M-I-C… K-E-Y… M-O-U-S-E

We did it.  We went to Mickey’s house.  It’s been nearly 2 weeks since we returned from our Disney World expedition and I think I’ve finally recovered enough to write about it.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a ton of fun.  But boy is it exhausting!  A little background on our excursion before I carry on…  I was set to go to Orlando for a business meeting in mid-January.  My colleague and I have been chatting off and on for months about how we need to take Junior to Disney (he and his family are HUGE Disney fans and go every year).  Long story short, he busted into my office back in October and said “I got it!  You’re going to Orlando anyway in January so you MUST mix in a Disney trip!”  I thought about it and said why the heck not?  The timing was actually pretty great.  January is off season in the land of Disney, our son isn’t in school yet so it’s no big deal to yank him out of daycare, he’s an only child at the moment which helps a ton, and I was going down there anyway.  My wonderful colleague had accumulated some extra Disney Vacation Club points that were close to expiring, so he helped set up our lodging.  How lucky are we?

So there you have it.  Our family’s first Disney trip was locked down and I had no idea where to begin.  I know from talking to other people over the years that families often plan for MONTHS in advance; every step they take, every meal they eat, every show they attend, every moment they sleep.  But you know what?  That’s not my style.  For someone so textbook type-A, it’s odd that I really like to wing my vacations.  I obviously did a little research on where we were staying and the parks themselves, but for the most part we decided to figure it out once we got there.  I also had to factor in my back-and-forth to business functions, which is why we were heading that way in the first place.

Junior’s first plane ride was a breeze.  He’s 4 so we didn’t have to take a bunch of extra junk; he just sat in the seat, waited eagerly for the flight attendant to bring him a snack, and flipped through the TV channels (thank you Jet Blue for your built-in entertainment).  We arrived in Orlando, found our transportation, and got to the Animal Kingdom Lodge with no trouble.  Once we settled in a bit we got our bearings and headed out.  Now I’m not going to give you a play-by-play of our entire 5 days there because that’s overkill.  What I will do is sum up our experience and offer some words of wisdom in a nice, tidy, bulleted list.  Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@mommybanter) probably saw the daily #DisneyLessons I posted each evening.  You’ll see some of them in my list again  Here we go…

  • We only bought passes to the official Disney parks this time (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios). With only 5 days we knew it would be impossible to get to Sea World and some of the others.  BUT we included a park-hopper to give us the freedom to bounce from park to park if we wanted.
  • Mid-January is a PERFECT time to go. There were definitely some people there, but it was MUCH less crowded than a peak season week.  The weather was good; a little chilly but we rarely needed more than jeans and a light jacket.  After going in January I will never attempt to go in the summer.  I will take my children out of school for a week before I try to conquer Disney World between May and October.
    • Side note…  You can totally tell who came to Orlando from Wisconsin or South Dakota or Maine or another freezing state.  They were wearing tank tops and flip flops in 59-degree weather.
  • Best thing we did? Bring the umbrella stroller.  Of course our 4 year old was not thrilled when we told him to hop in, but getting him around the airport and the parks would have been an absolute nightmare without it.
    • Side note… There is designated stroller parking all throughout the parks.  If you go rogue and put that stroller somewhere else, a park employee will move it.  So that means you panic and think someone has walked off with your stroller and all the crap you’ve stuffed in it.  We learned that the first day.
  • My anti-planning really only hurt us in one way – dinner reservations. We were on a budget so we had no intention of doing expensive character breakfasts and fancy dinners every night.  But I did want us to have one “nice” dinner together at a sit-down restaurant.  But reservations fill up fast and we came up empty.  So we ended up doing the nice buffet dinner in our hotel one night – mainly because we couldn’t get a reservation anywhere else and we didn’t feel like having a sandwich.  It was delicious but overpriced (go figure).  All of the “quick service” food in the parks is pretty darn tasty, so we didn’t feel at all deprived.  And it was better for our credit card anyway.
  • The cool thing about Disney? They let you bring in your own snacks!  A friend of mine told me that before we left and it was music to my ears.  So we stuffed a backpack full of granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, etc. and it was a lifesaver.  One thing we didn’t do that we should have is come with a case of bottled water or go to a convenience store (off property) to buy some.  That would have saved us a little cash.  Fortunately it wasn’t blazing hot like in the summer so we weren’t going through water like crazy.
  • Another thing we started doing is having a big breakfast at the quick place in our hotel, and taking advantage of the inexpensive a la carte stuff that’s available. Our place sold baggies of sliced bread, so we used the free packets of peanut butter and jelly to make PBJ sandwiches for the afternoons at the parks.
  • We spent full days at each park and made our way to Downtown Disney one night. And trust me, they are FULL DAYS.  My husband and I both got Fit Bits for Christmas and we logged 20,000+ steps each day!  Remember people, bring your stroller…  No young kiddo can walk that much for 5 days in a row.  It’s hard to say what our favorite park was, as each one had its own special things that we liked.  Magic Kingdom obviously has the most rides, Animal Kingdom has an amazing safari tour, Hollywood Studios was great for daddy/son time — hello Star Wars — (I was in meetings that day), and Epcot has, in my opinion, the best food options.  We chose to watch Epcot fireworks two nights in a row vs. fighting the crowds at Magic Kingdom.  They were awesome.
  • We also purchased the Memory Maker package to ensure that we got lots of family photos during our time there. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it to have 150 pictures at your fingertips without lugging a camera.  And we could download all of them and share them with the grandparents.
  • I had a lot of people tell me that we’d be way off schedule and we’d have Junior up until 11:00 every night, yada yada yada. That really wasn’t the case for us.  We took our time in the mornings and paid attention to when he was starting to lose it in the evenings.  He was in bed most nights by 9, except the nights we watched fireworks and that was closer to 10.  It’s exactly what we all needed.  My husband and I hung out on the balcony (usually with cocktails) while he fell asleep, and planned the next day’s activities.  I had early wake up calls on 2 mornings because I had to commute 30 minutes to my business meetings, so a good night’s sleep was welcomed.  Everyone knows their own kids and how they operate.  Mine can stay up really late for a night or two, but he’ll eventually turn into a bear without an afternoon nap.  And who wants to leave the park to go back and nap in the middle of the day?  So we opted for earlier bedtimes instead.  On our last full day we did go back to regroup and let him rest for an hour.  My husband and I sat on our little balcony and started cocktail hour while he slept.  Win win.

I could go on and on and on but I’ll spare you any more commentary. If you have specific questions about how we handled things just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!  Long story short, we took the plunge and crammed everything into 5 days that we possibly could.  It was a great time, an exhausting time, and something we’d like to do again – in maybe 5 years.  It’s not a cheap trip, but you can get out of there without breaking the bank if you try.

A coworker of mine said something to me once that really stuck:  “There’s a big difference between a ‘vacation’ and a ‘family trip’.”  Truer words have never been spoken.  Unlike after a leisurely week at the beach I was ready to get home and go back to work, simply to have some sort of routine again.  But we certainly appreciated the hospitality from Mickey and the gang while we were there.  Mickey, we’ll see ya again real soon!

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I love you Chuck. Chuck Roast, that is…

So this piece really has no direct correlation to parenting, but since I am quite the little food junkie I felt the need to dedicate an entire blog post to my favorite slab of meat:  the chuck roast.  Why?  Because it’s awesome.  Well if you eat red meat of course, which we do in my family.

As a full-time working mom I make great use of my crock pot all year long, not just in the winter.  And a chuck roast is quite simply one of the most versatile things you can prepare in the slow cooker.  It’s almost impossible to screw up, can take as little or as much seasoning as you want, and can be used in a thousand different ways.

So why the sudden urge to write about my friend Chuck?  When I think about the coming week and what dinners will fit into our busy schedules, I often look for things that I can cook once and use twice.  So yesterday I plopped a chuck roast into the crock pot with some onions, carrots, seasoning, and a little broth, with the intention of having a vintage pot roast dinner.  It turned out perfectly and I served the tender meat with rice, some quick homemade gravy (using the reserved broth), broccoli, and the carrots that cooked alongside the meat.  I felt like June Cleaver serving Ward and the Beaver (minus the patent leather heels), and it was delicious.  But the best part was seeing a big plate of leftover beef, knowing that dinner is covered tonight.  Because I chose to season the meat simply, it’s once again a blank canvas for tonight’s meal, which will be hot beef and cheddar sandwiches.  Nothing is simpler on a weeknight than a hearty sandwich, and this one rocks because the main component is already done.  And since I know it’s a quick fix tonight, I’m hitting the gym after work.  Score.

So here’s the skinny on all the different ways I use this versatile, inexpensive, delicious cut of meat.  I usually try to find a 3-ish pound roast with some good marbling; you need a little fat to ensure it stays moist as it cooks, and trust me, it breaks down completely after 8 hours (on low) in the crock pot.  I typically season it very simply so I can use it more than once in different dishes; salt, pepper, some cut up onions and garlic, and any other “universal” ingredient you want to toss in for flavor.  My arsenal:

  1. Traditional pot roast like I describe above. Add in some carrots and potatoes, serve with rice and gravy and you’ll be a 50’s housewife in no time.
  2. Tacos/burritos/enchiladas. Season the meat with cumin, chili powder, and hot sauce, and use it for your favorite Mexican-style dish.  It’s so flavorful and goes great with traditional taco fixins.  It’s like your own version of Chipotle.
  3. Beef stroganoff.  I love beef stroganoff in the winter.  I’ve made it a dozen different ways, using everything from high quality steak to hamburger, but the shredded crock pot beef is by far my favorite.  When I get home from work all I have to do is shred the meat, combine it with some of the broth (thickened), mushrooms, sour cream, a few herbs, and egg noodles.  So good on a cold night.
  4. Chili.  My husband loves chili made with chunks of beef versus ground beef.  It’s a nice twist on a traditional red chili with beans, and the chuck roast has more flavor than hamburger.
  5. Soup.  Beef and barley, beef vegetable, steak and potato.  Envision the soup aisle at the store and easily recreate it at home.
  6. Sandwiches.  French dip, beef and cheddar, sliders, you name it.  If you slow cook the meat with onions they are soft and sweet and so good on the beefy sandwiches.  Play around with different breads, cheeses, and condiments like horseradish sauce and honey mustard.  I almost always make sandwiches with leftover chuck roast.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here.  Want to know what’s even BETTER?  If you don’t want to eat beef two days in a row, it freezes perfectly.  So you can put it away and have it ready a month later when you get the craving.  The same goes for slow roasted pork roast, but that’s a blog for another day…

Chuck, I love ya.  I just wrote an entire blog post about you.

Take it Easy…

Have you ever risen on a Saturday morning after a much needed sleep-in session, looked outside at the beautiful sunny sky, then looked at your messy house, laundry, and empty fridge and decided the sunshine has to take a backseat to chores?  Regrettably I do it all the time.  My busy work-week schedule leaves me little time to catch up on errands, laundry, and de-griming the house, so Saturdays or Sundays (sometimes both) are usually reserved for the crappy stuff. 

But this past weekend was different.  On Saturday morning I was the first to wake up (at 9:15 AM – score!), so I started the day with 30 minutes of peace and Food Network shows until the rest of the crew decided to join the living.  It was during that time I chose to give the middle finger to my dusty hardwood floors and skyscraper sized piles of laundry, to turn up my nose to the grocery list on my counter, and turn a blind eye to Junior’s disaster of a playroom.   On Saturday I wanted to play outside.  I did not want to see the inside of Wal Mart, Target, or Trader Joe’s.  I did not want to open my container of Mr. Clean with Febreze scent.  I did not want to clean toilets.  So I didn’t.

I jokingly classify myself in a number of less-than-desirable ways.  OCD, type-A, and a slightly less extreme version of Monica Gellar from Friends are a few that come to mind.  Granted these are all a little exaggerated (maybe?) but I will certainly admit that I’m one of those people who needs to be doing something all the time.  I can always look around and see something that needs tidying or decide at 9:00 PM that I’m going to bake a cake.  Even when I’m watching TV at night I’m folding laundry or dusting or organizing Junior’s stuff.  At 34, I still haven’t learned the fine art of vegging out, unless there’s a hangover in play and I have no choice (which has only happened once or twice since I became a mother).  So for me to declare to my husband that I just wanted to goof off was a little perplexing for both of us.

So here’s what we did…  We ate breakfast at our leisure.  We watched cartoons with Junior.  We went for a long walk and let our new rescue dog swim in the lake for the first time.  [Side note:  for a moment I thought I was going to have the only golden retriever on earth who doesn’t like the water.  She heaved herself into the lake with reckless abandon as soon as the tennis ball left my husband’s hand — and promptly sank.  She found her way up but was utterly confused about where the sturdy ground went.  My husband yanked his shoes and socks off so fast and was prepared to go in after her.  She figured it out eventually.] I digress…  After the walk we fixed sandwiches at home and then filled up Junior’s exquisite inflatable pool with the garden hose.  I sat in a chair in the sun and watched him.  I didn’t pluck weeds out of the flower beds or mow the grass or wash windows or clean the grill.  I just sat there and watched him make pretend soup in his embarrassingly cheap swimming vessel.  Then we got extra fancy and hooked up the sprinkler so he could run through it 1000 times.  I ran through it too, in my clothes.  He laughed so hard at his silly mommy getting her shorts all wet.  As the afternoon wound down we decided to get showered and head to a local (kid-friendly) brewery to sit outside and listen to some music.  We met friends and enjoyed a few hours outside in the comfortable summer breeze.  Junior danced and ran around and ate dinner from a food truck.  My husband and I had a beer and caught up with our friends.  When we got home Junior brushed his teeth and fell fast asleep, and I watched a movie on TV that I’d already seen 250 times.

When I went to bed on Saturday night the floors still needed to be mopped and the laundry was still piled up.  I still didn’t have eggs or milk in the fridge.  But I spent a whole day having fun with my little boy, my husband, and my crazy dog, and felt that good tired feeling that you get after a busy day.  The moral of the story?  It’s OK to take a day and chuck “responsibility” out the window.  I don’t do it often enough and that will probably never change.  On Sunday I was right back at it – grocery store, prepping meals for the next few days, doing laundry.  But we still found time to head to the playground for a while…

Order Up!

I often read about how important it is not to be a short order cook at dinner time.  You should teach your kids to experiment and eat the same things you do, in an effort to keep things simple, dirty fewer pots and pans, and introduce them to something other than PB&J and chicken nuggets.  All of that is excellent in theory, but I think challenging in practice.

I have a 2 ½ year old who is a pretty good eater.  Is he the mock love child of Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay, devouring arugula salads and roast duck?  Hardly.  But he likes meat, fruit, and a few stealth vegetables that I sneak in.  Despite this, dinnertime gets tricky for me in a couple of ways.  First, I love to cook.  It is my absolute favorite thing to do (besides eating).  I bury my face in cookbooks, food magazines, and recipe websites whenever I get the chance, so I’m always trying something new.  Usually what I’m experimenting with are things most 2 year olds won’t touch.  Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised (Junior loved Korean beef tacos — odd), but usually I have a pretty good pulse on the things he will like.   So if I go the anti-short-order-cook route here are my options:  put my adult-friendly concoctions in front of Junior and say “eat or starve,” settle into a life of grilled chicken, rice, and applesauce, or split the difference.  I vote for the latter.

Sometimes I get a wild hair and decide to start creating something off the wall at 6:30 PM, which makes it too late for Junior to be part of the taste test panel.  Yes, hold your gasps, we aren’t always able to sit down and have dinner like the Cleavers every night.  I rarely get home from work and daycare before 6, and my husband is usually later.  Unless something has been brewing in the crock pot, or I’m tossing together something quick or eating leftovers, we may have to divide and conquer.  But on those nights at least one of us is sitting at the table with Junior, recapping the day and having quality time.  Sometimes, though, the only thing in front of me is a glass of wine, and I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it.  The life of 2 full-time working parents is challenging in a few ways, and the family dinner is one of them.  But we make it work the best way we can.

I digress…  Back to my conundrum of Junior starving because he doesn’t like my grown-up food, us being bored to tears with kid food, or coming to a compromise.  I try to work it out so Junior’s dinner includes at least one component of what I’m fixing for us, if it’s not something he’ll enjoy all together.  Example – if I’m doing something with crock pot pulled pork that I know he won’t like (i.e. making it super spicy), I will set aside a couple servings of the meat for him (plain) before I dress up the rest.  That way he’s eating the main dish along with us, but his is more kid-friendly.  Another example – I recently made Mediterranean-style pita sandwiches with things he doesn’t care for, like grilled shrimp, peppers, cucumbers, and white bean hummus.  So instead of a pita wrap, Junior had a pita pizza using some marinara sauce I had in the fridge, and the chopped spinach and feta cheese I was using for my own meal.  I really didn’t have to deviate much from what I fixed for myself, other than pulling out the marinara and some shredded mozzarella.

This tactic has made mealtime a little easier.  It allows me to still cook “interesting” things, and Junior can sample what he wants, but if necessary, still have a kid-friendly dinner using some of the same ingredients.  Does it work every night?  Nope.  But as is the case for every family, you figure out what works on that particular day.  And if that occasionally involves a little short-order cooking I’m fine with it.  There’s a reason fish sticks were put on this planet, and one of them is so I can enjoy  sushi every once in a while…

I will say, however, that there is tremendous truth behind the “let your kids help in the kitchen” trend.  Junior has experimented with so many more things since I put an apron on him, gave him a wooden spoon, and hoisted him up on his helping chair.  A little food for thought.  Order up!

Tales from the Potty (part 2)

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that we haven’t made much progress on the potty training front.  We’re trying though, without pushing too hard, and have had some positive moments.  Small victories keep me motivated…  It’s like a golfer who misses every fairway and lips out 10 putts, but birdies the final hole…  Utter frustration can be wiped out with one small taste of success.

I’ve read a little, consulted with friends, and tried to follow my instincts, and I do think we’re heading down the right path.  But boy it’s a frustrating path.  I’ve never been labeled the most patient person in a room so I’ve had to dig deep to find my inner tranquility during this process.  The best bang-my-head-against-the-wall moments come after we spend 20 minutes sitting on the potty, chatting about the potty, reading the potty book, talking about toilet paper, letting out a few toots, and then decide it’s not the time and go back to the diaper.  And 60 seconds after getting suited up Junior runs to me with a big ol’ grin and says “I pee peed in my diaper mommy!”  Cue the head banging.

Like everyone says, he’ll do it consistently when he’s ready.  But I can’t wait for him to completely make the decision; I feel like I need to make sitting on the potty a part of our routine whether he wants to or not.  The handful of times he’s gone have been after a teary fit; part of me feels bad for making him get upset, but he can’t always call the shots.  And he is always SO proud after he goes – it’s worth the twinge of guilt I experienced a few minutes before.

I’m far from an expert (obviously) but here are some of the things I’ve tried.  Some have worked and some haven’t, and there’s clearly no right or wrong way to do it.  Every tot is different, every parent is different, and every situation is different.

Training potty:  In my last post I shared a picture of the luxurious Elmo potty that we bought for Junior at Christmas time.  He sat on it once or twice but it was more of a novelty and had too many distractions.  So I made an executive decision to go straight for the grown up potty, using the removable seat from the Elmo commode.

Big boy underwear:  A number of people suggested I let him run around in regular underpants so he could wet himself and learn that it’s uncomfortable when he’s not wearing a diaper.  So I bought a dozen pairs of Disney themed underpants and gave it a shot.  He was so excited to look at all the characters – Mickey on some, Jake and the Neverland Pirates on some, Pluto, Goofy, crocodiles, you name it.  So I slipped a pair on his little bum and within 5 minutes he peed through them.  Instead of feeling icky, he happily said “I peed in my underwear.  Can I have a fresh pair?  Mickey this time?”  FAIL.  I think he would have peed through all 12 pairs just to try on each pattern.  I didn’t give him the chance to prove me wrong though.

Potty book:  It’s cute, short, and tells the story of a little kid (we named him Peter) who faces a moral dilemma:  pee pee in my diaper or pee pee in the potty?  After much soul searching he decides the potty is the best place and he plops down.  The best part is when he falls asleep on the toilet waiting for the big moment and is awakened by something…  “What was that?” he exclaims. The next page reads “Tinkle Tinkle TOOT – I did it!”  Literature at its best – I love it.  And considering Junior has no issues tooting on the pot this line is quite appropriate.  The book is good because it puts his mind on something OTHER than locking down his bladder.

Pee Pee Treat Box:  This was my epiphany.  I like to think of it more as the “cause and effect” method but let’s face it, bribery is the better term.  He pees in the potty, he gets something in return.  I had to stop into Target one day at lunch and as I passed the $1 junk aisle I decided to grab some stuff, put them in a box with a lid, and call it the Pee Pee Treat Box.  Every time Junior pees on the potty he gets to reach into the box without looking and grab a prize.  Silly stuff – rubber duckies, new cups for his juice, flash cards, etc.  He loved the idea of the treat box, but unfortunately it wasn’t as motivating as I’d hoped it would be.  But nonetheless he’s happy to claim a prize after his pee pees, but it’s not WHY he pee pees.  This morning for example, I decided to try a new tactic and actually show him everything in the box instead of making it a blind draw.  He liked it all, but it wasn’t until he saw the sidewalk chalk that he opened the floodgates.  And go figure, when it was time to actually choose a prize for his good deed, he picked the Elmo cup and not the chalk.  To be honest, his real motivation was me promising him a handful of marshmallows at breakfast if he went…

At the end of the day timing is everything.  This morning wasn’t typical; usually he goes in his diaper as soon as he wakes up, but for whatever reason he was still dry when I went in to get him.  I scooped him up and ran down the hall, he didn’t want to go, fussed for a while, and eventually he just went.  I have to rely on his daycare teachers to put him on the potty throughout the day, but unfortunately with a room full of kids they can’t dedicate 20 minutes of waiting to my guy.  That’s life.   My husband is traveling quite a bit for work at the moment, so it’s up to the new and improved patient ME to make it happen.  And I’m at peace with the fact that it will happen when it happens.  But for now even the smallest dribbles make my day.  TINKLE TINKLE TOOT.

Tales from the Potty

First, let me explain my little hiatus from the blogging world…  Without going into too much detail, I unexpectedly lost two members of my immediate family (my beloved dad and my beloved dog) in a very short period of time.  So needless to say, life has been quite sad and hectic in 2013.  We are praying for comfort, and praying that we can learn to accept – and one day – enjoy life without two special members of our family.  There are good days and bad, but we are all pushing forward.

One thing that was high on my priority list for the New Year was potty training.  Santa dropped off an exquisite Elmo elmo pottypotty for Junior, brightly colored with a realistic sounding flusher.  What more could a 2-year old ask for?  Diapers.  That’s what he asked for.

For obvious reasons potty training took a backseat once our lives were turned upside down so suddenly.  I didn’t have the time, the energy, or the patience to fight over where his pee pee landed.  But now, the change of the season demands a change in bathroom habits.  So I told his daycare teacher to do what they do when it comes to potty training, and I dusted off the Elmo commode at home.

I’ve heard from a number of people that boys are slower to use the potty than girls.  So I expected a little push back from him.  What I wasn’t expecting was kicking, screaming, crying, and what appeared to be plain old fear of the potty.  He seems to do better at daycare because he sees his other little buddies doing it.  In fact, the other day he raced over to me when I arrived to pick him up and squealed “I pee peed in the potty Mommy!!”  I was so pumped and thought we’d turned a corner.  That night he agreed to sit on his potty at home (without his pants on this time) and I thought to myself, “wow, that wasn’t so hard.”  Idiot…  If I’m lucky he sits on the potty once a day at home and not one dribble has landed in the yellow plastic bowl.  He likes to pour water in it.  He likes to stand on it.  He likes to encourage ME to go pee pee on the potty.  But him?  Nada.  Even now at school they say he’ll sit on it for a few seconds but rarely opens the floodgates.

He’s only 2 ½ so there’s hardly a reason for concern.  But it surprises me a little that my son, who prides himself on being a “big boy”, is so adamant that he’s going to wear diapers forever.  I’ve bribed him with candy and treats (don’t judge) and I’ve told him how he’s the only one of his big boy friends who still uses a diaper (don’t judge).  Many people have suggested that when it gets warmer, I should just let him run around naked or in regular undies so he doesn’t have the comfort of a diaper.  He’ll learn that he doesn’t want to go on himself, so he’ll use the potty.  I’ll give it a whirl and see how it goes.  In the meantime I’m hoping he’ll just wake up one day, grab a good book, and ask me for some privacy so he can take care of business…

I’m open to other wee wee words of wisdom so please share!

A Relevant Re-Post

I’m actually going to recycle a previous blog post from last summer because it still holds true today (if not more).  I love my little sidekick more than anything, but his whining skills have improved tenfold since I first wrote this blog.  The funny thing is, most of the time he’s faking it!  I can usually find a way to divert his attention to something else, and presto, the “whoa is me” act is over.  Yep, I’m learning a little bit more every day…

Grammar Lesson (originally posted 7/16/2012)

hom·o·phone  [hom-uh-fohn]:  A word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, whether spelled the same way or not.  Courtesy:  www.dictionary.com.

Back in middle school we were given some common examples to illustrate this phonetic term:  “carat” and “carrot”; “two” and “too”; “there” and “their”, to name a few.  I’d like to introduce a new, more relevant example that is applicable in my adult life:  “wine” and “whine”.

Wine is a delicious beverage that often encourages feelings of happiness and relaxation.  It can be red, white, or pink, but careful consideration must be given to the pink variety as it can be tricky…  Wine can vary greatly in price, but my experience typically falls in the “$10 or less” category.  Wine is a bright spot in one’s day; the more wine, the brighter the day becomes, until things turn hazy and that means there’s been too much.

Oh how things change when you add one single letter – h – to that lovely word:  wine becomes whine.  Whine is also a regular occurrence in my life, yet it does not lead to feelings of happiness or relaxation.  It comes in one variety only:  annoying.  If I could pay to make it stop I would definitely branch out of the “$10 or less” bucket.  But unfortunately it is a free service provided by my toddler, one from which I cannot unsubscribe, much like junk mail and the Yellow Pages book that still shows up on my doorstep.

It should be noted that there is a distinct cause-and-effect element in play.  Whine (the bad kind) very often leads to wine (the good kind).  Unfortunately that’s not appropriate at 7:45 on a Monday morning, but sometimes I wish it was.  In the evenings, however, a good dose of whine may be matched by a good dose of wine.  And that’s what makes homophones fun.