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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Helicopter Day

"The Boys" got to go to Helicopter Day at the museum. They had a blast. Andrew had been at a slumber party the night before, so I know he was exhausted. We were a bit surprised that Nathan chose to go--even though he knew it would be loud.


Watching one come in for a landing.


Cute boys on a helicopter walk-through.

Here's where Andrew's fatigue is showing. Aren't siblings annoying???

But, how can you stay mad at this face for long?

Go Big Red!

One more helicopter before they left.

They also got to see a demonstration of military dogs. I understand it was really cool.

Here's my favorite video of the day. Can you believe the wind these helicopters kick up? If you watch, you'll see Andrew get hit in the neck by a piece of debris flying in the wind.
video

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Family Reunion #2



Family Reunion #2 was for the Lebanese side of my family. Ever seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? We've retitled that movie as "My Big Fat Lebanese Life". Yes, I know people who might resemble the characters in the show....I might be able to assign names of my relatives to all of the true characters in the movie.

So we get together annually for a big bash. We mainly eat food. There's some games, some dancing, lots of chatting and hugging and fun.

For the main evening meal, we had 232 dining. Above is a proof of the photo the photographer took of our big group. I'm in there...somewhere.

We eat many of the traditional foods over the course of the three meals. My favorite is the Stuffed Grape Leaves. And this year was the best grape leaves ever. We have Cabbage Rolls, Tabbouleh Salad, Sish-ka-bob lamb (can say, but can't spell the Lebanese word), Baklava and for Sunday morning breakfast it's fried bread dough.

 Here are several of our 70+ family members. Since this was our 70th annual reunion, someone asked all the 70+ family members to form a receiving line so everyone could meet those who have the most knowledge of the past.

Looking forward to next year!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


Andrew has been creating collages of the family. Nice job.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Total Body Pillow Review & Giveaway - CLOSED

I had the chance to review the Total Pillow. It's a nice size that would be easy to travel with. On the box, it shows how you can ring it around the handle of your carry on bag for an airplane. You can use it for watching TV from bed or on the floor or lumbar support at home or traveling.


I found that twisting it into the lumbar support position shown was too much for me. I preferred using it folded in half. I really found it to provide good back support for me while I was working in bed. Sean & I have been fighting over who gets to use it when we lay in bed and watch TV. We need two bed pillows for that and the Total Pillow was a great second pillow. Rebekah likes to sit on it on the floor while playing with her toy house and Nathan and Andrew like to lay on it while it's flat on the floor when they watch TV.


The only real complaint I had about the total pillow was when I would lay on it in bed. I found it to be a little too hard for my head. I liked it better when I would put it underneath my bed pillow so there was a bit more cushion. I'm still trying to figure out the best way to twist or fold it when I lay down on it.


I received a Total Pillow in a two-tone blue. There is also a tan pillow available. I liked the blue because it matches so much of my home. It is surface cleanable, but should not be machine washed.


One other suggestion for the Total Pillow was to use it on bleachers at sporting events. We haven't had an event to test this at, but I plan to try it out when we have to sit on those bleachers at school for concerts and sporting events.




From the manufacturer:
VERSATILE TRANSFORMING PILLOW Cradles you with Comfort While Asleep and Awake



Most people spend approximately one-third of their lives asleep on their pillow, however the new Total Pillow has uses for the two-thirds of time spent awake.


There are pillows for all types of issues but no one pillow that bridges all conditions, until now. The Total Pillow™ is for use overnight, on the couch, sitting at your desk, driving, while on a plane or train, in college dorms, or just while watching television. This donut-shaped pillow transforms in just seconds to more than five supportive shapes for customized relief. The patent pending locking technology enables the Total Pillow to support the neck, lower back, ankles and knees.


"Consumers own many different pillows for different applications, identifying the need for a multipurpose pillow solution." said Steve Heroux, CEO of Hampton Direct. "The Total Pillow transforms into five different shapes to answer a wide range of conditions."


The Total Pillow's ergonomic design allows your body to be cradled in support whether you're a side sleeper and like support between your knees and/or ankles or are a frequent traveler. It's also great for the businessperson, who needs lumbar support for the long periods of time spent seated.


Available for $19.99, The Total Pillow and can be ordered online at http://www.buytotalpillow.com/.


Hampton Direct, Inc. is a leading international importer and distributor of consumer products. The Vermont-based company's offerings include common household problem solving products that includes the As Seen On TV Wonder Hanger®, Twin Draft Guard® and Total Pillow®.


 
Want a Total Pillow? Head over to Total Pillow to purchase your own. It's $19.99 plus S&H. Or.....

Win a Total Pillow of your very own!




**Mandatory Entry**
Tell me how you think you would use the Total Pillow. Please be sure to leave your email address in the first entry or make sure it's visible on your profile.


PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to be a blogger to enter this contest, but you must leave a way for me to contact you. Use the anonymous comment form to enter and leave an email.
*You MUST do the mandatory entry! All bonus entries will be deleted if it's not done first!*


**Bonus Entries**
{Leave separate comments for each entry}
1. Follow me publicly on Google Friend Connect (current followers, too) {2 entries}
2. Subscribe to my blog {1 entry}
3. Follow me on Twitter {1 entry}
4. Add my blog to your blog roll/sidebar {1 entry}
5. Tweet about this giveaway {can be done once per day} {1 entry per tweet} You can use this:


@Coolestmommy has a #free #giveaway of a Total Pillow for you to #win. Ends 8/13 http://bit.ly/9OtOTC


**Rules**
•Giveaway ends Friday, August 13, 2010
•Winner will be chosen via Random.Org. and contacted by email
•Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen
• Open to addresses in the United States














Disclosure: This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Total Pillow for this review.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Black Light Mini Golf

Andrew, Tia & Nathan at the Mario Hole

We had the chance to go with my sister to play Black Light Mini-golf. Rebekah stayed with Poppa & Grandma since she wasn't interested in golf. We had a lot of fun, I played terrible golf and we laughed so hard we almost couldn't play some of the holes.


Here are the boys glowing in the black light.

Nathan on the Asteroids hole.

Andrew by the 70's wall.

All in all, we had a great time and it was another successful "Tia's Fun Day".

Friday, July 23, 2010

Family Reunion #1

We had a couple family reunions recently. They were back to back since my sister & brother-in-law were planning to be at both. As life works out, they couldn't make it to both. My sis (who planned this first one) was able to attend, so I got to see her.

The first night, we had dinner for anyone in town at a restaurant. We had the party room and all the kids were having a great time running around afterwards. There was a small stage at one end so they were up and down the stairs running in circles.


The next morning we went to the cemetery to see where some of our ancestors were buried. Rebekah had to have a picture by the biggest stone. Nathan had to pretend to cry since it was a cemetery. Hams--my children are ALL hams!



After the cemetery, we went to lunch. (Did I mention we eat a lot at reunions?) Then onto the air museum. Here's the group listening to our guide.
I have to admit I didn't hear much of what the guide said. I was distracted because Nathan's retainer had accidentally been thrown away at lunch. Luckily, we ate at the VFW so there was only one trash can. Sean went back to dig in the trash while I had the kids. He couldn't find it and I was worried sick. He ended up bringing the trash with him so we could dig through it that night. We found it almost at the top of the bag (praise God), but it has created an extra vigilance amongst all of us.

The kids were a bit bored by the talking, so they studied the planes.

Andrew called me over to point at the wing on this plane--
There's something orange there. He mentioned that it was ironic...
...to have a paper airplane on the wing of the giant airplane.

Here's Rebekah posing for me...
and yes, I'm worried about the teenage years.

After dinner (yes, we ate again), we went to a melodrama. SO FUN AND FUNNY!!!
Here's the heroine and the villain. We got to throw popcorn at the villain. We were also allowed to throw folded bills. Somebody knew origami and made paper cranes, paper stars and paper airplanes. It was a hoot.

Here are two characters trying to be the first to grab a bill.

Here's the heroine with the hero. He saw me taking this picture, so he dropped his hand from in front of his mouth and smiled for my camera. He didn't say his lines because he was posing. Then he said, "I had to pose for a photo." Then started his lines again.

We laughed so hard and had a great time. We took photos of the family groups and said farewell to those who were leaving in the morning. The rest of us met up for breakfast (did I mention we eat a lot?) before everyone left for home. It was a great weekend and my sister & cousin did an awesome job of planning and putting it together. Sis would find the places and my cousin would go check all of them out.

Nice job!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Synovate Taking New Survey Applicants



Just found out that Synovate is taking new applicants. I have done surveys for Synovate for about 6 years. They have a decent point program and incentive prizes. If you like doing surveys, you might want to check it out.

Snikiddy Baked Fries Snack Review & Giveaway--CLOSED

I had the opportunity to review Snikiddy Baked Fries, Cheddar flavor. I wanted to try these out for several reasons. First off they are low in saturated fat and have 50% less fat than regular potato chips (one of my weaknesses in life). I also wanted to review them because...well...I love to eat. What is better than the opportunity to eat for a review??

When my sample bag arrived, I found out that these bakes fries are all natural and are gluten and wheat free (peanut free, too). We have a lot of friends on a gluten free diet, so that was good news to me. For my gluten free-casein free friends, this particular bag has caseins in it for the cheddar cheese, but I am uncertain if all the Snikiddy snacks have casein or not.

We received a 1 oz. sample bag to taste test. I let everyone in the family have some to see what all the reactions were. Andrew liked the texture, but thought it was too cheesy. He'd prefer a different flavor. Nathan wasn't sure about the texture, but tried them. He also would prefer a different flavor (cheese isn't his favorite food to start with) but he thought they had a barbeque taste. I have to agree with him, there's cheese flavor, but to me it takes like barbeque sauce is on them, too. Keeep in mind that Nathan & I strongly dislike BBQ sauce so the potential flavor of BBQ didn't sit well with us. Rebekah wouldn't stop eating them and we had trouble arm wrestling the bag away to give Sean a sample. He said, in a typical understated Sean sort of manner, "They're not bad." He proceeded to eat all the portion we gave him so I think he liked them.

Overall our family really liked the Baked Fries. I think we'd prefer the Original flavor in our house (maybe Ketchup flavor, too). I just think the Cheddar Cheese flavor wasn't our cup of tea.

Some additional information about ordering Snikiddy snacks--Buy Snikiddy sharing packs at Snikiddy.Alice.com and get $1 off, plus FREE shipping.

Want to enter the sweepstakes? Check out the Sweepstakes at Facebook.com/Snikiddy. Fill out the sweeps tab to enter for a chance to win the weekly drawing for a Snikiddy gift basket or the grand prize- a Jamis kids' bike. Snikiddy can also be found on Twitter.


Want to win a sample bag of your own?

**Mandatory Entry**

Visit Snikiddy online and check out the flavors of baked fries and puffs. Tell me what your favorite flavor would be. Please be sure to leave your email address in the first entry or make sure it's visible on your profile.
PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to be a blogger to enter this contest, but you must leave a way for me to contact you. Use the anonymous comment form to enter and leave an email.
*You MUST do the mandatory entry! All bonus entries will be deleted if it's not done first!*

**Bonus Entries**
{Leave separate comments for each entry}

1. Follow me publicly on Google Friend Connect (current followers, too) {2 entries}
2. Subscribe to my blog {1 entry}
3. Follow me on Twitter {1 entry}
4. Follow Snikiddy on Twitter {1 entry}
5. Add my blog to your blog roll/sidebar {1 entry}
6. Tweet about this giveaway {can be done once per day} {1 entry per tweet} You can use this:

@Coolestmommy has #free #giveaway of #Snikiddy Baked Fries Snack bag for you to #win. Ends 8/5 http://bit.ly/cfo9JG

**Rules**
•Giveaway ends Thursday, August 5, 2010
•Winners will be chosen via Random.Org. and contacted by email
•Winners will have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen
• Open to addresses in the United States




Disclosure: This is a MamaBzz review. This product was provided by Snikiddy for this review. No other compensation was given and providing me with the product does not affect my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: National Grilling Month


I just found out that July is National Grilling Month. And we haven't even celebrated.

I love grilling out in the summer. Mostly, I love the break from cooking because around here, I don't even know how to fire up the grill, let alone cook on it. I've let it be Sean's domain. And while we grilled out quite a bit in June, we haven't done much in July--the official month.

I think it's been a bit too hot to give it a whirl. I'm hoping August cools a bit so we could grill and possibly even eat outside.

In honor of National Grilling Month, I wanted to share one of our favorite grilling recipes with you. I got it from my mom and it's become our favorite. I'll warn all of you--I hate mustard, can't stand the taste. So when you see what our favorite grilling recipe is, you might laugh out loud--it's ok, I laugh at myself.


Garlic Mustard Grilled Chicken
1 Cup Yellow Mustard
2 Tbsp. (heaping) Garlic Powder
4-6 Thawed Chicken Breasts (or whatever your favorite chicken pieces are)

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of yellow mustard with 2 heaping Tbsp. garlic powder. Mix well, then dredge chicken in mix and grill until cooked through. Baste with leftover mustard mix while grilling.

Add more or less mustard or garlic according to your tastes.


I hope you enjoy grilling a little something this summer during National Grilling Month. If you have another excellent grilling recipe, please pass along to me.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dance, Dance, Dance

Sorry for the blog delays - two family reunions in two weekends makes for a tired momma!


Rebekah always dances her way around the house. She loves to "Dancy, dancy, dance" like June from the Little Einsteins. We decided to let her have a taste of dance lessons and put her into a Pre-ballet/Pre-tap class. It's a four week camp to give the girls a taste of dance lessons. She's having fun and seems to enjoy it, but it's not her first love. It's been a good lesson that she's really not 100% ready for dance lessons and waiting another year would be wise. (She also wants to try soccer this fall--and Sean & I believe it could be her niche!)

She had so much fun trying to move her feet and arms the correct way. It's a stitch to watch these 3 & 4 year olds attempt to dance. My favorite moment was when the teacher tapped on her legs to show how she was turning out her feet and all the girls leaned over and tapped their legs. None of them turned their feet out.




My pink blur in motion!

Stretching...

A star sticker for our little dancing star. I tried to take some movies, but they turned out too dark. I'll try again because it's so much fun to watch!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pocket Purifier & Sun Mate Review and Giveaway--CLOSED


I have a double review today and a double giveaway. Purely Products gave me the opportunity to review a Pocket Purifier, which is a hand held germ eliminating light. It's a really cool gadget that is about the size of a women's billfold and you can easily slip it into your purse or diaper bag.


To use the Pocket Purifier, you turn the Purifier Light on and shine it on the object you are purifying for about 10 seconds. DO NOT use on skin.


Why would you want a Pocket Purifier? Have you ever set your purse down on a questionable floor--Has baby ever dropped the paci on the floor--Ever wonder if the phone/remote/doorknob in your hotel room has been sanitized? For any of these situations where you wish you had a sanitizer wipe, you can use the purifier to be sure your items are not covered in germs.




I thought the way the purifier works is amazing. It kills the DNA of the bacteria so they can not multiply. It uses UV-C light and keeps the germs from being able to grow or to reproduce. This whole concept fascinated me. I understand enough biology to see how this could work, but was a bit skeptical if it truly did as it claimed.

I happened to be at a mom & baby group when a paci fell onto the floor. I pulled out my Pocket Purifier and offered to sanitize the pacifier. One of the gals in the group mentioned that they use the purifiers where she works. She's a high school science teacher and they use the purifiers to sanitize the goggles after kids use them.

When I found out that a science teacher agrees that these work, I was doubly impressed. There are so many uses for the purifier and I'm still thinking of ways to use it. As many of you know, I'm trying to use less chemicals and the Pocket Purifier fits right into my less chemical mantra. It kills 99.9% of germs that cause cold & flu (plus ecoli bacteria) without chemicals.

The other great thing is there's a flashlight build into the purifier as well. This was handy when we had a power outage this week at our home. It was sitting on the kitchen counter (I sanitized my cutting board after cutting chicken) and I was able to use it to get us safely to the other flashlights in our home.


Additionally, I received a SunMate which is a product to test and see how intense the UV rays are. It's a great way to check and see if sunscreen is advisable for yourself and the kids when you are outside. As a reminder, even on cloudy days you are exposed to UV light and can get a 'sunburn' without the sun. I already own a SunMate and it's a great way to check and see if you are being sun safe. (See below for a way for you to win a SunMate of your own!)


Some facts about the Pocket Purifier:
- Uses 4 AA batteries (not included)
- Comes in black and pink
- Purely Products is focused on developing eco-friendly products for clean and healthy living for families, while also helping kids.

- Handheld germ eliminating light uses UV (ultraviolet light) to sanitize surfaces (keyboards, cell phones, computer keyboards, kitchen counter tops, sinks, public bathrooms & transportation, toys, pacifiers, bottoms/interior of purses & diaper bags, etc) UV nanotechnology kills 99.9% of germs that cause colds & flu, plus e-coli, salmonella, mold, fungus, and MRSA (staph) without chemicals.
- A percentage of every Purely Products sale supports diaperLove, a non-profit providing diapers to children in need. For more info, go to www.diaperLove.org.
- Purely equipped a medical missions team going to Haiti after the earthquake with Pocket Purifiers to make their job in extreme conditions a bit easier. We have EMT teams using them.





Big Sale for Coolestmommy's Coolest Readers!!!
If you are interested in purchasing anything, there is a sale for my readers from now through August 5. Get 25% off your online order by using this sale link.


Win a SunMate for yourself! (TWO Winners)
Purely Products is providing one SunMate for one of my readers. I already own a SunMate so I am using the one that was sent to review as a second prize.  

 **Mandatory Entry**

Visit Purely Products and check out the Pocket Purifier or the SunMate. Let me know something you learned or a way that you would use either product. Please be sure to leave your email address in the first entry or make sure it's visible on your profile.
PLEASE NOTE: You do not have to be a blogger to enter this contest, but you must leave a way for me to contact you. Use the anonymous comment form to enter and leave an email.
*You MUST do the mandatory entry! All bonus entries will be deleted if it's not done first!*


**Bonus Entries**
{Leave separate comments for each entry}

1. Follow me publicly on Google Friend Connect (current followers, too) {2 entries}
2. Subscribe to my blog {1 entry}
3. Follow me on Twitter {1 entry}
4. Follow Purely Products on Twitter {1 entry}
5. Follow Purely Products on Facebook {1 entry}
6. Add my blog to your blog roll/sidebar {1 entry}
7. Tweet about this giveaway {can be done once per day} {1 entry per tweet} You can use this:

@Coolestmommy @PurelyProducts has a #free #giveaway of a SunMate for you to #win. Two winners Ends 7/30  http://bit.ly/axdjVg


**Rules**
•Giveaway ends Friday, July 30, 2010
•Two Winners will be chosen via Random.Org. and contacted by email
•Winners will have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen
• Open to addresses in the United States & Canada





Disclosure: This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Purely Products for this review. Purely Products is providing one SunMate for giveaway and I am providing the other.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.


Can you tell our family and church family is a little bit proud of our country? This is our Youth Leader Mr. J, my dad and Sean.

God Bless America!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Buy Now, Save Later

Would you like to save some on your grocery bill this fall and winter? Now is the time to buy ahead and save. Want some quick (and fairly easy) ways to save money in the future?

While fruits and vegetables are in season, buy ahead and freeze (or can) for winter. I will be the first to admit that I know absolutely nothing about canning so I obviously don't go that route. If you do know how to can or are willing to learn, you can put up a lot more fresh fruits/veggies to serve in the long winter months. For the rest of us, I try to steam veggies and use a food sealer and freezer bags to save veggies for later. You can flash freeze berries by putting them on a cookie sheet in your freezer until they are frozen. Transfer into sealer bag or freezer plastic bag. This works for berries (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry) as well as grapes.

One tip I have is to cut corn off the cob before sealing. You'll have the fresh on the cob taste in winter, but it's easier to freeze when the kernels are off the ear.

Another great way to save is to purchase winter meats in the summer months. Right now during grill season, stew meats are at their annual low prices. Buy purchasing the meats off season, you can freeze and save a lot of money for winter. I have been known to cook up some stew meat and freeze it precooked, but I also keep a lot of it raw. Then when the weather turns cold and I want soups or stews, I have the meat that was purchased at a bargain price.

Enjoy the bounty of the harvest now, but make sure you save some for later.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The "Real" Love Story

Do you remember Anita Renfroe of the "Momsense" video? The one where she sings a day in the life of a mom to the William Tell Overture?


She's back! This time with a parody on Taylor Swift's song "Love Story". This is for every mom who has ever had a day where you didn't get to shower. Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Do you know what this picture is? It's something we thought we'd never see in our household...


It's a Cinderella Barbie on the couch with a pink Princess phone.
Yup, this testosterone filled home finally got a girl.

And this mom thinks it's kind of fun.


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Get Moving, It's for your Health

This summer I've been working on making small but important steps to improving my health. I've been working on increasing the number of healthy things (read: vegetables) that I eat, being aware of portion size and trying to reduce my portions to get closer to a real portion size and in the past few weeks, I've added movement to the list.

Our chiropractor is adamant about movement and his words make a lot of sense to me. He focuses on being able to live independently until you die. His goal is to help his patients have the option to live alone into their 80's, 90's and 100's. According to Dr. N., there are three keys to independence: 1. Mobility, 2. Gait, 3. Mind. With these keys, you can live an independent life.

He believes strongly in continuing to move throughout life. I agree that it's important to keep your ability to move and walk. I know your mind is important, too--but today I'm focusing on moving. What do you do to keep moving? Sean & I like to take walks around our very long block (our block is the size of 3 normal blocks)...but I prefer a leisurely pace. It might keep you moving, but doesn't do anything to increase your heart rate.

We've recently purchased a Wii Fit system for our Wii. I have to say, I'm surprised at how much we've been using the Wii Fit. If you stick to the aerobic routines, you can really get moving and increase your heart rate as well. With the fun onscreen incentives, it does make getting your 15-30 minutes of movement a lot more fun to do.

I'm also looking into the community center so I can use the gym equipment. I like elliptical trainers and I've discovered I can use the community center for about $1 per day using a prepaid pass.

Do you ever take the stairs instead of the elevator? Nathan & I try to take stairs after our various appointments. We're usually racing to make it on time, but afterwards, we try to walk down the stairs when we leave.

What are some ways that you keep moving? Let me know...I'm determined to move more.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Putting Our Weekend Project to Bed

Sean was hoping we could stain our deck over the long weekend. But with the weatherman forecasting 100+ heat index and then a couple days of 40% chance of rain, it didn't seem like the best time to try staining the deck.

Instead, we started converting Rebekah's room so she can sleep in her big girl bed. The bed has been there all along, but it's been the playground and dumping ground for the room. I'm also working on cleaning out closets and thinning toys. Once the shift to big girl bed is permanent, I'll have Sean rearrange some furniture for me. (Do you like how smoothly I volunteered him?)

Here's Rebekah once I told her she could sleep in her big girl bed. All afternoon & evening she talked about sleeping there...






Then at bedtime, she switches and announces she wants to be in her crib. Gotta admit, that bed is a huge expanse of open space compared to the crib. So in the crib we go.

About 3:30 am, I hear crying. I go check and she has changed her mind. Now she wants the big bed. So I moved her over and this is what I found in the morning:






My baby is growing up.

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