Thursday, April 26, 2012

Singing in Spring

Some of my favorite memories with my grandparents involved watching the birds at their birdfeeders.  My grandpa loved feeding the birds and watching them enjoy their feasts.  He would tell us the name of each type of bird that visited his yard as he saw them.  I loved that man and I cherish those memories.

I was fascinated by my grandpa, and largely because of him, I was fascinated with nature.  I want my boys to know the same kind of awe that I had when sitting by the window or on the patio and observing the birds.  I want them to build the kind of relationship I had with my grandparents.  My boys adore their grandparents.  I want to find ways to continually foster those growing relationships.  

We recently got the chance to receive a Perky Pet Birdscapes Upside Down Goldfinch Feeder.  I love watching finches, and think it would be a lot of fun to watch these as they turn themselves upside down to get seeds.  We decided that instead of adding this to the treats in our yard, it would be a great way to help our boys connect with nature at Grandma's house.  Not only is it fun for the boys, it makes a wonderful gift.

Grandma was very surprised by the bird feeder and the boys have an extra attachment to it because they know where it came from.  We know this bird feeder will last a long time.  Perky Pet feeders because are excellent quality!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  I have received a product in exchange for review.  All expressed opinions are my own.

What's In The Bible

Do you know what's in the Bible?

Have you heard of the What's in the Bible video series?  It's the most creative, in depth video Bible teaching for kids I think I have ever seen.  I LOVE the way Phil Vischer tackles some really difficult and even controversial topics.  He brings big ideas down to a kid level without talking down to kids.  It's amazing, I love watching it with my boys.  In fact, we are watching one right now!

Keep your eyes open for a giveaway coming soon right here!  While you wait for the giveaway, don't miss out on the coupon for $5 off of the newest video!

Wordless Wednesday: Zoo Walking

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trash night! Rubbermaid Review & Giveaway

It's trash night tonight.  Better yet, it's recycle night!  We are big fans of recycling but we have a problem - the big ugly blue bin that sits in the kitchen.  It's not the bin itself that is ugly, it just doesn't look good, and we have a pretty small kitchen, so there isn't a good place to put it.

I'm in luck!  I recently learned about Rubbermaid's new Hidden Recycler.  It's a recycle bin that I can put under the kitchen counter!

It's got a lot of fantastic features.  You can check them out on the Rubbermaid website, or you can watch them in my video. 

I mention "screws" in my video - there are none - I failed to read the directions first - it's super super easy to use.  In fact, I've entered several giveaways to try to win a second one to use for my trash container.

You can buy the Rubbermaid Hidden Recycler for just $17.59 online.  
You can win it right now!  Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  Giveaway entrants must be 18 years of age or older and residents of the US.  I have received a product free of charge for the purpose of review.  

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It's working!

Okay, so I've shared several times about our commitment to get moving - to walk for health, finances, and environment.

Guess what - it's working!  This week has been a test for me - we have been pretty busy and I'm not getting as many steps as I'd like.  My goal is 10,000 steps a day.  When I have appointments and meetings in offices, I do a lot of sitting and I don't reach 10k very quickly.

This week to counteract the meetings, we've been walking the zoo!  It opened on Saturday.  From last Tuesday to yesterday I lost 3 pounds!  This is the best I've done since Baby came in October... okay, well - I lost 50 pounds really fast - but since then I've just been stalling.

I've GOT to get more weight off to help with control of my blood sugars - sooo.. we continue to walk!  You know what?  I like it.  My kids love it - Monkey begs me every day to walk.  We are learning a healthier way of living.

What are you doing to be healthier this week?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Honor the Earth Giveaway Hop


I am SUPER excited about partnering with GeoPalz for the Honor the Earth giveaway hop!  If you haven't heard of GeoPalz, please take a glance at my spotlight post.  They make incredible pedometers for kids, and have a fantastic service for families!  I don't think I have ever been more excited about a pedometer!
GeoPalz wants to help YOU Honor the Earth this Earth day by encouraging your family to get moving!  We're learning to walk to places nearby instead of driving.  
One lucky winner will receive a GeoPalz pedometer for their child!  Of course, you can always choose to keep it for yourself if you prefer.
Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  Don't forget to read the review to learn all about GeoPalz great products.  Also remember to check out the other great giveaways happening as part of the Honor the Earth hop!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

6,000 Steps to a Better Relationship

I have 3 beautiful boys, ages 3, 2, and 6 months.  Some days that is a whole lot of preschool in one house.  By "a whole lot of preschool" I mean my days are filled with noises and questions.  Some days that gets tiring and I begin to get annoyed.  My kids know when that happens, but they are preschoolers and that is just what they do.

As I seek to build better relationship with my children - yep, it really does take being intentional - I've learned that taking walks is a great way to strengthen our time together.  You see, when we're walking, I am not distracted by dishes, laundry, work, the internet... They get my focus.

This is what a 3 mile walk with 2 preschoolers sounds like:
What is that?  Do you see the hyacinths?  Look, a robin!  He's in my space.  That smells good.  Why are they breaking the sidewalk?  What kind of truck is that?  What is it doing?  Where is Walgreens?  Where are we going?  How do they do that?  Why is there sugar in your blood?  Why did Skoshi run away?  Why does daddy have to work?  Can I pay bills?  I found a penny!  Let's watch the cement mixer.  Can I blow the dandelion seeds?

Okay, it goes on and on - we could seriously discuss all of those things before we leave our street - these boys have rapid fire commentary as we walk.  The beautiful thing though, is that when we walk - mama is right there to answer all of their questions.  I know they are working to figure the world out and their questions and comments are sincere.  I do not want to ignore them, because they are reaching out for information that will help them grow.  Not only will it help them grow, but as I answer as many questions as I can honestly - I am building trust with them.  Honest answers means that sometimes I have to stop and say, "I don't know".  It does not bother my boys that I don't know, they don't know either.

When I listen to their commentary and affirm the things they see, they know I am listening to them, really listening.  They feel valued.  They discover that they are smart.  I am more aware of what they have picked up on and what things we need to work on.  We often stop to notice letters, birds, various plants, construction, bugs - whatever interests my boys on a particular day.

We are building better relationships by walking.  Getting healthier does not just mean physically.

What do you do to build better relationships with your kids?

Battling MS

Have I ever mentioned that my sister is an inspiration to me when it comes to living a healthy life?

She has MS - 2.5 years ago she was diagnosed with pre-MS, in August she was diagnosed with MS.  She takes daily injections to slow the progression of her disease, and she does not let MS take over her life.  In fact, as much as she can - she is conquering it.  Yes, she has pains, her vision is funky, it is hard to stand long enough to make dinner some days.  Still, she does it.  Still, she participates regularly in Zumba classes.

Elizabeth is making healthy choices for herself and for her family.  Guess what.  It shows.  In less than a year, she has lost 55 pounds (one side effect of her medicine is weight GAIN).  She has changed her diet, and her family's diets permanently.  She has changed her exercise habits and is working on helping not just her husband and children with changing these things, but her whole family.

My sister challenges me to get moving.  She challenges me to eat healthier (we've been working on it - for a LONG time - it's a slow process in our house).

Some day her disease might jump out of the closet and change what her life looks like.  It could be today, or maybe 30 years from now.  Maybe she'll be lucky and find ways to continue to improve her health in order to live a fairly "normal" life.  It is different for every person battling MS.  There is no cure for MS, only hope that one can learn to live with the sometimes devastating results.

I want to help my sister, I want to help my friend Debbie, I want to help the mother of an 8 year old girl that lives across town.  Those are 3 people that I know up close and personal, that fight this disease every day.  They fight for themselves and for their families.

In a week and a half I am going to walk in the National MS walk.  I am currently collecting funds to help with research, education, and medication.  Today I added donations from 2 different people onto my personal goal page - I'm 1/3 of the way to my fund raising goal.
Will you consider helping my sister?  Will you donate to the National MS walk for someone you love?  Even $1 helps.  In fact, if everyone that reads this blog post contributes even $1 to the cause - I will exceed my goal.

Please consider clicking on THIS LINK to contribute to my goal in aiding people, like my sister, who have MS.

33 percent of goal achieved.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

6,000 Steps to a Better Attitude

I'll be the first to admit that I was tired and cranky yesterday.  I don't know why I felt so tired, but I wanted to get thing done - so when it came to nap time, I just wanted my sweet 2 and 3 year olds to lay down and sleep!

Do you ever have those days?

This is when Grouchy Mommy appeared and took over for a while.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, Healthy Mommy softly spoke to me about taking a walk.  I decided we would go to the library as soon as I could get everyone ready.  But gracious, I just wanted a few minutes of quiet.  Grouchy and Healthy had a battle that lasted about an hour.  Grouchy still was not entirely quelled when it was time to set foot out the door.

Great news!  A 3 mile walk (roughly 6,000 steps) helped Grouchy Mommy to go away.  I got fresh air, exercise, and just felt better in general.  We're still working on changing our mindset about getting a good long walk in during the day, but it's coming along.  I've just got to convince myself that it is best for all of us - and when our 90+ degree summer weather hits, I need to remind myself that this is for my precious boys.

What helps you to gain a better attitude when the Grouch inside tries to take over and ruin your day?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Baby Steps

I had about 13,000 steps today!  Hooray!  We walked to the library (3 miles), then I had to do our grocery shopping - then I got some mommy time and walked about another hour to 90 minutes!  Boy am I tired.

We ate a healthy stir fry for dinner, I've had a decent amount of water today (although I didn't reach my goal of 100 oz - I've done that most days this past week).

Tonight I'm feeling good about my day, I even felt good enough to get some "extra" cleaning done that keeps getting put off of my list.

What causes change?

I've been working hard this weekend to figure out what causes change, and how can I cause REAL change in my life.  See, I try, I really do - I want to be eating only a whole foods plant based diet.  But there is cheese in the fridge and it would be really good on my salad.  Also, there is candy on sale at Walmart - I know it's there, and it sounds so good.  AND, well maybe we want to go out for dinner...

See my problem?  I'm good at wanting to change, but I'm also good at making exceptions to my own "rules".  It makes me feel frustrated with myself.  It makes me grouchy.  I feel like I just can't accomplish what I set out to do.  It's not a good feeling.

I've spent quite a bit of time this weekend hashing it out (again) with Mr. Crum.  We're trying to figure out how to cause some real and dramatic change in our lives.

Here's the thing - to my best figuring, the thing that causes the most effective changes in my life is crisis.  It's hard to ignore a crisis.  I know with all my head that I am in a state of crisis.  My blood sugars are not in control and that makes it hard to function.  Not only does it make it hard to function, every day that I live like this I am making a choice to not be fully with my family as my beautiful boys grow.  Ouch.
I want to be around when these guys are 31, 33, and 34... and even older than that.
I don't want my moment of crisis to be the day that my blood sugar goes sky high and I have seizures and end up hospitalized, or something like that.  I don't want that day to EVER come.  So I have to figure out how to convince my head and heart to recognize that my crisis is happening right now and change has to happen right now.
We're working on this - we've already changed some of our habits.  We wear pedometers all the time (the boys do too) so that we can monitor how well we're doing with getting exercise.  These are literal steps toward health.  My goal every day is 10,000 steps -that is roughly 5 miles of walking a day.  The great news is that walking around my house to do laundry and dishes counts toward my steps for the day.  The bad news is that if that is all I do, I only get around 3,000 steps.  I actually have to be intentional about making that happen.

GeoPalzA GeoPalz Pedometer helped get us motivated to make a change in our walking habits.  Thanks GeoPalz.

More good news about walking for exercise - it's green.  I'm not putting nasty emissions into the air when I walk (unless I'm gassy).  It costs us a lot less money when I can walk where I'm going instead of driving.  I honestly wish we lived just a bit closer to downtown so we could walk to the church as well as walking to the businesses downtown which we frequent.

So for the first time in my adult life, I'm being seriously intentional about getting exercise.  That's a good step.  The next big step is the food thing.  Really we eat pretty well at home most of the time.  The problem that we have is that sometimes we don't eat at home - sometimes happens a lot more frequently than I care to admit right now.  It's just so easy to hop in the van and go somewhere else.  (Or even to walk somewhere).

Why do we need to make this change?  1) It's expensive.  We eat so much cheaper at home than we do when we go out someplace.  2) It's healthier.  When we eat at home, we are able to use fresh ingredients that we trust, and we choose vegetarian (mostly vegan).  3) It helps with blood sugar control because I'm in better control of my food intake.  4) I don't want my boys to fight this fight.  I want them to learn right now to take care of their bodies.
So my big dilemma right now is this: How do I force myself to understand that we are in crisis right now.  As Mr. Crum said, "when it's a slow crisis, it's harder to notice".  I guess that is kind of like the way they slowly increase the gas prices, they think we won't notice as much.  Shoot, we got excited about gas for $3.65 last week.

Wise Mr. Crum also said that we need to figure out how to change our environment to help cause change - now, we're not moving to a new house, not changing jobs or friends... so how do we change our environment?

How do you make real, dramatic changes in your life and family?  What has made a difference in your struggle toward health?  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Safety Harness, or Toddler Leash?

Oh, I know it is a subject of hot debate - Is it humane to put a child on a "leash"?  Truthfully, I have been on both sides of this debate and I'm going to step out and tell you where I am with it at this very moment.

That is my son, tonight, at the mall.  Yep, he is wearing the safety harness backpack with a cute puppy dog on it.

If you guessed that I am opposed to these silly devices, you were wrong.  

Here's the thing.  Crackers is a strong willed, independent young man.  He loves to walk when we go out, but does not always pay attention to where we are.  We are constantly encouraging him to keep up or slow down, depending on how excited he is.  This is frustrating to him, and to his mama.

Monkey was (and still is) a hand holder.  He is easy to keep close, because he holds on.  Crackers wants nothing to do with holding hands.  He cries and screams, "I WANT TO WALK" if he is forced to hold a hand.  He feels like his freedom is removed when he has to be held.

With the "puppy backpack" (as we call it), he is able to walk independently.  For the most part he appreciates this.

So, for the freedom and safety of my child, I have changed my thoughts about the safety harness.  We will be using it when we go on walks in crowded places such as the mall or the zoo.  We will not be using it when we are walking in the neighborhood or the forest trails.

What are your thoughts on safety harnesses?  There is room for disagreement, but please be respect others, even in your disagreement.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fort Wayne Area Parks

I've been talking with Mr. Crum about this for a little while and finally tonight decided to do it:

I've created a blog page to journal our experiences as we explore local parks with our family.  

Instead of throwing them onto my regular blog page, they are on Fort Wayne Area Parks

Tonight I added our first park, Moser Park in New Haven.  I have a couple more to add in the near future and many more to explore and share!

Please feel free to check out the Fort Wayne Area Parks page, there is a tab to connect with it at the top of my blog page.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Honor The Earth with your FEET! (sponsor spotlight)


In the Crum household we are battling every day.  We battle to live a greener life, we battle to eat healthier foods, we battle to maintain blood sugar... and the list goes on.

As a diabetic I am highly concerned about what my family eats and how we exercise.  I don't want my 3 beautiful boys to grow up fighting the same battles that we are struggling with now.  We are working on teaching them to live healthier lives by helping them learn to get exercise every day.  

One way that we practice this is through the use of a pedometer.  The Crum family, along with some of my extended family, are taking literal steps toward health.  We are walking "together" although live in different cities.  Each day we report in with our number of steps in a battle toward health.  At the end of the month the one with the most average daily steps will take home a trophy.  We will start again with counting steps for next month.  The winner so far?  My mother (I think).  

Okay, the truth is, the kids are kicking our butts.  They are inspiring us to work harder, walk more, and live healthier.  They are encouraging us to practice what we preach and put our foot where our mouth is... 
At the Crum house, as we learn to increase our steps, we are also learning to Honor the Earth by using our van less frequently.  We are learning to take care of our needs without adding to the poor air quality.

Now, for the sponsor:

This has got to be the coolest pedometer we have ever seen!  They are stylish with cute icons on the front so they look cool.  Monkey loves to show his off to anyone that will pay attention.  

This is my favorite.  Isn't it cute?  Earthy and feminine.  Love it!

First I want to tell you about the great quality of pedometers the GeoPalz sells

They are made with kids in mind.  The pedometer has a bent angle on the end of the clip to hold it firmly in place on pants or shoes.  There is also a "leash" with it so you can attach it doubly - if it somehow manages to slip off, it will still be holding on with the leash.  Believe me, with an active young boy, this can be useful.

These are durable.  Monkey has dropped his a number of times.  He takes it off regularly to look at the numbers and is not good at putting it back on himself.  When he looks at it, it has frequently landed on the floor.  The cute cover over the pedometer seems to help with protecting it.

GeoPalz calibrates to the individual step.  This gives a more accurate picture of how many steps are being taken.  

The pedometer also has a time and date function.  That helps with tracking steps. One great thing about this function is that you can't forget to reset it in the morning - it 0's at midnight.  (If your time is not set properly, it will reset itself in the middle of the day).

Here is the direction sheet.  I called my sister when I opened it up.  I learned about GeoPalz from her, so she was the one to gripe at about this.  What a huge set of instructions.  It took a little while for me to figure it all out and get the pedometers set up correctly.  It was not as difficult as I expected based on the size of the instruction page.  

We also had occasion to do a little problem solving.  One of the pedometers did not work right for some reason, customer service was very helpful and had no problem replacing it.  They have a lifetime guarantee on their products!

Check this out, not only are these pedometers adorable (who would have thought you could use a word like "adorable" when talking about pedometers?), they offer a website for tracking progress.  You can use their website for free!  Your kids can even earn prizes for accomplishing goals.  There are a variety of neat prizes for kids who own a geopal - they EVEN have prizes for people that sign up with a free account.  

One of the newer features?  Family tracking.  That's right, I can put all of the members of my family on the GeoPalz site, and monitor progress right there with a chart that shows each family member side by side.  I also get an email every week telling me how my children are doing with their walking.  

GeoPalz has an excellent program for helping families get active together.  They have already helped us in the battle against diabetes.  They also help us as we learn to better care for our Earth.

The price?  GeoPalz sell for only $25!  That price is totally worth it for the quality of the pedometer and the service of the website.  Make sure to check them out today!

Thanks GeoPalz!

GeoPalz will be offering a pedometer to one of my readers during the Honor the Earth event from April 12-22.  Happy Earth Day!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, I received a product or products in exchange for review.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Breakfast for dinner on vacation

A couple of weeks ago the boys and I went on a "vacation" - it wasn't a real vacation - we stayed at my parent's house for a few days because Monkey had a doctor's appointment in their area, and it was the best way we could work out transportation.

As I planned for our food needs, I was presented with the opportunity to try out Tyson's new Breakfast Bread Bowls.  Now, they're not part of our typical diet at home - but we were going to be away, on "vacation" and they're still fairly healthy - certainly healthier than a trip to McDonalds.  

We chose to do our shopping at Sam's Club in Indianapolis.  My boys LOVE Sam's Club because there are often samples of foods.  They were not disappointed by the samples this trip!  We wandered the store and looked at some fun ideas for our yard, the boys were impressed by the video selection.  We had a short but serious debate about whether or not we should buy some raised garden kits.  To read about the whole shopping trip, check out Google +.

Then we found the frozen foods.  I'm always amazed at the variety of frozen foods that Sam's Club offers.  We had a few on our shopping list, so we picked up what we needed for the week.  All the staff were friendly and helpful.  Our biggest problem?  There was a puddle on the floor in front of some of the frozen chicken.  If I hadn't been holding onto the shopping cart, I would have fallen down.

Once our cart was filled with all of the goodies on our list, we checked out and got a snack.  Sam's Club is tricky like that, they put their nice little cafe right by the registers to entice families with small children.  We had planned on getting a snack anyway, the boys always think it's fun to eat when we're in the store.  We had pretzels and chatted about our plans for the day.  What a fun time we have together when we shop.  I hope my boys never grow out of their love for shopping!

I planned to serve our Tyson breakfast bowls with green beans and fresh fruit for dinner one night while we visited. BUT - I'm kind of a dork and prefer to serve the same meal to both of my big boys whenever possible - Crackers can't have eggs - so I had to share with just Monkey while Crackers slept as a lunch one afternoon.  

These were really good.  I had one later that night as a snack... and another the next night... I had one for lunch the next day with green beans as a side while the boys napped.  Seriously, the Tyson breakfast bowls were that good, and super easy to make!  

My only complaint (other than that they disappeared too quickly) was the size of the bread bowl.  It is significantly smaller than I expected based on the packaging.  It is probably closer to what I should be eating in one sitting though.

Breakfast for dinner became breakfast for lunch, and late night snack.  Soon we'll buy some more and share them with Monkey for dinner - I just have to figure out what we'll make for Crackers when we do it!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias all opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Just a quick thank you to the men of Chimney 1 for their hard work and excellent outcome.

Before: Bricks were crumbling and literally falling off of the chimney.  

After: 2.5 days of work and we don't have to worry about bricks falling.  We *might* even be able to have a small fire in it once in a while next winter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Painting with Nature: Preschool Project

We have a new wall hanging for the boy's room.  They adore it, because they made it.
For about a week we collected bits of "nature" in a basket by the door.  
We waited for a nice warm, sunny day, and then had some fun using our nature to create this art for their wall.

Our collection of "nature"
Getting started - Crackers chose a stick and some red paint
Working together, I loved the way they tried out different "brushes" to apply paint. 
We had some blank space so mama got creative.
Monkey decided to try his hands too.
Completed project, ready to hang in the boys room - as soon as we find a frame.
This is incredibly simple and so much fun for the boys.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Behind Closed Doors

This morning I went for a long walk with my boys.  We journeyed the 2.9 miles between the public library downtown and our house on the south side of town.  As we ventured through the busy streets of our city, I was obliged to stop whenever that silly orange hand popped up in front of me.
 It was really kind of annoying, because there weren't always cars crossing in front of us when the hand encouraged us to stay safely on the sidewalk.  Honestly, if the boys weren't with me, watching my every step, I would have crossed while that silly hand was up.

This got me to thinking about habits.  I chose not to cross when the sign said to wait because I want my children to value obeying the laws.  (Laws of the land, the home, and especially God).  I know if I don't follow rules and then try and explain it away, they'll see through it - even at 2 and 3 years old.

Now, if I change my behavior only when the boys are watching, and continue to make choices I don't want them to observer when I don't think they'll know, I'm setting myself up for failure and disappointment.  If there is something I don't want them to see me do, I need to stop doing it!

If I don't want my boys to smoke, but after every meal, I slip away to the bathroom to "wash my teeth" or step outside for "a bit of fresh air", I shouldn't be shocked when they call me out for it, or begin the habit.

If I don't want my children to swear, so I only do it when they can't hear - I should expect that either I'll slip, or they'll overhear it when I think they're not paying attention.

Kids watch us all the time.  Not only do they watch us, but they mimic us.  Our kids want to be like the adults they love so dearly.  What I do behind closed doors really matters.

So now it's time for me to analyze.  What choices am I making that I don't want my children to know about?  How can I begin to change long ingrained habits?

What about you?  Have your children seen things you don't want them to notice?  How have you changed habits?

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