Archives for November 2009

Thursday Ten: The Plus Three Thanksgiving Edition


A collage made from the post-its I created for Danielle’s GRATITUDE VIDEO. If I had been thinking, I’d have only used TEN post-its, instead there are thirteen, so… Whoops. I also should have touched up my nail polish. (OPI – Yo Gotta Get This Blue – of course).

Also, below is a video made by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (of Beckoning of Lovely fabulousness) – the 22 Things her Children taught her. I kind of like this a lot.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope your day is filled with fabulousness and good food.

Accessorizing For A Good Cause


My life has been affected by cancer – through my grandfather’s survival of stomach cancer in the 80s, to my cousin kicking rhabdomyosarcoma in the butt ten years ago, to my grandmother’s colon cancer, which combined with her advanced age, killed her two years ago. Though there are so many amazing causes to recognize and donate time and money to, there are two that I’m devoted to — charities that fund cancer research and charities for cystic fibrosis.

When I got the opportunity last year to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer I was thrilled about the experience – I was nervous about fundraising, yes – but I couldn’t wait to be involved. The experience was amazing, to say the least. It’s pretty much 48 hours of walking alongside and in honor of those who have fought breast cancer – some have won their battles, some were not so lucky and some were still in the treatment stages. I was surrounded by amazingly strong women for those two days – I was in awe of their courage, their strength, and their devotion to ensuring that we get to a point someday where NO ONE ever has to receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

It’s funny, Avon contacted me to review this bag  (pictured above) just days after I cemented the decision to take part in the walk for a second year in a row.  I immediately said, “COUNT ME IN!” I received this tote in the mail and love it – it’s a sturdy canvas Marimekko-designed bag, with bright colors that are definitely going to brighten my dreary winter days. It has a zipper closure on the top and 100% of the net profits will be donated to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.  This means that by gifting someone with this adorable bag this holiday season, $6.24 of the $10 sell price will go to an amazing cause. I love a win-win — you win points for giving someone a pretty handy bag, and more money goes towards beating cancer.

And that makes me very happy.

The bag is actually bigger than it appeared to me on the web page – while it’s not big enough for use for an overnight bag, it is just the perfect thing to store books and crayons and other materials in for a long trip, perhaps. I can see taking this along on class trips with The Princess’s class (along with a sack lunch and a big bottle of ibuprofen, perhaps?). This could also come in handy on a quick jaunt to the library, to bring our new books home. Cute, sturdy, and beneficial to one of my favorite causes. I love it.

To learn more about the Avon Walk, click HERE. This year’s motto is “In It To End It” – how awesome is that?!

To see more Avon Pink Ribbon Products, click HERE.

How It All Shook Out

A few weeks ago, I posted about parent-teacher conferences with Pumpkin’s “teacher” (yes, I’m using quotation marks now) at her daycare/preschool. In that conference, the “teacher” told me that Pumpkin likely wouldn’t be ready for kindergarten in the fall. She had a lot to say, but one of her main reasonings for saying “no go” on kindergarten is Pumpkin’s speech.

Her “teacher” told me that her speech was hindering Pumpkin’s social side – and that once she had an IEP for speech therapy at school, maybe, JUST MAYBE, that would help her get ready for kindergarten (among other things).

You all saw how I reacted, right?

I admit, I have a very short-fused mama bear instinct. When it comes to my kids, I instantly have 101 things rolling through my head – I should do this, I should do that, that’s not right, I don’t like that… I’m a huge ball of emotions wanting to make everything right for my children. I once stumbled across a blog post discussing my Facebook/Mother’s Helper dilemma – and all of those commenters (and there were SEVERAL) all thought I was overreacting. In reality, I was venting – as I do – and ultimately after some time to process my thoughts and think – well, then I was able to calmly react, calmly do what needed to be done.

So, while my instinct may be mama bear bordering on helicopter mom, ultimately, with time to marinate my thoughts, I end up scaling back from my initial extreme reaction.

As is the case here.

I was upset. I was very upset. I’m sure most parents see sides of their kids that their daycare providers do not. There’s a comfort level in the home that there may or may not be in the daycare setting. And what I know after careful thought is this: While they provide supremely good care to Pumpkin while she is there, they aren’t REALLY teachers. They may have had a class or two about Zoophonics or how to teach, but these are not degreed teachers who are accredited to educate children. Nor are they qualified to issue assessments such as whether or not my child would be kindergarten ready in the fall.

I spoke with a (real) preschool and Pumpkin will start next semester. This is something I should have been thinking of anyway – to let her start getting to know the kids she’d be in kindergarten with in the fall (versus the daycare kids, some of whom don’t live in our district). They will be able to tell me based on their kindergarten readiness standards if she’s ready by the time June rolls around.

I also met with an Early Childhood Development speech specialist who after an hour of playing with my daughter said that she had no idea where the idea that Pumpkin would require an IEP for speech therapy came into play. She showed me on a chart the sounds Pumpkin struggles with, and the age at which a child typically masters that sound — and she’s actually pretty much within the norms on those. (She also said she’d never met a four year old who knew quite so much about dinosaurs – and she thought that Pumpkin’s curiosity about science, about people and about her surroundings were pretty darn cool).

Y’know, it’s tough. All this… STUFF parents have to think about. And learning to think, absorb, brainstorm, process and THEN react. We want the best for our children, and we want our children to be surrounded by people who have the same hopes for them as we do. Sometimes we’ve gotta step up and advocate for our kids. Sometimes we have to sit back and take a breath and trust that the pieces will fall into place. Sometimes it’s a whacky combination of the two.

It’s funny, as much as school is a learning game for the children, it is for me as well. This parenting stuff is hard work. I’m totally sure my handbook got lost in the mail.

Thursday Ten: The “I’m Quiet, You Know*” Edition

1. I’m learning a new song in guitar! I’m learning a new song in guitar! And it’s EAAAAAAAASY. Finally. Because lemme tell you: bar chords are OBNOXIOUS. It’s a nice change of pace to pick up something new that from get-go I can play because the chords are all ones I’m familiar with and the strumming pattern is the same throughout the song. What song is it? Listen and see. But don’t watch. It’s just a still shot of the most unflattering angle of Howie Day and his two chins.

2. In the mean time, I’m still supposed to work on “Rain King” because if I give up on bar chords than the terrorists win.

3. I made a few loaves of gingerbread last week. I just polished off the last piece and I’m already trying to figure out when I can make another few loaves because… YUM. I love gingerbread.

4. I partially broke my blender this morning. On the lid to our blender (and maybe yours too, perhaps?) there’s a plastic removable piece that you can remove while blending to drop other things in the blender. At least, I’m assuming that’s the purpose of this piece. Annnnnyway. This morning, that little plastic piece FELL IN THE BLENDER while I was blending. That resulted in plastic getting kicked around by the blender blades, which resulted in the stuff I was blending spewing all over my kitchen. Fun times, fun times. Thanks, Oster.

5. In my family, we do the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. That means in the twelve days leading up to Christmas, we all give each other random gifts (three packs of gum, two pairs of socks, etc). Part of my 101 list is to do the Twelve Days of Christmas for someone else. Want it to be you? Go over THERE and leave a comment. I’ll randomly pick someone. You’ll get 12 presents. Fun, right? In the interest of full disclosure: there’s nothing about this giveaway to disclose. No one is sponsoring this or giving me stuff to give you. I’ll go to the store and pick things out for you specifically and send them to you. It’s fun. Play along.

6. And I’m gearing up to plan the 3rd annual Cookie Decorating Party. The kids love it. I love eating cookies — I mean, I love having all the kids over to decorate cookies and have a fun time and… I must be nuts. It takes days to get all the sprinkles out of the dining room carpet (Why do we still have a carpeted dining room? Who knows. It’s silly) after the kids are done. But it’s definitely one of the most fun things we do each year.

7. New music this week – tons. I just added some Brendan Benson and Florence + The Machine (both recommended and given by friends – and I haven’t listened to either yet).

8. Project Runway finale tonight! I don’t like the Top 3, so I’m going to say I’m hoping Carol Hannah wins because she’s the least annoying. And I kind of like her designs.

9. Outside the sky is grey, gloomy and the rain has been intermittent. It’s been spitting rain for a bit – but never a downpour. I did a quick change in my dinner menu – and now we’ll be having an Italian Meatball Soup. I think I need to hit the store for a loaf of french bread — I roasted some garlic last night, and some thick slabs of garlic bread with soup sounds just amazing. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to go off and be one of those people who COOKS. But a girl’s gotta eat).

10. I started Level 3 of Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred yesterday. I have to say, Level 3 is less obnoxious than Level 2 and I’m not sure how that can be? Level 3 felt easier on my knees though it still put a hurting to me (Jumping lunges? Guh). There’s plenty here to give you a workout, but when I finished yesterday I didn’t feel so much like crying while collapsing. Just… collapsing.

* Yes, this is a lyric from Howie Day’s “Collide”

Thursday Ten: Finding My Balance Edition

1. As I write this, I’m sitting on one of those big balance ball things. I figured sitting on the floor hunched over my laptop to work wasn’t doing my posture OR my core any favors. So… here I sit. I feel stronger already. (No, I don’t. But I’m trying to be glass-half-full about it).

2. We have instituted a new family tradition for Friday mornings. Fed up with how long it would take the girls to settle in for bed in the evenings and get up and around in the morning, we now have Donut Day Friday. Friday mornings, we get up and hustle to get out to get donuts for breakfast. In exchange, the girls have to minimize the getting-ready-for-school drama the other four days of the week. It seems to be working alright – it definitely gives them something to look forward to. As for me, Fridays means a cappuccino (because donuts? BLEEECH!).

3. It’s hunting season in Michigan which means that my favorite trail is closed temporarily lest some confused hunter mistake someone out getting their exercise for a deer (crazier things have happened, I suppose). I find it’s not as easy to get the same mileage in when running on the road, though, and I’m averaging shorter (but faster) runs. I dunno which is better – I kind of prefer my slower mosey over greater distance. And I prefer the privacy of the trail so passing motorists don’t have to see me all winded and ready to pass out.

4. In guitar lesson today we continued work on “Fast Car” and “Rain King”. The Tracy Chapman song is there, except speed, but I admit “Rain King”? It’s pretty slow going for me. I have a mental block with the B minor and C#m, and my fingers just won’t get there fast enough. So, my mission for the week is to quit thinking so much and just play. Hopefully that helps.

5. Anyone reading anything good at the moment? I just started reading Jen Lancaster’s “Pretty In Plaid”. I always love her books, and I definitely needed something that would make me laugh.

6. Project Runway is down to the Final Four. And… meh. Y’know, this whole season I have really had a tough time caring about this group of designers. I hope that they have something up their sleeve for next season because otherwise? Yawn. Way to take my favorite show and bore me with it, Lifetime.

7. Also, I really think Heidi Klum should dress better. Why doesn’t she?

8. It was below 30 degrees when we got up this morning. UNDER THIRTY DEGREES. Brrrrr. That’s not good. That’s really horrid. Fortunately, I had stumbled over a sale on fleece scarves at Old Navy this past weekend and picked up new scarves for the kids for a buck apiece. Pumpkin refused to wear hers, preferring to wear The Princess’s old scarf – whatever. As long as the kids were bundled up, my goal was achieved. I’m glad the temp picked up a bit though. I’m not ready for cold all day every day.

9. Sitting on this stability ball is really not fun. I’ve been here awhile now. I keep getting sidetracked while writing this and I’ve been here for about 30 minutes. Except when I got up to go pee because I drank about 80 ounces of water today so far. No, I’m not sure why I’ve had so much water.

10. With both kids at school today, I ran some errands before guitar lesson. Got another bit of Christmas shopping done. I think my favorite part of Christmas shopping is buying stocking stuffers. In addition to putting stockings together for my kids, I still do one for my mom (I think I’ve mentioned, she does one for me and my siblings, so it’s pretty fair). Today, I found a Christmas ornament that looked like a sparkly margarita with a red ornament on top. It’s pretty fitting for my mother, so I’m pretty pleased with my find. Have y’all started shopping yet? If not, when do you start? If you HAVE started shopping, when are you aiming to be done?

Wordless Wednesday: Michigan Sunsets Are The Best


Flu Shot Days and Mondays Always Bring Me Down

A few weeks ago when I realized that I’d missed a scheduled flu shot clinic at my doctor’s office, I called the next day to see if they would be holding another one so that I could get the flu shot for the girls (I’d had Flu Mist when I went in for my yearly physical in September). The nurse told me when I called that the clinic I thought I had missed had been cancelled – they just didn’t have any vaccine. She mentioned they were due to get a shipment, and suggested I call EARLY on Friday morning.

This Friday I had my phone set to remind me ten minutes before the doc’s office opened (and then again five minutes later, just to be sure) to call – and was able to call, get approval for the girls to get the flu shot (seasonal, not H1N1 – I opted not to go that route for my own reasons), and made an appointment for this morning.

You have to realize I felt like I’d scored the ungettable concert tickets or something, snagging two doses of flu vaccine. Within hours of getting the doc’s approval for my girls to get the shot, when I called the office back they had a message saying they were all out (Supply, demand, la di da di da).

I kept fairly hush about the shot aspect. The Princess hates shots, and I’d been hoping to get Flu Mist for her. Pumpkin doesn’t love shots, but she’s pretty okay with them. I kept referring to the fact that we were going to get flu VACCINATIONS, and not saying the S-word.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that The Princess figured out that “vaccination” was just a fancy way of saying “a nurse is going to shove a needle in your arm” and was less than enthused about the process. I thought having Pumpkin go first would help – I sat her on my lap, the nurse gave her her shot in the leg, she let out a brief yelp. Donezo.

The Princess was crying before the nurse swabbed her arm with the alcohol wipe, and because she had clenched her muscles so tight, the nurse seemed to have a lot of difficulty pushing the plunger of the syringe down. It seemed to take forever. And not just to The Princess. To me too.

She was still sniffling when we got out to the car. She was still sniffling when we got to her school. And she was still sniffling this afternoon when the school called to ask me to pick her up early, saying she didn’t feel well.

Her arm is hurting, a lot. Her temperature is up (how much, I don’t know. My lovely ear thermometer has a dead battery and a battery compartment door that is unwilling to open). She needed help getting changed into her pajamas because she didn’t want to move her arm. She’s extremely weepy. Her head hurts.

So, most likely she’s going to be home with me tomorrow. Tuesday is one of my big work days, so it’s going to take a little bit of juggling to make it work, but we’ll manage. Besides, UP comes out on DVD tomorrow — and I think maybe I’ll buy it. And maybe… I’ll let her watch it with me.

Thursday Ten: Mix 1 Mango Protein Drinks Are Keeping Me Away From the Twix Bars

1. Y’know, around this time of day I get hungry. Around this time of year, I have a big jar full of candy in my kitchen. I like candy. A LOT. I really like sweets a lot – and when I post about cookies and I blab on Twitter about candy, YES I ABSOLUTELY CONSUME THIS MUCH SUGAR. (Yeah, I know. It’s bad). So, today, I figured I would grab a healthier snack – and I’m drinking a Mango Mix 1. They aren’t paying me to say this (Though if they ever decide they’d like to pay me to say it, that’s cool too). These are really good. Also, 200 calories and three servings of fruits/veggies. Awesome.

2. Guitar lesson was awesome today –  making progress, and next week, we’re going to quit focusing on the Tracy Chapman song and focus on “Rain King”. It’s hard to find time to practice, but I need to.

3. So, how many of you have kids who have gone through the Toys R Us big book and circled what they want for the holidays? PLEASE don’t let it just be mine. Anyway, yeah, my girls went through it and did some wicked circling, and I’m actually pretty pleased – they both picked things that I look forward to buying. The Princess picked a lot of creative stuff {she wants a guitar, y’all!!}, and Pumpkin picked mostly dinosaur things. And that’s okay with me. There’s a massive amount of stuff out there – but it’s kind of fun to see them zero on things that are really of interest to them.

4. Loads of new music this week – Train’s new release is pretty full of  hooks and is radio friendly and pretty good listening. I just downloaded a free live album from Matt Wertz that my friend tells me she’s had on repeat, but I have yet to listen to it – but I adore him anyway. If you like the acoustic-y guitar boys, check him out on his site while it’s a freebie.

5. So, now that the World Series nonsense is over we can have GLEE back, right? It’s been a few weeks and I’m a little overdue for high school students randomly bursting into song.

6. By the way, no, I don’t follow baseball. At all. I had no opinion on either of the teams who were playing (who was it again? Juuuuuust kidding!). I get a little bit more worked up over the Stanley Cup – but only if the Red Wings are playing.

7. Tomorrow, I get to call to see if the flu vaccine shipment came in and if my kids can get the flu shot (or Flu Mist – since neither of them have asthma, either the shot or the mist will be fine, though they’ll gripe a lot less about the mist). We’ll just do the standard vaccine if we can – we probably will not get the H1N1. Is it so difficult to get the flu shot everywhere?

8.  Level 2 of the Shred. OW. OW. OW. Chair sit v-raises. Ow. Ow. Ow.

9. Today I am wearing my favorite orange sweatshirt. It’s funny, I used to hate orange and now it’s one of my favorite colors. It’s pretty bright – I’m almost flourescent.

10. I need a haircut. I have no idea where to look for ideas, but dang. I really need to do something. This mop needs to be at least 1 – 2″ shorter. It’s getting too long. Where do you find inspiration for getting your hair cut?

Parenthood is a Neverending State of Questioning Yourself

Last night, I attended conferences at Pumpkin’s preschool.

Last night, I drove home from conferences discouraged, frustrated and angry.

Her teacher told me, “I think next fall you’ll want to put her in the Young Fives program versus Kindergarten. I don’t think she’ll be ready for kindergarten.”

She showed me how she asked Pumpkin which letters she recognized, upper and lower case. She showed me when she asked Pumpkin which numbers she knew. And in the case of both letters and numbers, what was reported was considerably less than what I know my daughter knows. You cannot tell me she doesn’t know the letters M and O when I have a post-it stuck to my desk where she wrote “M O M” for me.

It’s as though they sat her down and pointed to a letter and Pumpkin, with her mile wide stubborn streak decided, Y’know… I don’t feel like doing this today.

And clammed up. I’m not sure.

Her teacher advised getting an IEP for Pumpkin once we enter the public school system. REALLY?

Admittedly, I cried a bunch last night. I cried because she’s an amazing kid – and she’s a smart kid. I cried because I felt that her teachers were selling short her abilities because she wasn’t answering their cookie-cutter questions versus assessing her based on work that she’s already done in the classroom. I cried because when it comes to teaching our children, one size DOES NOT fit all, and what might work for little Timmy, Suzy, and Johnny may not work for my child. Instead of searching to find ways that work, they were willing to write her off as not being able to get it – saying “no kindergarten” as if in nine to ten months, she wouldn’t mature and grow to the extent that she might thrive in kindergarten.

To which (once I was done crying) I said, “FORGET THAT.”

I have spent a lot of time this morning exploring some options. I have called the Early Childhood center in our school district for an assessment – this will include an assessment to determine if she requires speech therapy. I’ve also contacted the local preschool to talk to them about what is the expectation for kindergarten readiness and to see if they possibly had openings in their preschool program (The Princess attended that preschool for a semester). A preschool teacher called me back and among many other things, assured me that it was far too early for ANYONE to determine if a kid is going to be kindergarten ready.

She also said that preschool teachers in daycare are often not degreed, and though they are doing the best they can – there is something to be said for having spent the time doing the course work. And that four year olds are notoriously stubborn, and that her own four year old had done the same thing with her preschool assessments – refused to answer questions! She said that kids between the ages of three and six are exploding with growth and change all the time – and ten months is a LONG TIME.

And she has an opening in her class.

It’s an option. And I love having options. I am not willing to allow someone to tell me what my daughter CANNOT do. Tell me what she IS doing, and then tell me what’s next – what will she learn next. If they are telling ME she won’t be ready, do their actions tell her the same?

I don’t know.

There was this period last night where I felt like the air had been sucked out of my body and that someone had been pointing out my daughter’s flaws versus telling me they had any idea of the ways in which she is amazing, the ways she is incredible, that she uses words like “extinct” and “omnivore” in conversation and she knows damn well what they mean. The way that she is creative and her imagination is awesome.

What will happen next? I’m not sure. If we can, it’s highly likely she’ll change preschool programs. A change of scenery might be a good thing. I hate not having the answers, but I do know that I won’t stop trying to figure it out until it’s right.

Reliving My Sister’s Wedding. In Pictures.

A few months ago, I put together a hard-bound book of my 365 project photographs and had it printed by Shutterfly.  After my sister’s wedding, there were HUNDREDS of amazing photographs I needed to have printed, that I needed to have forever. Shutterfly gave me the opportunity to put together a soft-cover 5″ x 7″ book of photos.

I’m not a scrapbooker – I have a horrible time figuring out the “best” way to layout a group of photos. For some pictures I knew I’d want space to write a long caption – on others, I wanted the photo to speak for itself.  Shutterfly’s storyboard functionality made it pretty easy for me. Using the storyboard, you simply determine what pictures you want on each page. Shutterfly then picks a layout that is best based on the orientation and size of the images. If you don’t like what’s chosen? No biggie – you can manually change the layout just by clicking a button. Easy peasy, right?

Shutterfly  Photo Books - Windows Internet Explorer provided by Yahoo! 10142009 25012 PM.bmp

I did notice a difference in color quality between the soft and hard cover book (I think the photos in my hardcover have a better color to them.)

It’s been fun to have a small portable book that fits into my bag, though. This is the perfect size “brag book” and isn’t cumbersome at all. My mom loved my book so much, she bought one of her own. Much larger though, as she wanted to use WAY more photos than I did (she opted for the bigger sized book, with a hard cover).


It’s important to note, as a friend of the photographer – that I was given the rights to reproduce these images by my BFF, the photographer – and that to use copyrighted pictures without authorization for such purposes is no good – please get permission from the photog first!