Sunday, July 31, 2011

This One Is For The Girls

Some women say they don't understand men at all. Some women think they know everything about the hairier sex and they're willing to tell you exactly what it is that ALL men want. Me? Eh I'm somewhere in the middle. I don't claim to know everything about men, if I did I could probably be a very rich woman. But, I think there are some basic things I've figured out along the way. Men want the same things we want when it comes right down to it. They want to feel loved, respected and appreciated. Making them feel as hot as the latest Hollywood heart throb probably couldn't hurt either.

If you read my post entitled "This One Is For The Guys" then you know I advised guys to surprise their lady with her favorite candy bar or latte or other small treat. Well, you should do the same for them. Next time you're at the grocery store or gas station, grab that package of Oreos or that slurpee that he loves and surprise him with it. Too often the focus gets put on the woman receiving gifts and tokens but guys enjoy them too!

Appreciate what he does for you, even if it's something small. If he grabs a soda for you while he's digging around in the fridge, don't complain that he didn't  pour it in a glass, just be appreciative that he thought of you. Sure, he may have loaded the dishwasher all wrong but at least he tried right? No, he may not fold the laundry the exact same way that you do, but he did it and that means you don't have to.

Listen to him when he tries to talk to you. Women always want guys who will listen to them, but do you listen to him? No, you may not be interested in the topic, but do you really think he's interested in that cheesy romance novel you're telling him all about?

Let him choose the movie or show sometimes. No, it may not have a sappy love story or cute little something or others, but give it a shot. If he can sit through Grey's Anatomy with you, try sitting through Leverage with him. You just might like it. I do.

Don't Mommy him, he is not your child. There's a difference between taking care of someone  and looking out for them (as we women tend to do) and being over bearing and controlling. You don't need to pick out his underwear, he's a big boy and he can choose for himself.  Relax a little, he'll love you for it.

Be sensitive to his feelings. Yes men have them! They just don't always express them to you or drown their sorrows in something chocolate while crying on their friend's shoulder.

I'll give you the same advice I gave the men. The happier you make him, the happier he'll make you. Be nice to him and he'll be nice to you. And if he's not, then you go grab your best girl friend, a box of tissues and something chocolate and discuss whether your relationship is really healthy.

This One is For The Guys

Men always say they don't understand women. Men think women are complicated, dramatic, confusing, the list goes on. And, we can be. Yes, I just admitted it. But, we're not all like that and not all the time. I'm about to give you fellas some advice that will make your lives easier and make your wife/girlfriend/fiance/current fling happy. So, grab a pen, an ipad, something and listen up!

*Note: If you're with a woman who ONLY appreciates expensive dinners, jewelry, yappy little pocket puppies and any and all things fancy and costly, I can't help you. This pizza eating, football watching, big goofy mutt loving woman doesn't understand them either.

Make Her Happy

First, and most importantly, you need to know your girl. Pay attention when she tells you what she likes or dislikes. If she's not very vocal about her preferences, watch her for cues. Is there a color she wears more than others? A particular show or type of show she likes to watch? Does she reach for coffee, tea or soda for a caffeine fix? Does she have candles, lotions, body sprays in a particular scent? What makes her smile? Believe me, this will benefit you in many ways. Yeah, this sounds like common sense but think about it, have you ever been searching for a gift and have no idea what to get her? Ever tried to rent a movie but didn't have a clue which one she would like? Could you stop for take-out and know exactly what to get her? What about her Starbucks order? See? Knowing what she likes comes in handy.

So, now that you think you know what she likes, what can you do with that info that will benefit both of you? Think about it this way, the nicer you are to her, the nicer she should be to you and the happier she is, the happier she'll make you. Before you start seeing dollar signs, let me say that it isn't all about money and how much you spend on her. Sure, you can take her out for a fancy dinner but a reasonable woman (and I say reasonable because well some people just aren't) will appreciate the little things. Surprise her with her favorite candy bar for no reason. If she mentions being tired, pick up her favorite latte. Buy her that new book by her favorite author.

No cash or time to run out? That's ok, there are plenty of other things you can do to make her happy!

  • Make her dinner at home. Even if it's a grilled cheese, she'll appreciate the effort.
  • Give her some time to relax and space for herself. She will especially appreciate this one if you have kids because Moms don't always get 'me time'.
  • Run a bubble bath for her and light a candle or two. Sure, it seems like something out of a chick flick but most women really do like it.
  • Clean something without her asking you to. Yeah I know, not the most fun thing for you but she'll appreciate having one less thing to do. Believe me, there's something sexy about a man who's willing to wash dishes, fold laundry or sweep the floor so his girl doesn't have to.
  • Back rubs are awesome.
  • Let her pick the movie or tv show without complaining. I know, I know this one might be tough. I feel your pain, I don't like the chick flicks a lot of women are crazy about either. But give it a try every now and then.
  • Clean up after yourself. Not that we don't just adore taking care of you, but not having to pick up your dirty q-tips would be wonderful too.

Make Her Feel Good

And I don't just mean physically. Make her feel attractive! Look, it's hard to be a woman. There's a lot of pressure to be thinner, prettier, younger looking, to have perkier assets and less cellulite, and to otherwise mimic this barbie doll image of beauty. Is it realistic? No,but it exists nonetheless which can make it hard for a woman to feel good about herself. Compliment her. Tell her she's beautiful and not just when you're getting frisky. If you're only telling her she's pretty in the bedroom, or when you're trying to get her there, it can make her think you're only saying it to get the goodies.

Make her feel intelligent. Listen when she talks, even if you don't agree with what she's saying. This ties in closely with making her feel like she's being heard. Speaking of being heard, there's this little thing that women like to do sometimes that men often dread. It's called venting. There's a quote that goes something like "Women don't sweat, fart, or burp so we have to b*tch or we'll explode". It's not entirely accurate but it's close on the last part. Sometimes we just need to let out some frustration. That doesn't mean we want or need you to fix it, after all there's not much you can do about that jerk faced twit who keeps making snide remarks about those five pounds of baby weight we haven't lost yet. We just need you to listen.

And when she goes through the trouble of making you dinner, setting up a romantic evening or getting all dolled up for you, show some appreciation. No, that meatloaf might not be just like your mama made it, but compliment her effort anyway.

Other Women

I feel like this one is important enough to deserve its own category. There's nothing that can shred a woman's confidence faster than another woman. Look, we're not stupid, it's human nature to look at other people. But that doesn't mean we want to see your eyes popping out of your head as your jaw hits the floor when that 22 year old lingerie model wannabe saunters by. How would you feel if we went all gaga and started drooling over that Johnny Depp look alike at the next table?

When your lady love tells you that another woman is making a play for you, believe her. Why? Because we ARE women and we know the tricks. Unless your girl is one of those...umm...people who tries to throw down with the 85 year old grandmother for smiling at you when you held the door open for her. In that case...yeah...the word 'run' comes to mind. Seriously, even if you don't think she's right, hear her out. If you thought another guy was making a move, wouldn't you want her to listen to your concerns?

Above all, if you don't listen to another word I've said, make her feel loved and respected. That truly goes a long way.

I know some guys will think this is all too much but it really just comes down to treating her with love and respect. Isn't that how you would like to be treated as well? And if you're a guy who read this and just thought "Well, duh" then good for you!

If the things I've said do not work for you and your female companion doesn't appreciate any of it, refer her to my upcoming post entitled "This One Is For The Girls".

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Fun For Less

We're at the end of July and it's H.O.T! We're all looking for ways to stay cool but that can get expensive for families. Water and amusement parks are a lot of fun and it's true that there are discounts, but they can still be pretty pricey for larger families. For example, King's Dominion's website lists their ticket prices at $58.99 per person over 48 inches and $36.99 for those under 48 inches. For my family of five, assuming they do not charge for the baby, that's a cost of $191.96 before tax. If you purchase the tickets online there's a $10 discount on the $58.99, makng the cost $171.96. Season passes do offer a little discount but you have to factor in how many times you'll actually use it, the cost of gas to get there etc. Like I said, it gets expensive.

So, what can you do to stay cool and not spend a fortune? Below are some fun and inexpensive solutions.

  • Buy a backyard pool. No, not one of those big, expensive ones. Walmart sells a large inflatable pool for $25. No, you can't do laps and canon balls but it's large enough and deep enough to have a cooling soak. And honestly my kids are just as happy in their backyard pool as they are at the water park.
  • If you can't or don't want to buy a pool, look into some sort of fun sprinkler system or a slip and slide type thing. They can be just as fun.
  • Two words: water fight. Get some water balloons, water guns, heck get some cups, buckets, a hose anything that can hold, squirt or otherwise drench a person.
If you don't want to pursue water activities, or prefer to stay indoors there are lots of other things you can do as well.

  • Spread out a blanket and have an indoor picnic.
  • Set up a kids tent or build one and have a camp out in your living room. You can still make hot dogs, smores and other camp favorites too.
  • Game day. Pull out your favorite board games, turn on the Wii, whatever you prefer and play together. Just make sure it's something everyone can enjoy.
  • Do an art project or craft. Michaels has inexpensive craft kits that even young kids can do. For around a dollar you get a wooden figure or picture frame and markers to color it. Or make a photo album or scrapbook of your summer adventures.
  • Make some treats without turning on the oven. You can make fruit kabobs with yogurt dip, fresh veggie kabobs with hummus, homemade popsicles and more.
  • Visit a museum. There are many that are free or low cost. If you're around DC, the Museum of Natural History and the Air and Space museum are a big hit with kids.
  • Chuck E Cheese or similar places. Hear me out on this one because I know a lot of parents are cringing right now. You can sign up to receive coupons via email or you can often find them in the coupon section of the paper. I recently received a coupon for a large cheese pizza and 75 tokens for $25 which isn't bad. Go during the week to avoid the crazy loud crowds on the weekend. Frequent hand washing will take care of any germ fears. And honestly if you relax and play WITH your kids, it can be a lot of fun for parents too.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I love photography. I don't claim to be a proffessional, I just love taking pictures and I've got a decent eye. I love taking pictures of people, places, things, animals, anything that catches my eye. I  love my Nikon D-90. It's my dream camera and I value this thing like a lot of women value diamonds. It's like my fourth child. Ok, not quite but you get my point. When I'm snapping away of course I'm focusing on my subject, but I'm also imagining what the picture will look like once I'm done with it. I'm like a kid at Christmas when I slip a loaded SD card into the computer. I can't wait to click through and see what I've managed to capture. Of course, being a Mom, my three favorite subjects are my kids. My boys are getting to the age where it's hard to get them to pose for me. They would much rather be off playing. <insert sad face here> But my baby, she's my little ham. <insert happy face here> She's perfectly content to smile, coo and pose for Mommy and she even tolerates my wardrobe changes. Well, she tolerates it as long as I don't try to put shoes on her. I know this stage probably won't last long, but I'm loving it while it does. Here are some images I was lucky enough to get today.

She was pretty mad at me for putting shoes on her.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Being a Mommy

I love being a Mommy. There are times when I get frustrated (getting my four year old to stop talking for 2 minutes and eat his dinner) there are times when I get impatient (trying to get my older kids to get dressed so we're not late for an appointment) and there are a lot of times when I get the bejesus scared out of me (when my three year old decided it would be great fun to climb on top of his dresser and leap off). Being a Mommy is not for the faint of heart. But it is the most wonderful experience. Sure, you may have times when you're ready to tear your hair out, scream, cry and break something (like the most annoying toy ever invented) but those big smiles, the sweet cuddles and the happy I love yous make it all worth it.

There are times as a parent when you wish for more freedom. There are times when you desperately pray for just five minutes to yourself, or just a chance to go to the bathroom alone. There are times when you need just 2 minutes of quiet to make a phone call but you don't get it. And trust me, there are many mornings where you hope, wish, and pray for just a little more sleep. Those mornings have also inspired my undying gratitude to whomever was genius enough to make coffee. There are times where you have to jump in the shower and right back out almost before even getting wet. And times where you realize you forgot to brush your hair. Quiet, relaxing dinners and clothes that are free of baby and toddler substances can seem like a distant memory. A trip to the mall without popping into The Children's Place, Build-A-Bear or Auntie Anne's (or some other store that caters to kids or sells tempting treats) forget it! Your spotless carpet, finger print free windows, and neat as a pin house? Kiss them goodbye. Mani pedi times for you are replaced by bathroom soaking bubble baths for your kids. Those killer heels? Useless on the playground. Have you ever burned your tongue on food that was too hot? Once you have kids that won't be a problem, pretty soon you'll forget the feel of a hot meal.

Doesn't sound quite like paradise does it? But the funny thing is, you (mostly) won't care. Sure, there are plenty of things you give up when you become a Mommy, but there are so many other things that you gain. Your once empty arms are now full of a tiny little person who thinks you are the center of the universe. And you are to them. Moms gladly trade spotless shirts for drooly baby cuddles. Moms don't bat an eye at being peed, pooped, puked or snotted on. It may be more difficult to see and enjoy grown up movies, but you'll have the pleasure of seeing the excitement on your child's face as they watch some cartoon character dance across the screen. You can ditch that over priced fitness class that you hate and spend an hour running around the park instead. And let's be honest, parents love having an excuse to check out the latest toys.

But do you want to know the best parts of being a Mommy? First of all, there's knowing that no matter how horrible your day is going, a smile, a hug, a snuggle or an I love you Mommy can make everything better. Then there's watching your child learn and grow up healthy and happy. At the end of the day, that's what all Moms want, a happy, healthy kid.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Thoughts On Recent Events 7-25

Tragedy in Norway

First let me say that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. What happened is horrifying and sickening. It's hard to wrap your mind around. So many people killed and many more suffering, and for what? There's still so much about this that doesn't make sense. However, the suspect was apparently motivated in part by his hatred for Muslims. So, this man who claims to be a Christian, hates Muslims and apparently anyone who allows Muslims to exist and his solution is to plant a bomb, then head to a camp to kill kids. And he thinks Muslims are monsters?  It just doesn't make sense.

NewYork Legalizes Gay Marriage

And good for them. I don't understand why people are so against this. If you don't believe in homosexuality, then don't aquire a same sex partner. But you don't have the right to make that decision for someone else. People say religion forbids it. If you believe your religion forbids it, don't do it. But how does what someone else chooses affect you? You aren't the one who has to answer for their actions, they are. Let them worry about their own souls, you just concentrate on your own.

Chef Gordon Ramsay

It's Monday and while most people are moaning and groaning, in our house Mondays aren't so bad. Why? Because Mondays are Hell's Kitchen nights. That's right, we look forward to Mondays for a tv show. You see, my husband was raised in the restaurant business and it's in his blood. Before having children I enjoyed the business myself, plus I like to cook. And well, we love Chef Ramsay. Sure he yells a lot, curses frequently and he's a bit cocky. But he knows his stuff and he's passionate about it. Also, I have to admire his ability to tell it like it is. He doesn't sugar coat anything and the phrases he comes up with can be quite amusing.

Of course there's also the drama of and from the contestants. You can raise your eyebrows at the two who jump into bed together almost immediately after meeting, cringe at one guy's irritating resemblance to K-Fed, place your bets on how long the arrogant ones will last before Chef Ramsay bursts their cocky little bubbles and you can cheer when the under dog kicks everyone's butts. And let's be honest, seeing what dishes the contestants come up with on their own can be both amusing and nauseating. Yeah, we're hooked.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


There's a lot of talk about the death of Amy Winehouse. Some people say it's a tragedy and others have no sympathy. Personally, I think it is vey sad. Yes, she was a drug addict, an alcoholic and God knows what other problems she had. But, I do believe addiction is an illness just like any other. Furthermore, it's easy for the public to sit back and pass judgement, but the truth is we don't know exactly what was going on in her life. We don't know what demons plagued her. Whateve your feelings on drug use and addiction, hers was a life cut too short. RIP Amy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Dream Of A Self-Cleaning House

Seriously. Or at least some completely awesome robot who can handle it all. There are Moms who manage to keep their houses spotless and sparkling. I'm not one of them. I don't know how they do it. In my house there are three children under the age of 5, a husband and a dog. My struggles are first of all finding the time in between cooking, changing diapers, nursing, breaking up fights etc to get something done. Usually I'll start something, and as soon as I start to make a dent, the baby cries, the dog needs to go out, my older kids turn my living room into a war zone complete with battle wounds, my husband yells "Hey, come here! Quick!" or a million other things.

When I do manage to get something cleaned, five minutes later it needs to be done again. I clean the bathroom, then someone who is still learning and doesn't always have the best aim uses it and it's dirty again. I mop the floor, and it never fails, someone spills something on it. Just when I think I'm getting caught up on laundry, I turn around and there's another load. As soon as I wash the dishes, someone wants to eat something. It's a never ending battle and it can get overwhelming.

Sometimes I stress about it, but I really try not to. If I were perfectly honest, sure I could do a better job. But that would mean letting the baby cry in her pack and play, missing out on cuddles and play time with my boys, missing out on time with my husband, and pretty much never getting any rest. Sorry, but I can't do that. I've come to the realization that I am not Superwoman and never will be. My house will never pass a white glove inspection, at least not while my kids are this young. And you know what? That's ok with me.

I want my kids to feel like they can play in their own home. I don't want them to grow up feeling like they live in a museum. I want them to enjoy their toys instead of being afraid to pull any out. I don't want them to have a mother who goes crazy at the sight of the tiniest crumb or smudge. I want to be the kind of mother who can let the laundry sit for a bit so I can go play cars with my boys. I want my kids to look back at their childhood and remember a Mom who took the time to have fun with them instead of chaining herself to a vacuum and a can of furniture polish. Let's be honest, kids don't care if there are spots on the mirror. They care about having a Mom who spends time with them.

Straying From The Mainstream Path

In the US, there seems to be a set of  'rules' that a parent must follow. These 'rules' include but are not limited to:
  • Do not co-sleep.
  • Do not breast feed baby in public where, God forbid, someone might see you!
  • When beginning solids you must start with bland rice cereal, followed by pureed bland veggies, followed by pureed bland fruits. No spices.
  • Let baby cry it out.
  • Sterilize EVERYTHING
  • Don't let baby touch anything that is not specifically approved by some high ranking authority.
There are tons more, but you get the picture. This is the common practice in the US these days and if you don't follow these 'rules' to the letter, then there's someone who will quickly point out what a horrible parent you are. And to those people I say...ahem...Pfffffffft.

That's right. I'm a Rebel Mom. I co-sleep, I breast feed anywhere and everywhere, I practice baby led solids, I don't let my baby cry it out, the thought of sterilizing everything makes me laugh and I encourage my children to explore and touch different things. Oh, and I baby wear. Why do I do these things you might wonder. Well, it's simple really. I do these things because this is what works for us.

When my oldest son was born, weighing a whopping 10 1/2 lbs, we started out placing him in his bassinet. And he liked it. He was a great sleeper and wanted his own space so he got it. We did keep him in our room though. When my second son was born, oh my goodness this child could not have been more different! From the very first day he refused to sleep on his own. And when I say very first day, I literally mean the very first day. He would scream his little head off anytime he wasn't attached to me. I'd put him to sleep, and as gently as possible lay him down. As soon as I broke contact, he would scream. You see, my son is what's called High Needs. The only way he was happy and would sleep is if he was with me. So we began co-sleeping. Oh you can imagine the things I heard."Don't start that stuff, you'll never get him out of your bed."  "That is so dangerous." But, it worked for us, and contrary to what many people believed, he was in his own bed at 16 months old. When my daughter was born, I once again attempted to putting her to bed in a bassinet. Nuh uh. She was having no part of that. So, we began co-sleeping again. You can easily find studies that claim co-sleeping is dangerous, but I can find just as many that say it isn't and in fact reduces the risk of SIDS. The truth is you can find a study to support pretty much any claim.

Breast feeding in public is unfortunately often viewed as wrong or scandalous. Why? Boobs are made to feed babies, that is their purpose. I'll admit this is the fourth time I've started this paragraph. This is a topic that I feel very strongly about and I could, and will, make an entire post dedicated to it. For the purpose of this post and in the interest of keeping this below novel length I'll just say the following. I nurse where ever and whenever my baby needs to eat. I will not force my infant to wait or confine us to some smelly bathroom. My baby is not going to suffer because someone can't handle a breast being used for its intended purpose.

When it comes to solid foods, I admit I followed the 'rules' with my first baby. I didn't know any better. ;-)  And he didn't object. Today, he's an extremely picky kid. My second baby was started on rice cereal at 3 1/2 months by his doctor in an attempt to help his reflux. He hated the stuff. He wasn't on it long before we switched to oatmeal. He wasn't a big fan of that either. We began giving him some pureed fruit and veggies and he wasn't loving that either. We made it about halfway through the second foods stage before we chucked the bland purees. He was much happier eating table food with actual flavor. Now, this kid eats everything. His favorite foods include mussels, spinach, goat cheese, beans and jalapeno Cheetos. Now, with baby number three, we skipped rice cereal entirely and tried oatmeal. She didn't like it. We tried purees and although there were a few fruits she would tolerate, like mango, she rejected those as well. But she loved our food. At 7 1/2 months she eats what we eat and the more flavor the better. Oddly enough the only things she doesn't like are bananas and watermelon.

I do not believe in letting baby cry it out. Honestly, when I hear of a parent letting their very young infant just lay there and cry, it breaks my heart. Babies cry because they need something, even if what they need is just to be held. Babies need attention, a lot of attention, that's just how it is.

The idea that you should, or can, create a pristine world for baby is just ridiculous to me. The world is not a pristine place. Now, I'm not saying you should grab that binkie from the mud puddle and stick it back in baby's mouth, but I don't believe in putting them in a bubble either.

Babies need to explore, it's how they learn. Sitting baby down on a clean patch of grass or letting them play in the sand at the beach is not going to hurt them. They need to do things like this. Handing baby a clean plastic spoon and letting them bang away on their high chair is great fun for them. Sure, baby toys can be great, but would you want to play with the same thing all day every day?

The way the US raises babies is so different from other countries. Nobody in Paris objected to me nursing my 18 month old. No one in Egypt batted an eye. The truth is breast feeding, even over the age of one, co-sleeping and feeding baby from the table are the norm in other countries. Quite frankly, many people from other countries find the US's practices strange. Apparently, so do I. But, the bottom line is that you have to do what feels right to you and what keeps your baby happy, healthy and safe.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Missing Egypt

Lately I've been missing Egypt and my family there. It's been on my mind a lot so what better time to write about it? I am not from Egypt, but my husband is. I remember studying Egypt way back in 6th grade. As I sat in Mrs. Machado's class learning about the pyramids, I never imagined I would actually see them in person. But I have. Egypt is not what I expected in a lot of ways. I don't know why but I didn't expect it to be so busy. I didn't really expect there to be a city literally steps away from the Giza pyramids. I always thought they were more remote. And the traffic, well I certainly didn't expect it to beat out New York City in craziness.

As I said my husband is Egyptian and the majority of his family is still there. My first trip to Egypt also meant my first meeting with most of my in-laws. That's a scary enough experience, but add in a foreign country and a language barrier and things can get pretty awkward. We stayed with my husband's mother and she is a very nice woman. We just weren't sure what to expect from each other and communicating was difficult. I speak a little Arabic, although I am able to understand more than I can actually say, and my mother-in-law speaks a little English. We got by, but there weren't any in-depth conversations. My brothers-in-law are two of the nicest, most awesome guys ever. Growing up I always wanted a brother or two (I got stuck with a younger sister) and they quickly filled the role. My husband has a very large family so I won't go into detail on them all, but I will say his Aunt is awesome, so much fun and his cousin Reham is quite possibly the sweetest girl I have ever met. I love them all.

When we left the Cairo airport, I was glued to the window. I couldn't believe I was actually in Egypt. It seemed like a dream. But, getting into an accident 5 minutes from the airport is a nice reality check. Don't worry, it was just a fender bender but it was my first experience with the insane driving in Cairo. Let me put it this way, traffic laws do exist. People just choose not to follow them for the most part and they aren't really enforced. Crossing a street can mean literally risking your life. I would never even attempt to drive in Cairo, and I admire anyone brave enough to do so.

Egypt is a blend of the modern and the more old fashioned and primitive. It's not a wealthy country and many people struggle to get by. A large number of Egyptians live below the international poverty line. This is one issue that sparked the recent protests and overthrowing of Mubarak. But, Egyptians are proud of what they do have and they value it. It's completely different than the self entitled attitude that's so prevalent in the states. Egyptians in general are very hard working and yet easygoing. In the states it's far too common to encounter rude, snippy and unhappy workers. It wasn't like this in Egypt. I don't mean that everything was all rainbows and sunshine because that's not realistic. But I will say that every single person I interacted with was very nice, very friendly and polite. It's a refreshing change to have a waiter who smiles and doesn't treat your kids as a nuisance or a sales woman who is genuinely happy to help you. Which brings me to another point. Egyptians in general are very nice people. They're nice to each other and they were nice to this outsider. The only dirty looks I was aware of were from a few other girls trying to figure out which brother I was married to lol. It was quite funny to see them look at me, look at my children, then look at my husband and his brothers and try to determine which one had married the white chick.

There's a charm to Egypt that is really hard to explain unless you've been there. There's not really one thing that you can point to and say that's what it is that draws you in. It's a combination of things. It's waking up to the Adhan (call to prayer) in the mornings, the greeting of a stranger as you pass on the streets, the Egyptian child who smiles shyly at the foreigner, the history, the life and movement of the streets, the colors in the market and so much more. I may not be from Egypt, but it has claimed a permanent piece of my heart.

Friday Flapjacks and Fun

Friday is an exciting day for a lot of people. But its excitement factor often gets lost on young kids. So, I've instituted Friday Flapjacks and Fun at my house. What that means is I make pancakes (aka flapjacks) for my kiddos, which they're thrilled about, then when breakfast is cleaned up and the baby has had her nap, we have some fun. Last week, this meant a trip to the National Zoo. My kids love going and eagerly look for their favorite animals. Currently that includes monkeys, elephants and the big cats.

This week, with temperatures hovering somewhere around the third level of hell, it's too darn hot for outdoor adventures. But that's ok because there are lots of things we can do indoors and we've got a whole day of fun planned. First on the agenda is Play Doh where I will attempt to keep my boys from mixing the colors. I'm thinking we'll follow this up with some cookie making and crazy dancing around the house while the cookies are baking. Gotta burn off some calories to make room for those cookies right? Once the cookies are done, I'm thinking a snack followed by a camp out in the living room, complete with tent, for nap time. The afternoon's activities are yet to be determined. Maybe I'll let my little artists finger paint. Or we could break out the leggos. Maybe we'll play pirates and zombies or just cuddle up and read. I'll let the kids choose. Either way I'm looking forward to spending some fun quality time with my offspring. Oh, and there's no worrying about housework allowed. It'll still be there tomorrow. :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Baby K'tan

I'm the mother of three. I've tried lots of slings and carriers and always struggled to find just the right one. Some were rough with hard plastic pieces that just weren't comfortable for either me or baby. Some were just too bulky and ill fitting. When I got pregnant with my third baby, I was determined to find a carrier that baby and I both loved. I asked around and heard good things about Moby wraps but I was worried about them being a bit complicated. With 3 kids, I need something I can slip baby and I into quickly while standing in a parking lot. Several people love their ring slings, but based on my own experience, they don't fit everyone. Finally, one day while at Chik FIl A I noticed a Mom wearing this really comfortable and versatile looking carrier. Her infant was snuggled in and snoozing away. They made a very sweet picture. Anyhow, I studied the carrier for a minute then worked up the courage to ask her about it. She told me it was a Baby K'tan and said she loved it. She named a price that was very reasonable and even gave me a discount code (Yay!) for the website.

When I logged on to the site, I was thrilled to see a great selection of products and videos on how to properly use the carriers. After watching the videos and reading the reviews I decided to order one. The sizing info was very helpful and accurate. I had some trouble at checkout with the discount code and had to call support. The guy on the phone couldn't have been nicer and more helpful. He helped me get it straightened out and in a few days I had my Baby K'tan. I admit, I tried it on as soon as I got it. At the time I was heavily pregnant so of course it didn' fit quite right but the material was very soft, and it was easy to slip on.

My daughter weighed 8 1/2 pounds at birth and well, to be frank, I'm a busty girl. So, I was worried about the carrier being too snug to carry her in the kangaroo position. But, from the first time I put my daughter in the Baby K'tan, we both loved it. She felt very secure because she was close to Mommy. I felt very secure with the way the carrier held her close to me. I didn't feel like she was going to fall out of it. With other carriers I often still felt the need to clutch baby to keep him/her from falling because I just didn't feel confident in the carrier. What's the point of a baby carrier if you still feel the need to have both arms wrapped around them at all times? I didn't feel like that with this carrier. I was able to wear my daughter and still be able to do other things, like hold my sons' hands, get them a snack, grocery shop or even eat.  Putting her in the Baby K'tan worked like a charm to calm her down as well.

So, the Baby K'tan worked great for a newborn. But what about as baby got older? Well, my daughter is now 7 months and we still love the carrier. There are several different positions in which you can wear baby and we've tried most of them. I love being able to have her secured to me while getting other things done as well. She loves that she gets to be with Mommy while she checks out the world. The carrier still holds her comfortably and securely. The weight limit on a Baby K'tan is 35 lbs so we'll be using it for a long time to come.

Additional advantages to the Baby K'tan are that it's pretty compact. You can fold it up and it easily fits into a diaper bag. It's also completely washable. You can just toss it into the machine, which, as any mom knows, is awesome. It's made completely of soft fabric so there are no hard pieces to potentially hurt you or baby. Honestly, I wish I would have had this with my first two babies.

*This may sound like an ad for Baby K'tan, but this is 100% my own thoughts. I am not a paid rep for Baby K'tan.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Struggle of My Son

My three year old underwent an EEG today. It's a simple enough procedure and it doesn't hurt a bit. At least, it didn't hurt him. I'm another story altogether. Any parent who has ever watched as their child undergoes any kind of procedure knows the pain I'm referring to. It's that little wrench in your heart that can bring tears to your eyes. We'll have the results in a few days.

As for why he needed the EEG, that's kind of a long story. My son  has these episodes where he just screams, moans, cries and often thrashes and kicks. The first thing everyone says is "temper tantrum". But it's not. This is not the 'I want that toy/cookie/movie and I don't want to be told no' normal tantrum of a preschooler and believe me, I'm well acquainted with those. When these episodes happen it's like he's not there mentally. In other words, he's out of it. He doesn't respond when I speak to him, it's as if he doesn't hear me at all.  If I'm holding him or I try to during these episodes, he doesn't acknowledge it, it's as if he's unaware. And then, suddenly it stops. And he's left looking baffled and upset. He has no idea what just happened to him. If you ask him about it, he doesn't know what you're talking about. And sometimes, he simply stops screaming and is asleep. And for anyone who thinks it still sounds like a normal tantrum, I took videos and those videos had his pediatrician sending him to a Neurologist, and the Neurologist sending him for the EEG. They think it could be seizures. The Neurologist is also concerned about his hearing and referred him to an audiologist.

My son is high needs. What that means, at least in his case, is that literally from the day he was born he wanted to be with me. He would not, no way, no how, doesn't matter what you try, sleep by himself. So, we co-slept. When he slept. He's a poor sleeper. At three years old he still doesn't sleep through the night consistently. On average three nights a week he gets up. Sometimes, more.  He doesn't fall asleep easily, every nap time, every bed time is a struggle. As an infant he literally had to be in my arms at all times. If he wasn't, he would scream himself hoarse until he gagged and gasped for air. He would not, could not calm down until he was in my arms. Even now, he doesn't venture far from me. He gets upset easily. Things have to be just so, a certain way, or he melts down.

He has asthma, and he's very allergic to cats. He's also sensitive to red dye. It makes him so hyper and out of control it's ridiculous. I know there's conflicting research about dyes. Some studies and people say they're fine and cause no harm. And other studies and other people stop just short of labeling them as the root of all evil. All I know is I didn't really think much about them until my son's issues. I mentioned his behavior in a group on CafeMom and several moms mentioned trying to eliminate red dye. I thought it couldn't hurt, so I did. It was like I had a different child. Everyone commented on how much calmer he was. When he does get some red dye by accident, the reaction is immediate. He doesn't speak well either, which is one reason the neurologist is sending him to the audiologist. He had severe jaundice as a baby and the most common side effect is hearing loss. When the neurologist attempted to test his hearing, my son didn't respond.

So, as you can see life has not been easy for him. My poor guy has had it heaped on him. And yet he's still the sweetest, most affectionate kid. He loves airplanes, Egypt, mussels, Phineas and Ferb, cupcakes and cuddling. His eyes light up at the suggestion of popcorn and a movie. He loves to help me bake. And his episodes break my heart. There's nothing I can do for him and it kills me. The confusion in his eyes brings tears to mine. So, I am anxiously awaiting the results of his EEG. If it's seizures, then we'll know what we can do. And if the EEG is clear, our next step is a counselor. One way or another we're going to figure this out.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

From The Garden

This is the second year we've planted a backyard garden.  There are several reasons we do this. First, growing your own produce can save money.  It's much cheaper to spend a couple of bucks on a packet of seeds or a pre started plant and grow your own than it is to buy from the grocery store. Second,  the produce is obviously fresher and tastes much better. And third,  it's actually fun and rewarding to plant things yourself and watch them grow.

My kids are young but they get so excited at garden time. They're allowed to choose one thing that's 'theirs' and they get a say in whatever else we plant. After all, they're going to be eating it. My oldest child chose blueberry bushes this year while my middle child picked a peck of pickled peppers. Ok, they're not pickled,  but he did choose peppers.  They also picked out peas, due in large part to the seed packet having a favorite character on the front. They also get to help plant but of course their favorite part is the harvesting.

We also planted zucchini, cucumbers, various tomatoes, canteloupe, yellow squash, mint and a few strawberries. Our zucchini and cucumbers are thriving. The tomato vines are heavy with fruit and our canteloupes are looking gorgeous. The blueberries did well and the peppers are a success.  Unfortunately, the rabbits got our strawberries,  bugs got the yellow squash and only one pea actually sprouted. So, it's hit or miss sometimes.  But the thriving plants more than make up for the loss of the others.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Introducing My Blog

If you enjoy a blog that focuses on just one subject, run. Run now and run fast because this is not that blog. I'm a woman of many interests, thoughts and opinions. My blog will reflect that. I will discuss whatever happens to be on my mind, maybe it's big news, maybe it's a review of a book or movie. I will also include some favorite recipes. I'm also into photography so be prepared to see lots of my photos. I'll probably discuss Egypt quite a bit too. And plenty of other things.  So welcome to Sugar and Snapshots, the anything goes blog.

Introducing Me

Everyone is always curious about the person behind the words. Who is that clever being who amazes you with that sharp wit? Well... allow me to introduce myself. I'm Michelle and I'll be your blogger for the duration of the Sugar and Snapshots blogarama. Now, what do you need to know about me... I'm a chick. I'm between the ages of old enough to order a drink if I so chose and 30. I'm the co-sleeping, baby wearing, breast feeding mother of 3. I like football (Cowboys fan), music (so many types and artists that my Pandora suspects I'm schizo) the colors blue and purple, coffee, daisies, badminton, House, Cinnamon Chex, the beach, Walter, Peanut and Achmed (Jeff Dunham fans will get this) J.D. Robb books, my Nikon and Ellen. Among other things. I dislike nosey neighbors, the cold, that hard white piece in a tomato, traffic, celery, Barney, hangnails, smashing my toes into things and reaching the bottom of the Nutella jar. Among other things. And I'm a little bit opinionated.