Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Knight on the Doorstep

Have you ever driven past a house a hundred times and then one day, a certain little detail stands out?  Maybe it is a lawn ornament, something they have on their porch, or an architectural detail of the house.

There is a house that I often pass, usually on my way to take the girls to their pediatrician, that I always take a peek at and admire.  It looks like a cross between a Cape Cod house on steroids and a Victorian.  Having a hard time picturing it?  It is a lovely house. 

Stationary deer graze on the side of the property and I recently noticed that they have what appears to be a basketball court on the other side of the property tucked up against the house.  How did I never notice that before?

It may be because my eyes are always drawn to their porch.  I am a sucker for large porches especially wraparound porches.  In this case, it is the suit of armor next to their doorway that always draws my eye. 

Yes, you read that right.  And we are not talking about a small suit of armor.  It stands erect next to the doorway and appears to be as tall as the doorway.  At least I think it is.  I make a point to never slow down as I drive past.  I don't want to appear to be a stalker or anything.

Have you ever heard Paul Harvey and his "The Rest of the Story"? I always have an urge as I drive by to stop the car, knock on their door, and ask about the knight guarding their doorway.  Would I ever have the guts to appease my curiosity?  No, but granted that doesn't stop me from asking neighbors and friends about that particular house.

I couldn't resist.  I went out into the internet and checked to see how much it would cost to get our very own suit of armor.  It appears that a 7 foot suit of armor sells for about $388 on ebay.  And now you know, you know, in case you to would like your very own knight in shining armor to guard your doorway.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Sugar high, anyone???

Peeps are a traditional part of any Easter basket here where we live (probably because Just Born is a local company).  Their sugary marshmallowy gooeyness enjoyed by all (well not me since I am not a marshamellow fan).

My daughter, it seems, just likes to bite their ears or heads off.  Or pull their ears or heads off.  My grandfather was the first person to give her a Peep last year for Easter.  She chewed on it for awhile.  We have a picture with her little mouth covered in colored sugar. 

This year we used Peeps to do an art project.  I love edible art since my daughter occasionally without thinking, will put her fingers or the object she is holding into her mouth.

WARNING: Do not do this little project before lunch or dinner (or naptime). 

My daughter's little work of edible art.

The Peeps hanging out by the lake.

Ingredients (or Craft Supplies):
  • Pound cake
  • Icing
  • Decorative icing
  • Coconut (for grass)
  • Food coloring
  • Peeps
  • Whopper eggs
  • Orange jellybeans (for carrots with green decorative icing on top for the leaves)
  • Pretzel sticks and mini marshmallows (for mushrooms)
  • Swedish fish 
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Cotton candy (the yellow for the chicks nest and blue for the water)

You can also make little hats with cookies with a Hershey kiss on top or make licorice string bows for their ears.  Afterall, what would Easter be without some Easter bonnets? 

Get creative with your own Peep art!

Do you have any fun Easter traditions that you do with your little ones? If so, please share them!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Recommended Books For Grades 4-6

In 6th grade, my reading arts teacher held a writing contest.  We were to create our own ghost stories and she showed us how to make our own faux hardback novels using cardboard (from a cereal box if memory serves me correctly) and contact paper.

I won by writing a story about a girl and a ghost.  Or was it about a girl who was a ghost?  I don't remember the details but I do remember some of the words I had used that I had found in the dictionary in my attempt to impress my teacher.  

What was my prize?  I got to choose any book from the Scholastic Book Order that periodically was sent home.  I choose a Babysitter's Club book.  Remember those?

Here is a list of recommended books for children ages 9-12:

Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little by E.B. White
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson 
Black Beauty by Anna Sewall 
The Giver and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl 
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle 
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume  
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery 
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Thirteen Ways to Sink a Sub by Jamie Gilson
My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craigheade George
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary 
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater  
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame 
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor  
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Jacob Have I Loved and The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Bunnicula by Deborah Howe
Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
The Secret Garden and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett  

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor 
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt 

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss  
The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner  
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting  The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh  
The Whipping Boy by Peter Sis 

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan 
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks 
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell  

Holes by Louis Sachar
The Rescuers by Margery Scharp
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare 
The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum 
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Suspended Perks

Last week due to a downed power line outside of my husband's office and his inability to enter his office building, my husband worked from home. 

My husband recently finished our basement.  His excuse-that was where he could go when he worked from home.

Since our first daughter turned two he rarely works from home due to "distractions".  It is hard to keep a two year old out of an office that doesn't have doors. His official "office" with his computer, desk, desk supplies, filing cabinet, and book shelf was once a dining room. It now has some added additions such as our youngest's pack-n-play in a corner and a Little People Village scattered on the Oriental carpet.

My husband's new office does not look like an office. No desk, no computer (well, my husband has a work laptop), and no everending supply of sticky notes or pens.

What his "office" does have-a bar, a big screen TV, a dart board, a pool table, every game system known to man, and three very comfy oversized chairs. Oh, and a coffee table to hold his laptop and drink of choice.

Last week he retreated to the basement everyday.  He had requested that I pretend he wasn't there since he was officially "at work".  Yes, in the past I sometimes took advantage of him being home when he had a lull in his work.  If I saw him surfing the Internet, I would ask him to watch our daughter while I got a shower or made lunch.

Of course he took advantage of being home to.  Lunches were made to order and  if he needed a drink or something at the store, I was there to get it for him so he could continue working.  I was his "Girl Friday" at times.

After his declaration that he was "going to work" each day, I and the girls continued on our day as if he wasn't home.  Granted we could hear his voice when he was on conference calls or if he came upstairs to use the bathroom but we would only see or hear him briefly. Granted, I liked this.  With him downstairs there were no interruptions to the girls' schedules as we would have if he was working upstairs.  This was easier for us all.  A lot of the time he still had meetings so he would still leave during the day to. 

After about three days of this, my husband surfaced while I was making lunch for my two year old and myself.  He saw the grilled cheese sandwhiches on the stove and asked, "what am I having for lunch?"

I looked at him and replied smiling, "Your not here, remember.  Your responsible for your own lunch."

He started laughing remembering our conversation. "Oh I see how it is," he replied. "Okay, I'm going to do what I do for work and I'm going out to get my own lunch."

I told him I was just joking and that I would make him a sandwhich.  He declined saying he preferred to go out since he didn't want to eat a sandwhich and nothing else looked appealing in the fridge.  If I ate out everyday I would feel guilty about the money I wasted and I would also get sick of eating out.  But, I did envy a little his having a half hour of eating alone, quiet, uninterrupted, unspilled drinks and food.   Only a little.  Because I get to eat with my two favorite girls and laugh as my Emmy blows bubbles with her straw which is her new favorite thing to do in the whole world.

Mancala For Kids Game Review

A few weeks ago I reviewed a puzzle from GEEBEE Marketing Inc.'s Black Heritage Series during February since it was Black History Month.   Recently they sent me Mancala For Kids to review.
This game is suitable for children 6 and up.  It includes 48 animal-shaped game pieces, a solid wood hinged playing board, and illustrated instructions. 

The origin of Mancala is debated by historians but its roots are seen in Africa and the Arab world and it is thought to have spread to the Caribbean via the slave trade. 

The board is solid wood and good quality.  The animals are colorful and eyecathcing.  They include lions, fish, dogs, turtles, and elephants.  I liked that the instructions were very detailed and illustrations were provided.  For younger children, you would probably need to play with them a time or two for them to get the hang of the game.  This game would be a fun team game.  Mom and dad could team up with the kids to play against each other for a Mancala Championship game night!  This is a game of strategy and will provide lots of fun for your children and make them use their minds as they play. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Day My Daughter Found My Little Black Book

I have carried my little black book in my purse/tote/or whatever it is that I am carrying at the moment. It is a little moleskine book that could fit in one's pocket.  Even though it is at least four years old, it looks brand new.

Does it have addresses in it?  No

Does it have phone numbers of old boyfriends?  Nope.  At least it better not since my husband and I have been together for almost 10 years (married for almost 4 of those years).

Phone numbers of any kind?  Maybe a few scribbled here and there on pages.

Does it have dates and times of meetings, events that I was scheduled to attend, or occasions to remember?  Nope, not really.

My little black book is a moleskine book filled with lined paper.  It contains page upon page of lists and notes (and lots of passwords and usernames which I shouldn't have been carrying around with me).  Chalk that up to youth and naivete.

I had bought the moleskine (mol-a-skeen'-a) book at a bookstore.   I wanted something I could jot down notes in.  I had wanted something chic but I settled for simple, understated, and durable. Writers and artists had been using them to jot down inspiration for over two centuries.

My daughter had found it in a bag I brought downstairs filled with items to go through.  My daughter loved the little elastic band that could be used to mark a page. She was running around the kitchen pretending to read it.  I asked her to bring it to me so I could see it.  I got lost in the pages for several minutes, reminiscing.

Within it's pages, I have the list of things I saw throughout the year for ideas for Christmas presents for 2005.  There was a list of repairs and miscellaneous things we had to do before we sold our old house and a list of what we wanted in our new home in 2006.  Our trip to Home Depot and Lowe's was documented with a list of what we needed to finish the basement in the house we ended up buying (and that we just finished this year way over the budget detailed in the book).

The book served as my diet journal when I was trying to lose a few pounds before I got pregnant.  There are lists of things I needed to do and buy even a list of questions I had for my OB right before I was to give birth to my daughter in 2007 and I was starting to freak out. My librarian friend's book recommendations for children's books made its way into the book and books that I wanted to read while I was home on maternity leave (the leave that extended after I decided not to return to work).

There are also lists of what I got all of our friends and family for 3-4 Christmases in a row because I was afraid of giving duplicate gifts since I was the one solely in charge of shopping. Notes on the cars I was looking at when we went car shopping after our daughter was born are there to along with the guest list and the menu for our daughter's first birthday party.

This book told me more about my life and what I saw and did than the journal that sits with less than a dozen entries from the last several years on my nightstand.  It is also now my daughter's obsession.  She wants her own little black book to write in.  This one was retired about two years ago and replaced with a new one.  I think I would buy her her own before I handed this one back over.  I think it is going to go in a safe place for now.

Do you have a little black book?  What is in your's?

Red in the Flower Bed Book Review

Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Children's Story About Interracial Adoption was written by Andrea Napa who is herself an adoptive parent. It tells the story of a poppy seed that is carried by the wind to its new home amid a garden of flowers.  The story tells how the poppy seed grows roots and blooms.  Napa has not discounted the emotional element to this analogy about adoption.  I like that she mentions how the poppy shed tears when the seed went away and how happy the garden flowers were at the new arrival and how excited they were to see who the little seed would become. The little poppy seed ended up exactly where she was supposed to be.

This book is listed for children ages 9-12 but I can see it being read to younger children. It is a beautiful story book and a good way to introduce the concept of adoption to younger children. The illustrations with the various patterns are well crafted and reminiscent of scenes from a scrapbook.

You can pick up your own copy at Amazon.com.

Tribute Books provided me with the ebook of Red in the Flower Bed to read in order to faciliatate this review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Calphalon Pans Giveaway (Approx. $50 value)

I love my readers and I am thankful that there are people out there in the great beyond (or at least beyond my own house) that read what I write.  Recently I was contacted by CSN to host a giveaway.  Sitting on the bar stools at my kitchen island with my laptop in front of me, I spent about twenty minutes browsing through CSN's different online stores. I like cooking for my family and I have an entire kitchen filled with gadgets and gizmos but I can always use more good quality pans.  A lucky reader will have the opportunity to own a set of Calphalon pans, courtesy of CSN.

Who is CSN? They were founded in 2002 and are based in Boston, Massachusetts. They have over 200 online stores.  What makes CSN different from other online retailers?  According to their website, "Service, selection and savings – simultaneously."  CSN prides themselves on having the largest selection of furnishings at competitive prices for your home and office anywhere on the Web.  

Some of their stores that would interest moms include:

This site has modern toys, baby gear, furnishings for all rooms of the home, and decor.
This site has anything and everything you would need to cook dinner for two or to entertain a houseful of guests.  Brand names such as Cuisinart, Calphalon, and Rachel Ray are priced comparably with other big name online and mall stores.

Toys, toys, and more toys abound on this site from some of the most popular names in children's brands such as Fisher-Price, Leap Frog, Melissa & Doug, and Step 2. 

CSN is offering my readers a chance to win a Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 10" and 12" Omelet Combo Set (valued at $49.95).  

Pan features:
  •  a nonstick surface which makes clean-up a breeze
  • the bottoms are designed for even heating and require little if any oils when cooking
  • can be used for various cooking techniques
  • have sloping sides that allows food to slide easily onto your plate from the pan
  • the cast stainless steel handle stays cool for hours to make cooking easier
  • oven safe up to 450 degrees
  • made in the USA and have a lifetime warranty  

To win the Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 10" and 12" Omelet Combo Set (valued at $49.95)

MANDATORY: Visit www.cookware.com and leave a comment about one product that you would like to own. (1 entry)
To receive additional entries:
*Become a follower or a subscriber of The Practical Mom Guide and if you already do so just leave a comment stating that you already follow (1 entry)

*Follow TPMG on twitter (1 entry)

*Become a fan of TPMG on Facebook (1 entry)

*Tweet (maximum of once daily) about this giveaway and don't forget to leave your twitter name
Copy and paste: Win Calphalon Omelet Pan Combo ($50 value) at #TPMG http://bit.ly/cjf3dh Please RT. (1 entry per tweet)

*Enter another giveaway at The Practical Mom Guide and leave a comment with which giveaway you entered (2 entries for each giveaway you enter)

*Add The Practical Mom Guide to your blogroll or display our button (5 entries)

*Post about this giveaway on your blog (5 entries)

This giveaway will end on Friday, April 2, 2010. I will announce the winner on April 3 here at The Practical Mom Guide. If I am unable to contact the winner or they do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck and thanks for participating!

*Contest only open to U.S. residents.
*I was not compensated in any way to host this giveaway.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Conquering Morning Chaos

Before I had children and was up at all hours, I was a morning person.  Perky, alert, and ready-to-face-the-day- that was me...once upon a time. Now it takes all my willpower to roll out of bed in the morning.  :One more minute", I think, whenever the alarm goes off.  Sometimes, the mantra of  "please go back to sleep" echoes in my mind when the sounds of my daughter's cries drift down the hall at three in the morning.

How to stay organized in the morning and getting the kids out the door is a dilemma for many moms.  Here are some tips for conquering the morning chaos:

1) Have a place for everything
Inside the door, have a designated spot for coats and book bags and shoes.  You may have a coat rack, baskets, or a mat where these items can go.  This will help eliminate the amount of time your kids (and you) spend looking for things. You know if something is missing, the first person they will run to for help looking for said item is you.  Put small items that you may easily misplace (such as your cell phone and keys) up and away from little hands and in the same place every time you walk in the door.  As silly as it seems, I laways have to remind myself of this one.

2) Prepare the night before
Make sure all school papers are signed the night before so there isn't a chance of you forgetting to sign them.  Make sure homework is also done and that all book bags are already packed.  Packing them in the morning increases the chance that something will be left behind in the morning chaos.  Have their lunches packed and set out with their book bags in the morning.  On the weekend when you will have more time, prepackage snacks for lunch boxes to save you time during the week. 

3) List morning chores and who is responsible
If your kids need to take the dog out in the morning or do the morning dishes, make sure they know what their responsibilities are ahead of time to avoid arguing (okay so there may still be arguing but you can try) and wasting time in the morning.  Rotate chores or have a reward chart set up so everyone is on the same page.

4)Getting the kids dressed without a hassle
Have two choices of clothes set out the night before for young ones to choose from. Check the weather report to so you know how the kids will need to dress. Write a little note on a white board of outerwear your kids will need (rain coat, umbrella, coat, hat, etc.) or have an outline of a child to which you add the outerwear they will need for the day.  If you are really stressed over time in the morning, you can always put the kids to bed in their clothes.  I used to do this when I was little.  It drove my mother crazy.

5) Calendar Time
Create a family calendar either online (Google calendar is one option) or have one posted with everyone's schedule.  Also, include due dates of your children's assignments to encourage them to post their own (with your help) deadlines.  This is a good habit to foster and it keeps you from having to do all the work.

6) Have a routine and try to stick with it 
Be consistent with your morning routine so your kids know what to expect so the morning is not a free for all. When you have several children and a spouse clamoring with different requests and your being pulled in different directions, it can become really chaotic and your nerves will fray.

7) "Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs"
Keep a checklist by the front or side doors of things you need to have done in the morning where you and your kids will see it before you leave the house.  Reminders are never a bad thing.

Less hassle in the morning is always a better way to start the day than dealing with morning chaos.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Horizon Chocolate Milk Review and Giveaway

My daughter doesn't normally get to drink chocolate milk but I recently made an exception.  Beyond her smoothie in the morning, she has started to resist drinking milk preferring diluted fruit juice (2-3 ounces of juice and 4-6 ounces of water).  Horizon produces an organic lowfat (1%) chocolate milk with DHA Omega-3.  She thought it was "yummy" and proceeded to drink the entire cup.  That is her version of a thumbs-up.  I had been concerned about the amount of sugar but there is less sugar in the Horizon lowfat chocolate milk than a regular cup of our local lowfat milk with 2 Tbsp of Hershey's chocolate syrup. 

Horizon also makes organic lowfat milk boxes in several flavors (plain, strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla).  As you know I am a big proponent of having healthy snacks and beverages for on-the-go.  The drinks are contained in shelf stable packaging making them a great alternative to juice boxes.

What is the deal with DHA?  There has been a lot of buzz about DHA in the media in the past several years.  DHA is supposed to support your child's growing brain.  DHA is often found in fish but many children do not get the recommended DHA which is why so many products are being fortified with it.  The DHA found in Horizon products is all-natural, vegetarian, and sustainable which is a relief for me as a mom. 

Founded in 1991, Horizon was the first company to supply the U.S. with organic milk at a national level.  Horizon supports sustainability with efforts such as renewable energy and converting hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland for organic agricultural use.  Horizon's products are produced without antibiotics, growth hormones, or pesticides and carry the USDA certified organic seal. Other dairy products produced by Horizon include yogurt, creams, butter, and cheeses.

Interested in trying Horizon's Organic Chocolate Lowfat Milk Plus DHA Omega-3 for yourself?

Horizon Organic Chocolate Lowfat Milk  Giveaway
*2 winners will each receive  4 coupons (2 coupons for a FREE half gallon of Horizon Organic Chocolate Lowfat Milk Plus DHA Omega-3 and 2 coupons for $1 off the same milk)*

To enter do any (or all) of the following and leave a comment(s):
 Don't forget to leave separate comments for actions that result in multiple entries (ex. I added TPMG to my blogroll #1, I added TPMG to my blogroll #2...) 
Please make sure that you leave an email address or some way of contacting you (if your email or blog is not listed on your Blogger profile) in the instance that you are the winner.
*Visit the Horizon website and leave a comment stating something you learned and that I did not mention in my review (1 entry)

*Become a follower or a subscriber of The Practical Mom Guide and if you are already do so just leave a comment stating that you already follow (1 entry)

*Follow TPMG on twitter (1 entry)

*Become a fan of Horizon and/or TPMG on Facebook (1 entry)

*Tweet (maximum of once daily) about this giveaway and don't forget to leave your twitter name
Copy and paste: Win FREE Horizon Organic Chocloate LF Milk Plus DHA at #TPMG http://bit.ly/9kCIr7 Please RT. 
(1 entry per tweet)

*Enter another giveaway at The Practical Mom Guide and leave a comment with which giveaway you entered (2 entries for each giveaway you enter)

*Add The Practical Mom Guide to your blogroll or display our button (5 entries)

*Post about this giveaway on your blog (5 entries)

This giveaway will end on Wednesday, March 31, 2010. I will announce the winner on April 1st here at The Practical Mom Guide. If I am unable to contact the winner or they do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck and thanks for participating!

*Contest only open to U.S. residents. 
*This giveaway was sponsored by Horizon.  I was sent 2 coupons for free half gallons of Horizon Chocolate Milk Plus DHA-Omega 3 in order to facilitate an honest review.  I was not nor will I receive any other compensation.  All opinions are my own.

Getting Kids to Eat Breakfast (Without the Need For Leprachan Luck)

1) Make time for breakfast 
Even if that means getting the kids up a few minutes earlier. Sitting as a family is a good way to start the day especially if everyone has different schedules with after-school activities and work.

2)Everything ready to go
Have the ingredients out for your kids when they wake up.  Whether it is cold cereal, pancakes, oatmeal, toast, a bagel, or yogurt, having the foods easily accessible may increase the chances of your child eating.  

3)Give choices

4)Have a back-up plan on hand
Have a stash of healthy running late foods in the car, the fridge, or in backpacks.  A bag filled with on-the-go breakfast choices is always handy. Granola bars, fruit bars, bagged nuts, trail mix with dried fruit, and string cheese are good on-the-go foods.  Make smoothies for your kids to drink if they prefer not to eat breakfast.  This way your kids can eat on the way to school or eat at the bus stop. 

5)Don't make it into a battle
You won't win. Sometimes molehills are mountains in the eyes of children.  Sometimes you may have to bend with what it is your child is hungry for rather than what you would like them to eat. Leftover pizza, go ahead, eat up.  Sprinkling a few chocolate chips in with their Cheerios is better than them not eating anything.  Being the breakfast police every morning is just going to make breakfast be a struggle for you and your child.  Want to increase the chances of them grabbing something moderately healthy?  Limit the junk in the pantry.  I know this is easier said than done. 

6) Make breakfast fun
Make faces on their toast or pancakes with fruit.  Create placemats out of activity sheets that you have laminated for them to do while you make breakfast.  Have them make edible pictures with their Cheerios.  Have a question or joke of the day for them to puzzle over.  Better yet, have them help make breakfast.

Verbs in Pictures

The breakfast theme continues...

Pouring + Mixing + Rolling + Stamping + Eating = Breakfast & A Focused Child (Did I mention quiet?)

I am not including the picture of my hazy kitchen that was the aftermath of my stint at the stove.  In fact, I turned my spatula over to my husband after burning three servings of pancakes.  It turns out I had the heat turned up to high.  That is what happens when I multitask at the stove. The biscuits and the bacon turned out perfect.  Two out of three ain't bad (pardon the grammar).

When it comes to cooking with skillets, my husband is "The Man".  I have better results cooking with the oven and the crockpot.  They are usually healthier to, at least that is my excuse for using them as often as I do.  If your wondering about the grill, that is my husband's domain also.

For more Wordful Wednesday (for those of us who can't post pics without words-lots of them), check out Seven Clown Circus. Scroll down to check out my Wordless Wednesday post.  Yes, I controlled myself.

Later today:
I will be posting "Getting Kids to Eat Breakfast (Without the Need For Leprechaun Luck)" and another giveaway.

Also, check out my Bisquick Prize Pack Giveaway if you haven't done so.  You can win a box of Bisquick, a batter bowl, a cast iron skillet, and a pancake turner to help make breakfast for your family (sorry, a cook isn't included).

What's That Smell?

I can almost smell spring.

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.
There is more Wordless Wednesday at 5 Minutes For Mom also.

*This pic was taken early last summer at a B&B we stayed at outside of Mystic, CT.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bisquick Prize Pack Giveaway

Occasionally, like this weekend I cooked a hot breakfast.  I went all out!  We had pancakes, bacon, biscuits, yogurt, and fresh fruit.  I had fresh veggies and eggs but I ran out of time to make the omelets.  I wanted my family to eat while everything else was still hot. Cooking three things at once was testing my kitchen multitasking ability to the max (click here to read about why I need a Kitchen Aide). Our kitchen was very atmospheric with lots of smoke to.  The whys and hows of that are another blog post.

Normally, I make pancakes from scratch using a recipe from our church recipe book that my mom had given to me when I moved out on my own.  Sometimes when I am cooking several things at once or I am in a hurry, I will use a mix such as Bisquick (like this weekend).  My husband and daughter never know the difference.

Bisquick is currently sponsoring Bisquick Pancake Nation.  It is a national effort to get people in the community to coordinate and execute pancake breakfasts for local non-profit organizations.  It is a fun way to give back to your community.

The website also has the following free event planning tools making planning your event a cinch:
  • a calculator to figure out how many pancakes you need based on the estimated number of people who will attend your event
  • customizable invites
  • signage
  • fun printable placemats 
  • tips
Your organization can also apply to receive a $250 grant from Bisquick.  Grants will be awarded from now until May 31st.

Not interested in planning an event put interested in eating your way through a short stack and supporting a local organization?  You can find a local pancake breakfast fundraiser near you.  I found a pancake breakfast a few miles away from our home.

Check out how you can win all the things you'll need to make a pancake breakfast for your family below!

Bisquick Prize Pack Giveaway 
You can win a box of Bisquick, a batter bowl, a cast iron skillet, and a pancake turner!

To enter do any (or all) of the following and leave a comment(s):
 Don't forget to leave separate comments for actions that result in multiple entries (ex. I added TPMG to my blogroll #1, I added TPMG to my blogroll #2...) 
Please make sure that you leave an email address or some way of contacting you (if your email or blog is not listed on your Blogger profile) in the instance that you are the winner.
*What is your favorite recipe using Bisquick? (1 entry)

*Become a follower or a subscriber of The Practical Mom Guide and if you are already do so just leave a comment stating that you already follow (1 entry)

*Follow TPMG on twitter (1 entry)

*Become a fan of TPMG on Facebook (1 entry)

*Tweet (maximum of once daily) about this giveaway and don't forget to leave your twitter name
Copy and paste: Win a Bisquick Prize Pack at #TPMG http://bit.ly/bwNpgh Please RT. 
(1 entry per tweet)

*Enter another giveaway at The Practical Mom Guide and leave a comment with which giveaway you entered (2 entries for each giveaway you enter)

*Add The Practical Mom Guide to your blogroll or display our button (5 entries)

*Post about this giveaway on your blog (5 entries)

This giveaway will end on Tuesday, March 30, 2010. I will announce the winner on March 30th here at The Practical Mom Guide. If I am unable to contact the winner or they do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Good luck and thanks for participating!

*Contest only open to U.S. residents. 
*The giveaway was sponsored by Bisquick through MyBlogSpark.  I was sent a Bisquick Prize Pack in order to faciliate an honest review.  I was not nor will I recieve any other compensation.  All opinions are my own.

Breaking Bread Alone

Rolling out of bed, I am careful to not move the bed in any way to disturb my sleeping husband who wakes at the slightest provocation.  I tiptoe past the doors to my daughters' rooms, climbing over the gate at the top of the stairs.  The click of it opening could possibly alert my daughters to the beginning of a new day and I am not yet ready to give up the silence that has settled on our home in the night.

No coffee, just a cup of  OJ in a glass accompanied by a bowl of cheerios with sliced strawberries floating in chilled milk.  Maybe today, I will be really wild and will have a blueberry muffin.  A newspaper opened to the Lifestyle section (click here to read An Ode to the Lifestyle Section) or the latest magazine that I pulled from our mailbox the day before ready to be dog-eared and thumbed through and most of all read. 

My to-do-list lays ready for the touch of my pen on the island.  I enjoy this time of day.  The day is a blank slate.  In this time, I can contemplate what I want to accomplish and the direction of my day.

Before I become a "mom" and "wife" again, I am only "me" for this brief interlude as I break bread alone.  My wants, my needs, simple as they may be, met so simply with food, the written word, and quiet (a rare commodity in a noisy household of four).  This morning routine is energizing to my mind, body, and spirit as the day begins.

Join me as I attempt to bake soda bread (Angelica Huston's recipe that has been passed to her family from their cook) in honor of St. Patrick's Day today.  This recipe printed on the Chicago Tribune website is slightly different from the original recipe on The One for the Table website.

Later today I will be posting a giveaway (breakfast related, of course).  Stay tuned.

Updated: Remember how I said I would attempt to bake soda bread. It didn't turn out quite the way it looked in the picture.  I probably shouldn't have substituted the whole milk for buttermilk even though the recipe said it was okay as long as you swapped baking powder for the baking soda. Oh well, we had fun trying to make it. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Recommended Books for K-3

Many of the books that I have listed are classics and books that I also enjoyed as a child.  The first time I realized that I could read a book in one sitting by myself was in first grade.  I am not talking about a picture book but an actual book with over twenty-five pages. 

In first grade, our teacher had encouraged us to read a set number of books in a set amount of time.  We got a star for every book we finished.  Me and another little girl were almost done reaching our goal.  My last book was a Dick and Jane book. Remember them?  "See Spot.  See Spot run." Do they still read Dick and Jane books in elementary school? 

I raced home and curled up on the couch and read and read and read.  I remember that the sun was out and I could hear my mother making meal preparations for our dinner.  The afghan beneath me that had been crocheted by my grandmother was scratchy against my legs and arms.  I burrowed into the couch trying to block everything out so that I could concentrate on reading.   I finished the book that night, without any help.

I was exhilarated. I was going to get my last star.  I was going to be the first one in my class to finish all of her books. Even then I was competitive.

When I went into school the next morning, I took my book and went to my teachers desk. I told her I was finished.  She didn't believe me.  She sent the book home with me again and the request that my mom sign off when I finished the book.  I was crestfallen.  That other little girl, finished reading her books that day.  I came in second.  I would like to say that it was enough to know that I had finished first, but what can I say, I was six years old.

I ran into my former first grade teacher, who saw my mother periodically.  I was in college and shopping with my mother. I had an armful of undergarments and was standing in line waiting to check out.  Yes, I still felt a twinge at the slight she had inflicted on my six year old self but nary a word came out of my mouth about the incident.  In all honesty, I still think of her fondly.  She was one of my favorite and most memorable elementary school teachers from my youth.  I have lots of wonderful memories of her classroom.

Books for 4-8 Year Olds

Alexander and the Terible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell
Arthur series by Marc Brown
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
Polar Express by Chris van Allsburg
Green Eggs and Ham and any other book by Dr. Seuss
Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire
Tawny, Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson
The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer
Tess's Tree by Jess M. Brailler
Eloise series by Kay Thompson
Curious George by Hans Augusto Rey
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
The Berenstain Bears series by Stan and Jan Berenstain
A Treasury of Dick and Jane and Friends by  William S. Gray
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Madeline series by Ludwig Bemelmans
Junie B. Jones  series by Barbara Park
What Do People Do All Day and Best Word Book Ever by Richard Scarry
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Click here, to read the recommended books for preschoolers.

I am working on compiling the lists for older children.  Stay tuned!

Friday Follow

It's Friday, folks and you know what that means!  It's Friday Follow time.

Friday Follow
This week Friday Follow has a sponsor:

Interested in visiting new blogs or introducing more people to your blog?

Here is how it works:

* Link up your blog on the McLinky below.  (You only need to do this ONE time on any blog containing the McLinky and it is updated on all blogs that have this McLinky.  How cool is that!)
*Follow the first three hostesses below: Midday Escapades, One 2 Try, and Hearts Make Families.
*On your blog create a post with the Friday Follow Button and sponsor button (this is a new feature).
*Find a blog that piques your interest, follow them.  Leave them a comment telling them you are from FF.
*Follow back new followers of your blog.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vegas, Here Comes...My Mother

I love my mother.  She loves me, flaws and all, in her own way.  She was sixty-one years old before she lived alone for the first time in her life.  She has been divorced and widowed.  I am her youngest daughter. 

My mother is not one to go anywhere alone.  She barely can sit in a restaurant alone much less drive to an event hosted by acquaintances by herself. This is a woman who hates change.

She is also not the type to call me unless she has something to say.  In a recent phone call to check on her, she proclaimed, "I am going to tell you something."  Uh, oh.  That is never the best way to start a conversation, at least not one that is going to end well.

"I'm going to Vegas", she announces.

"Uh, okay", I think I replied.  I think I was in to much shock to really comprehend what she was saying. 

I can't picture my mother in Vegas.  I have heard of people my mother's age moving there for the dry desert heat but my mother living it up in a hotel on the Strip...  I can't see it in my mind and rest assured I have a very vivid imagination.

When I think of Vegas, I think of The Hangover which I will admit was a pretty funny movie.  I think of drive-thru wedding chapels, spectacular shows, noisy slot machines, craps tables, poker, and bachelors/bachelorettes having a weekend of fun.

My mother is going to take her first plane ride. Is she going alone?  Of course not!  At first she told me she was going to go with my sister.  I couldn't see that happening.  Two days later in another phone conversation my mother told me what I had suspected, my sister had reneged on her promise to go with my mom but my mom had found a replacement.   I love my sister but reliability is not one of strongest traits.  When I asked who she responded with, "have you or B (my husband) received any phone calls recently."

I hate 20 questions.  I hate suspense.  I hate surprises, in fact things rarely surprise me.  Yet, I was surprised.  My mother finally admitted that she had called my mother-in-law (who she sees two-three times a year).  They are going to Vegas together. As soon as I got off the phone I called my husband.  I blurted out my mother's news.

His response, "Good for her.  I'm proud of her.  She called my mom all on her own without calling one of us first.  I never would have thought she would be able to do it."  He was right.  I was proud of her to. She was doing something for herself, on her own-something she had initiated, no less. 

Good for them I say.  Maybe my mom is growing and proving that you are never to old to change.  I bet they come back with some good stories.

And This Week On the View

Here is the line-up this week!

MONDAY, MARCH 8 – The day after the Oscars!!  It Isn’t over till the co-hosts have spoken! Guest co-host Vanessa Williams (“ABC’s Ugly Betty”); Day of “Hot Topics”; co-host Sherri Shepherd will Skype live from Hollywood post-Academy Awards and share her Oscar experience; Chris Cuomo breaks down crimes in the headlines. First time musical guests – Lady Antebellum perform

TUESDAY, MARCH 9 – Guests -Andy Garcia and his daughter Dominik Garcia-Lorido (“City Island”); Elissa Stein and Susan Kim (author, Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation).

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10 – Guests: Forest Whitaker (“Our Family Wedding”); Jesse Ventura (author, American Conspiracies).

THURSDAY, MARCH 11 – Sir Elton John will be sitting with the women at the table and partaking in “Hot Topics”; Guest - Eric McCormack (“Who Is Clark Rockefeller?”).

FRIDAY, MARCH 12 – Co- Host Kate Gosselin is back and will join the women and the return of 
“The View: Fashion Friday” with designer Carolina Herrera.
 On Friday, I will be tweeting My View of The View at 11 am EST.  Join blogmom221 on twitter.

You can catch episodes you missed by watching them online at The View's website.  See what other moms are saying about The View with #theviewmoms.

Why am I an ambassador for The View?  I love being able to support this diverse group of women (some of whom are moms) who share their viewpoints on today's topics.

I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordful Wednesday

 Can you guess who did this?

Yep, this was done by our two year old.  At Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law brought canvases and fingerpaints for the kids to create their own works of art.  Needless to say they had a blast creating their own masterpieces.  

All you need:
  • fingerpaints
  • canvases (Michaels sells inexpensive canvases and they often have circulars in the Sunday paper with 40% off coupons)
  • a vinyl tablecloth (or use a garbage bag that has been cut open to cover the table or floor)
  • paintbrushes (if your have older children)
  • dixie cups (cut down to size which will help avoid accidental spills) to hold the paint  and one full-size one to hold water to clean the brushes
  • old clothes or smocks if you have them
  • patience (it is probably going to be a messy process so try to avoid the urge to clean as they paint)
  • wet paper towels or rags to clean up the kids and to wipe down their clothes
This was very easy to clean up.  Now we can  say we have an original work of art, probably the only one we will ever own.  You can get your very own masterpiece for under $10 or give one as a gift.  If you have older children three canvases hung side-by-side on the wall would look fashionable in a family room or playroom.

*Since I am incapable of just posting a picture without commentary, I figured participating in Wordful Wednesday was more my style!  For more Wordful Wednesday, visit Seven Clown Circus

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Turning the Air Blue

As the saying goes, "hindsight is 20/20".

We all have bad habits and we all know that sometimes there are consequences to those said bad habits.  Consequences that we may not see normally but they are still there-a possibility and yet, not a deterrent.

My front loading washing machine is one of the highest rated machines in Consumer Reports and is relatively new.  I was so proud of my meticulous research and prowess at negotiating a good deal on our machine. Less than two years old, it is relatively new considering the lifetime of major appliances. It is not even near middle age.  Yet, it becomes possessed fairly regularly.  Possessed, as in, shaking wildly, making load noises, and migrating across the floor.  It appears that this happens when the load is not balanced-which happens when I cram to much laundry into the machine.

Saturday night, while my daughters peacefully slept and my husband was enjoying time out with The Boys (his friends), I was home doing laundry.  While I was on the computer checking email, I heard the washing machine start having a fit but it stopped within about 3 seconds.  Then it started again.  There was a thud.  My mind registered that that was a very, very, very bad thing.  The only thing on top of the machine was a wicker basket of laundry (which would NOT have accounted for that loud of a thud) and a 1.17 gallon of Tide. 

I raced to the laundry room already preparing myself for the worst case scenario.  Yet, I didn't really think that I would find THE ENTIRE BOTTLE empty on the floor.  It appeared that when it fell, the cap broke into pieces and the entire bottle spilled onto the floor.  It only took seconds.

This is where the air started to turn blue with words that I did not utter but I thought them-loudly.  My anger quickly turned to frustration after attempting to clean up the lake of blue goo that had spread out and under both the washing machine and dryer and to almost all corners of the room.  Bath towels did not absorb the liquid very effectively nor did paper towels. 

After a half hour my husband called to tell me he was heading home. Nearly in tears, I told him my sad tale.  He laughed...and laughed...and then said, "Your cleaning it up wrong".  How dare he!!!!

I responded, "and how would you clean it up Mr. KNow-It-All ?" (the name calling was only inside my head).

"A squeegee and a dust pan".  Here is where I rolled my eyes.

Then I realized that yeah, that would probably work.

It did.  I found the squeegee attachment for our home steamer and used that to scoop up the lake of goo.  When my husband came home, he helped move the washer and dryer and even helped scoop up goo.  We had it cleaned up in about 20 minutes.

Then, my husband pointed out that here is the difference between me and him.  If he had been responsible for this mess, he would have gotten yelled at.  I am not proud of this, but I will admit that he is probably right.  Whereas, he was totally nonplussed by my accident. I choose not to mention the fact that I clean up messes much better than he does.

I now have a squeaky clean floor and the air in my laundry room is no longer blue.

LESSON LEARNED:  To clean up spilled laundry detergent or any kind of substance with a higher viscosity, use a squeegee and a dust pan.

Oh and Lesson #2 is don't put a bottle of laundary detergent on top of a washing machine in case, like mine, it becomes possessed.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

BRU & New Mommies

Babies R Us is hosting several in-store events this month.  If you are a mommy-to-be you may want to check these out or if you know someone who is expecting than feel free to spread the word.  They do suggest making reservations so call your local BRU to check space availability.

  • Breastfeeding 101-Medela is sponsoring this event on Tuesday, March 9th at 6:30 pm.  They will be sharing tips and information on breastfeeding basics and products available.
  • Super Baby Shower-This event will take place on Saturday, March 13 from 12-3pm.  You will hear about what products all moms should register for, be able to register for giveaways, take advantage of savings, and hear tips and ideas for the perfect baby shower.  Advice: Do not plan to register on this day since it can be crowded in the store.
  • Buckle Up and Boogie-A car seat Workshop will be held on Tuesday, March 23rd at 6:30 pm.  You will learn how to choose a car seat and how to use it properly.  
The Babies R Us website also has an online resource called Becoming US: A Comprehensive Resource Guide to Getting Ready For Baby.  It has editorial content reviewed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Recommended Books For Preschoolers

    I love to read.  March 2nd was the NEA's Read Across America Day.  It was a celebration of reading in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday.  This month I will be listing recommended books for all ages. To start off, I figured I would start with books for the youngest readers first.

    Curious about members of Congress's favorite children's books?  Click here to read their favorite books and their explanations why.

    Books for Preschoolers
    Corduroy by Don Freeman
    Chicka Chick Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
    I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
    Bear Snores On and Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson
    Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr.
    The Very Hungry Catepillar by Eric Carle
    Goodnight, Gorilla by P. Rathmann
    The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
    The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise
    Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
    Bunny My Hunny by Anita Jeram
    Doggies and Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
    We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxbury
    Jamberry by Bruce Degan
    Peek-a-Boo by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
    Counting Kisses by Karen Katz
    How Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
    Mommy? (pop-up book) by Maurice Sendak, Arthur Yorinks, and Matthew Reinhart

    updated 3/9/10: Thanks to those of you who reminded me of some other favorites.
    Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
    Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
    Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney

    I should also mention that the Mommy? book is one of my daughter's favorites and is why I included it!

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    My View of The View

    Have you checked out The View this week?

    Monday-The ladies discussed the conclusion of the Olympic games, the trainer killed by the killer whale, and the earthquake in Chile in "Hot Topics".  Celebrity publicist, Cindi Berger discussed with the ladies how stars can rehab their careers.  They discussed Tiger Woods and his apology.  Nathan Filion from Castle (in its second season) appeared and discussed his time as Joey Buchanon on the ABC soap One Life to Live.

    Tuesday- Robert Pattinson (Twilight) and Emilie de Ravin (Lost) appeared to discuss their latest movie, Remember Me.  Former Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, was on promoting his new book No Apology.  He discussed what is wrong with America today and what needs to change.

    Wednesday-Lisa Kudrow of  Who Do You Think You Are joined the ladies in an episode of the best of the "ViewTube" with celebrity exit interviews and backstage footage.

    Thursday-The beautiful Valerie Bertinelli (Jenny Craig spokeswoman) will be a co-host today with the ladies. Abigail Breslin, a former Oscar nominee and star from Broadway's The Mirable Worker will be on.  A musical performance from Broadway's Fela will also be featured along with Mia Wasikowska from Alice in Wonderland (the new film with Johnny Depp).

    Friday-The "Road to the Oscar's" episode will feature Don Cheadle and Wesley Snipes.  The best and worst of Oscar fashion will be seen in "The History of Oscar Fashion".  Michael Phillips and Tony Scott from At the Movies will announce their Oscar predictions. 

    My View of The View
    My take on Tuesdays show:

    The ladies discussed the new dancers on "Dancing With the Stars".  Kate Gosselin, Buzz Aldrin (yes, the astronaut) to name just two of the new contestants and probably two of the most unexpected.  An interesting point was brought up.  Do you think Buzz Aldrin, an American hero, will have a tarnished image for joining this show?  At first I was shocked and (I admit) a little horrified that this man who is an American icon would stoop to being on a reality show.  I started to reconsider when one of the ladies pointed out that people may see him as more of a human being.  We do seem to put our heros on pedestals.  Maybe he is a wonderful dancer.  I am curious though at what has motivated him to join the show. 

    Elizabeth had a "Bachelor hangover" after watching the conclusion of this seasons hot show.  I loved that term.  Have you ever felt letdown the morning after watching a show-a pit in your stomach from how it ended? If you haven't heard, the Bachelor chose the woman who he had the chemical pull with rather than the one who he had connected with emotionally.  Like Sherri, I wonder how long this relationship will last.

    Robert Pattinson (Twilight series) and Emilie de Ravin (Lost) were on promoting their new movie, Remember Me.  It always amazes me that actors can perfect an American accent for roles.  I don't know why that always amazes me when American actors can perfect English and Australian accents.  Walters complimented him by comparing him to James Dean.  I have to admit I can't see him in anything beyond his role in Twilight so I want to see his new movie.  Pattinson in some ways seemed embarrassed by his heartthrob status.  He was very personable with the ladies and he seemed down-to-earth honestly admitting to having a panic attack at a premiere and hiding in the car.  I loved his comment about Betty White being sexy when asked if he would date an older woman.

    Emilie mentioned that there are only three episodes left yet to film of Lost.  It seems that the actors themselves are unsure about where the writers of Lost are heading.  Darn.  I was hoping for some insight.  This season is driving me crazy.  I have a feeling that the moring after the season finale, I am going to have a "Lost hangover".  Emilie seemed oversahdowed a bit by the hoopla over Pattinson's hearthrob status.  She looked amazing though and had on an awesome pair of shoes.   

    Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, was also on promoting his new book, No Apology.  He was very candid about what needs to change in America.  He semi-jokingly had responded to a question about what he would change by changing the president, Congress, and the senate.  He went on to state that we need to balance our budget and reform our schools-two things that I feel strongly about myself.  I think he related to the feelings of many of the day's viewers when he said we need to stop pointing fingers and talking about what is wrong and start acting.

    You can catch episodes you missed by watching them online at The View's website.  See what other moms are saying about The View with #theviewmoms.

    Why am I an ambassador for The View?  I love being able to support this diverse group of women (some of whom are moms) who share their viewpoints on today's topics.

    I am a participant in a Mom Central campaign for ABC Daytime and will receive a tote bag or other The View branded items to facilitate my review.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Another Year Older (Wiser, Not So Much)

    It's official...as of 11:29 last evening I was another year older. 

    I always expect to feel different-an internal change of sorts.  Yet, I am always disappointed.  No new wisdom is imparted on one's birthday.  New wisdom seems to seep in on other days when you are not looking for it.

    How did I celebrate?  It was really just another day in our household but there were small differences.  A ton of birthday wishes filled my personal Facebook page, I received calls from friends with well wishes, and I didn't cook.  Officially, my birthday dinner is tonight.  I didn't have the foresight to make a dinner reservation.  Ooops. 

    Yes, I made my own b-day dinner reservation.  My husband does NOT make reservations of any kind and that inlcudes getting his car serviced.  Did I mention I made a reservation for two adults AND two children?  I never had to ask before if a restaurant was child-friendly. 

    My dancing and singing skills have not improved.  Dancing around the kitchen in the morning, my daughter pleaded with me to stop singing.  "No, Mommy, No, Mommy...stop".  "No shimmy-shake, Mommy, no."  I guess there are some things that don't improve with age.

    I loved hearing my daughter say, "Happy Birthday, Mommy" for the first time.  It was music to my ears.  She kept saying how she hoped I  had a birthday party.  She loves cake and ice cream.  We stopped for ice cream at a local ice cream shop even though it felt like it was below freezing outside.  I love, love, love their freshly made ice cream.  They have one that is a mix of chocolate and vanilla ice cream with chocolate cookie crumbles mixed in and appropriately named "chocolate birthday cake" but they didn't have any yesterday.  It was okay.  I requested my own version-chocolate and vanilla ice cream scoops with oreo cookie crumbles. 

    What did my husband get me for my birthday?  The perfect gift for any blogging mama. A new laptop-one that does not weigh as much as a newborn infant or one that is bulky.  I have a compact laptop now without the bells and whistles of my older one but also without viruses and weird pop-up messages. 

    I am one happy, blogging mama this morning.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    Prima Princessa DVD Review & Giveaway

    Most little girls dream of becoming ballerinas and twirl around the living room pretending they are on stage.  Today, Prima Princessa, founded by two mom-entrepreneurs, is re-releasing their Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake DVD.

    Prima Princessa, an animated fairy, introduces little girls to the enchanting world of the Paris Opera Ballet as they dance to Peter Tschaikovsky's music in Swan Lake.  In between each act, beginner ballet steps such as pirouettes and jetes are demonstrated by the talented students of the School of American Ballet.  The names of the dance steps are displayed on the screen so older children can read and recognize them. There is also a collage of Little Prima Princessa Ballerinas dancing, animals, and toys as the music plays. 

    The Prima Princessa narrates the story.  The story of Swan Lake centers around Prince Seigfried and Odette, the Swan Queen.  Seigfried goes into the forest with the crossbow given to him as a birthday gift by his mother who has informed him he will need to choose a bride at the ball that is fast approaching.  He sits by Swan Lake and watches the swans who turn into girls as darkness falls. The girls have been cursed by an evil sorcerer, von Rothbart.  The lake iteself was formed by the girls' parents' tears.

    Odette, the Swan Queen and Prince Seigfried fall in love.  At dawn, the prince makes Odette promise to come to the ball where he will proclaim his intention of making her his bride thus defeating the sorcerer and his spell.  The sorcerer tries to trick the prince by disguising his daughter, Odile, as Odette so that the prince will proclaim his love to the fake Odette. Odette witnesses his proclamation of love and flees the ball.  When the prince sees Odette, he realizes he has made a grave error. As with most fairy tales, there is a happy-ever-after ending to this timeless tale.

    My daughter, Emmy loves to dance around in her little princess dress with tutus underneath so that they poof around her as she spins.  Prima Princessa entranced her for 40 minutes.  She is only 2 1/2 and not quite old enough to take dance classes.  My daughter tried to mimic the dancers' kicks and spins.  At one point she asked to dance with our 8 month old so I stood her up and Emmy pretended to dance with her as the prince and Odette danced onscreen. She was having so much fun.  Of course, she had to switch costumes halfway through.  At the end, she was pretending to be a "fairy ballerina" just like Prima Princessa and even flapping "her wings" like the "swans".  Prima Princessa was the perfect introduction to dance for my little daughter.  This is definitely a DVD that she will want to watch again and again.

    The Prima Princessa website also has a ballet dictionary, coloring pages, and a teacher's guide for dance instructors.  To purchase your own copy of Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake visit Amazon.com or Target.com.  For additional places to obtain a copy, visit the Prima Princessa website.

    Want to win your own copy?

    Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake DVD Giveaway

    To enter do any (or all) of the following and leave a comment:
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    *Add The Practical Mom Guide to your blogroll or display our button (5 entries)

    *Post about this giveaway on your blog (5 entries)

    This giveaway will end on Tuesday, March 16, 2010. I will announce the winner on March 17th here at The Practical Mom Guide. If I am unable to contact the winner or they do not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

    Good luck and thanks for participating!

    *Contest only open to U.S. residents.
    *I was sent a copy of Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake  in order to write an accurate and honest review.  No other compensation was or will be provided.  I was made aware of this review/giveaway opportunity by Prima Princessa through The Product Review Place.