Ball Workout Trio


The exercise ball is a great workout tool that can add endless variety to your workout routine.  The following trio includes an exercise for the upper body, lower body and abdominal muscles as well.

To maximize the benefits of this workout, do 30 repetitions of each exercise and complete the trio for 3 sets.


#1 Tricep Extension

Begin with a tricep extension.  Hold the ball with the palms of your hands overhead – arms extended…..

…..Bend at the elbows, reaching for your shoulder blades (see next photo).  Extend arms and repeat.

              # 2  Abdominal Tuck

Position yourself with your thighs on the ball and your arms planted on the ground in front of you.  Using your abs and maintaining a straight back, tuck your knees toward your chest. Return legs to starting position and repeat.

# 3 Leg Extension

Lying flat on your back, bend your knees and squeeze the ball with both legs.  Extend your knees, lifting your feet toward the ceiling.  Repeat.

Stay fit friends!!

Food, Fiction, and Friends

We are members of a small book club that meets monthly.

Here are 6 out of 9 of us at Sara’s wedding (didn’t want you to think this was Sara’s typical book club attire!)
Margi, Jessica, Becky, Sara, Mary, Lisa, Holly (Sarah, Vicki and Carrie not pictured)

Literary geniuses we are not, and reading the book of the month isn’t mandatory for our club.  In fact, some months ladies show up for dinner and don’t even know the title of the book.  We take turns hosting and making dinner.  But we don’t call ourselves a supper club because book club makes us sound much smarter!  It is a time for us to dine and drink together, catch up on the latest news, and possibly discuss a book.  Besides the friendship and laughter that it provides, book club also gives us one night each month when we don’t have to cut anyone else’s food!

Top 5 Book Club Favorites

    1. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    3. A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini
    4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
    5. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
 This Month’s Menu

For some more book suggestions click here.

Enjoy your girl-time!

Save Your Life and Laugh a Little

Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for women.  Here is a video that is an eye-opening lesson to all of us.  However, it lacks the morbid vision that perhaps we have learned to ignore.  Are you skeptical that a video about having a heart attack could be funny?  Stop, take 3 minutes and watch this, laugh at us women, but be sure to learn from it.

Indoor Winter Workout

Feeling a bit cooped up?  Wishing it were warmer so you could go out a get a little exercise?  All that warm comfort food catching up with your waistline?  Me too!  Here is an easy workout I like to do in the comfort of my living room.  All you need is a set of dumbells and some good tunes for working out.  This workout is about 30 minutes long.


Note: An   *  at the end of a line indicates dumbells are used in that particular exercise

  • Begin with a big breath in and out
  • 2 minute jog or march in place
  • 20 shoulder presses *
  • 20 Squats
  • 2 minutes of jumping jacks (the hardest part of these for me is not peeing my pants)
  • 20 bicep curls *
  • 2 minute jog or march in place
  • 20 tricep extensions *
  • 20 Lunges (10 on each side)
  • 20 push ups (on your knees is perfectly acceptable)
  • 2 minutes of jumping jacks (again, the hardest part of these for me is not peeing my pants)
  • 20 lateral arm raises
  • 20 lunges (10 on each side)
  • 2 minute jog or march in place
  • 5 minutes of light stretching of your legs, back and arms
  • End with a big breath in and out

Double it if you want to for a super workout!




Awards Season!

My house is pretty testosterone heavy, so this time of year it seems that there is a football game on at any given moment of any day.  This may not actually be true, but it sure seems like it.

Luckily for me, this time of year also means the kick-off to awards season.  That’s right, I take great pleasure in watching the beautiful people receive awards for work that I may or may not have seen or even be aware of.  The dresses, the hair, the jewelry, call me shallow, but I love it all!  Sometimes the pre-game (a.k.a. Red Carpet) is even better than the actual show.champagneI may not don a gown to enjoy these shows, but I can certainly dig out my most glittery earrings and maybe even pin up my hair to jazz up my yoga pants for the occasion.  I now have a partner in crime, as Evie loves any chance to put on jewelry deemed inappropriate for daily wear by a five-year-old.  I can enjoy a flute of champagne while my little one may have some lemonade or ginger ale.  It may seem silly, but it provides a little escape from football if only for a short time.

Unofficial Guide to (Some) Televised Award Shows:

  • Wednesday, January 8 @ 9 p.m. on CBS:  People’s Choice Awards
  • Sunday, January 12 @ 8 p.m. on NBC:  Golden Globes Awards
  • Saturday, January 18 @ 8 p.m. on TBS, TNT:  Screen Actors Guild Awards
  • Sunday, January 26 @ 8 p.m. on CBS:  Grammy Awards
  • Sunday, March 2 on ABC:  Academy Awards
  • Saturday, March 29 @ 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon:  Kids’ Choice Awards
  • Sunday, April 6 on CBS:  Academy of Country Music Awards
  • Sunday, May 18 on ABC:  Billboard Music Awards

So dig out your fancy jewels and glassware and enjoy the ridiculousness of it all!



Be a Happy Momma

With our eight “big kids” headed off to elementary school every morning, and the baby sleeping most of the day away, we have been feeling a little bummed.  Being a mom is a huge job that can leave you with the lightest or the heaviest hearts.  Here are a few ways to be a happier momma….

1.  Be real.  Be yourself.  It can be exhausting trying to be perfect when seriously, NO ONE is perfect.  Embrace the things about yourself that really stand a chance of making a positive impression on your children.  Perhaps you are a horrible cook, but a master at being creative.  Instead of coveting the skills of your Betty Crocker neighbor, leave the cooking to your hubby and you and your toddler whip up some awesome napkin rings for the meal.  Perhaps you are a great leader at your job and others depend on you to do you job well.  Instead of feeling guilty about working, use your work ethic to inspire your kids.  If you are okay with your imperfections, your kids are likely to be more confident with themselves as well.  You don’t have to be perfect – just love them, ALL THE TIME!

2.  Use paper and plastic.  We are fans of going green and saving money, but every now and then, go easy.  Save yourself a few minutes in the kitchen and use disposable plates.  Use the time you save to play Candy Land or put yourself in time out (see number 7).

3.  Go to bed.  Once the kids are in bed we know the day is not even close to over.  There are always a million things to do.  However, you need your sleep.  Nobody likes a cranky baby and even fewer people like a cranky mom.  Everything is a little easier to deal with when you are rested.  Perhaps the old 8 hour recommendation is unrealistic, so shoot for 6 and wake up refreshed.

4.  Call a girlfriend, or better yet, go see  her.  The research on the benefits of friendship are astounding.  Your husband may be great and your children are a treasure, but put a call in to your girlfriend and vent, commiserate, laugh, brag, cry and enjoy her friendship.  There really is nothing like it.

5. Pace yourself.  You may think your kids want to do a million things, but sometimes they really just want to stay home and play.  Remember that unstructured play gives your child a lot of opportunities to learn, be creative, and keeps you out of that taxi you call a van.

6.  Ask for help and learn to say noIn case you haven’t noticed, no one is handing out trophies for doing it all by yourself.  There is not a person on the planet that can read your mind.  If you need help, you won’t get it unless you ask.  And you don’t have to say yes to everything that is asked of you.  The world WILL NOT implode if you say no to the school bake sale.

7. Give yourself a time out.  It may seem impossible some days, but take a time out (maybe 2 minutes, maybe 20 minutes).  Use the time to breath in AND out.  That may be all you have time for, but if your time out is longer, use it to do something that brings you joy.  Read, stretch, pray, journal, whatever.

Just for fun we asked our kids what makes us happy and here is what they had to say.


Mary’s kids said….”When we follow directions the first time.”, “Being with her kiddos.”, “The beach and tacos.”, “Snuggling.”





Holly’s kids said…”Good behavior.”, “Me.”, “Um, I know!  Doing laundry!”, “Playing with me.”



Journals That Treasure Life

Keeping a journal is a beautiful way to have a little privacy, open the doors of communication and  preserve memories. Here are a few of our family favorites.  Check out the step by step “how to” on covering your journal at the end of this post.  This is not a must – it is what is IN the journal that counts!

The “Thank you God…” Journal

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above…” James 1:17

We feel overwhelmingly blessed to have the lives that we do.  Like many busy moms, our prayers at the end of the day often go like this, “Dear God, Thank you for….zzzzzzzzzz.”  And just like that, we are sound asleep.

Take a minute each day to record the things for which you are grateful in your “Thank you God Journal”.  God blesses us everyday, it’s up to us to notice.

Mary’s  Thank You God entry on April 23 – Thank you God for the rain today. Soccer was cancelled and the six of us laughed ’til our bellies hurt playing charades.  Gavin acting out bicycle was the best!

The “Just Between Us Girls” Journal

Our time with our children is precious.  I love the letters recorded in the “Just Between Us Girls” journal.  My 8 year old and 6 year old and I take turns writing notes and leaving the journal for each other to read.

Sometimes the entries are funny and sometimes they are an adorable confession (i.e. Dear Mommy, I am sorry that I wiped my nose on your bed spread.  I hope the boogers wash out. Love, Elaina).

I use it as an opportunity to offer praise and encouragement.  They also love it when I include a story about me when I was little.  Such a train of communication builds unbreakable relationships with a deep sense of trust.


The “Sticker Stash” Journal

Whether it is at the doctor’s office, the county fair or Pre-k, kids are praised and rewarded with stickers large and small.

Create a “Sticker Stash” Journal as a docking station for your little one to display his sticker collection.  This not only makes a nice sticker preserve, it also keeps the stickers off of their clothes, the furniture, the walls, etc.

Each of our Pre-k boys, Grant and Cole love to rush in the house after school and proudly adhere the day’s sticker in their journals.  Grant loves his so much that after his 5 year old check up, he not only put the sticker he received from the visit in his book, he also stuck his band-aid in there!  You gotta love ‘em!

Covering Your Journal Is Easy

1.  You will need a composition book, double-sided tape, decorative paper (wrapping paper and newspaper are adorable options as well), and a few cutting tools (scissors, utility knife and a paper slicer) and a cutting surface/board.  If you don’t have a utility knife or paper cutter, you can manage with a sharp pair of scissors.

2.  Cover the perimeter of the front with double-sided tape and stick several strips of the tape throughout the center of the cover.

3.  Place the journal face-down on the desired paper making sure to wrap some around the spine.  Repeat this process on the back of the journal.  We used 2 coordinating pieces of paper and overlapped them.  However, you can use 1 large single sheet.  You can trim your paper with the paper cutter if needed.

4.  Using a utility knife, trim around the edge of the journal leaving a smooth, finished edge.

5.  Attach a label if desired.

Write On!

Freshen Up Your Make-up

Most of us buy a few new cosmetics here and there, but we forget about throwing away the old stuff.  Old may mean out of date, ugly, or just plain yucky!  Purge your make-up bag and only keep the essentials.z197365490[1]When it comes to cold and flu germs, germiphobes we are not.  But the bacteria living in your cosmetics are a different story.  We may not stick strictly to this, but here are some shelf life guidelines for opened cosmetics.

  • 2 months:  mascara
  • 6-9 months:  moisturizer with SPF, liquid eyeliner, and BB cream
  • 1 year:  foundation, moisturizer without SPF, concealer, cream blush, eye pencil, lip liner
  • 12-18 months:  lipstick, powder, bronzer, eye shadow
  • 2 years:  nail polish35-travel-makeup-bags[1]So while you’re doing your spring cleaning, don’t forget to freshen up your make-up!

The Front Porch Workout

Okay, if it has not occurred to you that swimsuit season is coming, we are about a month away!

Here is a fun way to fit in fitness while you enjoy the outdoors.  This workout keeps you close to home and requires minimal equipment.

The Front Porch Workout can be easily modified for indoors.  Sorry, now you can’t use rain as an excuse not to exercise.


All you need is a set of dumbells (a 5 lbs set is usually a great weight to start), appropriate clothes you can exercise in (designer labels – not necessary), and a step (you know, like the one on your front porch)

This workout is about 30 minutes long – Get Up, Get Out, Get Moving, EXERCISE!!!

5 Minute Walk – Start with a 5 minute very brisk walk (or jog) around your driveway or house.  End your walk back at your front porch. Face your front porch.

30 Shoulder Presses – Hold one dumbell in each hand.  Alternate right and left toe-taps on the step rhythmically.  When your foot taps the step, press the dumbells to the sky.  When the foot returns to the ground, lower the dumbells.  Repeat for 30 reps alternating feet.

2 Minute Jumping Jacks - You get this one , right?

Squats - Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and the dumbells on your shoulders.  Squat back with you weight on your heels.  Picture yourself in a portable toilet trying NOT to get pee on your shoes.  There!  Perfect!

5 minute Walk - Same as above

15 Time Crunchers -  Facing the step, do one jumping jack followed by a push up on the step.  Repeat 15 times.

30 overhead Triceps Presses - Hold the dumbell firmly in one hand and with your elbow pointed toward the sky, reach your hand toward your shoulder blade and then extend your hand toward the sky.  Repeat 30 reps.

20 Lunges with Biceps Curls - Place one foot on the step and the other leg extended to the back.  Hold dumbells in hands.  Bend both knees, lowering the back knee toward the ground.  As you lower down, curl dumbells toward your chest.  Repeat 20 times and then switch sides.

2 Minute Jumping Jacks

2 Minute Cool Down Walk.

You may add as many bouts of walking as you would like to increase the duration of your Front Porch Workout.  Stay Healthy!


Treat Yourself

With Mother’s Day right around the corner, we’re sure that your family has big plans for you.  But just in case you don’t receive exactly what you want, here are a few discounts that we thought might fit just right.  Not a mom?  They’ll work for you, too!

Use the code LOVEMOM at Ann Taylor Loft and get 40% off Mother’s Day must-haves.ann taylor loft logo

Save 25% off your entire purchase at The Body Shop through 5/12/13.  No code needed.body shop

Now through 5/12/13, get 1/2 off Frappuccinos at Starbucks from 3-5 p.m.  No code needed.starbucks-coffee

Save $10 off of your $50 purchase at Teavana through 5/12/13 using the code SPRING.teavana

Save 30% on select jewelry at Blue Nile, plus free shipping using the code nile

Take 40% off of one regular price item at Joann Fabric through 5/15/13.  Use code retmenotae123.joann

Save up to 50% off Bath and Body Works sale items, plus another 20% off your order using the code SPRINGPICK13 through 6/10/13.bth_bathandbody2

Get free shipping on Snapfish orders of at least $30 through 5/31/13.  Use the code MAYFS30.snapfish-logo