Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Mailman Brings Good Cheer

One of the best things about running a resource guide for families is having the ability to connect parents to the information that they need. Something else that's so great about it is having the ability to connect businesses to the information that they need. So a few weeks back when someone I had met a few times called me and told me that she was working for a major magazine now that was revamping their image and she needed a few moms to survey in order for this magazine to revamp their marketing strategy, I was more than happy to put them in touch with a few moms. She did promise that she would send each mom a small present for participating, so I made a few phone calls and sent her a list of 10 moms to call who would be interested in talking to her. Okay, so they were mostly friends of mine, but still, clearly that has it's perks!

A few weeks ago, Self Made Mom posted about joining the frugalista movement which involved missing her Starbucks nonfat-extra-hot-no-water-chai. This happens to be my drink of choice as well, and given my leaving my job, I've also cut out the chai, outside of a few desperate moments.

So how thrilled was I when a $25 gift card to Starbucks arrived in my mailbox from my magazine friend as a thank you for helping her with her survey? Let's just say that for 5 days in a row, I was able to savor the delicious taste of my nonfat-extra-hot-no-water-chai. Guilt free.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Personalized M&M's???

I will confess right now, I am a candy freak. I seriously love candy and truly love chocolate the most. And M&M's, well, they're pretty much a staple in my house. We put them out when we have company over and when we have parties. Oh yeah, and we use them as a prize every time my two year old daughter goes on the potty. And she loves them.

Over the past year or so, I've heard about how M&M's is offering personalized candy. Sort of like SweetHearts with a message written on the candy, but with the M&M's, you can choose the written message. You can actually choose everything about them - the color, the packaging - and now, you can even put a photo on your M&M's!

With Aaron's 6th birthday coming up this weekend and his birthday party next weekend, I had been struggling with what to give as a party favor. In about 5 minutes yesterday, I was able to order M&M's that said "Aaron's 6th Bday" and "Happy Birthday" from mymms.com. When our M&M's arrive this week, I'll divide them up into little bags and be finished with the party favors for this year.

The whole concept of these personalized M&M's are pretty cool. You can choose whatever message you want, which makes them perfect for anything - birthday parties, holidays, weddings, baby showers, the list goes on and on. We were able to choose from 22 different colors, including custom color blends for springtime, sweetheart, wedding and more. Entering the text is simple - you are allowed two lines of 8 characters each and you can have two different messages. For the men in your life, you can order MY TEAM M&M's printed with his favorite NFL team, which is pretty cool. And for grandparents, printing a photo on the M&M's is totally awesome. All in all, the most hardest thing about ordering these M&M's was making up my mind given all of the choices!

One difficulty I did encounter was during the checkout process. I had a gift certificate code that paid for all but $1.38 of my order. At checkout, I selected the "gift certificate & credit card" option, entered my credit card information for the difference and submitted my order. In the end, my credit card was charged for the full amount of my order. Immediately I was on the phone with David from M&M's customer service, who, truthfully couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. He looked everything up on the computer and told me that for some reason, the gift certificate didn't download into their order system. Within about 3 minutes, he had fixed the whole thing for me and gave me a confirmation number for the new order along with his apologies.

So now I'm waiting patiently for my M&M's to arrive. I truly hope that they survive a week in my house and make it to Aaron's birthday party. I'll probably have to give them to my husband and make him hide them from me! (I will post pictures of them when they do arrive!)

Thanks to Mom Central and MyMMs.com!

Monday, December 22, 2008

On Paper, It's Simple

When my daughter was born almost 3 years ago, I was working full time. Although the job was great on paper, I truly couldn't stand it. It was almost a crying-every-morning-as-I-got-out-of-bed type of job. There were alot of things I couldn't stand about it, but first and foremost I was working for an super-extra-large company where the work that I did mattered pretty much only to my boss and his boss. My boss and his boss were both generally disliked so our chain of command was pretty much classified as "the red-headed-step-child" of the department. My responsibilities mostly depended on other people completing their responsibilities, so there was an unbearable amount of waiting around. Oftentimes I would spend my day surfing the internet or having extra long lunches due to the lack of work, but when my colleagues sent me their completed items at 4:45pm and went home, I would wind up having to stay for another 3 - 4 hours to put their information into my highly convoluted spreadsheets. All around it sucked and although the medical benefits were truly amazing, I couldn't stay there. It wasn't for me. Or my desire to stay sane.

Since my days were often spent waiting for other employees to complete their work, I had a good amount of time on my hands. I started daydreaming of starting my own business and working for myself. Those daydreams eventually turned to serious thinking. Why couldn't I do something on my own? I went through a number of opportunities until I found the right one, and within a few months, Long Island Parent Source was born. Described as an online guide that centralizes resources for families on Long Island, it slowly gained popularity. I soon left my job for a part time job, giving me the ability to put more work into the site. We all know how that ended, so we''ll just move on.

Right now, I find myself with time. As a mom, I've become accustomed to saying and feeling "I just don't have time" but now that Aaron is in school and Camryn is with our babysitter, during the daytime working hours, I truly have time. Time to work. Time I should be spending calling businesses, educating them about the site, giving them information and working with them to get their business listed in our directory. Because businesses listing in our directory means that they pay actual money. Doesn't seem so hard, right?

Wrong. On paper, it sounds so simple. Pick up the phone. Dial. Tell someone about the site. Get them listed. The end. In actuality, it's not that easy. Why? Because I am scared. Petrified. Like ready to vomit and have an anxiety and panic attack and want to cry at the thought of the dreaded S word - SALES. There are so many reasons this shouldn't be an obstacle for me. Generally I can talk to anyone. I love the site. I am so passionate about helping families and helping businesses. It's an easy thing for me to talk about. And the ultimate reason being that if this website doesn't work out for me on the sales front, I'm on my way back to an office job working for someone else - something I DO NOT want to do. Under any circumstances. Because I've tasted the sweetness of this independent life and I want it to continue. Forever and ever.

I love having the freedom to work for myself. I work during the day but can also run errands, be visible at both of my kids' schools and spend time with my kids after school. The other side of it is that I wind up putting in more hours than I would at another type of job because there's no guaranteed paycheck hitting my bank account every other Friday.

So today, I put on my big girl underwear (it's an expression, my friends) and made 10 (count 'em, TEN) cold calls to local businesses. Nine bowling alleys and a book store. One person didn't even let me speak before he hung up on me, others transferred me to someone's voice mail and still others gave me a name of someone I should speak to. The important thing to me though was not getting someone on the phone, it was actually dialing the number and speaking when the person answered the phone. Not hanging up on someone was a HUGE milestone for me. Yes, pretty sad, I know, but this is me. And I did it. Really did it. And I didn't vomit. Or have a panic attack. Or get struck by a lightning bolt coming out of the sky.

Today I'm pretty proud of myself. I'm making a goal for 2009 is that twice each week I will call 10 businesses. And then the following week I will follow up with those businesses. I will become the type of salesperson that businesses want to talk to because I will prove to them that I am here to help them, not to shmooze them into sending me a check. 2009 will be a great year for me. For LIParentSource.com. For my family. Because we will all be successful in everything we set out to do.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bedtime Stories

From the time Aaron was little, he had a routine at bedtime. We would read books and then sit with him in the rocking chair while his CD was playing music until he fell asleep. Then, and only then, we would carefully maneuver him into his crib. If he woke up, the whole thing would start all over again. Some nights were relatively quick, while others took hours. He would sleep with various stuffed animals and a number of pacifiers (one for his mouth, one for each hand and a few extra just in case). When he turned two years old he cried every single night because all he wanted to do was sleep in my bed. We let him "cry it out" a number of times which got harder as he got older because he would yell actual words ("Mommy, I need you, come here please") as opposed to just general wailing. When he was about two and a half years old, I would have to sit on the floor and hold his hand while he fell asleep in his crib. That ended pretty quickly after one night of my pregnant self not being able to get up from the floor. By the time he came out of his crib at 3 years and 2 months old, he transitioned pretty easily into a bed. (Please no comments about how old he was when he came out of the crib - if I hadn't needed it for Camryn when she was born, he still might be in the crib!). The routine changed, but didn't get much shorter. The new routine consisted of reading books, telling stories and then laying there with him for awhile. Not until he fell asleep, but for a good while. At almost 6 years old, his bedtime routine consists of reading a book, talking a little and then he goes to sleep. Good night, see ya tomorrow.

When Camryn was born, I swore up, down and sideways that she would NOT have any type of bedtime routine. We would put her into the crib when she was awake and she learned to put herself to sleep. No pacifer. No 45 minute route. No sitting on the floor while she fell asleep. Just bottle and crib. Good night. She has always been a great sleeper, going to bed at 7pm and waking up at 7am. When she woke up, she would play in her crib until we came in to get her. We thought we did it - we had at least one child who could go to bed quickly. Until now. At two and a half years old, Camryn now required a crazy bedtime routine. First she and Aaron jump on Aaron's bed (with Craig's supervision, of course). When they're done jumping, they lay down and Craig reads them a book. Camryn doesn't always listen, but it's usually a relatively short book, with outbursts of "Camryn, stop" and "Camryn, sit down." They get through the book, have already brushed teeth and washed hands and then Camryn goes into her room. After she needs a drink/ different pajama pants/different socks/has to pee, she needs to hear a story. Not a book, but a made up story. With Craig, he makes up elaborate stories. Not me. With me, she gets the same story every night. She picks the character (Miss Beth/Miss JudiAnn/Mr. Chris/Mr. Nick/Shrek/Fiona/Dora/Diego/Boots/Swiper) and then whoever she picks goes to school and hurts their knee. Don't look at me - she asks for this story. Every. Single. Solitary. Night. Multiple times!

So, alas, both of my kids have crazy bedtime routines where we start putting them to bed about an hour and a half before we actually walk out of their bedrooms. It's a giant pain. However, in my heart of hearts, I know I shouldn't complain because one day I will want to tell Camryn the story of whoever hurt their knee, have her jump on Aaron's bed or sit with Aaron until he falls asleep.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kids Remember

Aaron's birthday is coming up, he'll be 6. Either that means that he's getting old or I'm getting old, old enough to have a 6 year old. A little scary either way you look at it.

The other day we were talking about what we would do on his birthday. Mostly because as the slacker mom that I am, by the time I booked his birthday party, the day of his actual birthday was all booked up, so we have to have it the next week. I keep telling myself him that it just makes his birthday longer. Anyway, in our discussion about what we should do on his birthday, we talked about going out to dinner to a hibachi restaurant where they cook in front of you. We talked about inviting Grandma and Papa and maybe even Grandma Cheryl.

Here's the conversation that followed.

Aaron: Grandma Cheryl can come too?
Me: Yes, we can ask her.
Aaron: But Papa Bill can't come because he died.
Me: Right.
Aaron: Mommy, if Papa Bill didn't die, I would have wanted him to come to my birthday.
Me: Me too.

In the six months that my father in law has been gone, Aaron really hasn't talked about him. I wondered if he understood, remembered or how his almost 6 year old mind had processed the whole thing. Clearly he both understands and remembers both his Papa Bill and how much they loved each other, which makes me happy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Many Faces of Camryn

All kids have many faces, right? Here are the many faces of Camryn, at 2 1/2 years old.

The silly face...













The confused face...













The annoyed face...













And the cutest face ever!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What My iPod Says...

A few days ago, my friend Darcie at Such the Spot posted a meme that she got from Merrie at Sleepless Mornings. Darcie says that Merrie has the best memes, and if Darcie says it, it must be true. So I decided to swipe it from Darcie.

Here are the rules. Grab your iPod and put your music on shuffle. Copy down the questions and the answer to each question is the title and artist of the song that plays. Got it? Great--- here we go.

If someone says, “Is this okay?” you say? Trainwrecked by Elliot Yamin (remember him from American Idol?)

What best describes your personality? Landmine by Train

What do you look for in a guy? Black and Blue by Counting Crows (not a great answer, huh?)

How do you feel today? Following Rita by Train

What is your life’s purpose? Home Life by John Mayer

What is your motto? Trust Me by The Frey

What do your friends think of you? Sorry To A Friend by Edwin McCain

What do you think about often? Raining in Baltimore by Counting Crows

What do you think of your best friend? Drugs or Jesus by Tim McGraw

What do you think of the person you like (in my case I’m assuming this refers to the person I married)? I Know Where I've Been by Queen Latifah (from the movie version of Hairspray)

What is your life story? Have A Nice Day by Bon Jovi

What do you want to be when you grow up? I Wish I Was A Girl by Counting Crows

What do you think when you see the person you like? Like We Never Loved At All by Faith Hill & Tim McGraw

What do your parents think of you? No More Sad Songs by Clay Aiken

What will you dance to at your wedding? All At Once by The Frey

What will they play at your funeral? Sun's Gonna Rise by Shannon Curfman (from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Soundtrack)

What is your biggest secret? Something Is Missing by John Mayer

What do you think of your friends? Supposed to Be by Jack Johnson

What is the worst thing that could happen? Angels of the Silences by Counting Crows

How will you die? Longing by Tony Lucca

What is the one thing you regret? She's on Fire by Train

What makes you laugh? Home by Daughtry

What makes you cry? Humble Me by Norah Jones

Will you ever get married? These are Days by 10,000 Maniacs

What scares you the most? Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett

Does anyone like you? Meet Virginia by Train

If you could go back in time what would you change? Wild Mountain Honey by Steve Miller Band

What hurts right now? Clarity by John Mayer

What will you post this as? To Whom it May Concern by Lisa Marie Presley

Some notes - For some reason, my iPod today felt a huge affection for Train, Counting Crows and John Mayer. I do not have a large proportionate number of songs from these artists, but the iPod just felt the love. We had a great afternoon with this music, so thank you to Darcie!

If you try this, post your link in the comments below.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa


I've mentioned a bunch of times in this blog that even at 6 years old, Aaron is obsessed with movies. He loves to watch them and knows almost everything about them, including when they came out in the theaters and when they are coming onto DVD. He's almost obsessive about owning movies as soon as they are released to DVD and has a collection that I will call ridiculous for a 6 year old. Or for anyone, for that matter. As he's getting older, he's also getting more interested in all of the licensed things that tend to come out right along with the movie - the character figures, books, soundtracks, clothing, pajamas and now, video games. So when we were selected to be a part of Mom Central's blog tour for the release of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, I knew that Aaron would make sure that we played the game about, um, a bazillion times.

The idea behind the game is shown in a little clip as soon as you turn the game on, so you're good even if you haven't seen either of the movies yet. The clip explains that the characters from the first Madagascar movie were left marooned on the distant shores of Madagascar and have hatched a plan to get themselves off the island. The penguins sort of repair an old crashed plane, which, in the midst of their flight winds up crashing into the African plains. Having been raised in a zoo, all of the animals that we know from the movie are now encountering species of their own kind for the very first time. To get through the game, the player must go through specific tasks and complete them before moving on to another task.

When we received the Wii version of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, I was a little nervous because Aaron has not yet mastered the coordination needed to play most Wii games, and this game required the use of both the controller and the nunchuck at the same time. The night before Thanksgiving, we sat down to play it together and we both were happy that it was a great game!

On the pro side, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa kept Aaron's interest for a significant amount of time (around 45 minutes), something that's proving to be pretty challenging for us with many video games - the level of frustration he encounters due to of not having all of the coordination necessary for many of the Wii games gives us usually about 10 minutes on a game before he decides he doesn't want to play anymore. Part of the reason he was into this game was because of the characters - he knew them all from the movies, online and all of the other paraphernalia that he has collected. All of his favorite characters were there - Marty, Alex, Gloria, Melman - and he loved being able to make them all do funny things - Alex could roar and do crazy jumps, Marty could run really fast and kick, Gloria could do a butt bounce (pretty funny to a 6 year old). The graphics on the game were awesome and Melman, who served mostly as the narrator, was pretty funny. Some of the humor might have gone over Aaron's head, but it was entertaining for me. Another plus is that you can play the game either alone or in multi-player mode, which allows you to play against others. Always fun in a game that involves racing, and of course, butt-bounces.

A review is not a review without some cons, but these aren't awful for sure. One thing that bothered me a little bit was that you weren't able to move on to another task without completing the first. Some of the tasks were a little bit confusing and although Aaron and I were playing it together, even I wasn't sure how to accomplish it. As the narrator, Melman was sometimes a little difficult to understand, and at some points in the game we lost him. We couldn't find him on the screen and wound up with our character wandering aimlessly around the desert, mostly because we didn't know what we were supposed to do. Some of the tasks were on the difficult side and we had trouble completing them - at one point I had to have my husband come in and get us through one of the tasks just so we could get to what came next.

All in all, I'm glad that we were able to be a part of this blog tour with Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Aaron and I have played numerous times since Thanksgiving, and it's something that is alot of fun for us to do together. If your child is the type who wants to play their video games on their own, I think that this would be a great game for the 8 - 12 year old range. Younger than that, it's a great game for parents and kids to play together.

This post was cross-posted to LIParentSource.com, an online guide centralizing resources for families on Long Island, NY.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My First Blog Contest!!

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is, of course, the food. It's the one holiday that we're not tied to food with any religious affiliation and year after year, I look forward to all the different foods that we're going to eat. In the past three years, we've taken to hosting our family for Thanksgiving and have a bazillion kids running around and not anywhere near the same number of adults, but it's nice to have everyone in our house.

This year, according to Pillsbury, Home is Calling. And they've asked me to give away a great prize! I'm so excited because this is my first bloggy contest and I'll give one lucky winner * this great Home is Calling basket pictured here.


This gift basket includes
  • coupon for a FREE package of Pillsbury refrigerated crescent rolls,
  • magnetic coupon holder,
  • house shaped mouse pad,
  • pot holders,
  • cookie sheet,
  • bread basket and
  • Pillsbury Doughboy figurine.
Here's how to win. Leave a comment on this blog about what your most favorite Pillsbury product is. Please make sure to leave a valid e-mail address so that I can contact you if you are the winner (you can also leave the address of your blog, if you have one). Winner will be chosen at random and you have until midnight on Friday, November 27, 2008.

*Note that two additional baskets will be given away on LIParentSource.com

Too Much Dora?

Coming home from a birthday party today, we pulled into the driveway and as I'm getting out of the car, my two year old yells "Open my door! Abre! Abre! Abre!"

Is a Spanish speaking two year old (when we're not Spanish nor do we speak Spanish) the sign of too much Dora the Explorer?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

To kajeet or not kajeet, that is the question....

Everywhere I go I see people on cell phones. Old people, young people. My kids, ages 5 and 2, both know how to dial and work my Blackberry. They know what it is, that it gets e-mail, that you can text message people and talk on it as a phone. I remember when I was younger, I had a friend who had a phone in her parents' car. It was a brick - this whole contraption that they had to carry around with them. Fast forward a few years to my first cell phone. It was that grey Motorola flip phone, you know the one that everyone had, with the plastic antenna? It was cool and cutting edge. Ack.

kajeet is a company that has come up with a great product - phones for teens and tweens that can be monitored by their parents. No contracts. No overage charges because everything is prepaid. They can talk. They can text. They can go on the internet and download content. Safely. It's a pretty cool product, I was able to try one out, and I definitely recommend it for parents who want to maybe "test" their child's responsibility level. Great bonus? Click this link to visit kajeet and get 10% off your entire purchase!

Here's a great video that the folks at kajeet put together about their product that explains it much more succinctly than I ever could.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Finally Did It.....

Over the summer, I posted here about a crossroads that I had come to in my life with respect to my work and my career. I am happy and sort of proud to say that I have surpassed the crossroads as of this past week. It sort of goes back a long way.

Around the time I got pregnant with my daughter, I was working full time at a job that I knew wasn't my whole future. I was the Controller for a retail chain of stores and worked in a small office, but made good money and liked my job. I had been working there for about 2 years when I got pregnant with Camryn, and slowly realized that I was working in a total boys club. Pretty much if you weren't a man in their inner circle, your days were numbered. I wasn't sure exactly how numbered my days were until about a month after I announced I was pregnant, my job was eliminated. Clearly illegal disturbing, but a story for another time.

Here's a fact - being pregnant and job hunting are not a very desirable combination for any potential employer. I did find a job, and surprise of all surprises, it was actually a better job than I had been pushed out of let go from. They were very nice and supportive, I worked for 4 months and then took maternity leave for 3 and came back to my job there waiting for me. Only now that I wasn't pregnant anymore and had two children at home, this job was not where I wanted to be. I decided that I wasn't going to be one of those women who complained all the time that they had to work and mope around about it, because I truly didn't want any misery to overflow into my personal life and my time with my family. So I gave myself a time frame - I knew I wanted to do something for myself and I gave myself six months to figure out exactly what that was going to be and then a year to implement it to the point where I could leave my job.

In that time period, LIParentSource was born. Through ParentClick, I had the opportunity to start a business, do something on my own and service parents in my area by providing a resource to make their lives easier.

A few months later, I was given the opportunity to take a job working 3 days per week with a flexible schedule and flexible hours. This meant so many things to me - I could be around for my kids 2 days during the week, take them to school, put my son on the bus for camp and work on my new business. Two whole days sounded like alot of time.

At first the job was great. Small company. Family owned. Great values. Flexible schedule. But then the little things started creeping up. I called in sick. Once. And it was an issue. Alot of little things that made me feel like I wasn't given the tools to get this job done the way that I wanted to. 100%. And I don't do anything half-assed, so I felt like I was failing. So many times I felt like I was drowning, like I just couldn't keep my head above water.

My husband tried to get me to quit, but I felt like such a spoiled brat. How could I walk away from a job that paid me a good salary to work part time? From a job that gave me a flexible schedule? From a job that gave me the security of a paycheck let allowed me to be around my kids? But there was another side. It was also a job that for what it was, was causing me alot of stress. A job that was a total joke in the skill that was required for the work that was assigned to me and that I could do with my eyes closed. A job that gave me anxiety about going there almost every day. A job that generally was making me miserable and unable to enjoy the other aspects of my life.

So last week during a conversation with the company owner, we started discussing the things that I was doing. And I voiced my opinions about how I was not being given the tools to get done what I needed to get done. About how I felt that without these tools I was going to fail. And about how I needed certain things to give the company what it needed and what they wanted. He pushed back, and pushed back hard. At the end of the conversation, I found a voice inside of me that I never knew existed. Once it started talking, it seemed to take on a life of it's own. And it was standing up for me, giving me what I wanted, even if I wasn't able to take it myself.

The voice said, "Maybe this just isn't working out." And that was the end, I am now an ex-employee.

And so the next chapter of my life begins, and it's frightening. I see such great things for my own business, I have such ideas and things I want to do. But my excuse of just not having the time is no longer there as a crutch. It's no longer an excuse. If I fail now, it's because I failed. And that's something that is not an option.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bedtime Routines

By day, she's an adorable little girl, pretty cool clothes, curly blond hair and big blue eyes. She says the most adorable things. Like yesterday, she looked at Grandma's shoes and said, "Grandma, mommy have same shoes," and then ran inside I got them. Pretty good for a 2 and a half year old, they were very similar, outside of the color, but who cares? She eats, she takes a pretty good nap, she doesn't mind when I leave for work and she's mostly nice to her brother. At night though, the wild beast emerges and my husband and I look at each other as if to ask, "Who is this?"

Our routine has been dinner, bath and bedtime. Because our first-born's bedtime routine sometimes exceeds 45 minutes (yup, books, stories, then it starts - Can you lay with me/send mommy in/send daddy in/give me a drink/I have to pee?) when our daughter was born, we made a conscious effort for her to have pretty much zero routine. Have the bottle and go in the crib. Usually awake. And it worked for us, until now.

Last night, we ate dinner and then she burst out crying hysterically at the mention of a bath. She now doesn't like the faucet on, which is semi-understandable because it is pretty loud. But, her new rule, which she screamed and cried for a good while, is NO TOYS IN THE BATH. Yes, zero. They have to be outside of the tub. Not even in the bag in the tub, but truly outside of the tub. This is reminiscent of when she was petrified of the bath after she pooped during one, but that's neither here nor there. We complied with her rule (anything to stop the crying), she took a bath and was herself again. Until someone mentioned the dreaded word - BEDTIME.

Hysteria. We read books. Two to be exact. And twice each. Dora and Sesame Street. Then she decided she needed socks. Of course, the white socks that she was wearing weren't good. She needed the Elmo socks. I'm sure you've already guessed that they were in the laundry. And I don't usually do laundry, so she was pretty much out of luck. Crying again. Finally we found socks that were okay - they were pink ("my favorite color") so she was pretty happy with it. Almost ready to go into the crib, but no, the wrong baby is in there. The pink baby is in the crib, of course, because she's been sleeping with that baby for about a month, and she wanted the white baby. Where's the white baby? It's downstairs. So I leave her in her room and go downstairs to get the baby. She then decides that the baby's face is dirty and we have to clean it. Took out the wipes, wiped the baby's face and then the baby was totally ready for bed. Oh wait, we have to pick out a CD to listen to. She decides that she wants the "orange CD". What's the problem? We don't have an orange CD. We have a purple CD, a name CD and a few white ones, but no orange one. So trying not to lose my patience, we put on the purple CD and she goes in the crib. Quietly, no crying and I think I'm in the clear.

So hubby and I sit down to catch up on Army Wives (new favorite show, by the way) and of course, the crying starts. I'm done, so it's his turn. He's in there for about 10 minutes going through the same thing I just went through with her - change the socks, change the CD, clean the baby. Finally, he's out and she's still crying. At this point, we decide to just let her cry it out. After about 5 minutes, she's still crying and as we sit down, he says, "I think you're making a mistake letting her cry."

Yes, he did. He really did. He really said that. And as if that wasn't bad enough, he didn't understand why I got pissed off and why I went into her room. That was like saying, "Hey, you're the worst mother in the world, but keep doing what you're doing." UGGGGGH.

The end result was, I did go in to her room, we changed the CD AGAIN, and she finally laid down and went to sleep. Total time spent, about an hour and a half. And not a fun hour and a half.

I hope that she goes back to her regular bedtime routine of pretty much nothing. A book then the crib then sleeping for about 12 hours. Just when you get used to a routine, these kids go and change it up on you. Hoping that tomorrow night goes a little bit easier....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Love the Wii, Love Wii Music?

Last year, my husband wanted to buy my son a Wii for Hanukkah. I didn't think that a 5 year old needed a Wii. After much debate, I won. Thinking about it a little while later, I came to a conclusion - my husband wanted the Wii for himself and decided to disguise it as a gift for our son. Pretty smart, heh? Clearly it didn't go as he had planned.

Fast forward to April, husband's birthday. Guess what he got as his gift? Wow, you're smart! Yup, a Wii. It's now been about 6 months and game collectors we certainly are not - we have Wii Sports (it came with it), two other games that I have no idea what they are/what they do/how to play them, the Wii Fit (another story for another day) and, Guitar Hero which we L-O-V-E. When Nintendo sent us an advance copy of Wii Music last month, our pathetic excuse for a game collection increased, AND we scored some bonus points with friends thought it was cool that (a) Nintendo sent us stuff and (b) we were given the game before it was out in stores.

We've played it a few times and definitely think it's pretty cool. My two year old daughter was able to play it, as were my six year old son and my husband, none of whom have any musical training whatsoever. Me (and my 14 years of piano and 10 years of violin lessons) as well as a friend whose in a pretty cool band, were all able to play Wii Music and have fun. Pretty much no skills are necessary, but if you got 'em, use 'em. There's a great tutorial that teaches you how to hold the contoller and nunchuck to play the different instruments (there are 60 of them) and you go through the motions of actually playing the instrument. You can create and play with your miis, play with friends or alone, record your music and make videos. If you have the balance board from Wii Fit, you can set it up and use it as a drum set, also pretty cool. The kids will recognize the songs like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" as opposed to mainly radio songs. All in all, a super creative game, and if you get into thinking about the making of video games, you realize that whoever thought up this whole idea is pretty freakin' cool!

However, heed this warning - if you consider yourself a "gamer" and are competitive with your video games, this is not a game for you. Why? Pretty much because there's no actual game. There's no beginning, there's no end, there's no score, there's no beat the evil guy and get to the next level. There's play the music, play the different instruments and see what you can do with it. Don't get me wrong, Wii Music has gotten some pretty awful reviews, which is certainly not where I'm going. It's fun. It's great to play with your kids and let them experiment. You're not though going to sit for hours upon hours as you can do with games like Guitar Hero or Lego Batman (don't have it, I've just heard).

You can purchase Wii Music at Amazon.com for $49.99.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I Hate To Say I Told You So But......

Back in July, I posted here about DeAnna and Jesse. Did you forget about them? The Bachelorette who made the worst decision of her life and chose the wrong guy? Yes, it's been awhile and I don't think about it anymore, but every once in awhile, I see them on tv or online and I get mad all over again. But, in my open letter to DeAnna, I said that she and Jesse weren't meant to be. That they wouldn't ever get married. And as of today, I was right. Apparently, DeAnna wasn't even so nice about it. She used the "I love you but I'm not in love with you." Oohhhhh. She told him when she came back to Breckenridge, they were at the airport and he was getting her bags. Ack. Jeez DeAnna, let the guy down a little easy. I do feel bad for Jesse because he looks miserable in this video. I don't want to say I told you so, so I won't, but....


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Go Out For Dinner

Awhile back I learned about Restaurant.com - a website where there are always deals on dining out. With our economy in the state that it is, every penny counts and families all over are looking for ways to save without a dramatic change to their lifestyle. Restaurant.com is a great way to do this - you can buy gift certificates for popular restaurants at discounted rates, for example, you can purchase a $25 gift certificate for $10. A great part is that Restaurant.com offers a guarantee - if the restaurant you buy a gift certificate for for some reason won't honor it, contact Restaurant.com via phone or e-mail and they'll take care of it. So great deals, great meals and great customer service - can't beat it.

If you're thinking that only lousy restaurants are part of this deal, think again. You can dine at great restaurants, just at a discount. In our area there are extremely high end restaurants offering these discounts and so many families are using these certificates to eat there!

So now it gets better. Through October 31, 2008 (that's THIS FRIDAY), Restaurant.com is offering 80% off all gift certificates! That means that you can buy a $25 gift certificate for only $2 by using the code TREATS at check out.

Hope that you enjoyed the tip!

Friday, October 24, 2008

What a Treat!

A few weeks back, I was asked by BSM Media to be a panelist on the Mommy Blogger Monologues in NYC, a conference where PR people and companies attend to learn about marketing with, approaching and working with mommy bloggers to market their companies and clients on the internet. Why mommy bloggers? Because we rock, of course! The fabulous women on the panel were Gabrielle (Design Mom & kirtsy), Kim P. (Jogging in Circles), Kim C. (Mom in the City), Amy O. (Filming in Brooklyn & Selfish Mom), Kelcey (mama bird diaries), Alexis (The Intrepid Mompreneur) and Andi (Mama Knows Breast).

Things here got a little nutty over herre and I didn't get a chance to write about the panel (which was totally amazing of course), but you can read all the details here, here and here.

Of course I was totally honored that I would be asked to participate in this event, much less be on the panel of experts, and the honor floated me through the next few days. Being with these women motivated me and I came home with a modified outlook on where I wanted to go with my business, how I wanted to market and what I wanted to market, among so many other things.

That was almost two weeks ago, although comingled with the daily grind, it seems so much further away in my mind.

Yesterday when I got home after a long day, I was surprised to see a box on my doorstep. Seeing the return address said Selma's and underneath that said cookies cookies cookies, I can tell you that even with no husband or kids at home, that box was opened in record time fairly quickly. The note inside said it was from BSM Media, who organized the panel, as a thank you to me for participating. It truly should have been from me thanking them for having me on a panel full of these amazing, amazing women. Anyway, back to the cookies....

Warning: The contents of this box that I am about to show you is not for the faint of heart. You truly may need to look away.


If you can't get the true size of those cookies, they are 3 1/2 inches wide (according to Selma's website).

And there were 6 of them. SIX. Oh, did I mention that on Monday my husband declared that he was on a diet? Good luck with these cookies.

Of course I had to check out Selma's website. Immediately. Here's what I found.

Selma's is a cookie movement with two US bakeries - one in Orlando and Las Vegas, to serve the East and West coasts, respectively. Each cookie is 1/4 pound. Seriously, no joke. I could seriously eat all six of these cookies BY MYSELF and, well, I'll just let you do the math. I did share one with my son (we each had a quarter) and apparently my husband ate a half of another one last night, although he claims that my dog at most of it. Hmmm.....

These cookies were ridiculous. Ridiculously good, of course. I need though to get them out of my house so I don't eat the rest of them! They are now on my list of treats that I love, of that I am absolutely 100% positively sure.

Need a gift? Buy 'em. Okay, you should also buy them even if you don't need a gift. They're that good. I'm just sayin'.....

Sunday, October 19, 2008

That's What You Get For Making Plans.....

I am not a social planner. I don't like to pack my weekends with activity after activity. As a matter of fact, people that know me will say that I hate to make plans. I wouldn't necessarily use the word hate, but I'd rather spend time with our family, catching up and winding down from our guaranteed-to-have-been-very-hectic week. Not to say I never make plans, but more often that not, our weekends have just a plan or two, never really more than that.

A friend who has been single for as long as we've known him recently moved in with his girlfriend. To New Jersey. And not just right over the bridge which would make it, although inconenient to visit, not a ridiculous trip. No, the moved far into New Jersey, a place where it would take us a good hour and a half to drive to.Their housewarming party was impacted by the hurricane back in September (pretty much no one showed) so they invited our family and a few others over for this weekend. Not to sleep over, just for an afternoon, to hang out, drink, eat and relax. Well, maybe not so much relaxing as we were bringing the kids, but we could pretend, right?

Friday afternoon, Aaron gets off the bus. We're in the midst of chaos because he had a scheduled playdate, but we had to wait for Camryn to wake up from her nap before we could leave. While he was having a snack, he wanted to draw. Here are the end results of his drawing/writing. (Note that he is 5 years old and in kindergarten and did not ask for spelling help on this project, at all).

"Friday at 341pm October 17
At school my eye felt
lick it was
bleiteng
and it is not
feleing batr."


He decided to show this to me as we were walking out the door. I read it and once I fully understood what it said, I performed my version of a thorough examination of his eye. No red. No pink. It wasn't watery. It wasn't itchy (I asked). No discharge. No crust. Of course, I'm not doctor, but it looked fine to me. I called his friend's mom about the playdate and explained the situation. Of course by this time it was 4pm, we were sitting in our driveway and we were already supposed to have been there already. She said come, her son had been asking for us since he got home from school. At 230.

When we got there (about 15 minutes later), white goop had already formed in the corner of Aaron's eye. And within about 20 minutes, his eye was puffy, swollen and red. So we apologized, decided to pack it in and left. One 15 minutes drive and three phone calls to the doctor later, we were sitting in the pediatrician's office hearing, "Oh yes, definitely pink eye." Prescription for eye drops (always fun to put into a 5 year old's eye) and two copays later, we were on our way. Why two copays? Because while we were there, Camryn, always the joiner, decided that her eye hurt and her ear hurt. The doctor looked at her eye, looked at her ear, decided nothing was wrong and billed our insurance. Technically, he did examine her, but really.

Fast forward to Saturday morning, 7am. "Mommy," I hear in my sleep. "Mommy, I can't open my eye. It's stuck." For the next half hour, Aaron and I are in the bathroom using warm water and a washcloth to remove the good from his eye and let him finally see out of both eyes. From about 8am until 10am, husband and I debated the virtues of going to our friends' house with Aaron and his infected eye. He had been on the drops since the night before. It was already looking even better than it had in the morning. It wasn't gooping anymore. We really didn't want to spend the whole day in the house with both kids and nothing to do, nowhere to go. We really didn't want to cancel on them again, after the housewarming party debacle. Maybe Grandma and Grandpa could babysit? Nope, they made plans. Do we go or not go? Another friend was supposed to go as well with their little baby. Uh-oh. We're out. I'm not being the could-you-believe-they-brought-their-kid-with-pink-eye mom. After letting our friends know we were bowing out and having their male half not so subtly suggest that husband go on his own (yea, right), we canceled and started to deal with the fact that we're in the house, with the kids, one sick but not that sick, for the whole day. And we can't go anywhere. At all.

All was not lost. Our house was truly able to reap the benefits of Aaron's pink eye. Camryn's summer clothes were emptied from her drawer and packed away. Clothes that we had received for her that would now fit her were brought up from the basement, washed and put away in her drawers. Shoes that are too small on her were taken out. Camryn, in the midst of her clothing before it was packed away was convinced that it all still fit her, tried to get the shoes on and ran around yelling that she wanted to wear her "babing suit".

On to my closets. The tub that I had packed away my winter clothes in before the summer? Couldn't find it. Oh, right, it's still in the hallway - very convenient. Packed away the summer clothes, took out the winter clothes. I forgot I had half these sweaters, and oohhhh, I can't wait to wear my Ugg boots again. Cleaned out the closet and the drawers. Five bags of clothes to donate, one bag of Camryn's clothes to give to a friend and two bags of garbage later, my closets and drawers are neat and clean and full of clothes have clothes that I can wear for the fall and winter.

Before:

























After:

























Here's my favorite before and after:










The pictures are evidence that all was not lost when we had to cancel our plans. On the bright side, we did manage to avoid 4+ hours in the car with both kids. Every cloud has a silver lining.....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ten Things...

It's been a pretty rough couple of weeks. Not quite sure why, but I've been in a funk. It happens from time to time but this ones been rough and I seem to be taking it out on everyone around me. All the time. Not a great way to make friends! Tonight I was thinking about what my blog post would be and a top 10 list came to mind. Only it wasn't a great top 10 list. 10 things I want to change about myself. In my mind it then morphed into 10 things I don't like about myself. But between the time I thought of it and now when I actually sat down to write, I realized that writing that list would push me deeper into my funk, deeper into a place that I really just don't want to be. Trying to think positive, my list has further morphed into 10 things that I DO like about me. Here we go....

  1. I'm smart. I've never had a problem in school. Ever. I always got pretty good grades, made honor roll in high school, dean's list in college. I did well on my SAT's, never failed a Regents exam or final, got into the college I wanted, the program I wanted and graduated with a pretty good GPA. Oh, and I also passed the CPA exam (after a few tries) which is pretty rough goings.
  2. I'm good at my jobs. I'm talking about my actual paid job. I'm pretty good at it. I'm an accountant and the Controller for a real estate management firm. I get my work done and done well. I can implement systems, delegate work and wind up with the right answer and the right numbers and the right report. I've always gotten good performance evaluations at all the jobs I've had, this one no exception. I'm also good at running my own business, although that's maybe not really considered a "job", mostly because it doesn't pay. Yet. But one day it will, so I guess it qualifies here.
  3. I'm a long term friend. Most of the friends that I have, I've had for years. And by years I mean between 20 and 30. My best friend is from kindergarten, almost 30 years. I have two close friends that I went to camp with when I was 12. I'm still close with most of my wedding party (actually all but 1, but that's another story). I try not to be close with one person one day and then someone else the next. The people I'm friends with, I'm friends with for a long time.
  4. I'm a good friend. Sort of goes with #3, but different enough. I'm a good friend. I'm here to listen, give advice and help when needed. I'll be honest with you but not hurt your feelings. I don't cancel plans at the last minute. And I'll do whatever it takes to help you when you need me.
  5. I have nice hair. It had to get sort of superficial somewhere. I personally think my hair is okay, but I've been told by alot of people that it's "sooooo nice". It's dark brown, straight and pretty thick. And usually shiny, which is nice.
  6. I'm funny. In a snarky and sarcastic sort of way, but I definitely make people laugh. Usually I don't even mean to, but I like when I do.
  7. I've got a dimple. Okay, minds out of gutters. On my cheek. On my face. I always thought dimples were cute. Only not on the Cabbage Patch Kids. I digress. I've got one cute dimple on my cheek and it's pretty cute.
  8. My feet are cute. Really, I think they are. My second toe is not bigger than my big toe, and I like that. Something weird, but it made my list.
  9. I'm a connector. Of people. I love it. I love talking to someone and they mention something they need and I know someone who can be that person for them. I love making good recommendations and I love when people take my advice and tell me how right I was. :)
  10. I've read alot of books. Okay, coming up with 10 things was a stretch so this one may be a reach but it's true. I dont' mean children's books or picture books or even magazines. I mean honest to goodness books. Kane & Abel by Jeffrey Archer is the best book ever. Really, really ever. It was written before I was born but nonetheless, greatest book I have ever read. Okay, fine, right now my book of choice is Stori Telling by Tori Spelling, but I do read real books.
Okay, so those were my 10 things. Maybe not great, but a good exercise for me. Maybe I'll try and think of one more thing each day. Sort of a "live positively" vibe for me, something new. You never know, right?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sometimes Helps to Be First


Almost 6 years ago, I gave birth to my son. For our family it was the first child and the first grandchild, but among our friends, it was also the first baby. I know my husband since 5th grade and know many of his friends longer than that, some since nursery school. So it was amazing (and comical) to see these guys come to the hospital and our house, and have absolutely NO CLUE what to do with a little baby, what to bring and how to act.

Now that all of our friends have a child, and some with 2, 3 or even 4, new babies in our group are no longer the novelty that they once were. But even now, we are meeting new friends, some of whom are getting ready to have their first babies, and where are they coming for advice? You guessed it, your truly.

Hot topic today is registering, so here come some product tips - feel free to add your own in the comments!

Stroller
Without a doubt, my most favorite thing was the Kolcraft Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier. When the baby was little and we could still carry them around in the car seat, this stroller was so easy. Open quickly, close quickly. Baby goes right in in their car seat carrier. And the best part was the ginormous basket on the bottom. In 6 years I've yet to find any other stroller with such a large and well placed basket to store all sorts of stuff. Every mom with an infant should have this stroller. Hands down.

Infant Carrier
The Kolcraft Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier mentioned above fits most car seats and our absolute choices was the Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat. Know for it's safety, this car seat exceeded all of our expections. Very comfortable for the baby with lots of padding and easy for the parents to carry. And for those winter babies, don't forget the JJ Cole Original Infant Bundle Me which eliminates any need for bulky jackets, snowsuits or multiple blankets. It kept my son so warm in January and February and looked so comfortable, I wished they made them for adults!

Exersaucer
Both of my kids spent an incredible amount of time in their exersaucers and my daughter's was much more fun than my son's was, although they were only three years apart. The exersaucer helped to develop leg muscles and motor skills and kept them entertained and safe. We went with EvenFlo SmartSteps Exersaucer Entertainer for my daughter and were very happy, as was she. Even now at almost 3 years old, she still tinkers with the toys as she passes it by. We probably should be getting rid of it soon.

Swing
When my son was born, my husband refused to have big pieces of baby equipment all over the place, so we opted to go with the Fisher-Price Aquarium Take-Along Swing. Easy to bring with us pretty much wherever we went, easy to pack up, easy to store. And on the nights my son had to sleep in the swing because he was cranky, the music volume was adjustable and everyone was happy.

This is what works for me! Visit Rocks in My Dryer for more tips!

Happy registering, all!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Right Now

Right now, I feel like not such a great mom. Like I have no patience with my kids. I've always cited that characteristic as the reason why I could never be a teacher. Absolutely no patience for 20 something kids in a classroom all day. Teachers truly have my utmost respect. I definitely could never do it.

Right now, in the quiet of the night, I think about the day gone by and remember being aggravated with Aaron a good amount of times throughout the day. At the time, the reasons seemed so important. Now, I can't even remember one of them. Okay, maybe I can remember one of them, but for the most part, I don't remember why I felt like I was having such a rough day.

Right now I can think about the day more clearly. He's a 5 year old boy. Entitled to be a little wild, entitled to not listen 100% of the time. Are my expectations too high? Do I think he should be more mature than he really is? Do I jump the gun and react to quickly?

Right now, I feel sad because although I want to enjoy my kids as they are now, in the moment, I lose sight of that. I don't know why I find it so hard to just let loose and have fun.

Right now, I remember my daughter asking me today to do her Dora puzzle with her and I can't remember what was so important that I told her to wait a few minutes. We never wound up doing the puzzle together.

Right now, as they sleep, I can feel in my heart how much I love them. They look so peaceful, so quiet. Like they are the perfect kids.

Right now, I wonder why I can't be exactly who and what I want to be for them. I remind myself that they will only be little once and that as each day passes, I can never get it back.

Right now, I promise to try my hardest to be a better mom to them tomorrow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rock Obama

Aaron came home from kindergarten today reporting that they voted in school today. Apparently they talked a little (very little) about the candidates, were brought into voting booths, closed the curtains and got to press a button with their teacher.

His teacher told them that whoever became President would be a great President. Hmmm.

We asked him who he voted for. He told us, "Rock Obama." We asked why. He said, "Because I like his name better than, um, um, the guy with the J."

If only it were that easy.....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nanny Dearest...

For a bunch of years after I had my kids, I worked full time and had a huge commute from LI into NYC. My hours were ridiculous, job was demanding, and the means of daycare that worked for my family was to employ a live in nanny from Monday through Friday. In the past almost 6 years, we've gone through 3 long term nannies (3 years, 2 years and our current nanny has been with us for almost 6 months and is grat) and a few shorter term nannies for whatever reasons. There's alot of talk in the nannies in the news, of course these are bad nannies. What news wants to report a story of a good nanny? Many of our friends have live-in nannies and I've heard some stories, some good and some not so good. Sometimes a not so good story though is pretty funny, because the not so good parts aren't dangerous, just comical. Sort of like the time I had a huge fight with a nanny and told her not to come back, and she looked at my husband and asked if I was kidding..anyway, that's a story for another day. As I was saying, sometimes the not so good stories lean a little towards the comical, like the following e-mail I received today from a friend about a new nanny they had hired and how and why she lasted only a few days. (Note that names are deleted at her request, but she did give permission to reprint the story).

I threw her into the fire to fend for herself on Monday while I went to work (no choice). My mom helped her out a little bit and got her aquainted with the kids and the house, showed her around town, etc. I figured that if she can manage the first week, it can only get better. I'm the first one to admit that we're a very undesirable nanny family - 3 kids, one on the way, a giant dog, plus housecleaning and cooking. Not exactly a job that everyone is vying for.

So we hired a nanny, a great European woman. On Thursday I had tried calling my house from work and called almost every 5 minutes from 4:30 until 9 pm and she never answered the phone. Husband was at work and open school night. By the time I got home at 9pm, I was kind of panicky wondering what was happening, although understanding that some of this panic was undeniably caused by pregnancy hormones. I walk in the door and calmly asked her why she hasn't been answering the phone. She points her finger in my face and yells "there's no phone." At that point, I had had a long day, was very worried, just commuted home over an hour and a half in the pouring rain and just lost it, pointing out how we have phones all over the house (like 8 of them), and she continues to scream that there are no phones, not listening to a word that I am saying. We are standing in the hallway outside the kids' rooms screaming at each other (they were asleep with their doors open). It really does take a lot to make me angry and it happens very rarely, but once I'm there, watch out. So then she tells me to "shhh." I proceed to scream even louder that it's totally unacceptable to not be able to reach her for that period of time, don't tell me to "shh" etc., and she turns around and says in a very evil voice "goodnight" and storms away from me to her room! I would have packed her up right then and there if husband had been home.


That night I learned through my spying neighbor and caller ID that my former nanny had called our house that afternoon and this new nanny put both older kids on the phone with her! Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but she really had no clue the circumstances of the prior nanny leaving, who she was, the relationship with my kids, and basically allowed my kids to talk on the phone to someone who she didn't know. The next morning I asked what she had spoken to her about and she told me that the former nanny called the house hysterical crying that my daughter is HER baby, she wanted to talk to her, she raised her, etc. I never would have known any of this had my neighbor not seen my kids talking on the phone outside in the middle of the afternoon. All in all, a pretty disturbing situation all around.


Up until this point, she had been there 3 days. We had hidden a voice-activated recorder in the kitchen just in case and on this night we decided to listen to the tape. What did we hear? Nothing. Silence. Which is pretty odd considering we have 3 kids and a huge dog and there's never any silence when I'm home! In between the silence we would hear her screaming things like "I IN CHARGE" (no joke, several times) and the fact that she ignored the kids when they spoke to her. It was just horrible and we opted to cut our losses and let her go. But before I could say anything to her, she told me that she can't handle kids. Duh.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Things They Say...

Aaron is very into movies. Very, very into. Like he knows everything about every movie there is. He knows the release dates for movies coming to the theaters as well as movies that are coming to DVD. It's amazing how much knowledge about movies his 5 and a half year old brain holds. So what he said today didn't surprise me at all.

One of my friends was a parent volunteer during picture day today at Aaron's school, so while she was there she took a picture of him with her phone and sent it to me. There were other kids in the picture so I asked him who they were.

Aaron - "That's Melissa."
Me - "Is she in your class?"
A - "Yes."
M - "What's her last name?"
A - "Myers. Her name is Melissa Myers. But her dad is not Mike Meyers."
M - "Oh, really?"
A - "Ya, her dad is not Mike Meyers from Shrek, her dad is Adam. He's not from anything."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday




This will one day be a blackmail picture.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rememberance

9/11. Up until 7 years ago, it was just another day. Today, 7 years have passed and today, so many people remember where they were during the worst terror attack on American soil.

On the morning of 9/11/01, I was going to work in NYC, thinking about how Craig & I were going to celebrate our first wedding anniversary the following week. My commute was nothing other than normal and I ran into a coworker on my two block walk up 18th street from 7th Avenue to 5th Avenue. I remember that there was alot of construction going on on 18th street, complete with jackhammers and alot of noise, which my coworker and I complained about to each other. We went into the building and made our way to our respective offices. Once I reached my office, I heard from a few people that a plane or a helicopter had crashed into the World Trade Center. I called my dad and asked if he had spoken to my brother who was working in the World Financial Center. They had spoken and my brother didn't know what it was, but word was that it was a private plane and he was going downstairs with some colleagues to check it out. Minutes later, we learned that it was a terrorist attack and were trying to put together information about what was going on.

Many employees from my company congregated in the main conference room, next to floor to ceiling windows that stared down 5th avenue right at the skyline, right at the World Trade Center. While we were able to watch the news reports on television, we were also able to watch right out our window. As another plane hit the second tower at 903am, I distrinctly remember a colleague muttering, "Are we living the movie Independence Day?"

As we were watching the towers that would soon fall, word came of another plane hitting the Pentagon. And another crashing in Pennsylvania. I remember questioning when all of these things were just going to stop.

I remember thinking about my brother and wondering where he was. Thinking about my cousin, an employee of Carr Futures, and wondering where he was. Thinking about my 90 year old grandmother sitting at her doctor's office in Florida wondering where we all were. Thinking about how I was soon going to realize how many people I knew who were in the towers who were hurt.

And then the towers fell. Landmarks of NYC that we had always taken for granted just tumbled. Watching them from the window - seeing them there one minute and then gone the next. At the time, I don't even think I realized how many people were also there one minute and then gone the next.

I remember thinking about how all of the doctors in NYC were rushing to the hospitals to help. And I remember seeing the newscasts of all of these medical personnel just waiting at the hospitals. Because the people that they rushed there to help, the hurt an injured, truly didn't exist. There was no one to help because almost all of those people had died.

As the day went on, my colleagues left the office and tried to get home. Craig walked up from his office downtown and we walked to Penn Station, catching the last train home. The train was eerily quiet, no one was talking. No one wanted to say anything about what had just happened, about what they had just witnessed. I remember a man sitting in a seat, covered in ash. Someone gave him a towel but no one could talk.

Once we got home, it was hard to watch the news but it was hard also not to watch the news. Our newscasters and radio personalities were reporting what was happening for their audiences. No jokes, nothing other than the facts. And the fact was that we had just experienced the worst terrorist attacks ever. In our city.

Being from NY and being in NYC over 9/11 was extremely difficult. Entire companies were wiped out in seconds. People were out canvassing the city for their loved ones. It was like watching a movie, only it was 100% for real.

Today, 7 years later, people remember. And people want to talk about it. They want to remember where they were, remember those they loved and remember those they lost, and make sure that no one ever forgets.

Today the New York Post and the New York Times did not have anything on their covers about remembering 9/11. The message that sent? Move on. Of course people will continue with their lives but that doesn't mean we need to forget. We can't ever forget that this happened. We can't ever forget the people whose lives were lost. People who just got up that day to go to work like it was any other day, people who rushed to help the injured, people on the planes that acted like heroes, trying to save themselves and others.

I heard this morning that the state of Missouri had sent a gift to the FDNY after September 11 with a note talking about the 343 firefighters that we lost that day and how in the history of the entire state of Missouri to date they had not lost 343 firefighters in the line of duty. We lost those men in one day.

We'll never forget 9/11 or the people we lost. To all of our members of the FDNY and NYPD, families of those in the WTC, the Pentagon and on the airplanes, we will never forget.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Piles and Piles of Paper

My oldest is in kindergarten - he just started last week. I have recently decided that when you look up kindergarten in the dictionary, there should be a new definition - the land of piles and piles of paper. I never knew that kindergarteners bring home so much paper. And it's not worksheet he completed in school or projects that he made, that would really be okay - I actually have a folder all set up just waiting to house the school work for this year. What he's bringing home is notes and letters. And reminders and forms. ALOT of reminders and even more forms, which translates to the fact that these papers are for me. I think I get enough paper between the junk mail and the bills and the catalogs that come in the mail. But now my kindergartener is hand delivering to me more paper on a daily basis.

Before school started, a packet arrived in the mail. Inside, there were alot of papers, of course. Information, handbooks and forms to fill out. Forms to order lunch, order milk, join the PTA, volunteer for the lunch program, order a mini district calendar, order a mini student directory. Every order form needed a separate check to be sent in with it. Oh, and there was also a permission slip to sign that your child can be injected with something (I forgot what) in case of a nuclear attack. Yes, I am serious on that one, which truth be told, totally baffled me. Understand that I'm pretty smart (college degree, CPA certification and I own my own business), but I had to get my neighbor, a PTA mom, to come over and help me wade through the papers in this packet. At that point, school hadn't even started yet!

The first day of school, a letter came home from the teacher requesting each parent to fill out four questions about their child. Great, I thought, this was a great way to get some information about my son directly to the teacher without being a giant pain in her ass. You know, the information like he knows how to read and sometimes has to go to the bathroom alot. Normal kindergarten parent to teacher stuff. As I read the questions, I was reminded of the essays on my college applications. These were not just plain, tell me something about your child questions. These were serious essay questions which had me up doing my homework until about 1030pm. On the first night of school, nonetheless. (Note that the essays took me about an hour to complete).

The first week of school was short and I think the teacher was easing the parents the kids in to the new routine. Last night when I checked his folder, surprise! More papers. An order form for books from Scholastic. An order form for a Subway lunch fundraiser being organized for the 5th graders. Volunteer form to be class mom. Information on the first PTA meeting. Reminder to pay your dues for the PTA if you haven't already. I'm sure there was more, I just can't remember them all right now. Oh yes, the 3 page letter from the teacher letting us know that because she reminds the kids of their homework a bunch of times throughout the day, she will not be sending home instructions on what the homework is on a daily basis.

Forget the Year of the Rat, this is going to be the Year of Paper. And alot of it. I wish the school would go green and send everything over e-mail. Or make a rule that only 2 sheets of paper were allowed to be sent home each day. Otherwise you might find me buried under mounds of paper this year. Let's see what they hand out at the PTA meeting tomorrow night...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One Lousy Day

Today was one lousy day. Nothing catastrophic, but nothing great. Here's a forewarning. If you are a person who is easily irritated by others' complaints and whines, skip this post. I can be 100% honest in telling you that this post is going to be chock full o' complaints and whines of almost every variety. And so we begin....

Around 4am, an itch woke me up. Not just any itch, but the itch of 15 mosquito bites on my feet. Although I am known to be a little bit of an exaggerator, I am being serious when I say 15. These bites have been itching my feet, waking me up in the middle of the night and not responding to any type of itch spray or cream for about 4 days and last night was not any different. And not only did they wake me up, but they kept me up for an hour. I finally fell back to sleep at 5am, only to wake up to the blaring sound of our alarm 620am, telling hubby it's time to get up for work. Today was to be the first day back to work after an almost 2 week vacation for both of us, so clearly neither wanted to move from our comfy bed. Hubby made that amazingly clear when I had to tell him every 5 minutes until 645am to get into the shower. I didn't need to physically get up until 7am and was almost back to sleep for a quick catnap, when I woke up to my 5 year old explaining why he went to sleep with a bandaid on his foot and woke up with it not on his foot. Although it seems pretty self explanatory, a 5 year old can turn that into a 10 minute long epic.

The fact that I was going back to work after an almost 2 week vacation, in itself, is enough to make this one lousy day. While getting ready for work, my 5 year old starts carrying on about his stomach hurting. That sounds callous, but if you know our history with him with constipation, you'd understand. It's very a very frustrating ailment and 5 year olds are generally not into changing their diets to add more fiber. Anyway, when the stomach ache speak begins, it usually takes awhile to stop. This morning, no different. Although he was okay enough to let me go to work.

I get to work early and start checking e-mail before anyone gets in. Getting to work early, for me, means that I can leave early, so that was a bonus today. Within my first hour at work, my 5 year old called me to tell me he pooped, he pooped again and that he made a new rule - he was going to call me every time he pooped. That was three separate phone calls, Then the stomach ache went away, so all was good at home.

I had scheduled a "lease return inspection" for my car which is due back to the dealership this week, and the appointment was scheduled for "anytime between 8am and 5pm." Guy shows up at 1pm, he clearly hates his job, and proceeds to tell me that although this is usually a 5 minute process, his computer broke and it is going to take about a half hour. Yes, I needed to sit with him while he inspected my car. After about 15 minutes he let me go back to my office, just to call me pretty much as soon as I got upstairs to come back down. Good news, no damage that needs to be paid for. Wahoo!

End of day comes, pretty slowly. I realize that I am missing some stuff for 5 year old's first day of kindergarten tomorrow - an ice pack for his lunch box and antibacterial wipes requested by the teacher. Four containers of them. I was happy that I had reached almost home at 5pm and planned to put together a dinner that isn't take out and hang out with the kids for awhile. Four stores and an hour and a half later, I had enough of supermarket cashiers and their "ice packs? summer's over" routines. I did get my ice packs and wipes and got home at 7pm.

Here we are, at 830pm, both kids are sleeping and we have to go drop off hubby's car. Then me and my whine are going to curl up in bed watching the new 90210, commercial free, courtesy of my trusty DVR. And yes, absolutely, with some wine.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lands' End is having an art contest!

If you're looking for a great art project to do with your kids, start working on the Lands' End Holiday Art Contest! This year's theme is "Holiday Fun." What do you do to make it special? Go sledding? Decorate cookies? Trim the tree? Send Lands' End your best holiday drawing and your art could go from your refrigerator to their catalog.

The rules are pretty simple. Here they are:

  • Artwork must be done vertically on a single 8∏" x 11" piece of paper (no matting).
  • Entrants must be 12 years old or younger as of August 14, 2008. One entry per child.
  • Entries must be postmarked by August 14, 2008.

Some things to note:

  • Winning drawings may be published in the Lands' End Holiday 2008 issue or on the Lands' End Web site.
  • Three prizes will be awarded in each age group: 1 to 6, 7 to 9 and 10 to 12.
  • FIRST PRIZE: $500 Lands' End Gift Card
  • SECOND PRIZE: $250 Lands' End Gift Card
  • THIRD PRIZE: $100 Lands' End Gift Card

Here's how to enter:

Send artwork and entry form (found at landsend.com/rules) or a 3∏" x 5" card with child's name, date of birth, address, telephone number and signature of parent/guardian. Entry form or index card must be signed by a parent or guardian.

Send to:
Lands' End Kids' Art Contest
1 Lands' End Lane
Dodgeville, WI 53595

For a complete set of rules, visit landsend.com/rules

Cross-posted on LIParentSource.com's blog

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kids Product Review: Leapfrog Tag

(Graphics) LeapfrogTag.jpgA big reader myself, I love that my kids love books. Our nighttime routines consist of reading one book after another, and my two year old insists on "reading" one book to me. My 5 year old has started to read pretty early and enjoys reading almost anything he can. After he graduated from preschool in May, we were unsure what to get him for a graduation gift. In Toys R Us, we saw the Leapfrog Tag and he decided himself that this was the present he wanted.

The Leapfrog Tag is an electronic toy that looks like a pen and is able to read books designed especially for the Tag. Easily held in a child's hand, the Tag will read the book either by itself or will read each word as the tip of the Tag moves over the text in the book. My 5 year old loves it because he is able to read the book himself and use the Tag when he gets to a word that he doesn't know. Additionally, for each book the Tag has games and activities that center around the character and focus on building skills such as reading comprehension. Something else that I really liked about that Tag is that the available books include current characters that the kids know and love like Kung Fu Panda, Cars, Dora and Diego, Fancy Nancy and more. For my son, the fact that he could read Kung Fu Panda on his own motivates him to use his Tag often.

The Tag doesn't only read books! Leapfrog has also put together National Geographic Kids Activity Cards that work with the Tag to teach kids about all different animals. The cards are neat - they are bound together on top so they will not be strewn all over the house. The children can touch the card in different places with the Tag to learn quick facts such as animal classification and whether or not the animal is endangered, vocabulary words and hear sounds of the different animals. We were able to test out the Land Animals cards and even my 2 year old enjoyed hearing the sounds of the animals and learning their names. My 5 year old was excited to learn that zebras live in Africa and that kangaroos stay up all night.

The Tag hooks up to any computer via a USB connection and allows you to download the books very easily. We were able to do it on the first try, which speaks volumes. The Tag also comes with special software that allows you to track your child's progress as they read their special books.

We highly recommend the Leapfrog Tag for kids ages 4 - 8. The books seem like they would be more of a hit with the younger crowd while the older kids would probably enjoy the animal cards more. Leapfrog has also put together gift packs and starter kits which are great gifs. You can buy the Tag and the books individually online at Amazon.com & Leapfrog.com or you can visit Target or Toys R Us.

Now here's the best part. Do you know a child who would absolutely LOVE the Leapfrog Tag? Visit our Current Contest page on LIParentSource.com to find out how you can win the Leapfrog Tag System with two books!

 
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