Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine's Day Ideas for Kid Exchanges

I was looking for quick and easy ideas for Abby's preschool Valentine's Day card exchange and came across these:

Last year, I printed a simple clip art picture on a small white bag, put an organic treat inside and tied it with a ribbon.  A picture of the bags can be found here.

Rocket Candy Valentine 

Hershey’s Kiss mice 

Lollipop Flowers

Tiny Prints has some wonderful 'Classroom Valentine's'.  Now it's getting hard to decide what I am going to do for Abby this year... 

Martha Stewart's Patterned Paper Wrap ideas (think wrapping a couple pieces of gum in pretty Valentine's scrapbook paper).  I might just use this idea this year.  

These Sweet Strawberry Valentine's from Green Apple Orchard are super cute!  

Lots of Valentine Printables over at Skip to my Lou..  

Another Martha idea.  This is called the Sweet Spot Hearts.  She cuts hearts shapes out of the retro candy dots and construction paper.  So cute! 

A box of conversation hearts for each child.  They are still $0.20 a box, right?

Character (Dora, Mickey, etc..) valentine's cards from the local Target store with a Valentine candy taped to the card.  Simple and inexpensive. 

Blank cards from Paper Source or cut some from construction paper.  Get out the art supplies from your art drawer/box, some glue and let your child go to town for some truly handmade Valentine's.

Have you made Valentine's for your children?  What was your favorite?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: "Parenting is a Contact Sport"

My approach to parenting is simple: The act of having children does not make me a good parent.  I must educate myself so I mess them up in the least detrimental ways possible.

It is important to me that I do my part to raise my children to be confident, educated, loving, compassionate and secure.  We as parents shape our children’s future in every interaction we have with them.  We can chose to continue the parenting practices of our parents or change the course, for better or worse. 

I have ordered many parenting books over the past few years and have taken bits and pieces from them.  The first parenting book that I read cover to cover was “Parenting is a Contact Sport: 8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids for Life” by Joanne Stern PhD.  I finished it just yesterday.

Dr. Stern doesn’t tell you how to deal with situations step by step, but gives excellent examples of how she dealt with issues throughout her own children's lives in support of the 8 ways to stay connected to your kids principles.  Also includes are patient stories of how interactions with their parents shaped their lives in a negative way.  Some of these stories are heart breaking.  I never want my own children to feel like these patients, as a result of how I have interacted with them.    

The key concepts in the book support the notion that if you “build a relationship with your children that’s so strong, nothing will sever it”.  The 8 ways to build this relationship Dealing with Feelings in Your Family, Giving your Kids a Sense of Belonging, Boosting Your Kids’ Self Esteem and Teaching Your Kids About Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll. 

We as parents really do have a profound impact on the future of our children.  Much like we have to study for a driver’s license test or a college entrance exam, we should also arm ourselves with knowledge and tools to enable their happiness for the rest of their lives.  This book will go a long way toward doing just this. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

For Parents Taking Small Children to Restaurants...

Based solely on my experience, I offer up the following things to keep in mind when you take small children to restaurants:

1.) Set expectations low

2.) Tip well

3.) Apologize to the wait staff several times

4.) Consider it a success if the number of times a child cries is less than 3

5.) Expect your child to eat less than half of what you ordered for them

6.) Crawling under the table is perfectly acceptable behavior in the eyes of a 3 year old

7.) The evening isn't a good one unless someone opens sugar packets and sprinkles them all over the table

8.) At least one adult will walk away with heart burn

That pretty much sums up our evening and I had a great time! The in-booth tackle was definitely one of my favorite moments.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Week in Review

It's not technically the end of the week, but it's the end of the work week and that's good enough for me.

We started the week with childcare issues on Monday and two kids with pneumonia. Enough said about Monday.

Tuesday went smoothly, then ended with a last minute trip to the pediatrician for wheezing caused by previously mentioned pneumonia. Our pediatrician has extended hours during the week and it's come in handy on several occasions.

By Wednesday, everybody was back on the mend, back in preschool and all four of us were getting our sense of humor back. There was a span of time after the kids were fed dinner and before baths, where the four of us were in the living room, playing, laughing and just having a great time. Why can't it be like this every day?

Thursday was great. DH forgot I was getting the kids after work, so we both arrived at the same time. We took the opportunity to squeeze in a family walk, where family is defined as DH, preschooler and toddler in the jogging stroller, mom and dog. It was such a treat. I miss the days when we would do this every evening after work.

Friday was a day to tie up lose ends on work projects. I worked from home today and was able to see my kids for a few brief moments throughout the day. I work in what some would call an artist studio that is a detached, four walled building in our back yard. It has electricity, finished walls and floors, a space heater and a window AC unit. Everything I need. It could use some sprucing up, but it serves it's purpose well.

My Home Office:

It's going to be a busy weekend, but I am looking forward to it! We have a trial ballet class, two trips to the gym, a visit with Uncle M and a bike ride already on the calendar.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I {heart} Lilah Belle's

I've tried a few meal delivery and pre-made meal services since we welcomed our first daughter into our lives 3 1/2 years ago. The one I keep going back to is Lilah Belle's.

Keeping our family of four fed can be a challenge. I put all of my energy and meal prep into making sure my two daughters receive mostly organic, fresh and healthy food. This approach has paid off with my oldest daughter. She chooses organic peas over cupcakes, milk over juice, and fresh fruit over cookies. The jury is still out on my one year old, but she's off to a great start!

My husband and I eat dinner after the kids are in bed and it is usually nachos, pizza, BBQ from the place around the corner or a hodge podge of unhealthy snacks.

In comes Lilah Belle's. The food is made from organic where possible and almost all local ingredients. The meals are balanced and almost all of the ones we have eaten are delicious.

My husband and I decided I would make the trek to SF every 2 weeks to get dinners from Lilah Belle's. I purchase 3-4 nights worth of dinners. We just have to pop the dinners in the microwave and in no time we have a delicious meal that we feel great about eating. During the weeks we eat Lilah Belle's, I have more energy, feel better and sleep better.

They also have delivery to our area, but I like to see my food before purchasing. Their menu changes every week so there is always something new. Once we get into a regular schedule with them, we might just resort to their delivery service.

...I am in no way affiliated with Lilah Belle's other than being a customer, and I am not being compensated for this post.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Made a Deal

Six months ago, I spent a wonderful day with a friend of mine (Liz) and we uncovered new things about each other. It was a special day as we have been friends for, gulp, almost 20 years. We each realized that our personal goals stretched beyond what we do on a day to day basis. She is a darn good vet and I am in finance in the corporate world.

I won't divulge Liz's goals, but I'll let it be known that I think it's a fantastic idea!

Over the past couple weeks, I've been trying to work smarter, outsourcing what I can and spending more time doing what I like. One aspect is this blog, another is creating items and sharing ideas that would help working and SAHM's make their lives easier or things they would just simply enjoy. This is in addition to my 50-60 hour a week job and somehow I am making it all work. In fact, because I am doing something for 'me', the time I spend with my kids is more fulfilling and special. I seem to be squeaking out more time with them during the day as well.

Liz and I made a deal that we would check with each other on our progress around her birthday. I sure have a lot to get done in the next month. Expect more frequent posts from me, bear with me as I stumble through the beginning stages of this process and feel free to throw feedback or suggestions my way..

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Great Working Mom Tips

I've been struggling with balance lately. Both my husband and I have been working a lot, too much. It's unusual for us be busy at the same time and I am thankful this is not a regular occurrence.

I was recently cleaning out my internet bookmarks and came across an article I had bookmarked: "The 10 Secrets of One Unflappable Working Mother". It's a good reminder for me right now. 10 tips that will prove helpful when I implement them...

My favorite tip is #5: Getting out the door in the morning (without anyone in tears) is the only thing you have to achieve before 8:30 a.m.

I really do need to work on # 8: Leave your kids (and the stories about them) at home.

Hope you find this helpful!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How I Manage as a Working Mom: to the Rescue.

When I'm busy at work, I'm busy. Making sure food, cleaning supplies, diapers, air filters for our furnace and other necessities are stocked in the house for my family is difficult. I don't have time in my day to hit the grocery store or WalMart/Target.

One day, I stumbled upon's subscribe and save feature one day while I was looking to compare the cost of diapers from Amazon vs. the local Target store vs. other diaper centric websites.

With subscribe and save on, I save between 15-30% on items we use everyday. I am able to set up a recurring delivery for these items, choosing from deliveries every 1, 2, 3 or 6 months. Tonight, I found a great deal on Seventh Generation Dish Soap. I paid $10.68 for 6 bottles, less than $2 each, what a bargain!!

As stated on their web site: "There are no commitments. Cancel your subscription anytime, online, 24 hours a day. Use the "Manage Your Subscribe & Save Items" page, which can be found in Your Account."

I know having these items shipped to us is not the most earth friendly way to acquire these goods (shipping costs, the boxes used to ship them and a variety of other factors), but I try to do my part in other areas.

Thanks Amazon for offering this service. Around the time I realize we are running low on something, it gets delivered.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Seeing Wiz"

Today was a busy day. Abby and I headed up to San Francisco to meet one of my best friend's for a few hours. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at il Cane Rosso. If you go, get the slow cooked eggs over crostini. Very simple, but the best egg dish I've eaten.

We then stopped by Miette for the yummiest macarons, fleur de sel caramels and chocolate wafers one could wish for. My chocolate wafers are half gone already. I wonder how many macarons my friend has left?

We then walked from the Ferry Building to Pier 39 to show Abby the sea lions. It was so much fun to see her eyes widen as we walked up to them. She's a tentative child so I assured her they could not get to her. We watched for quite some time, walked back to our cars and headed home.

Abby with Liz

Later in the day we took Abby and Emily to the local school for bike rides. Lots of fun was had by all...

Abby pushing Emily on her tricycle

Right before bed time I asked Abby was her favorite part of the day was. Without pause she said 'Seeing Wiz". Liz is my best friend and Abby's God Mother. You know what Abby, that was the best part of my day too!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Preschool Decisions are Tough

Something as simple as deciding whether to move Abby to the next preschool class ahead of the rest of her current class has been occupying all the free time in my mind.

Abby and I visited the pre-k class this morning. I was really trying to be open minded, trying not to pass judgment until the end of the hour. Yep, that's all they give you, an hour to decide..

About 20 minutes into the visit, I decided that Abby was too young, too small, and wouldn't be able to stand up for herself against the bigger kids in the Class. I was afraid she was going to get lost in the shuffle.

The kids sat down for story time. Abby sat next to a little girl she's met a few times. This boy, that relative to Abby's size, looked to be about 20 years old sat next to her. Granted, he likely wasn't older than 4 1/2, but he was big, wiggly, and just wasn't paying attention to the teachers. This little boy started blowing on Abby's face. I watched to see what she would do. She scrunched up her face, looked him right in the eye and told him "that is not nice, stop doing it".

Our hour was up, we were getting ready to leave and she wanted to stay. I told her our appointment was over and she cried.

I think Abby will do just fine in this new class.