Friday, August 30, 2013

Start the Revolution

This was the evening sky last night as we watched football practice.  Sunbeams as far as the eye can see, radiating above our tiny, precious football players.  

Do you see those little guys, in the huddle?

With all the chaos in the world (Syria, Miley Cyrus and just about everything else on the news) I thought this picture was a very good reminder of the goodness all around us.  There is so much beauty in every day, don't let the ugly overshadow it.  

Don't let the chaos win.

Teach your children how to be good and noble, and how to respect themselves and those around them.  The world could use a little more character.  A little more of what's right, and a lot less of what's wrong.

Let's start the revolution. 

Hug your babies, and enjoy a wonderful Labor Day weekend!



Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Few of the Many Reasons I Love Capri Sun

Summer is winding down.  While the beginning of summer was met with excitement and plenty of fun in the sun, these last few weeks have been a bit lazier.

I'm having to push my kids into the pool and organize activities to get them running around.  They don't know it, and they wouldn't believe it, but they really need school to start. 

Last week, several moms from my town decided to get the kids out on one last hurrah before school starts at the end of August.  There is a gorgeous state park about thirty miles away, and there is plenty for the kids in terms of swimming, hiking and just PLAYING.  I felt this was a great opportunity for my kids to see friends and more importantly spend time together.

There is much more squabbling and annoying each other when we're all stuck within the walls of our house.  Fresh air has a way of lightening everyone's mood, mine included.

Before I leave for any event, I pack a cooler of snacks and drinks.  Truthfully, every time I leave the house I have at least a Capri Sun pouch in my purse.  My kids don't weather thirst or hunger very well; both lead to meltdowns and attitude problems.  With four kids, buying everyone a beverage when we're out and about is not in the budget.  Neither are brand name jeans or fancy sneakers.

Thus, every trip to the supermarket includes tossing at least two boxes of Capri Sun Roarin' Waters Flavored Water Beverage into my cart, and every trip to the mall includes coupons and sale racks.

When you're raising a small army, you have to be resourceful.

As far as beverages go, I prefer the Roarin' Waters because it's only 30 calories, no artificial colors or flavors and is the perfect drink to hydrate my kids on a hot summer day.  My kids prefer them because, well, they are much more exciting than a bottle of water.  Whenever possible I try to be exciting, because I have a habit of enforcing rules and assigning chores.

Such a Debbie Downer.

For our trip to the state park, I packed plenty of snacks and Capri Sun pouches.  While the weather wasn't ideal for swimming (or being at a park period), the kids didn't seem to mind.  The wind was gusting, but everyone under the age of 20 still found their way into the lake.

Ah, to be a kid again.


With school around the corner, I've been stocking my Capri Sun boxes in the basement.  They are a must for school lunches and football games.  My kids love them, and they are super easy and convenient.  Today I decided to try a new flavor, Capri Sun Super V Fruit and Vegetable Juice Drink in Fruit Punch.  Super V has a 1 combined serving of fruits and vegetables*, and that tiny pouch even packs some fiber.  Perfect for my growing munchkins.

Find out more about Capri Sun and all their family friendly products.  Or you can check them out on Facebook.

I'm wondering, what's your "go-to" beverage when you are out and about with your kids?


Each pouch provides 1/2 cup of fruit and vegetable juice. According to U.S. dietary guidelines, Capri Sun Super V Fruit and Vegetable Drink contains one combined serving of fruit and vegetables--3/4 from fruit juice and 1/4 from vegetable juice. Be sure to feed your kids a variety of whole fruits and vegetables each day.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Barn Cat

A few weeks ago, I posted about adorable farm kittens born under our porch.  I am not a cat person, so this discovery was met with mixed emotions.  Despite being allergic and having no desire to ever own a cat, I was won over by the tiny critters. 

Couldn't help myself. 

Luckily, they decided to move their home base to the shed next door.  As cute as they were, they started murdering innocent baby rabbits and I didn't really want them pooping and peeing under our porch.  Now we can admire them from a yard away instead of our front door.

A few days ago, one of the barn cats from across the street was hanging in our driveway.  To our surprise he greeted us when we approached him.  Usually these cats are rather skittish, and there are many of them around the neighborhood.

But this guy was friendly, and he followed my son around for a bit.  My little guy loved it, and I let him feed the cat the leftover kitten food (yes, I know, don't feed the strays...). 

The two hung out all afternoon.

The next day, he was waiting for my son on the porch. 
Despite my worn-down-but-still-anti-cat attitude, I let my son know his friend was waiting for him.  I'm thinking it's harmless, and my son gets to enjoy a "pet" he would never otherwise enjoy. 

Besides, we're "country" people now.  I think it's time I get used to all the animals.  Allergies or not, these cats are not going anywhere.  I do know they will never live in my house, but I'm sure my kids will try and sneak a few in my garage.  I guess I'll never have to worry about mouse terds.

Always a silver lining.

Happy Wednesday all, make it totally amazing!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tie Dye Sprinkle Cake

This cake was created as a last minute, "we're going somewhere what should I bring" dessert.

Ever have one of those?

Usually, in times of desperation I just go to the grocery store.  This past weekend, I challenged myself to make something fabulous out of what I had in my pantry.  I'm not going to say this is fabulous, but everyone under the age of fourteen was pretty excited about it.  And truthfully, that is so my crowd when we're talkin' food preferences.

To make this bad boy, you'll need:

1 box cake mix (prepared)
1 container Snack Pack Pudding (or similar, I used vanilla)
1 container vanilla frosting
rainbow sprinkles (an abundance)
food coloring (assorted)
2 round 8" or 9" cake pans
1/2 cup flour (for dusting pans)

Preheat oven to 350.  Thoroughly grease cake pans and dust with flour, making sure to remove excess flour.  Prepare cake mix, and pour into cake pans as evenly as possible.

Bake according to package instructions, I baked my 2 round 9" cake pans for 24 minutes.

Remove from oven, and cool completely on wire rack.  If you are pressed for time (as I was) allow to cool about twenty to thirty minutes and remove from pans by loosening sides with knife and turning them upside down onto rack and gently tapping underside of pan. 

The danger in this method is you are risking the perfection of your cakes, as seen below.
The good news is that most small imperfections can be easily hidden in the stacking and decorating process.

You need to let the cakes cool completely before you stack and decorate, and to speed this process along I placed mine in the fridge.

I am truly, Martha Stewart's nightmare. 

Once cool, place bottom cake on plate.  Spread vanilla pudding over top as a filling.  Cover pudding with rainbow sprinkles, and stack second cake over top.

To prepare the frosting, you need to empty vanilla frosting into a bowl, and drop a few drops of food coloring in and mix JUST enough to see some streaks.  Go easy here, you don't want a brown sloppy mess.  A few drops of two to three colors (I recommend primary colors) is all you need.

This is after gently mixing a few drops of yellow, blue and red.

Remember, you will be spreading this frosting and the colors will blend more.

Frost the cake.  For sprinkles, you'll have to hold cake plate on an angle and pour rainbow sprinkles along sides, catching excess in a bowl or pan underneath as you turn cake.  You can reuse the sprinkles until the sides of cake are covered in colorful, child pleasing sprinkles.

Voila.  A delightfully colorful tie dye sprinkle cake that is guaranteed to excite munchkins everywhere.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 26, 2013

From the NFL to Youth Football, it's All About Player Safety

       “I have two boys and they both play football.  Both my father and my brothers played the game, so I was fortunate to grow up around the sport and can appreciate the many great life skills it teaches.” 

Charlotte Jones Anderson, Executive Vice President of the Dallas Cowboys, Chairman, NFL Foundation; parent of three athletes

When I read this quote I thought, That is my life.  I know exactly what she's talking about.   Both my boys play football. Growing up my four brothers played football.  My dad coached my brothers and my husband coaches our sons.

I've loved football my entire life.  In fact, during football season football is life.

Football has taught my boys many life skills.  They've learned dedication, work ethic, how to play as a team and the importance of being ON TIME.  I'll bet the farm that if you had to run laps when you're late for work you wouldn't be late for work.

Harsh yes, but it works.  

I've met many parents on my parenting journey who have questioned how safe football is for kids, and they wonder if I worry about my kids playing football.  I can say with all honesty that there have been plenty of games when my stomach was in knots as soon as I saw the size of the kids on the other team.

Or more importantly, the size of the kid lining up against my kid on the field.

I'm blessed to have my husband involved in coaching football because he's attended many clinics on player safety, and he knows the proper techniques for blocking, tackling and simply playing.  He's able to reassure me when I'm nervous about a game, and he's able to educate players to keep them healthy and safe.  He knows how to spot a concussion, and every team he's ever coached starts with players in shirts and shorts.

After a few practices they add a helmet, and then pads.  The coaches ease the boys into their season and this enables the kids to learn where to run, how to tackle, and where exactly the ball is supposed to go.
All of these keep the players safe because there is no better way to get run over on a football field than to be standing there with no clue on what is going on.

I'll take this opportunity to add that knowing the game is essential to safety and while it may be annoying to get to three, four, sometimes five practices a week, it's important.  When parents sign their boys up for football, they need to understand they are signing up for late nights on the field, away games, and mud practices.  It's all part of the deal.  All of the practice time teaches players the game and the positions, and without it, kids are more likely to be injured.

I feel blessed that my boys are participating at a time when player safety and youth concussion laws are in place.  When my brothers played there was not as much awareness as there is now.  Heads Up Football, the NFL, and USA Football are educating youth football leagues across the country on proper tackling techniques.  Proper tackling prevents unnecessary injuries and keeps players healthy.  The NFL has also advocated for the passage of youth concussion laws in every state, hoping to protect youth athletes and ensure they get proper medical care. As a result, nearly every state in the country now has a youth concussion law.   

With boys all over the country suiting up for their football season, this is very good news for players and parents.  

As a veteran football mom, I have a few safety tips for parents who are new to parenting a football player:

1.  Prepare your kids.  Remind them to pay attention to their coaches and to work hard.  Football is not for the faint of heart.  Everyone hates the first few weeks of practice, it's a shock to the system after all that summer fun in the pool.  Tell your kids to work through it, they'll be glad they did.

2.  When the equipment comes home, have your son wear his helmet in the house.  I always had my boys sit and watch their television programs with that bad boy on their head.  If there is one piece of equipment that takes some getting used to, it's a helmet.

3.  Make sure their equipment fits well and is worn properly.

4.  Know the signs of a concussion, and remember you're better safe than sorry.  It never hurts to visit the pediatrician.

5.  Get to practice early.  There's nothing worse than showing up to practice late and having to throw equipment on and get going.  If your player is early, he's able to warm up and be with his team before that whistle blows.

Last but not least, bring plenty of water and make sure your son stays hydrated.  On those hot August afternoons, you may want to pack a cooler with drinks and a cold towel for your son to keep cool.  

Wishing every player a healthy and productive football season.  Remember to have fun, and play hard!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Save with Target Cartwheel

Years ago, I discovered an app called "Target Cartwheel."  I stumbled upon it somehow, like everything else in life.

This year, Target combined the Cartwheel app with its Target mobile app.  Truthfully, while it was frustrating master a new app, it made sense.  The app is fairly simple, although it did take me a good few minutes to get going.  Okay a few good days.

Basically, the Cartwheel app is just a place chock full of mobile coupons.  You can browse the categories, which are fairly descriptive, and select offers such as 5% off bagged apples, or 15% off Cherokee tops for boys.

When you choose an offer it goes into your "Cartwheel."  Think of a cart full of offers. There us a "scanner" in the app, and if you scan a barcode it will tell you if there is an offer available.  This includes coupons.  These offers are added to your cart, or "wallet."

You get so many "slots" to put your offers in, and as you continue to use Cartwheel you can open up more slots to save.  The more you save the more offers you can choose.  When you go to the check out, the cashier scans the "wallet" on your phone to apply your savings and discounts to whatever you bought.

When you download the app, the only areas you need to pay attention to are the scanner, the Cartwheel option and the Wallet.

The scanner will scan items and look for deals, they will be added to your Cartwheel if there are any.  The Cartwheel option will enable you to browse categories for deals, and the wallet on the bottom is where you find your barcode to scan at checkout.

Cartwheel offers aren't going to save you hundreds in a month, but a few dollars every time you shop will add up.  I promise.  I saved over $170 in my first five months of using the app. There are great offers if you pay attention - I scored Halloween costumes at 50% off last year.  BEFORE Halloween.  Cartwheel had a two day offer running and I took major advantage.  The app has become a "see how much I can save with Cartwheel" game.  To date?  Three years after download?  Over $1200!

For the record Target has no idea who I am.  Well, the local Target does because I'm there every day.  I'm just saying that I shared this because I love to save.

And I know you do too.  Try the Cartwheel app and let me know what you think!

Check out my post "Save BIG at Target" for even more moneysaving tips!

Accomplishing Things (For Now)

In case you missed it, yesterday was back to school for us.  Don't be fooled by this pose-y, smiley picture, the one in all black tried to make a run for it the second the bus was in view.

I only have photo evidence of two of my four cherubs on their first day back.  My oldest would have died a thousand deaths if I pulled this on him before loading the Jr/Sr High bus, and he was barely functioning anyhow.  My youngest will get it, but she starts in another week.

I promise I will stop talking about back to school after I share everything I accomplished between 8am and 3pm.  It's just too exciting.

1. Breakfast with a friend
2. Return at Target
3. Shopping at Target using coupons effectively.
4. Left Target with EVERYTHING I needed.
5. De-spidered front porch, including web removal with a broom.  For the record these spiders out here in the country are no joke.  Oh my word I would lose a year off my life if one of those gigantic monster web spinners landed on me.

Moving on...
6. Scrubbed front porch and front door area.
7. Laundry in
8. Laundry out
9. Kitchen picked up
10. Was on time, with gymnastics practice snack prepared and ready, when I picked up kids from school.

If you're wondering what the obsession is with the front porch, its because we actually use it now that we have a bus to catch.  And school was scary enough without the superhuman Arachnoids all up in our space.

Have a fab weekend.  I know my kids are already happy its Friday, and they've only been back to school a day.  What can I say, my kids love sleep.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Award Winning Back to School Video

This time, I really outdid myself. 

Please, enjoy.  I am no movie maker, but I was pretty proud of this one.

For the record, this house is almost too quiet.  Almost.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chapter 2: Deviation to the Birthing Plan + a Giveaway!

Life is a roller coaster.  Having a baby is a roller coaster on hormones.  Both roller coasters can never be planned for accordingly, because you never know what is around the bend.  
I learned this seven years ago when our third baby was born.  
With my second baby, our daughter, I was blessed to experience a water birth at our local hospital.  It was a heavenly experience (as far as labors go) and I was excited to have the same experience with my third child.  Along with planning my water birth, I again decided I wanted to know the sex of my baby.  With babies, I don’t fly by the seat of my pants.  I need to shop and wash newborn sleepers.  I need to organize and have everything in place well before the baby comes home.  It’s like therapy.  
At 18 weeks, the ultrasound technician told us we were having another girl.  By my third trimester, I had stacks of newborn sleepers and new crib bedding.  I redid our daughter’s bedroom for her and her new sister. We had a name (Ella) and a new pink patchwork car seat.  I was fully prepared, with everything in place.  There was nothing to do when my baby came home other than be a mommy.
At exactly 37 weeks, I awoke around 1am.  I had terrible pain in my stomach.  The pain was different from labor pains; it was strong and intense.  My labors were quick with my first two munchkins, but they always began with gradual pain which then progressed quickly.  This didn’t feel like labor, more like Samurai knife torture right through the middle of my pregnant gut.
I tried to walk it off, but it got worse.  I did the three things every pregnant woman is supposed to do when she isn’t sure if the contractions (or gut wrenching knife pain) are real; I walked, drank water and went to the bathroom.  
Thirty minutes later I woke my Hubby.  The pain was now excruciating.  My exact words to him were, "I don't think I'm in labor.  But something is wrong.  We have to go to the hospital."

Hubby called our friend to stay with our two sleeping children, and then we called my parents and my midwife.  By the time we were leaving, about ten minutes later (this is 1 hour after my first pain woke me), I could barely stand.  The pain in my stomach was so intense I felt like I was being ripped apart.  There were small breaks for me to breathe, but labor had contractions with minutes in between.  Not seconds.  
The hospital was thirty minutes away.  Hubby drove in silence and I breathed.  About five minutes from our house was a small local hospital.  We were driving past it when Hubby looked over at me in the dark.  "Do you want me to pull in?"

I was silent.  I was in pain.  I couldn't speak.

"Jodie! Do you want me to pull in?"

I whispered yes.  The stabbing pains were agonizing.  As we were about to pull into the parking lot, I had an ounce of relief.  I thought about my midwife, whom I adored.  I thought about my planned water birth.  I began to shake my head, " driving...I can make it...."

"Are you sure?" Hubby hid his panic well.

"Yes. Get on the highway."  Hubby did as I asked.  The highway to the hospital only had exits every few miles, and we were in a rural area.

Only five minutes in, I felt pressure.  I felt the baby's head.  I began to cry. 

Hubby looked at me and he knew we were in trouble.  The highway was black; no one for miles.  I whimpered to him, "You have to call 911. The baby is coming.  You have to call 911."

This is where Hubby amazed me.  There was no hesitation.  I waited for an "Are you serious?" but there was none.  He called 911 and kept his composure. He will never know how much gratitude I felt for his moment of composure.

As Hubby dialed 911, I sat in silence. I breathed.  My water hadn't broken.  I felt pressure, but we had time.  I rocked in my seat, I have time...I have time...  the words soothed me as I said them in my head.

Hubby told the 911 operator he was pulling off exit 12.  Exit 12 was a mile away, and there was a State Police Barracks there.  The operator assured us a police officer would meet us outside.  For the first time since I woke up in pain, I felt like we were going to be alright.
But as Hubby pulled off the exit, there was splash of warmth down my legs.  My water broke.  I started to break down, yelling and crying.  I was panicked and afraid.  We were out of time.

Hubby pulled into the State Police Barracks seconds later.  He threw the car in park.  Three things then happened simultaneously; I heard Hubby tell the 911 Operator "There's no one here!  There's no one here!” he ran around to my side of the car, and I threw my seat in recline.  By the time Hubby opened my door I was pushing.  
On that cold October night, we were alone and Hubby was ready to deliver our baby.  I most certainly, in all my planning and birth preparations, did not plan for this.

The operator talked Hubby through the mechanics of delivery.  I don't remember any of it except him removing his sweatshirt to wrap our newborn in.  I went from sheer panic and fear, to nothing except my desire to push.  I pushed my baby into this world with such determination I remember nothing other than my focus.

After three pushes our baby was born.  In the front seat of our minivan Hubby caught our baby and untangled the cord from its neck.  I remember relief, just relief from the agonizing, gut wrenching intense pain.  I laid back and relished that moment of relief.  
Somewhere through my cloud of what the heck just happened to me? I heard my Hubby, "Holy sh*# Jodie, it's a BOY!" 

I knew I was supposed to be shocked and amazed, but at that moment it could have been a puppy and I wouldn't have cared.  There was so much for me to take in I couldn't absorb it.  Hubby wrapped the tiny precious person in his sweatshirt and placed him in my arms.  I sat in the front seat of my car, in the middle of nowhere, staring at my new baby.  After a few wails to let us know he was alright, he slept quietly in my arms.

Two policemen may have caught the end of my delivery, but I couldn't have cared less about the peep show with all the pain I was in.  An EMT arrived minutes after them and they stayed with us and monitored our vitals.  I just sat, in shock, holding my new munchkin.  My BOY munchkin.

When we were loaded into the ambulance, I was euphoric and eternally grateful as the reality of what just happened began to set in.  At only 5lbs 13oz, born with the cord wrapped around his neck in the front seat of the car, my baby was healthy.

The aftermath of the birth was the front seat of our car being destroyed (ever seen red jello?) and we now had an abundance of baby girl attire to return.  We also had no name for our new baby.  After a night of thinking about our new son and what to name him, Hubby decided we should name him after where he was born.
It wasn’t my first choice, but neither was having my son in the car.  I decided it was time to start making concessions.

Looking back, the whole experience is still very surreal.  Aside from my memories and our 911 recording, we have a birth certificate that states "Parking Lot" as place of birth.  We don't have any video other than a few minutes of me holding our son in the front seat of the car.  We don't even have an accurate birth time.  No amount of planning or preparation could have prepared me for how I delivered him, or discovering “she” was a “he.”  
Miraculously, even without a prepared bedroom and pre-washed wardrobe, I had a baby.  And he was perfect.  Thanks to grandma, he even went home dressed as a boy in a boy car seat.   
Life has a way of surprising us, but it also has a way of making everything work out.  We just need to be ready for surprises and remember to enjoy the ride. 

My birthing plan story is Chapter 2 in the MAM Blogger Real Parenting Guide. I encourage you to read other chapters and find out more about all the stuff, like the bottles, pacifiers and teethers that MAM makes to make the job of parenting easier. 


Want to win a $100 Babies “R” Us gift card?


Leave a comment below answering the following question: “What’s the funniest thing you or someone you know said while in labor?”


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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Truth (in my house) About Back to School

As a mom, I'm not a huge lover of back to school time.  Well, I am and I'm not.  As a kid I loved back to school.  I can still see my nine year old self shopping with my mom at the local pharmacy for back to school supplies.

I used to browse the aisles for what seemed like hours putting together the perfect back to school look.  Pencils and notebooks, folders and erasers.  It all had to coordinate and I loved the new-ness of it all.

It even smelled good, and I'm now realizing I was a total and complete school dork.  I loved school.  The truth is out.

As a mom,  I have to fund these back to school shopping extravaganzas.  I also have to start packing lunches again and enforce bedtimes.  I have to get up and be productive before 8am. 

And the worst?

Homework help.  Someone punch me now.

There is however, one HUGE reason I'm good with back to school season.  It's called sanity.  By this time in the summer, when camps are long over and swimming is "boring," the mood starts to shift in our house. 

The squabbles increase.

The mom freak-outs average about one a day.

The outdoors become a chore and pulling my kids from the Full House re-runs becomes exhausting. 

When I offer up swimming and my kids moan and groan, I know we've got problems.  And it's called too much summer.

This is what too much summer looks like:
Oh my, it's frightening.

Lunch sacks and homework folders are a small price to pay to regain the happy harmony in our home.  You can bet your buttons this Mama will be up and ready for that big yellow bus this Thursday.

Happy (almost) back to school.  Hang in.  It's almost here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

IPhone Photos

In no particular order, this is what's been going on around here.  According to my iPhone anyway.

A few weekends ago, we went out on our friends' boat.  My kids went tubing.  The first time they ever did this, me and my suburban upbringing died a thousand deaths.  Now, I just freak every few minutes and drive everyone in the boat crazy.

This is the munchkins on a HUGE rock at a semi-local playground.  The rock is fake, and it's meant for climbing.

My daughter refers to it as "the BIG rock." 

"Can we go climb the big rock?"

Yes.  DON'T fall.  Please.

I went to the store last week and left my twelve year old in charge for thirty minutes.  When I came home my seven year old had a mustache courtesy of my ten year old.

You follow?

This apparently was a warmup, because the next night they drew in armpit hair, chest hair and a goatee. 

All I can say is, whatevs.  And when does school start again?
On Tuesdays, when my older daughter has gymnastics, I drive the carpool.  Practices are four hours long, so I always treat my baby to Subway.  It's our weekly date.  This is us right before we enjoyed oven roasted chicken and a few of the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet.
This is my niece's stuffed animal thing that plays music.  We were all at my parents' over the weekend for a birthday celebration, and my family was the last to leave Sunday.  As we were leaving, my daughters found this.  I texted the picture to my sister-in-law with something like, "This gonna be a problem tonight?"
She responded that she was going to kill my brother because it was his job to find that bring that home.

We're all so different, but truly, so alike.

Happy happy Monday.  Make it awesome.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Dog Days of Summer

I posted this picture on my Instagram yesterday.  This picture makes me happy, and encapsulates how the end of our summer is shaping up.

Lazy and slow, which is exactly how we, and the dog, like it.

Happy Friday!  Enjoy the weekend! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Counting Down.

In two weeks, for the first time in 12 years (yes, 12) I will be a semi-free woman.  My youngest is going to preschool five mornings a week from 8:30 to 11:15.

In case you missed it, I'll say it again.

FIVE mornings.

Let me list the things I will now be able to do because I'll have approximately fifteen hours a week to myself:

1.  Run at a time OTHER than 6:30am.
2. Use coupons and shopping lists accordingly.
3. Talk on the phone.
4. Go to the dentist without a child in my lap.
5. Have my hair cut and colored more than once every six to seven months.
6. A manicure maybe?  A pedicure? Oh heavenly nail polish.
7. CLEAN.  Maybe not.
8. Volunteer in the classroom without a sidekick.
9. Christmas and birthday shop without hiding purchases under the cart. 
10. Not hand out snacks every fifteen minutes.

And number eleven:


To all the moms wiping boogies and lugging carseats into stores, it gets better.  The time goes fast, even though the days sometime seem like they are crawling by.  I will be shopping without toddler commentary for the first time in over a decade.  It's tough to believe but it's true. 

I've been waiting a long time to just get out of the car and go into a store.  No snacks, juice, wipes or carseat strapping needed.

I can't believe its almost here.

I do love my kids, and I'll miss my little shopping buddy.  But I can say with confidence, I'm ready to think uninterrupted for a portion of my week.


Monday, August 12, 2013

The Bandit Racer

For years I've "competed" in races.  I'm using quotations around "compete" because I give no one competition.  I'm more of a jogger, kind of listening to my music and blocking out the world around me.  I've given up wearing electronics that show me what my pace is, and I no longer time my runs.

I found all of this training to run faster was zapping me of my love for running.  Why do I have to run fast?  I just want a good sweat and some mental clarity.

These can be achieved at a nine minute mile pace. 

This past weekend was another race my family decided to sign up for.  We already ran a 5 miler in July, and we had discussed participating in the 5K (3.1 miles) this weekend.  At first I was going to sign up my whole clan again (all of us except my 4 year old), but it was $30/person.

Which quickly translated to $150 for my family to not win anything and burn some calories.  I decided the girls would sit this race out.  My daughter practices gymnastics 15 hours a week, and I didn't need to pay $30 to get some exercise.

And then it hit me.  I didn't need to pay $30 to get some exercise.

I decided to go at it "bandit" style.

Now, because I am a "rule follower" and I'm always on the tail end of getting the joke, I've never done this.  I've never even contemplated it.  I didn't even know there was "name" for it.  But Saturday, with no official racing bib, I got right in there alongside my sister.

I jogged my little heart out, in the back of the pack with all the other casual racers.   Before all the serious racers get their panties in a twist about my "bandit" scheme, I did pay $90 for my three boys to run for real.  And all they got was a tee shirt because only the top 300 runners got the cool Adidas bag.

Kudos to my brother, who is as handsome as he is fit, and he went home with a black and neon green Adidas bag. 

I don't think I'll ever run "bandit" again, because I do love to take part in racing events and support their charities and organizations.  But Saturday, I was a racing rebel.

Who ever knew I had it in me.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

To All the Football Parents...

For me, there is something different about August nights. The weather is waffling between summer and fall, the days get a little bit shorter, and weeknights are spent on the football practice fields.

As long as I can remember, August meant football season was around the corner.  My dad ran the junior football league when I was growing up, and my boys both play today.  August, for us, means equipment handouts, cleats in the kitchen and showers before bed.

It means quick dinners because practice starts at 6pm.

It means that just about everything, until the end of October, is about football.

My love for football runs deep, because it's all I've ever known this time of year.  Football has a way of shaping kids, of teaching them discipline and how to work hard.  These boys give up playdates, time in the pool and time on their game consoles to be on that field.   Their parents devote many hours to driving them to practice and they plan vacations around when their boys have to lace up those cleats.

And coaches, well they work harder than many parents will ever know, unless of course you are a coach.

Or married to one.

Football, is truly a state of mind.  And I'm a firm believer that while it's one of my favorite sports, it isn't for everyone.

You need to love it, because wearing full equipment in the hot August sun is pretty darn uncomfortable.  So is getting drilled in practice. 

Tonight, as I sat in my folding chair alongside all the other parents, and my girls played in the fields with all the other siblings, I realized that we are back to that time of year.

And suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Each year we return to the football fields another year older. 

As tough as some days might seem running to practice and hunting through the house in search of game pants, this is my time with my kids.  My time to pack snacks and coolers.  My time to spray them with bug spray and discuss positions and how practice went.

My time.

And it goes by very, very fast.

Happy football season to all the football parents out there, and I'm sending you all a very important reminder.

Enjoy every minute, and remember they are still kids.  Winning is important, but it isn't everything.  No crushing tiny spirits, just opponents.  Every kid should feel proud to be on that field, because it takes a team to succeed.

Not one player.

At the end of the day, if the kid is putting in the work, that's all that matters.  The rest is just the icing on the playoffs cake.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Five Wednesday Things

1.  My computer, which probably needs updates and some heavy memory cleaning, is starting to agitate me.  It croaks along, making anything that needs to be done quickly virtually impossible. 

Serenity now.

2.  I woke up at 4am, for no reason what-so-ever.  I flipped my pillow to the cold side about ten times, I checked my phone, I forced my eyes closed and thought of unicorns and rainbows. 

At 6am I decided to just get the heck up and go for a run.  I'm glad I did.

3.  This weather is agitating me, just like my computer.  August is supposed to be hot and sunny.  This cold brisk air and sweatshirts at night is for the birds.  We only get so many months of warm sunshine, and I feel like I'm being robbed.

I freeze all winter.  Please, I beg you weather radar, not here, not now. 

4.  Yesterday I went to the pool store because my pool filter was not behaving.  As a first time pool owner, I am a work in progress.  I continue to fall more in love with my pool store because after a small troubleshoot, they walked me through backwashing and rinsing and recirculating and basically tuning up my filtration system.  Now, it is filtering beautifully.

I love learning new things.  It never gets old.

5.  School starts in 15 days.  I have to keep reminding myself, because I'm known for being surprised the day before school starts that school is starting the next day.

I have nightmares about missing school buses and ill-prepared munchkins who have no No. 2 pencils and bright shiny new folders for "Go Home" papers.

Oh the agony. 

Signing off, and making appointments for things like the dentist because school starts in 15 days.

15 days.

Yes brain, 15 days.  

Happy Trails, and Happy Wednesday.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Parenting Styles

I am not an entertainer when it comes to my munchkins.  I'll have a catch, play a few games and read books.  But most of the day, I'm more of a "find something to do that doesn't involve video games, television or me" mom. 

This is serious truth-telling.

There have been times I've sent my kids on playdates, and the mother has organized activities planned.  Stuff like crafts and games.  The playdate is supervised and "run" by the mom.  One mother I knew in New York used to rotate playdates for her kids; they took turns.  She put so much work into a playdate that she could only have so many every month. 

If I called and it wasn't her child's "turn" for a friend, there was serious thinking involved.

While I'm not knocking this mom, because she was super awesome, that is just SO MUCH WORK.  My style is more laid back, more "let me know when you need me I'll be in the laundry dungeon" kind of thing.

I spring to action for the 3 "S's": Snacks, Screams and Squabbles.

My way of parental involvement is geared toward life skills, such as involving my kids in folding and bathroom cleaning.  We pull weeds and load drinks into the fridge. 

I consider myself the "site manager."

I have a very goal oriented mind.  And if I need to get things done, I need to get things done.  If my kids need something to do, they are more than welcome to jump in.  The water is always warm.  Hence, the most dangerous two words in my house are "I'm Bored."  They will win you reading time, chores or a position as my assistant for whatever it is I'm currently doing.

I do feel the need to stipulate that I do treat my kids to parks and movies and the mall.  We go swimming and go for walks.  I'll help them make obstacle courses and teach them games I used to play.  They are not ignored and they are disciplined quite frequently.

Most importantly, we talk

But playdates?  And downtime at home?  You're on your own.  Call me when someone is screaming, squabbling or in need of a snack.  With four kids in the house, there is always someone to play with when you need a friend. 

If you want a friend over, even better.  No daily prep or organization required.  In my house, it's called GO PLAY.  I'll supervise, I'll listen and I'll watch.  But entertainment is not my thing. 

Just remember this house is not a free-for-all.  Good behavior is expected, and trust me, I know when you're not behaving.  And if I don't know, I will find out from one of the other munchkins in the house.

I'm wondering, what's your parenting style? 

Friday, August 2, 2013

My Favorite (Random) Household Tips

I'm starting to feel like a Pinterest spokesperson.  Pinterest is my "go-to" for the best tips, recipes, decorating ideas and useless information.

It's addicting, and lately I'm very selective about pins I like and pins I actually "pin,"  like some kind of Pinterest snob.

Here, are some of my favorite "Household Tips" from Pinterest.  Some of them, like the dry erase marker on the washer, are perfect for my house.  Just last trip down the beach I shrunk my sister-in-law's brand new crochet sweater to the size of a babydoll dress.

It happens.  Often.

1.  Wrinkly clothes?  Toss them in the dryer with a few ice cubes for five minutes.

2.  A hot spoon on a mosquito bite stops the reaction, and the itch.

3. Make a homemade ice pack: 1 part rubbing alcohol to 3 parts water, gets really cold, but never hardens so you can manipulate it.  

4. Glue a magnetic strip inside a drawer to hold your bobby pins.

5. Have an item that can't be dried in the washer (like a crochet sweater that isn't yours)?  Keep a dry erase marker with your laundry detergent and write on the washing machine item that needs to be removed before drying.

6. Put your pancake mix in a squeeze more messy ladles.

7. Heal paper cuts and stop the sting with chapstick.

8.  Line a paint tray with a plastic more washing messy paint!

9. Use cupcake liners under Popsicle (poke stick through) for little ones.  No more sticky hands.

10.Toothpaste has many powers.  Use it to remove crayon marks from a wall, whiten the soles of your sneakers and deodorize your hands (ever cut an onion?)

On another note, have a fab Friday.  The weekend, my friends, is upon us!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hello Again, You Silly Old Bear

As a mama to four munchkins, I've seen my share of cartoons.  We've gone to the theater, bought DVDs and watched hundreds on television.  Of all the bajillion cartoons my eyeballs have (and haven't enjoyed), I hold a few very close to my heart.

Like old friends.

My oldest son, who is now twelve, was always a fan of Winnie the Pooh.  I remember him sitting in his footie pajamas, fresh from a bath, watching Pooh before bed.  He was about two years old, and those were the days of 7pm bedtimes. 

On a rainy afternoon he could sit for hours, watching the movie over and over and over again.

"Up, down, touch the ground...think of things to do....a happy, healthy appetite makes a happy healthy Pooh..."

Excuse me while I sniffle and tear up, is my son really twelve?

I'm very excited that through BlogHer, I was able to receive a copy of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  A movie I used to enjoy with my first child I was now able to enjoy with my youngest baby.

Any mom of more than one munchkin knows how fast DVDs disappear, and our Winnie the Pooh movies have walked off over the years.  And with the craziness of raising four kids, my youngest watches whatever is available whenever there is an open television.

We don't get to settle in and enjoy many classic movies such as Winnie the Pooh.  Watching the movie brought me back to my days of early mommyhood, and I immediately remembered why I loved the movie so much.  The tone of the movie is quiet and soothing, and the messages about friendship are unparalleled.  I am convinced that once you love Pooh and friends, you love them forever.

As I write this, all four of my kids are squeezing in one more viewing before I send back my copy.  They are snuggled in together, giggling and enjoying a few more minutes in the Hundred Acre Woods.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Much to my delight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is going to be available for the first time on Blu-ray combo pack and HD Digital on August 27th.  For more information you can follow Winnie the Pooh on Facebook or check out Disney's website to watch the trailer and pre-order your copy.  I know I'll be buying our family one, because this is one movie my munchkins never tire of.   I must admit, I don't either.

As Tigger would say, "TTFN...Ta Ta For Now!"


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