Saturday, March 31, 2012

We didn't win

It was the world's largest lotto drawing ever. $640 million dollars. Over half a BILLION dollars. And we didn't win. Sigh. I had a dollar and a dream.

And now it appears, that T will not be playing with this anytime soon.

Or this.

I know, I know. But as the lotto guy says, "Hey, ya never know."
Or well, now we do.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012


So, I need a dress for my brother's wedding in a few months.  I was going to slum it in something old and crappy from my closet that I got on eBay 5 years ago but since I have to walk Audrey down the aisle (and therefore have 100 pictures taken of me from every angle) I figure I need to make some effort here.  This is a low-key and more informal wedding - no real wedding party, no bridesmaid dresses, etc. - so I'm not getting any direction from the bride and groom.  Normally this would be a fun excuse for shopping - and it is - but the more I'm looking the more I'm finding that 99% of the dresses out there are a) ugly b) over-priced and c) barely mid-thigh.  Am I wrong?  I just feel like I need something at least close to knee-length for a wedding.  I've already tried the cheap TJ Maxx route and found nothing in between I'm-50-and-going-to-church and I'm-17-and-wear-shirts-for-dresses.  Now I've moved on to Nordstrom and Bloomingdales but am finding the likes of this:

How much of a hot mess is that?  Was she attacked by a bear while pitching her teepee?  I mean, really.  My mom* wants to wear this Kate Spade dress, but it's sold out so she is not happy:

Kate Spade dress

*And yes, my mom oftens looks way more stylish than I do at these events but I'm over it. 

What I really need is a couple of hours (yes HOURS hub, in case you're reading this) of time at the mall to search.  Not 10 minutes while you buy Audrey a pretzel and text me every 2 minutes asking "are you done yet?  she's freaking out."  **Newsflash: not helpful.**  These days I go to the mall so infrequently (read: never) that I actually have to Google directions in order to get there.  Lame.  And yes, I am the last person on earth that doesn't have GPS on either my phone or in my car.  I'm one of those old-timers that likes to stand my ground on these fancy-schmancy technological advances.  And I like getting lost in the ghetto and driving around in circles for hours.  Actually, I can't afford that nice of a phone or a Garmin.  And let's be honest, the hubs likes the fact that I can't find the mall.

So, the dress search continues - stay tuned!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Workout update

You may recall that I decided to try and get back into shape by joining the YMCA last September. This was initially a fail because Audrey kept getting kicked out of their childwatch center for "excessive crying." Thankfully after taking her there 5 days a week for several months she finally gave up the hysterics and now spends her time trying to smuggle out their assortment of Little Tikes Handle Haulers, which, thankfully don't fit into the diaper bag (apparently you don't get kicked out for this).

Once we reached this milestone I decided to start taking actual exercise classes, with motivating names such as "Adrenaline!" "Boot Camp" and "Whipped." Each class consists of an hour of lunges, burpees, crunches, butt squeezes, planks and other torturous activities of which my body is in desperate need. After my first class I pretty much stayed in bed for 2 days. I also walked hunched over like a geriatric patient and yelled one-word obscenities when I had to bend over or otherwise flex a muscle. The hubs still reminds me of this.

These classes are taught by ex-professional cheerleaders who have 3% body fat and don't eat sugar, gluten, or dairy. They are perfectly spray-tanned and don't sweat. They also claim to have birthed children but I see no physical evidence of this. They learn your name so that they can yell things like, "Why are you stopping?! WE ARE NOT STOPPING!" when you fall to the floor in exhaustion every few minutes and you are reminded of why they work out in Lululemon shorts that might fit your 20-month old while you are in 10-year old sorority t-shirts that say "Get Lucky!" on the back. (Did I mention I am classy?) And yet, I secretly have a girl-crush on them and so return for this torture 3 times a week. So, what progress have I made all these months later??

Hmm, let's see:
- I've gained 2-5 lbs depending on the day
- My thighs are thisclose to splitting the seams on my jeans
- Someone asked me if I was pregnant 2 weeks ago

*Sigh* And so I'm losing my motivation here. I am stronger, for sure, and every once in a while if the lighting is right I can glimpse an actual long-lost stomach muscle. But still. This is depressing. This is why I want to eat Oreo balls (did you make them yet??). I'm afraid I'll be back to shopping for tankinis this summer after all. Please tell me I am not alone.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Puppy dog

T loves this book.

Seriously, loves it. He "reads"it every day, is completely fascinated by the wagging dog tails, and loves the *thump* it makes when he tosses it off the coffee table.

So we read through it. Alot. Every sentence, as you can imagine, has the word dog in it. We call our dog, "Jameson the dog" or "Jameson dog." Our daycare lady has two dogs. We say hello to our neighbor-friend's dog on our daily walk. I am convinced that "dog" is going to be T's next big word, considering he hears it about every 2 minutes.

So, we're reading through the pages of "big dog, small dog, teeny dog..." and what happens? T points to the pages and says....."Puppy!"

Not dog. Puppy.

No idea where he learned that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On Stress-Free Parenting

I get a ton of RSS feeds at work that relate to my job. A lot of it is business-focused. A lot is psychological-or social-science focused. Most of it has to do with ways that we can improve ourselves and thereby improve our productivity in the workplace. Yup, I know. Not exciting fodder for a mommy blog.

But every now and then, one that relates to parenting pops up in my feed. This actually makes sense, because technically if we’re trying to improve ourselves, it’s likely that we might be trying to be a better person more than just between the hours of 8am and 5pm Monday thru Friday. This one on Zen Habits showed up – and I nodded in agreement (or in mock future agreement) enough that I thought I’d pass it on. Enjoy*!

*Warning: It's long!

The Way of a Peaceful Parent by Leo Babauta

"...And she loved a boy very, very much - even more than she loved herself." - Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree

There is no such thing as stress-free parenting.

A reader requested that I share my thoughts on stress-free parenting, as the father of six kids. And while I have learned a lot about being a dad, and finding joy in parenthood, I also know that stress-free parenting is a myth.

Parents will always have stress: we not only have to deal with tantrums and scraped knees and refusing to eat anything you cook, but we worry about potential accidents, whether we are ruining our kids, whether or children will find happiness as adults and be able to provide for themselves and find love.

That said, I've learned that we can find peace.

Peace isn't a place with no stress, but a place where you take the stress as it comes, in stride, and don't let it rule you. You let it flow through you, and then smile, and breathe, and give your child a hug.

There is a Way of the Peaceful Parent, but it isn't one that I've learned completely. I'll share what I've learned so far, with the caveat that I don't always follow the Way, that I still make mistakes daily, that I still have a lot to learn, that I don't claim to have all the answers as a parent.

The Way

The Way is only learned by walking it. Here are the steps I recommend:

  • Greet your child each morning with a smile, a hug, a loving Good Morning! This is how we would all like to be greeted each day.
  • Teach your child to make her own breakfast. This starts for most children at around the age of 3 or 4. Teach them progressively to brush their teeth, bathe themselves, clean up their rooms, put away clothes, wash their dishes, make lunch, wash their own clothes, sweep and clean, etc.
  • Teaching these skills takes patience. Kids suck at them at first, so you have to show them about a hundred times, but let them try it, correct them, and let them make mistakes. They will gradually learn independence as you will gradually have less work to do caring for them.
  • Older children can help younger children — it’s good for them to learn responsibility, it helps the younger children learn from the older ones, and it takes some of the stress off you.
  • Read to them often. It’s a wonderful way to bond, to educate, to explore imaginary worlds.
  • Build forts with them. Play hide and seek. Shoot each other with Nerf dart guns. Have tea together. Squeeze lemons and make lemonade. Play, often, as play is the essence of childhood. Don’t try to force them to stop playing.
  • When your child asks for your attention, grant it.
  • Parents need alone time, though. Set certain traditions so that you’ll have time to work on your own, or have mommy and daddy time in the evening, when your child can do things on her own.
  • When your child is upset, put yourself in his shoes. Don’t just judge the behavior (yes, crying and screaming isn’t ideal), but the needs behind the behavior. Does he need a hug, or attention, or maybe he’s just tired?
  • Model the behavior you want your child to learn. Don’t yell at the child because he was screaming. Don’t get angry at a child for losing his temper. Don’t get mad at a kid who wants to play video games all the time if you’re always on your laptop. Be calm, smile, be kind, go outdoors and be active.
  • When a stressful time arises (and it will), learn to deal with it with a smile. Make a joke, turn it into a game, laugh … you’ll teach your child not to take things so seriously, and that life is to be enjoyed. Breathe, walk away if you’ve lost your temper, and come back when you can smile.
  • Remember that your child is a gift. She won’t be a child for long, and so your time with her is fleeting. Every moment you can spend with her is a miracle, and you should savor it. Enjoy it to the fullest, and be grateful for that moment.
  • Let your child share your interests. Bake cookies together. Sew together. Exercise together. Read together. Work on a website together. Write a blog together.
  • Know that when you screw up as a parent, everything will be fine. Forgive yourself. Apologize. Learn from that screw up. In other words, model the behavior you’d like your child to learn whenever he screws up.
  • Patiently teach your child the boundaries of behavior. There should be boundaries — what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s not OK to do things that might harm yourself or others. We should treat each other with kindness and respect. Those aren’t things the child learns immediately, so have patience, but set the boundaries. Within those boundaries, allow lots of freedom.
  • Give your child some space. Parents too often overschedule their child’s life, with classes and sports and play dates and music and clubs and the like, but it’s a constant source of stress for both child and parent to keep this schedule going. Let the child go outside and play. Free time is necessary. You don’t always have to be by her side either — she needs alone time just as much as you do.
  • Exercise to cope with stress. A run in solitude is a lovely thing. Get a massage now and then.
  • It helps tremendously to be a parenting team — one parent can take over when the other gets stressed. When one parent starts to lose his temper, the other should be a calming force.
  • Mom and dad need a date night every week or so. Get a babysitter, or better yet, teach the older kids to babysit.
  • Sing and dance together.
  • Take every opportunity to teach kindness and love. It’s the best lesson.
  • Kiss your child goodnight. And give thanks for another amazing day with your beautiful, unique, crazy child.
"You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? Those who've never had any." - Bill Cosby

Friday, March 16, 2012

Am I actually writing a food post?

I wish I could cook better. I really think that if I had the time (and my husband ate anything remotely similar to what I did) I would like to cook and be halfway decent at it. But, alas - neither of those scenarios resemble my life at the moment, so the most cooking I generally do is combining the peanut butter with the jelly.

A friend of mine recently raved about these spinach muffins and I was immediately inspired. This was going to be my foray into the world of cooking and baking. (Momma does enjoy baking some "homemade" brownie-mix brownies with the best of 'em after all!) Not only was I going to bake - but it was from a toddler-oriented recipe website, so vegetables had been snuck into the mix. A win-win for all!

Then, I read the directions a little more carefully and it required (a) a food processor, which I don't currently own and (b) 12 minutes of bake time, after they're assembled. I was a little intimidated. So I was in a conundrum. I really really wanted to try these muffins - but didn't seem to have the equipment or the time to make them. (Hubs traveling for work equates to very little "free" time) Luckily, my mom swooped in, saved the day and made them. And my friend was right, they are delish!

Image care of

Since round 1 of kid-friendly recipes was a success, my mom went on a cooking spree. This worked out great for me because I got to serve T all sorts of healthy, homemade meals and not make any of them. Next, she discovered these broccoli pancakes on the same website. Talk about a hit! She now cooks them majorly in bulk and I freeze them. (Unfreezing counts as cooking too, right?) T loves them. I'm addicted. I may have eaten a zillion toddler-sized broccoli pancakes for dinner tonight. They're that good.

Image care of

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Janie & Jack Friends and Family!

FYI, the Janie & Jack Friends and Family sale starts tomorrow!  25% off everything in stores and online.  I'll be browsing the sale section myself, but still some good deals to be had :)  Use online promo code JJFRIEND.  The sale runs until March 18th!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I need a warm-weather "uniform"

This is sad, but true.  Apparently spring has sprung in Texas and the 70-degree weather is here to stay.  This has caused me to re-think my current "uniform" of various falling-apart jeans, Puma sneakers, J.Crew outlet cotton tees and my Northface fleece.  I know, I know, I became a mom and "gave up."  But see, I'm not working right now and my days involve a lot of yogurt, fruit juice, playground dirt and snot so I'm reluctant to get that crap all over the few decent clothes I do have.  However, Audrey and I are now in 2 playgroups, have become friendly with the neighbors, and are getting out more so it's time to put some effort in.  You know it's bad when someone at the gym compliments you on a workout shirt you've had for almost FIVE YEARS.  (Everyone doesn't still work out in their college clothes??!  Why didn't I get this memo??)   

Here are a few items I'm eyeing.  I'll have to play around on Polyvore later to put some actual outfits together.  And wait for some major sales of course. 

Ann Taylor Loft Top -

But $54 for what is basically a t-shirt?  Really Ann Taylor Loft??

Joe's jean capris -

Anthropologie shoes (I realize these might not work with this particular outfit but I love them so they must become mine, one way or another.  Ebay, I'm talking to you.) -

That's about as far as I've gotten.  And no, there's no way in hell I'll be wearing those shoes on the playground.  They are more of a "fun" thing, to remind me that I can still go out and have fun, even if that fun often involves making "light" margaritas in my kitchen blender with my neighbor while we complain about having no cute clothes. 

Does anyone else fall into this "uniform" rut with me?  Does it get exponentially worse with each kid?  Will I be wearing trucker hats and my husband's sweat pants by #3?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's List Time! 12 Month-old Toys

I'm genetically pre-disposed to love lists. I truly heart them. Reminder lists, shopping lists, to-do lists - just to name a few. Give me a good reason to open an excel document and start filling in the columns (for anything other than math) and I'm on it.

It's been a few months since I posted my list on newborn must-haves. So, as the newest "expert" on early toddlers, I thought it might be fun (for me, at least) to compile a list of favorite toys of the week for 1-year olds, based on one sole subject, my son.* (And yes, it is Saturday night and my fun is putting together a list.)

So, here goes.

1. Rollipop Marble Run - My kid is obsessed with this toy. Not just dropping the oversized marbles onto the track and watching them as they travel down the shoot - but also taking the track apart and handing it to me, piece by piece, again and again. Oh, and dropping it into the bathtub. However he plays with it, it's a sure success in my house.

2. Singing Soccer Ball - Once he discovered it sang when he kicked it, T was sold on this one.

3. Kid-sized chair - Can a personalized piece of furniture be considered a toy? Yes, yes it can. T loves being a "big boy" and sitting in it with a book. He also likes to get in trouble trying to stand on it and fall off backward. We're working on the latter.

4. Bag of Balls - Mainly, he likes getting the balls in and out of the mesh bag - and then throwing himself on top of the balls as they roll around beneath him.**

5. Big Green Ball - Otherwise known as the "babaaall" in our house. Some random $2 oversized ball from Target (that isn't even worth them putting online) actually gets T excited enough on a daily basis to ask for it by name (well, sort-of). Sometimes it's the most random things that truly turn out to be the very best toys.

6. Blow-up Fort - The age on this toy says 3+, probably because they expect kids to actually "play fort" all civilized and stuff in it. Nope, my kid likes to try to bounce off the walls of this toy as hard as he can and tip and flip it over while he's inside it. I'm not saying it's the greatest idea to actually let him use it like his own personal wrestling ring, but can you say pre-naptime energy burn?

And my one-year old's most favorite non-toy toys? These things generally keep him even more entertained than toys.

1. Fly Swatters - One for each hand. He's like a little Obi-Wan Kenobi.

2. Pitchers - Every time he's in the kitchen, he asks for the 2 pitchers we had on top of our fridge. He stacks them and unstacks them. Puts things inside them. Easily 30-minutes of play time, from 2 household items.

3. The Dog Bed - Gross. I know. But the dog's like his big brother in a way, right? So I try to ignore the fact that T runs, dives, and rolls in dog hair on a daily basis. At least he bathes, right?

4. Daddy's PJs - I ask you...what's more fun than carrying daddy's pants around the house?

So did I forget anything? I'll need fun ideas for next week, when T is bored with all of these toys!

*Disclaimer: Your kid may hate these ideas.

** Future sports star? Perhaps not...

Monday, March 5, 2012


In honor of Vickie's rough weekend...and my brain failing to come up with a funny and creative blog are a few pick-me-ups for the week -

First, head over to Kate Spade and shop the sample sale for the next 48 hours (and no, the hubs don't need to know about this):

Next, forget trying to give up all refined and artificial sugar like masochistic me (I failed on day 3, BTW) and make these -

It is after all the 100th anniversary of Oreo and I had kind of forgotten how good they really are.  Even if my 10th grade biology teacher told us the "white stuff" has rat hair and other disgusting things in it.  Yes, she told us that.  Right after she made me stand in front of the class and discuss the reproductive cycle as punishment for talking to my neighbor.  Did I mention that this was 10th grade???  So you can imagine how much fun that was.  And how quickly I lived it down.  Yeah.  Anyway, here's the recipe -

- 1 package of Oreos
- 1 block of cream cheese, softened
- 2 boxes of Baker's baking chocolate (or 2 bags of chocolate chips)


Put Oreos into a food processor or a large ziploc bag and process/crush into crumbs.  Mix crushed Oreos with cream cheese.  Roll into balls.  Melt chocolate according to package directions.  Dip balls into melted chocolate and put onto wax paper to harden.  Chill in the refridgerator overnight.  Now try not to eat 10 a day.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Re-do

My vision for the weekend = While the Hubs is away with his stepdad for a manly fishing weekend, I planned to have a fun-filled mommy-son weekend that entailed the following:
  1. Amazing and snoring-free night's sleep(s) in the center of the bed (after curling up with the Kindle for a good read).
  2. The Little Gym acrobatics where T and I run ourselves silly before fabulous simultaneous and lengthy morning naps.
  3. Hearing lots and lots of little man giggles.
  4. Lots of quality Grandma & Grandpa time, including time at the mall where I could find the perfect sundress to kick off the "spring" season (because March = spring) and get T some new spring shoes.

My reality for the weekend =
  1. Fast-moving virus and ear infection starts to show post-daycare, pre-bedtime. Enter green snot and sneezing with Friday's dinner.
  2. Forgot to charge the Kindle. Snoring-free night's sleep interrupted with T crying and coughing in his sleep all night long due to arrival of T's new ickiness.
  3. The Little Gym acrobatics replaced by pediatrician visit. Ear infection confirmed. Dual nap replaced by pharmacy visit for antibiotics.
  4. Where did my giggley toddler go? He was replaced with a persnippity, not-feeling-so-hot kiddo who refused to nap. Stinks.
  5. Lots of Grandma & Grandpa time = accomplished. Lucky for him, they still find him cute, even when he's cranky and nap-less. My spring shopping = not accomplished. (Though T managed to get a couple pairs of shoes (including these, in grey, love.) out of the deal. Toddler impatience and mommy's indecisive gene = decision to just buy it and move on before public green-snot meltdown).

The good news? Momma has been in her PJs since 8pm today and took a Melatonin with some ice cream for her evening of US Weekly & Psych and the couch. It's an hour past T's first sleep-cry of last night and the monitor is still silent (ahhh, don't jinx it, don't jinx it!)....Maybe the antibiotics are already kicking in and we'll have a great Sunday on the heels of a good night sleep afterall? Keep your fingers crossed, people. This lady is t-i-r-e-d.