Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Skinny Nut. **Giveaway!**

Back in October, the folks at Everybody's Nuts sent me a sampler of their Pistachios. I am a big fan of pistachios and an even bigger fan of freebies, so I accepted their sampler box and expected to be no more or less impressed with Pistachios than I was before I tried them. Though, I was grateful nonetheless for the chance to give new flavors a try.

But, just like there is a big difference in gas station coffee and a Grande cup of Starbuck's Daily Blend, there is a huge difference in quality flavored Pistachios and the sticky red kind you find in the aisle of your local convenience store. I was immediately a fan and started buying their nuts from that point on. (Once you've had their Salt & Vinegar Pistachios you'll never go back to the gas station variety!)

So, when I got another chance to try Everybody's Nuts and Wonderful Pistachios samples I jumped at the chance to do so and turn it into a giveaway for my readers as well.

Here's what you may not know about Pistachios. These little nuts pack quite the nutritional punch. Among snack nuts, they have the highest content of phytosterols. I know, I know. Phyto-what? Basically, they have a lot of this really good stuff that has been shown to reduce cholesterol absorption and basically make them super heart healthy. Guess they aren't called the "skinny nut" for nothing.

Geez, what I wouldn't give to have that nickname.

Anyways, here's where the giveaways come in. Because they know that once you try these nuts you'll be so convinced that a snack can be healthy and delicious, they are offering to send 10 of you a sampler of Everybody's Nuts and Wonderful Pistachios.

And here's what you have to do to enter. Head over to the Pistachio Health site and check out the facts, then come back leave a comment with one interesting Pistachio fact you learned while you were over there. I'll be shutting down comments at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 1st and drawing 10 lucky winners.

**This giveaway is open to all U.S. addresses (sorry, no international folks this time.) Be sure to leave an email address or blog link in your comment so I can get in touch with you and get an address to have your sampler sent out ASAP!**

Head back to Bloggy Giveaways to register for more cool giveaways!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday - Kid's Coat Solution

We have a secret coat closet at our house. We hide it right by the front door. Apparently it is only visible to the adult eye because it goes largely ignored by the kids in our house.

In the winter, my constant refrain has been, "Hang up your coats. In the closet. No, coats do not go on the floor!"

In all fairness, when dealing with preschoolers it is a little much to expect them to be able to reach the hangers and hang their coats up. But, after picking coats up off the floor morning, noon, and night I knew something had to give.

Which is when we got smart. And picked up a couple of initialed towel hooks. We hung them beside the coat closet low enough for even our littlest kiddo to reach and ta-da! A solution was born.

Now, my girls not only hang up their coats every time they walk in the door, they can also reach them easily and put them on without me having to get them out before we leave. They love being self-reliant and I love not having a coat pile in the entry way every day. It's a win-win, I say!

So, that's what is working for me this week. Head over to Rocks in My Dryer and see what's working for others across the blogosphere.

Our experiment in Purplicious-ness.

Kai's been begging for months to have purple hair. But all the purple hair dye I've found is permanent or semi-permanent and I just wasn't ready to dive into the deep end with hair color just yet. But, I finally found some purple hair spray at the Sally Beauty Supply down the street and she got her wish.

I let her choose whether to do highlights or her full head and (big shocker) she went all out and chose to have her whole head sprayed purple. Her more reserved sister, on the other hand, chose a single purple highlight.

It didn't seem to matter whether we sprayed a lot or a little though because the next morning their pillowcases were identically purple!

For more Wordless Wednesday from moms who might actually be able to keep it, you know, wordless head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Total Truth Tuesday

You all know Jane over at What About Mom, right? If not, go now 'cause she is awesome. Seriously. I'll be here when you get back.

No, really. Go.

Okay, back now? Good.

Last week Jane posted pics of what a real house looks like. You know, the kind where the spirit of Donna Reed is not channeled on a daily basis and where the kids don't live in some kind of plastic bubble where messes are never made. I loved her post. I admired her honesty.

And, I was so inspired by her Full Monty post that I decided to post my own. Because, you know what? I'm all about keeping it real here at the Land of Lovings.

So, in the spirit of transparency brought out by brave Jane, here's my own Full Monty post. This was my house on Saturday and Sunday morning (note how many dishes were left out since FRIDAY? **hangs head in shame**).

Actually, I'm shocked at how much cleaner it looks in pictures. Because, it was bad, people. The worst part? My house has actually been in worse shape. And, I don't have any real excuse for it. Except that I've got two unruly kids and I'm gestating a human being. And, you know, that I'm hopelessly addicted to day time TV. Do those count as valid reasons or just lame excuses? Actually, I don't care either way. Last week it was simply our reality.

So, here you go. My house in all of its messy disheveled glory.

You know, I think with posts like this one (and my infamous baby bottle post) I may be guaranteeing that my mother completely avoids my blog on Tuesdays. Sorry, Mom!

What about you guys? Any dirty little housekeeping secrets lurking around your house?

(Click the pics so you get the pleasure of reading
the details of the mess you're looking at!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Does this look like a boy to you?

I hate car shopping. Mostly because, and please forgive me for this, I don't like dealing with used car salesmen. They aren't all bad, I know. But there's always one who seems to go out of his way to fit into the stereotype.

Take for example the guy who tried to sell us a minivan a couple of weeks ago. He was so busy trying to sell us the car he didn't bother to notice that I have two girls instead of a boy and a girl.

It grew increasingly uncomfortable as he kept referring to Kai as "little buddy" and "big brother" while I tried over and over again to stress my feminine pronouns and refer to them loudly as my girls.

Finally, when he left us alone for a minute Kai asked me why he kept calling her "buddy."

I explained that he wasn't paying attention and that he couldn't tell the difference between a little boy and a little girl.

She looked at me incredulously and said, "You mean he didn't notice that I don't have a PICKLE?!?!?"

So, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when he finally got back in the car and she said loudly, "Hey, mister. You know, I'm a girl, right? And I don't have a pickle. Ooookaaaaayyyy?"

Guess he had that one coming.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday - Bath Time Saves the Day

Every mom needs her quiet time. You know, time when you're not negotiating peace treaties, threatening time outs, cleaning up dirty clothes, or dressing the Snow White Barbie in her ball gown for the hundred-thousandth time that day. (Why, oh why, can't they make these outfits easier to put on?!?)

And kids need to be clean, right? They get into crayons and markers. They run around and get sweaty. They put sand in their hair. You get the idea.

Combine the two and you have my favorite sanity saver. Bath Time. Oh, how the angels sing at bath time.

Now that the girls are almost 3 and 5 I can let them bathe largely on their own. Before you start sending concerned comments about me leaving them alone in a tub of water, you should know that I am always right there with them. I am generally not more than a few feet away from them while they are bathing and absolutely always within earshot. But, the fact that I don't have to physically chase them all over the house for the 30 minutes (or hour or two) that they're bathing is blissful. And if I get the hair clean and stinkyness washed off first, they're good to go the rest of their time in the bath.

I can sit beside the door to the bathroom and read a book. Or eat a candy bar. Or just close my eyes and breathe. Ah, the peace of bath time.

And they couldn't be happier. Some cups, some spoons, a few plastic toys and occasionally some food coloring to make the bubbles pretty and they are good to go. They sit in there until they are pruney and happy and their mom is less frazzled than she was a mere 30 minutes earlier.

Which is why my kids may be accused of being unruly or undisciplined or uncontrollable, but they will never be accused of being unclean. Because sometimes, just sometimes, they even get two baths a day.

Hey, whatever it takes to make everyone happy, right?

That is what is working for me this week. Head over to Rocks in My Dryer to see what is working for other moms!

When you give a kid an ink pad...

Check out those hands! Is that the stamping equivalent to coloring outside the lines?

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

To my children on this historic day,

I feel like this day should not go unnoticed in my documentation of your childhood. But, I struggle with how to explain it to you today.

When I look into your eyes filled with innocence and excitement, how do I explain the importance of this day without also telling you about some of the darkest truths in our nation's history? How do I explain that we live in a country of possibility without revealing to you that there are others who would try to limit your achievements based on your gender or the color of your skin?

How do I tell you that today is a momentous day because only 50 years ago your parents would have been breaking the law by marrying outside of their race? How could I explain that only a few short decades ago you would have been looked upon with disdain and anger by many simply because of your mixed race and yet on this historic day we swear into office our country's first bi-racial president?

To expain this to you now would be destructive. Though, I'm not sure it would ever be a productive thing to explain. But, someday you will know. And someday you will learn how far our country has come.

I am thankful beyond measure that this will likely be something you can never fully grasp. It will seem to you an unbelievable and outdated ideal from a time long ago. I pray that when you are old enough for me to tell you these things you will look at me in disbelief and accuse me of exaggerating the truth. And I pray that when you are even older and can truly understand our national & cultural history you will be filled with gratitude and hope at how much change can be accomplished in such a short amount of time.

For now, I will tell you that we are getting a new president. That it is an important and special day. And that, though politically we may disagree as a nation, we can come together on this day to celebrate the hope and the knowledge that America is and will always be a land of unmeasured opportunity. For all people. Of all colors.

Monday, January 19, 2009

All Cooped Up

When we have a long weekend and no fun & exciting getaway plans we always end up doing the same thing. That is, we always end up getting around to the boring, yucky, no-fun tasks that get lost during the hectic weekday shuffle.

This weekend we tackled the chicken pen. And by we I mean, of course, my husband and kids. They had coop duty and I was there to document it all. You know, for posterity. And also so my hands were too full to actually help scoop chicken litter out of the boxes.

Chickens, we've found, are no more messy than any other animal you might have as a pet. But, they're no less messy either. And luckily (or not) all their mess gets concentrated in one specific spot.

On a bit of a side note, I have just one thing to say to you all: Clean your eggs.
(Okay, so the ones you buy at the store are most likely bleached and sanitized, but Lord knows I will never be able to think of eggs the same way again after seeing where some of our girls end up laying theirs.)

What does it take to keep a coop in good shape? Glad you asked.

We clean out the chicken boxes (I'll spare you a before photo) and put the litter in our compost bins to decompose into some nice healthy soil to use in our Spring garden.

We put down some fresh wheat straw in the boxes to keep the chickens warm in this super cold winter weather.

Finally, we spread the remaining hay stray all over the coop for the chickens to pick and scratch at.

All in all, it's not that bad. Kind of like cleaning a big cat box. But, actually, a bit less disgusting and perfumy smelling.

Thankfully, our ladies (and Rooster McLovin) now have one lovely freshly cleaned coop to lay all those beautiful brown eggs in. And if we're really lucky it will stay that way for at least a day or two.

That's what we tackled this week. To see what other folks around the blogosphere have been tackling visit Tackle It Tuesday over at 5 Minutes for Mom!

And just so you don't think we spend our days forcing our kids into deplorable child labor conditions, here are a couple of pics of them actually enjoying (I promise!) spending the day outside with their chickens.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yeah, I'm phoning it in. **Sorry**

Okay, so I've been sofa bound all week for some high blood pressure issues. Let me say, I missed out on the 1960s so seeing flashing spots and blurred vision because of an ultra-high BP yesterday was about as close as I got to the whole hallucinogenic trippy experience. I don't long to experience it again.

Not too much exciting or inspiring happens when you're stuck on the couch, so I've decided to cop out and finish out the week with a Meme. Forgive me for not coming up with something more original. I promise to do better next week!

Technically I'm supposed to tag someone, so I'm tagging all of you. You copy the list and bold the things you've actually done. Leave me a link in the comments if you do it so I can come by and read all about the things you've done!

99 Things I've Done

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band (does a Marching Band count? : ))

4. Visited Hawaii

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world

8. Climbed a mountain.

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sang a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty

18. Grown your own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitch hiked

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb

26. Gone skinny dipping

27. Run a Marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29 Seen a total eclipse

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run

32. Been on a cruise

33 Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught yourself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41 Sung karaoke

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant

44. Visited Africa

45 Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60 Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies

62. Gone whale watching

63. Gotten flowers for no reason

64 Donated blood, platelets, or plasma

65. Gone sky diving

66 Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

67 Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt

73. Stood in Times Square

74. Toured the Everglades

75. Been fired from a job (does it count if your parents fire you from their company?)

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79 Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book

81. Visited the Vatican

82. Bought a brand new car

83. Walked in Jerusalem

84. Had your picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

88. Had chickenpox

89. Saved someone’s life

90. Sat on a jury

91. Met someone famous

92. Joined a book club

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a lawsuit

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

Okay, I'm off to watch a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Marathon since there is nothing left to do on bed rest. Hey, at least it isn't Rock of Love Charm School, right? (Actually, it's only because I watched all I could stand of that yesterday. **sigh**)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I think it's starting to sink in.

Turns out we're gonna have one these around our house in less than 3 months. It's getting exciting!

Ivy (two weeks old)

Kai (2 days old)

Ivy (in hospital)

Kai (in hospital)

Check out more Wordless Wednesday over at 5 Minutes for Mom!

Apparently this is Satan's Laptop...

I know I disappointed all of you (and by all of you, I mean my Mom) by not having my Total Truth Tuesday ready today. I was busy being all poked and prodded at my 30 week doctor's appointment. I'll get back in the swing of things tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this awesome product review my sister found for me at

Click the image to make it easier to read.
You don't want to miss this one!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Promise me this isn't scientifically possible.

Last night I had a nightmare. A horrible, horrible nightmare that nearly woke me up screaming in a fit that would threaten to wake up even our neighbors two houses down.

I dreamed I was pregnant.

Wait, I am pregnant.

I mean, I dreamed I was pregnant and apparently miraculously still ovulating and that I managed to get myself pregnant - again. I remember vividly in my dream waddling my hugely pregnant body into the bathroom to take a home pregnancy test. I remember waiting for the results and seeing a horrifying pink plus sign.

In my dream, even though I was currently 7 months pregnant, I discovered that lurking inside me was a new baby. A baby that would take another 9 months to mature. Which, of course, meant that delivering this baby would not free me from my prison of gestational "bliss." Can you imagine the cruelty of that discovery?

And, for the love of all that is sweet and holy, if you can't have, um, marital relations without fear of getting pregnant when you're, you know, ALREADY PREGNANT then when can you?

I'm pretty sure this is due largely to our recent discussions of whether or not we'll be adding a fourth to the mix at some point.

I know, I know. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. I'm always one who is rushing too far ahead for my own good. But, the idea of a fourth is pretty much all my influence. Four just feels right to me.

If we do decide to take the plunge, Thomas' thought is to "rip the band-aid off" and try for a fourth about two or three months after this baby is born.

Clearly, he hates me.

You should have seen the look on my parents' face when we joked about that. They did not see much humor in the thought. And, I can assure you, that will not be happening. Though I know it works out wonderfully for some people. Heck, Thomas' older brothers are 10 months apart. 10 months, people!

If we do decide a fourth is on the horizon you can count on it being a good year or so before we even think about it. I like the idea of a fourth coming along right around the time this little guy is two. It is an age difference that has worked out so nicely with Kai and Ivy.

Still, for now, I'll be rejoicing that come March this little guy will be out of the baby cooker and I'll have at least a year or more to enjoy being the only person living in this body.

For now, let's just hope I start dreaming of something less frightening. You know, like El Chubacabra or the Anti-Christ.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Now that's what I'm talking about...

See that beautiful shining bowl of brown egg goodness above? That is why we decided to get chickens for our backyard. And, they taste even better than they look in the picture with their shimmering shiny halo of angelic eggliness. (I have no idea what eggliness is supposed to mean. I like the way it sounds. Just go with me on it.)

After months of our hens not laying eggs and mooching off us, Thomas went out to check the coop on New Year's Day and found 14 beautiful brown eggs waiting for him. We had 2 more by the end of the afternoon. They've been laying eggs regularly ever since! I am fully convinced it is a sign that 2009 is going to be a wonderful and prosperous year.

And it is entirely possible that it is pure coincidence that all this has started as McLovin the rooster has just begun to crow, but I'm gonna give him just a little bit of credit for finally getting these ladies in order. Egg production should go up even more in the Spring and I can't wait to get a chance to hatch a few baby chicks when the weather gets warmer.

'Cause that's just what I need, of course. 2 preschoolers, a newborn, a puppy, 8 hens, a rooster and a half dozen needy baby chicks!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

He really does look like our baby. Just with creepier eye movements.

Thanks to the VW Routan Baby Maker we can get a preview of what our little man might look like. Be sure and go make your own baby here. It's too fun!

Create Your OwnMake a Routan Baby

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

At least when I have a boy his toys will be less naked, right?

I'm pretty sure Barbie is going to be making an appearance on season 3 of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Last year, I found her and some friends like this:

And then tonight she was passed out on the dining room table with some random fabric rubber-banded around her like a skirt. Even if the rubber banded skirt wasn't a total fashion disaster, she still needs a shirt, right? If this isn't rock bottom I don't know what is:

I mean, really? Who goes out of the house like this? Barbie, get help now. Before Skipper, Midge, and I are forced to stage an intervention.

(By the way, this is exactly why I love those Barbies with the clothes painted on.)

For more Wordless Wednesday (with less plastic nudity) visit 5 Minutes for Mom!

Total Truth Tuesday

God Bless you, my secretly named boy child, I love you with my whole heart. But, you will be here in 10 weeks and your nursery isn't even started (let alone finished and sitting waiting empty for you like your oldest sister's was when I was a mere 24 weeks pregnant).

And you only have about 5 littles onesies and pants to your crazy secret hippy name. I promise we'll be bringing you home from the hospital after you're born, but we just have to make the time to pick up a car seat for you first.

And, BTW, you're not going to come with a bag of the necessities packed are you? It's been a few years since I had a baby and I'm not sure whether things have changed since your sister was born. If not, I guess I'll need to make a Target run and pick up some blankets, and pacifiers, and a swing, and some bedding, oh, and probably some diapers, right? You're not bringing diapers with you by any chance are you?

Here's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. My precious Baby #3 is getting a much less prepared welcome than he deserves. At least that is how it feels lately.

It is not that I am any less excited about this precious new addition to our family. I am thrilled to have a snuggly, cuddly, little bundle of wrinkles and baby pudge to hold and love, but finding the time to get everything ready has just been harder than I thought. I told someone the other day that I have friends who aren't even pregnant yet who have more prep work done than I do and it's seriously true.

I'm feeling horribly guilty about not having more things done and ready and waiting for this little guy and I've got to get moving before he comes home to sleep in a pretty pink bassinet. I mean, what kind of mom would I be if I couldn't even be bothered to pick up a new set of bassinet bedding, right?

Am I a terrible mom or is this just third child syndrome here? Please tell me I'm not the only mom to get less and less prep work done with each subsequent pregnancy...

Bring on the Waldorf

Part of my New Year's Resolution was to get better about our homeschool structure and curriculum. So, I set out to find a schedule and structure that would work for a family that didn't really do structure and schedule. Turns out that is harder to find than I thought. Most of you homeschoolers out there have it way more together than I do!

The Waldorf-Steiner educational philosophy has long been something I found fascinating. I love the emphasis it places on the role of imagination in learning and it's focus on the coordination of education with the rhythms of everyday life. If I had my wish (and money was no object) I'd have them enrolled in the Atlanta Waldorf School in a heartbeat. I really truly think this philosophy of education breeds imaginative, innovative free thinkers with a love of learning. And that is an approach to education I desperately want for my girls.

Since we're not ready for fork over $10k for Preschool/Kindergarten right now, I set out to find an inexpensive (or free!) Waldorf style curriculum to use for our homeschool trial. Since Waldorf doesn't really emphasize a strict curriculum for pre-school and Kindergarten I found a site that has great information on Waldorf philosophy as well as some of the stories, fingerplays, songs, and crafts that make up it's early curriculum.

I'd been avoiding tackling this project but with the help of the links I've included above I've managed to create a great Waldorf style rhythm that works for both girls.

Part of Waldorf is having days of the week being designated for specific activities. Which means Mondays are now Baking Days, Tuesdays are Watercolor Days, and Wednesdays are Clay Days. This gives the girls a chance to know exactly what creative exercises we'll be doing on what days and allows for a bit more structure and predictability in their schedule.

Since it just seems impossible for me to fully commit to a schedule, Thursdays are "Wild Card" Days and Fridays are Field Trip Days. I need just a little wiggle room in our schedule so this seemed like the best compromise.

I feel great having finally gotten this part of our life organized, structured, and down on paper! I can't wait to see the difference it makes in our homeschooling weeks!

To see what other moms are tackling this week, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom for more Tackle It Tuesday!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Here is where I should be resolving and stuff...

I had a post half written about what happened in 2008. And how crazy life was. And how wonderful it was. And how stressful it was all at the same time.

But, then it occurred to me that if you wanted to know what happened to me in 2008 you could probably go through the archives and read all about it.

And I actually had gotten into my resolutions and predictions for 2009. I elaborated on my feelings about becoming a family of 5 in a few months. And on what lay ahead for us. But, then I thought, why tell you now when you'll just get stuck reading it in a a few months? 'Cause if you want to know all you have to do is come back and read what's going on. I'll put it up here for all thirteen of you to read.

Then it occurred to me that I didn't know what other people's bests and worsts of 2008 were or what they hoped to see happen in 2009. And that is way more interesting to me than my own year. I know what happened with me.

So, if you're inclined to share let us all know what you did this year. Or what you're looking forward to in 2009. You can share it in the comments or leave a link. I'm always looking for some good New Year's resolutions to add to my list and may even steal some of yours to apply to my 2009!

Regardless, I hope everyone has a wonderful, wonderful start to 2009 and that it brings happiness and growth and joy to each and every one of you.