Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting creative with bedtime issues

Every now and then, I come up with a pretty good parenting idea. Today? I am quite proud of my "bedtime activities chart."

You see, we have a bedtime issue.
A classic three-year-old "I don't want to stop playing" issue.
And yes, we - Mom & Dad - are probably to blame.

After a busy day of work, errands, and various tasks, we enjoy the quiet of Amelia's bedroom and the extra time for some giggles. But with every new funny game we play, our precocious little daughter files it away and comes to expect it. Again and again and again each night. At this point, our bedtime routine has about twelve steps and takes forever. We can't even get a nighttime babysitter because her routine is that crazy.

Tonight, we're introducing my new creation. A chart with velcro images. A chart that allows Amelia to make her own bedtime choices. But only two of them. Each night, we will let her dictate what we play. She will select two images (books, animals, Little People, songs, etc.) and stick them to the bright pink squares.

No changing her mind. No asking to do more. She gets to select TWO activities.

I am prepared to face a few tears at first. However, I hold out hope that we can reach a good place. I want to help Amelia assert her independence by leaving the activity selection entirely in her own hands (literally). I want to help manage her expectations by focusing those decisions and consistently sticking with only two per night.

This chart was easy to make. Images from the Internet, self-stick velcro dots, some poster board, and tape. I think it's a pretty sharp idea!

Let's hope it works.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Coming soon: BalancingMama!

I will get back to blogging very soon.
During this short time off, I'm seizing the opportunity to make a couple changes.

After stalking the URL for a few months, it finally became available. So, in order to match my Twitter handle and better fit my blog content, this will soon become (drum roll please....)!

I have a sweet spot in my heart for 3MomsIn1, of course, but my life as Mom and my blog have evolved over the past two years.

I am more than three moms.
Like every other mom out there, I am a thousand things.

This blog is about more than parenting.
It's about me. A look into my life, my memoirs, my recommendations, my dreams and my aspirations.

I truly am a Balancing Mama. I will never be balanced, as true balance is an ever-changing, slightly intangible thing. I am a real person with real stories and struggles. A parent just like most of you.

Thanks for reading! I can't wait to connect with you soon.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just in case you miss me...

Not back to blogging just yet.

but just in case you are truly devastated without my tales of parenthood and musings of childhood, I'm sharing a few new fall photos of my lovely.

Enjoy :)

And no worries, I will be back!

Look for soon!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sometimes you have to let go

I am going to step back for a bit and decide if I still want to do this.

Life is busy, and I feel like I'm spending too much of it in front of a screen.

There is a very good chance I will end up bored out of my mind. In which case, I will be back.

For now, I am taking a hiatus. Telling myself it's only 10 days. Hoping, actually, that it's only 10 days.

But time will tell.

I need to see what my BalancingMama life is all about without a blog.

* * * * * * * *
I will still be chatting on Twitter and visiting my favorite blogs.... I still want to connect.
* * * * * * * *

Monday, November 7, 2011

If life was like three-year-old art

If only life could mimic three-year-old art every day...

My wish for my daughter?
  • May she always live in a world of rainbows and sunshine
  • May she always have a hand to hold
  • May she always have a smile
  • May she always know how much she is loved
  • May she always believe in the extraordinary power of family
I really love that kid.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

If you knock on my door...

If you knock on my door unexpectedly, I cannot promise you will see this family's best. Sweatshirts, no makeup, and toussled hair from playtime would be more likely.

If you come inside, I cannot promise you won't step on stray toys.

If you glance in the kitchen, I cannot promise you will see a sink free of dishes. In fact, you'll probably guess what we ate for lunch that day.

You see, I learned early on that cleaning can wait. I would clean myself in circles if I picked up each and every game, crayon, puzzle, or princess dress. Sometimes playtime pulls me away from those lunch dishes. Occasionally the sunshine drags us outside.

We do a family clean-up each evening. We go to bed with a neat home, ready to start again with fun in the morning. I like to wake up to a fresh start, but live life to the fullest during the day.

Life does not wait, but the mess will.

So if you're thinking of paying us a little visit?
Know that friends are always welcome.
Just enter at your own risk.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Things for which I have no patience...

Being Amelia's Mommy is amazing. I love that kid with all my heart. She makes me laugh and amazes me with how quick she learns new tricks. I would never give up this job for anything in the entire world... I love being Mommy... blah, blah, blah... yes, we know.


There are a few things that drive me completely insane. Instances where I would prefer to run out of the house screaming even though I'd be completely embarrassed if the neighbors saw what I was wearing.

I have absolutely no patience for...

Car-load dawdling. If I let her, this child would take 15 minutes to get herself seated in the car. Even - no, especially - if it is blazing hot outside, pouring down rain, or if another driver is waiting with their turn signal on, hoping to take our parking space. She climbs across the car to investigate a crumb on the floor, looks for a book underneath the driver's seat, takes her shoes off, wants a drink of water when her cup is in the front seat cupholder, "accidentally" slips and falls on the floor when trying to get in her car seat.... I am over it.

Bedtime stalling. Can anyone tell me why children do not crave bedtime like their mommies do? Do you know what I would give for someone to force me to lay down for a nap? Or to rub my back for a couple minutes, instructing me to sleep?!? We have a difficult time deciphering if she is truly scared or just playing her masterful game of stalling, but our bedtime routine is short on cute, sweet, and cuddly these days.  I am beyond over it.

Bingo boredom. We own two preschool-friendly games that are actually enjoyable. But Little Einstein's bingo? Drives me bonkers. I feel like a drill sergeant barking orders instead of a friendly playmate. For some reason, she begs to play this game, but cannot hold her attention on it for more than 6 seconds at a time. Playing this game sounds like this:
"Okay, Amelia, spin. Amelia? Your turn to spin."  
"Blue Leo. Amelia? Blue Leo. Do you have any Blue Leos? Put the pieces on the Blue Leo. Amelia... put the pieces on. On Blue Leo. Yes, there."
(Mommy spins a Green Annie.)
"Amelia, I got Green Annie. Amelia? Amelia! Green Annie. Do you have any Green Annies? Amelia? Amelia? Green Annie. Put the pieces on Green Annie. No, that's Purple June. It's Green Annie...."
Seriously! Yet, she loves this game. She won't let me put it away before we've filled our bingo cards. I now know where the old bingo ladies at the civic center get their gray hair... they must have practiced the game with my child. I am really, really, over it.

Don't make let feel all alone here.

Tell me, when are you completely drained of patience?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Real Moms (like me!) Love to Eat

I am a mom who loves to eat. I have a sugar addiction and adore the convenience of not-so-healthy foods. And yes... I have put on a couple pounds. I find myself rationalizing but I'm not fat and I'm smaller than most American adults and I don't even wear double-digit clothing sizes.

Blah, blah, blah.

The reality is, I need to think about my health as well as my size. I want to be able to keep up with my energetic daughter for years to come. I do not want to succumb to a heart attack at age 47 (or anytime).

I think I have discovered a way to boost my enthusiasm for a better lifestyle. This winter, SocialMom and certified health counselor Beth Aldrich will release her new book, Real Moms Love to Eat.

In the book, she helps moms to undergo a gradual lifestyle change towards better eating and provides several weeks' worth of meal ideas and tips.

She does not tell us to go on a drastic diet.

She does not tell us to go hungry.

She does not expect us to have three extra hours each day to implement challenging strategies.

She does not take on a "I know better than you" persona.

It is a realistic guide for moms just like me... balancing moms. Moms who could stand to lose a few pounds. Moms who loathe exercise. Busy moms. Moms who know their health is important, but time and fatigue often get in the way.

My daughter is the light of my life.
If she goes for a run in the park, I want to run with her.

I am going to be nicer to my body.

And I'm publishing these words where the whole world can read them...
so hold me to it, people.

If you are a blogger, be sure to check out the Food Affairates Program to help celebrate the new book!

For more info:

Or follow @realmomsluv2eat on Twitter

- - - - -
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Beth Aldrich - Real Moms Love to Eat blogging program, for a chance to get 3,000 My SocialMoms Rewards points. For more information on how you can participate, CLICK HERE

WW: Costumed Camaraderie

Daddy-Daughter pumpkin time

A beautiful princess (today & every day!)

The pumpkin menagerie

Duh... I'm Dopey!

Best. Neighbors. Ever.

Candy SCORE!

iPhone Photo Phun

Link up with @BelleBeanDog and @TamingInsanity for  
iPhone Photo Phun today!

Also linked up to:

Monday, October 31, 2011

I remember her... and the doughnuts

Over the river and through the woods we traveled, twisting and winding over a mountain until, descending, we felt the telltale rumble of our Chevy tires over nearly-forgotten brick streets.

Up the porch steps we bounded, past the creaky swing and into the 60s/70s style tiled kitchen.

I held in my question through hellos and hugs until the words burst from my mouth, no longer able to be contained, "What are we having for breakfast?"

My mouth watered simply thinking of them. My taste buds readied at high alert, waiting, anxious, so very ready for the warm dough creation that only she knew how to make.

Thoughtfulness was kneaded into the fresh handmade dough. Companionship was leavened as the yeast performed its trick. Excitement and anticipation bubbled as the hot oil began to crackle.

As she scooped out the first strips of golden crispy perfection, my little body danced in the metal chair pushed up to the Formica tabletop. The plate of treasure was placed, steaming, before me and I paused. Waited. Grabbed for the largest piece only once the crown of glimmering sugar rested on the surface.

Hot, melt-in-your-mouth dough.
Sweet dusting of pure sugar.
That was what love tasted like.

I don't even know their real name. She always called them "Polish doughnuts", a nod to her heritage (and a little bit of mine).

I asked for them every single visit.
And she obliged.

Every single time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Immortalizing my favorite notes from Bloggy Bootcamp

Bear with me here… one more Bloggy Bootcamp Atlanta post. I have several notebook pages’ worth of notes, worthy of another pass forward:

“You are a brand. If you put any thought into getting dressed today, if you didn’t just grab blindly into your closet and grab whatever you could reach, you branded yourself.”

To help define your brand, answer these questions:

 • What are my distinguishing characteristics/traits?

 • What are my guiding principles/values?

 • What is my role on the web?

 • What is my promise?

 • What is my story?

(from @AmyBHole)
- - -

How to avoid blog burnout?

 • Make tough decisions (hours, schedule, PR, features, etc.)

 • Find your tribe (anyone who is not happy for your individual success is not your tribe)

 • Use your time wisely (we only have one life – work smarter, not harder)

 • Make time for rest/play (your blog becomes more alive when you live)

• Don’t be afraid of change (“Into the highlands of the mind let me go”)

(from @StaceyNerdin)

- - -

WHO you are is not simply a list of your roles.

Establish credibility and define HOW you are – the tangible qualities that provide insight into your skills and abilities , and assurance that you will deliver on that promise.)

(from @ShanellSaidIt)
- - -

Because of social media, the world operates in conversations. It’s all about the relationship.

Ask yourself, “where do I want to be in 2013?”; If an opportunity or idea does not move you toward this goal, you may want to think twice about using your valuable time for it.

(from @SwayGroup)

- - -

Women Online
Visit The SITS Girls for more information on Bloggy Bootcamp and to experience an endearing, truly supportive community.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"A careful woman" (reminder for moms)

I wish I could say I wrote this, but I did not. I came across it recently and it just stuck. It haunts me in a way, not like a regret or nightmare, but as a guardian angel reminding me to strive for my best:

"The Little One That Follows Me"
(author unknown)

A careful woman, I ought to be;
a little one follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
for fear they'll go, the self-same way.

I cannot once escape their eyes,
whatever they see me do, they'll try.
Like me, they say, they're going to be,
that little one that follows me.

They think that I am good and fine;
believe in every work of mine.
The bad in me they must not see;
my life to them, must, an example be.

I must remember, as I go,
through summer's sun and winter's snow,
I'm building for the years to be,
for that little one that follows me.

It is not easy to strive for our best every day. Fatigue transforms our amusement into impatience, and impatience chases away our calm voice. No human is perfect; all we can do is try.

But try I will.
I have no other choice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wow, I sound adventurous!

Last week, I shared 22 things I have NOT done.

Linking up again to Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop, where I selected the prompt: “Write a list of 22 things you HAVE done”

Maybe I’ll reveal a few things that surprise you!

I have…

1. Gone parasailing

2. Danced in the rain

3. Experienced an earthquake

4. Bicycled down a volcano (Haleakela)

5. Tasted and dined at a winery in Tuscany

6. Climbed 2 miles up Mt. Ranier

7. Happily bounded 2 miles DOWN Mt. Ranier

8. Ridden Millennium Force at Cedar Rapids twice in a row

9. Viewed New York City from the Empire State Building

10. Climbed a glacier

11. Taken a photo of the Sistine Chapel ceiling

12. Eaten candy made from flowers (lavender and rose)

13. Earned a bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude, baby!)

14. Been to Disney World many times

15. Seen a grizzly bear mama with cubs in the wild

16. Survived a trip to Europe with a 14-month old

17. Posted on this blog 508 times. (It’ll be 2 years in January!)

18. Marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

19. Fed animal cookies to a sheep

20. Been mama to bunnies, cats, and fish

21. Strolled the streets of Barcelona

22. Been a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, and a mom.

Oh yes, I know I am blessed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WW: Swag from Bloggy Bootcamp!

Bloggy Bootcamp had great sponsors:

I join the @SITSGirls in thanking them for helping to support the conference. None of us would be able to afford a ticket if it weren't for sponsors' support.

Sony, thank you!
Best Buy, thank you!
Arm & Hammer, thank you!
Goody, thank you!
Laughing at Wall Street, thank you!
Bissell, thank you!
Tide, thank you!
Two Prince, thank you!
Mirassou, thank you!

And all others... thank you too!

Monday, October 24, 2011

"I am from.." (a post from #BBCATL & writer's workshop)

I am from homemade cookies, Keds sneakers, and lightning bugs.

I am from the cul-de-sac headquarters of the neighborhood BBQ, where friendly handshakes and childlike giggles paused only for a mom's still-warm and oozing blueberry pie.

I am from the grass, the fresh, crisp softness between asphalt-blackened toes.

I am from beach vacations and open arms, from farmers and coal miners and first-generation college graduates.

I am from the watermelon fights and "I'm sorry" hugs.

From "you can do anything" to "be careful what you say".

I am from Rocky Top and European immigrants, meat and potatoes.

From the playful cousins to the available parents, and the sister so close in age we could share friends as well as clothes.

I am from handmade quilts, memories captured on Kodak slides, and a place that will, within my soul, always be frozen in time.

- - - -
This post was crafted during Bloggy Bootcamp Atlanta. Thanks to MamaKat and Francesca who led the session and found the fantastic original post "Where I'm From" by writer/teacher George Ella Lyon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A “just for fun” blogger attends a blog conference

I bravely purchased my ticket to Bloggy Bootcamp Atlanta many months ago. As the date crept closer and closer, my anxiety grew larger and larger. I worried about how to look, how to act, and whether or not I would be welcome in such a large, talented, and diverse group of blogging women.

Once the date was literally a night away, yet another worry set in.

What if none of this applies to me?

I have no illusions of grandeur when it comes to this blog. I know my life. I know the slightly compulsive, stress-prone gray matter between my ears. I know that any entrepreneurial adventure requires hard work, many hours, and a dedication I simply cannot handle at this period of my life.

So, what exactly does a “just for fun” blogger get out of Bloggy Bootcamp?

I got validation. Other human beings know who I am read what I write.

I got understanding. My blog is “just a hobby”. But it is a hobby worthy of my time and a piece of my heart.

I got encouragement. Real-life people care about my success, even if my definition of success has nothing to do with the weight of my wallet.

I got an identity. I narrowed in on it, anyway. Throughout many sessions, I found myself repeating to myself phrases like “I am a real person”, “so mothers can find someone who understands”, and “ what you read is what you get”. My blog is about me, from personal expression through creative writing to funny tales of raising a princess-obsessed little lady. I am not famous, nor overly talented, nor beautiful as a Hollywood starlet. But I share what is real, and I provide an extra voice of support to moms everywhere. I understand that we are all different. I know that no two kids are exactly alike. With other moms, I share the most important bond; we are raising the next generation. To the best of our ability.

I got a hug from MamaKat!
One of many incredible people who made this "just for fun" blogger feel right at home.

Photobucket Photobucket
Photobucket Atlanta_Fox
 Photobucket Photobucket

Photos of @mamakatslosinit, @InTheKitchenKP, one half of @ThirdBoob,
@StaceyNerdin, and my lovely city of Atlanta.

Friday, October 21, 2011

BBC in the AM!

My hopes for Bloggy Bootcamp Atlanta 2011:
  • I hope I recognize a few faces. It is not easy to match tiny twitter avatars to real-life lovely ladies!
  • I hope the food is good. And I hope we get snacks. I like snacks.
  • I hope I kick my social anxiety to the curb and dive into some great conversations.
  • I hope Bloggy Bootcamp re-energizes me, my creativity, and my writing.
I am awake way too late, but a little high-strung. Wish me luck! Off I go, bright and early....  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Twelve thousand two-hundred days+

I have been around for over 12,210 days. I am 33 years old.

I have viewed lovely places and experienced a few adventures, but I have never…

1. Eaten food at Taco Bell

2. Traveled great distances by train

3. Jumped from an airplane

4. Been a dog owner

5. Hugged a boa constrictor

6. Worn a leather jumpsuit
(but this one can be yours for only $755 at Nieman Marcus)

7. Been struck by lightning

8. Eaten snails

9. Gone hang-gliding

10. Broken a bone

11. Visited Paris

12. Shaved my head

13. Watched a Disney movie in Minnesota

14. Burped my ABCs

15. Grown taller than 5’ 4”

16. Performed in a real circus
(only the preschool one when I was four)

17. Tickled an iguana

18. Soaked up sunshine in Tahiti

19. Visited
(but I guess I’d better check it out…)

20. Totaled a car

21. Climbed to the top of a palm tree

And #22…

I have never, ever lost an ounce of love for these two people:

I would give up all my wishes and past experiences for them.

 - - - -
Writing prompt from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop! Join in next week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Disney does it again (Magic!)

They did it again. Magic.
We saw Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream on Sunday. Amazing! Amelia was already acting out scenes and songs from princess movies an a near constant basis... now she's acting out and skating scenes. It's Princesspalooza around here! Morning, noon, and night.
Before the show: City girl attitude

Costume change!

Glow sticks!
(Here's a tip: Buy them at WalMart before you go! Saves a ton of $)

Dare to Dream (two thumbs up!)

iPhone Photo Phun 

Photos taken via my iPhone, of course!
Linked up to #iPPP again this week.

Monday, October 17, 2011

If you really knew me...

Social media has a way of making us feel popular. We feel a twinge of pride from having hundreds of Facebook friends, thousands of Twitter followers, and blog readers from all over the world.

But there is a line between tangible and virtual.

Not too long ago, a well-respected and heavily-followed social media expert committed suicide. For many of us, we immediately thought, "How could that be? He had so many followers!".

But a social media follower is not the same as a real-life friend. It is easy to feel alone, even in the thick of a crowd.

If you really knew me, you would know that...

I write the truth.
I write from my heart.
I am what I write...
But I am probably too embarrassed to talk about it in person.

My first blog conference is coming up on Saturday.

I am a nervous wreck.

What do I wear?
Are comfy shoes okay?
Should I try to be trendy?
Or should I just be me?
What if "me" isn't good enough?

What if I hate it?
Can I leave early and go home to my family?

If you really know me, you will understand that this step is a big one. Blog readers know my heart. They have read my dreams. They are aware of my fears.

And I am about to come out from behind the computer screen... as ME.

I still have no idea what I'm going to wear.

- - -
Inspired by one of Mama Kat's prompts from her prompt-generator HERE.
"If you really knew me, you would know that..." partner:

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