Thank you for stopping by! As I rarely have time to update this blog anymore, please come visit me at my new photoblog, Cari Berry Photography where I'll blog the occassional Beauty and the little Beast story, as well as post sneak peeks and stories from all my photo sessions. I try to give return blog love to all visitors over there, and hope to start giveaways there in the very near future!

For visitors to this blog, please accept my apologies, but I've had to turn on captcha because of the insane amount of spam comments I've been getting. Dontcha hate it when one bad apple ruins it for everyone else??!! ;)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thank You For Supporting Our Troops! Winners Here!

Thank you to everyone who participated in my Support the Troops giveaway! I received 161 comments on the giveaway post, which means I will be donating 161 care package items and 161 cards to Operation Homefront for our soldiers stationed overseas. Thanks for making my giveaway a total success! I was so touched by your personal stories of loved ones serving, or who had served, in the military. Thank you for sharing them with me. I have added all the active duty men and women mentioned in your comments to my prayer list!

There were 194 entries to win the two gift baskets I'm giving away, since everyone who entered by March 26th received an extra entry. The two winners selected by were #105 Lisa of Military Momz (how appropriate!) and #53 Brenda Lea of The Purple Lady's Art For Your Body & Home. Congratulations ladies! Please contact me at with your mailing address so that I can mail your care packages to you!

I wish it was within my means to give every single one of you a prize! I do have a new giveaway starting on April 5th, so be sure to check back then and enter to win a great prize!

What the %@*#?! Wednesday, Week 6

The other day, I came downstairs after nursing Beauty to sleep and found the little Beast crouched on the floor between the couch and the coffee table. He had his back to me, and was looking wide-eyed over his shoulder at me, trying to appear innocent and inconspicuous. I instantly demanded to know what he was up to, and approached him to find the item below possesively clutched to his chest.

That is a bottle of Spiderman gummy vitamins. With a child proof, twist-to-unlock lid. And yes, it is empty. Because he ate them. All of them.

What the @%*#?! Is the little Beast some kind of evil genius? Do you know how much intense concentration and coordination it must have taken for him to pull off such a feat?! First he had to climb his way to the countertop by wrapping his freaky monkey toes around these tiny knobs. Ouch!

Then he had to stand on that ice-cold granite slab barefoot and streeeeetch to reach the bottle of vitamins on the top shelf of this cupboard, without toppling over and crashing to the ground.

Then, he had to figure out how to outsmart the childproof cap and devour the dozen remaining vitamins, all without making enough noise to alarm me. And he had to accomplish this in a matter of minutes before I could return and foil his plot. If we could just teach our precocious child to use his superpowers for good instead of evil, I believe he may be capable of single-handedly resolving the economic crisis or bringing peace to the Middle East. But, alas, I fear he finds troublemaking more fun than peacemaking...

For better and more fun What the @%*#?! Wednesday posts, visit here, here, here or here!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Testimony: True. Tearless. Tribute.

I usually try to keep my blog posts fun, humorous and short, so if that’s what you came anticipating today, I apologize for throwing you a curve ball, but I think if you stick around you will get more than you were expecting from me.

In recent weeks I have had guilt on my heart for allowing my blog to distract me from more important life tasks, so I have been praying that blogging would become an edifying experience for me, and that God might use my blog in an authentic and natural way to bring glory to Himself. Several things have happened in past days that lead me to believe now is the right time for a serious attempt to do so.

Yesterday, I read an amazing post by Angie over at Bring the Rain about how her current intimate relationship with God was formed. You should all take a moment to read it, as it is one of the most beautifully written pieces I've ever read, and I was an English major and English teacher once upon a time so I've read a lot. Angie's post spoke so loudly and directly to my heart that I have been inspired to share my own testimony about how God recently changed my heart and my life forever.

Last summer, I went through what I call a Spiritual Crisis. It was a depression actually. I was expecting a second baby and was terrified about how I’d manage to be a successful mother to two kids under two. I felt like my life was without purpose or direction; that I was stumbling through it accidentally when what I really wanted was to live - and parent - with intention. I needed a stronger relationship with my God. I did not want to be lukewarm, or distracted, or worldly. I wanted my love for Christ and commitment to his commandments to be like a fire within me, overpowering my sin nature and the temptations of this world with its intensity. I wanted my every action to be motivated by love for Christ, and I wanted to be an example of Christ-centeredness for my children.

I began desperately and frantically searching for the right book that would tell me how to achieve this, or for a Christian women’s seminar that would light this fire in me, teach me how to be a woman of Christ. I cried, and prayed, and Googled until all hours of the night for days on end. And then an epiphany dawned, not suddenly like the proverbial light bulb going on, but slowly, layer by sweet layer, God’s truth unfolded itself for me. I was making this so much harder than it was. I did not need a book, or seminar, or song, or person to teach me how to follow Christ. All I needed was prayer and God’s written word. How simple! In Angie's words, what I needed to do was "Disregard the manuals and pick up the brush."

So I began to pray and read the Bible regularly. I set aside time every morning and evening for devotionals. I would bring my failures and fears and weaknesses and wants to God, and I would beg for him to fix me. I would plead with him to show me what to do. And the most amazing thing happened. Everytime I finished praying, then opened the Bible to a random place, the Scripture that was before me was a direct answer to a question or worry weighing on my heart! And those answers began to change me, though I was still struggling with how to become the person I wanted to be. Part of me was still looking for that one perfect book, or person, or seminar that would do the work for me.

At this time, I was also feeling a burning need to go back to church (we had let sleeping in, running errands, home improvements keep us from church for months). For several weeks worth of Sundays, I ignored the need for a morning of worship in favor of doing other less important things. But one Sunday, I could not quiet the desire, so ended up at church in spite of the million other things we had planned for ourselves that day. That particular Sunday, there was a guest speaker, a missionary from Africa coming home to report on his experiences in Senegal. His sermon was titled, “Finding Your Way Through the Fog,” and started with this verse:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5

And there it was again. So simple. The direct answer to my most fervent prayer. How?

Trust the Lord
Lean not on your own understanding
Acknowledge him in all your ways

I connected to that sermon more powerfully and intensely than I had to anything I’d ever heard in my life before. I was beyond moved; lifted up. It was as though that man was speaking directly to me. And I thought to myself, “Maybe he is.” In fact, maybe God was speaking to me through this man. This was a shocking idea to me. Though I’d casually believed in Christ as the Lord all my life, I didn’t believe that God still spoke to people, or performed miracles, or really showed himself present in the lives of us mortals at all. But every time I prayed for direction through the Scripture, a perfect set of verses presented itself when I opened my Bible. And when I didn’t want to go to church, an irresistible need to go drove me there. On the exact day that a man preached about how to find my way out of the fog of depression and inertia I’d been lost in.

And that’s not all. After the sermon, the missionary said, “If you are feeling lost in the fog, please do not leave here today without coming forward to speak to me, and letting me pray with you.”

I started to leave, then stopped mid-step and considered turning back and going to him. I had never, ever gone to the front of church to speak to the preacher in my entire life. I liked being anonymous, filing out and disappearing among the crowd without anyone even knowing I had been there. I was certainly not going up there today, when I didn’t even know what I’d say to the man, who was a perfect stranger, for crying out loud. I started to leave again, then stopped. I was in the midst of internal struggle. I kept hearing his words again in my head, “do not leave without speaking to me”. But I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want other people to see me going up there. And I didn’t know what to say once I was before this obvious Saint of a believer. In the end, my feet carried me to the front of the church against my head’s wishes.

When I got there, to my complete and utter humiliation, I burst into tears. I was crying so hard I could not even tell the man why I was standing there. I could only choke out an embarrassed apology. Try as hard as I might, I could not curb the tears, and could not find my voice. He said to me, “It’s okay. You don’t have to say anything, but would you allow me to pray for you?” No one had ever prayed for me before as far as I knew. I nodded my head yes, and he put his hands on my shoulders, then bowed his head. I bowed mine too, my shoulders still shaking with sobs. And when he began to pray, I was washed with amazement because his prayer was exactly what my heart would’ve prayed had it been able to speak directly to God without my clumsy words and thoughts getting in the way. I had not said anything to this stranger, but somehow he knew exactly what to ask God on my behalf. Again, I was struck by the thought that God must be at work here, helping small, broken, unworthy, little me.

I left feeling hollowed out, in a good way. Emptied of all the weights I had been carrying in the pit of my stomach. God had washed me clean somehow that day, and left a blank canvas that He could paint His will on.

For weeks after that day, God continued to work visible miracles in my life, even more astonishing than anything I've shared in this post. I want to tell you about those, too, but this post has gotten so long, and it matters deeply to me that you witness all the evidence of God's grace, power and mercy that I can present. So I will finish my testimony next Tuesday, if you all would be kind enough to join me again then. Thank you.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday's Tribute
A Jay and Deb Production.

I Heart {Pouting} Faces

This week's theme over at i Heart Faces is Pouting. I had such a hard time deciding which picture to use. After getting feedback from family and friends, this shot of the little Beast came out on top. I LOVE this photo. We were at a friend's house and they had just mowed the grass on their beautiful property. The morning dew made the grass clippings stick to the little Beast's feet, which he HATED. This photo makes me laugh everytime I look at it. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Not Me! Monday Part 4

It is a new week, and time for another Not Me! Monday, where I confess to the stupid-mommy blunders I did not commit last week. This week, Natalie at the Cline Family Blog has taken over for MckMama, and asked us all to dedicate our Not Me! Monday posts to baby Stellan. Since I have not been praying continually for him, or refreshing MckMama's blog every 20 minutes daily, I will not be happy to write this post in Stellan's honor.

Precious Stellan, may you recover fully and grow into an ornery two-year old just like the little Beast who gives me so much fodder for Monday's weekly posts! For updates on Stellan's heart condition, click on the button below to visit MckMama's blog.

It was NOT me who let Beauty fall asleep on my bed, then left her there alone while I watched LOST downstairs. It was not me that moments later heard, THUD! "Whaa-aaaa-aaaa!" and ran upstairs to find Beauty lying on the ground extremely ticked off. Ooops...

This same baby girl did not throw up her Rotavirus vaccine all over the poor nurse at our pediatrician's office this week. And it was not the very same nurse who got showered with the little Beast's vomit just a week before. Ewwww! I'm pretty sure that we're actually not that nurse's favorite family of patients right now.

Thankfully, I'm always really organized and prepared, so I did not forget to put an extra change of clothes for Beauty in the diaper bag for this appointment, so she did not have to go home in wet, vomit-soaked clothes.

I did not think to myself while leaving the doctor's office with my not-puke covered kid that I kind of like the smell of Beauty's throw-up. Nope, that would be really weird and gross, so I definitely did not have that thought. If I ever did have a wacky thought like that, I certainly would not admit it to the entire blogosphere by posting it here.

It was not my other child who gagged on sour milk after drinking from a sippy cup he found laying under his bed. There is absolutely no way I would let a dirty sippy cup sit around unwashed for days at a time. Gross.

Speaking of unwashed, It was not me that sprinkled my head with baby powder before running errands in order to hide some of the nastiness that did not occur after I didn't get a chance to wash my hair for two days straight. Ewwww!

And since we're discussing baby powder, please allow me to share this gem of a photo with you.

Nope, the little Beast did not climb up and find a bottle of baby powder in my medicine cabinet, then proceed to shake the thing until it was completely empty, and every square inch of my bathroom was covered in a fine white dust. I did not contemplate wringing his scrawny neck for a minute, and we are not all still coughing and choking on baby powder dust. Grrrrr....

That's really all I can think of, though I'm sure I have many more moments of mommy failure I could share with you all. While you're here, please make sure to enter my Support Our Troops Giveaway by leaving a comment at the contest post!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Favorite Things Swap!

Kati of Country Girl, City Life (Formerly Known As Backwoods Down-Home Barbie) is hosting her first "Swap" giveaway, where you give a few of your favorite things and get a few of their favorites in return. Participating makes me feel a little bit like Oprah, without the giant bank account and ridiculous ego!

Really though, I am so excited to get to share with another blogger the things I love most in this world (well, okay, maybe not what I love most. Although I have once or twice considered mailing the little Beast to live with another family until he outgrows the terrible twos!)

If you want to get in on the fun, just click the button at the top of this post for all the details!

And speaking of favorite things, I just won these awesome cards from Kelli of The Oxborough Family blog, who recently started her own stationery line at Your Life Long Memories. Go check out her supercute invites, announcements, cards and scrapbook layouts!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


My Support-Our-Troops Giveaway has been extended until Tuesday, 3/31 to collect more comments for our servicemembers!

AND I'm adding a second smaller care package prize so there will be TWO winners for this giveaway!

Everyone who entered by the original deadline of 3/26 will earn an extra entry for these great gift basket prizes!

To enter, simply leave a comment at THE ORIGINAL CONTEST POST telling me why and/or how you choose to support members of the U.S. Military and their families.

Please spread the word fellow patriots! Thanks so much! Good luck.

UBP '09: Better Late Than Never

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

The Ultimate Blog Party 2009 has been underway all week, and I'm suddenly in the mood for a party! So, even though it all ends tomorrow at Midnight, I'm joining the fun! If you're stopping by to visit me for the first time from 5 Minutes For Mom, welcome and thanks! I'm a stay-at-home mom to two under two, a job full of blog-perfect catastrophes. My website is the place where I like to share my laugh-or-I'll-cry moments of mommy failure with you, my pretend Internet friends!

My favorite links are posted in the sidebar to your left under "Best of Beauty and the Beast". Or my What the %@*#?! Wednesday feature is always good for a chuckle.

I'm also hosting a SUPPORT OUR TROOPS GIVEAWAY, just leave a comment on that post and you're entered to win a care package full of awesome goodies!

There are tons of great giveaways over at The Ultimate Blog Party headquarters. I'm personally hoping to win one of these:

19 — $50 gift certificate to Target Stores Provided by: Shoot-Me-Now
21 — $50 gift certificate to Target Stores Provided by: Agoosa - Funny Name, Sound Advice
22 — $50 gift certificate to Target Stores Provided by: Beginner Baby Blog
58 – Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer Provided by: Moms Who Think

Or any of these giftcards for that matter: #26, USC56, #91, #118, #123, USC47, USC15, #77, #86 and of course #1 - $100 gift certificate to either Pedal Cars and Retro or A Rocking Horse To Love from 5 Minutes for Mom (what great photo props these would make!)

Thanks for stopping by, and I'll see ya around the blogosphere!


For more pictures of "reflection" visit I Should Be Folding Laundry for You Capture: Week 5! And don't forget to enter my Support Our Troops giveaway for your chance to win an awesome care package for yourself!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Here. Put this on.

Hubby and I have a pretty typical courtship story. We met in English class at our local community college in 2002. I sat down next to him in my supercute red skirt and brand new knee-high boots, but he barely looked at me. Of course, I was instantly attracted to his indifference, and his appeal increased exponentially when I realized that the boy was wicked-smart. Luckily, he warmed up to me quickly and we developed a witty and sarcastic rapport, then a playful rivalry when we discovered we were competing for the top grade in our class. (I beat him by one-tenth of a point, and yes, I'm still gloating seven years later! ;P)

I began to woo him by passive-aggressively inviting everyone in class out for drinks and appetizers just to have an excuse to see him outside of Creative Writing 101. He courted me by mocking my new tattoo and writing me a poem on the dangers of drinking and driving, which included gruesome references to human brain matter being scraped off wet pavement. (I know, I know, who wouldn't fall head over heels with sweet talk like that?) Eventually we managed to stumble our way onto an actual date, and five months later we were engaged. How did that happen, you ask? Please, prepare yourself to be overcome with emotion at the sheer romance of hubby's proposal...

We were driving to the movies one rainy night in his grandparents borrowed pickup truck. Without taking his eyes off the road, he pulled a ring out of his jacket pocket and thrust it at me. Then he poured out heartfelt declarations of his undying love he said, "Here. Put this on."

And I did.

Yep, that's it. The big romantic story of how our life together began. I keep telling him he owes me a real, down-on-one-knee, champagne-at-sunset proposal, but after 5 years, I've quit holding my breath that it's ever going to happen. Besides, he's given me two of the world's most precious children, and nothing else he has to offer can ever top that!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What the %@*#?! Wednesday Again

Ahem. My dear little Beast. Could you tear your eyes away from that cartoon for a moment? This may come as a surprise to you, but your baby sister is a human being. And decidedly




Not to mention that you outweigh her by about 20 pounds.

So, would you kindly find a new seat?

But wait! First let me snap a crooked, blurry, cluttered picture. (I'm sure it's not the least bit confusing that I'm telling you to move and stay put at the same time.)

Why, yes, reader, that is exactly the calm manner in which I addressed the little Beast when I walked in on him using Beauty as a makeshift stool. I certainly did not raise my voice or make idle threats. Oh, and please don't worry your pretty little head about our Beauty, as she wasn't bothered in the least at being crushed underneath her big brother. In fact, she actually had the nerve to smile and laugh while he tortured her this way. What the %@*#?!

Before you go, don't forget to check out my Support Our Troops Giveaway, for a chance or two to win an awesome care package!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not Me! Monday Postponed

I interrupt our regularly scheduled Not Me! Monday post to bring you this urgent prayer request on behalf of MckMama, creator of Not Me! Monday. Her youngest child, a baby nearly the same age as my Beauty, is in a serious health crisis and needs our help! In the words of Tim from Fort Thompson:

"I need all of the Prayer Soldiers to please join me in prayer.

Stellan who is the son of Jennifer which most of you know as MckMama is in the ICU with SVT which is an irregularly high heartbeat. This is the same thing he was diagnosed with in the womb, which doctors said he could not survive. They said he would for sure die in the womb.

Well with tons of prayer God performed a miracle in this child and he was born totally healthy, and he was indeed very much alive!

Now they need our prayers again. You can read more details on his status by clicking here.

This is my NOT Me Monday post. It will NOT BE ME that doesn't pray for this baby and his family. Make sure that it is NOT you that doesn't pray either

So please do as Tim asks, and lift little Stellan up in prayer! Thank you.

I Heart {Flash-Less} Faces

Thanks for stopping by, and *HEY WHILE YOU'RE HERE, be sure to ENTER MY FABULOUS "Support Our Troops" GIVEAWAY*!

This week's i Heart Faces theme is "No Flash". When I got serious about my photos a few months ago, the first valuable piece of advice I received was to turn off my flash. Even though my point-and-shoot performs terribly in low light, I took that advice and haven't used my flash since that day. The picture I'm entering for this contest was taken near an East-facing window, just days after I turned off my flash for good. I love the clarity of Beauty's skin, the amazing catchlights in her eyes, and her hint of amused smile. This is easily one of my faves of all the photos I've ever taken.

For more gorgeous no-flash photos, head over to i Heart Faces and browse the other contestants' entries!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Support-Our-Troops Giveaway!

Here is your chance to enter a contest that not only might win you a great prize, but will also benefit our hardworking, life-risking soldiers fighting overseas, like the one pictured in this wonderful homecoming photo by Karyn. Karyn Kuniyuki is a photography graduate of RIT, in New York, and the University of Arizona, in Tucson. She is the owner of Photos By Karyn in Central Texas, a family and child portrait photography business. She lives and works where the Army orders. A proud officer's wife and mother of two boys, she has survived overseas tours, an overseas birth, and raising little ones as a single parent during two Iraq deployments. She lives and loves military life and familes!

Like Karyn, I am a big supporter of our military members and their families, and I want you to join with me in letting them know how grateful we are for their service. Many of these brave men and women are serving out their second and third deployments in war zones, away from the comfort of family and safety of home. They are often lonely, homesick, even depressed. Some don't receive mail or phone calls from anyone at home. How can you help, you ask?

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me why you support military personnel and their families, and I will donate a card and one comfort item (candy, beef jerky, coffee, gum, bug spray, batteries, cough drops, etc.) on your behalf to Operation Homefront, who will box them into care packages and ship them to a soldier stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But the goodies aren't only for our soldiers. Two lucky commenters are going to win an awesome care package!
includes magazines, stationery, candy, cookies, coffee, tea, soap, lotion, lip gloss, pedicure kit, tea, partylite candles, and more (I can't help myself! I keep adding to it everyday!)

So, if you'd like me to donate to a soldier on your behalf, AND enter you to win a great care package for yourself, you must: Leave a comment telling me why and/or how you choose to support members of the U.S. Military and their families. (I will compile all your supportive comments and print them to be included in the care packages we send through Operation Homefront.)

You can also earn an extra entry into the care package giveaway for each of the following steps you take:

1. Blog about this contest on your own website with a link back here (be sure to come back and leave a separate comment here with the url to your post!)

2. Join my BlogFrog community, and leave a separate comment here telling me you've done so (or already are!).

3. Become a follower of my blog and leave me a comment telling me you've done so (or already are!).

4. Go visit photos by Karyn and leave a comment on your favorite post there. Then come back here and comment telling me which of Karyn's posts you liked best!

If you want to do more to support our troops, get involved with one of the organizations here, here or here. And remember our soldiers need your prayers more than anything!

Contest ends Tuesday, 3/31 at midnight. A winner will be selected randomly by the widget. I will notify the winner via email or comment on their blog, then make an announcement here! (Make sure I can get in touch with you or I'll have to choose another winner!)

Thanks so much for playing! And thank you SITS for the Shout-Out!!

(Care package giveaway open only to residents of U.S. and Canada. *up to 200 donations total)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fix It Friday: Dimpled Darling

It's Friday again, and time to practice my photo-editing skills with this adorable photo by Angie of i Heart Faces. Here is my edited version:

And here is the original:

Here is what I did to this photo:
Opened in GIMP. Applied unsharp mask to entire photo. Lassoed irises and lashes and applied a second unsharp mask. Under colors menu, increased brightness and contrast using slider bar. Also decreased reds under Color Balance menu. Lowered overall color saturation. Selected red from color menu and increased lightness, lowered saturation. Added a layer, set to overlay at 50% opacity. Dodged the whites of eyes. Flattened image. Saved.
Opened image in Picnik. Cropped. Used blemish fix on undereye redness. Used shine-be-gone on nose. Added Cross Process effect faded to 85%. Added Sepia and selected peachy/gray from color bar. Saved to my computer. Done!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What the %@*#?! Wednesday, Part 5

Last week, I shared the little Beast's weird obsession with putting his feet in inappropriate places, like poor Beauty's face. This week, I'd like to highlight another of the the little Beast's freakish behaviors: self stamping. He really loves ink stamps, and I like them too because they keep him occupied so that I can have a minute or three of peace. The problem is, he prefers stamping himself over stamping his art paper.

But stamping himself is really just a small part of the problem. Perhaps a bigger issue might be that I occasionally catch him EATING THE INK! (Gross, and probably mildly toxic.)

And as if eating them was not twisted enough, the little Beast upped the ante this week by creating a new way to misuse his stamps. This is what I discovered when I came out of the laundry room one afternoon.

The little Beast had used his stamps to decorate poor Beauty's adorable face! Fortunately, she thinks the little Beast walks on water, so she didn't mind being temporarily tattooed. But, really, What the %@*#?! Is it too much to ask that he use the stamps the way they were intended, rather than as a sibling torture device?!

Damn. You. Dora.

So this will come as no surprise to my regular readers, but in addition to being wild, crazy, destructive and aggressive, the little Beast is, above all things, L-O-U-D! I mean, grit-your-teeth, clench-your-fists, make-your-ears-bleed noisy. I have been trying to teach him volume control for weeks. We encourage the "inside voice", give timeouts when he wakes his sister with his yelling, even the occassional spanking when the shrieking gets out of control. But all my hardwork is undone every morning at 10:30, when Dora the Explorer takes over our lives.

There are tons of things that annoy me about Dora: her squeaky, nasally voice; her stupid, stuck-in-my-head-all-day songs, that meanypants Swiper. But nothing on television, not the violence of SpongeBob or the bizarre freakiness of Yo! Gabba Gabba, bothers me as much as the top-of-the-lungs call-and-response of Dora. Every episode, over and over again, she tells viewers "Say. It. Louder!" And the little Beast is more than happy to comply, to the misfortune of my poor ears and short thread of patience. The show is only 20 minutes long, but 4 minutes into it, I'm ready to reach into the television and squeeze Dora until her ginormous head explodes!

So, this is it. No more Dora in this house. EVER. Not even if it is the only show on television when Publisher's ClearingHouse shows up with a ten million dollar check for me if I could just distract my kid long enough to sign it. No thanks. You can keep your ten million dollars. We are "Done. With. Dora!" Consider this your official notice, Nickelodeon, we are BOYCOTTING Dora until you teach her to use her inside voice!

If you've got something to vent or complain about, head over to Mama Loco's and link up!

*photo property of

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Heart {Green} Faces!

This week's theme over at i Heart Faces is green, in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Winter continues here in Seattle, which means my ideas for green photos were snowed hailed rained out. I did let the little Beast go outside with his green raincoat and umbrella to stomp in puddles, hoping to capture a great shot. Problem was, everytime I crouched to take his picture, he wanted to put the umbrella over my head, so all my shots of him are thisclose. Oh well, at least we can appreciate his beautiful GREEN eyes in my kids entry for this week! (Update: Thanks to everyone who has complimented his eyes. They ARE naturally green, but also are reflecting a green umbrella! And post-processing brightened them a bit too!)

My sister also braved our crazy Northwest weather so that I could snap this photo outside in my carport yesterday! She is my adult entry:

For more and much better GREEN faces, click the button below and check out all the contestants at i Heart Faces!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

He Loves Me.

Anyone who has spent more than 3 seconds reading my blog will know that I am definitely not in the running for a Mother of the Year Award. I yell. I sometimes curse. I've even locked my toddler in his bedroom while he screamed that he was "all done take a NAAAAAPPPP!". And this week was perhaps worse than usual. All three of us had the flu simultaneously, which meant being cooped up in the house 24/7 with my children, cleaning up more messes than I can count and tackling piles of laundry while battling waves of nausea and a paralyzing headache.

But tonight, I was finally getting a break! Going to have a drink with a girlfriend celebrating her birthday at a local bar. It should've been a wonderful night. But the little Beast jumped on Beauty's head while using her as a makeshift hurdle, which led her to an epic meltdown. Then, the little Beast adamantly refused to go to bed on time, robbing me of the time I needed to straighten my hair and touch up my makeup. Then, Beauty threw up all over my never-before-worn nightclub outfit on my way out the door. At this point, I had used up all but one hour of my babysitter's time, which I knew would be barely long enough to get through the bar line to order a drink, let alone imbibe it!

At my breaking point, I whined to my mom on the phone, "I HATE my life this week!"

To which she replied, "Well, motherhood's not always glamorous."

I laughed and said, "Is it EVER?!" In that moment, I couldn't see past the overwhelming stress of it to remember all the little joys.

BUT THEN... putting the little Beast down for bed, I leaned over him to kiss him goodnight. He put his chubby little toddler hands on my cheeks and said , "I yub you Mama."

With heart melting, and guilt mounting, I replied, "Oh, I love you too buddy. So much. I love you all the way to the moon."

And that charming, clever, angelic little boy responded, "Yeah! and i yub you all da way to da sunshine!"

Well, it may not be glamorous, and somedays it's so exhausting, frustrating, heartbreaking that I can barely keep my head up, but nothing in this world compares to the knowledge that this perfect and precious little person loves me back in spite of all the ways I fail him.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fix It Friday, First Time!

My favorite blog, I Heart Faces, has a great weekly feature called Fix It Friday, where they post a photo and let contestants edit it anyway they choose. Since these photos are always way better than anything I've ever taken, I thought I'd try my novice-editing hand at post processing a great portrait. This week's submission is "Cutie Pie" by my friend Lolli over at Life is Sweet.

Here is the beautiful original shot:

And here is my edited version:

Here's what I did:
Opened Image in GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
Increased brightness and contrast using curves
Added new layer
Lowered opacity to 40%
Selected paintbrush, fuzzy circle, opacity 20%, color white
With brush size same as iris, painted over irises of eyes to brighten color
Flattened image
Opened in Picnik Premium
Cropped slightly
Increased color saturation
Played with Orton effect, but portrait looked better without it!

This was so fun! I think I overdid the brightness because I lost the detail of her cheek in profile. And of course, I didn't do anything original here, but it was great practice for me! I think I'll try again next week too!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Field Trip Friday #4

Okay, another day of office work where my blog is blocked by IT Security, grrrr.... But that means I get to share my favorite posts of the week again. Hope you're ready for another Field Trip:

This is quite possibly the funniest post I've ever featured at Field Trip Friday (here's a tease: it discusses bizarre dolls, unusual street signs and duct tape). Put aside your politics and check out I Wish Wednesday at Blah, Blah, Blah, Blog. But make sure to put down your beverage while you read it unless you like your coffee spewing out your nose.

And because I owe my sister a big huge SHOUT-OUT for stepping up this week and helping me care for sick kids while I had the flu myself (she even called in to take the night off work to stay with me!!), I am featuring a post called Listed Sister by Rene at Not the Rockefellers. It is a fun, sweet, wonderfully written piece by a very talented blogger! Read it, especially if you have siblings, you won't be disappointed!

Enjoy your visits, but be sure to come back soon to read about the little Beast's latest antics!

Spring Fling Winner

Oh. My. Gosh. 200 followers?! Maybe I should have made following my blog an option for EXTRA entries, instead of a requirement to qualify. Oops. Thanks to everyone who wanted cheesecake enough to follow a stranger! It won't hurt my feelings if you stop following now that the contest is over, LOL! But if you stick around, you'll have fun! My kids are hilarious, I have regular giveaways, and I try to visit at least 2 of my followers daily to spread commment love! Plus, I'm so overwhelmed by the number of people who entered this giveaway, that I'm offering a consellation prize to ONE MORE LUCKY WINNER! Now, the announcement you're all here for:

The winner of the $25 Cheesecake Factory giftcard is:
Joy at Joy to the Blog
The consellation prize goes to: Kimm at Reinvented

Please drop by their blogs and congratulate them! Thanks to for selecting the winners. And thanks to everyone who played. Check back March 23rd - 26th for my best giveaway ever!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What the %@*#?! Wednesday, Part 4

One of the things that drives me crazy about my little Beast is his predilection for putting his feet places that they don't belong. He loves to put them on my face when I'm changing his diaper (yes, he's still in diapers. I know, I know!) And they always find their way onto the kitchen table during meals (Ewww!). He hooks them like fingers around the knobs on our kitchen drawers in order to climb onto the countertops and stand barefoot browsing through the cupboards. And he even uses them as utensils, as seen at this recent post:

But the thing he most loves to do with his dirty, nasty porkchop feet is put them on his baby sister. Here is a photo montage of just a few of the many, many times I've caught him rubbing his stinky piggy toes on my poor Beauty's face:

Do you notice the smirk of devilish glee he wears while torturing Beauty this way? Seriously, what the %@*#?! Can't he just keep his feet to himself?

If you liked this post, check out my past editions of What the %@*#?! Wednesday here, here and here!