Thursday, December 31, 2009

I wanted Princess Polly Pockets!

My husband and I were so very excited! Santa had come all the way to California to deliver exactly what my daughter had asked for...a big girl bike and Polly Pockets. All the adults were ready with their cameras as my daughter and I walked through the door to find her magical gifts. She walked straight up to them, around them and then burst into tears. I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I wanted the Princess Polly Pockets." Hmmm...we were all a bit mortified. Gradually cameras went away and the moment was lost. I said to her, "You need to be a bit more specific with Santa because you told him 'big girl bike and polly pockets' and that is what he brought you." She didn't let up for about 30 minutes.
My husband and I were really angry. And all we kept thinking is, "We are such bad parents...our kids are spoiled!!!" We almost packed up all her gifts and gave them away. Instead we sat her down and explained to her why her behavior was poor and what Christmas is all about. Giving and not receiving.
I had taken her with me to get little things for everyone in the family...just from she could try to comprehend the act of giving. Didn't work out great as she kept picking things out for herself. But, we drilled it into her head on Christmas day...whether she liked it or not. We needed her to understand, as best she could, that crying when opening up a gift is not cool.
She eventually turned it around and was ready to open up two gifts. The rest had to wait or may be given away. It all depended on her behavior. She was so sweet. She opened her gifts (both from Papa an Lola) and immediately handed out hugs and thank you's. I think she got the message. As a parent, that was one of the most difficult moments so far. I hope we made the right decision and I can't wait to show her the tape when she is 10 and beyond.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Saying goodbye to family.

I don't know if it is because I come from a divorced family and had to move back and forth between my mom and dad's house every 6 months when I was younger but I have a really hard time saying goodbye to my family. The great part about the holidays is seeing family and even anticipating all the know, the build up to all the fun. That is why, when it is over and I think of all of the fun that was had, it is really hard to hop in the car and drive away.

I was very lucky. I got to bring my entire son, daughter and hubby...out to California to my dad's house for the holidays. My brother and I also flew my mom in for a few days. It was everyone in my family, all together and I was in heaven. And I wasn't the only one...the kids were LOVING being around my niece and nephew who are 10 and 11 respectively. Watching the kids together was my favorite absolutely melts my heart to think about it.

My kids were at the center of my niece and nephew's world for a solid 10 days. They helped me so very much and never complained once about getting bit by my son or told on by my daughter. They smiled the whole time and were so very patient. I was super proud of them. Then it hit me...they are 10 and almost 6 years, one will be off to college. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

I think that is part of what made me so sad. I realized that these visits are so precious and that they aren't going to happen forever. This stage of life is so precious. As much as it is overwhelming at times with poopy diapers and tantrums, it is truly wonderful and precious. Add to that the fact that my dad, his girlfriend, my bro, sis-in-law, niece, nephew, my kids and hubby were all celebrating Christmas in the same room and then I turn into a waterworks!

I am emotional, I know that. But I am also sentimental and I love my family. I don't live 5 minutes from my fam, I live 10 hours. Everyone is busy with schedules and life. Weeks turn into months and months turns into years. I don't want that to happen. I want my kids to know their other cousins, aunt and uncle, papa and lola, grandma and grandpa. I cry when I say goodbye to my family because I had so much fun and because I will miss them. Then I hop into the car and think about when we can get together again. It takes a little while but as I begin to imagine our next visit, my smile reappears.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bringing the mess to someone else's house!

It is not easy traveling with two toddlers...but what makes it even more difficult is the mess we create while on the road. It is hard enough, managing the mess in our own house, but when you bring it to someone else's house, it is a whole new level of frustration.

We are at my dad's house for the holidays. He and his girlfriend are fantastic with the kids and are completely understanding with regards to the chaos and the mess. But, after a week, we are all starting to get a little overwhelmed. And, all the new toys and trinkets don't help. Sure, it gives them more to play with but it also gives them more to throw around and leave in wrong the kitchen floor.

At home, I sort of go through out the day and clean up only when they go down for their nap. They also have a designated "play room" which keeps the toys somewhat contained. On the road, papa and lola have a "playroom" but the kids don't really stay in there with their stuff. And there is one of the reasons for the over all MESS. See, I don't think it would bother us if all the mess was back in one room but it is leaking into the main adult room and that is starting to bug everyone.

Just this morning my dad said, "I can't keep up with the kids. I pick up their stuff and turn around 2 minutes later to find a new mess on the floor." It is crazy!! I feel so badly but I also know that the kids would love to be able to play with their tents and train sets and those won't fit in the playroom. It is such a catch 22...take um down and listen to them ask for them or keep them up and deal with more mess.

This leads me to the solution I have come up with. Open communication. If you can discuss this "messy" situation with your family, then you can relax a bit. In other words, ask them if the mess of the big items is bothering them. If it is, take it down and if it isn't then roll on as you were being mindful of picking up toys and stray items throughout the day.

It is funny cause my dad's girlfriend (of 20 years) just asked me..."are you doing your blog?" I said yes and explained to her the subject. She immediately smiled and said without hesitation, "But you are here and that is all that matters." Now that is comfort mess or not!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The 10 hour road trip gone GREAT!

Yes, the GREAT was not a typo. Believe me, I thought it was not going to be anywhere near the word but my kids surprise me every now and then. I am not sure how we lucked out. I don't know if it was luck or our stellar planning...hee hee...that brought us from Park City, UT to Granite Bay, CA in less than 9 1/2 hours.

Before the trip even started, I thought I was shooting myself in the foot cause I kept talking about our "plan". I would say, "If all goes according to plan..." And then I would knock on wood. So, here was our plan. Get everything ready the night before. I mean everything...bags packed, snack bag packed, dvd's stocked, house clean, gas tank full. The only things that were left for the morning were to pack the mini ice chest and cut up some fresh fruit. We also opted to have breakfast in the car as it never seems to be a quick meal and always produces such a mess.

So, when the kids got up, we immediately loaded them in the car and off we went. They ate waffles and we drank our coffee. We introduced several new movies which they both thought were pretty cool. One being "Home Alone" which was hilarious to hear and not see. My daughter was REALLY diggin that one.

The kids were amazing. We stopped for lunch at McD's and let the kids run around in the PlayPlace with their sleepers on. Hey, they wanted to. We were having so much fun watching them have fun that I quickly made the call to feed them their lunch in the car. So, we scarfed ours down and encouraged them to run and run. Before we left it was a quick trip to the bathroom for potty and hand washing and then off again!

About 2 hours later, both kids were sacked out and we were cruisin! We sailed like that for about 3 hours until my daughter got up and then we were back to movies and bit of singing. Honestly, where would we be without car dvd players?

Again, I am not going to sound too cocky cause we have to make this very trip back next week but I was super impressed with our road tripping skills. Other than a ting little meltdown from my daughter cause she was car sick on our way through Tahoe, everyone was happy and relaxed. (including the front 2) It was actually enjoyable and I got a glimpse of what it might be like to cruise the open road with a 4 and 6 year old. I might be crazy but it seems pretty fun. For now, I will just pray for a happy 9 1/2 hours back to Park City! Please!

Christmas Morning Donut Run!

Oh yes, I love Christmas traditions. Some families will remember the wonderful spread on Christmas Eve or the caroling their family did during the week before but as a true SANDERS I think of Christmas morning and one of my first thoughts is of donuts on Christmas morning.

My dad was the culprit. He would get up before all of he was a bigger kid than anyone on Christmas morning...and to kill time, he would go get donuts. Believe it or not, our local donut shop, Bill's Donuts, was always open and the donuts were always hot and fresh!

Don't get me wrong, I loved the gifts of the holidays...waking up to see all the presents and what Santa had brought me but I do LOVE my donuts. Back then, I was an old fashioned kinda girl but now I love maple bars. But, anything would do and my dad always seemed to get the perfect amount of everything. In fact, we seemed to enjoy them well into the afternoon. He always has such a smile on his face when he puts down that pink box.

And now that I think of it, I am not convinced it is the actual donut at all that I love so much. I think it is the fact that my dad is the one who started that tradition and that he finds such joy in delivering the special Christmas morning goodies to our tummies. After all, he was a dentist and he knows how bad they are for us...but he does it anyway because he knows that no matter what, you need to have fun in life...even if it is one donut at a time. Merry something yummy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookies...just one more reason to love the holidays!

With the holidays comes about a billion calories. But let's be honest...can't we put this off until the new year?! No, but we can eat everything in moderation and exercise our butt off! That is why I have been getting up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the crack of my ass to get to the gym! Yes, all in 5 degree weather!

But this blog is actually about cookies. And exercising is why I feel I can openly indulge in cookie feast. See, my girlfriend started this awesome tradition a few years ago. She took a break last year but brought it back this year to my delight! (and many others, i might add) It is called The Cookie Exchange. Here is how it works....

You invite a bunch of your girlfriends and tell them to bring 2 dozen cookies of their choice and a bottle of wine(of what they prefer to drink). My girlfriend then makes a killer soup and serves yummy bread. Everyone mingles, chats, nibbles, drinks vino and then samples the tasty cookies. When all is said and done, those who brought cookies, get to leave with cookies. Oh yeah, people must bring a tin to take carry their cookies home.

I love this party so much because I LOVE cookies. And I am making my favorites. I don't know what they are officially called but I calt the end, take a few home. (note, if you don't bring cookies, you don't bring any home!!) That is why I decided to make my absolute favorites. I don't even really know their official name but I am gonna call them peanut butter drops. You know, the ones where there is a hershey's kiss dropped in the middle! They are small and yummy and only seem to come out during the holidays (thank god!) And, I might add, they go perfectly with a tall glass of milk!

So here is to the holidays, friends, cookies and a bit of wine!!! Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My love affair with Whole Foods!

Yes, it is true...I am in love... I have been in like for some time. In fact for over a decade. That is how long I have known of Whole Foods. See, I grew up in Northern California. I used to go to Berkeley all the time and then I eventually ended up at Stanford for college. I was pretty lucky but it has gotten even better and it has turned into love.

Before we had a Whole Foods in Park City, we had a Wild Oats. Wild Oats was decent but nothing compared to the genius of Whole Foods. I take one step into Whole Foods and I am all smiles. This place inspires me to cook and to be a better cook while I am at it. All of their choices and layouts are beautiful and brilliant.

I love that the fresh flowers are right next to the fresh produce. Everything is perfectly presented but not overwhelming. And the flowers are always very interesting and different. Not your everyday rose bouquet! Hello sunflowers and rosemary trees made to look like mini Christmas trees.

When I get to the meat and fish section, that is when I am truly inspired to cook. I love every bit of it. I feel like I could stand there, staring at how perfect the chicken breasts look or how flawless the rib-eye is displayed. I am that person that is always asking the workers for recipes and you know what...they give them to me...and they are great!

Their deli is superb with so many awesome selections. I have so many favorites...where do I begin. First of all, their sushi is great and their vegetable dumplings are wonderful. Their soups are rockin...especially ham and split pea and chicken artichoke. Their full dinner selections are clever and different and so yummy. We get a lot of their salads during the summer when we are heading up to outdoor concerts.

But their bakery is what really surprised me! I was in there one day before Thanksgiving and they had a taster of their pumpkin pie...forget about it. It was amazing. So much so that I ditched the idea of making one from scratch and I ordered my Thanksgiving pies from Whole Foods. Healthy and excellent!

Lastly, my kids love the store...for one reason and one reason only. The mini shopping carts. All the other stores, I need to immediately go to the bakery to get them a cookie if I want a pleasant shopping experience but at Whole Foods, they grab the carts and I am traffic director. I throw all our groceries into their carts and they think it is the coolest thing ever. Easy trouble free shopping makes for a happy mommy!
Whole Foods, thank you and I love ya!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hotdogs are still the biggest hit at a 2 year olds birthday party!

I like to believe that you can actually get a somewhat "good for you" hot dog at the grocery store. I get the kind that says, "No nitrates or preservatives." And, you know what, I believe it. And my kids LOVE them.

My girlfriend came over the other day for a little play date and I made the kiddos lunch. I pulled out the bag of hot dogs and asked if her kids would like one. She replied with an enthusiastic YES!!! But then followed it up with, "But my husband hates them...all the chemicals." I read her the ingredients and we quickly decided that they were not THAT bad.

Not that bad means that compared to a lot of other crap we feed our kids, they are decent. Like, compared to those silly gummies that my kids are addicted to. Honestly, I am going to test them to see if they are laced with crack! Besides the fact that they aren't that bad for you, I used to eat hot dogs all the time.

So, that leads me to the fact that we have to remember that we grew up eating a ton of this stuff and all-in-all, we are doing just fine. For instance, I grew up drinking tons of milk. Just fine. I grew up eating candy. Just fine. I grew up chewing gum. Just fine. The list goes on and on. The 2 things we were not allowed to eat (or at least that my parents didn't provide for us) were soda pop and sugar cereals. My dad was a dentist and those two things meant one thing...CAVITIY!

But, let's get back to my friend and our play date... After learning that the hot dogs I was serving weren't soo bad, she declared to me, "I am going to serve these at my son's 2nd Birthday party!" And tonight, the kids noshed on them and loved every morsel. Kids and hot dogs. It is a winning combination!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Even after endless Christmas is possible to be hot and sexy!

Yes, it is true. We can still be sexy...even if our bod doesn't look the same as it did before we had kids and before our bellies were the size of Texas. (Doesn't that amaze you that your stomach can get that big...I mean really!) Anyway, it is possible even if your belly isn't where you want it to be, to look sexy!

I believe looking sexy is all about how you carry yourself. I had a guy friend tell me this one day. He said, you could weigh 200 lbs. and if you walk into a room with the confidence and a little shake in your hips, you can get the sexy going. I fully believe this. We have all seen it before. Those girls who aren't trying too hard but are walking in heels like they have done it their whole lives and who take their time with each swish of the hip. Damn I wish I could do that.

I think we all have a bit of that in us and it is time to let it shine this holiday season. It is time for mom's to look, feel and show their sexiness. We all need to grab the outfit that we feel the sexiest in and be one with the mood. Once we put it on, we need to KNOW that we are sexy and use that confidence all night long.

To me, sexy is half a feeling and half a showing. No part of sexy is really what you are wearing. (ok, maybe some of it is) But truly if we love what we are wearing, then we are more likely to look sexy because we are more confident. (getting off on the wrong tangent.) What I am saying is, we don't have to go out and buy a new holiday outfit...simply put on what is REAL and our favorite from our closet.

Once you have found your sexy outfit, then take a moment in the mirror and do your hair and make-up to where you feel gorgeous. Remember, you need to feel it. What will it take?? Mascara?? Blush?? Earrings?? Hair up or hair down?? Give it a few minutes of thought and have fun with it. Once complete, walk out of your room with an extra swish in your step and your head held high. "Shake your money maker", as they say!

Your husband, boyfriend, significant other will love it! Believe me...I know my hubby and one of the things that is always on his Christmas list is sex. Let's give them a little sexy first!! Happy Sexy Holidays to all the moms out there!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Counting my blessings!

I am not going to go into any kind of detail as to why I am counting my blessings. Let's just say that I got some news today that made me realize how lucky I am. There are days when I have stopped and counted my blessings, but this is a big one and I want to share them with you.

I met my husband on a blind date. We very well could have been set up with other people but we weren't. We were switched at the last minute and paired up by a mutual friend. I had the time of my life. I laughed so damn hard on that date and had never felt so loved. I count my blessings for that blind date. Thank goodness for our friend Lowell and his wife Becky.

We got pregnant right away. I thought for sure it was going to take me awhile cause I was never normal being an athlete all my life but I was wrong. I was very surprised when I took my first pregnancy test. I thought if I was pregnant the second line was supposed to be super bright. Mine was very, very faint. I wasn't convinced until I drove into town(we were in New Zealand) and got 3 more. All the same. Baby on the way...I count my blessings.

Our baby girl and our baby boy are healthy and happy. All in all they seem to be growing and learning and loving everyone around them. Their "hello mommy" and their "thank you mama" makes me melt every single day. I don't know what I would be without them as they have added so much to my life. I count my blessings.

No matter what happens, I know it has been said 1,000,000 times but nothing is as important as your families health and happiness. If you have those 2 things, you are the richest family in the world and you should count your blessings. Tonight, I am and I am so thankful!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tina really do ROCK!

Ok, I know she has won all the awards imaginable and everyone already knows her but I am just going to tell the world...or the blogging much I LOVE Tina Fey. I am so very glad that she is in my life. Especially since Jerry Seinfeld is only rerunning in my life now.

My hubby and I have about 5 shows that we absolutely love. Lost, Californication, Weeds, The Office, Football and 30 Rock!! (ok, that is 6) We laugh really hard at the Office but I laugh differently during 30 Rock. I laugh because it is funny and even harder cause I look at Tina Fey and I know it came from her brain. I love the fact that there are people like her in this world. Thank God!

The show is so damn clever and so quick. We watch it on DVR so that we can rewind it and catch the funny stuff a second time cause it happens so fast. All of the characters are just perfect...cause the writing so good.

I have loved Tina Fey since SNL. I was also just super stoked that in the world of late night television the funniest person was a woman. She was the first head writer on SNL. (that has to make her the funniest?!) You can tell that she has her funny shit together also. She is confident and quirky and perfectly imperfect (that is my favorite saying right now) And, she is a mom!!! Where does she find the time.

I love that she made fun of the fact that she was wearing a Snuggie and that she farted on the show. I love the outfits she puts together and that in one second she is self deprecating and the next second she is kick ass. She is a funny woman that our girls can look up to. And if nothing else, I will forever be indebted to her for making me laugh my head off every week!! Thank you Tina!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Little helpers in the kitchen.

My daughter absolutely loves to "help" in the kitchen. I put the word help in quotes because often times it requires more effort and time but most often it is absolutely worth it. I hope you know what I mean. For example, sometimes, I am trying to make a quick dinner because my son is starving and grumpy and my daughter is pulling at my leg begging to help me cook. At that moment, it is really hard for me to stop and let her help but I try to MAKE the time to bake or cook things with her.

Yesterday, we all set out to make cookies. A 3 1/2 year old, a 22 month old and a 37 year old all in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies from a bag. (I have written about them...they are fab). It was pretty comical. My daughter could actually read the directions because there were only 2 ingredients besides the bag contents and each ingredient had a picture next to it. Once mixed together, my son would spoon a huge glob-full and put it on the cookie sheet. Hilarious. They actually turned out great and we all loved them.

Today, my daughter really wanted to make banana bread. I made sure I had all the ingredients and waited until my son was down for his nap. We then turned it into the "Mommy Cooking School". She was so very excited and felt extremely special. I let her do most everything except breaking the egg (she had tried that last night and it didn't go very well). She would stir until she couldn't do it anymore and then I took over. It was super pleasant and fun...and the reason why it wasn't tense is because I had enough time to REALLY let her do it herself.

I believe there is so much for kids to learn in the kitchen. Patience, following directions, calculations and math...and most importantly, for my 3 year old LISTENING! If she doesn't listen, the project will get ruined. And there is so much for parents to learn from cooking with our kids in the kitchen, PATIENCE, listening and letting our kids try something that could potentially be very messy. Let them go for it and have fun! The reward of the experience is totally worth it! Our banana bread was wonderful and as my daughter said, "It was the best ever!"...words from the chef herself!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Decide to have more FUN every single day!

I feel like the fun decision is made before we even get out bed. You can kinda tell if the day is gonna be a good one or not. Every now and then the unexpected happens, your attitude changes and the day ends up being better than once thought. Most times, however, we know it before we are taking our first pee.

I had a bit of a revelation yesterday. I reminded myself that life is too short to be too serious or structured. Don't get me wrong, I am able to write this blog cause my kids nap but I think every day, you can carve out a little unexpected fun for your kids, for your family, for your relationship/marriage and for YOU! I realized this and made a mental pack with myself(does that even make sense) to have more fun in my days on this pick a part of everyday and make a different decision, you know, the fun one, instead of the serious one.

Last night, as we were coming home from my friends house, I asked the kids if my plan was ok. I said, "How about if you guys take a bath, put on your PJ's and then we all snuggle up in my bed and watch a movie?" It was about 8pm when I made this suggestion, which is about 15 past their bedtime. We all got a little giddy when I said this...we were so excited. Although my 22 month old son had no clue why...he just joined in cause it looked cool. But, I think he felt it. And that is part of my point.

I think that positive and happy feeling can completely change a family dynamic. It has been a tough year for a lot of people. Many families have split up or are fighting more than normal. I understand that we have all been stressed and for very good reason, but at some point we have to stop and enjoy life or it is gonna pass us right on by. My husband and I have decided to just be downright more positive. To take time to do fun things and make each other smile. To be spontaneous and goofy whenever possible. The little moments like this are what really matter and count.

Tonight, my hubby is out of town and has been for about a week. I got a babysitter and am heading to the movies cause it will make me happy. My kids are excited about the sitter that is coming and they think it is a treat. I don't know what tomorrow holds but with the snow falling outside, there are tons of FUN options and I know we will pick a good one. I hope you do the same!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Break a leg...or something like that!

So, my girlfriend calls me yesterday and tells me that a big Olympic sponsor is shooting a commercial in Park City and they are looking for actors. One of the actors needs to be a sportscaster...hmm...could be interesting. The catch is that I would not be playing myself, I would actually be a "playing" a sportscaster...acting the part! There was also a "mom" role but I wasn't convinced I could play the role of an 18 year old...I mean, come on...:)

I got the email last night which said I could come in whenever I wanted between 10am and 6pm. I would be auditioning for both the mom and the sportscaster. (I am cracking up right now just thinking about this.) The email also gave specific instructions on how to dress and props you could bring. I was supposed to wear red, white and blue but not go overboard with USA. I took in a sign that said, "GO USA" however. I also wore an old credential...cause everyone is credentialed at the Games.

Anyway, I wasn't sure if I should audition and then at the 11th hour, I called my friend, asked her if she could watch the kids and ran to the audition which was about 7 minutes away. I checked in, they asked me for a head shot (which I didn't have), they asked me what time my appointment was(I didn't have one) and they asked me to fill out my information. I then sat down in my chair representing auditioner number 12! The casting woman came out and said.."Next"...and I followed her into her room. I made a bit of small talk and then held my number and name up to my chin and said my name and answered a few questions. I was smiling the entire time...cause I couldn't believe I was doing this. From parking my car, to finishing my audition, 30 minutes had passed. I had officially completed my first acting audition. It was awesome...not because I did a great job but because I did something that was a bit scary and new and I survived. I encourage everyone out there to challenge yourself in some new, fun or scary area in the near future! It totally rocks. (btw..there is no chance in hell I a getting either of the parts. but it was fun and worth it!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The family photo.

I, like many other moms out there, had the desire to get the perfect candid family picture this holiday season. I tried my best to plan it and make it perfect. In the end, it wasn't planned, and it was perfectly imperfect.

I first thought of getting a picture of all the grandkids for Erik's parents. I thought that Erik's mom would love that. We tried and that was not easy. 4 kids ages 8, 4, 3 and 22 months. That is a pretty tough crew to corral and to keep happy. We tried with Lollipops and got a few but the real success came a few days later.

My friend, Kellie Hatcher, agreed to meet us at the park right after nap time to try and capture a few with just our kids and then possibly Erik and myself. I hadn't showered in a few days(TMI) and Erik had no idea we were going to be a part of the act. We were both wearing hats, Skye was wearing a ballet outfit and very, very reluctantly decided to put on her jeans and Spider had just woken up from his nap. He was wearing sweats. I am telling you all of this because we did not prepare at all. Not a bit. I literally rushed them out the door and into the last 15 minutes of sunlight to snap a few pictures. The kids were fantastic. They were having fun, despite the chilly weather (hello, it is Park City in Nov!)

What we got back were some absolutely wonderful shots. They were candid and real and they showed the life and happiness of our kids and our family. I am so glad we did it and Kellie did and amazing job. The perfect part of these pictures is that we aren't perfect. I didn't comb anyone's hair, I didn't wipe off anyone's face. I didn't make anyone wear anything special. We were all outside, having fun and it showed. I am writing this to encourage every family to be their true selves in their family photos and to encourage moms not to stress about getting everyone "ready". Like most everything in life, if you try too hard, it's never gonna turn out the way you want it. Just let it happen and I bet you will be pleasantly surprised!

Thank you Kellie Hatcher Photography!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Christmas Card! is that time of year again. I know what you are thinking. Feels like it was just yesterday, huh?! Well, it was just about 365 days ago...time has flown by and you know what they say, "Time flies when you are having fun or when you have 2 toddlers."

It is almost Christmas, which is what I celebrate. The holidays are upon us and so are the Christmas cards. I must admit, I love getting everyone's cards. I love the colors, the choices and the pictures most of all. I read every word, even the letter versions. I love getting the updates on all of our friends and family and family friends. And you know what, I keep them all as well. I get a kick out of the same shutterfly prints from several diff families or the vacation photos. I love it cause I know, for most families it takes time and energy.

I know this because I plan on doing mine tonight. I plan on using Kodak and I love them. Whatever you use, it takes a little effort and some planning. See, you have to figure out if you want just one picture, or if you want several. The more pictures you use, often times the more expensive the card. There is also a choice of greetings or sayings. There are fun versions or more serious. And, how do you sign it...with the family last name or everyone's first names. Lots of choices for such little piece of paper.

I love the super nice Holiday cards, but I can't stand spending too much. It feels like such a waste...not a waste of anything except money. How much should a family spend on the card? The funny thing is that I know the cards I love receiving and they are the more expensive ones...but I feel guilty actually biting the bullet and ordering them. This year might be different. I just might go for it.

But either way, I hope everyone knows that it doesn't matter the card stock or the number of photos you decide upon, what matters is that the card is being sent out of love from my family to yours. And I hope you enjoy ours as much as I enjoy yours. Happy Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 30, 2009

In 30 seconds, my 2 little people can destroy a clean house.

I don't want to brag but my little munchkins are super talented. Some might even go further and say they are prodigies. Honestly, they take their craft very seriously. I have never timed them but I am pretty sure they can absolutely destroy a clean house in approximately 30 seconds.

And, they prefer to take on a clean house. I mean, what fun is it to take out every single toy in a messy house. Then you can't really sit back and take in all of your hard work afterward.

Let me put it to you this way, my kids love to play and they love their toys. Both of those things I should not complain about but I am going to just a bit and then I will tell you why I love it so much.

We learned very early on that having kids means having lots of extra stuff and lots of mess. My husband said to me after our daughter was born that we should hire someone to follow us around all day and pick up our shit. I thought that idea was brilliant. Not realistic but brilliant.

I, like every other mom out there, feel like I spend all day picking up the same toys. Literally, I will put one train or doll away and find it out on the floor a minute later. I do so many forward folds that I am all set in the yoga dept for the next 20 years. But this is just a phase in my life.

The phase includes such precious moments as well. I get to watch my kids really having fun together. Chasing each other around the house, laughing like I did in Old School and smiling as wide as ever. I love the sound of all of that. There is no better medicine than hearing your kids laugh. I let them play as much as I can and then I deal with the aftermath when they are sleeping.

There will be a point very soon when I can ask them to REALLY help me clean up their toys and mess. And then soon after that, I will require them to clean up their toys and mess themselves. At least that is my plan. Until then, I will remember their beautiful smiles and awesome laughs while I am cleaning up those damn Polly Pockets!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Teaching my son to cook is a priority!

I love when guys can cook. You know, really cook. When you walk into your house and the dinner is already made for you and your family, that is a dream. I used to feel a lot of anxiety from cooking. Wondering what I was going to make for dinner or if I had enough to scrounge together a decent meal. Now, I feel pretty confident.

My dad has come a long way as well. My mom and he divorced when I was 7 years old. Before the divorce the only thing my dad could make was a bowl of cereal. Seriously, he had no clue in the kitchen, nor did he have any desire to learn. That all changed when he had to cook, not only for himself but for his two growing children.(our custody arrangement was 6 months with him and 6 months with my mom)

I remember his first meal. He made us eggs and hotdogs. I am pretty sure my mom was mortified but we actually thought it was pretty awesome. He quickly learned about the freezer section and the various pre-made meals from Stouffers and other companies. We soon began to list off some favorites like his goulash.

A few years later...ok, maybe about 10 years later, he started to really get the hang of it. He threw together a killer stir fry, Italian chicken and steak Diane. But for me, my favorite is his spaghetti. It is super tasty and always leaves me beyond full. Coming home from swim practice at 7 pm, I remember devouring several plates in my day.

Well, my dad and his girlfriend, Cathy came out to visit for the Thanksgiving weekend. On his last day here, he offered to make dinner. I quickly suggested spaghetti and away we went. It was such a pleasure to not only have a favorite meal made for me, but I realized how much I love "having a meal made for me", period! It was truly a gift to sit back and watch some football while my dad made dinner. It doesn't happen that often, not because my hubby doesn't know how to cook but because my hubby is too busy.

Realizing how much I love this feeling made me understand how important it is for us moms to teach our kids to cook. With special emphasis on our sons. Our fellas need the basics so they can take their skills out into the world and make other girls happy. We need to spread the love that is felt when you have a meal made for you. It is our duty! Who knows, maybe they will make a meal for us someday!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Write a postcard and send a lot more than words.

I keep them around for awhile. They sit on my desk until I get the next one. The most recent one is from St. Croix. It shows a white sandy beach with beautiful blue-green water and a sailboat. And of course, on the top it reads, "Wish you were here." Yes, we wish we were there, Alex.

My friend, Alex, is the author of all of these wonderful postcards. He is very dedicated and I am completely indebted. I tell him all the time how much I love receiving them. I feel like I live vicariously through him and his postcards.

Most of them arrive from exotic destinations like Hawaii or Figi but sometimes I will receive one from Tokyo or Russia. I feel like I am kept in the loop with his life and his adventures and with that am a part of his incredible schedule.

See, he works in the movie business (as if that isn't cool enough) and he is always traveling for some press junket or movie premiere. Yeah, poor Alex...always on the go! Believe me, one of these days I am going to ask to sneak into his suitcase. And on top of the movie munbojumbo, he is an open water swimmer, so he is constantly competing in Hawaii and various other fabulously sunny locations. Yes, rough life!

I love so much about the postcards that I get from Alex. Obviously, they add so much to my pile of mail but more than anything else, they are the epitome of thoughtful. The fact that in his busy life, he takes the time to send me postcards and always asks about my kids and sends his hugs is truly wonderful. I am going to pledge to be a better postcard writer for the year 2010. Sure it is easy to write an email or text. Or maybe even take a picture and send it, but writing a postcard is a lost art that I would love to bring back in full force! Thank you Alex...and thank you for your travels!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Oh how I love the Holidays!!

Remember how I wrote in one of my previous blogs that I was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner?? Well, it was FANTASTIC! Or, as I said to my friend, we will know for sure if we are in the clear in about 4 hours. I always worry about the turkey and whether or not it was actually done...but I think we are good.

So, here was our menu...22 lb turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, Brussels sprouts, stuffing, gravy, 2 kinds of cranberries, rolls, apple pie, berry pie, pumpkin pie and persimmon cake. The turkey took a little longer than expected. But, thankfully, we were well stocked in the wine department. Everyone seemed to go with the flow and that made for one very happy and thankful host.

I love the holidays. I love having friends and family over for a festive day of eating, playing and watching football! Honestly, just thinking about it makes me smile. And there is something super special about Thanksgiving. I actually got a little teary eyed tonight cause I took it all in and really watched my kids, my family, my hubby and my friends. I watched them hanging out in my house and I was very touched. I am truly lucky and I know it. I am thankful everyday day for days like today!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I am swelling with pride!

Today was a big day. I am not sure if my daughter feels it by her dad and I sure do. It is so much fun watching your kids grow and develop into people. Do you know what I mean? Like you can see a glimpse at 3 what they are going to be like when they are 10. That is what I felt today and it was fun.

Let me start by saying the I was as shy as a kid could be. I clung to my mom's leg everywhere we went. Until one day when we were on the plane to go to my grandma's house in Nebraska. There was bad weather so the plane was waiting at the gate. The flight attendant asked if any kids wanted to sing Christmas carols. Before my mom could blink, I was half-way up the aisle. She was in shock. This was very out of character. I grabbed the intercom and sang "White Christmas". Hilarious, huh?! Why couldn't I have chosen "Rudolph" or "Here Comes Santa Claus". Anyway, that was my big "break out of the shell" moment. My daughter's came today.

See, my daughter is a lot like me when I was her age. In fact, when we got to her preschool today for the Thanksgiving Feast, she was clinging to my leg and didn't want to parade out with her class...crying cause she didn't want to. Well, after about 30 minutes, a plate of turkey, a cookie and a brownie, that shy girl disappeared.

What I didn't know about today's feast was that the kids were going to sing on stage with their class. Once I heard this I asked Skye if she was ready and excited. She didn't answer my question but went right into her own..."Where is the stage?" "Is the stage dark?" "How big is the stage, mom?" I tried to answer her very funny and thoughtful questions and I guess it was sufficient cause she became "off the charts" excited.

The classes performed one by one. Skye is in classroom 3 of 3. So, we had to wait and wait. It didn't take long but she was bouncing in her chair. I was truly amazed at all of this. I watched her closely as the head teacher announced classroom 3. She jumped out of her seat and thread her way to the stage so she could be right in front. She was all smiles from that moment on. She sang the words of the songs, often times really over enunciating. It was fabulous.

I just watched her and smiled. I was half in shock and half completely amazed. My shy little daughter had turned into a stage hog! It was hilarious and fabulous all at once. Most importantly, I was really proud of her. This was a big deal and I wanted her to know that I understood that. She was all smiles after the big moment and quickly announced that she would like to do another concert for the family on Thanksgiving. I am sure I won't have to twist anyone's arm. Especially mine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh my...what a performance!

I am often calling my son the Oscar Winner. Sometimes I feel like I should have named him Oscar instead of Charles Robert. My son is just now starting to understand his FULL power. And by "full power" I mean his ability to really throw a tantrum. You know the full body kind. He falls to his knees with such drama, then throws is head and hands down and forward then falls flat and rolls around...all this while holding a steady cry. It is truly amazing how he can keep it all together. Rolling and crying...rolling and crying.

There are many times when I have to turn my head so he doesn't see me cracking up. He puts on quite the show, if I let him. But what I choose to do in these situations is tell him that I am not going to watch until he is done. I then proceed to ignore him until he has decided that the "show" is over. Lately, this only takes a couple of minutes. Of course, this all depends on hunger level and tired level. If those levels are elevated than the tantrum could last longer and might need a little interference.

As of late, most of his tantrums are the cause of not getting what he my cell phone. The cell phone is not 100% off limits because he somehow connected to 911 when I had locked my phone. All I heard was this loud "HELLO", "Hello". I immediately grabbed the phone and said, "HI." She said, "This is 911." I quickly told her my son had made the call and that I was sorry. Her reply was quick and rightfully harsh, "Ma am, take the phone away from your son." I felt like I had just gotten busted by my 5th grade teacher.

Anyway, the phone causes these tantrums. When it happened today my husband asked if he thought we should put him in time-out and I told him that I think he is gunning for attention...any kind of attention. Therefore, if we give him time-out attention, then he has succeeded and will do it more, but if we completely ignore it maybe he will eventually find it boring and move onto other things.

We seem to like the plan so far. For now we will continue to monitor the skills of our budding actor and try our best not to laugh...ok, maybe just a little...out of love, course.

Why I love Auqaphor...for everything!

If you are a mom, then you probably know the name "Aquaphor". You find it in the baby section of any grocery or drug store. I was given the heads up about it from my friend Beth while I was pregnant with my first kid. I never forgot the name or what she said. "I use Aquaphor for everything from chapped lips to a baby's diaper rash." She was right!

It could possibly be my favorite cure all. It has been used for so many things in our house. From dry skin to, yes, bootie is my go to skin repair ointment. It is odorless and simple and it works.

As the winter is approaching, I seem to be using it more than my kids. I massage it into my cuticles at night. I also rub it into my elbows and other dry parts of my person. Sometimes I get an irritated section on my, at night, I put a dab of aquaphor on it.

My kids know it by name. They know that if they have anything wrong with them, they can put Aquaphor on it and it will be all better. My daughter even puts some on her baby dolls. It is pretty funny. I think I might be turning into the father from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". You know, the one that thinks Windex is the cure all. But I truly believe in it. My son had REALLY dry skin when he was born and I would slather him in it after a went away. I also use it for diaper rash and they know it won't hurt. Chapped wintertime repairs without a fuss. You name it, Aquaphor will fix it. Ok, maybe not everything but darn close.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My take on TV and my kids.

Let's be honest here. I love TV. I have all of my fav TV shows DVRed and ready to watch as soon as the kids go to sleep. So, how could I ever be one of those parents who denies their kids the joy of TV. I want to, however, make it perfectly clear that I am not writing this to be judgmental. I believe that every parents decision is a good one when it comes to TV. I am writing what I feel about me and my parenting decisions.

So, if I watch TV, I can't keep my kids from it. Similar to the fact that I love sweets so I can't keep them from sweets. I can teach moderation and only give them choices that I think are appropriate and from there, they can make the decision.

When it comes to TV my husband and I have several programs that we think are appropriate. Several are from PBS. "Sesame Street", "Sid the Science Kid" and "Curious George" to name a few. We try to set our DVR so that we always have fresh ones to turn on in a time of need. We also dig "Handy Manny", "Blue's Clues" and "Little Einsteins".

The cool thing about these programs is there aren't any commercials and they teach kids something. They are all so different with their subject matter and their teaching and entertaining models. I actually feel like my kids take away so much from these programs.

In the end, I do think it is okay to use the TV as a babysitter. I like to put on a program if they are rowdy before dinner or when they first wake up. We will snuggle up to a movie if the weather is awful and everyone is tired in the afternoon. It really comes down to those 2 major things I said earlier. How often and what programs? We make sure to keep TV watching to an hour or an hour-and-a-half a day. And we try to make sure the programs are educational. A lot more than I can say for myself...unless you would consider "Weeds" and "Grey's Anatomy" educational. Might be a strech!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The things I should have given away years ago.

I will never forget the day I wore my favorite holiday pants. It was my first Christmas party post divorce and I was feeling free and happy. I threw a small little get together with about 20 people or so. I hadn't put too much thought into my whole outfit but I bought these pants especially for this big night. They were red velvet. Yes, they were red velvet, tight and I thought I was sexy. That must be why I have kept them all these years.

My red velvet pants are just one example of the many items in my closet that need to exit but have somehow made it through every other cut. I feel like they were at a football training camp...they were the "walk-ons" and somehow, they just kept sneakin by until, UT finally saw um.

Today I did it. I made my final cuts. At least for 2009. And I went deep. I went for the nice stuff, the black tie stuff that I swore would last forever. You know, when you are struggling with the price at the store you tell yourself, "But this dress is timeless. It will always be in style." I have really only found that to be true for a great coat and the perfect black suit. Other than those two items, I don't know if I believe the statement anymore.

I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to get rid of and in turn, give away a ton of this stuff. Because although I haven't worn it in awhile, I know someone else will LOVE it. So take a second, as the holidays approach and go through everything in your closet. Even those timeless things might need to take a hike from your life. You never know, it might open the door for a new item to fill that hanger in your closet.
Oh yeah, and as for my red velvet pants, they are now in my costume box...some things are just too good to give away.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Running with my girlfriends is better than therapy!

I started running the moment I retired from swimming in 1993. I have loved it from that first moment until now, for so many reasons. Obviously, I love the way it works my bod and I love the feeling of really sweating but it goes way beyond the physical.

At Stanford, there is a really easy, fun and fairly quick run called "the campus loop". It is about 4-5 miles, it is completely flat and it circles the Stanford campus(one of the most beautiful campuses on earth). I used to run this all the time with my bff Heidi. Thinking about those runs makes me smile as I am typing this. We would discuss EVERYTHING during our, guys, parties, gossip, basically just life! When we were finished, we loved the fact that we got a great workout but we felt REALLY good cause we had just had a serious "clearing of the head" session. Like therapy.

There is one thing I know for sure about me and running. I think more while I run. My mind works in overdrive. Sometimes, while I am by myself, I will stop and write myself an email so I don't forget all the things I had come up with on my run. I don't think I am alone in this. Many of my friends, beyond Heidi, love to chat and that order.

Heidi is now living in LA and I don't get to run with her as often as needed. She will still call me every now and then while she is walking and we will have an awesome hour long conversation. But with 4 kids between the 2 of us, that doesn't happen often enough. I have some girlfriends in Park City who I run with that are great listeners and awesome chatters. I went out today with one of them and she let me go on and on about life and several things that are happening in my world. She was such a wonderful sounding board. Honestly, isn't that really what therapy is??

I love my running therapy sessions. They don't happen during every run but when they do, it is such a relief. Thank goodness for girlfriends. Thank goodness for my runs. Thank goodness for chatty girlfriends who like to run. If only therapists would read my blog...they might consider putting a treadmill in their office. Now there is an idea!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Giving up to give to others

The holiday season is right around the corner. Something happens every year...i think the calendar is shorten from November to the end of December as it jams on by. That is why I thought I would talk about giving and gifts now.

In my family, we would often buy gifts for a family in need. We would find out their sizes and needs and have a great family outing of shopping and giving. It is something I will never forget and it has stuck with to this day. I make sure to continue my dad's lesson even now in my life. I pull names off the little tree at the grocery store or at Macy's. I love the idea that I just might make a kid really happy during the holidays.

It actually doesn't take a lot. You don't need to spend a ton of money to accomplish this act of giving. What I generally do is give up one of my gifts to give to someone else. I also try to do this with the kids so that they understand the whole idea around the holidays. (and believe me, they get too many gifts anyway.) This is kinda why I am bringing this up. How many gifts do we really need? If we have a want, isn't it usually just one thing... you know, one thing you are just dying for. So, if you took everything else off your list and gave those gifts or the money that would have gone towards those gifts and bought for someone else, imagine what you could do!

I will talk about these charities more as we get even closer to the holidays but here are a few of my favorites to take a look at...
The Heifer Foundation
Right To Play

All three of these organizations are absolutely awesome in their own right. They each provide a different means of giving and are super established and trustworthy. I guess my point to you 12 people following my blog is that people need us this holiday season. Give them the gift of a gift...maybe one of your own.

Monday, November 16, 2009 vaccinate or not...that is the question.

This is the beginning of a long and arduous debate. I know what I am going to do with regards to my kids but I am still torn as to how the information is presented to parents these days. It is REALLY difficult for a parent to make a fully educated decision on the subject since every practitioner out there has a legal obligation to tell their patient to vaccinate. Or am I making it too simple?

But you get what I am saying, right? A doctor can't tell you not to get the vaccine for fear that your child will come down with swine flu and become extremely sick. So, to cover their butts, they advice everyone to get it...why not?! Well, I don't know about all of these vaccines. What about the mercury levels in this particular vaccine. Shouldn't parents be worried about that?

I want my kids to be safe and I know that I chose to put them in their car seats for that reason, but comparing the H1N1 vaccine to a seat belt seems kinda absurd. That is what a doctor did, he said that giving my kid the vaccine is like putting their seat belt on. The choice of safety. Hmm...I don't think there are any side effects to seat belts. And, I think seat belts are pretty darn proven. There is a lot of research to prove it. As far as these vaccine's go, I think a bit more research is warranted.

I vaccinate my kids. I do believe in many vaccines. But I also don't want to go overboard. I mean, when you think about it, were the chicken pox that bad? I got to stay home from school when my brother had them just so I would get them myself. When are we protecting too much? I let my son and daughter ride their trike and fall so that they know how to recover the next time. When is that the case with their health? I don't know the answers but I think a discussion on this topic is a healthy one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Life without my blackberry...does it exist?

Seriously, I am tired of it. But in the same breath, I have no choice. I am at the mercy of my blackberry. It has all my numbers and all my contacts. Honestly, I don't think I can go to the bathroom without checking with my blackberry first. It controls my every move. I only know about 10 numbers by heart. And those are of the people who NEVER change their number! Like my dad, who has had the same number for 30 years.

The other day, just as my hubby and I had boarded the plane with our two toddlers, I had a panic attack. UT OH...where was my phone. We had just sat down in our seats and they had immediately closed the doors. There was no turning back and I must admit, I was freaking out a bit. I searched and searched but didn't find it. I even asked my husband to break the rules and call it. No sound of the ring. What was I going to do?

See, I had already lost it once this year. In January, I stepped out for a quick trip to IKEA (does quick and IKEA work in the same sentence?) Somewhere from checkout to my car my cell phone went missing. I knew it while I was driving but I got myself locked into the 405 and that was the end of it. It mysteriously vanished, never to be found again. So could I really take losing it again or was I done with cell phones for good? Then, it hit me. I checked the kids diaper bag and there it was. 15 minutes of panic and the little bugger was back in my hands.

The crazy thing is that I have these little panic attacks about 3 times a week. The frantic search through the purse, while driving nonetheless. You know what I am talking about...unless you live in NYC. But still, how many times have you left it on a counter at the store or post office. It is an awful feeling. I always say to myself, "why don't I back up my information?"

Let's go back to the question as it is a good one...can I survive with out my blackberry? Would I be able to pull out my address book or wear a watch again. How would I be able to wake up on time or add things on the spot? The good thing is that I guess I will wait until the next time I lose it to find out.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Compromise in the bedroom

This is not the blog you think it is. This is not about sex. This is about sleep. Everyone has a certain optimal sleep environment. You know, either super quiet or with some white noise to soothe you off to your slumber. I am the one who can fall fast asleep in any condition.

When I say anywhere, I mean anywhere. I once fell asleep at the front of a water skiing boat. I have fallen asleep while sitting in the make-up chair and while getting my hair done. Basically, what I am saying is that if I am tired enough, I can fall asleep standing up.

When my hubby and I first started dating, we both didn't seem to mind sleeping with noise or without. That is until I brought my dog to stay with us. I have a Beagle named Smalls and he likes to lick. Actually he LOVES to know, "because he can." The only problem is that he licks and licks and licks all night long. Oh yeah, and he snores like a drunken sailor! My hubby just couldn't take it.

One day he came home with a humidifier and he immediately fell in love with the white noise. In fact, he became dependent upon it. I didn't mind it until we had kids. Once we had kids, then I became super sound dependent. I needed to be able to hear the kids. The funny thing was that when the humidifier was on, my mind would play tricks on me and I would hear the kids crying when they were not.

We finally had a sit down. After several little battles, we came up with a wonderful compromise. He would turn on the humidifier to medium only and then turn it off if he left the room early. It was almost perfect. And then the humidifier broke. Ut-oh. I was secretly stoked but the hubby was pretty bummed. Smalls was still at it and it was driving him crazy.

We are now all set up with a brand new air purifier that makes a very smooth sound. I can hear the kids and he can't hear the licking! Now if we could only get more than 6 hours of sleep...maybe when we retire.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Let your kids be dangerous!

Today was a great day. We were outside, kicking the ball, running through leaves and climbing rocks. The sun was shining and it was unseasonable warm. Nothing but love, fun and danger all around us. See, my son loves to be dangerous. I know this cause he told me so, today.

We were standing at the foot of a huge rock. We were watching some grown-ups rock climbing. You know, with the professional shoes and hand chalk. My son said that he wanted to do that..."I DO THAT" were his exact words. I explained while smiling that he might have to wait for a few years (he is only 22 months). I said to him, "Are you dangerous?" And he quickly replied, "Yes. I dangerous." I wasn't the only one who heard this or the only one who laughed. It was adorable and he said it with such a serious face. So I took him to a part of the rock that I felt he could tackle.

We started on a nice incline and then he had to go to all fours. It didn't take him very long but he did it...all by himself. He reminded me of the "all by myself" part about every other step as he was swatting my helping hand away. When we got to the top, he was beyond proud of himself. I was pretty nervous most of the way up the rock but when I saw how much he needed to challenge himself and be dangerous, I knew the only thing I could do was support him.

My job, as the mom of a danger boy, according to my pediatrician, is to let him explore and be there to protect his head. We have to let our children be dangerous within reason. We have to let them fall and learn from their mistakes. We can still hold our breath when we get nervous, we can still beg them to be careful but we can't keep them from running, climbing and jumping for danger joy!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We finally got rid of our lemon!

Can I tell you how good it feels to get rid of a car that has really only brought you trouble? It is an amazing weight off our shoulders. Don't get me wrong, I loved the car when we first got it, but we had only owned it for 48 hours when we had our first problem with it.

The car was our Audi All-Road. They are wonderful cars and are excellent in snow. We live in a ski town so I was super set on getting one. Ours came from a used car lot...and honestly, I don't blame the dealer, I blame bad luck. I do feel like a car is either a lemon or a good one. We unfortunately scored the big old lemon.

Our first problem was the tire alignment. No big deal except on an Audi. There are these little marbles that are in the wheel and apparently one of them fell out. WHAT?! Anyway, we fixed it and it actually never felt fixed but we kept on. One thing after another fell apart, the front suspension, the back suspension, the brakes, the locks, the front window and countless other fixes over the 3 years we owned it. The real bummer was the fact that we couldn't get most of these things fixed anywhere except at the dealer. We live 40 minutes from the dealer. WHAT?!

I think it took us about 2 years to come to terms with the fact that we got a good car in need of a lot of repairs. Two weeks ago we made the tough decision to sell it to a dealer for a third of what we paid for it originally. It is amazing how quickly cars depreciate. In the end we felt like the constant annoyance from tons of little repairs was something we didn't want to deal with the loss was worth it.

At some point you just have to cut your losses and move on. Start fresh and keep your fingers crossed for one of the good ones.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Traveling with slippers.

I travel often. Not as much as I used to but when I leave home, I miss it more now than ever before. So, when I do leave home, I try to pack a few things that make me feel closer to the ones I love. I pack plenty of pictures, a warm cozy wrap and my slippers.

Don't get me wrong, if I am gone for a day, I don't do this but if I am gone for 4 days or more, this is a no brainer. There is something about my slippers that instantly make me feel like I am chilling at home. In the winter time, I immediately put them on before heading downstairs for my morning coffee. They are warm and cozy but are also durable enough to handle a few trips outside. There are days, when I am lucky enough to wear them around for hours. But mostly, they get me through my morning and that is it.

The strange thing is that most people consider slippers a luxury. You know, if you have enough time to put your slippers on, you must have plenty of free time. And when you are on the road, you rarely have free time. But I am suggesting you pack them, even if for a the possibility of snuggling up for a second to remember home.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cleaning beyond the surface

Before I had kids, I never really understood the need for carpet cleaning. We moved into our current house a little over 2 years ago and the carpets were cleaned right when we moved in. They still looked a bit dirty but I wasn't very concerned.

It wasn't until a year later that I realized you can get a good carpet cleaning and a FABULOUS carpet cleaning. Stains that were even worse after the first cleaning were absolutely gone after the second cleaning. It was eye opening to say the least. And, it grossed me out a bit too.

I now have a new appreciation for the world of carpet cleaning. I am committed to getting them cleaned every year or so. I can actually see where we walk the most in the house. It is like there is a race track down the middle of the hallway. And, we take our shoes off when we enter the house. Imagine what it would be like if we didn't.

We spend a lot of time and energy dusting and disinfecting. Now it is time we get down to the nitty gritty and really clean our houses.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Colgate Wisps

I am in love with a new product and I need to share it with you. Let me start with a many times do you wish you could brush your teeth on the spot? You know, in the car, on the plane, before a meeting. I am right there with you. Fresh breath and clean feeling teeth can do wonders for your confidence.

Colgate has these new little toothbrushes. My friend was using them one night and honestly, they looked pretty fun. I kept looking at her brushing her teeth and was so intrigued. The next day, she handed me a pack full. They are called Colgate Wisps. They are little toothbrushes with a little dollop of toothpaste. On the other end is a little plastic pointy piece to get things out of your teeth. How convenient and thoughtful!

I know I have written about oral hygiene before but this is actually bordering on FUN oral hygiene. They are so cute and have such a great purpose that it goes beyond healthy gums.
Here's to fresh breath.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How long with the Halloween candy!

Oh my, we are in candy overload! It is truly amazing how much candy kids get on Halloween. I guess I did as well, back in the 70's, but it never seemed enough when I was 7! Now, as a parent, I am trying to slyly stash away the excess so that I don't have to battle the constant requests longer than I have to. (and I might steal a few as well) But what kind of rules should be established. Here is what I have laid down.

We don't hide the Halloween baskets, we keep them out on the counter. The kids ask me often if they can have a special treat from their basket. The answer is always the same. They get a treat after they eat all their lunch or dinner. I also use the candy as a way to keep them in line. This might be an overuse of candy power but it is extremely effective.

For instance, tonight, Skye was whining, crying and throwing a tantrum. I said to her that if she didn't pull it together and start listening to me, I would throw all her Halloween candy away. And, you know what, I meant it. She straightened up and had a great last 20 minutes before bed. I usually keep the candy around for a few weeks and then it gets tossed without their knowledge. They don't seem to mind.

I will never keep my kids from eating candy but I will do my best to teach them the art of moderation. Everything in moderation has always been my philosophy.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thanksgiving dinner.

I have offered to make Thanksgiving dinner this year. GULP!! I have taken on this task 3 times in my life, so far. All of them have been mostly successful. By "mostly" I mean, the turkey was decent and the desert was fantastic.

I do take a deep breath when thinking about delivering a mighty meal for everyone. I know that the most important part of Thanksgiving is family, but dinner is a close second. There are many people who skip breakfast and lunch so they can chow down come dinner time. So, if the dinner sucks, there is no way for them to hide their disappointment.

A few things I have learned about preparing Thanksgiving dinner are order a much bigger bird than needed (notice I said ORDER...yes, you do need to order), stick to normal mashed potatoes, keep the veggies simple, delegate dishes to other people and if you have time, make a homemade pie(it just tastes better). I know that is a lot to take in. I will expand on this. The bird needs to continue to deliver up to 2 days post Thanksgiving for sandwiches and such. Mashed potatoes with milk, butter and salt are so yummy, why change them. After all the fattening foods, it is good to know that you are taking in some good-for-you veggies. When it comes to dishes that you don't have specific recipes for, ask someone else to make them and bring them. For instance, sweet potatoes, cranberries or creamed corn. When it comes to pie, I am that person who saves up for the dessert. Therefore, I want to deliver the best. There is a great feeling of satisfaction when you can actually make your own pie crust!

Try your best not to stress, but when you do, trust that I will be stressing as well. Enjoy the cooking ride and make sure to savor your lovely meal. Smile when you are done as someone else will be in charge of dishes! Happy Turkey Day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Family game night.

I am just gonna come right out with it. We don't play enough games. We don't play enough board games. We don't play enough card games. I remember playing some serious card and board games with my family. In fact, I remember my dad teaching us how to play poker...7 card stud and 5 card draw. We had the full set up with chips and everything.

We also used to have serious board game tournaments. We would open up Monopoly or Sorry and go at it for hours. These games taught us about winning and about losing. They also taught us about strategy and luck. Winning at these games is partly luck, you know. Plus as an added benefit, we improved our math skills. These are all important things for children to learn and the socialization part of playing games with others is much better than playing games on a computer or TV by yourself. Having a family game night or a rainy day tournament is fun and a great way to have some quality family time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh my sleepy head.

How happy would you be if you could get 2 more hours of sleep a night? I know I would be pretty darn thrilled. I don't know where the time goes but I do know that I am tired quite often. In fact, I am tired more than I am refreshed. Don't you remember the days when you could nap on Sunday's? Sounds pretty great, huh? But, alas, there are a few things you can do to put some pep in your step.

First of all, did you know that the more hours of sleep that you get before midnight counts so much more. If you can get to sleep by 10 pm, it is like getting a few extra hours of sleep a night. I don't really know the reasoning behind it but I believe it. I have been going to bed pretty late, lately and no matter what time I get up, I never feel fully rested.

Read a book instead of watching television. I am guilty of this every night. I love watching a little boob tube before catching my zzz's but it can get your brain going rather than slowing it down. How many times have you had a dream that was a variation of what you were watching right before you fell asleep? TV gets your mind going where as reading calms you down. In fact, sometimes I am so tired, I can barely make it through two pages. It seems to put me in the right zone of calm so that I fall right to sleep.

Another great trick to help your body feel rested when you wake up is to drink water before you go to bed. Being dehydrated can zap you of energy and make you feel lethargic. I always have a glass or bottle of water next to my bed. If you don't finish it before bed, make sure to down it when you wake up. It is like super-charged fuel for your body.

Remember that sleep is the way our body recharges. We need to treat our body with care or we will pay the price later on. Be good to yourself and get some sleep.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where was I before my blackberry?

Honestly, this is crazy. People can get me no matter where I am and no matter what I am doing. They can call me or email. There is no longer the excuse of, "I was away from my phone." It doesn't work. And now, they can get you with a text and an email. There is no hiding. And I am kinda addicted.

I became a blackberry user in 2001. It was one of those rectangle ones. Early users will remember. It was just for email...and, maybe an alarm. Now, I have the curve, or something like that. I don't keep up on the stats of it, I just know it is red and I am lost without it.

It has all of my information. Isn't that a little scary? What if I lose it (which I have)? What if someone steals all my info? (which they haven't, I think). I like the fact that I have a mini computer that I can take with me anywhere, but I don't like that it is as attached to me as my arm. And, if it does go missing, which happens at least 2 times per day, I am frantic until I find it.

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with this thing. I think it is brilliant technology but there is no getting away from it. What do we do? I guess every now and then, we all need to take a break from our blackberry's. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Right?!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mommies and the "3 second rule".

I trust that everyone reading this is very familiar with the 3 second rule. Just in case, it is a rule that most mom's live by with regards to food that has fallen on the ground. If the food has been on the ground less than 3 seconds, it is still safe to eat. If we tried to take this kind of food from our children, we would be in constant motion for the first 3 years of their life.

The really funny thing about this rule is that I find that I am living by this rule as well. The other day, I dropped an M&M on the floor, picked it up and put it in my mouth. I was out in a public store. A woman saw me and said with a smile, "3 second rule, huh?" I looked at her, smiled and nodded. Her comment made me think about how often I do this. I don't seem to care as much about my culinary hygiene or something. Or, maybe, I am just too busy and tired to care. Either way, I think it is hilarious.

I think I stopped really caring about germs as much as I used to when I saw my son licking the floor of a Target store. Yes, I was shopping with my mom and I turned to look at something she was showing me. I turned for maybe 2 seconds and when I turned back, my son was laying down on the floor licking and licking. Yes, that is officially gross and it is when I threw my hands up and stopped worrying so much. When you think about, 3 seconds or 1 minute, it touched the ground so the big question is, how hungry are you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My daughter and her first Broadway experience.

She wasn't sure she was going to love "Shrek the Musical" until she saw the farting scene with Fiona (she calls her Fiuna) and Shrek. Once she caught wind of that (haha) she was hooked. In fact, that is all she wanted to see. Until the night before, that is. The night before, she became quite nervous about the dragon. She was worried that the dragon would come off the stage and might actually "get her". Once we arrived at the theater, she became very interested in all the souvenirs that were available for purchase. We settled on the Gingerbread Man puppet. Once inside and safely in our seats, she became very interested in the stage. The curtain and sides were decorated as as if they were trees. There were both shiny and dark colored leaves on the curtain--which to a 3 year old looked very much like eyes--imagine her relief when told they were leaves and not eyes. When the music started, I moved her to sit on the arm rest so she could see better. She loved the beginning and sat perfectly still for most of the first half. When the dragon came on, she covered her head with her blanket so she couldn't see it, but slowly she lowered it and before long she announced very proudly that it wasn't scary at all. She was gaining confidence. She loved the whole thing, but particularly liked the fairy tale characters, the burping and farting scene and--yep--that's right--the dragon. Oh, yes, and she was most anxious to see Fiona and Shrek kiss at their wedding. This was a wonderful experience for her and something she is still talking about. It also taught her the difference between a play and a movie--which I never realized was such a hard concept to grasp. We both learned something.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sharing a room brings siblings together.

When we go on vacation, my kids share a room. My son is usually in a pac-n-play and my daughter is usually in a bed. We try to read to both of them together and then put them together at the same time. When we do this, I think it comforts them both knowing that they are not alone.

In fact, they become quite chatty when we put them down for a nap or bedtime. My son can't really put sentences together but somehow they carry on quite the conversation. On and on they giggle and chat and giggle and chat. They will do this, sometimes for up to 40 minutes. We go in there often to remind them that they need to close their eyes and go to sleep but deep in my heart, I think it is adorable.

I always notice a change in their relationship after they bunk together. They bond and their friendship grows deeper. I think part of the reason is because they get their own personal time together where they can do things that mommy and daddy can't see. It is as if they are compiling their "inside jokes". And I think that is so cute.

It is touching to watch them grow as brother and sister. I love traveling with my kids so they are put in situations where they have to adapt. I believe it teaches them so much about patience and helps them become well-rounded kids. But knowing that they are becoming closer as siblings is what makes our trips together so special.

Take a load off.

I don't think I can properly describe the weight of my purse. First of all, it is so big, I could actually fit a kitchen sink in it. Seriously! I carry it everywhere and yet it weighs approximately 35 lbs. I have asked people to pass me my purse and as they pick it up, they immediately look at me like I am nuts. They always ask me, "What is in your purse?" And I always answer, "Too much of 'I don't know'."

And that is the truth. I really don't know what is in my purse...or shall I say, I didn't know what was in my purse until I tried to find my phone one particular day. I was at a stop light and fumbling through my purse when I found everything but my phone. I found an extremely old bag of apples, a diaper, a pair of my daughter's underwear and several other mommy items. And then eventually I found my phone. I sat there laughing because the funniest part of this story is that I was on a business trip at the time.

At that moment, I vowed to clean out my purse once a week. I have done it ever since. I try to clean it out every Sunday. It is truly amazing how much s%&* you can accumulate in one week of shopping, snacking and mommying. I also try to organize my things. I have 3 little purses within the mother purse. The little versions hold lipsticks, coupons and money.

When I am done going through my purse it is as if I have just showered after camping for the weekend. Not only does it take the weight off my shoulders (literally and figuratively) but I feel so much more organize and on top of things. Don't get me wrong, I still spend way too much time searching for my cell phone, but I can't blame it on the random apples and diapers anymore.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Being competitive is okay

Why are we so afraid to teach our kids to win or to lose. Why does everyone win? Why are we all winners? I remember getting 3rd in my first race when I was 4 years old. I don't remember everyone getting first. I remember my brother either "winning" his soccer game or "losing" his soccer game. Now, everyone wins. Believe me, I would love to see the joy on my kids face all the time of being the winner but the lesson learned from losing is so much more important.

I was treated the same whether I won a race or lost a race. I actually think my dad never knew what happened in my swimming until I was about 14. But the one thing that would always get my parents attention was if I was acting like a sore loser or a spoiled brat. One time, when I was about 7 years old, I swam my race and cruised into the finish thinking I had won. What I didn't know was that a girl on the other side of the pool had touched the wall before me. I hadn't seen her. I got out of the pool and threw a bit of a fit claiming that the timers were wrong. I was telling this to my mom who shook her head and simply said, "Summer, you just didn't see her." She then started to laugh. Soon, I did too. I learned a lesson and I knew that I didn't win. I got second.

Loser, for some reason, has such a bad picture attached to it. Loser, to me, is someone who tried but didn't win. The most important part being that they tried. What are we teaching our kids if we don't teach then the real truth in trying? The truth is that someone will always win and the others will not. Maybe there are other goals that we can focus on so that not all of the importance is place on the big 'W'.

In swimming, I always based my results on my times. I had goal times for almost every race and if I met those times, it was then a good race. Goals like this keep things in perspective. In youth sports, little goals like staying in position in soccer or stealing the ball in basketball could come in handy. Breaking a sport down into little pieces so that you realize there are plenty of things to be proud of while learning to deal with a "win or lose" is important.

Most importantly, if your kids team wins or loses, life needs to be the same. There should be a big party either way. Or, you can just go about your day. Besides, what you are really celebrating is that your kids were competitive and good sports. That is all we can ask for.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The eye-o-gram. For those who can't figure out make-up.

My girlfriend, Delilah, who owns and operates Splendor, in Park City, UT can make applying make-up look easy. I have always loved the way make-up looks when it is displayed on the counters. I love how perfect it is and how brilliant the colors look but I have no clue what to do with it. Absolutely no clue. This is all about to change.

Delilah is going to draw me and EYE-ogram. Get it, a diagram for the eye. Anyway, she is going to show me in a "paint by numbers" kinda way how to make my eyes look lovely. This is a diagram that I will get to take with me and keep in my make-up kit at all times. I don't expect to memorize it right away. Not even close. I am sure I will use it a ton and I am so excited. I have wanted to learn how to do make-up for years but I have either been to lazy or to busy.

When I was younger, I didn't have enough time in the morning to add "make-up application" to my schedule. I was up at 4:07am, swam, went to school, swam, ate, did homework and then dropped into bed to do it all over again the next morning. Not much room for make-up, in my day or in my bag. I went to school with my hair wet and came home with my hair wet. I guess I was partly comfortable in my skin and partly uncomfortable with my lack of make-up knowledge.

Then, I got into television and people would do my make-up for me. I would sit there and often times fall asleep in the chair so I didn't really take notes during the application period. But, in my defense, we are talking about the eyes and it is pretty difficult to watch someone apply make-up to your eyes. So, I never really got it. I can apply foundation, mascara, eyeliner, and lip gloss but everything else is a foreign language to me.

As a mom, I long to learn and I love looking pretty when I can. Delilah has promised to keep it simple and make me look sexy but myself. The most important thing, I think, is to get instructions that are reasonable so that you can keep it up. Anything too complicated will give me the hives and keep me from trying it. So, watch out hubby. I am gonna get some smokey eyes going for our next date night....or so I hope. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Teach your boys to hug and kiss!

I am a little biased but I have to say that I have a very sweet little boy. He is loving and caring and will hug and kiss just about anybody. He gives kisses to me, his sister, his dad and to any family member or friend. He knows the difference between right and wrong and I think he wants to do right way more than he wants to do wrong.

He is all boy, though. He is rough and tough and kicks and hits and bites. But underneath all of that, he is loving. I see my job, as his mom, is to teach him what is right and what is wrong but to also teach him how to be a loving little boy who will hopefully grow into a loving young man.

I thought about this one day when I saw him give his daddy a big, fat, wet kiss on the lips. I thought it was so cute and I asked my husband when he stopped kissing his own dad. He stopped for a second and said, "I don't know. But I still give him a kiss on the cheek." It isn't about the kissing as much as it is the hugging and understanding the reason behind it. I want my kids to want to hug, and with boys, I think you have to teach them.

Often times, we teach our boys to give high fives or knuckles but I love my hugs and I always ask my friend's kids for a hug goodbye. Whenever my son has done something wrong, I take him to timeout and when he is done, I ask him to go give the person he wronged a hug. My daughter loves when she is at the other end of this. Actually, I do as well. A simple hug can make someone feel so good. What little boy wouldn't love to do that?

Thank goodness for Lollipops!

What would I do without the bank and car wash? You might think I am nuts but I love the fact that these two place seem to understand the job of "mom". It is always halloween at these two places. Whenever I say to my kids that we are going to the bank or the car wash they immediately say, "LOLLIPOP!"

Now, I know many parents who say they do not use candy as bribery but I am not one of those parents. I applaud those who stick to their guns and don't give into the candy cry. But, I love candy and feel like I would be a big hypocrite if I said they couldn't have any. Therefore, I am very fond of the bank and the car wash.

Many people don't understand how difficult it is for mom's to accomplish simple tasks during the day. The fact that at both the bank and the car wash I don't have to get out of the car and the fact that they give my kids treats is amazing. I try to alternate between the two so that we are not having candy every day. After all, I do want them to be able to use their teeth when they are 5.

But the Lollipop is a little friend that comes to help me out when I am trying to knock a few things off of my list. If for some unknown reason your bank and car wash don't have little treats for the kids, ask them to help you out and start the lollipop program. Or maybe, if I was really responsible, I would ask for the sliced apple program. Either way, please Help Us Moms!

Words of Encouragement

Once again, we are all in this together. It is not easy to raise good, confident children. It tests our patience, our own confidence and our ability to make a decision. But it is good to know when your friends think you are doing a good job and when one tells you this, it goes a long, long way. I feel like I am a good mom. I know my kids love me. But when you hear kind words from someone else, who is also in the thick of it, it means so much.

The other day I had a conversation with my best friend and I was reminded of this. We both have 2 little kids, hers are a little older than mine. She is starting to make important decisions for her kids with regards to school and her own profession. These are very serious decisions and she takes them very seriously. The catch is that she is the only person who knows the answer. So, my job is to listen and let her know how I feel when asked. I was overwhelmed with telling her how great she is, both as a mom and as an inspiring friend. I went on to tell her how great her kids are and how much I admire all the efforts she has made for her kids so far. She was very touched. I mean, really touched. This is when I realized that we don't tell each other this enough. We need to give other moms praise out of the blue. Unsolicited compliments are the best.

The funny thing is that 15 years ago my best friend and I were really only concerned about sports, school, fellas and frat parties. We didn't need this kind of encouragement then. It is not that we are less confident now, it is that we need our friends even more than we did back then. The catch is, we have even less time to give than we did back then. Everything related to "ourselves" is much more valuable. So when you get to hear words of encouragement or positivity they mean that much more.

If you have a friend with toddlers and you think she is doing a good job, call her and tell her so. Out of the blue, make her feel good. Lift her spirits and refuel her mommy energy level. She will be so happy and surprised to hear it.

The Art of Cleaning Up

Well, it happened. The other day, I ran over my sons Spiderman scooter. Yes, I know, I am sooo glad it was only a scooter and not a person or animal. Thank goodness. But it was a tough lesson for a 21 month old to learn. And, it wasn't really a hard-core lesson as the scooter is still rideable. Hmmm, kinda wish is was mangled so that he could forever see what happens when he doesn't take care of his toys. I am wondering when they are capable of learning this concept. You mess it up, you clean it up.

We have started to make this a rule. Don't get me wrong, it isn't a pretty situation but we are starting. My daughter will help voluntarily but my son seems to conveniently have no clue what I am talking about. Well, the other day, the play-doh was not picked up and put away so, it was thrown away. Everyone knows you can't leave play-doh out overnight. Everyone, except a toddler.

Even at other kids houses, we try to clean up as much as we can before leaving. I already know that my kids are really good at playing with toys and messing things up. Now I want to give them the skills to be really good at cleaning up those very toys. I plan to build on this concept and rule. If I went for it at this stage of their lives I think we would be toyless in about a week but if I continue to teach them how to clean up and what is expected of them no matter where they are, that can only help them down the road. And, cleaning can be fun, right?!

Like most people, we make a game out of cleaning up. We either sing a fun song. The whole song includes about 2 words...mostly Clean and Up. They seems to like it. Or, we make it a contest. You know, "who can pick up more blocks and put them in this bucket??" Kids love that stuff. Personally, I think more things in general can be accomplished if you make it fun. They had fun taking the toys out, why not have fun putting them away.

Swim lessons year round.

I say to so many people that swim lessons are necessary, not a luxury. My daughter is in gymnastics, that is a luxury. She doesn't need to be in gymnastics to be safe running around a mat. She is in gymnastics because she wants to be...and because I told her she could if she stopped biting her nails. She stopped in 2 weeks flat, so she is in gymnastics. But swimming is a whole other bird. Even if a kid doesn't want to swim, they need to learn how because at some point in their life, swimming and being around water will seem like so much fun and the longer they wait the harder it is.

If my daughter is near water, she NEEDS to know how to swim. There is no exception to this rule. It is very hard to bring a kid to the pool who doesn't know how to swim or who is not in lessons. I can't wait until both of my kids are "pool safe". But most importantly, I want my kids to love and respect the water. This is what you learn through lessons. Many parents are on top of the whole lesson thing come springtime. They usually sign up for classes all through the summer and stop as soon as the weather changes. I am asking parents to reconsider this. Why not keep your kids in lessons during every season. Not every day, but maybe a few times a month.

I remember my mom telling me a story of when my brother jumped in the pool for the first time after the winter. He jumped in after swimming up a storm the previous summer. As soon as he jumped in she said that he came up in a panic yelling, "I forgot how to swim! I forgot how to swim!" My mom quickly yelled back to him, "Put your head in, move your arms and kick your legs." It suddenly all came back to him and he survived just fine.

If we keep our kids in lessons year round imagine how much more fun they will have every summer. I love watching my kids in the pool, exploring the water with confidence. With lessons, that is what will happen. Even if the snow is falling and the thought of jumping into the pool is enough for you to shiver, think of how great you will feel about all of your swim efforts come May....and your kids will thank you through their smiles in the pool.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why I love cereal and other healthy snacks.

Hi, my name is Summer and I am a snacker. I have snacks in my purse at all times. I blame it on being a mom but really I eat at least 50% of the snacks that I haul around. Most of the snacks in my purse are of the cracker and nut variety. I am a big almond and cashew fan. And when I am really on top of it, I will mix my nuts with some dried cherries and blueberries. Thank you Costco for the wonderful big bags of dried fruit!

But my go to snack, morning, noon and night is cereal. I love it. Now, I realize that it is not the ideal "on the go" snack but it is so fun to eat. I am sure you are questioning the whole fun to eat theory but it is and I will explain why I feel this way.

My addiction/obsession with cereal began in college. Don't get me wrong, I have always loved cereal but when I got to college it became a creative and fun snack as well. See, our sophomore year at Stanford, 6 of us girls all lived together in a dorm called "the suites". We loved it for so many reasons. We each had our tiny, little room and could hang out in our decent sized common room. But we LOVED it because we got to belong to an "eating club". Yes, it is just as it sounds. During the first week of school you would go around to the 4 different clubs connected to the suites and decide which style of food or vibe you liked better. I forget the one we decided on but I loved their cereal selection. It was at this point when I began to mix my cereals. I would mix 3 or 4 cereals in one bowl and create a masterpiece.

Hmmm...I am starting to sound very obsessed wasn't that bad. I just really liked the idea of mixing and I could never, for the life of me, figure out why it took me so long to do it. I was raised to put one type of cereal in my bowl in the morning. Putting 2 kinds in one bowl would have been kind of nuts. But the eating club changed all that forever.

Since college, I always mix my cereal. Always. For instance, if I am staying at a Hampton Suites and they have a buffet breakfast in the morning, I will take 2 or 3 different boxes of cereal and dump them in the same bowl. Crazy, huh?! You can't stop me. At home I go from the Cherrios and Quaker Oat Squares mixture to the Craklin Oat Bran and Grape-nuts mixture. But enough about the mixtures, let's get back to cereal as a great snack.

Cereal is not just for breakfast anymore. My kids often snack on cereal and I am totally fine with that. My daughter and I often have a cup of cereal before we go to bed. I love this as a healthy option to fuel yourself for a good night sleep. I am usually hungry before bed and this really helps me. It is such a better option than some ice cream and cookies(although I do that sometimes as well)

As parents, we need to have good snacks in the house. If you have the healthier snacks available and ready to go, kids are more likely to choose them. I know cereal is a sit down at the table snack but it is very easy to prepare. Make sure that your cereal choices are healthy and not sugary and you are ready to go. I don't think you can have too many boxes. We are consistently stocked at about 10 boxes.

No matter when, cereal is your belly's friend. Happy eating!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I am a runner and I love it.

There are several people in my life that don't get how I can love running as much as I do. I understand why they don't like hurts their knees and it is boring are their reasons. I, on the other hand, love almost everything about it.

I started running as soon as I stopped swimming. I have been a runner for 17 years. I can't believe that...I have been a runner as long as I was a competitive swimmer. I started swimming competitive when I was 4 and retired when I was 21. Crazy! I started with an awesome run at Stanford that was very simple and fairly easy, the "Campus Loop." There was absolutely no way of getting lost. Next came the spectacular run along the marina to the Golden Gate...I used to be able to touch the bridge(before 9/11) I later moved to Colorado and started running with my dogs which became a whole other kind of adventure and where I built up a great base because of the altitude. And for 9 years I was seen every day in Central Park, running the 6 mile loop. I love running in NYC! Now I am back at altitude in Park City, UT which is at 7500 ft.

I have literally run all over the world. I have run in Italy, France, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, New Zealand, Australia, Rwanda, South Africa, Mexico, Greece and all over the USA. It is the easiest and most convenient form of exercise because all you need are your shoes and and the open road! And there is no better way to get to know the town you are in than running it. I have found more local coffee shops and fun eating spots this way.

I don't race a bunch but I have run 2 NYC marathons, 3 half marathons and several 5 K's over the years. I try my best just to have fun with my races but who am I kidding, I am competitive to the end. Actually when I ran the NYC marathons, they were some of the best days of my life. I absolutely LOVED that challenge.

But when I think about running, I don't think about challenge or marathon or all the different countries and cities. I think about how wonderful it is to use my body to move and how lucky I am to be alive and healthy. It might sound cheesy but breathing in the fresh air and feeling your heart and lungs and legs and arms working all together is extraordinary. And most times, I am listening to some jammin music and loving it even more. Makes me wanna get on out there right now. Too bad it is 11pm. Guess it will have to wait till tomorrow. If you haven't tried running yet, try it, and if you have, try it again. I hope you love it like me.