< Things I Can't Say: August 2011

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: A Test Result

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. ;)



 
Grab the button on my "Memes" page- click the tab at the top.



Last week, in addition to back-to-school stuff for my oldest and hurricane readiness, I was dealing with another sort of pain.

A physical one.  This involves womanly parts, so if that offends you, you can stop reading now. 


My breasts ached. I couldn't figure out if it was worse to wear a bra and have to deal with the pressure or to not wear one and have them unsupported. I'm not big by any stretch of the imagination, but they felt swollen and heavy. It was an all-over ache and heaviness.

The slightest movement caused me to cringe. If I rolled over in my sleep, I'd wake up because it hurt when they pressed into the mattress.

I've felt like this before. A little over seven years ago.

Back then, it was the final clue that hey, I could be pregnant.

But, we are done having kids.  Our youngest is entering preschool this week, we've given away almost all of our baby things, and are ready to move on to the next stage of parenthood. And oh yeah, Hubs had a vasectomy two years ago.

And so, I tried not to think pregnancy could be the cause. We're done. I've made peace with this. I really don't want to be pregnant again.

And oh Dear Lord, if I were pregnant, I can just imagine people whispering about whose baby this is, since there are certain people who would jump to the conclusion that I had an affair rather than assuming that something had not quite worked with Hubs's vasectomy. Assholes.

So I went on with my week, trying to pretend it was nothing. Even staying away from google.

But, on Thursday, I was at the store grabbing up hurricane supplies and I figured that I might as well grab a pregnancy test. Just to be sure.

As soon as I got home, I took the test.

I stood over it, waiting for the results, feeling anxious.

It will be negative, I just know it. This is nothing.

Probably just my crazy hormones.


But what if it's positive? 


No, I won't let myself think that.


We're done having babies. 


And then I read the result:


Negative.

No baby for us.

But, while I was mostly relieved....

I was shocked to discover that there was a small part of me....

That was a little disappointed.

Because I knew that if I had been pregnant, yes, I would have freaked out for a little while. Maybe even shed  a few tears about the thought of diapers being a part of our lives again. We've been making some plans for things we want to do in the next year or so: a baby doesn't fit in so well with these plans. So, there would have been some shock.

But, I also knew that if that test result had read positive, we would have been happy about it. That a baby would have been a blessing, something to celebrate.

We're not going to do anything crazy and try to have another. We are done.

But, this made me realize just how many mixed emotions I have about there being no more babies for us.

Are you done having babies? How do you feel about your decision to be done? 


Btw, according to Dr. Google, my soreness was most likely a result of hormone fluctuations coupled with an increased caffeine intake. 


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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

School Dress Codes... for Parents

Have you had to deal with a dresscode for your children's schools?

With boys, it seems easy, since mine tend to live in cargo shorts with a polo or t-shirt. There's no concern about appropriate length of shorts like there is sometimes with girls.

But, there is a concern about the Parent Dress Code.

My kindergartener's school, which requires the kids to wear uniforms, also has a dress code for parents.

I'll admit that I sort of cringed at this at first.

Really? They are going to tell ME what to wear?

I do have to actually go into the school for drop-off and pick-up, so I can't get away with occasionally wearing what I had worn to bed the night before like I sometimes did last year, when I didn't need to get out of the minivan for this.

So, I already knew I'd need to make a little more effort in the mornings. But, there is an actual rule about this:

PARENTS: Please respect the school's dress codes when on campus or attending school functions. Clothing must be modest and appropriate in theme according to school standard. Shorts must come down to the top of the knee and sleeveless shirts may not be worn in the school buildings or at school functions.

I started keeping a jacket in the van so that I could toss it over my usual tank top. No shorts for me since I own exactly one pair that comes all the way down to my knees.

I noticed other parents who were wearing sleeveless tops and shorter shorts, so I thought maybe it was a rule in the handbook that wasn't really enforced, the same way that the handbook states that shoes should only be a neutral color, when the Principal actually doesn't care as long as the kids are wearing an enclosed shoe without wheels on it.

But, in the newsletter that was sent home at the end of last week, there was a reminder to parents that shorts should be an appropriate length, shirts must have a sleeve and not be extremely low cut.

Basically, your butt and boobs should be covered.

Looking at it that way, I have no problem with it.  It's a conservative school. People who send their kids there know this from the start.

And after seeing a few moms with waaaay too much booty hanging out the bottom of their shorts and boobs bursting out of their tops as they picked up their kids from my older son's school, I get the reasoning behind it.

The dress code is something that is more common sense when you are a parent visiting your child's school. Or at least, that is how I see it.

Though, when I mentioned this in passing on twitter last week, many thought it was completely bizarre.

What are your thoughts on a parent dress code?

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Monday, August 29, 2011

September Photo Linky Announcement! Don't Miss This One

I could not wait to announce the next monthly photo linky. Because of a topic that everyone can find a picture for AND because of the amazing prizes! In fact, if you "like," Things I Can't Say on facebook, you already know some of this because I spilled part of the details over there this past weekend!

A few weeks ago, I shared my Magic Moment with you. For me, it was a moment when my boys were acting like the best of friends. No fighting. It was so sweet. 

But, a Magic Moment could be anything, really: from big, life-changing events like getting married or having a baby to the small moments like a child's smile or a fun party or a pretty sunset.  


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Some of my recent Magic Moments: brotherly love, a quiet moment, and the first day of school. 

Everyone has a Magic Moment.  Starting on Monday, September 12 thru Monday, September 19th, you can share yours! 

To participate: Create a post sharing your Magic Moment(s), grab the button below, and link up! Linky will open at 12:01am 9/12 and close 11:59pm 9/19 (ET). Pics submitted should be ones that you have permission to post. Please do not use images you googled or took from someone else- big no, no, y'all. 



 
Button by The Frilly Coconut


Now, for the prizes! Our sponsor for this event is ThisLife, which keeps all of your photos and videos safe and organized for you!  You can try it out for yourself  and download a 6 month free trial of ThisLife. You can also like ThisLife on facebook and follow them on twitter

The prizes from ThisLife will help you to capture even more of those Magic Moments. Winners will be selected randomly from those who submit a valid entry

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 (approx. value $375-400) to capture even more of those moments! 

I cannot wait to see all of your Magic Moments! Thanks to ThisLife for such great prizes!

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's Not Fair: Brothers Edition

On Wednesday, I shared with you how I'm not a fair mom.

And yes, that can affect my boys. I happen to think that sibling rivalry exists in pretty much every family to some extent. But, when you add in a child who has special needs, it can ramp up those feelings of rivalry and fairness.

Today, I'm sharing my thoughts about fairness and siblings over on The Squashed Bologna as part of Varda's Special Needs Sibling Saturdays. Please go visit!


To all my friends on the east coast: hope you are safe from Irene this weekend! We're expecting to get through the worst of it here by Saturday afternoon. Here's hoping that I'll still have electricity!

Comments are off. 

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: By Any Other Name

I'm bringing you another wonderful writer this week. Her words flow with such grace on her blog, making you feel like you are right there in the middle of her stories.

Meet Julie from By Any Other Name:
Before we get this party started, I want to thank Shell for inviting me here. Things I Can't Say is among the first blogs I discovered on these interwebs and Pour Your Heart Out is one of only two link-ups I’ve attempted. I admire Shell’s work-ethic and the platform of expression she affords. So can you tell I’m a big fan? How wonderful. Now, where were we?

Ah, yes. The party!

I’d planned to write a HOORAY-MY-KIDS-ARE-BACK-IN-SCHOOL post; An Ode to Freedom and Bliss.

I know many of you sent little ones off to pre-school or kindergarten for the first time and hoped to assure you there’d one day be an end to the sobbing and the snot. (Yours, of course. They’re fine.)

So here’s what’s killing me:  

I’m snotting-it-up here in Gardnerville and my children are in 7th and 8th grade. 

Which means, of course, I’m also completely insane.

In June, I counted the days (77) until Karly and Jack could return to their middle school campus and I could return to writing. I gazed wistfully at the computer imagining a summer of missed opportunities to spew brilliance onto blank screens.

I calculated the number of pages I couldn’t write while carting teenagers, boogie boards and sunblock beach-ward. I felt my words slip from me, my (no-doubt) best-selling novel fading into oblivion as I fixed sandwiches for the ravenous masses.

I shifted tactics, convinced myself I deserved a mental break. Writing isn’t an activity one dives into whilst distracted. Art requires the proper mindset, does it not? Creativity is a dish best served in chunks of quiet-time during which one might free her brain and let the paragraphs flow.

Right? Well.

As it turns out, this may have been crap.

Because after taking my kids to school this morning, I returned to the very peace I sought. The empty rooms of my household rang with silence. The last outlet for my well-established procrastination had fled and I’m mortified to admit (especially to those who yearn for such rich opportunity) I was in tears.

So I ask you now. What the hell is wrong with me?

…Do I dread working? No, I'm not that lazy. I love writing and I desperately want to publish a book or three. And also to blog and tweet and oh yeah make some money.

…Do I question my ability to achieve the writing dream I’ve envisioned since childhood? Yes, my dear Watson, you may have something here. And yet I've met with some success in these endeavors, so why why why quit now?

…Do I lament my own waning youth as I watch my children grow taller, wiser, more lovely? No, I'm not a self-absorbed witch=queen of Disney film-ology. And besides. There's always Botox.

…Do I hear the siren’s call of a controlling mother who doesn’t want to let her babies go?
Cue the crickets. And the answer:  Maybe.

While my offspring remain young(ish), I have purpose, a concrete goal to reach, a list of responsibilities that’s at once both finite and endless. I may struggle with the challenges of parenthood but being a mother is an achievement no one can take from me.

Who cares if my blog languishes or my tweets go unanswered? So what if friends ignore my Facebook posts or my manuscript is “not right for the market” again and again (and again)?

My children are still here, waiting with backpacks and smiles, with tales of pain and joy.  I help with homework, quiz them on upcoming tests; I fix snacks and lunches, wash PE clothes.

I will not fail the loves of my life. Of this I am (almost) sure.  

So after working outside the home for sixteen years, I took a leave of absence to write and ended up embracing a different occupation entirely. Now (despite glib protests to the contrary), it seems my word-seeking day-job has taken a backseat to this career called mothering.

Which reminds me.

It’s almost time to pick the kids up from school.




Please leave Julie some comment love here and then go follow her fabulous blog, By Any Other Name


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Safe and Fun Internet Exploring for Kids (Free One Year Subscription)

Fooz Kids Happy Kids are Fooz Kids
Thank you to Fooz Kids for providing me with an All-In-One pack to review. The opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint.

So, I know I'm supposed to let my kids play on the computer. Kids these days yes, I sound old saying that are surrounded by technology and are expected to know how to use it. Even my kindergartener has a computer class at school.

But, aside from the fact that I do not like to relinquish my laptop to anyone, I have other issues with turning my computer over to my kids.

First of all, if there is something inappropriate to be found, my kids will find it. Like the Barney video that I wasn't paying attention to because hey, it's Barney... until some stick figure comes out of the side of the screen, guns down Barney and says "Shut the f--- up!" And no, that f--- was not bleeped out. And there lay Barney, bleeding. I'm not a fan of Barney, but I'm even less of a fan of my kids watching him be murdered and hearing the f-bomb.

Second, even when I find my kids an appropriate web site, they tend to click around and find their way out of it. To a website that doesn't interest them or they close out of what they were working on. Either way, they need my help in getting them back on the site they were just on. While I don't mind helping them, there are times when I'm only letting them on the computer so that I can get something done elsewhere in the house.

My final reason why I didn't like to share my computer is that it's MY computer. And I would freak out if they did something to it. I keep lots of files that I need on here. The thought of them accidentally deleting something makes me break out into a sweat. And they also like to hit buttons. They have sent emails to random people. While that might be cute when the email gets sent to their uncle, it's not so cute when a string of nonsensical letters gets sent to someone that I'm working for.

But despite all my whining valid reasons for being wary about my kids going online, it's an experience that I want them to have. But I wanted a way for them to only be able to see appropriate content, need minimal assistance from me while playing, and for them not to be able to get into other areas of my computer. That's not asking for too much, is it?

Actually, it isn't too much to ask! Fooz Kids is an application that provides kids with a secure and entertaining internet environment- that you can control. You download Fooz Kids(don't worry, it's spyware-free and adware-free!) and then choose what websites, games and videos that you want your child to have access to.





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This is the view of the parental dashboard for one of my boys. This one is for my youngest, so I selected "boy" then age "2-4." I could go down the list and check or uncheck different sites, games, videos, and crafts, depending on what I want him to have access to.  All of the choices are age-appropriate. But, I unchecked Calliou because I can't stand to hear that whiney voice. I also unchecked some others, just to give him a little less to scroll through.

Like I did, you can narrow the choices by gender, age (2-4, 5-7, or 8-11) and/or by personal preference. You can also add your own approved sites on "My Channel." And yes, if you have multiple kids, you can set up an account for each of them.





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All navigation is within the application. The graphics and arrows make it easy for kids to find what they want and explore. Even my three year old has an easy time with it.

If my boys do try to exit out of Fooz Kids, they get this message:

PERFECT! Since we downloaded Fooz Kids, I've let my boys have a lot more computer time because I feel completely at ease knowing they are only seeing appropriate content. And I know that they can't get onto a site where they shouldn't be or even get into another area of the computer where they shouldn't be.

Aside from the websites, videos, games, and crafts on Fooz Kids, your child can also send and receive mail(even videos- though of course only to and from people you approve), make an avatar that looks like them, and even practice math skills appropriate for their grade level. More features are coming soon, too!

I highly recommend FoozKids to any parent!

Normally, it costs $11.99 for an annual subscription, but if you use my referral link, you can get a free Fooz Kids account! Woohoo! And yes, feel free to share this link with friends, toohttp://bit.ly/pmorYJ

Please click here to learn more about Fooz Kids. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own. #cleverfooz

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How We Met

Don't you just love stories about how couples met?

My friend Rach hosts a weekly feature called "So, How'd You Meet?" where we can share our stories.

This week, I'm over on her blog Life with Baby Donut telling the story of how Hubs and I met. Plus, I'm sharing one of my absolute favorite pics of us as a couple even though it's almost 9 years old. We haven't changed a bit.

Please go visit!





Comments are off.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: Not a Fair Mom

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 know that all I can do as a mom is to make what I think is the best decisions when it comes to each of my children.

Those decisions might look different for each of them. And they might change from year to year... or even day to day.

My boys are all so very different. Even if they tend to look so much alike that they sometimes confuse people.

So, the choices that I make(we make, Hubs included) are with each specific child in mind. We try to do what is right for each.

That doesn't always mean that things are "fair."

Not if your definition of fair means exactly the same.  Someone once commented on a post that I wrote something like "Fair does not mean the same. It means giving each child what they need."

I can't remember who wrote it or even what post it was on- but a huge thank you to whoever said this as your words have stuck with me.

We have made very different decisions for our oldest two. Our oldest headed off to kindergarten last year.  He started the year already meeting all of the objectives that students need to meet by the end of the year.  He was confident and ready to go. We didn't even consider not sending him to the local public school.

It's a good public school. Possibly the best of the 20 in our district. And he did really well there. He can't wait to see who of his friends would be in his first grade class. He loves his school and he wouldn't want to switch.

But our Bear is 5 and we agonized over school for him.  Where should he go? Which school is right? Which program is right?

One thing I knew and these words actually came out of my mouth was that I would send him to public school over my dead body.

This was not about me having anything against public schools. In fact, I once thought before I had kids that I'd never choose a private school over a public school.

This was about knowing that it was not the right decision for our Bear. Once we thought we had a school that might be a good fit for him, I met with the Principal to discuss specific concerns. She helped decide which program to enroll him in and which teacher would be the best fit for him. I also met with that teacher before school started.

We're almost a week into Kindergarten and while I can't say anything for sure at this point, I can say that the choice feels right. That he loves going to school. "Thank you for taking me to Kindergarten, Mom!" he says. And that his teacher saying goodbye to him yesterday by saying "Okay, Handsome! I love you!" made me feel really good about this choice. He needs that warm and fuzzy.

So, he's happy and our First Grader is excited about starting his school tomorrow. Neither asked a thing about why they weren't in the same school. After all, they weren't in the same school last year either.

But, is our choice "fair?"

At orientation night for the private school, I ran into the mom of one of my first grader's friends.  Her son had been in kindergarten with my oldest but she was switching him to the private school for this year. We chatted but then she noticed that I only had one of my boys with me and it was not the one she expected.

I told her that oh no, only my kindergartener would be coming here and my oldest was staying at the public school.

Eyes that went WAY wide and then narrowed, a head tilt, a grimace, lips that parted as if about to speak and then a mouth that slammed shut: that was her reaction. I knew she wanted to ask why. But, I just smiled and excused myself as the line I was in moved forward.

Then, yesterday afternoon, we were at First Grade Open House. Oldest was introducing his brothers to his TA(who was his TA last year and very well knows who they are) and he pointed and said "He's in Kindergarten. But NOT here with me!" Cue same reaction as above.

Then his teacher was asking about my other boys, what grades, etc. When I said Kindergarten, she asked who his teacher is. I had to say oh no, he goes to insert name of private school here

Met with the very same reaction.

I know it's a choice that not everyone will understand. I know that it could be seen as not being fair.

But, I don't owe an explanation to others about the choices that I make in the best interest of each of my children.

And as for fair, I'm going to focus on that meaning that each child is getting what he needs.



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

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 Whines About the Newly Potty-trained

For the first time in about 6.5 years, I do not have a child in my house in diapers. A little over 3 of those years, I had 2 in diapers.  So, to say that I haven't changed a diaper in a little over 2 weeks should make me want to jump up and down with joy. We did actually celebrate this occasion with cupcakes.

But, as much as I'm thrilled to be a diaper-free household, especially in time for preschool, there are some pain in the ass unique challenges to having a newly potty-trained child in your house.

1. Cries at 5:30am to go to the potty. I'd much rather he use a pull up and let me sleep.

2.  Requests to "watch me" and "help me" when really, he just wants a captive audience while he makes faces and tells silly jokes. I'd rather do this anywhere in the house except for the bathroom.

3. Increased potty talk. I already had 2 older boys who thought that "poop" and "butt" were hilarious words. Now I have three.

4. Speaking of three.... THREE boys with bad aim. Though the newest potty trainer is the worst, of course.

5. Obsession with public restrooms. I can tell my older two to wait until we get home, but I have to take the youngest. I shudder just thinking of walking into a public restroom.

6. Having to carry extra clothes, just in case of an accident.

7. Practice in undressing and dressing has resulted in youngest thinking it's hilarious to moon people while yelling "Butt-y butt!"

8. Sudden curiosity in how mommy can pee since she doesn't have a "peepee."

9. Accidents in underwear are so much more disgusting to clean than changing a dirty diaper.

10. New bedtime struggle: youngest insisting about 12 different times that he needs to go to the potty. I want to get frustrated and tell him that he doesn't and just to go to bed, but see #9 for why I let him get away with it.

What is your biggest potty training complaint?


P.S. Be sure to check out the contest going on over on ThisLife's facebook page this week. Upload a pic with a theme of "laughter" and you could win a Kodak PlaySport Video Camera. I kinda think my little goofball up there goes with the theme.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

The Hot Seat

You asked, I answered!

Please visit me over at Four Plus an Angel

And leave a question for next week's Hot Seat-er while you are over there! 

Comments are off. 

P.S. I posted two giveaways this weekend that will help you get organized for the school year. Please check them out in the sidebar! 

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Organize Your Purse: Purse Perfector Giveaway

I am NOT an organized person. But, this is something that I am trying to change. I'm getting our schedules organized with a little help from the planner that I reviewed yesterday. I'm giving one away, too! Make sure you check it out. 


But, now I need help organizing all the "stuff" that I seem to collect.

Back in June, I attended the Type A Parent Conference and received a Purse Perfector with its claims to be "the end of handbag chaos." I thought it was a great idea.  But I didn't try it out right away. I thought oh, someday, I'll  dump all the junk in my purse and get organized.



And then, a few weeks ago, I was scrambling to find my debit card in my purse yet again and my husband sighed in exasperation and handed me his so I could run into the store to grab drinks to take with us to the beach.  As I was leaving, he was muttering something about how unorganized I am.

I got a little red in the face. Both from anger and from embarrassment. Because he was right. I should be able to find my debit card quickly. I should be able to find whatever I need from my purse quickly.

So, I dug out that Purse Perfector and gave it a try.
Be gentle here because I'm going to show you my before and after pics.

Before:

After:

I've actually been able to keep my purse organized in the month that I have been using the Purse Perfector. Something else I love about it is that I can take it out, put it into a different purse, and have everything I need. 

I have a spot for my driver's license, credit cards, gift cards, checkbook, coupons, insurance cards, business cards, receipts, pens, and lip gloss. There's even room for my phone and my small point and shoot camera. 

You can unzip it on two sides to have a long, thin profile, perfect for a briefcase or you could unzip all the way and have two small Purse Perfectors. I like keeping mine together and having that extra pocket in there to fit my checkbook. 

Here's a view of the dimensions of the medium-sized Purse Perfector: the one I have and the one that's up for grabs in this giveaway:
The medium Purse Perfector retails for $54 and is available in eight different colors. It's made in the USA and is machine washable.  You can find Purse Perfector on facebook

GIVEAWAY: One of you will win a medium Purse Perfector in the color of your choosing. 

Open to US only, this giveaway will close at 9pm ET on 8/28.  Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. If your email is not visible in your profile, please leave it with your entries.

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment telling me why you need help getting organized!

Additional Entries
*Follow Things I Can't Say GFC
*Follow @PursePerfector on twitter and leave your username

I received a Purse Perfector for review purposes. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own. 

This giveaway is now closed and the winner is #79 Dawns41

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Busy Body Book: Organization Help for Moms! Giveaway

As the school year was getting closer, I started to realize all that my family was going to have going on. And that it was going to be up to me to keep it all straight and get everywhere where they needed to be, when they needed to be there, and with what they needed to have.

  • 3 boys in 3 different school with 3 different schedules, 3 different lunch/snack issues... field trips, special days, etc
  • weekly speech therapy
  • weekly OT
  • 2 different soccer teams
  • storytime
  • Karate, gymnastics, Boy Scouts (things my boys are trying to talk me into)
  • random stuff they want/need to do(b/c that covers anything I'm leaving out)
Plus making sure that I have time to grocery shop, blog, and get myself to the gym. I knew I couldn't keep it all straight without some sort of organizer. So, I asked twitter because twitter knows all for some suggestions for planners. 

I received a few different responses and looked at all of them. Not only did I need something that would help me stay organized, but I almost needed something that fit my budget.  My friend Melissa from Peanut Butter in My Hair had suggested a BusyBodyBook, a personal and family grid organizer. It seemed to have all I needed AND be reasonably priced (products range from $12.95-17.95). 

Photobucket
Oops, I guess I better take my son's birth certificate out of the pocket now that I've shown it to his school. Just noticed that in this pic. 

I was planning to order one the next day. But before I could, Joan, the publisher of BusyBodyBook Organizers, contacted me and we talked a little about what scheduling/organization challenges my family had. She offered to send me any one of their products to try out.

I selected the Academic AUG 11 - AUG 12 BusyBodyBook Personal & Family Organizer in Cherry so that I could start using it right away.

Left side of the weekly page:
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Right side:
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You decide if you want to assign each column to a person or to a specific area like "Dinner" or "Blogging" or "Workouts." I love that it's customizable and that there is plenty of room to write in plans for different people/topics.

This week, only one of my children had school and soccer, so it wasn't quite as frantic as it's going to get, but I still had quite a bit to keep track of- including reminding myself that I needed to post this review and giveaway! Once school is in full swing, our schedule will be even busier.

I'm extremely happy with my BusyBodyBook. Thanks, Joan! And thanks to Melissa for suggesting them!


You can download free BBB Weekly Grids to try them out for yourself. Show them a little love and Like them on facebook, too!


 GIVEAWAY: One of you will win the BusyBodyBook product of your choice. 


Products include: BusyBodyBook Academic Year Calendar, BusyBodyBook Calendar Year, 7 Column BusyBodyBook Undated Weekly Grid Pad, and a Weekly Wall Calendar.

Open to US only, this giveaway will close at 9pm ET on 8/28.  Winner will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. If your email is not visible in your profile, please leave it with your entries.


Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment telling me why you need help getting organized!


Additional Entries
*Follow Things I Can't Say GFC
*Follow @busybodybooks on twitter and leave your username


I received a BBB for review purposes. No other compensation was provided and all opinions are my own. 

This giveaway is now closed and the winner is #60 Jessica at My Simply Complicated.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: Old Tweener

This week's Blog Friend Feature is an amazing writer. Her words never fail to make me feel. I've always thought that of her. But, when she sent me her guest post on Wednesday night, I was in the middle of making sure I had everything set to go for the following morning: my middle son's first day of kindergarten. I read with a smile on my face... until the tears came. It was such perfect timing. I feel honored to be able to host her words here.

Meet Sherri from Old Tweener:


School Daze

It seems these past few weeks that everywhere in Bloggy Land and Twitterville kids are heading back to school.

Which means about half of the mommy population is giddy and crowding the local Starbucks; the other half is left weeping in the school parking lot.

New backpacks are loaded with supplies, pants that are just a bit too long are rolled up, and everyone has freshly trimmed hair.

It’s go time.

And that first day of kindergarten?

Huge.

When you are a new-to-elementary-school parent, you aren’t quite sure what to expect. There is this strange pull somewhere inside you to make sure the teacher knows what an unusually smart and adorable child you are entrusting her with.

Even if you didn’t think you were that kind of parent.

Because deep inside? We all are.

On my son’s first day of kindergarten all of the proud camera-toting parents were allowed to crowd into the back of the classroom and turn paparazzi as the shiny new kindergartners sat on the ABC rug and introduced themselves one-by-one.

I haven’t seen a prouder group of adults gathered anywhere since.

Cameras flashing, mothers waving, proud dads ignoring the cell phones for just a bit.

Each one of us convinced that our child would be the best-in-show.

After each child had gone to the front of the class, met the teacher, and introduced themselves to everyone they all sat back down on the ABC rug.

And that’s when it happened.

“Turn around and wave good-bye to your parents!” the cute young teacher said to her 20 new captives.

What?

We leave now?

Awkward glances shot around the room as we started to file out. Still waving, of course, but now with pinched lips and a forced smile.

Then the worry set in.

Did I pack the right snack? Will he be able to undo the snap on his jeans when he has to use the big boy potty? Can he open the small milk carton? Reach the soap dispenser? Pump on the swing? Remember that W and X are two different letters, not strung together like they seem to be in the ABC song?

And as the kindergarten year progressed I started to realize that these things I thought were so very important before starting kindergarten?

Didn’t seem to matter as much as the basics.

Being kind, waiting your turn, sitting still for a bit and listening to the teacher…these were important.

They were just a group of twenty random little kids, all sizes and abilities, thrown together in one room with one common goal.

To get to First Grade.


And they all did it in their own way, whether they wrote their name perfectly on that very first day or struggled with the pencil until late May. Milk cartons were opened with help if they needed it. Teachers can always help with stubborn snaps and zippers. Colors and shapes and alphabet letters all learned by the end.

This initial group of 20 kindergartners is starting to head off to college now, finding their way in a world we all spent the past 18 years preparing them for. Some made it with extra help along the way; others needed extra challenges. But they are all reading, writing, and can recite their colors if asked.

Proud parents with cameras will once again crowd around taking pictures in dorm rooms and forcing a smile when it’s time to leave.

And the kids? They’ll be doing a happy dance, because they’ve made it all this way.

Lessons learned on the playground and in the classroom all the way back to kindergarten helping them along the way.

Be kind. Wait your turn. Sit still for a bit. Listen to the teacher.

They’ll all do fine.

We’re the ones that have to adjust sometimes.



Old Tweener

Please leave Sherri some comment love here and then go follow her blog!

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Down the Aisle and the Hot Seat

Let's play distract Shell from thinking about her middle son's first day of kindergarten day.

Bright and shiny distract her. Oh yes, here we go....

My friend Natalie over at Mommy of a Monster is doing a fun link up this week, asking her readers to share a favorite wedding pic.

You can see some of the pics from our wedding day.  But, some of my faves came from the photo shoot that we did several months after our wedding. I put on my dress again, though I left my hair down unlike on our wedding day. Hubs put on his tux. We grabbed a bottle of champagne and went to the beach.

We just played around and were silly together. It was such a blast!


Hmmm, I wonder if I could get into my dress now. Maybe I'll try that to further distract myself today.

Share your favorite wedding pics with Natalie all this week!


Also: I'm in the Hot Seat this week at Four Plus an Angel. First watch the hilarious vlog where my friend Tracy talks about why she hates flip flops(my footwear of choice) and then you can ask me anything in a comment over there and I'll answer when it's my turn to take the Hot Seat on Monday. 

Y'all? My Bear is a kindergartener. So no, I can't really focus on anything else today, but I promise to be back tomorrow with a fabulous BFF whose perfect timing of her post made me tear up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: Motherhood is Easy

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. ;)



 


Motherhood is easy. Being a mom comes naturally. You'll instinctively know what to do for your children.

Oh, the lies that we are told and that we tell ourselves.

I love my children. When I first held my oldest when he was a teeny little newborn, I was overwhelmed with love for him.

I knew I was meant to be a mama.

And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

But, damn, is it hard sometimes.

I don't always know the right thing to do with my kids. I lose my temper. I screw up.

My kids screw up, too. Because none of us is perfect.

But, I can get fooled by the illusion of the perfect mom with her perfect kids.

The one whose kids are smiling their way through Target in completely spot-free and coordinating outfits. The mom is smiling, too. And wearing an outfit that I would love to wear, if only I had the fashion sense to put it together and the money to have it in my closet. They breeze down the aisle past me, happily chatting away, not a care in the world.

Meanwhile one of mine is crying because he doesn't like his seat in the cart, another is watching inappropriate youtube videos that I still can't figure out how he managed to find on my phone, and the third is pouting and shooting everyone dirty looks. One has his crocs on the wrong feet and another has his shirt on inside out. I'm pretty sure that I slept in the tank top I'm wearing and I'm so tense that I'm pushing the cart along as fast as I can, clutching the cart with white knuckles.

I watch that perfect mom and her perfect kids turn the corner and think why can't that be me? Why can't it be easy?

She can do it. She has it easy. I must be doing something wrong.

But, luckily, I can remember: that's only a snapshot of time.

Sure, her kids are being angels and she looks amazing.

And yes, my kids are driving me insane and I'm in desperate need of a wardrobe overhaul by Tim Gunn and a big glass of wine.

But, it's just a snapshot of time.

That perfect family might have gone home only to have the kids decide that it was time to get all that energy out. Maybe one colored on the walls while another decided to try out the dirty words he heard on tv, and the third had a diaper blowout so nasty that it ruined even the mom's outfit.  Her husband is going to be late and she's going to have to deal with bedtime on her own. She pours a glass of wine by 4:30.

And mine can go home to make a fort behind the couch, tell silly stories, and actually get along. I can watch them have fun and get dinner ready, laundry folded, and relax a little bit. With my glass of wine at 4:30.

But, I tend to focus on what was hard about the day.

I judge my parenting by all the bad moments. And someone else's by the good moments that I see.

That's not real. None of us has it easy all of the time.

And thank God, all of us have good moments, too.  Moments when we can think this motherhood thing is easy. 


Just don't buy into the lie that it's always easy. And stop beating yourself up when you have a rough day. I'm going to try to cut myself some slack, too.

And don't tell other mamas that it's always easy, either.  That's just asking for one of your kids to have a meltdown in the middle of Target on your next trip. 






If you link up, please visit at least the linker before and after you.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meme Tips (and Winners, Too!)

First of all, thank you to everyone who linked up for the Summer Fun Show-off! It's hard to believe we are halfway through August and that a lot of schools have started back up already or will soon. If you missed checking out everyone's summery pics, you can check them out HERE.

Thanks to Ubisoft and Clever Girls for sponsoring prizes for this link-up!

Now for the winners!

Winning a copy of Smurf Dance Party and a Smurf Plush:
#50: The Montana Dailey News
#24: Vinobaby's Voice
#74: My Life as an Officer's Wife

Our Grand Prize Winner: winning Smurf Dance Party, Just Dance for Kids and Just Dance Summer Party:
#2 My Crazy Busy Life

Congrats to all! Look for an email from me later today!

Now, on to some meme tips!  If you've ever thought about starting your own link up, check out my tips(as well as finding out exactly what a meme is and how to say it!) over on SITS Girls: How to Start a Blog Meme.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

My Magic Moment

Do you see my boys? They are not fighting, wrestling or arguing. They are holding hands, united in their mission: to get mama to buy them an ice cream after an afternoon of playing at the park. THAT is a magic moment around here. 

Taken with my iPhone on instagram, this is one of my favorite pics of the summer. 

I don't want to lose it.

Y'all? I am so unorganized. My photos are all over the place: on my computer, picasa, facebook, shutterfly, and instagram.  I needed some help!   Then I was invited to try ThisLife, which helps organize all your photos.  And once I started playing around with ThisLife and seeing what it could do, I was hooked. If it can help me, it can help anyone. 


ThisLife is a Magic Box that will gather, improve, and organize your photos/videos for you in a chronological timeline. It even fixes your photos and has cool features like facial recognition, to help you search for the photo you are looking for.  Trying to find a picture of me usually takes me a while, since I'm rarely in front of the camera. But, I can do a search for any pic that I'm actually in and easily find those when I need a pic to use for something like my twitter or facebook profile. 

Those photos I had stored all over the place? ThisLife took all of them and organized them for me.  Oh, and any new pic that I take using instagram? I have my account set up that it automatically gets safely stored in the cloud. Don't worry, you choose what programs will sync to your ThisLife account. 

If only ThisLife could organize the rest of my life as easily as it did my photos. 

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. 

ThisLife sponsored my post today. I received compensation and a free trial service in exchange for telling my story.  And btw, if you like them on facebook, please talk to them- I am part of the team posting over there!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Blog Friend Feature: Mommy Needs a Vacation

Mommy Needs a Vacation. Have truer words ever been uttered? And this week's Blog Friend Feature was brilliant enough to grab that as the name of her blog. She's hilarious and real. She's on my list of bloggers I absolutely must meet IRL some day. We'd share massive amounts of wine and have a blast.

Meet Rachel of Mommy Needs a Vacation:

Before I begin my rant (and yes it is a rant!), I would just like to thank Shell for featuring me here today! You rock lady and I love your brutal honesty!

Summer is my favorite season of the year.

I love the sunshine.

I love the 85-degree California days.

I love wearing flip-flops.

I love being tan.

I love a nice chilled Chardonnay.

I love eating pounds and pounds of fresh corn on the cob.

BUT….

There are a few major downsides to the summer season.

1) The kids are home ALL.OF.THE.TIME. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. I love spending time with them. But they are a pain in the ass sometimes. Especially during the summer season when I have them ALL.DAY.EVERYDAY.TO.MYSELF.


2) Which leads me to…there is NO SCHOOL in the summer. Yes, yes…there are summer camps and such, but they do not have the same structure as the school year. Even though this coming school year I only have preschool drop off a few mornings a week, I am literally marking off the days on the calendar until school starts with large black X’s. The blessed day this year….August 24th.  School = Structure = Alone Time = Happy Mom.


3) The Pool. I hate the pool. I used to love the pool…before I had kids. It was my nice quiet time to relax and soak up some sunshine. Now the pool means total craziness and chaos. Since my kids are still very young, I spend my time at the pool on drowning watch. Being a lifeguard is not fun. I should know since I actually was a lifeguard during summers in high school. Now, I spend the entire “pool time” hovering over my children and picking them up out of the water every time they go face down. Which is like every 3 minutes. So if we go to the pool for 2 hours that calculates to 40 drowning saves. Times 2 kids = 80 drowning saves. That doesn’t count the times I turn my back for one second and some bigger kid tackles my 2 year old and holds him under water. So, yeah…I hate the pool.


4) Which leads me to shaving. Even though I live in California where it is warm more of the year than not, I have to shave my legs and bikini line WAY more than I want to in the summer. I am lucky enough if I actually make it into the shower on a daily basis as a stay-at-home mom, let alone actually have enough time to SHAVE! But since I take my kids to the pool so much, I have to shave. WHY do I even take them to the pool? Less pool time means less shaving time.


5) Summer season means longer days. Longer days mean lots of outside light. Outside light means that the kids stay up later because it is too bright to go to bed. If my little angels sat quietly and played nicely outside so that I could peacefully sip my wine during these extra hours of light, it wouldn’t bother me as much that they stayed up later. But alas, they do not. These longer days also mean a lot less time for Twitter, wine drinking, and all around quiet time at night. Mama needs her Twitter and wine!

6) These longer days with more outside light also means that the kids are up earlier by a good 30 minutes. I like to sleep. When the kids get up 30 minutes earlier, I lose sleep. When I lose sleep, I am cranky. When I am cranky, I am the mom with no patience for her kids. And on and on it goes….


Even after complaining about all of these downsides to summer, I know deep down inside that I should be savoring these summer moments with my children. Once they are older, they won’t want to do anything with me during the summer. But for now, all I want is a little ME time. A little down time. A little peace and quiet that only the fall and school year can bring.



{Are you ready for summer to be over or do you actually like spending time with your kids?}


Please leave Rachel some comment love here and then go follow her fabulous blog

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mistakes from a Blogging Newbie

I did not do research before I started blogging. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this blog.

I've made a ton of mistakes along the way.

Today, I'm sharing five of those blogging mistakes over on Business to Blogger. Please head over and share yours, too!




Don't forget that you have thru Monday night to link up your favorite summer pics for the Summer Fun Show-off. Meet new bloggers and win prizes, too! 

Comments are off. 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: When I Let You Be Hurt

Please note that this is the Pour Your Heart Out linky. If you are looking for the Summer Fun link up, please go 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. ;)




 
New button by Jess at The Frilly Coconut: it matches the brand new look she is working on for my blog! 

My 5 year-old has lead poisoning. Though his numbers are falling, his lead levels are still high. He needs to have routine blood draws to monitor his levels.  Because we know that his levels are high, this is no little and quick finger stick: he needs to have a draw from his arm to get more blood to accurately get a reading.  These draws are always stressful and painful. I realize that what we go through is nothing in comparison to other families, but it doesn't make it any easier at the time. 

Though the following words don't mean anything to him now, I imagine that this is how I would explain these blood draws to my son.

Usually, they let you sit in my lap. I wrap my arms around your body and one of your arms while a nurse takes the arm they need and another wields a needle.

I lean down toward your ear and whisper words of comfort that aren't going to help, but somehow I can't stop myself. I never tell you that it won't hurt because I won't lie to you. But instead I plead with you to stay still so that it can be over quickly. I tell you over and over that I love you and I just want you to be all better.

When the time comes, I wrap both of my legs around yours. The goal is to keep you as still as possible, even though I know that you are going to fight.

And it's terrible. The pain comes and you scream because they are hurting you. But, your little body eventually stops fighting and you collapse in exhaustion against me.

I thought that was hard.

But this last time you needed your blood drawn, the nurse shook her head at me when I tried to put you in my lap.

"He needs to sit up on the table," she said.

And so I lifted you up, even though you are more than capable of climbing up on your own. 

I stood close, in disbelief that she really thought this was going to work.  She tells me I should help hold you.

I move closer and put my arms around you. You bury your head in my shoulder, but it's the wrong shoulder, the one facing the needle.

The needle goes into your tiny little vein, the one the nurse insisted was fine, even though I told her we always had better luck in your other arm.

You scream. And fight.

Instead of being able to relax back into me, you lean your body backwards. I try to hold you still, but your body has gone completely rigid.

Your cry is heartbreaking. I know that you are in pain. That you are scared. That you don't understand why this is happening to you, why I would let someone hurt you so much.

I give a fleeting thought to the children out in the waiting room with their parents.  Your cries are frightening. I bet those kids want to run outside because they think that whatever is happening to you will happen to them if they come back here. But it's only a fleeting thought because those kids out there aren't you and they don't have to go through this.

This is taking longer than normal. And my eyes start to fill with tears to match yours.

Your tears and screams aren't getting the pain to stop, so you start to cry out.

"I want to go home! I just want to go home!"

"I know, baby, I know. Hold still and we can go home really soon," I whisper.

"You don't love me any more! You don't!"

And my heart breaks and tears flow fast down my face as I pull you close against my body so you can't see them.

"I love you. I love you so much. Mommy loves you," I repeat, like that will somehow make things better.

You gently pat my back, like you are trying to comfort me, even as you continue to cry.

It's over, but only because your vein blew.  The nurse starts to leave the room in a huff, saying she doesn't know if she has enough of your blood.

Thinking you are all done, you say to her, through your sobs, "Thank you."

That thank you is my undoing. Even more than your tears and screams and yes, even more than you saying that you don't love me anymore.

Because those two little words, they show your sweet heart. That even though someone was hurting you, even though you didn't understand, you still say "thank you" to whoever draws your blood. After every single blood draw for the past two years.

And I hate that you have had to go through all this. I hate that I don't really know when it's going to stop. I hate that you have to be hurt. I hate that you have it harder than a lot of other little boys your age. I hate that I can't fix things for you. I just want to make it all better for you. And I can't.

The nurse comes back in and I tense up, holding you tighter. I don't know what I will do if she says she needs more of your blood.  Let her do it because it needs to be done? Or have to come back another time and start all over again? Please God, I pray, let it be enough.

She tells us she has enough blood and that we can go. I'm prepared to carry you out of the room, though you are past the stage where you are carried unless you are fast asleep.

But, you slide down on your own and head for the door, still crying a little.

I follow close behind and gently take your free hand, not the one that you are cradling close to your body.

You squeeze my hand and I try to blink back more tears.

I want to promise you that it will never happen again, but I know that we'll be back again.



Please visit at least the linker before and after you.

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