Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The P-Word

Have you ever wondered why I refer to one-third of my mommy persona in quotation marks?

"Perfect" Mommy?

It is simple, really. I do not believe that perfect exists. Perfect is what you are "supposed" to be if you religiously follow all the baby books and doctor advice. Perfect is something that know-it-all mamas would like you to believe is attainable (These mamas are simply not sharing all the times they themselves faltered. Don't be fooled!).

If I do something "perfect" for a total of 1 hour out of my day, even if it's four separate 15-minute events, then I call it a success.

When I met (virtually, thanks to Twitter) the mama behind
Holly's House (Not a perfect mom's blog), I knew she would make a "perfect" guest poster. Thank you, Holly! Non-perfect moms are always welcome here.

- - - - -
A guest post by Holly

The Perfect Mother. Do you know her? Do you think you are her? Do you strive to be her?

Or are you like me? Have you pretty much given up on the notion of the Perfect Mother? Yup, that's right, I have given up my quest to be the Perfect Mother.

I tried to be perfect. I really did. I made my own baby food, but I didn't take the peas out the pods after I steamed them and the baby choked on the stringy puree. I bought the most expensive baby wipes that would ensure my little angel's bum smelled fresh as a daisy and he broke out in a rash from the fragrance. I tried to cut those little itty bitty fingernails with the special nail clippers the hospital sent me home with and I cut too low, causing my precious bundle of joy's finger to bleed.

I tried to be perfect.
I tried and I failed.
So now I am me.

I'm not a perfect mother. But that doesn't mean I'm not a good mother. Sure, I may accidentally have given Hope Fiber One cereal, causing her to have explosive diarrhea when she was desperate to be in big girl underwear. And then there was the time I lost her at Sea World. Um, and I also accidentally dropped Brooke in front of her physical therapist once. Oh, and I recently reduced my oldest son to tears when I was teasing him about a girl in his class he has a crush on...

But all of that doesn't make me a bad mother. Those points definitely don't highlight my stellar mothering, but we all make mistakes. I don't think that there really is that Perfect Mother anywhere. A mother that never makes mistakes, that always does the right thing.

Mothering is a process. We all learn as we go. I don't think we'll ever stop learning, especially since every child is different. Just when I think I have this whole mothering lark figured out, one of my kids changes the game on me. But I'm okay with that. I'm enjoying this journey of motherhood, the lows that make me want to try harder and be a better mother, and the highs that I'm rewarded with in hugs and kisses.

I'm most definitely not a Perfect Mother...but my own kids think I'm pretty fantastic.

And that's good enough for me.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

More fun-in-the-heat hoopla

Welcome to part 2 of my Summer Fun series!

On Friday, I introduced a new book, 100+ Free and Cheap Things To Do In Atlanta With Kids (you can buy a copy HERE).

Today, I'm excited to present a guest post from Amanda, the writer behind Confessions of a Wannabe Supermom. She shares some exciting summer ideas for bigger kids. I look forward to trying these soon!

- - - - -

Summer is just around the corner, and for a lot of moms, that means one thing – panic! If you’re wondering how to entertain your kids without breaking the bank, here are a few fun and inexpensive ideas:

1. Geocaching
This is a great hobby for the entire family, and one that is very addicting! Geocaching is a world-wide treasure hunt game played with nothing more than a GPS. Geocachers hide a “cache,” which is usually a small container with trinkets and a logbook inside, then register the cache on the official website. Using the GPS coordinates and the clues provided on the website, you find the cache and leave your name in the logbook. You can also take a prize from the cache, and leave one for someone else to take. Caches range from easy to very difficult and can hidden anywhere from a business to a hiking trail. To get started, just set up a free account at Geocaching (http://www.geocaching.com/), find a cache near you, and grab your GPS and your adventure-seeking family.

2. Summer movie specials
Many movie theaters have free or cheap summer movie matinees. Our local movie theater offers several weeks of movies each summer for $2.50 per person, or season tickets to all eight movies for $13. They are not new releases, but there are several my kids haven’t seen yet, including Megamind, How to Train Your Dragon, and Despicable Me.

3. Lapbooks
Lapbooking is familiar to many homeschoolers, but it can be a fun activity for all kids. A lapbook is an interactive book made with a file folder and several “mini-books.” Lapbooks can be made on many different topics, from art to a favorite book to dinosaurs. This summer, my boys and I are going to make one about detectives. A great place to start is Homeschool Share (http://www.homeschoolshare.com/Lapbooks_at_HSS.php) which has a huge list of free lapbook plans. Pick your favorite, print it off, and get started!

4. Nature journal
Most kids do not spend enough time outside – mine included. A nature journal is a great way to get them more interested in being outdoors. Find a notebook or a sketch pad, a pencil, and a camera and head outside. Take pictures and write notes about what you see. If your child is artistic, let them draw of what they see. Later, you can research the bugs, birds, flowers and other things you find in your backyard or local park.

5. Summer Reading Club
My kids love the Summer Reading Club at our local library! We’ve seen magic shows, animals from local conservation parks, and (gross but true) dissected owl poop to see what they had eaten. At the end of summer, the library hosts a pizza party and gives free books to all the kids.

---From the author:---
My name is Amanda. I'm a pastor’s wife, working mom to two boys, and a college student in the dental hygiene program. My life is crazy busy, but I love it! When I’m not busy playing Supermom, I love cooking, crime shows, coffee, blogging, working out, and a rainy day with a good book. I blog at Confessions of a Wannabe Supermom about my crazy life. Along the way, I love sharing recipes I love, great finds, and the everyday craziness of life. You can also find me on Twitter @amandablogs.

Thank you, Amanda!
Everyone, give her some comment love so she'll visit here again one day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Banish Boredom!

I had a chance to peruse a brand new e-book this week, 100+ Free and Cheap Things to do in Atlanta with Kids. I have been a mom in Atlanta since my girl was born in early 2008, but had no idea some of these activities and attractions existed! I can't wait to try a few of them - especially the indoor activities when the temperatures soar this summer.

Never been to Atlanta? Come on over and say hi! We have a lot of fun (and often free!) activities to offer. This book will help you find them.

- - - - -
Below is a guest post
By Sue Rodman from Field Trips With Sue

100+ Free and Cheap Things to do
in Atlanta with Kids

One of the best things you can do for your children is take them new places and let them experience the world around them. Summer vacation is the perfect time to explore, but heading out each day can get expensive. Here are some free and inexpensive things you can do with kids this summer. The ideas are taken from a new book called 100+ Free and Cheap Things to do in Atlanta with Kids which includes the who, what, where and when, with costs up front for easy viewing. Web links guide readers to specific information on the attraction; addresses make it easy to plug into the GPS on the go.

The book is available HERE in e-book format for the iPad, iPhone, Kindle and Nook for $4.99 and $9.99 for the printed version. You’ll pay for it with your first outing! So pack a picnic lunch and head out for a frugal afternoon of fun. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find:

Visit a Museum or Attraction – Several Atlanta area attractions including the Georgia Aquarium, Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta and The Atlanta Braves offer opportunities to visit for free. For instance, all Georgia Public Libraries have a Family Pass to Zoo Atlanta that can be checked out with a library card.

See a Movie – Southern Outdoor Cinemas host free movies at parks, and shopping centers all summer long. For indoor movies, Regal Cinemas hosts the Regal Summer Movie Express. The theater shows G and PG rated films at 10 am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and admission is only $1. Plus a portion of the proceeds benefits the Will Rogers Institute.

Get Back to Nature – For low cost and big fun, check out Georgia State Parks or any of the National Parks. There are also several nature preserves around Atlanta that offer free admission including Dauset Trail. Dauset Trail is a 1200 acre preserve with trails, creeks, wildlife and an extensive calendar of events throughout the year.

Play Sports – From watching professional sports teams to playing them on your own, the book gives you ideas on active fun including bowling. Several national bowling centers offer free bowling to students during the summer. Check out www.kidsbowlfree.com or sign up for Brunswick Zone’s Bonus Zone for emailed coupons. AMF also has a free bowling program.

Build a Craft – Learn what stores offer kids activities for a bit of indoor (and cooler) fun. For example, Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement offer monthly kid’s workshops where children make and take a wooden craft. Both programs also include a kid sized apron.

- - - - -

Want specifics? More ideas? Consider ordering the e-book or print version. What a fantastic reference to have on hand!

 Maybe I will see you out and about sometime soon.

[Not near Atlanta this year? Stay tuned for Sunday's guest post from Confessions of a Wannabe Supermom. She shares some really unique and fun summer ideas for family fun - and kids of all ages!]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Child Hunger Ends Here

On Wednesday, Amelia and I attended a great blogger's event, hosted by Jolly Mom on behalf of ConAgra.

She recapped the event so perfectly (with lovely photos!), so I'll just point you there.

Please check out her post,
to learn more.

Bonus points if you can spot me & Amelia in one of her photos!

Also visit The Little Nook if you have kids in Atlanta! What an adorable play space.

Thanks, Piera! XOXO

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

If at first you don't succeed

When I was a kid,
Daddy always said to me,
  Get up! Try again, I believe – don’t you see?

If I tripped and banged a knee,
  Stand back up and keep going

If I fell from my bike,
  Try again, no more woe-ing

When a friend turned her back,
  It’s okay, you’ll make more

When a guy broke my heart,
  Wait, keep looking, there is love in store.

If I cried, he was there,
To hold my hand, or stroke my hair.

But those moments passed,
And he would say at last,
  Try again, I know you can -
  You are able! You are strong!

  And I’m your biggest fan.

(Post inspired my Mama Kat's *pretty much world famous* Writers' Workshop. This week, I selected this prompt: Write a poem about starting over.

WW: Senior Hottie Link-Up

I was going to skip Wordless Wednesday this week.

Thanks to A Belle, A Bean, A Chicago Dog, I have to join in! Welcome to my submission for the "I Was A Senior Hottie" (um... not) link-up:

Honestly? I don't think I look drastically different these days. I have new crinkles around my eyes, some gray hairs here and there, and a few (ahem) extra pounds. But thankfully, I've learned how to tame my hair (it has "horizontal tendencies"). It is much less poofy these days... whew.

I wish I could find my photo where I'm wearing a very short dress and holding my flute. Because, you know, nothing is cooler than a senior photo with a band instrument.

Got a blog and some guts? Link up your photos through May 30th!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rainbow (continued)

I received a comment on this morning's Self Confidence post. One of the most enjoyable comments I have received in a while. A comment just too beautiful not to put front and center tonight.

A heartfelt thank you to Onesie Mommy who left the comment. Visit her blog - it is truly lovely.

Onesie Mommy said...

I don't know... maybe she is a rainbow...

Your daughter is unique... rainbows can shine even when it rains. That's pretty unique.

Your daughter is beautiful... so are rainbows.

Your daughter is smart... Rainbows can display a multitude of colours at the same time. Pretty clever if you ask me.

Your daughter is funny. I don't know how many natural events that can sport a silly little leprecaun and a pot of gold at the end of it.

I'd say your little girl IS a rainbow. She just doesn't know it yet.


- - - - - -

Exciting day! In the comments of the very same post, I was honored with a blog award!

Thanks to Samantha from Mommy To A Princess. I love the "My *Favorite* Bloggirl" Award!

Now it's my turn to pass it along:

Thanks for brightening my days with your stories, ladies!

Self Confidence

Amelia: "Mommy?"

Me: "Yes?"

Amelia: "I'm very upset."

Me: "You are? Why?"

Amelia: "I am sad because I am boring."

Me: "You mean you are bored?"

Amelia: "No, I am boring."

Me: "I don't think you are boring! Why do you say you're boring?"

Amelia: "I'm boring because I'm not a rainbow."

Me: "You want to be a rainbow?"

Amelia: "Yes. And I can't. I want to be a rainbow and I can't...
 I am very sad."

So, now I am speechless. My beautiful (non-boring) child is 3 years old. I am not ready for self-confidence issues!

"Self-esteem is your child's passport to lifetime mental health and social happiness"
-- AskDrSears.com

It is never too early to teach our children they are smart, beautiful, and the light of our lives. My kid? Is not a rainbow. She is a unique, beautiful, smart, funny girl.

If I do one thing for my sweet child, I will make sure she knows it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Just breathe...

Comfort. Warm sheets, downy blanket enveloping my tired soul.
Music. Deep, connected chords paired with lightly cheerful melody.
Light. Dim, never disturbing.
Scent. Restoring, freeing. Eucalyptus. Lavender.
Touch. Muscles, relaxing, loosening, finally resting.
Breath. Deep, full, slow.

- - -
This? Was my time.

60-minutes of massage therapy to melt my cares away.

One hour to cease my thoughts, choke my worries, chase away my stress.

One luxurious hour to simply... breathe.

(Thanks to my husband for the Mother's Day gift!)

Friday, May 20, 2011

The One Thing

Blogging has already brought so many new things and fantastic people into my life. The simple act of putting words out there made this small, connected planet even smaller. Today I am thrilled to introduce my very first guest post from the other side of the world - Australia!
- - - - - -
Jane successfully raised two children on her own, through years of serious illness. Because of this she developed great resourcefulness and creativity in her parenting.

Jane's Blog is Life @ Number 8, where she blogs holistically. She has been blogging for many years and is interested in social media, photograpy, and has recently become a Speaker on behalf of her local Heart Foundation.

Jane is also a writer, with one book at the beta-reader stage and 110,000 words written for a trilogy, She is awaiting the birth of her eighth grandchild.

The One Thing:
A Grandmother's Point Of View

There are a few things that all children need. To be loved, a place to live, warmth, care, a sense of belonging.
Beyond all this I feel there is one thing that I believe can make the world of difference in the life of a child.

And that is the ability to read.

My children began to read quite young. For us there were no struggles, it seemed one day they could not read and the next day they could. I know this is not the case for all families. I urge you to put in the effort.

Once they can read the world opens up to them.

A little bit of child-power comes into their lives.

And a little bit of freedom into yours.

We lived in a cooler climate when the children were small. Checking the weather for clothes requirements added to the early morning pressures. I solved this problem by making big wall charts.

The Clothes chart had temperatures and required clothing listed along side.

Morning. (all temperatures are in Celsius)
  •  0-7 Degrees: singlet, skivvy, fleecy shirt, jumper and jacket. Thick sox, corduroy pants and boots.
  •  8-14: Leave off the shirt
  •  15-20: Leave off the skivvy but put on the shirt. Jacket and normal sox.
  •  20 plus. Singlet, normal shirt, jumper if outside. Jacket if it’s raining.
  •  23 plus: Choose for yourself.
  •  25 plus: Summer clothes. Water bottle every day. Hat or cap
  •  27 and up. Use 15 plus every morning.

There were charts right across the kitchen walls.
Charts for the after school schedule.
A chart for Before Bed routines. E.g. No shoes to be left in the public areas of the house.
A Chart for computer time.

As we reached the teenage years, I put a sign by the phone ‘If it can’t be said in public, should it be said at all?”

One child who was often late home from school was able to read a new rule.
For every 5 minutes you are late home you will lose access to the phone for 24 hours.

The ability to read brings choices. It’s worth investing time to teach them.

It’s the one thing that will make a significant difference.

- - - - -

Please show Jane some comment love and visit her blog, 
Life @ Number 8

I am going to work on my household labels right now! Even at age three, I know Amelia will benefit from consistent exposure to words and association.

Photobucket    Photobucket

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How do I love thee?

Finally back to a Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop prompt! This week, I'm bringing things back to my reason for being:

My "mommy blog" has morphed a bit since it began 16 months ago, now incorporating several memoirs of my own, an occasional dabble in fiction, and (intentionally) infrequent product reviews. But in my heart and in real life, it is still all about Amelia.

I chose Mama Kat's prompt #5: List ten things about one of your favorite people.

- - - - - - - - - -

(1) Her voice. This girl could read the phone book and it would sound adorable. I'm sure all three-year-olds have cute voices, but this one truly melts my heart!

(2) Her hair.  I know, I complain about the craziness of her locks. But really? Her mind-of-its-own hair is a perfect complement to her personality. WILD and free!

That brings us to...
(3) Her personality. Amelia has an endearing streak of quiet shyness around strangers. And at home? She performs and dances and acts nutty. She has a kind heart and constantly takes good care of her stuffed animals.

(4) Her nose. Amelia is adorable for many reasons. Her nose is one of my very favorite parts. It is petite and perfect. Steve says it's from me, but hers is even cuter.

(5) Her creativity. She's barely three, and she can draw - people! You know, the kind with a huge head on top of legs and arms sticking out where ears should be. She adds some squiggle to the arms, and voila, it's a bird. She adds a bunch of legs all around and it's a spider. She can draw and paint and create for a solid hour (or more!) these days. My fridge is the new hot gallery in town - it is full of masterpieces!

(6) Her eyes. She had a 25% chance of having blue eyes. And blue they are! Gorgeous, ocean-blue eyes. She is soooo lucky!

(7) She is a copycat. Nothing escapes this child! She now drives her big wheel around the house complaining about traffic and sighing over red lights that are too long. She's even told an imaginary car or two to "go!". I guess we're creating an authentic Atlanta driver at an early age. (Oooops.)

(8) Her athleticism. Girls can do anything boys can do. Especially my girl! She can wallop a soccer ball, sprint really fast, and even (sometimes) hit a pink softball with her pink foam bat. She can climb, she can dance, she can jump. Just as good as any boy out there.

(9) Her princess obsession. Never in a million years did I think I'd have a girly girl (did ya read #8, above?). She is sporty and strong, but has a serious princess obsession. We watched the big Royal Wedding together. We collect Disney Princess toys, books, placemats, and cups. In her world, no movie is quite good enough without a beautiful princess heroine. And in her world, she is always the princess.

(10) She loves me. Sure, mommyhood is a lot of work and pressure. At the end of the day, when my girl says "I love you too, Mommy", I can smile wide. (Then I go pass out on my bed.)

- - - - - - - - - -

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless (almost) Wednesday: Hop

This photo hangs on my fridge with a cheerful bright green magnet. It is a photo of my dear grandma, taken last month to show off a birthday gift she personally selected for Amelia. She saw this singing, dancing bunny in a store and knew it was the perfect birthday present for her great-granddaughter.

Amelia met Great Grandma a couple times, but distance kept us physically apart most of the year. Modern technology, however, could always bring us back together. This photo was included in the package so Amelia would know exactly from whom it came.

 My grandma passed away four weeks later after a very brief illness. This was probably the last photo taken. I'm not sure how long it will stay up on my fridge... but I don't foresee it coming down anytime soon.

- - - - - -

And thanks to my iPhone, we were able to send Grandma a video of Amelia enjoying her new friend. With a real-life thank you. I'm sure it brought her joy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Should have brought the troll

Another RemembRED memoir post this week! 
- - - - - - - - - - - -

I weaved my way through the crowd, arms full of cards and ink blotters, and proudly took my place in a beat-up beige metal folding chair.

I glanced over at the experts sitting among us and spread my bingo cards just like they did. My great aunt helped to unscrew an especially tight lid on my pink ink blotter then patted my hand.

“Maybe you’ll win something tonight,” she whispered with an animated grin. She knew how much this meant to me. My sister and I had been playing with her bingo ink blotters for years, and I could barely contain my excitement to finally be invited to the big event.

I evaluated my competition. They were bingo regulars, mostly gray-haired and plump, with various good luck charms strategically placed on the table. To be honest, I thought most of it looked like junk. But as the men and women eyed their charms or gently stroked their brightly colored rabbit’s feet, I wanted to kick myself for leaving my troll doll at the house. That crazy-haired ugly creature would have made the perfect bingo good luck charm. I had no knick-knacks; how was I going to win anything?

The murmur of the crowd settled as the bingo caller approached her table and began spinning the yellow sphere full of lettered and numbered balls. The lady adjacent to us fumbled to light a cigarette. The big guy in overalls swiftly lit his cigarette. I wrinkled up my nose at Aunt Dell and she made a funny face to make me laugh. Smoking was stinky and gross.

It was time to play – I grasped my ink blotter tightly as the caller began. This was it.

“B-6”… nothing for me.

“G-51”… Yes! Splat, went my ink blotter.

I wanted to win so badly. I danced in my seat when I covered a space. I pouted when I couldn’t match a space on my board to the caller’s yell. When I got a few spaces marked in a row, I began to fantasize the big moment – how I would yell “Bingo!” to the elderly crowd and confidently prance up front to have my board checked.

But I couldn’t quite get that last number to clinch the win. I waited as the caller announced “I-25”, “O-63”…. nothing. I pulled my focus from my bingo board and surveyed the room again. Players were hunkered down, studying their boards. Many others were leaned back comfortably, snuffing out smoked cigarettes in quickly-filling ashtrays. The air in the room was stale and hazy.

My head began to hurt. I knew enough to fear my own childhood migraines, so I quickly begged my great aunt for some Tylenol which she dug out of her purse along with single tissues, old cough drops, and who knows what else. I instructed her to watch my card as the game continued, and I sprinted out to the hallway water fountain. I sloshed down my Tylenol. My head was pounding. I began to feel dizzy. I sat on the stairs and pressed my hands on the sides of my head, choking back a sob. I so desperately wanted to get back to the game. My “bingo!” moment was approaching. But the smoke was overpowering my 8-year-old lungs.

I bravely held my breath and bolted back through the hall to my seat.

“Aunt Dell,” I urged, “I feel sick!”

Despite not having any children of her own, my great aunt snapped into Mommy mode. She felt my head. She looked at my sickly green face and announced, “We’ve got to go.”

Tears rolled down my face as she passed our already-paid-for bingo cards to the people sitting around us. She hugged me tight and led me to the door, my sister following reluctantly.

Before I even got one breath of the fresh night air, I heard a voice inside exclaim.

I barely made it inside the single bathroom in my aunt’s home before the vomit came.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

This post was once again inspired by a prompt from The Red Dress Club:

This post has been lovelinked at lovelinks #7

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What I want

Lately, I feel like three years' worth of tired smacked me in the backside and kept going, leaving tread marks down my poor body, smooshed in the road.

Aches and pains keep me up at night, stripping me of any hope for a chipper, rested morning. The more tired I feel, the harder it is to be a good mommy. My patience is stretched thin and I just don't feel like getting up for the fifty-second time to fetch a another snack, put in a DVD, help fit a puzzle piece, or open the too-tight jars of Play-Doh.

I struggle through each day, searching for activities that will bring bedtime closer... sooner. I pathetically hold on to hope that my husband will come home a few minutes early, just to get disappointed again and again as his overly demanding job pulls him into one more long phone call, one more meeting downtown, one more urgent email.

Honestly, people? I'm pretty annoyed that no one told me my life as Mommy would be truly, physically painful.
Don't get me wrong; I love my daughter more than anything on this planet. I would not give her up for all the riches, or comfort, or glory in existence.

I. Am. Worn. Out.

I want to be a three-year-old for a week...

I want to make the household wake up when I say so. I want someone to efficiently fix my strawberry milk and pancakes, turn on my favorite shows, and cover my toes with a blanket that is both silky and soft. I want to wait until my cook/maid/general servant sits down for 16 seconds, then remind her that my cup is empty and I need more milk. I want to change my mind and select a DVD instead of a TV show, requiring her to get up once again to load the disc into the machine. I want to tell her when to play and what to play all day long - and all while she stays mentally on top of our schedules, my needs, my wants. I want her to anticipate my needs. I want to sit in my luxury wagon ride (with cupholders!) as she hoofs it down the road in 89-degree weather and 80% humidity just to entertain me. I want her to cook my dinner, clean my dishes, clean up my toys and books. 

Then, she can run me a warm bubbly bath, clean me, and help me into my favorite cozy jammies. She - or even the back-up servant at this point - can then hug me, read to me, and sing to me as I ease into a peaceful comfort. I want to be tucked into my big girl bed and given one extra kiss goodnight. I want to know that I am always safe. That I am always cared for. That I have no responsibility of my own.

I want to be a three-year-old. I want this for seven straight days.

Full service.

No worries.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll be refreshed enough to take over again.

- - - - -

Added note:  I wrote this Sunday night. Monday morning, my child slept until 9:04 a.m.! She has been playing independently all morning. It is noon, and I'm still wearing my PJs. Thank you child, for knowing what Mommy needed. I'll still take a week of being you but for now, this will do.

Friday, May 13, 2011

All he could eat

Today's post is inspired by The Red Dress Club prompt: gluttony.

The post is fictional (I don't have three kids!), but if you've ever been on a cruise, you know the "Bobs" do exist!

- - -
The minivan was packed. Two large and two medium-sized suitcases proudly displayed colorized tags. The three kids, ages 3, 6, and 11, chattered happily as we merged into the flow of traffic and ventured down I-95 towards the port. We could barely contain our own excitement; we cranked up some summer tunes and smiled.

This year’s cruise? Was going to be memorable. Thanks to savvy saving and a chunk of inheritance from a dearly departed loved one, we were cruising in style. No cramped, tripping-over-luggage, fighting-for-the-tiny-capsule-shower stateroom this year; we were going to enjoy paradise from a family suite. It was going to be fabulous; we would remember our luxury trip for years to come.

Fast forward a couple years. We are still talking and laughing about that vacation. It was memorable, all right; the suite was perfect, the weather was divine. We took great pleasure in awaking each morning to a new, picturesque island view.

But the most memorable? Not exactly what we expected.

Over seven days of cruising, our dinner companion earned a place in family vacation history.

We were assigned a table for eight in the main dining room, which meant our family was joined with another traveling party of three. The two ladies were nice enough; we chatted briefly at the start of each meal, comparing our adventures from the day. We did not speak much to Bob, the man occupying seat number eight. He was not one for talk - he was one for eating.

His eyes were glued to the menu the instant his large behind spread into the chair. “Gotta get my money’s worth”, he often said. (In fact, that may have been the only thing he ever said.)

Night after night, without fail, Bob selected a soup, two appetizers, an entrĂ©e, and two desserts from the ship’s featured menu. And he ate it ALL. Every drop, every morsel, every crumb found its way into Bob’s seemingly bottomless belly. My children stared in astonishment as plate after plate of food was presented, cleared, and sent away. They stifled giggles when Bob dripped soup down his shirt (often). Thankfully, they held back giggles when, at the end of each epic eating event, Bob pushed back his chair and loosened the button on his pants.

“Gotta get my money’s worth!” he chuckled, making my stomach churn.

I wish we had a photo of Bob. He was the star of our vacation. The kids insist on mimicking him at the dinner table, frequently shoving food in their faces as quickly as possible, laughing together as they remember how much he ate – and with such fervor.

They are already asking when we will go on another cruise.

I think, perhaps, I’ll insist on a private table for five.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Welcome to the neighborhood, baby geese!

Please keep the poop to a minimum.
And off the sidewalks.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Construction Zone

Summertime in the 1980s meant one thing to me: Beach Trip!

Every August, just before school was to begin again, we would pack up the big family car and roll down the interstate towards South Carolina. For several years, we stayed in the same condo. 202C was our domain. My sister and I bounced on the twin beds in our room. We played out on the balcony, heard the crash of the ocean waves, and watched as old shrimp boats floated slowly across the horizon.

Bright and early each morning, we awoke with excitement. Sleeping in was never an option; we had some serious work to do. We bounced out of bed, donned our swimsuits, and scarfed down cereal. All in about 10 minutes flat. Then we clambered down the wooden stairs in our pink jelly shoes, skipped past the pool, and sunk our toes in the fluffy sand. By the end of the day, this sand would be so hot we would need to sprint across. But in the cool of morning, we could stop to wiggle our toes. Only for a moment, though, we had work to do!

My dad took direction well. He grabbed the largest of our plastic shovels and began to dig the foundation. My sister and I sprinted to the ocean to fill our buckets. We filled them as much as we could, the plastic handles straining from the weight. Then we followed our own footprints back up the beach to the construction site.

In a matter of minutes, the castle took shape. Trenches, moats, and curved fortress walls were only the beginning. Using handfuls of wet, dripping sand, we created magical towers and turrets. We fantasized about who lived in each tower. There was always room for everyone in our castle. Mom joined in the fun as well, collecting seashells and placing them in just the right places for added beauty.

The final creation was truly magical. My young heart filled with pride as people stopped mid-stroll to admire our work. The center moat was always large enough that I could sit in the water warmed by the afternoon sun. All the passersby knew this castle was mine. I was the queen of my sandy domain.

My family's talent is still going strong even today. We revived our annual beach vacation, upgrading to Hilton Head Island and a lovely 4-bedroom condo. We gained family members. The original sand castle queens now stroll the beach with their kings. Amelia has ascended to take the title of Mermaid Sand Princess. She doesn't help much with the construction of her estate, but claps her hands and giggles as she surpervises the effort. She splashes in the trenches and exclaims when the ocean tests the limits of the outer walls.

Now it is she who smiles with joy as people admire her castle. She is our new ruler of the sand.

Inspired by another great prompt from The Red Dress Club!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fashion Show

The fashion stylings of a part-time working mama.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This is not goodbye

I am a blogger and a blog reader. I run out of hours in my day because there are so many talented, funny, genuine writers out there. One blog on my list? AllThingsFadra.com

I noticed recently that Fadra has a special Sunday feature: Stream of Consciousness Sunday. I love this idea.

    5 minutes only.
                Just write.
                     No editing afterwards.
                                 Publish and link up.

I will try my best to link up on Sunday, but this post couldn't wait. So 5 minutes... here we go.

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Mom, Amelia, Grandma, & Me

Grandma lived 99 years, and 4 months.
Anyone who knew her was blessed to have her in their life.

This morning, we began the process of saying goodbye. We feel sad that we lost such an amazing presence on earth, but we rejoice that she is at peace. She is finally back with her dear husband and living in paradise.

Grandmas are awesome. Who else but a grandma can have toys readily available at every visit? Who else but a grandma can cook an amazing homemade dinner to make all our bellies happy? Who else but a grandma can spoil a kid rotten and everyone, even the parents, love every minute of it?

I'm glad Amelia met my grandma. They only met a couple times, but Grandma followed nearly every day of Amelia's life via photos and videos. Her eyes lit up when she glanced at Amelia's school photo. She sat quietly, grinning, when she watched Amelia play. She marveled at the plate of food a not-yet-three-year-old Amelia devoured at Thanksgiving. Amelia enriched the final few years of Grandma's life, just as she made my entire life special.

Summertime visits are still alive in my mind. Fresh baked cookies awaiting our arrival. Gut-busting country breakfasts complete with bacon and  sausage. A chair in the living room where I would spend time rocking and spinning. Walks to the nearby farmer's market for some fresh apples and a sample of cherry pie.

Thanks, Grandma, for all of that. We are happy because we know you ware watching us from Heaven, hand in hand with the husband you have missed so much.

And thank you Mom, for being an incredible grandma to Amelia. She is going to remember her lifetime of memories with you. This is your first round as a grandma, and you already have the job nailed.

I am lucky.
Amelia is lucky.
Our family is so blessed.

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Try SOC Sunday for yourself!
Visit AllThingsFadra.com for the simple rules, then link up on Sunday!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fourteen Years

Fourteen years.

Fourteen years since we first said hello. Since we selected our rooms and claimed our corner of the kitchen for various dinnerware. Fourteen years ago, we took our initial steps towards friendship in that institutionally-furnished college apartment.

This past weekend, we had a reunion. Some of us had seen each other within the past few years. For others, at least eight or nine years had passed. We have different last names now. We all answer to "Mommy". But despite the years of life in between, it felt like old times.

Amazingly, our children were all born within months of each other (two actually on the same day). Watching these four play together was truly heartwarming. I am at a loss for words!

As we watched the late afternoon three-year-old antics, one of my dear friends sighed and said,"I just want to freeze time".

My sentiments exactly. If I had a giant pause button, we would still be in that day. The warm sun, cool shade, fantastic food, and child giggles could not have been more perfect.

Mommyhood brings surprises and smiles at every turn.

The only thing better?
Sharing it with dear friends.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rainy Day Fashion (and GIVEAWAY!)

Some things never fail. You get your car sparkling clean, and it rains. You forget your umbrella at home, and the clouds appear out of nowhere. Then... it rains.

You get an adorable new rain jacket for your daughter? No daytime rain in weeks! (Plenty of night rain. And hail. And tornadoes, oh my.)

Amelia is thrilled with her brand new Hatley kids rain jacket from HearthSong. At the first sign of a sunny day sprinkle, we're going out to play!

I am in love with this jacket - such incredible quality. The outer shell is rain-proof, yet soft and pliable. The cotton/ poly lining is cozy and warm. I selected the next size up; now she can wear this jacket for a long time! It is light enough for spring rains, but the liner provides the perfect amount of insulation for our southern winters.

Have you shopped HearthSong in a while?
(Keep reading for a $50 giveaway!)

In addition to this super cute jacket (see boys Hatley jackets and matching umbrellas also!), HearthSong offers unique and creative gifts, quality wooden toys, arts and crafts, and fun cooking activities. These are not your average plastic toys.

I recently won this wooden play kitchen from blog Our Kids Mom. It is the perfect size for our house and came with adorable accessories like an oven mitt, wooden pots, pans, and spoons.
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Do you want this quaint mini kitchen for a favorite kid in your life?

Or perhaps one of the best quality rain jackets out there?

Maybe some Connectagon sets?  Art supplies?

*** Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered! ***

  • Mandatory - visit http://www.hearthsong.com/ and tell me (besides the kitchen and/or jacket) something a child in your life would love to receive. Don't forget to leave your email address and/or Twitter handle so I can contact you if you win.
Once you have left the mandatory comment above, you can add more entries. Please leave a separate comment for each additional entry. 
  • Mention this giveaway in a blog post or on your blog's giveaway linky
  • Follow @BalancingMama on Twitter
  • Follow @HearthSongToys on Twitter
  • "Like" 3 Moms In 1 on Facebook
  • Tweet about this giveaway - include @BalancingMama and a link to this post. Or, simply copy and tweet the following:

    Check it out! $50 giftcard #giveaway from @BalancingMama and @HearthSongToys http://bit.ly/jAfSxd 
Giveaway rules: Entries accepted through 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, 5/19. Winner must have a U.S. mailing address. Gift card will be mailed to the winner directly from HearthSong. If I do not receive a response from the selected winner within 72 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

Some fine print:  I received the Hatley kid's rain jacket free of charge from HearthSong. All opinions in this review are solely mine.

    3MomsIn1.com partner:

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