Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #26 - More time for blogging!

ttflowersWe've all seen the television shows one by one start to 'go dark' as they run out of episodes during the writers' strike. Some of my favorite shows are already into reruns or off the air all together. Even with American Idol back and Lost starting up again tonight, it's leaving me with either a lot of extra time in the evenings - or a much smaller load of guilt since I'm no longer watching tv instead of doing other things that I should be doing (like oh, housework, dishes, laundry). And oh yes, it's left me more time for blogging and blog-reading! :)

I actually am enjoying not being beholden to the television in the evenings - I can watch it if I want to (there's a still a few shows on our DVR that I need to watch, or new episodes of some of my favorite cable network shows), but I don't feel like I have to. It's made me realize a couple of things - first that I watch way too much television, and second that if I actually turn off the television, I have more energy and interest in doing other things than I thought I would.

Here are my favorite shows that have already 'gone dark':

  1. Criminal Minds

  2. CSI

  3. CSI: Miami

  4. Grey's Anatomy

  5. Heroes

  6. Law & Order: SVU

  7. NCIS

  8. Numb3rs

  9. Private Practice

  10. Without a Trace

And since that's only 10, here are 3 more popular shows that I don't watch but which also have run out of episodes - this isn't the entire list, but you can see the full list of which shows do and don't have episodes left at TV Gui*e.

  1. 30 Rock

  2. Desperate Housewives

  3. The Office

Links to other Thursday Thirteeners:



The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thank you to Write From Karen for the header graphic this week!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

There and back - and there and back again...

Beccas2ndBday_003Yesterday was Becca's two-year checkup. Now normally I like it when my kids have their well-baby/kid checks. It's an opportunity to see how much they've grown, have a few minutes with our pediatrician to talk over concerns or questions and show off my kids to the office staff. I absolutely love our doctor, the nurses and everyone at the office - they know and remember our kids from visit to visit. And I feel like they take any concerns that we have seriously.

There is only one thing that I wish I could change about our pediatric office - the location. You would think that it would be very convenient - I work downtown, and our pediatrician is located downtown, in the same building as my ob/gyn actually. It's literally about a 5-minute drive from work.

Work, which is where I am during the day. My kids are at daycare. Which is very conveniently located close to home. Conveniently for everything except doctor's appointments, that is.

You see, even though my commute really isn't bad at all (it's about a 10 to 15 minute drive from home to downtown on most days) it's multiplied when I have to take one of the kids into the pediatrician, especially if the appointment is in the middle of the day, like yesterday's was.

Becca's appointment was at 11:30 am. Ok, I figured I'd take her over my lunch hour. And the actual appointment itself did only take less than an hour.

But it was the 15 minutes it took to drive from work to daycare, then the 15 minutes to drive from daycare back downtown to the pediatrician's office. Then repeated in reverse again afterward - 15 minutes from pediatrician to daycare and finally the 15 minutes from daycare back to work. Add in the time spent talking a toddler into getting in and out of her coat, strapping her in and taking her out of the carseat...
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Yep - one simple doctor's appointment ends up taking up a 2-hour chunk of my day! Usually I try to schedule appointments for the kids first thing in the morning if possible - it cuts down on at least a little of the 'back-and-forth', like a ping-pong ball feeling. But since I had to reschedule this one from when I was sick last week, we had to take what we could get.

The actual appointment went well. No shots this time! Becca is in about the 75th percentile for both height and weight. She's about 34 1/2 inches tall - and she did a pretty good job of standing for them to measure her height. In the quick glimpse that I got of the scale during the split second that she stood on it before grabbing desperately for me, it appears that she weighs 29.6 pounds. Or thereabouts. There are days when it feels like she weighs 50 pounds... I'll have to check the baby books tonight to see how she compares to the other girls at this age. Abby was always big and Hannah was always small, so it's fun to see where Becca fits in.
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Becca is such a funny little Punkin - so different from the other two girls who are very social and love to say hi to the staff, show off what they can do to the doctor, etc. Becca has no interest in any of that. She clung to me the entire time and had no interest in the board book that the doctor gave her to take home, or the sticker she could've picked out after we were done. She's such an independent, bossy, always-on-the-go girl at home that I sometimes forget how shy she actually is in public.

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Giveaway Carnival Day #3 - Wireless travel mouse (UPDATED with winner)

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There are still contests going on over Bloggy Giveaways! Don't forget to go over and check out all of the amazing prizes that you can enter to win - there are over 700 of them over there now!!!

This is the last giveaway that I'm having this week. The first contest closed on Tuesday (check the giveaway post to see who won!) and the second just closed a few minutes ago (check the giveaway post to see who won!). Since this is the final giveaway, I'm going to run this contest for two days - it will end at 9:00 am Eastern time on Friday, February 1st.

For today's giveaway, here is the prize:

This is a very gently (barely even) used GE wireless notebook travel mouse. I bought it last fall and then within a few weeks won a wireless keyboard and mouse set that I've used ever since. Rather than have this one just sit around, I decided to offer it to one of you instead. :)

Included are the mouse (it's the smaller, travel-sized kind), USB receiver, vinyl travel pouch and instruction booklet. Again, it's in very good shape since I only used it for a short while, but please be aware that this giveaway is for a USED product.

So here's what you need to do if you'd like to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what the last computer-related purchase you made was.
  2. Please make sure you leave a valid e-mail address or other way to reach you if you win.
  3. Linking back to this contest page is not required, but you're welcome to if you would like.
  4. One comment only, please - multiple comments will be discarded and not included in the final drawing.
  5. This giveaway is open to U. S. addresses only - sorry!
  6. Comments will be left open until 9:00 am Eastern time on February 1st.
  7. A winner will be drawn by random number generator on February 1st and notified by e-mail. This post will also be updated to state who the winner is.

Good luck! :)

This giveaway is now closed.

The random number generator came up with #47 - which is the comment left by Lomagirl, who said, "The last computer purchase I made? Photo paper to print on. I also have a pretty new printer.." Congratulations! An e-mail has gone out to you, so please check your mailbox and get back to me with your shipping information so I can get the mouse sent out to you.

Thank you to everyone who participated in my giveaways this week - it was a lot of fun!!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #29 - Snug and cozy

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Check out more Wordless Wednesday posts here and here!

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So what is Feedburner all about anyway? Feeds and RSS - Part 1

I was asked this question recently and while in the process of trying to answer it over e-mail, realized that if one person is wondering, then maybe others are as well. So I thought I would do a bit more research to expand my answer and share what I've discovered here. In writing what I thought would be a single post, I realized that it's probably going to take more than one post to really break it down so that it's easy to understand for the blogging newbie (which I was myself not too long ago, so I remember being bewildered by all of this!). So this is Part 1.

images The first, most logical question to ask, is "What is a feed, anyway?" Or maybe you've seen the little RSS symbol on blogs, news sites or other web pages and wondered what it's all about... If you already know what a feed is, feel free to skip on ahead - I won't mind. :)

What is a feed?

The quickest, easiest answer is that a feed works similarly to a newspaper subscription. When you subscribe to your community's daily or weekly newspaper, it shows up in your newspaper box or on your front step any time a new edition is available.

A feed works in a similar fashion - just online. When you subscribe to a site's RSS or Atom (don't worry it doesn't matter if you know what those mean or not) feed, you are asking for all new content from that site to be delivered to you. It's certainly more convenient to have new articles and posts show up automatically than having to routinely check multiple websites to see if 'anything's new' - just like subscribing to the morning paper is much more convenient than having to run to the corner store or paper box every day. And remember that websites don't just publish once a day - some publish multiple times a day, some only a few times a week, so it would be equivalent to running up to the store several times a day or week just to see if there's a new paper out yet.

Not something that busy moms (or dads) have time for, that's for sure!

How do I subscribe to a feed?

So that's where subscribing to a feed can come in handy. Now, the next question you have to answer is - where you do want your subscription delivered to? Again using the newspaper analogy - do you want it put on your front step or do you have a separate newspaper box by your mailbox out at the street? Do you have a house-mounted mailbox with a newspaper rack attached? When we recently subscribed to our daily paper, I was surprised to be asked this question since I'd never really thought about it before.

Just like with your physical newspaper, there are several different options to subscribe to a web feed. One option is to subscribe by e-mail. Depending on the site, you'll receive an e-mail in your inbox every so often, usually once a day or once a week, depending on the site and how often new content is published. You can also usually specify how often you would like to receive e-mails - daily means more e-mails to check but less content per e-mail, whereas a weekly version would mean less e-mail cluttering up your inbox, but usually much longer messages to read and content that's possibly out of date when you get it. The benefits to an e-mail subscription are that if you're too busy to read anything that day, it's easy to just delete the e-mail or to quickly skim through it to see if there's any content that you're interested in looking at more in depth. However for people who don't check their e-mail frequently or who don't like a lot of e-mails filling up their inbox, there's another option out there as well.

Let's say that you subscribe to your daily newspaper and you decide that you want it delivered to your mailbox so you can just grab it every time you get your mail. Your newspaper carrier can't put it in your postal mailbox, so you need to look for a newspaper box to install next to it. Well, there are a lot of options there. Does your newspaper provide their own boxes? Do you want a plastic one or metal? Or wood? You probably want something that's compatible with your regular mailbox.

Here's where a 'feed reader' comes in handy. Like your newspaper box, they come in all different types with different features. If you have an account with Google, Yahoo or AOL, they offer a way to subscribe to your feeds right on your main page or desktop. Or you can use a separate reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines (there are many others as well). It's really all about what you like, what you're comfortable with and what you're familiar with. If you already use Yahoo to check your e-mail, you'll probably want to stick with Yahoo for your web feeds as well.

For the rest of this discussion, I'm going to use examples from Google Reader, just because that's what I use and know. I'm not suggesting that it's the right or best option for everyone - go ahead and try some of them out and see what works best for you. :)

How do I use a feed reader?

Ok, so you find a great site that you love, and you can't wait to check out the new content whenever it appears. You find yourself constantly checking the site every day, or even multiple times a day, just to see when there's a new post. Or news item, or article. So you decide that you'll try subscribing to the site's feed and have all that wonderful content delivered right to your doorstep, so to speak. How do you go about doing this?

Step 1: Log in to your Google account or create one if you don't already have one. If you have a Gmail or Blogger account, that should also be your main Google account as well. If you're on a Google-related page, you should have an option in the upper right corner to click on 'My Account'. The page that opens will look something like this:

GoogleAccount

Now you'll see your own information (obviously) instead of mine - and the items listed under 'My services' and 'Try something new' will probably look different, depending on which Google services you're already using. Look for 'Reader' (it may be under 'Try something new', click on the 'more' link if you don't see it right there) and click on that.

Step 2: Your Google Reader page will open. You'll have options to take a tour or watch a video - go ahead and do those if you want to. Go on - I'll wait... :)

GoogleReader1

You now have a very pretty Reader page (newspaper box) that is quite empty - and will stay that way for now because you haven't subscribed to anything yet.

Let's say (for demonstration purposes only, of course!) that you want to subscribe here to Mom of 3 Girls. My website address is http://www.momof3girls.net. Which isn't the same as the 'feed URL' that you need in order to subscribe to my site's feed. You probably don't know my feed URL - heck, even I don't have that memorized. But, the great news is that you don't have to know it. Google and Feedburner make it easy.

How do I add a feed to my Google Reader?

Remember that funny little icon with the dot and curved lines at the top of this post? Yeah, that's the one. You'll usually see it in orange, but I've seen other colors as well. Many sites display this button to make it easy for new readers to subscribe - all you have to do is to click on it. Here's what it looks like on my site:

image

Most websites or blogs try to display their subscription information in as prominent a place as possible - after all, they want you to subscribe to their site. On some sites you may have to go looking for it though. On some sites, you may not see it at all - yes, you can still subscribe to those, but we'll talk about how in the next part.

So, you're browsing around on Mom of 3 Girls, you like what you see (I hope anyway!) and want to keep up with what's going on in my life. So you find my little orange button and click on it. What then?

If the website you're subscribing to has its feed syndicated through FeedBurner (yes, you knew we'd get to FeedBurner eventually, right?!), then you'll see a screen something like this. It may look different from site to site (when you set FeedBurner up on your site, you can choose various options for how this all works). But the general idea will always be the same. You'll see some links or buttons with the names of various feed readers:

image

Step 3: Find the link or button for 'Google' - since we're subscribing in Google Reader in this case. If you use a different reader or other option, you can choose that particular button or option from the drop down list where it says 'Choose Your Reader'.

Google brings up a window where you have a couple of options. If you use a personalized Google homepage (iGoogle), then you can add the feed directly to that so you'll see a list of my posts right on your iGoogle page. Or, if you want to add the feed into Google Reader, you can choose that option.

image

Congratulations! You are now a new subscriber of my site! I hope you'll stay around and visit for a while... :) And go ahead and add other sites and blogs to your Reader as well - you'll see how very easy it is!

What? Oh you aren't sure how to check for new posts or read all of your subscriptions? No worries, we'll cover managing your subscriptions, your Google Reader settings, the difference between full and partial feeds and how to subscribe to a site that doesn't display the fancy little orange button in Part 2 - hopefully to be posted sometime in the next week. And see - now that you're subscribed, you won't miss a single post!

For more information on using feeds, here are some sites that I've found helpful. If you know of any more, let me know in the comments below and I'll add them to the list.

From Under the Clutter - Everything You Need To Know About RSS
FeedBurner Help Center - Feed 101
Wikipedia article on Web feed
Google Reader Help - FAQ

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Tackle It Tuesday #23 - At long last... Cleaning 'my' space.

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

We've lived in this house for over 4 years now. And for probably about 3-1/2 of them, my closet and dresser have been a cluttered mess - mostly of clothes that no longer fit, various hidden gifts for the girls, and assorted, well 'junk'.

You know things are bad when your closet is full of clothes and yet you never open the door... I'd been meaning to get to this for a while now but honestly didn't feel up to the tackle. And then my dresser became buried by more junk, and the computer cart was moved into the room after we moved the bassinet out almost 2 years ago - and the bedroom became my 'office' as well. A very messy one. Add in a couple of totes of scrapbooking supplies that I couldn't find another home for, and well, you get the idea.

Until last weekend. Well actually, the weekend before - I meant to post this last Tuesday, but found myself flat on the couch sick all day unable to put together a coherent thought, much less a blog post. But this week I am back to myself (appetite and all, unfortunately), so I'm sharing this with you today. I'm very proud of this tackle. :)

And yes, I'm even going to hide my face in shame and share a couple of 'before' photos with you. Don't run away screaming though - the 'after' pictures are coming, I promise!

TackleTuesday-OurRoom_001

TackleTuesday-OurRoom_002

TackleTuesday-OurRoom_003

See all of the clothes in the closet? Guess how many of them actually fit me - right now, at this very moment? Come on - any guesses?

Let me give you a hint. Here are the piles of clothes that I pulled out - that don't fit:

TackleTuesday-OurRoom_004

(Just ignore Becca's pillow and the wet spot on our comforter - I had a little audience for part of this and her sippy cup of water was on the leaky side...)

So here is the closet - after. And honestly, even the dresses that are left are either maternity ones that I'm not quite ready to get rid of yet (just in case), plus a few that I'm hanging onto from pure sentimental value....

TackleTuesday-OurRoom_005

Quite a difference, huh! I even have room on the middle shelf to put some of the things that were cluttering up my dresser...

TackleTuesday-OurRoom_006

Which left the rest of the room looking like this:

TackleTuesday-OurRoom_007

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And I'm proud to say that over a week later, the room still looks like this! On my side, that is. Now, Ron's side is a completely different room and a different tackle all together... And no, I'm not sharing any pictures of his side! Although maybe that might get him to think about keeping it picked up more often than every month or so. Or when he runs out of clean clothes... :)

So I have 2 large, bulging trash bags full of clothes to get rid of. Casual clothes, tons of professional clothes (from my previous job which had a more formal dress code) - all in a fairly wide variety of sizes and styles. They're all in pretty good shape - Kristi? Mary? Cheryl? Anybody else? You're all welcome to go through them if you'd like...

I look at it this way. I kept most of these clothes for years thinking that I'll lose weight some day and fit back into them. By getting rid of them now, I'm just about guaranteeing that they'll fit me again - I give it 6 months to a year. But even if that's the case - it'll be worth it! :)

What are you tackling this week? And check out other Tackle It Tuesday posts over at 5 Minutes for Mom!

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Giveaway Carnival Day #2 - Exercise videos (UPDATED with winner)

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There are still contests going on over Bloggy Giveaways! Don't forget to go over and check out all of the amazing prizes that you can enter to win - last I checked there were already over 500 listed - wow!

This is the 2nd of the 3 giveaways that I'm having this week. The first has just closed (check the giveaway post in a little while to see who won!) and the 3rd will start at 9:00 am Eastern time tomorrow. Don't forget to check back and see what tomorrow's surprise prize is!

For today's giveaway, here is the prize:

These are brand-new, still in the plastic wrap copies of two Carmen Electra workout videos. Like yesterday's prize, I received them as part of a giveaway myself.

I need to exercise - I really, really do. But I know myself - and workout videos are not my thing. I've tried them in the past but found that I do better with walking, bike riding, swimming - more outdoor types of activities. So it's better that these go to someone who can and will use them.

So here's what you need to do if you'd like to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me why you'd like to win these DVDs.
  2. Please make sure you leave a valid e-mail address or other way to reach you if you win.
  3. Linking back to this contest page is not required, but you're welcome to if you would like.
  4. One comment only, please - multiple comments will be discarded and not included in the final drawing.
  5. This giveaway is open to U. S. addresses only - sorry!
  6. Comments will be left open until 9:00 am Eastern time on January 30th.
  7. A winner will be drawn by random number generator on January 30th and notified by e-mail. This post will also be updated to state who the winner is.

Good luck and don't forget to check back tomorrow for my final giveaway! :)

This giveaway is now closed.

The random number generator came up with #36 - which is the comment left by Julie D., who said, "I need something new to try to motivate me to workout. Maybe this is it!" Congratulations! Please get back to me with your shipping information so I can get the DVDs sent out to you.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Heads or Tails #20 - Who would you like to meet and why?

It must be the week for this question. Karen asked a similar question yesterday morning as well, and as you can see from my answer there - I really didn't have a clear-cut idea of what to say then. I've thought about it more since, and here's what I've come up with.

When I think about who I would really like to meet, several people do come to mind. I would love to have met my grandparents - my mom's parents both died before I was born and my dad's parents died when I was very young, so I have very few memories of them.

But when I really thought about it, I realized that who I would most like to meet are two people that I actually know quite well.

Let me explain... I've mentioned before that my parents were on the older side when I was born - my mom was 37 (my age!) and my dad was 41. So my memories of my parents basically start when they were in their 40's. I know how they 'turned out', but I would love to go back and 'meet' them when they were younger. To see my mom as a single teacher living with and taking care of her father and younger brother in the 60's. To see my dad with his first wife and family - from what I've heard and understand, he was a completely different father to my younger brother and I than he was to our older half-siblings. An improved one to be sure, but I still am curious about how and who he was back then.

Maybe I'm brought to curiosity about my parents' younger days by thinking about how my kids will never know or 'meet' the younger, single me - the person I was back in my 20's before I met Ron and started a family. Not that I was so much more of a terrific person back then necessarily, but it does seem strange to think that my kids will only know the 'me' of now and in the future.

Check out other Heads or Tails posts at Skittles' Place. And if you decide to play along for the first time this week, don't forget to mention that I referred you! :)

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To potty or not to potty...

That is the big question around here lately. And frankly, after the two years that it took to potty train Hannah (yes, seriously!), I'm in no real hurry to attempt it again. There are a couple of very good reasons why it would be a good thing to be diaper-free though - saving money on diapers themselves, and also that our daycare costs for Becca go down once she's potty trained.

Then there's the not-so-little fact that Becca desperately wants to be potty trained. She wants to be just like the big girls and she sees them sitting and going on the potty all the time. She is aware of what the potty's for - she's sat and gone on it fairly often. In fact, over Christmas vacation she was sitting on it at almost every diaper change and going - because she insisted on it. Like I said, I'm in no particular hurry, but then again I don't want to discourage her either if she's ready.

I know that by the 3rd child I should be able to know when they're ready for things like this, but honestly I'm still pretty clueless. Abby showed no interest in the potty at all until right before her third birthday and then she potty trained in a matter of weeks. I had almost nothing to do with it either - Ron was home at the time and a friend of ours watched her sometimes as well, and she worked on it with Abby quite a bit. And her daughter is a month older than Abby and was already potty trained, so I think that helped. Abby was completely in underwear, even at night, within a month or so of first starting, with only a few accidents.

The frustrating thing with Hannah is that she was about 18 months or so when Abby was potty training and she was very into it at the time. She would sit on the little potty and go - and we were sure that she would be potty trained well before her second birthday. So we didn't push it with her and after a while she lost interest. Then when we did start potty training when she was 2-1/2, she did awesomely at first - we thought we were home-free after the first few weeks, but then she completely backslid and was back in pull-ups (I refused to go all the way back to diapers) that fall. Right before her 3rd birthday, we tried again - thinking that we wanted to get her potty trained before Becca was born. And I'm still not sure exactly what the problem was. She was excited about potty training and about going to preschool. But she just couldn't stay dry on a consistent basis. For two years.

It's only been in the past few months that Hannah's been what I would call 'completely' potty trained - for daytime anyway. She's still in pull-ups at night but she's kept them dry off and on. I'm not as worried about night-time - she'll get there. But I wonder what would've happened if we'd pushed things more with her when she first showed interest in it before she turned two.

Thus my dilemma with Becca. She is very interested. And she knows what's supposed to happen in the potty. But she doesn't know how to not go when she's not on the potty yet - how to 'hold it' in order to stay dry.

And then there's the little matter of daycare. Oh our provider has no problem working on it with Becca. But, we can't get past the issue that Becca absolutely refuses to go into her bathroom. Period. She won't even walk into the room, much less sit on the potty there. And she cries when carried in. We've had no problems at other people's houses when visiting - she's insisted on going, just like at home. But not at daycare. I don't know if it's because Ron and I aren't there, or what.

So what do you think? Do we push it and try to get her going at daycare and really focus on it right now? Or do we hold off and take the chance that she'll be our second non-potty-trained 4-year-old?

Have I mentioned that I hate potty training? I really despise it - I do. Sigh.

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Don't forget to enter my contest! :)

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It's here! Giveaway Carnival Day #1 - 'If You Give A Mouse A Cookie' book (UPDATED with winner)

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Today is the first day of contests over at Bloggy Giveaways! Don't forget to go over and check out all of the amazing prizes that you can enter to win.

I'm going to be running 3 contests here at Mom of 3 Girls this week - one today, one tomorrow and one on Wednesday. The prizes include a children's book (today), two videos (tomorrow) and a very cool surprise on Wednesday that you'll definitely want to check back to see.

For today's giveaway, here is the prize:

BGCarnivalGiveaways-Jan08_001

This is a brand-new, hardcover copy of Laura Numeroff's classic children's book, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. My kids have all loved this book - Abby still loves it at 6 years old, especially now that she's able to read it herself.

We have a well-loved paperback copy of our own, so when I received this one as part of a giveaway myself recently, it made sense to 'pay it forward' and give it away here.

So here's what you need to do if you'd like to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite children's book is.
  2. Please make sure you leave a valid e-mail address or other way to reach you if you win.
  3. Linking back to this contest page is not required, but you're welcome to if you would like.
  4. One comment only, please - multiple comments will be discarded and not included in the final drawing.
  5. Comments will be left open until 9:00 am Eastern time on January 29th.
  6. A winner will be drawn by random number generator on January 29th and notified by e-mail. This post will also be updated to state who the winner is.

Good luck and don't forget to check back tomorrow and Wednesday for the other 2 giveaways as well! :)

This giveaway is now closed.

The random number generator came up with #48 - which is the comment left by Bebemiqui, who said that her favorite children's book is "I Was So Mad" by Mercer Mayer. Congratulations! An e-mail has gone out to you, so please check your mailbox and get back to me with your shipping information so I can get the book sent out to you.

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Monday Morning Meme #4

Karen from WriteFromKaren has started a new meme, appropriately titled the 'Monday Morning Meme'. It's a lot of fun - won't you join in? :)

January 21st Questions:

  1. What famous person would you most like to have dinner with (living or dead) and what would you ask him/her?

    Hmm, I really have no idea. Let me think for a minute here - I'll get back to you on that one.

  2. What do you enjoy blogging about the most?

    I would definitely have to say the sense of community and the awesome people I've met around the blogosphere.

  3. What is your favorite kind of candy?

    My absolute favorite, 'addicted-to', 'can't do without' when they're available candy? These:
    The good thing is that they're only available for a month or two when Easter candy is out in stores. However, the bad thing is that since you can only get them for that short period of time, I tend to eat way, way too many of them...

  4. Which sibling or relative are you closest to? What makes you close? Similiar interests? Or are you completely opposite?

    I guess I would have to say my younger brother. We've always been pretty close, from the time that he would hang around me and my friends when he was a little kid. We don't have much in common anymore (we live vicariously through each other - he's the single, 'urban' professional who travels often, and I'm the 'settled down with kids' one) and we don't see each other as often as we would like, but we are still pretty close when we're able to be. Knowing that we're the only ones who 'get' our parents and having the same memories from growing up - it's one big reason why I wanted Abby to have siblings.
So that's it for this Monday Morning - check out other answers over at Write From Karen! :)

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Contest round-up #21 - Updated!!

Here is this week's contest round-up! :) Updated to include new giveaways - and don't forget to check out the fun over at Bloggy Giveaways as well! :)

It's almost here! Don't forget to check out Bloggy Giveaways starting on Monday - last time there were over 500 giveaways running throughout the week, so lots of chances to enter. And don't forget to check back here to see what I'm giving away as well! :)

Ok, so on to this week's contests:

At Bloggy Giveaways you could win a $50 gift certificate to Kangaroodle (enter by today, January 26th), one of two $25 gift certificates to JCnaturals (enter by January 27th), a $50 gift certificates to Tote and Tee (enter by January 28th), one of two free packets of 25 photo cards from Photo Card Designs (enter by January 29th), or a 24-pack of custom-designed birth announcements from Nemia Creative (enter by January 30th).

Over at 5 Minutes For Mom you could win one of five copies of the book Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home by Kim Sunee, a Red ‘65 Mustang Pedal Car (no deadline given), a full copy of the Kids $ave software (enter by January 31st), a $50 gift certificate to Think It Ink It Publishing (enter by February 1st), an Insignia® - Pilot 4GB Video MP3 Player with Bluetooth Technology from Best Buy (enter by February 5th), or a personalized towel from Alex Casey Baby (enter by February 7th). Also, keep the dates March 7th through March 14th in mind - it's the Ultimate Blog Party 2008!

Check out An Island Life and An Island Review for Kailani's giveaways this week! You could win shirt/onesie of your choice from Uncommonly Cute (enter by January 29th), a copy of the Backyardigans Surf's Up DVD (enter by February 1st) or a Super Starter Pack and Preschool Money Manager Toolkit from the Tessy & Tab Reading Club (enter by February 1st). Kailani is also giving away an Insignia Pilot Video MP3 Player, courtesy of Best Buy! Enter by February 1st.

And don't forget to check out Kailani's Valentine's Day Goody Swap! Sign up by January 31st if you're interested.

And speaking of Valentine's Day - there are a lot of opportunities out there right now to win personalized fruit roll-ups for your sweet someone! Check out contests over at So a Blonde Walks Into a Review (3 winners - enter by January 29th), Table for Five (3 winners - enter by January 29th), Close to Home (3 winners - enter by February 1st), Parenting Children (3 winners - enter by January 28th), I once was HP (3 winners - enter by January 28th), A Mama's Rant (3 winners - enter by February 1st), A Frog In My Soup (3 winners - enter by January 31st), A Mom's Review (3 winners - enter by February 1st), Mama Divas (3 winners - enter by January 31st), or My Little Patch of Sunshine (3 winners - enter by January 28th).

You could win a mini pink sewing machine over at Blessed Nest - enter by today (January 26th).

Over at Gift Rap you could win a Maxtor OneTouch 4 Mini portable hard drive! Enter by 11:59 pm EST on January 28th.

If you're a blogger looking for a new design, check out this giveaway from Sandier Pastures - she's giving away a choice of either a pre-made template which can be adapted for many blogging platforms other than blogger or a Gold Design Package (value $60) from RS Designs (enter by midnight, Dubai time on January 28th).



For the babywearing mamas... Over at DE Review you could win a wrap in your choice of color from Sleepy Wrap. Enter by January 29th.

Check out Mama Loves Giveaways - you could win one of five $50 gift certificates to Hanes! Enter before 5:00 pm EST on January 30th.

Sassyfrazz is giving away a Kaboost! Check it out to enter before 7:00 pm CST on January 31st.

Over at Our Seven Qtpies you could win a Groovy plate for toddlers from Boon. Check it out before January 31st to enter.

PRIZEY is giving away up to four shirt-and-cape combos or infant onesies from Little Capers. Enter by 11:59 pm CST on January 31st.

www.thebabymarketplace.com – a great online spot for Baby Clothing, Shoes, Toys, Gifts and Cloth Diapers is hosting the Pippalily Baby Slings Give-Away @ mommyknows.com. Go on over and comment and be entered to win one of two Pippalily Baby Slings! There are also 13 pairs of Bical Grippers up for grabs. Don’t miss out - you have until January 31st to enter!

Check out Contest for Moms - you could win items from the new Veggie Tales movie, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. You have until January 31st to enter.

PenniesInMyPocket is also giving away either a pre-made template or a Silver Design Package (valued at $100) from RS Designs (enter by 11:59 pm PST on January 31st). Or you could win 10 awesome gift bags from PennylanePapers.com (they're all only $1 - how great is that!) as well (enter by February 1st at 11:59 pm PST).

You've seen my posts for the 'Heads or Tails' meme over at Skittles' Place, right? If you've ever thought about joining in - now is the time! Just participate in HoT this week and when you leave your comment over at Skittles' Place, mention that I referred you... The person who refers the most new participants by the end of January will be entered for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate. So what are you waiting for? :)

Crazy Thoughts is giving away a copy of the Lemonsquare “Music for Fun” CD. Enter soon - she'll draw a winner next week!

The Kids Birthday Fun Review is giving away a $20 gift certificate from Oriental Trading Company, Inc. and a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com. The more comments you leave over there, the more entries you receive - all the way through January!

Enter to win at MyWoodenSpoonDOTcom

A Cowboy’s Wife is having a contest on her food blog! You can win a Hamilton Beach® Stand Mixer and she’ll ship anywhere so everyone is eligible! You have until January 31st to enter.

Head over to Thompson Outdoor Supply and see how you could win $25 in cash (Paypal or money order)! Enter by February 1st.

If you've ever lost a pet, then you might be interested in this one - over at So a Blonde Walks Into a Review you could win a $75 gift certificate to Peternity. Enter by 11:59 pm on February 5th.

Do you lose things often? If so, this might be the giveaway for you. Over at Z Recommends, you could win a "Now You Can Find It!" key finding system from The Sharper Image. Enter as many times as you would like before 11:59 pm on February 5th!

Over at Momsational right now you could win a BOB Screentime Controller (enter by midnight Pacific time on February 8th).

Check out PenniesInMyPocket - you could win a $50 gift certificate to Quote the Walls! Enter by 11:59 pm PST on February 8th.

Success For Your Blog is holding a giveaway where you could win a 8GB USB Flash Drive! Submit your best blogging tip to enter before February 10th. My best blogging tip would have to be to treat your blog as a community and get to know your readers. Visit their blogs if they have them, respond to comments by e-mail as much as possible (I don't do this nearly as much as I wish I could!), and make your site someplace where people want to come back to visit. You can meet some wonderful people this way!

Are you thinking of starting a new blog, or changing either to a different blogging platform or a new template or design? If so, check out The Big Bloggy Move, hosted by After a cup of coffee and SortaCrunchy. New designs, sites or what have you will all be unveiled on February 11th.

Over at Love Shak, Baby you could win a cubino chair from Mason & Matisse. Enter by February 13th.

Check out mod*mom to find out how to win one of 10 publish-your-own professional books from blurb. Enter by midnight on February 14th.

It's time for HGTV's annual Dream Home giveaway. This year's home looks incredible and is located in a real paradise, The Shore at Islamorada, in the Florida keys. You can enter every day through February 19th and a winner will be revealed live on March 16th at 9:00 pm ET.

As usual, if you know of a contest or giveaway that I missed, just e-mail me or leave a comment below and I'll add it in! Enjoy and good luck! :)

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Overheard...

This was the conversation in the back of the van on the way home from Abby's appointment last night. The older girls were trying to get Becca to repeat various words...

Abby: "Becca, say 'puppy'!"

Becca: "No..."

Hannah: "Becca, say 'Becca!"

Becca: "No."

Chorus (Abby and Hannah): "Becca, say 'Becca'!"

Becca (very indignantly): "No!"

Abby: "Becca, say 'no'!"

Becca: "No!"

(giggles and laughter from the big sisters)

Hannah: "Becca, say 'no'!"

Becca: "No."

Chorus: "Becca, say 'no'!"

Becca: "No!"

(more giggles and laughter from big sisters)

Repeat until frustrated Mommy in the driver's seat asks them to please, just stop!

Then a few minutes later...

Becca: "Say 'Becca'!"

Abby: "What?"

Becca: "Say 'Becca'!"

Abby: "Becca!"

(Becca giggles)

Becca: "Say 'Becca'!"

Chorus: "Becca!"

(more Becca giggles...)

Repeated all the rest of the way home. I couldn't bring myself to stop them this time though - it was too cute!

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Aloha Friday #17

It's Friday again - my favorite day of the week! :)

So here is this week's question:

What color are your eyes?

Mine are greenish. Ron and Hannah have very blue eyes and Abby's are greenish like mine. Becca's have appeared to be turning green as well and I noticed last night that there's no question - they are definitely green.

Check out An Island Life to see more Aloha Friday questions or to play along!

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Imagine this scenario, if you will...

A dark, cold, snow-filled evening. A suburban mom behind the wheel of her minivan, driving her children home after an appointment across town.

Sounds pretty normal, right? Nothing out of the ordinary, for certain.

Look a bit closer perhaps.

The children chatter away in the back while the mom concentrates on avoiding traffic snarlups and red lights.

Suddenly she feels a slight itch. Not a big deal, just an annoyance really. But in a difficult, awkward place to reach - 'posterior' so to speak. She squirms slightly in her captain's chair.

But the itch doesn't go away. In fact - it begins to spread until most of the skin she's sitting on is consumed by an intensely fierce itching.

The children remain oblivious behind her as she begins a series of moves usually only seen on a gymnastics mat, attempting in vain to quell what has turned from a slight annoyance into a large disturbance. She begins to wonder if the other drivers can see inside her van and if so, what an amusing picture she must present at the moment.

A drive which, under normal circumstances, would take a maximum of oh, 20 minutes or so, suddenly stretches into hours - or so it seems - as every traffic light, every slow driver stands between this tortured mom and the relief of finally being able to soothe her itching behind.

But then - finally home. Freed from the confines of the driver's seat, she is able to regain her dignity at last. Even while cursing the dry winter air and the ineffectiveness of so-called 'moisturizing' creams and lotions.

And that, my friends, is the 'end' of that story.   :)

 

Disclaimer:  of course, the above story is purely hypothetical and any such mom would have to completely deny that any such episode ever occurred. And I'm not budging from that story!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #25 - Reasons why I'm actually glad to go back to work tomorrow

ttsnowflake After almost a week of hardly leaving the house, I think I'm actually going to be ready to head back to work tomorrow.

Here are a few (well, 13) of the reasons why...

  1. My house won't clean itself while I'm gone, but at least I won't have to sit here and stare at the mess.

  2. I'm looking forward to not being asked to play Dora or the Backyardigans every 22 minutes.

  3. I hate wasting sick days for silly things - like actually being sick...

  4. I feel much better about paying for daycare when the kids are actually there, being cared for.

  5. There was a time when spending a day lying on the couch sounded like a dream come true. However, the dream did not include 3 kids running, jumping, climbing and sitting all over me.

  6. Nor did it include not physically being able to actually get up off of the couch all day on Tuesday. Nope, I definitely could've done without that part too.

  7. I (ahem) can probably catch up on my blog reading here and there throughout the day at work - I mean, I'm sitting in front of the computer all day anyway... Shhh - don't tell my boss! LOL

  8. Ok, so I'm just kidding on #7 - well sort of... I do like having a solid hour at lunchtime where I can blog read to my heart's content with no interruptions (or guilt!) though.

  9. I've started talking back to the television. When I hear 'No, Dora - don't take the red path!', come out of my mouth, then I know it's time to get the heck out of here for a while.

  10. I sat down in the recliner this morning to rest - and woke up 4 hours later. Yes, I needed the sleep, but still...

  11. It's very sad when you know your neighbors' schedules as well as your own. Did I mention that our couch faces the front window in our living room?

  12. As much as I love my kids, and wish I could stay home with them - there are times when they drive me absolutely bonkers. Especially after they've been cooped up in the house for several days.

  13. The biggest reason that I'm actually going to be glad to go back to work tomorrow? Because I'm finally feeling human again!! I don't wish this stomach flu bug on anyone - it's a nasty one.

Have a good Thursday, everyone! :)

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Wordless Wednesday #28 - How to keep kids amused during a snow day...

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Gotta love bubble wrap! :)

Check out more Wordless Wednesday here and here.

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Four days at home

I think it's a record. I can't remember the last time that we went so long without leaving the house. Between extremely cold temperatures, snow, and sickness, well - it's just been a very long week so far.

So, to back up...

My mom got here on Friday night and we had an enjoyable day sticking around home on Saturday. Ron had to work, so we hung out here with the girls. No big deal.

We missed church on Sunday morning - the girls slept in and I wasn't about to wake them up if I didn't have to. I had a lot to do before Becca's party in the afternoon anyway. I did actually leave the house alone to run and pick up her cake and a few grocery necessities.

Becca's party went well, even considering that only Kristi's family were able to make it. The kids all played together and had a good time, we all managed to finish off most of the cake just by ourselves, and Becca had fun even if she didn't necessarily understand what the fuss was all about.

She did like the presents though.

Beccas2ndBdayParty_011

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And the cake. Of course, that went over well with everyone. :) Daddy helped her to blow the candles out...

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And then everyone dug in...

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Monday was pretty uneventful as well, at least at first. Mom and I thought about trying to take the kids out somewhere, but it was just so darn cold out... Ron had to work but he was hoping to make it home in time for dinner - we were going out to eat, along with Ron's parents and his sister Terri and her daughter Dakota. We ended up meeting Ron at the restaurant. Everything went well until Hannah started complaining that her stomach hurt.

Now let me say that Hannah complains of stomach aches a lot. So this was nothing new. Which is why we didn't take her too seriously at first. I started realizing that something really was wrong about 30 seconds before she started throwing up. Thankfully it was before we'd gotten our food, and Abby was wearing 2 layers of shirts, so we were able to change Hannah into one of them after we got everything cleaned up. I missed the restaurant staff singing Happy Birthday to Becca, but she did enjoy the brownie that she got:

Beccas2ndBday_001

After we got home, Becca opened her presents from us. I think they were a hit.

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As you can see, Hannah appeared to be feeling better. It was late, so we got the kids off to bed. I was planning on keeping Hannah home on Tuesday, and Mom offered to stay an extra day to help.

This turned out to be a very, very good thing.

Especially since we had a somewhat massive snowstorm on Monday night and schools ended up being canceled on Tuesday.

And then I threw up while taking my shower that morning.

I think that yesterday was probably the most miserable day that I've spent in a really long time. Hannah was feeling better, but not completely up to par. Abby and Becca felt fine and were going a bit stir crazy after being cooped up in the house, yet again.

And I couldn't move off of the couch. Literally. Like I told Ron when he got home late last night - the fact that I was home all day yet didn't even turn the computer on, much less post or read anything (not even to check e-mail!) should say something about how completely awful I felt.

I am so thankful that Mom was here, because I don't know how I could've managed otherwise. She played with the girls, fed them, and kept them from bothering me (too much). It was a good thing that they had new toys to play with - Becca thankfully didn't seem to mind sharing.

And oh yes, the television. Say what you will about limiting TV time - there are definitely occasions when it comes in handy. By the end of the day, Becca was bringing me the remote and putting it in my hand every time a program ended, demanding 'Dora!'... And Hannah threw a major fit last night before bed when I wouldn't turn on 'kid TV' one last time.

We're starting TV detox today. :)

Actually, today hasn't been half bad so far. The girls went off to school like usual, I took Mom to the bus station this morning and then dropped Becca off at daycare.

And then I came home. And slept the entire morning and part of the afternoon. And I ate something for the first time in over 24 hours and it's even stayed down. I think I'm on the road to recovery. Which is a good thing - I have to pick up the girls in 15 minutes from daycare, Ron's not home yet, and Mom isn't here anymore. I have a trashed house, over 600 items to read in my feed reader, and I've missed 2 days of work.

But tomorrow should be back to our regularly scheduled programming.

(Hmm, looks like I need to detox myself from the TV as well!)

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