My Favorite Season

I live in Pennsylvania.  PA is a great state to live in for many reasons.  One of which is that we get to enjoy all four seasons.  Not all places can say that.  There is something to appreciate about all four seasons.   I love the pretty flowers bursting out of the ground and the bright green of the new grasses and leaves as they grow in Spring.  In Summer, I enjoy warm nights on my patio.   I often feel very small as I look at the night sky filled with stars.  And the beach, I love the beach in the summer.  Winter can be very pretty.  I love to watch the snow fall.  And it always surprises me how the sounds outside become muted when there is a heavy snowfall.

My favorite season though is Fall.  The temperature can be warm or cool.  But usually not too extreme either way.  Dressing in layers is perfect during this season.  The air feels different in the Fall.  It is crisp.  You can see the leaves change and begin to fall.  I am naturally drawn to the colors of Fall.  A cup of hot tea or hot chocolate is the perfect way to end a busy day.  In the Fall, you can still get outside and the windows can still be opened to allow fresh air into the house.

I think my fascination with Fall started when I was in college.  My college was built in a valley surrounded by tree covered mountains on all sides.  It was an amazing sight to see the leaves change.  One morning during my freshman year, I looked out the window and said to my roommate, "it looks like a huge bowl of fruity pebbles out there".  And it did.  So many colors so close together.  The colors of Fall are so rich.

The smells of Fall are my favorite too.  I associate the smells of pumpkin and cinnamon with this season.  Yummy, Yum, Yum!  And the big Holidays are just around the corner where tables all over will be covered with lots of yummy comfort foods.  Hearty foods, like turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and fantastic pies :)  Such a wonderful time of year.

A flower arrangement I made for my kitchen table.

Decorating during this season is also great.  The pumpkins, hay, corn and mums can be arranged in so many ways.  There is so much to enjoy as you drive through the neighborhood.  Little splashes of color can be warm up any room in the house.  A gourd placed on a table.  Mums silk or fresh on the mantle.

There is so much I enjoy about this season.  Summer was fun.  And I was sad to see it go.  But there will be another one next year.  I am looking forward to this season.  Enjoying the outside world around me.  Noticing the beauty all around.  What is your favorite thing about Fall?  I'd love to read what you like about this season.


Dinner Hit!

Pic taken from Healthy Cooking Mag,
Oct/Nov 2011

Last night I finally got around to making one of the new recipes I was looking forward to giving a try. The good news was it was pretty simple to put together. The great news is everyone loved it! No fighting the kiddos or the hubby on this one :) I got the idea from a Healthy Cooking magazine. I made a few changes here and there but didn't stray too far from the recipe this time. You should definitely give this one a try.

Crumb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
Spray pan with cooking spray.
In small bowl, combine 4 1/2 t. honey, 1 T. molasses (I just used syrup) and 1 1/2 t. spicy brown mustard. Then brush over pork.
In another small bowl, combine,2 t. rubbed sage, 1 t. dried thyme and 1 t. dried rosemary. Set aside.
Combine 1/2 C. whole wheat bread crumbs, 2 T. of herb mixture and then press onto pork.

Pop in the oven for about an hour. Watch your crumbs to make sure they don't burn. Cook until the temp of the pork reaches 160 degrees.

With the extra herb mix, you can cut up a variety of veggies and or potatoes. Grab a gallon size Ziploc bag, toss in the herbs, the veggies, potatoes and a small amount of canola oil. Close the bag and shake around. When well covered, spread onto a baking sheet and cook for at least 30 minutes.

Hearty meal for your family. Good flavors and almost all food groups covered. Serve with a glass of milk and your set! Give it a try and let me know what you think. Enjoy!


Little Man

Today my son is 7 years old. The time has flown by. Knowing this in your head and knowing from experience are two different things.

Naturally on this day I think over your life so far. I remember not knowing how to make you stop crying the first night we brought you home. I think of how you used to help daddy "mow" the grass with your bubble mower while he mowed the yard.

I remember you saying words like "cook, cook" while waiting for food to cook in the microwave. And of course my favorite, "gunny" for peanut butter and jelly.

You have played with cars and trucks. Built with Lincoln Logs. Enjoyed so many sports. Today you are crazy for Legos. It is amazing to watch you dedicate such time and energy to creating these Lego kits.

I love to watch you play sports. I love to listen to you read. I enjoy watching you play with other kids. You love to learn. I hope You never stop Wanting to learn.

You are such a good kid and a great big brother. So funny and sweet. You love donuts and chicken wings (not together of course).

Happy birthday to you my Little Man. I love the boy you are and cannot wait to know the man you will become.


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Knowing your child is key.

Being a parent is hard work. It is a labor of love, but they don't call it "labor" for nothing. The job is hard enough with the task of keeping our kids safe and teaching them how to be respectful citizens. Then you add each child's personality into the mix and you quickly see, what works for one, doesn't work for another. And as I'm learning, what suits my personality, doesn't necessarily suit the personalities of my kiddos. That makes this job of raising kids very difficult.

Currently, I am facing how to parent my girl Mini in the most effective way. You see, she has always been strong willed and opinionated. Both of these traits I hope will serve her well as she gets older. As a five year old though, it is mostly an obstacle between her and I. She is very proud and has a difficult time apologizing. She also has a hard time excepting constructive criticism. If you try to assist her, you are most likely to hear in an annoyed tone, "I know!"

Anyway, the big struggle for me is when she is upset. Either mad or sad. I have noticed when she experiences these feelings, she pulls back. She goes to her room and refuses to talk. On one hand, she isn't hurting anyone and she recognizes she needs time alone. But the part I have a hard time is that she wont talk to me. She shuts down if I try to explore her feelings.

I want to talk it out. My personality doesn't like unresolved issues. I need to talk things out to feel peace again. And as a mom, I want to fix every hurt even though I know I can't. It hurts my feelings that she shuts me out. But at least I can recognize it isn't personal, it is just how she deals with her emotions.

Recently, I've told her that it is okay for her to have her alone time. She doesn't have to talk to me right away. But when she is feeling better, I want her to be able to talk to me about what was bothering her. This seemed like a good compromise for us.

This morning we had an opportunity to try this out. Her happy mood quickly took a turn into the Yuck Zone. I attempted once or twice to lighten the mood. Then I pretended nothing happened. We dropped big brother off at school. Then we went to the Y. After I picked her up from the Child Watch, she seemed to be in a much better mood. So I asked if she felt better. Much to my relief, she did. I then asked if she could tell me what happened that made her feel bad. She said she didn't know. I believe she really didn't know. She is only 5. Nothing seemed to have happened to trigger the mood shift. I still have times when I start to feel crappy and I can't pinpoint why. I told her that although I didn't use the word "crappy". I reiterated that when she feels better, I want her to be able to talk about her feelings. Feelings are hard to navigate as an adult. I can only imagine how hard it is for kids.

I tried to remain patient and to not force her to talk. That was very, very hard. But in this instance, I seemed to make the right choice. This experience reinforces to me that this is a difference in our personalities and it will be something she and I will have to work out for the rest of our lives. I feel like I made the right choice this morning. And that feels good. I wont always be able to put aside my natural tendency to talk it out and fix the problems. But I am going to try to do these things so that she will know that her feelings are important. Hopefully, she will also realize as she grows older that I am a safe person to talk to about anything.

Whoa! Heavy stuff. Any words of encouragement or other suggestions would be appreciated.

Menu Monday

Happy Monday!  As I sat down and planned my menu for this week, I really started to look forward to making dinner.  That's good for me since Andy will be away for the first half of the week so Mom's in charge of it everything for those days.  It'll be crazy but we'll get through.

So here it is...my dinner plans for the week.

Nutritious Nuggets with Roasted Veggies

Crumb Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Lemon-Parmesan Broccoli

Lasagna Corn Carne

Chicken and Noodles with Vegetables

***I'm taking the kiddos out to eat one night.  We have too many jobs to get done and too many places to be so I'm planning a night out.   I'm going to enjoy a somewhat peaceful meal with the Mini's where someone else does the cooking and the cleanup.  Then I'll drag the kiddos off to the next stop for the night***


BC Day 30!!!!!!!

Day 30: a picture of yourself this day and 5 good things that happened 
since you started the challenge


Final Blog Challenge Post!  Hooray!  I don't know why this post has me post a current picture of me, but here it is.  I just got a new pair of glasses so I took this pic to see what they would look like in pictures.  A little weird I guess, but there it is.  

Five good things that have happened since I began this challenge....
1. I have learned a few things about myself.  There were even a few times, I discovered something new about my personality and character while I was actually writing the actual post.
2.  My children started this school year with a great attitude.  On the first day, my son said, "A lot of kids are nervous today Mommy, but I'm not.  I'm excited!"  My daughter got off the bus the first afternoon and exclaimed, "Kindergarten is awesome!"  
3.  I got to meet and exercise with Denise Austin!  Super cool experience for me :)
4.  My book club met again and we had a great time together.  
5.  We switched our cats to wet food instead of dry food. For years we've been cleaning up cat vomit.  Making this switch has had a dramatic change in this yucky area.  As in, its almost completely stopped.  If my kitties could talk (see Wish #3 from BC 29), I'm sure we could have fixed this problem years ago, haha!

Well, I've done it.  I set out to complete this challenge, and I did.  Some days were much more fun than others.  Some days, were really hard to do.  I hit the point where I didn't want to do this anymore.  But I really wanted to make it to the end.  Now that I'm here, I'm really happy to be here.  I'm glad I participated, I persevered and I'm glad its done.  

Anyone care to share any thoughts on this Blog Challenge?  I'd love any feedback.


Favorite pre-workout snack

My own creation is my favorite snack to have before I workout. I eat breakfast at 6 am and I usually exercise around 10. So I have a yummy snack that is filled with protein and other goodies.

I put about 1/2 cup of oats in the blender. Add one cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. One banana. A bloop of my homemade peanut butter. And finally, one packet of carnation instant breakfast. I go for the chocolate, no sugar added. Mix in blender and enjoy! I love this combo. It is very filling and gives me the energy boost I need.

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BC Day 29

Day 29: 3 Wishes

If I had 3 wishes to make, it would be very hard to pick.  When I think of making wishes, I think of the Genie from Aladdin.  Or about wishing on a star.  These are nice thoughts, cute in fact.  But if I was really granted 3 wishes to come true, what would I pick?

1. I wish that the world (both in our community and across the globe) was a safer place.  It scares me how much danger seems to be in the world around us.  I want my kids to grow up without knowing certain fears.  I don't know if the dangers are new or if we are just more aware of them.

2. I wish that we could figure out what is missing from our educational programs so that our children were not struggling so much from year to year.  And that we could achieve academically what other countries seem to be able to accomplish.

3.  For my third wish, I will be a little more creative.  I wish pets could talk.  Wouldn't it be great when your pet was barking or constantly meowing, if you knew what they were saying?  If they are in pain, you would know where.  If you left the dog outside, then the kitty would say, "hey mom, Peanut is ready to come back in" instead of "meow! meow! meow! meeeeooooowwww!"  (true story, that really has happened, more than once)  I am an animal lover.  Before I had kids, I talked to my animals all the time.  Since having kids....I still talk to my animals all the time.  Silly wish I suppose, but since I don't believe wishes come true, and I'd love to talk with my four legged babies, I figure why not?

Okay peeps, this is it, only one more post in this 30 Day Blog Challenge!  I don't know who is more excited about that, the great people who stop by to read Java Talk or me ;)  Check back tomorrow for the final post in this challenge.


Book Review

My Book Club has finally met again!  That feels great.  We had a great time catching up with one another and talking about the book we had read (months ago!).  I had mentioned in a previous post about changes that my book club was moving to a new time...during the day.  And a new place...a local cafe with childcare.  This was our first meeting at the new time and place and I thought it went very well.  I'm super excited to get back into the swing of book club.  I've decided that I will write a book review each month and post it on Java Talk.

The book that was chosen to read for our next meeting is One Day by David Nicholls.  This is a popular book right now because it has been made into a movie that is currently in the theaters.  This book was a good choice because we are going to meet to discuss this book.  AND we will get a night out with the girls to see the movie in the near future!  Check back soon and see what I thought about this book...

BC Day 28

Day 28: Something that stresses you out.

Hmmm...yeah, this took about 4 seconds to pin down.  Not sure what that says about me, but here goes.  I love my exercise.  I'm not a fanatic.  I just enjoy having my one hour a day, five days a week to work myself as hard as I can.  It feels great to just be active and sweat (boy do I sweat!).  Here is where the stress comes in.

The child care room at the YMCA.  One very important reason I chose to become a member of the Y is because they have childcare that is part of the membership.  This is great, right?  Sure it is.  When it isn't FULL!!!!!  I cannot tell you how stressful the ride to the gym, swiping my membership card and turning the corner towards the childcare room is for me.  I dread looking up to see if the FULL sign is up or if I'm one of the lucky ones.  There are days, my stomach gets really twisted up over this.

What's the big deal?  For me this is a HUGE deal.  There was a time, when nothing got done until I did my workout.  I felt frantic, like if I didn't exercise right away, I wouldn't do it at all.  Years later, I am not so hung up on when.  I know I'll do it.  I pretty much have a regular routine.  The time of day may change depending on what class I want to take each day.  I love that I can take something different every day.  That was the biggest reason I joined the Y.  Followed by the child care.  But if I plan on taking a class at one time, and then I can't get my kiddos into child care, it makes me crazy.  I get very angry.  Quickly.

I am a paying member.  Child care is a part of our membership.  I feel that the Y should recognize that during the day, stay at home moms are regulars and then count on more workers in the child watch room during those hours.  It makes me furious that I got us all up and out of the house, drove there, I'm all ready to workout....and then I have to wait.

To get around this, I have started showing up about 40 mins before my hour class so that I'm "pretty sure" I'll be able to get my kiddo in.  That is ridiculous I know.  And I feel bad for my daughter who has to stay in there for so long, but it is the only way I can see around this problem.  If I show up that early, I don't usually find the much hated "FULL" sign and if it is up, I can still get my kiddo in before my class starts.

If it weren't for the stress of "will there be room today?" my experience at the Y has been great.  I love the variety of classes.  The instructors are great.  I've met a lot of fun people.  I have looked into other gyms more than once because of this problem with child care.  Unfortunately, the other places didn't offer classes when I needed them or when I tried the classes at the other gyms, I was very disappointed.  So at the Y I will stay.  And for now, I will continue to show up about 40  mins. early.  Definitely not ideal but it is how I've learned to keep this stress to a minimum. Lucky for me, I've got a great kiddo who is very patient.


Workout with Denise Austin

My husband's company was hosting a health fair. This is a big company. So big they were able to bring in Denise Austin to do a signing and lead a workout session. My hubby got permission for me to take the class! Hooray for me!!!!

When I was starting my weight loss journey, I discovered Denise. I have so many of her workout DVDs. You had to get used to them but she really made you work hard. So I loved it. Over the past two years, I have begun taking classes at the Y so I don't exercise at home very often. But this amazing woman is awesome at what she does. So I was super excited to get this chance.

Here we are before class during the signing. She was so nice to talk to. She chatted with both of my Mini's while she signed my DVD as well as the one for my mother-in-law.

The workout was so much fun! We did a little bit of everything a total body workout What surprised me was that there was no official workout music. There was quiet music playing throughout the office building. We could hear that but we weren't using it to keep time with. I never thought about exercising without music. But if I had, I would have assumed you couldn't work out as well without it. Guess what? You totally can. I was super sweaty by the end of our hour. The music is a great tool but it isn't necessary.

Afterward, I went up to her again and shook get hand. I thanked her and told her that I really enjoyed myself. Then I told her that I use to weigh over 200lbs and that while I was losing the weight, I often used her DVDs. I'm sure she hears this all of the time. But she still looked impressed and then asked if I had any "before" pictures. I do. Then she asked if I would email it to her website. She said she'd love to post my story. I'll send a picture, who knows, maybe it will end up on her site.

I had a great time. I enjoyed meeting this fitness guru. She was very down to earth and had a great sense of humor. I'm so glad for the opportunity to participate. Thanks Hun for thinking of me!

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BC Day 27

Day 27: The city you live in

                                                                                                                                                                                      I live in Mechanicsburg, Pa.  From a quick search on Google, I learned that  Mechanicsburg was named after a settlement of mechanics who made and repaired Conestoga wagons.  I think that is pretty interesting.  I never thought about where the name came from.  On New Year's Eve, in town, they drop a big wrench...or so I'm told.  My kiddos are still too young to be out all night so I've never seen it.  Mechanicsburg is known for  Jubilee Day.  This is the largest and longest running one-day fair on the east coast.  The east coast covers a lot of land.  I think that is pretty impressive.

Mechanicsburg is in a great location.  We are minutes from our state capital, Harrisburg.  We are close to Gettysburg.  We are 2 hours or less from Philadelphia and Baltimore.  New York City isn't much further.  We seem to be close to just about anything.  We have a small city nearby (Harrisburg), we have farms and mountains.  A major river, state parks with lakes, and even a cavern you can tour are all just a short car ride.

If you are interested in the Civil War, this is a very interesting area to visit.  There were several skirmishes that took place in Mechanicsburg and the surrounding areas.  There are signs all over the roads that explain the significance of this building or that building from the Civil War era.  I once took a  ride on the riverboat and listened to a lecture on the lesser known history of this area.

Neither Andy or I are from Mechanicsburg.  We moved to Harrisburg right out of college.  Three years later we moved to Mechanicsburg.  We are very happy here.  I think this is a great place for us to raise our family and hopefully grow old together.


Menu Monday

Keep in mind two things as you read on.  First, I don't plan which night to make each meal.  And second, I usually plan five meals for the week, but this week I get a day off because we are celebrating my son's seventh birthday on Friday night so this Mom gets a break from making dinner ;)

Meals for this week are planned to be...

Bacon Spinach Salad...Yummy.  I love bacon on pretty much anything.  The dressing I make to go on this salad is so good.  I can not believe how easy it is to make your own dressing.  

Broccoli Cheese Soup (I was planning on this last week and never got around to it.  Last week we had several warmer days and I just couldn't bring myself to make soup on those days).

Nutritious Nuggets with steamed asparagus.  These nuggets are also very easy to make and much better for you to eat.  Real chicken, no yucky chicken pieces go into these.

Pork Tenderloin (either oven baked or cooked in the crockpot...to be determined later) with roasted vegetables.

Okay, my week is planned out.  Anyone else out there thinking ahead?  If you are ever interested in one of my menu choices, just leave a comment and I will post the recipe.  

Bacon Spinach Salad

My husband doesn't care for spinach so I made his salad with mixed greens. The kids and I enjoyed spinach in our salads, I just forgot to take a picture until it was too late. This was a another simple recipe that was very tasty. The dressing alone was so good I'm sure I'll make it again soon.

Cook bacon, drain well and crumble. Set aside. Make the dressing (recipe below). Put salad in bowls, add chopped carrots, sprinkle crumbled bacon and walnuts. Drizzle dressing over salad. Enjoy!

3 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/3 C olive oil
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
1 T garlic and onion seasoning (if using separate seasoning, I'd use 1/2 T of each)
Place all ingredients into food processor and mix. Serve immediately.

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BC Day 26

Day 26: My Dream Wedding
If I were to plan my wedding today, I would do so many things different.  For years, I've said I'd wear a different dress, choose a different color for the dresses of my bridesmaids and hire a different photographer.   I'd also make sure I removed the price tag off the bottom of our Unity Candles set.  Until recently, that was the most I'd thought about a wedding redo.

But the other day, I was talking with someone and got to thinking about how I would love to have my wedding in the Fall (I was a June bride).  Fall is my favorite season of the year.  I also would love to have an outdoor wedding.  This way we could incorporate the beauty of Fall into the decorations.  The flowers and bouquets would be Fall inspired as well.  My reception would be outside as well.  I would still aim to keep things simple.

The photographer we had did a horrible job so almost anyone else would be an improvement.  But I've noticed as wedding pictures are shared on Facebook, a new trend in candid outdoor wedding poses.  I love this idea.  I would definitely want some of those shots.

Shopping for a dress would be so much more fun at this much smaller size.  I haven't given much thought to what the dress would look like.  I just know that it wouldn't look like the one I chose almost 12 years ago.

With all of this said, I am not big on weddings.  I don't know why this image flew through my mind during this conversation with my friend.  As I said earlier, I've never given much thought to a "dream wedding", which is probably why the night before the big day, I was so frustrated that every one kept asking ME where I wanted everything and everyone.  I just wanted someone to tell me where everyone should go.  Oh well.  I also realize that we were 23, just out of college, and on a pretty tight budget.  Looking back, my wedding day was just a day I had to get through so that I could marry Andy.  Probably not your typical memory of a wedding day.  I was too young to really know what I wanted in a ceremony, decorations and other decision making areas.  But I'm happy to say that over 11 years later, I can say I got the right groom.  At least, on most days I'd say that, haha!  ;)


Is it worth it?

This has been a very productive day for me around the house. I have been a laundry machine...washed, folded AND put away. I have swept the stairs, cleaned three bathrooms, dusted the house and continually straightened up after the Mini's. So, after I put the groceries away, I made the choice to sit down and relax.

The choice was to relax versus unloading the dishwasher. I really hate waking up to dishes in the sink. I feel like I'm behind the next day from the moment I wake up. But...I was still going to sit down and relax. I am going to the gym super early in the morning, so I'll have hours later in the morning (after the sun comes up) to unload the dishes.

So, I sit down. And I spend so much time, avoiding the dishwasher. I can't read the book I have sitting beside me. I am not really interested in the normal websites that usually entertain me. And I have to keep reminding myself it is okay to let the dishes wait until tomorrow.

This was how I found myself unloading the dishwasher at 9:30 on a Sunday night. It only took a few minutes and then it was all done. While I was busy putting dishes away, it occured to me, I could have been lost in my book long before now if I had just taken care of the dishes before I sat down. Oh well. It figures, I try to give myself a break and all I accomplished was added stress.

Oh well, I still get the rush of knowing that my house is clean. I love starting the week with my big housework already done. Makes me smile and feel like my week is off to a good start. I'm a better mommy too because I can focus on my kiddos instead of the mental list of the "jobs" I feel I need to get done.

Ever have a moment like that? A moment where you couldn't turn your mind off so you could just relax for a bit. Did you force yourself to "be still" or did you finally get up and do the thing you were trying to give yourself a break from?


Confessions of a coffee addict

This is my new coffee mug. It was washed and put away yesterday. This morning I opened the cabinet and saw it. The words on this mug makes me smile :)

I love coffee. A lot. I started drinking it in college. A cup here and a cup there. I would drink it every morning during the summer to start my work day.

Then I had children. One cup became two. Then two became three or four. I'm sure I could cut back if I wanted but why would I want to do that?

I really like the smell of coffee. It is a comforting smell to me. And there is nothing like the first sip of coffee each morning. That sip alone is super special to me. I drink my coffee alone. This coffee is more to wake up. I drink coffee socially. Coffee at this time is more fun. It isn't so much about waking up as it is about sharing time and conversation with my friends. A lot of bonding takes place over a warm cup of coffee.

One of my great disappointments is that Andy does not drink coffee. He has never tried it but he doesn't like coffee breath so much that he says he never will. Guess he married the wrong girl, haha. I would love to share our quiet mornings over a cup of coffee. But this isn't going to happen. He teases me about wanting to become addicted to caffeine. I joke back about my daydreams of sharing coffee and conversation with my children when they are old enough, around age 12.

Seriously though I have a very fond memory of my hubby and coffee. About 3 1/2 years ago I had hip surgery. That sucked. But I had the surgery and recovered. That first week or so, Andy had to do just about everything for me, which also sucked. But he made my coffee for me. Every cup I had. I don't know why this brings back such warm feelings. Maybe because I know how much he doesn't like coffee.

Coffee is great stuff. It is wakes me up. It is comforting to me. It brings friends together. I enjoy my cup(s) of coffee so much that I wanted to name my blog after it.

That's all for now. It's time to refill my new coffee mug!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

BC Day 25

Day 25: Put your iPod on shuffle, first 10 songs
EASY. Here is a look at my much varied selection of music.  I love music.  I love songs that tell stories.  I associate music with times, places, people and experiences.   It amazes me how a song can bring memories to mind from a long time ago.  

1. Hey, Princess by Allstar Weekend
2. I Am Woman by Jordin Sparks
3. In Better Hands by Natalie Grant
4. Breakthrough by Lemonade Mouth
5. Think Good Thoughts by Colbie Caillat
6. You Wouldn't Cry by Mandisa
7. Size Matters by Natasha Bedingfield
8. Pocketful of Sunshine by Natasha Bedingfield
9. I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas
10. Hey, Soul Sister by Train

Strange mix to most.  But I really like all of these songs.  Even those that are made for Tweens!  Shuffle on the iPod is great.  So many songs, so many artists and never in the same order :) It's like listening to a new cd every time.  And with the current technology,  I can play my iPod in my kitchen, my bathroom and in my car.  Where ever I go, my music goes.  That is so cool!


Made with real fruit...Really?

Yes, I'm pretty picky about what I feed my kids. I wouldn't say I'm fanatical, but I'm definitely conscientious. One food item I despise and think are a complete waste of calories is fruit snacks. There was a day when my kids got their daily dose of fruit snacks. But that day is long gone. I guess sometimes it wouldn't be bad to eat them but I just don't like having this food around.

Someone I love very much bought my kids two boxes a long time ago. After many months, they are still unopened in my pantry...until tonight. After dinner my son asked for a dessert and since the Mini's no longer EXPECT dessert after dinner each night, I said yes. But there wasn't much that qualified as dessert material.

Enter the fruit snacks in question. I grabbed the box and as I went to open it a few words caught my eye.

Read the words in the apple at the bottom right corner? "Made with real fruit". I thought, let's check this out. Maybe I misjudged the common fruit snack. Underneath the giant "real fruit" there was an (*) so I turned to the side panel to further research this claim of real fruit. This is what I found.

Yes...there is "equal to 20% fruit" in one pack of fruit snacks. What does that even mean? I can't believe they are able to advertise that this product is "made with real fruit". That's like saying a boat with holes is mostly waterproof. Seriously, call it what it is. Or don't say anything at all. People who are going to buy fruit snacks will still buy them. Don't lie to the consumer that these snacks are made with real fruit.

I realize these fruit snacks are only 80 calories out of an entire days calorie consumption. But really, why waste these 80 calories on rubbery, processed food that is made with so much sugar, corn syrup, flavorings and dyes? For 80 calories, you could eat a banana, a cup of blueberries, 1/2 an English muffin, or a serving of reduced fat cheese. These are just a few examples. My point is there are much better food choices that will be healthier and provide more for my child than temporary entertainment as they look at each fruit snack before they eat it.

It's your turn. Should the food industry be allowed to call "equal to 20% of real fruit" "made with real fruit"?

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BC Day 24

Day 24: Something that I've learned
I feel like "something I've learned" is pretty vague.  Since when?  In college, I learned to study effectively.  In marriage, I've learned to compromise.  As a mother, I've learned that perfection doesn't exist.  Since losing over 70 lbs, I've learned that I truly enjoy my exercise time each day.

Since the Mini's started school a few short weeks ago, I learned that I do not do well with being on my own.  This is a strange feeling for me.  To  feel lost.  Each week day, I have a really busy morning which is pretty typical for our house.  Then after lunch, I get my daughter to the bus stop...and then what to do?  That is the question.  I'm not sure yet.

I'm just wondering around aimlessly.  Literally.  Usually I find myself at the mall or good old Target.  Unfortunately, this leads to some unnecessary spending.  If I do not end up pumping money into the local economy, I land at one of my friends' houses.  I sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and visit.  Which is really nice.  I don't need to be entertained, I just need to not be by myself.   I just don't seem able to go home and relax.  Or clean or read, or anything.

This realization has been surprising for me.   Both of my kiddos went to preschool.  Looking back, the time they were at school, was my busy time.  Now, my busy time is still busy, its the afternoon that is wide open.   When the kids are home, they are pretty self-sufficient so I don't know what the problem is.  The one really good thing about my quiet time is that I definitely feel rested by the time they get off of the bus.  Which means I have a lot more energy (and a better attitude) as I tackle the last part of the day.

Soon, I will be able to help out in the classrooms.  That will help.  And I'm going to look into the adoption agency where we got our greyhound and see if they have any need for volunteers.  I know I will find ways to fill my time.  I know it is only the third week of school.  In the meantime, I just need to be patient with myself.  Stay home for short periods of time and for goodness sake...stay out of the stores!


BC Day 23

Day 23: My favorite board game

I am really ready for this challenge to be over. I'm tired of writing about myself. But I plan to see this through so hang in there with me for a little bit longer.

Scrabble.  I really enjoy playing word games even though I'm not usually the winner.  Boggle, Words with Friends and Wheel of Fortune are two of my favorite games I play on my iPhone.  If I have to choose a board game, it would definitely be Scrabble.

There isn't much more to say on this topic.  So I'll take a minute to admit that I'm kind of bored with this 30 Day Challenge.  Most of the topics are okay and some of them have led me to some interesting discoveries about myself.  But this is taking a lot longer than I expected.  But, I am almost finished.  I set out to complete this Challenge and I'm going to do it.  Whoa, does that mean that I have not only set a goal but I've also almost completed it?  (Refer to BC Day 13)  Imagine that.

What is your favorite board game?   This is an easy one so leave a comment below and share.  Thanks!



I made this arrangement this afternoon with flowers from my backyard. Andy has planted such beautiful flowers for us to enjoy outside. Now I want to enjoy them inside the house as well.

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Little Joys

My daughter has always been a bit strong willed.  During her preschool years, I really did not push the whole writing  letters and numbers thing.  She was very resistant to work with me.  At preschool, she was more willing.  But not with Mommy.  I believe this stems from her perfectionist personality.  Knowing she wouldn't make her letters "perfect" she didn't want to take the time to try.  Since she was in preschool and being exposed to written letters and I knew that she would be learning to read and write once she got to Kindergarten, I did not force her to work with me.  Maybe I was chicken.  Of course I didn't want to deal with the drama that would surely be involved if I had forced her to practice writing.  But mostly, I feared that forcing her to practice writing would turn her off of school. So, I didn't.

We are almost one month into school and I cannot believe the change in my little one.  A few weeks ago, she was scribbling line after line after line on notebook paper.  She would fill an entire piece of paper with very neat rows of scribble.  The past few days, she has been writing line after line of very nicely written letters.  The letters do not actually spell very many words and that is okay with me.   The words will come.  Probably quickly.  Just to see the transformation from no writing, to scribble to letters has been so exciting.  All this in just the first few weeks of school!  I am looking forward to all she is going to learn this year.  I'm pretty sure that this kiddo is going to love reading once she figures out how to "read" those letters she is learning to write. Her world is about to explode with new understanding.

It is so amazing to see this transformation in my children as they grow and their knowledge expands.  They really are like little sponges, soaking up the information around them.  It's kind of sad to think my babies are growing up but each age brings new things and this stage is the beginning of all the school learning they will experience.  This makes me feel proud of my kiddos, and brings a smile to my heart.

BC Day 22

Day 22: What's in your purse
That depends on which purse I'm using, haha!  I guess I have what most women carry in their purse.  When my kiddos were younger, I would have some more humorous items down at the bottom of my bag.  Things like toys, cheerios, clay (yes, I had a small container of modeling clay), hair clips, trucks and cars, etc.  Sadly, those days are behind me now.

Today, I have my wallet.  My checkbook.  Hand cream.  A few pens because I can never find one when I need one.  My asthma inhaler.  A clippy just in case the one in my hair breaks or I find myself in a situation where I need one.  An embarrassing assortment of lipsticks and lip glosses, but what do you expect from a woman who sell Mary Kay?  I also keep a spiral notebook that helps me keep my shopping lists, and to-do lists with me at all times.  Often, I throw a book or my Kindle into my purse.  You never know how long you are going to have to wait at various appointments.  And finally, I always have some minty gum in my purse.  With as much coffee as I drink, I like to chew a piece of minty gum to freshen up a bit after my last cup in the morning or while I'm running around in the afternoon.

Probably nothing too surprising in my purse.  Any funny things in your purse?


Menu Monday

In an attempt to keep myself organized and possibly pass on some tasty menu ideas.  I am going to post the choices I've made for dinner this week.  Remember, even I don't know what order I will make these dinners ;) We need to build in a little flexibility in this house.  But, I have ideas in mind and the ingredients needed to make these dinners.  So, I'm ready to go...just pick something from the list and put it together.

This week, I'm planning to make:
Honey Mustard Chicken with cauliflower,
Chicken Sausage with baked beans and sauteed zucchini,
BBQ Pork Chops and fresh spinach and strawberry salad
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Tomato-Basil Chicken with egg noodles and broccoli

Okay, there is my plan.  I'm looking forward to some good eats!

BC Day 21

Day 21: Something you could never get tired of doing
There are lots of things I like to do.  I really enjoy watching movies.  I don't scrapbook very often but when I do, it feels good and I like seeing something I've created.  I enjoy my exercise time.  I love to sing.  I could probably think of many other things I find entertaining as well as rewarding in some way.  But if I had to choose one thing, that I could never get tired of doing...I would have to say, reading.

I can pick up a book at any time.  I may read for five minutes or two hours.  There is just something about opening up a book (or turning on my Kindle) and being pulled into a story for a little while.  I love the feeling of being caught up in a story.  Almost as an observer of these people as they experience whatever the author has written for them.

There is one thing that has changed when it comes to my time for reading. Surprisingly, it isn't really the amount of time I read.  Yes, I have children, but I still read a lot.  I wake up almost an hour early each morning so I can read in peace while I drink my first (and sometimes second) cup of coffee.  Also, I hardly watch any TV anymore.  I'm just not interested.  So, I sit down and read pretty much from the time the Mini's go to bed until I go to bed.  I spend my evenings like this most of the week.  That is a lot of reading.  I read a few books a week.

Another thing that has changed over the years when it comes to this hobby of mine is that I give myself the freedom to walk away from a book.  Most of my life, I felt obligated to finish every book.  Even if I didn't like the book, I stuck with it.  If it took me days or in some cases weeks, I still finished it.  Over the past year or two, I have realized, I do not have to finish every book I start.  I open every book ready to jump in and absorb the story.  Sometimes, that just doesn't happen.  And when it doesn't, I put it down and start the next book.  There are just too many books to read.  I don't need to waste my precious time forcing myself to finish a book that doesn't resonate with me.

Many avid readers feel that a book should be kept in pristine condition.  For years, I too felt this way.  But I have thoughts have changed in this matter as well.  Now, I love to see a dog eared book.  To me, those turned down pages represent something touched and enjoyed.  If the cover wears thin or has creases, that tells me this book has been read by many and will most likely be a good book.

Believe it or not.  I hated to read when I was young.  It was work.  I didn't like it.  I had to be forced to do it.  I did not read my first book by choice until I was in 8th grade.  But then, my world changed.  All through high school, I read a book a day.  I was totally a book worm.  That's okay.  I'm still a book worm.  And I hope my kiddos will both learn to enjoy reading for fun.

What is something you will never get tired of doing?


Spicy Apple &Oat Muffins

Awesome muffin recipe, I have to share. I found this cookbook at TJ Maxx. Gotta love the Maxx! A cookbook for $3.99 :)

Makes 12 Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan.

Sift together 1 C all-purpose flour, 1Tbsp baking powder, 1tsp apple pie spice into a large bowl.
Stir in 1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar and 1 Cup of oats.

Peel, core, then chop two small apples. Stir into flour mix.

In other bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs, then beat in 1/2 C skimmed milk, 1/2 C fresh apple juice and 6 Tbsp of sunflower oil (or conola oil). Make a well in dry ingredient bowl. Pour liquid into well. Stir gently until combined. Do not overmix.

Spoon batter into muffin pan. Sprinkle tops with some dry oats. Bake for about 20 mins, until golden brown.

Let muffins cool in pan 5 mins. then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Mommy, what's that?

Yesterday, a friend and I took our kids out for lunch (4 kids combined). The restaurant we chose had lots of pictures of anything you can imagine all over the place. One picture over our table was a small picture of the Twin Towers. My son looked at the picture and then asked, "what is that?". This innocent question caught me off guard. And then my mind started spinning with how to answer him.

As the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 is very quickly approaching, I figured he would hearing bits and pieces but I wanted him to hear about this from me. I did not want him to hear fragments on TV and piece it together in his mind.  Now the question was, how do I explain this terrible event to four children ages 5 and 6?

I simply stated that some very bad men flew two planes into our buildings on purpose. A lot of people died that day. It was very scary and very sad. I also explained that the anniversary of this tragedy is coming up in a few days. I waited to see if he had any other questions. No one asked any more questions about what they had heard.

I've read many times that when talking to children, we need to keep it simple. The idea is that a child accepts a simple answer. As adults we tend to over think and over explain things. They don't need a lot of detail to be satisfied with our answers. If your simple answer isn't enough for your kiddo, they will ask more questions.  Take your lead from your child. This was the first time I saw this to be true for myself. I was satisfied with my response and how I handled this explanation.

When our Daddy got home that night, my son turned to Andy and said, "do you know what happens in three days?". Andy and I looked at each other and shrugged. Then we were informed that it is the anniversary of 9/11. Kids may be small, but they are listening to what we tell them. It is important that they know there is good and bad in this world. As a mommy, I want to hide the bad from my children. I don't want them I live in fear bit they have to be aware. Simple answers...I wasn't exactly prepared for this talk but it seemed to work out well for the audience involved.

How have you shared the awful truths about 9/11 with the kid in your life?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

BC Day 20

Day 20: Something you're looking forward to

Without much thought, it occurred to me one thing I am looking forward to.  Don't laugh.  It's not funny.  I am looking forward to the day I realize that I've gone through most of the day without having to nag my kids to do something four or five times before they do it.  I said...don't laugh!  I know, it isn't very original.  I also know I'm not alone in this but I get so tired of repeating myself.  Not only do I have to nag to get stuff done.  I nag about the same stuff, day after day!

"Put your shoes away", "Pick up the clothes off of your floor", "Put your dishes on the counter", "Brush your teeth", "Clean up the playroom".  If you give me a minute, I'll think of a lot more.  But you get the picture.  Seriously, aren't they tired of hearing me say the same things over and over and over and over...?   I'm tired of hearing myself say the same directives.

It's not like I'm being unreasonable in what I expect.  Also, I don't mind giving a friendly reminder but the same things every day?  So what I look forward to is the day my little ones put their shoes away (where they belong), pick up the clothes on their floor, bring their dishes to the counter, have already brushed their teeth and have taken care of cleaning up the playroom.  I have no idea when that day will come, but this mommy has to believe that day is in my future.  On that day, I will celebrate inside and congratulate the kids on being responsible and taking care of business.  On that day, I may even do the I Didn't Have To Tell Them To... Dance.  You never know what a mommy who feels victorious is capable of.  And on that day, I will probably also realize that while they have finally figured out how to avoid the nagging on these simple every day topics, we will already  have discovered a whole new list of things that I get to nag about.  Gotta love being a mommy, housekeeper, lunch maker, laundry doer, schedule keeper and every thing else that fits under the description of being a Mom.


Drowning Zoo Animals Shot by Officials During Flooding

Drowning Zoo Animals Shot by Officials During Flooding:

'via Blog this'

After all the rain we have had over the past week, Central Pennsylvania is in a sad state. Schools are closed. The Susquehanna River is cresting. People are being evacuated from homes. Roads are flooded. And basements are taking in water much faster than it can be cleaned up. In nearby Hershey, PA, rt. 322 is buckling, restaurants are disappearing into flood waters and Hershey Park is hardly recognizable. Pictures of Hershey Park are the scariest to me because my family and I just spent the afternoon there last Friday. The rains are still coming. The waters are still rising. The damage is still being done.

The main gate into Hershey Park
It hit the news today that Zoo America owned by Hershey Park, decided to euthanize two bison that were drowning in the flood waters of their enclosure. This is awful. I realize the loss of two bison isn't as harsh as the loss of human life. But it is still tragic. I have read the article and I am frustrated with those who are taking this sad situation and trying to pain Zoo America/Hershey Park as the "bad guy". The spokeswoman said this was a very difficult decision to make. Personally, I can't imagine being responsible for such a choice. A male bison can weigh as much as 2200 pounds! How do you move anything that heavy quickly? Yes, maybe the people in charge could have removed them from their enclosure quicker although I have no idea where they would have put them. But a flash flood is just that, a FLASH and then you have a flood. The fact is, these animals were drowning. They were dying. They were most likely panicking, struggling and they were still going to die. So I think the officials made the right call. A very ugly call, but it was the one that was most compassionate. When you look at the pictures of Hershey and the surrounding area, it is amazing they got the rest of the animals to safety in time.

A view in Hershey Park
A view in Zoo America

I am glad I did not have to make this choice. But for what it's worth, I think the right choice was made. People will judge those who made the choice to shoot those bison, and I'm sure there will be some who will boycott Zoo America over this. To them I say, "Fine, don't give your money to these business' if you choose. " This was a horrible situation at the end of what I imagine was a terrible day. I'm glad that no human life was lost evacuating the animals that could be saved (as far as I know, all but these two bison). I am very sad that the only option left was to euthanize. I support this decision. You may not agree with me and that is okay.

Leave a comment and let me know if you think the zoo officials made the right choice?

Time for Change

Change is hard. Harder for some people than others but I think most people would agree, that change is hard.

My Book Club, a very small group of great gals is facing a change. We had a hard time getting together throughout the summer because of vacations and other responsibilities out of the home. That's life, right? I thought we may be headed towards dissolving our book club, but that idea didn't seem to go over too well. So it is time for change.

Since our kids are all about the same age (most of us met through preschool...our kids' preschool, not ours, lol) and they are getting bigger. Almost all of the kids are in full day school. They are almost all involved in out of school activites. Then there are commitments at church and work, etc. You get the picture...busy lives = need for change.

So we came up with a new idea. Instead of trying to find a night that we could meet each month (and have another commitment away from our families) we are going to meet during the day. Of course, one of our kiddos is in the early preschool years and one is in morning kindergarden so when could we meet where someone wasn't on Mommy duty? Lucky for us, we have a local cafe that has the answer. The Playhouse Cafe is a cafe where you pay a fee and then they watch your kids while you have Mommy Time! We've all spent time at this cafe and now it seems to be the answer to our situation.

I'm looking forward to getting book club up and running again. We haven't gotten together often but we always have a great time. I expect being able to meet consistantly is going to be great for us.

Change isn't always easy. Our kids are getting older and busier. That's a lot of change in itself. Change can be uncomfortable but in this instance I'm excited to start this change!

BC Day 19

Day 19: Something you miss

I am an animal person.  I grew up with cats.  I love them.  I have two cats and a dog.  Marty is the first cat we got.  We got him right after Andy and I got married.  He is 11yrs. old  now.  For years, every night when I went to bed, he would climb on my chest.  He would nuzzle my cheeks and neck for a minute or two.  And he would purr while he did this.  I used to say he was "tucking me in".  This was a nightly ritual.  I loved this little snuggle each night.

Then when I was pregnant with one of my children (I can't remember which one), it got too uncomfortable to have him climbing on me while I was laying down.  He was persistent.  Night after night, he jumped up.  And then every night, I would push him down.  Eventually, he stopped.  When we moved, we started sleeping with our bedroom door shut because it is safer in case of a fire.  If the door is shut, then there are no kitties allowed in the room.

Every so often, I will climb into bed and think about how Marty used to "tuck me in".  It is a silly little thing, but in those moments, I miss my nightly Marty snuggle.


BC Day 18

Day 18: My Favorite Place to Eat

Confession time...I love to eat out.  As healthy as I try to be each day, I would rather eat out than eat at home.  Any day. Even though I love to cook for my family (most of the time), I'd still choose to eat at a restaurant if given the chance.  For me, it is so much more than just filling my belly.  It is a social experience.  I might be with my family, just one of my kiddos or with a friend.  It doesn't matter to me.  I enjoy getting together and sharing a meal with people I care about.

My favorite place to eat depends on what I feel like eating.  There is a local place called Cafe Magnolia and I probably choose this place the most when I get to eat without the Mini's.  Although, I have taken the kids to eat here many times over the years.  I enjoy the South of the Border salad with Cajun Chicken.  I've tried a few other things and they have been tasty but I always go back to my favorite.

If I'm looking for a Turkey Burger, I like to go to Ruby Tuesday's or Garfield's.  For pizza, I like some local shops.  I don't really like one more than another, but I prefer pizzeria pizza over the famous chains such as Dominoes or Pizza Hut.   Chinese is always yummy so Chef Wong's gets my business when I am in the mood for Chicken and Broccoli.

The restaurant that we as a family frequent the most is probably Isaac's Deli.  This is super close to our house (about 2 mins.) and I feel we can eat pretty healthy if we go here.  There is something about a great sandwich and a green salad.  And I have not found a tomato soup I like anywhere else as much as I like the Pepper Jack Tomato Soup at Isaac's.

Now I have all these delicious foods on my mind.  This week I am meeting a friend for lunch at a Thai restaurant that we both really like.  This should be fun and I'm really looking forward to this lunch date.

What is your favorite place to eat?  Is it a local establishment or a well known chain?


Mystery Solved!

I have quite a list of blogs that I read on a daily basis.  You can memorize all the web addresses or you can bookmark each site.  But I have found an easier way.  I have an RSS app on my phone.  I don't know what the RSS is all about.  I only know that when I type in the web address, up pops the blog I'm looking for.  Then I can subscribe to it with the swipe of a finger.  That's it.  I simply click on the app and then all the blogs I read are right there and all the new posts are highlighted.

Okay...so why this information?  I am sharing this because for some reason, when I tried to find Java Talk on this app, I couldn't find it.  Ever.  I think my mom couldn't find it either.  A friend of mine couldn't find it and she asked about it.  So, after several attempts since March I have finally fixed the problem and if anyone is interested, you can now subscribe to Java Talk via an RSS reader.  I did it! I did it!  WooHoo, I did it!

Just type in www.bringyourownmug.blogspot.com in the search box of your RSS reader and it should bring up Java Talk.  Do me a favor, if you give it a try, please post a quick note in the comment section and let me know that it worked (or that it didn't).  Thanks so much!

Tip for busy Mom

I don't know about you, but the small window of time after the kids get home from school goes by in a blur. Unpack backpacks, supervise homework, clean out lunch boxes and get dinner made. In case you weren't sure, that is a LOT to squeeze into about 1 1/2 hours.

One way I handle this stress is having a menu planned out for the week. I aim for five meal ideas. I make a list and post it on the fridge. Personally, I do not designate which day to have each meal. I don't like feeling like I'm locked into any one thing. But by having a list, the stress is gone for the age old question, "what's for dinner?". This is not a fancy list, I simply write the title and then the name of the cookbook or app I will use. If using a cookbook, I also include the page number. All for very quick reference when I need it.

This works really well for us. And part of what makes it work is choosing your menu items before you go to the grocery store. This way you are sure to get what you need to prepare the planned meals. I cannot and would not share the number of times I gave begun making a last minute choice only to find out I was out of one of the key ingredients. Not so smart on my part an VERY frustrating. It takes a little planning but it is worth it to have less stress at my most crazy time of day.

This week, we are having White Chicken Chili, Baked Ziti with a steamed veggie, homemade Pizza with a salad, Honey Mustard Chicken with cauliflower and a super simple day of Turkey dogs with beans and asparagus.

Do you keep a weekly menu? Is it worth the effort it takes to plan ahead?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

BC Day 17

Day 17: Dream House

I know this sounds hokey, but I do believe I live in my dream house.  Our house is much bigger than necessary.  We have enough room for the four people, three pets and two fish.  And there is lots of space left over.  Our basement is unfinished but some day, we will tackle that project.  That addition will only add to this place I call home.

I love the floor plan of my first floor.  It is very open and flows nicely.  We have lived here almost 5 years and I often think to myself as I climb up or walk down the stairs that I am so fortunate to live in my "perfect home".  There is always something that needs work done.  May be a repair or some other type of improvement.  My ideas for each room may change.  But I wouldn't change anything about the size, shape or design of my home.

Over the past few years, Andy has worked very hard to create a beautiful backyard for us to enjoy.  The flowerbeds, the pergola, the fountain and the patio.  I call this my "favorite room of the house" for several months of the year.

I guess, if I was going to dream big, I would like my house to be close to the beach.  I love the beach.  I would love to sit on my patio at night and hear the sounds of the waves crashing into the sand.  Sounds like a nice dream.  Although, I am quite happy with my little fountain that has that calm, quiet constant sound in the background.  I'm very happy with the home we have chosen to raise our family in.  Once again I am reminded how blessed I am.


BC Day 16

Day 16: Sometime when you've felt satisfied with your life.

I am a very blessed woman. I have a healthy family. I get to stay home and care for my family and home. I have every thing I need and so much more (that is really an understatement). I am very content with my life. Which is a great thing to be able to say.

But if I had to pick one moment that I felt satisfied with my life, I would pick a time that was very recent. It was August 24, 2011. It was about 12:45 in the afternoon. Pretty specific, huh? What happened on that day and at that time that left me feeling satisfied with my life?

My little girl got on the school bus and rode away for her first day of kindergarden. Earlier that day I had dropped my son off at school for his first day of "all day school". He was so excited to go to first grade. He waited his whole year in kindergarden to be able to eat his lunch at school. I knew he was happy and safe and enjoying being a big kid.

So a few hours later, I put my youngest child on a school bus to begin her career as a student. She is my quiet one. She is very reserved and self controlled. She was nervous and a little bit excited. This is the child who last year insisted she was not going to kindergarden and that she was going to tell her teacher she was not going to do homework. Anyway, I'm nervous for my little one but I'm also very excited. At the bus stop, there is one other girl. We all stood there and waited. I wasn't sure how she was going to act when the bus arrived. Would she be clingy or would there be tears?

The bus turned the corner and to my relief, she broke out into this beautiful smile. She followed her classmate onto the bus and they sat together. As the bus pulled away, both girls were looking back at their moms...grinning ear to ear.

At this moment, I felt complete contentment. Both of the Mini's were off to start a new year filled with excitement. It was bittersweet of course. And I felt pretty lost all afternoon not knowing what to do with myself. But I was at peace with them being gone. I had more than survived the moment of putting my daughter on the bus. I truly enjoyed the moment. I even spent the next 3 1/2 hours with a silly grin on my face as I called family and friends to share the story of our first day of school. On this day, both of my children made my heart smile.

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Mary Kay Party Time!

I know the New Year is celebrated in January, but I feel the beginning of the school year feels more like a "new year".

In honor of this "New Year", I am extending an offer to my readers. Check out my website to see the full catalog.

Mary Kay is known for terrific skin care and quality cosmetics. Place your order by September 30th and receive 15% off of your total. Shipping is always free. Offer is valid in the U.S. only.

Please message me if you have any questions. If you have a question, write Java Talk in the subject line.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to get great product at a price.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Blogger Gadget!!!

So Cool!

I usually write my blog posts from my iphone. That is probably not a big shocker to anyone who reads Java Talk somewhat regularly.

Tonight I was playing around with my laptop (which I hardly ever use now that I have my super smart phone ). I discovered gadgets for my screen. And there is a gadget for my sidebar designed for Blogger! I can actually write and post a new entry from this little sidebar :) I don't know why I think that is so fun, but I do.

It's the little things, right? haha...

BC Day 15

We interrupt this Blog Challenge to bring you a different topic for today....

Ok, that was fun. So today is Friday. The Mini's have finished the first seven school days and they have off today and Monday for the Labor Day holiday. This is our first school day that we have off!

To my surprise, Andy called me yesterday and suggested he take a half day today and we can surprise the kiddos and take them to Hershey Park for the afternoon. I'm so excited! They are going to be so surprised :) He doesn't even want to tell them where we are going. They will figure it out while we are on the way (we don't live far) but they will be crazy happy when they realize our destination.

New topic...

Before school started, I took the kiddos to a very unique toy store that is in the area. Great place. Not only is this a toy store, in the back they have a room where you can paint your own pottery. I got to bring our pieces home yesterday. I was very pleased with how everything came out.

I had no intention of doing my own project but when we got there and I saw all the choices, I couldn't help myself. Can you guess what this Java Junkie chose to do? Here is a clue, I didn't need a piggy bank and I am not the horse crazy one in this house, haha!

Wow, how is that for random? Just some fun stuff I felt like sharing :). I'm looking forward to making memories with my family during this long holiday break.

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BC Day 14

Day 14: A picture of you last year. How have you changed?

Here is a picture of my son and I last Christmas. As you can see, there isn't a whole lot different in my appearance. Same hair, same glasses, and when the weather turns cold in a few months, I'll be wearing the same clothes.

Although my appearance is mostly the same, I think my attitude has changed a bit. In general, I feel I have finally arrived at a healthy mindset with my food, exercise and appearance issues. At least I feel I can claim this most days, and I am very grateful for that.

I don't worry as much about what I eat or don't eat. Food doesn't consume my thoughts each day. I don't often feel I need to exercise extra to make up for any indulgence. For the most part, I feel very comfortable with my food and exercise habits. And more importantly (to me) I'm finally comfortable with my appearance. Overall, I feel very satisfied with me. That is not something I say lightly. And it is not something I could say often in my life. I am so glad to be able to say these things today. I still have bad days or set backs but I seem to have much better perspective about the whole picture of a healthy me. This has been a long time coming. And I am grateful for each day I can claim this attitude. I still believe I will always struggle with food to some degree but for now, I feel like I have arrived to the next place (finally) where I am not controlled by these thoughts and I can still make good choices. This change has been a terrific change that has led to an emotional freedom.

These changes probably can't be seen in a picture but I can feel them each day. And I'm glad this blog challenge helped me to realize this change and put it in writing.

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