Sharing Food Drives

At EJ's school there are no boxes for kids to stuff Valentine's cards in, they don't have a party, and we aren't asked to bring sweet treats either. Instead each February morning, the kids gather at morning circle and one-by-one add their donations of food to the collection. They show their love by helping others and, best of all, encourage each other to do so as one big team. Awesome right?

Jack's school chose to celebrate our team being in the Superbowl with a little friendly competition called The Souper-bowl. Kids bring in cans of soup and place them in the barrel of the team they think will win the big game. Then after the "votes" are tallied, all the soup will be donated to a local community food pantry.

Personally I think my kids' schools are really doing it right! So after school this week, we went to the store and picked out their food. Jack picked out all his own soup flavors and I'd give EJ a category/section (like baby cereal or beans) and then let her pick which kind to get. The kids helped me set them up on their table and are both going to pick which item to take each day. It was a fun project...low cost but big benefits all around!

On a Deadline...

I have two major crafting projects to get done. My last one of these by Friday night and a major project for my living room (that I was supposed to have finished by January 1st, so I need to get moving). But both of these projects are embroidery and, I'm going to be perfectly honest with you here, I need a break from the needle for a bit. These are both pretty simple projects and yet I'm avoiding them like crazy. Pathetic...

In the meantime, I've been keeping myself busy (and very happy) playing with the kids, learning yoga, exercising almost every day, and reading book after book. I'm also dying to finally start working on my blanket for the living room (I'm missing crochet darn it)!

So, for the next few days, I will not pick up a book (because reading until midnight will not help get projects done) and I will not dream up any new projects. Time to buckle down, so I can move on!

However, I will be trying out that new yoga mat today (thank you Leslie!)

One of the many reasons I love my husband...

I see an extra postcard. He sees an opportunity to make magic for our children!

Ten on Tuesday: Beauty Products

Okay, I'm using the term "beauty products" very loosely here as I am one of your lower-maintenance type girls, but it seemed like the best "all-encompassing" title. Perhaps, I should have gone with Winter Survival Products though as almost all of them combat Winter dryness or general Winter blahs! In short, these are things I can't live without this time of year...

1) Sensodyne - 3 times a day without fail allows me to drink Diet Coke & eat ice cream (which we all know that is vital to my well-being!) and forget about the gum-damage I caused with overzealous brushing in my younger years.

2) Natural Instincts Spiced Tea - The way I see it, if you're as pale as I am, you deserve to be a red head. Didn't quite work out that way though, so I help things along! This temporary dye means I have limited root-showage & I don't have to pay for 3-5 bowls of color at the salon!

3) Lever 2000 - You wouldn't think bar soap would be a big issue, but I sneeze from a lot of scents & I need something that both Matt & I can use. This fits the bill and also doesn't dry your skin.

4) Degree Ultra Clear - no white streaks, not much it!

5) Bath & Body Works Moisturizing Hand Soap - We use this in the kitchen & baths. It's antibacterial and doesn't dry out my hands as much as other options. However, if anyone has the perfect hand soap that will protect my hands from cracking all Winter long, I would really appreciate a recommendation!

6) AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream - Because my hands still crack & dry out using #5, I've been getting a lot of use of this hand lotion. It isn't heavy and really helps my hands tons!

7) Aveda Outer Relief Pads - At my last facial, I was told that I don't really break-out (not sure I buy that) but that my pores get clogged & cause issues that way. Her suggestion was to use these pads each evening before bed & I've honestly seen a huge improvement! The woman who rang me up was even more helpful though as she suggested I cut them into quarters to make them last longer. I felt like an idiot cutting them, but one small $35 jar has lasted me over a year!

8) Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure - I saw this recommended on a trusted blog and thought I'd give it a shot instead of my usual OPI. Oh my word, I love it! It is seriously all you base coat, nothing on top to protect it, one coat only...and it stays on perfectly.

9) St. Ives Restoring 24 Lotion - During the cold months, I use this after every shower. In the summer, once a week. Absolutely no problems with dry skin (unless I run out)!

10) Chapstick - I use my fav Labello during the day, but right before bed (during Winter), I use this to keep my lips un-cracked (not a word, but you get the point). Jack & EJ both keep a tube bedside too actually.

{all photos courtesy of their respective sites}

Weekend in iphone snapshots

A quick peek at some of our weekend fun...

Lowe's workshop (EJ's first time!)

Gator Golf with Nick

The Puzzle Queen (someone has a new hobby)

Cousins (like-twins) in a rare moment of peace


Livie matched her sister's posture (they were originally sitting side-by-side)



Breakfast of Champions...thank you Al!

The games continue...

Ready for the game

The "young adult" section of our local library - yes, those are Cliff Notes interfiled with their respective books. Turns out I should have checked out this section instead of taking this poll!

In addition, we had haircuts and Jenga, laundry and basketball, cousin sleepovers and a skype call to Grandma (our first), Dad yelling at the tv and breakfast for dinner. was a great weekend!

Yoga "Stuff"

{images courtesy of here and here}

So I recently started doing a little yoga and I've already gotten so good that I am rocking the poses above...NOT! But I am loving it! I've done a couple beginner dvds, a Bob Harper yoga/pilates hybrid workout, and of course family yoga with the kids (lots of animal poses). I'm really liking it and can see (and feel) the benefits already.

However, because I was just testing it out, I have none of the "stuff" I need to really give it a go. Starting with a mat...right now I'm doing it on a soft mat for floor exercises (like a smooshy mat you use for sit-ups) & that's not quite working out when I try balance poses (in fact I think it has a negative effect). I went to Target to check things out and just the choices of mats overwhelmed me!

So, I'd love to ask for some assistance. Keeping in mind that I'm just starting out, will only be doing this in my house, and am cheap...what things do you recommend that I purchase?

Vacation Wrap-up in Tweet Format

I liked writing about our vacation in tweet format last year, so thought I'd give it a whirl again!
(It's funny as I had written these down on our trip, but now rereading last year's post, I realize we are very much the same little band of travelers)

-My kids have once again proven themselves amazing travelers (especially Liv whose carseat we accidently left in the car)!

-Wisconsinities keep very similar schedules...from the airport to breakfast to early-bird dinner reservation times, we see the same five groups of people we met on the flight down over and over again.

-Liv has a serious case of "big-girl-itis" (diagnosed by her Dad)

-I didn't know it was possible for one boy to drink so much OJ

{the family drink line-up: Colorado Bulldog (Matt), margarita (me), orange juice (Jack), Guacamaya (EJ), pineapple juice (Olivia)}

-Liv is the "EJ" of Mexico - attention from everyone we meet at the resort!

-I think Livie could have stared at this tree for days.

-Having a lot of matching clothes for the girls was awesome. We got a lot less stares & questions when they were dressed alike.

-Liv pretending she is asleep during dinner. The pic doesn't show half of the mess/wreck we left the table.

{We ate at the same restaurant two nights later and surprisingly (not!) our table was not in front of the glass wall, but next to the kitchen!}

-Liv is beyond fancy...spends her days in a sunhat carrying her purse full of books (or in this case? a baseball).

-In fact she won't go anywhere without her purse or her cat. How is this my kid?

-My Guatacutie's favorite drink is the Guacamaya!

-My kids could play for days in the water

-EJ now wants swimming lessons

-related: EJ ducked underwater (booty to the bottom of the the deep pool not the one pictured below) about 50 times in 30 minutes.

-"The frog slide is the funnest thing. I could go a million times." - EJ

-Liv loves ice cream cones...and I mean just the cone! She actually squeals with delight when given one.

-It takes EJ some time to come down from cotton candy at 8pm.

-Pinatas ROCK!

-This much sand takes some time to scrub off!

-Liv actually ordered milk for "Meow" and then fed him parts of her dinner.

-Switching from Diet Coke all day to tropical drinks creates quite a belly...and fast!

-We saw some bravery today from unusual suspects. I think their big siblings may have had something to do with it!

-"There's my friend!" "I can't stop waving at them." "Hi guys!" - EJ greeting her friends from the plane (she was a big hit with the WI folks)

-This room is spoiling us - it has stairs (2 stories within our room) & one more bathroom than our house (3 full baths). Plus, king beds.

-Margaritas the size of my head are a special kind of awesome!

-EJ is 4 in Mexico. She'll be 3 when we get back. She wants to know if this happens to all kids when they visit.

-related: After all our plotting, EJ only went to the kids club (ages 4 and up) for one have her face painted.

-"That's not lipstick, it's face paint!" -EJ

-Matt tells the best bedtime stories...well, at least in 3 kids' eyes.

-Surprise fireworks are worth waking kids up for!

-My kids are each others biggest cheerleaders.

-It's fun to share toys with new friends.

-I take a lot of photos of my kids' backs in swimsuits.

-online one day, offline 2 days (repeat) = perfect schedule for me

-Matt should have stayed unplugged :-(

-"Olivia is a polar bear!" -Jack

-We saw baby turtles. Cool right?

-Housekeepers who change their schedule to work around our naptime are priceless!

-Because naptime is precious after a morning in the sun!

-Tag Readers are amazing little toys...great on planes and awesome for down time before dinner too.

-The kids went 8 days with no PB&J. I'm seriously not sure how they survived.

-She's a safety girl! (she actually insisted on wearing this combo)

-Bag searches by hand and full patdowns were done before we boarded our plane home. As we enter the jetway, EJ yells "Hey! Why don't I get searched?"

-But her best line was as we stood in a super quiet Customs line..."I farted!" Very thankful that we already "knew" most of the people in the line. And honestly, I think she provided some much needed humor for a tired group.

-Hanging out with my family is my favorite thing in the world...even when we're just doing nothing!