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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fun and Frugal Craft Idea - for the monster lover or fasionista in your life

I received an email from Sprout (by PBS Kids) the other day, and wondered how I got on their mailing list. Most likely it was some great freebie I signed up for through Heather's website. Anyway, I clicked in and was pleasantly surprised that I was actually interested in the contents of the newsletter. They had an adorable craft highlighted - making dinosaur feet! Sweetpea isn't so much into dinosaurs or monsters yet, but BOY IS SHE INTO SHOES! I'm guessing she gets that honestly. ahem.

So of course I clicked on the link to check out this adorable craft and found it was so simple I thought Sweepea would even be able to help make them! This craft is very easy and incredibly affordable - you likely have everything you need in your home, and if not, the materials are not expensive. I made the "feet" last night, and then had Sweetpea help decorate them with a few stickers. Here is a quick tutorial on how to make some dinosaur feet yourself:

Assemble necessary tools

2 tissue boxes
construction paper
stickers or glitter if desired, to decorate
glue or tape

The sprout site actually says to use markers to decorate the boxes like feet. If you were thinking of doing this craft when you bought the boxes, this might be a reasonable request. My boxes were not going to look like feet with just markers, am I right?

To fix this problem, I used construction paper to cover the top and sides of my boxes. Quick and easy, as I wasn't concerned with it looking perfect. I did leave most of the top uncovered, as you can see.

Now to add a few extra decorations to the top, and most importantly, THE TOENAILS!

Voila! What - don't you think dinosaur feet look like this? Okay, I'll take that under advisement for next time... So, next morning Sweetpea got to put the finishing touches on - some stickers. She had a lot of fun with this, positioning and repositioning...endless fun.

Hey, what is that on your chest?

Aha! Apparently she felt her pj's needed a little something extra. A real fashionista I have here!

Then came the time to try them on. I was shocked, she really didn't want to! Instead, she had a lot of fun stacking and unstacking them and moving the tissue from one box to another (I had boxes that were half full and figured that would help hold her feet in)

At this point, we went to Gram's to swim. Upon our return, the feet weren't so scary, and Sweetpea tried them on. She couldn't stand up in them, though, she kept doing the splits.

As you can see, her knee had an unfortunate encounter with the concrete at the pool...we're still working on understanding the word, "walk"!

I will definitely pull this craft out again, probably in about 6 months when I think she might be able to walk around like a "Dinosaur" in her big shoes!

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Weekly Gratitude Reflection

*Sun beams streaming through clouds full of promise and hope for things to come*

*friendships that pick up like they never left off*

*morning snuggles in warm bed as the weather turns cooler, hinting of fall*

*hot delicious coffee kick starting my brain, dusting off the cobwebs of sleep*

*sweet notes hidden in packed lunches*

*quiet time to reflect while the rest of the house is still, sleeping*

* homecomings*

*the smell of freshly baking bread*

What are you grateful for this week?

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Funnies

Do you ever pass a sign and think the proprietor ALMOST got it right, but not quite? Or see a sign that is TOTALLY wrong, providing you with a good laugh?

I was driving home last night past an SUV with what seems like the requisite kiddo bumper sticker these days…you know the one I mean with the activity icon along with the team and child’s name? This one looked something like this:

Does that mean the dancers are “All That”? If not, wouldn’t it have been more fun to call a dance studio, “All That Jazz”? Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, this sticker got me thinking about other signs, one that you really wonder - What were they thinking?!?

For example, we've driven past signs on vacation that say

And the unfortunate sign malfunction we had locally that went from:

Now Hiring Closers
Now Hiring losers
and stayed that way for weeks!

And my personal favorite (can you tell?)

What funny signs do you have in your area? Have a happy Friday and a great weekend, thanks for stopping by for some Friday Funnies!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tweightloss Update

Well, last week I held steady, not losing any weight but not gaining any either. Given the stress of the cutbacks at work last week I'm okay with that. My pants are fitting a bit looser around the waist, which is wonderful, so I'm trying to tell myself that I'm gaining muscle - are you buying that?!?

My food related goal for this week has been to cut back on evening eating. I've probably mentioned that before...it is the only area I think I still need to address with regard to eating. The rest of the work is going to have to come from exercise. I love food too much to give up any more of it! Plus, in all seriousness, I do eat a healthy diet, and I am still nursing at night so I don't want to cut any more calories right now.

I've started trying to add a short walk at lunch to my routine and some jumping rope for a real cardio boost in the evenings.

I'll check back in next week and hopefully move that scale another pound or two toward my goal. Are you working on losing weight or getting in shape? If so, how's it going?

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday

Sweetpea has been teething like crazy lately, breaking molars in left and right. She will chew on anything and everything, so watch your fingers if you come to our house! I feel awful for her, but she doesn't seem interested in teething rings, and she enjoys a cold wet washcloth for awhile, but it doesn't seem to give her the relief she's looking for. I've come up with 2 solutions that seem to work pretty well:

1) I fill her solid food feeder full of ice chips. She has become a huge fan of ice chips, and this allows me to pack it full so she can gnaw to her hearts content for a good 5 minutes before everything is melted. She goes to the refrigerator now and looks up toward the freezer and says, "Ice"

2) For something a little different I made Popsicles from unsweetened applesauce. I just spooned the applesauce in and froze it overnight. They are a little more difficult to extract, so I usually run them under hot water to loosen things up a bit. Sweetpea gets one of these after dinner while still in her highchair, because the ARE messy. The other thing she struggled with was how to hold the Popsicle, she kept trying to hold the frozen part and she'd get frustrated when her hands got cold...so now she wears her little mittens when she eats these! I just throw them in the wash when she's done.

Do you have any other suggestions for teething? I think we will be going through this for a while longer, so if you've got them, please send them my way! And, for more great WFMW posts, check out Rocks In My Dryer.

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Wordless Wednesday

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, check out 5 minutes for Mom

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You're Invited

Many thanks to my sweet friend, Octamom for sending me the Arte Y Pico award yesterday! It's just lovely, darling, I'm putting it in a special spot on my mantle. I noticed many of the ladies I was going to pass this lovely award to have already received it at one time or another, so I thought I'd do something a bit different but in a similar spirit. I heard about this idea weeks ago from Velveteen Mind and have just been lazy getting around to it...So, without further adieu, I give you:

Problem Solvin' Mom's Barking Mad Dinner Party

According to the rules, I'm to invite 10 lovely bloggers that I would like to spend the evening getting to know better to my party. The idea is to get to know each other a bit better, and maybe hear about some blogs we're not so familiar with yet. I would love to stay up late chatting with all the ladies on the list below, and many more. Here are the 1o ladies I'm inviting and the reasons why, feel free to bring your friends!
1. Octamom - I love your style, humor, faith, photography...I would love to get to spend some time with you and maybe compare notes on our toddlers and cameras!
2. Amy @ Momadvice - Yours was the first blog I regularly followed. I love your ideas for crafts, home management, frugal hacks...I feel like we have a lot in common.
3. Megan @ Sortacrunchy - Another of the first blogs I followed, your post on commenting was what really got me participating rather than "lurking". I love your crunchy ideas, your writing style, your babywearing tips! I have missed you this summer during your move, and hope you are settled in soon and that all is well.
4. Megan @ Friedokra - I came to friedokra manor by way of sortacrunchy, and am so glad for it! Megan's writing makes me feel like I'm sitting at the kitchen table sipping some sweet tea chatting with an old friend. In addition, she was so sweet to give me advice and encouragement as I was starting my blog, all the while she was oh so pregnant and had many better things to do!
5. T @ Twithhoney - Mrs. Friedokra referred me to T because we have many things in common...both about the same age, engineer moms to little girls. I love T's wit, her writing style, her common sense approach to live, she speaks my language for sure!
6. Megan @ Velveteen Mind - So many Megans, I can see this getting confusing! Megan always cracks me up and I love how real she is.
7. Alli @ Mrs. Fussypants - I really didn't know about Fussy until I started tweeting (gasp, I know!). She is funny and sweet, and I'm intrigued by how she does so much with 5 little boys running around! While you're here...any tips on how to make this gig pay would be greatly appreciated ;) and yes, I'm now following Problogger!
8. Angie @ Babycheapskate/Blogcoach - Another early blog, I was introduced to your site during the superfab Target/Gerber Internet coupon craze last year. I love the weekly diaper deal posts and other tips you share with us, though if I'm not careful I spend more than I save!
9. Heather @ Freebies4mom - Love Heather's site and her friendly, down to earth personality. She has been a great help to me as I've gotten started blogging, and I'm so appreciative that she took the time to help little ol me ;)
10. Monica @ Livingbalanced - Monica and I started our blogs on the same day, isn't that funny?! The more I read her posts, the more I think we are a lot alike. I enjoy her ideas and straightforward informative writing style. I would love to spend some time trading ideas on blogging, healthy living and life balance!
So, ladies, come on over, let's chat awhile!! I realize I waited until almost the end of August to get my guest list in order, but if you'd like to play along, stop on by Barking Mad!

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5 minute clutter buster challenge

I hate clutter! The busier I get, the less time I take to attack clutter as it accumulates. In the vicious cycle of things, more and more clutter accumulates in my home, in my car, and on my desk at work. To make matters worse, EmDee has been working nights and weekends, which is the time I usually use to conquer the clutter in my life.

As a busy mom I can say it's overwhelming and frustrating to be upset with the mess but at the same time to feel that I don't have time to do what needs done to fix it. I've generally approached the mess in my life the way I do most of my problems - analyze the problem, break it down, make a plan to fix it, attack it in "small bites".

Following this strategy, I decided it was time to take action. I haven't made a plan for the house yet, but I came up with a quick plan for the car!

Here's what I did: Take 3 empty grocery bags with me to the car during my lunch.
Quickly fill

  • one bag with things that I need to take to the house
  • one bag with things that need thrown away
  • one bag with things that belong in the car, but not strewn all over it

The trash bag went with me on the way back in and was thrown into the first garbage bag I came to. The other two bags went into the trunk. I will take the bag of things that needs to go into the house with me when I get home tonight. All of this took about 5 minutes!!

What tricks do you have up your sleeve when the clutter in your life gets overwhelming? More to follow on how I tackle the various rooms in my house, probably this weekend!

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Picking a Party Theme

photo by normanack
A few weeks ago I posted on 5 tips for saving time and/or money when planning a party. In this post we'll follow up and elaborate on how a theme can save you both time AND money!

First, a theme can save you money if you tailor it correctly. For example, say you are having a birthday party for one of your girlfriends. You want to save money on food, but at the same time you want it to be delicious and fun - 2 possible options are a brunch or appetizers. Prefer a morning party? Go with a brunch. Looking for something later in the day? An appetizer party could be early afternoon or later in the evening (after dinner). Let's choose brunch.

A theme can also help you save time by giving you direction and helping you determine where you want to go with your party. Think about what your friend's interests are when choosing a theme. Does your friend like to travel? Does she enjoy gardening? Let's assume for the sake of this example she enjoys to travel. A travel themed brunch could center around breakfast foods from different parts of the world, or you could simply make up cute names for more "ordinary" foods that tie in your theme. A few things I would prepare for this theme would be french toast bites, tropical fruit salad, Mediterranean omelet casserole, and exotic fruit drinks and coffees or teas. Brunches are especially economical because breakfast foods tend to be very affordable.

Now that you know you're having a party with a travel theme, you can think about ideas for invitations and decorations centering on this theme. If you want to give a party favor, your travel theme can also help you come up with an idea for favors. Don't feel you have to extend the theme to all aspects of the party if you're having trouble tying it together, only use it in so far as it will help you.

I used the travel example because I threw a travel themed bridal shower for a girlfriend who really enjoyed travelling with her future husband. We sent pretty traditional shower invitations, but we requested guests think (if they wanted to) of a way to suggest the bride use her shower gift on a trip with her groom to be. We included card stock and requested each guest provide a travel tip or a suggestion for a future trip the bride and groom might enjoy. We used this card stock along with photos from the event to make a keepsake for my friend. We included a few games since it was a bridal shower, and the prizes for the game winners were travel themed.

For my daughter's first birthday I found a great deal on some cute dessert napkins and plates that said "I'm One" and had a teddy bear on them. I only bought a few items with this design and filled in with coordinating solid colors. I made a teddy bear smash cake for her to eat. In this case, the napkins and plates, and a matching bib provided me an idea for what kind of cake I wanted to make and a basic color scheme.

Next week I will wrap up this series with some tips on how to save money on decorations for parties.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's menu was a success, which I guess shouldn't be surprising since it was pretty simple and mostly made ahead of time. The grilled leftovers "make something tasty out of whatever is left" meal ended up being pretty much a potluck - I made up a plate of chicken and added a drizzle of Sweet Baby Ray's Barbeque sauce (my all time favorite) with a side of oven fries and mac n cheese. I made up another plate with steak, mashed potatoes and gravy and pasta salad. EmDee and I took turns passing the two plates back and forth! Sweetpea had mac n cheese, slices of chicken and steak, and some bites of mashed potatoes and gravy. Nothing fancy, but it was good.

We finished the meal off with a quick trip to the local ice cream shop - they just started serving pineapple Dole Whip, have you ever tried it? We had it on a vacation and LOVED it, I was so excited to see they started carrying it, and it was just as delicious as I remembered. Sweetpea loved taking licks from my cone and bites when we got down far enough.

This week will be a bit more structured.

Breakfasts will be Fiber One chewy granola bars (sounds kind of like cardboard, right? The carmel flavor is decadent and the peanut butter is fabulous as well!) and oatmeal with blueberries and craisins. I eat the fiber bar on the way to work and the oatmeal as a mid morning snack.

Lunches will be salad, yogurt, and tomatoes with cottage cheese

For Dinner:

Monday - pasta bake and garlic bread

Tuesday - Chicken Marsala (follow recipe substituting chicken for veal, I pound the chicken thin) and green beans

Wednesday - spaghetti and meatballs and salad

Thursday - Chicken Divan and corn on the cob

Friday - Layered taco salads

For more great menu plans, check out Orgjunkie!

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

More gifts...

*unbridled enthusiasm*

*a healthy family*

*finally, spring's planting rewarded*

*friends willing to drop what they are doing to help me in my time of need*

*pitter patter of tiny feet running from room to room, discovering*

*sleepy eyes, smiles, hugs and kisses each morning*

What has made you thankful this week? I'd love to hear what inspires and rewards you.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Baby Bumps

Preggy Facts:

1. Who did you first inform about your pregnancy and how? My husband had already guessed, but I was totally surprised. We were getting ready to go on a vacation to Hawaii, so when I found out for sure, I told him, "no free drinks at the luau for me!"

2. Maximum weight? I'm going to follow Steph's lead on this one, Sweetpea weighed 7lbs 4oz Oh, and I guess I will also say, I gained 40lbs, which is why I'm participating in the tweightloss challenge some 17 months later! I have lost 37 of those lbs now!

3. Cravings? Root beer

4. Aversions? anything greasy, but that isn't too unusual for me

5. Morning Sickness? a little bit of all day sickness, nothing too bad

D Day Facts:

1. Number of Kids/Deliveries? 1 baby, 1 delivery so far, though I'm getting a serious itch for #2 lately

2. NSD or CS? C-section due to a very tangled baby and a short cord...I really wanted a natural drug free delivery, but was delighted regardless when I saw my little miracle!

3. Girl or Boy? Girl

4. AOG (age of gestation) on Birth? 41wks

5. How long in labor? 19hrs before deciding this baby wasn't going to ever drop into position

Who Played Along:

If you play along, please copy the above play-alongers and add your blog!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Edible finger paint experiment

I have been wanting to try making edible finger paint since reading about it in Amy's Notebook entry. Since Sweetpea is still at the age where everything looks edible, I haven't given her any finger paint to play with.

We tried this last week when EmDee was working overtime and it was just the two of us. Since we were a bit short handed, I thought it would be a good idea to make them as soon as we got home for the day. That way Sweetpea could play with the paints in her highchair while I washed some dishes and made dinner. This worked out very well, but she ate more of it than she might have otherwise.

When we try this again, I'll make sure it's after dinner. One thing we discovered as a result of this experiment is the finger paint makes a delicious dessert when you scoop the excess up with a banana!

There are two totally different recipes to choose from, one from Notebook experiment 2/21/08 (with cornstarch) and one linked from last week's experiment here (with pudding). I chose the pudding recipe, because it sounded tastier. I also used about half the water to make the paint thicker. I added sprinkles for extra fun, and instead of having her paint on paper, I just scooped the "paint" right onto her highchair tray. Once she gets older I'll add more food coloring so she can work with some bolder colors. I was chicken, as you can see by the pastels in the following pictures!

This is definitely something we will try again, thanks for the inspiration, Amy!

As you can see, the first thing she did was taste it! I put on her Ikea long sleeved bib as a futile attempt to contain the mess. She actually did quite well with the finger paints, it was the spaghetti we had for dinner that got all over the place!

Ok, now we are starting to get interested in swirling things around a bit. Are those sprinkles on the corner of your mouth, Sweetpea?!

Finally getting down to business. You'll notice, she's drawing one handed - definitely keeping the bink close by these days with her molars breaking through! Right after this shot, I got the "are you really going to keep clicking away with that thing, I'm trying to draw here!" look, so I put the camera away and got on with the process of making dinner.

Do you have any good tips or tricks for playing with finger paint? I'd love to hear them! For more fun experiments, check out Momadvice

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sadness and Therapy

It has been a rough week, and it’s only Wednesday. A sweet friend of mine lost her mother over the weekend. My heart aches for her and my own tender scars are disturbed, bringing up fresh tears and constricted throat at the empty place in my life since losing my father five years ago.

We heard Monday there were going to be major cutbacks at work. Then they started on Tuesday. (sheesh!) Then I talked to my friend only to find that in addition to losing her mother, she is losing her job. She tells me she that at least with her finding out now she has a totally different perspective about the importance of work compared to other things. I agree, there is not much in life that will lay out with crystal clarity what was most important to you than the loss of a member of your immediate family.

This morning I decided I needed some cheap therapy, so I rode into work with the sunroof open and my windows down, radio blasting mostly classic/southern rock. It felt nice for a little while to just zone out and feel, to watch the clouds in the sky and the light streaking out with the first colors of the sunrise and the promise of what will likely be a beautiful day. Now I’m back to reality, to feeling nausea and regret at the friends who I won’t work with anymore. So when you see my eyes a little red and my hair disheveled, you’ll know why. Please pray for my sweet friend if you have the time and inclination.

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Wordless Wednesday

Definitely wising I were there again...

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, check out 5 minutes for mom

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Grandparents are Famous!

I grew up thinking my grandparents were great, but obviously I’m not the only one! They are now the “spokes couple” for their retirement community, how cute is that? This picture scrolls at college football games, is included in some local dollar saver ads the community runs, and is located in both wings of our local airport, life size and back lit! Sweetpea had the unique opportunity to wave at her great grandparents as I strolled her by on our way to fly to Florida a few weeks back. When I was traveling a lot after I returned to work it was fun to have a familiar pair of faces to send me off and greet me upon my return. I don’t know how much longer it will last, but I’m enjoying it while it does! My adorable 92 year old grandpa told me the other day, “It’s beginning to become embarrassing, people are starting to recognize us at the grocery!” My grandma turns 88 this weekend, and truly I don’t think there could be a better spokes couple for a retirement community—they both still drive, play golf, participate in community outings and attend many of the local theatre events. Grandpa is still active in Rotary and has lunch with his friends each Tuesday. Grandma still has her weekly bridge game, though I think they might be having a little more trouble than usual filling the tables. There is a golf event in her honor each year at the club they belong to, and she still plays in it! How wonderful for me that I still get to actively visit with my grandparents. How precious for me to watch them interact with my daughter!
(my apologies for the photo quality, I fuzzed it a bit so the ad wasn't visible)

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

This week is going to be more hectic than usual, so while I'm planning a week of meals, but the day to day choosing of what to eat will more likely resemble a free for all...

Breakfasts: Oatmeal with fresh fruit
Lunches: Lean Cuisine (I still have a week's worth of meals I purchased at Kroger for $1.30 each!) and tomatoes and cottage cheese
Dinners: Grilled steak with baked potatoes, Hamburgers and oven fries, Pasta salad, Grilled Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, Leftovers (invent something tasty with leftovers from the grill)

I've been making this pasta salad every week for the past month or more, it is so quick and easy, and I just throw in added veggies as they become available from the garden.

16oz cooked pasta (I prefer rotini or bowtie)
1 package of microwavable steamed vegetable mix (I picked up 10 packages when they were 10 for 10 at Kroger, spring vegetable mix)
chopped vegetables from the garden (mostly bell peppers and tomatoes)
diced meat (my favorite is ham, but we have also used grilled chicken)
4-6 tablespoons of miracle whip
2 tablespoons horseradish mustard
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon basil (more if using fresh)
Mix, chill, enjoy! This salad takes me about 15 minutes from start to finish and it's a great way to get the family to eat more vegetables. In order to reduce the prep time, I have the pasta boiling and the frozen vegetables heating up in the microwave while I'm chopping the meat and fresh vegetables.

For more (better organized) menu plans, check out OrgJunkie

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Sunday, August 17, 2008


For several months now I have been listing the grace, the gifts in my life. I have been telling friends what a wonderful impact that recognizing and recording gratitude has had on my life, but I haven't taken the time to share. This weekend I got the little push I needed, and so here are a few of the wonderful gifts I have recorded.
*Early morning brilliance streaking pink, blue, purple across the sky, reflecting in neighbor's windows*
*Little head laid down on mommy's shoulder, calming, clinging, returning to sleep*
*Daughter dancing excitedly with her great grandfather, seeing the love in his eyes*
*The spice of clover in the hot afternoon air, the smell of freshly cut grass*
*The feel of summer rain, cooling, signalling at least a small reprieve from oppressive heat*
*The sound of new words being tried out on baby lips*
*The taste of tomato fresh from the vine like sunshine distilled*
*family -home - peace - love - contentment*
For information on the 1000 gifts, and words more poetic and moving than I could ever pen, check out Holy Experience and Ann's gift list .

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Goals- Mixed feelings and Sabotage

I’ve had a goal in my journal that I’ve broadcast to many of my peers (for added accountability) and yet I’m coming up with excuse after excuse as to why I haven’t reached it yet. This has been going on for a YEAR now. I was driving into work one morning early this week, daydreaming with the sunroof open and it occurred to me: I think mixed feelings are what have been keeping me from running toward the finish line with in my usual stubbornness and fortitude.

This epiphany was probably obvious to the people who know me - why is it that someof the most obvious things are so difficult to pin down in our minds? The goal is to prepare our house for listing, with the eventual goal being to sell and move somewhere with less land and more storage space. *sigh*

The house we live in is 1500 square feet, which is plenty big for us. The one thing I don’t like about it is the layout—straight out of the mid to late 70’s, ranch style with compartmentalized rooms that don’t effectively utilize the available space. In addition, we live on 5 ¼ acres—as much as we love having a big yard, we don’t want to spend the amount of time required to take care of it at this stage in our life. We both work full time and have long commutes to work, leaving precious little time for family as it is, so the goal is a smaller yard with a smidge more living space—sounds good, right?

Did I mention my parents built this house? That I can recall picnicking around the skeleton of the house as it went up on weekends with my parents when I was about three? That my Dad, whom I miss dearly every day, planted the trees out in front of the house, built the swing set in the back yard, taught me how to garden out back? On the surface this move makes perfect sense, and in the grand scheme of things I still think it’s the right thing to do. But it helps to understand the root of my procrastination, the underlying reluctance.

Have you had a difficult decision you’ve been struggling with lately? How did you finally decide to move forward? For me, the house projects continue, the goal still the same. I will put this decision in the hands of one who is greater than I, who has a plan for me that will be revealed in time.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tweightloss Update

I lost 2lbs last week! I’ve been working on making small changes and concentrating on one or two things each week as I plod slowly but surely toward my weight loss goal.

Last week I started a food journal, something that has worked well for me in the past. This is definitely helping me curb my mindless eating (not a big problem for me, but definitely a contributor, especially at night) I will continue this for at least another month, looking for places that I can make healthier substitutions or eliminate empty calories.

This week I started using smaller plates. It’s funny how food presentation can make you think you’re eating more (or in my case the same when I’m actually reducing portion size somewhat). In addition, I’ve started eating my meals in a staggered fashion. I will start with a soup or salad at lunch, then progress after 10 minutes or so to my main course. I’m doing the same thing at dinner, and I’m also allowing myself a healthy dessert about 30 minutes following dinner to help keep me satisfied throughout the evening. I have one morning and one afternoon snack, so I’m eating small portions frequently throughout the day—this works well for me.

I am continuing my efforts to sneak exercise into my daily routine. I did a good job of this last week, and am trying to add incrementally to each mini session. As I mentioned some time ago, I am in a little competition with some of my coworkers—this helps keep me accountable and gets my competitive juices flowing. Another goal I’m going to continue working on this week is taking 10 minutes for cardio each day this week. I managed to work in cardio two days last week—not really what I had in mind, but we’ve been having some sleep challenges with Sweetpea. She’s teething, and has turned into (at least for the time being) a very light sleeper. My workout has been waking her up, so I haven’t been doing a good job of sticking with it. Starting today, I’m going to try jumping rope, a great cardio workout, and quieter than my kickboxing DVD.

Goal(s) of the week: Reportion meals by using smaller plates and feel full with less food by consuming meals in stages. Continue with strength and cardio goals from last week.

Are any of you working toward losing some baby weight? What strategies are working for you? I’d love to hear them!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ELF Makeup coupon code

photo by Porcelaingirl

I posted last Friday about what's in my makeup bag, and much of what resides there is
ELF makeup, short for Eyes Lips Face. Here is a little more background information, in case your interested. At the bottom of the post, I've included my picks and a coupon code!

From their website, "...Beauty comes from feeling and being your best, an inner confidence that translates to the outer-world as attractiveness...We at e.l.f. believe that innovative technology, quality ingredients and superb delivery systems should not be limited to prestige retailers."

ELF products have been featured in Parenting, Fitness, Everyday with Rachel Ray, and Self, just to name a few. They were also featured on the show "How to Look Good Naked" the last time I watched. (which was some time ago, back when I was up most nights feeding the newborn!)

The products are not tested on animals and there are several products that support charities. Their nailpolish is free of toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP (dibutyl phthalate).

This was enough, paired with the *can't go wrong for $1* price to get me to try a slew of products about 2 years ago. I signed up for email alerts and generally buy when there is a good coupon code out there. I have been known to go in with several friends since most coupon codes require a $25 purchase, and I'll be honest, I just don't want that much makeup!

My picks:

Brightening Eye Color - I love these. Probably a tie for my favorite product. These come in a great variety of palletes and are long lasting. They don't tend to form a line in the crease of my eyelid, which is a pet peave of mine!

Theraputic Conditioning Balm - I was a tried and true chapstick girl until I discovered these. My favorite is the orange, I love the feel and the balm stays on well and smells delicious!

Plumping Lip Glaze - I haven't worn much of this since Sweetpea was born, but I love the feel of it on my lips. It lasts well through the day and helps keep me from licking my lips, a bad habit of mine!

Nailpolish - I really like these polishes. They last well and I appreciate that they are free of some of the more nasty chemicals you can find in other nailpolishes.

Brushes and Tools - I love the blending wedges, brushes, eyelash curler, and tweezers.

Next time I purchase from ELF, I'm going to try the new bath and body line. If you've tried it, please let us know how you like it!

Things I'm not a fan of: I am not a fan of the foundation, mascara, or concealer. On the upside, I wasn't the least bit upset to discard them for the price!

Okay, now for the coupon code. Purchase $25 in products between now and the end of this month and get $2 shipping using code: EGSHIPT at checkout.

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Wordless Wednesday

Find more great Wordless Wednesday posts at 5 minutes for Mom!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Walk in the Park

If we're lucky, the good things in life don't change too much over time. Such is the case with this wonderful metro park near our home. Here are some pictures of Sweetpea exploring this past weekend. She loves running around picking up sticks and pinecones, sniffing flowers and chasing birds and chipmunks. It is so much fun to watch her reactions to things and see her discover the same park I grew up visiting.

Taking a rest on the rock wall in one of the gardens

Practicing climbing up onto the benches

Stopping to smell the flowers

She kept taking "shortcuts" in the maze

Headed for the bridge...this part made me a bit nervous!

Standing in front of one of the two ponds, obviously something on the ground was more interesting than the camera!


This is me in the same park, circa 1978. I was almost a year older than Sweetpea is now.
Things are a bit more polished than they used to be, and there is a great learning center that provides educational programs that didn't used to be here. The park tends to get more crowded, so we are careful to time our trips, but it is just as lovely as it always has been. I am so glad to be making new memories here with our little girl!

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Batch Cooking (Menu Plan Monday)

I read smallnotebook's post on batch cooking and it got me thinking about writing a post about my batch cooking techniques. I've talked about this on MPM before in general, but today I thought I'd spell out specifically what went into this week's prep for our menus.

First, the menu:

Monday: Pasta casserole

Tuesday: Taco salads

Wednesday: Vegetable Pasta

Thursday: BLT's

Friday: Breakfast for dinner (banana pancakes and bacon)

While Sweetpea was taking a marathon nap this afternoon, (THANK YOU, dear!) I cooked up 2lbs of ground turkey. Once cooked, I split it in half and to one half added taco seasoning (for Tuesday's meal) and to the other half spaghetti sauce. I think cooked 2lbs of pasta. That was split half for the casserole and the other half for the veggie pasta dish. I then cooked 1lb of bacon for our BLTs and breakfast on Friday. I prepared the casserole so it's ready to cook tomorrow night. The taco meat is ready to assemble on Tuesday. Wednesday's main dish is complete and the bacon is ready for Thursday and Friday. This prep work took less than 3 hours (with laundry, running the dishwasher and a shower mixed in) and it will significantly reduce the amount of time to prepare our meals during the work week.

My goal at least by the end of this month (running a bit behind, as this was supposed to be done for August...ahem.) is to work out a monthly menu plan and to start cooking extra to stash in the freezer. What are your tips and tricks for reducing the time it takes to get dinner on the table? I'd love to hear them!!
For more great menu plans, check out Orgjunkie

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm a Winner!

Shelly at Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother was sweet enough to give away an adorable Precious Moments figurine as part of the great Bloggy Giveaway, and I won! Check out her blog here, where you'll find her blogging about breastfeeding, home birth, attachment parenting and life with two little girls.

Thanks again, Shelly!

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Friday, August 8, 2008

What's in your makeup bag?

Photo By Annia316
What kind of makeup artist are you? Do you like to use the best of materials? Do you stick with your tried and true products that you know won't let you down, or are you adventurous, eager to try the Next Big Thing?

*disclaimer* I don't wear makeup very often, really. I rarely wear it to work, and if I do, its generally because I have a big meeting or presentation, or a big blemish! On the other hand, I do LOVE makeup, and in my pre-baby life that love affair was what you might call hot and heavy. With Sweetpea my focus has shifted, but I still enjoy beauty products and makeup, just not as often as I used to. My habits are still the same, it's kind of like riding a bike, apparently!

I'm a bit of a multiple personality when it comes to makeup. I buy the expensive and the very cheap. I try new beauty products when I see them in the yearly Self roundup, or when I find a good deal on something that catches my eye...otherwise I stick with the tried and true.

I am a huge Bare Minerals fan when it comes to foundation. I love that it's natural, that it covers well but is still sheer, and if I'm lazy and don't want to take it off at the end of the day (read-nearly always) it's not going to ruin my complexion. This is likely the most expensive item in my makeup bag and I will never stray from it, people!

When it comes to blush, I used to have a favorite L'Oreal product that I still use on occasion. Lately, since it came in my Bare Minerals starter kit I've been using their "warmth" product when I want a little color. I can see myself going back and forth between these two products in the future. They are both on the expensive side when compared to some of the blushers that are out there, and I'm okay with that. They both look nice, and there is not much that looks worse than unnaturally pink cheeks on an otherwise lovely face.

Eyeshadow is my guilty pleasure. I love trying new shades, and thankfully I found ELF where I can pick and choose from a wide variety of shades and types, all for $1! While I'm not a fan of everything they sell, I am a huge proponent of their eye shadows and lipsticks. I probably have 6-8 different color pallets from ELF in my bathroom drawer, and another 2 in my makeup bag. It's all about subtlety still, so while I love to try new colors, I stay true to my method (neutrals, light/dark/lighter) regardless of the shade I try.

I use mascara only when we are going out somewhere fancy (or to a bar, for some reason?) and I use Covergirl waterproof LashExact in BlackBrown. I really like the definition and lack of clumping. As an aside I can only use mascara on my upper lashes. I don't know how anyone can put mascara on their lower lashes without looking like a raccoon?

I'm more of a gloss girl than a lipstick girl, but I do love trying out lip products. Again, I stick with ELF and love their lip products, especially for the price! They have a plumping lip glaze that is all minty and tingly and wonderful...and I buy their therapeutic conditioning balm like it's going out of style.

Nail polish is all about the toes for me. For that reason I'm more about the bright colors, but for the rare occasion I'm going to paint my FINGERnails, I keep some pale colors around as well. I like Zoya and ELF best because they are free of a lot of the chemicals you'll find in other products. After reading Twithhoney's blog about water based nail polish I'm interested in trying that out.

So to recap, here's what's in my bag:

Bareminerals Fairly Light

Bareminerals Warmth

ELF eyeshadow in Nouveau Neutrals and Luxe

ELF Therapeutic conditioning lip balm in Orange Creme

ELF plumping lip glaze in Mauveberry and Plum Pout

What's in your makeup bag? What's your makeup "personality"? I'd love to hear what's working for you!

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Monkey See Monkey Do...Sort of!

Tonight we were playing in the baby pool and with the water wand. Sweetpea's favorite pal GabeDog was out and playing with us. Being a black dog in upper 80 degree weather, he improvised and made Sweetpea's baby pool into his own personal water bowl. After seeing him lap up some water, she promptly dunked her head in the water and started blowing bubbles! I guess that's what she thought he was doing. I was so tickled and she just looked up at me like, "silly Mommy, what do you think is so funny?"

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Fitting in Fitness

I'm a day later than planned on this one, sorry for the delay!

Two of the most important things to consider when planning an exercise strategy are choosing something (or a variety of things) that interests you and finding a way to fit exercise into your daily routine that doesn't feel forced or unnatural. When you look forward to working out and it fits naturally into your daily life it is much easier to consistently meet your fitness goals.

Prior to Sweetpea's arrival, for me that meant getting up at 5:00AM and meeting my mom at our local YMCA 3 days a week, taking a morning pilates class another day and attending my favorite class, cardio kick boxing, on Saturdays. This worked well for me because EmDee was on an early morning schedule and was leaving about the time I needed to get up. It meant I got to spend quality time with my mom, and I felt refreshed and energized for my day after a good early morning workout.

Lately I've been struggling to get up at 5:00AM due to periodic middle of the night feedings or simply not going to bed when I should. EmDee is still leaving early in the morning for work most weeks, which means I can't go to the YMCA because their daycare doesn't start until 8:00AM. I need a new plan!

One strategy I have been successfully implementing is fitting small bits of exercise into my day while I get ready and while I'm on my way to work...don't laugh, this may sound strange to you when I explain it!

I do push ups and sit ups before I get in the shower in the morning, usually 25 push ups and 50 sit ups. I do squats while I'm washing my hair, calf raises while I'm brushing my teeth, and pilates breath exercises while I'm driving into work. These are times when I'm otherwise preoccupied with things I have to do, but I can multitask pretty easily. These little bits of exercise add up and reduce the amount of strength exercises I need to do separately.

What I've decided regarding cardio is this - I'm committed to making a class at the YMCA each Saturday. I have a 10 minute solutions kickboxing DVD that I am going to challenge myself to use each day for at LEAST 10 minutes. I think that sounds realistic, and as I get used to fitting these smaller cardio sessions into my day, I'm hoping I will add additional sessions until I'm working out 30-50 minutes at least 4 days a week.

What do you do to fit cardio and strength workouts into your life? I'd love to hear what works for you!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Check out other Wordless Wednesday posts at 5 minutes for mom

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Tips for Nursing Discreetly

Works for Me Wednesday is on hiatus, but I thought I'd post this in honor of - you guessed it - World Breastfeeding Week!

Have you ever nursed in public? If so, are you comfortable with it, or do you wish you weren’t putting quite so much “out there”?! My daughter stays with a friend while I’m at work, so she has taken expressed milk from a bottle since she was five months old. I’m sure that helped her willingness to take a bottle when we were out and about, but there were still times she was very adamant she wanted to nurse, and that was fine with me.

There are some very cute nursing covers available, but I wasn’t interested in spending money on something I wasn’t sure I would use very often, and it was just one more thing to carry around in the diaper bag. Same went for nursing tops, expensive and I would need to buy several of them if I was going to leave the house regularly!

I started out using a blanket to cover my daughter while she nursed. This worked reasonably well when she was very young, but it was still a bit awkward. As she got older, she grew interested in lifting the blanket or snatching it away…a game that was much funnier to her than mommy!

I found my perfect solution in the nursing tank! These tanks offer the access of a nursing bra with the added bonus of covering your belly when you lift your shirt. I find that I’m not really showing any skin when I pull my shirt back down to my daughter’s face, even without a cover. I saw lots of ads for nursing tanks in the back of parenting magazines, and I tried a few but wasn’t overly enthused.

My favorite nursing tank is from Bravado, and can be found here: Bravado Tank

(special thanks to Stephanie and Arianne from for the recommendation!)

The close runner up can be found at Target in the nursing bra section and is made by Gilligan & O’Malley. They are available in stores and online…with this one I would recommend wearing a sleep bra underneath for extra lift if you are well endowed.

Another suggestion if you like babywearing would be to nurse in a sling. Ring slings are particularly well suited for nursing because you can bring the “tail” up over the baby for extra coverage. I have nursed several times in my pouch sling, but for me, I still like the extra coverage of the tank when I’m lifting my shirt—It works for me!

Do you have any tips for nursing in public? I’d love to hear them!!

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tweightloss Diaries - Healthier Eating

Photo by David Silverline

I’ve joined the Tweightloss challenge with some of my Twitter friends. I would like to get back into some of those last remaining outfits that I haven’t sported since Sweetpea came along, and more importantly, I’d like to increase my energy level. I was in the best shape I’d been in since playing organized sports when I got pregnant, and it felt great. I slept soundly, had energy all day long and LOVED the feeling of strength and flexibility that came along with my regular workouts.

The past sixteen months have been incredibly rewarding and at times challenging. One thing I’ve struggled with has been fitting exercise into my schedule without sacrificing time spent with family. I hate to admit it, but apparently I have also adjusted my portion sizes to account for full time nursing, which isn’t necessary anymore now that Sweetpea is solidly eating, well, solids! As a part of the Tweightloss challenge, my goals are:

1) make healthy food choices and eliminate some of the mindless evening eating I’ve been doing
2) fit exercise into my schedule in a way that is rewarding and unobtrusive

A few years ago I read French Women Don’t Get Fat and I remember enjoying the practical tips to healthier eating that the book presented. I decided to check this book back out from our local library and revisit it to help kick start my Tweightloss. As an added exercise, I’ll review my “findings” with you! Check back next week for more updates.

Last night I read the first three chapters of the book. It is a fun, quick reading book, and as I’d remembered, full of good tips. After revisiting the introduction chapters, here are the strategies I’m going to employ this month:

1) Keep a food diary - I know this is important, and I’ve been tracking my points but not the specific foods I’m eating. This month I will track the specific foods and timing of my meals to see if there is a pattern that needs “tweaking”.
2) Practice ritual eating - I will return to eating sitting down, savoring my food, and not multitasking at mealtimes. (something I am notorious for now that my time is so scarce) I am also going to start eating off of a smaller plate to help portion my food correctly and keep me from overeating.
3) Eat fresh foods - This is so much easier in the summer/fall when there is a wide variety of fresh produce around, and I’m going to take advantage of that fact. Hand in hand with fresh foods is cooking as many meals as possible yourself, so you are aware of what your eating and what is going into your body.
4) Make healthy substitutions - If there is a weakness you have for a particular unhealthy food, see if you can “healthy” it up a little bit by making smart substitutions. An example would be choosing light butter or applesauce in some of your baked goods, 2% cheese instead of the full fat variety, or reducing the amount of pastry in your favorite fruit dessert.
5) Drink more water - This is one I hear a lot, and I have been making a concerted effort to increase my daily water intake. I like the suggestion from this book to drink a big glass of water before bed and right after waking up—it helps fulfill my 8 glass a day goal, and counteract the dehydrating effects of sleep.

Are you working to improve your eating habits? What tips and tricks are working for you? Check back in tomorrow when I post about my fitness goals.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Some Great Breastfeeding Links

photo by BLMurch

To continue celebrating World Breastfeeding Week I wanted to share some of my favorite breastfeeding resources on the web.

Kelleymom This site has great resources for all phases of nursing, it is my go to site when I have a question or am looking for a specific answer. There is also information on growth charts, introducing solids, extended nursing, and herbs and medicines that are safe.

Breastfeeding.com is a fun site with serious and silly information regarding breastfeeding. They have a working mom section that I think is especially nice to check out. For those of you who enjoy following entertainment news there is quite a bit of that as well!

The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog Check out the special Motherwear is running this week to celebrate WBW! Be sure also to check out the great guest post from 7/28, Why I nurse... This blog is full of great resources as well as a running commentary on being a breastfeeding mom.

La Leche League is another site I check if I'm looking for something I can't find anywhere else. They have a great resource link and are a good source for finding lactation consultants in your area.

What sites do you frequent for breastfeeding information and support?

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Menu Plan Monday

This week is going to be a strange one for us. EmDee is working 2nd shift due to the vacation schedule at his work...which means Sweetpea and I are on our own for dinners through Friday. That considered, we decided to have a major grillfest last night. I will be fixing food from Sunday's bounty all week long. We grilled hamburgers, steaks, chicken and hot dogs! The burgers and dogs are for EmDee, the steak and chicken we will split.

Breakfast for me will continue to be oatmeal with craisens and blueberries. I stocked up at last week's Kroger Mega Event and I have Lean Cuisine meals for lunch this week, paired with a salad. I will either be eating a lettuce or tabouli salad with my frozen lunch. My tentative dinner schedule for the week:

Monday: Grilled chicken salad and tomatoes with cottage cheese
Tuesday: Steak and oven fries
Wednesday: Grilled chicken with pasta and vegetables and a side salad
Thursday: Chicken parmesean and garlic bread
Friday: Steak sandwiches and pasta salad

I made homemade ice cream this weekend, and we will likely dip into that each night this week!

What does your menu plan look like? For more great ideas, check out Menu Plan Monday at Orgjunkie!

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Summer Fun Photo Contest

5 Minutes for Mom is hosting a summer fun photo contest, stop by and see how to enter. I just love how Sweetpea is walking like she owns the beach in this shot. She had a wonderful time beach bumming with us a few weeks ago: digging sand, letting the waves roll up on her legs, discovering shells and knocking over sand castles. It was refreshing and energizing watching her discover all the beach had to offer.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

I was so glad my husband sent me an article that mentioned this today, or I might have missed it. If you’re interested in more information, you can find it here:


I was blessed with an abundant milk supply and a loving support group that helped Sweetpea and I succeed at breastfeeding. We had a rough start at first, with each of us contributing to poor latching. We had wonderful support from the nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital, and continued support through the hospital after we went home. Through use of a shield and some pumping, I was able to feed Sweetpea my milk exclusively throughout. At some point around six weeks old, she just “went for it” one day, and while I was getting ready to put the shield in place, she lunged and latched on beautifully! Praises, sweet darling daughter, we DID it! I was so thankful, so proud of her, so happy that we made such a good little team. Since then, we have continued to enjoy the bond, and I honestly think it feeds both of us…I can’t imagine not breastfeeding and am so glad it worked out for us.

When possible, I attend a breastfeeding support group at a local hospital. I support my friends and colleagues that are interested with information and contacts. My workplace has a wonderful place for us to pump during the day, which is such a great perk for working moms.

I had extra milk, and decided to donate. Have you heard of human milk banks? I had not, until I was talking with one of the fabulous women in our support group about pumping one day. She mentioned to me that she donated because she had more than her son needed, and she gave me contact information. There is a rigorous screening process, but it is so rewarding. The milk mainly goes to premature babies who receive it by prescription in the NICU. You can find out more information on the North American program, and how to donate here: http://www.hmbana.org/

What do you think about human milk banks? Have you had any experiences with them? Were you successful breastfeeding your children? Do you have any tips for us? I think this forum, this great group of mommy bloggers is a great support group, and I’m so glad to be able to participate! I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

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