So we’ve all heard the mantra that it takes 28 days to set a habit, right? (You have heard that, haven’t you?) With Shaklee, I’m well past that initial 28 day period – I’m in the midst of month three of working with Shaklee to shed some pounds. And I have. I’ve shared my progress with you, but I’ve also been stuck. The scale hasn’t moved in the right direction in a meaningful way in a long time – or so it feels. [Read more...]
I know you can’t compare kids. Every child is different and blah blah blah. But as parents we still do, not because we want to compare good/bad better/worse and so forth but because our only measuring stick of what is “normal” is our other children. I’m guilty of it all the time, and I know I’m not alone.
But my children are so different. They have such different personalities and strengths and interests. I witnessed it the past two days when we went through their rooms and evaluated every single non-clothing item to see if it is a keep or a go.
Mister Man would get involved in what he was looking at and forget the cleaning or the next item or why we were in his room. He simply focused on the moment, and the rest of the world disappeared. When evaluating items, for the most part he was sure whether he’d outgrown it or not and if it was too babyish, it was gone. The small “junk” items (oh birthday goodie bags, how I hate you) were more of a challenge, but I finally hit the jackpot when I started asking him how long it would take him to forget about an item. There was a large pile of items exiting his room, calmly and methodically.
Little Miss was more of a challenge. Her room is simply covered and filled with two things. Her main obsession is Puffles and Puffle-related items she’s created from a disco palace to Halloween costumes to picture frames and more. She’s a tad bit over the moon for her Puffles, but she plays with them and their accoutrements daily. And then we have the stuffed animals. Last night she couldn’t fall asleep because she had all her stuffed animals on her full size bed and couldn’t find anywhere to sleep. The pile was three feet high. Many are ones she never plays with, so we spent time going through those trying to weed down the pack. After awhile of trying to find ones that can go away, I looked at her. Little Miss, are you trying not to cry? I asked, noticing her pinched expression and glassy eyes. That was all it took to burst into tears.
She has such a hard time letting go of anything that once upon a time meant anything to her. I tried to explain that certain stuffed animals like Snowy who was her first best friend will always stick around. I pointed to the Bugs Bunny she had sitting in her room that was mine from when I was about two years old for an example. I reminded her that I wasn’t forcing her to get rid of any she said she wanted to keep and that she was making the choice. But the hysterical tears continued, so we took a break. When we made it back upstairs to finish going through her room, I noticed that many of the animals that had been in the go pile were once again atop her bed. But the tears at least stopped.
And that’s just one example. I was thinking about it later this afternoon and realized that I don’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. Mister Man has stated very clearly since he was four years old that he wants to be a paleontologist. He knows more about dinosaurs that I ever did – or cared to. And almost six years later, he has yet to waver in his determination, although he is also now considering being a Lego Master Builder and has been for the past couple years. He’s pretty sure he can somehow do both.
Regardless, he decided on a career early. Even in preschool, he told us he wanted to be a special needs math preschool teacher. He’s always had a goal, regardless of what direction he’s heading. Little Miss is far more of a fly by the seat of your pants girl, and I’d never heard her talk about what she wants to be. So I asked her.
And she looked at me blankly. I don’t know, she finally declared. That’s ok, I reassured her. You have plenty of years to figure it out. Is there anything where you’ve ever heard about a job and thought “Wow! That’s cool. That’s what I want to do someday!” or even just really liked it? She shook her head.
After gently poking and prodding a little to make sure I wasn’t missing anything but doing my best not to make her freak out that she didn’t have a career goal in mind at the age of seven, I realized that this is just another aspect of how Little Miss truly is different from her brother. She’s just flying through life and will figure things out later.
Knowing both of them, they’ll be successful at whatever they end up choosing. They know themselves well, and they have very determined personalities with a lot of strengths that will serve them well. But yet they are so different in so many ways. And someday, when I proudly receive a call from one child updating me on the life of the first ever paleontologist Lego Master Builder and another sharing her exploits doing goodness knows what, I won’t be surprised.
What did you want to be when you were little?
Little Miss had her First Communion two weeks ago. As the good mom I am, I have her write out her own (thorough) thank you cards for each gift she receives. Of course, we ran out of thank you cards after the second thank you note because I forgot to check our stock. This is where Minted makes it easy. I know about them for a variety of reasons, since they sell all sorts of stationary from wedding invitations to party decor (for those of us who are less crafty than our ambitions) to my personal favorite, kid stationary.
While I admit that I will frequently use electronic means to send some types of invitations, electronic thank you notes are vertoben. In my mind, if someone has gone through enough trouble to help you celebrate a milestone, choose an appropriate gift, and get it to you, the least you can do is hand write and mail a thank you note that thanks the person not just for the gift but for thinking of you and helping you celebrate, in addition to showing your appreciation for the gift.
So I attended a wedding where there was no DJ. The bride had a custom made wedding dress. It was held at a country club. There was a sit down four course dinner and a fancy cake. But the couple chose to use her iPhone as their DJ. It saved them a ton of money, I’m sure, but … an iPhone is not a DJ. It shouldn’t be a DJ at a wedding at a country club. Backyard barbeque? Of course! Casual wedding on the beach? Sure! Just… not here.
Top 10 Reasons Why An iPhone Is Not A DJ
10. You want people to dance, right? Unless your friends and relatives are all extras on So You Think You Can Dance, you’ll have a relatively empty dance floor. The DJ is the one who gets people out there and moving, excited about the dancing. And, yes, he leads those ubiquitous line dances that everyone claims to hate yet still somehow get people up there moving every time.
9. Welcome first the first time! Mr. and Mrs. X! Wedding parties are traditionally announced to some sort of fun music as they come in at some point during the cocktail hour. No DJ? Well, who’s going to do that for you? In this case, my husband was drafted. And yes, he had a microphone, but there were other issues.
8. Venues aren’t set up for iPhones. Venues don’t have a sound system you can simply plug your iPhone into and have it work over their speakers. Because people don’t do that. DJs have the whole gig, which makes it audible (sometimes too much so!), but the bride and groom never mentioned their plans to the venue, and they never tested the iPhone as DJ concept. The only solution – figured out during the reception – was to plug in a microphone that the venue had and place the mic as close to the iPhone as possible. Needless to say, barely anyone could hear the music.
7. iPhone run on batteries. And when the battery gives out, there goes your DJ. Because yay you found a mic to set near the iPhone, but the mic isn’t near an outlet, and your cord isn’t long enough so you can’t plug it in. Oops.
6. You aren’t a playlist expert. So great, you created a playlist of your favorite songs. But what order do you put them in? How do you mix up the fast and the slow? What if everyone is loving the slow songs and when the fast music comes on, they abandon the dance floor? It’s not easy to adjust your play list on the fly to play what people are responding to the way a good DJ can and will do.
5. Speaking of playlists, what about those Father/Daughter and other special dances? You are still going to do the first dance and the other special dances during the reception at some point, right? Who did you pick for the awkward task of stopping the music at some point during the reception, finding the right song, and starting it up when you want those dances to happen? Trust me, something will go wrong here. Plus, the DJ transitions one song into the next so that there’s no pause or break or silence that gives people a chance to think about leaving the dance floor.
4. That song just isn’t one you dance to. So you love that song. It’s one of your favorites. But oops, it doesn’t really work with those awkward pauses and beat changes. And the rhythm is weird. But you put it on your playlist because you don’t think of these things and didn’t know. That’s another thing a good DJ does. He knows what songs do and don’t work for dancing and weddings and will help you craft a good playlist.
3. Hey, can you play…. Your playlist is set. And it’s limited to the songs you own, which aren’t cheap to buy anyway. Half the fun at weddings is the songs people request (and yes, you set a blacklist of songs or artists that the DJ will not play) and seeing the reaction of people to them. It gets people talking and having fun and more involved in the wedding and dancing. And isn’t that what you want?
2. What was that noise? Yes, I heard that repeatedly that night. Generally, it was in reference to clapping. Because the bride and groom had several songs during the meal, and some even during the dancing portion, that were acoustic versions of songs. You know, where there’s mostly singing and it’s quieter than normal and then it trails off into clapping at the end. Sometimes for 10-20 seconds. It made me giggle, but it really confused a lot of people.
And the number one reason why an iPhone isn’t a DJ for a wedding?
Bring! Bring! Bring! When you get a phone call – or a text an email notification – your phone lets the whole reception know. It stops the music for a few seconds, makes the noise, then restarts the music. I’m pretty sure that isn’t the mood you’re going for at your fancy wedding.
And no. I couldn’t make any of this up if I tried. So please… don’t save your money here. I saved a ton of money on my wedding but went for it in places the guests wouldn’t notice. I made my own centerpieces that were simple but elegant. I didn’t buy many flowers because who remembers the decorations anyway. We made a CD for our favor that was all our special dances and the first 10 songs we played at the reception for each person. I have friends who still listen to that CD today, and it was far cheaper and easier to make those than other favors that people throw away or forget quickly. I spent as little as possible to get a dress I really liked.
But the food and the venue and the DJ? Those I didn’t skimp on, though it’s fine if the food is mediocre – just don’t let it be bad. Oh, and definitely not the open bar (in fact, we spent $3 extra per person to get the premium liquors in our open bar). Besides, you know you can negotiate prices with your vendors, right? Never take the first offer, especially if it’s for an iPhone as your DJ.
My neighbor’s daughter is graduating high school and headed off to Iowa in a few months. At the garage sale I held last weekend, I had more than one mom want to buy kitchen items for her children who were newly graduated and moving out on their own. And they aren’t alone. Fortunately, I have a few years before I’m in that boat. Mine haven’t even graduated elementary school yet – and yes, there is an official graduation ceremony for them.
Thanks to Alissa from Clever Compass who asks this week’s #VlogMom question:
Just because I have a “few” years to go doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about graduation and what it means. For me, the biggest idea in my head around graduation is that the kids have accomplished something huge. They made it on to the next stage in life. And that next stage in life can be hard and brutal.
I was lucky in that I got a job as a management consultant out of college. I had a signing bonus. And my first paycheck was larger than what my mom had ever received in her life. But even so, when I created my first budget to figure out how much I could spend on thing, I was shocked. Life outside the bubble of my parents’ protection was not pretty.
But it’s doable. I did it, and there are so many others who have and did and can and will, too.
Would you believe I never had a baby shower? My friend who was “going” to throw it just… never quite got around to it but had spread the word that she was going to, so no one else did. Let’s just say I’m making sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else I know. I love baby showers, but the last time I threw one, I hand made every invitation and shower favor. Never again. There’s a much easier way that looks so elegant and personal that I’ll never go back. Thank you, Tiny Prints. [Read more...]
So if you have children, you know very clearly that last week was Teacher Appreciation Week. I love that teachers are celebrated, and there are some fun and creative ways to do this. At our school, we perhaps go a little over the top, and each day kids do something. Last Thursday, we were supposed to have each child bring in a flower that would then be made into a bouquet for the teachers.
I remembered this on Monday. And on Tuesday. By Wednesday, I’d forgotten and gone to be early. Thursday morning, I woke up with an email reminder. Tell me I’m not the only one who’s been in this situation.
That’s ok though. We have flowers in our yard that we can snip. I headed outside with the wee ones and scissors.
Unfortunately the deer had eaten our tulips. I headed over to the lilac bushes, because it’s possible that I may have needed to cut some before. This year, the weather in Chicago has not cooperated. There were no lilacs blooming. It’s the week of Mother’s Day, and the lilacs still haven’t bloomed. Uh-oh.
I took a deep breath and kept walking. No roses. But then I spotted them. There were some really cool looking yellow flowers growing under the deck. I smiled and headed towards them.
I walked over and snipped off a branch with several of the yellow flowers and handed one to Little Miss and another branch to Mister Man. We walked around to the front of the house and headed inside. And suddenly, I took a closer look at those flowers. And more importantly, at the leaves.
Oh. My. Word. Suddenly my sleep-addled brain noticed that there were mitten shaped leaves in groups of three. Did I just cut poison ivy growing rampant under my deck? My fingers began to itch in sympathy. See, I’ve never actually had poison ivy before. So I don’t truly, fully recognize it. And I was convinced that I had accidentally cut off poison ivy and was going to give it to the teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. I had the wee ones run and wash their hands and arms with soap really well while I turned to Dr. Google to see if poison ivy flowered.
It’s never good when Google finishes your search before you’ve typed it all in. I sighed, certain that I’d cut poison ivy. I began to scan the images for flowers that looked like what I’d cut then scanning the articles that accompanied them. Every poison ivy “yellow flower” looked more like a berry to me. And the bus was coming, so I had to make a decision.
I finally took a photo of the flowers and texted it to a friend who is good with plants, begging her to reassure me that I was not trying to infect our teachers with poison ivy. And I waited for her to respond. And waited. And I kept searching, finally convincing myself that I think this is jewel wood, not poison ivy.
The wee ones hopped on the bus, with the flowers. And I still hadn’t gotten a text back from my friend confirming that my… shall we call it research? had been accurate.
So teachers, if you felt a little itchy last Thursday, I deeply apologize. I’m about 95% sure that wasn’t poison ivy I sent in for your bouquet. I promise I’m signing up for a gardening class soon.
I love making ice cream – witness my avocado ice cream from a few weeks ago or the peach coconut milk “ice cream” from awhile ago – and now that it’s warming up, I am looking for more excuses to make it. The fact that I had a few mangoes sitting on my counter that were going to overripe soon? Sure, that’s a reason. The fact that I had some Greek yogurt in the fridge that was nearing its expiration date, and Mister Man didn’t like that kind I’d tried? Sold.
And thus, my mango Greek frozen yogurt was born.
It is super quick, just a few ingredients, and oh so tasty. To me, this is what summer tastes like. If only summer would actually arrive in Chicago and stick around.
Mango Greek Frozen Yogurt
1 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt (yes, you can use regular if you want, but it had this incredible tang to it because of the Greek yogurt)
2 mangoes, peeled and lightly chopped
1/2 c sugar
1 T lemon juice
Prepare your ice cream maker, which for me means putting my churning tub into the freezer the day before.
Peel your mangoes, and cut them away from the seed. Chop them into large chunks, just enough that they’ll fit in your blender.
Add the mango, yogurt, sugar, and lemon juice to your blender. Start low then turn up the speed until it’s completely purified and lightened in color.
Place the frozen yogurt base into the fridge to let it chill for a few hours.
Pour the base through a sieve and into your ice cream maker once it has chilled to around 40 degrees. This ensures that any of the pulp from the mango doesn’t make it into your frozen yogurt and give you a funky texture later.
Turn on your ice cream maker. Watch for it to start to set up, which should take less than 10 minutes. Turn off your ice cream maker and scrape the frozen yogurt into a storage container.
Enjoy it soft serve fresh from the ice cream maker, or go ahead and freeze it and enjoy it later. If you freeze it, let it soften at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes so it’s easier to scoop. This will also help bring out the flavors, as you can’t taste as much when it’s frozen solid.
- 1 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
- 2 mangoes, peeled and lightly chopped
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1 T lemon juice
- Prepare your ice cream maker, which for me means putting my churning tub into the freezer the day before.
- Peel your mangoes, and cut them away from the seed. Chop them into large chunks, just enough that they'll fit in your blender.
- Add the mango, yogurt, sugar, and lemon juice to your blender. Start low then turn up the speed until it's completely purified and lightened in color.
- Place the frozen yogurt base into the fridge to let it chill for a few hours.
- Pour the base through a sieve and into your ice cream maker once it has chilled to around 40 degrees. This ensures that any of the pulp from the mango doesn't make it into your frozen yogurt and give you a funky texture later.
- Turn on your ice cream maker. Watch for it to start to set up, which should take less than 10 minutes. Turn off your ice cream maker and scrape the frozen yogurt into a storage container.
- Enjoy it soft serve fresh from the ice cream maker, or go ahead and freeze it and enjoy it later. If you freeze it, let it soften at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes so it's easier to scoop. This will also help bring out the flavors, as you can't taste as much when it's frozen solid.
So you know that I’ve been following the Shaklee program since the beginning of March. And I’ve been “good” for 95% of the time, eating my two Shaklee meals a day, a snack, and a healthy dinner. I’ve pretty much stayed within my calorie allowances, and I’ve shared with you the workouts that I’m doing regularly. Now that the weather is warmer, I’m adding in nightly walks around my neighborhood with the wee ones where they bike and I walk, which adds another 2-3 miles to my daily activity.
Awesome, right? [Read more...]
I’m all about having a cheap wireless plan, preferably also a carrier that offers unlimited plans. The last time I changed my mobile provider, I waited until my contract ended – impatiently. I counted down the months and days starting at almost a year out. For months, I could have told you exactly how many days I had left because I was so done with that plan for a number of reasons.
While I had great reception pretty much everywhere, my phone had died and I was using an old borrowed phone that didn’t work as well as my previous one – but I couldn’t get a new one or I had to sign a new two year contract. I couldn’t text – and to add texting to my plan – for $30 a month for my husband and I, ouch! – I would have extended my contract another two years. My husband had no data, and we couldn’t add that or… yep, we’d extend the contract another two years. And we were paying – with significant employer discounts – almost $130 per month for a limited number of minutes, data for me and that was it.
There has to be a better solution, right? [Read more...]