Friday, May 29, 2009

Mom reward: Badge of honor

I must have been a good mom, because my son gave me this:



Slapped it right on me.

A coveted glittery Thomas the Tank Engine sticker! Be still, my heart!

Call me a loon, but when it was time for me to go to bed, I transferred my reward to my PJs. Hey, it's not every day that a mom gets recognition....

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Companies make buying craptastic

Consumer advocates seem to love to point out that moms are a big influence on how a family spends their money. Many marketers acknowledge this too. This isn't news -- but many companies still aren't paying attention.

Do they really think moms will think it's OK for the Little Einsteins boys to be able to stand up, but not the girls?



Moms were girls once, after all.

And while we're talking about characters who can't sing on key even though their specialty is supposed to be singing, why do companies think it's OK for toys that play music to feature children who just can't sing? Their grandpa must be the CEO of VTech.



Moms have to listen to this eleventy million times, you know. Our poor ears. Our poor, bleeding ears.

There are lots of toys I could rant about, especially the ones that break within the first hour of play or the ones that are impossible to assemble without an engineering degree or passable translation skills.

But it's not just toys.

It's how parents can spend almost $3 for a box of Gerber Graduates Fruit Twists and get only this:



It's how the manager of our local Best Buy canceled our order for a dishwasher last month without telling us. (Our old one broke down. I know hand washing the dishes is better for the environment -- which I did for a month, thanks to Best Buy. Guess I just became addicted to having the machine do it for me. Don't hate on me, though, because the new one is easy on water and electricity.)

It's how Sony refused to repair our fifth Cybershot digital camera a little more than a year after we bought it. The warranty had just barely expired. We reminded the company we've purchased five of these little guys in six years -- not a good track record for their camera, but a faithful foolish track record of ours. We have a new baby coming! We need a camera! Sony wasn't sympathetic.



I think I'll just go back to 35mm film until I can afford a digital SLR.

Maybe it's just me, but you would think because we're in a recession, companies would be trying harder to win your business and keep you as a customer.

Instead, we get the employee who doesn't know where anything is in the store. The rude newspaper "courtesy call" marketer insisting your bill is overdue even though you paid for a year in advance. (How many in the downtrodden newspaper business dream of having subscribers like us who pay for a year at a time?!) Fewer items in stock. Longer checkout lines.

It's not just large corporations, either. I walked into an independently run baby store last night, quite obviously pregnant, and none of the five employees who passed me offered to help me find anything in the store or asked if I needed help. To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when she went back to the Rodeo Drive shops that shunned her, "Big mistake. Huge. I have to go shopping now...."

With customer service like this, who really wants to buy anything?

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do you speak dog?


No dogs allowed on this beach

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Monday, May 25, 2009

So how was your Memorial Day?

video

We had a monsoon. With hail.

It's also about the ninth day straight it has rained.

Welcome to the rainy season, aka summer.

Rejected Florida tourism ad campaign slogan: "If you think this is bad, come see us in a hurricane!"

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Voyeurs



Some of you might remember the frog hanging around outside our window. And the extremely bad photo I took of it.

Amphibians and reptiles must have some kind of social network (Leaper? Scalebook? SkinSpace?), because frogs aren't the only ones trying to check us out, like this basilisk lizard.

Who knew they were all just a bunch of peeping toms?

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Say Click! Take a pic! Let's Go Outside

My son is a big fan of Diego. Thanks to this Nick Jr. show about a boy who rescues wildlife, the Man-cub doesn't just look at a hose and call it a snake -- it's an anaconda! When our grass gets too tall, he runs through it -- like a tapir! Because of Diego, my son thinks iguanas sing and poop strawberries. (I wish they were that delightful.) I didn't know anything about these animals when I was 10, let alone two and a half. The Man-cub also calls all cameras Click, like the camera on the show who is a character in her own right. Click can zoom to find an animal in trouble and identify what it is so Diego can rescue it. Every chance he gets, my boy snatches one of our digital cameras to take a picture of his thumb, his nose or the floor. It's a start.

This weekend (Memorial Day weekend) or next, I hope to have the energy to get outdoors exploring with the Man-cub and taking pictures for Let's Go Outside. It's a plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to collect 10,000 photos of families having fun outdoors this summer. The pictures will then be turned into a photomosaic of a nature scene and made into a poster.

Sounds like if you submit a picture, it will be in the photomosaic. (They probably don't want one of my son's nose or thumb photos, though.) You'll be able to see the photomosaic being built on the Let's Go Outside site as the summer progresses and see your photo.

Besides submitting your photo at the site, there you can also find a national wildlife refuge near you, find nature-related events and get nature/wildlife photography tips.

And if we do get outside and use our camera zoom to find an animal in need of rescue, that will just be a huge bonus for the Man-cub. Probably not for the animal.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hollywood Beach


Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"You are soooo beach chic"

My town's convention and visitors' bureau (aka tourism board) had a slick booklet in the newspaper this weekend with the enticement to take a quiz to find out my beach personality.

Having spent my teen years wasting time reading teen-girl magazines (and a couple mags I probably wasn't supposed to be old enough to read), it's hard for me to resist a quiz. So I checked it out.

They told me:



"You go to the beach to see and be seen. And you're easy to spot; you'll be the one in the stylish beachwear listening to a sizzling summer playlist on your mp3 player, or dining nearby with your pals in a chic, sarong-friendly restaurant. Clearly, Fort Lauderdale is your perfect fit, with shopping and dining, the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District and the eclectic charm of Las Olas Boulevard."

Um, yeah. I totally go to the beach in a gold bikini. And carry a metal detector. I dip my perfectly pedicured toes into the surf just to say I did, I never huff and puff carrying my beach umbrella from the metered parking, and I would never dream of being seen with a Finding Nemo bag full of swim diapers and water toys that have sand permanently stuck to them. And if I can sneak into a resort on the beach to get a cute waiter to bring me a frou-frou drink with an umbrella in it, so much the better.

So I took the quiz again, changed a few answers I waffled on, and came up with:



Ah well. If that's what my neighbors and peers are telling me, maybe I should just go with it? Kinda makes me want to come up with my own quiz, though.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekend getaway lessons learned

1. A parking attendant might tell you the place you have to park is closer to the entrance, but it will be a lie. And he will charge you $12 for it.

2. If it looks like fun, it probably is. Half of which a pregnant woman isn't allowed to do.



3. What you can do -- with a life vest -- will make you look like a dork because the extra-large life vest will fit your middle but nowhere else:



4. Don't ask your husband if you look like a Grade A dork or just a small dork while wearing a sun hat. He will evade the question and then not point out the hat isn't sitting all the way down on your head, creating a large bubble on top. So naturally, you look like a Grade A dork.

(Photo unfortunately not available.)

5. Don't walk in front of children playing with water spray guns. They don't care that you are an adult. Who is dry. And pregnant. They show no mercy.

6. It's hard to get a toddler to stop watching dolphins, especially when they're swimming upside-down.



7. Twelve bucks for parking?! Seriously?

8. Take advantage of all the fun you can, while you can.



9. Whatever they pay people who clean public restrooms, it can't possibly be enough.

10. They really should charge less than $12 for parking when you have to walk a quarter-mile to get to your car at the end of the day!

We went to Aquatica in Orlando this weekend and had a blast there! You know how I love water parks. This one is excellent. There are two water playgrounds for kids, a wave pool with a huge beach area, a lazy river, a rapids river, loads of water slides that I couldn't go on and even a few animals to see. I was told it was smaller than the Disney water parks, but it didn't feel small to me at all. We just really and truly had a fun time. Too bad we had to come home....

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Flatwater kayaking



Because toddlers make you use your imagination.

Because we never got that unsexy hole in the water.

Because sometimes you don't feel like getting wet.

Because it floats, after all.

Because ... just because.

Any other ideas?

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meet the artist


Snakes, fingerpaint on fingerpaint paper


Untitled, fingerpaint on construction paper


Footprints, fingerpaint on fingerpaint paper

It's hard to believe, but my son created all these masterpieces in one afternoon. He even named them. (Well, two of them.)

The Man-cub is intrigued by painting. I don't do a lot of crafts with him because I have this general feeling he can't yet, or doesn't want to, do that stuff. I'd say he's more of a gross-motor-skills kinda guy. But I want him to be comfortable -- no, happy -- creating things, because I want him to grow up thinking of himself as creative.

So I hope he doesn't mind I'm blogging about his art for the We Heart Art carnival. As the bloggers there pointed out, "Pablo Picasso once wrote that 'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.'"

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lifeguard stand



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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Natural cosmetics: Mineral makeup kit giveaway

You know I love the Whole Foods podcasts. Well this month, they are talking about natural cosmetics, and they are giving away Mineral Fusion makeup kits worth $90! You might win one.

Ever since I found out a couple years ago that many cosmetics and even everyday toiletries like shampoo and body lotion contain chemicals that can cause cancer or affect your hormones, I started checking the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database of health and beauty products. It helps me feel better about what I put on my skin.

It turns out that Whole Foods carries some of the safer products on the Skin Deep lists. The Whole Foods podcast covers what to look for and what to avoid when shopping for natural cosmetics.

For the giveaway, Whole Foods offers one of two makeup kits.

The Innocent Peach kit includes:
• Blush in flashy
• Lip Gloss in dazzle
• Eye Shadow in prism
• Blotting Papers
• DVD: Tips and Techniques

The Delicate Rose kit includes:
• Blush in creation
• Lip Gloss in captivate
• Eye Shadow in unique
• Blotting Papers
• DVD: Tips and Techniques

Five bloggers will randomly be selected to receive a kit to giveaway. If you'd like to win a kit, just leave a comment! And definitely check out the podcast. If my blog is picked for a giveaway, someone here is going to win!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Me? Best local blog? Please vote!

For Local Blog
in Miami
I might still be taking a power nap and having one of those weird pregnancy dreams, or this might be for real. But if this is for real, then Tropic of Mom has been nominated for Best Local Blog in Miami in the 2009 Nickelodeon Parents' Picks Awards!

The intelligent and extremely good-looking people at Nick's Parents Connect / GoCityKids.com have listed me along with other nominees who are so great I feel honored just to be included. A couple of the others are even friends.

But if you like me (you really, really like me), then please click on over to vote for me. You can vote every day until July 15. You can also vote for other bests in the Miami area, including best toy store, pediatrician, preschool, ice cream and more. You can also vote for the bests in your local area and sign up for the chance to win $2,000!

OK, I'm a little excited. This kind of thing just doesn't happen to me. That often.

I'm sure if you vote for me and I win, then I will have like a 15-minute labor without any complications, and my baby will grow up to find the cure for a dreaded disease and possibly also help us achieve world peace. I think that's worth voting for. Just click here to vote for Tropic of Mom! Mwah!

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Roy G. Biv



What my 2.5-year-old son thinks is fun: taking the cushions off the couch in the family room and driving his toy cars over the "speed bumps" (aka furniture springs or coils).

What I think is fun: messing with him by grouping all his cars by make or type.

Or lining up a Matchbox/Hotwheels rainbow.

See, some days I don't feel so underqualified for this parenting gig....

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

When moms go out

Quiz time. Can you guess what these women are doing?



A) Lining up for Jell-O wrestling
B) Modeling
C) Performing as South Florida's newest pop girl group
D) Doing the Cha Cha Slide at a Simon Mall for Mom's Nite Out.

Ding ding ding! If you guessed D, you are correct!


Shake it, mama!

(Check out the Mom's Nite Out banner in the background. I wanted it after they were done with it, but the mall people told me to scram or they'd call security.)

(OK, I'm just kidding. They just told me to scram.)

My local Simon Mall was hosting a Mom's Nite Out party with giveaways, deals and other fun stuff. So I had to go check out the action. The highlight was definitely watching the women from Macy's strut their stuff. It was also cool to see a mom carrying her fourth baby in a sling to win a spa basket. Free samples didn't hurt, either.

And because I can't remember the last time I went to the mall without the Man-cub, I actually went shopping.

Alone.

It was a great Mom's Nite Out -- short, but I'll take it.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oooh, aaah


Guess where I went today?

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Monday, May 4, 2009

National Mom's Nite Out saves Mother's Day

National Mom's Nite Out: the Ultimate Celebration of MotherhoodI think I might be in a little trouble. Last night, I pointed out a gift my husband might want to give to his mother for Mother's Day. And he didn't know when Mother's Day is.

Sigh.

But even if Mother's Day goes unnoticed around mi casa this year, it's going to be OK because I'm going to celebrate National Mom's Nite Out on Thursday. There are events taking place all around the country, as well as online. I'm going to be at my local Simon Mall to celebrate. (Simon Malls in Florida are hosting events from 6-9 pm in Estero, Coral Springs, Miami, Melbourne, Sanford, Boca Raton and St. Petersburg.) And if I can sneak online during that time, I'll be tweeting about it, too. Feel free to join me!

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