Sunday, June 29, 2008

I Would Love to Win the Lottery - But My Friends Are Worth More to Me!

For those of you who know me (either in "real life" or via my blog), I'm sure by now you have an inkling that housekeeping is not my strong suit. My house is not dirty by any stretch (now that grosses me out!), but I do have a ton of STUFF (be it mine, my hubby's or my daughter's) and I would say that I excel in the clutter department. But rest assured, sometimes the clutter appears neater than other times.

But lately the clutter has become out-of-control. And sadly, 98% of the clutter was my daughter's stuff - her crafts, games, toys, books, and puzzles were no longer kept to certain rooms and certain spots, but infesting almost every nook and cranny of the house. The craft spot and storage area no longer allowed her a spot to do the crafts as her craft area had misc. crafts and toys piled all over it.

My beautiful China cabinet was a display unit for all of her games and puzzles. . .are you getting the picture?

So, for the past few months it really started growing and really started bugging me. Then it started bugging some of my girlfriends and they started saying something. Then I would say to myself, "ok, have to tackle this today" and then I would get sick to my stomach and get overwhelmed as I looked around and had not a clue as to where to begin. So I'd leave it.

Then I decided the best thing was to win the lottery - then I could afford to hire one of those professional organizer people who would just tell me what to do (or maybe they would even do it for me!) and then if I really won the lottery I got excited because that meant I could hire a chef and personal trainer too and perhaps be thin! Wow - if I just won the lottery I would be thin and be able to de-clutter my home - how much better does it get than that???

Well - let me tell you, it got a lot better!

One of my dearest and closest girlfriends came over on Saturday with her 2 kids for a playdate (and she was one of my friends who just a few weeks ago told me that I had to do something about all of Allie's "stuff" before she had another birthday in July and then more stuff would be on top of the old stuff. . .) and her son asked if he could do a craft project. I said sure and as my friend and I went to the craft area to get what he wanted, she looked at me and said, "Ok, this is it! Today we are cleaning this all up!".

And guess what, for the next 5 hours we did just that! We donated bags of stuff to other friends with younger kids for things that Allie has outgrown (Allie looked at us in horror each time we asked her if she still wanted her Dora or Elmo or Wiggles coloring books and she said the 24-piece puzzles were too easy for her because now she does 63 and 100 piece). My girlfriend convinced me that I didn't need to keep each and every scribbling picture of Allie's from the past almost 6 years and that a small sampling of 100 were just fine and no one would go to therapy if I threw away the remaining 200 of them.

My girlfriend's 10 year old daughter was a godsend because she was so excited to help that when my daughter who looks up to her saw her helping, Allie wanted to join in the fun. And she is even less sentimental that I am, so with her approval we got rid of lots of "stuff". You know all those little dolls, musical instruments and other JUNK you get from free kids meals and teacher treasure chests and birthday party favors? I couldn't bear to get rid of that stuff - but Allie was mature enough to get rid of 2 banker's boxes worth of junk!

No, we didn't hold the kids captive to cleaning the whole time - they cleaned, they swam, they ate, they played Barbies. But my girlfriend stayed until the last piece of "stuff" was cleaned up - either put away or donated or thrown away.

So, 5 hours after my girlfriend came over, everyone ended the playdate happy (ok, for some the playdate is still going on as I kept her son for a sleepover. . .). My house became de-cluttered (okay, at least the family room and craft room did - we still need to tackle Allie's playroom) and everything in those rooms are put away neatly.

But mostly what I realized was that my girlfriend is worth more to me than any lottery winning could ever be. She recognized that I was overwhelmed and didn't even know where to start and she just jumped in yesterday with two feet and said we were going to do it together. I'd rather be poor and have to cook and clean myself if it means I get to have friends like this!

So girlfriend, you know who you are, I can't thank you enough for caring enough to help me get it done! And after you left yesterday, I realized, a persons' relationships are all they take with them out of this life, so make the most of them and be sure to show the people you love and appreciate how much they really do matter to you. So I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you and as much as I would love to win the lottery, I would always rather have you ringing my bell than Ed McMahon!

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

20 days of Giveaways from the Tip Junkie!

I am loving the Mommy blog world - another great giveaway that I discovered! It starts on Monday, June 30th - check out the rules and go enjoy! And if I don't win, I hope one of you do!!

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SITS Giveaway #2 - Brighton Bag!

I didn't win the bounce house for Allie, but how cute is this?? Go over to the SITS and check out their new summer giveaway! Good luck to you if you enter!

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank you to SITS !

Thank you to The Secret is in the Sauce Blog - they listed me as one of their Saucy Blogs !! Love you for it!

Please check out their blog as they have somehow become an amazing gathering spot for lots of Mommy bloggers and not only does it bring me traffic (can't lie - I'm loving that and appreciate it soooo much - now go check out my website and if you like what you see, click on to my membership page for Chit Chat for Mommies and join our Chatty Mommy Club - its FREE!!) but I have read so many fabulous posts on so many wonderful blogs - whether they make me laugh or cry, they all have something that you simply just "get" by being a Mom!

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Another Bloggy Birthday Party

Come visit - fun door prizes and giveaways!

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Yes! We Loved the Circus!!!

I'm so sorry - I didn't mean to leave you hanging. . .I received a whole bunch of emails asking me what happened. Someone actually thought it must have been so awful that I couldn't even bring myself to blog about it.

Actually, quite the opposite. We had a wonderful wonderful time and Allie was just in awe! Of course, true to her personality, if you ask her what her favorite parts were she will tell you all the gymnastic tricks!

But I didn't blog about our circus experience yet, because what struck me first and foremost is the simplicity and fun of the circus is extremely different than when I was a child. Not saying good or bad, just different and I think it deserves mentioning. But, I'll save that for another post - as soon as I get my thoughts together on that. . .

But for now:

2 tickets for the circus - $25.00

souvenir snow cone circus cup - $9

cotton candy - $10 (yes, you read that correctly. $10 for air and sugar - but it comes with a circus clown hat that even if Allie didn't adore and covet I could not avoid getting because they ONLY sold the cotton candy with that hat OR an upgraded clown hat for $2 more !)

Diet Coke - $6

Bottle of Water for my friend because she paid for parking - $5 (yes, I thought I was being kind to buy her water because she paid for parking - who knew I was buying liquid gold? I thought I stopped purchasing that when Allie stopped having the pre-made liquid formula!)

Lunch - $15

Cost of spending the day with my daughter and seeing her face at the circus - PRICELESS!!

And I have to tell you, for a total of $70 we had a whole afternoon of fun together - that is considered a bargain today! I would have spent that before I even left the house to get tickets to see Wiggles, Barney, Dora, HSM Concert was $150 (how many of you think I was absolutely sick in the head to pay $150 for Allie who was not even 4 1/2 and myself to see that a year and a half ago?).

So, there still are some good deals to be had!!

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Kind of Wife Would You Have Made in the 1930s?

I discovered this cute little quiz on Sherri's blog - which is a new blog I discovered today. Unfortunately, I didn't score as high Sherri did - but I'm sure it doesn't surprise anyone that I would not excel as a wife in the 1930's! Trust me - you won't find anyone doing housework in high heels and pearls in this house. . .

Why don't you take the test and let me know how you did - c'mon be honest! If moms can't be honest with one another, then who can we be honest with? And its not like we are comparing which reading level our kids are at. . .:-)


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

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Off to see the clowns. . .

Want to know one of the things I love best about being a Mommy? I get to do all of these fun things I loved as child!

We are off to the circus today (yes, playing hookey from camp -but that is what summer is for, right?) and we couldn't be more excited!

Allie has never been before and I can't wait to see the circus for the first time through her eyes. . .here is to hoping she has truly gotten over her fear of clowns. . .she promises me she has and she begged to go but this is the sole reason we have avoided the circus for all these years.

Stay tuned for details. . .

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday Toot - 6/24/08

This is a simple, but sweet Tuesday Toot. For the first time since school let out in May, Allie went to bed at a normal bedtime (before 9pm) last night and she woke up 11 HOURS LATER - very happy and excited to get ready and see her friends at camp. There were no arguments, no negotiations and no tears. We arrived to camp 10 minutes early and it was a very happy morning for the female members of Mommy Meryl's house.

Yes, not a big toot, but worthy of mention because most of our mornings never go that smoothly. What are your mornings like?

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Monday, June 23, 2008

A Sleepover Club

When I was pregnant, I was all caught up into waiting until I delivered to know whether I was having a boy or girl. I loved the whole concept of being surprised and all that went along with it - choosing boys and girls names, listening to all my friends' bets, oohing and aahing over little clothes for boys and girls, etc.

I have a secret to tell you - with all my heart, I would have been happy and blessed to have a boy or girl that was healthy; but, I was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ecstatic to find out I had a girl!

I think as soon as I was out of recovery (I had an emergency c-section with some minor bleeding complications), I began to envision my life with my daughter. . .shopping sprees, tea parties, sparkly shoes, dress-up clothes, manis/pedis and hosting sleepovers! I don't know about you, but sleepovers were a mainstay of my childhood. I remember rotating friends' houses over most weekends and then there were the wonderful birthday party sleepover parties (remember freezing your friend's bra ??? Oh, come on, admit it you did it! I'll admit to you, someone even did it to me!) that happened at various times throughout the school year. I couldn't wait till Allie was old enough to start having sleepovers - I looked forward to being that Mom that loved to plan wonderful sleepovers!

Sleepovers are such special time for girls - they get to bond in a way that you just can't do when you aren't in your jammies and snuggling with your favorite stuffed animal!

I know, some of you are thinking, what is she talking about - isn't Allie not even 6 yet?

Guess what? Allie has been in a sleepover club since October 2007 when she was just a few months into Kindergarten and it has been such a wonderfully special addition to her life. There are 4 girls total in the Sleepover Club and they are all girls we have known for quite some time as we all have known each other since the girls were in preschool together. One of the Moms and I have known each other since before we were even pregnant!

So to start with, all the families know each other and trust the parents without question (one Mom is the director of where all the girls went to preschool, another mother is a nurse in the ICU and another mother is a nurse and her husband is a doctor - can't be in much better hands than that!).

We rotate houses each month - so each Mom hosts the sleepover 3 times during the year. We bring the girls to the host house around 4pm on Saturday and that is where the fun begins! The girls have been to the movies (once to see Enchanted and once to see Hannah Montana), they have slept in tents; they have made pillow cases, nightshirts, purses and other crafts; they have done their hair and painted their nails and they have eaten lots and lots of yummy food - but most of all, they have had amazing evenings with their friends that can't be duplicated by a 2 hour playdate. They laugh and giggle and stay up late and wake up early and they can't wait to tell their parents that they stayed up all night and never went to sleep! They get to maintain their relationships with each other that began in preschool - despite them all going to different schools for Kindergarten.

Some of my friends think I'm crazy - they say Allie is too young. Why start sleepovers so early? I don't think you can put an age requirement on it - you know it either works or doesn't work for your child and it works for Allie. Allie sleeps through the night and she is excited by the whole process - she never gets homesick for Mommy. Allie had done a few sleepovers before we started the club and they always went well - be it at another person's house or at our house. Some of my friends think everything I love about the sleepovers sound awful - the chaos of 4 girls running around screaming, chasing, giggling, crafting, jumping, painting, and sometimes bickering (you just can't avoid that when you get chicks together sometimes, regardless of the age), staying up late, getting up early, making a mess, etc.

So really what you need to look at is your child. Every child is different and only you can decide whether or not she is ready to go to a sleepover. The question may even be, are you ready for your child to go to a sleepover? Our children are usually ready for new adventures before we are ready to let them go on them.

But you know what? I love it!! I love seeing the girls and spending time with them while we are all in our jammies and I am willing to trade a bit more sleep anytime for this type of "stuff". This to me is what being a Mommy is all about and even though my daughter only got 6.5 hours of sleep while at her Sleepover Club last night (I didn't host it, but I was told my daughter was the last one to fall asleep at midnight and that is only because one of the other little girls fell asleep at 11:55 - Allie could have chatted the night away, except there was no one left for her to chat with!) I can't wait to host it next month. . .

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Win a bounce house - very cool giveaway!

Check out the great giveaway the SITS girls are having! But please don’t win, because Allie's birthday is coming up soon and I really want to win!! :-).

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Knitting - it looks a little bit like my life. . .

I LOVE to knit. I mean - I don't just like to knit, I really LOVE to knit. I love the whole process involved with knitting.
First, I get excited about thinking what am I going to knit next? Okay, yes, for those of you who read my blog and know me I have done one poncho, I have been working 4 years on a blanket for Allie [okay, at this point I'll need to add more skeins of yarn to be an appropriate size and then it'll just drag out longer - maybe it will be ready for college!], I have been working 1 year on a felted purse and have made 900000000 scarves.

So I start with all the beginning decisions - deciding what I am knitting (and yes, even though most see me as only making scarves, there are sooooo many different ones to choose from), who I'm making it for, what kind of yarn, what colors, what kind of needles, am I going to treat myself and go to a fancy knit boutique to pick out some decadent yarn or am I just going to head to the closest craft store to pick up whatever jumps out at me?

There is something really exciting about picking everything out and coming home, getting in a comfy recliner and making that first slip knot and then casting on that first row of stitches. I'm almost like Allie is when she plays with a new toy - I'm just really excited to begin my project!!

I love to knit for so many reasons. I love the excitement Allie shows on her face when she gets a new sparkly scarf (okay, for a almost 6 year old who lives in Arizona, she has way too many scarves!) or when I give a scarf to one of her little girlfriends for their birthday. I love putting on one of the few scarves I have made for myself - I kinda feel like a little kid who gets to put their artwork on display on the front mantle! I also really really really love the fact that I can knit and eat at the same time - so I'm able to not snack for those few moments of the week when I knit.

I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I finish a project - unfortunately, just like my housework I have lots more unfinished projects laying around the house then I do finished ones! Sometimes I feel just as overwhelmed by my half-done scarves as I do by my half-done laundry piles (washed, not dried or dried not folded or folded but not put away - its sad when your daughter goes to the dryer to get our her clothes just as much as she goes to her dresser drawers!).
I knit in lots of different places - I always have a project in my car with me at all times (like when Allie was a baby, I always carried extra diapers and clothes in the car for her - you never knew when there was going to be a reason for it. . .). I knit when Allie is in her gymnastics class, I knit while waiting at the doctor's office, I knit it the car while I'm waiting for Allie in the car pick-up line at school, I knit at home late at night while watching tv if I'm not blogging, I knit when we go on long car rides, I knit when we get together for playdates at friends' houses now that Allie is older and the kids play by themselves and over the past few years my husband has had various minor surgeries (tonsils removed, a hernia removal and 3 sinus related ones as well) and because I knew he wasn't going in the hospital for anything serious, I relished the uninterrupted hours that I knew I would be trapped in the hospital and was lucky enough to have all those wonderful moment to just sit and knit.

Last week, I started a new scarf with an interesting pattern and began to knit while Allie was at gymnastics. I was trying trying to follow the pattern and busy counting stitches (my preference is just to stick with the straight free form scarf with no counting other than the first row I cast on so knitting can truly be mindless for me) when I made an "oops" and started to fix my mistake. It was then I realized that knitting was kinda like life. . .
While knitting my various projects, sometimes they end up being flawless and perfect and each stitch looks just amazing. And then there are the times where the patterns is really confusing, you keeping making "oops" and you either need to fix them yourself or take them into your favorite "knitting expert" and watch as they undo your last 30 rows and tell you that you need to start all over. Although wouldn't it be nice if life was like that too - just unravel your mistake/problem and start all over?? And the worst is when I don't realize I made an "oops" while knitting until 20 minutes of knitting has gone by and I hold up my project and realize I must have dropped some stitches because the scarf looks a bit lopsided now. Do I go back and start all over or do I just move on and decide I will have a pattern of increasing and decreasing the stitches so it looks like I knew what I was doing from the beginning?
I love knitting things for others - it makes me really connect with that person and think about them and my relationship with them. What would they want? What kind of scarf shouts out their personality? What should their yarn feel like? What colors should their scarf be? There is nothing I enjoy more then being around people and so knitting something for someone is a huge high for me.

Sometimes, its not about anyone else, but all me. One can often tell by the color or type of yarn what kind of mood I was in when I began the project. But just as in life when I put my own needs/desires before others, I feel guilty that I'm doing something just for me and I end up ultimately not finishing it and beginning or resuming to knit a project for someone else.
And just like life is a mystery, so is each knitting project. I begin with what I think I want and it will look like - but it always turns out a little differently each time - sometimes surprisingly better than what I had imagined and sometimes a little disappointing than what I had hoped it would look like.
More importantly than anything, with all if its twists and turns and knots in the road I love my life and I love to knit and I love the fact that I have all these wonderful and special people I have in my life to knit something for. . .because without a full array of people to knit for, my life would not be as wonderful. . .
And if you are one of my close friends reading my blog and wondering where your scarf is - I guarantee you its almost done - just like my laundry is . . .

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wow - Another Blog is Having a Giveaway!

Check out MJennings Designs, LLC for a great giveaway! They are giving away a single strand customized name bracelet!

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A Blogging Birthday Party

buttercup's berrie sweet blog bash

One of the most incredible "things" I have discovered about the world of Mommy blogging, is all of the fabulous blog carnivals, festivals, contests, giveaways and parties that different Mommy blogs host. Not only is a great way to drive traffic to Mommy Meryl (okay, yes, as much as I love love love blogging, I do hope more than my family and friends are reading/visiting my blogs and website and that you are all joining as members and visiting often!) BUT it has also been a wonderful way to get introduced to lots of other wonderful and amazing Mommy Blogs. So, with that said, Happy Birthday to Buttercup!! Please come by and join in all the fun - afterall, there are lots of great prizes!!

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Toot - 6/17/08

Why do kids often refuse to try new things? The answer is simple and same as adults - fear. Fear for any number of reasons and while sometimes the reasons seem silly to us, the fears are very real and valid to your child. I bet that one of your peers may find it silly that you are scared to do something too!

So, what am I "tooting" about on this Tuesday? My daughter!!

Allie is an interesting study in human behavior in that when she is first introduced to new situations, she is EXTREMELY HESITANT and slow to warm up. She is very cautious and she still has no interest in participating in extra-curricular activities if there is not at least one friend of hers that participates as well! But, once she is comfortable, she loves to be the center of attention. So, we are not just talking about the typical situation that a child is a little quiet in the beginning and then loosens up as time goes on; but rather polar opposite behavior in the same child based on her comfort level.

Well, as I have come to realize in the past week, my little girl is growing up!

First, she began her summer camp program last Monday and while she has never been to this camp before, I wasn't overly concerned that she would hold on to my hand for dear life at drop off (because she was not only going to be with 4 of her friends from preschool and Kindergarten, but she knew at least 4 other "big kids" [big, meaning 2nd grade!]) who were also going to camp. But, based on past behavior, I anticipated that she would be glued to the girls she knew and that she would be pretty quiet and an observer for the first few weeks. Boy -has she made me proud! She has loved camp from the get go and while she is ecstatic to be at camp with her good buddies, she is so excited to tell me all about her new friends that she has made. Every day she comes home with new stories of games she played, things she did, crafts she made and people she talked to. She is so excited about camp that when I pick her up, as soon as we get into the car, she can't wait to call her Daddy everyday to tell him about her daily camp adventures! I couldn't ask for an easier transition to a new camp!

Secondly, we spent the day at resort in Phoenix for Father's Day. One of the attractions is a 130 foot slide that is essentially a tunnel that is encased in a mountain side - not only can the participants not see the true picture of the slide you are about to go on, but when you ride the slide, you see nothing but pitch black at high speeds until the last 24" when streaks of sunlight cautiously start to appear. I knew, without question, my 5 1/2 year old daughter would not go on this slide - she would be way too scared! I didn't even have my typical feelings of hope and anticipation that she would try something new. Well guess what? SHE DID IT!! Wow, was I amazed! Was this winning a spelling bee? No. Did she skip a grade? No. Did she get 1st place in something? No. But in my book, she did something even more amazing - she faced her fear and did something new and loved it!! By the end of the day, she had not only gone on the slide gillions of times, but she was flying down the slide backwards, forwards, sitting, laying, etc. When the slide lifeguard realized I was her Mom (I'm sure he thought that no way could that chunky Mommy be that teeny-weeny athletic girl's Mom!), he was really cute as he told me that the slide lifeguards were simply amazed at her. They said she was the smallest kid they have ever seen mastering the slide with the same energy that she was! He even pointed out 2 8 year old boys to her that walked all the way to the top of the slide and chickened out.

You go girl!

And for those of you who are fortunate to have kids who just jump right into anything and everything and easily make themselves comfortable, perhaps you might not understand why I'm so proud of Alie.

Let me put it another way - self-esteem. While we can't feel it, it definitely affects how you feel. You can't see it, but it's there when you look at yourself in the mirror. You can't hear it, but it's there every time you talk about yourself. And after this week, Allie can feel a little stronger, see herself a little taller and hear 'I can do it' a little more convincing then before.

And that is why Allie gets my Tuesday Toot!

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

I Had The BEST Father's Day!

Yes, you heard me right. I know it's not about me. But honestly, I had the BEST Father's Day! It was exactly what Father's Day should be about - no stress, no worries, family, friends, relaxing, fun, good food and Allie catering to every one of her Daddy's needs. Not because she had to, not because someone told her to, but simply because Allie wanted to and no one can hold a candle to Allie's Daddy in her eyes.

And speaking of Daddies, I think the day should be changed to DADDY'S DAY. I think that captures the true essence of the day - not Father's Day. I mean, anyone can be a father (or simply a sperm donor), but it takes a lot more to be a DADDY!

A Daddy wakes up in the middle of the night with you, a Daddy clean ups after you threw up because it grosses Mommy out, Daddy knows how to read bedtime stories while snuggling with you just right, Daddies make you laugh, Daddies make your tears go away, Daddies sneak their little girls treats that Mommies don't know about, Daddies go to doctor appointments with you, Daddies take you to your first day of preschool because Mommy can't handle it.

Some Daddies are really loud and outgoing, some are quiet and more reserved. Some Daddies are really funny and love to be the center of attention, some Daddies like to blend in. But one thing all Daddies have in common - they love their kids, especially their little girls.

But, I digress. . .back to our Father's Day.

For the past few years, Allie and I go pottery painting so she can make something special for her Daddy! Sometimes she has picked out wonderful and practical things to paint for him (picture frames) and sometimes she has picked out little useless figurines that he really has no desire, need or use for, but yet she carefully chooses with tons of thought and lots of love and like the amazing Daddy he is, he oogles over it so she knows Daddy love it more than anything (like the year's ice-cream cone).

We went shopping this week to find Daddy the perfect cards and a small little gift. Allie fell in love with a singing Little Mermaid Card and a talking picture frame (I have to admit the talking picture frame was toooooo cute!). She worked for days on the "perfect" thing to say to Daddy in under 10 seconds before the recorder would shut her off. Her creativity boiled down to "You are the best Daddy in the whole world. I love you so much. Love Allie" - she was so nervous she was going to forget what she was "supposed to" say that she decided to write it down. And she repeated her thoughts verbatim - you can even hear the rustling of the paper on the recording! But yet, that is what makes the gift so totally priceless!

As we went to bed on Saturday night, the plan for Sunday after we woke up was that we were going to make Daddy breakfast in bed (the summer camp Allie goes to had the kids make cute little envelopes with coupons in them for their Daddy that ranges from washing the car to making breakfast in the bed [hey - did anyone ever consult the parents on these ideas? Washing the car? Allie is so excited to help Daddy with it - but I don't think my husband knows that a car can get clean in methods other than a car wash!]) and give Daddy his presents and then head out for our day. . .

As soon as we wake up, Allie has a different agenda. She wants to make Daddy a bracelet and matching necklace - she wants the necklace to say "Father's " and the bracelet to say "Day". In her world that is what makes a matching set. Who am I to argue? So - jewelry making went into high gear and for various reasons, we scrapped the necklace. But by 8:30 a.m., Allie had made a stunning bracelet for her Daddy that said "Father's Day" in lovely colors of pink, purple, bright blue, green, etc. I actually really love it - why wasn't mine that cute for Mother's Day????

So, Allie excitedly wakes her Daddy up around 9am - it was about all she could wait! After she pounced on him - they both opened up his Father's Day gifts - I couldn't tell who was having more fun - Allie or Daddy. Ok - no question - it was definitely me as nothing beat watching the two of them having so much fun together and clearly enjoying exchanging gifts and ooohs and aaaahs. So, after gift opening, my husband said why didn't Allie make his breakfast while he jumped in the shower- and just as I got finished taking all the ingredients out of the pantry and fridge, Allie had a look of horror. "Mommy - what is all that for? Aren't we just making Daddy cereal? This will take way too long." I guess I clearly passed on my distaste for cooking and baking to my daughter - for a moment I felt really guilty about that. . .but only for a moment as I was secretly thrilled I would only have to "cook" cold cereal.

But, before I could answer her she had disappeared - by the time I realized she was gone, she was back again and said "Daddy changed his mind - he wants to go to Einstein's for breakfast". I'm not really sure who changed their mind - but considering he was going into the shower, the breakfast-in-bed concept was lost anyways. . .

After breakfast, we headed out to the highlight of Father's Day - we spend the day at a local resort pool where we rent a Cabana and just spend the day lounging, soaking up the sun and playing in the pool. We traditionally share the holiday with close family friends of ours who have 2 kids - so Allie is in heaven and she had buddies to play with all day.

So for over 7 hours, we spent the day just having an absolutely amazing day together - no fights, no arguments, no melt-downs - just lots of love, laughter and water gun fights! By the time we all left the resort - we all said how it was the best Father's Day ever and we didn't want the evening to end - so we all went out to dinner together (I mean, we had to eat, didn't we?). At some point during dinner, out-of-the blue, Allie leaned across the table and kissed her Daddy on the cheek. For no reason. No reason at all. She just said "because I love you." And that sealed it - it was the BEST Father's Day ever, even for my husband.

And that is when I realized it. There is no relationship like a father and daughter. . .

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

There is Nothing Like Laughing With Your Child

No, I'm not talking about that cute little laugh that you and your husband/partner/friend do with each other when you see your child doing something cute or hear your child proclaim something that surprises you.

I'm talking about a good old belly laugh with your child - not at your child or about your child, but WITH YOUR CHILD.

I can't quite put my finger on why (the looser schedule of summer? the fact that she is growing older? the AZ heat?), but Allie and I have been sharing some amazing laughs together. Some really genuine moments of deep belly laughter that send both of us doubling over and sometimes cause tears and even at times you can hear one of us exclaim "Uh-Oh, I'm going to pee in my pants!".

If you promise not to tell her - I think I actually did pee in my pants yesterday. But then again I get droplets when I sneeze. But that is for a whole other post. . .

If you ask me now, I can't even remember what we were laughing about. Allie probably doesn't either. But the beauty of the moment was not lost on either of us - I think even at her young age of 5 1/2 she was feeling the same thing I was feeling -true joy and happiness at being with each other and just simply having fun. And to prove my point, she said to me tonight - "Mom, do you 'member we were laughing so much yesterday we both almost peed in our pants? Can we do that again?"

Allie and I laughing together is the only thing I need to remind myself that I should enjoy and appreciate our lives. This simple laughter that I shared with Allie reminded me of how fun life can and should be. I guarantee you that the next time you laugh with your child, take the time to feel it and connect with it and I am confident that within the sounds of laughter you might even find some of those meanings of life that you have been searching for.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday Toot - 6/10/08

After lots of late nights and early mornings and the tireless work of Amy at Sassy Pink Boutique Blog Designs, I am happy to announce the GRAND OPENING of MOMMY MERYL MUST HAVES!

Check out my way cool MOMMY MERYL MUST HAVES! Blog where in the most simple terms, I will be bringing to your attention lots of cool things that will be loved by moms and kids alike (or at least by Mommy Meryl and Miss Allie!).

We are kicking off the MOMMY MERYL MUST HAVES! Blog with a review of some of Allie's favorite hair clippies from Sassy Pink Boutique AND, Sassy Pink Boutique is sponsoring a great GIVE-AWAY! One lucky winner will get win 4 “Pick-a-Strawberry” hair clippies with Swarovski crystals from Sassy Pink Boutique and have it shipped to them completely free. The value is $15.00.

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Is Safeway "Safe"?

Well, I think we have arrived. Arrived where you ask? Arrived to "that place" - the place of deep questions by the child and no real answer from the parent. And while I am truly impressed by the complexity of her questions, I am truly frightened to know how I will handle them if they get any harder and any deeper.

So the other day we go into Safeway, our local grocery store. Now as far back as Allie could speak, she knew the name Safeway and as she got older and was able to recognize logos, she knew if we were at Safeway vs. Target vs. Walmart vs. Starbucks, etc. She has said the name Safeway and heard me say Safeway countless times throughout her little life. But until recently, she has never READ the word "Safeway". So, back to our little story - we go into Safeway and just as we are sampling the grapes (oh, come on, admit it - you never buy grapes either without test tasting them. . .) she stops and says, "ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I get it." And here is how the conversation goes from there:

Mommy: "Get what?"
Allie: "I get why its called Safeway"
Mommy: "Oh?"
Allie: "Its because its safe to be in here and all the food is safe"
Mommy: "Oh?"
Allie" "Yeah. So let's shop here always 'cuz its safe".
Mommy: "Oh honey, I don't think the other stores aren't safe. Its just a name, it doesn't mean anything. Like Albertson's is probably just a name - or Target or Starbucks. Safeway is just a name someone picked - it doesn't mean anything.
Allie: "Well why did they pick it then? No, I know, You don't say something if its not true. This is a safe store."
Mommy: "No, I don't really think so."
Allie: "Safeway is not safe? Is it dangerous?"
Mommy: "No, its safe, its totally fine. We are not in any danger - its absolutely safe."
Allie: "See, I told you. That is why its called Safeway. How come I can always know this stuff and you don't?".
Mommy: "I don't know Allie. But you are right, Safeway is safe. But so are the others"
Allie: "Then how come they aren't called safe?"
Mommy: "So, Allie, did you like the green grapes or purple ones better?"

Then, there was the God conversation (I'm assuming this won't be offensive to anyone as it has no religious undertones, only simply referring to God. If this is offensive, I apologize in advance as in no way do I intend it to be so.):

Allie: "What does God look like?"
Mommy: "What do you think God looks like?"
Allie: "Why are you telling me a question. Just tell me."
Mommy: "Well, maybe God looks different to everybody - so I just wanted to know what you thought God looked like before I told you my answer."
Allie: "I know why he looks different to everybody. Because he is a blanket. And not all parts of a blanket look the same."
Mommy: "Oh?"
Allie: "Let me tell you a 'xample. My Hannah Montana blanket is really big and it looks different on the top from the bottom."
Mommy: "Yes. . ."
Allie: "And God is everywhere and so if he is from here to Disneyland and to Canada the only way God could be all those places is to be a blanket. Right?"
Mommy: "I think that sounds excellent honey - God is a blanket."
Allie: "Mom, why do I always have to think of these things?".

Are you there yet? What questions have your kids asked you that stumped you the most?

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Chit Chat for Mommies Forum Posting Contest

The forum on Chit Chat for Mommies is in major need of some chatty Mommies!! Would you believe I have even received some emails from a few mommies telling me that they were looking for some help/support on various topics but that there was not much going on in the way of forum discussions and they were too shy to start any conversations?

So, let's get some conversations going and see what magical things can happen when Mommies start chatting away!

I am not above bribery!

Contest Begins: Saturday June 7, 2008

Contest Ends: Sunday, June 15, 2008

Here are the Contest Details: every time YOU spark conversation on the Chit Chat for Mommies forum (be it starting a thread or replying to a posting), your name will be entered in our contest. That means if you create 5 postings on my forum, you will be entered 5 times.

If You have a Blog and Want an Additional Entry: copy and paste the Mommy Meryl button on the left-hand side bar of this blog into a post on YOUR BLOG and blog about this contest and invite your readers to participate! Make sure to leave your link in Mr. Linky so we know you want an additional entry!

Prizes: Mommy Meryl is giving away 2 $15.00 gift certificates to Sassy Pink Boutique and 3 Starbucks Gift Cards! That is a total of 5 gifts at places that I know Mommies will enjoy spending their prize money!

How Mommy Meryl Will Know You Entered the Contest and How Many Times Your Name Will be Entered: Please leave 1 comment here with your user name that you registered with on the Forum and I will be able to tell how many posts you made. If you forget to leave me a comment here with your user name, unfortunately I will not be able to enter you in the drawing. If you leave your link with Mr. Linky I will know to add your name in the drawing one more additional time.

How Winners Will be Notified: Please Check this Blog on Monday, June 16th when the winners will be announced. The winners will be chosen by If the winners do not claim their prize within 72 hours of being posted, they will forfeit and a new name will be chosen via

Thanks for entering Mommy Meryl's contest and I can't wait to see what Mommies will be chatting about over the next week on the Chit Chat for Mommies Forum. So, grab your favorite drink (maybe a snack too) and head on over to the Chit Chat for Mommies Forum and spark some conversation.

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I Won! I Won! I Won!

Guess what - I won a contest from Lipstick to Crayon's Birthday Bash! I feel like a kid in the candy store because I never win contests!! I was whining to Amy, owner of Sassy Pink Boutique when I saw that she won!! So, yeah for me!

Oh - you want to know what I won? I won a $25 gift certificate to Hip Clips for Sassy Chicks - they have lots of cute stuff that I'm sure Allie will love!!

So for all you out there who think you don't win anything on these Blog give-aways and contests, take it from me - YOU DO!! So, make sure you enter one next time you see one! :-)

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Gushing With Love

My daughter woke up this morning very perky and happy because she knew one of her favorite babysitters was coming over to spend the day with her. I truly feel like this babysitter was a gem I discovered - she has boundless energy and is never without activities, games and crafts for she and my daughter to enjoy! Even today's swimming pool time was not just spent swimming - but they "pretended" they were teenagers laying by the pool waiting for Hannah Montana, Drake & Josh, Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad and all the people from iCarly to go swimming with them - and as they were lounging they were ordering food and drinks from the world's best waiter (our dog Pluto) and having a "fabulous" time by the pool, just as Sharpay does!! This babysitter has been with us for the last 4 years - this year she is going to be a Senior in high school and I know it is the beginning of the end as babysitting for little girls will long be forgotten when she enters college next year and starts on the next phase of her journey.

But, I digress as to why I was gushing with love. . .

When the babysitter showed up this morning, she had a large bag full of "stuff". She told Allie that she cleaned out her room and she found lots of special toys & books that she was too old for, but that didn't want to get rid of because they were special "things" and she wanted someone special like Allie to have them. It was at this point that I left for the day - Allie's babysitter told me the rest of the story when I came home later today. . .

After Allie oohed and aahed over everything that her babysitter gave her, she told her babysitter that she also had a surprise for her, but that she needed to go in the other room. Apparently Allie found a gift bag and started "shopping" in her bedroom for "stuff". When Allie finally came out of the room, a full 25 minutes later she was carrying a big bag of "stuff" that was bigger then she was, but her babysitter said, nothing was bigger then the smile on Allie's face. Allie went over to her babysitter and told her that she put some special presents in a bag for her because she was so special to Allie and that way she won't forget Allie when she isn't with her. And then she told her babysitter that she gets to keep a little Anissa at our house and so Anissa should keep a little Allie at her house.

As Moms, we always wonder if we are doing the right things and teaching our kids those important life values - to be kind, honest, warm, empathetic. Its little moments like these that comfort me, because whether Allie is simply wired this way or whether she has learned this behavior, its clear to me that she has a big heart and is full of love and making someone feel good is high on her list. When her babysitter shared this story with me, I felt a huge gush of love for Allie because I could sense how touched Anissa was that this little 5 1/2 year old wanted nothing more than to make Anissa feel just as special as Allie felt when Anissa gave her her bag of "stuff" this morning.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

If Kirstie Can't Keep Her Weight Off - What About All of Us?

Ok - I'm depressed. No, this is just totally depressing. I just have one question since this picture glared at me this morning from the AOL headlines - if someone in the public eye with all the financial advantages as Kirstie can't keep her weight off, how in the world can mere mortals like myself hope to keep my weight off?

I have a new theory - losing it isn't hard (after all, I lost almost 25 lbs on NutriSystem - which as far as diets go, I really love), but once I fell off (almost 2 months ago) I have had a hard time climbing back on my diet wagon again. And while I'm not in the public eye, it definitely is bathing suit season again. . .

So, because I don't feel like being personally responsible for my weight this morning (I know I am, but just go along with me, okay?), I am going to blame it on genetics. I am sure if someone digs deep enough and does enough research they will find that a thin person is truly dying to get out of us fat people, but we are either missing a gene or perhaps have too many genes. It simply can't be that I have no willpower. . .or can it?

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Tuesday Toot - 6/3/08

What am I tooting my horn about today? I'll tell you in 4 simple words - I LET IT GO.

For those of you who don't know, I live in Arizona and we are done with school and have officially started summer vacation. Allie doesn't start camp for another week and since school has been out she has had lots of wonderful play dates and done lots of fun things.

We love our neighbors - not only do we enjoy getting together with them for family holidays but our kids have fun together and its been very convenient to call upon each other for watching each others kids.

Over two months ago they asked me if I could watch their 3 kids on Monday, June 2nd as they were going to be getting back from vacation in the late afternoon. I of course immediately said yes. But as the day drew closer I was getting more and more nervous - I am used to one child who is a pretty easy going and compliant kid and because she isn't used to siblings, she doesn't like to bicker with her friends. I'm not saying she doesn't fight with her little girlfriends (because she does!), but she doesn't like to engage in that sibling-type bickering that quite a lot of kids do (and only because they are used to it and it probably doesn't phase them as much as it does mine). And we weren't talking about a play date - we were talking about THE WHOLE DAY!

So, as the day got closer I began to ponder about what in the world I was going to do with 4 kids (3 of them being siblings that do bicker with each other) from 9am - 5pm without everyone killing each other? So I decided the only thing that would keep everyone moving and not having any down time to kill each other was to plan every minute of the day. I had lots of activities planned: breakfast, crafts, baking, game playing, a movie, visiting the science center, swimming, riding bikes and scooters, lunch, snacks, I made sure there was not going to be a moment of "nothing to do" and I knew I had a 100% fool-proof plan for fun and no sibling bickering!

I even worked myself up to get really excited for Day Camp with Mommy Meryl! I woke up early and was raring to go at 8:45am when the kids showed up. Allie was on Cloud 9 because she had a whole audience of kids to play with her - not just Mommy today! Allie asked if anyone wanted to play Uno or Mancala with her and a sea of voices said "I do", "I will" -we were off to an excellent start!

Do I even need to tell you what happened by 9:10am? You can write the script from here. . .after breakfast and in the middle of my perfect "let's play a game now" plan, 2 of the 3 siblings started bickering. I intervened and thought it was handled. They they resumed playing and within 2 minutes, the bickering escalated to fighting and yelling and tears. Ok - activity change, clearly games are not working when all you hear is "you always cheat" and "why do you always have to go first?" and "you just went, its my turn!"!!

After once again redirecting the fighting, I excitedly asked them if they wanted to do a craft project? I heard every answer from "no" to "maybe later" to "not now" to "I want to do my Nintendo Lite" to "I want to play on Webkinz" to "I'm hungry again". And before I got a chance to answer every one's questions and comments, I looked around and they were all happily playing - maybe not what I had organized or suggested, but they were happy and playing and not arguing. And so you know what I did? I LET IT GO!!

Yes, Yeah for Mommy Meryl! I scrapped my schedule and just decided to let the chips fall where they may and you know what, we had a GREAT day! The kids did a lot of vegging, playing, hanging out and we decided to go to a community pool for a couple of hours(we have a pool but it doesn't have a "cool slide" or 3 diving boards or water play structures) - a change of scenery always does wonders for everyone's spirits! When we came home from the pool, we still had a couple of hours before their parents came home and everyone was just really happy playing and enjoying each other.

So, good for me, I LET IT GO and after I did that - we all were relaxed and had a beautiful day!

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Are You Dating a Man or a Minivan?

That was one of my favorite quotes from Sex and the City - what Carrie says to Miranda when Miranda tells Carrie that Steve is safe, comfortable and predictable and that is one of the things that she loves about him.

And guess what - I could write a whole blog on all the wonderful quotes and scenes from Sex and the City (do you know how many times a week I think about the time Miranda threw a cake away in the garbage and took it out to eat it again to only throw it away one more time, but this time pile more garbage on top of it so she can be assured she won't go into the trash to binge on it again?).

They're baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!! I have been counting down the weeks to the Sex and The City Movie and I finally saw it today and LOVED LOVED LOVED IT!! Did I mention - I LOVED IT!!

I'm so annoyed with the random newspaper reviews that say its nothing more then a bunch of tv episodes and it can't stand alone as a movie -WHO CARES??? I loved the tv show Sex and The City and it felt like a reunion with my good friends as I sat in the 2 hour plus movie - I left the movie wanting more!

If you aren't a Sex and The City fan - will you love the movie? Probably not. But do you know what? The movie wasn't made for you - it was made for me! It was made for me and all the other people who love Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte, Big, Aidan, Steve, Smith, Brady, Magda, Alexander, Harry, Standford, Anthony, and Carrie's ever-amazing shoe collection!

Yes, my good friends were back in the highest of heels, thinner then ever, wearing the coolest clothes and living their amazing lives in NYC (ok, Samantha was living in CA, but as we come to find out in the end, was she really living when she wasn't in NYC?) - but when you strip those "things" all away, you know what? This was just a really good movie with a happy ending and a few good tears shed along the way.

This was not a movie about sex as much as it was about LOVE. Searching, finding and hopefully holding onto love - love for your kids, your partner, your family, your life and maybe most importantly, yourself. As we all live really busy lives and find ourselves multi-tasking each day and tackling those bumps in the road, our connections with each other and ourselves remain the most important ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life - I think even Carrie would agree that she has a little more kick in her Manolo Blahnik's with Mr. Big by her side.

So,while I will probably never be as lustful as Samantha, philosophize as well as Carrie, be as kind and nurturing as Charlotte or as career driven as Miranda, I do know that I do have something in common with them that is even more important. I want to love and be loved and I'm so grateful that I am surrounded by lots of love - from my daughter, my husband and my amazing friends. And while I am pretty confident that I'm not going to make homemade sushi and decorate my naked body with it as I wait for my husband to come home, I can tell you that I'm really lucky because I do have my own Mr. Big.

And by the way, BAGBORROWORSTEAL.COM is a real website!!

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