Taking Kids in the Rain

I’m all for ‘Slinging in the Rain.’ Maybe it’s just because my kids aren’t young enough to whine, but I feel confident taking them out in the rain. My one year old is fascinated by the rain. In fact, I took her outside for a quick picture in our rain jackets and she cried the instant we stepped back inside.

Rain jackets in the storm.

We decided to take the girls for a walk through the neighborhood in the early hours of Hurricane Sandy.

Baja, Zac, and Hannah lead the way.  

The rain was plummeting, but there was no lightening and the area we walked through was clear of trees even though it was gusty. Audrey came, too! I bundled her up and put her in the carrier. She spent the first few minutes talking and smiling with me. Something about the fresh air always puts her in a good mood. Whenever a gust of wind blew between us she would gasp for a deep breath. The end of the walk yielded some tears, but we got home quickly and took care of the diaper issue.

Warm and snug with Mama.

Early in our relationship, I was intimidated whenever my husband tried to pull me out of my comfort zone for a hike. Now, I’m just as excited as the rest of the family to get outside to explore. It’s certainly easier to muster the courage to take two little girls out in a hurricane because he is a former rescue swimmer. I wouldn’t want them to miss out on any of the great lessons he can teach them about preparing for safety or tackling a challenge. Luckily, since I’m getting in the adventuring habit now they may never know that I was once a wimp.

 

 

Halfway to a 5K

A few weeks ago I started training for my first 5K run and I’m happy to report that it is going really well. I never thought it would be possible, but there are so many reasons that I am loving running. It has been easy to incorporate into my lifestyle thanks to the support of my husband. My girls are the best inspiration I could ask for. All this time I thought I wanted to run so that I could keep up with my girls as they race around with their Father. I realized that it is just as important for me to be their inspiration to run and I am finally motivated to lead the pack!

My first race is right around the corner and I am not intimidated at all. I am excited that the challenge is going to increase every day until the Chester County Turkey Trot. Ever since giving birth the first time, I have wanted to become a runner, but my second pregnancy came around too quickly to allow that. I waited after Audrey’s birth until I was literally bursting at the seams with a desire to get fit and exercise to begin training. At first, I didn’t know if I would be able to conquer my hilly neighborhood. Now I wake up each morning and am excited to take in the view during my jog. I’ve even gotten adventurous and explored the trails that surround the houses. Tackling the toughest hills on practice runs makes me eager to see what I will be able to accomplish during a flat race. It’s not easy and I’m not going fast, but those baby steps are taking me places and melting away my post-baby belly as I go.

If you’ve ever seen a post or tweet and wondered why people talk about exercise, it is done for two reasons. First of all, it makes people happy! More importantly, social networks provide amazing support and encouragement for accomplishing fitness goals. I love knowing that at any given moment someone is ready to offer a kind word or a tidbit of advice for reaching the next physical plateau. Watching others set the bar is all I need to see to know that I can and will #GetAfterIt.

 

I’m linking up with the Motivation Monday Blog Carnival. Check it out here for more.

The Power of Small Blogs

“If you build it, they will come.”  -Field of Dreams

Small blogs can deliver a big message and they play an important role in the blogging community. We are the audience that keeps content fresh and relevant. Even top brands are realizing the importance of focusing on their best 20 or 40 consumers because they are the people that make things happen. In a small blogger’s community, there are countless opportunities to connect with and influence these concentrated groups.

To me, blogs with thousands of followers are a dime a dozen. I have a few favorites, but I’m just as likely to visit a site and never return if I’m not engaged. I may be one of the only bloggers that doesn’t have a feed of blogs. Instead, I connect with relevant bloggers via Twitter and visit the posts that interest me each day. My tastes change and I’m eager to learn about new topics all the time so it works perfectly. Since I use social media to communicate, I give my time to people that I know personally and those that keep the conversation fluid. I also practice what I preach.

A few months ago, I made a Social Media Resolution to always reply and it has changed my entire internet experience. When people comment on my blog or tweet with me, I reply no matter what. Almost immediately, more people began to listen and pass along my message. I love communicating with a local network because the conversation is part of my life. Plus, Philadelphia has a wealth of creative and insightful bloggers that inspire me. It’s easy for me to market a product or offer advice because I know my target reader. The blog is a way for me to start the conversation, but it continues on Facebook, in person, and vice versa.

I make nearly every purchasing decision online and am an easy target for marketers. I’m not unique in this respect, so it blows my mind that big brands leave this territory uncharted. At a twitter party, every single participant should be acknowledged. If there are too many tweeters, there should be more hosts. (And if you’re a brand that needs another host- you can hire me!) The other things that I see all too often are posts with questions and no follow up. That’s the sales equivalent to picking up the phone, saying “how are you?” and hanging up. I think it’s time for big brands to show some manners on Twitter.

Leave no @branded tweet #unanswered!

If customers consistently walk into a store and can’t find a clerk, they will stop shopping there unless it is cheap or exclusive. It’s the same way on the internet. People are walking away from those blogs that only spout content in favor of the ones that build an interactive experience. However, there are some people who are doing things really well and they motivate me.

@ClassyMommy – Mrs. Padilla has it all. She takes amazing trips, gets awesome toys for her kids, and makes mommyhood look divine. She also invited me to her stellar Holiday fete and I can’t wait to meet her!

@PiratesBooty – This tweeter speaks to the kid in me with fun pirate jingles and contests. They sent me snacks, so I’d never make them walk the plank.

@NICKWALSH – Nick was my first and favorite tweeter. He got me hooked on the Facebook newsfeed in college and now he’s on the fast track to social media greatness in Hollywood.

@HollyPavlika – She may have 10,000 followers and tackle projects like saving the world, but Holly also talks with me on Twitter. She’s one of the rare tweeters that asks a question and sticks around to hear the answer, so I make an effort to chime in.

@JeffTincher – Jeff is the host of a local internet marketing group. He knows the value of an on-screen and off-screen connection and actively promotes that for the benefit of others.

Great content will be passed along, no matter how remote the source. Even internet sensations start with only one share, one like, or one retweet. I’m not afraid to tackle a big challenge because I believe that this little blog can go places like your iPhone, or blackberry, or desktop. (Do people even use those anymore?) I’ve got a good message and a good heart and I hope you will share it. If you do, I’ll take the time to get to know you.

Cast Iron Inspiration

On Saturday mornings, our cast iron skillet is a member of the family. We’re creating a legacy of memorable meals with this indispensable kitchen tool. We’re not chefs, but my husband and I follow some great recipes for mouthwatering temptations like Granny’s pancakes, Tyler’s Ultimate French Toast, and oven roasted rosemary potatoes to name a few.

Zac was thrilled when I suggested buying a cast iron skillet a few years ago. I had just watched Tyler Florence whip up an amazing breakfast in a pan that belonged to his Grandma and I was inspired to start cooking in a pan that I could one day pass down to my future generations. Although I often joke that I’m lucky that my Mother didn’t teach me how to cook, it was important for me to learn how to cook well so that I can teach my girls. I’ve learned a lot from The Food Network and a lot from stumbling through recipes to improve as I go.

Our kitchen has been a work in progress since we moved this summer. My husband immediately set to work on an amazing redesign and built a kitchen that I never would have even dreamed of using. He’s rounding out the finishing touches and I’m finally starting to feel at home in front of the stove. (What can I say, the barefoot and pregnant thing worked for me?) Prior to moving, I did a ton of research on which stove to purchase for his masterpiece. Induction stoves piqued my interest, but they required all new pots and pans and were more expensive. I debated getting a hybrid stove for a time and easily nixed gas from our options to avoid having a tank on the side of the house. Finding out the dangers of cooking with non-stick pans sealed the deal for an induction stove. We found a great deal on the appliance and I ordered a reasonably priced (under $200) set of stainless steel cookware from a wholesale club. Happily, all the cast iron cookware works on the stove as well.

Although there has been a learning curve for some of my recipes, I’ve actually made quite a few stellar meals on the stove. We’re all eagerly anticipating a visit from Zac’s Granny for Christmas and I can’t wait to spend some quality time in the kitchen with her. She’ll be so proud of her Grandson’s hard work that she might just divulge a few of the secret family recipes.

This kitchen inspires great meals.

Divine Secrets of the Ra Ra Sisterhood

There’s no doubt in my mind that Hannah loves Audrey. For her young age, she’s an amazing big sister. Not only does she tolerate the baby’s capitalization of her own mama, but she shows affection and appreciation for Audrey’s presence. These two are knit together, but they are so different that only time will tell how their relationship develops. The only certain is that right now there is love, lots of it, and I feel so blessed to wrap my arms around it each day.

On the days when I get Hannah first thing in the morning and Audrey is with me, Hannah gives her a beaming smile while waving and saying “baby.” If Audrey is still in bed, she’ll smile at me but point at the door and ask about the baby. Nearly every time I lay Audrey on the floor to play, Hannah bends over to give her a kiss. That’s one of the many times during the day that she likes to kiss the baby. Her kisses are mushy, but sweet, and I giggled with Hannah as she attempted to pat Audrey’s head with a washcloth after leaving a sloppy kiss today. I love to sit on the floor with Audrey and wait for Hannah to crawl into my lap. I navigate the baby from side to side as Hannah climbs around my limbs.

Not everything that Hannah does to her sister is with a kind touch, but it’s all done with a sweetness and curiosity that lets me know she’s just learning how to interact with a baby. It might look like she’s poking her sister when she points to and names the body parts she’s learning. She’s also a little rough with the shaky toys that she uses to entertain her sister. I can tell she’s just mimicking my actions in her own way, which makes me happy that she is not only learning from me but demonstrating that she wants to share them with Audrey. When she talks about the baby it’s always with a happy tone, so it came as no surprise to me that she tried to say Audrey for the first time. It came out as “Ra Ra,” but was distinctly intended for her little sister.

People are generally quick to respond how close in age the girls are, but when I watch interactions like these I can’t help but think we’re all in the right place at the right time.

Sisters

Sisters at play.

Teflon Party Crashers

Last night @BusyMommyMedia hosted a twitter party that was sponsored by Teflon(R) and got crashed by a group of green bloggers. The message was strong, “Don’t promote Teflon- it’s toxic” but it was rudely delivered. On twitter and in real life, you can’t rush into a crowded room, scream about toxins, and expect to be taken seriously. Rachel from Busy Mommy chose this sponsorship for a reason. Either she didn’t know about the toxic effects of the cookware, or the fact that they save time by being easy to clean is more important to her in comparison. She’s entitled to that opinion and we’re not going to sway her or anyone else by rattling off a list of chemicals.

Rachel, I’d like to invite you to my home for a delicious meal cooked in a good ol’ cast iron skillet or the beautiful stainless steel cookware we use on our induction stove. I know that you live far away, but the next time business brings you to Philadelphia I truly hope you’ll take me up on this offer. 

On behalf of the green bloggers who are trying promote eco-friendly living that’s also mainstream-friendly, I’m sorry your brand message was diluted. There is a better way to cook and we’d like to help you find it.

Healthy Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner and excitement is building this year over all the healthy ways to have a Green Halloween(R). If you’ve already taken advantage of the grocery store sales for candy and treats, don’t feel guilty. The kids that have grown up on these traditions expect to get the king size Butterfinger from the house on the top of the hill and I wouldn’t want you to disappoint them. However, if you’re trying to find ways to make Halloween healthier in your neighborhood or even your own home, you have come to the right place! I’m participating in the 2012 Green Halloween® Blogfest and I would encourage you to visit the site to find out more ways from the experts on how to have all the fun without all the junk.

We’re new to our neighborhood this year and the Halloween spirit is in full force so we’re inspired to do a really good job. The question is… how do you give kids a healthy treat and make them want to eat it? I already know that there is a great new brand of candy on the market called “Unreal” that everyone is raving about. It’s got snazzy packaging, so I don’t think it will end up in a Lame Candy pile, but I do think kids will still reach for a Reeses before a #77 simply for the name recognition. We’re also going to give out Dum Dums because they’re cheap and satisfying. The candy is gluten free, so kids with allergies will welcome it. If it’s the #1 giveaway at the pediatrician’s office it can’t be that bad- right?

My plan is to let my husband have his Halloween fun and turn our yard into the spooky destination on the street. Since it’ll be a memorable destination worth stopping at for more than 5 seconds, I’m hoping to talk candy with other parents on the block. I’ll let them know about what’s in our candy bowl and hopefully inspire them to offer the same giveaways next year.

What’s in your candy bowl?