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Friday, September 30, 2011

Things They Can't Say: These Little Waves

Not only is today's guest an incredible writer who is able to pour such emotion into her words, but she is also one of the most supportive women in the blogosphere. Please welcome Galit from These Little Waves.

The moon etches white. A slim glow in our living room reflects the laundry, the mail, the dust.

I sit on the yellow couch. My shoulders, slumped. My hair, ponytailed. My face, tear-streaked.

My first newborn, Kayli, is cradled in my arms.

I hold her close, although if I dig deep (deeper), what I really want to do is pass her off. Take a shower. Reclaim my body. Let someone else -anyone else- take care of her.

But I don’t.

I nestle her in and allow my tears to graze her cheeks.

Jason’s eyes wash over us in shades of helplessness and worry. But when I look close (closer) I glimpse something else coloring them in.

It’s the stubbornness that we share. He wants me to continue nursing our baby, and he’s going to ensure that I do.


That night was was seven-or-so years ago and I’m happy to report that Kayli, Jason, our marriage, and I all survived it.

He did push me to nurse because we made that decision before she was born, before I was pregnant, and probably before we were married!

That’s how it goes in the early rays of love, isn’t it?

You find peace somewhere between passion and friendship and laughter and dreams.

You make your way towards the sacred Middle Ground, plant your feet firmly, and just be together.

Except sometimes, that Middle Ground is hard to reach. And when new love sets and children and finances and schedules and commitments rise, those disagreements shed their light.

And it’s hard.


Jason and I have a beautiful marriage. I am so very lucky to be linked to him.

But sometimes we disagree about our parenting.

Of course we do- we each have our own baggage and upbringing and education and moods. And remember- we share a deeply rooted stubbornness.

But these moments, are when I feel torn.

I want to be on the same team as my husband and present a united front to our children. I want them to feel the sweetness of this security.

But I also want to show them that I’m on their team -always, unconditionally.

Everyone deserves to have someone like that in their lives- someone who will cheerlead for them when they’re not their best.

So I take their side as their mother, not as his wife.


When it’s just the two of us -still sitting on that same yellow couch with that same moon sliding into a different set of windows- it’s easy to hold that disagreement in the palm of my hand, inspect it, crumple it up, and throw it away.

But in the light of day when we’re immersed in the mess that is a family, I am torn again.

Torn (luckily) wrapped up in happily married, soulfully committed, impossibly stubborn, and equally matched.


Thank you so very much for having me here today, Shell. I'm honored! And thank you for reading my heart. I'm thrilled to meet you.

Please leave Galit some comment love here and then go follow her blog These Little Waves. You can also find her on twitter @GalitBreen.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: A Letter of Thanks

Welcome to Pour Your Heart Out- if you need more info on how to participate, check out THIS post. 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. ;)


For those of you who don't know, my 5 year-old has lead poisoning, which has caused him to have other difficulties as a result. Our doctors have only told us to wait until all the lead is out of his system and then we'll see how he improves and what we'll still need to work on with him. 
It's been a frustrating process because we don't want to wait, we want to help him NOW. Luckily, he was able to qualify to go to Occupational Therapy once a week. 

Bear has been going for over a month now. And what I have to say to his OTs, well, it's a perfect fit for the lovely Tonya of Letters for Lucas's new feature Letters for You. 
Please head over to Letters to Lucas to read my Pour Your Heart Out today. 

Link up your Pour Your Heart Out post and please visit at least the linker before and after you. 

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wine and a Good Cause (Twitter Party)

Do you know Pursey? She is quite possibly the world's loudest purse.

She travels all around, sparkling from blogger to blogger, raising awareness and money for the American Stroke Association.

I had the honor of hosting Pursey at the Type A Parent Conference this summer.

But, now, Lori, the mind behind this brilliant idea, has only two more events left for Pursey.

One of them is a twitter party tomorrow night, Wednesday, September 28th at 9pm ET/6pm PT.

This party is hosted by Have Wine, Will Drink, which is a project that I'm working on with Gigi from Kludgymom, Ashley from My Front Porch Swing, and Natalie from Mommy of a Monster.

We'll be doing some fundraising for the ASA and giving away some prizes, too. Thanks to our sponsors Simply Charmed, One Hope Wine, and Lot18.

I hope that you will be there to help support the ASA as well as have fun and maybe win some prizes! You can join in with this tweetgrid: http://bit.ly/pO1yFa

Please RSVP on Lori's blog.

If you can't make it but you still want to help, you can make a donation here.

Comments are off. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Use Instagram

I was instagram-challenged for a while, having no clue what else it did besides take cool pics, so I thought I'd share what I learned with you, in case I wasn't the only one who didn't know all you can do with it.

For a while, I had noticed pics shared on Twitter that said "via instagram" or had a link to a pic that started out with "instagr.am/" and when I'd click on them, I'd see a pic and then "so-and-so is using Instagram - a fun & quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures. Snap a photo, then choose a filter to transform the look and feel of the shot into a memory to keep around forever."

I thought it was pretty cool and then I learned that it was an iPhone app. So, I pouted because I didn't have an iPhone.

And then I got one this spring. Instagram was one of the first apps that I added to it. And I started taking pics with it. Some I shared on twitter, some I didn't. It was really easy to use. Simply press the share button and either take a pic right then or select one from your camera roll:
The face my youngest loves to make when a camera is pointed at him. 

Then select a filter:
I choose Lomo-fi for this one. 

Then you can write a caption and choose how/if to share. There are options to connect your twitter, facebook, flickr, tumblr, posterous, and foursquare accounts. I only have my twitter connected to mine for the time being and don't share every photo I take on twitter.

It was great because it made my photos look like... well, like they weren't taken on a phone.

So, that alone makes it a cool app. But, there's so much more to Instagram than just taking pics!

I noticed that I was sometimes getting people who "liked" my photos or left comments, but I really didn't know how they were doing that.

And then I checked my "news" tab. It will tell you when someone liked your photo, commented on it, or if someone new started following you or if one of your contacts joined instagram. And I realized, huh, I'm missing out, this isn't just about me taking a pic.

You can search for people to follow. Go to "profile" and then "find friends" or "invite friends." You can find friends from your contact list, facebook friends, twitter friends, or you can search names and usernames. And then simply choose to follow who you would like to. My username on there is "shellthings" in case you want to follow me. And now that I know how to see who is following me, I'll follow you back. ;)

So, I started following people on there and checking out their photos by clicking on "feed." You can see others' photos and click on the heart to like them or you can leave a comment. At first I thought that it was yet another thing to have to keep up with... as if emails, blogs, twitter, and facebook aren't enough... but I LOVE instagram.

It's so quick to scroll through and see what your friends have been doing or to share what you are up to... no reading required. ;)

And don't worry, you can play around with your profile settings to determine what you want to share and how you want to share it. Some people have their photos set to private so that only those they approve can see their photos.

Right now, it is just an iPhone app, but they are working on one for the Droid. It's also free, so if you have an iPhone, be sure to check it out!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

A New Fit: Project #BraHappy

Last week, I shared with you tips for getting the right bra size and fit. Tips that I have learned from 123underwear. I was one of the majority of women who was wearing the wrong size bra. Be sure to check out Does Your Bra Fit? if you missed it.

After making sure that I had the right size, I also spoke to a 123underwear consultant about what I want in a bra. I wanted padding, lift, and comfort.

They decided that the Calvin Klein Seductive Comfort Customized Lift Bra would be one that would meet my needs. It's a pretty lilac blush color and retails for $48.

Now, here's where I get honest with you. When I was measuring myself according to the 123underwear guidelines, and kept getting 32C, I was tempted to still tell them 34B. Because that was what I was used to wearing. And my bras seem to fit okay.... I was nervous.

But, then I figured that this would be a total missed opportunity if I was working on Project #BraHappy and didn't give their advice an honest shot. And the worst that could happen would be that the bra didn't fit and they'd have to send me another size.

Surprisingly, the bra fit really well. It met all of the fit guidelines that I talked about last week and was super comfortable. If only I could replace all of my other bras now! After wearing the right size, I realized just how wrong the others ones are.

I was also sent the matching panty: Calvin Klein Seductive Comfort Hipster, $28. What I really like about this set, aside from actually fitting right, is that it's very comfortable and can be worn underneath my usual mom-uniform of jeans/yoga pants and a t-shirt AND that it's sexy. Sexy comfort is a total win. If only they made me look just like this underwear model....

Next week, I'll be back with the final week of Project #BraHappy with some tips on what every woman should have in their underwear drawer and with a giveaway for a bra consultation and a gift certificate to 123underwear.

This is a sponsored campaign on behalf of 123underwear. While I was provided with tips about bra fit and the garments mentioned in this post, all other thoughts and opinions are my own.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Things They Can't Say: The Mommy Therapy

Leslie, from The Mommy Therapy, has three kids 5 and under. She's honest, sarcastic, and hilarious. I'm thrilled she was willing to share a recipe-ish here: and you get to see what on earth that is-trust me, you'll love it. Please welcome her as this week's featured guest.
We have a serious problem on my cul-de-sac.

It's scary. I'm not sure how this is going to go down, but there will be tears and there will shame.

Most likely from me making a total ass of myself, but that's not important.

Teenagers have moved in at the end of my street and what used to be one teen that could be weakened with a glare and a fist shake has turned in to six, yes six, driving teens and all their punk friends.

Fine, I don't know that they are all punks but chances are good that I'm right.

I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday. I was 17, driving my Honda Prelude around town with my girlfriends, sipping soda pop, driving slowly through residential areas and always lowering the volume on my Cypress Hill when I drove by small humans. I always gave my boyfriend an enthusiastic handshake and a non-chest touching hug before heading inside my house, never past 10.

I think I skipped rope a lot too.

I'm reasonably confident this is an accurate memory.

Recently these kids, it's important to add the "these" so they sound more guilty, are speeding up and down the cul-de-sac at all hours of the day and night. They are making out in their parked car close to midnight when they should be inside making friendship bracelets to show the opposite sex how much they care. Then the other day one of them threw a half-empty, or half-full if you are feeling positive about this situation, Sonic milkshake cup out of the window of their car right in front of me.

I am 5'4 and 120 pounds of fierce rage; they must be some bold ass kids.

I even gave them the traditional "What the hell?" gesture of raising my arms with upturned palms into a V, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. They didn't even turn to show me that they were scared, much less stop and pick up their trash while begging for forgiveness like they should have.

What is a suburban Mom of three to do?

There are nine kids under the age of 10 on this cul-de-sac. Since I'm on the corner, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to protect my street. If you aren't familiar with the corner house's level of responsibility you need to read up on your neighborhood's HOA rules, I'm sure it's in there....or I might have made it up, I can't be sure.

Either way, action must be taken!

I decided I must try to connect with someone that these kids could relate to in their irresponsibly youthful state. So, I felt like my only option was to write a recipe-ish for Mac & Cheese for Ke$ha and ask her advice.

Clearly there was no other way.

If you've never read a recipe-ish, you might be wondering if maybe I'm insane, or a recreational drug user, but you are wrong. I'm just doing what the little voices inside my head are telling me to do.

I write to a different person every week, giving them a recipe...sort-of. Here are some of my previous recipe-ish posts. Here or here or here.

Let's just get this party started. I think that's what Ke$ha would say.

Dear Kesha,

I hope you'll forgive me for leaving off the '$' in your name and going with the more traditional 's'. I tried to keep typing it, but it's annoying. Or ridiculous. Or annoying.

Seriously, what is going on there?

I really connect to your music though. Some other very enthusiastic Moms and I danced the night away at a wedding recently to your "We R Who We R" song and that "Tik Tock" hit.

(Sidenote: I know you earned your GED, but your spelling concerns me for the validity of that program. Would it be so difficult to spell the word 'tick' correctly? I can only assume you texted the title of these songs to someone and there was a miscommunication about shorthand versus actual spelling of the title. LOL.)

I'm sure some women in their late 30s jamming to your songs were exactly what you were imagining when you wrote about brushing your teeth with a bottle of Jack or boys trying to touch your junk. Motherhood is rough; you obviously were trying to reach out to us. It worked! These situations are our lives.

I felt like you were holding a mirror up to me when you wrote about wearing hot pants, eye glitter, and stockings ripped all up the sides. That screams carpool line and poopy diapers.

Fine, perhaps these topics are slightly outside my current life, and at times I find you mildly offensive, but you do make some great dance music. I also think you could do a bang up job with my current problem.

("Bang up" means good. Do people your age use that phrase? Do people my age use that phrase?)

You must really resonate with the teens these days. I read that you didn't really fit in during high school because you wore purple velvet pants and stuff like that, it must be nice to now be a role model for young women, encouraging the masses to wear hot pants and ripped stockings. You've come far. Congratulations.

Would you like a chance to reconnect with some teens in my hood?

I'm sure you are a little idea factory with all your creative spelling and allegedly ad lib rapping about getting drunk and other equally intellectual topics, so I thought you might think of a way to help school the teens on my street.

While you are thinking, I've come up with a few options of my ideas of how you could help to really transform these teens’ thoughts on their behavior.

In exchange for your assistance I've written you a delicious, though pretty ambiguous, recipe for Mac & Cheese that I make for my kids. I figured you might like it since you were born in the late 80s....which really has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that it makes me feel old.

Here are my ideas.

  • You pen a slammin' hit (I assume this is appropriate usage of the adjective "slammin'") about driving safety in neighborhoods and/or how much it would cramp a teens style to oh...say, run over a kid.
  • You lend me some of your concert wardrobe so that I could wear it at the end of my driveway while holding a large, "STOP YOUR HEAVY PETTING BECAUSE THIS WILL BE YOU SOMEDAY SOON" sign, hoping that the fact that I haven't worn a bra and my boobs are closer to the belly than my shoulders, and my scary pregnancy spotted face makes me look more like a serial killer than their friendly neighbor, will end their late night car humping. A little glimpse at motherhood, and how you cannot under any circumstances wear hot pants regardless of your fitness level after three kids, might get me some sympathy mixed with raw fear for their late night make out sessions.
  • You and I perform your hit Tik Tok. You perform as yourself and I will act as JLo in a choreographed number that would BLOW THEIR MINDS. I figure this has no benefit to our cause, but it would be really fun for me. 
  • You start a movement about how littering has nothing to do with, and actually is the complete opposite of, (in some random, not really connected, but make it seem connected sort of way,) youthful irreverence. I'm pretty sure youthful irreverence is every teen's goal and you mentioned once that your goal as an artist was to produce albums about that. On behalf of every parent, thank you by the way.

These are just me thinking out loud. The first things flying out of my head. You brainstorm a little and let's talk.

While that's percolating a bit, let's talk Mac & Cheese.

My mother never made the Kraft box kind, because she loved me.

(I'm totally joking, but perhaps I just started a song for you? You. Are. Welcome.)

My Mom didn't make the box kind because she took a nutrition class in 1968 that she can't stop talking about and the box was not mentioned in said class. Hence...I have a strong love for bubbly baked Mac & Cheese.

My children do not share this love; probably because I never took that class.

My kids like the sauce poured over noodles variety....but they don't like the box kind because they are really smart and have new and diverse ways to make every single day challenging.

Hooray devious children!

So, this is what I make them and they usually love it. They always devour the whole thing.

Except when they don't and decide that they hate it, but that's how kids are...which is why you and every other child between 14-25 should probably put on a turtleneck and and some high waisted wool pants and whip up friendship bracelets until you are ready to take on children.

(Another song topic? Turtlenecks and wool pants are so HOT, here's a bracelet! Genius.)

Here's what you need:

1 Bag spiral pasta. (I know there is a real name for them, but all the kids these days are calling them spirals. Work it into a song. I am basically a hit factory for you.)
2-3 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons flour
1-2 cups milk - live dangerously and use the whole milk
2 cups shredded Velveeta - do not be scared by the fact that the package calls this a cheese product and not just cheese. It's perfectly "natural."
1 cup Cheddar

I'm going to be honest about something Kesha. I am not too sure on any of the amounts except the noodles, the butter, and the Velveeta. Everything else I change each time I make it. There is a lot of room for creativity in this, which is why I like making it.

See what happens when you have kids? Your creative outlet is now mixing dairy products over medium-low heat in the hopes that small people will like it. Can you mention this to my neighbors?

Let's cook.

First, boil a big pot of salted water. My Mom doesn't believe in salting the water though (damn that '68 nutrition class!) so try not to make this when you guys are hanging out.

Add the noodles and follow the package directions for how long they should cook. I assume zero responsibility for the noodles.

Actually, I assume zero responsibility for any of this. It's a recipe-ish. The ish gets me out of any liability.

Seriously, I took the LSATs back in '04, I know what I'm talking about here.

After the noodles are done, drain them and put them back in the empty pot.

Hold it! I forgot to ask you the question that has been burning in my brain since I heard of you.

What is up with you tour being called the "Get Sleazy Tour?"

Seriously, you are not making my kind happy with that shit. I can't even imagine how much my husband will dislike you once Stella is trying to squeeze into hot pants.

Sorry for all the questions, I became spontaneously concerned.

Back to the cooking.

Get a medium size saucepan and melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk it around until it's smooth.

(I could seriously crank out some hits. "Whisk it around until it's smooth?" I'm basically writing your next album for you.)

Add more flour or butter if there is excessive clumping or if it still looks like liquid butter.

Slowly stir in about a cup of the milk while you constantly whisk.

Keep whisking.

Add the cheese. Velveeta first and whisk until it is smooth. Now judge the consistency. Is it getting thicker or too milky?

Add 1/2 the cheddar first and then wait for that to become smooth. Now reevaluate.

See how complicated it is to be a Mother?

You can add more milk if it is too thick, or cheese if too milky.

Once you have a smooth, thick-ish sauce turn off the heat. Pour the sauce over the cooked noodles and stir it all around.


I serve this to my kids with ham because they like ham. I find ham disgusting, unless it is on an Egg McMuffin of course, so I usually serve it with a large salad and a healthy glass of red wine for myself and my husband.

Did you come up with any good ideas for my teen issue during that?

I did. You are basically worthless to me right now.

Ask them to park outside the cul-de-sac and walk down the street?

Set up cardboard cut-outs of various children and dogs on the street that pop up spontaneously when they drive by, hoping the sudden fear they experience will be enough to change their behavior?

Talk to the Mom? HaHaHaHa....HaHaHaHa. (That's laughter. Wait. LOL) She would probably stab me.

I'll be making Mac & Cheese, glaring, and doing the "What the Hell" gesture until I hear from you.

Oh, by the way, I heard you are getting ready to write a “cock-rock album.” I don't know what that is exactly, but I'm, as a parent, already a little pissed at you. As a wedding guest, I can't wait!

Oh, and I was asked not to thank Shell for letting me guest post on her awesome blog today, but perhaps you could churn out a tune about that? Something with a drum solo and lyrics about sharing or kicking boys’ asses. It would mean a lot to me.

Muchas gracias.

Oh....a Spanish album!


Please leave Leslie some comment love here and then go follow her blog The Mommy Therapy and find her on twitter @TheMommyTherapy.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: Things Even I Can't Say

Welcome to Pour Your Heart Out- if you need more info on how to participate, check out THIS post. 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. ;)

Click HERE to find out how to participate.


I spill it all on this blog, right?

I mean, that is my tagline.

And I do get really personal on here. Not just on Pour Your Heart Out days, but on a regular basis. I've talked about how hard marriage can be, my parenting struggles, depression, body image issues, sex, and more. I'm not afraid to talk about controversial issues like religion, breastfeeding, surrogacy, or working mom/sahm.

But, there are things even I can't say.

Or won't.  Because either it's not my place or it simply isn't something that needs to be said.

The easiest decision for me to make was not to blog specifics about where my family lives. Though I realize that if someone wanted to dig, they could find out, to me, it doesn't make any sense to announce the names of my boys' schools or details like that.

Another thing I don't really blog about is money. I don't feel the need to discuss money on here. Sometimes I'm tempted, when someone gets some weird idea about how much they think I must have... where that idea comes from, I haven't a clue.

I also won't write posts trashing someone else. Let's be honest here. Though the blogosphere can be a really supportive place, we're not all going to agree on everything. And while I don't see a problem with posts where someone writes an opposing viewpoint, there is a big difference between that and a personal attack.  Also very real: not everyone loves me. There are people whose opinions I strongly disagree with. But, I can ignore and not bring drama here. Those people aren't worth it and I refuse to drag any of you into any of that.  It doesn't mean I don't get hurt sometimes and whine on skype to someone why is so-and-so so mean? I've seen blogwars happen and that is not something I ever want to be a part of.

And then sometimes, what I want to say isn't my story to tell. So, I don't tell it.

I found out something about a relative of mine two weeks ago and it completely tore me up. Not anyone who lives in my house, but someone closely related. Someone who did something I find completely repulsive. And part of me wanted to vent and rant and get support from all of you: because I KNOW that all of you would agree with my judgement of the situation. No doubt in my mind that even a single one of you would say that what was done was okay. Yet, it's not my story to tell.

I have a dear friend going through something really tough right now. I'm scared and worried for her. But, until she gets a better handle on what is going on and until she decides that she's going to share that with everyone, it is not my place to open my mouth.  Even knowing that y'all would rally in support: it's not my place. And even if she decides to share her story, and even though her story affects me because I am her friend, it's still HER story and not mine.

How do you decide what you will say on your blog and what you won't? 


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Why I Hate to Recycle

Now, before my green friends get too mad at me, let me make this perfectly clear:

Okay? We really do.

But, let me tell you why I hate it.

You see, our recycling collection truck comes on Thursday mornings. So early on Thursday mornings that I could probably say Wednesday nights.

So, sometimes I forget to take the recycling to the curb.

Even though my children get up at the crack of dawn, that's still to late to take out the recycling.

And sometimes, WEEKS will go by before I manage to get it to the curb.

On Wednesday around dinnertime, I'll usually remember that hey, the recyling needs to go out.

Technically, I could take it out right then.

But, here's the problem: people walk around our neighborhood in the evenings.  Oh yes, lots of after-dinner strollers in my 'hood.

And if my recycling is out at the curb during this time, after WEEKS of not taking the recycling to the curb? Do you know what my neighbors will see?

WEEKS worth of wine and beer(not mine) and Mike's Strawberry Lemonade bottles. WEEKS.

It's a frightening number of bottles.

So, I need to take my recycling out to the cub under the cover of darkness.

Because I'm not really a lush. I just play one on twitter my blog.

Monday, September 19, 2011

7 Reasons I Suck as a Soccer Mom

Alright, so I have boys who play soccer.

And I even have the minivan that goes along with being a soccer mom.

But, apparently, I'm NOT a good soccer mom as defined by the behavior of the soccer moms I have encountered.

1. I wish there was only one practice a week for each of my boys instead of two.

2. I think that an hour and a half of a Skills Clinic followed by another half hour of regular practice is too much for six year-olds.

3. When we've had a long day already, I have ZERO problem skipping practice in favor of an early bedtime.

4. I cannot bring myself to scream at a group of five year-olds "Don't let them take it away from you!" or "Get your head in the game!"

5. I am not competitive about bringing the best after-game snack.

6. When it's cold or rainy, I hope for a cancellation.

7. I have no clue what the scores have been for my boys' games.

My boys have fun at soccer and that's all that matters, right? Not if I'm there in a chair that coordinates with their team colors while screaming my head off and analyzing what the coach should be doing better. Right?

Well, if I'm wrong, I'm still not changing. Maybe I'm only cut out to be the mom of soccer players and not a "soccer mom."

Elaine at The Miss-Elaine-ous Life wrote about her soccer woes today, too. And suggested I link up! Check out her linky!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mechatars Review and Giveaway: What's More Fun for Kids Than Robots!

I had a chance to be a total rock star mama in my oldest son's eyes. Because I had a ROBOT for him to test out. What six year-old boy wouldn't love to play with a robot?

He tore into his Mechatar and was eager to see what this robot could do. iLoveRobots calls this toy a "blended reality" because it is both an online experience and an RC robotic toy: combining both virtual play and what I call "playing on my family room floor."

Though there is much to explore on the Mechatar site, you can simply open the box and start playing with it right away, in Drive mode.
There are also Battle and Mission modes that you need to connect your Mechatar to your computer to be able to access. It's easy to connect to the computer with the included USB cord.

We took a look around and watched how a battle plays out:

We checked out the store(items can be bought with points that you earn from completing challenges on the site):
And we tried some challenges(which worked on my son's computer skills, though he may just be better at the ones that have to do with your reaction time than I am):
There are "social" options where your child can battle against friends who have Mechatars, too.

These toys are recommended for ages 6-12. At this point, my son thinks this is a really cool toy, but mostly just wants to play with the Drive mode. Since he is at the very beginning of the recommended age range, he likes the simplest of its functions. I like that this is a toy that has the ability to grow with him instead of being a toy that he will lose interest in after just a short period of time. There is so much more that he can learn to do with it.

You can find Mechatars at stores like Radio Shack, Toys R Us, Target, and on Amazon and iloveRobots.com. (MSRP $39.99) From now thru 11/30, if you use the code MECHMOM you will receive 10% off your purchases at iloverobots.com.

OR you can win one here!

Giveaway: One of you will win a Mechatar! US only. Giveaway will close at 3pm ET on 9/23 and winner will be randomly selected. Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. If your email is not visible in your profile, you must leave it with your comments.

Easy entry: Tell me which Mechatar you would like to win! (actual prize may vary, though company will attempt to fulfill your request)

To see the Mechatars available:
*Visit the Mechaverse
*Click on "Play Now"
*Click on "Register" (no info needs to be submitted)
*Check out the Mechatar lineup

I was selected to participate in this sponsored post series by Clever Girls Collective.

This giveaway is now closed and the winner is #12: Galit Breen. 

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Aerobie Skylighter Flying Disc Review and Giveaway

My boys love to play outside. All day long if they could.

But, the especially love to play outside at night- they feel like they are getting away with something since they associate dark outside with bedtime.

So, they were thrilled when we were sent three Aerobie Skylighter Flying Discs- they light up and were made to be used at night!

Though these are recommended for ages 10 and up, my boys still had fun trying to toss these to each other and seeing who could fling theirs the farthest. They also like me to toss one as far as I can and then race to see which one of them can get it first(um, yeah, sorta like playing fetch with my kids.... and btw, the youngest usually wins because he's learned to cheat).

He may be on the ground, but he caught it! 

The Aerobie Skylighter is easy to see at night and comes with a long-lasting and replaceable battery.  It has the patented Aerobie spoiler rim design, making it easy for players of all skill levels to throw well.  Of course, while it's fun to play with at night, it can also be used during the day.  

You can find these on Amazon or at places like Dick's Sporting Goods, from about $12-15, but I have one to giveaway here, too.

Giveaway: One of you will win an Aerobie Skylighter Flying Disc. US only. Giveaway will close at 3pm ET on 9/23 and winner will be randomly selected. Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. If your email is not visible in your profile, you must leave it with your comments.

Mandatory Entry: Tell me who would be playing with this disc!

Additional Entries: (leave a separate comment for each entry)
*Follow Things I Can't Say via GFC
*Follow @shellthings on twitter and leave your username

I was sent an Aerobie Skylighter for review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed and the winner is #7: Allen S.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wonder Wheeler Wide Review and Giveaway

Do you know how much stuff I have to take with me to the beach or places like the soccer field? With three kids, it's no simple feat.

Now that it's soccer season, we need a cooler, snacks, water, sunscreen, bug spray, bandaids, umbrella, chairs, soccer balls, camera, phone, sunglasses, change of clothes, change of shoes, jackets, blankets, toys to keep children who aren't playing at the moment entertained... and a bunch of other things that I'm probably forgetting right now.

Not only do we need to get all of that to the fields, but the three boys have to be there, too. Three boys who still can't really carrying much. AND we have to switch fields to watch different boys play.  Help in carrying all of this does not usually happen.

Though I have found something to make this incredibly easy so that I can even handle all three boys plus their belongings even if my husband has to be on yet a different soccer field during the games.

The Wonder Wheeler Beach Cart has easy roll wide wheels: easy to push on the beach or through the grass. It even works on the wooded path between my boys' soccer fields.

It can hold a 48 quart cooler and has a side pocket for an umbrella. It can carry 4-6 chairs and can handle 100+ pounds.

I really like the large removable tote bag.

The Wonder Wheeler Wide easily folds flat for transport and storage.

This cart will be so helpful for all of those trips to the soccer field, the beach, the pool... any day trips! It is available on 4thbeach.com for $72.95(on sale from $106). They do give special coupon codes to new facebook or twitter followers.

Giveaway: 4thebeach.com is giving away one Wonder Wheeler to one of my readers. US only. Giveaway will close at 3pm ET on 9/23 and winner will be randomly selected. Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected. If your email is not visible in your profile, you must leave it with your comments.

Mandatory entry: Tell me where you would use a Wonder Wheeler.

Additional entries: (leave a separate comment for each entry)
*Follow @4thbeachdotcom on twitter and leave your username
*Follow Things I Can't Say via GFC

I received a Wonder Wheeler for review purpose. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

This giveaway is now closed and the winner is #93 Just Cherish Today. 

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Things They Can't Say: My Front Porch Swing

A friend through blogging can become a real friend. Today's guest poster is pretty much my other half and the one who came up with the name of this new feature. She is "balancing life, marriage, parenting, and social media while pursuing the perfect glass of sweet tea."  Please welcome Ashley from My Front Porch Swing.

I sold my soul to blogging.

No, not really. In fact, it would actually be more accurate to say I sold my blogging soul- but only a little.

In the blogging world, there are innumerable posts that appear from frustrated bloggers. I just can’t keep up, they say, I can’t keep posting every day, visit all these blogs, and return all these comments. The overwhelming sensation that you are letting someone down in the community you find in blogging can be almost unbearable at times. Not everyone understands this; but then, not everyone understands this phenomenon. Not everyone can understand the need to spill your words out of your soul onto a computer screen before the flow of energy has stopped. Not everyone can understand the need to share things with the world you do not know that you just can’t quite share with the one you do.

Not everyone is a blogger.


I started building my blog. In the beginning, I learned anything and everything I could. I lapped up knowledge from experienced blogs (The SITS girls being the place that kept me going and trying to understand) and devoured blogs as fast as I could. I would stay up late reading and commenting, read articles on how to be a better blogger. I saw my numbers climbing much more rapidly when I started applying the things I learned.

Then, I did a review for a company. It was not a compensated review, beyond a free trial of their product. But, it was a product I was genuinely interested in and wanted to learn more about its use. So, I dove into it as I do with any project, and focused my energy on delivering the best post I could. I enjoyed the staff members I worked with, as they were genuine and dedicated and answered all of my questions. In a few follow-up conversations, they had a few questions. I answered them, happy to take a minute to respond to a company that took such good care of their customers.

This led me to working in social media. It was part time at first, and more fun than I ever had earning a paycheck. I was suddenly in a new world of all of this and learning by the minute. Then my role expanded, and I got to experience the world of social media marketing at its craziest. And even that was awesome. In its own way. Working like crazy from home with two young kids is a challenge, but this position led me to being able to do just that. Although I eventually left this position, it opened up the door for other opportunities.

During this time? I didn’t return every comment. I didn’t respond to everyone. I didn’t blog every day. My numbers no longer do a fast climb as they did when I focused all of my time and energy on my blog –which is truly the best way to grow. They still inch up a bit here and there (and hopefully continue to do so), but when I get a chance to write and blog, I do take the time to respond at the very least, and connect with them in some way. Because finding people, connecting, that is what blogging is all about. Even if it is not at full speed ahead.

But if you are one who seeks opportunities and want to grow beyond your blog, do not feel like you have to always give 110% in every area. You cannot. Eventually, you will start to lost your mind. Blogging is amazing and something I love. Now, so is working on my own business with a few amazing colleagues- whom I met through blogging. Sometimes opportunities arise that are too great to ignore and something has to give. You shouldn’t feel guilty for that.

I’m a mom, a social marketer, and a blogger.

In that order.

Please leave Ashley some comment love here and then follow her blog My Front Porch Swing. You can find her tweeting as @porchswingmom and on facebook.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Does Your Bra Fit? Project #BraHappy

You've probably heard the statistics before: how the majority of women are wearing the wrong size bra.

Now, at some point in my younger years, I was small and perky enough that I didn't have to wear a bra when it came to things like halter tops or sundresses.

And then I got a little older and wanted to be sure I was wearing the right size bra. So I went to a lingerie store and was measured by some bored 19 year-old who couldn't possibly care less if she measured me correctly as long as I gave her name at the register so that she got credit for the sale.

But, she agreed with the size that I had always worn(34B- oh yeah, I'll share that with you). So, that is what I bought and continued to buy. Until pregnancy.

All of a sudden, I was a lot bigger. Hubs wondered if I could keep that size after the baby was born. I went through a few different sizes during my pregnancy- trying on different bras until I would find one that wouldn't drive me crazy... at least for that week.

Then I was dealing with finding nursing bras and fluctuating breast size then, too.

Finally, I was done with having babies and nursing them. I thought I'd celebrate by tossing all my ugly nursing bras in the trash and replacing the bras that had been sitting idle in my underwear draw from my pre-kids days.

So once again, I headed off to be measured, explaining to the girl with the tape measure that I've been through three pregnancies and nursing and my breasts felt different. That I used to be a 34B but wanted to be sure I was getting the right size. She quickly measured me and agreed with my assessment.

But, I recently measured myself with the help of 123underwear. They sent me a soft tape measure and a sizing guide. I also had a chance to speak to someone about fit.

And I found out that I was one of those women wearing the wrong size bra. I was NOT a size 34B, but a 32C.

Check out this how-to guide for finding your bra size from 123underwear. It is not what I had heard before.

As I was talking to the consultant, she was asking me how my bras usually fit. I told her that I thought they fit, but that I was always wearing them on the tightest setting. She explained that a bra should fit on the loosest setting. And then as time goes on, and your bra stretches a little, you can then tighten it to the next setting. If you start out on the tightest setting and your bra stretches at all, you are pretty much out of luck. Makes a lot of sense to me.

Here are some more tips about bra fit from Beverly Russina from 123underwear:

Front of your bra:
  • Underwire must lie flat against your rib cage. Breast tissue should not be billowing out from below the underwire. Basically, underwire should not be resting on breast tissue but on bone.
  • Your breast tissue should sit comfortably within your bra cups – with no excess material. Breast tissue should not be billowing out the top or sides of your cups.
  • The bridge of the bra must be flat between your breasts
Back of your bra:
  • Your bra band lies straight across your back. It should not squeeze, dig or leave marks. It should stay in place and not ride up or down.
  • Bra straps must stay in place. No rolling down or digging into your shoulders.
And this great tip: Ladies – always remember that your breasts should be perched upright in your cups. For truly proper support your breasts should be sitting – halfway - between shoulder and elbow.

Do you think your bra fits or do you need some help being happy with your bra? I'll be blogging again about Project #BraHappy over the next two weeks to share more tips with you- and of course, have a giveaway for you coming up, too.

This is a sponsored campaign on behalf of 123underwear. While I was provided with tips about bra fit, all other thoughts and opinions are my own.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: I Miss My Friends

Please Note: this is Pour Your Heart Out. If you are looking for the Magic Moments linky where you can win a $400 Canon Camera or one of three $50 gift cards, you can find that HERE.

Welcome to Pour Your Heart Out- if you need more info on how to participate, check out THIS post. 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. ;)


I keep thinking that we just moved back here to NC. But, the reality is that we've been here for almost two years.

When we first moved back, I was really trying to get to know people here. We weren't right back where we had lived before. I joined moms' groups. None of that really went all that well, but I was trying.

Then, after 6 months, we moved towns and were back where we lived the last time we lived in NC. I had friends here before... but some have moved away and others are just busy: they are teacher friends of mine who are still teaching.

I've tried Bible Study, joining the gym, and moms' groups. My kids are in soccer... but when you have three kids in three different places during practice, it's not like you get to talk to anyone for more than a minute or two.

Hubs has his friends because this is where he grew up. This is a weird town where you have your locals who seem to love to reminisce about high school... and of course I wasn't here then. And then you have your military wives... and while I was friends with some when I was teaching, it seems that the ones that I am meeting who are sahm/wahm are NOT interested in someone who isn't a military wife.

And so, here I am: not local, not military. I don't fit into either group.

And I miss my friends.

I miss my Margarita Girls: our kids used to have playdates back before they were old enough to be in school. After preschool got in the way of easy playdates, we still managed to have monthly nights' out, usually with cheap margaritas, plenty of venting, gossiping, and supporting each other.

I miss my friend Jen. We ran the moms' group at our church and were bonded by all the craziness that goes along with running a group of 100+ women.

I miss my friend Angie. We'd been friends since we were four years old. Though we lost touch at different points during our lives, we always managed to come back together and pick up where we left off as if no time had past. She is the type of friend that I could just randomly stop in at her house with no notice and our boys played well together while we could chat for hours.

I miss my friend T.(his real name, I'm not just being a punk and not sharing his name) He was my best friend in college and we were always there for each other. I miss the way that he could always tease me out of a bad mood. And the way that he was always a straight-shooter with me.

I miss my brothers and their families. My family may be extremely dysfunctional when it comes to my parents, but my brothers and I have been through it all together. I miss seeing my older brother's kids growing and hanging out with my fabulous sils, too.

Here, I have my boys and my husband.  My boys are wonderful and I love my husband so much.

But, I'm still lonely.

Thank God for blogs, twitter, email, and skype, right? Thanks to all of you who make my life a little less lonely. Want to come move to my neighborhood?


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Soccer Oops

It's official: I'm a soccer mom.
My two oldest boys are playing soccer while my youngest thinks he should be playing.

We are at the field three nights a week for practice.

And then of course, games on Saturdays.

Bear's team started practicing two weeks before Monkey's team because Monkey's team didn't have a coach yet. And then some of the parents were up in arms about the practice days and times so we had a meeting to discuss that... and then finally, a practice.

His first practice was on the same day and time as one of Bear's practices.

Hubs came with us, since we knew we'd have kids on two different fields plus a little one who either wanted to be on the playground or who would be trying to play soccer with one of his brothers' teams.

Bear took off for his team and Cub made a dash for the playground. So Hubs said he would get Monkey to his practice.

They were a couple fields away and I squinted over at them. I didn't see the coach that I had met at the meeting the week before. But, there was only that night and one more before their first game, so I thought maybe the coach couldn't make it and the assistant was running the practice.  Or maybe I was just remembering the coach wrong.

Afterwards, Hubs talked about some of the kids who were really big and who were really good. I shrugged it off because his peers could have been playing for 3 years already, while this is Monkey's first season.

I handle the next practice and everything seems just fine.

First game comes and Hubs looks at the coach and asks me if I'm sure this is the right team.

Of course, yes, it's the right team.

As we are leaving after the game, we walk past another team playing, who has on the same color shirts as Monkey's team(there is a "Knights" who wear gray in each age group- so you could stay on the same team/have the same color all the way up if you wanted).

And Hubs asks me again if I'm SURE that Monkey had played with the right team.

YES. That was his coach, those were the parents I met at the first meeting. Monkey's name was on that roster.

But, the team we were walking past was the team that Monkey had played with at that first practice. They were the Knights all right. They just weren't the U7 Knights. They were the U8 or maybe even U9 Knights.

No wonder Hubs had thought Monkey looked so out of place at practice!

I'm just glad that for once, it wasn't me who screwed up.

Don't forget that the Magic Moments linky is open thru Monday 9/19. Share your photos for a chance to win a $400 camera or one of 3 $50 gift cards.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sharing Those Magic Moments

Life is full of Magic Moments.

Some big, life altering moments like a wedding or the birth of a baby. And some smaller moments that we never want to forget: first steps, first day of school, a new job, a vacation, a quiet moment, the list goes on and on. A Magic Moment is a moment you are so happy to have captured on camera.

From now thru 9/19, you can link up your Magic Moment(s). Grab the button below, create a post, and link up! Visit other linkers to share their moments. Four winners will be selected randomly from those who submit a valid entry.  Find out prize details below my own Magic Moments.

Button by The Frilly Coconut

Our Wedding Day
A New Baby
A Birthday
A Vacation
A Snowy NC Beach Day
A Quiet Walk

Prizes are courtesy of ThisLife. ThisLife organizes all of your photos for you, making it easier to keep those Magic Moments safe and to find the one that you want.  Want to check it out for yourself? ThisLife is offering my readers a 6-month trial of their Adventure Box package, which will house and organize up to 20,000 photos. Go check out the ThisLife free trial today.  Like ThisLife on facebook and follow them on twitter, too.

Runner- up Prizes: Three participants will win a $50 Visa card to help you have more of those Magic Moments!

Grand Prize: One grand prize winner will win a Canon Power Shot s95 (SRV $399.99) to capture even more of those moments!
Notes on using the Linky Tool: a backlink is required. If you grab the button, you have the backlink in your post. An email address is also required to be able to contact winners. If you have any difficulty with the Linky Tool, please email me at shell at thingsicantsay dot com.