Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's all about the company you keep, really. And this company is pretty incredible!

Many of you have heard me talk about the BlogHer conference, and how incredibly HUGE it was, and how incredibly WONDERFUL it was. Each person I met who was affiliated with this community was warm, personable, friendly and pretty great. (BOTH years I was lucky enough to go!)

But in these last few years have I taken the time to really talk about BlogHer, and the community it represents? No, I think not.

Fortunately, they have a great website that really speaks for itself. It’s over here. Please, take the time to visit and check it out!

Personally, I always enjoy the pieces highlighted in the What's Hot section, and I never miss all the chances to win giveaways, gift cards and other items on their exclusive offer section. (YOu can't win if you don't play. Right? right.)

Enough of my rambling - go on over, read it for yourself and them join us. Trust me, you won't be sorry. Oh, and just for checking out their new and improved site? A chance to win a FREE pass to the San Diego conference! Now go on, get over there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Coffee, and a Little advice from Bitchy.

This is sponsored content from
BlogHer and LG Text Ed

I’m here today with Bitchy, our 21 year-old college junior, who is probably the technologically savvy member of our household.

“And prettiest.”

Yes, well, as you can see is not shy about sharing her thoughts and opinions, and we will be talking about texting, sexting and other issues that might come up.

“Ewww, mother. Try NOT to say that word in my presence The sex word.”

“So, Bitchy, is the cell phone used for evil purposes in college, or by people you know? Do people send horrible pictures or terrorize each other?”

“No! At least not anyone I know. I use my phone to stay in touch with my friends, and all that, but I also use it to go online and check homework, and stuff like that. I don’t give out my number to everyone, so anyone who HAS my number wouldn’t be rude, or anything like that. And I need some money.”

“We’re trying to find out what the hazards are when you have a phone, and how you can protect yourself against dangerous or bad situations.”

“A cell phone, really, is more about keeping you safe. My friends always know where I am, and thanks to my annoying MOTHER, so does my family. So, I really think that it’s so much more about you knowing where I am, than worrying about someone sending me a nasty text. I think maybe online stuff like Skype is probably a more likely way for someone to get themselves in trouble. You have to be careful WHO you Skype with. It has to be someone you trust.”

“But how can parents help their younger kids, kids not as brilliant and as perfect as you – be safe?”

That’s easy. Never, never give your number to anyone who is questionable, never - never send any stupid pictures of yourself to ANYONE, even if they say they will not show ANYONE. People lie. And just be smart. If something doesn’t feel right, then it ISN’T right. And I still need money.”

And so you have it -be smart, and FOLLOW your gut.

Have you had a conversation with your kids (or nephews/nieces, grandchildren) about texting, sexting and safety? BlogHer is matching LG’s donation of .50 to for every comment on this post, so please tell me about your conversation with your kids in the comments. Or if you haven’t had the conversation yet, what’s holding you back? Maybe another reader will have the perfect suggestion for how you can get your conversation going. It’s important for all our families, and will get a $1.00 for every comment, question or suggestion.

And my personal advice from the mother of three texting children to other mothers and fathers? Talk ALL the time. Talk, talk, talk, until you can’t talk no more. Something is BOUND to sink in.

Monday, November 15, 2010

We are ALWAYS ready for some football...

This is a sponsored post by BlogHer and P&G.

I was watching the kids attempt to play a game of football one afternoon at recess. Anyone who has been around five year olds KNOWS that an organized game of ANY kind is typically out of the question.

At some point during the hysterical “chase whoever picks up the ball” game, one young boy ran up to me and stood panting. Finally, after catching his breath, he asked, “Mrs. Smythe, WHY do they call it football when we use our HANDS?”

I shared this story that Sunday, during our Sunday football marathon, and got to wear the “Official Football Necklace” for the duration of the day. This, my friends, was quite an honor.

The Necklace was purchased at a Flea Market in New England- a gargantuan, sparkly, gaudy, coveted necklace worn only by the winner of the “best true story” contest.

The contest, in which each family member brings the funniest story to football Sunday, determines who wears the good luck necklace. It has, for years and years, brought incredible luck to the bearer of the necklace and the team that this person supports.

For me? There is NO question- the Philadelphia Eagles. I have been a loyal fan since I was old enough to understand what football WAS. I would spend time at my father’s feet and listen as he spoke of his favorite team.

As the years went by, I can to watch and admire the coaching of Dick Vermeil, and thus an Eagle Fan For Life was borne.

Here’s a great opportunity to get some great prizes from one of the NFL’s sponsors, Procter & Gamble. Check out their “Take it to the House” program and photo contest, where prizes include a $10,000 community donation to support NFL PLAY 60 and an at-home visit from a local NFL legend! One lucky Grand Prize Winner will even win a trip to the 2011 Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Show us how you and your football family bring NFL game day to life at home at (click on the contest tab)!

Promote Your Page Too

Also, please be sure to check out the rest of the football fanatics over here!

And now, as I wear the necklace and watch them play their hearts out on Sundays I not only cheer for those playing on the field, but those who have played before.

And if I ever get the chance to speak to ANY of those strong and talented men, I would ask them the same question that Jack asked me.

“Why DO we call it football?”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Welcome to the dark side, my friends; where Texting is King.

This is sponsored content from
BlogHer and LG Text Ed

I’ve spent the last three years of my parenting job communicating primarily through text messages.

Now, don’t you go and judge me people, until you’ve walked with my cell phone in your pocket.

While I scoffed, scorned and rolled my eyes at the parents who handed cell phones to their children in preschool, I have since fried up those thoughts and served them to myself for dinner.


I’ve crossed over.

When you are the parent of a teenage who has successfully convinced themselves that they are “adults”, it’s either jump in the pool with them, or watch them swim away alone. I chose to swim.

This joining of the dark side has proven very, very worthwhile. I am riddled with text messages while at work, while running errands, cleaning house, making dinner and laying in bed with a good book. Is it a bother? Absolutely not. I am thankful beyond measure that my teenage children are communicating with me.

They share details about where they are; who they are with; items they need from the store; and other useless information that I may or may not ignore. I offer you Exhibit A from Bitchy, who is currently a junior at a well known Big Ten University on the East Coast.

Exhibit A: (A random sampling of several texts I’ve received in the last two weeks.)
1. People who walk faster live longer.
2. Chips are not a food group.
3. I need my “allergy medicine” picked up.
4. Why won’t you pick up the phone. I need to go to the mall.
5. You can’t possibly lose weight after 50. Give up.

While I laugh out loud at most of the messages, as a parent I am always on edge about the dangerous possibilities when your children have phones; especially ones that connect to the internet. What can we do to ensure their safety? How do we know, in our hearts, that they will make smart choices?

We don’t. However, we have to let go and trust that the lessons they’ve learned while in our care will guide their hearts when they are forced to make choices.

I am going to take this opportunity to interview my children - Bitchy (21 and a junior in college), Sassy (18 and a freshman in college) and The Golden Boy. He’s 12, has his first phone and is texting everyone and their brother; whether he knows them or not.

Do you have questions I should ask? I would LOVE your thoughts and suggestions, and will answer them in my next post.

Because this topic is so important for our kids and their futures, BlogHer really wants to get the conversation about texting, sexting and safety going – both with our kids and among parents. It will match LG’s donation of .50 to for every comment on this post, so please give me your suggestions on questions for my kids. will get a $1.00 for each and every one.

So, are we joining hands in our attempts to keep all young people safe in this technological world? Can we join the amazing Jane Lynch in her efforts in this regard??

I think we can.

So, for each comment, questions, suggestion I will do at LEAST one jumping jack. And perhaps a push-up or two. Go on - make my day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Texting + Driving = HORRIBLE and DEALY Equation.

This is sponsored content from
BlogHer and LG Text Ed

Sassy called me late last Sunday night from college. We talked about this and that, catching up on the details of college life. We encouraged her to take her car to help make her treks to the athletic field easier, and we knew that many of the others girls on this small campus had their vehicles, as well.

After a few minutes talking about random things, she began to talk about the real reason she called.

“We didn’t have (field hockey) practice Friday night. Instead, they showed us a film about a great high school athlete. He was very talented, cute and popular, and going to college for football. Then they showed him being in a horrible car accident and how he was killed. It was so depressing!”

I knew in my heart what was coming.

“I really didn’t need to see that. I realize that most people don’t really understand how it feels when it happens to someone you know, but it was so hard to watch. I already KNOW about alcohol and driving. I already KNOW about not using your phone, or doing anything when you are driving. I know what it’s like to live with that every day. I wish I didn’t know, but I do.”

I listened to her talk, but I was remembering the fine young man we lost when he was a 16 year-old driver. My heart ached with the memory of him, and I knew that hers did as well. We have all prayed that other families never have to live through that kind of trauma, but I know they will.

My children (Sassy and Bitchy in particular) are fully aware of the dangers of distracted driving- and are adamant about that danger with anyone and every one who will listen. Frankly, I DO think they’ve impacted all their friends, and anyone who has ridden with them these last few years.

IN this small, small way they hope and pray that even just those few lives that they touch with this important message are kept safe and secure.

I have asked Sassy why she is so incredibly adamant with her friends about the phone issue in the car.

“Mom, no one knows; no one but us. But you know what? I don’t WANT anyone else to know what this is like. So, I do what I do. I yell at YOU, I yell at dad, and I’ll yell at anyone else who thinks that driving distracted is cool.”

That’s my girl.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

We may LOOK ordinary, but we are fabulous...

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and ABC's No Ordinary Family.

I’ve spent many a night in bed wondering where I went wrong.

I’ve spent a billion nights schlepping through every hill and dale delivering my children to soccer games, track meets, field hockey tournaments, football games and play dates. I’ve forgotten field trip permission slips, yearbook money, birthday parties, and many important papers.

I’ve embarrassed my children in front of teachers, friends, parents of friends, my co-workers and potential suitors.

My children (Bitchy, Sassy and The Golden Boy), despite all my best efforts, apparently still love me. I offer this as evidence, and will forever refer to it as Exhibit One:

Fortunately for us (can you see my eyes rolling?) Bitchy lives close enough to our house that she can take her evening billion-mile run and come right to our back door.

She walked in the door the other night for a short visit from her college campus and noticed a birthday card on my counter.

“Oh my GOD!” She exclaimed as she grabbed it. “Is that from SASSY? But I thought she HATED you!”

“Me, too!” I said. “Apparently we were wrong.”

And now I have finally realized that this family, this amazingly normal, yelling, fighting family is really INDEED extraordinary.

And each of these surprising moments is a lovely reminder about how wonderful normal really can be.

ABC’s No Ordinary Family hosted a video contest to find the most EXTRADORDINARY family in America and starting September 27th you can help vote for the winner! Between September 27 and October 1, watch the top 5 video submissions and vote for your favorite. Click here for details and be sure to vote!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

If given a chance, I will TOTALLY mess you up...

This is a sponsored post from 8th Continent and BlogHer.

I like to pride myself on the fact that I’ve stumbled upon every conceivable method know to man to screw my kids up.

I’ve made every wrong decision.

I’ve bought every heinous piece of back to school clothing.

I’ve alienated every teacher, coach or friend’s parent in my attempts to “help” my child along the way.

I like to think it’s a talent; my children, however, declare that they are cursed.

While the two older girls are happily away at college, Golden Boy is now the one at the receiving end of my wisdom.

Here is yesterday’s Parenting Lesson number 4,503.

While arranging an “Air-Soft Battle” as the end of the summer celebration, I received a phone call from on of the mothers involved. (Unfortunately, I forgot that tween boys hear everything within a ten mile radius.)

“Golden Boy does NOT want to have the battle unless John can come. Can we perhaps find another day this three-day weekend that will work? He was devastated that John was grounded. Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. THAT will work. Thanks! Bye.” Click.

At this point I heard what sounded like a herd of elephants charging into the room.

“OH MY GOD!!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU SAID THAT!! You said I was DEVASTATED? Crap. You made it sound like I LOVE him or something! MAN! I am not GAY you know. Good job, Mom. You’ve done it again.”

“I did NOT! I was just talking. I never…”

“Geez mom! Okay. From now on just let ME do the talking.”

Was I sad the girls were gone at college? It appears I still have some major damage I can do right here at home.

Let the fun begin.

The great part of this whole disaster? I know I am NOT ALONE! The good people over at 8th Continent have gathered hysterical videos of moms JUST LIKE US! You know- the human ones; the moms that make mistakes, that try their best, that love their kids but always feel as if every move they make is the wrong one!

Do you have a story? Can you share something that will make the rest of us feel normal? Tell me here, and you will have the chance to win an amazing price from 8th Continent, and along with that the respect of every other “normal” mother out there. In order to qualify you can post your idea here on Facebook, or Follow on Twitter here; and leave a comment below! And if you leave a comment HERE, you can win a $100 gift card from ME!!! Yes, I will be doing a random drawing for a prize RIGHT HERE.

Also, be SURE to visit special offers page" at Blogher for a chance to win more!

Yes. Let the fun begin indeed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Meet my new BFF, Ming Wang!

As I prepare for this incredible conference in New York City, my head is spinning!

I don't want to pack my entire drawer full of capris and sleeveless tops knowing full well I only wore half of what I brought to Chicago. (Sorry Tim Gunn- I know you loathe capris, but with Tightwad laid off yet again, I am stuck with what I've got; five year-old capris.)

I've watched the tweets and twitpic's flying left and right about what people are wearing. Frankly, I get jealous and a bit miffed. I'm always tempted to post shots of myself naked - claiming that this is my outfit for the conference. However, I do know that the "powers that be" know who I am and where I live online, so I do practice a bit of restraint.

Yet I always wonder how it is that these well-known bloggers can receive free outfits, invites to lavish private parties, and cameras, etc. for these conferences. What do they do? How do they do it? Frankly, I'm so busy supporting my family, sharing embarrassing stories about my kids and cleaning up after my dogs, that I can barely keep my house clean. (No comments, Bitchy.)

Then, the impossible happened. I received an email.

"Hi, Vodkamom. I am Jack Smith from the PR firm of Smith&Wesson. We would like to know if you are attending the BlogHer conference in NYC in August. Please let us know right away!"

My reply? "HELL YES I AM!!!!!" (Which might have sealed my NO INVITE to the Nikon party, but we'll never know.)

A week or so went by, and I forgot about the email - and then I received another. "Ming Wangwould like to send you an outfit to wear to the conference. Please go to this link, choose what you like and send us the information. We will make sure you receive it before the conference."

what? WHAT???? SHE is sending ME an outfit? I had to read the email a few hundred times, before I finally decided it was legit.

And yes, I followed the directions. Three days later, voila.

Of course, I'll be wearing it to every party I attend (except the NIKON party, of course) so if you see me on the last night of the conference and we start chatting, you might not want to stand too close.

And the fact that there are no bottoms? It's a good thing I shaved.

(And don't be jealous. My hair is WAY TOO SHORT- so we're even.)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Good Deeds by the Dozen. (aka How to fight the blues.)

Clearly my guardian angel has plans for me. Do they include making a billion dollars? Do they include, perhaps, being able to pay my power bill and mortgage payment in the SAME MONTH? I’m not sure.

Isn’t it enough that I supposedly spent my previous several lives in a monastary? (Which, frankly, I’m beginning to question. And, hello, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to perhaps throw in a Prada, or Coach bag or two. )

Just when I thought that working with five-year olds daily was my "do-good for life" payment, she went and threw me another great opportunity.

Some special people have reached out to me to participate in a “Do Good Day” project. It's called "77 Kids 'Do Good' Day". To put it simply, I received a package in the mail that contained various items that would help in our efforts to perform some random acts of kindness in my community. And 77 of lots of things.

I fell in love with the idea.

Random acts of kindness - they make the world go round, people. I love them even MORE when they are anonymous. I perform them as often as I can, in little ways, and I don’t like to shout about it - as I know many of you do, to. (Except perhaps the two previous posts- but that was different. J)

I asked Golden Boy and several of the neighborhood boys that have been eating me out of house and HOME if they wanted to help me out with this. I suggested going to one of our local retirement communities, and filling the meters downtown with quarters. You know what they ALL said?


I explained AGAIN what we were doing, in English, very slowly, and they STILL said yes. (Now, whoever replaced this kids with other people, speak now or forever hold your peace.)

So today, armed with bushels of flowers, notes of well wishes, rolls and rolls of quarters, and the hope that I’ve planted a seed in some young boys’ hearts, we head out on our mission of goodwill. We will visit a local retirement community - where Sassy works serving in the dining hall; and then head downtown to fill meters and hand flowers and warm wishes to students and neighbors.

Not only will the spirits of some members of this community be lifted, but so will ours.

So will ours, indeed.

Now get out there and do ONE nice thing today.

(I'll post pics ..this afternoon. Oh, the winner of the camera?? Unmitigated Me. However, had I KNOWN how much math was involved in adding comments for telling me funny stories, etc., I would have taken an advanced Algebra course before posting the *@&#^ contest. Despicable Me Contest is STILL ON!!)

The Dirty Dozen's (minus 8) Good Deeds.

I hustled the four boys into the car, along with five bouquets of flowers, the cards the boys had written, three rolls of quarters and a prayer that they had all showered and were wearing clean clothes for our Do Good Day mission. We were on the verge of running late as I had just finished with summer camp, and I wanted to tell them what I expected of them that afternoon.

"Okay, guys, when we get to the ChipNDale Retirement Community, and you are handing out the flowers, you could say..."

"Mom. MOM! I think we know how to talk."

"Well, I wasn't sure if you wanted me to give you some ideas, or.."

"We got it. We're not little kids. I think we know how to talk to people."

"Yeah. We can talk to people- even the elders!" I heard from the back seat.

And so it was on.

We arrived at the Village and were greeted by a lovely woman who welcomed us with gratitude. She walked us up the stairs towards the kitchen, where she suggested we begin rewarding the kitchen staff who work so hard every day.

The boys began handing out flowers to residents and visitors as we made our way down the hallway.

At first I gently gestured with my head towards people and they took the cues. Soon, they were approaching people and handing out the flowers - along with huge smiles, laughs and stickers. I noticed more than once that residents would reach out to hug whoever had handed them the flower, and each one returned every hug willingly and happily.

As we left the building, the boys were laughing and talking about what people said, how much fun it was and how easy it had been. As I watched them talking and laughing, I felt so proud. I was wiping my eyes as I thought about how this simple gesture meant so much to so many.

We made our way downtown and found a spot in the middle of a busy parking lot. The boys, pockets laden with quarters, made their way up and down rows of meters, whooping it up when they came upon one blinking that time had expired.

"We have saved SO MANY PEOPLE!" one of the shouted.

"Yeah, but they probably won't even know it!" another replied.

And at that moment I turned to see a police officer put his ticket-giver-outer into his holster and look in my direction. We started towards each other, and I had an inkling he wasn't happy. (Cue the shoot-out music.)

"You know, you really aren't supposed to feed all the meters." He said in a very stern tone.

Being the teacher, I replied, "Now, now. These boys are doing a service project, and learning a valuable lesson today. What would you have them do instead?"

"Well, to be honest, I work at the fire station as well. Here's the number. Next time they want to do a service project, have them come over and wash the engines for us." He smiled at me, glanced one more time at the lot, shook his head and turned to walk the other direction.

On the drive home the boys were talking a mile a minute, and those of you with a gaggle of boys around your house know what I mean. At one point someone said, "That was so so cool. Even getting busted by the COPS was cool!"

There were many amazing lessons learned today. The last one? Being good is almost as much fun as being bad.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When Despicable is Good.

It was last November and I was searching on-line for a recipe. You should know that I don't often search online for recipes. Frankly, I'm lucky to get the pasta in the water and the Ragu out of the jar in time for anyone who MIGHT be here to actually eat; and if I entered every on-line contest I came upon when searching the web, I would get even LESS done than I do now.

However, I had eaten delicious Italian Wedding Soup at a party, and decided that it was something I wanted to make. Hence, the search for the recipe.

I landed on the Cooking Light website and a box for a contest immediately popped up. I glanced at it quickly, and instinctively clicked on the close box. I proceeded to search the site, but I had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind about that contest box. It was like an annoying itch that got worse and worse until I decided to get out of the website and go back again to see if I could enter the contest.

When I logged in this time, there was no box. I repeated several times - all with the same result. I closed up my computer and went about the business of dinner.

That nagging feeling, however, would not go away. It bothered me for several days, and I couldn't figure out why. I decided to go back to the website and as soon as I opened it - there was the box. I read it more carefully: "Win a $100 gift card - five given out monthly!" I laughed, thinking the odds were certainly horrible - but I filled it out just so that nagging feeling would go away. It was almost Christmas, I needed every penny I could get, so I finished it and forgot about it.

Two weeks later, guess what? I received the email from Cooking Light. I had won the $100 gift card! I replied several times to the person who emailed ME, asking if this was a joke, and had I REALLY won the card? Really? She assured me that yes, I had indeed won.

It was just another reminder to me that my guardian angel might, in fact, still like me.

I've had another nagging feeling of late, and it wasn't until today that I've figured out what to do about it.

I had an amazing offer from the people involved with Despicable Me. I am able to give away to TWO winners a prize pack that includes tee shirts, a hat, balloons, pencil with Minion top and a Moo-Can. Now who doesn't need a Moo-Can???

The issue to me became, how can I do this giveaway? What do I want? I couldn't think of anything. (Besides a book deal, a billion dollars, everyone to add money to the Paypal button, get me a thousand more followers, oh hell, I could go on and on.) However, I was really, in my heart, wondering if there was perhaps someone else that might need something.

As I began wondering who I could help, I was contacted by Kevin from Always Home and Uncool about an amazing opportunity to help the JM Foundation. They are in the running to receive an amazing amount of money for their cause. All that is needed is a vote. One little vote. Every single day, of course, but it's very painless and very worth your time.

So, in order to win this package from Despicable Me, you have to do one tiny thing.

Vote for Cure JM here.

Tweet about voting for Cure JM.

Oh, and if you BLOG about this contest, you get like a gazillion more entries.

If you vote daily, you can enter this contest daily. Easy as pie. I will close the contest on July something or other (July 31). Come back, let me know that you voted and tweeted - and you are entered again. I will do the RANDOMIZER - and I do not mean that I will throw your name off the deck and see which one lands in the dog poop. Last time I did that it was disgusting. And I had more than one winner. (What are the odds?)

So, do your good deed for the day and vote. It won't hurt a bit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Long summer days, laughter and frozen Pop-Tarts!

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Pop Tarts.

During the summer months, many of the families in our tiny town of Smythe, Oregon, take their children to a place called Sawyer’s Dam. It’s only about 6 miles east of town, right off the main road. After you make the turn and follow the original wooden sign, you have to travel about a mile and a half through the deep woods (along a very muddy, rocky and windy dirt road) to the special spot.

It’s a public park, with plenty of picnic tables; a few pavilions; public restrooms; a small snack bar and some boats that are available for rent!

The most compelling feature of Sawyer’s Dam, of course, is the beautiful water and fake sandy beach! On a beautiful summer’s day, it’s not hard to imagine that you are just a breath away from heaven.

I was remember all those summers past when B, Sassy and Golden Boy would all invite friends and we would have weekly “meetings” at the damn. Last week when I packed the Boy up with several of his friends, I remember the one thing that has accompanied us for these last 15 years of summer fun.

Frozen Pop-Tarts. I am not kidding!

A friend that I teach with here at Smythe Elementary School introduced me to frozen Pop-Tarts. She had spied our pantry shelves on day when we had arranged a play date for the kids.

“We love Pop-Tarts, too!” she said, “But we love to freeze them!”

Well, I’ve been doing it ever since, and taking them in a cooler with us when we make our treks to the Sawyer’s Dam.

So this summer, as I volunteer to drive the kids to the Dam for what will probably be the last season that I’ll be needed, I will remember the frozen Cherry Pop-Tarts for the Jack and Sam, and the frozen Brown Sugar Cinnamon for The Golden Boy.

And the smiles on their faces as they open the cooler and dig in? It takes my breath away every single time.

What’s one of your family’s Pop-Tart summer activities? Go over to BlogHer and share for YOUR chance to win a $100 gift card.

Now, where’s that cooler?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pop-Tarts pop into the classroom!

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Pop Tarts.

The kids were overjoyed when Frank brought in the snack last week. “Pop-Tarts!” they all yelled in unison. “We LOVE Pop-Tarts!”

It’s the little things that make five and six year olds happy; and things that have even the TINIEST hint of sugar are one of them.

“Do you know why they call them Pop-Tarts, Mrs. Smythe?” asked Susie. “Because when they’re done warming up, they POP out of the toaster!” And with a big grin she bit right into the Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tart that she held lovingly.

“I think Pop-Tarts are so healthy and a great snack because they have a healthy crust! That’s the healthy PART.” Michael shouted to me, shooting a mouthful of healthy crusty crumbs across the table as he spoke.

“Mrs. Smythe, do you think you could make a sandwich out of Pop-Tarts? I mean, you could put a Pop-Tart on one side, and then lettuce and turkey and cheese and ANOTHER Pop-Tart and eat it!” Jenny said enthusiastically!

The discussion about Pop-Tarts had me laughing all night, and it made me wonder about what we COULD do with Pop-Tarts and a little imagination.

Tightwad and The Golden Boy were on cloud nine when we received a shipment of Pop-Tarts in the mail to sample. In their hearts and minds, Pop-Tart is one of the MAJOR food groups.

“Mom, you know you can have them for breakfast, a snack, or lunch or a snack, or after DINNER for a snack. You KNOW they work anytime.” We decided to try to come up with something awesome for our annual Fourth of July party, and I was to experiment with them.(Pretty brilliant on THEIR part, I might add.)

After discussing the various possibilities with my two “boys” and the enthusiastic children at snack time, I was convinced I had to try my own experiment. There were many recipes for me to think about, but on the advice of Alec the boy wonder, I made “Alec’s Pop-Tart Sandwiches.”However, I used my own twist.

I started with two of the Vanilla Ice Cream Shoppe Pastries, put some softened vanilla ice cream between them, and put them in the freezer overnight. The next day for an after dinner treat I took them out, cut them in half, and served them as an ice cream sandwich.

I am now considered not only the best mom in the world, but the all time dessert maker. I’m still waiting for my tiara.

Blogher is offering a great opportunity for you from Pop-Tarts! If you have a great idea, a recipe or simply a favorite flavor, let us know. This chance to win a $100 gift card is too good to pass up!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Even the teacher needs candy once in a while...

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Werther's.

The conversation started innocently enough when my little Sally stood in front of me and said, matter of factly,

"Mrs Smythe, I have an Aunt Megan. She is gonna have a baby!"

I replied with an enthusiastic smile, said, "You must be so excited to be getting a cousin!!"

"I sure am! And Mrs. Smythe, are YOU gonna have a baby? Cause your belly looks just like hers!!"

Fortunately I've been teaching for 20 years, so this little comment made me chuckle and smile, as I reassured my little Sally that I was NOT, in fact, going to be adding to my own family. Even though the comment didn't hurt my feelings, it DID make me think.

If this little darling noticed my tummy, then surely it was time to do something about it.

Oh sure, running around the school chasing, teaching and playing with 5 year-olds is certainly a form of activity, but obviously I needed something more.

I changed my eating habits (with the help of my nutrition/major daughter); started going to the gym, and replaced the chocolates I kept stashed in my teacher closet!

Anyone who works with children KNOWS that every teacher has a stash of chocolate. It's part of our survival kits, and is the FIRST thing we go for after the kids have left the room!!!

I was thrilled when I saw that Werther's had come up with a delicious, delicious alternative!!!! They've been making sugar free candy since 2004, but now have two new awesome flavors -Caramel Mint AND Caramel Coffee! You can find the different varieties here.

And now I DO get the pick me up I need, and have lost five pounds in the last three weeks.

I've cut back on portions, I am exercising more, I am drinking a lot of water, and I STILL get my treat at the end of the day.

So far, it's a winning combo. And I'll keep you posted on what Sally thinks by the end of the year. It better be good!!

Have you tried them? Let me know which flavor is YOUR favorite!

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Werther's.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Have you ever Died and Gone to Heaven? Well, Dove is there!

Time check: 8:30 a.m.

I tie John's, Zack's, Ben', and Susie's shoes.

I help Mark get his backpack open; the zipper is helplessly stuck.

I look inside Taylor's mouth to see her loose tooth. And then Kelly's. And then Jacob's.

I try to find Jacob's folder that he thinks he left in the nurse's room when he frew up five minutes ago.

I help Shanya stop crying long enough to tell me she forgot her lunch on the bus.

I help Jack fix his broken belt because without it his pants are falling down.

I help Tamisha try to find her library book that she SWORE she put on the front table four minutes ago.

I try to stop Andre from kissing Jasmine because she told him that if he didn't she wouldn't be his friend anymore.

Time check: 8:40.

Time for a tiny piece of a Dove Peanut Butter Silky Smooth Chocolate Promises. I have to say in ALL honesty ( and not cause they're paying me - even though they ARE) that these chocolates are the most incredibly tasting things I've had in a long, long time.

It lifts me up, it give me energy and puts a SMILE back on my face.

Plus, it's made me the most popular teacher on my floor. Now, help me find a new place to hid the stash...

"I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of DOVE and received samples DOVE Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter products and a gift certificate to facilitate my review."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pepsi not only TASTES GOOD, but it IS good.

I am a teacher, a mother, and of late - a writer. I write from the heart, and because I love it. I am NOT doing it to earn a living or to make money. (However, i would NOT turn money DOWN. I'm not crazy, people.) What I'm trying to say is that I DO get approached often to blog about products or organizations, or causes. I only do it when it SPEAKS to me, or when it is something close to my heart.

As teacher, I am always on the lookout for opportunities that will benefit the children in my class, or my school. Fortunately, we have been recipients of many cool grants, JUST because we took the time to fill out the information - and formulate a plan. It's SO worth it, when you see the children in your school benefit from these generous grants.
Here is an opportunity from Pepsi for kids, and PARENTS!!! Here, I think that Lauren tells about it best.

(This is an interview with Lauren Hobart, Mom and CMO of Sparking Brands at Pepsi.)

Why is Pepsi Refresh Unique?
The program is unique because it puts the power in the hands of the consumer. Individuals submit their ideas and then the nation votes on the idea that moves them the most. This is done in a very ground up way. Essentially, we’ve democratized the process.

What are some exciting ideas you hope to see submitted through the PRP this year? We’re excited to see the range of ideas that are submitted through the program. There are six different categories, and we want ideas across all of them. So far we’ve seen a fantastic response to the program. Within the first week we received over 1000 ideas, which came from every state and every age group.

As a Mom what types of lessons do you hope children learn by getting involved in community projects?
Parents want to instill good values in their children and encourage them to act on their ideas and beliefs. As a Mom myself, I’ve shared this program with other moms in my community and have found that it sparks a cord with everyone. I’ve also seen my own children get very excited about it. I think it just feels right to them.

What is your advice for moms that have ideas about refreshing their communities? What level of grant is idea? How should they craft their submissions?
First figure out the size and scope of the idea. Most individuals should opt for the $5000 grant, but it really depends on the idea and who you’ll be working with to bring it to action. People should also remember that winning comes with the responsibility to bringing you idea to life. If you need inspiration, there are example ideas on the Pepsi Refresh website to help get you started as well as a toolkit that guides you through the application process.

Who are the ideal grant applicants?
There isn’t really an ideal applicant. Anyone over 13 and a US resident can submit an application for the program. That said, people who are tapped into many different networks and able to promote and share their ideas once submitted may have the best chance of success.

Who should be involved in the submission process? If my child has an idea, should she submit it, or should LinkI, or should her teacher help?
Young children, particularly those under 13 years old, should work with parents or teacher. Pepsi Refresh offers an amazing opportunity for a teaching moment with parents since you can get your kids to think about what impact they can have how they can make a difference. The program can get them engaged, thinking and talking about their impact on the world in a whole new way.

For more information about this AMAZING program, please go here.
I am encouraging anyone and EVERYONE to take advantage of this amazing opportunity!! I am her to tell you that people DO get grants- every single day.

I am here to attest to that. ( Me, and the 25 little cherubs who will be planting glow labs in about ONE MONTH.)

Do it.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Pepsi Refresh. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.