My Birthday is Coming Up!

I turn 31 next month and everyone keeps asking me what I want. There are things I would love to have. Like, I can't wait to see this. And I could certainly use a few more of these. My hair needs to be done and I would love a new pair of boots.

But, what I really want this year is time. Time to do more of the things I love. Time to write a blog post every day without feeling guilty. Time to pluck my eyebrows and shave my legs every day. Time to read. Time to write. Time to go to the book store and get lost in the pages of US Weekly. Time to shop for new clothes. Time to exercise. Time to cook. Time to clean. Time to practice my photography. Just time!

Think my husband could wrap that up and top if with a bow?


Dinner Time Tango

I decided to write about our dinner time tango after reading this post from Mommy Off the Record. Her son wants yogurt every single night.

My family struggles with the same issue. I call it the dinner time tango because we go back and forth every night trying desperately to come to some sort of happy medium. Big J never wants what I make so my husband and I have to beg and plead just to get her to try one bite. She'd be satisfied eating bread and butter every night.

She is a carb addict. Bread, bagels, pasta ~ she loves them all. No fruit, no vegetables. It's like pulling teeth just to get her to eat chicken. She takes a really long time to eat, too. We could start dinner at 6:00 and she's still eating at 7:00.

Big J has had feeding issues for the longest time. The fact that she's eating something besides baby food is a major victory as far as I'm concerned. The problem now is getting her to try new things - to eat a more well-rounded diet. I've tried sneaking things in her food, but she's too smart. The feeding therapist tried to do that and it just made her mad.

I'm just hoping that, at some point, things will even out and she'll become more adventurous as she gets older when it comes to food. I'd rather avoid all the dinner drama and just have a nice, quiet meal. For now, it seems as though that will have to wait.


This post was written for the Parent Bloggers Network Blog Blast where you can win a $250 gift card for Williams Sonoma. It's sponsored by Harper Collins and their new title, Deceptively Delicious, by Jessica Seinfeld.


Up, Up, and Away

How cute are these capes from Ellie Bellie Kids?

Description: This custom-made cape features a colorful dot print on the outside and plain pink fabric underneath. And ... each cape is personalized with the letter of your choice! Plus ... it features magnetic closure for safety.


I Heart Halloween!

How To Take a Great Family Photo

I've been working at a portrait studio for a little while now and I've picked up some easy tips for making your session less stressful.

Know Your Expectations
If you're looking for a wall portrait to hang above your fireplace, let the photographer know. He or she can change the camera setting to make sure your image looks good when it is emlarged. You'll get a better quality picture.

Come With Ideas
Do you have an idea for a pose or a background? Have you seen something in a magazine that you'd like to try? Don't be afraid to communicate with the photographer. I was flipping through a magazine the other day and saw an ad for baby lotion where the mom was cradling the baby's head in her hands and it was an over-the-shoulder shot. I can't wait to try it with my own baby.

Take a Step Back
It might be difficult, but you'll get a better picture. If you're somewhere off to the side, trying desperately to make your toddler smile, they'll be looking at you and not the camera. Let the photographer do their job. If they need help, they'll let you know. If you're asked to play peek-a-boo or make a silly face, do so as close to the camera as possible so that even if they're looking at you, it'll seem as though their eyes are focused on the photographer.

Try to Relax
Don't stress about getting the perfect photo. If you're child is not smiling or they're acting goofy, just go with it. Some of the best portraits are those that showcase your child's personality. I love pictures of moments. I just took my girls to get pictures of them in their Halloween costumes and my favorite is one of them looking at each other. Big J is smiling at Little J and it's so sweet and innocent. You want your pictures to have personality so if your photographer wants to take shots of your child's feet or you holding your newborn, let them. If you don't like the picture, you don't have to buy it.


Being Mr. Mom

I need some mommy advice here. I just found out that I have to work next sunday, when I requested off. Not that big of a deal, except Big J has a Halloween party with some of her preschool friends. I won't be able to take her now so I asked my husband and he laughed at me. Yes, he laughed at me. He got pissed, said no, and was like, "yeah right."

He said he wouldn't mind taking Big J if he didn't have Little J. What is it about babies that makes men so completely afraid? Why does bringing the baby make things more complicated?

I get that he won't know anyone and that he'll feel uncomfortable, but this is J's first party. She loves her school friends and is always asking for a playdate with them, but because my husband can't suck it up and take her to the party, she's going to miss out. I may actually ask one of the other moms to take her for me. Isn't that pathetic?

Is it just my husband who is an ass or do the other dads out there laugh at the idea of taking their children to a party? I'm so annoyed. Am I overreacting?


Practice Makes Perfect

A while back I wrote that I got a part time job. I absolutely love it! Photography is something I've always wanted to do, but I never took the steps to learn. In college, I got an internship at a magazine and have been writing ever since. It was only a short while ago that I rediscovered my love of photography. I've always enjoyed taking pictures and I collect photo books, but it never really went beyond that.

A few months back I was looking at pictures of me when I was little. I came across some pictures that I had taken when I was probably a tween. They were of my dolls. I posed them, set up a background and a scene and took a picture. I'm a dork, I know, but it made sense. That's what I should be doing.

It couldn't have come at a better time. I was feeling lost and depressed and I was craving something, anything to do that would bring a little joy back to my life. Not that I wasn't happy being a mom or a wife, but I didn't have anything that was all my own. I was too busy making sure everyone else was happy, that I forgot about myself.

When I started my job, I felt so insecure. Everyone else has photography experience and mine was limited to snapshots of my children. A little time has passed and I am feeling better about my abilites. I think I have an eye for taking pictures, I just have to master the technical side.

Another part of the process I had no clue about was enhacing and editing pictures. Trolling around the web I found a wonderful blog written by a photographer named Tracey Clark. You should definitely check it out. Anyway, I've been learning so much. I read about Picasa and immediately went and downloaded it. You can add all kinds of fun effects to your pictures. Go give it a try!

Here's what I came up with.


Writing Motherhood

I picked up this wonderful new book called "Writing Motherhood." It's a practical guide to recording motherhood and all its ups and downs.

The first step is starting a Mother's Notebook, which I think is a fabulous idea. I'm the type of person who never really did well with traditional journals. I'd start one and then abandon it because the pressure was just too much. It was overwhelming for me to stare at all those blank pages and think I needed to fill them.

The writer's notebook is not a journal. Author Lisa Garrigues says there are definitely similarities. Both are about self-discovery and self-expression. However, a Mother's Notebook is about telling stories, and as moms, we've got plenty of those.

Whether it's a tale about your terrible toddler or a sweet moment with your newborn, a Mother's Notebook is a place to tell those stories and, at the same time, sharpen your writing skills. It can be a place to document your child's everyday life from first words to report cards and silly conversations. More important than that, Garrigues says, the Mother's Notebook allows us to tell our own stories. "It's a means of understanding who we are as mothers."

I've just started reading it and I can't wait to go to the store and pick out my Mother's Notebook.

If you're a writer or aspire to be one, you should definitely pick up this book. Read more about it here.


Trading Milk For Beer

My daughter just asked me if she could have something to drink. I told her she could have whatever she wanted - juice, water, or milk.

Her response?

"Not beer?"

This child cracks me up!!!!

Having a Secret Crush is Good For You

The Today Show did a segment on secret mommy crushes. I love this idea! Here's an excerpt from the article online.

"Having a secret mommy crush doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, about to have an affair, in a bad marriage and/or that you married the wrong guy. So why do these crushes happen?

Secret crushes can make a woman feel like a woman again. It’s hard to feel like your sexy self when you’re constantly cleaning up dirty laundry, dirty diapers, helping the kids with homework or cooking all the time. Sometimes being a mom and wife, although terrific in countless ways, can get a woman feeling more like a servant than a supermodel.

Having a crush is really less about the other person and more about us having the feelings we want to have, i.e., like feeling alive, excited, exciting and beautiful. Sometimes crushes are motivators to do something nice for yourself, like work out or buy something pretty and new, activities that some moms have a hard time doing for themselves. Secret crushes, when not acted on, are safe, sexy yet simultaneously ego-boosting."

Totally true! Do you agree?


When Do You Call Someone Friend?

My daughter has made a new friend at school. His name is Patrick. I've also made a new friend - Patrick's mom.

It's almost inevitable, once your kids start going to school, that you'll become friendly with some of the moms you see in the morning. Patrick's mom has even invited us to the park for a playdate. She's super nice and always offers to watch the girls if I'm ever in a jam.

While the idea totally rocks, I find myself reluctant to say yes. Not because I am worried about leaving my daughters with her. I feel guilty. Trust me, I would love the break every now and then. She offered to pick big J up from school so that I don't have to bundle the baby up for a 5 minute ride in the car once the weather gets cold. How nice is that?

Still, I always think that people say those things just to be nice. And then I would feel bad if my kids were bad, ya know. I haven't posted about it yet, but I had a babysitter for a while and she dumped us. I'm convinced it was because the baby was too hard for her too handle. She's the best baby in the world, but she doesn't sleep well away from home and I had to bring her there during nap time. Anyway, I'll have to think about it.

Here's my quesion though - at what point do you call someone a friend? I always refer to Melissa as "Patrick's mom," or "one of the moms from J's school." We meet for playdates, we've exchanged phone numbers, but I don't refer to her as my friend. Maybe as time goes by, it'll feel more like a friendship. What do you think?

Too Much TV?

My daughter and I were talking about Christmas this morning. She asked me if I remember the Wonder Pets episode where the duck breaks the snowglobe and I said yes. She thens proceeds to tell me, "It's coming soon to DVD."


The Longest Day

I want to crawl back under the covers and hide today. I'm just having, "one of those days." My daughter is sick. She's got a cold. No big deal under any other circumstances, but she is refusing to sleep. I put her down for a nap at 2:00 and it took her 45 minutes to calm down enough to close her eyes. 45 minutes of screaming, crying, coughing. I really wanted to run away. The last two days all she wants is to sleep in my arms. When I put her down in her crib, she wails.

I called my husband for some sympathy, some words of encouragement. I should have known better. He actually laughed.

My 4 year-old is driving me nuts, too. She knows exactly which buttons to push and she's pushing them all.

Calgon take me away ....


Isn't She Precious?

I was going through some old notebooks the other day and found something funny. You see, I write everything down. I'm not much of a journal keeper, but I am always jotting down little things here and there. Whenever J says something silly, I put it on paper so that I'll remember years from now.

Here are some of her gems:

Me: Oh look, it's a half moon
Julianna: Oh no, somebody broke it.

(Watching a group of lions on TV rolling around in the grass)
Me: They look just like Coco (our dog).
Julianna: Yeah, but they don't eat poop.

(Listening to the wind blow)
Julianna: Oh no, the trees are breaking.


Check This Out!

I wrote an article for 100Hats.com. Go check it out.

What Your Teen Is Not Telling You


Britney Loses Her Babies

No doubt you've heard that latest news that pop superstar Britney Spears has lost custody of her two children. If not, what rock have you been living under?

I definitely think it was the right thing to do. She can barely keep herself together, let alone raise two young kids. Those poor little things. Every time you see pictures of them they look miserable.

I sort of feel bad for her though. She's such a mess. Isn't there anyone around who can slap some sense into her? Her mother must be so disappointed.

What's your take on the subject?