Friday, July 31, 2009

Natural Talent

Yesterday was my 34th birthday.

Despite a raging sinus infection, I rallied (everyone knows you can't be sick on your birthday!), and The Mad Hatter and I met some friends for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory

(sidebar: how ironic that MY birthday happens to fall on National Cheesecake Day and I landed there for lunch by the sheer fate of not having much of an appetite and wanting a killer salad?)

After a wonderful lunch, my girlfriend and I decided to brave the mall with the kiddos.

MH loves to visit "Barnyard Kids" aka Pottery Barn Kids - it's an absolute must (er, bribe I hold over her head) every time we visit the mall.

I decided that first, I was going to treat myself to a little gift (or 3) at Sephora. Pottery Barn happens to be right across the way and the natives were getting restless, so my friend told me to take my time finishing up and meet her over there.

When I walked in, this is what I found!

(Yes, I am loving my new camera and the fact that I can shoot in color, vivid color, sepia, black and white, and all kinds of other cool effects)

I'm kinda thinkin' my girl is a shoo-in for the next Barnyard Kids (er, PBK) catalog!
Maybe it's time for an agent?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

No Words.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Go there, NOW!

About six months ago, a new store called Lakeshore Learning Center came to town.

Ever the mom who loves "learning" toys that are both fun and have multiple developmental purposes as well (I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that my mom is a retired elementary school teacher and I myself have been pondering going back to school for elementary ed), I've been dying to check it out.

We had a couple of birthday gifts to exchange MH's birthday was only in February and a rainy Thursday afternoon brought us in for a visit.

Why, oh why did I not get myself there sooner?

This place is a teacher's paradise.

Wonderland for a mommy like me.

And a virtual playground for the wee ones.

Totally kid-friendly. Touches welcome. Happy Mommy.

The Mad Hatter ran right to a huge activity table and started coloring in a picture of a Toucan using these (we have some similar ones at home - they are easy to use, FAR less messy that regular paints, and washable. What more could you ask for?).

I was like a kid in a candy store - I didn't know where to go first. I was already mentally planning out my first classroom, you know, just in case I decide to go through with the back to school idea.

I managed to bring myself back to the present task of selecting a toy for MH. But where to start?

We have a 4 hour car ride to our vacation destination ahead of us this week, so maybe something portable?

But then again, maybe something to help her work on her impressive writing skills at home . . .

It didn't help that nearly the entire store was 20% off!

I eventually stumbled upon this, and found myself having a great time playing with it.

Imagine my delight when I brought it over the still-painting MH, who exclaimed "We have that at school!"

I asked her to show me how it worked, and was amazed to see her spring to action.

What's so awesome about this toy (besides the fact that my husband and I find it addictive and have been secretly playing with it after she goes to bed AND the magnetic pieces inside very closely resemble M&Ms) is that it encourages work on so many pre-school skills.

There's the fine motor skills needed to carry the colored pieces to their spots on the board. Counting, sorting colors, following patterns to make images, sequencing, and those are just off the top of my head.

Did I forget to mention the pattern cards? Those cost extra (my only disappointment with this toy was that it didn't include even a couple), but you get a bunch of them and they range from easy to advanced. DH even took them to the office and laminated them so they'd be extra durable yes, I realize we're dorks.

The best part of it all? MH has been playing with this toy non-stop since we got it. Her attention span for it is amazing, and she loves it. She's creating shapes on her own, working hard at following some of the easier pattern cards, and more than anything, so proud of her accomplishments (yep, Mommy is too!).

Lakeshore offers free craft projects on Saturdays and I can't wait to check those out.

One thing is for sure, I have found my new source for birthday gifts, fun stuff for MH, and yet one more store at which I feel the need to spend immense amounts of money.

The staff was amazing - both friendly and very knowledgeable, and I was thrilled to learn that although it's a chain, the business is family-owned.

Did I mention that even if there's not one near you, you can shop online?

Go, now!

You can thank me later for the extra quiet time you'll score for blog posting, reading, etc.

Author's note: I am in no way affiliated with Lakeshore Learning Center nor was I asked to write a review about their store. I just loved it that much!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Changing Channels

Last night while I was out with the girls, DH and The Mad Hatter met my parents for dinner.

DH called home this morning with the story he forgot to tell me last night although how he forgot to tell me blows my mind because I would have still been laughing.

As he was getting MH out of her car seat, she said "Daddy, what does it mean to talk with your hips?"

Uh, according to Mommy it means time to change the station.

Yes, they had been listening to the radio (Oh, come on! Don't tell me you listen to Barney all day long!) and she'd heard the lyrics to the song Don't Trust Me by 3OH!3.

Although I normally flip the station if a song with inappropriate lyrics comes on, Daddy missed it and MH doesn't miss a beat.

(I must add here that DH is a wonderful daddy and I'm in no way insinuating otherwise)

Daddy's response? "Oh, that just means moving your hips and dancing."

To which she broke into full-on hip-swinging head-bopping action and asked "Like this?"

After confirmation that her understanding of said concept of "talking" was indeed correct, they had dinner and never spoke of it again.

This morning, my mom watched the MH for a couple of hours.

MH walked up to her without a sound and started wiggling those hips. And proceeded to say, "Sweetheart, I'm talking to you with my hips!"

Which most definitely made my mom raise an eyebrow and stifle a giggle, but she just went with it. (she, of course, got the explanation later)

Dear Lord, we are seriously in trouble.

I'll admit that though I find the following lyrics completely offensive, the song has a great beat and gets me moving.

Shush girl, shut your lips
Do the Helen Keller and talk with your hips.

I'll be interested to hear what Kidz Bop 17 does to modify that one.

Author's note: I feel it important to note that 95% of our musical time in the car is filled with Music Together, Kidz Bop, Disney, and Sesame Street CDs. The other 5% we go wild with a variety of Top 40, classic rock, 70's, 80's, disco, funk, and the like so we keep a bit of sanity she has a well-rounded musical palate.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

(Almost) WW - Dancing Queen, er, Princess . . .

Yes, blog neglect has its price.

I am playing catch-up, and am quite sure I'll never get all of the stuff I want to chronicle here in one piece.


I could not let the monumentous occasion of The Mad Hatter's first dance recital pass by without a blog entry.

She was a rock star.

She was out of sync with all of the other little girls (who were all out of sync with each other).

She clapped for herself on stage when she heard the audience clapping.

And she made me so. unbelievably. PROUD.

She is fearless, and she danced on that stage like no one was watching.

My wish for her is that she is forever as gregarious and confident as she was up there that night.

A girl can dream, right?

Gone on the Fourth of July

Yes, I do realize that today is July 15th, and I am writing a post about the 4th of July.

Since the sun finally decided to come out after what can only be described as monsoon season here in RI, I have been too busy soaking up rays at the beach to be bothered keeping up with my blog.

Priorities, right?

We had a fabulous weekend, but I suffered a traumatic loss on the 4th.

While enjoying a fabulous party at a friend's beach cabana, the Mad Hatter decided to show us her mad skills at pole dancing.

Yep, pole dancing.

And as I was frantically trying to capture the moment, a monumental crisis occurred that literally stopped me in my tracks.

My camera made a funny noise, beeped twice, the screen went black, and the camera shut off.

I was able to turn it on, but it would beep, flash E18, and shut off again.

At the time, I had no idea what it meant, other than that my camera would not take pictures, and while it powered on and off, the lens would not move. And that I was feeling slightly panicked.

Upon returning home and consulting my BFF Google, I learned that my camera had decided to bite the bullet. The lens was done for.

We shared a wonderful 4 years together.

Ironically, the camera was a gift for my 30th birthday. It was the year MH was born and I wanted something small I could always have with me, so DH surprised me with a Canon Elph SD300.

I turn 34 at the end of the month.

And again, I've received a new camera for my birthday!

Apparently, based on the information I read online about dreaded error code E18 (lens will no longer retract), I'm lucky we shared such a wonderful time together.

While I have an amazing digital SLR camera (received last year on my birthday), it's just not the sort of thing I want to be shlepping around all over the place with me.

So, DH and I did some research, went to Best Buy over the weekend, and purchased a Canon Elph SD1200. Pretty much the same camera, but with image stabilization and a lot more mega-pixels.

It was on sale, (but still a bit pricey since I was hoping to receive these for my birthday), so when we got home, we looked online to see if there were any deals.

Deals there were! We found the same camera for $35 less than the sale price, with no sales tax and free shipping. Fabulous, but it meant I'd be camera-less for just a little longer.

And just in time for 4 days of gorgeous weather that meant 4 consecutive days at the beach. AMAZING days at the beach.

I had to resort to using my BlackBerry to document several important moments - not quite the quality I'm accustomed to or would prefer, but captured memories nonetheless.

Alas, my reinforcement arrived today! It is so pretty and just in time for our family vacation next week to New Hampshire. I can't wait to break it out and use it!

I take comfort in the fact (although I'm not so sure I should, given the content!) that before the camera dropped dead, I did manage to capture these:

She is a natural.

And with my track record, I'm placing bets on what my 38th birthday gift will be.

That, and holding out hope that perhaps the Tiffany fairy might just pay me a visit after all.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gone Pickin'

Here in New England, we're lucky if it's not raining to be able to pick berries all summer long.

Strawberry season is coming to a close, so last week whenwe got a brief reprieve from the rain, we booked it to a local farm.

We didn't come home with too many berries, as the weather has made the pickins' slim.

And the majority of the Mad Hatter's pickins' ended up in her belly (which is exactly how I fondly remember trips to the strawberry patch when I was a little girl).

All in all, I'd say our trip was perfect!

Next up - blueberries!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Making Me Happy Monday!

It has been QUITE a while since I've done a Making Me Happy Monday post (or any posts, but I've been working on that), and I can think of no better way to start my week!

So, without further adieu, I give you the list of things making me happy on this gorgeous Monday morning:

1) It is, indeed, a GORGEOUS Monday morning! The sun is shining for the 3rd consecutive day in a row after weeks and weeks of rain!

2) Due to the aforementioned sun, The Mad Hatter and I will be heading for the beach club for the 3rd consecutive day in a row!

3) The MH has her first swim lesson this afternoon!

4) I had a WONDERFUL holiday weekend filled with family, friends, great food, and fun. I'm sad it's over.

5) Did I mention that the sun is out???

6) I'm feeling positive that we have turned a corner on the icky weather front and that summer has finally arrived.

7) July is my birthday month! And the birthday month of many people I love and care about - time to celebrate!

8) Even though I neglected this poor blog for over two months (yikes!), when I made the decision to come back and re-commit to posting, I got such a warm welcome back to Bloggywood! Thank you to my awesome friends who "get it", and made me even more excited to be back. Your comments made me do a little happy dance :)

9) We took MH to her first baseball game (minor league) on Thursday night. I don't think she watched one bit of the game. She did, however, manage to consume more sugar and junk food than I ever thought her little belly was capable of holding. Which, if you ask me, is exactly as it should be. And there was nothing better than watching her face as she watched the post-game fireworks display. Watching the world through her eyes is something that never gets old.

10) MH and I met up with some friends and went strawberry picking last week. The best part was MH's "Is this a good one?" after each one she picked before she popped it into her mouth. Perhaps one of the reasons we didn't bring home nearly as many berries as I'd been hoping for - I think that of all she picked, about 4 found their way into our basket while the rest ended up in her belly. Which is exactly as it should be, at least based on my own awesome memories of berry picking with my mom when I was a little girl.

What's making YOU happy today? I hope you'll join me in jotting down a few on your own blog, or by leaving me a comment. Either way, I'm sure there is something in your life making you smile!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy 4th!

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!

With love,

Little Miss Firecracker

The Firecracker Family

Thank You Mother Nature

For TWO consecutive days of this:

We're all sporting smiles that big too.

Off to the beach for the second day in a row !!! (it's only July 5th, and yesterday was the FIRST day we got there!)

Now, pretty please, could you keep up the great work?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Back, Back, Back!


I was slightly afraid I'd try to log on to blogger and my screen would flash "DENIED" and then my computer would spontaneously combust.


Over 2 months since my last post.

Clearly my priorities are out of whack.

Well, actually, I hit a bit of a personal rut and just didn't have the drive for a while.

And then other stuff took over.

BUT, I'm back!

And I'm ready to blog!

I've missed all my great bloggy friends, and of course, writing about my favorite subject, The Mad Hatter!