Thursday, October 28, 2010

Proper Playground Etiquette

As a stay at home mom with a Toddler, more often than not I find myself at the playground.  And why not?!  It's a great place for the tots to get some exercise and also ( and perhaps more importantly ) a chance for them to practice their budding social skills. However, for me, it's not always fun and games at the park.  While my little one is running around and having a ball, I am chasing after her, making sure she is safe and also reminding her of certain rules....

For instance -

You need to use the stairs!  Just because you saw some big kids climbing up the slide doesn't mean you have to copy them.  For you, the slide is a way to go DOWN not UP.

Wait your turn.  I know you are faster than some of the other kids, but just because it takes you half the time to get up the stairs, does not mean you get to go down the slide twice as often.  Patience is a virtue...granted not one most two year olds possess, but it's a virtue none the less.

DO NOT run out in front of other children while they are swinging.  As far away as they may seem at certain times, they will be close enough to take you out in one swift motion in a matter of seconds.

Oh yes, and let's not forget to not pick up everyone that is smaller than you.  They may look little and cute, but honey so do you. That half an inch you got over them is not enough to pick them up and carry them around like your new favorite dolly. Also, they tend to cry when you try to....

That's the general routine.  Add to that the small attempts I make to socialize with other moms in between maneuvering my daughter and I am busy, busy, busy.  It also doesn't help my stress level that my kid tends to lean towards children that are older than her.  For some reason children her own age or younger just don't hold her interest for very long.  In general I wouldn't have a problem with this, except of course, for the fact that at 2 1/2 she is not as coordinated as a 4 or 5 year old is.  Unfortunately, that slows her down about as much as it speeds my heart rate up. So, I watch and try not to hover as she tears through the place, running and jumping and climbing just as fast as her two little feet will carry her.

On occasion I have also found that the older children she's so fond of, also tend to be a bit controlling, sometimes even bully-ish.  That has been challenging for the both of us.  She gets confused and doesn't understand why someone is being mean and I get hurt and wonder what I should be teaching my baby.  One day a little boy took her stuffed animal ( it goes everywhere she goes) and held it hostage.  When she came to me, I told her to say please and ask for it back. When that didn't work, I went to get it from him myself.  He proceeded to hurl her little toy up into the air and across the park.  My daughter was in tears and I wanted to shove that little snot into the ground...but I can't teach my kid that.  Thankfully, his mother was right there and once aware of the situation, handled it immediately. But, what do I do in the future?  What if the next bully has a mom who is completely oblivious?  What if the next time, I'm not even there and she's at preschool? I want to teach her to be strong and to defend herself, but how do I do that without turning her into a bully as well?  For now I guess I will settle for working on her communication skills.  If talking to the bully doesn't work, at least she can come and talk to me or a teacher and then it will be up to a grown up to handle things...and if need be - shove someone into the ground.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Things YOU Should Know Before Eating OUT

Having spent the last 10 years in the hospitality industry, I have encountered a lot of things I never knew about restaurants and how they run.  For instance, on Sundays when business is slow don't be surprised to find the kitchen missing a dishwasher...crazy as it seems, I have worked plenty of places where EVERYONE has to help out and pick up the slack and do the dishes.  Everyone, meaning the servers mostly.  This can easily explain why you may find yourself waiting 10 minutes for an ice tea you expected to be sipping moments after you ordered it. Allow me to walk you through it...You order your beverage, your server returns to the drink station only to find that nobody has stocked clean glasses.  So, he or she hurries back to the kitchen in hopes of finding a clean glass rack just waiting to be brought out, instead they find several racks of DIRTY glasses and an empty dish pit.  They quickly run the glasses through the machine and run back out to the drink station to get back to your ice tea.  At this point of course, the glasses are piping hot and your ice tea is less icy and more luke warm, so your server is frantically trying to chill the glass and keep your tea from getting watered down.  Finally you get your beverage, and rather than being grateful for everything that went into this one glass of ice tea, you are annoyed and make comments to your fellow dining associates about how slow, and possibly stupid, your waiter is.  And you wonder why we
 joke about spitting in your drinks... .

So, here's some helpful hints for practicing proper dining out etiquette in the future -


When you walk in through the front doors and you are greeted by the hostess, let her know if you have a table preference.  Don't wait until you get to your table to ask for a booth.  This may lead to you getting a dirty table, sitting in a section that is closed and no longer has a server or sitting in a section where the server is so busy it will be a long time before they even notice you are sitting there.  The truth is, that whole restaurant rises and falls with how the host or hostess does their job.  If they don't rotate the servers, servers become overloaded and fall behind, providing you with bad service.  Also, it's their job to keep a nice pace going so that the kitchen can keep up, because once the kitchen gets buried, it's all downhill from there.  So, as simple as it may seem to point at a table and say 'I want that one'- it's not.  If it were, they wouldn't need the hostess.

Tipping is not optional.  If you cannot afford to tip, go to McDonald's.  The standard for good service is 20%, if your service was adequate it's OK to lean towards 15%.  If you are leaving a 10% tip I have to assume that the service was either horrible or you are an ignorant jackass.  More often than not, it's the latter.  Server's make less than minimum wage, most of which goes to taxes and therefore we rarely actually see a paycheck.  What you tip is what we make, it's the industry.  If you want to be pissed about having to tip, be pissed, but don't take it out on us, we are simply doing our jobs...and we expect to get paid for it just as you do for yours.

DO NOT ask me to make sure your food is hot before I bring it out to you.  The only way I can be sure is if I stick my finger in that really what you want?  No, you want me to bring it to you assuming it's fine, then when it's not, you can tell me and I will gladly re-heat it or bring you something new.

A lot of servers don't write the orders down.  Don't question it.  It's not that we are geniuses, it's just that we know that menu inside and out and we know what we can handle.  Worst case scenario if I forget an order, I glance back over at you or possibly scan the menu, trust me, it always comes right back. 

IF you get your food and find that something is wrong and it's not the way you ordered it, please, do not jump to conclusions.  Believe it or not, I have seen many food tickets go to the cook, who didn't read it properly, then go to the expo (the person who adds the finishing touches and puts together each table's orders) who reads it wrong and then it may even go to the food runner, who checks the food and compares it to the order and STILL they don't get it right.  Let's review, the server took your order and then sent it to the kitchen CORRECTLY and then 3 other people screwed up.  See why you can't always blame it on your waiter?

Last, but not least, be kind to your server.  We are people just like you, and we deserve your respect.  We may be waiting on you, but we are in no way beneath you.  And while I personally haven't seen anyone spit in a drink or put hair in someone's food....I would never say never... .   

Friday, May 28, 2010

3 A Day Of Dairy - Hold The Artificial Hormone, Please!

Recently, my family and I have moved across country, and while I love my new residence, I was somewhat disappointed when it came time for my first trip to the local grocery store.  It turns out, that most of the brands I'm used to buying aren't available here.  I carefully examined every label of every item of dairy and found very little to work with!  When I consulted some of the employees, they were of little to no help...and I ended up leaving without some of the key items I was shopping for.  Instead I headed home and have found myself glued to the computer screen, in hopes of finding some brands that pledge not to use milk that was produced using artificial hormones, ever since.  I haven't found nearly as much information as I was hoping for, so my search will no doubt continue, but here's what I've come up with so far...

In terms of milk the choices are actually quite abundant.  It seems that in the last couple of years a lot of major brands and grocery stores have hopped on the ban wagon and are now selling milk from cows that have not been treated with rBST.  Here are a few examples -

Safeway (Lucerne)
Food Lion
(The last three also offer heavy whipping cream and half&half)

Next we have yogurt.  At first I was afraid that things weren't looking very good, but then I stumbled across the fact that two huge yogurt companies are now banning artificial hormones due to the increasing demand! From what I have seen, they haven't put anything on their labels yet, but the change is rather recent, so it may still be in the works...never the less, you can feel comfortable buying any of these products-

Brown Cow
Nancy's Cultured Dairy and Soy
Cascade Fresh

I am sad to say, that cheese without rBST seems to be a little harder to find.  A lot of the big brand names don't seem to be on board with the changes yet, but I am hoping that will happen soon!  Kraft is headed in that direction with their first line of natural cheeses.  Look for these specifically -

Kraft Natural Cheese made with 2% Milk
Whole Foods 365
Berner Natural Cheese
Nancy's Cultured Dairy and Soy

Let's not forget about Sour Cream ( one of my daughter's faves!- Hey, you can't have a quesadilla without it!)  We are in luck since some of the most common brands are already going artificial hormone free!

Daisy ( also look for Cottage Cheese)

Another common dairy product is butter. I almost forgot about it in my research (oops!), but at the end I remembered...


Ah, yes, the one I would never forget - Ice Cream! I wish I had more names than I do for this one, but as of right now, this is all I have come up with -

Ben and Jerry's
Lovin' Scoopful

On the upside, all of those ice creams are delicious - when you can find them.  In the mean time, be sure to check your favorite flavor and brand.  If they aren't using milk without artificial hormones to make their ice cream yet, write them!  Tell them that it matters to you. Hey, it worked with the yogurt!

Here's a few extra tidbits that I found interesting - Starbucks is using only rBST free milk in their coffees and Chipotle Mexican Grill has pledged to only serve hormone free sour cream!

I know we still have quite a ways to go, but I really feel that as consumer awareness grows and the demand for healthier products gets greater, the companies supplying our food will have to change and provide us with a product that we are willing to buy and then feed to our families! So, keep checking your labels and don't compromise on what you spend your money on.  We have every right to expect our food to nourish our bodies, not harm them!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week...;)

Well, it's the night before the big Moving Day and I am exhausted! It has been a long and stressful week and I am ready to hit the open road and make my way across country, but before I do..let's review the things I've learned this week -

Dogs, cats and Toddlers all handle the anxiety of moving differently. The dogs ( who are very used to moving and road trips - they've been with us a long time!) saw the boxes and the return of the camper shell on top of the truck bed, loaded up...and pretty much haven't gotten out since. It's been two days and we have had to force them to come in at night, take them with us when we run errands and bring their food and water up to the bed of the truck - THEY WON'T COME OUT! They know we are leaving and they will NOT be left behind!

The cats have taken a very sullen and quiet approach. While you would expect them to play and have a hay day with all the boxes and packing paper, they have instead opted to be very silent and next to non - existent. Usually we would have to watch them around open doors ( indoor cats - outdoor dogs), these days we have had all the doors wide open and the cats just lay there in the middle of the semi-empty rooms, making NO attempt to wander know what they say, curiosity killed the cat...or got it lost right before moving day- well not these guys!

Oh, my sweet little tinker tot. While all the adults have wanted to throw themselves on the floor, kicking and screaming and having an all out fit...she's the only one who's actually been able to get away with it...a lot! I'm giving her a free pass this week...once we get to where we are going, it's another story. Terrible Two's or not, this is BEYOND what I can accept.

Lesson number 2. Craig's List is a wonderful and profitable way to get rid of the stuff you don't want to move! It's also a nice way to increase the amount of spam in your inbox...

Yard Sales, not so wonderful and less was my first go around and I was surprised to find that a steal really is a STEAL! Seriously, $2.00?! That's what people were expecting to pay?! Maybe if I was getting rid of CRAP...but I don't sell crap. I simply throw it out.

On to number 3. There is NO good way to clean a Fridge. Even if you think that you keep it wiped out and fairly clean, you may be surprised to find, that once it has been emptied, the words that come to mind are BIO- HAZARD. There's always something way in the back that never gets used, but somehow causes a spill, which naturally makes its way down to the very bottom of your fridge. That is where it stays and grows things, all the while remaining nicely hidden by the two drawers located at the bottom to keep things like your meats and produce. Mmm, Yummy. Oh, and let's not forget that random bowl of leftovers that started out front and center, where it could be seen and eaten, but then slowly, but surely made it's way to the back bottom corner. Where it remained for weeks ( maybe months) never to be seen or heard of again...until today, that is.

Now, once you have gotten rid of all the yuckies and the totally disgusting, it's time to rinse. Have you ever tried to rinse out the refrigerator drawers in your kitchen sink?! Not an easy task, let me tell ya! Between the awkward shape and size, and the lovely nooks and crannies that are super efficient at collecting water , you are sure to get a bath! Good times!

What could be more fun than that? Well, I decided to bring my diaper bag out of early retirement for this trip. I was horrified to find that after spraying it down and wiping it out with paper towels, washing it in the washer, and re - wiping it with Clorox wipes, I was still able to find remnants of lint and spilled juice...and other possibilities of grossness.

I also learned, that true friends will drive an hour to bring a late night dessert and last minute help with packing and cleaning the night before you leave. They will tell you they love you and toast you with apple cider, wishing you the best of luck on new adventures and exciting journeys. Then, they will leave in a hurry, knowing that every minute spent with them in good times, is another minute late at night finishing up the week's work of moving.

Last, but not least, I can say without doubt, no matter how sure you are that everything is packed, you have at least three more boxes worth of stuff around the house. All the odds and ends that look like nothing and don't really go with anything, will end up being the thing that takes up the most time.  Don't let them be your downfall!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

I'm A Mom...I'm Required By LAW To Ask You These Questions

There are certain words you never thought you would use.  Words like potty...but here you are, you're a mom now, and potty has become one of the most frequently used words in your vocabulary.  Along with words you would prefer not to say, you are finding yourself asking some awkward questions.  I ask them all the time, and I don't limit it to my children.  My husband gets asked as well....along with other family members and random friends.  I may even ask an occasional stranger or two, but don't worry - it's OK.  I'm a Mom, I'm required by law to ask these questions.

'Did you wash your hands?'

Oh, how I wish this was a given, but it's not.  I have two step-sons and anytime I hear a flush, you will hear me yelling through the house - 'Did you wash your hands?!'  And more often than not, I will hear little feet run back into the bathroom and the water go on...

'Can you say PLEASE?'

My daughter's vocabulary is expanding daily, and I know for a fact that 'please' is in there.  So, why does she forget to use it from time to time? It's not just 'please', we are also working on 'Thank you' and 'You're Welcome'. 'Excuse Me' on the other hand she has down pat! That's all you hear as she's tearing through the house and occasionally bumping into things - 'Oh...hee hee...Excuse Me!' - and off she goes again.

'Do you need to go potty?'

Because I don't want to be 5 minutes down the road when you decide you have to go...Just as my Mother taught me, and her mother taught I'm teaching you - You always go before you leave the house!

'Did you say Sorry?'

Sometimes a big hug and kiss isn't enough, you're going to have to say the actual words...I don't know why that's so hard for some people...

'Are you hungry?  Are you thirsty?'

It's not that we are trying to love you fat...we are nurturing and caring and want to support healthy growth and energy for running and jumping and playing!  Sometimes little people (and even big people) get too busy having fun to remember that they are hungry or dehydrated, it's our job to make sure that doesn't happen.

So, the next time you sit down to dinner at my house and I ask you if you washed your hands - NO, I'm not YOUR mother ( or a germ-o-phobe ), but I am A mother.  While it may seem bossy and controlling, it's really not.  A mom's main focus is on molding her little people into responsible, productive and independent grown-ups.  We are in constant teaching mode and sometimes it spills over into other areas of our lives and onto other people... .

Friday, April 16, 2010

Birth Control - Fact OR Fiction?!

So, initially I was doing research about the various methods of birth control, but as I was browsing through Planned Parenthood's website, I was rather appalled with my findings. So, rather than focus on the more effective forms of birth control , I thought I would expose some of the myths instead....


I have two cousins who are 11 months doubt, their mother was told breastfeeding was an effective way to prevent pregnancy. Clearly, it was not. As I was glancing at the rankings of the various products and methods Planned Parenthood had listed, I was somewhat stunned to find that breastfeeding was not only on the list, but it was comparable to the birth control pill. Now, I am a huge advocate of breastfeeding, and while it does in fact prevent you from having a period while you are actively nursing your baby, it will NOT necessarily prevent pregnancy. If it did, my doctor ( who knew I was nursing full time) probably wouldn't have handed me a list of forms of birth control that would be compatible with breastfeeding.

Fertility Awareness

My grandmother was a fan....she was also the mother of five. I'm not ruling out the fact that some women can in fact, keep track of their cycles. Personally, I experience ovulating pains on a regular basis....of course that doesn't help me much if I had sex the week before and was relying solely on this method. Sperm can live in your body for up to six days. You can get pregnant for the five days prior to ovulating, the day of and even up to two days after! Add it up ladies...if you want to be sure not to make any mistakes with this method you are giving up sex for at least 13 days..and not any thirteen days, but the thirteen days you are likely to be your horniest - what with your body being in baby making mode and all. If you do decide to have sex, you will be wise to use a back up form of birth control. Really,if you have to do that anyway, why bother with the fertility awareness method at all?!


Ah, the infamous pull out method. Why this made the list at all, is beyond me. I have always considered it more of the birth control urban legend...the myth...the joke. I had a boyfriend who was a fan and I remember the day he mentioned it to me....I laughed and laughed....and laughed some more. All the way to the pharmacy where I picked up my prescription for the pill. Get real, NO man has that much control of their little swimmers and frankly - no man is THAT dependable. Even if they pull out before they shoot out baby makers at full blast, pre-cum ( you know, the opening act nobody comes to see, but it's always there anyway) can actually pick up enough sperm left in the urethra from a previous ejaculation to cause pregnancy. Add to that the possibility of spills..I mean it, anything hits your vagina and your egg is fair game!

Which brings me to my final point. Birth control should be up to you. As much as we would all like to say that it's as much the guy's responsibility ( and really it is), ultimately the consequences of faulty birth control will effect you the most. So, why leave it up to someone else?

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering...jumping up and down after sex- also NOT going to work!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baby Surprise

Finding out that you are pregnant when you weren't planning it can come as quite a shock to the system.  Wondering if you COULD be pregnant when you aren't planning it can be even worse!  Pregnancy came as a big surprise to me.  I remember being in the car, in the passenger seat, and feeling very car sick ( which I never get)  and for no reason whatsoever, it dawned on me - I'm pregnant.  Now, let me back peddle a little here...I had no reason to believe that pregnancy was even a possibility for me, since my husband had had a vasectomy, but there I was.  Woman with baby on board.  Which brings me to my first point.  Never assume it's not possible. 

The only way to be absolutely sure to avoid getting pregnant is abstinence.  No other form of birth control works one hundred percent of the time.  Many are close, but nothing is completely guaranteed.  Birth control pills are great, but only if you take them at the same time every day.  Even then, you've only minimized the risk.  Not too mention, taking additional medicines like antibiotics can completely counter act the pill and the effects you were hoping for. Condoms, forget about it.  I can't even tell you how many condom babies I know...There are so many variables there....did you put it on properly and on time ( right at the start!)?  Did it come off at any point?  Did it break?  A lot can go wrong here. Oh, and my favorite - the pull out method.  Who's still using that one?!  I love when guys insist that they've got you covered...they don't!  There's such a thing as pre-cum and it is just as capable of making a baby....

Now, supposing you had a condom break or even worse, had unprotected sex all together.  Even if you think that you are aware of when you usually ovulate, are you taking into consideration that sperm can actually live inside of you for several days and wait for you to ovulate?!  Didn't think so....

Should you at any point in time become suspicious about what is going on with your body, take the time to pay attention to it.  Have you gotten your period on time?  If not, don't stress.  It is entirely possible that you have freaked yourself out so much that your body is in freeze mode and your period will likely remain a no show until you relax.  However, if you are getting your period, but something still seems off, you need to consider the fact that you can have period like spotting all through out your pregnancy and you don't want to confuse the two. 

So, you have gotten to the point where you are taking a pregnancy test and it comes back negative, but your period still remains out of sight.  It's time to make an appointment with your doc.  Some women will only show up pregnant on a blood test, so no matter how many times you pee on that stick, it is not going to give you an honest answer.  If you peed on the stick and it showed up with a little plus sign in the window - Congratulations - you are going to be a Mommy!

Take a moment, or two...take as long as you want - You've got nine months!  As surreal as it seemed to me to be pregnant, it all became very real and even exciting once I could feel my daughter moving around in my tummy.  It's OK to be scared or even angry, if this wasn't a part of your plan.  Feel whatever you feel and allow yourself to adjust to this situation...and when you're ready - make a new plan!

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Top 5 Favorite Children's Books

Open a book and you open a mind.  If you take the time to read to your children, you can open their minds to so many wonderful things...the possibility of magic and miracles, creative thinking and imaginary play, learning to count and expanding their vocabulary.  Here are some of my  ( and my daughter's) favorite books when it comes to story time in our home....

Alice the Fairy
We love this book.  We read it over and over and OVER again. It's the sweetest little story about a mischievous little girl,who shares her secrets of life as a temporary fairy.  What I love about this book is that it's written from the character's perspective, who in this case is a little girl, much like my little one.  I want my daughter to believe in things like magic wands and magic mirrors...that's part of what makes being a child so special...the ability to BELIEVE.


Pirates Don't Change Diapers

This was the first book my daughter EVER sat still for from beginning to end.  If you are looking for a story that allows you to do fun voices-this is the one! It's actually a sequel in a series, but we had this one first and fell in love.  Even though it may seem like there is a lot of dialogue for a small child to stay focused on, it's such an easy and entertaining read that it was never a problem for us. I had just as much fun reading it to my daughter as she had listening to it.


I See A Monster

I love touch and feel books.  They are such a great way for children to get involved in  the books before they are actually able to read them....sometimes, before they are even completely able to understand them. The sentences are so short and to the point, that I was amazed to find how fast my daughter learned the different words throughout the story, as well as their meaning.  I remember watching my daughter a while back with her book, flipping through the pages and pointing at key parts of the story and saying the words out loud.  It was a proud moment for this mama! 

Five Little Ladybugs

This little book taught my daughter to count!  By the time she was two she was counting to ten and loving it!  Not only can she count, but she can read numbers, too.  In addition to being educational, the colors and art work are great and I love how the little lady bugs are 3d.  If you're not into lady bugs, there are other versions out there...but who doesn't love a little ladybug?!

The Cat In The Hat

OK, this one is a classic and every child should have it!  Well, that's just my humble opinion...but come on - it's 'The Cat In The Hat'!  And as a parent who reads a lot of books over and over again, sometimes with a child who likes to flip the pages before you're ready - there's something to be said for material that is easy to memorize!

I am thrilled that my daughter has a love for books even at this young age.  Few things give my heart more joy, than to watch her run around the living room with her pirate hat on, yelling 'Aargh!';  or when she cries 'hocus pocus' and practices her magic just like Alice the fairy does.  Story time is a time for us to sit together and cuddle up with a good book.  We get to play and use fun voices and giggle as much as we want.  It's not just educational, it's emotional and every parent ought to take the time to do it.  A lot of these books can be read in as little as five or ten minutes...and that could turn into a lifetime love of books and learning.  Think about it...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Psst, Don't Tell The Kids....They're Kids.

I don't understand why so many parents seem to feel the need to treat their children like adults. Who ever decided it was a bad thing to be treated like a child, when in fact you ARE a child?! I remember when sitting at the 'kid's table' was fun and I never once remember feeling slighted or left out when adults did things that were not for children.

So, why this need to keep kids from being kids? Why are parents running out and piercing their daughter's ears when they are only infants? Aren't you essentially poking permanent holes into your baby's otherwise perfect little body? Shouldn't that be a decision she makes for herself when she gets a little older? I, for one, am looking forward to the day when I get to take my preteen daughter to get her ears pierced. I want her to be old enough to not only want it for herself, but also to be able to be excited about it, to pick out her first set of earrings herself!

Now, I've heard the theories that drinking an occasional glass of wine with dinner just like the adults, will help teach your children not to be alcoholics...but quite frankly, I'm not buying it! Whatever happened to talking to your children and educating them?

Letting your young child drink wine or beer, well quite frankly, the whole concept kind of blows my mind! There is a reason the LEGAL drinking age is 21. Consuming alcohol is a very serious thing. Alcohol does physical damage to your body (primarily YOUR BRAIN) every time it is consumed. How about instead of a glass of wine to make your child feel special, you pour some grape juice and sparkling water into a fancy glass and let him or her drink that. It can have the same effect without doing the damage.

Honestly, where do you draw the line? If drinking alcohol is acceptable,are you going to let your child light up a cigarette at the dinner table too? Where do you stand on the subject of Sex? I am no prude and I certainly have no objections to other adults engaging in any of those activities, but there is absolutely no way I will be promoting my children doing them until they are in fact adults themselves.

I'm not going to lie, I'm a big fan of 'Do as I say and not as I do', and I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I am an adult. I'm not saying that I don't always try to lead with a good example as a mother, but I'm also a grown woman. I have earned certain privileges and I'm not going to give them up now just because I'm a mom. I'm also not going to enable my daughter to enjoy those same privileges until she has earned them herself.

That's the part I don't think anyone is really taking into consideration here. By including our children in our adult activities we are taking away their rites of passage. We are giving them all of the fun without any of the responsibilities and we are virtually eliminating their level of motivation to grow up and become productive responsible adults. If we don't let them earn these things, if we let them grow up too soon in some ways...they may never grow up in others.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

5 Guys To Avoid When Searching For Mr. Right

Dating is tough. It's a jungle out there and if you're not heavily ought-ta be. I'm not saying Mr. Right isn't out there, it's just that sometimes all the Mr. Wrongs can be distracting. So, in order to make your search a little easier (and your happily ever after a little sooner), here are some Mr. Not So Right's to steer clear of....

  • The Player

We've all known him, a lot of us have dated him. He is charming and sexy. He dresses impeccably and can carry on a conversation better than any other man I've known. He will wine and dine you and when he takes you out dancing, he will actually dance...and dance well. No matter how busy the bar is, and how painfully aware you are of the fact that he has probably slept with 75% of the women in the room, he will still make you feel like you are the only one he sees. At that very moment, you are. Only what you don't realize is, that while he seems to be looking at you, what he really sees is the bull's eye painted on your panties. Once he makes his goal, he is out of there, leaving you behind to pick up your various articles of clothing and pieces of your broken heart. Finally, as you make your 5am walk of shame down his driveway ( as so many have before you) you will be wondering....just where the hell your underwear ended up?! Even after all this, part of you will still be hoping he calls again. Yes, he's that good.

  • The Fixer-Upper

Ah, the troubled soul, the wounded man, the misunderstood. This guy is hard to pass up, but you're going to have to. I know how easy it is to fall for this guy ( believe me - I know!), not just because he makes us feel needed. What really gets us is the blinding potential. I say blinding because that is the effect it will have on you. From the moment you see his broken little heart and all the aching and breaking it has had to endure, all you will want to do is kiss it and make it better. Only you can't. What's worse, is that you will no longer be able to see all the things that make this seemingly Mr. Right a very Mr. Wrong. Anything he does, that may be hurtful or deceitful or otherwise uncaring and unlikeable, will magically be excusable. It's not his fault he's like this, after what he's been through....blah blah blah. Being in love with the Man he COULD be is going to get you nowhere but to Broken Hearts Ville...and fast. The sad truth is that he is a grown man, and the man he IS, is more than likely, the man he COULD BE. If he wanted to be better, or more ambitious, or happier...he would be, but he's not. So fast, because you become who you hang out with and you don't want to be lousy, lazy and depressed!

  • The Nice Guy

Now I know what you're thinking - what's wrong with the nice guy? Lots, starting with the fact that he doesn't exist. There are Jerks, who are really sweet when they know it's just the two of you. The Real guys, who are just straight forward and straight down the middle, not overly sweet and not overly obnoxious. Then there are Nice guys, who are actually Asses. This guy is SO romantic and SUCH a sweetheart that you think you've hit the jackpot! Yeah, well all that romance won't count for much when he's cheating on you or manipulating you, or finding otherwise underhanded ways to make you feel like less of yourself. Trust me on this, any guy who buys you flowers on a regular basis, is doing it for a may want to find out what it is. Or better yet, just shred the freaking things and leave the rose thorns buried in his bedding. It's probably the least he deserves.

  • The Work-Aholic

Hey, I am all for ambition, but within reason. The right guy will value his job and his career, but not as much as he values you. When he can't show up for events in your life that are important to you, events that he has had time to plan for, he's more committed to his boss than to you. While his boss is signing his paycheck, he's not caring for him, supporting him emotionally, building a life with him and he better not be having SEX with him. If Mr. Works Too Much can't figure out which is more important to him and prioritize, you need to. Put yourself first, and move on.

  • The Bros-Before-Hos Guy

This guy isn't always easy to spot. You want a guy who has friends and close relationships with his brothers or cousins,etc.. You don't want a guy who feels so loyal to his male people, that he shares your secrets, takes their side over yours or lets them influence serious issues in your relationship. This guy may have wonderful qualities that make your world go round, but when push comes to shove, he is more committed to the other sex than he is to you. With him, his priorities lie with the men in his life and you will always be an AFTERTHOUGHT. So, quit wasting your time THINKING ABOUT HIM and think about yourself and what makes you happy. It's not going to be him.

So, there you have it Ladies. Hope this list serves you well. Certainly wish I had had it while I was single and playing the dating game, torturous as it was. Rest assured, I have encountered every one of the 5 Mr. Wrongs, some of them multiple times. May you all learn from my mistakes....Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Parents Are People Too

I have this theory that children who grow up with parents who remain together, see them differently than children who grow up with single parents, be it due to divorce or death, or whatever. Allow me to elaborate.

Children who grow up with their family intact tend to never see their parents as people. They are always Mom and Dad, and they are always viewed through rose colored glasses as individuals who are all knowing and can do no wrong. Don't get me wrong, as a child, I think that is the ideal way to view your parents, but as an adult, I'm not sure how realistic and healthy it is.

On the other hand, children who grow up with a single parent are more likely to see their parents as human beings, adults with needs and wants...and even faults. Here's why I think it's so different - single parents DATE.

When parents remain together all of their needs for companionship and romance, etc. are being met without the children really being aware of it. Mom and Dad are one unit, they take care of the kids as well as each other. I was raised by a single mom, and I remember being a teenager when she started dating again. I hated it. This guy she was seeing wasn't a part of our family and I wasn't prepared to make room for him in our lives. Eventually I realized that by fighting this battle against my mother's love life, I was denying her the same basic things I hoped to find in my own life as I grew up. Love, partnership, support, etc. and in order to see that she needed and wanted those things the same way I did, I had to see her not just as my mom , but as a woman.

As an adult I have enjoyed knowing my mother as a real person. It has allowed to me to build a relationship with her, not only as her daughter, but also as her friend.

In recent years these differences have become more and more clear to me, as my husband grew up in a happy home of two parents and 4 siblings. He sees his parents very differently than I do mine. For instance, he had a natural expectation that I would like his parents and be close to them. While I had certainly hoped for a good relationship with my In Laws, it has been somewhat of a challenge. Myself on the other hand, I had no such expectations. In general, I imagine most people get along with my mother, just because she is an easy going and open person. My step father however, is the opposite. He is a military man and he is not about to go soft on you, when it's so much easier to put the fear of GOD in you to insure that you are treating the people he cares about right. So, when my husband came along, I figured everyone would be polite, but I expected little beyond that. As luck would have it, he fit in quite well with everyone and has become rather close to both of my parents. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't elated, but had things turned out differently I would have been fine with that too. Because the bottom line is that my parents are just people and sometimes in spite of all the best intentions, people just don't like each other. And that's OK.

Getting to know your parents can be a real eye opener. In addition to all the positive qualities they may have, that you didn't see from the child's perspective, it can also allow you to let go of things that may have been holding you back. Parents do the best that they can in teaching their children and molding them into adults, but they're not perfect and they make mistakes. Something they taught you twenty years ago may no longer apply to your life today and recognizing that will allow you to let go of those beliefs that may be hurting you.

I'm not going to lie, at twenty-eight, I still think my Mom is Wonder Woman, but I base that not on my experience as her daughter, I base it on the woman I have known her to be and the things I've seen her accomplish in her life. Maybe you're worried that changing your perspective on your parents could take away from how you feel about them or how much you respect them...maybe it can, sometimes we don't like what we see when we take a closer look and you can't unsee what you've seen, but maybe it can become something even better and more honest than you could have possibly imagined. Getting to know your parent as a person also gives them an opportunity to get to know you as someone other than their child.
And what could be better than having the people who created you and molded you, see you in your truest and most beautiful form.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is Sweetener Sweetening Your Life?

Aspartame, or Amino Sweet as it has been renamed, is an artificial sweetener currently used to sweeten over 6000 of the foods we eat. Anything marked ‘diet’ or ‘light’ is likely to contain this sugar substitute. Most people have come to conclude that using sweetener instead of sugar is healthier and will help you achieve weight loss, or help in maintaining your skinny physique. Unfortunately this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The fact is that consuming products like diet soda will actually increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, which in turn can double your risk of obesity. The intake of artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame, will cause your body to lose it’s ability to count calories and therefore end up stimulating your appetite leading you to consume more….and gain more. However, I’m sorry to say that when it comes to Aspartame, weight gain is the least of your worries.

Aspartame is to date, the most controversial food additive the FDA has ever approved, and when it did so, it was not based on scientific grounds but rather due to the strong political and financial push it was being given behind closed doors. Over the past thirty years there have been 10,000 complaints to the FDA in regards to the side effects people have been suffering due to consuming Aspartame. Side effects like headaches, change in vision, convulsions and seizures, hallucination, nausea, vomiting and joint pain, to name a few. The sad reality is that only about one percent of all the people affected by these symptoms are actually reporting it. That would mean that the actual number of people suffering is close to 1 Million.

Perhaps another shocking detail would be that, before the FDA allowed Aspartame to become mainstream, it was previously listed by the Pentagon as a BIOCHEMICAL WARFARE AGENT. Kind of makes you wonder if the government is at war with its people and simply failed to mention it.

The horror doesn’t stop there. About two thirds of the side effects are neurological, while the remaining third is mostly gastrointestinal. While we would hope that our physicians would be able to diagnose these problems as caused by Aspartame, most of them simply aren’t familiar enough with the product and its adverse effects. Of course it doesn’t help when so many of the symptoms mimic those of other health conditions. For instance -

Multiple Sclerosis

Alzheimer’s Disease


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Panic Disorder


Birth Defects

Lyme Disease

Parkinson’s Disease


Multiple Chemical Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder

Diabetes and Diabetic Complications



So, here’s how that plays out….someone gets diagnosed wrong, starts being treated, likely consuming multiple medications they don’t need, that may or may not be harming their health and, worst of all, they continue to suffer…because they continue to consume Aspartame and no one has told them to stop. Where does it end?

How many people are suffering from depression, forfeiting days, months, even years of their lives to feeling lost and alone, all because the Aspartame in their favorite diet beverage has caused an increase in their dopamine levels and screwed with the dopamine / serotonin balance. Who do you know that suffers from unexplained chronic migraine headaches, so severe, it interferes with their daily activities? How would it change their lives if the answer was as simple as avoiding artificial sweeteners?

As if all of this wasn’t bad enough…the ester bond in Aspartame breaks down to formaldehyde and methanol. Both toxic as I’m sure you are aware, and both have also been found to cause cancer.

So I’ll ask you again – Is sweetener sweetening your life? Or is it robbing you of it, while leaving behind a bitter aftertaste?!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Baby Shower Gifts That Keep On Giving

I remember shopping for baby shower gifts, before I had my baby, and being completely lost. I didn't know the first thing about Babies or what they needed. I think my first gift was a bunch of beanie babies and random items I found at the gift shop I was working at...yes, I was THAT clueless. Over the years I got better at it...mostly because I learned how to work the gift registries. If you want to go the easy route, the registry is always the best way to go. Anything you purchase from that magical list will be greatly appreciated, 'cause hey, Mommy-to-Be picked all that stuff out herself! The only problem is that sometimes first time Mommies have no idea what they are actually going to need. They pick out all the fun stuff, like bouncers, walkers, bedding, toys....all great items, but not enough to get you through that first year. So, here is a list of my personal top 5 gifts to give at baby showers. Give any one of these items in addition to a registry item or on its own, and you will be good to go. It may not be the flashiest gift at the party, but long after the cake is gone and the games are over, it will be the shining star in an otherwise chaotic world. Yes, I said chaotic...have you lived with children?

Number 1 - Cloth Diapers.

They make excellent burping cloths. Super absorbent and ready to handle anything from a little drool to....let's just say they can handle ANYTHING and leave it at that. Plus, they are cheap and you get a lot in just one pack. Trust me on this one!

Number 2 - Nipple Shields

These little babies are going to save the day for those great Mommies opting to breast feed! They are uniquely designed to help with a variety of things, including latching on, inverted nipples and best of all, they allow Mommy's nipples to heal without missing out on any feedings.

Number 3 - Perfect Baby Bathtub

There are a number of different products out there, some offering a lot of wonderful fancy features - don't get sucked in by those! Look for the ones that go in the kitchen sink, NOT the regular tub. Standing while bathing your newborn is not only easier on Mommy's back, it's also safer than climbing up from hovering around the tub, while reaching for towels and trying to hold on to a slick, wet, wiggly baby. Any added features are just the icing...nice, but useless without the cake.

Number 4 - Clothes

 It's always easy to get caught up in the fun of shopping for baby clothes, but unless you are sure that you know Mommy-to-Be well enough to know what her taste and style is, stay away from the cute outfits and stick to the basics. Onesies, Sleepers, anything marked 'footie' or 'sleep and play'. These items are not only practical and comfy, but always in high demand!

Number 5 - Diapers, Diapers, Diapers!

Whether it's in addition to, or THE gift, it's a safe way to go! Just stay clear of the generics....later on when Mommy is cleaning up yet another blow-out due to a faulty diaper, she will be thinking of YOU! And that is NOT an image you want to have tied to your name. Feeling extra generous? Throw in some wipes as well. And again, don't cheap out, it's a gift, remember?!

So, there you have it. Are they the most fun and pretty presents? No, maybe not, but if you are looking for affordable items that will truly help your friend or family member as they embark on this great new journey as a parent, any one of the gifts listed would be appreciated. I know how grateful I was.

So You Think You're Eating Healthy...

I was at the store yesterday picking up a few things, random items like bath soap and pasta. While I was standing in line waiting to check out, I did what I always do - checked out other people's shopping carts. Don't know why I find it so fascinating, but I always think what's in our carts says something about us.

Anyway, the woman in line next to me had a pretty full cart, not only was it full of groceries, but she had a kid sitting in there too. As I went about my business eyeing her purchases, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. She had in there bread, (and not the cheap kind) some of the low-fat milk and tons of produce! And the only thing stuck in my head was - this woman thinks she's eating healthy! She thinks that she is feeding her children healthy and nutritious foods. And while I applaud her for having the best of intentions, I worry that she may not be getting the results she thinks she is.

The truth is that most of our produce is about as good for us as it is toxic. Things like apples and potatoes ( which are likely staples in most households) are some of the worst ones. They are over treated with pesticides to the point that washing and peeling will not actually do the trick. Our leafy greens, like lettuce and spinach are also very high on the list of 'dirty' foods. If you are eating fruits and veggies simply for taste - then hey - have at it! But if you are in it for the nutrition and health factor you may seriously want to consider buying organic. Now on to the milk...have you ever picked up a dairy item and seen it marked ' This milk comes from cows not treated with rBGH' or '....not treated with rBST' and wondered what that meant...and what's the difference between the two? Well, let me tell you, because I did ask myself those questions and these are the answers that I found.

rBST (Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin) is just another name for rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone). rBGH is a genetically engineered variant of the natural growth hormone produced by cows. Apparently using the natural hormone became too expensive at some point, so Monsanto created a cheaper version and sold it under the brand name, Prosilac, to Dairy Farmers all over the country. At this point in time, at least a quarter of the cows in this country are being injected with rBGH. Now you may be thinking - so, what's the problem? Well, I'll tell you.

The problem is that Milk from cows injected with rBGH contains 2 to 10 times as much IGF-1 ( Insulin-like growth factor) than normal milk. Having high levels of IGF-1 may increase a man's chance of getting prostate cancer, in fact the risk is 8 times higher than when a man has lower levels of IGF-1. For women, the risk of breast cancer is 7 times higher! They would like us to believe that pasteurization would totally destroy any harmful additives, but it doesn't. They have also said that when consumed, the body wouldn't absorb it in any way, but studies have shown that it is not completely digested and can make its way to the colon and cross the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.

Having any second thoughts about your '3 a day of dairy' yet? Just in case you're still on the fence about it, here's a little more. Cows injected with rBGH are also more prone to infections and lameness and therefore more likely to be treated with antibiotics! ( Which incidentally Monsanto also supplies.) After 8 years of research and studies, Canada rejected Monsanto's product and banned the treatment of cows with rBGH. They aren't the only ones. Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand have also banned the use for rBGH due to scientific health concerns. So, maybe there's something to it...

At this time Dairy products are not labeled when they DO contain rBGH or rBST, however there are plenty of products telling us they DON'T. So, I urge you to look for those products. If you can afford to go organic - even better! But let's face it, these days we are all on a budget....although come to think of it, Monsanto probably isn't.

Staright People Shouldn't Be Allowed To Get MARRIED!

So, we hear a lot about equal rights in terms of marriage these days and I thought I would weigh in on the subject, Lord knows, I always have something to say about everything. Not only do I think that Gay couples should be able to get married, I'm starting to think maybe they ought to be the only ones...

The longer I am married (going on three years now) the less impressed I am with the whole concept. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband, he's a wonderful man, but marriage between a man and a woman? How is that really supposed to work? Never mind the obvious differences between the two sexes, or should I say, species?! Come on, you know sometimes it feels that way! The whole 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' thing - not an urban legend....

I think my biggest beef with a traditional marriage between a man and a woman, is that the whole thing is based on some very sexist ideas. I mean, lets start at the beginning, the vows. ' I now pronounce you MAN and wife' not off to a very good start here.

Moving right along to the name. When a man and a woman get married it is naturally assumed that the woman will take the man's name. I know, you love the guy and you want to take his name, blah blah blah - what a crock! Chances are you've been walking around with your name and your identity for some twenty or so years by the time you get hitched, and giving that up IS a sacrifice! Unless of course you are in a position to upgrade from some God awful name that is neither spelled nor pronounced properly by the larger part of civilization, then hey, if you can score a 'Brown' or a 'Miller' have at it! I just think it should be a choice, not an unspoken implication. Now if a gay couple were to get married, there would be no such assumptions....I'm just saying.

Then, of course, there is the whole who's going to carry the baby for nine months and follow it up with hours of labor, before shooting the baby out from their most vulnerable body part. I know this is a stretch, but bare with me for a second. I hear it all the time from my guy - 'Let me stay home with the baby! I would love to be a stay at home dad!' Give me a break. Most men wouldn't last a day doing what we women do. Men may work hard all day long, but when they punch out for the day, they are done. Mom's don't clock out, and even when it doesn't look like we are working (we may even look like we are sleeping) we are on call 24/7 and can be back at work in a moment's notice. There are no scheduled breaks,no weekends or paid holidays, and you can forget about paid overtime. So, based purely on biology it's a clear cut choice - women have the children. Now supposing the relationship was made up of two women, or no women! I'd like to think there would be room for some discussion....

Look, I am not anti-love, just anti- marriage. I think it's wonderful and romantic to want to profess your undying love to that special person. It's NOT romantic to be tied to someone for life by LAW. Because that my dears, includes your finances, your credit, your taxes, etc. Basically any important decision you will ever make, will require two signatures from the moment you make it official. And I'm thinking it's only fair that EVERY couple committed to spending their lives together and building a home and family should have to deal with the consequences of that decision. Hey, fair is fair. And as far as I can see, the gay divorce rate will be considerably lower than what we straight people have been able to achieve.

Whose Boob Is It Anyway?

Again and again I am confronted with women who are choosing not to breastfeed their babies, and I continue to be baffled by this! There are actually Women, no wait - Mothers, who are simply not into "that". Well, I got news for you ladies - you're going to have to do sooo many things that you are 'not in to'. Changing diapers at all hours of the day and night, feeding the baby at all hours of the day and night, staying awake when you are sure you couldn't possibly stay awake another second - to name a few. Once you are a mom, there is no more room for selfishness. You can pretty much forget about having your wants met, half the time you will struggle to get your needs met. The first year of my daughter's life I hardly had time to pee, let alone shower. So if you are struggling with the idea of breastfeeding, you may want to reconsider the whole baby thing, because once you get pregnant and have a child, it will be a while before your body is YOUR body again. And breastfeeding is just a small part of that...

Listen, I am a Mom, but I used to be a woman who was not interested in babies, breastfeeding, pregnancy and certainly not labor and delivery! I had no intention of ever participating in any aspect of the experience and I knew the only way it would ever happen was by sheer miracle because I was taking EVERY precaution. Well, one miracle later and I am the proud mama of a beautiful Baby Girl!

Once I found out I was pregnant it was easy to change my diet and adjust my lifestyle. Not because I had been waiting for this blessed event my entire life, but because I knew it was the right thing to do! Same thing happened when it came to giving birth! If I had had it my way they would have knocked me out and done a C-section, but my doc wasn't going for that. Instead I had a natural delivery ( assisted by the greatly appreciated epidural!) and found it to be well worth it once I laid eyes on my baby. Then the time came to nurse and it wasn't easy, but it was done! I have never had so many strangers play with my nipples, nor have I ever seen my boob in so many pictures ( my husband was having a great time- sure they were all of the baby!) and I have also never experienced anything quite so incredible. Nursing your baby is the most indescribable feeling and if you have done it you know exactly what I'm talking about, if you chose not to, consider it a lost treasure - a fortune you declined!

Since I can't force every mom to nurse their baby, maybe I can point out some of the many benefits that maybe not everyone is aware of.

Well, there's the obvious reason, the nutrition. Breast Milk is perfectly produced by your body and will give your baby everything it needs to be healthy and grow. In addition to that, it works wonders on your baby's immune system. If the mom is exposed to anything, her body will develop antibodies and pass them on to the baby automatically. Never heard of formula doing that...

Breast Milk never has to be measured, heated or mixed. It is always ready and always the right amount. There is no sterilizing and no diaper bag overflowing with bottles and nipples, etc.

While you are the only person who can feed your baby, you can feed your baby anytime! Even in the middle of the night, and you never even have to get out of bed, if you don't want to.

Babies who are breastfed are less likely to be overweight, mostly because it's unlikely that they will be over fed. As mentioned above, it is always the right amount. It's a supply and demand sort of thing...

On the same note, Mom's who breastfeed are likely to lose the baby weight faster due to the several hundred calories they are burning a day by simply nursing their babies. Maybe you're not into that either.

Now to the best bonus for us women, while you are nursing frequently you will NOT get your period! ( However, this does not mean, that you cannot get pregnant.)

If you are still worried about the pain, there are these nifty little things called nipple shields. Not only do they allow your nipples to heal, but they also help with inverted nipples and teaching your baby to latch on properly.

Last but not least - Breast Milk is FREE! And in this economy, who isn't looking to save a few dollars whenever they can?! Especially when you are looking at buying diapers and wipes so often, you wish you owned stock in Huggies...

Look, I'm not just pushing the issue because I truly believe it's the healthiest thing you can do for your baby. I also know what it has meant to me as a mom, to share that with my baby. I'm not saying other mom's aren't close to their Babies, no doubt they are, but no matter what you say or want to believe, it's simply not the same.

Valentine's 101

Most people think of Valentine's Day and they think of love and romance...I think of something a little different. After several near disasters I have learned some important Valentine's lessons. Here are some things you may want to think about before you embark on this wonderful holiday of love...

When I think back on my first official Valentine's Date (And by official I mean the guy picks you up at your house in a car - not a bike. And there are no parents involved.) I think of high school and a guy, well, let's call him Joe. The blessed day arrived and after much anticipation I had to face my mother almost putting a stop to the whole thing because she found out that he had been drinking through out the day and didn't want me in the car with him. Rightfully so, because once I convinced her it was ok and we were on the road, we made a pit stop at a friend's house where he proceeded to smoke a joint before we hit the road again. When the date was finally on it's way, we blew off the dinner reservations we had, for another restaurant that Joe really wanted to take me to, but without reservations on Valentine's day....well let's just say, things didn't turn out the way he had hoped. In the end we found ourselves at Chili's being waited on by one of my best friends whom I hadn't spoken to in months (she has a knack for dropping off the radar from time to time). The night was entertaining for sure....but romance....I don't remember any of that.

There are quite a few gems in that little story. Let's review -

Mama always knows BEST!

Drinking and driving is BAD! (Driving while high...also not so great)

If you HAVE reservations on Valentine's Day, USE them!

If you don't have reservations on Valentine's Day, MAKE them!

Fast forward a few years and it's Valentine's Day again. Now, you might be dating a redneck, when at the top of your man's wish list is a pet goat! Of course, I'm not sure what it says about you, when you actually give him one....That's right ladies and gentlemen, on Valentine's day, my boyfriend came home to find a real live goat in his house. It had a lovely red bow around his neck and everything! Not my proudest moment...actually not sure why I'm even sharing it with you.

Finding the perfect Valentine's gift for that special someone, isn't about how much money you spend on it or how big and impressive it is. It's about how much you know your Valentine would like it and doing what it takes to put that smile on his or her face. Even if you think it's a little weird...or crazy. Hey, if my guy had wanted a watch or a wallet, I would have gladly gotten him either - or both....but he wanted a I gave him one.

Then, more recently was the first Valentine's day for me and my husband, well, we weren't actually married yet. Anyway, I had to work and he went to dinner with his family. Very romantic, I know. It was even better when my ex showed up at my job and proceeded to get wasted ( I was a bartender at the time). So yeah, I spent that year with my drunk ex, who wasn't exactly there to wish me best of luck with my new relationship.

Life can get busy and schedules can be crazy, but if you don't make that extra effort to at least show up on Valentine's never know, maybe someone else will.

But my all time favorite Valentine's Day was when I was nine months pregnant. We were at a lovely restaurant and it was beautiful and romantic... and I had contractions all through dinner.

Valentine's Day can be planned as perfectly as possible and sometimes things still don't go the way you had hoped. In the end it doesn't matter what you do or what you get....just who you're

Want To Have More SEX?

Men, are you feeling like certain aspects of your relationship have gotten neglected ever since that short bald person took over your lives? Well, I'm not surprised. I've heard that the first two years after a baby is born are the toughest on a marriage, and as my daughter's second birthday approaches, I am here to confirm that the rumor is true! Among several issues, the one most worth avoiding is the lack of sex. So, in order to help you men out a little, I have put together a list of things that may help you get a little more attention in the bedroom. Read it, and Good luck!

First things first, make sure we have plenty of time to shower! When we are in a hurry, we don't shave our legs, we let our hair air dry and you can forget about make up all together. And while I think it's wonderful that you find us irresistible even when we are wearing sweats and your old t-shirt with our hair in a bun and dried tooth paste on our chin, we feel barely human, let alone womanly. And sex is the LAST thing we are thinking about.

Second, YOU need to shower. There is a lot to be said about having a level of comfort in a marriage. It's nice not to always have to be at your best, but that doesn't mean that you no longer have to try AT ALL! We may still love you when you are all scruffy and smelly, but does it turn us on?! I'm going to go with NO. So, I don't care if it's Sunday and you've been bumming around the house all day, don't come by and give me a wink and a slap on the ass and expect me to follow you to the bedroom.

Third, if baby's bedtime is at eight don't lie around watching TV, playing video games, or cruising around on the internet until eleven. WE are tired! By the time you finally get to bed and think it's time to get your groove on, we are thinking about sleeping and at the point, quite frankly, it's simply not worth the effort. If your kid is anything like mine, they don't sleep through the night, and in my case, not even til midnight. So the later you wait, the smaller your window of opportunity gets. For multiple reasons.

Now, this does not mean that at 8:05 we want to see you standing there with your pants draped around your ankles. I'm sure you would agree that sex with you shouldn't be just one more thing we have to do, but with a proposal like that... well, how else are we supposed to feel. Instead, look around and see if there is anything left to do, like cleaning the kitchen, picking up toys, etc.. Once all of that is done, try some conversation. Be sure to talk TO us and not AT us. Ask us how our day was, show genuine interest. Hold us. Rub our shoulders, or our feet... whatever aches! Kiss us. We want to feel close to you, too. Just remember, Sex starts with the head... for both of us.

Last but not least consider this - Our world revolves around our children. It may seem romantic to say that your world revolves around us, but if it does, that means that we are NEVER in the same place.

To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate

A while back I had to take my daughter in to see her pediatrician. It wasn't anything major and I was expecting to be in and out of there... and I almost was. Before I knew it, we were back on the topic of flu shots. Now I had just been in for my daughter's check up a few months earlier, where I thought we had covered the whole flu shot shebang, but apparently my pediatrician had geared up for round two without telling me.

So there we were again- 'Have you thought about getting your daughter the flu shot this year?' 'Nope.' 'Well, then have you thought about getting the swine flu shot for her?' 'Nope.' Allow me to elaborate - From the day my daughter was born I have been very selective about the vaccinations I am willing to give her. Not because I believe that there is a link between certain vaccines and autism (although I most certainly do!), but because I honestly believe that we were given an immune system for a reason. You might think that it's cruel and unusual punishment for me to leave it open to chance that my daughter may or may not have to endure the chicken pox as a child, but I think her body was perfectly crafted by God and I would like to do as much as I can to keep it that way. Injecting her with a virus and added toxins just doesn't seem the way to do it.

On top of that, they now offer vaccines that don't even serve a real purpose. For example, they are giving the hepatitis vaccine to newborns these days, because it's easier to make sure everyone gets their shot at birth than to wait it out and hope the teenagers show up to get it. It's not really needed for babies and young children. And here's the kicker - chances are it will be out of your child's system again by the time they are old enough to actually have to worry about it and they will most likely have to take the shot all over again! Now, tell me how that makes sense... unless of course, you are the pharmaceutical company supplying these vaccinations, then it makes plenty of sense! Add to that the vaccine that helps prevent ear infections in babies. Seriously, who is getting that one? Maybe wait it out a little and see. Chances are your baby won't have chronic ear infections and in fact will be just fine. If time goes by and you find that your baby does seem to be prone to them, you can always get it then.

We, as a people, don't want to suffer and when we do, we insist on the immediate magic fix. Well, sometimes it's just a part of life to suffer and if you suffer a little and stick it out, you may not suffer at all later on. Point in case - the swine flu! As it has turned out, the older you are and the more you've been around (perhaps have had the regular flu a time or two in your life) the less affected you are likely to be by the swine flu. Want to know why? Because your body (once perfectly crafted by God) can evolve and adjust and learn to fight things off like the flu all on it's own... but only if we let it.

As I am telling my pediatrician all of this (the condensed version, of course) she decides to try and ease my fears. How does she do this? By looking me square in the eye and saying ' Well we are giving pregnant women this shot, and you know we wouldn't do that if it wasn't completely safe.' Really?! Lady, when was the last time you turned on the TV? Last time I checked there were about a gazillion attorney commercials looking for women whose children were born with birth defects do to the medications they were taking while pregnant. No doubt their doctor told them it was completely safe, too! I didn't laugh at her, but I wanted to. When that tactic didn't work she moved on to this one -'What about other people? Your daughter may be able to handle the flu just fine but what if she exposes other younger children or pregnant women?' Keep your guilt Doc! I'm not packing to go on that trip! Didn't you just get done telling me that pregnant women are GETTING the vaccination?!

Look, the bottom line is this, I am responsible for my daughter's health and well-being, period. Every parent has to make their own decisions about what's right for them. I can't worry about every kid in the world, I keep pretty busy with just one. In case you are still wondering, my daughter will not be getting the flu shot. Not now, probably not ever! Oh... and I'm also in the market for a new Pediatrician.