Monday, February 28, 2011

Ambassadors - ECHOage Birthday Parties

Ambassadors - ECHOage Birthday Parties

Those of you out there raising your children to be socially-conscious, giving beings will be interested in ECHOage Birthday Parties. ECHOage is a Birthday party service through which your children can learn the value of both giving and receiving.

You set up your guest list through the website as well as designating the charity to which donations will be made. Your guests are sent invitations designating the charities to which they can contribute. Half of all the money collected through guests contributions will be sent to the charity that you and your child have chosen and half will be used to provide your child with one of his or her "dream" gifts.

My children are blessed with an abundance of "things" so I am always looking for ways to help my children learn to want less and give more. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. It is incredibly easy to set up a giving party and have your child be a part of the planning.

So I challenge you to check this out. Consider planning an ECHOage Birthday for yourself or for your child. Then, spread the news so that others might do the same. It is our responsibility to raise a generation of loving and giving let's do it! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Handmade Mother and Child Statue from Kenya || Fair Trade Handicrafts from Ten Thousand Villages

Handmade Mother and Child Statue from Kenya || Fair Trade Handicrafts from Ten Thousand Villages

Streaming is a fun trick to save some money on your cable bill....

We have basic cable at our house which gives us painfully few television channels to watch. This is not a really big deal in that television is not a huge priority for our family but my husband and I do enjoy relaxing in front of the tele in the evening. We decided against spending any more on our cable bill and looked for alternative ways to enjoy programming at a minimal cost.

This is what we did...and believe me I am not tech savvy!

We invested in an inexpensive Blu-Ray player. I believe we spent about $90 at Best Buy. The trick was to find one that had wi-fi enabled and able to stream Netflix. We had all ready subscribed to a basic Netflix account for about $10 a month. For this price we receive one dvd in the mail at a time and have unlimited streaming from their selection of "watch now" videos. These include movies, documentaries and TV shows.

A side note of information: Blu-ray players also play DVD's and CD's.

Once we had the Blu-Ray player successfully hooked up through the Wi-Fi (fairly easy instructions through player....did it with remote on the TV) we were able to watch a vast quantity of movies and shows at the push of a button. The other wonderful thing is that we are also able to stream Pandora radio  through the television. Those of you who are not familiar with Pandora should really check it out. You make up your own radio station based on the music you love. You can even create stations that play children's music. It is a great alternative to the television!

Since our Blu-Ray player was Wi-Fi enabled we hooked it up through our wireless router. If you do not have one of these you can pick up a relatively inexpensive one online or in-stores. Probably around $40. We all ready had a wireless router for our laptop, some of you may even have one for your Wii.

Some other hints:
You can stream Netflix and Pandora through your Wii
You can buy a Roku Box or Apple TV which will essentially do the same as the Blu-Ray player.

There are lots of possibilities out there so you need to find the one that is best for you.
Hope some of you find this helpful!!!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Gift

It was one year ago this week that my husband and I were aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise headed for Mexico. Sounds crazy that the parents of 3 small children could afford such a trip let alone find the time and means to take it. It never could have happened without the help of two amazing people.

You are probably wondering why I am sharing this with all of you. Partly because my mind has been wandering back to that time with some frequency this week and also to share with you one of the greatest gifts that has ever been bestowed upon me. The gift wasn't the cruise or the money for the vacation but something far more meaningful, the true reason we were able to embark on such a journey.

The gift came from my husband's brother and his wife. They decided that my husband and I needed a vacation. This after spending some time with us around the holidays. I am guessing that our state of chaos and confusion was more obvious than we had thought. Of course we needed a vacation...what parents of 3 small children, of any children, doesn't. Lack of sleep, daily battles over eating and playing nice is excruciating at times. But the thought of getting away from it all to refresh and rejuvenate was nothing that we had considered...until then.

When my brother-in-law called to tell us he and his wife had decided that they would come stay with the kids for a week while my husband and I took a vacation we laughed. Who willingly agrees to take care of a 4 year-old and 1 1/2 yo twins? Not to mention they have their own child who was a year at the time. Four small children for a week? They really had no idea what they were la-la land after enjoying their own small getaway.

Apparently they were pretty darn serious. I would never in a million years have asked anyone to do this for us but could I really turn down the offer? My husband and I became giddy with the possibility of traveling to some new destination, eating real meals...while sitting...and doing adult things! Could it really be? We didn't waste any time. We got online fast and started to piece together our vacation.

Due to the fact that I spend every waking minute organizing my life and the lives of our children I wanted a trip that required very little thought and planning on our part. So we decided to try a cruise. We had always wanted to go on one but never had the opportunity before this. So after making completely sure that our kids aunt and uncle were totally up to this challenge we booked our trip! I think we were still laughing while we did this.....they had no idea what they were in for!

I emailed my sister-in-law a VERY detailed document outlining daily schedules, preschool times and rules, eating habits, family rules, and phone numbers for neighbors, friends and emergency personnel....I figured for sure the 10 page document would make her rethink her decision. But instead she sent me a reply thanking me for being so thorough and organized. She actually thanked me! I decided then and there that they were the most insane people I had ever met!

So a few weeks later my husband and I were saying goodbye to our children and family and embarking on a new journey. The journey to rediscover husband and wife and as individuals. I was not going on vacation as my kids mom but as myself. I wasn't sure who this was anymore.

So during my week of snorkeling, zip-lining and tubing I began to find myself again. For the first time in my life I wasn't caught up in the "who is doing what" but instead of just enjoying my time and the time with my husband. I began to really appreciate time, something that I had totally taken for granted before having kids. And in my quest to enjoy my time I found a better, more relaxed and easy-going version of myself. A feeling that actually lasted for weeks after our return home.

I am sharing this to you because this was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. It was the gift of time, of reconnecting with myself and my husband, of feeling freedom. This gift would never have been possible without the incredible generosity of two amazing people. Two people that I totally trust my 3 children to..there aren't many who fall into this category. So, even though the offer alone would have been enough, the offer by two people who love our children and care for them the way they do made it actually possible.

I share this with you because if you are ever given such a gift, take it! Don't hesitate and let the guilt of leaving behind your children talk you out of it....such a gift can and will make you and your family better for it. I know that not many will ever get such a gift which is why I am eternally grateful. I am also completely aware of how important it is to give such a gift to those you can. I know this may not be possible for most of us right now...but carry the promise with you, in your back pocket, and when you are in a different place in your life promise yourself you will take this gift out and bestow it upon someone you love.......

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beautiful Words

In honor of Black History Month I am going to leave you with a beautiful quote:

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." 
~Harriet Tubman

Always keep hold of your dreams, remind yourself of them often, and chase them no matter how scary it may be.....It doesn't cost anything to dream....dreams are beautiful, thoughtful and make us who we are...

February Vacation

It is February Vacation week here in Rhode Island. I am planning some fun activities with the kids for the week. Some of my plans include a trip to Mystic Aquarium, play-dates with friends, a trip to the local library and possibly something new and different like ice skating. Unfortunately it is too cold this week for some of our favorite things to do, like going to the local farm to feed the animals, visiting the zoo and going to a playground.

I am always looking for new things to do that will not break the bank. I would love to hear what some of you do during vacation weeks with your kids, especially those of you with younger kids!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Angry Little Words

As I was giving my 2 1/2 yo twins a bath today my son decided he didn't want to be washed. How frustrating I thought...doesn't he know that this is the whole purpose behind a bath?...So of course, I continued to wash him struggling to somehow get him to cooperate. He was in no mood to give in so during my attempts to properly wash him he kept telling me, "I don't like you" and "go away". 

It is very trying to hear these words from your child. Somehow, however I was able to remain calm and continue with the task at hand. I don't know if this was because the earth was aligned properly with the moon, or because I remembered to put on my "patient" pants today or the fulfillment of having outside hobbies is starting to make a difference in my life. Whatever the case may be I did not argue with my son. I continued to lovingly bathe him explaining everything I was doing and all the while repeating, "I love you". At first his response to my words was to repeat back that he doesn't like me and would like me to go away. But after asking him to "look at mommy" while I told him "I love you" he caved. His next words were "I love you". 

It was important that I not take what he said personally. I understand that at 2 1/2 his anger was a result of not being in control of the situation. At his age he has control over very little. I also realize it isn't my job to fight to keep that control but to understand his frustration and be okay with it. I know that he loves me and doesn't really want me to go away. This is the only way for him to get my attention and get his point across. 

I was also trying to instill in my son the belief that no matter what he does or what he says I will continue to love him. That I will care for him even when he is upset and protests. I will always want him and be here for him. My love is truly unconditional. And although I am sure the moment meant very little to him I do believe that over time he will begin to understand the deepness of my love for him. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Old Navy Baby Sale

So I took all three kids to Old Navy for the Baby me crazy! They are in the midst of their Baby Sale which includes clothing for Girls and Boys. The sale has been extended through 2/24/11. I found a $10 off of $50 purchase at Dealcatcher. I decided the coupon and the sale were enough of a motivation to take all the kids to the mall!

So I ended up buying 2 shirts for my 2 1/2 yo son, a top and a sundress for my 2 1/2 yo daughter and 2 tops, a skirt and a pair of shorts for my 5 yo daughter. With the coupon I spent a mere $45! All the tops I bought were $5 each...nothing was over $10. I was in and out of the store in about 30 minutes or so with all 3 kids still with me! No small accomplishment! The greatest thing was that they have mobile checkout stations located throughout the store to check you out quickly and painlessly.

All in all it was well worth the headache of putting up with kids touching things they shouldn't have and hearing them say every 5 minutes...."can we go now???"!

Happy Shopping!!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Do Better!

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." - Maya Angelou

This is my mantra in life. Not only for myself but for all the people that I encounter during the course of my day. It is my job to educate myself on how to live my best life possible, to be the best version of myself. How to be a great mom, what is healthy for mind, body and soul and how to be a great neighbor, family member and friend and most importantly how to be a responsible member of the social world. 

I am on a lifelong journey to be the best that I can be. It is easy to be defensive in situations where you believe your integrity and beliefs are being questioned. What I have learned is that if you are truly secure with yourself and believe in your values than there is no reason to be defensive at any time. There is no reason to not be genuinely happy for the good fortune of others even if you see no value in it. I am learning to set aside my own prejudices and judgements and respect other's ability to make their own decisions. So although I see no value in spending $200 on a purse I know I can find it in myself to compliment the person who does. 

I do believe people make the best decisions they can with with the resources they have before them. I also believe we can never truly know someone's intentions without knowing the whole story. Therefore, I find gossip to be totally pointless and detrimental. Sharing information in a concerned and caring way is one thing but I try not to talk about things that I wouldn't be comfortable saying in front of the person I am talking about. It is easy to condemn the actions of others, it is a lot harder to take the time to understand. You never really know what you would do until you have a walked a mile in their shoes. I truly believe that, for the most part, people do make the best decisions they can with the information and knowledge that they have.

So perhaps I will monitor my progress throughout the course of this blog...I know there will be days I am not successful at being my best person but I think that the more I "check in" with myself the closer I will become to personal fulfillment. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yay the Playground!

It was actually nice enough today to take the kiddos to the playground! Yes, it was snowy, slushy, muddy and just plain old messy but it was so worth it! It had been so long since we saw spiral plastic slides and metal bars for hanging on and all sorts of wheels and spinny things! The kids ran from one thing to the next happily making friends along the way....ahh, the joys of childhood!

The look on their faces when we announced we were going to the playground today was priceless. You would have thought we said we were going to spend a month at Disney World for the rush of pure joy that they felt! They ran, breathed in the fresh air and enjoyed the freedom of not being reminded to go potty or stop jumping on the furniture. Truly one of the joys of motherhood, watching your kids experience the thrill of pure freedom.

So in the aftermath of such a lovely afternoon I am reminded of the joys that Spring brings. For a family that loves the outdoors it is hard being cooped up for so long. One of my greatest joys is sharing a lovely afternoon with my 3 favorite little people playing in the yard, going on a hike or visiting a playground. So, as I remain frustrated with the coldness of winter my spirit is renewed with the promise of Spring!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Turn off your cell phone, close your laptop, put away your iPad and just BE......

Live in the moment. Enjoy what is happening....don't put off the enjoyment of the moment so that you can post it to your Facebook wall. When you are on vacation don't upload a new status every time you engage in a new activity...just engage and enjoy...the rest of us would love to hear about it when you return. How can you truly enjoy the moment if every 5 minutes you have to stop what you are doing to update your status. A vacation should be truly that, a wires, no media...just peace and quiet and the opportunity to live in the moment.

And when your kids make you a special breakfast don't interrupt the moment by taking a picture and uploading it to your page. Tell the story of it later. These moments are far and few between and instead of interrupting them we should be relishing in them and savoring each second!

So take some time each day to ignore all types of gadgetry and social connectedness. Be with yourself, be with your family and live in the moment!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feed The Birds

I live in the country so it is easy for me to hang a bird-feeder outside and watch the birds flock to it. I have hung mine right outside on my deck where we can watch from the sliding glass doors. The kids love to watch all the different birds come to visit. I have a small backyard bird book I keep nearby and we love to try to identify all the different species that we see.

We hang the feeder outside after the last of the berries have fallen off the trees and shrubs and we leave it up until the trees and shrubs begin budding in the early spring. This way we don't interfere with the birds natural ability to find their own food. Of course if you live in a warmer climate you may choose to leave it up year-round or maybe just during the dryer seasons when food is more scarce. For those of you who live in more seasonal climates you may be surprised by the number of different varieties of birds that winter over. It is always fun to notice the ending of winter by the different birds that begin showing up at the feeder.

If you don't want to invest in a bird-feeder you can have the kids make one by spreading peanut butter over a pinecone and then rolling it in bird seed. You can make several of these and hang them from different vantage points in your yard. Use some strong string or fishing line to tie them to low-hanging tree limbs or fence posts. The kids will love seeing the birds enjoy their creations!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day of Love

Okay, this wasn't exactly the sweet, nurturing day I had planned but it was good nonetheless. It's shortcomings started with my lack of sleep. My son, Liam, had a difficult night last night, nasal congestion, he doesn't do well with a stuffy nose. So I didn't sleep much either. Found it difficult to get myself moving today and do fun things with my kids.

But we did have our "red" dinner...pasta with sauce and meatballs followed up with red velvet cupcakes contributed by my lovely cousin. It was a very nice family dinner. And although, it wasn't everything I had hoped for I do believe my kids enjoyed it anyway. It is always in the little things that remind me why and how very much I do love my beautiful family....

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Read A Fun Valentine's Day Book With Your Kids

A really cute book for Valentine's Day is If You'll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant and Fumi Kosaka. It is very simple and sweet and I know my kids really love it! 
Click here to check it out!

What are some Valentine's Day Books you read with your children?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Question for Today:

How will you be spending this Valentine's Day? 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day

So many people really dislike Valentine's Day because of the whole commercialism of it all. I am not going to say that I don't agree to some degree but I do love the message that can be shared on that day. I don't view Valentine's Day as a holiday between my husband and myself but instead of a whole family celebration. Although I tell my children every day that I love them I love to take the time out during Valentine's Day to celebrate that love. I am not into buying them things as much as spending the day doing things together and remembering what the day is all about.

I think it is fun to engage the kids in fun crafts to celebrate the day. My oldest daughter who is five is obsessed with making hearts for everyone. I think I will let her plaster the house with them when she is done.

Another fun idea we are going to implement this year is to have a "red" dinner. I got this idea from a neighbor of mine and I think it is a great one! I am planning to make pasta and meatballs with red sauce and then follow it up with a fun dessert...maybe jello, or a red cake, or chocolate covered strawberries.

I will also probably have my kids make something for my husband. An idea I like is filling a jar with loving sentiments that he can read throughout the year. Just little reminders of why they love him so much.

So, although it is easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holiday I do think that kids really enjoy celebrating it. I think it is a lovely thing because the message of the day can be so wonderful and nurturing. I encourage everyone to take time for the simple things on that day and commit yourself to remembering why you love your family. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wicked Centsable: Get Involved

Wicked Centsable: Get Involved: "Get involved in your community. Do something that is meaningful to you and/or your family. For example, if your kids are involved in a sport..."

Get Involved

Get involved in your community. Do something that is meaningful to you and/or your family. For example, if your kids are involved in a sport see if there is some way that you can also the snack-bar, help out with organizing activities, etc. You can also join your kids school PTO or the Board of a local non-profit or Church. It is important to stay connected with your community and do things that are relevant and meaningful to you. It definitely can add to your quality of your life and give you new experiences and access to new friends/support systems.

I have joined the Board of my children's preschool. Education is something that is very important to me and I genuinely care about our preschool. Being on the Board allows me to have a say in what experiences are offered to the young people in the preschool and keeps me up-to-date with any changes to the school and/or curriculum. It has also allowed me to meet new people in my community and learn of different resources/events/activities in my town and in neighboring communities.

One word of caution, however, sometimes these meetings can be an outlet for community gossip, especially if you live in a small town. Make it a priority to stay out of the gossip. Take the higher road and remember why you have joined the organization, to make a difference for the community, not to get caught up in the affairs of your neighbors.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Start A Book Club!

A really inexpensive and fun way to spend your time is by joining or starting your own book club. Ask some friends/neighbors/relatives who live near-by if they would be interested. Choose a book to get the club going, maybe something on the Bestsellers List. Instead of buying the book consider borrowing a copy from your local library. Keep your group small and informal, arrange to have some refreshments for everyone to enjoy. The less complicated you make the club the easier it will be to keep it going. Remember this can be a great excuse to make time for friends doing something you truly enjoy.

My neighbor, and good friend, just started a book club and I jumped on the chance to join. I am excited about spending time once a month or so with some good friends, good food, and good conversation. I am excited for the opportunity to read books I may not have otherwise picked on my own and am looking forward to our regular gatherings to discuss them. It has been some time, as I am a stay-at-home mom, that I have been able to get together with my peers and engage in stimulating conversation. I think having hobbies and outside interests is a necessary part of a fulfilling life. I love being a mom but I need to be my own person as well....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Let's Talk About Respect...

The lack of respect I witness on a daily basis is probably the thing that frustrates me the most. It seems to be everywhere....people who cut you off in traffic, someone who fails to hold the door open for you or people who are just downright rude to those around them. I feel that many of the problems in today's society are a direct result of this lack of respect.

Today I watched a woman get into her car and drive away without putting on her seatbelt. This may not seem like a disrespectful act to you but to me it shows disrespect on many levels. It is disrespectful to the laws governing our safety and well-being, it is disrespectful to herself and her family members who would be directly effected by her injury or death and it is disrespectful to the emergency personnel who would have to respond to her accident. I doubt she is thinking about any of this when she chooses not to put on her seatbelt but I wish she would.

So when my children complain about following the rules I don't tell them that they have to because I "say so" instead I try to instill in them an understanding of why the rules are important. I want them to realize how not following the rules effects those around them and that there are consequences for not following the rules. Even when I may not completely agree with the rules I still believe it is our responsibility to follow them and encourage our children to follow them. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, like when doing so violates my rights or the rights of others. In these cases it is my duty to stand up for what I believe in in a respectful and appropriate manner.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Expand your mind, lose yourself in your imagination...I know it can be tricky to find the time to pick up a book but doing so is vital to your personal well-being. It gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a topic that is important or interesting to you. It also allows you some time to escape some of the drudgery of daily life. Lets face can be stressful no matter how wonderful it is....Reading can be a great source of relief to your mind and spirit. Another benefit is that it also encourages your children to read. And reading is also an important activity to do together. It allows time away from electronic stimulation and encourages quality time together. Besides it is an activity that costs very little money, especially if you have access to your local library and carry a library card....What are you reading right now? I am hooked on The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Help Greenpeace

Donate $15 to help Greenpeace end Commercial Whaling and get matching Groupon bucks. Check it out at Groupon. A good deal for both you and the whales!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Role Models

Be careful who your role models are. Just because someone has risen to fame and fortune does not make them someone worthy of your respect and admiration. People spend hours "following" their favorite actors/athletes online and in the news and therefore believe they truly "know" them and their character. This can never be the case. We only know one small aspect of them and what we know is determined by what is covered by the media. The only people we truly know are those around us who we spend quality time getting to know. This is not to say that there have never been famous people worthy of this status. People who have risen to fame and popularity for making valuable and lasting contributions to the betterment of our society and the world around us should earn this place in our hearts. I consider Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln to be just a few of the people befitting this role.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Yes, of course exercise should be an important part of everyone's week but finding the time can sometimes be a challenge. My favorite form of exercise which doesn't interfere with spending time with my family...or my need for to play some upbeat music on the radio and do some "silly dancing" with my kids! Great way to burn some calories and have a rip roarin' good time!

Green Energy

Just signed up for the Green Up Program through National Grid...our local energy provider. Putting money towards renewable energy resources for future generations. Money I can feel good about spending!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Simply Live

Breathe...Relax...Enjoy the moment....It is easy to get caught up in things and people. Try to stay level-headed and remember that we are all humans. Appreciate everyone you pass throughout your day and remember the important role they play in your life. For example, the individual who picks up your trash at the end of the week is making your life easier by saving you a trip to the landfill.  The person who lets you walk/drive ahead of them deserves a thank you wave for saving you time and aggravation. When someone makes you angry let it be a reminder of the person you want to be and how you should be treating those around you so as not to anger others. My first rule of thumb is always to "treat others how you would like to be treated". 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Groupon Chicago

Groupon Chicago is offering a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card for $10. The gift card can be used online or in store. Barnes and Noble offers storytime throughout the week for little ones. A great opportunity to spend some time with your kids and bring home an inexpensive souvenir!

Ten Thousand Villages

Tenthousandvillages is currently offering free shipping with no minimum purchase. They have some really cool stuff on clearance right now as well. What do I love about this site? Probably that the products come from local artisans all over the world and that the artisans are paid a fair wage. Ten Thousand Villages is committed to social responsibility.

One Sale A Day

1SaleADay has the Shark Euro-Pro Steam Mop for $39.99. What do I love about this mop? The fact that it is easy to use and requires no chemicals. It is both environmentally and budget friendly!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Be Present with Your Family....

Turn off those cell phones, close the laptops, and forget about household responsibilities for a while. The most important and most valuable thing we can offer to those around us is our time. Make rules that allow for you to connect with your family, i.e. no cell phones at the dinner table. Be open, especially with your children, and allow for open communication at all times. Parents need to listen to their kids and spouses need to listen to one another. Encourage your kids/spouse to share their daily experiences with you as well as any concerns or issues they are experiencing. It is about mutual respect for all your loved ones.  The more respect you show to those around you, the more you will receive. And doing so also teaches those around you the importance of respecting all members of the community, and from that flows respect for society and the environment. It all starts at home, and it can all start with you, just take time...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Imagination Will Save You!

Right now the northeast is being hammered by a ton of snow! Most of us are suffering from cabin-fever and longing for spring! One way my kids are surviving is by taking out their old bathing suits and beach towels and pretending to go to the beach! One way I help with this is by putting on some fun, energizing music and encouraging their imaginative play! Another thing you could do is get out that old moon sand and let them make "sand castles' with it...maybe even make some fun beach-themed snacks! We need to survive the winter somehow!