Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star….

A love of learning is a trait most parents wish to instill in their children. How do we do that? How do we create a foundation that they can build on as they grow? Personally, I think it’s sharing just a little bit with your child everyday. All of the little moments spent reading a favorite story, dancing, singing, taking a walk around the neighborhood to listen the birds chirping, add up to a lifetime of memories. To help us on our journey to be lifetime learners, we are using a pre-packaged monthly curriculum from http://www.mothergoosetime.com   Each month the children go an adventure exploring a new theme while learning, shapes, colors, numbers, letters, sight words, etc….

This month our theme is, “BLAST OFF TO SPACE”. ” Children will pretend to be astronauts and fly off in a homemade rocket ship. They will count the stars, create constellations and explore rock and gaseous planets. Children will make their own stargazersas they play with light and look up into the sky during this incredible space adventure. – See more at: http://www.mothergoosetime.com/monthly-themes/blast-off-to-space/#sthash.LG2fpcTm.dpuf”

Today we started our adventure into space. What do we see in the sky at night? I asked the children what are stars made of? Their answers – Rocks, sharp pokey things, the sun, light bulbs…. I explained stars are balls of gas which led to fits of giggles. Don’t say the word gas in a preschool classroom of mostly boys.

We are also exploring the monthly add-on, Dance’n Beats which will help the children learn 21 movements that increase muscle control and encourage physical fitness.

Making a difference.

@ avonwalks You will find, as you look back on your life, that the moments that stand out
are the moments when you have done things for others.” – Henry Drummond

Five years ago I was trying to figure out what I could do to make a difference. I’m a stay-at-home mom stretched too thin most days. I wanted to do something that would make my children proud. I wanted them to know their mother tried to make a difference in the world. I wanted them to remember me for more than just yelling at them to pick up their dirty socks, to brush their teeth, & to eat their vegetables.

No one cheers for me at home.

I kept seeing commercials for the Breast Cancer walks. I did not think I could really walk 40-60 miles or raise $2000+, but I decided to give it a try. My grandmother died from breast cancer when I was 8 and my Aunt had been a survivor going on 5 years. I chose to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in all honesty because it was one less day & 20 less miles than Susan G. Komen.

Grandma Currie at our last family vacation

This year will be my 4th time participating in the Chicago walk with my team, Girls Gone Miles. The only year I haven’t walked was 2010, because I was pregnant with my youngest. If you’ve ever thought about doing this DO IT! You won’t be sorry. It’s an inspirational, uplifting, life changing event. Plus the road crew is Ahh-Mazing. Even though the sweat, tears, & blisters I’ve never had so much fun!

Road Crew
How can you not love a man in a Hula Skirt & Coconut Bra?

The worst part about walking is fundraising. You are required to raise $1800 to participate. ( $2300 for Komen, another + for Avon) I Hate asking people for money. I mean I totally and completely detest it. It sucks. Even if it’s for a good cause, even if it’s tax-deductible, I don’t like it. I’m sure my facebook friends don’t like it either. I am a facebook fundraising whore. Every year my friends & family really come through for me and for the Avon Foundation. And most of them are still friends with me despite my desperate begging.

If you’ve never personally known anyone touched by breast cancer you are very lucky. 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer. Quick think of 8 women you know, which one will be affected? Will it be your best friend, mother, or daughter? Maybe it will be you? Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for women right now, and the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 55.

Last year my friend & neighbor was diagnosed with breast cancer. In her early 40’s with two young children at home she never thought cancer would happen to her. From March through November her life consisted of biopsies, tests, oncologists, nurses, doctors, chemotherapy, a mastectomy, losing her hair, reconstructive surgery and so much more. Fear that she wouldn’t see her children grown up, fear of losing her life, fear …. In the face of that fear she is one of the bravest women I have had the pleasure to know. She fought through the fear to hope. With everything she was going through she was the first person to offer a smile, a kind word, or an offer of help to those around her.

I was so overcome with emotion last year when she surprised me at the finish line. I saw her as I came up the sidewalk in front of Soldier Field sitting in her wheel chair next to my oldest daughter. It was an honor to walk for her last year and it is an honor to walk for her again this year. Please look past my crazy looking hair. Showering in a Semi-truck, sleeping in a tent, & a pony tail giving me a headache made my look for the day “crazy lady on the street, mumbling to herself”.
My hope is that one day her daughters, my daughters, your daughters will never have to hear the words, “you have cancer”.
If you’d like to learn more about the Avon Foundation for Women or the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer go to Avonwalk.org.

The Avon Foundation Breast Health Outreach Program received $5.85 million to continue supporting 120 community-based groups across the country — programs which navigated more than 125,000 people into mammography screening and clinical breast exams in 2011 and reached a half million people with critical education and information.

CancerCare
received $1 million to continue providing direct financial assistance to low-income breast cancer patients, reaching women and men in 85% of all U.S. counties and all 50 states.

Safety Net Hospitals and Support Programs: In 2011, $10.8 million was provided to 75 safety net hospitals and support programs in and beyond Avon Walk cities. Funds support upgrading equipment in breast health centers, “patient navigator” staff, nutrition programs and meals, and other support services. Navigators help women and men secure appointments and financial resources for care if low-income or uninsured. For those diagnosed with cancer, navigators help patients navigate the complex medical maze — from pathology, to surgery, to oncology, and radiation therapy — and ultimately help patients achieve survival by receiving timely and quality care.
The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation received $500,000 to support the Love/Avon Army of Women. The Army of Women is changing the way that breast cancer research is conducted – significantly reducing the time it takes to recruit research study volunteers and encouraging researchers to study the changes happening in healthy women before breast cancer develops to learn how to prevent it.
Accelerating Research Progress: $13.7 million provided to support breast cancer research across the country in 2011, with a focus on understanding the causes of breast cancer and developing new ways to prevent the disease. Funds support 43 projects at universities across the country in addition to research conducted at eight Avon Centers of Excellence for Comprehensive Breast Cancer Care and Research. Funded research projects include:
• examining role of the environment in breast cancer
• asking “could a virus cause breast cancer”
• developing new blood or urine tests to assess changes in healthy breast over time to assess risk of breast cancer
• new understanding of the causes of breast cancer, risk of the disease, and steps one could take to reduce risk
• developing new treatments for metastatic, triple-negative, inflammatory and other hard to treat breast cancers

My kids look forward to the Walk every year now. Last year was the first time they were able to come to the closing ceremony at Soldier Field. It was so fantastic to have them witness an event like this.

Bad Hair Days

We’ve all had those days- bad hair days. I know I’ve had them. Rainy, humid days where I look like I put my finger in a socket.I feel ridiculous that I paid for that look in high school. I had some insanely high, spiral permed hair. Oh, 1980’s my hair does not miss you.

When I was a little girl my grandmother would brush my hair before I left for school in the morning. As she brushed she would say, “your hair is your crowning glory”. I remember looking in the mirror after she or my mother would braid my hair saying, “my crowning glory”. I felt like a princess.

Lately I’ve been having A LOT of bad hair days. Pretty much everyday has been a bad hair day. I find that by the time I finally have a moment to do my hair and put on makeup the day has passed me by. I’ve spent the majority of the day looking like I just stepped out of a Zombie movie.

Yesterday I decided I was putting my zombie days behind me. I’ve been in a funk. Maybe not looking like the Bride of Frankenstein will help me out of it. My husband works a kijillion hours a week and his boss thinks it’s *nice* to send him out of town on his days off. I rarely ever have time to do something for myself. Everyone was home yesterday with nothing to do so, I called a salon nearby to see if they had any appointments available for the weekend. Easy Peasy? This was my conversation

Me: “Hi I was wondering if you had any appointments available today or tomorrow for a haircut?”
Salon: “Have you ever been here before?”
Me: “I think once, but it was over a year ago.” (My big mistake)
Salon: “Do you know who cut your hair?”
Me: “I don’t remember what I had for breakfast let alone who cut my hair more than a year ago. Like I said I was only there once. It doesn’t matter to me who cuts my hair. I just desperately need a hair cut.”
Salon: “Do you remember if she was tall? Did she have blonde hair?”

Geez lady I just want a haircut. I had no idea I’d be undergoing an interrogation. Obviously the stylist nor the salon left me with an indelible impression, I haven’t been back there in a year. I’ve been so desperate, I’ve cut my own hair. For the love of God I just want to get a haircut!

Salon:” Umm, hold on a second.”

I hear lots of talking in the background. “She was here a year ago, but she doesn’t know who cut her hair.”

Second woman gets on the phone. I say, “Hi I just want to schedule a cut. I don’t care who does it.”

Salon lady #2: “She said you were here a year ago. Do you remember at all who cut your hair? Was her name Tammy or Michelle?”

At this point I’m thinking this has to be some sort of a joke.

Me: “What the heck! All I want is to know if you have an appointment available? I was there ONCE, a year ago! Why does it matter?”

Salon lady #2: Okay then how about tomorrow?

Me: “On second thought I’m thinking this is a bad idea. I’ve spent 15 minutes on the phone with you interrogating me about who cut my hair a year ago.”

I called another salon who happily booked my appointment. I finally got a haircut. Why do some businesses try so hard to fail. I would have eagerly given the other salon my business if they weren’t so overly concerned with what happened a year ago.

Thankfully, I no longer look like a zombie or a victim of electrocution.

Raising Teenagers is terrifying.

You know what no one ever tells you about being a parent? A lot of the time it’s downright terrifying. I have 4 children, Paige is 19. Shane is 10, Kylie is 6, and our little guy, Brody is 17 months. When my oldest was a baby, I remember telling people I can’t wait until she’s older so I don’t have to worry so much.

Have you ever seen Terms of Endearment? Shirley McLaine’s character Aurora is a worried mom who checks on her baby every few minutes at night because she’s imagining crib death, until she wakes the baby. The baby starts screaming and Aurora says, “That’s better”. That was and is me.

No one told me there would be so much to worry about and the older they get the worse it gets. When they are little you can control their environment. Where they sleep, who holds them, what they eat, who they play with, where they go, are all up to you.

The older they get the more independent they are. It’s so much harder to keep them safe.All I want is to protect them from all the dangers of the world. I guess the secret is to just do the best you can and trust your instincts.

I worry just as much (probably more) about my 19 year old than I do about the baby. She is a really smart, beautiful girl. Sometimes she doesn’t make the best choices and most of those times it has something to do with a boy. I used to joke that she could date after she was married, when she was 35. I wish I could have made that a reality.

Life was so much simpler when I had final say in who she spent her time with. It’s so hard to see a confident, smart, young woman doubt herself, demean herself, and question herself because of a boy. As her mother I can’t say anything, because I don’t understand that he loves her.

I hope he understands that her Dad & I Love her more than words can say. We’ve dedicated our lives to building her up and I’ll be damned if I let some punk tear her down.

Now We’re Cookin’ With Gas!

As a mother of four, I won’t pass up a chance to get out of the house by myself. It’s a rare moment that I can pee with the door closed, let alone leave the house without someone clinging to my leg begging to go with. So when I was invited to a baby shower for a friend of my husbands I didn’t think twice. Sure I wouldn’t know a soul there, but no kids, lunch & drinks- I’m in. Heck, I’ve been known to hide in my bedroom closet just to get 5 minutes to myself.

My husband is good at many things. Cooking, cleaning, & taking care of kids aren’t any of those things. I knew I’d be gone past dinner time.  You’d think a grown man who is the father of four wouldn’t need to be reminded to feed his children, but he does. I have come home before to the kids telling me dad made popcorn. And that was what they ate ALL day. I left him instructions to make a frozen pizza for dinner. Seems easy enough right?

Two hours after I left the house I start getting texts and calls.

4:30 p.m. “Does the oven work?”

4:35 p.m. Um, yes. Why?

4:37 p.m. “I can’t get it to turn on.”

4:38 p.m. “Does the gas work?”

I’m getting a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach at this point. The oven worked fine this morning. What in the world could he possibly be doing.

4:40 p.m “Push the knob and turn it to the temperature on the pizza box.”

4:50 My oldest daughter calls. “Dad has out his tools. He’s hammering on the oven.”  He’s doing what, I say?  “He has out his tool box. He took the knob off and he’s trying to fix the oven.”

At this point I tell him just order a pizza or make peanut butter sandwiches. “Geez, Why can’t I leave the house without all hell breaking loose.” Now my husband is obviously angry & snapping at me, “the oven is obviously broken.” It’s not, but whatever!

Fifteen minutes later my phone rings again. My daughter, “Do we have any carpet cleaner”? What happened now, I said? “The dogs ran in from outside with mud on their paws. They ran all over the carpet in the family room. Dad is freaking out.”  I know I don’t have any carpet cleaner so I tell her I’ll pick some up on the way home. It’s just mud, I think. It will be easier to get up when it’s drier anyway. “Too late”, she says. I’m afraid to even know what that means.

I walk in the door to complete & utter chaos. There are tools all over the kitchen counter. The knob for the stove is broken in half. I walk over, push the metal part the knob fits over in and turn on the oven. Gee, it works. Shockingly, my husband didn’t realize that you have to push in the knob while you turn it. Seems pretty basic for a guy with a college degree, but I guess not. Then I turn around to see my carpet. Holy crap!! He bleached it! Yep that’s right. Plain old soap- nope, water- nope, he went straight for the hard stuff. Who in the name of all that is holy bleaches the carpet?? My darling husband that’s who.

That was a rough day. It’s one of the many reasons I’m so happy I found e-mealz.com. Now not only do I always know what I’m making for dinner. I can make it ahead of time so my husband can reheat it in the microwave – not the oven. E-mealz gives you a week of quick and easy recipes with a shopping list that can be tailored to your diet or even the stores you shop at.

As far as getting some “me” time, I’ll be hiding in my closet if you need me.

eMeals - Easy Meals for Busy People!

My life as June Cleaver- or not.

As I was scrapping the peanut butter off the wheels of my sons Cozy Coupe  police car this morning I was remembering back to what I thought it would be like to be a stay-at-home mom.

When I made the choice to be a stay-at-home mommy I thought life would be so easy.  As I sat in Chicago’s notorious rush hour traffic fighting to make my way home after a long day at work, I daydreamed about what life would be like once I was at home all day.  I would be June Cleaver.  Blissfully sending my children off to school with homemade lunches, notes tucked inside after preparing an amazing breakfast of Star wars themed pancakes, fresh-picked berries, & freshly squeezed juice. The little ones & I would spend our days at the park, having picnics before returning for naps. I would quickly clean my spotless house and then prepare a hearty meal for my family to enjoy.

Hahaha, was I wrong.  I quickly learned that staying at home was much more work than I thought  it would be. Since I was at home everyone had something for me to do- for them- since, you know- I’m at home, with nothing to do. Doctors appointments, fundraisers, room mom, team mom, cub scout mom,  cheer mom, shopping, internet detective, chauffeur….  Not only is there something to do every waking minute of the day there are children in my house all day, messy children.

The dream I had of this spotless home quickly vanished. Within the first month I realized that since we were at the house all day, we were making a mess all day. Playing, baking, breakfast, lunches, laundry, dogs out, dogs in, kids out, kids in. Grass, mud, bugs in & out of the house all day long. My reality is frozen waffles, hoping I remembered to buy milk, & the local pizza place on speed dial.

I wouldn’t trade any of it though. There are some days that I tell my husband, Jim, that I would happily trade with him and go to work everyday. I wouldn’t though. I like my messy, chaotic life.

Review Hill’s® Science Diet® Ideal Balance™ cat and dog food

 

I received a bag of Hill’s Science Diet Ideal Balance Grain Free dog food from Bzzagent.com.

When I opened the bag I noticed the color which was darker & richer looking than the dog food I normally feed my dogs, Flash & Marley. The smell of the food was not overpowering. The kibble size was small. I like that since our Boston Terrier, Marley, prefers the smaller size kibble.  Both dogs seem to enjoy the food and neither one have had any issues with changing foods.

Here are the facts:

ill’s® Science Diet® Ideal Balancecat and dog food contains the perfect balance of natural ingredients to keep your friend in tip-top shape — no wonder it has the PetMD seal of approval.

NNEW Hill’s® Science Diet® Ideal Balance Grain Free dog food

  • Formulated for easier digestion
  • Features fresh chicken as the 1st ingredient
  • Free of corn, artificial colors and preservatives
  • Free of artificial colors and preservatives

Our pets are an important part of our family.  It’s important to me to feed them well so they can live a happy, healthy life.

Compare your dog or cats food on hillspet.com/idealbalance (for both dog & cats) There you  can compare your current food to Ideal Balance and download the free bag rebate.