Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Wander: GFC/Linky Followers

Since this is a long month, I'm starting the Wednesday Wander rotation over again a little bit early. Today we are linking up our blogs.  Please indicate in your description if you prefer to be followed by GFC, Linky Followers or both.  Don't forget to check out some of the other participants and spread the word so we all get lots of love.  Thanks!

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Win Some Cash!

I'm joining a host of other bloggers to offer you a great cash giveaway! Here are the details:

 Welcome to the Extreme Flash Giveaway! We will be giving away: (3) $60 Amazon gift certificates (1) $50 Live Nation gift code So be sure to bookmark this page and keep your fingers crossed when we announce the winners on March 3rd. It might just be you! Giveaway starts on Feb. 29th and ends on Mar. 2nd at 11:59 PM EST. Good luck!

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Of The Week: Fit Moms For Life (Giveaway!)

I've struggled with weight and body image my whole life.  I was a chubby kid, an anorexic teen, and now I'm battling the post-baby body.  I've just never found a diet and fitness routine that I could make into a lifestyle.  Even though I understand what I need to be doing intellectually, it's just never clicked emotionally and I've never been able to stick to a workout for more than a few days at a time.  Add in emotional eating and cravings and, well, I'm still chubby.

Then I was given the opportunity by Mom Blog Society  to review for you Fit Moms For Life by Dustin Maher.  I tell you what, I am a believer!  This book has the whole package.  It's not just a 'get fit quick' guide, it teaches you step by step how to change your lifestyle and stick with it!  Here's the official blurb:

"Fit Moms for Life: How to Have Endless Energy to Outplay your Kids ~ ( chronicles the successes of 31 mothers who used Dustin’s fitness and weight loss program with stellar successes. Armed with personal stories with before and after photos, Dustin takes the reader through the five pillars of fitness: Mindset, Nutrition, Strength Training, Burst Training, and Environment. Ultimately leading to the end goal: Staying Fit for Life.
Fit Moms for Life is perfect for Mothers (and women in general) who want a fitness program that works. Dustin Maher says:
• Traditional Cardio Doesn’t Lose Fat
• You Can’t Work Out to Compensate for Poor Eating
• See Results 9 Times Faster With Burst Training
• Learn ONE Exercise That Shrinks a Waistline WITHOUT diet changes
• Burn Fat While You Sleep
• A Healthy Environment Equals A More Fit Family"

 Did you catch that?  It doesn't start with diet, it doesn't start with working out - it starts with mindset!  The very place I've been struggling the most!  Before you even start the program, Dustin has you sit down with a blank piece of paper, a journal (handy for later chronicling eating and workouts) or even the space provided in the back to map out your fitness goals in the short term as well as how you want to feel in 10 years.  Now that's thinking ahead!  He also deals with the inevitability of plateaus on the scale and frustration with progress by having you take and record (in handy charts provided in the back) a number of benchmark measurements to which you can refer throughout the process.  That way, even if you aren't losing weight, you can see progress in the measurement of your waist or in the length of time you can hold a plank position, etc.  This is huge for someone like me who used to obsess about weight and weight alone.

Once you've got the mindset mastered, he moves on to how to eat a clean diet that won't leave room for cravings (complete with menu suggestions), how to build your body with strength training (exercises provided), how to do the most effective cardio for burning fat, and how to surround yourself with a supportive community while you're making your changes.  He even includes a section for pregnant women and some FAQs.  Most inspiring of all are the personal tales of his clients, complete with amazing before and after photos.

You might be wondering what qualifies a man to teach women how to be fit?  Here are his credentials:

"Dustin’s inspiration to help moms comes from his nurturing upbringing and continued close relationship with his own mom. Dustin has helped thousands of women get in amazing shape all over the US and the world. He has been on TV close to 100 times and has been in many magazines, newspapers, radio shows, has over 250 YouTube videos, and over 450 articles and videos on his website. His website Alexa ranking around 300K and he has an email list of 7000K. Dustin is also hosting his own Fit Moms for Life talk radio show at To learn more, please checkout Dustin’s website at www.DustinMaherFit"

Would you like to win your own copy of Fit Moms For Life and join me in my new journey to getting in the best shape of my life?  Follow the easy Rafflecopter below and you just might get lucky!!  If you win (or just decide to try his program), please be sure to check back and let us know how it's working for you.  You can be sure you'll see updates from me as I give this program a try (just as soon as I kick this nasty cold). 

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I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Mom Blog Society. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Stuff I Love:

Afternoons in our household can seem to drag on forever.  Something about those couple of hours between naptime and dinner are really hard on everyone in our household.  We have snacks, we read books, sometimes they watch a little tv - if it's nice, we try to run outside - but when it's cold or dreary outside, we can get a little bored.  For that reason, I try to have some kind of craft we can do if we're really starting to go nuts at any point.  Often, it's as simple as sticking stickers to blank paper, or scribbling with giant crayons in coloring books.  The boys are still young and they are still working on skills like coloring in the lines and cutting with scissors, but they can make some basic crafts and love getting messy.

However, when it comes to dreaming up crafts, I am no good.  I've checked out almost every craft book from the library, I've spent hours on Google and Pinterest, I've read countless blogs, but I still come up short most weeks.  A lot of the activities I find are either not age appropriate, or require supplies that we just don't keep in our house.

Enter  - this amazing website allows you to subscribe to have a box of craft supplies (complete with theme, instructions and all needed materials) delivered to your door every single month! A box for one child costs about $20 and for a small fee you can choose a 'sibling add on' to have extra supplies included for another child (or two).  It seems like a steep price until you look inside the box.  Not only are the craft supplies really high quality (they sent us two pairs of brand-name, very-nice scissors in our first kit), but there are enough activities to last for several days.  Plus, you'll be enrolled in their newsletter which will link you to even more activities that compliment that month's theme.

Here's a look at our first craft box.  This month's theme was: Pirates.  We spread out the crafts from our box over two afternoons, but we could have taken longer if we'd wanted.

Here's what I saw when I opened the box

The supplies for one complete kit

 Coloring the treasure chests
Excuse the sideways pic...
Making pirate hats
Pirate ship (notice figurehead on right...)
Coloring the pirate bandannas
Barely got them to hold still to show the whole getup
Mom, are we done taking pictures yet?
Making pirate parrots
Kit made: 2 chests, 2 parrots, 2 bandannas, 2 hats, 2 eye patches and 2 treasure maps
Searching for 'buried' treasure
Found it!
Mmmmmm, chocolate!

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Doing The Best You Can

For years I've been hearing people tell moms "just do the best you can, and that's good enough." It sounds great at first, but allow me to argue.  In my humble opinion, I truly believe that sometimes "doing the best you can" isn't the best option.  Sometimes, we as moms need to do the best we want to do.   Allow me to explain.

I don't always do the best I could do every day.  If I did the best I could, I would spend more time with God.  If I did the best I could, my house would be tidy and disinfected from top to bottom.  If I did the best I could, my kids would be much better behaved.  If I did the best I could, there would be more money in my bank account.  If I did the best I could, I'd be thinner and more fit.  I  could rise at dawn to read my Bible and pray.  I could spend the 2 hours the kids are having 'quiet time' scrubbing counters, folding laundry, vacuuming floors, sweating on the elliptical and doing sit-ups.  I could fix all the meals from scratch every day of the week.  I could cancel all my discount-site memberships, stop paying for blog sponsorships, close my etsy shop, coupon more extensively and comparison shop more exhaustively.  I could do all these things - and that would be the very best I could do. 

But I don't.  And I don't want to.  I spent three years doing the very best I could - doing all the things I knew I was supposed to do to be the best wife and mother and housekeeper I could be.  I spent all my waking moments changing diapers, feeding babies, playing with toddlers, fixing suppers, scrubbing, folding, tidying, listening, disciplining and waking up in the middle of the night.  And at the end of those three years, I stopped for a moment to breathe and realized that doing the best I could had left me exhausted, drained and depressed.   I cried all the time.  I secretly fantasized about running away to the Carribean.  I was very unhappy and my family could sense it.  I felt like I didn't know who I was anymore - I'd lost my identity somewhere amongst the piles of laundry and stacks of diapers.  All I wanted was a little time to myself to explore who I was on the inside - to chase after a few of my own dreams.  And I resolved that I would no longer do the very best I could do.  I would do only the best that I wanted to do.

So I instituted quiet time (before, I was with big brother all afternoon) to teach the kids a little independence and to give myself a break.  Sometimes I'm very productive with quiet time - I clean, I exercise, I nap - but a lot of the time I'm not.  Most days I blog, check email, read a book, make jewelry or lose the time doing goodness-knows-what.  Sometimes the laundry piles up, or the sink fills with dishes, or the kids stay up past bedtime so we can goof off and watch silly videos on youtube, or I can take a hot bath, go to a class or work on a play.  Sometimes, like yesterday, I'm feeling ill and all that gets done is changing diapers and feeding kiddos.  And some days I spend money just because I want to and it feels good to buy something new.  But you know what?  I'm happy!  I find joy in spending time with my kids instead of wanting to escape.  I look forward to waking up in the morning and having a whole new day ahead of me.  I'm finally starting to feel comfortable in my own skin.

Before you despair completely about the state of my home/family now, I should mention that, quite often, the best I want to do is also the best I can do.  In general, I like living in a neat, clean house.  I'm a little obsessive about keeping to-do lists and weekly menus and a coupon binder and reorganizing every shelf and room in the house.  In general, I do a load of laundry every day, wash the counters and put away dishes after every meal, and keep the bathrooms relatively clean.  The kids are usually all in bed by 8, they are usually fed wholesome meals, and I usually don't allow them to swing from the chandeliers or draw all over the walls.  We're slowly settling into a very nice routine which lets me 'get stuff done' and spend quality time with the kids all in the same day. 

However, I've learned that it's ok (in fact, I'll argue, necessary) to slack off now and then.  I don't have to be the very best I can be every single day.  My life and my diet are very similar, really.  If I fill my belly with nothing but wholesome foods all the time, eventually I'll succumb to my cravings and pig out on hamburgers and milkshakes.  But if I pig out all the time on junk food, eventually I'll find myself craving a nice big salad-bar.  So it is with life.  If I do the very best I can every single day, eventually I'll wear myself ragged, become angry and depressed, and have to take a break or risk a breakdown.  But if I slack off for too long and really let things go, I'll always catch up again with a big cleaning day, some extra snuggle time or an especially frugal week. 

It's all about balance.  Knowing how to take care of yourself in order to take care of everyone and everything else.  It's a realization I'm making very slowly, but I cannot tell you what a relief it is.  I don't have to be Supermom.  I don't even have to be the very best I can be.  All I have to do is to seek balance in my life and that will make it the best life I can have. 

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday Wander: Bloglovin

It's Wednesday! And that means it's time for our Wednesday Wander linkup! This week we're showing off our bloglovin' links. Feel free to add yours below, and please check out a few of the others - everyone can use a little love! The more you share this linkup, the more new friends you'll find. Thanks all!

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Author Of The Week: Dan Andreasen

Our kids are notorious for having "bedtime favorites" among their books.  For a period of weeks (or even months), they'll request the same couple of stories over and over and over.  Dan Andreasen's books have made the hot list several times now - right up there with the Berenstain Bears.

The obsession started when we checked out A Special Day For Mommy from the local library.  It's adorable, chubby illustrations and simple, easily quotable text really appealed to the boys.  They loved the depiction of the little girl planning something very special for her Mommy.  The boys even tried to replicate some of the ideas for their own Mommy - precious!  So that no parent would feel left out, I also ordered With A Little Help From Daddy, which the kids equally adore.

We later added Treasure Bath to our collection.  This book is particularly fun because it is full of the characteristically engaging illustrations, but has no text. Our narrating of the tale grows longer or shorter depending on how much time we have at bedtime, and the boys like to make up their own versions of the story as well.  We all enjoy the chance to exercise our imaginations together.

If you're looking for some new, kid-friendly books to read while snuggling with your kids, definitely check out this author.  His take on children and their relationships with parents is uncanny and endearing, and all of his illustrations are beautiful and fun. 

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