29 December 2009

The Organization Of Boys

I wish I could enjoy Christmas and birthdays more, but after a few hours of unwrapping, smiling, filming, oohing and aahing, one thing always brings me back down to Earth: all of this new stuff has to go somewhere.

It's then that I panic. My face and neck get itchy and my eye begins to twitch. I break a sweat looking around my living room. Then, I try to escape, running wildly towards my bedroom. I fling my body onto my bed and attempt to smother hide my face from the growing toy army that's emerged in my living quarters, only to find myself in a sea of floating legos and miscellanous toy parts that have managed to make a fort inside my sheets.

This year, it's particularly bad. Chase had his first genuine "gifting" birthday (i.e. - he can get stuff that we didn't already own from Conner's babyhood) coupled with Christmas and BAM! I'm in an asylum, forever.

The playroom's walls are officially completely lined. In some spots, the toys go two and three wide towards the center of the room. I've installed a fisherman's casting net in one corner to store all 4.5 years of stuffed animals (WHY ON EARTH DO WE OWN SO MANY STUFFED ANIMALS?). I have one incomplete set of shelves and a small bookcase. The toy bin is full and has been that way for a year. The secondary toy bin is now also full (big sigh).

So when my living room looked as if a hoarder moved in late Christmas day, I had to take immediate action: Target.

After years of searching for a sturdy, yet affordable, organization and shelving system, I stumbled into the mecca known as Target and emerged victorious with one 9-cube organizer (on sale for $39.99!). I was hesitant about it being made of particle board, but surprisingly, this is very sturdy and as well-made as an item fabricated from particle board can be.

I'm impressed, really.

The next ordeal came when I realized I had to actually sift through the large heaps of toys, seperate and organize into categories.

This shelf would have to reside in Conner's room, not the playroom (and since then, we've purchased one just for Chase's room), so the toys I would store in it needed to be the ones that Conner played with more than Chase. Having children so close in age means they do share a good bit of toys, but it also means when one  wanders into Conner's room to play, so does the other.

I began sifting through the new toys - robots, Star Wars, action figures and swords. Each needed to be put in a bin with those items most similar, to avoid a battle between Yoda and Bumble Bee, naturally.

The categorizing was the most daunting. Do Transformers count as robots or vehicles? Can all action figures be placed in the same reciprocal, or do Stars Wars and Terminators need to be housed separately? Do swords need a special place away from lightsabers? What about "grenade launchers"? And nunchuks? Can I place them all in a bin labeled 'armaments'? If so, do the 5 masks belong there too?

For the record, I decided that Transformers are robots before vehicles, and therefore belong with the other robots (even if they boss them around a bit). All weapons (that fit) are with the masks. In another bin, I placed all electronic games (Wii and Leapster). The action figures were sorted by size, with the Star Wars and Terminators sharing one container, and the army men and knights in another.

For now, this works. I'm just hoping we won't need to buy the empty lot behind us by next Christmas.

28 December 2009

Here I Am Needing Advice - Again. Read: HELP!

It's been a full year since I purchased this domain. Which is totally ironic since just last week I began to ponder "How much does my blog name suck?" while in a mad post-birthday party and pre-Christmas dash throughout my house.

Let me just add, for the record, that having a child with a birthday 4 days before Christmas, living in a city 2 hours away from all relatives (the No Where Land between Too Far Away For A Quick Trip and Not Far Away Enough To Be Considered "Too Far" Therefore Expected To Show Face), and then insisting that my children wake in our house on Christmas morning and having a husband who must work on Christmas Eve because "the market is open" is just a huge pain in my rear.

I think I feel better now that rant isover.

So to save me from myself, I debated my blog name, identity, "brand", etc while cleaning, baking, wrapping, mothering, chauffeuring and going insane.

My desire to re-vamp this site is multifold. For starters, I'd like it to appear more "professional" (stop laughing). I would still maintain my off-color humor and marginally less than sane content, but with a few less asterisks, all caps, and words made up by me. The run-on sentences are staying as well as my comma splices and incomplete statements (the latter two are more so by accident).

Second, I want the design to "do more". I have no idea what that really means. In my head, my ideal blog layout would be less "crappy" and more "awesome". I am oozing with vague here. You are all, surely, shocked.

Third, I think the site name, my "identity", should reflect more of what readers have come to expect (read: avoid). For instance, I'm sure many have stumbled onto this blog, looked up and realized it seems a lot like being lost with Alice in Wonderland on a bad day. Even worse, it could be just like watching that extended version of Alice in Wonderland with the Jabberwocky and the trippy mirror scene.

Here comes a new reader thinking they've come across a lovely little mommy blog and then I smack them in the face with an "unusual" comment or topic. The reader never knew what hit them. After all, it came from something called "The Mom Job".

What if, hypothetically, my site was called...
I think that would send the right message.

I am currently working on several projects that will expose my writing to a wider audience.

For one, as many of you noticed, I am now a monthly contributor to Birmingham Mommy; my feature is called "Amanda's Attempt to Entertain Us This Month". Yup. I'm creative.

The next is a local (to Birmingham) magazine (print) that also maintains a website. I'm not totally sure if it's safe to link yet, but there's no way you guys won't hear about this soon. I should be posting a several times a month (1-2 per week). The long-term goal is to work my way towards the print side and maintain my online position.

And lastly, I occassionally contribute posts to MomsWhoThink.com. (which all of you should visit because a) it's a great resource for "all things mommy" and b) they pay me)

My overall point here is this - I think it sends a more accurate message if someone were to read my bio on one of these sites and it were to say something like "Amanda Z., a Birmingham native, is a stay-at-home mother of 2 young boys and a graduate of the University of Alabama. She blogs on her personal site, UterusForSale.com, and contributes to YourWebsiteHere.com bi-monthly".

It's like a subtle warning I may make you blush, laugh or both.

23 December 2009

Only Someone Like Me Would Look At This And Proceed To Try It On

About 2-3 weeks back, I won a tree skirt ($60+ value!) from Landsend.com  on Twitter. It arrived last week and because I'm slightly off my rocker, the first thing I thought upon opening the box was "Huh... this looks like it would fit me..."

While you are snuggled around the fire, starring blankly at your Christmas tree this year... just remember "Amanda is the same width as the base of our Christmas tree... *sigh*"

Here's the skirt on the tree per intended use:

Merry Christmas y'all.

20 December 2009

Moms Who Tweet

Last Monday night, as I sifted through a few hours of tweets while Michael took the boys to the gym, I came across a retweet (someone re-posting another person's entry). A fellow mommy-blogger re-posted a short entry another mommy made a few minutes prior. It simply said "Please pray like never before, my 2 yr old fell in the pool."

A straightforward request that pulled at my heartstrings. I've visited Shellie's blog once or twice before and the idea of her son, Chase's age, and herself being in such a frightening situation made me physically sick. In interest of drawing thoughts and prayers, I retweeted the post as well.

On Tuesday I used the USA Today app on my iphone to check up on the latest news of the day, seeing as Noggin doesn't give me world events. I was shocked to see this entry (see: left) - one that alludes to careless actions on part of the mother. The article is titled "Mom's tweet as son was dying stirs debate" and then interviews a complete stranger to the mother, Madison McGraw - a blogger, who says:
"Could this child's death have been averted had the mom not been on Twitter all day?... This woman spent all of her time on Twitter. It was unbelievable."

I am absolutely appalled. I do not personally know Shellie, I must state that for the record. I also do not follow her every tweet, but I do know this - if this were me, if this exact same situation were replaced with my family, and they looked at my Twitter account, I would hope this person would take the time to consider that it takes mere seconds to post a tweet.

To accuse this mother of abandonment or neglect is absurd.

The interview with Mr. McGraw insinuates that this mother was tweeting and not watching her child. It implies she sat around and tweet the day away and let her children run wild. Sadly, it makes attempt to suggest this mother basically stopped CPR to confer her situation to the world on the internet.

I don't wish to make a case saying this mother is "absolutely innocent and positively had her eyes glued to her child" for three reasons. First being, that's an impossible statement. As parents, we make mistakes and it is simply beyond reach to watch our children at all times. Secondly, in the article on USA Today it states:
She tweeted throughout Monday. At 5:22 p.m., she posted a message about the fog that rolled in as she worked in her chicken coop.

The emergency call to police came at 5:23 p.m
Lastly, It appears to me this mother was going about her daily business - business that involved venturing away from her child and letting her attention concentrate on others things (in this case, a chicken coop).

I would hope someone would be there to defend my actions in a case such as this. Someone to stand up and say "We live in an age of social networking. A time when we have an "extra circle" of friends - those that live real lives, but we know through the internet. It doesn't make us anti-social, it makes us more social. It let's us reach out to those friends and let them know we care... that we live... and that we sometimes need an extra thought or prayer from those around us."

Shellie asked for just that. It's clear she loved her son and she let out a plea for his life. That's something I believe we should all be able to respect.

Or Maybe I'll Just Revise The Whole Thing

How about... 1 dollar per comment and 1 dollar per retweet from the benefit post for Children's Hospital of Alabama?

Yes... that's better :)

14 December 2009

Benefit Post for Children's Hospital

**1 comment = 10 cents for Children's Hospital. Even if you don't read this, comment!!** (no limit to how many times you can leave a comment either)

Chase was born on a chilly December day, 2 years ago next week. Within hours of his birth, he began seizing. We were expecting a healthy, full-term baby, and what we got was far from that. It sent a shockwave through my entire system - my newborn baby was fighting for his life.

You can find bits of Chase's story throughout my blog:
NICU: First 24 Hours (sadly never blogged the following days...)
The Update Post
Share Your Story for Children's Hospital of Alabama
The Cement Roof

The summary:
It was soon discovered Chase was seizing from extra blood on the brain (a grade 3 or 4 bleed), the pressure caused seizures, and his bleed was severe. Unsure of how to treat him, the local hospital put Chase on seizure medication, intubated him (as the medication surpressed his breathing to the point where he could no longer do it unassisted) and placed him under "do not stiumlate" protocol.

For me, this meant that I could only look at my hours-old son. No touching. No talking. Absolutely nothing except prayer from a distance.

Because Chase's condition was so incredibly rare (we are talking in the one in several million range) for a full-term and otherwise healthy baby, he was soon taken via helicopter to Children's Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham.

It was there I felt Chase had a chance.

He was removed from his "no stimulation" orders, placed on less medication, eventually extubated, and a few days later, Chase had an angiogram to find a "cause". His nurses were amazing. Everyone understood our situation, tried to be as accomidating as possible (it was Christmas and we were from out-of-town), guided us through difficult decisions and made extra efforts to respect our wishes.

In short, Children's Hospital saved Chase's life.

The level of medical care combined with their compassion and experience far beyond that of a "regular" hospital became the perfect combination.

The aftercare we've receieved has been amazing. Nurses on call for any issue, quick response time during problematic episodes and speedy appointments with specialists.

Chase has managed to absorb all of the blood without ever being shunted. He has no (known) neurological damage. He is developing completely "normal". We are stunned.

So to benefit Children's Hospital of Alabama, Michael and I have decided to raise a little cash. We are opening  comments for the day and each comment made on this post will equal 10 cents. (Sadly, I've turned on the capcha due to bots on this site, silly bots). You can leave as many as you'd like. Also, you can retweet this (Twitter.com):

Benefit post for @ChildrensALA from @themomjob. Each RT earns 10 cents. http://themomjob.net

If you'd like to donate to Children's Hospital with your money (hehehe), I have added a "Donations" PayPal Button in the right column near the top of this page.

Thanks to BirmminghamMommy.com for featuring this benefit post! And obviously, thank you to Children's Hospital for our amazing son, Chase.

11 December 2009

In Which I Make Panda Cupcakes and Go Insane and Get Off-Topic for the 4 Millionth Time.

Seriously? Did I only post once this week? WTF?

I think I am a little frantic this week and I only realized it last night. Chase's birthday party is next Saturday and then Christmas is the following Thursday/Friday. I have no idea why we didn't count ahead 38+ weeks when we decided to have Chase. Life's Lessons from Amanda #98347583459: If you are considering having a child, calculate their expected due date from expected time of conception or you may end up with a baby due on Christmas (see: Chase Alexander).

As of last night, I officially committed to making Chase's panda cupcakes from scratch (see: store bought icing, possibly homemade cake mix) ALL  BY MY LONESOME. Here's my "template":

OMG I KNOW! Aren't they adorable and edible and then more adorable?

You are probably wondering why I am doing a panda theme for a soon-to-be-2-yr-old...boy.... And the answer is simple: Chase is freaking obsessed with all things "pandy".

He has a stuffed panda (affectionatly known as "Pandy") that he sleeps with at night. It's honestly a cheap, horrible feeling, dirty, 8-inch tall panda bear that came as  "freebie" with another toy (one that cost unheard of amounts of money and the boys never touch. go figure.) (which of course means that 'Pandy' is basically irreplaceable). On Ni Hao, Kai Lan, Chase is exceptionally partial to Tolee, a koala bear that wishes he were a panda.

When I began my search for Chase's theme, I was torn between a few things - dinosaurs ("rawrs"), Diego, trucks (his fav.. we probably own around 200 trucks, cars, vans, etc) and a panda theme.

I ruled out Diego because he makes me want to hurl.

Then I ruled out trucks because I don't see this obsession dying off any time soon, so I can always use it later and I believe the same thing applies to dinosaurs.

It was settled - 'Pandy' it would be. It is my last chance for a "baby" party (doubtful Chase would let me throw him a panda bear party for any of his "big boy" parties...). I googled panda cakes, he loved them, and that was it.

I typically don't make the boys' cakes (and by "typically", I mean "never"). I get them from Publix and have always been impressed with the taste (last year's duck cake was a little "meh" if you ask me, but it taste amazing).

So yes, blahblablah. Amanda = baking. I'm sure I'll want to murder my face off and just buy a pre-made sheet cake in the end, but heck... if they turn out, it will be awesomesauce. OMG I THINK I KNOW THE RECIPE FOR 'AWESOMESAUCE' NOW!! IT IS COMPRISED OF PANDA CUPCAKES AS SEEN ABOVE. Knew that recipe would come to me someday.

Oh wait. Wasn't this entry about how I am busy?

I have a special post to benefit Children's Hospital of Alabama next week. You guys are going to have so much fun making me broke!! (you'll see)

Conner is wrapping up school next week for the semester. Lots of preschool pictures for that one I might or might not get around to posting.

Oh, and Christmas. OH! And the things I have won off Twitter because A) I'm obsessed with Twitter and B) I'm obsessed with Twitter. 

I just made a blogging to-do list. You guys better hold me to this.

08 December 2009

10 Easy Snacks..

..(alternative extension to title: That Won't Require Cooking or Eating Cheez-Its On A Daily Basis [AND Please Stop Being That Mom Who Sends Goldfish To Preschool Every Time You Have The Snack Bucket, kthanks.])

1. Sun Chips OR Wheat Thins

(Yes I could have broken these down into 2 different numbers, but I have an even 10 here.. so sue me).

Don't lie ... you love these things. But for some reason beyond me (this is mostly applicable to the Wheat Thins), parents consider them "diet" food and forget that they are just baked wheat crackers that taste super yummy. Offer these as a just-as-salty, but waaaay healthier version to chips as a side item or a quick snack.
My boys love them.

2. Garden Cheddar Goldfish

Yes, I just complained about Goldfish crackers approximately 20 lines up. Mostly because Conner goes to a preschool where we split the "who brings snack to school" responsibility up, each person taking 1-2 days each month and bringing one snack for all the kids.


Jesus people, kids get bored with that crap.

SO. For those times when you do feed them those golden little fishies, why not have them consume a veggie or two?

Garden Cheddar has 1/3 serving of veggies (peas, carrots, tomatos and sweet potatos) in each serving (lol @ the fact that a "serving" is 56 crackers.. but still).

3. Fruit Cups

Here's the kicker... ONLY buy those that say "packed with natural juices". Otherwise? You are basically serving your kids "fruit" swimming in a 4-6 ounce pool of thick, corn syrup. Ew.

4. Go-Gurts (but frozen)

This is SUCH a huge life saver. Many of you might recall our "little incident" with Dora and her berries on my son's berries.. *cough*. The issue there was a) Chase hated eating yogurt and thus got numerous infections and b) Putting yogurt on areas other than your tongue is nasty to watch.

I digress. I feel like my whole life was saved when I found these (thanks to the boys' Aunt Ann for that). Basically, I freeze them like you would a popsicle, and when they want one... I run it under water for maybe 4 seconds (any longer and they start to get mushy), cut the top, push the "pop" out like a push pop ("wow Amanda, I would have never been able to guess that...") and serve with a paper towel around the bottom.

Conner and Chase go through a box every 5 days or so. They have NO idea they are eating yogurt and as a result, Chase has been infection free since summer. Thank. God.

Noteworthy: Don't look at them. Just eat. :) (Yes, it looks *just* like your dog.) (double vomit)

5. Quaker Oats Rice Cakes in Caramel.Corn

No fat. No cholesterol. Made with real multi-grains. DO I NEED TO KEEP GOING. Oh, and they taste amazing.

6. Iced Oatmeal Cookies 

Ok, we all give our kids cookies (it says on the package that cookies extend your sanity.. true story). Why not throw them a "cookie" that has something healthy in it? Bonus points for those that sneak in raisins or nuts. (Or try dark chocolate).

Recipe courtesy of Moms Who Think for Oatmeal Cookies.

(picture ALSO courtesy of Moms Who Think)

7. Dried Cherries

Not a raisin lover? Me either. Yuck. Neither are Chase or Conner and I don't blame them. As an alternative, might I suggest dried cherries?

or use your dried cherries in... maybe...

8. Trail Mix

(see what I did there? clever.)

Trail mix:
Mini Pretzels
Dried Cherries
Mini Marshmellows
and a FEW Mini M&Ms
Kix or Chex

9. 100% Juice Pops

10. Nutella or Dark Chocolate 

Craving chocolate but you've already drained your supply want to opt for something a smidge more healthy? Try: A) Nutella on toast or saltines or B) Dark Chocolate.

I only recently found Nutella and Conner LOVES it.

..Um. Ew... -->

(A Hazelnut spread w/ cococa.. nuts are healthy, no?)

04 December 2009

A One Trick sHOw

If efforts to expand the life of one of my favorite candles (Creamy Custard and Blushing Apple by Glade), I've decided to let no speck of wax to be thrown away.

When one candle burned out today, but still had over an inch of delicious almost-edible blushing apple left in the bottom (this is a layered scent), I got out a knife to stab the person that can't figure out how to make a wick long enough for the entire candle to dig the rest out.

How To Extend The Yumminess of Your Favorite Candle Scent:
Step 1: Have a yummy candle.

Step 2: Once it burns out, dig out the bottom (see below)

Step 3: (In your pre-purchased tart warmer) Place a 1-1.5 inch section of the wax and use as normal.

Yay for being cheap!

03 December 2009

Reasons I'm Glad I Don't Have A Girl

Because I would vomit daily if every single new game or toy we owned was pink.

Might I present my case?

Now bear with me for a minute...






01 December 2009

This Week's Preschool Trends

Two weeks ago, Conner (my "4.5" year old, if you ask him) came home from preschool with one, bright green rubber band around his arm. It was the first thing he showed me when I picked him up, and it was the only thing he talked about all the way home.

I'm paraphrasing here (because come on...it's been TWO weeks.), but it went something like Brookwin gave me dis green bracelet because she said I was her friend and she wanted to share and I told her I do not have any bracelets and she said that was ok and I want to give her one because she is my friend. 

Pretty much all of that ^ on repeat.

It was silly bandz

or 'a silly band'... either way... I knew this was coming. I noticed another boy had these at our first party (Halloween, maybe?). Somehow, I knew I could not avoid being sucked into this trend. A trend of shoveling out 10 bucks plus shipping for something that MAYBE cost .05 cents to make (for the entire package).

But he loved it.

Conner somehow knew exactly the thing to say to fling me at a violent speed towards the internet, credit card in hand.
"And I want to give one to my little brover Chasey because he is my best friend and I love him"

At that moment, it didn't matter if those little rubber animal bracelets cost 100 bucks, I would try to find them and then cringe later.
Or vomit.
Or a cringe/vomit combo with a side of eye rolling.

I called 2 places -- sold out. Luckily, I never underestimate the powers of the internet... because I found them with a common theme: overpriced. Most places wanted $9+ with an additional $4-5 worth of shipping. I found one place that offered a pack for $5 with $6 shipping. UmmmmNo. But! Yeah. No.

And eventually, I tired of scouring the internets for a good deal, accepted my fate, and that of my son's ENTIRE preschool reputation, and bought 2 packs from Amazon. With shipping, it cost close to $16.
Sixteen dollars for cheap, thin, multi-colored rubber bands.

Conner had ONE more day of school before Thanksgiving break, and I knew the bands wouldn't be here in time. To the rescue came his Nana (my mom). She found the bands in Birmingham, bought a pack and I picked them up (I was already heading that direction. So... no. I didn't drive there JUST for these...)

The next school day, he showed up with an arm full of silly bandz. He reserved two especially for "Brookwin" - one purple, one pink.

He would sift through them, trying to recall each animal's shape and name, all the way to school.

When it was time for the party, Conner sat down, ate his snack, and proceeded to ''Brookwin's" chair. He stood behind her right shoulder and nervously spun the bands around his arm. She didn't notice him as he stood shuffling his feet for over 2 minutes.

I felt like I was watching a slow motion train wreck. I wanted desperately to jump in and save him. But I knew I couldn't. I watched him hesitate as my heart wanted to burst out of my chest.

And then... her friend to her right noticed Conner ever-so-slowly swaying behind "Brookwin's" chair.

"Can I have one?" she asked.
"Ummm...no...." he answered under his breath.

He attempted to explain that the pink one and the purple one were for his friend "Brookwin" and this girl was NOT "Brookwin" ergo - no bracelet. She responded with a blank pout.

I stepped in, pointed out that Conner had enough silly bandz for everyone, and he reluctantly gave them out.

And yes, "Brookwin" eventually got her pink and purple bands.

Watching him give every single band he brought to school was exciting and sad. He was so passive with the other children. When they'd demand a different color than what he had given them, he'd pull his arm in closely, look down, and not speak. I just think he was overwhelmed and unsure.

End of sad face.
... *sniff*

Our Amazon-ordered Silly Bandz came the Monday before Thanksgiving. He wore 2 to school yesterday and both came back (the kids like to trade them).

What he also came home with on Monday?


I'm not even going there.

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