Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's Christmas!

I have not been very active on my blog this month. I really do have a good reason. Yes, I've recovered from my trip to L.A. and then Las Vegas (it was a blast!). When I returned from said trip, I realized that my family needed some TLC. I've been spending time with my kids and my husband preparing for the holidays.

I know the kids are probably out of school and you might be trying to find some things for them to do over their vacation. Here are some ideas for you:

Fun Christmas Things Kids Can Do

Homemade cards – gather an assortment of construction paper, pens, markers, stamps and other art items and let your kids make their own Christmas cards this year. Personalize cards by adding a special photograph.

Old-Fashioned Paper Chains – Cut strips of colourful construction paper and glue together in a loop. Insert the other strip through the first loop, glue together and continue!

Homemade Gifts – Use empty clean jam jars and fill with an assortment of festive candies. Try old fashioned peppermints or candy canes. Cover the lid with a festive cut out fabric and warp with a ribbon. Add a homemade card.

Gift Bag Decorating - Get some craft bags from any craft store (I bought a bundle of 12 for $4.99), some glitter glue and foam holiday stickers. Let the kids go crazy decorating their own gift bags to wrap those special gifts!

Cookie Decorating – Let the kids help make a batch of Christmas cookies and let them decorate the cookies themselves, this is one activity they’ll really enjoy.

Letter to Santa – Write and decorate a special letter to Santa, not only asking for gifts but also saying what things they’ve been most grateful for this year. Take a walk to the post box and mail it out. Remember - you techies - you can always SEND Santa an EMAIL :)

Christmas movie – Choose a special Christmas movie, it could be a classic like “Miracle on 34th Street” or “ A Charlie Brown Christmas”, make a big bowl of homemade popcorn, let everyone curl up with their favorite blankets and enjoy.

Help a Local Charity – Christmas is about giving as well as receiving. This is a great time to help your kids wrap some presents or put some food baskets together and deliver them to your local nursing home or charity.

Best wishes from our family to yours for a terrific holiday season!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I'm in L.A.!!

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore!

I am in Los Angeles! COOL! I have the awesome opportunity to accompany my husband to his corporate Christmas party. We arrived last night - this city is HUGE! He has meetings to attend today, so I'm actually chilling out in the hotel room and getting some work done (without kids I might add!).

I have a lunch with a business associate scheduled for tomorrow and then a party Friday night and another party Saturday night! THEN - onto more fun! We're going to "hop" over to Las Vegas on Sunday for a couple of days before heading home. What a great Christmas/Anniversary present for us to give each other - time away BY OURSELVES!!

Special thanks to Grandma and Mimi for making sure the kids don't kill each other while we're away.

I may be a little "absent" from blogging for the next several days, but you will definitely be on my mind :) You will be the first to know if I "hit it big" on the craps table!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas Cookie Swap

Have you ever done a Christmas Cookie Swap? They are really fun - you get a nice big group together and everyone bakes a bunch of cookies and swaps them. Say you have 10 friends who want to participate. Everyone bakes 11 dozen cookies - which, when you think about it isn't that big a deal. You all converge on one house with you 10 dozen plus 1 extra dozen to share. You usually get a nice variety of cookies; you'll have enough for your Christmas season AND you'll have spent a nice afternoon with friends hearing all of the stories behind their fun Christmas recipe!

Here's a great recipe for you to try - they're pretty and not the BASIC chocolate chip or snickerdoodle.

Stained Glass Cookies

* This recipe is a lot of fun to make with the kids and the cookies look great once they’re baked. You can use them to decorate the tree or just display them in a nice bowl or of course just eat them!

3 cups sifted flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter (melted)
1/3 cup honey
¼ cup water
Bright colored hard candies
Cookie cutters

Mix the butter, sugar and honey in a large bowl and add water, mix until smooth. Combine the salt, baking soda and sifted flour in a large bowl. Add butter mixture to flour mixture and knead the dough a little with your hands. Wrap up roll in cling film and place in freezer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

While the dough is chilling unwrap a selection of round hard candies and set aside.

Once the dough is ready roll it on a lightly floured surface and cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Using the tip of a knife cut out a circle in the center of the cookie to approximately fit the hard candy. If you’re cookie is meant to be an ornament make a hole at the top using a straw.

Bake at 350F for approximately 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly golden, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place the hard candy in the center of cookie and bake for another minute or so (just until the candy slightly starts to bubble). Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before displaying or eating.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Gift Ideas

Don't know what to give your child's teacher this year for the holidays? Have you run out of stupendous ideas? Here are a few to give you a jump start this season:
1. Stationary with pens
2. Coffee mug with gift certificate to their favorite coffee bar
3. Homemade cookies and candy
4. Mini scrapbook or photo album, ready to insert pictures into
5. Candy-filled glass bowl
6. Books from their favorite author
7. Keepsake box
8. Small jewelry box
9. “Pamper Me” basket, filled with bubble bath, soaps, body lotions, etc.
10. Deliciously-scented candles
11. Handmade cookbook, filled with your special/favorite recipes
12. Gift certificate for “two” to the movies
13. One dozen of her favorite flowers
14. Scarf, knitted by you
15. Small bottle of favorite perfume
16. Personalized keychain
17. Personalized gift basket, filled with all her favorite things
18. Tote bag with name or initial embroidered on the front
19. Pretty refrigerator magnets
20. Potpourri jar
21. Handmade soaps or lotions
22. Handmade pillar candles
23. “Why you’re special to me” book – Purchase a small notebook or journal. Have each kid in the class write why their teacher is special to them. Present it to the teacher as a class.
24. Surprise party
25. Decorative watering can, filled with pretty flowers or greenery
26. Variety of specialty teas inside a china teacup
27. Home cooked meal, delivered at the day/time of teacher’s preference
28. Monetary donation in teacher’s name, to her favorite charity
29. Custom made charm bracelet
30. Food baskets (fruit, canned foods, specialty items, etc.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thumbs Up Thursday - A Readable Feast

You know that I'm all about being the best mom you can be and spending quality time with your family. Today's Thumbs Up Thursday nod goes to Anne-Marie over at A Readable Feast.

She's got an entire category on her blog dedicated to bonding with your kids. Take a look at it here. That first post you'll see is a contest to win a journal that could be a great keepsake to pass on whether you're a mom or a grandma. Sign up...I did!

Be sure to peruse her entire site as she's got great craft ideas, recipes and books that you can share and do with your family!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tips for Decorating the Christmas Tree with Your Family

There is something special about walking into a room and seeing the Christmas tree. It instantly makes you feel happy. Kids especially love to see the tree all lit up and sparkly. The ornaments, lights and sparkle hold them in awe for hours. Here are some tips for making tree decorating a fun family tradition:

Have Fun - First and foremost make this occasion fun. If decorating the tree isn’t fun for you, it won’t be fun for your family. So relax and enjoy it, even if little Emma isn’t putting the crystal ornament exactly where it should go. If there are some ornaments that are precious, keep them in a separate box up high so that the adults can add them to the tree and make sure you have lots of fun wooden or non fragile decorations for the kids to put up.

Theme - Before you get started decorating, choose a theme. What kind of tree would you like? Do you want a traditional green and red tree? Or does your family want something funky and different? Get together, brainstorm and decide how you want your tree to look.

Lights - Does your family like white lights, or do they prefer colorful bulbs? Choose lights that your whole family will like to see on the Christmas tree. There are tons of options out there, from single color strands to lights that play Christmas music as they blink.

Handmade Ornaments - A really fun tradition for your family is to have everyone make ornaments. Set aside a special day just for this, a day when every family member will be able to pitch in with their creativity. Use cookie cutters, colorful paint and beads to create an assortment of unique tree ornaments. You can also buy ribbon and wire in the Christmas department and make tons of bows to decorate your tree.

Store-Bought Ornaments - Add some sparkle and shine to your tree with things like tinsel, icicles and garland. Or, if your family isn’t crafty and does not want to make ornaments, go together as a family and pick out ornaments for the tree.

Make it Special - Make the tree decorating day a special time. Play Christmas music, put out fresh baked cookies and eggnog for the grownups (non-alcoholic version for the kids of course) and hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows. Gather a group of close family and friends around and make it a real festive affair.

Once you decorate your tree go on a Christmas walk around the neighborhood and take in all the sights and lights around you. Then bring everyone back to your place for a hot Christmas stew or casserole… you’ll be creating a family tradition for years to come.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tips for Making Holiday Shopping Easier

Do you get tired of the hassle of holiday shopping? Many shoppers line up for hours on end to get a deal on the hottest toy of the season (I used to do this every Black Friday, but not this past one!), or newest fashion craze, then there are those who dread shopping and just put it off until the last minute, or give gift certificates to get out of shopping altogether.

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a hassle. It can be quickly executed without so much stress and anxiety, if you plan ahead.

Try these tips to make your holiday shopping a breeze this year:

1. Set a budget in place. Do you know how much money you can afford to spend on gifts? If not, sit down right now and make that budget. This will be a huge time-saver in the end.

2. Make your list; check it twice. Create a list of who you need to buy gifts for this year. Start with family first, then add friends, co-workers, etc. How does this list look, compared with your budget? Too long? Pare it down. Despite what you think, you don’t have to buy as many gifts as you think you do. Trim your list until you have it down to a reasonable number.

3. What do they like? Now that you know who you will be buying gifts for, start thinking about what these people like. You may already have a good idea of what kinds of things they like. If not, do some snooping and find out. Make a shopping list of these things for each person.

4. Shop early. If possible try to avoid the last minute rush and shop early. Another good option is to go late at night. Many department stores operate late hours during the holidays. It’s a good time to leave the kids with your spouse and do the shopping on your own without worrying about the crowds or the kids needing to be fed or changed.

5. Shop online. Now that you know exactly what you need to buy, start by shopping online. You can find lots of good deals on auction and discount sites. Many online shops such as give you the option of mailing out your gifts (gift wrap included) to relatives and friends, this could save you a lot of time wrapping presents and fighting the crowds at the post office. Shopping online could save you a lot more money than you’d think, and it will definitely save you the hassle of fighting those Christmas crowds!

Still don't know what to get? The 2006 Mom's Niche Holiday Gift Giving Guide will give you ideas for everyone on your list...from infants to toddlers to tough-to-buy-for teenagers to good old grandma and grandpa. What could be easier? Great ideas and easy shopping online with this interactive guide!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tis the Season to be Jolly...

...Fa La La La La, La La La La!!!

It's that time of year again! Gift giving season is upon us. Are you having trouble finding just the right gift for tween-aged daughter? Or maybe something special and different for your brand new nephew?

Mom's Niche has just released the 2006 Holiday Gift Giving Guide. This guide is unique in that it is interactive. There are hot products listed for every age category on your list. Each picture and product that is suggested is "clickable." You can actually click directly on the picture or product title and be linked directly to the page where you can purchase that gift. This saves TIME and MONEY for you!

Check it out won't be disappointed!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holiday Giving

Teach your Kids the Meaning of Giving this Holiday Season

Christmas makes kids wide-eyed, with thoughts of a ton of presents under the Christmas tree. Some kids even like to count their presents under the tree. This holiday season, teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas — giving to others.

Give to Others - One simple way to teach your children the value of giving is to have them donate to a local shelter. Have your children go through their toys and clothes. Make sure they give away one really nice thing that they don’t really need or play with. Place an emphasis on the fact that there are many children who have no home or parents.

Another way your children can learn about the gift of giving is to donate canned goods to a local food drive service. These services provide food to families in need. The holidays are often a difficult time for those in need. Take your children to the grocery store and have them choose a nice variety of canned foods to donate.

One more way your children can learn a lesson in giving is to buy gifts for others. Choose a needy family in your church or community. If you don’t know of anyone in need, ask around. Officials at your city’s municipal building, or local pastors will be able to make recommendations to you.

Take your children shopping and help them pick out age-appropriate toys and gifts. Let them wrap the gifts, too. Finally, drive your family to your “adopted” family’s home and let your kids hand out their gifts. You can also give a gift to a local gift drive for children in need, most of these will advertise in stores and the local community during the holidays.

It's SO important for the young ones to get the true meaning of Christmas - take some time out of your busy schedule and teach them!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Holidays and Eating...the Two Go Hand in Hand

Okay, this is really bad timing for this post...BUT, I thought you might still benefit from it with all of the parties and such coming up in the next month :)

5 Ways to Stick to Your Diet this Holiday Season

It’s dreaded by every woman on a diet—the holidays! Holidays are filled with tons of food, the nemesis of every dieter on the planet. If you’re worried about how your diet will suffer during the holidays, try these tips for coping:

- Get Active. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t be active. Organize a group and go on a winter hike or ice skating. Even caroling can help take the focus off food while giving you some mild exercise too. Or go for a long walk to look at the Christmas lights. Think of small ways to stay active rather than vegging out indoors.

- Snack Light. Don’t be afraid to have a few snacks at a party. But beware of snacking during the entire 3-5 hours! Allow yourself a small plate of snacks and stop there.

- Eat before you leave. If you’re really worried about eating too much at a party, have a light, healthy meal before you leave. Eat something nutritious and filling, but leave enough room for a light dessert.

- Watch the Alcohol – With all those parties those few drinks can really add up. Take it easy on the alcohol as it has tons of calories. A good trick is to have a wine spritzer, mix a little wine with some club soda and sip slowly throughout the night; this could cut down your alcohol intake nearly by half.

- Forget about the Diet. Well don’t dump your diet altogether or you may regret in the New Year, just don’t focus on it. If you constantly worry about your diet or how many pounds you might gain during the holidays, you’ll be likely to eat more. Instead, concentrate on the wonderful company you are sharing and stop worrying so much about overeating.

Have a Great Holiday Season!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

It's Thanksgiving morning. Yes, I'm sitting at my computer doing a little bit of WORK before everybody wakes up. We've got a great day planned! We will begin by watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade (tradition) and then will begin the preparations for the feast (actually, we mixed up and partially prepared everything we could last night so we could enjoy ourselves today). The older kids will be back from their dad's around 1pm. Our big dinner is planned for about 4pm. We'll have our family plus the family down the street for the wonderful dinner. It's going to be a GOOD DAY! Traditions are funny, they remain the same, yet year to year you take them and maybe "tweak" them a little bit to make them your own.

I have been thinking about what I'm thankful for this year - I've got a list :) Here they are in no particular order:

  • my husband who supports me in anything and everything I do
  • my children who sometimes drive me nuts...I wouldn't be complete without them
  • my mother-in-law - she is a great friend
  • my mom and dad - I'm so thankful that they are still healthy enough to do the things that they want to do and BRAVE enough to host our crazy family for the Christmas holiday
  • my brother and his wife
  • my other brother and his girlfriend
  • my nieces and nephew
  • the servicemen fighting for our freedom
  • my health
  • my neighbors who are also great friends!
  • my friends who aren't my neighbors, but are great friends!

Take a few minutes to reflect today and express you thanks and gratitude to the people you love and God.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Never Say Never

I'm sure you grew up with sayings in your household that run through your mind every once in a while. I'm also sure that you grew up with some that have become your MANTRAS - a sort of way to guide your daily living. I grew up with a few of those, and yes, some stuck. Here they are:

"Always tell the truth, but don't always be telling it." - We lived on the border of the 'burbs and rural area. There was a dairy farm down the street (and you knew it in the summertime if the wind blew just right), but we lived in a large neighborhood and played outside all day long with our parents and the neighbors watching us - you know the whole "it takes a village..." thing. Our church was on the corner of our same block and the preacher and his wife only lived a couple of houses down. This little nugget actually came from her (thanks Marge!) and it's never left me. It's actually a great way to live when you think about it - don't lie, but you also don't need to advertise all of your business :)

"Never say never." - Never is a mighty long time and I am constantly reminding my kids of this (much to their dismay). We would always say things like, "I'm NEVER going to finish this," and "Even though you are my brother, I'll NEVER like you!" Mom would then remind us that never is a long time and we should think about the things we are going to say before we commit to them. Needless to say, the work DID get finished and my brothers and I are closer than ever.

I was actually reminded of this this morning when I checked my email. I belong to a great online networking group called Mom Masterminds. I check out the forum daily, participate in the conversations and also take advantage of the great resources available. Every now and then they send out emails - little reminders and snippets of information. Today's came through entitled "The Power of Can't." Here is a portion of the email:

"I can accept failure - everybody fails at something - but I cannot accept not trying." Michael Jordan

We've heard it on message boards more than once, "I know I should be doing this or that, but I just can't!"
We would like to see you banish the word "can't" from your vocabulary where it comes to your business. What are you afraid of? Failure? The only thing a failure can do in the long run is teach you something valuable. So don't let fear of failure stop you from trying anything.

Don't be afraid to fail. Lord knows I have gained some powerful lessons over the last several years about business and in life. You have to try, though, or your life will be full of "what if's?"

Last but not least - I say this one almost EVERY day. "Don't ask any questions you don't want the answer to." - I know you're not supposed to end a sentence in a preposition, but this is a powerful statement. I'm not even sure where I picked this one up along the way, but it sure did stick! Make sure you are prepared for the answer before you ask the question. Simple and to the point.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Great Mom Giveaway

Moms, this is a ONE WEEK ONLY EVENT!
November 19 - 25, 2006

Lots of FREE goodies donated from awesome women!

Go over there and check it out!

Book Review - Who Likes the Snow?

With the days growing shorter and the temperatures getting colder, our thoughts normally turn to SNOW! Here's a book review from my friend Lisa Barker:

Who Likes The Snow? (Ages 4-8)
* * Who Likes The Snow?
Book Review Key
*** Outstanding Titles
** Highly Recommended Titles
* Recommended Titles
Author: Etta Kaner
Illustrator: Marie Lafrance
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press (September 1, 2006)
ISBN: 1553378423
Where Can I Buy?
Both a story and a lesson in natural science, Who Likes the Snow is a great addition to the home library and a perfect companion book when your child is investigating the weather at home or studying it in school.
What I really liked about this book is that it answers the dozens of questions kids naturally have about the snow supplying simple facts to support their wonder. Books like these encourage kids to ask questions, get answers and seek more.
Who Likes The Snow is part of a series called Exploring the Elements by Kids Can Press. If you like this one, you'll want to check out the other books in the series that cover wind, sun and rain.
©2004-2006, Lisa Barker with
Do you have a book review? Send me one at and I'll post it here or on the website.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fun Autumn Crafts for You and the Kids

Raking and bagging 25 bags of leaves yesterday on a gorgeous autumn day got me in the mood for some fun fall crafts using leaves. Check it out...

Leaf Tracings
Fold 10 sheets of copy paper in half and crease in the center. Bind the booklet by punching two holes in the spine, threading yarn through the holes, and tying the ends. Take your kids to the park. Challenge them to find and trace as many unique leaves as possible.

Book of Leaves
Make a booklet, as described above. This time, have your child search for odd-looking leaves to collect and place in their book. Then give them an encyclopedia and let them research their leaves. Have them write down the name of each leaf and three interesting facts about the leaf.

Leaf Characters
Draw and copy different types of leaves onto thick construction paper. Let your kids cut out the leaves and apply glitter to add sparkle. Next, have them create leaf characters by gluing leaves together to create a face, body, and limbs. After the glue dries, they can draw faces on the leaves with markers.

Leaf Collage
Gather as many types of leaves as you can find. Glue the leaves in any kind of arrangement onto a piece of construction paper or cardboard. Alternatively, spread white school glue across an entire sheet of paper or piece of cardboard. Crumble leaves at random over the glue. When the glue dries, you will have an awesome leaf collage.

Hope you have fun with these ;)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rest In Peace B.J.

I've posted a couple of times about BJ and AT (AtomicTumor). She passed on today to the great beyond. Our prayers continue for AT and his two young boys. Please take a minute to pray for them too.

Thumbs Up Thursday (On Friday) - Eat4Today

My apologies - Thursday got away from me...but there's always time for Thumbs Up Thursday...even on Friday :)

My Thumbs Up goes to Katiebird over at the Eat4Today blog. This is a blog like no other I've seen. Here's what Katiebird has to say about it:

“I've read that we can be more successful keeping weight off if we do it with a support group. It can be something formal, like Weight Watchers. But it doesn't have to be. It can be friends who regularly talk about nutrition issues and it can be an online group.

Eat4Today is an online support group specifically for that purpose. So many of us have lost substantial amounts of weight only to gain it back as soon as the focus is gone. I'm hoping that together, we can keep our focus and lose the weight forever.”

What a GREAT CONCEPT - you don't even have to leave the confines of your computer to get support from other people who are also struggling with weight loss issues!

Want to learn more? Go here to check it out and browse through the topics and articles.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thanksgiving Recipe...a.k.a. the turkey

Here ya go - 1 week before Thanksgiving and I'm giving up the wonderful (albeit a little extra work) recipe for THE TURKEY (and trimmings).

Traditional Roast Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing & Homemade Gravy
For the Stuffing:
½ cup whole chestnuts or dried if you can’t find whole
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and minced
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 cups stale bread, cubed
1 ¼ cups chicken broth
¼ cup butter, melted
Olive oil
Salt (sea salt is preferable)
1 10 lb. turkey

For the Gravy:
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
Corn flour
Chicken stock
Butter (if necessary)

The Night Before:
If possible, the previous night, or at least one hour before cooking, prepare your turkey. Remove any giblets and rinse well (inside and out) with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Generously rub turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and place back in refrigerator until time to cook.

The Next Morning:
Preparing the Stuffing:
To roast the chestnuts, cut an X on the flat side of each chestnut and bake 15 to 20 minutes at 375F oven. Let cool for 10 minutes and then peel and chop.

Do not turn oven off as it will need to be preheated for cooking the turkey.

In a large pot over low heat, heat the olive oil then add onions and celery. Saute for about 3 minutes or until soft. Stir in crushed garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme and apple and sauté for a further 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in egg, then add chestnuts and bread. Toss mixture well. Stir in warm broth and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Preparing the Turkey:
Remove turkey from fridge and loosely stuff the neck cavity with chestnut stuffing, fold the skin under and secure in place with a toothpick. Then loosely stuff the main cavity, making sure to leave room for expansion and the air to flow through.

Then prepare your roasting pan. Use a large roasting pan and at the bottom add two roughly chopped carrots, onion and celery. Place the rack over the vegetables. Now place your turkey, breast side up, on the rack. Drizzle with melted butter.

Bake, uncovered, at 375F for the first 30 minutes, then baste and reduce oven temperature to 325F. Continue basting turkey every 25 to 30 minutes. The cooking time should be approximately 20 minutes per pound of turkey, which would be about 3.5 hours for a 10b turkey. To check if the turkey is cooked pierce the thigh bone, juices should run clear without any pink. Also use a meat thermometer on the thickest part of the thigh. The temperature should show 180F. Turkey should be golden and crispy on the outside too.

Remove the turkey from roasting tray and reserve juices for gravy.

Tip: For extra added safety, I like to remove the stuffing from turkey once turkey is cooked and bake on a separate dish for approximately 10 extra minutes.

For the Gravy:
Mash the vegetables in the roasting tray, then push all ingredients through a sieve. Discard any remaining vegetables or fat. Place the sieved liquid in a saucepan and simmer over low heat. If you don’t have enough liquid then add 1 cup or more (depending on how much gravy you need) of chicken stock; You can also add a couple of tablespoons of butter.

In a small bowl add two tablespoons of corn flour and mix with cold water (about ½ cup) until all lumps dissolve. Slowly add a little of this mixture (tablespoon by tablespoon) to the saucepan, stirring well after each addition and allowing time for gravy to thicken. Keep adding corn flour/water mixture until gravy thickens.

Tip: You can also add a couple of tablespoons of red wine to the gravy or Madeira for a richer taste. The alcohol will dissolve during the cooking process and children will be able to have the gravy.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Problem with Your Teenagers? Get Some Help Here

Do you have teenagers in the house? Would you sometimes like to kick them OUT of the house? There is help...and Lord knows, teenagers (and the parents of teenagers) could probably use it the most. With all of the crazy stuff going on in today's world, it's comforting to know that people still care.

A friend of mine, Aurelia Williams, is one such person. She has started a new podcast called Parenting My Teen. Aurelia sits down with and talks to parents of teenagers and attacks some of today's toughest issues involved with raising them.

Go over to and listen to her most recent podcast with Marie Ynami. She is the mother of 2 teenagers - a 15 year old girl and a 14 year old boy. Like many parents, she often questions if she is doing a good job parenting her children. Together, Aurelia and Marie delve into the challenges she faces while parenting her teens. Topics they cover include cursing, punishments and communication. You don't want to miss this very touching, informative and eye-opening segment!

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thanksgiving - Early Preparation Makes it More Fun

Thanksgiving is a week from Thursday. It's always fun to host a family get-together. Use these tips to help you plan NOW so you can relax and enjoy your family on that special day!

1. Plan your meal – Don’t wait until the week before Thanksgiving to decide what your Thanksgiving dinner will include. Start planning today.

What kind of meats will you prepare? Will everyone eat the same meat, or should you cook a couple of different kinds of meat? What sides and desserts will you fix? Planning a family dinner can be taxing if you’re not careful. Be sure to plan for everyone so that nobody will go without something they love to eat.

2. Share the cooking – Don’t try to cook the entire dinner by yourself. Ask different family members to bring something with them. Good cooks love to share their food and recipes. They’ll love cooking and bringing their favorite dishes for the family meal. You can find some great recipes here and here!

3. Decide on a time – Don’t send an open invitation with no starting time, unless you are prepared to have guests arrive at all hours of the day. When planning your Thanksgiving meal, be sure to include what time guests should begin arriving. Family will most likely want to come early and stay late to catch up on all the latest, so make sure you stress the right time on the invitations.

4. Make it special – Every family get-together is special in its own way. Make this Thanksgiving extra special by doing something different. Perhaps you might take turns going around the dinner table and sharing what each family member is thankful for. Or maybe you could invite your pastor and his family for dinner and have him pray a special prayer for your family. Doing something different this Thanksgiving dinner is a sure way to create warm, lasting memories that your entire family will never forget.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Take a look at my first mention of this website. His situation hasn't changed a whole lot. I read this blog every day...sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. This guy is holding a vigil online for his ailing wife who is 29 years old. He has 2 young children. I feel for him and his family. Send a few prayers and good thoughts his way today!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veteran's Day

This morning I went to my son's Veteran's Day program. He's 9 and in the 4th grade. I figured this is the fourth time that I've seen this program. I wasn't all that excited about going...BUT, once I got there, it was a different story.

There's always music. There are always kids getting up and reading their own essays that they worked very hard on. There are always kids reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and other various pieces of Patriotic literature. AND...there are ALWAYS Veterans there. These Veterans are normally family members asked by their 4th grader to come with them as their guests and be honored for the day. Sometimes, they are neighbors (or grandparents of neighbors in our case) that the kids invite.

So, on to my favorite part of the program...the mic gets passed around and each Veteran stands up, gives his name, branch of service, years of service, who he/she was invited by and any stories they might want to share. Every time I listen to this portion of the program, I get a lump in my throat and a swelling in my heart. I am touched by the stories of these Veterans who have given their time and their hearts and souls to serve with the Armed Forces in representation of our great country. Many of these men have seen others die right in front of them. Many have served in multiple conflicts. ALL of them were so proud and honored to be there today in front of the 4th grade class, the staff and all of the family members present.


Each and every one of them deserves a great big hug and a "thank you" from all of us. THEY have helped to make and keep this country FREE.

If you see somebody out and about dressed in uniform, take the time to shake their hand and give them a "thank you" and a "job well done". They need to know that we appreciate all of their efforts to keep us free!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thumbs Up Thursday - Miscellaneous Mum

I'm going to start a THEME on my blog. Thumbs Up Thursdays. Every Thursday, I'm going to highlight a fellow blogger's blog. Just my way of saying "way to go" and hopefully bringing them a little well-deserved recognition.

Today's "Thumbs Up" recipient is Karen at Miscellaneous Mum. She is hilarious! Her perspective on life is comical. Be sure to read about the New Mummy.

Why is it that our husbands insist on using our young children in an attempt to be funny? My husband did the same thing right before my birthday. Our 2-1/2 yr old daughter had been excited all week singing "Happy Birthday" and asking when we could have the cake. The day before my birthday, he sent her in to the kitchen and she looked so sweet with a cute little smile on her face...the words that came out of her mouth "Mommy, are you going to be 40?"...hahaha...I turned 39. I looked past her into the family room and all I saw was a huge grin.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Britney Spears...Oops I Did It Again

So I'm sitting down to dinner this evening with my husband, daughter and mother-in-law. Wednesday nights are usually spent at her house since the older kids are with their dad. Anyway, we are sitting down at 7:30 - normal dinner time for us. The TV is turned on to Inside Edition. The lead story is "Britney Spears files for divorce from Kevin Federline." I'm floored. Between working all day, getting the kids taken care of and getting over to my mother-in-law's, I hadn't listened to the radio or news (like this is really NEWS) all day and I was completely floored!

Now, please understand...I'm not a Britney Spears fan. I was actually glad to see her get pregnant (twice) and shy away from "the business" for a little while. I have an 11 year old daughter...need I say more?

Why was I floored? I'm not even sure why I care. I guess it's fun to see how the rich and famous live every once in a while. Even though we think they are, and they sometimes appear to be, different from US...every day they are proving to be more human than even us normal folks! I hear she has an ironclad pre-nup - smart move. I'm not passing judgment, but have one request...Britney, please, please be a good mom and take care of those little babies!

Back to reality. It's almost 11pm - now to pay attention to the REAL NEWS...who won the Senatorial race in Virginia? Oh, looks like we have to tune in for THAT continuing saga too...

2 More Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Collection

Cornbread Stuffing

½ stick of butter
1 cup diced celery
2 cups diced onions
2 cups water
1 16 oz can of corn, drained
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 chicken flavored bouillons
6 cups crumbled cornbread
½ cup chopped pecans
Dash of black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 2 ½ quart baking dish and set aside.
Melt the butter in large skillet over low heat. Add onion and celery and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. Add water, corn, bouillon, paprika, oregano and pepper. Mix well and then add the cornbread and chopped pecans. Stir through the chopped parsley and spoon mixture into baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Candied Yams

4 fresh yams
¼ cup butter
½ cup orange juice
Zest of one small orange (grated orange peel)
Orange slices (optional)
¼ cup brown sugar
½ bag miniature marshmallows

Boil the yams with their peel on until tender. Let cool and remove peel. Cut each yam into about four to five pieces and arrange in large baking dish. Pour orange juice over yams and the orange zest. Sprinkle with brown sugar and dot with butter. Top with marshmallows and place orange slices on top if desired.Bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes at 350F until marshmallows melt.

Let me know...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Send Out Your Prayers

The blogging community can be so large and yet so small at the same time. I was doing my daily reading of my favorite blogs and came across a link that took me to the Atomic Tumor. This is another blog. The reason why I linked to this blog was the message that accompanied the link.

This is a blog started by a 28-yr-old man and 29-yr-old woman...married with two young children. They began this blog as many do with the intent of sharing their thoughts, ideas, pictures of children and family, and rambling on about nothing to whomever will read.

This blog continues to be the thoughts and ideas of the 28-yr-old man with a change. His wife is now lying in a hospital bed with what began as flu symptoms and has turned into something life threatening. This blog has turned into a vigil. He remains at her side as tests continue to be run and shares many times daily how he's feeling and what's going on.

Please take a moment to stop over at the Atomic Tumor blog, read the story (begins around November 1st) and make sure you send some prayers their way...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Recipe - Crock Pot Meat Loaf

I'm trying this one tomorrow!!! My family LOVES meatloaf and I LOVE the convenience of it.

Crock Pot Meat Loaf

2 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup breadcrumbs or crushed crackers
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 small onion (diced)
1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into a meatloaf shape that will fit into your crock pot. Cut a strip of foil and place under the meatloaf in crock pot. Cut it long enough to cover the bottom and sides of meatloaf. Place meat loaf in crock pot and top with an additional 2 tablespoons ketchup. Cover and cook on low for approximately 8 hours.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

De-Clutter Your Home...Regain Your Life!

I did 7 loads of laundry this weekend - and that's a LIGHT weekend. I feel like the entire weekend is full of doing laundry, picking up toys, cleaning peanut butter off of the chair, picking up books, wiping cupcake icing off of the new pillow (that just happened about an hour ago), cleaning, picking up blocks, cleaning, cleaning ad nauseum.

My house is constantly cluttered and that contributes to my weekly problems listed above. I ran across some great tips to help you DE-CLUTTER your home and your life! Read on...

Three words to keep in mind when it comes to de-cluttering your home, storage, storage and storage. De-cluttering simply comes down to finding a place for everything, making sure everything is in its proper place and getting rid of what you no longer need. It won’t happen overnight, so now is the time to being making a plan of attack.

First, get each bedroom area organized. Take a day and sort through clothes and toys in the kids’ rooms, and either sell, give away or throw away what isn’t needed anymore. Get age appropriate storage units, label things and help teach the kids to put their own things away.

Next, get a laundry basket for each family member and start with the least cluttered room of the house, so you’ll see success quicker and stay motivated. Put everything in the baskets that doesn’t belong in that room. Then each person has a deadline to find a home for everything in the basket, or you will (even if it’s file thirteen). Keep a big trash bag nearby for stuff you know needs to be gotten rid of immediately (like junk mail). Do this for each room of the house.

Once everything is in the correct room, evaluate each room and decide what kind of storage is needed to keep things organized. If there is very little clutter left in the room once the personal belongings are gone, then you’ve got less work to do. If the room still looks chaotic, decide if the items really need to be in that room or relocated, stored or sold/given away. If you use the basket trick daily, going from room to room, it should be easy to stay on top of things.

Different rooms have different storage needs, what works in the family room won’t necessarily work in the kitchen. Take your time and research the options out there and find a system that works best for your family.

You can get MORE TIPS HERE!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Toy Review - Leap Frog Fridge Phonics

As you know, we like to bring you up to date product and book reviews from time to time. Here's a great review - especially if you're thinking of getting this toy for your little one this Christmas!

Submitted by: Dana Beitlich; Oro Grande, CA

Rating: 10

Where to buy: Amazon

Description: The Fridge Phonics magnetic letter set teaches letter names, letter sounds and learning songs. This set of 26 colorful, easy-grip magnetic letters and magnetic letter reader that attaches securely to your fridge. Each letter talks, sings and teaches letter names, letter sounds and learning songs. Put a letter into the reader to hear its name, its sound or a fun phonics song.

Review: I gave this to my 2 year old son for Christmas this past year, and I am beyond impressed with this product. It is always hooked to our fridge and he plays with it all the time. He knows all of the letters and the sounds they each make. It’s so amazing and so much fun for both of us. I recommend this to any family; it’s been wonderful for us.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's Friday! Do Something For YOU!

The weekend is fast approaching. I'm sure you've had a BUSY week just like me! Women (especially MOMS) are notorious for taking care of everyone but themselves.

I wanted to share some quick pampering tips that will give you the little boost that you need!

Listen to your favorite music - When was the last time you bought yourself a new CD of your favorite artist? Turn on some motivating music for yourself. Listen to music to relax or pump up the volume and dance while you do the laundry.

Light some candles - Gather a few scented candles and light them for a soothing effect. Be sure to keep a few of the scents you like best on hand so you never run out.

Bubble bath - Fill your bath tub with hot water. Squirt in some nice-smelling bubble bath. Scents like lavender, mint and vanilla contribute a calming aroma.

Rose petal soak - Instead of using bubble bath or bath salts, drop some rose petals in your water just before you get ready to soak. The combination of the hot water and the aroma of the rose petals will relax your entire body!

Rose petal foot soak - Soak your feet for twenty minutes in warm water with rose petals. The smell from the rose petals have a calming effect and the foot soak is sure to be a treat for mom’s tired feet.

Manicure and pedicure - What mom doesn’t deserve a nice pampering manicure and pedicure! Plan a special day out alone for this special treat. If you can’t afford to pay for this, invite a girlfriend and take turns pampering each other.

Save face - Buy an inexpensive tube of facial mask and soothing cream. Give yourself a facial while relaxing in the tub or soaking your feet in a rose petal foot soak.

Mother-daughter pampering - All moms need special pampering, but don’t forget to include your daughters from time to time. If you have a younger daughter, use some of these pampering tips we’ve provided for a fun mother-daughter night. Take turns giving each other facials and manicures, rubbing lotion on your feet or combing your hair. If you have an older daughter, save and plan for a special mother-daughter pampering day at the spa.

If you want some other great ideas, get the FREE Hot Mama Makeover Guide.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Happy November!

Throughout this month I'll give you a smattering of holiday recipes for you to include in your upcoming gatherings. Some are classics and some are brand new.

Here's a great one for you:

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup brown sugar
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs and oil. Mix well. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir well. Fold in the cranberries. Transfer mixture to two lightly greased loaf pans. Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for approximately 45 to 55 minutes or until golden and baked through. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely.


If you like this recipe and want more, sign up for the Mom's Niche News FREE biweekly newsletter at:
Every issue has: great "mom" articles, anything from parenting issues to pampering yourself; recipes; craft ideas; and product reviews for the busy mom!

Send me some of your great recipes - I'd love to use them on the website and in the newsletter too!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Still Basking in the Sugar Afterglow

How did you fare this Halloween?

Used to be that question meant, "how much candy didya get?"
Today, for me, it means "how bad do your feet hurt?", "do you have a hangover?" and "has the sugar buzz worn off yet?"

And the answers are...
1. not bad at all
2. not much
3. no

So overall, it was a great Halloween!

Here's a pic of my middle and my youngest:

He was a ghoulish ghoul (sans the mask in this pic) and she was Tigger. All she cared about were those Smarties in her hand!

And here's a pic of little Tigger and yours truly after the festivities were over...she had lost her costume already.

I realized that I left my beloved husband out of here ya go - a pic of the hubs and the neighbor...

mine's the one without the head :)

Last but not least...I think my son and my husband both forgot to clean up last life story.
Ya gotta love Halloween - hope yours was as much fun as ours! Share some stories with me!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Ghosts and goblins will be out tonight. Here are some last minute tips on trick-or-treating with your little ones...

  • Wear bright colors - Both parents and kids should wear brightly colored clothing. If you are wearing a costume that is dark in color, apply reflective tape to parts of your clothes or shoes. (Many communities now enforce a trick-or-treating curfew to prevent children from roaming after dark. Be sure to check for any curfew rules that may apply to your community.)

  • Be sure your child can see - Smaller children love store-bought costumes that come complete with a facemask. Before you leave the house, double-check to make sure your child can see through the eyeholes of the mask. This will help to prevent them from tripping, falling or running into something while they trick-or-treat.

  • Obey the rules - If you are trick-or-treating in a city, remember to follow traffic safety rules. Always look both ways before crossing the street. Stay on the sidewalks and walk at a normal pace.

  • Visit familiar places ONLY! - Take your children to trick-or-treat at places where you know people. Try not to take them to strange houses or places that look unsafe. Remember the “never talk to strangers,” rule!

  • Inspect all candy - This is a commonly known rule of trick-or-treating, and yet so many parents don’t follow it. Parents should remove all unwrapped candy from buckets (cupcakes, homemade candy, etc.). There are just too many dangers to eating unwrapped candy or treats to take a chance with your child. Look for holes in plastic wrappers as well. safe...and HAVE FUN!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Read to Your Child...It's So Important!

I love to read to my kids. My 2-1/2 yr old is SO into books. I couldn't be happier!

This summer, we went to the library every week and checked out 3 or 4 books. By the 2nd day, she would have most of them memorized and then she would "read" to me before nap and bedtime.

Here are some of our favorites from the summer:

Green Eggs and Ham

The Foot Book

Dr. Suess's ABC

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?

The Cat in the Hat

You'll notice that all of these are Dr. Suess books. I loved most of them as a child and found a couple in the last 10 years when my older kids were that age. The rhyming and sing-songy lyrics are great for this age kid.

Tell me some of your favs - we're always looking for new books to conquer!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cool Halloween Recipes

I found a few cool last minute Halloween recipes for that party you might be having this weekend or for the special day on Tuesday!

Pond Worms
4 serving package green jello
4 plastic clear plastic cups Jelly worms or snakes

Prepare jello according to package instructions and leave to cool in refrigeration for approximately 1 hour. You need the jello to slightly thicken so “worms” don’t sink but not fully set. Insert gummy worms into jello and place back in refrigerator to finish setting.

Spooky Graveyard:
1 package instant pudding (vanilla or banana) and/or vanilla ice cream
1 pack of oreo cookies (crushed)
Milano or graveyard shaped cookies
Assortment of Halloween candies

Prepare pudding according to package instructions and place in serving bowl. Alternatively you can use vanilla ice cream. We used both a mixture of pudding and vanilla ice cream. Place crushed oreo or other chocolate cookies over pudding/ice cream and insert graveyard shaped cookies and candies to make a spooky graveyard. There are tons of different ways to make this look cute the kids will really enjoy decorating it. Really easy and tasty.

Devil Eggs
Hard boiled eggs
Cream cheese
Sliced olives
Place eggs in large pot of water and boil until fully cooked (it’s best to let them really set, about 12 minutes). Slice the eggs in half and scoop out the yolk, place in a small bowl. Mash all the yolks with a little cream cheese. Carefully place cream cheese and yolk mixture back into egg and decorate with an olive slice and ketchup for a blood shot effect. Gross but fun.

Scary Eyes
Cream Cheese
Wash and peel carrots. Cut into rounds for eyes. Place a little cream cheese in the center of each carrot and top with a raisin. Super easy and healthy.

Ghostly hands
Rubber/latex gloves
Cranberry juice or fruit punch
If you’re going to drink from this bowl please make sure you turn latex gloves inside out and thoroughly wash before filling with water. Alternatively you can just use this for decorative purposes.
Fill bowl a half and half mixture of fruit punch or cranberry juice and sparkling soda or water. Cut latex glove from around icy hand (you may need to place under running water for a second or two) and add to bowl. Kind of morbid but a big hit with the kids.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Classified Ad Website

I discovered this new website this evening. I've joined and already placed my first ad! It's fun, easy and a good way to get your products out there! See the info below:

There's a new classified ads website in town, and it's purpose is to help you SELL MORE and KEEP MORE of your profit! Booster's Classifieds features a colorful, animated canine mascot named Booster. The fun and family-friendly marketplace offers free membership and absolutely NO listing fees and NO commissions for its members. The free flyer and sign-making feature is an added time and money-saver for those who want to promote their ads offline. Try it out today at

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This Will Bring a Tear to Your Eye and a Smile To Your Face

My middle child - Grayson, the only boy - is 9 years old and in the 4th grade. He had his book fair yesterday at school. Now he knows that I really don't like to spend the kind of money they charge at the book fair and I usually opt to purchase books elsewhere. I had no idea that he even had his book fair until he got off the bus yesterday.

"Mom, I had book fair today."

"Oh, that's nice...did you take some money?"

"Yes, I grabbed some of my money on the way out this morning."
I must interject with this note - he is a SAVER of money. Anything he makes for doing chores or gets for birthdays and holidays goes right in his piggy bank. We are often borrowing $20 when our till runs dry.

"Did you find anything good?"

"Yeah, I got a computer game and this other book that looked pretty good. Oh, and I got a Diego book for Livvie."
Livvie is his 2-1/2 yr old sister (half-sister) whom he adores.

"Wow, that was nice!"

"Yeah, I figured she would like it. When can I give it to her?"

"How about later when it's a special time?"


Later on in the evening we're all getting ready for bed and Livvie asks to read a book. I asked Grayson if maybe he had something special to read to Livvie. He had forgotten all about it. He jumped up off of the couch and said "C'mon Livvie, let me go read you a story." She gave hugs and kisses to everyone and toddled up the steps after him.

He preceded to read her the Diego story PLUS another book, tuck her in and kiss her goodnight. I was so touched by his generosity and his eagerness to make his little sister happy and help me out by putting her to bed for the night.

It's the little things in life...

Monday, October 23, 2006

[bump] Maternity Clothing

Expectant moms will appreciate this. I ran across a great giveaway for trendy new maternity clothing.

[bump] provides maternity clothing with cute sayings. [bump] being a clever anagram for baby under manufacturing process.

GIVEAWAY CONTEST: Every item of [bump] apparel has a creative saying on it. You can be entered to win the above shown [bump]-tee this week by submitting your own creative [bump] shirt saying in the form on the main page of Baby Talk Radio. Enter at:

Shop at for a great Christmas gift! Use the special coupon code and get 10% off any purchase: BTR10.

That's cute - too bad it wasn't around when I was pregnant...

My Special "Pick Me Up"

Coffee...the nectar of the Gods. Well, most days it feels like that - I can't wait to get that first cup of coffee and the first jolt of energy that comes from it.

There are those days, however, when I don't even feel like even MAKING coffee. It's on those particular days that I fill the pot with water, put in the filter, measure out 6 heaping teaspoons of those little brown granules and Grab My Favorite Mug! This is no ordinary mug. This is a special mug!

About 7 or 8 years ago, I got my hands on this mug from work. We do imprinted promotional items and had an overrun of mugs sitting in the office. I thought the artwork on it was particularly cool, so I grabbed one and took it home. Little did I know that this mug with the "cool artwork" would bring me so much joy.

There is an artist in our town who specializes in murals. He goes by Happy the Artist. He has been painting for over 50 years and his work can be seen all over the country. This mug that I love so much has Happy's artwork on it. Whenever I wake up in a questionable mood or am feeling especially tired, I make sure to grab the "Happy the Artist" mug, pour that cup of coffee and find my mood suddenly transforming.

It's funny how one little thing can make such a difference in your day, but it does! I swear by it!

Tell me what your special "thing" is that picks up your mood. It could be an inanimate object (like me), a phrase, a perfume, a bath...anything at all.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Old Music - Rediscovered

Today, I rediscovered The Corrs. A wonderful Irish family band (3 sisters and a brother) who have the smoothest sound and draw you in as you listen. I originally discovered them back in 2000(?) when their single Breathless came out. They even had a special concert from Dublin on VH1 a couple of years later. I remember laying on my bed with my son (he was right around 5) and just drifting away in their wonderful voices.

Check them out!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

39...and Counting

I turned 39 two weeks ago today. Not a big deal really. I'm definitely not feeling 39. Sometimes I feel like a kid!

I've been reflecting on my last 39 years and reveling in the fact that this is, in fact, my 40th year of life! I know that probably makes my parents feel old, but it just makes me feel happy. I've accomplished a lot so far: bachelor's degree, master's degree, three kids, great marriage, lovely home, some great learning experiences with my professional career - I'm so lucky! I really don't want for anything in my life...or do I?

There's always something unfinished...something that you still want to do with your life before you die. Here's a list of mine:

  • learn to play the fiddle
  • travel to Greece
  • learn to ballroom dance
  • learn...really LEARN about different wines
  • break 100 on the golf course (no mulligans)
  • get in the car and travel across the country without an agenda or hotel reservations (better take a map, though...just in case!)
  • travel to the South of France
  • read War and Peace

There are a lot of things I didn't list (only because they didn't jump out at me right this second). I realize that many of these things can't or won't happen until the kids are grown and my husband and I are looking at our retirement years. That's okay. Looking at that list makes me feel younger. It makes me feel like I still have a bunch to do before it's all over.

I'll just take one day at a time and one thing on the list at a time... for now I'm working on the golf one - once I break 100, then I can change that to "break 90 on the golf course (no mulligans)."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Back to the "Old Grind"

My husband and I just came off of a wonderful weekend...sans kids! That doesn't happen very often - at least in this household.

We actually left Friday to a RESORT to play GOLF with two other ADULT couples. We stayed in a great house. The weather was fantastic! The golfing left a bit to be desired, but who cares when you're having so much fun? All of us were sad to leave the house of fun and get back to reality...back to the "old grind." We had a 2-1/2 hour drive back still reliving the wonderful memories of the weekend and vowing to make it an annual event.

It was actually good to have that drive back to sort of get my bearings and start preparing for the drudgery that lay ahead - the cooking, the laundry, the picking up after the kids, the fighting...

You may ask yourself..."what happened when you walked through that door?...dishes piled in the sink?...dirty clothes piled up? lying all over the place?" I'm glad you asked :) What happened was my 2-1/2 year old angel came running at me with arms stretch wide and yelled "Mommy's home!"

Grind? What grind? I am the luckiest woman I know!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Picky Eater? Some Tips to Help...

I have been blessed with 3 GREAT eaters. Only this year has my 11 year old (girl) begun to turn her nose up at certain foods - personally, I think they're becoming "uncool." If you have not been as blessed and mealtime has turned into a fight every night, read on for some helpful tips to prevent your young ones from becoming picky eaters.

1. Make mealtime a family affair. Today’s families are so busy; you can rarely find a day when everyone is home at the same time. It’s often difficult to sit down at the dining table and eat a meal together. Challenge yourself to start eating dinner together at least three days each week. When your toddler sees his siblings, or parents, eating their veggies and meat, they will be more likely to try what’s on their plate, too. (See a Family Dinner Video here)

2. Don’t offer alternatives. It’s too easy to walk into the trap of cooking two or more meals. Some mothers with two or three children fix something special for each child. Stop the cafĂ©-mentality in your family. Cook one healthy meal for everyone in the family to enjoy. Your toddler will fight with you at first, but eventually will realize that you are not a short-order cook anymore.

3. Introduce one new food at a time. Don’t try to overload your toddler’s palate with too many new foods at once. Present your toddler with one new vegetable for one week. He may not even try it for several days, but continue to offer it to him each time you cook it anyway. If you offer him too many new foods at once, he may feel overwhelmed and not attempt to try anything new at all.

4. Fewer or no more snacks. Don’t offer your toddler snacks or drinks throughout the day. Give her one snack at the same time each day. Instead of sweetened drinks, let your toddler drink water. By eliminating snacks throughout the day, your toddler will most likely be hungrier at mealtime.

5. Make mealtime fun. If your toddler plays with the food on her plate, don’t make a big deal about it. Instead, focus your toddler’s attention on something else. Engage your family in conversation about everyone’s day. Share your toddler’s accomplishment that day, like learning a new color or talking about a special activity. Draw your toddler’s attention away from the plate, and she is likely to eat her food before she even realizes it.

Dealing with a toddler who is a fussy eater isn’t fun or easy. Try these five tips on your fussy eater, and then implement your own ideas. Many parents deal with picky eaters, so remember that you are not alone!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What's Important in Life? Family and FRIENDS!

A very special girlfriend took me out to lunch today for a belated birthday celebration. We aren't able to get together as much as we used to, so we spent an hour and a half catching up, talking, laughing, breaking our diets and having a great time!

We all have daily responsibilities that keep us busy...and then BUSY takes over!

Just remember, family and FRIENDS are especially important in your life. Take the time to talk, laugh and re-connect with them.

Thanks Sandy!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stuff To Hold Your Stuff - a Review

Lisa Barker of, a friend and contributing writer to Mom's Niche News - our biweekly newsletter - has graciously sent me a book review for the 9-12 "tween" age group. Read on...

Rating: ** (Highly Recommended)
Title: Stuff To Hold Your Stuff by Ellen Warwick
Illustrated by Bernice Lum.
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Spiral-bound: 80 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press
ISBN: 1553377451
Review by: Lisa Barker of

Make your own tote bags, wallets, purses, handy bags and more. A "you-can-do-it" book with detailed, but easy to follow instructions with great illustrations and plenty of creative room for each girl to craft and show off her own unique style. A great book for girls aged 9 -12...and hapless homemakers. Girls will love making "stuff to hold your stuff" for themselves and friends as gifts or just for fun. You don't need to be a super-seamstress; you'll be sure to find something in this book that you can make...and with a little help from mom (for those who need it), there's no limit! The book itself makes a GREAT gift.

Something to think about for the upcoming gift-giving holidays?

Halloween Costume Dilemma

Aaahhh...Halloween. I love this time of year - mainly because I love the cooler weather, the falling leaves, and switching over to my fall/winter wardrobe!

The eternal question around our house this time of year is "what are you going to be for Halloween?" Our tradition every Halloween is to dress up as a family (mom and dad too) and trick-or-treat around the neighborhood. I keep all of the old costumes upstairs in a trunk that we recycle in some form or fashion every year.

My 2 year old is forever changing her mind on what she wants to be. First it's a dragon, then a "treasure chest," then a butterfly and on and on until I get blue in the face. Her decision was made last night - Tigger!!! We found a great costume on sale (60% off) and couldn't resist. We got home and she immediately tried it on and bounced around the house :)

Now for the other two...what will they be? Same goes for me...I'm getting tired of the same clown, spider witch and pirate wench costumes. I think we're going to make them - yes, make them. Me...who doesn't sew. I ran across this great book of NO-SEW homemade costumes. You can find it here: There are so many great ideas - from a soda can to a tube of toothpaste to a kitten and a ball of yarn! I think I might choose those last two for me and the hubby :)

Same dilemma at your house? Let me know what creative ideas you've come up with for this year's trick-or-treat fest.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What's For Dinner...Hello? Is Anybody HERE For Dinner?

I have 3 children - ages 11, 9 and 2-1/2. They keep me busy...REALLY BUSY! Soccer class...the list goes on and on.

What has happened to "dinnertime" in our society? I remember when I was young, we sat down to a homecooked meal every night of the week - all of us. Even when we got older and had basketball, softball, volleyball and football practices and games...we still somehow found the time to sit down as a family and eat dinner together.

Society has become so fast-paced that life begins to fly right by us and we tend to forget the IMPORTANT things...talking with our children for starters. What better place to find out what's going on in our children's lives than at the dinner table?

I'm just as guilty as the next mom...practices, games, dad works late, I don't feel like cooking...all of those things tend to get in the way of family time. My goal every week is to sit down to a meal as a family 3 nights during the work/school week. This might not sound like a lot, but it works for us right now. It's a great time to talk about the highs and lows of the day. It's also a great place to hash out problems with homework that may not have been resolved yet. I find out A LOT about my kids' thoughts, fears and dreams just sitting down at the table together.

A colleague of mine has just produced a touching video - you can find it here:
The Family Dinner Video
You might want to get out the tissues :)

Here's a challenge for you: sit down to dinner as a whole family at least 2 times this week. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just "be" together. Let me know how it goes...