Thursday, April 29, 2010

Live Simply Children's Health Journal Review & Giveaway

Remember those days when you experienced the excitement of registering for your baby shower?  If you were like me you poured over lists of recommended items to register for and perused reviews of necessary items trying to choose the best thing for your little bundle of joy.  One thing that was missing from those lists was a children's health journal.  As the mom now of two girls, I can safely say this is a must-have for any new mom.  

Kelly Argall, one of the founders of Live Simply, explained why she and her sisters created the Children's Health Journal.  The inspiration behind the Children's Health Journal was the notebook she kept starting when her daughter, Chloe was born.  Health care professionals were always impressed with her notes and the information she kept in the notebook. Not only did it have Chloe's medical history but also emergency contact information and medical insurance information. The book accompanied Chloe to the babysitters and daycare.

Kelly wanted the Children's Health Journal to be simple so moms would use it.  She didn't want them to feel overwhelmed when recording medical information.  

Details about the boook:
  •  There are spaces for emergency contact information and medical information are on the inside cover.
  • There is a plastic holder for 8 business cards.
  • The book is organized into 10 sections including Family Medical History, Child's Medical History, Wellness Checkup, Sick Day Record, Allergy Record, Specialists Record, Dental Record, Vision Record, Financial Summary, and General Notes.
  • Each section has a different color tab and is labeled so the sections are easily accessible.
  • The book fits easily inside a diaper bag (and even a purse if you are like me and carry a large shoulder bag).
  • There is a pocket in the back of the book for addititional  documentation or receipts.
  • The book is perfect for documenting your child's medical history from birth until age 18.
TPMG's Review:
I am in love with this book.  When my oldest daughter was born, the only children's medical journals I could really find were cutesy little books that were more for recording milestones and seemed to be of use only until the child entered school. You can tell that this book was designed by a mom.  

The Wellness Checkup section has spaces to record your child's height, weight, percentiles, and immunizations plus lots of room to write questions and make notes.  As a new mom, I remember going to the pediatrician's office with a list of questions ranging from sleeping habits, noises my daughter made, and what to feed her and when.  I kept all of the little papers that they gave me with my daughter's height and weight and the list of immunizations. Now moms can record all of those details in one book.  The Sick Day section has spaces to write your child's temperature, time taken, medications dispensed, the time given, and symptoms or notes from the doctor. This way if you have to call the doctor or go for an office visit you can give your child's doctor up-to-date and accurate information.

As the mom of a little girl who has glasses, has been visiting the dentist since she was 9 months old, and who has seen more specialists than I care to list, I have to say that this is a fabulous tool for any mom. I love any product that allows me to be organized and this product certainly does that with ease. Now I don't have to pull out my file folder with all of my medical notes and bills, I have a compact book to carry with me. I especially like the financial summary section where I can detail my copays since we have a medical reimbursement program that we belong to. I can slip the receipts into the pocket and when I need them, I know where they are.

This book was well thought out and makes it incredibly easy to document your child's health.  No more searching for documents or trying to rack your brain about what your doctor talked about during an office visit.  Best of all, I can leave it in my daughter's diaper bag and know that everything I need is there for her next trip to grandma's or on our next trip to the doctor. If you have older children, you can put it in a drawer and pull it out whenever you need to.

Any TPMG readers, who would like to own one of these journals, can get 10% off of their purchase with the code
TMPG10.

Want to win one of these Children's Health Journal's or know a new mom who would love this as a gift?
 
Live Simply Children's Health Journal Giveaway ($19.95 value)

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit Live Simply and leave a comment here about what you would like to see in their Women's Health Journals and Pet's Health Journals which are coming soon! (1 entry)

To receive additional entries:
Don't forget to leave a separate comment for each entry & to include your email if it is not on your Blogger profile.


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*Tweet (maximum of once daily) about this giveaway
Copy and paste: Live Simply Children's Health Journal #Giveaway at #TPMG. http://bit.ly/d6oQYp Please RT.  (1 entry per tweet)

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

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

*If you purchase a Live Simply Children's Health Journal from the website you will get 10 extra entries!

This giveaway will end on Thursday, May 13, 2010. I will announce the winner on May 14th 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 provided with a Live Simply Children's Health Journal in order to facilitate an accurate and fair review.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Ugly Frog

At the holidays, many families have traditions or jokes that they play on each other. In my husband's family it is the passing of Frog. Where did we find such a hideous amphibian?  Believe it or not my husband and future brother-in-law actually paid for this red-eyed monstrosity at Williamsburg Pottery in VA. 

My husband (we were only dating at the time), my husband's sister, and her boyfriend (now her husband) had taken a trip to Williamsburg.  We visited the historic sites and visited Busch Gardens but my sister-in-aw and I wanted to do some shopping. We thought Williamsburg Pottery would be fun.  The boys thought it was going to be torture.  We promised to meet them in two hours. How much trouble could the boys get into?

They set out to find the tackiest, ugliest gift for us to take home.  Needless to say the employees looked at them crazy when they said they wanted to buy this frog.  He was bright green with a yellow face and stomach.  He had a red leaf and flower on his belly, a goofy stoned-out grin, and bright red eyes.  Not to mention the black 9.99 across what passed for his nose (you can't really see it in the picture). 


My daughter when she was only a year old with the frog.

When we met at our designated spot, there were the guys with this ugly frog.  He was made of whatever garden statues are made of and is not exactly a lightweight.  The guys admitted that this frog was now ours.  The questions we begged of them was how were we going to get this thing home and who got to keep this hideous thing when we got there.  The trunk of our car was filled with our luggage so my sister-in-law and I rode in the backseat with the frog between us the entire trip home.  Unfortunately, I fell asleep during the drive and when my head dropped forward and to the side, I almost gave myself a concussion when my head collided with the frog.

On the drive home, when I was awake, and during a rest stop at Arby's, we plotted the Ugly Frog's Grand Tour.  We thought about how cool it would be if we took him with us on trips and took pictures of him at various locales (kind of like the ads for the Travelocity gnome that came about a few years later).  We joked about how maybe he could become so popular with all the places he visited that he might make it onto the night shows like Jay Leno.  How could he not?  He was certainly eye-catching and ugly enough to garner lots of attention wherever he went, right? How could we have ever thought we could get this guy on a plane?

Needless to say, my future sister-in-law and her boyfriend adopted the frog and gave him a home in their garage.  He didn't see the light of day until my husband moved into his first house.  They sneaked him onto the porch of his new home.  My husband didn't find it so amusing.  He was more appalled about what the neighbors would think. At that point, the frog found a new home in my future husband's garage.  The frog's grand adventures never occurred but he became part of a fun new game-called Let's Embarrass the Family.  He made appearances at important family events. My sister-in-law knew that one day they would be paid back.  They were.  At their wedding.

My sister-in-law and her husband had their reception in a beautiful social club nearby.  The frog was decked out in a veil sitting atop a table and he greeted guests as they walked into the beautiful and slightly formal social club. Frog had crashed the party.  Needless to say, I don't think my sister-in-law saw that one coming.  I will say, they were good sports about it. 

Frog's next appearance wouldn't be for a few more years-not until my husband and I were married.  We knew he would make an appearance but were expecting him to make a grander entrance. He appeared in our limo where we found him before our formal wedding pictures were to be taken. He joined in the fun.

It looks like the frog turned into my prince.

My husband and I were married four years ago and last year on a surprise trip to see my sister-in-law and her family we left the frog on the front lawn of their home.  They had moved farther north last year.  She had called my mother-in-law to see if she was the one who put it there.  My mother-in-law knew about our trip but she played it well.  My sister-in-law was stumped.  Then she called my husband.  He admitted that we were up visiting for the weekend. We had planned to visit Mystic, CT before our second daughter was due.  I had been about eight months pregnant at the time.  My husband who had driven the entire way  up had wanted me to get out and put the frog on their lawn.  Unfortunately, I wasn't moving very fast at the time so I made him do it.

The next morning the frog lost his feet after sitting out overnight in a rainstorm. When they went to pick him up, his feet stayed on the ground.  Frog had a good run.  We had a lot of fun memories even if he didn't make it onto Jay Leno.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One Word


As you know, I had recently read Eat, Pray, Love.  If you had one word to describe you as a woman, as a mom, as a wife, a sister, a friend...one word that embodies who you are, what would it be? One word that ties up all of your roles and all that you are mind, body, and soul.

I have been thinking about this relentlessly for weeks.  Maybe, too hard.  I still haven't come up with one word.  I am a verbose person.  I am not sure concise could ever be used to describe me.   Coming up with one word is like asking a mom which of her children is her favorite (of course if you have one child that certainly makes it easier).  If we were simple people and one-dimensional than this task would be made easier still. Yet, in reality we are so complex. Elizabeth Gilbert thought of SEEK, PLEASURE, DEVOTION, and other words before settling on her word.

I thought about narrowing it down to an adjective, a noun, or a verb.  Still no luck.

The other night I thought of TRANSFORMATION.  I am always striving to be better at something, constantly changing. My views of motherhood and parenting are always evolving.  I am always moving things around, trying to be better organized.  Molding, blending...transforming. Okay, maybe REMODEL would fit better. Hmmm...maybe INQUIRER.  I am always curious about anything and everything.  Are we not always inquiring about how we can be better mothers, friends, siblings...

This challenge of coming up with just one word is driving me crazy.  This quest is like a song I can't get out of my head.  I almost want to give into the urge to grab a dictionary and scour its pages for a unique word that would roll off my tongue.  Or I could just ask my friend, a writer, for suggestions. She always has good ideas to share.

I am resisting that urge.  I know the right word will appear at some point.  Maybe this can be an exercise in cultivating the patience which I seem to have lost in the last few years (or at least seen its decline).

Enough with my philosophical meanderings.

What word describes you? 

Photo credit: Michelini on Stock.xchng

Friday, April 23, 2010

Go Eat a Dandelion

Photo credit: Dylen at Stock.Xchng
Seriously.  I dare you.

They are edible, did you know that?  I grew up in a house that looked like a farmhouse with a huge garden in the back (about 1/2 the length of a football field) faithfully tended by my grandparents who lived minutes away.  Both of my parents worked growing up but would occasionally help tend the garden as would my sister and I.  

We also had a large lawn surrounding the house.  My grandparents would come over in the early spring armed with a spade and a dish pan.  I would watch them from inside hunched over the lawn, digging up dandelions.  My grandfather in his straw hat and my grandmother in pants even in the warm spring air.

While I am not a fan of dandelions (they often have a somewhat bitter taste), I loved the hot bacon dressing that my grandmother would make to put over them.  I can still see her back turned towards me as she cooked at the stove.  Mmmm.  I can still smell the bacon grease from her kitchen and the sweetness of the dressing on my tongue.

Dandelion leaves and roots have been used for years for medicinal purposes.  Many people eat the leaves in salads, boiled, or sauteed like spinach.  This "weed" has many important vitamins.

It is a little late to go pick some dandelions to cook up since they would probably be awfully bitter (they are still a little bitter even in early spring from my experience) by this time.  It is best to pick them before they bloom.  Most people recommend eating them with some type of vinegar dressing. 

My daughter loves to pick dandelions.  She thinks they are pretty flowers that grow abundantly in our yard (or did until we hired a lawn service to take care of this pesky nuisance). Anytime we went outside, that is what she would do first-pick dandelions and then run to me.  She would hand me the flower saying, "Here you go Mommy, a flower for you."  My heart would melt.  She liked to put them in my hair especially and proclaim "so pretty".  

To us adults, we see them as weeds, invading our lawns. When we go outside for a walk, we can smell the noxious fumes from the toxic cloud around our homes or our neighbors homes as they try to rid themselves of these "weeds".  Anything beyond a lush green lawn is unacceptable. 

Maybe this is just another life lesson that we need to look beyond the obvious for the good in something. We  can take something from these little "weeds" which really aren't "weeds" at all.  Instead they are nutrition for our bodies and our souls if we let them be.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Going Green for the Day

 
It's Earth Day.

It's a day to be outside if the weather cooperates and the toxic cloud around our house dissipates (more about that tomorrow).

Here are some ideas for things to do with your family today or this weekend to celebrate Earth Day:

Go for a bike ride
Plant flowers or vegetables in pots or in a family garden
Visit a farm, greenhouse, or the beach
Visit a farmer's market this weekend and buy local
Visit a recycling center
Have a nature scavenger hunt
Host a swap meet (meet with friends or other people in the community to swap home decor, books, or anything else of interest)
Pick up garbage along a road or in your town
Go to the park to play on the playground
Observe little critters in their habitat
Go for a walk in your neighborhood or in a state park
Have a yard sale (afterall, one man's junk is another man's treasure) and donate the proceeds
Plant a tree (purchase a $10 membership to the Arbor Day Foundation  and get 10 free trees to plant or send as a gift to someone else to plant)


Make art out of household items such as using newspapers, magazines, scraps of paper, etc. to create collages
Play online games (check out the Earth Day themed games at Kaboose)
Read books about saving our earth (from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss to The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth)

Here are some cool Earth Day craft sites (I listed some of the crafts so you could pick a craft based on what kind of materials you have laying around the house) for young ones:

At Kaboose kids can learn how to make seeded book marks, egg cup insects, a terrarium with soda bottles, coffee ground fossils, tin can herb pots, toothbrush bracelets, and recycled newspaper pictures.  This site is aimed at preschool and up.

DLTK has lots of activities such as songs, information on Earth Day, coloring pages, posters, worksheets, and crafts (including a 3D Earth, cloud wind puppet, coffee filter Earth,  coffee filter fairy, an Earth Day handprint wreath, an Earth Day paper plate wreath, a habitat shoe box craft, pinwheels, recycled vests) and games such as Bingo and Memory. This site is geared mainly towards preschool.

The EPA has a  Happy Earth Day Activities Book (printable).

First School has a list of activities such as games, crafts, and printables for preschoolers and kindergartners.

Enchanted Learning has activities such as pendants, bird feeders, rain sticks, and origami for Earth Day and lots of Earth Day printables such as Match the Syllables, Finish the Drawing, an Earth Day Activity Book, and an Acrostic Poem.

Even toddlers can be taught to help save our environment by helping plant vegetation, turning off the tv, keeping the fridge closed, turning off lights (our two year old turns off her nightlight in the morning), not letting the water run when brushing their teeth or using less water for baths, using dish cloths instead of paper towels to clean up, helping mom and dad recycle, and going for walks to the store with mom and dad instead of driving.

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stop, Drop, and STARE

I was driving to the grocery store the other day and saw a billboard out of my driver's-side window.  I did a double take, puzzled.

On the left hand side of the billboard is a picture of a man's profile. I guessed the man's age to be about 50ish and he is wearing a suit. You can glimpse his tie, crisp white shirt, and suit jacket. His face-shown in profile-is scrunched up and his eyes closed. He is puckering his lips as if to give someone (presumably his mother-in-law) a kiss-something he finds incredibly distasteful.  At first glance, I thought it was George Bush but then common sense prevailed.

In the center of the billboard is a picture of a road leading into the distance. HUH?!?!  Obviously I am missing something important.

On the right hand side of the billboard is an older woman, obviously the mother-in-law, with a sour puss expression on her face.  She really does look like she just sucked on a lemon. She is facing straight but her eyes are on her son-in-law to her left.  She doesn't look to thrilled to be kissed by this man.  Her eyebrows are penciled in and her make-up is a little heavy handed.  She looks like "that" older woman who goes to the salon once a week to have her hair set and sprays so much hairspray in her hair that it gets her through the week until she goes back to the salon.

At the bottom of the billboard was the website www.kissyourmotherinlaw.com. 

If you had seen this billboard what would you have thought the website was for???????????

As soon as I got to the grocery store, I did what any self-respecting woman would do and called her husband and asked him to check out the website. I could have done it on my phone but he could do it faster.

I thought it was maybe a gift site with wacky gifts for mother-in-laws and moms since Mother's Day was right around the corner, a site dedicated to fun stories about moms and mother-in-laws, and the list went on.

My husband came back on the phone and proclaimed that I was a sucker.  Was I? Yup.  Want to know what the website was for?

A local car dealership.

The depth of my disappointment knew no bounds.  I thought it would be something somewhat entertaining. The only road I was on was the road to lameville. I was a sucker. I should have known it would be for a car dealership.  The only thing they were trying to sell was cars.

On the bright side, the billboard made me smile.

This reminded me of a billboard down the road from where we used to live a few years ago.  It was for Outhouse Springs. Outhouse was a fake product that was created to show how successful outdoor marketing (billboards) could be.  In fact, it supposedly became a real product due to the huge attention it drew.  I can't help it.  Blame my warped sense of humor.  This still makes me laugh.

 
Have you ever seen a billboard that was memorable?!?!  What was it?

(I tried to find a picture of the billboard for the car dealership online but couldn't find one.  Darn.  I am to embarrassed to stop on the side of the road to take a picture.  Sorry, folks.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chugga Chugga: My Little Red Car


For those of you with young ones, you may have recognized the title of this blog post.  Yep, it is a play on the Wiggles  "Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car" song which has been played many a time here in our household.  It reminds me of my first car.

My husband and I were talking about our first cars and this inevitably led to a discussion on when our daughters would be allowed to get their licenses.  Fast forward thirteen years. Would we buy them their first cars?  Would they be responsible for paying their own car insurance?  When would they be allowed to use their car?  What offenses would warrant losing this privilege?  We agreed to disagree and decided that this topic is something we would have to entertain when the girls are much, much older.  It was interesting though to talk about how different my husband and my experiences were in regards to learning how to drive.

What was your first car? Mine was an '89 red Ford Escort.  The year was 1996. I still remember the exhaust and engine problems this car had.  It spent much time sitting in the local mechanic's shop, getting repairs. My car was nicknamed Little Red.  My friend's car was Big Red. 

I picked the car out myself.  I had no clue how to go about choosing a car.  I needed a car to learn how to drive.  My experiences behind the wheel were few and far between.  There were the stints sitting on my dad's lap when I was little, turning the steering wheel while he worked the gas and the brake pedals.  This was in our driveway by the way and not on the highway.  There was also that one stint driving bumper cars.  I  kept getting stuck and needing help from one of the amusement park workers.  Who can forget the infamous go-karting outing which also ended badly.   Luckily only my pride was hurt and I walked away only with a nasty headache.

Once driving with my sister during the summer we were struck as my sister was pulling out at a light.  It wasn't a bad collision and my sister had been driving my mom's car.  My mom owned a tank. In fact, there was only a mild dent.  Yet, the collision left a bigger impression in my memory.

Let's face it-I was scared to get behind the wheel. The one time my mom "attempted" to teach me to drive, she kept grasping the dashboard, slamming her foot on an imaginary break, and making little gasping noises.  All of this was before we even made it out of the parking lot.  A dear friend bravely taught me to drive in my little red car.  I probably should mention that I was 19 at the time and in college. This was the same friend who had nicknamed her car Big Red.

I even taught myself to parallel park the night before my driving test.  I used our riding lawn mower and my mom's car.  A picnic bench turned on its side resembled the curb. After rereading the driver's education manual, I attempted to teach myself this skill.  Looking back, my mom was a pretty good sport for letting me attempt this.  Maybe she was making up for her inability to shore up her nerves enough to teach me this necessary skill herself.

Needless to say I managed to parallel park my little red escort the next morning (after one failed attempt).  I luckily had a very nice, understanding instructor in the car with me.  No cones were damaged in my attempts.  I passed my test and officially was given my license.

Unfortunately, may our picnic bench rest in peace.  The lawn mower fared better though.  It seemed fine the next time I started it up. You would never know I had hit it.  It already had a few scratches on it so who would notice a few more...After two successful attempts at teaching myself parallel parking and feeling mighty proud of myself, it appeared that the third time apparently was the "charm".

What are your thoughts on teens getting their licenses?  

Memories or thoughts on the financial aspect of this milestone?

*Photo credit: donvito101 from stock.xchng

Friday, April 16, 2010

KINeSYS Sunscreen Review & Giveaway

As the mom of a toddler, getting my daughter to sit still for me to apply sunscreen takes lots of finesse and usually one of us is near tears.  Last year I started using the spray sunscreens but I hated how greasy they left my daughter's skin.  With a toddler, they are always rubbing their skin if they notice something on it.  Sunscreen on hands near their little eyes is a recipe for more tears.



KINeSYS is different. I used the Kids KINeSYS Sunscreen on my two-year old daughter.  The directions say it will dry within 2-3 minutes after spraying it on but I found that my daughters skin was dry almost immediately.  Her skin was not greasy at all.  You wouldn't be able to tell I had even put sunscreen on since no residue was left behind.  To put it on her face, I just sprayed my hands well and rubbed it on her little face.  I also put it on her scalp since keeping a hat on her is impossible.

I worried that the SPF 30 would not be enough protection but after being in the sun for over an hour my skin and my daughter's was well protected and neither of us had any sunburn at all.  Even better, I love that there was no fragrance to the sunscreen and it was oil-free, alcohol-free, paraben-free, and preservative-free.  The sunscreen is sweat and water-resistant which is good for a moms piece of mind, whether you have active toddlers or teens. 

KINeSYS has been featured in O, Real Simple, Newsweek and other publications. They also have made a commitment being an eco-friendly company.  All bottles are 100% recyclable.  The sunscreens have non-aerosol pharmaceutical-grade sprayers that do not have a negative impact on the environment.  They also purchase electricity generated by wind power to offset the other electricity used by their manufacturing and offices. Click here to read more about KINeSYS commitment to the environment.

According to the KINeSYS website, 1 in 5 Americans may develop skin cancer in their lifetime which is an alarming statistic.  My mom and grandfather have both had skin cancer so I know the importance of applying sunscreen when outside.  Sunscreen is one of the things I always have in my diaper bag and purse regardless of the season.

This mom is definitely giving KINeSYS sunscreen two thumbs up.  Easy application, suitable for all members of the family, gentle on our skin, and giving us all the protection that we need helps put my mind at ease during the spring and summer months as my family ventures outdoors more.  I also respect KINeSYS for respecting our environment. Who could ask for more out of their sunscreen? 

Want to try KINeSYS yourself for free?

KINeSYS Sunscreen Giveaway ($38 value)

Enter to win a 4 oz. bottle of Girl SPF 30 Spray (has a green tea and vanilla fragrance) & a 1oz. bottle of Hydrating Mouisturizer SPF 15.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit KINeSYS and leave a comment about something you learned from their website. It may be about the company, their green efforts, sun facts or anything else you learned. (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)

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*Tweet (maximum of once daily) about this giveaway
Copy and paste: Win KINeSYS Sunscreen ($38 value) at#TPMG http://bit.ly/bgPbud Please RT. (1 entry per tweet)

*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 30, 2010. I will announce the winner on May 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.
I was sent products by KINeSYS in order to facilitate an honest review.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I remember as a child sitting on the couch with my dad watching baseball.  My dad was a devout Phillies fan.  One year we had made the pilgrimage to Cooperstown, NY to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  I was in elementary school and let me tell you I was bored to tears.  We would also eat hot dogs and ice cream in the little plastic helmets at Reading Phillies games under the blazing sun.

This is the 2008 World Series trophy that traveled around last year for fans to view.  If you can't tell, I was frozen.  All I remember from that night was that it was very, very cold (hence my three layers of clothing) and the unbelievable line of people to have their picture taken with the trophy.

My husband who is not a sports fan bought season tickets to see the minor league team that now resides close by. And now for the third year in a row, we will sit and enjoy the games with friends.  We will sit in the same seats that we have occupied since the team's inaugural game in the new stadium. Tonight marks the night of the start of the season with the team's first home game.

The boys will ogle the players girlfriends or groupies, people will dress up in their outrageous outfits, drunks will heckle, and we will gorge ourselves on rare occasions on hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, and maybe a beer or two.  We will chat with friends that we have made with other ticket holders around us, sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning, and we will once again question repeatedly why they don't sell Cracker Jacks at the stadium.

I have to say it was pretty boring last year compared to the previous year when their outfielder threw a temper tantrum, cursed the umpire, and then went into the dugout and threw a bat onto the field. He was ejected of course.  Needless to say he had a wee bit of a temper.  His outburst was the highlight of the game.  There was also the night they went through almost all of their pitchers and the first basemen was sent in to pitch and struck out two or three players in a row.  We still joke that he probably has the best pitching average in the league. Sad, but true.

Of course there was the flying bat incident last year.  Beware of flying balls and bats reads the signs.That would be good to remember. That is also why when we take the girls this year, we will be sitting on the lawn on a blanket far from flying projectiles (except of course for the occasional t-shirt or koozie).

Hopefully, there will also be no need to remind any overzealous fans whose mouth gets away from them that it is afterall just a game (and that there are little kids present).  If you have a blue mouth (yes, that means you, Mr. Yankee Man), watch out for flying balls, bats, and mad mamas.

Want more Wordful Wednesday, click here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our "Forever House"

Four years ago we lived in a nice neighborhood, full of families who commuted to work over the river to a neighboring state.  They were lured to live here by the lower cost of living, especially the lower taxes.  My husband, born nearby, worked over the river and commuted about an hour away while I commuted an hour in the opposite direction to my job at a public school.  We lived outside of a small city. Our neighbors in the development where we lived had ties over the river and were not over friendly. For the most part we never made it beyond saying hello. The school district also faced a lot of problems: budget shortages, weapons, drugs, gangs, poor test scores, and the list went on.

After we were married we started talking about moving before we started a family.  We packed up all of our extraneous chotskies.  Boxes were stacked in the garage to the point where we couldn't put any cars inside. As soon as our house was up for sale, we started looking at houses for sale in the area where we wanted to live. We should have known this was going to be dangerous for our wallets. 

We found our "forever house".  This is the house where our daughters (who were just a thought at the time) will grow, will have their first sleepovers, will catch their first school bus.  It will be where their first boyfriends will come in to meet the parents (us), and where they will  make their childhood memories.

We made an offer even before our other house sold.  Luckily this was before the real estate market had tanked so our other home sold shortly thereafter. 

We can look beyond the leaking toilets (all three at the exact same time right after we moved in), the field of dandelions (which we are still dealing with), the sunken pavers, and the floating liner in the pool (due to drainage issues since we live at the bottom of a hill).  I can't forget to mention the ground hog (that is larger than the cat that roams the neighborhood) that has taken up residence under our shed.

Our neighborhood is safe. Our neighborhood is the kind of place where the women gather once a month to play Bunko.  Where people look out for each other.   Our home resides outside of a small town.  The kind of town that was settled centuries ago and still tries to maintain its roots.  Our school district is one of the best in the county.

While I know no place is perfect and there are always flaws.  How can we not try to see beyond them?
 
This is where we choose to be happy.  This is where we hope to stay.  And this is where our roots will grow.

What is your "forever house" like?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Moving Day: Coping with Moving

We have all had friends or family move away.  It seems in the last year, we personally have had several close friends and family members move.  Ironically, before that we probably couldn't name any close friends or family who had moved away while we have been married.  With the downturn in the economy, many people are relocating due to job losses or new opportunities.  While it is a chance to make a fresh start, there is also a lot of uncertainty moving so far from your support system of family and friends.

What can you do as a friend to help those moving?

  • Promise to keep in touch 
With social media such as Facebook and Twitter, it is easier to stay in touch with family and friends.  Letters and photos in the mail are always an unexpected surprise to.
  • Stay positive 
While you may miss your friends, telling them how much you hate them moving away repeatedly may make it harder for them.  It is important to tell them how much they mean you but while you may miss them, think how much harder it is on them.
  • Offer help
Offer help packing and loading up the moving truck.  Babysitting so they can have some alone time amidst moving preparations can help them tremendously. 
  • Throw them a going away party
If you have a lot of mutual friends, throw them a party-a chance to get everyone together one last time.
  •  Lend an ear
Listen if your friend needs someone to talk to. 

How to cope with moving away from family and friends:
  • Bonding time 
This is a chance to become closer with your husband and children.  Don't forget to talk with your children about moving and how they are feeling.  It is going to be a new experience  for everyone. Look at your family as the explorers of your new neighborhood.       
  • Eat, drink, and sleep
With so many new changes, staying healthy is important.  Eat right, drink plenty of water, and get enough sleep. You don't want to add being sick to your list of things to deal with in a new place.
  • Go out  
Meet your neighbors.  Ask them for recommendations for pediatricians and things to do.  They are also knowledgeable about local babysitters (they may even have children who babysit).  Check out Meetup.com for mom's groups or other groups that meet in the area that may interest you (scrapbooking, photography, etc.).  Join a local church, gym, or visit a local community center to meet new people to add to your network of friends.        
  • Stay in touch with your family and old friends 
Phone calls, emails, visits home, and a chance for your friends to come visit you on vacation are all  things you can look forward to. Your old friends and your family are still there for you even if they are no longer right around the corner.  Technology is an amazing thing for staying in touch.  Webcams are a relatively inexpensive option so you can still "see" everyone when you are talking to them.        
  • Stay positive 
While you may not be happy moving, it is important that your children see that you are on board with your move.  It will help make them feel more secure.  This is a chance to reinvent who you are and to let go of any past mistakes that you may have made.  Make this a fresh start for your family.
  • Be realistic 
It is going to take time to adjust and feeling lonely and out of sorts is normal.  Don't expect to feel settled overnight.  It will take time to make new friends and build up the support system you had where you used to live.      
         
 Keep in mind that you are never alone.  Your family and old friends are just a phone call away.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Guest Poster

It’s All About Mom
I was a guest poster with "Show Yourself Some Mommy Love" on Jess's It's All About the Savings today.  Some of my older readers may remember this post from around V-day.  She is having an All About Mom event until the 17th of April with lots of great giveaways!

Some of her current giveaways include:
  • KGeddes Creations Crystal and Peal with Copper Bracelet & Earring Set
  • a copy of Daughter-in-Law Rules
  • Wilton Prize Pack
  • Charm bracelet from Charm Factory
  • Iced Tea Starter Set from Golden Moon Tea
Stop by and enter! Some of these would make great Mother's Day gifts for yourself, your mom, or even your Mother-in-law!

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

    Were you a product of the 80's?


    Do you remember Fashion Plates?
    All you had to do was use the various plates to make your own creation.  You put a piece of paper over the plates and using a crayon, made a rubbing of your model.  Then, using colored pencils, added color to your creation.  I spent hours playing with this toy, dreaming of being a fashion designer. 

    Today I dress my little girls in cute little outfits that I have bought.  This is as close to being a fashion designer/stylist for others that I will ever come. 

    Wonder what the 21st century equivalent of Fashion Plates is?

    My very own design

    Fashion Playtes!  I saw this on the news last night.  It is geared towards girls ages 6-12. It is a website where girls can design their own clothes.  The clothes are in sizes 6-14. The prices seem to range from around $15-$35 (accessories are cheaper).  Your child can make dresses, hoodies, t-shirts, leggings, denim jackets, skirts, headbands, and even backpacks. They can even customize their own label for the back of their garment. 

    Oh, how times have changed!  Does this mean I am officially old since I can remember the days where we did everything with crayons and colored pencils and there weren't computers readily accessible?


    *image from www.ilovethe80s.com

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday: Babezillas in LP Land




    My daughters playing with their Little People village. 
    Watching them made me think of Godzilla as he wreaked havoc on NYC in the movies.
    For more WW, click here.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    It's Award Time Again


    DaisyGirl from A Daily Scoop of Chaos  had presented me with this award awhile ago. She is a fantastic photographer, has some great giveaways, and she writes fun, honest posts.  If you haven't checked her out yet, please do so.

    Here are the rules:
    Tell 10 honest things about yourself. And of course pass it on...

    10 honest things about me:
    1. I love thunderstorms.  The more booming and flashing the better.
    2. I am a procrastinator and know it. I have tried to change and failed each and every time.
    3. I have an addictive personality hence why I always find time to write on my blog but not to do my laundry.
    4. I drive my husband crazy when I get annoyed that he gets annoyed when he says I am mad but I am really frustrated, irritated, grouchy, etc. etc. To him there are three emotions: happy, mad, or sad.  If I was really that simple, life would be so much easier.
    5. I was a hoarder when it came to my daughter's crafts in the beginning.  Someone should have warned me about the MASSIVE amounts of crafts that a 2 year old can generate and need to display for all to admire.  I have started weeding out though due to necessity and just plain ugliness. Her foam penguin that is missing the eyes and a nose just had to go.
    6. I love chocolate.  Hershey's, if you are reading this, please send some my way.
    7. I love planning parties and doing fun craft playgroups with my daughter's little friends.  I just love planning, organizing, shopping, and setting up. Maybe this is indicitive of control issues?!?!?
    8. I am constantly rearranging my house and closets. Things have a tendency to get new homes frequently.  This is probably why my husband can never find anything.
    9. I have an unhealthy addiction to reality tv (and usually don't admit to it).
    10. Okay, this is really hard for me.  My 10th honest thing is that I adore Staples gel stick pens.  I bought my own pens and kept an unending supply in my bag so I wouldn't run out when I taught high school.  I am territorial with my pens.  (I also used purple ink pens.  Yes, I used purple pens to mark my student's papers.  If you ever wonder why your kid is coming home with papers marked in purple ink, read this.)

    Did I leave anything out that you are dying to know?!?! Feel free to leave a question in a comment.

    Here are ten bloggers I am passing this award to:



    This award is from B Sparkly.  Check out her sparkly wit on her site.

    Here are the rules:
    1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
    2. List who gave the award to you and use a link to her blog (or hyperlink).
    3. List 10 things that make you happy.
    4. Pass the award on to other bloggers and visit their blog to let them know about the award.

    10 things that make me happy:
    1. Spring
    2. Season tickets to baseball (I can't watch it on tv but will happily sit in a 100 degree stadium in person)
    3. My family
    4. Shoes
    5. Sunshine
    6. Magnolias & cherry blossoms
    7. The smell of fresh cut grass
    8. Driving with the windows open
    9. Chocolate (as if you couldn't guess that would be one)
    10. Ice cream (maybe better than chocolate in the warm weather)

    Here are the bloggers I am passing this award to:
    Bear with me, it may take awhile to get around to everyone to share the bloggy love.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    A Name, A Name

    What's in a name?  How did you get your name?  How did you decide on your children's names?  Did it involve negotiation, bribery, creativity, and maybe even some cajoling on your part?

    I have been making my way through Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Writing about her visit to Bali, she commented on how the Balinese usually named their children one of four names: Wayan, Made, Nyoman, and Ketut. You were named based on your birth order.

    INGENIUS.  Oh, how simple that would make it.

    Our daughters were given names that are on the top 10 list of the most popular names of the years in which they were born.

    Not very creative of us, I know.

    How did our daughters get their names?

    BABY #1:With our first daughter, we didn't know her sex.  We were so confident we were having a boy, afterall, everyone said so...Everyone took blue plates rather than pink at my baby shower and strangers in the grocery store proclaimed it was a boy based on how I was carrying. We had picked out the baby's name based on my husband's family names and family lore: Hayden Joseph. After months of debate, the only girl's name we could agree on was Emily.

    Maybe I should mention that it is probably good we had a girl since as I was pushing my husband announced that he didn't like the name Hayden.  HIS EXCUSE? He couldn't picture Hayden Joseph on a business card.  My ultimatum was he had until my next contraction to come up with a name.  He had literally seconds and choose Ryan Joseph. Of course we had a girl (even though there was some confusion at first).

    BABY #2: Because I don't like surprises we found out the sex during my second pregnancy. If we thought naming our first daughter was hard it was impossible for the second.  The only name we could agree on was Madison and friends of ours were naming their daughter Madison (and were due several weeks before our daughter was due) so in my mind they had dibs on the name.  My husband kept bringing the name Madison up and the name kept popping up everywhere we went.  The people behind us at a baseball game calling "Madison, wait up" as their daughter ran ahead, that was the name of our server at a restaurant, friends suggesting the name, ...

    Only weeks before my due date, my friend (who was naming her daughter Madison) was joking how we should name our baby Madison to and I confessed that that was the only name the two of us could agree on but I was NOT naming our daughter the same name as their daughter since they had dibs on the name.  My friend, bless her, laughed hysterically and said they would love to have us name our daughter Madison so our "Maddies" could grow up together.

    Needless, to say we would have been fools not to name her Madison and to return to the difficult task of finding a name, enduring more disagreeing and arguing.

    How did you come up with your children's names????

    Friday, April 2, 2010

    Easter Dessert: Homemade Kandy Kake (No candy is involved I promise)

    You may not be familiar with Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes by TastyKake if you are not from PA or on the East Coast.  They were originally known as Tandy Kakes.  They have been my favorite dessert since I was a child. 

    A little vanilla cake (spongy in texture) covered by a layer of peanut butter enrobed in chocolate.  I have one word for you: Yummy.  I am thinking about making this for Easter dinner along with a cheesecake.

    You can have a Kandy Kake tower cake (similar to the towers of Krispy Creme donuts I have seen) or you can even attempt to make your own Kandy Kake, like me. 


    They are super easy to make on your own if you can't find them at a local convenience store or supermarket or if you want to make this treat a little healthier (without all of the preservatives).

    Steps to make your own Kandy Kake:
    1. All you need to do is bake a yellow cake (you can also buy a box mix).
    2. While it is still hot/warm, spread a layer of peanut butter over it.
    3. Refrigerate the cake until it cools (at least a 1/2 hour).
    4. Melt 16 oz. of milk chocolate bars or chocolate chips and spread onto the cooled cake.*

     Enjoy!

    *I put the cake in the fridge again to harden the chocolate.  I like when the chocolate is hard.  If you like it when the chocolate has more of an icing consistency then you can leave it out.

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Must I Repeat Myself

    Do you repeat yourself....again...and again...and again.

    With my daughter, after I ask her to do something three times (she never even acknowledges she has heard me), I begin to count.  Normally, she knows that she needs to get her butt in gear once the counting commences. Of course, I should point out that she is two and has the attention span of 2 seconds.  Another mom told me that it's called selective hearing and it gets worse with age.   

    With my husband, it is the same story so I am beginning to wonder if she is right.

    Honey, don't forget to ask your mother to Easter dinner.   Honey, did you say something...
    (I wonder what my MIL was thinking yesterday when I spoke to her about if she would mind coming over to watch the girls for a few hours on Saturday while I made desserts. It never even dawned on me that my husband had NOT asked her when he saw her in person on Monday.)

    Honey, tonight is your dentist appointment.  Honey, did you say something...
    (If I paid myself $25 for every time my husband has canceled his dentist appointments, I would be able to go to the Hotel Hersey every six months and soak in a tub of chocolate and have a chocolate massage.  On second thought, can't make your appointment, let me make that call for you. That's what any practical mom would do, right?)


    Honey, after the first thaw, remember we need to put stuff on the rock beds around the pool to keep the weeds from germinating. Honey, did you say something...
    (As of this post, said chore is still uncompleted and lovely weeds have been sprouting. Our thaw occurred about a month ago.  Just what I don't want-another dandelion debacle.  Mama was NOT happy about that one.)

    Honey, don't forget to make an appointment to have your car serviced.  Honey, did you say something...
    (Those lights on your dashboard are not to look pretty.  They are reminders that your car needs some TLC.  I suggest reading that book with cool pics in your glove box. It was designed specifically for men like you.)

    NOTE: My husband has his own pet peeves.  Lately I have been hearing frequently, "Do you know what would happen if I had done that?"  No, I don't. Please enlighten me. Maybe if I pretend to not have heard him...Honey, did you say something?

    Recommended Young Adult Books

    Do you remember that teacher who struck fear in your heart?  That teacher who you never made eye contact with for fear of drawing attention to yourself ?  That teacher for me was my high school English teacher, Mr. Jones.  


    He looked like an average man.  He was medium height, thin and he dressed professionally (the meaning of the word casual eluded this man) every day.  Yet, he scared me to my core.  He could cut you down in a heartbeat or with the flick of his pen.  

    Yet, he was the most memorable teacher I had in high school not just because of his demeanor, but because he excelled at what he did.  He is the one most responsible for teaching me how to write.  I could write an essay in college with the best of them due to this man's teaching.  

    I will never forget when he had assigned us a novel to read.  And it was not one of the smut books, as he called the romance books one of the girls at the front of the room read (often blatantly in front of him).  We were discussing thesis sentences, I believe.  He asked one of my closest friends her thoughts on the book.  My friend (who sat across from me) looked him directly in the eye and told him she would love to give her opinion but unfortunately she hadn't read the book.  


    Dead silence.  No one even breathed.  We were all expecting her to get screamed at (Mr. Jones didn't yell often but when he did...) or worse-kicked out of class. 


    He looked at her and to our amazement he told her that he appreciated her honesty.  To this day, we still talk about that day in Mr. Jone's class.  I still admire my friend for she is one of the most honest people I have the privilege of knowing. If you want to know how it is, just ask her.


    To this day I could rattle off the list of books we had to read in Mr. Jone's English class.  Several of which are on this list.


    Recommended Books For High School Students (Especially Those College-Bound) :
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    Jane Eyre  by Charlotte Brontë
    Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
    The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
    Queen Eleanor, Independent Spirit of The Medieval World: Biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Polly Schoyer Brooks
    My Ántonia by Willa Cather
    Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
    The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

    The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov
    The Awakening by Kate Chopin
    Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier 
    The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
    The Divine Comedy by Dante
    Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
    Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, & A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas by Frederick Douglass

    An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
    The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
    Rebecca  by Daphne Du Maurier
    Silas Marner George Eliot
    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
    Selected Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
    Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
    Th e Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
    Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Lord of the Flies William Golding
    I, Claudius Robert Graves
    Roots by Alex Haley
    Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
    The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
    Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

    The Scarlet Letter & The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    For Whom the Bell Tolls & A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
    Short Stories by O. Henry
    The Iliad & The Odyssey by Homer
    Poems by Langston Hughes
    Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor .Hugo
    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
    The Portrait of a Lady by James Henry

    The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
    Poems by John Keats
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
    Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy
    Charles Kuralt's America by Charles Kurault
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
    The Call of the Wild by Jack London
    Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
    Moby-Dick  by Herman Melville

    The Crucible & Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    Beloved by Toni Morrison
    1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
    Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
    Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
    All Quiet on the Western Front  by Erich Maria Remarque

    Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
    MacBeth, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, sonnets, and King Lear by William Shakespeare
    Pygmalion by George Bernard.Shaw
    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
    Of Mice and Men, The Pearl, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

    Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
    The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
    Vanity Fair by William Thackeray
    Walden Henry David Thoreau
    The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien 
    Anna Karenina and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
    Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    The Aeneid by Virgil
    Candide by Voltaire
    All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren

    The Color Purple by Alice walker
    The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
    Night by Elie Wiesel
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    Our Town by Thornton Wilder
    A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
    To the Lighthouse by Virginia Wolfe
    Native Son by Richard Wright

    Other Books Found on Reading Lists From Schools Across the Country:
    Twinkie Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated into What America Eats by Steve Ettlinger
    Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
    Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
    The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
    Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrap
    Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    Water for Elephants: A Novel  by Sara Gruen
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult
    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood  by Rebecca Wells  
    Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
    Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
    The Davinci Code by Dan Brown
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    Maximum Ride: The Angle Experiment by James Patterson
    Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

    If you missed my lists of other books, here they are:
    Recommended Books for Preschoolers
    Recommended Books for K-3
    Recommended Books For Grades 4-6