November 30, 2009

How about an Advent calendar with 365 windows??


The tree is up. There's 3 ornaments on it so far. It's hard enough to put it up so early no less have to decorate it. But being that our whole life revolves around Christmas all year long, why wait another moment to put the tree up. Heck, I'm shocked it didn't go up earlier!

I don't know if all kids with Autism go through 'obsessions', but I know many that do. Sometimes they can last for a few weeks, and sometimes, as in our case, well over a year. It started with something simple I'm sure, maybe a book or a tv show, but it snowballed. Fast. Uncontrollably. At first it was fun, who doesn't love Christmas?!? And, I was ok with it because Alex was actually interested in something. It kept his interest, encouraged pretend play, and made him happy. What more could I ask for?

And here we about 14 months later. I just looked at this post and realized just how long it has been. Funny how at that time I really thought it would just fade away. That same toy is still sitting across from me as I type, and many have joined it. People have been complaining the last few weeks about radio stations starting Christmas music early? I have a steady rotation of cds in my car, all Christmas music, all year long. Want to watch a dvd in our house? Your first choices would be Frosty, Olive the Reindeer, Elmo's Christmas, or Christmas Eve on Sesame. Feels weirds sitting in the air conditioning in mid-July singing 'Keep Christmas with You.' I can go on, but I'm sure you get the point.

Let me clarify that I'm not complaining here. I'm happy he's happy. It's more of a vent I guess. Some days it gets overwhelming. Sad even. And when the real Christmas rolls around and I have no desire to celebrate because I feel like I'm stuck in the movie Groundhog's Day, I feel bad. What kind of mom doesn't want to put the ornaments on the tree?

Well, right now the answer is: this mom. I'm sure as the weeks progress and it feels more like Christmas I'll be able to be more excited. But right now I'll just continue to sit here on my rocker and watch The Santa Clause.

November 27, 2009

Freebie Friday....Kinda Sorta.....


With Thanksgiving and Black Friday here, there aren't too many great freebies around this week. But I did still want to stick with money-saving item for today, so I thought I'd share one I recently found.

Baby Einstein has been in the news alot lately, with parents complaining that the dvds do not make children as brilliant as the company claims. Shocker. If you are not satisfied with your dvds, you can return up to four titles, in orginal box, for either exchanges or better yet full refunds of $15.99 per dvd.

My kids enjoyed them over the years, but we are done with them, and what better way to recycle and make some money back?

Here's the link to the refund offer. Happy Friday!

November 26, 2009

I'm Thankful


Some lists I come across are very serious, some are silly. Mine is a happy combination of the ridiculous and sane. I can think of tons to be thankful for this year, but I've chosen my top things to showcase. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I'm Thankful For....

The boys – they keep me laughing even on days I feel like crying

My Hubby – for working hard, driving far, and providing us with everything we need

Michael Kors
– he has supplied me with a few really pretty things this year


Facebook
–  it's fun to catch up with so many friends from years ago that I would have never contacted otherwise


My Sister
– watching her overcome huge obstacles this year shows me anything can be done if you work hard enough


Miss Mary
– my little one would not be growing and learning half as much without her. Our lives have truly been blessed with her help


My Mom and Dad
– they are my go-to people. If I need anything, they are no farther than a phonecall away, and my dad even closer. Some days would be so hard to get through without his help


My coffeepot
– it has served us well for about 2 years now. Serves me hot, perfect coffee every morning. Without it I’d be a bumbling fool.

The electric blanket
– never had one my whole life, but now I can’t live without it. Not only does it make for great snuggling with the kids, but it helps with heating bills too.

Weight Watchers – not a topic I really like to talk about, but without them and their support system this year I wouldn’t be the skinnier, happy mama I am today.

The Wii – it’s given our family hours of enjoyment together and we have regular family fun game nights because of it.

November 25, 2009

A Near Death Experience

We learned very quickly the other day just how fast someone or something can be lost. Thankfully for us everything turned out ok, but I'd like to share the little tale with you.

Mr. Bear was a gift for Alex from my mom when he was born. Chris got one from her too when he was born. Both bears have been through everything, and yet they still cling to life. Alex relies on his bear way more than Chris, so his looks like it's been dragged behind the car for a good amount of time. While still cute, he shows his age.

Over the last few months we've tried to lessen the use of bear. He went from coming everywhere with us, to staying in someone's pocket while out, then just a picture of him would come with us, and now he stays home. Of course Alex takes him to bed with him, and getting ready for bed is when our near death tale occured.

Alex was going through the nightly routine in the bathroom, and somehow Mr. Bear fell in the potty. Ew yes, but it gets worse. Not only did he fall in, but Alex flushed!! Thank goodness Chris is a quick kid, and without thinking twice put his arm in and pulled out Mr. Soaking Wet Peed On Bear just as only his head was sticking out of the hole. After a lot of cleaning up and drying off(thanks Mary!) everyone was safe and went off to bed.

No amount of money could replace Mr. Bear and the many ways he's helped Alex over the last few years. He'll never know how close he came to being one with the earth. Tomorrow I will be posting my thankful list, and I know if Alex had a list, Mr. Bear would be right at the top.

November 24, 2009

Finished with the Fit

Everyone knows I love my Wii Fit. I've used it plenty over the last year, but as time goes on it's just not keeping my interest anymore. So over the weekend I did some research and found a handful of new exercise-based games for the Wii. Some that got a ton of hype got terrible reviews from users, so they were easy to weed out. I narrowed my search down to two choices: Gold's Gym and EA Sports Active.

I chose EA Sports Active because the other game was less rounded. EA has a ton of different exercises, set workouts, and a journal to keep track of your progress. I decided to jump right in and start with the 30 day challenge. Today is Day 3 of my challenge. Even though I chose the easiest of the 3 levels of the challenge, it's certainly not easy - I'm very sore today! 

Hopefully I can see the challenge through, and what better time than now during holiday eating season. Maybe I can share my progress here each week:)

November 23, 2009

Today's Recipe


I've decided to give a non-crockpot recipe today, but still an easy one nonetheless. I know some people only use the grill in warmer months, but here we use it throughout the year. We keep a shovel out on the back deck, and make a clear path to the grill all winter.

So my recipe today is a simple grilled chicken that will make you feel like you are sitting on the deck in the sun, even though you're watching it snow out the window.


Grilled Chicken Bruschetta

1 pound chicken breasts
1/3 cup sun-dried tomato dressing
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella
1 chopped tomato
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped

Directions:
1. Marinate chicken in resealable bag with 2 tablespoons dressing and refrigerate.
2. Combine the rest of the dressing, tomato, mozzerella, and basil in bowl
3. Place aluminum foil over half the grill and turn on med-low heat. Grill chicken on un-foiled side for 6 minutes.
4. When ready to flip the chicken, flip it onto the foil side of the grill, and top with cheese mixture. Close grill and cook until done.

I serve this one with a salad. It has a beautiful fresh flavor and I know if you try it you will make it many times over. Enjoy!

November 20, 2009

Freebie Friday!!


Happy Friday everyone! After a long morning waiting for/watching New Moon, I'm glad to have this post ready to go. Here's a few freebies to start your weekend off right!

#1 - Free copy of the new novel New World Monkeys by Nancy Mauro
#2 - Free sample of Pampers Extra Protection
#3 - Free can of Steaz Organic Iced Tea

November 19, 2009

Go Read Elsewhere Today! Please:)


Today is another one of those days where I had something funny to write about, but then got sidetracked. After reading a post from my awesome friend Courtney, I just knew I had to share it with my blog friends. I want to share it because it's a great blog to follow, she's a great person, and the post itself will ring true to many moms I know. So thanks for stopping by to see me, but I want you to leave now, and go read Courtney's latest post RIGHT HERE!!

November 18, 2009

Calgon take me away!


Kids are screaming, phone is ringing. FedEx guy is ringing the doorbell, dinner is bubbling over. Homework isn't done, laundry isn't folded, kids need a bath. Typical evening to any mom!

When I have a day like that, I already know ahead of time there's no escaping it. Just keep moving, don't stop think or get upset. But every once in a while I just stop in my tracks and close my eyes. I picture my favorite spot in the world to be. It's quiet, it's beautiful, and most importantly, in my mind it's kid-free.

Cape Cod was my home away from home every summer until I got married. Sometimes I'd only get to stay for a weekend, but once in a while grandma would decide we could stay for a few weeks. The beach was a few blocks from the house. I have more memories of being there than I can even describe, and even though I don't get to visit there much anymore, I still think of it often. Sitting on the huge rocks, just watching the water and thinking of nothing is where I daydream to.

What place does your mind wander to when you need to escape a hectic day?


November 17, 2009

Play That Funky Music Supermarket....


Yes, I love music. Yes, I talk about it too much sometimes. This morning when I woke up I already knew what I was going to write about today(not music!). But later in the day I went to lunch with hubby and younger son and a new topic took over my thoughts. Music in public places!

Sometimes you may not even realize that there's music playing when you're in a store or restaurant. But sometimes, you'll hear it, start to hum without thinking about it, and before you know it you'll be saying 'O MY GOD I used to love this song!!!'  But then, there's those times, especially as you get older, that you'll go into a store and want to get out as fast as you can because the music is too loud or obnoxious. I'm not quite there yet myself, but I've been with my mom on numerous occasions and have witnessed her unraveling and fleeing within seconds, telling me she'll wait out front. I'm sure my day will come too.

I can tell you that I shop at one local supermarket more than others because I LOVE the music they play there. May sound super weird to you, but when food shopping becomes a source of peace and quiet away from the kids, you want it to be as enjoyable as possible. I don't even bring my iPod when I go to that store.

Today's lunch was at Friday's. More than a handful of times either me or hubby bopped along to some great 90s tunes. Gave us something to talk about over lunch and share memories of when the music was current.

I can go on and on about different places and their music. It's something I look for(or I guess listen for) when I shop, almost everywhere I go. Take a listen next time you're out and about and see how the music affects your experience with that business. Probably more than you realize.

November 16, 2009

Crockpot Recipe of the Day


Chicken Marsala has always been one of my favorite meals. But the all the preparation and steps that need to be taken to make the meal can be a real hassle on a busy weeknight. So last week I decided to try making it in the crockpot. I had no recipe, but I've made regular chicken marsala enough times to know what should be in the pot. Husband was away on a business trip, so my dad and I tried it out. Let me tell you how fantastic it was! Not only was it the heart-warming taste I had hoped for, but the chicken was more tender than when I make it the traditional way. So try this over the winter and let me know how you like it, or how you changed the recipe to make it your own!

Crockpot Chicken Marsala

1- pound chicken cutlets
1- 8oz package mushrooms(I buy pre-sliced, save even more time!)
1- cup marsala wine
2 - tbsp butter
1- cup of flour

Directions:
1. Wet chicken with water, then cover with flour.
2. Spray crockpot with Pam and place in chicken.
3. Melt butter and pour over chicken.
4. Put whole container of mushrooms in pot on top of chicken. Pour marsala wine over all ingredients.
5. Cook on low 4-6 hours depending on thickness of chicken.

Serve with some rice or pasta and a little side salad for a wonderful meal. Enjoy!

November 13, 2009

FREEBIE FRIDAY!!!

I'm going to try to do this every Friday, since it's been a part of my weekly routine as long as I can remember. My sister and I have a saying: "If it's free, it's for me." So true. What I'd like to do is give a few links to free items that are worth getting, and more importantly, that you don't have to jump through hoops for. Nothing worse than finding a link for a freebie, then having to answer a 6 page survey, not even knowing if you'll actually ever receive said freebie!

So without further ado, here are my freebie picks of the week. Go ahead, sign up - what are you waiting for??



November 12, 2009

What's on my iPod...revisited

I did a post a while back about some songs I could not live without on my iPod(well, iPhone now, same thing). I was going to make a new list since it's been a while, but as I started thumbing through my playlist, I realized I just had to tell about one artist instead. She's not super well known, and I really think she should be.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are out of sight. She has the standard issue background of church singing, backup singing, and in 2001 they finally formed their group. In 2007 their album 100 Days, 100 Nights was released. It's soulful Rhythm and Blues, and man can she sing. I love all kinds of music, but I especially love music of the 50s and 60s. The power in Sharon's voice reminds me of some top ladies of that time.

Watch them here! Check them out, you won't be sorry:)

November 11, 2009

"Press 1 for our customer service department..."


I taught a lesson to a class about 10 years ago that I think was one of the most useful things I ever shared with my students. It's a lesson for consumers of any age, so I thought it would be great to share here too.

Why is it that people get nervous about telling a company how they really feel about a product or service? They complain they don't like something to friends or family, but then never do anything about it. I get so aggravated when I see that happening. We are consumers. We pay good money(too much these days) for goods and services from companies and people we trust. Sure, sometimes it's just what we hoped for, and positive feedback for a job well done or product satisfaction is nice too. But it's our job, as the paying consumers, to let these businesses know how we feel. How else are they going to improve their attitudes, products, food, etc?

I like to voice my opinion and sometimes a bit loudly. As long as I've been in the consumer market I've been telling businesses how I feel. Sure, sometimes it falls on deaf ears, sometimes they yell back. But sometimes, they are pleased to have the feedback, and compensate me for my time, ideas, problems, etc. Some things I've gotten over the years are: $30 diaper coupons(that's $30 each coupon!), tons of free food coupons, new jackets, new sneakers, product logo hats and bags. I can go on and on. Sometimes I write letters, sometimes I make phone calls, and sometimes I just walk right into the store.

When I was teaching 6th grade many moons ago I decided to teach my class about being a good consumer. I asked them all if they were ever unhappy with a product or business. Strangely, even at that age most of them were. We worked together on letter writing and each student sent a letter to a company of their choice. After a few weeks of waiting replies started to come in! Some got freebies, some coupons. I remember one girl telling a film company she couldn't find b&w film anywhere and they sent her a few rolls! And while not all students received a reply or a compensation, it was proof to them that they matter. Their feedback was important, even at such a young age.

So if you have something you like to grumble or rave about, try a call or letter. You never know what you might get!

November 10, 2009

Hello, my name is Allison, and I snap my gum.


I just read a funny Q&A somewhere asking about gum etiquette and how to tell people it's offensive. Yes, cow chewing is a bit obnoxious, but I wouldn't say offensive. But I'm here to represent the gum snapping, bubble blowing people of the world. I do it, I love it, I make no apologies for it.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm almost always chewing gum. It's in every pocket of every jacket or bag that I own. I have downgraded to sugar free over the last few years, but once in a while splurge for a real piece of Hubba Bubba. I love gum. I love trying new gums. I stand at the checkouts in stores for an extra few minutes just seeing if there's any new gums to try. And sadly, as I'm typing, I just got up to see if there was any gum in the kitchen because it's now stuck in my mind.

Some people bite and chew their nails(gross), twirl their hair, shake their knee, slurp soup, talk on cell phones too loud, and my list can go on and on. Yes, some are just annoying habits, but some are stress relievers. Do you eat when you're stressed out? Yell for no good reason? Well, I snap my gum. And not only do I do I use the gum as my stress reliever, it also helps me to not eat when I shouldn't, and it helps me when I'm thinking something through. I don't know how I'd cope some days without having gum. It's my drug of choice. It keeps me sane.

So the next time someone is snapping gum and pissing you off, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are just having a really crap day.

November 9, 2009

Well I'm Shameless...


Husband had to go to DC this week to the XM studios. DJs, celebrities. I asked if he was taking the camera, and he said he would so I could see who might pop up in the studios. I told him I didn't really care about celebrities(even though I read US Magazine obsessively) and he didn't buy it. "You're telling me, if Billy Joel was in the studio, you wouldn't care and want a picture?" I tried to play it cool and of course again said no, have seen him plenty in concert, he's just a regular person, etc etc. (See pic at left as he serenaded me years ago:)

Then I really thought about that this morning. Of course I'd want to see him! He's surely on my short list of musicians I admire. Saw a few concerts, all awesome, but to meet him would be peachy. If my dad wasn't old and retired and still worked at Sony Records, I'm sure I would have gotten the chance eventually. Sadly, now I have to act like every other old mommy acting like a Woo girl at his shows(Woo girl, you know, the ones that scream and yell 'woooohooooo!')

But if you happen to know Mr. Joel or know a way for me to get to where he is ever, feel free to let me know. I'm Shameless, and am Keeping the Faith. Don't Ask Me Why, but he'll always be my Piano Man. (Wow, I got 4 songs in there, wasn't sure that would work lol)

Recipe of the day

I love posting recipes that I know any mom, dad, or Rosie the Robot can make for a nice family meal. Today I'm going to stick with another simple crockpot recipe.


Easy Creamy Salsa Chicken
1 pound chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning(we use the extra hot and spicy but that's your call!)
1-2 cups salsa
1/2 cup sour cream


Directions:
1. Spray crockpot with pam and place in a layer of chicken.
2. Sprinkle half packet of taco seasoning on chicken and top with half salsa.
3. Repeat with another layer of chicken, seasoning, salsa. Cover and cook low 4-6 hrs depending on how thick your chicken is.
4. When chicken is cooked through, remove chicken from mixture, put sour cream in crock and mix. Then place chicken back in. Sometimes when I'm lazy I leave the chicken in and mix it all up, but it does break up sometimes.


That's it! I serve it with some Goya Rice and some sweet corn cake and everyone is happy. Of course if you're feeling wild since you saved so much time making dinner, make some fresh guacamole and salsa. Enjoy!

November 4, 2009

Keep you home warmer and your bills lower!!

Money is tight for many families these days, and I have many moms asking me how to save some money. One of my easiest recommendations is to change your curtains!

Did you know that heat loss through windows and doors can account for up to 50% of your heating bill? Especially true with older homes that are not insulated as well. Sometimes as I sit here on the couch next to the window I can even feel a bit of a draft. But something as simple as hanging thermal curtains makes a world of difference.

There are a few different types and they may have different names when you see them. Thermal, felt backed, insulated, foambacks, window quilts. But all have the same purpose in life: to keep your family warmer and to save you money. Now I must say, sometimes they are not the most attractive curtains on the market, and usually they are backed in white(drives my sister crazy!) But sometimes the necessity has to outweigh the fashion. Here's a pair I just found, and I say pretty trendy!

These types of curtains do tend to cost a bit more than regular panels, but if you find a sale and buy a set you really like, they will last you many, many years. I bought one set when we first built our house, then another for the dining room the following year. I put them up around this time every year and keep them up through spring. Well worth the investment and certainly helps on those quick climbing bills!

Oh, and one more fact about thermal curtains: if your home gets too hot during summer months and you don't have a/c, keep them up then too - they actually cool the house as well. Man what a cool invention:)

November 3, 2009

The most important meal of the day!

Of course studies show that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day as far as your health goes. But I also believe it's the most important way to start the kids' day. Sure, every morning can't start off fun and smiley, but I try as often as I can to get them out the door in a good mood. Today this helped a ton:

Oatmeal topped with a smiley of whipped cream and some rainbow sprinkles. Easy, quick, and can make a world of difference in the day at school. Happy Tuesday!

November 2, 2009

A Quick Recipe


Sometimes you know you should make dinner, but just don't feel like it. Well, if you have a few easy ingredients and an almighty crockpot you're all set. Here's my recipe of the week(yes, I'm going to try weekly!)


Simple Pulled Pork Sandwiches
1 - pork tenderloin(or roast, or even some pork chops work)
1 - juicy orange
1 - bottle of bbq sauce of choice.


Directions:
1. Spray crockpot with Pam, place in pork.
2. Add bbq sauce and juice from whole orange.
3. Cook all day, 6-8 hrs on low. Shred.
4. Place on nice soft roll. Serve with chips and pickles.


Tada! So easy and the boys really love it. A great homemade meal for fall:)

November 1, 2009

Change is Good?

Selfishly I tried to make the switch to Wordpress today. Hours wasted to try to learn their ways, and after complete discouragement I gave up. I just figured it would be neat to blog from the iPhone. Turns out I found a free little app for blogger which I'm testing out now! Hopefully I'll be here more now- Happy November everyone:)

- Mama