Thursday, June 30, 2011

And then she does this....

We took Kirsten to our local water park today for something different to do on this nice day. She had a great time splashing around and getting absolutely soaked in the big water park tree house.

But then it happened, she hit her wall.

She screamed, threw toys, threw other kids toys, and slobbered all over herself. When she has blotches all over he face from screaming so much, you know its time to go. We packed our things and started to leave when we noticed she fell asleep in the stroller. Being brave we decided to grab a spot under a tree and stay for a bit. She snoozed, we got a couple Coronas, and enjoyed the sun.

As soon as she woke up from her 45 minute nap she was back to being a little terror. We tried the pool again but no dice, she just really wanted to slobber and throw her little body into yoga poses on the grass. We were defeated so we packed up again to leave.

I stripped her down to change her back into dry clothes, and while standing on the towel, completely nude, she grabbed my glasses and did this....

Tell me something, how the heck can you be mad or frustrated with a toddler who is that funny?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where A Kid Can Be A Kid

... and parents can be kids too!

We took Kirsten to our local amusement park, Kennywood, for the first time last week. It was a place we both went as kids and had millions of memories, so this was a big moment. It was a spontaneous trip, which turns out, are usually the best trips. There was a lot of room or error, taking a 1.5 year old to a huge park with loud noises and some rides that are much older than me.

We didn't expect her to be able to ride too much other than the merry-go-round. We were surprised that they allowed her on most of the rides in Kiddieland, and even more surprised that she ENJOYED it! My kid rocked that place. She loved the rides, even ones that turns and went sideways. She smiled from ear-to-ear and screamed "weeeeeeeeee" around every bend and turn. It was a really great moment. And she totally deserved the cheese fries with extra bacon for dinner (okay okay... honestly, I wanted to fries, but you can't go to Kennywood and NOT get the fries!).

Kenny Kangaroo!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting There is Getting By

Something that was not apart of our plan has come up and changed everything.

Since leaving my full-time assistant manager position I have devoted my time to being a full-time mommy to Kirsten. We realized I could not completely stop working, and landed a really amazing a flexible position at a store for a few hours a week. It worked. It worked great for us, Todd's schedule, and allowed me to be home with Kirsten.

But sometimes things just come up...

I love my job and the people I work with, and really feel at home there. I said from the start that they regained my confidence that retail doesn't have to be the disaster that my last job turned out to be. I could work for a good company and actually learn and move up... eventually. It took me a while to understand that retail was the place for me, and I think it really only took finding my right place to see that.

I expressed interest recently that I would be willing to move up if the opportunity came before me. We agreed that we would take things at a snail's pace. I liked the idea of easing into a job that would require more hours and more responsibility. That very day that we had the discussion, I get the phone call. The girl in the position above me has quit.

I could very well keep going with how things have been. I really liked staying home with Kirsten and being with her during the day, just us girls. I also liked having my release at work, somewhere to go that was just for me and doing something I was good at. I felt scared. I tend to take on more than I can handle because I am very much a people pleaser. Things go really well at first and I enjoy being constantly busy... and then it catches up to me and I feel overwhelmed. I didn't want that this time. I wanted my focus to be Kirsten and everything else would fall into place after that.

So how would this work?

Even though I am still struggling with being away from her a little bit more than before, and in the fall having to look for daycare, I know this is a good decision for me. Which is a super hard pill to swallow. It sits in my throat and nags at me constantly. Being selfish is hard to do when you have a terrific kid who you'd rather be selfish for. I love having her consume my life and I feel so proud when I take her places and do things with her. But I have to realize that its okay to be selfish for myself too.

I recently went to the mall alone for the first time since having Kirsten and I got my nails done. I loved every second of it, but I felt like I had something missing, like I had forgotten to put on pants before I went out of the house. I hated not having her with me. I hated having my identity taken from me. But I needed it, I needed that alone time.

So much like that, I need my own career. I love what I do and I'd hate to give up on something because I felt comfortable in what I was currently doing. It will be a slow process, and the hours won't be too consuming.

Baby steps, for all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Of course!

a story, just in time for Father's Day

We have been very lucky with getting Kirsten to bed and how well she sleeps. We are on no schedule of any kind, but when she's down, she down until at least 8am.

So the other night it was rather odd that she stayed up until 10pm. With Todd being home since school has let out her schedule may be off, so I really didn't mind it too much.

It was around 10:30 that I decided to go up to her room and crash the little party she was having in her crib. I entered the dark room and saw her curly fro pop right up. I silently picked her up and sat down on the rocker with her, something that I haven't done for months. We rocked, I sang songs from Kindermusik (I figured they would be soothing? I don't know too many slow Michael Buble songs), and she began to settle down. I laid her down, put her covers over her, turned on her Giraffe sound machine, and left the room. I was confident this was it. So I turned on season 3 of True Blood (season 4 starts soon!). But she just would not give up!

This time I filled her cup up with milk and rocked her while she drank. I changed the songs to Katy Perry melodies, in hopes that it would be like in the car when she gets drowsy and sleeps through all of my pop tunes cranked up loud. We was settling down again so I put her down, changed the Giraffe's sounds, and left the room.

Back to True Blood... (oh gosh who isn't so excited to see what will happen with Vampire Eric??)

But nope, not even "Pictures of last night; Ended up online; I'm screwed" could sooth her into a blissful sleep.

I decided this time I would trust what we did before when sleeping training her and would only run her back until she falls asleep. I rubbed and patted, and finally just left my hand on her back. I thought she was asleep, or at least mostly asleep, so I left the room.

I was almost to the door when I heard her stir. I stopped, turned halfway around, and that's when I heard it...

"Bye Daddy"

Bye Kirsten, Goodnight
(Love, MAMA)

Wordless Wednesday

For my amazing father....

and for the one that surprises me every day....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

GroVia Diapers - One Year Later

I started using GroVia (then GroBaby) diapers about a year ago when Kirsten was 5 months old. We used other cloth before that, and after being discouraged and burdened by all of the work, I almost gave up on cloth all together. On a whim I ordered these diapers, just to give it a try, and have never looked back since!

Thankfully they came out with new prints and colors recently, and have been working on making new products that are safe and environmentally friendly.

I bought Kirsten a few of the new prints, and really could not resist getting her the airplanes. Of course these are meant for boys, but who are we kidding here, they are TOO CUTE FOR WORDS!

Did you just die? Because I did when I put it on her!

I could keep going about how great I think GroVia is, and how someone who is hesitant about cloth diapering should give them a shot before giving up on the idea of cloth. They are easy to use and I have had ZERO problems with cleaning them. Most of my inserts, about a year later, are still stain free and as absorbent as ever!

The customer service is really amazing and have been there for me in a few pickles. Like the time the snaps stopped snapping or Kirsten's "sick" diaper stains almost ruined a whole batch of inserts.

One year later I am as happy as ever, and look forward to cloth diapering my growing toddler, using my adjustable GroVia diapers that will fit her little butt until she can use the potty.

Thank-you GroVia... and I hope every one is encouraged to give their cloth diaper companies a little hug sometime soon... they deserve it!

Monday, June 6, 2011

At the Zoo

We go to the zoo often. It is actually a joke amongst friends because it seems like we go a lot. But really, we have a pass and live 10 minutes away, so why not!

Usually if I go alone with Kirsten I try to make it through without having to carry her and push the stroller. We mostly visit the animals, eat lunch, then leave. But this time I got brave and took her out of the stroller a lot to see the animals up close. Previous trips it seemed like she barely saw the animals, or really had no interest. This time... she loved it!

Something that a place like the zoo teaches be each and every time is patience. It isn't easy to navigate an entire zoo with a 17 month old by myself. I see a lot of frustrated parents, and frustrated kids, and I always pass them and think, "I hope I never act this way." When in reality... I will. We all have our days and I can't judge them based on one small experience. My kid won't be good every time we go, nor will I always have the patience to deal with her in the 80 degree heat and crowds of people. But I hope I remember the fun days like these, when things were easy, and know that for every good day, we have a pretty kick ass day too.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Holding Hands

Kirsten has just learned how to walk while holding our hand. She does some independent walking but nothing that takes her from Point A to Point B. It is more, "oh this is fun!" and then she realizes that she can do what she always does (crawl) to her destination.

We discovered she can hold our hand and walk last week at the park. She went down a slide and I ushered her off of it by holding her hand, and she didn't let go! Normally she will bat my hand away, insisting she can do everything on her own. But this time she held on and took a few steps with me. It was one of the best moments I ever had with her.

She continued it a few days later at the pool. I stayed at the bar waiting for our check from dinner while Todd took her to the docks to see the boats. Her put her down and walked while holding her hand. I look down off the deck and see them walking, hand-in-hand, in the sunset. Again, magical.

I only just started holding her hand, and getting her to trust me to walk with her, when it all came crashing over me like a wave.

This happened....

We went out to dinner and decided to walk by the fountains afterwards. Todd held her hand and slowly walked her up to water as it shot out of the ground. She loved it. She shouted, "doggy!" as a big Pit Bull galloped through the fountain. It was a great end to a nice dinner.

Not wanting to be left out I took her hand and walked her around. My little girl, holding my hand, as we walked around in our pretty dresses. I loved it. And then a small girl with a pretty dress on came over. She was hesitant at first, but then I noticed her reaching for Kirsten's hand. She then hugged her, and we thought it was the sweetest thing. After a good "you are my new best friend" hug she reached for her hand again.

And this is where it gets me.

Kirsten took the girls hand and dropped mine.

Dead. Over. Heart smashed. I looked at my husband and he had a look of shock on his face. I was witnessing two things... Kirsten's first real friendship (even though it only lasted the moments we were at the fountain) and the first time she didn't need me anymore.

I spend every day with her. It is just us girls and I love it. We go shopping, to the pool, we watch movies, and I sneak her cookies before her nap. We have a bond.

Seeing her drop my hand made this whole "growing up" thing more real for me. Eventually this will be the norm. She will think it isn't cool anymore to hold her mom's hand. Or be seen with me. Or wear a pretty dress to dinner with me.

I was just hoping that day wasn't today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

(slightly) Wordless Wednesday

"Cancer sucks!"
Karen Wheeler

dear friend, and best cancer-butt-kicker I ever met

Photo taken after we completed the 3 mile walk for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

After weeks (actually an entire month) of rain here in Pittsburgh, it was such a welcomed break this weekend to see some sun!
We celebrated by taking Kirsten to the pool!

Here is our weekend....

It is pretty amazing to see how far we have come in a year. Last year at the pool we carried bottles with us, and someone had to constantly hold Kirsten in the pool. Now she plays independently in the baby pool, walking right past us and up to the kid with the best toys. I was able to enjoy a cocktail while catching some sun, completely unheard of last year. I could see her making friends, and growing up there, and making childhood memories, just as I did when I was a kid. My favorite summer memories take place at the pool we went to every year. It is really amazing to see summer through the same eyes my own mother had years ago.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ok... I get it now

A perfect day....

We started out by going to Target for some pool items. The pool opens this weekend and we needed new "big girl" toys, beach towels, and lotion. I had fun walking up and down the aisles talking about summer with her, and seeing her face light up when I showed her the Dora beach towel I was getting her. She is such a little girl now!

We then went to the mall to play. Not shop. Just play. We went to Giggles & Smiles and she had the absolute best time. She went from the ball pit to the slides to the race cars faster than I could keep up. We weren't tantrum free... but that didn't seem to matter. Her smiles as she went down the huge slide all by herself was worth every second.

We then shared some lunch at the food court, then rode the merry-go-round to cap off the trip. She loves that ride, and I love the squeals that come from her as we go round and round and round.

Once we got home I hoped she would sleep, but she fought her nap for an hour. I gave in, and instead of hiding in the bathroom from my sleep deprived toddler, I got out her bathing suit and started to blow up the pool. While she happily played with the sidewalk chalk on the back patio, I filled the pool and got everything ready.

The second she hit the water she was in love. What a difference from last year! Last year she was just this blob, sitting in the water making tiny splashes. She was all over the pool, playing with her toys, licking the water, getting in and out all by herself... she was in her glory. And I loved laying on the towel watching as she just enjoyed the sunny afternoon.

We hit her wall shortly after... and she is currently asleep. And looking back, today was great.

I stress a lot being home with Kirsten and feeling like I filled her day with fun and educational things. I want to be a good mom, and feel pressure from all of those other amazing mommies out there to keep up. I feel like I have to be able to bake cookies, do a load of laundry, think of a fun craft to do with her, and have dinner on the table all at the same time. In reality, that is never true, but when you start to stay at home, it becomes that little voice inside your head.

I think I earned my gold star for the day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Friday, May 13, 2011

Thank-you Tina Fey

I have written a few entries about my troubles with breast feeding. I have also written many entries about those mommies who's life plan is to bring down every mom who isn't exactly like them.

There's no answer to why we do it, why mother's feel the need to constantly defend their choices or feel bad because we may have failed at something. If our kids are still alive, happy, and not laying in large piles of poo... then we didn't fail. So why do we walk around feeling like big losers half the time?

Well I just wanted to share this bit from Tina Fey's new book, Bossypants. She basically says everything I ever wanted to say about my big huge fail at breast feeding. It just wasn't in the cards for me and Kirsten. And I shouldn't be ashamed of that. However, I feel constant shame because of it. Why? Why do I do this to myself? Why do we always do this?

Well maybe she can at least make us laugh and finally get over the guilt....

After giving in and feeding her child bottles of formula: "However, the baby was thriving. I was no longer feeling trapped, spending thirty out of every ninety minutes attached to a William-Sonoma Tit Juicer. But I still had an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. I had failed at something that was supposed to be natural."

She goes on to describe the shame that happens after you officially give up on breast feeding. The times you are with friends who do it with ease and talk about how they are saving so much money and bonding their their child. You lie. You try to rationalize it in your head, "I tried. No one can say I didn't give it every ounce of my effort." I spent months doing this. And I truly hated myself for being such a jerk to myself! And for judging my friends and needing to put them down because it made me feel better.

It is refreshing to hear the same words I have said no many times in my head from someone else. Someone of a little more authority than myself. Maybe now I can finally let go of it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless.... oh F it!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So this is it...

When I was in 5th grade I won a writing contest sponsored by McDonald's called "When I Grow Up." We were to write an essay discussing what we would like to be when we grew up, and list the subjects in school that would help us get to that point. I went home the night that my teacher announced the contest, holding the flyer with Ronald McDonald on it, excited to write my amazing essay.

Why was I so excited?

Well that summer Jurasic Park came out, and after seeing it on the big screen I knew exactly what I wanted to be, a Paleontologist. What 5th grader understands that occupation, let alone can say it, is beyond me, but it is what I decided to do and I wanted to write to the people at McDonald's and tell them all about it.

I sat down at our kitchen table armed with a note pad and plenty of sharp pencils. I went through several rough drafts before I was satisfied and knew I held the award winning essay. My dad read it over, gave me suggestions, and we sat at our ancient computer (well now it seems ancient, then it was pretty cool we even owned one) and typed out the greatest work ever written by a 5th grader.

I submitted my work the next day at school. I even had it in a pink folder and included a title page, complete with dinosaur stickers. I wanted to win, and I wasn't below trying to out "cute" everyone else.

I am not sure how much time went by until we found out the winner, but on that fateful day, while I sat in math class doing long division or something, Ronald McDonald himself waltzed into my 5th grade classroom. I couldn't believe he had time in his busy schedule to visit my school, let alone come to my classroom. This was big.

We all sat in anticipation as we waited to hear what he had to say. "Boys and girl, I am here to award a special little girl with the award for the best 'When I Grow Up' essay." We were on the edges of our seats. Who was it??

Then.... he announced my name!

I felt like Sally Field when she went up to receive that Oscar... "YOU LOVE ME!" I wanted to shout!

I got a plaque, McDonald's gift certificates, and my photo in the local paper with Ronald. I was on top of the world.

I kept this up for a few years, loving science and wanting to dig for dinosaur bones for a living. When that appeared to be out of reach, and my hatred for math really shone through each report card, I needed to rethink this career path. In 8th grade I had a really amazing English teacher and she made me see that my strengths weren't in digging through the dirt, but in writing. From that point on, I wanted to be a writer.

I even went to college for this. I studied English and Art History and minored in Writing. I was going to write and no one would stop me, I mean heck, I had Ronald on my side!

And then I graduated.

Everyone jokes about it while in college, but the fact that my English courses were always so full, I never believed it, but English is such a joke of a major. Aside from being a teacher or actually being able to work for the Times, you're screwed. I was one of the few who thought I could live in a log cabin somewhere and just write. And people would love my books. I'd be a loner who frequented coffee shops and everyone would be like, "oh Erika sits on that couch in the back. She wrote her first New York Times best seller there." Sadly... none of this ever happened. Sure I frequent the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts daily, but I'm sure they only know me as "iced caramel latte lady" and not the hip, cool writer who is between novels.

I was leaving work the other day when all of this came rushing back to me. I am so defined by being a mommy, it has consumed my life for the past 2 years, that I completely forgot about all of this other stuff. My job is being a mom, and working retail is what I do because I enjoy it, it pays some bills, and it works around my husband's schedule.

I wonder if I would have won if I wrote about that?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

and now, someone else's words

To continue my "non-wordless wednesday" theme I wanted to share some words that aren't mine, but someone who is much better at putting together a sentence than me.

We have, Anna Quindlen....

The old arsenic hours were when the homework was done and the squabbling began and there was still an hour until baths and bed. (Once, I remember, I lied and said it was 8 p.m. at 6:45 just to get them out of my hair. Note to the mothers of young kids: don’t buy digital clocks.) The new arsenic hours are when I’ve knocked off work for the day in an empty house and have a cup of herbal tea and an hour of whatever’s on the DVR before my husband shows up for dinner. Occasionally, if the universe is feeling merciful, I will hear the dogs bark as the door downstairs opens, and a voice will call, “Mom?” And my heart sings.

I hope, like her, I never forget the days where I swear up and down to God that I will start going to church more often and volunteer at the fish fry if he/she gets me through the day. The days where Kirsten is teething, doesn't want to eat, refuses to take a bath, hates getting her diaper changed, pulls the dogs ears, and pushes me away when I try to hug her. I go to bed on those days feeling defeated. The toddler has taken over once again, and all I accomplished that day was running behind her as she tore apart the kitchen and living room. I hope when this is all over, and I am sitting here years from now watching horrible reality television (yes the future still has bad reality tv, and I still haven't broken my habit of watching it), I can just smile because in the end, it was all worth it.

My non-Wordless Wednesday post

In response to this article and news story... Follow the link

I have probably written this post 1000 times. As well as other bloggers. It is just an issue that keeps rearing its ugly head, and we are constantly forced to defend ourselves.

Recently J.Crew came under fire for putting an ad on their site that showed a mother playing with her 5 year-old son. They looked happy and sharing a great mommy/son moment. The issue people had with it though was that the mother was painting her sons toe nails pink.

The horror!

J.Crew thankfully declined to respond to this backlash, stating that they feel it is a "non-issue." And I have to 100% agree with J.Crew, what is the issue here?

I am trying to figure out what the story is, what's the big deal, why did I spend 10 minutes of my day reading articles of this today?

Stories like these make me sad. It makes me sad because I feel like, as a parent, we are constantly asked to defend our parenting styles. Why did you choose to not breastfeed? Why don't you cloth diaper? Why did you use meds while giving birth? Why don't you sleep train your kid so she sleeps at night? How much tv does your kid watch in a day?

We are constantly trying to make issues out of things that are non-issues.

I went through so much anxiety and stress after having Kirsten because I felt like everything I did was wrong, and I only had her for a few weeks. I felt like a huge failure and she had yet to turn one month old. I failed at breastfeeding and I felt really ashamed about it. I couldn't go to my favorite online sites because I feared judgement. When I did confess on a few sites that I had to give up breastfeeding because it was just way too stressful, I got a lot of flack for it. I cried for days. I even lied to a lot of people and said that I had an easy time with it and everything was going well, all because I wanted to feel like I was doing a good job at being a mom, when it reality it was just the opposite. It took me a long time to come to terms with the type of mother I was, the type of mother I naturally had to be because that is who I am, and just because someone tells me something is "better" doesn't make it right for me and my daughter.

So why do we do this to people? I can only imagine the amount of stress on a parent of a child who chooses to dress differently. All because WE put that stress on the person. People want these news stories so they can sit around and discuss how if it was their child they wouldn't allow it. We need to validate ourselves and our decisions, so picking on those who are different is the easiest way to get our fix. WHY??

I love the response from a parent to this article stating that we should raise our children so that they grow up to be loving parents. We all want our kids to be happy and following a good path, but I really never thought that I really just want my kid to treat her kids with as much love and kindness as I treat her... and as my parents treated me.

So is this an issue? Non-issue? Or is the only issue here that people just need to mind their own damn business??

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

We all need a morning "pick-me-up"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Surprises at the Zoo

We woke up Sunday morning unsure of what to do for the day. The weather in Pittsburgh has been really strange lately, so on any given day we could have snow, rain, sun, tornados... you name it, we have had it these past two weeks. Saturday ended up being a fairly nice day. Some sunshine, mild weather, perfect for a walk. We tossed around the idea of going to a park, but decided to take advantage of this nice weather break and go to the zoo!

We have a zoo pass, this has worked out great for us. I love knowing that I can go whenever I want. It is the perfect place to go for a walk, spend an entire afternoon, or go for a short visit. Plus, it is only 10 mins from our house! Score!

Bundled up we all headed to the zoo. I was excited just to be outside, a nice change from heading to an indoor area to play.

We walked along the path, slowly taking in all of the animals and just enjoying the day. We got to see baby tigers playing with their mom, and were surprised by the peacocks who freely roam around the zoo. A few kids even chased them around!

We made out way to the aquarium, my favorite part. I love the penguins, and love to watch them swim around under the water. They always stand so proudly and seem so social, as if I could stand next to them and be apart of their conversations. I also love the little pool where you can reach in and pet a sting ray.

Something new at the zoo has been the polar bear exhibit. This huge new construction attached to the aquarium that allows you to see the bears through a window on ground level, as well as in a tunnel under the water. We have been going to the zoo for a year, and have only seen the bears in the water once, and it was a short period of time.

Sunday was a different story. Since the zoo was less crowded the under water tunnel wasn't full of screaming kids trying to lure the bear into the water. We stood for a few minutes, discussing how we NEVER see the bear in the water. I was about to take a photo of my husband sitting with Kirsten under the water when suddenly, it happened, the bear jumped into the water! It was amazing to see. There is no sound, so no large splash, just a giant white bear landing in the water.

He swam around for a while, playing with a ball. He even stood on top of the glass that we were under. Kirsten pointed up and squealed at the bear. I was so excited that she got to see this, and sort of understand it. Previous visits I often wondered if she understood that she was seeing animals in real life. She mostly just sits in her stroller or baby carrier and stares. This time, she was super interactive.

After the delightful bear show, we moved down the tunnel to see the sharks. We got a great view of them in the very clear water. They stared at us as they slowly swam by showing their huge teeth. Kirsten loved pounding on the glass, mocking them.

We moved on to the slide and play area. I always say that I cannot wait for her to really appreciate everything the zoo has to offer. We have her a taste of the amazing tree top slides by going down with her. The smile on her face was priceless.

I love the zoo, but especially love it when we can go as a family on a spontaneous visit. A very successful spontaneous visit!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Remembering What Its Like To Be A Kid

Sometimes I have to step back and remember what its like to be a kid. I get so lost in my own life, and problems, and responsibilities, that I forget what its like to be young, carefree, and with a great imagination. Kirsten will never gets these years back, she will only be this age once, and I want her to enjoy every second. I enjoyed every second of my childhood, and I hope she looks back on it as fondly as I do on mine.

One of my dad's favorite stories to tell about me (I was about 4 at the time) is the time he took me to Hills. It was a local department store that I loved to visit. The minute you walked in, it was a wonderland for children. Right in the doorway were counters that had a huge popcorn maker, hot dogs, cotton candy, and all of the treats you could possibly want as a kid. I loved the smell, and remember it well.

On that particular day my dad let me have a bag of popcorn. I walked into the big store with my popcorn in both hands and took in the scene. The place was huge. My dad leaned down and said to me, "You can pick anything. Anything you want in the whole store, and I'll buy it for you." My eyes got huge! This was a child's dream! Not only did he get me popcorn, but anything I want??? I was in heaven.

I slowly walked down every aisle and took it all in. Anything. I could have a bike... Barbie dream house... anything my little heart desired. We walked around for about an hour. My dad was so patient with me and let me enjoy my moment.

Eventually I decided what I wanted. Not a bike. Not a new playhouse. I chose a Barbie bath tub. It had a shower, little shower curtain, jacuzzi tub, and bubble bath for Barbie. It was perfect.

My dad looked a little perplexed. He asked, "Is this really what you want? A toy bath tub? You can get anything!" I simply nodded my head and walked happily to the register with my new purchase.

I played with that Barbie bath tub until I grew out of my Barbie phase. It was one of my favorite toys. I think I loved it so much because it meant something. Out of everything in that store, I wanted that. And I got to spend a great afternoon with dad, eating popcorn, and walking around a department store.

We laugh about it now. But I like to think the reason I didn't choose something big or expensive was because I knew I didn't need it. I knew I just wanted something simple.

I remind myself of this story when I find myself getting lost in my own adult world, and I need to come back to life and remember what it's like to eat popcorn and just enjoy the afternoon. I hope I can give this spirit to Kirsten, and she picks out her own Barbie bath tub on a shopping trip.

Friday, April 1, 2011

We all have dreams

When I was in third grade my favorite show was the Mickey Mouse Club. You know, the one with Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aquilera, and Ryan Gosling? I could not wait for the free weekends of Disney Channel so I could watch it. I begged my mom to order Disney Channel, but she insisted we couldn't get it full time. But none of my friends had the channel, so we all looked forward to the few weekends a year that we got it for free. I would glue myself to the tv, not wanting to miss a second of it.

Anyway, I remember after one episode there being an advertisement for kids who want to be apart of the show. They were looking for new talent, and this small town girl finally saw her opportunity to be in the spotlight, exactly where I belonged.

We had a computer at the time. Mostly I used it to play Oregon Trail (damn Typhoid Fever!!!) but I knew how to write up a paper (I used to make flyers to my "events" I held in my basement, but more on those later). I sat at my computer and began to compose a letter, a letter to the Disney Channel. Basically I knew I had to take it upon myself if I wanted to be on the Mickey Mouse Club dancing alongside JC and Justin.

Well obviously I never got the part. But years later, I would find a copy of that letter. I kept a copy for myself, a memento for when I was famous and wanted to remember what it was like before I was rich and famous.

So behold... my letter to the Mickey Mouse Club......

Dear Mickey Mouse Club,

My name is Erika Hicks and I am 9 years old. I love watching the Mickey Mouse Club and would love to be on the show.

I have been dancing since I was 5 years old. I take ballet, jazz, and tap lessons. I love dancing and think I am good enough to be on your show. I try to practice the dances they do on the show, so I can learn all of them quickly when I am on the show.

Sometimes I hold dance shows in my basement for my family. I dance to Disney music and make up my own dances. I like to make up dances and am good at it. My mom and dad think I am really good and if I keep practicing can be famous some day.

When I am in 4th grade next year I will take chorus so I can be really good at singing. I like to sing now, but do not take lessons yet. I love to sing Disney songs. My favorite Disney movie is The Little Mermaid.

I can also play piano. I have been taking lessons since 2nd grade.

I would like to be on your show and will move to Disney World so I can be on it. My mom and dad would like to live there. And so would my brother.

I put a picture of myself inside with this letter.

I hope you write back.

Thank you,
Erika Hicks

I hope Kirsten has dreams like these. Dreams of dancing with future pop stars and moving to Disney World. Sometimes I wish I still dreamed like this, and just knew someone would hire me just because I said I was good at something. I believed in myself.... maybe I needed to send a video?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

We're all just trying not to raise a bunch of A**holes right?

Let's face it, there are enough a**holes in the world. And us moms, we're just trying our best to make sure we don't contribute to that ever increasing number.

We read our kids books, sing them songs, monitor their tv watching, monitor their time on the internet, spend hours (I MEAN HOURS) picking out THE BEST items for our baby registries, run out like its Black Friday to get the product another blogger SWEARS by (::cough:: Sophie the Giraffe ::cough::).... it just goes on and on and on and on.

Well all of this effort isn't for nothing. We're trying to make sure our child is a well behaved, side-parted, shirt tucked in, "please" and "thank-you" little lady or gentleman.

We know those a**hole kids. The ones at the playground with absolutely no manners. The ones who talk back to their mom. The ones who push the other kids aside so they can go down the slide first. And the insist on CLIMBING UP the slide with their stupid Buzz Lightyear light up shoes. We always go home and tell our husbands over a perfectly cooked meatloaf (yeah, I had the time to raise a gold star child AND cook an amazing dinner) that the bad kid was at the park again and we just don't understand what the parents are thinking raising him/her that way. Where are the boundaries? Did they not buy him Sophie when he was teething? Did they not read The Happiest Baby on the Block? These moms must know nothing. They must not sit on Twitter and read blogs and discuss to no end on sites like The Bump the ins and outs of parenting.

Obviously there is a clear line, and you are on one side or the other. Good mommy. Bad mommy. God forbid you are on bad mommy side because... let me tell you... it's awful. You get rejected from groups, people ignore you on Twitter, and even worse, your kid will grow up to be an a**hole. And we know what happens to a**holes. Yep, you guessed it, they go on to raise more a**holes who's parents just never got it.

Okay okay okay... obviously this is all just in fun. All of our kids are bound to have a bratty moment. We're all going to stumble. We're all going to over analyze our parenting styles.

But in the end, we are all just trying not to raise an a**hole. Even if we don't rush out to buy the glow in the dark seahorse who is supposed to be the cure to sleepless nights... right? RIGHT???

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

At least she can feed the dog... now onto feeding herself.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Learning Together - Sign Language

I never learned sign language. I knew bits and pieces, because in middle school it was the cool thing for girls to do, learn sign language and "secretly" talk to each other in class. We thought we were so cool using out fingers to sign to someone across the room that the boy next to us smelled really bad, or Sarah in the third row is a total witch with a b. I knew the basics. I knew a few swear words. That was it.

Well now that I have a kid I have a new interest in signing. I've seen all the commercials and infomercials about how it will make my kid so much more intelligent, and able to tell me what's wrong long before she can talk. I'm probably starting this whole process much later than I should have, but it's never too late right?

As an extreme beginner to the world of signing I opted to buy a ton of books and some videos. Kirsten enjoys the books. I got her a few from Amazon that were priced well and the pictures looked really colorful and fun. I bought a "Itsy Bitsy Spider Sign and Sing" book that has been a big hit (book by Annie Kubler). I also ordered her videos, which sat unopened until this weekend. I will tackle this project! My kid will be signing, "milk" and "ball" and "more" before I even know it.

Well it turns out that when you know nothing about teaching a kid something you know even less about, its a challenge.

We are starting with DVDs called Signing Time: Volume 1, My First Signs and Playtime Signs and so far Kirsten enjoys them. The woman who does the signs and kids in the video are cute and fun. The DVDs remind me of Baby Einstein movies. Lots of repeated images and words. Which I suppose is really the only way to teach a child sign language. Just as we do with animal sounds... show and tell, show and tell. I really enjoy that it is very kid centered. Lots of kids doing signs, showing an image, being silly. I was worried it would mostly be "This is how we sign ball.... This is how we sign milk...." and bore her.

So far we have stuck to the first video, which is basic signs. She shows some interest, and I play along with the video too. I try to have on hand as many of the objects as they are showing in the video. Her favorite word right now is "ball" so I am trying to focus on words she is very familiar with.

No sign of any signs from her yet, but really its only been two days. I may look for some flash cards to help us too.

I really look forward to sharing how this is going. It has been a really fun process learning along with her. I don't expect us to ever be experts, or be able to sign conversations to one another. My ultimate goal is just to have some basics down. The hardest part so far is figuring out how to go from "learning time" and "use in real life" time. Its easy to put on the video and sign away with it, or use the books as guides for a few minutes a day. But I think the true test is if I can make it a habit to use the signs throughout the day.

Here we go!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This is why...

I stay home.

Random, unplanned, trips to the park.
Getting caught in the rain, right before the quarter-sized hail started to fall.

If I was working full-time, this would never happen. Before? Well before I wanted planned and structured days off. I wanted to get every ounce of fun out of the day. I had plans, I had errands, I had things to do. It wasn't a day off, it was a working day but my kid got to come along.

Now? We ride sea horses at the park.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fluff-date Tuesday (gDiapers)

This weeks Fluff-date? gDiapers!

Alright. Watch me as I eat my words.

When I got into cloth diapering I saw gDiapers in BabiesRUs considered them, but I wanted to go home and research first. What I found was that gDiapers is a HUGE retailer in cloth diapers and that both turned me on and turned me off at the same time. There is something about the "small company" that really tugs at my heart strings. But there is also something to be said about a company who has such an amazing following.

I then read reviews and saw mixed reactions. Mostly I heard that they leaked. I immediately decided against them and went through the process of trying about 3 other types of diapers. As you may know from reading my blog, I fell head over heels for GroBaby (Now GroVia) diapers, and we still use them with great success.

Here's the thing, I can never settle. I always have to be trying new things. I have a friend who uses gDiapers on her son and has nothing but great things to say about them. This made me really curious. So over Christmas time while online shopping for gifts, I put a pack of gDiapers in my virtual shopping cart. Why not?

They came in the mail and went untouched until this week. I used the cloth inserts yesterday and found it easy to use. At first I was a little skeptical about the way you put them in the holder that snaps into the diaper. I wasn't sure they would stay and not cause a leak. I made sure to change Kirsten every two hours to help prevent leaking and check the absorbency of the insert. She never went longer than 2 hours with one insert inside the diaper, but no leaks! If I were to go out and use these diapers I would probably add another insert just in case. But really no problems, probably just as good as my GroVia diapers.

Today I decided to see how the Biodegradable Inserts worked. I use these with my GroVia diapers and like them. I like to use them when we are out so I don't have to bring cloth with me, I can just toss them. Again I was a little worried because I had to place the insert inside this little plastic lined holder. Will it stay put? Move around and cause leaking? I have used them all day, and even during nap time with no problems! Again I changed her about every two hours, but I was really happy with how they held up.

From what I can tell, the snap in layer has done its job in keeping the insert safely snug in the diaper. After the Biodegradable insert gets wet, it does shrivel up a bit, but the wetness stays within the area of the snap-in layer. I was pleasantly surprised that it worked... it is a little awkward to stuff a cloth insert or biodegradable insert into a little plastic feeling layer and hope it will hold pee or poo! Even with a little shifting, everything stayed put!

I guess my favorite part of these diapers are the fit. The diaper (size medium) fits very snug around her middle and legs. Never did it seem too tight or uncomfortable. Plus, it is a slim fitting diaper. I didn't have problems putting it over over clothing, which has always been a concern of mine. My husband always comments on Kirsten's "bubble butt," but had no idea she had on cloth when she wore the gDiapers!

Thumbs up gDiapers! And congrats on making me eat my words. I learned my lesson to base decisions on reviews (wait I'm writing a review....).

Monday, March 21, 2011

I have to sing in front of people??

I recently read that less women are participating in "mommy and me" classes because of their busy schedules. Also, because they feel less of a need for a group setting, and feel they can get that on their own or at a public place.

This is all good. I have been that mommy up until this point. Frankly, I had zero time for a "mommy and me" class, heck I've barely had time to eat and sleep. But now that I'm home I vowed to do more things that are Kirsten centered, and not just all about me. Example... going to a mall play area or meeting up with a friend who has a baby. Not saying those things aren't good, but I really wanted to do something that was ALL about her. Something more structured.

So I decided to sign us up for Kindermusik!

I was a little nervous at first. What does one wear to such a function? Should I be sporty mommy? Laid back mommy? Trendy mommy? I mean these are all things to think about before our first "mommy and me" class. As much as this was something for Kirsten, it was for me too. I need to meet moms that live near me because honestly, I'm lonely. I like being home with Kirsten, and I love my friends, but I don't have anyone who can really relate. Except for internet friends. And even though they are there for me any time of the day, I need some face-to-face time!

Dressed in what I though was an outfit that showed I wasn't trying too hard, but still fun and cool, we made our way to Kindermusik. I walked in and immediately saw babies crawling around and playing on the floor. I knew Kirsten would have nothing to do with playing with the other kids. Every time I dropped her off at daycare she shyed away from the kids and cried for me. Would this bring back those memories?

After sitting down, polite small talk, Kirsten warmed up to the group from the safe vantage point on my lap. The teacher introduced herself, and the class began.

I'd say it went well. She eventually let go of her reservations and began to play with the other kids. As in, she crawled around and played with some toys and instruments. All of the moms were nice, polite, and warm. I felt very welcomed, but still a little bit of an outsider. I am not a shy person, but for some reason, when I really want to make friends, I get shy and reserved. Not how I am normally at all!

I really hope Kirsten continues to like it. And I hope to make some mommy friends. But most importantly, I hope no one is bothered by my singing voice!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Great Outdoors

It is no secret that Pittsburgh is cold, as in, "holy crap I don't want to leave my bed" cold for about 90% of the year. Watch a Steelers game and you are almost guaranteed to see snow on the field. So it's no wonder that when the temperatures outside reach 40+ everyone goes crazy and crowds the parks and zoo. So where did we go? The park and the zoo.

I took Kirsten out on Monday last week to the park because I was so sick of being in the house. Plus I can only take so much Dora the Explorer. "Tree, Bridge, Rainbow Mountain.... Tree, Bridge, Rainbow Mountain...."
I went ready for the cooler weather. I was just so excited that it wasn't -5 degrees I braved the 40 degree weather, and even wore running shoes. If you know me at all, you know I HATE SOCKS and HATE closed toe shoes. Odd, but true. I looked like a true "out at the park" mommy. Jogging stroller, stretchy jogging pants, Puma socks, and cute pink running shoes. (By the way, the socks and shoes have been worn once in the past year and a half). While walking the trails it was cold, and I thought of going straight home after our walk, but I knew I'd kick myself for not letting her go down a slide or two. Not only did we go down the slides, but she crawled ALL over that place. It really melted my heart to see her love the playground so much. She's a kid y'all!

We returned to the park, with daddy this time, yesterday. The weather was so much nicer, and even though it was crowded, it was a ton of fun. My husband even called a little girl a boy to her face. Score. Making friends everywhere we go.
But more importantly, Kirsten learned how to go down the slide head first.

Today we decided to meet my sister-in-law and nephews at the zoo. Kirsten slept about 80% of the time, but it was still awesome to get out and enjoy the great weather. It was 70 degrees! Holy crap! And not only did we see lions, tigers, and Nemo fish... but I successfully embarrassed myself by calling a little girl, "little dude." Seriously what the heck is wrong with us that we can't detect a girl at a public place? Wow.

This weather makes me so excited for what is to come. And hopefully we don't get knocked out by a parent because we can't tell if their kid is a boy, girl, or animal. I mean, at least I didn't call the kid a "little jerk." Right?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tis the Season

It is that time of year folks. That other time of year where we all make promises to ourselves and try to start anew. It is Lent!

I never really liked the idea of having to "give up" something during Lent. It never made sense to me. My mom always gave up chocolates or snacking, and she would complain for 40 days and 40 nights about it, but you better believe on that 41st day she was eating a bag full of tootsie rolls! So what was the point? To show that you have some will power, for at least a month? I just never got it. It didn't seem like it was what God wanted us to do when celebrating Lent. I don't think He wanted us to "give up" something or act like we were suffering because we are Catholic.

Instead I always tried to focus on "giving" something. Or, in other words, "giving up" some of my time to others in need. I took Lent as a way to finally get off my butt and volunteer somewhere. Whether it was my church, the local library, school, or women's shelter, I felt far more fulfilled with my decision.

This is not to say that "giving up" something isn't a good idea. I think the basic concept is good. It forces us to come forward with our vices and try to fix them.

So in spirit of "giving up" something for Lent, this is what our family will focus on this season.....

1. Keeping up on cleaning. Whether it is laundry, dishes, keeping our rooms clean, organization is the new keyword in our house!

2. Saying, "I love you" more often. I think we too often assume it and forget to just say it.

3. Sit down and eat as a family more often. Which basically means, I will cook more meals and make everyone sit at the table.

4. Get out and do something that is fun FOR THE BABY. I love the mall. I love going and just walking around. But it really isn't a trip for Kirsten. She hates the mall, except for the pretzels and play area. However those things aren't really worth the trip for her most of the time. So with the weather changing for the better (fingers crossed) we will start doing more "Kirsten" centered activities.

What are you "giving up" for Lent?

Monday, March 7, 2011


At no point since Kirsten was born (except for the first 4 weeks) was I ever a stay-at-home mom. Even when I was on maternity leave I never considered myself a stay-at-home mom because I knew there was a time limit. I was going back to work. Plus it took all 4 of those weeks for me to adjust to the idea of having a kid in the first place. No one ever remembers the first few weeks, and if you do, you only remember never sleeping and wearing the same sweat pants the entire time.

Well now that I am home basically full time it doesn't feel like it is real. I haven't quite adjusted to the idea that I don't have to get up and go to work every day. Or be home by a certain time so I can do a night shift. I work three or so days a week so most days are left open to whatever I want to do. And that is such a change!

It is honestly hard to make yourself not selfish after a lifetime of being so darn selfish. I admit it, I was super selfish my whole life. Everything revolved around what I wanted/wanted to do/my time. Adjusting to married life and living with a man was one thing. And even then it was fairly easy, because we both were independent enough to do our own thing without worry. But adjusting to a child, even more so, being home with a child 24/7, is super difficult.

Sometimes I see a marathon of Real Housewives episodes on tv and think... "What a perfect afternoon!" My old self would flop my butt on the couch with pizza rolls and mountain dew and have a perfectly good time. Now? I am lucky if I get to shower and have a cup of coffee throughout the entire day, not to mention, I am usually so tired after cooking for Kirsten and feeding her that my meals consist of yogurt or a granola bar.

When I worked I scheduled in things because I had to do it. I had to shower. Now it doesn't matter if I go three days without one. Who is going to judge me and my 3 inch roots? My dog?? (well maybe, he is very judgey).

It will take a lot to get used to. but I have confidence that we will find our groove. And I will stop looking at my time as this huge void, and more so as an adventure.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wait... the government doesn't care? NO?!?!

Mother Jones: Why Know Ones Cares About Unemployment

With my recent change in working status, from full to part time, and taking a rather significant pay cut in the process, I found this article interesting.

I don't think it really comes as a surprise that the government generally doesn't care/can't do much about the economy right now. Programs have come and gone with only mild success, and people in some cities are still struggling, even with a college degree. Remember those high hopes we had as bright eyed college students? I seriously thought I was going to be this amazing college professor, write for a local paper, and maybe publish a few books or articles. Um.... hello reality!

Not to say that these goals weren't, and maybe still aren't obtainable, but it just goes to show that in this tough economy it is hard to really hold onto a dream, or continue with those lofty thoughts. Settling has become the best option. I'd rather have SOMETHING than NOTHING is the new mentality.

I remember my dad having a hard time facing the fact that after graduation, and applying to many places, that I ended up in retail. It was easy for me though. I was good at it, there was always a job opening somewhere, and it was easy money. He just didn't get that I wasn't doing something in my field. He offered to pay for more schooling or see if he could pull strings... but in reality, none of that would matter. I needed to settle, so I did. Am I happy? Of course. Do I still dream of being a professor one day or writing for a paper on the side? Definitely.

This isn't me trying to say that all dreams are unobtainable and we should always settle. I hope I can be proven wrong and by the time my daughter is in college she can have wild and crazy dreams about her future, and not feel as though they are out of reach for her.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


First of all... wow so I am back on this site? Yes. Due to some wackiness happening over at I need to post here. Plus it is such prettier over here, don't ya think?

Anyway, how are you? How has life been? Have you missed me?

Let's get to the good stuff. Why did I stop blogging? Where did I go? Well I never really went anywhere. I just needed a break from some things in life, and sadly my blog took a huge back seat. The person who used to be able to juggle 1000 tasks could no longer do so, and things had get shut down.

What's happened since my last post? A LOT!

That person I was referring to before really wanted to come back. And sadly that could not happen when I worked a job that I absolutely hated 45 hours a week. I hated that job. I clashed with some people. It made me a really ugly person. And I wanted to get back to the simple things. My daughter.

My daughter comes first, always, and the job was keeping me from her. And keeping me from being the best mom I could be. Not saying that a full-time working mom is doing something wrong, but this full-time mom thing was just not for me. I missed seeing her, watching her grow, being there for the special moments, the not so special moments, to cook dinner, clean the house... the list just goes on and on. I could write for hours about the things I missed. I missed being able to clean! You know I am seriously nuts when I miss cleaning!

Other than that I really just missed my husband and I wasn't being a good wife. Things had to change.

And they did!

I quit. I have been home for three weeks and loving it. We haven't done a lot but doing nothing has been such a blessing. I can watch Roseanne again during the day, sit on the floor and fold laundry while eating ice cream, take my daughter anywhere I want, whenever I want. It is just such a relief!

I go back to work at another retail store (a much better one!) tomorrow, but my hours are extremely limited. Again, focus is on my family and myself.

I cannot wait to get back to blogging and being kid centered again. I missed reading blogs and being apart of this mommy world.

Stay tuned and keep me on your list!

I'M BACK!!!!!!