Thursday, May 31, 2012

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: Road Trip Advice

 Usually I create my own lists for What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop. 

Not this week.

Next month we are going on a twelve hour road trip to New Jersey and New York City to visit family and friends.  Last time I we went on this trip, it did not go well.  At all.

Thomas was cutting four teeth (unbeknownst to me).  Marie had issues with bladder control.  We were hit by a semi-truck tire that unraveled from the wheel.

I swore I would never do it again.  (First rule of parenting: never say never).  So here I am, two years later and willing to put the past behind me.

I’m a traveler, damn it!  I’m not going to let a few teeth poking holes through gums or a urine-soaked car seat or even a near death experience of a semi tire almost crashing through my windshield while driving seventy miles per hour on I80 East get in the way of my life plan.

So I am reaching out for tips to make this trip easier.  This list created by Erin, ChiefMom at Skinny Scoop has some excellent ideas.  One of my favorites is that you make a little schedule of things to do and coordinate it with pit stops.

Do you have any helpful tips to make a lllooonnngg road trip bearable and even daresay, fun?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In Photos: A Taste of Summer

Today I wrote a post for the Detroit News MichMomsblog about the magic of summer.  After being cooped up all winter long, it’s great to run outside in a T-shirt and flip flops.  And the summer feels fun now (unlike by mid-July and I feel like an overworked cruise director).

Here’s a photo that totally encapsulates the magic of summer: eating gooey s’mores in the swing set clubhouse.

Here’s the before:

Here’s the after:

I cropped unrestricted.  I adjusted the light and the dark.  I also played around with brightness/contrast along with enhancing colors.

I then adjusted the field of depth and used the Orton Effect to 100% light.  I then put a mask using the soft mechanical brush at 100 pixels and 18% opacity.

I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I thought I’d share the steps so you could tell what I could do better next time.

Because learning this Photoshop Elements is hard, yo.

I personally think it’s a bit too light.  What do you think?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I am an Adrenaline Junkie

 Hi.  My name is Erin, and I am adrenaline junkie.

Not in a cool zips lining kind of way.  Or extreme sports kind of way. 

More like the boring mother-of-two-kids kind of way.  It seems like the more I do, the more I am compelled to do.  I overdo it.

I come from a long line of overdoers.  My grandmother on my dad’s side was an overdoer.  My dad is definitely an overdoer.  Stories about him are legend in our family.  When I was about seven years old, we had out-of-town guests coming to stay with us.  He was in a mad flurry to get stuff done.  Not like normal stuff, like cleaning or grocery shopping or even planning fun stuff to do. 

Like remodeling the home kind of stuff.  Most of the details remain fuzzy (probably because I have blocked them out of my memory), but I remember that he was painting the inside of the house the day before company arrived.  As soon as our guest came inside, she paused, inhaled deeply, and asked, “Do I smell fresh paint?”

So now that you know I was doomed from the beginning where I am coming from, I can tell you my trigger for over-doing it starts with a mega to do list.  Then, my mind starts working in crazy ways to work out the different time management configurations to complete as much as I can.  I start to feel like the adrenaline start flowing through my blood stream, and I start to feel all lit up inside.

I find myself clicking along, and then I come up with a crazy brilliant idea to add more tasks because when I workoutshowerfinishthreeloadsoflaundrywriteablogpost all before 7:30 a.m., I. feel. AMAZING.  So logically, I need to add more tasks instead of enjoying the fact that I completed tasks.

This ends one of two ways (but funny enough, always with a stomach ache)
1. I stay up until midnight still riding the adrenaline high.
2. I pass out at 11p.m. from sheer exhaustion and wake up with a start at 4:45 a.m. to chase the dragon again.

It’s a sickness.

I know I should meditate.

As the wise Olivia always says, “There’s still so much to do.”

But that’s the adrenaline talking.

Are you an adrenaline junkie?  I can’t be the only one like this, right?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: A Personal Reflection through Produce

Please vote for me on the Skinny Scoop's Top 25 Mom Bloggers of 2012!  Click the thumbs up under my name in the link.  Thanks so much!!

The other day, I was at the market and reveling in the fact that is really, truly spring.* There was beautiful asparagus grown right here in Michigan.  I couldn’t wait to try the fresh corn on the cob and the gorgeous, deep purple eggplant from Florida.  I snatched up the sweet, juicy peaches. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the basil plants that just get me all excited for summer weather!

When I go to check out, I start chatting it up with the cashier about how I excited I was to see fresh, domestic produce.  Seriously, it was like I was possessed by spring the way I was going on and on and on about . . . produce.

As I drove away in my red minivan.  Humming Just Like a Rock Star from the Fresh Beat Band. 

I couldn’t believe my ears.  My early-20’s self was cringing. Back then, I would get excited about the unlimited amount of free nacho cheese that was served in the dorms.  I also remember this level of excitement was reserved for stumbling across free beer.  I thought I died and went to heaven when I was a cruise and there was an all-you-can eat soft serve ice cream bar.

But becoming a mother has definitely changed my perspective on all of that.  I take food pretty seriously.  My friends and I talk about healthy foods all the time.  I can go on forever about how I am trying to win the war of having my family eating quinoa.

But more than that, I think that having kids has been a great teacher in living in the moment.  I have learned to be grateful for each season because it brings something special.  And right now, that something special is delicious produce.  I like to prepare them as simply as I can so the vegetable is the true star.  Here’s a list of my faves:

What do you look forward to now that you never thought you would?

 *When living in Michigan, I never feel safe to declare spring until late May because the weather is so erratic. It’s been known to snow in April.  Just sayin’

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Photos Gallery U Boutique Fairy Garden Ball

 Why, hello, there!  I know what you are thinking: “It’s Wednesday!  What are you doing posting, you over-achiever, you.”

Well, I am trying a new feature here at Mommy on the Spot.  If you haven’t heard already, I am writing for the Detroit News MichMoms blog.  A lesser known fact is that I am trying to teach myself Photoshop Elements 10.  My sister-in-law Brandy, who is a super-talented photographer, has been very helpful in teaching me a few things, so now I am going to practice them until they become easy for me.  So I had the brilliant idea of (hopefully) tying together my post at MichMoms to a blog post here, but somehow trying to fit in practicing Photoshop.

And, ta-da!  That was the birth of my In Photos feature.  I will be posting a photo here that ties into my MichMoms post. 

I welcome any and all critiques of my photoshoping skills.  In fact, please tell me what I should be doing because I am struggling with this program.

Also, since I am on the topic of favors, pleasecheck out my new MichMoms blog post and show me some comment love.  I would ever so appreciate it!

And now I present to you a photo taken at the FairyGarden Ball held at the Gallery U Boutique in Royal Oak, Michigan.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Flying Solo

Hey, did you vote for me yet in Skinny Scoop's Top 25 Mom Bloggers of 2012?  Please say you will.  Be sure to click the thumbs up icon next to my name in this link.  (Not just like all my lists, although that is great, too!)

 Alternatively titled: How This Weekend Kicked My Ass

There is something magical about this time of year when late spring gives way to early summer.  I can take a deep breath of fresh air and give thanks that I am no longer being held hostage by Calliou and My Little Ponies.

This enchanted season also marks the advent of Golf Season.  There are “business” outings, weekend get-aways, and college buddy get-togethers that all revolve around golf.

Most times I am totally cool with flying solo.  Sure it’s hard work being 100% on for 100% of the time, but dinners are a tad bit easier and there are special moments when it’s just me and The Babes.

Not this weekend.

I seriously think The Universe was testing to see how what it would take to break me.  Universe, you were successful.  I am not the yelling kind of mom, but this weekend I became what one might refer to as a “raving lunatic.”

It started with Marie’s end of the year school function on Friday night.  I tried to have fun with a plethora of word puzzle/scavenger hunt activities.  And I was really getting into it . . . until this one mom was all in a snit about the musical lyrics exercise.  Here’s what the worksheet looked like:

She said, and I quote (in the huffiest tone that is normally reserved for those sixteen and under), “We all live in a what submarine?  What is this?  How do they even expect us to know this?”

Please keep in mind, the “us” she was referring to was not the kids, but the adults.  I just blinked at her in such a way that I am sure I communicated, “Who the hell does NOT know this song by the Beatles?  There is a shirt sized 2T at Target with this lyric!”

And then there was The Bounce House Obstacle Course Incident.  This was pretty much pure anarchy minus the two teenagers monitoring situation.  Thomas was by far the youngest to partake in this Wipeout-esque debacle, which made me made me feel equal parts of both pride and fear.  When I warned him that this was his last time, therefore I thought we had an understanding. 

I was wrong.

He did not get out.  I had to get in to retrieve him while he promptly smacked me in the face.  W.T.F?!  Meanwhile Marie is yanking on my arm to open up her bottle of water all while the DJ is blaring Who Let the Dogs Out.

I was in the 7th ring of Hell.

I disciplined Thomas, and got out of there as fast as I could.  I got them bathed and to bed, and I tried to relax.  I decided to finally give Fifty Shades of Grey a real chance and see what my book club was all raving about.  I just ended up being super mad that Christian was a giant pig and Anastasia was a blithering idiot.

Friday night was an epic fail.

I could go on about how Saturday was a tad bit better (minus the kid who pooped in the pool during swim class, and the lifeguard who was not sure if she should close down the pool).  I could also say how these kids I don’t even recognize as my own acted like heathens at a lovely outing at a local gallery to make the cutest fairy gardens ever.  The way they focused on those cupcakes you would think that they are denied processed sugar. 

I gave up, went home, and turned on the sprinklers while I got our hot dog dinner ready.  And that made them the happiest children.

Note to self: during Golf Season, go easy on yourself.  Be sure to stock up on hot dogs, ice cream, and sprinklers.  And all will be right with the world.

How was your weekend?


Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Do You Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop My Kid Friendly To Do List for New York City


Can you believe it is the middle of May?  This can only mean one thing: it’s almost June.  Which can only mean that summer vacation is fast approaching. 

It will be so liberating when we don’t have to get up and rush in the morning, right?   I am going to bask in the freedom.

For at least one week.   And then I am going to start planning stuff because we will go crazy if we sit around all day with nothing to do.

And by we, I mean me.

Seriously, nothing makes me feel equal parts of happiness and anxiety as those magic words “summer vacation.”  (Actually, I am thinking of omitting vacation because it’s no vacation).

First thing on the agenda (besides staying in our jammies for a week) is going on a road trip to New Jersey and New York City with Harrington, the Babes, and my parents.  It’s the same trip I made with my Mom and the Babes when I first went toBlogHer, but this time the Babes are older, and the ratio of adults to kids is double this time.  So I am anticipating it will be double easy this time.  That’s logic at its best if you ask me.

Since I have family that lives there, I have a lot of cozy childhood memories that I am excited to share with my kids.  I love visiting my family in New Jersey and sitting around the breakfast table chatting all morning.  Also, the BBQs at my aunt’s house with all her kids and grandkids are the best!

I am super excited to take The Babes to New York City for the first time.  I have so many awesome memories there, like going to the MET and eating knish at Zabar’s.  I loved going to the Museum of Natural History and walking all the way up to the podium of the Statue of Liberty. 

I have made a Skinny Scoop list of all the things I want to do with The Babes when we go there next month. I would love to hear your suggestions of things to do with The Babes!  (Let’s hear it, Real Mommy Chronicles, because I think our relationship has evolved to the point that we must meet each other’s families, no?)

Are you getting excited for summer?  Do you have any exciting plans?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy 6th Birthday!

Just a few more days to vote for me at Skinny Scoop Top 25 Mom Bloggers of 2012.  Please please please vote for me!
Dear Marie,

I hope that you had a wonderful birthday.  I know that we got off to a rocky start.  You did not love your new bike . . . yet.  Just wait until you can throw a few Barbie dolls in your bike pack and zoom down the street to play with your friends.  There will be a time that you can’t believe that riding your hot wheels was your preferred method of outdoor transportation.  Just trust me on this one.

I think the Barbie themed party went off without a hitch.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the Just Dance Kids Dance Off and the seemingly unlimited amount of dum-dum lollypops and ring pops.  But the thing I will remember most was your request for crudité.  You have been reading Fancy Nancy Tea Party for about a month, and you wanted to have crudité for your birthday party. 

Crudité?  Not cut-up veggies.  Crudité. 

Not a lot of six year olds know what crudité is. 

Which brings me to my next point.  Yes, you are six in calendar years, but you are wise beyond six.

You really have the whole reading and writing thing down.  You write stories and create ideas for websites (usually with your own brand of characters you developed).  You design fashion sketches.

I’m so proud of you.  Being smart and focused - it’s a good thing.  But what makes my heart swell up with pride is the good person you are becoming. You are incredibly kind to others.  Not just because I told you to always practice kindness, but because you understand the importance of it.  I remember I was telling you that it’s OK to be proud of how well you do on your spelling tests, but it’s not kind to brag about it to others especially when they might be struggling.  You excused yourself from the table, got (yet another) Fancy Nancy book and turned to a page that showed Fancy Nancy taking her spelling test with ease while the other students were having a difficult time.

You innocently asked, “Is this what you mean?”

I replied with great admiration, “Yes.  That is exactly what I mean.”

I have yet to meet another six year old that is able to process her emotions and empathize with others quite like you.  I know plenty of adults aren’t yet where you are.

Like I said, you are wise beyond your years.  

Some of your friends get this, but others don’t.  Being smart and being able to communicate; it’s a blessing and a curse (believe me, I know.  And it’s another post for another time).

I couldn’t be more proud of you, and I feel incredibly lucky to be your mother.  So here’s to another year – may you always be true to yourself and may the light always shine bright in your eyes.

I love you forever,


Friday, May 11, 2012

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: My Top Tupperware Picks

Sorry this is a day late!  I am wrapping up theBirthday Season with the grand finale of Marie’s birthday party.  And if you have been following me on Instagram (which you totally should.  I’m erin_mommyonthespot), you have been watching me have a nervous breakdown since we decided the day before the birthday party would be the most logical day to install new carpet.

Before we get started, did you vote for me yet at Skinny Scoop’s Top Mom Bloggers of2012?  Please do and I will love you forever.  (Click "See More Suggestions", scroll down, and click on the thumbs up icon).

Also, did you see my debut post for Detroit News MichMoms blog?  Super excited about that.  Please give it some comment love, and I will forever appreciate it!

Anyway –

Remember the post where I wrote about my thoughts on Tupperware and other home parties?  I do think it’s super important to support women and their entrepreneurial ventures.   And if you are not familiar with the home party drill, it can start a cycle of endless parties.  Which is totally cool because I cannot get enough of the modular mates.  (When a new bag of animal crackers are all snug in its own compartment, it feels like all is right with the world).

So I now have a ton of Tupperware and using it like crazy, especially with all the yummy fresh spring vegetables I’ve been buying and parties I have been throwing.  Here’s a list of my favorite Tupperware products.  (Also, my Tupperware representative is the best!  If you are local, have her over for a party.  If you are not local, check out her website)!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

**I was not compensated for this post.  I bought and tried all of this by myself.  So there.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mom Guilt: Part 2

Before I start, I want to ask you to please please PLEASE vote for me here at Skinny Scoop’s Top 25 Mom Bloggers of 2012.  All you have to do is click, click on “see more suggestions,” scroll down, and give me the thumbs up!  Thanks so much!!

Also, did you get a chance to see my debut post atThe Detroit News MichMoms blog?  Please check it out!  I am so excited for this opportunity and would be ever so grateful for any loving comments you feel inspired to share!  (I don’t want to be that new kid who feels like she doesn’t have any friends, you know)?
Remember when I went to Texas in March?  Maybe not because I was too crazy dealing with the constant sickness that consumed the first three months of 2012 (along with some other random reasons).  During that time, my friend Annie from RealMommy Chronicles wrote a guest post that talked about the decision to be stay-at-homemom or a work-out-of-the-home mom.

Her post could not have been more aligned with the feelings I had during that trip.

To be brief, the Texas trip was a  I was stressed because poor Marie had been diagnosed with pneumonia just hours before I was supposed to board the flight.  I was so unsure what to do, but in the end I wrote down the medication directions and trusted that the grandparents could handle it.  (Although they did a fantastic job, I can’t say that I would make this choice again).

I was able to keep it all together . . . until the end.  On the plane.  With everyone from the conference riding together.

It was the kind of cry I couldn’t stop, and the more I stopped the harder I cried.

I think it came down to the stress of caring for sick kids coupled with the feeling that I was losing some footing on me and my goals.  I was nursing The Babes back to health.  I was supporting Greg at his conference.  And I was tired and overwhelmed.

I think what brought this all to the forefront was the fact that the president of this male-dominated field conference is a woman.  Not only is this woman the president of this conference, but she runs a company as well.  Oh, and she’s a wife and a mother of two young children.

I envied her.  To me she appeared free and successful.  However, she does have a live-in nanny.

And underneath my envy was the inevitable guilt.  Guilt for wanting something in addition to being a mother.

I am smart.  I went to college and have a degree.  I had a career (albeit not something that made me happy).  I even have a master’s degree.  It can be frustrating to always be in the supportive role when I know that I am capable of doing something different.

Here’s the thing, I don’t want a nanny lifestyle.  And I don’t always want to rely on my parents or my mother-in-law to take care of The Babes.  I know this time is fleeting, and I don’t want to wish it away.  Once their time as children has passed, there is no going back. 

But on the other side, being a full-time caregiver can be overwhelming, especially when there are sickies involved.  There have been times when I think it would be best to take myself off the stove completely; however, this will not make me happy.  I know it’s best to keep my goals on the backburner, slowly simmering gradually adding elements so when it’s time, I have a rich, well-developed place to start.

In retrospect, why was it easier for me to entertain the thought of taking myself off the stove rather than the guilt?  Why do I insist on torturing myself with this notion that having something for me is cheating on my family?

Do you ever feel mom guilt for wanting something in addition to being a mother?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: Me, Described in Food

It’s been a tough couple of weeks.  If you need to catch up, read here and here.  They pretty much explain it all.

However, there are some really exciting things going on, too.  For instance, did you see that I was spotlighted by Skinny Scoop?  How cool is that?!  Also, I am nominated for their top 25 mom bloggers.  Please please please PLEASE vote for me!!  I would appreciate it so very much.

But back to today.

Today, I just needed to do something fun.  I decided to focus on one of my favorite things that make me feel better when I am stressed: food!  I am totally excited that I have kept it in check and just didn’t dive into a freezer full of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.  So I took all my food fantasies and, instead of eating them, I made a Skinny Scoop list.  (Not as delicious, but way more fun and way less fattening)!

Do you have a tendency to eat your feelings?  What is your favorite comfort food?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Perhaps My Expectations Are Too High

Before I get to my rant of a post, I do have some incredibly good news.  First, check out this link.  (Go ahead, I’ll wait).

How. Cool. Is. That?!  I am so honored that Skinny Scoop spotlighted me on their website.  I definitely did my happy dance!!

You know what else would make me do the happy dance?  If you voted for me here.  Skinny Scoop is having people vote for their favorite mom blogger.  Please please please PLEASE vote for me!!  I would be ever so grateful. 

Ok so on to the rant.

Marie had her tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy on Friday.  I slept horribly the night before, but I wiped the sleep from my eyes and put on a game face.  And was able to keep it on for most of the day. 

Listen, I was already a wreck, but the day’s events, aside from the surgical procedure that my poor daughter was to endure, is what actually broke me and my hardcore game face.  

So before I  break it down bullet point style, I would like to preface with the fact that I have much respect for the medical profession and would love to join forces with them if I was more proficient in math and handling of bodily fluids.

  • I was uncomfortable that the staff kept asking me what procedure that we were having done.  I am sure there is a very good reason why for this, but to me, it communicated uncertainty. In a hospital setting, I prefer confidence. 
  • I was upset that the nurse forgot Marie's weight right after she was done weighing her.  She asked us.  Logically.  I didn’t feel right about the number.  Thankfully, I asked another nurse to confirm her weight and the measurement was adjusted.  You know, for safety’s sake when administering the anesthesia.
  • The waiting room was a disaster.  People were treating it as their personal office space.  This lady was talking as if she was the only person in the whole room.  I could tell you everything about her Godless church members just showing up when they need something.  I also feel pretty confident that I could walk into her office and find exactly where her special stapler is (I would not be surprised if it was a red Swingline stapler).  (Bonus points for those who can tell me what I’m talking about) I *may* have become so frustrated that I began talking over her while giving her dirty looks.  It boggles my mind that her behavior was accepted and tolerated.  Why?  Why is it that the majority of society is OK with this self-centered behavior?  Perhaps a post for another time.
  • Also, this couple was trying to run their website, yet had no idea how to operate a computer.  (As in they didn’t know how to close the tabs).  They were asking each other how this thing works.  Harrington said it best with this observation: “People need to get a license before they drive their computers off the Apple lot.”

  • The surgeon neglected to tell us that Marie should eat nothing red, as to not confuse it with blood if she were to throw up.  I reminded him and he was all, “Oh, yeah.  Nothing red.”  I will give you one guess what color Popsicle the nurse gave her after her surgery.  I can also say that I learned of this because she threw up.

  • After more than an hour of waiting, I decided to ask where my daughter was.  I was told that she was recovering from surgery.  They would find her nurse to ask if we could see her.  I don’t’ know, but an hour of waiting without hearing if my kid was OK was about thirty minutes too long for me.

  • When we finally were able to see Marie, the nurse said she was having a hard time recovering.  No other explanation was provided.  So I decided to probe, and she said that the nurse who was with Marie was too busy to talk.  Then she offered the supervisor.  When I did get to speak with the supervisor, she explained because Marie was thrashing around and trying to pull out her IV that the nurse could not leave her alone. Finally, the nurse suddenly appeared and confirmed this.  The supervisor said that the “take away” from all of this was maybe someone else could notify the parent while the nurse stayed with the child.  Um, that seems pretty obvious, right?  And for those keeping score, this is when I lost my game face.

  • The next day, Marie had a fever.  After waiting for over 90 minutes for the doctor to get back to me, he said it was normal and probably due to dehydration.  If that was normal, why wasn't it on the discharge papers?  It should be noted that “not using a tampon” was on her discharge papers.  (You guys know that Marie is only five, right?) 

  • When I talked to the nurse on Monday about her leaking nose, she went over a whole slew of discharge information which was not on the papers.  Her surgery was done at a regular hospital, not the children’s hospital.  But still, should the discharge papers resemble the same information?

Or are my expectations too high?