Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BOGO sale ending!

Just a reminder, if anyone wants to take advantage of the Buy One, Get One 1/2 off sale for Uppercase Living, you only have a couple days. The sale, I believe, ends officially on Friday.

Please email me at the address found on MY UPPERCASE LIVING WEBSITE, not at the hotmail account connected to this blog. Let me know if you have any questions, and please note: there is not a way to order directly through the website, you have to email me your order and I place it for you. Thanks!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Trial Run--LOTS of pics

If you follow this blog you know I'm a little obsessed with getting pictures of my kids, particularly on special occasions. Well, Easter is coming up, and it is such a wonderful day, but usually quite busy. We don't even get to go to church together, b/c I'm always singing and have to go early. So, I decided that instead of risking a rainy day, cranky kids, chocolate stains and missed photo ops, I would dress them up and snap away a few weeks early. I realize this ruins any post-Easter post, but I don't think you really care. Since it will be Sydney's first Easter, it was important to me. In fact, I started with just her b/c Carson wouldn't get dressed up. Then he wanted to sit on the blanket with her in his t-shirt and sweats, and I said NO. He could only sit with her if he got dressed up. As you can see...I won! Although I'm obsessed with getting a "good" picture, I've long ago given up the hope of having both kids looking at the camera and smiling. So now I have learned to settle for a succession of real-life candids that make me smile just as much.

As you can tell from my new blog banner, this is my favorite! I don't even remember what he is saying to her, but it was emphatic, no?

...boo!"I'm seriously considering photoshopping a "good head" of Sydney from one of the other pictures and attaching it to her body in this one, since Carson's smile is real and genuine. You guys won't tell, will you?
Everyone together now...."Awwwww!"
Pretty girl!
My handsome man!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The beginning of the end...

Today Sydney's nap schedule was a little off from Carson's, so she woke up way before he did. I really needed to finish working on dinner for this evening, so I set her in the high chair and handed over...her very first graham cracker. Aaah! She loved it, and I loved that it kept her happy. I think every mom of young kiddos can understand the need to throw food at your kid to keep 'em busy so you can get something done. I know we all try not to make it a habit, but if you don't use this technique occasionally...you should stop reading this blog. I don't think we can be friends. Graham crackers are my FRIEND!

As you can see, graham crackers are also Sydney's friend.
And I had to dig out this comparison pic of Carson eating when he was a couple months older than Syd is now. (Sidebar...we registered for our baby gear in such a hurry...I didn't want to seem greedy, so we chose a middle-of-the-line priced high chair. Not realizing I would come to detest the pattern that is now in SO many pictures. I know. It's trivial. But I had to share.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

No buyers remorse here

Don't you love it when you feel like you made a good purchase? You may remember last June when I was WAY preggo, we decided to invest in a swingset for our backyard. It's not a very expensive one, but it has what we needed. Last summer it was a lifesaver, as we were pretty housebound with a newborn. I'm pleased to report that not only does Carson still play on it, but now Sydney is thoroughly enjoying her new addition. Now, if we could get more than 1 day of sunshine at a time, we'd really be getting our money's worth! He does know how to sit on the swing like a normal person, but this is his current game.

This is the Diva look. And here's a vid for those who don't get motion sick. Even with this poor quality vid, you can hear her squeals as big bro pushes her--and not always so smoothly.

Photographic Evidence

Sometimes I DO make my bed.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

From the Department of DUH:

So, get ready to shine my Mother of the Year trophy.

We went on a mini-vacay, just me and the kids, to a friends beach house for a day and a half. On the long drive home, I let Carson have one McD's cheeseburger (no fries). Then I let him have one red vine. Then I thought it was only fair to let him have a small chocolate milk since I was getting a mocha. I mean, I had forgotten his sippy cup, so he had no drink.

Are you surprised that all that junk food, especially the chocolate milk chaser resulted in him puking all over himself somewhere between Newport and Corvallis? I shouldn't have been.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

THIS is a cool hat.

Last summer I was hanging out with my hubby & some of his colleagues. One coworker "tattled" on another, saying they had seen SoandSo riding a bike....WITHOUT A HELMET! Oh my word, by the shameful gasps that went up in that place and the accusatory looks, you would have thought SoandSo was caught swigging vodka before performing open-heart surgery. I was a bit amused and caught off-guard by their--very sincere--shock and stern reprimands. But then I realized: they are physical & occupational therapists whose patient load includes a lot of brain injury patients. Many of them (patients, not therapists!) are severely mentally and physically disabled because of an accident. Although they see some patients who are the victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they also care for some people whose injuries could have been prevented. With a helmet.

The story about Natasha Richardson just broke my heart. She is only 45 years old and has 2 sons, ages 13 & 12, who will now start the devastating process of learning to live life without their mom. She died of a traumatic brain injury sustained during a skiing accident that took place on a beginner's trail under the supervision of a ski instructor. Sounds like a pretty safe environment, but she wasn't wearing a helmet. (Trent pointed out that we don't know for sure that a helmet would have saved her life, but it could have only helped.)

In the past few years, aforementioned hubby has made me a firm believer in The Helmet. This is much to the delight of my safety-crazy mother, who I think would have helmeted us 24-7 from the age of 6 if she had her way. So, here's an appeal from a helmet-convert...go buy one of these really cool hats if you are going to sled, ski, board or bike. (And I promise this post was prompted by the Natasha Richardson story, not the fact that 6 people I love very much are going skiing on Friday. But, you know...)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Last sales pitch...

Tuesday update:
OK, this will be the last post dedicated to this, I promise! Or no one will check my blog ever again. Just a couple things: someone reminded me to tell you that these do not have to go directly on walls. They also work well on frames, wood MDF boards, etc. In fact, THIS is by far the most popular item in the catalog, because you can change the expressions often and you don't have to put them on your wall.
And as promised, here is one more discount offer, in addition to the BOGO, which lasts through March. The first person to email me the answer to this question will get $10 off their order. Email it to the address found on my website.
In the ONLINE CATALOG, what is the very last expression under the Boy Bedroom category?
And here is yesterday's post for those who missed it:
One of my business experiments has been selling Uppercase Living designs. I am so crazy about this stuff, I think I'm pretty much using all my profits to just buy more for our house. It's a bit of an addiction, I'm afraid. These are 2 of my favorites in the kids' rooms. The daisy one is the design that got me completely hooked.These are vinyl designs (kind of like stickers!) that you rub onto your wall to totally change the look of a room. You can also put them on wood, glass, plastic, fabric, canvas...anything fairly smooth. They don't damage the wall in anyway, and can be removed at anytime. (But not reused.)
I had mentioned that since all my blog friends and readers can't all be together in my living room, I was going to have a "blog party" and invite anyone who is interested to place an order. Even if you live far away, I'd be glad to mail you your order. Just check out the online catalog and email me. If you live near me, I could also get you a hard copy catalog.The blog party plan kind of went by the wayside, but then I found out that there is a pretty good sale going on right now, and I figured this was as good a time as any!
For the month of March, buy any UL item and get a second one 1/2 off. Since I found out about these products last year, I've never seen any kind of discount other than for hostesses, so this is rare. It applies to anything in the catalog, and it is unlimited. (Do I need to say it's 1/2 off an item of equal or lesser value? Hope not.)

So, if you are at all interested, take a look at the catalog and my web page. Email me with questions and I can give you more details.

As with this picture below, you can also go online & design your own expression, choosing the font color and size, and see what it's going to look like with your wall color.

This sale and these products are open to ANYONE who stumbles on this blog, even if you are a silent reader and would never dream of commenting. Just send me a private email and you don't have to write publicly :) My information is on MY WEBSITE.
Check it out!

Friday, March 13, 2009


I think yes. And some to spare. Thanks to the Sweet Pumpkins for the Costco cart picture idea.
And your Carsonism for the day:
Today we were driving around town and saw a couple walking on the sidewalk.
Carson: Are those humans our neighbors?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pride cometh before a dirty tissue

We've all had a touch of a cold lately. I've been pretty proud of Carson for getting his own tissue...sometimes I remind him, but the independence of getting it himself has been nice. The snot is often smeared across the face rather than removed from the nostril, but...WHATEVER. Baby steps.

Then this conversation last night:

Mommy: Carson, I'm proud of you for getting your own tissue!
Daddy: Yes, and Carson, tell Mommy what you do with the tissue when you are done.
[I'm fully expecting him to say he throws it in the garbage, and I will continue to bask in my amazing parenting.]
Carson [without missing a beat]: I put it back in the box.

Then, Trent reaches over to the Kleenex box, pulls out about 3 snotty tissues and shows them to me.

Me: [sigh]

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bath Baby

Can you tell Sydney's going through a bit of a tongue phase?!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Dr. Suess meets A.A. Milne

Tonight we saw a preview on a DVD for the Tigger movie. When the even more well-known character--you know, the one who likes "Hunny"--showed up, Carson said:

"Mom! Look! It's Winnie the Who!"

Friday, March 06, 2009

Anatomy of My Perfect Dish Brush

My friend Amy posted recently that when she thinks back to this time of her life, raising 3 small kids, a memory that will take dominance is laundry. She said she feels like the laundry practically haunts her, that no matter what she's doing or where she's going, there's a basket of clothes that need to be sorted, carried, loaded, changed, emptied or folded. (And she told a pretty funny story about that, but it's her story, so check her blog.)
For me, the domestic necessity that rules my days is the dishes. We have only two adults, one 3 year old and one baby who just eats pureed foods. It seems we dirty enough dishes for Jon and Kate. I walk through the kitchen dozens of times a day, and there is always something that needs to be rinsed, loaded, washed, scrubbed, soaked, dried, unloaded or put away. I think there is an indentation on the floor in front of the sink where my feet have carved a nook, because I stand there so much.
Now, I am NOT a neatfreak. By any means. I sometimes wish I was because I get disgusted at myself for what I tolerate for days at a time. But not dishes. Those I'm particular about. Because of the frequency of this task, I have found a few quirks in my preferences that help me get the job done more quickly or more efficiently. (Sidebar--Trent rarely does any dishes. At all. I'm lucky if his dishes make it in the sink, let alone rinsed or in the dishwasher. HOWEVER, I don't complain because a)he does about 85% of our entire family's laundry and b)when he does help I get irritated that he's not doing it the way I want, so he can't win.)
One of my quirks is that I have a very specific way I want the dishwasher loaded. Doesn't everyone? Especially the silverware. I load spoons and forks first, because I have to separate the spoons so they are not, well, spooning each other. Then neither spoon gets properly clean. I use the forks and then the knives to separate those sneaky spoons. Another quirk is that I only like to have a small container of dish soap (Purple Dawn is my favorite) on the counter, not a big bottle. Too clumsy and messy.
But my biggest quirk is that I LOVE dish brushes. I buy a new dish brush at least every other month, usually once a month. I've tried different brands, sizes and styles, but I think I've found a winner. I accidentally through away the tag, but I get it at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $3.50.
You see, the brush has to have a decently long handle. Duh.
It also has to have strong bristles, but not so harsh that they will scratch anything.
But bristles in a round shape don't help when I'm working on the inside corner of a bread pan or casserole dish. The bristles have to come up above the top of the brush in a sort of point to help with those corners.
Last, but NOT least, the brush needs to have a firm little edge, or a lip, on the top, so that you can turn it over and scrape stubborn pieces of food that are stuck on. For instance, if "someone" made a hot pocket and didn't rinse the plate, and I was washing it a day later and the melted cheese had petrified onto the glass. In that instance, the scraping edge would be ideal.
So, now you are educated in the Brazenlilly school of shopping for a dish brush. Happy scrubbing.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wow! I didn't anticipate all the comments from my last post about my adventure in parenting with Mr. Carson the other day. I SO appreciate all the support and understanding and insights! I love what Eric said about raising MY child, not the onlookers. I do want to be clear that I didn't mean for it to be a dividing post about pro-spank or anti-spank. I meant it to be a unifying post about the challenges of raising these precious rugrats! Rheada's (Nabz) comment and also Rory's post today remind me that it can be pretty isolating sometimes being a mom--stay-at-home or working. It also reminded me of what a strange and neat thing these blog communities are. A tech-challenged mom the other day admitted she has no idea what a blog is, has never been on one, and can't figure out the allure. She said "I don't understand WHY you have one?" I thought for a second, and then I admitted that I blog for myself mostly. I process things, good and bad, through writing and pictures. I like to relive the good stuff and get closure on the hard stuff. I love feeling connected to my friends and extended family that I don't see very often by sharing the day-to-day minutiae of our family. Was I hoping for a few supportive comments? Heck, yeah! And you guys didn't disappoint! I know I enjoy reading stories from other parents about their ridiculously crazy parenting moments a heartwrenchingly poignant moments, so I want to share mine. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a support group to raise a parent!

But after sharing that ugly moment, I want to say that Mr. Naughty that was in Safeway is NOT who my son truly is. I think that's part of why he melted so easily after discipline. He doesn't like being that angry, tense person anymore than I like dealing with him! (Also, side comment, I'm pretty sure he has no idea of the cultural connotations of spitting at someone. I think it was just part of his whole body fighting against me and blowing a wet raspberry in my face was just one weapon in his arsenal. Still--it was the straw that broke the camel's back!) So, I thought I would share something positive about C-dog.

We have had a HUGE victory in the past few days here. Since he was an infant, Carson has never woken up quietly. If he was awake, the whole house was to wake up and entertain him. I have friends who would tell me their child would play or read quietly in their crib for several minutes until parents retrieved them. That NEVER happened for us. And we fed the monster by responding to his yells and cries pretty promptly. Well, in the last 6 months, we've been trying to retrain him that if he wakes up too early, he needs to try to stay in his room quietly until it's time to get up. But that is hard to enforce. When is it an appropriate time to get up? How does he know when it's time? How does he know if he's allowed to come out or not? He can't tell time, and the light outside changes as the seasons do.

SO. I cut out two big (about 2 inches long) arrows out of construction paper and put double-sided tape on the back. I taped the biggest one to the 12 on his clock, and the smaller one to the 7. We told him that he can come out of his room when the hands reach those two arrows. WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS SOONER?! It has worked like a charm. He still has trouble sometimes with the "quiet" part, but he doesn't yell every 3 minutes: "Can I come out now? NOW? MOMMY! CAN I COME OUT NOW?"

Usually we've still had to go in when he first wakes up and point out that it is not yet 7, and remind him of the drill. But twice this week, he woke up on his own, turned his light on, looked at the clock and played/read in his room, then came out (usually to me in bed) at 7. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I was so proud of him! And then? A new day begins and we start this adventure all over again.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Oh, I see. It's one of THOSE days.

Warning! Controversial parenting practices to follow. Read at your own risk and judge not lest you be judged. ;)

So, remember the other day when I hesitantly wrote that we're in a pretty peaceful time with Mr. Carson? Well, today I TAKE IT BACK! Someone slipped him a naughty pill when I wasn't looking, because this morning he was a nightmare. Most of the morning was fairly typical frustrating stuff--whining, arguing, refusal to do anything remotely close to what I asked, etc., but the event that took the cake was at the grocery store. I mean, of COURSE it was at the crowded, public grocery store at lunchtime!

I really should have learned my lesson by now: things are always worse when I'm in a hurry. We were on our way to lunch with my mom and my gparents, but I needed to stop and get something for the lunch and also something for dinner tonight at a friends house. I was all packed and ready to go, but we had to wait for Syd to wake up from her morning nap. I was a little rushed, and Carson can smell that a mile off like carnivore on fresh meat. Something catastrophic (sarcasm) happened while getting in the car, I don't remember what, and it led to a Grade A screaming fit before we had even left the cul-de-sac. The store I needed to stop at is just around the corner, and at this rate, I knew we wouldn't make it out of the car, let alone through the store, so I kindly asked if there was anything I could do to help him not be sad. He said turn around and get Minky. So, even though we were late, I turned around and got Minky as a goodwill gesture, hoping it would buy me a few moments of decent behavior at the store. It did not.

By the time we got to the store, he had taken off his socks and shoes and thrown them around the car, and not stopped whining about wanting to stay at home and that he was hungry. By the time we got INTO the store, he had screamed for all the world to hear that I was mean for not letting him ride in the "car" cart, which we don't do anymore, after the 37th time of getting one and him refusing to stay inside, but instead walk alongside me while I push one of those carts that takes the narrow grocery store corners like a semi-truck. The no-car-cart rule has been in place for several months, but OF COURSE, today it was an injustice the likes of which the world has never seen. By the time we got past the breezeway of the store, I had already had to nag him repeatedly that we weren't buying candy or treats, because he ran to the little "claw" vending game and was asking to play. (Have I ever let you? No. Why do you think that will change?)

By the time we got to the bananas, I had a 2 second heart-attack because he had disappeared, until I saw him at some candy display, reaching into some bulk candy. By the time we got to the bread aisle, I was completely out of my "Keep it together, Jen" pep talks, my reluctant-but-creative distracting preschool games like "Let's race!" or "Help me find what's on the list!", and I was completely out of patience. We got in line, and he ran down the nearest aisle to some Easter candy. I calmly brought him back, got down to his eye-level and said firmly, "You need to stay right by me, and you may NOT touch the candy, or you will have to sit in the cart."

OH, little man, you did NOT just do that!

Yes. He. Did.

He ran right back to where I had pulled him from and put one finger on a bag of blasted Cadburry Eggs and looked back at me. I walked over, grabbed his wrist, and pulled him back to the cart. Of COURSE, the child's seat was completely full of groceries, because Syd's in her carseat taking up the entire basket of the cart. (Sitting there quietly, watching the whole thing go down, by the way.) Holding tightly onto the wrist of a screaming, writhing, kicking child with my left hand, I started to load my stuff onto the conveyor belt with my right hand. All the people in all the lines were starting to watch. Then, I picked up that noisy, naughty little boy and forced his too-big legs into the toddler seat of the cart and buckled the belt. He screamed "YOU'RE HURTING ME! OW! OW! OW! THAT HURTS ME! STOP IT! STOP IT!", reached out to hit me, and then? He spit in my face. Oh, I am not making this up.

By this time, I'm sure you can imagine the scene, because we have ALL been nearby when something like this is happening. And I KNOW what people are thinking! That's what is so hard for me. They are all thinking that my child is out-of-control, I should GET him under control, and the best part is they are all thinking I should do this in a calm and loving manner without spanking him. FAT CHANCE! Sorry, what I mean is, I totally understand the choice not to spank. We rarely spank, but I have no problem doing it under total defiance like this. And once I give myself permission to stop the chitchat and do the deed, I experience an unexplainable calm. I took a deep breath (wiped the spittle from my cheek), and held his hand in my face. I said quietly, "That. Is unacceptable. You do NOT treat me that way. You are going to get a spanking when we get to the car."

I think he knew I was a little chicken to do it in public, because he continued the tirade of attempted kicking and hitting and screaming as I paid for my groceries and walked out, being stared at the whole time. My favorite part was when the clerk says over his yelling, "Do you want help out to your car?" I didn't know if she was joking or not. Get me OUT OF HERE, lady.

We got to the car, I loaded the couple bags of groceries, put Sydney in her seat, and judging onlookers or not, I pulled down his pants and gave him one swat on the cheek. It wasn't even very hard. He immediately melted in tears and his body melted into my lap. Yes, we were late, but we are firm that spanking always has to come with lots of physical loving afterwards. I just sat in the passenger seat and rocked him for a good 3-4 minutes. After a decent interlude, I asked him if he knew why he got a spanking. He said because he ran away. I said yes, but also because he was mean to me (with the hitting and the spitting? remember that?) and we don't treat each other that way in our family. He voluntarily said he was sorry. I forgave him. I told him I don't like spanking him and that I loved him very much. He let me hold him for a little bit longer.

Oh man, I wish I could say that was the first scene we've had like that in public, but it's not. (And I'm WAY more able to handle it when I'm not 5 and 8 months pregnant. But those are stories for another post.) And I wish it was the last, but I'm sure it's not. I wish I could say that his behavior was angelic for the rest of the day, but it wasn't. (It was better, though!) And for some reason, it feels cathartic to share my story with all of you, even if you would have done things differently. I do apologize to my friends (and sisters-in-law) who don't have kids yet. I know these kinds of stories should come with a warning label. But for everyone else, maybe the next time this happens to a distressed mother in line nearby, you'll give her a smile and an understanding nod, and say a little prayer for her!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Camera happy

My poor children are never safe from camera-crazy Mommy. This morning I decided to take pictures of Sydney in her highchair before she had eaten. She is such a content baby, but sometimes a tough crowd for a mommy who is trying to make her smile right after she woke up! Here she is displaying her contemplative look. Can you see the slightly raised left eyebrow? This is one of her trademark faces.
They are hard to see most of the time because they are strawberry blonde, but this pic shows that she has some pretty long eyelashes!
Big bro had to get in on the action. Can't let sis get all the attention.

"OK, get me outta here."