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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our winter wonderland

The snow and ice is beautiful, especially if you don't have to drive in it! Here are some pictures from around our yard this week.

We're all geared up for a weekend of frosty fun! What are you planning for this weekend?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sweetpea charms the firemen

Sweetpea and I went to visit the fire station right before the first wave of stomach flu hit during the holiday break. We took our red and green fake out Snickerdoodles to say thanks for all these men and women do to keep us safe. Sweetpea loved seeing the fire equipment and big trucks. We called ahead, and there were two firemen to lead us around and show us everything. She wasn't sure about letting the fireman put her up in the truck, but she was more than happy to let me put her in. She loved the hat too, we keep it in my car and she asks to wear it about once a week or so. If your child is interested in trucks, I would highly recommend a trip to the fire station!

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crazy winter weather

I'll be the first to admit (or complain) that Ohio drivers just don't know what to do when we get much snow. The first problem appears to be the removal or treatment...see exhibit A above. We got about 4 inches of snow overnight, with 2 more expected today and a possible 4-7 more inches tonight. My commute was a mess in places, but I'm hoping we can build a snowman when I get home tonight! Sweetpea was totally excited to see the snow when we left this morning. She said, "I eat?!" and was so sincere that I brought out a spoon and a small bowl and she ate snow on the way to daycare today!
How's the weather where you are today?

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Weekday cooking the easy way...

I'm cooking from the freezer for the most part this week, thanks to the times over the past two months that I was able to make extra to freeze for weeks such as this! Evenings this week are going to be pretty crazy, so I didn't want to sign up for anything complicated. Do you have weeks like that? What are your standy recipes, I'd love to hear them! Here's what is on our menu this week:

Monday: cheesy meatball sandwiches and pasta salad
Tuesday: cream of potato soup and toasted ham and cheese
Wednesday: Family night out! (buy one get one free Mexican)
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Pop up pancakes

What's on your menu this week?

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grateful for the return to "normal"

We finally had our first reasonably normal week of the year, and can I say how excited I am?! It really is the little things in life, and after a few weeks of the sickies, even just a nice, relaxing, healthy (some might even say boring!) life is just what I wanted.

One more week of work for me and then I get to look forward to two weeks off! I'm so excited, and working on a list of things to do with Sweetpea and around the house during that time. It takes a little extra thought to plan activities for a not quite two year old in the middle of winter, but we have a few things on our list so far - swimming at the YMCA, visiting our local mall's free play zone, getting 2 year old pictures taken, and lunch at the great specialty market we have in town. (where half of your lunch comes from the free samples - yeah!) I'm still on the fence about which house projects to tackle. I'm thinking it will be mostly painting and cleaning.

Here are a few of the items from my gratitude journal this week:

*visiting with GG and Papaw*

*a pair of 40 degree days amidst the freezing weather, a glimpse of spring weather that is just a few months off*

*an end to the waiting and worrying we'd been doing, good news*

*many chances to play tea..."is it good?" "would you like more?" so sweet!*

*a return to some of the projects I enjoy at work, after many months of a project I loathed*

*bright beautiful cardinals coloring the white and gray landscape of winter*

*EmDee bringing me one of my favorite pizzas home with him one night, unexpected deliciousness*

What are you thankful for this week?

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lessons learned from the vomit fest - how to clean up a carseat

For those of you with a faint stomach, you may want to skip this one...but I thought I'd pass along this lesson learned from the first of our two vomit fests this month. Just in case you ever find yourself in the freezing pitch black of a winter night, trying to figure out how to clean the vomit out of your car seat, after finally getting your sweet sick one to bed.

I had a bad feeling about our ability to make it home without Sweetpea getting sick, so I had a blanket over her. That helped keep some of the mess contained, but much of it was still on the straps and cover. The cover was easy, I knew how to take it off the seat and inside to wash it. The straps were another story. We have the Evenflo Triumph 5 with the adjustable straps, and I was afraid if I figured out how to get them undone, they would never go back together correctly. Eventually, I came up with an idea, and it worked pretty well. Here are the details, but I hope you never need them!

1) take the dust buster to the carseat to remove any crackers and other solid bits from the seat. I was amazed that there seemed to be half a box of various crackers wedged in the nooks and crannies of the seat.
2) Bring out a wet rag and wipe down the shell of the seat as best you can.
3) Bring out a large cup of water and a toothbrush...submerge the straps, one at a time, into the water. Brush the straps with the toothbrush until they appear clean. You may want to add a small amount of soap to the water, and you may need to change the water out before you're through.
4) Wipe the shell and the straps with a dry cloth.
5) Spray the entire car, but especially the seat, with Febreeze, close the doors and hope for the best!

Do you have any experience with this kind of thing? Any other suggestions?
Here's hoping for a healthy rest of cold and flu season for all of us!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Gearing up to Go Red February 6th

As someone who has been very personally affected by heart disease, I do my best to live a heart healthy lifestyle and be an advocate for the American Heart Association and its programs. Are you familiar with the Go Red for Women campaign? It’s a great program designed to help inform and empower women to live heart healthy lifestyles, know their risk factors, and understand the symptoms of a heart attack.

Here are some simple steps to love your heart, courtesy of the AHA:

Use as many calories as you take in. Interested in some calculators for determining how many calories certain activities burn, or how many calories you need a day? I love the Self Magazine site calculators here. The site also has great information on nutrition, healthy recipes and exercises. If you’re looking for some motivation to get in shape, the Self Challenge is a great program.

Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. Need a refresher course on the food groups? The USDA my pyramid site is a wonderful resource for all ages. I love being able to double check that Sweetpea is getting a good, balanced diet.

Eat less nutrient poor foods. Looking for a way to indulge your sweet tooth but still eat healthy? The Eat Better America site has a wonderful resource for “healthified” versions of traditional treats.

Want to learn more about heart health, risk factors, and symptoms of heart diseases? Check out the AHA website and the women’s site, Go Red For Women. I hope you’ll mark your on February 6th to wear red – let’s show our support and help spread the word!

Information is power, and we owe it to ourselves and our families to take good care of ourselves! What heart healthy activities do you incorporate into your life? Are you heart smart? I’d love to hear from you!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Who can resist a face like this?

I keep seeing people playing along with this fun contest, so I'm going to jump on the bandwagon!

This week's theme is "anything goes" so I just picked a favorite from this past summer. I was looking for a little spring vibe, and I think I found it here?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quick and easy Snickerdoodle fake out

Looking for an easy and delicious treat, but don't have much time? Snickerdoodles are one of my favorite treats, and I love making them from scratch. When I'm in a pinch for time, this is my go to fake out recipe. Quick, easy, and delicious!

Remember when I said we were taking our leftover Christmas cookies to the fire station? Yeah, well, since mama didn't make nearly as many cookies this year, there weren't any leftovers... {{blushing}} When it came time to go to the fire station, I certainly didn't want to arrive empty handed, so this is what we did...

Here are the ingredients...you'll just have to imagine that cinnamon in there...I've tried to help since I forgot it in the first place! A roll of sugar cookie dough, a knife to slice the dough, some sugar and cinnamon.

Place your sugar into a small bowl and add cinnamon to the sugar. Since it was just after Christmas when we made these, I chose leftover red and green sugar. Make your cookie dough slices into balls and roll the balls into the sugar. I tried to do half and half for a fun multicolor effect. Once your cookie balls are coated in sugar and cinnamon, place them on your cookie sheet, squish them down a little bit to help them bake evenly, and bake as directed on the package.

Enjoy your super cute and delicious treat! *Editors note - this was the first batch cooled out of the oven. This recipe makes about a dozen and a half cookies, depending on how big your slices are.*
More on our fun trip to the fire station tomorrow...

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Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm back - hoping we've paid our sick dues for awhile

After the second round of stomach flu in as many weeks, I'm not really feeling like myself. We're dealing with some stressful developments in the problem solvin house, and between that and the sheer exhaustion of being sick and taking care of my sick family, I'm worn out.

I'm hoping you'll provide me with some inspiration for things to write about this week? I'm coming up short on my own. Do you have any questions for the problem solvin mom? If so I'd love to hear them now.

Here's what's on our menu this week:

Monday: Taco salads
Tuesday: creamy beef and rice
Wednesday: tomato soup and grilled cheese
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: bacon egg and cheese sandwiches with hashbrowns

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The pursuit of work/life balance: evaluating, organizing, and planning our way to a life we love!

The first step in achieving work/life balance is identifying your goals - what is it that you want when you say “balance”? As I’ve mentioned before, much of the balance comes in prioritizing the various aspects of our lives, and therefore finding that balance is an active, purposeful pursuit.

Instead of specific resolutions this year, we defined the core values most important to our family, and my goal is to live those values. Once you come up with the short list, how does that translate into what you want your days to look like? I came up with the idea for this series knowing that I would need a plan to achieve my goal for the year. It's one thing to create an ideal for yourself, to visualize what that ideal might look and feel like, and it's quite another to create a specific plan and execute it. A lot of the "getting there" is organizational - I needed help, and I thought you might be interested in learning along with me!

As part of my research, I met Jackie McKay* of Deliberate Wellness. One tool that Jackie uses with her clients is the Circle of Life. The Circle of Life is a tool developed by the Coaches Training Institute to help evaluate your satisfaction with various aspects of your life. I love that it's simple and flexible!

To try this exercise yourself, draw a circle and divide it into "slices". Assign the sections various titles, whether they be tasks that fill your day, goals you have, etc. Evaluate on a scale of 1 - 10 how satisfied you are with each section. Once you're finished, you might want to go into each section and assign it an ideal value. How big is the gap between reality and your ideal? How balanced are the various sections? Now that you've identified the gaps, you can better address them and begin creating a life that is fulfilling and less stressful.

This is the first in a series of posts this month on getting organized and meeting goals. I imagine it will be a mix of life coaching, organizing and planning, and some handy tools that I find along the way. I'd love to hear some of your challenges in this area, and any tips or solutions you might have! I'll try and incorporate any feedback into the series as we go along.

*Jackie McKay is a results oriented coach for mom entrepreneurs and working moms who are struggling to manage time, increase personal and professsional wealth and create a balance between business and family. She left the corporate world 8 years ago to become an entrepreneur in the wellness industry. She also practices Bowen Therapy, Massage Therapy and teaches Stott Pilates.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu planning after the stomach bug...proceeding slowly!

After last week's gastrointestinal adventures, I'm still not feeling up to much in the kitchen. This week we're hitting the comfort food, and thankful to be keeping it down!

Here's what's on our menu:

Monday: spaghetti casserole

Tuesday: creamy beef and rice skillet

Wednesday: soup and grilled cheese sandwiches

Thursday: leftovers

For more menu inspiration, visit OrgJunkie

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gratefully, if slowly, exiting the fog

Ugh, what a week! I'm so glad we've finally found the end of this stomach bug. Somehow, Sweetpea has found her way right into another virus, this time causing her a sore throat and cough. My incredibly healthy little girl seems to be making up for some lost time. She's being quite a trooper about it, at least during the day. At nights we are cuddling quite a bit. I love the cuddles, but can I just say, I am so tired.

Even so, there are always things to be grateful for...here are a few from this past week's list:

*The best pediatrician I could ever ask for - interestingly (at least to me!) the same pediatrician I went to from birth through college*

*coffee, and delicious holiday creamers marked down to 99 cents each*

*one of our sick days spared me a miserable ice laden commute to work*

*my wonderful, loving family*

*faith and hope during difficult times*

What are you thankful for this week?

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Monday, January 5, 2009

We interrupt this programming...

...due to the arrival of an uninvited guest - the teeny tiny, nasty stomach virus variety, and I'm running up the white flag in surrender. We got a small indication of what was in store for us when Sweetpea got sick Friday night. Saturday she seemed fine. Sunday night, late, is when the spit up hit the fan, so to speak...

I hope to be back to normal blogging by the weekend. In the meantime, if you need me, I'll likely be on the couch with Sweetpea or doing laundry. Again.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Starting the year with a grateful heart

I can't believe how quickly the holidays (and my time off) have flown by. I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, as I still can't quite get my mind around the fact that it isn't July, 2008! If it weren't for the cold weather, I might really be confused...

As I prepare to go back to work {{shudder}} I've been leaning heavily on my gratitude journal to keep from getting more than a bit melancholy. Here are a few of the more recent entries:

*exciting new opportunities in 2009*

*watching the sky turn from pale yellow to bright orange to pink as the sun signals the start to another day*

*one last lazy, snuggly, cozy coffee and sugar cookie in front of the tree with only the tree lights on*

*relaxing evenings with extended family*

*spontaneous baby hugs, gentle and sweet*

*dinner with friends, catching up and laughing, watching our children interact*

*family date night 1/1 to start the year off right*

What are you grateful for this week?

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Funnies - Welcome to 2009!

I was super excited to score some of the wrap around sunglasses for toddlers on clearance for $1 while on a business trip to Texas a little over a year ago. They were going to be perfect for our trips to Florida this year! (know that feeling?) Funny thing is, when the trips came around, they didn't stay on Sweetpea's face for longer than 30 seconds at a time...too interesting and yummy looking, they had to be pulled off and investigated, chewed on and discarded. At the time I consoled myself with the fact that they were only a dollar.

Little did I understand that the appropriate season for wrap around sunglasses was late December...perfectly paired with winter pj's and a favorite new hat:And, of course, an enthusiastic grin...
Perhaps a nonchalant tilt to your glasses and a toothy smile? (with a little leftover dinner on your cheek? oops!)
And even the occasional bumblebee pacifier for good measure. At least now I know!
And I can confidently say we have now gotten our $1's worth!

Happy Friday, everyone!

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Photo by FreeWine

Wishing you all many blessings in the coming year! Did you have a late night celebrating? Did you go to bed early to celebrate like we did? {blushing} What are you planning for the coming year?

I've wrote yesterday about what resolutions I'll be working on this year. You can read about my strategy for keeping us motivated today on Sprout for Parents!

I have some other exciting things planned for PSMom - for the month of January we'll be featuring products and strategies for organizing your life and finding that mythical work/life balance. As I've written before, balance is all about mindfully choosing what we make time for. That said, it's difficult to stay on track. We'll talk with some pros on how to identify where we are spending our time and how we might want to refocus. We'll review (and give away!) some tools for organizing our clutter, data, photos, plans and dreams. Does that sound like something that interests you? I hope you'll stay tuned and learn with me!

One other resolution related feature for this month that I'm super excited about? Talking with RedBook love expert and author Tina Tessina about her latest book Money Sex & Kids. One of the items on my top 5 list this year is "honor each other". In that vein, I can't wait to gain her insight into strengthening my relationship with EmDee.

Looking for some tools to help identify the things you want to work on this year? Here are a few resources I'm loving right now:

Finding your Family Mission Statement (Simplemom)
Finding your Zingers (Millionaire Mommy Next Door)
Writing your personal commandments (The Happiness Project)
100 blogs that will inspire you to be a better person (Massage Therapy Careers)

What are you planning for 2009? I'd love to hear your resolutions and goals!

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