Thursday, April 12, 2012

Things, Life,Whatnot


When I started blogging several years ago, I envisioned a place to share with family, friends and whomever felt like listening. I used it to be excited, to be sad, to complain, to celebrate...

But then I got busy. And *poof* I faltered. I stopped sharing the excitement and started living it offline. I became more reserved about things I complained about. I became more selective mainly because I couldn't find the time or didn't want to share too much of my personal life. Several part time projects here and there, my review blog, stuff for the kids... and life... in general... have all put a damper in things. Have I given up on writing? Heck no. Just busy.

My dad visited the other day and asked why I don't blog any more. His sincere question has been weighing on me since. Actually, it's been weighing on me for a long time but when he said something, it hit a nerve and now I'm up at night with thoughts racing through my head. Why CAN'T I find the time to do something that has always made me so happy?

As a stay-at-home-mom, I'm often asked where all my time goes. It stresses me out to be asked that. Why can't I get this or that done? Mainly because I burn through hours in the day with nothing to show for it. It appears that I sit at my desk for what seems like all day. But in reality, that isn't the case.

My day starts off by waking up and getting the kids ready for school. They still need me for things like what to wear - even though they seldom like what I select. While doing morning chores, I make breakfast for them as well as lunches then walk then to the bus stop. Some mornings, I eat breakfast in between kid-chaos and chores while other days it isn't until about 8:30 before I find the time. We hit the gym 2-3 times a week, return home and get cleaned up, make lunch, clean up the lunch mess and really start the day around 1:00. (On the non-gym days, we usually run errands, I volunteer at the school or work my PT job as an accountant.) So 1:00 is about the first time I can sit down at the computer to really focus on any particular task. But 4 times a week, I kill about an hour or so doing a freelance project creating a newsletter for a marketing company. All the while, I'm constantly (literally) interrupted to let the dog out or back in. When I finish my freelance stuff, I have a brief window to check emails, pay bills, surf or do something non-computer until 3:20 when I walk the dog to the bus stop to meet the girls as they return from school. Once home, I'm into kid-mode helping with homework, running them here or there and trying to be a good mom. My saving grace is that DH has been doing most of the cooking so I help some but mainly focus on post-dinner cleanup. Evenings bring about their own chaos with practices, baths and family time.

Here I sit, (now 5:40 in the morning) spending about an hour putting something in writing so I don't feel like quite a loser. I finally got up after tossing and turning since sometime around 3 when the dog needed out for the second time. Yes , I'm babbling but I think I need it.

Maybe I should just plan to get up at 5 every morning so I can start my day with evidence of something concrete that I actual accomplished for the day.

Not likely though... I value sleep too much.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Lesson in Charitable Giving (from my 1st grader)


The 1st and 2nd graders at religious education class are in a battle to see who can bring in the most food in the upcoming month.  No, they aren't participating in a competitive eating contest... they're putting together donations for a backpack program for families in need.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

She Sounded like a Broken Record


My 8 year old daughter was working on her homework and jibber-jabbing something while she worked.  It was the same thing over and over.

I just about said "You sound like a broken record." until I realized that she wouldn't have the faintest idea what that meant.

For a split second, I thought "...Like a scratched CD" but quickly nixed that for being before her time also.

"...like an .mp3 stuck on repeat?"


Sigh.

I feel old.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Appetizer Recipe: Spicy Pizza Thins


Growing up, we celebrated the family Christmas with a meal of all appetizers. One of my favorites was a Pizza Thin recipe that my family had made for as long as I can remember. Now that I'm older, I still love it and enjoy it but have been inspired by #FranksRedHot to jazz it up a bit. (And I'm entering this in Frank's RedHot Recipe Contest!)


Spicy Pizza Thins
Ingredients:
1 Pkg Cocktail Rye
1 16 oz Pkg Sausage
1 Lb Processed Cheese Loaf
1 can Pizza Sauce
Franks Original Hot Sauce to Taste

Directions:
Brown sausage; drain well
Cut cheese into small pieces; melt
Add pizza sauce to melted cheese; stir until well dissolved
Combine cooked sausage with cheese mixture
Add 3-4 teaspoons Franks Original Hot Sauce (more for bite!); Thoroughly mix it in.

Spread onto slices of cocktail rye.

Broil until cheese is nicely browned. Enjoy!

If you're looking for a recipe with even MORE bite, eliminate the pizza sauce and double the Frank's Red Hot Sauce. It doesn't taste as much like pizza but it still tastes great!

Note: These can be prepared ahead of time and frozen on a cookie sheet. Allow to defrost slightly before broiling.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Who Wants an Exclusive Coupon?


As you know, I've been participating in the Lean Cuisine #31Days program for this past month. Creating new habits... better habits... healthier habits.

But...! How about a healthier wallet? I'm excited to say that as part of the campaign, I have a widget on SahmReviews.com to print a Lean Cuisine coupon. It's exclusive to the Lean11 who participated in the #31Days as well as the blogger who coordinated the campaign. You can only print this coupon from these 12 blogs.

Seriously. It's exclusive AND it is limited quantity!

Be sure to stop by SahmReviews.com and grab it before they are gone!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Things that Made the Holidays Bright


It's a new year.  Unbelievable how quickly the time goes.  There's a lot going on and a lot coming up, but I want to take a few minutes to talk about how 2010 ended for us.

As a family, we spent the middle of December celebrating the holidays with extended family, attending the kids' winter program at school and generally just getting ready for Christmas.  As soon as the kids started their winter break, we packed the car and went to visit Grammy.

Aside from that, we had a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff for SAHM Reviews.  Primarily, the RAZ - Random Acts of Zhu program.  Cepia, LLC gave us 104 Zhu Zhu pets and Kung Zhu pets to distribute to charities of our choice here in the Quad Cities.  They didn't put restriction on who or where.  They didn't ask for photographs of the families or kids.  The only requirement was the commitment to deliver before Christmas and document it.  

So I did a little soul searching to determine who I wanted to deliver these to.  Kids at the hospital, shelters, who?  I contacted the Director of Religious Education at St. John Vianney Church here in Bettendorf, as well as a columnist at the Quad City Times to see if either of them could point me in the best direction.  The church responded with enough information to help me get these distributed to kids in need.

When I was discussing it with Jan Stevenson, who heads up the project for St. John Vianney, she explained that they have an Angel program where parishioners 'adopt' a person or family then work to fulfill their wish list.  Who do they serve?  That's the great part.  It's non-denominational.  350 individuals whose names where provided from various agencies.  Elementary students from high poverty areas that were referred by the Bettendorf Police Department.  Mental health individuals from Vera French.  Kids in various "Free lunch" programs. Humility of Mary homeless and transitional housing.  Moms and babies from TAPP (a school for pregnant teenagers).  As well as other random individuals who are referred. 

By donating to St. John Vianney, I would cover a wide range of families in need.  Perfect.  

As a bonus, St. John Vianney provided me with contact information for one other place I wanted to donate.  Didn't care where or how but I wanted to provide some of the Zhu Zhu and Kung Zhu toys to children who have parents deployed.  I was ultimately connected with Pat Kobelenske from the National Guard in Davenport.  He is a Family Assistance Specialist covering most of Eastern Iowa.  

So those were my choices and I set off to make my deliveries in time for the two programs to distribute them to their final destination.  Our entire family, as well as a neighbor, helped out with this.  DH and I discussed with the kids why it was so important to distribute these.  Why we weren't keeping ANY when they're so used to getting stuff to test out themselves.  We talked about how some kids don't have the necessities, let alone toys.  It was very inspirational to see my girls helping.  They helped send me on my way to make the deliveries.

First stop was St. John Vianney.  I already told you who they distribute to.  But I didn't tell you what.  Requested items range from toys to clothes to cleaning supplies.  Jan explained that one woman asked for feminine hygiene products and nothing else.  Can you imagine your Christmas wish list including only that? Well, they don't just put that in a box and mark it completed.  They include additional items like personal care products, cleaning products and other necessities.  

They were taking the Zhu Zhu pets and using them to ensure that each child received a toy... starting with the ones that specifically requested Zhu Zhu or Kung Zhu toys.  I was overwhelmed by the site of all those baskets, bags and boxes that had been compiled.  Made me truly thankful for all that I have.  A few days later, I met with the National Guard and learned more about their program and needs.

I put together a video telling the whole story.  Amazing.  Seriously.

Please take the time to watch the video and see how intense this project was.  And if you're inspired enough to want to assist with a giving-tree program in your area, contact a local church, shelter or the police department.  Chances are that someone will point you in the right direction.  In the meantime, be sure to stop by Facebook and Twitter to pat Cepia on the back for a promotion well done.

I'm proud to have been selected to be part of the 2010 Random Acts of Zhu promotion.  Amazing, I tell you.

Disclosure:  Cepia, LLC provided 104 Zhu Zhu and Kung Zhu pets to distribute. No compensation was received for this project other than the joy that came with each of the deliveries... and the realization that I was part of a very special promotion to help make the holidays merrier for so many kids.  All comments, photos, videos are my own.

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