Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Believe in Santa

As a child, my grandparents hosted a big Christmas Eve party at their house. My numerous aunts, uncles and cousins filled the house with noise and excitement. After dinner there would be a knock at the door and who would be there with a big red bag full of gifts? Santa!

My memories of Santa visiting us on Christmas Eve are some of my most precious. Even after, around age 9, I accidentally saw Santa come to the back door to get the gift bag from my grandma, I still pretended to believe in the magic of Santa.

The tradition ended the year that I was 18. My beloved grandfather died that year and we tried to continue with Santa but it was never really the same. At Grandpa's funeral a man we didn't know came up to give his condolences. I looked at my mom and said, "His voice is so familiar. Who is that?"

She didn't know. Then we realized - it was Santa! You see, Grandpa never told anyone who Santa was; not even my grandma knew. It turns out he was a co-worker and friend of Grandpa's who had agreed to be Santa back in 1976 and continued every single year.

Fast-forward to Christmas 2010. Just a week ago I walked into my living room to see my 7 year-old daughter and 4 year-old son looking at the Christmas tree with a friend. This friend is my daughter's age and her family does not celebrate Christmas because they are part of a different religion than ours.

It has never been an issue in the past but I lost my cool when I heard these words come out of her mouth in a loud, argumentative voice:

"Santa's not real! My mom says he's just a guy in a costume and your parents give you the presents."

As you can imagine I had quite a bit of explaining to do and I also had a serious conversation with her mother. All I ask is that others respect our traditions and allow my children to have the same Christmas joy that I grew up with. For now, my kids still believe in Santa and I hope that the magic continues for many years to come.

Mason and Emily visiting jolly Ol' St. Nick on her 3rd birthday in 2006. 
This post is part of Alphabe-Thursday Holiday Blessings

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Push Pin Art

Looking for a way to keep your kids entertained this winter break? I found this fun and easy little art project and it kept Emily and Mason occupied long enough for me to put Ryan down for a nap, take a shower and get dressed. That's a winner in my book!

Push Pin Art

What you'll need:
Push pins
Colored construction paper
Simple drawings with a dark outline (see photos for example)
White paper
Black marker

Dot-trace the outlined drawing onto the white paper. Tape or staple the dotted outline to a sheet of construction paper. Have your child (who is old enough to carefully use a push pin) lay on the carpet or a soft surface. Then they punch tiny holes to make the outline of the art. When done, remove the white paper and display the construction paper on a window to let the light shine through the holes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holding Onto My Joy

I recently came upon an interesting article through a friend on Facebook: You Cannot Steal My Joy by Elizabeth Duffy.

The gist of the article had to do with staying positive while raising your children. It really hit home with me. The author has a friend who never yells at her children. I find this amazing. Never yells. Seriously? Never?

As I read on, there were a few key points that struck a chord with me. Duffy says that her friend tells her children when they are throwing a tantrum that it is fine but she's going to continue what she's working on and she tells the child, "But you're not going to steal my joy. It's mine, and you can't take it."

Wow. How mature and calm. So I was inspired to try a similar tactic with my four-year-old tantrum thrower. I didn't do so well but I'm going to keep trying.

Duffy continues the article with her thoughts on other areas of life that can steal our joy - especially during the holiday season. This article is a good read for anyone with children, in a relationship, or with co-workers or family members who might try to steal their joy at times.
Joy thief in action. Thankfully he gives back much more than he takes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Four-Year-Old's Favorite Joke

Mason loves to tell this joke. Over and over again.

I can't help but laugh every time, not because it's that funny after the 50th time but because of the smile on his face.

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
"Banana who?"
"Banana who?"
"Banana who?!?!"
"Orange who?"
"Orange you glad I didn't say banana?"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Here's the comedian cracking himself up. 

This post is participating in Jenny Matlock's AlphabeThursday

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Target Toy Coupons

What a deal! If you are like me and haven't started any Christmas shopping at all yet, then you might be able to use these coupons. I found a couple of 50% off coupons for toys my kids put on their Christmas lists, like the Littlest Pet Shop and $5 off an Easy Bake Oven. Yippee!

Here's the link to the coupons. Target Toy Coupons

You can select the coupons you want and print them out at home. There are 32 pages of coupons, which include everything from toys to food to household items.

**Note -- Some of the coupons expire TODAY (11/24/10) but others are good until the middle of December.

I came across these coupons on another blog I follow that has coupons and hot deals: A Little of This, A Little of That.

Happy shopping to you!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Homemade Pizza

One of the most fun meals my family has made in a while is our own homemade pizzas. I made my own pizza dough for the first time and it was surprisingly simple. It turned out to be just as tasty as any pre-made dough I have bought.

The best part was when the kids helped mix up the dough and roll out their own pizzas. We made little individual pizzas so they could add their own toppings. This works well for us since we have one veggie lover and one cheese & sausage pizza connoisseur.

I found this recipe on a cooking blog called Anna Maria Volpi: A Passion for Cooking

Basic Pizza Dough

1 tbs. active dry yeast or 1 oz. brewer's yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

There are pictures and steps on the original website, but basically you just activate the yeast in warm water for 5 minutes, then add the yeast, olive oil and salt to the flour. Mix together, knead and form a ball. Place the ball of dough in a bowl covered with a towel in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Then punch down the dough, roll it out on a flour surface, and top it with your favorite pizza toppings. I baked our pizzas for about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Home Improvements + Kids = Fun

That's right, doing home improvements with your kids can be fun. Believe it or not!

I decided to tackle our small half bathroom near our family room. It was in dire need of a paint job. The kids and I head off to Home Depot to find paint and supplies.

This may be hard to believe but -- they were actually helpful when it came to painting. There is only one little streak of paint on the wooden molding that gives an indication that a four-year-old and six-year-old were part of our paint crew.

This post is participating in Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photo Gallery (by Emily)

Maybe Emily will grow up to be a photographer. At least once a week I'll pick up the camera to upload pictures and find an interesting array of photos that have the tell-tale signature style of a 6-year-old photo enthusiast.

Here's a photo gallery of her recent "work." Note the Halloween theme. I'm sure I'll be getting a call from a fancy-shmancy New York City art gallery any day now. 

Portrait of the artist -- 
She must have enlisted the help of her assistant (aka little brother Mason) for this one. 

Day 7 of the All About Me in 30 Days meme asks for a photo that makes me smile. This one of Emily definitely qualifies. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

All About Me in 30 Days - Day 6

Day 6: 20 of My Favorite Things

My first thought was that my favorite things are my family and God, but then I realized that they are not things -- duh! I had to debate whether to take this literally as "things" or just aspects of my life that I love. I decided to go with actual things, not people or places (the other types of nouns).

Twenty of my favorite things, in no particular order. I feel like I've left out some meaningful things but this is what I can think of at the moment. Coming up with 20 favorite things is not as easy as it sounds!

1. My bed (Sleep number! Yeah!)
2. Books
3. My computer
4. My family photo albums
5. Internet
6. Facebook
7. Decaf coffee
8. Costco Combo Pizza
9. Diet Coke
10. Music
11. My pink, fluffy bathrobe
12. My wedding photos
13. My kids' scrapbooks
14. McMenamin's cheeseburgers
15. Comfy warm-up pants
16. My bike
17. Sagelands Cabernet
18. My Dodge Caravan
19. DVR
20. My wedding ring

Saturday, October 30, 2010

All About Me in 30 Days - Day 5

Favorite Quote:

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

(So this is actually a prayer, not a quote but it is a wonderful one to remember in tough situations.) 

Friday, October 29, 2010

All About Me in 30 Days - Day 3 & 4

Okay, I'm already behind on my All About Me in 30 Days meme. No surprise there.

Day 3 asks what my favorite t.v. program is. That leads me to the other post I'm behind on: The Biggest Loser Challenge.

The Biggest Loser is one of my favorite shows and I started my own weight loss challenge. I've only lost 1 lb. in the past two weeks so I haven't been feeling inspired to write about it. I'm hoping that next week I will have better news to report when I write about The Biggest Loser Challenge Week 6.

My other favorite t.v. program used to be Grey's Anatomy (which I still enjoy) but has been usurped by Parenthood.

Day 4 asks what is my favorite book. My all-time favorite book, which I would highly recommend is Jane Eyre by Charolette Bronte.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All About Me in 30 Days - Day 2

Yesterday I started All About Me in 30 Days. The second day topic is my favorite movie.

I love to watch movies. My husband and I used to have "movie night" every Friday, but now that we have expanded from just a couple to a whole houseful we don't get to watch movies together much anymore.

With that said, if I'm picking a favorite movie I've got to go all the way back to a couple of 80's classics. Well, I can't choose one but I'll narrow it down to two great movies: Dead Poet's Society and Field of Dreams.

I can watch both of these movies over and over again. They both are fun and entertaining to watch but they also inspire me to think outside the box about life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

All About Me in 30 Days

Thirty days, thirty facts -- all about yours truly. 

I follow a cute blog called Simply Stacie and she is doing this 30 day meme. I thought, what the heck? It'll give me something to write about for the next month anyway, right? Each day has a different topic. 

  • Day 1 – your favorite song
  • Day 2 – your favorite movie
  • Day 3 – your favorite television program
  • Day 4 – your favorite book
  • Day 5 – your favorite quote
  • Day 6 – 20 of my favorite things
  • Day 7 – a photo that makes you happy
  • Day 8 – a photo that makes you angry/sad
  • Day 9 – a photo you took
  • Day 10 – a photo taken over 10 years ago of you
  • Day 11 – a photo of you recently
  • Day 12 – something you are OCD about
  • Day 13 – a fictional book
  • Day 14 – a non-fictional book
  • Day 15 – your dream house
  • Day 16 – a song that makes you cry (or nearly)
  • Day 17 – an art piece (drawing, sculpture, painting, etc)
  • Day 18 – your wedding/future wedding/past wedding
  • Day 19 – a talent of yours
  • Day 20 – a hobby of yours
  • Day 21 – a recipe
  • Day 22 – a website
  • Day 23 – a youtube video
  • Day 24 – where I live
  • Day 25 – your day, in great detail
  • Day 26 – your week, in great detail
  • Day 27 – my worst habit
  • Day 28 – what’s in my handbag/purse
  • Day 29 – hopes,dreams, plans for the next 365 days
  • Day 30 – a dream for the future beyond the next year

Let's see if I can keep it up. Here goes Day 1!

My favorite song: Make Me Whole, by Amel Larrieux. Here's a link to the lyrics

My husband and I danced to this song at our wedding and it brings back warm fuzzy memories. 

It's hard to pick a truly favorite song; it depends on my mood but this one is a song that I love. 

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkins, doughnuts, pony rides! Oh my!

We made our annual trip to Fir Pointe Farms pumpkin patch. I've got to say that this year was our best pumpkin patch trip yet -- nice weather, no tantrums, good friends, family, yummy food, and lots of

The pumpkin patch is always a great photo opportunity. It's not easy to get three kids to look at the camera and smile. In fact, it was pretty much impossible this day, as you can see.

A little better...
Not quite...

Almost got it...

This is as close as I'm gonna get.  I still have to teach Ryan to
look at the camera and smile. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Biggest Loser Challenge - Week 4

Now that I'm a few weeks into my Biggest Loser Challenge I'm really starting to enjoy this new, healthy perspective that I've adopted. I lost two more pounds this week.

I have always thought it is important to eat healthy and be active, but once I became a mother I let my own health drop down on my priority list. There are always at least ten other things on my "to do" list before exercise. Also, healthiness is sometimes usurped by quickness, ease, and cheapness when it comes to meals and snacks.

For week four of The Biggest Loser Challenge I'm going to move exercise and eating healthy up on my "to do" list. I am going to focus on my weight loss goal and avoid slipping back into my old habits. (Ah, how I love those old habits.)

One of the eliminated contestants from the show, Burgundy, is a mother of five who seems to havefigured out how to make exercise a fun family activity and incorporate it into her daily life. As of the last episode, Burgundy had lost over 50 pounds at home. If she can do that with five kids, then I (a mother of three) can certainly lose 25 pounds.
Burgundy working out with Jillian.

It's Alphabe-Thursday on Jenny Matlock's blog and I think D stands for dropping pounds this week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

First Bike Ride

Only seven months old and already riding a bike! Well, getting a ride on a bike that is. Ryan went on his first bike ride just the other day. He loved looking over the side of his bike seat at the world zooming by. His big sister and brother joined us as we cruised around the neighborhood. They were even more excited than Ryan was!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Biggest Loser Challenge - Week 3

As I completed my second week of my weight loss challenge, inspired by the show The Biggest Loser, I was not very happy with my progress.

This week's report: 1 lb. lost, only two days of exercise.

My goal is that when I report for the next week of my challenge I will have lost at least 3 pounds. I can do it! I can do it! (That's my new mantra.)

I watched my daughter participate in the jog-a-thon for her school yesterday and she happily and easily ran 6 laps (1.5 miles) in under 20 minutes. She is my inspiration this week. I want to be able to go out and run with ease like she does.

I'm going to finish this post quickly so I can go workout right now since I have a few minutes of free time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Biggest Loser Challenge - Week 2

It has been one week since I declared my commitment to my own Biggest Loser Challenge.

Here's my report:
I have lost two pounds and met my goal of exercising every day. Yippee!

I had hoped for more than two pounds lost, but it's better than nothing. My goals for this upcoming week are to continue exercising every day and to be more diligent with eating healthy. I'm going to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables (and therefore less junk). That should be simple, right? Well, we'll see how it goes when those potato chips are calling my name.

My inspiration.

Since this is a B for Biggest Loser post I thought I'd connect up with the always fun Alphabe-Thursday hosted by Jenny Matlock. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mailbox Monday

 Happy Monday!

Mailbox Monday is a fun way to find other blogs and to gain more readers.

Check out the blog hop at the Mailbox Monday host's blog: A Little of This A Little of That

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Biggest Loser Challenge

I have been a fan of the Biggest Loser for several years. It is an entertaining show and inspiring for anyone who has ever had weight issues.

During the last season I was pregnant and happily sat on the couch eating my snacks cheering on the contestants. Now, jump ahead several months - watching the new season premier Tuesday night I realized that I can no longer sit on the couch veggin' out watching other people become fit and healthy.

It's my turn to be a Big Loser!

I am going to take my own Biggest Loser challenge during the 11th season of the show. My goal is to lose these last 30 pounds of baby weight that I've been carrying around. I will report back here every Tuesday, just like the Biggest Loser contestants do on the show each week.

I don't have time for hours in the gym every day and I don't have the trainers, Bob and Jillian, yelling at me but I do have my own determination to get healthy and finally get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. (That is pre-pregnancy from my daughter who is now 6 years old. These pounds have hung on through my other two pregnancies but now it's time to say good bye.)

I'm not as brave as the Biggest Loser contestants: I would never want to be weighed on national television in just spandex and a sports bra, but I will use their bravery as my inspiration.

If anyone else is interested in joining me I would love to have the support and comradery.  It won't be easy but we can do it!

My first steps are:
1. Exercise everyday (as much as I can, even just for a few minutes).
2. Cut out late night snacks.

Next Tuesday I'll report back on my progress. Wish me luck!

Friday, September 17, 2010

How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?

This is a tough question for parents. Here I am on my third child and I still don't really have it figured out. I thought I would, by the way. Ha.

I am at a crossroads. Do I let him "cry it out" or should I bring him to bed with Daddy and I?

I've tried rocking Ryan back to sleep or comforting him while he's in his crib, hoping he would just fall back asleep, as you would expect at 3:00am, but that's not working. In fact, all he wants is to breastfeed when he wakes up.

Here's the advice my pediatrician gave us about getting him to sleep.

1. Put him down to sleep at night still awake. Feed him, change his diaper, rock him briefly, then lay him down while he is sleepy but not asleep yet. (This will teach him to go to sleep on his own.)

2. Do not feed him at night. (Ryan is 6 months old and at a good weight so he doesn't need the extra feedings.)

3. Have Daddy check on him when he wakes up at night. (Removing the option for breastfeeding.)

4. Let the baby cry it out (cry himself to sleep), checking on him every 10 minutes or so.

I know that the doctor's advice will work. The question is whether I want to put myself, my husband, and my baby through the nighttime crying.

I already follow step 1 with no problem. I've tried all the other steps and it has not been going too well. Last night, (technically this morning) Ryan woke up at 1:00am, 3:00am, and 5:00am. Arrghhh!

It sure is a good thing babies are so darn cute and lovable because this not sleeping stuff is the pits.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mango Peach Salsa

Mango Peach Salsa is a delicious addition to many meals, such as fish tacos, nachos, or quesadillas.

I made a batch without any hot peppers so the kids could enjoy the salsa without the spiciness. They especially loved the sweet mango chunks.

This recipe, with the bright colors and sweet fruit, is a simple, healthy, and inexpensive way to make a common meal extra special.

Mango Peach Salsa

2 large mangos, diced
1 large peach, diced
1/4 c. diced red onion
1/2 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. diced red bell pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. tabasco sauce
1 tsp. white vinegar
1/4. c. diced jalapeno peppers (optional, depending on desired level of heat)

Mix together all ingredients. Chill and serve with your favorite Mexican dishes. Any other hot pepper can be substituted for the jalapenos and more or less can be added to your taste.

For more healthy and inexpensive ideas for feeding your family check out Pennywise Platter.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Off to Grandma and Grandpa's House They Go

There was peace and quiet at my house for several days this past week. That is a very rare occurrence around these parts. 

The big kids enjoyed a childhood rite of passage: the summertime visit to their grandparents' house.

I was a little sad when I hugged and kissed them good bye,  left alone in my quiet house with only my 5 month-old, then I had a reality check and jumped for joy! I love my kids to pieces but sometimes mama just needs a break (and most mothers of a four-year-old and six-year-old will agree what a break it is to just have one little baby).

The fond memories of the days when my first child Emily was a baby came flashing back. She and I would spend leisurely days together, following her schedule and caring to her every whim without any disruptions. Ryan got to have a little taste of that undivided attention for a few days and I do believe he loved it.

My dear hubby and I even got to enjoy each others' company in the evening without having to rush to follow the usual hectic dinner/bedtime routine.

Emily and Mason loved their special big kid time away too. They love having the extra attention (aka spoiling) that grandparents lavish on them. It's a win-win situation for all of us. The kids get to be independent and feel special, the mom gets a break, the baby gets undivided attention, the grandparents get to spoil their grandkids. Yippee for everyone!

I was so excited for the big kids to come home, looking like they had grown two inches in five days. Mason told me that he wanted to give me the biggest hug ever and made my heart melt. Ryan was all smiles to hear his big brother and sister's voices and I was one happy (refreshed, relaxed, revitalized) mama to have my family back together again.

I have to give a big thank you shout out to the grandparents for taking great care of my little rug-rats.

Now, I am sad to say that the euphoria of our family reunion did not last forever. That happy, refreshed mama of the first night the kids arrived home vanished in a flash when I was woken up by a demanding four-year-old at 6:30 the next morning, but hey, I did enjoy it while it lasted. Let's just hope it won't be next summer before I feel that way again.

For some tips on helping your kids with overnight visits see: Tips for overnight visits for young kids.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tortellini Salad

One of my favorite summer dishes is this delicious pasta salad. It is made with tortellini, a small ring shaped pasta stuffed with cheese, which adds a unique twist and makes it a hearty salad. This is a great side dish for a barbecue or a main dish for a light summer dinner.

Tortellini Salad

12 oz. cheese tortellini
6 green onions, chopped
3/4 c. diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 c. Italian salad dressing
8 oz. feta cheese
1 tbs. olive oil
3/4 c. sliced kalamata olives

Cook tortellini in boiling water for 4 - 5 minutes, until tortellini floats. Drain and set aside to cool, lightly coating with olive oil. Saute green onions, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil until just tender. Mix sauteed vegetables with tortellini, vinegar, dressing, olives, and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill prior to serving.

For more great recipes check out Pennywise Platter.

This post is part of Alphabe-Thursday's Rainbow Summer School.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love the movie

I watched the movie adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love with my best friend last night. We had been looking forward to seeing the movie since we heard about it a few months ago. We were even more excited after seeing Julia Roberts on Oprah, but I had to wonder: would the movie live up to the hype?

We were not disappointed. The movie was wonderful, although as usual not quite as good as the book. But really, has there ever been a movie that meets up to the book it is based on? This one gets close.

After watching Eat, Pray, Love I feel compelled to smile from my liver, as Ketut tells Liz to do, and live a more balanced life.

I can't travel around the world for the next year, like Elizabeth Gilbert, but I can take my own spiritual journey to find myself right here at home. I'm going to start with enjoying the happy moments with my kids more and staying calm during the not-so-happy moments. Living in the present and finding joy in the small, everyday things is my goal.

What a pleasure it was to read an inspiring book and then see it played out so well on the screen. Bravo to Eat, Pray, Love!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Risotto Milanese Recipe

Risotto is my favorite way to fix rice, not to mention one of the few rice dishes that my kids enjoy. I think the kids like the creamy, cheesy texture of this delicious dish.

This recipe comes from my Italian grandmother and she learned it from her mother who came to the U.S. from the Milan area of Italy in the early 1920's.

Risotto Milanese

3 tbs. olive oil or butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice (or any short-grained rice will work)
1/2 c. white wine
1/2 tsp. saffron or 1/2 tsp. turmeric
4 1/2 c. hot chicken broth
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms
1 c. grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil or butter in a large heavy skillet. Add onion and garlic, saute until soft, add rice, stirring constantly until rice begins to become opaque. Add wine and 2 cups hot broth. Bring to a boil, stir, and then reduce heat enough to keep a gentle boil. Add saffron or turmeric and mushrooms. When liquid is absorbed, add 2 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time until rice is tender but still a little firm (al dente). Stir continuously. Add salt and pepper, then stir in cheese.

Serve 4 -5. The rice takes about 30 minutes to cook, do not cover, stir often. Diced cooked chicken, peas, or asparagus are a great additions.

Find more great recipes and ideas about cooking for your family at Pennywise Platter.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Snack cupboard for Kids

Maybe all of you brilliant parents out there have already thought of this but it's a new and exciting addition to our household: a SNACK CUPBOARD!

Are you tired of having to stop in the middle of whatever important activity you're doing (laundry, sleeping, emailing, changing a diaper, etc.) to get a snack for your kiddos? Then jump on the snack cupboard bandwagon.

This was suggested to me by a friend and I decided, why not, let's try it out. We cleared out one shelf in a low cupboard and filled it with mom approved snacks. The kids were so excited to be able to help themselves to a snack easily and I was so excited that they were no longer climbing on the kitchen chairs and counters trying to find something to eat in the high kitchen cupboards.

I still like to monitor how many snacks they have and when they eat them (like not right before dinner which is Mason's favorite snack time), but overall the snack cupboard has been a smashing success in our house.

For other snacking ideas see my article Healthy Snack Ideas or my posts about making a Fruit Rainbow and Fruit Smoothies.   

This post is participating in Alphabe-Thursday (S is for Snack Cupboard). 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Eating Octopus

Who woulda thought my little picky eater would be so brave in a culinary dare?

Emily started out her childhood as a picky eater. Thankfully she has grown to love many new foods, in a large part due to our rule of taking at least one bite of everything on your plate. That has forced her to discover that new food isn't scary and that she could (gasp!) actually like something new.

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when at her year-end Kindergarten party she tried a very exotic new food. The theme for the party was "Under the Sea" and her teacher had some seafood to try.

She brought out octopus tentacles and asked if anyone was brave enough to come up and try it. A couple of kids jumped right up and then to my surprise Miss Emily volunteered too. You go girl! I was so proud of her when she took a teeny tiny little bite and smiled. I'll never say she's a picky eater again after that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Whatcha Reading Book Review - The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Stephenie Meyer, the creator of the Twilight series, has given us another little tidbit about the world of Twilight. She wrote a novella called The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner to give readers another perspective on Bella's story.

I read an article in which Stephenie Meyer suggested reading Bree Tanner's version of events (Bree is a newborn vampire) before going to see the movie Eclipse, so being the dedicated "Twi-hard" that I am I rushed right out and got the book.

It was interesting and a good refresher for Eclipse but it made me realize that the major appeal of the Twilight books, for me, are the characters Bella and Edward. I am rooting for Team Edward. Most of my girlfriends love Jacob but for some reason I'm a sucker for that over-the-top, co-dependent, unrealistic romance represented by Bella and Edward.

You can read the novella at but only through today (July 5th). Of course you can purchase the book, like I did, if you're not interested in reading that much of on the computer screen. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a quick must-read for Twilight fans but it doesn't compare to the original series.

I'm still hoping that Stephenie Meyer will miss the Twilight characters and decide to right another novel. I've got my fingers crossed!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Busy, busy summertime

Here we are in the middle of summer already. How did that happen?

I had this idea in my head that I'd have more down time once the kids were out of school and we didn't have to rush out of the house every morning. We have a more leisurely morning routine now, but it seems like the days are filling up fast.

Emily had a dance recital at the beginning of the summer, then she went to VBS (Vacation Bible School) and now she goes swimming lessons. Mason is playing T-ball and tennis and he'll start a summer program at his new preschool next week. They will both go to little day camps later in the summer too. Theater and dance camp for Emily and T-ball camp for Mason.

Add in some fun "play dates" with friends, grocery shopping, running errands, taking walks, trips to the playground/zoo/Children's Museum, bike riding, etc. and we're a busy little group over here.

Summer can be so busy and filled with activities that I have to make sure we have some good ol' fashioned relaxing time at home to enjoy ourselves. Especially now that baby Ryan is here I need to force myself to stop over-scheduling and stay home more.

Do any of  you have trouble with over-scheduling in the summer? Let's all enjoy some time at home relaxing and not rushing from one place to the next. Happy summer everyone!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

W is for...Watermelon

Now that we are on summer vacation there are so many things to look forward to: warm weather, sunshine, t-ball and tennis for Mason, swimming lessons and theater camp for Emily, visiting family, barbecues, going to the beach... I could go on and on.

There are a few challenges that come with the change in schedule and season but one challenge that I had not considered until recently was the daily question: What is there to eat?

On the snack front I try to keep it healthy and easy. That's my goal and so far it is going pretty well. My kids are definitely snackers. They will eat most of a meal but then be hungry again an hour later. I figure that their little bodies need lots of fuel to grow so I feed them on "demand" so to speak.

One of the favorite snacks that we have stumbled across lately is fresh fruit, especially watermelon and cantaloupe, cut into bite size pieces and eaten with a toothpick.

The toothpick is key. My six-year-old angel of a daughter can be a picky eater at times and she thought she didn't like watermelon. But wait, what is that cool thing that her brother is eating with? A toothpick. Okay, now she likes watermelon. Surprise, surprise.

That toothpick changes an ordinary snack into something extra special. Amazing.

This post is participating in Alphabe-Thursday "W is for..."

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Father Is...

There in every memory
See his love and care
Strength and hands to count on
Freely he does share
Provider, toil so faithfully
To make our dreams come true
Give strong and tender discipline
Though it is hard to do
A Father is God's chosen one
To lead the family
And point it to His will for life
Of love and harmony.

(by Sue Skeen)

Emily made a Father's Day gift with this poem on it at school and I thought it summed up her daddy pretty well. I hope that all of the wonderful dads out there had a great Father's day filled with love and hugs from their children.