Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dr. Scholl's For Her Cozy Cusions #RoseVoxBox

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love the color schemes (i.e. burgundy, brown, deep greens), the smells (pumpkin spice everything!), and the change in wardrobe.  When the leaves start changing, I pull out my boots and right now, my favorite pair is the Justin’s cowgirl boots Felipe bought for me for Christmas last year.  Not only do they go with everything, but they’re so comfy. 

Dr Scholl’s and Influenster apparently thought I wasn’t ready enough for Fall so they sent me Dr. Scholl’s® for Her Cozy Cushions.  I’m not a shoe insert wearer like my honey is but this pair is changing my tune.  I love them!  They provide added support, are easy to cut down to size with regular scissors, and a add cozy lining to my favorite pair of Fall shoes.  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this and thought they would be far too hot.  But, I was pleasantly surprised!  My boots are square toed and the inserts are meant to be cut round.  We did cut them round on the pre-marked lines and to the size of my boots and they fit very comfortably.

I love them and think they’ll make for the perfect stocking stuffer for my family this Christmas. 

Disclaimer: I received this product complimentary from Influenster in exchange for my honest reviews.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Halloween 2012

This is a weird Halloween at the Carmona household.  The children both have their respective costumes.  I made a big pot of chili just like my mom always did.  And yet, here I sit alone.  Felipe is gone to yoga class.  Gabby is with her mother trick-or-treating because apparently this is a holiday we should share.  And, little Jack is watching "Choo Choo" a.k.a. Thomas and Friends.  It's weird.  It's also raining, which sucks.  So, I'm a little glad that Gabby has someone else to take her trick-or-treating tonight because I'm not sure I want two soggy kids in the rain and a crabby daddy.  Call me crazy.

Instead, here's a throwback to last year's Halloween:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: The Last Bully

The Last Bully by Suzy Liebermann is yet another story about Hugo the Happy Starfish.  We received a copy to read on our Kindle which was an enjoyable medium for both of my children.  I love that this series uses gentle characters to educate children on how to use an attitude of respect when dealing with one another and with dealing with bullies.  In this brightly illustrated book, the cheerful characters gently teach children how to handle disrespect.  Hugo the Happy Starfish observes his friends being bullied.  He forms the Anti-Bulling Club (ABC) to help his friends feel supported in their struggles.  Their message is to stop bullying as there are always bigger fish in the ocean and they need to respect one another.  In the end, they convert the entire ocean to their kind ways.  This is a great children's book about bullying!  I love that it helps to teach respect.

For more information on Hugo, click here.

You can also read my reviews and those of other readers on Amazon and Goodreads.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Today I turned 26.  This has to be, by far, the worst birthday yet.  I was awakened at 5 am to my sister panicking that Mom is sick and trouble her teenage son got himself in to.  The selfish part of me was pissed that she work me up that early and didn't even wish me a happy birthday.  It was my day to be greedy and shitty and I didn't get it.  I'm sad.  That's just how it is.  And, I'll probably be sad until we get some answers which should happen within the next two weeks.  I just want to be selfish and I can't.  Other people have needs and wants and those should be prioritized over my selfish ones.

So, to answer the people that asked what I was doing for my special day, I got up and got kids ready and delivered to their appropriate places.  I was went to work, worked an 8 hour day and then rushed to pick up said children, deliver them at home and then went to Parent Orientation at Gabby's school.  I came home to dinner, homework and bedtime.  It was nothing special.  It was Thursday.

If the last 24 hours are any indication of how 26 is going to treat me, I'm going in to hibernation for the next year.  I'll see you in 2014.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My Mom Has Cancer

My mom is sick.  My mom has cancer.  There.  I said it.  Never have two sentences been harder to type.  My mom is a brave woman and a hell of a fighter.  She has battled stage 3C primary ovarian, secondary peritoneal ve for the last 5 years.  She's a survivor.  3 years ago she was told she had 6 months to live.  She beat those odds and gave cancer the big fuck you.  She's damn lucky.  Honestly, she is.

She fought a terrible battle, had numerous surgeries, saw nameless nurses and tons of doctors.  Her hospital stays were long and many.  It was a terribly trying battle.  But she persisted and she fought for answers.  And she won!

And then today, she found out it's back or it's spread and my whole world came crashing down.  My mom is my rock and my friend and I can't see her be put through this again.  She fought so hard for what she has that it's so hard to see her taken back a step.  But, she'll do what she does and she'll back so hard and she'll win. She has to.  We need her.

So, now, she has cancer in her kidney.  She'll meet with a urologist and then they will operate.  Part or all of her kidney will be removed.  I don't know if that means dialysis.  I don't know if she'll need further treatment.  I don't know and that terrifies me so much.

I need her.  We need her.  This little one needs her.

Yes, those are her hands holding my little itty bitty throwback baby.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Shitty Parenting Things You Don't Learn in a Book

I'm pretty sure every new parent has read, browsed or at least glanced at a parenting book or website.  It might be BabyCenter or the Bump or What to Exempt When You're Expecting but we all do it.  My weekend was filled with things that you don't find in that book.

The first thing?  Your baby will up and decide to jump out of bed one night.  I couldn't figure out why Jack wouldn't stop screaming at bedtime one night.  We practice CIO (cry it out) -- don't judge-- and Jack has been a great sleeper for the last 9 months.  Very rarely do we have an issue with him.  I put him to bed as I normally do: bath, diaper/pj's, 2 stories read at least 3 times each, a kiss on the forehead, the mobile music turned on and lights out.  This is our routine.  This has been our routine for a long time.  When I put him in his crib, he lost his shit.  Full on screaming that wouldn't stop.  Eventually it was time to put Gabby to bed so I went in there to try to quiet him down so he wouldn't be so loud that she wouldn't sleep.  I opened the door and tripped over him standing in his room with his blankie under his arm.  Of course the logical response was to turn to Felipe and Gabby and ask who the hell got him out of bed.  My brain hadn't yet caught up.  I quickly realized that no one had gotten him out of bed and that he had tumbled out.  I scooped him up, got a sippy cup with milk and Tylenol and sat down with him.  Rocking him until he was nearly asleep.  I put him in his bed and can you guess what happened next?  I shut the door and herd a loud slam as he tumbled out of bed on to his hard wood floors.  Fuck.  Felipe came barreling in to the room.  I demanded that he lower the crib to the floor and took Jack to my bed.  Of course we fell asleep all snuggled up together.  Fast forward to some unknown hour when Felipe came in, scooped up Jack and put him to bed no problems.  4:30 am?  Yeah, Jack woke up and cried for 20 minutes I assume because he was back in bed and unable to escape.  He got over it and went back to bed.

When asked the next morning what he did last night, this is the face I got:

Guilty trouble maker.

The next thing was really shitty.  Literally.  Jack woke me up at 7 am on Saturday morning by whining in his crib.  I got out of bed, went in to find that my son had removed his diaper.  His poopy diaper.  He then proceeded to play in it and (I'm assuming) continue to shit in the bed which would explain the two neat piles I found.  There was poop on his clothes, his arms, his legs, his face and all over the bed.  I took one look at him and said "Excuse me, I haven't even had time to pee yet." and promptly left the room.  Having peed, I returned to find that it was indeed the exact situation that I though.  So, I threw him in a warm bath and started bleaching before 7:30 am.  Shoot me and gag me now.

Tonight it has been 90 minutes and Jack still refuses to go to sleep.  He'll absolutely be up at 6 am as his is every other morning and I'll be in need of some major coffee.

Parenting is great.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Gabby's Birthday Party Part 2

This year, we combined Gabby's friend/family birthday party in to one big pool party.  We rented out our local pool and invited children from Gabby's class, her friends from her Indian Princess tribe and family.  It was great!  We had perfect weather-- better than could be imagined.  We also had a great turn out.  It wasn't crowded but we had enough people to have a really good time.  I kept food at the pool easy since it was 10-12p.  We had "beach balls" aka cheese balls, pool noodles aka Twizzlers, chips and watermelon.  We also had a number of drinks in coolers.  I had Nana make and ice cupcakes at the bakery and then Felipe and I spent one night decorating them.  All ideas were courtesy of Pinterest.

Happy 8th birthday, Gabby! We love you!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Review: It's Good to be Me! (Children's Book)

The key word in Suzy Liebermann's It's Good to be Me! featuring Hugo the Happy Starfish is appreciation.  Hugo finds himself to be unhappy with himself and focuses solely on his looks in this underwater children's book.  The Magic Manta offers 6 wishes to his friend in an attempt to make him happier.  Hugo changes his eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and grows larger but when he looks in the mirror, he's more disappointed with himself than he was before.  He uses his last wish to turn himself back to himself.

You can purchase your copy of this book here.  This is by far my favorite of Suzy Liebermann's books.  I think this is probably the most important message that she sends: you're beautiful the way you are.  My little one certainly struggles with image issues which is horrifying to me given that she's eight.  We read this book and discussed the importance of appreciating what you have.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Review: One Step at a Time (Children's Book)

In Suzy Lieberman's One Step at a Time, the story focuses on Hugo the starfish's commitment to getting to the top of the Matterhorn in Switzerland.  He is required to follow a number of steps and instructions on a list in order to meet his goal.  His persistence is rewarded with the accomplishment of reaching the top and getting a helicopter ride back to the ocean thanks to his friend Manta.

The illustrations were a little crazy but the story and the message are good.  My 8 year old enjoyed the story and looking up both Switzerland and the Matterhorn on a map.  It was a little geography lesson paired with encouragement to stay focused and proceed one step at a time to meet a goal.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Review: The Secret to Happiness (Children's Book)

The Secret to Happiness by Suzy Liebermann is a children's book about Hugo, a small starfish.  He's sad and disinterested in his life and goes looking for something that makes him happy.  After a few attempts at fleeting happiness, Hugo discovers with the help of a friend that the secret to true, lasting happiness is to share with others without expecting anything in return.

I think in today's society, this is not something embraced by our children.  Our children are spoiled and expect something in return.  We are trying to teach Gabby to be responsible and respectful and have to bribe her with the promise of  a pet.  For her, it keeps her on track and gives her a goal.  I think this book has an important message that is gently taught with a sweet story and cute pictures.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: Woolzies Eco-Friendly Dryer Balls

Woolzies eco-friendly dryer balls made of 100% pure New Zealand wool.  They do everything conventional fabric softeners do (except add scent) and reduce drying time by 25%.  The company states that if their dryer balls don't last at least 1,000 loads, they'll give you your money back!  These have no chemicals and are hypoalergenic for all those sensitive skin types and are safe even for people that are sensitive to wool.

You add all six balls which are the size and shape of tennis balls when you put the clothes in the dryer and they bounce around in there adding lift.  It works very well-- there are no adverse odors and they take up minimal space.  I do continue to throw a dryer sheet in with every load.  It's not at all necessary but it helps keep my clothes smelling fresh.  You can purchase your own set of Woolzies here and interact with the company on both Facebook and Twitter.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gabby's 8th Birthday Part 1

My mom likes to take each of her grandchild for a special birthday celebrant only birthday adventure when they turn 8.  The boys were taken to Medieval Times and the girls were taken to the American Girl store.  this year was Gabby's turn and just like the other girls, she made her inaugural trip to Chicago for the American Girl store.  Nanni spent the night the at our house so that we could ride the Metra train in to the city with her.  We got up bright and early to see my honey off to work and then the girls got ready for their big adventure.  Jack was not invited and spent the day with the nanny.

The train ride was spent shopping the American Girl catalog-- a whole hour of pre-shopping before we even got downtown.  Upon arrival, we took a taxi to the store and let Gabby have two whole hours of exploring and admiring the displays.  Then, we had a lunch reservation-- it was a one hour and four course affair.

After lunch, Gabby had two hours to make her final selections-- she had $40 and Nanni and I had both promised her a birthday present.  Needless to say, we boosted the economy with our shopping day.  5 hours later, we sent the picture on the bottom right to Felipe (in part to scare him) and headed back for our train.

I'm so thankful for this wonderful experience and the opportunity to make memories with both Gabby and my mom.  Fantastic day!  Thanks, girls!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Hidden Under Her Heart by Rachelle Ayala

Maryanne Torres is a compassionate nurse who fails at relationships.  After a string of losers, she swears off premarital sex, hoping to land a marrying type of man.

Lucas Knight, a law-school dropout, moves to California to train for the Ironman Triathlon.  He's smart, sweet, and everything Maryanne wants in a man, but their relationship suffers from his dedication to the sport.  Seeking consolation in the arms of a handsome preacher's son, Maryanne attends a church party where she is raped.

Maryanne is pregnant from the rape and plans to abort.  But the identity of her rapist is hidden in her baby's DNA.  Lucas asks Maryanne to seek alternatives and pledges to support her through the pregnancy.  When Lucas becomes the prime suspect, Maryanne must clear his name and make a life changing decision.

The rapist has other ideas.  In order to destroy the evidence, he offers Maryanne an illegal offshore abortion.  With Maryanne's life in danger, Lucas races to save her and her baby.  However, Maryanne hides a secret that threatens to tear them apart forever.

 A 99,000 word women's fiction, Hidden Under Her Heart deals with the consequences of rape and abortion. 

[Content Advisory: This book has a pro-life slant.  There are a few swear words.  The rape is not shown, but there is one mild sex scene between Maryanne and her boyfriend.]

Whew!  Still with me after all of that?  I sincerely believe that Rachelle Ayala is a fantastic writer with great potential.  I really enjoyed another book written by her.  This book was a little bit of a difficult read.  Maryanne and Lucas were on again and off again way too many times for my liking.  Otherwise, the characters were likable-- both were educated people with dreams and plans not unlike yours truly.  They were both dedicated to their beliefs, except for their beliefs about each other.

The story line was very easy to follow but heartbreaking to read.  I can't imagine going through what Maryanne went through-- she found someone she liked, found another guy she was interested in and ended up getting raped.  And, the rape led to an unwanted pregnancy.  Then, to imagine carrying a baby, feeling it kick and move and grow and know that the father was a rapist and a monster but not know who he is would   be devastating.  I couldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

The pro-life spin on the book is neither overdone nor steeped in religion.  The religious aspect of this book is significantly more toned down than in the other book which is surprising given the topic.  I liked it though.  The story line was good, the author writes very well, but the characters just need to make up their freaking minds already.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review: Crime & Passion by Chantel Rhondeau

A decorated police officer, more intent on justice than following the letter of the law, lands in trouble when a schoolteacher finds a dead body on the beach.
Officer Donovan Andrews knows how to have a good time--ask any woman in town.  But when it comes to men abusing their wives or children, Donovan takes it upon himself to make them regret it.
Madeline Scott is unlucky in love.  All she wants is a quiet place to heal, away from cheating, womanizing men.  However, her life is far from peaceful once she stumbles across the body and witnesses someone fleeing the scene.
Terror spreads in Pleasant View when the small community hears a killer is on the loose.  All evidence points to Donovan, and he realizes someone is trying to frame him.  When troubling suspicious from past surface, even fellow officers believe he's guilty.  Madeline might be the only person who can clear his name, but first he has to win her trust.  
The body count rises and no one is safe.  The murderer makes it clear Madeline is next.  Soon, Donovan's whole world is focused on protecting her and keeping himself out of prion.  The more time he spends with her, the harder it is to fight his growing attraction.  Since she's been burned by love, convincing Madeline he's interested in something more than hot sex may prove harder than keeping her alive.

This book surprised me.  I honestly assumed that I'd breeze through it and it would be some corny romance. It really wasn't bad.  That being said, it was a quick read-- I received a copy in digital format and Jack and I read it at bed time every night.  Ok, so he drank his bottle and I read after we read his story first.  

The characters were realistic people in a small town.  Madeline was a nice girl who was liked by all who unintentionally got caught up in more than she thought while walking some dogs as a side job.  Donovan is a charismatic man who is well known around town especially to the female population.  As a small town girl, this sort of thing happens in every small town.  

Chantel Rhondeau set up a very good story.  I really didn't guess the twist at the end until I nearly reached it. She set up the story very well and kept me guessing for a very long time.  I did suspect nearly everyone as the town murderer.  Either I'm a very poor guesser or she's a very good writer-- I'll say it's a little of both.

In the end, I enjoyed the book.  I probably won't read it again, but it was an enjoyable read that I found to be more suspenseful than passionate.  Or, perhaps, that's just because I enjoyed the suspense portion more than the passion.  It was better written.  I hope Miss Rhondeau continues with her talent of suspense writing.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

05.29.2013 - Memorial Day Recap

Warning: Having issues resizing in Photobucket tonight and too frustrated to keep fighting with it.  Every time I resize, they revert to the original size. Enjoy the enormous pictures!

We had a beautifully relaxing three-day weekend.  We spent the weekend at my mom's house and got to see all of my nieces and nephews.  The weather could have been more cooperative but it certainly was manageable.

Saturday, a peeking boy who decided to become mobile on Mother's Day could be found going in and out of my parents' house and peeking through the windows.

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On Sunday, we had a graduation party to go to for a family friend and Jack wore his first bow tie.  I say first because I guarantee he will wear them again.  Poor child does not have a choice.  It was too perfect.  I had been watching these ties go cheaper and cheaper on clearance at Target and was waiting for them to hit a reasonable price.  Full price = $5.  At 70% off, I paid $1.50.  Jack doesn't ever wear bibs and rips them off-- always has.  Luckily, he wasn't a pukey or slobbery baby so we didn't have to change his clothes constantly because of the lack of a bib.  He rocked his new bow tie.

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Sunday also featured a mama/baby nap on Nanni's front porch.  We get our snuggles when we can.

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Thank you to all of my family and friends who made our relaxing weekend possible.  Also, a big thank you goes out to all the men and women who selflessly serve in our armed forces.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Broken Build (Silicon Valley Romantic Suspense) by Rachelle Ayala

I decided to try something new and let companies send me books in exchange for my honest reviews.  The first book I received was Broken Build by Rachelle Ayala.

Jen Jones hides a horrible secret behind her new degree, toned body, and exciting job at Silicon Valley’s hottest startup—until a man linked to her past is killed in a hit-and-run.

CEO and founder Dave Jewell is about to land a huge deal. He doesn't need blood on his car, threatening phone calls, and Jen wrapped in broken code and blackmail.

A gang of thugs hunts Jen, and she takes refuge in Dave’s protective arms. Together, they must thwart a killer and rescue an innocent victim from their past. Love blossoms, but a damaging revelation points straight at Jen, threatening to tear them apart forever.

Content advisory: language, sexual situations.

I was a little intimidated to read a Silicon Valley book-- I thought it would be a little too far over my head.  Yes, my customers buy software from me, but I don't know all the in's and out's of software building and design.  I don't necessarily think that's a big deal when reading this book.  Ms. Ayala went out of her way to explain most of the difficult terms and a simple Google search filled in any blanks.  Overall, the story was good, the characters were likable and the book was a nice, quick read.

The story started slow and technical which is to be expected for something based in Silicon Valley.  Immediately I was intimidated.  However, I stuck with it and eventually talk of builds and uploads didn't even phase me-- everything was well explained.  While quite a few of the twists were easily identifiable, I was shocked by the ending and all of the cliff hangers.  I surprised myself in my need to find out who ended up where.  I really don't want to give it away though.
The characters were, overall, likable.  Jen was a nice girl who seemed to have a soft-heart even if she did have a sordid past that was hinted at the entire time.  I really didn't like Dave Jewell but he came with Jen so I really didn't have a choice but to put up with him.  He ran so hot and cold that on one page, I'd be thinking that he wasn't so bad and I'd turn the page only to find that I really didn't like him at all.  He made it difficult for me to like him.  Personally, I think there were enough bad guys in the book that the guy who lost his wife and daughter, and then went on to be a total playboy didn't need to play bad guy.  He could have been a nice guy and never disrupted the story line.  
Overall, this book was a quick read which was nice.  There were a number of religious quotes and references.  They didn't add to the book at all and could have been completely admitted.  I think they were put there to convince me to like Dave Jewell but I didn't like him anyway so it didn't matter.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Working out, dieting and losing weight.  Fuck. Heavy topics tonight.  Literally.

Background: I have struggled with my weight from the time I was a child.  Too many carbs and too much amazing home cooking.  My mom is a great cook who made a ton of delicious casseroles.  Little did I know that those yummy jerks would come back to bite me in the ass.  I didn't get to where I am now by hating food, that's for sure.  And, to be honest, I haven't missed many meals.  It shows.  I tried (half-heartedly) to lose weight in middle school and in high school.  It didn't work.  In college, I moved to WI and was living in a hotel for two years.  My kitchen consisted of a George Forman grill, a microwave, a crockpot and an illegal toaster.  My mini fridge couldn't hold too many veggies and keep them consistently fresh and with the minimalist kitchen setup, healthy meals weren't an all the time option.  But, I tried.  I wasn't eating pizza every weekend and binge drinking at parties.  Rather, I was trying to cook healthier option in the crockpot and on the grill.  I tried.  I graduated college, found an apartment, met a boy, lost a pants size (and then some) as I fell in love because of course I couldn't eat in front of him and he could only see me eat salads when I did eat.  Then, I had a baby.  The weight did not melt off as I breastfed and it certainly didn't help that Easter candy went on clearance shortly after little Jack was born.

Where I am now: I am overweight.  It needs to change.  I want to be around to torment and harass my children and grandchildren much the way my mother does for my siblings, my children and my nieces and nephews.  I want to run and play and teach my children to live a healthy lifestyle.  And, damnit, I want to be a vain 25 year old who looks good in her clothes and next fall, I want to be a beautiful bride in a pretty white dress and losing weight will only make that experience more enjoyable.  So, I'm changing how we eat.  Green veggies are served each night with dinner and EVERYONE has to (at a minimum) try them.  I'm getting rid of the junk because if it's not in the house, then we can't eat it.  We're working out-- I spent 45 minutes on the elliptical machine at the fitness center tonight and we went for a family walk on Monday night. Things have to change.  It's for the best for everyone.

No, I'm not going to post pictures at this time.  It's too scary.  I have to show myself I can do this before I shame myself into further progress.  It's a gross sweaty battle but I got myself in to this gross overweight hole and I'll get myself out one pound at a time.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Eating Habits of My Children

We'll start with Gabby because she's my biggest frustration when it comes to meal time.  She is 7 and she thinks that food comes in three food groups: sweets, mac & cheese and hot dogs.  Um, FALSE!  I have had an uphill battle to get her to try foods and find new things that she likes.  Part of the problem is that she was allowed to eat whatever she wanted before I came in to the picture.  That's not good.  Nana figures that if Gabby eats donuts and cookies, it's better than eating nothing.  Also, FALSE!  So, back to Gabby, she says she's a picky eater and can't eat this and can't eat that.  However, she'll eat hummus (which she calls peanut butter salsa stuff), salami and lasagna.  These are not picky eater foods.  The flavors and spices are entirely too powerful if you ask me.  But, we've been trying.  She has to eat a veggie with dinner and has to eat a fruit with her lunch and/or snack.  I know that's no where near the recommended daily serving of fruits and veggies but I'm trying.  I've gone as far as to hide vegetables (usually pureed) in her food-- ex. zucchini in brownies, cauliflower in mac and cheese.  I'm sneaky and it works.

The real reason I can't stand how Gabby eats?  It's because of how Jack eats.  He's a chowhound and will eat anything and everything (except white potatoes and bananas).  We took him out for his birthday and he ate crab legs for lunch.  He loves all fish: shrimp, crab, salmon, red snapper, cat fish.  He also loves veggies: beets and spinach in his applesauce, green beans, brown beans, black beans, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes. And, he likes fruits: apples, pears, mango, pineapple, blueberries.  It's amazing!

I thought for a while that if Gabby saw the praise that Jack was getting for eating so well that she'd want praise too.  I don't think she cares.  Our latest system is that Jack sits next to me at meals and eats off of my plate and Gabby has to have a smaller portion of what we're eating and then after she eats it, she can have PB&J, chicken nuggets, etc.  If anyone has any other suggestions, please send them my way.  Meal time is very frustrating at my house lately.

Pork chops and asparagus taken from his daddy's plate

Friday, March 22, 2013

Accidents Happen

This morning, I dropped off my children just as I do five days each week.  Then, I proceeded on my way to work, just as I do four days each week (I work from home once/week).  Half way to work, I was sitting at a red light, talking to my mom on my cell phone headset when all of a sudden I was jerked forward and heard a loud crash.  That's right ladies and gentlemen!  I was innocently sitting at a light, waiting for my turn to proceed and I had my very first accident.  Of course after I screamed, the phone fell from the passenger seat to the floor and I said (very loudly) "WHAT THE FUCK?!"  Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to pick up the phone, calmly tell my mom that I had to call the police and that I'd call her back.  Apparently, the woman behind me saw that the light was green and assumed that we should all just take off.  Not so.  So, we called the police, moved to the nearest parking lot and the local officer arrived.  Fifteen minutes (and minimal damage later), he sent us on our way each with a copy of the Illinois crash report and her with a ticket.  She was very nice and cooperative (as I would hope for during my very first accident).  I can guarantee that it would have been an uglier situation if either of my children have been in the car.  At 25, I'm too young for my first car accident-- at 1 and 7, they shouldn't even consider being in an accident.

The car looks fine but we'll see what the body shop says.  And, I'm feeling fine-- just shaken.  I took Ibuprofin and used the heating pad first thing this morning just in case.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Secret Clinical Strength Stress Response

As you know, I'm a brand ambassador for Influenster.  Recently, I received the Sweetheart Vox Box-- you can read about it here.  I loved it and 3/4 of the products.  That's not really a fair statement since the one product I didn't love wasn't intended for someone with naturally curly hair.  Back to Secret!

I love the Secret Clinical Strength Stress Response!  It smells great and I'm sure you're wondering how it works.  Well, I love it!  I couldn't be happier.  There are three causes of sweat: heat, movement and stress.  Nothing stops sweat and stink like this deodorant!  I received the Serene Citrus one and I smelled beautifully even after Zumba, Jack's 1st Birthday party AND all of the family that came to our house afterwards.  If all of those don't cause sweat and stress, I don't know what will.  And, those all happened within less than 9 hours.  Boom! I may have been stressed but I certainly didn't have to worry about how I smelled since this product is proven 4x more effective than ordinary antiperspirant.  You don't have to take my word on it though.  Last week, I participated in a Twitter party-- just search for #StressSweat and you'll see all the stress sweat moments that were busted.  You can also follow @SecretDeodorant for more information.

My only negative reaction is the price: $7.99-9.99 which is why I've only used a clinical strength deodorant once in the past.  I don't think you should have to pay so much for great products.  However, I will absolutely be paying for this product again in the future.  I love it and it kept me smelling fresh so I could worry about my footwork at Zumba and make sure everyone was enjoying themselves at Jack's birthday.

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influentster for testing purposes.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Our Teething Solution

My teething baby is making me crazy.  It's like he needs and exorcism or he's been abducted by aliens.  Jack is normally a very sweet, lovable baby who gives lots of hugs and kisses.  However, for the last week, we've been going through teething hell!  He's cranky, doesn't sleep, gnaws on his fingers non-stop and screams like a banshee! He refuses everything cold-- I've tried chilled teething toys, frozen pancakes, frozen fruit and nothing works.  While he'll take teething tablets, they make him constipated so there's that.  The only solution we've found is the bath tub! Jack loves baths.  See this face?

That was the first time he looked remotely happy on Sunday.  He screamed through Mass, fought his way out of his high chair at lunch and then whined and screamed all afternoon.  If I would have had any idea that he just needed a bath, I would have put him in there first thing in the morning.  Poor little baby has been working on these suckers for two weeks and he still only has 6 teeth (4 on top and two on the bottom).

Thankfully, today was a better day.  He was up and down at daycare today but tonight was good.  He ate 4 tablespoons of apples and spinach, Gerber veggie puffs and 1/3 of my tilapia filet.  I think he'll be alright.

The Influenster Sweetheart VoxBox 2013

I joined Influenster a couple of months ago after reading about it on someone else's blog.  To be honest and horrible, I don't remember whose it was.  I read on Influenster's Facebook page all the people bemoaning about how they never get boxes and everyone else gets picked.  Ironically, many of these posts were full of grammatical errors.  I know that I, for one, wouldn't want someone who can't spell to promote my brand.  Back on topic, I signed up, filled out some surveys, jumped through some hoops, linked up my social media accounts and BAM! I got an email telling me I was one of the chosen few.  Angels were singing and bells were ringing!  Mama likes free stuff.

I anxiously waited while scoping out their Facebook page only to see preview tease pictures of stacks of boxes knowing that one of those boxes was mine!  At last, the big day arrived (a Saturday) and the above box was found sticking out my mailbox.  I ripped that bad boy open!  Sorry, Influenster, no opening the box video for you-- the anticipation was too high.  And here are my thoughts on the contents:

Olay Fresh Effects Va-Va-Vivid: Love it!  I use this every day.  The little scrubber is noisy but I keep it in the shower and scrub my face until it is shine free.  I've noticed a definite difference: pores are smaller, shine is gone, and my face isn't dried out.  I love this product and will most likely buy it when I run out even though I think it was rather overpriced.  

Secret Clinical Strength Stress Response: Works great and keeps me smelling fresh.  Somehow, it also survives when I'm stressing during Jack's recent teething nightmare and while I'm sweating like a mad woman during Zumba.  Again, definitely a keeper if the price wasn't so high.  I hate paying so much money for good products but I guess you get what you pay for.

Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Sea Salt and Kelp Spray: Not a believer.  I have naturally curly hair and all this did was make the frizz worse.  I've tried it on both dry and wet hair.  On wet hair, it's a complete disaster!  I was a total frizz ball all day.  When I sprayed it on day 2 dry hair, it smelled pretty but did nothing but emphasize the frizz.  I sprayed it on Gabby's braided waves this morning so we'll see how that turns out but I don't think it's worth paying for just to smell like coconut.

Skinny Girl on the Go Bars: I got the blueberry/Greek yogurt bar in my box and it was delicious.  I loved it!  I kept it in my purse until I had a day where I really needed a snack and I enjoyed it in the middle of the afternoon.  It was great and kept me satisfied until dinner.

Overall, I love the Influenster method and will remain a member.  I will continue to fill out surveys and jump through hoops in the hope of more free products.  It's worth it and take very little of my time.

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for my review and received all products free of charge from Influenster.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Caribou Coffee's $2 Medium Drinks Today Only

Screen shot from my email
This morning, Caribou Coffee was hell bent on getting my attention.  Not only did I receive the above email from them, but I also received a text (right before I passed their store) giving me basically the same message as above: "Hey! We have a cheap new drink. Stop in and try it."  Ok, so their message didn't say exactly that but it was close!  I was already having a great morning so I figured this Mama deserved a little treat.  I rolled up to the drive up and when asked what I would like, I asked them to tell me about their $2 drink special.  I really don't know about the Biscotti Mocha but I was told that the Cafe Milan Latte had hazelnut, cinnamon and honey which sounded delicious and it was!  I'm so glad I stopped and got my medium $2 latte to make my morning even better.  And, bonus: I got their trivia question right and got $0.10 off my order.  No, it's not big, but it only served to make my Monday better.

Disclaimer: I paid for my product and was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Goals

March is a big month at our house.  A very special little boy is celebrating a particularly special birthday this month.  Be still this mama's heart.  Regardless, I have a lot to accomplish in very little time and need to stay focused and organized.  Here are my goals for this month:

1. Healthy mama: Go to the gym at least 3x/week (including Saturday morning Zumba)
2. Mentally sane mama: Blog 5x/week
3. Pull together a fabulous 1st birthday! I still have to confirm the cake with my mother in law, finalize decoration plans, purchase a couple more things for favor bags and do all the cooking of course
4. Read to Gabby's Class
5. Find out just how big my one year old is at his 1 year old check up
6. Celebrate Jack's 2nd Easter (possibly at my house?)

Wish me luck!  Hopefully I manage all of this and more!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Gone Girl

I decided last month that I'd link up with Bon for her monthly blogger book club.  Book numero uno?  None other than the infamous "Gone Girl."  The easy answer: I loved it.  It was a complete mind fuck.  

**** Disclaimer: If you haven't read this book, consider this your spoiler alert ****

My first impression left me intimidated.  The book was large and it began with big words.  However, she quickly simplified her writing and it ran much faster.  I started the book reading very slowly and feared that I wouldn't get through it before the month was up.  Little did I know that I'd end up hooked, breeze through it and only end up late because I forgot we were linking up on the last Wednesday of the month.  Dang it! 

To begin with, I was impressed with her writing style.  The excessive use of the word fuck didn't bother me since my personal feeling is that if you're going to use a four-lettered word, you should go all out and use the mother of all words.  Ironically, I didn't feel the same about the word cunt.  You and Gillian Flynn can psychoanalyze me.  

I hated every single one of her characters for as much as I loved the book.  Amy was pathetic and psychotic-- she was as twisted as any human being could be.  I never would have imagined the things she came up with.  Nick was pathetic.  How hard is it to pay attention to your wife-- right, honey?  Are you reading this?  Sorry... back on track.  Amy's parents were fickle and immature.  Amy impressed me by how nuts she was and Nick impressed me by his ability to figure all of this out and maybe that's why they were so obviously made for each other.  He did initially confuse the hell out of me.  I had no idea why there were hints that he lied 5 times in a short conversation with the police.  What did he lie about?  Not that I cared enough later to go back and read it to figure out what the lies were.  

Bottom line, I loved it, recommended it to my mom (and many others) and think you should join us for our book club!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ABC's of Me!

A. Age: 25

B. Bed size: King. I hate it-- it's too big.  I'd be happy with a queen.

C. Chore you dislike: Floors!  That's why my honey does those.

D. Dogs: No thanks.  Terrified.

E. Essential start to your day: Shower is an essential as is a vat of coffee
F. Favorite color: green

G. Gold or silver:  sliver

H. Height:  5’ 3”

I. Instruments you play(ed):  Fiddle. Don't know if I still could.

J. Job title: Accounts Receivable Specialist

K. Kids: TWO!

L. Live:  Chicagoland

M. Mom’s name:  Mom and Mommy

N. Nicknames:  Aunt Katie, Mama, Katie Bug

O. Overnight hospital stays:  Well, a C-section will do that to ya...

P. Pet peeves:  I don't like being hung up on, I hate when people drop their laundry right next to the laundry basket (hint hint, Felipe), and I really can't stand liars.

Q. Quote from a movie: 
"So it's not gonna be easy. It's gonna be really hard. We're gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, for ever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What's it look like? If it's with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that's what you really wanted. But don't you take the easy way out" {2 points if you know what movie}

R. Righty or lefty:  Lefty

S. Siblings:  One of each variety and both older

T. Time you wake up:  6 or later depending when Jack decides I should be up

U. Underwear:  Yes

V. Vegetables you don't like:  Brussel sprouts

W. What makes you run late: Children and my honey

X. X-rays you’ve had:  Dental

Y. Yummy food you make:  Everything!

Z. Zoo animal favorites:  The polar bear at Brookfield

Monday, February 25, 2013

Global Green USA Green School Makeover Competition Presented by Pureology


In case you don't actually know me, my kids are important to me.  Everything I do every day is about them (or Felipe, of course!).  I get up, get them ready, drop them in their respective places, go to work so that they can continue in the lifestyle they have become accustomed to, pick them up, feed them dinner and put them to bed.  After the little darlings are in bed, I clean their messes, pack lunches and mentally prepare myself to start all over again the next day.  And, I do this by choice.  I'm a mom-- that's how I roll.  The food they eat, the clothes on their backs, the places they go, these things matter to me.  Also important is where they spend their day.  I cannot afford to home school them in my 100% green home (until someone pays for that!) and so, I work all day in corporate America while my daughter goes to public school and my son goes to daycare.  

Lately, everyone is jumping on the green bandwagon and I sincerely hope that my daughter's school continues on that same road.  I have noticed that they have already made strides to teach my children environmental responsibility in the example they set.  There are recycling bins in every classroom, they make copies using both sides of the paper, and last year, they have been taken to a local farm to plant seeds and learn about how things grow.  

I want my children to see that sustainability is a way of life.  Seeing changes in the places they spend the most time is the best way to show them.  Pureology wants to help schools improve student performance, invest more money in their students and reduce carbon foot prints as part of their Green School Makeover Competition, with information found here.  What's not to love right?

Thank you, Influenster for introducing me to this opportunity!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Wonderful Weekend

As with most weekends, we were very busy.  I think a good time was had by all.  I even heard from Gabby on both Saturday and Sunday that this was "the best day ever!"  High praise from a seven year old.

Friday night wasn't overly eventful.  An appointment we had was cancelled  so we decided to go out to dinner at Smashburger. Quite honestly, I don't like their food.  I don't see the point of smashing a burger (or chicken!) and then piling it high with toppings.  By the time you're done, you can't even taste the meat.  What's the point?  Any way, the kids were great.  Jack got to eat a sweet potato fry or two (don't hate!) and Gabby ate everything in sight.

Saturday morning started as all of them do lately, up at the crack of dawn with Jack and then off to Zumba for an hour at 7:30.  Boy do I sweat but it feels so good!  Our teacher added 4 new dances this week and I was just getting used to the originals.  Then, we headed off to Ikea for amazing cheap breakfast-- a plate of eggs, potatoes and bacon with coffee for $0.99?  Yes, please!  We feed the whole family for less than $10.  Even Jack loves Ikea breakfast.  Before leaving, he had had pumpkin and apple puree and half of a graham cracker.  Then, when we got there, he ate scrambled eggs and almost 2 whole french toast sticks.  He is going to eat me out of house and home!  After breakfast, Felipe and Gabby head off to roller skating lessons.  Aunt Kelly bought her skates for Christmas and she really seems to enjoy them.  Jack and I took a glorious 2 hour nap.  After all the busy Saturday morning stuff, we took the kids sledding.  Yes, this was Jack's first time.  I think he kind of liked it.  Or, maybe, he just liked driving daddy's car later.  No need to call CPS, we were parked and the keys weren't even in the ignition.  Saturday night was quiet with a free Redbox rental and Little Ceasar's pizza.  As Gabby said, "best day ever!"

Sunday morning was rushed as we hurried to get everyone fed, dressed and off to Church.  Gabby goes to Religious Ed while we go to Mass in preparation for her First Communion in May.  She's getting so excited and I'm so proud of her for all the things she is learning.  After Mass, we rushed to do laundry and clean up the house because my in-laws were throwing a last minute birthday party for one of the kids.  So, the rest of Sunday was spent at their house until it was time to take the little ones home and get them to bed.

All in all, I love busy weekends but being able to curl up on the couch and read a book would be nice too!  I don't think it's in my future given that I have two active kids but a Mama can dream!  Today is back to the grind and the busyness that a week holds: daddy's fitness class, daddy/daughter date night, gymnastics, homework, and going to work for the grownups.  It's so hard to find time to enjoy the little moments that make my kids so happy but I think we need to spend more time enjoying them and the insanity that they bring because one day, they'll move out and our house will be quiet.  Then what?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review: Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler


This weekend I was reunited with an old friend-- Chelsea Handler.  And, by reunited, I mean I blew right through "Are you there, Vodka? It's me, Chelsea."  I love this book.  I read it over the course of the long 4 day weekend and once again loved every moment.  This is definitely not a book that goes immediately into the Goodwill pile.  I will save this for future savoring on it's place on my bookshelf.  

This is yet another book of Chelsea's telling stories of her adventures with friends, family (including Bitch Tits a.k.a. her father) and lovers.  Most stories involve copious amounts of alcohol and/or drugs (both legal and otherwise).  I laughed out loud many times while reading this.

This highlight of reading this book?  I accidentally left it on the coffee table and my father picked it up and read the first chapter.  While the first chapter is innocent enough (it's about a time in her childhood), it's a gateway into a world of insane antics and relationships-- not something my innocent father should be introduced to.  Needless to say, he did not continue past the first chapter.