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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Girl Talk Thursday: What’d you wanna be when YOU grew up?

Today on Girl Talk Thursday Diane from dashoff asks: What’d you wanna be when YOU grew up?

What did I want to be when I grew up?

What a loaded question. Maybe an easy question for other people, but never for me. I had convinced myself for years that I wanted to be a lawyer. I excelled at debate early on. I had a close cousin who is a lawyer. It was an desirable career. And thanks to feminism I could be anything I wanted to be right?

Except what I *really* wanted to be was a wife and mommy, and a stay at home one at that.. Which some how, in a feminist, girl power sort of world, was totally looked down on. With all this potential, all of the opportunity to do "great" things why would I want to settle for being a housewife. But for me it was never settling. It was like a secret thing I kept inside me until I was 17 or 18.

Then college rolled around. I started off in political science - the direction I was told to take if I wanted a good base for law school. I HATED it. The nagging desire to give in and be true to myself was pushing further forward. So I rambled around doing everything from retail to being an executive assistant until Bear and I got married and made the decision I should stay home. The kids were born and it was everything I hoped it would be.

Now as they are growing up, I start to wonder what I want to be as I continue to grow up. Really, while I think that I probably "should" go out and get a job, I love being home. Sure it is endless hard work. This past weekend was the first in over eight years I have had "off". But I am doing something I love, and the benefits package can't be beat.

And on that note, I am going to go snuggle with Indy, and read a book!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review and Giveaway: SnackTaxi

Back in February I got hooked up with SnackTaxi by Business2Blogger. SnackTaxi sent me a bulk/produce sack, a sandwich-sack, a snack-sack, and a twice-as-nice napkin to try out. I have spent the last month and half sending them to school with my kids, taking them to the park, and throwing them in the washing machine.

I have a shelf full of reusable lunch and snack things, so I am all too aware that after the first use or two the flaws in the products come out. I am pretty happy to report that I still love them.

The snack-sack got sent to school daily. If the kids decided they wanted something else I rinsed it out, was dry by morning, and ready to go. Until a yogurt in the lunch box with it exploded that was all I did to keep it clean. Then I threw it in the washer/dryer, and was ready to go.

The sandwich-sack was really interesting. Many of the other sandwich products I have used are not suitable to use with rolls rather than just bread, but the sandwich-sack was absolutely large enough. Which in and of itself was pretty cool. But then a few weeks ago a neighbor and I went to the park. After the kids were done eating her dog was thirsty. I grabbed the sandwich-sack and she poured some water in it - ta da! Doggy bowl. Into the washer/dryer that went that night, and still looked great. This also got used to large snacks on car trips when I needed enough to feed the whole family.

The twice-as-nice napkin were just what it should be - usable, absorbent and washed up well. My kids loved that it matched the sandwich-sack, and the pattern on both and were totally willing to use it. The bulk/produce sack, was good to use. I ended up hand knotting the top when I had the room, but would have liked an attached closure. Still, it was small enough to be easy to grab when I went to the store.

Now the nice people at snackTaxi were nice enough to provide me with a snack-sack and a sandwich-sackin adorable patterns for me to give away!

Want to win it? Head over to the SnackTaxi website and comment here with a product you like.


-Post about this review/giveaway on your blog and then come back and comment again with the direct link.

-Subscribe via email, google buzz, google friends, or networked blogs and leave comment.

-Follow me on Twitter and leave me a comment

-Tweet about this giveaway with a link back to the giveaway. Then return here and leave a comment. {You can do this once per day}.

-"Like" SnackTaxi on facebook, and then leave a comment

- Leave a comment on another post here and then leave a comment on this post letting me know which one. (only once)

Giveaway Rules:
1. Giveaway is open to those with a US mailing address only.
2. Winner will be chosen by and notified via email - (please make sure to either have your email address visible on your profile or leave it in the comment).
3. Winner will be asked to respond with full contact information within 48 hours of being notified. Failure to do so will result in another winner being picked.

Entries will be accepted until May 5th 2010. Winner will be announced May 6th 2010. Good luck!

SnackTaxi provided me with the products to review and giveaway. No additional compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Losing It: Not just our Sanity - Week 7

People we have a situation. I am finally starting to get into the habit of the whole workout/gym/being sweaty thing. I adjusted my workout thanks to the help of the personal trainer (who by the way was a one off consult from the gym with my membership - I don't get to keep him. Boo). But you people did not mention I was going to gain weight with all this muscle. What the hell?

I get the whole muscle is denser than fat thing. I totally get that hey, holidays = not being great about diet. But seriously? SO sick of seeing the scale go back up instead of down while working my ass off. Although apparently not literally since Oh Hi I gained weight this week.

So my friends, this week will be about tracking every bite. And counting calories. Because despite drinking enough water to drown in, and not missing any workouts I am failing at Losing It. If there was a Gaining It I would be in the running.

This is week 7. Which means I have 3 weeks to become a lean(ish), mean, exercising machine. Meanwhile, I will post my exact weigh in after I workout this morning, because that is when I always do.

On a positive note, I have a dent and my arm shows a tiny bit of muscle when I flex it. Focus on the little things. And pray my panties don't cause inappropriately placed blisters.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Guest Post: Traveling with My Infant- First Time’s a Charm

I am taking a Spring Break this week and am lucky to have some guests posts. Today's post is by Elise Jones, mom of 2 lovely girls & blog editor of

Before having children, my husband and I traveled extensively with a close-knit group of about 10 friends. We trekked all over the U.S. as well as many parts of Europe. So once I found myself with child, we naturally were urged by our childless-traveling buddies to plan on continuing our trips with our little bundle. Surely traveling with a non-walking infant was E-A-S-Y. Plus no how and no way was our pre-baby travel schedule going to alter just because we had a BABY. Just strap them on /in and we’d be on our way.

So the first European trip was booked BEFORE the baby came and was to happen soon after the child’s second-month shots. We were all off to Bordeaux for my husband’s first marathon (oh yea, he was training for it the months leading up to and just after having our FIRST child; that was so much fun). I had the passport application in and her first “mug” shot taken as soon as I received the birth certificate and Social Security number in the mail. She was 6 weeks old when we received her first passport and she traveled for the first time 2.5 months after she was born. Her first airplane trip was to FRANCE; how lucky can one gal be?!?

Well let’s just say, this trip was my first lesson in “let me show you who’s boss, lady.” As I packed and planned in the weeks prior to leaving, I was certain I hadn’t overlooked any little item we would need, much less anything “surprising” that might come our way. I mean, I may have had a 35 lb. bag just for the 10lb. baby, but one never knows what crazy things might happen. The fog of new motherhood and the craze of sleepless nights, did seem to only help the situation. I mean, now as I look back and I’ve mothered two little bits and I know what it means to travel with said little bits (fyi, I’m on self-imposed, ground-stop travel as of the past six months) I think I must have been a bit crazy at that moment in my life but was too punch drunk to know it!

The lesson gleaned from this first foray into infant travel and subsequent international and national plane trips can be summed up in five little “helpful hints” for all of you who are looking to dip into the unknown abyss of plane travel with the under one set:

1. Check everything you can! Do not fool yourself into believing you will save ANYTHING by carrying on as much with you as you are allowed. What you may make up in money, you will lose in sanity. Plus your medical bills because of crazed, airport-induced stress will far outweigh any savings in the long run.

2. Only carry on the following items: sling/baby carrier, diaper bag, and gate check the stroller. I usually don’t use the stroller in the airport to transport the baby. It has most frequently been used to transport bags, coats, the massive amounts of magazines my husband insist on buying at the newsstand, blankets, and liquids (bought after security, of course).

3. Once you approach the security line at the airport, give the first security guard a pitiful look. It’s the sure-fire way you will be escorted to the “family” line and get through security lickety split! No one likes crying babies. And even worse than crying babies, is screaming babies in long airport security lines. And the grand mal of terror is crying babies, pissy parents and longgggg airport security lines. At the security checkpoint, everything must go through the conveyer belt X-ray machine. EVERYTHING (except, of course humans). So be prepared to do the dance. It’s fun (in a really painful doctor’s visit way) and you’ll only smile afterwards (as they paw through every baby item you painfully folded/washed/stuffed into your diaper bag). Weeeee!

4. Speaking of diaper bags, here’s what I suggest packing in yours: diapers, wipes, diaper cream, lotion, changing pad, pacifier, bottle, bottled water, baby food, change of clothes for both mom and baby, non-squeaky toys, books, traveling documents (in a Ziploc bag; don’t ask), blanket, and sanity. Please don’t leave this last one at home; it makes for a rough trip for EVERYONE. All of these are in a quantity of at least one day’s worth of items. God forbid, you are delayed or your bags are detained, you will be at least prepared to get through a day where you can locate emergency supplies if need be. All of the liquids must be in small quantities. Just enough for 2 days (travel day plus one more). No need to go to the gym in the days leading up to the trip as you can see you will need to save up your energy for the weight of the bag and of course the baby you are carrying for many, many hours.

5. Once on the plane, make sure you have requested bulk-head so if the baby is small enough and your ride is long enough, you can have a bassinet to place the baby in to free up your arms for eating, reading and all of those other things you THINK you are going to do when traveling on a plane with a baby. Also if the little one is lucky enough to get their own seat, there won’t be a problem with them kicking the seat in front of them (unintentionally, of course) and making you a lifelong “friend” with the passenger in front of the child. The most important rule of travel is make sure the baby is sucking going up and coming down: pacifier, bottle, breast, sippy cup, or whatever. This is help with the pressure on their ears and it will help you eliminate one more possibility for the cause of the child’s wailing. I’ve also offered ear plugs to nearby neighbors on planes. Mixed reactions can be found to this ploy. Alcohol purchases are more successful.

Before you know it, you’ll be landing in wonderful Bordeaux and trying to figure out how those Europeans drive in such small cars with no storage space for bags. I guess it’s all about journey, not the destination.

I am taking a Spring Break this week and am lucky to have some guests posts. Today's post is by Elise Jones, mom of 2 lovely girls & blog editor of

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Guest Post: Have 6 kids, 32 pairs of shoes, 1 golf bag - Will Travel

I am taking a Spring Break this week and am lucky to have some guests posts. Today's post is by Heather from Café!

Traveling with kids is always an adventure. An adventure that begins the moment you start packing. I found this out the hard way when I began gathering all the necessities for our family of eight to travel from Ohio to San Diego for my brother’s wedding.

To give you a little background, we are a blended family. My husband has two daughters (ages 9 and 11) and I have four children (two daughters, ages 6 and 10 and twin sons age 9). Yes, we have six children living with us who range from 6 to 11 years of age. Some call us crazy, others know we are blessed. I like to think of our home as chaotic love. When we went on the trip the youngest was 4 and the oldest was 9.

Getting back to the story, I was so thankful my brother asked all six of our kids to be in the wedding. I really wanted my stepdaughters to feel included. I was so excited that my parents were also flying out and so was my other brother, his wife and their three kids. We thought it would be super fun to all rent a beach house and stay together for the week. We obviously were not thinking clearly.

As I began packing, I realized that all the activities my brother planned for us were great but they also translated in to many different types of clothes and worst yet – shoes that needed to be packed.

At a minimum, each of us needed a pair of flip flops, tennis shoes, dress shoes and wedding shoes. Take those four types of shoes times eight people and you get 32 pairs of shoes or 64 individual shoes to pack. As I was sitting on the floor amidst a sea of rubber soles, my husband came to the rescue. He brought up his golf bag. “Throw all the shoes in here,” he said. Thank God for a clear thinking man.

Next on the list was packing the clothes. I packed a few outfits for everyone, two bathing suits a piece, beach towels, wedding attire and clothes for the rehearsal and dinner. Knowing that my parents were staying in the top part of the beach house with our family, I packed a few going out ensembles thinking my husband and I would be able to steal away for a night or two. That turned out to be yet another one of my wonderful expectations about the trip that never came to fruition – we never got to go out alone.

Got everything packed and loaded in our 12 passenger van. Two giant suitcases, 1 golf bag full of shoes, a carry on for me and each of the kids were allowed to pack a backpack full of whatever they wanted to keep themselves busy on the plane. We were ready to go.

We get to the airport and I was not prepared for all the stares and comments we would get as we walked through the terminal. “Are those all your kids?” people would ask and then seem surprised when we said yes. And our favorite was all the pointing at the golf bag my husband carried. “Look at that poor woman with six kids and her husband is going to play golf,” we overhead one lady say. Little did she know that my man had traded golf for his family. They were actually staring at a very wonderful guy with a whole lotta shoes.

Well, the flight went amazingly well. We were so proud of the kids. We did have to divide and conquer so my husband and I didn’t get to sit together but the peace we had by splitting up certain siblings was well worth it. When we got to the rental car area, we called to check if my parents had landed. My brother had already picked them up at the airport and they did not rent a car as they were planning on riding with us all week. We had rented a minivan that seats 8 only. Since my parents didn’t seem to get the picture very clearly, my husband rented a car which meant I had to drive my parents around all week and couldn’t ride in the same vehicle as him. Who thought traveling with my parents was a good idea?

We get to the beach house and my family loved it. It was literally right on the ocean and I was just happy to be on land and relax for the first night. But no, we have to get ready and go to my soon to be sister-in-law’s parents house for dinner. My kids are tired and crabby but we put on our smiles and go. My sister-in-law’s family is from Greece and so they prepared this authentic Greek dinner for us. The dinner was delicious but our kids were craving Mickey D’s. Their house was full of marble and statues and I was afraid something very valuable was going to get broken. Luckily our kids were so tired that they nearly all feel asleep.

Next day it was off to Sea World where we got to go behind the scenes and meet Shamu, train a beluga whale and swim with the dolphins. Amazing. Next day we were at Disneyland. We had one day to do Disney so we were all about the rides while my brother was all about the food and shopping. We had to split up. My kids badgered me to go on Space Mountain and then shortly after getting off the ride, they found out why mommy can’t ride roller coasters anymore. The hard way. They won’t be asking again.

Next day it was beach day. Finally a day to relax or so I thought. We were awoken at exactly 7 am by a call from my brother who was staying in the unit below us. Turns out he had seen a bug late the night before and was calling to inform us he was moving his family to a hotel. We are staying on the beach and there are bugs near water and sand yet my brother is a nurse and a germ a phobe and there was no convincing him to stay. Still don’t know why we needed a 7am wake up call to find out but so goes the trip.

We enjoyed our day at the beach. Our family went boogie boarding, collected shells, buried my husband in the sand and had a great time. My one son found what he calls an Octopus leg on the beach and picked it up. He chased the girls around the beach with it for quite some time. Then he got really mad at me when I told him he couldn’t take it home with him. Such a terrible mom.

The next day we went to the San Diego Zoo. What an incredible place. Loved the panda, giraffe and elephant exhibits best. My boys were totally fascinated with the meerkats. From there it was off to my brother’s for dinner. Next day was another beach day. Off to Hollywood the following day. Got to see Tim Robbins get his star on the walk of fame. The kids did not know who he was but we thought it was cool to see him and Susan Sarandon. The kids did recognize Jack Black who was there for the festivities.

We went to the Kodak Theater to have an Idol moment and it was there that I heard my greatest question of the vacation. It came from a lady on Hollywood Boulevard who was soliciting tours.” Excuse me miss,” she said “are you the supervisor of this group?” With a hearty chuckle I responded “no, I’m the mother of this group.” She smiled and went on to another herd of people. Don’t think she hears that response very often.

The rehearsal dinner went great but the wedding day was quite the deal. My sister-in-law made appointments for the girls to get their hair done – all with the same “do”. Two of my girls loved it and two hated having their hair look exactly like everyone else. Why did I get all the complaining? I’m just the driver. It was “picture city” the morning of the wedding so my husband and I had to split duties again. He had the boys where they needed to be and I took the girls to the park. Problem was, I was never told where in the park to go and this was a huge park filled with many different wedding parties taking photos. We didn’t find the bride and her bridesmaids til the last picture was being taken and then it was off to the Church.

The ceremony was beautiful. It was a traditional Greek Orthodox wedding and my son, Charlie, nearly dropped the crown as he was carrying it down the aisle. It was true comic genius that can never be duplicated in print. You should have seen the look on the priest’s face. Priceless. My nephew, who was two at the time, refused to walk down the aisle much to his mother’s chagrin. Another priceless moment.

It was finally time to head home. We arrived at the San Diego Airport and were running tight on time so my husband dropped us off and then went to return the rental car. The kids and I walked through the airport and went through security. When I emptied my pockets, I had glow in the dark plastic teeth, lip gloss, loose change, sea shells and Polly Pocket shoes in my bin. The lady behind me started laughing. I laughed too and knew she had to be a mom herself to appreciate how things you don’t own can end up in your pocket w/out you knowing. I found out after my sister-in-law sent us the wedding photos that my son, Charlie, had worn the fake teeth in the guys’ only wedding shots. Don’t think she was too happy but I actually found it quite humorous.

All in all it was a great trip. Despite getting handed a bill by my new sister-in-law at the end trip for the cost of all the attraction tickets (which we were originally told would be comped), having to rent a car for both ourselves and my parents, my brother and his family moving out of the beach house because they found a bug, my parents complaining it was too hot (constantly), and my son Charlie getting bit in the privates by a sand crab, it was a wonderful vacation.

What gives me the biggest giggle is to listen to the response from each of our kids when asked what the best part of the trip to California was. It’s not Disney, or Sea World. It’s not going to Hollywood or body surfing in the ocean. No, my kids’ favorite part of the vacation is the street performer that we saw at the pier. He was dressed in silver from head to toe and danced to Michael Jackson songs. We gave him a few bucks and he put on quite a show. My kids loved it. Loved it. We could have gone to Downtown Cleveland and saw the same thing. Smile. I just love how kids truly do appreciate the simple and somewhat bizarre things in life. As parents, we often try too hard to impress.

We all made it home safe and sound from the trip; two adults, six kids and 32 pairs of shoes (courtesy of one great husband and his dusty golf bag).

I am taking a Spring Break this week and am lucky to have some guests posts. Today's post is by Heather from Café!
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