Friday, March 29, 2013

The Pot of Gold is Right About There....

This picture was taken from our deck the eve of St. Patrick's Day.  How appropriate is that?

Random Friday Facts:

1.  Even though I was a child of the 80s, I never had a Rainbow Bright doll.  Probably because I didn't really like dolls.  I did, however, have a large assortment of plastic animals.

2.  Today starts Spring Break for the boys.  I hope we have some good weather for outside activities next week.

3.  I'm excited to plant things like tomatoes in the garden in a couple of weeks.  I've decided I'm going to try to outsmart those rotten little squash bugs this year by planting all of my squash plants later in the season.  Maybe early June.  I hope this works!

4.  The best part of Spring is the smell of damp earth being warmed by the sun.  I think if they could bottle that up people with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) wouldn't need those sun lamps - they could just take a whiff!

5.  I am starting to have anxiety over Google Reader getting the axe.  I do worry that Blogger will be next.  I've been happy with the Blogger platform and even when they had that big 2 day outage a couple of years ago, I was never tempted to switch.  Change can be good but sometimes it really just stinks.

Linked with Random Friday at A Rural Journal

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Giveaway

In my upper 30s now, I've noticed my teeth have lost some of their whiteness.  I confess that twice now I've used the teeth whitening feature to edit photos of myself.  Embarassing!  Needless to say, I was eager to try the Smile Brilliant teeth whitening program.  This is what they sent me in the mail:
What you do is paint the professional strength whitening gel on your teeth, and then you use the mouthguard so you don't absorb the gel into your lips.  Over that, there is a blue LED light you can use to further the whitening process.  It can be used daily, for 20 minutes to 2 hours at a time. 

I used the teeth whitening kit for 8 days at 20 minutes a day before taking this picture.  I found it easy to use and convenient in the evenings when my kids were in bed and I was reading. The difference after 8 days is definitely noticeable.  I plan to continue using it for another week or two for even more whitening.  I took this picture with no makeup and did not edit it in any way other than to crop it.  That way you would see my teeth completely naturally. 

I think they look so much better than they did, and I bet by the end of another week of treatment they will be fanastic (but without being like when Ross whitened his teeth on Friends, ha ha!). 

The exciting news is that Smile Brilliant is giving away a teeth whitening set to one reader!  Please click on the Rafflecopter to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer:  I was sent a Smile Brilliant teeth whitening set to try for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Learning to Skate

Can you remember learning to skate?

Easier said than done.  Pierce got a pair of rollerskates for Christmas.  He's been wearing them all over the house for days.  We finally got out on some pavement.

He still needs some practice.  But eventually there was less of that and more of this: 

He's getting there!
Yes, he's wearing a swimsuit.  Paul had them out playing in the creek that morning.  In March.  Must've been some cold water! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Should I Wear for My High School Reunion?

So I have that twenty year high school reunion coming up this summer and supposedly there will be an evening that is semiformal.  As you might imagine, I have nothing to wear, unless you count yoga pants.  So I went to Eshakti to check out their cockatil dresses.  I did find one I liked - the Jet Illusion Yoke Jacquard dress.

Paul said it looks vintage when he was taking the pictures, and that is what I liked about it.  I also like that it makes my waist look slender, while covering up belly fat.  It is sleeveless, with a scoopneck. 

The bodice is princess seamed, with an embellished paillette illusion yoke.  I found it comfortable and a good fit.

I'm not sure whether this will be the dress for the reunion, but at least now I have Option A!  Eshakti carries a wide variety of women's fashions (from size 0 - 36W) and you can use custom measurements and change the lengths before you order. 

Disclaimer:  I received this dress from Eshakti for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own.

Monday, March 25, 2013


This is the first spring we have had an outdoor cat.  If you remember, we adopted Willie from Barn Cat Buddies last fall.  I'm totally smitten with Willie and he has done an excellent job keeping rodents out of my minivan all winter - I haven't had a single one since we got him.  He also brings me moles weekly.
(Picture taken through kitchen window)

But every spring we have a bluebird family that lives in this cedar birdhouse on our porch and has babies.  Sure, they tend to dive bomb Cort a lot as he walks across the porch (is it something about his curly hair that makes them want to attack?), but I'm VERY fond of them anyway.


Friday, March 22, 2013


Random Friday:

1.  I guess ya'll wanted to see my haircut or something.  I'm happy with the layering, but she took off more length than I wanted.  I was thinking an inch to an inch in a half.  This is more like 3 inches.  Which means it will take me another year of growing before I can donate it - I'd hoped to be able to donate at the end of the summer.  Oh well.

2.  I planted some early seeds. Cabbage, kale, lettuce, peas, and carrots.  My garlic I planted last year is up.  And my rhubarb is just peeping through the soil.  Fingers crossed my asparagus will return as well.  Exciting stuff.

3.  I have been eating atomic fireballs lately.  I hadn't had them since I was a kid.  For some reason, I've rediscovered them.

4.  It takes me a ridiculously long amount of time to think up 5 random things I want to tell you.  Sometimes it seems harder to write little tidbits about myself than to write a blog post about a single subject.

5.  I'm thinking if I don't bring up selling our house and Paul doesn't bring up selling our house, we just WON'T sell our house.  So far, this tactic seems to be working for us. 

Linked with Random Friday on A Rural Journal. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Getting All Grumpy Cat in the Waiting Room

Last week Pierce complained of a sore throat before bed, and then when he threw up at 4 am I had a feeling it was strep.  He didn't have a temperature when he first woke up, but I made a doctor appointment anyhow, as he was lying in a chair and not bouncing about like normal little boys do. 

When we were in the waiting room at the pediatrician's office, there was a preteen boy (maybe 11 or so) sitting across from us with his mother.  He had a red inflammation all over the left side of his face and looked miserable.  He hunched down in the chair, staring at his feet.  His mother pulled out her iphone and started pointing it at his face.

"Please Mom, no pictures" he pleaded.

She continued to snap away (right up in his face, too), as he once again asked her patiently and pitifully. 

I confess it made me angry.  My face got all Grumpy Cat.  This boy was being calm and respectful in his request.  The poor kid didn't feel well as it was.  Would I want my mom putting pics of me with some gnarly rash all over my face on her Facebook page?  NO.  Who would?!?
Google Image

Why didn't she listen to him?  He was old enough to make his own decisions regarding his pictures.  He was being respectful in his request - but she was being disrespectful to him by not honoring it.  I generally try not to judge other parents - we all have bad days - but in this case I just truly felt bad for this ill boy. 

Should there come a day when one (or all) of my boys asks not to appear on the blog anymore, I plan to respect their privacy.  If it comes to that, all of my pictures will be like this:

As for Pierce - sure enough, it was strep throat.  Thankfully, he is feeling much better now! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Will Be in This Year's Easter Baskets?

I have tried to stay away from the more junky Easter candies in past years (like jelly beans).  The kids seem to get those through school, so I don't feel like they need them in their baskets.  I have tried to choose healthy snacks that are still a special treat to them.  Plus, I do get them each a small chocolate bunny (or I think last year I may have done chocolate chicks).

I made so many pencil cases when I had vertigo, that I thought they would be a neat Easter morning surprise.  I stuffed this Star Wars case with healthy kid friendly snacks from Clif.  Their kid's bars are made with whole grains, are 95% organic, and don't have high fructose corn syrup. 
 After they eat their snacks, they can use the bag to store Star Wars figures.  I know these will be a huge hit, because the boys adore Clif Kid snacks.

Readers, do you do traditional Easter baskets in your house, or do you stray a bit from the norm?  I would love to hear about your plans! 

Disclaimer:  I received snack products from Clif Kid for review purposes.  The opinions in this post are my own. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pineapple Pretzel Fluff

I'm not normally a big fan of anything labeled 'fluff'.  I don't like congealed salads or salads with fruit and marshmallows and such.  But I had this recently at a potluck and fell in love.  So much, that I had to make it at home, too.  It's got that whole salty/sweet thing going on in the most excellent way.
For crust:
1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed pretzel sticks
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar

Mix together crust ingredients and press into 9x13 inch pan, bake at 400* for 7 minutes.

8 oz. cream cheese
12 ounces Cool Whip
1/2 cup sugar
20 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

Whip cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Fold in Cool Whip and pineapple.  Layer on top of (cooled) pretzel crust, and refrigerate.

I used reduced fat cream cheese on this and fat free Cool Whip, and it turned out great.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Not So Smartphone

My cell phone was ancient.  So old I'd replaced the battery in it four times.  And the really great thing was that it was so old that a new battery only cost $4.95....including shipping.  So old, in fact, that the entire Verizon store came over to laugh at my cell phone and poke at it:  "I've never seen one like this before!" when I went to trade it in.  Anyhow, I was sort of okay not having the newest and greatest (particularly since our budget just didn't allow it), however, the day finally came when we needed to consider upgrading.  We have always gotten our internet through a MIFI card which we paid for seperately from our cell phones.  If we cancelled the MIFI card and tethered through our new smartphones for internet, it ended up only costing $10 more a month overall, so we decided to make the change.

What I've discovered is that maybe I'm too old for change.  Just figuring out how to answer my new phone took me several tries.  I kept poking at the green flashing light, expecting it to pick up, and not realizing I had to swipe it.  Somewhere on the phone are pictures from my previous cell phones, but I can't seem to find them anywhere.  And while I've downloaded the Blogger app, it doesn't want to give me the option to sign in.

By far, though, the biggest issue is that the new smartphones don't receive a satellite signal as well as our old MIFI card did.  Which means a lot of time, at home, I can't get online at all.  I have to resort to dragging my laptop into town to check my email (because I'm not crazy about the email app I downloaded - it seems so much easier to do email through my laptop).  A lot of adjustments at once, but I'm sure eventually I'll grow to love it. 

On a positive note, there is one application I've figured out how to use.  I keep returning daily for a beat-down by my sister-in-law in Words with Friends. She's seriously good!  Words with Friends is like Scrabble, for the smartphone.  Would I like to invest hours every day losing to online Scrabble?  Oh, yes, please!  Does anyone have a spare E?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cousin It - I told you so...

It's random Friday.  I've got 5 things to say.

1.  You all didn't believe me when I said I looked like Cousin It.  I wasn't joking.  But you'll have to wait until next week to see my new haircut.  I will say that I didn't chop it all off yet.  Normally I cut off 10 inches every 3 years to donate to Locks of Love.  But I have a 20 year high school reunion this summer (gulp) and I don't want my hair that short for it.  Anyhow, here's my before picture:

2.  Recently Paul let it slip (not sure how we got on the topic) that I drank one Diet Pepsi everyday when I was pregnant with Pierce.  Pierce got so mad at me!  He was all, "BUT I DON'T LIKE SODA!"  When Paul asked him if he could remember when I drank soda when I was pregnant with him, he swore that he did in fact remember, and that he hated it. 

3.  I bought a pair of skinny style 80s jeans on Kohl's clearance for $5.  They are incredibly wild (for me) with black flowers over gray denim.  I totally would've rocked them in high school, but I wasn't sure I could pull them off now.  I got brave enough to wear them out recently, and I got so many compliments that now they rank up there as one of my favorite clothing pieces. 

4.  I saw a red breasted robin last week.  Immediately my winter mood lifted.  Now I know that spring is coming.

5.  Since spring is coming, I planted carrots, lettuce, and pea seeds in the garden.  Looking forward to my own fresh veggies, if all goes well. 

P.S. - If you like the Cousin It hat, it's available for purchase in my Etsy store.  Then you can get your own Cousin It on. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Don't Mess with My Pear

Living in a house with 4 males can have some disadvantages.  You wouldn't believe how quickly a pan of brownies can disappear.  Just when I was counting on one, of course.  All I have to say is...this last pear?  It has my name on it.
A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do - at least if she wants to eat in this house! 

Readers, have you ever stooped to writing your name on your food?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring Frog Pencil Case with Goodies Giveaway

At some point in the midst of my vertigo attack, I got into sewing pencil cases.  This is interesting because I had tossed my sewing machine into a closet in a fit of anger well over a year ago, swearing to never let it see the light of day again.  Apparently, the machine learned it's lesson, because it has been behaving for me on the massive pencil bag production.

I made quite a few pencil case bags in different materials.  Or they could be makeup bags.  I picked this frog one for my giveaway because it seemed appropriate for an Easter basket - a nice non-candy item!  I'm including some Easter pencils and erasers inside.

The inside lining is done in pink. 

Want a chance to win this cute bag with pencils and erasers?  Just click on the Rafflecopter giveaway to enter.  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Is Creativity and Craftiness Genetic?

My recent descent into days of madness crafting left me thinking about the talented women from whom I descended.  On one side of the family, my grandmother and great grandmother had a sewing shop.  I have one of the old machines that they used in their shop.  On the other side of the family, I know my grandmother did some needlepoint, as I have this lovely piece on the vanity stool that accompanies her bedroom set.
And you know I'm a bit of a psychology nerd, so it's only natural as I toil over my sewing machine, grumbling that I should be destined to be able to make it cooperate with me, that I creativity genetic or learned?  The answer, no doubt, is that it must be a little of both. 

My environment growing up, had frequent exposure to craftiness.  My mother always had a sewing room wherever we lived (we moved a lot).  She sewed my prom dresses and even my simple wedding dress.  When Cabbage Patch dolls were all the rage in the early 80s and you had to be wicked lucky to get one, she started crafting dolls that were quite like the Cabbage Patches and selling them in the community.  Whenever I needed a costume for some project at school my Mom was right on top of it. 

Yet I was always a bit of a tomboy, and this craftiness didn't seem to reach my not-for-your-life-are-we-gonna-knit-fingers.  I did like working with clay some, dabbling a bit in creating small clay magnet animals for the fridge.  I tried cross stitching, which mostly made me mad, as I didn't have much patience for when I messed up, which was very, very frequently. 

I think that I got the creativity genes from my female ancestors intact, they just seem to have manifested themselves slightly differently.  Sure, I seem to have random bursts of craftiness, with small art projects with the boys or more recently with all these tiny (and odd, to me) sewing projects.  Mostly, though, I think my genes (which I imagine to be jumping up and down as I write this, and tweeting in excitement like little zebra finches) have decided that instead of doll crafting or painting or pottery, they would much 

What do you think, readers?  Where do you get your creativity? 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Teaching My 3 Year Old to Write His Name....FAIL

A few months ago I picked up some wipe erase boards in the Target dollar bins to start the twins working on writing their names.  The erase boards already have the lines neatly done on one side (and the other side is blank). 

Usually I will make a bunch of dotted C's and R's for Cort and Reid to practice on.  Sometimes I will just do the full names in dots for them to trace.  On this particular day, apparently Cort decided to boycott the name writing and go straight for portraiture.

 I was surprised to see that Cort had drawn the whole family (except himself).  Far left is me (note my long hair) then Paul, Reid, and Pierce is the small red character riding our dog Scooter.  I'm not quite sure why Pierce is riding our dog, as I've never seen him do that in real life.

Cort then erased his picture and said he would work on his name.  Only when I looked over next, I saw he was back to drawing.
I asked who the two figures were, guessing maybe it was a picture of Paul and Cort.  His response surprised me.  "It's God and Jesus".  How can you not smile over that one?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Finding Normal. Or Whatever.

My friend Nancy at A Rural Journal started a new Friday meme where you list 5 random facts about...whatever.  So I thought I'd link up to support her.  Plus, it makes for an easy post, and I haven't been feeling very witty lately.

1.  I finally finished the course of steroids for this inner ear situation which caused the vertigo.  While I still feel the earth shakes a bit if I turn my head, overall I feel much better.  Thanks to all of you who checked up on me! 

2.  Two things that helped the vertigo were the very unattractive Sea-Bands, which put pressure on an acupuncture point of the wrist, and herbal mandarin orange tea with a splash of orange Stevia.  When I went to Urgent Care, they told me to drink lots of hot fluids, and for whatever reason it really seemed to help. 

3.  This cute mug is from my blogging friend Diane at DISH.  Somehow herbal tea tastes better in this mug, than in a plain mug.  I'm not normally a hot herbal tea drinker. 

4.  I'm getting my first haircut in nine months tomorrow.  It's way overdue.  I look like Cousin It.  No, really.  Maybe I'll even post a picture. 

5.  I had to get a TB test for my new job this week.  I took the twins, and Reid completely freaked out.  He sobbed and sobbed and begged the nurse to stop - that she was hurting me.  Even though I reassured him I was fine.  Then he wanted her to put a bandaid on, but of course you're supposed to leave that little bubble alone and not touch it.  Reid cried the whole way home.  It was sweet.  Although now I'm thinking he may have a needle phobia...

Go link up with Nancy if you feel inclined:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I'm Employed, Partly

Last week I went to fill out some more paperwork for the part time job (I am officially hired now) and my Dad came to watch the boys.  Pierce had a two hour school delay due to ice (but was glad he still got to go to school, since it was stripes day and he was sporting his Where's Waldo costume).

Pop Pop showed up at around 7 am and was immediately tackled by some enthusiastic kids.  They made him read this Thomas the train book about 40 times in a row before I even left. 
As for the job, they already have a case for me, which sounds like a good match if I can work out the hours with the client so that we're meeting when the twins are in preschool, or later in the evenings after Paul is home.  I'm excited to be making a difference in the community again, and will only be working around 9-12 hours a week for now, so it shouldn't detract much from family life.  In case you missed it before, I'll be providing emotional support and assisting those in the community that have difficulties due to mental health issues.  I will only be working with one or two people at a time and I may work with the same client for over a year.  I'm thankful to have found something that has flexible hours, is part time, and uses my background.  Because I've been playing the lottery for a few years now, and somehow, it just doesn't seem to be working out for me....

What about you, readers?  What kind of job fits your personality best?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ginger Molasses Cookie Recipe

The other evening Pierce was doing his reading homework.  He is supposed to read for 20 minutes each night.  I had started him on Little House on the Prairie as I worked on dinner.  A few minutes into it, he asked me to clarify a word.  I looked over and said, "molasses", which was what Laura and Mary were eating on their bread.  Pierce said, "What's molasses?"  I was surprised Pierce didn't know what molasses was, since I use it now and then in cooking.  I got out the bottle for him to smell, and then promised to make him some cookies after dinner, so he could taste it. 

I made this recipe from my Baylor cookbook and was so pleased by how soft and spicy these cookies were.  Definitely a cookie recipe I'll need to repeat!

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Beat shortening, sugar, egg and molasses.  Add in dry ingredients and mix well.  Chill for 1+ hour.  Roll into 1 inch balls, roll in sugar.  Bake at 350* for 10 minutes.
I'm guessing that molasses on bread a la Little House can't compare to these amazing cookies! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Square Peg Book Review

Once in a while TLC Books contacts me about reviewing a book because they know I enjoy anything focused on neuropsychology.  When I was an undergrad at Baylor, my favorite class was neuroscience, and when I was working on my masters degree I focused on neuropsychology classes, and did my thesis in that area as well.  I love to keep up with new trends in the field, and appreciate the opportunity to read new books that come out.

Square Peg - My Story and What It Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers, by L. Todd Rose, is one such book.  However, don't be scared if just the term neuropsychology intimidates you - this book is written to appeal to the average reader.  The book is partially memoir - Todd Rose was the type of kid that struggled immensely in school.  He acted out so much that he was often suspended, and his mother lost friends because of his behavior.  Eventually, his lack of impulse control and overall frustration resulted in him dropping out of school.

Todd Rose was diagnosed with ADHD, and he feels like in some ways the education system failed him.  Part of the purpose of Rose's book is to make suggestions of ways the system needs to change to better accomodate all styles of learning.  Rose backs up his suggestions with a wide variety of statistics and scientific studies, which I found fascinating.  He explains these studies in simple terms, that the average reader will have no difficulty in comprehending.  In addition, at the end of each chaper he summarizes with 'Big Ideas' that have been covered, along with 'Action Items' - things you can do to help make positive changes in the life of someone you know who might be struggling in school or at home.

By far, my favorite section of the book was towards the end, when Rose writes of changes in technology that may help future students with learning differences to be more successful.  The potential for positive change is impressive, and while there may be a balancing act along the way (to make sure that schools don't overuse technology in lieu of student/teacher interactions and group work), it warmed my heart to know that years from now there may not be as many troubled and frustrated students in school. 

In case you're wondering, the story also has a happy ending for Todd Rose.  Against the odds, he today he is a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he teaches educational neuroscience. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Leaping Leprechauns - Giveaway

As my world turns, I continue with the crafting.  I sure do miss running.  I've never had vertigo last so long.  Incredibly frustrating.  I was surprised to hear that so many of you have experienced vertigo as well.  I definitely wouldn't wish it on anyone.

So with St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I have crafted a set of little leprechauns. 
Cute, aren't they?  Kind of look like they could get up to some mischief in your house though.  If you're willing to take the risk of having this duo in your home, click on the Rafflecopter - maybe you could be LUCKY enough to win them! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pattern for these, if you'd like to make your own, can be found at Wee Folk Art. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

A State of Confusion

Pierce has an inexpensive rug of the 50 states in his bedroom.  He begged for this last summer, and I broke down and bought it, figuring it would be educational.  It took me this long to notice something awry.  Can you guess what it is?
Okay, I'll give you a hint.  What type of butterfly do you suppose that is on the state of Virginia?  If anything, I guess it looks kind of monarch-ish.  Now while West Virginia's state butterfly is the monarch, Virginia's state butterfly is the tiger swallowtail.  Go ahead and google the tiger swallowtail if you'd like.  I'll wait.  Hmmm, yes, this looks nothing like the tiger swallowtail does it?  Then again, check out North Carolina.  That doesn't exactly look like a Wright brothers airplane - which is what I suspect it is supposed to be. 

The moral of the story is:  rugs don't make a good educational investment.  Now you know.