Monday, January 31, 2011

Tiny Prints: What Is Love? (And There's a Giveaway)

Recently I was contacted about being part of a Valentine's Day Campaign for Tiny Prints who has a large selection of cards, gift tags, stickers, and more for Valentine's Day and other occasions.  They wanted to know what children think about love.

Since we are making a Valentine's craft today it gave me the perfect opportunity to ask my oldest "What is love?"

Her response?

"It is when you give people dinosaur hugs and kisses.  RWAR!" (She has this thing with dinosaurs, obviously.)

"It is when you make them cards."

"I love Nanny and Pappy, Grammy, and Grandpa." (Hey, what about mom and dad?)

Then I asked her how she shows her sister love.

"I sing her songs and play with her."  (She forgot to mention that playing usually entails fighting over a toy.)

"Oh, and I make funny faces at her," she laughed contorting her features into a silly face, crossing her eyes,  and putting her fingers in her ears.

That is love according to a three year old.

Some information about Tiny Prints:
Tiny Prints provides simple, modern and unique stationery from Valentines Day cards to personalized greeting cards to thank you cardsbusiness cards, and even custom wedding invitations. Offering exclusive designs from the nation's top designers, easy card personalization, a powerful preview engine and top-notch customer service and paper quality, their designs have been lauded by numerous television networks, publications and celebrities. With Tiny Prints by your side commemorating every holiday and momentous occasion is a cinch! They offer perfect party invitations for every occasion and memorable personalized photo-gifts like notebooksphoto books and calendars.

They are also holding a Tiny Prints Valentine's Day Sweepstakes.  Answer the question "What's the craziest thing you've done for love?" in 100 words or less and you could win $1000 or one of their daily $50 prizes.

Tiny Prints $50 GC Giveaway
Since through Global Influence, Tiny Prints was compensating bloggers with a $50 gift code I decided to offer this gift code to my readers through a giveaway so they can experience all Tiny Prints has to offer for themselves.

Mandatory Entry (This entry must be completed or all other entries are void):
  • You must be a follower of The Practical Mom Guide via RSS or Google Friend to enter. 
  • Visit Tiny Prints and leave a comment here about what you would spend your $50 gift code on.
To receive additional entries (for those actions worth more than one entry leave separate comments for each entry):
* Answer the question "What is something crazy you have done for love?" (2 entries)

*Follow Tiny Prints on twitter (1 entry each)

*Become a fan of Tiny Prints on Facebook (1 entry each)

*Tweet (maximum of once daily) about this giveaway and don't forget to leave your twitter name
Copy and paste:  Win a $50 Tiny Prints GC at #TPMG (ends 2/7/11).  (1 entry per tweet)

*Post about this giveaway on your blog (5 entries)

This giveaway will end on Sunday, February 6, 2011. I will announce the winner on February 7th here at The Practical Mom Guide. If I am unable to contact the winner or they do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: I was invited to be part of the Tiny Prints campaign through my membership in Global Influence and was provided with a $50 Tiny Prints GC which I am giving away to one lucky reader.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Advice To A New Mom?

                    Photo Credit

Whether you adopt or give birth to the child you hold in your arms, there is nothing like a mother's love.  That fierce protectiveness, that surge of emotion that reminds you that you are forever changed, and even the nerves and twinges of fear that color many moments in those early days and that never quite go away all remind you that you are now a mom.

It sounds daunting, doesn't it?  But no mother would tell you that it isn't the greatest job in the world.

This past weekend I attended a baby shower for friends of ours.  It brought back all of those memories of before Emily was born.  Could it only be four years ago that she was still inside me as my husband and I  argued over names, planned the nursery, and I read every baby book I could get my hands on?

The table I sat at at the shower was a motley group of women from a college student who didn't have children to a grandmother who was well versed in child rearing.  There I was the mom of two toddlers with another baby on the way. We found ourselves talking about the latest research on tv watching and children, labor, lamaze reunions, and breastfeeding. 

I thought of the most baby items (60 to be exact) even while talking with one of the women at the table about all the things you think you need when your expecting baby #1 and then realize after they turn one that you didn't need ALL of those things after all.  One of the women from farther back in the room asked that I read them aloud after everyone went through how many items they had.  Thank goodness no one made me. 

Its no wonder I could think of so many.  This is my life most days.

We all got it when we were expecting or when our babies first arrived.  Advice.  Some sorely needed, some we didn't want to hear, and some that has stuck with us as our children have grown.  There is nothing women who are mothers like to talk about more than what it was like when their children were born, the trends at that time, and how much things have changed.

I really started to think again about the advice I got from other moms or that I read in the myriad books and magazines during my pregnancy.

Choose a pediatrician that you trust
A pediatrician is often going to be your second line of defense (after a mother's and father's instinct and that phone call to grandma) when dealing with the health of your child.  Sometimes they will seem to be a lifeline when you need to hear an expert's opinion and to be reassured that your child is okay, especially when they are sick.  They are also great resources for any questions you have regarding your child from sleeping to behavior (not just illnesses). You need to be comfortable asking them questions such as does poop really come in that many colors. 

Don't lose yourself
Let's face it your life as you knew it is over.  You now have a precious little one who depends solely on you 24/7 and who looks to you to make all of their decisions for them. You have to be willing to give up part of your former life but not all of it.  Many moms go back to work while some may stay at home.  Regardless of which ever you choose still find time to do the things you enjoy even if it is just finding a few minutes to read a book.  There is a such thing as mommy burn out.  Talk to any mom and she will tell you all about it.  It happens to us all at some point (and not just in that first year). 
Find a support group
Motherhood can be isolating especially during the winter months when it is cold outside and trips to the park just are not an option. Find other moms to connect with at storytimes, moms groups, at mommy and me classes, etc.  Having a group of women with children similar in age to your child will give you a chance for some adult conversation and they are a great resource for any questions you may have. These women are going through the same things you are so not only can they be a sounding board but also may become good friends who understand the day to day challenges of motherhood since they are in the trenches right beside you.

Trust your instincts
Trust your gut.  It really is as simple as that.  No one will know your child better than you.  You know all their little coos and you'll probably have their movements memorized. You know better than anyone what is and isn't normal.  Don't doubt yourself. 

Stick with the basics
When your registering for baby items, your child really doesn't need every single toy or baby item known to man.  Really.

As far as toys, a lot of what your child is going to learn in the beginning is going to come from you.  Just because something is labeled educational doens't mean your child must have it especially since many toys are teaching the same skills.  When trying to decide what you really need or that was useful ask other moms who recently had children. 

Walking into any baby store can be overwhelming.  Just since I had my second daughter two years ago, a whole slew of new products have now appeared on the shelves.  Looking at some registry lists I usually can pick out three or four items that most moms will get and never use.  I have several still sitting in the closet from when my first daughter was born. They are things I was sure I would need but which still sit in their original packaging.  Ask other moms for advice when making your lists to register. Better yet, have one of your mom friends go with you (and your husband who you don't want to forget in this process).  She'll be able to steer you away from all the hype around what all moms "must" have versus what they really need.  This will save you time shopping, money, and space in your home. 

Forget your perfect ideal of motherhood.
You'll beat yourself more than anyone else possibly could about whether you are doing the right thing.  Your child needs your love more than anything else and you are the best mother ever in their eyes (even though as they get older they may say the opposite).  Do what is right for you and your family based on the lifestyle you live.  Don't get caught up in the "do this" and "don't do that" mentality or you will drive yourself crazy. I literally drove myself crazy the first year trying to do everything "by the book".  That lasted until my daughter was six months old and I finally said enough was enough.  It felt like a weight had been lifted.  Not being so hard on yourself is the best gift you can give yourself as a mom. Even though we all have those overwhelming days of "mommy guilt", don't let it take over. Move past it.

What advice would you give a new mom?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Being Outnumbered

From the time she was in utero I swore my first daughter was not going to be a princess for Halloween unless she chose to be.  All of her toys for the first year of her life were all gender neutral.

I wasn't even the first person to buy my daughter a doll or her first purse (the Laugh and Learn Purse from Fisher-Price which came with keys, a faux dollar, lipstick, etc.).

She has a cowgirl dress, a doctor's scrubs, a fireman's vest and hat, construction gear, and other dress-up clothes in addition to all of the princess paraphernalia including shoes, necklaces, gloves, boas, and gowns.  

Yet, she gravitates towards all the girly stuff. 

At playgroups starting at about the nine or ten months of age she was the one who immediately picked up the dolls to cuddle at playgroup.  As she grew, she needed a collection of stuffed animals in her bed because they were a "family" just like her's.  She prefers dresses over jeans.

"Daddy, don't I look beautiful?" is constantly heard in our house as Em models one of her princess dresses. 

She has now moved on to thinking her sister is a giant, living, breathing dress-up doll. 

Madison is also a girly girl but not so thrilled to be dressed by her sister.  She also loves dolls and purses though and I know dressing up is in her future-on her terms, of course. since she is just as independent as her sister.

While my husband loves our daughters to the ends of the earth and would do anything for them, I can see it in his face everytime fishing season rolls around.  He always wished he would have a fishing buddy.

While I try to explain to him just because the girls are girly girls it doesn't mean they will not like to fish with him, I can see the doubt on his face.  Em especially loves the water and she loves to get dirty.  She has never met a mud puddle she did not like.  Since she is three this will be her first year actually going fishing with her dad.

Yet her fascination with tea parties, dolls, and dress-up sometimes takes it toll on my husband especially after a weekend of girly girl activities.

He knows that even if they like to fish with him now it will all change once makeup and boys come on the scene.  I couldn't deny that since I loved to go fishing with my dad and grandfather as a child but I don't remember ever going once I hit my teen years.  I started going again after I met my husband.

It turns out that my husband may have a fishing buddy after all if the girls decide not to follow in their dads footsteps.

We just found out baby #3 is going to be a little boy.

My husband is not going to be quite so outnumbered by the women after all.

Things will be changing yet again very soon.

Now we will have cars, trucks, and sports toys competing for real estate space in our house. 

And with two big sisters, this little guy will certainly get a first hand lesson in how to deal with women.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Growing Up Without Noticing

Last weekend was my aunt's 50th birthday party.

Her sons plotted and planned to fill a local historic inn with her friends and family to surprise her.  

They schemed on how to get her there without any suspicions on her part saying the woman who owned the inn, a friend of the family, wanted to take her picture on her birthday.  One of the men joked that Adrienne, the owner probably didn't own a camera much less know how to work one as everyone gathered in the hall to greet my aunt as she walked in.  Luckily my aunt was none the wiser.

When she walked in the door to yells of surprise and flashbulbs, she began to cry and had to leave the room to compose herself.

As we all made our ways back to our seats admiring the architectural details of the inn and chatting, somehow I had never noticed before how we had all grown up.  My generation was now married, had embarked on careers, and some of us even had children.

When had that happened?

When had we become the adults in the room when I wasn't looking? We weren't the young children anymore.  We were the parents of the young children.

What did the scene look from my aunt's eyes?

Was it a reminder of how fast time flies and the losses experienced or a reminder that some things stay constant and strong and how much we have in our lives in the here and now? Maybe both?

Even though my generation had grown you could still see the ties to our families and our family's friends were still there.  The entertainer was the daughter of a dear friend of my aunt's who was a singer in NYC (her rendition of "The Girl in 14G" was amazing) and who reminded me that it has been way to long since I had been to NYC to see a show. I had known she sang but I had never heard her. She was amazing.  The caterer I believe was in some way related to my aunt-a niece I think.

Ribbons of love wound through the room wrapping the scene in a large invisible bow-more impressive than any bow on any present.

One day it will be our children all grown up. I couldn't help wondering what my children, my friends' children, and our nieces and nephews will be like when they are all grown up.  Who will they be? For a few moments I wished for just a glance into a crystal ball or more fitting-the mirror over the fireplace. Just one glance at what the future would hold.

But where would the fun be in that?  Life is about living and experiencing.  That would be cheating.  It would be like skipping the middle of a book and reading the last few pages.

All I know is that I hope our children are healthy, happy, and capable of opening their hearts to receive and to give large amounts of love. 

That would be enough for me.

Well, and a fabulous 50th birthday like my aunt's when that milestone birthday comes around, completely surrounded by a roomful of loved ones and the reminders of a life well lived.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Looking In the Right Place

Several of my posts have involved preschool since Em started school back in September.  They have included my guilt over my hasty fashion sense (that no one is the wiser of-or maybe they are) at drop-off, my baking frenzy (oh, how I would love a sous chef or someone to just tell me what to bake sometimes), the need for thinking ahead when dealing with fundraisers (like who is going to deliver all of them when your child is only three), and of course my favorite-the mommy race of soon-to-be preschoolers.

This most recent one involves the Wish Tree.  It is what it sounds like.  It is an outline of a tree that adorns the outside of my daughter's classroom door.  What "hangs" from the tree changes with the season.  At the beginning of the year it was paper apples, then stars, pumpkins, and now snowflakes.  The papers have something that the teacher "wishes" for.  Parents then choose one of the items and then brings it in for the classroom.  The items have included tissues, hand sanitizer, juice (for snack time), cutting a craft, and most recently foil star stickers. This not only helps keep the preschool tuition down but it also keeps the teachers from dipping into their own pockets to buy things for the classroom.

When I saw foil star stickers I immediately pulled the snowflake with that item and stuffed it in my pocket.    Who knew I needed such excitement in my life that I had felt the need to pick something "different" from the tree.  I guess a bottle of juice was to hum-drum for me. 

Maybe it was the memories I had of Sunday School and putting those little stickers on the attendance chart or when I had the pleasure of seeing one of those stickers on a graded paper in elementary school that made me choose them from the Wishing Tree.

Who knew those stickers would be so hard to find?

Wal-mart, Target, Dollar Tree, Michael's, A.C. one had them.  My only options were Party City or the school supply store which were at least a half an hour away and on a stretch of road that I avoid at all costs.

How could it be so hard to find something that is basically an iconic part of anyone's school memories?  I am sure we all have memories of those stickers from at some point in our trip through the school system.

On a recent phone conversation with a friend who is going back to school for education, I asked her if she had any inkling where I could find these stickers.

Then she asked me if I was sure I was looking in the right place. 

Of course I had.  I had looked everywhere, I exclaimed. From the craft sections (where the crayons and markers were) to the stationary section (where they had stickers and cards) to the party supply section (where they had stickers for the goody bags).  When I asked store workers if they sold them I always got blank looks.

This had turned into more work than I realized, but it got me thinking.

Had I really looked in the right place?

At 9:30 last night I made one last trip through the aisles of Wal-Mart.  I wasn't going to slink in to my daughter's preschool this morning admitting I was defeated by a bunch of foil stickers.  And I was afraid I hadn't looked in the "right place" after all.  How foolish would I look if that was the case?

I found them.  In the label section amid post-its and file labels.  Because they weren't "stickers" they were foil star labels.  Who knew?

How often do we look for things that are right under our noses the whole time? Maybe they are a little to the left or right of where we are looking but they are still there.  yet, we are oblivious.  We may think we know what we are looking for but if our "label" is a little off then it in turn throws us off. 

That sense of satisfaction is still unlike anything else when we find what it is we are looking for no matter how small. Sometimes we don't know what it is exactly that it is that we are looking for until we find it.

By the way, I bought three packs of the foil sticker labels.  2145 stickers. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stalking and a Pencil Bouquet

A friend had jokingly sent me an email entitled "Stalking".

After leaving preschool one day I stopped at a light that was turning from yellow to red and all of a sudden someone started beeping their horn behind me.

At me?  For not running a red light?

I could feel the annoyance flaring inside of me and tried to keep myself from muttering any unpleasantries since the girls were in the car.

I hate aggressive drivers.

I looked in my rearview mirror trying to identify the culprit.  Did the person behind me look like a horn blowing, impatient, rude driver?

Actually she looked kind of familiar.  Then she started to wave and I noticed her laughing.  It was my friend who had also just picked up her daughter from preschool.  She was just trying to get my attention.

Then I started laughing.

Emmy asked what was so funny.  "Miss Cathy (names have been changed to protect the guilty) is being silly", I replied.  Em started making beeping noises with Madison soon joining in.

Since then Em always asks if we are going to see Miss Cathy when we go to preschool even now weeks later.  Something about her silliness endeared herself to my daughter even though she has known her for awhile.

Later that day I got the stalking email from her which made me laugh.  It asked if I enjoyed being stalked at the light.  She thought it would be fun to fool with me. It had given me a laugh after my initial surprise.  She went on to say how she hoped my driving wasn't disrupted to much and how amusing it was on her part (and how desperate she was for attention).

We went back and forth with that email and I had mentioned a conversation I had had earlier that morning with the preschool director about kindergarten and which preschool program to enroll Em in for next year.  Miss Cathy gave me some good advice and then at the bottom of the email joked how she usually charges $150 dollars for her invaluable advice.

I asked her if she would accept the $150 in chicken corn noodle soup.  She had recently requested my chicken corn noodle recipe.

She replied that she would take it in pencils.

Then the wheels started turning.

At the dollar store you can buy 12 pencils for $1.  That means I would owe her 1800 pencils.  That's a lot of pencils.

But 150 pencils...that I could do.

For Miss Cathy's birthday recently I made her a pencil bouquet of 150 pencils wrapped in a gold ribbon.

I couldn't stop laughing in the Dollar Store as I bought the pencils.  Then I couldn't stop chuckling as I tried to grasp that many pencils as I unskillfully maneuvered a rubber band around them. I smiled every time I imagined her face when she opened her "present".

I of course also got her a chocolate cupcake to go with her "bouquet" since chocolate goes with everything.

I couldn't even keep a straight face as I handed her the gift.  I had everything in a little gift bag with tissue paper covering the bouquet.  She promised to let me know how she liked it.

After a few hours I didn't hear anything and then I started to worry.  I kept checking my email on the computer and even on my cell phone when I ran out to run errands.  Had I offended her?  I love practical jokes but had I gone to far?  Even though most of the moms I know don't celebrate each others birthdays-only the kids'- since otherwise we would all be in the poor house, I wondered if I should have gotten her something a little more serious even if it was something small? 

Then, I noticed the light blinking on our answering machine.  She had called while I was out and my husband hadn't even noticed.

She loved it.  She thought is was hilarious.  My first thought was of relief and then I laughed.  She later sent me an email joking that she meant gold bricks. I responded that we might have some fool's gold lying around somewhere. 

A little laughter can go a long way.  I still chuckle when I think about it.

That is what is keeping me laughing this morning since we are stuck inside with lots of ice outside and school cancelled.

What is a practical joke you once pulled that still makes you smile when you think about it?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Purex Insider Purex Complete Crystals Softener Review & Giveaway (3 winners)

I recently became a Purex Insider so I have the opportunity to bring you news on Purex products.  They recently launched a new product called Purex Complete Crystals Softener™ that is just going on sale in stores starting this month.

  Facts about this new product:
  • 92% natural and not oil-based like other fabric softeners
  • Safe for use in Standard and High Efficiency (HE) washing machines
  • No oily residue which means no interfering with your towels ability to absorb water, safe to use on children's sleepwear since it does not hinder the fabric's flame retardant ability, and it does not affect the ability of wicking fabrics like those in sportswear to do their job
  • Easy to use (just throw in with your clothing at the start of the wash cycle)
  • Will keep your whites from yellowing or graying
  • Available in three new scents: Fresh Spring waters™ , Lavender Blossom™ , and Tropical Splash
  • Priced around $3.99-$5.99 and available nationwide at food, drug, and mass retailers 

I had been sent a sample of the Purex Complete Crystals Softener in the Fresh Spring Water scent.  I was a little worried about sprinkling the crystals in with my laundry because I feared I would have stains on my clothes where they came into contact with the fabric.  When I took my laundry out, my laundry not only looked clean but it smelled fresh.  The scent while the clothing was wet was a little strong but after a cycle in the dryer it came out smelling lightly scented.  Since I am sensitive to smells, I liked that it wasn't a cloying or overwhelming scent.  

I also liked that the fabric softener is primarily natural and that it doesn't impede the ability of fabrics to do their job.  As a mom concerned with taking care of the items we buy and trying to make them last as long as possible, I like products that help me with this goal.

Not being a fan of dryer sheets (which I have a tendency to not pull out when I get the clothing out of the dryer and which I find days later inside clothes), I prefer using fabric softener to help keep our clothes static free.  The crystals are very easy to use and I liked being able to just throw them in at the beginning of the wash cycle and then go about doing other things. 

Want to try them for yourself?

Purex Complete Crystals Softener Giveaway (3 winners)
Three winners will recieve a coupon for a free 28 oz. bottle of Purex Complete Crystals Softener.

Mandatory entry (if you do not complete this entry all others will be void):  Share your favorite laundry tip or share your favorite thing about doing laundry!  

To receive additional entries:
*Become a follower or a subscriber of The Practical Mom Guide and if you already do so just leave a comment stating that you already follow (1 entry)

*Follow TPMG and/or Purex on twitter (1 entry each)

*Become a fan of TPMG and/or Purex on Facebook (1 entry each)

*Tweet (maximum of once daily) about this giveaway and don't forget to leave your twitter name
Copy and paste:  Purex Complete Crystals Softener Giveaway at #TPMG. 3 winners  (1 entry per tweet)

*Add The Practical Mom Guide to your blogroll or display our button (5 entries)

*Post about this giveaway on your blog (5 entries)

This giveaway will end on Sunday, January 30, 2010. I will announce the winner on January 31st here at The Practical Mom Guide. If I am unable to contact the winner or they do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Contest only open to U.S. residents.

Good luck and thanks for participating! 

I am a Purex Insider and was provided with a sample of the Purex Complete Crystals Softener and coupons to give away to my readers courtesy of Purex.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Let Your Light Shine

Emily just started dance class.  She has always loved to dance and bop along to music as soon as she discovered she could.

As soon as she discovered she could put videos in the DVD player herself she did.  Dancing Barbies and beginner ballet videos would play repeatedly until I turned them off .  She would try to mimic what she saw onscreen.

Then the "can I go to dance class, Mommy?" began.

I signed her up for her first dance class last week.  That first night the teacher asked if we were just trying out a class or if Emily was definitely going to be taking the pre-ballet/tap.  I smiled and said I think she was definitely staying in the class even though that first night Emily seemed to be more interested in watching herself twirl in the floor length mirrors than to follow the teacher's instructions. 

This was the smile on her face when she came home from class the other night.  She couldn't wait to show her dad her new moves and to show off her green heart sticker that all the dancers got from their teacher. 

Let your light shine, baby...let it shine.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Giving Up Feeling Guilty Over Feeling Guilty

Does that sound right?

You may know the feeling.  The twinges of guilt you get when you feel guilty over leaving your children with a babysitter (such as grandma).  You feel guilt even when you know the kids are not thinking about you and are having a blast.  Then you start to feel guilty that you feel guilty.  Why can't you enjoy your time away from the kids without that guilt marring a beautiful evening out with friends or date night with hubby?

I know I am guilty as charged.  And not just over leaving my kids but also not spending enough time on my appearance and so on.  Then I feel bad that I am wasting time dwelling on it.  So what if I don't buy into the whole looking perfect thing before I step out of the house (which seriously, what mom has the time for that)?  I have more important concerns in the morning such as getting my daughter to school on time.  Sometimes that doesn't leave time for a blow-out or a blow dry of any kind.  If you ever see me in a baseball cap or a winter cap, I can pretty much guarantee that my hair is wet underneath or that I didn't shower yet today.  Now you know my secret.

I had an epiphany the other evening. 

The day had started like any other.

I had playgroup and off I went with the girls.  I actually had dry hair that morning which was unusual so maybe it wasn't like any other.  My husband was working from home that day and was upstairs when we arrived home. 

While I took off the girls coats, he casually asked if I wanted to go to Emeril's for dinner.  He also mentioned he had already called his mom to babysit since she was planning to watch the girls for my OB appointment in the afternoon anyway.

I looked at him like he had grown an extra appendage before I gave my answer.  "Are you serious?  Of course, I want to go."

My mother-in-law had watched the girls the day before New Year's and she had kept them overnight so my husband and I could attend a neighbor's New Year's Eve Party.  We had made plans to go to the farmer's market sans kids, do some things around the house, have a nice dinner, and then go to the party. 

The night before I asked my husband if he had thought about making reservations for dinner.  He hadn't which meant most places would be booked solid.  "That was okay," he said. "We'll figure something out."

We ended up eating lunch at the farmer's market and by the time dinner rolled around, neither of us was very hungry so we ended up skipping dinner. So much for our nice dinner out.

That night at the party I was part of a conversation where we were talking about nice restaurants. Hearing everyone listing all the great new local restaurants that we hadn't visited, I felt a yearning for my old life.  I couldn't remember the last time I ate at a really nice restaurant that was not kid friendly and that had a wine list.  Granted the one woman had older kids and the one gentleman had an empty nest. There had been a time BK (Before Kids) when we would frequently go out for a nice dinner, enjoy a few glasses of wine, and then stay up late on the town.  Those days I took for granted.  I even took the food for granted.  It took a lot for me to get enthusiastic over food.  Now if I don't have to cook it I am pretty enthusiastic.

So when my husband asked me to go for a nice dinner, it was all I could do not to go dancing around the kitchen.

I have to say that was one of the best meals of my life.  The food was fantastic from the appetizer to the dessert. 

I have no shame.  I even took a picture of my dessert which my husband just shook his head at.  Flourless chocolate cake-the most decadent thing to ever pass my lips.  It was divine.

It was during dinner that I realized I felt no guilt leaving my kids to eat out with my husband.

No guilt either over the fact I was in a nice restaurant in my maternity jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt covering my baby bump and no makeup.  I was comfortable and that was enough for me.  Maybe it was the mellow atmosphere but I didn't care.  My husband certainly didn't seem to mind how I looked.  I had all of his attention and that made me feel beautiful just the way I was.

I didn't feel guilty for anything.

How it happened I don't know.  Did something change in my mind set?  Not that I could pinpoint except my husband's comment that when #3 comes along these dinners will be even rarer still especially for that first year.

Or maybe my subconscious said screw it and to stop feeling guilty all the time and that this is life (my only one) so I better enjoy it.

The next morning I was still feeling guilt-free. 

Even after being up all night with two screaming kids and only three hours of sleep, I still wasn't guilty.  When I dropped my daughter off at preschool with my new red cap (that matched my red plaid scarf and charcoal pea coat) and my friend commented on my fashionable look, I laughed, thanked her, and smiled all the way to the car. Because yep, my hair was soaked underneath since I had just got out of the shower five minutes before dropping Em off at school.

This guilt-free thing isn't so bad.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A White Friday

Somehow I missed the weather report yesterday morning that was calling for impending snow today.

Three to six inches of snow to be exact with the worst right around rush hour in the morning.

I heard about it yesterday afternoon at the allergist's office.

It is a good thing I heard to because I had some grocery shopping to do.  I never ventured out because I knew the stores would be crazy busy with people stocking up on snacks and things to keep the kids occupied in case school was canceled. 

Around here schools cancel quickly.

I would rather go out this afternoon after the roads are cleared. 

Snow is already old news here.  And yes, we even drive in it and even find reasons to go out in it. 

The day after Christmas we got a few inches.  No big snowstorms though yet unlike some parts of the country.

All the school age kids I am sure were praying last night before they went to bed that the weathermen had got the weather report right.  They dreamed of delays and cancellations.

I woke up to a White Friday which means today we will be playing out in the snow.  Snow boots and snow suits will be pulled out.  My husband will be commandered to pull the sled around the yard.

A snowman may be built if there is enough snow when it is all said and done.  And of course, if it is the right kind of snow.  If it is the right kind of snow I foresee a snowball fight in my future to.

It's always the right kind of snow for snow angels, according to Emily.

How are you spending your Friday?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Another Chance to Be a Millionaire Gone

I certainly didn't wake up a millionaire.

Yesterday morning, my husband commented that he would be stopping to pick up some lottery tickets on his way home.  I rolled my eyes.  I seem to be doing that a lot lately.  At least I can blame it on hormones.

After all, the lottery has probably been the talk of his work this week and it has certainly been mentioned on the news often enough.

When I spoke to my mother-in-law on the phone, she asked whether we had got our tickets.  I smiled and assured her that her son was already on it.

With a $355M Mega Millions Lottery jackpot, who wouldn't be lured by the chance to win even if your odds are hundreds of millions to one?  Okay, many.  Those who are realistic, perhaps. I have heard people refer to the lottery and the "stupidity tax".  Why waste your hard earned money on a pipe dream, they cry?

Watching the people on the news with their lists of what they would do with the money if they won, many of them looking like those dollars could be well spent elsewhere, I wonder if believing in that pipe dream is really so bad.

Growing up my dad would sometimes pick up lottery tickets.  He was a dreamer so it was no surprise that he bought into the whole idea of his ship one day coming in in the form of a little piece of paper with a bunch of numbers on it. 
Everyone needs to dream about something.  Is it really so bad to hope that one day you could be so lucky as to win the lottery and to become rich, rich beyond your wildest dreams with enough money to help those you love and your community.

Did you get sucked in and buy lottery tickets for the big drawing? 

If you had been one of the two winners of  $177.5 million, what would you done with the money?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mommy is Having a Baby For Christmas

Not quite.

Not until June, hopefully.  But Emmy was running around the front hallway (before we had told our family and while we had a houseful of guests) that she was getting a brother or sister for Christmas.

Apparently, no one heard her though. Or so they said when they did know!

I wanted to come up with a unique way of telling our family since Christmas seems to be the time to always announce the news of new babies in our family.

But by the time the holiday arrived I was to tired and drained to really care how anyone found out.

Sad, isn't it?

I begged my husband to tell everyone the first night we had gotten together with my husband's family.  Both of his sister's were in from out-of-town.

"Please just tell them," I pleaded.

He looked at me and said, "No. Let's wait until Christmas. It's tradition."

He wasn't the one who was walking around with the baby bump trying to keep the nausea and exhaustion from showing.  I was tired of hiding it and figured they had figured it out already especially, after my sister-in-law had joked about us trying for number three after a heated discussion over whether some families have a higher likelihood of having boys or girls.

My husband is officially cut off from watching anymore Discovery Channel.

After that discussion where I stammered and blushed and figured my sister-in-law was just fishing (she really wasn't), I really felt like it was the elephant in the room.  I had to wait two more days before my husband would put me out of my misery to announce our news.

How did we tell them?

Originally, I was going to make homemade crockpot apple butter and put in jars with labels that read Bella Baby #3's  Apple Butter.  I was going to put it in all of the adults' stockings.

That didn't happen though.

All the grandkids had gotten a group portrait done at the end of the summer so we had given it to my mother-in-law in a decorative calendar box and I had put my last ultrasound picture in to with a #3 on it.  When she had pulled the portrait out, the picture had fluttered to the floor.  My sister-in-law had picked it up and happened to glance at it, got huge eyes, and shoved it at my mother-in-law.

It turned out no one had any idea that I was pregnant.  

Of course it went better than two Christmases ago when we told my family we were expecting Madison. I had signed my mother's Christmas card Bob, Joy, Emily, & Baby.  Of course as she opened it the antique Windsor chair I was sitting had a leg snap off and I ended up falling back into the Christmas tree.  Neither I nor the Christmas tree were hurt.  The chair ended up on the sidewalk though at the request of my husband.  My mom never read the card until I had to practically shove it back into her hands and make her read it out loud.

Not the smoothest way to announce our news!

My mother-in-law did get to go back to her bowling league once again after the holidays (for the fifth time) in six years and announce she was going to be a grandma again.