Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tots & Teens Thursday: Label Your House

In the previous 2 Tots & Teens posts, I discussed reading to your little one & how to get your teenager interested in reading.

What I am going to tell you to do in this week’s post, you will probably think I have completely lost my mind. What can I say? It’s the elementary teacher background in me.

Are you ready?

Here it is.

Label your house.

Not your actual house, but items in your house. When you walk into my kitchen, for example, here is what you’ll see:





There’s more, but you get the idea. Once your child shows interest in what words look like & how things are spelled, they are ready for this.

When Sweetie Pie was about 3, he started being really interested in how words looked. He wanted us to write names on his doodle pro. Then we had sheets of paper with every. single. Thomas. train. friends’ name on it. And believe me, he knows them ALL. We’ve now moved on to him wanting me to type out names—especially when I’m tweeting. So, if you notice weird tweets from me containing random names, you know what is happening at my house.

The labels are just another way to show your child that every word they hear can be written. It serves as another way to immerse them in words.

So, go. Make labels with your child & put them up all over your house. You’ll love the response you get from people when they come over.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hmmm, Something is Wrong with this Picture

This is what happens when you hand a silly 4 year-old clothes & tell him to get dressed. Jeans on head, shirt on legs, & socks on hands. (Sorry the quality of the picture is pitiful. All I had handy was my iPhone. This was too cute not to share.)

clown clothes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pregnancy Amnesia

Fancy meetin’ you here. I am guest posting today over at Peanut Butter in my Hair. Melissa just had a baby girl last week & thought she might need a little help with some blog posts while she adjusts to being a mom of three kiddos. I can’t imagine why. Can you?

My BFF, Heather, is pregnant with twin GIRLS (Just found out they are girls last week.) and then several of my online friends keep coming up pregnant. And then there are Melissa and a few others who have freshly baked newborns at home now. Maybe there’s something in the cyber water??? Just pass my cup along please. I won’t be partaking. Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited for my friends & over the moon excited for Heather, but this baby factory is closed. God willing.

But there are a few things I loved about being pregnant. A few. And that’s what I am writing about over at Melissa’s place today.  What I miss about being pregnant. Now bring your coffee along & join me over there, please.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shrinky Dink

Apparently I have been focusing too much on the wrong numbers…the scale. Which hasn’t been all that encouraging.

I was getting dangerously close to popping out of my size 16 pants when I first started this journey back in May. According to the scales I’ve lost a total of 17 pounds; however, I knew my clothes where getting looser. I didn’t realize just how loose until I broke down and went to buy some new jeans today since nothing fit anymore.

Look what size I bought!

Yes. Those are a size 12! This is the number I should be paying attention to apparently. So, even when the scales aren’t moving, the muscle building is totally paying off. And just to show you they really do fit…

What have I learned from this? While I will still be looking at the scale, I have learned to focus on the way my clothes are fitting.  I do want to lose weight, but one of  my new goals is to be in 10 by the end of the summer.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tots & Teens Thursday: Teens & Reading

Welcome to the beginnings of Tots & Teens Thursdays. If you missed last week’s post, I discussed reading to your tot. This week I am expanding some of those ideas to teenagers & I’m including some new ones.

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not have a teenager in my house. But I did teach middle school for 12 years. These ideas stem from both that experience as well as ingenious parents who shared ideas they used in their homes.

So, how do you encourage your teenager, who might be reluctant (or downright obstinate), to read? 

Let’s be honest. It’s safe to say most teenagers are not big readers. Most. They aren’t going to choose to spend their free time engrossed in a book. This is especially true at the middle school level. And especially true for boys. I will say this. The more ownership kids  have in what they read, the more likely they are to read it. (Read: Give them choices in what they read when at all possible.)

Here’s the good news. If your child loved to read in their elementary days, that love will more than likely return…eventually. 

But, in the interim, there are things you can actively do at home to help promote reading.

1) Model. Model. Model. Your kids need to see YOU reading. Book, newspaper, magazine, Kindle. Doesn’t matter. They just need to see that it is a priority for you. This will not make an immediate impact, but they’ll refer back to it later in life.

2) Go on a hunt for reading material. As a reading teacher, this was key to getting my reluctant readers to read. Find SOMETHING. ANYTHING. they are interested in reading. It might be a reallyyyyyyyy long hunt, but don’t give up. There is bound to a magazine, type of book,or particular author your child would like. I will get a page up soon of titles & authors that have proven to be good starting points on this hunt. Other good sources for reading suggestions? English teachers, librarians (both school & public), your kid’s friends, & your kid’s friends’ parents.

3) Have a reading community in your home. Yes, your teen is going to bock at this. You might even have to force this on them. But if your are reading this prior to your kids being teenagers, start this early. Then it’s just something you do as a family. Ideas straight from parents of middle school kids…

--Have a set family reading time. Everyone sits in the living room together each with their own reading material & reads. Same time. Everyday. For a set period of time. When you first start this, the it might be for just 15 minutes. Gradually work up to 30 or 45 minutes. Maybe bigger chunks of time on the weekends.

--Keep at home library & visit your local library. This doesn’t have to be extensive, but have some books for you & your kids in your house. Kindles & Nooks have made this easy, but I’m guessing if your teen isn’t a reader, he or she doesn’t have one of those. Utilize your public library as well. A plethora of choice awaits there. Remember the importance the role of choice has in your child’s desire to read. (And by the way, the choice doesn’t have to be extensive. Pick 3 or 4 books you have had recommended to you for your teen & let them choose from those.)

--Conduct a family book club. If you find a book that everyone in the family would enjoy reading—or halfway enjoy, as the case my be—read it as a family. Make a reading schedule together. Decide that you all are going to read the first 2 chapters by Thursday night & then instead of reading during your family reading time, you are going to have a book discussion. I know this sounds cheesy & you’re thinking ::Yeah, like my kid is going to discuss anything with me, let alone a book.:: Give it a try. You might just be pleasantly surprised. Think about how much more you enjoy what you are reading when you have someone to discuss it with. You will have to drive the discussion, of course, but the more you do this, the better everyone will get at it. And if a book is too daunting to start with, maybe find a newspaper or online article to use before moving to a book.


The most important thing you can do for a teenager who doesn’t enjoy reading, is to help him or her find their niche. Hunt until you find it. I am a firm believer that those who don’t enjoy (or at least tolerate reading) never found what they like to read. So, be on the look out for magazines about anything your child is interested in. Books by authors their friends are enjoying. Books where the main character plays the same sport your child plays. Check out graphic novels. Anything you can grasp onto to pull your child in. All in hopes of finding something he or she will never put down.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Down With Mail-Order Pharmacies!!!

I am pulling my hair out over here! Warning you now this post is a rant on my part. Feel free to exit the ride at this point. Because I am ticked.

We are forced to use a mail-order pharmacy on our maintenance drugs (i.e. inhalers, allergy meds, birth control), or we pay a HUGE premium for the convenience of using our local pharmacy—to the tune of around $1k per year.  The other day I had a the gazillion and 1st run in with them. I hate, no I LOATHE, the fact that we are forced to use them.  And here’s why.

1) It takes FOREVER to get to a real, live person when you have to call. Like literally ten minutes of automated crappola before the option of a “customer service” agent is even an option. (I use the term “customer service” quite loosely here.)

2) If you need to talk to the pharmacist, you are out of luck. You can’t. I have no idea why; I just know you can’t because my husband asked to speak to one during one phone call & was told that the pharmacist was not available.

3) We are FORCED to have to use the mail order because with our prescription plan we pay a premium to use our local pharmacy. So, we pay more for the same medicine & the same amount of the medicine if we get it filled locally rather than using the mail order pharmacy. Unfortunately, we don’t have the extra money to spend.

4) THEY LOST TWO PRESCRIPTIONS I MAILED TO THEM. How do I know the mail-order pharmacy lost them as opposed to them getting, say, lost in the mail? Two of the scripts I mailed them where in the same envelope. One was for my husband; the other for me. They have my husband’s but not mine. Yeah, they lost it. On a different day, I mailed a script for my son. They don’t have that one either. I can only assume they lost it as well. (And, yes, I know what assuming does, but, in this case, I feel justified in my assumption.)

5) The above mentioned script for my husband had the wrong date on it. See, he went to the doc in early January when the year had just changed. The doc—like all of us do out of habit—put 2010 instead of 2011. Now a local pharmacy would have caught that, called you &/or the doc, & gotten it taken care of in a day. Maybe 2. The mail-order pharmacy never contacted us about it. If we hadn’t of called to check on why it was taking so long to get to us, we would have never known.

6) I have to clean up their mess when they screw up. The three above mentioned scripts? I have to call the three different doctors now & ask them to fax in new ones. 

7) They automatically fill whatever script. No questions asked. Which might be a good thing at times. But this literally cost a $100 one time. Hubs doc changed the strength of his inhaler. Didn’t mention it to him. We just mailed the script in thinking that they would put it on hold in his file until we needed it. You know? Like the local pharmacy would do. Nope. Filled it. Without any regard to the fact they JUST FILLED THE SAME MEDICINE a week ago because THEY PRESSURE YOU TO AUTOFILL. Don’t you think someone would have noticed something was wonky? So, hubs ended up with 6 inhalers, 3 of which he couldn’t use.

Okay, I feel better. I love how venting always makes me feel better.

Please tell me we are not the only ones who had had these bad experiences with mail-order pharmacies. Who else is in our boat?

Monday, February 14, 2011

McFatty Monday—2/14

Wow, I’m behind. Normally I have this typed up & ready to go Sunday so all I have to go is add the weight loss/gain & hit publish Monday morning. That didn’t happen yesterday; we spent the majority of the day outdoors. Good riddance snow.

So, here’s the skinny. (ha!)

This week went MUCH better than the past couple. So. Much. Better. Even with a Valentine’s Day dinner with my husband that included cheese fondue, beer, parmesan chicken, wine, and dessert.

The scales are FINALLY going in the right direction.

Did you hear that?! Woohoo!

Recap of Big Picture Goals: 

1) Lose 40 pounds total 
2) Run a 10k in April
3) Bike 50 miles with hubs by the end of June
4) Make healthy eating my lifestyle.
5) Get my cholesterol & triglycerides to a normal range without medicine.

This weeks tabs:

1) Weight Loss/Gain: –1.4 pounds

      Total loss:  -7.8 pounds

      Remaining to lose:  32.7 pounds

This week’s goal: 2 pounds. I’m going for loosing 2 pounds this week.

2) Exercise: Made it to the gym 3 times this week. And…I got to go for a run OUTSIDE yesterday. Loved that. Outside running it so much better than treadmill running. I think I ran a total of about 10 miles this week. My longest run was 4.5 miles, but I walked .75 of that.

This week’s goal: Do another 4 mile run AND do a 3 mile run working on some interval running to increase my speed.

3) Diet: I really don’t remember what I ate this week. But the only bad eating I think I did was this weekend--the Valentine’s dinner Friday night, the cake at my cousin’s wedding reception Saturday, & Old Chicago pizza last night. I’m doing good at not eating past 8 every night. I’m really doing more low calorie now than anything else. It’s just easier.

This week’s goal: I want to start using my Lose It app again to track what I’m eating.

So, week 5? I’m very pleased. Yes, it’s only 1.4 pounds, but there is a minus sign in front of it this week. That makes me happy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Tender-Hearted Boy


Dear Sweetie Pie—

At just 4 years-old, it is becoming more & more obvious that you have a precious, sensitive, &  tender heart. It is one of the qualities I love most about you.  You want to make everyone feel special.

Those Handy Many tools? You think we all have a favorite one. In your eyes Turner is Boogaboo’s favorite, Philippe is Daddy’s favorite, Rusty is your favorite, & Squeeze is my favorite. If you find any of these tools out of our reach, you will bring them to us. I was napping the other day, & you brought me Squeeze. I woke up with him next to me. You will spend hours searching for a particular tool just so one of us can have it to hold. I think that you think they are our comfort objects , & you don’t want us to be without them. It is precious.

The other day you shared your pop tart with your brother. Without me asking you to. Today you shared your muffin all on your own because you knew it would make him happy. 

The empathy I see developing in you each day makes my heart proud. You, my sweet, sweet son, are making momma proud. I hope you always want everyone around you to feel special and loved.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tots & Teens Thursday: Read. Read. Read.

Welcome to the beginning of Tots & Teens Thursdays. If you missed last week’s post, here is how this whole idea come about.

This first post is more for tots than teens, but I will be taking this idea & expanding it to teens next week.

You’ve heard it before, & I’m telling you again.

The single.most. important. thing. you can do for your child to create a love of reading is to read to them.

Read. Read. Read.

Just like building a house, you have to build a reading foundation. Sitting down with your child and reading books is the way to establish that solid foundation.

When my boys were babies (read: before they were mobile), reading books to them was a piece of cake. They were a captive audience.   Then they started getting wiggly when I tried to read to them. It’s okay. Let them move around. Let them walk around the room. Play with toys. Just sit and read to them anyway. I promise the day will come that you will once again have your captive audience back.

Another thing? Have books in your house. Please don’t read that as “You need to go buy a gazillion & 1 books for your child.”  Sure, buy some books, but hear me on this…

Take your child to the library. Often.

1) It saves you money buying books. 
2) It surrounds them in books.

Our local library has several options for baby & toddler & preschool play times, singing times, & story times. Granted several of the programs are during the day, but there are some in the late afternoon & early evening. If your local library has these options available, I recommend you partake if you are able.

Board books are great for the little ones. You know the ones, right? They have the big, chunky pages. My boys love the Sandra Boyton books. Eric Carle is awesome too. Lots of good ones out there. Chantelle over at Mom Went Crazy already has an awesome list of great children’s book titles & authors. I couldn’t have made a better list myself, and, in fact, I would have included the majority of the same titles. The list has books for wee ones all the way up to 7 or 8. (Charlotte’s Web, for example, could easily be a read aloud book for a 5 or 6 year-old & an independent read for a 7 or 8 year-old.)

So, what exactly is your child learning when you read to them?

Besides that all-important foundation you are building, your child is learning the way books work. Which way to hold a book. Where the front cover is. That you read print front left to right. That pictures relate to the words on the page. When you hand a book to your child upside down & with the back cover up & he or she turns it right side up & flips it to the front cover, you know your child is understanding the early, early foundations of reading.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

First Snowman

Sweetie Pie’s first snowman. My husband really made it, but the little man helped…some. He put the ears on.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pay It Forward

Just like the movie by the same name, this is project involves me doing something for you & then you doing something for someone else, hence pay it forward. And in this project the “doing something” involves actually making something by hand.

My friend Laura posted about this project on her blog. I loved the idea, and, of course, hopped on board. Here’s how this works:

I promise to make a handcrafted item in 2011 & mail to the FIRST 5 people who comment that they would like to join in, only asking in return that you post this on your blog and offer 5 people something you make by hand and mail to them this year.

My handcrafted item is yet to be determined, but I am leaning toward some sort of homemade canned goodies—dill pickles, sweet pickles, bread & butter pickles, Christmas pickles, apple butter, salsa, relish, or something(s) like that. Or maybe I’ll dust my scrapbook supplies out and create something fun once again. We’ll see where the wind takes me.

So, who’s in? Who wants me to send them something this year? Remember. You have to pay it forward too. Ready? Go!

Monday, February 7, 2011

McFatty Monday—2/7

The scales? Still not moving in the right direction. All I have to say is we were SNOWED IN this week. Literally did not leave the house for FOUR days with the exception of a trip to the pediatrician for Boogaboo’s ear infection. So, 4 days cooped up equals 1) eating everything in  & b) not being able to get to the gym to exercise. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but my exercise routine has a direct impact on how healthy I do or do not eat. This week the diet was. not. good.

Recap of Big Picture Goals: 

1) Lose 40 pounds total 
2) Run a 10k in April
3) Bike 50 miles with hubs by the end of June
4) Make healthy eating my lifestyle.
5) Get my cholesterol & triglycerides to a normal range without medicine.

This weeks tabs:

1) Weight Loss/Gain: +1.6 pounds

      Total loss:  -6.4 pounds

      Remaining to lose:  33.4 pounds

This week’s goal: I have to get the scale moving in the right direction again this week. I want to lose AT LEAST 2 to make up for this week. But I would prefer 3.

2) Exercise: Ran 4 miles—without stopping. They were slow miles. (12ish minute miles) But they were MY 4 slow miles. ALL running.

This week’s goal: Do another 4 mile run AND do a 3 mile run working on some interval running to increase my speed.

3) Diet: Confession time. Remember how at the eat of last week’s post I said & I quote, “No pizza or ice cream will be had this week. Scouts’ honor.” Well…It’s a good thing I’m not really a scout. Had both this week. I know, I know. But at lest I’m honest.

This week’s goal: Sticking to last weeks goal: No eating after 8. Hopefully that will help curb my binges after the boys are in bed. Really going to try to stick to one serving of fruit & one serving of complex carbs each day this week.

4) Beverages: Was a total water slacker again this week. Had way too much DDP. I MIGHT have one beer a week in a typical 7 days, but thanks to the Super Bowl & cabin fever, I think I had 3 this week. Hmmm, can we say wasted calories?

This week’s goal: Water, water, water! I will drink it! 64 oz. each day. No pop. Period.

So, week 4? Still biting the big one, BUT I have to say, I really thought the weigh-in this morning would have been worse considering the horrible diet & lack of exercise this week. All-in-all, feeling kind of like Switzerland about this week.

Did I mention we are supposed to get MORE SNOW Wednesday? Please just let the roads be good enough for me to get to the gym.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snowmeggedon Saga

As I stood in my bathroom intently watching one of our two shower heads, I looked down at my gray, furry Ugg boots & surveyed the rest of my 3 AM outfit. Thermal long john’s, a Thunder t-shirt, my OU hoodie, a hot mess of a sprout ponytail, & glasses that are so loose they barely stay on my face. I was smokin’ hot. I had to laugh. I looked ridiculous.

How did I arrive at this point?

Twenty minutes earlier, my husband had woken me out of a dead sleep. I still had a crick in my neck from being startled awake. I was in the middle of a great dream involving a trip to a tropical island & an irresistible cabana boy named Miguel when I vaguely heard my husband calling my name. I shot up in bed when I realized that wasn’t part of my dream.

We had a frozen pipe in our shower.

So, at three o’clock in the morning, here we were.

Once my husband got all geared up in his snow day best, he was even a hotter mess than I was. I mean who can resist a man in ski bibs and face mask hat, with two blow dryers sticking out of his coat pockets. Grrrr. Hold me back ladies.

The first trip into the attic, I can hear my husband tromping through the eves & then I hear some kind of disgruntled cussing cursing yelling. Turns out the flashlight had quit working and he had forgotten to take the extension cord up with him that he needed for the blow dryers.

Enter me.  Had to go get my winter’s best on (see description of my rockin’ attire above). We were quite the pair let me tell you. My job was to feed the cord to him so it didn’t get tangled & then go watch the shower head for water to start coming out.  I drew the long straw if you ask me. My job was easy.

So, that brings me back to the beginning of this little story.

There I was dressed to the nines watching the shower head. You know the saying—a watched pot never boils? Yeah, it’s like that. I can hear my husband above the shower running both blow dryers. We’ve got the shower running hot water on full blast. And I am praying this water starts running before we have a busted pipe and a major remodeling project.

After 40 minutes of the hot water turned on & pouring out of one of the shower heads & the blow dryers heat blaring over the pipes, we finally got a TRICKLE of water from the other shower head. You would have thought we’d struck gold won the mega millions by the happy dance I was doing. 

Just a few minutes later, water come pouring out of the previously blocked shower head. I screamed that it had worked up to my husband.

Crisis averted. And back to bed I went.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tots & Teens Thursdays

During on of the “For the Love of Blogging” week, Katie over at Sluiter Nation hit on a point that struck me. Hard. It was one of those “Well, Duh!” kind of moments, but it just clicked for me right then.

The point she made?

Write What You Know

Sounds simple, right?

This got me to thinking. What could set my blog apart from other mommy blogs out there? Besides this motherhood, wife, friend gig, what do I know? My answer?

Middle school kids & reading

What you might not know about me is that I taught middle school for 12 years. That kind of makes me an expert on those moody people—you know the alien that took over your sweet child—if you ask me. Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. But I have been around that block a few times, & I do have some tricks and wisdom up my sleeve.

The other thing I know…reading. Many of you probably don’t know this, but I am a reading specialist. And now that I have kids, I have found myself using my Master’s degree in reading to build as strong of a literacy foundation as I can for them. As I began to label my house for Sweetie Pie (more on this in another post), it dawned on me. Any parent can do these things. They just need to be made aware of them.

Enter Tot & Teen Thursdays.

My idea is to dedicate Thursdays’ posts to 2 concepts:

1) Sharing ideas on how to foster reading skills in your little one. A strong literacy foundation will serve your child & you well in the coming years.  And, seriously, there are hundreds of little things & even reading lessons you can do at home to give your kid that extra little boost.

2) Either sharing thoughts on middle school kiddos or taking questions from you concerning a struggle you might be having with your middle schooler. Topics could range from grades to attitude to organization to how to address a problem with a teacher. I don’t know. Just throwing some ideas out there.

I’d love to hear your thoughts & opinions on this idea. Would there be interest out there for these posts? Or is this just a hair-brain idea? Be honest with me, please. Yay or Nay? What say you?

My Snow Angel

After his begging for 5 hours to go play in the snow, we couldn’t say no any longer. He was only outside for all of 5 minutes, but look how much fun he had!


Throwing a snowball at Daddy.




Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Little White Lies

I catch myself doing it all the time. Telling Sweetie Pie those little white lies. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that are just easier than explaining the actual truth.

You know.

Like telling him a light switch is hot.  Now let me explain that one.

The switch was on the side of a kitchen island at my friend’s house. We’d gone over there for a play date. That switch turned on the garbage disposal. So, when Sweetie Pie kept trying to flip it on, I was telling him not to.

He asked me why.

I told him he just didn’t need to do that.

Then he asked me, “Is it hot?”

Yes! Yes it is hot son.

See. Sometimes the simplest answer—even if not exactly the truth-- is just easier.

Maybe that’s just me being lazy & not wanting to explain every little detail to him.  And maybe it’s just me being realistic & knowing that he isn’t going to understand the truth.

Which leads me to the question. Do you tell little white lies to your kids?