Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Airwear Lenses Review

Hold on to your seats!  I have shocking news.  I. Wear. Glasses.


I know.  I don't wear them in my photos because I generally wear contacts, but a girl has to rest her eyes sometimes.  Sometimes contacts just aren't all that fun to have in.  So, I pull out my clunky old glasses and place that heavy prescription across my face.  Ugh.  Ok, so glasses aren't all they're cracked up to be either.

But, then, I was on Twitter one day and saw Airwear Lenses offering review opportunities.  Hmmm...this could be interesting.  I've been wearing them since the fifth grade. I'd say I'm pretty much an expert by now, right? 

Let's start from step one.  I receive my form to fill out prescription information and call up my doctor.  As we chat about how my blogging is going, I tell him about the review and explain the need for some info.  "Airwear?" he asks. "From Essilor?"

"Why, yes!" I exclaim, intrigued at his sudden interest.  He goes on to tell me that he is very happy in dealing with them.  They have a great product and an even better work ethic. 

Score one for Airwear.

I send out my info and my glasses arrive quickly.  With a strong prescription, the lighter the lenses, the better.  And these really earn their name.  Airwear Lenses are a polycarbonite plastic.

A what?

Polycarbonite.  In regular people terms it means lighter, stronger, better.  It's great for its scratch resistance, durability, impact resistance and it's lightweight, too.  So, when I drop them, sit on them, or neglect to place them delicately on the counter, they are less likely to crack, break or scratch.  Another fantastic feature...ultraviolet protection.  We all need that.  Because if you wear glasses, sun protection can be a hassle.

Score another for Airwear.

Ok, now for my favorite part.  I've been doing my best to be as green as possible.  I recycle.  I turn off all the lights and put bricks in my toilet tank.  I know, I'm on my way to a Nobel Prize.  Maybe not, but I'm trying to do what I can and help others to do the same.  It's a process. 

But I digress...

Airwear Lenses are totally eco-friendly!  Check out this list of green-ities:
  • 100% of the waste from the manufacturing process of Airwear is recycled
  • They are manufactured using 100% recycled water, conserving millions of gallons per year
  • All lenses are packaged in 100% recyclable cardboard
  • Their choice in packaging eliminates more than 460,000 lbs of plastic waste per year
Another score for Airwear. 

Honestly, with all of these benefits, how can you not want to race to your optometrist and get a pair of Airwear Lenses?  They are all the wonderful you need to finally make you LOVE to wear your glasses.

**I was not paid for this review, I did however receive a free pair of lenses to try. My opinion of this product is not being compensated for. I found out about this trial from the wonderful Beth Aldrich, @realmomsluv2eat.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

At Christmas time, I love to make cookies.  Ok, I'm lying...I will gladly make cookies any time.  They are one of my favorite snacks to make.  A few days before Christmas, the kids and I make five or six types of cookies and pack them in tins for family and friends.  The cookie I probably love to make the most are Peanut Butter Kiss cookies. 

1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 stick butter softened (4 oz)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag Hershey's Kisses

Preheat oven to 350°F

In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, brown sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla until well blended.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt and beat in gradually until dough is smooth, scraping sides of the bowl with a spatula frequently.

Instead of using a teaspoon to drop it on the cookie sheet, I like to roll it into one inch, or slightly larger, balls.  I line them up on a cookie sheet three by six.  Then I flatten them, only slightly.  Just enough so they are still pretty thick in height. 

Bake for 8 minutes.  While they're baking, remove the foil wrappers from the kisses.  Remove the tray of cookies, leaving the oven on.  Place a kiss on top of each cookie pressing in just enough to set into the dough.  Return the tray to the oven and bake 2 to 4 minutes more.  They're done when they are golden brown.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Circle Time Activities

I spent 3 years working at a daycare and it was the best job I have ever had.  Because of that job, I learned a lot about preparing my kids for school.  One of the greatest activities I took with me was Circle Time.

It can be tough keeping the little nuggets occupied during the day.  My daughter is 3, and a little spitfire to boot.  She needs attention.  She CRAVES it.  When I started sitting down with her to have "lessons", she was in her glory.  I knew she needed a steady routine to keep her going, so every morning after she's had breakfast and some playtime, we sit down together. 

Her favorite circle time activity is using her calendar.  We sing a song and then talk about the day, month, year, season and the weather.  It's a simple way for her to learn by putting up the velcro tags herself.

Our song is to the tune of Oh My Darlin' Clementine:

There are 7 days, there are 7 days,
There are 7 days in a week
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Then we work on reviewing a packet that I add to every day.  We have pages with shapes of different colors.  Once she knows them all, I add another.  After a few days, I add another.  The gradual progression allows her to remember what she already knows and build on it.  At three years old, she can identify a parallelogram.  (Don't worry...we are far off from geometry lessons.)

We have one page with numbers up to twenty.  Every day, she points at each number and tells me what it is.  And because she loves Dora, she knows one through ten in Spanish. 

The next pages are letters.  We started with a page that has the whole alphabet and learned how to identify.  Once I thought she knew them well, I would point to them in different order.  Mixing it up assures they know the letter rather than remembering them in their order. 

Just like with the shapes, I added something new each day.  We started with the letter A.  I write the letter at the top of the page in capital and lowercase form.  Then we talk about the sounds it makes while we list different words that start with "A".  Once she understands, we even list a few words that have the letter in them, but do not start with it.  The next day, we reviewed "A" and added "B" in the same manner.  Each day we review the previous letters and add the next one.

While my daughter loves this routine, you might find you need to tweak things to your child's needs.  Try reading books that teach the basics.  Some of my favorites are Bear In A Square and Elmo's Big Lift and Look Book.  Reading these books together can be a great start for circle time activities.

As your child gets older, you can also purchase activity books to help them learn how to write.

Most importantly, remember to praise your child for every success.  The more excited you are, the more excited they will be.

*For more information about how important it is to prepare your kids for school, check out Nickelodeon's program "Beyond the Backpack".


Monday, November 22, 2010

Do You Know How to Read to Your Children?

Do you read to your kids every day? 

Are you aware of all the benefits? 

  • The bonding and closeness of cuddling up on the sofa creates a strong relationship. 
  • It helps develop their vocabulary, comprehension and listening skills.
  • They are more likely to read more on their own as they grow up.
  • Once in school, they will be more prepared to learn.
  • Encourages curiosity and creativity.
So, is reading a book before bedtime every night a good idea?  Of course, but the real question to ask here is do you know HOW to read to your kids? 

Yes, I know you can read.  If you couldn't you wouldn't be here on my blog.  Duh. 

I'm talking about active reading with your child.  When you read a book, you might be telling a story, but the best way for your child to learn is for you to really display what the story is about.  I'll give you a few examples so you get the idea.

Let's start with an alphabet book.  At a young age, these are usually books that simply show each letter and a picture that begins with it.  An A would have an apple next to it, and so forth.  The way to turn this into an actual learning experience is to spend a moment on each page talking about what you see.  Help your child trace the letter with his finger.  Point to the letter where it's found in the word.  What other words start with "A"?  Talk about the color of the apple.  Where can you find apples?  At the store?  In a tree?  This is also a great technique for making the book have a different story every time you read it.

How about a book with a moral?  The Berenstein Bears and the Little Critter books are some of our favorites that usually tell a tale that ends in some sort of lesson.  As you read, take the time to find out if your child understands what is happening.  Ask if a character is mad, sad or happy and why.  Point to different parts of the pictures to discuss what is going on.  Ask if your child knows what will happen next or what the character should have done.  This is great for instilling good morals and decision making.

Another category of books to read, my personal favorite, are Dr. Seuss books.  Any silly, funny, nonsense type story that may not appear to have a lesson can still help your child learn.  Name colors in the pictures.  Ask your child if she thinks that could really happen.  Have them repeat a word or phrase that seems silly for a good laugh and a great lesson in pronunciation.  (Fox in Socks is superb for this one!) 

Learning doesn't start at school, it starts in your home.  When you build a strong foundation before sending them off to school, they are much more likely to succeed. If you feel like life is too busy to sit down and read, make sure to at least do it at bedtime.   A bedtime routine helps your child settle down and fall asleep easier each night.  They will even be less likely to put up a fight when it's time to get their pajamas on because they know it means some quality time with mom or dad.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

When Halloween and Thanksgiving come around, my family always looks forward to all the pumpkin goodies.  Pumpkin lattes, cookies, ice cream and pie are the most obvious favorites.  While we drool over most of these at the store, I have one recipe I love to use that can double as a great party pleaser. 

You will need:
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned pumpkin (about 16 ounces)
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 & 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger

Preheat the oven to 375.

Beat the eggs in a medium sized bowl.  Stir in the oil, sugar, pumpkin and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cloves and ginger together.  Then add to the pumpkin mixture gradually until well blended.  It should be thick and well mixed like cake batter.

Oooo....lookin' good

Make sure you have greased two loaf pans thoroughly.

See? WELL greased

Pour the mixture into the pans as evenly as you can.  You don't need to measure exactly.  Do the ol' Rachael Ray with it....you know..."eyeball it".  Go ahead.  I trust you.

Then bake them together, side by side is fine, in the oven for about 45 to 50 minutes.  The original recipe said to bake at 1 hour, but my oven is an overachiever and was done in 45.  I'm not sure how old the recipe is, I got it from Mom. (Thanks, Mom!)  However, ovens today run a bit hotter, it seems, so it's best to know your oven and check on the bread at about 45 minutes.

I'm not much of a cook, but I love to bake.  If you don't know the tricks to being able to tell when something is done, a toothpick inserted in the middle is a great tester.  If it comes out clean, you're good to go.  Another telltale sign is if you can see the sides of the bread pulling away from the pan.  You can get them out before those edges start getting dark.

When all is said and done, you should have two gorgeous little loafs of holiday goodness that look like this:


Saturday, November 6, 2010


As a parent, what is the one thing you can't get enough of?


I have never been very good at sleeping.  Some people can hit the pillow and be out cold for a solid 8 hours feeling rested and ready to go in the morning.  Others are like me.  I toss.  I turn.  I generally have strange dreams that wake me up, or even make me feel like I've been awake.

One of the worst problems I was having was I couldn't quite get comfortable.  Whether on my stomach, back or side, some sort of pain ailed me.  If I was lying on my stomach, a spring would poke me in the ribs.  If I remained on my side, my shoulders, hips and knees would hurt from the pressure.  And let's not forget about the mid-bed abyss.  You know...when you lay down on one side of the bed and somehow roll into the sagging center springs.  When I was pregnant with my daughter over 3 years ago, all of this made trying to sleep completely futile. 

My husband and I set out to the stores to find some relief.  I immediately gravitated to the memory foam choices.  They were a rising addition to the market and I had heard nothing but praise about them.  However, even though sitting on them seemed like a seat on a cloud, the price stabbed me like springs that pierced my sides every night. 

Finally we decided on the Sealy Posturpedic True Form mattress.  All the comfort of the most popular brand at a fraction of the price.  It has been 3.5 years sleeping on this bed and I fall in love with it every time I climb in.  When you first lie down, the lack of springs is an obvious benefit.  You don't actually sink in to a soft, fluffy mattress, though.  It's firm enough to maintain it's shape and provide give where your body needs it.  And in the morning, my body was surprisingly pain-free.  Any position you choose is a comfortable one.  The bed will mold to you.   

If you have difficulty sleeping, this mattress could be a great solution for you.  It has made a tremendous difference in my life while sleeping or awake.  Getting a better night's sleep has helped me to be more awake and attentive during the day.  Without the joint pain, I am much happier and able to concentrate on helping my kids start their day out right.

You might even feel good enough to skip that morning coffee.