Making New Year's Resolutions (or not)


Ah.....New Year's Eve. Always a bittersweet day to me. I get all emotional and sad as I realize another year is ending, my kids will be getting older again soon as birthdays come up in the New Year, I get teary-eyed at memories of this year that is ending....and you know how it goes....

But I also get kind of energetic and giddy in a way that usually only happens at the beginning of a New Year-- that sort of "this year I will..... (fill in with whatever goals, dreams, etc., that come to mind) for sure!" Heh. But as excited and hopeful as I may feel Jan. 1st about a new start so to speak, it really only takes a short while before those feelings dissipate. So while it does feel good in a way to set goals and plans, I never like to get too specific because life has a way of getting in the way of very specific resolutions I may make.

Perhaps I am pessimistic or even superstitious, but I kind of feel that if I seriously say I will achieve a certain goal by Feb. 1st, life will find a way to make sure that does not happen. Better for me to say in general, I will focus on eating healthier this year and watching my weight by making better choices than for me to set a goal that I will lose 10 pounds by Feb. 1st. See what I mean?

I do envy those that toss any inhibitions aside though, and with pen firmly in hand write down a list of New Year's resolutions that they will passionately attempt to keep. I am even more jealous of those that do keep their resolutions!

But it is a New Year, which does call for fresh optimism and new challenges. And I am excited. I do not have specific resolutions ...yet anyway....but I do have hopes and ambitions for the coming year and general thoughts on what I would like to achieve. I probably won't be writing anything. down, but I will keep them in my heart and head instead.

But mostly, for this new year we will be entering in a few hours, I will hope for my children to be safe, happy and healthy. And I will be sad at another year ending, but will be so thankful that my family is starting a new one together.

May 2010 bring you and your loved ones peace, happiness, and health.

Happy New Year!!

Holidays, Parties, and Menus, Oh My!



So we have made it past Thanksgiving, are coasting towards the eve of Christmas, and what's that-- oh, right, New Years Eve is now on the horizon! LOL, I love love love the holidays, I absolutely do, but between shopping, cooking, wrapping, baking and planning family get- togethers, it can get a bit exhausting. Right now I have one eye on finishing up some miscellaneous Christmas shopping--stocking stuffers mainly, and am planning ahead to next Thursday when we will be ringing in the New Year (2010! How did that happen?)

Thanks to Heinz, Ocean Spray and Ultimate Party Meatballs, I have a delicious appetizer to make for New Year's Eve that is easy and sooooo yummy!! You can even do these in a slow cooker to make it even easier--how cool is that?

The recipe is simple--

Ingredients

  • 1 14-ounce can Ocean Spray® Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 12-ounce bottle Heinz® Chili Sauce
  • 1 2-pound bag frozen, pre-cooked, cocktail-size meatballs

Directions

Combine sauces in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Add meatballs. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until meatballs are heated through, stirring occasionally.

Makes 30 appetizer servings.

**Slow cooker Preparation** Place meatballs in a slow cooker. Combine sauces and pour over meatballs. Cover and cook 4 hours on HIGH.

What I love most about this Holiday Meatball Recipe is that is that I can also make a vegetarian version using veggie meatballs (sold at most markets!) as well. So our family and friends can have a choice of which style they want (or both!), while my own family and I will be chowing down on the veggie version!

And the Ultimate Party Meatball site has more yummy party recipes and entertaining tips for this holiday season....so take a peek if you can!


“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Heinz and Ocean Spray and received the ingredients necessary to facilitate my review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”



Winner of Curious George Soundtrack!


Here are your random numbers:

37
4
6
2
13
11
32
Timestamp: 2009-12-17 20:36:46 UTC
Missybeez said... follow on twitter.

Congrats! Look for a confirmation email asap!!

Thanks to all who entered!

Do You Know Your Wool?

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Ramblers Way. All opinions are 100% mine.


The word Wool has always made not just think itchy, but actually makes me start to feel itchy. And yes, I know that maybe I am not giving wool a chance-- but I am stubborn that way. So obviously I have spent the majority of my shopping days avoiding clothing made from wool. But I may have to rethink my notions about wool after all, and reconsider my heretofore objections to it.

I checked out an online store today, Ramblers Way, and was very impressed by what I learned about wool from this family-owned business.

Ramblers Way Farm is a family business creating soft, comfortable next-to-skin worsted wool apparel entirely on American soil. They partner with Rambouillet sheep farmers only in America, and create worsted wool from natural, renewable fibers that are durable and non-toxic. They have set out to help people (like me) to re-imagine wool as a next-to-skin, superfine fabric, to warm and comfort people of all ages and walks of life. Reading through their site, I learned that wool is a complex fiber which provides superior insulation, water repellency, water absorption and odor control. And I was impressed to learn that Wool naturally resists wrinkling and soiling. And very important- wool is flame resistant.

The natural, non-synthetic wool clothing line from Ramblers Way is wearable all year long as they warm and to cool equally (I always thought hot too when I used to think of wool!) Their wool is enzyme-treated for shrinkage and is fully washable, and their clothing is chemical free.

I have to admit that I am re-thinking my ideas of wool, and am very interested to check out what it feels like, which I will be able to do since Ramblers Way offers to send out a free sample to anyone who would like one! But What I really like about this company is their commitment to safeguarding, improving and respecting our environment. This statement from their website says it all:

"We believe that our relationship with nature encompasses all we do, and keeps us grounded and humble.
"

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Munchkin Math DVDs-- Our Review and a Twitter Giveaway!






Having two munchkin boys--one three and one five, I am always looking for ways to help them both engage in learning and having fun while doing so! When I was asked to review a Munchkin Math DVD, I was more than happy to do so.

We received the "Counting Money" DVD, which is one out of three titles. There is also a "Telling Time" DVD, and a "Shapes" DVD. If I had my choice, I must say I would have probably picked the Telling Time dvd as I think it would have been a bit more relevant to my five year old, and perhaps caught his interest a bit more.

When we watched our DVD together, it started out pretty cute with catchy songs and movements to help kids learn and remember the values of different coins. My two munchkin boys both were singing along and doing the gestures that went with the songs (Nothing enhances learning like music and rhythms!). As the video continued on, I noticed my five year old getting restless and not singing or paying as close attention. I have figured out since that my kiddos do better watching this video in smaller segments, and focusing on a few learning facts at a time. I will say they cover a lot of money counting on the DVD,from coins through dollars and it can get overwhelming if watching it all in one sitting.

But on the positive side, I do notice my five year old really picking up on the values of dimes and nickels now--and the more we watch the DVD, the more he is interested and curious about how much a coin is really worth when he comes across one, and what he can buy with his money! I have every confidence that this DVD is really going to help him (and my three year old down the line a bit,) with math in school!

The three DVDs in the Munchkin Math series are each conveniently available at Munchkin Math.com, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, BJ's Wholesale Clubs, and Amazon.com. for about $19.99 each. You can also twitter to win one via Mom Central:

Today and tomorrow, anyone who posts on twitter using the hashtag #MunchkinMath will be entered to win one of three Munchkin Math DVD sets, which includes all three Munchkin Math titles. As an example, you could tweet:

Help your little one with math using Munchkin Math DVDs. RT to enter to win 1 of 3 prize packs! #MunchkinMath

A little more information about Munchkin Math:

"Created by a teacher and Mom of 3 young boys who understands the importance of everyday learning, Munchkin Math enhances mathematical skills by reinforcing important concepts like counting money and telling time. A product of Standout Math, a math and vocabulary curriculum taught in over 30 states in Elementary schools, Munchkin Math helps children across the country get a head start in school. Targeted at preschool and early-elementary school children, the curriculum uses a unique multi-sensory approach, combining oral, visual, and kinesthetic activities that help kids understand and remember what they learn."

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Munchkin Math and received a sample DVD to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Winner of $25 Gift Certificate to EcoStore USA


Congrats to the winner of the $25 Gift Certificate to EcoStore USA (have fun shopping!)--

"Eco-Friendly and Frugal said... Twitter #3." Please look for a confirmation email coming asap!

Here are your random numbers:
43
61
11
116
37

Timestamp: 2009-12-15 18:38:57 UTC

Thanks to all who entered!

Winner of The Mama Doni Band "Chanukah Fever" CD


Congratulations to the winner of The Mama Doni Band "Chanukah Fever" CD--

" Aileen said... Joined The Mama Doni Band Group on FB. Entry 2"

Here are your random numbers:

10
4
22
13
27
Timestamp: 2009-12-15 18:20:00 UTC


Please look for a confirmation email coming shortly!

Thanks to all who entered!!


Winner of Glade Candle Giveaway!


Here are your random numbers:

7
97
91
127
121
Timestamp: 2009-12-14 22:48:17 UTC

Congratulations to the winner of the Glade Candle Giveaway: Gabby Lowe!

I will be sending out a confirmation email shortly--please remember to respond within 36 hours!!


Thanks to all who entered!

Family Fun With K'Nex Building Sets!







What is it about boys, imaginations and building that just goes together so well? Because honestly, when they are 'creating' masterpieces that is just about the only time I get some peace and quiet! So when we were asked to review K'NEX Building Sets, I knew this was a definite "YES!" Please!!



My five year old received the 400 PCS Tub from K'NEX, that that comes with building ideas for 20 different models and a convenient storage tub. And as I have mentioned before, I am all about toys that come with containers that are easy for clean-up! And my three year old received the too-cute Sesame Street Neighborhood Collection Building Sets. These sets let children build and then play with their favorite Sesame Street friends, including Elmo, Cookie Monster and Ernie. When he pulled Elmo out of that box, he was grinning from ear to ear.

Photobucket


It took maybe less than 3 seconds for those toys to be opened, and squeals to quiet down, before some serious concentration took over. I love love when my munchkin boys get all serious...wrinkled brows and all, and focus on creating some wonderful 'never before invented', creation! Of course, it did not take long either for the biggest boy of all, the hubbs, to join in. I tell you....boys and building just go together!

My five year old really enjoyed getting some help from his Dad, as he was having a bit of difficulty with his K'NEX. But it made for a great bonding time and the two had so much fun, that it worked out well. The Sesame Street Collection, on the other hand, was perfect for my little guy to handle on his own. The pieces are big and easily connect to each other. He especially loved having his favorite characters from Sesame Street to play with as well. The size and colors are perfect for small hands and imaginations.

Much fun has been had with these sets, imaginations have been used (yea!!), and every time one or both of the boys want to play with their K'NEX, it is so easy to grab the tub, open, spill out the pieces, create, and toss the pieces back in the tub when done! One note-- the Sesame Street Collection does not come in a tub container, but I just use a plastic container we had already here so my little guy can play and clean up easily too! Also, the K'NEX building pieces in the tub are small, and if you have little ones smaller than 3, or that just like to put things in their mouths, I would be careful to keep that set away from them.
Bottom line here: We all loved the K'NEX sets we received, and definitely give both sets a unanimous two thumbs up!!

Thanks to Team Mom and K'NEX for supplying these items for review. No compensation other than the toy sets reviewed was received. The opinions expressed here are solely my own (and my munchkin boys!), and may not be the same as others opinions.


Giggles The Greenbean Turns Stinkytown Into Greentown

This book is as cute as the cover--which I happen to think is very very cute! Giggles The Green Bean Turns Stinky Town into Greentown is a fun story about Giggles the Green Bean, of course, and how he learns to take care of the environment. There are 5 special secrets Giggles learns in order to turn Stinkytown back into Greentown.

I loved read about Giggles with my munchkin boys! Not only was the story a very important one in that it helped them understand about taking care of their environment, the illustrations are amazing! And with my kids, and I am sure with others, beautifully drawn colorful pictures always help them stay interested in a story.

About the author:
Lauren Davis became keenly aware that children needed to learn how to make a difference in keeping the environment clean. Inspired by her brother's environmental activism, she penned her first children s book, Giggles the Green Bean. Lauren has long been involved with children including working as a camp counselor and pre-school teacher. A former leadership development executive, Lauren currently lives in Portland with her family and dog, Lily.

And the Giggles The Greenbean website offers more fun and free stuff for kids. There are downloadable word searches, coloring pages, mazes and games. The colors on the site are as colorful and engaging as the ones in the book.

You can check out this children's book at Amazon--it would make a very fun and educational addition to any munchkin's book collection!!

A copy of this book was provided to me for review by Parent Reviewers and Giggles The Green Bean.com. No compensation was involved, and all views expressed here are my own and may or may not be agreed with by others.

Christmas Toy Shopping


I think toy shopping for my kids at Christmastime is one of my favorite parts of the holidays! And yet, one of the most frustrating parts of Christmastime for me is ...... yep, toy shopping for my kids! Crazy, uh?

I love to get the toys they most want, but the problem is that their lists change practically everyday. And don't we all know how stressful it is trying to find that one toy each year that has become "The Hottest Toy" every kid wants? Not to mention how annoying it is buy a toy, just to find out it really wasn't safe or doesn't even last for more than a day or two.

Thankfully, The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has launched two very helpful sites for confused frustrated moms, like me, to help parents and others pick the right toys for their children this holiday season.

There is ToyInfo.org, which provides toy safety facts, free downloadable play guides, important recall information, and even discussion boards for us stressed toy shoppers to help each other out! I especially liked the resources offered on the site for things like how to find the toys you want, how to find good deals, and more! It's like a one-stop site to get all the information you need to choose the right toys for your kids. And soon the site will be showcasing a sort of "The View" content, with a roundtable discussion by moms and a grandmother who are Toy Industry Safety Professionals. Sounds very cool and something I look forward to watching!

ToyAwards.org showcases the 81 top toys nominated for the 2010Toy of The Year Awards (TOTY)--which is like the "Oscars" of the toy industry! Experts share what they think are the best toys for giving......which is exactly the kind of help I could use! As a matter of fact, there are two toys listed as finalists for "Best Boy Toy Of The Year" which were on my five year old's list: a Nerf Toy and the EyeClops Night Vision toy. Made me feel better right away! There is also a free downloadable shopping list for gifts that parents can take with them when they go shopping! And visitors to the site can register to win their choice of one or more of 11 prize packages.

Check these sites out, believe me--I did, and they really helped --before you go toy shopping for your kiddos this Christmas!

Information on these toy information sites was provided to me by Team Mom. All opinions expressed are my own and based on my visiting the sites mentioned. Opinions may vary from other consumers experiences.

"Curious George A Very Monkey Christmas"-- Review and Giveaway!

My munchkin boys love, absolutely love, "Curious George!" First thing in the morning, both boys watch "George" as they wake up and start getting ready for their day. My littlest guy is lucky enough to watch a second Curious George later in the morning after we drop his sister and brother off at school.

So when we were asked to review the soundtrack to “A VERY MONKEY CHRISTMAS” the first ever holiday-themed movie to feature Curious George, I was delighted!

A VERY MONKEY CHRISTMAS is the charming new movie from PBS Kids, and will air on PBS Kids throughout the holiday season. Additional airings are scheduled for November 29, December 6, 18, 19, 20 and Christmas Day, December 25 (check local listings for exact air dates and times).

The soundtrack to “A VERY MONKEY CHRISTMAS” features the television show’s theme song (which I am constantly humming around here!) performed by SLG/429 Records’ Grammy winning recording artist Dr. John. There are wonderful holiday songs on the CD that have been composed and scored by Nick Nolan. The soundtrack is available worldwide and extensively in the U.S. lead by national retailers such as Target, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Amazon and iTunes.

We played the CD as soon as it arrived. The timing was perfect as my munchkin boys and I were about to leave and go pick up their sister from school. So we popped it in the CD player and took off. The Curious George theme song was first, and whenever the boys hear that song, they instantly smile and do their best "sing along." After that there we were treated to a collection of Christmas songs that were great. I have to say that "Jingle Bells" was an absolute favorite with everyone in the car (including my daughter and her friend, and myself) singing along VERY LOUDLY!! Second favorite had to be the cute song, "Christmas With a Monkey".

This is definitely going to a favorite Christmas CD in our house (thanks to Family Review Network), with both my boys and their mom!

WIN A COPY HERE!!

One lucky reader can win a copy of this very fun Christmas CD!

To Enter:

Visit the Denon Website and listen to the song selections from the CD, and leave me a comment telling me which is your favorite. (Note: this is a mandatory entry requirement.)

Extra Entries:

1. Tweet this contest and leave me the URL. Three Extra Entries. Tweet daily for extra entries!

2. Follow me on Twitter. Three extra entries

3. Become a Fan of Happy Healthy Families on Facebook (widget on left sidebar) Three entries.

4. Favor Happy Healthy Families on Technorati. Two entries.

5. Blog about this giveaway, linking to this blog and the sponsor, and leave me a comment with URL. Five Extra Entries.

6. Follow my blog, or Subscribe.

The Nuts and Bolts:

Open to U.S. Addresses only, sorry.
Must have valid email address in comments or in blogger profile.
Contest will end December 14th at 11:59 EST
Winner will be notified by email and will have 36 hrs. to confirm or new winner will be drawn.
Winner will be drawn by random.org

"This post was written for Family Review Network as part of a program for Denon Records, who supplied the CD for review."

New Years Resolution--Back To School??


This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of USC. All opinions are 100% mine.

As I was driving around today doing Christmas errands, I heard on my car radio the dreaded words, "New Years Resolutions." I am soooo not ready to tackle anything new...I am still working on the 'old!' But there is no escaping that another new year is literally weeks away (!), and like it or not, I guess I will be thinking about new goals I would like to achieve in 2010. (oh that sounds weird!!)

In years past I have considered going back to school as a resolution. I do have my Bachelor's Degree, but I have often thought of going for my Masters in Education. Probably not going to make my list this year, but for anyone considering going back to school, online is a fantastic option to consider. And The USC Rossier School of Education’s MAT@USC offers current educators and aspiring teachers the prestige of earning a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from an elite research university with the convenience and flexibility of studying online. What really intrigued me when I checked out their program information (besides the fact they are ranked #22 in the United States, and #9 among all private universities by US News and World Report!) is their groundbreaking tuition reimbursement program, and an accelerated program you can complete in as little as 12 months. And because I have kiddo duty pretty much round the clock, the combination of interactive online learning with field-based experiences in my local area really does make rethink this one-time resolution of mine.

Hmmm. Me....a USC Trojan.....now that would be interesting in our house. (Guess what the hubbs is not ??)


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