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Monday, January 24, 2011

Guess there is Such a Thing as Too Spicy!

I made my wonderful chicken and sausage jambalaya tonight for dinner and I have to admit that there definitely is such a thing as too spicy.  I guess I went a little over board dumping in tons of black and red pepper and spicy sausage.  Then adding half a gallon of hot sauce to my serving(s).  My mouth hurts!

But I did make sure to add the spiciest parts at the end and had plenty to serve the kids that wasn't too hot and they are loving it (minus the Z word!)!! 

Horray for a successful dinner.  :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who Says Minivans Aren't Cool???

Well...THEY aren't cool!  I read an article in the newspaper about research saying that moms still think minivans are uncool.  I have a minivan.  It's by necessity, yes but it's also one of my most favorite purchases EVER.
I. Love. Minivans.  Always have.  I have an older sister but she is 11 years older so a minivan never came into question for just the two of us.  
I remember my 3 cousins having a minivan and I was so jealous.  5 different seats to choose from?  Uhhh...super fabulous.  There were 3 rows!  THREE ROWS!  I could have had a totally cool fort in a minivan.  Or pretended that I was in a cavernous space ship.  I could have easily changed into my ballet clothes, the ones that I refused to wear until the absolute last minute.  I could have changed seats on every trip!  My 7 year old world would have rocked in a minivan.  
My 16 year old self kind of loved sports cars, especially after my friend taught me how to drive a stick (forever will appreciate that golden bit of knowledge).  But a small part of me was thinking how awesome it would be to be able to cart around tons of friends all at once.  Road trip anyone?  EVERYone?!  Not in my 2-seater for sure (though I loved that car too).   
I had a kid.  Had to get rid of 2-seater and all I could think about was the MINIVAN.  Unfortunately one kid and not a lot of money means no minivan. But I was always looking them up online, checking out the specs and drooling over the pictures.  
2 kids and a dog later and the minivan was feeling like a necessity and not just a want.  Even in our midsized sedan we couldn't fit the 3 car/booster seats properly so we went shopping!  
Still being broke  on a limited income we basically had to take what we could get but decided on a slightly pricey vehicle- on which we had to make payments.  I'd rather spend more on a better car than on cell phones/cable/expensive whatevers, waiting in the cold and/or heat with our kids and broken car.  We didn't search long- they are readily available and we were willing buyers.  One evening we went home in our brand new (to us) Dodge Grand Caravan!  It even had magical stuff like heated front seats, automatic doors, stow-and-go seating and a dvd player!  

We bought this in...July 2008.  Still have it, still love it.  And guess what?  I don't feel uncool.  I don't feel old.  I feel like I found my car and I love it.  It only took 20-something years.  :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Preparing for the 8 glasses-a-day Crystal Light challenge on Gather (A Gather Flashback)

A flashback Gather post.  This was written on May 28, 2009.  A lot has changed since then- new baby, updated Crystal Light- they now have their Pure Fitness line with NO artificial sweeteners or colors!!  I am still overweight but ever since doing this challenge I have been more aware of the amount of water I drink and I don't drink nearly as much soda as I used to (hardly any!).  I am currently buying Crystal Light Pure Fitness on a regular basis and add it to my water when I don't want plain water.  At only 15 calories per serving it totally beats soda.  1/12/2010.


I was choosen to receive Crystal Light and a re-usable Eddie Bauer water bottle for the water challenge on Gather.
This is going to be fun! Unfortunately it has that unplesant dye that I am not fond of and I can't seem to find what it is sweetened with. I would totally be alright with it being clear!!! I'm not a kid- I don't need things to look the way they are supposed to taste.

So, why do I need to prepare for a challenge that consists of drinking the required amount of water every day? I do carry a water bottle with me everywhere but I am no where close to drinking the amount of water that I should. Sometimes it is laziness. Sometimes I just don't want water, even though I love it. And sometimes I want it cold and it isn't, so I just don't drink it. I could go get ice, but that goes back to the laziness thing. That is why this is going to be a challenge for me. It is really hard to make myself do something if I don't want to. It is going to be a serious effort for me to follow the rules but I am going to try! Another major hurdle for me will be my discovery of Pepsi Throwback. I find something like that then I have to give it up??! Bleh!

To make the most of this challenge I am adding to it. To start, I weighed myself today. I am currently 153 lbs., give or take since it isn't a perfect scale. I wear a size 12 and large tops. At 5'4" I am overweight. I will say I am only a maximum of 20 lbs. overweight, because I am larged-boned and in high school I was anywhere between 125-135 lbs and definitely not fat. I wore size 9 jeans and was in a large (junior). I took ballet and was on the tennis team. I had a perfect stomach- I could sit and there was no rolling. I had cellulite even when I was younger and I've never seemed to be able to get that under control. The rest of my body was so-so. Even though I was active I always seemed to have a lazy body- I was still flabby in some places, like my arms and legs. There was muscle, but it got stuck under fat. Anyhow, that is how I have decided just how overweight I am. I think that increasing my water in-take, getting rid of soda and all that good stuff is going to get me closer to my long-term goal of weighing around 140. My short-term goal is to weigh 145. I don't leap for the stars.

I have always had an energy problem. I always feel tired even when I've had plenty of sleep. I can always use a boost. Maybe the answer has always been that I just need more water. Let's hope!

I also visited the Crystal Light ad here on Gather to see what they have to say. They are also holding the challenge and offer lots of features including a chance to win prizes, articles and tips. They also have provided registered users with a widget to keep track of their water intake. I copied the widget and tried to post it to my blog as a test but it didn't show up. I don't know if that problem was on my end or theirs. It didn't work here either but then I think Gather limits where you can get your widgets, right?

Are you participating in the water challenge? Remember that anyone can participate. Most of us could benefit!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Bought a Dutch Rubber Broom...Now What?

So I bought this broom, the Everholder FURemover (rubber broom): 

It came with the rubber broom and a handheld brush (also rubber). 

I've read good reviews of rubber brooms in general and thought I should try it.  It's affordable and super easy to clean, which were my two major requirements.  It's not a steam mop but at least I can afford this one. 
So far I've tried the handheld on carpet and it didn't do so well on my area rug.  Maybe I did it wrong?  I haven't tried it for my hard floors yet.  I bought it more for the hard floors (as a mop) than the hair removing feature.  I'm looking forward to trying it!  I really hate to clean but I have an obsession with mop and vacuum products.  If I had the money I'd probably own them all! 

Anyone have suggestions on how to make this most of my new purchase? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bzz: A Review of Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean (A Bzz Agent Flashback Review)


I recently received 2 bottles of Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean from Bzz Agent.  Extend-A-Clean features a continuous sprayer so you don't have to keep pressing on the trigger, making for an easier-to-use and better coverage cleaner.  Another feature is that they claim you can go up to 4 days longer without having to clean by providing an invisible barrier on the surfaces that are being cleaned.  

The first thing I did was explore the Scrubbing Bubbles website to learn more.  
 Useful information from the website ( 
         "Works on most bathroom surfaces, including tubs, showers, glazed ceramic tile, stainless steel, chrome fixtures, fiberglass, vinyl and glazed porcelain. Avoid prolonged contact with wood, aluminum and painted, lacquered or soft surfaces. DO NOT USE on gold plated fittings, semi-glazed and resurfaced enamel baths, natural marble, travertine or brass."
  1. Squeeze and hold trigger for continuous spray. Spray 8-12 inches from surface to clean. Cover surface evenly. Allow foam to penetrate dirt and soap scum (for tough jobs, let stand several minutes).
  2. Wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge, then rinse.
  3. Good ventilation during use is recommended. 
 Where to use it?  Everywhere in the bathtub (except the inside of the toilet)- shower, tub, tile, shower doors, sinks, faucets and fixtures.
 What's the difference between this and other cleaners?  The invisible barrier cleans every time the surface gets wet, up to 4 days. 
Anything else?  No visible residue is left behind, according to the site.  The triggers are designed to last 2 years and the batteries are expected to last through approximately 8 refills (that relieves my "OMG- more batteries?" feeling).  The product is citrus-scented.

My initial thoughts on this product:  
*Easy to set up and use.  I like the safety lock feature.
*What does an invisible barrier mean when it's time to bathe the kids?  With four kids I'm giving baths usually at least once a day.  And what about if their toothbrushes or toys that they might put in their mouth or in the tub touch a wet surface that was sprayed?  Will they be "cleaned"?  A little concerning!  The site says that, if used properly, the product can be used around kids.  It doesn't say "safely used".
*I was curious about how the continuous sprayer would compare to a regular spray bottle- is it really necessary to have ANOTHER product that requires batteries to function?  
*Would having a different type of sprayer ensure that the entire product would be used (or would some be wasted)?  
*$10 for a cleaner??  Yikes!  $7 for a refill?  Double yikes!          
*"use with good ventilation" is never a good phrase to use with a cleaner, especially with kids and the lack of a bathroom ventilation fan.

So...I gave it a try.  I opened a window and turned on the bathroom's ceiling fan (we only have 1 bathroom).  I set it up (easy to do) and started spraying.  Then I immediately dropped the bottle and ran from the room!  The smell!!  It would be a good smell if there wasn't so much of it.  I don't have asthma but thought this might trigger an attack anyway.  It was very overwhelming.  

The sprayer was kind of fun to use- you squeeze the trigger and it makes a whirring sound as it sprays the desired surface.  It comes out sort of foamy, so you know where it's going.  I sprayed the whole bathtub and let it sit for a few minutes (you sort of have to wait- away from the bathroom- because of the smell).  After a few minutes I took a washcloth and started wiping.  I was impressed with how well it cleaned.  It got off some of the stains that I thought were permanent in the tub.  Nothing else has ever gotten them off (though I haven't tried baking soda yet).  I was a little afraid to let the kids take a bath after using it though, so after I was done cleaning I ran the shower and then wiped the tub down again with a new wet washcloth because the barrier made me uncomfortable.  

The verdict: I give this product a 10 for cleaning power, a 10 for ease of use, a 1 for "green" power, a 1 for price and a 2 for safety around kids after cleaning, during regular bathroom use (I wouldn't consider allowing my children in the area during or for 5-10 minutes after spraying).  

I would not buy this product to regularly clean my bathroom, especially at the retail price.  I'm just not comfortable enough using it around my kids and it's one of the most costly bathroom cleaners I've ever seen.  The scent is good but far too strong and I do not have any respiratory issues.  While it was fun to use, I think having a battery-operated sprayer is totally unnecessary and wasteful.  If I wasn't as environmentally aware of what I use in my house, and if I didn't have kids I would consider it as my regular bathroom cleaner. 

I have to add that I did a comparison against another product and Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean totally beat the other product (A natural product) in the cleaning competition.  It really does work well, but for our family it is not a good fit. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Silly Kids

I shared this with my Facebook friends but forgot to blog it.  But charming 3 year old boys must be blogged about! 
One morning I was downstairs enjoying my coffee.  The two older kids were at school and the two younger ones were sleeping in our bedroom with dad.  Suddenly I heard 3 year old Jonas talking.  I mean, really talking- going on and on about something.  He was singing a song then he shouted and mumbled.  I ran upstairs to check on him..and he was asleep!!! 
This is the first time he really talked in his sleep.  His older sister Amara used to scream in her sleep and she still fights with her siblings in her sleep.  Tattling and everything, lol!  Anyway, I went back downstairs because everyone was still sleeping soundly.  
About 5-10 minutes later he actually did wake up.  When I heard him on the baby monitor I went up and walked in the door.  He jumped up on the bed and yelled, "Surprise!  I woke up baby Henry with a Cock-a-doodle-doooo.  Now, let's eat!!  

That kid cracks me up! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to...

ME!  Today is my birthday and I am 24 years old.  Haha, just kidding!  I'm 29.  Born in 1982 just a few miles from where I live, at the York Hospital (during a snowstorm, so the idea of snow tomorrow is very exciting for me!).  Same place my bebes were born.  Cool, huh?   
I get a huge kick out of my birthday being 1/11/11.  It will happen one more time, on 11/11/11 and then not again until 2/2/22.  Makes me feel special.  :) 

If anyone wants to know what to get me it's this baby right here:   ;)

They just look so magical! 

So, tomorrow for my birthday I'm going to get a mani-pedi and a massage at the spa, then dinner at my favorite restaurant and a movie (Black Swan is my first choice). 
HAHAHAHAHA!  Just kidding.  My plans are far less glamorous.  I'm getting the older two off to school then probably grocery shopping in the afternoon since we are low again and the snow is supposed to be coming.  I always have to shop right before a snowstorm is forecasted.  I have such bad timing.  I need milk this time too.  Hopefully I don't have to fight an old lady for some.  Then Jason will be heading off with Zachary and Jonas for Zach's piano lesson and I'll be off to ballet with Amara and Henry (just Amara is dancing).  After ballet is girl scouts and then I'll be arriving late to our PTO meeting.  (Yes, I am a PTO mom and yes, I am liking going to a meeting on my birthday.  I'm not one of THOSE PTO moms.  I actually don't feel any of us are.  They are all great ladies and I like spending time with them!  I feel lucky to have great moms who all want what's best for the kids...and we can all act like adults!)

Doesn't it sound like a blast?  I really wouldn't have it any other way.  Unless there's an affordable Mommy & Me spa nearby.  I am actually getting that massage from my mom on Thursday (I can't wait!!!).  Dinner with the family (MY choice) would be nice.  And some ice cream cake.  There needs to be ice cream cake!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Henry's Wobbling!

Henry took his very first step on December 23, 2010.  After that it seemed he decided he wasn't ready any more because the majority of the time he held on as he made his way around the house.  But not today!  Today he was toddling everywhere.  It's so darn cute to see them wobbling with their short, chubby legs!  Whenever I saw him I cheered him on and he would get so exciting, bouncing, clapping and plopping down on his bottom.  I just want to eat him up!!! 

So even though his official start date for his first step is the 23rd I will say that his first day of really walking is January 10, 2011.  And what a great birthday present for ME!  It's a day early, but I don't mind.  I'd rather be surprised a day early than not surprised at all :D



I was So Worried That I Wouldn't Be Able To Use my New Computer Keyboard Outside During a Sandstorm But my Concern was Totally Unfounded

Flashback humorous review of a computer keyboard from (not the maker, I never did find a name brand on the product).

April 20, 2007.

I bought a keyboard from recently and it just arrived today. It's called the (no name brand) Flexible Keyboard. It came rolled up into a can-shaped plastic container, to show off it's roll-up-ability. I opened it up and was blown away (almost literally) by the funky smell coming out of the container. It was plastic-y mixed with a chemical scent.

It is a translucent white that glows in the dark. I think I will call it "Glo worm". The keys feel really cool though based on ratings that I read AFTER I bought it, it isn't very popular among users. Most complain about a different key setup for certain keys but I don't know about that yet.

Ooooh...I just got to the good part. The stuff about sandstorms and sharp objects. When I buy something the first thing I do is usually look for the paper inserts that explain the product and share warnings, instructions and other great information. So I pulled that out after pushing the buttons a few times (the buttons are so squishy and fun to bubble wrap) and opened up to the warnings. The "don't"s are available in picture and word formats. And they all have the circle with the big slash over them. The obvious- don't use sharp objects around it. Now, read this CAREFULLY. Any spelling or grammatical errors in the following section are not me. Prior to this section I take full responsibility for the crummy grammar.

"It cannot be contacted with oil or organic impregnate like acetone and Toulon, aso." "It cannot be pressed when it was rolled." "Do not place heavy objects on in a long time." "It cannot be pulled into the oven and putted on the fire to teast." "It cannot pull out stretch to twist or pull it."

Good thing I haven't been hungry for keyboard teast lately (or I haven't wanted to teast the endurance of a keyboard on a fire?). I also have little urge to lube up my keyboard.
Now, what exactly can I do with this if I can't pull out stretch to twist it? Well, I can use it in the baby pool or the bathtub, as long as the water is "shallow" (I so need a computer in my bathroom now). And of course "it can be used in a dusty environment, even in sandstorms" (now where is my sandstorm-proof computer?).
The funniest thing I have read so far...

"Material: High quality silicon, the keyboard has no poisonous or bad smell." (I'm starting to question that smell I mentioned before. I'm sure it isn't poisonous or bad because they said it's not...)

Now all jokes aside (almost- I can't always help myself), this keyboard has some cool features. That water-proofness will come in handy if (when) a liquid is spilled on it, as long as it isn't oil (note to Jason that no baby oil should be used during his quality computer It can also be washed using water or alcohol so if (when) someone spills something on it it can be easily cleaned up.

...Are they SURE it doesn't have a smell?

I later learned that ALL computer keyboards can be washed in the dishwasher.  Just dry them completely before plugging back in to the computer.  This has come in SO handy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fathers Day Poem from Zachary (Age 6) Flashback

I wrote this almost 3 years ago. I'm posting it again for two reasons. The first is that the place I posted it MAY close their doors to the casual writing community in the future and I don't want to lose my more precious stuff (family things). The second is that I want all of my favorites on THIS blog. So here ya go!

June 10, 2008.

School is out for the summer but before it was over my son's class wrote letters to their dads for father's day. Zachary is 6 years old and just finished first grade. He has terrible handwriting (so do I).
I read this and started crying because this is just so sweet! And hearing it straight from him makes it mean so much. It also tells us what he doesn't say. Things that he wishes his dad would do more of with him. Jason wanted to wait until father's day to read it so he hasn't seen it yet.

I'll write it too- it's difficult to read:

My dad is the best dad in the world.
I love my dad because he wrestles with me.
I love my dad because he does stuff with us.
I love my dad because he comes to places to eat with us.
I love my dad because sometimes he says yes when my mom says no.
My dad is fun.
Love Zachary

Friday, January 7, 2011

Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the next Tv Star

Getting a sneak peak of the premiere episode of Oprah's new show (on her new network OWN) Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the next Tv Star, from SheSpeaks was a real treat. 
It's a typical contest-type show with eliminations, competitions and teams.  If you like reality competitions then this is definitely one to tune in to!  The show starts with 10 very different contestants, chosen from thousands of entries.  They are placed in two teams that have to compete to create the best talk show.  They are assigned (by their teammates) roles of producer, host, etc.  During each show they will have a special guest star who is also their mentor. 

Check out to find OWN on your network.  The premiere of Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the next Tv Star is on totnight, FRIDAY, January 7, 2011 at 9/8C.

The sneak preview of the show ended right before the first elimination.  Of course I have to see who gets cut!  I already have a few favorites but I'm pretty sure they are all safe this week. 

Thank you to She Speaks for this great opportunity (and a new addiction!)!

Update February 2:
After watching a few episodes (though not the most recent- it's DVRed!) I almost wish they had two episodes before they cut someone. I know most elimination contests elimate once per week but with only 10 contestants to begin with I think they should be given more time.
Maybe I feel that way because last week I didn't want to see EITHER go home and was so sad to see Aunt Flora leave. I thought she had some promise. Next time they should allow each contestant their chance to shine at what they do best before slinging them into unknown territory.

Baby Henry's Latest Milestones (9 Months)

Yesterday, January 6, 2011 Henry started blowing bubbles.  Not actually blowing them but making the noise, sort of like a raspberry but with his lips instead of his tongue.  We did it back and forth- what a fun game!  He is still a big fan of clapping and an even bigger fan of making ME clap.  He laughs so much when he makes me clap.  It's very cute!  He also likes to play Pat A Cake over and over and over again.  But only the clapping, rolling, patting and pointing (to You and Me).  Marking it and putting it in the oven make him mad, lol!  We play this game often.  Another fun game is growling.  He really has fun growling at us.  A grinning, growling baby is a funny sight indeed!! 

I think Henry's most favorite game of all is climbing the stairs.  Our stairs are built so that no matter what he can at least get on the first step.  With a gate there it likely that he could fall easier, right onto our gravity furnace (yes, we still have one of THOSE!) grate that sits in between the living and dining rooms.  So when I do have the gate up it's after the landing (which is two steps).  He likes to climb down the stairs too but hasn't mastered that skill.  Over the holiday he had some great stairs to play on and was trying to climb up and down all weekend!  He will also race up the stairs when he hears the water running.  That boy LOVES bathtime and heaven forbid if someone is bathing without him.  He will try to get to the bathtub if he has a poopy diaper too.  He hates being messy as much as he loves his baths!!

Henry has also learned a new word.  He loves to drop things over any ledge he can find- the table, his high chair, the couch- it's all SOOOO much fun!  Now when he drops something he says, "Oh oh."!!  He's singing now too, especially when he is tired.  He will lie his head on my shoulder and sing, "aaah ahhh ah ah ah".  I melt whenever I hear his sweet voice.  ♥ 

He took his first step a few weeks ago but has decided that walking without holding on just isn't for him yet.  He did it a few times (a fantastic job too :D) but there are more interesting things to accomplish in his busy life!     

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weaver Short: Henry and the Dog Bowl

Forget about toys.  Baby Henry (happy 9 months to you!) has a way cooler thing to play with.  He has taken possession of the dog's water bowl.  It's fun to drive around the house, it sometimes splashes, it makes noise and you can put stuff in/take stuff out of it. 

Cost?  Free. 
The memory of my baby playing with all the dog's stuff (all. the. time.)?  Priceless! 

Thank You Toys R Us!!

I shopped at Toys R Us a lot this season, for multiple birthdays and Christmas.  They had some of the greatest deals on things that we wanted ($127 for the Imaginarium Train Table after tax!!!) and I actually remembered that I had a reward card for them.  They had an awesome promotion going on- 10% back in rewards (select items were NOT included like diapers, formula, Leap Frog) with your FREE Rewards R Us card. 

What did this mean?  It meant that I got back $27 in rewards that I will be able to use for future in-store shopping (see below)!!!  This should come just in time for Henry's FIRST birthday!  Thank you for an awesome program Toys R Us :)  


Now there is some fine print.  For instance, their reward periods run for a certain time (so rewards DO expire) and you have to spend a minimum amount of money to start earning.  But the benefits are numerous.  You can earn points on in-store and online purchases, you can request retro credit if you forgot your card, it's totally free and you have the opportunity to score some free stuff!

I Don't Think I Was Meant to Make Chicken Tortilla Soup

Weaver Shorts:

I decided today to try a slow cooker recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup.  Sounded like a good idea at the time.  On that note...

Dear 3 sq. ft of counter space: Grow a little, would you? 
Dear single electrical outlet on the counter right beside the sink: Why?  Why right by the sink?  I need one on the other part of the counter.  Like, on the bigger side where the water doesn't splash. 
Dear can opener: Did you really have to dump half of the enchilada sauce right on me, the counter and the floor? 
Dear Alex: It was really stupid of you to rub your eyes after chopping ONIONS!

There would be pictures.  I love pictures.  But my beautiful camera was stolen. 
Bah Humbug.