Friday, January 29, 2010

Baskets, Baskets, Everywhere: Using baskets to Organize Your Home

As you walk from room to room in my home, one of the things you will notice is the number of baskets.  I just noticed the other day that I have baskets in every room of our house.  I love to organize and to reorganize again and again.

Baskets come in all shapes and sizes, with and without lids, and in all price ranges.  They can be found at almost any store from grocery stores to home decor stores.  They can also be picked up cheaply at thrift stores and garage sales.

Here are some ways to utilize baskets to help you organize your house and cut the clutter:

  • Use decorative baskets to store fruit, dish towels, or stray recipes
  • Use to store crackers, cereal, snacks, etc. (toss/recycle the boxes that these things come in when they are close to empty and store the cellophane bags in a basket so you can clear up shelf space)
  • Use to store cleaning supplies, cleaning sponges, and other cleaning tools
  • In cupboards use small baskets for small items (this works well with baby items such as pacifiers, bottle nipples, etc.)
  • I have a basket with dividers that is perfect for storing utensils and napkins for when we have get-togethers
  • Use baskets to store spare towels (they look pretty and decorative rolled up and placed nicely in a basket)
  • Have a small basket with toiletries for guests to use
  • Use to store hair accessories and combs/brushes 
  • Use to store extra toilet paper so you don't have to rummage in the closet 
  • Store candles, potpourri, and other decorative items (they also make your closet smell good) in baskets
  • Have a basket for socks that have missing mates (I have a whole basket of them that I periodically sort through)
  • Use them to store purses, wallets, and various travel related items
Living Room/Family Room
  • Use to store toys, magazines, hobbies (i.e. crafts)
  • Bread baskets are perfect for storing CDs
  • Roll blankets and place them in baskets for a decorative look (they are easy to pull out for snuggling on the sofa)
  • A small basket can be used to store all your remote controls (if you have gaming systems this is really handy)
  • Use baskets to store files and mail
  • Have a to-do basket filled with items that may need attention (this is where I put papers that need to be signed, newspaper clippings that need to be filed, toys that need maintenance, etc.)
  • I even have a basket that serves as a mini trash can (it has a liner)
  • Use small baskets to collect pens, paper clips, post its and other small office supplies
  • Wash (of course)
  • A small basket can serve as a catch all for jewelry, items that you take from your pockets at the end of the day, and spare change
  • Use a small basket on a table or on the floor for your family to drop their hats, mittens, and scarves
  • A little basket can collect car and house keys (so you always know where they are)
  • Have a basket to store book bags and any other items (such as sports equipment) that your family comes home with from school or work
  • Have a basket on the stairs to put items that belong upstairs so that you can take it up when you go upstairs so you are not running up and down the steps needlessly (unless you like the exercise!)
Baskets always make perfect gifts to!  Just fill them with goodies and present them for birthdays, housewarming gifts, and any other occasion.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mommy's Time Out

No, I didn't do anything bad.  I am not sitting in a corner.  I am joining Theta Mom for Time Out Thursday.

How did I spend an hour of me time this month?

Sweating, stretching, and using muscles that I had forgotten I had.  I just renewed my gym membership yesterday.  I spent a lovely hour in the gym while my daughters were with the wonderful women in the child care there.  

Just walking in the doors yesterday was such a lift to my spirits. The smell of antiseptic, chlorine, and sweat tickled my nose.  Ahhh... I couldn't wait to get to work.

Whether I was on the elliptical, the stationary bike, or using the leg curl machine it was as though my body was remembering the shape it was once in.  I didn't have to multi-task, I didn't have to think, I didn't have to meet any little one's demands.  It was me time.

I am looking forward to more me time tomorrow.

An Ode to the Lifestyle Section

In my former life, I taught World History or more accurately World Cultures.  To stay on top of current events, my tv habits included most of the news programs.  CNN or Fox News could always be heard in our house.  My reading diet included The Wall Street Journal, our local newspaper, and USA Today

Today, my reading habits and tv viewing habits have certainly changed.  I still read the newspaper at breakfast but I usually never make it past the Lifestyle section.  I love the "On the Cheap" column on the weekends.  I try not to be wasteful but I have nothing on how frugal some of these people can be.  Where else would I find useful hints such as using maxi pads on my swiffer or using the cereal box inserts as mini garbage bags, to wrap food, or to use as wax paper?  I kid you not. The best part of the Sunday paper is the circulars and the coupons. 

TV is limited when my daughter's are awake to Disney or Nickelodeon.  I can tell you what Dora or Mickey did today and who the host was of the morning show on Sprout.

When my daughters are old enough to start school, and if I enter the education sector again, I am going to have to catch up on all the current events that I've missed. Now this is a bit dramatic.  I do try to catch headline news and some days I do make it through the whole newspaper but most of the time I only get to peruse the main headlines.

I am lucky if I know what the weather is outside on any given day.  I probably should at least make an effort to catch the weather report since I do need to dress my daughters in the morning but it's winter so, guess what, it's going to be cold. 

Three years a go, I would have scoffed if you had told me that I would be this way.  Why do I not stress about this?  I rationalize the new me with the fact that I do try to stay on top of the main headlines even though I may not be able to recite all the facts that go along with them.  I am still me.  I still make time for myself and for my interests and my friends.  My home, my husband, and my daughters are my life though and anything that falls into that realm are my main focus. Priorites change and I have to.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I keep seeing previews for the romantic comedy When in Rome with Josh Duhamel, Kristen Bell, and Angelica Houston so this seemed a fitting picture for today.  In 2006, I visited Europe with my sister-in-law.   This photo is of the Trevi Fountain in Rome.  It has appeared in a myriad of films so many of you may recognize it.  Throwing a coin into the fountain is said to ensure a return trip to Rome.  Since I'm a sucker for superstitions, I had to join other tourists in throwing a coin into the fountain. I can only hope to return one day.

Leg Huggers Product Review

Agoo Apparel makers of Leg Huggers sent me a pair of LegHuggers in the Retro Bulleye pattern to review.  My daughter was in the kitchen when I recieved the package.  As soon as I opened it and she saw the leg warmers, she claimed them as hers.  They fit toddlers and infants such as my six month old.

These are perfect for little ones to wear under dresses instead of tights or with onesies.  They are perfect for my two-year old who is potty training.  Also, they make diaper changes so much easier.  When my youngest starts to crawl, they will protect her little knees from getting rug burn.

What makes Leg Huggers different from other leg warmers?  They are longer and wider so little ones can wear them longer.  They also prevent the little red lines that my daughter has gotten from other brands from the elastic. I like that they are made of bamboo which has many benefits such as being breathable, antibacterial, odor resistant, and they wick away moisture (which prevents overheating or chills from moisture being trapped between the skin and the material).  The bamboo is organic and it also protects your little one from UV rays.  They are also hyperallogenic so they will not irritate sensitive baby skin.  How can you not love a product that is more eco-friendly?

I know many of you are probably thinking that Leg Huggers are going to cost more than other brands but that is not the case.  They are about $10 per pair and they have adorable prints for both boys and girls. They do ship outside the U.S. and Canada.

You can follow Leg Huggers on Facebook.  They have a contest on their fan page until Friday, January 29th where you have the chance to win three pairs of Leg Huggers.  To enter all you have to do is tell them what design you would like to see on a pair of Leg Huggers. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Nighttime Delaying Tactics of a Child

My husband and I tag team at bedtime.  It is the only way to keep our household running somewhat smoothly giving us a chance to get our separate to-do items done so that we can spend some time with each other before we go to bed.  Sometimes our "together time" is comprised of sitting in bed having a tug-of-war over the remote while arguing about whether to watch Cops or Real Housewives of Orange County.

Our routine is this: I put the 6 month old in her crib and my husband tucks in our 2-year old. To bad our 2-year old doesn't stay in bed.  It seems she has this built in antennae that tells her when her daddy has stepped foot on the first floor.  She hops out of bed and stands in the doorway yelling (to make sure she is heard wherever we are in the house).

"Mommy, juice." Ah, yes, the timeless delaying classic.

"Daddy, want kisses. " Daddy is going to work on finishing putting a ceiling up in our basement.

"Sissy, hugs." Sissy can't exactly give hugs since she is only 6 months old.

"I want teeth brushes."  Yep, a child who actually wants her teeth brushed.

"Cheer dolly.  Want cheer dolly." The offending doll that is dressed like a cheerleader and sings "Wiggle It" courtesy of my mother and that is already in her bed, along with fifteen of her closest friends (aka her stuffed animals).

"Mommy mess." The black piece of string laying on the beige colored carpet in the hallway does not constitute a mess.  For those of you that have read previous posts, this seems to be my daughter's favorite phrase.
"Mommy, tissue." I am so not falling for that one.

All these are toddlerese for I am sooo not ready for bed.  Too bad.  Mommy and daddy are ready for bed.  Night-night. 

Note: After a couple minutes she is snuggled up fast asleep in her bed underneath her blanket with her dolly clutched to her chest.  It would seem she does have everything she needs after all.

General Mills Cereal Review

We have all heard the reports that a good breakfast is the best way to start the day.  It helps give your body the fuel it needs.  In most households, cereal is the breakfast of choice due to convenience. Did you know that people who eat cereal eat more fiber and less fat and cholesterol?  They also have lower Body Mass Indexes and healthier body weights. 

Here are some facts about ready-to-eat cereal and children:
  • Only 5% of sugar in our children's diets come from cereals.
  • It is the #1 source of whole grains in our children's diets.
Eating a healthy breakfast helps your children focus on the day ahead of them.  In 1988, a study found that children who ate breakfast  were less likely to get in trouble in school, scored higher on tests, and were absent less.

Back in December, General Mills pledged to reduce the amount of sugar in their cereals that are advertised to children.  They are planning to reduce the amount of sugar to single digit grams in each serving.  It has been shown that cereals targeted at adults have less sugar than those targeting younger consumers.  General Mills is going to try to change this trend.

My daughter loves Cheerios, whether they are plain, the Yogurt Burst Strawberry, or Honey Nut.  She has tried them all.  In fact, these are the only cereal she will eat.  My daughter was a picky eater for the longest time and sometimes she still is.  Our pediatrician recommended giving her cereal if she refuses to eat what I make for dinner.  This has worked well in our house and has kept me from having to make separate meals and it has helped us keep from making her eating habits into a power struggle.

We also have cereal for snacks and use it for edible crafts like necklaces or bracelets.  We take licorice laces (they need to be very thin) and string cheerios on them.  We also use them to make pictures or to practice counting.

To read more about General Mills or the benefits of eating cereal, click here.

General Mills provided me with vouchers for four free boxes of cereal through MyBlogSpark in the hopes that I would write an honest review.  No other compensation was or will be provided.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Derailed Book Review

Derailed: Five Lessons Learned From Catastrophic Failures of Leadership is by Tim Irwin, PhD.  Irwin is also the best-selling author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines derailment as "to cause to run off the rails."  According to Irwin, derailment in the workplace occurs when individuals cannot continue in their current jobs because they are not on the path that they need to be on to be successful.  He uses the analogy of a train running off the rails, a derailment, and how it can lead to disaster.  He details the derailment of six well-known CEOs and the well publicized news of their downfalls.

In his book, Irwin explains how derailment occurs over time. There are four stages that lead up to derailment.  Irwin characterizes the final stage, a fifth stage, as derailment.  He details the failures of Robert Narelli, Carly Fiorina, Durk Jager, Steven Heyer, Frank Raines, and Dick Fuld as CEOs and the leaders of well known companies such as HP and Home Depot.  These individuals were among the best and brightest in the corporate world and yet they failed in their jobs.

How does one "derail"?  A lack of compassion, pride, ignoring the warning signs, and rationalizing why things are not going the way you want all can lead to derailment, according to Irwin.  How do you keep from derailing?  Being open, listening to others, being self aware, listening to the warning signs, being accountable, and being resilient or able to grow from your experiences can all keep you on track. Based on his observations, Irwin proposes five lessons that we can all learn from these individuals' derailments.

I found this book valuable in dealing with everyday situations.  The lessons learned can be applied to everyday situations whether you are a SAHM or a CEO like the individuals profiled in this book.    Our true character often comes out when we are faced with stressful situations.  It is important to always be considerate of others and to be aware of how you react in these situations. Also, strengths can become weaknesses if they run unchecked.  Arrogance is never pretty. We need to look at our selves and to be honest with the person we see.  If we don't, we can become derailed in our personal lives and in the workplace.  There is always time to change.  The question is: Are we humble enough to change what needs to be changed before we derail?

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for sending me a free copy of Derailed in the hopes that I would review it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Songs to Motivate Your Kids: From Counting to Cleaning

One of the ways to get my daughter to move is to sing while we work.  She has started to sing "clean up, it's time to clean up" before nap time and before bedtime.  It makes me smile. I started to wonder if there were other songs we could sing to help motivate her to help me and to help her learn.

Searching the WWW, I came across a comprehensive site called BusSongs.comPreschool also had a large list of songs to sing with your children. The sites also include lyrics for each of the songs.

Experts believe that music helps preschoolers develop better abstract thinking skills.  By singing or playing music, they  are also engaging more of their senses.  Studies have shown that when children enter school, they are more likely to do better in the maths and sciences if they have been exposed to music regularly through song or through learning to play music. They also have more focus, play better with their peers, and have higher self-esteem.

Here are some songs that you can sing with your kids throughout the day .

Hokey Pokey (I modify this to get my daughter dressed)
Dressed in the Morning, Getting Dressed, Old Shoes, New Shoes, Let's Put On Our Socks

Be Our Guest
I'm a Little Teapot
Fruit Salad (from The Wiggles)

Mealtime Song
I'm Getting Very Hungry, It's Off to Lunch We Go, When We Eat Together, and Are You Hungry

Manners, Table Manners, and Friends

Brushing Your Teeth/Loose Teeth/Dentist
I've Been Brushing, Got My Toothpaste, Brush Your Teeth,  A Toothbrush, 
Brush, Brush, Brush, Your Teeth
There's a Hole in Your Smile, The Dentist's Song

Covering Mouths When Sneezing
Sneeze Song, I Need a Tissue, and Cough or Sneeze

Cleaning up
Whistle While You Work
Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho
This is the Way, Clean Up Time, Clean Up Song

Washing Hands
Wash Your Little Hands, Wash Your Hands
Wash, Wash, Wash, Your Hands

Potty Songs (from Potty Training Concepts)
Tinkle, Tinkle, on the Potty

The Alphabet Song
Today Is...
Sunday, Monday 
Months of the Year
This Old Man 
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

The Oompa-Loompa Songs
Give a Little Whistle

This Little Piggy 
What Will You Buy, Clipping Coupons, and Shopping Song (from Everything Preschool)

Car Safety
Safety Belts, Seat Belt Safety, The Car Song, and Buckle Up (Scroll down to find the lyrics)

Bath Time
Splish Splash (Elmo version)

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Rock-a-Bye Baby
Lullaby and Goodnight 
Close Your Eyes Go to Sleep 
Irish Lullaby
Hush Little Baby

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What I Thought I Knew About Food

I thought I ate moderately healthy.  I try to follow the food pyramid guidelines when preparing food for my family.  I try to buy minimally processed foods and try to stick with fresh fruits and veggies.

I recently heard a guest speaker who spoke on nutrition.  It turns out she had a lot to say. The guest speaker who I heard speak had an "ND" and a "MSN" on her business card.  It turns out that she was a Naturopathic Doctor, she had a Master of Science in Nursing, and was board certified in Integrative Medicine. Integrative medicine combines traditional medicine with more holistic approaches to medicine.  Practicitioners believe in treating the whole person and not just the disease.  The speaker had a lot to say and she had an audience of moms who were listening in rapt attention.

What I did know:
  •  Eat a variety of colorful veggies (red, green, yellow, and orange)
  • Avoid processed foods or buy minimally processed foods
  • Steer clear of GMO foods
  • Take a multivitamin
What I didn't know:
  • You crave foods you may be allergic to (Does this explain my constant craving for potato chips?)
  • To help determine if you have a food allergy, take your pulse before you eat and then after you eat (if it is 12 beats more per minute than before you ate then it is possible you have a food allergy)
  • Don't cook with olive oil due to free radicals when cooking above a certain temperature
  • The human body doesn't need milk after weaning
  • Don't eat pork because there are parasites that are still present even after it is cooked (Ick!)
  • Don't use microwaves because it changes the food at a molecular level
  • Eat fruit by itself
  • Don't eat after 4 o'clock
  • The "whites" such as flour, sugar, etc. can prevent nutrients from being absorbed by your body when eating
  • Only use real butter and coconut oil to cook food (I love butter so this sounds good to me!)
  • 50% of each meal should be veggies (including breakfast)
  • Do yoga-helps lymphatic circulation 
The woman who spoke had perfectly good reasons to back up these do's and don'ts.  I couldn't remember all of them.  Many of the moms in the room, including myself, had guilty and incredulous looks. 

In reality most of us could not follow these suggestions simply due to time restrictions, finding other more natural products, and the cost involved.  I know there are a lot of things my daughter does not eat (sometimes the list seems longer than the foods she will actually eat).  A lot of the things the speaker mentioned were also completely opposite of what we are told by the NSDA and traditional medicine.  It is hard to know what to believe when you are given such contradictory information.  Yet, it is food for thought.

In our family, moderation is still the name of the game.  

As one of the moms pointed out, she didn't mention chocolate or wine...they're okay...RIGHT?

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I recently read an article about how the majority of the herd of sea lions that normally delights visitors at Pier 39 in San Franciso had left, probably to chase a food source.  In September 2008, my husband and I had spent a long weekend in Napa Valley and in San Francisco (which is now one of my favorite cities in the U.S.). We had spent about an hour watching the sea lions and their antics, of course the majority of them just lay there snoozing in the sun. Just looking at this picture I can feel my nose wrinkling, because I also haven't forgotten the smell. 

To read more about the sea lions, click here.
To see more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Construction is Over-A New and Improved The Practical Mom Guide

Hi Everyone!  As you can see, my site has a whole new look thanks to Crissy's Blog Design (check out her button in the left sidebar)!  Thanks for bearing with me while my site was under construction and while I was still tweaking!  I hope you enjoy the new look.  You'll find that my blog is a lot easier to navigate now.  Let me know how you like the new and improved site!

A Situation Where "Excuse Me, Please" Will Get You Dirty Looks

photo by brendan76

We have been working on teaching our two-year old manners.  She has mastered (as much as a two-year old can) "please" and "thank you".  Mind you, this does sometimes take a certain amount of prompting. She seems to have difficulty with saying "excuse me", instead she has a tendency to push you out of her way or bulldoze over you.  That is, of course, until the other week when I trekked to the local mall to check out some of the after-Christmas bargains.  My daughter then proved that she knew how to say, "excuse me" again and again and again.

I have one of those unwieldy monstrosities of a stroller.  It is a double stroller. My youngest, in her carseat carrier, sits up front and my oldest sits in the back.  She can also stand but I usually don't encourage that since she likes to hop off while the stroller is moving.  It is safer for everyone involved if she is buckled securely in the stroller.  I feel like a meanie mommy saying that but safety first.  

We visited the bookstore at the mall since they were going out of business. Since the store was 30% off there were pretty many people in the store. From the doorway, I knew that moving through the rows of books and maneuvering around the people clogging the aisles was going to take some finesse.  I bravely made my way into the store.

As we entered the store, I said "excuse me" to a woman who was perusing a book in the middle of the aisle.  She smiled and moved closer to the shelves so I could pass.

The next thing I knew, my little one started to parrot me.  "Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me," she chanted.  With each subsequent "excuse me",  she gave it a little more attitude until she was drawing each syllable out. "Excuuuussse me", "Exxxxcccuuuussse meeee".  She started giggling and moving her head side to side in time with her chanting.

Try explaining to a two-year old (calmly) that while it is polite to say "excuse me", it isn't nice to keep repeating it over and over and over.  Plenty of dirty looks were shot my way as I politely excused my way to the back of the store.  My daughter stopped her little concert after two warnings but the damage was done.  I felt like I was being judged with each glance my way. My daughter then occupied herself with a Dora book (incidentally about manners) that she spied on a shelf.  She asked, "can Emmy look at it, please".  Well, since you asked so nicely...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Denise's Daily Dozen Book Review and Q&A With Denise Austin

Since the birth of my second daughter six months ago, I have not been back to the gym.  While I was pregnant I went to the gym about 2-3 days a week up until I was about eight months pregnant.  Even then I still went walking (at the mall in the air conditioning) and did exercises that the trainer I had met with recommended.  I honestly thought that getting back into the swing of things after my daughter was born would be easy since I had made an effort to stay fit during my pregnancy but is hasn't been.  I am just starting to get back on track.

I had the chance recently to review Denise Austin's Denise's Daily Dozen. In her new book, Denise introduces her Daily Dozen Fitness Plan to get you on the road to a healthier lifestyle. The book outlines 12 exercises for each day of the week that will take you about 12 minutes to do.  The workouts include all types of exercises including cardio, kickboxing, and even yoga.  On a weekly basis, Denise also advises including 12 miles of cardio.  The variety of workouts will keep you from getting bored and losing interest.

Everyone can carve at least 12 minutes out of their day to exercise no matter how busy they are. For days where you may have more time, Denise has included two extra workouts, one for abs and one that is a ballet-inspired barre routine.  She has also included 12 "fidget-cisers", exercises that you can do as you go about your daily life and for those who sit at a desk, she has included a half dozen "tension tamers" that you can do at your desk.  Pictures and explanations on how to do the exercises are included making the exercise program easy to follow. This also allows you to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly to help minimize injury.  I liked that all you needed to follow the exercise plan was a pair of sneakers, two sets of weights (one heavy and one light), and a mat or towel for floor exercises.

The book also includes a meal plan.  The meal plan covers a three week period and it includes recipes and suggested foods for each meal and for snacks along with nutritional information.  Checklists are provided for each day.  The checklists include spaces to check off the daily dozen foods that you should be eating for a balanced diet and whether you have drank your 8 glasses of water.  It also includes spaces to check off if you completed the day's Daily Dozen, some of your weekly cardio miles, and whether you did any fidget-cisers.  This makes it easy to monitor your progress.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the tips (by the dozen) included throughout the book from "12 Ways to Spice Up Your Water" to "12 Ways to Trim Your Body and Your Food Costs", to "Easy Ways to Boost Your Energy".  Denise's characteristic cheerful and motivational outlook are evident throughout.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in trying to live a healthier lifestyle.  This book made me realize that I could fit exercising and eating healthy into my busy days.  The exercises were easy to do and I liked that I didn't need any special equipment, just weights.  What has made me feel better is the fact that I feel that I have accomplished something for myself after just getting a few minutes of exercise.  The recipes are incredibly easy to prepare with fresh ingredients and taste good.  If you made a New Year's Resolution to get fit, this may be the place to start.

If you are a fan of Denise, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter or visit her website.

Q & A with Denise Austin

Denise was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer several questions for The Practical Mom Guide readers.

TPMG: You dedicated your new book, Denise’s Daily Dozen, to your mom and dad.  How have your parents influenced the choices you have made, especially in the career path that you have taken? 
Denise: My parents both helped me develop a love of fitness. Many people know my father was a professional baseball player, but my mother was also active and was a New York State jump-roping champ in her teens. As I grew up, my parents really instilled a sense of “you can do anything , or be anything you want to be, if you follow your dreams,” which definitely influenced the path that I have taken. I try to now give my daughters that same encouragement. As a child and teen  and into college, I was very involved in competitive gymnastics, which taught me all about discipline and dedication. My parents were extremely supportive of that. My dad in particular had an unbelievably strong work ethic. He was never late for anything, and always told us, “The harder you work, the luckier you get!” which really stuck with me. My mom, who has been my personal hero, was a busy working mother but never lost her happy attitude and positive, enthusiastic outlook on life. I try every day to embody my dad’s discipline and my mom’s positivity. With those two role models, I am who I am today. 

TPMG: What motivated you to write Denise’s Daily Dozen?
Denise: I know how busy and stressed out people are these days, and I wanted to show people that they really can fit in the time to be healthy – that it’s worth it and that it doesn’t take as much time as many think it does. That’s why in Denise’s Daily Dozen I give exercises that can be done quickly, in 12 minutes a day – I wanted to show readers the minimum daily requirement they need to get fit. I also sought to simplify people’s eating habits. I gave 12 power foods that people should eat for a balanced diet, plus recipes that are quick and easy to make and can easily be fit in to a busy schedule. Also, people are always asking me, “What do you really eat? What do you cook for your family?” and this book is my answer to those questions!

TPMG: Your Daily Dozen incorporates different workouts (from cardio and kickboxing to yoga), do you have a favorite workout?
Denise: I love all forms of exercise, and they’re all important. But I’d say my favorite things to do are my 30-minute at-home workouts in the morning with my husband, because it’s our time to talk before we go off to our busy workdays. I also love taking walks on the weekends with my girlfriends. It’s an opportunity to chat and catch up on each other’s lives. We love to “walk and talk”!

TPMG: You recommend exercising for at least 12 minutes each day with the 12 daily exercises and doing at least 12 miles of cardio exercise a week in your book.   How many times a week and for how long should the average woman workout altogether?
Denise: That truly is the minimum daily requirement that any woman needs. But don’t forget to sneak in exercise in other ways, wherever you can. This means parking further away from the supermarket; taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work; bringing your kids to the park instead of to the movies; and doing squats in the bathroom while you brush your teeth or leg lifts in the kitchen while you prepare dinner. Those little moments of fitness really do add up to a healthy, active lifestyle!

TPMG: You look amazing.  What is your exercise regimen?
Denise: Thank you!! Well, I constantly mix up my workouts between toning, stretching, and burning fat.  Those are the big three, and it really takes all three of those to add up to total-body fitness. So I alternate between my exercise DVDS, maybe doing toning with my Body Makeover Mix one day and doing lots of fat-burning moves from my 3-Week Boot Camp DVD the next. By alternating each day, I’ve covered every part of the body by the week’s end.  Then I also walk outdoors whenever I can, plus sneak in little moments of fitness during the day whenever possible. I also do yoga and Pilates to keep myself flexible. I really love mixing it up -- I never get bored!

TPMG: How should our exercise regimen change as we get older?
Densie: As we get older, staying active and fit becomes increasingly important. After all, exercise helps us fight gravity! More importantly, as we get older we tend to lose muscle mass, which can lower metabolism and lead to weight gain — even in people who have never had a weight problem before. Make a commitment to moving your body throughout the day and dedicating time each week to power-walking, aerobics, or some other form of cardio, which helps protect you from cardiovascular disease, a leading killer of women. Exercise also lowers your risk for bone problems (like osteoporosis) and maintaining flexibility helps prevent injuries.

TPMG: What staples should women keep in their pantry and fridge to help them create healthy and quick meals?
Denise: There are plenty of meals out there that are quick and easy to prepare – Denise’s Daily Dozen is filled with them! Plus, these days, there are so many healthy options that come frozen or ready-to-go. I suggest you fill your freezer with bags of pre-cut veggies that steam in the microwave (just make sure you don’t get the ones that come drenched in a cheese or butter sauce – too fattening!). You can also buy brown rice the same way, which cooks quickly. Fill your freezer with lots of lean protein options like chicken breast, and broil or grill a large batch at a time to use in salads or fajitas all week long.  I also suggest keeping lemons, garlic, and onions around – they are a great way to add flavor, not calories, to any healthy meal.

TPMG: We all know that we tend to eat unhealthier foods when pressed for time or on the go.  What are some suggestions for grab-and-go snacks?
Denise: The best grab-and-go snacks are low in sugar but high in protein and/or fiber – or both of which help keep your hunger levels in check. Stash good-for-you snacks like  raw almonds, dried fruit, or dry whole grain breakfast cereal in plastic baggies and keep them in your car or purse. Boil a dozen eggs on the weekend and store them in the fridge for a high-protein snack that’s very healthy and easy to eat when you’re on the run. Cutting up fruits and veggies works the same way – just make a point to mix up the variety of which ones you’re eating from week to week. (Carrot sticks get boring quickly when you eat them week in and week out!)  The key is advance preparation – it protects you from the temptation of vending machines or drive-thrus.

TPMG: Your book is full of positive thoughts and motivational messages.  How do you stay so upbeat and positive?  Any words of wisdom for other women out there who struggle each day?
Denise: Keeping an upbeat attitude is so important for health and wellness! I inherited my sunny outlook from my mother, who always made us see the bright side of any negative situation. I tell women (and men)  to concentrate on becoming a “glass half full” type of person, and you’ll be surprised at how much more enjoyment you can get out of life. An optimistic outlook can awaken you to new possibilities that often are buried by self-doubt and negativity. Just remember: With all the things in life we can’t control, there’s one thing you can control: your attitude. Make it positive!

TPMG: Any advice for moms who are trying to balance taking care of the kids, home, and work while trying to find time for themselves?  How do you pamper yourself?
Denise: Taking time out for you is so important! Every day — or, at a minimum, every week — do something for yourself and let everyone know that that time is yours and can't be rescheduled. Those few hours can be spent getting a manicure, starting a new hobby, or simply sitting down in a quiet room with a good book. This is not about being selfish. Every woman needs to recharge her batteries, and that's okay! Once you get into the habit of spending nonnegotiable time with yourself, you'll start to see a difference — both in your body and your mood. You’ll be a better mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend because of it! One of my favorite ways to pamper myself is by soaking in a warm bath – just add candles, delicious-smelling bath salts, and dim lighting, and it’s just like an at-home spa!

TPMG: How has having children inspired you in your career?
Denise: Well, I believe that fitness is of constant importance during all times of life, so I was careful to exercise during both of my pregnancies. I even taped one of my exercise videos when I was eight months pregnant! And after both babies, I had to bounce back to my pre-baby weight quickly – each time, I had just six weeks to get back in shape because of my work schedule. In fact, the ratings for my ESPN show skyrocketed after I had just had a baby – I think people wanted to see what my tummy looked like! So, yes, having my daughters really motivated me to exercise and eat right. Other than that, I never wanted to push my career or love of fitness too strongly on my daughters, but when they were young I had them be part of my Fit Kids video -- an experience which we all loved and which helped them see how fun exercise could be. Now that they’re older, I just  try to motivate them and encourage their personal dreams as much as possible, as my parents did for me. While they’re both proud of me and what I do, to them, I’m still just mom!

TPMG: Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year?
Denise: Yes! January is a great time to recharge your batteries for the year ahead as well as create a few, clear strong goals for yourself. My New Year's resolution is to vary my workout — mixing it up constantly from Pilates to yoga to boot camp workouts to interval training to using kettlebells. And, I'm going to make sure I take vitamins every single day.

TPMG: Thank you much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions!
Denise: You’re welcome! I’m so happy to help out -- thanks for reading Denise’s Daily Dozen!

I was provided a free copy of Denise's new book from Hachette Book Group in the hope that I would provide an honest review.  No other form of compensation was recieved.  My opinions expressed are solely my own.  I was made aware of this opportunity through The Product Review Place.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How to Keep Yourself From Cringing When You Hear the "C" Word

 photo by Dollface-1

What is that dreaded "C" word?  Chores.  We all have them.  For us SAHMs it's just everyday life from dawn to dusk.  They are our "job".  There are people who think that I stay home because I like to spend my day cleaning the house.  Are they kidding?  While I take pride in my house and try to stay on top of things there are days where zero, zip, nada, gets done.  Nursing an infant and feeding a toddler, potty training, changing diapers, quelling tempers, and cleaning up messes comprises most of my day.

For moms who work and then come home to do chores and take care of the kids, my hat goes off to you.  If I was still working in education where there was no end to the work since I always had papers or projects to grade or lessons to prepare, I would have probably lost it by now since I am not good at finding balance in my life.  While I have no magic answers for how to avoid chores altogether, beyond hiring a maid, I do have some tips for making them more bearable.

Tips for Those Who Dread Chores

1. Indulge yourself
Give yourself a break after you check some items off of your to-do list or reward yourself with a piece of chocolate.  Sometimes it's okay to indulge.

2. Lists
It helps you focus on what needs to get done and can help you keep from feeling overwhelmed. It can also be gratifying to check things off of your to-do list.  Even if the bulk of the work doesn't get done just crossing off one or two items can give you a sense of accomplishment.

3. Move it to music
Dancing around while you do some chores like dishes or vacuuming helps you burn extra calories and it provides a mood lift.

4. Get the kids involved
Involve your family in the chores.  It helps provide a sense of family teamwork and it teaches your children responsibility.

5. Daydream while you work
Sometimes it helps make the chores go faster, especially for those that can be monotonous such as folding laundry, dusting, or mopping.  A little "what if" never hurt anyone. 

6. Switch it up
If you hate putting away clothes, don't wait until right before bedtime to do it when you are more likely to feel tired.  The last thing you will want to tackle at 11 pm is a mountain of laundry on your bed.  Instead of doing them in the evening try completing some chores in the early afternoon or morning.  If your not a morning person, doing some chores at night may make you dread them less.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Over or Under

This seems to be the universal debate between husbands and wives.  Which way do you roll your toilet paper?  Actually I had to look when I saw this poll!  I had no idea.  After checking all three bathrooms in our house, it seems to be over, probably just because it's habit, I guess.  Honestly, I doubt my husband would even notice if it was under.

Of course, we just started putting the roll of toilet paper back on the toilet roll holders.  With a two year old potty training, a roll of toilet paper was just too much temptation to resist and she would pull the entire roll off the tube if we let her.

Join in the debate and visit Cottenelle to voice your opinion on over or under!  If you leave a comment to this post, you have a chance to win 1 of 10 gift baskets, Cottenelle is giving away.  Post a comment by January 29th, 2010.  Cottonelle will choose one comment by random from all entries they receive.

Good luck!

By writing this post I am participating in a contest to win a month's worth of free toilet paper as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club.  Who couldn't use free toilet paper?  If I win, it will be donated to a local non-profit organization.

What Makes a Great Teacher?

As a former educator I love reading education articles.  Someone had tweeted about this article online and I had to check it out.  As a parent, school is looming in the distance for my daughters but even I know how quickly time flies.  I am just getting ready to look at preschools for my two year old.  Can you believe that you have to start calling in January to have your child enrolled in a preschool for September? 

In an age where test scores rule and many parents choose to homeschool their children or use cyberschool, the question is often asked about how to measure teacher effectiveness. The article on The Atlantic is called "What Makes a Great Teacher".   How do you quantify qualities that make a good teacher?  An associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania and her peers seem to have determined a way to quantify perseverance.  It seems that based on teachers in the Teach for America Program (they recruit teachers for urban and rural schools), teachers who persevered, had long-term goals, and were satisfied with their lives made better teachers.  Other predictors included college grade point average the last two years of college and meeting or exceeding previous leadership goals. There are also video links that allow you to take a peak inside the classroom of four teachers who demonstrate effective teaching skills.  

Since we as parents are our little ones first teachers and we continue to be role models, this article and the videos were reminders of how we can better teach our children.  It's not just about subject matter but also about making our children believe in themselves and that they can do whatever they set their minds to.  It is also about consequences and accountability.  It is also about working with our children's teachers to make sure our children are getting the best education possible.  Maybe one day, our children will be at the head of the class.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I kept seeing pictures on other sites on Wordless Wednesdays.  I thought I would join in on the fun. 

 I doubt any explanation is needed for this picture.  She is sitting on the lid to her toy box.
Oh, the imagination of little ones.

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What a Mess!

My car has both of our daughters' car seats installed.  Whenever we go anywhere as a family, we use my car and I always drive my car whether I have the girls or not.

The other week my husband wanted to make a Dunkin Donuts run.  I didn't want to go along since I had laundry and a bunch of other never ending chores to do.  Going along for a ride held no appeal.  Of course, I probably could have caught another 15 minutes of sleep, which I will not usually pass up.  But it was almost our 5 month old's feeding time and mommy has to be around for that since she does not take a bottle, at least not without a lot of tears.  And screaming.  Did I mention the quivering lip that makes my heart bleed? 

I did suggest, rather nicely, that he could take our two year old with him for company. She loves nothing more than pointing out all the landmarks.  "Look, library...look light,  Christmas tree house (don't quite know where she got that one)..snow...Daddy...donuts,". My husband was shocked she recognized Dunkin Donuts on one of our excursions. Until I pointed out, a trip through the drive-thru has become a weekend ritual since our second munchkin was born. We usually stop on our way to somewhere.

He came breezing through the door about 20 minutes later exclaiming, "Emily tell your mommy what you told me!"

My darling looked up at me with big eyes, "mommy's car a mess".  To punctuate this, she holds her arms up and squels, "what a mess."

I look at my husband accusingly, "you taught her that!"

"No I did not," he replies.


"Really, I didn't.  She said it when I was buckling her into her car sear.  This is your fault." He starts to eat his bagel grinning at me.  "Your the one always saying, 'what a mess' when she happens to throw the remnants of her breakfast on the floor or when she knocks over her milk or when she overturns the cats water dish. Don't blame me."

You know, I think he's telling the truth.  I do say that to her.  A lot.  If we don't take her food away as soon as she is done eating, it may become a flying projectile or food for the cat, except our cat doesn't eat people food.  Ever.  I walk out to my car to survey the "mess".  Yep, my daughter is right.  It's a mess. A huge mess.  It's just that with a toddler and an infant just getting them into a house can be an ordeal.  I have a tendency to leave all the baby paraphernalia in the car.  It doesn't help that I suffer from, "I'll do it tomorrow syndrome".

My daughter's purse that usually contains her Barbie mirror, ring, and notepad  lies empty on the back seat between the two car seats.  Its contents lying on the floor amidst the goldfish crackers and cheerios that were a snack at some point.  An empty sippy cup is also on the floor, probably thrown there after my daughter emptied it.  A scarf, two hats, and a pair of sunglasses are also on the seat under the bjorn baby carrier that has been in the car since we went hunting for pumpkins in October.  The overstuffed diaper bag was open and overflowing on the floor, a spit up cloth and a recieving blanket hanging over the side.  Diapers jammed in the top.  A stuffed bear also had found his way to the floor. Underneath the diaper bag lay a file folder stuffed with papers. 

Needless to say, my daughter learning to say, "what a mess" propelled me to action.  My backseat was cleaned out within minutes.  Really, it was only partly my mess.  Let's give credit where credit was due.  Vacumming would have to wait though until it was no longer in the single digits outside.  I wasn't that motivated.  I went back inside and told my daughter and my husband, who were enjoying their doughnuts, that "Mommy had cleaned up her mess".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Driving On a Road of Green

Imagine driving on snowy, snowy roads.  Roll down the car window.  Sniff, sniff.  Is that green tea I smell?  If you live in the town of Etten-Leur in the Netherlands, than the answer would be, yes.  The Netherlands are facing a salt shortage.  Normally they use 70,000 tons of salt on wintry roads.  This year they have already used over 100,000 tons.  Friends who live in the Netherlands emailed us about radio reports of a northern town who had purchased 18 tons of bath salts in case of bad weather to put on the roads.  The town has purchased the bath salts which smell of lavendar, green tea, and mango to spread on the icy roads.

According to the email from our friends, comments on a newspaper website included:

"Was riding my bike, but slipped and fell. But it smelled soooo goooooood, that I just stayed there on the ground. In fact, I'm still here ... mmmmmm"

"Well, if the bathing salt also comes with naked men, I want that in my town as well !!"

Apparently, the Dutch have taken to calling the town Etten-Geur which supposedly means Etten-Smell.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Lowdown on Finding and Keeping a Good Babysitter

For a mom's night out, a date with the hubby, or just some much needed R & R, who are you going to call?  Why, a babysitter, of course.  You may have a relative, a neighbor, or a friend on speed dial for those times when you need someone to watch the kids.  Finding someone whom you trust to watch your most precious treasures can sometimes be a difficult process, especially if you have just moved or don't have any close friends or family around to rely on.  Here are some tips for finding a babysitter, keeping them, and the pertinent information all babysitters should have at their disposal.

Where to find sitters
This is a site where you can find sitters in your area.  You can look at the hours they are available, what ages they are willing to babysit, their references, and if they have any clearance checks.

Local colleges
Good choices are colleges that have education programs. Here is where you can find students who plan on entering the education field. Not only will they have a background in education but they will often already have clearance checks.

Teens and adults often volunteer in the nursery program and may be willing to babysit for you.

Babysitting Coops
These are becoming popular.  You can trade babysitting serivices with friends or moms in your area.  You earn points when you babysit other people's children that you can use to redeem for free babysitting for your family.  Smart Mom's Babysitting Coop has free information on how to organize a coop. The National Network for Childcare and  iVillage  all have useful information about how to form a coop.  If you want to try to find a coop near you, you can enter your zip code at BabysitterExchange to see a list of local coops.

Old Standbys include friends, friends' children, relatives, or neighbors

Questions to ask potential sitters
These are just possible questions you may want to ask based on how well you know the person who will be babysitting for you.

What experience do you have babysitting or working with children (do they have siblings and/or have they watched children that are not related)?
Do you still babysit for any of your former clients?
What hours or days are you available?  Are you available at the last minute?
What ages would you prefer to babysit?
Are you experienced in CPR and first aid?
Do you have references or clearance checks?
Have you had any training? (ie. American Red Cross Babysitting Course)
How are you doing in school?  Will babysitting interfere with homework?
Do you have transportation to and from my house?  Do your parents approve of you babysitting (question to ask if they are teens)?
How much do you charge?
Have you had any experiences handling emergencies or children with special needs?
What activities would you do with my children?
What are your hobbies or special interests?
Are you comfortable with pets?
How would you handle discipline issues (give examples)?
What would you do if there was an emergency?
Do you know how to make easy meals, prepare bottles, change diapers?
What do you like most about babysitting and what do you like least?
List three qualities that you possess that a good babysitter should have.
Is there anything I can do to make your babysitting my children easier or a better experience? (You may want to readdress this after they have babysat your child.)

How much should you pay? In all honesty, it will vary based on the number of children and other circumstances.  It should be an amount that both you and your sitter agree on.  Sittercity has a rate caluclator that I used to figure out how much babysitters in my area are getting paid.  The amount is about $10/hour regardless of experience or age.  Based on conversations with other moms though, they usually only pay about $5-$6/hour to their teen sitters or a little more for more than one child.  A lot of the time the kids they are babysitting are in bed for most of the time.  If the sitter is traveling with you for vacation, staying overnight, is a college student, is a nanny rather than an occasional babysitter, or there is more than one child, then the amount you pay may be different.  If you live in the city or the suburbs the going rate may be a little higher.

Paving the way for the sitter to stay with your children
Have the sitter come visit while you are home so that the children can meet the sitter and get to know them.  This will help make your children less anxious when you do leave.  It also lets you see how the babysitter interacts with your children.  You can guarantee that questions will arise on both your parts so this way there is a chance to address them upfront before the sitter "goes it alone".

What information should you give a babysitter?
Schedules (ie. when the kids eat, go to bed, and when should homework be done)
Special care instructions for pets
Household rules (ie. tv, computer, what foods children can and can't have, behavior, areas of the home that are off-limits, and bedtime)
Safety instructions (ie. answering the phone, alarm system instructions, answering the door bell, and where exits are located) 
Your address, home phone number, cell phone numbers to contact you or the number of your destination, and emergency numbers (ie. police, fire, doctors, and poison control center)
Medical Information (ie. a copy of medical insurance information, any allergies, or medications that the children take)
When you will be home
What situations warrant a call to you or 911
What to do in case of an emergency
Is there an adult nearby that they can have help in the case of an emergency (ie. a neighbor)
What your expectations are of them (ie. do you expect them to have the kids pick up their toys, have the dinner dishes put away, phone use, and whether they can have friends over)

Remember to also treat your babysitter like a guest of the childrens and remind your children to treat them with respect.  Hopefully this information helps finding and using a babysitter more hassle free and gives you a chance to enjoy your time away from your children.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Little Cowgirl Boots

When I was pregnant we had decided not to find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. The nursery was decked out in primary colors with an alphabet and an animal theme. All the baby clothes, blankets, and bedding were neutral colors.

When I was in labor my doctor made a bet with the delivery nurse that I was having a girl based on how I was carrying. I said I didn't care and that as long as the baby was healthy we would be the luckiest parents in the world.

Secretly though throughout my pregnancy we had hoped for a boy. Without a boy, my husband's family name would die. He is the last male of his generation to carry on the family name. Talk about pressure.  We had agreed on a boy's name (Hayden, a family name) fairly early in my pregnancy but had argued for months about a girl's name.  We finally agreed on Emily about two weeks before I was due because it was the only name we could agree on. 

When our baby entered the world and the doctor announced that she had lost the bet, I remember feeling deflated and oddly disappointed that there would be no little girl to dress in cute little dresses with bows in her hair. And then I looked at the baby that the doctor had laid on my stomach and thought what the h***, as I felt a moment of panic. "He" was missing something pretty important. As my exhausted mind realized that we were the parents of a beautiful, perfect little girl, the doctor said, "oh, wait, I said you were having a girl so I won the bet."

Our little angel wore green, yellow, and white for the first whole month of her life. The only person who had been convinced we were having a girl was my mother-in-law. She came to the hospital while I was in labor with little cowgirl boots. At the baby shower, when people were told to take either blue or pink plates based on what they thought we were going to have, she was one of the few to choose a pink plate on which to sit her cake. These boots were the cutest things I had ever seen and I think it was those boots that started me yearning for a little girl in those last few hours before our baby made an appearance.

The boots were a size 5 which is usually the size a 6-9 month old wears. My two-year old is now wearing them on her tiny feet. They are sitting by the back door. Brown with pink stitching, they sit next to our winter boots and sneakers and her mary janes. They are our daughter's favorite shoes and we love to tell her the story of how she got them. She wears them with everything: jeans, her snow white costume, and even tutus.  There are days where she will be running around the kitchen in only her cowgirl boots and her diaper laughing hysterically at something she has done.  I don't think I will ever have the heart to throw those boots away, no matter how worn and ragged they get.

Kids Today Have It Lucky

Remember saying "I'm bored" to your mom and having her say "go play outside".  Growing up, we had a traditional metal swingset in our backyard to play on and that was it.  After a few years it developed rust spots and started to show its age but it was still sturdy. I have lots of fond memories of sitting on the swings with a book or hanging upside down on the trapeze bar envisioning myself as one of the acrobats from the circus.  Now I have kids of my own.  I had a hard time trying to think of gifts for Christmas for a 2 year old and a 5 month old.  They have lots of toys and books.  Many toys do the same thing.  How many toys that teach the alphabet do you really need? I came across some really cool toys online.  Here are some toys to turn your backyard into a miniature playland.  If you haven't seen these, you need to check them out. What will they think of next?

Extreme Roller Coaster (also by Step 2)

As cool as these toys are, I think we'll be sticking with the public pool, local amusement parks, and the public ice rink for our little munchkins when they are a little older.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Note to Self : No More Late Night Runs

I am a post-it junkie.  I often joke with my husband about how I should write a note to myself every time I do something silly and post it somewhere so I don't do it again. The Urban Dictionary defines note to self as "an exclamation used when you want to punctuate/emphasize an obvious or insulting quip or action" and "a personal reminder".  There are moments in our lives where we experience something that leaves us with a lesson learned.  Sometimes its just silly lessons that we know we will repeat. 

In the quiet of the morning (it's 12:32 AM Eastern Time on Tuesday morning), I ran out to the local convenience store. I felt like I was being sneaky as I left the house.  My husband and my daughters were sound asleep and the houses on our street were all dark.  As a car drove by with their lights shining brightly, I felt as though I was doing something forbidden and I was in danger of getting caught.  I wondered briefly what the passerby thought as he saw my car backing out of the driveway.  Did they wonder where I was going at this time of morning?  Maybe this was my guilt fueling my overactive imagination since I was supposed to have gone grocery shopping last night.  If I had, I wouldn't have needed to run out this morning.  Do you ever feel guilty for not doing something that you should have done, especially if you don't have a very good reason for not doing it?  Even if it is over something as mundane as not going grocery shopping.  My husband had even offered to run earlier to the mini market but I told him that I would do it.

Why was I headed out this early in the morning? I was going to pick up a carton of yogurt and some milk so my daughter could have her morning smoothie.  Our fridge is pretty much empty at the moment. Our fridge is usually in this state after January 1st, before garbage day, or before I do my semi-monthly bulk grocery shopping. I just didn't have the energy to go to the grocery store across town last night.  I even ate dinner before I was to go so I would restrain myself in the bakery department.  Unfortunately, I never quite made it.  I got sidetracked doing other things after dinner. As time passed, I finally told myself that it was to late to go.

I don't normally go into convenience stores and I learned why I shouldn't frequent them tonight: 1)smart alec clerks 2)odd people who stare and 3)the prices.  I'm not sure which one bothered me more.  The clerk commented that I could fit a body in "there".  He was referring to my purse, my treasured Butler Bag.  Not that he appreciated one of my favorite accessories.  There was an odd man dressed in camouflage who stood at the front of the store staring at me as I got my purchases.  I had sneaked a peak at my reflection in the refrigerated case when I was getting the milk to make sure that there was nothing wrong with my appearance.  I looked like a tired mom in a t-shirt, jeans, and a ski jacket.  Yep, things looked normal from where I stood.  I did almost keel over in shock at the prices that stared back at me.  Half a gallon of orange juice was $4.39!  A single carton of yogurt was $1.19. I only ended up buying one carton of yogurt and a quart of milk.

Lesson learned: No more late night jaunts to convenience stores.  In the future, I'll just make my procrastinating, full of excuses self go to the grocery store even if it is just so I can cross it off of my "to-do" list.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Last Chance to Enter Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family Giveway (ends 1/6)

Just a reminder: The Chicken Soup for the Soul: All in the Family Giveaway ends 1/6. Stop by now to enter.  Good luck!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Fresh Start

As I started writing this first post of the New Year, I wanted to lead off with a quote pertaining to New Year's.  I was looking for something to inspire me as I wrote about all the new possibilities for the New Year.  I ended up laughing to myself as I was inspired by not one but many quotes, many of them humorous and poking fun at our attempts to reform our bad habits. 

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.  Middle age is when you're forced to.  ~Bill Vaughn

First, Happy New Year, Everyone!  Here is to new friends, endless possibilities, and a fresh start.  How did you spend your New Year's Eve?  Alone in the quiet, with cheerful friends, in a merry crowd of strangers, in the cold winter night watching a ball drop...I did not ring in the New Year, I snored it in.  I was sound asleep by 11:30.  I tried, I really did, to watch the ball drop in NYC on TV, but I just couldn't stay awake.  I was yawning frequently by 10:00 pm and my eyelids were starting to droop.  My husband warned me that I wasn't going to stay awake.  I kept telling him he was mistaken.  He just shook his head and kept his comments to himself after that.  I made the mistake of climbing into my nice warm cozy bed to watch the ball drop.  I dropped off-into sleep that is.

We had made last minute plans to have friends over on New Year's Eve.  Our whole family has been ill over Christmas break with bad colds.  We were all over the worst of it and no longer contagious by New Year's Eve.  My husband made the calls the day before New Year's Eve to see if our friends were up for a "Lame New Years Party" as my husband was describing it (and not quite in those words).  All of our friends have toddlers and infants (all under 6 months of age).  We were a weary ragtag group of parents.  Everyone left by 10 pm to go home to put the kids in bed.  We were all lamenting how things have changed. There were comments on how we were going to have to set our alarm clocks at home to make sure we didn't miss the last minute countdown so that we could join millions of other people in welcoming in the New Year.  

The bottle of Korbel that our friend put in the freezer to chill was forgotten.  It just got taken out of the freezer today along with the bottle of sparkling grape juice.  A perfectly good bottle of champagne down the drain.  It also leaked all over the ice box so we had to dispose of all the ice and clean out the ice box.

 Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.  ~Oprah Winfrey

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.  ~Benjamin Franklin

I thought for weeks about what my New Year's resolution would be this year.  A new year promises a fresh start just as Mondays promise a new week.  All of our transgressions of the previous year are behind us and endless days of possibilities lie before us.  How will we greet the first of these days? 

I have failed for year's to become more punctual and to stop procrastinating.   I have kept my New Year's resolutions of previous years in regards to finances and being more "green".  We are more frugal and not as wasteful with our spending.  We recycle religiously.  Some weeks, we have more recycling than garbage (of course I should mention that our recycling is picked up every other week).  I had also been pretty good about eating healthier and exercising (I just haven't gotten back on track since giving birth six months ago).  It seems resolutions dealing with character traits are the most difficult to keep.  

I think Oprah and Benjamin Franklin got it right.  We should always be striving to improve ourselves.  The fresh start to a new year should be used as a chance to reflect and honestly assess ourselves and who we are.  We should strive to better ourselves so we can be better neighbors, friends, spouses...

New Year's Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.  ~Mark Twain

Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink and swore his last oath.  Today, we are a pious and exemplary community.  Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.  ~Mark Twain

Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.  ~Oscar Wilde

It's all about good intentions.  An attempt to be successful is still an attempt even if we are not successful.  Tomorrow we can start all over again.

Quotes from Quote Garden.

Congrats to the Winner of the Yoplait Prize Pack

The winner of the Yoplait Prize Pack is hotmama0609.  Congratulations!