Friday, December 3, 2010

I Am Moving!

Dear Lovely LOYAL Readers!

I realize some of you have been with me for FOUR years (on the dot) but it is time to move on to a more powerful space.  I want you all to know, all of the current content is already over in my new blog, it's just in a MUCH more organized format.

I encourage all of you to change my blog address in your readers and bookmarks to (or the shorter version: which will be pointing in the right direction by later today) and if we have connected via Google Friend Connect please connect to the new site too.

There will be lots of new content coming your way soon!  In the meantime, have a look around!  Thank you for being a loyal reader!  I can't wait to connect with you on my new site!

Winner Announcement - 77kids Gift Card

The winner for the 77kids gift card giveaway is Elizabeth!  Congratulations!  I will be emailing you shortly with details!

Thank you to everyone who entered!  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winner Announcement - Marie Callender's

The winner announcement for the Marie Callender's coupon give away is @shopgurl Eve!  Congratulations!  I will be emailing you shortly with details!

Thank you to everyone who entered!  

Housekeeping Reminders: I've got another giveaway you have until Midnight December 2nd to enter!  You could win a $50 gift card to 77kids

Friday, November 26, 2010

What I like to do with Thanksgiving leftovers - Curried Turkey Soup

I shared this recipe a few years a go but it is one of my favorite recipes to use up some of those Thanksgiving leftovers.

Curried Turkey Soup (I doubled the amounts below so that there was a large amount)
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup minced onion
4 - 8 tablespoons flour (depending on the amount of mashed potatoes used)
5-6 cups of stock, warmed
optional ingredients: mashed potatoes (used to thicken), broccoli, asparagus tips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large cup of diced turkey (I usually add more, you really can't have too much in the soup in my opinion)
4 tablespoons minced parsley

In a large stock pot, melt butter and stir in curry, cook for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook for about 10 until soft but not browned. Stir in flour, cook for 2 minutes and remove pot from heat and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Vigorously whisk in hot stock, return to hot stove and simmer for one minute continuing to whisk. If using mashed potatoes, add those in now 1 tablespoon at a time until desired thickness. stir in cream while simmering slowly, season. Stir in turkey and other optional veggies, bring to a simmer again, sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Do you have any special recipes that call for Thanksgiving leftovers? Care to share them in the comments?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

77kids Holiday Sneak Peek & Charity Launch - Giveaway

Today we attended the grand opening and holiday sneak peek & charity launch at the brand new location of 77kids in Ross Park Mall!  77kids is part of the American Eagle family and they have clothing for children from size 0-3 months to children's size 14.  The designs are fresh and fun!  Everything is constructed well, reinforced, and the pants have adjustable waists (score!).

Our main purpose for attending was to be introduced to the store and learn about the launch of their holiday charity efforts.  Watch this video for an overview of how you can donate from in the store:

In addition to donating in the store you can also help to raise money for local children's hospitals by making your very own snowflake once a day between today - December 14th!  77kids is asking for 100,000 snowflakes to be made so that they can donate an additional $25,000 to local children's hospitals, this particular store is donating to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.  The BEST part is that for every snowflake you make you are entered to win gift cards (they are giving away one $77 gift card DAILY!!!) and one lucky person will win a winter block party for them and 77 of their closest friends!  Sounds like a blast!  Making a snowflake takes about 2 minutes and the kids can have fun with this too!

77kids has graciously offered a $50 gift card for me to give to one of my lucky readers! Will it be you?  Submit your entries until 11:59 pm December 2nd!  I will contact the winner the following day and you'll have 48 hours to reply, if you do not reply I will have to move on to the next person on the list.

Here's how to enter:

Required for Entry - 
* Make a snowflake here and "like" 77kids on Facebook or Follow @77kids on Twitter.  Leave a comment here telling me you created your snowflake and either "liked" or followed.  INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME SO THAT I CAN CONTACT YOU IF YOU WIN!  

Bonus Entries - You'll get ONE EXTRA ENTRY for each of these below, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each of them noting what you did AND INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME!

*Tweet this: 
"@CaraRolinson is Giving Away a $50 gift card to @77kids! #77kids  "
Leave a comment here letting me know you Tweeted INCLUDE A LINK TO YOUR TWEET and EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME.

* Share your snowflake on Facebook.  Leave a comment here letting me know you shared INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME.

* Follow Me with Google Friend Connect, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME. (if you already have connected via GFC then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

* Follow Me on Twitter, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME. (if you already have connected via Twitter then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

****I was compensated for this post.  However, my thoughts and feelings on 77kids, their stores and their charity launch mentioned above are my own and are 100% honest to how I feel about them.****

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Traveling... again... Marie Callender's to the rescue! (review and a giveaway!)

******   CONTEST CLOSED AS OF 12/1/2010 ********

Well, Chris is at it again!  He's out of town for 11 days and I'm home alone with the kids daydreaming of traveling to Prague with my family one day.  The good part, we're on the upswing with only 4 days left!  whoo!  When Chris travels I look for easy meal options. I keep things simple as best as I can and I usually order out once (or twice).  I also use some frozen foods to help us save time too!  That's why when I was asked to do this review of the new Marie Callender's meals I JUMPED at the opportunity because the timing could NOT have been any better!

Marie Callender's just launched a new product called Marie Callender's new Baked Meals!  They are family sized meals that appeal to the whole family.  I had the opportunity to pick a few meals to try and I would like to report back there was NO disappointment what-so-ever!  I picked Creamy Chicken Alfredo with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Scalloped Potatoes & Ham in a Creamy Swiss Cheese Sauce and Southwestern Style Chipotle Chicken Bake.  I liked all three, the Southwestern Chipotle Chicken Bake was my favorite though.  There are three others that I am interested in trying too especially the Chicken, Spinach, and Mushroom Lasagna (doesn't that sound YUM?)

All of them can be baked in a conventional oven or microwave.  I used the microwave heating option for all three and was impressed with the outcome.  You know when you bake something cheesy and creamy and the edges and peeks get a nice golden color?  Well, they achieved this in a microwave dish!  How? I have NO clue!  

I used these meals as the main portion of our meals, I added salad and a fresh vegetable as sides to complete each meal.  They fed the three of us perfectly (with some left over too!) and the boys actually asked for seconds!  THAT never happens!

Other than the really flavorful ingredients, another HUGE selling point is the price!  These retail for a little less than $6.00!  That means you can feed a family of four EASILY for $10 or less using Marie Callender's Baked Meals!  I think that's GREAT!  

In addition to asking me to review their new baked meals they have given me some AWESOME coupons to giveaway to my readers!  The winner will receive the following: (2) coupons, each good for (1) FREE Marie Callender's Bakes AND a few other coupon goodies too!  **** This giveaway runs until November 30th at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be announced December 1st!

How you can enter:
Required for Entry - 
* Leave one comment below sharing what Marie Callender's Baked Meal you would like to try (You can flip through the options here) INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME SO THAT I CAN CONTACT YOU IF YOU WIN!  

Bonus Entries - You'll get ONE EXTRA ENTRY for each of these below, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each of them noting what you did AND INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME!

*Tweet this: 
"@CaraRolinson is Giving Away Marie Callender's Baked Meals Coupons! Come join the fun: "
Leave a comment here letting me know you Tweeted INCLUDE A LINK TO YOUR TWEET & EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME.

* Follow Me with Google Friend Connect, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME. (if you already have connected via GFC then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

* Follow Me on Twitter, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME. (if you already have connected via Twitter then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

****I was compensated to write this review.  However, my thoughts and feelings on the products mentioned above are my own and are 100% honest to how I feel about the product.****

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jour 280 - Audio assignment

As most of you know, I am currently taking classes.  This is for an assignment.  Don't judge, it's the first time I've mixed something together using real audio mixing tools and not multiple tape decks and the record button on a boom box....  to quote a fell "burgh blogger" please just bloop bloop bloop to the next post ;)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Total Mom Makeover - W1D2

My vision:

1. I am an energetic mom, I feed my family healthy home cooked meals and fresh foods daily.  I'm happy and smile and rarely yell at my kids.  My house is clean and tidy inside and out.  I am relaxed and not controlling of my kids and husband.  My clothing is need and tidy and I look fashionable and put together. If my clothes fit well, I feel good!

2. my visual perspective.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Total Mom Makeover - W1D1

1. My Should's:

I should do 1-2 loads of laundry a day - including folding.
I should take junk mail directly to the trash instead of setting in the table, end of the counter, in the roll-top or with the bills.
I should clean up lunch as soon as we're finished eating.
I should wipe down the table after every meal.
I should sweep the dining room floor at least once a day, preferable after dinner.
I should make the beds.
I should plan meals a few days in advance.
I should get up earlier than the kids.
I should drink more water.
I should workout today.
I should vacuum the stairs and 2nd floor waaay more often than I do.
I should be a little more patient with my kids and cut down on the yelling.

2. Writing it in stone:

I have decided to create a better household by correcting my deficiencies.  I will do so by decreasing my procrastinations, getting up earlier, preparing my families daily needs in advance and not so last minute.  I will create more time for me and my running, knitting/crafting.  I will have a cleaner home and more time for quality relaxing with my family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Total Mom Makeover - Intro

A few weeks back I mentioned my lunch with Libby's and motivational mama Hannah Keeley.  Within that post I mentioned I received a copy of Hannah's book Total Mom Makeover.  AND I had promised that I was going to start the program and share my progress with my readers.  Well the day has come, I'm kicking off this program today!

*** Before you read on, please consider a small donation to the right over there --------> in the Libby's Feeding America box!  I don't usually ask for such things but really, $5 can provide a whole stack of food to hungry families and children in need -  yep 5 bucks! The amount of a latte and a muffin from your favorite coffee shop!  Skip the excess for one day and share the wealth with folks in need.  Thank you! /end promo plug

Back to my post here and please note, yes, I received this book for free but my choice to share this endeavor with you is unprovoked by Hannah.  I see a worth while adventure and I am merely sharing like I usually do.

(OK really back to business here) The cover of the book states it is "The Six-Week Plan to Completely Transform Your Home, Health, Family, and Life"  I want to first point out that I'm in no way unhappy with where I am in my life!  I love my family and taking care of my children, I love my social life and for the first time EVER I love my job (the one outside of being a stay at home mother).  However, those of you who are close to me know that there are some aspects in my life that I need to work on.  Keeping house, ranks up there at the top! Taking care of myself and my needs, both physically and mentally are also in the negative space here. Most of these negative spots come from we will say an very strong urge to procrastinate.  I'm quite organized, I can set up a file system and keep that going and I keep my work very organized, it's the stuff that I can stash away in my home, like laundry and dust and papers from my kids school that get stashed into the roll-top desk and my inability to plan a meal before 5pm on a daily basis these are the things that keep rearing their ugly heads and making my day-to-day home making an utter disaster most of the time.

As I mentioned, Hanna's book is a Six-week plan, she suggests to step 1, get a journal (this here blog is going to serve as my journal), step 2, set aside a specific time each day to read that day's section in the book and at the end of each day I will have a few exercises to complete in my journal.  They will be quick lists to make and/or thoughts to help reflect on, these will be my short posts that I'll share with you here.   As I progress, I may or may not to share EVERY single day with you.  I'm pretty open about myself and my life so It won't be a matter of the content being to private but instead it may not be worthy of a post.  I may also combine days into one post to keep things less cluttered around here.  I also want to add, I'm crazy busy here these days.... I hardly have time to sit and tune out over a cup of coffee and blog reading... so if my journal posts are full of typos and messed up grammar, please don't hold it against me, they are journal entries and well dammit they aren't going to be perfect!  Because I just don't have the time to be perfect....

If you are interested in trying this plan too, Hannah's book is available via Amazon over there in the right column of my blog.   Again, this is NOT a paid post and all future posts about my advances in the plan will remain that way as well.  I'm sharing link love with Hannah and her book merely because she is a good person, an inspirational mama and friend!

An Introduction and Review: Arctic Ease

Whew busy times are upon me!  Two weeks ago, I was contacted by my colleagues at Chemistry again (They are the folks to introduced me to Steaz & Beano's!).  They were looking for social media outreach help with their client Arctic Ease and I said sure!  I am currently managing their Facebook and Twitter outreach.   

A brief introduction to Arctic Ease, they offer wraps and pads for cryotherapy (cold therapy). From their website, "The specially treated wraps and pads absorb heat energy from the body to cool the covered area. The absorbed heat is then lost to evaporation, which allows for the sustained cooling effect of Arctic Ease."  They can be used in place of ice packs, frozen peas and (HEY MAMA'S) Boo Boo Bunnies!  For a full description of the product feel free to check out their site, it is FULL of useful information about the product! 

Arctic Ease wraps can be cut to size and wrapped around the problem area including legs, knees, ankles, wrists AND can be used to treat those toddler head bumps! They are non-toxic, reusable and made in the U.S.A.!  

In my running experiences, I haven't had much of a need for icing afterwards (or so I thought).  I don't run long distances, I usually average 2 miles per run.  However, I HAVE noticed if I ran in the morning by the evening my knees were achy and my legs were restless...  annoyingly so.  So this past weekend I put my own Arctic Ease wraps to the test.  I wrapped ONE knee, the one that usually feels the most achy and restless.  I wrapped it within an hour of finishing my run, then packed up the kids and the hubs and went for a hike.  I wore the wrap for 3-4 hours and was amazed at how cold my knee and surrounding leg felt.  When we got home, I took it off, put it back on the little roll it came on and placed it back into the resealable bag with a tablespoon and a half of water to rehydrate it for next time. 

Afternoon passed, evening passed and by night I had none of my usual achy and restless knee (on the side I wrapped).  The knee I did not wrap DID have it's usual bit of achy/restlessness. Yes, I performed a scientific experiment and this knee was my control.  

Wearing the wrap didn't inhibit me in the least bit, I hiked, I played with my kids and was comfortable the whole time.  The ability to be mobile AND treat my knees at the same time is priceless for a mother of two very active kids.  

Overall, I give this product a THUMBS up!  I was impressed by it's ease of use!  No need for clips as it sticks to itself as you wrap thus no need for clips or pins.  

We are currently looking for active and runner bloggers for to write product reviews, if this is something you might be interested in, please leave a comment or email me and we can discuss it further.  Arctic Ease is also giving away registrations for the 2011 Chicago Marathon, you can enter by checking out their Facebook page and following the Chicago 2011 tab.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Look Into Barefoot Running

As you all know, I'm fairly new to the running arena.  What I'm not new to is knowledge of proper footwear for specific jobs and sports.  A wise woman once said (paraphrased) 'You should always use the proper tool for the proper job' (this wise woman is Martha Stewart in reference to her fine work in the kitchen).  I realize her advice may be a bit simple and obvious but that same advice should be used across all parts of our lives.  If you need to dig a hole to plant a tree would you use a snow shovel?  If you needed to paint a wall would you use a hair brush? If you wanted to take ballet classes would you purchase steel toed work boots? No, no and no!

As I mentioned above, I'm not new to the knowledge of  proper footwear for specific jobs and sports.  A little about my background...  My father, Ted Colaizzi, is a Certified Pedorthist (C. Ped.).  What does Certified Pedorthist mean? Let's first define Pedorthic - (ped-or'-thiks) -the design, manufacture, modification and fit of footwear, orthotics and devices to alleviate foot problems caused by disease, overuse, or injury. A C. Ped. has fulfilled and maintains specific educational requirements to be certified by the Board for Certification in Pedorthics (BCP).  Without getting all preachy, and just to illustrate how involved my family is within the Pedorthics and just to further illustrate why I know what I know and why I have decided to write about this today...  

My parents (along with my late grandfather) have owned and operated their business servicing the foot and ankle community for over 75 years.  As a child growing up in a household where my parents owned their own business, an evening never passed without a conversation between my parents about what happened at the store today.  I got to know the regulars and quite a few technical terms just because of the conversation.  Because of that conversation I believe that I have a much deeper understanding of how the food and ankle function and I even understand the logic behind how to treat minor issues. With this knowledge I also learned that the proper shoe for the job was not just a preference but a necessity.  Running is one of those necessities.  

Back in May after I spent a few months watching a few friends train for the Pittsburgh Marathon (half and relay) as you know I bit the bullet and decided to give Couch to 5K a shot.  BUT while most people might have just laced up their old sneaks and get out on the road, I threw up the caution sign and called my dad.  I asked if running shoes and their internal support could break down after years of getting dusty in a closet.  His answer was YES.  I then told him my plan and a little about the program and he solidified my urge to wait until I had the proper shoes and told me to come in so that I could be fitted for a new pair.  

As most of you know, when I get a crazy hair up my arse to do something 9 times out of 10 I want to run out and do it NOW, right this minute!  I had to wait a week and a half before I got my new shoes... My dad didn't have my wide width in stock (understandable really) so I had to wait for the order to arrive.  I was so geeked when my shoes came in that I drove over there THAT day to pick them up so that I could start C25K that afternoon.

A few weeks into C25K I started to see other bloggers mention a book called "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall.  These blogs and the book mention barefoot running.  I was intrigued to say the least but not because I wanted to try it.  This coming from the girl who can barely walk around the cement pool deck for fear that I MIGHT step on a pebble or that the cement might be too hot.  I wanted to read more because I felt there may be some folks out there who might think these ideas sound like good ones (which in a way they kinda do good) but if executed poorly they could result in serious injury. 

So I started to read.  I will admit I didn't read the entire book (I haven't read for pleasure in years due to lack of time why start now....) but I read large portions (there is a LOT of story telling and I skipped over some).  In short the book's author decided to follow a hidden tribe of runners who are known to be superathletes.  Barefoot running is their game as is harsh dessert conditions and distances like you would never believe.  The book and the stories were admittedly interesting and enjoyable but the barefoot running suggestions is downright scary.  

It is suggested that as we evolved as humans we all ran barefoot.  And yes that is a fact.  They suggest that this new barefoot movement is a throwback to how we are supposed to run and that the addition of running shoes actually harms our body's inherent ability to run correctly.  Step back and think about that for a second.  It makes sense right?   I will admit, it kinda does.  However with a second look, it's easy to realize that it really doesn't make much sense at all.  Consider this, as we evolved there were desserts, grassy fields, beaches and dirt paths.  No roads, no paved trails, no tracks.  Impact on those surfaces even if they were harder like dessert, does not compare with the hardness of a brick street or asphalt trail or paved road.  Foot/heel and ankle impact on these man made surfaces play a HUGE role in the current injuries that will occur from barefoot running.  

Barefoot running is something that if you are interested in trying will take a LOT of conditioning and commonsensical thought about how and where you plan to train.  Instead of going completely barefoot consider wearing a pair of Vibram's, take training slow slow slow.  As runners I'm pretty certain we are all pretty in tune with our bodies and can feel it immediately when something goes wrong.  If you start to feel pain, stop.  See a doctor and put your running shoes back on.  

I've talked to my father about this topic quite a bit and we both are in the agreement that it's not a smart idea.  Injury is inevitable and the risk is not worth it.  Heck the risk of injury is high as a runner to start with, why would you want to put more risk into it? 

Yes this is a family blog - but sometimes we get to be adults

This post is not going to fall within the normal topics that you usually find here. But that doesn't mean it's not a family friendly topic.  Most of my readers are moms and most of them are married.  The topic below is something that in my opinion is perfectly normal for a married couple to engage in.

We all like to have a little fun in the bedroom right?  In fact if I were to take a guess I would guess that since most of us have children we have had fun at least as many times as we have children right?  I also know that as a parent time for such activities are sometimes pushed to the bottom of the list.  Reasons may include a sick kid or a busy work schedule, maybe things are a little stale or just being too tired at the end of the day for some personal one on one time with your husband or wife right?  Sometimes all it takes to awaken things in the bedroom is something new to play with together or some fun sexy clothing or really anything else your little heart desires to help spice things up in the bedroom.

I wanted to share a site that I first came across last winter, Eden Fantasys.  Their site is clean and well organized with LOTS of options.  I'm certain that there is something for everyone on this site.  They carry items in all price ranges and provide written and video reviews of most every item on the site.  That is something that I find to be quite helpful.  There is also a cool points program you can sign up for, you can get points for just looking around their site.  You can also set up a wish list that you can share with your husband or wife - involving them in the choice can be a fun way to spice things up right?

I was contacted to do this post by Eden Fantasys (and was provided compensation in the form of a free item from their site) and I decided to do a post for them based on that fact that I HAVE actually used their site in the past (a few times) and I trust their company.  The customer service has been top notch and the quality of the items has also been exactly as they portray on their site.  If you're looking to get back into the bedroom with your partner in crime or to spice up the exciting relationship you already have give Eden Fantasys a look before you make your next adult toy or sexy lingerie purchase ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Winner Announcement: Rokenbok

Annnnd the lucky winner of the Rokenbok toy set is Annie and Greg!  Congratulations!  You've been emailed and you have 48 hours to reply or I'll have to pull the next winner!

Remember!  Even if you didn't win, Rokenbok has graciously extended this special offer to you! Free gifts are always great right?

Thank you for all the awesome entries!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Winner Announcement: Libby's Gift Pack

Help me to congratulate Christina Almond!  She won the Libby's Gift Pack giveaway! 

Christina - I've emailed you!  If you don't reply within 48 hours I'll have to move on to the next person.

Big Thanks to everyone to entered! 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Toy Review & Giveaway: Rokenbok

I was contacted by the Rokenbok toy company and they offered to send a Deluxe ROK Blocks set to play with (with my boys of course) and review.  We get to keep the free set and frankly we already have plans to add more Rokenbok sets to our toy collection.

Once we received it, I wanted to wait for a day where we had a large chunk of playtime so that we could introduce this new toy and have ample time to play with them.  Well, let's just say I'm glad we prepared accordingly.  My husband and our two boys played with the Rokenbox toys for over an hour that first day and again that evening after dinner!  Since then it's been something the kids bring out nearly every day!

The set comes with enough pieces to make some VERY large vehicles, airplanes, helicopters and tractor trailers to name a few!  Directions to make these items come with the set and are very easy to follow.  The blocks link together in a similar fashion to Legos except instead of only being able to build up, you can build out too! Rokenbok's can connect to all 6 sides of each block.  They are sturdy, stay together (even while being flown around the room by my 2 1/2 year old).  Both my boys ages 4 & 2 1/2 can create with this toy.  They can easily snap the pieces together and take them apart without much and sometime no assistance.

Here is Andy and my husband Chris, they have built a space shuttle and launcher!

One downfall for us was the little parts.  The age range for this toy starts at 3 years old and with my Andy coming in just shy of that 3 year old mark, I'm certain that is why I find the small parts a bit annoying.  My 4 year old is perfectly able to keep the small parts in order.  The small parts ARE quite important as they offer support for large longer sections of blocks and create the ability to have swiveling moving parts like a helicopter blade or a swiveling trailer bed. Those abilities far outweigh the fact that the pieces are small and need to be kept with the set. If this is a toy you think your child would be interested in I do suggest waiting until they are a solid 3 years old. With that being said, we have already put bugs in our family members ears for more of these toys for holiday gifts.  Both of my little boys (and my big boy A.K.A. husband) really enjoy building with these toys.  I enjoy it too!

Rokenbok offers toys for children much older than the toddler set too, some even come with remote control abilities.  They all work with the same beginner set that I have reviewed here.  So as your children get older and more able you can add to the set adding lots of fun and interest for years to come.  There are four age levels with the top level for children 9 and older.  I see Rokenbok toys as investment toys that their quality will stand up to time and they will be played with for quite a while.

Check out this video to see Rokenbok in action:

To see more videos featuring Rokenbok visit their YouTube site! 

Rokenbok has graciously offered to give one of my readers their very own set!  If you happen to be an unlucky reader they have also extended this special offer to you! Free gifts are always great right?

How you can enter:

Required for Entry -
* Leave one comment below sharing who you would like to give this set to, INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS SO THAT I CAN CONTACT YOU IF YOU WIN! 

Bonus Entries (you'll get ONE EXTRA ENTRY for each of these below, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each of them noting what you did AND INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!) -
* "Like" ROKENBOK on Facebook, leave a comment here letting me know you "liked" them INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.

* Follow ROKENBOK on Twitter, leave a comment here letting me know you followed them INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.

* Follow Me with Google Friend Connect, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. (if you already have connected via GFC then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

* Follow Me on Twitter, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. (if you already have connected via Twitter then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

This giveaway will run until Wednesday, October 13th at 11:59 PM ET.  The winner will be announced Thursday, Oct 14th!

**All thoughts and opinions on the product mentioned above are my own. I genuinely like this product and that is why I've decided to share it with you.**

Some photo updates

It's been WAY too long since I've shared some kiddo stats and photos so here ya go!

Max, is into his 2nd month of 4 year old preschool and he's LOVING it! His class size is bigger than last year and he seems to enjoy the 3 days a week schedule!

Andy, is also into his 2nd month of 2 year old preschool and seems to also be loving his one morning a week away from us.  He sings like crazy when he comes home each week and he is excited each Wednesday morning when i announce that it's a school day for him. 

Both boys are getting super tall! Max is growing like a weed and Andy is now able to wear most size 3T pants and shirts!

Here are a few recent photos of the boys!  Check out a huge bounty of pumpkins!  We grew all of them (two of them are missing since they became ripe way early and had a few bites taken out of them and were since tossed.... )

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Giveaway: Libby's Gift Pack

Remember a few posts ago I wrote about the wonderful afternoon I spent with some fellow local mama bloggers?  We put together 30 meal kits for families in need located in the local Pittsburgh area and enjoyed a lunch together talking about how we all do our best to have family dinners and quality time together around our dinner tables.  We will be continuing our conversation TODAY (September 28th, 2010) at 1 PM ET via a text based chat.  You can join us here before noon if you're not able to make it at that time, leave a question or suggestion and then feel free to follow up with our conversation later in the day!  OR feel free to join us LIVE at 1 PM!  Hope to see some new faces there!

Well, now it's time for me to give back to YOU!  It's giveaway time!

I will be giving away a Libby's tote bag with Libby's product, a state-of-the-art can opener and a copy of Hanna Keeley's book "Total Mom Makeover: The Six-Week Plan to Completely Transforming Your Home, Health, Family, and Life".

How you can enter:

Required for Entry -
* Leave one comment below sharing your tips about how you and your family are "getting back to the table", INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS SO THAT I CAN CONTACT YOU IF YOU WIN! 

Bonus Entries (you'll get ONE EXTRA ENTRY for each of these below, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each of them noting what you did AND INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!) -
*Create your own virtual can drive HERE. Once you've created it, live a comment here with a link to your can drive INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.

* "Like" Libby's on Facebook, leave a comment here letting me know you "liked" them INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.

* Follow Libby's on Twitter, leave a comment here letting me know you followed themINCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.

This giveaway will run until Friday, October 8th at 11:59 PM ET.  The winner will be announced Monday, Oct 11th!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Attending Type-A-Mom Conference

Well, by now, I've packed my bags and I'm about to head south for my 2nd professional conference, Type-A-Mom! My head is in a totally different place this time around.  My 1st conference was Blissdom last Febuary and my experience there was good but I learned a lot about how to approach an event like this.  Since last winter, I've made some new friends in the blogging community so much so that I've gained a roommate from Pittsburgh and her and 2 other local moms who blog will be travel buddies for this one.  The four of us are lucky to be traveling south to Asheville NC together in a brand spankin' new 2011 Chevy Traverse. (Thank you Chevy for sponsoring our ride!) 

To follow the Type-A-Mom Conference live tweets you can watch here for live up to the second updates about what people are seeing, hearing and doing at Type-A-Mom.  This part of the post is for a class assignment and I would love your feedback. Let me know what you think of this feature.  Seeing live streaming Twitter conversations is just a teeny tiny little part of what this feature can actually do. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lunch with Hannah Keeley and More on Feeding America with Libby's!

 Photo credit

Last week I had the honor of lunching with some awesome Pittsburgh bloggers.  We were there to meet with author Hannah Keeley and to work with Libby's to create meal kits for families in need.  Libby's provided us with lunch and LOTS of cans for our meal kits which will be distributed to new homeowners of homes provided by Habitat of Humanity Pittsburgh.  Us bloggers provided items to help each new family start a kitchen and to encourage them to bring their families back to the table.  Items included conversation cards, oven mits, recipes, kitchen utensils and a lot more!  Putting the kits together was a great part of the lunch and I'm happy to know that my work and time will be help someone in need.

You too can help a family in need by supporting my virtual can drive right over there ----> Even a donation of $5 will provide a meal to 35 families!  Every little bit helps.  If you're wishing to get involved too feel free to set up an account and host your own can drive on your own blog!

In addition to lunch and meal kit building we were treated to a discussion with Hanna Keeley.  Wow, impressive woman, mom of SEVEN, wife and writer!  We talked about how she encourages her family to enjoy their time at the dinner table.  She talked about time saving tricks to get a wholesome meal on the table too and I'm pretty sure that inspired all of us to try some dump recipes so that we're prepared and able to make wholesome meals even on those busy days! (which is almost every day isn't it?)

As a thank you gift Hannah gave us copies of her book "Total Mom Makeover: The Six-Week Plan to Completely Transform Your Home, Health, Family, and Life" 
I've started to read this book and let me tell you I'm excited about it!  I have decided that upon my return home from the Type-A-Mom conference that I'm attending this week/weekend that I'm starting this makeover.  My family and I all deserve a home that is organized and a mom who is less stressed out.  I'll be blogging some of my daily journal entries (this is part of the makeover process).  I haven't decided if I'm going to do that here or if I'll start a separate blog...  I'll be sure to let my readers know.

*****I was compensated for this event but my feelings and thoughts are all my own.*****

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm Feeding America! Wanna help?

Busy weeks ahead! Chris will be traveling for work this Friday through Thursday and then I leave that Thursday for a conference!  The kids will get lots of grandparent time and thankfully the grandparents are ok with that!

To kick off these busy two weeks I have a fun event to attend this Thursday.  I was contacted by and Libby's to participate in a meal kit creation and virtual can drive for families in need.  We will be creating meal kits this Thursday afternoon with Hannah Keeley.  Hanna is a mom of seven (SEVEN!) children, hosts a television show and is an author.  She's quite the organizational guru with a HUGE emphasis on family!  I'm looking forward to meeting her during our lunch and learning from her.  

You could get your chance to meet her as well, Thursday, September 16th at the Market District by Giant Eagle (5550 Centre Ave)!  She will be presenting from 5-7pm and it's open to the public.  Additionally, I'm hosting my own virtual can drive with Libby's which you can access over there to the right of the page.  A donation of $5 will feed 35 families in need!  Please help me to meet my goal!

Stay tuned for an update about our lunch and meeting Hannah and a fun giveaway from Libby's too!  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lots going on

And just like that it's September!  Mid September at that! the semester has started for all FOUR of us again! Chris is back to work for the year, I'm taking more classes, Max is in the 4 yr old preschool program at his school and that means one thing right? He had a birthday!  He's a full tried and true four year old inside and out.  He is growing so much and changing every day it's amazing!  His conversational skills are great now too.  He has an opinion about anything and has become a very inquisitive little boy.  Max started a question the other day like this, "Mom, I have a question and I'm very curious to know the answer." He went on to ask me, "What is thunder and lightning and how and why does it happen?"  Yes, that was a 3 part question that required quite a lot of explaining...  I love it!

As I mentioned above, the semester has started for all FOUR of us.  Yep that's right my baby, Andy, is in school too this year.  About a week and a half prior to Max heading back to school I decided to start researching a class that I could take to Andy once a week or so during the time that Max was in school.  This proved to be downright impossible to find.  However, in my searches I was directed to a school in Kennedy Township Called The Early Learning Institute (T.E.L.I.) (they have several locations in the Pittsburgh area for the local readers).  This facility started out as a school for children with special needs but as their program grew it became a favorite place for families to send their young children who do not have special needs.  T.E.L.I. now only has a few children with special needs and the majority are children without.

We took a tour, and signed him up.  Andy is now part of their 2 yr old preschool program and LOVES it!  He jumped right in on the first day with no issues with me leaving AT ALL!  Such a big boy!  the atmosphere is very laid back, they have a somewhat structured schedule, including circle time with stories and singing, play time, craft time and snack time.  They mostly learn how to interact with others outside of the family dynamic, letters, numbers and the usual little guy stuff.  One day a week and he's happy as a little lark because he gets to go to school too!  I in turn am happy as a mama lark because I get ONE morning a week that I can do my own thing by myself! I can run, I can work, I can grab a coffee, I can go grocery shopping, I can do nothing (probably won't ever happen).  It's a win - win for all of us!

One thing I'm already feeling I need some help with is finding healthy snacks for Max to take.  I currently have organic animal crackers from Costco, those dried apples/pears, bananas, strawberries from Costco, Cheese sticks, fresh fruit, apple sauce...  But I am worried these items will get old quickly... What healthy snack options do you use for your kids?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vacation 2010

The grass is burnt, the flowers are loosing the battle with the summer heat too, we have spent nearly the last 4 months outside and we have just returned from vacation.  What does it all mean? Summer 2010 is nearing it's end...

This summer we trekked north again to our family vacation spot on Cayuga Lake, one of the finger lakes in upstate New York.  Not much changes there, the people come and go, every year the family number seemingly gets lower and that is in a word, tragic. It is however a known reality.  Regardless, our time on the lake and IN the lake is always relaxing and fun!

This year we were lucky enough to work with Chevy and they provided us with a free ride there.  Chevy loaned us a 2010 Traverse LTZ.  This SUV was fully loaded with XM Radio, OnStar Directions and Connections (navigation), a ceiling mounted DVD entertainment system complete with two wireless headsets for the back seats(!)*cue angels singing*, and a TON more! Wow, what a ride this was, the DVD system alone made the trip so peaceful and enjoyable with our two toddlers that I've decided a portable dvd player is a must have before vacation 2011. 

While at the lake we did the usual eat, swim, play and swim, eat, swim, nap, snack, swim, eat, swim/play routine nearly every day! It was glorious!  I got to run on the lake road (awesome view the entire time and wow cooler temps really help... this muggy hot crap we've had for the last 6 weeks NEEDS to move on... my running is suffering)... The kids had fun, Chris and I had fun, the Grandparents had fun and so did the aunt and uncle even though they are lucky to still be able to pass said crazy toddler back to said responsible parent when things get a little out of control.  Everyone lost a bit of their hearing due to said crazy toddlers but in the end I think everyone enjoyed the company of each other.  The kids became much more comfortable in the water, although proper swim lessons are in order next Spring! 

One afternoon the grandparents suggested that we take a few hours and hit up some winerys alone!  Yippee! The kids were napping and Chris had done a little googling and found an interesting place to check out called Three Brothers Wineries & Estates.  It featured three wineries and a brewery!  Jackpot!  We called the OnStar navigation operator, gave her the street address and she beamed the directions to the car! We listened to some hilarious comedy on the XM radio and the navigation system broke in when it was time to change course.  It was GREAT! I had never used OnStar navigation before and I was quite impressed.  It's easy to use and 100% hands free.  That's a big plus! 

The wineries were a HUGE hit!  Three Brothers features three wineries as I mentioned already, there is the top of the hill, high end winery, there is the middle of the road, having some fun in the back seat winery which featured sweeter wines that would easily get ya tipsy if you split a bottle with your husband and there is Bagg Dare.... fashioned after a backwater town on the bayou complete with pirates(?), hoochies, rusted out trucks and misspelled words (lol).  This was some hooch!  but good hooch at that!  I usually like a fairly dry red wine and these were not even close, but who doesn't like sweet cold alcoholic beverages on a hot summer day?  We enjoyed it and had some fun trying new wines and talking with the folks that work there.  We even bought a few bottles to bring home.  Let's just say that stuff is pretty dangerous!

We also stopped at  Americana Winery on the way back to the house and it offered very good dry wines that we also enjoyed.  We had a good time talking to a guy there too - he reminded us several times that "this is America you can do anything you like!"  Love it!

One morning we took the kids blueberry picking - it was super fun, here's a little video you can watch from that adventure:

Picking Blueberries from StartPoint Media on Vimeo.

By Friday it was time to pack up the car, take one last swim in the lake, have some lunch and hop in the Traverse for our trip back home.  On our way out of town we stopped at Lively Run Goat Dairy where we took a tour and tasted some cheese!  They had some kids who were 13 weeks old - SOOO cute!  We brought home some YUMMY French Style Chevre goat cheese too!

 Our drive home was a little less enjoyable due to toddlers and their potty habits and the monkey see monkey do mentality of a JUST potty trained 2 1/2 yr old... let's just say a 7 hour drive with 7 stops... NOT the best combo.

Fall is just a few weeks away, soon Max will be back in preschool (3 days a week this year), I'll be back in school for the semester and we'll have a normal schedule again.  I think we all are in need of a little structure after our summer of fun!

This post is a bit of a hybrid post, a round up of our family vacation and a review for Chevy.  They gave us the Traverse for the week with a full tank of gas and in return they have received some tweets mentioning Chevy and Traverse while we were on vacation. The opinions here are all my own. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Running - Couch to 5K

Completed! A few weeks ago I wrote about how I started the Couch to 5K program, at that time I was in week 4 of training and nervous about a 20 minute long run ahead of me in week 5.  Well, I completed week 5 moved on to weeks 6, 7 and 8 and today completed day 3 of week 9.  That means I finished the program and I've been running for 30 minutes straight for my last 3 runs! 

Now before I mislead anyone, I want to point something out.  If you follow along with the workouts you'll see there is a running time and distance that should directly correspond with each other.  I have continuously fell short in the distance portion of this program.  Week 9's 30 minute runs should result in 3 miles of running (that's nearly a 5K) and my time should be a 10 minute mile.  I'm short by a FULL mile! And that means I'm running a 15 minute mile which isn't really something to write home about.  After I started to realize that I wasn't quite making it in the distance category I decided I kinda didn't care.  Because, well I was running for 25 then 27, and now 30 minutes straight with no walking breaks and THAT is a feat that I never thought I could do! I started to read forums and ask around among my other friends who were also doing C25K and they too were having the same distance problem. Knowing that others are also struggling to get the distance makes me feel a little better.  I don't mean that in a negative way either, I just mean that I'm not alone in this and that most of us who have never run before are having the same issues. Motivation enough to keep me going!

I've decided to keep running.  A 30 minute run is a GREAT place to be.  I feel good after I run, I'm noticing changes with my body (as are others ;) ) and with regards to my schedule and how much time I have to run, this seems to work for now.  I do have plans for the future... I plan to run a 5k this fall.  Prior to that I will continue to run 3 times a week for 30 minutes. I will be working on my form in hopes to increase my distance and I will be adding some hill training into the mix a bit too. 

As for long term running goals.  We'll see where it takes me.  For right now, I'm content with the current time it takes me to run.  I'm willing to put a little more into it but not much.  I don't see 10K's in my future but that could change.  I guess the lesson learned here is never say never or in my case, I can't...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Camping: Toddler Style

We loaded up the minivan (seriously, when did this happen to me?!) last week with our camping gear.  In addition to our camping gear of yesteryear we had only a few EXTRA items than usual: a 2nd air mattress, 2 small chairs, extra pairs of tiny undies, TWO children under 4 years of age and a LOT less beer than usual. That's right we took the boys on their first overnight camping trip.

We wanted to keep it simple, keep it close to home and have some fun.  We headed about a half hour away to Raccoon State Park.  We chose this location because if the trip took a turn for the worse and we had to pack up and come home in a rush we wouldn't have far to drive.  I am pretty certain we both knew we had nothing to worry about though.  I knew both boys would be fine....

We got to our site, we chose to be close to the potty which I have to point out were very clean and tidy.  I had no problem taking my toddlers in there and we all know how touchy feely toddlers can be.  There was also plenty of hand soap and the sinks were clean too!  No smells what-so-ever either! All BIG pluses! The site we chose was somewhat private too.  We had neighbors to one side and others up around the road loop.  We can only HOPE that Andy didn't keep those folks up too late (until 11:30 pm) with his random squeals and yelling and our persistent shushing.

We set up camp, built a camp fire, cooked some dinner, enjoyed some marshmallows, enjoyed the fire, and greeted some visitors.  Visitors of the 4 legged, rings around the eyes kind.  Yes, Raccoon State Park is properly named RACCOON State Park.  Just around twilight, these little buggers came out of their dens and started to scavenge for food.  Our site was as tidy as it could have been considering we were toting two toddlers... I'm pretty sure one furry "friend" got a noodle from some pasta salad and a half a bite of hot dog.  Other than that, we didn't have much else to offer them other than the smell of food.  They didn't hesitate to check out the site though.  Frankly it was a little (read: a LOT) unnerving for me.  I've got two little guys that aren't much bigger than a well fed raccoon so I was more worried about them vs. the kids than I was worried that one of the rascals might take my marshmallows.... the kids thought they were HILARIOUS though and are still talking about the silly raccoons.

Needless to say, we got the boys in the tent and tucked in, kept the raccoons at bay while enjoying some beers and once our little guys were FINALLY asleep (2 hours of shushing later), we too hit the air mattress.  AS SOON as we were in the tent and it was zipped up we could hear a few raccoons enter the site looking for scraps. 

It was a good time, a little stressful though, keeping a very active 2 1/2 year old OUT of a fire ring is NOT an easy task.  In fact it's quite exhausting.  Both boys enjoyed the campfire, enjoyed watching daddy cook dinner over said fire and they managed to kept surprisingly clean.  In fact, I put the same clothes they came in back on them in the morning while we waited for breakfast to cook.  Daddy makes a kick ass (toddler edit) YUMMY camp breakfast (too bad mommy forgot the cast iron skillet though or it would have been better....).  Regardless, it was fun, the kids had fun and we learned how to camp with toddlers.

What will I do differently for next time? Bring some toys! What was I thinking?!  I didn't bring anything ANYTHING for them to play with!  I gave them tasks like collecting twigs for the fire and looking for bugs but that only kept them busy for a little while.  I'll be sure to remember their magnifying glasses and bug cups next time and maybe a few trucks, a ball, a bucket and some sort of toddler game.  I DID have a toddler card game but it was too advanced for Andy therefore it was frustrating for Max to learn and understand while his little brother was kicking me and him while I played three hands of this game myself while they watched me move cards around... I think I was still expecting to arrive on site, set up camp and sit in my camp chair with a few beers and enjoy the great outdoors... not sure why I was thinking I could relax WITH my toddlers!  ha!

I hope to have another camping experience this summer and instead of just doing a quick overnight I would love to spend two nights and hike and swim a bit during the day.  I think doing something with them to wear them out would help with the falling asleep part in the evening.  I also would like to go somewhere with LESS raccoons much to the dismay of my kids.

Have you taken your toddlers camping? What kinds of toys or activities do you take with you? What do you like to cook while camping?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fireworks, Thunder and Lightning Bugs

Both of my boys have a fear of fireworks, I attribute that to my idiotic neighborhood that believes from Memorial Day to Labor Day (and other special occasions like at 12:00 am on Jan. 1st and after big Monday night football wins, to celebrate Halloween and maybe after a hockey playoff game or 25!) is actually known as the best time of the year to shoot off fireworks, bottle rockets and any other type of pyrotechnic noise maker at 9pm or so on any random night of the week because well, that's the BEST time to wake up all the just fallen asleep toddlers within a 3 block radius forever scaring the bejesus out of them and in turn giving them a irrational fear of loud booming sounds for ever and ever amen. (holy run-on)

Last night, I put the boys to bed, it was a little later than usual for them.  I was cleaning up around the house and outside when for no explainable reason, I heard some shouting and BOOOM! It was loud enough to make the hair on my arms stand up, my leg hair grow and my heart skip a beat.  Less than 2 minutes later, same thing, shouting and BOOOM! Almost like that loud noise you sometimes hear at parades, I don't know if it's trucks backfiring or pyrotechnics but it's loud and it's ground shaking and to a unsuspecting child it's quite alarming.  I came inside both times to listen for the kids and no one spoke up or made a sound so I let them go.

Well, first question out of Max's mouth this morning was, "Mama!  What was that big loud noise last night?" We talked about it, I told him I wasn't sure (because I wasn't and I didn't want to tell him it was fireworks because that would further solidify his fear of them - forever dashing my dreams of watching them with my kids on the fourth of July)....  I asked if it scared him, he said no but that he covered his ears in preparation for the next one.  He's a smart one!  Then he said he fell asleep.  Then Andy chimed in with the questions, he was mostly just repeating what Max had asked but I'm certain he heard them too.  We all talked about it a bit longer then the topic was dropped and we moved on to Cheerios or something breakfast related.

Fast forward to our conversation this afternoon, I was telling them about how it's June and that means it's lightning bug season, I mentioned that we might stay up late one night to see them since I'm fairly certain that my kids have never seen lightning bugs.  They are always in bed before these bugs come out and on the rare occasion my boys would have been up during past lightning bug seasons they would have been very young and would not have really understood what they were seeing.  So then Max starts to tell me that he is afraid of lightning bugs because they are noisy (Andy is agreeing) and that maybe the loud noise we heard last night was lightning bugs.  (get it?  lighting is noisy so lightning BUGS must be too right?) So adorable.... So then Andy chimes in with how if the lightning bugs are out and it's loud and we're scared then we need "umbwewas" and we would need to hurry so we don't get wet and that it might be loud and that we really need to remember our "umbwewas" if we're going to stay up late to see these lightning bugs. And YES, he mentioned the "umbwewas" twice!  LOL

I of course assured them that lightning bugs were NOT noisy and that they were only called lightning bugs because they light up when it's dark.  I'm fairly certain they have NO clue how to comprehend that... but I sure am excited to share lightning bugs with them one evening this week!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just the three of us, some hot dogs and a little giving back.

This past weekend was the first of quite a few weeks and weekends through the end of July that Chris will be out of town and I'll be home with the boys.  With a packed schedule of traveling and workshops for him that will leave me with LOTS of time to plan play dates, zoo visits and park visits for just the three of us.  And I'll tell you what, I'm ok with that.

This weekend (a three day-er) was beautiful.  I had planned some fun activities outside of the house for us.  They included a visit to Grandma and Papa's for dinner one night and the Better-Than-A-Picnic Picnic with Hebrew National the next day.  Saturday, despite the wet forecast, I packed up the kids and some snacks and headed to Highland Park where we met up with the Hebrew National Crew and a few of my local blogger friends from for an afternoon of picnic food and a little community service too.

We got there is it was POURING.  I parked, pulled up the radar map on my phone and we waited it out a few minutes.  When the rain let up a little we went to our picnic.  I had told the kids we would have hot dogs and they were READY to eat!  We enjoyed our hot dogs and a few apples and multiple bananas!  Then it was time to get to work.  The service project was to remove some invasive plants from the park.  Much to my surprise, my kids WANTED to weed!  We found our plant and went to town! We filled two garbage bags with Garlic Mustard (invasive) and another with trash!  Upon our return to the picnic area our friend Amy and her family were arriving.  So we visited with them while they ate and then we headed to the playground on the other side of the park together!

The kids had fun, I had fun, we didn't let the weather hold us hostage at home and that felt great!  The kids seem to have turned a corner too.  More and more they are able to stick nearby and entertain themselves a bit while I have a conversation or two and that is quite liberating! They are also interested in more "big" kid activities like weeding!  They wanted to follow the trail and help with trash too and that was a lot of fun!  I'm looking forward to taking them to a few new parks solo this summer, a task that was quite daunting prior to this Spring because they weren't interested in sticking together at all. Consistently, one would always run one way and the other would run the opposite...and that is WAY to stressful for one parent to manage. 

I've got some fun and exciting things planned for the next few weeks of my solo parenting gig!  I'm sure I'll blog about some of them too!  We're headed to a Splash park within the next two weeks and I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A New Hobby or Lifestyle - Running

I have joined the bandwagon or herd or pack shall we say, I've started running.  I know I know!  I am not sure how many times I have said it in the past, "I can't run!" "My body just wasn't made to run." or "Running? you have got to be crazy to run!"  yeah... I said that.  I also said, "I will NEVER drive a mini-van! EVAH!" yeah, you can see where that got me (proud new owner of a Mazda5 A.K.A. mini-van).... 

For the past few months, I've been watching friends update their facebook pages about their running endeavors. I would read their comments and their blogs about running and think, 'wow, ya know, she has four kids and still manages to find the time to run' or 'her schedule is much like ours CRAY ZEE and she finds the time too and hot damn she's looking great in those jeans'.  Pile those on top of a few others who modestly were running and mentioning it here or there and then add that to the running hype up that happens in the months and weeks prior to a local marathon or race.  On a very regular schedule I had one or two friends posting updates about their marathon training or race running.  That was enough for me to catch the bug and I started the couch to 5k running program a few days before the Pittsburgh Marathon. 

I just completed week 4, which means I'm a little behind on the schedule.  I had some major knee pain during weeks 2-3 that slowed me down, I gave myself a few extra days in between my runs to recuperate and it seemed to do the trick.  I woke up one morning with NO pain and I was ready to run again. 

C25K is a 9 week program that starts the runner out by running in short 60 second spurts between brisk walking.  Each week the running portions increase in time.  So far at the end of week 4, the longest time that I've run has been for 5 minutes straight. Next week that jumps to 8 minutes and then to 10 minutes and then to one 20 minute run all in the same week - it's going to be challenging but I am confident that I can do it!  In fact, I'm actually a little excited about the challenge.  Who the heck?  I don't think I've EVER EVER been excited about a physical challenge!  HA!  Something has changed folks...  something.has.changed. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

CD Review: One eskimO

For my loyal readers and for those of you who may have just landed here for the first time today, I wanted to introduce you to a new feature of my blog.  The REVIEW feature.  From time to time, I'll be blogging about music, products and services.  All of the opinions you read here will be my own.  I will merely be reviewing said items with my own thoughts and feelings about them.  I will always tell you upfront that what you're reading is a review and I will always include information regarding my compensation in order to comply with FCC regulations for bloggers.

I was selected to review a self titled CD from One eskimO and let me tell you, this CD has now been officially placed into my own HEAVY ROTATION category for my own music listening pleasure!  One eskimO is a band of four guys from the UK (I have a thing for music from the UK)....  their sound is quite mellow which I really like!  I think it's the perfect soundtrack for warm weather chillin' on the deck with a drink, preferably beer or wine and being in the company of someone you kinda dig ;)  Currently they have a hit song called Kandi and you can see the video here:

I don't want to compare One eskimO to any other band but I will name a few that come to mind when listening to their album...  the use of saxophones and horns makes me think of Dave Matthews Band, the same goes for their melodic and happy vocals.  Another band that comes to mind is Oasis although, I'll be honest, I'm not sure why, maybe it's the mellow factor here? They really do remind me of music I listened to quite a bit in college but I still have a place for them in my mp3 player these days too (Jamiroquai also comes to mind here too).  Aside from who they remind me of they really do have a sound that is all their own.  It's modern and fresh without too much of one thing or too little of another.  This CD can be rated G from what I can tell and that means it is safe for the under 18 crowd.  My toddlers have heard parts of the CD in the car and around the house and they too seem to enjoy it, they are slightly picky with their musical tastes and prefer to listen to Humpty Dumpty or Dave Matthews...  I'm trying to help them branch out a bit.  LOL!

One eskimO has just launched their Spring/Summer tour, check out their site to see if they are visiting a city near you.  You can also get a free download of their song "Astronauts" via Twitter.  They can be found on Facebook too!

I received a full copy of One eskimO's self titled CD in order to listen to their music and write this review.