Saturday, December 22, 2012

Oh, Pinterest, You Got Me!

I was in search of a teacher's gift for Joe and Bella's teachers.  I needed 3 (simple, inexpensive, yet thoughtful, something they could use in real life) gifts.  I found this cute idea on everyone's favorite social media network idea pin board bookmarking place site, Pinterest.
Super cute, right?  Just switch it up a tad for Christmas, throw in a Giant Eagle gift card, and BOOM!  Done!  I gathered all the items...though, I couldn't find the exact cup as in the picture.  But, cups, pencils, gift cards.  I started to assemble the items together at about 10:00 pm Wednesday night for a Thursday delivery.  You guys!  THIS happened...

Uhhhh.....crap!  Now what?  I'm not good on the fly!  How can the pencils NOT fit in the cup???  Do I ditch the pencils?  But, then, what am I going to do with 80 pencils???  Oh the shame!  I came up with a solution, though!  It's not perfect, but it worked.

I blame myself, really, for not checking that the pencils would actually fit in the cup...but, I somehow want to put the responsibility on Pinterest for making me have to think late at night.   And, yes, get out my camera and document it all instead of just focusing on the problem.  All Pinterest's fault.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Please Check!!!

Two years ago today, little Tiggy lost his life when a huge, heavy dresser fell on him.  I simply cannot fathom the horror, sadness, grief that his family has had to trudge through.  I remember reading about the accident back then and springing into action.  I know we anchored most of the furniture once we had kids, but I may have rearranged some things and not bothered to secure pieces to the walls. 

Twice in our house, little boys have tried to climb the dresser drawers like steps to reach something on the top.  Both times, the anchors caught the furniture before anyone got hurt.  The drawers, I remember, still slid out, everything on top of the dresser fell off and my heart stopped beating briefly, but still.  It takes seriously a few minutes to install the safety kits, plus they're not expensive.  I'll install them for you if you need help!

Dana, Tiggy's mom, is an amazing writer!  Hop over HERE to read about how she and her family are turning a tragedy into positive action...right after you go check your furniture.  Please and thank you.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Say Hi to Stewart!

When I approached Joe and Bella (Trey didn't really have an opinion either way) about getting the Elf on the Shelf, they made it perfectly clear that they did NOT want the elf showing up at our house!  I thought they would think he was funny and cute.  I could not have been more wrong.  Joe has been plagued throughout his 9 years with a few irrational fears, and I think the elf fit into one of those categories.  That there might be a touch of realness to the magic is too much for Joe.  He doesn't want to be watched by a "creepy doll" and maybe, just maybe, not get anything for Christmas because he said something "sucks" one too many times.  Bella just didn't want the elf to "mess up any of MY stuff!".  Bella has a great sense of limited humor. 

Jay and I discussed it and thought that maybe we should just get the elf anyway to show the kids that it's silly fun and they would ultimately still get gifts under the tree.  Teach them that we don't give gifts based on behavior, but because of grace.  Well, when I told Jay how much the elf cost, he pooped a brick.  No way are we going to spend that much money to scare our kids and add another thing to remember to do at night!  Jay's alternative idea included a stuffed animal that left poop all over the house.  There really wasn't a link to Christmas, we just thought it would be funny.  The idea didn't pan out, though.

All that to say!!!  Here's what we ended up putting together.  The kids got a letter in the mail from Stewart.  Stewart works for Santa but is so shy he doesn't want to be seen.  He's not here to check on behavior, but rather make sure the kids know why we really celebrate Christmas and to take a gift list back to Santa.  Everyday, the kids have to find Stewart's box.  In the box is a scripture verse, the kids have to look up the verse, read and discuss it.  Once they're done, they each write down something that they want for Christmas and put them in the box. 

The scripture verses will be random, chosen by.....ummmm, me.  We already have an Advent calendar that tells the story of Jesus' birth and a Jesse Tree that tells the story of the Bible beginning to end (ish).  I thought it was a good way to get the kids reading and asking questions.  Plus, I'll have a very precise list of what they want for Christmas. Stewart told them they could write the same thing down more than one time to show that they really wanted that item.

Bella is convinced that Stewart is an elf, but we will never know...I have been forbidden from trying to sneak a picture of Stewart.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Paleo Results!

It's over!  The 9 week challenge that I took part in is over!  Since I put all my business out on front street 9 weeks ago, I think I owe you a follow up.

You guys!  It wasn't as bad/difficult/gut wrenching as I thought it would be!  As for the diet aspect, I kept it simple...the wildest recipe I tried was making breaded chicken with almond meal instead of bread crumbs.  For breakfast, I absolutely ate the same thing almost every day.  For the rest of the day...there was a lot of grilled chicken, steamed veggies, sweet potatoes, eggs, bacon, tuna, fruit and almonds.

I never craved anything...though at one point after Halloween, I was cleaning the kitchen and picked up a chunk of a Hershey bar!  Oh my stars!  I covered my mouth with one hand and threw the chocolate at the garbage can!  Get behind me, satan! 

I'm sure I could go on and on about the diet, but I'll just hit the high points.  I exceeded my weight loss goal!  I lost several inches!  This sounds weird, but my fingernails are the strongest they have ever been!  My belly feels good all the time, which wasn't always the case previously.  Someday, I'll tell you what happens when I eat the turkey sandwich at Eat N' Park...The only time I felt hungry is when I didn't or couldn't plan ahead.  *There were a few hospital days with Trey when I just could not eat in front of him*  My skin is clear(er)!  Though, as a life long picker, this makes me sad.  Maybe I should include it under 'low points'.  But, truly, even Jay has complimented my skin several times...and this is the same husband that (years ago) didn't notice that I had taken out my nose ring for 3 weeks.  My times for each of the benchmark workouts improved!

As for low points, not too many.  However, we went to a wedding and let me tell you...I love, love, love weddings!  I knew that this day would be a "cheat" in my entries and I was okay with that.  I was eying up that wedding cake!  Seriously?  I DIDN'T like the cake!  It was too sweet!  (I know, I know!  Wah!  And my diamond shoes were too tight!)  But, really!  I was looking forward to that cake!  Bummer.  Another time, I went to dinner with friends.  Knowing that I wasn't going to use a "cheat", I looked up the menu ahead of time to find something Paleo friendly.  What did I end up with???  A stinkin' chicken salad with all the good stuff (cheese!) taken off.  I could've had that at home and not had to tip anyone!

Now that the challenge is over, I plan on sticking with the Paleo, though not as strictly as per the challenge.  And maybe on the weekend, I'll enjoy a "free" meal.  Since we rarely go out to restaurants (I mean, come on!  I went to ONE in nine weeks!), I will choose freely from the menu. 

But now, I know you've all been waiting for them...The after pictures!!!!  Let me refresh your memories with the before pics, too...




Hooray!  Can you tell by the pictures that I hate, hate, hate having my picture taken?  Ugh!  Anywho...look into Paleo if you're thinking of changing things up.  It's a challenge, but isn't anything that's worth it?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Should We or Shouldn't We????

Of course I'm talking about The Elf on the Shelf.  I mean, what else could it have been?  It's kinda embarrassing to think of how much mental turmoil I create for myself over a decision like this.  Do you love him or hate him?  Do you even know who he is?  This little (sometimes mischievous) Elf plants himself in your house for the Christmas season, watches the children and reports back to the big guy (Santa...not THE Big Guy). I actually have a pro and con list for this "Christmas Tradition"...Please help me to decide!

He's so cute!
I love to think of the kids' faces as they search the house looking for the elf every morning.
What a fun tradition!  Aren't I always rambling on and on about not having enough traditions?
I could stretch my creative muscles to think of new and funny ways to hide him. 
If I hide him well enough, maybe the kids won't find him for a few days but they would use all their free time searching instead of fighting with each other.  

So, you're telling me that in addition to making lunches, redding up, Christmas shopping, planning and decorating, that I have to REMEMBER to hide this guy EVERY night for a month?
I fear the wrath if this elf gets "hidden" in the same spot more than once.  My kids are old enough to call that BS out.
Some people have gotten sooooo creative with their elf that there are blogs dedicated to this tomfoolery...Pinterest boards, websites (sometimes inappropriate...get him outta your liquor cabinet and the Barbie bin, for Pete's sake)!  That bar is set pretty high, my friends.  Not that my kids would judge me, but I would.  I would. 
I would be setting myself up for every year to come.  As much as I long for traditions, I'm kind of a commitment phobe.  Can you do Elf on the Shelf just one time?  Or is that opening a 15 year long door?
Don't get me started on the whole "There's an elf watching me, so I better be good" concept!

See what I mean about torturing myself?  Clearly, I'm making too big of a thing out of this.  Can't I just plop him on the mantle?  Do you wish you would've started something like this years ago?  Do you regret starting this?  Do you have a similar tradition that you like better?  The clock is ticking, people...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Giant Leap

This past weekend I joined the ranks of the "smart" phone users!  I'm still learning how to use it...I may have inadvertently called some people from my contact list that I haven't talked to in years.  Oooops!  To say that I took a step up into this technology would be a horrific understatement.  It's more like a GIANT LEAP into this era of 4G's and wi-fi. 

I went into the store with this:
My beloved Strawberry Chocolate!  She was really cutting edge (I swear!) when I first got her years ago.

I came out of the store a painful 3 hours later with this:
Ain't she a beaut??  I think my hesitation to jump on all this fast paced, touch screen, swiping bandwagon may be due in part to growing up (in the 1980's & '90's, thank you very much!) with THIS bad boy:
Yeah, that's right.  Who didn't have a candle stick phone circa 1920 in their front hallway?  All the cool kids had to push that lever to use call waiting.  And the rotary?  Pshhhhhh.  Try not to be so jealous. 

Did you have anything "unconventional" in your house growing up?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Before and After

How fun is a huge chalkboard???  Hooray for weekend projects!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What we did today....

Since Trey does not go to preschool, I have been giving him lessons here at home.  It has been WONDERFUL!  He surprises me every time with things that he knows (that I didn't know he knew) and his ability to retain information.  But, today was too nice to stay inside!  Who knows how many more nice weather days like today we're going to get, so I wrote down some things on a list that Trey could look for outside.....
Something green, or "Duh, Mom"
two different leaves

something straight
something beautiful

Something that makes noise.  See the car?

a stick.  Love his face!

something round

I just like our street in the fall...

Not part of the hunt...
but, Trey took the sign anyway.

something fuzzy

Whatcha thinkin' about, Trey?

Bella in on the fun!  A piece of litter.

a chewed leaf

Bella's something beautiful

something smooth


Bella's 'treasure', a cool leaf imprint

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Eat to Live

Here we go again.  I've blogged before about eating, weight loss and working out, and yet here I am doing it again.  The gym that I go to, Crossfit Pittsburgh, entered a 9 week Paleo team challenge.  Since I just started to get back into a routine of dropping the kids off at school and heading down to the "box", I begged off the challenge.  I'm not particularly competitive and I especially didn't want to let anyone down.  See, we've created a delicate balance at home concerning Trey.  Right now, today, he's doing fabulous.  Who knows what's going to be happening next week, month, tomorrow?  I didn't want to commit to a team challenge if I wasn't going to be able to hold up my end of the bargain.  But, my sweet friend Jenn called and said simply that she wanted me on the team with her regardless of the outcome.  How can I say no?  So, I signed my life away up.

Strangely, though, this challenge presented itself at the exact time that I had been lamenting to Jay that I needed something to kick my (ever growing) butt into gear.  This past year, my size has fluctuated about 10 pounds either way several times.  Some people eat to comfort themselves during stressful times.  I don't eat at all during these times.  Then, when I feel better, I make up for the lack of appetite by eating...everything.  Not healthy.  And right now, I'm just not comfortable, especially since I know what to do to be in shape.  When I had to go into my bin labeled "pre and post pregnancy clothes" for the next size up in jeans, I knew something had to change.   Do you need something in a size 2?  I have it.  Size 16?  Yep, that too.

Another factor holding me back from initially signing up is that I just don't care about food.  That's it.  I don't want creative or fancy.  I don't want to spend time cooking or shopping or preparing food for just me.  I could seriously eat the same thing everyday.  By 'the same thing', I mean processed, easy to make, comes in a box type food.  I own the phrase "I eat to live" not "I live to eat".  A couple of years ago, I did The Zone diet and had really amazing results!  But, sadly, that only lasted a few months.

What is Paleo?  Some people call Paleo the 'caveman diet'.  Basically (in THE simplest form), Paleo is eating only the things a caveman would eat.  Lean meats, fruits, veggies, nuts and eggs.  No dairy, carbs, processed food or sugar.  As per this challenge, I must adhere to a strict Paleo diet, record my before and after pictures and measurements, and 3 'benchmark' workouts (I do 3 different workouts for time at the beginning of the challenge, then do the same 3 workouts for time at the end of the challenge and calculate the improvement)

So, here's where it's gonna get real. In the pictures I'm going to post below (be nice!), I'm wearing a pair of skinny jeans that I wore comfortably in the summer of 2011.  They're not so comfy now, but I hope they will be!!!

Please be kind!  And, check back to see how this challenge goes.  After these pictures, could it get worse?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Passing the time and the ugliest picture ever.

I let the kids set up a tripod and showed them how to use my camera....

mommy is a super creep

ugliest picture ever.