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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Morgan's List Of What NOT To Wear To BlogHer


While I'm still enjoying a little R&R in Hawaii (I'll try not to rub it in), my friend, Morgan of The Little Hen House is here to keep you company.

I'm happy to say that Morgan is a IRL (In Real Life) friend and she is simply darling. Her writing is everything mine isn't; witty, sarcastic and laugh out loud funny.

Morgan is also a mother to two adorable little girls whom Lucas loves spending time with, she raises chickens, writes for several mommy-centric Web sites, shares great advice on blogging, hosts a weekly Dr. Mom feature featuring her own mother and because she doesn't have a TV, spends A LOT of time scouring the Internet for sometimes bizarre and always hilarious items. 

The other thing Morgan does really well is Top Ten lists and here is one that she'd like to share with all of us...
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There has been a lot of talk about what to wear to BlogHer ’11 this year, and shoes are no exception. If you’ve ever been to a blog conference before, then you know one thing is for certain: There are going to be many, many bloggers wearing really cute shoes.

If you are shoe-challenged, then have no fear! Sometimes the process of elimination is the best way to decide what to wear. So, here is a list of the Top Ten Shoes You DON’T Want to Wear to BlogHer ’11:

Butt-Toning Sandals: 
Because this isn’t the “special” look you want to be going for. 

Teeva High Heels:
Just don’t even go there, ok?

High Heel Flip Flops:
 There will be people wearing high heels and there will be people wearing flip flops. You can’t have it both ways.

Nike Clogs:
 Wear Nikes, wear Crocs, just don’t wear these.

Thigh High Converse:
 *sigh*

Pink Leopard Wedge:
 The quickest way to take a little black dress from “day” to “street walker”.

Stripper Shoes:
 This shouldn’t need any explanation. If it does, I think the conference you are looking for is in Vegas.

Five Finger Running Shoes:
 I don’t care how comfortable they are, they just creep me out.

Scary High Heel:
 These take the term “spike heel” to another level. 

Pony Heels:
 There are no words.

I hope that gave you a little direction! Stay away from any of the ten styles above and I can guarantee that you won’t be the worst dressed person in the room. You’re welcome!

I urge you to follow Morgan on Twitter and Facebook and look for her epic posts on hosting a celebrity baby shower, Top Ten Reasons I Suspect My Children Might Be Trying To Kill Me and Celebrity Guest Post: My Summer Plans with everyone's favorite gal pal, Gwynie.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Uncertainty

Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime. 

From the moment I read this on the Home page of In These Small Moments, I knew Nicole and I would be friends someday.

Her writing is eloquent, touching and magical. It doesn't matter if she's writing a letter to her daughter's teachers, allowing us a glimpse of the beautiful love she and her husband have for one another, sharing her grief for a father she never knew, or showing us a small moment spent with her son, Nicole writes purely, deeply and from the heart.

I am very honored to have her here today.

Please follow Nicole on Facebook and Twitter and look for her at BlogHer '11, where she and I will most certainly be sharing a glass bottle of wine.   
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I’ve known for all of my life that my father was dead.

I was told that he was in Heaven…that he loved me very much and one day I would join him.

I’ve also known for my entire life that my brother was dead…that he was with my father and they were waiting patiently for me.

From a very young age, I felt that tremendous, consuming weight of death.

It became my responsibility to care for my mother and younger brother, as I was petrified of losing them too.

I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t struggle with anxiety…with fear.

My father was dead and fear of losing my mother was truly paralyzing.

My older brother died as an infant, so losing my younger brother wasn’t an irrational fear.

Tonya asked me one day, nearly a year ago, how I will explain my father’s death to my children.

My mother was faced with the choice between telling me the truth, as appropriate to my age, and distracting me with half-truths.

She chose the former.

And I’m not sure if there was a right answer.

For as long as I can remember, I have known bits of the truth that came to form a whole by the time I was a teenager.

I knew that my father’s best friend shot him. Twice. At close range.

And for my entire childhood, death was real.

It lurked behind every car trip.
Behind every scary face.
Around every corner.

I lay in bed at night, nearly every night of my childhood, bargaining with God.

I’ll be a good girl, God…please just don’t take my mother. I have nothing else.

I won’t sass, God.

I will keep my room clean, be nice to my brother.

Just please don’t take them, too.

When my daughter turned two, I felt as though I could breathe a little easier…that she was finally at an age when she could begin to store her memories…just in case.

That’s how I’ve lived my life, gathering small moments and stocking them away, just in case.

So, as my daughter approaches the age where she’s making connections, seeing where she fits into a larger whole, her little wheels are spinning and it won’t be long before she asks me where her grandfather is.

And it will paralyze me.

Because he is dead and I’m not as certain of that Heaven as I once was.

What will I tell my children?
Will I be as honest with them as my mother was with me?
Will I tell them comforting stories of Heaven and being together as a family one day?
Or do I have some other choice that I can’t see in this moment?

As the months since Tonya’s invitation have passed, I hoped that I would reach some conclusion…that the answer would take shape in my mind.

But it hasn’t.

And as more time passes, I’m not certain that there will ever be an easy answer.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Tot In Tow

Lucas' first time on an airplane was August 14, 2009. He was just nine weeks old.

Lucas' First Flight! SAN ---> SJC en route to Monterrey.
Thank goodness my mother-in-law was with me to help out because Lucas had a blow out of the yucky disgusting nature (his one of only four EVER) mid-flight and I was stuck in the bathroom with him and left his diaper bag with a clean change of clothes back at my seat. Such a rookie move!

Even so, Lucas was A LOT easier to travel with back then (he used to sleep the entire flight) than he is now.

Since that first flight, I have flown solo to the Bay Area (an hour, 20 gate-to-gate) with Lucas a dozen times to visit my in-laws and Todd and I have taken him to Europe and Australia. At this point, I consider myself an expert at traveling with a tot in tow.

Now, having said that, as we are getting ready for our summer vacation, a week in Hawaii (!!), the thing I'm most stressed about is the flight there and back. 

Five hours in a confined space makes me crazy enough, but add an energetic toddler to the mix and it could be a nightmare.

I am not claiming to be an expert on any of this, but here's what usually works for us: 
  • Book your flight for first thing in the morning, when children are usually at their best or around nap or bedtime, in hopes that they will sleep.

  • Before you even get to the airport, explain where you're going and how you're going to get there. Airports and airplanes can be scary for small children; there are lots of people scurrying about, long lines, loud noises, etc.  

  • Let your child be a part of the packing process. Allow them to pick out a couple of favorite items to bring on the plane in addition to having something stowed away in the suitcase to "meet" them at your destination.
    • Once at the airport, spend a lot of time walking around. You want to tire your child out and burn off some of that extra energy so they can sit still for some of the flight.   
        • Load up your iPhone, iPod, iPad or other favorite electronic device with photos and videos of your child. Lucas loves seeing footage of himself. Just don't forget to completely charge your device! Many airports have outlets at the gate, so plug in before you board.
        • Download your child's favorite television show to enjoy mid-flight. Most episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Chuggington and Sesame Street are $1.99 - $2.99 each.
        • Download tried and true toddler-friendly apps, such as: Talking Tom Cat and Toddler Puzzle Shapes, which are both free and ABC Train and Voice Cards, which range from $.99 - $1.99 each.
        • Be sure to bring your child's favorite snacks and lots of them. You never know if you might get stuck on the tarmac waiting for a gate or have an unexpected delay before even taking off.
        • Buy some inexpensive books and toys to introduce to your child during the flight but not all at once, spread them out and don't forget to hold on to a couple of new items for the plane ride home. It's very important that these are items your child hasn't seen before. The Target dollar bins are great for this! Avoid anything that makes noise so as not to disrupt fellow passengers or items that are round, as they may roll down the aisles. I don't like crayons or markers for this reason.
        • Make sure to pack an extra change of clothes, not only for your tot, but you too! At the very least, a clean t-shirt. Kids get messy, drinks spill and inevitably it all ends up on mom.   
        • It should go without saying, but carry extra diapers. Just before we got on the plane heading to Florence, I forgot to calculate our layover time in Paris and while I know European babies wear diapers too, I panicked fearing we wouldn't have enough or be able to find them, so we scoured LAX looking for a small package. $20 (for 10!) later we were covered.  
        • Airports and airplanes are crawling with germs, so carry Wet-Ones and hand sanitizer and use them frequently while traveling. I wipe down the arm rests, the tray table and hands all through our trip.

        • And speaking of germs and other yucky stuff, pack a couple of zip-lock bags for soiled clothing in case your child throws up. No one wants to smell that! 
          • In my experience, the ground crew, TSA and flight attendants have always been very helpful. If you need help, just ask! Fellow passengers are typically sympathetic to your situation too, especially if you are traveling with your child alone and will help out if you need them too. 
              • If a flight attendant doesn't offer, be sure to ask for a set of wings and if it's your child's first flight, most airlines have keepsake certificates.
              • If all of the above fails, go through the SkyMall catalog page by page together and look for pictures of cats and dogs. Trust me on this. And please remember, you aren't ever going to see the people on your flight again, so whatever happens, happens. At least you did it!

                I hope these tips help you prepare for your next flight with your child, and if you have any advice to share, let me know!

                This is a post that I have been thinking about for a while and just hadn't gotten around to writing, so a big thank you to Jessica of My Time As Mom for sending @camgosha of Bibs & Baubles my way on Twitter the other night seeking advice on traveling with children. I hope you had a great trip. 

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                Monday, July 25, 2011

                My Summer Reading List

                Try as I might, I could not get this under four minutes so thank you for watching!

                Please let me know if you have questions about my recommendations and definitely share your thoughts too.

                In order in which I discussed, my summer reading list includes:

                One Amazing Thing - Chitra Divakaruni
                Sing You Home - Jodi Picoult
                Room - Emma Donoghue
                Up From The Blue - Susan Henderson
                Incendiary - Chris Cleve
                The Writing Circle - Corinne Demas 

                What are you reading this summer?!

                This post is for Vlog Talk. The prompt I chose was #1 Your summer reading list.

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                Sunday, July 24, 2011

                Green Things

                1. Kermit the Frog - the cutest frog I know.

                2. Food - kale, Granny Smith apples, green beans, edamame, tea, cucumbers, jalapenos, limes (okay, now I'm thinking about margaritas!)

                3. Emeralds - although I prefer sapphires.

                4. Ireland - a place on my must visit list.

                5. Grass

                6. My BFF's eyes

                7. The last shirt I purchased:
                The Gap Satin-Trim Tank - $29.95
                8. Shades - kelly, hunter, camouflage, moss, chartreuse, olive, neon

                9. Mother Earth 

                10. Show me the... No green list would be complete without it ...wait for it... MONEY, moolah, dough, bacon, bucks, bills, dollars or cash!

                This post was inspired by Stasha's Monday Listicles, a linky right up my alley!

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                Saturday, July 23, 2011

                What I'm Wearing To BlogHer '11

                Last year this time I was bitter about all the BlogHer blog posts and tweets because I wasn't going, so if you aren't able to attend this year or couldn't care less, please bear with me as I share one of my own...

                Even though I know it doesn't really matter what I wear to BlogHer '11 or any blogging conference for that matter, I do want to look my best and let's face it, as a stay-at-home mom, I don't get the opportunity to dress up very often. 

                Plus, I was feeling the pressure when I saw Nichole of In These Small Moments had a Pinterest board dedicated to her BlogHer '11 attire wish list and upon further research discovered she wasn't the only one. 

                Then I read all three of Morgan's (The Little Hen House) posts, What Not to Wear: The BlogHer '11 Fashion Edition, Weekend Post: More BlogHer '11 Fashion and BlogHer '11 Fashion: For the Curvy Woman and decided it really should matter how I dress for the biggest blogging conference of the year. 

                Enter: my friend, Nancy of Inside Out, Wardrobe Rehab.

                If you missed my post on Tuesday, My Wardrobe Rehab Experience, Nancy helped me go through my closet, buy some new, much needed items and has helped me get geared up for BlogHer '11.

                The only requirements I gave Nancy were: I want to be comfortable, especially in the shoe department and I need looks that can take me from day to night. 

                Here's what we've come up with based solely on what I already had in my closet, in other words, I have NOT purchased anything new to wear to BlogHer '11.
                DAY 1: Striped CAbi blazer, light green Ann Taylor Loft blouse, Ann Taylor Loft tailored jeans with tan (both Aldo) wedges (haven't decided which pair yet).
                DAY 2: Red Ann Taylor Loft blouse, black-and-white floral A-line Ann Taylor Loft skirt with black wedge.
                DAY 3: Ann Taylor Loft grey stripe seersucker pants and matching blazer (or white cardigan from The Gap) and navy Ann Taylor Loft blouse with TBD shoes. I am bound and determined to find a pair of silver flats!
                NIGHT 3: Same seersucker pants as above or white trousers and hot pink tank from Old Navy with silver heels.
                All outfits are subject to change and yes, I am aware that NIGHTS 1 and 2 are missing. A girl's gotta have some secrets.
                If you're going to BlogHer '11 too, please let me know, I'd love to meet you and in the meantime, please visit Nancy's Inside Out, Wardrobe Rehab’s Website/blog, follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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                Thursday, July 21, 2011

                This Is Just The Beginning...

                In less than two weeks Lucas will be attending preschool. It's crazy, I know! How did he get to be such a big boy? I feel like we just brought him home from the hospital, swaddled him and were protecting his head, but like it or not, here we are getting ready for his first day of school.

                I am really excited for all the new things Lucas is going experience and learn, expert direction he is going to receive, friends he's going to make and fun he is going to have. I loved school and I hope he does to!

                Child's Full Name

                Address

                Parent's Names

                Signature


                I just read, filled in the blanks and signed more than a dozen pieces of paper with my son's new school's insignia prominently placed at the top of each page.

                Physician's Name

                Known Allergies

                Diet Pattern 

                Signature 

                While easy to answer these questions about my son, his habits and his health, each one made me a little sadder than the last. He's only two.

                In Case of an Emergency Contact 

                Nap Schedule 

                Parent's Evaluation of Child's Personality 

                Signature 

                So many signatures.

                I feel like it's time, I agreed it was time, but now that we are just days away, I'm second guessing myself. Are we doing the right thing by sending Lucas to preschool?

                Field Trip Permission Slip

                Children's Disaster/Earthquake Kit

                Permission to Photograph

                Parent Handbook

                For so long, it's been me and Lucas, Monday through Saturday, 8 - 10 hours a day. Day in and day out.

                Just us.

                I know I'm only giving him up nine hours a week, but it feels like so much more than that. This feels like it's just the beginning of him being pulled away from me...

                ...and I'm going to miss him.

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