National Reading Month: An Interview With Kristi Yamaguchi

Some of my warmest childhood memories are of me sitting on the lap of my parents and grandparents being read to. Reading is a big part of our family life–and if you have been in our house you know that we are overrun by books!

However, according to reports from the U.S. Department of Education, only about half of all children aged 3-5 are being read to on a daily basis. (And, honestly, during a busy week my kids likely fall through those cracks as well.)

Last week I was contacted with the opportunity to hold a phone interview with Olympic Figure Skater, children’s’ book author and literacy advocate, Kristi Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi is teaming up with LeapFrog and her Always Dream Foundation to promote reading for National Reading month in March.

Kristi and I are the same age, and grew up within 100 miles of each other (though we never crossed paths that I know of!). I remember watching her compete in the Olympics from my college dorm room. To say that I was excited to get the chance to speak with her, is an understatement. Please excuse the fact that I picked up a respiratory bug from my little ones and sound less than healthy!

Click here for more information on the 20/20 reading challenge and start a great new habit today!

*** PLEASE NOTE: This interview opportunity is sponsored by LeapFrog***

Quiet

I’ve been quiet lately. No worries. I’ll be back. And still always chatting it up on the FB page :)

Read With Me Wednesday: Moms’ Night Out

 

Read-With-Us-Wednesday-1

Well, real life caught up with me last week and I missed our first discussion. I hope you popped over to Essie’s Blessings to chat with her last week! (and pop over there today as well to share your thoughts.)

This month we are reading through Moms’ Night Out and this week we are discussing chapters 4-8. Why such short readings? Well, we wanted a “book club” that all of our mom friends could participate in. Sometimes a book a week or a book a month seems impossible for a busy mom. But eh, a few chapters. . . less than one a day? That is doable. So join us. There is no pressure. We won’t test you on the material! But, we would LOVE for you to join the conversation and let us know what you think.

Today I’m going to talk about the enormous pressure that we moms put on ourselves. Thanks to social media, we tend to see everyone’s highlight reels. This becomes even more bothersome when you feel like your life is one long blooper reel.

Consider Allyson’s thoughts after she had a meltdown after the frustrating non-dinner on her moms’ night out:

Was that a moment? Did she just have a “moment” in front of everyone in the restaurant? She’d come to fix that problem. To fix herself, and what had happened? Instead, she’d just made a big mess. Now there would be no dinner. Now there would be no conversation. Now there would be no unplugging. Allyson’s breaths came short, fast. And this . . . this was worse than mascara on her eye. It was worse than her meltdown in front of the newlyweds. She’d lost control in front of her friends. She was getting worse, not better. How could she return home worse than she started? Sean would be so disappointed, and then who knew what tomorrow would bring? Yet another failure to heap upon all the other ones.

Poor Allyson. She felt so frustrated and guilty over the failed dinner that she was unable to laugh it off, or casually come up with a “plan b”. She put all kinds of pressure on herself to come up with the “perfect” moms’ night out. When there is a kink in the plan, we as moms need to be able to seamlessly switch gears. There is a sort of fearlessness that needs to come with motherhood.

Last year we had the perfect birthday party planned for the twins. We put a deposit down on a party at the gymnastics studio. I had cute cupcakes ordered. I bought a car full of balloons. When we arrived at the gym to set up. . .the building was locked. Our reservation was never fully noted. I had to think fast. So, a few phone calls later to parents, and we moved the party  a few miles north to our church. It was not what I envisioned. It was not what I had planned. Inside I was seething with frustration. But I HAD to be nimble. My little girls were only going to turn four once, and I had a dozen preschoolers to entertain.

It ended up being a great birthday. The girls had fun, their guests had fun, and we actually saved quite a bit of money!

I could have had a meltdown right there in that icy parking lot. (I totally wanted to!) But that was not going to solve anything. I could have given in to embarrassment–because yes, it was totally embarrassing to have to call all of those parents to give them a last minute change of plan. I took a deep breath and did what I needed to do for the happiness of my daughters.

So, what about you? What has hit home for you as you have been reading this book? Have you had a meltdown like Allyson’s? What situations have you had to come up with a “plan b” on the fly? Share in the comments and join the conversation!

Menu Plan Monday Plus Cheater Lasagna Recipe

New Year, back on the meal planning wagon! Last week I participated in a Clean Eating group hosted by my favorite Team Beachbody coach, Jenny, (follow her page and get in on her next one, it is free and I got some delicious, real food tips for feeding my whole family!) This week, I am back to my faithful BFF, eMeals. I have recently switched meal plans (which is super easy and can be done once a month) from the Clean Eating plan to the Budget Friendly Family Plan.


Easy Budget Meals Your Family Will Love

I really liked the Clean Eating plan, but it was expensive, and not as family friendly as I would desire. I was leery of trying the Budget Friendly plan, as I feared that it would be a lot of mixes and convenience foods. But, I was pleasantly surprised! In the words of the eMeals website: “We maximize your savings without cutting corners on flavor or nutrition. No leftovers here! Our plan serves up a family-friendly mix of weeknight favorites, pantry meals, hearty soups and stews, and meatless dinners.”. I was able to pick up everything for seven dinners and sides, plus some breakfast lunch and snack staples for our family of 7 for $160.  And, since meals are planned. . .we won’t need takeout!

The food this week is super real too! And, I learned from Coach Jenny that weekend prep is the key to success! So, I boiled my chicken thighs for the “Cheater Chicken and Dumplings” along with chicken breasts for some chicken salad for my lunches and for the “Bow Tie Tomato Cream Sauce with Chicken”. I also cooked up the from scratch Spanish Rice for the “Baked Beef and Rice Tacos” which also takes advantage of leftovers from the “Slow Cooked Roast Beef”. I feel like we are set up for a week of success!

So, here is what is on the menu!

  • Sunday (yesterday): Creamy  Ham Peas and Ranch Pasta (super tasty!)
  • Monday: Cheater Chicken and Dumplings
  • Tuesday: Slow Cooked Roast Beef, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans
  • Wednesday: Bow-Tie Tomato Cream Sauce with Chicken, steamed broccoli
  • Thursday: Skillet Balsamic Chicken, homemade rice pilaf and peas and corn.
  • Friday: Baked Beef and Rice Tacos. with sauteed Zucchini, corn and black beans.
  • Saturday: Winter Red beans and Sausage soup and corn bread.

I love that i can leave instructions with the teen, or with my husband and they can have dinner on the table in no time if I have to work late.

So far, so good. I’ll keep you all posted! I am always glad to have healthy food, that fits my budget. With this plan, someone has done the work to make sure I use up the whole package of whatever I bought, or can creatively use leftovers.

Want to try a recipe that you are likely to find on the Budget Friendly Family Plan? Try this Cheater Lasagna!

cheaterslasagna-emeals cheaters-lasagna-recipe-card1-emeals

Have you tried eMeals? How do you meal plan? Has it saved you time? Money? Share your Meal Planning Tips in the comments!

Everything I Learned About Friendship, I Learned From Winnie the Pooh

Happy Winnie the Pooh Day! That silly old bear has been a big part of my life, from my childhood listening to the stories about Christopher Robin, his friend Winnie the Pooh and all of the other characters in the Hundred Acre Wood. When I became a mother, I enjoyed sharing these stories, and the Disney movies that went along with them with my children.

What I love the most about Winnie the Pooh is the true stories of friendship that stem from his many adventures.

Here are my top lessons of friendship that I learned from Winnie the Pooh:

Rabbit

1. Friends accept you, even with your faults.  Pooh is a bear of very little brain, and as such, is a terrible speller. And yet, not even that smart aleck Rabbit feels the need to point out his orthographical shortcomings. And so, my friends accept the fact that I type faster than I think (or is the other way around?), and put up with all of my weird food rules (such as two different types of chocolate should never be mixed, and chicken should never be served in a tomato sauce).

eyore

2. Friends know when you are down, and try to lift your spirits. Poor Eeyore. He seems to always be down. And yet, his friends never do give up on him or stop trying to cheer him. Even when a friend does not know the exact right thing to say, they fact that she tries at all makes her a friend worth keeping!

3. Friends will help you out of a jam, even if the trouble you got yourself into was your very own fault. No one *made* Winnie the Pooh eat too much honey . . . . But everyone pitched in to get him out of a jam!

Kanga

4. Sometimes friends smother you, but they mean well.  Kanga can’t help that she is an overprotective mother, and if your son got into as many near misses as little Roo does, you would be overprotective too. But sometimes your friend’s mothering starts to affect you. Relax, she means well. . .

5. A good friend will help you have fun. Tigger is an exuberant friend, but he makes sure EVERYONE has fun. I only need one “TIgger” friend, but I’m glad to have her!

6. Most importantly, a friend helps you on your darkest days. I’ve witnessed friends helping each other in the most unpleasant circumstances. Friends are friends through thick and thin.

 

Chime in! Who is your favorite character from the Hundred Acre Wood? What friendship lesson have you learned from Winnie the Pooh?

 

all images and video are from Disney.com.

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