Father's Day Giveaway!!!

Welcome to the Dad is Sweet giveaway, hosted by Diary of a Determined Momma and the Random Bloggers!
The Random Bloggers are a group of friends who blog, review, and rant to bring you the content you want to read. We've gotten together with other great blogs from across the web to bring you a super-sweet surprise for Dad this Father's Day! You can enter to win a box of Milk Chocolate-Covered Cashews & Dark Chocolate-Covered Almonds from Dove Chocolate Discoveries.
Dove Chocolate Discoveries is by the same company that makes those delicious Dove chocolates with the witty wrappers, but it offers a delicious gourmet line exclusively through its Chocolatiers. These range from chocolate covered fruit and nuts, drink mixes (Chocolatini!), and baking sets. The prize for this giveaway is being provided by "Champion Chocolatier", Brooke Lewis.

Hello Readers! I'm so happy to be working with the bloggers for this giveaway. As a blogger myself, I know the incredible power and reward of working with others to bring great things to our readers and ourselves. DCD has been good to me and my family since becoming a chocolatier and it's been such a wonderful experience that I really want to share this company with the world. Good luck to everyone and I hope you (or Dad) enjoy this prize! -Brooke Champion Chocolatier
Don't want to wait until the contest is over to taste the delicious products that Dove has to offer? You can shop online HERE, or contact Brooke directly at ChampionChocolatier@gmail.com to consult with her about the products or the opportunity to become a Chocolatier yourself!
Entry for the giveaway is simple, just use the Rafflecopter below! This will run through June 10, so good luck everyone!
Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway


Happy Birthday Dad!!

Dad as a youngster
Today is my Dad's birthday.  I know everyone says that they have the best Dad ever... but they are wrong (unless they are my brother...).   Our Dad is awesome.  He's smart and kind, funny and loyal.  He has always been supportive and available whenever I needed him.  He has always set forth a positive example for us.  He was my very first hero.  He is my dear friend.  I am blessed to have him in my life.

In addition to being a great Dad to me and my baby brother, he's also a wonderful Grandpa to my boys.  They get along great, and have a lot of fun with him.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that my Dad still remembers being a little boy himself, and doesn't hesitate to act like one whenever he's around his Grandsons. 

p.s. Pretty much everything I just said about my Dad also applies to my Mom who is equally awesome - it's just not her birthday today!  :)

sharing a rare quiet moment with Baby Boy

and "Partners in Crime" with Little Guy.
(Dad is the one on the right)
Happy Birthday Dad!!!!  I love you.  :)


My Baby Ate Peanut Butter

Our peanut butter loving Baby Boy
It was one of those mornings when nothing is really going right, and I can tell that we'll probably be running late.

Little Guy had asked for an apple and some peanut butter/cracker "sandwitches" for breakfast.  I know this may not sound like the best breakfast ever, but considering how very picky our three year old is... this is about as good as it gets.  He finished maybe half of the food on his plate before wandering away to play with his trains.

I followed him to the train table and we had a lively discussion about how much he should be eating (I said "more".  He said "no more").  When I finally convinced him to go back to his breakfast, we both stopped short.  The baby was standing there, leaning shakily against the little picnic table where Little Guy always has his breakfast.  Baby eyes were sparkling.  One chubby hand was firmly attached to the table's edge.  The other was cramming the last of a peanut butter cracker into already bulging cheeks.  He was grinnning around that mouthful of cracker, like the proverbial kid with a hand in the cookie jar.

If you've read ANY baby book, you know that babies are not supposed to eat peanut butter.  My Baby has not yet learned to read, so he didn't know this.  Actually I'm pretty sure he would have skipped that chapter if he could read.  Though he only had that one taste, he was clearly a fan of the brown goopy stuff right off the bat.

I ran right to him the moment I realized what he was eating, but it was too late.  I settled for watching him closely for the next couple of hours.  I saw no allergic reactions of any kind, so it ended up allright in the end. 

He won't be getting any more samples of peanut butter until he's old enough (at least not on purpose).  No matter.  I'll never forget the look of sheer joy on my baby's chubby face as he tasted something forbidden for the very first time.


"X" Marks the Spot

Little Guy currently loves pirates. He has a little pirate hat, and routinely walks around the house shouting things like, “Argh!” and “Ahoy Mateys!”

We found the hat at Target for $2
Because he loves pirates so much right now, and because he’s been a pretty good boy lately, I surprised him early this week with a fun (and very inexpensive) activity. 

When he got home from school he went into his room to change into play clothes.  He noticed right away that his pirate hat was sitting on his bed.  Under it was a little treasure map that I had made earlier in the day. 

He knew what it was instantly and excitedly started to study it.  He quickly headed down the hall and through the living room.  His Dad stopped him and asked where he was going?  Little Guy showed him the map and said, “See. There’s the couch, so we’re right here.” After showing his Dad where he was on the map (and he was exactly right), he kept on going - stopping only long enough to put on sandals.  Hee continued on through the house (following the map) until we got outside and to his sandbox.  He lifted the lid and there was a paper “X” laying on top of the sand.  He dug under it with his little shovel until he came up with a small plastic container which we had filled with pennies. 

Little Guy studying his map

"X" marks the spot
He loved finding his“treasure”, and was very excited to add the pennies to the baby-bottle bank that he’d gotten at church.  We’re supposed to fill it up and take it back in a few weeks.  The money goes to help unwed mothers and their babies.  I loved watching him have so much fun, and was very excited that his first thought was charity and not buying candy or some other frivolous thing. 

He’s far from perfect (who is?) but he’s a pretty wonderful little pirate if I do say so myself.


Urban Gardening Books

I am fascinated by the idea of gardening.  I want to feel warm earth between my fingers, and bite into a juicy tomato right off the vine.  I want to preserve my crop and line the beautiful jars in rows that I can admire, and 'shop' from.

I think it all started when I was little.  My parents have always had a garden.  Like all other families: they had good years and bad.  Sometimes we had issues with pests or drought or flooding.  Gardening is always a gamble, but it was one that we won big with most of the time.

Hubby and I don't have the square footage my folks do though.  Our house is on a small-ish lot which is almost totally shaded by enormous maple trees.  There is a patch of the deck/patio which gets a good amount of sun daily, but it is a small patch to be sure.

For the past few years I've delved into container gardening, and it's been great fun (though with mediocre results).  I keep trying though, because I know that someday I'll get it figured out.

not my garden.  pic via bing! images.
I recently ordered two books from Amazon.com about Urban Gardening.  The first is "The City Homesteader" (Self-Sufficiency on Any Square Footage) by Scott Meyer.  The second is "Urban Homesteading" (Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living) by Rachel Kaplan with K. Ruby Blume.

Both books offer a lot of wonderful information and ideas for making the most of small spaces. 

The "Urban Homesteading" book is a bit heavy-handed with the political aspect of gardening and spends a lot more time than I felt was necessary detailing things like Global Warming and Carbon Footprints.  I don't choose to garden or preserve my own food out of a desire to be kind to the planet, or whatever.  I do it because it's smart, frugal and tradition.  But I digress.  This book is full of great pictures and some wonderful ideas.  I don't have the space (or the accommodating neighbors) needed to grow animals, but the sections on goats and chickens were especially great.  This one won't be my go-to book, but it will serve as a handy back-up.

I fell in love with the second book "The City Homesteader" almost from the first page.  Filled with whimsical illustrations, it keeps to the basics.  There are a lot of well thought out and detailed projects in this book, as well as a lot of general information that will be very helpful.

After reading the section on berries, I realized that we should plant raspberries (and I now know just the place to do it).  I also learned how to make a potato barrel, a compost pile, and a rain barrel.  I discovered why my heirloom tomatoes didn't produce much last year.  I now want to get a strawberry pot and make some of those upside-down tomato planters (the book tells how to make your own).  There are tips on growing indoors as well as all the helpful outdoor tips.  I also found the edible plant identification section to be very informative.  I know that I'll be using this book a lot.  It is full of wonderful illustrations and great information.  It's a fun read even if you have lots of room to plant, but I'd definitely  recommend it to anyone with a space problem for sure.

Note: Review based upon my own opinion only.  I was not compensated in any way.

A Trip to the Zoo

Some good friends invited us to join them for a day at the zoo. They have a sweet little girl who is Little Guy's age. The two of them hadn't seen each other in a while, but got along wonderfully. Baby Boy was perfect and sweet as always. We had a wonderful day.

Little Guy checking out the fish

amazed by the 'dinosaur bones' in the play yard

Playful Penguins

Feeding the Llamas

Little Guy's Favorite

Little Guy with his friend - watching the monkeys

Baby Boy, relaxing and enjoying the day


Stopping to Smell the Roses

When we first moved into our house five years ago, I planted a rose bush.  I love roses and I really was excited to grow my own.  The bush flourished.  It grew and filled out.  What it did not do was bloom.  Not once.... until this year. 

Maybe the rose bush overheard me saying I was ready to dig it up and put in something else?  I don't know what caused the change.  I only know that the sight of those lovely blooms makes me very happy indeed. 

Today I got a little extra bonus when I saw a lively little humming bird flitting around the rose bush.

Just like in life, sometimes you have to wait for the really good stuff.  I'm very glad I waited.

Happy Mother's Day

Here in the United States, today we celebrate the mothers in our lives.  I am very lucky indeed to have been blessed with many (both in my own family and in my husband's).  Each of these ladies are special and loved in their own way.  Today my best wishes go out to each of them!  Thank you for being there for me.  You all deserve a lovely day.

Today I will enjoy quality time with the ones who call ME "Mommy", and I will get to spend some quality time with my own Mom next weekend.  I'm very excited about that.  It is always wonderful when I get a chance to be with her.

Happy Mother's Day to you!  Even if you may not be a mother yourself, your life has undoubtedly been shaped by one. 


Duck Cake

My office threw a baby shower for a co-worker today (Josh), whose wife is expecting their first child. 

I baked the cake.  It's simple (white/white - my co-worker's favorite), but seemed to be well received. 

Little Guy went shopping with me to pick out the duck.  It's not perfect, but I was pleased and it seems that those who tried some were as well.


Surprise Encounter

I am a really lucky lady.  I have the best hubby ever, and two fabulous little boys.  I love these roles of 'wife' and 'mother' more than any that preceded them. 

Life is good.  There are days when there is routine and safety.  There are days when there is excitement and adventure.  There are days when we are reminded of just how blessed we are.  There are days that we are surprised by each other. 

All of these days are my favorites.

Today I decided to get out of the office over lunch.  This is not terribly unusual, but was spur of the moment and not something I'd discussed with anyone.  I thought I'd kill some time at the nearby Goodwill store.  It's a nice diversion which also happens to be close to my office. 

So, there I was perusing shelves of glassware and brik-a-brak when I heard a familiar voice (my husband's) which surprised me.  I looked up and there he was smiling at me.  It was a smile that said he was surprised to see me, but also one that said this was a pleasant surprise.  I know that the smile I returned was filled with the same sentiment.  This was truly a pleasant surprise.

Hubby usually works on the other side of the city, and today he had to work at a different one of his company's offices.  Today's office was a lot closer to mine, but we hadn't thought to plan a meeting.  It happened anyway.

After our initial surprise, we then proceeded to browse the aisles together.  We even ended up finding some fun bargains.  I know that meeting at Goodwill isn't most people's idea of a fun date, but you know what?  That's what it ended up being for us. 

This was simply... the best lunch ever.



Recently I entered to win a give-away over at notquitedonnareed, and (woo hoo) I won!!

What did I win?  I'm so glad you asked.  My prize was a fabulous birthday cupcake kit and awesome new cupcake pan.  I got it all in the mail this morning.  As soon as Little Guy saw what came out of the package, he said "We must make cupcakes, because they make me happy!"

He gets that from his Mama.  Cupcakes have always made me happy too!

We decided (even though we didn't have a birthday to bake for) that we'd get started right after lunch.  We had a really fun time mixing, baking and (of course) sampling these yummy treats!!

Little Guy checking out the cute little cupcake paper cups.

And he did almost all of the pouring of ingredients
and mixing (and did a great job!)

cups ready for the batter!!

After 25 minutes we had 12 yummy cupcakes!
The kit came with frosting and sprinkles. 
Little Guy approves! (so do I!)

The box said that the kit made 12 cupcakes (which it did)
but we had enough batter left over to also make one little bonus
cake using a tiny cake pan that Little Guy's Nana got him for Christmas.
How cute!!

We put the remaining cupcakes in a carrier, loaded the boys in their
trusty red wagon and delivered cupcakes to some of our neighbor ladies
(including the sweet lady from my last post)
Everyone loved their surprise delivery, and the boys and I had a great time too!
I'd like to send out a big thank you to notquitedonnareed for hosting such a fun give-away (if you haven't been to her blog yet, you should go there right now!) and for the fantastic prize package.  We had a blast making these cupcakes.  The only part of the prize that we didn't use was the pack of birthday candles.  We've saved them though, and will certianly put them to use soon! 


I Didn't Know

We live in a modest, but busy neighborhood.  Our little house is nestled on the corner of two quiet streets.  Our house, and all the other houses in our area are simple brick ranch homes, built in the late 1950s.  The yards are small but tidy.  It is not uncommon to see American flags flying on front porches, petunias in window boxes and children riding tricycles along the sidewalk. When we first bought our house, I teased Dan that it seemed like the kind of place Betty Crocker (had she been a real person) might have lived.  Really, our neighborhood is a picture of classic Americana.

We have met most of the neighbors of course, as we’ve lived here since ‘07.  One of the couples who live right next to us (technically they live right behind us since our house faces the other street) has always been super sweet.  A retired older couple, they are quiet but always friendly.  Our houses are separated by maybe twenty feet of yard and fence and shrubbery. 

We should talk to them every day, but we don’t. 

When both of our houses had flooded basements in 2008, we commiserated over the fence.  When they got a new dog, we went over and introduced him to Little Guy.  When they had a garage sale, Little Guy and I visited, and they fussed over him the way Grandparents do.  When I was pregnant with Baby Boy, we chatted while she was out walking the dog.  We have always been friendly, but our interactions have been sporadic to say the least.

Yesterday as I was unloading the car I noticed that my neighbor lady (who was out walking her dog) had stopped on the sidewalk at the base of our driveway.  She was clearly waiting for me to notice her.  I waved and said hello before directing Little Guy to head inside.  I went down to talk to her.  “How are you?” I asked, smiling the ignorant smile of someone who doesn’t remember how loaded this particular question can be at times.

“Well”, she said falteringly, “I lost my husband.  Did you know that?” She is clearly devastated.

My heart fell.  “I didn’t know.  I am so sorry.” This is all I can muster as I see the tears well.

She went on to say that her beloved husband (they’d been married for more than forty years and had four grown children) had passed away last September.

LAST SEPTEMBER!!  How did I not know this?  My excuse, I suppose, is that we’ve just been busy.  That is, of course, a terrible excuse and not at all an acceptable one.  I would have been on maternity leave, and certainly was wrapped up in the new baby and all that goes with that particular blessing, but these dear folks were some of our closest neighbors.  I should have checked in more.  I should have noticed when I didn’t see him puttering in the backyard (which he often did).  I should have asked how they were, or something…

I didn’t though.  I didn’t check in or notice or ask.  I just stayed absorbed in my own little world, oblivious to the pain and grief living right next to me for eight months.

I am ashamed. 

There is no other way to describe it.  What can I do?  Is there anything?  I think Little Guy and I will make her some cookies and take over a card this weekend.  It’s not much.  It’s certainly not enough, but I want her to know that we care (even if we are grossly late in showing her).  I want her to know that we’re here for her if she needs anything going forward.  I want her to know I’m so very sorry, and that I would have talked to her sooner but I just didn’t know.

Why didn’t I know?

Sometimes in our modern world, if it isn’t happening on Facebook or Twitter or in the Blogosphere, it doesn’t seem as important.. as tangible… as “real” to us.  Life should be the other way around though, shouldn’t it?  The living, breathing people that surround us are the ones whose ‘status’ should be most important.  I know that one of my buddies from grade school had a birthday this week.  I sent him a happy birthday greeting on Facebook even though I haven’t talked to him in person in maybe twenty years.  I knew his ‘status’ even though after all these years, he’s essentially a stranger to me.  But these folks, these neighbors, these wonderful people who ate and slept just yards from my front door… their status was unknown.

Shame on me.

This is not something I’m proud of, but it is something I vow won’t happen again.  I’m making a promise to myself today.  I always make an effort to be involved with my family and friends, but now I’m going to try to make a stronger connection to my neighbors, my co-workers and the other people around me as well. 

I want to be a better neighbor and a better co-worker, and maybe a better human being.  How exactly I’m going to go about this, I’m not sure.  First and foremost, I’m going to start checking in with my neighbors, and with the folks around me, because I want to know.  I want to know when things are good and I want to know when things are bad.  I want to know so that I can respond in a timely manner – be it in a mood of celebration or sympathy or just support…

More than anything I want to respond with something other than, “I didn’t know.”

{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment...via a single photo - capturing a recent moment. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember...


Sick Kiddo

Baby Boy is under the weather.  Poor little Sweetie has a fever and just wants to snuggle and sleep.  We could tell something was wrong when he decided on Sunday to nestle down in Daddy’s arms instead of crawling madly behind his big brother (Baby Boy’s favorite pastime of late).

By Monday morning he was running a fever of 102.  Other than the clingy/cuddly way he’s been acting, the fever is the only symptom he’s shown.  We considered it might be teething, but it felt like more and today we found out that a couple other kids at his daycare are out with fevers as well, so evidently he’s caught a little bug.

Unlike some other bugs – those accompanied by the eruption of various bodily fluids or painful coughing – this one has been easy.  Yesterday I took the day off to be with him (Hubby had the honors today).  Baby Boy just wanted to lay on my chest, his face nuzzling my neck.  That was all.  So I spent my “bonus home day” reclining on the sofa, cuddling my warm little baby boy while lazily perusing Pinterest on my laptop, and watching chick flicks (via NetFlix). 

I never ever want my kids to be sick, but yesterday was a pretty nice day.  Baby Boy is usually crawling now, and pulling himself up whenever/wherever he can.  It is rare indeed for that little fellow to willingly sit still, so I had quite the cuddle blessing.

I read today that little Avery Canahuati passed away over the weekend.  Whenever I read some heart wrenching story like that (and hers is certainly a story worth reading), it just makes me want to cuddle my boys even more.  It also reminds me to be thankful for every single moment I have with my little ones – and all the rest of my family as well. 

Life is fleeting, folks.  Get all the cuddles that you can.


Related Posts with Thumbnails