Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another Potty Moment from us to you...

Since poop is a major part of our lives...here is another poop moment from our house.

I come home yesterday evening to an overjoyed 4yo running towards me. "Mommy, I did it! I went poop in the potty. One big one, and one little one! So, tomorrow we can get that chocolate cereal!"

Husband comes in and describes the experience including physical descriptions (thank, honey...I really didn't need to know that info).

**Note today, my 4yo ate about a pound of craisins...that should help.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Family Fitness

We are a very active family. And we love to exercise...here are some ways we fit it all in (no pun intended...).

*You've got to love it. Find something you love doing (latin dance, kickboxing, walking, cycling, tennis...).

*Gym membership
We really couldn't afford it but it was important to us. It allows us to really get in a good workout, socialize with other adults, and the kids love the playroom. (I now work at our gym so our membership is free). Finding a gym that meets your family's needs is important and may take some leg work.

We have music playing in our house most of the time. When its on, we dance! We dance a lot. It is great exercise that burns fat, works almost every muscle in your body, anyone can do, and is FUN!

We play with our kids on the floor a lot. You can bench press the little ones, bicep curls, leg press, let them sit on your back to do push-ups.

*Go Outside!
We ride bikes, walk, run, play sports. We have a great backyard to do this in.

*Do it together
We dance, play, and go outside together but we also just do plain ole exercise together. Family pilates and yoga...my 4yo loves push ups and sit ups. We show them that exercise is important to being healthy.

Some timely tips....
If you don't feel like your kids give you enough of a workout and you can't get to a gym...
*Take 30mins to do strength and toning while you watch tv at night or during the morning news. Or do jumping jacks or jog during commercials.
*Take a walk first thing in the morning before the kids get up.
*Do ab or glute squeezes while you do the dishes.
*Do 3-5 mins of strengthening or toning a few times throughout the day when you get a chance...it will add up.
*Bath time is a great time to get many things done (in the bathroom).

Try Sparks People for exercise tips, nutritional info (calorie counting program), weight loss tips, message boards.....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Funny Story...

Our ever-potty training boys...

Our 2yo was naked and came to the table...I asked him if he had to use the potty. "No potty." Then he proceeded to hold his penis and pee on the floor. My husband and I both said "No...hold it!" Then my husband takes the glass of water that I am drinking from and holds it in the line of fire!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More quick thoughts...

We have two sick kids home this week....so I haven't had a lot of time to think. But here are some thought that have made it through my sleep-deprived brain.

*The Laundry Strike has worked...and not. My daughter quickly realized that she would stand out on the soccer team without her jersey and socks so she not only put away any clean laundry but went through all her drawers and organized everything...we'll see how long that lasts. It took her about a week. After asking me a couple times about laundry, I said to my husband..."You know I am not doing your laundry anymore, right?". So, despite a clear declaration of strike and a mention on my blog...he was oblivious. He apparently didn't notice the hamper devoted solely to his clothes. So, he did his own. Fine with me. We'll see how long he takes to break.

*The Champaign Park District is hosting Nightmare on Grove Street this Saturday in Douglass Park from 12-3pm. It is geared for 3-11yos with hay rides, food, games, a haunted house. And Cirque du Soleil will be around with miming, juggling, stiltwalking, tumbling, etc! Oh...and it is FREE! (They will also be at Halloweenfest at Market Place Mall on Monday the 29th (also FREE) and of course at Assembly Hall Nov 9-10 (tickets contact Assembly Hall)).

For more Halloween fun this weekend...there is a lot...check out the News-Gazette. Off the top of my head....the Farmer's Market, libraries, Meijer....

*A random thought...I saw an ad for the One Antipoverty Campaign. It struck me as odd that celebrities who make millions of dollars are asking the general public for money. I am all for eliminating poverty and AIDS, etc. But I wonder if these celebrities gave all but 1 million dollars of their money away each year (I think they could live on 1 mil/yr...I could)...how that might impact this fight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Sorry...it has been a bit busy here. Here is what we've been up to...

*Headed down to the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, IL. It is such a great place for everyone. My husband and I were noting how it might be nice to head there without the kids so we could spend more time looking at everything. The kids LOVED it! And this time the schoolhouse was open....very interesting. If you are looking for something to do this weekend...head there (this weekend is great because they reduce a lot of prices). Taking 45 instead of 72 makes a pretty drive.

*Had ice cream at Marble Slab in Savoy. I think it is better than Cold Stone and less busy on a Friday night. The girls I took loved that I said "you can have whatever you want!". I also like that after buying 5 items, you get one free. Also, had dinner at Seven Saints again (discovering that getting dinner in downtown is a challenge at 930pm on Sunday). It was yummy!

*Spent more time decorating for Halloween. My 4yo is really into making things...hence the multiple paper ghosts and jack-o-lanterns around the house. Today, we made ghosts with foam plates and tuille.

*Took our 11yo shopping. She spent $15 on flavored lip gloss (it was her money). And went to Old Navy...they are having major clearance right now...racks starting at $1.97!!

*Movies...I have happen to catch a couple movies (free preview channels, library lends, date night, birthday party).
The Game Plan (PG, 110mins), still in theaters

This football/family movie staring the Rock was actually pretty cute and entertaining. The three 10-11yo girls I took with me really liked it. The story is not original (a person learning the value of family) but the Rock made it fresh. Any football-lovin' families would enjoy it.

Into the Wild (R, 2hr 27min), still in theaters

Based on Jon Krakauer's fascinating book about real-life adventurer Chris McCandless, this Sean Penn movie is good. I did read the book, and recently at that, so I was missing certain aspects in the film but my husband, who also read the book but in college, liked it more. I would like to hear an opinion of someone who did not read the book or didn't know the ending. The story is so interesting that you can't really miss however it is long and slow. Great actors...amazing scenery!

The Queen (PG-13, 1hr 45min), on DVD

This movie, which won Helen Mirren the Oscar, was very interesting. It examines the Queen of England's and Prime Minister's (a newly elected Tony Blair) treatment of Princess Diana's death. I was surprised that the previous press did not mention Michael Sheen's portrayal of Tony Blair...it was great and of equal importance to Helen Mirren. But this is a slow and quiet film.

Children of Men (R, 1hr 50min), on DVD

The premise of this movie is what caught my attention...the world has gone infertile...meaning no babies...meaning the human population will end shortly. So it is interesting to see what might happen to us in this situation (although they don't necessary explain why it all goes to poop..it might not go that way). We follow Clive Owen as he attempts to move a shockingly pregnant young woman to a safe place. It is a bit gritty and violent at times. I didn't really like it too much but did want to see what happened. My husband admired the cinematography a lot.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


As you may have quessed...I am a letter and email writer and phone caller to complain and compliment about things in life (the grocery clerk texting while he's helping me, the kids' yogurts that fall out of the package immediately, the fabulous meal I just ate). I think my teaching background makes me feel like I need to give and receive feedback. I write to my elected officials about how I feel about issues...they are representing me and they should know how I feel. When I am paying money to a business for service or products, I believe I deserve the most for my money. When products or services fall short...I think the company should know so they can improve themselves and thus be more successful. I am not out to get people fired...I rarely remember names of my kids let alone sales clerks.

So...this week...I had two particular consumer victories.

First, half of my contacts in my last box I had ripped. I thought this was odd since I've been wearing contacts since I was a kid and had never had this happen. Additionally, I paid for these and I prefer to use them instead of throwing them away. And...I wanted to let the company know my experience in case something was wrong with the lot or something. So...I emailed over their online comment page. I was very quickly called and after talking with someone for a little bit they thanked me for letting them know and would look into the problem...and they sent me a new box of contacts.

Secondly, we had quite an unpleasant experience at a campus restaurant. Since the place is owned by a larger corporation, I wanted to let the bosses know what this location was doing and how bad I thought it was. I found out that they have had many problems here and are taking steps to fixing it...and would we like some complimentary meals...sure, thanks.

Its not about free products (although I will gladly accept)...its about improving services so that my experience is better (and everyone else's...consumers and businesses). And, in general, I have found that businesses like to know how the consumer is feeling...good and bad. And now with the inter-web...many places have email addresses or online comment forms that you can fill out (I often get a phone call back). This is great because you can state your opinion on your own time (not with a screaming toddler who is sad the store is out of chocolate milk) and you can do it without a face-to-face, time-consuming confrontation, if that is not your thing.

We are a consumer-based society....feedback is a good way to make it the best it can be! Speak up!

**Most grocery stores and other larger stores, in our area at least, have a website at the bottom of your receipt to fill out a quick survey about your visit. Complete it and most enter you in a raffle for free products or gift cards.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Recipe Update

So, I have tried several recipes in Deceptively Delicious (see previous post). And...I must admit, this idea is brilliant and easy. And the response has been very, very good.

I spent about 1 hour making several purees the other night (avocado, carrot, cauliflower, yellow squash, beet (I used salt-free canned beets)). I think I made 12 1/2-cup servings of purees and froze them (taking the breastmilk/baby food spot). I also picked up some usual winter staples such as frozen spinach and frozen pureed butternut squash. So, we were ready to go.

Seriously...add chickpeas to your next batch of cookies. I made oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and cranberries. The chickpeas blended right in. My husband and little one didn't even noticed (when I asked my husband what he thought...he said 'there's spinach in here isn't there'). By the way... you can see the beans in there...they are not hiding!

Brownies with spinach and carrot puree....a winner!

But I really liked adding yellow squash puree to my kid's 'buttered' noodles (1/2 lb noodles cooked, 1/2 cup veg puree, 2 tbls olive oil, parm cheese). Besides, the kids couldn't see it...so they didn't know...it was delicious. I don't eat milk or cheese so this was great because it gave the pasta a creamy texture. My 11yo made stuffed potatoes with cauliflower puree...they were great. Again, with the lack of cheese in mine...it gave it a great flavor.

And tonight...I made green eggs and ham (a regular meal here) with spinach instead of just green food coloring. It was yummy...but my picky eater wouldn't touch it (he saw me make them...I think he would have eaten it otherwise). You couldn't taste spinach but it was in there (I like my eggs with sauteed spinach anyways).

The possibilities are endless and this book is just a starting point. I love it....my husband is a little worried that every meal will have something hidden in it (well, if he ate his vegetables well, I wouldn't have to trick him).

Anyways...I'll try more recipes and keep you up-to-date...but this sounds like a great idea to me!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More issues...

If you want to get even more angry about the Bush II Administration....watch tonight's Frontline...Cheney's Law.

I can't believe how much this administration has destroyed democracy....such as ruining the collaborative process of checks and balances. Basically, Cheney is evil. And America will be so much better off once the Democrats (or socialists as some are saying) take society back in its care.

Only 1 year until the next election!

Issues, issues

**First of all....Moveon.org is sponsoring another rally in support of the Children's Healthcare Policy currently being vetoed by the president.

Tonight at 5pm at Veteran's Memorial (Broadway and Main Sts.), Urbana.

Remember to call, write, or email your representatives to tell what you think (about any issue...they work for us!)!

**Secondly, last week, Illinois overrode the governor's veto for a bill mandating a daily moment of silence at all Illinois schools. So, my 11yo daughter comes home yesterday and says..."The moment of silence is stupid. It sure feels like prayer to me, and I don't like that." Well put.

This moment of silence (not 'prayer') is a big waste of legislative time, energy, and money. Besides it rides along the lines of church and state...the policy itself is so flawed. There are very rough guidelines (each school must have a moment of silence). There is no definition for how long, when, where, or what to do during that time. Additionally, this is very difficult policy to enforce and therefore discipline. Additionally, it takes time out of the day not only for the actual moment but for the planning and execution of the policy. They've taken arts, physical education, and foreign languages out our of schools...given them no money to operate...and required ridiculous amounts of time for testing...and now this?

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Busy week...

*I finally cleaned out the freezer, including all the frozen breastmilk...it was all from last Dec. It was sad and if I had done it last week during PMS-craziness, it would have been a sad scene.

*Our 2yo is using the potty! He even pooped there!

*Watched the British comedy (thriller, police, shoot-em-up spoof) Hot Fuzz...it was very funny. I love Shaun of the Dead (zombie spoof) (by the same group of Brits)...it is hilarious.

*Watched TV's Women's Murder Club (based on some good James Patterson books)....disappointing, but I'm giving it some time.

*On a laundry strike (did you read that darling?)...I am not doing my husband or daughter's laundry until they put away what they already have. If you know my husband, you might notice he wears the same couple outfits....so you'd be surprised to learn that he has an enormous amount of clothing...that lives all over my house.

*Not sure how I feel about the now-mandatory moment of silence at all Illinois schools. It sure sounds like prayer but we'll see. I think it is pretty silly to require it...how are they going to monitor that. I'm glad our government took the time, energy, and money on this one...like there is nothing else that needs to happen in education (hey...where's that budget?).

*Enjoyed the presentation of the CPD Ballet Program at the library yesterday, 4yo wasn't interested but the older one was. But then I started thinking....it really sucks that the arts are very limited to those with money and time. Wouldn't CU benefit from a dance or music program that was FREE! and met at times that working parents could get their kids there? (note the park districts do have some scholarship funds available for their programs). CPD has a new website design, by the way.

*Went to Lonestar Steakhouse for dinner...Kids eat free on Tuesdays! It was a great frugal moment!

Have a great week!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Deceptively Delicious

This is a new...fast-selling...cookbook by Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld (Jessica). I read about this book on Monday and then, later in the afternoon, happened to turn on Oprah (something I do a couple times a year) and there she was.

The basis of her book is to improve your children's (and veggie-phobic husbands) eating habits. The featured recipes all include veggie purees. Basically, you are sneaking veggies into everything from scrambled eggs to chicken nuggets to brownies. Besides adding nutritional value, most recipes have an added richness in flavor, texture, and moistness. She claims that no one can really tell they are in there. A major critism of the idea is that it is not teaching kids to love veggies...but the idea is too add extra stuff in things you know your kids will eat IN ADDITION to, not instead of, offering fruits and veggies at meals and snacks.

Since I have a kid that won't even try veggies (besides carrot sticks), I thought it was worth a look. There are some recipes on Oprah.com. But I also bought the book...which you can't buy right now in CU (BN told me the publisher has do another printing since this first one is sold out...no more books shipped until November).

While I was waiting for my book, I thought about this idea...and how I have been doing it in some ways for years. I made all my own baby food for years, so I pureed everything and froze it all. I puree a lot of other things too (sauces, soups). I also add veggies to baked goods (zuchinni and pumpkin breads, carrot applesauce, pumpkin applesauce, beet/carrot/potato pancakes, root veggie mash). It is a good idea and this book gives me a lot more ideas (like using beans to add vitamins and protein---add rinsed, canned whole chickpeas to chocolate chip cookies!).

The book has lots of helpful information and tips on cooking for your kids (selves). She provides nutritional information on many vegetables, as well as information about important nutritients, vitamins, and minerals. Many, if not all, recipes are low-fat (using egg whites and tub margerine) and high-fiber (whole wheat flour and ground flax seed). Additionally, the appetizingly-photographed recipes are simple and use basic ingredients.

So, I'll try some recipes out and let you know more later!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What has happened to our lives?

What is the difference between us and the childless, 30-somethings? Poop! Poop and other related elimination issues are, if not THE, most important and most time-consuming topics in our house.

With two potty training boys (will my 4yo ever be potty trained?!) and a sick and angry cat...'nuff said.

For whatever reason (PMS, 11yo birthday) yesterday, I just wanted to go away from it all...and then the big one hit. "I have to go to the bathroom." "I have to go poop!" All this after the actual action....at a restaurant...with no underwear on....in short, big, gross mess.

Just another day.....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Family Shopping....Again

So, this week I went shopping with my brother and mother...and 11yo daughter. We went to Costco...a warehouse store similar to Sam's Club. We were determined to stock up on lots of stuff and share with each other the large quantities you are required to buy in order to save more money! So...with some quasi-lists in hand, we went.

I've never been to a store like this before and it was overwhelming. I quickly dismissed about half the store (appliances, electronics, meat (since we were hours from home), clothing, toys). After about an hour of shopping, we racked up three carts worth of pantry items as well as meats (for my mom and bro) and produce, and some health/beauty products. Then we got to pack it in to our van ...then unpack it at my mom's, distribute the wealth, and repack our portion into the van...then of course unpack it again upon arrival home.

Besides trying to find the best price for quality items (a daily challenge for a household), the challenge of shopping and organizing the trip and storage is what got me excited. I loved organizing the items in my downstairs pantry. But the worst part is...I'm really into using this experience as research. How do items last....are they cheaper there than Meijer....is it really worth it. Can you believe I spent about an hour last night creating a spreadsheet of all the items, prices, unit price, quantity, if we shared it or not, and Meijer's prices (which will take some time as I gather that information one week at a time). I think I am lost it in my quest for the most frugal lifestyle (Don Quixote De La Marketplace)

So...my opinion on Costco or any other type store will have to wait until further data can be analyzed. First impressions tell me it is worth it for families with kids who eat a lot of cereal, juice, pasta, and meat or those who prefer organic items. I also already know that buying shampoo and other like items is worth it.

Plus, it was so fun!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New site

I've been out of town...enjoying the heat (not really, I've been complaining about it a lot).

Anyways. I'll have more to post later but....

WCIA's webpage...illinoishomepage.net has a new Halloween section. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Local Rally for Children's Health Care

Here is some information on the controversial veto of health care policy via Moveon.org. If you can find time to support this policy...please come by tomorrow! There are rallies all over the country...please see moveon.org for local information! Also call or email your local representatives today (find them at http://www.house.gov/ and http://www.senate.gov/)! Contact Tim Johnson (CU's rep), who voted AGAINST this policy, here:http://www.house.gov/timjohnson/contact/index.shtml

President Bush just vetoed health care for children. In only his fourth veto ever, he blocked health care coverage for millions of uninsured—and mostly poor—kids.1

The Washington Post is calling this "the biggest domestic policy clash of his presidency."2

Bush is totally out of step with public opinion—even 61% of Republicans support the children's health care bill.3 We need just 15 more Republicans in Congress to break with Bush to override the veto.

This is a rapid response event, so some people won't even get this email in time. That means we'll need every last person who can possibly come to help show that the public is upset about this veto. If you're reading this, please come!

Tomorrow, can you put the pressure on at our emergency "Rally for Our Children's Health Care" in Urbana?
Where: Veterans Memorial, Broadway and Main, Urbana
When: Thursday, Oct 4 2007, 5:00 PM

Click here to RSVP:http://pol.moveon.org/event/events/event.html?event_id=40903&&id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=2

If you have kids, definitely bring them, too!

In the coming days, Congress will try to override Bush's veto with a two-thirds majority—the Senate already passed the bill with a bipartisan, veto-proof majority and the House was close. Our goal is to pressure a few more Republicans to stand up to Bush—enough to pass the children's health bill.If not enough Republicans buck Bush to overturn the veto, the Democrats have promised to keep sending the bill to Bush, each time increasing the pressure on vulnerable Republicans to support health care for our kids.2 This battle is over the philosophical question of whether or not we should make sure everyone gets health care—and it will set the stage for fights to come.4

Please join us at a "Rally for Our Children's Health Care" to show we're outraged that Republicans are blocking health care for our children—and to set the stage for fights to come:
Where: Veterans Memorial, Broadway and Main, Urbana
When: Thursday, Oct 4 2007, 5:00 PM

Click here to RSVP:http://pol.moveon.org/event/events/event.html?event_id=40903&&id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=3

Thanks for all you do.
–Noah, Anna, Jennifer, Marika, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Sources:1. "Bush vetoes child health insurance plan," Associated Press, October 3, 2007http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21111931/
2. "Showdown Looms as Child Health Bill Passes," Washington Post, September 28, 2007http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3021&id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=6
3. "Most in Poll Want War Funding Cut," Washington Post, October 2, 2007http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3031&id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=7
4. "Paul Krugman: An Immoral Philosophy," New York Times, July 30, 2007http://select.nytimes.com/2007/07/30/opinion/30krugman.html
Support our member-driven organization: MoveOn.org Political Action is entirely funded by our 3.2 million members. We have no corporate contributors, no foundation grants, no money from unions. Our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. If you'd like to support our work, you can give now at:
PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We won!

First of all...oh Britney.....moving on.

Our family won the September Wee Wild Readers drawing at the library! I've never won anything before. We did have an advantage...two kids who submit at least one entry per week (most times 3 or more...you submit one entry for every 5 books read). So, we get the exciting call from Mike, one of our favorite librarians. Once there...our 4th trip in a week, my 4yo picks out a prize...a monkey mask. I hope that he doesn't think this will happen everytime we go. He was equally excited to put my entry in the adult drawing box.

Our library routine is pretty solid...return materials, select new ones, pick word of the day, check in reading logs, check construction crews, watch money do down well, use potty, play trains....

Have I mentioned how much we love the library? You should too...check out your local library!