Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness {March of Kindness 3/25-3/30}

March of Kindness

Well, I think this is going to be my final post for the March of Kindness meme hosted by Code Name: Mama. I plan to continue performing these RAOK's everyday, though. So, if I have a story that might be inspiring or even just interesting to readers, I'll share in a post. Just remember - you don't have to be trying to participate in a special Random Acts of Kindness group-thing to do this stuff. It should be part of who we are. I participated this month in the hope that it would become a habit to look for ways that I could be of help to others - and it did!!!

This past week was somewhat uneventful in terms of how many RAOK's I performed. They were all simple things. I made cookies with my kids (post coming up), picked up some trash here and there... simple things. There are, however, two events that I want to share in a little more detail.

First, my oldest needed his hair to be fixed. I'll have the whole story in an upcoming post, so here are the basics: He's been asking me to cut his hair for a couple of weeks. At 9pm, right before bedtime.... as I'm finishing the dishes and getting ready to make dinner.... in the middle of one of Little Guy's tantrums as I'm trying to calm him down. Get the idea? So, he went to my dad's and step-mom's on Sunday for a combined birthday party with his cousin, who turned 2 yesterday. While there, he asked my step-mom to cut his hair for him. Now, she's cut his hair before and it's never turned out very well. When he came home, he begged me to fix it - as I was putting Little Guy into the tub before bed. He had to go to school on Monday looking like Helmet-Head The Bowl-Cut Boy. So, Monday night, even though I threatened to let his hair stay that way (he was explicitly told not to let her cut his hair - and he went so far as to ASK her!), I fixed it for him. He's now a happy 13 year-old boy who is hoping to live down that one day in middle school when everyone noticed him!

The second RAOK is really important to me. I don't know if you remember that, on Sunday, Code Name: Mama had posed a question on her Facebook wall about: What would you do if you saw another parent spanking or harshly punishing their child in front of you? (You can see the full post with comments HERE.) I really didn't have an answer! Call the authorities? Get the hell out of the area? Get in between the parent and child???? I read each and every comment. My favorite was from Pat R. Here are a few excerpts from her answer (it's really long - go check it out with that link, up there!)
 I try to offer empathy for both parent and child. Sometimes, just redirecting the adult to having an adult conversation changes the energy, because they no longer feel isolated and socially challenged by the child's behavior. Out of probably 30-35 times that I have initiated contact in a heated parental exchange, only once did I encounter an unwelcomed response. I just listened and was sad and cried later. But, I had spoken up for the child's experience, which I trust at least validated the child's feelings.

EVERYONE has *thanked me* for "helping" prior to this, when the family was obviously overwhelmed and feeling out of control, even those who had been threatening, or had just hit, their children in public. But, I listen to folks nearby, if I hear things escalating in a store, I can intervene. I've walked up to folks and "commiserated" and offered "helpful book suggestions" on many occasions. I have a forte for intervening in these types of situations. I do it all the time. It gets easier with practice and with no mal-intent.

My goal is to neutralize the anger, not confront it. And I wish to share tools when someone is open to it. I trust that parents mean well, but people do what they know. And sometimes they have never had models of effective communication and conflict resolution. We are all learning all the time. The book suggestions
"Kids, Parents and Power Struggles" and "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen" are well received, although the titles belie their messages of gentle parenting.

So, saying something neutral and empathetic like, 'Gosh you both are having a rough day! I know sometimes it just is such a struggle to keep up with all our activities! We get exhausted running from activity to activity and just want to stay home sometimes!'

or, with concerned interest 'Sounds like she is having a tough day? Do you think she is coming down with a cold? I know our son is out of sorts when he is getting sick.'

or, 'Are you just exhausted from the struggle of it all?! I know I we just need a 'stay home day' when we've had too many activities going on for days in a row!'

or, squat down and talk to the little child and say, 'Gosh, you sound so sad. Are you too tired to play today? I know our son gets too tired to come to gymnastics sometimes. I hope you feel better next time.'

OK, how great was that for an answer?! But, after reading, I had to wonder if I would have the guts to actually say something. I mean, I am NOT the confrontational type and I like to think of myself as a "do whatever you think is right" kind of person who does not judge others for their choices. BUT, this was a hypothetical situation in which and innocent, unable to advocate for him- or her-self, was being hurt! I thought about this topic and Pat's answer on and off until yesterday afternoon.

We went to the library to return out late books (yeah, I know!) Whenever I take Little Guy, we always walk way out of our way to get there - I've found that this gets rid of some of his energy and usually keeps him from running through the stacks and yelling. When we got there, we found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, some little guys between the ages of 2 and 6 might even describe it as "nirvana" - A Thomas and Friend Wooden Train Set (every one of the sets AND all of the trains, cars, even Henry the Helicopter!) Of course, he ran right to it and began playing in earnest.

Soon, he had a new friend, I'll call him 'Kevin', join him. Those guys played together famously. They shared, discussed their favorite engines, sang Thomas songs... it was pretty cool to see two kids under the age of three playing like this! Not once did I have to mention sharing or taking turns.

Something was missing, though. Where was Kevin's mom? He had been playing with Little Guy for a good 20 minutes and I didn't see anyone peek into the kids section. I didn't have to wait long to find out. Within 5 minutes, she came to get him. Here's how it went down (my little one standing there ready to lose it at the end):
"You ready to go home now?"
"Not yet, Mommy."
"Well, it's time to go. Say 'bye'."
"I'm not ready."
(Grabbing his arm.) "I said it's time to go. Come on."
"But Mommy I want to play!"
(Dragging him by the arm.) "I said we're leaving - right now! Walk!!!"
(Crying.) "No! I want to play! Please! No!"
"That's it, we're going to the bathroom and you're getting spanked if you don't get moving RIGHT NOW!"

By now the kid was in full-swing, inconsolable, snot and tears everywhere blubbering. You know the kind - where they can't even get a good breath of air? He had crumpled to the floor in a heap. Everyone in the library was looking while trying to pretend nothing was going on. Just as she started to pick him up, I took a deep breath and intervened (Yeah - ME!)

"Um... sure does suck having a toddler with a tantrum in the middle of the library, doesn't it? heh-heh"
I was ready to be told to mind my own F*****G business and wasn't quite sure what my next move would be. But, of all the responses and facial expressions I expected to be confronted with I was completely taken by surprise - she had a look of fear on her face and I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. This poor girl was about 17 years old and looked like she was ready to run for the hills and never look back. OK, I could handle this, I just knew I could help!

I told her how I used to always have trouble getting Little Guy to leave wherever we were when he was having a great time. I gave her a few ideas that worked for me: 1) Tell him you have to leave in five minutes, that way he knows what's going to happen and can adjust to it. 2) Tell him why you have to leave - "We need to go home to cook dinner." 3) Remind him again when he has one minute left. 4) List a bunch of things you're going to do next, so he has something to look forward to "First we will cook dinner, then we'll eat, then it's bath time, and then we can get ready for bed and read this great Thomas book I got you from the library!"

Now, there's one more trick that I keep up my sleeve that is unique to our library. There are train track right across the street from the library. I keep my ears open and, when I hear that train whistle way off in the distance, I get ready to pounce. "Oh! Do you hear THAT?! I hear a train! Hurry! We have to get our coats on! The train is coming, maybe they engineer will honk to you again! Etc..." My little guy will be barreling toward the door when he thinks he might miss the train!

Not only did I manage to stop the inevitable spanking, but I made a new friend. She asked me for my phone number and even told me she wanted to get together so she could see how I deal with Little Guy on certain issues! OMG... I am completely, 100% flattered! I only hope that I can help her. It's not like I'm Super Mom. My toddler has his tantrum moments where I just don't know what to do. I've certainly wanted to completely disappear from quite a few of those situations, you know? But this time, I managed to have the right answers.

And, just as they were leaving, I heard the train. Kevin was so excited that he dropped his Percy train and asked for his coat! And I took that as our exit, too, and Kevin and Little Guy got to see the train together - talking about the names of all the different cars (they even saw a rare caboose!) I can't wait to meet up at the library next week and the park as soon as it gets warm out.

***PLEASE - don't forget about my RAOK for YOU Giveaway! It ends on Sunday (4/3) night at 11:59 pm EDT. I also have a quick giveaway ending on Saturday (4/2) night at 11:59 EDT for a $5 gift card.

Wordless Wednesday {March 30}

Hmm... not too sure what to choose this week. Let's see... how about this one?

Tasting the goods after all the hard work of making them. Look for a post about our experience in a few days! (And, yes, he was nuts for about three hours before he finally crashed. It was worth it! He had the BEST time!!!)

If you have a minute, jump over to my Super-Quick Giveaway for a $5 code from iCard Select - ends Saturday night.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Couple of Giveaways - Reminder

Please head over to two giveaways I am holding that will end this weekend.

First, there is a Quick Giveaway for a $5 gift card to use on any merchant at iCards Select. It is ending on Saturday night (3/2).

Next, is my March of Kindness giveaway. This one is a little different in that I am not asking anyone to follow, like, tweet, etc. for me. I just have a few fun questions that you can answer, if you'd like. This giveaway is for a copy of John C. Holt's How Children Learn and will end on Sunday night (3/3).

I have Tweet buttons at the top of both giveaway posts and would love it if you'd click on them and share these giveaways with your Twitter followers, or even let your Facebook friends know. Not required, just thought it wouldn't hurt to ask!

I Just LOVE Cherries! {Another Award!}

Last Friday, a few hours after receiving my Stylish Blogger Award, I was alerted to yet another award: The Cherry On Top Award "For beautiful blogs with that little bit extra." (Insert Squeals and Giggles here!)

Tiny Temper from one of my favorite blogs, Prince Charming, My Arse, was kind enough to think of me when she was choosing who to pass this on to. I'm not kidding when I say she writes one of my favorite blogs - I'm almost stalking her! When she didn't post much last week, I was so very close to emailing, Tweeting, and posting on her Facebook wall in an effort to find out what happened. Luckily, I didn't have to reveal my creepy side, she posted just as I was on her blog trying to find her email address!

Thank You to Tiny Temper from Prince Charming, My Arse for this lovely award!
Now, as with most blogger awards, there are a few things I need to do in order to properly accept this award. First, I must list three things that I love about myself. Next, I need to post a photo that I love. And, finally, I need to pass this on to other blogs that I love. Well, here I go...

Hmm... three things that I love about myself?! This is really tough. I don't think of myself that way, you know? Well, I'll try - I really want this award in my sidebar!
  1. I finally have hair down to my waist! Yeah, this is a superficial thing, but you have no idea how much it took to get it this long. There comes a point where your hair just stops growing, for months. You think, "Ah, it's never going to get long. Maybe I'll do something else with it. A bob? Farrah Faucet hair?" And then, one day, you look in the mirror and see it's going again - Yipee!  I am proud of my hair and love it!
  2. I am a critical thinker. This is so very important. I can read just about anything and see the pros and cons of the message. I do not just believe something because an official-sounding organization has published it. I don't listen to my friend who is convinced of X happening if I continue doing Z because she read about it in the paper. Even if I agree whole-heartedly with what is being said, I look for more opinions. This can be dangerous because I truly believe that ignorance can be bliss. Especially when it comes to making decisions for my children. But, I think I love being informed and critical and wouldn't trade it for all the bliss in the world.
  3. I love that I can admit when I don't know something. If my kids ask me a question and I don't know the answer, I do not make one up. I will simply tell them I don't know. Then we go look for the answer. I love giving advice. I think it is very important that children see that adults aren't all-knowing (although, I loved it when my oldest had that hero-worship of me for the brief time of his life when he asked me all the easy questions!) Kids need to know that it's OK to say "I don't know", as long as they also see that it's important to search for an answer.

Whew! I think I got through that OK. Now it's time for a picture I love. This is tough, too! I love my digital camera. I take tons of photos all of the time. I'm so happy that I can capture little moments of time to remember later. So, let's see... a photo I love...

 Yeah, I love this photo. It was taken about six weeks after Little Guy was born. My oldest just made that face on a whim and I happened to capture it. The red-eye from Little Guy was just the icing on the cake! Thin is, Little guy really is a little troublemaker for his big brother. Somehow, he knows that in the hierarchy of out family, Brubber ranks just above him. He does things like throw toys at his big brother, then scream bloody murder when my oldest takes the offending toy away and tells him "No throwing toys!" He's the epitome of the definition of "Little Brother." He doesn't get away with this stuff, but he's stubborn and keeps on trying. UGH!

And now, it's time for me to pass on this award to a few other blogs that I really love.  This is tough. I read quite a few blogs every day and I love each of them for different reasons.

Mama Eve Badge
Mama Eve - Now, I'm sure that she has probably already received so many awards that this one will just be another. But I have to share her blog with you. She is a completely crunchy, natural parent and writes and shares so many great subjects with her readers. I always find each post intriguing and find myself commenting on all of them (usually thanking her for posting!)

Hybrid Rasta Mama - She's just getting started with this blog and I'm already in love! Jennifer is another natural parent who I would like to, someday, be like. Here is a potential schedule of her blog posts that she is thinking of using. It will give you an idea of what she writes about (taken from one of her posts):
Monday – Mama’s Monday Musings. I love this day! You get to see little snippets of my life as well as the inner working of my mind!
Tuesday – Parenting post of the week
Wednesday – My day off! J
Thursday – Recipe of the Week
Friday – Mindful Mother Challenge Results
SaturdayNatural Parents Network and Job Description Mommy.

The Crafty Nest

The Crafty nest - I'm pretty sure that Vanessa has already received this award. She's really the cherry on top when it comes to fun and interesting crafts both with and without your kids. The crafts are easy to follow and never the same old thing. Whenever I find that we have an hour or so to do something, I check out this blog because I know I'll find something that both of the kids and I will enjoy.

And, I guess that's it! There are lots of other blogs I'd love to share this award with, but it's been days and I really need to get this posted. You can check out my sidebar for other blogs I like. I truly like the blogs over there, they're not just there to win a giveaway!

I am so sorry - there was one more blog that I wanted to pass this awar on to. I feel terrible about forgetting. But, being the kind person that she is, I'm sure I'm already forgiven!



Becoming Crunchy - Kelly is also a relatively new blogger. I feel like we have a ton in common. She's writing her blog as a kind of journal about her journey to, well, "Becoming Crunchy." She's a few steps ahead of me on this road, so I really love following her posts to see what the next step might be for me. Please go check out her blog and follow - she has a lot of great things to say!

Quick Giveaway - $5 Gift Card {Ends 4/2}

So, I received a $5 gift card from iCard Gift Card Select. What you do is take the code and redeem it for a gift card from the merchant of your choice. I don't shop at any of these merchants, so I really have no use for it. Rather than just let it sit there, unused, I figured I'd see if anyone else would like it. Here is the list of merchants that you can get a $5 card from:
On the Border eGift card
Romano's Macaroni Grill eGift Card
The Popcorn Factory
The Voice Library
Now, after checking out the iCard site, I understand that some of these merchants do not redeem the $5 card, so it may be that a few of these won't go through. There weren't many that didn't, though.

So, here are the rules:

Mandatory - Just leave a comment with something like, "I want to win," in it along with your email address.

Extra Entries -
  • Follow me on GFC (top right side of this page)
  • Like me on Facebook (there's an easy "like" widget in the right sidebar on this page)
  • Follow me on Twitter

This giveaway is not sponsored by anyone. I merely received a gift card and don't need it, so I'm passing it on to you. I am in no way affiliated with iCard Select or any of its merchants. I am not responsible for any injuries, etc. resulting from someone winning this prize (like heart attack from learning you won.) This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm EDT on Saturday, April 2. Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to accept before a new winner is drawn. I'll use the little widget at the bottom of this page to choose the winner.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Was Featured!

Please go check out The King's Court IV's Gardening 101: Shout Out! This week, she featured some of my tips and photos!


Yay! It's Time For Meet Me On Monday!!! {March 28}

Every Sunday Never Growing Old will post five get to know you  questions that you can copy and paste into your own Monday post and we  can all learn a little more about each and every one of us!!

I had a great week! I won a bunch of stuff (and here), ended my first giveaway with lots of entries,  started a new giveaway, and have been asked to write a guest post! (Yeah, little ol' me!) OK, on to this week's questions!

1.  Crunchy or soft tacos?
      Soft. Always. It's not that I don't like the taste or texture but, as I mentioned in last week's spaghetti question. I hate making a mess when I eat. And hard-shell tacos and I do NOT get along. No matter how carefully I bite into one, no matter that I've wrapped the darn thing in 18 napkins, meat, cheese, salsa, etc. ends up on my lap.
He really doesn't look pissed. More of a, "What the hell are YOU looking at?" face.

2.  Do you scrapbook?
      Nope. I have all of my photos on the computer. Whenever a good photobook deal comes along, I upload my pics to whatever site is doing it and make myself a book. I just don't have time. Now, I've tried scrapbooking, but it just never worked out. I have a little one who likes to help and, when you spend upwards of $5 on a sticker, you really don't want it in the middle of Daddy's face!
THIS is what it would look like if I attempted to scrapbook at this point in my life!

3.  Do you take any daily medications?
     Um. Medications, no. I take prenatal vitamins because Little Guy is still nursing on and off and I occasionally take Fenugreek to keep that milk supply going and to help me out with stuffy nose and coughing from seasonal allergies. Oh! I lied. I DO take Claritin from April through October, everyday, along with a giant spoonful of raw, local honey for those allergies. They're terrible. If I don't keep on myself to do those two things, I will have a sinus infection within a day. Sucks.
My absolute worst fear in the summertime (especially if I'm down wind.) You will see me literally running away from this guy with my nose and mouth covered with a Kleenex and a look of pure terror in my eyes.
4.  What is your favorite sound?


      OH, okay. An actual sound? Low, rumbling thunder in the evening, warning of an impending storm, after a long, hot, dry summer day.

5.  Where were you born?
     In a hospital. OK, I know, I'm getting tired and the smart-ass is really coming out tonight! I was born in Toledo, Ohio. The home of Jeep, Libby Glass, and Owens-Illinois (AKA Owens-Corning.) Known as "The Glass City". Oh, and it's where Klinger (Jamie Farr) from MASH is from and Tony Packos.

OKAY... I'm off to link up and check out some of your answers. See you all next week, if not before!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lower Your Alexa Weekly Hop {March 28}

Thanks for stopping by on the Lower Your Alexa Hop! Please make sure you have your Alexa toolbar installed AND on! 
If you have a few minutes, check out some of my recent posts from this past week:

And here are the rules, as copied from our hop host, Real Mom Reviews:

Please Read..
I'm BEGGING you!

This hop works a bit differently than most!
IMPORTANT Please make sure you have the ALEXA TOOLBAR installed.

Why do you need the Alexa Toolbar? "Alexa computes traffic rankings by analyzing the Web usage of millions of Alexa Toolbar users and data obtained from other, diverse traffic data sources." Now in English... When someone with the Alexa Toolbar visits your site, it helps lower your Alexa! More info on that here and here

In the Linky Please leave a link to a post you would like people to hop to and leave a comment!

Then hop to the other blogs on the linky and leave a comment on their post!
Do NOT just link to your blog, link to a POST people can leave a comment on, so you know people actually are hopping

Welcome to Week Two of the "Lower Your Alexa Hop"!

PLEASE grab the "Lower Alexa" button and link it to a post about this hop. Because this is a new hop, it will really help get the word out!

If you follow me in any way (GFC, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) please leave a comment and let me know!!! Even if you don't, leave me a comment so I may visit your blog and help you out, too!!!

I'm a "Stylish Blogger"?!

Yes-Sir-ee Bob! At least, that's what Kelly from Becoming Crunchy thinks! We recently "met" through another blog (I'm thinking it was probably Code Name: Mama?) Anyway. I'm very happy to accept this great surprise of an award! Here's my lovely button, which I will be proudly displaying in my sidebar from now on:

Now, in accepting this award, there are a few things that I must do:
  1. Of course, I need to thank and link back to the person who was so kind as to bestow the Stylish Blogger Award to me.
  2. Share 7 things about myself.
  3. Award 10 - 15 bloggers who I feel are "stylish" this award.
  4. And, notify those bloggers of their award.

So, first of all:
Thank you so very, very much to Kelly at Becoming Crunchy for thinking of my little blog when you were choosing who to pass this award to! (Go check out her blog. She went to go see Ina May Gaskin in Toronto and is going to be writing all about it. I can't wait to read her post!!!)

Next, there are those seven things about me. Hmm... let me see if I can come up with some interesting ones for you.
  1. I graduated from high school a year early. No, it wasn't because I was super-smart. I absolutely hated the rural school I went to. I had moved from a city to B.F.E. the summer between 8th and 9th grade and, boy, was it a shock! The culture was all wrong for me. So, my freshman year, I skipped school for four months straight. I just didn't go. I finally got caught when I made my weekly call to the school as my mom, saying that I was still really sick. Problem was, they had my mom on the phone on another line at the same time! They didn't tell me a thing. Instead, my mom came tearing into the driveway like a bat out of hell about an hour later! Anyway, I decided to go to summer school each summer to rack up enough credits to get out of school ASAP. Oh, and the summer classes were made to ensure that all those kids who failed would pass, so they were extremely easy!
  2. I'm left-handed. So is my husband. So was my first husband. And my dad, my brother, my grandfather... About 90% of the people I meet and really like turn out to be left-handed. I don't go around looking for left-handed people to make friends with (or marry!), it just turns out that way. Oh, and by the way, two lefties always make a righty. At least, that's my experience!
  3. When I waited tables at a nice hotel in Los Angeles, I met some pretty famous people (and I didn't freak out, either!) I waited on: 
  • Joe Walsh - he tipped pretty well and was nice and polite.
  • Marlon Brando - He always ordered blueberry pie. And he wanted it heated - just not in the microwave. I'd have to take the piece of pie, fight my way past the cooks in the kitchen, put the pie in the oven for 5 minutes (and hope I didn't forget about it!), then transfer it to a plate and pop a scoop of ice cream on top. He tipped, but it was 20%, which doesn't amount to much for a cup of coffee and pie ala mode.
  • Willie Nelson! - OK, I'm not a huge country music fan, OK? But this guy is well-respected by me for his ideals. He came walking in and sat at the counter with his long hair un-braided (yeah, this was way before the weird page boy cut.) He ordered a simple breakfast of eggs, hash browns, sausage & toast. He left me a $50 tip!!!! OMG! I think it was 1) because he gets the working class thing, and 2) I managed to keep every drooling tourist (and most of the restaurant staff ) away from him so he could eat his food in peace.

 Ahh... I screwed up the numbering thing with the bullets! Oh, well.

4.   I used to work at a wild animal rehabilitation center. Did you know that raccoons and squirrels make up 98% of the wildlife that abuse drugs and alcohol? OK, OK. It's just that when I see the "rehabilitation" thing, it's the first thing I think of! What I really did was volunteer once a week to care for animals that had been hit by cars, orphaned, accidentally shot by hunters, etc. And I raised two raccoons until they were weaned from the bottle every spring. And I used to run around the woods with a big net, trying to catch injured owls and other birds (yeah, imagine running through a bunch of trees with a huge fishing net on a pole. You get about two feet before you have to climb up a tree to untangle the damn thing - over and over...) It was fun and I learned a lot. I still take in injured animals that my oldest finds from time to time. *I'd like to add here that no wild animal should become a pet - ever! At a certain age, all animals "mature" and have urges. When they have those urges, they tend to become aggressive. They have to - in nature they need to fight off other potential suitors to their mate. They will be even more aggressive if they're being held captive and don't have anywhere to release all of that pent-up ... uh.. you know what I mean, right?

6.   Oh, geez! Am I only t six??? OK, if you made it this far, email me and I'll send you some kind of blog award. Maybe "most attentive reader of blogs" or something.OK, here's one. I love going fishing. I've done it since I was a very little kid. By the time I was seven, I was going down to the river on my own. I can put a worm on a hook (I just do NOT think about what I'm doing!), take a fish off the hook without hurting it, fix any kind of pole, and know which hook, line, and sinker to use in all kinds of situations. I always throw my catches back. Drives my husband nuts. I tell him that if he wants fish that bad then he can catch his own. He's tried, but he sucks. He can't sit still for two minutes, let alone an entire afternoon. Fishing is the only way I can get a few hours completely alone. No one else in my family likes fishing, so I can go sit under a tree, toss in a line, and read, read, read!

7.  We made it! I watch TV with the sound off and Closed Captioning on. I live in a tiny apartment with two kids and a husband who's losing his hearing. It is always loud around here - ALL. DAY. LONG.  I get aggravated from the noise. So, I stay up late. Once everyone's in bed, I put Turner Classic Movies on and pray that the movie they're showing is captioned. I can read super-fast now and I can almost always guess what's going on in a movie that's not captioned.

And now onto who I'd like to pass this award onto. I'm choosing blogs that I love and aren't really popular - YET. These blogs are great and more people should know about them. (No, there aren't 10-15, but I figure this post is WAY too long already!)

Prince Charming, My Arse!
OK, first of all, how could you NOT be stylish with those slippers?! You have to go read "Tiny Temper's" posts. You'll be rolling on the floor. She writes about somewhat serious subjects with so much humor!  Oh, and she's British, so she uses really cool words like: Crikey!, bloke, lorries, and grassing (I've got NO CLUE as to what that means, but it's still cool, right?)

The Peaceful Housewife
 I love Jenny's posts! She shares some of the easiest and yummiest recipes around. She has lots of great crafts, too! I love reading her posts and, although I'm nowhere near being a religious person, I always take a little something from her message with me to mull over the rest of the day. Her thoughts on parenting are very similar to mine and I have learned quite a few new ways to deal with the frustrations of being the parent of a toddler through some of her writing.

Lucy Montgomery
I'm Lucy
You may be familiar with Lucy's other blogs, Lucy Likes It and The Ultimate Gift Guide. I'm Lucy is a little different. It's an artistic blog that I really enjoy reading. Her posts are funny and enlightening. And she has just started a hop this week (not sure which day, yet) called Constrictive Critique where you can link a post of something creative you have done and get constructive criticism from other blog hoppers. I love this idea! It is so hard to get real opinions that help you get better. Most people will just say, "Oh, yeah. It's great." when you ask for an opinion. This hop is designed to get actual help and honest opinions. You can submit any kind of creative endeavor - poetry, photography, artwork, anything that is creative and you need someone's honest opinion about. Go check it out!


Tawna began this blog after watching a documentary called The SecretUp to that point, she says her life was just not what she wanted - negativity had taken over. The movie helped her realize that she wouldn't be happy until she chose to be happy and to look at things in a positive light. She posts lots of positive quotes and things that have happened to her that most would consider a "bad day" and shows her readers the little ray of sunshine through all of the bad. I love reading her posts - I can always use a little boost of happy during my day!

Not So Average, Hippie Mommy
I LOVE Cassie's blog! We are very like-minded when it comes to living green and attachment parenting. Only, she's what I aspire to - I am not quite as "green" or "attachment-oriented" as I'd like to be. Reading her posts gives me inspiration and ideas of how I can keep changing to become a better mommy and person.

OK, that's it! Thank you very much!!! (Play exit music here)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Lucky Day??? You bet!

Yesterday was just amazing. In fact, I'm remembering March 25 next year to see just how it goes. Do you know that, three years ago, I learned I was pregnant with Little Guy? Last year, I received my tax return on March 25 (I had to go check in my files to be sure!) And yesterday, I had four really great, out-of-the-ordinary things happen to me.

First, when I checked my emails, I saw that the Umi shoes I had managed to win from Cincinnati Coupons were on their way! I love these shoes and know that there is no way I could (or would, for that matter) pay $60 for a pair of sandals for a little one who will outgrow them in one season. Heck, I can't justify buying myself a pair of sandals that I'll wear for years for more than $15! But Umi is a company that really is worth the extra money, if you can afford it. They're shoes are made in an environmentally-friendly way (from the leather processing to putting them into the boxes) and they're biodegradable when they've lost their usefulness. Plus, it's really hard to find good sandals for toddlers. We didn't even have any for him last year. All I could find were crappy plastic ones or flip-flops. Yeah, can you imagine a little one, just learning to walk, trying to navigate a sidewalk in those things?!

Here's what I picked for Little Guy:
Racer in Black


I jumped over to check out my Facebook pages. After going through all of my personal page stuff, I hopped over to my FB blog page and was greeted with this:
Hi McCrenshaw! You are on my list to get a Stylish Blogger Award :)

What?! No way! My first blog award - ever!!! Look for my post "receiving" my award later today!


I got another award later that afternoon!
Hop over to my blog - there's an award waiting! :-)
Yep! another one. Yeah, there'll be ANOTHER post for this one later.


My first giveaway ended last night for the stickers from Sticker You. I was amazed to have received exactly 200 entries. I had only 79 entries on Wednesday and, thanks to Airplanes and Dragonflies, Tight Wad in Utah, and Mommy D's Kitchen, those more than doubled in two days!

All of these great things happened thanks to the great blogging community I've become a part of. I was so apprehensive about starting this blog a few months ago. That one big question hung over my head for the first month - What if no one reads my stuff? Well, I decided to just write my thoughts and if anyone liked it, so be it, If not, at least I had an outlet for all of these ideas I have, right? And now there are like-minded people actually reading my stuff and I've found some great blogs that I love to read, too!

Crazed Fan Weekend Hop {March 26-27}

The Blog Entourage

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. If you're a new follower, PLEASE leave me a comment so I can check out your blog and follow back!

If you're interested in joining this hop, here is how, taken straight from The Blog Entourage:
Just a few things to do before you link up:

1. Grab the code for this hop

The Blog Entourage
*Post this in a new blog post today, or add it to your page.

2. Follow The Blog Entourage (if you already do, please follow on Twitter, FB, etc.)
Click here to  join The Blog Entourage on Facebook, where you can share links to your posts everyday!
And if you want to, please visit my other blogs, Kaitlin & Kylie's and The Green Girl.

3. Follow my lovely co-host, The Unexpected Mother.

Your link will show up on all lists, so you only need to enter it on one.

4. Follow this week's featured host, my daughter!

Together we have started a cooking blog, Cooking with Kylie , for kids and parents who love to cook together. We will share fun snack ideas, healthy lunch ideas, and we will take all kinds of recipes and adapt them to make them easy for kids to follow!
I make sure to follow each of you back. If I haven't yet, just leave me a comment.

WINNER of Sticker You Giveaway!!!!!

OK, first of all, you guys ROCK!!! I can't believe I received a whopping 200 entries! I have to give credit to a couple of blogs that helped me get those last 100 entries over the past two days:

And the winner is  #158 - Caroline:

Caroline said... 

CONGRATS!!! I'm sending you an email right now...

Don't forget - you can still get a 25% discount off your order with the code: McCrenshaw25 through March 31. And after that, Sticker You has given me an ongoing code for 10% off: McCrenshaw. Also, if you check on their Facebook page, they have codes posted often. I saw one for 40% off last week!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Last Day to Enter - Sticker You Giveaway

Just a reminder that this giveaway will end tonight at 11:59 pm. Entries are pretty low, so you have a pretty good chance! And don't forget that you can get 25% off with the code McCrenshaw25 until the end of march at Sticker You.

Go HERE to enter.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Want to Share This

OK, so I've been having Little Guy help me around the house a lot more since I wrote about him helping me clean the kitchen earlier this month. One of his favorite things to do is vacuum. Since there are always little crumbs all over the floor from his snacking, we have to sweep everyday. He just loves watching the little pieces of crackers and what-not get sucked into the hose.

Well, since he was doing such a great job the other night, I decided to run into the kitchen real quick to fill up my coffee cup and get him some more juice. Then I heard it - BBbrrrrrraaaaappppp!!!!! I literally dropped my coffee mug and flew into the living room. This is what I found:

I'm just glad that my husband uncharacteristically decided to clean those hose attachments the day before! I don't know why he did it - we never clean those things - but it made the shock factor of seeing this when I ran into the room a little less!

My Random Act of Kindness for YOU - A GIVEAWAY!!! {March of Kindness 3/24}

Please - only enter this giveaway if you really, truly want this book!Thanks.

When my oldest was about 2 1/2 years old, we began making bi-weekly trips to the library. One trip to our local library in North Hollywood, and one trip to the "big, fancy library" in downtown Los Angeles. Since he was so little at the time, library trips were usually composed of him running through the stacks, stopping every once in a while to look at a book that he deemed interesting just by looking at its spine. I didn't have time to browse for just the right book. So, I learned the Dewey Decimal System by heart and would steer him toward the section I was interested in the most on that particular visit. I began choosing MY books the same way he did - which spine looked most interesting. Hey - I found a lot of really great books that way!
See why we went to this library? THIS is the inside!!!

Los Angeles Central Library

On one trip, I decided to hit the downtown library's basement where they kept all of the books on teaching and learning. As I was trying to keep up with my zooming little one, I saw a book with a bright yellow spine. I grabbed it without even looking at the title. After we had left the library and were on the subway heading toward the San Fernando Valley, Mr. Zoomy fell asleep. I pulled the book out from the bag filled with Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry books and read the title, How Children Learn by John Caldwell Holt. "Hmm..." I thought to myself, "Sounds interesting." By the time we got off the train, I was hooked!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with John Holt, here's a very short explanation: John Holt was a teacher and a researcher. He was a fifth grade teacher in private schools for many years. Since he had friends and relatives with very young children, he began to notice the huge difference in attitude toward learning between his 10 year old students and the toddlers he was around. The young children were bold and never seemed to mind making mistakes - they just tried again. They were eager to learn by observing the people and the world around them. Conversely, the fifth graders were withdrawn and self-conscious of the possible errors they might make. Holt decided to study how and why children went from being bold explorers to timid and self-protecting pre-adolescents in an attempt to find a better way to educate. He and another teacher, Bill Hull took on a project where one would teach while the other observed - day in and day out - to see what teaching strategies worked and, when they failed, why. Holt ended up writing three books with his 11 years of observation: How Children Fail, How Children Learn, and Learning All the Time.

My RAOK to you, my readers, is a giveaway of How Children Learn. I LOVE this book! I think that, rather than putting some "just-in-case" formula samples in those free diaper bags they send new parents home from the hospital with, they should put a copy of this book. Every new teaching student needs a copy, too, along with anyone who works with children or has any say in education policies. In this book, Hold described his observations of children learning naturally. He explains his theories behind the tantrums of two-year-olds,why we should let children decide what they need to learn, and the importance of fantasy play and games for children. John Holt was a huge advocate for unschooling - some say he was the father of the homeschooling/unschooling movement. He founded "Growing Without Schooling",a homeschooling magazine.

To learn more about John Holt, start HERE.

Oh, geez... I just can't explain it well! This guy is my hero!!! As a mom and a student teacher, his writings hold special meaning to me. He just plain makes sense. Here are a few excerpts from the book:

"...All I am saying in this book can be summed up in two words - Trust Children. Nothing could be more simple - or more difficult. Difficult, because to trust children we must trust ourselves - and most of us were taught as children that we could not be trusted."
"...It is only in the presence of loving, respectful, trusting adults like Millicent Shinn or Glenda Bissex that children will learn all they are capable of learning, or reveal to us what they are learning ... Of two ways of looking at children now growing in fashion - seeing them as monsters of evil who must be beaten into submission, or as little two-legged walking computers whom we can program into geniuses, it is hard to know which is worse, and will do more harm. I write this book to oppose them both."
"... This book did not change, as I hoped it might, the way schools deal with children. I said, trust them to learn. The schools would not trust them, and even if they had wanted to, the great majority of the public would not have let them. Their reasons boil down to these: (1) Children are no good; they won't learn unless we make them. (2) The world is no good; children must be broken to it. (3) I had to put up with it; why shouldn't they? To people who think this way, I don't know what to say. Telling them about the real learning of real children only makes them cling to their theories about the badness and stupidity of children more stubbornly and angrily than ever. Why do they do this? Because it gives them a license to act like tyrants and to feel like saints."
And finally,

"...In this chapter I will say something very simple, that may not often have been said before. Children use fantasy not to get out of, but to get into, the real world."
*** Edit: I wrote this post at 3am, so I forgot to add something very important about this book. It's a very easy read! This is not full of technical mumbo-jumbo and theories. It's just a guy writing about what he's observed and his reflections of those observations. You could open this book at any page, read for 5 minutes, and take something away from it to think about. It goes kind of like this: "Today I was watching a two-year-old do _____. First she tried this way, then she tried that way. When she got frustrated and near tear, I thought I could help her out by doing ____." Then, after the story, he will explain why what he did (or didn't do) was the right or wrong thing and why he thinks so. He never tells you what you should or shouldn't do - only suggests!

The book will be used. I am sorry about that, but I have some very good reasons. First and foremost - this is reusing at its best! I could never understand why someone would insist on a brand new book when you could get one that was almost-new and not cut down trees or spend an arm and a leg. Second, The company I buy from, Better World Books, gives a major portion of their profits to literacy initiatives. And, finally, you may be wondering about whether my choosing used books to save a tree vs. using trucks, etc. to transport said books halfway across the country, right? Well, Better World Books works with a consulting company to actually make sure that the carbon imprint of shipping is the lowest possible. Check it out here. **Being a used book store, I may not be able to get it through them. Right now, they only have one copy. So, if you're the winner, don't be disappointed if the book doesn't come from them. I'll find another store with similar interests as Better World Books.

So, how do you enter? I'm not going to ask that you follow, like, subscribe to, or share my blog. If you like what I write, I hope you will. But, this is a random act of kindness and I want nothing in return except the knowledge that I've been able to share this book with someone else.

WIN: One slightly used copy (see above paragraph if you skipped down to the bottom!) of John Caldwell Holt's How Children Learn. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway ends Sunday, April 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm, EDT. Winner will be notified via a blog post and email and will have 48 hours from the time the notification email has been sent to contact me or a new winner will be chosen.

Mandatory Entry:
Promise that, when you're through reading this book, you'll pass it on to someone else (a new parent, a teacher, anyone who might benefit from its message.) Just leave me a comment with your promise and a way to contact you.

Extra entries (these will be fun - I promise!)
Answer any or all of these questions. There are no right or wrong answers. PLEASE - keep your answers nice. There's no need to get nasty! I will delete any comments/entries that have a "them's fightin' words" ring to them. 

Please leave the number of the question you're answering in the comment, too, along with a way to contact you.
  1. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?
  2. If you could be any age again for a week, what age would you choose and why?
  3. Were you a sneaky child or teen? (Share a good story if you want!)
  4. Share your favorite quote! (Don't forget to say who said it!)
  5.  What vegetable do you most resemble?
The fine print: This is a giveaway that I am hosting on my own. I accept no liability. You enter at your own risk - reading this book may alter your opinions on raising children ans education You've been warned!