Category Archives: kids

Juppy baby walker *review*

I’m “of two minds” on this review. It is a well thought out and executed concept. However, I wonder how necessary the item is.

The Juppy reminds me of the soft-sided jumper I used with my oldest daughter. The kind that attached to the molding on a door frame. The body of the Juppy is just like that, except it has a super convenient zipper down the back to make it easier to get your youngling in and out. I love super convenient zippers! It also has adjustable straps that an adult holds onto so that s/he can stand upright while helping the little one learn how to walk.

We tried it out with my oldest grandson, but he didn’t like being in it. ūüė¶ My daughter is very excited to use it when grandson #2 starts learning to walk, though! It is very sturdily constructed and it felt like my grandson was very secure in it.

It is available in blue, pink, or black, and can even be embroidered with the child’s name. I got the black and yellow one, because our family is full of University of Iowa Hawkeye fans. I also had it embroidered with grandson #2’s name, because he will be the one using it the most. The incorrect spelling of the name was my fault.

Overall, I think this is a great product. I think it would be very helpful for someone, like my husband, who has back trouble. For the rest of us it might be nice to have around, but I’m a bit of a minimalist when it comes to baby equipment.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

OSIS Dust It *review*

One of the products I received in the Spring Fever VoxBox was a bottle of Schwarzkopf Professional OSiS+ Dust It Mattifying Powder.

20130612-195025.jpgI had no idea what a “mattifying powder” was, so I went straight to the great god, Google,¬†for the answers to my Ultimate Question of the Moment. After about five minutes of YouTube videos, I was concerned! Any of you who know me in real life, or have seen a picture of even the tiniest bit of my hair outside the severest of hair knots, know that I have some seriously thick, course Type 3A/3B curls (more B than A, really). I stared at the bottle.

20130612-195045.jpgI watched more YouTube videos. I opened the bottle.

20130612-195506.jpgI watched non-English YouTube videos. I shook a little of the powder into my hand. I visited the Schwarzkopf Professional USA website and read some more about Dust It. I stared at the bottle some more and pondered my Ultimate Question: “How am I going to test and review this product?! I can’t put it in MY hair and do what the stylist did with the model’s hair in that video. I’ll have to shave my head, because I’ll never be able to get a comb through my dreaded locks again!” </sigh> </moan> Gloom, despair, and misery on me. </end pity-party> My standard hair-related attitude is, “It’s JUST hair. It’ll grow out,” but the panic and dread were beginning to drown my generally laissez-faire hairitude.

Then it occurred to me! “Why did it take so long,” you ask? “We may never know,” says The Wise Old Owl. (mmm … now I want a Tootsie Pop!) I have captives child-models! My youngest daughter has this strange hither fore unknown hair type (at least in this family). I think people (with hair that isn’t dangerous to small children) call it “straight.” It would probably take a professional statistician and a world-renowned geneticist a very long time to figure the odds on m’duine and I producing a child with hair this straight. My stylist has training, years of experience, a salon full of products and heat-related¬†torture devices¬†tools; and she¬†can’t get my hair as straight as Boo’s. I spent years just trying to figure out how to keep a hair-binder on a ponytail in that stuff. Now, I’m a little ashamed to say, I cut her hair with the same military trimming technique that I use on the boys’ hair. The only difference is that I use a guard on the clippers for her. When done, it falls into an adorable, face-framing pixie cut, but that’s all it does. Fall, and lay there. There isn’t enough hair spray in the known universe to put any volume in her hair.

So I drafted her asked her if she wanted me to do her hair. She actually really likes it when I do her hair. When she had longer hair she would have me put it up in sponge rollers, which she would sleep in all night, just so she could wake up with “curls like you, mommy.” They always fell by lunchtime, but she was happy for the morning. So I sprinkled some Dust It in her hair. I did several small partings with a rat tail comb and applied Dust It to each section.


Then I scrubbed it around on her roots and voila, she had volume!

Then I moved on to my next victim middle son (Mohawk Boy). He has 2C/3A hair with a long curl pattern, so it gets curlier as it grows out. It is currently two to three inches long.

I used the same application method with his hair, and then combed it and used my hands to try and make it stick up in a classic, pointed mohawk. I wasn’t especially happy with the results, but it’s better than it normally turns out, so that’s something. For whatever reason, I decided to re-shave the sides of his head after I fixed the mohawk. My mind doesn’t always follow the most linear of paths.

Sometime soon (maybe this weekend) I’m going to try it again. However, I’m going to try more of a standing-straight-up method, rather than the pointy method we normally use.

After washing it out of Boo’s and Mohawk Boy’s hair, I gathered the courage to put a VERY¬†small amount of Dust It in my hair. The only (lack of) volume-related trouble I ever have with my hair is through this area. My hair is long (mid-back) and the weight of it can flatten it out across the top of my head, creating a lovely triangular shape when I wear my hair down. I use a few duckbill clips while air drying to combat this with just-washed hair. Unfortunately, it becomes more pronounced with second-day hair. Misting my second-day (and even third-day) hair with a spray bottle of plain water helps bring back the curls, but the duckbills don’t work nearly as well. so,¬†I applied it very sparingly to just the roots and only on the top of my head. Think about looking down on someone’s head and drawing a rectangle, from the temples to the crown, between the “corners” of their head. That’s where I applied the Dust It. I used a gentler scrubbing technique on just the top part of my hair, and I was so impressed! It was very easy to control the amount of lift I got, and when it started to fall a bit midday, I just scrubbed my roots a bit more (I didn’t apply any additional product) and the lift came right back. I put my hair in my usual low messy bun for bed. In the morning, I resprayed the body of my hair, re-scrubbed the top of my hair (again, no additional product), and I had (almost) instant killer third-day hair that I could leave down! Third-day hair is a guaranteed messy bun around here. I normally have to spray my whole head with water, just to be able to run a wide-toothed comb through it enough to get it in a decent looking messy bun on the third day. I managed a whole week with decent looking hair because of the Dust It. Days four and five were messy bun days, but I was still able to re-scrub the top enough to keep it cute looking.

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me to take pictures of this Five Day Miracle, so I’ll try it again this weekend, taking a picture each morning. The long and short of it is that I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who wants a bit (or a lot) more volume in there hair, or who likes the currently chic matte look for their hair.¬†Where was this Magic Pixie Dust during the ’80s, when I was teasing my hair more than¬†M√∂tley Cr√ľe?

It’s your hair. Have FUN with it!


I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing and review purposes.

You may read my full Disclosure Policy.

Photo a Day

iHeartFaces {1 Photo – 30 Days}
“me (introduce yourself)”

Fat Mum Slim June Photo a Day
“B is for …” Black and white Braeden.

Not a Fan of Nursing In Public? Suck on This. (reblog)

Not a Fan of Nursing In Public? Suck on This..

This blog article reminds me of the time, shortly after Venturer was born, when she and I attended a company Christmas party. One of my coworkers commented on how quiet the baby had been, and asked if she normally went that long without nursing (said coworker knew I was a nursing mother). When I informed him that she had nursed twice during the night, he expressed his disappointment with missing his chance at a “boob shot.” He also expressed how impressed he was that I was taking such wonderful care of my newborn, which meant a lot to me. It was a wonderful confidence boost to me as a young breastfeeding mother.

day five

FMS Photo A Day: Movement

I was sick all day, so I haven’t taken this picture yet. I’ll try to catch up with it sometime next week.

365 Days of Blessings: My Children

I have been blessed with wonderful children who drive me nuts on a daily basis. ūüôā

day two

FMS Photo a Day: Something New


Boo, hiding behind her new skirt from Venture Scout

Blessing: My Paternal Grandmother

I was blessed to know know three of my four biological grandparents. My paternal grandmother is 85 years old, still lives in her own home, and has more energy than I do most days! She has been a fabulous role model and has helped me out of more than a few difficult situations.

The Nutcracker Music Game for Children *Review*

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker The Music Game

by Art and Music Games

This is a nice game for children, especially those who are interested in music. It revolves around¬†Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. This is a fantastic musical piece for a game such as this, because the story behind it appeals to both boys and girls. There’s a female main character, fairies, soldiers, an evil King, and a happy ending! And, to top it all off, the music is¬†phenomenal.

This Holiday classic title gives children an outlet for exploring their own appreciation of music, while sharpening their listening and problem-solving skills and improving understanding of the basic concepts of music. The Nutcracker Music Game is a magical adventure that celebrates music by challenging kids through interactive participation and exciting game play.

The premise of the program is to save the Nutcracker by earning nine golden keys through a series of musical games and activities that teach students about differences between sounds, exercises their memory skills, and increases their music vocabulary.

The Nutcracker Music Game offers exceptional teaching tools, such as the ability to demonstrate, in the classroom, every instrument of the orchestra and its interaction with other musical instruments. But above all it teaches children to love and appreciate music.

The program features a multitude of innovative musical games, puzzles and riddles, as well as an animated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments, an extensive Listening Room, Tchaikovsky’s biography, the Nutcracker story, the History of the Nutcracker ballet, music trivia and more.

The games were a bit advanced for Stud (four years old, male) to do independently. He was able to play them with some direction and assistance from me, but he lost interest fairly quickly. Boo (eight years old, female) was able to do all of the games independently and she remained engaged for an extended period of time. Webelos Scout (ten years old, male) was able to do all of the games independently, but as with Stud he lost interest quickly. His favorite game was the one where you listen to a bit of music and choose which instruments are playing. Second Class Scout (twelve years old, male) played the games long enough to tell me that he didn’t like the game. He’s such a good kid! He was a real trooper about going through all the games, but he was decidedly not interested.

I feel like I should note, for the record, that both of the older boys play musical instruments. Violin and trumpet in the case of the younger one, and trombone for the older one. We are also a very musical family. M’duine, Venture Scout and I are all vocalists. We also sing, as a family, a lot! It is not unusual for us to sit around the living room and sing (sometimes in harmony) for well over an hour at a time. We also sing on car trips, and not just long ones. M’duine and I are also Music Minors, so the children have been exposed to a large variety of music, especially some of the more traditional composers.

My only complaint is that they don’t yet have a Mac version of this game, so we aren’t able to play it on our primary computers. However, the general opinion of the younglings was that this was a fun game that teaches a lot about music in general and The Nutcracker specifically. It would make a great Christmas present for the younglings in your life. As a great big “Happy Holidays” to my wonderful readers, Art and Music Games is giving you the opportunity to purchase¬†Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker The Music Game at 40% off!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

2. Peace


how we deal with death, and guns

or another way that I’m a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mommy

This post is written in response to¬†a question that was asked on facebook. I started to write a response, but it became so unbearably long (even though I tried to be¬†succinct), that I decided it need to be a blog post instead. The subjects of death and guns seem to be inextricably entwined in our household, so this has morphed into a discussion of both. Please take everything written in this post as merely a statement of my opinion. I know that there are other opinions on these matters. I even agree with some of those other opinions. I understand that, to a great extent, my opinions on these subjects are a neurotic product of childhood terrors that I have not “gotten over”. In fact, some of these beliefs and opinions are so strongly held and so deep-seeded that it has taken me the better part of three days to write this post. I’ve never taken this long to write a post, nor have I ever had to “take a break” in the middle of writing a post because the emotions coming to the surface were so overwhelming that I needed to think about something else before I could continue.

In a very “girls are delicate flowers, while boys are little sociopaths in training” way, our girls each “got” death pretty much on their own. Our boys, on the other hand, like to “kill” things. I don’t mean they go down to the basement and torture kittens. I mean they “shoot” each other with “guns”. I put guns in quotes, because there aren’t any guns, real or pretend, in our house. M’duine and I agree that guns are not toys, therefore toy guns are not acceptable playthings. We have no plastic guns. We have no squirt guns. We do not allow our children to make guns out of Legos(tm) or coat hangers or sticks or their fingers. In fact, almost twenty years later, my younger brother still apologizes¬†occasionally¬†for The Great Christmas Cap Gun Incident, in which he gave my oldest daughter a (even then) retro silver 50s-style cap pistol for Christmas, which she was never allowed to play with.

M’duine and I disagree (rather vehemently) about whether or not guns are acceptable tools to have in a house with children (or with me, for that matter). Currently, we have no guns. This is, primarily, because every time the subject is brought up our calm discussion eventually devolves into a shouting argument in which we both feel that the other party is not listening. And, I become a hysterical, sobbing, incoherent blob of attitude that curls into the fetal position, pulls the covers over my head, and refuses to speak until I wake from a fitful night’s sleep, all the while making m’duine feel worse. These encounters do not make me feel good about myself. And, yes, I honestly believe that this is one of those situations in which¬†I am primarily to blame for the rift and¬†I am the one who needs to do the great majority of the changing. I’m trying. I’ve actually come a long way in the last fifteen years. I’m just not to his side of the river yet. Presently, I feel a bit like I’ve lost my raft in the rapids and can’t keep my head above the roiling water and chaos of it all. Anyway, back to the much happier subject of how we deal with death …

When our children start “playing at death” (i.e., “shooting” each other with their “guns”) we explain that “dead” is not a game – Dead is permanent and means that the person can never come back and you can never see them again. This sounds really harsh written out, but we are as gentle with the idea as possible. With each of the boys this has started around¬†two¬†to three years-old, so death is a hard concept for them to grasp, and it has to be re-explained many times. I redirect the child’s attention from the pretend killing to another activity. I also do not engage in the pretend killing. When one of them “shoots” me, I simply state (with no emotion on my face), “Pretend guns don’t work on Mommy. No more shooting, please.”

M’duine has introduced the older boys to a few realistic war movies to give them an idea of what war and being in the military are “really” like (as opposed to their idealized versions of war). He also answers their questions about his time in the Navy as candidly as he is able. Neither of us wear our hearts on our sleeves, but we don’t hide our emotions from our children, either. My parents were fairly open and honest with their feelings, so it’s just what I consider “normal”. M’duine’s father especially, was not an open man, emotionally. M’duine has reacted to that by being very open with our children.

We have found that this all seems to make it easier for our children when someone close to them dies. We have just explained that people die, because they grow old or get sick or have an accident, and that it is forever. Recently, our family lost Papa. He was my paternal grandmother’s second husband. I make this distinction so that everyone understands that he was not my biological grandfather and that he was not my father’s father. He was, however, the only grandfather my children ever knew on that side of the family, as my grandfather died when I was thirteen. Papa was also very well loved. He lived well until the last few years, when¬†Alzheimer’s¬†began to take the better part of his mind. All of the children were allowed to attend the funeral. There were also allowed to approach the open casket, as they felt comfortable. They were not forced to go in to the chapel, but they were not kept out of it, either. And an adult went in with them whenever they asked for that. Very soon after we arrived my grandmother and my father (Opa) went into the chapel. Our then three-year-old, Stud, followed them. A few feet from the casket he stopped, looked at Papa, then looked at Opa and very matter-of-factly stated “I do not like that him (Papa) died.” Opa, with tears in his eyes, told Stud “I do not like that him died, either.” Stud and Opa then exited the chapel to the foyer, where my father extolled the virtues of his very wise grandson to anyone who would listen. Stud climbed up on my lap and cuddled for a bit, while I answered his questions about “Why him died?” and explained that even though he “did not want him to died”, it was Papa’s time to be with the Creator.

I understand why people use the “sleep” analogy, but we don’t with our children. I was terrified as a small child that if I fell asleep, I might not wake up because I would be dead. (I worried more than my fair share.) A couple of our children worry (somewhat) like I did, and I don’t want them to deal with the same level of anxiety that I did. The classic children’s bedtime prayer about “now I lay me down to sleep”? Um, yeah, nightmares much?! I am not¬†exaggerating¬†when I state, categorically, that I was convinced that I would die in my sleep. Mix that with an unhealthy conviction that I was never quite good enough to make it into Heaven, and you have the recipe for borderline-debilitating childhood insomnia. Top that all off with a sprinkling of diagnosed ADHD, and what you have is a chronically anxious little girl who can neither concentrate, nor sit still, and who has very little impulse control. I wonder to this day how my parents kept from killing or institutionalizing me as a child, and I’m convinced that the only reason I didn’t break my neck trying to “fly” off the top of a jungle gym at some random playground was my rather crippling acrophobia.

Wow, what a rambling path of semi-coherent gibberish. My point was, that we explain to our children, as best we can, that death is an inescapable fact of life, that it is permanent, that it is not a game, what we believe about the afterlife, and that the people we love who die before us are always with us in our thoughts and memories. It seems to be working for us with our six children. Take from it what you will and feel free to pitch the rest in the bin. I am a little disappointed that it took me so long to put that into words, though. <sigh>

I’ll leave you with my favorite Shakespearean quote, as spoken by Puck in¬†A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do no reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‚Äėscape the serpent‚Äôs tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

concert night

or Fareway employee in training.
view full image

“Gwyddeon: You got me into this hair. I’m not going to smile! Me: FART! Ha! I got you to smile!”
(taken at home)

The Instagram Team

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