Thursday, December 30, 2010

Anyone can be a Master at Wine & Cheese Pairing with this New FREE Mobile App!


When my husband and I lived in New York City (pre-baby days), we had it easy. I'm talking, really easy. On nights that we weren't dining out on delicious cuisine from all over the world (I think I miss the food the most!) we were preparing meals at home from an amazing grocery service. We ordered our food from an online vendor that had everything laid out for us, including which wine would pair nicely with the meal we were preparing. It was heaven. Not to mention they delivered!! I tell you what... if they had also unpacked and stocked my refridgerator (which I'll admit, might be a little excessive) they would have been the perfect company.

Since moving to the suburbs it seems like we have given up trying to pair wines with our meals. In fact, most nights we'll be 10 minutes into dinner and my husband will (as nicely as he can) excuse himself from the table to get a glass of water, because it's completely slipped my mind.

Well, not anymore. Now, thanks to Real California Cheese, you can go to a restaurant and confidently order a beer or wine and a cheese that compliments it perfectly. You can host a dinner party without having to second guess your selections while you watch your guests every reaction to the tastes.

How? you might ask. Well... as the saying goes these days - "There's an App for that."

ABOUT PAIR SAVVY:
Pair Savvy is a user-friendly application that works on both iPhone and Android devices and allows users to search by cheese, wine or beer varieties based on personal preference. California cheesemakers make more than 250 varieties and styles of Real California Cheese, everything from bandage wrapped Cheddar to award-winning Brie.

Here’s how it works:
Download Pair Savvy to your mobile device and you can select by cheese, wine or beer. If you don't have a compatible mobile device, users can still use the Pair Savvy site to find savvy pairings.


Pair Savvy will come up with a pairing that has a list of suggested cheeses, California cheesemakers and brand names they can purchase at retail. So cool!


Some pairings even suggest fruit accompaniments, which is great when putting together a cheese plate or display. Users can also save pairings and rate the pairings they have tried. There’s even a “Surprise Pairing” option for the more daring at heart.


This fun app is available for free download, just in time for holiday events. A beautiful, perfectly paired selection of cheeses and beverages will make you the most celebrated host or hostess and the favorite guest at every party you attend.


Real California Cheese Pair Savvy is available today to most smart phone users through their mobile browser: pairsavvy.realcaliforniamilk.com

For the iPhone: Visit the App Store, search for “Pair Savvy” then download for free (available soon).

For Android users: Visit the Android Marketplace, search for “Pair Savvy” then download for free.

Better yet, Pair Savvy is linked to RealCaliforniaMilk.com so the app will update automatically with no need to download future updated versions.

With New Year's Eve coming up (tomorrow!) for example, did you know that Champagne pairs well with Bleu Cheese? I would have never guessed it, but thinking about it now I guess I can see how it would!

This is a new app that will obviously be updated over time. I was surprised that the wine list wasn't a little bit more detailed (I couldn't find any options for my favorites - Merlot) but I'm sure it'll be added in time. Because this app is totally FREE it is definitely worth downloading! (And seriously... just do it now. Don't be the person that remembers this post in the middle of a nice evening out and needs to pull out their phone and find it in the app store and download it then... what a mood killer!)


*I was in no way compensated for this post, written in part through my membership with the One2One Network. I will be entered a giftcard.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cross Country Traveling with a Toddler

After the last few days, I've decided that there are several things I'd rather do than travel with a toddler. Take going to the dentist to get cavities filled, for example. It's not that bad. Or cleaning up kitty barf off of the dining room rug. Yep. I'm sure.

The drive to Michigan is about 12 hours (not including traffic). With extra stops for food and gas it takes considerably longer and we decided about a year ago that we didn't want to do it all in one day anymore. On Christmas day we left our home at about 9am and made it up to Independance, Ohio, where stayed the night. We had Christmas dinner at Denny's (which my husband will tell you is about the most American thing you can do -- just like in the movies!) and we were all in bed by 8pm.

At 1:30am our daughter decided that the hotel was a scary place and that she didn't want to be there anymore. My husband and I took turns rocking, cuddling, watching TV, and soothing her but she wouldn't go back to sleep for anything. She wanted to leave or play... not sleep. At 5am I said let's just leave. We packed up the car, and our stinker little baby girl was asleep before we even hit the highway.

Needless to say, I'm still recovering. I am thankful though that we made the decision to purchase a car DVD system prior to this trip. I feel that it was a lifesaver. Yea, yea, go ahead and say I'm a bad parent for allowing my daughter to watch Disney movies all day -- I don't care. I'm happy that she didn't spend the day crying miserably trying to get out of her carseat. We only plan to use it on long trips anyways... and (I haven't told my husband this yet) once we move back to Michigan I don't think we'll be taking any car trips that are longer than 3-4 hours. I just can't handle it!

We purchases the Philips 7" Dual Screen DVD player (pictured below) for our car. I was super impressed with the high quality picture, sound, and accessibility of this product. When we first talked about buying one I was expecting to drop upwards of $300 on a DVD player, but this one is just over $100 - totally worth it. Besides DVDs, we also entertained AJ with little puzzles and books. For some reason though she didn't want to nap in the car during this trip (even though she falls asleep on most 5 minute drives to the grocery store!)


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches {Book Review}

Cynthia Sass, the creator and co-author of the New York Times Bestselling Flat Belly Diet presents her new break-through, 30-day weight loss program Cinch! targeted to end overeating, leaving dieters feeling full and satisfied while enjoying the best food combinations to burn fat and boost metabolism.


The program starts with the 5-day Fast Forward plan that ends erratic eating by focusing on five simple foods—spinach, almonds, raspberries, eggs, and yogurt (or vegan-friendly alternatives)—eaten in a variety of combinations. These first 5 days promise up to 8 pounds of weight loss. Each of the five foods is low in calories yet loaded with nutrients and natural satiety-boosters, which allows you to “detox” from junk foods without feeling deprived.

The remaining 25 days of the program are packed with foods that offer maximum fat-burning, improving metabolism while unlocking the secret to the body’s satiety center with foods that the latest research shows turn on the body’s “I’m full” signal. As in Flat Belly Diet, all of the meals for the full 30-day program are created for you and are fully interchangeable. As an added feature, vegan and vegetarian options are covered so the plan can be adapted to fit any lifestyle.

Cynthia is also the Weight Loss Blogger for Shape magazine.

Holly's Nap Time Review:
I was so excited to be asked to review Cinch! by Cynthia Sass. It's exactly what I need to start my new year right. As the average mom, I could stand to lose a few pounds. I've had it with most diets though... who wants to feel like they are starving all the time only to hold out for a meal that (oh boy!) tastes like cardboard.


The truth about dieting is that just because something is lower in calories doesn't mean it's good for you. I was intrigued with Cynthia's take on balance.

In one month, dieters will find they've recalibrated their bodies-freeing them from cravings and erratic eating-and begun a satisfying new relationship with food.
 
Cinch! is full of questionaires to help each dieter determine the practical route for themselves. Sass acknowledges that we are all different, and some of the strategies (like the 5-day "Fast Forward" plan) may not work for us all. She gives us countless ways to personalize the plan, including recipes for meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans.

While most of my health-related books have found a home on the bookshelf in my bedroom, Cinch is definitely one that will be staying in my kitchen. I cannot believe how many yummy recipes it includes! A person can lose weight by eating Berry Almond French Toast, Peanut Butter Plum Toast, and Layered Bean Dip with Cilantro-Jalapeno Guacamole? I cannot say for certain -- yet. But I'm excited to spend January with Cynthia Sass' Cinch plan. I'll keep you posted on my progress.



Cinch! hits stores on December 28th! You can pre-order your copy today from Amazon for just $15.99!

For more support from Cynthia on your own journey, visit her on Facebook! She'll be posting recipes and healthy tips daily!
                                                                       

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Cinch! by Cynthia Sass through my participation with the One2One Network. I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinions posted are entirely my own. I make no claims about the success of this or any other diet program other than what I have personally experienced. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What is the one thing you'd most like to change about the world?

My husband and I exchanged Christmas gifts last night. Not out of anticipation, but because on Christmas morning we'll have to get up, open presents with our daughter, pack up the car, and begin our two-day journey to Michigan. I'm really not looking forward to spending Christmas on the road, and worse (to me) Christmas night in a hotel. It'll be good to see family though. This will actually be our first time home for Christmas (well, technically we won't be there until the 26th, but it's close enough) in 3 years. 

Question #5 of the 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind:

What is the one thing you'd most like to change about the world?

Hate.

If I could erase one thing in this world, it would be hate. I'm talking about the hate that leaves neighbors killing one another, keeps nations at war for decades and keeps adolescents feeling hopeless and alone. But I'm also talking about average, every day hate.

As mere human beings, every single one of us is guilty of hate to some degree. We begrudgingly look at the mom we see out shopping with five children and her size 2 figure. We gossip about our neighbor caring about himself more than his children when he comes home with a new car. We judge our friends' parenting choices behind their backs.

Hate is everywhere. It sickens me that this is the example that we are setting for our children. I understand that these minor acts of judgment are simply human nature, but why?

I was going through my blog roll yesterday when I came across a post from a mom who was describing the transition from disposable diapers to cloth diapers (I'm sorry I can't remember which blog - if it was you let me know so that I can credit you!) She was talking about how after 9 months of disposables, she has decided to use cloth diapers, and when introducing herself in CD forums she was bombarded with rude comments and despicable remarks about how awful it was that she used disposables. Blarg.

In recent news, you may have heard about Etsy refusing to shutdown one of its shops that displays highly offensive greeting cards, such as "Congratulations on being raped" and "Congratulations on having a child with Down Syndrome." I refuse to link to the shop because the last thing they need is more publicity, but Etsy's current stand on the situation is that the cards are an "artistic expression" that may be offensive to some but a cultural expression to others. Riiiight. You can read more about this story by clicking here.  

So why does hate exist? Probably because it's part of what makes us human. God didn't promise us that life on this earth was going to be easy.

I know that hate is inevitable, and will always exist on earth. But for crying out loud already,
If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fall Family Challenge: X Y and Z are for...

I cannot believe that the Fall Family Challenge is coming to a close. It's been fantastic! I've had a really great time coming up with ideas on how to make the most out of each moment with your family, and I'm so glad to have met so many amazing people along the way.

It the next week or so, I'll post an entire index of the Fall Family Challenge so that it can be accessed from one post. That way, if you missed anything it'll be easy to catch up!

And don't worry... there will be plenty more to come. My focus on family activities doesn't end here!

X is for Xmas - what does it mean??
I hear it all the time - people offended by the shortened version of Christmas, Xmas. Whereas it might look like a commercialized, shortened version of the religious holiday we call Christmas, the shorted Xmas is a) not irreligious, or b) taking Christ out of Christmas.

Here's a fun and educational fact for you to share with your friends and colleagues this year, the next time you hear someone sneer at the thought of "Xmas."

ETYMOLOGY of Xmas:



From X, the Greek letter chi, first letter of Greek Khrstos, Christ ; see Christ


Usage Note:


Xmas has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents a Greek chi, the first letter of , "Christ." In this use it is parallel to other forms like Xtian, "Christian." But people unaware of the Greek origin of this X often mistakenly interpret Xmas as an informal shortening pronounced (ksms). Many therefore frown upon the term Xmas because it seems to them a commercial convenience that omits Christ from Christmas.
 
Source: http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/Xmas
 
I do still prefer to say Christmas, myself. What do you prefer??
 
Y is for Yummy Yule Log
Over time words have different meanings, and Yule is a perfect example of that. We've all heard it in the carols - "Yule-tide songs being sung by a fire... and folks dressed up like eskimos..."
 
Anyways... the Yule was originially a 12th century pagen festival to celebrate winter. It lasted for most of December and January until it was later linked with the nativity of Jesus Christ. Then, the Yule was the feast of the celebration of Christmas.
 
A Yule Log was originally a big log that was put at the foundation of a home's fire on Christmas Eve. Nowaways you can switch to your local news station and most likely see a digitalized Yule Log on Christmas.
 
Well, a Yule Log is also a delicious chocolately cake!! It's fun to make with the family and also DELICIOUS!
 
Check out this recipe from Hershey's!
 
Chocolate & White Yule Log
 
Z is for ZZzzz... Get Some Sleep!!
Well, you know how it goes... Santa just won't come until you're sleeping! It's for a good reason too. The jolly old man knows the importance of a good night's rest and wants to make sure that you have enough energy to play with your new toys and gadgets. (Not to mention, the holidays are EXHAUSTING!)
 
Little one waking you up too early?? I LOVE this alarm clock! This training alarm clock is set by mom and dad and works with a lit up picture. When the bunny is sleeping, it's too early to get up, and it's time to go back to bed. Set rules for this - if the bunny is sleeping, it's ok to get up and go potty, get a drink of water, to get a tissue. Then it's back to bed. When the bunny is awake - it's OK to get up! If mom and dad are still asleep when the bunny is awake, that means it's OK to wake them up too!!
 
I know so many parents who have raved at this alarm clock and the miracle it performs by keeping children in bed. Best of all, they will be proud of their new understanding skills!
 
 
The Fall Family Challenge by Holly at Nap Time is designed to encourage families to do activities together and learn at the same time. There are no rules, no wrongs, no rights - just family fun!

Monday, December 20, 2010

W is for Winter Family Fun! {My Guest Post as Featured on From Chalkboards to Strollers}




Recently, Liz from over at From Chalkboards to Strollers did a lovely guest post for us on Reading Readiness. Check out the post, here!
 
Well, I was excited to team up again when Liz asked me to do a spin-off of my Fall Family Challenge and post on her blog about Winter Family Fun!
 
Go see what I came up with! ---------> My post at From Chalkboards to Strollers!
 
So there you have it... W is for Winter Family Fun
 
While you're there, if you're not already following Liz, you definitely should be! She has tons of great reviews and giveaways!

Friday, December 17, 2010

When it's all said and done, will you have said more than you've done??

It's been awhile since I've posted for one of the 50 Questions that Will Free Your Mind. I'm currently on Question #4... and as a New Year's Resolutions (I have many that will be posted shortly), I would like to post at least 1 a week until they are finished.

I am answering the 50 Questions that Will Free Your Mind as part of my own Day Zero Project. I encourage you to share your own answers here, on your own blog, or privately in your own journal. It's a great writing exercise that can also make for some thought provoking discussion.

When it's all said and done, will you have said more than you've done??
In all honesty, I find this question really intimidating. I feel like it's a question that it looming over my conscience daily - something that when you turn the corner you see it there, plastered on your living room wall in Freestyle Script, begging an answer.

I guess that having said more than I've done is one of my fears in life. I work well under pressure and authority, but on my own terms I'd say I'm only an 80-percent-er, meaning I always have full intentions of completing everything on my To-Do list, but usually call it good at about 80%. This is one of the things that annoys me most about myself, and most of the time I blame it on the exhaustion of this everyday life. Now that I've recently learned of my suffering with Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism and have started a treatment plan, I expect to have more energy going forward, and hopefully along with that more productivity.

This is a good question for the circumstances, because I think that the Day Zero Project is an excellent way to prove to myself and to others that I'm going to do what I say I'm going to do. With 887 days to go, I'm now 7% complete.

On a deeper note though, I often think about this question in terms of the future - the moment when we're standing at the big pearly gates. Will I have done enough? Helped enough? Given enough? Been enough of a mother? A friend?

I guess the answer is to wait and see. Until then though... I'm really going to try to accomplish the things I say I'm going to, and put my best foot forward in trying to do the things that I really want to do (i.e. I always sayd that I want to write a book, etc...).

Thoughts?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Do You Know America's Most Amazingly Energized Woman??? (Maybe it's YOU!!!)


This holiday season, Centrum® and Molly Shannon are looking for America's Most Amazingly Energized Woman and they need your help! Do you know someone who fits the bill? I'm talking about that woman who has more kids than fingers on her left hand, makes Christmas pageant costumes for the entire children's choir, always has a warm meal on the dinner table and still manages to find the time to get a manicure. Come on, now, we all know someone like that! Now it's time to reward her for her efforts and nominate her for America's Most Amazingly Energized Woman.

Does the woman I just described sound a lot like you?? You're in luck - it's totally OK to nominate yourself, too! You deserve it, girl!

How To Make a Nomination:
- Go to LoveFeelingHealthy.com to nominate someone who lives life to the fullest during the holiday season while staying healthy, happy and energized with a smile on her face! (What is her secret!?) Submissions must be 300 words or less. Submissions must be sent in no later than January 3rd, 2011.

From the entrants, a panel of judges will select five (5) finalists and the public will vote in the title holder of "America's Most Amazingly Energized Woman!"

So What Will She Win!?
Grand Prize: $3,000 Xperience Days Gift Certificate
Four (4) Runner-Up Prizes: $400 Xperience Days Gift Certificates

While visiting the site, don't forget to download your coupon for $3 Off Centrum® Women’s or Centrum® Men’s to help you achieve better health during the holiday season.




Also find out how spokeswoman Molly Shannon stays energized throughout the holiday season with her personal tips, here!
Good luck everyone - YOU could be America's Most Amazingly Energized Woman!!

I am a member of One2One Network and this post is part of a member project where I am eligible to win prizing. I make no claims about Centrum as a product or it's effectiveness.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fall Family Challenge: V is for Very Merry Christmas Vacation

Some parents dread it, others can't wait - Christmas Vacation is almost upon us!! Keeping the kids busy is another thing. Here are some ideas for having a productive and fun filled Christmas Vacation with the kiddos. Instead of wishing they were going back to school, you'll be wishing it would last just a little bit longer.

And if you don't have any kids in school yet, like me - don't fret! These ideas will make your holiday season britghter, too!

V is for Very Merry Christmas Vacation

Start a Family Tradition
The best part about having a family tradition is that it is something to look forward to. The world and our family will change over time, but tradition is typically something that you can count on happening and staying the same. A little bit of Christmas comfort, if you will.

Growing up my family had the tradition of going to my grandparents house for Christmas Eve, and my grandmother would hide a little present in the tree that each of us kids were to find. We would open two or three gifts that night, and it would officially kick off our Christmas day. I remember going home and rushing to bed because I couldn't wait for Santa to come.

These days, we don't have any family traditions with our daughter yet (as she is only 13 months old), but we have started a family tradition. Four years ago we decided to start the tradition of purchasing a nutcracker each year. On the bottom of said nutcracker is our names and the address we lived at when we first purchased it. It has been so much fun each year opening our bin of holiday decorations and looking at each of our nutcrackers. Even more fun is purchasing a new one each year!!

To the right you'll see our current collection - mouse king, grumpy Mr. Money Bags, skiing Santa, and Bumble from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. (And yes... that is snow you see outside my Central Virginia window!)

Ask your kids what holiday traditions they would like to start, and make it a family project! Pick out a family ornament every year? Have a holiday movie marathon with each person picking a movie?

Santa's Workshop

Let your kids help you wrap all those gifts! Make an assembly line and get moving. Kids are perfect for measuring out pieces of tape, picking which wrap will look best on which gift, and holding down that ribbon while you're tying it up! You'll be surprised how fast your little helpers get you through the process, and watching others open their gifts will have more meaning to them as well. (Yes Martha Stuart moms, you need to take a breath and let go of the obsession with perfect edges and crisp lines. It really doesn't matter that much!)

Dollar Store Scavenger Hunt

The Dollar Store is a perfect place for kids to purchase gifts for each other. Armed with a list and $5, what can your child find that their brother or sister will love?

Celebrate the Sweetness

Children are really good at remembering all of the people in our everyday lives that we sometimes forget about... the mail carrier, the cashier that is always working when we shop, the veterinarian.

Ask your child who they would like to give Christmas cookies to this year. The love and thought that a child puts in to decorating a cookie will keep the Christmas spirit going through the New Year. Help your child deliver the cookies and spread smiles!

Field Trip!
Don't let your kids off the hook too easily. These days, a lot of kids view Christmas Vacation as unlimited video gaming, staying up late, playdates with friends every single day, and the obligatory family gathering sprinkled in here or there. Just because school is out doesn't mean that the learning has to stop. During your child's break, try to have an least one educational outting to a museum or library, and make it fun! Do your research ahead of time and find out if there are any materials that go along with museum exhibits (many science museums, for instance, have this!) If your child is older, consider a community service field trip. Serving others at a soup kitchen is a wonderful way to teach your older children about the meaning of Christmas and giving to others.

What are some of your favorite things to do during the Holiday Break? Please share!!!

The Fall Family Challenge by Holly at Nap Time is designed to encourage families to do activities together and learn at the same time. There are no rules, no wrongs, no rights - just family fun!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The New Normal (Update on my Thyroid Disease)

Today was my second visit to the endocrinologist's office. Better than last time - my husband was home so I didn't have to take AJ with me. Knowing what to expect I felt a little better about the whole situation.

The good news is, the Synthroid medication is making me feel a little more energized. I used to have to try and squeeze in at least a 45 minute nap each day while my daughter was sleeping, and always blamed it on her "wearing me out." I'm starting to feel more alive again. Being a parent is not that exhausting - it was my thyroid.

The bad news is that things are not stabilized yet, and we will need to increase my dosage over the next few months. My doctor said that things will have to be continuously monitored, probably forever, because with Hashimoto's Disease a person can be stable for a long time and then the immune system decides to attack the thyroid again.

As I was sitting in the lab chair getting more blood tests taken, the doctor stopped by to tell me that we would discuss the results on Friday and she'd see me again in 6-8 weeks. I guess that was the point when I realized that this is the new normal. Getting blood drawn, monitoring symptoms, taking meds consistently at the same time and waiting a half an hour after to have any food.

I began to feel a little down on myself today (but getting my blood drawn always seems to take a lot out of me) when it hit me - this isn't so bad. I have a diagnosable disease that can be managed and treated safely with little to no risk to my overall health. I have every reason in the world to be happy and sing God's praises. My prayers go out to those in true need.

He does a good job reminding me that I am only human. So enough worrying about me. I'll keep you posted. If anyone else is on Synthroid medication or has thyroid problems, I would love to hear about your daily routines (with meds, etc.) and what different things work for you on a regular basis.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Up-All-Night-With-a-Teething-Toddler Club, accepting applications! {A View on Night Terrors}

It's been a long week over at our house. AJ is currently cutting 5 teeth, including her top molars, and she is absolutely miserable. On Thursday night we were up all night (literally) after she awoke from a night terror at about 12:30am.

Night terrors are an extremely scary thing for any parent. You hear your child crying out in the night, and you go to her side, but with glassed over eyes she reacts as if she has never seen you in her whole life. She screams bloody murder and thrashes to get away from you, yelling "NO! NO! NO!" and crying hysterically. After 3-4 minutes of panic, you begin to realize that she isn't actually awake. A night terror has commenced, and it's time to wait it out.

After the first time AJ had a night terror, I couldn't go back to sleep I was shaking too hard and so nervous. Was that actually my child in there? I soon began to research and found that the average night terror lasts about 20 minutes, and it's not the best idea to wake a child from it, because that in itself can be an awful experience for them. (Not that I could wake her, I kept saying her name over and over and it was like I wasn't even there.) Most importantly, children do not remember night terrors, and as long as they are in a safe environment, they are harmless.

The first time we dealt with night terrors, they happened 3 nights in a row. I thought my life was forever changed as I accepted this new routine of waking up to a nightmare each night. I found though, that if I turned on the light in her room during the terror that she would gently start to rouse out of it. (Of course, then she was wondering why I was in her room with the light on, and we'd have to start our bedtime routine all over.)

I had taken her to the doctor's office and learned that she had an ear infection in the middle of these 3 nights. I was told that the night terrors are probably not related. But after a couple days on the antibiotics they were gone for good.

Until the other night (a couple months later). What I thought to be teething pain (which has kept us up a lot lately) turned out to be another night terror. Screaming, flailing, banging her head against the side of the crib. It took everything in my power to try to make sure she didn't hurt herself of me. And once she snapped out of it, we were up for the remainder of the night.

First thing in the morning, I told my husband to call the pediatrician's office and make an appointment, because I wanted her ears checked for infection. He got off and told me that the receptionist didn't "believe him" that a night terror could mean she had an ear infection, but we had an appointment made for 9:15am. I told him it wasn't her job to diagnose our daughter, but I could see her snippiness come out when we reached there and I saw on the chart what she had written down for Reason For Visit: "General Fussiness. Ear Infection????" Not necessary. Four question marks. Is that her sign to the doctor that I'm an insane, overly worried parent? I began to question whether or not I should have made the appointment, but at this point I was already there - no turning back now.

The doctor pointed out that my daughter didn't have any signs of an ear infection - no congestion, runny nose, fever, cold symptoms, pulling at the ears, etc, and every sign of teething - teeth poking through, fussiness, and swollen gums. I told him about the night terror she had the night before and that I wanted her ears checked. He told me he had to see another patient but would be back in 10 minutes. 

After checking her ears, my suspicions were confirmed - another ear infection. I was happy when the doctor actually commended me for sticking to my guts and bringing her in. Moral of the story... as a mom (or dad) you really DO know your kids the best. And if you have any doubt about anything, give your doctor a call or bring your child in.

As for AJ, she is now back on a stronger antibiotic and she is back to sleeping terror free. I'm not saying it's true for everyone, but ear infections definitely correlate with night terrors in our house. 

Does your child have night terrors? How do you handle them? Any advice?

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tune in for an All New Stop-Motion Animation Special This Thursday on NBC!


Do you watch NBC's hit sitcom Community on Thursdays at 8pm EST/7pm CST? It's one of those shows that time and time again people tell me that I must watch, and that I'll really get a good laugh, but to be honest I just haven't had the chance. (I know that in the day and age of DVR and Netflix, that's not a very good excuse... but it's the truth!) Usually at 8pm I am still in a battle to get my toddler into her pajamas and settled down for the night.

I digress... because now I'm going to be that person telling you that you must watch Community's all new Stop-Motion Animation Christmas Special this Thursday evening on NBC!


I was invited by the One2One Network & Sony Pictures Television to preview tomorrow's Christmas Special of Community, and I have to say that I am hooked! Nap time was full of laughter today as mommy giggled her way through the episode. I can see this one re-airing on NBC for years to come!

ABOUT THE EPISODE:

ABED'S UNCONTROLLABLE CHRISTMAS


When Abed (Danny Pudi) wakes up in stop-motion animation, he takes it as a sign that he and the group must re-discover the meaning of Christmas. Meanwhile, Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) become growingly concerned about Abed's mental health and enlist the help of Professor Duncan (John Oliver). The group undergoes hypnosis to explore Abed's winter wonderland and soon unravel the truth behind Abed’s madness. Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, and Ken Jeong also star.

This new stop-motion special is the perfect way to start off the Christmas season curled up on the couch with your honey (though I should mention, not suitable for the little ones!) I thought the entire episode was hilarious and I definitely look forward to catching up on Seasons 1 & 2 in the coming months.

Make sure to tune in to NBC TOMORROW, Thursday, December 9th at 8pm EST/ 7pm CST for this all new special! Don't forget to come back and share your thoughts!



*I was invited to preview Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas by the One2One Network and Sony Pictures Television. I will be entered to win Season 1 of Community on DVD and a Sony Bloggie HD Camera in return for this blog post. The thoughts and opinions here are my own and may differ from yours. I was in no other way compensated for this post.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fall Family Challenge: U is for Unwrap It! {An Advent Calendar Idea}

I have heard this idea on so many blogs and from so many of my friends that I just have to share it with you all!

Growing up, most of us had some sort of Advent Calendar that helped us count down to Christmas, and for most of us that consisted of a special calendar with cardboard doors hiding little pieces of chocolate that didn't really taste like normal chocolate (probably because they'd been packaged 8 months ahead of time). That's besides the point. In the day and age where we're trying to cut back on the amount of sugar (and mystery additives) that we're trying to give our children, this idea for a Holiday Book Advent Calendar is just what the mommy ordered!

U is for Unwrap It! Promoting Literacy this Holiday Season!

The concept is simple. Over time collect 25 holiday books for a nice collection. Wrap each of them up in whatever wrapping paper you like and place a number 1-25 on each package. Starting December 1st, let your little ones find the corresponding number (1) for a special something to open up and a wonderful bedtime story to read with mom and dad.

This is a great way to get kids excited about reading, and to prepare them for the excitement of the holidays!

If you're like me, and wrapping 25 books makes you cringe at the thought of all that wasted paper, try this idea! Individually wrap the top and botton portions of a box (so that it still opens and closes) and slip the next day's book in the box while the kiddos are sleeping. That way they'll still have something to open without you feeling so guilty about being wasteful.

The best part is, you can use the same books year after year, and it won't be long before your kids are reading the stories to you! What a wonderful way to make memories during the holiday season.

Some of our favorite holiday stories include:










Please share your favorite holiday stories!!! I'd love to add to my list!

The Fall Family Challenge by Holly at Nap Time is designed to encourage families to do activities together and learn at the same time. There are no rules, no wrongs, no rights - just family fun!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fall Family Challenge: T is for Trimming the Tree

TGIF! I don't know what is going on this week, but I'm so happy that it's almost the weekend. I have felt so tired, unmotivated, and generally blah this week. I think it's the looming feeling that winter is almost here. Anyone else feel that way?

T is for Trimming the Tree

Well, our Fall Family Challenge is on a downward slope to being finished, and T brings us to the tradition of trimming the tree. As I mentioned before, ours was up well before Thanksgiving because we were expecting family! It's not very often we get visitors, so it was more special to be able to share our tree with others than to just have it all to ourselves.


Our tree, 2010
The tree looks so small in the picture above, but I think that it's because our daughter's stocking is so huge!


Chica & Jo

There are so many fun ways to decorate the tree and traditions to start or keep. Here are a few of my favorite ideas that I've come across.

A Kiddie Tree

Over the last few days, I've heard so many people talking about how they let their children have their own, smaller version, Christmas tree. I LOVE this idea! My husband knows I'm obsessive with the way our tree looks, which is why he was secretly too busy to help me decorate it this year. (That's right babe - I'm onto you.) It won't be long before AJ is wanting to get in on the decorating too. A kiddie Christmas tree is the perfect way to share the holiday tradition and let her be creative in her own way as well!

Decorate a Miniature Tree for Charity

Check out this awesome post from Chica & Jo about decorating a miniature tree for charity. As in the picture to the right, you can decorate a miniature tree with gifts (like these little princess accessories for girls) and bring it on over to your local children's hospital! It's a decoration and a gift all in one for a special child that has to spend the holidays in the hospital. Get together with your office or school to have a competition to see who can make the coolest tree, and make a party of handing them out!


Santa's Best Christmas Designs

Create a Designer Tree

Wonder how to make your tree look as amazing as the ones you see at Macy's Holiday Lane in Herald Square (one of my favorite places during the holiday season)? Not everyone is a designer, but a designer can teach you how! Check out these complete decorating kits with DVD step by step instructions on creating the perfect tree. (I didn't say it wouldn't cost you a pretty penny!)

Cute as a Button

One of my favorite Christmas crafts as a kid was making a Christmas Tree door banner (that my parents still put up year after year!) I was 9 or 10 years old at the time, and my catechism teacher brought in cloth cutouts of trees in different green patterns. At the top of each one she'd hand-sewn on a pop can tab for a "hook" to hang the tree up with. To this day I still think this is such a genius idea and a wonderful way to recycle pop can tabs!

The project was SO easy... use buttons from her HUGE stash and ribbon to decorate our trees with some fabric glue. There was nothing spectacular or complicated about this project, and I just remember how much fun it was to pick out different buttons as ornaments. I can't wait to do this project with my daughter in the coming years.

Frame a Tree

Let Martha Stewart do the work! Sometimes we just don't have the time or the space for a Christmas tree. For instance, when we first moved to Manhattan, my husband and I shared an apartment in West Village that was 250 sq. ft. - TOTAL. In other words, no room for anything decorative that wasn't essential to every day living.

Print out a picture of your favorite decorative tree and frame it. The holiday cheer up on your wall will make your small space feel more inviting.

The Fall Family Challenge by Holly at Nap Time is designed to encourage families to do activities together and learn at the same time. There are no rules, no wrongs, no rights - just family fun!

Special Savings from our Sponsor: Cloth Diapers 'n More!

'Tis the season for awesome savings!!

I have good news. If you missed the Anniversary Sale over at Cloth Diapers 'n More earlier this week, you can still get FABULOUS savings through the rest of the month just for being a Holly at Nap Time reader!




Now through December 31st, 2010 simply add the code: HOLLY for 10% off your entire purchase and FREE Shipping within the United States!*

Happy Shopping!!!

*This code excludes bumGenius products, but bumGenius are on sale Buy 5 Get 1 Free!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Baby Gizmo's 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!


Have you headed over to Baby Gizmo for Day 1 of their 12 Days of Christmas yet? They are giving away all sorts of fabulous prizes from brands like: Inglesina, Storksak, Step2, Peg Perego, Mutsy, pediped, Kushies, kokopax, Moonlight Slumber, Oilo, Little Tikes, BabyLegs, Britax, Silikids, and BUGABOO! Wow!

There is a big prize every day for 12 days, and the best part is all you have to do is Log In to be entered. Don't have an account with Baby Gizmo? Creating one is as easy as making a username and password! While you're there, don't forget to shop around for those little Baby Gizmos on your Christmas list!

Today's giveaway is for an Inglesina Zippy Stroller!

Did I mention that EACH day there will be two runners up receiving 5 pairs of BabyLegs each? (That's a $60 value, people!) If you didn't win our Holly at Nap Time BabyLegs Grab Bag, here's your chance to win some now!

Visit Baby Gizmo's 12 Days of Christmas now!






BLOGGERS: Want a chance to win a $250 Visa Gift Card from Baby Gizmo? Click here for details on how to share the 12 Days of Christmas with your readers and to be entered to win!

Good luck to all! If you win anything we'd love to hear about it here at Holly at Nap Time.

Also, congratulations to Michele H! Our Holly at Nap Time BabyLegs Grab Bag Giveaway Winner! (CONFIRMED)

Our Trip to See Santa

Yesterday my husband had the day off and we had our daughter's one year portraits and holiday family portraits done. Amidst all this, since AJ was in such a good mood, we decided that we'd head over to the mall to visit with Santa Claus.

The big jolly guy was happy to see AJ, but the feeling was not mutual! Upon sitting her upon his knee, she began to scream in fear. Not cry, just freak out and flail about.

Santa's helpers were kind enough to whip out a reindeer looking ottoman for AJ to  sit on cling to in front of Santa.

Alas, AJ's 2010 trip to see Santa:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sponsor Spotlight: Cloth Diapers 'n More!

I mentioned at the beginning of November that I was participating in The Great Cloth Diaper Hunt sponsored by Diaper Decisions. Well, the month is coming to an end, and the web scavenger hunt is coming to a close, but I am happy to announce that it's just what I needed to get started on my journey to cloth diapering.

As I mentioned in my post here, cloth diapering was always my intention, but once a new baby was actually in the picture it became all too intimidating. There are so many things to know! None of my mommy friends were using cloth diapers (that I knew of) and I was hesitant to be the trendsetter when I had no idea what I was doing.

Then recently I kept saying I wish I had tried - when I realized that late is better than never. I'm not calling myself a pro, but I'm learning, and I found the best way for me to incorporate cloth diapering into our daily routine right now is for me to use them at night.

I'm so glad that I found Cloth Diapers 'n More! Our newest sponsor for the Blogtastic Extravaganza, Cloth Diapers 'n More has an amazing selection of cloth diapers and accessories at incredibly affordable prices!


You'll have to wait until January to see what Cloth Diapers 'n More is donating to the Extravaganza, but in the meantime do I have a deal for you! Tomorrow ONLY Cloth Diapers 'n More is having an

Anniversary Sale!December 1st, 2010 ONLY

15% off the entire store!* with FREE SHIPPING!!
Code is "One Year"

Random Orders will include FREE Gifts! You could receive a Citrus Circle Pack, Gift Certificate, Diaper Tote, Changing Pad, Rockin' Green Laundry Sample with Scoop, or more!!

Aaaaand (yes - there's more!) there will be a special giveaway for Cloth Diapers n' More Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers throughout the day.

Follow the links below to join the fun!!


You don't want to miss this one! Stay tuned for more from Cloth Diapers 'n More in the coming days and weeks! Here are just a couple of the wonderful items they sell:

Loving Naturals Organic Sunscreen
  


DryBees Gone Natural Bamboo Fitted Diaper




*Sale excludes Cotton Babies & bumGenius products.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fall Family Challenge: S is for Silly Snowmen

December is almost upon us! And though I live in the south now, I just can't imagine a holiday season without snow - which is why it's a good thing we're making the 12 hour trek north to spend the holiday with our families. This is actually our second year having a Virginia Christmas, but last year we were pounded blessed with three major snow storms; giving us a very white holiday season!

I really hope that there is snow when we travel to Michigan this year for Christmas. My husband and I are looking forward to taking AJ sledding and building a snowman!!

Here are some silly snowman ideas for outdoors or indoors... no matter what climate you live in!

S is for Silly Snowmen

Snowman Chair Covers

Need a fun and easy way to spice up the "kid's table" this year? Check out these adorable Snowman Chair Covers from Disney's Family Fun. All you need is a few yards of felt, a sewing machine and some glue! (Psst... a plain white pillow case works well too!) For even more fun, cut out an assortment of eyes, noses, and mouths and let your littlest guests decorate their own snowman before the feast!

Headless Snowman

Turn your kids into a snowman this year! It's as easy as it sounds... make a snowman without a head, and have your child stand behind it for an adorable photo opportunity. Make a whole family of headless snowmen to create a Christmas photocard that your friends and family won't soon forget!

Rice Krispie Snowmen

We don't need the commercials to tell us that there is something magical about Rice Krispie Treats! Check out this fun Snowman Treats recipe from The Recipe Link. These are sure to be a crowd pleaser!

Read All About 'Em!

Great reads about our frosty friends:






Creamer Bottle Snowman!

These adorable little buddies are super easy to make! What an adorable way to recycle your coffee creamer bottles! Check out the full instructions here at DLTK's Growing Together.

Pin The Nose on the Snowman!

For a fun game for the little ones this holiday season, make a snowman on the wall using various sized paper plates. Give your frosty friend a smile and a mouth, and cut out several carrot shaped noses. Use a little double sided tape and blindfold your guests to see who can get the nose on the snowman!

The Fall Family Challenge by Holly at Nap Time is designed to encourage families to do activities together and learn at the same time. There are no rules, no wrongs, no rights - just family fun!

Get a $25 Discount Code to Shutterfly Just In Time for Holiday Cards!

Blissful Beluga Christmas
Get custom photo Christmas cards online at Shutterfly.com.
View the entire collection of cards.


Last year we used Shutterfly's Christmas Cards to serve a dual purpose - wish Happy Holidays to all of our loved ones and announce the arrival of our little one!

Do you want to get a $25 code to Shutterfly to use towards your holiday purchase? Follow these easy steps, here:

1. Log into your Shutterfly account.

2. If you don't already have a photocard project, you're going to need to create one.

3. Click on "My Shutterfly"

4. Click on "View All Projects" and select one of your photocard projects by clicking on the green dot above the title.

5. On the right side of the page, click "Share Project" and follow the steps to get the widget to embed the project onto your blog.

6. When you're finished, email shareproject@shutterfly.com with the link to your website to receive your free $25 code.

ENJOY!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

GiveBack.org is Perfect for EVERY Online Shopper!

For my family, Thanksgiving is really the beginning of the holiday season. Growing up, Thanksgiving marked the day that it was acceptable to put up our Christmas decorations, play the holiday music and shop for gifts. Now that I have my own family I have broken all those rules (my tree was up a week ago), but I do have to say that the Thanksgiving holiday really does put me in the holiday spirit and leave me feeling thankful for what I have and charitable towards others, which is why I am so glad that I found GiveBack.org this shopping season!

GiveBack.org is an organization created by Stephen Paletta, the gentleman who won Oprah's Big Give back in 2008. The concept is easy and appealing: you sign up for an account which serves as your "foundation." You can add money to your foundation yourself, through sponors, or through the GiveBack Shopping Mall, in which a % of every purchase you makes goes into your foundations. And this is where the magic of GiveBack.org really begins - you can manage the money in your foundation easily, giving the exact amount to want to virtually any charity with an official tax ID.

Did I mention that you get $5 in your foundation just for signing up?

Upon signing up, I couldn't believe how easy it was to find my favorite local charity through the search engine and donate my $5 - no strings attached!

Then, upon visiting the GiveBack Shopping Mall, I was amazed at how many online retailers are participating! This really is such a wonderful way to shop online for the items you're already looking for while donating a % to your favorite charities! At absolutely no cost to you - GiveBack.org is a movement that every online shopper should be participating in. There is no catch either - GiveBack.org guarantees that 100% of the money you donate goes to the charity of your choice. Fees are covered by sponsors!

What a beautiful, beautiful way to pay it forward this holiday season!

Here are a few of my favorites from the GiveBack Shopping Mall:
- Nordstrom (earn 4% for your foundation)
- Old Navy (earn 3% for your foundation)
- The Disney Store Online (earn 3% for your foundation)
- Diapers.com (earn 1% for your foundation)
- The Land of Nod (earn 5% for your foundation)
- Barnes & Noble (earn 4% for your foundation)
- The Children's Place (earn 3% for your foundation)
- The Body Shop (earn 6% for your foundation)
- Harry & David (earn 5% for your foundation)
- Target (earn 4% for your foundation)

... that's not even the half of it! There are over 400 retailers involved with GiveBack.org. All you have to do is shop through the links on the GiveBack.org website!

So what are you waiting for? Next time you're shopping online (which let's be honest, is probably today) please consider shopping through GiveBack.org.

We can ALL make a difference in all the little things that we do!

Coming soon GiveBack.org will allow users to create their own campaigns and fundraising tools for their favorite charities!

Here's a short video on how GiveBack.org works. Check it out today!




Disclaimer: I reviewed GiveBack.org through my participation with the One2One Network, and will be entered to win a gift card for participating. I was not compensated in any other way. The thoughts and opinions posted above are my own, and may vary from yours. I will not receive anything whether or not you sign up for GiveBack.org, but I hope that you do out of the goodness of your heart!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sponsor Super Sale! Only $10 for 3 Pairs of BabyLegs!! Get them FAST!

I hope everyone had a wonderful and filling Thanksgiving. I know I did. It was my first time cooking a turkey (I've purchased them fully cooked in the past) and I was really happy with the way that it turned out!

I know everyone is busy shopping today so I'll leave you with this AWESOME deal from our sponsors - BabyLegs!

Today you can get a bundle of 3 pairs of BabyLegs for just $10!! While supplies last! (That's a $26 savings!)

Follow this link: http://www.babylegs.com/Category.aspx?CategoryId=702

During checkout, use the special code for Holly at Nap Time readers to save 20% on all merchandise not including the Cyber Monday Deals  -  NAPTIME

Enjoy!!! I just purchased the "Paint the Town Pink" set!

While you're at it, don't forget to "Like" BabyLegs on Facebook! For more FREE BabyLegs, enter our giveaway here!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adopted Ed {A Children's Book Review}

November is National Adoption Month in the United States. It's a time to raise awareness of the children in our own foster care system that are in need of their forever homes. Currently that number is 115,000 children (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). Chances are, you know someone in your life who has been adopted. And chances are, that person at one time or another has been an outcast for this unique trait they have about them. It's important to educate our children on adoption and the characteristics that make each of us special.

Adopted Ed is a beautiful children's book in which we follow the journey of a young boy, Ed, as he learns that he is adopted. Author Darren Maddern speaks from the heart in this Suessical style book, as he was adopted too. It touches base on the issues of what it means to be adopted, how to overcome other people's thoughts on adoption, and the feelings of emptiness that adopted children often have later in life that prompts them to search for information on their biological parents.

My favorite line from the book is when Eddie approaches the bully that has been harassing him about being adopted, and he says, "My parents chose me, yours were stuck with you!"

Adopted Ed is a beautifully moving story that is the perfect way to introduce your child to the subject of adoption and to better educate them. It's full color illustrations by Erin Fusco leave us with characters we are eager to learn more about and a realistic world that we can relate to.

The story ends with a list of celebrities that we all know who were adopted. What a wonderful way to showcase how unique and individual each person is!

Adopted Ed is on sale NOW at Amazon.com. Click here for details! Adopted Ed is listed for children ages 9-12, but I really see this book being meaningful to children even as young as 5 years old.

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of Adopted Ed to review through my participation with the One2One Network. There was no other form of compensation for this review. The thoughts and opinions above are my own and may differ from yours!