Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sweet Mady's Newsletter

Do you love Sweet Mady's as much as I do? Well head on over to Michelle's blog and sign up for her newsletter. She will be distributing her next newsletter on Friday and will be sharing a discount code with all her loyal customers. What is even sweeter is she is going to give away a set of personalized stationery to a blogging buddy who posts about her newsletter and links up to her site. Click here to visit the Sweet Mady's Paper store or find her under Mom Stuff's Favorites in the left column of my blog. Go on over there, shop a little (or a lot) and sign up for the newsletter so you'll keep up to date with what's new at Sweet Mady's.

Tame at the Game--Tuesday Toots

It is Tuesday again and time for Tuesday Toot Me! Today's toot is simple--not as dramatic as my previous weeks. This past Saturday, Grayson had his first soccer game. He's only 5 and has never played before. Now you should know that my husband and I are very competitive people by nature (and nurture I think). We both played sports competitively growing up, and we were both good at them. We both excelled in academics as well, and so we grew up to become very competitive people. We just can't help it. We can turn anything into a competition and we both hate losing. Hey, at least we can admit it. My worst fear though was that I was going to be one of those moms that you roll your eyes at and talk about at the soccer fields. You know the ones--the ones who scream at their kids for not being in the right position or for missing a goal. The ones who yell at the referee and jump up and down all around and in general make a big scene. Like I said--it was my biggest fear to be one of those moms.

Toot Toot-- I WAS NOT one of those moms. I was tame at the game (well relatively). I admit I was by far the loudest at cheering-- but they were all positive cheers and they were for all the kids on the team, not just mine. But I do admit I was loud so you may have rolled your eyes and giggled at me a little bit. I did jump up and down some and run up and down the sidelines a bit. And I did take the most pictures and video too. But I swear I never crossed the white line painted on the field--not even when Grayson was goal keeper and I needed a better angle for a shot of him stopping a goal. So I'm tooting my horn for not turning into one of those psycho moms at the soccer field. I am trying my best. Toot Toot.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Let It All Hang Out?


Today's post is a little different--it's actually a question.
We took the kids to Sea World yesterday to meet up with some friends who are here in Orlando on vacation. Taylor fell asleep in the stroller so everyone else went ahead to the Shamu Believe show while I headed over to the Underwater viewing area seeking a bench and some shade to keep Taylor and me as comfortable as possible in the 90 degree heat.

As Taylor slept and I sat staring at the empty tank of blue water, a young lady with a baby came and sat next to me. She fed the baby Gerber fruit, changed the baby's diaper on her lap, and then proceeded to lift her shirt and breastfeed the baby. Now it wasn't very crowded where we were, but there were still a lot of people and the bench we were on was right in the center of the tank so everyone walking by got a good look at what she was doing. She wasn't exactly trying to be discreet. There was a baby blanket in the stroller she could have used to cover up with, but she didn't use it. She just lifted up her shirt and let that boobie hang out for the baby to latch on to and fed with her shirt up and breast exposed for a good half hour. I was trying very hard to pretend like I didn't know what she was doing, but the gawkers walking by pointed and gasped. But they didn't seem to bother this lady.

Now let me just say, I breastfed both my children. And yes, I even did it in public many times. After all, when a baby's got to eat, a baby's got to eat. But I never just let it all hang out like that. I had a breastfeeding cover up that snapped around my neck and draped over my entire front side to ensure privacy. The cover just looked like a baby blanket so anyone would have thought that the baby was just sleeping and was covered. I'm sure you breastfeeding moms know the product (or a similar one) that I'm talking about. Anyway, this lady had nothing like that. She really did just lift up her shirt exposing her breast for all the Sea World visitors to see. After the first few gawkers, I almost turned to tell her that Sea World has Nursing Stations in several locations so that she would have more privacy. But then I saw her look her gawkers straight in the eyes as if to say "Yep, I'm breastfeeding my baby. Yes you can see my boob. So what!" (Man, I wish I had half of her confidence.) So I just pushed Taylor in the stroller for a bit until she left the bench and then went back to sit and enjoy the shade and the empty tank and more peoplewatching.

So my question for you moms out there is:

Do you think breastfeeding in public should be discreet or is it ok to let it all hang out?

Leave me a comment. I'd love to hear what you all have to say about this one.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fashion Friday- Handbag Planet

As a stay at home mom, I find myself wearing shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops, and a pony tail with a diaper bag across my shoulder every day. It may be comfortable, but it gets old. Just like most girls, I get that urge to really dress up every now and again, but mostly I just want to update my everyday wardrobe and look into some of the fashion trends I may have been missing out on.
So where do I start? With a handbag of course. And I came across a "Fabulous Find" over at Sweet Mady's--a handbag giveaway. So I looked into it, signed myself up and I'm sharing it with you so you can too!

Handbag Planet is giving away 24 handbags in 24 hours to celebrate the launch of their new website on October 15th. Head on over to their site and sign up--no strings attached--it is absolutely free.

Let me give a quick shout out to Michelle over at Sweet Mady's Paper for the lovely post today about my Gift Buckets. You've got me seriously thinking about starting up my business again. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gift Buckets-Craft Sharing

I have to admit that even though I love the end result of craft projects, I'm NO Martha Stewart. I'm not crafty--I just don't have that "crafty" gene that some women have. I love all the fabrics, papers, stamps, ribbons, etc. but I don't have the desire to sit down to a craft project and complete it. There is only one real "crafty" hobby I have and so in an effort to explore my crafty side and become--well, more crafty--I am going to try to share a craft with everyone each week. This week I am going to share with you my one crafty hobby--GIFT BUCKETS.
I love making my gift buckets. When we lived in Georgia, I opened my own business making these unique and special gifts. We moved to California and then again to Florida (where we are now) and it just got to be too much to keep up with so now it's back to being my hobby. But I love this craft so much that I want to share it with you all.

Making a gift bucket is very much like making a gift basket--except you are using a bucket. My favorite sizes to use are the 2 quart pails, 10 quart pails, 16 quart pails and wash tubs.

Supplies you will need:
gift items
glue dots
cellophane gift bag
gift card/tag

Here are the steps to making a basic gift bucket:

Step 1-
First, decide on the products you will be placing in the gift bucket and create your color scheme from there.

Step 2-
Fill your bucket with crumpled paper so everything won't sink to the bottom. Then cover your paper with shreds. You want your gifts to stand up and be seen so the recipient with go "Wow!" when they see it.

Step 3-
Arrange the gifts into the bucket so that they can all be seen. It usually works best to put taller items in the back and smaller items in the front. It may take several arrangements to find the perfect one. Once you've got it, use glue dots to keep items in place.
Step 4-
Fill in gaps between items with shreds. You can also use shreds to make items stand up better.

Step 5-
Place bucket inside a clear cellophane gift bag. Pull up the sides getting rid of the trapped air. Tie off the top with a rubberband and cover the band with raffia ribbon.

Step 6-
Top it off with a decorative bow, tying the ribbon around the band tightly to be sure it is secure.
Add your gift card, deliver and enjoy the look on the person's face when they see their beautiful, CRAFTY gift bucket that you made especially for them by hand.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

118 Pounds to 178 and Back!

Wow, it is time again for Tuesday Toot Me. I hadn't realized it'd been a week since my last post until I sat down to begin writing this one. Sorry I fell off the blogging scene for a few days, but I've been out of town visiting family who live so far out in the country that they spell it "Kun-tree" and they only have dial up. So anyway, I've been thinking hard about what I should toot my own horn about today and like I said last week, it has been harder to do this week. Anyway...

Here's my toot.
I weighed 118 pounds when I got pregnant with Taylor. The day she was born I weighed in at a whopping 178 pounds (see my misery in the photo). I gained 60 pounds--that is about 25 or 30 more than what my doctor recommended. Yes, I weighed in at each doctor's visit and I knew how much I was gaining. I couldn't help it. Food just tastes so good when you're pregnant. I loved my three or four bowls of Snickers ice cream every night. Oh and fast food galore!! I swear my husband was on a first name basis with several McDonald's and Wendy's workers I sent him on so many fast food runs when I was pregnant. Forget weird cravings--I just loved food--any food--period. And so I put on the pounds and like a big dummy was grinning the whole time as I was thinking "Oh it'll come right off just like it did after I had Grayson." Ha HA HA! I wish. The baby came, months went by, but the weight wasn't going away as fast as I was so sure it would. And so-- the get skinny plan came to be. Eat well. Exercise often. Simple, eh? Yeah, yeah I know-but it really is. It just took me two years to follow through long enough to see the results I wanted.

But I'm there.

I am 3 pounds away from weighing what I weighed when I got pregnant with Taylor. It has taken me two years of trying to eat healthy and trying to get as much exercise as I can, and I am proud to say that I've done a pretty good job. It has been slow to lose the last ten pounds or so, but it is happening. My goal is to return to my pre-baby weight of 115. But I'm realistic. I know I will never have the same body shape or fit into some of my pre-baby clothes. I won't get rid of my saggy left breast that my children favored or the silvery stretch marks that run vertically around my belly button or my c-section pouch as I call it (that flab of skin that hangs over the incision scar), but I can live with all that. It's nothing a good padded, lift up bra, a one-piece swim suit and some of those girdle panties won't cure.

115 pounds---here I come!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Toot of a Bedrest Survivor

In searching the blogosphere to get acquainted with other bloggers out there, I came across a neat little idea that MommyCommunity.com came up with called "Tuesday Toot Meme". You sign up for the group and promise to read and comment on all the participants' blogs. The great thing about these blogs is Mamas use each Tuesday as an opportunity to toot their own horn. I love this idea because it seems that women--especially moms--find it difficult to pat themselves on the back. We can tell you how great our kids are and what their latest accomplishments are but when it comes to us, we struggle to think of anything. I am guilty of this too. It took me quite a while to come up with what I was going to write about today and I'm sure it will be even more difficult next Tuesday. But as the weeks go by, I'm hoping that it will become easier and I will be able to realize my accomplishments as a woman, a wife and a mother. I hope the same for you.

Here's my toot...

In August of 2002 I discovered I was pregnant with my son Grayson. I had already been reading all the books I could find on how you should care for your body during pregnancy--what you should eat, how you should exercise, etc. I did everything I was supposed to--period. After my 12 weeks doctor visit, they told me that everything looked great and that I was in the clear of that "danger zone" when typically miscarriages occur. I felt wonderful, and I was on cloud 9.

However at sixteen weeks pregnant, I had a partial placental abruption where for some unknown reason the placenta begins to tear away from the wall of the uterus. I was bleeding and the doctors couldn't tell me what was going to happen. All I could think about was the possibility of losing my baby. At that emotional trip to the doctor's office, I was told point blank by the doctor "If you lose it, you lose it. You can have another one." I was crushed. I didn't want another one. I wanted my baby that I had inside my body right then. As the doctor was about to walk out the door, I stopped her and said, "Wait. You tell me what I can do to save THIS baby." She proceeded to tell me a bunch of what I call "doctor crap" and basically told me it was just best to not worry about it and let nature take its course. Of course, that wasn't good enough and suddenly I felt the urge to blurt out "What about bed rest? Would that work?" To my disbelief, she looked straight at me and said, "you would be willing to do that?" I said, "Yes. Of course. Anything to keep this baby." She still told me that it wasn't a guarantee that bedrest would work, but she did say that it would be the best thing to try. So she pulled out her little prescription pad and wrote me a note to take to work saying I would be on complete bedrest until I delivered the baby. Now quitting work was the easiest thing I had to do at that moment. Worrying about money (along with everything else) was completely turned over to my husband's list of duties. My new job was to stay in bed and let my body do the rest.

Yes, bed rest was awful. I only left the bed to use the bathroom and brush my teeth. I bathed only every three days. I had a mini-fridge by the bed. Skipper fixed me breakfast before he left for work. His mother came to make my lunch, do a few things around the house, and take me to the doctor each week- sometimes twice a week. My parents would come to clean the house when they could. Basically, everybody pitched in and I am so grateful for such a wonderful family. But still, bed rest was awful. When I was alone was the worst. My mind would wander and it always led me down that horrible path of thinking about having to give birth to a dead baby. I think I cried every single day for five months.

Then one day as I was sitting on the bench in the shower, crying and praying and washing my hair at the same time--I just stopped. It was like I was being forced to be calm by a power much greater than me. I got out of the shower and was drying off when these words came into my mind ---"I have you and I've had you all along." I tear up even now as I think back to that moment. God's peace came over me and for the first time during my pregnancy, I let God take care of my baby instead of thinking I could do it myself. I didn't cry again until I had tears of joy when I heard my son being pulled from my body in the operating room. He was nearly three weeks early and while it wasn't an emergency c-section, it was dramatic with its scary moments. But he was perfectly healthy weighing a whopping 9 lbs. 4 oz. Pure joy! I survived, my baby survived and even though I give all the credit to God, I'm going to toot my horn for listening to Him and obeying Him. So TOOT TOOT!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Books for your Little Ones

Well it seems that everyone around me is either having a baby or just popped one out. Family, friends and neighbors are celebrating new arrivals back to back to back. Now most of my family and friends already have children so this post may or may not help them out. The books I am going to mention are classic tales and are very popular. This post is for my friends who are new to motherhood or will be soon.
I've had several friends ask me what books I recommend they purchase in order to start their baby's library. As a mom of two children, a former English teacher and an aspiring children's book author, my short list consists of five classic titles and I must say that I weigh heavily upon the fact that my two children have loved all five of these books since birth and still don't go a day without reading at least two of them during our nightly routine of reading before bedtime.

Here is the list, and it is ordered based on what I recommend going from youngest (birth) to oldest (age 5).

#1- Goodnight Moon by Margarent Wise Brown This is a classic, rhyming bedtime story. It is a picture book in which your child will love looking at the bunny, the cow, the bears, the kittens, and that elusive little mouse hiding in different spots around the room. This is a great first book for a baby.

#2- The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This is a classic tale of a little caterpillar's journey (eating alot of food along the way) to becoming a butterfly. This picture book teaches the days of the week and counting with its repetition and rhythm. This is an excellent choice for young children as well as preschoolers and kindergarteners. My son has had this book memorized since he was 18 months old (I know it's hard to believe, but he has always been a very verbal child) and he is also reading it now in his Kindergarten class at school. It's just one of those books that all young children love.

#3- Dr. Seuss's ABC by Dr. Seuss
I'm not sure Dr. Seuss even needs an introduction, but just in case-- in this book, he teaches the ABC's with rhyming and alliteration along with his world-famous humor and creative illustrations. With lines like "Ten tired turtles on a tuttle-tuttle tree" and "Willy Waterloo washes Warren Wiggins who is washing Waldo Woo," your child will be giggling and reciting this book before you know it.

#4- The Little Engine That Could retold by Watty Piper
This generations-old classic tale of the tiny engine's dedication to climbing up the mountain with its heavy load is just as endearing as it was when I read it as a child over 25 years ago. Your child will love the adorable illustrations as you read the "chug, chug, chug" and "puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong" of the little train. Your child will be chanting "I think I can-I think I can-I think I can" right along with you and will be sure to learn the book's timeless message of not giving up.

#5- The House that Jack Built by Jeanette Winter
This book is full of rhyme, repetition, humor and cute illustrations that will have your child saying, "Read it again ,Mama, read it again." With its nursery rhyme style, it is easy to follow and your child will remember each and every page with visual clues and repitious lines. This is a book your little one is sure to love.

Now that I have listed my top five books for you, please know that there are just too many good books to list in this one post. We have shelf after shelf of books that my kids love. And for you new moms out there, soon enough you will too. Once your child is old enough to have a special interest, you will find yourself thumbing through twenty or so books on trains like I do with my son. And with each new interest will come more books--cars, sharks, Star Wars--you get my picture. My recommendation is to head over to your library or your favorite book store and start with the classics. If you need help, just ask. Or you can also visit http://www.kidsreads.com/lists/pic-classic.asp#topfor book lists that are sure to get you started.
Happy reading!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Naked Girl Wears Panties

Finally, it has happened. Our two year old daughter Taylor is wearing her panties. No, she isn't potty trained completely. But for the past couple of months, it seems she has always been naked. Yes, I said naked. A naked two year old running around the house can be cute at first and then you just laugh a little when a few weeks go by and think in the back of your mind, "Will this kid ever pee pee and poo poo in the potty if she puts clothes back on?"

Somehow on the route to potty training, it came about that Taylor would go potty every time--NO ACCIDENTS- if and only if--she was naked. So with the thought that I could let her go naked for a couple of days to let the potty successes stick with her, I allowed her to go nude. After all, it's just us girls here at home during the day. Well, a couple of days has turned into a couple of months. (Fortunately some of that time she would at least wear a t-shirt.)But today we had a breakthrough. For weeks now after Taylor would go potty, I would have the pullups and the panties ready, but she would refuse both. But today, finally, when she climbed down from her potty stool, she looked right up at me and said, "Princess panties Mama?" I was so thrilled that I squealed with delight. She put on those panties and wore them the rest of the day with no accidents. Wooohooo Taylor!

Now I have no idea how we will complete the potty training process. (It was completely different with my son). She is still in a diaper at night and during naptime. But for now, I am relishing in our small victory. Our naked girl wears panties!

Sweet Italian Sausage Quiche--So Easy and So Good

So I decided that my daughter Taylor's 2nd birthday this year should be a Birthday Brunch since we had family visiting us the weekend of her birthday, and they would need to leave early that day to head back home. I had never hosted a brunch and so the mad search for recipes began. I wanted a variety, and I wanted to be sure I would have things other than Publix's donuts for the kids to eat. In my searching, I came across a recipe for a quiche. It wasn't quite what I was looking for, but it was close--so I changed it up a little and made it my own. It was a big hit at the party, and I have made it so many times now that I've got it down to perfection. I've even got a secret tip for you, but you'll have to read to the end to find out what it is. Here is the recipe.

Sweet Italian Sausage Quiche

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
4 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup sour cream
2 frozen, unbaked pie shells

Set out pie shells to thaw. Squeeze sausage from its casing onto skillet sprayed with non-stick spray. Fry sausage meat, scrambling it into small pieces. Drain. In a bowl, mix eggs and milk. Add cheeses, sour cream and cooked sausage to the bowl and mix together. Pour into thawed pie shells and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Ovens vary so watch closely.

The key ingredient to this recipe is the Sweet Italian Sausage. This quiche just isn't the same if you substitute regular breakfast sausage. And now here is that tip I promised you--bake the quiches the night before so you don't have to get up an hour before everybody else and cook. Bake them, let them cool completely, cover them with some aluminum foil and place in the fridge. The next morning you can either reheat them in the oven or serve onto plates and reheat them in the microwave. We wake up hungry in the mornings so we usually use the microwave method, and the quiche takes great. So leave the cereal boxes in the pantry and try something different one morning. Or if you are like us and like having breakfast for supper on occasion, you'll love this quiche so much you'll eat it for supper too.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Suave Kids Body Wash and 2 in 1 Shampoo for our Stinky Little Kids

This is especially for the moms who have little boys who have reached the age in which they have become stinky, sweaty little monsters. My son Grayson has just reached this milestone. I blame it on the Florida heat and humidity that causes you to sweat if you step foot outside. Combine that with the fact that he has PE at school and is playing soccer now, and we have us a stinky, sweaty little monster living with us. He is sweaty, his clothes are stinky and his room has become a magnet for odor. While I have been tempted to spray him down with the same Lysol disinfectant spray I use on his room, I have discovered the Suave line of products for kids and love them enough to use them instead.

The body wash is fantastic and the shampoo is amazing. Every single fragrance they offer smells wonderful, but Grayson's favorites are the shampoos--Wild Watermelon, Orange Mango Outburst and Cowabunga Coconut (which is also my favorite). The body wash produces a lot of lather with just a small bit on a sponge. And the Suave 2 in 1 Shampoo has a rich, creamy lather that suds up thick and quick, but rinses out of Grayson's longer, thicker hair easily. The bottles are kid friendly too. The lids are secure enough that Taylor (age 2) can't open them too easily, but Grayson(age 5) can-- so he can squirt out the body wash and shampoo himself which is helping him learn to bathe himself now. Another great quality the Suave kids products have is that they have the same tear-free formulas that the baby products have. I was concerned at first about using the shampoo on my daughter because she is still so young, but we haven't had a problem. The shampoo doesn't irritate her eyes at all. It really is tear-free. If these reasons aren't enough to get you to try the Suave kids products, maybe the low prices will. Suave is almost always the least expensive name brand item on the shelf. I have found the shampoo for as little as $1.99.

With all that being said, my new favorite time of day is late in the evening when everyone has had a bath, they smell wonderful, and we snuggle together in Grayson's bed for reading time before bed time. They aren't stinky, sweaty little monsters anymore. I pull my children close and take a big whiff of their hair and smile as I relish in their cleanliness and fragrance.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sea World's Best

Since moving to Orlando in March of this year, we have been to Sea World so many times that I've lost count. The kids absolutely love this park, and we do too. In addition to season passes at Sea World, we purchased season passes to Universal. But the kids (ages 5 and 2) prefer Sea World hands down. If you've never been to Sea World, you will be surprised to know that this park is so much more than the Shamu show. I'm going to list for you what we consider to be Sea World's best.

First, lets cover the shows. Sea World wouldn't be Sea World without Shamu so our #1 show pick is Believe. This show features the amazing performance of the Sea World cast--including the great Shamu and other whales. Our #2 pick of shows is Blue Horizons. This show is full of action. It has dolphins, whales, birds, actors/divers and acrobats. The show you can skip is Clyde and Seamore which is supposed to be funny, but isn't. The only entertaining aspect of this show is seeing the seals perform.

Next, lets cover the attractions. Yes, Sea World has rides in addition to their animal attractions. For most of the animal attractions, we recommend you briefly go through them as you head towards the rides and shows throughout the day. Some animal attractions however, you shouldn't miss and you shouldn't rush through. Our favorite animal attractions are the Baby Dolphin exhibit, the Key West Dolphin and Stingray exhibits and the Shark Encounter. As for rides, we recommend Journey to Atlantis and Kraken for big kids and adults. Atlantis is a water coaster ride and Kraken is a floorless coaster.
For the little ones in the family, head over to Shamu's Happy Hour. I can't say enough about this play area for children. It is spectacular if you have young children who aren't ready for the bigger rides at other parks. There have been times we have gone to Sea World and spent the day in this one area of the park. There are several rides--teacups that spin as you fly in the air, a sea creature carousel, regular tea cups that scramble you around slowly, a rocking and spinning boat ride and the Shamu kiddie coaster. There is also a giant rope climbing gym and underneath it, giant sand boxes stocked with toys and dump trucks and lounge chairs for parents to sit in as the kids play. As if all this wasn't enough, there is a fun little water play area for the kids to splash in. Sea World certainly had small children in mind when they designed this play area. There is easy access to restrooms, baby care areas, and food and snacks. And to top it all off--this is the cleanest kiddie play area I have ever seen at a park. Way to go Sea World---moms love clean!

Lastly, we should discuss the restaurants and refreshments. We have gone both ways-expensive and cheap. I have to say the most over-rated restaurant is the Sharks Underwater Grill. Yes, it is neat to eat next to an aquarium of sharks and the air conditioning is nice. But the food is way over priced and not that great. Skipper had ahi tuna, and he says it was just ok. I had crab cakes that were drenched in so much Old Bay seasoning that I could hardly take more than a couple of bites. The service wasn't nearly as good as we expected it to be and so overall, I don't recommend this restaurant. There are other restaurants that have air conditioning and aren't nearly as pricey. We enjoyed the sandwiches and burgers at the Seafire Inn and watched the Wild Things show while we ate. We have also gotten quick bites and spent less money at Mango Joe's which was good. We have yet to try The Cove which is the restaurant that lets you dine with Shamu, but I am sure we will in the near future and I will keep you posted. Keep in mind that you can also pack small snacks and even juices and waters in that diaper bag you are carrying into the park. We have learned to pack plenty of peanut butter crackers, fruit snacks and such along with a sports thermos filled with ice water and apple juice for the kids and a couple of frozen bottles of water for us. These snacks and drinks last us more than half the day.

As you can probably tell, we are quite fond of Sea World. It has quickly become our favorite theme park so far. Of course, we haven't done Disney yet. We've planned for Disney season passes to be our entertainment for next year. And believe me, I'm sure when Taylor sees those princesses and dines at Cinderella's castle, we'll have another favorite.

*For more information about Sea World, visit www.seaworld.com.

V8 Fusion for All your Fruits and Veggies

Did you get all your servings of fruits and vegetables today? Did your children get all of theirs? If you are like my family, some days we struggle with the actual consumption of the recommended 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables. The reason I say we struggle with the actual consumption is because in all honesty, I try my hardest to always offer my children their fruits and veggies when fixing their meals. However, they rarely eat all that they should. Fruits aren't nearly as tough to get them to eat. But veggies are another story. It's ok though because Mama's got a new trick up her sleeve and it is all thanks to V8's new product--V8 Fusion juice.

In one 8 ounce glass/sippy cup, V8 Fusion gives a full serving of fruits and a full serving of vegetables. Did you catch that? A full serving of BOTH in one cup full. V8 Fusion is 100% juice and is packed full of antioxidants A, C and E plus. It has no added sugar and really does taste like a fruit juice. Take it from a girl who can not stand the regular V8 tomato juice. V8 Fusion doesn't taste like that at all. It is fruity and sweet-just like a fruit juice. It is a little thicker than other juices such as Welch's, but my kids don't seem to mind. We love almost all the flavors too. Our favorites are the Strawberry Banana, Peach Mango and the Tropical Orange. They even have V8 Fusion Light which has fewer calories but still offers the same nutritious servings of fruits and vegetables.

So Mama's new trick is to serve V8 Fusion with lunch and supper, and you don't leave the table until your juice is gone. I've never had a single objection from Grayson or Taylor when I say, "Drink your juice and then you can be done." I can rest assured that they each get at least two servings of fruits and vegetables from their juice at meal times in addition to the green beans and pears that are on their plates.

Thank you, V8. You've made this mom's job a little easier and her kids a lot happier.

Corn Chowder for the Crew

For the moms like me who live in SEC country, you know that every Saturday during football season is Game Day and whether you are watching the Georgia Bulldogs play (like we are) or some other team, the day is devoted to football, friends and food. Many Saturdays you find yourself hosting a small crowd and I'm not just talking about your husband and your kids. If your husband is like mine, he likes to watch the game with friends. And if the friends aren't available that day, you still have to have the food. So here is a recipe that is easy, delicious and feeds a crowd. Your husband will love it. His friends will love it. And most importantly, your kids will probably even eat it.

Corn Chowder*
serves 20

1 diced red bell pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced yellow bell pepper
1 medium diced onion
4 stalks diced celery
1 small can undrained cream style corn
1 small can undrained whole kernal corn
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 qt chicken stock
1 qt whipping cream
2 cups roux (50/50 ratio of fat and flour)
3/4 cup sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, saute the peppers, onion, celery, corn, cayenne pepper, black pepper and bay leaves--sweating the vegetables. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Add the roux and simmer 10 - 15 minutes. Gradually add the heavy cream as you stir. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

*This recipe is an adaptation of the recipe for Corn and Crab Chowder found at Flamingo Cafe in Destin, Florida. To create the original recipe, simply add desired amount of crab upon serving the chowder. We tried the recipe both ways and prefer the corn chowder minus the crab.

I made a pot of this chowder a couple of weeks ago and shared it with our Georgia Southern alumni neighbors who also loved it. They are a family of five and we are a family of four--and we were all still eating on it days later. Each day it tasted better and better because the ingredients had time to come together so feel free to make this ahead of time, store it in the fridge and warm it up before the guests arrive. This is one of those great dishes to make on game days, over winter vacation or anytime you are entertaining a crowd. Try it--you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Frog Pod

I have promised you all that I would begin posting reviews of some of my favorite baby/toddler products, and one of my favorites is the Frog Pod. And new to the Boon family of products is the Frog Pod's sister-- the Bug Pod (a ladybug). For those of you who haven't fallen in love with the Boon line of baby gear, check out the website at www.booninc.com. The genius behind the Boon designs is Rebecca Westover Finell (a fellow native of Newnan, Georgia.) She has created the ultimate bath tub organizer that both children and parents will love. I love everything about the Frog Pod--from it large scoop that drains water as it picks up tub toys to its shelf for shampoo. And let's not forget the frog's widespread toes that are perfect for hanging a sponge. The Frog Pod is easily mounted on the tub wall. Just follow the instructions carefully so that the Frog Pod will remain mounted (you really do have to use the alcohol.) Priced at around $35, the Frog Pod can be found at a variety of stores including Target and Babies R Us. It makes a great baby shower gift so keep it in mind. For all you expectant moms--- register for the Frog Pod. You will love it.

Expectant Moms- Make your Birth Plans

It is only fitting to open this blog with a post announcing the birth of my sixth nephew Harrison Adams Camp. Harrison was born September 8, 2008. He was 8 pounds 2 ounces and is a real cutie. Both mom and baby are doing well and recovering nicely. I am eager to start posting useful information for moms everywhere so I will start here with a recommendation that has come from Ashly's experience having Harrison. During Ashly's labor, she requested to have an epidural. However, the anesthesiologist did not get to her quickly enough and so she ended up having Harrison without the epidural. My advice--request the epidural sooner than later. Have it in your birth plan if you know in advance that you will want an epidural.
Of course I know there is the whole debate over the use of epidurals and other forms of pain managment during childbirth. My stance on this debate is that every woman is different and should seek the recommendation of her doctor when deciding the details of her birth plan. Having said that, make a birth plan! Creating a birth plan with your doctor is the ideal way to make an informed decision on the way you want your labor and delivery to go. Include what types of pain management you would like to have. Even if you are planning an all natural child birth, things may change when you are actually in labor and so you need to be able to articulate to your doctor what you want and when you want it. Know what your doctor knows. Ask questions. If you want to know when it will be too late to get an epidural, ask. Most moms will tell you that giving birth- especially if it is your first child- is not only physically strenuous but also emotionally strenuous. It can be difficult to think clearly and make decisions quickly once labor progresses. Having a birth plan and sharing it in detail with your doctor will put your mind at ease.
Now Ashly is one of those women who barely makes a sound or a grimace when giving birth. Having seen her give birth (with an epidural) to her two other sons Jackson and Jefferson, I have seen this woman in pain and I don't know how she makes it seem so easy. So don't worry too much about her lack of the epidural. From what she told me, she simply grabbed Bob's arm and grunted through it. She's Superwoman! But at the end of the day, she recommended the epidural.
I hope this post (along with the many more to come on a variety of topics) helps moms everywhere. God bless you all!