Friday Fun Flick-Bubbles in a Bathtub

7.30.2010

In a perfect world, I would have started blogging as soon as my little guy was born--that way I would have been able to capture all of his special moments right from the very beginning. (He's 23 months old right now.) However, since I was sleep deprived and didn't know anything about blogging when he was born, I guess I just have to play a little catch-up.

Tonight, I started looking at some of the videos we took of Lil' Lewie as a baby. I was amazed to see the change, and I have to admit that I did get a little emotional. My baby is now a toddler! A lot of my videos have my annoying voice in the background singing and cheering. (Ugh!) Since I want to spare everyone the pain of listening to me say, "Who's my little Lewie?" over and over again, I was quite selective in my "Blast from the Past" video this week.

Today's Friday Fun Flick is of my little one chasing bubbles in the bathtub when he was just 12 months old. Since bubbles were new to him at this point, he was quite fascinated by them. I chose this clip because it captures his sheer curiosity and excitement. (I also chose it because it was taken by my husband, which means my shrill Mickey Mouse voice isn't echoing in the background.)

I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday Blog Hop

I love blog hops. They give me the opportunity to read new blogs, make new friends, and share great stories, advice, product reviews and more.If you are new to my blog, I am a 34 (soon to be 35 year-old) mom of one 23 month old little boy and one forty year-old husband. (Yes, at times, I feel like his mother, too.) I like to write about special mommy moments, but I also like to rant about daily life (the good, the bad, and the plain boring), going green, eating healthy, exercising, toddler activities, traveling, and celebrating unique holidays (like National Ice Cream Day). I also like to laugh. I look forward to meeting everyone and sharing our adventures. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

New Friend Fridays


Thanksgiving Thursday

7.29.2010

Today I've been asked to return to work (but only for one day). My contract really doesn't begin until after Labor Day. At first I grumbled a little about this. It's summertime, and I want to be home with my Lil' Lewie. Then, reality hit me...I mean really, what am I complaining about? I have a job. I have one that normally doesn't require me to come in during the summer break or during the winter recess. So today, like everyday, I have a lot to be thankful for...

1. I'm thankful for my part-time job in the career center at our local community college. (Yes, I know my office is being moved to a little 12' by 12' foot space with no windows, but less space means less clutter.)

2. I'm thankful for my beautiful little boy's baby fat. He still has meaty little thighs and the cutest round cheeks. (I'm referring to his face of course, but his other cheeks are pretty plump and cute too.) Everytime my little boy runs, his face, particularly his cheeks, jiggle. My goal is to capture this on video for one of my Friday Fun Flicks.

3. I'm thankful for light summer breezes. Yesterday was a pretty hot and oppressive day, but in the evening, a light breeze cooled everything off tremendously. It allowed me to go for a nice long walk with my litte boy.

4. I'm thankful for my walks with Lil' Lewie. He doesn't mind sitting in the stroller, and I love spending this time to connect with him. I tell him about how much I love him, and I point out our beautiful surroundings--trees, flowers, sunsets. Yes, he is 35 pounds, and I have some steep hills in our neighborhood to climb, but it does give me exercise. I'm thankful for that too.

5. I'm going to go out on a limb here...but, I'm thankful for my clutter. Clutter is really a sign of having an abundance. I have more things than I need. I have to remember how many people and children in our country and other contries do without. They barely have enough to sustain them, nevermind having extra. Yes, clutter, even though you lurk in all the corners of my house, I am thankful for you. Still, don't get your hopes up too high--you cannot move in. Your visit will be short (I hope).

I Received the Versatile Blogger Award!

7.28.2010

Tanyia from Surviving Motherhood gave me the Versatile Blogger Award! I was so honored that she took the time to recognize me. I love to blog, and this award just encourages me to continue documenting my little boy's special moments in addition to writing about my own journey. Tanyia, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to show me some friendship and support. You are a great friend!

Now, on with the award...


In order to receive the award fully, I must
1) Thank the person who gave me the award. Thanks again, Tanyia!
2) Share seven things about myself.
3) Nominate 15 newly discovered blogs, and let the nominees know about the award.
Okay, so in no particular order, here are seven things about myself...I'll try not to bore you.
1) I used to own a pet frog as a kid. "Froggie" lived to be seven years-old.
2) I've been tap dancing for close to 30 years. I taught my husband how to tap dance for our wedding, and we performed a routine to Dean Martin's "Ain't that a Kick in the Head."
3) I studied abroad in Spain twice (once during my undergrad years and once in grad school).
4) I'm stuck in a time warp. I love music, movies, and TV shows from the 80's.
5) I walk three to four miles everyday. The most I've ever walked in one day was 16 miles.
6) I love to read self-help books and magazines.
7) I love everything chocolate!
Now it's time for the most important part of the award. I am pleased to nominate all the blogs below because they are clever, creative, beautiful, honest, sincere, and written by some pretty wonderful gals. (Drum roll, please.)

Top Ten Tuesday-You Know You're a Working Mama When...

7.27.2010

I'm very lucky to have the best of both worlds. During the summer, I'm mostly a stay-at-home mom (other than an English course I teach one night per week). During the college academic calendar, however, I work a part-time schedule of four days per week (three days and one evening).

Whether being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, I find that both have their challenges and rewards. It's a delicate balance--one that we're all trying to find...(or, at least, I am--PLEASE HELP!) For all the working mamas out there, this top ten is for you!
You know you're a working mama when...

10. You need at least one pot of strong coffee to get you through the morning. After all, you’ve got to take a shower, get dressed, wash and dress the kiddos, pack lunches for the entire family, and leave out the door by 7 a.m. (if you’re lucky).

9. All of your stylish business suits have been replaced by outfits with mystery stains, wrinkles, and loose fitting waistbands. Comfort is now the name of the game. Goodbye Prada shoes. Hello Dr. Scholls.

8. The diplomas, awards, and recognitions that used to grace the walls of your office have now been replaced by your children’s artwork.

7. You LIVE for office gossip or any other type of conversations that don’t involve talking about school, poopy diapers, or play dates.

6. Your colorful insulated lunch bag and ultra mod briefcase secretly convert to your high-tech, breast pumping gear. (Co-workers haven’t caught on to your covert breast milk operation yet, but they are intrigued by the strange whistling sound that comes from your office/the storage closet three times a day.)

5. Your workspace looks more like a photography art exhibit, complete with past and present photos of your kiddos. (This, of course, includes the wallpaper on your desktop that you change every other day.)

4. Forget employee or boss appreciation day. You secretly hope your co-workers will have a workplace celebration for Mother’s Day.

3. Instead of going out to classy lunch functions with co-workers, you stay behind to research toddler activities, arts and crafts, or your child’s next paper on the human genome project.

2. You’re often heard speaking on the phone in an annoyed, hushed tone from your desk. “Simon, I told you, not NOW. I’ll DEAL with the problem when I get HOME!”

1. Years after you began bringing your kiddos to daycare, co-workers are still afraid to shake your hand. (It appears that nasty cold still hasn’t left your system.)

And finally, here's one last bonus: You use your hard-earned money to buy lots of gifts for your children. How else are you able to cope with that incessant, blasted, annoying mommy guilt?

Tuesday Blog Hop

I love blog hops. They give me the opportunity to read new blogs, make new friends, and share great stories, advice, product reviews and more.

If you are new to my blog, I am a 34 (soon to be 35 year-old) mom of one 23 month old little boy and one forty year-old husband. (Yes, at times, I feel like his mother.) I like to write about special mommy moments, but I also like to rant about daily life (the good, the bad, and the plain boring), going green, eating healthy, exercising, toddler activities, traveling, and celebrating unique holidays (like National Ice Cream Day). I also like to laugh.

I look forward to meeting everyone and sharing our adventures. Thank you for stopping by my blog.

Photobucket



Tuesday Tag-Along

Monday's Mommy Moment-Check Out My Dance Moves

7.26.2010

This week, I was in the kitchen blending up a smoothie, when I think I hear dance music coming from the living room. I first dismiss it. My little boy is watching Ni Hao Kai-Lan. Then the music seems to sound louder. What? Either Ni Hao Kai-Lan is having a dance party, or someone’s up to mischief.

I walk into the living room (which is only a few steps away) and lo and behold, my little boy is staring at the TV screen dancing, and when I say dancing, I mean getting down, boogying it up, and all out impressing with some fab moves.

“Lewie, how did you change the channel?” I barely got the last word out when I noticed that I didn’t put the remote control in its normal hiding spot. It was out on the sofa in plain sight. “Of course, that’s how.”
Somehow he managed to switch Nick Jr. to one of the dance stations we get as part of our AT&T U-verse package. How he managed that one, I have no idea since Nick Jr. is on 320 and the dance music is on 5001. (He’s not that adept at using the remote control since we usually hide it.) Anyways, my little boy wasn’t the least bit disappointed with his selection as he kept clapping his hands, tapping his feet, and twirling away in splendor. It was quite a moment.

Keeping a Gratitude Journal

7.25.2010

I firmly believe in the power of the written word. While I don’t necessarily believe I’m going to become “wealthy” by writing my goals down (as portrayed in The Secret), I do believe that writing is the first step towards creating a concrete goal and making it become part of my daily life. (If a long-term goal isn’t written down, well, then, isn’t it just a daydream?)

Since writing has the ability to turn a mere thought into something tangible, living, and real, I’ve decided that I could benefit from keeping several journals by my bedside—a blog journal, a food and exercise journal, and now, a gratitude journal.

In the past few months, I’ve noticed that the “envy dialog” in my head has become more frequent. For example, when I drive by that $800,000 house in my neighborhood with lush green grass and a beautiful, picturesque garden, I catch myself saying something like this: “Why can’t we have the money to own a beautiful house like that? Why can’t our grass look like that? I want a garden that’s perfectly manicured and cared for, too.” Of course, similar dialog enters my head when I spot a thin, beautiful woman or a happy-go-lucky married couple in my presence as well. The envy dialog, of course, belittles all the wonderful things I have in my life and often dampens my mood.

This week, I started a Gratitude Journal so I could minimize or even stop all the envy dialog in my head. Since I don’t have much time (like really, who does?), I simply jot down three things at night that make me thankful. Since it’s easy to get into a pattern of writing the obvious, I try to be more detailed in my journal. For example, instead of saying, “I’m thankful for my little boy,” I say, “I’m thankful for my little boy’s adorable, raspy laugh.” By looking at details, I find that I become more appreciative. It also makes me learn that I have so much more to be thankful for than I ever imagined. I end up feeling much more fulfilled in the end. After all, I don’t just have a 23 month old boy; I have a boy with an adorable little laugh, a sweet disposition, a melt-your-heart smile, and squeezable baby thighs. (I can name a lot more, but I’m saving it for additional entries in my gratitude journal.)

In the few days that I’ve been keeping one, I’ve noticed a substantial difference in my attitude. I’ve started recognizing the little everyday blessings in my life that I’ve often ignored or overlooked. (In other words, I’m finally seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty.) With this new attitude, my stress level has lowered, and I’ve been walking around with a lighter heart.

When my little boy is older, I’m going to teach him about keeping a gratitude journal too. In the beginning, I will help write the words for him, but as he gets older, he will be able to take pride in being able to keep one for himself. Sure, some of his entries might sound like, “I’m thankful for Blue's Clues, the color blue, and my favorite blanket,” but isn’t that the cutest, and, isn’t that exactly the point? Yes, I’m thankful for all those things too because it means that we have the gift of sight to be able to see Blue's Clues and the color blue, and the gift of touch and emotion to be able to feel the warm blanket and associate it with both the comfort and security of (yet another blessing) a warm, loving, home.

Friday Fun Flick-Around and Around We Go

7.23.2010

This month was my little boy’s first experience on a carnival ride. I wanted to try him on the little cars, but the carnival we chose didn’t have them. After some deliberation, my husband and I finally decided to try the Merry-Go-Round. After all, what kid doesn’t like a horse? Well, evidently our Lil’ Lewie, that’s who.
The first clip, which I think is pretty funny, shows my little boy going around three times on his horse. Every time he passes by me, you can hear my high-pitched voice go an octave higher as I start yelling, "Hi Lewie! Hi Lewie!" Then, there's silence until he passes by again (sound familiar?) The only one who’s excited is my husband who is waving to me like it’s his first ride. Lil’ Lewie, on the other hand, is staring blankly in front of him, expressionless.

In the second clip, after one more time of going around, my little boy decides he doesn’t want to be on the horse anymore. So, for the rest of the ride, my husband is holding a less than thrilled kid. So much for getting this exciting moment on film. I mean, we did, but it didn’t exactly turn out the way we expected. I wish they had those darn little cars… Oh well, there's always a next time.





Friday Blog Hop

I'm so excited to be participating in several blog hops again this Friday. I love reading new blogs and developing new friendships along the way. I also love sharing experiences and commenting. Thank you for visiting my blog. Happy Friday!




Oh Those Summer Days of Craft Fairs

7.22.2010

There’s something to be said for going to a craft fair on a sunny, summer, Sunday afternoon.

Even before Lil’ Lewie was born, my mom and I loved attending fairs. We’d plan to attend at least one per month, but sometimes we’d have an opportunity to treat ourselves to a few more. Most of my favorite local ones follow a theme. For example, every year, we attend the same Dogwood Festival, Strawberry Festival, and Pumpkin Festival near us. Another favorite, which is probably the largest and most beautiful craft fair I’ve ever attended, is the Annual Stowe Foliage Arts Festival located in Stowe, Vermont. Being more than five hours away, we only managed to go to this festival once, but it had the most stunning assortment of handmade treasures, ranging anywhere from $10 jewelry to $400 silk blouses. The food choices from all the vendors here were organic (not something you see everyday), and all the “plastic” utensils (forks, spoons, knives, and even straws) were made out biodegradable material.


This past week, we attended the annual New England Craft Fair located on the Milford Green. Lil’ Lewie (my 23 month old son) loves attending these events with us, and he agreeably sat in his stroller while I pushed him around to the various booths. Like all craft fairs, this one didn’t disappoint. Items ranged from gorgeous jewelry, to beautiful ceramic pieces, to very unique crafts such as hand painted gourd birdhouses and whimsical pocketbooks made out of women’s designer shorts.




My favorite item, which I had to buy, was a wall hanging made of four letters that spell out the word LOVE. Each letter is a photograph of something either found in nature or in architecture that looks like the letter. For example, the “O” in LOVE is a picture of an oval shaped window from an old stone building of some sort. While I chose a wall hanging that was already made, other customers chose “customized” words, which were spelled and put together on the spot.


After a few short hours of strolling lightheartedly from table to table, we decided it was time to cool off with an old-fashioned glass of lemonade under a tree before returning home. Oh, there’s nothing quite like going to a craft fair in mid July to explore precious treasurers under the warm, glowing sun.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Clues that Your Life has been Overrun by a Toddler

7.20.2010

There’s no question. My life has completely turned upside down and inside out since having a little one in the house. During my “pre-mommy” days, I could wake up whenever I wanted, buy whatever I wanted (within reason), wear whatever I wanted, and take plenty of time for myself. Now, let’s just say, things are different. I have much less sleep, money, or free time. I’m not complaining. I’m just stating the facts.

I still have some single, childless friends who don’t get it. “What do you do all day?” one of my friends asked naively when she found out I resigned from my full-time job to stay at home with my son. She, like so many other singletons, imagined me watching Dr. Phil all day while stuffing Bon Bons in my mouth--(remember those?) Not quite. She may never understand the true meaning of motherhood until she’s placed in our position one day. For the rest of us who know what it is, this top ten list is for you. Enjoy.

10. You’re constantly relying on Febreze and Glade Candles to cover up the “poopy smell” in your house.

9. Every time you open up the car door, you leave a trail of Cheerios behind you.

8. Both your short term and long term memory are fried. On dome days, you literally have to do the math in your head to remember how old you are.

7. You start whistling “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “The Alphabet Song” while working at the office. (Have you ever noticed that these two songs, along with "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep," have the same melody?)

6. Your shopping spree at Macy’s has now been replaced with a big day out to the local Freecycle, Goodwill, and consignment stores in your area.

5. Getting “primped up” means showering and putting on deodorant.

4. You’ve discovered that talking to yourself aloud, either at home or in public, helps curb the ‘Momnesia.’ “Hmmm, do I need to buy lettuce and tomatoes today? What do I have in the fridge at home?”

3. You secretly start recording episodes of Max and Ruby and SpongeBob SquarePants because you want to see them.

2. When hosting a dinner party, you catch yourself cutting up tiny, bite-sized pieces for your guests.

1. Every article of clothing in your closet has a “mystery stain” on it.

I have one more special bonus up my sleeve:
Wooing and foreplay has been reduced to Daddy helping out with the kids. If Daddy did, then he’s so getting some, and if he didn’t, well…better luck next time.

Tuesday Blog Hop

It's so much fun to read and follow new peoples' blogs.
If you decide to become a new follower through Tuesday Tag Along, please leave me a message, and I'll happily follow you back. It's so important to support each other, and it's even more fun to make new friendships in the process!

Tuesday Tag-Along


Happy Tuesday! If you have a chance, please stop by my Top Ten Tuesday post, Ten Clues that Your Life has been Overrun by a Toddler!

Monday's Mommy Moment: My Secret Stash

7.19.2010

Me: "What is Lil' Lewie eating?"

Husband: "I think it's a strawberry breakfast bar. Why?"

Me: "Did you give it to him?"

Husband: "No, I thought you did."

Me: "No."

I examined the food in his little hands and confirmed it was, in fact, a breakfast bar. How did he get one? I wondered, scratching my head. The last time I gave him one was for breakfast. I watched him as he ate more and then very descretely placed the rest back in between his books.


Me: "Why I can't believe it! Our little boy has a secret stash!"

I looked in between the books and then noticed that his sippy cup of milk was there too. I giggled. I guess sometimes we all need a secret place to enjoy.

Mommy and Me Monday

7.18.2010

Today I decided to join Mommy & Me Monday, hosted by Krystyn at Really Are You Serious?


Mommy and Me Monday at Really, Are You Serious?
Hosted by Krystyn

The requirement for this blog hop is that I need to post a picture of my little guy and me. I love this concept for a couple of reasons.

1. It reminds me of my Monday's Mommy Moment, where I use Monday to talk about a special mommy moment that took place during the week (so I don't forget all the cute things my little boy does...)

2. It forces me to move from behind the camera to in front of it. (I must admit that lately there's been more photos of my husband with Lil' Lewie than me because I'm always the one thinking about taking the pictures.)

I'm looking forward to meeting everyone from Mommy & Me Monday. I always enjoy reading new blogs, and I can't wait to see Mommy & Me pictures. One day these pictures will be more precious to us than we could ever imagine!



Here I am swinging with Lil' Lewie on my lap. We are at a playground near my house that has flooring made from tire mulch. (You can read more about this playground at my Grumpy Mamas Club post.) He's 23 months old and 35 lbs! I told my husband that when I'm waiting for Lil' Lewie at the bottom of the slide, I feel like I have to stop a 35 lb. cannonball aiming directly for me. It takes quite some muscle power to catch him--I don't understand why my arms still look so wimpy.

Lil' Lewie truly takes after my own heart. My mom said that I'd spend hours upon hours on my swing set in our backyard. When we go to the playground, my lil' guy does the same thing. He heads for the swings and doesn't look back. On some days, I've timed pushing him for close to two hours!

Happy National Ice Cream Day (Learn about Fun Facts and Dairy Free Alternatives)

In 1984, President Ronald Regan declared July as National Ice Cream Month. He further declared that the third Sunday in July would be National Ice Cream Day. While not everyone is aware of this day, there are some places that turn it into a major celebration. For example, Philadelphia just celebrated its 4th Annual Ultimate Ice Cream Festival on Saturday, July 17 at the Reading Terminal, which featured ice cream eating contests and free giveaways of Bassetts Ice Cream.

Consequently, Baskin Robbins decided to use this celebration as a time to announce their discontinuation—that’s right…their retirement—of five signature flavors. Listed in no particular order, they are Caramel Praline Cheesecake (1970), Campfire S'mores (1975), Apple Pie a La Mode (1976), Superfudge Truffle (2007), and French Vanilla (1945), one of the company’s longest standing flavors. The flavors are being retired in order to introduce five new flavors later this year. Some other flavors that have been retired in recent decades include 'Miami Ice' from the 1980s and 'Beatlenut' from the 1960s. (Check out CNN's article.)

Ice cream, of course, is made from cream (dairy), which is blended with other flavorings and sweeteners. Ice cream has a light and fluffy texture because of the whipping process. Thus, it is said that up to 60% of the volume of a container of ice cream is air.

In recent years, I discovered that I actually have a mild milk allergy, and my son, unfortunately, has one as well. While ice cream is still my favorite treat, my son’s milk allergy has made me look into other forms of “ice cream type” desserts as well. Thus, I have compiled a list of other frozen desserts (along with their possible health benefits) that may be worth trying.

Gelato
Gelato typically does not have the same amount of butter fat that is found in most regular ice creams. In the United States, ice cream must have a minimum of 10% butter fat; gelato contains less. A few other differences between gelato and ice cream is that gelato contains less air whipped into the product over American ice creams, and it is typically displayed/served at a slightly warmer temperature. Gelato is sometimes preferred over regular ice cream because it contains less fat and calories.

Sorbetto or Sorbet
Sorbet is a frozen dessert that is made from fruit purée and contains no milk. Thus, sorbet is usually preferred because it contains less calories, little to no fat, and is lactose free.

Sherbet
Sherbet is a fruit product similar to sorbet, but milk is added for creaminess. By law, it can contain no more that 2% butterfat. Thus, it has slightly more calories and fat than sorbet but less than ice cream and gelato.

Frozen Yogurt
Frozen yogurt has been around awhile and has dramatically improved in flavor since it was first introduced in the 1970's. Frozen yogurt is typically viewed to be a healthier alternative to ice cream. First, the yogurt contains enzymes that assist in breaking down dairy, and therefore, some people who are lactose intolerant can eat it without problems. It also has high levels of protein and minerals without the same amount of fat and calories found in regular ice cream. Frozen yogurt, still however, contains dairy and can be relatively high in calories. Stonyfield Farm has organic low fat and no fat varieties in flavors such as Gotta have Vanilla, After Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Fudge Swirl, Gotta have Java, Crème Caramel, Minty Chocolate Chip, and Cookies ‘n Cream. If you register with Stonyfield Farm, you can receive free coupons.

Goat’s Milk Ice Cream
Relatively new to the market, goat’s milk ice cream is favored for its superiority in protein and calcium (higher than most ice cream). Goat’s milk is also considered to be easier to digest than cow’s milk. Like frozen yogurt, some people who are lactose intolerant, can eat it without problems. Laloo's ® is made with 100% goat's milk. According to its website, “Laloo's ® rivals gelato, but with less than half the fat.”

Soy Milk Ice Cream
Soy milk ice cream is a great dairy free/lactose free dessert that is also certified vegan, cholesterol free and trans fat free. Soy is considered to have many health benefits; however, some people are allergic or intolerant to soy. (There has also been some other controversy linked to soy from reputable sources.) Nevertheless, soy milk ice cream is a popular non dairy alternative; and therefore, there are many brands and flavors. Two popular brands on the market today are Turtle Mountain’s SO Delicious and Soy Dream. Both brands promote numerous flavors that are USDA Certified Organic. Soy Dream also has a frozen dessert similar to ice cream sandwiches. Coupons are available for Turtle Mountain’s products by registering at their site.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Coconut milk ice cream, with its smooth and creamy texture, is a dairy free/lactose free, cholesterol free, and soy-free alternative to ice cream. Purely Decadent by Turtle Mountain has a coconut milk ice cream that is “dramatically lower in fat, calories, and sugar than most premium ice creams” because it is sweetened with agave syrup. It is made with organic ingredients and is gluten free and certified vegan. Flavors include Chocolate, Coconut, Cookie Dough, Mint Chip, and Vanilla Bean. Coupons are available for Turtle Mountain’s products by registering at their site.

Rice Milk Ice Cream
Rice milk ice cream is another frozen non-dairy dessert (lactose free) that boasts of no refined sweeteners, no cholesterol, and no soy. Rice Dream is a leading brand that is currently marketing its “new and improved” taste with six flavors ranging from the standard Vanilla and Strawberry to Carob Almond, Cocoa Marble Fudge, Cookies n Dream, Mint Carob Chip, Neapolitan, Orange Vanilla Swirl, and Swiss Almond. This line also makes other frozen desserts including Chocolate Pies, Mocha Pies, Vanilla Bars with Chocolate Coating, Bites, and Vanilla Nutty Bars.

Almond Milk Ice Cream
Almond milk ice cream has all the same benefits of rice milk ice cream except almond milk is said to provide “an excellent source of Antioxidants Vitamins A and E.” Almond Dream almond milk is also fortified with Vitamins B 12, D, and calcium. New to the market, the most common flavors are chocolate and vanilla; however, Almond Dream also makes a frozen dessert known as Almond Dream Bites too.

Hempmilk Ice Cream
Hempmilk ice cream, similar to coconut milk ice cream, is prized for being dairy free/lactose free, cholesterol free, soy-free, gluten free, trans fat free, and certified vegan. The difference is that this ice cream is meant to have certain healthful/nutritional benefits as well. Living Harvest has a hemp milk ice cream called Tempt. The website says, “At Living Harvest, our essential foods center around one key ingredient - hemp seeds, one of nature's most perfect foods. Hemp seeds contain all 10 Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) - the building blocks of protein. They're also rich in naturally-balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's). Additionally, hemp is high in magnesium, iron, potassium, fiber and phytonutrients, plus natural antioxidants like vitamin E.” Finally, eating this product is considered earth-friendly since hemp is “a renewable resource (requiring neither pesticides nor herbicides).” Tempt currently has five different flavors ranging from the standard Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Fudge, and Mint Chip to the unique Coffee Biscotti, and Coconut Lime. (Vanilla Bean, Coffee Biscotti and Chocolate Fudge are tree-nut free.)

Finally, if you don’t have a milk allergy, I say splurge! Look for a local National Ice Cream Day event by you, and if there isn’t one, then treat yourself to an old fashioned ice cream sundae at home or out on a car ride.

P.S. Get ready for National Ice Cream Sandwich Day on August 2nd!

Friday Fun Flick: Happily Clean!

7.16.2010

My little boy loves life. Virtually everyday, he wakes up chattering a mile a minute with a huge grin on his face. At twenty-three months, my little boy still prefers his own language to ours. Every now and then, he will appease us by trying to mimic one of our words, but at the moment, he's perfectly content speaking his own gibberish. He also enjoys experimenting with his voice by making high pitched squeals. Everyone tells me that these days won't last long, so like always, I decided to capture the moment.

Below is some rare footage (not really) of my little boy squealing away after taking a bath. To him, every event is a cause for celebration, and so here, he's celebrating his clean little tush.

Friday Blog Hops

I've decided to join a few new blog hops this Friday. I love having an opportunity to meet new bloggers this way. Feel free to join me at the following listed below.





friday-follow




Baby Modeling Scam Revealed

7.15.2010

Last fall, a young woman stopped me in the mall and asked if I ever thought about having my son model for catalogs and TV commercials. “Yes,” I answered skeptically. She gave me a short application to fill out and said someone would be in touch with me to schedule an appointment.

“Is there a fee to join your company?” I asked.

“No. It’s completely free,” she answered.

“Do they want you to pay for pictures or a portfolio?” I asked.

"No, there’s no obligation to do anything,” she answered in the sweetest of voices.

Something wasn’t right, I concluded. It sounded too good to be true. I left the mall forgetting about the encounter and wasn’t reminded again until that following Sunday morning when a call came through from InterFace Talent.

“Are you Lewie Jayden’s mother?” a gentleman asked in a smooth jazz radio voice.

“Yes. Who’s this?”

“I’m Jay from InterFace Talent. How are you today?”

“Oh. Before we get too involved here, I have to tell you that I’ve done some modeling before, and I know that a lot of agencies want you to pay for their services. We don’t have money to pay for pictures, portfolios…”

“No worries. The 45 minute consultation is completely free. There are no fees, and you do not have to pay to use our services.”

I was still a little skeptical, but I let him proceed to talk me into an interview at 6:30 p.m. for the following day.

“You and your husband need to bring two forms of identification to the visit and a few photos of your son,” he added.

“Gee, I haven’t developed any recent photos of my son in a while. They’re all on the computer. Maybe I should change the appointment for the following Monday.”

“No worries,” he answered. “Any photo will do. You can just print the pictures from your computer.”

“Still, maybe I should wait until the following Monday.”

“No. Tomorrow’s fine,” he said, practically cutting me off. “I’ll give you directions. If you come a little later than 6:30, don’t worry. We’ll wait for you. Just know that if you cancel this appointment, there will be no other opportunities.”

At this point, a little red flag should have popped up, but it didn’t. For once in my life, I wanted to be convinced that this “marketing company” was different. I wanted to be convinced that it was reputable and not a scam.

As we drove to the silver, modern, high-rise building in South Norwalk, Connecticut, my husband continued to shake his head: “Are you sure this whole thing isn’t a waste of our time?”

“I hope not,” I responded. “If it is, I’ll owe you a million apologies on the way home.”

Apparently, my husband felt that I owed him some other “favors” as well.

Like a little trooper, baby Lewie endured the 50 minute drive without a complaint. We unfastened him from the car seat and sat him in his small stroller before walking into the large waiting room that was surrounded by big glass windows. As my husband strolled Little Lewie to a nearby seat, I reported to the receptionist and filled out another, lengthier form. As I looked around, I noticed that there were at least ten other families in the room with their kids, ranging from a few weeks old to early high school age. The guy with the jazz radio voice made it sound like we had an exclusive appointment, but apparently, there were a lot of families that had 6:30 appointments.

After a half an hour wait, a sleezy looking Italian guy greeted us with a pearly white Colgate smile. “Is this Lewie Jayden?” he asked bending down to Little Lewie’s height in the stroller. “You’re so cute!” He stood back up. “Hi Dad. Hi Mom. My name is Michael.”
We followed him into this ultra modern office with super high ceilings. “So, what do you guys think about seeing Lewie in commercials and in print?” he asked, still sporting his superficial grin.

“We’re both comfortable with the idea as long as Little Lewie gets to maintain his childhood,” my husband answered.

“Oh, of course. No worries. My job is not to make anyone famous. My job is to get Lewie a few jobs to help you save for college,” he answered, sitting very smug at his desk.

He asked us for our two forms of identification and the photos of Little Lewie. Since I still didn’t have the time to develop any recent pictures, I brought in his JC Penny portraits that were taken after his first birthday.

“Wow!” he exclaimed, looking at the pictures. “You have one cute kid. He could easily get work. I bet you don’t have a single bad picture of him.”

“You’re right,” my husband and I explained. (We’re not modest people when it comes to our son.)

“In fact, I bet you get compliments about him wherever you go,” he said, sounding a little rehearsed.

“Why yes, we do,” my husband and I agreed again.

Michael proceeded to tell us a little (I mean a very little) about the company and then showed us pictures of children, supposedly represented by InterFace Talent, that got work with Toys R Us, Babies R Us, and even Jennifer Lopez.

“You see all the pages in this book?” he asked while flipping through his binder. “This is all the work we’ve gotten for kids like Lewie just for the month of September alone. You see, 80% of the clients we represent get work.”

I didn’t find the binder or the 80% statistic believable, but I let him continue.

“All we need to do is take pictures of Little Lewie and have comp cards made up of him. Then we send them to the companies, and he gets work.”

Then, looking as if he were about to share a secret with us, he slid a “mysterious” piece of paper onto his desk and pushed it in our direction. “Here are the prices for the photo shoot,” he explained. I wouldn’t recommend the cheapest one for $550. I would go with the Deluxe package, which gives you the opportunity to take pictures of him in three different outfits.”

I looked at the Deluxe Package and noticed it cost $1000. There were other packages that were more expensive as well.

“I’m not prepared to make an important decision like this right now,” I answered. “Can we take some information home with us and then decide if this is something we would like to do?” I asked.

“I’m sorry, but you have to make the decision now,” he answered. “We don’t send these sheets home with anyone.”

Right then, I knew something was WRONG. What reputable company makes their clients decide to work for them right on the spot, and why were these damn photo shoot price sheets so secretive?

“I’m sorry, but I’m not prepared to make a decision like this now. In fact, to be honest, we really can’t afford an investment like this at the moment.”

“Well I’m sure you could make it work financially if you really wanted it. I see people in worse financial situations that are able to work something out.”

“I’m sorry, but we’re not prepared to pay for something like this now.”

“Tell me,” he said, glaring directly at me. (This time his Colgate smile had disappeared completely.) “You said you did modeling before. You know that this business comes with a price. You know that you need to pay for photos to market yourself. Why even bother coming?”

“Yes, I do know,” I answered, “and I was scammed quite a bit on paying for photos like this. Your representative who called me yesterday told me that there were no photo fees, so that’s why I came today. I figured you collected your portion of the revenue once you found us work.”

“Well, the agencies you work for will take a certain percentage of the revenue…So, you mean to tell me that you’re going to deny your son the opportunity of a lifetime? I mean you spent this kind of money on yourself, right?”

Okay, so now this Michael was getting personal and downright nasty. First of all, I tried modeling before I had a family or any real financial responsibilities of my own. Secondly, I wasn’t denying my son the opportunity for anything. Who the hell was this greasy Italian model wanna-be?

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it that way. He’s got lots of opportunities and a great future ahead of him because he has two parents who love him very much.”

Before we left, he actually offered to knock down the $1,000 price to $550. “I’ll tell you what? Because I believe your son can make it big in this industry, I’m willing to have our company invest in half of the price, so all you have to pay is $550,” he said, looking rather uncomfortable.

At that point, my husband and I knew this whole thing had to be a scam. I mean really. All of a sudden, this guy is bargaining with us like a used-car salesman. How fair is it that we could get away with paying $550 while other parents would be scammed into spending the entire $1000, plus the extra $250 for the composite cards? We looked at each other and shook our heads. “Sorry, we need to go.”

I had to blog about this because it makes me mad that so many innocent people become prey to these companies. As an adult, I had at least three different companies scam me out of my money. One company went bankrupt before they even had a chance to market my very expensive comp cards. Another company, TC Talent or TCT, took my money and found me one job for which I did not get paid. Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that I’d love to see my little munchkin’s face on the cover of American Baby Magazine, but it’s not going to happen with a company that lies and forces you to make a decision to work with them right on the spot with no guarantees of anything. Let’s form a community and put these CEO’s out of business. Anyone who becomes rich by preying off of people’s hopes and dreams should be in a small jail cell somewhere watching other people live the dreams he/she wants but cannot have.

Top Ten Tuesday: Have you been abducted by clutter?

7.13.2010

Okay, so blogging and forming relationships online takes a lot of time. A lot of time that, apparently, I don’t really have. I obviously don’t want to sacrifice spending time with my little one or my hour of exercise each day. I also don’t want to sacrifice time with hubby. (He’s already saying that the blogging is interfering with our sex life.) So what’s the first thing to go? Yes, the house. I’m sorry. I know you provide shelter for us, and I’m so thankful, but I simply don’t have the time to keep up with your list of demands. And so, the clutter keeps piling up.

We all have clutter in our lives to one degree or another. It’s burdensome, it’s annoying, and it’s definitely not fung shei. In fact, many books suggest the path to true happiness (even enlightenment) is saying no to clutter and yes to organization. Like it’s that simple. I mean really…whoever subscribes to this philosophy obviously doesn’t have any kids at home. Half the clutter (in my house anyways) involves toys, batteries, diaper stuff, and laundry. If I said no to clutter, then I would have to say no to having children, and guess what, it’s too late for that!

Okay, so I don’t have any miracle remedies on how to stop the disorder and chaos in our lives. I don’t know the magic button that would tidy our homes and free our souls. So, I say, if you can’t beat it, laugh about it. Here, in no particular order, are the top ten signs that our lives have been abducted by clutter, and we are headed on the path of doom.

10) You’ve forgotten what your kitchen table looks like and can’t remember the last time you’ve eaten as a family there.

9) The game “Hide and Seek” has an entirely new meaning at your house. You make sure to hide your junk when guests come over. After they leave, you spend the next few days seeking out where the hell you hid all your stuff.

8) You need to wear a helmet every time you open the closet door.

7) You discover that you’ve washed the same laundry twice because your clean clothes sat in a disheveled heap for weeks.

6) Going through the expiration dates of all the pill bottles in your medicine cabinet is like playing an advanced game of Sudoku.

5) Every time you sit on the couch, a Monopoly playing piece gets wedged up your butt.

4) You can’t exit the house without tripping on a SpongeBob SquarePants rubber lawn dart.

3) You find that your kid signed his autograph three years ago in a dust mound that’s formed on your bookcase. “Lewie was here ‘07.”

2) Friends and family members begin apologizing for your own mess. What they say: “Oh, I’m so sorry to be pestering you. Maybe this isn’t a good time.” Translation: “Holy Toledo, it looks like a cyclone just ripped the house apart! We’ll come back when the mess is gone and the house has been fumigated.”

1) You’re constantly ticking off cashiers at Wal-Mart by insisting they honor your expired coupons.

Oh, and this one is a bonus:

Your neighbors have called an intervention on you because they think you're a hoarder and your house is a fire hazard.

Follow Me Back Tuesday

Join me for Follow Me Back Tuesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Survey Junkie, Little Yaya’s,
Review Retreat , and Boobies, Babies & A Blog.


BWS tips button

Monday's Mommy Moment: My Little Helper

7.12.2010

This week, Lil' Lewie has really become Mommy's Little Helper. In the kitchen, he helps me throw away garbage, put kitchen items away in drawers, and put dirty dishes in the sink. (I think he'd actually help me wash the dishes too if the sink wasn't so high.)

During our day to day routine, he likes to help me sweep, vacuum, and even do laundry. "Here Lil' Lewie, will you put this wet sock in the dryer for Mommy? Oh, thank you so much!"
When I reach to grab something out of the pantry, he takes pride in opening the door for me and then shutting it closed when I'm done. (Of course, I'm always checking to make sure his little fingers are out of the way.)

When I'm ready to go outside, he brings me my shoes. Then when we're outside, he graciously takes on the role of my little garden buddy where he assists me with weeding, turning on the hose, and watering my flowers with his little watering can.

The joy and excitement he has in wanting to be my little helper melts my heart. I understand that kids like to imitate us at this age; however, sometimes, I think he likes to help because it makes him feel important, perhaps even empowered. (I know I certainly cheer him on when he does anything to help out. To me, it not only instills an excellent work ethic at a very young age, but it also motivates him to want to help others. Of course, it will also encourage him to help me when he's older, which let's face it, I'll take whatever help I can get!)

Anyways, my favorite mommy moment this week occurred just last night while the three of us (Lil' Lewie, me, and hubby) were all relaxing and watching TV in the living room. As Lil' Lewie appeared to be falling asleep on the couch, my husband and I decided to give each other mini backrubs. When it was my turn for a backrub, Lil' Lewie, got up, watched Daddy for a few minutes, and then climbed off the couch to rub my back too. His little hand movements were the same short, awkward strokes he uses to pet animals. After petting me five or six times, he walked around to greet me, leaned forward, and gave me a big hug and kiss. Then he returned to his comfortable position on the couch. "We have such a sweet little boy," I said gushing to my husband.

"Thank you, Lil Lewie," I said to my little boy. "Thank you for taking care of Mommy like I take care of you. I needed that."

National Hop-A-Park Day: Swap Screen Time with Green Time

7.10.2010

Today is National Hop-A-Park Day, but sadly it doesn’t get very much attention. I checked out my own state of Connecticut and didn’t see anything special being done to celebrate this event.

Nevertheless, the month of July is known as National Park and Recreation Month, and there’s never been a better time to enjoy the great outdoors. In fact, according to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Study, the average child between the age of 8 and 18 spends 7 hours and 38 minutes per day “consuming media, such as watching TV, playing video games, and using a computer.” I love technology just as much as the rest of us, but I believe there needs to be a healthy balance. Being outside helps children learn about nature and themselves on the most basic, fundamental level. It also has tremendous physical and health benefits. The National Wildlife Association has composed a list of these benefits entitled Parents: 10 Reasons Kids Need Fresh Air. This article is a reminder to all of us as to how fresh air can lead to stronger bones and lower the risk for obesity, cancer, and depression to name a few.

So, in honor of Hop-a-Park Day and the National Park and Recreation Month, I have composed a list of activities that we can do in the great outdoors. Please feel to add to the list.

  • Bike, skateboard, or bring a scooter

  • Bird watch

  • Boating activities such as, canoeing, paddling, kayaking, rafting, tubing

  • Camp

  • Catch fireflies

  • Cloud watch

  • Collect rocks and/or seashells

  • Fish

  • Grill

  • Have a family day

  • Have a picnic

  • Hike
  • Make a sandcastle/play in the sand

  • Make S’mores

  • See an outdoor movie

  • See an outdoor play (A park close to us hosts a Shakespeare in the Park event every summer.)

  • Start a nature scrapbook

  • Stargaze

  • Swim
  • Visit gardens and/or start one of your own

  • Walk and/or take a nature walk

And finally, if anyone finds these articles and this information interesting, you might also be interested in checking out...

Have a great weekend “Swapping Screen Time for Green Time!”

Friday Fun Flick: Fans are Spooky

7.09.2010

This week, I decided to capture my little boy's fan obsession. Right now, New England is in the midst of a heat wave where the temperatures have easily climbed to 90 and 100 degrees everyday. Fortunately, we do have air-conditioning, but sometmes a fan helps too!

My poor Lil' Lewie has never seen a fan before, and it's become his fascination for the week. It started out where he would only look at it from a distance, but then, as his confidence grew, he started pressing the buttons. He enjoyed pressing the buttons until he learned that the fan oscillates back and forth. When it first started moving from side to side, my poor little boy freaked out! Even now, a couple of days later, he still thinks it's spooky. In this clip, I couldn't catch his outright fear, but you can certainly see his interest and a little apprehension at the same time.

It's a Social Parade 7/9

Please come join me for Social Parade Friday!

Smart and Trendy Moms

Fumbling through Daily Life with a Two Year-Old

7.08.2010

Today, I fumbled out of bed, completely unaware of the day or time. It took me awhile to remember who I was or what the plan was for the day. I fumbled for my alarm clock. It read 6:15 a.m. Not bad. Since my little boy still appeared to be sleeping, I might actually have a chance to do my twenty minute Pilates workout. Then, maybe, just maybe, I can even fumble around with Twitter and send out some interesting tweets.

The excitement grew as I fumbled down the stairs and grabbed my Pilates mat. I was just about to start my DVD when I heard a slight moan coming from the upstairs nursery. Would my husband be willing to help me? I glanced over and saw that he was still sleeping soundly in his recliner. (The poor guy was having back issues last night. I heard him fumble out of bed and go downstairs to get comfortable.)

The moan sounded again. Crap! Do I just try to fumble through the exercises and wait until the moans get louder, or do I go upstairs to rescue my hungry, little boy? I fumbled for an answer.

When the moans turned to laughter, I couldn’t resist. I had to pick up my little boy. He was in a good mood and eager to start the day. “I’m here, Lil’ Lewie. Mom’s coming in to get you.” I bent over the crib and fumbled to pick him up along with his favorite blanky that he was not ready to relinquish yet.

“Hi Lewie. Good morning Sunshine!” He laughed as I fumbled to kiss his forehead a gazillion times. “Let’s go downstairs so Mama can warm up your milk and change your diaper.” We fumbled down the stairs together as he likes to practice walking down the stairs and using the railing like a big boy. “Don’t get ahead of me,” I reminded him as his little feet fumbled to find each stair. He needed mom’s support for balance.

As we reached the bottom step, I gave Lil’ Lewie permission to wake his daddy in the recliner (I’m such a good wife) while I fumbled to find Lewie’s milk in the refrigerator. While warming up the milk, I picked up Lil’ Lewie and brought him to our make-shift changing table. He squirmed and squirmed, hoping to win the struggle. Although I fumbled, I was not letting him get out of this one. He had a big, nasty, poopy diaper. One fumble, and the Hershey squirts would be all over the table, me, and possibly the carpet. “You have to stay still, Lil’ Lewie,” I said calmly as my right arm fumbled for the baby wipes and my left arm fumbled to keep his body still. I wiped up the poop as quickly as possible while fumbling to get his diaper cream and a clean diaper at the same time. This wasn’t a balancing act; this was a fumbling act, as there was nothing graceful about the struggle. “Keep still,” I said, fumbling to fasten the last Velcro strap.

Once we were done, Lil’ Lewie eagerly ran into the living room. He knew his morning routine. Mommy would place him in his high chair while he drank his milk and watched his favorite morning cartoons. “Come here,” I directed Lewie while fumbling with the straps to the high chair. He grabbed the remote and fumbled with the channels. “Here, let me take care of that,” I told Lewie as I fumbled to grasp the remote control from him. He knew this was one of the items in the house that he was not allowed to touch, which made him want to do it even more.

I tapped Daddy on the shoulder, waking him out of his sleep. “It’s time to go in the shower, hun,” I reminded him as I went back in the kitchen and fumbled with his lunch. There were not a lot of choices; we were out of food.

I could bore everyone with additional trivialities of daily life with a two year-old, but I’m going to stop here. Toddlers are unpredictable. They get excited, they take temper tantrums, they get stubborn, they get inquisitive, and they fumble. Until my little boy is older and doesn’t need to rely on me for everything, I fumble right along with him. We have plans to go to the park, to meet up with a play date, and to go grocery shopping later in the evening, but none of my goals for the day go exactly as planned. For now, I fumble through my days with an open mind and an open heart.

This post is for the word game, Word Up, Yo! hosted by Natalie (Mommy of a Monster), Kristin (Taming Insanity) and Liz (a belle, a bean and a chicago dog).

If you like words too, you should play along! This week's word is fumble.

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Grumpy Mamas Club

Three weeks ago, my work contract ended for the spring semester. (I’m a career counselor at a local community college). I look forward to the end of my contract because it gives me the summer (about 8 weeks) to spend with Lil’ Lewie every single day. Since my release, we’ve taken lots of day trips together, mostly to local playgrounds and parks so that my little boy can enjoy the outdoors and have a chance to socialize with other kids.

Two weeks ago, while pushing my little boy on the swings, I couldn’t help but to overhear some of the conversations taking place on the playground. I tried to hold in the laughter.

“Ricky, I told you that we’re NOT GOING ON THE SWINGS. You have swings at home. Now go play on that slide or else!”

“Laura, didn’t I say that you’re going to hurt yourself on the big swing. Now look. Mommy was right. Stop your crying.”

“Aidan, you have to share the ice-cream with your sister. If you don’t share it, you won’t be allowed to have ice-cream ever, ever, again!”

Sound familiar? Since the playground is a relatively new experience for me (my son was too young to enjoy it last summer), I was surprised by some of the yelling and threats I heard from other moms. My first reaction was, “Wow, they sure are cranky.” I started to wonder if they got enough sleep the night before, if their husbands were lazy and didn’t help them around the house, or if they just had an all around bad day. Then the wonder turned to laughter. After all, what mom tells her son that he’s not allowed to go on the swings at a playground?

Well, life has an interesting way of teaching us not to judge others. Just when I started to enter this pious mode of believing that I never get cranky with my son…the moment happened.

Yesterday I decided to take my little boy swimming at a small lake five minutes from our house. It was a playground and recreation area owned by the town next door to us, and we went there several times during the fall to check out their brand new state-of-the-art playground, complete with rubber mulch (ground-up recycled tires) used as a safety surface for the playground’s floor.

Since the temperature reached well over 100 degrees, I gladly waited until after five o’clock to bring my little one to the lake. The sun wasn’t quite as strong at this time, and I thought I could enter the park for free.

Well, as soon as I pulled into the driveway, a young college kid gladly charged me five dollars for being a non-resident. Evidently, admission into the park wasn’t free until after six o’clock at night. (Highway robbery if you ask me.) I was a little miffed, but I was still excited that Lil' Lewie and me would have a chance to enjoy the water together and cool off from this heat. Dreams of me teaching my little boy how to swim danced in my head…

I gently took Lil’ Lewie’s hand and guided him toward the beach. I laid our towel out in the sand, took out our beach toys, and placed my camera in a convenient, yet safe spot, for photo opportunities. We had just managed to get in the water to his knees (my ankles) when it happened…

He looked at me, looked back at the car, looked at me again, looked back at the car again, and then ran.

“Where are you going?” I shouted, running after my little man. I managed to grab him to lure him back into the water. “Common. We’re going to have a fun time, Lil’ Lew,” I said, bouncing him up and down in the water. “Look how fun the water is!”

Lil’ Lewie screamed, no screeched, because I forced him back into the water. The lifeguard glared at me as if I was tormenting my own son.

“Yippeeee! You’re having fun. Right, Lil’ Lew?”

My playful banter was greeted only by more tears and screaming. He enjoyed the water in the past, but this time, he had another activity in mind. Remembering this place from the fall, my smart twenty-two month old son grabbed my hand and led me right in the direction of the rubber mulch playground. I had lost my battle to the swings.

My temper flared as my little boy insisted that we were going to play on the swings in this hot 100 degree heat. I started pushing the swing and suddenly became nauseated by the fumes of this disgusting tire mulch, which seemed to be attracting even more heat beneath my feet. Horse flies swarmed around me and bit the back of my neck.

“I can’t believe we’re the only ones on this playground,” I complained out loud. “Why can’t you be like the other kids who are enjoying the water right now? This is ridiculous.”

Other comments, obscenities, flooded my mind, when it hit me. I was a Grumpy Mama. I had joined the club. I was now officially indoctrinated. Yes, I could blame the $5 charge, the heat, the rubber mulch, or the horseflies, but ultimately, I had the power to change my mood. I pouted for a few minutes in silence and then I smiled—“Mommy sounds kind of grumpy today, don’t I?” I asked Lil’ Lewie.

He looked at me from his swing and then looked past me into the horizon. Nothing was going to ruin his fun. Mommy would just have to get over herself.

Green Mom Blog Hop

7.07.2010

Do you like organic and all natural food? Do you plant your own garden? Do you recycle? Do you encourage your children to play outdoors and respect mother nature? Then please come join me in linking up to the Green Mom Blog Hop.

A Day at the Cemetery

7.06.2010

Last week it would have been my grandmother’s birthday. It’s hard to believe she’s already been gone for close to 14 years. My mom faithfully visits her grave every year on two occasions—my grandmother’s birthday and Mother’ Day.

“Can I come with you?” I asked, surprised at my own question.

“What are you going to do with Lil’ Lew?” my mom asked naively.

“Well, why can’t I bring him with me? He’ll be good.”

“Uh, okay.”

Truth be told. I don’t really like cemeteries. In the past, I never really offered to go, mostly because I’d prefer to remember my deceased relatives the way they were before they died. Going to a cemetery simply reminded me of the stark reality—I was visiting a cold, spiritless corpse buried in a box under the ground.

Upon entering the cemetery, my mom immediately set out to find my grandparents’ gravesite so she could arrange the flowers she bought by my grandmother’s stone. I quickly looked around and realized we were the only ones there, except for one woman off in a distance. Surprisingly, the cemetery looked radiant as the evening sun shimmered over the rolling hills. Hundreds of American Flags waved majestically in the wind, showcasing all of the many heroes that served our country.

“Mom, I’m going to take Lil’ Lewie out of his stroller,” I called out. “He won’t bother anyone. There really isn’t anyone here.”

I released Lil’ Lewie from the straps of the stroller and let him walk around at will. He certainly didn’t understand the meaning of the place, so to him, it was just a new location to discover. There weren’t any swings or slides, but there were flags, flowers, stuffed animals, and other trinkets decorating each of the graves.

His first instinct was to run. He trotted across graves, between them, and around trees and monuments. His laughter echoed in a distance, and I suddenly realized that I needed to keep up my pace to stay with him. (I wanted to make sure he didn’t remove anything from the gravesites.)

As he continued his exploration, he suddenly stopped as if he had found an “X” to a buried treasure chest.

“What is it Lewie?” I asked, now having fully caught up to him.

There, next to someone’s grave, were two red, white, and blue pinwheels that someone had used as decorations for the July 4th holiday. My first instinct was to tell him not to touch. After all, they weren’t his, but then I thought about it. Who did the pinwheels belong to anyways? Once we’re gone, we rid ourselves of all earthly possessions. It’s the living that holds onto these possessions as if they define our very core.

I watched Lil’ Lewie closely. He wasn’t trying to pick up or take the pinwheels; he just wanted to twirl them with his finger. He twirled and twirled until he realized that a good gust of wind could twirl them as well.

“Aren’t they pretty?” I asked Lil’ Lewie.

He shook his head and squealed in agreement.

After my mom was done tidying up the grave, we placed Lil’ Lewie back into his stroller and took a 20 minute walk around the circumference of the cemetery. There were small trees planted everywhere with plaques to commemorate loved ones. In these trees, people had placed angels, ribbons, and even chimes—one of Lewie’s favorite sounds. I positioned him so that he could reach a few of the chimes, and with glee, he rung them over and over again. I couldn’t believe how much fun he was having.

As the end of our walk drew near, I suddenly spotted a deer out of my peripheral vision grazing in a distance. I pointed to it to show my mom and Lil’Lewie. Seeing me point, its ears immediately perked up and its head stood high.

“Mom,” I asked, “didn’t Grandma love deer?”

“Yes she did,” she answered faintly.

For a full minute, the doe and I met each other’s gaze. Was it a sign from above? Was it a sign from my grandmother? It could be anyone’s guess. All I know is that Lil’ Lewie brought a glimmer of happiness and sunshine to a place that I once viewed as somber and dark.

I received the Sunshine Award!

I received my very first blog award ever. Suddenly Sandy has given me the Sunshine Award! It's such an honor. “The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world.”


Here are the rules…

1. Put the award on your blog and/or within your post.

2. Pass the award on to twelve bloggers.

3. Link to the nominees within your post.

4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and the link to the person from whom you received this award.

Suddenly Sandy, thank you so much for honoring me with the Sunshine award! You are a ray of sunshine, too!

Here are 12 blogs that I always enjoy reading that I would like to pass the Sunshine Award on to...

Mommy of a Monster (I Mean Toddler) and Infant Twins

Peace and Craziness

One Mom's Perfect Imperfections

Super Healthy Kids

Momma Go Round

Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mom

Nirvana Mamma

Mommypants

Surviving Motherhood...barely

Living the Scream

Wabisabi Mama

The Pretty Bee

Independence

7.04.2010

Right now, my twenty-two month old is just starting to grasp the notion of independence. Ever since he started walking at 14 months (yes, he was a late bloomer in that area), he’s been testing the limits to see how far he can go from his mom and dad’s reach. When his mind is made up to do something and we prevent him, he struggles with us. He either pulls or tugs to get out of our reach or he goes into a full blown tantrum with head hitting the floor, feet kicking, and lungs screeching.

In his little world, Mom and Dad are the people who love him most, but we’re also the tyrants—the ones that keep him from being able to experience full fledged freedom. His little mind is incapable of rationalizing why Mom and Dad set rules and boundaries. Why can’t I jump on the couch? Why can’t I run in the road? Why can’t I play with this toy that I found on the beach?

Independence, obviously for us, has a different meaning. As a kid and a teenager, I never understood the importance of the concept. After all, I was born in a country and in a family situation where I could get an education, go to college, pursue a career of my choice, marry a person that I love, and have a family of my own to provide for, love, and nurture. I was raised with these values/principles and assumed everyone had them.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized these “inalienable rights” weren’t everyone’s reality. I slowly learned that even United States citizens didn’t always live the same reality that I did.

“What do you mean you can’t marry someone unless they are Indian?” I asked my best friend.

“My family wants me to marry someone from my own race, religion, and culture,” she answered. “If I disobey their wishes, they’ll be highly disappointed in me, and I will have disgraced the family.”

“But I thought you said that you didn’t like Indian men?”

“Well, I’m not that attracted to them, but my family has arranged a few dates for me, and well, you never know. Maybe I’ll find someone that I like.”

I had other friends or knew of other people (mostly women) who were discouraged from going to college or pursuing their dream career. They, too, were born and raised in the United States, but their families grew up in cultures where women were not encouraged to be independent or to do things for themselves. I was shocked.

Today I hold my “inalienable rights” that I grew up with to be dear and sacred to my heart. I feel blessed and lucky to have been given the opportunity to go to college, to pursue a career of my choice, to marry someone I love, and to start a family of my own. I was never told what to do or discouraged from doing something because it would bring shame to my family. I was never sent to jail or threatened to be killed (as some people are in other countries) because I chose to pursue my dreams or worship a different God.

Instead, I have freedom. I have opportunity. I have the ability to pursue my dreams. In essence, I have the ability to create the kind of life that I want for myself—I can choose my own destiny.

My son doesn’t understand this type of independence just yet. He won’t for a while. Right now his freedom will be limited until he’s old enough to make safe, mature, responsible choices on his own. Even when he’s reached this magic age, I hope he will still consider consulting his older and wiser mom and dad for advice, but ultimately, his life will then become his own journey to lead. He will have his own opportunities, his own chances, his own dreams, and his own destiny. At that point, I hope he will understand what it means to be independent, the same way we do today. Because for so many, it’s not an “inalienable right” as it should be, it’s a privilege we’ve been afforded by living in a country and being born to a family that understands its value.

Friday Fun Flick: Let's Celebrate National Ice Cream Month

7.02.2010

In observance of National Ice Cream Month, today’s Friday Fun Flick is a video of my little guy eating his very first ice cream cone. (He was able to enjoy this special treat just about a month ago while we vacationed in the Bahamas.)



My son has a milk allergy, so this treat is rare, but he does eat frozen yogurt from time to time, which doesn’t seem to bother him. If anyone’s wondering, YES there is a National Ice Cream Day too, which this year lands on July 18th. Please visit my blog again on this day as we’ll have a special tribute to this very important dessert!



You’ve Gotta Love Bedtime Rituals

7.01.2010

“My little guy goes to bed at 7 p.m. every night and doesn’t wake up until 7 in the morning,” my friend bragged during our sons’ scheduled play date. Okay, she didn’t actually brag, but I perceived it as bragging because I so wanted that to be my reality.

“Really?” I asked, trying not to sound envious.

“Yes, how about you? What time does your son go to bed?” she asked.

“Well, it varies. I haven’t gotten him on a schedule just yet,” I answered vaguely.

For the life of me, I wasn’t going to actually tell her that my twenty-two month old stays awake until 11:30 p.m. at night.

You see, once my little boy goes to bed, he has an inner alarm clock that tells him to wake up in nine hours. (Of course, sometimes he wakes up repeatedly at night if he’s teething or has a bad belly—that’s another story.) Nine hours isn’t bad…it just means that if he goes to bed at 7 p.m., he will wake up for 4 a.m. If he goes to bed at 10 p.m., then he won’t wake up until 7 a.m. You get the drift.

Since we don’t want Lil’ Lewie to wake up too early (especially since it’s summer, and I have the time off to be with him), I’ve been very lax with his bedtime routine. I pretty much let him play, play, play, until he’s either interested in relaxing in our arms or finding a place on the couch or floor to make himself comfortable. On some nights, it feels like my husband or I fall asleep on the couch watching TV first before our little guy actually shows an interest in winding down. Then, once he does fall asleep, we whisk him away upstairs to his crib. It’s a good way to avoid unnecessary complaining or whining, but it’s bad for creating a schedule. Waiting for our little guy to fall asleep by himself downstairs takes a lot of patience, and it can happen as soon as 9 p.m. or as late as 11:30 p.m.

After watching an episode on Dr. Phil and doing some reading on my own, I discovered, surprise surprise, that Lil’ Lewie would be much better about falling asleep if we created a bedtime ritual for him. (I know what you’re thinking…yeah, shocker!) The truth of the matter is that we needed Lil’ Lewie to get used to falling asleep, not downstairs, but in his own room at a scheduled time—a scheduled time, ideally before 11:30 p.m.—a scheduled time ideally before my husband and I fall asleep and Lil’ Lewie is still awake roaming the house.

I took the advice of so many other mothers before me and decided to get him on a routine this week. Starting this past Monday, I’d get Lil’ Lewie in his pajamas around 8:30ish and give him his last sippy cup of milk for the night. Then, I’d have him come to the sink to brush his teeth (this is another story all by itself), and I’d bring him up to his crib where I would read him a story, sing to him, and kiss him goodnight. I’ve kept this consistent throughout the week, and it’s worked like a charm. Sure my little guy fusses for the first few minutes after I leave the room, but then, all of a sudden…it’s quiet. It worked like magic!

My husband and I aren’t the smartest of people. It’s taken us some time to catch up to speed with the rest of the parents in the world who have it together. All I can say is that sometimes copying other people’s tricks is what it’s all about.