Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oh glorious dirt

I'm still playing Mom-nurse to my sweet little girl today. She is feeling good, but needs to take it easy a couple more days. If I get a few moments, I'm going to dig in the dirt. I will take a gamble that winter is finished down here, and get some flowers in the ground. It makes me happy to come home and see some color in front of the house.

As I catch up post-vacation and post-surgery, I'll share a couple archive posts with you. In honor of flower planting season, how about this one from 2010?

- - - -

Moms, if you spend any regular time with your kids at a playground, I bet you've noticed that there is an attraction even more compelling to little hands and feet than the colorful selection of slides, swings, and climbing walls.

Glorious, fascinating dirt.

Or woodchips.

I don't believe I have been to any of our area playgrounds and not witnessed a kid (or five) playing with the ground covering. And more often than not, they explain to passersby that what they are making is, in fact, some kind of food. Amelia helped one girl make a pizza out of woodchips last week. Today she took dirt from around the baseball field where Daddy was playing and made cupcakes on the bleachers.

When Amelia gets into her dirt projects, there is no convincing her to do anything else.

See those fun swings over there? "Not yet, Mommy. I cook."

Hey, look - a doggie. Want to go see it? "No Mommy, stop! I cooking."

If I bought a square of land and filled it with nothing but with dirt and woodchips, would it become the coolest park around? Possibly. But if other kids are anything like mine, I can bet a wad of money that they'd take one look at it and ask a very simple question.

"But where are the swings?"

Sometimes you just can't win. I've come to accept this. (Sometimes.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A long difficult day

This mama is exhausted. Emotionally drained. My body wants to collapse into bed.

Today's surgery recovery was tough for Amelia. She was much more uncomfortable than last time. If she was awake, she was crying and rubbing at her eyes. She was worried that it will never get better. She was worn down from the anesthesia. She was hungry, but nauseous and unable to keep anything down. She finally perked up for a moment to play a new iPad app she had been asking me to find (her cousin had it on vacation), only to vomit all over the bed. Which, of course, freaked her out even more than she had been previously.

Finally, she sleeps. The anesthesia is probably out of her system, the only plus side to the vomiting. She is calm, she clutches her cool washcloth to dab her eyes at will. She is in Mommy and Daddy's room, comfy on the big air mattress we blew up especially for her tonight. All is quiet.

I should be drifting off to sleep myself but despite my physical fatigue, I am inexplicably wide awake. On edge. Shifting from tearful to nervous to hopeful. And so very humbled by the outpouring of support via numerous channels of communication. Phone, text, email,Twitter, Facebook...

People mean so much to me, and I could not ask for better people in my life.

Yep, even the virtual relationships. This is but a momentary bump in my life (and absolutely minor compared to what others may face), yet so many of you understand a mama's heartache - and take the time to lend a kind word.

Thank you.

Now, who wants to bet she'll wake up as soon as I reach dreamland?

Going under again

My little girl is having her second eye surgery this morning. She knows the process this time, and she is not happy about it. She has already told me that she will not wear the gown... that she will not swallow the yucky medicine... that she will not be a good girl this time.

I feel for her. I don't want her to have to do any of those things, either. But I want to see her eyes, both of them, looking at me again. I want to know that she won't suffer teasing or migraines or frustration due to her eyes.

I just want it all to be okay again.

Surgery is scheduled for around 10:00 a.m. Wish us luck... again.

I know I am praying - again - for the absolute best results this time.

We will know in about three weeks if we achieved success. Another very long three weeks.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#WW: Deep blue sea

I could not get enough of that gorgeous blue water. I try to conjure it still, in my brain. Just picturing it brings a little bit of the calm back into the reality of life back home.

Truly amazing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Adventures at sea!

We just returned from a fabulous vacation aboard the Carnival Glory funship. Amelia had a blast with her cousins and we all enjoyed the gorgeous sights of the western Caribbean.

There is something to be said for being completely unplugged. No international cell phone or data plan for us - we were 100% unreachable!

I am having a hard time getting back to reality. So for now, enjoy some of my favorite moments from our 7 days at sea:

Boarding the Glory


Ice cream - every day!

Passion Island, Cozumel

Pink & purple braid

Towel elephant

Silliness on our balcony

Tabayana Beach @ Isla Roatan, Honduras

Snorkeling @ Tabayana Beach

Mahogany Bay, Roatan

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Our Fun Ship!

More photos and vacation memories to come!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A perfect pair

Two things that go together perfectly:

A very rainy day out there...

..and a cozy bed in here.

Child is at preschool. I finished my office work for the moment. 90 minutes to kill before I have to leave the house. I can hear the rain pounding on the roof and windows. The sky is gray, so the house is dim.

So quiet.

I'm going to soak up these moments.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I was the best mom ever - until I became one.

Rebecca is a Homeschool Mom and writes about life's journey at Mom's Mustard Seeds. A place for all spend time laughing, crying and resting, while being encouraged to push forward and seek out faith that can move mountains.

I love her thoughts here. She's a pretty smart mama!

- - - - -
Parenting, it's a funny thing.
I was really good at it...the best...until I became one.

You too? Maybe not.

Before I became a parent...I thought "Wow, my kids will never do that."

Then, I became a parent...and children began to do whatever it was I swore my they would never do.

You scream or cry in a grocery store.

Long gone are my thoughts of... "Yeah, my Kids won't do that."
Now, I think... "Glad it's not my turn"...or "That poor baby,he/she is tired...and Mom is, too...sure wish I could help."

What about you? Were you the perfect parent before you became one. Or have you found that epiphany of the perfect parenting mixed with kids that are very pliable in this crazy world that seems to drive 100 mph....with the windows down and everyone running to their own destinations to meet their own needs or desires?

Nope, my kids aren't perfect.

But, I love them...and accept them for who they are. I can't change their hearts, but I can walk along life's paths while they are with me. I can tie their heart strings to mine in a way that will give them precious memories to cherish and desire for their own home....and I can share with them the same love, grace and mercy that Jesus shares with me daily!

I love spending days drawing, making crafts, baking, learning, reading, playing and building relationships with my children....and I'm beginning to let go.....
I'm letting go of being the perfect parent...and expecting perfect children. I want to be a parent who shares in the joys and laughter....the good and the bad....all moments, walking this glorify him!

And...if you ever see me in a store with my children...we may be laughing or I may be the one crying. I just ask...that if I am crying...please don't judge me. Maybe walk up, put your arm around me and say...."One day....this too shall pass"....

Put a little laughter in your day....enjoy it all....because one day those sticky little fingers will be grown...the laundry no longer piling up and either school work or homework will no longer be strewn about the house...and the dog won't be eating it either. BUT, their heartstrings may be tied so tightly to yours...through the laughter that they will come home, sit at the counter, eat some chocolate chips and roll through those aisles with you again!

What do you enjoy doing with your children? Have you let go of perfection and soaked up the beauty of a real life founded in love and acceptance?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WW: Best poetry ever

I cannot wait to share Shel Silverstein's brilliance with my daughter! I remember school library days, checking out Where The Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic over and over and over again.

Pure genius.
Smiles in a book.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pinterest party planning!

Ann blogs at Mundane Magic where where she discusses family technology, parenting, family travel and daily madness. She is continually looking for the magic to be found in the little moments of family life. She also writes for The Savvy Source as the Atlanta City Editor.
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Plan a Child's Birthday Party with Pinterest

Pinterest has become the topic of so many conversations lately, and yet I am constantly asked, "What is it's purpose? Isn't it just a waste of time?"

I smile knowingly because Pinterest actually can make your life more productive. For example, I use Pinterest to gather ideas and preplan events. Last July I used it to plan my youngest daughter's 7th owl-themed birthday party. Grace is a unique personality and she is very creative. It seemed like this party needed to have some original touches to match. Since I have older kids I know that my days of planning fun parties are limited. Eventually your kids prefer a concert outing to a theme party and you have to face that reality!


Once the owl theme and date was decided I began to search for ideas which would match. The most obvious search was "owl party", but since our party would be outdoors I also searched for games and outdoor activities which could be easily matched to the theme. I found these invitations by Anj at Snowy Bliss and fell in love with them.

I initially contemplated making them myself since I am a graphic designer by trade, but the custom ones were so reasonable in Anj's shop on Etsy (Only $9 for the design with my information, which I printed on my own computer that very afternoon.) that I decided to order them. That left me to plan — or 'pin'— the rest of the party.

I fell in love with the tissue paper flowers I saw on in this pin. I remembered learning to make them as a child, but couldn't recall the exact details. Pinterest to the rescue! By following the instructions on Leslie Ann's blog I was able to add the exact supplies to my list (without waste) and eliminate the trial and error part. She has fantastic step-by-step instructions for this project.

I really liked the way the food was displayed on this table setting out of tree stumps. I used this picture from Baby Lifestyles to convince my father-in-law to help me create a version of them for Grace's birthday party. He was even willing to make the stump with holes drilled into it to hold cake pops.

The cake I choose was a pull apart cupcake style with lots of owl details. It was originally pinned fron Disney's Family Fun website. The mini cupcakes were so adorable, so I had them made also. (more below on that adventure)


One of the hardest decisions was narrowing my "to do" list based upon the time and budget which had been decided upon. I originally saw owl beanbags which would have been adorable take-homes. With many family deadlines in the weeks prior to the party, it was obvious that it was too late to complete the crafty project. For someone who already has those materials and sewing machine at hand, the project may have been do-able.

The cupcakes were quite an endeavor in creativity. I consulted with several bake shops and cupcake bakers, but Publix bakery became my choice once it became clear that the decorating team there was willing to experiment and try new things without up charging me for every choice. In fact, the decorators were so excited about the challenge that they went though the whole store by my side looking for the perfect match of candies, cookies, and pretzels to match the photo I brought them. Having the photo printed and ready to leave with them was critical to the conversation and helped me eleviate some of the anxiousness about the final product.

I also used photo prints to help my father-in-law visualize what I needed. He's a master craftsman in the woodshop, but I doubt he's ever worried about how cake pops would be displayed. In the end he used a piece of apple wood he had been curing for the project and carefully created my pinned ideas. I used regular ones to hold baskets of acorns and platters of goodies like these acorns.


I got plenty of pictures that day, but amid all the party fun and prep I forgot to take one from afar to show the final success...but really, you can take one look at the kids and see that the day went great. Grace had her owl party and I had questions about where I got all my good ideas. I simply smiled and was thankful for Pinterest.

After the party was over, I added more detail to the pinboard's description. Originally it said, "Grace's 7th Birthday" and as a subtitle I added "Owl themed birthday party, girl's birthday party ideas, summer birthday party" to aid in other's searches. It's my hope that these ideas help someone else gather their ideas for a fun owl party. There is something beautiful about a gathering which has been thoughtfully planned. Each detail in place.

These are some of my most popular ideas to be repinned. I imagine there are little owlets running around having fun and enjoying the shared ideas of fellow parents. That's the only way we are going to survive this parenting deal, right?

What have you created with Pinterest?

Friday, March 16, 2012

A little boy with a lot of words

My friend and fellow GA Social Media Mom faces the same challenges that I do as a working mom. She is a professional on a tight schedule, raising a small child. She has a son turning two next week, and she sent me some of his amazing recent expressions. He is so young, but quite a little speaker!

I think it daily: kids are funny.

5 Most Amazing Things My Son Says

(by Joyce Brewer)

My son turns 2 this week and he’s already quite a chatterbox. When people in the grocery store or mall hear A.J. speak they ask if he’s 3 years old and are surprised by my answer.

I knew girls were supposed to be talkative, but I never imagined that a boy would say so much so soon. I credit that we have never spoken “baby talk” to him. From the moment he was born we’ve only spoken to him in complete sentences. It probably doesn’t hurt that he has two parents with backgrounds’ in TV news so we communicate for a living.

So get ready to giggle at the “5 Most Amazing Things My Son Says”:

1. “I love you Joyce.” I made the mistake of telling A.J. that my real name is Joyce, not Mommy. Little did I know how quickly this would sink into his toddler brain. Since then he finds it quite funny to tell me he much he loves and misses me using my real name.

2. “Daddy, where are you?” While we were out at night enjoying last year’s Christmas lights in our neighborhood, A.J. lost track of my husband in the dark. A.J. was 21 months old.

3. "TMZ” and “E News.” Call me a bad Mom if you want, but I need to get my celebrity news in every night and A.J. has already watched his share of these two shows.

4. “Bye Kroger” or “Bye Target.” He started saying this on his own as we left each store during our weekly shopping trips.

5. “Thank you Lord for this day and for my many blessings. Amen.” This is the bedtime prayer than I’ve said to A.J. every night. Last month, he cut me off mid-prayer and finished saying the prayer himself. I’m taking this as a sign that he’s advanced enough to learn “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”

About the author:
Joyce Brewer is an Emmy award-winning TV journalist who created Mommy Talk Show, an online parenting talk show. Joyce decided to become a work at home wife/ mom after the birth of her son. In 2011, she wrote an e-book, Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms featuring insightful interviews with Joyce and five other Atlanta moms who turned their skills and expertise into a business.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WW: Ooh La La

Thanks to another fantastic Living Social deal, Amelia and a friend got a fancy spa day at a new facility in the Atlanta suburbs. It was a pretty fabulous Friday!

Cozy spa attire

She did not enjoy the chocolate facial
(but it smelled so good!)

Side-by-side pedicures

Pre-manicure soak

Final touch: fancy makeup and fairy glitter!

- - - -
iPhone Photo Phun

Monday, March 12, 2012

And, exhale.

I did not realize it until this afternoon, but I believe I've been holding my breath for months. From the moment we scheduled the first eye surgery. Through the surgery. While we stressed and worried about the not-so-ideal results we were seeing. And as we scheduled surgery number two.

Today, we saw a second physician. We gave him no information, just that she had one surgery in January. Three people at the office tested her. She peered through prisms, lenses, and circles. She read letters, named items, and described a clown hanging on the opposite wall.

The doctor was kind and open. He acted as if he had all day to spend just with us.

And then...
He gave us an identical surgery plan as our first doctor!

I could not be more relieved. We are on the right track. We made no bad decisions. We know what to do next. March 29th - we are ready.

Deep breaths.... ahhh. Those feel pretty good.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

When moms lift you up

We all love moms. When feeling sick, even beyond age 30, I know many of us wish for our mother's soothing care and loving sympathy. As moms ourselves, we gravitate towards other parents, relishing the new bond we have with very special friends.

I am lucky enough to be part of an amazing group, the Georgia Social Media Moms. We provide a forum for one another. We ask about blog mechanics and marketing ideas, we join together for local events, we visit each other's blogs and Facebook pages. When times get tough for one of our own? We band together in boisterous support.

One of our members recently had a frightening emergency early birth for her daughter. At 32 weeks. Precious baby girl has a heart condition and is now a 4-pound sweetheart getting the medical attention she needs. Our group stayed glued to our forum, anticipating each update and asking how to help. A meal train plan was formed. We organized donations. We sent words of love and encouragement. It was an inspiring example of how strong a group of moms can be.

If you need help or extra support one day? Find a mom. Better yet, find fifty moms.

It's a power like none other!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Here we go again

Surgery number two for our precious little girl is on the calendar.

It is sooner than we expected.

We hoped for a worry-free vacation and birthday celebration before having to deal with this again, but the doctor trumped our plans.

"No, it needs to be done quickly."

So here we go again. I tell myself that we're ready. I tell myself that it will be okay. I suck it up and show my strong, brave face to the world.

80% success rate this time. Same success rate as last time - and see how well that worked out? Humph. But 80% is good....

My child is healthy. My child is happy. We are blessed with a lovely home and loving family. We have fantastic neighbors and friends. We have nothing to feel down about. We are so lucky.


I figure if I keep telling myself that, it will help.

March 29th - here we go again.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

WW: She's a baller

Some playtime at "the gym" before dance class... Amelia picked up a basketball for the very first time and started shooting. Definitely found a fantastic use for her height!

After the first few shots, I needed a video:

iPhone Photo Phun

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cheering on a milestone

Complete. As in, "it is a complete spinal cord injury."
She will not walk again.

Broken. As in, "those vertebrae were broken, shattered, upon impact."
She won't feel that again.

Anyone close to my sister-in-law remembers these events vividly. Despite the passing of time, we recall each desperate second, every gut-wrenching hour of waiting. We still feel each individual tear that rolled down a cheek and the sting from our reddened eyes. Voices still echo quietly, hauntingly, every "what if?" and "why?".

We ached for her, with her. We were angry on her behalf. We worried and scrambled for the best thing, those next steps. What to do?

We absorbed volumes about spinal cord injury in a very short time.

During those first days, we strained with each tick of the clock. Days were interminable, weeks even longer. The future was shrouded in a thick fog, and we had no  vision of what life looked like on the other side.

Today, the struggles have not vanished. But the towering pyramid of pain and fear has been reinforced, steadied, with a new found strength. A new normal. And today, my sister-in-law returns to work for the very first time since the accident.

She will drive herself there. She will play an important role in the education of young children once again. It is her calling. She will laugh and smile and feel proud of all that she accomplished.

We will be the crowd at her side in spirit, and we will feel with her from afar. We are here cheerleaders, now and forever. So very proud of this new poignant step.

- - - - 
This week's Write on Edge RemembRED prompt: 
Write about a time when something was irrecoverably broken and the ensuing scramble.
I had to dedicate today to my SIL, and this prompt fit right in.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Princesses and frogs at the GA Aquarium

Look where we're going on Saturday!

We love the GA Aquarium. Mix it with princesses and Radio Disney? Sounds like an event we can't miss!

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Georgia Aquarium Princess Day, March 10
It's B.Y.O.T (Bring Your Own Tiara), and frog kissing is optional!

Georgia Aquarium's Princess Day, presented by Eversave, invites all princesses, princes and frogs* to join our very own royalty as they appear in person to help raise awareness for frog conservation. Georgia Aquarium is committed to ensuring the survival and conservation of all amphibian species, and what better way to highlight the struggles of the world's amphibians than to join with the frog's greatest friend, the princess. Festivities include princess interactions, photo opportunities, giveaways, arts, crafts and games - all with princesses and lots of frogs, too!

Kids age 12 and under dressed in princess, prince or frog costume receive FREE admission!

Radio Disney will be onsite from 12-2 p.m. to join in the fun. These events are available and complimentary for all guests in the Aquarium.

*1 FREE child age 12 and under in princess, prince or frog costume with each paid adult or Annual Pass Member. Each child receives 1 FREE Total Ticket, which includes Aquarium admission, AT&T Dolphin Tales show, Deepo's Undersea 3D Wondershow and Frogs - A Chorus of Colors.

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If you're in the Atlanta area, come join us!
Tweet about the festivities with hash tag #RoyalGAAqua

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Just the simple things

I don’t need grand gestures,
Nor a sparkling ring.
I don’t need huge effort,
No, just the simple things

I adore the simplest joys in life. It seems that when we take a moment to step away from the chaos that is today’s modern, busy world, those little things can tug at our heartstrings like nothing else.

Wet eyelashes on my sweet girl as she plays in the tub.

A fleeting shared grin from a secret held between the two of us.

A ladybug rescued from the house and set free to fly in the wind.

A refrigerator plastered with handmade art.

Fuzzy socks, a blanket, and a storybook.

A touch, a smile, or a wink from one of the few people who can see inside my soul.

I don’t need a big gift,
Just you, right there.
Open eyes, open hearts,
To the simple moments we share.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Indoor ideas for rainy days

Our Atlanta winter has been pretty amazing so far. Generally warm with frequent blue skies. We have enjoyed more outdoor time this winter than we probably did all summer (because then, of course, it is way too hot!). But every now and then, we get a stretch of rainy days. Or in the case of my household, several unwelcome sick days as well.

I am not a stay-at-home kind of person. I get bored. I prefer to be doing something, going somewhere, or completing a task. Five consecutive days in the house last week due to all three of us being sick? Nearly drove me insane. However, it did make me a lot more creative with indoor activities.

Here are some of my favorite Rainy Day Activities for Kids
(can apply to sick days too!):

Gloomy outside? Close up all the windows and do some indoor camping! We like to play this in the evening when the room can be really dark. Get a play tent and a camping lantern. Eat marshmallows off long skewer sticks (you can pretend to roast them over an invisible camp fire). Have the kid(s) "fall asleep" in the tent while you make nighttime sounds. Play with shadows on the wall.

Need to burn off extra energy? Couch cushion building - and jumping. We take all the couch cushions and pillows we can find to build a tall tower. Or a fort. Or we simply lay them in a long track along the floor and bounce, bounce, bounce our way across. If the pillows are somewhat small, they can be unstable. So be sure to build your track far away from anything that may cause injury in case of excitement "over-bouncing."

Want to teach some cooking skills? Make simple homemade playdough. There are various recipes for homemade playdough, some cooked and some uncooked. The uncooked version only requires salt (about 1/2 cup), flour (about 2 cups), and water (about 1/2 cup). While it will not last more than a couple days, kids enjoy this recipe because it requires no cooling time. Let them experiment with food coloring or glitter to make extra special dough.

Finally, why be afraid of a little rain? Grab umbrellas and go outside for a walk. My daughter loves our rainy day walks. Kids are so sheltered from rain most of the time that choosing to walk, dance, or even run in it seems exciting - a little bit like breaking the rules. Of course, always check for thunder & lightning - don't go outside in a storm!

What do you like to do when stuck at home?
I could always use new ideas. The next preschool virus is surely lurking around the corner... these kids share way too many germs!
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