Saturday, July 24, 2010

Days of Play--Play Ball!

Play with balls increases hand-eye coordination, attentions span, and gross motor skills (that's what she said).

Take some time today to play ball with your child.

For a baby:
Roll a ball back and forth between baby's legs and yours.

For a toddler:
Sit at the bottom of some stairs.  Throw a soft bouncy ball up the stairs and let it bounce down to you.

For Pre-schoolers:
Time for T-Ball!  Get out a T-ball stand, ball and soft bat.  Let your child practice hitting the ball or catching while you hit it.

For school aged children:
Play a game of catch, soccer, kickball, or basketball.

For tweens and older:
Challenge your children to a game of pool, golf, volleyball, or bocce ball.

Your children will thank you for this!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Date Night In--Puzzle Mania

I don't want to get all "Ross Gellar" on you but doing a good puzzle can be big fun!  Plus,
one puzzle
good food
good company
Simple and romantic date night in

Here's what you'll need:
  • Some finger foods (click here for some quick and simple tapas ideas).  Don't forget a few sweets.
  • Something to drink--red wine, sweet tea--your call
  • A good puzzle--try a 3D puzzle or something with a beach scene (that way you can dream about a beach vacation while you work)
  • candlelight
  • soft background music
  • a flat surface
What to do:
  1. Get the kids in bed (If your kids are too old to go to bed early, set them up with a movie and popcorn in their room or arrange for them to stay at a friend's house).
  2. Put a spread of food and drinks on the edges of the table.
  3. Get the puzzle out.
  4. Get to work!
  5. Visit while you work about anything but the kids :)


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Things I Love--Robert Downey Jr.

When my sister and I were kids we would "call" things and that would make them "ours."  For example, "I call I get to be Punky Bruster," "I call the pink flying dog in The Never Ending Story," or "I call Rick Schroder."  Did you do this?

I've loved Robert Downey, Jr.  since the first time I saw the movie Heart and Souls (ya, I didn't see Johnny B. Good until I was older). Trust me, you need to watch this clip. It's a life changer.

The celeb crush continued when he showed up as a new resident in my fave quirky show Ally McBeal.

Of course now he's uber famous for Sherlock Holmes and Tony Stark (aka Iron Man).

I admire that Robert Downey Jr. has overcome a life of trouble and addiction.  I think he's a pretty darn good actor (considering the pool, anyhow), an amazing singer (check out his CD "The Futurist"), and so much better looking than that "other" Robert.

Yes, him

Anyhow, for some gals, it's Pattinson or Lautner.  For others it's Pitt or Clooney.  You can have 'em ladies because I call Robert Downey, Jr.  

And I just thought you should know.

**FYI--"love" is a strong word here.  I love Downey Jr. like I love my pots and pans.  I really only LOVE--in a romantic sense--My Matthew!**

And you're welcome for the eye candy (I thought you could use it following yesterday's heavy post).

Who do you "call"?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What I Think About--Losing My Mom

If I believed in nirvana, hot showers would be my nirvana.  I take a long, hot shower every night after P90X (if it helps, I generally feel guilty about the length when I remember that 1.1 billion people have no access to adequate water supplies).  Showers are my "me" time.  My prayer time. My "wash away the day" time.  Tonight I was standing in the hot water stream when a memory hit me.

It was July 7, 1993.  My maternal grandmother died three days before and I was now standing next to my dad in the Catholic church where services were being held.  He was crying.  My dad--a gun toting, Rush Limbaugh listening, pro-hunter, blue collar, rough-n-tumble, manly man was crying.  It was an unnerving sight.  Later that day he told me he'd cried because he had never realized how alone he would feel after losing his parents.  Despite his wife, and children, and brothers--he felt alone.

I burst into tears at the memory.  Standing there in the hot water, I just cried because now I know exactly what he means.  And to be honest, I feel like I've gotten ripped off.  He was forty-six when his mom died.  I'm 31.  His mom was upbeat and as healthy as can be expected (and watching Young and the Restless) up until three days before her death. I've been slowly losing my mom for a couple of years.

My mom is not dead.  She is dying.  S  l   o  w  l  y.  And it is heart breaking.

You see, when I envisioned my grown-up life it always included her.  I imaged her giving me parenting advice and waking up super early on Saturday morning to watch cartoons with my kids.  I envisioned family vacations to Alaska and Griswold-like Christmases (but with an awesome turkey because the woman can cook).  What is hard to come to grips with is that these visions will only be visions.  The nature of her disease makes her paranoid so I can't really ask her advice on relationship issues without upsetting her.  Her lack of memory function has denied me the ability to ask her parenting advice.  Her medicine makes her very tired so getting up early is really not an option.  Holidays are spent somewhat joyfully but somewhat sadly as we all wonder if this one is the last one with mom.

Do you see where I'm going here?  I feel like I've already lost my mom.  I know that might sound selfish given that she is still physically on earth but everything that encompasses "mom-ness"--those precious memories, and inside jokes, and mother/daughter dynamics have changed.  I wasn't ready for it.  I'm not ready for it.

Realistically I know I'm not alone. I know some of my dear readers have lost a parent.  My sister is losing mom.  My kids may never have a firm memory of "Grammy."  My dad is losing his best friend of 41 years (and this is NOT how they planned on spending their retirement). I'm not alone but I feel alone.
Right now Jan Arden lyrics are running through my head.
Nobody knows me, no one will ever see
The distance between what is and what will never be
A bird will break his wings
Like a heart will cut her strings
And there isn't anything to comfort me
What I think is that losing my mom before I've lost her is nearly unbearable.  I'd appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

To Do Tuesday--Be A Time Management Junkie #4

So it has been a while since I've visited my time management junkie tips.  Previously I've discussed priority lists, decluttering, and my personal favorite--organizing.

Time Management Junkie skill #4 is Meal Planning.

Meal planning can be pretty daunting at first but relax; it's not that bad!  I generally do Once a Month Cooking (OAMC) for dinner meals BUT I still use a meal plan so I know what food to defrost, etc.  In addition, I meal plan breakfast and lunch so there is never any food time guess work or last minute trips to the store for a "must" have ingredient at my house.

First, let me discuss some benefits of meal planning.  Meal plans mean you'll be:

  • Eating out less often and eating pre-packed meals less (this means you'll be eating healthier!)
  • taking fewer trips to the grocery store and ALWAYS having the groceries you need (no frustration or $50 "impulse" buys)
  • throwing away less produce (you'll use the broccoli you buy if it's on the list--this is a HUGE money saver!)
  • enjoying meal variety (no reverting to college quick food days of tacos, sloppy joes, and spaghetti)
  • Less stressed.  You will never have to freak out at 5:00 because you have NO IDEA what's for dinner.
Sounds pretty good, eh?
So how do you meal plan?  Follow these steps.
Step #1--Planning
  • Start with just one mealtime a week (dinner) and gradually work up to planning breakfast/lunch/dinner.  If you over plan at first you'll go crazy!
  • Plan a 6 meal week (which leaves wiggle room for left overs or eating out).  
  • Find 6 dinner recipes you'll want to use for your dinners.
  • Get out a calendar and write down the tentative order of what you'll be eating (as a reminder to you and to stave off the annoying "what's for dinner?" questions).
Step #2 --Shopping list
  • Look through each recipe one at a time and compare ingredients to your pantry to see what ingredients you have and which you'll need to purchase. 
  • ONLY write down ingredients you need (and the general necessities like milk, bread, and eggs).
Step #3--Shopping
  • Grab your coupons and go shopping.
  • Only buy what is on your list.  No impulse shopping (unless there is an amazing sale like chicken breasts on sale for 1.50 a pound, etc.)
Step #4--Cookin' it up
  • This is the best part!  When it's time for dinner, gather the ingredients (you know, the ones that you definitely have on hand), whip up a delicious and healthy meal, and sit down for a quality meal that cost less!
And really, that's it!  As you get more advanced you can start planning for breakfast and lunch too.  If this still sounds like too much work there are TONS of blogs (including mine) that offer meal plans.  Some more advanced blogs come complete with meal plans that have recipes and photos.  This is one of my favorites!

Happy meal planning!

If you want to catch up on some of my little time management tricks, please click the links below.

How to Become a Time Management Junkie
TMJ #1--Priority List
TMJ #2--Declutter
TMJ #3--Organize

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Outfit-Your Words--It's a Scarf Thing!

Okay.  So here's the deal.  I have a bit of a scarf thing.  

I like them long and short (that's what she said).  I love woven and knit.  I love color and neutrals, prints and solids, fringe and no fringe.  What can I say? Scarfs are a practical and versatile accessory.  

Anyhow, I've been crushing on a particular scarf from Gap (you can see it in a post by clicking here).  Last weekend my hubby and I had a romantic getaway to Estes Park and on the way meandered through a Gap.  Guess what?  My scarf was there and on sale for $8!  Needless to say I bought it.

Anyhow, it was a chilly sort of evening in Estes so when Matt and I went to the river walk I paired my scarf with a pair of cuffed skinny jeans, a long sleeved T, and a pair of sandals (dressing up a long sleeved T is one of my fave looks).  Cool, comfy, and casual.  

The next day I rocked my orange scarf (you've seen it here).  I wore it with a navy, deep V neck t-shrit, some cuffed boyfriend shorts and a linen coat.

Two scarves in two days? I know-- I'm obsessive.

Here's where it gets REALLY bad.  Last Wednesday this is the outfit my little girl put together. 

Ruffled dress with a brown and gold scarf.  I gotta tell ya, as a mom I was pretty stoked about this outfit.  I mean the shimmery gold in the scarf just brought out the coral dress.  *Sigh*  M.E.'s living proof that you can have a sweet and compassionate heart AND be a fashionista!

She even double wrapped it and tied it--just like momma!

Oh man, she's the sweetest thing ever!

What's the closet staple you can't live without?