Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekend Rundown

Weekends are so short. This one was as busy as ever, and considerably better than last weekend.

I mentioned that Connor is going as Shaggy from Scooby Doo for Halloween. Well Friday I went to pick Lucy up from school and came back to find Chris fully in project mode, creating a Mystery Machine out of our wagon for Connor to take trick or treating. I started helping him, and it took up the whole afternoon. We had a trunk or treat to go to that night and Chris really wanted to get it done so we could take it with us. While he was putting it together in the front yard, Mathilda was getting so excited and asked to go outside with daddy while wearing her Halloween costume. So she stood out there waving to anyone who drove by. She's wearing Lucy's old Chewbacca costume, and she loves it so much. If you're wondering why we have a traditionally boyish costume for our girls, it's because Lucy specifically asked to be Chewy for Halloween when she was 2. Our kids start young with the Star Wars. Before Connor was 2, he could name any Star Wars character you showed him. Blame this on Chris.

We spent Friday evening at the trunk or treat, which was at our friends' church. I love trunk or treating. I think I would be perfectly happy replacing real trick or treating with trunk or treating. If you're not familiar with trunk or treating yet, it's where a bunch of cars park in a parking lot with their trunks open and pass out candy right from their cars. A lot of people decorate their trunks, and it's really fun. It's just like concentrated trick or treating, with no worries that you're wasting your time trudging up and down a block with only two houses passing out candy. A bunch of friends were there, the church had snacks and games and haunted pirate ship rides for the kids. Music was playing and the kids were dancing in the parking lot. It wasn't raining or snowing,and it was pretty much just a great night. We brought home a couple extra kids with us, and they all hung out watching Punky Brewster episodes before hitting they hay. 

Saturday our guests left and Chris's mom came to pick up Bethany and Lucy for a couple hours. She took Bethany to get a feather, and although Lucy didn't want one, she was happy to tag along. About 20 minutes after the girls came home, Bethany left again to go to a movie with a friend. And as soon as she came home from the movie, it was time for her to get ready for another friend's Halloween party. I can't imagine what this girl's social calendar is going to look like by the time she's in high school.

I picked up a couple of Bethany's friends and we were on our way to the party. Bethany's friend's mom is a friend of mine, and she just had surgery and can't walk. Crazy woman that she is (and super dedicated mom!), she went forward with the party despite the fact that she was supposed to be laying down with her foot elevated. So I stayed to help and did my best to keep her off her foot, which was fruitless. But I'm glad I stayed because I had a great time hanging out with her and her hubs and I got to meet a lot of Bethany's fellow 5th graders. (Want to get to know your kid's friends? Have parties, invite them into your home. It is so worth it just to be able to place names with faces and see for yourself what these kids - and their parents - are like.) The kids had a blast, especially if the fun quotient was a measure of the noise level. They all wore costumes and danced and played games like good little sports. Bethany ended up staying the night with a couple other girls.

Sunday started out lazy. After I picked Bethany up, we carved pumpkins. Then Chris took Bethany and Connor down to the basement for a coming of age event: watching Poltergeist for the first time. Poltergeist was the first super scary movie Chris and I each watched when we were kids. I was a little reluctant to let my kids watch it because it freaked me the hell out when I first saw it. But Chris suggested maybe I was being over-protective, and they really wanted to watch it, so we both gave the green light. I went downstairs to check on them when the movie was about 15 minutes from ending, and they were both wondering what the fuss was about. They liked the movie but didn't think it was scary at all. Has the world changed that much?!? However, the last 10 or 15 minutes scared Bethany big time (Connor maintains that he only got scared when the clown doll jumped out), and she went to bed with the covers over her head. I'm hoping for no nightmares.

Actual conversation with Mathilda this weekend:

Mathilda: I scratch Mommy's back.
Me: Okay, go ahead, you can scratch my back.
Mathilda: (Lifts up my shirt to scratch my back) Uh-oh! It's poop!
Me: What are you talking about? What's poop?
Mathilda: (Touches a mole on my back)
Me: That's not poop! It's a beauty mark (euphemism for mole)!
Mathilda: Oooooh. I get booty mark too mama!

I love two. It's so much fun. I can't believe that within a year she'll change so drastically, she'll be ready for preschool. PAUSE.

I hope you had a fabulous weekend too!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kitchen Wishes

My kitchen makes me cringe. I'm pretty sure it was re-done by previous owners right in the middle of the country kitchen "craze". And I'm not talking about a quaint country French kitchen, I'm thinking more of a mid 1980's look. And then it was frozen in time, like a time capsule. We were in such a rush when we moved into this house, being that I was about to give birth any second, that we never got around to doing anything to the kitchen besides painting and putting in a new ceiling fan. And then of course there never seems to be any money for things like new counter tops. But a girl can dream!

One thing that really bothers me is that it doesn't look like the cupboards were installed in a way that utilizes all the available space. I don't see a gutted kitchen anywhere in my future, so I suppose I'll have to live with the cabinet placement. The light honey colored wood is not my fave either. For the past two and a half years I've been saying we should stain the cupboard doors, and maybe there is a chance of that happening sometime. If we did that, and switched the cabinet hardware, it would make a huge difference. 

But, my list of complaints continues. I hate the sink. It's too small and it's white. I have to scrub that sucker with all my might to get it clean. Chris and I actually bought a new sink on clearance a couple years ago, and I'd love to install it. However, there's the problem of the country blue countertops, edged in wood that matches the cabinets. They are wretched. And I don't want to switch the sink until we get new countertops. I'd love something really gorgeous, like marble countertops.  

I'd also like to take down a wall, get new flooring, pick out or make new window treatments, and get a new stove. For now I'm just window shopping, but maybe next year we can start creating a kitchen that doesn't make me want to cook blindfolded.

Week in Review

In case you've missed anything on MichiGal this week, here's a quick review of what's been happening.
Also, just an update about that email I sent to Airwalk about Connor's shoes literally falling apart. I did hear back from them, but they only said Payless is responsible because Payless manufactures all Airwalk shoes sold in Payless stores. So keep that in mind! Supposedly my email was forwarded to the proper party at Payless, and I should be hearing from them at any moment. We'll probably just return them to the store this week and see what they say.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Send Postcards Easily With Postcardly - GIVEAWAY! Ends 11/10/11

I love postcards, and I always have the best of intentions to actually send them to friends and family when I go on vacation. Unfortunately, if I ever manage to buy them, which I think we can all agree is the first step in the postcard sending process, I rarely make it to the next step of writing on the postcard and addressing it. Then there's the real stickler, the mailing process - finding a post office to buy stamps and mail the postcards. I definitely think the effort is worthwhile, but I think staying caught up on laundry is a worthwhile endeavor as well, and if you've ever seen my laundry room (and my GOD! I hope you  haven't!), you might have an idea of where I'm going with this.

Then I found out about a new service called Postcardly. It's a service that allows you to easily send postcards of pictures you've taken. If I'm getting ready to go on a trip, I can log into my Postcardly account and set everything up for everyone on my postcard list. All I have to do is create a unique email address for each recipient, for example, and enter mailing addresses for each person. This is a very easy process with simple directions to guide users through the process. Then, while I'm on vacation and I just took an awesome picture that I want to share with someone, I just email the picture to their Postcardly email address, along with a personal message, and Postcardly creates a real live postcard out of the email and mails it. Postage is included in the price.

There are so many things I love about this service! I love that my postcards can now be 100%  unique and personal. Instead of the stock photos that everyone else is sending, my postcards can have pictures of my kids in them, or whatever else I want. I love that I can send one little email and then everything else is done for me. And I love that I can use Postcardly for more than just vacation postcards. I can send a personal message and picture anytime, and for any reason. I can even take a picture on my phone and email it right from my phone!

I sent a Postcardly to myself just to try it out, and the nice quality postcard arrived in less than a week. I sent one to my friend, a picture of Mattie with her daughter, with a message that Mattie misses Chloe and hopefully we can get together soon. I'm planning on using these for thank you cards as well. When someone sends one of my kids a gift, I can take a picture of my kid with the gift, add a thank you message, and with a quick email, send it off. 

Maybe you have become accustomed to posting pictures on your Facebook page as your primary means of sharing photos with your family and friends. Maybe your mom's not on Facebook and she's getting sick of being left out of the loop. You can now appease her with Postcardly! In fact, Postcardly was started by three family guys, one of whom wanted to make sure his grandma, who doesn't use a computer, wouldn't get left out.

Anyone can go to and get a FREE 3 postcard trial. Hop on over there and get your trial, you'll love it! And when you can't get enough, you can sign up for one of their affordable plans. The postcards work out to cost 99 cents each (or less, depending on the plan you choose), including postage, and you can buy as few as 5 at a time. That's cheaper than buying a postcard or a card at the store and putting a stamp on it. 

The folks at Postcardly were nice enough to let me try out their service by giving me 10 free postcards. And they want to share with one of you too! I have a code for 10 free postcards to give to one lucky winner! Contest ends 11/10/11, so please enter now and spread the word! U.S. only.

Just follow my easy rules to win, and don't forget to include your email address and to leave a SEPARATE comment for each entry!:

  1. (This is MANDATORY) Leave me a comment below telling me where you would love to send a post card from. 
  2. (Optional) Go "like" Postcardly on Facebook
  3. (Optional) Go "like" MichiGal on Facebook.
  4. (Optional) Follow MichiGal on Twitter.
Remember, even if you don't win, you can still go to and get a 3 postcard FREE trial! Everyone's a winner!

Thanks to Postcardly for allowing me to try out this awesome service by providing me with 10 free postcards. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dream Destination: Costa Rica

monteverdeSo I was just telling you all that I think it'd be the bees knees to spend Christmas in a tropical paradise. Some might think I'm crazy, maybe even my own husband and kids. But nonetheless, I have been daydreaming about a vacation. It doesn't have to be at Christmas time, it just has to be warm and...well pretty much, that's my main requirement.

Here's something you may not know about me: I've always wanted to visit a rain forest. The Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica looks and sounds like heaven. I love wildlife and trees, and if you throw in a waterfall or two, well I don't know if it could get much better. The idea of zip-lining through the rainforest, like I always see on travel ads for Costa Rica, both terrifies and thrills me. If I ever get there, I hope I have the guts to try it.

I find myself perusing Costa Rica homes for rent online, and imagining different scenarios: Chris and I, alone; Chris and I, with the kids; Chris and I, with friends; Chris and I, with friends and kids (theirs and ours). I know Chris is itching to book a trip for just he and I, and I have to admit that would be awfully nice. Of course I have a hard time doing anything really awesome without my kids, because the whole time I'm thinking about how much they would love everything. But grown-up time is sometimes a necessity. It's okay to miss my babies now and then. Maybe before they all graduate from high school we'll actually get to do it.

Have you ever been to a rain forest, or to Costa Rica? Do you ever travel for pleasure without your kids? Does the guilt eat you alive, or do you love it?

Thursday Thankful Round-Up

Every single day I have so much to be thankful for. Here's a little peak at what I'm feeling particularly grateful for this week.
  • I'm thankful for the UPS man...and the FedEx man...and the mailman too. I LOVE getting packages, and I've been getting tons lately. Ahhhh, it's so satisfying to see a box on my porch.
  • I'm thankful that my mother-in-law brought pizza over for dinner last night and I didn't have to cook. And she brought homemade cookies and pumpkins for all the kids. (Now I guess that means we have to find some time to carve all those pumpkins!)
  • I'm thankful that Chris has been getting up and cooking breakfast for the kids this week. They are loving it!
  • I'm thankful that I'm hanging out with some friends tomorrow night.
  • I'm thankful that my friend Tina is always willing to go to Zumba with me, even if I end up canceling on her half the time. And that she stands in front of me so I can follow her.
  • I'm thankful for Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupons. Now that they sell toiletry items there, I've been using my $5 off $15 coupons to buy mouthwash, deodorant, and the like. And in case you weren't aware, you can also use manufacturer's coupons WITH the BB&B coupons (which never expire!).
  • I'm thankful I got to hang out with my mom for a few hours on Sunday.
  • I'm thankful that the sickies from last week are out of my house.
  • I'm thankful for the new Marisa de los Santos book I'm reading right now, Falling Together. I'm loving it, and I know my friend Hilary is dying to get her hands on it so I really need to finish it ASAP.
  • I'm thankful for my kids for making me laugh every single day. 
What are you thankful for this week?

Squishy Toilets

Product DetailsIt's come to my attention that for some inexplicable reason, a chosen few have stumbled across MichiGal by typing into their Google search bars the term "squishy toilets."

This puzzles me. I did do that post about our 1950's bathroom, but I'm fairly certain I've never written about squishy toilets. However, I certainly don't want to disappoint anyone who is here looking for information about squishy toilets. I know the frustration of Googling some odd little obscure phrase and being unable to find anything relevant in your search results. 

So, a few words about squishy toilets.

When I think of squishy toilets, I think about those vinyl toilet seats that invariably crack on the sides sooner or later, exposing the inner padding which is, frankly, not attractive. Plus those hard edges can be quite uncomfortable. If a tear occurs right on top of the seat, which sometimes happens, well it's just a matter of time before the whole thing is shot to hell and you find yourself needing to buy a replacement toilet seat. Plus there's that sensation of deflating the air out of a balloon every time you sit down.

My advice? Look beyond the padded, or squishy if you will, toilet seats. Don't do it. You may be tempted by what you think is an added measure of comfort, but I'm telling you, it's a lie. That seat might be soft and lush at first, but not for long. And then you'll be back to square one.

If "squishy toilets" means something entirely different to you, well then I can only apologize and wish you well on your continued search. Also, if any of my friends has and loves a squishy toilet seat, no offense. I think we can agree to disagree on this matter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

(Away From) Home for the Holidays

Right about next Tuesday, we'll most likely start getting bombarded with Christmas music and Christmas decorations in all the stores. I am personally more comfortable keeping the Christmas season a little shorter, but I do have a massive amount of planning and shopping to do before December 25, so I guess it's better if I just suck it up and jump on board.

This year it won't be happening, but someday I'd love for the six of us to get out of town for Christmas. I love spending time with extended family, but the holidays just seem to get so hectic that it's hard to slow down long enough to enjoy our time together. Maybe doing some holiday travel, instead of holiday decorating, baking, and running around like maniacs, would be a nice break from routine. We might have to wait until we're past the Santa stage, because that could be a little confusing to explain. Although Santa does go everywhere, so I'm sure he could find us.

There would be some practical things to consider. How would we handle gifts, for example? Would we just buy all little things for the kids, so they could open everything on location? Or maybe bring only one or two presents for each of them, and then let them open the rest when we got home? Also, I'm sure we'd still have to make time for holiday visits with our various sets of parents, either before we left or after we returned. But I'm sure we could work everything out if we were properly motivated.

Snow on Christmas morning is a beautiful thing (and not as common as one might think it should be here in southeast Michigan), but I wouldn't miss it for one hot second if I had a beach, an ocean, and sunshine in its place. 

Have you ever spent Christmas on vacation? Would you do it again?

So What! Wednesday

It's Wednesday and that means I'm linking up with Shannon at Life After I Dew for So What! Wednesday!


So What! if we let our 10-year old stay out until midnight on a school night? She went to Halloweekends at Cedar Point with her friend on Sunday and had the time of her life! 
So What! if I forgot to bring candy to Lucy's Halloween party at dance last night? I'm pretty sure there was enough candy to keep those kids buzzing for a few days!
So What! if I'm sitting here munching on Good & Fruity before 8 a.m.? I still miss the old Good & Fruity, by the way ~ they used to be so much better!
So What! if I subjected myself to the possibility of public ridicule by letting my totally uncoordinated self go to a Zumba class again? It's really fun and maybe someday I'll actually be able to follow along without looking the fool!
(While we're on the subject of Zumba...) So What! if I totally just walked off to the side and had a really long drink of water when it was time to do push-ups at Zumba last night? Push-ups = total yuck, + dirty, cold, hard floor = not happening!
So What! if waking up in the dark every morning makes me totally freaking nuts? Maybe I need a caffeine habit to counteract the lack of sunshine.

So What! if I'm going to go grab a book, get comfy on the couch and read for awhile now that the kids have been safely delivered to school?

So What! if I put a Little Einsteins DVD on for Mathilda as soon as she woke up, in order to facilitate the plan outlined above?

What are you saying So What! to this week?



Swimming in a Sea of Pre-Adolescent Lies

Here's an interesting question I've been asking myself lately: 

Are kids, generally speaking, little liars?

Okay maybe I was exaggerating about the interesting part. But I've caught Bethany's friends in lies almost regularly over the past year. Is it an age thing? Is it an indication that these are the girls who will be convincing Bethany, in a few years, to sneak out her bedroom window in the middle of the night to drink stolen booze under the bleachers on the football field? Should I be cutting her off from these friendships before it gets to that point, or am I perhaps over-thinking the situation a wee little bit?

I don't get it. The lies just roll off their tongues easy as pie. Am I out of touch? These are 5th grade girls, ages 10 and 11. And they think it's nothing to lie to their friends and even their friends' parents. For what purpose? Just to get away with it? I haven't figured that part out yet. The result so far is that I don't trust any of them. Let me clarify,though, that I like them all just fine. Bethany's friends are sweet little girls, it's just that some of them have a hang up with telling the truth.

I know I can't really control who Bethany is friends with. But I do worry about her being a follower and trying her own hand at the lying game. Every time I catch one of the little angels fibbing away, I use it as a discussion starting point with Bethany. We've talked a lot about it, actually. I'm trying to teach her the value of honesty and trust. I'm trying to make it crystal clear to her that it's not normal, natural, or okay just to tell lies all the time. I'm trying to teach her that she doesn't have to do something just because her friends do it. I'm pointing out to her how it makes her feel bad when her friends lie to her, and how it makes me feel suspicious. I'm letting her know that our expectation of her is to be truthful. And I'm hoping all this talking is sinking in. I remember being her age, and I know that going against the tide of what your friends are doing is not an easy endeavor. Bethany is a strong girl, and I know she can do it. I just hope she does.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gildan Apparel is Teaming Up With My Stuff Bags to Help Foster Kids

Have you heard of Gildan? There's a pretty good chance that you or someone in your household has a Gildan t-shirt - maybe from a concert or other event - even if the name doesn't ring a bill.

Gildan makes high-quality t-shirts, sweatshirts, socks and underwear - basic essentials made to last. This year they are the title sponsor of the New Mexico Bowl for the first time - now the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.

In keeping with their new affiliation with football, Gildan is running a Touchdowns for Tuition sweepstakes through November 15. The Grand Prize is a $10,000 college scholarship (regardless of the age of your child) AND a trip for a family of 4 to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl! Up to 25 daily prizes will also be given away! Enter once a day for daily instant notification prizes.

Right now Gildan is selling College Care Packages, which include: a pullover hoodie sweatshirt, a crew neck sweatshirt, 3 t-shirts, a Gildan New Mexico Bowl shirt, a 6 pack of underwear (available for men only), and a 6 pack of socks (2 packages for women, to make up for the lack of underwear). The packages are available for a special rate of $39.99 (regular $69!) for the duration of the Touchdowns for Tuition sweepstakes, which ends November 15.

For each College Care Package that Gildan sells, they are donating a socks and underwear package to My Stuff Bags, a non-profit organization that helps to provide foster children with much needed items. Gildan has committed to donating a minimum of 500 socks and underwear care packages, but they would LOVE to donate a lot more!

According to Gildan's Vice President of Marketing and Merchandising,Rob Packard, "Giving back to our community has always been important to Gildan." Janeen Holmes, President/CEO of My Stuff Bags Foundation offers a reminder that "Children who must be rescued from abuse and neglect often enter foster care with nothing of their own." Can you imagine the trauma of a child being removed from his home, which is terrible enough in its own right, and add to it the discomfort of not being able to bring anything familiar from his home? The least these kids need and deserve is their very own brand new package of socks and underwear. 

If you know of anyone who could use a Gildan College Care Package - and everyone could, not just college students - please consider supporting this very worthwhile cause.

Gildan was kind enough to send me a College Care Package, which is a little different than the ones that are for sale. Mine includes a re-usable bag, a crew neck sweatshirt, three t-shirts, a 6-pack of socks and a 6-packof underwear. I ordered mine for Chris and planned on donating at least half of the items to my church for their winter homeless program. When I mentioned this in my email, I had the chance to experience first hand Gildan's dedication to helping out in the community. I was told that instead of just one Care Package, I would actually receive three - one for Chris and two for my church. This was a generous and unexpected gesture.

If you want to get involved, here's what you can do:
  • Visit Gildan's website for more information about their products and programs
  • Like Gildan on Facebook and share it with your friends
  • Enter the Touchdowns for Tuition sweepstakes here or here.
  • Purchase a Gildan College Care Package 
  • Vist the My Stuff Bags website for more information about how they help kids in foster care 
  • Like My Stuff Bags on Facebook and share their page with your friends 
  • Share this post with your friends and family to help spread the word about Gildan's Touchdowns for Tuition sweepstakes, the Gildan College Care Packages, and Gildan's partnership with My Stuff Bags. 

A note about the Touchdowns for Tuition sweepstakes: Gildan will add $1000 to the scholarship for every touchdown scored during the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, up to a maximum of $10,000. In other words, the scholarship may end up being for less than $10,000 - it all depends on the game!

Remember, the deadline to enter the sweepstakes and to order a College Care Package at a discounted price is November 15!

Disclaimer: I received a Gilda care package at no charge, plus two to donate to my church, and each set included a sweatshirts, three t-shirts, a package of socks and a package of underwater. I received no other compensation, and all views and opinions are my own


And the Freebies Keep Coming


Not long ago I wrote a post about a new book coming out in January, Real Moms Love to Eat by Beth Aldrich. I have an e-copy, but I haven't started on it yet. I'm hoping it will give me some healthy eating inspiration. 

As a blogger, I signed up for the Food Affairiate program, to get that e-copy I mentioned so I can read it and & share the awesomeness with everyone. If you are a blogger and interested in book reviews and/or healthy eating, I strongly suggest you check out this program and sign up for it! Not only did I get the e-book,  I'll get a paper copy when it comes out in January 2012. And today I got a fabulous goodie bag, full of freebies from sponsors of the book. Take a look at this! 


Here's what I got:
Whew! That's a lot of freebies! I can't wait to try everything! If you follow this link to pre-order Real Moms Love to Eat, you'll be entered to win randomly drawn prizes. You can get another entry for signing up for Beth's newsletter.

Members of the Food Affairiate program can also sign up to have an in-person book party to introduce Real Moms Love to Eat. The author will come to some of these parties, and if she can't be there in person she can be there virtually via Skype or Gchat. Hostesses will be provided with prizes and treats for their guests! Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Stay tuned for a review of Real Moms Love to Eat in the coming weeks. Maybe I'll review some of these yummy looking samples I received as well.

Disclosure: I was gifted from Restoring Essence Nutrition, LLC-owner of Real Moms Love to Eat, a free copy of the book, “Real Moms Love to Eat” and a Food Affairiate goodie bag for participating in this virtual tour and writing about this book pre-order contest.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend Rundown

Well let me just be honest here. I've had better weekends. Since the sickies are cycling through my house I've been caught in the monotony of making Jello and washing pukey sheets and blankets day in and day out. But of course that's not all there was to it.

I spent Friday evening at the kids' elementary school helping out with the Scholastic Book Fair. By helping I mean I tried to make sure the books stayed on the shelves, and that they more or less stayed where they were supposed to. I couldn't believe how many times I found kids stepping on books, and at one point I had to give a kid the I-mean-business-look when he spilled water on a few books and tried to sneak off without doing anything about it. When he realized I was on to him, he very politely got some paper towels for me so I could dry off the books. Good boy. The Book Fair is an absolute mad house, which is good for our school because they earn books based on how many they sell, but not much fun for a person who hates crowds, such as myself. I stayed to help clean up afterward, which was no big deal because I had a  lot of help. Bethany and her friends hung out, doing whatever it is 5th grade girls do, while I worked. The rest of the kids stayed home because 1) Two of them were sick, and 2) It was a mad house (see above) and there's no way I would have been able to look after Mattie.

Saturday I seem to remember being very, very tired. I suppose because of the puking that was going on during the night. The day is a blur. I just remember doing lots of laundry and driving kids around. Chris got a call from a friend asking if he'd be interested in having (as in for FREE) all of his Star Wars Lego sets because he was sick of them. I mean look at that.
<----------------- Go ahead, take a good look. That's a Millennium Falcon there! Connor has been wanting that for ages, but for some strange reason we've been reluctant to dish out the $150 for it. And all those other ships too! So the remainder of the weekend was like Christmas, with Lucy, Chris, and Connor playing Star Wars and Mathilda ticking everyone off because she kept knocking stuff down on the floor like the pint-size trouble maker that she is.

Sunday started off as a continuation of Puke Fest, with a little Dog Poop Fest thrown in for fun. Bethany was off to Cedar Point for the day with a friend, so we didn't even see her until late at night. We haven't had the full report yet, but from the gist of what she said before she fell over into a deep slumber, I'm pretty sure she went on almost every single ride. That's my good brave girl. Where did she come from? Actually I was very worried she was going to wuss out and leave her friend high and dry with nobody to ride with. But nope, she overcame her genetic predisposition to be terrified of amusement park rides. 

So after I got everything and everybody cleaned up Sunday morning, my mom picked me up and we went to a Women's Expo show at a nearby community college. Which turned out to be a bunch of people very aggressively trying to get us to buy new windows, Tupperware, and spa treatments. So we just found a table and sat and chatted for awhile, before leaving to do a little shopping.

When I got home, Chris took Connor to get a new pair of shoes. Several months ago, he got him a pair from a local skate shop, which Connor wore for months before we realized they were two different sizes. Chris had talked to the owner of the shop a couple weeks ago and was told to bring Connor in & he'd give him a new pair of shoes. Which is a really good thing because the new Airwalk shoes Connor got for school, just 6 weeks ago, are totally falling apart already. I emailed Airwalk with some pictures of the shoes. We'll see how much they care about customer satisfaction and selling quality shoes. I'll let you know if I ever hear from them.

That was about the extent of my oh-so-exciting weekend. Did you do anything fun?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tonka Ricochet Tricksters

Awhile back I briefly mentioned that I received a Tonka Ricochet Tricksters remote control vehicle to try out and review, courtesy of BzzAgent.

There are three different types of Ricochet Tricksters, each with a unique signature trick: Buzzsaw Spin, Rampage Flip, and Zig-Zag Jolt.  They retail for about $24.99. The age recommendation on the package is 6+. The controller requires 5 AA batteries, and it needs to be charged for 20-30 minutes (for 15-30 minutes of play time). To charge the car, you connect the car to the controller. There is no electricity involved, so I would suggest using rechargeable batteries.

We received the Zig-Zag Jolt, which can go in a zig-zag motion really fast. But one of the cool things about these toys is that with practice, they can each actually perform all three of the signature tricks. Connor has been able to get ours to do the Buzzsaw Spin pretty well, and he's working on the Rampage Flip. It can also drive on either side, so when it does flip it keeps on going. The kids, including Chris, have been having lots of fun with the Tonka Ricochet Tricksters. You might want to keep this one on your radar if you're shopping for a little boy this Christmas.

Here's a little snippet so you can get a picture of what it looks like in action:

I received a Tonka Ricochet Tricksters free of charge courtesy of BzzAgent. I was not compensated in any other way for this review, and the views and opinions are 100% mine.

Bright Side

I'm taking a cue from my Lucy today and remembering the bright side of our icky sicky week. It started with Mathilda last Sunday, then Connor followed on Wednesday, and Lucy on Friday. 

Even though Lucy hasn't been feeling well since Friday, she keeps saying stuff like, "the good thing about being sick is I get to take lots of baths," and "I'm so lucky because I get to miss school."

On the bright side, Bethany hasn't been hit with any illnesses yet (knock on wood). And we have beautiful weather, which is perfect for her first trip to Cedar Point today.  

Yes, I was woken up at 7 a.m. this morning to clean up puke and doggy doo-doo. But I was smart enough to go to bed early last night, so I had an adequate amount of sleep. And I got an early start to my day. So I had time to clean everything up, including puke laundry, give Lucy a bath, make Jello, cook breakfast, fold laundry, and take a shower and get ready by the time my mom picked me up at 11 so we could hang out for a 'lil bit.

No, I did not get to hang out at my friend's Halloween party yesterday. But Connor could go to the party and hang out with his buds because his strep throat was no longer contagious and he was feeling great, thanks to his antibiotics. I only ate 2 Oreo balls when I dropped him off, and if I had stayed I wouldn't have been able to keep away from them. Nor would I have been able to resist the other treats that were there. And I was able to come home and get some rest, which I badly needed. See there? Bright side.

I'm thankful for a little inspiration after a long, yucky week. Thanks Lucy, I needed that!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fab Freebie

Thanks to my involvement with the SheSpeaks Blogger society, I had the opportunity to write about the Aetna Healthy Food Fight. It was a more than worthwhile topic, since I believe in feeding my family healthy foods. And as a thank you for participating, SheSpeaks sent me an awesome gift! Check this out!

A Circulon non-stick skillet and snazzy spatula! The pan is oven safe up to 400 degrees, and it's safe to use metal utensils on it. I've already used both and love them. I love freebies. Have you snagged any fab freebies lately?

Need Sleep

Sleep, sleep, sleep. Lucy still has the pukies, which as all parents eventually learn, has a general predisposition to strike at a time when I'd rather be sleeping. It's Saturday but that doesn't mean any of my kids slept in. And I've been so busy washing puke laundry all week that I haven't done any "regular" laundry, and thus neither Bethany nor Connor have clean socks or jeans and they both have plans today. So the mere possibility of a nap will have to wait until they're both done showering so I can then start the washing machine. But then Lucy wants a bath, it makes her feel better and how can I say no to that? And Mathilda is asking for a bath. And Bethany needs a ride to her friend's house to pick up her backpack that she left there yesterday. Chris is helping a friend with something so he won't be home. The kids will need to eat lunch. Connor needs a ride to and from a party, and Bethany needs a ride to her friend's house, where she'll be sleeping over. And oh yeah, I have a flat tire that somehow needs to get taken care of so anybody can get anywhere today. Yes, in case you happen to remember, I did just have a flat tire a week or two ago, on a different tire. I also need to disinfect my house some more, and I'm fairly certain that Lucy is not quite done with the puking, even though there is nothing left in her.

I'm trying not to be tired and crabby, 'cause that's a really bad combination. I'm just going to do my best to get through this day intact and hopefully I'll get to go to bed early tonight. 

I sincerely hope you're having a better Saturday than me! It's not that bad really, it's just that lack of sleep puts a bit of a negative spin on things. I'm hanging out with my babies, and that is always a good thing.

Holiday Decorations

I really hate premature holiday preparations. I'm a firm believer that Christmas decorations should not go up until after Thanksgiving. However, the older I get and the more hectic my life becomes, the more I can appreciate early holiday planning. So with that in mind, I can now go ahead and start talking about Christmas already.

Truth be told, I'm not much of a decorator for any holiday. We always have a tree, and sometimes lights outside, but lots of other fussy decorative items are not my thing. Not that I don't love to see the festive displays other people put up. It's just...okay, I'll admit it. I'm lazy. Putting up the decorations isn't so bad. But I can't shake that nagging thought that what goes up, must come down. And besides, I'm much more interested in Christmas cookies, which I will make with a happy vengeance.  

Actually I don't like a lot of tchotchke in general. I like things on the walls (funny since I have a huge bare wall in my living room), but I don't like things that need to be dusted or otherwise create extra work for me. I have seen some cool vinyl decorations, and recently I came across some with Christmas designs that seem low maintenance enough even for someone like me. Maybe I'll expand my holiday decorating a little this year. We'll see.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Week in Review

I've posted a whole bunch this week, and maybe you've missed something. Especially with how Facebook has changed, I'm not sure people are seeing things the way they used to. So here's a list of what's been going down on MichiGal this week:

  • 99%  Maybe you've been following the Occupy Wall Street movement that's sweeping the nation. This post covers just a little of my personal experience being part of the 99%.
  • The Dilemma of the 1950's Bathroom  We have one of those lovely, original 1950's bathrooms that are sometimes kind of tricky to work with. Do you have decorating tricks for these dated lavatories? 
  • Weekend Rundown  I know you're all dying to know what I did last weekend, since I have such an exciting life and all!
  • Meatless Monday! #4 (Finally)  At long last I posted about our fourth week of dinners using Harmony Valley vegetarian meat substitutes.
  • Sweet Resources for Spectacular Freebies  If you like to get freebies, then you really don't want to miss this post. I get some pretty awesome stuff, if I do say so myself, and I'm sharing my resources.
  • Games Kids Play  This post is about how much fun it is to watch my kids play together, especially without the benefit of electronic devices.
  • So What! Wednesday  I linked up with Shannon at Life After I Dew once again. Play along and say So What!
  • Playroom Pizazz  I'm looking for some playroom inspiration.
  • Thursday Thankful Round-Up  I try to be mindful of my blessings every single day, but I only bore you with them once a week.
  • WEN by Chaz Dean  I really dig this cleansing conditioner that I got to try from Influenster.
  • Johnsonville House Party  I recently hosted a House Party, sponsored by Johnsonville Italian Sausage, and it was way fun.
  • Smoke Out  Let me tell you what I really think: I hate being around smoke.
  • Flashback Friday: Sick Days  When I was a kid, sick days meant being bored out of my skull. Not so anymore.
So go on and check out anything you missed! And feel free to comment lots and share anything you like!

Flashback Friday: Sick Days

Product DetailsLast night Chris and I were trying to impress upon Bethany and Connor how much things have changed since we were kids. It is like a whole new world of instant gratification and constant connectivity. My mom was born in the 50's, and
yes, a lot changed between the 50's and the 70's, when I was born, and there was surely a generational gap. My peers were not being drafted into the Vietnam War and protesting for civil rights. Maybe parents felt like they couldn't relate to their kids' newfangled ways when I was growing up, but my kids are living in such a vastly different world than we were living in at their age that it's difficult to even get them to comprehend.

Chris had an idea this morning that we should start doing Flashback Fridays with our kids. When they get home from school, they'll only be allowed to do things we would have been able to do at their age. No iPods, no PS3, no Wii, no internet. However, we're not starting this week because when you have multiple sick kids in the house it's not a good time to rock the boat. 

So yeah, earlier in the week Mathilda was sick. She's better now, but a couple days ago I got a dreaded phone call from school to pick Connor up because he wasn't feeling well. Turns out he's got strep throat. And this morning Lucy came downstairs at 6 a.m. to tell me she threw up. Good times in the George household. I've two home sick from school today, and praying with everything I've got that Bethany doesn't get sick. She has big plans this weekend and she will be heartbroken if she gets sick and has to cancel.

When I was a kid I spent many, many days sick at home. Think two weeks of chicken pox agony, multiple bouts of pneumonia, frequent bronchial infections complete with trips to the E.R. for shots to help me breathe, and a mysterious illness that was very much like mono but not mono and kept me home for at least two weeks. This is what I remember from those days: BOREDOM. Up until 3rd or 4th grade, I had my pick of television shows from 5 or 6 channels. Soap operas and Phil Donahue, the child's version of Ambien. That's about it. I also loved to read, but I could only do that for so many hours because I generally had bad headaches and vomiting to contend with when I was sick, pretty much regardless of the specific type of illness. Then we got cable, and my television options opened up considerably. I thought so anyway, but then I didn't have today's cable television to compare it with. If I felt well enough to sit up or get out of bed, I could get out a deck of cards and play solitaire. To keep in touch with friends, I might make a phone call or two in the evening. If the line was busy or no one answered, I was out of luck and just had to wait and try again.

My kids have been a vision of health compared to me when I was a kid. Which is funny because I was an only child and didn't share germs with three icky siblings. But when they do have the occasional sick day, they have no idea how good they have it. They have at their disposal entire channels devoted to children's programming, but that's only the beginning. Then there's On Demand, Net Flix, and our huge collection of dvds and Blu Rays to choose from. If they get sick of watching television and movies, they have Leapsters, iPod Touches, and Gameboys to play with. If they're feeling well enough to get off the couch, there's the computer and the endless wonder of the internet. And then of course the PS3, Wii,and XBox 360. They can resort to books too, and if they finish their book or don't feel like reading anything we have at home, they can always download a book via the Kindle app. To keep in touch with friends, they can make a phone call, just like I did. If no one answers at home, they can leave a message, but then they can also track the friend down by calling the cell  - or even the parents' cell if the friend happens to not have one (yet). They can email, text, FaceTime, IM, and Skype each other.

It truly is a different world. So I'm thinking maybe I'll start doing regular Flashback Friday posts. Do you have any ideas for future posts? How was your childhood different than that of your children?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smoke Out

I'm all for personal rights and everything, but when it became illegal to smoke in public buildings in Michigan, I was overjoyed. After years of getting sick in smoky bars, watching Chris's bands perform, I can finally enjoy a show without coughing, burning eyes, and a headache. I can finally come home and hang my coat up in the closet instead of putting it in a bag to take to the dry cleaner. My hair doesn't smell like an ashtray. It's a beautiful thing.

I spent my entire childhood forced to endure second hand smoke, and coincidentally I was sick with respiratory illnesses all the time. I'm being sarcastic, in case you didn't catch that. The result for me was that I never wanted anything to do with cigarettes. It always baffles me when people who grew up like me, gagging in the backseat with no fresh air, start smoking themselves.

Cigarrest Stop Smoking ProgramNow if you want to smoke, well that's your business. As long as you keep it away from me and my kids. But after what I lived with, and after watching my grandma, a lifetime smoker, suffer through (and ultimately die from) emphysema, I really hate to see people do that to themselves. I can only imagine how hard it must be to stop, I totally get that it's addictive. But I know there are resources out there to help people quit. Check out Cigarrest reviews for more info about one such resource, if you're interested.

Are you a current or former smoker? If you've quit, what was your secret to success?

Johnsonville House Party

House Party is one of the resources I included in my recent post,Sweet Resources for Spectacular Freebies. I applied for several House Parties before I was finally accepted to do a Johnsonville House Party. So if you join House Party, don't be discouraged if it takes awhile to get your first party assignment. There's a lot of people trying to get into these programs!

 I received a box full of goodies for my Johnsonville Pizza Possibilities Party, including:

  • 3 coupons for FREE packages of Johnsonville Italian Sausage
  • 1 coupon for a FREE package of Sargento shredded cheese
  • 1 package of high quality paper plates 
  • 1 package of high quality paper napkins
  • 1 oven mitt
  • 1 pizza cutter
  • 1 apron
  • 1 serving spoon
  • coupons for Johnsonville sausage to share with my guests
Here's the loot:

As you can see, everything is emblazoned with the Johnsonville logo, which is kind of fun, 'cause I'm pretty sure you can't buy this stuff at the store.

So I invited some friends over for a pizza party. Of course this meant a day full of crazy cleaning and preparations, which is fine because I'm the type of person who needs major motivation to deep clean my house. And the end result is always so worth it - fun with friends!

Four families ended up attending my Johnsonville party, husbands and kids included. It was mayhem, but the best kind - the kind where everyone is talking and laughing and eating, and the kids are running around and playing until they're so tired they're about to just pass out on the spot.

I made the pizzas ahead of time and had them baking in the oven when everyone started arriving, knowing it would too hectic to try to have our multitude of guests and their myriad children participate in the process. I made three homemade pizza crusts, using my trusty Betty Crocker recipe which I've mentioned before. I also bought a loaf of freshly baked French bread, cut it in half length ways, and covered that with pizza toppings and baked it too.

Everyone brought stuff to share - chips, drinks, desserts, and salad. I also made a couple desserts. Still, I was a little nervous we wouldn't have enough food. However, it all worked out and we even had a little leftover.
The French bread pizza seemed to be the favorite, but I never got to try a piece. You know how it is when you're busy hostessing...I grabbed one quick piece of pizza while on the run, and dipped into the dessert a little.

I think this is an awesome program, but as you can see from the list above, House Party does not provide nearly everything you need to host a party. In this case, since it was a pizza party, I had to make sure I had everything for pizza. One package of cheese doesn't go too far. I spent about $30 out of pocket, and keep in mind that I made the pizza crust from scratch with ingredients I had on hand, so I'm not factoring in the cost for that. So if you do decide to head over to House Party and start applying to be a host, remember that it's almost certainly going to cost you. Some of the other programs don't require you to actually feed your guests dinner, so there's probably not as much cost involved if that's the case.

I had a great time at the party, and I think my guests did too! I love an excuse to get together with my fab friends and their families! We had a lot of laughs, and since we don't get together nearly often enough, I know we all needed it. I can't wait until next time!

WEN by Chaz Dean

Recently I wrote about all the fabulous freebies I received from Influenster to sample and review in my Naturals Vox Box. One of my favorite items in the Vox Box was the WEN cleansing conditioner.

WEN® Cleansing ConditionerWEN presented a bit of a challenge for me, because when I first started using it, I did not get very favorable results. In fact, my hair felt greasy and limp. But if this has happened to you, I urge you to not give up and to give WEN another chance!

I have talked to several people who use and love WEN products, and they offered me some tips that made all the difference in the world for me! 

First of all, have an open mind. WEN is not like regular shampoo at all. It's not going to get all sudsy, which for most of us is the signal that our hair is getting clean. You need to get used to that, and trust that your hair is still getting clean even if it's not sudsy like you're accustomed to.

When using WEN, apply it to your hair and scalp in sections. I put two or three pumps in my hand, rub my hands together, and apply it to my hair while massaging my scalp. For my hair, I divide my head into about 4 or 5 sections. After I apply it and massage my scalp a little, I add a few splashes of water and massage some more, which does suds it up a little bit. Then I move onto the next section until my whole head is covered. I give it an all over rub and scalp massage, and then leave it in my hair while I continue with my shower. So I do the WEN first, before I wash up and shave. That gives the product plenty of time to do its thing.

If you do all this and your hair still doesn't feel as clean as you'd like, go ahead and use more WEN! To me this felt counter-intuitive, because it just felt to me like it was the WEN that was making my hair feel yucky, so why on earth would I want to add more of it? But that's not really true - not using enough of the product results in your hair not being thoroughly cleaned. So go ahead and add a few more pumps, and see if it doesn't make a difference. 

WEN smells great, and my hair looks and feels healthy and clean when I use it. I have normal, slightly wavy hair that has a bit of a tendency to frizz. I've heard of great results with naturally curly or course hair that is normally difficult to control. Do know that using WEN takes considerably more effort than traditional shampoo and conditioner, but the end result is well worth it! 


Thursday Thankful Round-Up

It's Thursday Thankful time!

  • I'm thankful that Mathilda is feeling better.
  • I'm thankful that even though Connor is home sick from school, he doesn't have the pukies.
  • I'm thankful that I'm feeling fine today, even though I started to feel really yucky last night.
  • I'm thankful I stayed up through a whole movie last night.
  • I'm thankful Chris is feeling better.
  • I'm thankful I get to be a chaperone for Bethany's field trip in a few weeks.
  • I'm thankful for Reading Eggs. Lucy loves it. If you are interested in getting a code for a FREE 5 week trial, click this link. It's a fun website to help your kids learn to read.
  • I'm thankful that Mathilda has been going around the house wearing Bethany & Lucy's old dance costumes. She looks so cute, my littlest ballerina!
  • I'm thankful that the dinner I threw together at the last minute yesterday actually came out good and all the kids cleared their plates.
  • I'm thankful for public school resources that allow Lucy to have speech therapy in school twice a week.
  • I'm thankful the heat is circulating upstairs in our house since Chris cleaned all the filters a couple months ago. (but I'm not thrilled to have the furnace on - boo!)
What are you thankful for this week?