Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Look honey - I need an iPAD for educational purposes!

Seriously, I am lucky to work for probably one of the world's best companies. (I know many of you are gagging right now, for the overt brown nosing).
Anyway, recently, the company, Esri, released a very cool application for iPhone and iPad devices. This blog is written with teaching kids in mind, but anyone can use it and it's a cool little step through. So, put down that Facebook application you are all addicted to and try this one out for fun!

Friday, August 20, 2010


I can't help myself. I'm just infatuated with the horrible state of eating in this country. Check out this recent Time magazine article. 27% of Americans are obese? We eat 220 lbs. per year of meat? 14% of Americans only eat the recommend five servings of fruits and vegetables per day?

Gads, people. Instead of wallowing in our access, why can't we be green about our eating? Maybe have that card-deck sized peice of chicken with dinner instead of a 16 oz. steak?

This and living overseas where people eat so many more grains, fruits and veggies really makes me be aware of eating behaviors I'm modeling for my children. Rice and beans are a complete protein. Quinoa, a fancy new popular seed, is also packed with protein. Avacodoes - probably one of nature's most perfect food, especially when combined with some garlic salt, my friend's chili sauce and accompanied by a crisp tortilla chip.

I'm not a perfect eater and my size is evident of that - I can stand to loose a good 20 el bees,.. and I'm trying, but I'm not going to give up beer to do it. I don't care if beer is a carb.

So, anyway, besides this whole crazy food problem this country has, and some of my friends taking me to task on my grocery bill, I'm going to try and lay it on the line. It's possible to eat healthily and not break the bank!

Okay - this week I spent more than usual since I bought brautwurst and homemade pretzel's at the local German deli and did some 'investment' shopping. I spent $30ish at the Deli, $29 at the local food coop and then $109 at the local grocer for the week.

Now, the Deli accounts for almost half my usual grocery bill spending - so that was a splurge! But worth it, lemme tell you.

The food coop - this week we took home the small box of organic fruits and veggies, some figs, a watermelon, and blueberries. I don't always go to the coop - this weekend, I'm too busy to even think about the hour it takes me to go there, pick up and come back, even if I save time by shopping online. And some weeks, the boxes (the cheapest way to get fresh produce) has stuff I don't care for - for example, I've never met a radish I liked.

And I don't always buy healthy. But then again, I don't think a box of Cocoa Puffs ever killed anyone. This week's investment shopping included the healthy stuff like grapes for $79/pound, cantelope each for $1 (good, since I had to bring a fruit platter to preschool), frozen veggies for 1.25 for a bag, no sugar kid's applesauce for lunches at 1.50 each (usually 2.99 each) - I bought 6 of them - Progresso Minestrone soups (again, 6 cans) at .49 instead of the usual $2.49 (and trust me, we won't be eating these anytime soon in this 100 degree weather), but the other stuff - Cookie Crisp cereal for .99 and Lucky Charms for 1.99 instead of the usual 3.99. Keebler chips cookies for 1.49 instead of the usual 4.49. Yogurts - Danimals, Fiber One and YoPlus - all 4 counts for only $1.00 each. And totally gross? Fruit Gushers becaue they were only .24 each (Instead of the usual 2.99) and while the kids love the things, I can't stand them. I can't say the same for the M&M's I bought (buy two, get one free) for "cooking purposes." Yeah, right. I got FiberOne Bars for free. Groceries that should have cost me $233 were only $109. And so it goes.

I did buy milk, but no meat this week. Because we are in football season we have the forced luxury of slow cooked meals - which means purchasing that less expensive cut of meat that needs to be simmered forever to make it gnawable - stews, roasts, pulled porks and the like. Chicken soup with only two chicken breasts. (note to self - stop using whole wheat pasta - it doesn't hold up. No wonder my smart Grandma only used egg noodles.).

I bought a $10 waffle maker at Target and make waffles most every morning. I do splurge on real maple syrup. Instead of the fake stuff made in a lab, the real stuff has good benefits for you. Which I didn't appreciate as a kid spending time at my Grandparent's house and their 100s of acres of maple trees,.. I was sick of that maple flavor for a long time. Now, what I'd give for a handpacked box of that syrup! Honey, too is a good deal - a spoonful for kids who are coughing; as a sweetener for other times.

I hope this starts a discussion - I'm so interested in others' successes with grocery shopping and feeding families. Please share!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Virtual Book Tour!

So, I've done something distinctly terrifying and signed up for a virtual book tour! Check it out - I'm actually listed, which means I have a deadline, which means I have to actually do something. Like read. Spruce this place up. We'll be having visitors, ya'll. I might have to spell check every now and again. Link to more recent stuff I've written. Clean the dead links off my sidebar. Maybe put on a new template (does this one make me look fat?)

I haven't read the book yet, it's not out yet. I'm getting it unbound in the mail from the publisher. I'm excited. As you should know, I'm a big fan of others who write in this type of book - Father Edward Beck and his buddy Anne Lamott.

But really - do you think the powers that be at Catholic Blogger have actually read my blog? Because I'm feeling a little insecure in my current company,...

Well, here's to being Catholic realist! Cheers to my blog!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dinner with no pants

That about describes it, yes, it does. What dinner is like in this household now that football is in full swing.

Hubby and I like to watch our three boys practice during their Junior All American Football practices and since there are three of them on three different fields, the time goes fast. Even though we are in some semblance on that field for the five nights they are practicing, never does one son ever feel like we are there enough.

That is really pointed out to me every time I go over to watch the 9 year old play - it's as though he's always watching out of the corner of his eye to see if a parent cares enough to spend some time visiting his practice. He always waves, no matter where he is - in the middle of a huddle, supposedly listening to the coach, running. Always looking and hoping mom and dad will come and make him the most important kid for a few minutes.

So, there are a lot of adjustments that have to be made to the running of the household to watch practices - and we are by no means 'helicopter parents.' I feel like hubby and I are in a relay race most nights.

First, it's trying to maintain our health just to keep up with the kids. Since school started, I've been shut out of any morning exercise classes at my gym. The girls are really too heavy for that jogging stroller. That leaves night time to either run forever or go on the Concept 2 rowing machine aka torture device. Hubby and I take turns working out, packing supplies and driving boys to practice.

Girls are entertained at the field by other little kids, the snack bar and two fully packed back packs. We pack lunch boxes with a semblance of healthy food since dinner isn't eaten until 8:30 at night.

Dinners are prepared in crockpots, rice cookers, and bread machines. Or a bag of prepared salad is tossed on the table with a Costco sized bottle of ranch and dinner is announced.

There is a revolving mass around the table of sweating, stinky socked boys flinging uniforms off, taking turns in showers and shoving food in their mouths. Little girls singing at the top of their lungs from the sugar high of the redvines purchased 10 for $1 from the snack bar, or the cute little girls I can't say no to, hawking M&Ms to pay for their travel soccer teams.

Last night I didn't realize that the nine year old was wearing a shirt and absolutely nothing else to the dinner table until he bent over to put his plate in the dishwasher. I'd really prefer to eat my meals with people who wear pants.

Then, the middle one asks for juice and the older one responds that he "can't have any because it's only for kids who weren't adopted." Brotherly love.

We finally wrestle wringling children into bed by 9:30, make sure dogs have water, pay bills, clean up the kitchen, start another load in the wash. I have about 5 minutes to do something relaxing, like attempt to read my book, before I just throw in the towel and go into blissful sleep until the next morning at 4am for hubby and 5am for me, when our days start and the preparation for football practice looms on the horizon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Shop and Eat Locally

This is turning into a foodfest, eh?

I finally had the chance to watch the movie Food, Inc. that everyone is raving about. I've read both the authors who were interviewed and love both their books. I truly believe in eating fresh, simple ingredients for healthier living. I've felt this way a long time, maybe it's because of the different countries I've lived in. I did indulge in my $7.00/box poptarts once in a while in Egypt, but sustained myself and my family by making friends with and shopping at the local markets. (so much so, in fact that when my parents came to visit, the fruit and vegetable man - who has a donkey cart and sits outside on the pavement next to the small grocery - took my dad aside and told him not to worry, he thought of me as his own daughter.) I learned to cook rice pilaf, koshari, and sheshtawak, although not very well.

One thing that was fascinating to me in the movie (as a marketing person, I know, shame on me,..) was watching the segment on Walmart in the film. Then I was having a conversation with my friends on the food issue and we debated Walmart's motives in the whole organic market. My friend commented she doesn't trust the commercial giant. I've been thinking about that a lot lately - didn't Walmart specify that they were invested in organic, that their milk was hormone free, and the Stonybrook yogurt guy loves them? And don't I just love the guy on the Walmart commercial who is always dropping prices for me?

Then, as I'm furiously preparing my Sunday shopping list (yes, I know it's Tuesday) I run across this blog from my very favorite Grocery Game. Lesson? No matter what it entails - finances, your children's education, your health, your food - you are the only person who cares as much as you do. Take control. I don't shop at Walmart - further away than my two local grocers and I really only have time to choose the one with the best deals of the week - the horrible lack of service, although I was considering it. Now I'm happy to see that it looks like I've made a good decision and stick with my plan. After careful consideration, of course.

Friday, August 13, 2010

You Are Where You Live

I love it when work and life meet once in a while - it makes me feel less schizo and more like I'm trekking down some sort of good path. This is one example - using maps and data for a more healthy lifestyle. It has a lot to do with where you live and you'll find interesting tools here to help - everything from access to pollen count information, to skin cancer ratings to what lovely toxins you are inhaling in your morning walk.
When I first moved to sunny SoCal, having the air rating as part of the weather was rather odd to me. And the fact that many days were rated 'dangerous' and you should lock yourself indoors and not exert yourself when outdoors, was shocking. Weeks would go by when I was afraid to walk to the mailbox.
These days I'm resigned and have inherited the motto from the Stella Beer company in Cairo, Egypt: 'That Which Does Not Kill You, Makes You Stronger,.."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Signing off to take care of a closet

This is my last post. As a 40 year old. Tomorrow begins yet another exciting year, I am sure. Resolutions for my new year? Anger management. Loose that baby weight (the babies are now 13, 10, 9, 4 and 2, I'd say it's about time). Learn to relax.

Which is tough to do hear that people are dreaming about you. No, unfortunately it wasn't the Naked Chef. I was talking to my mother-in-law and she told me, "I had a dream you were pregnant again." To which I responded, "Was I crying?"

Don't get me wrong. I obviously love babies. Or am starting a hoarding habit beginning with children (perhaps I'll move to kittens later in life?) But let's be realistic - I am well on my way to that five-oh mark and I've got bigger fish to fry in the stressed-out-about-my-kids department. I need to extract myself from worrying about temper tantrums and time outs and begin to fret about sexting and how to deflect kids who want to borrow my BMW.

Let's talk hoarding for a moment. I think I know how it starts. It starts with overworked mothers who don't have time to dust or put stuff away. It's starting with my closet. I'll be the first to admit I have no organizational skills; that is why I married an engineer. A few of his techniques have rubbed off on me without me realizing it - I can pack a mean suitcase and Costco cart. But that's pretty much where it ends.

I am so bad at straight corners and proper placement that I actually did have a conversation with my better organized half that the fact that I don't fold his shirts nicely is not because I don't love him, but in fact, because I am lacking those particular genetic qualities.

So this closet thing - I have about a three foot pile of clothes that need to be hung in the closet. (misnamed as a walk-in closet.) I can't get into said closet because I have a jumble of clothes spread willy-nilly that will fit one of the five kids at some point, but not right at this moment, a few piles of clothes that I did fit into once in my life and I swear it will happen again, and shoes spread everywhere because small girls like to try them on and fling them haphazardly into the open (but stuffed) maw of the closet.

I am limited to this three foot pile of clothes at the moment, until I find a time when I can thoroughly gut the closet and replace the clothes. But I get distracted by acting like a heat seeking missile sniffing out dirty socks hidden in crevices in the other rooms of the house, or painstakingly separating barbie accoutrements from legos from Disney Princess dress up from play kitchen food, etc,.. etc,.. and so on and so on.

The three foot pile of clothes is a monster. It is shameful to me that the garage has an old car, fifty million ride on toys, a four foot santa and can be walked through without fear of dismemberment, unlike my closet.

I'm going to find that camping headlamp and a few lawn bags. Please send re-enforcements if I don't post in a week.