Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Aiming for Balance in 2009

Here's a quick line of silliness I couldn't resist before sharing my goals for next year.

"I'm going to build a magic tree house and go back in time! I'll go back FIFTEEN years to the time of the dinosaurs!!" Mr. Music exclaimed while planning an adventure.

I have to admit that my high school years fifteen years ago did have their scary points, but I don't recall seeing any T-Rexes roaming the halls. I think we need to sit down and take a look at a timeline!

As you know, my focus in life is on finding (and trying to keep!) a sense of proverbial balance. I've never really been one for making a New Year's resolution, but this year I feel compelled to focus my energy in new ways by setting some important goals (not really resolutions, per se):

1. Before starting any new sewing projects, I'm going to finish the ones that I've started. This includes the quilt I started months ago for my daughter. Her birthday is at the end of January, so the clock is ticking on this one! I'm also going to finish up the curtains I'm 70% done with for our sliding door in the basement and a Christmas table runner I started for my mother-in-law a number of years ago (so long ago, I've lost count of the years, actually). It will feel refreshing to have those projects done and a clear sewing table! (The photo is of a finished quilt, but it is one I forgot I made!)

2. I'm going to limit my blogging to three posts/week. This will keep my posts more focused and uplifting. My prime goals will be posts about thankfulness, finding the silver lining in difficult/unbalanced life experiences, and fitness/youth-oriented book reviews. Other things are bound to creep up, of course, but it is nice to get my brain hooked on the very important idea of quality, not necessarily quantity. This will also free up time for me to READ and maybe even spend some extra time with my handsome husband.

3. I've already told my husband that as a family I'd like us to have more fun this year. 2009 shall be our Year o' Fun! Our camper will get more use, we'll crank up the tunes and dance around the house, and just generally enjoy one another more and the silliness that comes with having 2 small kiddos. That's my plan. Life is too short to be as serious as I feel I've become. Lately I've been feeling like I'm 100 instead of a new 30. It is time to change that! (This is a photo of where our camper has been parked for a year now - it is longing for an adventure!)

4. I'm picking out at least 4 races to run this year. Two are easy because they're right here in the Snoqualmie Valley where I live and I'm dedicated to supporting our little running community, but the other two can be someplace new and exciting. I'd like to do the 10K option for both races (one in June, the other in November). My running has been stronger as of late, so I may even get a wild hair and plan for a Half Marathon. Since I did a Full Marathon for my 25th birthday, I think it would be nice to do some sort of distance for this age milestone, too, even if it is well after my actual birthday. (In this photo my husband and I - and some other random runners - are about to reach the top of an amazingly steep hill for the Duvall Days 10K in June 2008).

5. I'm dedicated to getting my book out in the world more. 1,000 copies are out there in homes, schools, public libraries and the like, but this year I'll work to forge some new business relationships to get We Are Girls Who Love to Run into even more hands! My mom and I also set a goal for 2 big author visits this calendar year. As a former teacher, my passion is definitely in talking and working with children, so I'm looking forward to getting more visits lined-up. These visits always leave the kids smiling and feeling confident and ME feeling more energized and passionate about running and setting goals - so they're good for EVERYONE involved.

From the looks of my goals, 2009 will be a busy one (but FUN!). I wish you and your family love, good health and positive energy as you get a fresh start in the New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cabin Fever Busters

HOORAY!!! Today marked the first day in over two weeks that we left the house using something other than just feet. The snow/ice finally melted enough that we could take our four wheel drive vehicle out of the neighborhood and even venture as far as the next town. Though it was a bit like taking two monkeys out of a zoo into the wild of the human world for the first time, it was still nice to get out of the house!

So, what have we been doing for all of these days? Here's a little list of cabin fever busters we attempted over the last few weeks . . .

1. Run on the treadmill. Even Mr. Music took a bit of a walk on it (assisted, with a MAX of Speed 2)
2. Holiday movies (Rudolph, Grinch, Mickey, Garfield, Frosty . . . shall I go on? I think Mr. Music saw each one at least twice - and this is a boy who watches 1-2 half-hour shows MAX a day, if ANY!)
3. Christmas cookie baking (just once - with just enough to share with neighbors and Santa)
4. Trips to the Vet (2 trips made by my husband, father and dog - once by foot because the roads weren't safe, another by car in the miracle window of good weather and "safe" streets before the third wave of snow hit). I'm thankful his bite is healing nicely now.
5. Christmas Card writing (see letter below) - complete with Mr. Music signing his name on each card himself!
6. Pre-Christmas toy sorting to make some space for a few new things from Santa and family
7. Facebook updates
8. New quilt project
9. Driveway shoveling
10. Igloo construction with snow from said driveway
11. Treadmill running
12. Balance ball workout
13. Dinner prep game - What can we make with what is in our fridge and pantry???
14. Treadmill running
15. Closet sorting
16. Driveway shoveling
17. Visits from parents who snow-shoed a mile to get here
18. Sledding with neighbors
19. Present wrapping
20. Piano playing and Christmas caroling
21. No church due to road conditions - lessons and carols at home!
22. Shoveling out neighbors' stuck cars
23. Christmas!!!!!
24. Using degrees in English, Art History, Forestry & Education to put together children's toys
25. Catching up with all of the laundry TWICE
26. Treadmill running
27. Digging trenches to allow the snowmelt to reach the drains and prevent our garage from flooding (that's where all the books are!!!)
28. Oragami with Netflix mailing envelopes - they have patterns on their website!
29. Phone calls to distant family to pass along words of cheer for Christmas
30. Writing "Mad Lib" style thank you notes for the gifts we received (see below)

I'm sure there was more excitement these few weeks, but I've blocked them out . . . I'm putting the "adventure" behind me now and am looking forward to the promise of a new year!

Here are the letters we put together for our friends and family this year:

When you leave the Christmas card responsibility in the hands of a little redheaded girl who is not quite two years old, you get something musical, short and snappy - much like her!

(sung to the tune of “Baa Baa Black Sheep”)

Hel-lo, everyone!
For Merry Christmas time,
(Sister’s) here to sing you
A little family rhyme.

(Mr. Music) is reading,
And learning how to write.
Daddy is dreaming
Of me sleeping through the night.

Mommy is eye-ball deep
In blogs and press releases.
I’m learning to put together
Puzzles with (a handful of) pieces.

Swimming lessons, music
And (Mr. Music)’s pre-school, too.
As much as we enjoy them,
None are as special to us as you!

Merry Christmas, Family.
Happy New Year, Friends.
Wishing you love and joy
As this full year ends!


Little Sister

And our thank you notes go something like this:

We’ve been a little stir crazy this December (i.e., the snow has kept us homebound for over 2 weeks!). To entertain ourselves (and you), we created this “Mad Lib-style” note to express our gratitude for your kindness this Christmas. We did part of it for you, but you’ll need to pick the nearest friend or relative to help you fill in rest of the blanks before you read the note. Be creative and enjoy the results!

Adjective: ________________________
Person’s Name: ___________________
Person’s Name: ___________________
Verb: ___________________________
Verb: ___________________________
Plural Noun: ______________________
Verb: ___________________________
Noun: ___________________________
Verb: ___________________________
Noun: ___________________________
Verb ending in –ing: _______________
Number: _________
Number: _________
Noun: ___________________________
Group of people: __________________
Noun: ___________________________
Person: __________________________
Person: __________________________
Verb ending in –ing: _______________
Exclamation: _____________________
Adjective: ________________________

Sorry I can't format the letter to look right here on Blogger. I think you get the idea, though!

Dear _______________,
(person’s name)

Christmas at our house was _______________. We spent the day with

_______ and ___________ doing _____________. We ______________ with
(person’s name) (person’s name) (verb) (verb)

our new _____________________.
(plural noun)

My favorite part of the day was _____________ ______________. Next
(verb) (noun)

year I hope we can do it again, and maybe __________________ with ____________, too.
(verb) (noun)

Snow has been _______________ here for _______ days. We took advantage of
(verb ending in –ing) (number)

the _______ inches of snow by building a ______________, sledding with our
(number) (noun)
_____________, and having ______________ fights. My _________ and _________
(group of people) (noun) (person) (person)

even snow-shoed to our house everyday to visit with us! It is all melting now and we’re

____________ for floods. _____________!
(verb ending with –ing) (exclamation)

Thank you again for your thoughtfulness this Christmas. I really like the

__________ and ___________ and ________________
(noun) (noun) (noun)

you sent me. I’m looking forward to ______________________ with it.
(verb ending in –ing)

Have a _____________________ New Year!


(person’s name)

Enjoy the end of 2008, everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ball, Mama! (with photos!)

I like to take my time waking up. When I was teaching (before we had kids) I'd get up at 4:45, shower in the dark, throw on a robe to have breakfast in the dark, and THEN brave the light to get ready for the day. My mornings as a mother aren't quite as leisurely (at ALL!), but I still take a bit to soak everything in before I can get rolling. Today was no different.

After breakfast the kids were engaged in some sort of fort-building, baby-doll playing, book-reading adventure (yes, all three at once - my kids are multi-taskers like their mama). Since they clearly had a plan that didn't involve me (this time!) I had a chance to check my email and read a few blogs. My husband needs coffee to jump start his mornings, I need my computer screen.

About five minutes later my daughter wandered over into my work space (a stone's throw from where they were playing) and spotted my hand weights and Bounce Your Body Beautiful Book.

"Mama! This Mama's!" she excitedly announced, holding up the weights.

"Yes those weights are Mama's. Put those down so you don't drop them on your toes. I'll use them later." I said as I finished reading a post.

"Now, Mama! Ball, Mama!"

"Go play with your brother for a few minutes and then I'll get to it." I tried to stall her.

"Ball! This book, Mama! Now! Yeah! Yeah!" she shouted as she ran full speed down the hall to my bedroom to retrieve my balance ball. Clearly she wasn't interested in MY timeline. This girl wanted me to work out - NOW. And, as it turns out . . . so did Mr. Music.

"Come on, let's put on our workout clothes, too. We can ALL work out!" he chimed in. There was no turning this thing back - a workout clearly was my destiny. Blogs could be read later.

So, I threw on something more appropriate than flannel pants and an old 5K race shirt while the kids disappeared into Mr. Music's room to conjure up their own brand of gear. Knowing that it wouldn't go well with a 4 year-old or a nearly-2 year-old on a grown-up's balance ball, I figured I better make an alternate plan for their modified exercises.

Each would do their exercises on a yoga mat. Instead of hand weights, one would use rhythm sticks, the other drum sticks. This is how we roll. We're a musical bunch. You knew that, though, right?

No sooner did I have my plan figured and in place then the kids came barrelling out to join me - decked out in Mr. Music's superhero Underoos. Yup - Mr. Music in the Superman garb, Little Sister sporting a mix of his Diego and Spiderman sets.

"Oh, I see I have some superheros joining me!" If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?

"We're not super HEROES, Mom. We're super WORKOUT heroes!" Mr. Music corrected.

"Yeah. Super. Work. Mama." Little Sister grunted, raising her arms up to show me her muscles.

Really, how could I have been so naive as to not notice that these were no run-of-the-mill superheroes?

And so, with my super WORKOUT heroes beside me, I got started. They stuck with me for about 3 exercises before they felt strong enough to rescue some poor stuffed hippo from a burning building (closet) somewhere. I knew this because my son announced, "Woah. I'm feeling stronger now. I'm sure glad we decided to work out with you today, Mom. My muscles are definitely bigger! Come on, (Little Sister), someone needs our help!"

"Yeah! Strong!" she agreed.

And off they pitter-pattered, leaving me to finish my circuit with a smile. Sure, I had a bit less screen time before facing the day, but this time it was worth it.
*Sorry it took me two days to get the photos posted, I had trouble with Blogger, but finally got it to cooperate tonight! Thanks for coming back to see the super WORKOUT heroes a view.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Unexpected Workouts

The snow out here in our little area of Western Washington has been nearly non-stop for the past 4 days. I haven't left the house in a vehicle since last Wednesday. Our neighboring towns haven't gotten nearly as much as we have - we're up to over 20 inches so far, and the snow continues to pour down - so even folks just 8-10 miles from us have only seen 4-10 inches. Ours is truly a winter wonderland.

On Monday morning my son exclaimed, "This is the coldest day EVER!" Turns out he was right. At 17 degrees Fahrenheit, it WAS the coldest day ever in his 4.5 years . . . until Saturday when the temperature dropped to 3 degrees. Not dropped 3 degrees, dropped TO 3 degrees. Brrrrrr!

With all of this snow, what better to do than get out and play in it! Little sister wasn't too thrilled with the whole idea, but she is pretty keen on the snow pants and boots. And since the rest of us were interested, she decided to join in a bit for the sledding. That's my girl - up for the best part of the adventure!

(Hard to see the smile under her coat, but it was BIG!)

Even Albus played for over an hour in the snow on Thursday, running up and down our hilly street, playing with other dogs and the kids. As a lab mix he just ADORES the snow! Sadly his fun came to an end when he me up with a dog who wasn't so interested in romping. They got into a fight and Albus came out of it with a nasty gash (that we didn't discover until bedtime). My husband and my dad walked him down to the local vet's office (about a mile) the next morning for some staples and antibiotics. Thankfully he was able to make the walk there and back without much trouble. Whew!

So, with all of this time on our hands, both my husband and I have gotten in some extra runs on the treadmill. The sledding and hill climbing in the snow are great for cardio workouts, too! He took our son for a mile-long snowshoe trek up the hill to my parents' house on Friday (and back!), so Mr. Music is getting good physical release in all of this, too. This morning I took him out to crunch around on the icy snow for a bit and we collected big chunks of ice along the way. I can honestly say I've never had an ice collection until today!

My parents are the ones getting the best workouts in all of this. They've snowshoed down to our place 3 times in the last 3 days. My dad also made the extra trek to the vet's, so as he puts it, "I've worked out more in the last 3 days than I have in 3 months!" I think this is just the experience to get them both back on their fitness paths. Sort of a jump start for the New Year!

That being said, I should probably see about getting my balance ball workout in for the day. I finished the 6 week Bounce Your Body Beautiful plan by Liz Applegate and am 2 weeks into doing the workouts for a second time. I'm really into this strength training stuff and am kicking myself for not giving it a shot sooner!

Have a wonderful Christmas week, everyone!

Oh, and I'll see if I can add a picture tonight to show you the full 20 inches of snow. All of the photos above are from early in the storm experience.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Finding the Silver Lining

Yup, it happened again. I lost my yellow hat. While life has been rolling along fairly smoothly as of late, but I've been finding myself getting bogged down with bouts of pessimism. Ugh!

I find that it is much too easy to latch onto negative thoughts and let them fester, all the while knowing in the back of my mind that the pessimism is unhealthy for me and my family. When I started growling at the kids for no good reason it made me stop to re-frame things and get me back on track to finding that beloved yellow hat!

This week I started playing a little mind game with myself:

When I'm ankle, knee, shoulder . . . or even eyeball deep in frustration, I take a breath and find the silver lining in the situation.

Allow me illustrate:

Frustration: I just walked my daughter back to her bed for literally the 20th time tonight. This is probably the 20th night of this ritual in the past month or so.

Silver Lining: I'm using the experience as a practice in self-discipline and as time to "just breathe". It also worked out timing-wise for writing a guest post at the Positivity Blog. If you haven't yet checked out that blog, you should.

Now. Just go. I'll still be here when you get back.

See? It's great, isn't it? Well worth the trip, right?

Now . . . back to what I was saying.

Frustration: School was cancelled today in anticipation of big, snowy storms. Funny thing, though - not a single snowflake fell until 5PM. Since Mr. Music was home most of last week, I was really looking forward to having him at school!!

Silver Lining: I invited my mom to come over and decorate our Christmas tree with us (as a surprise for my Grinchy husband who would rather not decorate - and he WAS thrilled to come home to a house all decorated and cleaned because that meant HE didn't have to do any of it). We also got in much needed trips to the Chiropractor, the post office and to our church to make a donation to the food pantry.

Frustration: My daughter's attention span while I'm on the treadmill is about 20 minutes. Not so good for much of a run.

Silver Lining: It is better than not running AND I'm setting a good example for her by taking care of myself. I'm more likely to get on the treadmill more frequently each week now that I know she CAN last 20 minutes. I'm hopeful that we'll be able to lengthen the time and that it will help with her adjustment to being in the Child Watch at the YMCA when I take classes. It is also motivating me to keep up with my strength training, since my stronger core is enabling me to run faster!

With our Christmas tree right next to my work space, I'll likely find the silver lining easy to discover for the remainder of the year. I hope that regular posts on this topic will help me continue on my path of optimism. I'm also finding that my patience extends longer when I can find the positive in a negative situation. Patience is a priceless (and essential for sanity) when your kids are 4 and nearly 2!

Like the Smurfs sang all those years ago, "Goodness makes the badness go away! When there's goodness in your heart, the badness just can't start. Goodness makes the badness go away!"

As for YOU, what silver lining you can find in your life this week? What words of wisdom have stuck with you from the cartoons of your youth?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Starting with a Thankful Heart (and photos, as promised!)

Today was one of those days. You know the kind. The day when you throw your hands up in the air and wonder, "Really?" But, when all was said and done today, it turned out find. I'm tired, but still thankful for a good number of things:

1. The packages to the aunts and uncles are in the mail - complete with little kid-made dough ornaments with the tags for a splash of holiday cheer!

2. Little Sister did her shopping for Mr. Music before we picked him up from school. No lines at our favorite locally owned shop, though I was happy to see a number of shoppers!

3. After dinner we had an impromptu hacky sack circle which was just hilarious. Neither of us adults are any good at it (despite hours and hours of it in high school and college . . . very sad, really), but we sure looked like superstars compared to the 4 year old and almost 2 year old! Mr. Music is great at getting hit in the forehead and Little Sister kept us all on our toes by running around in circles and randomly crashing into one of us for her turn with the footbag (which she would then pretend to throw, but really just hand off to the next person). It really was a fun time and we all had sweaty faces afterwards to prove that "circle kicking" CAN be a workout if done with the right people (especially when those people are under the age of 5).
4. Despite icy roads and icy hills, we accomplished all of our errands safely. My favorite trip was to the post office (the first stop to the first post office of the day) when I picked up our package with the book's award stickers!!!

This is our award certificate for the Moonbeam Children's Book Award - isn't it fancy? You can see the stickers in the corners. I'll get a photo of a sticker on a book ASAP.

Even the envelope the certificate was sent in is sparkly!

Here's the actual Bronze Medal! The center moon part actually spins, so it is really quite cool. I'm still trying to figure out appropriate framing of it.
5. I finally have photos to share with you of our big Christmas sewing adventure (although if you are a relative of mine, I'm going to ask you to use your self-control and please go visit another site without viewing this next set of photos - they are Christmas gift related in nature!).

See how the bag folds flat so nicely? That's because we used a canvas bag as a template! This is one of 5 different fabric combos. It just so happens that I bought this fabric in Italy in 1999. I used some of the fabric for bedroom curtains when we lived in North Carolina - but now I've reused it all for reusable bags!

If the bag could stand alone, it would look like this (we filled it with reference books!). We have since added straps made of the same fabric, but I haven't gotten a photo of the bags with straps yet!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Making My List and Checking it Twice (for Double Points!)

Last year I coordinated a class gift for my son's pre-school teachers. The product was a book of wishes from the students - each kiddo wrote what they wished for each teacher on a page and included a photo of themselves. One of the other moms is a graphic designer so she created beautiful covers for the books and we "bound" them with silver ribbon. Families also pitched in to get the teachers gift certificates from Barnes & Noble and Fred Meyer (for those of you who are unfamiliar with Fred Meyer, it is a store in the Kroger family of grocery stores, but expands to be more like a Target). I was really pleased with how it all came together and the priceless quality of the books - when they were all done, I selfishly wished I could keep a copy for myself!

This year I brainstormed for about two weeks to come up with a class gift idea, but everything sounded ridiculously lame compared to last year's idea. Then my son got sick and my father-in-law visited for a day and before I knew it, this week was over and I hadn't come up with anything. But . . . nobody seemed to even notice! So, I decided that there was no real reason for me to stress over a class gift, especially since it was just a nice gesture and not a true responsibility. Talk about a stress-relieving decision - whew!

Now I'm free to consider what to get the teachers from our family without worrying about everyone else. The decision is really a no-brainer, too: BOOKS!

The lead teacher is an avid knitter and quilter and all-around amazing craftswoman. I don't know how she finds the time to do it all and take care of a barn full of horses and a classroom full of kids, but she does. She truly has the patience of a saint to manage so many tedious things! Yet somehow this remarkable woman hasn't read The Quiltmaker's Gift by the talented combo of author Jeff Brumbeau and illustrator Gail de Marcken. The assistant teacher is a delightfully cheery woman. I don't know her as well since this is her first year with the class, but I know that there is a wonderful book that will call out to me for her as I wander the aisles.

So, here's my plan:

I'm going to get some Barnes & Noble gift cards from Safeway to use for my book purchases for the teachers (and a few other folks on my list that I haven't already found the perfect goodies for). I'll use the cards like cash for my shopping AND I'll get a few more cents discount at the Safeway gas station - not a bad deal! We have three Safeway gas stations near us, so we're sure to put the discounts to use before the Rewards expire at the end of the year.

Not sure what I'm talking about? Well . . .

Safeway has a special promotion going right now - PowerPump Rewards. According to the Safeway site: Now thru 12/25/08 you can earn Double PowerPump Rewards (through regular grocery purchases). Earn an additional Reward for every $100 you spend on Gift Cards. Safeway offers over 300 different Gift Cards from which to choose. The list is BROAD. It includes restaurants like Panera (my son's favorite); electronic/toy stores like Best Buy and Toys R Us; clothing stores like LL Bean and Belk; airlines like Southwest and Jet Blue; entertainment companies like AMC Theaters and Barnes & Noble. . . and MANY MORE! Check out the PowerPump Locator to find a Safeway near you and to see the selection of Gift Cards for yourself.*

I'm not much of a Gift Card giver, since I like to make gifts or pick something meaningful (like SPECIFIC books) for people (hence our mad scramble to finish our Christmas projects mentioned here - photos to be posted next week!). BUT, I think that purchasing Gift Cards to use for our own shopping is an easy way to make the "not-so-mighty" dollar stretch a bit further as we do our best to contribute to our local economy. I also appreciate that you can get Gift Cards for experiences (movie theatres, air travel, hotels, etc.), since I think those are the next best things to books and a good run.

And now that I've refreshed my own memory on the Gift Card selection, we might just have to get a few Southwest cards now to use when we fly down to CA to meet our new nephew!

How about YOU? What Gift Card could you purchase to use for your holiday shopping? Any Gift Cards you would use as gifts?
*Please don't hold me to any details, just check the site for yourself!
Oh, and please know that I checked two local bookstores for The Quiltmaker's Gift first - independent bookstores are gems and I do my best to support them first . . . sort of like ordering books direct from authors/independent publishers when possible!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lost in the Pages: Book Review of The Busy Body Book by Lizzy Rockwell

As we are now full immersed in the joy of the holiday season, I think it is important to remember all of the things that keep our bodies happy - and make it fun for our children to understand why we can't have cookies all day long!

You may recall from an earlier pre-holiday post, Books for the Holidays, I'm focused on making books an integral part of our Christmas gift-giving. I was going to save this book for a stocking stuffer for my son, but couldn't hold off that long. Maybe you have stronger will-power than I had! This is a fun book that you'll want to share with your children (or grandchildren) as you pass along your passion for health and wellness.

The Busy Body Book: A Kid's Guide to Fitness by Lizzy Rockwell caught my eye at our local Jamba Juice smoothie store. While we weren't able to purchase anything there that day (turns out the store didn't have allergy-free blenders like Emerald City Smoothies does), the book's cover stuck in my mind and I ordered the paperback version from Scholastic Books through my son's preschool just a few weeks later. I was not disappointed!

Filled with lively illustrations of kids of all ethnicities, sizes and abilities happily engaged in physical activity, this book is a geared for the pre-school/kindergarten crowd. Rockwell brings the workings of the human body down to a youngster's comprehension and vocabulary level without dumbing down the concepts. For example, when describing how the brain and nervous system work, she writes, "Messages travel back and forth, at lightning speed, along wire-thin fibers called nerves." That truly is it in a nutshell, right?!

As a former teacher I also appreciate the inclusion of diagrams throughout the book. Well labeled diagrams of the systems of the body (skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, circulatory and digestive) enhance the main content of the book. The earlier kids get accustomed to reading diagrams, the easier school will be for them!

My daughter's favorite page (and keep in mind that she's not quite 2, but very interested in books) is one toward the end that is a grid of children involved in 40 different physical activities ranging from leaf raking to kayaking. These simple, but colorful illustrations show children that "There are lots of ways to be a busy body!" My daughter is captivated by the illustrations of a young girl horseback riding and a redhead swinging (we're all redheads). My son likes pointing out all of the activities we've done together and pointing out the ones he'd like to try (namely skateboarding and tree climbing!). The musician in him loves that a marching trumpet player is included in the mix while the mom in me enjoys the depiction of a little boy scrubbing a floor!

The Busy Body Book is a fun resource for teachers to use in their classrooms for units about the body and for lessons about how to read diagrams. Families will enjoy sharing the book before heading outdoors for a physical adventure (or maybe even before chore time!). The bright colors and positive message leave the reader smiling and energized. This book would be fun to pair with mine, We Are Girls Who Love to Run/Somos Chicas y A Nosotras Nos Encanta Correr and if you have two kids for whom you are purchasing books (The Busy Body Book for a younger child (boy or girl) and my book for an older sister, friend or cousin)!

Next on my list of books to review is Rockwell's other title: Good Enough to Eat: A Kid's Guide to Food and Nutrition. It will be post-Christmas, though, as that book IS going in my son's Christmas stocking!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Starting with a Thankful Mommy Heart

I didn't realize until just now that I haven't posted in a full week. What happened to that week?!

Ummmmm, I'm not really sure. But I DO know that I am thankful as the week starts because:

1. I'm a stay-at-home mom who can take care of my son as he battles a wicked cough (really, it is a killer one). I'm not sure how working moms do it. My heart goes out to them!

2. My husband made chicken soup for dinner last night and the leftovers were perfect for my son's lunch today. I don't know if he was more excited that it was soup or more excited that his dad made it just for him.

3. In my hours of market research I've run across some really cool websites. Today I discovered Girlfriendology. Fun site to check out! And maybe you'd be interested in Skipping Stones (an international multicultural magazine). Discovering new things is what keeps me from remembering to put on socks . . . seriously, I get caught up in reading and forget that I was "just going to read some email while I put on my socks" and then an hour has passed and they still sit rolled up next to my keyboard while my feet turn icy!

4. My husband and I got to have 2 nights and a Saturday to ourselves while the kids played at my parents' house. Friday night was fabulous with dinner at Spazzo's, an Italian restaurant in Redmond. Just thinking about it makes me smile. Saturday we enjoyed our regular bagel run to Blazin' Bagels and then knocked out a bulk of our Christmas shopping. Saturday was a sewing marathon to work on our Christmas project as we watched Get Smart (NOT a worthwhile movie, BTW). We were able to finish off the weekend with quick runs on the treadmill (too foggy to venture far outside by foot) before we had to fetch the small ones (one of whom is SICK) Sunday morning.

5. Today my daughter brought me a hair band and a comb so I could put her hair in a pony tail. Never in all of her nearly twenty-three months has she ASKED to have her hair pulled back, despite the fact that it is usually in her eyes or stuck to her nose! I'm wondering if she asked because I have my hair pulled back today (unusual unless I'm going for a run).

What about YOU? What are you thankful for today - something little or something big?

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Wishing you HEALTH and happiness as you prepare for the holidays.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Starting With a Thankful Heart as Things Fall into Place

Today I am thankful for things coming to fruition after much planning and leg work:

1. My guest blog post is up at the Positivity Blog - this is a blog worth following, it is filled with fantastic daily reminders of how to live a life of gratitude and positive thinking. Check it out (and not just MY post, take a minute or two to read some of the regular posts - I promise it is worth your while. Subscribe to it, even!).

2. I was a guest on the Seattle-area radio show Chat With Women this morning. I was thankful that traffic was light and I made it to the station with time to spare (and time to go to the bathroom, even though I had to hunt down a code to get into the locked restroom!!). I'll have the 20 minute audio up on the Balanced Steps website by the end of the day.

3. I'm getting orders for my book from people who met me at the REF Turkey Trot Fun Runs in November.

4. Our Christmas gift making plan is working well - my husband and I figured out some good techniques and steps for the process last night.

5. My mother-in-law gets to meet her newest grandson this week - happy travels!

How about YOU? What are you thankful for today? Be sure to leave a comment!

Have a wonderful week!