Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hoping that you are enjoying some time with your friends and family, celebrating in the way that is perfect for you.

  • Whether a large gathering or an intimate group
  • Whether loud and boisterous or calm and quiet
  • Whether fancy or simple
  • Whether at home or away

Enjoy, my friends, and

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Can Find Me Here Today...

I was one of several bloggers recently interviewed by a local mommy blog about being a mommy blogger.  You can check out the post right here
To say I was flattered to be interviewed is a huge understatement! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sibling competition

Oh, my goodness!  Our two kids are provoking each other tonight.  One tells a joke and messes up the punch line, and the other - in a very sassy tone - lets the other one know, "That's not funny."  And, just a few moments ago, Miss M revived the "One, One Hundred" argument.  It's been going on for well over a week now.  Miss M will ask, "What's one plus zero plus zero?"  Mister J, interpreting her question as a math problem, will say, "One."  And then she says, "No, it's one hundred."  (Get it? 1 and 0 and 0 is 100, as she's at the leaning-to-write stage, not the arithmetic stage.  So, a one followed by two zeros is 100.)  And they argue back and forth, and eventually come to one of us to referee.  Daily.  {bangs head on desk}

Also, on the way into Best Buy this evening, Mister J was proud that he could walk and do jumping jacks at the same time.  Which he proceeded to do across the parking lot.  And this was before we ate our Krispy Kreme doughnuts for dessert.  (Actually, it was about that time that we decided to save them until tomorrow...)

Have I mentioned that Christmas Break started this afternoon?  Come January, I'm gonna need a vacation to recover from their vacation....

Winner, Winner, Cake Square Dinner

Well, with 20 cake square coupons, you could certainly fill up!  (Though probably not recommended!)

I took nine slips of paper, wrote a name on them for every comment received, folded them up, then let my kids draw the names out of a basket (sorry, no photographic evidence...), and the winners of this giveaway are:

  • Amanda (I'll bring yours to church!)
  • Meredith (I know where to find you...)
  • Sarah (please leave a comment here with your email address - name - at - email - dot - com style and I'll contact you for your mailing address)
  • Rosalind (I have your mailing address already)
  • Angela (email me your mailing address)
Don't feel left out, Patrice - I'm going to send you a little something, too! 

Thanks, y'all, for entering!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Overheard #40

It's a "snow day" here, and even though we've been hanging out inside today I made my kids go upstairs for rest time.  Miss M gets rest time every day at school, and she needs it.  Mister J needs it too, since we are supposed to be at a Christmas get-together tonight - weather and road conditions permitting.  Here's my most recent rest-related exchange with my mom-napper:

Mister J:  Mom, how much longer?
Me: Please go lay back down.  I'll come get you when rest time is over.

...time passes...

Mister J: Mom, when is rest time over?
Me: In a while. (This was about the 4th interruption by a child who was supposed to be resting...)
Mister J:  How long is a while?

Oh, dear. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

NEW SHOES - Take 2...

So, as it turns out, the Sauconys were contributing to some major calf pain (think "ice and rest").  I'll skip over all of the boring details, but the amazing folks at the local running store where I shop helped me find a(nother) new pair of running shoes.  And here they are...

ASICS GT-2160 in Carbon/White/Plum

I've already taken them out for a (quick, because it was in the 30s) run, and so far - so good.  NO calf pain after the run, and my feet (my typical problem area) felt great.  Can't wait to get out for my next run, but right now there's snow on the ground (oh, and it's 11:08pm).  Hopefully tomorrow will shape up to be a good - though cool - day for an afternoon run!

PS - Don't forget to enter my cake square giveaway!  Only four days left to enter!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stocking Stuffers

I wasn't quite on-the-ball enough this year for us to participate in Operation Christmas Child, but we did choose another giving opportunity to benefit children.  Our local Chick-Fil-As also collect Salvation Army stockings, so we chose to stuff two for children close in age to Mister J and Miss M.

Armed with our lists, I let the kids select most of the items on their own.  When we still had money left over (I'd estimated what it would cost as I planned out budget for the week), I picked up a few more items and surprised the kids with them when it was time to stuff the stockings.  Here's what we ended up with:

Miss M's items for a 3- to 5-year-old girl
Socks, mittens, hat, headbands and ponytail holders, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a book, a puzzle, some lacing cards, flashcards, and a travel-size m@gna-doodle
It's nearly as big as she is!

Mister J's items for a 7ish-year-old boy
Socks, mittens, hat, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a book, three Hot Wh33ls cars, flashcards, hair brush, slinky, juggling beanbags, and bend@roos (truly fun for nearly any age)
That stocking is pretty heavy!
I was so proud of my kiddos for shopping their way down the lists to fill the stockings!  We had to be mindful of finding things that would fit into the stockings, and the kids also thought about some details that they felt would be important to the kids receiving these items: they selected the characters on the toothpaste, toothbrush, books, etc., and chose between different options for the toys, socks, at other items.  Oh, how much fun we had paying for the first round of items and finding we could bless the children with even more goodies!  And then, it was time to drop them off!
The bittersweet part of all of this is teaching our children that not everyone has as much as we have - tangible or intangible.  That there are people out there with few possessions - like warm clothing.  There were tears when we had a real-life example of people without enough food to eat.  We've talked about people who can't afford medical care or who are far from home because their child is very sick.  Thankfully, we are in a position to be able to do something to help - and I hope it's a lesson that lasts a lifetime.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Local Helping Hand {giveaway!}

I enjoy keeping up with local bloggers and tweeters - it's been a great way to learn more about the city we call home (since we didn't grow up here), and a way to make some fun local connections.  Not too long ago, I got connected to our local Ronald McDonald House (web, blog, twitter, Facebook) as they were celebrating a recent expansion.  Just a few days after I started following on twitter, I got the message that they were in need of some pantry items.  As it turned out, our entire family was in Costco at the time, so we added a few things to our cart and made plans to visit the House!
So glad to be here!
Getting ready to unload our goodies!
And now, the RMH has given me some goodies to share with you! 
Yes, those are coupons for free cake squares from Dewey's!  I've got five sets of twenty coupons each, and all you have to do is leave a comment!  I'll award a coupon book to each of  five winners!

To enter:  I'd love to hear ways that you try to teach your children about giving, but any old comment will do.
Extra entries (leave me a separate comment if you do 1, 2, or 3)
1) Follow @RMHWinstonSalem on twitter
2) Subscribe to the RMH Winston-Salem blog
3) Like the Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem on Facebook
4) Send a friend over to leave a comment and enter the giveaway!  If they let me know that you sent them, you will get an extra entry!
The fine print: The coupons have no expiration date (yay!), but since Dewey's is a local business, this giveaway is open to local folks (or those willing to drive here to use them...). 

If you don't know me in real or bloggy life, be sure to leave a way for me to contact you (name at email dot com).  I'll draw the winners on Thursday, December 16th (or maybe use, but I think my kids would have fun drawing the names), and try to contact you by the 17th for your mailing address.  I'll post the winners here, too - so if you didn't win, you know who you need to meet at Dewey's for coffee and cake squares!

By the way, if you don't win - or if one pack just isn't enough - these coupon books are also for sale at the Ronald McDonald House through Christmas.  The booklets are $5 each (remember: 20 coupons in each booklet) and all of the proceeds go to the RMH!  I sent them to school for my son's birthday (no cupcakes allowed at school, but these were a fun substitute!), and they would also make great teacher gifts or stocking stuffers!

Best of luck, readers - I'll be waiting for the comments to start rolling in!

Monday, December 6, 2010

More, More, More!

Just a brief post tonight - it's late, and it's been a busy day! 

We recently celebrated Mister J's birthday, so I owe you a post about that.  And I wrapped up my 5K training with a run on Saturday morning.  Yes, both of those happened in the same weekend.  Also, while planning for said Very Busy Weekend, I decided that the front room (formerly the kid office, and originally intended for a dining room), needed to be painted before we put up the Christmas tree.  Does the 'birthday and then paint a room' thing sound familiar?

I'm also planning to post about some neat things we've done with the kids during this 'season of giving' - things that I hope we will continue throughout the year.  And - there's a giveaway coming really soon!  (As excited as I want everyone to be, it's limited to locals only - sorry!  But it'll be part of a really neat post I have about something we did with the kids - so please read anyway!)  (ETA neat thing #1 and neat thing #2/giveaway)

And, besides the promised blog posts, what does this week hold?  Well, tonight we had to pick up the last boxes of Boy Scout Popcorn and go to the official "end of 5K training" celebration.  Tomorrow my boys will be going to a skating party with the Cub Scouts.  I'll also be shopping around for new light fixtures tomorrow and picking up a paint roller (as in purchasing, and as in using...).  Oh, and it's dance day for my sweet girl.  Wednesday - Christmas get-together.  Thursday - I'm going to the launch party for this cool blog!  And Mister J has a school project due on Friday.  After that - rest?  I'm committed to spending the weekend with my family.  Just the four of us, nothing scheduled.  It's COLD here this week, so maybe we'll just snuggle up on the couch and watch movies/nap.  That would be nice, eh?  Note to self: find a good crock-pot recipe before your next grocery run (which comes right after you clean out the fridge...).

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

And you can mark that off of your list...

Whee!  Yippee!  Woohoo!  Today's run was the goal race for my 5K training It was 33 degrees when I left my house this morning, and I didn't even notice the cold.  I was crazy excited!  Also, there wind that we've had the last couple of days was gone, so it just didn't seem as cold.

My goal for the training was to run a 5K in 45 minutes.  Today's run results - 43:34 (14:02 pace) - which is pretty consistent with my results from the Thanksgiving 5K. I was thrilled to find these posted just a little while ago!

And here's me - even before I knew the results - celebrating with my running buddy!

So, a few things I've learned in the last twelve weeks:
1) I love to run
2) I'm tougher than I thought
3) Running with a friend is way more fun
4) I get a little crazy when the endorphins kick in
5) Running changes everything!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pizza, Pudding, and Popcorn

This alliterative lunch theme was a hit with my kids, who helped me pick out the 3rd P item - popcorn.  We had pizza leftover from Sunday - we typically order pizza on big house-cleaning days (which is how we spent Sunday afternoon) - so the kids were excited to have leftovers today.  I suggested the pudding, and asked them what other "p" food I could include.  Perhaps not the most balanced meal, but certainly fun.  I think their lunchtime should be enjoyable, so I played along!  They did enjoy their lunches, and Mister J declared that I "make the best pudding ever!" 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A little bloggy help

I mentioned, through a blog comment earlier this evening, that I am currently looking for some new casual dinnerware.  I even went so far as to lay out my specs:  ivory with a pattern (but no extra color), non-rimmed bowls, mugs instead of cup/saucer.  Five hours later, what should I find in my inbox but a list of suggestions with links from my bloggy friend!  And?  She totally hit the mark.  I think I found my favorite - now I just have to start saving up! 

It's very similar in design to some dinnerware that I found earlier in the year at one of the big box stores - which I bought, brought home, then found that about half of the boxed items were flawed.  I have continued searching, however I'm not a big 'shopper' so it's been a slow process.  But now?  I just may have the answer!

Oh, you want to see the design?  It's Antique Bead from Ballard Designs
There were a couple of other suggestions, including this one, which I also like:
Primvere, also by Ballard Designs, and also at the top of my list. 

So, what's next?  Well, I'll run these photos by Big J, and see what he thinks.  If we find one that we both like, then we'll just start saving up.  Getting excited!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Prayer

For the second year in a row, Miss M has volunteered to say the blessing at our family Thanksgiving meal (11 adults, 5 children, 4 generations).  Even her prayers are sweet, sweet scene-stealers....

"Thank God for our food, so we can grow up big and go to college, and have Thanksgiving with God."

Can I have an "AMEN!" ?

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

For the Record...

Yes, probably boring to anyone but me, but here are my race stats for the local Turkey Strut 5K this morning:

Place 453 (out of 913)
Rank 454
Mile 2 - 28:23
Rank - 443
Mile 3 - 14:20
Gun Time - 45:01 (one second over my training goal - and this includes 1:15 to get to the start)
Gun Pace - 14:30
Chip Time - 43:44
Chip Pace - 14:05

Definitely not speedy, but I'm very pleased with how it went.  I started out running solo, but caught up with a friend along the way.  Also, I forgot to charge my iPod, it was 43 degrees, and we even got rained on a bit.  BUT - it was a great run for me, and I'm looking forward to our end-of-training-run in just a few days!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Overheard #39

As Miss M was sitting down to write her Christmas List last evening:

"Mom, can you help me write my Christmas options?"

Love her!  It was a joy to help her spell out the things on her list, which were:
Box of Princess Dress Up - a box of dress-up clothes from Costco.  Unfortunately, I think they are sized too small for her.
Moving Chair with Flashing Lights - a massage chair, also at Costco.  This short description really doesn't do justice to the detail with which she originally described it, but we had to fit it all on one page!
Toy Story 3 - self-explanatory

Sunday, November 21, 2010

5K Wrap-Up

I'm so glad I decided to do a practice 5K before my goal run next month!  I learned a few important lessons:

1) Running with a group of 200 people is not like running with 100 or so folks at my twice-weekly coached runs.  Especially with many of them are kids.
2) It is very difficult to anticipate which way another runner will move (if at all) when they hear you coming up from behind them.
3) Even on a closed race course, the sound of the police escort motorcycle right behind you will still unnerve you.
4) Running with earbuds in both ears is not necessarily a good plan for me.
5) It's hard to drink a cup of water without spillage - even when walking - so be prepared to wear some of it.  It was definitely worth it anyway.

And confirmed a few things I already knew:
1) It's so much more fun to run with a friend.
2) I really need to hold off on the base layer of long sleeves until the high temp is in the 40s.  I was a little too warm, especially since there was almost no shade on the course.

I'm so glad my husband and kids came along - I have some great photographs and had a great cheering squad!  I'm posting just a couple of photos - because many of them are close-up with photos of other folks I don't know, and because I'm still a bit self-conscious about how I look in my running gear :)

Attaching the timing chip to my shoe.  I was geeking out just a little bit....

Approximately one mile in the course.  Got to see my family again at the 1.5 mile mark - what a treat!
Come to think of it, the kids were using a second camera that morning.  I need to take a peek at the run from their perspective!  I'm sure they also took some shots of the bouncy house they were looking forward to enjoying post-race.  (Update: Lots of closeup self-portraits and photos of the ground [and most of those with Miss M's feet].  Some good shots of the family walking from starting line to mile one to the halfway point and back to the finish. No photos of bouncy house taken by the kids.)

I was really surprised to learn that the timing chip saved me 14 seconds on my time!  The group was large enough that it took me 14 seconds to get across the starting line once the race began.  I opted to start near the back, not knowing how my pace would compare to everyone else's.  I quickly realized that I was a little too far back, pace-wise, but that's just a part of the learning curve, I suppose.

The most exciting thing - besides crossing the finish line - was realizing that I finished nearly 4 minutes faster than my end-of-training goal!  It wasn't my best run - the music threw my pace off a bit, I think, and I got tired early on - but I still did well.  It was also a relatively flat course compared to what I usually run, which probably worked in my favor.  Nevertheless, it gives me a new goal to work towards!

For now, I'm looking forward to running with my running buddies again and sharing the lessons that I learned in my first 5K!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Overheard #38

This morning, upon coming downstairs and finding the kids not only awake, but playing Wii....

Mommy: "How long have you two been up?"

Miss M: "About an inch and a half..."

A) It's Saturday and B) that was funny, so I just didn't fuss about the whole playing-wii-without-actual-permission thing.  They have been waiting  for the weekend this week (they usually don't ask "When's the next no-school day?"  It's been a long, busy week...), so I'll let them play just a bit longer.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Exciting! Or, One Big Reason for the Blog Quiet Over Here

OK, maybe only exciting to me.... I'm running in my first timed event tomorrow! Whee! 

I'm ten weeks into my twelve-week training program, and I'm running a couple of 5Ks to help me prepare for the target run.  This run has around 250 runners (yep, I was a late registrant), so it'll be a good 'break-in' for the big race in two weeks. 

Ten weeks ago, I could barely run for one minute.  When I began training, we were running 1-minute run, 2-minute walk intervals and our 'long run' for the week was 1.25 miles.  Now the intervals are 4 minutes running and 1 minute walking (or more when/if you can), and our long run this week was 3.25 miles.  My 'short run' next week is 3 miles - so I'll be running a 5K on Thanksgiving Day! 

Have I mentioned that I'm excited?  Heck, I'm not just excited, I'm proud, too!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Technical Socks and NEW Shoes!

Last week, I realized it was time for new running shoes.  In fact, I'm close enough to my 5K that it was "now or never" time - to ensure enough time to break in the new kicks.  I can't tell you how exciting it was to realize that I'd worn out a pair of shoes by running!  So, this new pair should get me about 500 miles - which turnsout to be less than a year if I keep up this pace.  Want to see what I got?

It's the Pro-Grid Omni by Saucony.  I also added a pair of SuperFeet inserts - the green ones - and I can already feel some improvement over my previous pair of inserts.  I have to add, though, that there is definitely going to be an adjustment period for the new shoes.  Mondays are my longest run of the week, and I'm not sure I'll be wearing the new running shoes tonight.  (Plus, it might be raining - a really good reason to wear the old, dirty shoes!)

I also picked up a pair of technical socks for running.  I chose Feetures! Original No-Show with Tab.  I love that they wick moisture (just like my other technical apparel) and that they are very soft and seamless, but I'll have to get used to them being a little more 'slippery' in my shoe (which may work out somewhat over time, but is definitely expected with synthetic fibers).

I'm running my first "real" 5K this Saturday (by "real" I mean one that had an entry fee)!  It's not my target race, but I'm running this one as a practice for the target race next month.  Saturday's will be timed, and I don't think I'll be running with anyone that I know, so it should be interesting.  I may try to find/charge/load songs to my iPod shuffle if I can find some time this week.  It'll make the time go by more quickly, for sure!

Just as an FYI to my readers, I'm not compensated by any of the companies mentioned above.  I'm just sharing my personal experience with the items that I have purchased and used in pursuit of my own fitness goals.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Silly Boy! (also... Overheard #37)

Last Saturday, upon realizing that the knees of his blue jeans were green:

"Oh, man - grass grease!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

October Fun!

Here are just a few of the photos from our trip to the pumpkin patch and a photo of my favorite trick-or-treaters.  I love fall!!!  Enjoy!

 A trip to the pumpkin patch isn't just a chance to pick a pumpkin - there are wagons, a cornstalk 'house' and a place that's set up specifically for taking pictures (which we never end up using). 
 The kids do a lot of running around before we ever start looking at pumpkins.
 See what I mean?  Miss M, in particular, doesn't stop for the camera - at all.
I loved these bumpy pumpkins!   And the regular ones, too.  Fall is my favorite season (but can you call it fall when you wear short sleeves to pick out your pumpkins?).

For Halloween,  the kids dressed up as Optimus Prime and Cinderella.  I have to admit I was a little sad that their costumes were completely store-bought.  I have had so much fun making costumes these past few years - mostly Mister J's, since Miss M has worn some lovely second-hand costumes (until last year when I made her into Angelina Ballerina).  Whether I made it or found it second-hand, there was always some work - and some love - put into each costume.  But - when I realized just how much they loved their costumes and saw them having such a great time getting 'recognized' at each house, I got over my pity party pretty quickly. 

We opted to trick-or-treat in our neighborhood this year (rather than travel around a bit to festivals and family members' homes like last year), and spent about two hours walking around with our neighbors and their two children.  The kids had so much fun together - and the adults had a good time, too!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jeopardy! (also, Overheard #36)

From my Facebook status last night:

My 6-and-3/4-year-old just answered a Jeopardy! question all by himself. Way to go, Mister J!

And after someone inquired as to the question:

Honestly, I didn't hear the whole question - but I heard him say "bamboo", then the contestant said "bamboo", and then Alex said "correct". And then we all celebrated with Mister J :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keeping Track of My Days, 2 Years and Counting

Another quick post about something I love - the momAgenda!  Friends, if you don't have a calendar that makes you happy, you MUST check this one out!  Non-mom friends, there's the myAgenda for you - personally, I love the mochacinno!  Tweens and teens, check out the myPlan - in three color combination, including zebra! 

There's no better time to give it a try than when it's on SALE! 

and 30% off of the myPlan!

Although the current momAgenda started back in August, it goes through December of 2011 - so you still can put over a year's worth of appointments, reminders, and to-dos in one pretty, hardworking, made-for-you package! Let me know if you decide to give the momAgenda, myAgenda, or myPlan a try!

Confession - yes, it's a bit pricier than your average calendar, but it's got an awesome layout and the cover is bulletproof!  Well, at least kid- and coffee-proof!  I always wait for a sale to purchase mine!  And, yes, I write about it a LOT.  Can't help it!  It's a bit of an obsession....

My first momAgenda
Guest Post about momAgenda
My second momAgenda - and a review of how the first one held up

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Go Visit (but then come back...)

Yes, I know it's been quiet over here lately.  So, to give you some great reading while I'm on a mini-hiatus, I wanted to tell you about a site that's definitely NOT on hiatus!

Some of my bloggy friends have started a new website for moms (and dads, too!) - Triad Moms on Main.  Even if you aren't in their geographic area, there are still lots of posts for you - parenting is universal!  So, hop on over and check it out!  (But please, promise you'll check back in here from time to time...)


(And PS - There's a sister site, Triangle Moms on Main, coming soon!)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Christmas Ideas!

OK, I know it's not even Halloween, so I hate to post anything holiday-related, but I want to start sharing some great ideas with you. I know I've got some readers who are moms, some who like to cook, maybe some who are technology/gadget folks, and perhaps some who are interested in fitness. My ideas (at least so far) fall into these categories. Check them out! (I've included links where possible.)

Aveda Hand Relief Cream - such a yummy fragrance (and I don't usually like smelly creams), plus it's nice and thick, which does great things for my dry-and-cracked-before-the-end-of-October hands.

My Lunch Box recipe box - You just might have to love packing lunches for this one - or maybe it'll inspire you and you will come to love packing lunches!

PropUp - I saw this over on Ree's blog, and I think it's a pretty cool, useful gadget. I'm not a big fan of the iPad yet (I think I just heard several of you gasp - sorry!), in part because I have to hold it up with one hand to use it, so it's not as convenient as I would like. I use it primarily in landscape orientation, so I think this would improve my iPad experience.


Feetures (Original No Show with Tab) or Balega (Lady Enduro Medium) technical socks.
Technical (Mesh) Running Cap
Headband or skull cap with ponytail pass-through - trying to find a way to keep my ears warm! 
Long sleeve technical t-shirt - there are so many pretty colors out there!  I've got a fitted base layer, but I'd also like to try out a semi-fitted tee for running in cool-but-not-cold weather. 

I would LOVE to get the registration fee for a New Year's Eve 5K (hint, hint, honey!)

Monkey Hooper hula hoop - If you follow my twitter updates, you know that I tried out a hoopdio class (hula hoop + cardio) last week. Even though I am not great at it (as in, I could sort of hula hoop and was not able to add in the cardio at all), I still think hula hooping on it's own is fun! And it's also great exercise!  I'm particularly fond of the Candy Stripe hoop.

How could I forget that I need a category for camping gear? I know we needs some pots and pans and a means for cooking, but I haven't shopped around to figure out exactly what I want yet. Rest assured, there will be some links here!  (OK, so no links yet...)  And then I'll probably ask to go camping again for my birthday ;)  Also, we need a hatchet, some looong-handled cooking utenstils, and perhaps a good camp knife, too.

I think a 2-gallon jug would work nicely for our cooking (and water bottle refill) needs - size-wize and weight-when-full-wise - so here's what I'm looking at this jug from Coleman.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Works for Me - When I Travel

Whether it's travel to a hotel, to see grandparents, or just to spend time in the great outdoors, this is how I've recently started to pack our toiletry items.

As I'm packing, the kids' stuff gets gathered into one basket, the adults add their stuff to the other, and then I plop them both into a duffle bag.  The extra space in the duffle gets used for bigger items like a pack of wipes, my flat iron, and that bottle of pump hand soap.  (Yes, I travel with a bottle of pump hand soap - so much easier to get little hands clean than with hotel bar soap!)  The baskets help keep our items corralled at our destination, and it's so easy to gather it back up for the trip home.

You might wonder if this adds an extra bag to our luggage.  Nope.  The kids are still small enough that their clothes can be packed into one duffle bag or small (kid-sized) suitcase for short trips!

I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday over at We Are THAT Family.  Hop on over for some other helpful tips!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Owe You...

I'm waaay behind on blogging.  Not just the fun stuff.  Not even the running updates.  I'm talking about the blogging that I do to keep my friends and family up-to-date.  The blogging that I do to keep track of milestones since scrapbooking isn't a part of my life right now. 

So, here's a quick rundown of some fun stuff - a few photos, a few notes, and hopefully enough to jog my memory when scrapbooking is a part of my regular routine again.

August 5th - We still had a very large cardboard box hanging around (from back when our washer and dryer were delivered - they don't pick up cardboard for recycling around here, and I hadn't hauled it off yet), so I let the kids make a fort out of it, complete with artwork.

Miss M got this umbrella for Christmas, and waited (and waited...) for a rainy day to play outside with it.  Typically, our rainy days were school days, and you can't take umbrellas to school.  So, on a rainy day in August, out she went to walk around in the rain! Sadly, it stopped about the time she got out there.

Sept 28th - You might remember that Mister J lost his first tooth back in August.  Well, the second one came out about a month later!

Also towards the end of September, we met some friends in Virginia for a weekend visit (one of whom was running an ultra-marathon in the George Washington National Forest).  When we realized we were withing a 30-minute drive of Monticello, we decided to visit before we headed home.  Here's a snap of Big J and Mister J in the gardens, one of the many impressive features of Thomas Jefferson's estate.

Early October - Fall is fair time!  I love the displays and the food, the kids love the rides and the "candy cotton" (as Miss M called it).  While Daddy and the kids waited in line for the ferris wheel (Mom passes on that...), the kids were gifted with stuffed toys by someone else in line.  They were thrilled, since we don't play games to win toys.

Just last weekend, we went on our first family camping trip!  We went along with two other families, for a total of 5 adults and 7 kids!  The kids played hard, hiked 2/3 miles on Saturday, and got dirty!  For nearly 48 hours, didn't ask for tv, video games, or computer time.  The climbed trees, pretended to be secret agents, and discovered the Atlantic Ocean!  We didn't have a cell phone signal all weekend, so no texting, facebooking, or tweeting - and I have to admit that it was glorious!  Yes, it was cold.  Yes, we went longer than usual without showers.  Yes, everything that came home smelled like campfire.  But it was a great experience, and I can't wait for our next trip!
Saturday morning before breakfast - we just needed to get warm!
Hanging out on the big rock - about 2/3 of the way through our hike.
Monkey!  The trees around the campsite were great for climbing on and crawling under.
So, there's a very quick wrap-up of the past several weeks.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Good Stuff Guide

Hi Friends!

If you aren't already reading The Good Stuff Guide, well, you need to add it to your reader.  Heidi's blog is fantastic! She has a regularly-scheduled peek into some gorgeous homes on Home Tour Fridays, has a series of posts on Great Books for Kids, and offers great gift ideas, tips for parents, suggestions for mini-vacations, and more.  And I can't forget the generous giveaways!

Right now, she's asking for help as she works on a post about mini-vans.  She's asking moms (or dads!) to complete a short survey; I just emailed my answers.  It's quick and easy - see?  Here are her questions and my answers:

1) Your Minivan Make and Model Year (just so we know what style): 2004 Honda Odyssey

2) My favorite feature is: The space!  The power doors!  The DVD player for long trips!  (I could go on...)

3) I really wish...: We had gotten leather seats, and that the rear door had a power option (that came in 2005, I think)

4) Would you repurchase the same model?  Hmmm...  While I love it, and I'll drive it until the day it can't go any more, I don't think so.  We aren't planning to expand our family, so I *think* we might go SUV next.

5) Which make/model is your dream?  Honestly, the one I have.  There are lots of bells and whistles on the newer Odysseys (have you seen the newest one?  W.O.W.), but according to Consumer Reports and to our friends with newer model years, the 2004 is really the most solid one out there.  We weren't really impressed with the others back when we were looking for ours, so they aren't on my radar.  And, since my plan is to drive mine for about 10 years (which is shocking to most folks), I still have a few years before I start thinking about it. 

 See, that was easy!  Now, just email with your answers.  Also, she'd love to have a snapshot of your cool wheels, if you happen to have one, and she's particularly interested in folks driving any of these...

Kia minivans
The VW
Toyota Sienna

The Good Stuff Guide is also Facebook and twitter if you prefer to follow that way, instead. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Worst Run Ever, and a Pat on the Back

Part I - Worst Run Ever
I started with three strikes against myself tonight.  I forgot to grab a pre-run snack this afternoon, I forgot to take my water, and I missed warm-up.  I still managed a better time than I expected, but I wasn't at my best.

The interval changed to 3 minutes run, 2 minutes walk tonight - perhaps the reason for my better-than-expected time.  But my lack of warm-up meant that I had to slack off on two (or was it three?) intervals.  It's the first time I've ever NOT stuck with the intervals.  And it wasn't about not having the endurance for the three minute run.  It wasn't about wanting to quit - because I never want to quit anymore!  (I know!  I'm shocked, too.)  It was about my aching hip/leg, and about not wanting to really hurt myself, which would lead to not being able to run.  Although it was frustrating to slack off on those intervals, I'm not beating myself up about it.  I'm listening to my body, just as I should.  I'm in better shape now than I was just a month ago, it feels great, and I don't want to jeopardize the results of all of this hard work.

Part II - Pat on the Back
Did I mention that I run/walked a 5K last Thursday?  I sure did!

I stuck with the intervals for a mile longer than I'd ever gone before, and I made a WAY better time than I expected for adding a whole mile!  I felt like Superwoman when I finished.  A very tired, sweaty version of Superwoman, but pretty much awesome anyway.  So now I know that I CAN DO IT!  From here on out, it's just about increasing my endurance for the run interval.  I'd love to run an entire 5K someday! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mini Subs!

Clockwise from top left:
Apple sticks, can't remember what's in the dip container, 'mini-sub' on a hotdog bun, chocolate chip bunny grahams, grapes.  My kids asked for mayo and mustard on their subs.  I was especially floored that Miss M asked for mayo.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Cloth Napkins!

Only one lunch today since Miss M is sick, but I snapped a photo to show you the new cloth napkins we are trying out.Can you even see it tucked in there?

Under the big red lid - strawberries and grapes
Under the small red lid - dip for those carrots
Ham and Muenster sandwich - half-sized
A few Doritos
Granola bar and applesauce for snack time
And one green cloth napkin, made by Grandma RL :)

This post is included in What's for Lunch Wednesday - Week 18.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Today's Stats

Mostly for my own records, but read on if you are interested in what this 5K training program is all about.  

I was ache-y and stiff this morning - perhaps from having run last night, but it could have been from falling asleep in a chair watching tv last night, too.

On my own run - training plan indicates 1 mile run/walk with a 1:30/2:00 interval.

Starting with a run interval, 1 mile in 14:45, continued to 1.25 miles in 17:30. Not fast, but an improvement on my starting pace.

Post-run stretches using park's playground equipment to 'assist' with my solo version of partner stretches.  And - I'm really proud of this! - core work:

120 assorted crunches(30 each of 4 types)
20 (girly, half-) push ups - a personal record


Image from here

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Overheard #35, I think

Last night at bath time, Miss M was singing the "Days of the Year" song.  In case you haven't heard it before, it goes a little like this:

January, February, March, and April,
May, June, Ju-Y-M-C-A!

I'm sure her teacher, Ms. G, is very proud!

it'll be fun!

We are trying out our new Thermos FUNtainers today! Batman for him, and a yet-to-be-decorated 'plain' one (with a pink lid) for her.  Give us a few days, and I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First Cub Scout Meeting

He's growing up!

I can't tell you what a 'mommy moment' it was for me to see Mister J all dressed up in his Cub Scout uniform for his first meeting!  Totally makes the pricked fingers (from sewing on badges - a Girl Scout, I'm not!) worth it.  I didn't get misty-eyed, but it did take my breath away just a little bit.  I was a little annoyed that I forgot to bring my 'good' camera - but I guess this cell phone snap turned out okay.  Oh well, I'll try to get a better photo next week!

Mister J was so excited to come home after the meeting and show me what he learned - he was talking from the moment he walked through the door!  And then he showed me how to tie a square knot!  He was so proud - and so am I.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Overheard #??

Scene: Miss M was flirting with some boys when we were out to dinner.
Me: "Well, she is cute!"
Big J: "She's not cute, she's my daughter!"

Scene: Miss M is helping me sort laundry, and hands me a bra.
Miss M: "I found a booby trap!"
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Post Run Fun

I took the kids with me on my run this morning.  On our way to a local park - and during our warm-up - I talked with Mister J about running etiquette and explained the walk/run pattern that we would use.  Miss M was none to thrilled about riding in the jogging stroller until I let her know she'd be able to snack a bit during her ride.

We completed two laps (totaling one mile) in just a bit more time than it usually takes me.  I was pushing about 50+ pounds of kid and stroller (and the wheels weren't inflated quite enough), so I'm calling this quite an accomplishment!

After our run, we did stretching and core work (yes, I made Mister J do all of it, too!) while Miss M counted us down.  She seemed to have great fun being the 'coach'!  And after that was over, I let the kids have some fun on the playground.

Oh yes, one mile later and they were still going strong!  I think they're going to want to keep this up, and I can't complain - I enjoyed the company!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

1.25 miles

OK, just a quick update. Last night was the first coached workout with the 5K training program - yay!

I was a bit apprehensive leaving the pre-training meeting last week, but had a great on-my-own run on Saturday. On Sunday I retraced my route in the mommy-van and realized that I had covered about a mile. Monday's workout was 1.25 miles, which I knew I could do! The hardest part of the run? The core workout afterwards. It was worse than the hills. BUT - I managed a dozen (girly, half-) pushups, and I am darn proud of that. Also more crunches than I have done since ... Well, I don't want to think about how long it's been. I have always disliked ab work.

When I got home, Big J asked me how it went. I said, "Ask me tomorrow." And the good news is that nothing hurts now that wasn't hurting before the run! Bonus - my feet aren't hurting at all! (This is super news since my podiatrist - yes, I have {those} feet - didn't seem all that excited that I wanted to join this program.)

We run one mile at the next workout, and then 1.5 next week. I am so excited for the 1.5 mile workout that I can't stand it! If you know me, this sounds totally out-of-character. And I know it will get harder. I am SO thankful for all of the support I have gotten - I know if will be even more important when things get tough!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Excited and Scared

I haven't caught up on lunch posts like I promised, or posted about our Labor Day weekend, or shared all of the funny things our kids have said or my thoughts on how much they have grown. I haven't told you anything about our Very BusyWeekend, Vol. 2.

We have been pretty swamped with a Very Busy Week. The kids' after-school activities started this week, I am preparing for our church's clothing exchange next week, and tonight was the first meeting for my 5K training. And that is what I'm excited about, and what scares me just a little bit. Scared in a good way, I hope.

I just finished putting the training plan into my calendar. The mileage seems to tick up so quickly each week. Whoa.... Many of the coaches have been through this program in the last year. It's comforting to me to know that they aren't all super-athletes. Miss M's teacher is also in the program. I didn't see any other familiar faces, but there were about 100 people there tonight and 100 more at a meeting last night. Yep, 200 people!

I am SO EXCITED. I was grinning like a crazy person on the drive over this evening. Now, I'm more worried about not being able to do it. Instead of worrying, though, I am going to keep reminding myself that it's all about taking baby steps. I want to be able to run a 5K tomorrow, but I have 12 weeks to get there.

Twelve weeks.

Twelve weeks.

And I start tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sink or Swim

Earlier this evening, I packed lunch for the 6th day of school.  Yes, sixth.  And as I was wondering what I'd pack, it already felt like I was losing my lunch inspiration.  On the 6th day.  Not good.  So I looked into my fridge, thought about what I'd had for lunch earlier in the day, and decided I'd go out on a limb.  I'm going to put in a few new-to-the-lunchbox things and see what happens. 

I haven't finished packing the lunches - I do sandwiches in the mornings - so look for photos later on tomorrow.  However, here's what my kids will be getting:

Turkey, apple and cheddar on sourdough
Banana yogurt (Stonyfield Farm Banilla - yum!)
Diced strawberries and kiwi topped with a kiwi star
Veggies with dip - cucumber spears, baby carrots, green beans.  Miss M also gets two grape tomatoes.  Italian dressing for Mister J, Thousand Island for Miss M.

Now, I know my kids like the yogurt, turkey, strawberries, carrots, and cukes, and Mister J likes cheddar cheese.  But the kiwi is one of those 'depends on the mood' foods - if they feel like eating it, they will; if not, they won't.  Luckily, it was a very tasty kiwi - I tasted it to be sure.  And mixed with the strawberries, it may have a better chance.  The green beans were left over from dinner.  I dried them off a bit, then cut them to fit nicely into the lunchbox.  We'll see how well they go over.  Miss M likes raw green beans, and will sneak them from the counter when I'm trying to prep them for dinner.  However, she has never eaten them packed into her lunch.  (I know, right?)  We'll see if these make the cut.  Mister J ate them at dinner, but again, I'm not sure how cold and leftover will fare.  They are still very pretty and green, so I'm hopeful.  Hmm...  anything else I'm wondering about?  Oh, yeah - that sandwich.  It's a great combo, but I'm just not sure what the kids will think.  Mister J loves to add chips to his sandwiches, so I'm hoping he'll go for the crunch of the apple.  Miss M usually deconstructs her sandwich, so I'm guessing there will be leftover cheese and crusts. 

I'll let you know how it works out!

Hold on! Don't buy that just yet!

 Kristen over at We are THAT Family is hosting a themed Works for Me Wednesday today, and it's all about back-to-school.  I'm sharing one simple tip today:

DO NOT purchase school supplies until after you have attended Open House.

I know the back-to-school sale prices are tempting - but wait!  Because... the list always changes.  Around here, school supply lists are posted online.  Teachers are not permitted to add anything to the school supply list, but they can choose to delete something from the list for their class - or be very specific about what type of folder/pencil/crayons they would prefer.

Last year, our teacher asked for a particular brand of crayons - no biggie, since that's what we typically use.  She also deleted a couple of items - didn't care for primary pencils, and would be providing matching pencil boxes to each student.  This year, our teachers don't need any hand sanitizer - they already have plenty - and took pencils boxes off of the list again.  I can also imagine, in years to come, that "four three-pronged folders" will need to be specific, solid-colored folders - and I know I wouldn't choose the right ones if I was just guessing at a back-to-school sale.

If you end up with extras, you can always return them - but even better, donate them!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Update on the Tickle Tooth!

I was met with a very excited grin after school yesterday - Mister J's tooth finally came out!  He was excited to find a 1971 Silver Dollar under his pillow this morning.  We think the tooth fairy probably leaves a little something special for the very first tooth, so I think he's decided to add that coin to his collection.  Perhaps she will leave spendable, paper money for the next one, which is already loose!

Monday, August 30, 2010

All He Wants for Christmas?

For about a year and a half now, Mister J has been asking for something a bit unusual.  And honestly, he would be pretty excited if Santa brought one.  So, what does a seven-years-old-by-the-time-Santa-arrives little boy want?

One of these....
Do you recognize this?  It's a compost bin.  Yes, my little boy thinks having one of these would be awesome!  And, I have to admit, I think so, too.  I've noticed that we produce one to three cups of compostable food scraps at each meal time.  If I'm prepping fruits or vegetables in advance - like celery or carrot sticks, sliced cucumber, apple wedges, cubed melon, etc. - I have even more scraps that end up going down the disposal.  I'd sure rather be composting it all.  And after two summers of gardening, including prepping the beds, Mister J knows how much compost it takes! 

It used to be a bit of a challenge to walk through Costco in the spring.  Last summer they had a compost tumbler on display, and we had to go 'try it out' every time we were there.  I can't tell you the begging that went on - for a compost tumbler!  I thought we were off the hook a bit this year - they didn't have them in Costco, but we came across the one above at our local Whole Foods.  And then, just last week, he spotted this one ... at Costco. 

from here
It sits on a wheeled base, and the top of the sphere opens to add more compostable scraps and yard trash.  It's 'spinnable' in the store, so you know we had to give it a whirl!

I'll be interested to see what Santa has in mind, since Mister J has already told me that "Santa can't bring one, because he only knows how to make toys!"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My boys

On a Friday night...

You're right - it's not a local campground.  It's a local ball field.  It's also a great place for Mister J's first camping experience.  Level ground, no rocks/twigs, and plenty of food and entertainment.  He stayed up late and got up early.  He was tired when he got home - but he's managed to keep going all day long without a nap! 

Mister J and Big J had a fun "just the boys" outing last night, and I have to admit that while I was happy for them to have that time together, I was sad that I wasn't there.  You see, this was Mister J's first time camping.  And I'm a mostly-stay-at-home mom, so I'm used to being there for all of the firsts.  Instead, Big J got to enjoy this milestone.  And I'm glad.  He works hard so that I can be at home, and he doesn't always get to do the 'firsts.'  I think it's important for them to have some time together and to do some special things.

To be honest, Miss M was a little bummed, too.  She wants to do everything her big brother does!  And have I mentioned that the tent is new?  So she and I were both a little, teeny bit envious that the boys got to use it first.  We hadn't been able to work out a time to give it a test run in the backyard before the boys used it!  That's ok, though.  It was damp when they brought it home, so the kids and I set it up this morning to let it dry.  And, of course, we all crawled through it a couple of times for fun.

So what did Miss M and I do to occupy our time?  Dinner out (Chick-Fil-A, of course), followed by a trip to Target to pick out some new nail polish, and mini-cures when we got home!  She also wanted to buy her brother a book since he didn't get to come shopping with us - so sweet!  I have to add that she really missed him like crazy last night.  While she wasn't very talkative (tired from the first week of school!), when she did talk to me, it was often about Mister J.

So how did this missing-her-boy's-first-camping-experience Mama do?  Well, I did get a few phonophotos and text messages to let me know how things were going, so I did fine.  And all of those came after Miss M was in bed, when I was really missing my guys (perfect timing, Big J!).  But next time, I want to go, too!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Slow Down

Conversation with my son this morning:

"Mom, what was that word you said after you wrecked into that other car?"

Well, I couldn't remember, except that it was likely, "Crap!" or something relatively mild - after all, my kids were right there with me. 

The good news is that we are all ok.  Oh, and the kids got to watch Toy Story 2 while they waited for Daddy to come pick them up and take them on to school. 

I was very fortunate this morning.  First, that we were all okay - though I was mortified that this accident happened while my kids were with me.  Second, that it was just a fender-bender. And truly, just an accident.  I was not a distracted driver.  I was not talking on the phone or doing other non-driving activities when the car in front of me stopped unexpectedly.  It was on an odd little stretch of road where my lane of traffic did not have a stop sign, but needed to stop - quickly.  And I just wasn't quick enough.  Third,that there was only cosmetic damage to the vehicles.  Fourth, that no citation was issued.

After all of the necessary phone calls were made, information was shared, and reports were written up, the police officer who came to the scene said something to me that has stayed with me all day.

"Slow down." 

And while she surely meant it in the "you were probably going just a wee bit fast on the curvy exit ramp" sense, it translated a bit differently in my heart.

I'll explain....

We are at the beginning of a new school year, facing a very busy fall.  Now, that is of our own choosing.  We have scheduled one after-school activity for each of our children and I will be training for a 5K.  I'm going to do my best to participate in a book study with friends.  Doesn't sound like much, does it?  But the kids' activities just happen to be on the same night - one before dinner and one after.  That night will turn into a "fast food or leftovers, adults are lucky to see each other in passing" kind of day.  The trade off is that I'm committed to have lunch with my husband that day.  We will have together time during the day, and the kids will get some one-on-one time with one of us adults.  So far, not bad.  But then there's this - the coached 5K training sessions are two nights per week.  And book study?  Yep, it's the same night as - and on the heels of - one of those training sessions.  I've already been told that I can "come stinky" by my sweet friend Muffy who is hosting the study.  My hubby will be taking over solo that night - and I am already so thankful!  (I'm an "Acts of Service" - can you tell?)   

We are feeling the Gravity of Motion.  None of these activities has even begun, and we are already feeling stressed.  This will be the biggest balancing act we have ever managed.  I also have some big commitments that wrap up this fall (one of which wraps up next month and one that goes to the end of the year).  I cut back on activities when I was preparing to take on these commitments - and turned a couple of other requests down - but I'm still feeling the effects of 'busy-ness.'  So, what to do?  Well, I'm not sure.  Which is why, along with my book study book (Satisfy My Thirsty Soul by Linda Dillow), I've ordered a copy of this:

to help me find some answers.

I'll also be cutting back on some things (Facebook, Twitter, blogging) in favor of family and my own fitness.  It's all about priorities - isn't it always?  And it's just time to re-evaluate.  I hope you'll stick with me even when the blogging slows down.  I've had quite a run of posting these past couple of weeks ((waves to two new followers)), which is a bit unusual, but I've just had a lot to say!  I hope to continue mobile blogging if time allows.  I also hope to post about my 5K progress, the kids' milestones and firsts (will that tooth ever fall out?), and some of the funny stuff they do and say.  Probably less about lunches.  And I'll let you know what I learn from Ann.

Incidentally, I found out about Ann Kroeker's book through Jane Anne's blog, and I now also read Ann's blog (and sometimes participate in her blog carnival, Food on Fridays).  Small, supportive, bloggy world.

Bagels, Berries, and (Reusable Water) Bottles

Bagel with cream cheese, yogurt with strawberry puree, cherries, carrots with dip. These are Miss M's smaller portions. Also, I added fun napkins again.

(Alternative, and equally semi-alliterative, title: Cream Cheese, Cherries, and Carrots?)

This post is linked to What's for Lunch Wednesday (Week 14) over at What's for Lunch at Our House.  

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry