Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 McLoughlin Family Christmas Letter

Hope you are all enjoying today, no matter what your religion is. Thought you might like to see our McLoughlin Family Christmas letter that went out this year.

Merry Christmas once again from the McFamily! Let’s dive right in …
            Aron has been busy this year just being awesome. When he wasn’t traveling to Wyoming or working long hours, he was involved with Joel’s Scout campouts and meetings and spent quite a bit of time replacing drains and pipes and ceilings. Before he could get a little break, it was time to put in new kitchen windows, a new double door and paint the kitchen! He did find time to take the boys fishing a few times, though J
            Not much has changed with Kerrie. She still loves her bon bons and bubble baths. On the side, she dabbles in homeschooling, freelance writing, hanging with her friends, scrapbooking, reading, stripping (wallpaper J), wrangling children, walking and trying new recipes.

            Joel turned 11 in June and was busy this year with 2 Pinewood Derbies, Pokemon Club, archery and gymnastics. He crossed over into Boy Scouts in February and is already First Class rank, has 4 merit badges toward Star Scout and enjoyed summer camp. He is on the move all day long, playing, reading, shooting arrows and more. He says he wants to be an actor when he grows up.
            Michael turned 9 in April and also participated in 2 Pinewood Derbies, Pokemon Club, gymnastics and a homeschool Chemistry class. Michael prefers to hang out at the dining room table creating various things out of Legos and recyclables. I think he’ll be a great engineer!
            Callie turned 7 in February and her hobbies include cheerleading, gymnastics, fashion design and debating with Mommy. She also had fun making her Pinewood Derby car for our homeschool group’s race and can be found at homeschool Chemistry class. I see her with a career as an entertainment/fashion attorney.
            Eva turned 5 this month and is still our tough little sunshine. Her hobbies include collaborating with Sam to make messes and get into trouble and … well, that’s mostly it. To occupy an hour of her week, we gave in to her pleas of, “I wanna do gymnastics, too!” I’m thinking she’ll grow up to have a career in something involving making messes all day and getting paid to do so.
            Sam turned 3 in October. He’s still master of any ball, and we’re considering getting him into a teeny soccer league just for the entertainment value. He insists he is a BIG BOY and wants to do everything himself. He’s also in gymnastics, and says he wants to be a fireman when he grows up.
            We adopted Snoopy Baby the Shih-tzu/Hound in October. He will be the perfect pet once he learns to poop OUTSIDE. We also have Giggy the tiny turtle, Henry the Betta fish and a minnow.
            Joel, Michael and Callie go to religious education weekly while I babysit in the nursery with Sam and Eva. This year we did Passport to Adventure, the zoo, went swimming a lot, went to Paradise Park, rode a train and more. The kids were a big help with the garden, too!
            We drove to Wyoming in May to be with Aron, who was there for his job, and we ended up staying 5 weeks at Kingfisher Bend Ranch! We fell in love with it and it made us want to move somewhere with wide open spaces. While there, we explored the Uinta Mountains, hit the Salt Lake City zoo and children’s museum, sunned ourselves on a Bear River beach, kayaked, fished, played in snow on Memorial Day, had a bonfire, watched kittens grow up, rode horses and chased bulls away.
Check out more of our family fun at TheKerrieShow.com. Wishing you an amazing 2013.
The McLoughlin Family
Aron, Kerrie, Joel, Michael, Callie, Eva and Sam


Friday, December 21, 2012

My Silver Retro Vintage Christmas Tree

I love this tree, and the lime green lamp by it ain't bad, either. My stepdad acquired this for me a few years ago and it takes me back to the 1960s. I wasn't born until 1971, but am obsessed with the '60s and have been since I can remember. It now houses my Hallmark Barbie ornaments and my family bed ornament that has all my kids with names on them in one ceramic bed. So cute!

What makes you happy this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Little Kids and Advent

My 9-year-old son Michael is so stinkin' cute. He goes to Religious Education class on Tuesdays with his brother and sister while I babysit in the nursery with Eva and Sam, and this year Michael has an amazing teacher who really challenges the kids ... and me.

She has given them a chain of things to do for every day of Advent. Each day is something different, like one might be to clean his room, one might be to read a Christmas story to his family. He also gets very serious about reading the Advent prayer every night and lighting the candles. In fact, Aron took him out to buy an Advent wreath because we didn't have one. He has to keep track of his daily chain items on a log.

Last night he was starting to get worried because one of the "assignments" on his chain had been to make a card for an elderly neighbor. Then yesterday's assignment was to mail the card to the neighbor. He was very specific and said we had to go to the post office to mail the card to the neighbor across the street.

Of course when one of my kids is like a dog with a bone, I help them out as much as I can. So we drove to the post office at 8 p.m. to mail the neighbor her letter. Michael likes to make sure he is doing everything right. Need I mention he is a model student for me?!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the teachers, paid and volunteer, who give it their all, who challenge the kids to be better people and have fun along the way. You are amazing.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weight Loss Rewards

When I saw this gem I said (Carrie Bradshaw-style), "Hello, lover!"

You know how some people reward their weight loss with, say, a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet?

I think that's dumb. Yep, I said it.

It's like "look at me depriving myself ... now I've lost 10 pounds so I'm going to get me somethin' to eat that I really want."

Yeah, let's celebrate losing 10 pounds by gaining a couple of those back. Great idea.

I have a better way! (for the record, Weight Watchers is not about depriving yourself or eating ONLY their food or only certain foods ... I eat all sorts of fun things from the healthy to the not-so-healthy and don't usually feel deprived ... I've only gone on 2 chocolate binges in 3 months!)

When I hit my 15-pound loss a couple of weeks ago, I marched my happy butt over to Target and picked out a cool, retro, herringbone "work tote" ... a huge bag like I love to carry and that holds all my crap ... snacks, a notebook, my food tracker, sunglasses, apothekerrie kit for when the kids get owies, wallet, brush, cell phone, pens, lipstick and Valium. Just kidding on that last one.

I'm already dreaming of my next weight loss reward. I'm thinking once I hit 25 pounds down it's time for a lovely black hooded coat from the vintage store. Or a trip to New York City :-)

Friday, December 14, 2012

MoH Wristband Flash Drive Giveaway and Review

Are you always losing things around the house? Do you put something down in one room and later remember that you put it there? I’m really bad about this with pens and flash drives. I switch my flash drive from my PC to the laptop often, then yank it out and am on the go to use it at the library or a friend’s house. I have been known to call a friend at night to ask them to please pull my flash drive from the back of their hard drive and save it for me because I NEED it back and will pick it up tomorrow. Oh, and I leave flash drives in pockets or lose them in the deep abyss of my purse. Then we have my 3-year-old taking off with them. Sigh. What’s a writer mama to do?

[How do you like all the TECH TALK so far? Jeez, I feel like I’m in an episode of Startups on BRAVO Channel, only for the over-40 crowd instead of 20-somethings.]

So what shows up at my door but a flash drive that is like a bracelet. An MoH (memory on hand) wristband flash drive, to use proper terminology. And I’m thinking this is more brilliant than the pen necklace! I am all for things we can attach to our body so we don’t lose said things.

Here’s what I love about this product:
  1. It’s on my person so I’m less likely to lose it
  2. It’s got a cute design on it so it’s fashionable
  3. It’s rubbery, so it’s comfortable
  4. It’s there when I need it, like a good friend
  5. It’s durable. I know this because the kids got ahold of it and it held up to the McLoughlin Naughty Child test. Yes, readers, I do extensive product testing for YOU!

Here’s what I don’t love about this product:
As a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, I do a lot of dishes. A lot, folks. I also shower from time to time and give baths to my little ones. All this means my wrist will be in WATER, which is not a friend to the flash drive. Never fear, because this gadget can attach to a purse, diaper bag, belt loop or whatever you want to hook it to!

Here's how to find out about them on Facebook and Twitter.

From the sponsor:
"MoH Bands are available in 34 styles, as well as 2GB, 4GB, and 8GB memory capacities.  MoH Bands are plug n play compatible with Windows or Mac operating systems.  The 7.5 inch silicone wristband clasps tightly for a secure fit making the MoH Band water resistant able to withstand washing your hands, rain, or sweat.  MoH Bands should not be submerged under water. MoH Bands have been selling for a year and a half with over 100,000 sold.  MoH Bands have become a favorite for students, mothers, and tech gurus who need help keeping track of their information.  A great stocking stuffer for any student in your family this holiday season!  Retail from $14 - $24 dollars at www.memoryonhand.com."

So how about a giveaway of one camo wristband? Tell your techy friends because this thing is cool, and I have it in my possession along with a padded envelope and am ready for you to win it so I can pop your name on the envelope and send it to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Simply 7 Snacks Review

I feel like a better mom feeding my kids things like Veggie Chips, but they stopped making the flavored ones, and the regular ones are bland. Then I got these Simply 7 Snack Chips to try and was intrigued by the fact that they are hummus chips, lentil chips and pomegranate chips. Sounds healthy!

I have a hummus kick lately. It’s fueling my life. I crave it. Put some natural flavoring on some hummus chips and I am in, sister! Check out these flavors:
·       Sea salt hummus chips
·       Roasted red pepper hummus chips
·       Tomato basil hummus chips
·       Chili pepper hummus chips
·       Jalapeno lentil chips
·       Sea salt lentil chips
·       Creamy dill lentil chips
·       Bruschetta lentil chips
·       Sea salt pomegranate chips
·       White cheddar pomegranate chips
·       Black pepper pomegranate chips

What does Simply 7 mean? I’ll tell ya what I read on the bag, that “all of our snacks are made according to 7 core standards and they are oh so simple”:
1.     0 grams trans fat
2.     No artificial colors or flavors
3.     No preservatives
4.     Gluten free ingredients
5.     All natural recipes
6.     Simple ingredients
7.     Simply delicious

Where to find them? I want them for my Heathen Homeschoolers weekly park day because many of my friends in that group are all-natural eaters and feed their kids the same. I’ve stopped showing up with Snickers bars and Doritos, and now I can show up with something cool and new and yummy and ALL NATURAL and yummy (did I already say yummy?) and crunchy. And YES, this reviewing thing is hard work, but I did personally taste all 11 varieties of chips as a service I like to provide for my readers J

Oooh, and I think I just found my new go-to snack for dipping into my vat of hummus I like to buy! I’m thinking the sea salt variety will be perfect for my Greek olive hummus. Or one of the spicy varieties will work wonderfully with my plain hummus.

Here are Simply 7's Facebook and Twitter links so you can connect with them!

*For all you Weight Watchers geeks out there, it’s 3 points for about 30 of the Tomato Basil hummus chips, and hummus is about 1 point per tablespoon.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Thrift Store Christmas Shopping

At Target a new holiday dress would be at least $20. This one was closer to $2.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Target. I have always gone there because it's close to home and easy, and they have great hours. I saw the cutest holiday dresses and decided this year my girls would have nice dresses for the holidays. They do have some nice dresses (thanks, Miss Kay, Mom and Nancy!), but I was thinking of something festive they could wear to all the parties and family gatherings we attend.

Then Christmas shopping started in earnest, gymnastics started, and other life and home things got costly. I decided I would fuel up my kids with some good snacks and we would hit the thrift store. Not just a small one, but a huge one that would be more likely to have things we were looking for. I have always loved vintage and thrift store shopping but it got hard to do once I had the kids and my brain was too foggy to even contemplate keeping track of the kids while shopping for them at the same time.

Well, today I spent $16 on:

A fluffy yellow scarf for Callie
A nice shirt for Joel to wear to church ($1!!!)
Pants for Joel to wear around
A couple of things for my dad that he asked for
A Christmasy dress for Callie
A Christmasy dress for Eva (see above!)

I was also dreaming of some new clothes for myself as I hopefully continue to lose weight, but things cost so much new. I vow to have Aron watch the kids on one of his Fridays off so I can go vintage and thrift store shopping for my new CHEAP wardrobe. It's the green way to go, by the way, for the planet and our wallets.

What will we do with all the money we will be saving since I finally got smart? Well, we were talking with my dad the other day about going to Germany (where I was born) ... and I'd love to take my mom to Italy and the family to LegoLand. We shall see!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holiday Baking: Treat Boxes on the Cheap

Below is a picture of something I gave to friends, family and neighbors last year for Christmas.

  • I had gotten a bunch of mocha brownie mixes super cheap so I made them in festive cupcake wrappers.
  • I bought a chocolate bar from Germany from my local Aldi store.
  • I bought a bag of assorted uncracked nuts.
  • Don't mind the mini-toothpastes! I'm not very classy and had gotten a ton of them from a nice dental hygienist friend and put them in the treat boxes I knew would be going to kids. They are Spongebob toothpastes!
  • I bought some Gladware with coupons to store the treats in.

I like my treat box because it's something I would like to receive. I could reuse the Gladware, not be too unhealthy eating a ton of sweets, and have fun with the kids cracking the nuts the old fashioned way. The toothpaste is kind of a funny, like "brush your teeth after eating these sweets" ... ha! On top of the box I put our Christmas card. You could also wrap the box or put a bow on it or ribbon. I inherited a giving spirit from both of my parents, and especially my mom.

What are your holiday treat box ideas?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"Dog Trots Globe" Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

I am not happy with Sheron Long, author of "Dog Trots Globe: To Paris and Provence".

Do you want to know why?

Well, she has re-sparked my interest in travel like crazy. She has written a "children's" book that I am in love with because it features the most amazing photos of France! Does anyone else have that dream to go to Europe someday? Maybe part of my desire to go has to do with the fact that I was born in Germany. Europe is in my blood, and I feel like I am in France when I read this book to my kids.

From the publisher's website:
"Dog Trots Globe" follows the adventures of a Sheltie in France and provides a dog's-eye view of her travels to Paris and Provence. Includes over 150 color photographs, 4 videos, and a host of online extras.

Chula the dog has many adventures in this book as he travels from California to France, and in the process taught my kids many things about geography, art, history, foreign language, travel, culture and more! Chula also has a great sense of humor,  like when he just gets off the airplane and is looking for a place to go to the bathroom.

This book is available in three formats: hardcover, ebook and interactive ebook. With the interactive ebook there are amazing videos you can watch that bring the book to life as you read the book! With the other two versions, you STILL have access to these great features; you just have to head online to get to them. Just click on a certain picture and you can watch a video of Chula hanging out in Paris! I also love that you can follow Chula on Facebook!

There is even an afterword called "How to Take Your Pup to France."

I recommend this as a great gift for the dog lover, travel lover or child in your life!

Sound like fun? You can buy it here! 

In the meantime, you can try to WIN IT HERE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

10 Special Christmas Traditions

Every year on December 1st, my internal Christmas clock kicks in and I start craving my Great Aunt Eva’s amazing fudge and sugar Christmas cookies. I start looking forward to all the good times to be had leading up to Christmas day. Christmas need not be a stressful time when there are so many fun family traditions to try out! Grab your calendar and block out some time for these special Christmas traditions you and your kids will love and cherish.

1.     Have the kids write their letter to Santa asking for what they’d like for Christmas. Check out www.emailsanta.com to email Santa, play games, watch Christmas webcams and more. There’s even a countdown with how many “sleeps” until Santa comes. Oh, and did you know that Santa tweets? Also check out www.freelettersfromsantaclaus.com so you can personalize and then print out a letter.
2.     Take a couple of family pictures. We like to put on headbands with snowman and reindeer sticking up on springs just to be goofy for our Christmas cards. Then we like to take one where we are dressed more laid-back so we can display that photo all year in a frame.
3.     Why not go easy on yourself by uploading the family picture you took to a photo website like www.winkflash.com or www.snapfish.com and have them print out your Christmas cards for you. Just write addresses on envelopes and mail! Oh, and you might want to include your …
4.     Christmas letter. When it’s not possible to include your letter with your cards, just send it out via email. Some people think Christmas letters are silly, but I love receiving updates from family and friends so I also enjoy giving updates on my family.
5.     The great Christmas debate is about the tree: real or fake? Whether you drag your tree out of storage or go to a lot to pick out a fresh one, you have quite a bit of fun in store decorating it!
6.     Google “holiday lights + your town” then drive around looking at holiday lights with your family. Play Christmas music on the radio to get in the spirit. Jot down your favorite places to go so you won’t forget to see them again next year.
7.     Go visit Santa at a local mall or other location where Santa can be found during the Christmas season. Most kids love sitting on Santa’s lap and telling him what they want for Christmas. Then you have my kids, who always look a little panic-stricken in the photos. Still, it’s a fun thing to look back on!
8.     Everyone loves a Christmas treat! Spend a day baking and decorating cookies and treats for friends, families, neighbors, teachers, service people and strangers. Nursing home and assisted living residents just LOVE to see little kids, whether they bring treats or not. My dad was a mailman for many years, and he always felt appreciated during the holidays by the families that would make him goodies.
9.     Help someone in need. Kids especially love charities like Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse (www.SamaritansPurse.org), which lets you pack a shoebox with gifts for a child somewhere in the world. You can even track your box online to see which country it ends up in. You could also contact The Salvation Army (www.SalvationArmyUSA.org), homeless shelters or churches for a list of wants for each member of a local family who is in need. This will be one shopping trip your kids will never forget because they will be celebrating the true meaning of Christmas by helping others.
10.  As the Christmas season comes to a close, so make sure you read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible on Christmas Eve.

Kerrie McLoughlin shares her holiday adventures raising 5 kids at TheKerrieShow.com.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Tale of the Tooth Fairy Box Set Review

Man, the Tooth Fairy has a hard job. She/he has to wait until the kid with the lost tooth falls asleep, then she/he has to FIND the tooth, then quietly remove it and replace it with a gift or some money. That Tooth  Fairy is busy. Sometimes she/he even comes to our house while we are in the other room praying and doesn't even wait until the kids are asleep. It's like she/he just KNOWS when the kids have hidden their lost tooth and quickly swoops in to replace it with some cash.

"The Tale of the Tooth Fairy" box set would make a great birthday or other holiday gift for a special child in your life. It not only comes with a very cute book, but also comes with a Tooth Fairy doll with a pouch to hold a lost tooth. This way the child can put the lost tooth in the pouch and put the doll on a dresser or shelf and the Tooth Fairy can easily find the tooth! This set comes in a sturdy box which could serve as the Tooth Fairy doll's little home when not being played with or used for official tooth business!

Here's the skinny from the writer and illustrator:

Now for the first time - The Tale of the Tooth Fairy tells the story of how a little fairy finds her trun calling in helping children with the very first sign of growing up - the loss of their baby teeth!  Includes hard cover storybook with Tooth Loss Record Keepker, a boy or girl Tooth Fairy plush doll with Tooth Pouch and a Keepsake Box.  Similar in likability to The Elf on the Shelf, the Tale of the Tooth Fairy will be a darling for parents, grandparents and children alike!    The Tale of the Tooth Fairy was written and designed by husband and wife team Mary Kate Fleming and Brian Ledig. 

Here's where you can buy this super cute set, and here's how to friend them on Facebook!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Holiday Baking: Chocolate Stars

Now that Thanksgiving is over, let's concentrate on our holiday baking, shall we? For years now I have not had time to mess with this, as much as I love making things for people and sampling the chocolate fun! But this year will be different! This year is as easy as 1, 2, 3 ... (okay, and 4)

ONE ... buy some milk chocolate melts from your local baking store.

TWO ... melt them in a double boiler or White Trash Double Boiler as I have made below

THREE ... spoon chocolate into a mold like stars or Christmas trees or skulls or whatever floats your holiday boat

FOUR ... pop the mold into the fridge for a bit until they set up. Then pop the chocolate creations out of the mold and ... into your mouth, of course. And then the next batches can go into nice holiday boxes or bags to give to neighbors, coworkers, friends, family and your mouth again. ENJOY!

That Freaky Anti-Germ Mommy

You don't want to be one of those parents who is all freaky about your kid getting sick off of another kid. You don't WANT to be that mom who is like, "Oh, your kid coughed. We have to leave the playdate now."

So you write Zen things on Facebook like, "Oh, it's okay that your kid puked last night. We are still coming over for the playdate today." and then after the playdate, when the kid puked AGAIN, you write stuff like, "Oh, I like to just pray and do positive thinking and it will all turn out okay."

And usually it's fine. Your kids have a nice, built-up immunity.

Then they all 5 get sick at once and are puking and you're cursing yourself and your damned positive thinking and Pollyanna sick-itude because plans are cancelled and puke bowls are handed out and hair is held back and Saltines are blown through like money in this house.

Then, yeah, you kind of turn into that freaky mom who sees a runny nose at a mass playdate and you bribe the kids to get in the car NOW and we'll get some ice cream on the way home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide 2012, $289 Prize Package, Ends 12/12/12

Welcome to my first ever Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway! I have some great products for you to check out, and all of the companies are offering a giveaway, so please enter, tell your friends, and tweet daily because this prize package is worth $209, with another winner getting an $80 prize! Here is what the sponsors are offering:

Live Clean Baby is offering their full line of Live Clean Baby products, which includes tearless shampoo and wash, moisturizing baby wash, moisturizing baby lotion, non-petroleum jelly, diaper ointment and moisturizing bar soap. This package is valued at $47.94, and you can read my review of this amazing line here.

Kimco is offering 4 of their stylish wine bottle covers. This prize is valued at $11.96, and the awesome review of this product is here.

DVO Enterprises is offering two copies of their Cook'n Recipe Organizer Software ($80 value each), and the recent review can be found here.

Modern Art Announcements is offering one design of greeting cards you print yourself, valued at $6. The options can be found at the Etsy store here, and the sponsor is offering 10% off your order with the coupon code KERRIE.

Don Tomas Estate Coffee is offering your choice of one bag of their terrific coffee. This prize is valued at $10, and you can check out my review of this great coffee here.

ReUsies is offering a 2-pack of your choice of their awesome reusable snack bags, valued at $16.  Find my review of this green product here.

Sophisticated Apparel is offering one ear warmer, valued at $18, and you get to choose the color. This is a great,  hand-knitted product, and if you don't live where it is cold, this makes a cute headband! The Etsy shop can be found here; many other products can be purchased, such as belts, leg warmers for adults and kids, wrist warmers, booties and more knitted products! The sponsor is offering 10% off your order with the coupon code KERRIE.

I am also offering a copy of my ebook "Make Money to Write About Your Kids", valued at $19.85.

So many ways to enter on the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Some of the products listed in the Holiday Gift Guide are products I have been sent to review.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cook'n Recipe Organizer Software Review

Whether you are a fledgling cook like myself or an expert in the kitchen, you will love the Cook'n Recipe Organizer software from DVO Enterprises! First of all, it's preloaded with a bunch of great recipes, and I'm always looking for new recipes to try out on my family and friends. Then it has all these great categories to put recipes you capture from anywhere on the Internet. This program is as easy as moving files around in your Windows Explorer program. This program even includes a glossary of cooking terms for the cooking-challenged like me!

Check out more info about the product and some screen shots, then load it onto your laptop and get cookin'!! You can find Cook'n on Facebook and Pinterest. Then come back because Cook'n is giving away a copy of their software to TWO lucky winners of my Holiday Gift Guide 2012 prize package!

Cook'n Is The Easiest Way to...

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanks-o-ween!

This  picture is for my friend Smoosh, who I have known forever, as in BEFORE I GOT MARRIED. We worked together at a public relations firm and were both secretaries who ended up having a much better time as stay-at-home-moms sharing a breast pump and other gross secrets. She said her son looked over her shoulder when she was reading The Kerrie Show (like a good friend should!) and wanted to know what my kids were for Halloween.

Laptop issues prevented me from posting in a timely manner, so here you go on Thanksgiving: the picture of my kids at the church Trunk or Treat. It was COLD here in the Midwest, so they are a bit covered up! Here's your cheat sheet:

Joel was a leopard with taped-on spots because his mom is too lazy and cheap to sew or buy a costume.

Michael was a wizard (recycled costume and hand me down from a friend).

Callie was a "skating queen" (hey, whatever floats your boat and I don't have to come up with a creative idea for).

Eva was a ghost, using a trash bag and a Sharpie, costume by Michael. A neighbor asked if she was wearing a trash bag (incredulous!) and I said she was going as White Trash this year.

Sam was a cow. Can I get a WHOOP WHOOP for a costume that has been used by ALL FIVE kids in my family? Take THAT, Green Movement!

No, I was not passed out drunk on the couch while they got dressed. Would that I could drink alcohol and enjoy it and not get a headache. I just like to let them use their imagination and get creative and find their own stuff to wear!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ReUsies Sandwich and Snack Bags Review

Picture above: the snack size and sandwich size

How stinkin' cute are these ReUsies sandwich and snack bags I got to review?

Here's what the company has to say: "ReUsies™ are a re-usable alternative to sandwich and snack bags. Each one has the potential to eliminate hundreds of plastic bags. ReUsies™ are 100% cotton lined with leak-resistant nylon and are secured with hook and loop closures. They are easy to clean either by hand, dishwasher, or washer and dryer." They keep "food safe and come in a variety of prints for any member of the household."

A hook and loop closure means Velcro to you and me, folks. I scratched my head on that one for a second, but the kids have taken all my brain matter, so go figure.

The one on the top is the sandwich size folded down even smaller to hold a half sandwich or snack ... so versatile!

Okay, so we are ALWAYS on the go. Like almost EVERY DAY we are going somewhere. And I take snacks with us in case we want to stay a little longer somewhere. I go through a lot of sandwich baggies when we pack lunch for the zoo or wherever we are headed around lunchtime. I also go through a lot of snack size baggies for my new Weight Watchers routine: servings of grapes, carrots, pretzel crisps. ReUsies help make my life a lot greener. I used cloth diapers for 10 years on 5 kids; why would I not do the same for snack bags?

These would also be fabulous for packing school kids' lunches and your own lunch for work!

Check out all the cute prints and size options at ReUsies.com!

Come back soon for my Holiday Gift Guide because ReUsies is offering a giveaway of a two-pack of your choice! In the meantime,  here's their Facebook page and their Twitter handle!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Kimco Wine Bottle Covers Review

I love giving gifts. I love the holidays, too! So when Kimco sent me a couple of their wine bottle covers to review, I knew right away who would be getting a nice bottle of wine this Christmas. Last year we gave my brother- and sister-in-law a bottle of wine for Christmas, but it sure was not wrapped in a cool cover like this one! And they can then wrap a bottle and give it to someone else.

Each cover comes with a tall gift bag with a gift tag so you can put the covered wine bottle in it and write a special message. And then you are all set.  I love an easy gift to give, seeing as how finding lots of time to shop is just not possible in my current situation, having so many little ones.

I love these wine bottle covers because they jazz up and class up an otherwise ordinary gift item.

To purchase this terrific product for only $2.99 each for the cover AND gift bag/tag, head to the store here. There are several great options, and all you have to do is buy a bottle of wine, and you are all done with your gift giving!

Kimco is offering one lucky winer FOUR wine bottle covers in my Holiday Gift Guide 2012 gift package, so please come back next week and enter to win the giveaway!

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Weirder Than Marshmallows" Book Review

“Weirder Than Marshmallows” says it’s the “essays and musings of Dan Fogg.” I think it’s just funny. It’s only about 87 pages, so you can grab it and take it anywhere and finish it in no time, then pass it on to a friend. Or grab it for your e-book reader and read it over and over again.


Here are some samples from the book:


Here he’s talking about writers and why they write: “And that idea won’t let go, won’t let go no matter what, won’t let go until pen hits paper and it’s evicted from the apartment of your mind with a simple combination of movement and ink.” I love the EVICTED FROM THE APARTMENT OF YOUR MIND! Now I see all my writing ideas as little renters in little apartments in my brain and when I get one on paper and out the door to try to sell somewhere, it gets a tiny eviction notice.


In the essay Helplessness and the Valor of Others he describes himself a little: “To carry something this large is an inconvenience to anyone. Even more so when a three month old baby can out arm wrestle you and you need one hand to drive your motorized wheelchair.”


In the essay on Electile Dysfunction 2000 he explains the Gore/Bush election mess so well that even I understand it, and even takes a paragraph to describe the CHAD! “And the pregnant chad, which can’t help but make you giggle, is one that’s simply dented in the middle.”


The book is varied in topics and broken down into tiny chapters, which I love. He tells tales of human stupidity, “warnings that should never have to be warned”, “stories of mass ignorance”, “Twilight Zone like tales”, and comments on the world in general in an amusing way. AND then includes a few pages of his favorite quotes.


My only complaint about this book is that I wish the editor’s note at the beginning would explain more about the author, who died at the age of 22. His mom compiled the book, and I would love to see more about this funny kid without having to Google him. What was his “disability”? How did he die? What was he like as a kid (wry, sarcastic, aware of “inhuman stupidity” even then?)?



Bottom line: It breaks my heart that Dan Fogg (1980-2002) has left our world, but his mom hints that there’s more to read, as he also wrote fiction, which he told his mom will blow your head off J

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kitchen REMODEL 2012/2013

Believe it or not, some readers of this blog actually like to see pictures of my messy house. So here is a shot of our kitchen BEFORE it was painted.

And here is a shot AFTER. I did a little spackling and painted the ceiling but otherwise my dear husband does EVERYTHING! Here's a post and pictures of this area when it had wallpaper on it.

Here's the other side of the kitchen ... woo hoo! You can see a couple of BEFORE shots of this little area here.

I thought this was all that needed to be done, but there is lots more to come, people. Me and hubs, we were like Jeff and Jenny on Flipping Out (BRAVO Channel) as I made a list of things to be done and upcoming cost. Stay tuned, remodel lovers.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It Goes Too Fast

One day recently the kids and I went to a place called Trailside Nature Center to get our Passport to Adventure books stamped. We learned a teensy bit about history then did what we do best: hit a nature trail.

I love to play with my kids but much of the time I just like to watch them. On this day they were building a rock bridge over parts of a stream so they could go further down the stream and explore more. I love how they work together and play together and help each other. I love how we were completely alone on this stretch of stream and how it was one of those fall days where it's warmish cool.

I love when I can snap a picture of all 5 of my kids together and think about how fast this journey of motherhood is going. I realize it never ends, but sometimes this little-kid part of it flies by and I wish I could live certain days over again.

Not the days when I'm impatient and yell about getting teeth brushed and clothes on and rushing out the door to something we have to be at. But those lazy days when you don't have to be anywhere and can take your time with life ... those are the days I want to live again and again with my family.

I guess all any of us can do is savor every moment with our loved ones. I was kicking myself for not scrapbooking lately and being years behind. Then I realized I've been too busy LIVING this great life and that I will [fortunately/unfortunately?] have plenty of time to scrapbook and write when my kids are driving and dating and at college and working and planning their weddings and raising their own families.

I will greatly miss these times like in these pictures.

My Favorite Foods for Weight Loss

No, this is not a post about foods that will MAKE you lose weight. I mean, if you eat fruits and veggies all day long and nothing else, you will lose weight. And you will be grumpy because you need some protein, people. And some carbs other than fruit so your tongue is happy. Or is that just me?

So here are my recent go-to foods that I hit when I want a burger or a Twinkie or Dove chocolate or a 500-calorie Starbucks mocha. My list changes, so I may be back in another post to update with more of my favorites as I discover them:

  1. Pretzel Crisps and hummus. Yeah, I have to count the Weight Watchers points, and there are plenty in this treat, but the crunch rocks and makes me feel like I'm being somehow Food Naughty.
  2. Sugar free chocolate syrup. YUK, I know. It takes a while to get used to. But mixed with a Starbucks VIA, skim milk and ice, you have a 3-point treat to sip all morning instead of a 10-point coffee that goes too fast.
  3. Weight Watchers has this SMOKED string cheese that's only 1 point each instead of the usual 2 points for a string cheese. The only catch is that you'll have to sell your kid to buy this stuff because it's like $4.50 for a package of 12. Us people with food issues will do anything to buy that extra daily point, though!
  4. Yoplait yogurt has a zillion flavors of their light line and it's only 2 points each. Mix a banana in with that and it's still a 2-point treat!
  5. Quaker Weight Control oatmeal comes in at 4 points per package but is pretty filling.
  6. Sara Lee makes a bread that is 1 point per slice (45 calorie bread), so I have an egg sandwich every morning for protein that adds up to 4 points total. It's expensive though. I was introduced to it by a friend who had a TRUCKLOAD of it from a grocery store and let me have as much as I wanted. Then I found out it's $4 a loaf so I went with a cheaper version. Just read the nutrition label.
See, you CAN eat whatever you want on Weight Watchers; you just have to count it. I'd love to hear your go-to foods to keep you out of Burger King. I've reinstalled Intense Debate for comments, so I hope to God it's working again because I'm missing hearing from ya'll!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Taking Kids Out to Eat!

We love Taco Bueno and don't have one close to us. So when we were nature center hopping one day when Aron was out of town, we hit one up "out of town" ... I felt very brave taking all 5 kids INSIDE A RESTAURANT by myself! They behaved well and we had a great time!

How do your kids do when you eat out?


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