Sunday, December 14, 2008

Avoidance: It's the Only Way

Here it is, plain and simple: when we go back to visit our families of origins during the holidays the drinks flow a little too freely. My mother-in-law loves champagne, as do I. My parents always stock up on Mike's Hard Lemonade over Christmas. As soon as five o'clock rolls around (technically, it's actually when the kids go to bed) the libations begin flowing. And sometimes they keep flowing late into the evening. And sometimes early into the morning. Which only leads to sorrow the next day when someone is calling for 'Mommy' at 7:05am. So this year, to control at least some of the chaos, I am going to try to avoid the booze. Maybe not every day, or maybe not 100%. Let's just be honest here, some occasions necessitate a drink. 

Just maybe not three. 


This post was brought to you by the Parent Bloggers Network and BigTent. Click on over to find out how to play and maybe win a $250 Target gift card. If only they sold six packs!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

eebee's adventures!

Waaaaaaaaaaay back when Sam was a baby and we were new to the world of videos on demand, I went through the entire 'kids' menu trying to find some good quality programming. Amidst all the PBS and Nick offerings I stumbled upon eebee's adventures. It was a big hit with my wee boy, and for a few months we would watch some of the short videos every few days.

Cut to almost three years later. Sam is now very opinionated, and when we flip on the TV he is usually the one choosing the show. Lucy doesn't seem to mind too much, but I've been trying to come up with something they can both watch and enjoy. Plus it needs to be something I don't find to be completely mindless drivel as well. Needless to say we end up watching the 'Your Baby Can Read' DVDs quite often. 

Luckily the Parent Bloggers Network came to the rescue, sending us an eebee's adventures DVD and a soft eebee book for our viewing/playing pleasure. The video contains three segments: laundry list, just you and me and little objects, big ideas. The book is all about laundry time and ties in nicely with the video.

The main focus of eebee's world seems to be learning from the objects around you. Eebee and the other children featured in the video use fabrics, mirrors, cereal and pots and pans in their learning adventures. There are simple, catchy songs that got both of my kids dancing and singing along. Plus the title song is easily adaptable to accommodate any child with a two syllable name. I don't get it entirely, but they both lose their minds when I substitute 'Sammy' or 'Lucy' for 'eebee' in the song. 

The book is also a fun little learning experience for young minds. The laundry book has activities such as putting towels in the washing machine and hanging clothes on the line to dry. It's bright and colorful and full of different textures. Lucy especially loved the crinkly parts. Being almost three, Sam was a little too old for this book, but he actually had some fun showing Lucy all of the ways to play with it.

As a bonus, it doesn't feel like they are trying to sell my kids something every other minute. I mean, even Sesame Street had commercials these days. Yes, they have toys and other merchandise, but they don't beat you about the head with it. 

As a parent, I have very much enjoyed eebee's adventures. It's simple approach to learning and exploring with everyday objects has made me more creative with my own everyday objects. 

Care to win a copy of eebee's adventures 'All in a Day's Play' and the 'Laundry Time' soft book? Leave a comment here by friday 12/5 at midnight to enter!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Truly Amazing

From the moment my first child was born I was astonished. His tiny body, so recently surrounded by my own, made so many miraculous changes practically in the blink of an eye. The transition to breathing rather than getting oxygenated blood via the cord. The closing of heart valves and the opening of new ones. Without these, his life, and human life, would be impossible. 

In Amazing Baby, Desmond Morris covers everything from these first moments until your sweet little newborn is somehow a two year old. From organ systems to personality development, this book covers basic biology in a way that would make any person, parent or not, interested in these lovely little beings. 

Accompanying Morris' text are hundreds of stunning photographs. These are what transform this from simply a parenting reference to a work of art. Take it from someone who considers photographing her children a highlight of her day: these photos are a big part of what makes Amazing Baby amazing. Also, you don't have to take just my word for it. Both of my kids attempted, on several occasions, to kiss the photos of the adorable babies. Luckily I had dry washcloths near by so that the book wasn't ruined. Several of the photos are also accompanied with overlays which show complex internal structures, such as the newborn skull, eye anatomy or brain lobes. 

With all of the information on development and anatomy, Morris never misses an opportunity to drive home his main point that parents have the most profound effect on their child's development. As he states at the end of the book, 

"Looking into the tiny face of a newborn baby as she nestles in her mother's arms, it is important to remember that they way the little infant is treated during the first two years of her life will have a profound effect upon the course she takes later as an adult. It should be easy enough for a child who has enjoyed a loving, richly stimulating, fun-packed infancy to grow up into a happy, well-adjusted adult. For an neglected or deprived infant, however, it may prove much harder."


Thanks to the The Parent Bloggers Network for introducing me to Amazing Baby. I'm definitely going to be holding onto this one. You know, just in case! 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Autism's False Prophets

Just before Lucy was born I reviewed Paul A. Offit, M.D.'s book Vaccinated. I know it's odd to say that I enjoyed reading a book on vaccine history, but as a (former) scientist and a parent, it appealed to me. It was well written and well researched. When The Parent Bloggers Network reached out to me to review his new book, Autism's False Prophets, I couldn't say no. The first book only covered the history of vaccines, and as any person, parent or not, knows, vaccines have been very much at the center of many major stories in the past decade. 

Offit knows his work has consequences. He starts the prologue by quoting some of the more colorful hate mail he has received. Having my own children, I cannot fathom how difficult it must be to parent one with special needs. I can imagine that these parents, in moments of desperation, are just looking for someone to blame. Many choose Offit as their target, and while this could lead to risks to himself and his family, he presses on. Why? Because he believes he is doing the right thing. The just thing. 

I admit, I have to agree. 

Offit spends the beginning of the book discussing Andrew Wakefield's proposition that vaccinations, specifically the MMR vaccination, causes autism. The way in which the information was presented lead to a media storm of enormous proportions that had millions believing unproven, unsound data. After Wakefield's bombshell, Offit goes on to detail many of the supposed treatments for autism. These treatments had parents of autistic children digging deep into their pockets, giving them hope of a cure. None of the children were 'cured' and some of them were even harmed in the process. 

Offit also delves into the scientific and judicial process for the reader to dissect exactly how these process work in relation to these cases against vaccinations. (I know it sounds boring, but seriously it's not!) He also discusses the relationships between science and the media, science and society and how those can affect the way information is disseminated. 

Paul A. Offit M.D. is, no doubt, a man with an agenda. He wants to protect children from unnecessary, harmful procedures. He wants to protect parents from spending countless dollars on what amounts to snake oil. And he wants to protect the doctors and scientists who are hard at work on autism causes and treatments. 

Which is why I hope we continue to hear from Paul A. Offit, M.D. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Finally! An Acceptable Form of Bathroom Reading. Once Upon a Potty.

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted a picture of Sam in big boy underpants? Yeah, well, that was kind of a short lived adventure that ended in me cleaning poop off of the floor in three separate locations! Fun times. So when the Parent Bloggers Network sent me a copy of Once Upon a Potty (actually two copies! The girl version and the boy version!) I was ecstatic! 

Truth be told, we already owned a copy of the boy version, with Joshua and his mother, and it had been a big, big hit. But when our new copies arrived I couldn't have been happier. First of all, they have sturdy, board book-like pages which are nearly impervious to ripping little hands. Plus they came with an audio cd of original music, introductions by the author Alona Frankel, and a reading of the story. 

The songs, 'The Joshua & Prudence Theme' and 'The Potty Song' are kick-y little jazz numbers that come both with lyrics and as instrumental pieces. This is a nice feature if you have a little song bird in your house. It's like toddler potty karaoke! The only drawback to the cd is probably unique to us. As soon as Sam sees a disc, he assumes it's a video, so he was initially a little disappointed that there was only music. Once he heard the song, though, he was grooving his little bum to the sax. 

The reading of the book is quite lovely as well. There is music and plenty of cute sound effects. Sam especially likes the sound of the Joshua's present being unwrapped and of the toilet flushing. Why am I not surprised? 

Wanna know the best part, though? Last week Sam peed and pooped on the potty! I was so excited! And so was he! As soon as he was done, he turned around and looked into the potty to see his accomplishments. When he saw what was in there, he exclaimed, 


Which is a toddler variation of what Joshua says when he finally pees and poops on the potty. I made sure to tell him that I was very happy and proud, just like Joshua's mother. He couldn't have been happier.

And that is the moment I will choose to remember in the future when I recall the trials of potty training. Not that one where I was cleaning human poop off of the floor in my living room, foyer and bathroom. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

The First Time I Ever Found Myself Rooting for Another Man's Sperm

One of the first blogs I ever read was A Little Pregnant. I was newly pregnant myself (hence the obsession with blogs that had the word 'pregnant' in the title) and had plenty of free time (since I had no kids yet) and so I spent the better part of a work week reading Julie's archives. It became an obsession, but in a good way. As I would later find out, having a little insight into an infertile couples' struggles helps when dealing with the situation in real life. I have been very fortunate to only have know a few people who have dealt with/are dealing with infertility and I feel I was, perhaps, slightly more aware of my words and actions because of reading this blog.

Enter Maybe Baby, a book by Matthew M.F. Miller, who also pens a blog of the same name. This story of infertility is somehow entertaining and gut wrenching all at the same time. It's also unique because it is written by a man, baby. In this whole slew of parenting blogs there is a good corner devoted to daddy bloggers, but this was the first infertility blog/memoir I had heard of that was written by the less fair sex. 

Miller delves into his past as an overweight adolescent and the road to becoming healthy in a way that makes you really invested in his story. Once he's met Constance, his wife, you can't help but root for the guy. When they decide to buy some Pottery Barn crib bedding before they even begin trying for a baby, though, you know you're going to be reaching for the tissues by the end. 

And if this story doesn't quite convert you to Matthew M.F. Miller fan-dom, check this out: He's going to run 22.6 miles (the distance between their first apartment and the fertility clinic) and get sponsors in order to help fund another couples' fertility treatments. He's calling it the 1st Maybe Baby IVF Scholarship. Constance is a lucky woman.

I've become a total fan of Miller and his story, and am now an avid follower of his blog. I won't spoil it for you, but I have a feeling there's a happy ending in store for them down the line!

Thanks to the Parent Bloggers Network for bringing this book and blog my way.  As if I didn't have enough blogs to read, now I'm hooked on one more! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How the Good Lord Helped Me Learn About Finances

When I had my first communion I received over two hundred dollars in gifts. To a seven year old it was like hitting the lottery. My parents took me to the bank and helped me open my first savings account. They also let me keep ten bucks out to buy myself a toy, which made handing over the rest of the money a little easier. They explained how the savings account worked, and even though the interest I was making amounted to less than a dollar a year I was enthralled. 

As I got older I worked as a baby sitter, a bingo waitress and at McDonald's. Every time I got a paycheck I went to the bank and made a deposit into this same savings account. 

I started thinking about that day a few months ago when Sam became aware of money. Coins, to be exact. While I'm not sure he understands their specific value, he seems to grasp that you can exchange it for goods and services. When he uses the potty he often requests a quarter for his potty prize in lieu of a stickers or candy. As soon as he gets the money in hand he darts upstairs to put it in his bank. Unfortunately he doesn't quite understand about paper money. This became immediately apparent when we took him to trade in his full bank of coins for paper money. He pitched a fit of epic proportions in the bank lobby. As he gets older we plan to let him start buying a toy or treat for himself with money he saves in his bank.

We often play grocery store and use pennies to pay for our baskets of pretend apples. I've bought him a play cash register for Lucy's birthday (although I never did give it to him because so many other people brought him gifts!) and once we break it out I'm hoping he'll get a little better understanding of things. 

Once they both get a little older we'll start assigning some simple chores that they can do in order to receive an allowance. Then the savings accounts will be opened, and allowances and birthday moneys will be deposited with great gusto. 

I think my parents did a pretty good job teaching me about money and savings. I can only hope I can do the same for my kids.


One way I can help to save money now is by winning and iphone instead of buying one! Capital One and The Parent Bloggers Network are giving away THREE iphones this weekend! Just write a post about how and when you taught/plan to teach your kids about money and then email the post to the folks over at PBN

Monday, September 1, 2008

Moe' Yoyo Mommy?

A few weeks ago we got a coupon in the mail for some Yoplait Kids products thanks to the Parent Bloggers Network. I've seen them before in the supermarket, but honestly I usually spring for that other 'Yo' brand yogurt for kids and babies. The main reason for that is that I can't stand when a product has licensed characters plastered all over the packaging, and these Yoplait products seem to be Nickeloden's whore. Dora, the Backyardigans and Blue's Clues adorn every container. However, the claim that they have 25% less sugar than the leading kids yogurt and are supplemented with DHA always caught my attention, so I was glad to give them a try for free! 

I picked up the drinkable yogurt in mixed berry flavor and the yogurt cups in vanilla/banana. The drinkable yogurt was a huge hit. I tasted it, too, and I found it to be pretty yummy. As an added bonus Sam was able to drink it through a twisty straw. It's actually a double bonus because not only does he love it but it's good for his speech therapy! 

The yogurt cups went over well, too. We usually mix yogurt with some fruit and cereal. The banana and vanilla flavors lend themselves to this very nicely. The texture was smooth and Sam gobbled them up.

One thing I really liked is that when you visit the Yoplait Kids site you can get all of the nutritional information for each different style and flavor of yogurt. 

Because Sam isn't a huge milk drinker (unless it's chocolate milk, of course) it's very important that he gets calcium from other sources. He likes cheese, but he loves yogurt. Since these yogurts contain less sugar, they are a plus. However sugar is still the second ingredient in most all of the flavors.  I would love it if they made a plain yogurt as well since we usually just mix our own flavors with fruit purees, but these are a nice, quick snack. Plus they are a little cheaper than that other 'Yo' yogurt brand I usually buy.

And I know they are a big hit because I constantly receive the request for 'Moe' yoyo Mommy!' after every helping! 

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reality Bites

The one and only piece of advice I give first time parents is that they should try and eat out as much as possible when their new baby is born. With the baby. Why? Because until that baby is, say, 4 or 5 months old eating out with him or her is a snap. They are too young to require any food of their own, even when crying they are relatively quite, they are uber-portable, and if you are lucky, they'll fall asleep in the car seat on the way there and remain so for the duration of your meal.

But once you hit a certain age, all bets are off. We learned this the hard way with Sam when he was about 7 months old.

In Atlanta, at least for a while, we didn't have a babysitter. We tried to eat out early so that we could take Sam. Plus the restaurants usually don't get busy until 7-ish, so if you show up at 5:30 there are fewer people for your kid to potentially annoy. 

One night we were feeling bold and decided to try a new, upscale causal place. SOB had heard from a friend at work that it was family friendly, so we packed Sam up and headed out for our early bird special. With traffic and parking difficulties we didn't get into the restaurant until almost 6:30. We were nervous, but they staff was kind and seated us way in the back. Unfortunately the place filled up right quick and soon Sam was terrorizing the hell out of us and everyone nearby. He was throwing puffs, toys, spoons, anything he could get his hands on. 

Needless to say, we took our desserts to go.


This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm So Savvy!

Thanks to the Parent Bloggers Network, The Savvy Source for Parents and Leap Frog, a few weeks ago Sam got a fantastic new present in the mail. It was a Leap Frog Tag reader, and from the first moment he simply adored it. The way this fun little gadget works is really cool. It looks like a thick pen, which is easy for little hands to hold. Once you install the software on your computer you can download books onto it just like an ipod. But it doesn't just read the book. When you touch the tip of the book to the pages it can read them or you can use it to play games! Our package came with three books, including Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, one of Sam's absolute favorites. He loves it so much that he's barely even looked at the other two. As an added bonus to moms and dads, it has a headphone jack so it would be a great take along item for a plane or car trip.

The Leap Frog is working in conjunction with The Savvy Source for Parents on this outreach. The Savvy Source widget you see over there in the sidebar is filled with questions about your preschooler. Once you complete the quizzes (there are 8: visual arts, language development, early science, music, early math, social skills, movement and coordination, and orientation in time and space) you are given a list of games, toys and activities that would be useful for your child's development. The quizzes don't take too long, but you can save you results and finish later if you get overwhelmed. The list items range from activities suggested by other parents (which are usually FREE) or things you can buy.

We tried several activities, but Sam's #1 favorite involved sorting and counting M&Ms. I had him separate them by color and once he counted each pile he was allowed to eat them. I'm sure you can figure out why he liked this one! Also, since we already had a few of the books recommended in the visual arts guide, we focused on them at bedtime.

Finally, the part of the Savvy Source site that I really think has the most potential is the pre-school assessment quiz. When choosing Sam's current school we had to really just go with our gut after touring and meeting with staff members from different places. On the Savvy Source page parents can answer questions about their child's school for something of a data base. Once enough data gets collected this will be an awesome online resource for parents when choosing schools.

By the way, if you are interested in running the Savvy Source widget on your blog, drop me a line at You could make a little bank from your blog!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

FYI, My Baby Is A Girl

Lucy is only nine months (!) old and her hair was a bit late to come in, so I shouldn't be surprised that so many people think she's a boy. (Aside: By the time Sam was nine months old he has so much hair people were confusing him for a girl.) I'm all for dressing her in feminine hues, but if she's in the stroller or just having a neutral outfit day, I get a lot of comments of the Oh-your-little-boy-is-so-cute variety. Luckily, we were rescued from a few more (wretched) months of gender confusion by Maiden America and the Parent Blogger's Network!

Maiden America, founded by Tristan Benz, hand crafts non-slip barrettes for kids and adults alike. They also make handbags, headbands and frames are soon to follow. Their non-slip technology is patent-pending even! Now I honestly say that as this campaign came my way, Lucy had just barely enough hair for barrettes, but since they said that these stay put in even the finest of hair, I couldn't resist.

I was not disappointed.

Within minutes of opening the package we had this lovely little green number in her hair. It stayed there for almost 5 hours until daddy got home so that we could show him how effing cute it was! It had to come out for bath time, though.

I literally put these barrettes in first thing in the morning when I'm getting her dressed, and they stay put all day long.

This ladybug one is a personal favorite of mine. I even put it in her hair for the monthly studio pics.

Here she is so adorable even she can't stand it!

As an added bonus, Maiden America threw in an extra little treat for us in the form of 1) a bonus barrette and 2) a cool little ribbon with rings on the end deal-ie to store them all on. I know that doesn't explain it well, but it's in the room with the sleeping baby. Otherwise I'd take a picture. But it is awesome, to say the least.

It's also nice to support a company who is pro-parent/pro-childhood. The company's name came about when Tristan Benz explained to her daughter that, "Maidens are “everyday princesses” with the freedom to learn, work, earn and do SO much more. How fortunate we are to be maidens! How sorry we feel for the princesses! :-)"

So I guess I should consider myself one of the lucky ones. I never went through the pitfalls of trying to find hair accessories that are pretty and that stay put on my little maiden's head. I'll never have to worry about that, because I'll be shopping at Maiden America.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Great-Grandmother's Dream Come True

There is no denying that we live in a digital age. However, not all of the inhabitants of this earth are technologically inclined. Take, for example, my grandparents, and probably yours as well. My uncle provides them with state of the art phones, cameras and computers but my Grammy has never once sent an email. She still answers her phone by saying, 'Who is this?' instead of learning to program our numbers. Then as soon as I identify myself she demands to know why she hasn't seen recent photos of her only great-grandchildren.


You see, I spend a great deal of time putting photos online for all of my friends and family to see. Most of them love seeing the photos of Sam picking his nose even though we live hundreds of miles away. Every Sunday my mother visits my grandmother and she tells her all about the most recent pics I've emailed to her. An hour later I get an angry call demanding prints.

The other big complaint I get from friends and family is that I send too many pictures. As a precaution I back up all of my photos to an online source (in addition to an external hard drive. What can I say? I'm nuts.) That means that my second cousin Carrie from Ohio usually has to sift through 900 random photos to find the 6 or 7 cute ones.

Sound familiar? Guess what? I've found a solution!

It's called Kinzin. It's a new family photos sharing website that takes your privacy and your non-computer savvy family members seriously.

According to the site, Kinzin allows you to 'Keep tight control over who has access to this valuable personal content,' i.e. your kids images. Now I've never been shy about putting my kids' mugs online, but as they get older it's something I think about more and more. Kinzin makes it easy (both for you and the people you invite to share with) to keep things private. Plus the site is fun. If you already have your photos in a flickr account you can link the two services up to avoid additional uploading. You can caption each photo as you upload it, so it's almost like a virtual scrapbook. And? You can use your photos to actually create an actual scrapbook if that's your thing.

As as added bonus, if you use facebook you can make your kinzin page available to people already in your friend pool as well as us non-facebook users as well. I'm sure there is a better way to express that, but since I don't do the facebook thing I don't know the lingo. Sorry! If you are a facebook user definitely check it out.

But the thing that sells it best for me is the mail service. While membership to the site is free, for just $2.99 per month you can have the ten most recently uploaded photos shipped to three separate addresses. Every month! As in real, true photos in my Grammy's mailbox every month. I haven't received my first set of photos just yet, but I should get them tomorrow. There was, however, a little mix up where I received photos of kids I don't know, and I have to say the print quality looked awesome!

Overall I have really enjoyed my experiences with Kinzin and plan to continue using it. Don't believe me? Check out all of the Kinzin reviews over at the Parent Blogger's Network. I'm not the only one who's been singing their praises!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mama Rock's Rules Proves That Mama Rock Rules!

If my mother somehow ever came face to face with Rose Rock, mother of comedian Chris and author of Mama Rock's Rules, I'm pretty sure they would become fast friends. Why? Because Mrs. Rock's Ten Lessons for Raising a Household of Successful Children are right up my mom's alley. These lessons should be required reading for any parent. I mean, she did raise ten kids of her own and seventeen foster children, so I'm pretty sure she qualifies as a parenting expert.

Now not everything in this book is groundbreaking information. In fact, a lot of this falls into the common sense category, but Mrs. Rock presents it in a humorous and warm fashion that makes it fun to read. Even when she's being serious and stern she's still hilarious, like when she suggests you 'pull out that can of whup-ass' to help change your child's negative behavior. Also adding to the book's overall friendly feel are stories from her children peppered in the margins of each chapter. You can tell her kids approve of her methods because of these contributions.

Mrs. Rock hits on many important topics like sitting down to dinner as a family, self respect, the importance of reading and even sex education and spirituality. Even though some of this information presented is stuff most people (should) know, that doesn't mean there is nothing to be learned here. For example, I loved her idea about scheduling some regular family reading time, just as you would do for any other type of appointment. This is something that would have never occurred to me, but now I plan to put it on the agenda ASAP.

I also appreciated how she handled the chapter on spirituality. We are not a religious family, so when I began reading I could feel my eyes beginning to roll. However I was pleased to find her discussion of faith fairly balanced. She also touched upon something, that as a biologist, I find very important and that is recognizing the beauty in nature as a form of prayer. I may not see god looking up at a crucifix, but in watching a seed sprout I can find a higher power.

Another nice touch, at the end of each chapter Mrs. Rock added a bullet point summary of all the wisdom imparted on the previous pages. I have to think that she did this on purpose, knowing that in moments of parental insanity having these valuable lessons summarized and at our fingertips would be highly useful!

Whether your kids are six months or sixteen, Mama Rock's Rules is for you. These are rules that have and will stand the test of time.

Visit the Parent Blogger's Network for more reviews of Mama Rock's Rules and other great stuff!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

25 Is the New 18? Really?

I can think of at least seven people in my life who would benefit greatly by reading Were You Raised By Wolves?: Clues to the Mysteries of Adulthood by Christie Mellor. My brother, for one, who is embarking on his first ever apartment alone (at age 26) after living with my parents, grandparents, and his ex-fiancee for the last 6 years. A smattering of soon-to-be college graduates who are younger siblings of some of my life long friends. And, let's face it, me. Being the ripe old age of 29 doesn't mean I can't use a few new tricks up my sleeve, and this book is chock-full of 'em!

Besides giving practical advice on everything from making your bed to making a flower arrangement, this book is packed with witty humor and fantastic illustrations. Mellor, author of The Three Martini Playdate (note to self: update my GoodReads to read list) has a wealth of information and talent to go on, and the list of Unbelievable Baking Soda Tips! is worth the price of the book alone. There is also tons of info on behavior in the workplace, how to dress, hosting parties, and 'Not Being an Embarrassment.' There is an extremely useful chapter on the kitchen and cooking which instructs on how to boil and egg and make your own mayo. I particularly enjoyed the section on how to poach a chicken, because honestly, I had no idea.

Also enjoyable was the chapter on starting your own holiday traditions. Since all of our family lives about 300 miles away or more, we were forced to choose between schlepping every mother loving child-related item in our house to Pittsburgh or inviting folks to our place. Now we host Thanksgiving, and I found several good ideas to throw into our celebration for next year!

Also, since January I've been trying to spend less money on silly things (read: starb*cks) and tuck it into a savings account. So far I've been doing quite well, but I wanted to make some projections. Guess what? She references a 'Stop Buying Expensive Coffee and Save' calculator, and I found it very handy indeed!

So overall, I'm going give Were You Raised By Wolves?: Clues to the Mysteries of Adulthood a big old recommendation, both for those newly hired twenty-somethings who are getting paid enough to buy it and us older folks who should buy it for them if they can't! Many thanks to the Parent Bloggers Network for bringing this gem to my attention!

Friday, March 28, 2008


Before becoming a parent, I wish I had known that the things that I fear myself would be magnified by a thousand percent or more for my children. I knew that having kids would open up a whole new world of fears and phobias, but I never realized how many nights they would keep me awake. It's so much more difficult to manage these anxieties when you know that, ultimately you have no control. I may stay out of the ocean because I'm scared of it, but I can't make my kids do the same. The loss of control makes things terrifying to the Nth degree.

Perhaps if I had realized this earlier I would have done some preemptive therapy!

This Blog Blast was brought to you by Discovery Health and The Parent Bloggers Network! Click on over for details on how to participate and check out the prizes!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Get the Scoop on Diaper Goop

Right around the time of Lucy's six month check-up she developed a nasty looking diaper rash. We had the pediatrician take a look, and while he wasn't worried, he did suggest trying a few things to help clear it up. First he said to try an over the counter anti-fungal cream, because she had a fungal rash nearby, even though they didn't look that similar. If that didn't work he suggested an over the counter antibiotic ointment. Well, two weeks later she was still all rashy. Luckily we had agreed to try out (that is, I agreed to experiment on their bums in the name of science) a cool diaper cream called Diaper Goop for the Parent Bloggers Network a few weeks before and the package had just arrived!

I opened the first jar and examined the contents. Diaper Goop is a creamy yellow color and a little sticky because it's lanolin based. Which is, um, awesome if you are also a nursing mom like me! Not only can you use it on your baby's bum, but you can use it on dry nipples! I'm not currently suffering from that particular affliction, but I have had some wickedly chapped lips lately, and guess what helped heal those right up? Diaper Goop! They should call this stuff 'Everywhere Goop' because once I started slathering it on myself I couldn't stop. Crusty, winter hidden knees and elbows look fresh and new! My heels are as soft as butter! Flaky cuticles smooth as silk. Both kids currently have colds, and I've been using it under their noses to prevent chapping. Superb!

But how about the bums? Well, unfortunately Lucy's rash was a particularly tenacious bacterial thing that required a prescription, but since we've finished that up I've been using Diaper Goop on her every night as a precaution. And Sammy loves it. He actually asks to have his bum gooped before bed. Well, not so much 'asks' but when I'm putting on his overnight diaper he lifts his legs, points to his nether regions and says, 'Mommy, cream!'

We received a few extra tubs of Diaper Goop to pass along to friends, but I might be tempted to keep them for myself! Thanks PBN!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Mah Preshus Boi

We all love our children and think they are the most beautiful/intelligent/athletically gifted people in the universe. After all, aren't they a perfect blend of you and your partners' most glorious traits?

Don't you want to just eat him up?

But recently we've been dealing more with where Sam is lacking rather than where he is excelling. It took all this time, but we finally have a speech therapist coming next week to start working with him. For the duration, I was so focused on this one negative. But guess what? Sam has a lot of positives. He can sing along with any tune. He can finger paint with reckless abandon. He can whip up a mean plastic food soup for lunch. But the thing I think he's best at is loving.

Yes, he may have trouble with telling me how much he loves me, but he shows me in a million ways every day. First of all, one of the only words he speaks clearly is 'Mommy' which he calls out all day. Frequently he says 'Mommy' while he makes the sign for 'I love you.' Talk about heart melting!

But it's not just me. He loves everyone. When I pick him up from school it takes us 15 minutes to say goodbye because he. Must. Hug. Everyone. Including Max, who never wants to be hugged. Then he must blow everyone kisses. Then he must say 'Bye bye' to every single person. And they all love it! Except for Max.

I frequently hear him mumbling to himself while playing. When I listen closely (and because I know his secret language) I hear him naming all the people he knows and loves. It goes like this most of the time:

Yanni (Aunt Allison)
Yeow (our cat)
Oose (Baby sister Lucy)

And repeat.

So my little guy, while not the most talkative boy in town, might be one of the most lovable.

And god damned if he isn't cute!


This post was brought to you by the Parent Bloggers Network and Jennifer Fox, the author of Your Child's Strengths. Visit PBN for all the details!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Backyard Bugs

When I was in college I did an internship at the Philadelphia Zoo. The duration of my summer was spent inside a small rotunda with about 75 different kinds of bugs. Like African hissing cockroaches, scorpions and tarantulas. Part of our 'job' was to become very familiar and comfortable with the animals on exhibit because the kids were allowed to hold most of them, and we had to be able to transfer them from the terrariums to their arms.


So I got over my fears of scorpions pretty effing quickly.

After a few days I realized that these creatures, who most people treat with scorn, are really quite exquisite. After that, my love of insects only got more intense. (Except for bees. I HATE bees.) I ended up doing my senior project on crayfish, which are like insects that live underwater. And all of this was because I was pressed to move beyond my comfort zone and really learn to appreciate creatures totally different from myself.

I hope one day that I can do the same thing for my children. When they come home with worms or lizards, snakes or rodents, I'll do everything I can to foster and encourage their interest. Maybe one day they'll write a paper on the combative nature of Orconectes obscurus.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Salt N' Peppa Got It Right

Let's talk about sex, baby
Let's talk about you and me
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let's talk about sex

After reading Sex Detox: Recharge Desire. Revitalize Intimacy. Rejuvenate Your Love Life. by Dr. Ian Kerner, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he had found inspiration in these lyrics. After all, a key component to this plan (besides the 30 days of abstinence) is conversing. Conversing both with yourself and with your partner, honestly, about sex.

In the book, Dr. Kerner sets out to fix Americans' sex lives, which have been busted to pieces thanks to our poor diet and exercise habits, the mainstream media's beauty ideals, and porn, just to name a few of the culprits. He deals with both the coupled and the single folks in separate modules at the end of the book, but the first part is for everyone. What Dr. Kerner suggests is that by keeping sex off the table for 30 days, and by following daily journaling exercises designed to help get to the root of any sexual issues, then afterwards you will be rewarded with great sex.

After undertaking the 30 day fast/self examination portion of the program, then you are slowly allowed to get back into the groove, so to speak. This is the section that interested me the most. There are two modules here, one for couples and one for singles. In the section for couples Dr. Kerner says that by touching and being intimate without the intention of having intercourse or orgasm, we can strengthen our bonds as a committed couple. I have always loved being hugged, holding hands, being caressed, and now I know that it's because those sensations spark my body to release oxytocin into my bloodstream. This is the same chemical that is released when a mother is breastfeeding her baby, helping to form a strong mother-child bond. It's powerful stuff, no doubt.

I wish I could tell you more about the section on singles, but this book has a great deal of appeal. So much so that someone stole it from my elliptical machine while I was getting some paper towels to wipe the machine down when I was finished with my workout. My wallet, cell phone and iPod were still there, but Sex Detox was gone.

The only drawback to this book is that it seems to be slanted to women in my opinion. Besides the hot pink cover, none of the men I questioned said they would care to participate in the journaling exercises. Perhaps these man have no sexual issues. That is unlikely, but I can see how daily reflection might be a bit too Stuart Smalley for some fellas, which might be a turn off to some guys. No pun intended.

In the end, there were interesting and valuable lessons to be learned from Sex Detox: Recharge Desire. Revitalize Intimacy. Rejuvenate Your Love Life. Even if you don't follow the protocol to the letter, just thinking about sex so much is sure to get you in the mood a little more often!

Care to hear what others have to say? Visit the Parent Bloggers Network and read all the other reviews of Sex Detox: Recharge Desire. Revitalize Intimacy. Rejuvenate Your Love Life. by Dr. Ian Kerner.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Swiss Penguin Enchants Many, Including Hasselhoff

Sam loves Penguins. We have several books featuring these delightful arctic creatures. Pingu the Swiss pengiun seemed like he would be a big hit in our house. The Parent Blogger's Network offered up this DVD back in December and we patiently awaited its arrival.

We don't watch much TV at our house (clarification: the kids don't watch much TV. Mom and dad are addicts. And also hypocrites.) I've been trying to slowly phase in a few programs so that Sam doesn't get culture shock in a few years. I like the idea of DVDs because it give me a lot more control over what he's watching, and for how long. The disc is composed of eight short episodes, each running around five minutes long. To me that was a huge plus because we could watch one episode at a time and not OD on the television. Also cool? None of the characters actually speak. Instead they squawk and honk in some oddly humorous penguin dialect. There is also a lot of gesturing and pantomime used in lieu of words to communicate the action of the story.

The first time I popped in Pingu: On Thin Ice for my own viewing, I was enchanted. First off,, the theme song is an excerpt from David Hasselhoff's Pingu Dance rap. I am so not kidding. The show itself was silly fun, and the clay-mation reminded me of episodes of Gumby from my youth. I also dug the family dynamic presented. Even though the father penguin was shown going off to work at the post office, he also did plenty of helping around the house, including the knitting!

While I found these quirky little birds (and seal) entertaining, Sam didn't seem to share my enthusiasm. I wouldn't say he disliked the show, but it didn't really hold his attention well. I think that, at not quite 2, the lack of clear communication made it difficult for him to follow along with the story. He would watch for a minute and then jump off the couch to find some toys. I tried playing it for him several times and at different times of the day, but he just wasn't that into it.

Even though Sam wasn't enthralled with Pingu, I think most kids would love him. He's cute, funny, and a little mischievous. As proof, I checked out the other reviews over at PBN and guess what? He's very popular.

So check him out. Or buy your own copy here. Or drop me a comment or email and maybe a free copy might find its way into your mailbox!

P.S. If you're commenting to win the DVD, please make sure you leave some way for me to contact you. If you don't have an email attached to your Blogger account, then just send me an email me at instead! I'm still waiting to hear from Demi who won a copy of The Ultimate Tea Diet.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Winner Annouced!

Congrats Demi! You won yourself a brand new copy of The Ultimate Tea Diet! Email me at with your contact info and I'll ship it right off to you.

Oh, and I went to Weight Watchers this morning. I lost 4 pounds!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's High Time for Tea Time

When I was a little girl, my grammy and I would have tea parties where we would drink tea with milk and sugar (in my case, tons of sugar) and eat saltines with cream cheese. These parties were something I looked forward to more than I can express. I felt so grown up drinking tea.

Now that I am grown up, tea is still something I enjoy immensely. In fact, I have three different brewing devices and more than a dozen loose leaf teas. When asked by the Parent Bloggers Network to review The Ultimate Tea Diet by Mark Ukra, I though how perfect! I already have a bunch of tea, and I already have a big butt! Why not let one take care of the other?

As soon as the book came, I started reading thirstily. The mainstay of the diet is to drink tea all day long, eat healthy meals, have a positive outlook and exercise. The plan is complimentary to other weight loss plans, which is nice. I'm starting back to Weight Watchers next week, and by adding tea and tea recipes to my plan the book claims I can enhance my weight loss results.

The main concern I had when I started drinking tea was about caffeine. Ever since Sam was born I've switched to drinking mostly decaf. Whenever I would have too much caffeine from coffee, I felt awful. I would get sweaty and agitated, and have trouble focusing. Tea also has caffeine, but it also contains other compounds that make it better for you than coffee. Caffeine, L-theanine and EGCG are the main components linked to tea's weight loss properties. I quickly found that even after drinking three cups of fully caffeinated tea, I never felt jumpy or anxious, just alert but calm. At night I would switch to decaf teas, but during the day time it wasn't a problem at all. Plus I learned from the book that most of the caffeine is extracted out during the first steep. So if you re-steep the same leaves, the subsequent steeps are nearly caffeine free!

So after two weeks of cutting out coffee and drinking tea instead, did I lose weight? Probably. Like I said before, I'm starting back to Weight Watchers next week so I didn't get officially weighed. And my bathroom scale is highly unreliable. But I feel as though I did. I also noticed a drastic reduction in my hunger levels. My mood during the day was so noticeably calmer that SOB commented on it multiple times. I plan to try and incorporate some of the recipes into my diet as well since they look pretty yummy.

As far as the book goes, I did enjoy several things about it. Mark Ukra got several of his Tea Garden patrons to participate in a weight loss challenge with him, so at the end of every chapter is a TEAmmate profile detailing that specific person's challenges and successes. There were also many interesting studies mentioned that, as a scientist, piqued my interest.

That said, being a scientist who is married to a physician, I do have issues with people who call themselves Dr. Anything when they are not. It's misleading, disingenuous and somewhat disrespectful to those who have earned an MD, DO or PhD. He could have easily called himself Mr. Tea. And then he could have made himself a necklace of gold plated tea bags. Although that turned me off at the beginning, reading the book brought me around. While I don't agree with his self appointed title, I would recommend this book to people looking to either expand their knowledge of tea or lose weight, or both!

Interested? Read more reviews at the Parent Bloggers Network! Or...leave me a comment and WIN a brand spankin' new copy of The Ultimate Tea Diet!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Mango's Big Dog Parade: The Wheels on the Bus

When the Parent Bloggers Network asked for reviewers of Mango's Big Dog Parade: The Wheels on the Bus DVD, I decided to take a chance. We don't usually watch TV or DVDs, but since The Wheels on the Bus song is like crack to Sam, and The Who’s Roger Daltrey is the voice of Argon the Bus Driver, I had to give it a try. I was raised by a classic rock loving father (except it wasn't classic rock to him, it was just rock) and The Who is a family favorite.

Doing some research before the DVD came, I read on The Wheels on the Bus home page that, "Dr. Dorothy Singer, from Yale University’s Family Television Research Center, ensures the content is appropriate for young children and that the series conveys important life skills in an intelligent and fun way." So I had some reassurance that I wasn't going to be showing Sam some junk TV.

Once the package arrived, I popped it in for my initial viewing. The songs were catchy and the colors were bright. With a mix of live kids and puppets, I knew Sam was going to love it. And he did. With lessons like taking turns, getting along and listening to your mother I didn't mind either! There were also segments on insects, counting, and singing in Spanish. It sounds like a lot, but it's presented in a way that isn't overwhelming.

My only small complaint about this DVD is kind of nit-picky. In general I try and present lessons to Sam in the most positive way I can. The lessons in Mango's Big Dog Parade: The Wheels on the Bus DVD generally start out with two characters arguing, or child being disobedient. It's a little thing, but in a perfect world I would prefer a more positive message.

Overall, Sam really enjoyed singing along with all the versions of his favorite song The Wheels on the Bus. If you're looking for a new DVD for your collection, I would give this one a big thumbs up. Click over to PBN to read the rest of the reviews if you want more info!