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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Late Merry Christmas Post!

It seems like this entire year has found me constantly running behind, in almost every aspect of my life.  It has been a chaotic, unpredictable, rough and tumble year for Boymom and my family!  So it seems fitting that I should end the year like I started, frantically trying to pull together a Holiday blog post before the year ends and I miss the opportunity to thank my friends, family and my wonderful readers for sticking with me and coming back here from time to time to read my...stuff.

So...how was your Christmas?  Ours, although hectic, ended up being a pretty good Christmas.  This year we really tried to focus more on the spiritual aspects of the holiday and less on the gift giving (lack of money was how that idea started, we decided to run with it!).  The gifts we did give were a lot more practical than in years past and thanks to the generosity of friends, family and a Secret Santa, the boys got more than they (or we) expected.  By the end of Christmas Day, I was feeling pretty grateful and extremely blessed.


I think this year, more so than any in the recent past, I truly felt the Spirit of Christmas in my own heart.  Maybe because I quit focusing on what we didn't have and what wasn't working and started focusing on what I could give back.  It was a joy and a pleasure to watch my boys get excited about our own Secret Santa project, which didn't amount to a whole lot of money, but definitely showed my boys that there are people in the world who are so much worse off than we are.  Little Man almost broke into tears when he realized that there are people who literally have nothing other than the clothes on their backs.  Listening to him pray that night for the well-being of a stranger we met who was living under a tree in a park is a Christmas experience his dad and I will cherish the rest of our lives.

I'm glad we took the time to help my boys understand that it's not about the gifts.  It's about being a good human being during a season when we celebrate the birth of one of the greatest beings ever to walk the earth.

(Ignore the tighty whities and focus on the Nativity, please.  The nativity set, people!!!

Merry Christmas, my dear bloggy friends.  Thank you for your wonderful examples, your kind and caring words, your generosity of spirit and good will.  You have made a difference in this Boymom's life.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Roman Town Review


Mommy Parties sent me a box a few weeks ago, with some knit caps, water bottles and a computer game called Roman Town.  It came just in time for Little Man's birthday, which was great for him, because he has always wanted to be an archaeologist or a paleontologist.  Bottom line:  He likes to explore and dig.  How much does he like to dig?  Exhibit #1: 


Remember the fort?  It's getting bigger every day!  Look at how he and Big Bro dug holes into the side to put important pieces of equipment. 

Back to Roman Town.  We had a computer game party last week to show off our new game and the kids really liked it. (Pics coming soon, having problems downloading them!) I wish I could have had the game going on more than one computer, because all the kids were hovered around it trying to take a turn. 

So what is Roman Town?  It's an educational game that lets kids explore ancient ruins as an archaeologist would.  The game starts with a professor giving you information and instructions, so the kids have some guidance as to what to do next until they get the hang of things.  They get to place diggers in various spots to try to unearth Roman Ruins.   They can choose the tools the diggers use and as an artifact is unearthe,d then they have to use a different tool to gently brush the dirt away to expose what they found.  Once all the pieces to an artifact are found, the kids categorize them and then they can do things like put the pieces together to see what exactly what they found.  

There are tests throughout the game that ask the kids questions about ancient Rome to see if they are paying attention to the facts that are being taught during their exploration.  Little Man and I both found it very interesting and it held the interest of about 3/4 of the kids that were here for the party.  I think had we had more computers the other few may have stuck around a few minutes longer. 

I really think this would be a fantastic game for teachers to use in class! Little Man hasn't finished the game yet, so he is excited to have some time over Christmas break to delve into it even more.  He is definitely a little "treasure hunter" and this game has sparked his interest in ancient civilizations all over again.

After our computer time we had some snacks (Mummy Juice and King Tut's Fingers - Drinks colored green and pigs in a blanket) and had our own treasure hunt out in the desert, where the kids looked for their own buried treasure.  They received water bottles and knit caps as party favors, courtesy of Dig It, so they looked like quite an expedition heading out into the desert!  They came home with a broken scooter, some kind of jawbone from something or other and a snake skin that some snake had recently shed.  Nice.  I was kind of hoping for some pottery or an arrowhead, but I didn't want to be a buzz kill so I thanked them for their lovely artifacts and sent them on their way.  It was a good day and we all learned a lot about Rome!  Thanks Mommy Parties and Dig It for a chance to try out Roman Town

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Little Man Needs a New Nickname

Little Man had a birthday this week and I every time I look at him I am reminded that his "little boy" stage is rapidly coming to a halt. 

Until he does something like this: 

video


Then I wonder if he'll ever grow up. 

Somedays I really need him to grow up because things like fighting with him over taking a shower when he smells like a wet dog just gets old.  Other days, when he looks like this: 


I wish he could stay my Little Man forever.  Then he wakes up.

Truth be told, Little Man really is an amazing creature.  He is the quintessential little boy.  He loves dirt and creatures and rocks and animals and wierd looking, stinky things and nature.  He is kind to his friends, he loves his family and he has a wicked sense of humor.  He is the kind of kid who challenges his mama with his boyish nature, and sometimes he makes me so mad I could spit.  Then the second he realizes he's crossed a line or hurt my feelings or trashed my dryer with his "rock tumbling" experiment, he will hug my neck so hard that I feel his little heart through his chest.  His remorse is so real and so heartfelt that I can't stay mad.  Because that heart is so pure and innocent and loving that to stay mad at him for being who he is?  Would ruin who he is.  So who is he?  He is an amazing gift from a loving Heavenly Father who knew that I would need someone in my life who can love me wholeheartedly, without condition, regardless of my weight, my haircut or my lack of patience with curious, active little boys. 

He is my Little Man...at least for a few more years.   

       

Friday, December 3, 2010

MixBook Photobook Winner!

video

What the heck was going on with my eyes while I was making this video?!?!!!  This is why I don't do stuff like this more often.  Major Vlog FAIL!!! 

But oh yeah...Congrats to Melanie for winning the MixBook Giveaway!!  Have fun putting your photobook together, Melanie!! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Episencial Skin Care Products Review

A few weeks ago, I received some really great skin care products from Episencial and Mommy Parties to try out.  They arrived at the perfect time, because here in the desert, as the air gets colder, it also gets even drier than in the hot summer months, if you can believe that!  My boys both look like they have alligator skin right now, but I have to be really careful about what I use on Little Man because his skin is super sensitive. 

Episencial makes several all natural skin care products specially formulated for babies and kids (but adults can use them too!).  Free from the bad stuff like parabens, phthalates and fragrances, Episencial products are loaded with all-natural goodness and healthy organics.  All of the formulas are safe for newborns and actually contain an exclusive "skin immune complex" to help the boost the skin's immune functions. 

I got together with some friends and we tested some of the lotions on some of the toddlers in the group:



We used the Better Body Butter and everybody really loved the feel and smell of it, it wasn't oily at all.

Melisa was happy to get the Nurturing Balm for her 3 month old baby girl to help keep the diaper rash under control and the "Kristys"( two of my neighbors are good friends who live next to each other...both named Kristy!) were both excited about the Playful Foaming Wash.


My camera had a meltdown, so couldn't take any more pics, but all of the guests received gift bags full of samples so they can try out several Episencial products.  I came home after the party and used the Soothing Cream on Little Man who always struggles with a bit of eczema behind his knees and on his arms.  He usually hates using lotion on those spots, because it either burns or feels greasy and iscky to him.  To his and my delight, he felt no burning or irritation and he said the itching started to go away pretty quickly.  Yay!  Something that actually works for him!   

It was a fun to get together and I want to thank Episencial and Mommy Parties for letting us try out their new line of all natural, organic skin care products for little ones.  We love what we have tried so far!  

**Disclosure - I was not compensated for this product review.  Episencial and Mommy Parties provided me with skin care products to help facilitate this review. **  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Like Mother, Like Son...

Remember the Toe post?  I do.  Because it was my toe.  You should take a minute to read it.  It is absolutely hilarious.  Despite the fact that it happened to me.

Why do I bring this up?  Because my little guy recently suffered a like injury.


Only unlike his numbskull father, I did not run boiling hot lava water over his toe in an attempt to cauterize the wound.  I calmly cut away the torn skin and remnants of his toenail while he flailed and screamed and acted as if I were amputating his entire leg.  All this from my normally tough guy who takes injuries with a grain of salt and moves on to the next challenge.  Seriously?  You would have thought I was using a rusty saw to remove his last limb the way he went on and on and on.  I have no doubt it hurt, but the reaction was waaaaay over the top, even for a drama prone kid, which Little Man is NOT!

When I finally asked him what all the drama was for?  He stopped crying for a moment, looked at me with his huge brown, tear-filled eyes and said..."I was afraid you wouldn't be here and I didn't know who would take care of my toe."  Ouch.  I know!  Dagger through the heart moment, right?

What I can't figure out is why he thought I wouldn't be here for him.  I was home when he left to go outside to play, did he think I would get in the car and leave while he was gone?  Does he not know that I spend every waking hour worrying and thinking about him and praying for his well-being and happiness?  Does he not realize that the worst nightmares I have involve me not being able to get to my children to help them when they are in the most desperate of circumstances?   How could he think I would just go away? 

I guess he had an irrational moment.  Just like his mama does when, on occasion, out of the blue I imagine something horrific happening to my family.  Have you ever had that happen?  I hate that!     

Now, there might come a day when he hopes I'm not home when he walks in the door.  And if he hopes that because he is being accompanied by the police for some idiotic prank he pulled,  then I would say for his sake he'd better hope pretty dang hard that his father answers the door.  But until that day comes, I hope he knows that there is nothing that would get in the way of making sure I am here for my boys whenever they need me.  Why?  I Am Boymom.  It's what I do.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

LikeWear "Military Chic" a Big Hit with Big Brother

I wrote about LikeWear maybe a year ago?  When I was first asked to review some of their clothing, I wasn't sure what my kids would think.  Turns out, the t-shirts I got from LikeWear are some of the boys favorite items of clothing. 

LikeWear has some new designs in their "Military Chic" line and we were excited to check them out as Big Brother is a major military fan, so this new line is right up his alley and trendy to boot.

He loves his new shirt!  He wears it almost every day, so I have to take full advantage of his sleep time to wash it.  So far it's holding up well.

Things I like about LikeWear:
  • Well-made clothing - the t-shirts are not made of thin, flimsy material and they are put together well.  
  • Trendy, unique, kid-friendly designs. 
  • Business opportunities for stay-at-home moms. (See LikeWear website for more details!)
They have lots of cute girl clothes too!  Stop by the site and check out some of their fun designs and find out more about how you can earn a few bucks working with LikeWear.  "Mom designed - kid approved!" (that's my slogan for LikeWear, not their slogan.  But they can have it if they want it!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mixbook Review and Giveaway

Are you one of those photo people who constanly has a camera with them, taking pics of everything and everybody (not so hard now that cell phones all have cameras on them!)?  Then do you take those pics and do amazing things with them like scrapbook or make video montages?  You are?  Then I so hate you right now.  Kidding!  I kid.  I'm actually super jealous of your organizational skills and creativity, both of which seem to be just out of my reach since having kids.

If you are one of those people who loves to document life events with photos and scrapbooks and such, then you need to check out Mixbook.  Mixbooks are photobooks that are 100% customizable in that you can choose to start with blank pages or use a template that can be edited to your liking.  Mixbook even has "stickers" that allow you to personalize your pages, giving it more of a scrapbook feel and look.  


Here are the things I like about Mixbook:

  • You can choose a "theme" to help you get a certain look, and Mixbook will create a template for your book, so all you have to do is drop in the photos and maybe add a few embellishments. This a great time management tool for someone like me who tends to get stuck when I have too many choices.
  • Mixbook also lets you choose and change backgrounds from all of their themes to use on individual pages.  So if you don't like the background that the template gave you on one page, you can create something totally different by pulling individual components from other themes.  If you like a sticker from a Wedding theme, you can add that to your stockpile of stickers.  If you want a background from a holiday theme, you just add it to the background choices that came with your theme.
  • You don't have to choose a theme at all!  You can go completely custom and use your imagination to create some amazing and unique designs by pulling different backgrounds and design elements from all of the choices Mixbook has to offer.  Personally, I need help getting started, as the ideas and flow of creativity seem to be stifled lately.  But I have friends who are amazingly talented scrapbookers who would love Love LOVE this feature!
  • You can access your Photobucket, Facebook and Picaso accounts right from Mixbook to pull photos from those sites, as well as from your computer. 
  • You can invite other people to contribute to your book!  Say you and your siblings are spread out across the country and want to do an "anniversary book" or a "memory book" for Mom and Dad.  Instead of just emailing photos and putting one person in charge of designing and putting the photo book together, each family can log into Mixbooks and do their own page, with their own unique design!  The end result is a book that everybody helped create and it's totally personalized.  And nobody had to travel across 6 states or spend tons of money and time scanning and mailing photos.  The whole family can participate from their own homes!  (Okay, does anyone here have the brother or uncle who always trys to throw in an unflattering photo and then when you bring it up they go find an even MORE unflattering photo?  Because I could totally see that being an issue in some households.) 
  • Mixbook has lots of help and tutorials available if you get stuck.  They also let users post their projects for others to view, which is a great resource to help you get ideas for your own book.  There is even  a live chat feature on the site so someone can walk you through whatever issue you might have while you work on your book.   
As an honest reviewer, I do have to say, I was a little disappointed that Mixbook doesn't have more "boy" type themes or stickers.  I mean, I Am Boymom, right?  So most of my pics are about boys.  They have a few sports themes and one for boy babies, but nothing really for boys my age.  Having said that, I'm not sure I have a lot of input regarding how they can fix that issue, other than adding more "boy" oriented stickers, like maybe army guys, legos, bottle caps, pebbles and rocks, skateboards, bikes, cool flame type things, little crawly creatures - you know...boy stuff.  That is really the only downside I have found about Mixbook.  

So basically, Mixbook is like Shutterfly on steroids. So many more choices and options and after some research, I found the prices are lower at Mixbook as well.  And right now?  You can save even more money at Mixbook!  I Am Boymom readers can get an extra 20% off with this code:  BOYMIX20  

Okay, I'll tell you! I wanted to wait until my Mixbook was done to tell you about it.  But it is taking me waaaaay longer than I had planned to finish it because of the custom options that are allowing me to create the "exact" look I want and because I am still sorting through some old photos to put in the book.  But I want to get the giveaway underway so the winner can use their book as a gift if they want to.  So...

Wanna Win a Mixbook Photobook?  The good people at Mixbook are giving away a 20 page, 11x8.5 hardcover landscape photo books with free US ground shipping to one of my readers!  The winner will have until January 31st to redeem the prize code, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.  The contest will end on November 30th, 12 Midnight MST.  US residents only.  You can gain extra entries by
  • Following my blog (if you already follow, just leave a comment saying so)
  • Posting the giveaway on Facebook
  • blogging about the giveaway
  • Tweeting the giveaway on Twitter
Be sure to leave a separate comment for each extra entry so I can count each one. 

**Disclosure - I did not receive monetary compensation for this post.  Mixbook gave me a Mixbook photobook to help facilitiate this review.**

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Wish List Meme

Times are tough for a lot of people right now, right?  We don't have a lot of money any money for gifts this year, so in the spirit of hope and believing in the power of positive thinking, I am entering lots and lots of contests to help supplement the lame homemade gifts I will be giving.  I like this contest, because along with gaining me entry to win, I can share a little bit about myself with my friends and readers. 

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

Todays Mama (http://bit.ly/tmwishlist) and GameStop (http://bit.ly/gamestop10) are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family?  To find our path.  We have been struggling for 13 years now to figure out how to become the family we want to be.  We want a healthy family dynamic, a home filled with love and acceptance and the skillset to deal with and overcome adversity without losing our minds and our bearings in life.   And we want to find where we belong.  We want to find the place where we all feel like we're finally home.   

2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?  Sadly, we haven't really established anything really great.  We all just kind of get up and watch the kids open gifts then I get breakfast.  Maybe I'll put on some Christmas music.  We didn't grow up with traditions, so we are still struggling to find one that means something to us.  Maybe that will be my goal this year is to really hone in on a Christmas morning tradition that will have some meaning for our family.  

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?  To have the money to attend a really great blog conference!  I love social media and I have so many ideas that I need help to flesh out and a blog conference would be the perfect place for me to network with the experts and get their input and advice.  Plus I would finally get to meet some of my great blog friends!  A vacation and a learning experience, all rolled into one awesome package!

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money? We try to focus on the real reasons we celebrate the holidays.  On Thanksgiving, we talk a lot about the blessings we've received throughout the year and we take time to thank our Heavenly Father for his love and support.  Throughout the Christmas season we talk a lot about our belief in Christ and really focus on loving and serving others as much as we can to create a spirit of warmth and love.  We try to give gifts that have meaning, rather than gifts that cost a lot of money, like photo albums, handmade cards, homemade treats, etc. 

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?  Ummm...we didn't play games.  We didn't really play as a family at all.  We didn't really have that kind of family dynamic.  My sister and I lived in many different homes with different family members, so there wasn't a lot of game playing, mostly just trying to adjust and survive.  To be fair, when we did live with my mom, she worked 7 days a week, so there wasn't really a lot of time for "playing" or doing stuff with the kids.  But enough of the whining!  I'm trying to leave those issues behind!  I do remember a few times, back when Atari Pong came out, sitting with my step-dad and playing Pong with him for $25 a game.  I KNOW!!  He played for some serious cash!!  Now that I think about it, he had to purposely lose the first game because neither of us kids had $25 to start with!  Wonder why that never occurred to me then?  Ahhh...good times.

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood? Like I said, we never really had holiday traditions growing up.  I guess no matter where we lived or who we lived with it seems like we always made sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles.  And I can always remember being able to watch the Christmas specials and It's a Wonderful Life.  I do make sure my kids make cookies and we watch some of the classic specials and Christmas movies every year, so I guess we do have a tradition!  Yay!!!!  We're making progress! 

7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip? I would love to go to Switzerland and see the Alps and eat lots of hot, melted cheese dishes while I watch the snow fall and listen to milking maids yodel about hot chocolate. Seriously though, Switzerland sounds like a wonderfully, picturesque place to spend at least one Christmas, with it's pretty little villages nestled among huge snow covered mountains.     

8. Check out GameStop (http://bit.ly/gamestop10) and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? 
1) A Nintendo Red DSi Bundle for Little Man, his Gameboy is antiquated and hard to find games for.
2) An Xbox 360 w/Kinect for The Man and Big Brother, because apparently PS2 is no longer relevant in the gaming world.
3) A Wii Fit Plus w/ Balance Board or EA Sports Fitness Bundle for me so I can get my fat butt moving in 2011 to something fun and finally get in shape!

Well, that's my meme.  It actually made me a little depressed.  My goal right now is to be extremely positive, so I really need to work hard this year to create a different experience for myself and my family!  No more mourning the past!  Now you know a little bit more about me, I would love to hear about some of your family traditions and Christmas wishes!!  Maybe I can borrow from some of you to start creating better memories for my kids.  Here's to a happy, memorable Holiday Season!! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hilarious Radio Call

Something for you to giggle about...have a good Sunday!

Texas Man Witnesses a Car Accident

(When you get to the site, click the PLAY button in the box that says Roger Rick and Marilyn Morning Show Bits)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Not All Bubbles Are Fun

Conversation that took place in the back seat on the way to school today:

Little Man:  Look!  I can blow bubbles with my spit!  Can you?

Big Bro:  Yeah.  Mine are bigger.  Watch this one.   

Little Man:  What if we could blow bubbles with out butts!? 

(Hysterical laughter, snorts and guffaws)

Big Bro:  Then Dad's Butt Bubbles would be HUGE!!

(More hysterical laughter)

I did not participate in this conversation.  But had I chosen to make a remark, it would have been something to this affect:  

"Yes, Dad's Butt Bubbles would be huge!  They would also contain an incredibly noxious, nuclear-like  odor that could lay waste to an entire third world country in about 5 seconds flat.  I know, because I sleep in the same bed as the man.  And apparently, night time is the best time to practice butt bubble blowing, because I notice that's when he does his best work."
     

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Stress of Transistions

Transitioning is always stressful.  We have lots of decisions to make in our house, but no information to make them with.  So here we sit, in limbo, waiting to know if we have the job or not before committing to Plan B, which is not all that strong at the moment either.   I've had a lot of time to stress over not being able to control the situation, which has led to me getting very sick this week.  Lots of stress = weakened immune system = me getting hit with a chest cold and flu-like symptoms that knocked me on my butt.  Lots of crying and general malaise. 

Today, I forced myself to get up and get the kids to church because Little Man had to read the monthly scripture today in Primary.  It required putting forth effort that I really didn't want to put forth when I feel like hammered poo.  But I did it for my kid, because that's what moms do, right?  My son was magnificent, he read his very long scripture perfectly and he even understood what it meant.  Was it worth the effort?  Of course.  And in return for my willingness to sacrifice my comfort for my son's church participation, I was blessed too. 

No, my lungs did not magically open up and expel the foul virus that is making me ill, nor did a bag of money or a job offer drop from the sky.  But my eyes did manage to open up and take notice of the beautiful cornflower blue sky laced with wispy white clouds.  And my poor, dried out skin took delight in the wonderfully cool breeze that brushed over my arms and gently swept over my face as it hurried toward the trees to tickle their branches and leaves.  My nose breathed it in deeply and despite a few hacks and coughs, the crisp, clean air filled my lungs and I felt renewed and refreshed for a few moments.  My mind instantly recognized the signs of fall and my soul truly jumped for joy at the realization that the brutal heat of summer is finally gone.  We have officially survived another hellish Arizona summer!  And just like that, I had one less thing to stress about.  Deep breath (cough, hack, cough) and sigh.  My shoulders just relaxed a little. 

As I write this, I am sitting by the open window, not hearing the constant drone of the air conditioning unit. Instead, I hear my boys laugh, play, giggle and yell while they take in all the neighborhood has to offer a couple of active boys who have been cooped up for 3 months by the intense summer sun.  The cooler weather has lifted their spirits too.  They frolic and kick like spirited colts running through fields of perfect, green alfalfa, but instead of whinnies and neighs, I hear laser and machine gun sound effects and instead of alfalfa, the frolicking takes place in the dirt fort next to our house.  No matter...as long as they are happy.  I love that I can hear them so clearly - their plots, their dreams, their gross boy humor.  I remember having a few great play days like this when I was kid.  You know them...those days when everything and everyone from the neighborhood comes together in perfect harmony to create the ultimate perfect day; great weather, good friends, awesome snacks, no arguing, no hurt feelings, no bike wrecks...just pure, unadulterated fun that you never want to end.  Suddenly I am aware that my chest feels a little less tight and I realize that I have pretty good, generally happy, well-adjusted kids.  And with that realization comes one more release...Now I have two less thing to stress about.  Is there nothing more healing to a sick mom's heart and mind than the laughter of her happy kids? 

So I thought I'd take a minute to make sure I got this day down in writing.  The day that I remembered what fall feels like in the desert.  The day I remembered a few good days from my childood.  The day I remembered to enjoy my kids.  The day I remembered that hard times (or excessive heat) don't last forever.  The day that I was reminded that there are so many good things in the world to think about and enjoy as we struggle through our trials and tribulations.   It's been a good day to just sit and remember.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Transitions - Part 1

Along with other life transitions, I am working on a new look for the blog.  It might get kind of crazy around here 'til I figure out which direction I want to take it, so try to hang on while I get it figured out! 

As far as life outside of my blog?

It seems like my life has been in transition for a long, long time now.  I keep trying to evolve to fit my current set of circumstances, but none of the changes I make seem to take hold on a permanent basis.  As I write this, I realize that just being human makes life transitory by nature.  We are always learning and growing and adapting.  But right now?  I'd like to just chill until I can see a clear path. 

This really all relates to stability.  Emotional stability, financial stability, domestic stability...it seems like when I get one of those elements lined out, another one spins out of control.  Some of my instability is due to choices I have made in my life, and some of it has had to do with circumstances and choices that others made on my behalf.  I get that I can't go back and change that.  Finally, I get that.  At this moment I want to create a more stable life going forward, not just for me, but for my kids!  Stability is all I want right now.

So...here I sit, on the precipice of several HUGE life choices.  All of them will directly affect my life and the lives of my children, especially when it comes to our ability to feel safe and comfortable.  For me, it's really hard when financial instability becomes the driving force behind our decision making process because then the process feels frenzied and chaotic and desperate.  It's hard to stay calm when you're backed up against the wall.  Having said that, had we had a Plan B on file in the first place, we probably would have made better choices at the beginning of this trial and could have avoided some of the last minute misery and debate we are dealing with now.  Hindsight, right? 

Now we are facing the inevitable...Do we move to another state and try to start over in a new environment or do we stay put and try to slug it out in a place where both of us have spent what seems like an eternity trying to carve out a niche for ourselves?  My vote?  Stay here.  Which is weird, because we've always talked about the day we can finally move out of Arizona!  But now that I face that possibility, I'm not ready to go.  I'm still trying to decide if my lack of enthusiasm has more to do with the location my husband is leaning toward or having to pack the house up all over again.  Either way, I'm not ready to deal with this change.  I know the demons I face here!  I know the economy (or lack therof), the streets, the politics, the weather, the people...all of the things which I gripe about on a daily basis!   Isn't it ironic how familiarity can sometimes ease the lack of stability of our lives, but that same familiarity also leads us to feel contempt and boredom for our same old surroundings?  We are weird, complex creatures sometimes, that is certain.

All of this comes down to what?  Me being too afraid and tired to try something new.  Before I had kids I probably would have jumped at the chance to see another part of the country.  Now I just want to get where we need to be and stay there.  I want to put down roots and become part of the community and live my life there and know that at last, I am home and I never have to leave.  If I thought for one second that the place my husband wants to move was that place?  I'd be all over it.  But I don't feel that way about his choice.  In fact I work hard everyday to try to imagine life there and I can't. 

So why is it even a consideration?  If I'm not gonna be happy there, why would we even consider it?  Because Big Man has a brother there whom he adores and who brings out all the good and wonderful qualities in the man I married.  Their love for each other is deep and strong and without judgement.  My husband doesn't have kind of relationship with most of his other siblings.  Big Man feels like maybe with his brother's help and support, he can get back on his feet and create a new career path.   More importantly, he feels like he will finally be away from the many people he has grown up with here who seem to always see him as a failure.  His road here has been a tough one, not filled with very many positive experiences.  

So maybe a change is warranted.  Sometimes all one needs to shake old habits and demons is a change of scenery.  Some place to start over again, with a new outlook and new perspective.  Some place where you get to be who you really are, where no one has preconcieved ideas about you based on who you used to be. 

I just wish that place wasn't Florida. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We Are FAM-I-LY

Grandpa hates pictures.  Like really, really hates them.  He hates pictures like the rest of the family hates the work jumpsuits he wears everyday, regardless of the occasion.  Which is why I took this quick snapshot of him and Big Man a few months ago.  Because I knew it would be one of the few that I get of him during his time here on earth.  And I want my grandkids to know who their great grandpa was...jumpsuits and all. 

I realized the other day that my kids have no idea who their ancestors are.  There aren't a lot of stories about the men and women who came before them being told around the campfire or the kitchen table. 

I remember some of my family's history being told to me when I was doing a report for school in Junior High, and I've read little bits and pieces about some of them here and there, but other than that, it wasn't until just recently that I made some really amazing discoveries about my lineage.  And I know this sounds stupid, but knowing where I came from has helped me deal with some of my most deepset issues. 

I am finally starting to feel there is more to who I am than my issues and my feelings and my past.  Does that make sense?  I belong to something bigger than my little semi-dysfunctional unit. For some reason, learning more about my forefathers has helped me see things from a different perspective.  Maybe it was just the fact that my world got a little larger when I began to own my heritage.   

Anyway...the more I learn about some of these people who started the gene pool to which I belong, the more grateful I am for amazingly strong ancestors who were willing to make some pretty tough choices and some big sacrifices for future generations.  So it occurred to me that my boys need to know about these amazing people too.  They need to know that their world started long before they were ever born and that there were folks who paved the way for them.  They need to know their people. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hexbug Winners!

Okay, let's announce the Hexbug Winners!! I gave Hope 2 entries, 1 for her comment and one for the facebook post, Danielle had 3 entries, for a total of 5 entries.
  1. Miss Hope
  2. Miss Hope
  3. Danielle
  4. Danielle
  5. Danielle
So here's the draw:







Looks like Danielle is the winner!!  Woot!!  Congrats Danielle!  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Movie Review: "Life As We Know It"

Lucky me, I actually got to go on a date with my husband last night, thanks to Mom Central!  We were invited to see a pre-screening of Life As We Know It starring Kathryn Heigl and Josh Duhamel.  I had seen a few commercials for the movie and it looked really entertaining, but you never know until you actually get there if the movie lives up to the hype. 

Well, I'm here to tell you, the movie is really, really funny and touching at the same time.  The basic premise of the movie is this:

"After a disastrous first date, the only thing Holly, an up and coming caterer, and Eric, a network sports director, have in common is their dislike for each other and their love for their goddaughter Sophie. But when they suddenly become all Sophie has in the world, Holly and Eric are forced to put their differences aside and juggle career ambitions and competing social calendars to find some common ground while living under one roof."

First of all, I had to laugh at the whole Holly/Eric relationship, because we all have single friends like those two characters...the ones who irritate each other so badly, but would really be a great couple!?  The casting for those two parts was so dead on! Kathryn Heigl and Josh Duhamel made such a cute couple and they played off each other really well!! 

So Holly (Kathryn Heigl) and Eric (Josh Duhamel) get thrown into the whole parenting thing with no warning and have to figure out how to deal with each other and a child, as well as the loss of their best friends.  As life issues go, definitely not how I would want to start my child-rearing gig.  But as a parent, there was so much about this movie that I could relate to.  The thought of a child losing her parents immediately triggered my nurturing side and I was totally moved to tears watching that whole issue unfold.  Then as the main characters took on the parenting roles, I remembered how I felt so overwhelmed when I had my first child, even with 9 months to get used to the idea!  So it was really easy to be sympathetic and even laugh when these two single people, who had parenthood thrust upon them, struggled with basics like changing diapers (Josh's character gagging and running out of the room) and trying to calm an inconsolable baby at 2 a.m. Kathryn and Josh made the struggle seem believable, not campy or trite. 

Then...there was the whole "neighborhood support" issue, which had me in stitches, because again...I could relate to the whole dynamic!   The lady who brings casseroles, the endless unsolicited parenting tips, the married couple with 9 kids who always looks tired and wrung out...it's true to life and it made me reflect on my own neighbors with both affection and irritation.  There were seriously some very funny scenes involving the neighbors.  Gotta love 'em!

I won't give anymore of the movie away, but I will say, I was a little concerned at first that there wouldn't be enough meat to carry the plot and that it would just be a bunch of poopy diaper and spit-up jokes, both of which were part of the script, but there was a lot more going on in the story. 

Life As We Know It really is a light-hearted, somewhat realistic snapshot of what people face everyday as they decide to merge lives and raise a child.  Careers, income, even which TV shows to watch...everything changes when you bring a baby into the picture!  It was refreshing to watch Kathryn Heigl and Josh Duhamel play out everyday situations that most of us face with great comedic timing and with the emotion that we all feel when it comes to choosing a partner and raising a family.  And yes, I get that this is a movie and movies generally tend to have happy endings, but sometimes life has happy endings too.  This movie gave me some perspective and helped me laugh at my parenting challenges and made me want to try harder for my own happy ending. 

Life As We Know It opens October 8th.  Go see it!  It's totally worth the admission price!

**Disclosure: “I attended a complimentary screening of this movie to facilitate my review and received a gift card from Mom Central as a thank you for my time.”**

Friday, September 24, 2010

When Scouts RePurpose

Does anyone remember this?




Back in the day it was used to make these:



Which are no longer considered potholders.  Apparently they are now being used as:


Ear Warmers for Cub Scouts.

 For those long, cold nights out in the backyard. The backyard that is located right in the middle of the Arizona desert. Where it's always summer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

We've Been Invaded! Hexbugs Review & Giveaway

Sometimes raising boys can be a little challenging, especially when you're a mom who isn't big on all the little creatures that boys seem to be attracted to.  We have been home to a number of lizards over the last few years, which means we have to keep crickets and mealworms for the lizards to eat.   I really HATE having these icky things in my house.   I've found the boys poking at beetles, grasshoppers and even a scorpion once, albeit from a distance, with a VERY long stick.  That one about gave me a heart attack!

A few weeks ago, we got a package from the UPS man FILLED with bugs!  Lucky for me, they are of a robotic/electronic nature, so they were very welcome inside our living room.  HEXBUGS are swarming the country and I gotta say, for little tiny toys, they are pretty interesting.

So what are they?  HEXBUG Nanos are these little robotic toys that look and act like bugs!  They use vibration to scurry around on their twelve little rubber legs and when they hit a wall or get stuck, they just redirect themselves  (in a freaked out, chaotic way like a real trapped bug would) until they find an escape point, then they're off again! They can even right themselves when they get flipped on their backs!  They really do look and act like real bugs.  Kind of freaky, but in a good way!

The HEXBUG Nanos come in test tubes, each with a unique code that kids can register online to track their collection.  Once online, they can play games and learn intersting scientific facts. I liked the fact that the manufacturer (Innovation First International) encourages learning as a part of the HEXBUG experience.  My oldest is really enjoying the website, my youngest seemed a little overwhelmed by it, but he's not the computer kid in the family, so either his brother or myself will have to help him navigate the website at some point.

According to the HEXBUG website, "the first prototypes of the Nano were inspired by the old vibrating football games...Thirty some iterations, a few years, and dozens of designs later the Nano was born. To give just a taste of how much development went into this product, we engineered and rapid prototyped over 150 variations of legs alone."   Which is why I'm not a scientist.  I have no patience for the fine tuning process I guess.  But people who are interested in what makes the HEXBUGS tick should check out the Design portion of the website.  It gives LOTS of information on what makes the HEXBUGS work.  The site also has instructions on how to change the batteries and other helpful info to keep your bugs working properly.  A "How to Care for Your New Hexbug" handbook, if you will.

Thanks to HEXBUGS and MomSelect, we had the chance to invite some of the boys' friends over to try out the HEXBUG Nanos on their Habitat set.  Boys and girls both loved the little creatures and spent 3 hours at our little bug party racing them in the habitat and all over the house. 


video

Along with using the habitat, we also played a few games with the HEXBUGS.  The kids favorite game was called Anthill.  We cut some holes in a box and assigned each hole points.  The HEXBUGS all got turned on and set on the floor then we quickly (and I mean quickly!  Those little dudes are fast!) turned the box over on top of them.  We could hear the bugs bouncing off the sides of the box looking for and escape, which made the kids laugh hysterically.  Eventually one of them would find a hole and emerge, winning the points assigned to the hole.  The HEXBUG with the most points after 3 rounds won the game. 
  
It was a fun day for the boys and their friends and the HEXBUGS and Habitat continue to be a source of entertainment for our boy filled neighborhood, as well as for Blackie Chan the Ninja Cat, who on occasion will appear out of nowhere to pounce on one of the unsuspecting robotic creatures.  His fun is shortlived though.  As soon as he realizes he can't bite through them, he bats them across the room and walks away.  

Wanna win a HEXBUG Nano of your own?  I have 2  Nano test tubes to give away to one lucky reader!!   You know the drill, right?  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  For extra enteries you can
  • Post the contest on Facebook
  • Tweet the contest on Twitter
  • Blog about the contest
  • Link the contest to a Mr Linky somewhere on the internet
  • Follow my blog!  
Let me know in a separate comment what you've done so I can make sure you get credit for each effort! Contest will end on September 30th 2010 at 12 midnight PST.  U.S. residents only (sorry, shipping costs!). 

Where Did My Little Boy Go?

This post is late.  About 4 weeks late.  Man how the time flies!  Is it just me or does it seem like the days go by in a matter of just a few hours lately??

Eleven years ago in the middle of August, I had my first baby boy.  He was the easiest, most well behaved, happy little baby I had ever had the pleasure to know.  And he was mine.  I still remember the overwhelming love that rushed into my heart when I saw my son for the first time.  I used to waste hour after hour just staring at him and watching him and talking to him and loving him.  He was, for me, the perfect little dude. 

Back then, he looked like this:

Now he looks like this!


It seems like the little boy in him is trying his hardest to escape and run away.  In his place?  I find this giant Man-Child who is only a few inches shorter than me with feet the size of a small Sasquatch!!  Inside of his growing body are hormones that have turned my normally relaxed little kid into a frustrated wanna-be man.  Not old enough to hang out with the teenagers, but too old to hang out with the little kids.  Not old enough to watch certain TV shows or movies, but too old for many of the cartoons he used to love.  It's a tough place to be, for him and for me.  We have lots of issues now that we didn't have before, because he feels the need to voice his opinion A LOT more than he used to.  He's struggling with delivering his disdain for our rules in an appropriate manner.   We are struggling with the fact that he is struggling. 

I wasn't prepared for this stage of his life.  I didn't really know who he would be heading into puberty.  I didn't realize that his normally laid back personality would change so much!  Of course, I am recognizing that part of his discomfort and lack of enthusiasm these days in due in part to the fact that more and more expectations are being put upon him as he ages.  Big Brother isn't a guy who thrives on challenges.  He likes his livin' easy.  He prefers a slower pace with lots of social interaction.  And he prefers that social interaction to take place without his parents present.  It seems we block his Chi or something. 

His independence is nothing new.   He's always been comfortable being by himself and he was the one who was happy to start school and have his "me" time away from mom.  I want him to be able to be independent.  But I want him to be aware too!  Big Brother doesn't always get that simply being away from Mom and Dad doesn't make you independent and functional.  He thinks things will just kind of take care of themselves.  It's one thing to think you can handle life on your own because YOU think you're smart enough to deal with challenge.  It's another to be fully aware that, at times, life will be tough and in order to successfully navigate it emotionally intact and independently, you need to be truly prepared with proper coping skills.  I'm not quite sure he's ready to make some of the decisions he will have to make about who he hangs out with and whether or not he will participate in questionable activities, ya know?  There's so much he still doesn't know.  He just doesn't know that he doesn't know it yet.  I know what he doesn't know though, because I flew out of my childhood nest completely unprepared for what the world was really like.  I found it to be a pretty brutal and unforgiving place when I was young, because I really believed that everyone around me was who they said they were.  Unfortunately, people aren't always honest and a lot of those people have no problem preying on naive, kind-hearted teenagers who are looking for acceptance.  Funny thing is?  I think I was a lot like my son.  I thought I was pretty world-wise and could handle just about anything or anyone.  Turns out I couldn't.  And some of my choices (or lack of action) left some pretty big emotional scars.  So I worry about Big Brother.   

But...Big Brother is growing up.  And because he is growing up?  I have to grow up.   Maybe that's what all this melancholy I feel is really about.  I should rejoice that he is growing up and becoming a wonderful young man, because he really is a wonderful young man.  He is kind and loving.  He loves to experience new things.  He has this really incredible laugh.  And he is working so hard to find himself.  I should be happy.  But I'll be honest.  I don't know that I am that much more emotionally mature than my son is.  He is actually striving to be a mature adult!  I think I spend half of my time running away from that concept!  How can I help him be the man he needs to be to have a full and happy life when I can't even figure out how to have a full and happy life of my own!?

My son, my small man, turned 11 this year.  He reminds me every day that when I chose to be a mother, I chose to help another human being come into this world and make a life for himself.  He's reached the age where I am way out of my comfort level when it comes to answering his questions and teaching him the life skills he'll so desperately need to function well in the world.  I've reached the end of my skill set. So I worry.  Because I'm not sure I can stay ahead of the curve enough to make sure he always has a well-adjusted parent available to offer support and  guidance and direction.  I have to step up my game now - big time!  And I'm really feeling the pressure. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

WaterPik Sinusense Review

Everyone in my neighborhood is sick right now with horrible head colds that turn into horrible chest colds.  I've been lucky so far and have somehow remained untouched by this rotten pre-winter cold/flu stuff (crossing fingers, knocking on wood!).  My husband was not lucky, however and found himself waking up a few weeks ago with a head full of icky stuff and a nasty sinus infection. 

As fate would have it, the Fed-X man delivered a package that very afternoon, just minutes after my husband went to work wondering how he was going to manage this illness without calling in sick to his parttime job, which is all we have going for us right now since my census job ended!

Even more of an issue is that we don't have insurance right now either, so a trip to the doctor just seemed impossible.  So the question of how to help him get his sinus infection under control was looming large.  But miracles do happen people!  The box that was delivered in such a timely manner?  Contained this:

 and also this:


I KNOW!  How fortuitous, right?  WaterPik has some new products out that are specifically geared toward sinus health!  We know that WaterPik has a wonderful reputation in the dental car world, but had never heard of their Sinusense products.  My husband took advantage of our opportunity to review the products by immediately ripping the boxes open as soon as he walked in the door from work.  He headed straight upstairs to the bathroom and began to put the Sinusense products to the test! 

He tried the Neti Bottle first, just because he had heard so much about the benefits of Neti Pots and wanted to see what the difference was between using a Neti device vs. a regular squeeze bottle.  Following the directions, he filled the Neti bottle with warm, distilled water and the Saline Packs that were included in the Sinusense kits.  His first reaction as he squeezed the solution out of the bottle into his sinus cavities was that it didn't burn like regualr salt water does.  Waterpik's Soothing Saline Packs contains eucalyptus oil and aloe vera to help take the sting out of siuns cleansing.  His second comment was that the neti bottle seemed to somehow get the solution further back into his sinus passages than a normal spray bottle does and that it does so gently.  No shocking blasts of water to make you choke and gag.   

He went to bed that night breathing much better and was actually able to sleep through the night, which was good for me too, as I was completely exhausted from his previous night of coughing and snorting.  The following morning he used the Squeeze Bottle instead of the Neti Bottle, just to compare the two.  He found that with the bottle he could get a much more powerful spray of water into his sinuses and he was able to manipulate the bottle easier.  He also mentioned that he appreciated the flow control mechanism on both of the bottles that prevented the water in his nose from going back into the bottle when it came running out.  Ummm...yeah.  Nose backwash would be kind of gross.  So that is really a nice feature.   

In the end, he liked both kits for different reasons and ended up alternating between the two of them all week long.  While our neighbors suffered through their stuff for a few weeks, my husband moved through his infection in about 5 days.  The final verdict?  Easy squeezy, no more sneezy!  We are definitely attributing his ability to get over his sinus issues so quickly and without medication to the Waterpik Sinusense kits.  We will continue to use them throughout the winter to fight off cold and flu season. 

Wanna try WaterPik Sinusense yourself?  Go to their website and print out a coupon good for $2 off any Sinusense product!  While you're there you can find out more about the entire Sinusense line.  Stay well this winter, my bloggy friends!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Things I Heard While Waiting for my Kids at School

Conversation #1
Girl: Justin Bieber sucks. 
Girl's friend who apparently loves Justin Bieber: No, you suck.
Different kid:  Seriously?  Justin Bieber totally sucks!  He's lame! He looks like a girl!
Bieber Fan Girl (almost crying):  You guys are lame.  Justin Bieber is so awesome.
Random Mom standing next to me:  Justin Bieber does suck.  I hate that kid.
Me (Laughing):  Yep.  Glad I have boys so I don't have to listen to him. 
Random Mom:  Lucky. 


Conversation #2
Kid:  Dude!  Your legs are really hairy!
Other Kid:  Dude, I know!  It's weird.  They just started getting that way during the summer. 
Kid:  Dude!  You gotta shave that!  It's nasty!
Other Kid:  Dude!  Guys don't shave their legs, what's wrong witchu?  
Kid:  Dude...you look like a gorilla.  
Other Kid:  Man, shut up! You're just jealous that you ain't a man yet, like me.   
Kid:  Dude.  You're 12.  You ain't no man yet either.  
Other kid:  Whatever dude.
3rd Kid:  I'm the only man around here.  I got a 'stache.  Now what? 
Kid:  Dude...that's just some peach fuzz.  That ain't no mustache.
Me:  Dude.  Quit hatin'. He's 12 and he's already got dark, manly facial hair.  That's pretty impressive. 

Conversation #3
Girl, halfway to car:  Mom, I gotta go to the bathroom.
Mom:  Honey!  Why didn't go before we got to the car?  
Girl:  I didn't have to go then!
Mom:  You didn't have to go 2 minutes ago, but you have to go now?
Girl:  Yeah.  Bad.  I have to go bad.
Mom:  Fine.  Hurry up!  (Heads back to sidewalk then looks at me as daughter runs to the bathroom)  She does this every day!  You'd think I'd figure out to ask her before we head to the car!  
Me:  I know. Mine does the same thing.  See ya later!  (heads to car with my kids who just walked up)
My Son, halfway to car:  Mom, I gotta go pee.  
Me:  Seriously?  How come you didn't go before you met me at the gate?
My Son:  I forgot.  I gotta go, Mom.  Really Bad. 
Me:  Fine.  Hurry UP!!  (looks at 1st Mom as we walk back to the sidewalk)...so what were we talking about?