Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Grass is Greener - Guest Post

Hello all! Big thanks to Mama G for letting me guest while she's busy moving. My name is Jenn and I blog over at Pdx Momma. I blog about photography, healthy living and weightloss (I try), my son Ozzie, and living in the rainiest place on the planet... Portland, OR. That's a slight exaggeration, but if you lived here you would understand. Hope to see some of you join in the fun over at my place sometime soon!

For the last 3 months I have been a stay at home mom... against my will. No seriously, I got laid off in August and haven't had much choice but to take little man out of daycare. I recently accepted a new position (THANK GOD) and started my new job on 11/22. I wanted to share what I learned during the last 3 months. A little something I like to call "The grass is always greener".

I was never that mom sat at work all day wishing I could stay at home. I always knew that I wasn't cut out for it. I also knew we cannot afford it. I like working. I love helping folks and in my line of work (HR) I get to do that. I need to be intellectually stimulated. That didn't stop me from being secretly jealous of my friends that did stay at home full time. Not everyday, but on the days that I was stressed out and hating my job, yes. Reality hit me smack in the face on 8/14 when I got the news I was being laid off. Be careful what you wish for Jenn. 24 hours a day with my 18 month old. Sh*t. This was gonna be rough.

Turns out I am a pretty good SAHM mom though. The house wasn't clean everyday, I definitely had my share of evenings at Happy Hour as soon as Hubs got home, and I did wanna sell his whiney butt a LOT OF DAYS. But then we had days like this:
... and this...
He even helped with the cleaning...
When I look at these photos I am already nostalgic. Kind of like childbirth, doesn't take long to forget the pain and make you wanna do it all over again. OK no, just kidding. I had 30 hours of labor, with 2 failed epidurals, and an emergency C-Section. I haven't forgotten that sh*t yet. 

Where was I... oh yeah. Being a SAHM vs a Workin Momma. A friend of mine is having a hard time with her return to work after having her (surprise!) 3rd kiddo. She posted to Facebook asking "For those of you that work, would you change it and stay home? Help me make peace with this decision." I feel for her. I know exactly how great and how utterly frustrating it can be to be home all day it was for me. It really got me thinking. I find it so interesting how different our views were. I was sitting home begging to go back to work. She was sitting at work longing to be a SAHM.

Well, I am happy to have had the opportunity to know for a FACT that I do prefer to work. I appreciate my time with him so much more, we can pay the bills, and I feel completely satisfied.  Now if I can just talk my boss into letting me work 3.5 days a week, that would be PERFECT. Oh and remind me on the tough days that I do not wanna switch back!

Do you stay at home or work? Would you prefer the other?

Come visit and follow along at Pdx Momma!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Toddler Survival Guide - Guest Post

Hello there Followers of Geekdom!
My name is Shannon, and I am the genius behind Baby Shmizz.  I am a full-time mommy to my son Jack, (oh yeah, and I have another job too, I'm a Physician Assistant working in Emergency Medicine) and MILF to my pastry chef husband Mike.  We live in our overpriced little home sweet shack just north of Boston with our quirky rescue dog, Tessie.  We're a little bit crazy and a whole lotta fun, but fair warning, we don't have a filter!

Mama G asked me to guest post for her while she is moving to New England, ya know, my neck of the woods :)  Since Carina is coming up on her 1st birthday, I thought I would give the G's a little Toddler Survival Guide....

A Mom's Favorite Cookie Jar
Nope, its not for what you're thinking of.  I devised this solution one day out of desperation, because I was sick of having a mess in my cabinet.  We were given a sleek Williams Sonoma cookie jar for our wedding to match the canister set we registered for.  It usually just sat on the countertop empty (stupid, I know).  One day when I was straightening the bin of washcloths in the cabinet I used for wiping Jack's face for the 10,000th time, I looked at the cookie jar.  Voila!  Stick the washcloths in the cookie jar!  No need to fold them, they are within easy reach and disguised quite nicely.  Plus, now you don't have to fill it with cookies :)  I use the thin little baby washcloths, because they are soft and you can smush a ton into the jar :)

Snack Traps
These are awesome.  They allow little hands to reach in and pull out a few bites of a snack, but if they tip it over, the snack doesn't fall out!  It took Jack a little while to figure these out, but now we love them.  He gets his morning and afternoon snack in there.  And, if you need to throw it in your purse or diaper bag, it doesn't spill :)

Big Kid in the Big Tub
Note: Jack is WAY cuter than this kid.
Around Jack's 1st birthday we switched him out of the baby bathtub and moved him into the adult tub.  It seemed to me that every bath organizer and spout cover out there cost a fortune, and didn't work very well.  We ended up with this spout cover and this toy net, and of course a non-skid mat so that he didn't slip around in the tub.  In total, we toddler-proofed our tub for less than $20 :)  Best part about toddler bathtime?  Splashing in bubbles :)

Bibs That Can't Be Pulled Off

Note: Jack is much cuter than this kid as well:)
Toddler eating is messy.  They wipe their hands in their hair, on their pants, on your chair & table and of course on the dog.  Jack went through a phase where he would NOT wear a bib.  I had a ton of velcro-closure bibs, and he would just yank them off.  I am in LOVE with these Aden & Anais Burpy Bibs.  They are nice and big, so they cover the shoulders, upper back and chest.  But since they are made out of muslin, they are nice and light and very soft.  And the best part?  It secures with a snap, which means try as he might, Jack can't pull it off :)  Don't think that these are only for toddlers, you can also use them as burp cloths over your shoulder when you have a wee newborn :)

Cleaning Wipes

Yeah, I totally rock this get-up in my house,

only I don't look as evil as this chick.
Toddlers are messy.  I think I mentioned that.  Not only when they are eating, but just in general.  Boogers, drool from teething, dripping sippy name it, they will make a mess with it.  I wanted something that I could grab quickly to clean up, and not have it be laden with strong chemicals with even stronger fumes.  I'm a huge fan of organic and natural products, so BabyGanics All Purpose Surface Wipes work for us.  I use them to wipe down his little kid table, his booster seat, the endtables, his playkitchen, toys, pretty much everything.  With toddlers, you need to be able to clean up quickly, because if you leave the mess lying around, they are just gonna make it worse.

Patience and a Sense of Humor

Dude, if this was your kid, you would

have cornered the market on humor...
These are the 2 most invaluable things that you need when raising a toddler.  They are ridiculously cute, but they can definitely wear on your last nerve.  It's all so worth it though, when they run up to you and hug your leg, or sit in your lap asking for you to read their favorite book (for the 400th time that day).  I need to remind myself every day that as frustrating as the day may be, Jack is only little for so long, and I truly try to cherish every moment.

Thanks Mama G and Carina for letting me hang out on one of my favorite blogs!  

So readers, what kind of toddler tips do you have for the G's?  Let's see 'em!  Comment away!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Cry, Cry Baby - Guest Post

Thanks, Mama G., for letting me loose on your blog.

Hi! I'm Vanessa, and I blog over at Little Gray Pixel. I like gelato, shooting photos, going to the beach and sleeping past 6 a.m., which is unfortunate because that's when my 10-month-old daughter, Alexa, usually wakes up and starts happily shrieking.

Speaking of shrieking, there's a lot of it going on here lately. Alexa has always been what I'd call "spirited." She was vocal as a newborn, labeled "feisty" by the pediatrician and she's happy to test the limits of her vocal chords for ... no special reason, really. Just 'cause.

Normally she does her vocal experiments with a smile, like so.

But lately she has learned a new set of cries that have nothing to do with her basic needs. There are so many of them, all meaning different things, but they all have one thing in common: THEY ARE INSANE.

The "Hey, you're making me milk!" cry.
I can tell when she's hungry, and typically it's around the scheduled times of day that she normally eats. But here's the thing: she's happy until she sees me making her bottle or preparing her food. Then she starts the complaining. Meh! she says impatiently. I'm making your bottle, I say. Meh! Meh! Meh! Meh! And then the full-fledged: Waaaaaaaaah! This continues until the bottle is in her mouth, then silence and smiles.

Don't even think about prying this spider out of my hand.

The "Hey, you took something ... whatever that was ... away from me" cry.
Who knew this piece of lint held such meaning for my child? As soon as I extricate it from her clutches, there's the sad face. Then the scrunchy face. Then the wail. Weeeeeehhhhh! Insert lint back into fist. Happy face. Take it away, Weeeeeehhhh! Give it back, happy face. Repeat.

The "Hey, don't you dare lay me on my back" cry.
This cry is accompanied by kicks and spastics. Diaper changes, naptime, even leaning her backward in the tub to rinse the shampoo out of her hair. This cry sounds like she's being tortured. It's a full-fledged scream. Upright again? No tears.

Stop taking 5,000 photos of me and hold me, Mommy.

The "Hey, if you have time to do that, you have time to hold me" cry.
Dishes need to be done. Photos need to be taken. Pee breaks need to happen. If these things happen when Alexa is bored and wants attention, watch out. The whining commences. At first it is breathy and cute. Then it gets shrill and annoying. But it's also fake. As soon as I pick her up, she wants back down to play with the toys that just a second ago were not enough to hold her interest. Sigh.

I try to keep my cool with all of these cries, saying soothing things like, "Just a minute." Or "Mommy's right here." Or "No, honey, you can't eat lint." Sometimes I've almost retorted, "Save the drama for your mama." Oh. Wait.

Thanks for taking over, Vanessa! Visit Vanessa and her adorable Alexa over at Little Gray Pixel.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goodbye Wisconsin

Had you asked me ten years ago if I ever had an inkling to move to the Midwest, the answer would have been an emphatic "No".

But then, I fell in love. With a boy who had all but signed the official papers to move himself to Madison, Wisconsin for the next five plus years.

I wasn't ready to move at first. We had been dating less than a year and I thought that moving half-way across the country was too big of a step at that point. So we did long distance.

My first visit to Madison in September 2006
After a year, I took the plunge. I packed myself up and drove on I-90 and I-80 from Boston to Wisconsin. We moved in together. We adopted two kittens.

Layla and Rufus at 5 weeks old
On New Years Eve of 2007, in our brand new apartment (literally, we moved in that night), Mike asked me to marry him. I told him that nothing would make me happier.

Raise your hand if you remember this photo! It's my favorite of our engagement photos taken at a park in Madison, and it adorned the header of my blog until March of this year.
We were married at the church on the Villanova University campus in April of 2009, and arrived back in Madison after our honeymoon. Not two years later, Carina was born.

Carina est. 12/28/2010
Madison will always hold a special place in my heart because it is where we became we. First, me and Mike. Then, all three of us. Since Mike and I have been here together we have gotten engaged, married, and added a member to our family (okay, actually three members) ;)

We. Here.
So with a {slightly} heavy and hopeful heart, we leave in 36 hours. I will likely shed a few tears while I board the plane. Not necessarily tears of sadness, but more for the nostalgia I think I will always feel for this town, this state. Where we began.

And to be truthful, oh my goodness will I miss the cheese and beer.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Carina's Christmas List

If Carina could talk, I'm pretty sure that she would tell me that she wants these things for Christmas... ;)

  1. Boikido Wooden Musical Building Blocks
  2. Sweet December Hats Holiday Elegance headband - use code GEEKY10 for 10% off your order
  3. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Tea Set
  4. Rockabye Buzzy Bee Rocker - on Zulily for 50% off through 11/27 (just bought this yesterday!)
  5. Ralph Lauren Short-Sleeved Velour Dress
  6. B. Toys Zany Zoo Wooden Activity Cube 
  7. Tiny Tillia Plush Bowling Set - check out my Tiny Tillia giveaway going on right now!
  8. Melissa & Doug Picnic Basket Fill & Spill Toy
  9. Chaos and Love Shop Crocheted Viking Hat - use code GEEKYFALL10 for 10% off your order

What's on your little one's Christmas list?


Friday, November 25, 2011

Orderly Chic - Review & Giveaway! CLOSED

I'm sure you might have realized by now that I am a bit of a planner and thrive on being well organized. When Kay from Orderly Chic, a unique line of organizational products, asked if I would be interested in trying out one of her items, I jumped at the chance.

"Orderly Chic is the brainchild of industrial designer Kay Magnie McLellan, who says “In 2001, I was given a boost into a new career by the universe.” Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Kay was no longer able to put the long hours in at the computer required for her job in interface design. After a “period of mourning” as Kay calls it, she decided to leverage her new condition to design products that eased the stress and pain of everyday life -- ills that are magnified when living with a chronic pain condition – to promote well being."

Kay's List Boards and Note Boards are essentially white boards with style. They are much prettier and more creative than your standard office supply white boards, but function just the same. I recently started mealplanning each week (as opposed to just buying random groceries and spending 20 minutes each night hemming and hawing over what to make for dinner), so I thought that the Weekly List Board would be perfect.

Even the markers are magnetic!
I love having this visual! I can never seem to remember what I plan on cooking every night, and lately I've been misplacing my grocery lists when I return from the store, so this board serves as the perfect reminder as to what I planned on preparing. M also likes being able to see (and hopefully look forward to) what is for dinner each night. The board has magnets in each of the four corners, and holds onto our refrigerator very strongly. It is 22 1/2" high x 7 3/4" wide; it fits perfectly on the upper freezer portion of our fridge. I absolutely love that the two markers that come with the board are also magnetic! Otherwise I'm sure they would get lost in my house.

This Weekly List Board doesn't have to be a menu board, you could use it for your class/activity/work schedule. Or maybe a reminder to write certain blog posts on certain days of the week (lol)?

Close up, in case you really want to see what is on our menu
Bottom line: I love this board! And now I'm hungry...stuffed shells...mmmm...

Visit Orderly Chic and let your inner {or outer, as in my case} Type-A tendencies run wild with ideas of how to use the List Boards and Note Boards.

Kay is generously offering a $40 shop credit to one of my readers!

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Click "Read More" below and then follow the instructions on the widget. All currents count! Please contact me at if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter. *US Residents Only*

The first entry is mandatory - Visit Orderly Chic and leave a blog post comment telling me which product and version you like best! If (and only if) you cannot get my comments to work, you can add this info in the "Extra Info" box that appears in Rafflecopter when you click "I Did This!" Once you complete this entry, the widget will give you the option of completing the rest. Complete more steps for more chances to win!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Lame Thanksgiving Poem

So much to be thankful for, Carina...

Ten tiny fingers and ten stubby toes

Two hamhocks and a cute little nose

Bright brown eyes and a big wide smile

Just hearing your laugh makes life worthwhile
How blessed are we.

Yep, I'm that cheesy.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Professor Peanut

Well, it's done! M defended his thesis yesterday and he did a fantastic job. It made me so proud to watch him, and I'm glad Carina was there, too. She never cried or fussed, but did a bit of babbling and cooing so I had to take her outside for a few minutes. Fortunately I didn't miss much of his presentation.

So as I'm sure you can imagine, we have been celebrating! But for now, we have a long day of packing ahead of us. So please enjoy these pics of before and after the defense. Carina had some fun crawling around the room...

Stealing Daddy's glasses - M calls this the Professor Peanut (she does this often)


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Toddle Along Tuesday - Thankful (Dr. M Edition)

Today at 10:30 AM, M defends his thesis. So by the time you read this post, he might already be Dr. M. This is the culmination of 5 years and almost 4 months of long hours and time away from home. I'm almost shaking as I write this...I cannot put into words just how happy I am right now.

I am thankful....

That my husband has fulfilled one of his dreams.

That we will have much more time together than ever before.

That we will soon be within a relatively short drive of our friends and families.

That we are one step closer to being able to (finally) settle down.

September 2006 - my first visit to Wisconsin

So thankful for you.

For how hard you've worked.

For all we've been through.

For all that has yet to come.

Since Thanksgiving is Thursday, this week's topic is what you are thankful for. Link up a post you've already written or go write one now! Never participated before? It's a great time to jump in! Anyone is welcome. There are no rules except that you link up a post rather than your whole blog.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Carina's Favorite "Toys"

I put "toys" in quotes because none of these are things that a baby should actually play with. I'm pretty sure that some of them would appear in the "DO NOT LET YOUR BABY PLAY WITH THESE" Bible, if it existed.

But, Carina's love for these is as immense and undeniable as it is frustrating. I don't have photos to go with most because when I see her chomping on the computer cable the last thing I'm going to do is take my sweet time snapping the perfect picture.

Electrical Cords
We try to keep as many cables as far away from Carina as possible, but unfortunately some of them are {temporarily} in rather prominent places. This will change when we move. No matter what she is playing with or doing, if she sees the computer cord she crawls over as fast as she can, picks it up, waves it around, and then proceeds to bite it. Luckily, I can usually catch her before the cord makes the speedy journey to her mouth.

The Remote Control
Mostly innocuous, except for the plethora of disgusting germs lurking on and around each and every button. VOM. She wants to shove it in her mouth so badly. Again, I am usually able to stop her before in the mouth it goes most of the time. More photos of Carina's love affair with the remote.

Marry me, sweet sweet clicky thing?

Trash Can
Our trash can is pretty gross on the outside as well as the inside. It's possible that I haven't cleaned it in quite a long time, and I'm not in a rush to do it now, either, since we're just going to throw it out when we move. Carina loves mirrors, and the trash can is stainless steel, so to her it must be like OMG PRETTY SORT-OF MIRROR. As soon as it comes into view she makes a beeline for it. Most of the time I'm able to run over and grasp her little hands right as they are about to rest on the shiny cesspool. Eww...I shudder thinking of those germs. I promise I will keep up with cleaning in our new place.

DVD Player
Ever since she could kneel, Carina has been going after the DVD/VHS combo player that we have {yes you read that correctly, a VHS player!} She likes to push the buttons (no big deal), bang on it (ehh, not going to hurt it), and stick her fingers in the VHS slot (eeek?) I usher her away from it every time she starts reaching for the opening, but sometimes I'm not quick enough. Just the other day she got one of her little fingers stuck and I felt like the most horrible Mother ever. It was only for a few seconds and she was fine, but I think I died a little inside.

About to attempt to shove her tiny fingers into the VHS opening

I don't know what it is about the iPhone that screams "best teething toy EVER!" but Carina seriously thinks it is. She clamors for it like nothing else in existence. In addition to probably being quite germy, I'm selfish - and I don't want her to destroy it with drool. So...sorry sweetie, no iPhone for you.

Wow. Upon re-reading that it might appear as if I never supervise my child. I promise that I do, she is just extremely fast. And most of these items have seen less action since the inception of the baby jail. Phew!

What "toys" does your baby try to play with?

P.S. I'll be reviving my Favorite Things posts soon!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tiny Tillia - Review & Giveaway! CLOSED

My good friend Amy Ferezan is an Avon Representative, and Avon recently launched Tiny Tillia, a line of products especially for babies, from birth to 2 years!

"Originally sparked by a mother's love for her children, Tiny Tillia by Avon is a world of charming baby products designed to turn everyday routines into special moments for mother and child. The softest cotton babywear. The smartest developmental toys. The most inspired nursery decor. The highest quality bath and body products. An entire Mommy Tillia line to pamper mom. There's even a cast of lovable characters like Dilly Pig and Duncan Dog who are bound to become baby's new BFFs."

Amy sent Carina the reindeer PJ set to try out, and OMG as soon as I put them on - I died. They are the cutest PJs I have ever seen. It wouldn't be weird at all for her to wear them after Christmas is over, right?

I think these PJs look enough like normal clothes, too, that baby could easily wear them out. Why waste the cuteness on the crib? You'll want other people to see your baby in them, trust me. I'm planning on having Carina wear them when we fly to Connecticut next week {yes I plan her outfits this far in advance sometimes} ;) I have no doubt they will put a smile on many a face.

The top has an adorable reindeer, and the bottoms are reminiscent of a Scandinavian snowflake pattern. They are 100% cotton and machine washable.

My only complaint would be that they seem to run small. Carina is shown here in size 12-18 Months, but I honestly don't think they will fit her for too much longer. I would recommend buying up a size. The size chart, in my opinion, seems quite a bit off. I wish Tiny Tillia carried sizes larger than 18-24 Months!

Because I just can't post enough cute pictures of her in these

Visit Tiny Tillia for these adorable Pajamas (currently on sale for only $15!), baby clothes, blankets, bath essentials, and toys! Some of my favorites:

Amy is generously offering a $25 Tiny Tillia credit to one of my readers!

I promise she really likes these PJs - she was just mad that I wouldn't give her the camera

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Click "Read More" below and then follow the instructions on the widget. All currents count! Please contact me at if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter. *US Residents Only*

The first entry is mandatory - Visit Tiny Tillia and leave a blog post comment telling me how you would spend your $25 credit. If (and only if) you cannot get my comments to work, you can add this info in the "Extra Info" box that appears in Rafflecopter when you click "I Did This!" Once you complete this entry, the widget will give you the option of completing the rest. Complete more steps for more chances to win!

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