Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A New Year, A New Direction

WOW! There are only five days left in January and this is only my fourth post of the entire month. Whaaaaaaaaaat? With the super cold weather we've had over the last 4-6 weeks, my brain has been mush, mush, mush. My kids and I have been stuck inside a whole bunch because of snow and sickies, which has contributed to much laziness and junk food consumption. So, sort of sad to say, blogging has barely crossed my mind at all.

Even though I've been MIA in blogland for most of the month, I still have to mention and CELEBRATE that my blog hit the one year mark on January 1st!  Woo hoo! That's crazy, right?! It has been quite bizarre to go back through my old posts (all 189 of them) from each month, reliving and reminiscing about whatever was going on with my life at that time. And I do have to admit that there are more than a few posts that make me cringe and reach for the delete button. But, hey... that's just part of the blogging journey, I guess.

So, as another calendar year is now in full swing and I begin another year of blogging, I've decided to implement some major adjustments. Over the last six months, my posts progressively took a turn to where I began taking opportunities for financial and personal gain, instead of sticking to my original intentions for this site. Sure, I made some money and my site traffic and Alexa score improved quickly and rather dramatically. But I've recently come to the realization that those opportunities just aren't for me or my faithful readership.

With that being said, there more than likely won't be many more book, movie or product reviews, very few (if any) sponsored posts, or giveaways on this site. I'm aware that I will lose followers and feed subscribers, but I'm totally okay with that. When I look back on this space many years from now, I don't want the posts to be empty or irrelevant. I don't want my blog to morph into a series of random advertisements and vague self promotions. I want to WANT to contribute to this site, not dread it like a chore or lousy job. It's time for me to stop judging the worth of my blogging time by a random result from Google Analytics. No more letting a score from make or break my day. (Sounds silly, but it has happened...)

There you have it, my friends! Goodbye to company badges, site meters, and SEO tricks. Hello to keeping it real! ; )



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordish Wednesday

Four years ago today, God blessed us with a beautiful, blue-eyed bundle 
and our lives were forever changed.
Happy 4th Birthday to our little princess!


Monday, January 10, 2011

My CINCH! Project

It's a new year and that means one thing... lots and lots of people are making new resolutions.  And from the looks of my local gym's parking lot, resolutions revolving around weight loss are as popular as ever.  After making my own lofty commitments in the past, I've learned over the years to simply commit to small changes instead of big, unreachable goals.  This year is no different, with my main resolutions involving minor steps for feeding my family more healthily... such as incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables, using fewer and fewer processed items, etc.

To get those resolutions rolling, I recently accepted an opportunity from One2One Network to review a proof copy of a new book by Cynthia Sass entitled, Cinch!.  To be absolutely honest, I didn't expect to glean a whole lot of anything after reading multiple diet books in the past.  I mostly thought it would be your normal "count fat grams, calories, points, whatever... then be sure to burn them off via exercise" program.  But after reading my copy of Cinch!, I found myself both interested and intrigued from all of the quality information Sass gives in this book.

Take a glance for yourself at the publisher's synopsis:
There are no calories to count; no points or grams to memorize.
Just begin choosing four daily meals from over one hundred delicious options (along with a mandatory daily chocolate escape), and you're well on your way to achieving your weight-loss goals. In thirty days on the Cinch! plan, you'll shed pounds and inches—and overcome emotional eating in the process.
Acclaimed weight-loss expert Cynthia Sass has arrived at the exciting secret to sustainable weight loss: her innovative combinations of clean, nutrient-rich foods not only maximize fat-burning but also deliver a faster, healthier metabolism forever. Following the plan is as simple as putting together an easy-to-understand fivepiece puzzle at every meal and enjoying four delicious, easy-to-prepare meals in addition to a chocolate treat. The Cinch! plan includes a full thirty days' worth of quick-fix, satisfying meals and teaches you a simple strategy for creating your own, so you know exactly what, how much, and when to eat, whether you're at home, at a restaurant, or on vacation. Cinch! makes weight loss simple, with meals you'll look forward to eating (no "diet" foods). And best of all, Sass starts her plan with an innovative five-day "Fast Forward," which jump-starts the plan's impressive results and will leave you feeling lighter and healthier.
If you've been trying to eat more clean, natural, and organic foods, but have lacked the structure needed to lose weight, this is the exact plan you've been waiting for. Cinch! includes every tool you'll need for weightloss success: Sass's proven plan, expert tips and advice, daily journals, grocery-shopping lists, chapters on exercise and emotional eating, and a month's worth of recipes—customizable for meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. You'll enjoy Chocolate Pear Ginger Smoothies, JalapeƱo Guacamole, and Chicken Pesto Pitas—to name just a few luscious Cinch! options!
Best of all, Cinch! weight loss is lasting weight loss. In one month, you'll recalibrate your body, freeing yourself from cravings and erratic eating, and begin a satisfying new relationship with food. With Sass's expertise behind you, you'll be empowered to continue creating Cinch!-friendly meals and feel inspired by a wealth of new eating habits—making this so much more than a diet.

My Opinion:

Before writing an honest review of the book, I wanted to give the "Five Day Fast Forward" plan a shot.  I felt as if trying that short burst would provide a clearer insight into whether I felt the book was doable/manageable by other mothers like myself.  Well, I have to confess that I tried it for a day and then stopped. I just. Couldn't. Do it.  (I'm 100 percent okay with you laughing at me at this point...)  My main reasons were:
  1. The taste of the food combinations assigned to the 5 day plan were Gah-ROSS to me.  It took almost 45 minutes for me to down one of her smoothie concoctions, because it just tasted so bad.  BLEH!  (Picture me holding my nose while downing this thing... then keep laughing.)
  2. The separate planning/cooking of meals for myself and my family was too time consuming.  If I had nothing else to do everyday but plan, grocery shop, and cook, then maybe...
  3. The ingredients for just the 5 days on top of our already modest small grocery budget were quite pricey.
Even though her Five Day Fast Forward plan wasn't up my alley (Sass even agrees it's not for everyone), the rest of the book has very valuable information for anyone wanting to not only lose weight, but permanently change their eating lifestyle. There are tons of lessons and ideas that I will be (and have already been) implementing into my family's daily diet.

Cinch! is available for purchase from Amazon and most other major book retailers.

A proof copy of the book was provided to me at no cost by One2One Network in order to facilitate my review.  I was not required to provide a positive review, only an honest one.  The viewpoints expressed in this review are my own.

Friday, January 7, 2011

11 Step Program for Those Thinking of Having Kids

Here is a very humorous note that's being shared on Facebook.  I'm not sure who the original author is to give credit to, but it's too cute not to post here.  Enjoy and pass it along!

Lesson 1
1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.
Lesson 2
Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.
Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3
A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner.)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive).
Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4
Can you stand the mess children make? To find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?
Lesson 5
Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.
Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6
Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.
Lesson 7
Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a preschool child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice.) If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8
1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.
You are now ready to feed a nine-month-old baby.

Lesson 9
Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10
Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11
Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

This is all very tongue in cheek; anyone who is parent will say "it's all worth it"! Share it with your friends, both those who do and don't have kids. I guarantee they'll get a chuckle out of it. Remember, a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!