Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday, Carter!

"Mom, you a-ways have to wear your sun-creams on the beach."
"I a-ways need-a-wear my baby soup (bathing suit)."
"Can we please go downtown (downstairs) and play trains?" 

Dear Carter,

Sometimes it seems as if your brother is growing leaps and bounds right before our eyes  but its you, Carter, who is growing and changing every minute of the day. Your brother's changes are mostly physical and therefore easier to notice. He's growing rounder, running faster, his hair curling longer in ringlets along his neck. 

But you, you are growing up into such an incredible little boy with each passing minute of the day. It is almost unbelievable. Your changes, although some physical, are much more emotional, conversational. Blink and you might miss them.  

What was once a "hop-tooey" has quickly become a "helicopter," a "moco" is now a "motorcycle." I needed to write these things down before I forgot them as quickly as you corrected them. All on your own time, too, as I swore I would smack the person who tried to correct you, for fear of losing the cuteness of it all. I know it's only going to be a matter of days before you replace "downtown" with "downstairs," a thought that already makes my eyes water. 

My three year old. 
You love to sing. Your favorites right now are Twinkle Twinkle, Old MacDonald and the ABC's. When we're in the car, you always ask to hear "Rock Me, Mama," but not the original version. The better version sung by Darius Rucker. You are always singing to yourself, wherever you go.

When you burp you say, "Excuse you! Sorry." rather than "excuse me." You are quick to get dirty and do so without skipping a beat. You love bugs but loathe spiders, just like your mama. You are such a boy. Absolutely fearless, almost to a fault.

You know all the first names of our family members and I'm the only one you call "Ash" on occasion, instead of Mom. We can thank your Daddy for that one. Whenever we meet a new "friend" you're quick to introduce us all as "Mommy, Daddy, Mackie and Carter." You never leave out Sheepie, either, even when he's not with us. 

You stopped calling me Mommy months ago. Now I'm simply Mom. Or "Moooooooom" emphasis on the -om. You always say "please" and "thank you" which, more often than not, is usually just a "fanks!" 

You are my sweet boy. My loving and compassionate boy. My sensitive boy. You love your brother and your family with every little fiber of your three-year-old being. If someone is sad, you're quick to rush over, stroke their cheek and offer up a hug. You sweetly command them to, "Don't be sad. Please be happy!"

You are a horrible listener. And I'm talking horrible but I know that comes with the three year old territory. I'm waiting for the day when I'll wake up and you'll start following directions. Most days it makes me laugh, some days it drives me absolutely crazy but your silly personality and sweet little voice are quick to make up for it.

You love trains, trucks, fish sticks and chicken nuggets. You love ketchup more than anyone should and chasing your brother all throughout the house. You love helping me in the kitchen when I bake and your best job is mixing batter.  

You are such an incredible big brother. Better than I ever imagined you to be. What I mean to say is, I always knew you would be a great big brother. I just didn't think you would be capable of such esteem so early on, especially since you were only 23 months old when Maclane was born. But you are so, so awesome. Quick to help, quick to entertain. Quick to make him smile. Quick to love. 

It's been nothing short of amazing watching the two of you grow together and I love seeing what adventures each new day takes you on. He is so lucky to have you, Carter.  

I try not to get emotional about these things but my heart can't help but favor you. You were the one who made me Mama. You have taught me patience and strength, I never would have known without you. I love better because of you. You never, ever cease to amaze me.
I am so proud of you.

We're spending your third birthday at the beach which is exactly where you said you wanted to be. You also wanted "some trains, please" and as soon as we get home to Maryland, Bash, Dash and Ferdinand will be waiting on our doorstep to add your collection. Along with another little surprise from Maclane. It was all his idea, I swear. And your Daddy's. 

Happy birthday, Carterito. We love you more than carrots! 

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Squash, Feta and Tortellini Toss.

For the second summer in a row now, our backyard garden puts out monster squash and I'm constantly on the hunt for new recipes in which to use it. From boats to breads, soups and salads, there's only so much zucchini bread and squash boats a family of four can take! 

Thankfully, it was during a recent lull in couch-surfing and stair-diving that I had a few moments to look through one of my recent editions of Real Simple magazine where I stumbled on a delicious recipe for gnocchi and summer squash. 

You'll note that I altered this recipe a touch, mostly because I didn't have any gnocchi on hand and despite my alterations, this dinner was delicious! The perfect light and fresh meal for a warm summer evening on the deck!

What You’ll Need:

1 package frozen three cheese tortellini (about 20oz)
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper (to taste)
1 cup crumbled Feta (or more!)
2 large yellow squash, sliced into small to medium pieces
3 garlic cloves, diced

What You’ll Do:

Prepare tortellini as directed on package. While tortellini is cooking, generously coat a saute pan with olive oil and heat pan over medium-high heat. Toss in garlic and squash and season with salt and pepper. Let cook, tossing occasionally, until slightly browned on the edges, about 6-8 minutes. You want your squash to be cooked enough that it's crisp not mushy! Drain tortellini and toss with squash and Feta. Garnish with chopped basil and enjoy!

Edited to add: Even though both my husband I loved this meal, we did think of a few things we might add the next time around. Pancetta or even crumbled mild Italian sausage would taste divine. Maybe throw in a handful of fresh cherry tomatoes, too! We paired this dinner with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Yum!

Tell me, do you have any great recipes that include summer squash as the star? Judging by the size of this year's garden, I have a feeling I'm going to need to have a few more recipes on hand!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Postpartum Bellies, Babies, Bedding and More!


This has quickly become one of my favorite posts to write each week. It's like a brain dump but with a really cute button to go along with it. This week I'm talking about a myriad of things including but not limited to postpartum bellies, babies, bedding and beyond. Be sure to visit Darci's blog and check out the more than 200 other blogger's who take part in Five on Friday! 

FIVE: I am aghast at the negative comments I'm seeing surrounding the Duchess' postpartum body. Truly aghast. Let's get something straight- that girl who was probably in better shape before baby than I have ever been my entire life, just had a baby a mere twenty four hours prior to appearing in public. You want to know what a brand new mother's second worst nightmare is? Appearing in public the day following birthing your baby. 

I hate to burst the bubbles of those of you unfamiliar with childbirth. You walk out of the hospital looking six months pregnant, on a good day. What's worse? Your leftover belly isn't all firm and tight with baby inside. It's a soft, squishy, jiggly mess whose jiggle literally reverberates throughout your entire body every time you hit a bump on that maiden car ride home. Believe me, it's that awesome.

Rock on with your postpartum body, Duchess mama friend. You look phenomenal and I commend you for not hiding away until you regained your pre-baby figure like most celebrities in the public eye. 

FOUR. My poor, sweet sister-in-law. Bless her very pregnant heart. She's expecting her first baby, literally, any minute now. She's a few days past her due date and although I have no idea what it's like to be "overdue" I know exactly what it's like to be ferociously pregnant in the late July heat, wanting to see your baby's face so badly that it drives you temporarily insane. 

Each day that she posts a picture to Instagram, a flood of "advice" rolls in. "Do this, eat that, don't do this, do this but do it backwards. " I know that everyone's advice comes from a good place but I had to laugh at one point picturing her heeding everyone's advice while crawling up the stairs like a dog after having downed a smoothie mash up of castor oil, pineapple and spicy pad Thai only to do jumping jacks before hopping into bed with her husband. 

That said, this will be my very first nephew and I cannot wait to kiss his freshly baked cheeks. More so, I cannot wait to see my sister-in-law embrace her role as a mother, something she has wanted more than most anything in her life. She's on the precipice of joining one of the greatest "clubs" around and I'm just so excited for them. 

I do worry, however, about the vicious Baby Plague that will likely set in the minute I see my husband holding a brand new baby. Seeing myself above at 36 weeks pregnant with Carter does remind me how much I loathe pregnancy those last few weeks. 

THREE. I have been interrupted no less than forty-seven times while trying to write this post and I can't finish a single thought for the life of me. I'm sitting here trying to write while Maclane takes his morning nap and what I thought would pacify my other child long enough to sit down for some writing clearly isn't cutting it. I'm shamelessly contemplating pulling out the chocolate. 

TWO: Yesterday on what has become our weekly adventure to Target, I snagged this bedding set for an absolute steal. I was prepared to pay the $69.99 that I noted as I grabbed it from the shelf but was downright shocked when the cashier rung it up with a resounding, "it's your lucky day!" It turns out this 3-piece bedding set is on the verge of being discontinued so it had been marked down on clearance for a whopping $30. 

It is absolutely gorgeous and exactly what I've been looking for ever since we bought our house three years ago. I'm now on the hunt for a few accent pillows and as soon as I find what I'm looking for, I can confidently say that our master bedroom is finished! Well, if you don't count the crown molding that I've been bugging my husband to install. 

ONE. This little boy turns three on Tuesday. It sounds so cliche but I really can't believe it. I can't believe that we are parents to a three year old. Some days I feel like we really should know what we're doing by now but there are still moments, many moments, where my husband and I just look at each other all befuddled-like. I have a feeling we'll be having these moments even when the boys go off to college. I just love this boy so much. He continues to amaze me every single day!

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Operation: Ditch The Nunnie (Pacifier).

It was a spur of the moment decision. 

I laid down alongside you in bed, like I do most nights, and as you asked for your "usual's," Hippy, water and your beloved nunnie, I took a deep breath, prepared myself for ensuing toddler wrath and explained to you how I thought we may have left all of the nunnies at the beach house. That we didn't have any more nunnies in our house here. 

I waited. 

I waited for the tears and as your mouth turned down at the corners and tears began to prick your eyes, my heart began to ache. I quickly ran my fingers through your curly blonde hair and asked you not to be sad. I asked if you thought that perhaps you could try going to sleep without your nunnie tonight. That maybe you could hug tight your animal friends instead.

My sweet big boy.  

You took some serious time to think about my proposition. You glanced around your bed and fingered Hippy and Puppy. You patted Mister White Bear's head. Then, you looked up at me, so sweet and thoughtful and brave and you said, "OK, Mom. I do it." 

I squeezed you so tight and as I did, I could feel the lone nunnie that I had tucked into the waistband of my pj pants. The one that I tucked there just in case. Just in case you weren't ready. I would have pulled it out in a heartbeat. 

But you are so brave. And smart. And so big. You continue to amaze me. 

I promised to take you shopping for a new toy in the morning. We talked about what you would buy. Maybe a train or a truck. Maybe some water balloons. 

This was much harder for me than for you. It was the last hint of baby about you. My first baby. The one who made me  Mama. 

Now you're a boy. Not just any boy, though. You're my sweet big boy. My heart. 

I am so proud of you.

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Edited to add because lot's of questions have started rolling in:

- I had "planned" to take away the pacifier when Carter turned two but being as that was only a month after his brother was born, I didn't want to drastically alter his world any more. Not to mention that I didn't want him to think it was "ok" for the baby to get a pacifier but there he was being punished for having one. So? We kept it. 

- Carter turns three next week. I wanted and knew that I needed to wait to try this until he could reason and understand a little better. Any earlier and I know it would have resulted in tantrums and tears and again, it wasn't hurting anyone. So? We kept it. 

- He has done so awesome. The next morning we drove to Target after breakfast and we talked about how he gets to pick out a toy because he's a big boy and the nunnies are "all gone," emphasis on the "all gone" part. He slept through the night just fine, never waking or asking for one and he went the entire next day without searching for or asking for it. I have my doubts that it could really be this easy- but so far, so good. One day at a time. 

I'm trying not to stress the poor kid out! 

- The next morning when I was explaining all of this to my mom on the phone- talking about how proud I am of him, etc. I started crying. Seriously. I am such a mom. 

- If we return to the beach house and he remembers that's where we allegedly left all of his nunnies, we'll cross that bridge then. Of course we'll look all throughout the house and we won't be able to find them. Hopefully that will be enough. Maybe we'll just blame the cleaning lady next. I'm kidding.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Unofficially Official Updates and Thirteen Months!

After Carter turned a year old, I pretty much gave up on his monthly updates. Heck, I'm pretty sure I only updated what he's been up to since then a mere two or three times on this blog but ever since he's started conversationally talking, I've been meaning to write more. Because he's so funny and so awesome and just such a ham. And they say that second children tend to get the shaft? Ha. 

Anyway, I misplaced Maclane's monthly stickers somewhere around month six and after tearing the house apart for months on end, I eventually gave up search and came to terms with the fact that only half of his first year would be documented wearing said adorable stickers. Believe me, that was something that gave this self-admitted Type-A mom the cold sweats and still does if I think about it long enough. 

And then our trip to New Orleans came and it was time to pack our bags. Lo and behold, the stickers were shoved deep down inside one of the front pockets of the suitcase, which I swear I had previously checked, of course,  and I had a major face to palm moment when I found them. Luckily, Month 12 made an appearance in the monthly photo book and it was then that I realized I had a whole other set of stickers for his second year. 

I couldn't let them go to waste, now could I? 

Unofficial Official Stats
Height: 31.5 inches (2 inches shorter than Carter at this age)
Weight: 26 pounds (2 pounds heavier than Carter at this age)
*we'll see the doctor for your 1yr appointment in August when Carter goes for his 3yr.

Brown Hair (like your Mama) 
Brown Eyes (like your Mama)

Size 5 Diapers
18-24 Month clothes
*we prefer to say you're husky

DoingClimbing Running Dancing Babbling Couch-Surfing

Loving: Carter, Sheepie, the beach and playing with cars and trucks.

Saying: "Hi!" (first word) "Up, up, up!" "Dog" "Dada" "Mama"

Eating: Everything except crab meat and avocados. 

Learning: To travel backwards down stairs and to drink (and enjoy) milk from a sippy or straw cup.
*you are becoming far more successful at one over the other

Still: Nursing 4-5x throughout the day, waking up once over night around 3am and after waking, sleeping in our bed. 
*oh, the things you say you'll never do

You are sweet, happy and so very mellow. You are charming and funny and you go with the flow but can turn feisty on a dime. You do not like to share and you always want what your brother has. Thankfully, he's much better at sharing than you are. 
*most days

You are silly and loving. Sneaky and fearless and it has been nothing short of an adventure watching you grow and develop your own unique personality. It's amazing how you are truly everything we never knew our family of three was missing. 

Nicknames: MacAttack, Mackie, MacADoodle, Meatball.
*we're sorry about that last one but it's so fitting

Happy 13 Months, MacADoodle! 
*We love you more than carrots! Mama, Daddy, Carterito and Sheepie

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Everything Is Better At The Beach. And Then You Come Home.

It's so hard to fall back into the nitty gritty day to day nonsense after a long weekend at the beach. I don't care how warm it is outside, how beautiful the weather is or how many cups of coffee you've had that morning, nothing and I mean nothing, beats waking up at the beach, looking out over the bay and spending the day chasing your boys up and down the coastline. 

Coffee tastes better at the beach. Regardless of how many times someone woke up over night, sleep feels better at the beach. Life is just, well,  better at the beach. Even if it took you five hours and five pull-off's to get there. Ahem, Maclane...

If you follow me on Instagram, #mfamilybungalow catalogs our trips down to my husband's family house on the bay. What was once a well-loved yet sorry excuse for a beach cottage (we're talking four "rooms," exposed nails and peeling lead paint) has now been beautifully transformed into a Pinterest-worthy Nicholas-Sparks-novel beach house. 

My in-laws spent the better part of the last year overseeing the construction and every little last detail of this house and we are truly a blessed family to have such a gorgeous place to escape to for respite from the day-to-day grind. Both my husband and I agree that we are insanely jealous that our boys will have the luxury of spending childhood summers at the beach, something neither of us were ever privy to. 

We also agree that we'll  vicariously through them until they are old enough to tell us to get a life which at this rate will only be a few years from now. 

Although I begged and pleaded with my husband to stay just a bit longer, deadlines loomed and work beckoned and it was time to head home. We're in the process of settling back in now, the laundry is being laundered, the boys being their crazy boy-ish selves and I'm, well, still sulking a bit. 

Let's call it The Post-Beach-Funk. I has it and I has it bad. Is there a cure? Or is the only remedy a return trip and immediate-stick-age of feet in the sand and salt in my hair? Maybe I'll try sitting in the boys' sandbox out back. 

Fake it 'til you make it, no? 


There has been so much I've wanted to write about here in this space. Nothing earth-shattering or mind-blowing, mind you. Most of it, likely, things that wouldn't even matter to you or captivate you. But there's things I've been jotting down on desk calendars and stickies. Things I've been meaning to write about for weeks. 

Some of these things I want to relive. Moments with my kids, the funny things Carter says. How he's growing into such an awesome little buddy. How I can't believe he's about to turn three years old and how it's undoubtedly my favorite age ever in the whole wide world save for the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moments.  

Other things I want to harp on, like how I'll never be that effortless beauty you see walking the beach with her hair perfectly tied up in a knot, bronzed, leggy and with perfectly sculpted arms and calf muscles. Rather, I'm the girl with sand in her hair, parts of her more soft and squishier than sculpted and toned with baby-bang fly-a-ways whipping against her cheeks. 
Until then, this post will have to do. A semi-whiny, mostly-sulky recap of our weekend. 

Is it Friday yet?

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Do you go nuts for coconut water? Enter the latest giveaway over at 
the official ILYMTC review blog! It's delicious!

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Sharing My Best Self.

They say you learn things as you grow older. Something about the older you are, the wiser you become and while that rings true, sometimes I wish I was born with a certain amount of wisdom already in place. Regardless of my life experience or maturity. A built-in brilliance, if you will.   

I don't know why it took me a husband and two children before I sat down and asked myself, really really asked myself, "is my family getting the best of me?" 

By this I don't mean has my family overwhelmed me, as I'm certain they've done so on more than one occasion but rather I mean are they getting the best parts of me. My best attention. My best patience. My best love

This thought caught me off guard last week while I was sitting on the beach and as anyone with at least one child on a beach will tell you, "sitting" is much more non-stop watching and/or chasing your children like a hawk and much less actual sitting. However, I digress, for it's this thought that has been swirling around in my head ever since.

Is my family getting the best {parts} of me? 

I think, after a little bit of careful introspection, that, yes,  I can say, for the most part, they do get the best of me. Sure there are moments of tired me. And minimal attention me and less patience me but for the most part? I do my best to give them the best of me. 

Some days the boys get more of the best parts of me than my husband. It's kind of like compassion grief, something I learned about early on in my years as an oncology nurse. Back then I would spend all day caring so much for my patients, strangers who quickly became almost-family and I would care so much for them that at the end of the day, I wouldn't have any caring left for my husband at home. I wouldn't have any sympathy or tenderness left for him as I had used up all of my sympathy and tenderness tending to my patients.

Some days I use up all of my best parts while dealing with the boys all day. A short while back I wrote a little bit about putting my husband third and I am grateful to be married to a man who doesn't mind sometimes coming in last. It is in those moments that I try to remember to save a little bit of those best parts for him the next day.

Those days, I find myself more conscious about divvying up my best parts. Sharing them between my loved ones. This occasionally extends outwards from my immediate People and often includes phone calls home to my parents and texts to my friends. A few words here and there to let them know that I'm thinking about them. 

But it's not easy! Being conscious of your best self is difficult enough and to then have to worry about who you are sharing that best self with is almost too much to maintain at all. But it was while I was sitting on the beach, or chasing a child rather, that I realized how important it is to share the best parts of myself with my husband and my children on a daily basis. 

My present self. My patient self. My uninterrupted self.  

And on the days when I feel like I'm lacking in the best department, I have to remind myself that I am always giving them my best love. Even when I'm yelling. Or impatient. Or preoccupied. Because despite myself in those moments, deep inside my inner most core, I have nothing but overwhelming, all-consuming love for them. 

My best love.

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5 on Friday :: Future Babes, Summer Sandals, Moscato & More.

Every week I'm all "I'm going to link-up with this hot little mama for Five on Friday" and I think of my five things and sometimes I even jot them down in the notes section of my phone and the week comes and goes and I completely forget to write up my post without a single good excuse as to why I didn't link up. 

But not this week. Here I am, on Monday, writing up my post for Five on Friday. If that's not dedication, I don't know what is. Want to link up with everyone? It's simple. Blog about 5 things you're loving, loathing, thinking about, etc. Grab the cute little button, embed it in your post and link it up at the end of Darci's post each week. When you're done, hop around the other linker-uppers and say hi. I prefer to do all of the above with a chilled glass of mango Moscato. 

I've added a few new pairs of sandals to my summer collection this season and I have to say, I am absolutely smitten with every single pair. From a fresh new pair of Jacks to the super popular glitter sandal from Target that everyone and their mother raved about, these sandals have been a welcome addition to my closet. Paired with neon shorts and a sun-kissed glow, I'm glad I saved and splurged when I did. 

From top to bottom: Target (similar) Boden Jack Rogers Tory Burch Havaianas
This just so happens to be the number of bottles I recently purchased of Mamamango. If you're a fan of sweet summery cocktails and bubbly moscato, this delectable treat is for you. It's the best of both worlds and I would be lying if I said I couldn't polish off a bottle by myself for dessert. It's that good and it's even better once the kids are in bed and you're sitting on the deck with your newly tanned and relaxed husband. For clarification sake, it's the tan that's new, not the husband. 

The husband and I have started to entertain the thought of baby number three. I wrote earlier this year about my goal for 2013 which was to be College Hot and Not Knocked Up which, if we're keeping tabs, so far, I've succeeded. Although let it be known that I still have a couple of months to go until my 30th birthday. And my husband is kind of hot.

That said, we're still in the nitty gritty of raising our babies. Between the Terrible Twos-Turned-Threes and Teething Purgatory, there are days when my husband and I look at each other and think, "Well, it can't get much worse, right? What's one more baby?" And then other days when I slip into my size 4 neon JCrew shorts, tuck my boobs into the waistband of my underwear and swear to high heaven that the next surgery I endure will not be a c-section but rather surgery of the more cosmetic variety. It's on those days that I'm perfectly happy with pair of droopy boobies and beautiful little boys.

This just so happens to be the number of weeks it took to spend more than three-fourths of my grocery/diaper budget for the month of July. If we're keeping track it's only July 12th. We're not even midway through the month and I've nearly blown the budget. I'm terrible at budgets and can't, for the life of me, fathom why it costs so damn much to feed a family of four. Hell, Maclane hardly counts! He's like half of a human! In all seriousness though, I need to get better at this budgeting stuff. By the end of the month, I find myself getting really creative with our dinners. And by "creative" I mean we're all left to fend for ourselves. 

Speaking of budgets, this is the number of times I'm allowing myself to head to Starbucks each week. I only recently discovered that I can reload my Starbucks mobile card from my PayPal account and upon that discovery, noted that it's kind of magic how money just keeps reappearing on my card each week. I won't even mention how many cake pop sticks my husband pulled from my car before we left for the beach last week. It's that embarrassing. In my defense, however, the cake pops are often Carter's reward for extra good behavior or completing a day's worth of "chores"  which must mean that he's a really perfect boy, no? Let's roll with it.

Happy Friday, Loyals!

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

8 Fun & Educational Apps for your Pre-Schooler

When my toddler started giving up his naps around 23 months old, I knew I would have to think of an activity that would keep him entertained during his sixty minutes of mandated "quiet time" each day. Reading books quickly became playing with blocks which quickly became playing with trucks and trains and as he grew and his attention span waned, I knew I needed something more. 

At just shy of three years old, my son now spends forty-five minutes a day playing with some of his favorite iPad apps which allows me just enough time to clean up the kitchen or enjoy a hot mug of coffee in peace. 

I'm always on the hunt for new apps that are both educational and engaging and I wanted to take a minute to share a few of our personal favorites with you! Be sure to leave your child's favorite apps in the comments section below as I'm always on the hunt for new ones to add to our collection! 

Peek-A-Zoo, Duck Duck Moose
This app focuses on teaching your early preschooler actions, emotions, positions and sounds all while using creative and fun animals! This interactive app poses a different question on each page and asks your preschooler to identify the animal it is referring to all while creating a fun play space. 

Fish School, Duck Duck Moose
This app is one of my personal favorites as it's a great combination of both learning and fun. Your preschooler thinks he's merely playing with brightly colored schools of fish when he's actually learning numbers, letters, memory recall and more!

More Trucks, Duck Duck Moose
With four different kinds of trucks to play with in this app, it is every little boy's dream! Drive through the city and fight fires as a fire truck or construct a building on a construction site with the crane truck. Feeling strong? Knock it down with a wrecking ball and move on to playing with monster trucks, flatbed tow trucks and more!

Zoo Train, Busy Bee Studios
This app features 5 games designed especially for preschoolers. Filled with bright, colorful and playful illustrations, these games draw your preschooler in while teaching them all about numbers, letters, shape and pattern recognition and more! My son especially loves both the train track building game and the colorful puzzles.

Word Wagon, Duck Duck Moose
Earn stars and other sticker rewards as you play with this fun and exciting app. With over 103 words (44 of which are sight words), join characters Mozarella and Coco as they play hide and seek, dress up and learn their letters!

Toca Train, Toca Boca
This is one of my preschooler's most favorite apps. It could be because there are no rules or specific ways to play! He loves taking control of the train and driving it all around the countryside picking up passengers and other cargo. With the push of a button and the pull of a lever, he is in charge as the train's conductor. 

Toca Kitchen, Toca Boca
We're big fans of Toca Boca in this house and another favorite app is the Toca Kitchen. I downloaded this app after my preschooler took great interest in the goings on of our kitchen and he loves choosing different foods, preparing them in the chef's kitchen and serving them to customers! He's an even bigger fan of the blender and frying pan!

Wheels on the Bus, Duck Duck Moose
I downloaded this app by recommendation of a friend over a year ago and it's still one of our most-played. Based on the popular children's song, this app let's you and your child discover music and other surprises throughout the app. Not only can you change the language on this app but you could even record your own voice! 

Other favorite Duck Duck Moose apps: Old Macdonald, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Puzzle Pop and Draw and Tell.

Disclosure: I did not receive any financial compensation for this post. I'm just a mom sharing some of my favorite finds with you.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Day Off From Yelling.

I woke up this morning and I decided I won't yell at my kids today. Seems easy enough, right?

Wrong. You see, although my husband may disagree with you, I tend to be a fairly patient person. I'm extremely patient when it comes to other peoples' children and only slightly less patient when it comes to my own but I'm allowed to feel this way since I grew them, endured the awkward and uncomfortably long ten month gestation period with them and had them cut from me using frighteningly sharp objects. Twice, mind you

I try not to yell often but I yell because I can often predict what is about to happen. I yell so as to avoid the prediction from becoming real life. Take for instance, example A:

Carter has an affinity for filling the dog's water bowl each day. He likes to think he's completing his "chores" and I like to think he's doing one less thing that I would have to do that day and so it's a win-win. Sometimes Sheepie doesn't feel like drinking the water right away and Carter considers this a personal affront. He is so offended that he often feels the need to carry the water bowl around the house after the dog, commanding him to "Drink, Sheepie!" 

I'm sure you can see where this is going. Time and again I tell Carter that he can't carry the full bowl of water around the house. In my patient mom-voice I explain how it's too heavy and too full and it will spill and then it will be a mess and someone could slip and break an arm and then we have to go to the hospital where it's not a scary place but it's not somewhere we want to be on a Tuesday morning before Kelly & Michael. You know, all of that cause and effect nonsense that I'm supposed to impart on them. 

In all of his independent three-year old glory, he practically flips me off as he continues to carry the bowl around the house. Lo and behold,  what happens but on the third pass around the kitchen the water bowl tips, slips and falls to the floor spilling half of a Brita pitcher's worth of water all over the place. 

I ball my fists. I take deeps breaths. But I just finished cleaning the kitchen and I'm exhausted. And I politely asked Carter not to do this very thing 57 times. 

And so it happens. I raise my voice and yell, "I TOLD YOU SO!" as if that's really going to prove something. As if that's really going to make the water clean itself up. 

But that's not the only time I yell. I yell when the boys are chasing each other around the house. I yell after timeouts have been wasted and polite reprimands fall on deaf little ears. I yell when the toddler throws the carefully folded laundry out of the basket onto the bedroom floor. I yell when he feeds his lunch to the dog and when the baby is perched precariously on a toy because he saw his brother climb the same way just minutes ago. 

Most of the time I yell because I don't know what else to do and sometimes it just makes me feel better. I need to yell less. 

So today? Today I'm not going to yell. I'm going to ball my fists and take deep breaths and even let myself out onto the deck if I need to but no matter what happens, I will not yell. 

I'm taking a day off from yelling. How about you?
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