Sunday, March 29, 2009

First Reconciliation

C made his First Reconciliation today. It was supposed to happen in early February, but one of our priests was ill, and it was pushed back. He attends RE (religious education) at our parish, but we also do RE at home. I couldn't understand why they never had them learn the Act of Contrition during class, or even went over the form of Reconciliation -- but we covered it at home so I was confident he would do just fine.

C was very excited about today, and had been disappointed when it was postponed last month. He knows it is one more sacrament, and one more step to receiving Holy Communion. He has been practicing the Act of Contrition for many months, and had the entire prayer down pat. We had also practiced what would happen and what he was expected to say.

When I picked him up from class this morning, his teacher said "Tell your Mom what Father said!" Apparently, Father said "Are you sure this is your first time? You're like an old pro!" He was beaming with pride.

He couldn't believe that he wasn't able to say his Act of Contrition. They gave the kids a small card with a one-line Act of Contrition prayer and that was the one he was expected to say. He told the priest he knew the full version, but I guess they were pressed for time.

This afternoon, we went out and found him a suit for his First Communion next month. (I'm hoping that it will fit N next year for his First Communion!) We found a nice outfit w/vest and tie for N to wear for Easter & C's First Communion and dress shoes for the both of them. I just need to get C a dress shirt and tie to complete the outfit. He was very pleased with the day.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Review: Love Your Veggies Online Game

My kids enjoy playing computer games, and I'm always looking out for fun, new games that are appropriate for kids. When the great women over at Mom Central asked if I wanted to have my kids check out the online games at the Love Your Veggies site, I was happy to oblige.

The online game was cute, but didn't hold my 6 and 8 year old's interest very long. They did, however, enjoy all the printable activities I found on the site! There were charts, word searches, mazes and more. My boys both love worksheets, and these fit nicely into our homeschooling activities over the last few weeks.

My almost 2yo did enjoy moving and clicking the mouse and watching the water shoot during a watering game on the site. She giggled in delight at the cartoon animals on the screen.

My boys liked visiting the site and checking out the recipes available and reading more about different ways to prepare foods. My oldest firmly believes that everything is improved with ranch dressing, so he fully supports this site!

There's lots of great information at the "Love Your Veggies" site, so check it out!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Disney On Ice Ticket Giveaway!!!

I am very excited that my family & I will be attending Disney on Ice on April 9 -- thanks to Mom Central and Disney on Ice! I have wanted to attend a Disney on Ice event for a few years now, but it never quite fit in our budget. I can't wait to see the look on L's face when she meets a life-size princess! I'm keeping it a secret from the boys, and can't wait to see their excitement on April 9. It's our big Easter surprise this year.

If you're in metro Phoenix, and would like to attend, I can offer a great discount code. Just visit Ticketmaster and enter the code "MOM" to purchase 4 tickets for $44! You must purchase a minimum of 4 tickets, but you can purchase additional tickets after the first four for only $11. (This code is not valid on ringside or VIP seating.) Disney on Ice will be in Phoenix April 9 - 12, 2009.

While that's all exciting for me, I have exciting news for my local readers! I have a pack of FOUR TICKETS to give away to one of my local (metro Phoenix, AZ) readers!! The tickets are good for opening night (April 9, 2009) at the 7:30 show.

You can receive multiple entries to the giveaway:
  • Leave a comment on this post and tell me your favorite Disney character.
  • Blog about this giveaway and link back to this post. (Then leave a comment letting me know you blogged.)
  • Follow me on twitter (I'm AZMelly), tweet this blog entry, and let me know you tweeted with a comment.
Be sure that your email address is in your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner!

You MUST live in the metro Phoenix area to enter this giveaway. Disney on Ice is at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix .

This post will be open to comments until midnight, April 2, 2009. I will contact the winner by email on April 3, 2009.

**Thanks to all that entered! A winner has been drawn and contacted! Comments to this post have been closed. **

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tuya's Marriage

I am thoroughly enjoying Netflix's instant view feature. I find myself with 15 minutes here and there so I can watch a movie in spurts, and it remembers where I stopped each time. Over the last week I watched Tuya's Marriage which was stunning and saddening at the same time. The movie was set in Chinese Mongolia and depicted the life of a family of sheep herders. The storyline was tragic, but I loved the strength of the characters, and the perseverance of the heroine.

I won't include a spoiler, but was interested in some of the comments I read about this movie and how different people saw completely different endings . . . I'm not sure if they just stopped watching 10 minutes before the actual ending, or if they didn't remember what certain characters looked like.

I would recommend it, but with the warning that it is not light and fluffy by any stretch of the imagination. It was the perfect movie for me, this week, though, as we make some difficult decisions as a family.

Hall of Flame

On Friday, I woke up and decided we'd head to the zoo. I called a couple local friends to see if they wanted to join us, but they had other plans. I packed lunches, found the sunscreen and loaded the wagon into the van. It had been a while since we had been to the zoo, so we were all looking forward to it.

Then, we got close. And large signs told us "Zoo Parking Full! Park in Muni Lot and Take Free Shuttle!" Hmmmm, I thought. Riding the shuttle with the wagon was going to be impossible, and I didn't bring a stroller. I decided to brave the parking lot, and they were right. It was completely packed. This was the first time I had seen that happen, and then I remembered it was the last day of spring break! Apparently everyone else woke this morning with the same idea.

The boys were disappointed, and I had to run into my office, so we took a short trip to my training center where the boys got to see where I work and the office manager gave them pretzels and sodas. They all perked up at that, but we were still 40 miles from home.

My oldest suggested the Botanical Gardens, but our membership had lapsed and I couldn't swing a new one just yet. Then, I remembered seeing a sign for the "Hall of Flame" museum. We headed back up the road, and after a few turns we pulled into the parking lot.

My 6yo was grumbling a bit while we were in the parking lot, and I told him he needed to have a better attitude! We headed inside, paid our admission, and thoroughly enjoyed 2 hours in the Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum. It is the largest firefighting musuem in the country and it is jam-packed with restored fire trucks from the earliest handpulled ones to ones made in the 1950's. Nate quickly mentioned that he didn't know why he was grumbly about visiting!

When we came in, we were offered a binder with information about each of the exhibited pieces. They included so much information that I wish L wasn't such a quick runner these days! I would like to come back again with another adult so we could trade off chasing duties and we could read more information.

They also had an informative dvd about the museum -- which began after the founder received an old firetruck as a Christmas present from his wife! There was also a gallery of heroes, walls and walls of patches from around the country/world, a fire truck the kids could climb on, and a safety play area for kids, complete with a firepole.

We had a wonderful time and plan to visit again soon. If you're in the area, I highly recommend checking them out!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Not Too Busy

Things are moving at a hectic pace around here lately. I'm picking up more classes, learning new software, gaining more writing clients -- on top of the regular stuff of the last few years. I'm focused and determined and holding myself to strict time lines so I can fit everything in.

But? When my 6yo says "Hey, Mom, can I read to you?" I drop everything and say "Absolutely! Let's go to the reading spot right now!" I don't want to stifle his new-found desire to read. When my almost 2yo brings me a book and says "Read! Book! Peeeaaassss!", I drop everything and head to the reading spot and read until she tires of sitting still. When my 8yo says "Hey, Mom! This book is really cool. Can I tell you about it?", I turn away from whatever I'm doing, look him full in the face and say "I would LOVE to hear about the book you're reading!" Then I listen and we talk about the book. Sometimes he'll read me a section.

As a parent, teaching my children to read is one of the things that fills me with pride. I never want to dampen their love of reading, and I'll do what I can to continue fostering that love.

What do you stop everything for in your family?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Review: Baby Einstein World Music DVD & CD

Mom Central and Baby Einstein sent us an advance copy of the Baby Einstein: World Music DVD (scheduled for release March 30). I have always been a fan of the Baby Einstein dvds, and this is one of my favorites so far! We've been watching their dvds since C was an infant (he's 8.5 now) and I've been a bit excited about the new releases we've enjoyed with L.

There are wild animals and dancing in this one, which puts L (my 22 mo) over the moon! One specific scene of African dancers is her all-time favorite segment from this dvd. If she had a bigger vocabulary, I know she'd be asking me to make her some of the leg decorations they wear!

The music is fun and upbeat. The segments are the right length for a toddler / preschooler. And the scenery and the wild animals are absolutely beautiful. I like the fact there is a 5-minute or 10-minute choice in addition to watching the entire dvd. My boys had fun with the bonus feature that showed all the different continents and the names of the various instruments. They are also great about flipping through the discovery cards bonus feature which shows different stills from the dvd, which L enjoyed very much.

Mom Central and Baby Einstein also sent us a copy of the Baby Einstein: World Music CD. I've loaded it to my iPod already and know that it will come in handy while in the car and when we're out and about. I only need to find better headphones to carry for L.

This is one of the best Baby Einstein dvds I've seen (and I think I've seen them all!) I really enjoyed it, and have recommended it to a few local friends in the last few days. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you buy it for your toddler!

Many thanks to Mom Central & Baby Einstein for sending me the dvd & cd to check out!

Review: Discover Current Card

Mom Central and Discover asked me to share my thoughts about their new debit card for teens. Discover is offering their Current card as a tool for parents and teens to use to help build financial knowledge and independence. For a low monthly fee of $5, teens and parents can track and manage their spending online, as well as withdraw cash up to 4 times each month.

Some of the features include:
  • Helpful Account Management Features: Parents can set spending limits, restrict merchant categories and track their teen’s spending through online statements, e-mail and text message alerts. They also enjoy the convenience of free, flexible loading options. Teens also can load their paychecks onto the card through direct deposit.
  • Advanced Security Features: Current is protected by Discover’s $0 fraud liability, which means cardmembers are never responsible for unauthorized charges – online, offline, anytime, anywhere. Current cards that are lost or stolen will be temporarily suspended or deactivated, and cardmembers will be eligible for an emergency replacement.
  • Financial Education Resources: Teens can learn how to spend smarter by logging onto the Account Center at There they can view helpful articles on topics such as basic financial concepts, protecting yourself from identify theft, starting a savings program, and making your money go further.
  • Meaningful Rewards: Teens are eligible for members-only in-store coupons and online discounts when they use their card at select restaurants, movie theaters and teen-friendly merchants. What’s more, parents earn Discover Cashback Bonus or Miles when they load their teen’s Current Card using their Discover Card.
I think that this card through Discover offers some neat features, and I like the fact that it offers discounts when used at select retailers.

I have used fee-free Visa gift cards to load gift money my sons have received to make it easier to keep track of and prevent loss. That has been useful, but I can see how it would be more useful to easily see what the money was spent on.

These cards would also be great to load allowances, if a teen received a monthly allowance. I can see how they would be useful for some families, but also wonder if some families would balk at the $5 fee compared to free checking accounts (that also offer free online banking) at many banks. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day in the life post . . . (yesterday)

7AM - woke to the sounds of L calling my name over and over and over. Since she's only about 3 feet away, I finally stumbled over to her and her cries turned to "nurse! nurse! nurse!" I nursed her for about 10 minutes and then the wailing started when I told her we were finished. She brightened up quickly at the mention of oatmeal, though!

Made oatmeal and L ate while I emptied the dishwasher. Made her a 2nd bowl of oatmeal. Cleaned her up.

Checked email and noted a couple things I need to follow up on today. Read a page of the software manual I'm prepping to teach tomorrow. Changed a dirty diaper and handed her off to DH for a shower.

Checked facebook. Proofed and made some editing changes to 4 articles I wrote yesterday and outlined another article very roughly. Started this post.

While DH dressed L and brushed her hair (which, I should mention, he has no problem getting her to sit still and look up while he does. Maybe it's because he tells her how pretty her hair is 40 times. Maybe he is more gentle with the hairbrush than me. But, most of the time when I try to brush her hair? She runs away, or throws herself on the ground and covers her head with her hands.) I showered. DH made our bed and turned on Elmo for the tiniest one.

I dressed, threw in a load of laundry, put away the laundry that was in the dryer, checked email again (hoping for a payment from an assignment so I can go to the grocery store later.) Wrote out the boys' assignments for today and considered writing them out for the rest of the week, but decided to do that later.

Woke N and C. Toasted freezer waffles, served with juice and fruit. Looked over today's to-do list and added a couple more items. Added syrup to the grocery list. Ate a bowl of cereal.

N & C made their beds. Got started on schoolwork. I threw in another load of laundry (behind again lately, but trying to catch up. Tuesdays usually mean 2 loads anyway, but thinking it'll be 4 today to catch up.) Redirected N multiple times from coloring books, lego magazines, and shadow play. Thinking again how much I'll miss homeschooling C next year, but not so much with N. It's always a struggle with that boy.

Read books to L. She's at that wonderful age where you have to read the same board book 20 times in a row. Boys still schooling. L tired of William Wegman Puppies Book so I set her up to draw at Little Tykes table. Checked completed schoolwork. Review grammar pages with C. Help C with cursive writing. Listen to N read aloud.

Checked books coming due at the library at the library website. Checked email (still no payment!) Realized we need to make a library run, so find shoes for baby and brush hair and put some make up on. Ask the boys to get their library bags, find books to return. Read 5 pages in software manual while waiting for C to finish a lesson (he hates to stop in the middle of a lesson.) Change diaper, fill water bottles, get into van.

Checked mailbox and found that expected check not in box. Happy to find new dvd to review, though!

C reads his religion chapter out loud in the van. We discuss the chapter. Listen to StoryNory podcast on my iPod with the kids. Visit library. Struggle to get L to stay in stroller so I can help boys find books. Let her play with bead maze while boys bring me books for review. Give up thoughts of looking for books for myself. Check out. Listen to more StoryNory.

Find emergency $10 bill in van for diapers and milk. Grateful for $5 Huggies coupon! (see link to to the left!) Drop off outgoing mail at the post office. Realize I forgot some of the mail that needed to be sent.

Come home and prepare lunch of soup & crackers. Clean part of kitchen while kids finish eating. Nurse L down for a nap. The boys ride their bikes out front, and since I have the office window open I can hear them and watch them play while I sit down to work. Update this post.

Review to-do list and panic a little. Read 20 pages of software manual and test some things out on Access. Review a reference book for another viewpoint on advanced queries. Jot down notes. Write rough drafts of 2 articles about healthy eating. Write post for Get a glass of ice water and wonder how long before L wakes. Check email and respond to one that potentially will earn me a fee.

Lydia wakes from nap. Snuggle her for a few minutes on the couch as she finishes waking up. Read Busy Bunnies to her. Put in a new Baby Einstein dvd I received to review and bring laptop to living room while we all watch it. Jot a few notes about her reactions. Work on outline for workshop on Pivot Tables and jot notes about structure. Research potential reference books to get more information. Update this post. Finish outline for workshop and send to client. Continue email conversation about potential class. Research potential handouts / manuals for potential class.

Empty dryer, fill dryer, fill washer. Dump load of dry pants in basket. Run errand while sister watches kids. Chat with DH on phone. Return home and visit briefly with sis.

Time to prepare dinner. Mac & Cheese and mandarin oranges. Check email. Kids go in backyard to pick up mess the dog has made AGAIN. Consider searching again for another home for dog.

Bathe L (yes, again . . . she's a grimy child) Pull out work clothes for tomorrow and put everything on hangar. Find work shoes. Dry off L and put her in pjs. Think again how I need to find her some spring pajamas because her thermals are getting too warm. Decide house is much too warm for pajamas I put on her and switch them for a onesie.

Send boys off to bathe. Empty out their backpacks from last week and review as needed. Put fresh water bottles in their bags and hang on chairs in kitchen. Check L's diaper bag and add her cup. Pack a lunch for L.

Encourage boys to set out their clothes for tomorrow (they attend their enrichment program.) Boys and L play while I finish up rough draft posts and publish. Check email, facebook, bloglines. Read a few blogs. Update this post.

8PM: DH comes home and has made no sales. He tucks boys into bed and I nurse L while watching a little tv. DH goes out in the dark to replace the thermostat in the van, while we hope that is the reason the engine has been overheating.

Put L down for the night. Go and say prayers with the boys and tuck them in again. Yell at them as they get out of bed because they're hungry. Remind them that snacks happen BEFORE they're tucked in, not after! Allow them a drink because I'm a softie. Answer multiple questions as they pop out of bed. Wonder again where I've gone wrong with bedtime.

Outline 2 more articles in "healthy" series. Read through software manual for class tomorrow from start to finish again. Make notes. Realize I'm not going to have time to write for Demand Studios tonight, so release 2 articles I had claimed. Write more articles in healthy series, but realize I will not finish tonight like I wanted to. DH fills up my water glass and makes my lunch for tomorrow.

Pack work bag for tomorrow (I'm teaching a class.) Put out travel mug for my tea in the AM.

Work through exercises in manual a 2nd time for class tomorrow. Make notes.

1AM - Get ready for bed. Set alarm for 6AM. Climb into bed. Get out of bed because I forgot to email friend who is picking up boys tomorrow to remind her. Back into bed. Headphones on and NPR podcast playing as I fall asleep.

What I didn't do: Finish healthy articles series, prep for new client meeting on Thursday, prepare 7 blog posts for clients (due later in week, but would have been nice to be ahead), clean bathroom, finish cleaning kitchen, put away 2nd load of clean clothes, do any marketing work, prepare schoolwork for remainder of week, file my nails, pluck my brows, clean off my desk, begin prep for next week's 2 classes (both new to me), prepare a mailing, start & complete an important piece of paperwork, work on review posts for this site, work on taxes, exercise, sort through growing pile of mail, make 3 phone calls that need to be made, read to the boys, have meaningful conversation with DH, spend time with DH, eat dinner.

Monday, March 09, 2009

trimmed bangs

I took L for a haircut this weekend and she was so funny. She really hates having her hair washed and brushed, and she absolutely won't wear any hair clips or bands -- so I have to keep her bangs trimmed to keep her looking neat.

She sat very still in the hairdresser's chair, but she was NOT happy to be there. She didn't cry, and she didn't squirm, but she would cry out plaintively every few seconds "Money? Ma Ma?" (Money = Bunny which is my sister's nickname. She absolutely adores her Aunt Bunny, and she was with us for the haircut.) Her little face was crunched into a scowl and she did not want to lift her head at all.

The hairdresser was wonderfully patient and trimmed her bangs and evened out the rest of her hair a bit. It looks very cute, and she can see once again without a fringe of hair hanging into her eyes. I have no shots of her new haircut. Hmmm, if she wasn't in bed right now I'd probably snap a couple. I guess I'll try to get to it tomorrow.

The boys are also in desperate need of a haircut, but they have "crazy hair" day this Wednesday at their enrichment program so we're waiting until after that day to get haircuts. They're looking so shaggy that I plan to take them on Thursday . . . no, on Friday because I have appointments on Thursday.

I would like to get my hair highlighted, and cut as well. I really didn't like the last cut I received and am tired of waiting for it to grow out. I keep hoping it gets better the longer it gets, but it just sticks out in more places instead.

Do you take your boys to a barber or do it yourself? DH wants to use the clippers on our boys in the backyard (which is how I cut his hair) but I've always taken them to a barber. It'd save $26 if I could do it in the backyard, but I don't want them to look funny! DH's hair is easy because there isn't much of it left.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


I'm feeling sad for my 6yo right now. About a month ago, my oldest had surgery and received gifts in the mail from a few different people. It was sweet, unexpected, and really cheered him! A couple weeks ago, my 6yo broke his toe and has received nothing. And what has broken my heart is that he asked me today "Mom, do people just care about C more?"

I tried to explain to him that it wasn't that at all -- but that people were busy and I was sure they were thinking of him and hoping his toe healed quickly. It's almost ironic that C's surgery actually healed much faster than poor N's toe and he was back to "normal" fairly quickly while N is still hobbling around after 2 weeks.

I do know that people are busy, and since it happened so close together, they may not feel able to send something again. I imagine if the situations were reversed, C might be wondering if people cared about him. It makes me wish, though, that people would do nothing instead of doing for only one. Because when you're 6? It's easy to feel slighted. And, that, once again -- your big brother gets everything while you don't get anything.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Review: Carpet Fresh

The lovely ladies over at Mom Central asked if I would be interested in trying out Carpet Fresh Carpet & Room Odor Eliminator. Ummm, I have 2 boys, a toddler girl and a dog. I was VERY interested in trying it out! I received a sample of the Quick Dry Foam in the Apples & Cinnamon scent and couldn't wait to use it.

The directions state to spray it on the carpet, and then you can just leave it. No vacuuming required. Just spray and go! I liked this product already. I sprayed the carpet in the hallway (which needs to be professionally cleaned. Both the toddler and the dog have christened the floor there. bleck) The scent was light and refreshing. I love the smell of cinnamon, and this was very pleasant. When N walked through to his room, he said "Mmm. What smells nice?" I really liked how easy it was to use.

Just the other day, I took it out to our van and sprayed the carpets. A few spilled drinks and lost french fries have left the van needing a freshener. Even after a couple days I could still notice the faint scent of apples and cinnamon and I couldn't smell the old fries at all.

I'm very pleased with the Carpet Fresh Dry Foam and plan to buy more when this can runs out. If you visit their site, you can learn more about the product, and download a $1.50 coupon towards your next purchase. There's even a page where you can read more tips about using their products and use a product locator tool.

Disclosure: I received a free sample of the product to try, and a $20 Amazon gift certificate for reviewing this product on my blog. My review is my own opinion.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Thank You Berries & Cream!

Do you like my new design? I know I do!!

Late last year, Kelly McCausey was helping grant wishes for moms working from home and I asked for a new blog design. My previous design was created by a company that has since gone out of business, was based on the old blogger, and the graphics saved on the defunct company's server. I was afraid I'd wake up one morning and have no graphics left.

Linda, of Berries & Cream Design, graciously offered to fulfill my wish. She was absolutely wonderful to work with! When I was vague, she was patient and asked plenty of questions. She was patient when I was a bit slow finding a picture . . . and extremely kind and helpful when I decided to completely change pictures at the last minute. She listened to what I wanted and put together a design using the colors I liked and made it simple, but pleasing to the eye.

While she is obviously very creative, she is also extremely pro-active about communication! I always knew where we were in the process and I was never left wondering what was going to happen next.

Oh, and she was very sweet and nice, too! It was a great experience and I am so happy with the results. I have some things I want to add to the sidebars yet, but with the new blogger format I can do that easily once I find the time.

The picture in my header is of me and my three children and was taken by my dear husband. (L is in the sling . . . I know you can't see her, but I *know* she's there.) We're walking up a trail at the Superstition Mountains, which are pretty close to our home. Our part of Arizona sees more than 330 days of sunshine a year, so anyplace I am in this state, I can find a little patch of sunshine.

If you're looking for a new blog design, please go check out Berries & Cream. I know you'll be pleased with the results!
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