< Things I Can't Say: April 2011

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: Peanut Butter in My Hair

I've been reading today's Blog Friend Feature for a long time now: most of my bloggy-life.  She's always insightful.  Open and honest, even about the tough stuff like PPD. I always know that I will get a good read whenever I visit her blog.

She's been a little busier than usual lately, getting adjusted to life with three kids. But, I still really wanted to introduce you to her because I know you will love her. Meet Melissa of Peanut Butter in My Hair.

I know everyone says this, but I am really excited to be Shell’s BFF today! Shell is such a supportive blogger and she picked me even though I am a horrible commenter (but a really loyal reader!). I hope you’ll stop by and visit me too. I promise I’ll come by to read, maybe comment. See I have a newborn (just about 10 weeks old) and I read on my phone, so if there are any hoops, word verifications, or crazy logons I can’t do it. Fat tired hands, tiny phone, it’s a DYAC Post waiting to happen.
Supermom is a Myth
There is one thing I hate being called just about more than anything in the world, Supermom. It’s thrown around so much these days, in the media, on the playground, everywhere I turn there she is.
Be a Supermom, in 10 easy steps!

How to look like the Supermom at your preschool!

Meet Supermom blogger Shell!

“You are such a Supermom”
Hearing that in reference to myself makes me cringe for two reasons. One, supermom is a myth, she is this unattainable fictional character we have created. Two, I think 9 times out of 10 it’s a jab, a backhanded compliment, said with a knowing smile a side eye and a nod. It comes out almost derogatory, like clearly you are neglecting your children, husband, everything to create the illusion of Supermom because you? You can't possibly have it more together than me.

Back to the myth.
It’s a myth because there is no way to do it all, something always has to give. You can’t have a Pottery Barn styled home, have a successful career, be the best room mom there is, have home cooked meals from fresh organic produce 7 days a week, all while being a doting wife and engaging in wonderful hobbies and crafts that are always beautiful, and maintaining a rockin' bod. I mean maybe you can if you don’t sleep or are a robot.

The truth is it’s a give and take. I can bring in a beautiful hand sewn gift for the teachers for Christmas along with fun homemade snacks for the class party and look “super”. What your not seeing is that PBS has parented my kids for the last three days while I sewed, I don’t remember the last time I showered, we have had cereal and mac and cheese for every meal and my husband well I’m sure he’s under one of these piles of laundry somewhere.

There is no super cape given out to a select few moms, we are all super at different things. I am super at making crafty gifts, snacks and parties but seriously don’t look at my house because I am as undomestic as they come. My friend keeps an amazingly beautiful house and cooks awesome meals every night, she gives your standard gift cards as gifts, if she remembers to bring one. I'm not super, she’s not super we’re both just moms. We have different interests, different talents. We put our time and energy into different things but at the end of the day, we're just moms, and that's Super.

I’m not super and I don’t wear a cape, I do occasionally done some super heels! Do you rock the school meeting in heels and a great skirt or do you hang out in the back in your yoga pants and hoodie? Is it hard to distinguish your laundry or side of the closet from your husbands? Than I hope you will come visit me on Monday as Erin and I launch a new monthly challenge and link up “Dress Like a Girl” it’s going to be fun, easy, inspirational and hopefully rewarding! See you then!

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

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Her Husband is Gone

Y'all. Spring Break might just be the death of me. 

Today, I have an incredibly funny blogger sharing a guest post with you: Amber of Airing My Dirty Laundry One Sock at a Time was one of the very first BFFs on my blog, back when she was preparing for her husband to leave for a year. Now that he's been gone for quite a while, she shares the crazy things people have said to her since he's been gone.

My husband is gone.

No, he didn’t walk out on us.

He’s just in Korea for a year doing a job for the Air Force.

Is it hard? You bet. I’m stuck here with two (loud) children.

Do I have to deal with annoying comments from people? Yup. I’ve decided to post some of those statements with my response.

Annoying Statement: You’re lucky you don’t have to worry since he’s just in Korea. At least it’s not Iraq or Afghanistan.

My Response: Last I checked, Korea isn’t exactly peaceful. True, he might not be in a war zone, but still, am I not allowed to miss him since he’s “just” in Korea?

Annoying Statement: Why did you let him go? I’d NEVER let my husband go and abandon his family like that.

My Response: First of all, my husband is a grown man. I don’t “let” him do anything. Second of all, I knew Korea would help his career. I wasn’t about to keep him with me and have him be miserable. He didn’t abandon us. Thanks to Skype, we’re able to talk a few times a week.

Annoying Statement: I’d DIE if I had to sleep alone. Isn’t it AWFUL to sleep alone?

My Response: Not at all. I love to stretch out. Having the bed to myself is a plus.

Annoying Statement: Do you cry every night missing your husband?

My Response: No. I’ll probably cry harder when Steve Carell leaves The Office.

Annoying Statement: So who mows your lawn and does all the guy stuff now? I could NEVER mow my lawn…

My Response: Um, me. It makes for amusing blog fodder.

Annoying Statement: Do you worry he’ll cheat on your over there?

My Response: He should be more worried about me running off with John Krasinski. Ha. (Usually met with blank expression.) No, not really. We trust each other. He knows if he cheated that I’d attack the chick with my oversized purse. I have lots of change in there so it would hurt.

Don't you just love her humor? Be sure to follow her blog!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: One Step at a Time

If you have never visited Pour Your Heart Out before, see THIS post for more information- but it's personal- it's what YOU think is pouring your heart out. Please grab the PYHO button or link back in your post if you are participating.

Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)


My boys are still on Spring Break: we are up to three pukers and one seat belt that had to be cut to release a child. So, today, my friend Ashley from Just Another Mom of 2 was kind enough to write a guest PYHO post. I used to say that she was one of my best blog friends... but now I just say that she's one of my best friends. I know you'll love this post from her: and yes, she talks about herself in third person occasionally, just like I have a tendency to do sometimes.

One step at a time.

Nervous excitement consumed her. She had decided a few weeks ago that she wanted a change, a new place to experience. So she picked one, made the arrangements and was ready to leave… until the night she went to her friend’s going away party and met him. Now here she was, in a coffee shop with At Last echoing in the speakers, explaining to her friend that yes, she might be crazy but it felt right. She would stay and see what happened.

One step at a time.

Shocked by the life-altering stick she held in front of her, she sank to the ground. Steeled against almost anything, this was the one thing she had not expected. Shaken to her very core, she burst into tears. She had plans, they had plans, this was not supposed to be what happened next. When the door opened, she looked up at him and sobbed once again. He sank down next to her, gathered her in his arms, and told her that he loved her. Confident and sure, he knew what to do next.

One step at a time.

Feeling alone and trying to be a new mom, she hated this place. She missed the warmth of the south, the familiarity of her house, the comfort of friends. She resented the place, despised the weather, and just wanted to go home. Months of frustration poured out of her as she once again found herself sobbing. He assured her they would make it through this.

One step at a time.

Filled with all-consuming fear, she gripped his hands as they waited for an update. Confined by needles and machines, strapped into place with monitors, they listened to their baby girl’s heartbeat thump along. Only 33 weeks along, the doctors were doing everything they could to avoid having to deliver this baby. Sheer terror like nothing she had never known filled her as she looked into his eyes. He told her to rest and they would get through this.

One step at a time.

She walked through the lobby doors, her heels clicking against the marble floor. A child on each hand, they checked their coats and greeted the host. With a smile, he led them to their table, overlooking resplendent mountains and streaming water. Settling the kids, the host turned as he saw the other man approach. He told him that he had a beautiful family and wished them a happy anniversary. To which the man replied “thank you and to many more”.

One step at a time.
If you are not already, please go follow Ashley at Another Mom of 2.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?

My boys are on Spring Break this week. Yesterday, we had two carsick pukers and a very busy day at the zoo.  Trying to fit in work while enjoying the time with my boys. So, today, one of my dearest blog friends is helping me out with a guest post. Meet Natalie of Mommy of a Monster.
Mommy of a Monster

It was a normal morning - eight o'clock, kids already going 100 miles per hour, and me just trying to have a cup of coffee without getting it spilled all over me by the kids that continually jump all over me when I least expect it.

Not the kind of morning when I was expecting an epiphany, that's for sure.

There's a little back story that you'll need to know to appreciate what I'm going to tell you: Ethan, my three year old son, has the most wonderful habit; he continuously tells me that he loves me. At the grocery store, while watching TV, playing at the park, in the bathtub...wherever he is and whatever he's doing, he will stop and come to tell me that several times.

Now I'll admit that sometimes I'll hear him say "Mommy?" and I'll get irritated. Because really? Another question? He's at the age where he asks at least 100,000 questions a day. So I'll say "What Ethan?" clearly irritated, and all he'll say is "I love you" or sometimes "I love you to the moon and back" or on a rare occasion, "I love you more"...which is what I tell him all the time.

So back to our normal morning. The kids are playing/fighting and I'm (trying to) drink coffee.

Ethan, for the 87th time in the hour he's been up: Mommy?

Me: What Ethan?

Ethan: I love you.

Me: I love you more, buddy.

Ethan: Mommy?

Me: (Sighing) What Ethan?

Ethan: When I grow up, I want to be a fisher-pole man.

Me: You want to be a fisherman?

Ethan: Yeah, and catch fish on the boat.

Me: That's good buddy, you can be anything you want when you grow up.

Not that there's anything wrong with him wanting to be a fisherman, but honestly, I have higher hopes. Something that would make him lots of money...maybe a doctor. Or maybe an honorable job like becoming a teacher. Or maybe something exotic, like a dive master in the Caribbean. That's really what I was thinking as I told him he could be a fisherman.

And that's when I had the epiphany: what if he really decides to become a fisherman?

What if he decides to fish for lobster or crabs and he has to move to Maine and work on the dangerous fishing boats that go out for months at a time and I will have no contact with him to know if he's dead or alive? And what if he has a family and has children of his own that I just get to see a few times a year because he lives in Maine and we live in California? And he's going to grow up, and I'm not going to be the most important person in his life anymore...there will come a time when he won't even like me when he's a teenager, and then he'll get into his 20's and realize that I was right most of the time when I told him all those things when he was a teenager and he'll like me again, but I still won't hear from him every day because he'll be living his life and doing his own thing. And he'll have a wife! And his wife will be closer to her family and mother and want to spend holidays and vacations with them and I will be the mother-in-law and she might like me, or maybe she'll just put up with me and roll her eyes when she talks about "Ethan's mom". Or maybe they will move away and lose touch and I'll never even know my grandchildren!

That's how my brain works.

But here's one thing I know for sure after having the epiphany that he's going to grow up and leave the nest someday: I need to cherish and respect every single time he tells me he loves me right now. Because someday, I am not going to get to hear those words multiple times every day.

And that? Makes my heart break a little every time I think about it.

Oh, ouch. I can't count the number of times that one of my boys says Mommy? And I snap WHAT? But, they are only little for a little while.  I love Natalie's view on this- I needed the reminder. Make sure you are following Mommy of a Monster for more posts like this!


Monday, April 25, 2011

Give ME the Best of You

My boys have Spring Break this week, so my dear friend MommaKiss is helping me out today with a guest post. MommaKiss was a BFF back this fall and if you missed out on meeting her back then, you are really missing out! It was love at first bloggy-sight for us.

I wrote this a while ago – and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. The back story:

It was my day to drop off at daycare. I basically tossed Lil Kiss into his room (little mofo doesn't even say good bye to me anymore) and then got Big Kiss all nestled in. He sat at his little chair at the table with his name on the placemat and ate his bagel. I went to put his lunch in the fridge.

His BFF JoeBunny (Giovanny) always says Hi to me and then we fist bump and BLOW IT UP! And then his other BFF, HacoBeeno (the puerto rican jew) asks to “blow it up, too?”

So me and the 3 boys are doing blow up bumps and one of Big Kiss' room aides says "You are the funnest mom ever."

I heard her, but pretended I didn't and said "excuse me?"

And she said it again ;)

I could have kissed her!

Instead I said - "Awww, thanks. You know, it's either have some fun or fit me for a straight jacket!"


That was a couple of years ago. I still hear it once in a while. I’m still told that my kids are well behaved and have great manners. But when they’re with me? Like just alone with me at home or in the grocery store? They can be total jerks. I can’t help but wonder if someone else is getting the best of them. Their teachers, their friends, strangers. I’m left with the bad cop crap. The discipline and yelling. The sass talk. The stomping tantrums. I want to be a funnest mom and get some of the laughs and smiles – at home – when it’s just us. When’s that going to happen? Let me tell ya, I could use some fun with my boys right now! In the meantime, I’ll just keep praying they spare some of their fun for me – and keep on keepin’ on. Not much choice, now is there.

I can relate, can you? Don't forget to follow MommaKiss if you don't already.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

Hope y'all are having a wonderful weekend with your families!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: My Crazy Busy Life

Sometimes, when you start reading someone's blog or talking to them on twitter, you just know: you'd so be IRL friends.  That is how I felt about this week's Blog Friend Feature: someone so easy to talk to and a real sweetheart....even if we both might occasionally have our moments when we aren't so sweet. Shhh, that's just between us.

I met Natalie from My Crazy Busy Life at Blissdom and I know that you will adore her as much as I do!

When I got the email from Shell asking me to be her newest BFF, I literally jumped for joy. I’ve been a fan of hers for awhile now and was lucky enough to meet her at Blissdom. She is one of th
e sweetest and nicest girls. Plus, she’s a ton of fun on the dance floor.

Like Shell, I’m also a mom of 3 and I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned along the way about the various stages of motherhood.

Baby 1: Rushing the Progress
With my first baby, I was young and inexperienced. I had no clue what I was doing, but I couldn’t wait for my sweet little boy to get bigger and older.

When would he crawl? Talk? Walk? I couldn’t wait for him to play sports, start school and be a big kid.

Baby 2: Ignorance is Bliss
Baby number two was not much different than baby one. They’re only two years apart so many of their infant and toddler phases are one big blur. I couldn’t wait for the new bundle of joy to sleep through the night, get potty trained, be able to play with his big brother. I wanted them both to share toys, read books and enjoy each other.

Baby 3: Slow & Steady Win the Race
This time, I was older and wiser- as wise as one can be at the ripe age of 26. By this point, I had been at the mommy game for 8 years and felt like I had FINALLY learned a thing or two about how to wrangle a baby.

Instead of wishing for time to speed up, I wanted to slow it down. When my daughter would wake in the middle of the night, I snuggled a sweet newborn. I dreaded the day she sat on her own because I knew it was the beginning of many milestones leading to her independence. When she started walking and talking, I cried because I knew it was only a matter of time before she would be starting school.

Like the two boys before her, my daughter reached all of the same milestones quickly: Crawling, walking, talking. The boys are now playing sports, going to school, best of friends and get along great (on most days).

Many of my friends are now starting their families and I hear them voice many of the same wishes I myself had in the beginning. I simply smile and remember how I couldn’t wait for my babies to be big kids and the difference a few years of experience made. I managed to go from wanting them to grow to wanting them stay little forever in such a short time. I learned to savor each moment. They change and grow in what seems like a blink of an eye.

Fleur Di Dee Blog Designs

Please leave Natalie some comment love here and then go follow My Crazy Busy Life.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 Celebrity Don'ts

When I saw one of Mama Kat's Writers Workshop prompts for this week was to create a list of 10 celebrity don'ts, I knew I had to join in.  There are days when I sit at my computer, shaking my head at the celebrity nonsense that I see as I'm looking for stories for my job. 

So, here's my list of celebrity stupidity: you can click the links to see the full story on these celebrity don'ts. Yes, I wrote all those posts about celebrity nonsense and yes, some days, I feel like I'm losing brain cells for just knowing some of this stuff. ;)

1. Don't have your kids star in a reality tv show and then complain that the paparazzi won't respect their privacy like Kate Gosselin did. If you missed the fight with the paps the other night, you can watch it here.

2.  Don't wear a baggy outfit or forget to suck in your gut or someone will accuse you of being pregnant.

3.  Don't lie and say you aren't pregnant when you really are.

4.  Don't put Kate Moss's quote of "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" on baby clothing.

5.  Don't have a baby at 95. Just DON'T.

6.  Don't say the terrible twos aren't real.

7.  Don't have another baby just to stay in the reality tv spotlight.

8.  Don't tweet out that breastfeeding in public is disgusting.

9. Don't get a maternity concierge for your pregnancy.

10. Don't spend a million dollars on a baby nursery.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: After That Day

If you have never visited Pour Your Heart Out before, see THIS post for more information- but it's personal- it's what YOU think is pouring your heart out. Please grab the PYHO button or link back in your post if you are participating.

Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)

Also, the linky is what you make of it- if you link up a Pour Your Heart Out post, please make an effort to visit some of the other linkers. And even if you don't link up, visit a link or two to find some new blogs to read! Tips to make the most of a linky.


April 20, 1999: Twelve years ago today, I was student teaching in a third grade classroom.  In a tiny little town that it took me about 30 minutes and 4 wrong turns to get to every weekday.  I don't think I could find the town today without a Garmin directing me there, let alone be able to find the small school.

I was weeks away from earning my teaching degree.  Feeling that I had chosen the right profession, that teaching was it for me.

And then we got the news.

A school shooting at Columbine.  Thirteen were killed and the two gunmen killed themselves.  Twenty-four more injured.

In a small town.  Whether it was the result of bullying or depression or the violent influence of society: the questions still haven't really been answered.

But, it happened.

Parents sent their children to school, thinking it was safe.  Teachers went to work, thinking it was safe.  And it wasn't safe.

A tragedy.  One that could happen anywhere.

The following week, my mentor teacher returned to the classroom as I was singing a multiplication facts song with the class and quietly locked and shut the door.  She waited until we finish singing the song and announced that we are going to have a special reading time.  Get your book and go sit in the reading area... an area sectioned off by bookshelves that isn't visible from the door or the windows.

I glanced out the windows at the high school across the street.  Beside the high school: a huge wooded area.  I could see police officers wearing body armor and helmets, carrying large guns, slowly making their way through these woods.

I tried not to give away what I saw, so as not to alarm the 3rd graders.

We crowded in the reading area, attempting to keep the kids quiet, not sure what was going on.

Later, we find out:  someone had threatened to make that school the next Columbine.  Threats had to be taken seriously.  Thankfully, it was an empty threat and no one was injured.

Columbine was not the first school shooting and it hasn't been the last.  But, it's the one that forever changed the way we think about school safety.

It burst our bubbles of thinking that schools were safe.

Sending our kids to school became something we had to think about.  Being a teacher no longer sounded like a safe choice.  Everything changed after that day.

Because if it could happen in Columbine, it could happen anywhere.

I wrote a different kind of post about Columbine last year: Hope Lost.

Take a moment to remember the families whose lives were forever changed 12 years ago today.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tell Me Why I Should Use Foursquare

You realize that I'm a seriously paranoid person, right?

I don't like to give out the name of my exact town.  I never mention the names of my boys' schools.  We have a P.O. box in a nearby town for when I need to give my address for something blog-related.  My husband often travels for work, though I usually don't mention when he's out of town until he's about to come back.

So, the idea of turning on my location for my tweets or using Foursquare freaks me out.

Like I said, I'm paranoid.  So, advertising exactly where I am makes me nervous.

I've heard people say that they only "check in" somewhere on Foursquare when they are about to leave.

But, a problem that I see with that is let's say I check in at Target on my way out the door. Okay, no harm done. Except that anyone can now see what town I live in.  And the next time I'm headed to Target, I'll probably tweet something like "Will not get sucked in to Target's Dollar Spot this time. #willpower"

And then some stalker will think Oh, she's going to Target. I know what Target she's going to. I'll hide out in my kidnapper van and grab one of her kids when she comes out.

Stop laughing at me.

I realize I'm paranoid. And a kidnapper would probably give my kids back after 5 minutes anyway.

Still. I can't get over the idea that Foursquare gives out more information than I'm comfortable with.

But, I was also a Facebook holdout for a long time.  And I resisted Twitter.  Even though I'm still not a huge fan of Facebook, I am on there. And I'm addicted to Twitter. @shellthings in case we aren't following each other on there yet.

And I've heard that Foursquare will be like that at some point- something that everyone is on. Are you on Foursquare?  Why or why not?

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Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Get Your Kids to Let You Sleep In

My kids have some sort of internal alarm clock that will wake them up at some inhumane hour each morning, regardless of when they go to bed.

Maybe when they are teenagers, I will be yelling at them to wake up at noon. But, for right now, by noon, they've been up so long that I start wondering if it's wine o'clock dinnertime yet.  On school days, this isn't such a bad thing- we're able to get out the door on time as long as I stay off twitter until after drop-off.

But, on the weekends, I want to sleep in. So much so that we usually go to church on Saturday nights instead of Sunday mornings.

The boys don't see any reason to sleep in, though. And this mama wants needs some extra beauty sleep.

Most mornings, the boys come running into our room, LOUD and asking for breakfast. But, I've found there are a few tricks to keep them out of our room and quiet, at least for a little while.

1. Let them know the night before that there are donuts or something equally as yummy and forbidden for breakfast the next morning.  They will be little silent ninjas, trying to eat as many of the treats as they possibly can before one of their brothers finds them and they have to share or we find them and make them stop.

2.  Set out paint or glue and glitter or playdoh on the kitchen table for them to play with.  They'll be too busy making a gigantic mess to wake me up.

3.  Leave my iPhone sitting somewhere where they will easily find it.  Angry Birds, Monkey Preschool Lunch Box, Bubble Bust, and Word Bingo are their current obsessions. Or, if that fails, even my 2 year-old knows how to FaceTime their uncle.

4.  Put the tv on one of their channels so that when they turn it on, a show might hypnotize them for a little while. I rarely let them watch Cartoon Network, so if that is the channel I leave the tv on, that works best.

5.  Lock the bedroom door and invest in earplugs.

Or maybe I should just give up and become a morning person. What are mornings like in your house?

I was interviewed over at Wonder Woman Wannabe- go check it out!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hunt's Healthy Living and A Delicious Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

As much as I sometimes like to resort to "convenience meals," I worry about my family's health and like to do some cooking from scratch.

After checking the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and reading about the benefits of tomatoes, I learned a few things. Did you know that there is a relationship between consuming tomatoes and tomato products with reduced risk of certain cancers, heart disease, ultraviolet light-induced skin damage, osteoporosis, and other conditions?

Tomatoes are good for your heart, too. They are low in calories, but rich in nutrients like potassium, fiber and the antioxidant lycopene.  The lycopene in canned tomatoes, like Hunt’s, is easier for your body to use than from raw tomatoes, and you get seven times more lycopene from canned tomatoes than from the raw version. I thought this was really interesting, since I usually think of fresh being the best.

Because there is a history of heart disease in my husband's family, when I was asked by Hunt's and The Motherhood to create a recipe using Hunt's products, I thought I would dedicate the meal to my husband.

One thing I've never tried to make is a homemade spaghetti sauce.  I've always just grabbed whatever jar of sauce looked the best or what was on sale.  But, I thought I would try to make a sauce using Hunt's tomato products.

Because I've never made a sauce before, my friend Ashley from Just Another Mom of 2 shared her recipe with me.  I followed her recipe with her notes, except that I used about 1 cup of fresh portabella mushrooms instead of canned.

1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) Hunts diced tomatoes with juice
2-4 cans Hunts tomato paste (I used one large & one small to get my desired consistency) & equal amount water
1 cup red wine
1-2 chopped green bell peppers
1 small can sliced mushrooms
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper (all seasonings can be adjusted to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

First, saute some chopped onion and a clove of minced garlic in some butter or olive oil, about 2 minutes or until you see the onions start to turn translucent. I like to season the ground beef with an Italian seasonings grinder or some similar combination, and then brown the meat. Combine the remaining ingredients in the crockpot; add browned meat and mix well. Cover and cook on low about 7-8 hours.

The result? Delicious! This made enough for a meal for my family of 5, with leftovers for another meal. I'd have a hard time going back to using a jarred sauce after this.

What is your favorite recipe using tomatoes?

I am working with Hunt's and The Motherhood  on this sponsored post. Tomato facts were provided to me and I am receiving a stipend for this post.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Freschetta Review and Giveaway

My boys are pretty predictable when it comes to their lunch choices: their variety usually comes from their dinner.

But, what if I don't want what they want for lunch? Freschetta By the Slice pizza is a great option!  You can make this single serving pizza in the microwave in just minutes.

And unlike other microwave pizzas I've tried, Freschetta's crust stays crispy.  I tried the Chicken, Spinach and Mushroom slice and it was so... well... FRESH.  The cheese was especially good: gooey and delicious.

Freschetta By the Slice also comes in BBQ Recipe Chicken, Vegetable Medley, and Six Cheese Medley.  I plan on stocking up on these for those times when it's just me who needs a meal.

Giveaway: Freschetta is giving one of you a chance to win a coupon for Freschetta By the Slice, as well as a three piece storage set.

To enter: If your email is not visible in your profile, you must leave it with your entries. US Only.  Giveaway will close on 4/21 at 9pm ET and winner will be notified via email.  Winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

First entry: Leave a comment telling me your favorite kind of pizza (mine is mushroom, onion, and green pepper)

Additional entries: Please leave a separate comment for each entry.
*Like Freschetta on facebook
*Follow @Freschettapizza on twitter and leave your username
*Follow Things I Can't Say (GFC, twitter @shellthings, or facebook- can be done in my sidebar)

Freschetta Pizza sent me products for review, but all opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed and the winner is #193.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: I'm Living Proof God Has a Sense of Humor

The first time I read a post by this week's BFF, I had to stop myself from sounding like a total stalker and asking her where she lived and if we could please have a playdate.  Because I just knew we would get along. We could let our pack of children run wild while we complained about how freaking hard motherhood is, without having to sugarcoat and qualify our complaints with "oh, but I love them" because we would know what the other meant.

Helene from I'm Living Proof God Has a Sense of Humor is a mom of two sets of twins.  She is one of my absolute favorites of all time because of her realistic view on motherhood. I just know you are going to love her, too.

When I opened up Shell’s e-mail with the subject title of “BFF”, I have to admit I squealed with delight. Seriously, I did.

I think I even wrote her back something like, “OMG, really?! I’m SO honored!” Never mind that I sounded more like a 90210 drop out than I did a 42-year old married mother of 4. People never believe me when I tell them I’m in my 40’s…it probably has to do more with my immaturity than my youthful appearance. And I’m cool with that.

I’ve been an admirer and loyal follower of Shell’s for quite some time now so of course I was flattered that she’d want to include me among her list of BFF’s. Initially, her blog title is what roped me in…”Things I Can’t Say”. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

Truth be told, I have the opposite problem. I’m more like a “Things I Shouldn’t Say” kind of person. I tend to be sarcastic with a dark sense of humor. And, sure, I can be a little mouthy sometimes. Let’s put it this way, as a young child, I fantasized that Roseanne Barr was my mother. I idolized that lady like no one’s business…and still do.

When my husband and I first began dating, I tried to keep my true colors hidden because I wanted to impress him instead of sending him running for the hills. I’d smile politely if the waitress got my order wrong, I’d grind my teeth silently if another driver cut us off…basically, my blood pressure was alarmingly high on most occasions when we would spend time together.

Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer. As we were strolling outside the mall one day, a lady walked right into me. She didn’t say excuse me, no “forgive me”…nothing, just acted like I wasn’t even there.

My temper got the best of me and I shouted, “Excuse YOU! Did you NOT see me standing here?!” Tim thought there was going to be a throw-down right there on the spot. He’s one of the most non-confrontational people I know so all this commotion felt a little foreign to him.

Fast forward to the present time, I’d like to think that he’s more appreciative of my outspokenness. Although at times, I can see him cowering as he recognizes the physical signs that I’m about to blow a gasket…fists tightly clenched, eyes about to pop out of my head…it’s not a pretty sight, let me tell you.

I am that one person who has no problem putting a person in his place if he has the nerve to gawk at my kids while they have a tantrum at the store, as if my children just landed here from Mars and he’s never seen quite a sight before. Just like I remind my kids that it’s not polite to stare at people who wear pants three sizes too small, who pick their noses in public or who act like they’re holier than thou as they rudely stare at an exhausted mother whose children are acting like…uh, say, children.

If you just happen to be strolling by our home, you’re likely to hear me hurling the following statements at my kids:

"I don't care if you think it's fair or not. Do you ever hear me complaining that the Lucky Charms leprechaun refuses to tell me where his pot of gold is? NO, you don't, do you? So quit your griping!"

“Isn't there a plant in someone's yard that you guys can dig up so I can read my book in peace and quiet?"

"Here's the phone...why don't you call the Wicked Witch of the West and tell her how horrible I am for making you clean up the milk you just spilled?! Maybe she'll take you back to her castle, bake you a batch of cookies and force her flying monkeys to dance for you."

With that said, though, I do have a pleasant side. I don’t want any of you thinking I’m flinging cell phones at random people or gouging anyone’s eyeballs out. And I’m not running down the street, making absolutely no sense and yelling crap like “winning” at stunned passersby.

I just wish my family could appreciate my humor and sarcasm more. Like when we were driving to Disneyland recently and one of the kidlets fell asleep. When he woke up and asked what ride I wanted to go on first after we arrived at our destination, I couldn’t help myself...the darkness took over.

I answered, “Huh? We’re on our way home! Did you sleep through our ENTIRE vacation?!” He began to cry, as my husband accused me of being incredibly mean.

Can’t a mom just have a little fun? Last time I checked it wasn’t a crime.

Or is it?

Because the idea of being locked up in solitary confinement doesn’t sound too shabby…along with 3 meals I didn’t have to cook, clean clothes that I didn’t have to wash or iron, no one else to look out for but myself. Sign me up, people.

I do realize there may come a time when my family will not know whether I’m being serious or not…and the consequences could be dire.

Like, say, one day, I’m stuffing cookies down my throat at a speed that would make Jillian Michael’s have a freakin’ coronary and I begin to choke….or I fall down the stairs and twist my ankle. I imagine myself begging for help, only to have my kids look at me with blank stares and then say, “Oh, she’s just being sargentic again…come on, guys, let’s go play outside until Daddy gets home from work”.

They can’t even pronounce “sarcastic” properly, for God’s sake.

What’s a mother to do?

I'm Living Proof That God has a Sense of Humor

See, you love her, don't you? Please leave Helene some comment love here and then go follow her fabulous blog if you don't already.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Totally Useless Presents

You've probably received a gift at least once where you look at it and think WHAT THE HECK AM I GOING TO DO WITH THIS?

Maybe the gift giver's heart was in the right place or maybe they just grabbed the first thing they could find in the store or in their closet.

My most recent totally useless present came from my boys: MIL likes to take them shopping at Christmastime and let them pick out presents for me and Hubs. It's a cute idea.

And really, the present could have been a good one.

My 6 year-old said that Mommy always loses her keys, so a key finder would be a perfect present. This is true. Whenever we have to go somewhere, I'm always asking where my keys are.

So why am I calling this a totally useless present?

Do you know how this key finder works?

You whistle and it beeps.

I have never been able to whistle. Not even a little bit.

Whistle key finder + person who can't whistle = totally useless present.

I can't be the only one something like this has happened to- share your totally useless (or just plain BAD) present story in the comments!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: The End of Day Crankies

If you have never visited Pour Your Heart Out before, see THIS post for more information- but it's personal- it's what YOU think is pouring your heart out. Please grab the PYHO button or link back in your post if you are participating.

Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)

Also, the linky is what you make of it- if you link up a Pour Your Heart Out post, please make an effort to visit some of the other linkers. And even if you don't link up, visit a link or two to find some new blogs to read! Tips to make the most of a linky.


By the end of the day, I just want to be left alone.

Maybe not every day, but a lot of them.

Running here, running there.  Working, taking care of the kids, taking care of the house.

I'm tired and cranky.

Bedtime is not a sweet event. It's rushed and routine, to get the kids in bed quickly so that this mama can get a break.

Let out a big sigh of relief that another day is done and I can sit down.

But, then, I get precious reminders of exactly what is going on around me. Exactly what I might be missing by rushing through my days too much.

My oldest puts off going to bed by insisting on giving me just one more kiss goodnight and asking for me to sit beside him and read him a story.

My youngest wakes up from a nighmare, crying.  He gives me what he calls a "squeeeeeze," which is an extra cuddly hug.

My middle son makes his way down to our room in the middle of the night and wants to sleep in our bed, while making sure that he is holding my hand.

At the end of a long day, I could look at these things as annoyances. Can't a mama get a break?

But, then I take a good look at my boys. 

My oldest is getting so big.  How much longer will he want to kiss his mama and cuddle up with me on the couch to read a book?

My "baby" will soon be three.  He's so independent.  He wants to do all the things his big brothers do.

And how much longer can I have a sweet little boy holding my hand, all snuggled up in bed? How long until that is just not cool any more?

My boys are all growing up so fast. These moments aren't going to last forever.  By the time they are all teenagers, they'll still love their mama of course they will but they won't need me in the same little boy ways that they do now.

So, I'll put aside my end-of-the-day crankiness and smile at those little faces and welcome those small arms reaching for me.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Don't Mess With Sweet Valley and Crush My Childhood Dreams

Some things from my childhood are sacred.

And should not be messed with.

Like the memory of my pegged jeans and Guess slouch socks.

New Kids on the Block.

And Sweet Valley High. How I loved those books.  I always tossed a few of those in my ultra-cool bright pink Benetton bag.

Ahhhh, memories.

So, when I heard there was a new Sweet Valley book coming out, where twins Jessica and Elizabeth were all grown-up, I was so excited. Sweet Valley Confidential, oh yes, how I wanted to read it.

I bought it for my Kindle on Sunday afternoon and curled up on the couch to read it.  Oh, scandal, scandal, scandal.

But, wait.  Like why is like the word "like" used in like every other sentence? And the Sweet Valley girls saying the F-bomb? No, no, no.

It wasn't like this.

Even leaving out the f-words, which I guess is how the book is for "grown-ups" now, the stories weren't this bad, were they?

I'm afraid to go back and read any of the old Sweet Valley High books, for fear it would burst my fuzzy memories bubble.

Is there anything from your childhood that you've had experience with as an adult where it just doesn't seem the same any more?


Monday, April 11, 2011

Public VS Private School: A Decision I Never Thought I'd Make

Before my boys were born, I was a public school teacher.  A big believer that the biggest difference in a child's school experience comes from the parents: if  child has an involved parent and the family values education, then you can have a positive experience at almost any school.

I still do believe that. 

But, it's not as simple as that.

My Bear will be old enough to go to kindergarten in the fall.  We had gone back and forth over the decision to send him or wait a year, since he will still be a young 5.

At this point, we think we're going to send him.  His teacher always says how smart he is- it's not a matter of academic-readiness, it's a matter of emotional and behavioral.  While some of these concerns are probably normal for any boy his age, our biggest concerns are the complications he has from lead poisoning.

Will he be okay in a public school classroom?

One that might very well be over-crowded, like my oldest's was at the beginning of this year- he started the year with almost 30 kindergarteners in his class.  That lasted about a month or so, until they added another kindergarten teacher.  But, a month is a long time and the first month of school is such a crucial one for a child's adjustment to school.

Will they be able to give him the special assistance that he needs? While there is a special education program at the school, how quickly he would be serviced and if it would be enough have me concerned.

Sometimes a mama has to go with her gut and my gut is telling me that my Bear would drown in the public kindergarten.

So, we are looking at the Christian school, where he would be in a small class.  We're also looking at the Montessori school, with its child-centered approach.

I've realized that just like the rest of the choices that we've had to make for our children, it's not really about a generalization like "Public schools are the way to go!" but about what each individual child needs.

Do you send your children to public or private school? How did you make that choice?

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

E-Mealz.com Meal Planning Review and Giveaway

With three little boys who already eat like they are teenagers, I really have to meal plan: trying to stretch our grocery budget and come up with meals that they would like. There's no such thing as just going to the grocery store and grabbing some things for dinner.

But, it was a long process for me: looking for recipes I wanted to make that week, then writing out a grocery list, then crossing off items after I checked my pantry, then rewriting the list according to how items are grouped together in the store to make my shopping trip a little faster.

It worked for us, but it was very time-consuming. I kept thinking I should try a meal-planning service, but I never got around to it.  But, then, I was asked by E-mealz.com to try their meal-planning service.  My verdict:

Make Time For Family - E-Mealz Blog

E-Mealz has over 20 meal plans to choose from for families ranging in size from 2-6.  There are low-carb, low fat, point system, vegetarian, and G-free meal plans, as well as being able to choose from menus based on different grocery stores.

We tried the Walmart Family Plan first.  The grocery list was all ready for me, with notes as to what meals each item was for.  I did shop my pantry first to see if there was anything that I could cross off.  The list was organized by sections of the store and gave the prices, with a total, so that I knew how much I should plan to spend for these seven meals.

According to the shopping list, my total should have been $74.88 and I spent $82.93.  I think I substituted a few brand-new items instead of using a generic recommended.  But, less than $83 for seven meals was still a great deal.  Plus, we had plenty of leftovers, so this actually stretched into more like 12 meals for us.

As for the recipes themselves, they were very easy to make: the directions for all 7 meals fit on one printed page(some weeks' plans take a page and a half). I hung the plans on my fridge for easy reference.

It was so nice not to worry about what was for dinner or if I had everything that I needed.  I also tried the vegetarian menu, as we like to have a few meatless meals each week.  The low-carb menu has a mix of these choices, too.

I wish I hadn't waited so long to try a meal planning service- E-Mealz really did make this process so easy!

GIVEAWAY: One of you will win a 3 month subscription to E-mealz!  Giveaway will close on 4/16 at 9pm ET and winner will be notified via email. If your email is not visible in your profile, you must leave it with your entries. Giveaway winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

FIRST ENTRY: Visit E-Mealz and leave a comment telling me what meal plan you would like to try.

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES: Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

*Visit the E-Mealz blog and tell me one thing you learned.

*Follow @emealz on twitter and leave your username

*Like E-Mealz on facebook and leave your username

*Follow Things I Can't Say (one entry total, but may be GFC, facebook, or twitter)

I was given the opportunity to try E-mealz in exchange for my honest opinion.

This giveaway is now closed. The winner is #29 VandyJ.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: Four Plus an Angel

I was completely drawn in to this week's Blog Friend Feature from my very first visit to her blog. Because in each of her posts, you really see her heart: the struggles she has gone through and the joy that she manages to find in the every day.  She's a total sweetheart and today, you get to see a lighter side of her.

Meet Jessica from Four Plus an Angel:

This happens to be the end of Spring Break week for us, thank goodness. The joys of balancing the interests of a teenager with the needs of toddlers, is making my eyes cross.

In honor of this week coming to an end and being Shell’s BFF, I am going to go against my usual, “appreciate the little things” attitude to share the following list:

The Little Things that I Do Not Appreciate Since Having Children

1.  My butt- The only reason my behind falls into the “little things” category is because it has completely disappeared. What used to be perky and hold up my back pockets now requires more working out than I care to do to lift up.

2.  Sick days- The amount of sick days a mom gets is so small that there are actually none. I don’t remember this being explained after the “if you see two pink lines…” directions on any pregnancy test.

3.  Tiny print- I now can’t see. I used to have great vision but now, as soon as the font is under 14 I have to go get my glasses or at least scrunch up my face and lean my head way back in order to read, creating more wrinkles than I am already sprouting.

4.  My boobs- Similar to number one, after being pregnant or breastfeeding for four years straight I was under the illusion that my boobs may stay the size of my youngest son’s head but sadly, that was not the case.

5.  Three year-old bladders- Actually I’m not sure it is that their bladders are small or that they just have no desire to get to the bathroom as many times a day as necessary to empty them. Either way, cleaning up pee all day was not in my magical stay-at-home-mom vision.

6.  Sleep- There was a time when I worried whether or not I had gotten eight hours of sleep a night. Now I worry if I have run out of my concealer that could cover up a tattoo because the bags under my eyes could attract a raccoon.

7.  Shower time- I really think I could win some type of Olympic medal for the speed at which I can shower. Do you know how many bathroom cupboards can be emptied and how many rolls of toilet paper unrolled during a 10 minute shower?

8.  Crayons, markers, colored pencils, chalk- If you can draw with it, my children treat it as a concealed weapon, pulling it out only when I am otherwise occupied, to decorate my walls with self-portraits.

9.  Anything small enough to fit in a toilet- If it is little enough to fit in the bowl my children have already tried it and I have either already fished it out or called my husband in amazement to let him know that, in fact, our toilet did have the power to suck it down.

10.  My paycheck- I don’t get one so $0 is fairly small. Actually I take that back, I am paid with kisses and hugs and a million memories of my children growing up that I wouldn’t trade for all the big things in the world.

Please leave Jessica some comment love here and then go follow Four Plus an Angel if you don't already.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easy Old Navy Summer Dress Giveaway: 2 Winners- Announced Tomorrow!

This giveaway is NOW CLOSED! Y'all are fabulous. The comments were completely cracking me up. I need to do a best of list!

The winners are:
#197 daisygal
#121 KLZ

We need to do another one of these sometime- thanks for playing along!

My #SITSLettingGo post

It's been a rough week around here.  My two year old came down with Scarlatina aka Scarlet Fever aka strep throat with a nasty rash. My 4 and 6 year olds both have strep. And they are all home with me today because they are still contagious until tomorrow. They are actually feeling better- running around like maniacs, in fact. But, they are walking germballs, so I can't take them anywhere today. Stuck. In. The. House. With. Three. Active. Boys. And. Can't. Leave.

But, you, my dear readers, get to benefit from my misery.

Because I've decided that today would be a super fabulous day to take it easy.

I have two Old Navy coupons for a summer dress of your choice to give away: any women's summer dress valued at a regular price of $34.94 or less. Yes, that's a weird number. I'm just quoting the back of the coupon. The coupons also say US Only.  And that they are valid in-store, not online.

I live in sundresses in the summer. So that I can pretend like I'm put together, when really, I just like being comfortable in the heat and love how easy it is to get ready if all I need to do is throw on a dress and flip flops. I heart this little black sundress. And yes, it's under that weird $34.94.

I was sent these coupons from Crowdtap and I have to share them as a Old Navy Style Council member. Not get myself multiple sundresses(I am getting myself one, but that's it). But, they don't care HOW I share them.

So, I decided to share them with you, my wonderful readers. The coupons are only valid until 4/22, so I need to get these in the mail soon.

Ready for this easy giveaway?

Mandatory Entry: Follow Things I Can't Say  This can be GFC, facebook(which you can do right in my sidebar with one click), or twitter @shellthings .  Follow in more than one way and I'll really love you, but only one is required.

Additional entries: I said easy, right? I am going to take my dear friend MommaKiss's idea and let each of your comments count as an entry. Leave comments to your heart's content. About whatever you feel like talking about it....but you know, you probably shouldn't leave nasty comments.  And then come back later and leave more. However many you want.

Giveaway will close at midnight ET. Two winners will be selected by random.org and announced tomorrow.  Because there is a time limit on these coupons, winners will have 12 hours to reply to my email with your mailing address or new winners will be selected.

Easy enough? Happy commenting!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: Not a Spoiled Child

If you have never visited Pour Your Heart Out before, see THIS post for more information- but it's personal- it's what YOU think is pouring your heart out. Please grab the PYHO button or link back in your post if you are participating.

Again, just a brief reminder that everyone linking is pouring their hearts out and we should all be respectful in our comments. ;)

Also, the linky is what you make of it- if you link up a Pour Your Heart Out post, please make an effort to visit some of the other linkers. And even if you don't link up, visit a link or two to find some new blogs to read! Tips to make the most of a linky.


A couple weeks ago, my 4 year-old, Bear, was about to have Spring Preschool Picture Day. In caps because this was important to him. They would get to hold a baby bunny for these pics.

I mistakenly thought the pics were a week earlier than they actually were. So did a few other parents, so I'm convinced that somewhere, we'd seen the date posted as that day.  He had gone to school in a cute blue polo and khaki shorts, with new shoes. He was happy and ready.  But, my mama-fail prepared him for the wrong day.

Fast forward six days later: when he has a sticker on his shirt that says "I am having my picture taken on my next school day." For mamas like me who need these obvious reminders.

His teacher buckles him in and Bear turns to me with a huge grin on his face, informs me that he has pictures tomorrow and then says "I need a purple shirt for my pictures. Purple is my favorite."

To which I heaved a huge sigh.  Not that I have anything against purple on a little boy. But, he had never mentioned purple. And pics were the next day.

We got home and I showed him his blue shirt, "Look at this blue shirt! You love blue!"

And then he got that look on his face. That look I know so well. The one that says he is shutting down.

So, I resign myself to going on a purple shirt hunt after we pick up my oldest. Tweet something like "On a mission to find a purple shirt for my 4y/o who doesn't want to wear anything else for his pics tomorrow. Wish me luck." No luck at two stores I'd had hope for in the mall, no luck at Target. Tweeting out my frustration.

Purple polo shirt success finally achieved in Marshalls: beaming Bear carried the bag out of the store.

But, what I thought about...while some people replied to me on twitter about how I should make him wear the blue shirt.... and when I think about how you might be judging me right now for running around like a crazy woman just to find a shirt when he had one that was perfectly fine at home....

Are you judging? Do you think my child is spoiled?

Because I probably would think that. I have my judge-y moments, I admit.

Or, more accurately, I would have thought that. Before I had a child like my Bear.  Because if this had been my oldest insisting on a last minute color change in shirt for his pictures, I probably would have rolled my eyes, told him he had the blue one, and then turned back to my computer and ignored him. Issue over.

But, if you don't know my Bear, you don't know what he is like. He has various issues due to lead poisoning: complex issues that affect the way that he is able to process ideas and deal with emotions.

Sometimes, when things are "off," in comparison to how he would like them to be, he doesn't handle it well. Thankfully, this is usually in the small things. Like if Big Brother Monkey tries to sit in Bear's booster seat instead of his own.  Or if his socks are feeling weird and he doesn't want to wear them.  Or if he wants the pretzel goldfish instead of the cheddar ones to take to school as his snack. Or if he wants to wear a purple shirt instead of a blue one.

Little things. Things that honestly, don't upset our day. Big Brother should be in his own booster anyway. And if he gets stinky feet from not wearing socks, that's not a huge issue. Take the pretzel goldfish, they are right next to the cheddar ones. And I'll find a purple shirt.

Bear has a hard time expressing how he is feeling or if he can tell us that, he can't explain WHY feels that way.  He just wants us to get it. It's very frustrating for him and heartbreaking for us.

Bear has enough that he has to work to overcome.  So, if I can make things easier for him by going along with the small things that don't really matter in the grand scheme of life, I am going to do it.

I'm aware that everyone in his life is not going to be as accomodating. And when it comes down to something important or something that I can't be flexible about, well, there's nothing I can do about those things.

He does not get his way all the time or get everything he wants. He's not spoiled.  Is it fair that I might sometimes say "yes" to a request from him that I might say "no" to if it was coming from his brothers? No, it's not.

But, it's also not fair that things can be so damn hard for him.

And he does look adorable in his purple shirt.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Letting Go of the Pre-Baby Body Image

We women can be hard on ourselves, can't we? Trying for perfection.

But, none of us will ever get there. We'll just make ourselves crazy trying.

That notion of perfection is what was behind my poor body image. When I looked in the mirror, I didn't see what was really there: I just saw a body that is not the same as what it was pre-baby.

That image of what I used to look like kept haunting and taunting me, making it impossible to be able to see what I truly look like now. And it's time to let that go.

I need to let go of the idea that my body, after being through three pregnancies and breastfeeding three baby boys...not to mention aging over 7 years since I first got pregnant....will ever go back to exactly how it once was.

It's okay to workout, to eat right, and to try to get myself in better shape. In fact, that is a healthy thing.

But, to constantly compare my real mama body to that of twenty-something pre-kids me isn't healthy. 

So, I'm letting go of that pre-baby body image and embracing my new curves and softness.

Perfect? Nah, who needs that? But, I can be okay with who I am, mom curves and all.

For Women
The fabulous SITS Girls are doing a series on Letting Go. On Tuesday, you can click over there to see more details on their Women on the Move Channel. On Thursday, they will have a linky so that you can link up your own post about what you are letting go of. You can also follow along on twitter with #SITSLettingGo.  I hope that you will join in this wonderful community of women.

P.S. You don't really think I'm outside completely naked for this pic, do you? ;)

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Monday, April 4, 2011

How to Make the Most of a Blog Linky

Memes, linkies, linkys, Mr.Linky, McLinky, blog hops, blog party, whatever you want to call them: those tools that allow you to link up on others' blogs, with a post that you have written.

Are you guilty of linking and then complaining that it's not worth it because you don't get anything in return?

I'll tell you some hints on how to make the most of them!

First of all, before we even get started, make sure that YOU are following the rules for whatever linky you are joining in with. 
  • You should be linking directly to a particular post, not to your home page. That way, if someone follows the linky the next day or days later, they can find what post you meant to link.

  • Somewhere in the post, you should mention that you are participating in a link up- most have a button, but if you don't use that, you should at least include a text link back. Otherwise, it might not be obvious that you are joining in and the person managing the links might delete yours. Plus, it's good manners: the linky gives you traffic, you should give your readers a way to find it, too.

  • Make sure that you really are participating in what you are linking to: do not link a giveaway or a follow me post to something like MamaKat's Writer's Workshop or my Pour Your Heart Out. I do monitor and will delete those as spam.

Now that you have your post done and are linked up, here are some tips to make the most of a linky:

  • Try to link up as early in the day as you can. While I don't think you need to fight to be first, if you link at the end of the day, you aren't going to get as much traffic.

  • Do NOT just link and run. If you link and then do not visit anyone else, do not expect a ton of traffic.

  • Visit as many of the other linkers as you can. You can do this in any order that you want- you don't have to go in order.  Visit the ones after yours, visit the odd numbers, the evens, the ones that end in 3 or 4 or whatever number you choose.  For a huge linky like the Ultimate Blog Party,  where yes, I was like #574 to link up, I started visiting those directly above me and worked my way up. Then, I started visiting those who linked up after me.

  • Leave a thoughtful comment when you do visit. Saying "I'm stopping by from  Pour Your Heart Out, come visit me at ....." really doesn't do anything to encourage someone to visit you. A comment like that means you probably didn't read their post, so why should they go read yours?  We all want our words to be heard- show you've read theirs and they will be more likely to go read yours, too.

  • The same goes for if someone comments on your post from the linky- do not go to their blog and just say "Thanks for visiting my blog!" without reading their words.

  • You can mention where you are visiting from or thank someone for visiting your blog- but there should be more to your comment.

  • An exception might be if you are participating in a Follow Blog Hop. However, if you cannot find anything to say about that blog, then WHY are you following?

  • Don't get discouraged- some people do return visits and others don't.  But, the more that you try, the more likely that others will find you, too.
A blog linky is what you make of it!  They can be great places to find new blogs, but YOU have to be an active participant. There isn't a magic linky out there that will draw in tons of new readers without you doing any work.

Do you participate in linkies? Do you have any tips to add or stories to share?


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Partying with the UBP2011

It's time again for the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom.  The party goes until April 8th, so you can join in, too!

If you are new here from the party, I'm Shell and this is Things I Can't Say- all the things I probably shouldn't say outloud irl unless I want to be given grief from family and friends for actually stating my opinions! But here, I can spill it all!

From parenting fails- and there are a lot with my three boys, to marriage, to trying to figure out friendship after motherhood- it's all here.

Every Wednesday, I host a Pour Your Heart Out linky where you can write a post that you consider is heart-pouring and link up with us.

And every Friday, I have a Blog Friend Feature(BFF) where I feature a blogger that you should be reading.

I love twitter- you can find me there @shellthings or like me on facebook- you can do that right in my sidebar!

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave the link to your Blog Party post and I'll go visit you, too!