Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mommy Talk

I really should stop using babytalk with my kids.  Not that babbling, cozy "Who's my ittle-wittle babykins! Oo are!!! Yes oo are!"  I never did that (at least in public).  But I do still use the sweet, sing-song tone to this day.  You know the one.  If you don't, go find a baby, say "Hi, baby!" and notice how your voice instantly goes up about three octaves.  All of a sudden you sound like sunshine and rainbows, and you would put on a full-production Broadway show just to see that little one look at you and smile!

There's a reason why we do this.  Our minds are hardwired to try to please and impress infants, to take care of them and get them at least to preschool before we seriously realize how much time and money we've spent on these defenseless, drooling little lumps.  Humans take much longer to grow and mature to adulthood than the vast majority of life on this planet.  They require care and nurturing that no animal does.  Therefore, in order to continue the species, we see babies as precious things to be loved and nourished, not something that can easily be abandoned, or even seen as a potential food source.  (I can't be the only one who's read Jonathon Swift's A Modest Proposal.  Yes, he's the guy that wrote Gulliver's Travels.  No, I'm not responsible for the chill that went down your spine when you realized you were nodding along with his logical suggestions).

Babytalk, therefore, is an instinct that is programmed in to all most of us.  And I can't seem to stop.  I don't really use it with Knight anymore.  Now that he's in school, he is much more able to have a reasoned debate and to understand when I explain the logic behind my requests - i.e. "I need you to pick up your toys so you won't trip over them and hurt yourself."  But Dragon is much more likely to do what I ask when I use that sweet, hi-baby voice.  I'm not sure if it's because of his speech/cognitive delays, or if it's because he's my "baby", my youngest, but whether I'm asking him to pick up toys, or put on a shirt, I still use that voice.

Still, I'm not sure how to stop.  I'm halfway through a sentence before I even realize I'm doing it, and it does make a difference in how he responds to me.  Maybe when he (eventually) learns how to talk, he'll ask me to stop.  Maybe it will fade away naturally.  And maybe I'll still be using it when he graduates Summa Cum Laude from an Ivy League University (aim high, right?).  However, I'd love to hear your opinions.  Do you still use babytalk, and if so, how old are your kids?  Did you ever notice yourself using it more with one kid than another?  What do you think is going to be the coolest commercial during the Superbowl this Sunday?  That last one's a freebie.  You're welcome.

Love, Leigh

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Goodies Box January 2013

Oh wow.  Nothing says "party weekend!" like having two sick little boys.  So much cleaning, and laundry, and wiping noses, and trying to remember exactly when you gave that last dose of medicine so you're not OD'ing your poor kid on ibuprofen.  I also had two very different patients.  Knight was happy to just lie in bed, watching movies and being a good little patient.  I'm sure you can guess where this is going... Yep, Dragon wasn't happy unless he was cuddling in my arms and coughing in my face.  Gross.  So imagine my happiness when I staggered outside on Saturday for a breath of fresh air and found my box o'Goodies!  Nothing says love like snacks on my porch.

That's love right there.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

BzzAgent TruMoo Review

Milk.  Not the most glamorous thing in the world to review, but I take my Bzz Campaigns where I can.  BzzAgent is a company that sends out products (or coupons for products) in exchange for targeted and personal reviews.  I've actually been a member since 2008, and I've gotten to try some amazing things like makeup, skincare, candy, and air fresheners.  Recently, I got invited to join a campaign for TruMoo Chocolate Milk.



Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thanks! Gracias! Merci! Xie Xie!

I started this blog as something small, just a way to be creative again.  Being the mother of young children sometimes makes me feel like the joyous, giggly, spontaneous Leigh has been buried under a mountain of dirty diapers and endless loads of laundry.  I wanted to start writing again, and thought about blogging.  Then, I found out about subscription boxes late last year, and enjoyed reading the blog reviews so much that I decided to just go ahead and launch my own!  I also love that I can share embarrassing stories about my children with a global audience.  Perfect practice for when they start dating, right?

I never expected more than a few hits for each post, so imagine my surprise when a few days ago, I reached 1000 views!  Blew right past it, actually, we're now over 1200!  I also had my January review for Beauty Army featured on their Facebook page, which was AWESOME.  I've had readers from Canada, the U.K., South Korea, Germany, Poland, and Romania visit my blog, and I'm honored and amazed to have a global audience.  Of course, the vast majority of my readers are from the good ol' US of A!  But wherever you are when you read my blog, know that I appreciate you with all my heart.

Thank you.

Love, Leigh

Like my page on Facebook or follow the blog for new posts!

Love Club Box Review January 2013

Oh, the weather outside is frightful... But my Love Club Box is making this Saturday delightful!  This is the most "indie" of my subs, and it's "a delivery service providing an assortment of accessories, beauty products, paper goods, & unique items from a handful of our favorite businesses each month."*  Heather (the owner) recently announced that this subscription service will be ending in June, but I'm happy to review the remaining boxes til the very end!

I love all things indie and unknown, and this sub is great for introducing me to small business owners and little online shops.  Also, there are rarely "sneak peeks" for Love Club, so it's truly a surprise when I open the box!  Here's what I got this month:

Plain on the outside... Awesome on the inside!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beauty Army Review January 2013

Ten-hut!  My Beauty Army box "reported for duty" today.  And if there's one thing I love more than Beauty Army's hilariously inaccurate use of military jargon, it's a subscription service where I can pick my own samples!  With most boxes, you'll either get pretty much the same thing as everyone else with a few variations (Ipsy) or you'll get a box selected for you based on your answers to a list of questions (Birchbox). While Beauty Army is a little more expensive than my other beauty subs, being able to choose my own samples is worth the $12 a month.

Beauty Army has you take a quiz based on your hair and skin type, preferred makeup and nail looks, and what types of samples you'd like to receive (i.e. makeup, haircare, fragrance).  Their system then generates 9 samples based on the quiz.  If you like what you see, you select 6 of the 9 samples and finish your order.  Don't see 6 things you like? No problem, just retake the quiz!  Personally, I love getting multi-use samples instead of foil packets, and I choose my items accordingly.  The fun thing about that is the items just barely fit in the box this month!

In fact, it popped open as soon as I took the shipping sleeve off:

Hmmm... maybe it's saluting me?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Winter School Snack

Yesterday was such a nice, normal day... until I looked at Knight's kindergarten agenda for this week and realized that it was his turn to bring in the class snack... TODAY!  Yikes!  Now, I'm not the kind of mom that throws a bag of chips and some M&M's at my kid's classroom (Although, if you're a working mom, and that's all you have time for, then you go girl!).  Because I stay at home and generally have some free time to plan these things, I try to do something special.

Like this bad boy! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Night Nails

Ah, the joys of motherhood.   The thrill of a Saturday night stretching ahead of you.  The kids are in bed, all of your single friends are out partying, all of your mommy friends have their own kids in bed or desperately slogging through a science fair project.  Thankfully, my kids are young, and easily lulled by their color-changing, star-projecting nightlight.  So what's a mom to do with all this free time?

Well, if you were me, you'd look around the living room, see the painting above your mantel, and be artistically inspired.  I'm limited, of course.  No oils, no pastels or watercolors.  But boy, do I have a lot of nail polish!  So here we go... Manicure a la Notre Dame!

The Artistic Inpiration

Friday, January 18, 2013

Citrus Lane Review January 2013


I am so glad this box is here!  I always check the tracking website obsessively once I get my shipping email, and yesterday it said that my Citrus Lane box had been delivered.  I checked my front porch top to bottom, but no dice.  So I was very happy when I opened my front door this morning to find my box sitting there, all yellow and brown and pretty!  Ok, so technically it's not MY box, it's Dragon's.  But I get to open it first - Otherwise, there would be no pretty pictures for you all to see!

Like this! First glimpse inside!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Oven Bacon

Welcome to my first foray into blogging about food.  By the way, the title is not a typo.  Not Oven Bakin'.  Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that your days of slaving over a hot stove while grease drops aggressively accessorize your shirt are over.  You see, several months ago, my husband realized that you can lay out bacon on a cookie sheet, pop it in the oven at 350 for 20-25 minutes, and get perfect, crispy, delicious bacon.  And this, good people, is why he's the king.  And it's good to be the king. (Feel free to read that using whatever Mel Brooks accent you prefer)

I have improved on this method several times over the past few months, and I have a few tips and tricks.  Some hints for the novices of bakin' bacon (hehe!).  First, use the thickest bacon cuts you can find.  If you can find it, use a "Butcher's Cut", which is about three to four times thicker than regular bacon.  This is because although my appetite for bacon is infinite, the room on my cookie sheet is not.  You can generally line up one pound of butcher's cut bacon across one cookie sheet, while regular cut will take two or more.  Another tip is to pre-heat your oven.  Anytime you're dealing with raw meat, the less time it spends at room temperature, the better.  Safety first!  Also, make sure your kids are well clear of the oven when you take the bacon out.  Dragon and Knight come running when the timer goes off, and always want to be RIGHT THERE when I take it out of the oven!  Once it's out, I line a plate with paper towels and use tongs to transfer the bacon to the plate.  I pat the top with more paper towels to remove excess grease.

For easy cleanup, line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  This keeps the mess contained, and if you're reasonably coordinated (I generally let my hubby handle this part), after the cookie sheet has cooled, you can slide the foil off the sheet and right into the trash.  Also, if you're bakin' bacon* along with another item like biscuits or a casserole, put the bacon on the bottom.  Bacon fat will still pop and fly while it's cooking, and you don't want your biscuits hunkering down, desperately avoiding a greasy air assault.  They will end up tasting like fear and unkept promises, and your children WILL NOT eat them!

Just so you know, I'm not trying to promote this as a brand-new thing.  I've seen other people posting their own knowledge of this incredible process, and I'm sure that there are several of you who have figured it out already.  So I know what you're thinking.  If this is nothing new, why post about it?  Because, my friends, there is another breakfast meat crying out for its own time in the sun.  Or rather, in the oven.  It's sausage, people.  And it can be baked, too!

A few nights ago, I made "breakfast for dinner", and promised the boys sausage patties.  I was staring at the roll of sausage, wishing I had promised them bacon, and thought, "There has got to be an easier way!  To the Internet!  Google, work your magic!"  After a quick search, I found a post from another blog called Cookie and Claire. (Click here to read it!)  Basically, this woman is a genius.  The methods of making sausage and bacon in the oven are quite similar.  She does recommends lining the sheet with parchment paper instead of aluminum foil, but I used foil and it turned out fine.  There are two ways to make it - you can either form individual patties and bake them, or (and this is much easier!), simply flatten the roll into one large, oblong patty and cut it into slices with a pizza cutter when you're done!

Hopefully, this information helps you.  It's my personal goal to learn something new every day, and to help others do the same.  As always, when cooking meat, use caution, make sure it's cooked thoroughly, and wash those hands!

Love, Leigh

*No, I will not stop!  Eventually, you'll start giggling when you say it, just like I do.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ipsy Review January 2013

Ipsy!  It's just fun to say.  It's also a beauty subscription service that, for $10 a month, sends out 4-6 beauty items and a makeup bag.  I've subscribed since November of 2012, and my first two months were almost entirely makeup.  One of the many things I love about Ipsy is that they listen to their subscribers, and when people started complaining on their Facebook page and website about getting too much makeup, they sent out a January bag with NO makeup.  Cheers, Ipsy!  Here's this month's bag:

My precioussssss....

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dragon Manners

I took the kids out to eat today.  For some reason, I always think it's going to be a fun outing.  Just a mom and her two boys, out for a meal! What could go wrong?  I have one polite, well-mannered child who selects a meal with minimal prompting, says "please" and "thank you" to the waitress, and plays quietly with a toy until the food comes.  Eating out with Knight is a pleasure, and has been since he was born.  My other child?  Well, let's just say that his manners could use a little... polishing.

I do everything I can to keep Dragon entertained.  We only go to family-friendly restaurants.  Sports bars are also a good bet, as the background level of noise is loud enough to drown out most of Dragon's roaring!   Both my purse and the diaper bag have a never-ending supply of dinosaurs, his favorite toy. I pack pre-meal snacks, as they work wonders in staving off a tantrum between ordering and being served.  And when all else fails, my iPhone is good for a few minutes of entertainment.

Today, I had to use every single one of my tricks to get us through lunch.  Family friendly restaurant? Check! (To protect the innocent, let's just say we went to the Multinational Home of Hotcakes).  I let him unwrap all 15 billion straws that the waitress brought.

And this was the monstrous result. My poor sweet tea. 

After that, I had the entire Cretaceous Period parade across the table.  And when that failed, a T-Rex app on my phone bought me a little time, but ultimately, nothing was working.  And on those days, you just eat your food and get out, as quickly and painlessly as possible.  He did settle down once the food appeared (I think that kid will do anything for bacon!) and I had a few minutes to eat my waffle in peace.  It was not the calm and peaceful lunch I imagined, but it got us fed.

Taking kids out to eat is hard.  In some long-forgotten part of your brain, you remember when going out to eat was fun.  Relaxing, even.  You remember the scintillating conversation, the leisurely pace of eating, the enjoyment of the evening.  And when you got home, no dishes!  Now, it's a different story.   There's always some drama, and when you get home, always some dishes.  But don't worry!  Just enjoy the time you have with your little ones, and before you know it, you'll be able to trust them enough to take them to a nice restaurant.  I have a goal set for a tantrum-free dinner at Olive Garden by Dragon's fifth birthday!  And in the meantime, drown your sorrows with a little extra maple syrup on your waffle.  I know I did.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Birchbox Review January 2013

I love my Birchbox this month!

And that makes me happy.  Last month was my first with Birchbox and I was disappointed, especially as I had to wait over 4 weeks just to get an invitation to join!  Birchbox is a "beauty and lifestyle" subscription, and for $10 a month, they send you a box with between 4-6 samples tailored to your preferences.  When you join up, you fill out a beauty profile that Birchbox uses to select the items for your box.  I was scrupulously honest when I first filled out my profile - silly me!  Apparently being a 30-something with classic style and a middle-class income gets you a boring box filled with skincare items and nail polish remover.  I was about to cancel after receiving my initial box o'boring stuff, when I saw a YouTube video by "minzor9".  She described a phone call she made to Birchbox's Customer Service, where they gave her advice on filling out her profile.  I watched, I learned... and I became a filthy rich teenager with adventurous style!  Well, on their website, anyway.  I can dream, right?

So I got my January box and... love.  Love at first sight.  I am happy with EVERY SINGLE item in my box!  Which, if you obsessively read Birchbox reviews every month like I do (maybe I need a new hobby?), you'll know that's very unusual.  As with any subscription service, there are hits and misses in the items you're sent.  But this month? Perfection.  I can't believe I got all this for $10!  So, let's get started:

Here's the box when I first unwrapped it:

I can feel it... there's magic inside!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Resolutions Cravebox Review

Welcome to my first Cravebox review!  Cravebox is "the ultimate product discovery service" that "delivers themed, curated boxes with unique finds relevant to your interests, occasions, activities, and your everyday busy life." (source)  I heard about this subscription service recently, from the beautiful ladies of MakeupTalk.com, and decided to try one when I saw an ad for the Resolutions box. Cravebox is not a regular monthly subscription.  When a new box comes out, you put your name in a lottery.  If your name is chosen, then you are billed and sent a box.  The boxes vary in price between $10-15, and the Resolutions box was $15.  



My box!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chivalry Is(n't) Dead

I was so excited when Knight was finally potty-trained.  Little did I know that it was only the start of a new challenge.  We are now engaged in the Epic Battle of the Toilet Seat.  Like many easily distracted 5-year-olds, Knight does his business and then runs right back out again, ready to play.  I always tell him to go back and wash his hands.  He does, but leaves me no indication of the surprise that lies in store for me.

You see, I'm trying to raise my sons right.  Someday in the far, far future, I want their wives to tell me about how Knight did the laundry without being asked, or how Dragon fixed dinner.  And while my husband and I generally split chores along traditional gender lines (I do the cooking, he mows the lawn), we also cross those lines quite a bit.  He loves doing bathtime and bedtime for the boys, and I now have an honorary advanced degree in assembling Ikea furniture.  My sons have a particularly strong female role model when my darling king has to leave for his job.  Because then, I take it all on.  Yesterday, I crawled underneath the house to check on the water heater.  I now know how to switch fuses and use a volt monitor to check for live wires.  I am woman, hear me roar.  And all that jazz.

So why does it bother me so much when Knight doesn't put the toilet seat down?  I know to look first, so I've never gotten that unexpectedly nasty shock. To me, it's a matter of respect.  Not just for women, but for others in general.  I'm teaching him to be compassionate.  To be respectful, to be kind.  And to me, the toilet seat is a glaring example of not thinking about others first.  So I'll remind him, again and again, as many times as it takes.

In fact, Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results.  Well, there's no denying that Mr. Einstein was a genius, but by his definition, insanity and parenting are the same thing.  We tell our children the same things, over and over again, hoping that this time will be the one they listen!  And it works.  Knight says "please" and "thank you" all by himself now.  He can dress himself.  He can ride a bike. All because I (and the king) take the time to tell him as many times as it takes.  We show him, we teach him, and every time we do, we expect a different result.  

And someday, he will put the toilet seat down all by himself.  And I will be proud.  A little insane, maybe.  But mostly, proud.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sunday Savings

You all know that I'm a bargain hunter.  I live for Kohl's sales racks, I've been known to use (a lot of) coupons, and the sound of my brakes can be heard for miles when I spot a yard sale. So when Toys 'R' Us sent me my Rewards Dollars for some purchases made before Christmas (and yes, I totally used a Groupon they offered to buy the boys' Christmas stuff) I thought hey, why not? Free money.  No minimum purchase, just $10 to use however I wanted.  So yesterday I promised the boys a new toy for each of them, wandered in, and....

HOLY 90% OFF CHRISTMAS STUFF, BATMAN!

Wrapping paper! And ornaments! Prelit indoor/outdoor Christmas trees!  Well, you know what I did. I stocked up.  Here's what I got:



Friday, January 4, 2013

Crackers for Breakfast

I fought a Dragon this morning.  Not a real one.  But I had a grumpy 3-year-old who, at 6:30 AM, was determined not to wear a shirt with a firetruck on it.  I won, of course.  I always do.  But five minutes later, I chose to lose the next battle.  You see, my baby Dragon wanted crackers for breakfast.  Regular, club-style, buttery crackers.  Traditionally, crackers are not a breakfast food.  Knight wanted oatmeal, and that was fine.  He understands the order of things.  Breakfast food for breakfast and all that.  His younger brother, however, sees no such order in the world.  He is always hungry, and until recently, did not care what was put in front of him.  Then he started to get more picky.  First he cut out vegetables and fruit.  Then, bread.  Now, all he will eat is the typical picky kid fare (chicken nuggets, french fries, pizza, and plain spaghetti) and a few special dishes, like lo mein and teriyaki chicken.

So I let him have crackers for breakfast.  Honestly, between sweet cereals and breakfast pastries, I was kind of relieved.  And he drank a full sippy of white milk with his breakfast, which made me feel even better. I'd much rather lose the food battle and have him start school with food in his belly than send him in hungry.

For the rest of today, I'll be working to conquer the mighty Christmas decorations.  I'm sure I'll miss at least one thing, and one of the kids will point out in February that Santa is still on the bathroom towels.  And I'll pretend that I totally meant to do that. And they'll believe me... this year.

Life is wonderful and unexpected.  Some days are peaceful, and others are incredibly crazy.  But if you choose your battles wisely, you will come out ahead.  And the bad days will fade to faraway, fuzzy memories.  But you will still be here.  And that, my friends, is the real magic.  So tell me... what Dragon will you fight today?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! The Inaugural Post

Happy New Year! And a happy new blog!

Welcome to the Whimsical Adventures of a Magical Mom.  Hi, I'm Leigh.  Wife, mother to two awesome little boys, and ruler of my own little kingdom.  Yeah, normally I'd be co-ruling with the king.  But he's away right now for his job, so it's my job to be the Evil Queen benevolent monarch. Our oldest boy, whom I'll call Knight, is a dream child. Polite, curious, sweet, and already a ladies' man in his kindergarten class, he is Mommy's helper.  Although he did totally thrash me at Candy Land this morning, and I'm not sure if I'm over it yet.  And then, we have Dragon.  My youngest.  He's.... wild.  Boisterous.  Non-verbal.  Seriously, he's three, and has yet to say a complete sentence.  We noticed his speech wasn't developing properly when he turned two, and we took him to a private speech therapist for a year.  She did an amazing job working with him, and now we have him in our local elementary school's preschool, with speech and cognitive therapy a few times a week.  I'm starting to see a lot of improvement lately, thank goodness.  He does a LOT better in a peer group, and heaven bless his teachers, who are willing to deal with over a dozen rambunctious preschoolers every day.  So, that's us!  We live in a quaint little town a few hours from the East Coast, and just bought our first house this summer.  Yay!

I'm sure you're all happy for the introduction, but now you're thinking "What is this blog all about?"  Well, several things.  We live far away from extended family, so this is a great way for them to stay updated on how we're doing without ridiculously long Facebook statuses.  Hi, family! Love you all!  Seriously, I have the greatest family.  And let's just say I won the in-law lottery.  They're quite fabulous.  So, family updates will be a big part of this.  I will also post about my artsy-craftsy projects.  Pinterest is a little (ha!) obsession of mine, and I'd love to be able to share my accomplishments, once again, without blowing up my Facebook newsfeed with "look what I can do!"

And lastly, I will be posting about my most recent hobby... subscription boxes!  What are subscription boxes, you ask? Oh, you didn't ask? Well sit down, cause I'm gonna tell you anyway!  For a small price, usually about $10-15 a month, companies like Ipsy, Birchbox, Beauty Army, Love Club Box, Goodies, and Citrus Lane (my current subs) send you a box each month filled with the most amazing stuff!  There are many categories, I currently have beauty, lifestyle, food, and kids' boxes.  I will post reviews on what I got in each box, and give a little explanation about what each company is about.  I am not paid for these reviews, nor do I receive the boxes for free unless otherwise noted.  (Sorry, but the little lawyer that lives in my head told me I should put in a disclaimer.)  I may have referral links that give me rewards if you sign up through my site, but I will always have those noted.

I hope all of you are having a very Happy New Year, and that 2013 brings you lots of blessings and joy.  Please enjoy my new adventures in blogging, pictures and other extra stuff are coming soon.  After all... Ancora Imparo!*

*Latin for: "I am still learning"
There was an error in this gadget