a T-Rex could look through his window. I should have stuck to the kittens.

But our current dilemma? Nick is afraid that the sun will burn out. He already has plans to get lights and grow plants in his room. (Which sounds illegal.) He's afraid we won't be able to eat or have oxygen. The kid is only six. He has way too much stress. Can't he just play with his trains and not worry about the end of the world? He's going to have an ulcer before he's eight.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mooo!

A two year old is so much easier to please than say, a 6 year old, when it comes to birthdays. The older they get, the more they want. At two, you can give them a helium balloon and they are happy for hours. The wrapping paper is more interesting than the toys inside. Then suddenly, at 6, they want ponies, jump castles, 50 kids...or worst case scenario? Chuck E. Cheese. Nick has already decided that's where his 7th birthday will be. Then he lists off the 400 kids he wants to invite. I just let him ramble. I'm not going to burst that bubble just yet.

But Sam...last night to celebrate, we just took him to the Cozy Cow Dairy for homemade ice cream. It's a local small dairy with a plastic cow on the roof and in December, that cow is decked out in his Christmas finery. They have goats and a couple of baby cows that the kids can pet. There are peacocks and chickens that the kids can follow around. There is a tractor for the kids to play on. It's simple and better yet, free! Except for the ice cream, of course.



Sam had an excellent time. So did we. There was a moment (while eating my dark chocolate chunk, bing cherry ice cream) when I looked up at my three kids sitting on the tractor, so content with their ice cream, smiling and laughing with each other, my husband on the bench beside me and I realized I was truly and completely happy. In that moment, there wasn't anything else. No bills, no money problems, no dirty house or laundry...just us. And I was content. Blissfully content.

It's the small things...I spend hours wishing we had the money to go on vacation, the money to pay all our bills, wishing I was a better mother, wishing, wishing, wishing... and sometimes I forget to be grateful for what is right in front of me. But of course, we had to come home. As soon as we step through the door, the kids are at each others throats and my husband's phone is ringing, his fire pager is beeping, the dog had pulled the loaf of bread off the counter and eaten it...

...but for a moment, it was all OK.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby!

Two years ago today, Sam joined the family. He entered the world at 12:24pm after about two hours of labor. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Please don't hurt me.) After having the first two kids drug-free I decided that with Sam I would be drugged to the hilt. I wanted the epidural. I wanted two epidurals. I wanted to be so numb that I wouldn't be able to walk for a week. I didn't even want to know I was having a baby. So after my water broke and the contractions started getting bad, I requested the epidural. And then Sam came. And then the epidural kicked in.

At least I tried. I guess the good thing is that the labor was that fast. The bad thing was that it was too fast for pain relief. But either way, Samuel was coming out and there wasn't anything I could do to stop it.

And he wasn't really all that happy about it...but as time went on, he warmed up to it a bit.
Pretty soon, he was unstoppable.
Now I look at him and can't believe it's been two years. Two years. When I was little, two years was a lifetime. Now it passes in a blink of an eye. I try to remind myself how fast it's going by and how I need to savor each moment, how I need to hug them when I want to smack them. So I try to seize the moment and take pleasure in how Sam mimics the other two kids and learns something new every hour of every day. I laugh when he walks around the house looking for Delaney, calling "Laney? Honey? Laney?" and I try not to cry when he pulls the green tomatoes off the plants or squirts toothpaste all over the floor. It's only for so long. Before I know it, my baby will be all grown up and won't be hanging on my leg and crying to be held. He won't want to fall asleep on my lap and so I try and savor it. I look into his sleeping face and know that one day it will be covered with stubble and creased with wrinkles, but now, it's smooth and round and soft. And beautiful.

Love you, baby boy. Happy Birthday to you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Charter Laptop-a-day Giveaway!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Charter. All opinions are 100% mine.

Charter has always offered promotions to reward customers and those looking to sign up for Charter service, but now Charter is giving back to the community! For their back-to-school campaign, they are giving away 50 laptops to 2 different schools. The laptops are Lenovo G555's with a 15.6" screen, 160GB drive and 3GB ram, with a Targus bag. You can even enter to win one yourself. Ordering any Charter product automatically puts you in the running for a laptop and up to $300 cash back. But purchase is not necessary and can be done online.

Laptop1

To nominate your school, go to the  laptop-a-day giveaway. There is a short registration process and nominations need to be received by August 12. Voting is based on the nomination stories received and 50 finalists will be chosen and announced by August 16. Open voting starts the same day and ends September 20. Winners will be chosen September 27, 2010. With frequent budget cuts, staff layoffs and equipment shortages, it's a great opportunity for two lucky schools.

So, go. Go and nominate your child's school and "like" Charter on Facebook to stay up to date on the voting process!
Visit my sponsor: Charter is giving Free laptops to Schools

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What happened to my underwear?

"What happened to my underwear?" Nick asks me.

"I don't know."

"Oh, wait. I guess I didn't want to wear any today."

"Maybe you should put some on before we go."

"Nah..." he says. "I don't want to. It kind of tickles."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ta da!

OK, I've decided on a design. I think I like it. I think. Right now, anyway. I may change my mind tomorrow. If you would be so kind, could you please let me know if you have problems with it? Does it load too slow? Do you hate it? Does it make you want to stab yourself in the eye with a pencil? I need to know these things. You may have noticed that I even added a few things...like pages. I have an Who I Am page, which is finished (and I might add, very profound).  I also added a few other pages that are in the works. I could work on tweaking my blog all night, it's so addictive.

Unfortunately, I actually need to get some stuff done. Sam's party is Sunday and I haven't even made a cake yet. Partly because it's 87 degrees in the house and I don't want to turn the oven on. Actually, I haven't been able to do much of anything but mope around and sweat. Even the kids have been laying around like limp rags. I'm really, really looking forward to Fall... 

Ashworth College

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Ashworth College. All opinions are 100% mine.

After I graduated, I decided to take a year off from school and work. Just a year, and then I'd go right back. It never happened. I got involved in my job, left that one, found a better one, met my husband, got married, had kids...pretty typical story, I think. I don't regret any of those decisions, because they have put me where I am now. I have a great husband and terrible kids. Like I said, pretty typical. My life is where it's meant to be.

But I won't lie and say that I'm completely content. I have days when I wonder what could have been. What if I had gone back to school? What would I have taken? How would my life of differed? I know for a fact that the job opportunities would have been drastically improved.

From Ashworth College:
There are many reasons for Moms to further their education: set an example for their kids, personal enrichment, preparation to re-enter the workforce when the kids are older, transition to a work-at-home career.

Distance education is a family-friendly way to help you get the education you've always wanted. It's easy, affordable, and is as close as your home computer.

And it's true. For me, it would be the only way I'd be able to go back to school. They offer so many different programs you can study and receive your Online degree in. They have 100+ nationally accredited career diplomas, Associate Degree, Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree and Certificate programs for today's hottest and most popular careers, including: Medical Billing, Web Design, Bridal Consulting, Interior Decorating, Human Resources, Marketing, Early Childhood Education and more. Research has shown that tuition at Ashworth is on average 50% less than other accredited online schools. Tuition includes all books and classroom materials, plus, they offer payment plans with zero percent financing! That's important to me. It's getting harder and harder to find a company that is willing to work with you and your financial limitations. You are guaranteed  to graduate without a student loan debt. 

There are so many benefits to this. Definitely something worth looking into.



Visit my sponsor: While the kids are away

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cuddly dinosaurs

Nick's "lovey" is a stuffed blue dinosaur that he's had since he was teeny, tiny. His name is "Cuddly Dine" and he pretty much goes every where with us.

The other night, we were driving home from my parents' house. It's about a 50 minute drive, it was late and the other two were asleep. But not Nick. He was talking. And talking. I always kind of look forward to the drive home from there...the kids are usually all asleep and I have almost an hour to listen to the radio and not have to talk. It's kind of blissful. But apparently, Nick wasn't tired.

We talked (or rather, he talked. I listen and say "uh-huh") about all kinds of things. Rockets, music, how he wished the car had a button we could push and out would come whatever kind of food he wanted. We got on the subject of Cuddly Dine, who of course, was with us.

"Cuddly Dine talks to me, but he always whispers. He only talks to people he knows," Nick tells me.
"He knows me," I said.
"I'll tell him he can talk to you," he says and starts whispering to his dinosaur. "OK, he will talk to you. You can ask him something."
"Hmmm...OK. What's his favorite song?"
"No one has ever asked him that!" he says. "I'll ask."
Talking to his stuffed animal...
"No! No! No! Talk in words," Nick tells him. A few moments pass.
Nick sighs, exasperated.
"I don't know. He's talking in Spanish. I can't understand him," he tells me. Apparently, Cuddly Dine interrupts him. "Oh! He says his favorite song is Spanish KidsBop."


Si, senor, si...

All this time, I had no idea the stuffed animals in this house were bilingual.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

First comes love, then comes marriage...

This weekend my cousin married the girl he's been with since junior high...how often does that happen? They've grown up together and now, hopefully, they're going to grow old together.

It was a beautiful wedding...white and black, brightly colored daisies, outdoor ceremony...My mom bought Delaney a cute little dress and sandals to wear to the wedding. I got her dressed and even curled her hair. She looked adorable. Then she went upstairs for a few minutes...

And came back down in her shorts, t-shirt and flip flops, her hair all messed up.

"Delaney! You need to put your dress back on! We have to go!"
She glares at me.
"I. Don't. Want. To. Wear. A. Dress," she proclaims.  "I wish I was a boy!"

Great.

"You can be a boy tomorrow. Today, you're a girl and you have to put your dress and sandals back on."
"NO!" she screams and runs back upstairs.

Delaney and I finally come to a compromise. She can wear her shorts under her dress and I'll bring her shirt and flip flops in my purse, so she can change after the ceremony. Fine. But she's not going to be happy about it.

"I'm being good and Delaney isn't," Nick informs me. "I have my nice shirt on."
"Yes, thank you Nick. You look very handsome."

 The only thing cuter?


Delaney dancing with the bride. Or this:

Nick dancing with the bride.
And that's Sam...running away from the bride.

Apparently, he's not a dancer.

This is my new favorite picture of my brother and Nick.


And to the happy couple...I wish you the best!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tea sets and tutus...

Thank you everyone, for the great gift ideas! I think the hardest part of this is trying to find something that his older brother and sister don't already have, but something fun, just for him, that will actually get played with.  I think I decided on this:

Sam loves Nick's remote control cars and is always getting yelled at when he tries to play with them, so I think this will go over well. It looks like it would be easy to control and it has a lot of good reviews. And of course, dad approved, being Fire Chief and all...I thought about getting Sam a tea set and pink tutu because he does like playing with Delaney's, but I can't even paint his big toe without my husband freaking out and I didn't want to give him a heart attack. We don't have life insurance. Maybe next year...

I might also throw in a big box, like so many of you suggested. Those are always a hit! And Sharlene suggested covering it in contact paper, which I think is a great idea. I had to throw the last one away, though, because Nick discovered that he could flatten it and then use it like a slide to go down the stairs. I had visions of broken necks and bleeding heads, so away it went. (In the dead of night. When no one was around to scream and cry and mourn it's absence.) Hmmm...actually maybe I'll skip the box. And just get a toboggan.

Now I just have to make a cool cake and get the invitations out. Not necessarily in that order. Of course, I realize that he's only two and doesn't really care or understand, so this is really all about me. Maybe I'll skip the toys and party all together and buy myself something nice. I do want another tattoo...

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