"Show & Tell" Picnic Dinner
Do your kids go crazy right before dinner time? Mine do! It never fails that when 4:30 rolls around and my husband is about to walk in the door, all hell breaks loose! The kids are running around, fighting over everything and I'm yelling threats while trying to figure out dinner (at which point I want to open a bottle of wine!)
Well last night I came up with an idea that I thought could help make these unbearable 30 minutes a little less unbearable... I told the boys that we were going to have a "Show & Tell" dinner and they had the next 30 minutes to think about what they wanted to share with the family.
My oldest ran straight up to his room and was there for the next 20 minutes preparing. My youngest said he wanted to paint a picture... (UGH, was my immediate reaction b/c it meant I had to clean up painting supplies too, but I let him do it despite my hesitation).
My little plan worked! They were separated, quiet, and working away on their new little project.
I finished up dinner (all sorts of finger foods so we could eat "picnic style" in the living room) and grabbed my "show and tell" item. I didn't escape meltdowns completely because my youngest freaked at the site of mini pizzas on the platter (he's super picky - a topic I'll blog about at some point because it drives me crazy!), but it was short lived. We all sat on a blanket in the living room and started our "show & tell."
Keaton had gathered all his favorite lego guys and talked for 15 minutes about how they're all different, why they are his favorite and he even came up with a new game!
Eliot's explanation of his picture was short (it was a picture of an owl if you can't tell, ha!) but he was proud nonetheless.
I had grabbed a photo book from our first spring break trip to Florida. We all looked through the book together and talked about our favorite things that we did there. Let me tell you, this was the best dinner we've had in a long time. It's not very often I feel "connected" during dinner time, so this was a breath of fresh air. We just might have to make this a weekly occurrence! Try it out and let me know how it works for your family.
The Mall - A Whole Different World!
If you didn't happen to read my valentine's post, our Valentine's date night was going to the mall, buying each other a $20 gift and then having dinner in the food court. Well, that's not exactly what happened. Let me preface this by saying, I haven't been to the mall in a really long time! I run in to Kohl's here and there for certain items, but I can't recall the last time I walked around the inside. I had no idea this trip would be so educational, ha!
Upon entering and seeing zoo keepers trying sell these little sugar bears (apparently they make great pets, check it out, www.sugarbears.com ) we decide to stick together and take in this whole mall experience together. We kept walking and stumbled upon Brow Art... From the pictures around the booth, I just assumed this was just someone painting your eyelids and giving you colorful lashes. I wanted to stop and ask a bunch of questions, but my husband talked me out of it for fear of me getting talked into getting it done, ha! (I'm easily persuaded!) So, I researched this when I got home and they do "threading" too, which is hair removal technique used in India. Who knew?
Now, this next stop still has me perplexed... the Vapor Room! I lingered around reading the signage trying to figure this store out (my husband thinks I live under a rock at this point!) It's actually called E-Cig Emporium, and they sell electronic cigarettes so you can smoke inside. Has anyone ever seen one of these? I mean, I know I hang around a lot of moms, most of which don't smoke, but this invention has me intrigued.
Moving along, we go into Spencer's because it seemed to be the most crowded store that we'd seen thus far. I remember when Spencer's used to be at College Hills mall before they tore that apart. I don't remember it being quite so raunchy! From the t-shirts to the blow-up midget doll.... (yes, I said blow up midget doll - who knew they even made those things!) it was all about sex, pot and alcohol in that store and it was filled with youngsters! I'm pretty sure I used to think that store was cool, which probably means that now I'm officially old and a prude.
We then move on to a store we're both more comfortable in, SEARS. We are going to be in the market for appliances soon, so we thought we'd go check the deals. Well we were the ONLY people there and the sales guy was all over me about what dishwasher was the best, quietest, least likely to rust, etc. (My husband up and vanished, instead of helping me get away from the sales guy!) After clearly stating I had no intention of buying a dishwasher today, he handed me his card and suggested I come back this weekend to take advantage of their President's Day sale. We beelined it to the nearest exit to avoid another sales speech!
Oh, I almost forgot the best store... the Home Spa! Talk about a sketchy place... I just looked up to see what the store is about: The non-exclusive retail sale and display of massage services, face and body therapy, nutritional, personal care and massage tools, henna tattoo face care and spa-inspired retail products. All I can tell you is that there were a lot of curtains and massage tables... and that was about it.
We also noticed that a security guard was asking people for their IDs. And on the way out, we saw the YEP (youth escort policy) signs on the doors. I do recall there being a rule about minors being in the mall by themselves... this must be why it was a ghost town in there. Anyway, after looking it up online, it appears that on Friday and Saturdays anyone under the age of 18 is not allowed to be in the mall unless they are accompanied by an adult. Interesting! I wonder where all the teeny boppers hang out now?
Well our shopping trip wasn't very successful, the only thing we bought was a slice of cookie cake from Mrs. Fields, but you can never go wrong with that! And instead of eating at the food court (there was bus loads of kids eating there!) we ran over to Fiesta Ranchera and split a monster strawberry margarita and chips and salsa. It was a great Valentine's Day and I've learned that maybe I need to make more trips to the mall to stay on top of what's trending! Cheers :)
It’s -20 degrees outside and everybody is freezing. There have been more snow days this past year than during my entire elementary school education.
This is the face I get from other people every time I’m out with my toddler in winter. Let me tell you why….
I pull her out of the car seat without a jacket. Yes, I said WITHOUT, into the -20 degree weather. At first, I brushed it off. Then, I realized everywhere I turned people gawked. As I observed other children being put into and out of cars, they were bundle up in huge snowsuits and parkas. I thought, don’t the other parents know how dangerous that is?! I did some research and neither one of the community hospitals offers a car seat safety class. Typically fire departments do car seat checks. Normal Fire Department is the only one that does and it’s not well known about. If it’s not publicized, how would any parent know about car seat safety? Heck, the only reason I knew about it was because I was forced to attend the class during my OB clinical in nursing school. I’m glad I did and I want to share a potentially life saving tip to keep your kiddos safe while driving.
DO NOT PUT YOUR CHILD INTO A CAR SEAT WITH A PUFFY WINTER COAT OR SNOW SUIT!
Here’s the reason…
In the event of a crash, the car seat is meant to have some movement to absorb the impact. The harness ensures that your child moves with the car seat, not within the harness. (The harness is tight enough when you are unable to pinch any slack). If you place your child into the car seat with a puffy jacket you are creating more space within the harness for your child to move and defeating the safety mechanism. For example, if you are traveling at 30 mph and your child weighs 20 lbs. Your child would be thrown at a force of 30 to 60 times their body weight. That would be at approximately 600 mph. Without the harness being as snug as possible, your child would be thrown from the car seat or out of the car.
Get the Facts…
According to the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the U.S. A big problem is that most child seats are used incorrectly. In a study of 3,500 vehicles, 72% used the car seat incorrectly, which could cause injury to the child in an accident. Children ages 4-8 whom use booster seats can reduce the risk of injury by 45% when used correctly.
Something to try…
-Place your child in the car seat with their jacket. Then, without releasing the straps for slack, unbuckle the apparatus.
-Now place your child back into the seat without their jacket.
-If you are able to pinch the strap, then it is not safe to place your child in the car seat with the jacket.
As you can see, my husband was able to stick his whole hand through the harness. That amount of space between the harness and my child would cause her to eject from the car seat if there was enough force.
My child is now correclty placed in the car seat with the chest clip at the nipple/armpit level. To ensure she is warm, her coat is placed through her arms backwards. I actually just lay the coat on her because she usually gets hot and starts to scream after the car is nice and warmed up. A blanket works well too. These photos were taken on a day that it was – 11 degrees out. She didn’t fuss once and didn’t get frostbite in the process.
What else can you do…
I encourage you to continue your own research. What was once best practice 6 years ago may not be best practice now. Yes, your child made it through just fine. I remember a time not having to wear a seat belt in the back seat of a car. However, cars are bigger, drivers are more careless, there are more distractions and more possibilities for accidents.
Please view some of the related videos and articles below. If you are like me and need visual proof, there are also some videos.
I love the website safekids.org. It has safety tips for children of all ages. I highly recommend any parent to browse through it. There are obvious things on there that you may never even think about.
A huge THANK YOU to Meredith Diaz for writing this post. Meredith is my cousin
First edition of "Things I love"
1. MicroDry bath mat from Bed, Bath & Beyond - I literally just bought this today and am already in love with it! The best part is that these usually run about $60 and I got it for $20 because it was missing the tag on the back (who cares about the tag anyway!) What I love about Bed, Bath & Beyond is that you can use all the expired coupons. I went in with three 20% off coupons, all expired, and they used them all - saving me another $13!
2. Body Cloths by Norwex - I also just got introduced to these and think they're awesome. They take off all your make up, including mascara and you don't need any facial cleansers. When you're exhausted at the end of the day all you have to do is wet it and wipe your face - it feels wonderful and takes just a second. No more excuses for not washing my face before bed!
3. Thermos Tea Mug - My husband got this for me for Christmas and I use it all day, everyday! You know when you make tea (or coffee) and you leave it sitting on the counter because you forgot about it and then have to reheat in the microwave? I did this ALL THE TIME!! This thermos keeps things hot for HOURS! So hot, I usually add 2 ice cubes before putting the lid on. If you are a tea or coffee drinker, this is a MUST HAVE!
4. Lush Helping Hands Hand Cream - Another Christmas gift that I now can't live without. This cold weather is brutal on your skin - especially hands! This keeps my hands from cracking and smells awesome. It is a little greasy at first, but your dry hands soak it all up eventually.
5. UGG slippers - This was a major splurge that I've never regretted. They keep my feet so toasty warm, you hardly ever see me walking around the house without them!
There's a new restaurant in town that's getting a lot of attention lately, Anju Above. For us locals, it's where The Loft was, above Station 220. I have not had the pleasure of going, so I asked my lovely sister-in-law who went on their opening weekend, to give you a taste of what to expect when dining there.
We recently enjoyed one of those rare things (at least to us parents) called a date night. We chose to go to the opening night of Bloomington-Normal's newest farm to fork restaurant Anju Above. It is the newest place by Epiphany Farms group, its concept is Asian fusion and Neapolitan pizza with open kitchens.
The menu consisted of sushi, pot stickers, steamed buns, Korean chicken wings, all kinds of pizza and more. The best part was sampling all of it with the special opening night menu. Chef Mustard's rustic pizza were amazing. Handmade dough and fresh toppings that he cooks in a 900 degree oven. The highlight of the Asian fusion menu was the pot stickers and chicken wings. We also had two desserts that they presented to us in a Chinese takeout box, silken tofu doughnuts and seedy berry cookie. While both were good, I know if I am going to splurge I want some chocolate!
Also, make sure you try a drink off their exceptional craft beer selection (my husband was very excited about that) and artisanal cocktail list. The service was excellent and very attentive. With the upscale casual vibe, good food and drink this restaurant is a must go to on your date night! - Beth Mercier
For more info on Anju Above, visit their website, www.anjuabove.com
My husband and I have been together for more than half of our lives already and we've never been fond of Valentine's day (and he even proposed on V-day!) However, I don't ever let him get away with getting me nothing! He knows that I at least want a card because I literally tell him that every year.
A couple years ago, he made the mistake of showing up empty handed and then the next day his excuse was, "they got rid of all the Valentine's day cards, so I couldn't get you one." WRONG ANSWER!
I waited a week, thinking he'd show up with flowers to make up for it, well I got NOTHING and I got sick of waiting! So, I took it upon myself to get my own present. My son, then 2, and I tromped off to the jewelry store. He picked out a shiny, new ring that I spent way too much on, oops!
I didn't say a word to my husband, but one day he noticed this shiny, new ring on my finger and he asked, "where did that come from?" My response - "This is what you got me for Valentine's day." He had a confused look on his face and I said, "Yes, this is a lot more expensive than a card, maybe next year you won't forget." He knew he couldn't do a darn thing about it and he hasn't forgotten since!
From then on, we make it very clear as to what our expectations are! So, we were talking about what we wanted to do this year - my mom has agreed to watch the kids for a couple hours, which is AWESOME! My husband doesn't enjoy big crowds, so he doesn't want to go out to eat... well I don't want to cook, so we had to come up with another idea.
As I was searching for ideas, I googled, "what does your husband want for valentine's day"... surprise, surprise, they want SEX! If you want a good laugh, you have to read this wiki how post, How to Plan the Perfect Valentine's Day for Your Husband.
Well, I'm not going to take wiki's advice, but I am going to shower and put on make-up before our date! We are going to pretend we're 15 again and go to the mall, split up and try to spend exactly $20 buying as many or as few gifts, without going over. We're then going to enjoy some wonderful food court dining (ha!) and exchange our gifts. I'll let you know how it goes... it'll at least be something different and hopefully make us laugh!
By the way, this photo is from our high school prom!
Melissa Ash - mom of 2 energetic boys, wife, and business woman. Just trying to "do it all".