Monday's Mommy Moment: Beware of the Christmas Carolers!


My little boy has always been cautious when it comes to new things--our sunflower spinning lawn ornament, the mounds of leaves piled in our yard, Santa, and now the carolers...

Yes, if you haven't guessed it already, this year we added a new addition to our normal Christmas light routine.  We thought the carolers were adorable and would excite our Little Lewie.  Well, I guess you can say it excited him excited him to the point that he's terrified of them.  After Daddy first set them up, we plugged them in and watched the unit inflate from the window.  Little Lewie wouldn't stop watching them from the window, so we naturally thought he was curious.  We bundled him up, held him in our arms, and brought him to see the front of the display from the driveway.  That's when we noticed that the curiosity turned to utter and complete fright.

Over the next few days, we've been showing him that we are the ones that control the display.  He sees where we plug it in, and he's witnessed us walk up to it on many occasions.

"Hi Santa, Hi Frosty, Hi Penguin!" I say in the merriest of voices.  "Look how cute they are Lewie.  It's just a decoration.  It won't hurt you."  (I even poke Frosty a few times just to show that he's not real.) "See."

Consequently, over the last few nights, Lil' Lewie hasn't slept well either.  The first night that the display was set up, he refused to go to sleep in his crib, and the second night, he woke up screaming in terror as if he had a terrible nightmare. 

We're hoping he'll eventually grow to love the carolers, but if not, they might have to retire early this year and wait to send holiday greetings in 2011...

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Signs that the Holidays Are Here!


I love the holidays; it's a joy to spend time with family, to decorate, and to spread love and cheer.  Even more, I enjoy trying to make the holidays magical for my little boy.  Still, as much as I love this time of year, I also cringe a little.  Right around now is when I start creating my to-do list, and each day, it feels like the items on my list grow exponentially.  From now until January 2, 2011, I am on a race--a race to buy presents, decorate, spend time with family and friends, and create memorable, ever-lasting Christmas traditions.  It'll be fun (for the most part), but there may be a nervous breakdown along the way...

If sometimes you feel overwhelmed by this holiday crunch time, then this top ten list is for you...  Ten Signs that the Holidays are Here...

10.  You've already given up on any diet that you started during the year.  How can you begin to count calories after you've just downed two pieces of your aunt's famous chocolate cream pie (in addition to snacking on the sugar cookies, the cheese and crackers, and that delicious pumpkin tart)?

9.  Each day, you're afraid your mailbox might possibly tip over from all the holiday catalogs and coupons that come in the mail.  Even worse, you're afraid the collection that has now overtaken your living room might present a real fire hazard.

8.  Your DVR/VCR is already set to record all your holiday favorites--How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Charlie Brown's Christmas, etc. etc.

7.  You literally have no place left to write on your calendar.  Every single square is covered in notations about sales, visits with friends and family, and other holiday parties and events.

6.  You've already mapped out your Black Friday route.  Not only do you have a list of stores to visit on your agenda, but you've also created a list of areas within each store to visit.  You'll be camping out at 3 a.m. so that you have access to the best selection.  You're on a mission!

5.  You've already started to drop subtle hints to friends and family about what you can use-- a new car, a new Apple iPad.   (Oh, and you've started asking the not so subtle questions yourself..."'re favorite restaurant is..."  "And you are a size....larrrrggg, no medium.  That's right.")

4.  You've already figured out what bills you can scrimp on this month.  "Hmmm....let's see.  If I don't pay the electric company this month, they will still have to wait for another full month before they threaten to shut my lights off..."

3.  You've already made your family crazy about buying and coordinating matching outfits for the dreaded wonderful yearly Christmas photograph--you know...the photo that you share will all your friends and family members that you never get to see in person anymore.  That's right.  If they didn't receive a holiday photo of you every year, they probably would have no idea what you or anyone in your family even look like anymore.

2.  You've already started testing all the outside and inside lights.  Hey, you don't want to go through the actual trouble of setting up the decorations only to learn that your beloved lighted Rudolph is now missing a few limbs.

1.  The kids' TV commercials have pushed you over the limit.  If you see one more advertisement for that (fill in the blank) toy, you're going to hurl the next object that winds up in your hands directly at the TV.  Of course, these commercials have delightfully persuaded your kids that the meaning of Christmas is...TOYS.

Bonus: You've now started assessing the past know...what you've accomplished...what you didn't accomplish.  The guilt of what didn't get accomplished will always make the top of your New Year's resolution list for next year...guaranteed.

Monday's Mommy Moment: Clay Time


I actually haven't introduced my little boy to play dough or clay just yet...mostly because I was worried that I'd spend more time scolding him not to eat it instead of just playing with it.  Still, a few weeks ago, Little Lewie's daycare sent a notice home to everyone to let us know that our toddlers would be playing with clay on Wednesday and that all parents were invited to come and make creations with their tots too!

Needless to say, both my husband and I were excited, and we both changed our work schedules, so that we could make our own projects help Lil' Lewie with his project too.

When the day finally arrived, we learned that we would be working in the special art studio.  Under normal circumstances, this would be great, but for us, it wasn't.  See, the art studio is located right next door to the elevator.  And since Lil' Lewie prefers the elevator to anything, playtime, even food...we could not peel him away from it.  At one point, I literally dragged my little boy into the art studio, but he wouldn't stop kicking and screaming.

"What are we going to do?"  I asked my husband, both flustered and embarrassed at the same time.

"Well we can't force him to play.  I guess we just need to leave."  My husband was equally disappointed that we wouldn't have "clay time" as a family.

I tried to put a little ball of clay into my son's hand, but he wouldn't take it.  To him, clay was not nearly as exhilarating as being able to press a button, watch it light up, and then have a magic set of doors open for him to step inside.

Fortunately, the women at the daycare were willing to give us some clay to take home. In fact, they would still put it in the kiln for us if we sent his project back within a few days. Since that was the case, this weekend we decided to have a little "clay time." It lasted long enough to get a few photos; however, with Lil' Lewie's continued aversion to getting his hands dirty, it wasn't his favorite activity. I guess we'll have to try it again when he gets a little older...

"I guess this is unique."

"I'll smile for you Mom, if you promise to take me down now."

"See Mommy's, I mean, MY creation."

Versatile Blogger & Lovely Blog Award

A few weeks ago (okay, it was probably more like a few months ago), I received the Versatile Blogger Award and Lovely Blog Award from some amazing bloggers.  I love receiving awards not only because I get a self-confidence boost but also because I get to share the love too. 

This post is to thank some incredible bloggers who were so kind enough to think of me for these awards and to pass on these awards to some other incredible, well-deserved bloggers. 

First, I'd like to thank my good friend Amber from Nater Tot for The Versatile Blog Award.  Although I received this award once before, it was like getting it for the first time all over again because it came from a friend and blog that I truly admire.  Thank you Amber! 

For the Versatile Blog Award, you are asked to...
1.  Share seven things about you.
2.  Nominate 15 newly discovered blogs.
3.  Let your nominees know about the award.

Since I received this award, I won't bore everyone with another seven things about myself.  (You can see the original seven here if you're interested.)  I will, however, use the opportunity to nominate a few blogs with this award in addition to my original 15.  These two blogs are honest, fun, and written by some sweet, authentic bloggy moms.  Please check them out!
Then, all of a sudden, I received The Lovely Blog Award from a number of bloggy friends:  Tessa at The Shopper Gal, Liz at From Chalkboards to Strollers, Gina at It's How She Rolls, and Leigh from The Holistic Health Maven.   Wow, did I feel honored, and I still do. 

Since this is the first time I received The Lovely Blog Award, I would like to follow the following rules.

1. Accept the award.
(Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.)

2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.

So here, in no particular order, are some creative, inspiring blogs written by some wonderful ladies.  Please check them out!

In the end, receiving an award, whether it's our first time or fifth time, is a reminder that we belong to a wonderfully supportive community of blog friends.  I love blogging and am so appreciative of the many friends I've made through this process.  I hope by sending out these awards, I will be able to spread the same sunshine and cheer I felt when receiving them :)  Congrats to all!

Friday Fun Flick: Daddy's Size 14 Shoes Are Hard to Fill!


A few weeks ago, I showed footage of my little guy scuffing around in my heels.  It was hilarious to watch him and hear him clippity clapping all over the kitchen floor.  I was quite impressed.

My little guy, of course, also has a fascination with Daddy's shoes, that is...Daddy's very large size 14 shoes.  If some of you are unfamiliar with this size, let me give you a brief highlight.
  • We usually have to go to special stores to buy his shoes. (Most large chains like JC Penney's and Sears do not carry his size).
  • Just one shoe alone, feels like a 2 pound weight.  If it's a work boot, then it feels more like a five pound weight.
  • Just one pair of shoes fills up an entire duffel bag.  Thus, I usually limit the number of shoes my husband is allowed to pack on a trip.
  • His shoes make his suitcases very heavy--sometimes making us pay extra on a plane flight because his baggage exceeds the allowed weight limit. 
With that said, my little guy still insists on walking in his shoes, which means, in all honesty, he is one strong little boy!

Top Ten Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Jokes


Okay, my little boy is still too young for jokes, but I thought I'd start collecting them for when he's older.  Some are favorites from childhood, and some are from some great online resources I listed below.  I plan to torment entertain my family with some of these treasures next week...

1.   Q:  If April Showers bring May flowers, then what do May flowers bring?
      A:  Pilgrims

2.   Q:  Why didn't the turkey eat any dessert?
      A:  Because he was stuffed.

3.   Q:  Why did the Turkey cross the road?
      A:  It was the chicken's day off.

4.   Q:  Why did the turkey decide to drum in a band?
      A:  Because he had the drumsticks.

5.   Q:  Why can't you take a turkey to church?
      A:  Because they use such FOWL language.

6.   Q:  What's the best dance to do on Thanksgiving?
      A:  The Turkey Trot.

7.   Q:  What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?
      A:  Plymouth Rock

8.   Q:  What did the turkey say before it was roasted?
      A:  Boy, I'm stuffed.

9.   Q:  Should you have your whole family for Thanksgiving dinner?
      A:  No, just the turkey. 

10. Q:  When did the Pilgrims first say, "God Bless America"?
      A:  When they first heard America sneeze.

Bonus:  (I'm sure you may have heard this one before...)

The Turkey, the Parrot and the In-laws 

Martha had a parrot called Brutus.  The only problem was that Brutus cussed something awful. Now Martha was having her in-laws over for Thanksgiving, and so she needed to train Brutus quickly not to swear.

Just before her mother-in-law arrived, Brutus cussed terribly, so Martha put him in the freezer for 2 minutes to literally cool off. Then she opened the door and took out the parrot along with the turkey.

"And have you learned your lesson about cussing?" Martha asked the parrot.

Brutus the parrot took one look at the dead turkey and said: "I sure have. But pardon me, I just have one question, 'What did the turkey do?'"

Complements of Kaboose, The Holiday Spot, Activity Village, and Will and Guy's Humour.

Monday's Mommy Moment: Beware of the Shark!


Who would have thought a simple shark head on a pole would provide years of entertainment?   Yes, you heard me right--years.

In 2006, my husband bought a shark snapper toy on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  (For those of you who are still unsure what it does, there's a lever at the end of the pole that makes the shark snap--a great device for tormenting unsuspected souls.)  My husband, at the time, claimed he was buying the toy as a souvenir for his six year-old nephew, but as the snapping shark head often peaked around the shower curtain while I was rinsing my hair, I soon learned it was my husband's new toy.

He had fun tormenting me during the rest of our honeymoon, but I was smart.  I knew where the shark toy was packed, and once I unpacked it, I hid it--in a secret place not to be disclosed--(just in case my nosy husband is reading this.)  From this point forward, I now have control of the shark snapper, and from time to time, (usually once or twice a year) he will come out to pay my husband a visit in the shower.  (Hey, my husband's the creative one...I'm just the copycat.)

This weekend, I surprised my husband by showing Lil' Lewie how to pull the lever and use the shark.  Now, I wasn't the one bothering Daddy...instead, I had a partner in crime...  Oh, and it was so much fun!

Why I'm Considering Having an Only Child


My little boy is two, and he is the light of my life.  He's truly become my little buddy as he tags along with me everywhere I go and loves to do everything I do.  I have a great time until this nagging little voice pops in the back of my head.  Oh, I try to quell it.  Trust me.  Still this little voice visits me several times a day:  Annette, you're not getting any younger.  Now's the time to consider having another child before it's too late!

At 35, I still have a few more childbearing years left, but my husband is 40 this year, and well, if we want to have another little squirt, we need to get working on it.  Thus our dilemma is born, and the answer is not coming to me easily. 

Only children over the years have been given a bad rap.  I know.  I'm one of them.  We've been told that we're greedy, selfish, social misfits.  According to an article in Time Magazine  called "The Only Child Myth," this attitude stemmed largely from the "research" of one man, Mr. Granville Stanley Hall, who in 1896 wrote a study called "Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children."   In the study, Mr. Hall called only children "deficient on the social side," "petted," "indulged," "humored," and "spoiled," and since he was the first one to do a study like this, it has virtually gone undebated for the last 114 years.  So now I personally have Mr. Hall to thank for all of my years of growing up with these ridiculous, absurd labels.  Thanks Mr. Granville Hall.

As an only child, I would like to personally debunk these labels, and instead, explain why having one is a great idea.

1.  Only children, for the most part, receive undivided love and attention from both parents.  This doesn't make us "petted" or "indulged."  This makes us confident.  This makes us feel worthy, and in a world where we are constantly inundated with fears and inner-criticisms that we are not good enough, having this extra self-esteem is not a bad thing.

2.  Only children tend to mature quicker.  Although my parents divorced when I was five, I still grew up in a world of adults.  If I wasn't spending time with my mother, grandmother, or grandfather at home, then I was spending time with my dad and his wife.  While playing games with me, they shared their knowledge of the world, and often I was privy to many adult topics.  I didn't mind.  I was flattered.  It didn't turn me into a social misfit.  Instead, it turned me into someone who was a little more thoughtful and reflective at a young age.

3.  Only children benefit from undiluted resources.  Time Magazine states, "the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average child in the U.S. costs his or her parents about $286,050--before college."  When my mother got divorced from my father, she didn't have much.  Child support only went so far.  She had to leave her stay-at-home-mom status to work for minimum wage.  We were far from rich, but my mom still didn't hesitate to get me involved in activities like dance lessons, Girl Scouts, piano lessons, and such.  Being able to join as many activities as I did helped me become an open, well-rounded person.  It also kept me from getting into trouble during my teen years.  In today's economy, it's wise to consider having one child that can benefit from all our available financial resources, especially when our income is becoming less and less due to inflation and a freeze on wages and salaries.  Oh, and did I mention the cost of college today?  Yes, tuition can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 per three-credit course at most four year institutions.  (You can multiply this by 40 courses for a Bachelor's degree.)

3.  Only children choose friends in place of siblings.  Throughout my childhood, I was constantly asked, "Are you an only child?  Oh, you poor thing.  Aren't you lonely?"  It's easy to think that an only child would feel lonely and bored, but in reality, this wasn't the case at all.  First, if I didn't have someone to play with, I'd often play by myself, which I believe, helped me develop quite the imagination.  No, I didn't have an imaginary friend, but I may have had imaginary customers that came in to shop at my own boutique, or imaginary students to teach, or imaginary patients to cure.  During the summer, I usually had a friend come over to the house everyday, and on several occasions, I was allowed to invite a friend on our family camping trips.  It was fun because the friends I chose to be with had the same interests as me and we got along, which doesn't always happen with siblings.  Finally, if I didn't have a friend, I often had my mother or my grandmother who'd love to sit down and play boardgames with me.

4.  Only children become close to their parents.  In most cases, only children do become very close to their parents because we grow up having them as our role models, our support system, and our friends.  I, in essence, became my mom's buddy, and as I grew up, I enjoyed going shopping with her, going to the movies, and going on fun day trips.  Since my parents were divorced, I also became very close to my dad and was his fishing buddy.  The one reality that's true for only children is that we do have to face our parents' death alone--meaning that we are the ones who usually have to take care of all the arrangements and clean out the house, etc. on our own.  I had to face this reality when my father passed away in 2007.  It was hard, but I had the love and guidance from my husband and incredible support from my friends who helped console me along the way.  In the end, the process went smooth because I was the sole executor of the estate, and I had the pleasure of getting all my father's treasured pictures and items--like his old bass boat.  Priceless.

Yes, I'm still uncertain as to whether Lil' Lewie will grow up with a sibling or not.  My husband and I are still a little leary.  However, there is one thing that I can say with all certainty and that is, if we choose to have him and only him, I will never, not one day, worry that he might be "spoiled," "indulged," "selfish," or "petted."  Instead, this boy will be very simply, like many children, loved.

How about you?  Do you want to have anymore children?

Monday's Mommy Moment: The No Monster


Has my two year old learned anything at daycare?  Well, I guess this is kind of a loaded question.  I get a report card every day that lets me know how he did.  Here's an example from last week:

Daily Journal

Participated in the Following Activities:
(The activities below were checked off...)
*  Sensory
*  Story
*  Music

Outdoor Experiences:
(The activities below were checked off...)
*  Glider
*  Balls/hoops
*  Bikes
*  Slide

Played in these Areas of Interest:
(The activities below were checked off...)
*  Sand
*  Doll Care
*  Light Table
*  Dramatic Play
*  Science Tubes
*  Puppets

Then I get a report of how much he ate for his morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack, followed by a log of the time he fell asleep for his nap and the time he woke up.  Finally they let me know about his saturated pee pee diapers and poopy diapers (a.k.a. bowel movements).

It's a very thorough report, and his day usually sounds like it is much more active than when he is home with me.  I'm sure he's learning a lot and gaining tons of new experiences, but at the moment, the only thing that seems to have really changed in the past two months is his vocabulary.  Oh no, you see...he hasn't learned how to say a lot of new words.  He still enjoys his "baby talk."  No, he's only learned one particular word and that word is "NO!" 

Yes, since his second week at daycare, my little boy has turned into the "NO" monster.  Before if he didn't like something, he would shake his head, but now he's learned how to say a very loud, clear, articulate, vocal "NO!"  Yes, this word is the answer he gives me for most of my questions.

Me:   "Lewie, do you want to wake up?"
Son:  "NO!"

Me:   "Lewie, do you want something for breakfast?"
Son:  "NO!"

Me:  "Let's sing a song together."
Son:  "NO!"

Me:  "Do you want to go outside?"
Son:  "NO!"

Me:  "Do you want Mommy to read you a book?"
Son:  "NO, NO, NO!"

Okay, I could continue, and in fact, this goes on for most of my day, so I could write about our "no" conversation for the next ten hours, but I don't want to bore you. In most cases, "no means no," but sometimes his "no" is really a "maybe."  It's difficult to decipher the meaning of all the "no's" and at times, it's downright exhausting.

If I ask him a question, and he doesn't yell "no" then usually I've hit the jackpot.  I've learned that the absence of  "no" really means "yes," and so silence in this house is sometimes welcomed over the sea of "no's."

Yes, oh yes, my little boy loves to yell "NO!"  It will be interesting to see what other little treasure he learns from daycare or other children in the months to come...

"Do you want to finish picking apples Lil' Lewie?"   ...Pause..."NO!"

Friday Fun Flick: Check Out My 'Crib'


Today I started reviewing some of the video footage we've taken of Lil' Lewie, and I came across this little gem...

I love this video of Daddy checking out Lil' Lewie's "crib".  Both of them have what I like to refer to as the "stand-up comedian" gene, and I think it's evident in this video.

Lil' Lewie inherited this house from his cousin Sarah and loves it!  When the weather was nicer, he'd spend most of his afternoons playing inside pretending to talk on the phone and wash dishes.  (Hmmmm, I wonder who he learned that from?)  Then, for a while, he wanted me to start serving his lunch in there.  He has a little seat, so he could comfortably sit and eat while peaking at me through his window.

Now that it's getting colder, his little house days are limited.  We may just have to look into central heating...

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Reasons Why Blogging Makes Me a Better Mom


For a while, I started to feel guilty about blogging.  After all, it takes a lot of time and energy to write posts, to comment on friends' blogs, to make new friends, and to keep everything new and interesting.    When I first started, I felt like blogging was robbing my time away from my little boy, and I became frustrated with myself when I found that I was trying to sneak in comments while my little boy was finishing lunch, watching TV, or playing with Daddy, etc.

Now, six months later, I have a different view about blogging.  For one, I'm no longer obsessed with wanting to write daily posts, and two, it's no longer important for me to try and get a zillion followers.   Now that I've finally let go of this extra pressure, I feel more comfortable about blogging as a hobby, and even more, I'm starting to realize the tremendous benefits that come from it...

Here are the top ten reasons why blogging makes me into a better mom...

10.   I'm keeping a weekly journal of all my little boy's milestones.  (Yes, scrapbooking is great too, but I do have to admit that there is something very cool about posting pictures and writing about my little boy's life as it unfolds.  There will be so many stories and pictures to share with him when he gets older.)

9.  It reminds me to bring my camera.  (Now that I'm hooked on blogging, I see every day as an opportunity to get great pictures.  In the past, I used to miss out on "capturing the moment" because I only brought my camera during special outings.  Now I see every day as a special outing.)

8.  I receive great comments from other moms (a.k.a. my wonderful bloggy friends).  (Every time I post something about my little boy, I get the positive reinforcement that I need to feel like I'm doing a good job.  My sweet friends never hesitate to compliment me on the Halloween costume I chose for Lil' Lewie or the effort I place into trying him to get him involved in my activities, like gardening.  A few nice words from other moms go a long way.)

7.  I receive great advice.  (Over the past few months, I've received some very thoughtful advice from other mommy bloggers.   One such difficult time for me was bringing my little guy to daycare for the very first time.  I was so overwhelmed, and yet, I received an outpour of support and advice from other moms who had to do the exact same thing with their kids.  Their advice and constant reassurance that "Lil' Lewie will adjust" and "things will get easier," provided me with the hopeful optimism I needed to assure myself that I was doing the best thing for him and my family.)

6.  I learn that it's okay to be a "perfectly imperfect" parent.  (I love the sincerity of my bloggy friends.  They are real, authentic, and down-to-earth.  Instead of pretending they are perfect, they admit their struggles.  They admit when their house hasn't been cleaned, when meals haven't been prepared, or when laundry hasn't been washed.  They admit to using the TV as a babysitter because they're so terribly exhausted.  I've learned from the best that being a parent isn't an exact science; instead, it is a work in progress, always needing revision.)

5.  I learn about cool activities for my little guy.  (I'm not the most creative of moms in the world, so at times--okay, most of the time--I need some inspiration from other mommy bloggers.  I've learned about so many great projects, games, and activities to do with my little guy and can't wait to get started on the list I've collected.)

4.  I learn about great products that I can buy or win for my little one.  (I don't have a lot of time to enter contests or giveaways, but at times, there will be a book or type of product that will catch my eye.  I especially feel enlightened to learn about all the green products that are now available for infants, toddlers, and children.)

3.  I learn about incredible places to see and visit.  (It's still amazing to me that we can make friends and communicate with other moms from all over the country and world.  It's a joy to read about other family vacations or day trips; it's even more fun to see the pictures.  My own travel list is now growing, exponentially!) 

2.  I'm receiving a wealth of knowledge.  (It's been said by some critics that bloggers are amateurs and that their writing content has no real value. I beg to differ.  Through my blogging experience, I've learned all about cloth diapering, using baby sign language, making incredible crafts, cooking healthy and delicious meals, and even about home schooling.  Bloggers, especially mommy bloggers, have a wealth of knowledge to share and this knowledge doesn't just come from book smarts; this knowledge comes from real, live experience.)

1.  I learn how to save money.  (Yes, today we can all benefit from learning how to save money.  There are some very sharp and practical blogs dedicated to helping families stay on a budget, and they offer some great inside tips about where to get valuable coupons and discounts on all our favorite foods, diapers, formula, and expensive household items.)

Bonus:  Finally, blogging provides a daily dose of humor in my life.  (At times, I like to blog about funny moments, and at other times, I'm reading about other moms' hilarious moments.  In a world where it's easy to take everything so seriously, it's nice to be reminded that sometimes we just need to stop, take a deep breath, and laugh our ass off.)