Saturday, December 31, 2011

This year...

Happy New Year!

Almost 2012. I remember celebrating with friends when 1999 turned into 2000. Dick Clark was still looking freakishly young and had not suffered his stroke. Remember Y2K? The computer bug that was set to destroy the world?

Now it is 2012. I am a bona fide grown up. A wife! A mom! A mom to a preschooler. You blink a couple times, and time really does fly right past.

This year, I will see my baby girl turn four.

We also will take our last September family beach trip - the following year, she will be in Kindergarten and won't be allowed to miss school. We will have to battle for sand space in the busy July or August months instead.

This year, I will have been married for nine years.

This year, I turn 33 years old.

What are you looking towards in 2012?
I wish health, happiness, and plentiful hugs for all of you.

(I will return to regular blogging on January 8th. Happy 2012!)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmases Past

Baby's first Christmas seems so long ago. It is our baby's fourth Christmas this year!

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2007
(not yet a family of three!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gift wrap HQ

Our upstairs guest room is transformed the few weeks prior to Christmas.

First, it is cluttered with shopping bags and purchases.

Next, it becomes bright and cheerful, with festively-wrapped gifts all over the bed. The joyful paper and bows detract from the giant a pile of bags, paper scraps, and packaging cluttered on the floor.

Finally, a day or so before Christmas, the room clears out. Gifts are placed downstairs under the glittering tree or packaged carefully in boxes ready for travel. The trash is gathered and hauled to the garage. The room is silent once again. Weeks later, I may find a shimmering surprise under the bed, when a toe brushes a bow left behind.

Right now, this room is in all its chaotic holiday glory.

I like it this way.

- - - -
iPhone Photo Phun

Monday, December 19, 2011

A thank you & a visitor

Busy weeks coming up!

Two quick posts for today:

(1) First, I want to thank everyone for the fantastic and kind comments from my SITS Day! I continue to get new comments coming in, and I am humbled and happy to meet so many of you. Because I use the Blogger platform, I cannot easily respond to everyone. If your comment came with an email address, I tried to email you a quick reply. If you don't have your email linked, I am not able to personally reply to you. But please know I appreciate EVERYONE. I hope several of you come back again. I will be working on blog visits over the next few weeks myself - so glad to meet you all!

(2) Second, we have a visitor at our house. This little guy showed up early last week in a box on our doorstep. He's a happy little fella. Not too mischievous yet, but a pretty sneaky hider! I think Amelia will be sad when he flies away on Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A special little guy

Have I ever introduced you to Leland?

Leland is my beloved Ritz Carlton bellhop lion. He sports a sateen blue and gold uniform with a sharp little cap, cocked to the side over one ear.

He still has a tag hanging from his ear, which reads:

"When you first arrive
At the Ritz Carlton hotel,
This lion named Leland,
Will make sure all is well"

I welcomed Leland into my life on March 18, 2002. The evening prior, I was asked to become a wife. My now husband proposed on a beach in Florida, with a message in a bottle (which turned out to be a poem he wrote himself on a parchment scroll) and a diamond that had been in his family for nearly 100 years. And if I wasn't thrilled enough, he later surprised me by pulling into the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island - I thought we were on our way home!

As Leland grinned at me through the gift shop window, I knew I had to take him home. These days, as my home is overrun with stuffed animals and preschool toys, Leland still remains safely on my bedroom dresser. His sweet brown eyes make me smile regularly, and remind me of a simpler time. A time with less pressure, less stress, less exhaustion. A time that pointed me to the right path.

Yes... no matter how worn down I may be, I know this is the best life for me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Making new friends!

Um, wow. I am incredibly honored to have a SITS Day* today!
(What the heck is a SITS day? See footnote below)

It came at the perfect time.
About three weeks ago, fresh off a brief blog hiatus, I changed my blog’s name. Launched originally as in January 2010, I blogged about my successes, failures, worries, and joys as a first-time mom. Trying to be the “perfect” mom (well… trying to follow the rules), a working mom, and a happy mom. Over the past year, I have come to define myself – and my blog – in different ways. Like all mothers in the world, I am a lot more than just “three” moms in one. I play a gazillion different roles. And while I don’t think I will ever be 100% balanced, I will always be balancING. Always striving for my best. Muddling through to the best of my ability. Searching for the oh-so-elusive "me" time.  Cheering on my precocious little princess as she navigates the roads of life.... and much, much more. I have always been @BalancingMama on Twitter, and now can also be found at (drum roll, please...)

Thank you so much for your visit today. If you are new, please say hi if you get a chance. I will never promise perfection here, but I do promise a voice that is 100% genuine. I am a real person, flaws and all. And I would love to meet more of you. The best part of blogging is interaction.

Come to think of it… maybe you can teach me a thing or two!

- - -
Visit About Me for some personal background

If you like cute kid photos, here are some photo posts 

Why Do I Blog?

- - -
Women Online
*SITS, The Secret to Success is Support, is a supportive, informative community of 10,000+ women bloggers. They showcase a feature blogger each day. The SITS girls are also the brilliant force behind Bloggy Bootcamp, which I attended in October.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Know your audience

In my advertising life, I spend hour after hour searching for the best places to reach the most relevant audiences. Every client, every product has a target audience. You don't speak the same way, or to the same people, for every brand out there. I have come to realize, especially with the power of social media, that we are all our own brand. We all have a "unique selling proposition". We all have an audience.

If you are reading this post, you are part of my audience. You came here because you and I have something in common. Maybe I tweeted something that peaked your interest. My family, friends, other online moms, and coworkers are also part of my audience. I say what I say and write what I write with my all-encompassing audience in mind.

This morning, I was reading a book to my little sweetie. It is more than just an adorably-illustrated children's book. I think it has a very useful life (and business) lesson:
know your audience.

"Thank You Bear", written by Greg Foley

Little Bear finds a little box.

He immediately thinks, "my friend Mouse would love this!". He excitedly begins to walk, looking for his little mouse friend. Along the way, Bear sees many other animals. They are not excited about the little box.

Bear begins to doubt himself. Perhaps, this little box is not so special after all?

Until finally, mouse comes along.
And do you know what? Mouse thinks the box is the greatest thing ever!

Bear let the other animals get to him. He allowed doubt to creep in, and a sadness followed. But he had a target audience all along. He knew what mouse would like. He knew his true friend.

You also know, deep in your heart, your true audience. The audience that will support you through thick and thin. Don't let others on the outside cause you doubt. Because in the end, your audience, your loved ones, are the people who will never let you down. They truly understand your greatest thing ever.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another preschool craft: homemade bread dough ornaments!

The holiday season puts me in a crafty mood. Despite having extra work pressures, multiple social engagements, and seemingly never-ending shopping lists, I find myself wanting to add crafts to my busy days. That is especially the case with Amelia around. I think she loves art even more than toys. Crafting provides us some special quiet togetherness time. It is a good way to slow down. (See our other preschool art project: fun with toilet paper rolls!)

The Christmas season also puts us in a giving mood. Amelia loves to create artistic masterpieces to give as gifts to her family. It is our way of saying thanks for all the presents they love to shower on her. This year, we decided to make homemade ornaments. I looked online for a dough idea that would be easy enough for both of us. I decided on Bread Dough Ornaments. I selected bread dough over salt dough because there was no baking required. I wasn't keen on the idea of baking something for over 2 hours.

Here are the instructions based on our experience with bread dough ornaments:
  • Take 6-9 slices of bread, remove the crusts (simply for color), and place them in a food processor. Process until you have fine crumbs.
  • Pour all the crumbs in a large bowl and add white or clear craft glue. About 1-2 tablespoons to start.
  • Knead the crumbs and glue together, adding more glue if moisture is needed, until you have a firm dough. (This part requires some hand strength, so parents probably need to do it)

  • Roll out the sticky dough with a plastic Play-Doh roller (plastic is better than a wooden rolling pin because the dough is so sticky), and use cookie cutters to create holiday shapes.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pink Pig Pottery-Pallooza

On Wednesday, Amelia and I met up with a fantastic group of Georgia bloggers and their kiddos for what I have dubbed the "Pink Pig Pottery-Pallooza". We met on a drizzly afternoon at Macy's department store in the Lenox Mall, with giddy children anticipating their annual Pink Pig rides.

I wrote about our Pink Pig adventure last year also. It is definitely the best Atlanta family tradition - and it has been around for more than five generations. We had a blast again. And this year? Amelia got the cutest photo with Priscilla the pig herself! (I actually prefer it over her photo with, you know, that big guy in red.)

With giggles in our cars, we drove to All Fired Up, a paint-your-own pottery studio at Emory Village. There, our fine hosts treated the kids to pottery painting, letter writing to Santa, cupcakes, and drinks. Even a Starbucks run for the parents! Amelia painted a unique rainbow duck. I can't wait to see how it looks once fired (or "when it gets all sparkly", in Amelia's words).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

To the big guy in the red suit

Dear Santa,

I know I'm a grown-up now. A thirty-three year old wife and mother. Am I still allowed to write you a letter? May I please cling to a Christmas wish?

I wish for the innocence of the past. I wish for sunny days where children play alone in their backyards, not fearing for their safety, not having to be hovered over every minute of the afternoon. I wish for anxiety-free giggles during unsupervised neighborhood bike rides.

I wish for something, anything, to bring a tiny bit of peace to the Georgia family who lost their little girl last Friday. I followed her story since I first heard she was missing. I shed tears when I learned of the horrific end to her life. I found myself smugly satisfied when a suspect was detained. And then I got angry. Furious that a child was tortured and robbed of her life. She was playing at the playground in her own apartment complex. How many people can comfortably call that home now? I wish for justice. For many hearts to heal.

How do you explain murder to the friends of this 7-year old girl? Or to her two younger sisters?

My wish? Cannot be wrapped in a box with a bow.

I wish for my childhood dreams to come back again. I wish for safety and love for every child on this earth.

Merry Christmas, Santa.
I'll keep one eye open for you on Christmas Eve.

- - - 
Here is a link to this awful news story: Jorelys Riviera. Hug your loved ones tight today. And keep your eyes on them... always. My prayers and condolences to this family and all Jorelys' friends.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Follow me to 3Ps

Popcorn, Pugs, Peonies

Follow me over to my friend Erin's blog, Popcorn, Pugs, and Peonies. I'm guest posting there today! Erin is a relatively new blogger with a really fun blog (and the cutest blog button you'll ever see, right?!?).

Erin asked me to write some of my thoughts about blogging and share them with her readers today. So what'cha waiting for? Click on over!

My post: So You Think You Can Blog?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tea Party for Three

A little bit of fun, just us girls:

Every now and then, put aside life's demands. Just play.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

One lucky girl

My daughter is one lucky girl. I am not just talking about her comfortable home, masses of toys, never-ending attention, or her incredibly fabulous parents. She has all that and more.

She also has…

Gorgeous hair.

Her locks are the color of golden wheat, darkened by the sun’s warmth. It is soft like down with a shine as bright as gold. And the waves! Oh, those soft, flowing waves full of bounce… they seem to have a life all their own. Dancing, twirling, joyful.

We went through a fanatical period of crazy hair. It took a few sessions at the salon with much pleading and hoping, but we finally learned how to tame those tresses.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good, green, Grinchy fun!

I am a theater lover. I did some acting as a kid and teen, and participated behind the scenes for a couple productions in college. I have not been on the stage in quite some time, but I still enjoy a good show now and then. Last night was no exception.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (a musical!) arrived in Atlanta at the Fabulous Fox Theater. I left my husband at home to take care of little one's bedtime, grabbed a friend, left my cozy suburban home, and drove into town.

The show was phenomenal! It follows the beloved Dr. Seuss tale we all know so well, but with a couple little tweaks to keep the audience riveted. The humor was relentless; I had tears in my eyes and a stitch in my side from laughing all the way through. Stefan Karl, well-known for his role as Robbie Rotten on LazyTown, played the Grinch role with absolute hairy, grumpy, grinchy perfection.

WW: Jingle Bells

Welcome to our holiday house!
I love the whimsy and sparkle of Christmas decorations.

Happy Holidays!

- - - - -
iPhone Photo Phun

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This is who I am

This is my husband’s favorite photo of me. He says it typifies the essence of who I am, of everything he loves about me.

The wedding took place in a quaint, creaky, simple chapel originally built in the 1880s. I cannot bring into memory where anyone was sitting, nor what the pastor said. I can only see the smile from my groom’s face. I can only hear the quiet conversation we had amongst ourselves when we were supposed to be listening.

January 2003. Forty-something degrees, only two days after one of the coldest temperatures ever experienced in Atlanta. I had just transformed from a Miss to a Mrs. I was the princess of the hour.

And I was hungry.

Spinach dip!!!

Some say a photograph steals the soul. This week, show us yours: take us into the moment that photograph was taken.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

When small things become big doubts

Linking up to All Things Fadra's Stream of Consciousness Sunday again - it's been entirely too long since I last participated (See this is not goodbye from May). #SOC Sunday is the busy blogger's best friend. Write for five minutes only. No editing or stressing over word choice. Spill the thoughts on the screen, and that's it!

Just the kind of post I needed this evening.


- - - -
When small things become big doubts

My child is tall for her 3 1/2 years, but she's still small to me. She still needs help reaching parts of the counter top. She calls for help when washing her hands in the kitchen sink. She still rejoices in simple things like, "Mommy! I wrote a number five!".

It baffles my brain, however, that a small child can become such a big struggle for me. She is mostly well-behaved and of course, a complete angel for anyone other than Mom and Dad. But when she chooses to assert her independence at a most inopportune time? When she is hyper to the point of making me want to tear my hair out? This little girl starts creating major doubts in my mind.

Best iPhone apps to entertain a preschooler

Kids these days. Amazingly tech-savvy little ones, aren't they? My 3 1/2 year old daughter loves to play with my iPhone. We watch videos and listen to her favorite songs together. Sometimes, she takes my phone in her little hands and plays all by herself. This comes in handy when stuck in a doctor's waiting room past the preschooler threshold for patience.

Here is a sneak peek at Amelia's apps folder:

  • The Three Little Pigs app is a cute illustrated story book.
  • The animal app is a matching game, like Memory.
  • Doodle Buddy lets her paint and draw with her fingertip, as well as stamp fun shapes and images all over the screen. You shake the phone to erase, much like the old-school Etch-A-Sketch.
  • The talking animal apps are always fun. Talking Ben is my favorite - he's a slightly grumpy, fuzzy dog in an armchair. This series of Apps has Talking Tom the cat, Talking Larry the bird, and more.
  • Balloonimals is fantastic! It's a paid app, but totally worth it. Kids can blow up balloons (literally - you blow into the phone's microphone!), then shake to create various balloon animals in rainbow colors.
Our latest and greatest app? Cake Doodle! My sister discovered it and entertained Amelia for hours this weekend. It's so great, I just have to share. (This is not a sponsored post - I truly love this app for preschoolers!)

Cake Doodle lets you choose the type of cake to bake (lemon, strawberry, red velvet, chocolate, etc.), then shows a recipe for that cake. You drag the ingredients into the bowl, and perform various techniques with each ingredient - like tilt the phone to pour, tap to crack the eggs, and slide to slice the butter. It introduces simple cooking ideas and it's a lot of fun!

Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, you draw circles with your finger to stir it all up.:

Once stirred, you choose the shape of the cake and slide the pan(s) into the oven. When the oven dings, you're ready to decorate! Select frosting colors, various decorative tips, flowers, sprinkles, and cake toppers. And once finished with your (virtually) edible masterpiece? Tap the image to bite until it's all gone!

I admit... I even played this one a couple times. Here is my latest lovely creation:

Cake Doodle costs $0.99 from the iTunes store. My preschooler has played with it for long periods of time, for three days straight. I would call that money well spent!

What are your favorite apps for kids?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Grateful. Satisfied. Thankful!


Thanksgiving day was truly heartwarming. (I don't mean heartburn from eating too much - although that was certainly present.) No feeling compares to the one I get watching my sweet little girl bring smiles to the faces of people who truly love her. Unconditionally.

We had family time together, mouth-watering food, and plenty of laughs.

My husband succumbed to the lure of the newspaper sales flyers, and convinced me to go out with him at midnight. We were tired and the crowds were ridiculous, but the time we spent together, just me and him, was wonderful. We made memories for sure, tag-teaming the shopping process (I'll get in the checkout line, you go get the items - go! go! go!), meeting friendly shoppers in the line, and standing close together outdoors as the temperatures dropped into the low 40s. We made memories, and did our part for the economy with some new gadgets for our home and Christmas gifts for nieces and nephews.

Today, we slept as late as our 3-year old would allow, and mostly relaxed at home. This evening, we ventured into the city to view the new "Garden Nights, Holiday Lights" at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It was lovely! Amelia's eyes reflected every magical twinkle. She danced down the pathways. We oohed and ahhed and pointed to all the lovely sights.

I think, perhaps, magic is real. I can feel it. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Empty toilet paper rolls? Art time!


This is an easy preschooler-friendly craft! I got the idea from Amelia's preschool, where they made little Native American people in a similar way (just draw in bead necklaces and glue a feather on the back of the head). Tonight, we made our own little family.

  • Empty toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half
  • Construction paper
  • Glue Stick
  • Scissors
  • Markers
How to make the tube people:
  • Cut construction paper into strips about 2"-3" wide. For each person, you will need one paper strip for skin color, one for hair, one for shirt, and one for pants.
    • For hair: Cut the strip short so it does not go all the way around the tube, then fringe the ends
    • For shirt: Cut a notch in the middle to look like a neckline
  • Use glue stick to glue on the skin color first. Glue the paper strip around the tube.
  • Next, glue on the shirt with the notch underneath where you'd like the face to go.
  • Then glue on the pants, underneath the shirt
  • Glue on the hair last, leaving the open space for the face
  • Use markers to add eyes, nose, mouth, buttons, etc.
  • Optional: Get creative with jewels, real buttons, or fabric strips for more decoration!

That's it! An easy, fun and cute activity.

Find more preschool art posts by clicking here: Preschool Art Projects

iPhone Photo Phun

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mama's quiet place

Too early for sleep, yet late enough to burrow. Under cool sheets I go, relishing the weight of the downy duvet. This time of year, only darkness hangs outside the arched window. The air is cool.

My quiet place? My bedroom.

Once the chatterbox singing princess is snug and silent in her own cozy spot, I breathe. I allow the weights of another busy day to lift off my shoulders. I take time to loosen my muscles and listen - to absolutely nothing.

Then, during my only extended down time of the day, I reach for my iPhone or my e-reader.

The time is mine.
I can do what I like.
Not making a sound.

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