The Days That Move Me

Sunday, January 30, 2011

We've had a rough couple of weeks. Who am I kidding? It's been a rough couple of months! When this weekend came up, I had a bit of a panic attack. You see, I had the opportunity to go to San Antonio for a couple of days. I'd been sick earlier in the week and I probably should have stayed to catch up on work and house work. But something inside of me told me that I needed to let go of the "shoulds" and embrace the "nows."

Mari loves hotels. When we woke up in our hotel bed, Friday morning, Mari squealed with glee! We dressed, and had breakfast as a family. Then, Don kissed us goodbye as he set off for his conference. Mari and I loaded up and headed out for our special day, a day with just us. I only planned going to the zoo and that was planned just the evening before. For those of you who know me well, you know that I plan almost everything! I plan my days, I plan in terms of quarters of the year. Having things scheduled on my calendar makes me happy. Creating colorful itineraries gets me giddy. I didn't have ANY objectives going into this trip. Well, that's a lie. I just wanted to spend time with my family and try to shut out the white noise that always distracts me in the everyday. This was certainly a weekend that I would treasure for a long while.

So off we set to the San Antonio zoo! I went ahead a rented one of their double strollers to not only cart the Sugarbean around the zoo, but to also hold the bag of our supplies: water, Cheerios, camera, juice boxes, and such.

First up, the flamingoes. She could've spent the entire time there watching them.
We saw all sorts of animals and she seemed to love them all.

Then, just when I was going to go through the map again to decide what we could hit up again, she turned to me, peering through a small crack in the stroller and said, "Mom, I'm ready to go back to the hotel." My swelling feet didn't complain one bit! We took off and headed back. Not before stopping to grab a bite to eat for lunch at a nifty place called Order Up. (Which was really good!) I also, grabbed some dessert for us to indulge:
Once our meal was settled, we took advantage of the indoor pool. We both had a great time splashing around and enjoying one another's company. All the while, the little one inside me frolicked and kicked just the same. Not much longer until it is no longer just the two of us girls. I have to admit, I got a bit choked up at the thought (still do), but I hope she remembers days like that day, because those are the days that move me indeed.

I will always remember her like this:
And like this:
That evening, we met up with friends at Cheesecake Factory for dinner. Mari loved her broccoli and corn dogs so much, she did a bit of a booty shake. Afterwards, we drove around downtown San Antonio, checking out the Alamo from afar, and driving over the Riverwalk multiple times.

We made it back to the hotel, settled in, and just laughed and giggled the night away. This was the exact reminder I needed that not everything needs to be planned.

Shutterfly Goodness!

hello there!

Remember back when I mentioned getting free Christmas cards using Shutterfly? And then remember when I mentioned some nifty personalized generic cards for birthday gifts and what not? Well, Shutterfly ROCKS again! Just to say thank you, they sent me a code for 10 free personalized cards. Not like it is a big surprise that the Sugarbean has a birthday coming up, so I figured I would take advantage of the offer and order some personalized thank you notes. I used a couple of photos from our impromptu photoshoot to create them and voila: personalized thank you notes that will go along with the theme from her party. I'm so excited, I can't wait to get them! They deliver such a high quality product that I don't hesitate to order anything from them.

They are running an awesome Valentine's day promo, with up to 50% off and free shipping on orders of $25 or more. So go check 'em out!

Sweetheart Delight 5x7 folded card
Create personalized greeting cards and invitations by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

**I didn't receive any compensation for this review. I just wanted to share how much I appreciated Shutterfly's customer service. By posting my widget, I might be eligible to receive another discount code, but in no way did that influence my position about Shutterfly.**

The Big Girl Room Part 1

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Before Christmas, we knew we were going to remodel a part of our home. We determined that Mari needed a larger room and with the baby coming, it was best to leave the nursery as the nursery and move Mari to a big girl room. After much thought and discussion, instead of converting the den into a large bedroom, we opted to make that our office/craft room/all purpose room. The old office/spare bedroom would now become her big girl room. We let our families know of our plans and you know what! They were so very generous in their giving and gave us a whole slew of Home Depot gift cards! Seriously, we were overwhelmed by their generosity and what was going to be a really tight remodel now gave us some breathing room, enough that we weren't going to have to stress about buying a new big girl bed for the Sugarbean!

The second weekend in January, Don told me that he was going to redo Mari's new closet. He was very ambitious and that weekend, he'd moved EVERYTHING out of the office and the closet. There were boxes in the closet that we put in there five years ago. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that we had accumulated, especially because it was staring us in the face in the den. Our den is so full, it is rendered useless. (Lucky for me, I have cousins who are OCD organizers and purgers, they should do it professionally! They are going to come and help me get rid of the unnecessary, organize the crafts, and find a place for the rest of it. I'm so excited!) Anyway, yes, all the stuff was out of the room.

The following weekend, MLK weekend, the construction on the closet began. We were excited because we were going to have another day to work on it! While he did the room, I was going to focus on Mari's dress and everything else for her party. Our cousin and good friend came by to help Don. The plan was to redo the closet and instead of the regular swinging door, we'd install a pocket door. When he pulled the walls down in the closet, he saw just how poorly the house had been insulated. NO WONDER THAT ROOM WAS DRAFTY! They managed to gut the closet completely, and because of the insulation issue, we determined it was best to re-insulate the exterior walls. He also found a Sunkist can from the 80s when the house was built! I hate that we didn't grab a photo of it. Interesting what the insides of your wall can reveal!

Sidenote: I never liked the office. You guys are totally going to think I'm totally hokey, but I always had a bad vibe in there. It was unsettling to me and as a result, I was completely opposed to it ever being used as a long term bedroom because of it. Don knew how I felt. This is why we debated for so long about converting the den v. using the bedroom. I finally relented and decided that I was going to ask my mom to bless the room and get rid of any bad vibes that lingered. There was a teenage boy who lived in that room for a short while when Don used the house as a rent house. The exterior walls had been poorly patched from when he had punched holes taking out his frustration. When he had taken everything out of the closet, he exposed some interesting symbols/drawings and a giant "HATE" scrawled across the back wall. He'd exposed the anger. When the walls came down and it was all thrown away, the unsettling feelings I had were gone. Imagine that. 

Anyway, here's the photo of the closet with all of the walls taken down and no insulation:

When our cousin had stopped by, they were able to use some of his power tools to take off the beams to the closet. Lucky for us, they weren't load bearing beams. This would be perfect for the pocket doors! Here is the closet exposed. It is a decent sized space for a gal! He wanted to continue, but since the Sugarbean had gotten sick, the rest of the weekend was spent trading off to take care of her. 
Luckily, they were able to make a quick run to Home Depot to purchase the frames for the pocket doors. During the week, Don was able to buy the insulation too and he slowly installed that through the week.  You can see that the pocket doors were installed and so is the insulation. I think it looks great!

Bright and early Saturday morning, our cousin showed up with his truck and he and Don went off to buy the sheet rock. Here's a photo of the closet and the insulation. I forgot to mention that Don is a glutton for punishment because not only did he tear down the exterior walls, he tore down all of the walls and redid the insulation for the entire room and closet!

Below, you can see the exposed walls and our friendly teenage neighbor (he's TOTALLY Don's helper, always helping him with the house projects. The fence, the redo of the patio, and occasionally babysits Mari too!). You can see one of the walls going up!
Here is Don walking in the sheet rock with our friend Nick. I have to stop and take a moment to be SO VERY thankful for friends who are willing to give up their Saturday to help us!

Here is our cousin Mike installing the sheet rock! Looking great, huh?

An hour later, and all of the walls for the room are up! On the right, you can see the teenage neighbor scraping the ceiling to give it a smooth topping instead of popcorn. We don't like popcorn ceilings and well, we've been doing one room at a time in the house. I think we only have a few more rooms remaining with it.

Here's another view from inside of the closet.After the walls are all put up, it is time for taping, sanding, then PAINTING!!!! So excited! We are also going to add a new ceiling fan and install the shelving inside of the closet. When it is finished, Mari shouldn't require a dresser drawer any longer. All of her clothes will be inside of her closet, with plenty of room for her shoes and for her to grow. Very happy indeed!

Lollipop Flowers

With Mari's birthday coming up and Valentine's day just around the corner from that, I needed a simple craft that would make use of the 50+ Dum Dums. I did a search on the Google and found Craft Elf. This is a great site with lots of ideas, I just wish there wasn't as many ads on the page because it can be quite distracting. Anyway, I opted to go with lollipop flowers because I have oodles of tissue paper (the wrinkled kind adds even more texture to your flowers!), the lollipops, and some floral tape too. This ended up being a really inexpensive craft for me.

You will need:

  • Tissue Paper
  • Scissors
  • Flower shape
  • Lollipops
  • Floral Tape

Here is my shape of the petals. I took several layers of tissue paper and stacked them on top of each other, then cut out the shape.

Then you can see how I stacked 4 pieces on top of each other and snipped a hole in the middle to slide the lollipop.

Finally, gather the tissue and wrap with floral tape. Stretch the floral tape to activate the "sticky" power and wrap it on itself. Voila...lollipop flowers!

Product Review: Pingg

Thursday, January 20, 2011 is an online stationery site where you can send announcements (electronic invitations) or ask them to physically snail mail them for you. Once upon a time, my go to online meeting/event organizing tool was evite, but they completely overhauled their website and quite frankly I find it extremely limiting, lacking in creative freedom and just too clunky. I literally typed "evite sucks want to make my own announcement online" and came back as one of the results. I have no idea how it happened, but either way, I'm thankful because they are awesome!

You still don't quite get it? Ok, let's say you are going to have a dinner party with a few guests and SURPRISE, it is also going to be an impromptu shower for the guests of honor. You head out to and create a free account with them. Choose from like bajillion free designs and set it up. They are so many. They have cute, funky, modern, retro, bold, bright, whatever. If you don't find what you want, you can also upload your own image. Awesome! It can integrate with Facebook, your email, and even ol' evite to import your addresses. Best of all, you can pre-select a few retailers where the people are registered and have it show up on the site. How cool is that?

But if you are feeling sassy and your small dinner party turned into a much larger event (say 250 plus people) or you want a different graphic and a personalized URL without the small advertisement in the corner, you'd just pay $10 to "upgrade" to Pingg plus. Here, you eliminate the advertising. You also get a personalized URL specific to your event. You can invite more than 250 people. AND, you have access to a gazillion-trillion professional images to choose from. (maybe that was a bit of hyperbole)

Also, let's say you are inviting great grandma to the event, but she doesn't use the computer or Internets. No problem. Just type in the postal address and will print off the invitation, stuff it in an envelope, address it and stamp it and send it on its way. This costs $3 a card, which includes postage. Those of you who have done the formal invitations in the past for events knows that this is actually rather affordable when you think about how much is spend per invite, plus the cost of printing, plus your time to address it, plus the cost of postage. Those take up to 10 days to deliver.

Finally, once you have your event all ready to go, you've sent out the invitations and you need to track your stuff, their dashboard and manage page are awesome! It not only tells you the number of people attending, but also the percentages of yes/no/maybe/undecided.

Anyway, I love them and I'm fast and furiously getting the organization and planning gears going just so I can socialize! I have a baby shower coming up and let's not forget that in 5 months it will be my birthday month! ha ha! Go check 'em out if you are fed up with evite and other sites like that:

**I was not paid to endorse this product. I just thought it was really great and felt it needed to be shared. Spread the word!**

Review: CMT's Working Class

As part of the One2One Network, I was selected to preview CMT's first original comedy, Working Class, starring Melissa Peterman (Reba) as Carli and Emmy and Golden Globe winner Ed Asner as her neighbor/co-worker Hank. This sitcom centers around a single mother of two (Carli) from a rough background who has moved her children to the suburbs to provide a better life for them. She works the counter at a deli with her cranky neighbor, Hank and does her best to juggle raising a family on a tight budget.

In the pilot, we are introduced to Carli and her brother, who lives with her, but I'm not sure what he does exactly except take up space. Early on it is evident that she struggles financially as she shuffles through the bills. While she's at work, you are introduced to the cantankerous Hank who is not only her co-worker, but her neighbor. Shortly into the episode you are introduced to a love interest that has caught Carli's eye, and we later learn that he is her boss and he also has a girlfriend. 

Now that you know a bit of the background, I will give you my review. There were parts of the show that were funny and compelling. I want to see where and how the story develops because honestly, right now it just wasn't captivating and believable. If Carli was from such a rough background, then she would have learned not only frugality, but also creativity with how to stretch a dollar. There are too many single parents out there who are working class or lower, who might be offended by parts of this show. For example, if you work the counter at a deli, you are on your feet all day, you certainly wouldn't have the ability to walk around in heeled fashion boots or let alone wear a mini skirt. I know what the writers were going for, but I think they missed the mark. Same goes with the brother. I wasn't sure if he was there to provide comic relief or just to be an annoyance. Ed Asner's character had some great one-liners and he delivered them like the true acting veteran he is. As far as Melissa's performance, there were times where bits of the character from Reba were sneaking out and then she'd switch into another. I wasn't sure how she was trying to play it. I just wish she played it one way or another. I'm going to give this show a high mediocre rating because I want to like it. I have the same feeling like I did when I first started watching The Secret Life and by the third episode I was hooked. I can see myself getting invested with these characters and curious to know what happens to them. There is definitely potential for this series and I can appreciate how difficult it is to introduce new characters in a short amount of time. The very best thing that I can appreciate about this show is that it is extremely family friendly! 

There you have it. If you are interested in watching the show, the premiere airs on January 28 at 8pm EST/PST, followed by a second, all-new episode at 8:30pm. Go to the show's website for more information. 

**I was not compensated to write this review.  In exchange for writing this review, I am eligible to win one of five $50 Visa gift cards or one of five $25 Visa gift cards. The opinions in the review are mine and mine alone and in no way were they influenced by my eligibility to be entered into a drawing to win prizes. 

HDMR: The Social Network & The Town

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What is this Bianca, you are actually going to keep up the HDMR schedule? Why yes, I do believe I will endeavor to do so. With that said, here are two more flicks that are available for rent at Redbox, Blockbuster, and will soon be On Demand if they aren't already. On with the reviews:

The Social Network
I'd been going back and forth about watching this movie, but 'lo and behold I was given a free coupon code for Redbox, so I figured I would give it a go. Everyone knows this movie as a movie about the story of Facebook, or The Facebook Movie. What you don't know is the "history" of Mark Zuckerberg and other players in the Facebook game. Written by Aaron Sorkin, early on, it received much critical acclaim, even earning  4 Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture - Drama. This movie is captivating and I found myself in subconsciously trying to psychoanalyze the character that is Mark Z. Was her purposefully socially awkward or just that way? And I know many people are going to disagree with me on here, but I never saw past Justin Timberlake as Justin Timberlake. Don't get me wrong, he played sniveling, scheming devils' advocate very well. But I still saw him as Justin Timberlake. Anyway, the supporting players were great. I particularly enjoyed Andrew Garfield's performance as Wardo! This was a very interesting story and it was great to see everything that I had read on Wikipedia come to life. I would definitely recommend this as a rental, but I'm not exactly sure if it deserves Picture of the Year. Then again, I haven't seen all of them, but still. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.

The Town
First thing you must know is that I watched this when I was beyond delirious because I'd only gotten about 5 cumulative hours of sleep. I wanted a gritty and abrasive drama filled with all sorts of colloquial dialect and intriguing mannerisms. Instead, I got a melodrama and a forced history lesson shoved down my throat, where the only redeeming quality wasn't the eye candy, but Jeremy Renner's performance as James Coughlin. That dude is fantastic! If you only watch the movie for his performance, then you won't be disappointed. He plays the special kind of crazy that I really appreciate. ha ha! But the rest of it...well, sorry Ben Affleck, but I was too disappointed with your performance. I kept waiting for that certain punch and well, I just didn't get it. Meh. I guess if this is on TNT as the afternoon show, then go ahead and watch it. If you have a free Redbox code (score!), then check it out. And if you just need a bit of new action and you are desperate, then check it out. If you are a fan of Jeremy Renner, then check it out. Like I said, he made the movie for me.

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Coming soon, a review for a new TV show called Working Class brought to you by an opportunity from the One 2 One Network.

The Red Queen Costume

Monday, January 17, 2011

I'd been mulling over the idea of Mari's costume for her birthday for almost as long as we had been planning the party, which was a long time. Things didn't start to form in my brain until Halloween when Grosgrain posted her Halloween ideas. One of which happened to be The Red Queen. Then the inspirational juices started flowing. I sketched out a plan and used a few JoAnn's coupons and took advantage of the costume fabric on sale for Halloween.

I think I went a bit overboard because not only did I get dupioni silk, but I also went crazy with the heaviest weight of broadcloth that they had. I was lamenting that I didn't buy more trimming accessories, but that's ok. Mari is still little and having all of the extra would just be a distraction, not to mention a safety hazard, potentially if there were small bits she could choke on.

First up, a full skirt. I knew I wanted several panels. Recently, Mari was gifted Disney's Giselle's dress from her cousin. She loved it. I used the skirt as the sample, so right off the bat, the dress was NOT going to be like the sketch. I planned to make tiny bustles out of the gold portion and add a drape of some sort.

Next up was the bodice. I still wanted to do the pintucks, but I've never done them. After viewing a couple of videos on Youtube that were mostly focused on machines with a pintuck foot, I happened upon Burdastyle's Pintuck tutorial. It made sense enough, even though I knew I executed it poorly. I used Make It and Love It's puffy sleeve technique. I wanted longer sleeves with some puff to it. The first ones I made ended up not being wide enough for Mari. Then, she's been sick, so I haven't exactly gotten to test this one out, so I just might be making new sleeves. ha ha ha! Anyway, I was a lover of puffy sleeves when I was younger and my grandmother taught me to add a bit of tull to the top gather to make the puff be even puffier. I tried her little trick and thank God I did because they would've been flatter than I would have liked. It still didn't have the pizazz I wanted, so I added a tiny bit of trim to the sides and I think I pulled the gold with it. For the record, I made a couple of pattern pieces from an existing dress that Mari loves. The front panel is one piece where I just attached the pintucked fabric piece. The back is made up of two panels and instead of adding a zipper, I just added velcro, since this is going to be a dress up costume afterall.

Next, was to add a drape. I had it in my head that I wanted to do a bit of knot smocking because I like that it gives an elegant and regal look. Instead of keeping with the red, black, and gold, I used navy for a pop of color, that and I had some lovely sheer fabric that would work well as a drape of some sorts. I just gathered some fabric, hand sewed five loops and went down three inches in the line. For the next row, I just went in between each knot. I used red ribbon to keep the color scheme together. Here is what the final panel looked like.

Next, I attached it to the skirt, then it was time to attach the skirt to the bodice. Since this is the Queen of Hearts, she needed hearts, so I cut out 4 hearts and added them to the red panel in the skirt that was showing. It was very rudimentary and I'm considering getting some more trim, maybe lace, to make it look nicer. Not sure. Also, she will be wearing her very full pettiskirt underneath, so I'm REALLY glad the skirt is extra wide.

Here you can see the hearts that I attached and the tiny bustle/gathers I made on the gold. Now that I look closer, I want to add a couple more.

Here you can see the drape that I added with the red knots.

And here is a full shot of it, complete with the pettiskirt under it. See how full the dress is? I hope she loves it!

I still have to do the hem and maybe add a few more embellishments, but that's about it. Should I add some more hearts? Does it need lace? Is it good enough, especially for dress up? Aaaaaack! I know I'm obsessing over it and the biggest critic has yet to try it on or even see it. I like it and think it is pretty darn good for a first effort major costume with no real pattern that I just threw together. I learned a lot from this project and I can't wait to try to make another big one.

Hope she feels well enough tomorrow for a photo shoot because well, her party is in a month and I need to get the invites together. More party details to come.

Mommy My Ears Hurt

Sunday, January 16, 2011

That's what she told us last night about an hour after putting her down. All day she'd been spunky and spritely, I was happy to know that she wasn't feeling sick like she had a few days ago. She felt so great that she didn't even nap. But then she woke up screaming, complaining of pain.

"Mommy, I don't feel well. I need to go to the doctor."

I just held her and sang to her. (Sidenote: I'm loving her proper use of grammar! ) We put some ear drops in her ears to help alleviate the pain and gave her some of the Hyland's Belladonna and Ferrum Phosphate. Again, she slept for another few hours. Then came the time that Don and I had wound down to go to bed, close to 2AM *seriously*. We had both checked on her and she was fine. Right as we were FINALLY settled in bed, because this pregnant woman needs about six pillows positioned in just the right way to be comfortable, we heard a tiny voice coming from the other room. I nodded my head, gave Don the look and we agreed to let her sleep with us. The coughing would continue and it was best if we could monitor it in our bed. We piled on the pillows for her since we know she has an ear infection. From previous experience, the more upright they can be, the better they will feel, so she was leaning on a mound of pillows. At this point, I couldn't quit chit-chatting about mindless things. I was nervous and anxious for Mari and those two don't mix well if I'm trying to sleep. Poor Don. And then she shot up asking for a towel and the vomiting began. Serious sickness, that both Don and I were amazed and horrified. I ran to the bathroom and grabbed another towel because that one was being filled quickly. Where did it all come from because she'd hardly eaten all day. At first I thought it was a stomach bug, but after further investigation (yes, I looked, whatever!) I realized it was mostly mucus. And then I felt worse for her. While Don cleaned up (such a great dad!), Mari and I took a warm bath and I took the opportunity to do some skin-to-skin with her because well, that's what my instinct told me to do. Within moments she was passed out. This was all good until the water got too cold. Out we went and tried to go to bed. It was now nearing 3 and I was still jibber-jabbering because I feared she'd start hovering over the bed with her head spinning around. Fortunately, Don calmed me down and her too and we were all asleep.

Until 8:30 rolled around and she was up again. Although, this time, the tiny whiny voice was requesting breakfast, so that gave me hope! I whipped up some scrambled eggs whipped with cream cheese and turkey bacon. I served everyone up some juice and then she didn't want to eat. He had a half a bite of egg, even less of bacon, and a sip or two of apple juice. As she sat there in a lethargic state, Don and I were trying to come up with a plan of action for church. Right as we were ready to execute, Mari executed a plan of her own all over herself, Daddy, and the comforter. And just as he cleaned up, she got sick again. Again, where did it all come from???? Mucus making machine, I tell you. I nodded at Don and we cleaned up and prepped to go to Acute Kids for a check-up. As I learned from Christmas, if you can't keep the fluids down, you need to go to the doc before dehydration kicks in. Off we went and like every visit, the staff was super friendly, the doctor amazing, the nurses are even better, and the wait time is less than waiting in a line at Wal-mart. I love going to them. I wish there was an Acute Adults! Anyway, I got off track.

The doctor checked her ears and sure enough, she told us they were both bad. And then she did something that no other doctor had done before. She asked us if we wanted to see it for ourselves. Both Don and I jumped at the chance. He saw one ear and I saw the other. The one I saw was bright red, with a couple of tiny blisters, and a bit of pus. My heart fell to the floor. It is moments like that where I feel completely and utterly helpless. I knew what she had. I knew what we needed to do, but I don't have the authority to write a prescription. Here's the rub with antibiotics: We don't like them. I know, I know, sometimes we're crunchy like that. But we have good reason to not like them.

Here's the story: Mari's very first ear infection at 9 months old was treated with Augmentin. Her pedi totally skipped the basic pink stuff and hit it hard. We were warned it might be a bit tough on her tummy. That was an understatement. This experience showed us the marvelous wonders of cloth diapering and yeast infections. Blech. Next go round, less than a couple of months later, her pedi treated it with Amoxicillin with Augmentin. Same effect, and this time, she had rash and a complete and total "out of it" state. A month passed and we had to hit up the doc again. This time the nurse practitioner advised us about probiotics, the nature of antibiotics, and how the ear infections Mari had been getting very well could have been viral, but there was no way to tell. When I described her symptoms from taking the medication, she told us that Mari had experienced an allergic reaction. You can imagine my surprise when her pedi called a couple of days later advising us to put tubes in her ears. That is when we switched pediatricians. Immediately, that pedi acknowledged the Augmentin allergy and suggested other ways for us to not only treat ear infections, but to prevent them too. Fast forward a couple of years, and in November, we did an antibiotic test run with Omnicef. This is when we discovered that she has a full blown Penicillin allergy (just like her grandfather) after her entire body was covered in a rash and again she had another yeast infection, despite the probiotics we had given her. There you have it, our aversion to antibiotics because they cause more problems than actually fixing them.

We are trying something new. Another antibiotic that doesn't have any penicillin, but apparently it tastes awful. We were advised to totally skip the flavoring and just mix it with chocolate syrup. Instead of getting Hershey's (because it is loaded with HFCS and a bajillion other things we can't pronounce), we are trying out this Ah!laska, which tastes just like chocolate syrup did when I was a kid (even though it is $3 more than the Hershey's yikes!). Also, these Yum-Yum dophilus tables are like Sweet Tarts. I don't like them, but Mari loves them! A great way for her to get her probiotics and only $11.99 at Whole Foods. The great thing about antibiotics is that it will protect her from the Strep that is going around at her school, as well as any other bacterial infection that she has been exposed to.

We are both quite fatigued, both emotionally and physically, so coffee was in order. I enjoyed a caramel macchiato, which that particular drink was probably in the top 5 best coffee drinks I've ever had. It made me so happy and oddly less anxious. Don enjoyed a fabulous French Press coffee experience. I was more alert, and Don was smiling. And Mari, well, she was sleeping.
Poor thing. When we got home, she was up and we loaded her up with the meds and gave her a homemade apple popsicle to enjoy. Plans for today have been delayed a bit, but as long as she's feeling much better, I don't really care. She takes priority first.

For those of you interested, here are some other homeopathic things we tried before the doc. This is just information we found online and/or has been recommended by our Nurse Practitioner or Osteopath. It is by no means supposed to replace or substitute your medical practitioner's opinion.

  • Hyland's Kids Kit
  • Warm compress on the ear, especially like a rice sock
  • Ear ache drops
  • Drinking water to keep the fluid/mucus not as thick
  • Popsicles are effective too
  • Breastmilk when she was nursing
  • Light soothing massage
  • Sleeping or sitting upright to help with drainage

Letter for Mari

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hello Sugarbean,

This week has wreaked havoc on our bodies. We've both been very sick, which has made us both a thousand kinds of emotional. In the past few weeks, you haven't enjoyed being dropped off at your escuela. You've actually made me very aware of it each morning as I dress you how much you despise going to your school. Since you've been sick, we've been hanging out at home, sleeping in, watching movies, and generally piddling around trying to heal. It's been glorious, but far from productive, which is ok because sometimes we just need to rest. Now that we are feeling better, it is time to get back into our routine. It is Friday morning, so we get up just a tad bit earlier and you will fit and fuss until I tell you it is Friday and that means we go and get a donut. Actually, I buy a warm kolache for you and give you two donut holes to eat. You get happy on the way there, shouting praises and exclamations for a pink donut. (yet, the few times I've given you a pink donut, you don't really want to eat them, just look at them.) I relish these moments. Us driving in the car, you happily singing a made up tune in the back, and me, getting to be your mom and drive you around to share in life's tiny indulgences.

And then we'll get to your school where you will no doubt, be upset that I'll leave you at school. Which, was exactly what happened when I dropped you off. Even worse because your favorite morning teacher wasn't there to give you hugs and hold you when I leave. The disruption in the routine bothers me too. And there you sat, crying with your "happies" smiling back at you on the plate and you didn't want to have anything to do with them. You wanted Mama. I heard you crying for me. I heard you quiet down to listen as my heels walked away. My heart broke in a billion pieces like it has done for the past three years. I peeked in the window before getting in my car and I could tell you were softly crying as your body quivered in sadness. You were still staring at the door, willing me to come back for you. I nearly did. But I choked back tears and told myself what I'd just told you. "Now is the time to be brave." I sulked to the car and made my commute in. I nibbled on my donut hole and I knew if someone had shot video, I'd surely be featured on Crying, while eating. I don't know if it is the pregnancy hormones or what, but today was more difficult than not. I just want you to know that it is hard for Mommy too.

I love you very much and the things you have learned at school have been wonderful. You have amazing teachers and good friends. Each day when I get home, I am engulfed with a bear hug from you while you happily exclaim, "Mommy, you're back!" To which my heart melts and you will proceed to tell me about your day while you help me put away my shoes before running off to continue your imaginative play. You are so independent and happy.

As we get closer to Tesla's arrival, I know you will make an amazing big sister. You are more patient than I sometimes give you credit. You are extremely compassionate and empathetic. You are so smart and love to share any knowledge that you have recently attained. You are extremely creative! *swoon* We can't forget just how funny you are! That little laugh of yours is so infectious. I just know that you and Tesla will have a wonderful time growing up together.

I love you dearly, even when I'm being mean. Never forget that!

Love always,


HDMR; Tangled

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Today's HDMR is brought to you by a cold that doesn't want to quit. All week, the Sugarbean has had a perpetual runny nose and last night starting at 1:30, the coughs came around and they were these deep rooted coughs that I knew were painful. This went on until 6AM. It made for a long night and day. When she emerged from her sleep cocoon, I was spent and needed mindless thought. We opted to go to the early show, knowing that it wouldn't be full and we probably wouldn't expose anyone else. She was wrapped up tightly in her comfy clothes, plus she had her favorite blanket, it was almost like we were at our couch at home. Sure enough, we were the only ones there for the first part of the film.

I'd wanted to take her to see this for a while. I have always like Rapunzel and even when I was a kid, I had really long hair. There was a time that I didn't want to cut it! Anyway, the movie is a spin on the classic tale on Rapunzel. What I really enjoyed about this film is that they really tried to highlight dreaming, regardless of where you come from. Also, Rapunzel was a very strong character in her own right. There's a point where she's gleefully happy, then blubberingly sad the next moment. That's real life highs and lows for a gal. I loved her sidekick Pascal too! He was not only cute, but a wonderful best friend too! I did not like Mother Gothel. There is sinister and then there is downright mean and malicious. That's the point of the character, but there were really high levels of deviousness that I wasn't sure how I felt about Mari seeing that. Weird, I know. Tthe colors were bright, the songs were beautiful, and most of the storyline was good. I do wish they would have spent more time developing the male lead's story. But the ancillary supporting characters were fantastic! I loved Max the horse and I know I already said it, but that Pascal is adorable. :)

Overall, I really liked this movie and when it comes out on DVD, I intend to purchase it. It captivated Mari, even though she was sick and she kept talking about it for 15 minutes until she passed out for a 4 hour nap. This was ok to watch with our family and no where nearly as frightening as Enchanted. Check it out for yourself! Thumbs up!

Review: Three Designing Women

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I'm a writer. I type more often than I actually use a pen, but surprisingly, I use a pen quite often. For that reason, my hands tend to look like the above. Various shades of ink cover my fingers and yes, sometimes even my clothes. It's been like that for as long as I've been writing. I'm sad that I no longer have that callous on my finger. I like to think that it is because the writing utensils are getting more comfortable. In any case, when we sent out our Christmas cards this year, I resolved to not have to spend all that time writing out our return address. Ever since I was married, I have wanted a custom stamp or embosser. I hadn't really thought much about it until it comes time to do a mass mailing. I've used the printed labels, especially the free ones I received in the mail from various charities. This year, I couldn't remember where I put those labels.

About a month before the holidays I finally made my first Zulily purchase. Zulily is a discount e-tailer that sells different goods each day that are targeted to moms & children. One day, they had a discount opportunity for Three Designing Women.I've seen their products on some of my favorite stationary sites: Tiny Prints, Paper Source, and Layla Grace.
I was ecstatic! I ordered my own customized stamp, model CS3238 and in two weeks it arrived. It was easy to put together and I wanted to immediately write a letter just so I could use my new stamp. It came with a black stamp, but now I want to buy a green or purple ink to use too!

Anyway, if you do any correspondence through snail mail, I totally recommend getting a customized stamp or embosser and even more I would recommend you get one from Three Designing Women! I can't believe I waited for more than 6 years to get one!

**I was not compensated for this review. I just think this is a nifty product and wanted to share my thoughts.**

Weather in Texas: Snow with a Chance of Ice

Monday, January 10, 2011

We buckled down and got ready for the Arctic Blast that would hit our area. Neither of us like to run the heater on very high, but Saturday night around 9:30, I asked Don to crank up the heat and break out our space heaters. He did one better and started a fire. Mari was eager for the snow to fall and accumulate because she loves playing in it. I remember liking the snow as a child and then within 15 minutes being tired of it. This kiddo could be out playing in it for hours. She is definitely her father's daughter.

Anyway, I had a marathon of a day, completing 8 loads of laundry. Isn't that just the way things go? You make a new goal and you start off with a bang! While my laundry is completed and most of Mari's, I still have a ways to go in terms of catching up, more specifically, laundering all of the towels and bedding, but we'll get there.

Meanwhile, Don was busy packing up the office and moving it to the den. Our office was a catch all of sorts. It was his office, spare bedroom, and storage for random things that somehow got lost over the years. He spent all day Saturday and Sunday sorting, cleaning, throwing away, recycling, and boxing up. And we're still not done! Actually, he may very well be close to done, but there's a giant pile of mess that is mine that I have to go through and choose what stays or what goes. It is going to be tough! The last time we changed office rooms, our garage was rendered a permanent storage spot instead of a garage to park the vehicle. I guarantee you I was missing the garage when I was thwacking the snow off the car.
Lucky for me, the remote start had melted any ice that had accumulated, so all I had to do was get rid of the snow. Anyway, our street didn't even begin to look like the snow day we had last year, but the ice was bad enough that school was delayed or even canceled!

Back to the office. I'm going to share the plan with you for two reasons. One, to keep me accountable for my part in this and two, because I'm so excited!!! Our den is a nice sized room with decent natural light. It was one of the first rooms that underwent a make-over. We'd ripped up the carpet, stained the concrete, repainted, and repainted bookshelves. It was very nice. (And when I say we, I mean Don and his mom and I picked out swatches of paint.) It will now act as office/craft room/spare bedroom. Hence the reason for purging and clearing out. I'm very excited to see how it will all come together. I've been scouring the internets for ideas and I think I have found some shelving and organizing solutions that will fit our needs. The old office will become Mari's new room, which we will have to paint and change out the lights. Mari's room will become Tesla's room. Whew, such changes!

I'll be sure to take photos and update our progress. In the meantime, for all of you who have a craft space, I would love it if you would snap a photo of it and show me how you have organized everything. Thanks!

Book Review: Cinch! by Cynthia Sass

Sunday, January 9, 2011

When I was selected by the One2One Network to review Cinch! by Cynthia Sass, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Reason being, I've never read a diet book and I think I may have really only participated in one diet in my life (which I failed miserably after the first day). But I was open to it, even more so because she packed quite a credential-filled resume punch!

I'm an athlete. If I ever wanted to lost weight, I just got my booty to the gym and worked out until I would burn mad calories. It wasn't until I met Don that I realized I had poor eating habits and was very limited in my diet, in terms of flavors I would actually be willing to try. I was a beef and carbs kind of girl. Steak? Yes! Eggs? Yes! Potatoes? Yes! White bread? Yes! Sushi? NO! Fresh Spinach or Broccoli? NO! Rum & Coke? Yes! Wine? NO! Upon meeting him, I drastically changed my eating habits primarily because I wanted to spend time with him. Heck, one of our first dates was him making me a breakfast burrito to eat: egg whites, fresh spinach, whole wheat tortilla. At the time, a breakfast burrito was a flour tortilla, scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, and cheese. He was unaware how poor my diet was until we actually moved in together. It was in saving money for our wedding that we saw the most benefit of healthy eating. We had very limited outings where we went to a restaurant, our meals were cooked at home, many with fresh ingredients that we had purchased on our trip to the Farmer's Market. I specifically attribute this as the very reason I shed 25-30 pounds before our wedding day (yes, stress had something to do with it, but that wasn't until the final week leading up to it). When I was pregnant with Mari, again, I became very conscious of what I ate. I ate an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, including Palak Paneer because I couldn't get enough Indian food. Yes, I gained weight, but within 9 months, I was not only down to pre-pregnancy weight, but my wedding weight (thank you marathon!), which I attribute to diet & exercise.

And then I hit a plateau.

I stopped running with regularity. I stopped paying attention to all of the things I should be doing. I was blessed to have gotten pregnant, but really, it wasn't until this book that I realized just how much I had checked out. Cupcakes were a regular part of my diet. I didn't bat an eye at the thought of drinking a Ginger Ale or a Sprite. Don't even get me started on carbs! Ugh...But reading this book, I realized that I had gotten off track. We were eating out waay too often and I was over indulging in everything that I said I didn't like. But the more of it I had, the more of it I seemed to want. Scary how artificial sugars and sweeteners do that to you. First off, I need to state that I didn't follow this book to lose weight. I'm pregnant and in no way should I be attempting a drastic change like weight loss. Instead, I used this book as a guideline of healthier eating, not just for myself, but for my family as well.

Immediately upon reading this book, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Cynthia. I'm not a certified nutritionist by any means, but I do have some core beliefs when it comes to foods and I was ashamed to admit that I had turned my back on those beliefs in the past few months. She doesn't ask you to eliminate carbs, eat only protein, or any gimmicks whatsoever. What she does ask you to do is shift your perspective and consider alternatives. You can have chocolate, but go for the dark chocolate full of anti-oxidants instead of the milk chocolate full of calories and sugar. She actually insists on indulging in dark chocolate once a day. I used to dislike dark chocolate, but like wine, I have learned that it is pretty good, especially the types that have a hint of other flavors. Thank you Dude Sweet Chocolate for an ample supply of variety! Instead of loading up on three meals a day, she asks that you eat four balanced foods that include a produce, lean protein, whole grain, plant-based fat, and SASS.

What is SASS you say? SASS is one of the simplest ways of adding a flavor punch to your foods, which opened my eyes to new cuisines when I changed my eating with Don. SASS stands for slimming and satiating seasonings. They include: vinegar, citrus juice/zest, hot peppers, tea, herbs & spices. I didn't grow up eating a whole lot of salt. I did grow up eating garlic and little did I know how much I enjoyed it until I started cooking with it. Fresh garlic was the best! In her book she writes:
Slash Calories without sacrificing flavor
A tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar has a mere 15 calories, one ounce of lime juice 8 calories, a cup of brewed tea just 2 calories, a whole jalapeno 4 calories; and herbs and spices such as mint and turmeric contain zero calories. In contrast, one tablespoon of butter, one tablespoon of mayo, two tablespoons of ketchup, and one-quarter cup of Ranch dressing-condiment amounts that you could easily include in a single day if not a single meal-add up to a whopping 500 calories. A surplus of 500 calories a day is enough to pack fifty extra pounds on your frame over one year. Using the five SASS seasonings in place of sauces, condiments, and dressings immediately cuts several hundred calories from your meals while helping trigger your body's "I'm full" mechanism.
Incredible how small changes can mean big results in the long term. And I can attest to those changes. Once I started to incorporate different flavors into my meals, I didn't eat as much and I was genuinely more satisfied after my meals. Not to mention our sex life spiced up once we spiced up the kitchen. (Sorry family if you are reading this, but it is true!)

Also, two more things that appealed to me about this book. It is vegan friendly and I can easily prepare these foods for my entire family, which includes our nearly 3 year old daughter. I firmly believe that because I ate such a varied diet while pregnant and breastfeeding, she, in turn, has not been a familiar picky eater. She refused cereal. Couldn't stand eating it. We gave up and attempted avocado. She gobbled that up. Soon after, she was eating guacamole, salsa, and chutney. We would dine with friends who didn't have children and they were impressed that they didn't have to prepare a separate kid-friendly meal for her. Heck, they were even more impressed that she had a serious desire to eat spicy salsa! As she's gotten older, she has since pulled back the intensity of spicy foods, but she really enjoys a wide variety of foods. I like that this is vegan friendly because when we have vegetarian friends who are over, I don't have to drastically alter a meal I have prepared or ask that they bring their own meal. It works for all of us.

The final thing about the book that I found appealing were the beverages. While she does not allow for ANY alcohol until you reach your goal weight it doesn't matter to me right now because I'm not drinking. Heck, I won't drink a full glass of wine until at least a while after Tesla is into her feeding routine. Regardless, you are allowed to drink 1 coffee and lots of fresh brewed tea. My boss has recently gotten on a fresh brewed tea kick and I have seen the benefits of it from when he insisted I sip on a cup when I was feeling particularly under the weather. It was a lime-green tea and was so absolutely divine and amazing, I instantly felt better after that one glass. Our neighbors have invited us over once a week for a chat over green tea in the afternoon. Not only is the conversation good for the soul, but the fresh brewed tea is to die for. None of which is sweetened with any sweetener. Just fresh tea. That's a big deal coming from a gal who prefers at least 3 packets of sugar to make some down home goodness, sweet tea. She also ask that you COMPLETELY eliminate all sodas, both regular and diet She says:. A higher intake of added sugar is tied to nearly every chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, even Alzheimer's. One can of sweetened soda a day can turn into fifteen pounds of body fat a year! But I drink diet soda, so that's better.! Statistically, the human risk of obesity actually increases with each daily serving of diet soda, even more than it does for regular soda drinkers! One study found that for people who drank one to two cans of diet soda a day, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was 54.5 percent, compared to 32.8 percent for people drinking the same amount of sugar-sweetened soda. Pay attention to that statistic, "for sugar-sweetened soda." I think she means specifically artificially sweetened sodas, which diet sodas are, and our regular sodas that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar, not Mexican Coke, which is sweetened with cane sugar. Any artificial sweeteners are bad for our bodies because they were not built to process it. I'm especially aware of high fructose corn syrup because it is in EVERYTHING! I have to check labels to be sure that I'm not pumping Mari with it because more often than not, it is in the foods she eats and the drinks she drinks, but that is a separate post all together. Needless to say, cut out the artificial stuff and stick with natural and organic when possible. In the summertime, I'm especially excited to try out her Zesty Cinnamon Basil Berry Tea. I'll put the recipe at the end.

In any case, this book is written with someone like me in mind and for those of you who are new to the whole dieting and changing of lifestyle with meals. It is easy to read, easy to follow, and a great jump start to a whole new lifestyle. She is very honest with how much organic costs and realizes that it is a deterrent for some people with fixed incomes.She always recommends organic, but has done research on which organic items really make a difference as opposed to non-organic. (organic eggs, soybeans, tofu) More often than not, you can get away with using frozen fruits and veggies too! This is especially helpful when those fruits and veggies aren't in season. (Speaking of which, she is constantly citing resources on the web for even more information and she even has real world scenarios of what to choose when you dine out. Chipotle choice for the win!)

I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for a change in your foods. Check it out today and you can order your own copy at Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble. Definitely make the investment for a healthy new you!

**As a member of the One2One Network, I was asked to review this book. As such, I am eligible to receive one of five $50 gift cards for my participation, but in no was was that an influence in my review. The opinions in the review are my own.**

NYG: Update 1

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Remember when I mentioned my New Year Goals (NYG) a few days ago? Well, the week is nearly up and I need to report how I've done. Going forward, these may or may not be a separate post, but for now, here you go:

This week, I have MADE banana bread and pineapple delight. The pineapple delight was a totally new recipe. The banana bread recipe was modified to add more bananas. The recipe I typically use only calls for 2 very ripe bananas. I used 6. While it was ever so much more moist, it was almost like eating a banana! I also made a mess in the kitchen. LOL

As far as eating healthier, aside from the desserts that I have made, we have incorporated family dinner as part of our routine. Thus far, we've made rosemary grapefruit halibut with Gigi's recipe for wedged sweet potatoes, and steamed rice. Halibut was NOT on sale, so this meal cost us roughly $15 total.
Next was chicken, broccoli, and rice in the cast iron skillet. Don impressed me with his skills on this one. The chicken was juicy and flavorful and the whole thing was more savory than I originally thought it would be. I do believe he is now a better cook than I am. I'm going to have to up my game. We bought the chicken on sale and Don found a great deal on the broccoli crowns. We also had some chicken stock we needed to use up, but soon, hopefully, we will be making our own stock. This meal cost us about $7 total.
The first dinner had two full servings of fruits & veggies, not to mention the halibut (since we steamed it) was low fat! The chicken and rice dish was made with fresh broccoli, not frozen. We have an abundance of white rice that we need to use up, otherwise, this meal would have been made with brown rice.

The new thing I'm trying this month is swimming. Yeah, I've been swimming since I was 3 or 4, but I was never good at lap swimming. This month, I'm going to actually try lap swimming, like totally putting my face in the water and everything. This weekend I'm going to buy some goggles too! Whoa, watch out! I tried to do a down and back without stopping, and doing my best to keep as much of my face wet (quite a feat!). I made it in a less than impressive 1:30. Later, I ran 10 laps in the pool and my running average speed is 1:00 a lap. LOL! I say I have some serious stamina and speed issues to develop. Since I'm doing a sprint triathlon in September, I need to be able to do a 300 meter swim. That's 6 continuous laps in the pool. That seems like a marathon to me, but you have to start somewhere, right?

With that swim workout and my warm-up walk, I have burned 275 calories this week. I still have another swimming workout remaining and we are eyeballing a 5K for Saturday morning. Obviously I would mostly walk and Don would run.

Oh and the laundry...blech...still haven't done my 1 load. Maybe I'll do it tonight. Ok, ok, I WILL do it tonight!

In other news, Mari is almost back to her routine. Hooray! But she has still picked up that nasty temper tantrum habit of flailing about. We're gonna have to nip that one in the bud. I'm trying to be as patient as I can with her and get her to calm down and use her words. Just asking her to breathe has worked in the past, but she's been doing this growling thing while staring at me from the top of her eyes saying, "I don't want to take a deep breaaaath!!" Seriously, this kid is primed and ready to be the lead singer for an 80s metal band.

Also, for those of you with kids in school, another AMAZING gift to give a teacher (lock this away in the back of your memory of nifty tips) is a jump drive. This week, a certain special teacher's computer completely crashed. The IT person's solution was to reimage the machine without any attempt at restoring the data. This, of course, infuriated me because I know there was probably a way to retrieve nearly 4 years of data that would be lost. Before any objection could be made, the machine had been reimaged and a booming, yet silent expletive could be heard from miles away. The solution from the tech person was that backups should be made regularly on the 250 MB space provided by the district. There is no reason you should ever need more than that amount, right? ha ha funny! When inquired about what to do if you need more space, the solution was simple: jump drive, but the district won't provide one for you. You need to provide it for yourself. Am I the only person who seems to think this isn't necessarily the best plan? Hmmm...anyway, I'm in search to buy some jump drives that can easily backup whatever the educator (and maybe even the team they are on) will need with ample space, fortified with security, and a lanyard or clip so the drive isn't easily lost. I'm done ranting, but seriously, this irked me. How can we expect our teachers to do their job if they are ill equipped, especially with a tiny piece of technology that doesn't really cost a lot of money? Then again, maybe that is their reasoning, since it doesn't cost much money, what is the big deal if they have to buy their own? What are your thoughts?

HDMR: Salt, Flipped, The Kids are All Right, Going the Distance, & The Other Guys

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Well, I haven't done a hump day movie review in quite some time, but that isn't to say we haven't been watching movies, because we have! :) I just haven't been writing about them.

Without further adieu....

This movie is action packed from the get-go. Once I resigned myself to this being an action flick and nothing more, then I enjoyed it a whole lot more. First off, I like Angelina. I don't like Angelina as a runner. It was painful to me watching her run in this show. Seriously, I have a crazy run, but in this show, where she's a bonafide BAMF, kicking all sorts of tail and such, why oh why couldn't she be a better runner? Another thing, there was a scene where she's balancing on the edge of a building, climbing from window sill to window sill and you later learn there's a dog in her backpack. REALLY? I don't know about you, but I have only carried one creature in a sack that wasn't moving around and yelping, throwing me off balance, let alone, trying to quietly escape, exhibiting world class rock climbing move while barefoot, and in a skirt. Again, don't take it too seriously!  Was it fun to watch and entertaining? Yes. Is it everything you expect from an action packed blockbuster? Yes. I don't intend to own the movie, but it was fun watching and trying to figure out her motivation. Don pegged it early, but I was in disbelief. :D Anyway, it is worth the rental, so enjoy!

I rented this movie just because it was from the same director of When Harry Met Sally... and Stand By Me. First off, you need to know that I was attempting to watch this on Christmas day when I was in the sick trenches. I didn't watch it in one sitting. It took a few times to watch it and I missed about 15 minutes in the middle, and honestly I don't remember the end. From what I remember watching, though, I liked it. I liked how the story was told from each perspective. It started off a bit slow for my liking, but it was cute. It is a story about your first love and how one moment, you are crushing on someone, but then once you forget about them, they story is flipped and they are crushing on you. Isn't that the way those first loves tend to go? :)  It is a charming tale and if it happens to be on a Sunday afternoon movie matinee, then I would recommend it. Or if you are having your own movie matinee marathon using a video streaming device, then go for it! 

There is some serious wit going on in this movie. It features Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Mia Wasikowska (Alice from Alice in Wonderland). The brother implores his older sister to seek out their sperm donor father shortly after her 18th birthday. The kids are raised by two women (obviously lesbian), who are in a serious committed and married relationship in California. Mark Ruffalo plays an adorable guy, albeit, a bit too laid back for his own good. This movie further perpetuated a false reality of how everyone in California is incredibly gorgeous, with the exception of Annette Bening, who is incredibly beautiful, but for whatever reason, she appeared to be more aged than her partner. I loved how real this movie felt. At times it was raw and heart wrenching, which is why I have a difficult time seeing it nominated as a comedy. They were times where it was funny, but there were many more times where I felt extremely uncomfortable. The two mothers are in a very real relationship, with very real marital problems. Then, the cherry on top is when they take their daughter to college and drop her off. I honestly found myself crying more in this movie than I was laughing. Blame it on the hormones. Was it funny? yes. Was it entertaining? Yes! Was I totally jealous over their kitchen in their home? Heck yes!  I can see why this film has been nominated for awards. I would recommend it for sure! Best of all, when I was pent up in my room sick and recovering, I got to see this on Amazon Video on Demand for free! I had purchased some music from them and they gave me a credit. Talk about awesome. Even if it wasn't free, I would still recommend you watch it!

This is another freebie courtesy of Amazon on Demand. Seriously, if you are stuck in bed and you don't have a TV in your room (like us) and Netflix streaming doesn't have the movies you want to immediately see streaming on their site, then use them. It is super, duper easy! Anyway, what was I saying, oh yeah, Going the Distance starring Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. First off, how adorable are these two together. It was totally no surprise to me that their chemistry carried off the screen because it was quite evident on the screen. Yes, it is a classic RomCom, but there were plenty of hilarious parts too. I think I enjoyed the lines of the supporting actors more than the actors. Big kudos go to Christina Applegate who played the over-the-top OCD sister. Wow, she played it so well!! The gist of the story: Boy and girl meet in NYC, but the gal only has 6 weeks until she moves across the country back home to San Francisco. When they initially got together, they were just going to keep it fun and light, but as we all know, best intentions screw things up and well, you end up caring more than you thought you would. There were some very real moments of struggle especially when it comes to long distance relationships. Anyway, it is a lovable tale and I was glad that I didn't have to pay full price for it. When this shows on TBS, definitely watch it, but should you shell out the $5 at Blockbuster? Nah, you can wait. Maybe spend the $1 at Redbox or use your free code there, but still. Grab some chocolate and settle in for some laughs with a dash of tears and enjoy the ride.

The Other Guys

First off, holy moly...Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Derek Jeter!?!?! With that said, I had no idea what this movie was about. Well, I knew it was a cop movie that played up the not as good cops. That's it. What I didn't expect it to be was a movie full of awesome one-liner quotes and random hilarity! Seriously, this movie is totally something to watch when you are feeling silly, need to feel silly, or some pick me up...if you like that kind of humor. I just kept thinking to myself, are you for real? Is that really happening? Does Mark Wahlberg really take himself that seriously? And wow, he really is a good actor because he is playing a guy who is insecure and over-the-top macho, who takes himself and his role way too seriously, and no one gives him any credit, but you know he isn't really like that in real life. Funny. Breakdown: Will and Mark are the kinds of cops that aren't really a part of the A-Team, heck, they wouldn't make the B or C team either. Will Ferrell's character is really great at auditing financial records and is meticulous about crimes that really aren't as big of a deal as murder. Mark Wahlberg's character would like to be a super cop, and is pretty good, but because of an earlier mishap in his career, he's been downgraded to partner up with Will Ferrell, who by the way, is married to Eva Mendes. This is a funny movie and I totally would recommend it. Heck, I'm even considering a purchase because we enjoyed it that much.

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