Monday, January 31, 2011

Making the switch

Well, it's official. I am no longer a Stay at Home Mom. I have made the switch to Work at Home Mom. I've been writing at home for several months, but now we're mixing things up a bit. My husband and I have been dreaming of breaking into the wine business for years. We were on the doorstep 5 years ago when we started having kids, but then... we starting having kids instead. Now that we're finished with pregnancy and newborns (please god and birth control), we're finally taking the leap.

For the past few months we've been working toward buying a retail wine franchise and opening our own store. He put in his notice at work after 16 years with his company and his last day is at the end of February. We were hoping to have the doors opening within 3 months of his last work day, but financing a start-up isn't a bank's first choice these days. We're close... we have half of what we need and everything lined up, but with the grand opening pushed back several months, we're suddenly aware that our savings might not get us there!

More wine, less whine!
photo by slack12 via flickr
So, to get our feet wet in the industry, and most importantly earn an income in the interim, we've joined a Napa Valley company as independent wine consultants. We work the business from home and then run guided wine-tastings for people in their homes. It's like Tupperware or partylite but with wine instead! So much more fun!! Our launch party is this Friday and we have two more tastings lined up this month. We need more! So, now I'm working from home. This isn't the first time. I did it with Kindermusik a few years ago, but learning that material with kids around was easy! They were my target customer!

I typically work during the boy's nap time and if the girls are home from school they get a video (thank you, Netflix!). You would think it was pretty much the same as being a SAHM/writer, but it's different. With writing I just do it. And I don't work it as a business, just something I love to do that hopefully others will love to read. I am a writer. But now I'm also an entrepreneur. A winetrepreneur! Now I've got to network, advertise, and study the business! And get organized. And if everything goes as planned, by the end of summer I'll be making another switch, from WAHM to going to work in my own store! At least when the girls are in school. The hubby gets to go to work when they're home.

Exciting times. Wish me luck!

*** if you're interested in joining a wine club, hosting a tasting party or even becoming a consultant yourself, you can email me privately for more information at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Inspiration for the SAHM

This morning while I was cleaning the kitchen I was simultaneously writing a blog post in my head. It was a satirical take on the Stay at home or Work outside debate that all moms face. How, if you choose to SAH you'd better like cleaning the kitchen 5 to 7 times a day, depending on the number of kids you have, the mountains of laundry, tidying toys in every room 20 times a day, changing diapers, cleaning pee off of toilet seats and cheerios out of every nook and cranny and so on and so forth. Add to the list if you have pets (think cat vomit on dry clean only curtains - yes, my cat is talented). Essentially, the day to day drudgery of being at home all day, every day.

I was thinking to myself that I'd actually like to be a stay at home mom only once all the kids were in school full time.

Then I sat down next to my husband to review the household budget and my eyes fell upon a gift that my sister-in-law gave me for my first-born. She's an incredible artist and turned this box into a treasure chest. Inside the glass is a plaque that reads:

We do not
remember days,
we remember

Suddenly, thankfully, I realized that years from now I'll have forgotten all about how quickly the floor gets messy, the germs breeding in the cracks of the high-chair and how much time was spent washing and drying and folding. What I will remember is a moment of belly-laughing from all three kids, seeing my baby boy hug the cat who tolerates everything, the moment my oldest shared her special blanket with her sister and so on and so forth.

And so you will you.

A Moment Worth Remembering

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Play dates

Today's tip and trick is to have a playdate! This works best with preschoolers and up who can play on their own for a bit.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but play dates can actually be a sanity saver for the hosting mother (or father!). Yes, you add a kid or two to the chaos, but they typically keep each other so entertained that you have plenty of time for yourself. I, for instance, have not heard that drawn-out, painful, whiny, "Mooooooooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm," for over an hour! It's far from quiet, but I'm out of the mix!

Another benefit is that the children are (sometimes) inspired to tidy up for the visitors! And in my house, my daughters are actually dressed, which is great, since normally if they are home they are running around in their underwear regardless of the season..

But you know what I love most about hosting a play date? Knowing that I've given another mom a well-deserved break from her kids. It feels even better when that mom is a friend.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Survey Says: Don't Do It!

I'm always looking for a good, simple and fast way to earn a little extra cash for the household budget. I thought, why not try those paid surveys. Well, now I know why not. 2 pennies per paid email and a dollar for 25 minutes of my time to fill out a survey? Many promise rewards, but only with participation that typically costs you far more than you earn. And they don't pay out until you've earned $30! In the past week I've been duped into spending about $70 and I've only made $7.64, including the $5.00 sign up bonus.

Though my skin does look great thanks to the ultimate facial.

One thing that is abundant with these surveys and offers is the junk that ends up in your email box! I went from having a handful of emails a day to having nearly 100/day. So much so that I just canceled that email account! Much more efficient than trying to unsubscribe.

So, to paid surveys I say,"Don't Do It!!!"

Friday, January 21, 2011

CMT's Working Class - Television premier review

 Next Friday, January 28th, Country Music Television premiers their very first scripted sitcom. I had the opportunity through the One To One network to preview this charming program.

Carli is a working class  (hence, the show's title) woman with 3 kids. She's apparently moved into an upper class area to give her children a better life. With a new job at a deli counter with an upscale grocer, Carli is giving her all to make that happen.

Ed Asner stars alongside Melissa Peterman as her colleague at the counter. His character is a bit of a grump and quick with snarky jokes, but we can see he's a softy underneath.

Through a few quippy lines of her own, we learn that Carli has been married twice. Two of her kids are teens and the third is a 6-year-old boy. Her younger brother lives with them, though he doesn't seem to be employed at all and so he helps out with the kids. Nice to have a free baby-sitter when you're scraping by!

My overall impression of the show is about a 6 out of 10. It's cute, it made me smile and even snicker one or twice, but I was left confused about some details. She complains about not having enough money to pay the bills and buy decent food for her family, but then why is she living in a big home that hasn't skimped on the furnishings? And why is her brother living with her and not working himself? The weirdest part was having a visit from an old buddy (named Buddy) that she hasn't seen in 20 years, who suddenly asks her to marry him after spending just two minutes together.

It has potential, but as one who limits her TV viewing, I probably would only tune in again if there was nothing else on and my DVR was broken.

Watch for yourself next week and let me know what you think!

The writers seemed to try to fit too much into the opening episode and ended up leaving quite a few gaps. Perhaps that's to get the viewer to come back and learn more.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Attached to a pen - an emotional review

I've been practicing my autograph for a long time. I used to sign my pictures or yearbooks for friends in high school and tell them, "You'll want to keep that; I'll be famous someday." I'm not famous (yet), but the pen I use matters to me. Especially when writing poems or greeting cards, which I do by hand. The pen has to have just the right feel and flow. Pentel sent me a few pens, a refillable highlighter and a pencil to review. Guess what?

I have found the best pen ever. I love it. Have you ever become emotionally attached to a pen? This is my first time. The night before we left for Philly I was using this pen, then I turned around and it had disappeared! No one knew where it was; No one had used it. Sure! Then, on Tuesday my oldest pulled out her sketch book and started drawing. With my pen!!! Don't worry, she surrendered it without a fight. I was so happy to have my pen back I used it right away. Then this morning when I gathered the handful of pens that Pentel sent me to review it was missing again! I knew my husband had been using it the night before and I feared for my pen! I was so mad! What did he do with it?! Where was it?! I had heard him mutter, "This pen does't work," and though I knew he must have been talking about a different one, this irrational, emotionally-attached-to-a-pen part of my brain was scared that he might have thrown it away! And I had already taken out the trash! I nearly called him, but I managed to restrain myself, knowing he'd be home for lunch within an hour. It was in his pocket. Whew!!!

The pen in question, pictured above, is Pentel's EnerGel, a liquid gel ink ball pen. It's got a nice medium tip and the flow of the gel pen as I write is so smooth and seamless that I may never use another pen again. The other pens are wonderful too. The highlighter is purple, my favorite color, and has a refill cartridge! I've never seen that before! Very cool. The Slicci is a metallic green color and also a very smooth writing tool. My girls love this one! I'm not usually a fan of fine tips, but I like writing with Pentel's RSVP fine tip. It's nice for those small forms that always seem to need filling out for the bank or school that require precise writing.

I usually pay no attention to the brand name of pens, but after using Pentel I think they've won a loyal customer. I'd like ten more of the EnerGel just in case I lose it (or someone in my house steals it) again!

Remember, National Handwriting day is on the 23rd and you still have a few days left to participate in Heroes Worth Writing For... Make someone's day, boost some morale, feel great about yourself and maybe even win a prize!

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this review. The thoughts and opinions shared here are my honest ones of the Pentel products I recieved for review. The products used for the review are mine to keep and I love them so much I'm not giving them away! This review opportunity was made possible through Business To Blogger.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Tips & Tricks - Keeping fresh herbs fresh

Don't you just hate when you spend good money on gorgeous fresh herbs and then find them wilted and rotten in your refrigerator just a day or two later?!

Here's a tip that will keep your fresh herbs fresh for a week or longer (please note: this is not for the packaged fresh herbs, but for the loose ones like Parsley and Coriander). Essentially, treat them just like fresh flowers!

Step 1: Cut off the tips of the stem and rinse.
Step 2: Fill short vase or cup with water
Step 3: Put herbs (stem down) into water
Step 4: Refrigerate
Step 5: Use as needed
Step 6: Trim tips and change water at least every two days

Here are what mine looked like after a week.

And yes, they still taste fresh too!

*** I'd love to hear how my tips and tricks are working for you! You can leave a comment or send me an email at adgmommy @ att. net (put it together).

If you have a tip or trick that you'd like to share with my readers please contact me at the email listed above and you and/or your blog may be featured!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Messy Monday

The weekend is over, the house is a mess, my fatigued brain is a mess and the kids don't have school today! That's actually a good thing because they are a mess too! They look like bikers in a dinosaur gang. The girls are covered in T-Rex tattoos! Right now, I should be furiously putting dishes away and loading again, but I haven't had my second cuppa yet and my adorable little guy had me up at 5:30am!

This is going to be a full week on the blog with reviews and a great tip tomorrow! By the way, if you have a tip you'd like to share with my readers email me at adgmommy@ att. net and I'll be happy to feature you!

Today I'm going to ramble aimlessly tell you how I've only just realized that I can still use Outlook even though my trial is expired! Silly me. I've also discovered a very nice system called Open Office that works very similarly to Microsoft Office, but it's free! And the awesome thing is that it automatically converts into Word. This is very important to me, as a children's lit course I'm about to finish requires submissions in Word. For months I've been limiting my story writing to when my husband is home and his computer was available.

I often wonder what an amazing, intelligent and productive woman I might be if I was well-rested! My boy is lucky he's so cute now 16-months old and I am still up anywhere from 1 to 4 times a night. This is ridiculous. My girls slept through the night the minute I stopped breastfeeding. The problem with the boy is that I switched him to bottles instead of just stopping night feedings altogether. You see, I know the things I'm doing wrong and I know the steps that need to be taken to correct them, but as usual I'm too tired.

But it is getting better. Since resolving to do so, I've been exercising more, eating less and often drinking less coffee too! The last is more due to the fact that I've given up my at-home mochas and my tall peppermint mocha at Starbucks is just a delicious waste of money when I have perfectly capable caffeine at home.

Off to clean now. The virtual babysitter is being limited to 30-minutes this morning, so it's time for me to get my booty shaking. Clean the kitchen or go dance? The difficult choices of life never end, do they?!

Have a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy Travels

Yesterday, at the awesome blog Avante Garde Parenting, I was featured as the parent of the week! This blog is a must for all parents who want to be good parents. She offers great tips, and my favorite: parenting quick challenges. Go check it out!

My husband and I left the children with my mother for a couple of days and flew off to Philadelphia. What a lovely little city! We had just one night and then the next day (yesterday) spent in meetings, but what a night! I love being in a city where we can walk to anywhere. We had a fantastic dinner at a little tapas place called Amada and then walked into a tiny bar where there was a jazz duo playing. You simply can't find such things where I live! We walked back to the hotel in the snow, which if you watched the news you know was really coming down by then! It was magical.

I feel a touch guilty for one thing: I didn't really miss my kids! Is that abnormal? Both my husband and I relished the peace and quiet, the uninterrupted romantic dinner and the full night of sleep (I didn't get out of bed for 8 hours in a row - though I did wake up at 2am wondering if I should be doing something!). I'm happy to be home and I got some amazing hugs this morning, but boy did I enjoy having two days and one night off!

How do you feel when you're away from your kids?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tuesday Tips & Tricks - Bed wetting and quickie sheet changes

It often happens that on the rare occurrence my little guy is sleeping well, the littlest girl wets the bed. Instead of going through the process of remaking the entire bed with one-eye closed, try this short-cut until the sun is up.

While your little one finishes the job on the toilet and changes underwear and pajama bottoms:

Step 1: Remove the wet bottom sheet and mattress cover.
            (Toss directly into washing machine if washing
             machine is on the same level as the bedrooms)
Step 2: If mattress is damp, lay down towel to absorb
Step 3: Use to top flat sheet as the new bottom sheet.Tuck it under the mattress
Step 4: Tuck your little one back into bed and toss on an extra blanket if necessary.
Step 5: Go back to bed!

Quick and easy!

Cinch: a review - Cynthia Sass helps you trim your...

waist. How did you think I would continue that sentence? Wink, wink.

I failed my nutrition class at university. It was too terribly boring! I love to know what I'm eating and why it is good or bad for me, but I have a short attention span, which has only worsened after having three children. At the same time, my interest in health and nutrition has grown. I want to know the best foods for my kids and the best foods for losing weight and improving and maintaining a healthy body for the next 67 years (yes, I plan to live until I'm 103. I'm serious).

Cynthia Sass has, in her new book, Cinch, has succeeded in making weight-loss and nutrition interesting! Almost fascinating. Most diet plans tell you what to do and how to do it, but they don't tell you why. Cynthia Sass does and, for me, that is what makes this book hard to put down.

Her diet plan is simple: 30 days of the Cinch Core plan, with an optional 5-day Fast Forward start with a total weight-loss potential of 15lbs in those first 30 days. With the fast-forward start you could lose 7lbs in the first 5 days! That's bound to get anyone motivated. But it isn't just about weight-loss. It's about learning to listen to your body's cues, eating food that is healthy and satisfying (really, it can be both!), maximizing your energy and fat-burning and kicking your metabolism into high gear.

The fast-forward start focuses on just 5 super-foods in various meal combinations: Spinach, Raspberries, Almonds, Eggs (organic) and Nonfat yogurt. For beverages you get coffee (limit 1 per day), tea (limit 5 per day) and water with or without natural flavoring. This powerful combo works to re-set your appetite, help you experience what hunger actually feels like, detoxifies your body and encourages a healthy relationship with food.

In Cinch, Sass educates the reader about what makes the fast-forward 5 foods so powerful and good for you.  Though I'm still on the fence as to whether I'll actually do the Cinch core program, I began incorporating those five into my diet right away. The evidence behind the foods in her plan is compelling and made this reader highly motivated to begin eating healthier right from the first page. She offers over a hundred recipes to wake your palate and excite it throughout the plan and has a mandatory chocolate fix every single day!

Whether or not a structured diet/weight-loss program appeals to you, Cinch is well-worth reading. I love knowing the 'why' behind the 'what' and Cynthia Sass provides this without losing my attention for a moment. It's easy to understand, well-written and motivational.

Cinch is in stores now. You can find out more at or the Amazon link here or at the top of this post or you can click here.

disclaimer: I have received no compensation for this review, but received a free review copy of this book via the one2onenetwork.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting there!

To my goals, that is. I have lost 2lbs this week, cleaned my house and caught up on the laundry. And that with two nights of virtually no sleep!

So, how am I getting so motivated?

First, I've been reading a book called Cinch, for which I'll post a review tomorrow, and it's got me all inspired to eat better, get healthier and finally lose that baby weight.

Second, I've been exercising! One of my lovely readers suggested the Wii game, Just Dance 2, and luckily Santa brought it to me for Christmas! I've danced up a sweat nearly every day this week. I LOVE to dance, but it's been difficult for awhile because I keep re-injuring my bad knee. With this game the movements aren't focused so much on the leg movements as the arms, so I'm getting my heart-rate up, breaking a sweat, having a blast and it isn't bothering my knee! Much. I had to take a day off and wear my brace for a couple of days, but it's much better than running or other aerobics.

Third, still cleaning myself skinny. As I mentioned, I cleaned my house yesterday! Dusted, de-cluttered the kitchen, actually cleaned the kids bathroom, changed sheets and vacuumed every room in the house! All with the kids roaming around! My vacuum is a big, heavy thing and let me tell you, it makes you work!

So there. I feel very good about everything! It is true that what you eat and being active also play a huge part in your outlook. Mine is great!

Hope your resolutions are coming along and that you're getting there too!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Heroes Worth Writing For

This year, one of my resolutions is to lead and inspire my children and others by example. I've been thinking about simple ways I can teach my children to see more than their own little world and reach out to others. The universe tends to support our goals, so when I came across Pentel's celebration of National Handwriting Day (January 23rd) with a promotion called "Heroes Worth Writing For" I knew this was my first step.

We all love that 'ding' that indicates a new email, but there is something truly special about getting a handwritten note in the mail. I had grown up next door to my grandmother and had a wonderful relationship with her, but it was only when I moved overseas with my husband that I developed a writing relationship with her that brought us closer than we'd ever been. My tools were pen, paper and a lot of love.

My sister is a police officer in Baltimore. When she went through the Academy I wrote her a poem every week incorporating all of the people and things she was telling us about in her letters. Her whole class enjoyed the letters and they ended up being a part of their yearbook!

When my brother was in boot camp for the Marines I wrote him weekly letters and poems. His whole troop looked forward to my letters. That continued when he was based in Japan, but became even more meaningful when he was sent to Iraq. He was there when the war began. The boost in morale from a handwritten letter for one soldier is shared among all the others.

Pentel is an industry leader in writing instruments. I especially love their gel pens, but more on that another day! It only makes sense that they want to reach out to Americans and remind them of the importance of a handwritten letter. Since I know this firsthand, I want to share it with you!

In partnership with Operation Gratitude, Pentel wants us all to put pen to paper and hand-write a letter of appreciation to our US troops. Write to one person, and though you don't know them, express your gratitude and thanks for all they do.

Five entrants will receive prizes: Grand Prize - $200 Visa Gift Card and $100 in Pentel products. The four runners up will receive a $50 Visa Gift Card and $25 in Pentel products. For those who don't win a material prize, our gift is the satisfaction of knowing that we touched another life in a positive way.

Submit a handwritten letter, expressing your gratitude towards our U.S. Military servicemen and women. All letters must be handwritten; typed responses will NOT be accepted. All letters must be in English. They must be original and written by the participating individual. Responses must be submitted the following way ONLY:

1) Regular Mail: You may submit your response by mailing it to:
    Pentel of America, Ltd. - Marketing Department C/O Heroes Worth Writing For 4000 E. Airport Drive, Suite C Ontario, CA 91761

All mailed responses must be postmarked on or before January 31, 2011. Responses postmarked after this date will NOT be accepted. Please include your name, address, and email address ON A SEPARATE PIECE OF PAPER along with your letter.

Go get writing!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tuesday Tips & Tricks - Positivity

According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of

POSITIVITY is: the quality or state of being positive

Attaining and maintaining this state of being is probably the most important of my New Years resolutions this year. But how does one go about achieving and maintaining a positive attitude? Here is the first tip in a series of tips for positive thinking!
First, as Dr. Susan Campbell writes in her book, Saying What's Real,
don't believe everything you think.
Have you ever stepped back from your thoughts when you're tired or stressed and noticed how negative they tend to get in those situations? And how, just like we sometimes say things we don't mean, we can also think things we don't mean.
In the instance you notice yourself having angry, pessimistic thoughts, flash a big (imaginary) stoplight in front of your (mind's) eye! Step back and consider what you're thinking. If your thoughts contain any of these words: never, always, worst, or any other extreme words, you're probably not thinking accurately, but emotionally and reactively. Re-frame those thoughts into a true statement and include how you're feeling.
Negative thought: He never does anything around here!
True Statement: I am feeling angry because the trash is full again and I'm exhausted from chasing after kids all day.
I always try hard, after noticing a negative thought pattern, to think of a few very positive things about the man I love. This is, in essence, how I keep loving him through the stresses of life. For instance, "He is such a wonderful Papa. Look at the way he always diverts a tantrum!"
Since I began writing this post early this morning and am only finishing it at 10:00 o'clock at night, I could think, "I never get a minute to myself!" But instead I'm thinking, "I chose many more important tasks today. Children and husband included! And, I'm happy that I've finished it before going to bed!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year!!!

I hope you had as wonderful of a holiday season as we did. I feel refreshed, renewed and excited for the new year.

This year I resolve to:

- Finally lose those 15 lbs!
- Get healthy and in-shape!
- Have a positive outlook on life
- Teach my children by example
- Inspire my readers

This week you'll hear more about how I plan to follow-through on those resolutions, starting with getting healthy. My 36th birthday (Dec 30) and New Years inspired me to take a close look at my health and my habits and what I need to do to prepare my body and mind for the next phase of life! According to Dr. Oz, things change after 40, so I'm going to get into shape today for a brighter, healthier and fit future!

Come back for a tip tomorrow and on Wednesday for more on how I am going to get into the best shape of my life this year!