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December 28, 2010

Choosing a Better Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Jimmy Dean, however the opinions and feelings expressed here are my own.

As the year draws to a close, I know I made some better for me choices in the past year. I also have made some much worse for me decisions in the past year. Mainly these circle around food. As well as I did feeding my mother and encouraging her to make better choices, my fervor for that melted down. Even in the midst of the fervor, I had a bit of late teen rebellion. (Oh come on, I am over 40 and my mother is living with me–that brings out the teen in anyone I think.) I have eaten junk and because we now have regular meals in this household EVERY DAY for the first time in almost a decade, I have also eaten not junk.

I put off exercise because hey, I was doing a lot of lifting, helping and pushing of wheelchair with a very large woman. Now she has lost the weight. I found it. She walks with the walker nearly everywhere now. She showers on her own. I am…sedentary. My doctor has fussed for years off and on about my cholesterol–this year she gave me 3 months to get my act together and I didn’t. Cholesterol meds entered my already full regimen of meds. Not a big deal but every time I take it, I realize THIS is a med I can avoid if I make better choices. Not only that, I will feel better and more myself.

My better choice for the new year is going to be to really think about what I am consuming and why–making more mindful choices. I need to not grab the bagel slathered in cream cheese (low fat doesn’t mean much when the guy puts a cup of it on the bagel), just because I can. I need to not slip a doughnut into a healthier spot in my life (and wonder why I feel tired and woozy after). Most of all, I need to think about my cheese habit–you know that one I used for years with the doctor when she would talk about red meat and I would say “Oh, I am mostly a vegetarian–it is the cheese.” Mostly vegetarian no longer applies and probably won’t as long as my mother and kids live at home. Eating garbage just makes me feel more grumbly.

Skipping breakfast altogether doesn’t work well for me either. But, I burned out on cold cereal and on oatmeal. I need to make better protein choices for that long sustained brain work I do and to work toward getting the cholesterol really down-well as much as other medical conditions allow. A good breakfast does get me off to a good start and a bad breakfast…well doesn’t. I won’t exercise. I won’t fly through work. I will grab a soda to perk me up and drink my calories. (another one of my faults)

I am trying out the Jimmy Dean D-Lights as one of those better choices. What better choices do you plan to make in the new year? Are you going to eat more mindfully? Exercise more?

Santa brought gifts to take away the “It’s too cold to exercise! excuse. So, exercise will be another of those choices.

Share your better choice for the New Year and you can win a $100.00 gift card in the Better Breakfast, Better you program.

Make sure that the e-mail address you leave is correct.

Rules:
No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d) Read the official rules for alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

Please click here for official rules.

Read what other BlogHers choose as their better choice this year and have more chances to win.
Visit the Exclusive Offers section
Visit the Official site

This sweepstakes runs from December 28, 2010 to January 30, 2011 and is only open to individuals who, at the time of entry deadline, are legal residents of the United States and are 18 years or older.  Winners will be randomly selected from all eligible entries.

December 6, 2010

Fisher-Price for Your Furbabies

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

Last summer, we glanced at the Fisher-Price booth at BlogHer. We have no kids of Fisher-Price age but their toys always attract us. But wait! There was something new–something special. Fisher Price was introducing DOG TOYS! Not only dog toys, but dog toys that looked like the chatterphone, the rocking stack and the xylophone we had loved. The toys hadn’t been released yet but we filed it away in our head. A few months ago, we stopped in Petsmart and there the toys were–on the shelf for anyone to get one.

I bought the Chatterpup telebone–not for my mom’s shih tzu or any of the children’s dogs, but for the prairie dogs. They loved it. The rope! The nice chewy plastic. Of course, there’s nothing cuter than three prairie dogs playing with a toy that looks like the ones that our now teens played with when they were tiny.

When Fisher-Price contacted me about a review, I confessed I had already BOUGHT a Chatterpup phone and the prairie dogs loved it, but I would write a review. In exchange, we received a xylobone (heading to Hawaii for our oldest child’s dog who eats remote controls on a regular basis), a ruff-a-stack (for a dog that boy child in Florida has–shh don’t tell), and a new Chatterpup Telebone. Yay for toys for all the pups in my life–ok so, none for my mother’s dog but shhh don’t tell. I like the other dogs better.

In any case, these toys are made of peanut butter scented plastic and are downright adorable. If you are a “furbaby” type or just like Fisher-Price toys (like us)–you can’t go wrong with one of these in your dog’s stocking. They come in a large size and a small size and you can find them at your local Petsmart or order them from Petsmart online.

What is going under the tree for your pets? Which Fisher-Price toy do you love the best?

November 27, 2010

Popchips Really Pop

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

In 2009, we went to BlogHer Food and in the swag we brought back to our room we found bags of popchips! We had never tried them, we weren’t even sure we wanted to try them. We have had some bad healthified snack food experiences. But, we wanted a snack and with popchips! at hand, we ate them and fell in love.

In 2010, we had boundless excitement that popchips! was one of the sponsors for the cocktail party the first night. You see, our commissary does not carry popchips! We need to go to the regular supermarket for them. Now, that might not seem like a big deal to you, but in this house–HUGE. Sometimes the regular stores run out of popchips, and more than once I have returned from a trip to the supermarket with no popchips in hand. They show up more and more though. Look for popchips when you go to the supermarket. The popchips website even has a store locator just in case you are worried.

Everyone knows that all popchips essentially belong to Denise, so the rest of the family tends to stay away from them. It’s hard though

We love the Salt and Pepper popchips and the Sea Salt and Vinegar popchips especially.

We love them for the taste but they also have a number of pluses like: many fewer calories than your standard potato chip, no trans fats, low saturated fat, no preservatives and no cholesterol.

You can imagine our delight when after BlogHer Food 2010, I received an email asking if I was interested in a review. Of course! We received a box with various flavors of popchips and coupons–some of which we used and some of which we shared with others to spread the popchip love. So, yes, this post is sponsored, however every word is my own opinion.

We shared some of the samples with my mother even! She instantly fell in love too. Oh no…another popchip lover in the house. Allegedly you can cook with popchips…but ours have never made it into a recipe.

So, go get some. Enjoy. They do perk up your day and are a better snack choice during this season of overindulgence and year-round.

October 23, 2010

Terra Chip Chicken

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

Terra Chips were at BlogHer10 and not long after the conference, we received a box of bags of Terra Chips from them with no explanation and certainly no request for a review. We have been eating quite a few of them…but not cooking with them. (despite the wickedly good creations served at the booth at BlogHer10.)

About the same time Denise received a copy of the “Simply Suppers” cookbook to review. I made the Grilled Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Sandwich out of it. (Absolutely sinfully yummy, but the pimento cheese is just as good pre-grilling.) The cookbook includes a recipe for Potato Chip Chicken Tenders, which gave me the idea for this altered recipe. In the future, I am going to skip the pre-frying step and just oven fry it–to save on some of the mess.

Since both the chips and book were freebies, I thought this should go on the review blog instead of my usual–but it isn’t a paid review–just free goodies and in both cases, I wasn’t even asked for a review.Note the recipe below deviates quite a bit from the original Potato Chip Chicken Recipe in the Simply Suppers book. It isn’t a BlogHer sponsored review either.

Everyone liked it quite a bit, some more than Cheese Nip Chicken but Cheese Nip Chicken still reigns as the favorite.

Terra Chip Chicken Tenders

1/2-3/4 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper
1/2-3/4 cup egg beaters (what I used) or 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 bag Terra Chips, crushed
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Vegetable oil, for frying (the step I will skip in the future, but included here since this is how I did it)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray

Place flour, salt and pepper in a plastic bag or in a shallow bowl.
Place egg beaters/eggs in shallow bowl.
Leave crushed chips in bag

Slice each chicken breast into strips. Flip them through the flour mixture. Dip in the eggs-let excess drip off. Then throw the strip in the chip bag and shake.

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, pour enough oil so that about 1/2-1 inch of oil covers the surface. Over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when sprinkled in the pot.

In batches cook the chicken until golden brown, flipping after about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to baking sheet and bake until chicken is cooked through 15-20 minutes.

I served with fresh Brussels sprouts lightly sauteed in butter with salt and pepper.

July 15, 2010

Caregiving: Surprise!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and Home Instead Senior Care.

In November of 2008, I got a call from my mother. The house she was renting an apartment in had fallen into foreclosure. My disabled sister and my mother need a new home within the month. She needed something inexpensive, wheelchair accessible and she had to have a deposit for settling into the new place.  It all sounded impossible. We recently had paid for a cleaning service to come in to clean the apartment, so that it could be inspected for safety before my sister could come home from the hospital. My mother and sister had no money. (How little would take months to determine!)

Instead, I flew to Denver, picked up a U-Haul, and loaded my mother and sister’s belongings into it. My mother and sister flew to Chicago—the plan being that they would stay with us until we found them an apartment nearby and they could save some money.  Instead my sister would have a seizure/stroke (I never was really clear which.) on landing in Chicago and ended up in the hospital followed by a nursing facility. It has been determined that she will need skilled nursing care for life.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was learning very fast that living with my mother in no way resembled the times she came and stayed before and after the births of my three children more than a decade earlier. I also learned that my mother really couldn’t live without significant help.

Surprise! Instead of being a caregiver who checked in by phone every day and brought groceries, meds, and meals over—I was a full-time caregiver.

The medications that filled the truck made my head swim.  There were boxes and boxes of them. Sorting out her schedule and dietary needs required thought. Sorting out the insurance took months of phone calls. Through all of this, I thought I would get the hang of it. Once x was done, things would go smoothly. Not always the case, but things are smoother now than they were 19 months ago.

Still, I can’t leave to run a long set of errands without making sure there is something for her to eat. I spend about 30 minutes each week putting her medications into little boxes for her to take. I shuttle her to doctor appointments and sit and take notes. I clean up messes. I have rearranged the house to make it easier for her to get around.  Sunday afternoons mean a trip to see my sister in the nursing facility-always with a “little something to cheer her up.” Those parts aren’t the hard parts really.

The hard part comes when I realize I do this for the mama she was, not the one she is now. There are days when she doesn’t remember which daughter I am or something she told me earlier. The days when she whines that I don’t spend enough time with her, take her enough places, don’t let her eat what she wants to eat, make me growl to myself.  Worse: her apologies for “being a burden.”

This frustrates me, saddens me, and sometimes causes me to react not unlike my 14-year-old daughter when she perceives her mother as being completely unfair. That does wonders for my relationship with my mother and with my partner; neither take my yelling acid tone well.

I love the fact that my kids and partner get to know my mother. I weep that they will never know my mama, the one who everyone who ever went to see the school nurse loved and confided in, the one who made fabulous meals, the one who sparkled at parties, the one who would drive her kids anywhere, the one  and sewed the best Halloween costumes ever.

Then there is this: we have often done weekend vacations. My partner and I work long hours from home and a weekend vacation is often the only thing we can budget for time-wise and work-wise. But, leaving my mother for a weekend means checking her into a hotel, making sure she has a fridge and microwave, packing her oxygen concentrator, the old clunky battery operated wheelchair, a large suitcase with meds, incontinence pads, food, clothes and getting her mentally ready to be on her own—sort of.

It is a not perfect solution. She refuses to have someone come in to take care of her while we are gone. She insists she can be left on her own. The first time we left her at the house for a weekend—she was fine. The second time, she fell and couldn’t get up. The house was locked. We were in Florida. She called me on her cell phone for help. I couldn’t help really. We would be flying home in a couple of hours. She didn’t want to call the ambulance. “How would they get in?” She didn’t believe me that the professionals had their ways.  I made some suggestions and she managed to get back into bed. I still shudder to think about it.

Now her meds are greatly reduced and she has lost 150 lbs since living here—and hasn’t fallen in months. (Knock on wood) That is an improvement, but I still don’t go anywhere without worrying about her. Walking out the door, whether for an hour or a day, means I need to plan for her; I need to either make sure she has everything she needs or take her with me and have everything she may need with me.

Caregiving is hard work. It isn’t just the physical pushing of the wheelchair and helping bathe and dress. It is balancing someone else’s schedule in your mind. It is learning to live with another member of the household. It is unpacking the last of the belongings and finding the lamp your mother has asked about every few days for the last 18 months and have her say “Oh, I forgot I had that!” and when you reply that she has asked about it repeatedly-have her suggest that you need to get a psych evaluation because she has never mentioned it.

I don’t need to worry though that I will get THAT call in the middle of the night and need to arrange flights. I still get time with Mama and that is precious–even though I grumble.

Of course, my experience isn’t the only one out there. I encourage you to read the other stories of caregiving linked on the BlogHer.com CLB exclusive offers page and nominate YOUR caregiving hero to win a cruise from Home Instead. You can even nominate yourself.

In the meantime-say hello and tell me about caregiving experiences in your life.

March 9, 2010

Connect on the Run!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Sprint

Most of you know by this point that I have been a momspotter for the past few months. Having to tweet a few times a day with the #momspotting hashtag about how I use technology in my day-to-day parenting life has caused me to take stock of how I do use technology to keep my life organized. I am a mom on the run and need and WANT to be connected with my kids.

Sprint has been a big part of that over the past few months-between a smart phone and a Sprint 4g card-I can work from anywhere. I can get an email from a child about a schedule change. I can then enter it into my calendar. I have that calendar synched between computers and drop a note to the children’s other parents-then they put it on their calendar.

I can tweet from a child’s event…or even from events without children. I can share pictures of anything with any of my family members-no matter what carrier they use. I can track down internet recipes while standing in the grocery store. No recipe? Texting someone at home can let me know if we do really need milk. Or I can keep a running list on a computer and synched on the netbook-which fits ever so nicely in the top of the shopping cart or if I carried one in a purse.

It is all fast and easy-and very simple to connect from anywhere. You know that dead spot inside the high school? The part of the building cell phones never work in? I was able to use my computer with 4 g card while waiting for a school concert to start-since the child had to be there an hour before concert start time but there was no point in driving back and forth. I could visit my sister in the assisted living facility and show her things online and order them-rather than her getting a stack of catalogs and circling things she wanted.

There are so many ways that being connected and paying attention to that connection has changed our life in the past few months-many for the better. Check out how other BlogHers have organized their life with the speed of the Sprint Now Network by visiting the BlogHer.com special offers page. There are 6 more chances for you to win when you participate in the other reviewer’s contests!

You can win a $300.00 Visa gift card by answering this question: How would you use the speed of the Sprint Now Network to help you stay organized and connected?

The contest will begin at 3/9/2010 and will end 3/31/2010. Make sure that the e-mail address you leave is correct.
Rules:
• No duplicate comments.
• You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.
• You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.
• This giveaway is open to US Residents aged 18 and older
• Winners will be selected via random draw, and will notified by e-mail.
• You have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

Please see the official rules here:

http://www.blogher.com/sprint-4g-reviews-official-rules

February 1, 2010

Momspotting Meme-Foodie Style

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

For the past few months, I’ve been participating in BlogHer’s Family Connections citizen journalism project as a Momspotter. Basically that means I tweet a few times a day with the #momspotting hashtag about how I use technology in my day-to-day parenting life.

I haven’t done a meme for a while and this seemed to be a good time…while I ramble about tech, cooking and mothering.

The Fun Part-The Meme for People Who Eat (and may sometimes cook)

Play along and leave a link in the comments or tweet it with the #momspotting hashtag.

1. Which expensive electronic device do you or your children most admire? Right now, our new HP Touchsmart Web Enabled Printer…maybe. I have always coveted one of those computerized espresso machines that are super expensive at Starbucks. (Though really…the Tassimo…my teens and young adults love, covet and pet it whenever they are home)

2. Do you ever use your computer in the kitchen? Yes.

3. What ratio of new recipes cooked in your home come from the Internet vs from a cookbook you own? Maybe 1/4 of the new recipes come from the Internet right now.

4. Does your family regard a recipe as something printed from the computer, on a handwritten card or something on the kitchen netbook? Kids seem to prefer printed from the computer or the computer in the kitchen. Cookbooks are for reading and the annual Christmas Cookie picking tradition in their eyes. (Despite the fact that we have more cookbooks than many libraries)

5. Do you have a television or other electronic entertainment in the kitchen? No – all kitchen entertainment is performed by me, the dogs and the children-sometimes provided by @dtanton

6. What is the eating in front of the computer rule in your house? We have no rule preventing it. I seem to be the only one who has caused keyboard issues this way.  Kids however must eat main meals at the table. Adults tend to work through lunch and sometimes dinner on the computer.

7. How many places can you order dinner online from in your area? I know two.

8. What is the BEST recipe you have ever made from the Internet? The Mushroom Napoleons that won me the love of a woman or at least made her interested enough to wash dishes for me for the past 9 years.

9. What’s the least used kitchen gadget in your home? French Press, but people keep giving them to us

10. What is the oddest recipe your family has tried after seeing it on the Internet? Pancake Muffins or Bacon Cinnamon Rolls. Both were delightful but both were…different.

So, now you know a bit more about me, about my wee little gig getting paid to talk about the things I talk about on Twitter and BlogHer all the time. And…you have the chance to play along too and tell me about yourself and kitchen electronics.

December 10, 2009

Cold? Have a Cup of Tassimo

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Tassimo.

When the Tassimo coffee system arrived, I wasn’t home. I immediately received a text-get home now-the Tassimo arrived! Needless to say, we sort of bounced about the Tassimo. Off and on for the past few years, we considered getting a single cup coffee maker. I like my coffee fresh. I like coffee drinks.

The main coffee consumer in the house prefers to make a pot and reheat it in the microwave. The over-sized cup a fixture in our lives-wouldn’t fit or didn’t appear to fit in most of the single cup coffee maker options. It will fit in the Tassimo-you can even adjust for extra tall travel mugs.

When company came over-we faced the “Do we make a fresh pot and dump out a half pot of coffee?” or the one I cringed at “offer to microwave them a cup” -question. Now, I can offer them a chai, a hot chocolate, a cup of coffee, or a specialty drink, and honestly say “No, no trouble at all.” Nice, on a cold winter day to not make someone feel like they are putting you out, when you offer them a warm drink.

I opened the Tassimo. I pondered the filter for the water-I have become spoiled and love the filtered fridge water. The machine was smaller than the box made it look. It tucks tidily next to my microwave and hardly eats any counter space…nice in our small kitchen.

I changed my morning routine to include a cup of coffee now that I could have a perfect, no mess cappuccino in less time than it takes to load my email. My family is glad that I won’t be spreading coffee grounds and spraying milk all over the kitchen. I have done this when we tried espresso machines in the past. The coffee grounds-a constant problem for me with a regular pot-not with the Tassimo.

We have a friend -cue my children saying: “You have friends?”; who needs computer help or just invites us over to visit from time to time. We love to visit her and she always makes a pot of coffee. She lives alone. I doubt she makes a pot of coffee, except when we come over or her family visits. I feel a bit guilty as she pours our coffee. I know she worked to put on a pot. I know she won’t be drinking it all day. I know she makes it because she knows we are coffee drinkers.

The Tassimo would be perfect for her cup of coffee from time to time, for visiting friends and family that drink coffee. We may just have to give her one or prod her daughters to give her one. I won’t re-gift mine though-you won’t be able to pry it away from us. We have already ordered refills. These are very cost efficient when you break it down by cup and consider the no waste, no mess, and no special dishes to wash part.

You can win one of your very own-you definitely want one-because it isn’t going to eat your counter space, force you to make a whole pot when you want just a cup or send you out in the cold to the coffee house when it is safer to stay at home. As a bonus, you will be able to offer each of your friends and family members whatever their favorite coffee drink might be-without stressing!

Warm beverages have a way of bringing people together at the holidays-and every day. To enter and win your OWN Tassimo Brewing system , leave me a comment below and share your drink order and your favorite person to share a cup or two of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

Check out the other reviews in the program and enter on their blogs as well! Eight chances to win and one of them could be you: BlogHer.com special offers page

For more information on the Tassimo : Official site
The contest will begin at 12/10/2009 and will end 12/31/2009. Make sure that the e-mail address you leave is correct.
Rules:
• No duplicate comments.
• You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.
• You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.
• This giveaway is open to US Residents aged 18 and older
• Winners will be selected via random draw, and will notified by e-mail.
• You have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
• Please see the official rules here: Official rules

October 1, 2009

You Are Drop-Dead Gorgeous

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Dove Self-Esteem

Say it. “I am drop-dead gorgeous!” Three times in the mirror every morning. Those instructions provide the basis of what my 13 yo daughter calls my “brute force” method of teaching positive body image to my children. We had a video at one point showing this in action.

We had a mirror on the wall facing the staircase. The boys barely noticed it there. They may not have noticed at all except for the behavior of their sisters. The girls would get two or three stairs from the bottom and stare at themselves in the mirror. This wouldn’t trouble their brothers too much, except if they wanted to get down the stairs without pushing past a sibling.

It troubled the adults in the family though. Not the mirror staring part, but the self-talk or statements to us that came with the mirror gazing.

“My breasts are too small!” “My breasts are HUGE!” “My nose is crooked!” “My nose is too big!” “UGH! Freckles!” “ARG! I hate my zits.” “I wish my hair was straight.” “My hair won’t hold a curl.” “I am fat.” “My butt is too big.”My thighs are too big.” “My legs look like sticks!” “My eyes are weird.” “I need to go on a diet.” Yes, a lot of exclamation points went on.

We banned that kind of talk or tried to ban it. We worried. We are women comfortable in our own skin and the kids knew that. We wanted the same for them, but it didn’t come overnight. At this point in parenting, with our youngest two girls 11 and 13, we still have a lot of work to do.

One day, I got beyond frustrated with it as the girls came down and each said something negative. I ended up grabbing the now 13 yo and holding her in front of the mirror. Instructing her, “I am drop-dead gorgeous.” “But, I am not” she protested. “Ok, so you don’t think you do…here is the deal, you will say it. Every day. One day, you will realize you believe it and that there is nothing more true. Knowing the power, glory and sheer magnificence of you and the body that holds you will take you far in life.” She started saying to the mirror “Mommy is drop dead gorgeous” It became filled with laughter from the whole family-mostly the girl child who has turned this into a family joke. She refers to me constantly as her “drop-dead gorgeous mother”. Some days she sees it, other days she thinks I am just delusional.

When my mother moved in, she became part of our teaching project. She divides food and self-worth up into “being good/being bad.” As I try to get her to make healthier choices, there are a lot of “I am trying to be a good girl.” types of discussions. No, Mama. It isn’t you that is bad or good. It isn’t the food that is bad or good. Food is food. You are you. A serving of ice cream doesn’t make you a bad person. She is 72. I have a late start on her. The mother who told me I was the prettiest baby ever born. The mother who told me over and over that there wasn’t a part of me that wasn’t perfectly proportioned. She was also the one who often made it clear that my younger sister was the beautiful one and my older sister was the smart one. I was just the tomboy. I had a boss point out when I was in my 20s, as I talked about my family, that she couldn’t imagine it. I must be both the pretty and the smart one. She told me to look in the mirror and think about my life. I thought she had lost her mind. Then I realized she had a point.

It isn’t the beauty part. None of our girls looks model-perfect when they roll out of bed, not even the eldest whose wedding pictures remind one more of bridal magazine than any bride I have ever seen in person. No one looks that way when they wake in the morning. Whether you choose to chase an arbitrary standard is up to you in my eyes. Our girls can primp and polish all they want unless it starts or ends with dissatisfaction with her body. I step in then. That image in the magazine-photoshopped. That girl in school with you with hair like a palomino? I can bet that she thinks her beauty doesn’t make the cut. I will remind them of their hair like spun gold. The strong legs, the magic of her smile. I remind them that nothing creates beauty like a sparkle in an eye or a word kindly spoken. The freckles speak of happy days in the sun.

We have a surprising number of books on this topic in the house. Books, journals, workbooks, and other books that reinforce the words we speak. They find a home here and girls will take them from time to time. More than one found its way here through a Dove sponsorship of a Girl Scout program through the Dove Self-Esteem Fund (Check out Dove’s official site for more information on the program and how YOU can help.) or from downloading them from Dove or their Facebook page. The Dove Self-Esteem Fund is committed to helping girls build positive self-esteem and a healthy body image, with a goal of reaching 5 million girls globally by 2010.

Dove is also collecting video and photo testimonials from women who have helped build positive self esteem in a girl in their life.
I am also a sucker for a fiction book that is intelligent and the girl loves her own body.

I think though that being alert to and noting negative self-talk and negative talk about other people’s appearance really is the key to teaching positive body image. My youngest said “Back when I was little miss four eyes” last night. We ended up having a long discussion about why she stopped wearing her glasses. We also got back to the point where she realized that glasses might keep her from having so many headaches after school.

Unfortunately, our voices aren’t the only ones our daughters hear. They hear the woman at the supermarket. “Don’t you wish you had hair like your sister? She is so cute!” They see the girls on TV. Aunts, grandmothers, cousins, will tell them to lose a little weight, will comment that it is too bad they have their father’s nose or their grandfather’s hair color. Those comments can be devastating.

I confess I am not a perfect mom either. I love my daughter’s eyes-the color of the ocean before the storm, the unfathomable gray full of life, intelligence and mystery. She wears glasses. Last year, she decided to get contacts. I loved the contacts because I can see her eyes again. Now she has new frames. They are attractive, suit her bold personality…but chunky, bright, and I can’t see the eyes I love so much. Startled by them the first time, I made the wrong comment. This she dwells on sometimes. She snarks about it because she sees the hurt when she repeats it. She knows I hurt that I said it. Ah, the ways of a teen. I know my mom did a lot to help me and my body image…now it is my job.

But, for now, my daughters know they are beautiful, her life is beautiful and yes, they are all drop-dead gorgeous. Be kind to yourself in front of them. Be kind to your daughters. Be kind to mine…because teaching positive body image gives our daughters magic, power and sparkle. That can be nothing but good when they head out in the world to find love, share their hearts and their heads, and make tomorrow a better place.

Read more self-esteem stories from BlogHer reviewers at the roundup page. But, before you do, stop and tell me the thing that an adult in your life said that made all the difference in the world to you as a child. If none, what devastating, careless remark do you carry in your head even now.

September 16, 2009

Finding Our Style

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tarrant

Congratulations to Tuesday, http://agirlandherlife.blogspot.com/ -Winner of the HomeGoods Gift Card with her entry #210.

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and HomeGoods

I need to tell you about HomeGoods today, because really this story is bubbling out of me. Stay tuned to the end for more info on how you can find your style and win a shopping spree to HomeGoods yourself.

About nine months ago, we learned there would be a new member to our family. Despite the time since, no new baby joined our house. Instead, just a couple of weeks later, my mother moved in for what was supposed to be a temporary stay until she found suitable housing for her and my sister. She moved into our bedroom.  Instead of camping out on the couch for a few weeks-we decided to take over what we called “the art room” but really served as the home for the kids’ computer, the dollhouse, the armoire with board games and china inside.

We soon learned that instead of a temporary stay, my mother would be here long-term and with us as caregivers. A few TV trays went into the room to serve as bedside table and alarm clock/plug-in place for pocket items to live at the end of the day.  My youngest child’s high chair served as the other bedside table. Yes. High chair. Two gray Rubbermaid bins took over from our suitcases hastily packed in one room and moved into the other.  Finally, a quilt hung over the window to block the morning sun.

That was the extent of it. We looked like we were camping out in our bedroom and we were. I would head there when the days were long, and caregiving hard…but our room felt more hideout than retreat. Instead, the mess just reminded me that temporary turned into long-term and we weren’t settled with it.  It met our basic needs-sleep (the futon robbed from the living room), a light to read by, a clock, a place to keep our clothes, but not well and not in a way that made us happy.  But what to do? It is a very small room and we are on a tight budget.

These are the before pictures:
bedroom 009bedroom 010bedroom 012

When asked what room I would redecorate if chosen by HomeGoods and BlogHer, I rambled. I talked about the living room that has a few issues-no chair for my mother to easily stand from for example. Then I started talking about the bedroom. I realized all the things wrapped in that bedroom. No time soon would I be moving my mother out of our old bedroom and into a hospital bed in that bedroom. I wouldn’t be moving her to her own apartment or assisted living. The bedroom was the place.

Even once chosen for the program, I considered the living room or kitchen. The bedroom needed the change though. Today I am glad we persisted!

How did we get from that picture-to a new and much improved bedroom?

First we took the StyleScope Quiz. I took it. My partner took it. We took it together. I read the HomeGoods blog-Open House. (Check out Open House – HomeGoods’ blog “for anyone that loves their home.”)

The StyleScope quiz seemed silly at first but since neither of us had really thought about “our style” before-it really did help us make better decisions at the store. We had a chance to talk out our style and what we wanted, as well as identify the true trouble spots in our home.

We made a scoping out trip to each of the two HomeGoods stores nearby. The surprises each store had were different and the same. It wasn’t a home organization store or the housewares department at a department store. Some of the items were really cool and look at the prices-we can do a lot. We went home.

We talked about the things we needed to change. We needed a place to: keep loose change, plug in the phones, real bedside tables, a place to store our clothes and my medicine, to take the tiger quilt off the window. We wanted something that looked like us. That meant no replacing the quilt I made or the Leg Lamp. We thought about other things in our home that could serve us in our room. The grandma furniture that lived in what is now my mother’s room? We could move that into our room…if we moved the armoire out. Now that the plan was set, time to head back to HomeGoods.

Bedside tables were top priority. The rest would revolve around that. The first HomeGoods store had a couple paired bedside tables, but the one we wanted, there was only one. It was nearly the same red orange as the Grandma furniture soon to be our dressers again. We decided to brave it and pick it up.
newbedroom 009
Then we wandered through the art department, discussing this and that piece of art. We never really have purposely bought art for a specific room. We considered poppies, landscapes, abstract paintings but we kept returning to two rather large graffiti prints of women. Odd! Quirky. The fact that we kept considering them must have meant something. We picked them up!
newbedroom 005
Next-a curtain. HomeGoods didn’t have any curtains! Well, there were a few panels, but nothing right. Perhaps we should go somewhere else for a curtain. Still wandering through the treasure hunt that is HomeGoods, we found shower curtains. Not just shower curtains, but a really pretty green that would go with the prints we had chosen and with the quilt. It is slightly sheer and felt like a silk broomstick skirt. We can use that!
newbedroom 008
After poking around a bit more, we decided we were done. We checked out and headed to the other HomeGoods in search of the match to our bedside table choice at the first. We found it, but a bit scratched. Part of us thought, ok, we scratch our furniture up all the time. No big deal. Part of our head was disappointed. We loaded it into the cart. We found a Rocker Mom tattoo plaque,a wooden, very bright “Java nice day!” picture that I am sure was meant for a kitchen but lives in our bedroom now. I also got  a Sparkle picture for our bathroom (I couldn’t resist-Sparkle is an important word in this house).newbedroom 007
newbedroom 013

Speaking of bathroom, we also got a 12 pack of washcloths

Still not done with the great gift card I received-it went way further than we dreamed-we picked out four brand new pillows. HomeGoods has a great selection of pillows from ordinary to organic to hypo-allergenic. We bought new pillow cases. We picked out a charging station for our phones and a retro-hip red canister to hold our change. We found a nifty rolled paper vase that was similar to one we saw and wanted at a favorite gift shop—but it had cost WAY too much at that gift shop-not at HomeGoods. We totalled up in our heads and realized there was a bit more to spend.
newbedroom 014
One of the first things we noticed when making our first trip were the large statues of elephants, dogs, roosters. We made a Wheel of Fortune comment then. As we left, we decided we must have a giant dog statue. So we found one, he lives in our bedroom. His name is Homer.
newbedroom 011
We checked out. We mentioned the scratches and dent on the bedside table. The cashier called the manager who came right away and reduced the price even further. In fact, staff at HomeGoods seemed genuinely helpful, if you asked them. I saw floor clerk helping a woman choose items for her living room-including moving tables and chairs so she could get a better view. I didn’t notice them at first because they don’t come running up to you with that uncomfortable “Do you need help?” and none of the staff seemed troubled by browsing at all.

At last we were done—for now—but in our hunt for our bedroom, we found all sorts of gift ideas for our young adults rooms, our mothers, our siblings, even our younger teens. The selection was varied and interesting. What we found on our first trip-not entirely the same things we found on the next. If you see something there, but aren’t quite sure-grab it. We missed out on the pink leapord spotted broom we saw on the first trip that way. Again, HomeGoods is like a treasure hunt.

Now, our bedroom makes me laugh. It makes us smile. It looks altogether like a bedroom, but has not become stuffy. Instead it feels like us. A few changes made a big difference.

Check out what the rest of the BlogHer Reviewers found at HomeGoods – you’ve got 8 chances to win a $100 HomeGoods gift card.

Now, here is a chance to enjoy your own treasure hunt at HomeGoods and bring something home to make you happy.
To enter to win a $100 HomeGoods gift card – take the StyleScope Quiz and tell me what your style is in the comments below – or you may leave a link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. The contest will begin at September 14th and will end October 14th. Make sure that the e-mail address you leave is correct.
Rules:
• No duplicate comments.
• You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.
• You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.
• This giveaway is open to US residents, aged 18 and over
• Winners will be selected via random draw, and will notified by e-mail.
• You have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
Please see the official rules here: Official Rules

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