Happy Halloween!

William chose the theme and assigned the roles. Originally I was supposed to be Jessie and Matt was supposed to be Buzz Lightyear, but you can't buy those costumes in adult sizes and I'm not the homemade costume kind... So, I found Mr. & Mr. Potato Head, which we realized later only contained one potato. The trash bag works though, right?


My 3 Year Old Will Not Stay In Bed

Bedtime has continued to be trying around here. W refuses to stay in bed. We put him to sleep and he gets up and starts opening and slamming his door and then wanders out to find us. No amount of negotiating, crying it out, or ignoring him works. Ultimately, it takes one of us to go lay with him in bed until he falls asleep and we can quietly climb out.

Usually this ends up being Matt since I'm dealing with getting B fed and ready for bed. Some nights I put down B and then trade with Matt. So, the deal is: One of us falls asleep with W and the other cleans everything up and then wakes the sleeping parent up and it's time for bed or B has woken up. This gives us no time to get anything done (the best example would be this here blog) or spend any time with each other.

It's frustrating. Parents crave their down time after the kids go to sleep. And we're not getting any. It's easy to focus on how much this sucks, but I realized last week that in a way it's really very special...

This extra time we get laying in bed with W, cuddling and whispering to each other, is something we'll never get back. With both of us working full time, it seems that every minute of our days are scheduled and we have trouble just being with W. We rush and rush and rush, focused on all of the next things we have to do. But laying in bed with W gives us time to just focus on him. It allows us to connect in a totally different way. He asks amazing questions and processes his day in those moments. And we're there with him.

When you're in the thick of parenting, it's hard to keep all of this in perspective. The hours we're losing for ourselves are precious hours we're gaining with W. It's not ideal and every parenting book will tell you not to do what we're doing, but I'd rather pay for it later. Time moves fast. These kids are growing up and I feel like, even though they're still babies, I'm grasping at any opportunity I have to hang onto this time and squeeze everything I possibly can from it.

Emails aren't being answered as often, we've missed our favorite tv shows, my blog posts haven't been as regular, but there will be time for all that. Now it's time for go switch places with Matt.


Carrying Baggage

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read Lost Edens by Jamie Patterson. This post was inspired by the book. 

In the book Lost Edens, we experience a play by play of the end of a relationship due to infidelity, abuse, and mental health issues. The themes in this book weren't new to me. I've volunteered and worked for a domestic violence organization. I've had my fair share of friends in unhealthy, sometimes abusive relationships. I've known many people battling mental health issues. And I've been the person encouraging someone close to me to end a destructive relationship more times than I can count. But none of that is what this post is about.

Relationships are often messy. They can be painful. We don't always bring out our best when with our partner. We all have played a role in past relationships that we're not proud of... Right?

So, what about when you're the toxic one? Because I have been. I dated someone for a very long time, years longer than I should have. I knew I had the upper hand. I knew he needed me more than I needed him. I knew I could do whatever I wanted. So, I did. I wasn't very good to him all the time. He didn't bring out the best in me and I certainly didn't give it to him.

I made many attempts to break up with him, but they never stuck. He would beg me to stay with him and reconsider, promise that things would work out in the end, and time after time I took the easy way out. I wasn't doing the right thing, but there was a part of me that liked the security of having someone and knowing that I wasn't alone. My attempts at breaking up would continue over the years and with each one I gained more control, distanced myself more, and pushed every boundary I could. Finally, I was in a relationship that looked fine on paper, but wasn't really a relationship at all.

I just hope that when he looks back on our time together, he doesn't focus on the end instead of the beginning. I feel awful that what started as young, foolish love ended in a dramatic parting of ways. I regret that I wasn't a better person. I see the ways that I took advantage of the situation. And I feel bad for both of us and the people we both dated after our story together was over. Sure, we were young, but we taught each other how to be in a relationship and - in this case - a dysfunctional relationship.

Past relationships - the baggage we bring from them, the way we're treated or learn to treat the other person - impact our future relationships. And that would be true in this case. No matter how far we go or how much we grow or what amount of therapy we get, we still carry our past relationships with us. 

I wish I could say that retrospect has taught me to be a better, more gracious partner so I never have to look back and wish I might have acted differently or treated someone better... I'm still hard on my partner. I'm often self-centered. The difference now is that I've found someone who challenges me, puts his foot down, and pulls me back when I've taken a step too far. I'm still not the ideal partner, but I've found someone who balances me.

In the end, I know I've grown and learned from my past relationships, but more importantly, I'm with the right person now. I only hope that he is, too.

In Lost Edens, author Jamie Patterson struggles to save her marriage which may or may not be already over. Keeping her attempts a secret from her family, she attempts to mold herself into the wife her husband wants her to be. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. You can read other members posts inspired by Lost Edens by Jamie Patterson on book club day, October 27 at From Left to Write.


Attune Foods Give Away

I like to feel good about what I eat and feed my little guys. The more I learn about what is going into our food, the more determined I am to make good decisions, so I appreciate companies that deliver good organic options, like Attune.

I try to buy organic as much as possible. My goal is that 80% of everything we eat is organic. It isn't that hard and it's more expensive, but I like knowing that our food is as pure as possible. If I can't actually make it myself, the fewer ingredients and chemicals I can't pronounce, the better.

I really like trying different options for organic snacks, so was happy to try some Attune products for the family. They have a few different product lines and I tried options that I thought were good fits for us:

Uncle Sam Multi-Grain Cereal: If you like really healthy tasting cereals, you'll love this cereal. It's full of fiber and hearty. I especially enjoyed it in yogurt or mixed with another cereal. It is a little hard to eat on its own with milk. I also think it would be a good addition to homemade granola. I didn't attempt to give this to W, because I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be into it. This is definitely more of a mom cereal.

New Morning Cinnamon Graham Crackers: These taste like a less sweet version of the graham crackers that we're all used to, which I liked. There is a really nice, strong cinnamon flavor, but they don't necessarily hold their crispness when enjoying with coffee in this morning. W actually really liked these and I handed them to a couple of other kids who were used to regular graham crackers and they didn't seem to notice a difference.

Erehwon Crispy Brown Rice with Mixed Berries Cereal: This is great cereal. It works on its own with milk, but can also be mixed with another cereal (like the Uncle Sam's) and stays pretty crispy. I especially enjoyed the berries and the larger sized crisped rice. I didn't get a chance to give it a try, but I think I could have made some pretty awesome rice krispie treats with this cereal.

Attune Chocolate Probiotic Bars: I tried the Milk Chocolate Crisp Probiotic Bar and the Mint Chocolate Probiotic Bar. (All in the name of research, right????) Chocolate with probiotics... Enough said. But, seriously, these were really, really good. Nice flavor. Super tasty. Very crispy. Healthy chocolate (yay!).

All in all, I think they have a lot of great products for my tastes. I like things that taste healthy. Don't you?

So, here's your opportunity to give Attune products a try! I'm excited to hold a giveaway for your choice of five Attune Foods products. TWO WINNERS will be chosen!

Here's how you can enter the Attune Foods Giveaway:

1. Comment on this post about which product you'd like to try. Be sure to include an email address if it doesn't connect back to your blog. (You must comment to be entered!)

2. Follow Hannemaniacs. (Look on the right side bar to follow.)

3. Like the newly-created Hannemaniacs Facebook page.

4. Follow Hannemaniacs on Twitter.

5. Mention this giveaway to your network on Facebook and/or Twitter (one entry for each) by pasting this in your status: Enter to win Attune organic food products at www.hannemaniacs.com. (please let me know in your comment that you have done these!)

So, that's SIX possible entries per person. Contest ends at 9 am Wednesday, November 2nd. Enter now!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! The winners were chosen by using RANDOM.ORG and are... Kari and Rita from Look It's Megryansmom. Please contact me with your address and the package will be sent to you! (If I don't hear from the winner by Friday at 9 am a new winner will be chosen.)

Thanks for everyone for participating!
Disclosure: I received five complimentary Attune food products to review. All opinions are my own.


Sleep Patterns Impact Everything

The last two months have been tremendous when it comes to bed time around here. Both kids have been total champs about going down easy and staying asleep... Until last week when things started to unravel. Not fair to do to parents who have gotten used to a full night's sleep for a while.

W is now refusing to fall asleep unless one of us lays in bed with him and - if we don't - has a new habit of letting himself out of his room. B broke his normal habit of sleeping through the night with waking for a 3:00 am feeding and then it became a 20 minute cycle of feeding, putting down, crying, cuddling, putting down, crying, and on and on. (And Matt was out of town last weekend, which meant little to no sleep for mom and Nana had to come over to help with bedtime.)

I know kids have phases and sleep patterns that will change many times. But, once you get into a routine, you depend on it. Every detail impacts the next. For example, Matt couldn't take Howie for a walk this morning, because he opened the bathroom door after his shower and found W standing there with his blanket ready to start the day at 5:30, rather than his normal 6:00. Normally, I get into the shower at 5:30 and W wakes up as Matt gets home from his walk. But, I didn't get up on time, because I was a train wreck, having slept holding a baby off and on through the night.

That all translated into me pulling up to the train station as the gates went down and then my mom driving to a different station to catch the next train with Howie rolling around in the back of her car along with some hand weights and W constantly asking WHERE we were going, WHY we were going that way, and insisting he didn't like it. I ran for the train, caught it, but then was getting in the city five minutes later, which meant I didn't have time to stop for coffee. And now I'm still tired. See where I'm going with this?

Parenting is all about flexibility, rolling with the punches, and handling what life throws at you, but dammit, it's also about a schedule... If only the munchkins in this house would respect that.

Advice: Don't ever get too comfortable or reliant on a schedule, because you never know what next week will bring.


What Do You Say to a Stranger? NO WAY! Unless They Have Toys...

At W's three year appointment our pediatrician mentioned that we should start talking to him about stranger safety. He recommended a book and video we could find at our local library that would be helpful. But, in my normal way, I decided to wing it the other day. We were sitting and coloring and I figured no better time than the present, right?

We were talking about going out for dinner that night and W wanted to go to a particular sushi place that makes me uncomfortable. The reason it makes me uncomfortable is a whole other post of its own, but let's just say the woman who owns the place does not have boundaries with babies and I had to wrestle B from her. I mentioned it to Matt on the phone, saying something along the lines of, "If that lady tries to take B outside again (Note: Oh, yes, she did.), I'm not going to be as nice. I want to go there, but I don't want her taking him." We agreed to still go to the restaurant, but be more stern if the baby grabbing started again. And I hung up and looked at W.

W: "I don't want that mean lady to take B ever, ever again!"

Me: "Well, she's not mean, but she just wanted to hold him and show him to some of her friends."

W: "I don't love her!"

Me: "You don't have to love her, but you do have to be nice. But, if she takes B you can tell her NO." (Yes, I was ABSOLUTELY planting this seed in hopes he would help me out.)

W: "But, she's a mean lady. Will she take me?"

Me: "No.... But, if someone does try to take you, what do you say?"

W: Blank stare.

Me: "You know, if someone says, 'Little boy, come with me, I have some candy...' What do you say?"

W: Blank stare.

Me: "You say, 'No, I don't know you!;"

W: "No way! Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!"

Me: "OK, so if someone says, 'Little boy, I have candy for you. Come with me.' What do you say?"

W: "No way!"

Me: "'Little boy, I have stickers for you....' What do you say?"

W: "No way!"

Me: "Little boy, I have toys for you. Come with me."

W: Long pause. "Well, I would go get the toys, because then I would have more and more and more toys and then I'd have all the toys in the world."

OK, so we may need a little work on the whole stranger danger thing. Apparently personal safety takes a back seat to toys.


Huggies Little Movers Slip-On Diapers Giveaway

I'm up to my eyeballs in diapers. They're a constant theme when you have a three year old and a four month old. (Yes, we have a three year old in diapers, which is not what I was hoping to have at this point. W was interested in potty training for a few weeks, but changed his mind.) So, we're not only spending plenty of money on diapers, but plenty of time changing them. While changing diapers is a pretty simple thing in general, it's a pain. And I'm always looking for ways we can make it easier and/or faster.

Enter Huggies Little Movers Slip-On diapers. Truthfully, I've always been a fan of Huggies, so I was excited to try their newest product. I'm a good tester considering I have the infant and the toddler angle. So, did they work for both boys? Yes.

The best part of these diapers is that you don't have to hold down a squirming kid to get his diaper on. People totally underestimate the strength of a fussy baby or strong-willed toddler. It's no joke. Sure, you still have to lift them and scoot the diaper up a bit, but it's a faster diaper all around and you'll have less of a fight to get them on in the end.

Plus, they seem to fit more comfortably. I always feel bad for kids with diapers tightly cutting in under their belly, but this doesn't happen with the Slip-Ons. They fit higher and don't have to be pulled tightly to stay on, so don't cut in like regular diapers. They just seem to give the kid more breathing room and better coverage.

So, what's the difference between these Slip-Ons and Pull-Ups? That was the first thing I asked myself when I heard about them... And there is a considerable difference: Slip-Ons have tabs on the sides that are a lot like regular diapers and can be opened and closed. Slip-Ons are also thicker and are like a real diaper. (It's like pulling together the best of diapers and Pull-Ups.)

I didn't have any issues with leaking, but I did have an issue with them falling down on W once he'd been wearing them for a while. He's gotten really skinny lately, which means most things hang off of him. And he hates having his diapers changed, so we really stretch time between diapers for him these days. (So, it was more of a case of them being WEIGHED down.) All in all, I am really happy with these and I think you will be too... And now's your chance to win some!

I'm thrilled to offer my readers the opportunity to participate in a giveaway for a Huggies Little Movers Slip-On Diapers Prize Package, plus a $25 gift card that can be used at Jewel-Osco®, Albertsons®, Cub®, Farm Fresh®, SHOP ‘n SAVE®, Shoppers®, Hornbacher’s ®, Lucky® and Shaw’s®.

Here's how you can enter the Huggies Little Movers Slip-Ons Giveaway:

1. Comment on this post about how many diapers you think you've changed in your life. Be sure to include an email address if it doesn't connect back to your blog. (You must comment to be entered!)

2. Follow Hannemaniacs. (Look on the right side bar to follow.)

3. Like the newly-created Hannemaniacs Facebook page.

4. Follow Hannemaniacs on Twitter.

5. Mention this giveaway to your network on Facebook and/or Twitter (one entry for each) by pasting this in your status: Enter to win a Huggies Little Movers Slip-Ons Prize Package and a $25 gift card at www.hannemaniacs.com. (please let me know in your comment that you have done these!)

So, that's SIX possible entries per person. Contest ends at 9 am Wednesday, October 19th. Enter now!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! The winner was chosen by using RANDOM.ORG and is... Lisa Noel! Please contact me with your address and the package will be sent to you! (If I don't hear from the winner by Friday at 9 am a new winner will be chosen.)

Thanks for everyone for participating. Look for another giveaway up soon!
Disclosure: I received two complimentary packages of Huggies Slip-Ons and a gift card (which I actually used on more Slip-Ons). All opinions are my own.


What is a Crescent Moon?

Last night we went for a walk and I realized there is something I am totally clueless about... Science and astronomy.

William: "Look at the moon!"

Me: "Yup. That's a crescent moon."

William: "What is a crescent moon?"

Me: "Ummm...."

We continue to walk. I try to remember everything I can about science.

Matt: "Actually, buddy, it's the shadow of the Earth that makes it look like that."

Me: "Wait, is that for real?"

Matt: "Yes. Tell me you knew that."

Me: "Nope. I thought it was due to cloud cover."

True story. And I'm ok with it.


One Day I'll Be A Reader Again

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read Carry Yourself Back To Me by Deborah Reed. This post was inspired by the book.

I love reading. It has always been one of my favorite things to do. Nothing is quite as satisfying as a really incredible book... the kind you have trouble putting down and grab at any chance you get. I don't read nearly as much as I used or as I'd like to. It's dropped way down on my priority list and has become something that I do on my train commute three days a week.

One of the things that you don't really prepare yourself for when having children is the loss of your ability to just read really good books. You don't have time for reading the same way and when you do... Well, you might just find yourself nodding off (at least you will if you're me). And then there's those parenting books that you feel like you should be reading instead. Books on sleep training, feeding, and behavior. Books that you don't even buy for yourself, but find stacked on your bedside table. Books you promise yourself you'll get to... One day. (For the record, I still haven't gotten to these.)

I constantly worry about how fast this time with the boys is going to go. I so want to be present right now and enjoy every minute, but there is this tiny little piece of me that looks forward to a time when I can read again. It's hard to think that there will ever be a time when I can spend two hours lost in a good book.

So, why am I telling you this? Because I just read a book that grabbed me in that way and forced me to find the time. There was something that connected with me on a really great level. The writing was wonderful. The characters were real. And the book just made me feel warm and cozy. It sucked me in and I liked being there for a week.

It made me think of how many other great books I've been waiting to read, so many books I can't get to right now. I know I'll get to them eventually and the time away from feeling like a reader is well worth it. Until then I'm keeping a list of all the books I'll read one day when my little ones are not so little. And, when I have the time, I'm sure I'll be wishing I didn't.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Carry Yourself Back To Me. To see how others were inspired by this book, visit From Left to Write.