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Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of Things I Can't Say 2010

When ScaryMommy encourages us to do a post about our year in blog posts, who am I to argue with her fabulousness? What a year! Attended my first(Bloggy Bootcamp) and second(Type A Mom) blog conferences, started Pour Your Heart Out and Blog Friend Feature, too. Btw, I featured a blogger yesterday instead of today due to the holiday- if you did not meet her yet, check her out in my sidebar.

My year in blog posts:

January: Dealbreakers: How to Be Labeled a "Motherbitch"

February: How to Deal with Your Kid's Teacher

March: Everybody's Doing It: Let's Talk About Sex

April: Bringing Mom Sexy Back

May: No More Babies in This House

June: Can You Change Your Husband? Can You Change?

July: NOT Mom of the Year

August: A Solution to the Problem of Bullying

September: One Year Later

October: When Blogging Changes

November: Pour Your Heart Out: The Hardest Glass to Pour

December: The Worst Thing She Ever Did

A huge thanks and hugs to to my wonderful readers and supporters. I never would have guessed in a million years how much this blog would grow over the past year or the friends that I would make because of it.

Can't wait to see what 2011 has in store!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blog Friend Feature: All You Need is Love...Outloud

Once again, due to the holidays, Blog Friend Feature is a day early. We'll go back to the usual schedule of Fridays next week.

This week's BFF is someone who has been a follower I hate that word loyal reader, supporter, and friend since I first decided to step out in to the blog world. As in, was one of the first ten people to hit that little follow button over there. She's someone you definitely want in your corner. She's loyal, funny, and honest.

She actually has two blogs, like I do: one for family and friends and then a second that is her, uncensored: meet Evonne from Jules Outloud.

Wow! I am Shell's BFF this week. I feel so honored! Momentous events such as this are not ones I expected when I began blogging.

In June of 2009 I expressed to the husband that I wanted to start a blog. At the time I thought it would be a great way for family and friends to keep up with our lives. The husband is a collector of domain names and he just happened to have one laying around with no purpose. He was like a kid in a candy store setting up my blog for me. My first post at All You Need is Love was July 6, 2009. It was nothing special. Basically because I had no idea what I was doing.

Soon I discovered other blogs. As I read and commented on those blogs, those authors began to read and comment on what I wrote. My eyes were opened to the community that comes with blogging and I loved every minute of it. I still do!

As my 1 year blogoversary approached my eyes were opened to something else. I had found my niche! My blog was a "Mommy blog". I loved telling stories about my midgets, GG and Little Dude, but I began to realize there were things in my life I needed to get off my chest. All You Need is Love was not the place for that.

My mom and her boyfriend had created some drama in my life. I couldn't blog about it because my Grandma didn't know her daughter was seeing someone. Yes, my Grandma reads my blog. That is, when her computer isn't infected by 10,000 viruses! The first time I hinted at him I got a phone call from my mom. I thought she was going to have a heart attack! I also had my days where I just wasn't feeling like all I needed was love. We all have our days where dropping an F-bomb or 10 2 is the best way to express our emotions. I didn't think my Grandma would appreciate those words.

As that first year came to a close, I started to contemplate a second blog. One away from family where I could express exactly how I feel and talk about things outside of the mom role. It took me some time to start it because I had trouble thinking of a name. The ideal blog title was already taken (ahem... Things I Can't Say), but after letting my creative wheels turn a bit, I found what I needed - Jules Out Loud. Jules (a name I use online) because of my love for the Beatles and Out Loud because, well, do I really need to explain that?

I am still working on creating a niche for myself at my second home, but it is very gratifying to have a place where I am free to post what I want. There I feel I can talk about my issues with the human race or I can be serious and share my baby story. I can also complain about my family without them ever knowing about it. I hope!

I love to write and I love have 2 places to get out all the junk that's in my head, but if I knew then what I know now, I would have done things a little different. Like not tell my family that I blog!

Please leave Evonne some comment love here and go check out one(or both) of her blogs!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gimme a Break...Or a Massage...Or Something!

Is it just me or is winter break really long? I feel like I need a break.

Or a bubble bath.

Or a massage.

Throw in a glass of wine, too.

If you happen to be here because my misguided husband FORGOT the name and therefore point of my blog, you really want to step away for this post. Buh-bye.

Because I'm talking EdenFantasys here. And yes, it's what the word fantasys would imply. But, it's online. You'd never catch me walking into one of those shops in town. But, hey, you nosey person who hasn't left yet who should have: I've seen YOU walking into that shop. Take that. See, online is better!

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

Anyway, when looking for a good massage oil, since I am too uptight would rather shop at home for that sort of thing, EdenFantasys is a great site to find them.

Santa should have put some of this in my stocking: can be used in a warm bath or massage or to enhance intimacy. Yes, please.

Love this discreet way to shop. Though yes, they have lots of other products if you are interested in something a little more exciting than massage oils.

This is a sponsored post, though all content and blushing opinions are my own.

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Pour Your Heart Out: A Glass At His Own Pace

If you need more info about Pour Your Heart Out, see THIS post.
But, really, it's anything that YOU consider pouring your heart out.
Be sure to check out some of the links- you will find some amazing stories out there.
Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)


Along with all the other holiday festivities, my Bear had a preschool Christmas program.

He has been singing all of the songs since early November. He loves to sing.

But, the schoolday before his Christmas program, his teacher informed me that he would not sing any of them during their dress rehearsal. And that they had thought about having him sit and watch with us instead of being on stage.

My heart dropped.  My Bear, who loves to sing? Not letting him up on the stage?

But, they decided to let him try.

When the day came, he came out with his class and stood up on the bench in the second row and sang and smiled and hit that little triangle along with "The First Noel."

I started to tear up, seeing him doing so well.

The next song, his class had to sit down for and let the younger kids have their turn. But, he ended up still singing "Hot chocolate, hot chocolate" and making all the motions anyway. I had to hide my smile.

But, for the next song that he was supposed to get up and sing...he didn't want to. He sat down and put his head down on the bench.  His teacher was behind him, trying to encourage him to get up and sing.

At least he was in the back row where you couldn't really see that he wasn't participating.

But, I hated it for him. I hate that my child who loves to sing didn't want to.

I started to think about the differences between him and other kids his age and if he'd really be able to handle kindergarten next year. He's come so far since his initial diagnosis of lead poisoning, but that doesn't mean that he has caught up with his peers.

But, then I saw another child in his class, standing in the front row. And I realized that that child hadn't sung a word during the entire program. That he just stood there, staring. So, it's not just my child who wasn't singing. And I looked around- there were others.

It's just that when it's your child, you tend to notice more.

His teacher did say that when they went over to practice getting in their spots earlier in the day, Bear had belted out all of the words to all of the songs, solo.

And when it came time for the last song, he did sing.

It all has to be on his time, his choice. And that's something I need to remember.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Story: Limbo

She wanted to tell him, wanted to make him hurt like she hurt.

But, mostly, she just wanted to go back to him. Go back and have things be like they were the first year that they were together.

And so, she didn't tell him about Mack. 

Just the knowledge of what she had done was enough for her to realize that she couldn't go back.

They'd talk on the phone and sometimes it was like they were newly dating. And then other times, it was like a constant battle, with the person who showed they cared the least winning.

It was rarely her. She cared too much.

At times, she could see glimpses of the life she might have if she did leave him for good.  And it looked promising. She could see how she might be happy without him.

But, without him? She didn't want that. No. It wasn't possible to be happy without him.

Her roommate came home one afternoon to find her sitting in the hall, sobbing so hard that she couldn't speak.

The anniversary of their engagment passed and she couldn't believe it: it felt like much more than just a year had passed.

If they had loved so much, if she had loved him with everything that she had, if it had been such an all-consuming love....and it still fell apart, how could any relationship work, ever?

She knew she couldn't go back to him, but she still wanted to. She wished that it things could go back to how they were.

But, the longer she was away from him, the more that she saw that she was doing the right thing. Even though it hurt.

But, a test was coming: she needed to go back up to get more of her things.

Her roommate asked her if she was really going to be able to leave him again.

"I'm coming back....I think...."

If you missed any of the story of my past, where yes, I talk about myself in the third person, you can check out these links to get caught up:

10 Days After the Hurricane
Was It a Big Mistake?
A Romance Grows
And Then He Left Her
She Moves for Him
The Waiting Game
The Engagement
The Year It All Goes Wrong
The Break
The Worst Thing She Ever Did


Monday, December 27, 2010

Top Ten: Christmas-style

I could write a funny post this morning about all the things that went wrong on Christmas or the things that got on my nerves... like my oldest pitching a fit over not getting one thing on his massively long Christmas list or bil and his dumb girlfriend/fiance acting like they were 12, or how the Christmas elf forgot to bring me pajamas, or how Hubs put on "Four Christmases" totally forgetting that there was a whole scene in there about Santa not being real.

But, instead, I'm bringing you our top sweet Christmas moments. I was enough of a Grinch last week.

1.  Monkey not setting fire to the church when he was in the Candlelight Service with us on Christmas Eve.

2.  My boys literally jumping up and down with excitement when they saw the presents under the tree from Santa.

3.  Bear saying of his Big Foot toy that I had won from a blog giveaway "This is the best present in the whole world."

4.  Hot apple cider all day long.

5.  Cub riding his Toy Story quad.  Even him almost taking out our Christmas tree was hilarious if you watched the looked on his face.

6.  A fabulous Christmas meal(I'm allowed to say that, even though I was the cook, right?)

7.  Cuddling up with my boys and Hubs.

8.  A snowstorm in eastern Carolina that kept us in pjs all weekend long.

9.  The funny presents the boys picked out for me and Hubs when they went out shopping with mil.

10.  Finally getting the Christmas spirit when I was able to relax at Christmas Eve church.

Hope that you had a wonderful holiday weekend!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Some Christmas Eve Fun for the Kids!

First of all, in case you missed it, please check out this week's Blog Friend Feature. It was posted yesterday because of the holidays. I know you will love her! Read that HERE.

Kids excited for Christmas? You can have them call Santa for free and leave him a message. Or you can put Santa's voicemail on speakerphone and tell him if your kids deserve presents or giant lumps of coal. What? I'm the only parent who is about to go crazy after a week of Christmas break? Anyway, check out the free call to Santa here.

Or, your kids can get a call from Santa, too. Again, free. I'm all about free right now because "Santa" already spent enough on presents and doesn't need to spend any money today.  You put in your child's information and then the call is personalized. My oldest was thrilled that Santa knew he was in kindergarten. Check out that call HERE.

You can also track Santa's trip around the world HERE.

And don't forget that you can catch Santa in your house! Check out icaughtsanta.com to create your pic. You can download it to your computer and post on facebook and twitter, too. Use the code THINGS-I-CANT-SAY to get a 25% discount. No, I don't get anything from any sales, just passing along the savings.

Here is ours for this year- my youngest keeps taking his blanket and bear and sleeping on the couch, so I went with this pose.

I won't even tell you how many times I just had to slam the laptop shut as nosey little children came trying to look at my screen.

I hope that you and your families have a very Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blog Friend Feature: Life Without Pink

You are getting this week's Blog Friend Feature a day early this week because I wanted to feature someone, but I also knew it would probably be hard tomorrow, with the holidays. I do realize it's Thursday. Even if that's about all I have a handle on these days.

I think I found this week's Blog Friend Feature last year when I was about to go to Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore. I tried to visit some of the blogs of the girls who were going so that I could "know" more of them before I went there.  I knew that I would love Tina's blog, Life Without Pink because she is a fellow mom of boys.

We ended up at the same table for one of the sessions and I remember telling her in an enthusiastic and dorky way, "Oh! I read your blog!" Her post today is a reminder that anyone, not just other bloggers, can be reading our blogs.

I am really excited to be featured as Shell’s BFF of the week! I need to get something off my chest and I think this may be the best place to do that – so thank you Shell for the opportunity.

One of the things I admire most about Shell {among the many} is her ability to remain anonymous. I know I have family and friends that read my blog and I like the fact that they can get to know me on a more personal level. On occasion I have had people I know talk to me about a particular post I wrote and tell me how much they enjoy reading what I write. It means a lot especially when coming from your friends and family.

Just the other week, I was at my town’s holiday festival and ran into a guy I went to high school with. I haven’t seen him in ten years and one of the first things he says to me was, “So I follow your blog, Life Without Pink…pretty interesting articles.” WHAT, he reads my blog? I’m sure I turned a shade of red, I was completely shocked. This is proof that you never know who is reading what you write.

I try to be open without getting too personal or sharing too much information about the people I know. I respect them and know that what I put on the Internet is there FOREVER.

However, recently I think I crossed the line.

Let me first tell you the back story. In high school there were six of us that were extremely close and we did everything together. I was the first to have a baby and it was such an exciting time for all of us. Shortly after my son was born, they stopped coming around and they honestly never took the time to get to know my son. We have drifted apart and I only see them from time to time.

Awhile ago I wrote a post about friendship that sat in my pending file for quite some time. After much consideration, I decided to hit “publish”. A few weeks later it was Thanksgiving and I never heard from my high school friends who alway text me on holidays. I then find out that one of the girls made an announcement to everyone that she was pregnant. But never shared the news with me. Ouch! I have tried on several occasions to reach out to her but she still has not responded to me.

I haven’t heard from the other girls as well. I found out one of them moved, only by receiving a holiday card in the mail. While I don’t feel what I wrote was that bad, it obviously had an affect on them. I really had no idea they even read my blog.

Do I regret publishing that post? Yes at times. Do I think it might of caused me my friendships? Yes possibly. Even though they were really never there for me through the years, it upsets me that they completely shut me off and that I hurt them.

I always try to be honest and authentic and believe that is why my readers connect with me. But I learned a huge lesson. Go with your gut. If you feel that a post may cross the line or you are not 100% sure about it, don’t publish it. While at times I regret publishing my article, it has also allowed me to show my two other wonderful girlfriends how much they mean to me and has deepened my relationship with them.

I never intended to hurt anyone, and it saddens me to think that I may have.

Just remember when writing posts, you really never know who is reading your blog.

Life Without Pink

Please leave Tina some comment love here and then go follow her blog if you don't already!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pour Your Heart Out: A Glass of Christmas....Cheer?

If you need more info about Pour Your Heart Out, see THIS post.

But, really, it's anything that YOU consider pouring your heart out.

Be sure to check out some of the links- you will find some amazing stories out there.
Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)


Just days until Christmas.

I feel like I should be happy and jolly and in the spirit.

But, I'm not.

There's nothing really wrong, just a case of the holiday blues, I guess.

Between the kids being home for Christmas break, trying to get everything ready for the holidays, general life stuff, and then a few not-so-pleasant surprises this week, I'm just not feelin' it.

Yesterday's post left me feeling a little drained.  It was a part of my story that I thought that maybe I would skip over because it's not the proudest moment in my life.  But, it's real and honest, so it's there. Ever write a post that makes you feel drained and like you need a slight break before you write something else? Maybe that should have been my Pour Your Heart Out for this week.

Anyway, I know that I have lots to be thankful for. And I hope to shake this feeling off...

My boys dressed in their Christmas pajamas running down the stairs to open their presents on Christmas morning: a time that is guarenteed to make me smile.

Not to mention all the Christmas cookies. Not much that chocolate won't cure.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Worst Thing She Ever Did

She rushed out of the house, not sure what the hell she had been doing. Did she really just do that? She was hurt and not thinking straight. She wasn't acting like herself.

"Em, wait up," she heard Jeff call.

Not wanting to deal with her fiance's friend, she fumbled to unlock her truck and get out of there.

But he was faster than she was and grabbed her arm and turned her around. "What the hell do you think you are doing, Em?"

Yanking her arm free, she whirled around and smirked, "You know what I was doing."

But, her smirk quickly faded when he told her, "We all know what you were doing with Mack."

She never thought of herself as someone who could use someone else. Or to do what she had just done.  And especially with Mack.  Poor Mack who had had a crush on her since X had first introduced the two more than a year ago.

"Do you want to talk?" Jeff asked, gesturing toward the porch swing.

She stomped back toward the house and flopped down on the swing.

"X doesn't care what I'm doing," she defended.

"But, you're still engaged," he tapped the ring on her left ring finger.

"I took it off when I was with Mack.  I put it on his nightstand.  Almost left it there, too. It's not like it means anything any more," she tried to defend herself.  But, the look on his face told her that she wasn't going to get off that easily.

"Are you going to tell X?" she asked, hoping the answer would be yes. "And while you're at it, tell him that Mack was really good."

Jeff or any of his friends telling X what had happened would end their engagement for good.  She had known that this break was really a break-up, but neither she nor he could admit it. He was still arrogant enough to believe she would come back even though he didn't act like he loved her any more. He thought he could keep on treating her like that, but that she couldn't stay away.

He was probably right.  It would take strength she didn't think she had to leave him for good. 

If only Jeff or even Mack told X about what had just happened, she wouldn't have to worry about finding that strength; he would be furious with her and not want her back.

But, Jeff just shook his head. "He'd drive down here and kick my ass for not stopping it. And he'd probably kill Mack."

"You're wrong. He wouldn't care.  He's not in love with me any more."

And with that, all her anger, self-righteousness, and fight left her.  She was only left with the pain.

"X hasn't touched me in months. At all.  He didn't care that we are taking this break and he won't care if I never came back," she whispered.

She'd felt alone for so long, invisible.  And Mack gave her attention.  He made her feel special again, wanted.  She needed that.  Knowing that X hated Mack just made it feel even sweeter.

"None of us knew what you were doing with Mack....well, we knew what you were doing, just not why."

"None of you? You mean you were all talking about it?" even though some part of her wanted all of X's old friends to know just what she and Mack had been doing, the part of her who knew that this wasn't really her was horrified that they would all be talking about it.

"You and Mack weren't exactly subtle. You know he really likes you," he told her.

"I know. And that makes it worse. I shouldn't have let anything happen."

"What are you going to do? Leave X and take up with Mack?"

She buried her face in her hands.  "I've really screwed this up.  I'm not looking for a new relationship.  I just needed to feel like I mattered, even if it was just for a night.  And it felt good.  I felt good for the first time in months."

She wanted a way to make sure that she wouldn't or couldn't go back to X. To do something so awful that he would never forgive her and that she couldn't forgive herself for.  Even if he never found out, she would know. And she wouldn't be able to go back.

Mack came out on the porch then.  Leaning down, he kissed her and then turned to glare at Jeff, daring him to say something.

Instead, Jeff stood up and went back into the house without a word.

Mack sat down beside her and pulled her to him.  She let herself be held.  The months of living with a fiance who flinched if she so much as accidentally brushed against him as they passed each other in the hall had taken their toll.

She buried her face in Mack's chest, his chin resting on the top of her head.   How was she going to tell this sweet guy the truth?  She'd only wanted to get away, but she'd made things even worse.

X used to adore her.  She had felt so loved.  She still didn't understand what had changed.  And she knew she couldn't go back to him.  But, she knew that she still wanted to. She still wanted it to work out.  Even though she also knew that going back could destroy her.

Mack...well, he had just had the misfortune to become a place for her land, arms to hold her, to touch her.  What a blow to X's ego if he found out that she had slept with Mack.  He'd never forgive that, ever.

She didn't know whether to be relieved about that or to wish that she could take it all back, to still be able to make things work with the only man she'd ever loved. 

If you missed any of the story of my past, where yes, I talk about myself in the third person, you can check out these links to get caught up:

10 Days After the Hurricane
Was It a Big Mistake?
A Romance Grows
And Then He Left Her
She Moves for Him
The Waiting Game
The Engagement
The Year It All Goes Wrong
The Break


Monday, December 20, 2010

Making a Cheese Tray with Cracker Barrel Limited Edition Cheese (Review)

I love cheese. If I see a cheese tray, I will head straight for it. Crackers, cheese, and wine...YUM! My idea of an appetizer.

Plus, it's a really easy appetizer to make or bring to an event.  I like to put familiar flavors that people will like and not be afraid to try, yet slightly different so that it doesn't seem like something just anyone could put together.

Cracker Barrel has a limited edition cheese out right now until January 1st.  It's an aged white cheddar with slightly nutty, sweet notes.  It's familiar enough that you aren't going to scare people off yet different enough to be special.

I'd make a cheese tray with this kind of cheese, then a hard cheese, then a creamy cheese. Whole grain crackers and then maybe some pita chips- because that is what I like. Round it out with some red grapes. And of course a bottle of wine nearby. Though if you tried to eat all of my Cracker Barrel cheese, I might stab you with my cheese fork. Accidentally, of course.

I have to admit, though, that the first package of this Limited Edition Holiday Reserve Cheese that we went through- we basically just sliced and ate.  It was that good. But, we did take some and add it to a spinach salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. That was so good, too.

It's a way to add a different flavor to your holidays without breaking the bank....the gifts for the kids already did that, right?

Look for Cracker Barrel's Limited Edition Holiday Reserve Cheese at your local grocery store.

This post was written for Family Review Network & Kraft Cracker Barrel who provided the complimentary product for review in exchange for my honest opinions.


How I was Oh-So Wrong....and a Mommypants Moment

I found out just how wrong I was about something this weekend.  But, hey, I'm often wrong and okay with admitting it.

I swore up and down that I am a total booklover at heart and love ACTUAL books. That a Kindle or Nook were NOT for me. I love to browse in the library, have a book in my hand, be able to flip back to reread something, and always have a stack of books in my to-be-read pile.

And then Hubs was given a Kindle for Christmas from his work- along with all the guys in his office. They are supposed to be well-read and the Kindle is supposed to help with this. I'm really trying hard not to laugh at this since um, Hubs hates to read. He won't even read a short blog post from me...unless it's one of my posts on Babble like this one where he could watch a video banned from CMT or this one where he could check out the preview for the new Fast and Furious movie. Vin Diesel, yum.

Anyway, it was left to me to check out the Kindle...and I discovered all the FREE books I could download. So, I cuddled up on the couch with a blanket, hot chocolate, and *MY* Kindle. And I'm addicted.

I was wrong. I admit it. My name is Shell and it took me one day to become a Kindle-addict.


I was asked by the fabulous Cheryl over at Mommy Pants to share my Mommy Pants moment.  Please do me a favor and go check it out HERE. You'll get an even worse admission from me: just how hard it was for me to put on my mommy pants.

And be sure to check out my iCaughtSanta giveaway- I put it up this weekend and it ends tomorrow night so that you can have a pic of Santa "caught" in your house for Christmas. FIVE winners and low entries. Enter HERE

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Magic Warble Book Review and Giveaway

For those of you who don't know, I'm a former elementary and middle school teacher. I still haven't given up my habit of reading children's lit- I like to stay on top of my reading in case I ever go back to teaching.

I was recently sent the book The Magic Warble to review.  It's about 12 year-old Kristina who doesn't quite fit in.  Her teacher gives her a gift that ends up transporting her to another world: one of fairies, dwarves, gnomes, and talking animals.

Kristina has the magic warble, which much be returned to its proper place, which will release the land from the reign of an evil queen.

This book is supposed to be for children ages 9-13, which I do think is appropriate.  If your child likes magic and the supernatural, but isn't quite ready for Harry Potter or Twilight, this is a good compromise.

It's an easy read with not much inference needed.

Win it: One of you will win an autographed copy of the book! If your email is not visible in your profile, please leave it with your comment. US only, please. Giveaway will end at 9pm on 12/22.

Entries: Please leave a separate comment for each entry

*Follow the author's blog

*Like The Magic Warble on facebook

*Follow @VictoriaSimcox on twitter

I was sent a copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed and the winner is #15.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

George Foreman Smart Kitchen Review

I have three kids ages 6 and under. Who, you know, have to eat. A LOT. I'm frightened about what will happen when they are teenagers.

So, I'm always looking for ways for making meals easier, faster, with less clean-up, and of course, keeping things healthy is always good, too.

So, meet my new little buddy. 

The George Foreman Healthy Cooking Smart Kitchen Multicooker.

It has a 26 cup capacity, which means that I can cook for my whole family in it and maybe even have some left over. Seriously, you should see my boys eat.

It has this nifty Intelli-Probe™ digital control that has pre-set rice and steam settings, plus a sear setting.

There is a steaming basket, too. Great for veggies.

It has a non-stick coating so that you can cook without oils or butter. Even though we all know I think butter is like its own food group and is my lover. Plus, the accesories are dish-washer safe, which is a bonus for me, since I hate to handwash things with the same passion that I love butter.

The only thing that I'm a little disappointed in is that it didn't come with a book of recipes and I can't find any online yet- I assume that eventually I can find someone online after more people discover this neat gadget. So, I've just tried steaming some veggies and making rice so far. But, I can definitely see the potential for making whole meals in it.

Want to see more info or purchase this Smart Kitchen Multicooker? Visit this link. It is usually priced at $79.99, but is on sale for $39.99(at the time of this posting, anyway!)

This post was written for Family Review Network & George Foreman Healthy Cooking who provided the complimentary product for review in exchange for my honest opinions


iCaughtSanta.com Review and Giveaway: 5 Winners

I was introduced to iCaughtSanta.com last Christmas. I love the idea behind it- it keeps the magic alive for kids.

If you aren't familiar with it, it allows you to have a picture of Santa "caught" in your house!

All you have to do is upload a picture, then add Santa, then share! You can print it or post it on your blog, on facebook, or on twitter, too.

I was going to scan in the one I did last year(because our tree isn't going up until today- we're being Christmas slackers this year), but then I went to their site and saw that I could enter my email addresss and they sent me a link to my picture- even a year later. LOVE that!

There are 20 different Santas to choose from, so if you want this to be a tradition, you can have a different Santa in your picture each year.

You can rotate Santa and change his size to make him fit your picture. One thing that I wish I had noticed last year is that you can change the brightness of Santa, too. Good thing my kids are young and didn't notice the contrast between the background and Santa. But, this year, I'll be sure make him match the background a little better.

You can also edit your picture by rotating it or zooming in.  If you'd like, you can add a border.

Last year, after the kids were asleep, we set out the presents a few days before Christmas to take the picture and then sent it to print at a store. Though, you can wait until Christmas Eve and print it at home, too.

Our Santa pic was under the tree for my boys to find. They were so excited to show us that Santa had been in our house!

You can also create picutures where you catch the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Cupid!

Buy it: Go to icaughtSanta.com. To create your own Santa pic, there is a $9.99 fee, though the proof is then yours to print or share online as you wish. Enter this code THINGS-I-CANT-SAY to receive 25% off your order!

Win it:  I have FIVE gift codes to give away! If your email is not visible in your profile, you must leave it with your comments. This giveaway is open worldwide and will close on Tuesday, December 21st at 9pm ET. Winners will have 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

Mandatory Entry: View the Santa Poses available and tell me which is your favorite.

Additional Entries: Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

*Follow @catchacharacter on twitter and leave your username

*Like Catch a Character on facebook and leave your facebook name

*Follow Things I Can't Say GFC

*Follow @shellthings on twitter

*Like Things I Can't Say on facebook(you can do this in my sidebar)

*Tweet this giveaway and leave direct link to your tweet: Win a pic of Santa in your house from @catchacharacter and @shellthings #giveaway 5 winners http://bit.ly/ehjXCf

I was sent a gift code to create my own Santa pic. All opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed and the winners are: #20 Oka, #44 random blogette, #30 brittney
#17 mommakiss #2 Liz

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Blog Friend Feature: Because Blog Friends Are Real

I've known this week's Blog Friend Feature for less than a year...and yet, I feel like I've known her forever. I reach for my BB and message her when I need to vent or celebrate something. I've talked to her on the phone even though I hate talking on the phone. She's become a real friend.

You may already know her, as her blog is the home of Post-it Note Tuesdays. Meet Kristen of Only Parent Chronicles.

Hello to you all! I'm so happy to be the BFF at Things I Can't Say this week. I always have such a great time visiting all the featured blogs and was thrilled when Shell asked if I'd like to be featured today. I mean, obviously the answer was yes. Who wouldn't want to be Shell's BFF? Then it hit me. To be Shell's BFF, I would have to write a guest post! Yikes! After months of great posts from amazing writers all over Blognia, it was going to be my turn. Honestly, I felt truly inadequate. Fortunately, I have known Shell long enough to be "comfortable in my skin" around her.

It seems a popular question in Blognia is, "Why do you blog?" Every time I try to answer that question concisely, I get stumped. You see, when I started blogging, I was going through a period where I really couldn't believe events in my life were happening to me. Naturally, I thought being an only parent of an obnoxious boy and a special needs girl, I was guaranteed years of blog fodder. On top of that, I was single and dating. I was confident that alone would give me plenty of funny stories. Sadly, I quickly discovered my life was boring and far less entertaining difficult to translate into short vignettes. Partly because a lot what happens are my children's stories and not mine to share, partly because shortly after beginning Only Parent Chronicles, I got into a serious relationship, and partly because I really just don't write that well.

So why then  do I blog? The short answer is Community.  I know there is regular debate IRL as to whether blog friends are real. I can tell you without a doubt, they are. In the last year and a half, I have developed some of the deepest, richest, and truest friendships of my lifetime in the blogging community. Not only have I "met" people that I turn to when I need advice or an objective ear, I have also had the opportunity to meet other bloggers face to face and cultivate those relationships into real, tangible things.  Through blogging, I have been able to develop friendships by choice, not circumstance. I have met women that I talk to every day. We have created our own support system of people we can reach out to for anything.

In the last year and a half, I have been through the birth of a child, the death of a sibling, divorce, childhood illness, special needs testing, an infertile friend carrying a baby to term, unemployment, reemployment, dissolution of friendships, and celebration of friendships. These experiences and the emotions that they came with were all real. They late night or early morning shout outs via text or email of friends in need of a shoulder to cry on or an ear to bend are all real. The bonds that we've forged? They are all real.

The next time someone asks you if blog friends are real, I challenge you to take these things into consideration. I know, without a doubt that the community I have built and the friendships I have made through blogging are 100% real. That, my friends, is why I blog.

How about you? Why do you blog? Have you made irreplaceable friendships through blogging? What keeps you coming back?

Only Parent Chronicles

Please leave Kristen some comment love here and then go follow her blog if you don't already!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pretending It's Friday. Yes, I Live in Denial

Because, you see, I have some things I need to flip off. So, I'm doing it even though it's only Thursday. Momma Kiss hosts Friday Flip-offs. I love her so much. Seriously, Hubs doesn't ever have to worry about me running off with another guy(except maybe Joshua Jackson or Vin Diesel or maybe Fabio from Top Chef), but I might just run off with MK for a weekend sometime to escape the madness.

I'm flipping off Bear's Music Teacher. Now, Bear LOVES music and the best thing about his preschool is that he has music class every day. That boy loves to sing and dance.

But, yesterday, when I was dropping him off at preschool, it was his music teacher who got him out of the van. She said to "him" because I know she was just trying to say it loud enough for me to hear and no one says this sort of thing to a 4 year-old: "Oh, (Bear), you can't wear such a thin jacket. It's too cold. You need to wear a winter jacket or you will freeze."

Well, Miss Music Teacher, if you had LOOKED, you would have realized that no, his jacket is not one of those huge puffy jackets that seem to run rampant in preschool. But, it IS heavily insulated and lined with a thick layer of fleece.  It IS a winter jacket. So, flip-off, lady.

Next, a flip-off to my parents for visiting for the next two days instead of over the weekend or next week when it would work out so much better for my family. I'm sure if I was writing this later today I'd have a lot more to flip-off where they are concerned, but I'm trying to stay positive...sort of.

And a HUGE flip-off to the weather here. We very rarely get snow here in eastern NC and when we do, it shuts everything down. Please weather, do NOT strand my parents here. Two days is all I can take.

Another flip-off to everything that has been keeping me busy this week so that I couldn't make the blog rounds like I wanted to. I'll be around soon.

Until then: send wine.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pour Your Heart Out: A Glass of Other People's Problems

If you need more info about Pour Your Heart Out, see THIS post.

But, really, it's anything that YOU consider pouring your heart out.

Be sure to check out some of the links- you will find some amazing stories out there.
Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)


This post is not what I thought it would be.

You see, my mom is coming for a visit tomorrow. I planned to tell you about the problems that she and I have had. Because they go beyond normal mother-daughter problems. I get a headache just thinking about them and was worried that I would need to do a whole series to explain the insanity.

But, then, I remembered another time when she was coming for a visit and I made a comment about how stressed out I was about her coming.  And an aquaintance, who does not know any of the details of the insane and hurtful things my mother has done, immediately cut me off and told me that I wasn't allowed to complain because I still had my mom and she did not. That if she still had her mom, she would never complain.

I was left without anything to say. 

This is not the post where I say that yes, we should be thankful that we have someone in our lives no matter what they have done for us and we should try to make amends. No, that's not this post.

Because, you see, I've tried. And forgiven more than most people can believe.

But, instead, what this post is....is a reminder that we all have our struggles. We all have something in our lives that is a challenge, something rough for us to deal with.

It's not fair to tell someone that they don't have the right to complain because you think you have it so much worse than they do.

I was reading someone's blog several weeks ago and she was talking about her child's illness and felt like she needed to put a disclaimer in there saying she knows that she should feel lucky that her child is alive and that there are those who have lost their children, but that her child's illness is still something really hard for her family. 

There will always be someone who has it worse than we do.  And sometimes, that can make us thankful for our blessings.

But, other times, we need to remember when we hear someone talk about their difficulties that they are hurting, too.  That though we might not think much of their troubles, to the person who is going through the struggle, it IS a big deal. We haven't walked in their shoes, we don't have their lives, we don't really know what they are going through.

We all have our own problems. No, they might not be all that bad when we compare them to the worse case scenerio, but that doesn't make them easy to get through.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Smiles that Make My Holidays

'Tis the season....

to be cranky.

Oh, I'm supposed to be jolly?

I forgot. Between the shopping and the crowds and the present-wrapping and the present-shipping and the cookie-baking and menu-planning and the worrying about my child having a meltdown during his Christmas program, I forgot.

I got tired. And cranky. I wanted to just take my bottle glass of wine and go to bed, earplugs in and not wake up for a week.

But, then I remembered....those smiles that do brighten my holiday and make all the craziness worthwhile.


And maybe this year, we will get a better pic of the three boys in front of the tree than what happened last year:

But, if not, I know I'll still see their mischievous adorable smiles and much like the Grinch, my heart will grow 3 sizes on Christmas Day.

I am participating in the Invisalign Teen Bright Smiles Holiday Photo Contest with Dumb Mom.

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Does Your Drinking Glass Contain Lead?

As many of you know, my middle son suffers from lead poisoning.

The struggles he has had to deal with have been a challenge. Knowing all the complications from lead poisoning has made me be very aware of where you can find lead.

It's not just in old paint. Or toys.

Recently, there have been some drinking glasses that have been found to contain lead. Glasses imported from China have been found to have up to 30% lead in their enameled logos. The federal limit for lead in children's products is 0.03%.

Now, you might think that it's not a big deal unless your child is licking that cartoon logo, but the lead can get on their hands by them touching the glass. Then, if they later put their hands to their mouths, they could get the lead into their system.

Don't forget about the recent recall of Shrek glasses from McDonalds. I had some of those glasses. Thankfully, they hadn't been used yet when we heard about the recall and I immediately put them out of my children's reach and then returned them.

If you are looking for drinking glasses, don't assume that just because there is some cute cartoon character on them that they have been tested for lead. Check out this video of a Mickey Mouse glass being tested positive for lead with a LeadCheck Swab:

I'm going to make sure that I buy drinking glasses made in the USA. Plus, I'm now obsessive about checking things with my LeadCheck Swabs.

Don't forget that just because a toy(or other item) has a brand name that you usually trust, it doesn't mean that it is safe. In 2009, Fisher Price was fined for toys that had over the legal limit of lead in them. Yes, I will be testing all of my boys' Christmas toys before Santa delivers them.

Think I'm overreacting? If you had a child who had lead poisoning, you wouldn't think so.

To stay on top of the latest lead news and to find out where you can buy LeadCheck Swabs, follow LeadCheck's blog, follow them on twitter, or fan them on facebook.

As a mom to a child with lead poisoning, thank you to LeadCheck for offering such a valuable service. LeadCheck is my sponsor to Blissdom, however, I would be telling you about them and talking about news concerning lead poisoning anyway because this is a part of my family's life.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

My Story: The Break

She didn't want to leave.

She wanted more than anything to stay with him, to get married like they'd planned.

She remembered how they were together before the big move and she wanted that back. But, they weren't the same people any more.

That couple who couldn't be in the same room together without touching had become that couple who couldn't be in the same room together at all.

It had been months since they touched.

They weren't talking. Or when they were, there was always hurt and anger behind their words.

If there was some way that she could get him back, some way to get back to how they were, she would stay. If only for the promise that they could one day get back to how they were. But, there wasn't any reason for her to hope that this could happen.

She told him she was going to leave. That she was going to move in with a friend back in NC and try to get her old job back.

He told her he didn't want her to. They were actually talking again.

But, she'd spent too much time feeling like she was invisible to change her mind.

They decided to look at it like it was just a vacation that she was going on, though they both really knew the truth.

She traded in her car for a sporty little black two-seater truck. It was a statement more than a vehicle: it was what a single woman would drive, not what one would buy if they were about to get married and start a family.

She went into the salon a brunette and came out a blonde. She went with him to the tattoo parlor and actually got a tattoo: not something like her at all. But, she was in so much pain that she barely felt the tat; it gave her a good excuse to cry.

Though she'd always been thin, she dropped from a size 4 to a size 0.

It was like she was trying to become someone else. Maybe someone he would love. Or maybe someone so different from who she had been that she could forget their past. Everything about their life together felt so out of her control that she wanted to have control over something.  She couldn't change what she wanted to change, so changed herself.

Shortly before she was scheduled to leave NY, they went out to lunch with his best friend and his best friend's wife as part of her saying goodbye. But, he still didn't really believe that she was leaving. His best friend told him not to let her leave, that he needed to do something to get her to stay.

But, he just shrugged it off, saying that she would come back.

If he had said it with any sort of passion, if he had talked about how much he loved her, she would  have stayed. But, he was more matter-of-fact about it, showing no inclination to go back to the loving man he had been. He was so confident that she could never leave him, despite how he'd been treating her for months.

Part of her thought that he might be right. That maybe she wouldn't be able to leave him. She still loved him so much. The memory of how they used to be together was so strong, so powerful, had such a hold on her, that maybe he was right. That they were connected and that she would rather be miserable with him than be without him.

She worried that was the truth.

And so, even though she wished that something would change and she'd be able to stay, she knew that they needed this break.

A break. That was all either one of them was willing to call it, though they both, somewhere deep down, knew the truth.

And even after she left, they talked on the phone. It was almost like how it had been before: happy and sweet and loving. Though, she could still hear in his voice that things would never be like before. But, could she find the strength in her to stay away? She needed to do something drastic before she gave in and went back to him.

If you missed any of the story of my past, where yes, I talk about myself in the third person, you can check out these links to get caught up:

10 Days After the Hurricane
Was It a Big Mistake?
A Romance Grows
And Then He Left Her
She Moves for Him
The Waiting Game
The Engagement
The Year It All Goes Wrong


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Be a Chiquita Mom Giveaway: 5 Winners

Bananas were my boys' first food. Yes, even before rice cereal. It was the easiest thing to give them- mash up a banana and there you go.

Even now, each of them eats at least one banana a day. So, yes, that means we go through at least three bunches of bananas a week. But, since they are healthy, I don't mind.

So, when I was asked to be a Chiquita Mom, it was a perfect fit!

What is a Chiquita Mom?

*She's a mom who wants to spend as much time with her family as possible, so having a variety of healthy, easy meal and snack options makes her job easier.

*She is busy and needs a healthy energy boost throughout her day.

*She is always looking for fun activities that bring her family together.

Chiquita bananas help her with all of this! Of course you probably know that they are healthy, but do you know just how good they are for you? They have natural sugars and a significant amount of fiber. Two bananas provide enough energy for an instense 90 minute workout!

They only do they have energy boosting traits but they provide important nutrients like potassium which help the body build muscle and improves the body's ability to absorb calcium, to name a few benefits.

My kids usually eat all our bananas before I get a chance to make anything with them, but there are plenty of recipes with bananas: on our list to make next week are the Banana No Bakes.

Are you a Chiquita Mom?

You can win a Chiquita Moms kit, which includes:
• Chiquita Mom's Flip Book
• Chiquita Banana Recipe Cards
• Baby-Safe Chiquita Bowl, Cup, Spoon and Fork Set
• Chiquita Moms Grocery Tote Bag
• Chiquita Moms Freezer Bags
• A coupon for FREE Chiquita Bananas

There will be FIVE winners! To enter: If your email is not in your profile, you must leave it with your comment. Winners will be announced on this post and be emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway will close at 9pm ET on 12/17.  US only, please.

Mandatory Entry: Visit the Chiquita Moms page and tell me something you learned or a recipe you would like to try!

Additional Entries:
*Like the Chiquita Banana facebook page and leave your username
*Follow Things I Can't Say GFC

I was sent a Chiquita Moms Kit for review. All opinions are my own.
This giveaway is now closed and the winners are:
#61: Linda

#84 Teegan Briggs

#55 katychick

#98 Rachel

#7 Jenn @ South of Sheridan

#6 Julie

#15 Brittney

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog Friend Feature: What We Can Learn from Our Ex'es

What can I tell you about this week's Blog Friend Feature? Well, she is one busy lady! First of all, she is part of the Nerd Mafia and hosts a weekly meme, called Word Up, Yo. Which I love because I'm such a nerd at heart.
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She also is the creator of Blog Boycott Day. Even though I am far too blog-addicted to really participate, it's a fun day to hang out on twitter.

Do you know who I am talking about? If you haven't met Liz from a belle, a bean & a chicago dog, then you are in for a treat!

Shell has kept us captivated for weeks with an amazing story of love, full of twists and turns, and ups and downs.  I've been married for 9 years, and while I have my own love story, it isn't nearly as engaging nor as exciting as Shell's. 

Shell's series got me thinking, though, about the guys I dated *before* I met Mr. Right, and how they each taught me something important about life and love.

There are a couple things you should know about me before I go any further.

1. I don't have a "type" when it comes to guys. If you were to line up the guys I've dated, they'd run the gamut, and you'd fail to see any common thread connecting them.

2. My mom used to joke that until a guy was around for at least 3 months, she didn't pay any attention. And she's right; that really was a turning point of sorts. I guess that I'm of the mindset that you get to know one another pretty quickly at the beginning of a dating relationship, and any obvious major differences or incompatibilities that become apparent during that time just means that you two aren't meant to be together, and you should end things and move on.

I was someone who met Mr. Right in college and was engaged before graduation, so no "Sex And The City"-worthy dating tales from me. Just regular guys from the time of my life when papers, final exams, proms and date parties were the norm.

My top 3 most influential boyfriends would probably be R, W and B. R and I dated on and off in high school (and would hook-up for random make-out sessions when we were both home from college!). He and I had a strong physical chemistry, but the one thing that drove me absolutely insane about him was his tendency to be a wuss. I have a strong head on my shoulders, and God help me - I need a guy who isn't afraid to wear the pants - even just capris! - and have an opinion!! I suppose if I had a need for control, he would have been perfect, but that's just not me; I need a partner. It isn't attractive to feel like the mother in a relationship, ya know?

W is the guy who made me crazy in the head. His personality was so different than any other guy I dated, and didn't exactly make me any kind of priority in his life, but - man - was I head over heels! The girls in my sorority would tell me he was no good for me and that I deserved someone so much better, and they were right. But at the same time he gave me the gift of learning to take a step back and not always take life so seriously. He was so lazy when it came to college and, well, most anything, but he gave me a totally different perspective on not sweating the small stuff so much. I think he had a pretty big impact on the person I became.

B is the guy who helped me to get over W. He is also the last guy I dated before meeting Mr. Right. B was so right for me at the time; I really needed a good, sweet guy in my life, and I think I thought I had stronger feelings for him than I actually did. He was totally the Rebound Guy, but helped my heart to get ready for falling in love forever.

Some interesting notes about these 3 guys. First, I still talk to 2 of them, and those two also told me at some point since the end of our relationships but before I got married, that they totally imagined marrying me one day. Second, my sorority pledge mom used to be the biggest advocate against dating W, but she didn't seem to mind when I hooked them up my senior year of college (both of them had already graduated). W and my pledge mom just welcomed Baby #2 into their family about 3 weeks ago.

So what about you? Do you look at your past relationships as "regrets"? Or do you think they provided something positive to your life? Do you still speak with any of your former boyfriends?
Please leave Liz some comment love here and then go follow her blog if you don't already!
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tassimo Brewbot Review and Giveaway

Have you seen the Tassimo T20 Brewbot? It's an easy way to make a cup of your favorite hot beverage.

This compact machine allows you to make coffee, tea, hot chocolate, lattes, and cappuccinos! Each drink takes about one minute to make. It's perfect for making yourself a treat and also for company when everyone wants a different drink. Brands that are available include Starbucks, Gevalia, Twinings, Tazo, and more!

I was sent a Gevalia coffee and Starbucks Cappuccino Primo to try. Though, I have to admit that my husband is the bigger coffee drinker in my house and I went out looking for hot chocolate or tea. Found it in Bed, Bath & Beyond. I bought some Milka hot chocolate, though there was a Chai Tea Latte that I'd love to try and I even saw iced tea, too!

So, how easy is the Tassimo to use? Simple! Plug it in and turn it on. The mug pictured above is mine- you always want to select a mug that is appropriate for whatever beverage you are drinking and set it in the machine. The water tank needs to be full and in place- I could put it in place  while balancing a toddler on my hip.

Here's a T Disc- see that barcode? The machine reads that code and knows the appropriate temperature and amount of water to use for each drink!

Take the T Disc and insert it in the machine, bar code down, then close the
lid down firmly until the lid clicks.

Press the start button.
That's it!

So easy! And no cleaning in between different beverages needed.

Have you seen the adorable commercial? Check it out!

What a wonderful holiday gift this would make for someone! Including you. ;)

Buy it! The Tassimo T20 Brewbot retails for $129.99. You can find it online and at Target, Walmart, and Bed, Bath & Beyond and other stores. But, if you use this link to purchase, you will receive $25 off and get 2 free T Discs.

Win it! One of you will win the Tassimo T20 Brewbot! Including some T Discs, too! If your email is not visible in your profile, you must leave it with your comment. US only please. Winner will be emailed and announced on this post. Winner will have 24 hours to reply or a new winner will be notified. Quick turn-around time for this one to ensure that this will reach you by Christmas!

First Entry: Tell me who you want to win this for!

Additional Entries: Must leave a separate comment for each entry.

*Like Tassimo on facebook and leave your user name

*Leave a comment on Tassimo's facebook wall about what flavor T Disc you would like to try. Then leave a comment here telling me you did so and include your user name.

*Follow @Tassimotaster on twitter and leave your twitter name

*Tweet about your favorite barista-style drink. Must include either #tassimo or #brewbot in your tweet. Leave the direct link to your tweet in your comment.

*Follow Things I Can't Say GFC

*Like Things I Can't Say on facebook(you can do this in my sidebar) and leave username

*Follow @shellthings on twitter and leave your twitter name

*Tweet this giveaway(may do once per day- must leave direct link to your tweet): Win a #tassimo Brewbot from @shellthings #giveaway Ends 9pm ET 12/14 http://bit.ly/eItrVy

*Grab my button for your blog and leave me a link where I can find it(+2 entries- leave 2 comments)

I was sent a Tassimo Brewbot and T Discs to review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed. The winner is #345 Rebecca.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pour Your Heart Out: A Birthday Glass

If you need more info about Pour Your Heart Out, see THIS post.

But, really, it's anything that YOU consider pouring your heart out.

Be sure to check out some of the links- you will find some amazing stories out there.
Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)


Dear Monkey,

this weekend, you turn 6. Six. How did that happen? I still remember the day you were born like it was yesterday.

It has to be hard to be the oldest of three. There wasn't a very long time when you were the only child. When you were a baby, you HATED sleep. And only slept for 1.5-2 hours at a time until you were almost 6 months old. You must have thought your mama was crazy because I was often upset. It was the sleep-deprivation that did it.

You eventually slept better, though, THANK GOD. By the time you were 8 months old, we knew you were going to be a big brother. Even though we wanted it that way, I was still sad to think that you wouldn't be my only baby any more. Don't tell your brother, but I remember rocking you shortly before he was born and crying because I knew I'd miss those moments with just you and me.

You started climbing over the furniture shortly after that(which is how you got your nickname of "Monkey") and could run around by the time you were 10 months old.

Right before you were 17 months old, your younger brother was born. I'm sorry, my sweet boy, for how Mommy expected you to be a big boy then. You couldn't be carried and I expected you to listen to me and be good while Mommy took care of the baby. And you did. But, I'm sorry that you weren't allowed to continue being a baby for longer than that.

About a month later, you started speaking in sentences. Before you were even 2 years-old, you could hold complete conversations with people. You started speaking in essay-form. I don't know whether to apologize for not realizing that this was highly unusual or to be glad that I didn't know any better. If I had known how unusal that was, I might have been one of those obnoxious, bragging mothers. But, now I understand why others would give you weird looks when you could talk to them like that.

Everything seemed to come so easily to you. You loved adventure and trying new things.

You became a big brother again when you were 3.5 and took it all in stride. Shortly after that, you went to day camp. In the woods. Four hours a day for two weeks. I look at your younger brothers and think that there is no way that they could do that at that age. But, you were up for it.

Starting preschool was a breeze for you. Even when we had to move a year later, you loved the excitement and the beach.

You've made the transition to kindergarten so easily, too. I remember when you were a baby, thinking you would be starting in 2010 and that seemed so far away. But, now, you're almost halfway through kindergarten and on your way to being a first grader.

Time passes so quickly.

You are the child who is most like me. It's probably why we butt heads so often. We're both so strong-willed and stubborn. I love you so much and hope that you don't hate me for the disagreements we get into you. Even Daddy will listen to you, shake his head, look at me and say "He's so your child."

Daddy and I are harder on you than on your brothers. We go easier on Bear because there is much he doesn't understand and he was so sick that we constantly worry about him. And Cub is the baby of the family. It's not fair to you, I know. But, then again, I don't think you would tolerate us treating you like a baby anyway.

To my bright, sweet, stubborn, first-born, Happy 6th Birthday. I love you.


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