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Preview: Momopoly Reviews

Momopoly Reviews

Welcome to my review site. Here I offer an honest scoop on all sorts of products - from baby gear to cooking gadgets and everything in between.

Updated: 2018-03-06T05:45:04.841-05:00


And the Winner is....


Congratulations to Dana, the lucky 11th comment* and the winner of the $100 gift card to SkinCare Rx. Thanks to everyone who entered and a big thanks to all my loyal Momopoly readers. :-)

*Comment 55 was excluded since it came in after the giveaway deadline. So sorry!

SkinCareRx Giveaway


SkinCare Rx, one of the sponsors of Momopoly, has been generous enough to host a $100 gift card giveaway. SkinCare Rx offers a diverse line of products, including the SkinCeuticals Skin Care line. SkinCeuticals provides complete skincare solutions for all skin types.

 There are several ways to glean entries for this fantastic giveaway (no, I haven't been paid to say that). Here they are:

*Please leave all your entries in separate comments so it’s easier for me to count.

The contest will end at 10 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, April 22, 2010, so be sure to leave your comments on or before then. Winners will be announced here and at my main blog on Friday, April 23rd. Good luck!

    Announcing the Giveaway Winners!


    Using the super nifty True Random Number Service, I have four lucky winners for my Giveaway Galore. I've included the winners and the prize each won below. I'll just need you to email me at kmwicker[at]gmail[dot]com with your contact info so I can get the prizes to you. I was touched by all your warm comments and encouraging words - thank you, and thanks to all my blog readers.

    Thrifty & Chic Mom: The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home

    Nicole Palm: A Planet Mom T-shirt

    Catholic Mommy Brain: A scone pan from

    Cathy Adamkiewicz: A Premium Membership to


    Giveaway Galore!


    This is my first big giveaway in honor me blogging for nearly three years. My official blogiversary doesn't arrive until February, but I thought it might be nice to do a giveaway before Christmas as a gift to my wonderful readers. To participate in the giveaway, leave a comment on or before Friday, November 27th. Please be sure to indicate what prize(s) you'd like to enter to win. If you want a chance of winning any of them, just write, "All." There will be one winner per prize. Winners will be announced the first week in December. Good luck, and thank you for encouraging me as a wife, mother, writer, dreamer, goof ball, and a Christian! Many thanks to my giveaway sponsors!Prize 1One Planet Mom T-shirt of your choice. Choose from these witty styles. (I personally like the "Pray-At-Home Mom" and "Seeking Tall, Dark, Rich Cup of Coffee" tees.)Prize 2A copy of The Heart of Motherhood by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle. This is one of many books I read while on bed rest, and it was just what my midwife ordered: A book that calmed my soul and encouraged me as a mom. What's more, Donna-Marie endured strict bed rest with her fifth child for almost her entire pregnancy after her uterus hemorrhaged, so I felt a personal connection to her and thought I could surely make it through a month of bed rest with her as my inspiration.If you've ever questioned your value as a mom (and really, what mom hasn't when at the end of the day she finds streaks of diaper ointment in her hair, finger paint on her walls, and crushed Cheerios in her carpet?), then pick up any one of Donna-Marie's books for a little pick-me-up. In her conversational style, the mother of five extols motherhood as a God-given vocation and as a means of growing in holiness. Prize 3A scone pan from, one of the CSN Store brands. Then you can easily whip up some tasty scones for a holiday tea, cookie swap, or potluck! While you're clicking, check out the chic and colorful Alessi line of cookware and home accessories.Prize 4A Premium membership upgrade to, your party planning e-headquarters, for ONE YEAR ( a $49.95 value).A MyPunchbowl Premium Membership gives you:- Premium designs- More fonts, papers, and ribbons- Advertising free invitations and eCards- Priority tech support- Exclusive partner offersAnd to all my readers, a 10 percent discount for Tag-A-Bag, a nifty and useful key chain tag that allows you to record all of your children's vital information and then clip it to a diaper bag, backpack, or luggage tote. The Tag-A-Bag kit includes a fold-out card with a spot to attach a recent photograph of your child and record important info like parents' contact information, your pediatrician's phone number, your child's blood type, date of birth, eye and hair color, the poison control number, medication information, and allergies. The Tag-A-Bag kit also includes a disposable ink strip for recording your child's fingerprint as well as a simple medical release statement you can sign, which authorizes someone else to provide medical treatment in the event that you're not available. Mompreneur Stephanie Green invented Tag-A-Bag a few years ago after sending her then 2-year-old (she has recently added a set of twins to her family!) to stay with her parents. Stephanie's no fear monger; she just wanted to have an easy, convenient way of keeping her daughter's "vitals" in one place.Tag-A-Bag kits are regularly $6, but visit Tag-A-Bag now and enter "tagmybag" in the coupon field to receive the 10 discount.Thanks again for supporting Momopoly![...]

    Avent Bottle Review


    This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Avent.Let me start out by saying that I'm a big fan of Avent Isis Manual Breast Pump and subsequently have always used Avent bottles. So I was thrilled when Avent came out with its BPA-free bottles.That said, I don't use bottles all that much. I often joke that my kids go straight from my breasts to sippy cups (and they really almost do).In fact, I practice what's known as ecological breastfeeding (EBF). Which, in a nutshell, means I nurse for both nourishment and comfort without restriction. In other words: I nurse. A. Lot.But occasionally I do cheat - like when my husband and I have an at-home date night and talk over vino or a mixed drink (my husband makes a mean mojito), and I feel I need to "pump and dump." (Then my husband gets to actually feed his offspring with a bottle.)Just this past Saturday we decided to go on a real date night where we actually left our little ones, including M.E., my nursing baby, in the competent care of Gaba and Papa (my parents). So I got all dolled up and armed my parents with an Avent bottle and several ounces of pumped breastmilk. We kissed our older girls good-bye and left a very happy grandma who cherishes the rare moments she gets to feed her grandbabies. Since I'm on my third baby, I wasn't too worried about abandoning my nursing babe (although I typically don't like to leave my babies much at all for at least three months). And we'd already given M.E. a bottle a few times, and she'd been quite pleased with it, actually, because it didn't spray milk down her throat with the force of a fire hose. I've been very blessed to not have any nursing problems other than just making way too much milk. I've been known to refer to my breasts as Super Soakers. But I digress. Again.The point is I wasn't at all worried about how my baby would fare in my absence or if she would take a bottle. Plus, I nursed her right before we left, so I assumed she might not even need to eat while we were stuffing our faces with Greek cuisine and talking about politics, art, and other cerebral topics our kids.That was my first mistake. It turns out M.E., who is just shy of three months, was not at all pleased with an MIA mom. Oh, Gaba didn't have it too awful, and she would have called if the baby had been inconsolable. Gaba just had to hold M.E. the entire time (bliss for a grandma) and walk and walk and walk and walk... (I sometimes have to march endlessly with her, too, especially when her reflux flares up). Fortunately, M.E. did take the bottle, but she only slowly slurped up two ounces or so. She kept gagging, Gaba reported."I don't think she was really hungry. I think she was just tired," Gaba told me upon our homecoming. Tired, she was. I nursed M.E. for just a few minutes before she went limp against me.It seems this is my first baby who knows (or cares) when Mommy is away. My oldest didn't start the whole separation anxiety thing until much older, and she always was happy with her Gaba. My second is our laid back kiddo, and she's happy in almost anyone's arms. Just goes to show you that children of the same flesh and blood who even look a lot alike can be as similar as salt and sugar when it comes to personality.My husband did try the bottle again, and this time she was happy. Perhaps because she knew Mom was in close quarters. And honestly, I think given my crazy milk supply, my baby can actually control the milk flow from this Avent bottle better than from when it comes rushing out of my breast like Niagara Falls. Likewise, the 11-ounce bottle fits onto my pump, so when my husband and I have "pump and dump" nights, I can offer fresh milk before I imbibe.Also, the bottle is made of honey-colored PES material that provides "extra durability," according to its package. Avent offers five different nipple flow rates. I received the nipple with three holes and, again, considering my breasts spray more streams of milk than I can count, I think M.E. was pr[...]

    GM/BlogHer Ride and Drive Recap


    I’m not a huge car person, although I admit my “Mother Ship” (AKA minivan) is a dream come true. Still, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed an evening out sans the kiddos even if it involved test driving cars.On Tuesday night I attended the General Motors/BlogHer Ride and Drive. I had the opportunity to meet up with other Atlanta area bloggers and talk blogging, cooking, writing fiction versus nonfiction, homeschooling, and share breastfeeding and pregnancy stories. (I found the whole “momraderie” thing to be going on when I was nibbling on delish chocolate cake nodding sympathetically as a fellow mom/blogger talked about her latch-on problems with baby number two and her painful, cracked nipples. Only moms can safely bring up the word "nipples" during cocktail hour.) But before I could gab with the girls, I hit the road in two Saturn models*. First, I slipped into a gray 2009 Saturn AURA XR Sedan with a friendly GM worker as my co-pilot. She told me she had a 2-year-old daughter, so we spent most of the test drive talking about pregnancy nausea, strong-willed toddlers, and pining for sleep. The sedan provided a smooth ride, which I would honestly expect from any new car, but there was nothing extremely memorable about it. To a lady who’d much rather shop for shoes than cars, show me one sedan and I’ve seen them all.However, the VUE hybrid was another a story. This car, which apparently was a test model that hasn’t hit the market yet, felt different – in a good way. When I turned the key in the ignition, I thought the engine was dead for a split second because the car was absolutely silent. “Believe it or not, that’s it. You’re ready to go,” my fellow passenger, another friendly GM worker, from Michigan explained.The radio was off during my test drive and the dearth of noise from tinkering gears and the rumbling vibrations of a running engine that you usually hear while driving impressed me. As I navigated the streets surrounding a hip part of the ATL called Atlantic Station, my passenger explained how the hybrid works. It uses a unique hybrid powertrain system and alternates between different energy forms (gas and electric) depending on whether you’re accelerating, going up or down a hill, reaching a certain speed, etc. This smart technology helps to ensure the car is running at optimal efficiency, which results in excellent gas mileage so you’ll end up spending a lot less time at the pump. Very cool. No matter how green you consider yourself, who wouldn’t like to save on gas?In addition, the car utilizes the latest safety features from Europe since this is where it was engineered. For example, the headrest moves forward in the event of an impact to reduce whiplash, and the brakes break off to prevent foot and leg injuries that people often endure in serious crashes (the airbags prevent upper body injuries, but apparently doctors were seeing a lot of leg injuries after car accidents). Technology never ceases to amaze me.I also liked the fact that I was sitting up higher like I do in my minivan. I drove a sedan for a long time, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back to one. It makes me feel safer to have raised vantage point.As for aesthetics, I liked the look of the hybrid both inside and out. Geez, am I starting to sound like a car junkie or what?The sedan and hybrid were the only two models I test drove before networking with fellow bloggers and noshing on hors d'oeuvres (the crunchy spring rolls hit the spot).I'd been suffering from preggo lethargy and wasn't feeling like making the effort to go out that night, but I’m so glad gave my eyelashes a quick swipe of mascara and headed out to the GM/BlogHer Ride and Drive. It was definitely worth the effort.Read more about the cars and the event at the BlogHer Round-Up page.*Can’t let this post go by without some official mumbo jumbo: Yes, I was enumerated for writing up a review of this Blo[...]

    Momopoly Reopened as a Review Site


    That's right, folks. This is now the sister site of my main blog, and it's a place where I'll share my honest reviews of products (other than media - those reviews will remain over at my other site).

    I'm looking forward to sharing my insight and another project is just what I needed, being that I'm pregnant with my third child and already have two little ones under my care. I was born a Type-Aer. I can't help myself.

    Seriously, my reviews may not be frequent, but I am looking forward to this new venture. As always, I welcome your feedback. Feel free to drop me a comment or to email me at kmwicker[at]gmail[dot].com.

    Momopoly Closed for Business


    What are you doing here? The action's taking place over there.

    Why? It's simple, really. I have two kids under four, a resident for a husband, a freelance writing career of sorts, homeschoolers to teach, and a faith life to cultivate. Do I really need two blogs?

    After much prayer and deliberation, I've come to the conclusion that no, two blogs is one too many. One blog may even be one too many when you happen to give birth to children who think sleep is overrated

    My other blog has more of a regular following, so I've decided to close this one down. However, I shouldn't really say Momopoly is closed for business because I'm keeping the name and most of the content but just moving it over yonder.

    You'll still get me airing my dirty laundry - you know those days when I make poor Britney Spears look like a model mom (and make other moms feel like they're not the only ones who occasionally yell at their kids). You'll still get stories about my milky boobs and sleepless kiddos. You'll still get inspiration from small people sharing unexpectedly big thoughts. But you may also get some pontificating here and there on some Catholic stuff that might make you say, "Uh what?" (No, I don't worship statues or practice cannibalism.) Above all, you'll get one mom's online tale of how, with the grace of God, she has become a mommy who "will work for children" no matter the cost (even if it means never sleeping a full eight hours again...oh, dear God, I hope not...).

    Please, my loyal friends and readers, consider joining me over there by subscribing at If you haven't already, give Google Reader a try. It makes your blog addiction much easier to sustain. Plus, you can easily peruse what you want to read on a particular blog and skip over the rest.

    Thank you for sharing life in the trenches of motherhood with me. I hope you'll continue to trudge along with me.

    Stinky Mom


    I'm a stinky mom. Literally.

    Madeline: Why can't you stay with me for quiet time?

    Me: Because I didn't take a shower this morning.

    Madeline: You don't need a shower.

    Me: Yes, I do.

    Madeline: Why?

    Me: Because I'm stinky. (Of course, I'm only jesting with her. I don't really stink.)

    Madeline: No, you're not.

    Me: Yeah, I am.

    Madeline, as she sniffs my face: Ugh. You are stinky.

    Me, slightly taken aback: Does my breath smell? (Maybe the morning coffee breath is lingering...)

    Madeline: No, it's your skin. It stinks.

    I took a whiff of the skin on my arm and it smelled faintly like fruity lotion, but I can't smell my own face. (I tried.) I can only hope she was just trying to get rid of me. Now for that shower I apparently really need...

    Write What You WANT to Know


    For all you writers out there, here are some more thoughts on the business of writing.

    One of the cardinal rules of writing you’ll discover as soon as start reading some of the popular “how to get published” books is to write what you know.

    Well, call me a rebel, call me what you may, but I definitely haven’t made myself a career in freelancing by always writing about things I know. Honestly, when I started occasional freelance work at the ripe, old age of 21, I wasn’t exactly brimming with worldly wisdom. (Who is?)

    Sure, finding a niche can help. Since joining the Mommy Club, I write a lot of essays about life in the trenches of motherhood. I also frequently write about pregnancy – what to expect and what not to expect. Many of these articles are about things I’ve learned as a parent. But here’s a little secret: I actually started writing about parenting long before anyone ever called me “Mommy.” My journalism career had its roots in a marketing department for a hospital where I covered the parenting beat (among other things) and wrote tons of articles on topics like getting your kids ready for the school year and games to play with your baby.

    I’ve gone back and read some of the articles I wrote in my BC (“before children”) days and I have to say writing about getting your child to sleep through the night is a whole lot easier than actually doing it, especially when you have a child who’s more afraid of Mr. Sandman than the Boogedy Man.

    I supposed I’d be considered more of a parenting/pregnancy “expert” now that I have two kiddos under four living in my house, but I’m definitely not yet an authority on MRI magnets, managing big families, or homeschooling, or factitious disorder – all topics I’ve covered in articles. But just as I knew I always wanted kids and enjoyed learning about child development, I had a desire to learn more about these topics. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t all that pumped about writing an article on the physics of an MRI machine, but the paycheck for that one gave me enough incentive to start reading up on how the interaction between radio frequency electromagnetic fields and hydrogen nuclei inside the body in the presence of a strong magnetic field can create a crisp image. (See? You can sound like you know a little something about almost anything.))
    While it can never hurt to have an area of expertise – from politics to parenting and everything in between – one of the things I love the most about being a writer is you never stop learning. You may eventually find a “home” where you most feel comfortable writing. In my case, I’ve recently started narrowing my focus and sticking to parenting and faith-based writing with an occasional health story sprinkled into the mix. But nothing’s off limits. Anything I’d like to know about might be something worth querying. (Don't discount doing PR work for nonprofits you care about or corporations that do interesting work either. I don't do much PR work these days, but this type of writing used to pay a lot of my bills.)

    The bottom line is if you're inquisitive and a good writer, you can write about virtually anything. Your job is to convince an editor or publisher that this is true.

    So here’s a new writing rule I’d like to toss out there: Write what you want to know.



    (image) Hers: This fish sure has lived a long time.
    Mine: Uh. Yeah, it's been like 16 hours since we welcomed it into our family.

    Hers (showing me a wilted weed):
    Look at this flower. Isn't it beautiful?
    Mine: Well, it's not a rose, but...

    Hers (as she throws open the curtains in our dining area): See! Oh, now we can see the beautiful morning. We can see the birdies. And dragonflies. (Pushing the curtains open further.) See that birdie at the top of that tree? See? Isn't it big? Oh, it's really high. Look how high it is, Mommy! Oh, there's a robin. A robin! See him? (Spontaneously singing made-up tune now.) A robin! La-la-la. A robin! (Spontaneous singing stops.) They're eating their breakfast, too!
    Mine: Okay, how's that for a good morning? Was I just feeling a wee bit tired and grumpy? Not anymore. It is a rather pretty morning. Gotta take this kiddo to see Oklahoma. Then she can belt out "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" during breakfast.

    Hers: Mommy, can we plant dandelions in our garden someday?
    Mine: You don't see the weeds. You only see the beauty. Don't ever change.

    So much of the way we view life is a matter of perspective. Madeline is a born optimist. Her go-to response to almost any question is "Great."

    "How are you doing?"


    "How are you feeling?" as snot drips out of her nose.


    "How's Baby Rae?" who just enjoyed an all-night puke fest.


    "How did you sleep?"

    "Great." She woke up, thrashing from a nightmare, not once, but twice.

    Go ahead and ask me how I feel to be the mom of such an eternal optimist and I'll probably say, "Great!" (And a bit proud, too.)

    Madeline, thank you for your wonderful outlook on life. Thank you for helping me to rediscover the beauty of a dandelion and a summer morning. I love spending time with you and I'm so lucky to be your mom.

    The Par-tee!


    We celebrated Baby Rae's first birthday on Saturday with the grandparents. It was the perfect shindig. The only bummer is the birthday girl came down with a stomach bug that night and Mommy got to see all that cake and corn in a much less appetizing form in the wee hours of the morning. Lucky for you I only took pictures of the original cake, not the encore one.The cake (I can't take credit. Nana and Pop crafted this delicious concoction. I made these simple treats on the day of Rae's actual birthday.)The cake (and corn) eaterThink the hat's big enough?The birthday girl and her big sisThe birthday girl and DaddyThe birthday girl and Mommy (PHOTO CREDIT: Big sister Madeline)Is "Top Model" accepting new contestants? (NOTE: We always take a few "serious" family photos at special occasions and at least one silly photo.Yes, this is the silly one.)[...]

    Happy Father's Day!


    To my own dad and to my girls' Papa, the most generous man I know and the one who gives my babies their first Frito, who can always steal a kiss and make us laugh, the one who works so hard and has never stopped taking care of his little girl...To my other dad, my girls' Pop, the man who has embraced me as his own daughter and gives up hours (days!) of his retirement to play with his grandchildren so Mommy sometimes doesn't have to, the one who fills our freezer with pork tenderloin and tasty treats and fills our hearts with love...And finally, to my husband, the father of my children, the man who is more than a figurehead in our family but a real dad who wrestles, kisses, tickles, tucks kids in, and even sometimes vacuums... Thank you for taking care of your girls. We love you.[...]

    Where's My Mind?


    Is it still in bed? Maybe. Is it here but just a little slow? Definitely.

    Once upon a time I actually got paid to edit others' work. I know, pretty scary, considering all the mental gaffes that find their way into my posts. I had to correct at least a half dozen typos I found in my last post over at my other blog. (Please don't hold it against me, okay?) I swear, I read that post this morning before "publishing" and those typos were not there. It's really kind of starting to freak me out how I'm missing things. Oh, and I don't like the fact that I poured yogurt into the top of the peanut butter jar instead of into a bowl during lunchtime either.

    That's not all. I once almost brushed my teeth with diaper ointment, put a carton of eggs in the pantry, and spelled my own last name wrong on an envelope (Wiker instead of Wicker). I wish I could say these sort of things happened in my pre-mom days, but they just didn’t or at least not all in a 24-hour time span. I know countless mothers who lament that their brain cells exponentially die off as their waistlines widen with pregnancy and that they continue perishing after their babies have arrived. One friend of mine said that on a particularly rough day in the trenches of mommyhood, she actually sat down on a toilet and almost started to pee before realizing she hadn’t pulled down her jeans or even unzipped them.

    But even though diapers and ditsy spells may seem to go hand in hand, I’m vehemently opposed of the notion that motherhood makes us dumber and that raising young children – while society claims it’s very important – is often dull and depraved of intellectual stimulation. For me, the process of teaching and interacting with a young child demands multitasking, acting quick on my feet, and a good dose of creativity. In any given day, I’m part accountant (quickly calculating the estimated cost of the groceries in my cart), part school-teacher (“B is for ball.”), part engineer (erecting a makeshift blockade that will keep a little one from emptying the bookcase for the umpteenth time), part doctor (determining whether symptoms warrant immediate medical care or just some TLC), and part chef (concocting a meal both children will actually eat instead of chucking across the kitchen).

    That said, fussy babies, strong-willed preschoolers, a lack of shuteye and all of the responsibilities that little kids bring can undoubtedly zap their share of brainpower. And it’s easy to feel like I'm losing myself and my mind in a world of baby chatter, board books filled with monosyllabic words and Walt Disney.

    In spite of the increased typo occurrences, the funny things that sometimes come out of my mouth, and my absentmindedness, I know my kids make me smarter (or at least wiser), not dumber.

    I'm wondering, though, what are some things you've done in a tired mommy state? C'mon, spill the beans. (Is that the right expression? I can't be sure.) Make me feel better. While you're at it, do you have any tips on how you boost your cerebral capacity amidst finger paint, talking vegetables, and temper tantrums? I make myself read and write a little every single day. What about you?

    Pit Stop for Peace


    I went to confession recently and my penance was to try to make an occasional stop by the adoration chapel. The priest kindly encouraged me to do little things to nurture my prayer life. “Just pay a quick visit, a few minutes or so, and bring the kids.”

    So last week we made a pit stop for peace in between running errands.

    As I was unbuckling Madeline from her car seat, she asked if she could go in barefoot (she usually takes her shoes off in the car). “No,” I told her.


    “Because this is God’s house.”

    “We can’t see God or Jesus in there.”

    I almost jumped in, assuming she was about to start arguing with me but before I could interrupt her, she went on. “But they’re here in my heart.”

    That was enough to reduce a sappy, overtired mom to tears, but there’s more.

    We quietly shuffled into the chapel. Madeline dipped her hand into the holy water and made a rudimentary Sign of the Cross. I bowed before the Blessed Sacrament with the baby in my arms. I knelt and started praying. Then, out of the blue, Rachel Marie wiggled in my arms and started waving excitedly looking directly at the monstrance where the heavenly host was displayed. “Hiiiiiiiiiii,” she said happily.

    After a brief pause, she gave another shout out to the Lord. "Hiiiiiiiiiii!"

    The chapel was empty except for two women behind us. The only one in front of us in the direction of Rachel Marie's enthusiastic salutation was Christ.

    As my baby waved to Jesus, I thought about what I’d just been saying in my mind – some formal, stiff prayer about needing to be open to his graces and wanting his presence to be more noticeable in my life. When maybe I was completely missing the boat while my kids were setting sail.

    Maybe instead of reciting formal prayers, I should simply try to strike up a conversation with Christ, thank him for all he has done for me, ask him how he’s doing, and better yet, how I’m doing and what I should do to do (be!) better. Maybe I should just say hello to him and wait for him to answer. Maybe I should stop searching for profundity, for the actual feeling of his graces pouring down on me and just know that he’s right there in the Blessed Sacrament. Maybe I should remember that his love is written on my heart and he’s with me even when I can’t feel or see him at all. And maybe I should bring my kids to Adoration more often.

    One of Those Days


    June 6, 2008You know you’re having one of those days when: You wake up at 2 AMish to hear the sound of your husband dry heaving in the bathroom, sick with the virulent virus you thought had miraculously bypassed your house for the first time in three years. After putting a damp washcloth on your dearly pathetic…errr… you mean beloved’s neck and fetching him a glass of water, you crawl back into bed and fall back asleep for about 15 minutes before you hear the sound of a baby crying. (You're not dreaming. That's your baby really crying.) After nursing your baby, you find that the dry heaving has turned into full-blown hurling. You also find your 3-year-old sprawled across your bed. At least she's back asleep and doesn’t seem to notice the fact that her dad sounds like he’s dying from dysentery. You attempt to offer your husband a little comfort and then return to bed and finally stop staring at those blaring red numbers on the alarm clock long enough to drift off to that hazy world that exists between Slumberland and Wide Awake Land (it's not quite sleep, but you'll take it). Meanwhile, two kids' feet are attempting to burrow into your right ear. The baby wakes up an hour before she usually does in the morning. Maybe she’s excited about celebrating her first birthday. Or perhaps she has some bad gas. Or she could have heard those blasted police sirens that seem to wail all nightlong. You swear you live in a relatively safe part of the city. The search helicopter has only shone its light down on your street once. It was kind of cool, really. Like something out of 24. Your coffeemaker goes crazy on you and burns your thumb with an angry puff of steam.Today's high is 90-plus degrees and you’re outside for several hours to participate in your homeschool co-op’s field day. You keep pumping water into your preschooler, but you forget about drinking anything yourself and end up puking all over your baby while she’s nursing. Talk about an unexpected birthday gift. > Your preschooler becomes the second burn victim of the day and has three bubbly, white blisters on her fingers. Note to self: The tips of sparklers are very hot even after they've been extinguished. Speaking of fingers, the baby gets hers stuck in a door hinge for the first time in her 365 days of life and begins to sob. Another nice birthday gift. The baby recovers. You plop her in the bath with her big sis. Baby gives sheepish grin and explodes (as in poops something more nuclear than plutonium). Your preschooler says, "Ewwwww," as you attempt to recover the slippery Baby Ruth from the bathtub. You can't help but think it's payback time for throwing up all over her earlier that same day. Your husband, who looks like he’s been run over by a Mack truck, looks at you when you finally come to bed and says, “What a day. You’re amazing. Thank you for all you do.” And you say, “No. I’d be amazing if I didn’t ever complain about it.” And maybe next time you won’t because you start thinking, it has been one of those days. One of those days when you stumble and puke on your baby, and there’s instantly a throng of women standing by to hold your kids, to hand you a glass of water, and to tell you to take it easy for at least a few minutes. One of those days when several loved ones call to wish your little one a happy birthday. One of those days when your 3-year-old looks at you with a concerned face and says, “Don’t worry, Mommy. You’re just hot. You’re not sick like Daddy.” And thank goodness you're not.One of those days when your sick, sick husband drags himself out of bed so you can sing [...]



    Golden (Born ???-died June 5, 2008). Beloved friend to Madeline. Preceded in death by Birdy. Golden began his life in an overcrowded tank at the Pet Supermarket. He watched many of his family members leave their watery sanctuary and bravely awaited the day when he too would bid farewell to the only home he'd ever known. That day came on June 3, 2008 when a smiling 3-year-old named Madeline chose him, along with Birdy who was an older, distant cousin, to be her new pets. Golden loved his new home and seemed the picture of health even when Birdy was in his final hours. Unfortunately, after Birdy, who was more than a tank mate but also a faithful friend, passed on, Golden took a turn for the worse and died only two days later. Golden is survived by Birdy II who seems to be faring well despite the rather bleak track record for the tank of the Wicker household. Some have to make a lot of noise to be heard, but since goldfish can't talk or bark or do much of anything but eat, poop, and die, Golden was heard by his sheer, glittery gold presence. He will be remembered. Golden was laid to rest somewhere in a septic tank. RIP.

    Golden, you brought our girls much happiness.

    You've Come A Long Way, Baby!


    Happy birthday, Baby Rae! When you were born, I decided I would sing "You Are My Sunshine" to you each night. (Madeline has her own special song that I sing to her at bedtime as well.) Little did I know that you would embrace this as your theme song. You truly are our little "Rae" of sunshine. Thank you for bringing me so much happiness over the past year with your endless giggles, your bright smile, your easy-going disposition, and your frequent squeals of delight. I love you and can't wait to watch you continue to grow.

    Four days old


    One month

    Three months

    Six months

    Nine months

    One year

    Ode to a Goldfish


    Oh, Birdy, your life was but a brief breath in a tank.
    All too quickly you went belly up and sank.
    When I tried to get you out with a net
    Your lifeless body played hard to get.

    My Madeline, who named you well,
    ("My fish are Birdy and Golden," she did tell.)
    Was so excited about the first pet she could call her own.
    But you lasted not even one day in your new home.

    Now there's but one goldfish swimming in the blue
    And one sweet, little girl who's sorely missing you.
    We said a prayer and gave a heartfelt good-bye
    And girl and Mommy, too, did their best not to cry.

    Then we called Daddy up on the phone
    And asked, "Will you please on the way home?
    Stop by the pet store so this day we will no longer rue
    And get another fishy friend whom Maddy'd like to call Birdy Two?"

    Because a goldfish may be just a simple wet pet
    That requires no love and no service from a vet.
    But to a child, even a fish is something not to ever take for granted at all
    Because as she's said before, God is everywhere - in the big and in the small.

    To the Newlyweds...


    Congratulations, Rachel and Hendre! We wish we could have been in Greece to eat lots of feta and to celebrate with you. We hope you enjoy married life as much as we have.

    Now that you've tied the knot, Dave and I will be waiting for you to submit an application for “Old, Married Fart Club” membership once you have met some of the following prerequisites:

    1. You have a mortgage.
    2. You reproduce.
    3. You purchase your dream car (AKA a minivan).
    4. Your idea of “adventure” consists of a trip to the grocery store with a nursing baby and a preschooler. It's crazy fun, let me tell you.
    5. Your idea of a “hot date” is an evening of wine-sipping and making it through an entire Netflix selection without one of your children waking up.
    6. You’ve learned a thing or two about unconditional love and to not sweat the small stuff – like the fact that your husband leaves piles of scrubs all over the home (your “small stuff” will undoubtedly be different since I hear that Hendre is a neat freak) – and to love him unconditionally because you know that there’s no one out there who’d make you happier. And amazingly, you find your husband loves you unconditionally, too, despite the fact that you are a total Type A freak who can make Monk look laid back. (I’m referring to me, not you.)
    7. You find yourself thinking, “Oh my gosh! We’ve been married sooooo long!” and “Oh my gosh! It seems like just yesterday that we were planning our wedding!” at the exact same time.

    We love you guys! Here's to many, many, many happy years together!

    Next Up: Jeopardy!


    During a recent round of animal trivia:

    Madeline: How do cats pee in a box?

    Mommy: They walk into the box and start to pee.

    Madeline: Yup! You're right! You get a point.

    First Love


    I’ve been in kind of a horse crazy stupor lately. Madeline and I recently paid a visit to the mounted police headquarters with our homeschool group where we both delighted in feeding carrots to massive, beautiful Percheron-Thoroughbred crosses. Madeline giggled when their velvety muzzles tickled the palm of her hand as she offered them carrots. My fearless little girl approached one of the beautiful beasts and I found myself holding my breath, despite my horse history, as I watched her small hand pat a muscled neck.The sweet smell of hay mingled with manure (yes, I love that smell; that’s how you know I’m a horse person) were almost too much for me. Standing in that damp stable surrounded by the familiar smells, I was gripped by a consuming nostalgia. When the officer leading our tour mentioned they had a horse for sale – a reject of the training program but a wonderful animal that would make “a fine show horse” (his words) – I had to remind myself of the million reasons why riding now just doesn’t make sense. We’re on a tight budget. We live in a city for goodness’ sake. And it’s not like I need something else – an all-consuming hobby, no less – in my life. I already have way too many interests as it is (exercising, reading, writing, theatre, blogging, journaling, singing, reading food mags and trying out new recipes, emailing and writing old-fashioned letters, to name a few).Still, I can’t stop the obsession from taking a hold of me. And it is an obsession. Once you fall in love with the beauty of a horse and feeling the rhythm of its powerful body thunder beneath you, there’s no turning back. So I’ve been sharing stories of my riding days with Madeline, who appears to be a bit horse crazy herself. (It will be interesting to see if this is just a passing phase - any number of girls love horses at some point – or an unrelenting fixation as it was in my case.)I’ve been flipping through my old photo albums, looking at pictures of my first love – Sunny, my beloved Quarter horse – through teary eyes. One of my favorite photos of us is tucked away in a junk drawer that holds numerous snips of sentiment, everything but junk. I can’t stop stealing glances at it - a tattered photo of a gawky 14-year-old proudly holding a prize ribbon up for the photographer (my dad, I think) and broadly smiling despite a mouth full of braces. Although it’s been years since I’ve ridden a horse, horses were at the center of my childhood. While other little girls were playing Barbie, I was painting red and white stripes on chopsticks transforming them into jumping poles to create an elaborate course for my Breyer horse models to maneuver. I had horse t-shirts, horse stuffed animals and horse books. I think I even had panties imprinted with galloping steeds. I took the label “horse crazy” to an extreme.For me, the love of horses was not just about the riding. It was about the overall care of a horse – the brushing of coats, the meticulous cleaning of hooves and the braiding manes and tails. Long before I’d even begun to think about motherhood, I had something to take care of, a living creature to look after. As a highly imaginative child, I was also drawn to horses’ mystic, almost magical quality. When I was still too young to even spell the word “horse,” I remember seeing a pony with a coat like the copper of a penny at a small fair. While others stopped only momentarily to watch it swish away buzzi[...]

    When All Else Fails


    ...and your preschooler refuses to drift off to the Land of Nod, try spending a weekend at Gaba and Papa's lake house where she can swim and cover more distance than Marlin searching for Nemo.

    With any luck, as soon as you hit the highway, she'll be gone.

    Inside Out


    What you see isn't always what you get.Take a loved one who recently had a heart attack. When we heard the news on Wednesday that she was in the hospital after having suffered a heart attack, we were shocked. This is someone who is the picture of health - a spry, fit woman who walks daily even during Maine winters. She's not someone you'd ever describe as "faint of heart." I couldn't imagine her in a hospital bed surrounded by a maze of medical tubes. But she was there. I know because Dave saw her. He's been by her side all weekend and is flying back this evening. He wanted to be with her since a lot of his family is in Greece right now gearing up for his sister's own version of a big, fat Greek wedding. (We're not able to go for various reasons, namely because traveling to a remote, Grecian fishing village with two kids under 4 is best reserved for masochists or maybe Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt).Our family member was lucky because the damage was not extensive enough to require surgery, so she left the hospital today. When Dave said good-bye, she was resting in her bed with her beloved dog curled beside her. She has strict orders to take it easy for the next week. After that the doctors said she has to figure out how to reduce stress in her life.This is easier said than done. Especially for a Type Aer like this family member. She admitted to Dave that she does too much. When someone asks her to help out with a bake sale, for example, she doesn't just make a batch of token cookies, she whips up an assortment of made-from-scratch treats that make Martha Stewart look like an amateur. She tries to be everything to everyone."Sound familiar?" Dave asked.Hmmm...Maybe just a little. In fact, when I first met this family member while Dave and I were still dating, I immediately clicked with her and thought, "Oh, wow! She's one of my kind!" Besides sharing my love for reading and writing, she was a planner. She was punctual. Oh, and the OCD in me absolutely loved the way she organized her home library by author. But for her being one of "our kind" had its drawbacks. When you're used to being generous and efficient, going 100 mph all day, every day, something's gotta give and in her case it was her heart.Of course, I doubt anyone would have suspected she was stressed. Maybe her husband. Maybe a really close friend. I certainly didn't think of her as someone who seemed stress. Not by the way her witty emails always sounded. Not by the way she laughed freely. Heck, she's the one who told me I should do a few yoga stretches every night to unwind. This got me thinking about the way others come off to me as well as the way I'm perceived by others. I immediately thought of a friend of mine who is the most beautiful (inside and out), faithful woman; yet, she's crippled by shyness. In fact, when I first met her, I thought she was extremely full of herself and that was why she couldn't stand to talk to me. It wasn't until several months later when we started chatting after Mass that she confessed to me that her intense anxiety around other people made it very difficult for her to meet friends. I couldn't believe this. Why would she have any problems making friends? She was smart, lovely, and funny. It just didn't make sense to me that she was afraid to put herself out there.Even now that we live far away from one another, I'll find myself wondering, "Why hasn't she called me back? Why can't she[...]