Archives for August 2010

Weekly Winners, Mackinac Island Style

=-\Though I’ve lived in Michigan for what feels like a hundred million years, there’s still a lot of it I haven’t seen. Case in point – this weekend was the first time I’d been to Mackinac Island. There are no cars on the island – so we spent a lot of time on our feet, walking – though we took a tour by horse-drawn carriage (horses pee A LOT, bee tee dub). Some people rode bikes – and there is no shortage of places where you can rent bikes… however it’s hard to carry a camera bag and ride a bike (Well, unless your bike has a basket. I guess that was a possibility. I could have gotten a baskety bike. But face it, I’m not really a bike-rider kind of girl. I’m kind of clumsy).

No cars on the island AT ALL. Bikes and horses and your very own feet are the primary modes of transportation.

I have never seen so many Adirondack chairs in my life.

The island really is pretty.


Sunrise on Mackinac Island. Two mornings of this beautiful sight was filling to my soul.

Island tour, here i come.

Watching the sunset while eating an ice cream cone. I could get used to that.

For more WEEKLY WINNERS, visit Lotus.

Thursday Ten: Marrow Is SO Pretty Edition

1. Several months ago, I signed up for the National Marrow Donor Program. This week, I received a preliminary call telling me I might be a match. The next steps are to fill out a questionnaire about my health (done) and then they’ll decide if they need to do further blood screening to see if I’m similar enough with the recipient to be a donor. And so, I’m waiting to see right now – even though the thought of having a needle poked into my bones doesn’t sound so fun, I’ll be thrilled if I can give some of my marrow (which I’m sure is VERY ATTRACTIVE) to someone who needs it. Joining the registry is EASY, and if you feel so inclined – please take the time to sign up. The first steps include a super easy cheek swab – you can do it.

2. It’s apparently National Dog Day. My dog is howling outside my window as I type this. We shelled out the bucks to fence in our yard so that he has a secure place to run around. He doesn’t run around though. He basically hovers under the deck. That’s alright though. His splint is off and his puny little chicken leg is on the mend. He’s still VERY high energy – so that fresh outside air will do him some good.

3. My friends from P & G sent me a bottle of their NEW Downy to try and I’m gearing up to try Clean Sheet Week. My favorite part of laundry is having clean sheets – but that clean sheet feeling is gone too soon. Bums me out. So, I’ve got a bottle of April Fresh Downy that was given to me so that I could try this out. I’ll change my sheets and start my test in the next couple of days. I’ll keep you posted.

4. New music this week… I’ve been listening to Chris Blake – who I’ve stumbled over on Twitter. His new EP, “Girl” is available on iTunes – and I bought it this week (He doesn’t love me enough to send me free music, which is okay – because it’s totally worth the dinero to just buy it). I also love the YouTube vid he posted below – though the song in this vid is not from the new EP (but it IS on iTunes, so… y’know… clickety click). I love some of the regrets listed – especially the person who should have gotten their ingrown toenail fixed. Yeah.

5. Last night, my friend and I went to a nearish middle school to photograph her daughter’s cheer squad for their team pictures. It’s been (ahem) a few years since we donned the polyester skirts (GO FIGHT WIN!), and it was a bit of a slap in the (wrinkly) face that it’s been 16 years (ugh) since we were in high school. What a huge difference in teens today from teens back in OUR day (get off my lawn). I still think my mom should count her blessings I was a teen in the age of grunge: big flannel shirts and baggy jeans. Certainly not a fashion trend that did me any favors – but it probably eased many a mother’s mind.

6. Yesterday, The Princess made sugar cookies while the Mother’s Helper was here. Don’t tell her I told you this but… they are like giant white hockey pucks. Hubs told me later that she was pretty disappointed with herself that she doesn’t make cookies “as good as mommy’s”. He told her it would take practice – and that I probably didn’t start out being able to make phenomenal cookies (Which is kind of untrue – my cookies? They’ve always been good. It’s just a curse. I make good cookies).

7. Netflix has an iPhone app? BRING IT ON. Our Wii has been acting very weird lately (as in, it just won’t turn on. At all. No power, no nuffin’). We thought the sucker was a goner. Nope – just a very cranky power cord, AC adapter thingamabobber. Til we get that replaced though, it’s nice to know that I can livestream Season One Prison Break on my phone (oh Wentworth Miller, I have missed you).

8. Started doing the Shred with a large group of virtual friends this week. This is Day 4. I think (they’re all starting to run together). I still love the Shred, though. Can’t deny – the stuff works. And it’s funny – because when working with personal trainers, I respond more to the Bob Harper type (encouraging, nice, tell me about your feelings) – not the drill sergeant type. But she’s not that way in the DVD, and my abs already look nicer, so YAY JILLIAN. I’ll ignore your overuse of the word “buddy” if you keep making my muscles look nice.

9. Speaking of muscles – the 100 Pushup Program is still in effect. I have NOT given up yet. I did a test the other day and can do 50 pushups without stopping. I eked out those last few reps, just to hit 50 – and then sat in the middle of the room in complete awe. I really have no idea how I’m going to get to 100 though. That just seems like a lot. But, I’m DETERMINED to do it.

10. Gearing up to get these kids back in school – just when I thought I had ALL the school supplies I needed…. I get another list. The Princess’s teacher has requested specific colored two-pocket folders. I guess the dude is going to be the persnickety type. Back to the store I go.

Music Review: Alpha Rev “New Morning”

One of my favorite things to review is music – partly because I’m a music junkie (my iPod or other music delivery device is never far from me) and partly because there’s no clear cut answer as to whether music is good or bad. Music is so subjective that there’s truly a lid for every pot — and if I love it, you might not.

I hope, however, from all the time you’ve spent hanging around these pages you have figured the kind of music that floats my boat — and you can see if my tastes and yours intersects at any juncture.

When I review music, I’m actually pretty methodical about it. I’m not “grading” based on technical gritty stuff — I’m not trained in all the whoosy-whatsit kind of stuff. Instead, I judge with my gut: Do I like this song? Then, I give each song one to five stars (iTunes makes this super easy), and I average it all out.

I’m such a nerd.

So, if you take a look at the above, you can see what I thought of ALPHA REV’S album “New Morning”. I’ve talked about their song, “New Morning” before. That was the first cut I heard from this group, and as you can see, the first on the album. I really love this song – melodically, it appeals to me.

Like the song “New Morning” there are several tracks that stand out for me – “Phoenix Burn” and “When Did I Wake Up”, for example. This album has definite highs and lows – and there are songs that don’t appeal to me as much.

If you’ll remember, this is a band that is being compared to Coldplay – who I don’t love – so… I expected some songs that didn’t appeal to me as much as the first two songs.

I’d give this album about a 3.5 on a scale of 5 (if I’m being persnickety, if I were to average out my stars, it’s about 3.36, but I’ll round up). While I don’t love the album in its entirety, there are several songs that are frequently played additions to my music library.

I did receive a free copy of this album for review, but the opinions and nerdiness are as always, solely my own.

Weekly Winners – Week Ending 8.21.10

I didn’t have an exciting trip to Chicago to make my weekly winners for the week more visually appealing, but there were some big events – including an anniversary (ahem), my grandfather’s birthday and (DRUM ROLL PLEASE!) the puppy got his splint off!

You can't beat starting your day with a gorgeous pink sky

Coloring at the birthday dinner for her great-grandpa

There was to be no exchange of gifts and yet... anniversary Chucks

He's kind of wobbly and unsure, but how fabulous to have that splint off!

For more Weekly Winners, visit Lotus and check out the awesome shots on her site, as well as the amazing participants.

The Return of Nanny McPhee – In Theaters Today

Confession: I never saw the original Nanny McPhee movie.

When I was contacted to see if my family wanted to go see the sequel, “Nanny McPhee Returns” I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. We’d seen the trailers and Pumpkin went gaga over the pigs (you can watch the trailers HERE), but Nanny McPhee (small c, big P) was an unknown entity for me.

I am undecided on Emma Thompson, but I’m a huge Maggie Gyllenhaal fan (even though I couldn’t make myself watch “Crazy Heart” all of the way through).  [TRIVIA: Did you know that Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal both appeared in the Will Ferrell flick “Stranger Than Fiction”? It’s the only Will Ferrell movie I’ve ever liked – they were all amazing in it]. I decided we’d give Nanny a try.

In short: the whole family enjoyed it.

This movie finds Nanny McPhee (Emma Thompson) showing up to help a frazzled mom (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who is trying to keep her family afloat while her husband is away at war. To add fuel to the fire, her children’s cousins have come to stay with them – adding another element of chaos. Nanny McPhee uses some incredible magic to teach the five kids some lessons.

Initially, I was afraid the movie would be “too dark” for my kids – but I was quickly reassured by the quirky magic, fun effects and synchonized swimming piglets. By the time we left, my kids were still giggling over those cute pigs (and yeah, I was too).

You need not have seen the first Nanny McPhee movie to enjoy this one — though I may now look for the original on Netflix. Both my five and eight year old were enthralled and the movie held their interest all the way through. Definitely a fun way to beat the heat over this weekend, by catching a showing of Nanny McPhee and eating some popcorn in an air conditioned theater.

Complimentary movie passes were provided for me and my family, but the opinions as always are my own.

Thursday Ten: Anniversary Style Edition

1. It’s a TEN YEAR anniversary on Thursday Ten day. How’s that for awesome? Yep, ten years ago at this time I was hanging out in a big poofy white dress just waiting for things to get started. I’ve been looking at the pictures today – amazing how I thought my makeup looked good on my wedding day. I had it done. My lipstick is VERY dark – very “WHOA. Here comes Sarah’s mouth.” Anyway, this clip keeps coming to mind today, from Gross Pointe Blank. I love the way Jeremy Piven says “Ten years. TEN. YEARS. TENYEARS.” Love.

2. This morning, I went to the doctor for an incredible nagging pain in my ear. It didn’t turn out to be an ear infection, as I suspected, but likely just a cold. The doc recommended some decongestants: “The good kind. The kind that you get on a government watch list for buying.” So, I ended up jumping through major hoops to buy a huge box of Advil Cold & Sinus. Dear Government: I promise to not make meth with it.

3. With school beginning in just a few weeks, I still haven’t heard from the schools as to which teacher each of my daughters has, nor have I received the massive laundry list of things I need to purchase. Hey schools: don’t wait til the last minute. I spoke with a teacher who lives down the street and he says that even the teachers haven’t gotten their class lists – which is weird. I don’t like last minute stuff.

4. We’re hoping to get the pup unsplinted on Monday! It’s been a VERY LONG MONTH of having a splited, lopsided puppy, and we’ll be very glad to have him back to “normal”. The vet said his leg will be very tiny at first – going to take about two week to build those muscles back up. There will be much documentation of shriveled puppy leg, because… c’mon, this is me we’re talking about.

5. What are the downsides to be a curly-haired gal in the summer? Well, I spent forty minutes trying to find my hairbrush for one. See, normally, I use a wide-tooth comb post shower, add product and am done with my ‘do. Today? I thought maybe I would get fancy and straighten it – something I typically don’t do in summer because humidity makes things a bit poofy. I haven’t used a hairbrush since June though. (I found it under my bed)

6. Project Runway – I am already establishing favorites though I’m still just distracted by Heidi Klum’s hideous haircut. Heidi, Heidi, Heidi. What’s your deal?

7. One of the first things I did upon arrival in Chicago this weekend was to get a sandwich from Potbelly’s. It occurs to me that I have certain favorites in certain places – can’t go to Traverse City without getting an ice cream cone from Moomer’s, for example. Do you do that – do you have places you always HAVE to go when you’re travelling?

8. My chaotic book club just decided to change the book mid-month. WHUT? The girl who picked the book decided it was “a snooze fest” and didn’t want to keep reading it. I didn’t realize we could do that – and wish that we’d known about that apparent veto-power rule months ago  (yawn), but I’m kind of annoyed now – I like the book and I am not going to stop reading it in order to read “Eat Pray Love”. Which brings me to….

9.  I have NO desire to see “Eat Pray Love”. I don’t want to read it, I don’t want to see the movie. And the author? She maybe might want to count her blessings on the kindness of the folks who cast that movie because Julia Roberts playing her? Quite a compliment.

10. My kids have spent the past two days fighting in various ways, various reasons over Barbie dolls. This is my “STOP FIGHTING ABOUT BARBIE” face.

iPhone App Review: Capzule PHR

Because I am almost never without my iPhone, I appreciate getting pitches for reviews for apps for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch (Side note: Anyone else visibly cringe to hear it referred to as an iTouch or am I just persnickety? Don’t answer that unless you agree with me!).

Some of the apps I’ve been exposed to this way, I may not have ever stumbled across other wise (Case in point: All of Oceanhouse Media’s Dr. Seuss story apps, which my daughters LOVE – including their latest, “Yertle the Turtle“).

Because I’m the keeper of all knowledge in my family when it comes to doctor’s appointments and medical whosy-whatsits in my family, I was intrigued by what I read about Capzule PHR, your Personal Health Record. This app allows you to store health records for yourself (and up to 30 family members), share information between i-devices, and connect and edit from PC.

I received the app free to review, and had a chance to tinker with the functionality and ask the creators a few questions. The UI is simple, easy to understand, and fairly painless to navigate. It’s NOT a tough app to use. It’s clean, it’s nice to look at – and this is key – because a confusing app, particularly one that is supposed to be helpful gets deleted from my phone. PRONTO.

There are a few negatives to this app – one being that you cannot share with NON i-devices (meaning that if you’re rocking your iPad and your spouse is completely bonded with a Droid – no can do). In my family, this means that I would be (as I am already) the keeper of the info. You can, however, email this data in plain text or html format.

I would also have liked to see a pop-up or push notification style appointment reminder. There’s currently a tab that allows you to see upcoming information – without being able to synch to your primary calendar or receive notifications, you would want to be sure to check back with the Capzule PHR app periodically to make sure you don’t miss an appointment.

BUT. Weighing in on the plus side: There’s a password option, which I think is a phenomenal idea — and a smart bet to use when we’re talking about your medical information. Since we’re talking safety – I’d also caution that when you’re emailing your medical information/chart information, you would want to use caution as well – making sure your internet connection is secure (Secured home connection = good. Emailing your medical chart from unsecured wifi at your local coffee shop = not so good). Use caution as you would any other thing – you wouldn’t do your banking in Starbucks… You probably shouldn’t monkey with this there either.

I can see that this app would be useful if you had a chronic condition requiring frequent appointments or you needed to track data (blood pressure, glucose, and the like) on a frequent basis. If you are using a variety of apps to track different metrics for your health, it may be easier to combine them into the use of one app.

For my family, we tend to only go to the doc as needed and (if we’re lucky) just for yearly checkups, I don’t know that I’ll get as much use from this. Particularly since I have a difficult time enough remembering to update my calendar – I don’t know if I can remember to update two of them, knowing that the Capzule won’t remind me of upcoming appointments.

The app is $4.99 from the iTunes store – but there’s a free version that you may want to tinker with before investing. I’d definitely give the free version a whirl and decide if upgrading to the full version is the right choice for you.


I received this app free for review, but as always, the opinions are my own.

Teachable Moments

Those who can’t, teach.

I think that phrase is all wrong.

It makes it sound like teaching is a fall back profession, something you do if you’re not good enough for something else. I know one thing, however: I would make a rotten teacher.

I’m better with my kids than with other people’s. I don’t exactly have a surplus of patience. While I know how to make my subjects and verbs agree (USUALLY), I don’t necessarily know how to explain it to someone else.

So, while half my neighborhood homeschools their children, I’ve never felt the need to do so.

Instead, I take the moments as they come. Not surprisingly, many of these come while we’re in the kitchen baking. There are so many opportunities to teach while baking – math, especially – and because the end result is edible, it makes it the best kind of math ever.

Let’s say you need a cup of granulated sugar. Now, because you’re a baking fool, all your measuring cups are dirty. Except one. Your quarter cup measuring cup. So you hand the measuring cup to your daughter and you say to her, “Well, lady, looks like this is all we’ve got. How many times do we need to fill our 1/4 cup to equal the one cup of sugar that we need?” And because your daughter is thoughtful and mindful – she thinks a minute and she looks at you. This is where you can tell her that there are four quarter cups in one cup. Just like there are four quarters in a dollar. So if we have this measuring cup, we’ll need to fill it with sugar how many times? She’ll tell you four.

And she’ll be right.


The cookies have been in the oven for three minutes. They should bake for 11. So… how much longer do you have to wait until the cookies can come out?


We put the cookies in the oven at 4:21 – if they need to cook for 11 minutes, what time will the clock say when it’s time to take them out?

Those are the kind of teaching moments I love best – those served warm with a glass of cold milk.


I wrote this post in celebration of Kleenex’s Hands-On Learning as an entry to win a gift card (oh yeah) and a huge box of Kleenex which I need because I am allergic to everything.

Weekly Winners: I Was In Chicago Edition

Chicago is one of my favorite cities – I love the opportunities I’ve had to spend time there.

love is everywhere

geometry is cool

changing perspective

flower on wacker drive

For more Weekly Winners, visit LOTUS.

Thursday Ten: Moving to Australia Edition

1. Do you guys remember the Alexander books from when you were a kid?  Like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? This week I have felt AWFULLY Alexander-ish. Maybe it’s the PMS, maybe it’s the jerky neighbor kids who egged our house because they are for some reason mad at my stepson – but really? This week can just hurry up and be over. Though, as Alexander says at the end, “Some days are like that. Even in Australia.”

2. The puppy is still splinted. The vet took more x-rays on Monday and says that we’re progressing – this time he is healing. This is very good news. The bad news? We’re looking at two more weeks of a splinted pup. He’s definitely got energy to burn, and we would love to let him just run around and burn it off – but the vet says NO GO. She did advise us it was okay to give him Benadryl to calm him down. Hey guess whose puppy gets even MORE hyper on Benadryl?!

Hyper? WHO? ME?!?!

3.  The Princess came home from gymnastics the other day with a huge blister on her hand. First of many, I’m sure, that she gets from working on the uneven bars. Despite her frustration with team practices in the beginning (Hubby was even leaning towards letting her quit), I’m glad she’s stuck it out. Not only is she in her groove now, but I’m definitely seeing improvement in her skills. Also, as she gets used to the girls on her team, they’re all less annoyed by each other. Whew.

4. I’m already taking a break from my book club selection to read something a little more enjoyable: David Nicholls’ One Day. I’m about 2/3 of the way through and am enjoying it quite a bit. My book club selection, which is also good, is hard for me to read in long stretches… so it’s temporarily gathering dust.

5. Project Runway last week. Okay, I didn’t agree with the winner at all. While her design was alright, I didn’t think it was billboard worthy. Than again, currently I am wearing my sister’s reject shorts and t-shirt so my fashion sense is somewhat lacking.

6. It’s been unbelievably humid lately. I hate summer weather and humidity. I hate how the circumference of my head exponentially increases due to the frizz of my hair.

7. So, that dry erase girl? I’m pretty bummed it was a hoax, but it’s no less funny. And I admit, I laughed pretty hard. I hope someone really does it. And when they do, I hope they really post pictures all over the internet.

8. Playing some old Lifehouse stuff in guitar lessons this week – basically because whenever a chord progression involves C, I find a way to fake myself out about it and get frazzled. Stupid inconvenienct C chord (that’s in everything).

9. Borrowed “The Hurt Locker” from Netflix. I knew it was going to be a more intense kind of movie, and I knew it would be more of Hubby’s kind of movie than my own, but dang. I couldn’t even make it halfway through before my attention span went kablooey. Ironically.

10. Pumpkin has been awake before 6 a.m. every day this week. (See : craptastic, my week is). I don’t even know what her deal is. She’s exhausted. She’s cranky. She just cannot help herself. By 5:30, she’s nudging me asking “IS IT TIME TO BE AWAKE YET?” “No,” I’ll reply, groggy with sleep. “YES IT IS!” she then screams. I can’t wait til she’s a teenager and wants to sleep all day. I’ll open her door, sit on her bed and get two inches from her face and yell “IS IT TIME TO BE AWAKE YET?” Yep. Lookin’ forward to it.

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