Being Savvy in DC with Little Ones

When you live in a large area like the DC area, it can be overwhelming to find the right things to do with your children. Living in Alexandria is a whole world away from Silver Spring. Living in Reston means never having to drive into the District or down to Springfield. When wanting to get out of your normal area, it's important to get information on museums, parks, playgrounds, etc. before making the trip across town.

I love this new site Being Savvy: Washington DC. It's part blog, part local resource for things to do with with small kids. As a bonus, the site links to other cities, which is just perfect for vacationing with toddlers/preschoolers. So if you're visiting Atlanta this summer and need things to do with kids or moving to Austin, you have a wealth of information in one location. As a bonus, I'm featured today on the DC site since my friend Tech Savvy Mama is the editor for this site.

In addition, the site offers preschool information for almost any major area in the country, including registration deadlines, tuition prices and reviews (you have an opportunity to review as well). I wished I'd known about this while I was doing preschool research.


I Need More Sleep

I'm not one who does well on little sleep. I didn't do well when my kids were little. Alex, luckily, started sleeping through the night at three months--to bed by 6:30 p.m. and he'd be up around 6:30 a.m. No wake ups. No fuss. Anna never followed that route and she didn't sleep through the night until eight months old. She has always been an early riser and never needed as much sleep as Alex.

But lately, I have been envious of friends whose kids sleep in. When I say sleep in, I'm talking about 8 a.m. or so. In this house, sleeping in for mom and dad is 7 a.m. (and it almost never happens). My daughter wakes every morning between 5:45 and 6:15. (Thank God my husband is the one who usually gets up with her). I would do anything to have her first peep wait until 6:30. With Alex we trained him to look at the clock and lie quietly in his room until 7. He started doing this at about 2 1/2 years old. While Anna can tell the time on her digital clock, she has no desire to lie quietly in her room. When she's up, she's up and expects us to do the same.

Friday night my husband put the kids to bed later since I was out babysitting for a friend and it was...well....Friday night. So between 8:30 and 9 they were asleep. Both kids woke up well before their normal time ready for the day. Yesterday, it was a repeat performance.

It's not like I want to sleep until 9 or 10 a.m. But it would be so nice to wake up before the kids do and not be awakened from a dream or from a deep sleep. You'd think by the time kids were three and four-years old you'd recoup some of those lost sleep hours. Not yet. With both kids not going to bed until 8 or 8:30 most nights, I'm whizzing through evening activities of checking email, cleaning up, folding laundry and getting ready for the next day. But I have to be mindful and get to bed early enough to greet my wee one early. Doesn't leave much time for much else since I'm usually in bed by 9:30.

With hubby out of town, I'm back to doing nighttime and morning duty. And it's clear today--in all my grumpiness that I really need more sleep than this!


What is the Goal Here?

When did my kids get so smart? With Alex it was sometime between age 3 and 4. I don't know when, but suddenly he's able to outsmart, outwit and outrun me. Anna is on the verge of getting there too. She'll learn from the best, for sure.

I won't go on and on about the little things he says like: "We have to wash our hair to get the chlorine from the pool out of it. Mom, did you Chlorine is an element on the periodic table?" No shit, kiddo. Oh, he can also tell you the symbol for it.

This morning I caught Alex doing "workbook" with Anna. Yes, I am one of those mothers who buys summertime workbooks to keep my kids busy at the table while I clean up dishes or get dinner on the table. I don't push it, but they love them! So we all sat down to work on the infamous workbook together and lo and behold, my son knew how to read the words: truck, car, plane, train and bus along with a few other ones I didn't know he knew. But I won't go on about that.

But the funniest thing I've heard in a long while was the negotiation at dinner the other night. He's always been--like most kids--a master negotiator. You give him 5 minutes until bedtime and he'll talk you into 8. He clean his plate down to just the right amount in order to get dessert. So upon chowing down a dinner of pasta, chicken and broccoli, my Mr. Smarty Pants looks down at his plate and says: "OK, mom. What's the goal here to get dessert?"

I'm sure my chin hit the floor. Goal? Do you even know what that means? Apparently he did. Apparently he knows it has two meanings which he went on to explain to me. But he quickly finished and then came right back to inquiring about dessert.

He got dessert after achieving his goal.


And She's Off . . . Into the Water

Trial and error seems to be, unfortunately, the way we learn as parents. From day one whether it's about how your baby likes to be nursed or whether they want to sleep swaddled, we go through the days and weeks trying new foods, new schedules, new tricks to get our kids to sleep or bribes to get them to go potty. Parenting isn't only about our kids, it's also us learning as we go. I feel with each stage I get smarter as a mom, yet my kids always put me back into my place.

So, we're back to the swim topic again. Yesterday after our disastrous class, I decided to lighten up. I took her to the pool again in the afternoon and watched her do--on her own--all the things her instructor had asked her to do four hours earlier: face in the water, kicking, floating on back with a noodle, etc. She did it all on her own without the tears. So what's a mom to do? Instead of obsessing about it all evening and this morning, I just let it go by until we got to swim class.

Anna told me she would not swim with Andy and that she would cry if I made her. I told her, 'I will come with you, but we're going to ask together if you can switch to the other teacher.' And we did. And she did. They agreed it would be best. And do you know what? I now am the proud mother of a little Starfish. She couldn't keep still. She was kicking and putting her face in and splashing around better than anyone else. She needed someone she was comfortable with. She kept looking back at me and squealing with delight.

Trial and error. We do, we learn, we make mistakes, but in the end, I think we usually figure it out.

What Moms Really Do at the Gym

I'm over at DC Metro Moms today. Check it out (feel free to comment) over there.


Battle of the Buckets and Bubbles

Today was day three of the swim lessons. Anna and I had a pep talk this morning about what she was expected to do: go into the water, play the games and not cry. She didn't have to put her head under the water. She just had to play. She agreed and I went on to bribe both kids. I have no shame. The deal was, listen to the teacher, play the games the best you could and each would get a lollipop afterwards. Alex was revved up about the lollipop for sure. Anna agreed she could try.

We get there and she checks out the situation. Her instructor Andy is with another class. She talks about Andy and decides he's OK and she's going to play. Her class begins and she walks right on over and gets into the pool. The first activity: pouring water on their heads with a bucket. Did Anna like this? Nope. Did this help Andy win over Anna? No way! She screamed and cried and fussed. She stayed in the water for a bit, and then got out and sat and cried some more. She cried so much I finally had to go over and hold her hand to get back into the water and they stayed there.

Andy tried to get her to blow bubbles--which she will do--but she emphatically said no! "I will NOT blow bubbles for you!" So here we are. Almost halfway through swim lessons and Anna refuses to participate. Money well spent, I think.

He has asked me to send her back tomorrow, and he'd try to have the other instructor work with her instead. But I think this might be a wash. This my Anna. One who doesn't give into peer pressue. One who does what she wants to do. One who wants what she wants. What she wants is not to have anything to do with swimming, at least not with Andy.

Is this fear of the water or is this a power play game?


The Swim Wars

There are the mommy wars and the potty wars, but these days I'm facing the swim wars.

As we've done with potty training, my daughter is fighting me tooth and nail about the pool. What kid doesn't love the water? Well, many I suppose since I was one of them. I didn't learn to swim until I was 10, and I taught myself. I had swim lessons before that, but for some reason I was stubborn or my parents didn't push it or I didn't respond. But I will not let this be my kids.

It's awful to be the kid at the pool who can't swim. I'm not talking swimming properly, I'm talking staying afloat.

So, needless to say, it pains me watching one of my kids not enjoy the water and be stubborn as well.

Alex grew up in the water. His first jump into the pool was at four months. From there he learned to love it or at least tolerate the luxurious pool living of Qatar--meaning the cleanest and most perfect temperature pools you'll ever know, with a pool-side bar.

He has progressed at a reasonable level and I hope by the end of the summer--at 4 1/2--will be swimming without assistance.

Anna, however, is another matter. Her definance in the water is like that with most everything. Phrases like "I will NOT go under the water", "I will not ever swim", "I need you to hold me" scare me a bit into thinking, will she be 10 years old and unable to swim?

Today at her swim class when the instructor put her in a little time out for not listening about not climbing on the railing, she then refused to do anything--no sitting in the water, no face in (which she will do), no kicking feet, no swimming with the noodle. Her response was to refuse to participate. She sat on the side of the pool for 25 minutes and seemed pleased with her tactic the whole time.

I told her that tomorrow she needed to at least go in and play the games and at least try. Afterall, swimming is not like ballet, soccer or gymnastics. This is not optional. Learning to swim is survival and is mandatory in our house.

So this afternoon, I slapped on the swim arm floaties and we headed to our pool. I decided I couldn't have her scared of the water--even it meant using flotation devices to get her there. Then we followed up with a bath, complete with water over her head. She cried and then exclaimed that getting her head wet was fun.

Can we transfer this excitement to the pool tomorrow? Any tips are appreciated.


Summertime Friends

I'm totally into summer mode now. I actually think I'm starting to love it. I do believe I was tainted by summer from living in Austin and then in Qatar. No place should be over 100 for more than a few days. Ugh.

Besides the pool, popsicles, and carefree days, the other thing that summer brings is new friends. Do you remember summertime friends when we were kids? The kids who didn't go to your school. The ones you met at camp. The ones you met at the pool everyday. The ones that you never wanted to 'be seen with' at school. The ones who were either too old or too young. Summer brings a whole new crop of people to get to know who are out of your normal routine and off your regular path.

You know what? It's the same when you're all grown up! I had no idea how the kids' school schedule limited us from certain friends in my circle. With kids in school three days a week at one school, I hardly get to see some of the ladies that I really enjoy spending time with. Some have kids with different nap schedules and some just have lots of kids to get out the door. Summer gives us the flexibility to see more people more often in different settings. They're the ones that live across town, who have new babies or older kids in school.

We're going to take full advantage of our changed routine to catch up and meet with some summertime friends--for both me and the kids.

And, yes, I know all too well that when fall comes again, we'll go back to our routine of school, and the summer friends may fade back into distance until the next summer.

A Perfect Walk

Yesterday when meeting up with several moms from my mom's group, I made the last-minute decision that we'd walk the mile to the playgroup instead of our normal drive. It seems silly to drive when I noticed the actual mileage was about .9 miles. What a waste! But with two young kids who don't sit in the stroller, it often limits us on transportation.

The weather is perfect here for walking so the kids agreed to ride in our red wagon. Not really knowing how long this would last, I was fully prepared to turn around at anytime, but surprisingly, they loved it.

As we walked we had great conversations about the things we saw. The kids didn't seem to be rushed to get there, although I must admit pulling nearly 80 pounds of kid got old fast. But as we have another event this afternoon--also less than a mile away--I think I might opt for another walk today.

We walked to be green, to enjoy the fresh, to have some conversation and get some exercise. Look at the gas we saved!


The Next Birthday

So after the whole "keeping it simple" for Alex's birthday, I decided to try a little harder to keep it simple for Anna's birthday, which is in exactly one month. Yikes! How did that creep up on me?

I had all along decided we'd do Anna's party at Frying Pan Park. She is crazy about the farm and I was sure a small party there would be perfect. Well, after I figured in possible heat, heat, heat in mid-July I scratched that idea. After Alex's party in March at the playground, complete with costumes, Anna declared she wanted the same party and the same playground. While that playground is very shaded during the day, it may not be enough for the July heat + humidity.

But my friend Amy did it perfectly with her pool party. After we attended her son's birthday on the hottest day so far this year, I decided this was my safest choice. Pool to keep cool. Cake for everyone. It was easy to reconvince Anna that this would be the 'best' thing. I mean, c'mon, she's only three. She agreed the pool party was fabulous, and she, too, wanted one. I love how we're able to redirect kids at that age.

So a pool party it is! Just think of how easy party favors will be.

With each birthday party I host, I learn new things. So while it was so fun to have all of Alex's class at his party, I think we're going to opt for a smaller party this time, with just her closest friends (Read: four little girls). The only issue I have is the party will be held at the neighborhood pool. My solution: enough cake for our good neighbor friends who happen to be there at the same time.

Stay tuned as I'm sure more birthday party politics will arise.

Summer Has Kicked In

They don't call it the lazy days of summer for nothing. Alex's first camp is over and it left me little time to blog or get anything done. My inlaws have left and I'm getting back into the routine from that. But the problem seems to be my will to do the day-to-day business. We get up and hang out. We run a few errands and come back for a rest. Then we head to the pool. There's the problem.

All afternoon at the pool. We race home and I managed to figure out some kind of meal that's not too nasty for my kids to eat and then it's bedtime.

When do I get all my stuff done. The laundry lays in big piles to wash, fold or put away. The dishes are everywhere. The house is a mess. Somehow summer off for them means summer off for me. Forget about blogging, who has the time.


The Pregnancy Test

This morning I woke up feeling sick to my stomach. Nevermind the fact that my period is a few weeks late. I suspected it was due to a change in pills that didn't seem to be working right in the first place, but after a chain of events, I thought it is possible I could be pregnant.

My husband prides himself on suspecting my previous pregnancies before I even took a test. So a few days ago, when he suggested I might be pregnant. I blew it off. Yesterday I asked my kids what they thought dad might want for Father's Day. Alex's response, "Daddy wants another boy!"

So when I woke up feeling sick, still lamenting on my lack of period, I thought, well, maybe.

During morning errands, I stopped in at CVS to pick up a pregnancy test. Suddenly I realized I liked the idea. I might be pregnant! I had a spring in my step as we passed Whole Foods. I looked into nearby Right Start and thought how much I loved the baby stuff in there, but we've moved passed needing things in there. Maybe, I thought. Maybe we're here again. I like it. We walked to the bookstore and I started talking to a woman with three kids--one who nursed right there. I miss this, I thought. Am I crazy??

Life has gotten so easy now. Two kids. No diapers. No wipes. No bottles. No fuss.

I came home and took the test. I remember the days long before Alex was born where I prayed so hard the test would be positive. I would turn the test to catch the light hoping for the faint line of pregnancy.

Today....there was only one line. Instead of tossing it away quickly like I've done the last two times we've had a scare, I looked a few more and even turned it a bit just to check before I threw it away. I sat down and realized I was sad.

I Can't Process All the Photos

I'm over at DC Metro Moms today blogging about photo organization....or lack thereof.

Oh, the Ice Cream Truck

I'm sure my memories of the ice cream man are not the same of my parents. I do believe the ice cream man was as well known as the mailman, but perhaps I'm wrong.

Growing up in Texas, I can remember the ice cream man coming down our street and always stopping right in front of our house. I think we must have been the hub for all the neighborhood kids. We used to keep spare change in a jar and every now and then if I wasn't already in bed, my mom would let me get something. But most of the time, I remember watching the neighborhood kids cashing out on popsicles around 7:30 or 8 at night. Yes, I was already in bed.

My kids don't know the ice cream man, yet.

Tonight was my first confrontation with him. Damn that ice cream man. We were at the pool and up he pulls blaring his the recent traditional ice cream man song: Scott Joplin's The Entertainer.

My kids stop and look. Inquisitive. Stunned. Suddenly they realize that out of this truck comes--none other than--ice cream. To my kids, I think its as if I suddenly discovered money grew on trees.

I hear my son say: Mom it's the ice cream truck. Look at that!

No, no, I tell him. He's not selling ice cream. Only broccoli and carrots. It's the farmer's market truck.

My son is no fool!

"No, mommy! Look, it's ice cream." I remember a friend telling me her mom had told her that the ice cream man played music only when he was out of ice cream. Cruel, yet clever.

We managed this time to bypass the ice cream man. But I imagine as my kids grow up, my days of making up fibs to avoid him are over. I imagine that we'll be keeping a jar of spare coins--or probably bills (I'm sure the price of ice cream coincides with the price of gas)--ready so we can dash out to meet him.


Sweet and Sour Chicken, Please

Summertime means I'm no longer in the mood to cook. My tiny house heats up with the stove and/or oven to a very uncomfortable temperature--even with the AC on. We're out too late at the pool anyway, and that means dinner is a mad dash to the finish line.

Our eating-out rate tends to increase during the summer months. After we get tired of the same old kid-friendly places, we venture to some more interesting, "worldly" establishments. But how do I manage my two preschoolers in a restaurant? After reading this post last week, I realized there is a resturant type that caters to kids. It's not McDonalds or Chick fil' A or Chuck E. Cheese's. It's your neighborhood Asian restaurant.

It wasn't until the last successful night out with the kids that I realized the trick.

Asian restaurants (some, but not all) provide the following:

--Fish tanks with fish or live lobsters. This alone can take away some of the pain of waiting for food to arrive.

--Staff which tends to be a bit older and friendlier towards kids.

--Chopsticks, fortune cookies and fried foods.

--An assortment of meat and rice/noodles. Most which kids will eat. (Stash in some extra packets of ketchup and you're golden!)


Sweating for the Cure

On Saturday, I rose at 5:30 a.m.--really it's only half an hour earlier than Anna normally wakes--to meet five other DC Metro Moms at the metro station for our journey into town. The Race for the Cure started at 8 a.m. and we were up, ready to walk and donning our new "I'm blogging this" shirts (which we actually changed into on the street corner) from Baby Brewing.

Hot and sweaty before we even arrived since this weekend, we had a heat advisory of well over 100 degrees, we bypassed the runners start since we got there late. Had I known Condelezza Rice and Cynthia Nixon were there perhaps I would have run, which was my original intention.

But the ladies were fun so I decided to just let my ambitions to finish the race in 30 minutes go. We walked and sweated and sweated some more. Some, like Julie (who bravely did this walk with all three kids) ended up carrying two of hers the last mile or so and Jess, seven weeks from her due date, endured the heat without so much as a complaint. Also joined by Andrea, Devra, Jean, MamaBird, Jessica, Jodie, Leticia, Nancy, Robin, Sandie who all walked and donated more than $2,000 for the cause.

The best part of the day: brunch afterwards.

Getting Our Feet Wet

Here we are. Two weeks into mysummer and the pool is in full swing. The pool--like birthday parties, playgrounds and school--brings on its own version of politics with certain "rules." There is so much more involved in the pool than just water a few pool toys.

Background: My kids are four and almost three. Last year as summer concluded, my oldest was this close to learning to swim, but with the break from the pool he's scared as anything to get in the pool or even get his face wet. As much as I said I would never resort to floatation devices (arm bands, life jackets, etc.) I find myself wishing I was one of those moms who could quickly acclimate her kids to the water. My kids are terrified of the water. No matter how many games we play and how much kicking, bubble blowing or jumping off the side, my kids are scared.

So why does this bother me? Because it is me. I remember taking swim lessons at the YMCA when I was five and being terrified. I hated it except for lunch which was always PB&J with Fritos. Oh so yum. I remember being sad in elementary school because I was afraid of the water. I couldn't do the big pools, couldn't do the diving boards and just couldn't have fun because I couldn't swim. I finally taught myself to swim when I was 10. I'm a terrible swimmer today but I can swim. Couldn't save my children out in the ocean, but then again, I don't like swimming where seaweed tangled on my feet is a possibility. But I digress.

Moving into pool mode is like getting into the swing of school or even getting used to a new work routine. The kids haven't been in the pool for 10 months. In a little kid's life, that's a long time. I have to remember in those 10 months they've grown and changed in more ways than I can imagine and with that comes new fears.

The pool is a fine balance. Being careful to make the pool safe (which is of course the number one priority) it has to be mixed in with fun and yet, still consideration for other people.

--You can splash at the pool. Yet some will disagree that little kids and adults sitting on the side shouldn't be splashed. This is ludicrous. If you're in the pool, you're fair game. If you can't take the water, get out of the pool. Granted it has to be within reason. Obviously my four-year old splashing after people say 'no' is not acceptable. Balance

--You can scream at the pool. Yes, it's outside. Yes, it's fun. But if you scream too much and the lifeguards think you're in trouble then you have problems. Balance

--You can eat at the pool. Yes, you may have just had a huge lunch or even just finished a snack, but walking into the pool area will immediately invoke the feeling of hunger. Food must go to the pool. And there must be enough to share. Balance.

--You can bring floatation devices to to the pool (well, some pools). This does not ensure your kids will not drown. You must watch your kids at all times even when they appear to be safe. Balance.

--You must have fun at the pool. Kids learn to swim to have fun and be safe. But many find learning to swim not fun.

We're getting our feet wet here in the first few weeks of summer. We're re-learning to rules of the pool and how to splash--but not too much; how to have fun--but without drowning; how to fill our bellies--but not too close to dinner; how to yell and scream--but not loud enough to make the guards jump in and save the kids.


Bye Bye BPA Bottles

I'm really surprised when I hear about people who are not motivated to purge their 'toxic plastic' baby bottles.

The only question here is 'Why would you risk it?' As a precaution, wouldn't starting with new bottles be a safer and cheaper alternative to...well, the possible alternative. As a mother who fed both her kids on Avent bottles--both heated, dish washed and microwave--if I could go back in time, I certainly would.

Turning our backs on the information we have is ridiculous. Look at all the other things we do as a just-in-case measure.

1. We vaccinate our kids. What are the chances our kids will get polio or the measles, but we still give them the shots to protect them and take the fear out of the population.

2. Not drinking during pregnancy. Few studies have been done about what a drink a day during pregnancy will really do, but we refrain anyway. Well, most of us. :-)

3. Not feeding your kid peanut butter before age 1. Really? We do it and fret at their one year birthday as we let the PB&J sweep over their lips. Who made up this rule?

4. Putting kids to sleep on their backs. We all slept on our tummies. Yet we listen to the recommendations and fight our children's natural instincts to sleep on their belly.

Studies, studies, studies. Studies prove this and disprove that and yes, we often get sucked into believing whatever we are told. But if you're given a chance to make a change as simple as what you drink out of, why wouldn't do you it.

I understand Babies R Us is taking back Avent and Dr. Brown bottles for a limited time and offering cash credit. My girlfriend went yesterday and picked up $63 in credit for her old bottles and managed to buy BPA-free ones there. The last four three-packs they had in stock. When you talk about the extra things we spend on our children these days, taking the extra steps or paying a little extra for safer bottles is worth the money.


Where Were the Lifeguards?

I decided we'd brave the 'big pool' yesterday. Alex has been showing signs of being afraid of swimming and going under water. I bought a small ring/tube for Anna to use, but Alex showed some interest immediately in using it for swimming.

We started off well. He was going the whole length of the pool and then he lost his balance and went head first under the water. I saw it happen out of the corner of my eye while I was watching Anna. I screamed and jumped in. He was struggling to get up as the tube was keeping him from getting his head up. I pulled him out crying. Looked around and not ONE of the three lifeguards noticed this before, during or after.

Lesson Learned: Always, always, always be within reach of your kids in the water and ready to act.


First Day of Camp; Ahhh...Summer

So after my post last week about anticipating summer, I thought I'd let you know how it's been going so far. Well, I'll sum the past week up in four little words 'Summer Camp Started Today!'

After a week of no routine, no schedule and no husband in town, our happy little family was about to fall apart. Until today. Alex started half-day camp at his school. He was so excited when I dropped him off. He had his friends, in his old classroom, with all the toys and didn't even look up to say goodbye.

Anna and I left to pick up our pool passes and run errands. I returned to find a rejuvenated son--who had just built a castle out of cardboard boxes and made his friend Audrey the princess. Apparently the theme this week is Medieval fun and they are making crests, shields, reading stories about knights and singing songs about dragons. He sang the whole way home and said he couldn't wait to go again tomorrow. Who wouldn't want to play castle all week?

Mommy is better with a break. Anna is better with 1:1 time. Alex is better with some time with friends. I give props to those who use summer as a time to let loose and sleep in late and stay up late. My kids wake at 6 a.m. no matter when they go to bed and are ready to head out the door by 9 a.m. every day. So for me, 1/2 day camps here and there break up the summer and give us some structure to the day. But our afternoons are still all about the pool.

Saving My Favorite Timepieces

In the past two weeks, we've done quite a bit a pruning for our yard sale this past Saturday. Most of the baby stuff has been given away during the past few years. However, I still have a few things that linger. For one reason or another I'm unable to part with them. Call it sentimental or call it being a pack rat. For some reason, my heart won't let me part with these baby items:

Hungry Catepillar PJs--My best friend bought a pair of these footed PJs for my son-to-be and her son-to-be at the same time. It was back in 2003 right after I found out I was pregnant. I think it might have been one of the first things I received for the baby. They were the sweetest PJs. Both my kids wore them and I seem to have trouble getting rid of them.

'It's a Boy Bib'--The day I found out I was having a baby boy, I went out and bought a blue striped shirt (which is now gone) and an 'It's a Boy Bib.' Sad that I let the shirt go, I feel compelled to hang onto this big. Another one that both my kids wore.

Ocean Wonders Crib Music Box--Both my kids LOVED this. Alex more than Anna. Andrew's former coworker sent it to us and I didn't think much of it. It kept my kids entertained for a great deal of time in the early morning hours. Well, turns out this one style has been discontinued and while you can buy it on Amazon, it's $100. I'm keeping this!

A few of their favorite blankets--Alex and Anna both used one that was a knitted white cotton blanket. Plain as anything, but she was swaddled in it until she was 18 months old. Yes, that's right--18 months old! Alex had a blue one with little doggies on it that my friend in Qatar gave him.

Anything with their names on it--Want to give a gift that lasts. Few moms will ever toss anything with their kids' names on it.

Hand-knitted sweaters--My mother in law knitted both kids a sweater. I will never part with them.

Clothes from other countries--We have some great Swedish shirts and clothes from Germany. As well as a few from the Middle East. I have a hard time parting with them because they were either special gifts or so unique. So they just sit there in a box too small for either child to wear.

Monkey Robeez--Both my kids wore these red monkey Robeez. They are worn out and too worn to pass along, but I love that both kids used them so much. There they sit.

Perhaps someday I will be able to part with some of this, but for now it just sits there and makes me smile when I find it.


Mommy Needs a Cocktail Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone for submitting your favorite Mommy Needs a Cocktail stories. I even had one dad enter. Loved reading how everyone else had days like I did. I drew the winner this morning, well, actually I let Alex do it. The person who brushed his teeth first got to do the honors. I put all the names in a hat so it would be a fair drawing, especially since my kids can't read. I'm happy to announce the winner of the Mommy Needs a Cocktail T-shirt was Allison Rankin.