Friday, October 29, 2010

New Blog! The Review Revue

In an effort to differentiate between the reviews that I do (hopefully for new products soon in addition to books) and other writing, I have decided to begin a new blog, The Review Revue, which when said a couple times in a row makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Thank you so much if you visit this blog every once in a while, follow me, or are stopping by today to say hello- your support is very much appreciated!

I would LOVE for you to take a look at The Review Revue if you get a chance.  A follow would be extra special (since I have 3 thus far and one of them is myself) and comments are always a wonderful treat!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shutterfly- the place to go for holiday cards!


It's that time of year again! Hard to believe that the summer is so far behind us now, and we're looking toward the holiday season already (especially with the temperatures here in New York soaring at over 70 degrees- sunbathing weather, perhaps?).

As a mom, however, I value the importance of staying on top of things- otherwise I get completely flustered at the mere mention of jingle bells!

So, I'm going to begin my Christmas shopping now and start the process of creating the perfect holiday cards to send out to everyone (I mean, otherwise, how are they going to know that I have the cutest child ever?). Shutterfly has a great selection of holiday cards at a reasonable price. I used them last year and they came out professionally and quickly (plus, it was super-easy to do).  I think I'm going to go with the "Modern Merry Squares" this year- they are very contemporary, and there's space for 2 photos, so my dogs can dress up as Santa's little helpers for one of the pics (as though they would actually stay long enough in a costume for me to snap their picture).  What's your fave?
My pic pick
While browsing around Shutterfly's website, I also saw the selection of Christmas party invitations, which completely made me want to host a get-together this season... so cute! Also a really nice idea? The Christmas gift tags, which make gifts look complete!

I know that there are a lot of options out there, but Shutterfly is a great one!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Clone

Summer, '81
Summer '10
1981- Kirsten at 22 months
2010- Avery at 15 months

For all of you who say she looks nothing like me...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How To Create a Behavior Modification Plan

the go to place for mom bloggers!


This weeks writing prompt is to formulate a “how-to” article, so I will use my expertise as a former teacher, in both the general and special education realms, to help parents to create a behavior modification plan.

Some kids have a difficult time portraying to those around them all that they're capable of, because their behavior is unruly or their demeanor is, well, difficult to deal with at times.

These children may be hard to control for parents, school teachers, and anyone with whom they come in contact.

These step-by-step instructions are aimed to modify the behavior of any challenging child and may be altered to fit a child's particular needs.

  1. Hold a meeting with the child in order to explain the plan to him and get his input. Consider the child's viewpoints to make him see that this is not necessarily a decision that is being made for him.

  1. The points system: Though the child may not yet understand the value of points necessarily, she certainly knows the value of stickers! Reward stickers can be purchased rather inexpensively and the books contain sometimes a thousand of them (try a teaching supply store to obtain them). If a certain amount of time elapses without a behavioral issue (or a certain responsibility is accomplished) by the child, she earns a sticker. These “points” or stickers may be kept in a book by the child.

  1. It is imperative that a child who has not demonstrated model behavior during this time DOES NOT earn a sticker. This is called “positive reinforcement”- the child is rewarded for good behavior, and simply not rewarded for behavior that is not good.

  1. There is no consequence for poor behavior, the child simply does not earn. Life moves forward.

  1. The reward: Once a certain number of stickers has been attained by the child (determine this amount before you begin the plan), a larger reward or certain privileges are earned. For example, it may be a physical object (like the toy truck he's had his eye on), or something that you allow him to do (like going on the computer for an hour, playing a video game, or watching a certain television show).

  1. Children who continuously succeed with this plan may earn a permanent accolade, such as a later bed time.

*It is critical for parents to remain true to the system. DO NOT give the child any of the stickers, points, or rewards unless they've been earned!

*Additionally, the plan should be discussed with any caregiver for your child as well. Teachers, nannies, even grandparents should be aware that this is something you are going to try.

If you do try the plan or are going to, let me know, I'd love your feedback.  

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Weekend Away



When a person (namely, me) goes away for the weekend, she hopes and prays that all will be okay: the house will not crumble, the baby will be fed, and the husband will have the ability to wash his own dishes and do the laundry (I think the latter may be the most far-fetched). That said, there is a little part of all of us that wants to know that we are needed- that everything won't be completely “normal” while we're gone (I think it's time for us all to be honest here).

Don't get me wrong, I didn't desire catastrophic events to befall Kyle and Avery throughout Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps a little impediment along the way, though, so that I felt... missed.

So I had mixed emotions when I awoke on Sunday morning to the chime of my phone, indicating a new text message.

Winnie, by the way, is our dog (not a child), who begins the night in her own, perfectly comfortable, dog bed, the sneaks under our covers once we've fallen asleep.  Lovely.

A part of me felt terrible for my poor hubby, who had stayed up half the night washing sheets and blankets, yet still had to get up with our daughter, regardless of his exhaustion (you know, like Mom).

Upon my return home, I was hoping for a few comments such as,

“How do you do it?”
               or
“You must be some kind of superhero!”
               or
“Wow- all this and you STILL look good? It's amazing!”

Instead, when I walked through the door, to my shock (and with a tad of disappointment), I saw that the house was pretty tidy, my laundry was folded neatly on a chair in our bedroom, and (I'm not kidding here) the bed was made! It was weird; On one hand, coming home to a clean house was a wonderful surprise, on the other, a voice in my head kept yammering, “Are you REALLY necessary? If everyone in the house can manage fine without you, what exactly is your purpose?”

Ugh. Depressing.

My spirits were lifted, however, when I gazed into Kyle's tired, burnt out eyes. “This weekend. Wow. I feel like...” He repeated something similar just before passing out in bed by nine.

THIS made me smile.

Friday, October 22, 2010

One Chick's Opinion: Being Philosophical Aint Easy



Review of The Sunday Philosophy Club, by Alexander McCall Smith

For a book with this particular title I noticed a lack of, well, philosophy, let alone a club devoted to the subject. I don't even believe that McCall Smith referenced Sundays at all- or even sundaes (yum!). That said, however, this novel was an absolute pleasure to read and kept me entertained the whole time.

Though the setting was modern-day Edinburgh, Scotland, it seemed the story could take place anywhere- it was easy to follow, despite the fact that it is a place I've never been (hint, hint, Kyle).


The main character, a middle-aged single woman named Isabel, is surprisingly relatable (although I'm neither of those things). A very curious woman by nature, she sets out to investigate the falling death of a handsome young man, with whom she felt a “connection” with as he dropped from the highest balcony at the symphony. Since Isabel was the last person he saw in life, she felt a moral obligation to find out the truth about his accident, suicide, or murder.

The real draw of this novel, however, is McCall Smith's ability to develop the relationships between his characters. They're just so... real.

I would definitely give this book an A (wait, is that the scale I'm using? I better go back to some earlier posts. Okay- good enough. A.).

Has anyone else read this or is planning to? I'd love to hear your opinions!

The next book I'll be reading is Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, so if you'd like to join me in reading it please do so. If you've read it in the past and want to discuss it at all, then just know that I'll finish... eventually. Be patient- it takes effort to carve out some time to read amid mommy-ing and committing to the new fall television schedule.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Google Image

Have a minute or three?

In that case, try this fun (okay, maybe not fun, but not tedious) activity: Google Image search yourself. Horrifying, is it not?

Okay- now post the first picture of yourself that you find (bonus if it's not already on your blog) and describe the photo.

You can do this as a new post in your own blog (just be sure to link back to my site for directions, just in case your readers want to participate) and leave your URL in the comment section of this post, or simply describe the picture in the comment section. Have fun and try not to close your eyes when a bunch of yous are staring at back at you from the computer screen.

I'll go first:
Awesomely enough, the first image that appears when I type my full name into the search bar is me, sans makeup. Just what I want everyone to see.



This picture was taken on the beach in Mexico last winter.
FYI, Mexico is probably not the best place to take a baby. Bathing her in the sink with bottles of water was not exactly a treat, nor was the resort's doctor who knew NO ENGLISH whatsoever (don't American doctors have to speak at least a modicum of Spanish to practice?).

So, that's it. Avery and I. No makeup. Don't make fun... I cry easily.

Wordless Wednesday- I love shoes!

So many choices!
The red heels are my favorite...
...or maybe the brown sandals...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just because...



Where Moms Who Blog Go!



Just because I'm staring out into a sea of nothingness (I daze out a little sometimes, what can I say?) doesn't mean I can't hear you.

Just because I am looking at you doesn't mean I'm listening.

Just because I'm listening doesn't mean I'm going to actually do what you say.

Just because I'm looking in your general direction and nodding (as you go on and on- and on) doesn't mean I agree with you!
Okay, I'll listen to YOU...


What can you come up with? Fill in the blanks... Just because _______________ doesn't mean _____________.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend Festivities



My weekend was quite nice, thank you very much.

A Saturday trip to the mall and Costco made me thankful that I had chosen flats, since we had to walk 17 miles (or so it seemed) to return a shirt at J. Crew (which they wouldn't take back! Obnoxious...) and to look at the sales in Lucky across the entire building, then another 75 million miles through the next parking lot just to battle the mobs of sample-crazed cows (including myself) who dared to flock to the warehouse store on a weekend afternoon.

Needless to say, I needed some downtime when we got home. Kyle decided, however, that this was the perfect opportunity to do some much-needed cleaning, so rather then sit on the couch and watch him maneuver the vacuum around my feet, I got up and pretended to do something for a while.

We had some friends over for dinner at night, which was fun. I made balsamic-glazed pork with lentils, another recipe from Real Simple magazine. I cannot say enough, by the way, about this recipe collection- everything I've made so far has been a hit!

Sunday turned out to be a quintessential gorgeous fall day in New York, so we headed out to Nassau County to enjoy the Oysterfest that we had heard some good things about. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at the train station that was being used as a lot for the festival.

“Where do you think the shuttle comes?”

“Oh- that looks like the line over... oh, crap.”

Kyle and I gazed at the line of 400 people waiting for the shuttle bus to transport them to the site.

“Umm, maybe we should consider an alternative plan for the day.”

“Yeah, that would probably be to our benefit.”

It actually turned out to be a lovely day, though. We walked around and ate lunch at a nearby town, and Kyle was able to listen to the Giants game on the radio while we drove home. Overall, I would give this weekend a B+.

So, how were your “days of rest”? What did you do? Did everything go as planned?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Plan

Quietly, without hesitation
Quickly, silently

How can we come to understand the presence of something that is always with us?

Lurking-
smirking...
Holding us within its grasp,
the realm of which is immeasurable.

A paradox:
evil.
necessary.

A Divine Plan (but whose?)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cravings

Perhaps I'm disclosing too much information here, but the past couple of days I've been thinking a lot about cravings, mostly because of my insatiable urge recently to devour as many Twizzlers as I can get my hands on. Normal girly hormonal fluctuations are the cause for my recent hankerings (at least, I hope they're normal...), but I can recall as a newly pregnant lady, I had been completely dependent on frozen food.

I distinctly remember a time when Kyle went for a meeting and returned to find the freezer filled to the brim with bagel bites, taquitos, and pizza rolls. This, of course, is besides the 3 containers of Ben & Jerry's that lined the freezer door.


As time went on and my belly expanded, I desired Taco Bell. I needed Taco Bell. I would drive anywhere to find it- even in the most undesirable of neighborhoods.







I was completely repulsed by a variety of things- all of which were healthy (or healthier): salad, yogurt, anything labeled as “low-fat” or “fat-free”...

So I'm curious- what are some of the things that you craved, during pregnancy or otherwise, and what foods were you completely turned off by?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Motivators

Where Moms Who Blog Go!

Motivation is a funny thing. 

Sometimes you wake up- the birds are chirping, the sky is blue, and you have the desire to clean the house from top-to-bottom, do seventeen loads of laundry, drive an hour to the zoo to look at the giraffes (silly giraffes), and make a gourmet meal for your husband when he returns home from work- all with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Other times, like today (and yesterday... and the day before that), you sit around, staring at the dishwasher full of clean plates and wonder if it would be so bad to leave them there; to just continue sitting around, staring at the computer screen and eating cold left-over KFC (I blame last night's dose of NyQuil on my current state).

So, the question is, how does one pull him or herself out of a motivational slump; to turn off the “Saved By the Bell” marathon on TBS and actually DO something?

Well, I have no idea what works for everyone, but I know some of the things that help me achieve those things that NEED to be done. Like, today. Now.

  1. I make a list. This way I can cross things out, so it makes me feel accomplished. I put EVERYTHING on my list- from “fold the laundry in the dryer” to “call mom.”
  2. I dress appropriately for the tasks at hand. I remove my 4-inch heels and put on a pair of flip-flops. It pains me, but I can finish everything that needs to be done a lot more easily.
  3. I put on music. I dance. I sing. It isn't pretty.
  4. I give myself little rewards for completing certain tasks. “Once I've dusted the bookshelf and vacuumed the living room , I can sit down and have a handful (I said HANDFUL, Kirsten!) of pretzels while watching E! Until the next commercial break."

So those are my little tips to motivating oneself. What are some of the things you do to get your tush off of the (extremely comfy) couch and into the bedroom to make the bed?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hum


The monotonous hum of the bathroom fan seemed intolerable at first, as I tried to complete the work I’d set out to do; yet, as time wore on, it became less noticeable. Thinking back to that inauspicious day, however, all I can hear is the droning sound of that fan.

Candice was showering. In fact she had been in there so long, I began to imagine how unattractively wrinkled her fingers must be. I considered several disparaging remarks about her “old-lady hands,” said with love, to hit her with when she appeared out her pleasant little spa. In reality, her hands were beautiful: soft, youthful, not an imperfection on them, save for a tiny freckle in between her right forefinger and her thumb. God, how I had once been so infatuated with that diminutive marking.
But I needed to focus.

The finance world was abuzz with talks of mergers among several important companies. This could mean big money, or huge losses; I had to play my cards right.

A crash coming from the other end of the house interrupted my concentration. I leapt up, a feeling of inexplicable foreboding suddenly running rampant at the base of my stomach. “Hun? Candice? Everything okay in there?” I could not hide the urgency or panic in my voice. There was no answer. There would never be an answer.

The most difficult part about losing someone is the knowledge that you will no longer share in the memories to come. When Candice left me, however, she took with her the memories we had once enjoyed in the past as well.

I don’t hate her, I just don’t understand what happened, which is the feeling that the doctors at the hospital say I need to suppress. “There is nothing to understand,” they incessantly, yet patiently, explain.

I recall the exact moment when I knew my life would never be the same. The door to the bathroom was unlocked. Always demure and extremely modest, Candice secured any entry, as though we may be under attack from an army of peeping toms. As I opened the door, the sound hit me right away: the dull hum that would never escape my psyche. I called to her again, my voice echoing in the small, windowless room. Pushing the shower curtain to one side revealed a torrent of lukewarm water being consumed by the ravenous drainpipe. Unsure of my next move, I called out to her again, shutting the water off. Moving through the hallway of the small ranch in a matter of steps, I scanned the bedroom. Empty. The other rooms in the house were unchanged also. How could this be? To this day, I wonder the same thing.

The rest of the experience is somewhat a blur to me. That phrase, “Who is Candice?” repeated by people who I thought were my friends, the skepticism in my parents’ faces as I tried to explain my hurt and confusion, and, finally, my admission into the hospital that I now call home.

Although everyone persists that Candice was never more than a figment of my over-active imagination, I know that she is real, and she’ll come back for me. We will prove them all wrong.

If only that damn humming would stop.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Shall We Share a Spot of Tea?

Sadie (the big dog)
Winnie (the small dog) has not stopped barking and whining in an hour, since Kyle (the husband) took Sadie (the big dog) to the emergency veterinary hospital.
Winnie (the small dog)

Upon seeing my agitation and overall jitteriness, Avery (the small child) brought over her toy teapot and two cups.  I guess she thought perhaps I needed to take a breather.
Avery (the small child)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unhappy Meals?

Where Moms Who Blog Go!



The real question is, should the government be allowed to control the contents of a legal and safe item that is sold to the public? Well, frankly, no.

A San Francisco board committee is getting closer to approving the legislation to ban the toys inside happy meals and kids' meals (you can read about it here). Are the toys unfit for the children to play with? No... Are they made out of marijuana, prompting kids to light them on fire and smoke? No...

The reasoning behind the ban is that, with childhood obesity on the rise, kids should not be extrinsically rewarded for choosing to eat a greasy, fatty (yet completely delectable) cheeseburger and fries.

News flash! It's not their choice.

Show me a 12-year old kid who decides to take his or her mom's car out for a spin to go get some chicken mcnuggets, and I'll show you some more deeply-rooted issues than an ample belly.

If parents feel that their children are not “nutritionally sound” then they should not offer a quick stop at the drive-thru as a dinner option. 

Like so many other things, this is not up to the government to decide.

Monday, October 4, 2010

An "Official" Blogger



So my husband looked at me sitting at the computer this weekend, face about an inch and a half from the screen, fingers primed over the letters of the keyboard, and proclaimed, “Wow, you're like a total blogger now.”
And, I guess I sorta am.

Writing is very relaxing to me, and this site gives me an outlet to do so, about anything I choose; and it's mine, so nobody can tell me that it's wrong. Ha!

So, today I choose to write about dinner last week, specifically the Osso Bucco that I slaved over for Kyle's birthday meal. Using the recipe that I searched for on the food network's site, I set to work.
Searing the meat was easy, yet slightly scary. Knowing the cost for each piece of Osso Bucco, I didn't want to mess up at all, so burning it within the first 30 seconds would not be a good thing.
I caramelized all the veggies and followed the directions to a T. When I went to put the meat back into the pan with the veggies however, I realized that I had about 1/3 of the broth (and the wrong kind- beef versus lamb) that the recipe called for.
I poured it in anyway, along with whatever chicken broth I had lying around and some water. Looking at the pan, which was filled to the brim, I had to wonder, how could I have even fit more broth? Oh well- by that point I had given up trying to make it perfect.
The Osso Bucco slow-cooked in the oven then for about two hours. After it comes out, the meat is supposed to practically fall off the bone. Mmmmm.
The last step is to ladle the broth with the veggies into the blender and puree to make it into a yummy sauce. When I did so, however, an explosion ensued, causing a waterspout that reddened the backsplash in my kitchen and completely soaked my shirt. In retrospect, an apron probably would have been a good thing.
The end result? Success! The meat was delicious over a bed of egg noodles with some roasted veggies and a nice big salad on the side.
*Note: This is not a “weeknight meal.” Unless, of course you want to spend 4 hours in the kitchen on a lovely Tuesday afternoon...

So, this week, I have a couple new recipes to try, both from “Cooking Light” Magazine.

























Let me know if you try either of these out too- and I'll tell you how it went for me!

Love,
An official blogger

Friday, October 1, 2010

Embarrassing High School Moments...

Where Moms Who Blog Go!



Being a teenager is a time of transition, when making mistakes is an everyday occurrence. These blunders help us to become the men and women we are today, so, in that respect, they are necessary.

In high school, there were plenty of moments that were excruciatingly embarrassing, from my numerous stumbles (okay, full-fledged nose-dives) in the hallway to some of the idiotic words that lumbered out of my mouth (how was I ALWAYS wrong?)...

I want to take this opportunity, however, to discuss the wardrobe defects that made up these years:



  • The first trend that was prevalent during this time was the grunge look. Anyone who was anyone had a flannel shirt tied around his or her waist and a distinct air of “I-don't-care-about-anyone-or-anything.”


  • Next was the “co-ed naked” teeshirts. I had one that said “co-ed naked lacrosse” across the front, but I didn't even play clothed lacrosse. Go figure.


  • Another trend during high school was the second coming of the bell-bottom. The bigger the better was the goal of teenaged girls at my school. Finally there was a clothing fad that was distinctly feminine, though.


  • Ugh- the foam platform sandal.
There were so many other horrific styles that we bought into. But by the very end of high school, the chicest ensembles were those that were the most simplistic. For my prom I wore a very uncomplicated navy blue dress with zero adornments.
No fun!
If I could do it again, I would at least have had a feather boa. Or orange opera gloves. Or ridiculous shoes. What's the point of a trend if we can't make fun of it later?

So, tell me- what were some of the terrible (or terribly amazing) clothing (or hairstyle, or toenail polish color, or whatever) fads from YOUR childhood?


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