Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

This is my all-time favorite Dr. Seuss quote! I inscribe this whimsical wisdom inside every baby shower notecard, but I also think it would look amazing as a vinyl wall decal in a playroom, library or nursery!


Tips for Expectant Moms

I can't believe it's been 3 years to date since I first visited with my doctor and saw two heartbeats blinking on the sonogram monitor! I felt like I couldn't breathe, think or hear anything around me. The earth stopped spinning and time stood still. I remember laying down, clenching Kit's hand and asking him if this was really happening. As we were leaving the office in a daze of disbelief, my doctor handed me not one, but two copies of What to Expect When You're Expecting. "One for each of your babies," he said! For the remaining eight months, I took those books everywhere I went, reading every excerpt over and over until I felt confident and prepared for the boys' arrival.

Today, Katie Moore, our guest blogger, has sent some words of wisdom for expecting moms to summarize and build on the list of what to expect when expecting.

Tips for Expectant Moms

Whether this is their first pregnancy or they already have children, women approaching their due date can be anxious about how it will all come together. With the proper preparation, however, mothers can avoid most of the stress completely. Here are six ways to help prepare for the big moment:

1. Take a childbirth class. Doctors and local hospitals have information on childbirth classes where women learn the stages of delivery, choices in pain management and about other potential delivery issues, what to expect immediately after birth, how to breastfeed or bottle feed, and 
much more

2. Make a childbirth plan
 In a birth plan a woman can write down her preferences for medication, which she wishes to have in the delivery room, how the baby will be feed post delivery and other similar decisions. This plan should be given to the doctor or nurse. Women should also be prepared for the chance that some part of the plan might need to be changed based on how the delivery goes. Talk with your doctor or do some 
research to determine the best way to construct your birthing plan. 

3. Plan a mode of transportation to the hospital. Women should arrange transport with at least two people, depending on whether the process starts during the day, at night, at work, at home, etc. The designated drivers should be familiar with the route.

4. Pack for the hospital. A couple of weeks before the due date is a good time to pack a hospital overnight bag.
  Items to include could be: pajamas or nightgown, a robe, clothes to wear home, toiletries and items such as a photo or musical CD – anything to make the stay as comfortable as possible.

5. Plan for childcare. Women who already have children should have a couple babysitting options available the moment it’s time to go to the hospital. This impromptu child care works best if the children have a chance to get to know the babysitter first, before the stress of the big day; relying on a family friend or relative who is willing to come at any hour is often best.

6. Plan for baby’s future needs. As much as expectant moms are looking forward to holding their newborns in those first moments, they should also think about the baby’s future. Looking into 
cord blood banking, for example, will ensure that the umbilical cord blood stem cells are saved as a potential medical resource for the baby or maybe a sibling. Another thing some pregnant women take care of before delivery is enrolling their child in day care.  Even though the baby won’t use the day care services for several months, waiting lists are often long so signing up as soon as possible will alleviate any necessary stress when the time comes.


Life with Twins

Jack has been doing this for quite a while now and I finally caught it on tape! Yay! I'm trying my best not to be an obnoxious overly boastful mommy, but I am so proud of my little guys! Only two years old and Jack is counting to twenty, all by himself!  I just had to share it with you guys!

And here's a little clip of Logan spelling his and brother's names during our "art" class. God has blessed me with the cutest, sweetest and smartest little boys!


What Teachers Do

A few of my teacher friends were floating this funny pic around Facebook tonight and I thought it was SPOT ON, too good not to share!


Shop Swap

Geez Louise! Our town has had a head cold that's been circling us for weeks and weeks, and the cycle just won't end! I was hit really hard last week with a fever, chills, cough, sinus headache and runny nose (hence the blog sabbatical), and now that I'm finally starting to recover, everyone around me is catching it once again! Ugh! Looks like the boys and I will be hiding out in the house all this week. Which is sort of good news because it gives me more opportunities to share with you all of the goings on happening in Blogland lately!

I've just found out that Danni from the "Oh Hello Friend" blog is hosting a shop swap! Mid-February a group of online shops will share an exchange of their best goodies with a partner perfectly matched and handpicked by Danni herself! I think this is a fantastic opportunity for sellers to share and learn from one another and I. can. not. wait! If you own a shop, you should definitely consider jumping in! Slots are available until February 7th or we reach 100 people. Click below for more info.


Fabulous Friday Freebie Valentines!

I know it's sort of early to start thinking about Valentine's Day, but I'm the sort of mom who is always about 2 days behind schedule and usually ends up giving her kids Valentine's to hand out a week past due! (Mostly because I'm far more unorganized than you would ever believe, but also because handing them out late means I get to buy the Valentine leftovers at Target for 50% off!)

But not this year! No, this Valentine's Day I will send my sons to school prepared with adorable, handmade, cheeky cards that they (and I) can be proud of! And I'll save money, too!

"How?", you ask. With these super cute, silly, and sweet FREE Valentine's Day card printables from some of my favorite blogs! I absolutely adore these colorful cards and cannot wait to get started printing and cutting! But since my secret not-so-secret habit of procrastinating has been ingrained in me for years, I must start now to get them done on time. Here's to making my family proud and not having to spend the rest of the school year avoiding their teachers!


New Year Resolution Updates...I NEED YOUR HELP!

It's been 17 days since I made my New Year's resolutions and surprisingly, I'm still keeping every one! Woo hoo! I think a big part of that (minor) success is that I'm making myself accountable by having told my goals and plans to family and friends. Whenever they ask me how my new designs for the shop are coming along or give positive comments on my weight loss (5 pounds by the way!), I am reminded that I have an obligation, not only those around me, but also to myself, be the best me I can be! 

Here's an interesting secret no one knows: I have actually kept my past 2 New Year's resolutions from January straight through December without fail! Last year, I noticed that I wasn't doing a very good job of saving and vowed to find a way to put more aside each month. So, for an entire year, I wrote down every penny that we spent, categorized to find out where we are spending the majority of our money, and pinpointed exactly what we can cut out. The year before that, I felt sad that I had lost touch with so many of my friends throughout the years, and I made a resolution to, if nothing else, send every one of my Facebook friends a happy birthday message.

This year, I have two sets of resolutions. One is for my personal growth and the other is for Pop Heart. I have found from past experiences that I am more likely to reach my goals if I set out to accomplish them one at a time and list specific strategies for achievement. So this year, I am finally going to tackle the BIG ONE.


I haven't set an amount as of yet, so I won't be disappointed if it's unreachable or if I accomplish it before December. Instead, I am focusing on my strategy; to spend, at minimum, 10 minutes of extra exercise per day, apart from my regular mommy duties, and break a sweat. And the absolute best way for me to do this... is to join a gym. I've actually never belonged to a gym before. I've always enjoyed walking/jogging outside, roller skating and playing intramural sports (especially tennis!). But the twins are toddlers now and absolute "Mama's boys"! I can't get one thing done around the house without one of them wanting to hold my hand or stop what I'm doing to play or read with them. And while I really love nothing more than to do that, I just can't while I'm trying to work out.

So the gym is really working out great! The boys love meeting new friends at the "Kidz Zone" and I love having an hour each day to dedicate to my health and fitness!

As far as my goals for Pop Heart, there are so many it was quite difficult to narrow them down to a small list of dreams that I believed might be achieved by year's end. But by New Year's Day, I compiled my list of three.

1. Create new products (posters, teaching tools, labels, etc.) and branch out into different media (i.e. melamine plates + bowls, t-shirts, aprons, bags, stamps, and school supplies).

2. Revamp and rework my website so that it's less generic and functions as it's own e-commerce site (This is the BIG ONE)

3. Be a better blogger!

I have already added a few new posters to the shop since the beginning of the year, and now, while I'm continuing on with that goal, I'm setting out to reach my second dream, to rework my website! But this one has me stumped! I am so embarrassed to say that while I consider myself a "graphic designer", I actually self-taught myself how to design in a range of programs and since having not been formally trained through a university, I have NO CLUE how to go about web design!

As I'm sure many of you have noticed, my blog is as generic as it gets and my website was created using a free template from wix.com, completely stuck and simple, and most annoyingly, not available as an e-commerce site. I NEED HELP!

And I know just who can save me! Amanda and Allie, from The Girls' Guide to Web Design, have created two super awesome learning programs that teach everyday DIY wanna be graphic girls how to create a beautiful, custom and completely creative website using Wordpress! I would really love to join in on their First Class session! Not only do you get their amazing 8 step program, you also have the opportunity to "meet" other girls going through the same learning process as you and actually ask Amanda and Allie questions as you go along! How awesome is that?!

And here's the BEST part! A & A are offering scholarships to 3 lucky contestants! So I'm taking my chances and asking you guys for your help! All you have to do is go to their contest page, look for Heather Bredimus, and click "Like". That's it! And you guys will have helped make my New Year's dream come true!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, soooo much! Winners will be chosen on the 25th and you know I'll be here to tell you guys if I made it! I'm so excited!

What Teachers Really Want to Say to Parents

Well, I always wondered how I would react when it happened. Would I clam up in shame? Would I fight back? Would I believe them or simply ignore their comments thinking that they are overly sensitive, too strict, or just don't have the strategies to redirect my child's behavior?

I'm speaking of how I, as a parent, would react the first time my son's teacher pulls me aside to discuss his poor conduct. As a former teacher, I have very clear memories [nightmares] of parent-teacher conferences gone bad. Back then, I was a new grad and newlywed with no children of my own and quite limited experience in behavior management, learned mostly from sparse babysitting jobs and reading course books while studying education in college. Oh, the stories I could tell of those dreaded meetings! Oh, what I wish I could tell myself then what I know now!

Though my years as a formal educator were short, I was fortunate to work in many different learning environments with children of various ages, races, abilities and income. Through my experiences I learned that, among other characteristics, regardless of any child's parent involvement in their educational or extracurricular activity, their parents only wanted, expected and believed the best of their children. Which is why this cartoon so accurately depicts almost every single one of my parent-teacher encounters!

So because of my experience on the other side of the desk, I always wondered how I would feel and what I would say to the first (of many, I'm sure) teachers who wish to discuss with me their concerns about my sons' development. Well, yesterday the moment finally arrived. After only 2.5 years of parenting, my toddlers' church daycare teacher asked to speak with me after class! Apparently, one of the twins (she couldn't remember which one) had been put in time-out because he refused to say "I'm sorry," to a fellow classmate.

And what do you think was my reaction? Much to my relief, as I later reflected on the inevitable "talk" that I had dreaded for so many years, even before having Jack and Logan, I said, "It was Logan, wasn't it?" Knowing my sons so well, even if (as she claims) the teacher couldn't recall who the defiant troublemaker was, I was proud that I at least could recognize the strengths and weaknesses of my sons, acknowledge them, and promise to work harder in teaching them empathy and remorse for their wrongdoings.

It's so coincidental that I had this experience only yesterday, because today my Facebook feed has been blowing up with friends sharing the exact same article in their status updates! I guess since it's a federal holiday, school is out and the majority of my Facebook friends are teachers, they all felt compelled to share this read, as now am I! CNN recently posted an article titled, "What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents", by Ron Clark, named a former "American Teacher of the Year" by Disney and Oprah Winfrey's pick as "Phenomenal Man". I found it refreshingly honest, something I hope every parent and teacher has the opportunity to read, and words of wisdom that I hope to carry with me and keep in mind as I encounter many more parent teacher conferences for my sons in the future.

It's a bit of long read (especially for those private school teachers who didn't get out for the holiday today), so I copied and pasted the article here and highlighted some of my favorite parts for easy skimming during lunch or prep time. To read the article in it's original form, click here, and enjoy!

"What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents"
by Ron Clark

This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession. 

I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.

Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.

Please quit with all the excuses.

And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me had hadn't started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks. 

His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they'd been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn't help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some "fun time" during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn't his fault the work wasn't complete.

Can you feel my pain?

Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don't want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren't succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.

Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor.

And parents, you know, it's OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It build character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don't set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It's a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.

This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn't assume that because your child makes straight A's that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it's the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, "My child has a great teacher! He made all A's this year!"

Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it's usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal's office. 

Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has "given" your child, you  might need to realize your child "earned" those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.

And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.

Teachers walking on eggshells

I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster. 

My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off wish a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, "Can you believe that woman did that?"

I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to fell threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow's outstanding educators. 

Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner. 

If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, "I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me." If you aren't happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don't respect her, he won't either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems. 

We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask -- and beg of you -- to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible. 

That's a teacher's promise, from me to you.


Valentine Etsy Inspiration and a Fabulous Friday Freebie

Wow! This month is just flying by! So far I've been pretty good about keeping my new year's resolutions (even though it's only been 13 days). But here's to celebrating successes where we can find them, eh?

So with all of the new time, energy and commitment spent working out, cleaning house, organizing, and budgeting, I've also been quite busy designing custom posters! Lately, it seems everyone is getting that lovin' feeling and my long distance love posters are flying off the electronic shelves! Here are some goodies I'll be printing and shipping this afternoon (but Shh! It's a surprise!)

From Rhode Island to Toronto, Lebanon to Australia, these posters always remind me that love will find a way! I've actually just been commissioned to create a custom love poster with a map silhouette of France which I'm super excited about! If you share a long distance love, this would be an awesome Valetine's Day gift! Just visit the shop to view the different map and color swatch choices you can choose from to make your poster super special! Don't see a map of your country? Just message me and I'll create one just for you!

All of these love posters and New Year effort to stay organized and attempt to give gifts on their respective holiday dates (instead of my usual 10 days after) has inspired my search for the perfect V-day gifts my sweeties! Here are some lovelies I just found on Etsy.

1. Tiny Giraffe Shop | 2. Rock Candy Vintage | 3. Charonel Designs | 4. Nancy Jean HomeGoods
5. Morgan Prather | 6. Fishes Make Wishes | 7. Bombus | 8. Rose Jasmine | 9. Kari Machal

And since I'm totally in the loving mood, now is the perfect time for my Fabulous Friday Freebie!

If you purchase any "Love Will Find A Way" or "Home is Where the Heart is" poster between now and February 1st, I will send a second art print of your custom design to you for FREE! Woo hoo! It's a two-fer! Give one as a gift to your honey, sweetie, mommy, granny, sister or friend, and keep the second print for you! It's sort of like a modern take on a best friend heart necklace. You know, the ones that you traded with your BFF back in the second grade!

Have a happy weekend everyone!


25 Rules for Mothers of Sons

Yesterday, a friend of mine, and mother of 2 sons (plus one on the way), sent a link to this awesome blog post by Tabitha Studer, author and creator of the "Team Studer" blog. Inspired by a pin titled, "Rules for Dads with Daughters", Tabitha created her own rules for mothers of sons. I think she did such an awesome job and wanted to share it with all of you! These 25 ways to raise and love little boys is absolutely perfect and honestly, I couldn't think of any other rules I would add. I hope you love it as well, and if you have any additions, just post down at the bottom and be sure to send some comment love over to Tabitha!

25 Rules for Mothers of Sons

1. Teach him the words for how he feels
Your son will scream out of frustration and hide out of embarrassment.  He'll cry from fear and bite out of excitement.  Let his body move by the emotion, but also explain to him what the emotion is and the appropriate response to that emotion for future reference.  Point out other people who are feeling the same thing and compare how they are showing that emotion.  Talk him through your emotions so that someday when he is grown, he will know the difference between angry and embarrassed; between disappointment and grief.

2. Be a cheerleader for his life
There is no doubt that you are the loudest person in the stands at his t-ball games.  There is no doubt that he will tell you to "stop, mom" when you sing along to his garage band's lyrics.  There is no doubt that he will get red-faced when you show his prom date his pictures from boy scouts.  There is no doubt that he is not telling his prom date about your blog where you've been bragging about his life from his first time on the potty to the citizenship award he won in ninth grade.  He will tell you to stop.  He will say he's embarrassed.  But he will know that there is at least one person that is always rooting for him.

3. Teach him how to do laundry..and load the dishwasher, and iron a shirt.  He may not always choose to do it.  He may not ever have to do it.  But someday his wife will thank you.

4. Read to him and read with him
Emilie Buchwald said, "Children become readers on the laps of their parents."  Offer your son the opportunity to learn new things, believe in pretend places, and imagine bigger possibilities through books.  Let him see you reading...reading the paper, reading novels, reading magazine articles.  Help him understand that writing words down is a way to be present forever.  Writers are the transcribers of history and memories.  They keep a record of how we lived at that time; what we thought was interesting; how we spoke to each other; what was important.  And Readers help preserve and pass along those memories.
5. Encourage him to dance Dance, rhythm, and music are cultural universals.  No matter where you go, no matter who you meet - they have some form of the three.  It doesn't have to be good.  Just encourage your son that when he feels it, it's perfectly fine to go ahead and bust a move.

6. Make sure he has examples of good men who are powerful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity
The examples of men with big muscles and a uniform (like Batman and LaMarr Woodley) will surround your son from birth.  But make sure he also knows about men who kick a$s because of their brains (Albert Einstein), and their pen (Mark Twain), and their words (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), and their determination (Team Hoyt), and their ideas (The Wright Brothers), and their integrity (Officer Frank Shankwitz), and fearlessness (Neil Armstrong), and their ability to keep their mouths closed when everyone else is screaming (Jackie Robinson).
7. Make sure he has examples of women who are beautiful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity
The examples of traditionally beautiful women (like Daphne BlakePrincess Jasmine, and Britney Spears) will surround your son from birth.  But make sure he knows about women who are beautiful from the inside out because of their brains (Madame Marie Curie), and their pen (Harper Lee), and their words (Eleanor Roosevelt), and their determination (Anne Sullivan), and their ideas (Oprah Winfrey), and their integrity (Miep Gies), and fearlessness (Ameila Earhart), and their ability to open their mouths and take a stand when everyone else is silent (Aung San Suu Kyi).

8. Be an example of a beautiful woman with brains, determination, and integrity
You already are all of those things.  If you ever fear that you are somehow incapable of doing anything - remember this:  If you have done any of the following:  a) grew life b) impossibly and inconceivably got it out of your body c) taken care of a newborn d) made a pain go away with a kiss e) taught someone to read f) taught a toddler to eat with a utensil g) cleaned up diarrhea without gagging h) loved a child enough to be willing to give your life for them (regardless if they are your own) or i) found a way to be strong when that child is suffering...you are a superhero.  do not doubt yourself for one second.  Seriously.

9. Teach him to have manners
because its nice.  and it will make the world a little better of a place.

10. Give him something to believe in
Because someday he will be afraid, or nervous, or heartbroken, or lost, or just need you, and you won't be able to be there.  Give him something to turn to when it feels like he is alone, so that he knows that he will never be alone; never, never, never.

11. Teach him that there are times when you need to be gentle
like with babies, and flowers, and animals, and other people's feelings.

12. Let him ruin his clothes
Resolve to be cool about dirty and ruined clothes.  You'll be fighting a losing battle if you get upset every time he ruins another piece of clothing. Don't waste your energy being angry about something inevitable.  Boys tend to learn by destroying, jumping, spilling, falling, and making impossible messes.  Dirty, ruined clothes are just par for the course.

13. Learn how to throw a football
or how to use a hockey stick, or read music, or draw panda bears (or in my case alpacas), or the names of different train engines, or learn to speak Elvish, or recognize the difference betweeGryffindor and Slytherin, or the lyrics to his favorite song.  Be in his life, not as an observer but as an active participant.

14. Go outside with him
turn off the television, unplug the video games, put your cellphone on the charger, even put your camera away.  Just go outside and follow him around.  Watch his face, explore his world, and let him ask questions.  It's like magic.

15. Let him lose
Losing sucks.  Everybody isn't always a winner.  Even if you want to say, "You're a winner because you tried," don't.  He doesn't feel like a winner, he feels sad and crappy and disappointed.  And that's a good thing, because sometimes life also sucks, no matter how hard (as moms) we try to make it not suck for our kids.  This practice will do him good later when he loses again (and again, and again, and again, and again.....)  Instead make sure he understands that - sometimes you win - sometimes you lose.  But that doesn't mean you ever give up.

16. Give him opportunities to help others
There is a big difference in giving someone the opportunity to help and forcing someone to help.  Giving the opportunity lights a flame in the heart and once the help is done the flame shines brighter and asks for more opportunities.  Be an example of helping others in your own actions and the way your family helps each other and helps others together. 
17. Remind him that practice makes perfect
This doesn't just apply to performance-based activities (like sports and music) but also applies to everything in life.  You become a better writer by writing.  You become a better listener by listening.  You become better speaker by speaking.  Show your son this when he is just young enough to understand (that means from birth, folks - they are making sense of the world as soon as they arrive), practice trick-or-treating at your own front door before the real thing.  Practice how you will walk through airport security before a trip.  Practice how you order your own food from the fast food cashier.  Practice, practice, practice.

18. Answer him when he asks, "Why?"
Answer him, or search for the answer together.  Show him the places to look for the answers (like his dad, or grandparents, or his aunts/uncles, or his books, or valid internet searches).  Pose the question to him so he can begin thinking about answers himself.  Someday, when he needs to ask questions he's too embarrassed to ask you - he'll know where to go to find the right answers.

19. Always carry band-aids and wipes on you
especially the wipes.

20. Let his dad teach him how to do things
...without interrupting about how to do it the 'right way.'  If you let his dad show and teach and discover with your son while he is growing up, some day down the road (after a short period of your son believing his dad knows nothing), he will come to the realization that his dad knows everything.  You will always be his mother, but in his grown-up man heart and mind, his dad will know the answers.  And this will be how, when your son is too busy with life to call and chat with his mom,  you will stay connected to what is happening in his life.  Because he will call his dad for answers, and his dad will secretly come and ask you.

21. Give him something to release his energy
drums, a pen, a punching bag, wide open space, water, a dog.  Give him something to go crazy with - or he will use your stuff.  and then you'll be sorry.

22. Build him forts
Forts have the ability to make everyday normal stuff into magic.  Throw the couch cushions, a couple blankets, and some clothespins and you can transform your living room into the cave of wonders.  For the rest of his life, he'll be grateful to know that everyday normal stuff has the potential to be magical.

23. Take him to new places
Because it will make his brain and his heart open up wider, and the ideas and questions and memories will rush in.

24. Kiss him
Any mother of sons will tell you that little boys are so loving and sweet.  They can be harsh and wild and destructive during most of the day.  But there are these moments when they are so kind and sensitive and tender.  So much so that it can cause you to look around at the inward, reserved grown men in your life and think, 'what happens in between that made you lose that?'  Let's try to stop the cycle by kissing them when they're loving and kissing them even more when they're wild.  Kissing them when they're 2 months and kissing them when they're 16 years old.  You're the mom - you can go ahead and kiss him no matter how big he gets - and make sure he knows it.   p.s. (this one is just as important for dad's too). 

25. Be home base
You are home to him.  When he learns to walk, he will wobble a few feet away from you and then come back, then wobble away a little farther and then come back.  When he tries something new, he will look for your proud smile.  When he learns to read, he will repeat the same book to you twenty times in a row, because you're the only one who will listen that many times.  When he plays his sport, he will search for your face in the stands.  When he is sick, he will call you.  When he really messes up, he will call you.  When he is grown and strong and tough and big and he feels like crying, he will come to you; because a man can cry in front of his mother without feeling self-conscious.  Even when he grows up and has a new woman in his life and gets a new home, you are still his mother; home base, the ever constant, like the sun.  Know that in your heart and everything else will fall into place.