Thursday, May 28, 2009

Where To Go From Here

Yesterday, I wrote a heart wrenching story about an alleged kidnapping of a mother and her child. The story began only a few short miles from my front door. I vowed at that time to get the word out via my blog, hoping that maybe someone out there saw something that could bring this mother and daughter home.

Imagine my surprise when I found out the entire story was a hoax. There was no kidnapping. In fact, the woman and her daughter were witnessed on surveillance tape boarding a plane in route to Orlando, FL.

I could sit and pass judgement about this what this woman did, but really, what's the point? Only she knows the truth, and unless I've walked in her shoes, I don't feel it's my place.

If indeed she reveals the reasons for her actions one day, I have but a few words:

Mrs. Bonnie Sweeten, I do not pretend to understand the problems that made you run the other day. I can only hope you never feel the real pain of a stranger taking your child unwillingly from your grasp. Nine years ago you were given the gift of a beautiful baby girl. Somewhere along the line you became lost. May there again be a time in your life when your daughter can look into your eyes and see not only love, but a loving example.

Only Prayers,


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Local Abduction Gains National Attention

Only four miles from my home, a horrendous crime has taken place. A mother and her child were kidnapped after they were involved in a traffic accident. The mother's name is Bonnie Sweeten. She is 38 years old. Her daughter, Julia Rakoczy is only 9 years old.

Please, if you have only two minutes today, use one to read the following story:

Use the other minute to hug your children. Like most of us, this mother was just running her daily errands. She had no idea how future events would effect her or her child.

As I sit and write this blog, another Amber Alert appears across my television screen. While I have only been blogging for about six months now, I have seen rallies take place. From the mother's who have just been given the news that their child has cancer, to the mother's who are fighting cancer themselves. We are a powerful group. We believe in miracles. We make miracles happen. Let's get this mom and her child back where they belong....home!

The Today show also ran the story this morning. You can read the full account and view pictures at this site:

When you have finished reading this blog, please pass it on to a friend. We are stronger in numbers!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ecostore USA Giveaway

I was recently contacted by a fabulous company to see if I was interested in giving some of their products a try. Ecostore USA specializes in products that are not only safe for the environment; they are safe for you.

In the past few years the media has been saturated with the term "green." Apparently we've come to realize that the way we've been doing things is not only destroying our planet, but it is also leading to allergies and diseases. Among some of the things you won't find in Ecostore's products are: phosphates, synthetic perfumes or dyes, enzymes, chlorine, or ammonia. The three products I chose to try were Citrus Spray Cleaner, Herbal Fresh Shampoo for pets, and the Baby Moisturizer.

The Citrus Spray Cleaner comes in a spray container. It is priced at only $9.00 for 17 fluid ounces. When compared to other natural products of its kind, this is a real bargain. A refill is available for only $7.00. Although I primarily used this product in the kitchen, I would also recommend its use in the bathroom as well. I put it to the test after a spaghetti dinner. The Citrus Spray Cleaner easily removed spaghetti sauce from my stove top and counters. It also helped with a butter cleanup left over from some garlic bread. After the dishes were loaded in the dishwasher, I used it to clean around the sink faucet. It removed all traces of that nights dinner, plus it added a nice shine.

The second product I requested was the Herbal Fresh All Natural Shampoo for pets. We are the proud owner of an eight year old poodle mix named Harley. Harley generally goes to the local groomer for her baths. I have bought over the counter products before, but I have never been completely satisfied. The Herbal Shampoo had a light scent. In the past, I have had Harley jump out of the sink while getting her bath, but not that day. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. The product lathered quickly, was not too thick, and was easy to rinse from my dogs hair. After I was through, I combed and dried her. Her apricot coat was left shiny, and she even had a hint of herbal scent when I was done.

The last product I requested was the Baby Moisturiser. I chose this product specifically for my four year old who suffers from severe Eczema. While there is no cure for eczema, and this product makes no claims, most doctors will tell you to use a good moisturizer over the topical steroids that are often prescribed for this condition. I can't begin to tell you the amount of creams we have tried for my son. After using the Baby Moisturiser for a few days I noticed a more conditioned look in my sons skin. The moisturiser is very light and nongreasy. Essentially, a little goes a long way. I also used the moisturizer on my own hands. The normal cracks appeared less noticeable, and the texture was much softer.

If you are not already using Ecostore products, I ask that you give them a try. It's time that we all start paying closer attention to what we are putting in and on our bodies. Ecostore products are currently available in all Meijer store locations. If like myself, you are not located by a Meijer's, Ecostore is offering a $25.00 gift certificate to one lucky winner sent via email to use towards any products of your choosing. Anyone who leaves a comment to this post will be entered in the drawing. The winner will be chosen at random. A winner will be chosen by this Thursday.Please leave an email address with your comment so that I and Ecostore can get in touch with you.

Good Luck to All!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For the Birds!

There's an old saying that goes: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got." I don't know who said this, but I'm pretty certain they were talking about me.

You think I'd learn by now not to buy those hanging flower baskets for my porch every Spring, but it's easier said than done. See, every year like clock work around the same time I'm hanging my baskets, bird families everywhere are searching for prime real estate. I don't advertise, but apparently they have a good agent. Generally within a week of hanging a new basket, the newlyweds move in. And you know what they say: "New house, new baby."

And so the saga continues. This is where it gets a little tricky. I love my flower beds. It is the one thing that totally belongs to me. It is my retreat. Even if I have only 10 minutes a day, I treasure every minute. I never minded watering, until now. The one thing I've noticed about birds is they are a bit territorial. When I try to go out in the morning to water, I am met by squawking. I believe it is the Father Bird who throws the first punch. He generally flies out of the basket to the adjacent tree. It is there that the "Calling of the Birds" begins. I know how crazy this must sound, but you have to believe me when I tell you Father Bird calls in the troops. Within minutes, fellow birds begin to line my neighbors rooftops. "And War is Declared!"

I can't say exactly what Father Bird has planned but I carefully keep one eye on him and his posse while attempting to water my flowers. The baskets are always the scariest to water because I have to figure out a way to keep my plants alive without the possibility of drowning or blowing a baby bird right out of their nest. I have performed this task for seven years straight. Nonetheless, I feel more like a Ghost Buster with a Proton Pack than an amateur gardener with a hose.

And so I wait. Yes, wait. I wait until those little critters decide to spread their wings and fly. Fly far, far, far, away. I then return back to my Happy Mommy Maestro self. The happy Mommy I was before Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds' was reenacted on my front porch.

Before I know it, all is quiet once more. The only sounds that resonate are the hissing from the hose, the morning paper that just slapped against the sidewalk and the new family of birds that just moved into my neighbor's hanging basket (Ha, Ha).

I will spend the rest of this summer season alone. My job here is done. My husband doesn't understand why I even bother buying those darn baskets year after year. Clearly I already know what is going to happen. He likes to say the whole thing is: "For the birds." (pun intended) I like to tell him he's right, "The whole thing is for the birds!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Have You Thanked Your Potty Today?

I often blog about the many jobs us mothers have. On a daily basis we may find ourselves vacuuming and doing a load of laundry in the morning, while by night we're cleaning up vomit, helping check homework and wishing for that coveted activity called sleep. No rest for the weary.

Sometimes I share this observation with Hubby who seems perplexed at the notion that more than one thing can actually be completed at the same time. This is in no way a complaint about my husband, it's again, just an observation. Men and women are wired differently. I don't pretend to get it. But I certainly have learned to accept it.

This actual post came to me during a potty break (can you tell I'm a Mom?). And as I sat there contemplating about my many roles, I couldn't help but think of the many roles held by something else that sits under our roof. Yes, I'm referring to our toilet.

While many of us may take our toilets for granted, I promise, by the end of this post, you will see your toilet in a different light. Once you realize how much you depend on your toilet, you may just find yourself buying one for every room.

Here are just a few of the many hats our very own toilet wears everyday:

1) The Obvious- I'm not going to spell this one out for you. You know what you do and how you do it. And that's the end of this speech.

2) A Foot Stool- A best friend when it comes to removing those window shades, or the extra six inches we need to reach that pesky spider web.

3) A Decoration- You just couldn't help yourself. Walmart had a sale on toilet huggies, and now your piece of porcelain paradise is covered in a fur coat.

4) A Book Case- Your favorite novels line the top. Designed especially for those important trips that feel more like journeys.

5) An Alternative Bathing Spot- Whether it's your pet, your child, a doll or action figure; at least once during your life span, one of those things will believe they will get a better clean in the toilet than the bathtub.

6) A Geyser- Old Faithful has nothing on you. Your children decided to play the oldie but goodie game: "How much can you flush?"

7) A Getaway- Research shows the cheapest vacation spot known to man or woman for that matter is the potty. (Notice: Invest in a padlock for optimal satisfaction).

8) A Cemetery- Every bug that you've squished and every fish that has passed has taken the toilet journey. "So where do you think all of that stuff goes?"

9) An Ashtray- In your teenage years, you hid your smoking from your parents by flushing your habit down the drain (I'm referring to cigarettes of course!)

10) The Reason Homeowners is a Good Idea- The weatherman predicted sunny skies and yet it's raining on the first floor. OOP'S!

So when you're feeling overwhelmed one day, kick back, throw your feet up, and maybe enjoy one of Ann's famous cocktails during VGNO. But before you throw the towel in, I have one question for you: "Have you thanked your potty today?"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Advice For A New Bride and Groom

This weekend will mark a new milestone for our family. On Saturday at 2:30 in the afternoon, my brother will become a husband.

We've anxiously waited for this day to arrive. Although only a year separates the two of us, it sometimes feels as if we were born light years apart. My brother, the ever joking, never serious, daredevil, prankster of a man he is, has finally decided to share his life with someone.

Not just any someone though. Sometime around four years ago at my Christmas Party my brother walked in with Jennifer. It was our first meeting. It's always hard to get a good feel for people during these family functions. As I made my way that night trying my best to talk to everyone, I wondered just how this woman fit into my brother's life. Was she just a friend? A date for the night? Or was she someone very special?

Jen, you may not know about this part. But as the night was winding down and I walked my brother to get your coats, he asked me: "So what do you think?"

My initial thought was "What do I think about what?" I had no idea what he was referring to.

"What do you think of Jennifer?", he asked.

I knew immediately that she was different. "Why?", you ask.

Well in all the years that I've known my brother, he had never once asked what I thought about the woman he was dating. The fact that he cared so much about my opinion, meant more to me than any answer I could have given. By the way, I thought she was perfect for him.

In only a few months Hubby and I will be celebrating 7 years together. I hardly proclaim to be any type of expert on marriage. However, I would like to share some of the highlights that I believe have helped encourage us to enjoy every moment we have together.

1) No matter which way you look at it, marriage is a job. When you treat it like a job you give 100%. When you begin treating it like a chore, you become lazy. Claim to each other that it is the best job you've ever been hired to do. And do it!

2) Hold on to each other during the good times. Hold tighter during the bad.

3) During rough patches, pull out your wedding album. This simple step will remind you why you made this decision in the first place. It will also remind you of all the other people who thought that decision was a good one.

4) Surround yourselves with people who love both of you (not just one).

5) Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, promotions, and family.

6) Surprise one another.

7) Compliment one another.

8) No matter how tired you are, allow at least 20 minutes to discuss your day with one another. There may not be a tomorrow to give you that chance.

9) Say I love you everyday. Hold each other every night.

10) Share the responsibility of raising children.

11) Never call each other by any other name than the one they were born with. Arguments frequently have an ending; memories last forever.

12) Believe in romance and Happily Ever After.

This is obviously the short list. I use some of these tips on a daily basis, and like most people, I screw up. Don't be afraid of mistakes, you'll make them.

I want to say how very happy I am for you both. I wish you many years, and I look forward to this coming Saturday. I'll bring the tissues.

Love, Mary

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mommy Maestro Gets Fit!!

"I'll start my diet next week." I have been saying this line for way to long. Unfortunately, it is just a line. The action comes and goes. It usually comes in the form of pulling a wagon, pushing a bike, or standing on the back of a scooter with my little guy. It is never consistent, and once my heart rate rises just above the heart attack zone, I level off and again become one with my blog.

I promised myself that I would get in shape for my brother's wedding. And here it is upon us next weekend. It's close to impossible to drop that 10lbs now. I'm thinking 2lbs. at best.

My ever supportive husband did it once again, and surprised me for Mother's Day. He said: "I'm not sure if you're going to like your gift; it has something to do with exercise!" As I ripped through the tissue paper, I couldn't be more excited. Inside the the large pink bag was my new Wii Fit. Yippee!

The boys were equally excited. Maybe because as they are getting older, they are finally learning the art of surprise. For one of the first times I can remember, neither one tried to reveal my present.

I've decided to set a slow pace and give myself 2 months to reach the 10lb. goal. But if it all comes off this week, who am I to complain?

The kids dominated the machine today, and boy was it fun! We hula-hooped, tight roped, and even dodged sneakers being thrown at our heads. What a great Mother's Day.

Well it's Mommy's turn tomorrow boys. I can hardly wait to see where our next adventure takes us.

Stay tuned for the latest weight lost news: Will Mommy Maestro be able to obtain her goal or will Dunkin Doughnut's stock plummet once they find out their number one customer is no longer buying muffins?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Mom's Wish For Mother's Day (A Letter to Her Sons)

To My Sons:

The newspapers are filled with circulars advertising the latest and greatest gifts for Mother's Day. By now Daddy and you both have probably already picked out the perfect gift. But just in case your a little behind the eight ball this year, do not fear. You may be surprised at what I'm about to reveal, but I have made the gift giving very easy. For what I am asking for this year are simple reminders.

Today I am asking for a little chaos. Chaos will remind me that boys will be boys, and in the midst of your chaos there lies perfection.

Today I am asking for a bit of clumsiness. Clumsiness reminds me that all boo-boos both big and small will heal, but only the perfect band aid can be applied by Mommy.

Today I am asking for a temper tantrum. Temper Tantrums remind me of your stubbornness and how those apples didn't fall far from this tree.

Today I am asking for a little nonconformity. Nonconformity reminds me of your uniqueness and your uncanny ability to create "your own" style.

Today I am asking for mud pies and puddles. Mud pies and puddles allow me the opportunity to still enjoy "bath time" and watch as you splash one another clean again.

Today I am asking for a sniffle. Sniffles remind me that my nose wiping days are numbered. This causes Mommy to reach for 2 tissues: one for your sniffle, one for my tear.

Today I want you to walk ahead of me. Walking ahead of me reminds me of your curiosity and your need to just be a kid.

Finally, today I am asking for a hug. This final request may seem a bit more selfish than the other request, but hugs remind me of a job well done. They also remind me that you get it. You get that life is precious, you get that it's nice to be loved, and lastly, when there's no one left in the world who understands, you get that you can always count on your Mommy to listen.

Thanks for making everyday count. I Love You Both.

Yes, I Febrezed My Baby!

Motherhood: A milestone in ones life that said one has chosen for themselves but eventually realizes that despite numerous tips and or advice given by friends, family and loved ones; nothing will prepare you for the everyday chaos which now ensues your life.

Since we will all be celebrating Mother's Day this coming weekend, I thought it only appropriate to also celebrate the laughter that comes with being a Mom.

Whether you're a true blue novice or a polished authority, one thing remains true: There are no instruction manuals for motherhood. Advice will come in many forms: a best friend, an in law, a Hallmark card, a Lifetime Original Movie or even your own mother. Buyer Beware! Remember the dress that you rushed to the store to buy because it looked absolutely gorgeous on the model? Disappointment set in quickly when after trying it on you realized you may own the dress now, but you certainly don't own the dimensions of that model. It goes to show you, what may work for one person doesn't necessarily work for everyone else.

Advice is certainly not a bad thing. It has been used in many instances in this household. The day my son had a massive nose bleed, I sought advice.The day I thought I wanted to return to work, I sought advice. And the day the wheel flew off the stroller, I sought advice. Sometimes advice plays hide and seek while other days it stares you right in the face. Other times, it is no where to be found.

The last example brings me to a time several years back. My older son was still having problems with his digestive system. We were unsure if this stemmed from him being a preemie. After eating he would often regurgitate his food. Sometimes it would be the whole meal, other times just a little would come out. He also very often choked on his food. This led to performing the Heimlich maneuver more than once.

As with most crisis in one's home, you tend to get use to the daily chaos. After dressing my son in the morning, I would generally grab another pair of clothes for him just in case I couldn't catch the vomit (that's right folks, I caught it).

During this particular time, I was teaching, so the mornings were even more hectic when things didn't exactly fall into place. As usual, my son began to vomit. I caught a few drops, but the rest made it on his outfit. All right I thought, I'll just change him. And so I did. And so he repeated the process. "Unbelievable," I thought out loud. And so I changed him again.

The rest of the morning went fine until we reached the door to leave. That's when, despite there being no chance in hell that there could be any food left in my sons stomach; he found some. And because my hands were filled with a briefcase and a little brother, I missed that curve ball. And there it was, sliding down his new outfit. I was about to throw in the towel when I was hit with a bright idea.

Just beyond my vomit covered son was our laundry room. And sitting right on top of the washer was a bottle of Febreze. It was my lucky day! I quickly put down little brother and ran to get a wet rag. After all traces of scrambled eggs and toast were removed from his face and clothes, I began the process. Yes, I Febrezed my baby!

It's funny how one will react during a crisis situation. Although my heart was palpitating beyond normal levels, I tried to remain calm. And I did it all without any advice. Maybe this isn't the best of examples to point out, but it is certainly one of the funniest.

I was reminded the rest of that day what I had done due to the sweet smell of mixed vomit and the New and Improved Odor Eliminating Formula of Extra Strength Febreze which left it's trail everywhere from the minivan to my own clothes. (Odor eliminating my *%^#$@).

And so now I would like to raise a glass to Motherhood. For those of us that brave the front lines day after day. For those of you who can catch vomit with one hand. And finally for those of you who may have chosen to change your child one last time before reaching for a bottle of Febreze.

This one's for you!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Even God Fears Swine

This morning greeted us with heavy showers. Since the list of accomplishments for today consisted mainly of indoor activities; the rain was welcomed.

Potter and I headed over to 9:30 mass. The church was crowed as usual. Today I would rather have stayed under the covers and enjoyed a day of relaxation. I then popped back into reality realizing that having kids in no shape or form equates to relaxation.

Catholic mass began as usual with a woman making announcements about the latest church functions, choir sign-ups, money collected and needed and so forth. Oddly enough it didn't end there. She began speaking about the spread of Swine Flu and the part that the church would be playing today. She asked that during the Sign of Peace if instead of people extending their hands to one another, maybe they can give a nod.

Really, I thought. No Sign of Peace? Has it really gotten that bad?

I've watched the news like everyone else this past week. I've seen the headlines and statistics, and frankly I'm not so sure what to make of it. I've done what I've always done: wash my hands, cover my mouth when sneezing and coughing, stay home when I'm sick and keep my kids out of school when they are sick. If only everyone else followed the rules.

I'm in awe at the number of schools that have remained open while possible cases of Swine were waiting to be confirmed. Had they been more cautious, could we have prevented our current crisis.

The media has had a field day with this topic. In their effort to keep us informed, they have made sure to cover 20 minutes out of their half hour time slots with Swine Flu updates. All the while reminding us of CDC and presidential news conferences and of course the ever informing ticker at the bottom of the screen.

While some people are in complete panic, others still refuse to follow the basic rules. As a mother, I felt responsible to sit down with my children and explain (as well as I could to a 4 and 5 year old) the seriousness of this illness. I reminded them to mind their manners and turn their heads when coughing and sneezing and to use soap when washing their hands. Beyond that, there's not much more I can do.

As I continue to hear about schools that are refusing to shut down, companies that continue to run, and children and adults who continue to show up for work and school even when they know they should be home in bed; today I felt safe. Hats off to a church that decided to give people a place to worship while at the same time reminding them of their personal responsibility.