Saturday, February 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ellie!!!!!

Happy Birthday to one of Florida's greatest gymnasts!

It's great to be 6!!!!!

Quote of the Weekend

"In bringing up children, spend on them half as much money and twice as much time." ~Author Unknown

Picture of the Weekend

Since Day Light Savings was extended by four weeks, the little girl anxiously awaits longer days of sunshine.

REMEMBER: Turn your clocks ahead on March 9th!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Making Memories

If you’re like me, when I’m given a drawing, a painting, or even a leaf by my daughter, I find it very hard to throw it out. The result: I have a pile of arts and crafts in my closet that can only be rivaled by the equally high pile of laundry I’m pretending does not exist in my laundry room.

To make matters worse, I want to display all her masterpieces so she knows how much I cherish them, but I only have so many walls and refrigerators. If you find yourself in a similar dilemma, consider the following…

1) Buy a few nice frames or shadow boxes that compliment your kitchen or family room and really display your child’s art. As new pieces are completed, put them in the frames while leaving the old ones behind the new. So, you not only have a great way to display these beautiful pictures, you’re able to hold onto the old ones as well.

2) Scan them to your computer and keep a file on everything they do. This way you can save them, make them into screen savers, and even email them to doting grandparents (who’ll swear their grandchild is the next Rembrandt).

3) Spray it with hair spray and then press it between contact paper for instant placemats

4) Paste the drawing/painting around an empty coffee can for decorative storage / organizers

5) Punch holes in the work and keep a binder, separated by year / age

6) Using paper clips or clothes pins, attach the works of art to a string or clothesline to be draped around a playroom or bedroom like a border.

And my personal favorite…

7) Scan the artwork and send it into for your very own, usable, actual postage stamps.

***A Note to the Chorus of “Who has time for all of that??”. If you have time to head to Kohls or Marshalls to buy some commonplace reprint that has no sentimental value other than the fact that it compliments the couch, make time to hold onto your future Picasso’s masterpieces now.

Week in Review

The Top 5 Things I've Learned This Week

5) If you mention “Arbonne” on your site…they advertise immediately (Arbonne, Arbonne, Arbonne)

4) When people scowl at you to just “take that pacifier from the child” and let them “deal with it”, feel free to strip that moron of their morning coffee, evening wine, or any other beloved comfort food and let’s see if they don’t cry themselves to sleep at night.

3) Just because you have amassed millions and figured out how to become a celebrity, does not necessarily mean you have grasped what it truly means to be human.

2) Though men may have always held the greatest positions of power throughout the
world, when it comes down to it, they all revert to infancy when they get a whittle

1) A watched tooth never breaks through the gum (but I guarantee it will be here by Tuesday!!!)

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

In honor of this snowy, sleepy day...a two-for-one:

Upon examining the contents of her little potty, two year old Olivia declares,

“Hmmm….no poo poos, only boogies.”

She then watches Mommy empty the contents into the big potty and, after helping to flush, salutes,

“Bye pee pees…Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Send your favorite kid speak to:

Confession Time

Is it wrong to envy my husband because he gets to lie in bed all day?

cough, cough…

Celerbrity Mommies

Jennifer Lopez gave birth to twins (one boy, one girl) early this morning in Long Island, NY, where she and her husband live.

What beautiful gifts of life they’ve been given! I wonder what they’ll give back….

The Perfect Playgroup

If you consult the What to Expect…books regularly for guidance, you’ll find that the perfect playdate is characterized by no more than three children, at play for no more than an hour. For that reason, the books are currently being used as kindling for my fake fireplace.

If you really want to know what a perfect playgroup looks like, look no further than my very own, which happens to include four fantastic women (all with very different backgrounds and personalities), four adorable and gifted toddlers, and three beautiful babies. And, no, modesty has never been a characteristic I find valuable.

Here’s is why our playgroup works:

1) The original four kids are all within a few months of each other (April-July) and so we’ve gone through more than a few milestones together (big beds, potty training, and the terribly challenging twos).
2) As mothers, we share similar approaches to parenting without being clones of one another. We differ on nuances in discipline and expectations, but we share similar philosophies on effective parenting and we all just happen to be completely in love with our kids.
3) We share similar views on how our days should flow: some planned activities, a lot of free play, and the agreement that we’ll supervise without intruding on our children’s time with their first friends.

And, finally, one of the greatest characteristics of our little playgroup is that we don’t just enjoy our children’s interactions with one another, we genuinely care for each other. As women, it is so easy to fall into the trap of picking on each other, of bringing each other down when we should be lifting each other up. Why are women so hard on one another

Well, we found each other by chance…having stumbled into the same Music Together class at the Friends School when our little ones were only 15 months old. I do know a lot of groups come together through Moms clubs, but, if that’s not an option for you, start initiating conversations at the park or the library… you’d be surprised how many mom are looking to share some time (and troubles) with other moms.

My own chance meeting with my playdate partners came from shared laughs over loud instruments and chaos. After a lot of time, challenges, and more children, I guess it’s safe to admit we probably owe the Friends School some sort of donation.

So, look for similar ages, views of parenting, and expectations for your day and along the way, you’ll enjoy watching your children benefit from experiencing positive social interactions, and they’ll enjoy watching you interacting as well.

Quote of the Day

"Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you."
~Robert Fulghum

As my husband has come down with the flu, I am now the mother of three…and I bet you can guess which one has been really fussy lately.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good to Know

Each year, over 83,000 children are rushed to the emergency room, seeking treatment for serious burns. In fact, children under the age of five are most vulnerable to burns for two reasons: first, they are unable to grasp the consequences of extreme heat; and second, their skin is actually thinner than adults, causing them to sustain burns quicker and at lower temperatures. The conditions of burns are categorized by first, second, and third degrees, with third, obviously, being the worst.

A first degree burn is described as a burn that turns the skin red or pink, with no blisters. When this occurs, run the burn under cool water for at least five minutes, and then apply a light, cool cloth to soothe the area.

A second degree burn is characterized by red, swollen skin and blistering. As with first degree burns, run the wound under water followed by a cool cloth and seek medical attention quickly. These burns penetrate deeper into the skin and can result in infections; therefore, see a doctor to have it cleaned and treated. Do not break the blisters.

A third degree burn will produce white, leathery skin, or even charred skin. If this occurs, call 911 immediately and DO NOT apply water or cold compresses. Remove burned clothing that comes off easily, but not clothing that seems attached to the burn. In some cases, CPR may need to be performed.

Tips for avoiding burns in the most likely place: the kitchen

1) Reduce your water temperature: Set it at 120 degrees or lower; this will help prevent serious burns if a child starts playing with a faucet.
2) Avoid hot spills: Keep pan handles turned in, don’t carry soup or hot beverages while carrying your child, and even avoid tablecloths that may be pulled by a toddler’s reach.
3) Safeguard the stove area: Install covers over knobs, a splash guard in front of the stovetop, and keep things away that may attract a child (a cookie jar, toys, etc).
4) Unplug irons: Curling irons, clothing irons….keep them out of reach, especially the chords.
5) Test temperatures: Taste everything first—microwaves vary.
6) Childproof outlets

Celebrity Mommies- The Down Low on J. Lo

Riding the wave of public interest in celebrity bumps and baby names, reports are surfacing that People magazine, a paragon of professional journalism, is negotiating a six million dollar deal with J Lo and Marc Anthony for pictures of their new family soon after the birth of their twins. This deal is just one of many that not only helps to exploit children, but fuel the fascination over all things celebrity (yes, I am fully aware of the irony here).

The first big name deal came with Brad and Angelina's photo layout in People after the birth of their youngest child, Shiloh. The couple negotiated a four million dollar deal and promptly donated the money to one of their many charitable foundations. So, why write about another photo deal now that the practice proves commonplace?

Because I have a problem with Jennifer Lopez.

That's right, Jenny from the block claims to be a home grown girl who has never forgotten her roots despite that fact that she has completely blinged out leaves (or, bedazzled as Sutty would reference). However, this local hero seems to be lacking in one area that traditionally illustrates a successful person's show of support: donations.

That's right...Jennifer Lopez attended Preston High School in the East Bronx, an all girls school that not only helps its young girls to become sensational, accomplished women, but also claims a very large Puerto Rican population amongst their student body. These particular girls look up to J Lo as a role model and someone they wish to emulate.

This idol, however, has never once visited the school nor donated money (for scholarships, improvements, the arts, etc), and rarely even acknowledges her alma mater. How can this be? Even the slightest gesture would mean so much to this school, to these students.

And that leaves me wondering about what she does do with the wealth she's amassed from record sales, movie ticket sales (not much, I imagine), profits from her clothing line and fragrances, endorsements, and the rest. And, what I wonder, will she do with another six million?

I promise not to be fooled by the rocks that she's got, but don't think I'll be fooled by the rest either.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“Paca teeth out. Me no like that.”

(Connor, age 2, spoken to his father after brushing his teeth and remembering seeing his "Paca" remove his dentures.)

Share your kids funniest comments; send them to:

For my little man...

My little man is officially 8 months old today (they grow up so fast!) and I could not be prouder! He is feeding himself, standing while holding onto the coffee table, and he’s just completed his first novel. My heart swells….

So, I just have one little request for my pint size bruiser….a tooth. Just one. Please?

In honor of his latest milestone, and for mothers of sons everywhere, here are a few fun facts:

- Two out of five men admit to being a “mama’s boy”
- 72% of men think their mother is beautiful
- 93% of men say, if they were given the choice of changing moms, they’d stick with the one they’ve got


- One in three started a fist fight with a kid for insulting his mom
- 95% of those boys said they clobbered the creep

Source: Menstuff

Quote of the Day

"You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back." ~William D. Tammeus

Picture of the Day

Deciding to mix things up a bit, the little boy forego the predictable, “Cheese”, and instead opted for… "Argh, matey!”

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Random Statistic

A recent online poll conducted by Parents magazine found that, when asked who they’d rather travel with, a whopping 79% of mothers opted for their children over their husbands.


Now, I love my children more than life itself and they are actually awesome in the car (with the help of some choice CDs and DVDs). We take family trips all the time and the memories we’ve made are what I consider to be the greatest gifts anyone could ever give me.

However, the last time I checked, I did not need to make periodic stops to feed and change my husband’s diaper (I’m spoiled, I know). As much as I love our family trips, there is something to be said for having time for just the two of you. In fact, whenever we do go out alone, it feels like we’re playing hookie and forces us to realize how important it is to make time for each other. Being good to each other is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children.

So, I decided to have a little fun with this and play the other side’s position with a top five list of reasons kids are better to travel with than husbands.

Here we go…

5) With your kids, there will be no arguing over who will drive, unless, of course, you either live in Kentwood, Louisiana or subscribe to the Brittney Spears School of Parenting, If the latter is the case, you should absolutely let your child drive. It’s country, y’all.
4) Even though listening to kids tunes will make the ride easier on everyone, you do have the last say on what comes out of the speakers. With your husband, such a deliberation could make for great footage on Court TV because, even though he may not admit it publicly, he likes Kelly Clarkson and he expects you to as well, damn it!
3) If the kids fall asleep, many of us welcome a rare moment of quiet thoughts. If your spouse falls asleep, you either resent the fact that he gets a nap or, worse, wonder how the heck you’re going to explain how Daddy managed to kill Bambi as the car momentarily coasted into a nearby farm.
2) If you get lost with the kids it’s an “adventure” made manageable by inserting a DVD from your reliable, vehicular library. With your spouse, on the other hand, it’s a veritable blame game filled with expletives, “I told you sos”, and more expletives. The only adventure there involves the exploration into whose potty mouth is more colorful.
1) When a foul odor presents itself, at least the kids provide for obvious scapegoats.
However, if the two of you shared a similar cuisine, maybe you will have a little
adventure after all…

Tot Soccer

I’ve gotten a few emails from people inquiring about the age limit for the classes. The website stipulates 6 and younger, though most of the kids are between 2-5.

If you do go, however, and witness what appears to be a very small professional soccer player who is really making the other children look bad, it is mostly likely just a three year old by the name of Ryder who can’t help contain his skills….I’ve heard it’s in the genes.

South Jersey Livin'

As winter wears on with no sign of warm weather in sight, my personal creativity is all but drained. We go to Little Gym and playgroups, Imagination Quest and the library; we’re even signed up for another session of Music Together just because I can’t resist spending too much money to watch my little red head bang some bongos. We’ve exhausted the kid crafts aisles at Joann’s and AC Moore, Michaels and even CVS and it’s not even March!!

So, when Debbie the Great suggested we (the perfect playgroup…hey) try Tot Soccer, I promised to be her personal servant for a month, knowing full well that such servitude would require her to feed me and, if you knew her husband Dave (shout out to D-Dog) and his undeniable cooking skills (second only to his nunchuck skills), you’d understand that I would actually be the one making out on that deal.

Here’s why Tot Soccer is a great way to spend your Tuesday:

1) Tot Soccer is part class, part chaos, and a perfect way to get your little ones moving (and exhausted) when the weather fails to comply.
2) Classes are pay as you go ($6 a kid), so you do not have to commit to a full term of classes in the event your child isn’t into it, or you just feel like taking a week off.
3) Coach Mike is as fun as he is goofy, and manages to keep things light as only half the kids really listen and complete the drills (the rest are running wildly, playing with the arcade games, or hanging from the rafters) …and it’s all good.
4) After 20 classes, your little one gets a trophy….very cute.

Keep in mind…
* The first 20 minutes are a “free for all” and so many kids find themselves already exhausted by the time Coach Mike comes in to start the games and exercises. So, try to come at 10:15 or even a little later to ensure your little tot can hang the whole way.

* Bring the Purell. It is a roller hockey arena and the ubiquitous scent of gamey men cannot be denied. Not that it’s dirty….but after they roll around on the floor for an hour and a half, you’re going to want to hose them down.

* Beware of tag-along spouses. Given the opportunity to already begin to shape your little one into the next draftable athlete or simply to relive 7th grade memories of skating parties and first crushes, your spouse may want to come along as well…which is always a good thing!

For more info, call (856) 582- 1600

Quote of the Day

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." -Mark Twain

Picture of the Day

Finally, someone with whom he could see eye to eye.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

An Apple A Day

So, many of you have heard that most of the children’s cough and cold medications are coming off the shelves as medical experts assert that these products (largely decongestants, expectorants and antitussives) show no proven effectiveness and run too great a risk for potential overdose or harmful side effects in our most vulnerable patients, children from birth to 2 years of age. This leaves more than a few parents wondering, what alternatives can we use to ease the pain of colds, coughs, and stuffy noses?

One answer: According to a recent study referenced in Parents magazine, a spoonful of honey may actually do more to ease a child’s nighttime cough better than anything you can buy over-the-counter.

No wonder Pooh bear always seems so healthy and happy.

An important note of caution: Children under 1 should never be given honey (it can cause botulism- yikes)

Jersey Couture

As we lumber through the winter doldrums, I’m already pining away for warmer weather where flip flops are a daily staple and I no longer have to factor in tiny coats, gloves, hats, and the inevitable wrestling match just to get my family out the door.

So, in keeping with sunny thoughts for sunny weather, it is with great excitement that I bring the following news: my favorite flip flops (the only ones I’ll wear)—Havaianas—are now making flip flops for kids!!!! Joy to the world!!

Forget investing in bonds, college funds, or your IRA…every cutie-pitootie needs an adorable set of flips to make their statement on the playground, and nothing says spunky and sassy like Havaianas for kids.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are in no way the opinions of the blogger’s spouse or his respective employer.

The Pacifier Chronicles

Though our pacifier intervention proved not to be the nightmare we imagined, I got so much advice on the subject that I now fancy myself a bit of an expert and feel the need to share…

Our approach was completely serendipitous: the pacifier was misplaced and, in lieu of running to the nearest store for a replacement, we hunkered down for an emotional hurricane, and ended up enduring a windy day. Why did it work so well? Who knows?
But below are some other approaches special people we know implemented and their respective outcomes:

The Weaver Approach:

After a two year romance with her “boppies”, the little girl’s parents decided it was time to intervene. The chosen method was simply to tell their daughter that the “boppy fairy” had come and taken it, but, on the flip side, left an adorable care bear for her to call her own.

Outcome: Though happy to receive said care bear, the little girl looked ate her parents with disbelief and stated, rather matter-of-factly, “I hate the boppy fairy”. Other than that, the approach was successful and the parents congratulated themselves on a successful and humane triumph over the pacifier.

The Lewis Approach:

With a new baby on the way, the parents of the little girl who loved her pacifier as well as her “friends” (a bunch of small receiving blankets), decided that they needed to intervene before their life turned upside down, as is custom when a new child enters the picture. They decided to capitalize on the daughter’s love of horses and brought her to a store where she was allowed to pick a toy horse and pay the cashier with her pacifier.

Outcome: Though the little girl understood what had happened to her pacifier (she was a willing participant), somehow that didn’t change the fact that she knew her parents could get a new one. A few nightly battles ensued, but with a secondary source of comfort still available (ahh…the friends!), the pacifier was soon a thing of the past. The only downside was that naps were also a thing of the past.

The Billmann Approach:

The little boy was approaching the age when his parents decided he was too old for his binky and so, his mother craftily cut a small slit in the side and gently broke the news to him: the binky was broken. Realizing the profundity of the statement, the little boy did what he did with most things that couldn’t be fixed, he threw it away. His mother then let the day go by without a push for a nap, rendering him exhausted by nightfall and virtually guaranteeing an easy time for bed.

Though there were some tears at the renewed realization that the binky was gone, the little guy did go to sleep pretty easily and only needed some reassuring in the middle of the night when he awoke to look for it. The approach proved very successful, with the exception that, like the previous approach, regular napping soon became a thing of the past.

So if you are arriving at pacifier/ binky/ boppy/ mimi/ shush-sha (word to the Mahoney/Sutton/Hannon family) crossroads, try to keep the following three tips in mind:

1) Be sure to have a clear and reasonable explanation for why the pacifier had to go

away (as opposed to just saying “it’s time” or “you’re too old”).
2) Provide some incentive to reward the child and replace the lost soother
3) If your child is still young enough, introduce a secondary comforter so the

transition is not so hard when one is taken away

A Video Clip

My fabulous friend Beth sent this clip to me and it is sure to make even the most cold-hearted of you smile. This also reaffirms the fact that if you give a child a big box, a paper towel tube, or bubble wrap, any and all overpriced toys will be put to the wayside along with all their bells and whistles.

Quote of the Day

"The quickest way for a parent to get a child's attention is to sit down and look comfortable." Lane Olinhouse

Picture of the Day

"Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction."
-Cowboy wisdom

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Intervention- Part III

Given the success of the first half of our day, we continued with the same approach for the second half: family, fun, and, hopefully, fatigue. And then we waited….

Would there be a meltdown? How would we handle it? And, where, sweet mercy, did we put those back-up pacifiers???

Once again….nothing. Not even a question this time. Our little girl simply drank some milk, read some books, sang some songs, and said goodnight. What was this? Is she planning a middle of the night retaliation? Is she just lulling us into some false sense of accomplishment? Or, is it what I should have known all along…

We completely underestimated her.

As with potty training and long trips in the car, it seems when I assume things will get tough that she proves me wrong. And, of course, when I expect something that I might consider basic (sitting nicely in a grocery cart and not taking the food from our cart and putting it in someone else’s when I’m not looking) she surprises me with non-compliance.

I have to say I am more than a little shocked…and still waiting for that shoe to drop. But maybe, just maybe, the steel toed boot kicker I was expecting is really only a hush puppy…and it’s about time I gave my little girl a little more credit.

Out of the Mouths of Babes...

"My dad...he's a good man."
-Olivia, age 2; said as she was being tucked in for bed by her grandmother (and well before her pacifier was lost).

Send in your favorite "kid-isms" (along with a brief explanation), to

The Intervention- Part II

We are now well into Day 2 of pacifer-gate, and, by all accounts, we are doing better than expected. Thanks to a day of extreme play (running, sliding, swinging, kicking rocks, looking for bugs) and an unusually balmy February afternoon, we efffectively wore the be-Jesus out of our subject and the result was an easy transition into naptime.

She did ask for her mimi as she was carried to her bed, but only replied, "Oh" when I reminded her where it was not. She then passed out right in the middle of Horton Hatches an Egg and never look back.

It can't be this easy...we are still waiting for the other shoe to drop, and praying it's not a stilletto.

Parents: 2, Pacifier: 0

Stay tuned....

The Intervention

So after two and a half years with her faithful "Mimi", our sweet little O has been forced to say goodbye to a dearly beloved friend…her pacifier.

Yes, it was time for an intervention. Though the pacifier had been a “bedtime friend only” for a long time now, we’d noticed a recent lapse in that practice as we caught her sneaking into her room for a much needed fix on more than one occasion. We had to admit what was becoming so apparent…our toddler was a pacifier junkie.

We had considered endless approaches, provided by friends and family alike, but we decided to steal an idea from my fabulous sister-in-law, Jeannie, and tell her, now that she’s a big girl, we would have to take it to the hospital for a baby who really needed it.

We set the launch date for next weekend, February 22nd, with small conversations leading up to it throughout the week.

We plotted. We schemed. We did not plan on the visit to Bama and Papa’s.

So…we went down to Virginia to celebrate a birthday (shout out to Drew—he’s 3!) and a homecoming (Paul is back from Iraq), and enjoy some fun with family. As the weekend came to a close and the bags were packed, we had everything we needed to make a complete return to New Jersey, minus one little thing….oh, boy.

We looked high and low, in plants, and trash bags, and under every pillow and toy, but after an hour…the search party was called off and Mommy and Daddy had to sit the little girl down and explain that the Mimi was gone and we’d have to leave. There were a few tears, but as we said our final goodbyes, she put on a brave face with nothing but a quivering lip to reveal her sadness over the loss of a dear friend.

We thought….this is too easy….the storm is certainly on the horizon.

The ride home was surprising pleasant as she chatted away about red lights and green lights, sang songs, and warned Daddy when he was driving too fast. And with 15 minutes left in our trip (approximately 9:15 PM), she faded into dreamland…leaving her parents anxious over the next hurdle….the transfer into bed.

Recognizing that the slightest stir caused by the shuffle from bed to car would be enough to cause a search for the comfort of the Mimi, the two debated over various approaches to alleviate the trauma, realizing that the best method would simply be to cross their fingers and offer a lot of hugs.

The result: As expected, the end of the trip brought an end to peace. There was screaming, crying, and a little swat (sorry, Daddy), but after only 20 minutes sorrow gave way to sleep and it seemed, at least for now, the first night had been a pseudo-success.

Stay tuned for day 2 of pacifier watch…..

Parents: 1, Pacifier: 0

Quote of the Day- Presidents Day

“Any child can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble.” – Dennis Fakes

Picture of the Day

A big sister teaches her little brother about snow.