Saturday, February 27, 2010

You Capture - Shapes

When my last camera bit the dust a few weeks ago, I was lost.  I'm that person who always has her camera out.  When I leave the house it is in my purse in case I stumble upon the perfect picture that I just must capture.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to go long without a camera so I immediately started hunting for a new one.  The camera I had was a Sony Cybershot and I was very happy with the pictures it took.  It was easy to use and I had the option of setting a few features how I liked them.  Of course it was also many years old so I was excited to think about what technological advances were going to be available on my new camera. At first I had aspirations of going big, with a new DSLR, but my budget wasn't quite up to my aspirations so in the end I just upgraded my Cybershot.  I ended up going with the 290 that has an incredible zoom, plus a ton of extra features that I'm still discovering a week later!!

Now that I have my new camera I'm taking even more pictures.  I decided since I was enjoying taking so many pictures that it was time for me to join in the fun with Beth and her You Capture weekly carnival.

This weeks theme was all about shapes.  Of course I had to kick it off with the rectangular shape of my new camera.

Then my shape hunting went to the circus where, let me tell you, there are shapes galore.  The favorite part of the show for my family was the motorcycles in the sphere.  I thought the sphere would be a great shape to share.

Of course I had to capture the 3 ring circus pix. Circles at their best. Plus you can see the rectangle screens, and triangles on the big top.

The snow and ice has finally melted away except for the big ol' plow piles which may be here until summer. This is one of my favorite photos that captured the icicles hanging from our roof. I like how they contrast with the blue of the sky and also how you can see them reflecting in our windows.

Food is full of shapes. Mmmm. Sushi.

The thing I learned about the You Capture carnival is that it makes you look at things in a different light. When I woke up this morning, I rolled over to see what time it was and saw all these shapes on the nightstand.

I had a blast shape hunting with my camera this week and can't wait to join in for next weeks challenge with the theme "hopeful". Hmmm. That one could be a bit harder to capture, but I'll do my best!

You can check out more shape pictures here and while you are at it why don't you snap some pictures and link up yourself!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Top Three Thursday - Why I Blog

I recently discovered Tamara at The (Un)experienced Mom and always enjoy visiting her blog.  She is co-hosting Top Three Thursday and this week participants are supposed to share their top three reasons why they blog.  Sounded like a fun question so I thought I'd link up this week.

Why I Blog 

I want to save the memories!  I began blogging to share pictures and stories with friends and family who lived far away.  Often I find myself digging into my archives to see what was happening last year at this time, or use my categories to just look at pictures.  It is nice to have a digital scrapbook/journal to document my family's life.  

I enjoy writing.  I've always liked to write and play with words. Perfect grammar is most definitely not my thing, which if you are a regular reader, I'm sure you know.  I don't feel the need to follow rules when I write, rather I just like to let it flow.  There is nothing like the satisfaction of publishing a post that I have put my heart into. 

I'm a people person. I've met some amazing people through their comments on my blog, reading their blogs, twittering, and emails.  It is nice to find people who have some of the same interests as you as well as meeting people whose lives are vastly different from my own.  There's a whole world out there and blogging/bloggers make it feel a bit smaller.

    So why do you blog?
    I'd love to know.
    Leave me a comment or better yet, write your own post and link up!

    Sticker Stamps?

    Zoe came running out from the den/office/playroom the other day saying, "Look mommy, look at these cool stickers I found."  When I looked, I had to laugh, "Those aren't stickers, their stamps.  Stamps cost money so let's not stick them everywhere, ok?"  Then it came.  The question. "What's a stamp?" she asked.

    My daughter had no idea what a stamp was.
    I realized that she had never used a stamp.  

    Growing up I would write letters to my grandparents and mail them all the time.  Now Zoe and Dylan email their grandparents or call them on their cells (Zoe is quite good at that!) since there isn't long distance charges.  I would often watch my parents pay the bills, add the stamp, and put them in the mailbox to send them on their way. My kids know that when I have the stack of envelopes beside me and I'm grumbling at the computer, I'm paying the bills.  When Christmas rolled around, I would help mom add the Christmas stamps to all the Christmas cards.  Now we take the picture, put it on the blog, Facebook, and an email along with a Christmas greeting and call it a day.

    Of course, she didn't know what a stamp was because she doesn't use them or see me using them.  Matter-of-fact the ones she discovered were the 2 cent ones that I must have used at some point to adjust the price going up.  Honestly, I can't remember the last time I did buy stamps.  I couldn't even tell you how much they cost.    

    Maybe it is time to take a field trip to the post office and purchase some stamps.  I can enlighten my children on the good ol' days.  You know before there was the email, no long distance phone plans, blogs, and Facebook.  You know, way back then.

    So who wants a letter?

    I just have to ask, do you use stamps regularly?  If so, what for?

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday - New Best Friend(s)

    Picnik is my other new best friend!

    The Hype with Skype

    After hearing people talk about Skype on their blogs, twitter, and facebook I was curious.  I wanted to know what the hype about Skype was all about.  So I did what every techie person would do, I downloaded the software and set up an account. 

    I made sure my speakers, microphone, and video worked just like it asked.  I even played with my webcam a bit and had it take my profile picture (only because I had just gotten out of the shower so my hair was clean and I was actually wearing something other than pj's).  I entered some profile info and soon it told me that I was ready to call some people.

    Then it hit me.  I don't have any people.  I don't have anybody to skype with.  So I immediately started thinking about everybody I know who may be techie enough to have a Skype account and stalked searched them out on the directory.  I was pretty pleased to find a few familiar names and quickly sent them a sweet message asking them to be my Skype friend.

    And that's where I am people.  Waiting anxiously patiently for people to be my Skype pal.  I haven't yet figured out what I'll do if they do say yes.  Guess I'll have to rethink staying in pj's all day just in case somebody calls my computer.

    I do think Skype would be a great way for the kiddos to talk to their grandparents who live away from us and I may even be able to get my sis-in-law to set it up so I can talk to my niece and nephew in North Carolina.  That would be fun. 

    How about you, do you Skype?
    How do you find it useful?

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    What I Learned This Week - Where We Belong

    Growing up our Sundays always consisted of the same routine...
    Taco Bell.
    Afternoon naps for parents, reading a book for me.
    Back to church in the evening.
    Cinnamon rolls after evening church.

    I grew up in a very religious home where God was the center of everything. I remember going to Sunday School and singing songs with fun hand motions, listening to the teachers tell Bible stories on felt boards and with puppets, making crafts, and memorizing verses like it was yesterday.  

    This is what I yearn for my own kids to experience, but what I learned this week is that the only way they will is if I allow them the opportunity.  We left the church I was talking about above when I was 11 for which I am sure were relevant reasons to my parents. For me though, I was crushed.  I had to say goodbye to my best friends (a couple I still talk to today), leave the church I had grown up in, and start all over again in youth groups that were full of cliques and unfortunately not very welcoming.  Or perhaps I was the one not receptive of their welcome, which as a pre-teen could most definitely have been the case!

    Whatever the case though, even after my parents became members of another church, I never felt that I belonged there.  I did still attend church regularly, but honestly only to please my parents.  Once I moved out of my parents house, I went less and less and eventually never.  

    Skip a few or 10 years later.  
    As the kiddos have become older it is so important to me for them to learn about God, the Bible, and that He has a plan for their lives.  We have visited a few churches and even attended one regularly for about 6 months, but during that entire 6 months nobody ever bothered to get to know us.  Now I know it is a two way street and I could have done more to put myself out there, but you would think that somebody would have came to say hello after seeing us there week after week.

    So eventually we stopped going and spent our Sundays enjoying our family. 
    Until this past Sunday.  

    One of the things that really excited me about my parents moving closer was the thought that maybe, just maybe they would find a church they liked and it would work for Dave, me, and the kids too.  Well last week they went to a local church and went on and on about how nice everybody was and how welcomed they felt for it being their first time.  Dave and I had actually tried the church a few years ago, but I was not happy with the children's program so we moved on.  

    We decided to give it another shot.
    We went to the contemporary service with a praise and worship band which is something I really enjoy.  While they didn't have a childrens service they did have a childrens message when all the kids went up front for a quick 5-10 minute message that went along with the main message.  Zoe loved it!  They also handed out a kids bulletin with some Bible puzzles and a place for a picture that went along with the theme, which the kids could complete during the service.  Here's Zoe's picture...

    What I also learned this week was that I have missed going to church.  I've missed the singing, praising, hearing His word, and that feeling of renewal after the service.  I want need to go to church.  I want my kids to learn more about God and choose to have a relationship with Him.  

    I was excited to get in the car afterwards and talk to the kids about what they learned from the message.  I was amazed by everything Zoe soaked in.  She was quite intrigued with Jesus dying on the cross and even drew this in her little notebook.

    Dylan was very quiet during the service and I swear was going to fall asleep, but when I asked him what he learned his answer proved otherwise.
    "I learned that Jesus prayed while he was on the cross.  He prayed, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing." Luke 23:34

    WOW.  He actually memorized his first Bible verse.
    That was powerful to me.

    I can't wait to go back next Sunday and see what else we learn!

    So what did you learn this week?
    Don't forget to visit Musings of a Housewife to see what everybody else learned.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Budding Artist

    I'm the first to admit that my kids are very "plugged in" especially my 9yr old son.  He is never very far from his DSi and ask him about Wizard 101 and he'll talk to you for hours.  Throw Wii in there and yeah it adds up to a whole lot of screen time.  

    The other morning though, Dyl was very quiet so I sneaked into the playroom to see what he was up too.  This is what I found him doing.

    He loves to draw and he spent a good hour or so just tracing, free handing, and coloring in his pictures.  I was quite impressed with his artistic skills.  Now if only I could remember to get some pictures of his finished works!

    Survey Says

    Did you ever watch Family Feud?  As I wrote my title all I could hear was the announcer's voice saying "Survey Says" and hearing the clang as the answer turned.  Just had to share! Anyways...

    The other day I asked all my fabulous readers, to help me make A Box of Chocolates even better by completing a short survey.  I was thrilled to see the responses roll in.  I can't even begin to say how appreciative I am that so many of you took the time to answer some questions for me.  I know time is precious so thank you bunches for spending it on me!

    It was very interesting reviewing the results so thought I would share them.  A couple answers were especially surprising and I think I'll use them for some blog posts later since they would lead to some great blog discussions.  

    But for now here are the results.
    32 people took and completed the survey

    Here are the ten questions I asked:

    1. How did you find A Box of Chocolates? From another blog ranked number one with 43% of the votes, I visited their blog first was second with 25%, and Twitter with 22%. Memes/Carnivals also accounted for 9%.  What does this tell me?  If you want people to come visit you, you must get out there and participate!! 
    2. How do you read A Box of Chocolates? Not a big surprise here that 50% of my readers use a reader considering that is how I read all my favorites.  Visiting my blog directly through the website did receive 41% of the vote, with a small percentage of readers being email subscribers and reading through Facebook and my Networked Blog.
    3. Is my blog reader friendly? 81% of you said that everything looks fine (aren't you sweet), but 19% did say I needed to be careful because it was looking a little busy and 1 person suggested I spring clean.  I am excited to say that I do have something up my sleeve that I think everybody will like so stay tuned! 
    4. Rate the topics you enjoy reading about 1-10. Personal, family, and pictures were the top three.  Guess my life niche is working out for me! Then recipes, as a teacher, weight loss, running/fitness.  Wrapping it up was memes/carnivals, giveaways, and product reviews.  Glad to hear that you all care about me and my family more than the free stuff! 
    5. How often do you prefer I post? This questions had the most surprising results.  38% of my readers believe that consistency is not important. Isn't that interesting?  But, 31% said they would prefer 3-4 times a week.  That's doable!  22% said at least 1 time a week and one reader loves me so much they want me to post everyday! 
    6. How do you prefer I respond to your comments? Again, surprising results. 39% said they like me to visit them and comment there, while it was a three way tie with 29% each of readers who like my email reply, reply in the comment section on my blog, and those who could care less if I respond to their comment or not.  Usually I email reply to comments since all comments are emailed to my blog account.  If they don't have an email set up though then I try to visit their blog and comment there.  I rarely ever reply on my own blog, although I think I'm going to look for plug-ins to perhaps try it out.  You may see further discussion of this question on a future post where I ask for more help! 
    7. How do you feel about advertisements on my blog?You either don't care or give me two thumbs up so the advertisements are staying!

    The last two questions were open ended and the responses I received will lead to great blog fodder at some point.  

    The first question asked "What do you like about A Box of Chocolates", and I'm just going to say that if you ever need a bloggy pick me up send out a survey about what your readers like about your blog and you will feel so much better!  Thank you all for your sweet comments.  

    The other question asked, "What is one piece of advice or suggestion you have for A Box of Chocolates?" I loved that people were honest with their advice and gave me lots to think about.  A few definitely stimulated some ideas for making some minor changes around here.  Thank you for taking the time to constructively critique.

    Oh right, I almost forgot my #10 question: "What is your favorite kind of chocolate?"  Let's just say after reading those comments I had to bring out a towel to mop up the drool on the floor. 

    So that's what the survey said!
    I definitely recommend using a quick survey if you are interested in what your readers think about you and your blog.  It was very enlightening.  

    If you haven't taken my survey I still have it up and would love to have more responses so I can tackle that spring cleaning from #3.  You can find the link to the survey here.  I'm even offering some free chocolate, but hurry to enter because next Saturday will be the final day to win!

    Thank you again to all my readers who took the time to share their feedback.  You all ROCK!!

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Look in the Past to Plan the Future

    When the new year rolls around (yes, I do realize it's February, but go with it, ok?) I, like millions of others, focus on the resolutions. The other day I remembered that last year I had set some blog goals so I thought it may be fun to go back and actually see if I met any of them.

    Here were my 2009 Blog Resolutions:

    • Attempt to post daily providing me with an "out" and hopefully sparking conversations with you all. So I seemed to do just fine with this for most of the year, that is until I started the school year switching grades for the first time in 5 years.  I averaged between 27-48 posts from January to August.  September was when I fizzled out, with my lowest month ever of only 7 posts.  From then until last month my average was in the teens.  So I guess I did so-so that goal.
    • By writing thought provoking and entertaining posts earn more readers. It would be fantastic to hit the 300 subscriber mark by the end of 2009. I actually met this goal with 350-some subscribers now.  That is awesome!!  As far as the thought provoking and entertaining posts, I guess you my readers will have to be the judge of that.
    • Attend at least 1 blogger conference. I would love to attend Blissdom09 and/or BlogHer. Yeah, this was a big fat FAIL!  With the wonderful economy there just wasn't enough money to rationalize me attending a conference.  I am thrilled to say though that this year I am already signed up for 3 conferences.  I'll be attending Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore in the beginning of March, then FitBloggin10 in Baltimore the end of March, and (are you ready for this!!!), BLOGHER in NYC in August.  The great thing is that all three conferences are local so I don't have to pay for airfare which makes it much easier for me to afford.  I can't wait to meet some new bloggers and put faces with my fave blogs. *I'm looking for sponsors for the conferences so email me if you are interested*
    • Get my feet wet with some advertising on the blog. Thanks to Uprinting, SkinRx, Savvy Source, and Amazon Affiliates, I have gotten my feet wet.  Of course there is always room to grow here. *If you're interested in advertising over there on my sidebar, email me. I promise great rates!*

    • Find a happy medium between the blogosphere and real life!! (This is probably going to be my hardest). Definitely the hardest because I do remember times during the summer that I was frustrated with myself because I seemed to be letting the summer slip by as I sat behind the screen.  Slowly I think I got it more under control.  Then when school started it took a 180 as it seem like I was dealing so much with real life that blogging was left by the wayside.  I think this is one goal that honestly will always be a work in progress.  Life is all about juggling, sometimes all the balls seem to be in sync and other times they hit you on the head and all fall at your feet.  That's when you have to pick them up and toss them in the air and begin the act again.  It's all good!

    So not too shabby considering my hiatus for the end of last year.  I'm pretty proud of all I accomplished with my box of chocolates and excited to see where this year will take me and my blog.

    Do you set goals for your blog or website? Have you taken the time to go back and look to see which ones you have met and which ones are still a work in progress?

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    A Midday Person

    You always hear people declaring themselves either morning people or night people.  

    The morning people wake up at ungodly hours, without the alarm clock making them I may add, with a smile on their face ready to tackle the world.  They hum while they take their showers, get dressed in the first outfit they try on, and enjoy their first cup of coffee.  These people actually greet others with a "Good Morning" as they get up.  

    Definitely not a morning person.
    I grumble when the alarm clock goes off and want to throw it across my bedroom.  I stomp to the bathroom, mumbling complaints under my breath, to take my shower.  I then try on outfit after outfit because nothing looks right discarding garments all over my bed and bedroom floor.  Finally a million hours later, I am running late for work, as I run downstairs and gulp my coffee to rush out the door and begin the day.  Thank goodness that hubby and son fall into the morning person category above so they are usually up and moving.  Unfortunately, my daughter is my daughter and prefers you don't look at her let alone speak to her in the morning.  She is sure to grumble, whine, and yell if you do!

    Then on the other extreme there are the night owls.  These people are more productive at night after everybody else goes to bed.  They tuck their kids in bed, then clean the house, or do laundry, or spend the night on Twitter and Facebook.  They are wide-eyed at midnight, ready to talk and have fun.  

    Once upon a time if I had to choose between saying I was a morning or night person, I would go with the latter.  However, two kids, two degrees, and a teaching job later, not so much.  I consider it a huge accomplishment if I make it through all of Grey's Anatomy which ends at 10pm.  Forget it if there isn't something good on tv because you will probably find me asleep before my kids.  I'm talking 9pm at the latest.  Seriously, one time hubby said I needed to see somebody because I went to bed so early!

    So I'm not a morning person and I'm not a night person.
    Where does that leave me?
    I'm thinking going with a "midday person", that works.

    What about you?
    Are you a morning person? A night owl? or midday, like me?

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    What I Learned This Week - Bit by the Blog Bug


    Last week was when we were hit by Snowmageddon here in Delaware.  The feet of snow that fell on our beaches led to everything being shut down.  At first school closed for Monday and Tuesday, then it closed for Wednesday, then on Wednesday we got the call that we wouldn't be going back until today.  

    It was such a treat to be given a weeks vacation to hang out at home.  I enjoyed waking up late, staying in my pj's all day, playing with the kids, baking/cooking, reading, knitting, and even doing a little (and I do mean little) cleaning and organizing around the house.  

    But one of the best things about being off for a week was that I rediscovered my love of blogging.  This week I learned that I really missed writing on my blog, visiting my favorite bloggers, finding new blogs to read, and just the whole blogosphere.

    I loved spending mornings writing new posts.  I got to share our blizzard adventures, including the snowmen we made, and how the snow gave me a gift.  I confessed my fear of failing, and wrote a few posts about my experience with the Special K challenge too.  I was once again bitten with the blogging bug and now have a list on my phone and computer with post ideas.  I even have an idea for a weekly meme that I want to start hosting soon!

    With my renewed interest in all things blogging, I also decided it's time for some changes around this here blog of mine.  I've got a fresh design in the works and am super excited for you to see it.  Jo-Lynne from DCRdesigns is working with me to create a fantabulous new look.  At first I didn't want to change it till spring because the snowmen seems fitting for our weather lately, but as I keep seeing bits and pieces, I don't think I'm going to be able to wait that long. I just love makeovers!!

    In my effort to make my blog even better I'm also trying to see what my readers think about it.  I put together a quick, 10 question, survey to see what you all like and dislike think I can make better.  Would you help a blogger out and take the survey for me??? I'm even offering chocolate as an bribe incentive.

    So that's what I've learned this week.
    I've learned that I've missed my online community and I'm coming back!!

    What did you learn this week?

    Don't forget to visit Musings of a Housewife to see what everybody else learned.

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Un-Valentine Love Post

    Yesterday, I told you all how I don't really do Valentine's Day.  
    But, I also said that every day was a great day to say I love you.

    So today I decided will be my time to share with you all, and my hubby, what I love about him.

    So in no special order whatsoever, some things I love about my husband.

    I LOVE that...
    • he is my best friend!!
    • he believes in me.
    • he can fix everything.
    • he supports me and all my crazy endeavors.  
    • when I said I was going to run a 5K he didn't laugh in my face, but told me to start running. Then he waited for me at every finish line!
    • I can go shopping and he never asks how much I spent.
    • he gets that I need girl time and encourages me to go out with my girlfriends.
    • he just rolls his eyes when I ask him if he likes my new shoes.
    • he puts his family first.
    • he is an awesome, hands on daddy. I admit he may even be the better parent or at least the more fun one!
    • he is a great cook and
    • he doesn't expect me to make dinner every night, but will often tell me not to worry about it, that he'll make something when he gets home.
    • every week-morning he gets up to get the kids dressed and feeds them breakfast so I only have to worry about getting myself ready for school.
    • he tucks the kids in at night way more than I do.
    • he makes me laugh.
    • when I speak nonsense and can't complete a sentence he knows what I'm trying to say.
    • he can complete my sentences and always seems to know what I'm thinking.
    • he can tell me what I said when I swear he wasn't listening to me at all.
    • everybody loves him including my family, friends, neighbors, and the random people who start talking to him when we are out and about.
    • even though he doesn't "get the whole blogging thing" he leaves me alone to write posts, listens to me when I talk about my bloggy friends, and just smiles when I tell him I'm going to drive 2 hours to visit other bloggers.
    • he loves me as I am, unconditionally!!
    Honestly, I think this list could go on and on and on, but I don't want him to start thinking too much of himself.  It's never a good thing to have a cocky husband!  Besides, I did say that every day was a good day to say I love you so I gotta keep some reasons for tomorrow.

    To sum it up...
    well except how you can't seem to find the clothes hamper, leave diet coke cans everywhere, can be a know-it-all (even if you do know-it-all), can lack tact big time...hmmm now that I think about it this could be a whole other post!

    Have you told your special somebody how much you love them and why?
    Well what are you waiting for?

    Special K Challenge (The End)

    So after my first week completing the Special K challenge I was down 2 pounds.  Not to bad, huh???  I was pretty pleased considering that it was relatively easy to follow the plan.  During that week I admit that I didn't complete any exercise other than my normal daily routines of cleaning, laundry, and walking around school at work.  

    I decided to go ahead and try it out for the second week so I went out and purchased some more Special K products like what became my most favorite cereal, the Special K Fruit and Yogurt cereal and my chocolate fix snack, the Chocolatey Pretzel Bar

    Every day I had either cereal or waffles for breakfast, cereal or a protein shake for lunch, two snacks, and then a Weight Watcher point friendly dinner. 

    Confession time.
    When I say "every day" in that last statement I have to confess that was every day I went to work.  If you have watched any weather these last two weeks then you probably know that here in Delaware we have been buried by snow.  This has caused multiple snow days, which then resulted to my failing the challenge on some days.  I would like to say I tried my best to stay with the challenge on those days, but I would be lying because I know if I had tried my best I would have stayed with it.  But, instead I made pancakes, baked cookies, ate snow cream, toasted s'mores, and pretty much gave up on the challenge. 

    So it wasn't a surprise when I weighed in on week two and only lost 1 pound. Or maybe it was a surprise because I totally thought I would have gained.  Maybe the days I actually completed the challenge helped to counteract the snow days.  

    So after two weeks on participating in the challenge, one week full on and one week not so much, I was down 3lb.  Not the 6lb in 2 weeks, but I was okay losing 3.

    So will I take the challenge again?
    I'm figuring once we shovel out from all this snow and get back to our daily routine I'm going to give it another shot.  It really was so easy to follow with such great things to eat that it would be silly not too.  It obviously worked when I was following it, and I'm curious to see what may happen if I add some exercise too. I want to complete the full two week challenge!

    Would I do this long term?
    No, because I'm sure it would grow old after awhile.

    Will I be incorporating Special K products into my Weight Watchers plan?
    Absolutely.  I've tried some yummy and point friendly foods while participating in the challenge and I look forward to buying them again.

    Some of my fave Special K products:
    Fruit Crisps
    Chocolatey Pretzel Bar
    Fruit and Yogurt Cereal
    Red Berries Cereal
    All the cereal bars

    What are some of your favorite Special K products? I'll look for them next time I'm at the store stocking up for my next challenge!

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Every Day is a Perfect Day for Love

    While I'm usually a big holiday person, I don't really do Valentine's Day.

    Don't get me wrong I love the idea of going out for a fancy adult only dinner, getting jewelry, flowers, and hello, chocolate, but I don't like that Hallmark has decided that it must take place on this one special day.  

    Kisses, hugs, and spending time with the people we love should take place every day.   

    Every day is a perfect day to say I LOVE YOU!

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    Special K Challenge (part two)

    After receiving my box of goodies and deciding to go ahead and attempt the Special K challenge, I figured I better read up a little on what exactly the challenge was.  I knew there was cereal involved which was fine by me because honestly I could eat cereal for all three meals a day.  I know, I know, that is not at all healthy since it misses out on the food groups, but just saying that I could. 

    So I figured that the best place to find the skinny, pun intended, on the challenge was to head to Special K. That's where I found the instructions.  Seemed simple enough:
    • Breakfast: Cereal and fruit, protein shake, or waffles 
    • Lunch: Same choices as breakfast or a protein meal bar 
    • Dinner:  A regular dinner (I assumed they meant a normal, healthy dinner, not a buffet with unlimited dessert)
    • Snacks: 2 anytime throughout the day, snack bars, fruit crisps, cereal bar, protein water mix, or crackers (you can also enjoy fruits and veggies)
     Well thanks to what I had received from my package I was ready to start the next day.  
    • For breakfast I went with the cereal, milk, and a banana.  I chose the Special K red berries cereal which was delicious. I was leery about dried fruit in my cereal, but when the milk hit them I was amazed at how yummy the strawberries were.  
    • Lunch was another bowl of cereal and milk. This time I tried the Special K granola and loved it too.  It was very crunchy, slightly sweet, and made me feel like I was eating something filling.  
    • Then for my two snacks I had the fruit crisps in the morning and an apple in the afternoon. I have to tell you that the fruit crisps became my absolute favorite Special K product.  Think better-for-you Pop Tart.  I don't know how Kellogg's did it, but somehow they made the fruit crisps so crisp that when you take them out of the package they are like PopTarts after they have been toasted, which is exactly how I prefer them.  Delicious!!  
    • For dinner I ate with the family.  Since hubby and I are both online Weight Watcher subscribers our meals are pretty point friendly to begin with so I figured I was okay with our regular dinner meals.  

    Pretty great first day on the challenge.  Honestly, I was not hungry at all which was surprising because sometimes when I eat cereal I do get hungry before lunch time.  However, knowing I had two snacks available made it easier because I planned to just eat one while my students had their snacks and then save the other for the horrible snack attack I always get around 3pm. It worked!  I felt satisfied all day and was looking forward to trying it again the next day.

    As I said earlier, I am a Weight Watchers subscriber and still tracked while participating in the challenge.  The challenge fit perfectly with my Weight Watchers program as most of the products kept me within my daily allowance points.  My dinners continued to be Weight Watcher's friendly as I completed the challenge.

    Disclosure: I received Special K products to taste test, but chose to complete the Special K challenge on my own.  I am not receiving any monetary or product compensation for posting about my experience.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    A Gift in the Snow

    My twitter stream and facebook updates have been inundated with talk about the snow that has buried us here in Delaware.

    Throughout the past week the talk has taken on multiple tones.  At first there was excitement at the thought of getting a real snowstorm (well at least from those of us who actually like snow, for others their tone never changed throughout the storms, they hated it from the first forecast!).  Then there was a slightly concerned tone as we were told we would be measuring snowfall in feet and grocery stores ran out of milk and eggs.  The excitement eventually came back around though as people got off work, families built snowmen, and everybody was busy taking pictures of the gorgeous scenery that surrounded us.

    That was the first snowstorm.
    The one that left us with between 1-2ft.
    Then came the forecast of another storm.
    Another storm for the record books.
    Another storm to possibly be measured in feet.

    This time the excitement was there for only a select few.  Most skipped right to the concerned tone as they hunted for groceries, prepared to lose power, and wondered where they were going to put the new snow they were going to have to shovel.  As one snow day turned into two, then three, then the rest of the week, and half of the next, people began to become frantic.  You could hear panic in their posts as people started questioning when they were going to be able to leave their houses, get away from their kids, and back to their normal lives.

    The snow had made us all STOP!
    We couldn't go to work, make that meeting, attend the school functions, or run to dance/music/sports practice.  There were no lunch dates or dinners out.  The world had stopped spinning for a few precious days and we didn't know how to function.

    For me, I didn't have anything to really complain about.  We had food, water, heat, and electricity so life was pretty good.  We spent days in front of the fireplace, playing Wii and board games, making snow cream and popcorn in a pan, baking cookies, and cooking real dinners.  We painted, built Lego creations, and played with blocks.  I was entertained by a princess, puppet shows, dance routines, magic tricks, and jokes.  Of course there was movie night too where we all sat on the couch, in total darkness, eating popcorn and candy, while laughing together.

    Now I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit there was also a lot of time spent twittering, blogging, facebooking, and reading for me.  Computer games, cartoons, and Nintendo DS's for the kiddos.  Of course there were fights, yelling, tears, and timeouts.  I mean, hello, we were stranded in our house with now escape!   

    But, God gave me a wonderful gift this week.

    A gift that forced me to stop, slow down, and do nothing, but enjoy the blessings that are right in front of me. 

    And even though it came with some bickering, whining, and stir-craziness, I wouldn't return this gift for the world!

    This post included in Real Life’s Your Life Your Blog

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    I Will NOT Be a Broken Record

    I've planned this post in my head multiple times.  I've started this post, deleted it, started it, deleted it, too many times to count, but today is the day I'm hitting publish.  

    Today is the day I'm putting it all out here.
    Today is the day I'm facing the truth and sharing it with you.
    Today is the day that I put the past in the past and focus on the future.
    Today is the day that I'm refusing to be a broken record, but instead I'm going to be a shiny new CD.
    Ok so that was a bit cheesy.  Sorry, got a little carried away.

    Today is the day that I begin documenting my final weight loss journey. It's taking everything in my power not to type the word "again" at the end of that statement, but I refuse.  I'm putting the past failed attempts behind me and focusing only on the road in front of me.  

    After losing over 40lb, three years ago, I became to comfortable with where I was even though I never got to my final goal weight.  Then I started to get lazy with my eating and over the last 6 months have gained about 13lb putting me over 150.  Weighing myself after Christmas and seeing 153 on the scale was a huge slap in the face, when a year ago I had been right at 140.  I had told myself that I would never become one of those people who worked so hard losing a lot of weight only to gain it right back.  

    And I refuse to be!

    In January, I resigned up to Weight Watchers, which was how I lost my original 40.  For me, Weight Watchers works because it holds me accountable for what I'm eating while not having to "give up" any of my favorites.  Instead I learn how to manage what I'm eating.  

    I'm thrilled to be able to share with you that I've lost 6lb since the beginning of the New Year.  Wahoo!!  I'm finally fitting back into some of my clothes that I was avoiding and feeling better about myself.  I still have 17lb to go to reach my final goal weight, but I'm ready to take it on.  I can see the end of the tunnel and I am determined to reach it.  I'd absolutely love to get there before spring break in April, but think that may be unreasonable so maybe a better, and more fun, goal would be to be below 132 by the time I turn 32?!  

    Below 132 pounds, before 32 years...
    yeah that has a bit of a ring too it, don't ya think?

    Wordless Wednesday - Building Snowmen

    Don't forget to visit 5minutesformom to see other Wordless Wednesday pix!

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    What I Learned This Week - Snowmaggedon Edition

    It's been awhile since I've participated in Jo-Lynn's weekly carnival, but now that I'm getting my blogging groove back, I thought it would be a great way to meet some new bloggers and maybe get some new people to come by and say hello.

    If you are one of the very few who don't own a tv or radio haven't heard this past week we have experienced, what people are calling, Snowmageddon here in Delaware. Two weekends ago we got almost a foot, then this past weekend another foot (some places almost 2 feet), and today we are bracing for another storm coming in this evening through tomorrow with what could be another foot. So in honor Snowmageddon, I thought I'd share with you all what I learned about blizzards in Delaware.

    • Anything that you need to know about what's happening with the weather can be found on Facebook and Twitter. Forget the weather channel. Instant updates directly from the people who are experiencing it. Traffic information, precipitation news, closures, openings, meal plans, snow activities for kids, ways to keep your's all there. Love my social media!
    • Everybody makes French Toast when there is a snowstorm in Delaware, hence the disappearance of all milk, eggs, and bread immediately following talk that there is a blizzard on its way. (Actually this happens with the announcement of 2-4" so I'll leave to your imagination what the forecast of a foot of snow meant for the local grocery stores).
    • Some people truly believe that we still live in the good ol' days where the supplies may not be able to get in for weeks because of the snow.
    • Large amounts of snow make me very unproductive,
    • except when it comes to eating. I'm very productive at eating everything in site.
    • Blizzards are NOT good when you are trying to lose weight.
    • Don't buy property on a secondary road in Delaware unless you also buy a truck with a snow plow. If you lose power it could be days before it is restores because you know, you live on a secondary road.
    • Invest in a husband who lovingly will head out into the blistery wind and blowing snow to clear the driveway. Never mind because he really wants to play with the snow blower he borrowed from his dad. Boys and their toys.
    • If a husband is not an option, then invest in a good snow shovel along with Advil, wine (you may not want to use them both at once), and bubble bath. Show the world that you don't need a man!
    • The most important thing I've learned though is that I still LOVE snow days. I sit anxiously at my computer refreshing the state school closing website waiting to see my district listed, then hoot and holler when it finally shows up. I enjoy being at home with my own kiddos playing in the snow, making snow cream, watching movies, playing board games, oohhing and aahhing over Lego creations, artistic masterpieces, and new dances just choreographed. Getting up when I want rather than when the alarm says too, only to put on my pj's for the day...bliss! Oh yes, I am still in love with snow days.
    If you were lucky enough to experience Snowmageddon with me this week, what did you learn??

    Don't forget to visit Musings of a Housewife to see what everybody else learned this week and then join in the fun by posting your own lessons so we can come by and visit you too!

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    A Before and After Look at Snowmen

    Two weekends ago we were thrilled with the 10" of snow that we received in the biggest snowstorm that Dave and I have ever experienced in our 11 years of living in Delaware. The kids and I spent one of our two snow days building some snowman. Aren't they cute?

    Then this past weekend we were hit with an even bigger blizzard. This was a picture I snapped when the snow was still coming down on Saturday. They're drowning...

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Superbowl Sunday - Bring on the Food

    For some this Sunday means a battle between the best of the best.
    This year that would be the battle between the Saints and the Colts.
    Football fans put on their, what are those things again, oh yeah jerseys and then make plans to get together with other football fan friends to watch the teams battle it out.

    For me Superbowl means a battle too, but not of football teams...
    of commercials and food!!

    I always enjoy planning Superbowl dinner and this year is no different.
    We're planning on make your own pizza night with everybody making a personal pizza with the toppings of their choice. Personally, I'm thinking half pineapple and ham and the other tomato, basil, and mozzarella. I think I'm skipping the sauce and just opting for some olive oil. Of course Superbowl, wouldn't be Superbowl with chips and something to dip it in. We're going for the chips and salsa or in my case guacamole. Mmmm. I just may or may not be salivating as I write this.

    Then it's indulging in the food while watching the best part of the game...the commercials. Wonder what's going to make me laugh this year? Gotta say the beer commercials usually win hands down.

    So what are you doing for Superbowl? Any special munchies you will be enjoying? Commercials you can't wait to see?

    Oh and just for the record...GO SAINTS!! I'm always rooting for the underdog unless the Ravens were there, then it would all be about the purple!!

    Gone Fishing??

    Anybody want to join us?

    Saturday, February 6, 2010

    Blizzard Begins

    The weathermen began to talk about the "big blizzard" at the beginning of the week. All the hype began with the forecast of the "biggest storm we've seen in a long time", "won't be measuring snowfall in inches, but feet", a storm that "you better stock up for."

    Needless to say in Delaware where the snow barely falls and an inch will close schools, people began panicking. Word was that by Thursday evening if you didn't have milk then you were out of luck. That went for eggs and bread too, cause you know everybody gets that urge to make French Toast in a snowstorm.

    Friday we headed to school and received the gift of early dismissal by 11:30am. However, there wasn't a snowflake to be found anywhere in Delaware. I took advantage of early dismissal to go hunting for some snow boots that would be tall enough for all the snow that was about to bury us. Forget the grocery store...priorities people, must shop for shoes first. I was thrilled when I discovered these at the Bass outlet.

    The tiny little flakes started falling around 3, but didn't really stick very well at first. This was our back yard by 8pm. The snow you see was left over from our storm last weekend where we got about 10". Over by the tree on the right you can see the grass and a dusting from the new storm.

    Flash forward to waking up this morning to the sleet hitting the outside of my bedroom wall. I was disappointed to see that instead of the white stuff it was nothing but freezing rain. However, I was soon to become much happier. Since about noon it's been quite the blizzard outside, with blowing snow. This is the same picture as above taken around 4 this afternoon.

    Dave and the kids decided to brave the blizzard so they bundled up to head out for a bit.

    Of course, I couldn't miss out on capturing some pictures for the blog and Facebook the fun so I bundled up too. So what if it was for a whole 5 minutes. I managed to get a few shots...

    Zoe thought that inside a pine tree was the perfect place to hide from the blowing snow.

    Oh and did I mention it is coming down strong?!
    To be continued...

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