Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Telltale Signs that You're Addicted to Blogging


My husband opened a blogger account for me back in September 2009.  At that point, I had written a few journal entries that I saved in Microsoft Word and had then transferred them over to my blog.  I didn't know much about blogging, joining communities, and gaining followers, so I let my blog stay stagnant for eight months until I decided to check it in late May.  As you can already guess, my blog still looked the same way I had left it--with my few pathetic entries and a goose egg for responses.

Somewhere between May and June, a switch flipped.  I can't exactly describe what happened to my brain, but an intense interest in blogging took hold of me like no other.  Perhaps the interest came when I gained my very first follower, or perhaps it happened after reading so many other creative and inspiring blogs.  All I know is that once this mind-altering change occurred, I've never been the same.  Now I find myself thinking about my blog all the time. 

If I'm not brainstorming new ideas, collecting information, or taking pictures, then I'm checking my blog hourly to see if I've received any new responses.  (Actually, with a little one at home, I probably check my blog about three times per day, but if I had a more flexible schedule, I'd be checking it hourly.)  What happened to me?  Now that I'm hooked, I can't stop, and when I can't write a post for a day, I feel disappointed, even sad...

Alright, if you've been reading all of this so far and nodding your head in agreement, then this top ten is for you.

You Know You're Addicted to Blogging When...

10.  Getting a new follower gives you an instant high--even more powerful than caffeine or any adrenaline rush you've ever known.

9.  You're childhood friends complain they've been replaced by your blogging buddies.

8.  You keep a bedside journal to capture all your nightly blogging inspirations.  (Of course, this journal gets taken everywhere you go too.)

7.  You think of your next blogging idea while making love. (Hey, multitasking is often necessary in this business.)

6.  Your family feels like they've become professional models because they're constantly on call for photo shoots.  "Wait.  Can you make that surprised look again?"

5.  Your friends and family are completely confused by your "bloggy" lingo.  "I'll be down for dinner as soon as I finish sharing some bloggy love on my BFF's meme.  I just need to link up my RSS feed to Mr. Linky's Magical Widgets..."

4.  BFF no longer means "Best Friend Forever;" instead you refer to it as your "Blog Frog Friend." 

3.  You proudly display your blogging awards, like a Boy Scout displays his merit badges.  In fact, your "Sunshine Award" and "Foxy Mama Award" mean more to you than any of your high school and college certificates/trophies combined.

2.  You identify more with your avatar than you do with the image in the mirror.

1.  You celebrate milestones like your 500th follower or your third blogoversary like they're national holidays--complete with free prizes and giveaways. 

And finally, you know I like to add a bonus... 
"If you do not participate in a current blogging conference, challenge, or boot camp, you feel guiltier than if you had skipped an actual exercise boot camp.   In fact, in order to lament the fact that you cannot attend the conference, you join memes created by other bloggers who can't attend, so you can console each other and give each other support."  

Want more laughs?  Please check out my other top ten lists such as...

Monday's Mommy Moment: Where the Boardwalk Ends...


A few weeks ago, Daddy, Mommy, and Lil' Lewie enjoyed a "stay-cation."  Since we had to save up for The Two Lew Barbeque, our last vacation of the summer involved going to beaches and parks close to home.  At this particular beach in Milford, CT, there was a long boardwalk connecting the parking lot to the beach.  I didn't think much of it at the time, but Little Lewie thought the boardwalk was FABULOUS.  In fact, he spent much of the first hour walking back and forth on the boardwalk, showing no interest in the beach or the water at all. 

Of course, I followed him back and forth for the hour that he paced the boardwalk and said "hi" to all the passer-byes. I suppose it would have been easy to get frustrated since it was HOT that day, but instead, I took lots of pictures and marveled at his excitement.  Plus, he looked too darn cute in his swimsuit to ever get upset.  After walking the entire length of the boardwalk for the fourth time, we finally did make it to the beach and the cool, refreshing water.  It was well worth the wait...

A Sad Farewell to the Innocence of Summer


For as long as I can remember, I've always had a hard time saying goodbye to summer. It's not that I don't enjoy the fall; it's just that summer has this certain simplicity--the warm weather, the long days of sunshine, the freshly picked fruits and vegetables, the playgrounds, the beach, the craft fairs, the carnivals, and the hours upon hours of tireless play.

Now that I officially started work last week, I feel like a kid dreading school all over again. (I work part-time in the career center of a local community college, and I teach three courses at various colleges.) This week was a reminder of cooler temperatures, shorter days, less outdoor activities, and limited free time. Now that I'm back to work, schedules reign supreme and responsibility replaces lightheartedness, maturity replaces innocence, and structure replaces spontaneity.

The working mother guilt is setting in big time. Now, I will only have Thursdays and weekends to spend the full day with my little boy. Visits to the playgrounds, local farms, and the library will be less, and I suspect my time to photograph and discover new weekly “mommy moments” will be less as well.

Daycare will be starting this week, and that will bring a whole new set of worries. Since this will be my little boy’s first time, I am concerned about him getting sick, picking up ‘bad habits’ from other children, and not getting the proper rest he gets at home. I’m also concerned about my own anxiety—the torture of leaving him in the care of someone else. Will his new teachers be kind, patient, and gentle with him? Will they give him the love, encouragement, and support he needs? Will he feel abandoned by mommy who spent every single day with him this summer?

I prepare, knowing this transition is inevitable. Eventually, all children need some separation from their families to learn, develop, and become independent thinkers. Still, I fear that I’m rushing the process—at two, he’s still my baby!

Yes, as I say goodbye to summer this year, I am also saying goodbye to the life of innocence and simplicity I spent with my little boy. I’m saying goodbye to the relaxing morning breakfasts outside on the picnic bench, the long afternoons of spontaneous play, and the uninterrupted nighttime cuddling. We are on a schedule now—it’s time for me and my little boy to move from never-never land back to grown-up land…

The transition from summertime play to daycare...
Farewell to Summer

Psyched about My New Blog Design!


My birthday isn't until October, but I treated myself early. Actually, my husband treated me early--he just doesn't know it yet. Since I started blogging regularly in June, I've been enthralled by all the unique and interesting blog designs out there. Some are silly, some are cute, some are beautiful, and some exude professionalism. I knew that someday, I wanted a unique design too. (I liked my old template, but I already met about five other bloggers who were using the same one.)

At first, my goal was to buy an HTML for Dummies book and learn how to do this myself, but as the summer crept away from me, and I was going back to work soon, I knew learning HTML would be another delayed project. Plus, even if I learned HTML, there was no guarantee that I would be able to come up with an interesting blog design on my own...

I met Kreated by Kelsey through the Blog Frog Community and instantly became a follower. Not only was she extremely supportive of other bloggers by helping them with their own blog design questions, but her portfolio was impressive--the blogs she created had personality, spunk, and professionalism all tied into one. Finally, (and yes this was a factor in my decision) the cost for a complete blog make-over was $50. So, for less than my monthly cell phone bill, my weekly grocery bill, or even a night out on the town, I would finally have a blog design of my very own--one that would have character, style, and originality. (Her other packages start as low as $30, and you can buy your own button for as little as $5.)

Working with Kreated by Kelsey has been a true delight. She is thorough, knowledgeable, considerate, kind and very patient. (She needed patience with me because I'm an indecisive person and perfectionist--not a good mix.) In addition to my wonderful blog design, Kelsey gave me HTML tutorials on how to do other things to manage my blog for free. In fact, she's so good at explaining things that she has her own blogging tip tutorial on Tip Junkie.

If you'd like to know more, I asked Kelsey to answer a few questions for me about her design experience. She's truly a sweet, professional, and "kreative" person.

How did you learn how to design blogs? In order to customize my "page" on a popular kids website many years ago, I taught myself basic HTML--or internet coding. Years later I started a blog and realized that I wanted to have a unique look like so many others I saw. Once I looked into it, I discovered that those skills I had learned so long ago were just what I needed to customize my blog. It wasn't long before I was combining my love for design with these skills and creating blogs for not only myself, but also for others!

How long have you been doing blog designs? I officially opened my business a little over a year and a half ago. However, I feel that the business really started in January of this year. It's been a great year so far!

How many blogs have you designed? I've designed well over 100 blogs and have worked with over 80 clients this year.

What kinds of designs can you do? (graphic, scrapbook, etc...) I design 3 different types of blogs. The first is the traditional "scrapbook" style. This is probably my most popular request. I also design simpler blogs using graphics. Finally, I also design blogs with photo headers. This is often a great option for those wishing to really highlight their photography or their family!

What do you think makes a good blog design? (What are the characteristics of a good blog?) I believe a person's blog design is really important. I think of it as a first impression. While your content is ultimately what will keep readers coming back, it's important that readers can really get a sense of you, your personality, and what your blog is all about right when they arrive on your blog.

What should bloggers do if they're interested in getting a blog design from you? If you're interested in a blog design, I've written a step-by-step guide which can be found here:

I love my new blog design.  Thank you Kelsey!

(Note: I chose to write about Kreated by Kelsey because I thought she did an incredible job on my blog, and I wanted to show my support.  I did not receive payment or any free services for writing this post.)

Top Ten Tuesday-Wedding Bloopers Revealed


This weekend I had an awesome time attending my best friend's wedding. (A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of setting up and hosting her Bachelorette Party, too.) The wedding, just like my friend, was unique and far from typical--she had the reception at a Hibachi Restaurant and entertained all her guests by surprising us with a belly dance she had choreographed for her newlywed husband.

The day, as far as I know, seemed to go perfectly for her, but somewhere in the midst of downing Sake and watching this spectacular belly dance, I started to think about other weddings I attended (including my own) where things didn't always turn out as planned. In fact, now that I recall them, some of these weddings had some downright hilarious moments.

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite wedding bloopers of all times.

You know you're wedding is about to take an unexpected twist when...

10. DJ Sir Mix-O-Lot decides to hoard all the attention by scheduling his very own dance routine that he performs alone on the dance floor.

9. All the single ladies in the audience don't want to catch the bouquet, and in fact, they all run away from it when it comes hurling at them.

8. Your sleazy Uncle Ron catches the garter and decides he's going to put it on the poor, unsuspecting girl (who didn't want to catch the bouquet to begin with) by using his teeth.

7. Your wedding photographer turns into the Picture Nazi who's constantly yelling at the wedding party and the wedding guests to either "get in" or "out of” the picture NOW!

6. Your father-in-law is asked to do a toast, and he starts off by saying, "Well we never thought you'd amount to very much. In fact, we never thought you'd even make it through high school, and now look at're getting married..."

5. The damn zipper clasp to your strapless wedding gown popped, and now you're holding up your wedding dress while desperately begging all your guests to look for a safety pin.

4. Your maid of honor, in her drunken state, decides to form a Conga Line with other drunken guests who are now swerving around tables, stepping on people's feet, and knocking off centerpieces.

3. Your Great Aunt Matilda forgets to take her high blood pressure medication and passes out on the dance floor, knocking down several of your guests in the process.

2. The chocolate fountain starts to burn and emits a foul odor, leading some of your guests to look around and wonder "who cut the cheese?"

1. The two groups of family members who don't get along have discovered each other's tables and are now mouthing full-blown insults to each other from across the room. You've got 911 on your speed dial if temperaments continue to flare.

And finally, I have one last bonus:

D.J. Sir Mix-O-Lot decides that performing his solo dance wasn't enough.  He now breaks out the Karaoke Machine to sing a little number just for the special couple.

Do you have any wedding bloopers to add to the list?  Oh, you have to share.

Tuesday Tag-Along Photobucket

Monday's Mommy Moment-Lost in a Sea of Sunflowers


This week, my little boy and I returned to March Farm to enjoy their Sunflower Maze.  Sunflowers happen to be one of my favorite flowers--I think because they remind me of the Chuckle Patch from the early 70's and 80's children's TV show called The Magic Garden.  A few years ago, I attempted a "Chuckle Patch" myself and had quite a bit of success until the sunflower beetles started snacking on their leaves and many varieties of birds started eating their centers...

This weekend, my mother, Little Lewie, and I had a great time exploring this miniature maze.  It wasn't intimidating because my mother and I could see over the flowers.  However, this was a different story for my little guy who walked amidst a sea of sunflowers that easily towered over him.  Once I let him loose, I had a hard time keeping track of his whereabouts as he ran deeper and deeper into the maze.  (I could barely make out his little blonde head.)  I couldn't stop laughing as the only way I could chase him and find him was by following his little squeals.

All in all, the Sunflower Maze was a fun time.  There were lots of bees everywhere, but they seemed to mind their own business as long as we minded ours.   After going through the maze twice, I think we've now graduated and will be ready for our next adventure...the corn maze that opens in the next few weeks!

Foxy Mama Award


A few weeks ago, Beth from Create Your Traditions gave me the "Foxy Mama" Award.  I was honored, first because I haven't been called a "foxy" anything since I've had my little boy (bad husband), and second because it's proof that I have another awesome friend out here in bloggy land.  Thank you, Beth.

This award is fun because it doesn't have any rules or requirements (at least not to my knowledge).  Thus, I am using it as an award to some terrific mommy bloggers because their blogs show 1) they love and would do anything for their children, 2) they're fiercely loyal to their families, 3) they're highly supportive of other bloggers, and 4) they have a wonderful sense of humor and positive attitude that brings both laughter and inspiration to our lives.

Yes, I may have never met you in person, and I may have never even seen a profile picture, but I do know that your hearts exude "foxiness". 

Here is my list of "Foxy Mamas."  (P.S. I tried to hand out this award to mommy bloggers who never received it before.  I have a number of friends that I would include on this list, but somebody's already recognized their "foxiness".)
"Foxy Mama" Award
Yes, let it be known (to your husbands/families especially) that you are now all hereby declared "Foxy Mamas."

Friday Fun Flick-Babbling after Breakfast


Last week, after Little Lewie decided he was going to "wear" most of his breakfast rather than eat it, I decided to film him.  Here's a typical day of him talking away in his highchair after he just ate.  He still talks in his typical baby language--his favorite words being "hi" and "go".   All the other words come from his unique, elaborate vocabulary, which I am still trying to translate.   You'll notice the video clip is rather short--that's because he succeeded in touching the lens and getting a fingerprint on it at the end.

The second video, if I still have your interest, is a continuation of Little Lewie babbling away and entertaining (after I wipe the smudge off the lens).  Here he poses for the camera and tires himself out at the end...

I think his baby translation says something like, "Have a nice weekend everyone."  (It's just a guess!)

Top Ten Tuesday-Ten Verbal Cues that Ruin the Romantic Mood


My husband and I are...well...married. Don't get me wrong. Marriage has a lot of pluses--the routine, the consistency, the joy of tolerating appreciating each other's habits. No really, I love that my husband is my best friend and that he's my steady support system through the ups and downs of life.

It's just that being married can also be monotonous. The same pluses--routine, consistency, tolerating appreciating each other's habits--can also...well...make the romance fizzle. I'm not saying by any stretch of the imagination...gulp...that my husband's not good in bed. (Hubby, if you're reading this...of course you are. Remember you're the best.) What I'm saying is that marriage can place a slight twist on those once crazy, passionate nights. And, if you're married with children, there's a double twist.

Okay, let me just get to the top ten before I get myself in hot water. Here they are, in no particular order--ten verbal cues that ruin the romantic mood.

10. “Are you going to brush your teeth before we do it? I won’t if you don’t.”

9. “Oh, was that my stomach?! I had diarrhea earlier.”

8. “It looks like that blackhead has returned on your back. Let me get it for you.”

7. “Maybe I should brush my teeth after all. I have some pretty stinky garlic breath.”

6. “There’s a new episode of The Office tonight. Don’t worry. It doesn’t come on for another eleven minutes.”

5. “Should we keep the door open in case the baby wakes up?”

4. “Should we keep the door closed to prevent the baby from waking up?”

3. “If we’re not shutting off the lights, then I’m just going to keep my shirt on.”

2. “It looks like the jungle is back. Should I shave?”

1. “I’m cold. I need to warm up under a few blankets first.”

Okay, and because you know that I like to add a bonus:

“I think I’m catching a cold, but I took a decongestant. I’ll just place these tissues by the bed in case my nose starts running/dripping.”

Tuesday Tag-AlongPhotobucket

Monday's Mommy Moment-The Two Lew Barbeque


This weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting the "Two Lew Barbeque." I knew my husband was turning 40, so as early as last year, I asked him how he wanted to celebrate it.

Me: "So Lewie, do you want to do a fun getaway weekend with the three of us, a romantic getaway for just the two of us, a small intimate party with close family and friends, a night out with some friends, or a big bash?"

I think I was secretly hoping that he'd choose the romantic getaway option, but my husband already had his mind made up.

Husband: "I want to celebrate my birthday with my son's birthday. I want to do 'The Two Lew Barbeque.'"

And that was it. "The Two Lew Barbeque" was born. The name rolled off of my husband's tongue so easily that I knew he must have been planning it for quite some time. As the list grew to over 100 people, I knew this wasn't going to be an easy party to handle at home. In fact, our home was just too small (and boring) to handle over 50 families with their young kids.

After months of researching, I found a wonderful outside venue that would do a cookout for us while letting us use their entire grounds (complete with a large outside tent, patio, pool, basketball court, volleyball court, toddler play area, horseshoes, shuffleboard, and a large field.) The funny part is that I came to this place for a summer camp trip when I was only 7 years old. It was a dream come true because for less money than most restaurants charge, we had a cookout and the entire outdoor facility reserved just for us!

Yesterday, we have a beautiful day to celebrate my husband's 40th and my little boy's 2nd birthday. In fact, it was so breezy and comfortable that it was hard to leave the patio area to try the pool (a surprise for August). All in all, the food was great, the cream cheese carrot cake was delicious, and my two Lew's received many thoughtful gifts. However, the highlight of the party was to see how many wonderful family members and friends came to celebrate this special day with my Lew's. Big Lew and Little Lew couldn't possibly leave this party without feeling and knowing that they ARE LOVED!

Here are a few photos highlighting the day's acitivities. My favorite "mommy moments" are recorded below. At one point, while opening the gifts, my Lil' Lewie was receiving so much help from his cousin Frankie and his little friend Ryan that he sat back in his stroller with his hands up to his head. If he could talk, I know he'd be saying something like, "Ahhh, this is the life."

Then, while I was struggling to take a quick picture of the cake before they started serving it, I noticed I caught my little boy "red handed" as he was sneaking a taste of some of the frosting on the side. His little frosting mustache proves he's guilty as charged.

The Top Ten Things I Love about My Son and His Age


Oh my Precious Little Lewie. You’re birthday has just passed, and now this weekend, we are going to celebrate Daddy’s and your birthday together. Your dad’s birthday isn’t officially until next month, but he is turning the big 40 and said he wanted to have a birthday celebration with you. He named it the Two Lew Barbeque. To be honest, he’s just looking forward to showing you off to all of his friends and family that he hasn’t seen in quite some time. (Who can blame him…I’m excited to show you off too!)

This weekend, I decided to write a tribute to you and your wonderful age. I am going to share the top ten reasons why I love you…(of course, you know there are many more reasons than just the ten listed, but here are some of my favorites.)

1. I love the fact that every time we go to a playground, you run for the swings. There’s this little spark in your eye once you’ve found them and your excitement and enthusiasm are contagious. When I push you, our time together comes to a halt; this is one of our few activities in life where I feel like I can slow down and just savor the moment—you’re growing up way too fast!

2. I love your little, raspy laugh and your high pitched squeals. Now that you’ve become a toddler, these giggles and squeals are a constant in our house. If you’re not squealing with delight because Mommy’s decided to chase you around the house, then you’re laughing because Daddy found the tickle spot on the back of your knees or around your thighs. Oh, your laughter is truly music to my ears.

3. I love that you’re a maniac on the dance floor. Every time Mommy puts on some type of music, you immediately start bopping around, twirling around in circles, or looking for me to be your dance partner. I also love the fact that you enjoy watching me practice my tap dance moves in the kitchen. (Mommy does this because she took over twenty years of lessons, and every now and then, she gets an urge to practice her old moves.) It’s evident that you want to learn how to tap dance too because you end up dancing around the house by stomping your little feet fast and furiously.

4. I love your squeezable baby thighs and your chubby, rosy cheeks. Yes, although you have turned two, you still have some remaining baby fat, which happily reminds me of your earlier days. The best part is watching your chubby cheeks jiggle every time you run down the hill in our yard.

5. I love your adorable baby words. Right now, you still want to hold onto your sweet little baby language (filled with “gee” and “oh” and a bunch of words that sound like French). However, although you have your own language, you’re still slowly picking up words from ours. Your new favorite word at the moment is “bye”. You tell everyone, even people you’ve just met, “bye” before saying “hi”. I’m quite thankful you mastered the pronunciation of the word now too because in the beginning, you were telling everyone to “die”.

6. I love that your mommy’s little helper. All day long, you follow me around the house to help me out with my chores. You help me make smoothies in the morning (complete with pouring in the ingredients and turning on the blender). You help me throw laundry into the dryer, fold clean clothes, sort the mail, water the garden, and even pull out overgrown weeds. I love the fact that you want to be my buddy, and you take pride in helping me. To me, this is a sign of pure, innocent love.

7. I love your smile. On most days, you greet me in the morning with a big, wide smile that’s capable of melting anyone’s heart. To you, everyday is like going to Disney Land. You find joy in the smallest, mundane things (like opening and closing the garage door with the clicker every time we go out). It’s this constant joy and fascination with life that reminds me that I need to approach my own life with a more open and lighter heart. Yes, your little smile serves as a beacon of hope for Mommy even on the gloomiest of days.

8. I love your interest in mother nature. For as long as I can remember, you’ve always had a fascination with dirt, moss, rocks, etc. When you wake up in the morning, you immediately go to the backdoor to let me know you want to go outside. Once outside, it feels like you’ve found your home. You push yourself on your toy car around the house, you find a pile of dirt to play in, you find a mud puddle to splash in again and again, or you run and skip around in delight. Yes, like Mommy, you’re a little nature lover (a nature boy) at heart.

9. I love your outgoing personality and sense of humor. Lil’ Lewie, from day one, you have always been a socialite. You enjoy meeting new people and entertaining them right from the start. It’s amazing how you intrinsically know what to do to impress certain people. You act silly in the presence of guys that are Daddy’s age, and you blow kisses to little old ladies who think you’re just the sweetest little angel to walk the planet. Then, if that isn’t enough, you love to tease Mommy and Daddy at home. You pretend to sleep when you don’t want to do something, and you pretend to put something in your mouth or touch the remote control, not because you want to, but because you know it will get a rise out of us. Oh yes, you know how to push our buttons, but amazingly, you know how to push them in just such a way that you get us to laugh. Yes, you can be an incredible tease.

10. I love your cuddly, tender moments. Lil’ Lewie, I love the fact that in some ways, you’re still very much a baby. At night, you’ll still cuddle in Mommy’s or Daddy’s arms while we give you your warm milk before bedtime. At other times, you’ll chose to sit in our laps or just walk over to us to give us an unexpected kiss or hug. (You give all your stuffed animals special kisses too.) I love that you’re affectionate and that you don’t mind us snuggling with you at the end of a long day. You’re cuddling is just the medicine I need to cure any stress in my life.

Friday Fun Flick-Dare to Dance and Be Silly


My little boy loves to dance. (I've written about this before.) However, it's now been my mission to capture this on video. I thought this would be easy, but the minute Lil' Lew discovers I'm recording him, he decides to entertain me in other ways. Perhaps, he thinks that dancing is too boring, and he needs to "up" his game, or perhaps, he's an "in the closet dancer"--too afraid to show off his skills to me and the camera.

Well, a few days ago I was able to capture a few of his dance moves while he wasn't looking. (You'll notice that he was concentrating on the music so much that he had his eyes closed.) Once he opens his eyes and sees the camera, the dancing turns to running around in circles to just plain acting silly.

While I'm still trying to capture the "Ultimate Dance Video," I couldn't resist posting this one as it is so representative of my mornings and afternoons with my little boy. His crazy antics are a constant source of entertainment.

Happy 2nd Birthday to My Precious Little Lewie


Oh, my sweet Little Lewie. You have no idea what a momentous day this is…

Two years ago at 1:08 p.m., you came into this world with open eyes and an open heart. (I was astounded that you didn’t cry when you were born.) After the doctor delivered you, she immediately placed you on my chest. You were calm but inquisitive as you searched for the owner of the voice that had been talking to you for so long. You looked at me with those big expressive eyes of yours while I looked at you through my own salty tears.

“Hi Little Lewie,” I said as I studied your beautiful face and your beautiful little hands. “I’m your mama. It’s so nice to finally meet you.”

Your gaze was gentle and sincere, and your daddy and I were in awe of your presence. You were truly a miracle from God, a precious gift, a living and breathing sign of our love. Tears streamed down our faces as we couldn’t believe you were ours to take home. We were so overwhelmed with emotion—quivers of joy, happiness, excitement, elation, and relief consumed us until we felt like we were surely going to explode.

Oh my little one, you have no idea how much you have changed Mommy's and Daddy’s world forever. Your birthday will always be a special day for us, for it’s the day that God taught us how to love unconditionally with all our heart and all our soul. Today and always, Little Lewie, I celebrate you. You are my perfect little bundle from heaven.

Top Ten Tuesday-Ten Reasons You May Belong to the Frumpy Mamas Club


My story is the same as everyone else’s. Before kids, I dressed to impress. I had beautiful suites for work, dynamite club outfits for after hours, adorable bikinis for playful summer fun, and thoughtful matching accessories to go with my work and play clothes. I loved my wardrobe, I loved getting my hair done, and I loved treating myself regularly for both manicures and pedicures.

As you know, once you have a little one or multiple little ones, well, um…the phrase "dress to impress" is a lot of malarkey. Even though I vowed that my size, my wardrobe, and my regular salon visits wouldn’t change, they did. Somewhere along the way, taking care of me, much less my wardrobe, wasn’t seen to be a priority anymore, and so, like most mamas I know, I joined the club…the frumpy mamas club. Oh, I know it sounds harsh, but I looked up the word “frumpy,” and it simply means, “not wearing attractive or fashionable clothes.” Well, if that doesn’t fit the current description of me, then I don’t know what does…

Here are ten reasons why you may be a frumpy mama (like me).

10. You explain to your friends and family members who haven’t seen you in a while, that you have decided to go “NA-TUR-AL.” Ultimately, the “natural” look means your roots haven’t been touched up in months, your fingernails are dirty, your armpit and leg hair have grown wild and you haven’t showered for days.

9. Since you haven’t lost all the baby weight yet, you continue to wear your old maternity clothing. In fact, you’re considering investing in a few more maternity tops since they do such a nice job of covering up your muffin-top area.

8. All your pants are Kmart specials. You have flannels, jogging pants, and stretch pants with elastic waistbands in various sizes and colors. You’re only criteria is that they must be comfortable, cheap, and machine washable.

7. Goodbye sexy, red stiletto heals—helllooo sparkly dollar store flip flops with Dr. Scholl’s inserts!

6. Your new pocketbook is the size of your diaper bag, or worse, your diaper bag IS your new pocketbook.

5. On most days you forget to put on deodorant. If you smell ripe, it’s one of two things—either you forgot the deodorant AGAIN or you tried wearing your shirt three times or more before putting it in the wash.

4. Your once thong underwear has been replaced by granny panties. Honestly, you wish you were introduced to granny panties earlier; those cotton briefs provide the most comfortable coverage for your entire rump and mid-section. It’s like strapping a cloud to your hiney.

3. That itsy bitsy, tiny weenie, yellow polka-dot bikini is now the mucho grande, control top coverage, Tankini in “new black.” You now hate wearing a bathing suit, and you’ve chosen black either to morn your loss or to help you look like you’ve shed a few extra pounds.

2. Your hair on most days could actually provide shelter for some feathered friends. Seriously, on the days that you have no time to shower, your hair is either swept up into a baseball cap or scrunched into a messy ponytail. Each hairdo provides hours of combing entertainment at the end of the day.

1. Your clothes haven’t matched since you were trying to look “cute” in your maternity gear. Now that your kids are the cute ones and you look like hell, why bother with the matching outfits, much less the matching coordinates.

And here is your bonus for today:
Muumuus are back in style—at least in your house. Oh, you may not have worn one out to a restaurant yet, but your neighbors have seen you wear one right along with the employees at your local supermarket. They are your new modern version to those tacky, skimpy sundresses.

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Monday's Mommy Moment-I Like to Play House


Last week, my mother and I enjoyed taking Little Lewie to a place called March Farm. Throughout the year, March Farm offers various activities including berry picking, apple picking, pumpkin picking, a petting zoo, a sunflower maze, and a corn maze. They also have this amazing playscape for kids--complete with two little wooden houses, a gravel racetrack, sandboxes made from old tractor tires, and a hayloft converted into a slide.

Our initial plan was to go blueberry picking and then enjoy the playscape. However, since my little boy is still a little queasy about "the textures" of certain fruits, blueberries included, we decided to skip the picking and go straight for the playscape. (Oh, we attempted to pick, but Little Lewie kept putting the blueberries in his mouth and then rejecting them one by one as he proceeded to try and feed me his chewed up blueberries. Nice.)

The greatest part of this little outing was the playscape, in particular, the little white house. Here I thought Lil' Lewie would take to the racetrack or the tire sandboxes, but instead, he was amazingly fascinated by the house. It was his own little place, complete with a full kitchen and sitting area. We could climb in there with him if we wanted, but he preferred to stay in there by himself and "cook". It was his very own place, and we were the visitors that he politely greeted either from the door or the window.

My Lil' Lewie spent the afternoon playing house. It was such a blast to see him pretend to cook and then sit in the little rocking chair inside. (To be honest, our daily household routines are similar. If Daddy and I are not cooking, washing dishes, or doing chores then we're sitting in the recliner watching TV or playing with him...)
Overall, I would say this place scored a homerun. Can you tell?

The More You Learn, the More You Earn!


A week ago, I was asked to speak briefly to 20 high school students who are involved in a summer school program called "Dare to Dream." Our local community college wanted me to talk about higher education and the career benefits of receiving a degree.

Since I love learning and love encouraging students to believe in themselves, I was excited by the task. It also made me consider the strategy I would use with my Lil' Lewie once he was in high school and considering going to college. Here is the advice that I shared with the "Dare to Dream" program, and the advice I would share with my son:

1. Remember the statement, "The more you learn, the more you earn." In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the average income by educational attainment as...

--High school dropout $17,299

--High school diploma $26,933

--Associate's degree $36,645

--Bachelor's degree $52,671

(Statistics are expected to change slightly for the 2010 census but not by much.)

2. Start a journal. Students in high school should start creating two lists. The first list should consist of activities, skills, and talents. In other words, it should mention everything they are good at. For example: "I am good at reading, writing, talking to people, listening..." The second list should consist of their interests (what they like to do). For example: "I like animals, fashion, computers, teaching, helping people..." It's never too early for children to begin understanding themselves--this means their talents and dreams.

3. Take a survey. Most colleges offer surveys that ask a variety of questions to determine a student's interests and match those interests to possible careers choices. Some of these surveys include the SIGI 3 or the Myers Briggs Personality Survey. There are other free surveys that can be accessed online. One example is called The Drive of Your Life.

4. Find a career mentor. Once they have a few career choices in mind, high school students should begin looking for people who are currently working in these professions. For example, if they're considering becomming a police officer, they should consider talking to someone they know that's in this field. Perhaps, there is an uncle, aunt, or long-time family friend on the policeforce that can provide some words of wisdom about the job, the salary, the required education, and the quality of life, etc.

5. Consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook online. This book lists various occupations and tells people the following:

--The money/income they can expect to make in this career.

--The education needed for this career.

--The lifestyle they can expect with this career. (For example, will they have to work in the evenings, on the weekends, on holidays, etc.?)

--The job prospects/opportunities . Is this a new and emerging field with lots of job growth/opportunities, or is this a saturated market?

When I mention these steps, incoming college students seem to glaze over. They've been so protected or coddled by their parents at home that don't know where to start. They don't know much about the work world, and they know even less about today's salaries. Many of my conversations sound like this one:

Me: "So, how much money do you want to make each year?"

Student: "I want to be a millionaire."

Me: "Really. So what type of career do you want to pursue?"

Student: Silence.

Most of the time the students I encounter either expect too much or too little when it comes to a salary. They have never been taught about finances, how to manage money, or how to create a budget. Many don't know what a regular mortgage payment, car payment, car insurance payment, or tax payment look like. And, they really don't know what a regular student loan payment looks like either. They'd cringe if they saw the $600 that my husband pays for his student loans each month.

Once our children become teens, I think it's important for them to begin researching careers and to begin learning about money, salaries, and bills. (They can even watch how we take care of the monthly budget at home.) The more teens know about real life, the more they can actually plan for it. Successful students are the ones who are proactive (not reactive) about their futures. In today's economy, there's no room for surprises. The more our children know, the better.

Friday Fun Flick-The Tale of the Spinning Lawn Ornament


Several weeks ago, I posted a Friday Fun Flick on “Fans are Spooky.” My little boy, at first, was terrified by Grandma's little, oscillating, bedroom fan. It didn’t make sense to him why the fan would move back and forth on its own. Even now, he’s no longer terrified, but I can still tell that he thinks it’s creepy.

Well, the thought of the fan has long been gone until this week when Lewie showed an interest in our sunflower wind spinner that we’ve been storing in the garage. Many times when he’s brought it over to me before, my normal response has been “Oh, Lil’ Lewie, Mommy will put it up some day. Not now, okay?”

Well, a persistent Lil’ Lewie finally encouraged me to stake the spinner lawn ornament by our porch this week. He was thrilled as he kept using his little hand to make it spin. I then left him outside alone with it while I went to wash the dishes (I can see him from my kitchen window) when all of a sudden, I hear Lewie break out into complete sobbing hysterics. What on earth! How could he possibly have hurt himself?
I ran outside to survey the situation. Okay, where’s the boo boo, I thought, as I picked up Lil’ Lewie and tried drying his tears. For some reason, my nurturing wasn’t consoling him. “Why are you so upset, Lil’ Lew?”

It took a few minutes, but I finally figured out the source of his anguish. The wind had picked up, and the spinner lawn ornament was moving by itself. Good grief! As I carried Lil’ Lewie closer to the lawn ornament to show him that it wasn’t scary, he had an all-out meltdown.

In the past few days, I’ve done everything in my power to extinguish this fear. I’ve even been searching for a pinwheel, so I can demonstrate the laws of wind. For the most part, he feels a little more comfortable around it, but this clip still shows his remaining distrust. Unfortunately, the spinning sunflower doesn’t have the same allure as it did sitting still in the garage. Like the oscillating fan, spinner lawn ornaments are “spooky” too.

It's a Social Parade 8/6 & Other Friday Blog Hops

I love blog hops. They give me the opportunity to read new blogs, make new friends, and share funny stories, advice, parenting tips, 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.

Smart and Trendy Moms


Bachelorette Party Uncensored!


Last Saturday, I hosted a Bachelorette party for one of my best friends through college and grad school. (She's getting married on the 22nd of this month.) We had fun doing all the typical "last night out as a single chick" things. For example, the night started with the official crowing of "Miss Bachelorette." We placed a shiny tiara and white veil on her head and gave her a white feather boa to wear around her neck. Then, we began tallying points as she completed some of our fun and zany tasks. She waved to guys, danced with them, pinched their butts, and asked them to marry her. She got several bartenders to give her free drinks, and then she climbed up to the DJ booth where she showed off her dance moves right above our heads. (As we watched her from the dance floor, she was this glowing white vision--her white boa and veil glowed in the dark and twirled in every direction imaginable.)

I'll have to admit that the idea of a "girls' night out" did entice me for awhile. After all, it has been more than two years since I went dancing with my husband and more than four years since I went dancing with my girlfriends. However, once the night began, the allure quickly faded. Here's what I learned:

1) I'll never fit into my "club clothes" again. Even after months of walking, dieting, and doing Pilates, it seems that I can't get rid of that "muffin top" bulge that likes to droop over my pants. Goodbye old tube tops, hello loose, baggy shirts!

2) Guys at bars/dance clubs have few manners. Now-a-days, it seems that the accepted way to pick up chicks is to bypass small talk and go right for the dancing/grinding. Twice, I had two different guys begin dancing with me from behind. It wasn't until I felt them try to press their body close to mine that I realized I was being summoned to some type of modern day mating ritual.

3) Guys at bars/dance clubs have commitment issues. Not long after entering the club, a guy tried to strike a conversation with me. After I quickly told him that I'm married and have a two year-old at home, he said in reply, "Oh, good for you. I could never get married. I would never want to lose my freedom."

4) The bathroom stalls are atrocious. Going potty in a dance club always gives me the creeps. Sure enough, as I walked into the women's room, a long line was forming because it appeared that two of the four stalls were out of service due to bodily excrements that I'd rather not discuss at this time. Let's just say that I'd rather change my little boy's poopy diapers any day of the week over having to clean out one of those stalls. I feel bad for the poor soul that has to do it.

5) Dance clubs get way too crowded. By the time it turned a little past midnight, the dance floor started resembling one big mob of people pushing each other more than a group of people dancing. For the rest of the evening, I stood in place and swayed from side to side in tempo to the music as my arms stayed firmly glued to my sides. I felt more like a toy soldier marching in place than a person showing off her old-school dance moves.

Overall, I enjoyed the bachelorette party because my girlfriend was just so happy to finally be getting married. (She's been waiting for this moment with her boyfriend for over 13 years. I know. I know. That's a whole 'nother story in itself.) However, as for enjoying the club scene, well, let's just say that I enjoy my simple "committed" life at home better.

Top Ten Tuesday-Ten Ways You Amazingly Survived the 80's


Okay, let’s face it. The 1980’s were an interesting time for history, music, movies, and culture. It’s the only time when Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Weird Al Yankovic could all have number one hits, when robots, Gremlins, Ewoks, and the Smurfs were considered super cool, when the best movies were about confused, misunderstood teens, when our nightmares were about clowns or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and when everyone knew the phrase “I want my MTV.” (If you know everything that I’m talking about, then you were a child of the 80’s. And if you’re smiling about everything that I’m talking about, then this top ten is for you 80’s lovers at heart.)

Here are the top ten ways you (and me included) amazingly survived the 80’s.
10. Your best friend accidently hit you over the head with her metal Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox. Thankfully, it only caused a lump the size of a goose egg but no concussion.

9. You spent ten years in the girl’s bathroom inhaling the toxic fumes of Aqua Net’s aerosol hairspray. The smell made you gag, but it did wonders for your incredibly high mall hair.

8. You scorched your tush and the back of your legs on that blasted vinyl car seat again. Luckily, it just singed your skin a little, but it didn’t leave a third degree burn. (If only you had remembered to place your Star Wars towel down first.)

7. You almost snapped your neck after trying to impress all your friends with your break-dance moves—you’re especially gifted at doing the worm, popping, and spinning on your head and back.

6. Your school playground—with its tall, narrow, metal slides, its cracked plastic swings, and super high, metal monkey bars—was an emergency room visit waiting to happen; fortunately, you only had to get stitches twice.

5. You surprising didn’t suffer any hearing loss even though you carried around a boom box the size of a large crate and placed it on your shoulder directly near your ear. (You’re also quite surprised you didn’t suffer from any back injuries either.)

4. Somehow you dodged getting Carpal Tunnel from all those years of playing Pac Man, Donkey Kong, and Pitfall using the Atari Joystick.

3. After all these years, you only have a few emotional scars left over from those old Polaroid pictures of you sporting your 80's wardrobe. (You still don't know why it was the rave to wear banana clips, plastic bangle bracelets, parachute pants, vinyl/pleather miniskirts, Members Only jackets, high top sneakers with fat, fluorescent shoe laces, and skinny ties.)

2. There were multiple times that you almost suffered a major injury because you didn’t own helmets, knee pads, shin guards, or wrist guards. When you fell off your bike or collided into a tree on roller skates, it was simply you against the elements.

1. Even though you binged on Cool Ranch Doritos, Oreo Cookies, gummy bears, Pixy Stix, Nerds (candy), and effervescent Cherry Coca-Cola everyday, you still kept your weight down because you were kicked outside to play all day long in the neighborhood with other kids.

And finally, I have one more bonus to offer:

After playing all day in the neighborhood without parental supervision, you still managed to make it home for dinner (even without a cell phone or GPS tracking device).

For more Top Ten Tuesday Fun, please feel free to check out my other posts: Top Ten Ways You've been Abducted by Clutter or Ten Clues Your Life Has Been Overrun by a Toddler.

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Tuesday Blog Hop

I love blog hopping. There's nothing better than making new friends and reading new blogs, especially ones that are creative and fun. There is so much talent out there--outstanding cooks, excellent photographers, inspiring crafters, thoughtful writers, stand-up comedians, and amazing mothers. If you stop by my blog, I hope you will comment so that I can visit/follow you as well. It's so much fun to meet new people. Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Tuesday Tag-Along