Tuesday, August 31, 2010

GIVEAWAYS Galore!!!

This is just a reminder that there are two FABULOUS giveaways going on right now. In case you missed this post, I am giving away a Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit to one lucky reader, courtesy of CSNstores.com.


My giveaway ends THIS FRIDAY so be sure to enter before then :-)

And while you are at it, be sure to check out my SIL Diana's blog because she is giving away a $40 gift certificate to CSNStores.com!! They literally have over 200 stores and millions of items to chose from!! But hurry, her giveaway ends soon too.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Addie & Nia's First Sleepover!

This weekend, Eric and I finally had the chance to go out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary...


We were in desperate need of a date night and Mima Patti and Papa Steve offered to watch Blake and have Addie spend the night with Nia. My MIL has been wanting the girls to have a sleepover together for a long time and when we asked Addie if she wanted to stay at Mima's, she said "With Nia TOO!!!!" So we packed up her little overnight bag and sleeping bag and headed out..


Can you tell she was excited?


Personally, I think Mima was more excited than the girls :-)


The girls were SO EXCITED to get into their sleeping bags...they couldn't wait for bedtime :-)


But when bedtime came...they were over the sleeping bags. They wanted to sleep in Mima's spare bedroom instead...


And of course by sleep I mean jump on the bed :-)


A little music before bedtime never hurt anyone, so Mima let the girls play with her old guitar...


Before bed, the girls decided to cuddle up with Papa Steve...


And eat their bedtime snack. They were watching Scooby Doo and I LOVE their little laughing faces in this picture...


I wish I could say that both girls crawled into their sleeping bags and went to sleep at 8:00 p.m...but that didn't happen. I hear there was LOTS of giggling, talking, jumping and book reading before both girls finally passed out together with Mima in bed. Ha! Oh well...it was worth a shot! And honestly, I don't think Mima minded a bit :-)

Thanks for taking the girls Mima and Papa! I am sure they will be back soon!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blake is 8 Months Old!!!

How is it even possible that another month has already come and gone? In just the last 4 weeks, Blake has cut another tooth (his 5th), gained another pound (he is 20 lbs now!), and learned to CRAWL!!!!

He still isn't a master of crawling yet, but he does go from sitting position...


To crawling position...


Takes 4 or 5 strides and then belly flops...


But don't worry...big sister Addie is showing him the ropes...


And I think he is catching on...


I guess it is good that this litter porkster is finally getting some exercise to burn off all the food and Baby Mum-Mums he's been eating!!


Blake loves being able to sit at the table and eat a snack like a big boy. Who ever invented the Mum-Mum was a genius...


It's hard to believe that a third of my baby's first year is already over! But as much as I want time to slow down, I also love watching him grow and change and develop into the SWEETEST little boy in the world. I just love him to pieces and can't wait to see what the next month holds for us :-) I know Addie has LOTS she wants to teach him. Lord help us :-)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eco-Friendly Friday: DIY Gardening and Preserving for Healthier Eating

As I confessed a while back...I am no expert in the DIY department. But luckily, I have a really wonderful teacher who is helping me learn SO MUCH about what it means to "Do It Yourself". My sister-in-law Diana is Martha Stewart "without the cute" as she likes to put it. This woman is nothing short of amazing and if you follow her blog...you know what I mean. She grows her own garden, cans her own food, and cooks every meal by scratch. And if that's not enough, her and my brother are harvesting their own honey, making their own cider and wine, AND they will soon have their own family of chickens!!! Like I said...amazing. So naturally, I asked Diana if she could be a guest blogger for me this week and she happily accepted :-) Here is her post on DIY Gardening and Preserving for Healthier Eating...

DIY...Feed Yer Face

When my SIL asked me to do a Guest Blog, my first thought was…Uh-Oh! I’m not qualified! Jen is a Mom…strike that…a very hard working Mom. Is there any other type of Mom? I think not!

But truthfully, I don't know personally...I don't have children. So my quandary being, what could I possibly contribute to Jen's followers and friends? Quite frankly, it scared the crap out of me! But then she said aim for something along the line of "DIY gardening, canning, coking, etc.." Well, heck! Now that I can do! I can Feed Yer Face!

You don't have to like to cook, garden, 'can' or otherwise! But you can start off with a few "baby steps" that will put healthier, more eco-friendly meals on your plate.

Make no mistake, expert...I am not! More aware, sure! It's a work in progress though! You have most likely heard that shopping the outer aisles of your grocery store is a wiser choice. This is where you will find your produce and closwer to 'homemade' items. Start wandering IN and you go downhill...no doubt! But TIME...how can a Mom find the TIME? Well I don't have an answer for that one, but if you are going to wanter IN the grocery store, compare! Look at the ingredients. Can you pronounce them? If you can't...put it back on the shelf. When making a choice between 'like' products, choose the one with the least amount of ingredients.

When possible, buy organic! Yes, you will pay a little more money, but your body and overall well-being will pay less. Our foods are laden with chemicals, pesticides, hormones, irradiated and who knows what else?! Children in particular are highly susceptible to synthetics and otherwise modified food sources. Autism, ADD, ADHD, obesity, fertility, allergies, and asthma...worms, worms, worms all in a can waiting to be opened!

You do have a choice however! That's the good news!

if you have been contemplating a more sustainable lifestyle...there again, 'baby steps'. Each year, we plant a garden. Each year that garden gets bigger! Maybe you live in an urban area; space can be a big deterrent! All things considered, explore a few options:

* Container plansts or a Topsy Turvy set up
* Co-Ops
*CSA's
* Local Farmer's Markets
* U-pick sites

As you can see, you may need to do a little homework at first, but there are alternatives! NOw that you have a little 'food for thought,' whatcha gonna do with all that food?

Well you could dive in and brave the Home Canning experience! It's not nearly as hard as one might think and the satisfaction is wonderful! Most Home Canning kits can be purchased online or found at large box stores such as Wal-Mart, Rural King, Big R and Farm & Fleet.


I also highly recommend the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. It contains a plethora of useful information from blanching, hot water baths, pressure canning, freezing, recipes and more!


If Home Canning seems a bit steep, how about starting with your freezer? Blanching and putting up fruits, veggies and make-ahead meals from scratch is super simple, and Quick! The cost is minimal! All you need are some great containers that go from fridge to freezer to dishwasher in a 'snao' and are as versatile as these Snapware Leak-Proof Glasslock Food Containers found at Reuseit.com...


DOn't be scared! The fearless folks learn best! The internet and BLOGS are loaded with information from others willing to help and ready to share! GO FOR IT! Good Luck and Go Feed Yer Face!!

Thanks for the fantastic post Di!!!! Be sure to follow my SIL's blog for a ton of other helpful DIY tips, tricks, recipes and projects :-) Happy Friday Everyone!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Need a Reason To Start Working Out?

What if someone offered to give you all the equipment you need to get started on a workout routine at home...for FREE?!! Well, that is exactly what I (and the wonderful people at CSN Stores) are offering you!!

A few weeks ago, I received the Gaiam Total Body Balance Ball Kit to help me get started on my strength training workout at home. The kit includes a stability/balance ball, a resistance band, and a workout DVD. I figured it was worth giving a try, especially if I could walk away with a body like this...


Even though my tummy is FAR from this shape, I do feel a difference after only using the ball and band for two weeks! My tummy is getting a great workout, and I have already had a few people notice that my arms are getting more toned. Again...after only two weeks!!! I really enjoy working out with a stability ball because it gives me a lot more variety in my workout. Also, the resistance band is nice to have for really adding some weight to the moves. The only thing that I am not crazy about in this kit is the DVD. It's not a bad workout by any means, but I am already bored with it after two weeks. But the great news is that there are TONS of websites with other stability ball and resistance band workouts. In fact, I found a great stability ball workout designed specifically for runners. You can check it out here.

So...have I sold you on this kit yet? If so, now is your chance to get one FOR FREE!!!! It is super easy to enter this giveaway. Here's what you have to do...

* MANDATORY ENTRY: To be entered into this giveaway, you must leave a comment explaining why you hope to win this Balance Ball Kit. Have you been wanting to start a workout routine but can't find the motivation? Are you trying to get in shape for a wedding or other big event? Are you trying to get back in shape after a baby? Are you just looking to get healthy overall? I would love to know your fitness goals :-)

* You can earn an additional entry by going to one of the over 200 CSN stores and tell me one item you would love to have the opportunity to review on your own blog! Remember, CSN offers everything from fitness gear to cookware, so the possibilities are endless!!

* PLEASE LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT FOR EACH ENTRY *

That's all you have to do! Easy peasy! You have until next Thursday, September 4th to enter! Be sure to spread the word to all your friends and family who might be interested in winning this kit too. It would make a great gift :-) Good luck everyone!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To My Hubby on Our Anniversary

Four years ago today, we made a very important promise to each other...


It was a simple promise...or so it seemed at the time. We promised to fulfill each other's dreams and then we sealed that promise with a kiss...


All I ever dreamed of was becoming a wife and a mother. But with those dreams came other dreams...like the dream of becoming a stay-at-home mom, the dream of having a beautiful home to call our own, the dream of having friends and family close by, and most of all, the dream of a marriage that would be strong enough to last forever...

And sweetie...in only 4 years...you have managed to fulfill every single one of my dreams and more. You have given me everything I have ever asked for and even though we still have forever to hold up our promise, I know that we can do it....together :-)


Happy Anniversary babe. I love you more than words can possibly say :-)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Nia Beanie!!!!

Today is my niece Nia's 3rd birthday!!!!


How is it even possible that this cutie is already so old? She just started preschool and has developed the sweetest, sassiest little personality! She is 3 going on 30 :-)

We celebrated her birthday last night at what Nia likes to call "Old McDonald's" :-)


When it comes to kids parties, you just can't go wrong with a huge tray of cheeseburgers and french fries :-)


Or in Addie's case, a party hat and a box of chicken nuggets :-)


The playland in this McDonald's was HUGE and I thought Addie would be all about it...


I mean, Nolan thought it was great...


And so did Brennan...


But my little peanut didn't want anything to do with it. She climbed up to the top one time and had a nervous breakdown. She wouldn't go down the slide or climb back down the way she came. She just stood at the top screaming. So I had to go in after her. Yes, I climbed through the playland and had a massive panic attack. The tunnels were so small and all I could see were kids and different tubes and it took me almost 15 minutes to find her. And then when I got to the top, she refused to come back down with me. So Eric had to climb up the slide and rescue us both. What I wouldn't give to have had pictures and video of that whole scene.

As you can imagine, she had no desire to go back up. So instead, she chose to be the gate keeper for everyone else...


At least a few of the kids had fun going down the slides...



After all the food, cake and presents, the kids were POOPED!


And so were the parents :-) But before we left, we had Birthday Girl Jill take a picture with Birthday Girl Nia :-) The age is almost right...you just need to throw a zero on the end for Jill. Ha!


Today was Day 2 of Nia's birthday celebration and we headed to the zoo!!! It was a great day but I was too tired to take any more pictures. Our birthday marathon these last few days has been SO much fun...but this mama is ready for a little break. Speaking of which, I am going to go spend a little quality time with my Nook. Have a great day everyone!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Night I Met Harry Potter, Followed by the Day My Mom Shot a Gun

It was a crazy fun birthday weekend that started with meeting a celebrity look-a-like, followed by the funniest picture of my mom...ever. Let's start from the top shall we?

On Saturday night, we headed to Chicago to celebrate my friend Jill's 30th birthday!!! Dana and I hadn't been out to a bar in a while, so we had to call each other at least 3 times that day to figure out what we were going to wear. But then again, we did that when we were younger too. Ha! I think we all did pretty well blending in with the bar crowd. Although, I still like to call this picture "Three Moms and a Playmate"...


At first, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to find the energy to go out on the town after a long day with the kiddies. But what I realized is that a night out was EXACTLY what I needed. Dana and I had so much fun pretending like we didn't miss the kids...and our sweat pants :-)


Getting to spend some quality time with my honey was also an added bonus of the evening :-)


So...about that celebrity sighting. When we arrived at the bar that night, I couldn't help but notice that the bar back looked just like Harry Potter. He had the hair, the glasses, the build...all that was missing was his Hogwarts uniform. I told Jill that we should get a picture with him (I was sort of joking) but like the good friend that she is, she leaned her cute little body over the bar and yelled "HEY HARRY POTTER! CAN YOU COME TAKE A PICTURE WITH US?" Once the guy caught a glimpse of Jill, he was on the other side of the bar faster than you could say "Expelliarmus".

The guy was such a good sport and said that he gets this a lot. So...here is our Harry Potter look-a-like picture. Pretty close to the real deal wouldn't you say?


In fact, Joe was so impressed that 1) Jill had the balls to lean over the bar and call him "Harry Potter" and 2) That they guy was such a good sport about it....he shot them both the guns. And so did I. It's our thing :-)


We all had a really great night in the city and I think Jill had a FABULOUS 30th birthday :-) Now I am officially the last 29 year old in the group :-)

Speaking of Birthdays, this great weekend didn't end with our trip to the city. On Sunday, we celebrated my Mamacita's birthday at my brother Adam and SIL Diana's house. It was such a beautiful day!!! Blakey was so excited to wish his Nana a happy birthday...


And my Aunt Kathy was sooooo excited to take a picture (insert sarcasm)...


And of course, Addie was SO excited to see her Uncle Ryan and Aunt Meg...


After spending some time eating, playing and taking a cruise on the golf cart with Uncle Adam, we were ready for some presents. My mom made out like a bandit...


And so did my Grams. After all, it was her birthday too!!


In fact, all three of these sweeties celebrate their birthdays this week!! The handsome man in the middle is Richard, my Gram's boyfriend :-)


Now, what party at my SIL's house would be complete without a GORGEOUSLY DELICIOUS apple pie? I mean, what else would you expect from the Apple Pie Gal :-)


And we didn't just have apple pie. We also had cherry pie, a banana cake AND a fresh batch of cookies. I tried them all...twice :-)


And so did my daughter, who was afraid someone would take her piece of banana cake and so she shoved the whole thing in her mouth. Nice...


After dinner, dessert and playtime, the kiddies were getting a little restless so I headed home while the rest of the crew stayed to do some shootin. Yep...that's how we roll. Dinner, cake, gifts and guns. I missed all the action, but if you head on over to my SIL Di's blog, you can read the whole shootin story. All I know is that my mom, who has never fired a gun before, decided to take a turn last night. She wasn't prepared for the kick back and this was her reaction...


Notice the face, the flailing arm and the leg up. This is how my mom reacts to almost everything unexpected. I just didn't realize how funny it looked until it was captured on camera. Totally. Freaking. Hilarious.

Ah....so many laughs and good times packed into one weekend. And the fun of this week isn't even over! We are celebrating my niece Nia's birthday tonight and Addie seriously CAN'T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!!! She has already sang Nia Happy Birthday about 50 times this morning. SO cute :-) I will be sure to post those pics tomorrow :-)

Happy Monday everyone!