Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kindergarten Graduation Pictures

There he is, my little graduate!  The kids all sang songs and Matt, of course, only participated in about half of it.  He told me he was tired of them because they sang them in class every day.  ::sigh::  It's what I've come to expect from him.  Tomorrow is Cougar day, and Lucas & I will be visiting the school to join in the fun.  Next week they have half days and Thursday is the last day of school.  I can't believe how quickly the year has flown by!

What a cheeseball!

Matt with his best buddy
Matt with Mrs. Brodt

Congratulations, Matthew!

And don't forget that in honor of Matthew's graduation from kindergarten, I'm giving away a $5 Amazon gift card.  You can enter here!

A Graduation Gift: $5 Amazon GC Giveaway

Summer summer summertime!  (summertime)  Time to kick back and rewind...

Today Matthew is having his "Moving Up" ceremony (from kindergarten), so to celebrate I'm giving one of YOU a $5 Amazon gift card!

First, let me tell  you how I'm able to do this.  This isn't a sponsored giveaway.  A while ago I signed up for  I've signed up for a lot of things over the years, but Swagbucks is definitely the most rewarding.  If you download their toolbar you'll get one Swag buck each day.  And if you use their search engine (conveniently included in the toolbar) you'll randomly earn Swag bucks for searching.  It's the easiest and least annoying way to earn points on the web.  There are other things you can do daily to earn extra SB, like taking their daily poll or viewing what they call NOSOs.  I actually like their NOSOs (No Obligation Special Offers) because I occasionally see something that's worth signing up for.  And the "no obligation" means I don't have to pay or use a credit card to sign up.  There are other special offers as well.  We earned 1,000 SB when we signed up for Netflix, and more recently 450 when I signed up and ordered from  Just using their search box is how I earn most of my SB though.

A $5 Amazon gift card is only 450 SB, and that's what I've used all of my SB towards to date.  Swagbucks has been feeding my Kindle habit!  I just downloaded 50 Shades of Grey using gift cards I earned with them.  I have another, and I'm passing it on to one of you!

It's not much, but stick around because there will definitely be one more giveaway in the very near future.   Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Silly Baby Faces







Saturday, May 26, 2012

Guest Post: Tips for Transitioning into Motherhood

Hi everyone!  Memorial Day weekend is upon us and we have lots of fun planned for the extended weekend, and I'm sure you do, too.  Now, for many of us, Memorial Day is the kick-off to summer, and we're all looking forward to those hot summer months.  We're not *quite* there yet, though.  It's still May, and I recently learned that May is Pregnancy Awareness Month.  So today, in honor of pregnancy awareness, I'm featuring an article written by Katie Moore that is especially helpful to moms to be and moms with brand new babies.

Preparing for Delivery and Motherhood

As you ready yourself for motherhood with time spent at the doctor, redecorating the bedroom and purchasing baby supplies, you're probably wondering what else you can do to plan for the coming weeks and months. Reading books, consulting with your doctor and talking with other mothers will answer questions you didn't know you even had. These resources should help give you a well-rounded picture of what life will truly be like when your baby arrives.

In preparing for delivery day, you will need to choose the setting where you wish to give birth, who will be present for the birth and what to pack for a hospital stay. Developing a birthing plan and giving a copy to the doctor or midwife is a great way to help the birthing experience go as smoothly as possible. Include your choices on pain management, how you would like the atmosphere of the room to feel and what optional procedures, like cord blood banking, you’d like performed. Umbilical cord blood banking is planned for before birth and is performed immediately following delivery; it is where cord blood is collected and then stored at a private facility for possible future medical treatment.  

On the day of the birth, rely on your support persons for comfort and encouragement. Playing music you enjoy during the event will give your mind something to focus on. When your baby is born, bonding will begin. Skin-to-skin contact with your baby will help you both become familiar with each other. Feeding can also begin right away, especially if you are breastfeeding. Getting your baby to latch on may be a little difficult even though they are born with the instinct. It is a great idea to get help from a lactation consultant or other medical professional to be sure your baby is feeding enough.

Once home with baby, your life as a new mother will likely be exhausting and exciting. Late night feedings and fatigue from delivery will make the first few days tiring; sleeping when the baby is sleeping, even if it’s only for a short time will help you catch up on rest. If you begin to feel moody or weepy, don’t just attribute those feelings to being tired. “Baby blues” are feeling that many women get after birth because of the hormonal changes that a woman’s body goes through. Talk to trusted family or friends if you are feeling similarly; if your feelings develop into something stronger, contacting your doctor is the next step to avoid postpartum depression.

It will be important for you to take care of yourself just as well as you take care of your baby. Continuing to maintain a healthy diet and slowly working physical activity back into your routine will help speed along recovery and promote weight loss of any weight gained during pregnancy. Be sure to wait until your six-week postpartum check up with your doctor before starting any exercise routines other than walking and stretching. 

Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mommy.  She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people.  To connect with Katie, contact her via her blog, Moore from Katie, or her twitter, @moorekm26.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Someone Get This Woman a New Camera!

Waaaaay back in the day when I was pregnant with Matt, my sister in law, Nicole (I know, weird, right?) gifted me with a Polaroid digital camera at my baby shower (a500 if you're technical and that means anything to you).  I thought it was the coolest freakin' thing in the world!  I'd never had a digital camera before.  Yes, in 2006 I was still going to get film developed and praying that the shots weren't blurry, too dark, washed out, or otherwise retarded.  Usually from a disposable camera. 

A flip open display helped take this picture
I was beyond excited to get this camera.  It was nothing too fancy.  You could zoom in and out, set the timer.  The display flipped open, which was awesome for me, because I take a lot of pictures of myself (no none else will).  There were three or four flash settings, including auto and off.  Timer!  Extra awesome when paired the the flip out display.  Basically, it served my needs, I was excited to have it, and I considered Nicole both generous and thoughtful.  I was a great baby shower gift! 

Close ups weren't great, but hey! Damn, look at those eyes!!
It didn't take perfect pictures every time, but I could *see* that the picture wasn't perfect... and take another and another and another until I got what I wanted.  More often than not I ended up with great pictures and was extremely pleased with myself.  And for it not having any settings (indoor, sunlight, action, whatever, whatever) it took plenty of great shots on the first try, even into the toddler years. 

At some point in those three years that we lived in sunny FL I started having a problem.  Annoyingly, the date wouldn't save.  Because the date wouldn't save and I was too lazy to reset it *every* time I turned the camera on, the pictures weren't saved on the memory card in chronological order.  SUCKED!  If I wanted to check out the  pictures I took that day, I'd also have to click through every other picture on the camera, from Christmas to the beach.

Luckily for us, a new, better camera fell into our laps.  At the time, Eric was working overnight at the Kangaroo.  If you don't know what that is, consider  yourself lucky!  It's like a Wawa.  Wait, what?  You don't know what a Wawa is, either?  Ok, convenience store/gas station.  Anyway, he was working overnights and there were all kinds of shady characters going in and out.  One night some kid (late teens, early twenties kid) offered to sell Eric his camera for 20 bucks, because he really needed the gas money.  It didn't have a case, or instructions, or a battery charger, or a USB cord or... basically it was a camera with an empty memory card and one battery.  Can we say "stolen!"    That was my first guess, but Eric jumped all over that opportunity and brought it home. 

A much nicer close up
It was an Olympus Stylus 820.  HyperCrystal LCD, 5x optical zoom. 8 megapixels... I don't know what any of this crap means, I'm just reading it off of the camera!  Basically, it was a much better camera than the Polaroid.  There were all kinds of functions: indoor, behind glass, fireworks, sunset, candle light, beach/snow, sport... I could go on.  It took videos, could super-zoom in on stuff, yes, had a timer!  The only thing the Polaroid had on this baby was the flip out screen.  You could crop pictures right there on the camera, instead of spending an hour fixing them at those touch screens at the drug store.  I loved it.  We eventually got all the extras for it.  Best $20 Eric ever spent.  Really.

Unfortunately, one of the extra batteries we bought... somehow became swollen.  I don't know what happened, but it wouldn't fit back in the camera, and we got rid of it.  I wasn't too too upset about it until last week, when I came home from work and noticed that the charger that I put the battery in was unplugged and on the table.  Not where I left it.  And the battery was nowhere to be found.

Crappy shot
So now I'm back to the Polaroid.  The pictures in my last few posts have been from it.  They aren't *bad* but they aren't great.  They aren't what I'm used to.  I wouldn't have gotten a shot like this one, for example.  Plus, I now remember that the Polaroid eats up double As faster than a cheetah can run.  Yes, I am completely aware that the comparison makes NO sense.  Neither does the rate I'm now going through batteries!

I need a new camera!  The simple solution would be to either find the battery or buy a new one, but the door where the battery goes is broken anyway, and it has a tendency to pop open and turn the camera off, which is frustrating.  So I think it's time for a new one.  I even entered a giveaway for a Canon Powershot last week.  I didn't win.  It was the only time I was ever truly upset that I didn't win a giveaway.  I don't know when we'll be able to afford a new camera, which is kind of ironic because two Christmases ago we bought one for my mother in law.

I will happily take donations while I save up, little by little.  Until then, sorry for the less than stellar photos. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Slice of Summer

Once again, it's raining on Monday morning, but I don't even care because we had such a great weekend!    Just a warning to you, my friendly reader, this is a long post!  I'll try to break it up with lots of pictures though.

Matt had a field trip on Friday to a local nursery, and then his class spent the rest of the day at a playground.  I feel really bad because it was pretty cool in the morning so I sent him to school in jeans, but it warmed up considerably in the afternoon, and he must have been really hot.

Right after school a local church was hosting a Spring Fun Nite.  It wasn't what I expected, but we had a blast.  I was surprised by how few families were there.  They had an obstacle course, tug of war, and kickball set up and the families were split into three teams.  The parents were fully expected to participate!  I wish I had photos of the relay race because it was pretty hilarious.

You had to run weaving through flags, crawl over a mat, jump through hula hoops on the ground, jump rope five times (not consecutively, and thank God, because we would have been there until the apocalypse), run and jump over three (very very small) hurdles, attempt to land three rings on an orange cone, and *finally* tag the next person on your team.  The jump rope was about 100 feet too long so the little kids were having a lot of trouble swinging it over their heads, and the parents were way too out of shape to actually jump.  Matthew did great, and he was the only kid to make any rings onto the orange cone!

Lucas and I went together.  We ran through the flags, I helped him do a roll over the mat, and we jumped (slowly) through the hula hoops.  Somewhere in there I lost a flip flop and had to go back for it.  Definitely not the best choice of footwear, but, again, I wasn't expecting to be in an Olympic tournament.  Obviously a two year old can't be expected to jump rope, so I grabbed it and astonished everyone with my mad skills!  Yes, people, I am capable of jump roping.  It shouldn't be so impressive!!  For the hurdles I just picked him up and jumped with him, and he was giggling hysterically for that, and finally we reached the ring toss, where I didn't make mine, but Lucas, from a distance of 0 inches, made both of his.

The three of us needed a water after we were done, so we each grabbed a bottle. The water was warm, but oh well.  Next up was tug of war.  Matt had fun, but Lucas and I sat out.  All three of us were wearing jeans.  I can't believe Matt had the energy to go on, especially after being on a field trip all day!  After the kids got tired of tug of war we went back to the obstacle course and played with the hula hoops.  I cannot hula anymore!  I guess I lost my rhythm.

Then it was our turn to play kickball.  Most of the parents sat out and let the kids and the teens from the church play.  Matthew has NO IDEA how kickball works!  I thought he would have played it in school, but apparently not, because he was running ALLLLLL over the field.  It was funny, and since there was no competitive edge to the game at all, no one minded the crazy kid that ran around all the bases every time he kicked the ball. 

Finally it was time to go back inside and eat.  Hot dogs and lots of homemade side dishes were served and the boys mowed face.  Lucas especially enjoyed the watermelon and grapes, but wasn't a fan of pineapple.  Matt made me proud of his healthy choices, taking a big serving of salad, but as soon as he was done he went straight for brownies, cookies, and chocolate covered doughnuts.  Eh, he's 6, what else could I expect?

After we left and got home what did Matt want to do?  Go right back outside and play with his friends!  So we all finally changed into shorts and went right back out.  Kohl's called and wanted me to come in on Saturday.  Luckily the shift didn't start until 4:30, so we also had a busy Saturday...

It was Farm Day at the Farmers' Market.  There were lots of animals to see: goats, alpacas, sheep, bunnies, and pigs.  Last year they also had chickens, so I'm not sure if we missed them or they just weren't there.  The boys had a great time petting the animals.

Lucas got frustrated when it was time to move on and threw a fit.  One of the girls from the 4H club that sponsored Farm Day came up to us while he was mi-tantrum and offered to let him pet her rabbit.  Very seriously she said to me "I find that the best cure for tears is laughter."  Oh, why thank you for the tip, 9 year old little girl with no children!  Out loud I said, "Yeah, you're right.  Look, it's working already."

We made our way around Center Square a few times, just browsing, jumping in the hay pile, splashing our feet in the fountain and soaking in the sights and noise.  When the heat got unbearable we had lunch at McDonald's and the boys played with their new Spy Gear from their Happy Meals.

On the walk home we picked some very pretty and sweet smelling white and purple wild flowers.  I cut them and put them in a vase on the kitchen table, and now the whole living room is filled with their fragrance.  I had a couple of hours to relax before work, and I took advantage of them, sprawling on the couch while Lucas happily took a nap.

I worked yesterday, and I think all of my boys spent the day being lazy and I don't blame them.  Today I have a ton of housework to catch up on: two nights worth of dinner dishes, a mountain of laundry, and Eric buzzed his friend's hair last night and left the cut hair in the tub, so I get to do that, too.  SO... I guess I better get started. ;)

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Opening Day of "Fun Season"

Yesterday was gorgeous!  Finally I had a day at home with perfect weather.  I decided that as soon as Matt came home from school I would take them both to the playground.  There are several playgrounds within walking distance of our apartment and the closest one got new equipment that I hadn't seen yet.  Eric had taken them on one of those freakishly nice days we'd had at the end of winter, but I still wanted to check it out for myself.  When Matt got off the bus I told him that we were skipping his homework until later.  It was about 3:45 and I figured we had plenty of time to play.  We could get home around 5 and he could do his homework while I cooked dinner, which I'd have plenty of time to do before Eric got home from work.  He was pretty excited, especially since it's been so wet this week.  So off we went!

I was pretty impressed when I got my first look at the new equipment.  It's got a tree house theme going on and it's pretty cool.  It only has one slide, but it's the biggest twisty slide I've ever seen.  The equipment really isn't meant for kids under five, and there's no alternative toddler friendly equipment aside from a swing set that has those baby bucket swings.  Lucas is pretty coordinated, so he wasn't deterred from climbing all the way to the top of that bad boy and sliding down over and over.

Matt taught Lucas how to climb up the slide, but he never quite made it to the top.  And, yes, instead of reprimanding them for going up the slide, I stood around and took pictures.  We were the only ones there.  And kids are kids, ok?  If they were interfering with a child trying to come down, yes, of course I would step in.  Otherwise, I let them be.  I very clearly remember a little girl with dark brown hair and dimples who very much loved to climb up slides.  And the little girl in me would feel like a hypocrite if I tried to stop my boys.

Ok, this... this was a supervised collision.  It only works when the big boy is at the bottom and the little boy is coming down.

Anyway, we had a great time, and the boys got to let out some pent up energy and be really silly together.                                Boys being silly--->

I love this picture!  I'm so surprised that it came out as well as it did because I had to use my old camera (my "good" camera is missing its battery), which doesn't have any special features or settings, and yet there isn't any blurring.

I feel like the "fun season" has officially started now and I'm so ready to go on adventures with the kids!  Tomorrow night is Spring Fun Night at the elementary school and the Farmers' Market is on Saturday and, miraculously, I'm off of work and will be able to take them.  The weather is supposed to stay gorgeous, so we'll be having lots of fun the next couple of days!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Wow Factor- a Mothers' Day post

Mothers' Day is not about jewelry.  It's not about a day at the spa.  It's not about lunch at a fancy restaurant or even breakfast in bed.

I'm embarrassed when I see moms complaining about a lack of "wow" on Mothers' Day.  Usually they have small children, so what they're really complaining about are their husbands.  What do you mean you didn't get anything.  Look at your children!  How many quiet hours have you spent blissfully rocking your newborns?  How many raspberries have you blown onto their fat tummies?  How many games of peek-a-boo have you played with your enthusiastic toddlers?  How much joy have your children given you?


Last week was mostly wet.  Today it is raining again.  This weekend though?  This weekend was gorgeous!  Absolute perfect weather, and I had to work.  My mother-in-law came down on Saturday and Matthew spent the night with her, so on Mothers' Day morning I didn't get to see him.  Eric and I made coffee and cinnamon rolls before I had to leave for work.  He gave Lucas a card to give me, which was really cute.

Then it was off to work, where I got a surprise.  All of the mothers working yesterday were presented with a pink carnation and baby's breath to pin to their lanyards.  It was a thoughtful and unexpected gesture, but that's how they are, and it's one of the reasons why I love working for Kohl's, although I don't know if it's a nationwide standard or it's just the great people at my own store.

When I got home, Matt was there and he said Happy Mothers' Day to me.  I found out that earlier in the day when Nana dropped him off he had been practicing on his bike and he made the entire length of the sidewalk without anyone holding the seat.  Twice.  I was so proud!

After dinner I called my own mom.  She spent the day with her mom and one of her sisters.  They all went out to lunch.  I wish I could have been there.  I miss my mom terribly and I often think of moving back down to Florida just to be with her, but we hated living there.  Hopefully I will see her this summer.

So, that was my understated Mothers' Day.  There was no big "WOW!" to it, but there didn't need to be.  I got my hugs and kisses.  I had a nice conversation catching up for the week with my mom.  What more do I really need?  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's Your Kid's Favorite Toy?

These are Luke's recent favorite.  He plays with these things every single day!  We have four and a bunch of accessories.  We had been keeping one up on the top shelf of their closet, just because three seemed to be more than enough and I figured keeping one extra in case we somehow lost all of the other pieces was a good idea. 

Lucas didn't like that idea.  Their closet has built in cubbies running up the middle, kind of like a single stack of cubeicals that support the top shelf.  I caught him at the very top trying to get that unopened Mr. Potato Head!  He climbed right up them like a ladder, pulled down the box and dropped it to the floor, and climbed back down all on his own.  I wish I had a video of this little monkey in action!  It was pretty impressive!  After that I figured he deserved the prize.

What do your kids love playing with?  What's their go to toy?  Share with me!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What's Been Going On

I just wish my life had a tiny bit of stability!!

So Eric didn't get the job at TMobile.  They never called him back.  He *did* however get an offer from a warehouse.  He interviewed for that on a Friday and they asked him to start the following Tuesday.  So I went to Kohl's and had all of my weekday shifts covered by other people so that he could start this M-F shift.  The day before he was supposed to start (this was last Monday) they called and told him that the guy he was supposed to be replacing had decided not to leave after all.  FML right? 

He ended up getting an interview for KMart and getting the job over there pending background checks.  When he came home from the interview he was pretty upset.  KMart isn't going to help get us out of our financial hole. 

Yesterday he got a call from the warehouse that didn't need him.  Someone broke their wrist or something and they wanted him to come in today and work for a few weeks.  If he does good they said they'd keep him. 

So guess where he is today.. at WORK!  For the first time since September!  KMart hasn't called back with his start date yet so he's thinking of working both.  He doesn't quite trust the warehouse to keep him even if he busts his butt for them, so he wants something to fall back on.

A much needed, but small and shaky, victory!