Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Giveaway: Race Trac Free Fill Cup

The summer months bring out the fountain beverage fiend in me! I can hardly make it on a car trip greater than 45 minutes without wanting to stop for a super cold fountain beverage. Typically, I am not picky about where the drink comes from. I just want it cold. Ice cold.

I was getting gas recently and saw that Race Trac was going to sell a reusable cup for $6.99 that came with free refills all summer! (Until September 6th) And Race Trak has crushed ice. Jackpot!

Then... to make the deal even cooler, Mom Select  gave me a $10 giftcard to buy my own cup for review. And they also asked me to giveaway a $10 Race Trak giftcard. Now I can shared my crushed ice love. I shouldn't have all the free refills... though I've probably refilled my cup 20 times in the last 14 days! The refill process is super quick so long as the line isn't long. And even then, I've had the cashiers ring me up on someone else's order just to move me along.

So, if you like Race Trak, ice cold drinks (including Crystal Light), or crushed ice, leave a comment (per the guidelines below). I'll randomly draw a winner on Sunday night.

How to Enter: There are four ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to four entries:

1. Leave a comment telling me what your favorite fountain beverage is.
2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
4. Share this giveaway on Twitter and leave a 4th comment letting me know you did (copy & paste this suggested text: Win a $10 Race Trak Gift Card from @FamilyMusings

That's it. 4 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end Sunday, July 4th at midnight. Read all contest rules here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2010 Family Photos

When my brother announced he was moving his family to TN, the women in our family immediately knew we needed to get some family photos taken. Fortunately, I'd recently reconnected with a friend from high school who is a photographer, Abby Blom, and this is some of what we ended up with. Thanks Abby!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mary's 1st Day of Baby VBS

Mary has been enjoying herself this week at VBS as well, though she wasn't really interested in getting her picture taken. :)

My Father's Day Gift to Bruce

For Father's Day, I sent Bruce on a 3-day motorcycle trip. Yep. That's right. I'm a good wife. :)

And then, while he was gone, I set up an office for him. A private space where he could work on his lesson plans and Bible studies with minimal interruption. Yep. That's right. I'm a great wife. :)

Before my head gets too big though, I will say it isn't anything fancy. We don't have a lot of room to work with here so he gets half of our guest room. But it is his. And he can keep his mess stuff behind a closed door.

So, while I was busy clearing out what had become a major storage space, this is what Bruce was up to.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Charlotte's First Day of VBS*

Yesterday was Charlotte's first day of VBS ever. I mean real VBS. With teachers and stories and crafts and recreation time and music time. It was so exciting for me and for her too. She even memorized her first verse for the week and remembers it this morning - I am wonderfully made. Psalm 139.14

In front of the building, ready to go in!

Settled into her classroom, playing with ponies. The theme this week is Saddle Ridge Ranch.

*VBS is Vacation Bible School. Christian churches plan activities for elementary aged kids to enjoy, typically over the course of 3-5 days. Children are divided by grade/age and learn about Jesus from their teachers through stories, games, and songs.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Review: SMART Love of Learning

I left teaching the year before one of the coolest things to come to my school ever happened. Fortunately, I was able to live vicariously through my husband when he had a SMART Board installed in his classroom. When MomCentral contacted me about the Smart Love of Learning tour, I decided to share it with you (because I know some of you are teachers, will be teachers, or were teachers) because it was a product I knew I could get behind. Or next to. Or in front of. Because really, you can stand anywhere in your room to use a SmartBoard!

But, since I've never actually used one, I asked my wonderful husband to tell you what he liked about it. And before you read this, trust me when I tell you that he gives VERY FEW things a glowing review. :)
Teachers in my school district are strongly encouraged to integrate technology in their teaching. Our annual evaluations even include a section just for our use of technology. So, it was a great blessing when my classroom was one of the first equipped with a SMART Board and projector. The SMART Board quickly became an integral part of my teaching.

The SMART Board has several features that quickly endeared themselves to me. First, every teacher knows the hassle of trying to cram everything onto a chalkboard, then erase it all at the end of class. The SMART Board allows me to write as little or as much as I want, without every running out of room; the SMART Notebook software allows the page projected on the screen to simply scroll and create as much space as needed.

A second feature I love is the ability to quickly save everything that is written on the Board. There is no need to erase a large, messy chalkboard. And I can save the work from each class period as a separate file. So, I never have to worry about remembering where one class left off.

As a science teacher, I am often showing pictures in my classes. If I want to teach students about the differences in cinder cone, composite and shield volcanoes, for example, I can easily project pictures onto a projector screen. But, the SMART Board adds a feature beyond the traditional projector screen. I can write on the SMART Board and highlight the distinguishing characteristics of each volcano.

Students also love to use the SMART Board. When teaching genetics, for example, I can project the tic-tac-toe-like Punnett Square boxes on the Board and have students come up and complete the inheritance problems. And in these types of problems, the different colored markers that come with the Board are especially helpful. Each genetic parent can be shown using a different color, so it is easy to see which traits are being inherited from the mother and which traits are being inherited from the father.

The SMART Notebook software also has built-in features, such as animations and tools, for specific academic subjects. For example, math teachers have access to virtual compasses and protractors. Science teachers have simple diagrams for frog dissections and animations of blood flow through the heart. Plus, there are dozens of websites dedicated to teachers sharing their own animations and SMART Board tools.

I have four desktop computers in my classroom, and I would gladly give those up before I gave up my SMART Board. The SMART Board has so much versatility and has become something I use every day. And now my district has given me a SMART Slate, which is a small wireless tablet that I can write on, from anywhere in the room, and project what I’m writing onto the screen. I’ll be able to use my SMART Board without being tied to the front of the room.
If you'd like to win a SMART Board for your child's classroom, visit the Win tab on the SMART Board Facebook page. You can learn more about how it works by watching this SMART Board YouTube video, or by going to the SMART Board website.

FTC Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of SMART Board. I did not receive any samples to facilitate my [husband's] candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Do Follow Mommy Blogs

Recently, I decided to turn my blog into a Do Follow blog. I thought it would be a nice gesture towards those who faithfully comment. Now, I'd like to extend that favor to the rest of mommy blogdom. So, if you are a mom who blogs and has removed the no-follow tags from your blog, please leave a comment below so I can add you to my master Do Follow Mommy Blog List.

If you want to help spread the do follow love, please consider adding a link to this list on your own blog.

It will look like this -
Do Follow List

Saturday, June 12, 2010

2010 - It's Been Four Years

Nearly four and a half years ago, I experienced the most successful weight loss of my adult life - nearly 60 pounds while a member of Weight Watchers.

Now, I find myself 7 pounds heavier than I was at the beginning of that journey with two little girls who have a lot to learn from me. I want to have more energy for chasing them around the play ground. I want them to learn to love their fruits and veggies. I want my husband to think he has the hottest wife in the room.

I can do or be all of these things. This year, 2010, God has been working on me and my relationship to food. He has put some amazing women back in my path (Kelly and Babs, I'm talking about you!) to show me what is really happening in the love triangle between the plate, my mouth, and my heart.

I know that food is meant to nourish my body, not my soul. That is God's job.

With God leading the way (most days), I am once again following the Weight Watchers program (I've lost 6.6 pounds so far) and have taken up walking and jogging again. My plan is to run the Disney Princess Marathon in February of 2011.

I'll be running as an heir to the throne. A real princess, no matter what I weigh. Will you join me?

Friday, June 11, 2010

2007 - 2009, or How I Gained More Weight

I loved Charlotte. I wanted to set a good example for her. But really, can an infant really understand what the Little Debbie wrappers represent? Nah! I thought to myself, I'll wait until she is a little older than I'll buckle down and get my weight under control.

And I did, sorta. When we moved to Lakeland I re-joined Weight Watchers and also purchased a gym membership. I made a friend to go with me. I even took four personal training sessions. But I just couldn't make it stick. I made marginal progress and eventually convinced Bruce it was time to try for another baby. My minor weight loss success was enough to convince him I meant business.

I did mean business. I really wanted to be healthier. My second pregnancy was going to be more natural and a midwife was involved. I managed to keep my weight gain at a healthy level, though it was on the high side of the scale this time.

Once Mary was born in the fall of 2009, I repeated the same cycle of sleeplessness. There was no nursing this time though, just lots and lots and lots of pumping. And even less sleep than before. Say hello to my old friend Cortisol! I did not buy the Pop Tarts this time. I knew they were like the poisoned apple and I wouldn't be able to stop. But I did find other things to eat.

And my weight ballooned. To be continued...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Move Over 2006, Here Comes 2007's Story

 Pregnancy is an exciting time! You get to feel a new life growing in your tummy. Dreams of the future take over your brain. And you can gain weight with no one caring! Woo hoo!

Okay, not really. At least for that last part. People do care if you gain weight when you are pregnant. Your OB cares. Your husband cares. Your clothing budget cares.

A few weeks after finding out that we were pregnant with Charlotte, my family went on a 7 day cruise to celebrate the 20th anniversary of my parents. I was no longer counting Weight Watcher points and ate whatever I pleased, secure in the knowledge that it was now okay to gain weight, how else would I begin to look pregnant?!

What logic! I knew better in my head, but just could not get my mouth and hand to listen. The first couple of months of my pregnancy, I felt like the Weight Watcher run had been pulled out from underneath me. Due to a lack of research, Weight Watchers does not allow you to remain on the program if you are pregnant. Maybe some day they will find a points balance that works for pregnancy, but until then, they won't touch it with a 10-foot pole.

While it was not an obscene amount, I did gain more weight than I should have in the first three months of pregnancy. Eventually, I leveled off and got my eating under control. In the end, I gained a healthy amount of weight during my pregnancy. It helped that I got a part time job at Curves and worked there until about two weeks before Charlotte was born.

Within a month of giving birth, I was doing pretty good with getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight. The nursing helped. But the weight loss didn't last long. Charlotte did not sleep well. I became addicted to caffeine again. And with the stress of working, parenting, and not sleeping, the cortisol kicked in. If there was a carbohydrate or a gram of fat to be found, my body craved it. Pop Tarts and Little Debbie's were my most evil nemesis!

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Weight Loss Motivation

This is turning into weight loss week... hope you don't mind. Here are some pictures of what I looked like in 2006, shortly before I became pregnant with Charlotte. I am posting them to remind me of my prior success. Weight Watchers has a fancy name for this, Recall, or something. They teach that in order to stay the course, we should remind ourselves of when we've been successful in the past. This will motivate us.

I just have to add that the outfit in the second picture came from Ann Taylor. That really is my style and my whole wardrobe would come from Ann Taylor if a) my budget allowed it and b) my body could wear her clothes.

For more Wordless Wednesdays, visit

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

More Weight Loss Backstory

I don't think I ever really intended to use my blog as a place to seek weight loss motivation, but ultimately, what I need is accountability. And I have some great readers that I know will encourage me and follow up with me as I am trying to lose weight in 2010.

A little more about my weight loss in 2006...

I was very successful on Weight Watchers because of the weekly accountability and encouragement it provided. My leader was AWESOME and REAL and we still keep in touch until this day. Through Weight Watchers, I lost nearly 60 pounds in 11 months. That was about 5.5 pounds per month, which is a very healthy rate of weight loss.

My exercise routine consisted of daily walking Monday - Friday plus several sessions with a personal trainer. My trainer pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself and wouldn't let me get away with saying no to something. I sweat like a pig when we worked out together and wouldn't trade that experience for anything. It was money well spent.

When I walked, I listened to some Curves CDs I had. These were great because they kept me on pace as I tried to match my steps to the tempo of the music.

Eventually, in August of 2006, my friend Angela and I decided to train for the Disney Half-Marathon, the following January. We worked through the C25K program by running each day after school, about 2:30 pm. It was blazing hot, but we were committed. It helped that Angela had run track and cross country in high school and had previous experience coaching these sports as well.

I was in the best shape of my adult life as we approached the 2006 holiday season. Things were looking so good as a matter of fact, that Bruce and I decided we were ready to expand our family. We got pregnant with Charlotte that November.

To be continued...

Monday, June 07, 2010

Losing Weight Circa 2006

I pick losing weight.

December 2005

I have had weight issues since about sixth grade when my family moved to a new town right at the beginning of summer. I did not know anyone in town and spent most of the summer eating to stave off the boredom that came with my loneliness. That began a pattern in my life of turning to food to solve all sorts of emotional issues. I was rewarded for good deeds with food treats, anything from a simple desert to a special meal out at a restaurant. I was told to cheer up and have a cookie; it would make me feel better. (Note: I'm not complaining about my parents. Hi Mom. Hi Dad. I know you did not know better and just wanted to make me happy.)

I gradually gained weight through high school and then even more through college. I just wasn't sure how to make healthy choices and thought that a $0.29 hamburger was a good choice because it saved money! I could eat three hamburgers for just $1.00 and that was the cheapest dinner I could find. Well, besides the free pizza that you can always find on college campus! Eventually, my breakfast became a bagel with cream cheese, my snacks became a Snickers bar and Dr. Pepper, and dinner was a box of macaroni and cheese with tuna mixed in. Talk about healthy! There was not a single serving of fruits or veggies in my diet at this point. It is amazing what age will let one get away with.

Time Marches On

Believe it or not, I managed to get through to the end of my sophomore year of college and landed me a man! And not just any man, but just the man God wanted for me. I was approximately 170 lbs by the time we married a year later. He had big plans for us to live a healthy lifestyle and for me to lose weight. I had dreams of cooking great dinners like my mom had done with the prerequisite meat, starch, starch, veggies, and ice cream for desert. He thought I bought him ice cream because I loved him. Eventually, after a visit to my parent's home our first year, he realized I bought ice cream because it had always been around and that was what we were supposed to put in the freezer.

After being married for a year, I gained about 10 pounds by keeping up with him at every meal. Once I graduated from college the end of our first year of married life I accepted a position that required I travel out of state for an average of 22 days a month.

Life on the Road

Imagine having someone else pay for all of your food for seven years... that was my life. I had an expense account and that meant appetizers, entrees, deserts, and alcoholic drinks at just about every dinner when I was on the road. Had my job not been as physical, I would have gained a lot more than the 30 pounds I did in those seven years.

Finally though, I am ready to start our family and know that change is necessary to be the kind of mother that I want to be. I joined Weight Watchers on January 2, 2006 and am learning to eat for my own health and not to use food as medicine for my emotional ailments.

(Picture at the top is from the week before I wrote this letter. It was taken on a trip to DC in which I was physically miserable from all of the walking. My body just couldn't handle it.)