Sunday, April 29, 2012

Find fascinating Fernbank!

For a suburbanite or a visitor to Atlanta, the Fernbank Museum of Natural History  may be a little bit difficult to find. You can find it tucked away within the trees, next to a gorgeous golf course. It is worth the search - what a fun time we had today!

"Mommy...", she said, with a most serious look on her face, "Mommy - the ice is melting!"

Our visit to Fernbank started with the new IMAX showTo the Arctic. Clearly, the message was not lost on us, not even for a 4-year-old. She watched in amazement as the beautiful scenes flew before our eyes. We felt the tug at our heartstrings for the family of polar bears, a mama and her sweet cubs, as they continually fled for their safety. We marveled at the majesty that was a huge pack of caribou mothers, traveling to safer land for the birth season. Amelia stayed quiet, eyes wide, occasionally pointing to something beautiful on the giant screen ahead.

Definitely worth seeing - we loved every minute.

After the film, we explored the museum. Fernbank has fun for all ages. Giant fossil cast dinosaur skeletons, hands-on science exhibits, and Nature Quest - undoubtedly, Amelia's favorite part.

For the young children, Nature Quest is a wonderland with a treehouse, tunnels, magical streams of water (that don't get you wet!), caves, and an area for "undersea" exploration. We played in this area first - which may be a bad idea, as she asked "when are we going back to NatureQuest?" every four minutes throughout the rest of the exhibits.

We paused for some photos with the dinosaurs, of course:

And yes, we went back for a second round of playtime in Nature Quest before making our way to the car.

Fernbank also houses exhibits showcasing animals and wonders of Georgia ("A walk through time in Georgia") and several more dinosaurs to make you tilt your head up to the sky just to say hello.

Fernbank gets an A+ on our list of Atlanta family attractions.

After about 7 minutes in the car, she asked when we can go back.

- - - - -
Disclosure: I received admission to the museum and IMAX show from the wonderful folks at the Fernbank Museum. However, all opinions are 100% mine. I visited Fernbank in the past and loved it - and it was even better today as my daughter discovered it for the first time! :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Let's be honest - coming soon!

On April 30th, Purex will launch a new Let’s Be Honest promotional campaign featuring Second City Comedian Molly Erdman. Get ready to enjoy a funny series of short video vignettes sharing honest moments that reflect the ironic truths of everyday Life, Laundry, and... Whatever!

But wait... there's more! EVERY DAY, one lucky entrant will win a year’s supply of Purex detergent! This sweepstakes runs through July 24th.
I'll be sure to remind you when the campaign is live so you can enter - and hopefully win! You can also like Purex on Facebook to keep up with the fun vignettes and sweepstakes excitement.

I am a Purex Insider and help spread the word about the Purex® family of laundry products. As an Insider, I receive sample product and incentives in exchange for participating in brand related activities.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Serious dancin' shoes!

Amelia's usual sparkle shoes are wearing out. The toes are scuffed and the little bows are black with dirt.

"Mommy, can I get light-up shoes? I really NEED light-up shoes!"

Without thinking, I told her sure. We could look for light-up shoes.

Three shoe stores later, we finally found some. The brightest, gaudiest shoes on the planet. And expensive! I had no idea light-up shoes had such a shocking price tag ($45 for little kid shoes?!?)

But I had promised. We had a little discussion about money and that these were very expensive. She thanked me with her sweet blue eyes aglow with happiness.

She was extremely excited to wear these to school today!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#WW: Boogie Woogie City Girl

We're a suburban Atlanta family. Amelia grew up with airplanes, traffic, shows, and events. She's definitely a city girl.

But her favorite restaurant?
Texas Roadhouse!

She loves the food, the decor, the music, and the servers' dancing.

After dinner the other night, she boogied down quite a bit herself:

- - -
This post is part of #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), where we link up photos taken from our smart phones. Any smart phone. Link up here:

iPhone Photo Phun

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Adequate: this BalancingMama's approach to home & work

There has been a lot of talk about at-home moms vs. working moms, especially given the Romney/Rosen backlash a week ago. What I do not understand is, why do moms insist on turning on each other?

Working vs. staying at home.
Breastfeeding vs. formula.
Babywearing vs. strollers.
Cloth diapers vs. disposable.

I have seen discussions like these turn into attacks, hurt feelings, and broken friendships. It hurts to see mothers judge each other so harshly. And for what result?

Mothers (and dads) everywhere have to make thousands of decisions as they walk the path of parenthood. Every family dynamic is different. Every mother is different. Every child has his or her own quirks and needs and wants. With the exception of a few truly rotten eggs out there, most mothers have infinite love for their children, and they want to give them the best of the world - and the best of themselves.

Her best may not be the same as your best.
And that is OK.

Often, I hear "you have the best of both worlds!" in regards to my part-time working, part-time at-home parenting. In some ways, sure, maybe I do. Or perhaps I have the most difficult part of each world instead? What I do have, is my own personal understanding of the challenges of each side of this parenting debate.

I feel like I do many things adequately, but not one thing really well. I am good at my job, but I have to set things aside numerous times each day to turn my focus towards Amelia. I miss in-office days regularly. I seem to be away from the computer just when someone has an urgent client need. I feel like the rope in a game of tug-of-war. Back and forth, back and forth. Work would be easier if I had full days to focus on those tasks alone.

When I am home with Amelia, we have fun moments. I am lucky enough to be able to spoil her with ice cream or shopping or playground fun in the middle of the week. I can kiss her boo-boos in person when she has a fall. But that pull is always there. Work does not pause while waiting for me to get back to the office. So Amelia hears a lot of, "not right now", "give me a minute", and "Mommy is working - go find something else to do". Parenting would be easier if I only had to focus on her needs.

I do the best I can. I work a bit, I in-person parent a lot. Would life feel easier if I made a decision and focused on just one of these roles? It seems like it would... but I bet new challenges would simply surface elsewhere. I think no matter what role we decide for ourselves, there is always a question in the back of our minds. Good mothers want to be great mothers; and being great means always striving for the best choice, the best situation. And being confident and proud of that decision.

Working mothers deserve to be proud of their accomplishments as well as their children. Stay-at-home-moms deserve to be proud of their accomplishments, their knowledge, and their children as well. Neither role is easy, and no one role is the right way. So why fight about it?

Let's not let our own worries become venom towards others. In this game of life, we can take different paths - and we can all win.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two movies

We have shows and movies on quite a bit in this house. Amelia doesn't nap, so we often have an afternoon resting time with some cozy blankets, the couch, and our trusty DVR or Blu-Ray. I rarely get to see anything for me. I was, however, excited about our trip to the theater for The Lorax a couple weekends ago. And last night, after Amelia was asleep in bed, Steve and I watched We Bought A Zoo.

The Lorax was a good one. I loved the imaginative town and funny people. My favorite? The sweet and cuddly little forest bear. The story was enjoyable and the end, believe it or not, was actually exciting! I adore the grandma character voiced by the beloved Betty White. This may be a kid movie, but I count it as a rare treat for me - I liked it just as much as she did!

We Bought A Zoo exceeded expectations. I thought it looked cute, but it had perfect moments of humor and some quirky characters. It touched mt heart and tickled a funny bone at the same time. Matt Damon was a perfect lead for this one, and I couldn't get enough of the sweet 7-year-old actress. What a sweetie!

Have you seen any movies that I should put on my wish list? Grown up movie night is so rare, I don't want to waste it on a dud. What should I look for next?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A promise

Three and a half months ago, I looked into her sweet face and made a promise.

"I promise, everything is going to be okay. We're going to make your eyes better."

We took her into her first eye muscle surgery before the sun came up on January 12th. The procedure itself went okay, but the stress was hard to handle. The following days and weeks were even worse. We waited and hoped, but her eyes looked wrong. Worse than before. She complained of double vision, told us her eyes were "sick". All we could do was wait and try to push away the bad thoughts that we did this to her.

Even though this was a minor medical issue compared to all those "what ifs" in life, nothing I have ever experienced feels worse than thinking I screwed up my beautiful daughter. My husband and I were on edge, bickering. Stressing each other out. I was not sleeping. One good positive day was often followed by two days of near-paralyzing worry.

I promised her it would be okay.

Finally, eight weeks after surgery and after many follow up doctor visits, we were told that a second surgery would be needed. The plan was to put the muscles moved in surgery #1 back to where they were - and move a different muscle. And we were told it had to be done quickly - within a few weeks.

The guilt I felt was tremendous when we had to tell her she'd be going through surgery again. I was afraid to promise again. But on March 29th, we pulled her out of bed once again and made the trek to the Children's outpatient surgery center. Surgery went as planned again. Recovery was much worse than last time. She slept all day, cried when awake, and vomited at night. She woke in the morning terrified because swelling prevented her from opening her eyes. I was still afraid to make any promises.

Yesterday morning, we had her 3-week post-surgery check. The appointment took all of 10 minutes. She looks great! No more squinting, no more closing an eye, no more tucking her chin down to see straight. No more "moving eyes".

She looks great. She feels great. She is happy that we don't have to go to the doctor again for almost three months. I took a huge breath. I think maybe I've been holding it for months.

It took a while, but I kept my promise to my girl.
Her eyes are better. Everything is finally okay.

Writer's Workshop prompt this week: A promise.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#WW: The big bucks

Traffic has been especially aggravating in the Atlanta area lately. If it is an in-office work day and I cannot tolerate the insanity of the interstates, I take back roads. I maneuver up and over hills, twisting and turning through luxurious neighborhoods where homes under $1 million are mere fiction.

This one has always been a favorite.

One of the most expensive homes in the area, it was once valued at $16.5 million. The plunge of our housing market resulted in a value two years ago of "only" $3.8 million. Now it rests at a comfortable $6.8 million.

Either way, it's quite the castle.

- - -
Market value source:

iPhone Photo Phun

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

See what I'm up against?

Picture it... a Monday night...

A just-turned-4-year-old sporting a Disney Princess nightgown does not want to go to bed, despite multiple warnings that it is already 30 minutes beyond her usual bedtime. She pulls out all her tricks to lengthen these moments,

"Mommy? I need one more hug."
"Daddy? I really miss you at bedtime."
"Mommy? I am very thirsty, may I have some water?"

She knows the one that always works, "I need to go potty again." 
We have to let her get up to go potty, just in case

This night, she goes potty and sloooowly washes her hands. She spies her new coconut scented shampoo on the counter, "Mommy, I want to smell my shampoo!"

Mommy's patience is all gone. "No, you may not. I said bed... NOW."

We teeter on the verge of a major meltdown, but narrowly escape as she unhappily crawls into bed. I tell her my goodnights, give her a final squeeze, and leave the room. Then I remove the shampoo from the bathroom counter and hide it, knowing her never-ceasing persistence will drive her little bare feet over there at the first chance.   

Sure enough, we hear the telltale squeak of the floor upstairs, a mere 4 minutes later. I wait a moment, then yell upstairs, "Amelia! Get back in bed, please!"

Squeak squeak.

I go up to her room, just as she dives back under her polka dot sheets and pink butterfly quilt. I ask her what she had been doing.

"I wanted to smell my shampoo."

Grinning, naively claiming victory, I reply, "And you couldn't find it, could you?"

She sits up, her face aglow with pride. "But I did! I opened the cabinet and moved some things... and there it was! So I smelled it. Goodnight, Mommy."

I bolted from her room as fast as I could, suppressing a laugh. She did, after all, disobey me.

Does Mommy ever win?!?

- - -
Definition #1 from
Definition #2 from, well, me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I am not available this weekend!

I am so tired.
I miss lazy, no-plans weekends.
It has been at least a month since I felt rested.

It began with a nasty cold virus that hit all three of us, nestled itself snug in our ears, and stuck around for weeks. Then the vacation packing. Trying to avoid excess airline bag fees, it took days for me to strategically choose and place everything so we could check only one bag. The night before  vacation? I awoke at 2:00 a.m. and dashed to the bathroom. On the way there, I passed out cold on the floor, waking my husband with the loud thud. Then I vomited. And hit my head a second time when I passed out again. I was sweaty and sick, on and off until 6:00 in the morning. We had to be at the airport by 7:30!

That day was the most horrible travel experience ever. I was not vomiting anymore, but felt weak and tired and just plain awful. I considered staying home, but they would be cruising for a week! And I knew this would pass within a day. I couldn't even concentrate enough to look for a flight the following day. Despite my master packing efforts, we checked two bags because I could not bear to carry anything. I pushed my body and fatigue to the limits, making it through the flight, the rental car process, and an hour drive to my mother-in-law's house. I slept for many, many hours. Daddy heroically tended to Amelia's every need for a full 24 hours.

The cruise was fantastic. I was better (and even eating a little) by check-in time and vowed to use sanitizer and Lysol wipes religiously. I definitely did not want anyone to get sick from me! And thankfully, no one did. We sailed and played and ate for a week. I felt good, but it was quite an active time. I could have used a sleep catch-up day for sure.

Upon arrival home, I tackled the mountains of laundry. Got Amelia back to school for one day while I went to the office. Then she had eye surgery. Stress on top of exhaustion! This, her second time, was much worse than before. She was crying, frightened, and miserable. The first day culminated in vomit all over her bed. She awoke the next few mornings early, scared and crying because her eyes were swollen and sore. 

I hosted a baby shower that Sunday. I went to work that week. Then guests began to arrive at week's end. 

Birthday party.
Late nights because Amelia was used to her loose vacation schedule and lack of rules.

Today, I am hanging by a thread. Aches persist. I yawn and yawn and yawn. So absolutely ready for the weekend. No early plans. We all need some serious lazy time! 

I'm not even going to write a blog post.

Catch ya Monday!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Snuggly comfort

Too old for a blankie? Nah.
I am a few weeks shy of 34 years old, and one of my favorite items is a worn blanket with frayed edges.

My grandma was the crafty type. She could sew and cook better than anyone I have ever known. When we visited, chocolate chip cookies were always stacked high, ready for us to devour. And the beds were made with lovely, cozy quilts that Grandma pieced together by hand. I still have a few of them. Two are in perfect condition, used only when we have surplus guests and need extra bedding. But one is a bit faded, a bit tattered, and a whole lot of loved. It traveled from my grandparents' home, to Tennessee, to college, and to my first grown-up apartment. I packed it for the hospital when I was about to meet my sweet baby Amelia. It now resides in my house, still adored, even though time has transformed me into a working, writing, playing mama.

I am convinced this blanket releases a magical poof of comfort. The fabric is crisply cool on the surface, but just heavy enough to keep away the chill in the air. I could cuddle up on the couch with this one every day. In fact, when I have time, that is exactly what I do! Even in the summer. Some of the fabric has thinned to the point of holes. The edges are pulling apart. The colors are but pastel hues of their former brightness. But this one blanket, only this one, holds on to my heart. There is not another one like it in the world.

Grandma is not with us anymore, but I bet she is happy that I am still enjoying her handiwork. I think that's why it is so cozy; it was truly created with love between each hand stitch.

Mama’s Losin’ It
Share one of your favorite things

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

WW: Easter & Birthday Extravaganza

What a busy but magical weekend!

First time coloring eggs!

Two stars of the party - birthday girl and her castle
So happy!

With a little help from a friend...

Oohs and Ahhs
Found this by the door in the morning!
Easter Bunny gets the random toys that Mommy says are too expensive.

- - -
iPhone Photo Phun

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A super fun time on Twitter

I am partnering with fellow Georgia Social Media Mom and founder of KiddoTags to bring you a fun Twitter party with fantastic prizes - and CASH!

Kiddo Tags™ are custom name labels that stick to your Kiddo's toys, bottles, cups, pacifiers, etc., AND kid's clothing (iron-ons): They are Dishwasher and Microwave Safe, Waterproof, Weather-proof (UV-Resistant) and scuff-proof. Kiddo Tags™ are durable labels with over 150 character icons, 18 different colors, 25 different fonts AND many shapes and styles to choose from!

Daycare, preschool, and camp moms know that everything must be labeled. These are so much nicer than writing on items with a marker!

Check out some of their cute and handy product lines:

The Twitter party fun will take place on April 11th at 7:00 eastern. It'll be an hour of friendly chatting, trivia questions about KiddoTags, and four fabulous prizes - including $50 and $75 PayPal cash!

No RSVP required. Simply join us between 7:00 - 8:00 eastern on 4/11 and join in the conversation using hashtag #kiddotags. Answer the questions given during the party, and you may win! Simple, easy, and fun.

Hope to see you there!

Happy Easter & happy birthday to my big girl!

She's four today! Happy happy birthday to my beautiful princess. Growing up into such a sweet little lady.

And to those of you who celebrate, I wish you a very happy Easter and joy to you and your famlies.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Before I had a preschooler

Before child...

Before I had a preschooler, I never realized:

All the sugar packets at restaurants have been played with (and probably licked) by a small child.

Preschoolers will completely ignore their friends during a playdate, then later tell you "I had such a great day with (friend)!".

Choo-choo trains are exciting and fascinating by day, completely terrifying in dreams.

Food can be made out of anything: woodchip pizzas, play-doh cupcakes, sand pies, mud puddle soup... (warning: do not let them get their hands on dog poo).

Stuffed animals have feelings. They cry, hit each other, miss their mommies, and often need timeout.

Stuffed animals also need frequent diaper changes (and many, many baby wipes or tissues).

It is nearly impossible to outsmart a preschooler. Don't try to be sneaky, they are all on to us.

Fairies get sucked down the bathtub drain and end up swimming in the ocean. (That's why you see so many at the beach.)

Automatically flushing toilets are terrifying.

Ceiling fans are terrifying.

Preschoolers could care less who is on the other end of the phone. But if Mommy is talking on it, they transform into noisy, clingy octopus-like creatures.

Mommy's day off only works if Mommy is in another state. Or another country.

Very few things will gross you out after being Mom to a preschooler. (I caught vomit in a bed sheet the other day... and it didn't even seem unusual)

- - - -
This is mostly a repeat of a post from the archives... I could add to this list daily!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WW: Executive Assistant

Okay, so I'm not exactly an executive. But I did have a fantastic assistant at work on Monday!

Elevator to the 9th floor!
Keeping busy - cutest whale (and assistant) ever!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Morbid questions?

Okay parents, I have to ask about this one. Do all preschoolers have a fascination with dangerous "what ifs"? Amelia is driving me batty...

Crossing train tracks: "What would happen if that train hits our car?"

Driving on the interstate: "What would happen if you bumped into that big truck?"

At night: "What would happen if I fell down the stairs in the dark?"

Seeing a fire truck. "What would happen if we were covered in fire?"

Seriously! She asks questions like this many times a day. And they are all about massive danger! I answer her honestly, but vaguely - we would get hurt, the car would break very badly, you may break your arm. I have to assume this is some kind of normal learning process, and I'm certainly thankful that she asks me instead of trying anything out for real. But it still freaks me out. Such scary thoughts from such a little cutie!

Anyone else living this?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Separation sadness

Moms need "me" time, right? So why am I so sad about getting back to a regular schedule this week? We had a 9-day vacation, sleeping in the same room, together pretty much 24/7. Shortly after vacation, my sweet girl had her second eye surgery. So I've spent three days in the house with her, and she has been happily sleeping on an air mattress in our room.

This week is our school system Spring Break. But as a working mom, I have Amelia in year-round school. She is able to go to her school for "camp" on her regular schedule. Her eyes are looking good and she is feeling fine. So yeah, she could probably have gone to school today.

But I kept her out.
She is at work with me!

I think mama has some separation anxiety.

Tomorrow the real schedule must begin. I know we'll fall into our routine quickly... but I don't want to. I want to hold her hand a little longer.

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