Friday, March 29, 2013

That's How I Know It's Been A Good Day.

For the better part of today, the toddler has been running around the house saying, "Honey, wee-you ree-yax?" followed by a rather dramatic, dejected sigh. If I wasn't mistaken, he even nailed the eye roll that accompanies that apparently oft-declared sentiment. 

I laugh to myself, a little bit because he's right, I do need to relax and a little bit more because it's nice to know that what I say all day isn't necessarily falling on deaf ears despite it feeling that way. 

I'm struggling today, still feeling a little under the weather from the plague that struck our house earlier this week but also my mothering could use a pick me up. Having just clicked "buy" on our second OnDemand movie for the day only minutes before happily having handed over a desired request for "not two, mama, but three cookies," complete with show of fingers. 

Today I'm all about survival and I'll be damned if I let the kids win. It is evident that Brave is not a hit in our house as I can hear the boys fighting over the iPad that one of them must've pulled from the deep crevices of the family room sectional. If only they knew how privileged they really are, watching one paid-for movie on a TV that hangs in our living room, arguing over streaming another on their portable tablet. 

Although we don't do anything outrageous for Easter, I completely dropped the ball on procuring small gifts for the boys' Easter baskets. I was so wrapped up with leaving their goodie bags before my trip last week that I completely overlooked their empty baskets sitting on the server in our living room. One basket is even lacking someone's name. How's that for planning?

Thankfully at the rescue of one of those second-day shipping online baby and kid meccas, I was able to order their books, bubbles and puzzles and come Sunday morning they will be none the wiser. The Easter Bunny may have even thrown in a Big Wheel for a certain dejectedly sighing toddler. 

Tugging at the hem of my black yoga pants is the baby. I scoop him up into my lap and let's just say it's taking me far too long to type this single paragraph. I close my eyes as I inhale his sweet baby smell, sucking in tiny baby hairs and letting them tickle my lips. 

His head smells like spit and that's when I know it's been a good day. I look over at the toddler, curled up on the couch with a dump truck, fishing goldfish crackers from it's dump trailer and I call him over to me. For what it's worth I absolutely had to look up "what's the dump part of a dump truck called?" 

He quickly jumps up, bounces over the cushions  and I wince as he effortlessly swings one leg, then the other, tossing his little body over the back of the couch. He climbs up onto the chair that precariously withstands the weight of both myself and his brother and I try to be discreet as I bury my nose in his head. 

I hope he never outgrows this and I know that is foolish of me to believe. 

And that's when I find it. That sweet spot behind his ear that smells like spit. I've done my job. 

Another day, another two little boys whose heads smell sweetly of far too many kisses. That's how I know it's been a good day. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stomach Flu Baby Hot Potato?

Do you know how many commercials are on TV for pizza? Literally at any given hour there are at least five. So many, in fact, that I could die happy if I never saw nor ate another pizza again. 

Even as I type this my toddler is mimicking the sound one makes when one vomits. He can't quite understand why I kind of want to punch him in the face each time he does it. Perhaps it's because each time that he does I can feel the bile rising in my own throat. 

It all started with my husband. The shakes, that cold clammy sweat you break out into before you're about to get to know the toilet on a level deeper than anyone should know a porcelain bowl and shortly after midnight on Monday, to the sound of tiny little gags outside of our bedroom door, it had quickly claimed the toddler. 

Of course I felt terrible for my husband but there is nothing quite as heartbreaking as watching your two and a half year old whimper and heave while half asleep. It had been exactly one year since a 24-hour bug had claimed our family, to the day. Not exactly an anniversary I want to remember let alone celebrate.

I haven't slept on a bathroom floor since college and it's just as uncomfortable as I remember. This last restroom sleepover, however, didn't involve a theme party and a bit too much Jungle Juice, although I will say the hangover that stuck around afterwards feels roughly the same.  

By six in the morning my husband and I were passing the baby back and forth between all too frequent trips to the bathroom. "Honey, quick. Take him!" "Babe, grab the baby!" 

My poor sweet husband. He was so concerned about getting our toddler to throw up in the bowl. What a rookie. Isn't that why we registered for 12 sets of bath towels when we got married over 5 years ago? 

I think it's time for some new towels. 

In case you're wondering what it looks like to throw up for six hours, sleep on a bathroom floor and then sleep roughly 18 out of 24 hours the following day, I've taken it upon myself to share this picture with you. My house is a mess, there is far too much vomit-laundry to be done and I can't even think about leaving the house. 

Apparently the stomach flu is currently a county epidemic. If you need us, we'll be holing it up in our house until summer. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Am Hair-Impaired.

I am hair-impaired. Truly. There are only three ways I can style my hair and they've been my style go-to's since roughly the sixth grade. The messy bun, which I credit to my years spent in an all-girl's Catholic high school, the top knot, which is basically a tighter messy bun, and loose curls achieved the "lazy way," with a set of hot rollers. It's true. I'm a spaz when it comes to brandishing a curling iron. 

I'm ashamed to admit that I would need to watch a YouTube video to learn how to create a sexy pony tail but I needed another style to add to my meager repertoire. I can't imagine what my husband must think when he comes home from work each night and my hair is in the same boring style. I swore I never wanted to be that person who wore her hair the same way every single but lo and behold, I have become her. 

This quick video demonstrates how to achieve the perfect "sexy pony tail" with nothing but a simply elastic, a bobby pin and a little misting spray. Curling iron suggested, not required. Thank god. 

Sweeps rules:
Prizes & Promotions page on

Tell me, do you have a go-to hair style?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Top 6 Blissdom Takeaways

For me, Blissdom was a very different experience this year. I can vividly remember arriving home after last year's conference feeling so convicted, jazzed up and prepared with the right tools to grow my blog, get to know my readers better and share my story in a way that was authentic, honest and engaging. 

I arrived home on a post-conference high that lasted months as I set about to become the writer I wanted to be. It was my first time attending a blogging conference of any sort and my experience was priceless. It was because of last year's conference that I knew I wanted to return this year.

This year I left with a different feeling that I can't quite put my finger on. Based on my experience this year, I'm not sure I would consider going back for another year. There wasn't necessarily a conference high or even a buzz going as I walked away from the hotel, ready to climb into the shuttle that would begin my journey home. 

My experience this year may also have something to do with the place I am in with I Love You More Than Carrots. I'm not looking to make any lofty changes to this space, other than a contemplative move to WordPress. I'm comfortable with my voice and how I write and so I wasn't necessarily walking away with the same takeaways as the previous year. Perhaps that's why the post-conference high wasn't much more than a mere fizzle. 

Sadly, I was disappointed in a few of the breakout sessions, namely the one that I had been most looking forward to sitting in on. With that being said, there were a few speakers whose words continue to ring in my ears even as I sit typing this and I learned much from a few of my favorite writers in between sessions, in the hallways of the hotel and at dinners. 

In no particular order, here are my Top 6 Takeaways from Blissdom 2013:

6. Don't read what you want to write. Then it becomes a comparison game and comparison never wins. 

Jeff Goins brought up an interesting point. Don't read what you want to write or else you will find yourself constantly comparing. Did you want to write something similar? Maybe you feel that someone else wrote it better or that they already wrote it so it doesn't bear repeating even in your own voice. Don't do that to yourself. You want to write fiction? Read non-fiction. You want to write about motherhood? For the love, do not read other parenting blogs when brainstorming your pieces. 

5. Multi-tasking is a myth.

This was one of the first things Megan Jordan touched on in her breakout session "Uninterrupted Thought: The Power of Focus." I learned that when trying to multi-task just two tasks, your IQ drops 10 points. What's even funnier is that as I sit and type this I have no less than 7 internet browser tabs open. I might as well be a mumbling idiot at this point. 

In all seriousness though, when trying to sit down and write, shut it down. Turn off the wireless if you need to. Stop checking Twitter, scheduling tweets in HootSuite and waiting for that number to change in your email inbox. This is something I need to work on.  

4. Perfectly big hair. Forget incessant back-combing.

Okay, I learned this one from my roomate, Jennifer. I was not born in the south, raised near the south nor did I really ever know anyone from the south until I was in college. I blame being born and raised in the land of the New Jersey Housewives on this one and although I've perfected the Snookie poof, I've unsuccessfully watched YouTube video after YouTube video trying to achieve the perfect back-combed tease. 

Until Jen introduced me to this product, Big Sexy Hair Powder Play. All weekend I received compliments on my hair and I must confess that it was all thanks to this powder, my brilliant Southern roommate and the multiple times each day that we would stop back into the room to curl/fluff our hair.   

3. Twitter is for conversations, not dictations. The secret to being social is to talk with people not at them.

Bless that Scott Stratten. Use Twitter for conversations not constant marketing plugs. If you only tweet about giveaways, blog posts you've written and things that are constantly "me! me! me!" people will not like you. Interact. Engage. Twitter is a two-way street. 

2. #Latergram doesn't mean #lamegram. Experience the moment first, socialize it later. Be present.

Another golden tidbit from the lovely Megan Jordan. I wrote last year about finding balance between savoring moments with my kids and struggling to find time to write. Although I get better with achieving this balance each day, I am always a work in progress and need reminding. 

It was once assumed that when hash-tagged pictures "#latergram" on Instagram, the service wasn't being used properly as people were expected to share photographic evidence of their lives in the now. Megan brought up a good point. Be present in the moment. Savor it. Who cares if you post it later? Just because it wasn't documented at the exact moment it happened didn't mean it didn't occur.  

1. Don't be a jerk.

I tweeted about wanting to tuck Jon Acuff into my pocket and carry him around with me for all time. He is witty, brilliant, captivating, comedic, endearing- I could go on. He brought up a good point, one that you don't think needs mentioning, let alone repeating. Something that many of us should have learned a long time ago. 

Don't be a jerk, especially online. He even wrote an article about "How To Not Be A Jerk Online" and if you're wondering how to not be a jerk online he includes great pointers like the following:

1. Don't publicly announce you're unfollowing people on Twitter. 
2. Don't argue with someone anonymously. 
3. Don't mock people, even if you're blanketing the mockery with humor. It isn't funny.

In the short year and a half that I've been on Twitter, I've been guilty of two those. I don't do anonymity because a) that's lame and b) I don't have time to create a false persona to hide behind, I have enough trouble keeping up with my real one. But I've done those things because I thought it was "cool" to do them. I mean, everyone else was doing it, why shouldn't I? But you know what? That's stupid and people who do those things need to check themselves and find something better to do with their time. 

He sums up the article with this, "The Internet is full of jerks right now. Anyone can be a jerk. You want to stand out and be original and represent... grace." I hate to end this post with a quote from someone else but he just says it so damn well.

So there it is. My top 6 takeaways from Blissdom 2013. Will I return again next year? It's too soon to tell. Am I glad that I went? Yes. There is always something to be learned. 

The Social Fast.

First it's Twitter and then Instagram, quickly followed by Facebook. Sometimes I scroll through an entire lapsed feed, sometimes I weed through and catch up with certain users. On a good morning, Google Reader is next and this is all before my feet touch the floor in the morning. All before I've had a chance to say good morning to my kids. Ouch.

Sometimes I'll catch myself scrolling through my Twitter feed, not even reading the tweets but feeling the urge to scroll and scroll and scroll some more as if swiping my thumb across the screen of my iPhone is somehow fulfilling. 

To fast is to abstain from food, or to limit one's food intake. You're probably most familiar with fasting when it is related to the consumption of food before a surgery or during a religious observance. I'm challenging myself to a different kind of fast. 

I'm challenging myself to take The Social Fast. To give up Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the week. As a stay-at-home mom in the throes of a winter that just won't quit, this is going to be harder than I believe some of you imagine. Some days Twitter is my only connection to adult conversation but the Twitter that I've been privy to lately is not a Twitter that I wan't to be a part of anyway. I'm hoping this makes my reprieve easier. 

I know I'm going to miss out on some things. Babies being born, breakfasts being had, perhaps even a few political rants and most of all, catching up with a few of my favorite long distance friends. For that I apologize in advance. 

I think cutting myself off from Instagram will be the hardest as it has easily become my most favorite sharing tool. But all of this sharing and peeking and liking and tweeting in on others' lives is exhausting especially on the heels of the blogging conference Blissdom. 

I will still be here writing and sharing through the blog after all, I can't just quit it all cold turkey and what else am I going to do with all of the pictures I take of the kids? But if you're feeling a bit too plugged in lately, feel free to take The Social Fast with me. 

I need a break as I have become way too dialed in. Way too dialed into the lives of people that I don't even know.

I have a feeling this is going to be harder than even I anticipate. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Detest Flying. Especially Now That I Have Kids.

I sat in Gate B looking at the people taking their seats around me, waiting for the call to board. There is a single carry-on seated at my feet, stuffed with snacks, a book (a book! with real pages!) and various other in-flight necessities. I wonder, “What is it with people and congregating around the gate podium before boarding? I notice a man standing there, grasping his boarding pass, a pass that clearly displays Zone 6 and I’m fairly certain they’re still boarding the privileged first class suits.

I have a LOST moment as I glance from face to face wondering if these would be the last faces I saw should the plane fall from the sky in a ball of fire and metal shards. Morbid? Indeed but the truth is, I hate flying. The only thing I hate more than flying is dentists. Nothing personal, really. I don’t hate the person so much as the experience of having someone poke around in my mouth with sharp primitive-like tools. But flying? I’d rather not, especially since I had my two boys.

I hate flying so much that I woke up at 4am and drove two hours to an airport just so that I could fly direct to my destination. After all, I once heard that the majority of plane crashes occur on taking off and landing. For me, the least amount of times I could do either of those things and arrive at my destination seemed the only way to go. A 4am wake-up call and two hour drive north was nothing if it lessened my chances of hurtling towards the ground as gravity ripped my limbs from my body.

I hardly slept last night. Between the anticipation of travel and having to pump and feed the baby once or twice, I think I managed only two or three hours of really good REM. I kissed the foreheads of all three of my boys before I left this morning. The toddler and my husband both sweaty as they slept and the baby, curled up next to my husband, whimpered as he opened his eyes to see me leaving.

I know the boys will do just fine without me while I’m gone. After all, I called in the reinforcements of my parents and I’m confident they know better than to tell me if anything goes awry while I’m away. They’ll send me happy text messages and pictures of the boys and it won’t be until I’m safely back home with them that they’ll fill me in on any mishaps or blunders along the way. They know me too well.

I know they’ll all be just fine. After all, I left them meticulously detailed schedules taped to the fridge and even labeled sock drawers and pajamas drawers and left notes around the house where they could find certain beloved things like blankets and favorite puzzles. Of course I also picked up a few new toys for the boys to open each day that I’m away, hopefully distracting them from not only my absence but also from terrorizing the house, a skill they have mastered impeccably well.

It makes me nauseous, leaving them but I know it’s a necessary thing and good for everyone involved. They need to realize how awesome of a parent their Dad is (who knew he could pour milk and make scrambled eggs too?) and I need a few days away to remember what it’s like to not be just Mom all day every day.
It’s a strange thing, this being excited to spend a long weekend away with your Internet friends. To spend hours learning the in’s and out’s of creating a brand, sharing your story, remaining authentic.  It’s something only bloggers (and, on a good day, their significant others) could understand. For lack of a better word, it’s truly awesome.

I’m sitting here in seat 12C writing this with the hum of the engine turbines in my ears and a dull drone of conversation reverberating around me. No one wants anything from me. Not a drink, not a snack, not to watch a Thomas “moobie” with the “remope.” It’s as uncomfortable as it is nice. I sure do miss that soft little toddler voice stumbling over the “V” consonant sound and watching the baby’s head pop up again and again as he pulls himself up to stand at the couch where the toddler is vrooming his trains. I like this kind of quiet but it only makes me miss them more.

 I know once my feet hit the ground in Dallas I will be busy. So busy greeting old and new friends, networking, laughing, story-telling and maybe for a minute I will forget about that which I left back home.
Until then, however, I’ll occasionally dip my hand into that single carry-on that sits at my feet, my fingers searching for and finding the softness of a little boy’s lovie that each time I rub its spit-stiffened corners between my fingers, I am reminded of what, more importantly who, is waiting for me back home.       

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Finding My Bliss, Thanks To Dr. Smith's Diaper Cream!

In case you haven't heard, I'll be returning to this year's Blissdom blogging conference in Dallas, Texas. I am beyond excited to return and connect with friends both old and new and learn as much as I can about the crazy world of blogging. 

While I'm rushing around like a mad woman, pay no mind to the fact that I'm only half-packed and my day starts at 4am tomorrow, I wanted to take a minute and say a giant THANK YOU to Dr. Smith's Diaper Rash Ointment for making it possible for me to return to Blissdom this year. Well, and for taking such great care of my babies' tushies.

Dr. Smith's has put forth a huge effort sponsoring this year's conference and they have so many exciting events for the coming days in Dallas. I am so excited to be working with them as a Brand Ambassador. 

Want to know a little bit about Dr. Smith's? After all, they've been solving diaper rash troubles for over half a century! Parents all over have relied on Dr. Smith’s to prevent and treat diaper rash. The product was developed by pediatricians, adopted by moms, and recommended by pharmacists. At even the slightest hint of pink, I just rub a little on each of my boys' bottoms and it soothes and protects their sensitive skin. Dr. Smith’s is even safe to use with cloth diapers!

If you'll be in Dallas with me, be sure to stop by the Dr. Smith's booth for some sweet relief! If you're sitting home unable to attend this year's Blissdom conference, be sure to following along with Dr. Smith's for the chance to win some really fantastic prizes! 

I'm ready to find my bliss again! See you in Dallas! Be sure to follow along with me on Twitter and Instagram as well as fellow Brand Ambassador, Jen, as we share our next few days with you!

Mac Allen :: Happy Nine.

Dear Smackers, 

This last month has been an absolute whirlwind for you, Maclane! To sum it up you are doing more, saying more, moving more and eating more! I guess the theme of month 9 would be "more" if there ever was one! 

I feel like both you and your brother are at an age that I absolutely adore. At 31 months he is a compassionate, energetic, talkative little boy and at nine months you not only are on the move but you are "talking," laughing and showing us all your feisty personality. Not a day goes by that you both don't have your Daddy and I in absolute stitches. 

Maclane, you are growing by absolute leaps and bounds. You love to explore and are an ace at getting into anything and everything. You absolutely love to crawl up and down the step between our family room and kitchen and once you've climbed up into the kitchen you make a beeline for your favorite spot, the drawer beneath the oven. 

You are a crawling machine. You quickly turned from army crawl to the full-on baby crawl earlier this month and never looked back. It was only within the last week or so that you started pulling yourself up to a standing position in your crib, the pack and play and on every single stationary object in our house- including but not limited to the couch, laundry baskets, the kitchen cabinets and you've even tried to stand up on Sheepie. You are fearless. 

Because of your newest trick we finally lowered your crib to the lowest setting where it will stay until it's time to move you to a big boy bed. We also moved you on up to the big boy convertible car seat. You whine for a minute whenever we go to sit you in it but the minute the car is moving, you're as happy as a lark. 

I feel like I blinked and we arrived at this spot in time. I don't know where the time goes. 

You babble and shriek and yell all day long. I can tell the minute your brother has taken something away from you because you begin to yell/whine at him. Immediately I have visions of you stealing his toys as you both grow, your sensitive older brother running to me to tattle. I can't help but laugh. 

You and your brother love each other so much. Your eyes light up the minute he enters the room and he loves nothing more than to run over to you and wrap you in a giant bear hug which to most onlookers appears to be more of a headlock. I have always loved watching you two grow together and I would be lying if I said this wasn't one of the things I look most forward to in the future. You will never have another friendship like the one you will find in your brother. Please don't ever lose each other. 

After months of offering you purees only to have you turn your nose at them and refuse to eat them, I threw in the towel and started giving you whatever it was that the rest of us were eating. Maclane, since we started this you have never once looked back. You will eat anything and everything placed in front of you so long as it isn't mush. I've been documenting your food adventures with #maceats on Instagram.

This month you've nommed on mangoes, baked apples and peaches, blueberries, banana, sweet potato, carrots, green peas, green beans, broccoli, pasta, vanilla yogurt, coconut yogurt, pancakes, scrambled eggs and meatballs. Speaking of meatballs, your Daddy has taken to calling you his "Little Meatball" for weeks now and I just love it. 

There is not a single tooth in sight although your brother had four by this month! You also love Puffs and Mum-Mums as if they're going out of style.

You've mastered two of my favorite baby milestones this month. Not only do you clap your hands when we say "yay!" but you started waving! I cannot get enough of that silly little baby wave. The kind where you turn your hand in towards your face, wave and watch it open and close. 

You are obsessed with bath time. For a while we had been bathing you every other day in the tub with your brother and on the nights that Carter would get a bath and you would not, you would protest and fuss and kick your legs like we were withholding food from you. You are a fish in that tub, Maclane. Splashing, trying to crawl, flipping over onto your belly. Aside from nursing, I would venture to say it's your favorite time of day.

Just like your brother at this age, you've started taking only one 60 minute nap per day. I will admit that this scares me a little since your brother has never been fond of sleeping during the day. As it is, he gave up his naps for good around 28 months and I fear that we may be on the same path. 

You're still sleeping in our bed overnight but we've started putting you down in your crib until the first time you wake up to eat. I usually bring you into bed with us around 3am where you'll sleep perpendicular between your Daddy and me until around 7 or 7:30am. 

For nine months we have exclusively nursed. This deserves a whole post of it's own but I have grown to love this time with you so, so much. I'm so proud of us. 

I'm about to leave you for the very first time overnight, something I didn't do with your brother until he was 18 months old. I know you and your brother will be in very capable and loving hands with your Daddy, Gammy and Poppy but I can't help but hope and pray that I don't regret my decision for a minute. Know that I will miss you both terribly though while I am gone, mister! 

You are wearing size 4 diapers, size 5 diapers overnight and 12-18 month clothes, 18 month tops and 12-18 month bottoms. At your last pediatrician visit you were 26.5" long and weighed 22lbs. and that was over a month ago. Your eyes are brown as well as your hair which is growing at a rapid pace. Most recently we noticed that the back ends will begin to curl after your bath and you sprout wings above your ears. I don't know what I'll do if you end up with curly hair like your brother! Perhaps I might just keel over from the cuteness of it all. 

You especially love your brother, your sheepdog, eating, stroller walks, waving, bubbles, crawling around the house after your brother, bananas, this giggling creepy turtle toy and pulling up to stand on whatever will bear your weight.

There really isn't a whole lot you don't like, Mac! If I had to pick one thing, it would be bottles. Okay and purees. But other than that you are such a delightful, mellow little man. 

Nicknames: Meatball, Mackie, Smackers, MacAttack, Mac-a-doodle. Your brother insists on calling you "Baby" and only "Baby."

Happy Nine Months, Maclane Allen! 
We love your guts! Love, Mommy Daddy Carter and Sheepie.

How To Mute Hashtags On Mobile Twitter Apps.

There's an app for that! Whether it be blog conference talk, fashion week chit-chat, nightly television spoilers or even just that one annoying virtual friend who won't shut the heck up, there are going to be times when you want to be able to mute certain hashtags, keywords or users on Twitter, making them disappear from your feed. 

Whether you're an Android or iOS user, I've taken just a few minutes to outline some of the available mobile apps that easily allow you to accomplish this task. Some are free, some are not but the real question is, is your sanity worth $3?

Twitter client TweetDeck offers a way to filter out the hashtag. 
1. In TweetDeck, click on the gear icon in the top right hand corner and click on “Settings”
2. Select “Global Filter.”
3. In the “Using” field, type in the hashtag you wish to mute. For example #Blissdom.
4. Hit “Add filter” and voila! Muted. After adding the filter, you can also always choose to remove it.
Mobile apps that block hashtags or users 
There are also a variety of mobile apps you can download that will let you mute hashtags, actual users, as well as certain keywords.
TweetCaster: One of the few apps available for both Android and iOS that offers a filtering feature. To use the mute option, search for {insert your hashtag here} and then select the “Zip It” option. If you want to see the tweets again, you can “UnZip” them any time.
Echofon: I believe there is a beta version of this for Android users and I've personally used it before on iOS. This app allows you to mute specific users as well as keywords.
For Android Users
UberSocial: While UberSocial is available for iOS, the mute feature is only available on BlackBerry and Android devices. To use this option, click into the UberSocial menu and select “Mute User.” Click the drop down button on the left and tap the tags icon. Type in your desired hash tag, click the play button and you're done!
Twicca: Muting in this free app for Android is relatively simple. Go into Settings and select “Mute settings.” In the “Mute by containing words” field, type in your desired hash tag. Tap the check mark and you’re done.
For iPhone Users
Both Tweetbot and Tweetlogix have muting options. In Tweetbot, you do this by double clicking on the hashtag and selecting the mute option. The app costs $2.99 in Apple’s App Store.
Tweetlogix has a whole Filters section, where you type in the keyword or user you want to be muted. You can also mute retweets. It is $1.99 in the App Store.

Celebrating Spring By Giving Away Something Every Kitchen Needs

KitchenAid mixer giveaway
Today is the first day of spring!! To celebrate, Newlywed Moments and friends are giving away a KitchenAid Mixer! 

Why? Because it's a kitchen must-have. I love my mixer and bust it out at least once a week although now that I'm seeing this pretty little white one, I'm thinking my candy apple red one needs a makeover.  

In celebration of the start of Spring, one lucky reader will win this white KitchenAid Classic Series 4.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand MixerRules: Giveaway is open to U.S. readers only. The winner will be verified, so please enter honestly. The winner will be notified by email on 3/27/13 and will have 24 hours to respond. Good Luck!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You Asked, I Answered! Everything From Future Babies, To Travel, Working and More!

A few days ago, I posted on the ILYMTC Facebook page that I thought it might be fun to do a quick little "Q&A" post as I get ready to leave for Blissdom in Dallas this week and a few of you out there thought up some really great questions! In just eight questions I touched on everything from my old job as a nurse to a typical day in our life to favorite vacation spot and the dreaded "B" word..."budgets!" And if you read through to the end of this post, you might be in for real a treat!

You asked and I answered...

"Do you miss working as a nurse?" - Sarah from Nurse Loves Farmer

Yes! But not enough to go back, how's that? The truth is, I had an incredible job back when we were living in Pennsylvania at an outpatient chemotherapy clinic. It was the kind of job with the kind of coworkers that you dream of having. I loved that job so much and was so sad to leave. In fact, I'm pretty sure I mourned leaving that job (at six months pregnant when we decided to move to Maryland) for a solid year after doing so. My license is currently inactive and I have roughly two and a half more years before I have to decide what to do- begin putting working hours towards it or let is slide and risk having to re-test years down the road if and when I do decide to return. I think about this decision at least once per week but I just don't know what I'll do. Sometimes I think about becoming a school nurse but it's difficult to find work within just a single school- nowadays you're likely to work as a nurse between two or three schools in a specific district. Who knows... 

"How many kids do you want? Has that number changed after two?" - Katie

I actually wrote about this very topic a few weeks after I had Maclane. I always thought we would be done after two kids as I had never pictured myself having more than that. I never dreamt of having a large family and grew up with a (awesome) little brother so two kids always seemed like the perfect amount. And then we had Maclane and as I started packing away his newborn clothes, I broke down in tears in the middle of the nursery and I just had this feeling that it couldn't be the last time I did that. You can read the post here. 

"Since you guys have traveled, what is your favorite place you've ever been?" - Lori

My favorite destination to which we've traveled is most definitely Turks and Caicos. My husband and I planned a trip there back in 2009 and we both agree it was the most beautiful, relaxing, pristine beach we had ever been to. I would like to think that says a lot considering we've been to Hawaii, Aruba, The Caymans, the Bahamas and Bermuda. We loved it so much that we've even entertained buying property there as part of our "Life Goals." Lofty, indeed, but on the more realistic end of things we're hoping to make it back there once more this year for my 30th birthday. 

"What is your plan when you leave for Blissdom? Will Mac go to his own room? Do you think you'll have more kiddos and if so, will the be as close in age as C and M? - Blair

This question makes me break out into a cold sweat. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous as to how this will all pan out but I have faith in my husband and my parents who will be here with the boys to lend an extra set (or two) of hands! I doubt my husband will sleep with Maclane in our bed while I am gone- but I would venture to say it all depends on how their nights go! I'm sure my husband will start out with putting him in his crib and go from there. I'm hoping Maclane goes easy on them or else it will be a long three and a half days! 

I touched on the subject of having more babies above and as much as I feel pulled to have another there are definitely some days where the promise of sleep and no more diapers is definitely tempting. I always imagined I would be done having babies by age 30 and if we stopped now, I would be living my dream, I guess? But who knows. I do know that I don't want to be pregnant when I turn 30 but I also don't want to be pregnant with my third at 35.  We'll just have to wait and see what the end of this year holds! 

"A day in the life of the M's.. what's your daily schedule like? Do you want to go back to work when the kiddos are older?" - Grace

7:30am: Carter wakes up and stands at his doorway behind the baby gate and starts yelling "Mama? Help me? Mama? You there? Baby? Come here baby! Sheepie! I need Sheepie" at the top of his lungs. I usually let him yell for about 5 minutes before I stumble out of bed and downstairs for a small cup of juice and the iPad. By now he's woken the baby up and so I climb back into bed to nurse the baby while he plays a game or watches a movie for twenty minutes. 

8:00am: I change the boys out of the jammies (most mornings) and we all wander downstairs where I start getting breakfast ready. Usually it's waffles or pancakes for Carter and me along with some fruit that Mac enjoys too. On mornings that my husband didn't leave early for the gym, he's already brewed coffee which I've probably had 2 mugs of by now.

8:30-10:00: Play time. This usually means we're all downstairs in the playroom playing with the train table, reading books, doing puzzles, etc. 

10:30am: I nurse the baby and lay him down for a nap. From 10:30-11:30am the baby naps and Carter and I have an hour of "school" where we do flashcards and work on letters and numbers. His attention span usually gives way after forty minutes but I try to push him for an hour. 

11:00am-12:30am: If I have to run errands, which most of the time I do, I run them now. Food shopping, post office, dry cleaners, etc. 

12:30-1:30pm: Return home, nurse the baby and prep lunch. 

2:15-3:00pm: On Thursdays we have story time at the library. If it's a nice day, we walk to the park. If it's not a nice day and we're stir crazy, occasionally I'll take the boys to the nearby Bounce House and let Carter run off some steam. 

3:00-4:00pm: Mandatory quiet hour. Since Carter no longer naps, this is absolutely necessary so that I don't lose my ever-loving mind. Usually I'll let him sit up in his room with books, puzzles and a few toys but some days he'll ask to watch Dora or Thomas and I'll let him sit downstairs and do this while Mac sits in his Pack N Play and I quickly catch up on some emails.

4:00-5:00pm: I nurse the baby and plop him in his high chair with a snack and let Carter down into the playroom while I prep dinner, clean up the house, vacuum, mop, etc. Typically whatever house chore is absolutely in dire need of being completed that day. 

6:00pm-6:30pm: Carter eats dinner.

6:45pm/7:00pm: My husband gets home from work, we eat a quick dinner together and as soon as we're done, he takes the boys upstairs for bath time. 

7:20pm-7:50pm: The boys are upstairs in the bath, I'm downstairs in the playroom straightening up and checking emails. Occasionally I'll try and write a blog post while the boys are in the bath. 

8:00pm: Carter goes down to bed after a story and some milk, I nurse the baby and my husband puts the baby down to bed. 

8:30-11:00pm: Kid-free adult time. My husband and I usually catch up on the DVR or just sit on the couch and stare at each other. 

11:00pm-12:00am: My husband goes up to bed and I sit down at the computer to write. The baby usually wakes up at midnight for a "snack" so I nurse him and lay him back down in his crib. I head to bed around 12:30am

2:00am or 3:00am: The baby wakes up to eat, I grab him from his crib and bring him back to our bed to nurse him. 

7:00am: The baby wakes to nurse and some mornings I'm able to lay him back to sleep in his crib for another hour. 

7:30am: Carter wakes up for the day with a resounding, "Mama? Help me? Mama? You there? Baby? Come here baby! Sheepie! I need Sheepie..."

And I wonder why I'm so exhausted. 

As for wanting to go back to work once the kids are older? I doubt I will. Growing up my mom always threw herself into our school activities whether she served on the PTA board or as class mom and that's something I really want to do for my boys when they're older. I hope they'll also have tons of extracurricular activities that I'll be shuttling them back and forth from. I'm hoping I won't have any time to work but who knows- I may just very well end up working on the weekends as an RN or as a school nurse in whatever school district they'll belong to! 

"How did you get into blogging, learn the ins and outs of blogging and subsequently have your blog become so successful?" - Jennifer

I started blogging back in December of 2008. It was on a whim and something that my now sister-in-law and her friend had encouraged me to do as they had just started their own blogs. Prior to that I had read a few blogs consistently (we're talking 3 or 4 daily during my lunch breaks at work) but hadn't given much thought to writing my own. I look back on my very first post and laugh. My voice has changed so much since then when I was writing as a semi-newlywed with a husband who traveled for business 5 days out of the week.

People write posts all the time about "How to Become A Successful (Mom) Blogger" and "Ways To Grow Your Blog" and to be honest, I've never read a single one although I'm sure they're super helpful. My biggest piece of advice for blogging is this: 1) Start a blog. 2) Write openly and honestly. 3) Network, network, network and by this, I mean, find similar bloggers in the same season of life as you are and get to know them through their blog. Read and comment, read and comment. For me? That was the most successful way to not only gain followers but to strike up real relationships with other bloggers. 

"On a scale of 1 to a great no-chip manicure (see, people really DO read those), how excited are you to see my face next week? Okay. Fine. Favorite Real Housewife, past or present?" - Heather from Cookies for Breakfast

15? Okay. Well, my favorite housewives have always been the Orange County housewives but we're talking the originals. Like Season One, originals. My favorite housewife for the longest time was Lauri and I did love me so Jo De La Rosa. The new season of the OC Crazies is just around the corner! I can't wait.

"From a fellow Mama who loves to shop for her kiddos, do you guys try to stick to a set budget for the kid's clothes each month or season?" - Jen

I have a monthly budget that I try my hardest to stick to for the boys and most months I do pretty well. I think what some people don't realize is that obviously I don't mind investing in Carter's clothing because it wears well, lasts long and Maclane, at only 23 months younger, will be able to wear it a year later. If any additional income comes my way whether through photography or freelancing, it usually goes to them as well. Do I absolutely blow the budget out of the water some months? Yes, especially when it's a new season and Carter needs clothes being the oldest. It's then that something else has to give- takeout, additional help around the house, Starbucks three times a week... 

Thanks so much to those of you who asked questions! Anything else you'd like to know? Feel free to leave a question in the comments section and I'll try and answer them while I'm away this week! 

Are you still here? Fantastic. Help me celebrate Brandi's blog and her recent 500th follower by entering this awesome "Spring Makeover" giveaway. Just check out the awesome prizes! It's a shame I can't enter- perhaps you'd want to share with me? Good luck and Congratulations, Brandi! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 18, 2013

Secrets Of A Once-Was New Mom

I was once a New Mom. As a New Mom, I worried about everything. Little things were big things and big things were even bigger things. I worried if my baby slept too much, was awake too long, wasn't eating enough, ate too much, was too hot, too cold, too happy and not happy enough. When I tell you I worried about everything, I'm not exaggerating in the slightest. As a New Mom, it's okay to worry but I want to take a minute and share a few secrets I've learned in the last thirty months to, at best, alleviate just one or two of those worries and reassure you, New Mom, that it's absolutely normal to worry so much with your first because when your second comes along? Some might think you don't worry enough.

Mom Secret Number One: 

You're not going to break the baby. I know it may seem that way what with their fragile little arms, wobbly necks and teeny tiny chicken legs. Even bringing home my 9 pound 10 ounce firstborn, I was sure that while trying to get him dressed for the 43rd time that day, I was going to break him. Babies are much sturdier than you think. I promise you aren't going to break them. Just think about how those nurses back in the hospital man-handled them during physical exams, baths and diaper changes. Don't drop them though. Babies do not bounce. 

Mom Secret Number Two: 

Everyone is going to tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. This sounds really nice in theory but when the baby sleeps you're going to want to shower. Pick up around the house. Maybe change your clothes. These are all very important tasks, no doubt, but be sure to rest. Those first few weeks of newborn-dom exhaustion are like no other. I can still recall nights where my husband was nearly delirious from lack of sleep, waking up in the middle of the night frantically searching the bed for the baby, afraid that he had smothered him, when the baby had been sleeping in the bassinet at our bedside all night long. Accept help and don't be afraid to delegate tasks around the house when family and friends offer. Does your dishwasher need unloading? Assign it to a willing visitor and curl up on the couch for thirty minutes. 

Mom Secret Number Three: 

I am a mom to two little boys. Very early on I learned that their boy parts can be rather sneaky when it comes to diapering. It's those sneaky parts that are the culprits of many-a-soaked pair of pajamas and what's worse, soaked crib sheets. One of the greatest secrets I learned as a New Mom is that once they're a bit past their newborn days (we're talking 10-12 weeks old) diapering them in a brand-specific "overnite" diaper in one size larger is not only a sanity saver but also a jammie and crib sheet saver. No more fussy wet babies waking in the middle of the night to endure the one-eyed, half-awake crib sheet change which is undoubtedly one of the trickiest parts of having a baby. 

Speaking of diapers and those precious little baby bottoms, from this experienced mom of two, I'm all about preventing diaper rash before it even has a chance to sneak up on those precious tiny heinies. One of my favorite tried and true products to use for this is Boudreaux's Butt Paste. I received our very tube of All Natural Boudreaux's Butt Paste in a gift basket of "must-haves" before I had my first baby. It's been more than two years since that day and I've been smitten ever since. 

With a trio of different remedies, All Natural, Original and Maximum Strength, Boudreaux's Butt Paste helps to not only prevent but also treat at the slightest hint of pink. I especially like its light scent and thick-but-not-too-thick-that-you-can't-wipe-if-off-when-you-need-to consistency. 

Already plagued with a pink heinie? Boudreaux's Butt Paste to the rescue. Diaper rash is a normal part of babyhood and with frequent dirty diapers, not to mention rubbing and chafing, it's easy for those tiny tushies to suffer. Boudreaux's Butt Paste understands this and has been helping moms battle the rash since the 70's, not only providing baby with comfort but also Mom with some peace of mind.

Take a peek at this video to see the "butt soothing powers" that Boudreaux's Butt Paste has against its evil arch nemesis "Rashadon."

Now that you know some of my secrets, tell me one of yours. How do you kick the dreaded diaper rash? What tips and tricks can you share to soothe your baby? Answer this question in the comments section below and enter to win a $100 Visa Gift card. Be sure to read through the rules for additional entries! Good luck! 

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion and/or to share the above video; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and/or the above video, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 3/18/13 - 4/15/13
Be sure to visit the Boudreaux's Butt Paste brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...