Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nuggets of knowledge: Lessons from the folks who know…

About  Skiing…
When can I start my kids on the snow? How do I make it less stressful for me, the parent?  What are the top things to remember before you even attempt to get on those damn mittens?  Here they are, answers from the parents of three-time Olympic alpine skier Erik Schlopy, my husband, and NCAA champion Keri Schlopy Crockett (my sis-in-law).

Marny and Kent's tips:

1. SMALLER RESORTS/MOUNTAINS can lead to MORE FUN for the whole family and keep more money in your wallet. We raised our kids on amazing small hills in Buffalo, NY.  We would drop them off in the morning and pick them up at 4 p.m.  This still a great option for families, and there are several around the country.  For families just starting out, this is less expensive and much more manageable.

2. Weather is by far the most important factor with small children!  Pick sunny and warm days! If you have chosen a week vacation and the weather is cold and cloudy, ski for short periods of time and take TONS of hot cocoa breaks.

3. Patience is KEY! Don't set your expectations too high and don't think it is a failure if you have to cut the day short.  Also, don't let your kids tell you what they are going to wear with regards to helmet and gloves.  Your policy should be no helmet/gloves, no skiing.  No exceptions.  And be prepared to sit in the lodge until they come around.

4. If this is your kids or your first time out, GET LESSONS!  For example, if your family is planning on being on snow for a week, commit to three consecutive days of lessons. (Note - during peak times you need to reserve lessons WELL in advance!!) After the 3 days, you can play it by ear and give the family ski day a try!

5. This one is from me, Summer.  CANDY is MAGIC! The last thing you want to do is make getting on all the gear super traumatic…so REWARD them with a little candy.  When the kids first started I would put some in a baggy in my ski jacket.  Honestly, they only needed a couple and the tears were gone!

6. COMFORT is MOST IMPORTANT.  When it comes to ski boots, make sure they are comfortable and to make that happen, rent from someone who knows what they are doing.  If your kid says their foot hurts…THEIR FOOT HURTS…trust them and try a different pair.  When they get better, then you can worry about performance! And whatever you do, DO NOT leave your boots in the car over-night! Cold boots are almost impossible to get on!

7.CREATE A LIST!  I have said this before.  Make a list of everything you will need…and check it several times. Also, pack each kid in a separate bag and check it before and after a day of skiing.  It is amazing how many single gloves I have in my house.

8. PACK A LUNCH!  Most resorts allow you to bring your own food.  Please take advantage of this if you are on a budget.  You can add to your meal with a hot or cold beverage or desert but if your main meal is from home, your wallet will thank you!

9. Dress in layers.  Think about the difference in temperature from the top of the hill compared to the bottom.  You can always take layers off…but if you are too cold, you are up a creek!

10. If you are heading to a major resort like Park City or Deer Valley during a major holiday, reserve your skis ahead of time.  We didn't even know this until the Peete family came to visit last year after Christmas.  All the skis in the major shops were reserved so we had to pull a favor to get them hooked up.  Go online or call to get the family set up with gear! And check to see if your resort will store them over-night for you…makes your ski life much less stressful.

Most importantly, Kent says to have fun and not to worry if your kids don't get it right away.  When you start them young, you are setting your family up for some amazing vacations and adventures in the future! 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Summer&Schwinn: Beat the Brrr

Brrrr! I know how you’re feeling; you’re freezing, aren’t you? It’s winter people! The sun might be shining, but it’s still cold outside. That doesn't mean you need to ditch the bike completely. Find out how I Get creative and bike in my latest Schwinn Ambassador blog!

Like you, I prefer to workout outside. When I hop on my bike, I love to cruise by the scenery, feel the wind through my helmet and soak up some that fabulous vitamin D enriched sunshine. If you live in an area where you don’t have to worry about ice and tons of snow, gear up so you can get out and hit the trails! So many different companies make killer under-garments to keep your extremities toasty – just go for it.

Read the rest on the Ride Schwinn Facebook Page.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Positivity on purpose

“You can do anything you want to, as long as you put your mind to it.”“You are smart. You are beautiful. You are important.”

Hearing things like this from someone you love is important. So don't forget to continue to tell your kids their possibilities are endless…their dreams can come true…and that you believe in them.

What do you think you would hear if you listened to a recording what you say to your kids every day. I know what I would hear: Get your feet off the table, We need to put our PJ's on now, eat your breakfast please. Hurry, we're gonna be late!!! We all would But you’ll also hear me say the same thing my mom said to me every, single night, "You can do anything you want to as long as you put your mind to it."

Positive repetition. It’s important. What do you want your kids to hear?

After all is said and done in the day. No matter how their behavior was or your day went, end it on something positive. It will make all the difference. So say it, over and over and over again. In this time of year when it’s all about the “gifts”, be sure to remind them just how much their worth and capable of by just being themselves!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

'Tis the Holiday Season of YOU!

Why do we want to sleep at the same wake-up time just because it's dark outside? It's the same time just a bit darker. Do you realize it is all in your head? The sun makes us happy, I get that. In fact, there is actually the most unhappy day…it is Jan 21st, the darkest day of the year. Can we all just agree to get over it right now?! No more, "It's dark out" excuses. Ok? Ok. Now let's get a plan.

Eat what you want during the holidays, just don't stop working out. I know there is SO MUCH TO DO during the holidays, but can you put your name at the top of that list? Do it. I would prefer you to get in an hour of cardio over homemade pie crust. For the Seinfeld fans, "This is the Holiday Season of YOU!"

You just need to be honest with yourself. Me, I love to eat during the holidays. I love to snack on those damn peanut M&M's or whatever other snacks seem to be calling my name from those random bowls around the house. I try to control it, and do keep it in moderation but…oh how I love it. So, I work out. I give myself the gift of me time and indulgence during the holidays, by taking care of my health. It’s a great message to send to your kids, to give to your sanity. You will enjoy the holiday more guilt free!!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Spending QT with each kid

It's important to spend alone time….with each kid, that is...

"I don't even like you anymore." "You don't love me."  I will always encourage my daughter to share her feelings but really, those words were hurting.  She is only 5 so I know I have a long road ahead, one full of door slamming and evil eyeing. But I also know my daughter well enough to recognize that she needed quality mom time.  (Or maybe I needed a little Skye time.)

A few weekends ago, my husband and our son went with his dad to Dallas for the Buffalo Bills vs Dallas Cowboys NFL game.  (We are die-hard Bills fans.) And that left an opening for me to organize a "get to know my daughter again" weekend.  I didn't tell her that, just my fellow bus-stop moms. 

My goal was to take time (which I would have more of with only one kid in the house) to understand her little angry outbursts by calmly and tenderly reminding her that I love her.  Of course, I spindled that in while we went to a movie, got a pedicure and giggled throughout the house. That was the plan at least.  And things were imperfectly awesome! As I hoped, I learned a few things along the way, and I wanted to share them with you:

1.  I need to give up some of my control.  I sometimes hover over little tasks…like pouring the cereal and milk.  What's a little mess…especially when she jumps at the chance to clean it up.

2.  I need to let her make more decisions in her life….not so much whether she should have swedish fish for breakfast, but maybe what shoes she wants to wear or what coat is warm enough for outside.  (She will find out quickly, and learn more if I let her make those decisions…and yes, I might just throw a heavier coat in the trunk just in case: )

3.  Although time-outs work sometimes, I think tender words of understanding help her to figure out for herself how she should speak to me and what behavior is appropriate.  One night I said, "Skye, I know saying those words to me doesn't make you feel good and it isn't going to get you what you want."  She was exhausted, but quickly came around so I could read her a book while she fell asleep on my shoulder.

4. I have a determined, tough, hard-headed little girl on my hands that is also very tender, compassionate and sweet.  Fun combination. These can and are all great qualities, I just have to recognize her, for her, and let her be! 

Now if I could just figure out how to get around this obsession with the perfect pony-tail…

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spreecast: Favorite Holiday Foods!

Trish & I had a wonderful Spreecast today on "Mom-Sense" sharing our favorite holiday recipes, and we wanted to make sure you could find all the great recipes we discussed, so we decided to post them here. Try 'em out, and let us know what you think!

You can also watch the archive of our broadcast on Spreecast: "Favorite Holiday Foods"
Bon Appetit!

Summer's Recipes
Cheesy Biscuits! -- Betty Crocker & Bisquick

Biscuits are so versatile! Serve them for breakfast with butter and jam or for dinner in place of bread or rolls.
Prep Time
Total Time
2 1/4
cups Original Bisquick® mix
cup milk
  1. Heat oven to 450ºF. Stir ingredients until soft dough forms.
  2. Turn onto surface dusted with Bisquick mix. Knead 10 times. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut with 2 1/2-inch cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes 9 biscuits

Sue Bee Honey Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Watch Summer make this recipe for Sue Bee Honey here!


1 cup Sue Bee Honey
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a bowl, mix Sue Bee Honey, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, oil, pumpkin pie spice and pepper.
  3. Transfer to a large baking dish and bake in oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir the potatoes to expose the pieces from the bottom of the pan.
  5. Turn heat up to 450F and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Pumpkin Sheet Cake -- AllRecipes.com

Prep Time: 30 Minutes

Ready In: 2 Hours
Cook Time: 30 MinutesServings: 20
1 (15 ounce) can canned pumpkin puree
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 teaspoons milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
1.In a mixing bowl, beat pumpkin, 2 cups white sugar, and oil. Add eggs, and mix well.
2.In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and beat until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 15 x 10 inch baking pan.
3.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool.
4.In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter or margarine, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, and mix well. Add milk until frosting reaches desired spreading consistency. Frost cake, and sprinkle with nuts.

Trish's Recipes
Watch Trish make the recipe on Fox LA here


  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1 cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
  3. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Summer&Schwinn: Catch the Rays While They Last

  • It's fall, and the days are growing shorter. Find out why you should take advantage of the sunshine on your bike while you can in my latest Schwinn Ambassador blog!

    Summer & Schwinn: Catch the Rays While They Last

    Days are getting shorter my friends, and if you haven't noticed, bike riding outside is limited. So…I’m here to remind you to get out and feel the breeze – even if it is a bit cooler than mid-summer.

    Don't take the sunshine for granted! Throw on a jacket and enjoy it.

    Figure out a time during the day to hop on your two-wheeler and catch a 15 minute joy ride. It’s such a fabulous way to break up the humdrum of your day...

    Read the rest on the Ride Schwinn Facebook Page.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cleaning out the closet

I must confess, my daughter has too many clothes. Most of them weren’t bought by me, as we have wonderful hand-me-downs, and we both love them! Hand-me-downs were my favorite when I was little, and my daughter shares that excitement for them…it’s immeasurable. She’s also a bit of a pack-rat, like me. Thus, too many clothes = Too Many Choices, which often equals a meltdown before 8 a.m.  We planned to change that this year…

Skye started Kindergarten this year.  So, the week before school officially began, I made a date with her to go through her closet. It was almost a mini-shopping spree as we tried on all her clothes. I had a two-fold plan: 
  1. Weed out the clothes she had outgrown
  2. Commit to wearing what we were going to keep.
My daughter was a trooper and tried on everything I asked her to.  We celebrated when pants were too small, cheering because she had "grown SO much".  We made several piles…the keepers, the hand-me-down givebacks, and the giveaways.  She wanted a fourth pile that she could sell at our garage sale, but I convinced her we should give them away.  

It was tough to convince her to give away a few items that she LOVED, but in the end I told her we needed too so we could buy new school clothes.  That worked like a charm, and I was delighted.  It was a smooth process with absolutely no meltdowns. Only a few tears came at the end as she laid her head on the giveaway pile and said good-bye to her old clothes.  But it didn't take her long to bounce up with a huge smile at the prospect of filling up the holes in her closet with lots of 6-T's!

An now, with winter right around the corner, it's time to do it all again.

She's so big now…

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Get thee to the Games!

Don't be intimidated by the hype and the stories. If you want to go to the Olympic Games in London, England, next summer, YOU CAN DO IT. And I am here to tell you how. As I have said in this blog many times, my family has been an Olympic fan forever. It stems from my dad, Mr. USA, seriously…Before his house burned down, half his wardrobe was red, white and blue.

Our first Games were LA and everyone told my dad, "The traffic will be horrendous. You will never find tickets. Don't bring the kids, it will be so unsafe." So. Not. True. We found tickets. Many of them right outside the venue. And we drove to all the venues without worry…even parking right outside the LA Coliseum for Opening Ceremonies.

We hear the same thing before every Olympic Games. "Tickets are impossible to get. Hotels are ridiculously expensive. Who wants to deal with that?" If your kids are 8-15 years old, this is your opportunity. A trip to the Olympic Games will be the most unforgettable and amazing family adventure EVER. So here is how you do it…

  1. Go online right now. Airline tickets have just opened up to get over to London. Investigate going earlier than the start of the Games. Maybe even flying into a neighboring country and taking a cheap Ryan Air flight in or the train. Get creative. 
  2. Buy a few tickets for the sport you REALLY want to see. My dad did this for swimming. Other than that, pick up tickets to a few random events (not finals) that are cheap. You don't need to see an athlete win a medal to get catch the Olympic fever. Some of my favorite events were wrestling and boxing and water polo. Here’s a link from Team USA for U.S. ticket information
  3. Get creative with housing. Do you know someone who know's someone who lives in London? Investigate a house swap. Check the train so you know some convenient locations to stay outside the city. (Last minute, there are always rooms so if you can be spontaneous…it can be advantageous.) 
  4. Be prepared because once you have a ticket, you are IN. And you will likely be away from your hotel/flat all day. After you are in the circle of venues, you will want to soak up the action, from morning till night. Be ready to get caught up in the excitement! Here's more info from Visit London 
  5. Be patriotic! I don't care what the world thinks of Americans, I love this country and it makes a difference to U.S. athletes to see red, white and blue and hear "GO USA!" So be proud and Wave your flag! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Summer&Schwinn: Finish Off Your Hectic Day With A Family Bike Ride

In the evening, there's no better way to finish off your day than with a family bike ride. In my latest Ride Schwinn Ambassador blog, find out why our family loves it...
Summer&Schwinn: Finish Off Your Hectic Day With A Family Bike Ride
Want a great way to finish off your day? Try ending it with a family bike ride. We try to do this often, and there is no better time for it than in the summer and fall. Maybe it’s because we live in a ski town, but if the weather is nice, we always want to be outside. With that said, if my husband Erik and I are outside and active, then we are teaching our kids to do the same.
After dinner is the PERFECT time for the family to hop on bikes together. I know that I am not the only mom who finds the time between dinner and bedtime challenging. You don’t want to put the kids to bed too early, but you also don’t want them to start something they can’t finish before going to sleep.
You can read the rest on Scwinn's Facebook page, under their Summer&Schwinn tab! Happy Riding.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Summer&Schwinn: Introducing…the Pedi-Cab

My latest Ride Schwinn Ambassador blog is up! Here's a little excerpt...

Introducing...the Pedi-Cab 
Before our last trip to New York City, if you had mentioned a “Pedi-Cab” to my kids, Spider and Skye, they would have had no clue about what you were talking about. In fact, they probably would have looked at you like you had ten heads! However, this most recent trip changed their five and three year-old lives. There was no turning back. 
Now, I think if they had their choice, my kids would trade our car for a Pedi-Cab! In fact, I wouldn’t be super opposed to this, except during the winter in Salt Lake…not sure any mom could handle (or enjoy) the -20 degree weather in a Pedi-Cab. With that said, on the streets of NYC, during the hottest week of the summer, they were perfect! Spider and Skye breezed along the streets in Pedi-Cabs, passing the bright lights and taking in all the action...

You can read the rest on on Scwinn's Facebook page, under the tab: Summer&Schwinn! Happy Riding.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Complete marathon, check

26.2 miles in the books...

I’d been planning for Oct 9th, 2011, for seven months.  The date was written in cement on my calendar.  My girlfriend Jojo and I were in this together, and had shared many a phone conversation and funny story around our running schedule.  Her husband had joked for months that we were going to "run ourselves straight into mono." …I didn't argue.

The training was tough with our everyday life schedules.  Especially since we weren’t together to do it. Jojo was in Colorado with her three beautiful girls, and I had my little-big Skye and Spider with me in Utah. Daily mom duties combined with work and travel made it even tough to stay committed…And even tougher to stay healthy.

But dispute Jo's knee injury (she hadn't run more than 4 miles during the last 4 weeks of training), my nagging hammy, and our little bout with food poisoning the night before the race (don’t get me started on that feeling), we crossed the finish line…And really, that was what it came down to.

You never really know what you are hoping for when you start a race like this, but as I was nearing the giant sign with FINISH written across it, everything became very clear.  This moment was for my kids as much as it was for me. My son had already asked for my medal. They have heard me say, "You can't quit" about a 1,000 times, and I didn’t.  Every step of the way, I was thinking about those two little people in my life that had cheered me on (even if they didn't know it); I was thinking about my husband who would bike along side me just so I wouldn't be bored; I was thinking about my awesome girlfriend who inspired and motivated me to sign up for this insane race and, even though she was hurting, made the trip and kept it positive every step of the way.  At that moment, when my body was in pain and my legs were so heavy, I was overwhelmed with joy knowing how lucky I am.

Tears were flowing as I ran through the finish and stumbled beyond.  I couldn't hold them back, and it was wonderful!  Three hours, 30 minutes and one second. And I’d finished. Then, when I finally found Jojo and learned she had muscled through her injury to finish as well (when we started she wasn’t optimistic), we were emotional freaks together. Life is too short not to build your scrapbooks full of moments like these.

So thank you Joanna for encouraging me to do this and sharing it with me, and to my family for supporting me, and to Chicago for cheering us on and putting on a great race! It’s a moment in my life I’ll never forget.

**If you want to hear more of my thoughts about the race, you can watch my Monday morning post-race Spreecast here