Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Technology Challenges for Parents

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today I wanted to share a picture that has brought up a challenge in my house.  And here it is.

Both of my kids are hooked on technology!  So much so that one takes over my laptop to play games on the PBS Kids website, and the other wants to play games on my iPod touch.  And then if they aren't taking over that they are hogging the tv to play their LeapFrog Click Start. 

I have to admit sometimes mommy wants her grown up toys (laptop and iPod) back!  I have to say that I am thrilled that my kids want to play and I think there is a benefit to letting them play.  Especially the games on the PBS Kids website which provide great learning opportunities.  And I can't tell you how many free educational apps I've found in the Apple Store. 

But the challenge my husband and I are facing is what is too much time on these gadgets?  I'm trying to balance them getting playtime in other areas, but still letting them reap the benefits of playing educational games.  I don't want them to get into the habit of being on gadgets for hours a day.  I haven't come up with a set amount of time they are allowed because I'm trying to take each day and see how we are doing.  We have had such a mild winter they have been able to get outside a lot which has been helpful, and when the weather gets warmer they will be outside even more playing with the water table which they both love.  But for now, these games have been a great way to help pass away some of the yucky winter days.

I also have to admit that the apps I've found for the iPod have been so useful in getting us through appointments.  We had a dentist appointment Monday and it was the first time my youngest son, Logan, had been. It was great to have the iPod to help him wait and to distract him during his exam.  He did great!

As I've been pondering this technology challenge, I realized my parents had a little taste of this technology challenge when I was growing up.  My generation was one of the first with video games coming into homes on a large scale.  Nintendo was so big when I was growing up. But now with so many gadgets available to kids, I am dealing with the technology balance on a greater scale.  So as a parent of a child growing up now, I am a trail blazer on teaching my kids how to balance technology in their life and to show them that while these things are great, you have to actually be out there living your life.  Just as it would be with other areas of their life, finding balance will be the key. 

Are you facing this challenge of balancing technology with your kids?  Do you set limits on their access to gadgets?  What are your concerns with all of these things readily available at a kids finger tips?

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Trader Joe's oh how I love thee

Over the last few weeks I've had a chance to shop at Trader Joe's grocery store.  The closest store to me is about an hour away, so it isn't right around the corner.  But, I've had the chance to shop their about three different times in the last few weeks and I have to say I wish it was closer.

The very first time I went into Trader Joe's about a year ago, I didn't see what all the fuss was about.  I found the store a bit difficult to shop and it didn't help that I was there at a peak time so the place was packed.  But since then I've given it a try and I've had the fortune of shopping at less busy times which has helped.  I've found some great products that I like.

One of the first has been Trader Joe's low calorie lemonade in regular and pink. It comes in a 64 oz. bottle.  It is sweetened with stevia.  I tried stevia in my tea as a sweetener and I didn't care for it, but in this lemonade it is different.  Now I will say if you are used to Chick Fil A lemonade this is not going to be like it at all. But I've wanted to cut down on sugar, so having the stevia as a sweetener was what got my attention. Also, an 8 oz. glass has 40 calories in it which is lower than sodas.  So it has been a great substitute for me.

I've also discovered some of Trader Joe's frozen products.  Two things we've tried recently that we liked are the TJ polenta with spinach and carrots and the TJ risotto with asparagus.  They were both delicious and a great change of pace. I like it that it is a different way to get vegetables in our diet.

Another thing I've found at TJ that I like are their spices.  Their spices have been very reasonably priced.  I purchased a 1.7 oz. bottle of cumin for $1.99 which was cheaper than Wal Mart.  They also had a very intriguing bottle that I bought because I thought dh would like it.  The bottle is sugar, chocolate, coffee bean with a built in grinder.  To me I thought this would be great for putting in a jazzed up french toast, or a dessert.  That comes in a 2.47 oz. bottle and was also $1.99.

So are you a Trader Joe's shopper? If so, what have you found that you like to get? 

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Snow Pictures 2012


Well yesterday I took the day off because we finally got a snow day here in Virginia!  Snow moved into our area later in the day on Sunday and it continued snowing until the wee hours of Monday morning.  So Sunday night and yesterday morning we had the kids out in the snow.  Here are some pictures of our fun in the winter wonderland.  Which by the way, has already started melting away.

These first few pictures were taken around 8 Sunday night.  We let the kids go out while it was still snowing since that was going to be the best time to play in the snow. Those white specks in the picture are the snowflakes that were coming down fast.  The warmer temps rolled in by mid morning yesterday, so the snow has already started to melt away and we can see patches of grass.

This is Sawyer making his snow man.  He was so cute and so proud of his snowman.

We made two snowmen with our kits from Target we got there back in December.  I thought we would never get to use them this year.

I took a picture of these big birds that went to the tops of these high trees.  As you can see, they were sunning themselves trying to keep warm. 

So have you been getting any winter weather in your area?  Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sales papers at your fingertips

This has been a super busy week for me.  Every week is busy when you have kids, but this one has been especially jammed packed. But today I wanted to share a new discovery that has been a great one for me.

A few days ago dh and I were talking about upcoming sales because we've been in the market to get a new tv.  He was floored that there were no good sales during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.  There was even a news story on NBC about how the stores weren't running good tv sales this year.  They said most of the sales would probably occur now because they will be wanting tt get rid of the old models to make way for the new ones coming in. 

So dh made the comment the other night, "Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to get all of your sales ads all together?"  And I said, "There's an App for that".  And sure enough when I went to the Apple store there were at least two apps available. I picked one that was free and I've been using it on and off for the last few days. 

I really like the app so far and I would recommend downloading it. I just looked at it and it says the name is Weekly Ads & Sales. When I open the app it immediately starts pulling up ads for stores around me.  It has a search feature so if there is a store nearby that isn't coming up you can do a search for it and it will bring up the ad. It also appears that sometimes a store can have multiple ads up. An example of this was they had ads for Macy's that were from different weeks. 

Another interesting thing the app will let you do is share it on Facebook. I gave it a try this morning and it worked.  If you see a great sale and want to share it with a friend, I can see this being a very useful feature.

I think the app is a handy and convenient way to check on sales and it is very user friendly.  So if you are wanting to comparison shop and if you have a smart phone or ipod touch, I'd recommend downloading this one and giving it a try.

So, are you planning on shopping any President's Day sales? What are you shopping for these days?

We are off to see the circus, so I will hopefully have some good pictures to blog about our experience.

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Things I love on Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Today I thought I'd share things I love right now.  Of course the obvious are my family, but here are some other things I'm loving as well.

 A few months ago Target sent me a cute little makeup bag full of different products. My favorite product was this Neutrogena naturals lip balm.  They sell it at Target, but you have to gone on the aisle where they have the Neutrogena face lotions and stuff like that.  They don't sell these with the lip balms.  I will warn you this stuff will run you about $2.99 a tube, but it is so worth it. I have had cracked and bleeding lips in recent weeks from having to be on sinus medicine.  I used this tube and my lips were better in no more than 24 hours.  This stuff works great and you don't have to use a ton of it.  My son has severe chapped lips and I'm going to start using this on him too.  This has Vitamin E in it which my pediatrician told me is good for people with dry skin.  My son has eczema and we have found Vitamin E oil to rub on that and it has helped that as well. I should have posted that as well.  Consider this a two for one post. LOL

 These are my Valentine's Decorations in the bay window of my kitchen. The pretty, large felt hearts I got at Dollar Tree, as well as the hearts that are streamers that hang down.  The little hearts you see clipped to my curtains are a craft project I made a few years ago.  You can read about it here

 I know this picture of Logan is from Christmas, but I wanted to tell about how much we love Lowe's  and their Build and Grow workshops.  I put this picture up because the boys made trains at Christmas.  This by far has been Logan's favorite project.  If you don't have a Lowe's near you, I recommend going on their website and ordering their Build and Grow kits. They have a lot of different ones and they are great to put together.  We love our local Lowe's and "Mr. Ed", the kind gentleman who always puts together the craft of the week so there is an example for us to see.

I got a gift card for Christmas to Bath and Body works and yesterday I was excited to find out that they have their aromatherapy products buy two get one free.  With all the dry air due to the heat running, my skin has been so dry.  So I can't wait to start using their lavender vanilla sugar scrub in the shower.  I got two of those along with some of the lotion.  Now is a great time to stock up, especially if you have a $10 off a $30 purchase.  I was able to use that to get all three things for just a little under $25.

I've blogged about it before, but I have to say again how much I love Pinterest.  And thanks to the Creative Mama Blog for pinning that cute little sign on Pinterest.  If you are on Pinterest, be sure to follow me.  I've got a link button on the top right here on the blog.

So these are some things I love this Valentine's Day.  How about you, what are you loving right now? 

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Trench Trend

I have to admit that I love the segments on morning shows and talk shows where they show you fashion trends and how to incorporate them into your wardrobe.

One of my favorite trends has been the trench coat.  At first I didn't pay much attention to them because I'm 5' 1" and well for us short girls a long coat doesn't always work.  But then I started seeing them in different lengths, cuts, and colors.   

My birthday is at the end of November and I received a gift card to Charming Charlies.  During my shopping trip there, I found a black trench that hits between my hip and knee.  I have found this a great length for me.  The coat has a suede look to it which I wasn't sure if I would like, but it really looks good and goes with so many different outfits. 

Today I wanted to share a cute trench I saw when I was at a mall on Monday. They had it in the window for New York and Co and it really popped.  The pink is actually a bit brighter than it shows up in this picture. I have to say I love this feminine girly look.  I've always been a girly girl, but I think now especially that I have boys I love finding things for my wardrobe that are pretty. 

Last week a new blog I discovered, College Prep discussed her thoughts on trench coats.  I left her a message on her blog about this pink coat. Because if you visit her blog you'll see she loves everything pink and green and cute and preppy. 

So what are your thoughts on the trench coat? Do you have one? Do you love or hate this trend? Hey, I realize it isn't for everyone.

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

For the last two weeks I've been fighting with sinus problems and over the weekend was sick.  I'm hanging on, but wish this mess would clear up in my head.  Mom's don't have time for sick days, so it has put a damper on what I've been able to do including blogging.

But a few nights I've been able to jump on Pinterest and I've found some wonderful new recipes and one of them I wanted to share and review for you today.  I don't have pictures, but let me tell you that this one fabulous recipe.

I like Mexican food, but because of acid reflux and what not, I am a light weight. I'm the girl buying the mild salsa in the store. I can't take spicy foods.  So I was delighted to find this recipe and give it a try.  I was especially excited when I saw this could be done in the crock pot. 

This recipe is from the Mommy? I'm Hungry! blog.  She has some great pictures on her website on the finished product.  I will say that I did not have a chance to drain my chicken out of the crock pot, so my tortillas were soggy. I do recommend doing this step.  They were still delicious.  I love how all the flavors melded together.  And I cooked mine a full 8 hours and they were perfect.  I am going to use this recipe the next time we have a party.  I think it would be so fun to have a tortilla bar set up. 

If you are having a busy day and need a great recipe that is tasty and easy, this is your ticket.  Thanks so much to Rachelle of the Mommy? I'm Hungry! for pinning this great recipe on Pinterest. 

Crock-pot Chicken Tacos {Gluten Free}
adapted from Disney and found on the Mommy? I'm Hungry blog

2 small cans green chiles, diced
1 jar salsa, (about 12 ounces; mild or spicy to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 whole onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper, to taste

Place chicken in the bowl of a slow cooker, season with a little salt and pepper. Top with salsa, diced green chiles, cumin, onion and garlic. Cover and set on low. Cook for 6-8 hours. Remove chicken from pot, shred, then add some of the juices with chilies. Spoon chicken into corn taco shells or flour tortillas with whatever toppings your family likes. Or use the meat to make burritos, tostadas or as a filling for enchiladas.
Have you found any great finds on Pinterest?   What boards do you like to look at on the site?

Hope you are having a great day in your neck of the woods!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hello Kitty Birthday Party

A few weeks ago my oldest sweet little niece turned 3.  And I was so excited to hear that my sister was doing a Hello Kitty birthday party.  When my sister and I were little we loved Hello Kitty. So it was nice to hear that my niece is getting into Hello Kitty too.

I wanted to share some pictures of the decorations my sister pulled together for the party.  Many of the decorations such as the giant pom poms, tags for the goody bags, and the polka dotted balloons came from Polka Dot Market. I was excited to learn about this website from her because they have some great decorations and with a flat $5 shipping rate, that makes it more affordable to place a big order with them. 

 The polka dotted balloons and pom poms all came from Polka Dot Market.  I love that polka dot look.
 This is a cute kid's lemonade stand my sister bought and used as a cupcake stand.
 Everyone got a Hello Kitty cookie to take home. And these were delish!  She ordered them from a local place.
 This is the candy bar she had set up for the kids.  The red bags sitting flat on the buffet had personalized from Polka Dot Market.  She created the red buckets by punching out polka dots circles from vinyl.

And here is the sweet birthday girl with her momma stealing a kiss.

If you love the party decorations you've seen in this post then be sure to check out my sister's Etsy shop.  She makes hair bows, tutus, and other wonderful creations.  Harper's Hat Box