Monday, March 30, 2009

1st Quarterly Check

Can you believe that we are at the end of our first quarter for 2009? Time is just flying by. I started this year with some lofty goals in mind. In my post about goals, I talked about setting a timeline and checking back for progress. My overall goal for 2009 is to find more balance in my life. You know, those “many hats” that I wear. I don’t want December to creep up on me and then realize that I didn’t come close to my goal. I’m checking in now to see how I’m doing so far.

I wear the hat of: a woman, a wife, a mom, a homemaker, a friend, an occupational therapist and a jewelry designer. My goal for the year was to find balance in all that I do and make sure that I stay true to all areas of my life.

My goal is to do something everyday for each area of my life: each of my three kids as individuals and my family as a unit (or one-on-one time with my husband which can only help the family unit), the house, my friendships, my business and something just for me. Hey! How did I get moved to the end of the list? And what’s with the word “just”? OK, I’m calm; at least I am finally on the list. As long as I stay true to my goal, I will pay attention to myself at some point each day. (Even if it’s for one minute, I will give to me.)”

Let’s look at the topics I have covered so far:
I have been an OT (Goals, W-sitting, Have a glass of water and My Aching Back)
I have been a jewelry designer/business woman (Why do I blog, Promo time and DYI Bookmark)
I have been a mom and homemaker (Manic Monday, I heart my swiffer, What to do with all those baby wipes, Dinner fast, easy and they’ll eat it, “Mom, where’s the…?”)
I have been a friend (Call a friend)

So that about covers my blog posts for this quarter.
Aaaa, Do you see wife anywhere around there? Ummm, better get on that soon. (So much to do, so little time).

Outside of the blogging world I think I’m doing fair. I am taking steps toward my goal but there is still room for improvements. I know it’s a lot to fit-in, but with some good time management (I see a future blog topic) I think I can accomplish my goal. I did say I wanted to do something everyday for each area of my life. I try daily to do just that but honestly, I miss a few things here and there. The kids always get their time daily, the family as a unit gets time a good 5 to 6 days a week, (one-on-one time with the hubby…ouch. That one hits the list 2 to 3 times a month.) Defiantly need to pay more attention there. The house gets some attention; just not what it really needs, but that is getting better. I do something for my business each day. And I think I’m a good friend; I try to connect with friends daily (not everybody everyday, but I am building and honoring my friendships).

Ahhh, I almost forgot about ME!!! Why does that keep happening??? Wait, I did do a post about “pretty feet”. Ok, so I don’t make it to the daily list. (No shock there). I do get some “Me” time during a virtual girls night out. It’s a fun way to discover other blogs and their writers. So with drink in hand, head over to Ann’s on Friday night. Come over on the 3rd and you might win a pair of my earrings in a giveaway. Here’s my contribution to last weeks game.

In the mean time, am working at giving to myself more, even if it is just one minute, but I really only do “me” maybe once a week. (Things like a shower or eating - just don’t count. And good thing too ‘cause they don’t happen everyday either).

So, I’ve put my cards on the table. How are you doing with your goals???

If you haven’t put them in writing yet…GO GET A PEN.

(Next update in three more months)

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Love Boat...

I was up late watching TV and...

Zsa Zsa Gabor and Charo were registering to be in the Pacific Princess beauty contest when they saw a handsome young man step out of the pool. Zsa Zsa said to Charo “Shou should Gopher hemm.” “No, no, no” said Charo, “ He has a Lido Deck.” “ Letz go ate some lounge at zi captain’s table and luke for hot men zsere.”

Us girls are having a party. Go see Ann and she’ll let you in.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mom, Where's the...?

As an Occupational Therapist, it has been my job to help people gain their highest level of independence. As a Mom I benefit when my kiddos can find toys or craft items on their own. I can’t even count how many times I hear “Mom, where’s the …?” So, I’m always looking for ways to make my life easier… Aa, I mean help my kids get their stuff. Yah, that’s what I mean.

You might have guessed from some of my other blog posts, like this one and this one, that I like to organize. So last weekend, while the hubby was out of town, the kiddos helped me organize all their craft stuff. I know I talked about using google images to make your own pictures when I talked about all those baby wipe bins. I don’t think I really explained how to do that trick. I learned how to do it thanks to my super cool, really smart friend. (Thanks C)

So here goes my attempt to pass the knowledge onto you.
Open a “word” or other type of word processing document. Minimize it so you can bring up the Internet at the same time.
Go to Google.
Across the top of the google page, you want to click on Images.
Then type in the object you are looking for i.e.; glue, scissors, pla-doh…
Then right click and a small menu window will pop up.
In there, click on “copy”
Now go to your document and right click, then click again on “paste.”
Ta Da!

I used the images I found to create labels that the kids could use to find their different craft supplies. I found this 4-drawer organizer on sale at target for $15.00. It fits perfectly under the desk in our kitchen. (Helpful hint, take a tape measurer with you and know how much space you have to work with).

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Aching Back!!!

I am preparing to present an in-service to a group of nurses this week on transfers and lifting techniques. All to help them protect their backs while they get patients out of bed, into wheel chairs or out of a chair onto a stretcher…you get the idea. Anyway, since I already have my therapist hat on, I thought I’d look at your posture too.

So, how many of you just sat up straight???

I thought so.

You might not be moving someone from a bed to a wheelchair, but you probably could benefit from better body mechanics. Have you ever heard someone say, “I hurt my back picking up a pencil.” (Or something of that nature). It‘s not the pencil that did it but most likely years of bad posture. Most back injuries are from repetitive use. You know, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. It wasn’t one straw; it was the first 2987 straws.

There are several areas I could give you pointers on, but too many for one post. So, I’ll just go over some basics for all of you at your computer.

Before we get started, just in case you don’t already know, your keyboard and computer screen should be straight in front of you. None of that sideways twisting action going on or I’ll crawl right through the computer and yell at you. I’m glad that is out of the way.

Sitting at your computer, your knees, hips and elbows should be at about a 90-degree angle. If they are not, you need to adjust your workstation. Check your hips first. Chances are good that they are OK, but if not, adjust your chair so that you have good low back support and you’re not leaning too far forward or back. Now, adjust the height of your chair and arm rests so that your elbows are close to 90 degrees and you can comfortably reach the keyboard. Take a look at those pretty feet. Are they flat on the floor? Your chair should be raised enough that your upper leg (from the knee to hip) is parrell with the floor. If your knees are too high, raise your chair (and re-adjust you keyboard height to keep your elbows at a good working angle). If your feet are not touching the floor, you need to put something under them to rest your feet on. A book or small box usually works Ok, or you can get a nice tilting foot rest at most office supply stores. To finish off, we need to check the height of your screen. Check your posture. Shoulders back and down then relax. Imagine a puppet string coming from the crown of your head lifting you up and slightly back. Nice and tall now, your ears should be right over your shoulders. Looking straight ahead, you should be focused on the center of your computer screen. If it is too low, set a book or two under it to get the appropriate height.

If you are using a laptop computer, here is some food for thought. They are great for work on the go and for convience. If you are working for extended periods of time, you should be at a regular computer station. The laptop will limit your ability to adjust your positioning and ultimately set you up for possible repetive injury like neck and shoulder pain and/or carpal tunnel.

Now make a mental note of what good posture should be and try to check your posture several times a day. Here are some quick exercises you can do to help improve your posture.

1. When stopped at a red light, use the time to strengthen your neck. Push your head straight back into the head rest and count to ten then relax and do it aging until the light turns green.

2. When you are standing, check your posture to make sure that your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankles are all lined up. To be sure, stand against a wall with feet, bum, shoulders and head touching the wall. Slide your hand behind you and place it between the wall and the small of your back. There should be some space but not too much. Now push your back into your hand and press it against the wall. This is a pelvic tilt exercise and will help strengthen your core muscles and ultimately sit and stand taller.

3. When you are bending over to make the bed, to pull laundry out of the dryer or to pick something up, try to maintain the natural curves in your back (Do not arch you entire back into one continuous curve) and stretch the muscles along the back of your legs (your hamstrings). You will feel a stretch but it should not be painful.

All of these will help you to improve your posture and strengthen your core muscles giving you a healthier back.

Now, sit up straight!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pretty Feet?

If you remember from some of my other postings, I have found it hard to fit “ME” on the list. You know, after you’re done taking care of all your work: the job (or your business), the husband, the house, the kids, the pets and whatever else has found its way onto your never-ending list. You have no time, no energy or no desire to give anything to yourself.

Well, knock it off!!!

I don’t know if it’s the warmer weather, all the talk about spring break or the count down to Easter, but I’ve got Flip Flops on my brain. Are your feet ready to be out? Seriously, do you feel that it is safe to unleash them and allow public viewing? Well you better get ready.

Now, I know it can be hard to find the time to pamper ourselves, but with just a few short minutes a few days a week your pretty piggys can be picture perfect.

Exfoliate, moisturize, repeat... Don’t worry; you’ll have sandal-worthy toes in no time. There are several different types of loofah sponges and pumice stones available at any drug store. Find the ones you like best and put them in the shower. All you need to do is add 2 to 3 minutes to your routine. (Even every-other-day is enough). Scrub the dry rough areas with a loofah or a scrub brush just a few seconds during your shower and then go over them again with a pumice stone once you get out.

As a side note, if you have hairy little spiders growing on the tops of your toes; wax, pluck or shave, but make those things go away. I have a friend and she has the cutest summer footwear but I get so distracted with the giant furry monster sitting on her toes that I find it hard to think about anything else. So, look down, if you have the urge to grab a rolled up newspaper, you might want to reach for the razor instead.

To finish up, use your favorite lotion and give yourself a quick massage. I especially like to rub some nice cream on at bedtime then I put socks on to help hold the moisture in. I promise you’ll be ready for those summer shoes in no time. I don’t recommend using lotion before you slid into those sandals, make for slippery steps. (I lived and learned… trust me)

Extra Hint: In the summer before I run out the door with my flip flops, I put a drop of scented massage oil on each toe. It helps moisturize my cuticles, the shine makes my polish look fresh and it smells pretty.

Now go dust off those sexy strapy sandals.

Head on over to The Daily Grind to enter in the giveaway Martha has for your flip flop feet.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

DIY bookmark

I’ve just added a new product to my web site, but you’ll have to make it yourself.

No, I’m not on strike. I’m starting Do-It-Yourself kits. Sure, you could go out to the store and buy all the stuff yourself, but if you don’t want to make 20 of something, you’ll be left with a bunch of extra supplies that you don’t need. That also means that you will most likely spend 2 to 3 times the amount of money.

My neighbor asked me to put together a kit for a birthday gift for a fifth grader. Instead of getting one of my ready-made bookmarks, she thought this young girl might like to put it together herself.

I talked with the Mom of the girl who received the kit to see how things went. She thought it was a wonderful idea and said that her daughter was able to put the bookmark together following the instructions herself and didn’t need any help. She loves to read and now uses the bookmark that she made herself.

If you go to the store and buy all the supplies needed, you will spend between $14.00 and $20.00 and have things left over. Or, if your interested, you can get a you can get a kit from me for $7.50. You pick the color of the metal finish and the color of the beads. The kit comes with everything you need, except a few simple tools that you probably have around the house. (pliers and wire cutters) Included are complete, step-by-step instructions with color illustrations. These kits make wonderful gifts for the crafty and not-so-crafty alike. They are simple enough for someone as young as 6 or 7 years of age (with help following the instructions) and are just as fun for older kids and adults

Go here to order yours.

Do Forget!!! You still have time to use the Promo Time coupon for earrings. It’s good until the end of March 2009.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dinner fast, easy AND they'll eat it too

I love anything that makes cooking easy. I use my crockpot whenever I can; I follow recipes that start with things already semi done and my favorite cookbook claims that the recipes only have four ingredients. So here is a recipe that I came up with on my own to make meal planning a breeze. It is sort of a twist on chicken parm.

I like it because the kiddos eat it up (veggies and all), everything is in one dish, prep and cleanup are a cinch, it’s on the table in no time and I usually have these items on hand for that last minute “Oh goodness, what’s for diner???”

1 jar of spaghetti sauce (your favorite)
1 package of frozen spinach (Frozen chopped broccoli florets work just the same)
Some cheese (Sliced or shredded; provolone, mozzarella anything you have, I like Swiss the best)
Frozen, breaded chicken breast. (I prefer that they are fully cooked, and that they are full breasts, not tiny tenders or little fingers. I also avoid the “crispy” version there is just too much coating). Directions:

Put the spinach in the microwave to defrost while you get the rest ready
Layer some sauce on the bottom of your baking dish,
Then layer in the frozen chicken
Place a slice of cheese on each piece of chicken (or sprinkle shredded cheese on top – whatever you have)
Take the thawed spinach and squeeze out excess water. Sprinkle it over the cheese.
Pour the remainder of sauce over everything.
If you have extra shredded or grated cheese, you can sprinkle some on the top.

Put it in the oven. You will need to follow the directions from the chicken package and add about 10 minutes to accommodate for all the extra stuff. It will usually take 20-30 minutes at 400 to 425.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

What to do with all those baby wipe bins

Once you realize how many diapers a baby can go through, it’s not long before you start buying them in bulk. If you have ever purchased a case of baby wipes, you know that each case comes with a new plastic dispenser bin. Well, you only need so many of those dispensers and if you’re like me, you save the rest. As a side note, this drives my husband crazy and is, in part, why I save every last one.

Picture the conversation going something like this:

T: Why do we have so many of these things? (As he heads toward the wastebasket with several in hand)
R: (Panicked) No! Don’t throw them away, I’m saving them.
T: (puzzled) Why?
R: I don’t want to throw them away; I might need them for something…someday.
T: (eyes roll)
R: They are perfectly good…for something…I’m sure? I can put toys and stuff in them. Just leave them in there, please. I’m not tossing your stuff out.
T: (heavy sigh)
R: (smirk, I won!)

It wasn’t until my first little angel was older and had acquired more toys that I knew what to do with them. I finally came up with a true purpose for the bins. Cleaning up was more ‘me’ trying to find creative ways to tuck and shove things out of sight for the 2 hours she was napping before it was all spewed around the room again. The job of “clean up” was not only a daunting task for my then-2-year-old but becoming rather difficult for me as well. I didn’t want to just leave everything out, I was determined to have “adult space” for the 30 minutes between her bedtime and the time when I would be passed out on the couch waiting for my husband to wake me and tell me it was time to go to bed.

So, back to the baby wipe bins. I realized one day that my darlings were better at clean up if it was more of a matching game. Put the blocks in the block bin; put the pony things in the pony bin and so forth.

After the first few bins appeared with pictures on their sides, we had a new game on our hands; making more picture-coded bins. We went off to the trusted computer and clicked on Google and then on Images. Then, type in the name of the toy for which you are trying to create a container. Find an image that will be easily recognizable to your little one and make 3 or 4 copies of that image. Print them out then cut and tape them onto each side of the bin. Not only will clean up be easier, but they will also be able to find the toy they are looking for with a little less help from you. The added bonus is that all those bins stack up very nicely making the toy area tidy.

Have fun organizing!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Call a Friend

I just spent the evening with an amazing group of friends. They are an ongoing reminder to me of the importance of friendships. I thought I would share one of my friendship stories with you.

I usually try to be as optimistic as I can. It sometimes takes effort and there are times when I need to remind myself that the glass is half full. One day, over a year ago, I called a friend so I could whine and complain about my then “bad day”. When she picked up the phone she was so happy to know that it was me calling. She was having a bad day and needed to unload. When she was done, she asked me what I called for and I no longer had the energy to run down the details of my stress, so I said “I called to say ‘hi’”. We chatted some more and then went off to continue our daily routines. Then a few weeks later when I just didn’t think anything would go right for me, I picked up the phone and called a different friend. I said, “Hi, I just called to see what you’re up to”. Several minutes later, I was laughing and thinking about what I would make for dinner. After the phone call, I was cooking supper and reminiscing the call in my head. I realized that I felt better, not so much because I was able to tell about my day or that I was able to hear that someone else was having a bad day, but that it feels so good to be there for someone else.

With that said, there are times when a bad day means that it is time to sit down and call a friend. Here’s a look into a few days I had last week. Not one thing is that big of a deal but strung together with a few other stressors and I was ready to pull my hair out.

You know, you check the calendar to see if it’s Friday the 13th…No.
Full moon…No.
Well, let’s just chalk it up to Murphy’s Law.

I left just two minutes later than usual for the school drop off. Half way there I came upon a “road closed” sign and had to turn around and double back adding several miles to my route. This means after flying through town, I still ended up screeching into the drop off line at the last second.

After that race, I headed off to the grocery store with baby in tow, to pick up a few things. Back at home with a ton of stuff I didn’t really need, I realized that I did not have two of the items I set out to get in the first place. While making lunch for all my hungry mouths (and attempting to do so as fast as possible since the baby was screaming at me to give him his milk), I blew up chicken in the microwave. After, of coarse, I had just given it a thorough cleaning. After lunch, my daughter found the surprise school snack I hid for her in the closet. (There goes that surprise)

By the next morning, I awake thinking that “today will be a better day”.
Making coffee, I realize that yesterday’s trip to the store, I mistakenly bought fat free creamer instead of regular…Blaaa.
It actually took me a minute to go from thinking about using formula before reverting back to using sugar and milk (Which really only tastes good when you drink coffee in a ‘Jersey dinner at 3 am.)

With the bus rolling down the hill, it hits me that today is library day. (My daughter, looking panicked, states that she has no idea where her book is). With my feet barely hitting the floor, I fly threw the living room and up the steps to her room. I find it under some of her clothes and run out to the bus stop in my bare feet to slide the book into her backpack. While out there, …in my bare feet…as it starts to rain, the bus driver (shaking his finger at me) tells me all the ways that this is wrong.

Fearful of what the rest of my day may hold for me, I check in with a friend and heard that she was in the same boat. I listened to stories of various bus stop traumas, tears that have been shed before even leaving for the bus, being up from 2 am until 4:30 with a kiddo who is screaming over what was to her, an unfair punishment. I’m reminded of the squeal little girls make that is in a pitch usually only heard by dogs.
All these things that test the strength of a mother. (They don’t call it tough love for nothin’.)

Now, here is where a good friend really comes in handy. During my conversation, I am reminded that I remembered the book, which keeps my daughter from having a bad day. (That means when she gets home there is one less thing that is my fault) And as I run outside shoeless it is 55 degrees instead of the typical 30 ish for mid February. Another good point is that my bare feet are not sticking to the ice that would normally be on the driveway this time of year.

I feel somewhat better about my day, having been able to laugh at the expense of others and talk with a good friend. I still try to think of the up side when I feel myself wanting to complain, but there are days when you just need to get it off your chest. So as you run the list of gal pals through your head and think about those friends who let you bend their ear when your chips are down. Remember, you might be surprised to know how good it feels to just listen.

Go call a friend today.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I {heart} my Swiffer

The one "I can’t do without" product in this house is my trusty swiffer. I have white floors and three kids plus one not so tidy hubby. Enough said! I swiffer daily, twice if people are coming over. Well, not all people. My Mom and the friends who have been instructed to never see any dirt or dust in my house don’t qualify for the double swiffer. But you can be sure that my trusty swiffer is never far away. Not only do I keep it close at hand but I buy the cleaning pads in bulk.

Why am I sharing this little tid-bit you ask? Well, sit right there and let me tell you.
Alice made me do it.
Who’s Alice?
I’m glad you asked.
Alice (dot) com asked about my favorite household product and the rest is…well, you just read the rest.
Now for your chance to win a Flip Video Camera, go see Alice and tell her about your favorite household product.

Good Luck!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Manic Monday

School daze…
Getting our little ones up, fed, dressed and ready to go out the door can be a real magic act. One trick I found helpful, and something that I implemented the first month of kindergarten was a clothing cubby. Getting 3 kiddos out of bed, on the potty and seated at the breakfast table was my morning work out. Up the steps…down the steps…up the steps…down the steps. OK, running up and down the steps was getting out of hand. In an effort to reduce the number of times I chased my tale helping my little dependants and to make my overall planning-ahead job easier, I started placing a weeks worth of clothes into clothing cubbies. For around $20.00 from a mail order catalog, I cut one of my jobs from the morning “to do” list.
Each week, as I put the laundry away, I fill Monday thru Friday with completed outfits. I make sure that each bin gets socks and undies as well as the right clothing for the right day. Sweats and sneakers for gym class, the new shirt for casual day and a sweater on the day that the trusty weatherman is calling for a drop in temperature. Now, I can stay down stairs feeding the baby and coaxing the 3 year old to finish breakfast while the older one is up getting dressed independently. I think next, I’m going to hang a small picture of books as a reminder on the day that library is scheduled.
The best part is how easy it was to incorporate into our daily routine. I pulled the day of the week cubbies out of the delivery box and wrapped the Velcro hanger around the closet rod. Step one…DONE. I explained that it was something she could do “all by herself” and she couldn’t wait for the next school day. Step two…DONE. On Mondays she needs to get the step stool out of the bathroom to reach the top bin, but it barely even slows her down. This one gets filed under one of my best ideas ever. If only I had invented the day of the week cubbies….Ahhh that would be nice.
Let me know your manic Monday, “make life easier” ideas.