Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An Inspirational Cancer Story Involving a Newlywed, a Doctor's Wife, and a Birdhouse

An Inspirational Cancer Story Involving a Newlywed, a Doctor's Wife, and a Birdhouse: Small Hands Creating Hope
Being married to a doctor sounds glamorous, but trust me, it isn't all it's cracked up to be.   My husband and I have been together since college and it's been a very long road.

However, compared to my friend Colleen, my road seems like a short cul-de-sac.  Colleen met her husband in college, and after college her husband moved to Omaha for medical school.  She didn't know a soul there, but she wanted to be with him, so she enrolled in nursing school.  Just when she was getting to know Omaha, they had to move again for residency.  Colleen packed again and followed her husband to another city where she didn't know anyone.  Things were going well until she started feeling sick.  First, she got sore gums and didn't think much of it.  Then she started feeling really tired, but again tried to ignore it.  Eventually her gums started bleeding every time she brushed her teeth.  Her parents finally convinced her to get blood work done and she was out running errands when she got the results back.  The nurse on the other end of the phone told her she needed to go to the Emergency Room immediately.  Colleen was confused.

"I can't go now," she told the nurse.  "I'm just getting ready to walk into the grocery store." 

The nurse replied, "Colleen, you don't understand.  You need to drop what you're doing.  You are in serious danger.  Minutes will make a difference."

Collen was diagnosed with leukemia and her levels were so dangerous when she got that call, that the doctors told her she was incredibly lucky that she got there when she did.  She began fighting for her life in a strange city, without her friends or her family.  She spent lots of time in the hospital and at home, where she was quarantined and couldn't leave the house for fear of contracting a cold or worse.  While she was stuck at home alone, she watched lots of TV and read books, but that got old fast.  Eventually she started to just look out the windows and she noticed all the different birds.  She bought a book and she became an avid bird watcher, and found that it was a very soothing way to pass the time.

Colleen battled through and when I met her, she had a full head of hair and a vivacious smile.  I didn't even know she'd had cancer, because by this point, she'd been in remission for several months.  Since she was a nurse at the hospital, my husband knew story and when he told me that she'd just gotten over cancer, I didn't believe him.  This wonderful, energetic person didn't seem at all like a cancer patient to me, but it was true.  She had lived through chemo, being quarantined to her house, and losing her hair as a twenty five year old newlywed.  Yet she isn't bitter.  On the contrary, she has flourished.  She never complains about what she went through and she inspires me daily to look around and appreciate what I have.  She has one year left here, before they will move yet again for her husband to complete his fellowship and will finally be done with all his training.  She has made a full recovery and is 100% healthy today.

Colleen has become one of my dearest friends and my kids absolutely adore her.  They talk about her constantly and Munchkin Girl told me one time, "Mommy, it's so nice of you to share your friends with me."  Little Buddy definitely has a crush on her and every time he pulls out his pretend phone, I hear him saying, "Hi Coyeen.  Coming soon?"

As a tribute to her, my kids painted a bird house for her.  She isn't stuck at home anymore, but she still loves birds, and my kids love her, so I thought it was very appropriate.  I bought a few birdhouses from Hobby Lobby for just a few dollars.  Then I gave them some paint and let them go to work!  Munchkin Girl is nearly four and she was very particular about the way she wanted it painted.

outdoor activity, birdhouse,

Little Buddy, on the other hand, had some trouble with his, so big sister jumped in to help him.  They worked together on his.

When they were done, we kept one and gave the other to Colleen.  She was thrilled with it and Munchkin Girl was so proud to give it to her.  We put ours in the backyard and have even enjoyed watching the birds flock to the food!

I have written this story in connection with a project that was started by Mary Anne from a blog called, Mama Smiles.  Mary Ann was diagnosed with cancer at age 22 months.  She bounced back and is living a wonderful life with her husband and kids and this has inspired her to give back.  She has formed a group of power bloggers to write about how cancer has touched their lives and all stories will be compiled for a book, which will be available to purchase.  All proceeds will go toward Cancer Research.  You can also donate below by clicking on the link.  Thank you for your support!!

check back June 13th to enter
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I could really use a favor....

Greetings my lovely readers!  Do you see this banner below?  Would you mind clicking on it for me?  This is an ongoing contest for the best Mom blogs on the Internet.  Every time you click on the banner from my website, it gives me a vote. That's it.  You don't have to do anything special, just simply click on this banner below.  I used to be #2.  I've slipped to #15!  I would really like to get back up there because when I'm at the top I feel better about myself.  Haha just kidding.  Kind of.  So, would you do me a favor and click on this banner for me every time you visit my site?  I would be forever grateful!!!  :-)

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Truly Easy and non-messy Way to Keep Kids Busy

A Truly Easy and Non-Messy Way to Keep Kids Busy
The other day I picked my daughter up from preschool and when I got there, she was quietly coloring a castle.  I told her it looked beautiful and her teacher said, "Yes, she's been working on it for a really long time!"

I was a little shocked to hear this because normally at home I can't pay her to color with crayons.  We have dozens of coloring books around the house and she doesn't give them a second glance.  So, it occurred to me that maybe she would like to have a single sheet of paper instead of a whole book.  Thus, began a little experiment of mine.  I set out to find some free pages I could print and give to her.  Much to my surprise and delight, she loved this idea!  One afternoon we went into the office and I showed her various sites with coloring pages and she helped me pick out what she wanted.  Of course, she was thrilled about coloring Tinkerbell, Ariel, Strawberry Shortcake, etc.  We organized all her favorite pages into a big folder with her name on it, and her little brother got one too.

Coloring is such an easy, non-messy way to keep the kids busy and I'm thrilled to now be able to join the rest of society with a child who enjoys coloring!  It's amazing to me how one little change like that can affect the enjoyment of a project.  Think about it.  She is basically coloring the same thing.  Only now it's a single sheet of paper.  Yet she is thrilled.  Kids sure are strange.  In any case, I did find some good sites for free printables if you want to give it a shot:

They do have some coloring pages, including some Disney-themed characters, but I found their site to be slow and a little difficult to navigate.
Coloring Castle
This page had mostly generic things like castles and unicorns, but was very easy to navigate and print

Educational Coloring Pages
This was by far my favorite.  They had every character you could imagine, both for boys and girls, and it was also very easy to navigate and print.  However, my tip is to make sure to click their printer button instead of the one on your browser or it doesn't print right. Here were some of our favorites from this site:

Even Little Buddy (2) enjoyed all the coloring pages!!

little kid coloring for stuff to do with kids

If you need more easy crafts like these, please consider buying my book!  I co-wrote it with former Kindergarten Teacher and best-selling author, Susan Case.  We worked together to give both a Mom and a Teacher perspective and we give hundreds of ideas on ways to keep your kids busy, but in a productive way, so that they're actually learning while you cook dinner in peace! Here is what a reader wrote after she purchased our book:

I'm about halfway through your book, and it's a true gem in my quest to figure out how to yell less and enjoy my boys more. I'm glad I found your blog. ~ Prickly Mom

You can purchase a copy on Amazon or B&N.  The Kindle version is $3.99 and the Paperback is $9.99.  Thanks so much for your support!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Most Beautiful Art We've Ever Created

Using Stencils to Create Beautiful Art With Kids
I always let my kids do their own artwork and even if they aren't doing it the way I envisioned, I never interfere and help them finish.  I do this for two reasons:

1.  Because I want them to be responsible and be proud of their own artwork
2.  Because I'm terrible at art and probably wouldn't do any better than they could.  I would illustrate this by posting a picture of my own artwork but I do have some pride.

However, I have recently found something that helps us create beautiful artwork: stencils!  Now, since I am art-challenged I will admit that when Cheri from Stencils Online contacted me about doing a review and a giveaway, I was stumped.  I had to ask her, "What exactly do I do with stencils?  Can my four year old do anything with them?  Or is this an adult project?"

Cheri assured me that my daughter could participate and would enjoy it and boy was she right!  To get started, I taped the stencil to some paper and at first, we used a paintbrush:

For paint projects, I always use an old egg carton to contain the paint and it works really well.  For those who have been reading my site for awhile, notice how Munchkin Girl (almost four) is doing a much better job holding the paintbrush?  Our work on fine motor skills is really paying off!

Next, we tried using a sponge to do the painting and that worked like a charm!  She really enjoyed dipping the paint and it took her a long time (20 minutes) to cover the entire butterfly.  I just put some paint on a paper plate and gave her a sponge.  Much to my surprise, this turned out to be really easy!

preschooler using stencil to make a butterfly

She was SOOO impressed with the final product when we pulled the tape and stencil off the paper.  She oohed and ahhhed and she deemed it, "The most beautiful project I've ever done!" (her words, not mine)

They have all different kinds of stencils.  We did a unicorn next and they even sent trucks, dinosaurs, and frogs for my little guy!

preschooler made a unicorn using stencils

They have a full range of animal stencils and craft stencils.   I can envision using these stencils to create amazing gifts for teachers and grandparents, and I have to say, that I'm really glad they contacted me for this opportunity!  You should also visit their FB page at
They also offered to give one of my readers $50 to use for buying stencils!!  So, if you want to do this project at home, feel free to enter the sweepstakes below.  AND, they are offering 15% to all my readers.  If you order, enter the code "mommy" and you will get 15% off for the next two weeks.  Oh, and don't forget to vote for me below too pretty please!!

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**Note: I received this product free of charge in return for the review, and was paid to do a fair evaluation.  The opinion is 100% my own.  See the rest of the sweepstakes regulations in the Rafflecopter form.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Why our trip to the ER was Fun

You know when your Hubby starts wrestling with the kids and chasing them all around the room and you start to realize that things are getting too wild?  You know what I'm talking about.  You stand with your arms crossed, smiling fondly, but suddenly you step in and say, "Okay, I think things are getting a little too crazy around here.  I'm afraid someone will get hurt.  Who wants to read a book?"

I'm sure we've all been there.  The problem with me is that Hubby is gone a lot so I'm often the one doing the wrestling.  This means that there is no one to monitor from afar and realize that the blanket-throwing chasing game might be dangerous, especially if encouraged and initiated by Mom.  So that's what happened the other night.  We were laughing and having so much fun and I was honestly even patting myself on the back for having enough energy to be wrestling with the kids at 6:00 at night and then, "BAM!"  Little Buddy lunged for me and missed my leg and smacked his right into the corner of one of our table.  The next twenty minutes can only be described as pure chaos.

I picked him up immediately.  He was wailing at the top of his lungs, Munchkin Girl was demanding that he stop crying so we could keep playing and I was giving every effort to keep it together and not scream at them.  Blood gushed from Little Buddy's head.  I knew immediately that he needed to go to the ER.  I called and they said it was a several hour wait.

two year old head injury for a trip to the ER

I have to admit that I briefly considered not taking him.  Boys like cool scars right?  Hubby took one look at this pic and told me I had to take him.  It was almost bed time and I was home alone with the kids and I just flat out didn't want to make a trip to the ER.  This is a kid that can't even sit still for an hour during church, let alone for several hours in the ER.  It's also his bedtime and to say that he does poorly with lack of sleep is a severe understatement.  He usually makes me pay if I delay his bedtime by even an hour.   Visions of him running rampant and/or crying hysterically in a crowded, germ-filled ER filled my brain.  Now at this point, I admit that I broke down a bit.   Suddenly I found myself wishing I wasn't the responsible adult.  I sort of wished I was babysitting and I could call the parents and explain what happened and high-tail it out of there.  Here is what happened over the course of the next 7 hours:

6:00 p.m
I turned on Micky Mouse while attempting to stop the bleeding and not gag
6:15 p.m
I paged Hubby, who was in the Operating Room and so a nurse had to be the one who called back.  I could hear my husband yelling that he wouldn't be home anytime soon.  Once he's scrubbed in, it's a big ordeal to even touch the phone because then he has to get scrubbed again and apparently that takes awhile and is frowned upon.  So, I had to explain the situation to the nurse and then she told my husband.  Picture a game of telephone, but with real phones.  "Um," she said nervously.  "Dr. Mullen, your wife says your son needs to go to the ER and wants to know what she should do." Then the poor nurse had to explain to me that it was a big case and there was no one to relieve him and that he suggested that I take the little guy by myself and he would join me as soon as he could.  Fabulous.
7:00 p.m
My parents picked up Munchkin Girl and I set off for the ER with Little Buddy, hoping that Hubby would be there soon.
8 - 10:30 
Little Buddy and I sat in the ER, waiting for our name to be called and waiting for Daddy to arrive.  During this time, I received several more calls from nurses on behalf of my husband, promising he would be done soon.  This is where the fun comes in.  At first, I was beside myself that I was sitting in the ER alone with my two year old at 9:00 at night.   But my son surprised me.  Instead of shrieking and getting cranky, he was fun.  He blew kisses at the nurses.  He cuddled up next to me and watched Mickey Mouse on my iPad.  He hugged me repeatedly.  I found myself relaxing and even enjoying having my little guy all to myself.  He was usually too busy for me.  And frankly, I tended to be too busy for him too, especially with Munchkin Girl constantly needing to potty, needing something to eat, etc.  I couldn't believe it, but waiting for four hours in the ER ended up being fun.
Hubby finally arrived, just in time for us to wait in a room instead of in the waiting room
12:00 am 
Little Buddy received two stitches in his forehead
12:30 am 
Little Buddy was still going like a champ at this point.  He was totally thrilled by the entire situation, especially the ability to watch Mickey Mouse for five hours straight.  He was finally patched up and still hadn't slept a bit, yet he insisted on walking out of the ER by himself like he owned the place.  He sported a pink Band-Aid and waved to all the nurses, saying, "See ya.  Thanks.  See ya."  Every single person in the waiting room giggled as my boy strutted through the waiting room at 12:30am, looking ALL boy, despite his pink Band-Aid.  I've never been as proud of him as I was at that moment.
1:30 a.m
We made it home and went to bed
8:00 a.m. 
Little Buddy wakes up happy as a clam, pink Band-Aid still attached.  I will always have the memory of that night, and how I survived even though I was alone, and how my son rose to the challenge.

So that's our story.  When did your kids make their first trip to the ER?

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Using Egg Carton Boats to Learn About Gravity

Science Experiment for Preschoolers: Egg Carton Boats!

I sure love free stuff and in my mind, egg cartons are a free toy so I'm always brainstorming new ways to use them around the house.  This week, we decided to do a little science experiment to learn about gravity, using egg cartons as boats.  First, I ran my egg cartons through the dishwasher before using them because I am a borderline OCD germa-phobe (Not really, but kinda).

For this experiment, we used:

1.  Egg cartons
2.  Large tupperware container
3.  Feathers
4.  Rocks (Purchased from the Dollar Store)
5.  Straws
6.  Lots of patience (keep reading, you'll see why I needed patience)

First, I filled up the tupper-ware bin full of water and gave them the boats and they each got a straw.  They used the air to move the boat around the water.  I explained about wind.  Since egg cartons are so light, they moved around easily from blowing air through the straw.

Projects for little kids using an egg carton as a boat

Next, we filled the boat up with feathers and the boat didn't sink.  We slowly started adding in rocks and finally, the boat finally sank under the weight of all the rocks.  This really illustrated to Munchkin Girl (almost four) the concept of heavy vs. light.  The feathers were so light that they didn't make the boat sink, but the rocks did.

After this, she literally spent 45 minutes filling up the boat with rocks over and over again until it sank.  We worked on using both sides of the boat to balance it so it wouldn't sink, and then she would move them all to one side because she loved watching it sink.

Filling up egg carton with rocks to teach little kids about gravity and balance

Now, some of you might be wondering what my darling rambunctious two year old boy was up to during this educational science experiment?  I'm not going to lie.  He was a total pest.  He kept coming over and tackling Munchkin Girl while she filled up the boat.  Then he would take the boats and rocks and throw them in the yard and run off laughing.  If I had it to do over again, we would do this while he was napping.  Of course I tried to include him but he couldn't understand weight, gravity, or balance, so I finally just gave him the hose to distract him from bothering us.  Luckily, that turns out to be a very fun and educational experience for a two year old:

Educational value of a hose for little kids

It occurred to me to get a 2nd tupperware container and rocks for him, and then he played with those for awhile too

Water is fun for little kids

Tips for you: Get everything ready before-hand.  Find the tupperware container and wash it out if needed BEFORE you show it to them.  Consider filling it up with water first too so you can get right into what the boat is used for.  And of course, gather up all the materials and have them ready before you start.  Unfortunately I didn't do any of that, and let's just say I wish I had followed my own advice.  Maybe then Munchkin Girl wouldn't have taken off Little Buddy's shoes and used them as boats, causing them to cackle hysterically and almost ruin his shoes while I was still cutting up the egg cartons.  Oh well, I'm always learning and will do better next time!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scared of Bugs? Not anymore!!!

How a Magnifying Glass Cured my Daughter's Fear of Bugs
I really like sitting on our back porch.  And I don't think it's too much to ask that the kids play by themselves for ten minutes occasionally so that I get to kick up my feet and sip my tea.  Unfortunately, the kids disagree with me.  They feel that it is, in fact, way too much to ask.  Every time I get my tea just to the right temperature and start to take a sip I hear, "MOMMY!  I need help!!!"  At this point they are usually inside their little playhouse where I can't see them, so I fall for it every time.

I go running and 9 times out of 10 the emergency is related to bugs. 

Munchkin says:  "Mommy!  I think there is a spider in here!"

I say: "Really?  Where?"

Munchkin looks around diligently: "Well, I saw it a minute ago.  I think I heard it go that way."

I say:  "You can't really hear spiders.  I think you'll be okay."

Just as I sit back down, I hear it again, "Mommy!!! I need help!!"

So I recently decided I needed to take matters into my own hands.  I needed to cure Munchkin Girl's fear of bugs, especially since I feel that it is mostly to get my attention and sabotage my need for relaxation. I bought her a magnifying glass and one afternoon while Little Buddy was sleeping, I told her we were going on and adventure in our backyard.  She was intrigued until I told her we were going to look for bugs and spiders.

"But Mommy, I'm scared of bugs!"

"Don't worry," I told her.  "I think you're going to be surprised.  Bugs are really interesting.  They all have different legs and bodies and do different things."

I have to admit that I don't know much about bugs so that's about as scientific as we got.  However, the first time she spotted an ant through a microscope, and saw the two separate bodies and how busy the ant was, she was hooked.

kids learn about science through experimenting

We spent over thirty minutes in the backyard wandering around with the magnifying glass, inspecting everything we found from mulch, to all the bugs, to worms, to the tiny pieces of plastic the dogs had chewed up several months before.  I even had time to sneak in a cup of tea while she was occupied!

A few days later, we spotted some kind of long caterpillar on our driveway.  I pointed it out to her and I am proud to say that she scampered to the ground and spent another thirty minutes following that caterpillar all over our driveway.  She wasn't one bit scared of it.

fun science experiment with little kids to cure a fear of bugs is successful

In fact, on our recent trip to Florida she kept trying to catch the lizards.  Our learning may have gone too far.  We might need to buy a book from the library about what is nice and what isn't, but for now, I'm just happy to minimize the amount of times per day I have to hear "MOMMY!" in a screeching voice.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Secrets to Enjoying Disney World with Little Kids

Some Secrets to Enjoying Disney World With Little Kids
I've heard many discussions between Moms, wondering about the perfect age to take your kids to Disney World.  Will they remember it?  Will they do okay without naps?  I've also heard people say that Disney World is the happiest place on earth. We just came back from there, and I have to say that it felt more like a war zone to us.  By lunchtime, I am not exaggerating when I say that about every third child was having absolute melt-down.  Kicking, screaming, running from parents.  Think of a mall experience but on steroids.  In fairness to the kids, I could hardly blame them.  The heat and the long lines made me feel like I was going to have a melt-down too and I'm a grown adult.

Okay, I'm teasing a bit.  The truth is, the kids really did have fun, and we are so glad we made the trip, but it's just plain exhausting to take a two year old and a four year old to Disney World and you really will see a ton of melt-downs.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that you shouldn't go to Disney World and if you have kids over age four, this article really doesn't apply because that is a whole different ball game.  However, if you do have kids under age four, it will really help you to know some secrets.   I scoured guidebooks and blogs before we left and still there were a few things I wish I'd known, so now you can learn from our mistakes!  Lest there is any confusion, I want to make it clear that I am not a travel expert, but I did find out some things that might help you if you have the desire to visit Disney World.  So, in my humble opinion, here is what you need to know to make it a fun day, instead of a war zone experience:
  1. Consider staying at the beach, and just going to Disney for a day.  That may sound crazy, but we thought it was MORE than enough time.  We stayed near Sarasota and it only took us about 1.45 hours so we left our hotel at 7:15 and we there right as the doors opened at 9:00.  Disney World is stressful and who wants seven days of stress on a vacation?  It really does take almost an hour to park, stand in line for the shuttle bus, stand in line to buy tickets, stand in line to get on the train, stand in line to have your backpack checked, and stand in line to give your tickets to get through the door (That's five lines before you even get on a ride in case you weren't counting).  I can't imagine doing this for several days in a row with kids under age four.  They don't exactly wait patiently in line, especially two year olds.  Plus, Disney World is incredibly hot.  Because of all the concrete and the people, it is estimated that it is typically 10 degrees hotter in Disney World than the rest of Orlando.  We were there in early May, and it was staggeringly hot, which simply adds to the stress and reinforces my advice to only visit for a day or two.  Not to mention, I don't know how anyone could afford to stay for seven days!  The cost to get in alone is crazy! 
  2. Before visiting the Magic Kingdom, buy a guide book and read carefully about all the rides so you know what you want to see and do and this will prevent you from making promises you can't keep.  Truthfully, a lot of the stuff they have kids under four isn't relevant to current day movies (Dumbo ride, It's a Small World, etc).  There are no rides with Lightning McQueen or Ariel, so don't get the kids all pumped up to see every Disney movie character they know.  Most of the rides for this age are located in the area called "Fantasyland".  Disney obviously realizes that the rides are slightly outdated because they are currently going through major construction to bring more current rides and themes to "Fantasyland".  You can read more about the future projects here.  These new changes look really fun and I think we will definitely have to come back and stay longer when the new Fantasyland is created.  Keep in mind the guide-books will do a much better job of explaining all your options, and all of this will be changing soon, so try to visit the Disney website for more info before you go.
  3. When you get there, consider not standing in line for the shuttle.  The walk isn't that far, especially if you get there right when the door opens.  By the time you wait in line, break down your stroller, load it on the bus, and find a spot on the bus, you could have practically walked there.  Don't just assume that because there is a bus that you need to get on it.  
  4. When you go, buy your tickets before-hand.  They do have automatic touch-screen kiosks, sort of like they have at movie theaters, but these are only open on certain days for some reason.  We planned on using these machines, but they weren't open the day we visited so it took 30 minutes to get through the line to buy tickets.
  5. They aren't very strict about ages of kids and it's free for kids below 3.  
  6. If you have a little girl, consider getting a Fast Pass right when you walk through the door to visit the princesses.  This will be the highlight of her day but there is limited space and it fills up fast.  It might be tempting to hurry through Main Street, but DON'T!!  Instead, head to the right on Main Street (Or ask someone if you don't see it) and pick up a Fast Pass to visit Mickey and visit the princesses.  Even if you just have boys, they might enjoy meeting Mickey and this is done at the same place as the princesses.  Then, you can come back at your allotted time.  If you don't do this right away, you might miss it.  During the visit, they get to take pictures with the princess, have them sign autograph books, and chat with Belle, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella.  It is definitely worth visiting Disney World just for this alone, assuming your daughter likes the princesses.  If you plan to let her buy a princess dress or wand, make sure you do this before she visits the princesses.  This shop is located in Fantasyland (But be warned: we paid $64 for a Rapunzel dress.  If I had known I would have brought her own, but I didn't think they have the prices so incredibly inflated)                                                             Tips on making Disney World Fun for little kids, especially if they like princesses 
  7. Consider making a reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table. If you don't make a reservation, you won't have a prayer of getting in and it is conveniently located in Cinderella's castle.  Trust me, by lunchtime your kids will be begging you for something to eat inside, and what better place than a restaurant where they get to mingle with the princesses?  It is pricey, but totally worth it.
  8. Make sure you look right when you get there for the times for the Mickey character parade.  The kids will likely enjoy this and it's a nice break but it's only done at certain times of the day.  We found one at 1:15, which was perfect.
  9. If you decide to stay longer, consider visiting Hollywood Studios on your second day.  They have some neat rides and things to do with more current Disney characters.
  10. Before you go, make sure to read carefully through what you will find.  Some of the rides were closed or re-located when we were there, due to reconstruction.  Here is what I mean about the rides for little kids.  Here is a rough list of options:
  • The Dumbo Ride (Very fun, but a super long line and most kids haven't even seen Dumbo)
  • It's a Small World (You get on a boat and it takes you around to see lots of dolls dressed up in costumes from around the world.  This ride was one of the originals from when it was built in the 50s and it shows.  The dolls were a little weird looking and the kids had no idea what they were looking at, but if you need a break from the weather, this ride is nice because it's truly inside and so is the line.)
  • The Carousel (The line is usually pretty short and kids always love a carousel, but again, not a big thrill because there are no Disney characters involved)
  • The Winnie the Pooh ride (Usually a very long line, but you can get a FAST PASS for this).
  • Snow White's Scary Forest Adventure (Title said enough for us.  I didn't even want to try it, for fear of making the kids cry, which sort of defeats the purpose, although I did see people really like this ride.  It will be closed when the new rides are released)
  • A Goofy roller coaster (My kids love Goofy, but weren't old enough for this roller coaster, which again was a disappointment that they didn't have more stuff for young kids)

In conclusion, we really loved Disney World, but are so glad we didn't subject ourselves to a whole week with it.  Please bear in mind that this is only my opinion.  My sole intent behind writing this was to hopefully enhance your ability to enjoy Disney World if you choose to go.  Honestly, it was worth going just to see my daughter's face when she got to meet the princesses!  Plus, it was really cute to see her princess dress and Mickey Ears at the beach.  She was very popular with all the old folks!!

If you enjoyed this post, you will love my book!  It was released in July, 2012 and was co-written by Katie Norris and Susan Case.  In this unique book, which was written by both a Mom and a former Kindergarten Teacher, you will find ways to keep your little kids busy, out of trouble, and motivated to learn.  If you have ever tried to cook dinner while your kid clings to your leg and cries, this is the book for you!  Kids behave better when they are given challenging projects to work on, which will in turn give you more free time to do the things you really need to do, like washing dishes, paying bills, and relaxing so that you can be a better Mom!

One quick note: Will you do me a favor?  I am learning more about Google and apparently it helps them if you tell them what you like.  That way, when people search for things like crafts for kids, etc., they are more likely to find my posts.  Soooo...if you liked this post and think others might like it, will you give me a Google+?  You are basically "recommending" this for Google.  It really helps me too!

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Problem With Poor Me Syndrome (For Mommies)

The Problem With Poor Me Syndrome

When I first started blogging, I thought I would be one of those sarcastic, funny bloggers that everyone loves.  Hubby works ALL THE TIME so it would be easy to come up with about oodles of posts with the same central themes: Poor me, my husband works all the time.  Poor me, I always have to be the one who takes out the trash because Hubby is working.  Poor me, my kids are sick all the time and I have to be the one who gets up in the middle of the night. 

Then something happened.  My best friend wanted desperately to have a second child.  She tried and tried but then she found out that her endometriosis and fibroid tumors had become life-threatening.  Finally, her doctors told her she needed a hysterectomy immediately.  She was 30 years old. 

I watched all this happen and did my best to support her and the way my friend reacted took my breath away.  She didn't feel sorry for herself.  Sure, she cried.  Sure, she was incredibly sad.  But she picked herself by her bootstraps, hugged her little girl tight and thanked God for her one healthy child. At that point, I realized I had no business feeling sorry for myself.  I was allowing myself to turn into one of those angry Moms.  You know what I'm talking about.  Yet here was my friend, robbed of her uterus at age 30, and she wasn't mad at the world.  So what if I had to take out the trash?  So what if I always had to be the one to put the kids to bed?  I am lucky to have two healthy children to put to bed each night. 

At that point, I really looked around me and was amazed at what I could learn about being a Mom, not just from my friend, from other Moms too.  Take my own Mom.  When I was growing up, no one was more fun than my Mom.  She was the one giggling with us in church while my Dad gave us the evil eye.  Sure, she wasn't always appropriate, but she ALWAYS had fun with us.  To this day, I laugh more when I'm with my Mom than I do with anyone else and I want my daughter to feel that way about me too.  I realized I needed to do a better job of having fun and not always worrying about how many fruits and vegetables they ate that day or how much TV they watched.

Take my friend Lisa.  She is the one who inspired me to start blogging about crafts.  She truly enjoys spending time with her kids and can come up with a craft idea of of anything.  She doesn't live for nap time.  She lives for playtime. 

Take my own Grandmother.  She used to wake up at 4:30 am to iron her husband's shirt and make him breakfast before he left for work.  Now that's dedication.  Hubby is lucky if I pour him cereal on the weekends.  My grandmother always says that being a Mom is the most wonderful thing that can happen to a woman.

I learn every single day from the Moms around me and I can always find things I admire.  This inspires me to be a better Mom.  So I'm still sarcastic occasionally, but I'm not angry anymore.  Thanks to my friend, I'm a truly happy Mommy.

Don't get me wrong, if you happen to be going through what my friend went through, you have every right to be angry and sad.  Yet, my friend showed me the power of looking for the good in life and I hope she can show you too.

Happy Mother's Day!!

One quick note: Will you do me a favor?  I am learning more about Google and apparently it helps them if you tell them what you like.  That way, when people search for things like crafts for kids, etc., they are more likely to find my posts.  Soooo...if you liked this post and think others might like it, click the button below that looks like this.  You are basically "recommending" this for Google.  It really helps me too!
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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Packing for trips and Other Life Mysteries

One Mom's Life Mysteries: Packing for Trips with Little Kids and More...

We are leaving soon for Florida (Yipeee!) so I am in the throes of packing and preparing for our trip.  During this, I have uncovered a mystery.  My list never seems to end.  I literally feel that if  just kept this list going forever, I would never stop thinking of things to bring with us on vacation.  How can that be?  Surely there is a limit to how much we will need when we are in Florida for a week, so it's a mystery to me that I will still wake up in the middle of the night think, "DVD Charger!".

Since I have so much free time (Ha!), this led me to think of a few of the other mysteries of life: 

  • Why do kids always wait until fully strapped into the car seat before realizing they have to pee?
  • Why will I carry everything from the car, including a backpack, a lunchbox, a computer, my purse, my iPad, shopping bags, blankies AND a kid on my hip, just so I don't have to make two trips?  Would making two trips really so bad?
  • Why is it always so tempting to check my phone when I hear that familiar ding of an email or text?  Why it is so much more interesting than what I am currently doing?
  • How is it that I can adore my life, my kids, and my friends, yet when I look at Facebook, I always feel the familiar pang of, "Are they having more fun than I am?  Why didn't I get invited to that party?"   I swear, I wouldn't change a thing about my life, but Facebook does strange things to people.
  • They say that the definition of crazy is repeating the same behavior over and over again.  Does that make my children certifiably insane?  Because I counted and I heard them repeat, "Mommy" 156 times yesterday, even though I was clearly busy and was unable to answer, yet they thought it was worth repeating over and over again.  My two year old says "Why" about 302 times per day.  I'm not exaggerating.
  • Why are little boys so yucky?  My son (2) always wakes up sticky and smelly, no matter how many baths I give him.  Yet my daughter (4) always wakes up fresh as a daisy! 
  • Why does a siren always sound so much like a crying baby?  My kids rarely wake up in the middle of the night crying anymore, yet every time I hear a siren, I sit straight up with my heart pounding.  It really is a very similar sound!
Well, the point is, hopefully I remember everything for our trip.  If you have any advice, feel free to share! (We do plan to go to Disney for one day, so I really would appreciate any advice!)

PS...When I get back, I do plan to summarize my list of what I ended up packing and needing to think about, in case it might help you one day so stay tuned (Haha, I'm sure you will be on pins and needles! :-)) 

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why Google+ is good for everyone (even non-bloggers)

Why Google+ is good for everyone

Most of my readers are probably not fellow bloggers, so you probably don't even know what Google + is.  I realize this has nothing to do with kids or crafts, so it's a little outside my posting realm, but it does have something to do with one of my pet peeves.  I hate it when I search for something simple like "Birthday Party Ideas" and I get all kinds of strange hits that mean nothing.  It's such a waste of time!!

So, why is Google + Good for everyone? 
Google + is a way to help Google do a better job of giving you what you want when you search for something.  They are saying, "Help Us Help You".  In fact, if you look closely, the text reads, "Recommend this on Google".  So, from now on, if you see something you like (especially one of my posts haha), click on that little button under the post.  (See below for a visual).  What you are doing is recommending this to Google search.  They will get a better idea of what is relevant and then they can do a better job indexing sites both for your benefit and for others.  The more people start using Google+, the better off everyone will be.  The only thing to remember is that the first time you click the badge, you will have to initially sign up for Google +.  It only takes a second and I think it will be worth it for you.

why i love google+, why you should join google+, how google plus works

Why is Google+ good for bloggers?
Google Plus is still kind of the Wild West of social networking.  I feel more free to experiment and see what people like.  With Facebook, I'm terrified to post too often for fear of people dropping off.  With Google+, it's harder to unlike someone and since everyone is getting the hang of it, it's less likely that people will unlike you.  The main advantage of course, is that it will improve your Google ranking.  You must display the badge on your main page for Google to see the code.

So, please feel free to start +1ing everyone!  I know I will!!

Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  You can also enter your email address below to receive all my updates!  I really appreciate your support!!

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Painting rocks and How it Helps Daddy

Painting Rocks With Little Kids
One Thursday afternoon I had a surprising realization.  I hadn't seen Hubby since Monday night...that's three days.  It might seem logical that he was out of town but he wasn't.  He was living the glorious life of a surgical resident with crazy hours.  The poor kids were begging to see him.  The problem is, when he does finally walk in the door after being gone for 3 days, the kids go WILD.  They run around the house screeching at the top of their lungs.  They hit each other and laugh and then fall down, then screech again.  Then they hit Daddy and run away, laughing.  They hang on his neck and yank his ears.  Really, they act just like the dogs.  We know they'll be fine after a few minutes, but those first couple of minutes can be excruciating, especially for a poor tired Hubby with a headache.  Don't get me wrong.  It's cute, but it can be a lot to take.

With that in mind, I decided to come up with a couple of projects that we can be working on when he comes home, so that he can be involved, but their energy will be directed to something positive.  I knew Hubby wouldn't be too intrigued with My Little Pony crafts, but I did find one recently that was right up his alley: Painting rocks.  My kids adore collecting rocks.  This is what Munchkin Girl's bike looks like all the time.

how to keep kids busy with a rock collection, little kids,

Not only do they love to collect them, they love to throw them in ponds, put them in purses, pretty much anything you can do with a rock is A-Ok with my kids.  So, I pulled out the paint and we spent almost an hour one day painting those rocks.

Little Buddy has been painting since he was only an 18 month toddler.  I started him off doing it much younger than Munchkin Girl because he saw Big Sis doing painting and I think that's why he's so good at holding the paintbrush.  He's only two, and he holds the brush almost better than Big Sis (who is almost four).

Sensory learning for smarter kids, painting rocks is a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers

If we want to keep these rocks and have them decorate our garden (Ha, like I have time for a garden!), we can just spray them with acrylic to make the paint last.

Now when Hubby comes home tonight, we'll be all ready to welcome him home, with a nice cheap craft, with hopefully very little high-pitched screaming.

One quick note: Will you do me a favor?  I am learning more about Google and apparently it helps them if you tell them what you like.  That way, when people search for things like crafts for kids, etc., they are more likely to find my posts.  Soooo...if you liked this post and think others might like it, click the button below that looks like this.  You are basically "recommending" this for Google.  It really helps me too!
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Did you enjoy my post?  Don't forget to vote for me by clicking the banner below.  I really appreciate your support!!  You can also sign up to receive my posts via email.  Just put your email address below and you'll start getting emails every time I post.

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