Dec 31, 2012

Wishing You a Happy Healthy New Year


Did you make any resolutions?  What are they?

Dec 30, 2012

Keeping New Years Eve Traditions

Every year I swear I am going to do something 'special' for New Years Eve.  In my thirty plus years I've never gone out for NYE.  A couple times I've had people over or gone to a friends, but part of e wants to experience the hype of a big party, in true New Years Eve fashion.  But every year those visions slip away and it creeps up on me with no special plans at all. 

This year is no exception.  I haven't even considered what we'll eat tomorrow.  I still need to go to the store for weekly necessities so I'm hoping inspiration hits early on in the day so I can get some stuff to make it at least a little special. Since I plan to get focused on weight loss again this week I'm going to make NYE a last splurge.  I'm thinking to get a little variety and hopefully not go totally overboard, I'm going to do appetizers.  I found some great ideas from Hormel..

Turn an ordinary biscuit into a more sophisticated appetizer by filling a mini biscuit  with a delicious mixture of Hormel® pepperoni minis, cheese, tomato, mayonnaise and pesto to create Italian Pepperoni Bites

With a preparation time of less than 15 minutes, Chicken and Salsa Tortilla Bites are quick and tasty bite-size wraps that don’t require any baking. Simply combine Hormel® chunk breast of chicken, a vegetable cream cheese of your choice, and CHI-CHI'S® thick & chunky salsa, spread on a tortilla, wrap up and enjoy!

Give your appetizer selection a bit of upscale flair with these Bacon and Blue Cheese Crostinis. Elegant and flavorful, each crostini is a mouthful of generous portions of bacon and cheese. 

If you have any favorite appetizer recipes, I'd love to hear them!!

Disclosure: In the spirit of full-disclosure, I’ve partnered with Hormel Foods as part of the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger Program. Throughout the year I’ll be receiving product, coupons, giveaways and promotions. However, no payment was given or expected for posting about the program, and as always, all opinions given here are fully my own

Dec 26, 2012

Christmas Fun w/Linky Wordless Wednesday #WW

We had a great Christmas with lots of gifts and time with family!
The boys got COAL (technically it was chocolate) and that's really what they deserved after their behavior the last week.

But they still got all this too...



Timmy is IN LOVE with his Kindle Fire!!

Everyone (young and not so young) loved the Perplexus(es) the boys got!  
(I didn't even know there are three different ones now)

And they each got a super soft and squishy stuffed animal.  Bryan's is almost as big as he is.



Bryan and I piled the stuffed animals together and snuggled. Until I brought out the phone for some photos...then it got all goofy....



 Hope you had a great Christmas too!!!



Link up below so I can stop by and visit!

Dec 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Dec 23, 2012

Let's Fight Holiday Fat Together

In the holiday season it's easy to fall off the weight loss wagon.  It is so hard to resist many holiday treats.  From homemade cookies to eggnog, Christmas is not exactly a low fat holiday.  If you're like so many people, you're already thinking about how you'll resolve to be healthier in the new year.   But that doesn't mean you should just throw all sensibility to the wind.  But you can enjoy your holiday as long as you're mindful of your eating and continue to exercise you'll be ahead of the game come January 1!


I've found some great helpful tips, recipes and exercises online at Let's Fight Holiday Fat.  Here are some of my favorites:

Don’t attend a party starving (from Heathy Tips for Staying Lean During the Holidays)

If your calendar tends to fill-up with holiday parties during the month of December and you are worried about sticking to your healthy eating routine, don’t go to the parties when you haven’t eaten anything for hours.  If you are really hungry, you will tend to eat anything you can get your hands on, which will leave you overeating in no time!  Instead, have a small healthy snack before you go, such as an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter, yogurt with some fruit, or a quarter cup of almonds. When you arrive at the party, practice portion control, choosing a small (handful) size of your favorite foods, or if you must, of all the menu items, so you get a little taste of everything. By practicing proper portion control, you will be able to enjoy your favorite foods, without depriving yourself. 

I've found this to be a huge help in my own weight loss journey.  It's surprising how many times you can arrive at a party truly hungry.  It makes it so  hard to resist often high calorie appetizers.  If you're not feeling deprived it's much easier to just give the special treats a little taste rather than over indulging in unhealthy choices. 

 Another great idea is to make a dish of your own to share.  This way you know what you're eating and can count on having at least one healthy option.  If you could use some inspiration, check out the recipes here.

Stress Relief (from How to Have a Healthy Holiday)

Eating right and exercising will play a big part in keeping holiday stress at bay. Keeping stress levels low  also helps prevent weight gain. However, if the stress creeps in, there are several strategies you can use to relax. 

Say No: Don’t feel pressured to say yes to every invitation. Or, make a brief appearance at a celebration and then go home to relax. Your friends and family will appreciate having a happier, more relaxed you, even if that means skipping a party or two. 

Time vs Money:  If a lack of time is a stressor during the holidays, fork over a bit of extra cash to have someone wrap gifts for you or clean the house before guests arrive. If money is tight, get creative and make homemade gifts or send a thoughtful, handwritten card. 

Remember Your Values: Find ways to remind yourself what the holiday season is really about – giving and enjoying others’ company. Volunteer at a homeless shelter with your family. Take a minute to thank someone for their help. Pause to take a few deep breaths and know the stress will pass. 

I don't know about you, but I'm a big stress eater.  This is something I've been working hard at changing.  If you're a stress eater you'll want to find a stress reducer that works for you.  I find exercising a great stress relief but sometimes when you're feeling down its hard to get motivated to move.  Try finding a partner to help support you in your journey.  I've found that a little kick in the pants from a friend telling me "you'll feel better if you just do it" really can make the difference some days.  If you really can't find it in yourself to shake the stress for a workout, you might try something else that relaxes you.  For me this can be anything from a long hot shower to reading or watching mindless TV.  But controlling stress with the tips above will go a long way in helping you feel better this season.

When it comes to exercise you'll want to find something that you truly enjoy doing.  For some people that's running, many love Zumba, but I love a great strength workout.  I found some great ones at Let's Fight Holiday Fat.

If you could use some help staying on track sign up for Let's Fight Holiday Fat for great exercises, recipes and other tips.
I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for alli. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

Celebrate with a Christmas Ice Cream Cake from Baskin-Robbins

Christmas is full of traditions.  Many of us will hustle and bustle these last few days before the holidays to be sure we do all the things that make Christmas FEEL like Christmas to us.  I love some of the traditions I had with my family growing up but when I started my own family I haven't kept all my parents traditions going, and I've started many of my own with my kids.  Sometimes its good to try something new, even in a very traditional season.  You never know what you might miss if you're not open to new things.  For instance these adorable and tastey new ice cream cakes available at Baskin-Robbins, the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty shops. Available now at participating Baskin- Robbins’ locations nationwide, these ho-ho-holiday cakes make for perfect gifts or delectable additions to any holiday party. Guests can customize each cake by choosing their favorite ice cream flavor, including December’s Flavor of the Month, Mint Chocolate Chip, a classic flavor featuring mint-flavored ice cream with semi-sweet chocolate chips. 


The eye-catching holiday cakes feature a unique dome shape available from Baskin-Robbins. The fanciful holiday designs include:
• Snowman Cake: Get into the holiday season with this holly jolly snowman cake, made with a layer of cake and any ice cream flavor. 
• Santa Cake: Complete your collection with the Santa Cake. This treat will be the life of the party and can serve as the centerpiece for any holiday celebration. 
• Elf Cake: For any dessert table in need of a little extra help, the Elf Cake is a delicious addition that can be customized with a layer of cake and any of Baskin-Robbins’ ice cream flavors. 

Baskin-Robbins’ Snowman, Santa and Elf cakes each serve 8-12 people and have a suggested retail price of $26.99 during the month of December. (My location was selling for $23.99.)

For guests looking for a smaller treat, Baskin- Robbins is also offering Snowman and Snow Woman Individual Treats.  Guests can pick their favorite Baskin-Robbins flavor and turn it into a snowman almost too cute to eat. The Snowman and Snow Woman Individual Treats are available at participating Baskin-Robbins shops and have a suggested retail price of $2.49.

Still need some last minute stocking stuffers?  Why not give the gift of ice cream with a Baskin-Robbins gift card? Gift cards can be purchased in any amount between $2 and $100 at participating Baskin-Robbins shops or online at www.BaskinRobbins.com and never expire. 

We recently stopped by our local Baskin-Robbins and picked up the adorable Elf Cake.  The boys LOVED it.  It was recommended that we call ahead and order but I wasn't totally sure when I would have the time to stop by to pick it up so I just went and bought from what they had premade.  They had this Elf Cake and a Santa Cake in the freezer ready made.  I try to limit the amount of artificial red coloring the boys get so I opted for the Elf and we were not disappointed.

 

I grew up having ice cream cakes regularly for birthdays and we often found that they could be really difficult to cut right out of the freezer.  But I didn't even think about that when I pulled this one out and cut it right away.  It cut easily.  If you have trouble let the cake sit for a few minutes or run your knife under hot water.  I think the frosting would have cut cleaner if I'd have let it sit out of the freezer for a little bit.  It was fairly messy cutting it full frozen but what can I say, when it comes to ice cream, I'm rarely patient.

I have to admit it feels a little weird cutting to somethings head but once I cut the first piece above and it couldn't look me in the eye anymore, it got easier! And it was so worth it.  Since we bought a premade one we didn't get to customize it with our choice of flavors but that's probably best in our family since the only thing we can agree on when it comes to ice cream is that we LOVE ice cream.  This cake was vanilla ice cream and chocolate cake.  A great simple, delicious combo! I'm not sure I could have done any better if I'd have designed it.


For whatever reason our store didn't have any of the individual snowman treats so we opted for these individual sized treats.


These were made with Oreo ice cream and chocolate cake and they were soooo delicious.  I love these because they're portion controlled.  I didn't think to get a shot with one of them with something for size comparison but they were probably an inch tall, an inch wide and a couple inches long. 

Stop by Baskin-Robbins for a holiday ice cream cake and start some traditions with your family today!!


Follow Baskin-Robbins on Facebook: www.facebook.com/baskinrobbinsUS  and Twitter: @BaskinRobbins
I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Baskin-Robbins. I received a gift card to facilitate my shopping experience and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Dec 22, 2012

Treat Cold Sores with Abreva

The holidays mean time with family and that means lots of photo opps.  But nothing can dampen your desire to smile more than a cold sore. 

I've suffered from cold sores for as long as I can remember.  The worst part for me has always been that because they would often pop up when I was stressed out, they would come at the worst possible time.  Nervous about a speech in high school...COLD SORE.  Anxious about a promising interview...COLD SORE.  Excitedly apprehensive about a first date...COLD SORE.  And of course these are all events where you want to look and feel your best but it's almost impossible to do so with a cold sore.


Thankfully as adult I seem to have fewer stress inducing events.  But I still get them when I let myself get run down and worn out from every day stress.  And while it never feels good to go out with a cold sore, some are worse than others.  Sometimes I will get a small cold sore that is almost completely unnoticable but I can always feel it.  For the most part I've gotten over being so self conscious that I won't go places with a cold sore.  But these days my bigger worry is trying not to pass them to my kids.

I know I started getting cold sores early in childhood.  And I'm sure I got them from my own mom, who also suffered from them her whole life.  This is typically the same for most of the 80 million Americans who suffer from cold sores.  It's estimated that 90% of adults have been infected with the virus but only 20-40% actually develop cold sores, which left untreated go through 5 stages during their 7-10 day course, and can sometimes last for up to 2 weeks.
 
For most of my childhood and teens years there was very little to be done with the highly contagious annoyances of cold sores except trying not to spread it (by limiting personal contact such as kissing or sharing drinks or utensils) and waiting for them to heal.  When Abreva came out I was thrilled.  You can usually find some in my purse and my desk at work.  If I use it as soon as I start to feel the telling tingle I can sometimes avoid an outwardly visible breakout all togetherBut even if I do get a visible cold sore Abreva DOES shorten the time it takes to heal and all without the discomfort of some of the old school treatments I had used when I was young.

Why Abreva?
Other brands claim to heal cold sores as fast as Abreva® and may even imitate the packaging. These "look- alike" cold sore treatments tout healing claims, but Abreva® is the only pharmacist recommended over-the-counter medication approved by the FDA that is proven to shorten healing time and duration of cold sore symptoms by penetrating deep to the root and blocking the spread of the virus to healthy cells.


Abreva® is recommended for adults and children 12 years and over  Apply Abreva® directly to your cold sore, at the first sign of a tingle, redness, bump or itch five times a day until your cold sore is healed, for a maximum of 10 days.  Remove any cosmetics prior to applying Abreva®. If you wish, you can apply cosmetics such as lipstick over Abreva®. To avoid spreading the infection, always use a separate applicator, like a cotton swab, to apply cosmetics to an unhealed cold sore.  And always wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after treating your cold sore.
Next time you have a cold sore, try Abreva® risk free.  If you aren't completely satisfied with Abreva® for any reason, save your receipt and remaining product, and call 1-877-709-3539 to get your money back.


Abreva® heals cold sores fast and allows you to get back to all of life’s important moments, big and small this holiday season!
 
Disclaimer: I am participating in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Abreva, and received free product and compensation in return for my participation.

Support Verizon HopeLine This Holiday #VZWSM

click to learn more
This holiday season you can support Verizon’s fight against domestic violence.  Nearly one in four women, one in seven men, and over 3 million children have been affected by domestic violence. Wireless phones and technology can serve as a vital link to emergency or support services in a time of crisis or as a reliable, safe connection to employers, family and friends as survivors rebuild their lives.





Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Midwest Savvy Moms program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.”

Teenymates Perfect Stocking Stuffer for Your Football Fan

Now you can hold the NFL in the palm of your hand!
Just one inch tall, TeenyMates have burst onto the scene as the official pocket-size players for all your favorite NFL teams. But don’t let their size fool you. TeenyMates are BIG FUN for kids, collectors and sports fans of all ages. Trade and play and collect ‘em all! Now available from Party Animal Toys. PLUS - Keep a lookout for more leagues coming soon.

If your kids love football these great collectible figures are perfect.  Collect all the teams and also puzzle pieces to complete your very own pint sized football field.
I was worried about how my Chicago Bears lovin' son would feel about opening a package and finding a less appealing team but even when we discovered a "yucky Packers guy" in one of our packages, all the boys that it was great because 'they would lose for sure'.

Although we already have the full field (courtesy of Party Animal Toys) we are still missing many of the other teams so the boys will be getting some Teenymates in their stockings this Christmas.

Disclosure: Teenymates were provided to our family for review purposes but we have not been compensated for a positive review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own honest, personal feedback.


Dec 21, 2012

Make Time for a Meal Together with Darden Restaurants This Holiday Season

This holiday season among the hustle and bustle it is important not to forget the real reason for the season.  Sometimes that means taking a break and just refocusing.  One good way to do this is getting together for a family meal.  If you will be hosting a holiday meal give yourself a chance to sit down and be served before the big day.  Grab the family and head out to a favorite restaurant and relax for a bit.  This may even give you a chance to go over plans with your family and how everyone will be expected to help pitch in.

I admit, I won't be hosting Christmas dinner and other than having a mountain of presents to wrap and having to bake a few cookies for the jolly one, I don't have too much left I HAVE to do.  But we still plan to get out this weekend and spend some checking out Christmas lights.  I hope this tour ends with us close to Olive Garden so I can enjoy a nice meal with the family before I stay up into the wee hours wrapping gifts.  If only I could find the gift card I KNOW I already have...
 
If you're looking for something special to buy ME for Christmas, I can always use another Darden gift card.  Two of my favorite restaurants are part of the Darden group.  And I've never been to the others as I'm not aware of any of them near by but based on my love of Olive Garden and Red Lobster I would guess that I'd love them too.  I love getting gift cards as gifts, since they are always the right size and never have to be returned.  I especially love restaurant gift cards because it means I can take the family out to dinner without feeling guilty.  I don't think there is anything better than the gift of guilt free family time!

Which of the Darden restaurants is YOUR favorite?


For a limited time this holiday season, customers can receive a $5 bonus coupon* for every $25 gift card purchased at Olive Garden, Red Lobster or LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants. Visit the Darden gift card website to get yours today!  *Bonus card is valid 1/1/13 – 2/13/13 for $5 off the purchase of two adult entrĂ©es.






Olive Garden


LongHorn Steakhouse






For a limited time this holiday season, customers can receive a $5 bonus coupon* for every $25 gift card purchased at Olive Garden, Red Lobster or LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants. Visit the Darden gift card website to get yours today!




*Bonus card is valid 1/1/13 – 2/13/13 for $5 off the purchase of two adult entrĂ©es.


I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Darden. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

#momentforSandyHook

Get Help with Madware from Norton Spot

We all know that we have to protect our PC's from viruses and malware but is your smartphone protected?  Recently my boss and I were chatting about this exact issue.  Ironically the very next day I got an email about Norton Spot and madware.




Norton Spot will help you find and remove madware from your Android phone (Madware only affects Android phones).  So I got right on downloading Norton Spot to each of my Android phones.

This is what it should look like within the PlayStore.


 This is what you'll get once you open the app.  Hit "Spot Them!" to get started.

 Waiting...

Here's what Norton Spot found on my phone.





Just one of the many popular apps that Norton Spot found to be of medium potential annoyance.



If you regularly download apps, especially free apps, you'll be familiar with madware (aggressive mobile adware).  For the most part it is just a mild annoyance from things like pop up ads.  But depending on the app it may be collecting information as well.  For me the biggest issue I've personally had with madware is when ads popup while my kids are using my phone.  These ads often have a way to close them but its not always very obvious.  This can lead to whining or frustration.  But I had never considered that the apps were also collecting personal information including location info.  This doesn't make me quite so nervous for me as it would if my kids were using android based smart phones.  For now I've decided that some of the apps I have are worth keeping despite their mild 'annoyance' level.  But I did remove several that I hadn't been using anyway or didn't like.  It definitely doesn't hurt to check and see what kind of apps you have in your Android smart phone!  Its as easy as downloading Norton Spot now!

Thanks to Norton Spot I have included a ton of great info on madware in case you were as uninformed as I was!  


What is madware?
· Madware, or aggressive mobile adware, uses aggressive techniques to place advertising in your Android device’s photo albums, calendar entries and push messages to your notification bar. Madware can even go so far as to replace your ringtone with an ad.


· The percentage of apps containing madware has exploded. Norton recently
analyzed 1.5 million apps and saw a 210 percent increase in the number of apps including madware.

· Some of the most unsuspecting popular apps are known to include madware, such as:
○ Brightest Flashlight Free is an ultra-bright app that allows you to use your
phone as a flashlight. However, the app pushes alerts for things like dating
sites to your notification bar – which can be annoying and potentially
embarrassing.
○ Zedge offers free ringtones, themes and wallpaper. Similar to Brightest
Flashlight Free, it pushes alerts to your notification bar.
○ Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space from Rovio are two of the top ten
madware offenders.


Why should you care?
· More and more kids are using smartphones and, as a result, at increased risk for encountering madware. According to a recent article from the Harvard Business Review as well as the PEW Research Center:
○ 6 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds have their own smartphone
○ 50 percent of 11 year olds have own cell phone
○ 23 percent of teens have smartphone
· PEW Research Center also found that parents of teen smartphone owners are no more or less likely than other parents to use parental controls to manage their child’s mobile use and mobile internet use, increasing the likelihood that teens are downloading apps infected with madware.
 

What can I do?
· Norton Spot is Norton’s app solution for madware. Norton Spot is an ad detector and scanner of advertising networks that can spam your device via apps you install.

○ The app is free to download and is available in the Google Play app store for
Android devices.
○ Norton Spot helps you identify apps that don’t respect your privacy and
remove them. If you think an app is asking for suspicious permissions, it’s
always best to do some quick research on your own online to see if this app
has had other privacy concerns, has been associated with madware.

 

Other Tips
· When installing new mobile apps, it’s important to always read the “fine-print” to make sure you know exactly what app will have access to on your smartphone to make an informed decision about downloading it.
· Norton created MobileSecurity.com as a brand-agnostic website designed to be a resource for consumers to learn about the latest trends and resources in mobile security.
 

Interesting Statistics
· According to Norton research, 24 percent of all free apps make money by
displaying ads, an increase of 31 percent from nine months ago.
· Forty-nine percent of all free apps that display ads within the app use madware.
· Apps that include madware grew by 210 percent from nine months ago.
· Norton noticed a 50 percent increase in total permissions required by free gaming apps over the past year. This means, for example, that apps are more frequently collecting location coordinates, allowing SMS messages to be sent without consent and installing desktop shortcuts.
· The average app contains two ad networks but some contain as many as 17.
· Lesser known apps can bring big madware annoyances. Less popular apps (less than 250,000 installs) are 135 percent more likely to contain the worst forms of madware.




I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Norton. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips Review

 If you're not whitening, you're yellowing.  That's a sobering statement but its true, when it comes to your teeth, you can take precautions to avoid a yellow smile, but over time, your smile can yellow from everyday activities such as drinking coffee or indulging in your favorite meal. I haven't smoked in over 10 years and I have never drank coffee or wine (I have been hugely addicted to Pepsi in the past though) but a year or two ago I noticed that my teeth didn't look so white anymore.  I have tried multiple whitening toothpastes in hopes of getting my pearly whites back but saw minimal improvement.

I always thought about using whitening strips but I worried about tooth sensitivity, how long it would take, how complicated it was or if it would even really work.  When I was offered the chance to try out Crest 3D White Professional Effects I jumped at it.  Now was my chance to see if whitening strips really could improve my smile.


Before the first use, I read the instructions thoroughly (something I don't admittedly do most of the time) because I was still nervous about tooth sensitivity.  The directions were pretty short and sweet.  Seemed simple enough so I jumped right in.  Oh but not before I took a before photo.  You'll have to forgive the cleanliness of my teeth in the before photo as the directions clearly said not to brush prior to use.  Once I had my embarrassingly extreme close up photo, I applied my Crest 3D strips for 30 minutes.  I was surprised that there wasn't much taste to the strips and they weren't unpleasant to wear for the 30 minutes at all.  With Crest 3D Whitestrips advanced seal no-slip technology that help them conform to your teeth they really do stay on easily with no mess.  I have been using the Whitestrips for over a week and haven't had the slightest bit of tooth sensitivity (sensitivity will vary this is simply MY personally experience visit 3dwhite.com for full details) thanks to the same enamel-safe ingredient that dentist use.  The instructions state 'notable results in 3 days, full results in 20 days' but at first I didn't see any whitening results though I did think my teeth felt cleaner.  But after a week when I still didn't really see the difference, I decided it was time for a side by side comparison so I took a new photo.

What do YOU think?  I think I definitely have a ways to go (which I do!) but I am happy with how its going since I'm just over a third of the way there.  I plan to keep using them for the full 20 days and will update with a photo of my final results.  

 

Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips remove over 10 years of set-in stains and whiten 25X better than the leading toothpaste.




I participated in this campaign for One2One Network. I received product to facilitate my review and by posting, I am eligible for incentives. All opinions stated are my own.



Dec 20, 2012

You Can't Possibly Understand If You've Never Been There

Photo credit: grietgriet from morguefile.com


I just finished reading "EXCLUSIVE: Fear of being committed may have caused Connecticut gunman to snap" and I while I want to make it perfectly clear that I don't feel that there is any excuse for the terrible tragedy that happened Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, I need people know that we can't just label Adam Lanza a monster and call for better gun control.  There is a real issue here and the problem is that the people who get it, who truly understand are either unable to or terrified to speak out about the reality of mental health issues.

I can tell you this because of my own experience.  I have struggled with clinical depression off and on since my teens.  I have written about my suicide attempts here on my blog before but what I haven't shared is that I've struggled again recently.  It's so hard to explain to someone who hasn't been there what it feels like to battle the demons that tell you you need to end it all, that the ones you love are better off without you and your issues in their lives.  It is impossible to explain to someone who hasn't been there how you feel when your brain begins to tell you that you could easily drive your car into a tree on a dark, rainy night and it would look like an accident, still allowing your survivors to collect your life insurance.  Mental illness isn't something you can talk someone out of.  You can't convince someone that they simply need to get a grip, or look on the bright side.  Yes its irrational.  Yes they have so much to live for but that's just not how it works. Mental illness isn't something that only affects the less fortunate, but it sometimes takes those who are blessed and makes them unable to maintain a normal life.  I can't speak to the evil that makes someone commit a mass murder I have never had even the slightest inkling to hurt someone else.  But I have literally been over taken with the fear of being committed because of my mental health state.  I didn't talk about my most recent battle for this exact reason.  I've been on the other side and been worried about someone else and it can seem so easy to just say, you should get the help you need, but when it's you it really is all about fear.  I was CONVINCED that if I was honest with anyone about the things going on in my head that my kids would be taken from me.  The idea of being hospitalized was literally terrifying.  It is truly indescribable.

Again, I say this doesn't release Adam Lanza from the responsibility of what he did.  But the reality is that we can sit back and think about what a horrible person he was but the reality is that he was likely a very sick person, who didn't get the help he needed and it led to a disgusting tragedy.  And sadly this is probably the case for a very large percentage of the crimes committed in our country.  I wonder what things would look like if we had a decent system in our country where people could get the help they need without the fear and judgement.  To live in a place where people understood what mental illness really does to people and how to get help for the people they love.

Yes we need to remember and honor those lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary (and I just posted about how you can be a part of their return to school here)!  Their lives matter and we must be sure that their families know we realize that.  And there is good reason to talk gun control and school safety, but the topic that in most ways is toughest is the one we most need to have.  We NEED to be talking about mental illness.  We need to know what to look for and how to help. And most of all we need to change how we view the people who suffer from mental health issues.

If you or someone you love is suffering this holiday season, please reach out for help. TODAY!

Rockettes' Radio City Christmas Spectacular Review


THE ROCKETTES TAKE CHICAGO ON AN UNPARALLELED
CHRISTMAS JOURNEY THIS HOLIDAY SEASON FEATURING
NEW SCENES, DAZZLING COSTUMES AND A 50-FOOT LED SCREEN COUPLED WITH SHOW STOPPING ROCKETTES PERFORMANCES


I'm not sure I can find the words to accurately discribe the beauty and enchantment I experienced last Friday night while watching the Rockettes at Akoo Theater with my boys.  It was truly breath taking and magical.  Between the costumes and the kicks there was also holiday joy and amazing stage design.  

Did I mention, I took my boys who are currently 10, 9 and almost 5.  I have to admit I was a little nervous about how much they'd enjoy the show.  Honestly, at 10 the oldest isn't yet into appreciating the beauty that is a Rockette.  But thankfully there was Santa and Christmas magic and awesome scenery so they all loved it.  Admittedly, probably not as much as this momma did but they enjoyed it nonetheless.  It made for a fabulous date night with just me and my little men and was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.


And there's still plenty of time to get tickets and see the show that runs until December 30th.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Ticket Information
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, presented by Chase, plays at the Akoo Theatre at Rosemont during the 2012 holiday season for 34 dazzling performances, December 14-30, 2012. A limited number of Premium seats are available for $79.00 - $89.00 and single ticket prices range from $30.00 - $75.50. Tickets for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular are on sale to the public at the Akoo Theatre at Rosemont box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Groups of 10 or more may reserve tickets now by contacting Group Theater Tix at 312-423-6612.

Disclosure: I have been provided with complimentary tickets in order to facilitate a show review. 

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

 
What a great activity to do with your own kids while they're on winter break.  Of course you can use your imagination and create your own personal designs.  But in case you need some inspirations I've put together a list of sties that have some super patterns!