Elmo Visits the White House Kitchen

We loooooove Elmo in our house. We also love healthy food. When Munchkie's Daddy came across this video, it was the perfect way to advertise to our family about the changes in school lunches. I hope that the meals displayed are actual meals going to be served in cafeterias.

I remember growing up in public school my mom would pack us a lunch almost every day. We were allowed to pick 4 meals a month to buy a school lunch. I also remember how I would get so excited to be cool like everyone else, but then the food would be so gross! Mushy, soggy, greasy and I don't think there was ever a full meal that I actually ate. Isn't that sad? The only "good" things were baked goods (cookies, cakes, etc) and the fried foods. I hope that with melons, peppers and apple slices kids will start to be able to understand what real food is like.

I thought that I would have this as a post to the good things to come in 2011. Hopefully it just gets better from here!


Oh yes, the time has come for reflecting and resolutions

It's that time of year, the Christmas cookies are dwindling and you begin to think that maybe you shouldn't have eaten so much.  It's also a time to reflect on your life throughout the past year and see what kinds of positive changes you have made.  From there you think about the changes you want to make in your life for the upcoming year.  Usually this time of year makes me so depressed, I think about all the resolutions from the previous January that were blown off by February.  It makes me so upset and disappointed in myself that I couldn't stick with it enough to make a few changes in my life.  This year however, I am very proud of myself.  My resolutions last year were to loose weight and get healthier (the #1 resolution), become more green in our home, build a stronger relationship with Munchkie's Daddy, and reduce our debt. 

I'll start with the first one because it's the one that makes me the most proud.  So here I go Biggest Loser style.

Things were getting pretty bad, but then this happened, and it got way worse.

Then this was me last Christmas.
It makes me want to throw up (as if I haven't been doing enough of that this week thanks to a stomach bug) just looking at these pictures.  But maybe publicly posting them will make me never want to go back.
These are the jeans in the above pictures.
And this is me tonight.  While I still have a ways to go, I feel much better about myself. 

My next resolution was to go greener in our home and I have eliminated almost all chemical cleaners, using homemade cleaning solutions and use cloth rags to clean (we don't even have paper towel in our house unless Munchkie's Daddy has a secret roll hidden from me).

Munchkie's Daddy and I have had a lot of ups and downs this year but our relationship is the strongest it's been.  It's been a hard year, but we have grown both more mature and closer together.  We are able to communicate effectively and have learned (with some help) how to understand each other better.

I also wanted to reduce our debt and hopefully by next week we will have our car, washer/dryer and all credit cards paid off in full.  Yippeeeeeeeee!!!!!!  This is a huge weight off of our shoulders!

Now, if I haven't already lost you, I am figuring out what I want to do this year to make myself a better person.  Sometimes I feel like I run run run and don't think about how I need to change.  It seems to be this week between Christmas and New Years that I always think, "Oh crap!  What have I even done this year?"  I think that my first resolution will be to think about my resolutions throughout the year instead of just for one week.  I need to try to make myself better all year long, not just in January and December.

Next, I think that I need to exercise.  For more than 2 days.  I need to become fit enough this year that I actually enjoy exercising like so many people talk about.  I hate to sweat.  I hate to feel the out of shape crappiness.  I also hate being around people when I have to do these two things.  I need to get myself into shape, so I am not miserable every time I exercise. If only I could have a free personal trainer who came with a free babysitter and I had my own personal gym in my house.  *Sigh* I'll go back to my $1 Target exercise DVD.

I also would really like to start doing something for other people this year.  I'm not quite sure how this will work out.  I pretty much have Munchkie with me whenever I'm not at work, so maybe I could find some way to volunteer somewhere with Munchkie.  Any ideas?

Organization is something that makes me feel really good about life.  I do not feel like we are very organized in our lives since moving multiple times in multiple years.  It makes me feel very unstable and out of control when there is not organization/cleanliness in my life so I think that I would feel better in general if I could sense this control around me.  I know this is going to be a huge undertaking to overhaul as much as I would like to, general appearance, closets, finances, etc.  Good thing I have a whole year to do it right?

I think it's easier to keep your resolutions if it is a short list and easily obtainable.  If they are obtainable goals, it makes it easier to complete them.  I think part of the reason why I never completed my resolutions were because I never made obtainable goals.  I hope that this year I can be strong enough to make these changes in my life.  Happy New Year!


Facebook vs Cranium

This year we spent the Christmas holiday at my inlaws’ house and had a very enjoyable time.  They live in upstate NY and let me tell you, it’s waaaay up there!  It’s amazing how different parts of the country can be so incredibly different.  It’s like a completely different country up there.  A country where hunting is a hobby that you are expected to have, you are used to driving a distance to a Walmart and you expect feet of snow at any time from October to May.  I feel pretty out of place there.  I hardly ever remember to bring an appropriate winter coat and I definitely don’t have northern country appropriate footwear.  I also really enjoy having communication with the rest of the world.

It’s amazing how much you rely on modern technology.  I feel so isolated and out of touch when I go visit.  My cell phone stops working the last hour and a half of the trip and we don’t get service again until we go down a certain hill on the way home.  They have basic basic cable so there is hardly ever anything interesting on TV, and there definitely isn’t a DVR to watch whatever background noise show you watch but aren’t really interested in.  There also isn’t wireless and so the family computer is shared upstairs.  Wow it’s really amazing what a difference these things make in your life.  

On the other hand, we spend genuine time with each other.  We play games and sit around talking to each other.  Last night after Munchkie went to bed we played Cranium which had been purchased that day (on sale at Target of course!) and had a great time together.  I haven’t laughed as hard in a long time as I did when Munchkie’s Uncle had to puppeteer Munchkie’s Daddy to make him guess that he was airport security.  What fun family is.  

I survived for those days without my cell phone, mindless TV shows and immediate internet access.  Maybe I could survive a little more often without these and focus on doing something a little more active and meaningful.  I need to overcome the thought that I might miss something by not being connected.  What if someone tried to call and I missed it?  Hey guess what, I have voicemail!  What if I missed someone’s Facebook post that said something important?  Hmmm was it really that critical for me to know if it was a general Facebook post?  Maybe not.  I hope that I can continue to be slightly more removed from the technology that is weighing me down and a little more active in what is happening in my present life. 


A Merry Christmas with my Family

I had some time this afternoon to myself while Munchkie was crashed in her pack n play and everyone else was busy trying out their new Christmas toys.  Since all I wanted was a pair of nice, comfortable boots, there wasn't much fiddling around that I could do.  I do intend on going downstairs and lazily flipping through the stack of magazines in a little bit while drinking a cup of coffee, but for now, I will write.  Since I haven't been doing well at keeping up with my blog, I figured two in one day wouldn't be to bad.

I love Christmas.  I love the excitement of waking up and knowing that it's Christmas.  I love watching as everyone opens their presents in excitement and anticipation.  I love the yummy food (especially the desserts, which is my huge problem).  I love that for one day out of the year, family is the absolute important thing. 

This morning when we realized that there really was no putting Munchkie back to sleep I was so excited that it was Christmas I asked her if she wanted to come cuddle with us in bed.  She was so excited and said "Yes! Yes!"  As she laid there snuggled in between us I felt truly blessed for my little family.  Although we don't have much, we have each other, and that really is the best gift you can have.  I loved those moments before she got too antsy to sit still, when she laid there with us giggling and giving kisses.

Then the present opening began.  Although she really doesn't understand Christmas quite yet, she loves getting caught up in the excitement.  Of course several times she got so caught up in the great toy she had just opened, that the toy had to be hidden to convince her to open another present. 

And of course she was still opening presents long past the time when everyone else had run out.  By the time the presents were finished being opened, Munckie didn't even know where to begin in playing with her new things.  I am a mean mom and said that if it had more than 2 parts that didn't go into a container, it was not being opened until we get home.  Never fear, there are still plenty of entertaining things that fit that category.

After practicing some Zumba with Munchkie's Aunt I saw that she was getting pretty tired and asked if it was naptime yet.  Surprisingly there was no fight.  Munchkie was so exhausted that she said "Nigh nigh?  yes!  Nigh! Nigh!" and ran to the stairs.  Hopefully after many hours of naptime the fun and excitement of Christmas can continue. 

I love today.  I love my family and I love how exciting this day is.  I hope that you have had a wonderful day filled with such love and excitement that you crash into the most peaceful sleep imaginable.  Merry Christmas!


Merry Xmas, yes Xmas

Yesterday we were driving through the Upstate New York countryside and I saw a big sign from my in-laws city that said "Put Christ back in Christmas" and I was reminded of an article I read recently.  Growing up in a Christian family I have heard this saying many, many times, but reading it yesterday made me think and reevaluate those lessons learned in my childhood.  I vaguely remember hearing someone say to me that people who couldn't handle the fact that Christmas was about Christ had turned it into Xmas, to take Christ out.  I remember that the phrase "Put Christ back in Christmas" was due to this trend of writing Xmas and that it shouldn't be used.  Funny how you just do something because someone tells you to do it when you are young.

I read this article and realized that if only those who started the "put Christ back in Christmas" movement had only taken a few moments to research why Xmas was used, they might not have started the movement. See, as this article shows, the Greek word Christos (Christ) is literally translated into the English language as X and in earlier churches the X was used as a shorthand for Christ.  So, I started thinking about this and realized that by using the X to mean the word Christ, instead of writing Christ out of Christmas, we are actually showing how deep the history of the Christmas celebration runs.  This is not a new, made up Hallmark holiday such as Sweetest Day, but has been celebrated for so many thousands of years that ancient Greek words are used to describe it.  I don't see any ancient Greek in Sweetest Day.

It makes you stop and think doesn't it? How could I, for so many years, mindlessly follow something that was not even true?  I do agree that Christmas has become way too commercialized and Christ is slipping away.  But I will never feel that twinge every time I see the word Xmas written.  Instead I will be happy that I celebrate a holiday founded on the birth of someone so special that there are different words across many different languages used to call him by name.

And so, I will say again, Merry Xmas to you.  Remember who you are celebrating.  As Munchkie says "Baby Sheshus!"


I Haven't Forgotten

Don't worry I have not forgotten about my blog.  I think that if I don't have time to read the blogs I subscribe to or take care of my house, then I myself shouldn't be blogging.  I have 147 unread emails in my blog folder alone.  With my netbook power cord out in a United States Postal Service black hole, I sat around wishing that I could feed my internet addiction while on vacation.  I realized that since it was vacation, maybe that meant I needed to just chill out and enjoy a vacation. 

Now I'm back to work, trying to also prepare for an in-law Christmas.  I am so tired tonight after working all day, but I have to get completely packed and make sure that we have everything ready to take with us tomorrow.  Munchkie's Daddy, Munchkie, Pup 1 and Pup 2 are picking me up from work tomorrow and we're heading straight to the north country.  So I'm giving my legs/feet a brief break and catching up on my very delinquent blogging.

Now that I have let out my excuses, I can let out what I've been thinking about.

Today at work I had a patient with a diagnosis that I had never taken care of before, so of course I did what everyone who needs to know something does.  Google it. 

When my search results popped up I naturally clicked on the first link because it seemed pretty legit.  I started to read the article and noticed that the author was a professor from the same hospital I work in and it had been published within the last few months.  It really hit me how blessed I am to be able to work in a hospital that produces first-result-in-Google-articles.  I know that everyone grumbles and groans about their job, and I will definitely admit that I have those days, but I sometimes just have to be very thankful for the experiences I have been given.  I often forget where I came from and where I am now.  I have seen all kinds of things that I never would have seen had I stayed in my home town or at my first nursing job.  How incredible is it that my fellow coworker (I'm sure the distinguished professor would not appreciate being considered my coworker) is so knowledgeable and experienced that their article is the number one search result on the biggest search engine in the world.  Wow.  While there are days that I may come home exhausted, drained and not overjoyed with my job, I need to remember where I am.  I may not realize it while I am in the moment, but I am experiencing things that some people can only read about in articles.  How amazing is that?  It doesn't really make my feet hurt less or make it any less difficult to leave Munchkie before work, but it does make me pause and appreciate this season of life.


Recoup and Regroup

Since I'm cool and remembered my computer, but left my power cord in Munchkie's Daddy's bag, who went back home, my battery is almost dead.  I had to be old school and write out my thoughts on paper, so I could quickly type and shut down.  I'm on vacation this week and doing a Midwest tour again.  Munchkie and I are at house #3.  Munchkie's Daddy did some PhD program visits and then returned home yesterday, but Munchkie and I are visiting a few more people before we head home.  Once our friend comes home from work, Munchkie and I will be headed back to house #2 for a couple days.

I am loving this vacation!  I know my friends feel bad that they are working, but I don't care at all (well, of course I would love to spend more time with them).  I am hanging out, playing with Munchkie and there is no stress.  I don't have to feel guilty because I'm not cleaning or doing laundry.  There's nothing to do and nowhere to be, because I don't have a car.  I seriously think this is the most relaxing vacation ever!  It's not very often that there isn't something you should be doing once you're "grown up," especially when you have a kid(s).  I think that every mom should take a day or two vacation to do nothing but recoup and regroup.  When you take care of yourself, you can take care of others better.

Although I wish that I had taken this vacation at a different time than right before Christmas, I am glad that I can be fresh and energized for the holidays.  I also get to spend some great time with Munchkie.  What's better than that?

Hopefully my power cord reaches my parents house before I do so I can continue to feed my blog addiction.


Oh the Relief

What a huge sigh of relief I let out tonight.  We have finished our Christmas presents and are almost finished wrapping them all.  Oh what a labor of love this has been.  We came up with our ideas at the beginning of the year and began working on them slowly.  Once I decided it was time to crack down and get going on them I realized I might have bit off more than I could chew.  But each time I was about to give up I just kept thinking, we have worked too hard on this to give up now.  I was bound and determined to make this project a success.  I never thought I would spend every free moment working on this, however it was thousands of hours (maybe a slight exaggeration) well spent.

I am very glad that instead of buying random things, we have put together something with meaning.  While a homemade gift may not be the favorite gift of the year, I had a lot of fun creating them.  You can't say that there wasn't thought, time and effort put into it when it's homemade.  I cannot wait until Munchkie is old enough to understand what we are doing.  While she minimally contributed this year, I hope that we can continue to make Christmas gifts together.  I hope that she learns the importance of thoughtfully creating something for others.  I hope that she won't be concerned with what she wants, but what she can do for others.

It's always great to have your Christmas shopping finished, you can let out a huge breath.  Once you know that everyone is taken care of and you haven't forgotten anyone you, can really enjoy good times with family and friends celebrating the holiday season.  I can let out a huge breath because not only am I finished, I never had to wait in a line.   



Great Invention for the Busy Mom!

I am posting another post for today because I love love love these.  I know they are not very organic or green, and probably have a lot of chemicals in them.  I really love to have painted nails but have been smudging, scratching, and smearing my nails for the past couple years.  These are perfect for anyone who can't sit still long enough to paint their nails and let the polish fully dry.  No mess, no smudging, and quick.  It's also way cheaper than a manicure, I found mine on clearance at Walgreens  for under $3 and bought every one they had.  I also put them on in the ca,r in the middle of the night by the light of the glove box.  They lasted 2 weeks after that.  They actually hadn't chipped at all, I took the polish off because it had grown out so much it annoyed me.  I suggest trying them out.   

Check out to see all the possibilities.

Picture with Santa = Disaster

We went to the mall today to visit Santa.  Munchkie was so excited.  She can point out Santa anywhere and everywhere.  We went to the Macy's bathroom and changed into her Christmas dress.  She was chatting about Santa the whole time.  She kept saying "ritty ress Santa." Which means "I'm wearing a pretty dress for Santa."  She was pointing out the balls and snow in Macy's and then we saw Santa.  She was excited, saying "Hi Santa!" There was only one family in front of us and so this was perfect, fast and low stress.  The two little girls were placed on Santa's lap and with Munchkie watching, the youngest looked up at Santa and then began to cry.  As the little girl became increasingly more distressed Munchkie's eyes got bigger and bigger.  She moved to Chris's leg, held onto his pants and slowly began to back up as she continued to stare at the little girl.  Next it was our turn.

Munchkie's Daddy took Munchkie's up and she clung to him.  We tried to get her to warm up to Santa by giving high fives, getting a candy cane,  trying to show Santa a favorite book.  Nothing worked and when we tried to place her on Santa's lap she wouldn't let go of Munchkie's Daddy's shirt.  When we tried to pry her off she began to near hysterically cry.  Definitely not worth it.

We went to walk around the mall for a couple minutes to see if she would warm up later.  We walked down one section, and when we turned around to go back she wouldn't move and actually clung to a nearby object.  We tried to tell her that we had to go that way to leave and she would have none of it.  I had to pick her up and carry her, screaming, back to Macy's where our car was parked. 

On our way out, we happily waved "bye bye" to Santa.  Munchkie then said "Bye Bye Santa" the whole way home.  I said "Munchkie would you consider sitting on Santa's lap for a picture another day?" She replied very adamantly "NO!"

At dinner tonight we put her requested pasta on a Christmas plate.  She ate a couple pieces and then saw Santa on the bottom of the plate.  She said "Santa!" so Munchkie's Daddy pushed the pasta to the side of the plate to fully expose Santa.  After acknowledging that it was Santa, Munchkie pushed the pasta over Santa's face and stated "All done." 

Hopefully this isn't a permanent scar.  Munchkie's Daddy says we need to find some other Christmas figure to get yearly pictures taken with. 

Free Entertainment

Lately Munchkie's Daddy and I are completely amazed at how fast Munchkie is growing and changing.  I think part of it is in the holiday season you reflect to past times and last year she was just a little baby.  We can now almost have conversations with her and it's truly incredible.
My little Munchkie last Christmas.

Somehow I never really imagined myself the parent of a child.  I know this sounds funny.  Since you take each day one at a time, I focused on parenting a baby.  I no longer have a baby.  I have a child.  A talking, walking, opinionated child.  This is part of the reason why it is so incredible to me how much she is changing.

When they are babies you get so excited over their milestones.  You try to capture their second smile on camera (because you saw the first and grabbed the camera hoping for a repeat), their first time rolling over on video.  You get excited about first baths, first full nights of sleep, and first mouthful of tasteless rice cereal.  Then all of the sudden those capturable milestones turn into something that is not so noticeable.

My Grammy sent Munchkie The Elf on the Shelf last year and we've been reading it multiple times a day.  We make her find the elf on every page and it has become almost a Where's Waldo.  Yesterday when I was reading it to her there is a page that says "Please do not touch me. My magic might go, and Santa won't hear all I've seen or I know."  Munchkie started waving her hands saying "no touching no touching."  We read and read and read some more and I never really know how much she is retaining.  I looked at her in amazement and couldn't believe that she realized that there was no touching the Elf.  What a milestone!

There are daily milestones now that I don't even realize are happening.  Munchkie is noticing what is happening around her and trying to copy cat what she sees.  Every day when I get ready she stands on the toilet trying to put makeup on with me. She picks up each thing as I finish and does exactly what I just did.
While Daddy is reading the paper, so does Ana. She loves to be where ever we are doing whatever we do.

She pretends to feed her baby doll and pushes the baby around in the stroller.  She knows the exact place that traffic gets heavy on our way to work and says "Ohcomeon!" because that's what I say when I get frustrated.  Incredible.  I now realize that every day is a treasure.  Every day is an adventure and a new discovery.  I need to learn to be a good role model for the copycat following me.  While I am daily amazed by how incredible it is to see my little girl growing up, I also am daily reminded of how important it is to be a good parent.  These are the times that shape and form a person's life.  I hope that we can help form a wonderful woman of God while we have fun reading and playing.


Set Your Piggies Free part two

I don't claim to be very good at computers.  I definitely can only maneuver my way around my select websites and use the few programs that I understand.  So therefore when I tried to type after posting a video from youtube I couldn't figure it out and so just decided to start another post.

I am learning a lot of lessons from Sesame Street these days.  I swore I would not let my child watch TV.  I swore that my daughter would not know who TV characters were and I would not use TV as a source of entertainment.  Unfortunately it all started one day and due to the massive amounts of books we have read to Munchkie she was already in love with Elmo.  Watching him play music and dance around just sealed the deal.  Now the first thing I hear in the morning is "Elmo!  Mommy?  Elmo?" coming from her crib.  Multiple times a day Munchkie brings me the remote and says "Elmo? Bert? Please?" and when I try to read one of the multiple Sesame Street books we have laying around it works until the book is over.  It's official.  We are addicts.  I try to make myself feel better with the thoughts that we probably read 20-30 books (sometimes the same book 10 times) at least each day.

So today this song was on (along with the I Love My Hair song, which is a huge hit) and it made me think.  "Set your piggies free, set your piggies free."  We cram our feet into tight uncomfortable shoes and suffer through pain because we are supposed to.  We do so many things because we are supposed to we tend to get quite stiff.  We forget that we need to set our piggies free.  We all need to let ourselves go sometimes.  We get so caught up in our day to day schedules that we don't take time to have fun and truly relax. 

Munchkie has shown me how to take pleasure in the small things.  She loves to dance, shake and spin around.  Especially at the end of the day she loves to have dance parties.  I think that is our way of debriefing from our day.  I think sometimes it's good to have Sesame Street remind us to let our piggies go.  We can't necessarily throw our schedules out the window, but maybe we need to let our piggies free from the stress of life.  Maybe we need to just debrief and let ourselves go once in a while.  Have some fun, dance in your living room, sing to some silly songs and ignore the life that causes stress.

Set Your Piggies Free