Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday Tips & Tricks - Beach Sand and Baby Powder

I'm the Sand Man!
The past few weekends have been sunny and hot - perfect beach weather wherever you live and plenty more to come over the next few months! We happen to reside less than an hour from the gorgeous Lake Michigan shore and have found a favorite spot at the Saugatuck Dunes State Park. It's a hike from parking to playing in sand and surf, but it is well worth it.

If you have children, you know that any trip to the beach or even a sandbox at the park ends with sand everywhere on (and sometimes in) your child's body! A simple trick to reduce the amount of sand that ends up in car seats or all over your house is with the use of baby powder! 

The sand can be wet or dry, it doesn't matter. Strip them down and sprinkle baby powder over every sandy spot. Rub vigorously, yet gently, and watch the sand fall right off. It's a little trickier with older kids who don't want to bare all with everyone watching, but have them hold a large towel around their shoulders and just reach up underneath. You can even put it in their hair, knowing they'll be getting a shower or a bath later anyway.

Now you can enjoy your day at the beach knowing you'll be taking a little less sand home with you! 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Birthday #7: The Age of Reason

My baby is turning 7 tomorrow, technically tonight, since she was born in Singapore. Some call it the "Age of Reason." It's a beautiful transition out of temperamental early childhood. It's a deep breath before the moods of adolescence strike.

The other day, my 2-year-old boy burst out in tears when I sharply told him "No!" as he attempted to jump on  the ukulele he was playing with. My daughter went over to him and comforted him. She said, "It's OK, buddy. Mommy loves you and she loves that instrument. You have to understand that she doesn't want you to break things. You could get hurt."

When her 5-year-old sister reacted strongly in the negative to the dinner they were served, she said, "I know this is healthy for me, so I'm going to eat it. I think I'm getting more reasonable now that I'm turning seven."

Indeed, she is. I am cherishing this "space between." She still wants me near, to cuddle close, to climb into bed with her and sing her a lullaby each night. I know things will change in a few years. I remember going from loving to hating my own mom; my intention is to have an entirely different relationship with my own daughter. Healthy, loving, open, accepting, yet with firm rules and expectations for behavior.

How have you seen your relationship change with your daughter during this age? What's the best parenting choice you've made with your "tween" daughter or that your own mother made with you?

Oh, how time flies!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer Reunions - A Mom, Her Razor and Shaving Soap

I used to take time and care when shaving. I enjoyed a long, steamy shower to loosen up those follicles, used plenty of shaving soap or cream and a high-quality razor. Before kids, shaving was a calm, stress-relieving activity. Then I had a baby; then another and another. 3 little kids = little time for shaving, but now that the warm weather is here to stay, I need to add it back into my routine.

Men only have faces to shave. We have two legs. Consider the difference in area (as a mathematical term, not the location). We have so much more ground to cover. It takes so much more time, especially around bony ankles and knees.

I've devised a maintenance plan for this shaving season. Twice a week, I’ll shave only above the knees and up to 3x a week, depending on the weather and beach or pool plans, I will shave knees and below! 

I'd so much rather spend an extra 10-minutes in bed sleeping (or at least trying to over the 6am shouts of "Mommy! I want to get out!" from my crib-confined 2-year-old). Yet, we can't run around looking like Mother Bigfoots, can we? 

So, how do you fit in shaving and what’s your product preference? 

Monday, May 14, 2012

When Raising Bi-Lingual Children Goes Wrong - A Laugh for Your Monday

My children speak French (Papa's native language) and English (mine). My two-year-old son speaks a combination of both within any given sentence. Fortunately, I can understand nearly everything he says, regardless of which language he's speaking, even when it's all mixed up, such as, "Mama, I want to eat flocons d'avoine (oatmeal)."

The clarity of his speech is that of a typical two-year-old. Sometimes he is very easy to understand and other times it requires astute listening and translation to make sense of what he's saying. "Yes, I did," comes out very clearly, whereas, "Ookit! A nunna fie," meaning, "Look it, another fly!" doesn't. He can't quite get the "L" sound in where it's needed.

This weekend we had a huge garage sale, with strangers tromping up and down our driveway while the boy played. The day before, we had walked to and from school, about a mile away, and he ended up with very big blisters on the sides of his toes. In French, the word "blister" is "cloque."

In front of several people, including a friendly, 70-ish, grandma-type, my son loudly called to me, "Mommy!  See my big cloque?!!"

He said it very, very clearly. As usual, sans (without) the "L".

He always makes me laugh!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To My Mom on Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

I've learned that the perfect mother doesn't exist.
We are all just women, in love with our children, trying to do our very best.
You always said, "One day you'll understand."
And you were right.

As my children leave their baby and toddler years behind,
I understand that I have so much learning yet to do.
But if there is one thing I am already certain of, 
it is how glad I am that you are my mom.

Happy Mother's Day.


© Tamara Vellozzo 2012 
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Dream Come True - A Tale of Friendship

Friends stand by each other
I hadn't realized that somewhere along the lines of dreaming of marriage and family, I also dreamed of having a best friend who lived just down the street, whose children were the same age as mine. I imagined us walking to school together, trading stories about our kids and being able to count on each other when one of us needed a hand. I suppose, growing up, I imagined this would be my sister, but as it turns out, it isn't. It is my friend, B, and it is her birthday today.

She is the friend I have always wanted. We live just down the street from one another and our daughters go to school together - we both have two very close in age. 1st graders and Kindergartners who've been in school together since 3-year-old preschool.

When the Michigan weather has favored us, we've walked to or from school together; I've taken her kids before mine were even awake when a trip to the ER was required; she was a savior taking my girls when my boy was born, so I could get a little rest or simply retrieve a bit of my sanity.

And we've had wonderful play-dates together. All the children play, mercifully requiring less and less attention as they get older. We've had coffee play-dates, wine play-dates and sometimes a little of both and even a few sans kids. She listens, she supports, she remembers what we were talking about when our conversation resumes after a 5-minute-long interruption from any given child.

She has been the best friend, a sister to me for the past 4-years and I love her. So, because the tears will cloud my vision and ability to write, I won't go on right now about how among everything we'll be leaving behind when we move, I'll miss her the most.

Happy Birthday, B.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Starting Fresh through Bankruptcy

I used to laugh when I heard the phrase, "affordable bankruptcy," but now I actually get it. No one files bankruptcy for fun; we file because we have a mountain of debt and no foreseeable way to pay it off. At the same time, a good attorney doesn't work for free and filing can actually cost thousands of dollars. Fortunately, in my experience, they also understand that you're broke and in our case, jobless, so they provide generous re-payment schedules. In other instances, some like Cary bankruptcy attorneys provide zero-down options to make it even more achievable. 

There are all sorts of unnerving unknowns in the future. Will anyone rent us a house or an apartment once we have to leave ours? You know that little box you have to tick, or not, on applications that reads, “have you ever filed bankruptcy?” I used to scoff at that, thinking what poor, irresponsible person has to check that box?! Now, I know. It could be anyone. Good or bad, responsible or not, anyone can end up here.

A benefit of bankruptcy:
a smaller bill pile!
Yet, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is relief too. Our bills have been reduced to one car and utilities, we’re protected from lawsuits (thank goodness, because I’m being sued) and we have the ability to start over.

Our lawyer inspired me as we signed document after document a couple of weeks ago. He said that the beautiful thing about the US bankruptcy laws is that it allows for people to take a chance. Entrepreneurs have been given this gift through bankruptcy laws to take risks; if the venture fails, they (we) can take another risk without being punished for failing. We’re not thrown in debtor’s prison for the rest of our lives, or left to repay our former landlord’s or vendors for the next 20 years. No. We can wipe the slate clean and begin again.

And that’s just what we’re going to do. 

I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and was compensated for this post, however, the views and opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Downsizing and A World of Possibilities

There's no better reason to clear clutter than being unemployed and going through bankruptcy! First up, my husband's beloved Mini Cooper. I was down about this on Monday when we returned it to the bank, but he was so positive about it, that his good attitude finally rubbed off on me.

Next weekend is our neighborhood garage sale. We'll be selling as much as we can. Not just to get rid of the myriad toys the kids have outgrown (but still don't want to let go of), but also to make enough money to get us through a little while longer. My goal is to sell at least $1,000 worth of stuff. Yes, "stuff" being the technical term. We have desks, TVs, toys, camping equipment (used once!), clothes, tons of beautiful knick-knacks that we've collected on our travels throughout the world (most before kids). It hurts to sell some of it, but it feels good to lighten our load. It will feel really good if it allows us to feed our family for another month or two.

My husband is still job-seeking. Hundreds of resumes sent out all over the world. Like a favorite song goes, "...but who knows where or when." So, I'm focusing on making a real income with freelance writing, The Mom Press company I'm developing (more later) and proofreading and editing. It may mean less time here on the blog, or maybe more sponsored posts than I'm used to, but it would be a dream (and a goal) come true to support my family writing.

There's another amazing thing about being a writer: writers can write from anywhere. So, when our time is up in this house that we no longer own, but simply reside in, we have the world to choose from. Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the US or the world?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday Tips & Tricks - Steamed Vegetables and Watering Houseplants

Those two phrases, "Steamed Vegetables and Watering Houseplants" may seem like strange mates, but not for me! I hate to waste. It's almost a problem. I scrape every last drop out of containers and jars, save leftovers for  hiding in purees and squeeze out toothpaste until there is no air left in the tube.

Water is the same. Any water left in a glass or cup by my children gets used for the cats or plants. When we steam, or even boil vegetables, I can't stand to see so much water poured down the drain, so instead, I water my plants with the cooled water that remains.

It is an excellent source of nutrients for your plants! It also leaves me feeling less guilty about using more water in one pot of vegetables than some people have access to in a week.

In summation, today's tip is: Use your leftover water from steaming or boiling vegetables to water the plants!

*** If you have a tip or trick related to parenting or the home, I'd love to feature you! Send me a Tweet or an email at adgmommy(at)gmail(dot)com.