Monday, February 27, 2012

Sick day

My posts haven't been very creative or awe-inspiring lately, I know. Our house has been battling one virus after another! The cutest one started it all, thanks probably due to preschool or something she contracted in the crowd at the circus. She had a cold, which became a mild ear infection, then turned into a pair of lovely pink eyes.

Steve was hit next with body aches and congestion. His graduated into a middle ear infection as well. It seems the "bugs" in this house are always aspiring to be more!

Naively, I thought it missed me. I believed that somehow, despite wiping snot and cleaning eye goop for days, I was free.

Then came the brick wall. Or what felt like it, anyway. I collided right smack into it. Hit, seemingly instantaneously, by body aches and chills. I could barely even move! So, we've had many early to bed nights (and just as many up-a-gazillion-times-and-coughing nights).

I'm hoping to feel some writing inspiration again soon.

After I disinfect the entire house.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A new family member?

For those of you waiting for a baby #2 announcement....
sorry to disappoint you.

Steve and I have briefly talked about adding another member of our family. Maybe for Amelia's birthday.

The furry kind, of course.

She misses kitty Claude. She still remembers him, mentions him. She oohs and ahhs over the kitties at PetSmart. She asks us when she can have a pet.

I think pets are wonderful. They are loyal and cute. They bring an extra joy into a household. I have wanted another cat for a while. Steve is starting to agree with me. Amelia needs a pet!

We have a fantastic organization nearby called Good Mews. They find "good homes for good kitties". Good Mews is a no-kill shelter for felines of all sizes, shapes, colors, ages, and temperaments. The adoption process requires paperwork and about two hours of your time, because they want to ensure a perfect match. They want their cats to leave the shelter and happily stay away forever.

I wonder what kind of cat we would end up with...

A sweet princess?


An older, wiser king?


Maybe a handsome midnight-black prince?


I have to admit, I am getting excited. If we go through with it, we'll not only have a new loving member of our family. We will also get to see the emotion on our little girl's face when we tell her about the most exciting birthday present ever.

So... should we do it?

- - - - -
These photos were borrowed, with all due respect & credit, from the Good Mews website. You can see details on these kitties and many more adoptable cuties on their website,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

At bedtime...

Daddy: "I've told you five times to stop playing, so I'm leaving now."

Amelia: "Daddy, I'm sorry! I won't play anymore."

Daddy: "But Amelia, I told you five times to stop playing. You need to listen better."

Amelia: "But, Daddy?"

Daddy: "No buts, Amelia. You need to listen."

Amelia: "But, DAD-dy! You didn't tell me five times!"

Daddy: "Yes, I did. Good night."

Amelia (pouty face): "You told me six times."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Paparazzi at the playground

I chased Amelia around the playground last weekend, snapping photos with my iPhone. It was a fun game - she tried to avoid me, squealing as she dodged and ducked through all the obstacles.

The game made for some really great photos!

iPhone Photo Phun

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It hurts.

Trying to stay positive. But it hurts.

The opthamologist saw Amelia this morning. We will be moving forward on a second eye muscle surgery in about 7 weeks.

My brain is at war with itself. A portion still thinks we did the right thing - her exotropia could have cause her headaches, reading problems, and plain old aggravation. She herself asked us to "make her eye stay still". That same portion of my brain knows that a second surgery is needed in 20% of patients; it is not unusual. But the emotional side wonders why we ever made this decision. Why did we do this to our child? What if she never had difficulties with her eyes the way they were? No one ever noticed that her eyes moved in the first place. What if we moved too quickly into medical intervention when she could have been fine just left alone?

If we had been told it was medically necessary, I think we'd be stronger right now. But we were told it was up to us. So we chose. (Why did we choose?!?)

My eyes well up with tears as the guilt presses down. I breathe and push it all away. I need to be strong. I need to be optimistic. I need to grasp onto some faith and find hope. This bump in the road could very well be a distant memory by summer. I cannot express how much I hope for that. Oh my God, if You can hear me... please know how much I hope for that.

So, say a prayer for us and wish us luck. Six more weeks of waiting, then we start this process all over again.

If I get through this, I may have to change my name to ToughMama.
Because this is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wish I hadn't forgotten the camera! (circus pics)

Thursday, February 16th was a busy day. School for Amelia, work for me, a quick half hour at home while on the phone, in the car to get Chick-Fil-A, pick up Daddy, and on to the circus!

I realized way too late that I forgot to grab the camera.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus “Fully Charged”, produced by Feld Entertainment, is one of those shows that makes you grab for the camera every few seconds. Luckily I had my iPhone. Forgive the blurs and dim light…

If you make it to this spectacular entertainment event (coming soon to many more cities!), arrive early to immerse yourself in the Power Up Pre-Show where the public is invited to the show floor to interact with performers, test their skill at a few tricks, and try on glittery circus attire. We even watched an elephant paint a picture! What a sight to see.

The show itself is jam packed with clown antics, gorgeous animals, and jaw-dropping feats of athleticism and bravery. Strong men, aerialists, the amazing Fernandez brothers on the revolving “twin turbines of terror”, and Brian Miser the human fuse – each one made us exclaim “wow!” over and over again.

Our little family of three enjoyed this show together. And together, we definitely give it six enthusiastic thumbs up!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blogging doesn't come with rules

How often should I post?

Should I use my kids' real names? 

I got an press release. What am I "supposed" to say?

So many questions constantly flying around the blogosphere, often reeking of desperation, of a fear of doing it "wrong".

Blogging is probably the most varied and individual form of writing in existence today. Blogging is personal, sometimes entrepreneurial, sometimes leisure. Anyone with a minuscule bit of computer know-how and a decent handle on plain old conversational language can blog. A grasp of grammar and spelling (or at least spellcheck) is probably preferred, but even that isn't a requirement. If you can click and type, you can create your own piece of this infinite world of words.

My blog is MINE. Your blog is yours. That guy over there? His blog is his. We can write humor, poetry, journal accounts of our day, travel info, style favorites... the list is never-ending. What I love most about blogging? There are no rules. 

Post when you want to post. Write what you feel passionate about, write what strikes your fancy. Share photos that evoke emotions in yourself, and they will probably do the same for someone else. 

I truly believe that if you support your blog with real, honest emotion and passion, you will succeed. Will you make a ton of cold, hard cash? Probably not. How many high school athletes go pro? Same concept with blogging. However, if you enjoy it and find your own little corner of the digital world to nourish and love? You will be a success, even if your only compensation is community and joy.

If your first thought about blogging was, "I'm going to start a blog to make money!" then you may want to come up with a plan B. If money is the only goal, and you have only a superficial interest in what you write, it will show. Your words will be forced. Your persona will come across as fake. 

People trust and follow those who are real. I can tell immediately who has a true passion for the money-saving lifestyle, who has a genuine sense of humor, who loves to let feelings fly free through creativity. I can spot those who are writing timidly, afraid of "doing it wrong."

If you blog? Own it. The rest of us will be able to feel along with you, and your product will have its best shot at growth and success, whatever your definition of success may be. Just as there are thousands of blogs, there can be thousands of success measures.

You don't have to ask other bloggers what you "should" do. Just do what you KNOW to do. No one knows your space like you. Really.

"If you build it... they will come" --Field of Dreams

Cuteness: Paci Plushies

I am on the slow train when it comes to baby #2. Waiting, stalling, and waiting some more. Many friends of mine are already busy with their second or third little bundles of joy. Others are anxiously anticipating the birth of their first. So I have no shortage of "baby" should I want to see some cute chubby cheeks.

When I learned of Paci-Plushies, I loved the idea. A stuffed animal to hold while attached to the beloved pacifier/paci/"binky". Easy to handle for little ones, and simple to find for Mom & Dad. They also attach to pretty much any brand of pacifier (including Soothies) - so baby can still use his or her favorites.

When I saw the Paci-Plushies, I sighed a little sigh - adorable! I especially love the white and pink "Cuddles the Cat":

I don't have a baby in my house right now; Amelia is almost four. However, I know a few infants who deserve an extra little gift. These make great shower and baby gifts!
  • BPA and phthalate free
  • Available in 9 different animals (bears, puppies, lamb, cat, and monkey!)
  • Babies learn to hold and control their Paci-Plushies at an early age, encouraging the development of motor skills
  • When it's time to wean your baby from his/her pacifier, the stuffed toy will remain as a source of comfort.

- - - - -
I received two Paci Plushies to review in person and give as gifts. All opinions are 100% mine.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The circus is in town!

Tonight, several area bloggers and their families were treated to a special look at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus! The show was astounding and beautiful. Prior to our viewing of "Fully Charged", we got a behind-the-scenes look at the Animal Care Clinic. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey takes the welfare of their animals very seriously. They have numerous animal care staff who not only care for the animals' needs but also show a very obvious love for these gorgeous creatures.   

Some interesting facts about animal care at Ringling Bros.:
  • Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has more than 140 years of experience working with and caring for exotic and domestic animals.
  • Training methods are based on reward and repetition in the form of food rewards and words of praise.
  • Ringling Bros. employs full-time staff veterinarians who administer veterinary care to all the animals. A local veterinarian is also on call 24 hours a day in each city where the show performs.
  • Our animals are transported in specially designed private railroad cars and under constant supervision.
  • Ringling Bros. is committed to and deeply involved in the conservation of exotic species. All of the Ringling Bros. animals are either captive-bred or were acquired in accordance with the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) or the Endangered Species Act.
  • The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the research, reproduction and retirement of this majestic species. In addition to the center Ringling Bros. operates a sanctuary in Central Florida that serves as a retirement facility for elephants. 

"Fully Charged" is at Phillips Arena in Atlanta through Monday, then it moves over to the Arena at Gwinnett Center for nine additional performances. It is a captivating and exciting show, and even our young daughter loved it. She could not believe she was so close to elephants, tigers, and more! Her eyes sparkled with joy as she giggled and clapped the whole way through.

Not in Atlanta? Find a Ringling Bros. show near you! Upcoming Fully Charged appearances will be in Charleston (both SC and WV), Cincinnati, Washington D.C., and Baltimore, among others.

 - - - - -
Note: I was given three complimentary passes to the animal care clinic and Fully Charged show. However, no post was required in return for the passes. I chose to share this information with you. All opinions are 100% mine.

Facts and photos from Ringling Bros.' press kit.

Next exciting Atlanta family activity? Princess day at the Georgia Aquarium! March 10th - check their website for more information!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WW: Ahoy, matey!

We just booked another family cruise!

I am looking forward to the turquoise waters and sunny skies. I cannot wait for sand and palm trees. My stomach is already growling for fancy foods and all the desserts I can handle!

Amelia is very excited about the "big boat". She's been on one before, but doesn't remember all the joys we had that week:

I can't tell you exactly when we are going... but I will definitely share the tales and photos when we return!

So looking forward to this vacation.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A shot at forever

You would think we made our little girl's biggest dream come true. She is dancing around our house, flying high on happiness. She is grinning from ear to ear.

Did we go to Disney World again? Did we meet a princess? Did we buy a castle playhouse?

Nope, we went to a cheap pizza buffet.

But, we went with Amelia's beloved friend. This was our first outside-of-preschool event together. The girls greeted each other at the door with grins and hugs. They compared slices of pizza between bites and silly grins at one another. They plunked tokens into the games and followed each other around.

It was too difficult to make them part, so we walked next door for frozen yogurt. They both selected chocolate, they both chewed and chewed on slightly frozen gummy worms. They sat hip-to-hip and clearly enjoyed every moment.

These girls were a joy to watch. I had a preschool best friend; she is still one of my very best friends today. Steve's best friend lives down the road from us, and even they met in their preschool years.

I wondered, as I observed these giggly little ladies, what would become of this friendship? Maybe it'll fizzle, maybe someone will move away... but I have to let them give it a shot at forever.

Because forever friends are a rare and precious gift.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hearts, boom boom

I am eavesdropping, creeping softly to peek through the cracked door. The room is dim, lit only by the glow of a princess nightlight. My little girl, growing bigger very day, is quiet. Her head rests on Daddy's chest and his fingers gently comb her soft waves of hair.

"Daddy? What's that sound in there?"

"You mean my heart?"

"Yeah... Your heart..." she pauses In that preschooler way that leaves you anticipating more (there is always more), "Why is it stuck inside?"

"Well, that's where it lives."

"And Daddy?", again with the pause... "What is it saying to me?"

To which Daddy, her very own handsome prince, replies, "It's saying I love you, I love you."

She presses her smooth little cheek against his chest one more time. I cannot see much in the dusky room, but I can somehow hear her relax. I know she is smiling a perfectly contented smile.

"Daddy...... my heart says it loves you too."

I know my husband is smiling with her.
And although I am hiding from this special moment, I also crack a smile.

Boom boom,
boom boom....
My heart calls out to them both.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

If you give a mom a minute

If you give a mom a minute, she will glance around the room.

She will see the crayons have been spilled all over the kitchen, so she will toss them back in the bin.

After she tosses them in the bin, she will notice the lid is missing. So she will scour the house until she finds the lid, wondering how on earth it got under the couch.

When she pulls the lid from under the couch, she will notice half a year’s worth of crumbs underneath. So she will get out the vacuum.

When she gets out the vacuum, she notices the laundry hasn’t been moved from the washer. So she grabs the wet laundry and stuffs it into the dryer.

As she’s stuffing it into the dryer, the phone rings, so she runs to answer it. As she’s running to answer the phone, she nimbly scoots some toys out of he hallway with her foot.

“Hello?”, she answers the phone to confirm the next pediatrician’s appointment. As she hangs up the phone, she will remember the vacuum.

As she hauls the vacuum downstairs, she notices the cobwebs on the hanging light above. She makes a mental note to tackle those another day.

Once the crumbs have been vanquished from underneath the couch, a child tugs on her arm.

“Mommy!!! I’m hungry!”

It has only been one minute.

Wonder what Mom could do with fifteen minutes?

Mama’s Losin’ It
Loved this week's prompt!
If you give a Mom a Blank…a post written in the style of the children's "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" books

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WW: She always beats me

This kid regularly beats me at Pretty Pretty Princess. I am always stuck with an earring missing or the dreaded black ring. See that smug little grin on her (winning) face?

Daddy can hold his own playing this game. He may have even won a time or two... but he says I am not allowed to share any photos of him all dolled up.

Party pooper.

- - - -
Link up with @LIzJostes and the iPhone Photo Phun linky!
iPhone Photo Phun

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Je parle le français... sort of

She lumbered into room 203, in the section of the school we called the "language pod". We momentarily paused from our high school gossip and giggles and cast our eyes upward to check out our new French teacher. There she stood, no more than five-foot-one, plump, and with a glowing grin across her face.

"BAHWN-JOW-UR, class! Bahwn-jow-ur!"

Eighteen young faces stared back at her and every mouth remained silent. This was our French teacher? Her name was Dawnella, and she had the thickest Southern drawl I had ever heard.

"Ah said BAHWN-JOW-UR, class! That means hello." Again, she smiled at us broadly with white gleaming teeth. Her expectant gaze swept across each of our faces; her eyes pleaded for a response.

A couple students dared to giggle. The rest of us attempted to mimic the French greeting.

"Bonjour?", we repeated, more a question than a reply.

Dawnella clapped her hands and bobbed her fleshy head up and down, praising our efforts. I shuffled a bit in my desk seat, picked at some initials carved in the surface, glanced sideways at my friend. She peeked over at me. We stifled our laughter. This was going to be an interesting semester.

We learned the basics of the French language that year, but in a truly unique Tennesseean way. The teacher ended up being a lot of fun, and I remember her fondly. But our French accents? Were nothing short of horrific. No native Frenchman would ever understand our ramblings.

So yes, Je parle le français.... sort of.

- - - - -

Write a piece of creative non-fiction in which turns of phrase, dialect, slang, or colloquialisms feature prominently.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

This kind of winter

It is winter, but nobody told the weather. Sunny, glorious 60-some degrees, with no jackets required. No gloves, no hats, not even umbrellas. The groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter. If this is winter, then bring it on!

At the playground, scampering children abound. Squeals reach my ears as girls and boys fly high on the swings. "Big kids" yell to each other in loud voices with instructions and directions for some unknown and completely original game. Amelia plays alone, happily running, sliding, climbing. She asks for a powerful push as she swings, up and down, her toes seemingly touching the sky.

Sometimes she finds a friend. Sometimes, it is her voice I hear belting out orders, her shoes crunching on the wood chips as she runs past. In these moments, I realize just how much she has grown. She is independent, free. Not afraid to let go of Mommy; willing to trade in Mommy for a new friend or two. In those moments, I find my free time.

But instead, I cannot keep my eyes off of her.

Sunny days. Playground days. Childhood. Independence. Joy.

A winter like this? I will not complain if lasts forever.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Take an extra step

I have posted about self-improvement in the past. Last week, I mentioned my desire to be a better mama by stepping it up a notch. This week? I will try to make the world a little bit nicer. By taking one extra step whenever I can.

We all lead busy lives. We want the best for our families and for ourselves, and we're rushing and pushing to achieve our goals. Hours, days, and weeks fly by as we speed through life's experiences.

But what if we slowed down? Only for a brief second at a time? What if we took our extra seconds and went just a teeny bit farther - for someone else?

If there are three squares of toilet paper on the roll.... just go ahead and change it. The next person will appreciate it.

If a driver needs to switch lanes... tap the brakes and allow them over. You won't be any later and you'll avoid a potential road rage battle.

If someone has two items in a crowded grocery store with no express lanes open... let them step in front of your loaded-down cart. It won't take more than a minute or two.

If there are dishes in the sink... just go ahead and get them in the dishwasher. Your house will look nicer and everyone will be happy. Okay, maybe not all the time, but it will require much less effort vs. tackling a pile nearly ceiling-high. I've tested this.

I am sure there are a million different ways to take one extra step a few times each day. I have to wonder, what would our world be like if everyone did just that?

Little gestures can certainly make a big difference.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A photo of me

One of Mama Kat's prompts this week: Share a photo that was taken of you, that you really think captures who you are

I answered a similar question for Write On Edge a few weeks ago, showing off my husband's favorite photo of me. I dug into the digital photo library once again to find another.

I live my life from one vacation to the next. As one vacation ends, I begin to plan then next one. Whether it be via a 9-day special trip or simply a long weekend down the road, seeing the world and experiencing new things is truly a joy in my life. I am happiest when I am away from the pressures of home and work, sharing heartwarming and adrenaline-pumping moments with my family.

This photo was taken in Hawaii, several years before Amelia came into our lives. Steve and I cruised the islands aboard Norwegian's Aloha of the Seas. We bicycled down a volcano, took a fast and bumpy ride into some sea caves, traversed a black lava field, and learned how to pronounce the name of the colorful Hawaii state fish (the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a). After the cruise adventure, we spent a couple nights on Maui to relax by the beach... but not before taking a helicopter tour!

Steve snapped this photo of me on the pilot's monitor. I'm all buckled in with sunglasses at the ready and headphones positioned - not to mention a giddy grin on my face. Another encounter with excitement was about to "take flight"!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Giveaway ended - thank U!

Congrats to Amy N. and Atlanta Green Mom! They won the gift cards from my thank you giveaway. I really appreciate all who entered, with an extra shout-out to those who are helping to build my Facebook following again. Not "liking" the BalancingMama Facebook Page? Gasp! Click here.

XOXOXO (virtual hugs & kisses to all)

WW: Furry Friend

I miss this guy. He went to kitty Heaven in November 2010. Hoping for another furry friend in our home sometime soon.

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