Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Day Out with "Thomas"... Uh, Kinda {Wordless Wednesday}

Not really like those "Day Out with Thomas" posts I was seeing all summer. But, I think this was even better! We received this cool costume from Wholesale Halloween Costumes for the review I posted HERE.

BOTH feet have left the ground!

 Little Brown Bear's author, "Aunt Bett" (Elizabeth Upham McWebb), lived in our town. This is a statue of Little Brown Bear that sits in front of the library downtown. If you ever get the chance, check out your local library to see if her books are available - they're great stories for little ones! HERE is a list of her books.

 Downtown is starting to get "dressed up" for Autumn!
When I say, "Look at Mommy!" this is what I get.

This is "The Tea Store" (a.k.a. Health Matters) where we get all of our teas and vitamins. Oh, AND snacks when we're downtown!

 Nothing like heading to the library by our house to play with the really cool Thomas & Friends track while wearing your really cool Thomas costume!
And you just have to do some coloring, especially when the librarians just added fresh crayons to the box!
OK, know what he's doing here? Well, let me just say that when your kid is really interested in a leaf on a bush, pay close attention. As I was snapping the picture, I saw his hand go up to his mouth. It was a berry (?!) that he was after. I'm so glad I caught this before he popped it into his mouth!
So, that was my "Day Out with Thomas" - as I said, I'm sure it was better than any other one!

Thanks, once again, to Wholesale Halloween Costumes for sending us this really neat costume to review. I love the candy catcher pocket in front even better than before - Little Guy could carry his own sticks, leaves, rocks, and nuts (lots of black walnut trees around here) so I didn't have to!

Monday, September 26, 2011

#WIN Your Holiday Gifty! {Tuesday's #Giveaway Linkup is Here!}

Yeah, everyone is in a tight crunch for money lately. But why spend money, when you can win your gifts? Peruse the links below... you probably know someone who'd LOVE to have some of those prizes under the tree (or wherever you exchange your gifts!)

I have to say that I managed to win most of Little Guy's birthday gifts this year! And I know he's going to love them. I can't tell you how tempted I am on some days to pull one out for him "just because".

Tuesday's Giveaway Linkup
Welcome to Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up with your hosts Aimee @ Classified: Mom & Karen @ Tots and Me & Alicia @ McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts!
This link up will be posted Monday at 8 PM est. and run all week long! Make sure you stop in as often as you can to list your latest giveaways.
Here is how to use the Giveaway Link Up 1. Post your reviews and/or giveaways, as many as you have, be sure to add the end date (family friendly please) 2. Help spread the word about the giveaway link up by grabbing our button, Tweeting or posting on Facebook. (Not mandatory- but it helps get more exposure to your giveaways as well!) 3. Take a moment to enter any giveaway that strikes an interest to you! If you would  like to follow the three hostesses, we will gladly follow you back! Simply leave us a message to do so. Thank you for linking up with  Aimee @ Classified: Mom & Karen @ Tots and Me & Alicia @  McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts! 

The Worst Laundry Day EVER!

(Photo by missycaulk)
 We've all seen the commercial. An 8-year-old kid, decked out in full body armor, playing full-contact football. He gets the ball and runs it to the end zone for a touchdown... just before a gaggle of other 8-year-olds in the other team's uniform tackle him... in a mud puddle. Next scene: Mom, in her perfectly clean laundry room, sun shining in through the window (where you can see little Johnny passing the football with dad outside). She picks up the uniform, covered in mud and grass stains. She's smiling and shaking her head (Boys will be boys!) She reaches (without looking, I might add) for the one product she knows will clean this mess up with very little work on her part. She merely pours on Super Stain-Lifting Name Brand Gel-Like Magic Stuff on the stains and they disappear in front of our very eyes. (If you're perceptive, you'll see the minuscule writing that mentions how you need to wait 30 minutes and scrub like hell to get these results.) Mom puts the uniform into the washing machine and adds her Super Stain-Lifting Name Brand Detergent, then goes and takes the guys some snacks.

Sometimes I have to ask myself why I don't use those magical products. This past Saturday's cross country meet was at our state park. Because it is "cross country", they didn't use the nicely paved trails for their runs. Nope - someone at the park got out the giant tractor mower and cut paths among the tall grasses for a 5k course. Did they think about the rain and plan the course to go through the thickest, nastiest muddy places? And we're not talking about the average mud. This entire area is boggy wetlands. The mud is stinky and black (some is even green!) It sticks to and sinks into everything. Plus there are burrs of every kind from all of the native wildflowers in the area. There were kids running in toward the finish line carrying a shoe, some even were completely missing one or both shoes! From what I understand, runners were calling one particular stretch of the course "Glue Curve" because they just couldn't run it. My son said that he stopped counting the shoes that were stuck in the mud when he got to 20 - and there were tons more.
One of the tamer muddy areas. The kid in red & white on the left is my oldest. See those shoes? (His teammate in front of him is wearing fluorescent orange shoes!)
THIS is what they're supposed to look like!

After a day of cheering on whatever kid who was running past wearing a "Monroe" jersey, I headed over to where the other parents of out high school cross country team was sitting. The mud really didn't bother me until one mom said, "Oh, no! I'm going to be scrubbing these clothes and shoes for the rest of the night so they'll be ready for the meet on Tuesday!" Uh-oh... I don't use super laundry stuff. I have my homemade stuff - basically washing soda, borax, and a bar of grated up Ivory. Oh, and a scrub brush. I rarely use a washing machine. It costs a dollar per load and is old - the thing uses gallon upon gallon of water and I suspect the landlord has it draining into the sewer-line that goes directly to the river (eventually out to Lake Erie.) So, we've figured out a way to do a full load of laundry using about 7 gallons of water. That is, the "average" load with peed in Little Guy pants, shirts with a little drip of last night's dinner, socks, etc. Muddy cross country clothes, I've found, take a LOT more water.
Sure would have been easier with this stuff! (Photo by Man vyi)
First, rinse the big chunks of mud off of everything. Now, I'm not sure of the coach's reasoning, but he issued a sweat suit to my kid that might fit him when he's 18. The pants are (no kidding) 8 inches too long and about 6 inches too big around the waist. The jacket hangs down almost to his knees. I took the waist of the shorts in because I didn't want my kid having to hold them up as he ran 3 miles. The jersey was also sewn a little so the armpits aren't below his waist. What does this all mean in terms of laundry? My kid, not to be one to waste time, decided not to roll up his pant legs. Nope. He walked around before and after his race with the bottom 8" of those pant legs under his muddy shoes. The mud was part of the weaving of the fabric. The shoes, themselves, are mesh, and had every crevice filled with mud. His shorts and (white!) jersey had stripes of mud going up the back of them.

First time around - the hunks of mud on his back come next time around...
I don't know how many gallons of water I wasted just rinsing the bigger hunks of mud out. Then, I got out the scrub brush and made a mixture of soda and borax for the stains. Man, was I wishing for some of that spray-on gel stuff on the commercial! I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. I got most of it, but there were some spots that just refused to budge. I began wondering if these were left over from last year's wearer. I did the same with the shoes. Every time I rinsed them to see if I had managed to get all of the mud out, the water kept turning black. Back to it. after a solid hour of scrubbing just 4 articles of clothing and a pair of shoes, I gave in. I was using too much water... I sent my kid down to the store to get some quarters. My friend lent us one of her Super-Duper Stain Release Name Brand Packets of detergent and we tossed all into the washer. They came out kind of clean. At least the places that you really noticed were clean. The legs of the pants have faint dark spots and there are a few spots of mud on the jersey, but good enough for me. The shoes even came clean. Well, at least I know that all of the dirt will be heading back to the wetlands... eventually. Right?

Guess I should be thankful that his entire uniform isn't WHITE!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The NCLB & Peer Pressure

As most of you know, my oldest started high school this year. He also joined the cross country team. Because we don't have a car and the park where they train is over 3 miles away, he's been grabbing a ride home with a few of the kids who live near us. Now, when my son started "real" school, he was placed one grade above the grade his age group of lids was in - meaning that he's now 13 years old and attending high school (I am SO GLAD I didn't go with the testing recommendation to jump him TWO years ahead!) What this means is that he's often riding home with 18-year-olds.

Now, I've met most of the members of the cross country team and they're pretty good kids. Most of them are getting good grades, they take care of their bodies, and they're generally pretty moral group. So, when my son came home with his news last night, I was shocked at first. "Mom, I got some peer pressure for the first time today." Oh no! Drugs? Sex? WHAT?! Have I mentioned that my oldest ALWAYS picks the worst possible moment for these kind of talks? I have a hungry, tired little guy screaming about how the color of his crayon isn't the right green (he's got a giant shoe box of crayons - geez!) I'm trying to cook dinner. The phone is ringing. And my lovely husband, who stubbed his toe TWO WEEKS AGO is limping around the house and actually whining (can you say "attention-seeking"?)

I turn off the stove, let the answering machine get the phone call, and direct my husband to gimp into the living room and pull all of the green crayons from the box for little guy - hey, he was just in the way and this way he will have someone to whine at who might listen to his tale of woe*.OK, full attention on the teen... "So, what's up?" He looks at me very seriously. I can tell this is going to be one of those times when I have to keep my head on straight and really think about my next move. The look on his face scared me to death!

"You know the kid I usually ride home with, John?" Yeah... "Well, see there was this assembly at school on Monday." Um, okay... "Well, I know you said I couldn't do it, so I stayed in the library, but John went and..." Wait. What assembly did I say you couldn't go to? "You know, that letter you wrote to the school?"
 That letter I wrote was back on the first day of school. You know how they come home with a stack of paper a mile high for parents to sign. They're usually permission to watch films, or pieces of paper promising not to sue if my child becomes lost on a field trip... In little, tiny lettering on the back and in the middle of a list of typical attendance rules that most people give a quick scan and then toss on a pile of papers to look at later, I noticed this:
"The No Child Left Behind Act... requires schools to permit military recruiters to obtain students' contact information and other access to the student, if the school provides that information to universities or employers, unless the students opt out of giving military recruiters access."
 So, I got out my pen and basically write that I do NOT give permission to the school to release my son's information to military recruiters, nor do I give the school permission to send him to a school assembly or any other function where he will be in contact with recruiters. This may seem a little harsh, but 1) I don't want my kid being sent to fight a war over some stupid commodity so the rich can get richer and 2) I've heard how these guys work, at least around here.

A mom I know called me last year about this time, steaming mad. She had just received a letter from the Army letting her know that her 14 year-old pledged to enter the military right after he graduated. She was freaking out! She asked her kid why he would do something like that. Know why? The recruiter were giving out really cool dog tags to everyone who signed up for "more information". Everyone was getting these things and he wanted t have them, too. Plus, he might win a brand new PS3!!! But from the letter my friend had in her hand, it sounded as if there's be a van at their front door the day after graduation to pick the kid up for boot camp. So, you see why it is so important to me that MY kid not be exposed to all of these "promises" of winning cool prizes, seeing the world, and getting a free ride through college.

It turns out that there had been some talk among the kids about the military and getting some cool stuff for signing up for "more information". My son's ride home had thought it over and decided he wanted to go over and sign up and asked my son if he wanted to, also. At first, my son laughed it off. But, when he realized that this boy was serious, he started feeling the pressure. "Why not? Don't you care about our country?" and all of that kind of stuff got thrown at him. My son took the one out I've always told him works: "My mom would kill me!" It worked. This kid understood the pissed-off mom excuse.

So, we've had our first "peer pressure" incident and he came out unscathed. I explained to him why I didn't want him signing anythingI hated the idea. BUT, I wanted him to see what the other kids were doing. It would have been unfair of me to keep him from that just because of my opinions of schools. Turns out it was a good decision for him - he's the type of learner who does well in a classroom. If he wanted to join the military, I'd only want to make sure he knew ALL of the facts and had a good personal reason for wanting to do so. (I can't promise I wouldn't try to talk him out of it, though!)

*Look, the guy has been seen running to catch one of his friends who was pulling out of the parking lot. His toe doesn't hurt that badly. He just realized he was getting to lay around and watch TV and take naps whenever he wanted while I took care of everything else.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kitty Cat Gluing Project {#Craft}

I was paging through a rather popular catalog that has all kinds of kids' crafts in it and came across quite a few that I decided to try with Little Guy. The first is this Kitty Cat:
I attempted to create a template that you could print out for the cut-out parts, but I just can't figure it out without making it look like Little Guy drew it free-hand. So, here's what you need to cut out:
  • 4-inch diameter circle in black (head)
  • 6-inch diameter circle in black (body)
  • 2 1/2-inch diameter circle, then cut in half in black (paws)
  • 7-inch long (about 2 inches wide at largest spot) crescent shape with rounded top in black (tail)
  • 1 1/2-inch square in black, then cut in half in black (ears)
  • Two 1-inch diameter circles in yellow (eyes)
  • about 3/4-inch tall heart shape in pink (nose)
  • 1/2-inch tall triangle in pink (mouth)
And then you're also going to need this stuff:
  • 1 White pipe cleaner cut into four equal pieces, then curl one end of each piece around a crayon
  • 1 piece of yarn or ribbon tied into a bow
  • 2 small black pom-poms for eyes
  • White crayon
  • Glue stick
  • White glue or glue dots
Now, if you don't have all of this stuff, no biggie. You can use two different-sized plates for the head and body, just paint or even color them whatever color you (or your kids) want. No pipe cleaners? How about bread ties, spaghetti, string...? For those who aren't great at tying bows, cut one out of paper. You don't need pop-poms, either. Just use black paper or color them in with a crayon or marker. Oh, and the sizes? Not a big deal, either. I just kind of guessed at them.

Here are the basic steps to making kitty:
  1. Outline all black parts with the white crayon (as you can see, Little Guy decided to go the extra mile!) And then draw the kitty's mouth on (I did that part.)
  2. Use glue stick to glue on these parts: head, eyes, nose mouth, paws. Then flip it over and use the glue stick to add the tail and ears.
  3. Use the white glue or glue dots to add the pom-poms to the eyes, then glue on the whiskers, and finally add the bow. 
  4. The last step is always the hardest - let it all dry. We did our project before bed with the promise that it would be dry when he woke up.

The main thing to remember here is that this is a project that should be relatively easy for a preschooler to do with little help. I cut out all of the pieces while he was napping and put them into a paper bag. I found that when he wants to do a project, he wants to do it NOW, so waiting for me to do all of the cutting can make a fun project become a tantrum.

I had a picture of the project from the catalog taped onto the wall in front of Little Guy so he could see how it should look (great way to teach them to see how pictures can translate into real things!) I had him show me where he was planning on putting each piece AND where he planned on putting the glue before he actually did it. If his planned spots were way off, I'd say something like, "Well, let's look at the picture and see if it looks right." Often, he'd see the mistake. If not, I'd put the piece in the right place and ask him if that looked OK. If the pieces were going to be placed slightly off, I just left it alone - it wasn't MY project!

To keep the white glue from being over-used or getting everywhere, we have a "deal". He guides the bottle and I help squeeze it. I get to guide it, too, he just doesn't realize it. And I can control how fast the glue comes out. Try to work from top to bottom with the white glue so arms don't accidentally move previously added parts.

Have LOTS of fun!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Define Mindfulness

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Blog Carnival hosted by hosted by Kelly of Becoming Crunchy and Zoie of TouchstoneZ. Participants are writing posts about what mindfulness mean to them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

It’s funny that Zoie (TouchstoneZ) and Kelly (Becoming Crunchy) would choose this month’s Mindful Mama Blog Carnival topic to be the very one thing that I’ve been mulling over in my mind: What does being mindful mean to you? Now, there are a ton of different angles to answering this question. I’m narrowing it down to three: Define “Mindful”, Being Mindful as a Human Being, and Mindful Parenting. And, since I can’t write short posts about any subject (heck, I can’t even leave Wordless Wednesday posts wordless!), I am going to write three separate posts and take part of this carnival whenever those posts fit into the theme.

What does being mindful mean to you?

When I saw the question popping out of my computer screen, it became clear to me that I had to take a closer look at myself – as a person, as a wife, and as a mother. I’ve not been the peaceful person I want to be, and I must admit that I’ve not even really tried changing. I’ve been following Hybrid Rasta Mama’s posts about her journey through the Mindful Mothering Challenge and really feel that I (and everyone around me) would really benefit if I tried taking part. It’s as if I’ve been waiting for “the right time” or for something to happen in my life that would force me to get up off my lazy butt, quit thinking, and start doing. That’s when I saw that question. It was a sign from the almighty Becoming Crunchy Gods telling me through an email subscription that this was the kick in the pants I was waiting for.

The first step toward becoming a mindful person is finding a definition for what “mindful” is to me. I’ve been mulling the question over in my head for a few days now, jotting down brainstormed ideas, and attempting to form a post or two in my head on the subject. However, being mindful isn’t something that you can just buy a book on and follow the step-by-step instructions to happiness and enlightenment. It’s a habit, a way of life, which you must ease yourself into. You can’t fake mindfulness – it won’t last long. You must truly feel it in your heart and understand it in your mind. I do feel the desire to become mindful and know that this is the path I want to take.

I searched the Web for some kind of guidance. I was lucky to have found the step-by-step guide that I just said doesn’t exist! The Community for Mindful Living follows the “…Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings for Engaged Buddhism of the Order of Interbeing--the Tiep Hien Order." Tiep means ‘in touch with’ and ‘continuing’. Hien means ‘realizing’ and ‘making it here and now’.” As I read over these fourteen “trainings”, I realized that I: 1) completely agree with each one and 2) possess many of the traits that these trainings strive to teach. Now, I just need simple reminders throughout the day that will keep me from having the knee-jerk (and I do mean “jerk”) reactions that I have to occurrences and actions that I have no control over. I yell at the kids a LOT. I get huffy over stupid things like hubby finishing the last of the coffee. I selfishly block out all of the turmoil around me by sitting in front of the computer reading blog posts, checking out Facebook, and entering giveaways. I’ll write more about how I am changing these in my next two posts.
Right now, I want to focus on those fourteen trainings and share my own interpretation of them:

  1. Openness – This is me. It took me most of my 20’s to get here, but I am an open person. I have my own opinions of things. Yet, I do not feel that my ideas are the “right” ones – they’re only right ones for me. I do not fault anyone for having the ideas or opinions that they have. The one thing here, for me, is that I feel that some people do not educate themselves and only hold certain opinions because they know someone else with that opinion. I need to work on not trying to educate those people against their wills. It is one thing to hand over information with no strings attached. It’s not being open when I ask the person if they got a chance to go over that information and try to find out if they’ve changed their way of thinking.
  2. Non-Attachment from Views – What?! OK, this one goes with the Openness one. The idea is to be willing to hear the views of others (no matter how wrong I may thing they are) and be open-minded enough to try to understand those views. This training is here to remind me that my ideas and opinions are ever-changing and the more I learn about others’ ideas and opinions, the better prepared I will be to accept my changing views.
  3. Freedom of Thought – Again, back to the openness thing. This time, it is all about allowing others their own freedom of thought and not trying to coerce others into thinking my way. This one goes for children, partners, friends, and strangers. It is one thing to converse on a subject with someone who thinks differently. It is another to try to change their thinking with a bribe or a threat.
  4. Awareness of Suffering – This is going to be a tough one for me. Suffering of any kind is easiest to handle when I just pretend it’s not there. This training asks that I stop shielding myself from suffering of things and people. Sometimes, even, seek it out. Try to feel compassion and empathy, and then try to show the one(s) suffering a path to comfort and joy. I’m still mulling over just how to do this.
  5.  Simple, Healthy Living – Hmm… I understand the concept here: Simple living means to only take what I need and not attempt to amass a stockpile while others may be suffering without even their basic needs met. Healthy means to keep my body pure and free of toxins. The first part is going to be a slight adjustment. I need to get rid of a ton of things. Things that I look at every day and feel terrible for having and not using, knowing that there is someone out there in need of it. The healthy part is going to be very tough. I have made many changes in my lifestyle over the years, but I still like a good Twinkie or Pepsi now and then. I live on coffee – I swear it’s the only thing that keeps me alert all day. I’ll work on cutting out the bad stuff and replacing it with good. I know right now that the coffee will not disappear, but there are alternatives that I can replace most of my daily cups with.
  6. Dealing with Anger – OK, this is a really, really bad one for me. It is the reason I even began considering the life changes that becoming a more mindful person should bring. I have a quick temper and I’m stubborn. I will spare you all of the details in this post (see the next two) and just say I have a lot of work to do before I can be one who does not respond immediately when anger rises within me.
  7. Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment – Sounds perfectly logical. Problem is, I tend to remove myself from the moment by thinking of other things, past and future, that have nothing to do with now. I must find a physical or visual reminder for this one.
  8. Community and Communication – I love this one. It has to do with listening and speaking with an open heart. I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will be attentive to your point of view while you are expressing it. I will also share my opinions and beliefs while keeping in mind that you may not feel the same way as I. I really try to practice this and I believe that I am good at it; though, no one is perfect – I need to learn how to not shut down when someone whose ideas are radically different from mine shares his or her thoughts with me.
  9. Truthful and Loving Speech – This one is a tough one for me. Being truthful doesn’t just mean not lying, it also means having the story straight and making sure it’s factual before sharing it with others. While I may try to be truthful in all that I say, the loving part is not so easy. I need to remind myself several times a day that the things that come out of my mouth may not seem to be hurtful to me, but they leave a terrible impact on those around me. I tend to slip into negative speech with Little Guy and the Oldest. “No” “Can’t” “Won’t” are all words that I use often. Turning my phrasing around can make all of the difference! This training also reminds us that we must stand up for the truth – even if it means bad things may come to us. Think of all of the heroes we know about who spoke the truth against injustice only to be beaten down or even murdered by the oppressors. The word got out – their messages were hear – and we know this because, even when these events may have taken place centuries ago, we know about them today.
  10. Protecting the Sangha – OK, I’m not a Buddhist, so this one seemed a little out there at first. This is directly from The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and explains better than I ever could: “Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practice of understanding and compassion, we are determined not to use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit or transform our community into a political instrument. A spiritual community should, however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.” What I get from it is that being mindful and compassionate should be done only because it is the right thing to do. This isn’t a way of life for those who will only use it to gain things (whether it’s money, fame, power, or even love.) I really do not anticipate anything from my actions other than inner peace – if I’m lucky!
  11. Right Livelihood – This one tells me to make sure that my career is not only something that makes me happy. I need to consider the global impact of my choice: Does this job cause injustice or negative environmental impacts? Also, as a consumer, I must ask the same things. As a mom, I do this everyday – Which brand of dish soap do I buy? What am I teaching my children about waste if I throw out cheese that has a teeny bit of mold on it? May seem silly to some, but these decisions all add up. Not only do they affect myself and my family, but my community (buying local), the economy (buying from “good” companies will take money from the “bad” ones, social institutions (make sure to use companies with good labor practices), the environment (green products with little packaging), etc. And, hopefully, my kids see this stuff as a way of life and grow up into adults who follow my lead!
  12. Reverence for Life – This one is about non-violent communication and peaceful demonstration to avoid conflict and war. I’m all for it – war kills, conflict kills. It is important to stand up for what you believe, but physical harm is never a good solution for anyone. It’s funny, my husband and I were talking about war last night. He was a little young for the Vietnam draft, but he and his friends had talked about what would happen if the draft were still in effect when they reached 18. “I’m not running up that hill to try to shoot that guy. I don’t even know him! What did he ever do to me?!” Yeah, that’s the basic thought here. Wars are run by a few men (and women!) who use human beings as pawns in a game of chess in order to gain something (be it land, oil, power.) If all of the pawns were to realize what they were really fighting for and laid down their arms in peaceful protest, things would probably get done more quickly and with less bloodshed. (I know that there is way more to this subject than what I’ve written. I just remembered that this post is about “mindfulness” and not “war”!)
  13. Generosity – We don’t have much of anything. This could cause me to say, “But I have nothing to give!” I do – time, a few material things, energy. Generosity can be a simple hug to someone who looks like they’re at the end of their rope. Feeding a stray cat some leftovers. Standing up for a stranger who is obviously being treated unfairly. How many times do people walk past a bad situation saying, “It’s none of my business,” I’ve done it – I’ll admit it. But, recently, I’ve felt the need to help others. I still see the little boy whose spanking was averted due to my speaking up and his mom rarely uses this form of punishment now!
  14. Right Conduct – This one has a lot to do with sex. I KNOW!!! It reminds us to be fully aware of the impact that our sexual acts will have. That sex without spiritual love is just a physical act and means nothing. If fact, it’s a selfish act because we are fulfilling only our own desires. It also tells us to keep in mind that sex leads to new people. We must fully realize the responsibilities of bringing a new baby into the world and be willing to accept it. Quite a lot of thinking to do before “doing it” with your partner, but also very important!
Well, there you have it – how I feel being mindful will and can apply to my life. There is a lot to remember here, so I’m going to start out by making little lists of these Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings and hang them all over the house. I'm a visual person and these will help me remember!  Next, I’m going to join Hybrid Rasta Mama and attempt to take on the Mindful Mothering Challenge. I’ve found that The Parenting Passageway started this challenge as “20 Days Toward More Mindful Mothering” I’m not going to attempt to do it in 20 days, but I’ll get through just fine and, hopefully, I’ll be able to write semi-regular blog posts about it!
Mindful Mama Blog CarnivalVisit the Mindful Mama Blog Carnival Homepage to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who's Been Messing With My Camera?! {Wordless Wednesday}

Earlier this week, Dulce de Leche posted a photo that one of her kids took when they got hold of her phone onto her Facebook wall. It got me thinking about all of the photos I have just like that. Why haven't I deleted them? I guess they represent a little part of growing up that I don't want to erase. So, without further ado... Surprise Photos on My Camera
The Basement?!

Blankets on the Bed

Looks like Zee from Nick Jr. on TV

Little Fingers

More Bed

Sleeping Kitty

Oldest Got the Camera

Guess Who!

I Think This is My Oldest - Weird Looking...

Umm... I Wonder Who THIS IS... (saving it for a "Why Kids Shouldn't Drink" post - JK!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Already Ordered My #Christmas Cards! {MixBook}

Good through 9/21/11:

So, I'm sure you've been hearing quite a bit about MixBook lately. Well, I'm one to think ahead. I ordered my Christmas cards from them already! Yeah, I know, I know... It's only September, but I like being prepared.

Plus, I was able to get a little creative! MixBook offers customizable products, such as photo books, photo cards, and calendars, where you can choose photos, fonts, borders, embellishments, etc. to suit your own tastes and needs. Their templates are great, but I really wanted to start from scratch and experience the whole thrill of creating my very own cards. Let me tell you - you MUST have some kind of vision of what you want before getting started because the options are endless! I got the chance to review my choice of completely customizable 5x7 flat Mixbook cards from any of the following 10 categories to review:

Wedding Invitations
Bridal Shower Invitations
Save the Date Cards
Wedding Thank You Cards
Birthday Party Invitations
Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
Engagement Party Invitations
Engagement Announcements
Photo Birth Announcements
Christmas Cards
 Here's what I came up with for this year's Christmas cards to family:
| Learn About Mixbook Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book
In addition to being able to order printed items, MixBook also offers free collaborative scrapbooking. What's this? Well, let's say you and your sister, who happens to live 1,000 miles away, want to create a photo book of family memories for your parents' 25th anniversary. You can do it on MixBook! You can invite as many people to become editors of the project as you'd like. They can upload photos and help choose creative elements. If you've ever attempted to create a photo book, you know how much work can go into a job like this - being able to share the work with someone else is amazing. Plus, if you're giving it as a gift, it can truly be from everyone!

And, if you're interested in getting started on holiday gifts and/or cards early (trust me - it's better to start early. It'll be one less thing to remember!), go over to the Mixbook Facebook page and become a fan and also follow Mixbook on Twitter. Through these two social media sites, you'll find tons of great discounts and be kept up-to-date on any new creative elements and products they add to their site. (I just saw that new Facebook fans can get anywhere from $10 to $15 off their orders just by liking them!) Oh, and Mixbook also has a blog! There, you'll find the occasional discount code (there's one right now for 25% off your order!) and helpful tips and tricks to make your experience of creating lasting photo memories even easier.

Yeah, but are they a green company???
Short answer: YEP!

But you know I can't just leave it there - I need to write and write and write!  I couldn't find much information about whether the company is eco-friendly or not. So I emailed Sara, one of the company's Customer Service Representatives (they also have Live Chat for help!) asking about this. Here's her answer to me:
"...our paper products all are processed from sustainable resources, and our Premium Silk card stock does contain 10% recycled paper products. The toner used for book text printing and calendars is non-toxic, and all our photo books and products are manufactured with 100% wind energy. Paper used for the book text is FSC certified and produced with wind power. Our hardcover board is FSC recycled and made of 100% recovered paper."
Well, there you have it! I really love that the paper comes from sustainable resources. Many times, I am told what percentage of the products are made from recycled materials, but I often wonder where the other percentage is coming from! Oh, and the wind power is just wonderful. I love seeing that more and more companies are opting to shell out a few bucks up front in order to create a more green product (and they have the foresight to know that they'll end up saving a bundle in utilities costs later!)
photo books

(Oh, and one more thing! I want to let you know that I had a small problem placing my order. Even thought their system requires you include payment information (credit card) to order, I cannot do that - I don't have credit cards! The customer service representative got with me almost immediately and had my review product shipped out right away. Now that's what I call customer service!)

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

Monday, September 19, 2011

That Week Went Fast! {Tuesday's Giveaway Linkup}

Wow - this past week has just flown by! I have over 300 emails in my inbox that I have got to attend to and three blog posts that I MUST write because I promised. Plus, there are all of the things I want to write about and then family time, crock pot meal-planning... Well, hopefully, they'll add a little more time to this week since I highly suspect that we were cheated on time last week!

Tuesday's Giveaway Linkup
Welcome to the Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up with your hosts Aimee @ Classified: Mom & Karen @ Tots and Me & Alicia @ McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts!
This link up will be posted Monday at 8 PM est. and run all week long! Make sure you stop in as often as you can to list your latest giveaways.
Here is how to use the Giveaway Link Up 1. Post your reviews and/or giveaways, as many as you have, be sure to add the end date (family friendly please) 2. Help spread the word about the giveaway link up by grabbing our button, Tweeting or posting on Facebook. (Not mandatory- but it helps get more exposure to your giveaways as well!) 3. Take a moment to enter any giveaway that strikes an interest to you! If you would  like to follow the three hostesses, we will gladly follow you back! Simply leave us a message to do so.
Thank you for linking up with  Aimee @ Classified: Mom & Karen @ Tots and Me & Alicia @  McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts! 

Boris the Spider! {Crafty Review}

Ok, so his name really isn't Boris. He's officially called "Kooky Spooky Spider", but with two kids who really love The Who and both of them knowing all of the words to "Boris The Spider" (check below for a YouTube video with lyrics - it's a great little song for kids, especially this time of year - sorry Jorje!), well... he has a new name at our house!
 Now, we didn't come up with this idea ourselves. Boris was one of the crafts that came to us from Freckles Crafts. If you aren't familiar with Freckles Crafts, read my blog post about this great company HERE. I absolutely love having Rebecca's craft kits sitting on my craft shelf. On those days when Little Guy is begging, "I want do project, Mamma! Maybe gluing or paintin' project?" and I just do NOT feel like doing it, I can grab one of the lovely bags with the Freckles Froggy on it and I know that all I have to do is sip my coffee and maybe help him out with squeezing the glue once in a while. You see, EVERYTHING you need to create each craft is included. You will not need glue, paint brushes, pipe cleaners - absolutely nothing is needed except what is in that little bag (including step-by-step instructions.)
Everything we need to make Boris!
Instructions that even Hubby could follow!

Our first job was to paint Boris' body with the little tub of black paint and the paint brush we were given. I was NOT allowed to help! Little guy had a wonderful time making sure he got paint into all of the little dips in the Styrofoam body. He kept saying, "Poke, poke, poke!" each time he dabbed the brush onto the foam.

 Now, the hardest part of any project that must be done in steps is waiting for paint or glue to dry in between. It took me a few times of listening to Little Guy whine and have fits before I had my "brilliant" idea. Why not use our hair dryer, the one no one uses for anything else, on the cool setting? Because it doesn't heat up, I can even let him use it himself (as long as I'm withing reach.) He LOVES being able to use a machine that 1) plugs into the wall, 2) makes a really loud noise, and 3) you can see/feel working. Plus, it keeps him occupied and still working on his project while he waits for the paint to dry.
See the look on his face? This is very serious work to him and I treat it as such!

Once Boris' body is dry, the rest of our project goes quickly:
Add eyes and nose, using the included glue dots...

... check to make sure his face is on straight...

... add some legs (eight to be exact!)...

... attach a string, and hang him up!

We had a wonderful time! The entire project took about 30 minutes, including drying time and pretending the googly eyes were our own eyes (you can't skip THAT step!) Little Guy only need help twice - once time for pushing the pipe cleaner legs into the foam body, and once for tying the hanging string. He's so proud of himself for being able to do every step of this project with very little help. Every morning, as he's eating his oatmeal, he says, "Goof morning, Boris!" and he tells him 'good night' before we turn out the lights at night.

We just received another package with three more crafts a couple of days ago. The hardest part about these is choosing which to do first!
Marty the Monster, Felted Owl, and Halloween Charm Necklace
The prices are just amazing! Crafts range from $1.50 to $6.75 for most. There are a few that cost more, but that is because the crafts contain more expensive components. What do I really, really want? Freckles Crafts has this very cool Craft Kit Tote for $30. It's a reusable tote (think: Hot Wheels' new home!) filled with five crafts - you can choose between girls' and boys' and all included crafts are listed. You can even include a personal gift message. I am thinking of something along the lines of, "To Alicia, because you're such an incredible blogger and crafty mommy!" (Do you think my husband reads my blog? Nah, me neither. Oh, well...)

In addition to the Freckles Crafts store, you can connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Freckles Crafts the Blog.

I received no compensation for this post. Last spring, I won a giveaway - the prize was a year's worth of crafts from Freckles Crafts. We've received NINE wonderful crafts (one for each month) and I am thankful for every one of them. I want to share this amazing store with my readers because I thank that anyone with children would benefit from having even a couple of the craft packages from Freckles Crafts laying around the house for those days when you just can't think of WHAT to do with your kid.