Nov 24, 2014

Who's Ready For T-Day, TD's and Dysfunction?!

It feels like just yesterday I was getting over the trauma of the 2013 holidays... oh wait, it was. I still am!  I tell you, the holidays can completely consume me if I let them, and not in a good way.  I can get so wrapped in buying the perfect gifts, making the perfect dishes, finding the perfect holiday party outfits. Then there is the juggling family celebrations, so no one feels left out, and everyone gets their gifts in a timely manner; especially my six nephews and two nieces--the four Aussies mean early shipping too. And then there is always my high hopes for New Year's eve-- Every year I secretly wish for the ultimate night.  Like my dream is to watch the first sunrise of the year sitting on the beach in New Zealand with one of my favorite people. (Shay, LOVE YOU!) 

Yes, the holidays can really get me wound up so tight I could shit diamonds. Well, this year, I'm not having it. What I am having is everyone over to my house! Being that we have this new fabulous house, I have declared to my gamily that the first holiday season will be spent within it's four walls.  After years of driving all over hell's half acre to appease and see all of my friends and family during the holidays, it's time they brought their sweet bottoms to my house!

Ok, well... I know I said no stress, but there is one thing...

The Thanksgiving feast!  Seeing as how I have never made one, the thought of cooking a turkey freaks me out.  Anyone who has seen National Lampoons Christmas Vacation knows just how wrong things can go...

Being the ever resourceful girl that I am, I came up with a genius plan...

Nov 23, 2014

I Got The Talk From My Son's Teacher. I Had A Feeling It Was Coming.

A few weeks ago my toddler was on an amazing kid streak!  For at least 14 glorious days straight he was well-behaved, kind, affectionate, said please and thank you, and altogether was a delight. The first week my mind was blown, but by the second week, I was becoming optimistic that maybe he was growing out of his terrible twos. I was all ready to announce that my kid was the best, and all those parents who said the terrible twos were nothing compared to three and four were wrong, about my kid at least.

And then something happened.

He turned into a crazy toddler again.

Like a thousand times worse than ever.

Now, we are on week two of some of the worst behaviors:

1. He is speaking some strange gibberish, even though he has an extensive vocabulary.
2. He is hitting and scratching.
3. Saying bad words.
4. Saying NO when asked to do anything.
5. Not staying in time-out
6. Acting out at school.
7. Throwing toys.

The list goes on, but I'm sure you get the point. My kid has gone crazy.

Last Thursday when I picked Ollie up from his Child's Day Out program, the teacher pulled me aside to let me know he was a terror for her too. Ollie has been going there for almost a year, and this is the first time I have had to have "the talk".  While his teacher chalked the behaviors up to his age, she did say his need for attention from her was getting out of control, and wanted to know how he was at home, and how were were dealing with it, "so we could be consistent."  I told her he was awful, and that we were using time-out and taking away toys or gadgets as punishment.

I'm honestly not sure what has changed? I mean, I've been busier with work, FTD and I had a two-day round that wasn't very pleasant, but involved more silent treatments than heated conversation.  Still, the bottom line remained, my kid is being extra bad, and not only could I not pinpoint why, I was having trouble managing it.

While I hate to call parenting a job, because I love my son more than anything and above all being a parent is a blessing, the fact is for me right now, it's work. Hard work. The thing that has been especially hard is with all of his bad behavior, I have had to be a tough mom. It sucks.  I have had to stay constantly on him, which also means constant time-outs that are a whole other battle.

I just know, if I let down my guard and let my toddler be wild, then I will have a much tougher job on my hands during the teenage years. So, I try to remain diligent, not putting up with backtalk and acting out. Even though it makes me feel awful.  For a few days I tried to get down to his level and talk calm about the bad behaviors, and why they were naughty.  If he seemed to understand, and apologized, I left it at that.  If he wiggled and didn't listen, I would go ahead with the time out and then try to talk to him calmly after time out was over.

I have tried everything, hoping to find the perfect mix to help my son understand that he is in the wrong with whatever poor behavior he is displaying; I still haven't figured it out.  Part of me thinks, this is just how it is.  He is a stubborn little toddler testing the limits, and it's up to me to show him right from wrong. CONSTANTLY!

I realize that I am in the throws of a seriously tough time in parenting.  I realize that, for the most part, his wild behavior and testing limits is par for the course. But, it doesn't make it any easier.

I have a very spirited child that I love dearly. I've decided that as long as I love him and stay diligent about not letting his bad behaviors slide, at some point we will both emerge from this time better humans. OK, sometimes I think I will just settle for alive with all of my marbles, but dammit the kid better be fabulous!

If you are struggling with your toddler/child, you are not alone.  His teacher was kind enough to remind me of that.

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Nov 21, 2014

Plan Your Holiday Sides And Delicious Desserts Delivered To Your Door With Schwan's.

I recently had the pleasure of testing out SCHWAN'S quality food delivery service free of charge for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

In high school, I had a boyfriend whose freezer was always packed with Schwan's yummy desserts and snacks.  It seemed like every time I went to his house, his mother was offering me a different snack or treat. Being the smart girl that I am, I obliged.  The drumsticks ice cream cones were my favorite.  To this day, when I see the Schwan's delivery truck, I think of him... and his sweet mom with her sweet treats.

Knowing what I did about Schwan's snacks and treats, I was more than happy to test out the service for my family too.  I was given a $50 gift card to choose anything I wanted from their vast selection of appetizers, entries, sides, snacks, treats, sauces... I was really surprised to see how much that $50 gift certificate would get me!

Not ever visiting the site before, I was in complete shock over how much the company offered! Absolutely every imaginable breakfast item, snack, side, appetizer and dinner entree is offered.  Additionally, there is the LiveSmart® line offering healthy selections, as well as food catering to just about every dietary need!

With my $50 gift certificate, I bought a little bit of everything, to see if Schwan's savory was a yummy as the sweet.

schwans logo
  • Delivery Fee
schwans logo
$5 off $25 or $10 off $50 New Customer

  • Ollie loves the pretzels.
  •  I made smoothies with the organic fruit. 
  • The crab cakes were awesome with the roasted fingerling potatoes. (Both came with enough for two dinners!)
  • The lasagna roll-ups made for a super easy dinner, with fast clean-up 
  • FTD loved having the breakfast sandwiches handed to him on the way out the door.

I have every intention of ordering again. Between the great food, the awesome recipes (worth checking out the site for that alone), and the 5% cash back rewards program, I can see why the company as been delivering quality food for over sixty years.

With the winter months coming up, I'm definitely looking forward to having my groceries delivered!  To check to see if Schwan's delivers in your area, CLICK HERE!

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Attention Parents: Do Not Forget These This Holiday Season... #PowerTheHolidays

Thank you SheSpeaks and Duracell for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

What do nearly all children's toys have in common?  Batteries.

What do you never seem to have enough of? Batteries.

What makes a kid cry and parent cry at the same time for the same reason? Running out of batteries.

What one thing remains a hot topic in my house? Batteries.

Some of you may remember FTD's Post about "Candy Coated Crap- The Dad Files" where he goes off on a tangent about batteries?
"Wow...look at all the cool baby stuff you have! Yeah!!! What most Dads don't realise is that all these stupid bouncy, rocking, rolling, vibrating, flashing, musical crap-boxes need a constant supply of batteries. Of course, the ladies have no understanding of electricity these days other than using a microwave, so I spend precious MINUTES each day following the wife around switching off kiddie toys!" 
Now, he wrote that when Ollie was still a baby and clearly having poor judgment in choice of words. I admit,  I was guilty of leaving things on, but there were SO MANY THINGS! Between the docking stations, noise makers, mobile... Two years later, we still have the same conversation. I remind him it's not always due to forgetfulness, what about those bloody Furbies? Those evil possessed things don't have an off switch! I know, I've looked!

There's also his Tips For Expecting Dads post where he says...
1) Buy or borrow a good digital camera.  Get a pile of batteries ready and test the thing out BEFORE you're in the hospital.  Practice how to do a "macro" or close-up shot of your kids hand holding a finger (grannies love that sh!t) and make sure you have a memory card in it. I can guarantee you that if you forget the bloody camera when your baby plops out, the rest of your miserable life won't be worth living. They are also a great excuse to 'disappear' when the lavender-scented, patronising great Aunty Noleen strides on in with a poorly knitted baby cardigan and insists on putting it on the baby immediately. Simply exclaim that you're "out of batteries" and have to duck out to get some more. Lifesaver! 
The only things FTD and I agree on when it comes to batteries are:

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Nov 20, 2014

Sharing My Childhood Favorites With My Child This Holiday Season

Today's post has been kindly brought to you by Hatch Em's Eggs. All opinions are my own.

One of the (many) great things about being a parent, is getting to relive your childhood.  I love that it's my job to sit on the floor and play trains and Hot Wheels with my child.  I love that we watch fun kid movies, and read and act out silly books.  I also live sharing my favorites from my childhood with my child.  I especially love it when he loves something as I did.

Over the summer I picked up an antique typewriter and camera at a yard sale, just so when my son was older, I could show them to him.  Ok, they were super awesome and for me too, but I have no doubt in 15 years, those things most kids will only see in a book.


Being that my son's generation is technology driven, I think it's really important to share good old fashioned toys every time I come across them. Things like shrinky dinks, pick-up sticks, jacks, and fun simple interactive toys, or things like these super cute Hatch Em's Ornaments.

Do you remember those? Or the toys like them, where you would stick it water and watch it grow over the week? LOVED THEM!  The first time my nephew visited from Australia I got him a Spider Man one.  He loved it. He was diligent about changing the water, watched it like a hawk and of course touched and played with it the whole time. It's been four years, and he still has it!

In case this is your first time seeing these awesome grow in water toys, check this out...

1. Hang the ornaments on the tree
2.  Let the kids touch, poke, shake and get all excited about what animal will be waiting in side.
3. Then on Christmas morning, when they have torn the place apart, remind them there is one more present to open... One they will have to watch and wait for...
4. Stick the eggs in water...
5. Again, copious amounts of poking an water changing will take place while the egg shell dissolves.
6. Once the shell dissolves, the sweet little bear is ready for another bath...

Note: I broke the little polar bear out of the egg so I could show you what he looked like.
Normally the egg shell breaks away leaving the animal to grow! 

And then, after another round of touching, poking water changing and size speculation... The little guy will grow to TEM TIMES HIS SIZE!  So cool. I feel like I am getting Ollie excited about science and even gardening without him knowing it!  

Here is the full process in a "Pin it" version.

Cute polar bears, snowmen and penguins not your child's thing?  Check out these animal planet ones!  I know my seven and nine year-old nephews will love them.

To see all of the different types of Hatch 'Ems CLICK HERE! 

Feeling lucky?  EIGHT lucky readers will win a Hatch 'Em Holiday Ornament set. Sign up below! 

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That's right, I'm On Team Awesome Mom Now!

I admit, I have a wild child toddler. He is constantly trying to climb the furniture, or push toys that he can climb on over to the counters to reach even higher, or worse climb on. He loves to push EVERY button he encounters (including mine), play in the cat's water, and is obsessed with putting things in the cat's litter box. Sometimes he tries to throw toys at the cat, or yell at me when I yell at him, and sometimes even tries to pinch me. For the longest time, I tried the constant No's! and hand swats, and put him in his room for time outs. I was a tyrant of a mother, and I hated it.  Well, not anymore! I have finally realized that most of this is normal, and the only way I will survive parenting is to relax and have patience. I have turned to a new style of parenting, and it is working great.  I choose my battles, rationally discuss why he should not do something, and for all the rest, I accept the things I cannot change, and change the shit I can.

I am here to tell you, having a toddler like mine is not easy. I say like mine, because I have a few girlfriends with toddlers the same age as Ollie, both boy and girl who are vastly different.  Well, there is this one girl who tries to one up Ollie all of the time in the wild child category, and there is another girl who is not so wild, but she is too smart for her mom's own good, and is giving her a whole different kind of hell. Then there are three boys who are SO different, that I am amazed they are only weeks apart. For each of us, our battles are different, but I don't care who you are, if you have a toddler you have battles.  So, I thought I would share how I have stopped saying NO! four-zillion times a day!

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Do You Know What Health Care Reform Means For Your Taxes? I Do. #TurboTaxACA

Being that historically I've been on the receiving end of a tax return, I'm one of those people that looks forward to tax season. In fact, I'm a new homeowner with big dreams for my fixer-upper, I've spent my tax return into the next decade! Thankfully, my financial situation is not complicated, so with the help of fabulous tax preparing software, all it takes is a few clicks, and I'm on my way to filing my return. That being said, this year's Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliance being added to my return does have me wondering what that will mean for my bottom line. So, I did the research.

Here is the lowdown on ACA and your taxes...

According to my friends at TurboTax who have broken it down into understandable terms:

Taxpayers will fall into three categories when it comes to ACA and taxes: those insured through an employer, those insured through health care exchanges, and those who are uninsured. Here's what you need to know:

The Insured: For most people (9 out of 10 taxpayers), complying with the ACA on taxes is a non-event because they have insurance through their employer, Medicaid, Medicare, or a private provider (Congressional Budget Office). They will just check a box on their tax return to confirm they have health insurance. There's no need to spend more on tax preparation.

Insured through Exchanges: This year 8 million people became insured through or their state exchange (Congressional Budget Office).
Those who purchased insurance through the exchanges will receive a 1095-A form from or their state exchange. They will enter information from their 1095-A on their taxes, just like they do with their W-2 forms.

The Uninsured: Roughly 42 million people are uninsured in America (Congressional Budget Office).
Those who do not have insurance and don't qualify for exemptions will pay a penalty of about $95 or about 1% of their income.

FYI: If you're currently uninsured, the penalty is based on your family size and income.
TurboTax Health has a free calculator to estimate how much your penalty may be for 2014.  Please note: If you do fall into the uninsured category, TurboTax says not to lose hope. There are exemptions and ways to waive the penalty!

If you have any concerns about filing this year due to the Affordable Care Act, please check out TurboTax Health. It's an amazing resource that not only helps you understand what ACA means for your return, but what ACA means in general. Open Enrollment runs from November 15th, 2014 through February 15, 2015, take this time now to fully understand your rights in regard to Health Care Reform and what it means for your taxes.  Protect yourself and your money now!

To get informed with TurboTax Health Click here.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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