Wordless Wednesday: Nighty Night

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

For more Wordless Wednesdays, click here.

Tackle It Tuesday: The Playroom

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Every week, 5 Minutes for Mom hosts Tackle It Tuesday, an opportunity to showcase a completed project or task. I've participated on several other occasions, and with my recent tackle, I wanted to share my accomplishment.

Ahhhh, the dreaded playroom cleanup. Always monumental. Always time consuming. This time was no exception.

Here's what I was up against.

I told you it was monumental. Can you believe that mess?

After hours and hours of organizing, purging, re-arranging, scouring, mopping, hair-pulling, ibuprofen-popping, here's the end result.

There's more.

The shelves are homemade, and I must give credit to my sister Brenda for the fabulous idea. She suggested that I buy cinder blocks and plywood for low-standing shelves. What a great idea! I was able to control the height and the length of the shelves. I didn't want them too high as I have a 4 year old. The low-standing shelves will promote independence since she's able to select her own toys.

Best part? The kids are loving their new playroom. They spend so much more time in there, and surprisingly, are cleaning up after themselves. I love it, and they do, too!

To check out some other fabulous tackles or link up one of your own, click here.

Tropicana Juicy Rewards Program

Monday, March 29, 2010
Do you buy Tropicana products? Are you aware of their Juicy Rewards Program? Tropicana is my brand of choice for orange juice. Over the past several months, I've seen the Juicy Rewards Program advertised on the cartons but only recently looked into it and how it can benefit me.

The rewards program works like this:
You earn rewards points for buying cartons of Tropicana juices. Each lid has a 10 digit unique code printed on the underside. First, you must register (no charge)  at Tropicana Juicy Rewards.

After registration, you can begin to enter your codes, and once the codes are entered, your Juicy Insider account is credited with the number of points for that product. To enter codes, you can either text the code to TROPOJ (876765) or you can enter it at the Tropicana Juicy Rewards Web site.

Rewards include free games of bowling, discounted admission to zoos, museums and attractions, coupons for a percentage off your purchase for national retailers such as Adidas, Coleman, and Harrahs Resorts, or you can donate rewards points to save a rainforest. To view a list of participating rewards in your area, click here.

What are you waiting for? You're going to buy the orange juice anyway. Why not get something more than a delicious beverage out of it?

What I'm Crushing on This Week: Paris, A City Revealed

Sunday, March 28, 2010
You know how I looooove to browse bookstores. Could spend all day in one. I especially love vintage book stores and the quaint ones you find tucked away in a city. Being that I'm not a city dweller, I have to be content with browsing my local Barnes and Noble or Borders. Yesterday, I did just that.

I have a love affair with Paris which began on my first trip there in the early 90's. If you've ever been there, I'm sure you can understand why I love it so. Everything about the city appeals to me, the history, the architecture, the adundance of culture, the pastries, the bread, the wine. I must have been a Parisian in a former life.

When I spied this book from across the store, at least 100 feet away, I just knew I had to have it.

Paris: A City Revealed by Mike Gerrard and Donna Dailey

Discover Paris with "Paris: A City Revealed". From the islands where it all began to its outer limits, this book records and celebrates the famous city with photographs of the unique buildings, museums, landmarks and citizens, illustrating just what it is that makes Paris so romantic and stylish. The book is divided into ten regional sections based on the arrondissements and special fold-out sections make the most of the fabulous images. Know somone with a love of Paris? This would make the perfect gift.

I've fallen in love with Paris all over again!

Healthful snack options for kids

Friday, March 26, 2010
A few days ago I posted here about sub-standard school nutrition and the need for the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. In light of that post, I wanted to offer some healthy snack suggestions that are perfect for kids and equally suitable for adults too.
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup mashed bananas or berries with low-fat plain yogurt
1 baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon
one  8-ounce fruit smoothie
1/2 cup dried raisins, craisins or apricots*

1/2 cup sliced red peppers, baby carrots or cucumbers served with low-fat ranch dressing for dipping*
1 small sweet potato topped with 1 tbl. butter blend
1/4 cup mashed or sliced avocado served with baked tortilla chips
1/4 cup tomato sauce with 1/2 whole-wheat penne pasta

3 thin turkey slices
3 tablespoons of hummus on 1 slice of whole-grain bread or 1/2 whole-grain English muffin
2 tablespoons of peanut butter spread on 1/2 an apple, sliced
2 tablespoons of peanut butter spread on 1/2 whole-grain English muffin sprinkled with flax seeds

one 8-ounce glass of 1% milk (whole milk for children under 2)
1/3 cup low-fat cheddar cheese, sliced
1 cup low-fat fruit yogurt
1 cup milk shake made with low-fat or fat free frozen yogurt
1 part-skim mozzarella stick

1 cup whole-grain pretzels*
3 cups air-popped popcorn, lightly salted (if needed)*
1 slice whole-wheat toast lightly spread with peanut butter
1 slice whole-grain cinnamon toast, lightly spread with butter blend
1 cup whole-grain cereal, such as Cheerios or Wheat Chex

* Do not give to children under 3 due to the risk of choking.

Time Out for Theta Mom Thursday: A Date

Thursday, March 25, 2010
The goal of Theta Mom Thursday is to carve out one hour a month for yourself...without the kids!! Sounds easier than it actually is, but I'm up for the challenge, and so I'll be participating with other fantastic moms each month. Wanna join us? Click here for all the details!

After months of planning unsuccessfully, my husband and I were finally able to have a greatly needed and anxiously anticipated date. My daughters unexpectedly begged to stay overnight at my niece's house. Who was I to deprive them? I grabbed my Blackberry and called my niece to set the plans in motion.

After dropping the girls off with my niece, I was left wondering, "What now?". I have to admit, I'm a fish out of water without at least one of my children with me. It's an odd feeling at first. Because I am constantly catering to their needs and wants, I forget about my own. I forget who I am as a person when I am not in mothering mode. I quickly rectified that by stopping at Home Goods and shopping for some fun housewares. I spent 3 wonderful hours browsing slowly over the many fantastic items. I NEVER get to meander like that when the girls are with me. As I always say, "Shopping isn't shopping with children. It's popping. Popping in and out of stores."

After my shopping excursion, I headed home to find my husband ready to go out for dinner. I had no expectations of our night alone. I was thinking a casual night at home with some take out and wine. Imagine my surprise, when he told me to get dressed for a night out!

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were told the wait would be at least 90 minutes. We looked at each other hesitantly. Oh what the heck. We're in no rush. We decide to wait it out. It was, after all, our favorite place. For the next hour or so, we sat at the bar and chatted over cocktails...just like old times. It was so enjoyable to connect with each other on that level again. To catch up, to laugh, and to see each other as individuals rather than extensions of our children.

Our evening continued with our lingering over dinner, wine, and cappuccinos. I can't tell you how great it felt to enjoy a leisurely evening. It was so nice not to rush our dinner. So nice not to cut someone's dinner into little pieces. So nice not to have a table full of crumpled up baby wipes, broken crayons, and crushed goldfish crackers.

We are plotting our next night out...hopefully it won't take 4 months to make it a reality!

To see how I spent my Time Out last month, click here.

Sahale Snacks: my new favorite munchie

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I've been going in and out of Starbucks for weeks admiring these tasty looking and sounding snacks. Have you seen them? I've been saying, "One of these days, I'm going to pick up a bag of those and give them a try." Yesterday, I finally took the plunge. Since it was free pastry day, I opted to spend the money that I'd saved on a pastry on a bag of Sahale Snacks.

I was not disappointed! The Soledad is a combination of almonds, flax seeds, apples, balsamic vinegar and cayenne pepper. Delicious! I also wanted to try the Barbecue, chipoltle and ranch almonds. Equally as delicious. They were a little pricey at $2.50 per 2 oz. bag, but worth the splurge. Best part? The kids love them too! They are eating almonds, apples and flax seeds and not complaining about it. I LOVE IT! Go get yourself a bag!


Innovative refrigerator magnets

Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I can remember as a child finding a plethora of creative uses for chewing gum that had been chewed. We never knew when the time would come when our parents would allow us another piece of gum. We used every trick to hang on to the gum, flavorful or not.

But this one had never occurred to me. They are plastic refrigerator magnets that look like a piece of chewed gum. Interesting to say the least.

They might work for someone on your list. Possibly something to discuss while lingering over cocktails in the kitchen. If you're really in the mood for some creative fun, don't limit their placement to the refrigerator only! They can be purchased here.

Post-It Note Tuesday: my first

I've been reading Supah Mommy's Post It Note Tuesday for the past two weeks. I've wanted to participate last week, but time escaped me. I never got around to creating my notes, posting, and linking up. I've waited anxiously all week to link up.

Please go over to Adventures of a Supah Mommy's site and check her out, and don't forget, while you're there, visit some of my fellow Post It Note Tuesday participants. They are fun reads!!


Improving school nutrition

Monday, March 22, 2010
Did you happen to catch last night's special, Food Revolution, on ABC featuring Jamie Oliver? Jamie was in Huntington, West Virginia which has been named the most unhealthy city in the US, and WV is the most unhealthy state in the US. Jamie's mission was to witness the school nutrition system and to implement positive changes. Jamie's goal is to change the eating habits of children at the school level where they spend much of their day in hopes of those habits carrying over into young adulthood and beyond.

What I saw over the course of the 60-minute show absolutely amazed me. The foods prepared by the school were primarily processed foods. Very little whole foods were served. The nutritional guidelines handed down by the state of WV were mind-boggling. The schools are required to serve 2 servings of grains. Pizza crust and the breading on the chicken nuggests met the standards for the 2 servings of grains. Unbelievable to me.

I can remember when Emma started kindergarten two years ago. Her teacher told us that the school was no longer permitted to serve maple syrup during breakfast because it contained too much sugar. Meanwhile, there were hot dogs, popcorn chicken and submarine sandwiches on the menu. It didn't make sense. I've spent two years trying to understand the guidelines and what constitutes a healthy school lunch.

School food advocates have been eagerly awaiting action from the Senate on the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, legislation that determines school food policy and resources for the next five years. This week, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chair of the Agricultural Committee, issued her proposal. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 includes many excellent policy provisions allowing the USDA to set improved national nutrition standards for school meals and calling for a ban on the sale of junk food in schools -- but the proposed funding in this bill is simply not enough.

Sen. Lincoln’s proposal calls for a spending increase of $450 million per year over the next ten years, only 45 percent of the funding that President Obama included in his proposed budget. This amounts to a funding increase of merely $0.06 per meal; this is barely enough to acknowledge rising food costs, much less improve quality or expand access.

We must act now. How can you get involved? Send a letter asking your senators to increase the funding for schools to provide the healthful meals that support children’s health and learning. Click here to submit an online letter to your local senators.

The Obama administration has made it clear that improving school nutrition and addressing child obesity are high-priority policy areas. Now, we need to ask the U.S. Senate to meet the budget benchmark that the President has set. Please take action today.

Thank you for being part of this important and timely effort for children’s health.

For more information, visit the Healthy Schools Campaign Website.

Meatless Meals: Cherry Tomato Spaghetti

Friday, March 19, 2010
Just in time for Friday during Lent! This recipe is definitely one of my favorites. It's quick, easy and an all- ages crowd pleaser.

Cherry Tomato Spaghetti
Serves 4

1 pound regular or thick spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
2 pints cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup basil leaves
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the wine and cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, parsley and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes burst, about 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the reserved pasta water and the cooked pasta. Toss to coat. Turn off heat, add the basil and cheese and serve.

Organization, where are you??

Thursday, March 18, 2010
I used to be best friends with Organization. We were like this {picture me linking my forefinger and middle finger}. We were as thick as thieves. And then...I had children.

Why is it that once we become mothers, our organizing abilites are stripped from us? I was the picture of organization and structure. Some might say I still am. But I've definitely seen a decline in my ability to keep it all together since my firstborn came along 8 years ago. Four years after that, when my second was born, my pal Organization was M.I.A.

I've forgotten to mark important dates and appointments on the calendar. Months ago I missed an appointment with my dermatologist. Embarrassingly, I had to call to reschedule. Humiliating.

I used to have the most meticulous to do list. Color coded and categorized, my lists were the envy of all of my girlfriends. Now, I've got several lists strewn about with sticky notes attached or falling off or, worse yet, lying on the floor under a pile of toys.

I've vowed to get my act together and get back to the place I used to be pre-children. I have a few things in my favor:

1) The warm weather tends to bring on nesting instincts for me. I don't know what it is, but spring breezes make me want to de-clutter and re-organize. Spring is good, people!

2) Thanks to my mate, Coryanne over at Housewife Bliss (Go check her out. You'll love her and her nifty tips.), I have discovered ListPlanIt, a site completely devoted to all things organization. With a multitude of eplanners and lists, ListPlanIt specializes in everything you need to get you, your family and your home organized. For just $20 per year, you have full access to print all the lists you could possibly imagine.

3) I'm motivated to make a few extra bucks this spring. I have some big ticket baby items that I'm looking to unload...a Pottery Barn Kids crib and changing table, a Peg Perego highchair and a baby swing. I'm seeing a few dollar signs in my future.

No more excuses for me! I want to spend my spring organizing my life so that I can spend my summer enjoying my life!!

What are your tips for organizing and de-cluttering? How do you manage to stay on top of it?


Wednesday, March 17, 2010
If you're a frequent visitor here and a longtime one, you'll notice a few recent changes.

I'm most excited about my new domain name! Yes, I finally branched out and bought my own domain name. No more blogspot.com! Look way up there. See it? http://www.piecesofamom.com/!!!! Yay! Yes, it's the little things that excite me.

Secondly, Pieces of a Mom is sporting a new header. But, alas, it's most likely temporary. I am in the process of plotting a full blog makeover with the help of a very reasonably priced but incredibly talented professional designer.

Watch this space! Good things to come!!

Setting a good example

Tuesday, March 16, 2010
If you're not convinced that your children learn by example and from your actions, just watch them while they play. Children are notorious for imitating grownups during play. I had the pleasure of eavesdropping on my daughter on Saturday morning while she played house and school.

After watching Harper in action as a teacher, I now know that her teachers are patient, tolerant and kind. One of her students threw something across the room, but Miss Harper didn't get upset. She nicely asked her student not to throw the block again. Through her play, I see how her teachers react to and address behavioral issues.

After playing school, Harper moved on to playing house. She made breakfast for her baby and cleaned the house. Afterwards, it was time to go to the store. Harper set up 4 chairs and put a baby carrier on one of the chairs for her baby. She sat in the driver's seat and proceeded to drive to the grocery store. While driving to the store, she loudly exclaimed, "Turn, lady. Go!"

Oh boy! I quickly realized that I go through my day being the person I am. For the most part, that person is a calm person who uses good judgment and abstains from using foul language in the presence of her children. But, as every parent knows, there are times when your patience is pushed to the limit and your tolerance is put to the test. It's in these situations that the worst parts of us surface and our children are the unfortunate witnesses to it.

I will definitely think twice before lashing out into a mild road rage. Children are keen observers who see and hear everything...most often when we think they are paying no attention at all.

Falling out of friendship

Monday, March 15, 2010
Do you think it's  possible to fall out of friendship? Aren't we supposed to remain friends? Yes, there are definite no-no's...affairs with friends' husbands, etc. But as long as we remain within the boundaries, shouldn't we always be friends?

I thought so until somewhat recently when I got together with longtime friends. There were 3 of us, and the conversation was flowing nicely. Catching up on each other's lives, sharing personal details, celebrating successes and supporting disappointments are what friendships are all about. There's a certain evolution to friendships. They evolve as we evolve. Our lives change, and we change with them. We expect our friends to change with them as well.
Photo credits: Redbook Magazine

But what do we do when a friend resists the evolution of another friend? In my case, my friend was stuck in our high school days. I don't necessarily mean that she wanted to constantly discuss the good ol' days. It was more about her attitude and her mindset. We started talking about Facebook and reconnecting with classmates. She said she had absolutely no desire to see anyone other than the people at the table that evening. She recalled how certain people acted in high school and assumed that they still acted in the same way. Twenty years later? I doubt it.

Thats's when it clicked. She's immediately making an assumption that everyone is that same person because she's basically the same person. My guess is that most of our classmates are not the same people they were in high school. Events and experiences over the past 20 years have re-shaped and formed us into the people we are today. But she's missing that point, and unfortunately, missing out on some potentially wonderful friendships.

What are your thoughts? Do you think you can fall out of friendship? If so, has it ever happened to you?

A day of distractions

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Yesterday was my father's birthday. He would have been 77. I tried to fill my day with distractions to keep my mind off of my dad and his special day. Working out, taking Harper to the park, baking brownies were some of those distractions. Of course, having two rambunctious children helps distract me as well.

However, it's my children who steer my thoughts to my dad most often. In the year between my mother's death and my father's death, my girls and I spent a lot of time with my dad. We would visit him often, the girls always looking forward to their sleepovers with "Pop". Harper had a special relationship with him. It's hard to define it, really. She was just two at the time of his death, but you could tell that they thoroughly enjoyed each other.

But, at the end of the day, I put the distractions aside and celebrated my dad's birthday. While the girls were having ice cream, we put a candle in each of their scoops and sang "Happy Birthday" to Pop. After the girls were in bed, I browsed pictures and videos, re-living those moments with my dad. Those memories are so special to me, and despite the distractions, I'll never forget them.

CLEAN+Green Pet Products Review and Giveaway!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Congratulations to Colette!

CLEAN+Green by SeaYu Enterprises is a line of professional strength stain and odor eliminators that utilizes an exclusive patented encapsulation technology and advanced eliminator formula. When I was invited to sample and review these products, I jumped at the chance. We have a cat, a very busy cat who has been known to trail remnants of his litterbox for several feet. He's been known to leave little hairball surprises on our wood floors and area rugs, too! I couldn't wait to put these products to the test!

The CLEAN+Green products couldn't be easier to use. Shake can before spraying. No need to soak, just make sure that the product comes in contact with the odor source. There's no need to scrub either. Once in contact, the solution begins to work on the stain and the odor immediately. For busy moms, this is a HUGE bonus.

CLEAN+Green works on stains and odors caused by urine, feces, vomit and general pet smells. I also found it be effective at treating food odors such as fish and garlic. It's safe to use on all water-safe surfaces, including carpets, area rugs, oriental rugs, upholstery, mattress and bedding.

Here's what I love most about these products. They are all natural and environmentally friendly! CLEAN+Green Carpet & Upholstery Odor Eliminator, Cleaner & Stain Remover is made from completely natural ingredients and is non-toxic, non-flammalbe, non-corrosive, non-carcinogenic and 100% biodegradable.

I love that there is no overwhelming smell of chemicals in the CLEAN+Green line of products. I've tried many deodorizers, and all of them have smelled like alcohol combined with "spring flowers" or "fresh linen". It's not appealing to me. I've been searching for a deodorizer that neutralizes effectively without leaving behind the smell of litterbox combined with "fresh fields". CLEAN+Green delivers a neutral deodorizer that is safe for pets and children.

I was worried about discoloration when used on wood, tile and carpet. But I was pleasantly surprised when there was absolutely no discoloration, and the stains were gone without rigorous rubbing. I love that there is finally a product I can use on my hardwood floors. There isn't any other cleaner of this type for wood floors.

I am happily offering one lucky reader 6 products of your choice. It's a $60 value as the cans generally retail for about $9.99 per can. You will not be disappointed. If you have pets, you don't want to miss this giveaway!

To view the complete line of CLEAN+Green products, visit the Web site here.

How to enter the CLEAN+Green giveaway:

**Required entry: Leave a comment to let me know what kind of pet you have and why you'd like to win.

Extra entries: (Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry to count and extra entries won’t count unless the required entry has been completed)

1. Follow Pieces of a Mom on Twitter and leave me your Twitter name.

2. Become a fan of CLEAN+Green on Facebook and leave me your FB name.

3. Tweet this giveaway! Copy and paste the following:
Great #giveaway for CLEAN+Green eco-friendly pet products. Enter to win 6 products of your choice @PiecesofaMom: http://bit.ly/b3Ly0n

4. Post about this giveaway on your blog and link back to me. Leave me your link to the post.
Giveaway Rules:

This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only. It begins on March 10, 2010 and will end on March 20, 2010 at 9 pm (Eastern). One winner with a valid entry will be selected at random using random.org. The winner will be announced and must respond with a current email address within 48 hours to claim. Otherwise, another eligible entry will be chosen. Enter as many extra entries as you would like and good luck!

*Disclosure: I was provided 3 CLEAN+Green products to review. I was not compensated for this review. These are my own honest opinions and experience with the products.

Four year olds know how to party!

Monday, March 8, 2010
Yesterday Harper went to a birthday party, complete with 20+ screaming kids running around a mini-gym. The parents stood on the other side of a glass, mostly sound-proof wall watching the kids. It was perfect. While the adults chatted, the kids played on the equipment and ran in circles. It doesn't take a whole lot to keep them entertained. Nor did it take much to keep the adults entertained.


Some kid-less time this weekend

Sunday, March 7, 2010
I enjoyed some much needed kid-less time this weekend. But I have to admit that, sadly, sometimes I don't know how to act without my kids. I'm like a fish out of water for the first 30 minutes. Pathetic, I know.

On Saturday, we had plans to take Emma to a First Holy Communion preparation workshop. In fact, I passed up a spot at Bloggy Bootcamp Baltimore to attend this workshop. However, in the end, I ended up missing the workshop because I was sick. I needed to rest so Henry took Emma instead. I lingered in bed, took a long shower and watched Harper entertain herself. Once Emma returned, I took the girls to my niece's house for a sleepover. Woo hoo! A night without the kids.

After the drop-off, I stopped at Starbucks for a drink and headed to Home Goods for some SERIOUS browsing. I have to say that I LOVE shopping without my kids. Oh, the freedom to look at whatever I want. It's glorious.

After almost 3 hours at Home Goods, I finally headed home. I thought the hubs and I would head out for a casual dinner. Something quick. But instead we headed to one of our favorite spots. A nice surprise. Since we didn't have a reservation we were told the wait would be about an hour. We looked at each other. Did we want to wait that long? What the heck! Let's wait.

For the next 70 minutes, we sat and talked. It was like old times. Just the two of us. Dinner out. I miss that time with my husband. No distractions. No kids to bathe. No homework to review. We get so little of that kind of time together, but I think we need so much of it. At the end of a fabulous date night and after realizing how much the time together rejuvinates us as a couple, we both agreed to make the time for more date nights. Now we just need to make sure life doesn't get in our way.

The Oscars have come to Pieces of a Mom!

I was recently awarded two blog awards by one of my new bloggy and Twitter friends, Tina at Life Without Pink. I didn't have to buy a fancy, new dress, shoes, clutch or jewelry. No red carpet here. Just honest awards.

The various blog awards that are circulating in the blogosphere are better, believe it or not, than the golden statue which are being handed out this evening in Tinseltown. They are heart-felt and genuine. So, I'd like to thank Tina for honoring me with these awards. Hop on over to Tina's post to read her answers and to check out the other fab bloggers to whom she handed out awards.

The first award is the Happy 101 award.

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

10 things that bring a smile to my face {in random order}

1. When my husband tickles our daughters. The outrageous laughter always makes me happy.
2. A White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks.
3. Watching the movie You've Got Mail.
4. The 2 hours of time that my husband and I spend together after the girls go to bed.
5. When my daughters play contentedly together.
6. Captiva, Florida
7. My daily phone chats with my sister Brenda.
8. Temperatures above 75 degrees F.
9. Date night.
10. Music.


List 7 interesting facts about myself

1. I once wanted to be a pastry chef.
2. I had a crush on Mick Jagger when I was in 8th grade (don't ask).
3. I am so grateful to live in a town that is less than 2 miles from the beach. My favorite month here is September when all of the tourists have left and the weather is still amazing.
4, I'm claustrophobic.
5. I've been to Iceland.
6. My first concert was Rick Springfield.
7. I love to read. I'll read anything...books, magazines, newpapers, even brochures in the doctor's office.

Now it's my turn. I'm bestowing these awards on a few of my new friends as well as some of my longtime bloggy buddies.

1. Becky at Farmgirl Paints
2. Miti at Pieces of Me (Miti and I used to be bloggy twins until I changed my name to Pieces of a Mom)
3. Katie at Katie's Nesting Spot
4. Sara at The Mommy Diaries
5. Angie at Just Shy of a "Y"

Snow day

Thursday, March 4, 2010
Last Friday was a snow day. This is nothing new. It was the 4th one this winter. They seem like fun at the time, but now I'm left wondering when these snow days will be made up. There are rumblings of snow days being made up on Saturdays. Yes, weekend school.

Back to the snow day. It was the first time this winter that the snow was perfect for making snow people. I have bad memories of making snow people. Balls falling apart. Balls rolling off of balls. But this snow was so desirable that we made 3 snow people. Plus, it was sunny and no wind. We easily stayed outside for 2 hours, happily rolling away.
We decided to get creative with our snow girls by adding crowns, necklaces, fancy bags and flower leis. It was fun!
To the snow mama, we added an apron, chef's hat, and a hand mitt!
We really had a lot of fun making our snow girls. But I have to admit...I'm ready for Spring!

Read Across America month

The National Education Association (NEA) in conjunction with the First Lady, Michelle Obama, officially kicked off National Read Across America month on March 2nd, the beloved Dr. Seuss' birthday. Read Across America is a reading motivation and awareness program designed to get each child involved in and to celebrate reading. March 2nd is celebrated all over the nation by teachers, politicians, parents, grandparents, atheletes, and librarians. Many schools extend the celebration by encouraging children to read all month long.

Shortly after I received my Bachelor of Arts in English, I volunteered at my local library as a literacy tutor. It was truly an eye opening experience for me. It would never cease to amaze me when 50 and 60 year old men and women walked into the library wanting to learn to read. I was flabbergasted. Just imagine spending your entire life of 50 years without knowing how to read. It was a whole new world for them once they mastered some basic reading skills.

Since those days, I have been a champion of reading. From the time my girls were babies, I have instilled in them an absolute love of reading and books.

I encourage you to invest some precious moments this month encouraging your children to pick up a book and get reading. If your children are too young to read, open a book and read to them. Babies may not be able to tell you so, but I can guarantee that they love when we read to them.

Can't decide what to read? Here are my recommendations:

Infant - 2
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Ages 3 - 5
A Kitten Tale by Eric Rohmann
Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino

Ages 6 - 9
Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra
Snoring Beauty by Bruce Hale
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems

Ages 10 - 12
Edward's Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan
Jabberwockey by Lewis Carroll
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal by Jeff Kinney

Ages 12 and up
Slam by Nick Hornby
Red Glass by Laura Resau

For more information on the NEA's Read Across America initiative, click here.

Making a move

Tuesday, March 2, 2010
We are coming upon the prime moving seasons, spring and summer. Moving can be difficult for the entire family but even more so for young children. The stresses of a new home and quite possibly a new town, new school or even a new state can be overwhelming for children. Children often feel powerless during a move. Take steps to keep them involved such as allowing them to choose and map out their own rooms.

These books are great resources for helping parents alleviate children's anxieties.

Big Ernie's New Home by Teresa and Whitney Martin
This book acknowledges the sadness and anxiety a young child may feel about moving.
Moving House by Anna Civardi. The simple pictures and text will help your kids open up about their concerns.

Moving with Kids by Lori Collins Burgan. A parents guide that's packed with tips to help make the move less stressful.

Once you make your big move, make time to help your children get acquainted with their new home and their new 'hood!