Short, sweet and slightly pine-scented...


I just wanted to hop on and wish everyone a very, very Merry Christmas! I hope you're all having a wonderful day and that your evening is warm and snuggly, and full of relaxed sighs signifying a job well done. :-)

All my best to you and yours! Now bring on the giddy kiddies and the eggnog!




In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukka' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukka!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' -Dave Barry


So this will probably be my last Christmas-shopping-related post for the year, seeing as how you won't even be able to get this item in time to put it under the tree, but it's so flippin' cute, I had to share! Kids.woot.com has the Zing Foam Sweet Home Playhouse for $79.99 plus $5 s/h today, which is half the price it's selling for elsewhere online. Measuring 70” x 50” x 49” (L x W x H), it's big enough for a preschooler to easily get in and out of, but since it's made up of individual foam panels, it breaks down to 35.2" x 45.2" x 5.5" for storage. How cool is that?!?

So if you're interested, head over and pick one up as a belated Christmas gift, or tuck it away for future gift-giving purposes. Either way, get going 'cause there's less than 96 hours left 'til the big day!

Merry, merry, everyone!!!

 

  
Oh, and happy Winter Solstice! What could be better than longer days and more sunlight--spring will be here before you know it! :-)

May the lights of Hanukkah usher in a better world for all humankind. -Unknown

So I was obviously WAY off when I posted Sunday that there were 7 days left 'til Hanukkah, since it had already started on the 11th at sundown. Stupid countdown calendar website!!! In a woefully belated attempt to celebrate the Festival of Lights, I thought I'd post links to some of my favorite Hanukkah recipes--I hope you enjoy them, but first you'll have to work on  overcoming the fear of frying! 

Traditional Latkes  - Seriously, I could live on potato pancakes! Any of you northeast Ohioans ever had the Beef Latka at the Chicago Deli in Solon? A miracle of deli science, it's built from two latkes, a mountain of corned beef and sour cream. Oh how I miss those heavenly "sandwiches"!!!

And in a quick side note to my fellow gentiles, did you know it's tradition to eat foods fried in oil on Hanukkah as a commemoration of the miracle of the container of oil, which followed Judas Maccabeus’ defeat of the Syrians and the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem? A most yummy custom indeed! (Thanks to Wikipedia and www.huliq.com for the Hanukkah history)

Happy Hanukkah!







Have a burgeoning Julia Child or Alton Brown on your hands?


Kids.Woot.com has a beautiful KidKraft Play Kitchen - replete with dishes, silverware, pot and ladle, oven mitt and pot holder - on sale today for $89.99 + $5 s/h. O.K., so maybe your little Alton won't love the pastel color scheme, but at $95 shipped, you could afford a can or two of masculine-hued spray paint! See, you just have to think creatively sometimes - which is exactly what your peanut will be able to do with this super-cool, super-detailed, super-stocked, super scullery!

Super!

Happy Monday, everyone!

 
No, this isn't the KidKraft Kitchen, but given how much the girls enjoy playing with their 
Little Tikes galley (thanks again, Meg and Aunt Katie!!!), I can certainly see a
Pastel Cottage Kitchen in our future!




Anyone know where their Cabbage Patch Kid is? Tickle-Me Elmo? Furby?


So I guess these little guys aren't chock-full of toxic metaloids after all. If you know someone who is desperate for their own Mr. Squiggles this Christmas, TotallyAnything.com has them today for $28.50 + $6 s/h. They've had Zhu Zhu Pets up for sale a few times in the past weeks, so if Mr. Squiggles doesn't do it for you, they might have a different critter available later in the week. Or they might not.

Oh, and don't forget, there's only 12 days 'til Christmas, 7 days 'til Hanukkah, 13 days 'til Kwanzaa and 9 days 'til the Winter Solstice! :-)






Shopping tip: You can get shoes for 85 cents at the bowling alley! -Anonymous


Had to post this one! Not only is this a super-cute gift idea that little peanuts will love to play with (or snuggle with, depending on their bowling skills), it's a fair trade item, so your purchase will also help artisans in less developed areas of the world. Babysteals.com has Bowling Buddies play sets on sale for $23.98 plus s/h, which is 63%-off the regular retail price of $65. I'm sure these will sell out quickly, so if you're interested, click on over and buddy-up!

After all, it's never too soon to begin preparing your kiddos for the fast-paced, glamorous world of the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association)! :-)

Happy Friday!



And it's up!


Well, I'm happy to report that the Christmas tree is finally on display at the Hooper house and everyone seems pleased. :-) It's not exactly on-par with the tree at Rockefeller Center, but it's also not as pitiful as Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. Somewhere in the middle, our happy little tannenbaum makes my babies' eyes sparkle, and truth be told, that's all I need this Christmas.

Only 15 days to go!




Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. -Dr. Seuss


It's sad to say, but I'm suffering from a serious case of lack-of-Christmas-Spirit-itis, and it's really bumming me out. In years past, our tree would have been up on Thanksgiving, our stockings would already have been hung by the chimney with care, cookies would be baking in the oven and my disposition would be bordering on elf-like cheeriness. This year, however, I've yet to connect with my inner-Santa's-helper.

We were out of town this Thanksgiving, so the Christmas tree wasn't up on the 26th, and 10 days later, it still isn't up. I don't even know where we've got it stashed--the garage maybe?--which isn't an auspicious start for Tannenbaum 2009. I did manage to wrestle the boxes of decorations out of the attic, but haven't figured out how to get the stockings up without the girls trying to use them to clamber up the side of the chimney. And if I had my druthers, I would've started my baking by now--filling the downstairs freezer with all kinds Pat-tempting goodies--but the heating element in the oven decided to fail catastrophically Wednesday night, so there'll be no chocolate crinkles, sugar cookies or snickerdoodles 'til the new part arrives from Texas (thank you ebay!).

The biggest holiday hurdle to overcome, though, is the severe case of toddler-induced malaise from which I am currently suffering. During the past 20 months, I've heard the phrase, "You've certainly got your hands full!" approximately 73,726 times from various strangers, acquaintances and friends while out and about with The Peanuts. To this frequently encountered greeting, my response has usually been, "It's really not bad. They're great little girls!" And while I stand steadfastly by the "great little girls" part of that statement--really, I couldn't ask for two sweeter, happier, more loving little people to call me "Mama"--my hands seem fuller and fuller every day (incorrect grammar, I know, but it stays).

I have myself to blame--I lulled myself into a false sense of maternal security when the girls were teeny. Once we got past those first few months of midnight feedings and endless spit-up, I really thought I had a handle on being the mom of a duo. They ate the same things, they chewed on the same toys, they slept at the same time, they giggled at the same stories, they pooped at the same time (sorry, but it's true)--our world was a rather reliable realm of sameness and I loved it. Then they started walking.

It was a milestone I'd been dreading since they first pulled themselves into a standing position, and though they really didn't start cruising until the 15-month mark, their independence of motion jarringly marked the beginning of their independence of spirit. Suddenly, no one wanted to eat--not even the beloved combo of avocados and macaroni and cheese!--the only toy they wanted to play with was the one their sister was holding, naptime became a total crap shoot as to who would sleep and for how long, and diaper changes evolved into a part-wrestling match, part-hazmat power struggle that I now dread almost as much as mealtime.

I can hear you snickering out there, my dear mommy and daddy friends who have already been down this road, and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop it right now! Don't get me wrong, I knew this was coming--I'd seen all of your kiddos go through the same thing, but in those days, I was just "Fun Aunt Erin" who could leave when the tempers and screams reached levels I couldn't handle. Now, I'm the one who has to figure out why the MagnaDoodle is pissing Evie off and how I can get Camie to eat something more than Kraft cheese singles. And quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I mean EXHAUSTED!!! Worse than those first few weeks home with the girls. At least back then--back in the good old days--I knew it was just a matter of time before we all found our bearings and began moving forward with purposeful stride. Today, the only stride found around these parts involves a rapid succession of breakneck steps, a stumble or two over a variety of strewn objects and an ensuing tumble that may or may not end it tears (theirs or mine).

I know I've just got to adjust to this new phase of our lives together--not expecting a rhyme or reason to their moods, doing my best to roll with the punches (figurative punches, not literal ones, 'cause we don't hit our sister!) and, above all, just trying to keep us all on an even keel. Good gravy, I don't think I could have fit another emotionally themed cliché into that last sentence if I'd tried. :-)

Maybe the holidays will get me into that new way of thinking. Watching the girls marvel at the Christmas lights, be-bop along to Jingle Bell Rock and delight in tasting the special treats enjoyed only at Christmas time (eggnog and cranberry sauce anyone?) might be just the boost my deflated psyche needs right now. I mean, what's more charming than the sight of your beautiful children on Santa's knee...

Then again, there's always Valentine's Day...


Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand. And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand. -Elton John

I know this is a late post, but holy frijoles--these might just be the cutest thing I've ever seen!!! Mamabargains.com has a set of Taylor Joelle Balerina and Pretty In Pink tights on sale for $9.75 plus s/h. They could cost $100 and I'd still be tempted to buy them (o.k., probably not, but seriously, THESE ARE SO STINKIN' CUTE!!!). 

So if you've got a teeny girl in your life--the tights are available in 0-6 and 6-12 month sizes-- get over there now 'cause they're going to sell fast!




Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are!


Well, I guess I'm jumping right back into my laissez-faire, capitalist-pig ways today, but it's for a good reason--really! Kids.Woot.com is offering Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories, a four-DVD set, for $4.99 plus $5 shipping. If you're not familiar with Ms. Duvall's children's productions--we're not talking The Shining here, folks--you're missing out. Her Faerie Tale Theater series brought hours of entertainment/inspiration to a couple of little Murches back in the oh-so-awesome 80's. I'm not personally familiar with the Bedtime Stories series, but according one major online retailer (where this set sells for $17.99 + s/h):

"Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories features all 26 of the original animated adaptations narrated by legendary musicians and Hollywood mega-stars. Celebrities bring beloved characters to life! Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories first aired in 1992 to rave reviews and went on to earn an Emmy Award nomination. Self-professed childhood dreamer and award-winning actress Shelley Duvall produced the series and asked 24 celebrity friends to narrate it. Featuring the voices of Bette Midler, Rick Moranis, Bonnie Raitt, Jean Stapleton, Dudley Moore, John Candy, Christian Slater, Martin Short, James Earl Jones, Billy Crystal, Candice Bergen, Michael J. Fox, Steve Martin, Richard Dreyfuss, Charles Grodin, Shelley Duvall, Mary Steenburgen, Rhea Perlman, Shelley Long, Sissy Spacek, Morgan Freeman, Angela Lansbury, Kathy Bates, Ed Begley Jr., and Ringo Starr. Revisit stories from your favorite authors! From There's a Nightmare in My Closet to Elbert's Bad Word, Shelley Duvall's Bedtime Stories features animated adaptations of tales written by some of the most beloved children's authors of all time, including Virginia Lee Burton, Tomie de Paola, Hardie Gramatky, Mercer Mayer, Marilyn Sadler and Audrey Wood."

So if you'd like to introduce your kiddos to the gone-too-soon likes of Dudley Moore and John Candy, as well as as the amazing talents of James Earl Jones, Steve Martin, Angela Lansbury, Morgan Freeman, Kathy Bates and Ringo Starr (?!?), click on over to Kids.Woot.com

And remember, there's only 25 more days until Christmas, 12 days until Hanukkah, 22 days until the December Solstice and 26 days until Kwanzaa!


Behold the 80's Awesomeness!





Ah, there it is! The holy grail of Christmas gifts, the Red Ryder 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. -Ralphie Parker (Jean Shepherd)

The Christmas shopping season is officially upon us and though I've been filling the "pages" of this blog with one sale post after another lately, today I'm going to refrain. I figure that if you're on the lookout for can't-miss deals, this is the one day you'll be able to find them without any difficulty or any additional guidance.

So if you're out and about this Black Friday (anyone else ready to boycott that term for life?), I wish you good luck, Godspeed and successful hunting. And if you're like me, sitting in front of your computer at lunchtime, still cozy in your jammies, I beseech you to avoid overdoing it with the Thanksgiving leftovers (as I did about 15 minutes ago) and make the most of your long weekend. But whether you're shopping or shunning the crowds today, may this be the start of a wonderful, respectful and joyous holiday season for you, your family and friends!

Gobble, gobble!




Hey, do us both a favor, don't get mad, huh?


If there's a kiddo in your life (or an adult-o, for that matter) who needs a constructive way to vent their frustrations, I may have found the ideal forum for doing so... the Incredible Hulk Smash Board Game! According to the manufacturer's description:

"It's dashin' smashin' outRAGEous fun! Get ready for a wild race through the streets of New York City! Make your own vehicles, then roll the dice to race them along the path. Stop your opponents by drawing cards that let you smash their vehicle flat! Keep making them, racing them and smashing them until somebody makes it out of the city to win!"

I feel like I've already won just by reading that,don't you?!? If my parents had known about this game when I was a kid, my brother could have smashed playdough game pieces when he lost, rather than putting on a sore-loser show that rivaled John McEnroe's greatest tantrums (sorry, Dave, but you know it's true).

Anyway, if you're interested, Kids.Woot.com has the Incredible Hulk Smash Board Game on sale for only $7.99 plus $5 shipping today--it retails on Amazon for $23.99 plus S&H, so this is a pretty darn good deal. But go now, 'cause once their inventory is gone, so is all the smashing fun.


And if he was standing in front of me right now, he'd be giving me that exact same look. :-)
Circa 1987-ish?


Aspiring to a small business that does what it does very well is a noble pursuit. -Narenda Rocherolle


So I'm sure it must seem like I'm getting kickbacks or payola from the various deal-a-day Web sites I've posted about this week, but with the holidays looming nearer by the minute (well that's certainly not the Christmas spirit, Erin!), I thought sharing good deals on super-cute baby bits would be beneficial for everyone involved. I will return to non-retail postings soon, but if I find something my kiddos and your kiddos can't live without, I'm going to let you know about it! Case in point... 

A couple of weekends ago, my mom, the girls and I went to the 29th-Annual Loveland High School Art & Craft Expo in an effort to escape Dad and Pat's lamp-repair shenanigans. It was an amazingly organized, well-thought-out event and we found some wonderful items for our friends and family alike--Ella even received some homemade dog biscuits that were made/sold by a local Girl Scout troop. Go Girl Scouts!

Out of more than 200 artists and crafters, there were two vendors that really stood out to us and I wanted to tell you about them in case their wares might make ideal holiday gifts for someone on your list. First was Weber Farms of Verona, Kentucky. A small family-run farm, the Webers grow produce, raise goats and other animals, keep bees, and produce some amazing natural skin care products. We'd never heard of Weber Farms or their lotions/soaps/balms/butters/etc., but the line at their booth was a pretty good indication that they were offering products worth taking a look at.

Suffering from a wicked case of cracked knuckles brought on by the change of the season (and about three loads of laundry every day), I asked Mrs. Weber what she'd recommend for my beyond-dish-pan-hands. She quickly placed one of their lotion bars in my hands and within a matter of minutes, my knuckles stopped throbbing and lost their oh-so-sexy sandpaper texture. So sad, I know! ;-) Needless to say, I picked up a couple of the bars, as well as some of their all-natural baby wash, a few cakes of their goat's milk soap and a brochure so I could reorder as necessary. And though you'd think I must have broken the bank to afford so many natural, handmade goodies, I didn't even reach the $25 mark. Take that, Whole Foods! If nothing else came from our visit to the LHS Expo, I am beyond thrilled to have found such a gem of a product/vendor and to have the opportunity to support such an amazing way of life. To explore the Weber family's complete product line, be sure to visit their online store.

The other booth we fell in love with was of a different ilk than the Webers', but it also offered some absolutely wonderful handmade items. According to their Etsy profile, Bloom~N~Bows is a two-woman operation (based just down the road from us) dedicated to creating personalized gifts and apparel for infants, toddlers and adults.Of course, what really caught our attention were their ADORABLE tutu ensembles and one of my all-time-favorite baby bits, fancy fanny bloomers! These extremely talented ladies have created an amazing line of custom-made, personalized gifts/apparel that is as extensive as it is darling. Plus, being a small-business-owning mom myself, I jump at the chance to support other women who are setting their own course in the professional world. So, if you'd like to take a look at what Bloom~N~Bows has to offer, click on over to their Etsy store.

All-in-all, our trip to the LHS Expo was a very worthwhile endeavor. If you're a tri-stater, I'd definitely recommend your own outing next year--if nothing else, go for the fresh-made kettle corn! Plus, by the time we got home from our excursion, the dodgy lamp was fixed and the boys were ready to take their beautiful girls--all four of us--out to lunch! Not a bad day by any stretch!

I guess that's all I've got for today. I hope the final hours of your weekend are full of fun and sunshine--and if sunshine isn't an option, may they be even more chock-full of fun!

 
These aren't the Weber's goats, but hey, when you've got pictures
of your kids with goats (no pun intended), you go with it! :-)


Oh yeah, don't forget that there's only 33 days 'til Christmas, 19 days 'til Hanukkah, 34 days 'til Kwanzaa and 29 days 'til the Winter Solstice!

It's better to have loved and lost than to have to do 40 pounds of laundry a week. -Laurence J. Peter


As I've mentioned before, we're big fans of BabyLegs here at Peanut Central, and today might the perfect opportunity to try out our laundry-lady-approved arm-warmer meal method. Babysteals.com has a 5-for-$25 deal on BabyLegs NotSox this afternoon, and, even better, they ship for free! Not since my last visit to Victoria's Secret has 5-for-$25 looked so good! My stain-removal struggles would be exponentially worse if it weren't for these cute little blasts from our 80's pasts, so give 'em a try!


Happy Friday!




Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable. -Samuel Johnson


Here's another gift idea I thought I'd pass along--Babysteals.com is offering That Baby CD-DVD sets for $17.45 + $4.25 shipping today. A collection of kid-friendly acoustic covers of songs written by artists like Fleetwood Mac, Natalie Merchant, Paul Simon, The Pretenders and The Beatles, it sounds (no pun intended) like this is a catalog of tunes that kiddos and parents can really enjoy together--which is music to my Baby Einstein-weary ears! :-)

They've posted soundbites of some of the songs, so you can sample before you buy. If you're interested, head over to the site now, 'cause once they're out of inventory, that'll be it!



The Girls and Great Grandma enjoying an impromptu drum session this past October.



You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. -Dr. Seuss


Does your peanut need a good pair of shoes--or two? Mamabargains.com has a huge variety of Vincent shoes on sale today--lots of styles, colors and sizes. And the best part is, at $18.50 (plus shipping), they're 63% off the retail list price.

Take a look, you may just find a Christmas present--or two--for your favorite little elf! :-)






Oh, and don't forget, there's only 37 days 'til Christmas, 24 days 'til Hanukkah and 38 days 'til Kwanzaa!

Anyone need a Christmas gift for a Nickelodeon fan/photographer?



One of my favorite daily deal sites, Kids.Woot has Spongebob & Dora the Explorer Digital Photo Frames on sale for $24.99 shipped. The sale is only for today and lasts as long as their inventory does, so if you think a kiddo you know would like one of these, you'd better get going!
 
Happy Monday! Oh, and remember, there's only 38 days left 'til Christmas, 26 days left 'til Hanukkah and 40 days left 'til Kwanzaa!



Oh Randy, don't play with your food--EAT IT!


At what stage in our human development do we decide, "Hey, smearing Cream of Wheat all over my face feels gross. I don't think I'll do it anymore."? It is my most sincere hope that it comes at 19-months-and-one-week, because the current slimy, caked-on nature of mealtime around these parts is really starting to get to me.

I've known for a long time that toddlers are messy eaters--what would paper towel commercials be without the obligatory 2-year-old covered in spaghetti? But the magnitude and utter completeness of my daughters' mealtime mess-making is more than I could have ever imagined. Food-encrusted bibs, hair, faces and highchair trays, multiplied by two, multiplied again by three meals a day has made the simple act of feeding my children something I dread more than de-hairing the bathroom drains.Sorry, I know that's disgusting, but I really wanted to drive home my lack of dinnertime joy.

However, dear readers, do not fret. All is not doom and gloom and squished peas around the Hooper dining room table! I've happily stumbled upon two tricks that have greatly improved the amount of post-repast clean up I'm faced with every day and I wanted to share them with you in an attempt to benefit your laundry load. Neither are high-tech, but they sure have made a difference for us, so here they are:

First, receiving blankets. Our very wonderful and very generous friends and family gifted us with a multitude of beautiful receiving blankets when the girls were born and boy did we put them to good use swaddling the dickens out of those peanuts! And though swaddling remained part of our routine until the girls were about 7-months-old (Happiest Baby on the Block rules!), most of the blankets proved too small for burrito-ing by Evie & Camie's 3-month mark. So I was left with a basket-full of lovely receiving blankets and not many applications for which to use them. Consequently, the basket was deposited in the dining room to get it out of the way, and there it sat until, following a particularly messy lunch one day, I decided it would be easier to wash a blanket thrown over the highchair than the highchair cover itself. Duh!

If you have to employ your highchair's straps to keep your kiddo in place while they eat, then this trick probably won't work for you, but if the highchair tray does a good job of containing your little one safely, then simply throw a receiving blanket over the chair before your next mealtime. When dinner is done, just yank off the blanket (unless it's covered in discarded cheerios and macaroni and cheese--in that case you should avoid all snatching motions and go for a more fold-up-and-shake-over-the-sink action) and throw it in the wash. And as the illustrious Velvet Jones once said, "It's as simple as that!".



The second trick I have to share arose from a severe case of buyer's remorse. I'm pretty utilitarian these days when it comes to shopping. That hasn't always been the case--a fact my college roommates and my former credit card debt can readily attest to--but nowadays, I pretty much stick to the grocery store, PetSmart and Walgreen's. Unless, that is, we're talking about shopping for the girls. When it comes to them, my retail switch has no "Off" position. If it's cute, they need it. If it's cute AND on sale, then they really, really need it and Mommy has a hard time telling herself to put the credit card away.

One such cuteness-inspired purchase was the acquisition of a few pairs of BabyLegs-- super-adorable baby-sized leg warmers that I knew the girls couldn't live without. Unfortunately, I had a hard time figuring out the right opportunity to dress the Peanuts in said leg warmers. In the summer, when they were learning to crawl and their little knees could have used some protection from our hardwood floors, it was too hot to add another layer to their chubby little gams. In the winter, when extra warmth was a plus, we already had them so bundled up that gaining access to their legs was a feat we only attempted when adverse diaper conditions required it. So there I was, with these must-have baby accessories that my babies must not have needed. Shopping Fail!


But once again, after a meal debacle that involved avocados and a complete toddler strip-down, inspiration struck and I found the perfect application for our BabyLegs--sleeve covers! Much like the highchair blanket covers, I realized that removing the cheese/cereal/sweet potato-stained "arm warmers" at the end of a meal was far superior to removing cheese/cereal/sweet potato-stained clothes that were ultimately more expensive to replace and much harder to launder. So now, our pre-meal ritual includes washing hands, putting on bibs and applying sleeve protection--and happily, our post-meal ritual no longer involves a compulsory undressing! :-)




Well, that's all I've got for today.Two dining solutions down, only 1,476,389 to go! I hope these tricks work for you--if you have your own techniques that help cut down on mealtime mess, please feel free to share with the rest of us! Knowledge is power--especially when dealing with the wiley ways of the infant set!

Now, if I could just figure out what the heck to make them for lunch today...

Pretty is as pretty does


No new ramblings today I'm afraid--but hey, doesn't this new layout look cool? I'm sure The Peanuts would approve, if they had the ability to say "I approve," that is.

I am, however, happy to provide some random cuteness for your Wednesday!




Where a new invention promises to be useful, it ought to be tried -Thomas Jefferson


Depending on who you ask, it appears that big human beings have been making little human beings for at least 160,000 years--though some physical anthropologists (whose brains are obviously much bigger than mine) would argue that it's closer to 265,000 years. Regardless of which school of thought you follow--and I'm sure you've chosen one, I mean, what else is there to do on cold Saturday evenings in February?--my assumption is that throughout those many millennia, parents the world over have dealt with the same frustrations. Whether you're talking spit up, dirty diapers, runny noses, flung food, stained clothes or broken toys, human procreators from the Stone Age to the Information Age share an amazing breadth of common parenting aggravations. So why, I ask, haven't we used our highly complex brains to invent solutions to some of these annoyances?
 
** Please note - I have already conceded that my brain falls on the smaller side of the spectrum, so when I say "Why haven't we invented...," I'm speaking in a strictly "Royal we/Majestic plural" sense.**

Obviously, there's no answer to the dirty diaper issue--poo is a simple fact of life. But why on earth hasn't someone developed a diaper pail deodorizer that actually DE-ODOR-IZES, rather than chemically binding the stink you're trying to avoid with the essence of fresh linen/apple berry/ginger breeze, thereby creating a semi-toxic cloud of "dirty-linen-berry-diaper-breeze" that can only be dispersed via exorcism or through ritual poultry sacrifice?

And what is the organo-enzyme composition of spit up that gives it instant, permanent staining power and the ability to reappear on seemingly spot-free clothes months after they were first yacked upon? Procter & Gamble, Unilever, SC Johnson, Method--I'm talking to you! None of you have an answer to the problem of spit up stains?!?!? For shame, for shame! A pox on your bright-white, blotch-free houses!

What about dried milk splatters, mildewed bibs, food-smeared highchair trays, algaenated baby pools, Cheerio-encrusted car seats and overfilled diaper bags? Suffice it to say, my "Why haven't they invented a fix for that" list goes on and on and on. Seriously--I could type all day, folks.

It comes down to this--if we can make Snuggies for our dogs, decode the genome of the duck-billed platypus and create prescriptions that enable the eyelash-less to become eyelash-tastic, why can't we create a simple infrared/GPS/RFID system that locates the milk-filled sippy cups my toddlers insist on hiding in their toy chest and/or pushing under the couch before said cups have a chance to become individual colonies of bleu cheese? I mean, really, it can't be that hard!

Right?

Hmmmm...

Starting to think I might benefit from some mental stimulation beyond the walls of our cute little yellow Cape Cod. Can anyone recommend a good Mommy-and-Me group... or a skilled psychotherapist, perhaps? :-)




Well paint me yellow and call me sunshine! It's another great sale!


Much like the SleepSacks I posted yesterday, Robeez baby shoes are one of our absolute favorite "baby bits." They may in fact be my #1 favorite piece of baby gear, as they are the only shoes I've ever been able to keep on the girls' feet (plus they're so stinkin' cute!). But when you're buying two pairs at a time, the costs can add up quickly. That's why I've always got my eye out for Robeez sales, and today, Angie at Babycheapskate.com posted this one--Robeez.com is taking up to 40% off select boots, Soft Soles and more.

There are some really cute shoes available, and as always, you get free shipping if you purchase two pairs or more. So take a look and see if there's anything there that your kiddo can't live without:

However, if Robeez's sale prices are still a little steep for you, consider Bobux or Ministar shoes. The girls have worn all three brands and with the exception of some differences in washability, we've found them all to be great footwear options.

So happy shopping and if I don't "talk" to you again, have a great weekend!







Holy cow! What a deal!


Not that you necessarily care, but the plan I've concocted in my schedule-happy brain is to post to Tricky Peanut on a M-W-F and sometimes Weekends basis. But, when an opportunity like this comes along, I have no choice but to throw caution to the wind and *gasp* post on a Thursday!

SleepSacks rank on our Top 5 Baby Bits list, so when I saw Kids.Woot offering them for $2.99 + $5.00 shipping, my heart skipped a beat! So run, do not walk, to Kids.Woot.com and get to ordering! The best price I found on SleepSacks last year was $12, so $8 shipped is a fantastic deal--I'm sure they'll go fast! If only they had these in adult sizes (the Snuggie just isn't my style). Happy Sacking!





P.S. - Sorry for all the exclamation points, but I'm just so excited!!!!!!!!!

Pattycake, pattycake, baker's wo-man?


For most of my culinary life, I've considered myself to be a non-baker. Though the kitchen is one of my favorite places to be, I've never been able to channel my inner Betty Crocker. Sure, I make the obligatory birthday cakes throughout the year and plenty of cookies at Christmas time, but otherwise I find baking to be overly complicated, extremely touchy (have you ever forgotten to add the baking soda to a batch of brownies?) and generally more of a hassle than it's worth.

I'm not sure why I've adopted this attitude, as my mom and grandma are/were skilled, prolific bakers--so much so that I've always felt I'm somehow letting them down by preferring roasting and sauteing to crimping and folding. But since the girls started eating solid food last fall, I've slowly started incorporating more baking into my repertoire. S-l-o-w-l-y.

It's not that I've decided to become June Cleaver, welcoming Ward, Wally and The Beav home each day with a freshly baked Bundt cake. But the quest to find snackish foods that don't come with a six-inch-long ingredient list made me realize that I'd rather make the Fig Newtons myself than buy them off the shelf. That's right, I made Fig Newtons. Once. And I'm pretty sure I'll never do it again. I have, however, found a few recipes that are pretty easy to make, use relatively standard ingredients and, best of all, the girls scarf these goodies down like a couple of squirrels preparing for winter.

So, I thought I'd share these gems with you today. I don't have any nutritional information for these recipes, so I can't prove that they meet state and federal guidelines for being deemed "healthy," but the fact that they don't contain any exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, calcium propionate or potassium sorbate must put them ahead of the store-bought competition. Anyway, here are a few of my favorites, I hope you and your kiddos enjoy them as much as we do!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:
I found that the 3/4 tsp of salt this recipe calls for made the cookies a bit too salty for my taste, so I reduced it to 1/2 tsp and added the recipe to my all-time-favorites list. Also, if you don't like the idea of giving your little ones chocolate, you can certainly replace the chocolate chips with raisins and still end up with a very yummy cookie!

Homemade Wheat Bread:
I know, making bread seems really hard-core, but I happened to marry a man who came with his own bread machine--an unexpected perk for sure--so all I have to do is put in the ingredients, press the "wheat bread" button and let the machine do the work. But even if you don't have a bread machine, Tammy (she's the maestro of this recipe) breaks bread-making down into easy-to-follow steps that make the process much less intimidating. Really, give it a try!

Oh, and one other thing--I have absolutely fallen in love with King Arthur Flour's Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour. It has almost as much dietary fiber as traditional whole wheat flour (which seems to be the key to all things blissful and happy these days), with a flavor and texture that's pretty close to all-purpose flour. If you see it at your local grocery, be sure to pick some up. And no, I don't have a representative of King Arthur Flour standing behind me wielding a rolling pin, poised and ready to strike. I just really like their flour! :-)

I hope my new foray into the world of baking does my Richner/Terrill roots proud, but if nothing else comes from it than The Peanuts eagerly awaiting their after-nap snacks, then that's enough for me. Happy baking!






P.S. - If you really want to experience some serious baking, which I've decided I do not, here's the recipe for the aforementioned Fig Newtons. They were really yummy, but anything that requires folding dough over filling without getting fig goo all over yourself and the kitchen is waaaaaay too complicated for me. Good luck!

Homemade Fig Bars

Oh, so they have Internet on computers now! -Homer Simpson


I am a full-blown Internet addict. Really. I should be in some kind of 12-step/rehab/recovery/treatment program where they lock you in an isolation chamber with nothing but books, needlepoint and a dart board until you no longer have the urge to type anything ending in ".com" and your first instinct is to pull out a phone book when you need a phone number, or a map when heading somewhere you've never been before.

Yeah, I should be in some kind of program, but I'm not. So instead of trying to take my dependency in hand and de-Yahoo!/facebook/ebay my life, I thought I'd put together a list of my favorite "mommy sites" to share with my fellow hot mamas! That's constructive, right?

These are resources I've turned to time and time again since I first googled "pregnancy symptoms" back in August of 2007. These sites address a variety of topics, from deal-of-the-day baby products, to homemade baby food, to the experiences of other mommies out there. You may find one or two that are helpful, or you may just wonder why I would waste my time on such drivel. Either way, I hope I'm not fueling anyone else's addiction. Maybe my next search should be for Netaholics Anonymous? But first, I need to find the best deal on frozen organic peas before I do anything else today. :-)

Baby Info Sites:

Shopping/Product Reference Sites:

Recipe/Feeding Sites

DISCLAIMER: Just to head off any visits from Hamilton County Children's Services, I want to make it clear that I only indulge my Internet obsession when The Peanuts are asleep. Please note the time stamp on this post falls smack-dab into the middle of Evie and Camie's nap time. :-)







Oh yeah, one more thing...


If you have kiddos who will still be too little to voice their opinion re: Halloween costumes next year, be sure to hit the kiddie clothing stores Sunday/Monday for great-quality costumes at rock-bottom prices. Wow, guess my inner car salesman emerged there for a second!

I bought the girls' costumes at Gymboree the day after Halloween last year and paid $7.00 each, and this fall we have the cutest ballerina and butterfly on the block. :-)





And if your peanut still doesn't have a costume for tomorrow, some stores have already marked down their costumes considerably. We were at Children's Place yesterday and they had their infant costumes marked down to $6.99.

Just wanted to let you know. Hope your Halloween is spooktacular--sorry, had to stick that in there--and that your little gobblins have a great time!

Now, about those frozen bananas...


The girls have certainly taken their good old time with this teething business. The first pearly white to make an appearance, in Evie's mouth for anyone who's interested, didn't show up 'til just before their first birthday. Camie's first tooth finally came in when she was 14-months-old. And to date, they only have four teeth each--two up and two down, right up front.

I guess it's not uncommon, my brother was late to get his teeth, too, and our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. I., assures us he's never had to send a child to kindergarten with dentures, so I'm really not concerned. But when they do have a bout of teething, it seems like I'm always taken off guard. It takes a day or two of tracking symptoms, soothing crabby babies and wiping runny noses and drooly chins before I put two and two together and realize I'd better figure out a way to help them feel better. Mom of the Year, I know.

So, after dealing with the saddest babies in Loveland for the past three days, it finally dawned on me last night that there are some big teeth on the way. Camie seems to be having the toughest time with it, and woke up at 1:30 a.m. after her baby ibuprofen had worn off. Thankfully, she settled back down without too much fuss, but the whole situation reignited my search for a teething remedy that doesn't require medication. Meds certainly have their place and are a wonderful option when the girls are really hurting, but I've tried my best to keep things "natural" during these first 18 months and I'm always on the lookout for new, homemade/homeopathic ideas and alternatives.

Dr. I. has recommended wetting and freezing baby washcloths for them to chew on in order to numb their raw little gums, which is a great idea, but all I could think of was how cold their hands would get and how quickly they'd lose interest in chewing on flavorless cotton. So, after some hard thinking and a few test runs in the kitchen, I think I've zeroed in on a solution--frozen bananas.

It's a pretty straightforward process, all you'll need are some bananas and a mesh baby feeder, these are the kind we have: http://nuby.com/products/tableware/5360.aspx.

  • First, I cut the bananas into pieces that will fit into the mesh baggies length-wise.



  • Then, I separate the pieces into thirds by pushing my finger into the top of each piece and pulling apart the banana's three natural segments.

  • Finally, put the pieces in the freezer.





I know, it's an extremely complicated process, I'll try to keep it simpler in the future. :-) Once the bananas are frozen solid, I put a piece in each of their Nibblers--thereby eliminating any choking concerns and keeping their little hands toasty warm--and let them go to town. Just refill the feeder as necessary. This morning was our first run with these banana pops and, as you can see from the pictures, they were a huge success.







I'm sure you can freeze whatever kind of fruit your baby likes the best, I'm going to experiment with clementines later today. If something unexpected happens, I'll let you know.

Well, I guess that's all I've got. If you have a teething soother idea, please feel free to share it below. In the meantime, I'm off to play with the Peanuts! Hope you have a great weekend!

A 2:00 a.m. Ephiany


I've followed a myriad of blogs during the last couple of years for their entertainment and educational value, but joining the blogging world really didn't appeal to me. I never managed to keep a diary going for more than a few days at a stretch, and though I'm a writer by trade, my abilities have always leaned in a decidedly corporate direction. The great American novel has yet to flow from my brain, but give me a bag of potato chips that needs some descriptive copy and the muses strike, creativity pouring forth from my fingertips! Yep, the life of a marketing copywriter can certainly be a glamorous one. :-)

But when my 18-month-old daughter, Camie--half of the Evie and Camie duo--started crying at 1:30 this morning thanks to the mouth-full of molars tearing through her poor little gums, I decided I knew where I fit in this blog-happy world.

Motherhood has been the realization of my purpose in life. I know, that phrase is one of the most trite, overused clichés ever uttered--ranking up there with "thinking outside the box" and "throwing someone under the bus." But for me, it's the absolute truth. I've been forcibly mothering everyone around me since my brother was born in 1980--that's nearly 30 years of preparation (sorry, Dave!). So when my sweet little peanuts were born a year-and-a-half ago, it was a huge relief to finally understand exactly why I was put on this Earth. I've always loved to cook, so now I make Fig Newtons and can tomato sauce for my girls. My obsessive nature has been a weighty burden I've struggled with for most of my life, but now that I'm a mom, I put my neurotic tendencies to work creating packing checklists for when we travel with the girls and figuring out which diaper sale will get me the best per-diaper cost! And I've always had a strange love of doing laundry, which strikes many people as odd, but now it all makes sense, given that I live with two full-time, expert dribbler/piddler/spillers.

Before we go any further, I should probably I mention my tendency to be a bit long-winded. :-)

Anyway, what I realized at 2 o'clock this morning while freezing bananas for my teethers to gnaw on the next time the molars strike (more on that to come), was that I really like figuring out "Mom Stuff"--the tricks of the trade that make my life easier and, most importantly, make my daughters' lives better. So here begins the weblog of the Tricky Peanut. As I come across awesome tips, recipes and Web sites--and yes, they will be AWESOME!--that make mommying easier and life happier for my kiddos, I'll post the info here, rather than spamming my friends and posting items on facebook that 95% of my connections could care less about.

If you're among the 5% who are interested in such info, I really hope my blogging experiment benefits you and your little one(s). I am a firm believer that as moms, we should share our knowledge with each other so we are not left to stumble our way through this greatest responsibility of life alone. I'll do my best to eliminate any hint of preachiness or judgement-passing in my postings and I hope you'll do the same for me. I'm no professional and the information I'll share is just what I think will work for my girls and might work for your kiddos. If you disagree--unless I've completely taken leave of my senses and begin advocating toddler knife juggling--I really don't want to hear about it. Hmmm... was that too harsh? Well, even if it was, it stays. :-)

So, as I prepare to sign off and stumble back to bed, please to enjoy, Tricky Peanut!
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