Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child's Intellectual Potential Book Review

We made the decision to send our daughter to preschool this fall.  At home, I try to encourage her interest in anything and everything.  I want my daughter to have a thirst for learning.  When I was sent the book The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Children's Intellectual Potential by Renee Mosiman M.A. and Mike Mosiman, I couldn't wait to start reading.  As parents, we are always striving to help our children get on the right path even before they start school.

Ever seen Nursery University on television?  Ironically, it is on as I am writing this.  Shelling out 10s of thousands of dollars for preschool is not unusual in NYC. We planned on shelling that out for college, not preschool. Do we really need elite preschools and tutors to give our children an edge? 

The answer if your wondering, based on research, seems to be no.  They have us, their parents, to educate them. We are their role models.

Th authors behind The Smarter Preschooler  have done copious amounts of research and given the practical applications of this research for parents. It is us as parents who help influence our children's intellectual, emotional, and social development long-term. 

It is a very down-to-earth book full of ideas of things that we do as parents daily to teach our kids.  First and foremost, it is about how we as parents can get our kids on the right path to being lifelong learners by fostering our children's curiosity when they are with us.

Here are some things I learned:
*Children are more socially adjusted later if parents are involved in choosing their companions as preschoolers.
*What children can learn from computer software may be beneficial but its benefits are limited at times and may have a negative impact.
*The relationship between a child and his or her mom makes the most difference in their literacy skills.
*Quality time is any time where you are engaging with your child.
*Read with your child at least 30 minutes a day (not necessarily consecutively).
*If your child has a larger vocabulary than they will have better reading comprehension in grades 1-6.
*Talking about past events will improve your child's memory skills.
*If your child begins to learn a second language after the age of seven, their ability to sound like a native speaker decreases.  When they reach 15 they most likely will not sound like a native speaker.
*There are 4 types of play: pretend, practice, construction, and game play.
*When at home, your child learns from cooking, gardening, laundry, mail, and chores.
*Listening to music has short-term benefits while music training may have long term benefits in preschool and elementary age children.
*Have set snack and meal times (and eat at the table) to help teach self-control with food and to decrease nibbling.
*There are positive and negative aspects to sending your child to preschool.

This book is a must-have for any parent with preschoolers. The authors used everyday language so the book did not read like a textbook and it was an enjoyable and quick read. They also offer lots of realistic and easy to do activities and examples of toys to use with your child.

To purchase the book, visit their website or Amazon.  Follow The Smarter Preschooler on Facebook or twitter.

*I was provided a copy of this book in order to write a fair and accurate review. No other compensation was or will be received.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Archeologist Mommy

What did you want to be when you grew up?  A nurse, a teacher, a doctor, an astronaut?

Me?  I wanted to be an archeologist.  I grew up in an area rich with history. Our local newspaper often had articles about preserving our heritage and stories about old coins and relics turning up in local fields.  A state college would also bring students to examine the fossils near our home. 

I had a thirst for adventure-a female Indiana Jones of sorts.

I remember my mom coming home one day to find a hole in the back of the garage that I had dug looking for treasure.  My mom didn't get mad.  She seemed to think it was normal for her daughter to be using her imagination in such a way. Or maybe she had just given up by this time.  Remember I was the one who also had filled all of her tupperware with creepy crawlies.

Over time, other holes would pop up (usually where they wouldn't be noticed).

I never did find any treasure.  Unfortunately.

I was so excited when I was doing my field observations at a school near our state capital when I was studying education in college.  We were able to accompany the kids to a working archeological dig.  Archeology is a very tedious and often monotonous job.  I chose teaching over archeology after deciding that the reality of this profession wasn't for me.  I wasn't overly fond of math or science and better pay and better job security won out.

The closest I get to digging for treasure is digging in the diaper bag for stale snacks, searching for lollipops in the depths of my purse,  delving for some semblance of patience and self respect on a daily basis, or when we dig for dinosaurs in my daughter's rice box (which is perfect for hiding things for my daughter to find or just for scooping fun).

We had a fun morning at the playground where my daughter largely ignored the slide, the climbing wall, swings, and all the other fun things to do for the dirt.

I was reminded of how much fun it is to play in the dirt.

At the playground, they have this fine gravel/sand with four contraptions that kids can sit on and maneuver to scoop up and dump dirt.  My daughter (who is still a little young at 2 and not strong enough to really control it) chose to sit in the little pits in front of the machines and play.

Throwing, scooping (with her hands), digging, poking, kicking, blowing (not kidding) dirt.

Part of me (the OCD mommy part) wanted to go over to her, drag her away from her fun, and clean her up. Another part of me wanted her to have fun playing.  The sheer joy on her face was priceless.  After all,  isn't this what kids are supposed to do-enjoy the dirt? There is something immensely pleasing about getting messy.

If there was any doubt in my mind about what I should do, I was reminded by the other moms I was with.  They all talked about how much fun it is to play in the dirt.  The exploring and learning that takes place with this simple yet messy activity can't be beat.  It's part of childhood.

I let her be.

When we left the playground, my daughter looked filthy.

Yet, after I brushed off the dirt and swiped at her hands and visible skin with a wet wipe before loading her into the car, you would never know how she had spent her morning.

Well, the dirt under her nails would clue anyone in if they took the time to look closely.

Needless to say, guess who is still getting a bath tonight.

Don't forget to join Trendy Treehouse and The Girl Creative for a blog hop on Fridays! 
You can also join the much loved Friday Follow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WW: Running Away Screaming

Ever wonder what scares little kids?

That's easy...

People dressed up as giant monkeys...

Or giant pigs with pigtails...

Who am I kidding?

They kind of scare me to...

For more Wordless Wednesday visit the Wordless Wednesday website and 5 Minutes For Mom.  For more Wordful Wednesday visit Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5 Must-Have Fashionable Pieces to Pack For Every Weekend Trip

Since our first daughter came along, the only trips my husband and I take alone are usually weekend trips.  We finally pried ourselves away right after she turned one.

Just that short time away can recharge any drained mommy's battery of patience.  A trip to San Francisco and Napa and an extended vacation to Mystic, CT were heaven sent.

I love to pack.   The reason for this is probably because I love to organize.  We normally get away in the late spring or late summer so it is always hot wherever we go.  I always pack more than I should but wherever we go there are certain wardrobe pieces I always take with me.

The 5 must-have fashionable pieces to pack include:

Dark colored denim capris
They are comfy and cool.  They can also be dressed up or down with tees or dressy blouses or tanks. They can also be worn more than once since they don't show dirt.

I have a wrap that I always pack.  It can dress up a simple outfit and can ward off the cool nights at the beach.  The material is viscose so it can wrinkle but wrapped around my shoulders with a classic navy and light blue and beige pattern, it still looks chic.  The best part is it doesn't take up much room in my weekender bag.

Ballet flats
They are comfortable to walk in and versatile enough to be worn with casual wear or with a dress for a nice dinner out. 

Chunky jewelry
I love dressing up an outfit with jewelry.  I usually take chunky costume jewelry pieces on weekend getaways so that I don't have to stress about losing any expensive jewelry pieces.  I usually only take one or two pieces that will go with all or most of my outfits that I am packing.

Nylon, polyster, or lycra blend outfit
I have a cute wrap around top and pants that go to the knee (they almost look like a skirt) in a polyster material that do not wrinkle and can double as day wear or night wear based on the accessories I wear with them.  When we are out sightseeing on a trip, I don't want to have to return to our hotel to iron my clothes for a relaxing evening out.  Or if we are running late in the morning after sleeping in, I just want to have the option of grabbing something from my suitcase to throw on.

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To hear what other moms are saying or to join in the discussion, click here.

To get your own printable 15% off coupons for the Gap Outlet and the Banana Republic Factory Store, click here.

*I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Gap Outlet blogging program to be eligible to win a $20 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Post it Note Tuesday: Swimming Away Edition

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Mommyhood vs The Daddyhood: In the Trenches Together

If you asked your husband to describe daddyhood to you, how would he respond?

"I'm to tired to answer.  In fact I'm always tired, and I don't get sex anymore."  Or would you just get "the look".

My husband fits under "the look" department. 

I get annoyed frequently.  Sometimes because it seems what my husband needs is a daddyhood manual with everything written down.  I admit I would love one of those.  Figuring out the day to day is all about trial and error.  What I learn I pass on to my husband when we sit down together at the end of the day.

I am guilty of the heaving sighs when he does something different from how I would do it from dressing our children (the 2 year old should not be wearing the 10 month olds pants as capris), feeding them (gummi bears are not suitable snacks for 2 year olds), to changing them (or forgetting to change them as the case may be). 

One day, my husband gave me a piece of daddyhood insight.  He said that just because he doesn't do it my way that doesn't mean its wrong.  The girls have a well balanced diet, we agree on how to discipline our daughters but we each have slight differences that work for each of us, and they have a nap and bedtime schedule that we don't deviate from if we can help it. Above all else, our daughters know they are loved and there is lots of laughter.  The end result is the same.  It is just our paths about how we get there that differ sometimes.

He was right.  One sentence gave me a clearer insight into mommyhood.  I had taken  my 24/7 time with my daughters and had a mommy knows best mentality.  Yet, my husband can sometimes see things clearer in his role as a working dad.  Sometimes I am blinded by the large amount of time I spend with our daughters and don't see what is working and what is not working.  Those are the moments where I get blinded by frustration.

Obviously, men are not as comfortable sitting around discussing the joys of being a dad around the water cooler at work. While us moms have no problem doing so. That doesn't mean they love their children any less.

Afterall, we are in the trenches together.  To help our children reach their full potential, we need each other.

I should probably mention that I am still not above feeling a little smug when they misbehave for him or do things that they wouldn't normally do.  Afterall, I am human.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mission Monkey Day and Miscellaneous News

Things have been a little wacky here at The Practical Mom Guide this week.  Our computer has been crashing again and again and again.  Thank goodness I had three posts scheduled but the bad news is I haven't been around to visit all of my bloggy friends this week.  It took me an hour and a half yesterday to get one post posted.  Darn computer.  Then, I tried to visit some of my favorite blogs and my computer kept crashing.  After five tries I called it quits.  I promise to visit each and every one of you this weekend!

I am starting to think my husband hexed the computer.  Maybe to hint that I was on it to much...

I have a child who is officially potty trained.  Hallelujah.  Hallelujah.  Hallelujah.  I could have wept with happiness. I think this endeavor has been the most difficult aspect of parenting yet.  Considering it has been going on since she was 18 months old.

It is official apparently that my darling hubby is going to CA for an entire month in two months time.  He suggested that I and the girls go with.  Lugging a 1 year old and almost 3 year old all the way across this giant continent is enough to make me weep.  Not with happiness.  I don't know if that is going to happen.

The post that was supposed to be today (Mommyhood vs Daddyhood) is going to appear tomorrow due to all of my technical difficulties.

Don't forget about Mission Monkey

(If you haven't visited Ian at A Dose of Reality please do so.  He has really put a lot of effort into getting this amazing fundraiser off the ground.  He is also the one who penned the following letter to the bloggy world for all of us bloggers to share with our readers.)

Hello blog-world!  I am participating in what's known around the world as Mission Monkey day!  What is Mission Monkey you ask?  Well, there's this blogger friend of ours known as Pixie Momma, aka Michelle.  Michelle has a little girl, or Monkey as she's known by who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma.  To learn more about it, click here. Monkey is a sweet little 16 month old girl.  She doesn't deserve this.  Nobody deserves this.

But the good news is that Monkey only has Stage 1 (low risk).  The bad news is the medical bills are mounting and the Physical Therapy (starts today) isn't covered by insurance.  Michelle is using the donated money to offset medical bills.  She will donate and unused portion to another family dealing with the same issue.

This is why the blogging universe is banning together like never before to rally around Michelle and Monkey to provide support.  In addition to further entice you to lend your hand, and donate to the cause, we have over 50 items that have been donated.  Many bloggers are hosting these fabulous giveaways and all you need to win one of these items is just one raffle ticket.

Donation pages:
Princess of Sarcasm -
The One and Only Oka -
SupahMommy -
Jenn B Says #1 -
Jenn B Says #2 -
Amber -
Two Little Monkeys -
Mommy's Nest -
Chief's Hiding From the Kids -
Jenny -
Jana -

You may donate any amount of money via PayPal as it's linked directly to Michelle's bank account.  However, in order to be a part of the raffle, this is how that's going to go.  If you donate the following, you get the subsequent number of entries:

  • $10 - 2 entries
  • $20 - 5 entries
  • $30 - 10 entries
  • $40 - 15 entries
  • $50 - 20 entries
  • $75 - 35 entries
  • $100 - 50 entries
  • $200 - 125 entries
 The raffles for each item will start on or around July 1st.

Any unused money is going to be donated by Monkey's family to another family in need.

Click on monkey to donate...please help!

Interested in making new friends, join Trendy Treehouse and The Girl Creative for a blog hop on Fridays.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Score Beach Reads for Less (for vacation bookaholics)

I love to read.  My reading time is limited since the girls are just now getting into similar schedules. Since my husband likes to drive when we go anywhere I usually grab a book and read at least part of the way to our destination.  I also read when I eat a kid-free lunch (during their naptime). 

When we go on vacation, I hesitate to check books out from our local library because what if some horrible fate befalls the book?  I don't want to have to pay the fine to replace the book.  Because of this, I have had to find some alternatives to find cheap books since I don't usually read books over and over again.

Here are great places to score cheap reads for less:

Library sales
Check the bulletin board, website, or ask at the circulation desk to see if your library has book sales. Our library has them four times a year and I often can pick up the latest titles at a fraction of the cost.

Yard sales/rummage sales

Used book stores
This is a great way to pick up cheap reads.  They are usually about half of the listed price.  You can also get more money off if you take in books you have already read to trade.  Our local used book store takes books (with the exception of college textbooks) and credits you 1/3 of the price.  When you make a purchase, half of the money you pay with can come from your store credits. 

If you have an iPhone, you can purchase Kindle books to read on your phone.  New releases start at about $9.99.  This is much cheaper than paying the $25 for a new hardcover book. is my favorite online source for used books.  Registration is free.  If you post 10 books you are willing to trade with other members, they give you two free book credits.  You can search their online library for books (this includes new releases but these books go quick).  If you find one that you like, click on the order book link and another member will send you the book.  If there is a book you are looking for but it is not listed, you can add it to your wish list and they will email you if someone lists it.  You can also have it sent to you automatically when they become available.

When someone requests a book that you listed, you will receive an email.  Just mail the book to them using the media rate which is about $2.25 (this includes paperbacks and hardcovers).   You will get one credit (good for one free book) for each book that you ship to someone.

If you would rather just buy credits, they cost $3.45 a piece which is still a really good deal considering most paperbacks are over $6.

I personally use this site and have never had a problem. The books that I order always have arrived in about the same amount of time as if I had ordered them from any online retailer such as Amazon.

Other online sites
Swaptree and bookmooch are two other online sites.  Swaptree also allows you to swap other forms of media such as DVDs, CDs, and games. All you do is enter all of the information on what you want to trade and then swaptree will list all of the items you can receive from other people who are looking for your items.  The nice thing about swaptree is you can do cross media trades.

Bookmooch is another online book trading site.  It is similar to but with slight differences such as you get 1/10th of a point for every book you list and 1 point for every book you trade.  You also need to give away one book for at least every two you recieve.

Bookins has free postage on books you send to other members and when you find a book you want then you pay $4.49. 

When choosing an online book swapping site, check to see if they have the books that you are interested in and then look to see how their site works.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless/Wordful Wednesday: A Fishy Story

If you remember my post from the other week, you may remember that my husband is an avid fisherman. As in, he takes it very seriously.  Trips to Cabela's are like a pilgrimage.

He takes it so seriously in fact that he is part of a fishing club and participates in bass fishing tournaments about twice a month.  Put him on a boat in the middle of the ocean and he is happy as a clam.  Occasionally, he will go on 18 or 24 hour deep sea fishing trips. 

Me?  I prefer my feet on solid ground.  I turn green and need to lie down the entire trip when the boat stops in the middle of the ocean. Standing will only propel me to the side of the boat to feed the fishies. Gross, I know.  It is the rocking of the boat when the engines are off that does it every time.  I am fine as long as the boat is moving but the second they stop the engines, I am a goner.

I have many happy and unhappy memories that involve my husband's favorite pastime.

My first time meeting my future mother-in-law included my first deep sea fishing expedition in the Florida Keys. I didn't know I would get sea sick. Not the impression I wanted to leave.  Needless to say, his family had a blast fishing and catching up while I laid down inside the whole trip to sick to talk.  That was my first but unfortunately not my last trip deep sea fishing.  Getting off of the boat I had to endure listening to the captain's (not so funny) jokes about hugging palm trees and land lovers.

When we first started dating, we would meet up with friends and my sister-in-law and her husband to go cat fishing later at night.  I liked that my feet never left land since we fished from the shore of the river.  I am a girl but was game for tying a piece of chicken liver in a piece of cheesecloth.  As far as touching a worm.  EEEWWWW.  Not a chance. 

On our honeymoon in Cancun, we signed up for all kinds of excursions.  A Mayan adventure trip, a trip to Chichen Itza, Xel-Ha (a huge natural aquarium/natural waterpark), snorkeling and shopping in Cozumel, and of course deep sea fishing.


This is the picture I took of my husband catching a marlin.  Was my subsconscious trying to payback my husband for making me go deep sea fishing?  I took this picture with a disposable camera from our wedding.  When we got our pictures developed my husband was devastated.  He had caught a once in a lifetime fish and all he had to show for it was him and the fin of the fish.  Ooops.  

The next day we went to Best Buy to buy a digital camera.

Today if I have any free time, I can tell you what you will NOT find me doing and that is fishing.  I would take a good book along to sit in the boat, in the sun, and relax. That is if my husband invited me along.

I am about as close to fish as I want to be right now staring at them swimming in the fish tank.

For more Wordless/Wordful Wednesday, visit 5 Minutes For Mom, Seven Clown Circus, and here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tupperware and Creepy Crawlies

My daughter is fond of creepy crawlies and insects.  Fond in the sense that she squeals, "a bug, a bug" and will run to me or she will intently watch their progress as they scamper across the ground or fly through the air.

When I was in elementary school, my dad was supposed to be watching my sister and I.  He choose to watch the baseball game and granted us permission to play outside. My sister was three years older than I. 

It is awfully hard to watch tv with kids underfoot as I've since learned.

There were a lot of bumblebees and little creepy crawlies outside.  I had the bright idea to catch them.  All of them.

I raided the cupboard under the kitchen sink for my mother's tupperware.

My bright idea was to catch the bugs using the lid and the container itself by scooping, trapping, etc. My sister said it was a bad idea.  What did she know?

When my mom came home, the picnic table held the results of my endeavors.  About fifteen tupperware containers held bugs and worms of all shapes and sizes.  Ants, a grasshopper, bees, worms, a lady bug and other icky things were sitting on display.

My mom was mad.  Really mad.  There was a lot of yelling.  A lot of yelling at my dad and me.

My mother hates bugs, creepy crawlies, and she especially hates snakes. I didn't like snakes either and would probably have cried had I come across one.

My punishment...

She made me wash all of the hand.  By myself.  We didn't have a dishwasher. 

Needless to say, that was my first and last bug collection.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Treasure Hunting We Will Go

This weekend I had to somehow get my 2 year old aboard to go to a community yard sale at the not so early time of 7:30 am. Not so early since the girls were awake at the crack of dawn with their list of demands including feeding, diapers changed, and the need for hugs and kisses.

I told Emily that we were going treasure hunting for treasure.  Needless to say, that was all it took to get her on board.  My husband took a little more convincing as in the promise of breakfast and there were still a lot of long suffering sighs.

Growing up I remember being dragged to yard sales in VA when we were visiting family so my dad could sift through junk.  He was a sucker for some antiques (such as bottles which I still don't understand his fascination with) and vintage LP records (which I inherited after he passed away and which still sit in their boxes in the spare bedroom closet).   

In high school and college I would go to the local farmers market on Sundays when they had their flea market to find old collectible books.  I have a small armoire filled with them.  My favorite is an old German hymn book. Once I filled the armoire I stopped buying old books since I had nowhere to put them.

For many years you couldn't pay me to go to a yard sale.  Then, I had kids.  This is apparently what parents do.  For good reason considering how expensive kids stuff is and how fast they outgrow it.

On the way to our treasure hunting destination, I sang "A Treasure Hunting We Will Go" to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell".  My daughter was pretty hyped up by the time my husband parked the car.  Emily begged to get out of the car to hunt for treasure.  Once my husband unbuckled her car seat, she was off, tugging on his hand, pulling him along.

We were searching for the "Deal of the Day" as my husband jokingly referred to my purchases.  The best "Deal of the Day" was the two pack DVD of Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2 which we picked up for $1.  I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Emily had fun "testing" some of the toys.  I expected a tantrum or tears when we didn't buy her toys but she just held her hands up, tilted her head to one side, and said in a serious tone and a pout, "those for udder kids have no toys".  Translation: "those are for other kids who have no toys".  Uh, yeah.

I have a feeling the best customers at community yard sales are other parents in the development.  One girl went running up to her mom, who was manning their own yard sale, and proclaimed that she got a bike.  Her mom asked her if it was so-and-so's bike.  Yes, her daughter proudly proclaimed.

I broke my rule of never ever buying anything that was broken or needed any kind of work no matter how good of a deal it was (this rule was put in force after I bought a kids rocker for $2 that I envisioned as the perfect refinishing project but which got tossed after sitting in the garage for two years).  I bought a vintage silver plated tea set (in all its tarnished glory)  with some extra pieces for $30. It was actually my husband's find.  I couldn't resist.  Now I have to clean it (how many calories do you think I can work off with all that elbow grease?) and then find a home for it.

 I am such a sucker.

When we left the development, Emily begged to get out at the next stop.  She then kept asking later in the day to go treasure hunting.  I think I have her hooked.  At least I have a treasure hunting buddy now. The youngest slept through the whole thing. 

All for the whopping price of $21 (everything looked brand new):
Disney Cinderella costume
Disney Pocahontas costume
Gap winter coat
3 Melissa and Doug puzzles
Monster, Inc. book
4T Osk Gosh denim jumper
Fisher Price Roll a Rounds Drop and Roar Dinosaur
Sit n Spin (I can't believe they still make these)

I am now off to play yard sale.  I have created a monster.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Strawberry Salad

One of the best things about going to gatherings with friends and family is trying new foods.  At a friend's party over the Christmas holidays, we were all asked to bring a dish and a copy of one of our favorite recipes.  A woman had brought this delicious salad and we all kept going back for more.  I have the little recipe card from this gathering in my little treasured recipe box.  When I think of summer, I think of fresh strawberries so to me this is the perfect summertime side dish. 

Strawberry Salad
Chop the following and place in a bowl:
1 head lettuce/spinach
1 cucumber
1 bunch strawberries

Wisk the following dressing ingredients together:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup canola oil
1-2 tsp poppy seeds

Mix the dressing into the salad, chill, and serve.

Friday, May 14, 2010

LuShae Jewelry Review

Whether it is Mother's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special occasion, or let's face it even when it is just another day, we like to get jewelry.

Lushae Jewelry has beautiful, original, and quality costume jewelry for the discerning shopper. They follow fashion trends and have a good selection of pieces to choose from.

Their jewelry includes pieces made of sterling silver and 14k and 18k gold electroplated with CZ stones and rhodium finishes (a cousin of platinum that provides the jewelry with tarnish and scratch resistance and helps make it more durable).  Their jewelry is also lead free.

I received the Antique Fleur de Lis white gold rhodium bonded pendant necklace. The upside down fleur de lis symbol was on a bubbled black enamel base in silvertone.  It was exquisite. 

The pendant arrived in a beautiful black box and lay nestled on black velvet.


I was immediately impressed with how elegant the necklace looked and was even more impressed with how beautiful it looked on.  I liked that the necklace had a lobster claw clasp and the length could be adjusted allowing for more versatility to your look. The necklace could be worn like a choker or like a regular pendant.

Some of my other favorite pieces from LuShae:

After placing my order, my order arrived within a few days.  I was very impressed with how quickly the order shipped.  The LuShae website also has jewelry guides on the history of jewelry,metals, gemstones, and how to buy and store your jewelry.

If you are looking for a quality and reputable online jewelry store with excellent customer service than I recommend checking out Lushae Jewelry.

*I was sent a necklace in which to facilitate an honest and accurate review of their website and product.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mission Monkey: Prayers For Monkey

If you haven't figured it out yet, even though there are probably a million blogs out there, the blogosphere is still a small community.  Michelle at Momma's Pixie Dreams just found out that her little girl has neuroblastoma, a type of cancer.  Please stop by and leave Monkey's mom a note of encouragement and keep her family in your prayers.

My heart hurts for this family.  I can't imagine the agony that this mom and this family is going through. We have all been impacted by the effects that cancer has on families.  If not through our own family than through friends or coworkers.  For a little innocent child to have to know what cancer is is heartbreaking. 

Ian over at Dose of Reality is organizing an amazing fundraiser to help little Monkey's family.  Please check it out.  Anything you can give from a few dollars, guest posts on your blog, items to be raffled away, would be appreciated. Check out Ian's post for more information.

Click on monkey to donate...please help!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Husband's Version of Goldilocks

We know our husbands view things somewhat differently than we do but with fairy tales?

My husband put our daughter to bed the other night.  She begged him for a story.

He sighed, frustrated, pointing out that the night before he had read her a fairy tale and the whole time she kept asking the ubiquitious "why".  Why?  Why? Why?

My husband who always swore no would mean no in our house, caved.

Of course he decided that he would shorten Goldilocks so that he could hopefully get her to bed quicker so he could resume watching Dirty Jobs.

Apparently Goldilocks sat on a chair, then laid in a bed, then saw a bear and ran home.


I heard all this as I sat with the baby in the nursery, rolling my eyes and shaking my head.  I think my eyes are still stuck in the top of my head.

My daughter, content with her dad's story immediately snuggled under the covers and asked for night-night kisses.

As he left the room, I commented on how there was no way she was going to accept that as a bedtime story.  No way. I told Bob to give her two minutes before she was begging for another story.

Not another peep was heard.

My husband was pretty proud of himself.

I cried foul.  I felt that our daughter was cheated.  What kind of story was that, I ask? 

Needless to say, the only opinion that mattered was Emily's.  It seemed she thought it was a perfectly acceptable tale.

Her dad is still smiling about that one. Maybe because I was wrong.

How does he get off so easy?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mommy's Free Pass

Warning: There are a lot of "I gots" in today's post.

I got a free pass from mommy guilt and from chores.  Okay, my day was not really free from chores but my husband did forbid me from doing any that is.   I just ignored him. 

I got to sleep in.  It only happens rarely. I got to roll back over and ignore the "Mooooommmmmmmmyyyyy, I awake".  Did I feel guilty? Not a bit. 

I got my first macoroni necklace.  My husband used rubbing alcohol and food coloring to color the pasta and then let my daughter string it onto fishing line.  Let me tell you, how strong that stuff is.  I think I have finally found a necklace that Madison can't rip off my neck.

I got a picture of Caillou and his mommy covered in stickers with Emily scrawled in my husband's handwriting at the bottom.

I got homemade waffles for breakfast.  They were absolutely delicious.  Both Emmy and Madison helped me eat them.  I still had to clean up the mess but that was okay.

I got to proudly wear my macoroni necklace to Lowe's and I let my daughter wear her little army helmet which made my husband shake his head.  I reminded him that it was a day of free Mommy passes.  He retorted that I was walking with our daughter while he was pushing Madison in the stroller.

I got to watch my husband play pretend with Emily.  She wanted him to shake his pompoms.  He wanted to have a sword fight.  Guess who won?

Photo credit: Applebees

I got takeout for dinner.  Food that I didn't have to cook is a bonus whatever the day is.  I had a reuben easy on the guilt with french fries.  No talk of calories was allowed with dinner.

I got to spend a fabulous day with lots of "I gots" and not a lot "have tos".

Oh and if your wondering what my husband "got" me?

Remember these plastic charm necklaces from the 80s that were banned in some schools for being a distraction to the learning process? I better not let my daughter see these. No, he didn't get me one of these.  Something way better...

Photo credit: 80s Museum

I get to pick out a charm bracelet and charms from the local jewelers.  I can't wait to pick out my charms.  My mom used to have one that she used to let me play with.  It was lost many, many moons ago but I wish I still had it. I have always been fascinated with charm bracelets. I even had one of these prized charm necklaces as a kid.   My new bracelet will be something to pass on to my daughters or maybe even my granddaughters.  It will be a symbol of who I am and who I was. 

I'd love to hear your Mother's Day stories!  Did you do something special with your mom or someone who is like a mom to you?  Did your husband and kids do something to make your  day extra special?  Leave a comment and share.

Don't forget to visit The Scoop on Poop today where I am the guest blogger.  Read about why motherhood is perfect with all of its little imperfections.  See you there!
Don't forget to enter the Live Simply Children's Health Journal giveaway. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment about what you would like to see in the next two Live Simply Journals that are coming soon.  This would make a great gift for a new mom or something to keep for yourself.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bloggy News: Featured Blog

Today I am the featured blog over at The Scoop on Poop.  Stephanie often makes me laugh with her honest and real take on motherhood.  After reading her post yesterday, I now know why my 2 year old seems to be in a league all by herself on "those days".

To see how I answered her question of who I would be for the day if I could be anyone in the world, head on over to check out her blog.  Hint: She is on a quest for world domination.  On Monday, I will be guest posting over at The Scoop on Poop so don't forget to stop by and don't forget to show some comment love! Pretty please with a cherry on top (okay, I had to say that with the bowl of ice cream staring at me from the screen.)

If you missed it yesterday, check out my Mother's Day post called I Think of Mother's Day When I See Swans.
Happy Mother's Day!  
May we all have some good stories to tell on Monday.

*Don't forget to enter to win the Live Simply Children's Health Journal Giveaway (ends 5/13).   To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment after visiting the Live Simply website and telling me what you would like to see in their upcoming Pet Health Journal and their Women's Health Journal. Easy as that!  This would make a great gift for your self or for a new mom.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Think of Mother's Day When I See Swans

 Photo Credit: Stock.xchng

On the eve of my first Mother's Day, I can't tell you how excited I was.  I felt like I was part of some exclusive club that only select people could join.  I was not ashamed to tell my husband where I would like to go for lunch or what I wanted as a gift-something to signify that I was indeed a mom.

Mother's Day is always on a Sunday and Sundays in our household growing up meant church.  At church, I always marveled at all the women given a carnation to signify that they were moms.  I always wanted a day where I would get my own flower.

Over the years, I only vaguely remember some of the things I have bought for my mom and grandmother for Mother's Day.  Memories of Mother's Days in my childhood seem to run together.  They all seemed the same.  Calls to grandmothers, brunch/lunch, cards handed out with hugs and kisses.  Perfume, bouquets of flowers, orchid corsages to wear to church, planters, and jewelry given as gifts. 

One Mother's Day though does stand out though in my mind.  My dad often wasn't home growing up since his job required him to travel.  I had been up late waiting for him to come home on the eve of Mother's Day. He hadn't.  I had nothing for my mom for Mother's Day besides a little card that I had made. At the time we didn't get any allowance. I think I was only 8 or 9 years old. My sister was 3 years older than me.

I begged my mom for a few dollars to go to the little mom and pop store up the road to buy something for Mother's Day.  She handed over a $10 bill and my sister and I set off on foot. At the time, money had been tight but my mother handed over the money without any lectures about budgets.

When we got to the store, there were balloons, bouquets of flowers, planters, and some chocolates to choose from. My sister and I picked out a little swan planter with a plant nestled inside.  It was cheesy and kitschy but at that age, those are the things children are drawn to. We paid for our purchase, excited to present the gift to my mom.

I was wearing yellow flats that had a tendency to be slippery.  I always felt so grown up in those shoes which is why I choose to wear them.  A bus had been coming up the little hill by the store.  My sister and I went rushing across the road in an attempt to get home as quickly as possible to hand over our Mother's Day present.

In our haste, my shoes slipped on some loose gravel and I fell down hard in the road.  I remember the bus stopping as it came closer to us.  The little swan that I had been clutching had hit the pavement and shattered.  I was heartbroken and started sobbing uncontrollably trying to grasp some of the larger pieces. I was more concerned over the state of the swan than my skinned knee and hands. I remember my sister yelling at me to forget about it and to get out of the road.

All that was left of the planter was the little plastic cup filled with dirt and the plant which had remained unharmed in the fall.  I remember my mom meeting us at the door after we ran (or tried to since my shoes were not exactly appropriate for running) the entire way home.  My mom had thought something dire had happened by my tears. 

After getting the story, my mother was more concerned over my fall than the loss of the swan (and the waste of money).  And as was typical, reminded me that I needed to be more careful crossing the road.  When I handed over the plant, she acted as though it was the nicest Mother's Day present she had ever received.

My dad had returned home later that night, sans a Mother's Day gift.  Shame on him.

The lesson I learned was that my mom, any mom, just wants their children's undivided attention for more than just a few moments on that one day a year. For us to show them that we value them and what they do/did for us.  It really is as simple as that.  Just a few little words which are sometimes the hardest gifts to give.  Maybe because unlike the gifts that we buy, these gifts require us to give a little piece of ourselves. Maybe because we don't always have the smoothest relationships with our moms due to being to different or maybe to much alike.  Or sometimes as moms ourselves, we don't always agree with decisions that our own moms have made.

Now every time I see swans I think of that Mother's Day and of my mom.

Enjoy your special day.  You deserve it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless/Wordful Wednesday: Here Fishy, Fishy

I always thought watching fish swim would be relaxing as they meander around the tank.  It isn't.  The sound of the water in the tank can be relaxing but the fish move energetically, propelling themselves from one end of the tank to the other. At times they look to be playing their own game of fish tag. It is entertaining.

My husband has a 125 gallon tank. This is what it looked like before we moved to our current house.

It was filled with beautiful colored cichlids, a delight for any child since they were so colorful.  His tank truly did remind me of Dr. Seuss's One Fish,Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish since these freshwater fish come in a dazzling array of bright colors (at least the males do).

My husband is restarting the tank with fish-not cichlids this time since the tank requires a lot of attention but with little fishies that Emmy got to pick out at the pet store.  When she woke up from her nap she was screaming, "fishies, time pick out fishies".  She was so excited.

Emmy loves fish.  Friends of ours have a koi pond in their backyard.  If we would have let her, she would have jumped right in to play with the fish.

We had gone with my husband and some friends on their annual pilgrimage to Canada to go fishing.  Emmy had a blast catching her first fish.  Okay, so she may have had more fun throwing her princess fishing pole in the lake and watching my husband fish it out with the net.

We are now the proud owners of some red-tailed sharks, corys, Buenos Aires tetras, and some marigold wag swordtails.  Emmy even picked out a little house for the fishies to live in.  She now likes to stand on a small chair in front of the tank calling, "Here fishy, fishies. Where are you?"

They are right there Emmy, swimming right past your little nose.  Her squeals of delight are priceless.

Check out more Wordless Wednesday here and at 5 Minutes for Mom.  More Wordful Wednesday can be found at Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hello, Nice to Meet You Toes

One Saturday, I heard my husband laughing.  He came out into the kitchen and told me that our daughter had came up to him as he sat on the couch, his feet on the floor.  She stooped down and shook his feet saying, "hello toes, nice to meet you". 

How cute is that, I ask?!?!

Where did our daughter get her interest in feet...hmmm...could that have come from me.

I love the 80 degree weather we have been having. That means...

Painted toes...

Walking barefoot in the grass (okay, so I've just thought about doing that one but I am a wuss and would be afraid of stepping on creepy crawlies)...

Digging the toe rings and anklets out of the jewelry box...

Sandal shopping...espadrilles, wedges, flip-flops, heels, no many choices.

Dipping my toes into the water (dipping my toes into the kiddie pool is acceptable since our inground isn't yet open and we are not that close to the ocean)...

I love this time of year.  No more loafers or sneakers.  My toes once again can see the light of day.

Image credit: marigroth at stock.xchng

Monday, May 3, 2010

Outdoor Summertime Safety

Wear sunscreen
The sun is the strongest from around 10 am to 4 pm.  Sunburns early in life can increase your chances of skin cancer in years to come.  Keep your children's skin protected.  The CDC recommends using an SPF of 15 or higher with UVB and UVA protection.  Reapply every two hours, sooner if your working up a sweat or swimming. If your sunscreen doesn't have an expiration date, pitch it after three years and purchase a new bottle.  Choose cosmetics that have SPF for added protection on a daily basis.

Choose appropriate head wear
Have your children wear hats with brims in the sun to protect their faces, neck, ears, and head from the sun.  If your child prefers ball caps, don't forget to have them apply sunscreen on their exposed skin.

Wearing helmets when they are riding their bikes, scooters, skateboards, or skates can decrease the chances of injury.  Out of the approximate 900 people killed annually in bicycle related deaths, over 200 are children.  Approximately 60% of these deaths are caused due to head injury.  Approximately half a million people are sent to the emergency room every year for injuries sustained in bicycle related incidents.  A helmet worn correctly can decrease your chances of sustaining a head injury by up to 85%.

CPSC tips for choosing a proper bicycle helmet:
  • Wear the helmet flat atop your head, not tilted back at an angle.
  • Make sure the helmet fits snugly and does not obstruct your field of vision.
  • Make sure the chin strap fits securely and that the buckle stays fastened.

Does cost matter?  Nope, at least not according to one study.  One study done showed that the cheap helmets (under $20) performed almost identical to the most expensive ones (from between $150 and $200).

When should you replace your helmet?
  • If you crashed and hit your head (even if the helmet looks undamaged) 
  • If you dropped the helmet on a hard surface and cracked the foam
  • It should have a CPSC, ASTM, or Snell sticker 
  • If it does not fit correctly

Don't forget the sunglasses
Wear sunglasses that protect your eyes from UVA and UVB protection.  This will protect the sensitive skin around your eyes and will also help reduce your chances of developing cataracts.

Wear appropriate footwear and clothing
If your child is at the playground nix the flip flops to avoid falls.  Also, avoid wearing necklaces or drawstrings at the playground as they can catch on the equipment.

Some clothing now offers additional UVA protection.  Darker clothes protect against the sun's rays better than light colored clothing.  A regular t-shirt has an SPF rating of less than 15.

Teach your children about road traffic safety.
Here are some of the basics:
  • They should never run into the street after a toy
  • Always look left, right, left when crossing the street 
  • They should not be playing outside alone
Teach your child street smarts
As much as we don't want to think about bad things happening to our children, we need to be vigilant and teach our children how to stay safe.  One of the things we need to teach them is street smarts. This is taking care of themselves in case they are ever in a compromising situation. 

Here are some tips:
  • Telling your child to never talk to a stranger is not always realistic but do teach them to NEVER go anywhere with a stranger without your permission
  • Talk with your child about the things bad people may say to get them to go with them or to gain their trust
  • Have a secret word that only you and your child know (if you ever need someone your child doesn't know to pick them up they will need to say that word to your child so your child knows they can be trusted)
  • Encourage your child to always stay with friends
  • Teach your child that it is okay to trust their instincts and to run find other adults if someone makes them uncomfortable
What about if your child becomes lost?

  • Teach your child his/her full name at an early age and your names to (if old enough they should also know their address and phone number)
  • Have your child know to stay put and call your name (not mom or dad) if he or she becomes seperated from you
  • If they don't see you or hear you, have them find a woman, a police officer, or a store clerk to help them
If you are going to an amusement park or an area where there will be a lot of people, consider purchasing Safetytats (temporary tattoos with your phone number).  There are also child tracker wrist watches that your children can wear while you wear the reciever.  If your child moves out of a set range, an alarm will sound.  There are also other child tracking devices out there (including some with GPS capabilities).

Drink plenty of fluids
Children have a tendency to lose themselves in play so they may need to be reminded to drink up to avoid heat stroke or dehydration. Children lose fluids more rapidly than adults.

Make sure children are supervised
It is important to keep an eye out for your children.  Make sure they are using playground equipment safely and that there is no "monkey" business. Always inspect the equipment before your children use it (especially if they are toddlers). A playground safety checklist can be viewed and printed by clicking here.  Also, make sure they are taking proper precautions when riding bikes or participating in any other activities outside. 

Image obtained from the CPSC website.