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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grateful for Family

I hope you all had a wonderful week full of relaxation and whatever it is that makes you feel joyful! It's a drizzly slushy day here at problem solvin mom's, with snow forecast for the evening. A perfect day to stay inside with the family and snuggle! Here are a few of the things that made me happy this week:

*hundreds of birds, lifting like a blanket as I walk out the door*

*watching my famous grandparents bustle around preparing Thanksgiving dinner and doting on Sweetpea*

*visiting with the extended family*

*Sweetpea's GaSue knitting her a beautiful sweater*

*nearing the completion of a Christmas scarf*

*Daddy and daughter curled up napping on the couch*

*putting together the Christmas activity garland*

What are you thankful for this week?

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Friday, November 28, 2008

ListPlanIt Holiday ePlanner Giveaway!!

So this is a giveaway and a bit of a Friday funny in one...why is it I so often make fun of myself in these Friday posts?

A few weeks ago one of my twitter friends Jen from ListPlanIt sent me her super handy Holiday ePlanner to review. You can check out my glowing review here. Imagine my surprise and embarrassment when I saw a link today advertising my ePlanner giveaway...I missed the part where I was going to get to give one of these nifty planners away {blushing}

So, if you're interested in winning a ListPlanIt Holiday ePlanner, leave me a comment with your favorite holiday tradition or best holiday planning tip. I will pick a winner at random on December 3rd.

For an extra entries:
- subscribe in a reader and let me know in a separate comment
- check out 100 days to Christmas and leave Jen a comment, then come back and let me know by commenting here

Good luck - can't wait to hear your tips and traditions!

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a relaxing and joyous day, and those of you from the US a Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for my loving, healthy family and the many blessings in my life. I will leave you with a neat idea I came across on twitter - if you're interested, check it out here!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Greetings and Giving

Are you sending out Christmas cards this year? I will be, and it's something I really love doing as long as I get started in time! I think this year we'll be sending a combination of cards out, some photo cards and some "traditional" ones. Something else I'll be sending?

These wonderful e-cards.
photo courtesy of Robeez

For each card that we send to friends, family and coworkers, Robeez will make a $5 product donation to K.I.D.S. (kids in distressed situations). K.I.D.S. is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families who are ill, live in poverty, or are victims of natural disasters (per the website). If you'd like to learn more or make a direct donation, their homepage is here.

For each blogger who writes about this promotion, Robeez will add a $25 product donation. Are you interested in helping fund some great Robeez shoes for children in need? Here is the website.

Sending adorable holiday cards that benefit charitable organizations - definitely works for me!

For more Works for me Wednesday fun, visit Rocks in my Dryer

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Freebies and Fun!

I'm over at Freebies 4 Mom today, talking about the many features of Sprout Online. Are you an avid reader of Heather's blog like I am? If not, head over and see what all the buzz is about!

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Menu Plan Monday

This week seems like a short week, with us not hosting the big Thanksgiving meal, and one planned meal out with extended family. We were back on schedule with normal batch cooking over the weekend, which should really help out this week. I always regret when we fail to schedule a big cooking session into our weekend! Even though we aren't hosting Thanksgiving, we love turkey and cooked a turkey breast on Sunday. As much as I enjoy the traditional meal, I'm an even bigger fan of the leftovers! Here's what's on our menu this week:

Monday: chicken stirfry and rice
Tuesday: grilled cheese and tomato soup
Wednesday: dinner out with extended family (yeah!)
Thursday: dinner at my famous grandparents {giggle}
Friday: turkey soup and salad

What's on your menu this week? For more ideas, check out OrgJunkie.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

As Thanksgiving approaches - my heart is full

As Thanksgiving approaches, I'm trying to consciously slow down. It seems as if life has switched into fast forward - does anyone else feel that way? It has turned COLD here this past week. Each morning I find myself muttering, "what is it doing so cold already?" then realizing somehow we're on the second half of November - yikes! Wishing you a relaxing, peaceful Thanksgiving week full of family and laughter. Here are a few things from this past week for which I'm grateful:

*visits from old friends*

*daughters of friends themselves becoming friends*

*cold weather bringing stunning sunrises and sunsets*

*the golden hue of the sunlight steaming through clouds on my drive home each evening*

*happy smiles, big hugs, and laughter as I walk in the door*

*sweet words from loving husband*

*cuddling up under warm covers on a cold night*

*watching daughter learn new things and begin to really talk*

*the promise of evenings with family this coming week*

What are you grateful for this week?

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The story of an unexpected Christmas gift

Want to know how I came up with a great gift for EmDee and big T last year? (nod to the Big Game being played today)

1. Agree to Big Game tickets as a Christmas gift for EmDee and big T.
2. Send boys to the game with OSU flag.
3. Go watch game with a friend who has a big flat screen HD television.
4. See EmDee and big T on screen at the end of game.
5. Be thankful your friend also has the option to pause and rewind live TV.
6. Rewind to said screen shot of your boys.
7. Take picture.
8. Enlarge picture and frame it for Christmas.
9. Sit back and enjoy your new rawkstar status!


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Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun!

I'm over at Sprout talking about what to do with those Thanksgiving leftovers. I'd love it if you'd stop by and let me know your favorite ideas for "recycling" your leftovers!

Speaking of Thanksgiving, http://frugalupstate.blogspot.com/has a great Thanksgiving Miniseries going this week. The link above is my contribution to today's subject - Leftovers! While you're there, check out the rest of this great series. There are entries for sidedishes, desserts, craft/decorating ideas, and traditions.

Here are my suggestions for desserts, crafts, and traditions...

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Friday Funnies - The Great Waterbed Disaster

These days I prefer this kind of water

I think it's finally been long enough that I can blog about this fateful night without cringing too much. Even as I was going through it, I knew it would be funny some day...

Flash back to July 4th of this year, EmDee had already headed out to Florida for our vacation, and somehow amidst all the booming fireworks I had gotten Sweetpea to sleep. Now it was time for me to start packing...I headed into big T's room to grab a suitcase and noticed a teeny tiny little wet spot on the carpet - right next to the corner of his (water)bed. I leaned in closer and discovered we had a BIG, HUGE problem. This wasn't just a little leak. The carpet was wet around the entire perimeter of the bed. Did I mention that EmDee had already left town? That it was Friday night, the 4th of July? {{shudders}}

I had a fill kit for the waterbed, but the package said there was such a thing as a drain kit, which I didn't have. The waterbed was EmDee's and he had emptied it when we moved, so I was totally clueless and beginning to panic. It was after 9pm, and my sweet mother went out on a hopeless quest to find a drain kit for me.

I called a coworker in hopes of getting the phone number to a mutual plumber friend of ours. Shockingly this virtual walking phonebook didn't have the digits I was looking for, but he sweetly offered to help this desperate damsel in distress...{{which I'm sure he regrets to this day}}

Backtracking just a bit, I had unplugged the heater to the waterbed immediately after discovering the leak. Soon after hanging up the phone with word that my friend was coming over to literally help bail me out, I smelled smoke. {{faints}} I looked for sources of the burning smell and found none. Knowing there was wiring in the wall next to the waterbed, and that it was likely that water had made its way into the heating vent, I decided to call 911. My sweet daughter was sleeping in the room next door, I didn't know what was wrong, and I wasn't willing to risk not calling. In my head I was thinking "I never realized I would be more embarrassed than panicked to make this call".

I went and woke Sweetpea and we left the house to wait for the firemen. She clapped every time a burst of color lit up the sky - it really was beautiful with the fireworks surrounding us - and all I wanted to do was cry.

The fire truck showed up just before my friend, who was nice enough to sucker another coworker into helping - Sweetpea thought this was the best night EVER - fireworks and a firetruck! In a few minutes, the firemen said all was clear, that they couldn't find anything wrong and it must have been the heater that had been unplugged for over an hour...that still makes no sense to me, which is bothersome as an engineer, but they must have been right.

Once the very nice firemen left, the real work began - emptying the waterbed. It took roughly four hours, hundreds of trips to empty the shop vac {{we ended up finding that sucking the water out with a shop vac while pushing on the bladder from the inside was the most efficient way to remove the massive amount of water}} and one very precarious trip out the front door with an overflowing trashcan full of waterbed mattress on a dolly. There was a lot of pushing on the bladder, sitting on the bladder, sticking things into the frame to help the water empty more quickly. At one point, the base broke into two pieces from the water and the weight. Doesn't that sound fun? I'm thinking there was a reason these things went out of style some time ago.

I will never be able to thank my sweet coworkers enough for their help into the wee hours on the fourth of July. Because of them, I was able to rest easy that my home wasn't under water when we left for vacation the following day. Because of them I was able to get some sleep that night, albeit not much. As a humble showing of my never ending gratitude, I made rice krispie treats with rainbow sprinkles - what do you think, are we even?!

I only hope I am as good a friend as Tom and Al showed themselves to be that night.

Thanks Tom & Al, I am forever grateful!!!!!!

Happy Friday, everybody!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

5 Things...

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting tagged me with this "5 things I'm doing right now" meme. I hear it's Lisa's birthday today, if you'd like to stop by and wish her a happy day! (not that I timed this on purpose or anything - ha!)

Five Things On My To Do List
1. Plan remaining activities on our Fall List
2. Finish urgent work project
3. Assemble my holiday planner
4. Call the furnace guy
5. Send pictures to friends and family

Five Things I Like To Snack On
1. carrots and celery
2. cheese and crackers
3. Slim a bear ice cream sandwiches (pb&choc and choc/mint)
4. tortillas and salsa
5. popcorn

Five Things I Would Do If I Was a Millionaire
1. Buy my home and my mom’s home outright.
2. Set up a charitable contribution strategy
3. Stay home full time and open an Etsy shop
4. Buy a small vacation home
5. Save the rest

Five Places I Have Lived (have only lived in 2 states!)
1. Ohio
2. St. Louis, MO
3. Ohio
4. --
5. --

Five Jobs I Have Had
1. McDonald’s
2. Sears Associate
3. Engineering Co-op student at a paper mill (where I met Hubs)
4. Experimental Brewer
5. Product/Vehicle Safety Engineer

And finally…The Five People I’m Tagging
Jen @ Sabbatical Mom
Deb @ Stilettos to Sneakers
Kimber @ Kimber's Space
Christina @ Life in a Hampton Zoo
Candy @ Everyone has a Story to Tell

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Babywearing Stash

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, visit 5 minutes for mom

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More handmade Christmas inspiration!

I am excited to be participating in the Holidays by Hand Festival "Ribbons and Thread" segment today, over at Kelly's blog Almost Frugal. If you are considering having (at least a partially) handmade Christmas, there is some great inspiration to be found! If ribbons and thread aren't your strong suit, there are several other segments over the next few weeks. Click here to see the schedule, and here to see some suggestions for the men in your life.

What are you planning to make this season? Have you started yet?

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Marathoning Part 1 - The Decision

I came across this post recently, and was inspired and intrigued to learn more. Luckily for me, my friend Deb at Stilettos to Sneakers is a marathoner, and she graciously agreed to write a guest series on marathoning for us! Are you inspired to run a marathon? Just looking to find your inner runner? She has tips for all of us. I have always wondered what prompts someone to set such a lofty goal. This first post is about the decision, and reasons you might want to run a marathon. Please show her a warm welcome and lots of comment luv!

I have been running for a very long time - at least 26 years qualifies as a long time in my mind. I was 14 when I made that first run around my neighborhood, and running soon became an addiction of sorts. It felt so good to get out in the crisp air and move my body. I continued running even when I became an exchange student in Japan - then through college, multiple moves, a divorce and a marriage. In fact the only time since then that running hasn't been a part of my life was when I was pregnant with twins.

I often get asked the question, "Why a marathon? Why run 26.2 miles?" My answer is always twofold: first, that it feels good to accomplish something as physically and mentally difficult as completing a marathon, and second, that having an endgame or goal keeps me training.

My first marathon coincided with my 30th year. I was ready for an accomplishment in my life. I was a bit unsure of where I was in life, where my career was going, whom I was dating - you name it - it was a very confusing time of my life.

With encouragement from a friend, I started training for a spring marathon. Crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings I've ever had in my life. (right behind holding my children for the first time, falling in love with my husband and eating chocolate!) The feeling of accomplishment when I finally put my foot over the finish line was euphoric.

Another comment I often get is, "Oh I could never run a marathon!" My answer to that is, "No, with that attitude, you never could..." You have to reach down and find your I-can-do-anything attitude. You have to believe in yourself. With the right training, anyone can run a marathon. It may sound a little inspirational-poster-y, but it's completely true.

If you think you might be interested in running a marathon, here is my top ten list for why you should consider it!
Ten Reasons to Run a Marathon:
1. To achieve a goal and to obtain a sense of physical accomplishment in your life
2. To get in shape and lose weight
3. If you can run a marathon, you can do anything
4. To make friends - there is a big marathoning community
5. Run for a cause
6. Get the very cool finisher's medal
7. Get the goodie bag
8. After long training runs, to be able to eat anything you want
9. It's a great resume builder
10. A great way to commit to lifelong fitness

This week's homework: Think about whether marathoning is for you. Is it a goal you would like to accomplish in your life? Would you like that sense of accomplishment? Are you ready to say, "Yes, I can!"?

Questions? Feel free to comment on my site or email me at mommy2twinkies@yahoo.com

A little more about Deb: As a former banker, From Stilettos to Sneakers describes my life. My closet is full of beautiful shoes that I still wear, even though they are not appropriate for my current job: stay-at-home Mommy of my beautiful twins, Angel and Little Man and CEO of our household. My 'sneaers' or running shoes are part of my daily life as a crazy runner! In addition to running, I'm a bit of a foodie and love to cook, love wine (somewhat trained), and speak French and Japanese. I also love to travel.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Get your Holiday ePlanner!

Are you a planner? A list maker? I am definitely a list maker, especially when things get busy and hectic. Lists keep me focused and on track, they help reduce the likelihood that I'll wander off task and waste time on something that isn't a goal for the day.

Somewhere between all my lists and my goals, I need a plan. I tend to struggle organizing the plan, and I'm always on the lookout for a tool to help me turn my dreams into reality. One of my "dreams" for this holiday season is to be organized and relaxed, to help my daughter begin to understand the magic of the holiday, to start creating some fantastic holiday memories.

With this goal in mind, I was super excited to get to review ListPlanIt's Holiday e-Planner. This planner was just what I needed, bringing some organization to my many lists, a kick in the pants to start a notebook for my holiday plans, and oodles of planning pages for me to work with!

There are pages to help you organize cards, gifts and wish lists, and recipes. There are pages to help you plan parties (an excellent resource year round) and budget your resources. One of my favorite items is a page to help document your holiday memories. Here you can jot down what worked and just as importantly what didn't, so when next year rolls around you don't have to scratch your head and try to remember. There is even a list full of fantastic activities for the holidays, perfect for supplementing my Christmas activity list.

This planner is a real bargain at $4.95, I highly recommend you click over and download yours today! And while you're thinking of your holiday plans, check out Jen's other great site, 100 days to Christmas! Each day she suggests a small task to help keep your plans moving and to keep things from getting hectic as the holidays approach.

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Menu Plan Monday - Back on the wagon

Last week I fell off the menu planning bandwagon...sort of. EmDee was on second shift and I was effectively the single parent as we were only in the house together while everyone was asleep. Luckily for me, my sweet husband planned and cooked the week's meals (he just didn't tell me what they were going to be in advance) and kept up on the dishes to help a mama out. Thanks, SHMILY!!

This week we're back to our "normal" routine. Here's what we're planning to eat this week:

Monday: Beef and Noodles, rolls and a green salad
Tuesday: Hashbrown Casserole and green beans
Wednesday: Lettuce wraps and noodle salad
Thursday: Bachelor Beef on noodles and a green salad
Friday: Breakfast - pumpkin banana pancakes and maple sausage

Apparently the lettuce wraps and noodle salad are addictive, because I've been craving them on a regular basis! Luckily they are also cheap and easy...see my last MPM for more details if you're interested. Breakfast for dinner on Fridays is becoming a fun tradition here, one I hope to keep going!

For more menu ideas, visit OrgJunkie

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Motrin vs. Moms?

In honor of International Babywearing Week, Motrin apparently decided to take on babywearing in general and babywearing moms everywhere. If you'd like to see the ad, at the time of this post it was still on the front page of their website, here. I think this takes first honors in the "What were they thinking" category this week. In a true showing of the power of marketing to moms (or in this case, not so much) check out the sheer size of the group of mothers talking about Motrin right now by visiting this site.

If you are upset by this ad, what can you do? Join the discussions - there are plenty to be found - and email Motrin to let them know you are upset.

Here is the email I sent them this morning:

I am appalled by the babywearing ad on your front page - did you not talk to any mothers before publishing such an offensive ad? And during international babywearing week no less, was that on purpose? The benefits of babywearing are well documented, and most moms who wear their babies are fiercely loyal to the idea that it's beneficial. Not only that, but if done correctly it doesn't hurt, and is less tiring than holding a baby normally. There are so many legitimate reasons a mom has headaches, couldn't you have picked one of them?

What do you think of this topic, and the ad specifically? I'd love to hear your feedback!

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The season of thanks - so grateful!

*An unexpected weekday off to spend together*

*Quiet morning curled up on the couch catching up on reading and sipping coffee*

*Thousands of birds, dancing back and forth across the sky each night on my drive home, starting the flight south for the winter*

*Cold, rainy Sunday spent relaxing warm and toasty at home*

*new friends*

*a healthy family*

*a husband who loves to cook*

*Saturday spent with grandma*

What are you grateful for this week?

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We have a Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Babylegs giveaway!
Random.org says the winners are Lori and Annette. Ladies, I will be contacting you by email today. Thanks again, and look for another fun giveaway coming soon...{{giddy}}

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tip List - A speedy morning routine

Do you have trouble getting out the door in the morning? Each day I feel like I enter a time warp, where no matter what I do, we exit at the same time each morning...so maybe I'm not qualified to speak on the subject {blushing} but here are some tips that DO help things run more smoothly in the morning.

1. Make a list of all the things that need to be done before you walk out the door each day, down to the little details. Assign as many of the things on your to do list to a list called "Before Bed" and do them the night before. The remaining "Morning List" should only have the minimum amount of things required to get out the door successfully on it. Keep these lists handy so you can refer to them.
2. On hectic or hurried mornings, stick to the Morning List. This is my biggest problem, I get sucked into things that don't HAVE to be done that morning, and we end up being late.
3. Do what you can in parallel to save time. I have my coffee brewing while I'm taking a shower. If you have an older child who is capable of doing a lot of his morning routine without supervision, wake him up at the right time so you are ready to assist as needed when he's finished what he can do alone.
4. If you have to have that first cup of coffee before anything else, program it to be ready and waiting when your alarm goes off.
5. If you and your family shower in the morning, see if you can't make your showers 5 minutes or less. To help kids learn how to do that and make things fun, bring in a timer over the weekend and let them "race" the clock to see how fast they can get done (making sure they are getting adequately cleaned). If your family enjoys competition, keep track of everyone's time and declare a winner.
6. Know your hairstyle and what it needs each day to work for you. Can you leave it up in a towel to help it dry while you're doing other things? Do you have to blow it dry, or can it air dry? I tell my hairdresser that I won't be doing anything to it on weekdays, and ask for her to cut it accordingly. I wear it in a towel for a few minutes, comb it out and let it dry while I'm getting ready. Before I walk out the door I brush it once and I'm ready to go. Most days it looks pretty good in spite of what I'm not doing!
7. Consider your makeup essentials. While in college, I mastered the art of reducing my morning makeup routine to a minimum. Any extra time I could eek out were allotted to extra sleep, which interestingly enough has become like gold again to me, now that I'm a mom. During the week I put on foundation and bronzer and that's it. In the evenings or on a weekend when I want a little extra oomph, I pull out the extras.
8. Consider your children's schedule - do you wake them in the morning? If so, determine what time works best with your schedule and wake them accordingly. (if Sweetpea doesn't wake on her own, I wake her about 10 minutes before I'm ready to go out the door) If your child wakes predictably at a certain time, structure your morning routine accordingly. I find that as long as I have showered, it doesn't matter if Sweetpea wakes up before I've done the other things on my list. If I haven't showered yet, things go terribly wrong...so I shower first thing, and in well under 5 minutes!

What are your tricks for a smooth morning routine? Do you have a structured morning or are you more laid back? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Tis the season to be giving

Last week started a series highlighting opportunities to give and support those going through difficult times, special people who can use our help. I've mentioned that I'm hoping and planning for this Christmas to be full of tradition and handmade, heartfelt gifts. For those gifts that I'm not planning to make, I'd like my purchases to support something I believe in.

I heard about this book, and the story behind the book on Twitter. One of my twitter friends is a high school friend of Chris LaSalle - Chris's wife Margie has stage IV breast cancer. Chris and Margie have two beautiful children, ages 5 & 7. A friend of the family has written and illustrated a book (pictured above) inspired by and to benefit the LaSalles. Margie collaborated on the story, letting her children know that no matter where she is, she will be with them, Always and Everywhere.

My heart goes out to this family, and the least I can do is buy this beautiful book. I hope you will consider it as well. To read a bit more about the LaSalle's story and the book, follow this link. You can go here to buy the book.

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Friday Funnies - details or big picture thinker?

photo by krossbow

I was at an ice cream and sandwich shop the other day for a late lunch when an older gentleman came up to me and said, "Hey, what do they make in that blue building at the corner down the street?" Kind of a random question, and it took me totally off guard. I had to ask him a second time what he said, just to be sure. It was already 1:30pm and I was a bit zoned out from hunger!

"You know, they knocked down the brick building that was attached to it already, what do they make in that blue building that is still standing?"

"Oh, that is company XYZ's thermal plant, I think they make HVAC units but I'm not positive. There is an engineering center there, too, for airbags."

"Airbags like the things that go off in cars, huh? How much do they pay?"

Not knowing what kind of job this guy was looking for, or why in the world he was asking me these questions, I tried giving him a vague answer

...luckily my to go order came up at that same time...

"I don't know how much they pay, but not as much as they used too, like a lot of places"

He thought that was funny and repeated me, "not as much as they used to - that's funny"

Hmmm...what I thought was funny, as I took my food and drove back to work, was that I have worked in a building for nine years and not realized it was blue! I guess I'm more of a big picture thinker, and not so much a details person, huh?

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sometimes things look better from afar

I've heard a lot about vlogging lately (video blogging) and while I'm still too chicken to do a "real" one, I thought I'd dabble in it with this fun video EmDee took a few weeks ago at one of big T's games. Sweetpea was totally excited about going up and meeting the mascot, a Tiger, for the other team. She got within about six feet of him and abruptly sat down, leaning back into my legs. Some things just look better from afar!

I'm wondering if this is any indication as to how the meeting with Santa is going to go this year?

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12 Days of (Tip) Junkie Shop A Thon

Laurie at Tip Junkie is hosting a 12 days of Junkie giveaway over at Tip Junkie, don't miss it!

I posted a few weeks ago about this great Shop A Thon, featuring Mom-Preneurs with all kinds of wonderful goodies. For the next 11 days {{I'm late, blushing}} Tip Junkie will be hosting a giveaway a day from these wonderful shops! If you're interested in participating, click over to Tip Junkie and see how to link up and play along. And if you're looking for some beautiful, unique handmade gifts this Christmas, check out the Mom-Preneurs Shop A Thon!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Babywearing Bliss - my journey

Some of you might recognize this photo from an earlier post, but it's the best babywearing photo I could come up with this week...I'm going to have to work on that! Why was I looking for a babywearing photo this week, you ask? Because it's International Babywearing Week!

When I was pregnant, and even when Sweetpea was very little, the only carriers I knew anything about where the Snugli and the Baby Bjorn. I had a hand me down Snugli, but it just didn't seem to fit us well. I saw many beautiful advertisements for slings in the back of parenting magazines, but I didn't really understand what they were or how they worked. I didn't know anyone who had tried them...and they (at least the ones in the magazines) were exPENsive!

At some point, my curiosity got the best of me, and I clicked over to check out the Mamma's Milk Baby Slings. Much to my amazement, not only does this company offer beautiful slings for purchase, they actually link to a tutorial for making your own - how cool is that? Inspired, I purchased some burgundy denim and a beautiful coordinating fabric and made my own sling. Based on instructions, my sling turned out a bit big and wider than necessary. I didn't know this at the time, however, and we both enjoyed this first sling. Sweetpea was small at the time, so it didn't matter as much that she was sitting lower than was ideal.

While at Target one day I did a "driveby" of the baby clearance rack (always a great idea, especially at Target!) and spotted a Hotsling. Sweetpea was getting heavier, and my homemade sling wasn't so comfortable anymore. I decided to take the Hotsling for a testdrive in the dressing room. As luck would have it, the sling was a perfect fit! With Sweetpea sinched up higher it was SO much more comfortable to carry her! The second stroke of luck this day was the price - this sling was marked down to $9.99 because it was a return in an open package - SCORE!! I brought it home with us that day, and it is by far my go to carrier.

I kept reading about other styles of carriers, from Megan and Steph especially. Then somehow I found my way to a great babywearing site. If you are considering buying a carrier and don't want to invest a lot initially, this is the place for you. I purchased my first Mei Tai, an Ellaroo, for $25 shipped. It's a bit hit or miss, because the best deals are on overstocks and closeouts, but there are some great carriers to be found. I love my Mei Tai, it's great now that Sweetpea continues to grow up on me, and she loves being on my back!

In case you're feeling crafty, here is another link for making your own carriers.

Babywearing works for us! I will definitely do it again, from the very start, if I get the chance. For more Works for Me Wednesday posts, click over to Rocks in My Dryer.

For more Babywearing posts and a chance to win great one of two great carriers, click over and see Steph. For a look at one of the prizes, go to Nonny & Boo. (recognize Steph as one of the adorable models? Where do I sign up for that kind of work? How fun!)

What is your experience with babywearing?

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Wordless Wednesday - Baby Brother Edition

A little birdie informed me that Monday's post was the first post in which I had included my baby brother's picture. With that in mind, consider this (nearly) wordless Wednesday dedicated to him!

Baby Brother with his sweet dog Belle
Baby Bro with me @ my 30th birthday dinner
Oh look, it's a little birdie! Isn't she cute? I have great genes, don't you think?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, visit 5 minutes for mom

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fun with Food Photo Contest (YUM)

This is my entry for 5 minutes for mom's Fun with Food contest! What do you think, does this first encounter with corn on the cob look like fun to you?!?
If you would like to enter, post a photo on your blog and head over to 5 minutes for mom to link up!

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The mom who has it all - a myth?

photo by basykes

I followed a link to a blog last week that was about having it all - a fast paced career, family, friends, a lucrative home based business as a hobby...I'm sure it was all supposed to inspire me, but it left me thinking of the Wizard of Oz, "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"

As a working mom I read a lot of articles about work/life balance and how families make it work when both parents have a career (be it at home or outside the home). Often times it's with a lot of give and take from each family member, and many times with help from others. It is a delicate balance to strike, full of making choices about what is most important and prioritizing.

Peddling the "I have it all and you can too" facade is demoralizing and unfair - we each have enough self conscious moments as it is, without trying to measure up to an unrealistic ideal. What does "HAVING IT ALL" mean anyway? What is the cost to each individual endeavor if we try to do too much?

What does "IT" for you? For me, that was the key - identifying what was most important in my life, and prioritizing those things above all the other things, big and little, that can fill up my time if I'm not careful. I really like SimpleMom's post on this subject. Staying centered, focusing on what is most precious, and not over committing really helps me. I try and regularly re-evaluate things, especially if I'm getting worn out or stressed.

I'd love to hear your tips and suggestions for finding balance in life. Stay at home mom, work at home mom or work outside the home mom (or dad for that matter!) what works for you? What do you think about the idea of having it all?

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Keeping the Thanks in Thanksgiving

Many times through the years I’ve gotten caught up in the preparation and busy-ness of this season and missed the opportunity to reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving until we sit down for grace. Then it’s back to catching up with loved ones, small talk and second helpings giving way to paging through ads planning the next day’s shopping strategy.

Now that I have a little one underfoot, I’ve been thinking about the memories I want her to have of this holiday and the traditions I’d like to start for our family. I’ve done some advanced planning, and come up with some fun and easy activities to help remind us of the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

The Blessings Game – Sitting in a group, go around the room and each person take a turn saying one thing they are thankful for. Keep going until someone can’t think of something, and then they are “out”. Listen to the answers get sillier as each participant tries to think quickly on his or her feet.

Write place cards for each person at Thanksgiving dinner, and on the back write a reason you are thankful for them.

Have family members write each other notes as to why they are thankful for each other and save them to place in the stockings that will soon be hung by the fire.

Go through closets and pantries looking for items you no longer need or want, and donate them as a family to a charitable organization. Talk to your children about why you are donating these items and how they are going to a family that is less fortunate than your own.

Take a family trip to the grocery and shop for non-perishable items to donate to a local food pantry. Encourage your children to choose items they think less fortunate children would like to eat for the holidays. A variation on this would be to shop for some toys to donate to Toys for Tots.

What activities and traditions do you follow at Thanksgiving? I would love to hear your ideas!

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

As Fall turns to Winter

This morning was the first that felt like winter to me, surprising somehow, even though it is November 9th! As the time goes by so quickly, keeping this list of daily blessings helps crystallize the sweetness in my mind.

*Sweetpea was twenty months old on Friday - what a pleasure it is watching her personality develop, seeing her sense of humor and logic develop. I am so blessed to be her mother!*

*Two extra weeks of watching big T play football - his team made it to the second round of the playoffs before losing last night. I'm sad for it to end, but on the upside, we will get to see more of him now that the season is over.* *Sweetpea is forever fascinated by big T's football gear. I'm a sucker for comparisons, so here is a picture of her from last year playing with his helmet -

and this year sitting on his helmet post game**at the risk of repeating myself for the hundreth time, I love how wonderful big T is with Sweetpea, and you can see how she looks up to him - so sweet*
*Lazy morning spent snuggling on the couch with family*

*pink clouds across a blue and purple sky*

*my mommy, my mommy!*

*starting to feel better after an icky virus*

*no more 104 degree fever, whew!*

What are you grateful for this week? I love to hear your lists!

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Friday, November 7, 2008

At work, Friday is giving day - lets spread the love

Usually I post funny bits on Friday, right? Since it's November {{gasp}} and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I wanted to kick off a series of links to some causes that have moved me in the past few weeks. If you know of a specific charity or family in need that you would like me to highlight, please email me.

Many of you know the American Heart Association is a very personal cause for me. I found my way to this site last night, and felt I just had to share it. Stephanie at A Mama Drama has lovingly created this beautiful quilt (shown below) to benefit her friend's daughter.

This sweet baby girl is on a waiting list for a heart transplant. As a mother, I can't imagine what her parents must be going through. If you can, please donate. If you are interested in winning a beautiful quilt that is being given away for this cause, click here to enter! And please, if you can, spread the word. The direct link to the donation page is here.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Sprout for Parents - Healthier Pumpkin Pie!

I'm over at Sprout for Parents talking healthier options for pumpkin pie - I'd love it if you stopped over and let me know what you think!
For fun Thanksgiving themed activities and crafts for kids, click here!

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

As cold season approaches - A product I'm loving right now

image from Triaminic

Poor little Sweetpea has been struggling with a virus this week. She's feeling much better now, but Monday she had a 104 degree fever, was vomiting and had a very stuffy head. In order to help her rest more easily, I brought out the Triaminic Flowing Vapors Fan.

This little battery operated fan blows menthol vapor for 8 hours at a time, providing some helpful relief for her stuffy nose. It reminds me of the plug in air fresheners that are very popular, only in a menthol scent! I love that I don't have to plug it in, freeing me to place it anywhere in her room or around the house.

If you follow this link, you can download a $1.50 coupon! I have found this product at Target and Babies R Us, and so far each one I've purchased has included a $1 coupon inside.

Here's hoping you won't have this sniffles this winter, but just in case I wanted to pass it along!

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Planning for Holiday Entertaining - guest post at Frugal Upstate

Can you believe it's November already? Where has the time gone?

Today you can find me writing about holiday party planning at Frugal Upstate, I hope you'll join me there. I met Jenn from Frugal Upstate on Twitter, if you are frugal or interested in frugal topics, you'll love her blog!

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Wordless Wednesday - Rock the Vote!

Sweetpea rocked the vote yesterday - did you make your voice heard? Considering that she was sick and we waited an hour, she was a real champ! We had an ice cream cone to celebrate.
For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 minutes for mom

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween Retrospective

Our first year of trick or treating! EmDee was able to meet us so we could walk around as a family. Sweetpea wasn't sure what she was getting into at first, but she did great!
So let me get this straight - I'm supposed to open this bag, and you're just going to give me that candy?!
Alrighty then, this sounds like fun. Let me just inspect this here candy...
Bags starting to get some weight to it. Check out that guy in the background - not sure if he was supposed to be a fly, or if he was expecting an air raid. Sweetpea kept waving at him, apparently she could tell who she needed to keep a close eye on.
This house had the best decorations and the best candy by far - it's a little hard to tell, but they even had a fog machine going.
I was informed Sweetpea's costume was from Finding Nemo by a few little girls at this house - and here I thought she was just any old turtle!
Come on Dad, all this posing is eating into my candy time. Hey, who is that guy behind you anyway?
Is this the face a turtle makes? (hey, a clear sighting of Sweetpea's eyes, how long has it been since that happened?)
This was fun, let's do it again!

I hope you all had as much fun this Halloween as we did! For more Halloween fun, visit TipJunkie's Halloween roundup.

And while you're here, click over and enter the Babylegs giveaway, open through November 14th!

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's menu went well, with the big hit being Friday's breakfast for dinner...we always enjoy a big breakfast meal at dinner, and since it was Halloween, we had green and orange pumpkin banana pancakes - spooky! They were delicious with the pumpkin spiced lattes.

I had a question last week about the lettuce wraps and noodle salad. EmDee makes the lettuce wrap filling, and he's not really a recipe kind of guy...so my best advice on that one is to follow a stir fry recipe you like, dice everything up well, and serve in lettuce leaves - it is delicious! For the noodle salad I make a sauce that roughly follows this recipe:

Peanut Sauce
1/2C peanut butter
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ginger
1 clove minced garlic (optional)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake or ground cayenne pepper
1/3C light coconut milk
Mix everything over low heat until the peanut butter is melted.

To assemble the salad, cook the noodles and a minute or two before the noodles are done, add some cabbage or broccoli slaw and carrots. (this just takes the edge off the veggies, but leaves a nice bite) Pour the sauce over the noodles and vegetables, add some bean sprouts, diced cucumber, and sesame seeds and toss to coat with sauce. Refridgerate to cool before serving.

Now back to this week's menu...

Monday: Spaghetti and garlic bread with green salads
Tuesday: Chili soup and peanut butter sandwiches
Wednesday: Hashbrown casserole, green salads
Thursday: Leftover buffet
Friday: Bachelor beef over noodles, green salads

For more menu ideas, click over to OrgJunkie. And while you're here, don't miss the babylegs giveaway going on HERE!

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Babylegs Giveaway!

Sweetpea in her babylegs last winter

Last year I came across Babylegs while "window shopping" the Internet for Sweetpea's Christmas gifts. I was on a site that showcased mom-invented products, and was smitten with the adorable designs. I ordered our first pair, and thus began the love affair...

Babylegs are legwarmers designed mainly for children 0-6 years old, but depending on which style you choose and how you wear them, they can even be worn by adults! Why do I love Babylegs? Let me count the ways!

1. They helped keep Sweetpea's socks from falling off when she rubbed her feet together - I never did find a pair of socks that would stay put, but pulling her baby legs over the tops of them did the trick every time.

2. They solve the problem of pant creep - you know how long pants suddenly creep half way up the leg of your child when you pick her up? Babylegs bridge the gap and keep precious legs out of the cold air.

3. Knee protection - babylegs were a knee's best friend during the crawling months, helping to protect them from hard scratchy surfaces as Sweetpea explored every nook and cranny she could get into!

4. Extend the life of those adorable short sleeved shirts! Babylegs don't have to be just for legs - slip them on as arm warmers under a short sleeved shirt to add some style and warmth to summer shirts.

5. Diaper changes and potty training are so much easier with babylegs than tights - no need to take them off!

6. They provide lightweight sun protection during the summer months - especially in the early months when you don't want to apply sunscreen.

7. A great solution for spring and fall weather - as the weather changes, it's a cinch to take the babylegs on or off.

8. As I mentioned before, Babylegs are a mom invented product, and I love supporting mom-preneurs!

Image from Babylegs
Aren't these pink ribbon babylegs adorable? Purchase this style and 10% of the price will go to Susan G Koman for the cure!

TWO lucky winners will find out first hand why they are so popular - I will be giving away two Stockings style babylegs on November 14th.

To enter, click over to the Babylegs site and find your favorite design. Come back here and let me know what style you like best in the comment section.

For bonus entries, you can do any or all of the following:

1) subscribe to my feed and let me know in a separate comment
2) tweet about this giveaway and be sure to include a reference to @psmom so I can see it
3) Stumble your favorite posts and leave me a separate comment to let me know
4) bookmark your favorite crafts or recipes from this blog on Delicious and let me know in a separate comment

Good luck, I hope you win!!

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Sunday gratitude reflection

*Another fun trip to one of the many great pumpkin patches in our area*

*another year, a few inches taller*
*getting to be such a big girl! annual posing with the pumpkins in purple sweatshirt photo*

*vapor trails crisscrossing the sky like a child's scribbles*

*the downtown skyline shrouded in clouds, back lit by beginnings of pink sunrise*

*Indian summer bringing perfect football weather for big T's first playoff game*

*football season extended at least one more week, sweet memories and camaraderie extended*

*kindness from a stranger, unexpected and sweet*

*an hour of catching up over coffee with EmDee while Sweetpea slept in - date morning instead of date night!*

*an extra hour of sleep Sunday*

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tip List - Maximizing your charitable contributions

As with the rest of our finances, I try to be frugal with charitable donations. Here are a few ways to maximize your giving:

1. When coordinating a fundraiser, ask local businesses if they are willing to donate toward your cause. For example, I coordinate a pancake breakfast at work each year, with the profits all going to charity. Our local grocery donates a gift card each year to help maximize our profits. We sometimes get items to raffle as well, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – the worst you can hear is no.
2. When buying food to donate, stock up when pricing is best. I take advantage of all the great pre-Thanksgiving sales on canned foods and boxed meals to donate to our local food pantry.
3. Consider requesting information on what is most needed from your preferred charity, so you aren’t buying something that will go unused. Each year we receive a list of the most needed items for the food pantry. It helps us know our donations will help fill key needs.
3. Buy items at the end of a season when they are on clearance – if you have space, stock up throughout the year. My favorite find was a huge sack of stuffed animals I picked up at a local store after Valentine’s Day. (I think I may have mentioned this before) Each adorable animal was less than $2. I do the same with hats, mittens and coats if I find a great end of season deal.
4. If you travel, stock up on toiletries from your hotel room. These items are always needed in shelters. A friend I work with whose mother volunteered for years at a shelter tipped me off about this.
5. Keep an eye out for things you can donate when cleaning out your closets. I try and (within reason) distribute the items I want to donate into stacks based on the needs of specific charities. The rest goes to the Goodwill donation station near my house, because it is so convenient.
6. When you don’t feel able to donate money, consider donating your time. Often our time and assistance is the most valuable thing we can give to others!
7. Consider the efficiency of fund usage when donating money. I try to find charities that have the lowest administrative costs, so the money is most effective.

What do you do to maximize your charitable donations? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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