Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Have you met Pinypon yet?

We were so excited to get a huge box in the mail a few weeks ago.  Inside the box was all the stuff a 4 year old girl would ever dream of.  The contents of our box held the materials needed to host our very own Pinypon party.
We had never seen Pinypon before, but boy did this make my little girl happy.  We decided to have a Pinypon party right away.  We invited our favorite girls over to celebrate a birthday and of course the introduction of her friends to the Pinypon people.
The Pinypons are very similar to Polly Pockets, except in my opinion, they are much cuter.  They are also bigger than polly pockets so they will be easier for a younger child to play with.  The accessories are very small, but the Pinypon themselves are a nice size.
Each of our guests got to bring home their own Pinypon character along with the usual little girl stuff in a goody bag, mini nail polish, rings, and of course some chocolate.
We had a very happy group of girls at our Pinypon party, especially the two winners of the big prizes!
One winner received a Nenuco Bubble Making Doll, so realistic looking!
And another winner received a Pinypon Caravan set.
If you have a little girl in the 3-6 year old age range and you are not sure what to get her, check out the Pinypon toys sold at Toys R Us and many other online toy stores.  My daughter loved the characters themselves.  She also loved to load up her caravan and drive it over to her dollhouse.  The caravan is well made and comes with many cute things including surf boards, and a shower for the pinypons.  The accessories that come with the Pinypons have kept my daughter enjoying the play aspect for a very long time.
If you are interested in learning more about Pinypon please visit them on
Follow them on Twitter

I was invited by Mom Select to host a Pinypon party.  I was not compensated for this post, but I was provided with Pinypon prizes to give to our party guests.  All opinions included in this post are my own.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Healthy Cookies

We feel lucky to have survived Hurricane Sandy unscathed. The worst damage we had was to my finger.  During the storm while peeling an apple I sliced off the top of my finger.  I feel quite lucky that this was the only damage we had.
My kids love sweets. What kid does not? They really love a small treat after dinner so today I made a healthy cookie.  No added sugar. No junk.  A sweet treat that tastes great and satisfies the sweet tooth while being quite healthy at the same time.
Here are your ingredients. Feel free to experiment!
You can make these cookies gluten free and they are naturally vegan as well.  
Healthy Cookies
1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats. Bob's Red Mill makes awesome oats!
1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 large banana or 2 small bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If your bananas are not very soft, you should mash those up really well first, then add the applesauce, and finally the rest of your ingredients.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies.
Eat with a nice glass of milk or almond coconut milk.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Here Comes the Boom Real Parents Movie Review

Here Comes the Boom is a comedy, rated PG, about a disenchanted teacher (Kevin James) who found inspiration from a talented and dedicated music teacher (Henry Winkler).  Kevin James decided to help Henry Winkler save his music program from the recent budget cuts.  Kevin James needed to raise a significant amount of money and figured out that his best chance was to enter a MMA fight. After watching a MMA fight on TV, he decided he could make a bunch of money simply by losing. This led to him having one of his adult students (Niko from a Citizenship class he taught at night) agree to be his trainer (played by legendary MMA fighter Bas Rutten, who absolutely stole the movie).  Niko took him on as a student and got him fights at small local shows.  You can obviously see where the movie heads to, but the way they got there was funny and touching.  Was this movie predictable? Yes, it was. Does this movie take elements from other fighting movies? Yes, it has elements from Rocky and Karate Kid. Yet, we all still enjoyed it.  It was funny throughout.  There are a bunch of great characters and actors including Henry Winkler and Salma Hayek.  Many famous MMA fighters have tiny roles, and it was fun to recognize them (Shoutout to Mayhem Miller).  The end of the movie even had a few really touching moments. 

Disclosure #1:  From my DH:  I have to admit - I am a MMA fan and watch UFC regularly which may be why the fight scenes didn't bother me at all.  If you have never seen an MMA fight you might want to catch a few minutes of one before heading out to see this movie.  Other than that, there is really nothing to find objectionable at all about this film.  There is very little cursing that we can remember and absolutely no sex at all. We took two 14 year old boys to this movie and they both loved it. They both found this movie to be hilarious and they sat through it twice in two days.
If you liked Paul Blart - Mall Cop you will probably also like this movie as well.  We loved Kevin James in King of Queens and he was just as hilarious in this movie as he was on that show.  This is a fun movie that you will enjoy seeing and will laugh about afterwards.
Disclosure #2: We won passes to attend two screenings of this movie.  All parts of this review are our own thoughts and ideas and we were not at all influenced by the grouchy reviewers who were sitting in front of us discussing how many minutes the movie would be and how much they were dreading being there.  Do not listen to the negative reviews and give this movie a chance!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Get Unreal!

Candy Season is upon us.
You will be required to buy candy in a few more weeks.
Don't you want to buy candy that is missing all that junk?
Get Unreal candy has done the hard work for you.
They have come up with 5 flavors that taste just as good as the candy bars you had as a child, but free from the junk you no longer want to feed your family!
Do you have a few minutes to watch a cute video?  Lots of people have discovered Get Unreal candy, so check them out!

Let's take a minute and look at a bag of Peanut M&Ms.  A small 49 gram bag has 250 calories and 25 grams of sugar! The rest of the stats on your favorite peanut M&Ms are 30 carb and 13 grams of fat.
Now I would like you to met Unreal #54. A rival to the Peanut M&Ms.
Unreal #54 is a 42 gram serving, the perfect size for small hands.
Unreal #54 has only 200 calories, 16 grams of sugar, 11grams of fat, and 20g of carbs.

Most importantly the ingredients on the Unreal line are clean!
No corn syrup
No Partially Hydrogenated Oils
No Artificial Ingredients
No Preservatives
and a low glycemic index.
Candy is not served very often in my house, but if I am going to serve my kids some candy, it will definitely be UNREAL

We tasted all the Get Unreal candy options and they all taste amazing.  We really did prefer them to regular candy bars.  My teen boys said these bars were much better than regular candy and filled them up for a long time!  I loved that we were eating less junk and cleaner ingredients.  Try it for yourself. If you see me out and about, I might just have a bar for you to try.

Disclosure: I was invited to host a GetUnreal party and to learn more about the Get Unreal mission and brand.  I was provided product to sample, take home, and give away to friends and family.  The opinions expressed above are my own.  We had a really fun party where we tasted all the different UNREAL candy and put them up against the well known M&Ms Snickers, etc... The Unreal candy won by a landslide.  You can make up your own mind about this product by purchasing a bar at CVS or Michaels.  Additional retailers to launch soon. Check out the Get Unreal website for product information.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chevy Volt Electric Car for our Family??

My husband got a mailer all about the Chevy Volt.  Very nice I told him.  A few days later he said he was going to go look at the Volt.  Really? A four person car for our 7 member family?
Yes, he said. It would be a great car for when we are just a small group.
So he visited the Volt a few times and I still was not sold.
The car is way too small I repeated.
But since this would be my husbands car I told him fine.  You want it, you can get it.

So now we are proud leasers of a new Chevy Volt.
The first few weeks I really hated the car.
It smiled at me and then started to grow on me a bit.
I started to love some things about it.
*No gas to pay for.  With prices hovering in the $4 a gallon mark, I did not miss filling up my car as often.  Each charge will get you about 36-38 miles of driving without needing to plug in again.  There is a small gas tank as a back up if you are going on a longer drive.  I am proud to say we have gone almost 500 miles and not used even .1 of gas, woohoo!  This picture is hard to see but it says 478 miles and 0.0 of gas. I love this!

*Smaller groups are quieter to drive around than larger ones. :)
*Onstar for the life of the lease. Onstar is awesome!
*XM Radio with a way of rewinding a song.  Can you say Call Me Maybe played over and over again while driving to preschool? Maybe this should be a negative.

*Easy to park, I have only driven big cars for years now and this car is really easy to park!
*Speedy little thing.  You barely step on the pedal and woosh you are off!  Careful though, you do not want to get a speed camera ticket.
*Quiet.  This car is sooooo quiet.  You turn it on and you can barely tell it is on.  Sometimes people will stand next to the car and not realize I am trying to drive away.  There is a teeny horn that you can use to alert pedestrians that you are moving. Smart Chevy Volt designers!
*Great NAV system and console area. Easy to figure out and use.
*Race car feel says my 4 year old. She only wants to go to school in her race car.
*Last positive is a very comfortable seat for each person. Bucket seats all around. A real improvement from the minivan days.

*Remembering to plug it in.  Sometimes you just do not remember that extra little step.
*You cannot fit as much in the trunk as you can in the minivan.  I buy a lot at the store and need a way to bring it home.
*You try to plan your trip to be in the under 40 mile mark, so that you will get back home before you need to charge it.
*There are not that many charging stations YET. We do have a few, but not at every store we go to.

Macy's Spelling Bee

Is your 8-11 year old a great S-P-E-L-L-E-R?
Do you live near:

*Houston TX
*Aventura FL
*Coral Springs FL
*Orlando FL
*San Diego CA

If the answer is yes, you are in luck! Tomorrow, Macy's is sponsoring a spelling bee with truly amazing prizes.  Would your child like to win an Ipad 3? What about a $100 Macys gift card? A year's worth of online tutoring from Kaplan?  Or maybe the online gift card from Scholastic is what they would love to win.
Get there early to line up and sign in.  Watch Twitter for live tweets and follow #MacysBee for updates throughout the day.
We had the opportunity to interview a number of this year's contestants from around the country.
The contestants gave us lots of advice and suggestions.
Many of the kids who try out really love spelling.  They enjoy spelling games, get quizzed on spelling words at meals, and practice spelling lists during their free time.  Some contestants are really serious about this.  Other kids we met just were walking by and thought this looked like fun.  The best tip we learned is that you can use your entry number as a piece of paper and you can practice "writing" the word on your "paper" with your finger.  The kids said this way of visualizing a word can really help them.  What a great tip!

The Macy's Spelling Bee has some incredible sponsors including:

*Reading is Fundamental
*Kaplan Kids

*Radio Disney

Even if your child does not fit the age range, it is really fun to meet the contestants and cheer them on.  It is inspiring to hear their stories, and watch them spell words under pressure.
Some fun websites to practice spelling that my kids enjoy are:
and finally this website has a really cool way to practice your weekly spelling words!

Good luck to all the spellers this weekend!

Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Spelling Bee.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.  I have two amazing spellers in my house and one day I hope to be able to watch one of them win a spelling bee!

Anyone else concerned about Halo?

I just got my latest Cravebox in the mail yesterday and most of the items were really fun.  The theme this month was "back to school".  The pens and pencils were really awesome.  So were the cute tissues.  But one item in the box really concerned me.

Have you seen this product before?
Halo Germ Defense.
Like I would with any food I plan to eat I looked at the box carefully.
What did the cover say to me? It looked to me like a little girl was spraying this product into her mouth on this box.  Hmmmm, keep reading. I turn the box once to the right.  The box tells me I should use Halo when I am exposed to airborne germs, and they suggest that these airborne germs are found in:
*and restaurants.

I turned the box over to the back side.  Active ingredient is: Cetylpyridinium Chloride.  WHAT? That does not sound good to me.  And yes, you are supposed to spray this product three times into the oral cavity( I am guessing they could easily have said mouth here)  allow the medicine to spread through the mouth, then swallow.
Next step for me was to google  Cetylpyridinium Chloride. Here is the wiki page for this ingredient.  Scroll down a bit and it says "It is toxic when swallowed or inhaled".
So now lets go back to the cover picture. To me, that looked like a little girl.  She would be going to school and I would want to protect my little girl from all the terrible germs in the air.  But WAIT!  The back of the box says this product is only for adults and children 12 years of age or older and it says Children under 2 should consult a dentist or physician.

There are so many things that scare me about this product.  And if you know me, I am a huge germaphobe who must ask the kids 100 times a day, have you washed your hands recently??

I googled "Halo germ Defense Concerns" and I got nothing.
I am the only person worried about this product?
Forget about the main ingredient of Cetylpyridinium Chloride for a minute.  Lets look at the inactive ingredients that are included:
flavor, yeah, what is that?
hydrogenated castor oil
sodium benzoate
sodium saccharin
xantham gum

My google search gave me very little so I went to the Halo Facebook Page. Here I found lots of, save yourself from germs, use our product posts.  I also saw lots of people posting that they got the Halo product in a goody bag, at Blogher, or as a sample and they just loved it.  Other people posted that they were going to use it everyday.  These posts scared me even more.

Any scientists here who can explain this product to me, and tell me why it is safe?
If not, I will be keeping my oral cavity clean and free of Halo, and probably getting sick as soon as my kids bring home the next germs from school.

4 weeks of school

Is it possible that we have almost 4 weeks of school behind us?
It really has flown by.
Sure we have had some tough days, weeks even.
Our Sunday plans were recently ruined by illness and the depressing too much homework disease.
But overall we have mostly survived the first 4 weeks of school.
Good job kids!

Before school started I had really big plans for how I would be spending my days.  My youngest is now in a full day program.  That means I am usually home by myself from 9-2:30 every day.  I thought wow, I will be getting so much accomplished!  Yeah right. Funny one.
Somehow I have been busier than ever the past 4 weeks, accomplishing very little.
The other assumption I made was that my little girl of 4 years old would be so tired from an 8 hour day of school that she would be going to bed much earlier.  HAHA she said.  Since school started she is going to bed a bit later than usual.

I guess the lesson I learn from this is, never try to figure things out in advance.  Always go with the flow.  Play things by ear.  Enjoy each day as they come and do not try to make too many plans in advance.  All that free time I thought I would have is consumed by helping in the kids schools, helping with homework, shopping, doing dishes, taking people where they need to be, and occasionally finding time to post on my blog.

I hope you have enjoyed your first 4 weeks of school!!
One last thing.
I think I forgot to post a video that I made with my oldest son.
We were asked to make a video with back to school tips for teens.  HP and Walmart sponsored our video.  The outtakes from this video were hilarious.  Our bird was flying around, then refused to get off the top of the fan, and different kids were crying, all while trying to shoot the video. Diane wanted to be in the video, then not be in the video.  It was really a lot of fun ;).  I should make videos with the teens more often, it sure does keep them quiet as soon as the camera starts to roll.
Anyway, if you want to see our video, here it is:

Only 3 Ingredient Dessert

Sometimes I get so busy making a nice dinner that I run out of time for a nice dessert.  I do not serve dessert very often, but when I do, I want it to be healthy, and be ready in minutes.

I have the easiest dessert ever for you.

One problem though with this dessert. You need to buy one ingredient at Trader Joes.  TJs, as we call it around here, is one of my favorite stores. They have so many great products, with healthy ingredients, and at a great price. What more can shoppers ask for?

Last week while shopping, I noticed a new dessert mix.  It was called the Blondie Bar Baking mix.  I then looked at the preparation instructions.  Add in one egg and one stick of butter.  Seriously, one stick of butter? No way, no how.  I think I use one whole stick of butter in about 5 months in my house.  I knew I could make this mix better, so I still bought it with the intention of making it my way.
I tried a few different combos with healthier ingredients.  But the best combo by far was easy.  Put the Blondie Bar mix in a bowl, then stir in one egg (you can easily sub in egg beaters or a flax or chia egg here) and 1/2 cup of apple sauce.  That is it! Stir it just till blended and then put in a well sprayed 8x8 pan.  I made this in my toaster oven and it was ready in 26 minutes.

This is what it looked like before baking.
There is no photo of the after blondie bars because they were almost all eaten up.  All the kids loved them.  No complaints means a successful dessert.  No one said these tasted healthy and the proof is in the empty pan.

Leave me a comment if you have an easy and healthy dessert you like to make for you family.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First day of JK

Yesterday was the first day of JK. And by JK I do not mean just kidding. It was the first day of Junior Kindergarten.  My baby is now in school all day. I know we chose the right school for her and I know she will be happy.  But wow, it is hard on ME!
I could not sleep the night before the first day. I tossed and turned and could not believe my baby was old enough to be away from me all day long.  She is more than ready, but I do not feel ready.

She woke up, got dressed and ready to go. She literally could not wait to leave.  I have one picture from her first day of school and here it is.
The look on her face describes it all.  Mom, stop taking pictures and take me to school!!
We dropped off her brothers and went to her new school.  We were the first ones to arrive and she listened where she should put her lunch, her backpack, and she ran in to start working.  I stood at the door, hoping I would not start crying and I said, Can I have a kiss goodbye?  NO she answered, I am working here, no go home and do your work.  I walked away.  Tears flowing down my face.  Why should I be so sad? I have raised an independent, happy, bossy little girl who could care less she is starting a brand new school.  She was so happy to be there.  She did not need one more kiss, or to hold my hand any longer.  My baby is all grown up.

The director of our new school was so awesome and responded right away to my email I sent asking, how is my little girl doing? Of course she was fine and was acting like she had been there her whole life.  I even got a picture in the afternoon.  My happy girl in a circle playing the name game.  She was fine, thriving, growing up and blossoming. And late last night we got a Smilebox video.  45 pictures showing us everything they did on their first day.  We watched and rewatched the video this morning, showing me friends, Spanish, PE and the playground.  This video allowed me to feel like I had been there on the first day.  Awesome!

I sit here on day #2 and reflect.  While I am typing this up and looking at this photo the tears are again flowing.  I am not ready for time to go by so fast.  I am not ready for my oldest "baby" to get his driver's license this year.  I am not ready for my babies to be so independent.  But it is happening and I will have to let go and be proud of the wonderful kids they have become.

Each day at dropoff will get easier. I am sure it will.  For now, I will have to cherish each hug and each kiss and know that it only lasts for a minute.  I hope your first day was filled with fewer tears than mine was.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The least wonderful time of the year

Three weeks have passed since my last post.
Three weeks where we enjoyed our summer of relaxation.
In these three weeks we had a few highlights and a few lowlights.

The orthodontist chipped my 16 year old's tooth while filing it to get his teeth closer together.  The hole he made will require a filling.  Really a low lowlight.

My daughter and son walked in a fashion show.  They rocked it.  I loved watching them.
We went to Michigan for a family event. So much fun!  My kids are great travelers :)

Most parents look forward to school starting. Counting down the days, ready to rid the house of all the little people.
Not me.
I really dread this time of year.

Summer is so relaxing.  No reasons to wake up early. Nothing to rush around doing.  No places to be at certain times.  And no carpooling, lunch box making, or making sure the right clothing is clean.
But the biggest one, the one that is most traumatic, NO HOMEWORK!!!!

So school started this week. I have an 11th grader, a 9th grader, a 6th grader and a 3rd grader.  I had the first day of school clothing ready to go.  We packed all our lunches 2 days before school started (no the perishable parts of course).  We lined up the socks and sneakers.  I took the photos and waved goodbye.  Then I got sad.  I remembered what I hated so much about school.  It is not enough that the kids (the 2 older ones especially) have 10 classes a day and are learning for 8 hours straight. No, that is not enough for them.  They have to have homework every single night.  And not just a fun book to read.  The freaking first night of school there were hours worth of homework.  What do we gain from all this homework? We have kids who hate to go to school.  We have kids who cannot be kids because there is no time or ENERGY left after doing their homework.  After school activities? My boys can barely find time to do sports because the homework is so demanding.

So alas, the first day of school for the big guys came and passed and along with it came the homework, the online checking of assignments, the "fun" of school is gone.  We just need to get it done now.  Here is the only photo the big kids allowed me to take.  And by allowed, I took it in the carpool line after they got out of the car.
The younger ones did not mind posing for a picture in their first day of school happiness.  This is our carpool group.  Love them all!
And next week, my little girl starts Junior Kindergarten.  She will be in school all day long.  And I will miss her very much.  And I will dread the day she comes home and tells me she has 2 hours of homework. 
I hope you all have a great school year!  Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my recipes and excitement from us!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Do you know what that stands for?

Four days ago I saw this acronym posted all over the place. SSZOYNP day was here.  But what the heck did it mean?
Well SSZOYNP means it was the popular yearly event known as Sneak Some Zucchini On Your Neighbor's Porch Day of course.  I love zucchini. It is so delicious and abundant in the summer.
But since we moved we no longer have our amazing garden.  So therefore I had no zucchini to eat or sneak anywhere.
Luckily for me, I got some incredible zucchinis from the next Fresh from the Farmer basket and I was ready to try a new quiche.
I really love quiches. The crust is usually the least healthy part so I made a crustless quiche this time.  The quiche was so good the crust was not missed.  The key to my quiche was using the right tool.  My new peeler.   I make zucchini pasta with it all the time (shred your zucchini, add a little water, cover it and microwave for 2 minutes. Drain out the water well. Pour on sauce and cheese, YUM) but today I used it to make my quiche.  The peeler is pictured above. It is hard to see the really fine shreds it makes, but it really works.
Grate 3 medium zucchini into a bowl. Add into that same bowl 1/2 of a small onion, diced and 1/4 cup 3 cheese blend. It should look like this:
In a separate bowl combine 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2/3 cup almond milk, and 1/2 cup egg beaters.  Mix this up well.
Combine the 2 bowls together and mix well.
Pour into a pie pan that was well sprayed.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven.

Monday, August 6, 2012

15 Tips and Tricks for visiting Disney World

Our family has visited Disney World many times. Today I want to share with you a few of our favorite tricks to help make your trip more enjoyable!

1. Make sure your children know your cell phone numbers.  Even older children can easily get separated and scared at a big place like Disney.  If you bring younger children try to buy one of these Shoe ID ideas so that your child has your name and cell # with them at all times.  If you do not plan to wear sneakers you can also try these Safety Tats.  If all else fails, write your phone number on their arm with a sharpie.

2.Bring with you a stroller that folds up easily.  You will be folding your stroller multiple times each day.  Trains, trams, monorails, in the car, out of the car, buses.  Your stroller needs to be able to fold in seconds.  I have used at least 20 strollers in my life and the best stroller to bring to Disney is the Baby Jogger City Mini.  It also comes in a double stroller if you have two small children.  Kids get tired at Disney.  They need to rest and ride a little.  The sun protection on the city mini is awesome too.  Buy this splurge before you go and thank me later!

3.Children get scared on the dark rides.  Being scared on a ride can ruin the rest of your Disney experience.  When my little girl was 2 the first ride we went on was Pooh. It was dark in many places and she cried when we tried to get her on any other rides the rest of the week.  This flashing flashlight was a total lifesaver.  Any ride that we got on, I took out the flashlight and my daughter would hold it.  If the ride got dark or scary she would turn it on and wave it around a smile.  This made a huge difference on our trip this year.
This picture is blurry but it gives you a good idea of how cool the flashing flashlight is!
4.Go to the dollar store and buy your ponchos for rain (it pours a little every day!), your autograph books, your sharpies, and other small toys to keep the kids happy on the way to Disney.

5.Save up your shiny pennies so you can have them ready to make into pressed pennies.  Also bring along your quarters for the machine.

6.Go "off campus" sometimes and eat a nice filling cheaper meal at a non Disney restaurant.  We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, but there was a huge Target and mall with many restaurants 5 minutes away.  We really enjoyed the sweet tomatoes restaurant which had an enormous salad bar and a self serve frozen yogurt machine. What else could you want? 
It would have been even nicer if the machine had worked!! Better luck next time.
7.Book a late breakfast/ early lunch and save money!!  The Disney breakfast buffets are awesome. They are super filling and are much cheaper than the lunch or dinner buffets.  What we usually do is keep breakfast items in the room, bagels, yogurts, cold cereals, etc... Then we go to a park early after eating a little bit.  We book the last possible breakfast seating, usually around 10:45 or 11 and we eat a late breakfast and then we are basically full until dinner time! 

8.Book your Dining Reservations far in advance.  The restaurants fill up and you cannot just walk into any of the popular restaurants and expect there to be an open table.  Many restaurants, especially the biggest attractions, are booked 60 or even 90 days in advance! You can also book these dining options online now.

9.Florida is HOT!  You will need a lot of sunscreen, hats for all of you, and lots of water to drink.  We like the Coppertone Foaming Lotion. It is easy to put on the kids and the adults.  A good hat is important for everyone too.  Sunglasses to protect your eyes and misting fans are so refreshing especially when you fill them with ice water.  Bring along some Aloe Gel in case you do get a sunburn.  

10.Everyone needs a water bottle, unless you enjoy spending $5 for a water bottle at each of the stands.  We liked the Osprey Lumbar Water Bag for each of the adults.  This way we were able to carry a bottle for ourselves and for one kid.  One really great tip for you.  You can get a free glass of ice water at any restaurant or quick serve location in Disney.  You just have to ask for it.  We stopped constantly and filled up our water bottles with the free refreshing ice water.

11.If you want help with your planning you should consult Tour Guide Mike.  His information is so valuable.  He can give you daily touring plans. Tell you which parks will be least crowded on what days.  I really doubted some of his information.  I could not believe that the Magic Kingdom would be empty on a Sunday morning at 9 am.  Boy was I wrong.  We rode Dumbo four times, Barnstormer 4 times, Pooh, Small world, Peter Pan, carousel and more.  All before 10 am with NO LINES!  SPend the money and listen to Tour Guide Mike!

12.If you are travelling with small children, use the Baby Stations.  Each park has its own Baby Station.  It is an awesome place to cool off, change your babies diaper, feed your baby in a high chair, or even go into a quiet room and nurse your baby.  TVs are playing for older children with Disney cartoons.  Comfy chairs are relaxing after a long day.  We all need a small break from the park, and the Baby Station is the place to do it.  Baby items are on sale here also, diapers, baby food, pacifiers, all easily accessible.

13.Have a plan! Decide where you are going each day.  Look online, make a park tour for yourself.  Be prepared to either save a whole day or at least a few hours each day for the awesome pool at your hotel.  The kids love cooling off and taking a break from the constant hustle in the parks.

14.Use the fastpasses!  Each park has many fastpass locations.  Once your family has entered the park, hand all your passes to the fastest adult in the group.  That adult should quickly head towards the most popular attraction in that park and get fastpasses for everyone in the group.  The rest of the group should leisurely head to the same popular attraction.  You all will basically meet up at the same time.  Ride the attraction all together and then you can use the fastpass to ride it a second time.  For some attractions you can be holding more than one fastpass at a time.
15.Enjoy the little things. One of my favorite moments of our trip last month was after a hot and tiring morning at the Magic Kingdom, my little girl and I shared a mickey ice cream sandwich.  We were so hot that the ice cream tasted so cold and amazingly delicious.  We both smiled at each other and lived in that moment.  She told me that she was having the best day ever.  I will never forget that moment and many other times from our trip.  Enjoy each moment with your family. Make memories. Share a Mickey Ice Cream Cone and have fun!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Disney's Animal Kingdom Kidani Village

We recently visited Disney's Animal Kingdom Kidani Village in Orlando Florida. I was so skeptical about staying at this hotel. I am not an animal person.  I love our bird Daisy, but I never had a dog or cat growing up and animals are not usually very exciting to me.
The Kidani Village is one of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) villas.  DVC is a timeshare that was given to us by my inlaws. Usually we stay at the Beach Club Villas, Boardwalk, Old Key West, or Saratoga Springs.  But this time a villa was open at the Animal Kingdom and we decided to try something different.
This hotel was amazing in so many ways.  I really do not think we even needed any park tickets this trip.  There was so much to do at our hotel.  We must have sat on our porch 2-3 hours a day.  We got to see giraffe, zebra, ostrich, cattle, and much more.
The animals felt close enough that we could almost touch them, but far enough away that we were not scared.
We saw giraffes hug each morning.
We saw zebras rolling in mud after a short Florida rain storm.
These two Ankole Cattle sat right outside our window each night for hours.  They always sat in different positions, sometimes looking right in our window, other times staring in each other's eyes.

When we were not sitting on the porch looking at the animals, we were going to bead activities.  What are bead activities? Throughout each day, there are at least 10 different kid activities. At each one, your child will earn a cool bead for his or her chain.  By the end of your stay you will have an amazing necklace or bracelet.  My daughter loved these activities. They vary and can include, learning to drum, making food for the giraffe, answering questions about places in Africa, identifying animal sounds, tracking where Mickey is hiding and more! The bead activities were so much fun. These activities were led by nature guides who were visitors from African countries. They were each so kind, and informative. We really loved this part of our visit.
Kidani Village has a nice pool and we spent some time there everyday.  Waterfalls and a small kids water park are there too.
My girl who is usually quite timid in the water even went on the smallest water slide, 20 times!
I highly recommend Kidani Village. If you would like anymore information about DVC please feel free to email me!
Tomorrow I will be posting my tips for having a happy family vacation to Disneyworld.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gund's Top Dog Contest

Do you have the cutest dog in the world? Would you like to see your dog made into a stuffed animal so other's can buy it? If you answer yes to either of these questions, you should enter the GUND top dog contest!

This contest was inspired by the World's Cutest Dog Boo.
BOO - The World's Cutest Dog pictureIsn't Boo adorable?

The Top Dog contest is open to all Puppy Parents in the US.  Entry is simple. 
Visit the GUND facebook page  and click on the contest tab.
You can enter in any of these categories:
·  Most Beautiful Dog
·  Ugliest Dog
·   Doganista/Best Dressed Dog
·   Dog that Most Resembles its Owner
Contest entries will be accepted until August 5th and voting begins August 6th – August 15th. A winner will be chosen the week of August 20th and announced the week of August 27th.

If you prefer Pinterest there is a contest there too. Consumers will be asked to post their entry on their own pages, tag @GUNDMostPinterestingDog and submit the link to GUND at The Most Pinteresting Dog Contest winner will be selected based on the number of times the entry is liked on the GUND Pinterest Board and the winner will receive a selection of GUND products valued at $250 retail!

Warning: Do NOT open the GUND pinterest board while your little girl is reading over your shoulder. She will want you to click on each pin and will cry when you stop an hour later.

Good Luck to all of you! I hope one of my readers wins these awesome prizes!

Disclosure: A product was provided to me by the author, manufacturer, or representing PR agency. The opinions in this post are 100% my own.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer should be Fun!

This past school year was a rough one.  Illnesses, stressful teachers, tons and tons of homework, the year was really tough on all of us.  It was so nice to have two trips to look forward to as soon as the year ended.  The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

The first place we visited was called Captain's Quarters.  A beautiful home located on the bay in Cambridge Maryland.  It was a short trip from our home.  90 minutes in the car.  Even our group that hates to go anywhere over 10 minutes, survived the trip to Cambridge unscathed.

The Captain's Quarters is a great house for a family reunion.  Our extended family of 19 members all got together to share good times.  This house had plenty of bedrooms, bathrooms, tvs, and things to do.  Cambridge is a very quiet town.  We really enjoyed our stay as you can see from these photos.
                                                            lounging in our pool

                                                        nature hikes (no more pictures please)

                                                              hanging with cousins

                                                           kayaking at sunset

and so much more.  Smores at the firepit was another big highlight.  The best part of each day was the family games we played after the little kids were in bed.  Boy did we laugh.  I laughed so hard my stomach hurt when it was time for bed.  Our favorite game we played was Truth Be Told.  This game is hilarious.  You also might learn some things about your family members.  Even though our vacation was many weeks ago, I still remember the fun we had on family game night.  I highly recommend Captain's Quarters for anyone who enjoys a quiet family reunion.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Show Me Your Smile

I am a 40 something Mom and one thing I have in common with most other Moms my age is that we all had braces.  Braces hurt. Braces were ugly. Braces for me lasted 8 years.  Braces were AWFUL!  And even after wearing braces for 1/5 of my life, my teeth do not look great now.  What the heck, braces?
My two oldest sons have had regular braces.  My oldest son was promised a 2 year plan and we are well into year 4.  I have been looking into other possibilities for my middle son and Invisalign is really appealing to me for a number of reasons.

I was recently invited to attend a brunch in Baltimore with other Mom bloggers to learn more about two important things.  The first thing was to learn about how to take better photographs.  The second thing was to learn about a painless way to straighten our teeth.  I was so disappointed when two of my kids woke up sick that morning. I was so looking forward to this event sponsored by Invisalign.  My morning consisted of a doctors visit and cuddles on the couch instead.

First Impressions are everything.  Do you like your smile?  A smile can make you feel more confident.  A smile shows the world how you feel.  If you are not happy with how you look when you smile, you are probably not as happy as you could be.  You are often judged by your first impression.  Do you feel happy when meeting someone new? Do you feel confident in new situations?  Invisalign might be the answer for you.  No metal mouth with Invisalign.  Your smile will look better in no time.

Would you like to win $1500 to put towards an Invisalign treatment plan? Please visit Mom it Forward and enter here.

 This post was sponsored by Invisalign.  The survey results and infographic were supplied by Invisalign but the thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When it's hot hot hot

you need to make a smoothie!!
On hot days there is nothing more refreshing or healthy than a yummy smoothie.

We love fruit in our house, but sometimes the fruit goes bad before we can eat it all.  If the fruit begins to look blah, I cut it up and put it in my smoothie bag which I keep in the freezer.
Your smoothie can be a power packed protein meal.  My kids love them. I usually make them when they are not watching so I can sneak in some hidden health powerhouses.  I usually start with
*Almond Breeze Almond/Coconut Milk in the bottom of my vitamix
or you can use any type of milk or juice that you have in your fridge.
Next put in your fruits and veggies. If you are freezing them, cut them into fairly small pieces so they are easier to blend.
*berries of all kinds
*spinach, kale, any kind of greens
The best part of smoothies is that the kids do not really notice the greens in the smoothie.  My daughter thinks it is cooler when the smoothie looks green!
Finally, you can add in some protein
*hemp seeds
*protein powders
*flax seed oils
The main thing with making a smoothie is to get creative!!
The smoothie tastes even better with a nice glass straw.  I love the strawsome straws.
Cool off, get healthy, and eat your fruits and veggies!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Wow, today is a big milestone for my little blog.
Today I hit 10,000 views.
When I started this blog long ago I never thought many people would read it. Sure, my friends and family might occasionally read a post here and there. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine a number as big as 10,000.  Thank you to each and every one of my readers. I feel like I write the most random things, yet I have subscribers, and I have readers, and I have people telling me that they enjoy what I write.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I have some awesome recipes that we have been cooking up in our kitchen and I hope to share them with you soon.  I also have some funny stories to share.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!
And Happy 10,000 to me!

Friday, June 8, 2012


Whenever a friend has a baby my favorite thing to tell her is, enjoy every minute.  Time goes by so fast.  You have to stop to enjoy each stage of your child's life.  I wish someone had told me this 16 years ago.  I feel like the past 16 years, since I became a Mom , have literally flown by me.  I do not remember much.  My oldest is 16 but my youngest is only 4.  I should remember her as a baby.  I should remember each child being born.  My mind feels too full from all that has happened in my life.  Memories are unclear.  But I can tell you one thing.  It is a bumpy but wonderful ride.  My oldest turned 16 a few weeks ago.  16 seems so old.  It doesn't hurt that he is 6'3" tall and looks like a man already.  It feels like he was my only child just minutes ago.  His grandmother Diane rushed to the hospital to meet him, grabbed him out of my arms, and rocked him in a rocking chair while singing you are my sunshine over and over again.  I remember this moment and I hope I never forget it.

I wanted to post some cute pictures of my oldest kid on his birthday.  But that would require
A. finding a picture
B. scanning a picture (no digital cameras back then.)
C. my son said, and I quote, "You better not post any embarrassing pictures of me on Facebook today"
D. I was too busy keeping my head above water to remember to do it!

Moms and Dads, please cherish every moment. Soak it all in. Take a mental picture.  Before you know it your baby will be taller than you and driving you to the store.
Happy Birthday Joey!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quinoa Loaf

Quinoa is one of my favorite foods.  It is my favorite because it is very good for you. You often find quinoa on a list of superfoods.  I also love quinoa because it tastes great in every recipe I have ever made.  I make my quinoa in my rice cooker. It does not take long and it comes out perfectly. I make extra so that I can eat it for breakfast or have some on hand to make this loaf or my other casserole I posted a few weeks ago.
Todays recipe is very diverse.
You can sub in and greens you have on hand, spinach, chard, or kale.
If you have sundried tomatoes, those go great in this too.
Do not be afraid to experiment with what you have in your fridge. This is a perfect, use up the leftover veggies kind of meal!
Quinoa Loaf
PAm or 1 TB evoo
one package of mushrooms
1 onion chopped fine
1 can organic chickpeas, rinsed off
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup peas, or frozen mixed veggies
spices to taste: minced onion, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper
Saute mushrooms and onion in saute pan with PAM or evoo.
Preheat oven to 350 and grease 8 inch loaf pan.
Add in spices to the mushrooms mixture after a few minutes. Then add in whatever greens you have.  Today I added in some fresh kale, about 5 huge leaves, chopped up small.  Cook down all the veggies till well cooked about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
In your food processor mix up til smooth the chickpeas, the oats and 1/2 cup water.
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together, the sauteed veggies, the chickpea mixture, the peas, the sundried tomatoes, and whatever else looks good.  Press into a loaf pan and bake for one hour.  Let rest 10 minutes and then slice and serve.
If you want to try something quicker, press mixture in to a small rectangular pan and cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes instead.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fresh Basil Hummus

So with last week's basket we got a beautiful bag of fresh basil. It smelled incredible. I wish I had a way for you to scratch and sniff this page, but I don't.  Trust me it was so good.  I almost did not want to make anything with it so I could just have it smelling so delicious in my refrigerator.
This hummus recipe is super easy.
I threw all the ingredients into my food processor and Diane pushed ON a few times.
Serve it warm, it tastes best that way.
And also, try not to eat it all in one serving.

Fresh Basil Hummus
1 can chickpeas, organic preferred, rinsed off
2 cloves of garlic
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. Tahini
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup fresh basil, packed
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 cup water
Serve with crackers, pretzel crisps, or fresh toasted bread.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Some products live up to the hype and some don't

I follow a lot of food blogs and I love to try new snacks that are healthy. Since the members of this house have very varied diets, it is nice to find foods that are vegan but still taste great.  Therefore, the vegans in the house enjoy it, while the non-vegans don't mind eating it either.
Desserts and snacks seem to be the easiest category to make everyone happy.
I have heard about Sweet and Sara's goodies for a long time.  They are an all vegan natural company that is kosher too!  I follow them on Facebook and you should too!  The owner, Sara,  has devoted her life to making vegan marshmallows and recently she has expanded to other goodies.  She runs her business with her parents, and she is dedicated to making our life more delicious one marshmallow at a time.

Yesterday I went to the grand opening of our Mom's Organic Market. It is a wonderful store, with so many unique items you cannot find anywhere else.  I was thrilled to find many of the Sweet and Sara products yesterday.  We have had the plain marshmallows, the coconut covered marshmallows, and the rice krispy treats.  The smores are out of this world.  But yesterday we tried the graham crackers for the first time.
I wanted to include on this post a picture of how cute the graham crackers were, but 12 hours later they are all gone.  The container came packaged with 2 individually wrapped groups of grahams.  The grahams were so crunchy, slightly sweet, and addictive.  They did not really taste much like the regular grahams you are used to. They were so much better.  You try a small bite and there is something in the graham that makes you need to eat more, and more, and more until the container is as empty as mine.
I did not plan to go back to Mom's so soon, but now another trip is in order.
I can't wait to make a 7 layer bar with these grahams, it will be sooooo good.
If you have not tried Sweet and Sara's give them a try!

Another great from the Farmer Delivery

Today's picnic basket delivery did not disappoint.  We have so much delicious foods and we are planning to make some delicious recipes including:
*grilled cheese with tomato rosemary bread, daiya cheese, red kale, and carmelized red onions.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
*strawberry smoothies with the few strawberries that are left, red kale, pineapple, oranges, coconut-almond milk and hemp seeds
*grilled asparagus with almonds
*Crispy Potatoes and Red onions, sliced very thin and cooked at a high temperature til very crisp
*lots of fresh salads with the crisp boston lettuce
If you are interested in having an amazing basket delivered to your front door please email
Happy Friday everyone!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Green Power Burgers!

Sometimes you need to present a new food to little kids in a way that will make them want to eat it.  Today we made a green burger which we called Green Power Burgers. Teenagers do not fall for "this crap" they tell me. But little kids eat it right up.  These burgers were amazingly delicious.  Put them in a fresh bun, add all your regular toppings and you will want to eat another!
Some variations you could do are, for vegans, take out the egg and put in an energ egg or a flax egg. We made them tonight for the non vegan crowd so we put in the egg. Next time I will make them veganized.
I made 5 burgers and then the rest of the batter I made into meatballs that were incredibly good too. I baked the meatballs at 400 for 10 minutes in my toaster oven. Both the burgers and meatballs were perfectly cooked.
Leave me a comment if you try these!
Sara's Green Power Burgers
1 can chickpeas, rinsed well
1/4 of an onion
1 cup fresh spinach, packed
1/2 TB soy sauce
1 tsp Oregano
2 TB sunflower seeds
1 egg
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

In a large food processor, put in rinsed chickpeas and the onion.  Pulse a little bit.  Add in the spinach, the oil, soy suace, oregano and sunflower seeds, and pulse a little more.  Add in the rest of the ingredients. It all just goes in the bowl of the food processor.
 Mix up till well combined.  It should look like this!

Wet your hands and make into burgers or meatballs.  You can probably grill these too, but I do not have a grill.  These green power burgers go great with a side salad.
 This is what my burgers looked like when they were done. YUM!

Friday, April 20, 2012

From the Farmer Delivery Service

Over the past few years I hear more and more about CSA delivery services, organic pick your own farms, and various other ways to get locally grown fruits and veggies to our house.
About a month ago I saw a deal on Plum District to try 2 weeks of delivery of the From the Farmer delivery service for $40.  This was 50% off the regular price.  For $40 I thought it would be worth trying.  I emailed with Nick a few times before I bought the offer. He was so helpful and I know he was probably flooded with emails on the day his offer came out. But Nick answered all of my questions, and I quickly signed up.
It was easy to pick which weeks I wanted my delivery.  I just emailed Nick, told him which two weeks I wanted to try and then I just had to wait for those weeks to arrive.
Last week was my first delivery.  The excitement began on Thursday. I got an email from Nick explaining what items were going to be in the basket along with suggested recipes to use each item. Also included in the email are storage directions.  The only thing not included with the instructions was someone to cook up a few dishes.  Luckily we enjoy doing that ourselves!
I had trouble sleeping Thursday night in anticipation of our delicious surprise.
My little girl and I were so excited to open the front door at 7 am and see a bright orange picnic basket waiting for us.  From the Farmer delivers all the baskets between 4 and 7 am to avoid traffic and to get you the items as fresh as possible.  On our first delivery day we did not take any pictures. But the images are fresh in my mind.  My four year old brought the basket in herself and carefully opened it.  She took out each item and we talked about what it was, smelled it, thought about how we would use it, and then checked out the next item. 
So this week we remembered to put out our bright orange picnic basket last night.  This morning when we woke up I whispered to Diane, I think our picnic basket is here. She ran out of bed, opened the front door and could not have been more excited.  Today we got a bright red basket and the first thing she said was, there are green smelly things sticking out, what are they????

Diane was so excited that many of my photos are blurry.  I love seeing her excited about fruits and vegetables.  She told me the basket today was much heavier than last week so I helped her bring it to the kitchen.  We began unpacking to discover what we would be eating this weekend.
First we found the huge spring onions. I have never seen spring onions this big!  They were almost as tall as a 4 year old!
Next was a bag of mustard greens. Diane smelled it to see what flavors she could find.
The favorite find in the bag was the fresh strawberries.
The brothers each grabbed a few and declared, sweetest strawberries they ever tasted.
A couple of the sweetest apples I ever tasted were in the bottom of the basket as well.
A few items are not pictured including a bag of lettuce, a loaf of rye bread, and some strawberry lime marmalade. 
The saddest part of the basket is that the strawberries are all gone.  It is only 8 am and yes, they were all eaten up.  Didn't they look beautiful and delicious?
If you want to email Nick I am sure he will hook you up! You must live in the DC/MD area though. Sorry to all of you reading this from far away.
Or check out their website at