It’s NaBloPoMo!

That might look like gibberish to some of you.  Let me elaborate quickly.

November is National Blog Posting Month, where bloggers are encouraged to make 30 posts in 30 days.  In my world, this is a tall order.  Life gets busy, especially as the holiday season kicks into high gear later this month.  But in an effort to get my blogging juices flowing again, I’m going to do my best to participate in NaBloPoMo.  I’m not promising a post every day, but I’ll at least think about posting every day and maybe hit that goal a few times a week.  Deal?  Deal.

Of course, that brings up the recurring problem I have of not having any idea what to write about.  My life isn’t especially exciting.  I don’t have any forward-thinking notions or explosive controversial opinions.  Things have been pretty easy lately, which after the past couple of years I will gladly take.  And the very act of typing that out will certainly bring some sort of drama or shenanigans right to my doorstep, I’m sure.

So we’ll see where things go this month.  I don’t really have any set game plan or anything.  I just decided to participate a few moments ago, actually.  So this should be fun.  Maybe not for you, but probably for me.  So get to writing!


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Four-Year Old Fear

My four-year old seems to have developed a fear of…. well, everything.

Okay, so not actually everything.  But anything that could remotely be construed as scary?  He’s scared of it.  This kid who handles the dentist with more bravado than I’ve ever even thought about is reduced to tears at the strangest and most benign things.  And I don’t really know what to do or how to deal with it.

Last night we went to a local pumpkin patch.  This particular pumpkin patch does have some mildly scary elements, such as a fairly comical animatronic Freddy Krueger at the entrance.  It barely even looks like a real person, but because its head moves and it talks and has an ugly face, Cole is deathly afraid of it.  He literally cowered behind us to get past this thing.  But the fear didn’t stop once we got past Freddy.  It seemed like every nook and cranny of this place was fraught with peril.  Inflatable spider with a moving head?  Terror.  Cartoonish Dracula slooooowly arising from his inflatable coffin?  Imminent death.  Completely stationary plastic black cat at the last turn of the three-foot high cardboard maze?  Drag me to hell.

Seriously.  He would not turn the last corner of this little maze until Zac walked all the way around the outside of the maze, leaned over the barrier, and blocked it with his arm.  Then and only then did Cole light out of there like he stole something, tears welling in his eyes.  It was simultaneously heartbreaking and so frustrating.  Why is my little boy suddenly paralyzed by fear of things that he KNOWS are not real?  We talk with him all the time about how monsters and ghosts and zombies are not real, that they are made up for fun.  We’ve never told him that there are monsters under his bed or ghosts in the closet.  One of his favorite movies is Monsters, Inc.  He knows that those monsters are pretend and thinks they are hilarious.  So why can an obviously fake inflatable Dracula make him quake in his boots, and why can a plastic black cat sitting in front of a black sheet reduce him to tears?

We told him last night in the maze that he needed to be brave and just walk past the plastic cat.  He knows karate, we reminded him, and he can protect himself and roundhouse that cat.  But he couldn’t make himself walk past it.  He tried, Lord he tried.  Each time his little chin wrinkled and he looked over at us with such a desperate face.  When he finally made it to the exit, he ran out and wiped away his yet to fall tears, saying quietly to himself, “I’m not brave.”  Heart:  shattered.

I don’t know if we handled it correctly.  I’m inclined to say no, we didn’t.  Of course we didn’t make fun of him or chastise him in any way, but I’m not sure that we made him feel like his feelings were valid either.  We are both very rational people, and I have to constantly remind myself that children are irrational and sometimes things can’t be explained enough to assuage their fears.  We did tell him that he was a brave boy, that he was smart and funny and generally an awesome kid and that being scared didn’t change any of that.  We reaffirmed that we would not let anything hurt him.  But nothing seemed to ease his mind.  And of course we had to walk past Freddy Krueger on the way out, which had him scrambling around us to get away from him.

I just don’t know what to do.  Is it a phase?  I mean, obviously he won’t be heading off to college still scared of inflatable Draculas {hopefully}, but I hate to think that his fear might get in the way of him enjoying normal childhood activities with his friends.  Pumpkin patches, fall festivals, hayrides, bonfires.  I don’t want my son to sit on the sidelines because he is afraid.

Sigh.  I guess I can just hope we handle it better next time.  Because I’m sure there will be a next time.

But we did pet some bunnies.

And act silly with Brother.

…and Dad.

So all in all, a good night.

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I am the one who knocks!

My husband, in addition to being really really ridiculously good-looking, is a Renaissance man of sorts.  He is very handy and is able to pick most things up really quickly and with minimal effort, which infuriates me because I have to practice incessantly to be mediocre.  He can fix cars and motors, build practically anything, figure out technology issues, and is a good problem solver generally.  Right now he is actually repainting his car, and it looks much better than the paint job he paid money to have done.  He’s your quintessential jack of all trades.

For the past four falls, we have gotten pumpkins at the pumpkin patch to carve and decorate for Halloween.  Zac has taken the lead on this, and has done a surprisingly good job.  The first Halloween after Cole was born, we just got a few plain pumpkins and left them uncarved.  The next year I think we went with the standard jack-o-lantern, with the triangle eyes and gap-toothed grin.  Two years ago he decided to try his hand at carving a character pumpkin.  He looked around for templates and went with a character that Cole really liked at the time:  Blue from Blue’s Clues.

Cute, huh?  It was a pretty easy template and he was pretty proud of himself.  Last year we decided to carve two pumpkins for our two little pumpkins, and since we had taken a trip to Disney World earlier in the year Mickey Mouse seemed like the obvious choice.

And this was our second pumpkin last year, because we are no fairweather fans.

Auburn Pumpkin

Both of those are very fine pumpkin carvings indeed.  We displayed them proudly and shared pictures of them for our friends and family to ooh and ahh over, and ooh and ahh they did.

But that wasn’t enough for my pumpkin carving savant this year.  No, this year he felt like really pushing the envelope and challenging himself.  He decided that this year’s pumpkin would pay tribute to the our favorite TV obsession as of late, Breaking Bad.  He searched through templates and found the one he wanted to attempt.  I admit that I was skeptical.  It looked very difficult and complicated.  There was shaving and chiseling involved, you guys.  But he was confident that he could pull it off, so he set to work.  Last night, he called me downstairs to see his finished creation.  And my jaw hit the floor.

Walter White Pumpkin

There he was, Heisenberg himself.  The man, Walter White.  Carved into the surface of a foot-high pumpkin.  To say I was impressed is an understatement.  I honestly expected a mangled mass of wasted pumpkin when it was all said and done.  But when it comes to Zac and his random hobbies, failure is not an option.  We have a second pumpkin that is destined to become Jesse Pinkman this weekend.

Are there any random or unconventional things you’re really good at?  For example, I’ve found that I’m really good at ending sentences with prepositions.  What about you?

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Handy iPhone Tip: Put Your Lock Screen to Good Use

I hate it when I have this fantastic, amazing, awesome idea and I think that it is original and I thought it up all by my little lonesome, only to find out that it’s been done and may or may not be fairly common.  And then finding out that there are actual apps made for the very thing I just thought up.  It’s kind of a buzzkill.  But whatever.  I’ll blog about it anyway, with the disclaimer that I apparently am not as inventive as I originally thought. Maybe the Barenaked Ladies were right, and it really HAS all been done before. Oh well.

I’m sure we’ve all gotten that e-mail about how we should enter an emergency contact into our phone’s contacts, and start it with a special character! so that it stays at the top! so it will be easy to find!  That is all well and good, but what about those of us who keep our smartphones locked?  Many people who have company-issued iPhones are required to keep them locked with a passcode {or fingerprint scan, now that the iPhone 5S is out}.  I just don’t want anyone to be able to pick up my phone and access bank/PayPal info or read messages or do whatever they want with it before I can remotely wipe it, in the event it is ever stolen.  This kind of renders the ICE contact useless, no?  If someone isn’t able to get into my phone in an emergency and I’m unconscious, how will they know who to contact?  Or perhaps a good Samaritan stumbled upon my phone and wanted to return it to me, but can’t unlock it to find out to whom it should be returned?

One way around that is to set your iPhone’s lock screen wallpaper to an image of contact information for yourself and your ICE contact.  There are a ton of different ways to do this, from simply writing it on paper and taking a photo to creating your own image using whatever app you normally use.  I used Phonto to do this.  I have been using this app for years to add text to photos, and it has an option to type onto a plain background in preset sizes for various iProducts.

Open up the Phonto app and press the camera at the bottom, then select Plain Image.

Untitled Untitled

Up at the top, you’ll see a box that says 1024×1024.  Tap the box and change the dimensions to suit your product.



Tinker with the color, borders, layout, whatever, and then tap the ‘upload’ box at the top right, then tap ‘use’.



Tap anywhere in your newly created image to start adding text.


Enter whatever info you deem pertinent.  Choose your font, change the size, placement, color, etc.  Be sure to leave yourself plenty of room on the sides, because iOS 7 makes the photos a bit larger when they are set to a lock or home screen.


When you’re happy with it, tap the ‘upload’ box and save your image.


Then go to your photos and set that image as your lock screen wallpaper.  I’m sure you all know how to do this. And there you go.


One problem I have with this tip in iOS 7 is that whenever a notification comes through, it blurs the wallpaper on the lock screen.  As I was trying to find a way around that, I realized that my notifications gave away entirely too much information about myself.  Facebook posts and messages showed in previews, Instagram and Twitter replies, reminders, calendar entries, PayPal payments, Etsy conversations, and limited Mint and credit card information, just to name a few.  This prompted me to turn off most of the notifications that show up in my lock screen by default.  Doing that is easy as well:  Settings > Notification Center > from here you can turn off ALL notifications in your lock screen, or you can go app by app and edit how you want your notifications to appear. 


I still wanted most of these notifications to show up in my daily view, but not on my lock screen, so I just flipped the switch to make them not show up on my lock screen.  I left the reminders on because they can be snoozed, and hopefully anyone who found my phone in an emergency would be able to figure that out.  🙂

You might be concerned with people being able to peek over your shoulder and see your precious contact information. I have a simple solution for this as well: get a grip. If you’re standing there staring at your lock screen for longer than two seconds, you’ve got issues. I promise you that nobody is paying THAT much attention to you on the train or in the library or sitting at the dinner table with a bunch of people who probably already know your phone number and e-mail address. I’d rather someone know how to return my phone to me or contact my husband in an emergency than get all MY PRECIOUSSSSSSSS over information that anyone can find out if they halfway try.

Hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to do something that apparently a lot of other people have done before and I’m just oblivious. And now we have reached the part of this post that I like to refer to as The End.

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Hey, blog.  It’s been awhile.  Sorry about that.  But see, there’s this thing called life, and it happens outside of this little box in which you live.  So while I have the technology available to have you with me everywhere I go, well… let’s just say it’s not you, it’s me.

So it’s been kind of nice to take a little break for a couple of weeks.  But it was also nice to dust off the login page and open up a new post.  Life has been going on and it is hectic as ever.  And from what I can tell, it’s not really going to slow down for the next, oh, 20 years.  But that’s how it is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The past couple of weeks have been a lot of fun.  Cole has been playing tee-ball and has games every Saturday morning.  Believe me when I say that the games are hilarious.  A bunch of 4-year olds running around after a little baseball?  Classic comedy.  Cole seems to be enjoying it though, and that is the most important thing. But can you even with this? Because I can’t.

Another big event:  somebody turned 2 years old!

Cannon Birthday I took the day off for Cannon’s birthday and we had a fun day, just the two of us.  Well, us and the pediatrician, and then we met Daddy for lunch.  It’s always so strange to spend an extended amount of time with one child or the other by himself.  When they are together they feed off each other’s energy, and can work themselves into a loud sweaty frenzy in a matter of minutes.  This makes bedtime a lot of fun {she said sarcastically}.  The little one especially is a bit of a spitfire, but when we have him on his own for whatever reason, he is sweet and snuggly and compliant.  Same for Cole.  We always like to spend some one-on-one time with them whenever we can, and getting to hang out with my little guy on his birthday made it that much sweeter.

Other key events over the past almost-month included various school activities, a trip to Hilton Head Island, celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary {and 10 years together}, upgrading my iPhone, and booking our vacation to Disney World next year.  Hopefully I will be able to expand upon each of those, but if not that’s okay too.  I’m still here.

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