Archives

BabyGiftsandGoodies.com makes the Big Commerce Blog again!

ron-burgundyv2

I know it’s probably not the best form to brag, but I just can’t help myself.  Just had to let you know that BabyGiftsandGoodies.com was shown a little love on the Big Commerce blog and I can’t help but write about it.

Check out the post Pinterest Marketing: 9 Creative Ways to Pin Your Way to the Top by Jessica Malnik and you’ll see BabyGiftsandGoodies.com mentioned.  Sure you’ve got to scroll to the bottom to find us, but we’re there waiting to be found and cheerfully telling ourselves that they saved the best for last!

Happy Pinning!

Jill signature

 

 

PS.  Click here to follow me on Pinterest.   After all, that’s what the blog article is about, right?

Don’t worry, I’m disappointed in me too!

lasagna-canstockphoto13352765

It is 49 minutes before day’s end as I sit here at my keyboard.  And I feel like I’ve let you down.  I am not sure I will publish this before day’s end.  I pride myself upon being “in the know.”  Being on the cutting edge. And absolutely in the loop–a real mover and a shaker.  Just in case you haven’t picked up on the sarcasm here, actual movers and shakers just move and shake, they don’t run around talking about it.

Anyhow.  I dropped the ball.  The past few days have been a bit chaotic, more than my typical life in a blender.  (and I’m  not a referring to a margarita blender –again, because that would actually be kind of cool).

I was driving home about 15 minutes ago, when I heard on the radio that today was National Lasagna Day.

Really??? I thought to myself.  First, I was stunned that National Lasagna Day would occur in the summer.  It just doesn’t seem to fit the picture in my head.  Sitting outside in shorts and flip flops on the patio your patio, enjoying the summer weather, sipping a cool refreshing drink in the summer heat and eating lasagna?  A respectable Italian lasagna would make a mockery of your average plastic summer plates.

I wonder, are all the other “National Whatever You Want to Honor Days” taken?  Am I missing something?  Is today the birthday of the inventor of Lasagna?  Then it would make sense to me.  Because I can’t wrap my head around the idea that all of the winter or fall days, when lasagna would really hit the spot, were already occupied by some other holiday.

And by the way, how does something get to be a National day?  Who do you go to to apply for such a thing?  I mean, I know where to go get a passport, but if I wanted to start National Peeps Week–don’t you dare act like you’re surprised–where would I submit the paperwork?

I digress.  My real point in running to my computer as soon as I got home was to say Never Again!   Next year, I will celebrate National Lasagna Day, and I will subject you to reading about it.  I can’t tell you whether it will be meat lasagna, vegetable lasagna or what I will have in store for you.  Let’s just say, I’m living in the moment.

Jill signature

 

 

***Am I the only one who thinks it a little odd that there is a cherry tomato posing on top of my lasagna image with a leaf of basil laying next to it?

On Friday nights, they have a guy who makes Balloon Animals…

balloon-animal-cropped

On Friday nights, a local chain restaurant hosts a man who makes balloon animals in their dining room.  A relative suggested we check it out.  Sure, I thought.  Balloons animals.  That sounds like fun.  We packed up and headed to the restaurant.

We were a few minutes early.  Really, I should be writing about how we pulled that off, but let’s leave that topic for a different day.

As we waited in the parking lot in our family mobile, I could not believe what I was seeing.  People were exiting the restaurant carrying unbelievable balloon creations.  Not just balloon animals, these were works of art.

From my car, I saw monkeys hanging on palm trees and bananas, rainbows and flowers that were at least 4 feet tall.  As a child, I had seen balloon animals, but they were mostly four legged animals.  Dogs and giraffes…pretty basic stuff.

With much respect for the balloon animal creators of my youth, I must say that even the simplicity of a balloon dog is way beyond my own ability.  My expertise is limited to filling balloons with water and running around the yard tossing them at each other.  Ask me for a balloon animal, and I’ll give you one.  You just have to decide whether it’s a worm or a snake.

We went into the restaurant and barely contained the children enough to order our meals.  The kids were craning their necks to see the young man furiously making things like giant 5 color rainbows, mermaids and Ninja Turtles.  As a little girl who knows her mind, my daughter decided what she wanted.  She told me.  She told everyone at the table.

I was a little apprehensive.  It sounded like a big ask, and I wondered if it was even part of the man’s repertoire.  This was all new to me. I tried to buffer what I thought might be sure disappointment by suggesting that she might have to choose something else.  But we would certainly ask.

We waited our turn as the children stared, mesmerized by the cheerful man with the balloons.  As we approached the front of the line, my daughter softly conveyed her request to the man.  I stood near her, tempering what seemed to me like a lofty goal, by sheepishly asking, ”Do you even make that?”

“Sure I do.” The enthusiastic balloon maker chirped as he immediately got busy twisting and building.

Balloon animals have come a long way, haven’t they?

minnie-mouse-balloon

Minnie Mouse Balloon Animal

 

Now I wonder what the life expectancy for this little beauty is…I may not be cooking dinner next Friday night.

Jill signature

That day, my word was more important than my wallet…

One day in early April, I was preparing for a conference where I would show my babygiftsandgoodies.com merchandise.  A totally new experience for me, I needed to assemble shelves and other items to display my cuddly treasures.  As with any of my weekday adventures, my children were in tow. 

Riding in the stroller like a pair of champs, I dragged my kids through store after store.  Overall, they were pretty patient as I wrapped it up in our final stop.  As we navigated the aisles, my daughter mentioned Peeps.  I felt an immediate sense of pride in my daughter.  It was the pride a parent feels when his or her children carry on a tradition, and I smiled immediately for my brainwashing success.  My children know what Peeps are!

I had not seen exactly what my daughter was talking about, so I asked the kind of basic questions that you would ask a toddler and arrived at the obvious conclusion that she wanted the box of Peeps.  It seemed like a no brainer.  “Of course you can have the Peeps,” I said.  “If you can show me where they are before we leave, I will get you the Peeps.”

 We continued on our way, gathering what I needed.  As I finished my shopping, I wanted to honor my word, and buy the Peeps that I had promised.   I pushed the stroller through the aisles, asking my daughter where she had seen them.  Eventually we arrived in an area with candy, and I saw the unexpected.  It was a giant box of Peeps with a rainbow assortment of the fluffy marshmallow chicks—six colors in total.  It was a sixteen dollar box of Peeps—I had no idea such a thing existed.  But, I decided that a promise was a promise.

big-box-of-peeps-v2

Jill signature

Peep Week 2014–My Peeps Runneth Over

A few weeks ago, the day before Easter to be precise, I made the decision to postpone Peep Week.  Life was kicking up in full force and it was not possible to be in it and write about it at the same time.  It wasn’t a difficult decision.  I announced it on my blog, it was public, and it was done.  And I let it go… for less than 24 hours.  Because, as I did my  Easter grocery shopping, I realized that several stores had sold out of Peeps, and I had not stocked up for the Peep Week projects that I had yet to discover.  How was I going to try new  and exciting Peep recipes and have Peep Week without any Peeps?  What if I found a really great recipe that required 4 boxes of Peeps, and I only had three?

 I panicked.  At two separate stores, I bought about at least 4 packages of Peeps.  Looking back, it was a blur.  I took what was available, even buying a package of purple bunnies–just in case. 

 And on Easter, when there is usually an annual dispute at day’s end over who will take home the remainder of the candy, I announced that I would take all of the Peeps.  I was not thinking clearly.  I was acting like an irrational Peep version of a doomsday prepper.  In my head, my fear of “not enough” was looming large.  To help sustain my silly worry, the Peeps that I had accumulated ended up in three different spaces, so they didn’t look like very much.  It wasn’t until I took them out of the bags and put them in one place that I saw what I had done.

Peeps anyone?

peep-stack

 It must be said that despite what probably looks like an excessive obsession as I yammer on about the glory of Peeps, my average seasonal Peep consumption is about 6-8 Peeps total.  Feel free to do the math and tell me how long I’ll be up to my ears in Peeps.

On second thought, after gathering some pertinent data, it seems like I have more time than I thought…

expiration-date

Maybe I’ll volunteer to bring the Peeps next year!

Jill signature

Sometimes, I drop the ball…

 

canstockphoto0212390-juggling-peep

So, maybe you’re sitting there wondering what the heck happened to Peep Week 2014.  Maybe you’ve been going on with your busy life and you haven’t even noticed–even better.  Well, here’s what happened.  This week, the unexpected events of life arrived in a major way.  It’s getting better, but between work and family, I just couldn’t juggle everything.  Sadly, Peep Week 2014 was the casualty.

And now I’ll bet you’re left wondering if you will  have to wait an entire calendar year to experience the high level of excitement that is Peep Week. (Probably not, just play along with me here, okay?)

Well, I’m here to say, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Peep Week.”  Peep Week 2014 will happen over the course of the next week or so.

What can you expect?   You’ll get the same silly posts dedicated to the marshmallowy wonder of all that is Peep.  I know you would expect nothing less.  Stay tuned!

Jill signature

Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a workout for my children???

 

Bounce-Climb

So, it was Saturday and my arms, especially my triceps, had that familiar sore feeling that you get from a recent workout.  I did have a workout, I just didn’t know it was coming.

I was tired of keeping my children captive in the house all winter, and confident that flu season was nearly over, so I summoned up my bravery to take them to our local bounce place.  You know the place, a primary colored wonderland, filled with giant inflatables for jumping and sliding.

If you’re asking yourself why I needed bravery, I’ll tell you.  Twin toddlers are like a big bag of marbles.  Take them somewhere without the stroller, let ‘em go and they scatter like marbles.  Containment is laughable, and it brings out in me a woman with whom I am intimately familiar—the crazy twin mom.  The crazy twin mom is the overwhelmed version of a mom who gets look that range from admiration to pity from bystanders who make comments like, “you’ve got your hands full,”  “double trouble,” and a whole litany of other words that really don’t help.

Needless to say, I wasn’t interested in being the crazy twin mom at the bounce place.  In truth, I never am.  If I can bring a relative or friend for reinforcement, I will.  But this time, if I wanted to go, I had to go it alone.

I created a buzz with the kids in the early morning.  I kept asking “who wants to go to a fun place?”  In true toddler fashion, I was met by a chorus of “me” “me” all morning.  I was eager too, taking the kids to new places and watching them have fun is awesome for me too.

I was confident we could have a great day when we entered the lobby and the kids were already excited.  They climbed on and checked things out while I hurriedly signed the waivers.  (Note to self—Next time, download, fill out and actually read the waivers from the bounce place to avoid chaos in the lobby.)

As we walked into bounce room 1, I could hear the buzzing motors of the giant inflatables, and apparently so could my children, because they clung to me with fear.  We took off our shoes and proceeded toward the bounce houses.  With a near 40 pound child on each hip, I tried to encourage the children to loosen their grips from me and have some of that fun that I was chirping on about all morning.  They weren’t having it.

I put each reluctant child into the first bounce house, assuring them I was not far behind.  The review was a solid NO.  I took them to the second bounce house and I even jumped around to show them what it was all about, but this one was just as much a dud as the first.

Then I saw what would be the bounce place salvation and my source of exhaustion—a slide.  When I asked, both kids animatedly agreed to go on the slide.  Massive air filled bounce houses may be foreign, but slides, they know.  As a newbie to all things bounce, it totally freaked me out to see how high my kids and I were going to have to climb to get to the top of the slide.  I kept my anxiety to myself.

I hoisted my son up the wall, remembering his lighter times.  On my tippy toes, I wasn’t tall enough to get him to the top and on our first effort, I had to bring him down, regroup and start over.  My second try got him to the last foot peg, and he was able to pull himself up from there.  Charlie fearfully sat atop the climb wall and waited for his sister and mom.  Giuliana, (see also the crib ninja) was a bit more skilled and assisted me in getting to the top by putting her feet on the pegs and climbing a little.  I still wrangled and stretched to help her to the top.

Then it was my turn.  Not a big climber, I made it to the top with a moderate effort, praying the entire time that the combination of my socks and the slippery surface did not send me sliding down the wall to land on someone else’s child.  The ways I see it, it is inevitable that children injure other children in the course of play, but a grown adult falling on a child—that’s a whole different batch of shame.

I make it to the top, and the three of us joyfully slid down.  I was elated that Charlie and Giuliana felt confident and safe enough to go down the slide independently.  The unexpected consequences of this new found autonomy was that I got caught in a cycle of hoisting children to the top of the climb wall.  This was where the crazy twin mom emerged.  Naively I tried several times to climb down and take pictures of my giggling children, like the singleton parents seemed to be doing with ease.  But, every time I stepped off the 2 foot step to the wall, one of my children was rounding the corner shouting “again, again” and it was time for me to get on my tippy toes and deliver them to the slide.

I kept this pace up for about a half an hour, constantly lifting my children to their perch atop the climb wall, my only break came when another child chose the slide.  It was a slow day at the bounce place, so resting periods were rare.  After a bit, we headed into the second room with a slide and obstacle course and at the end, I was one sweaty, disheveled and well worked out mom.  And thus, my well earned sore triceps three days later.  And yes, I can’t wait ‘til we go back!

Jill signature

 

 

P.S.  Here are my best pictures!

Bounce-CharlieBounce-GG

Yes, Santa…I’ve got some explaining to do

Santa-canstockphoto1296817

This Christmas was the first Christmas where my children were aware of the whole “Santa brings the toys” phenomenon.  If I am being honest, it may have been lost on them, were it not for my campaign to make Santa a key player this holiday season. I played Christmas specials a few times a week, told them that Santa’s bringing toys and pointed him out to them as we passed every 5 foot inflatable lawn Santa.

Little by little, it began to sink in and they seemed to understand that Santa was coming to our home.  If you asked them “who was coming,” they’d chirp, “Santa!”  Follow up with “what does Santa bring?” and they’d shout out “toys,” like anxious contestants on a game show.

I was excited.  As a mom, I want them to Believe.  I want them to believe in possibilities, in magical and exciting things.  I was totally diggin’ it…or so I thought.

I thought I was fine with the idea that Santa got all the credit, and my husband and I were saddled with the assembly and receipts.  Really, it’s the natural order of things where Santa’s concerned.  Like my father before me applying sticker after sticker on my three foot Barbie Dream Camper– my dream, but a total nightmare for my Dad.

I thought I was fine with the Santa situation.  My analytic mind says I’ve got little aggression toward Santa.  Here’s why.

As I was applying sticker after sticker on our kids’ pretend kitchen, my son handed me a box of train tracks he had opened on Christmas morning.  He was pointing to a bridge that was additional, and not included, a toy company practice which is a little cruel for a toddler if you ask me.  Is he really out of line to expect that if something’s on the box, it would have been in the box?  But I digress…

He kept pointing to the suggested bridge on the box, and without even thinking, I threw Santa under the bus.

“Sorry sweetie, we don’t have that bridge…Santa didn’t bring it.”  The blaming words were out there and I couldn’t take them back.  What had that jolly man done to me?

I guess if there’s a naughty list, my name would be toward the top.

Jill signature

The Stuf of Urban Legends…

Mega-Stuf

I was in Target the other day, and spied something that, for me, until that moment, was only an urban legend.  I’d seen blogs, and internet images, but nothing with my own eyes.  Like Big Foot or the Abominable Snowman, I had heard stories, I had even seen postings on Facebook, but I had no firsthand knowledge.  I was skeptical.

And there it was, out of the corner of my eye, a package of Mega Stuf Oreo Cookies.  The packages of Mega Stuf Oreos were mixed in with the huge variety of Oreos that exists today, so I did a double take to ensure I was not mistaken.  I carefully retrieved the package from the shelf, making certain I did not accidentally grab a package of Double Stuff in all my excitement.

I paid for my groceries and quickly and headed home.  Lucky for me it was one of those times when my kids were in bed and asleep, so I could dedicate my energy to what, as I am writing this, seems like a ridiculous caper for a grown adult.  But if you consider the fact that I dedicated an entire week of my blog to Marshmallow Peeps, I imagine it probably makes sense.

Once home, I grabbed a glass of milk and opened the pull tab exposing the Mega Stuf Oreo beauties.  I immediately noticed that the extra filling costs you some serious numbers in terms of cookies, but clearly this was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

I selected my cookie, my very first Mega Stuf Oreo Cookie. I submerged it in my milk for about 10 seconds.  My way is not for everyone, I am just a dunker by nature.  I lifted the cookie to my mouth and bit down into a soft creamy Oreo perfection.  Perhaps an excessive amount of cream for others, it was the perfect amount of cream center for me, Oreo Nirvana.

As I had my third of the three cookies I allotted myself, I had a thought.  After this, will I ever be satisfied with a Double Stuffed Oreo…let alone an ordinary single stuffed Oreo again?

So here lies the question that marries Nabisco and Tennyson.  Is it better to have loved Mega Stuf Oreos and lost than never to have loved Mega Stuf Oreos at all?

Jill signature

Next time, I’ll stay on the road…

 

runner-cartoon

If I haven’t mentioned before, I run.  I have misgivings about calling myself a “runner” at this point, because I have a definition in my head of what a real runner is, and I’m not quite there yet.  But that is a blog for a different day.

Yesterday I went running in a park near my home.  It was a beautiful day, a little chilly, which I really like.  Only planning on 3.5 miles, I was running a simple out and back.  My last segment before I turned around involved running on the street, facing traffic.  The road had a shoulder and the speed limit is 25, so it was relatively safe.

As I neared my turn around point, a man on a bicycle was headed toward me.  I figured he had the right of way, so I hopped off the pavement and into the dirt to give him the road.

As I moved into the dirt, I must have clipped a branch because my feet got tangled and I began falling to the ground like a human domino.  I landed flat on my knees and stomach in wet dirt and leaves.  And the man on the bike just zipped past me.

I was on hands and knees, level with his spokes and he zoomed right by without so much as a pause.  Nothing.  Not like I was expecting him to stop and give me a ride to my car on his handlebars like two aged members of the Von Trapp family, but a drive by, really???

I think it would have been easier for me to understand if he was dressed head to toe in biking gear.  Then, I could have told myself that he was training for some important event and couldn’t afford the distraction.  But this guy was wearing khakis and a fleece jacket, not quite a performance bike uniform.

Shocked, yet still capable of a little snarkiness, I blurted out “Just trying to make it easier for you, Sir.”  I’m not even sure where that came from, calling him sir as I picked myself up off the ground.  No reaction, again, nothing…

I stood up and assessed the damage, some dirt, and another minor dent to my ego.

“You’re okay,” I said out loud as I began to run again.  I felt fine and I wasn’t hurt, so I continued.  It was then that I noticed a strong and very yucky smell.

“OMG, did I fall in dog poop?!?!?”

Jill signature

 

***Apparently it was a false alarm, I kept running and the smell of dog poop went away.