Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A parent's smoking habit could pay for a child's college. Choose life, shop tobacco free.

* This is a sponsored post by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, however all opinions stated are that of my own.

Do you ever look at someone with a cigarette and automatically want to snatch it out of their hand, break it in half, and stomp on it? I know, I know, the stomping part makes it sound like a child throwing a tantrum. And in a way, that's exactly what it is—me wanting to throw a tantrum every time I see someone wasting their money and more importantly, their life, on this addiction. Tobacco is a product that kills when used as intended, and one that costs $289 billion in health care bills and economic losses every year, and yet it continues to be one of the biggest problems of our society. Let that sink in for a minute—two hundred and eighty-nine billion.

And then the tobacco companies who spend so much money on marketing, $8.8 billion a year, $1 million per hour, trying to target our youth and bring our debt even further in health care costs. All for what—so that their product can damage every organ in the body and kill 480,000 Americans a year {more people than alcohol, aids, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined}.

When you put it that way, who would ever want to put a cigarette to their mouth. But of course the truth isn't what sells, it's the image that they are trying to portray. The image that forgets to share the damage that is taking place inside.

You know, I never understood why anyone would invest so much of their finances into something that is so damaging. Growing up, we had very little money. There were times I couldn't go on field trips, simply because of the cost. Yet, somehow, my mom was able to afford cigarettes. I know that sounds bitter, and she has long since quit and this has never been something that I held against her, but I just want to point how contradictory that sounds, and a life that many children out there live today.

Think about what you can buy with the money one spends on a pack of cigarettes. I did a quick search and found that the average cost of a pack in the Midwest is around $4.96, which is tripled in the state of New York. Some of course run more, but we will stick with $5 for an easier way to look at numbers.

Five dollars. That is if they buy just one pack, and there are many people out there that buy more than one. Five. That is $35 a week. That is $150 a month. That is $1825 a year. That is $32,850 over the course of 18 years.

That, my friends, is a college paid for. A family who very well cannot afford the luxuries in life, lives their life paycheck to paycheck, could now afford to send their kids to college and save them from having student loans with accumulating, and devastating, interest. And then if both parents smoke, that is two college tuition paid for. And if they smoke even more than one pack a day {which is very common} then we are talking even bigger numbers. A mortgage paid for.

That is just one example, but it sure puts things in perspective when you start doing the numbers. What starts out as just $5, turns into the cost of a home, or multiple homes throughout the person's life. And these numbers don't even include the health care costs involved with the long-term effects of smoking—cancer. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Asthma. Pneumonia. Airway infections. Heart disease. Stroke. Aortic Aneurysm. Just to name a few.

Folks, those diagnoses don't come cheap. In fact, hefty price tags, and the biggest price tag of all is: LIFE.

What Can We Do

Is life important to you? Is the life of your loved ones important to you? How about our children. All children out there. Do we want to save their life, their health, and ultimately the debt that this country is accumulating in health care costs? Then share your stories. Share them loud and clear. And most importantly, #ShopTobaccoFree.

I want all retailers out there to quit selling tobacco products. My family and I want to support the places that do allow us to shop tobacco free. A place that supports this movement supports health and life over money and destruction.

Find #ShopTobaccoFree Retailers Near you

If you are not already aware of the retailers that are currently part of this program, then I strongly urge you to check it out. I urge consumers to also thank those retailers, and to consider letting retailers that are not a part of the program the important facts of why they should pledge to be Tobacco Free.

It's as easy as 1-2-3.This is a direct link to search by zip code the retailers near you.

If you don't see a store that you shop at in the list, then I encourage you to take a stand in  Check out the wall of shame of retailers here, tag these retailers, and share this link for them to go to apply to be a Tobacco Free Retailer. Be sure to use the hashtag #ShopTobaccoFree on all outlets.

You can further show your support and follow Shop Tobacco Free on these social media outlets: Remember to use the hashtag and share your stories!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Easy Homemade Coleslaw Salad: Hands down you will want it for every meal!

I have made this amazing slaw salad multiple times now, and although I make a really large bowl every time, it's always gone by the next day. Maybe because I eat it for every meal. 

1. 1/2 head cabbage (I shredded part of it, and chopped up the other part).

2. 1 cup shredded carrots (chopped up a few as well)

3. 1 green onion chopped small pieces

4. 1 yellow pepper chopped.

5. 1/2 cup craisins {I've also doubled this}

6. 1/2 cup yellow raisins {I've doubled this}
7. 1 cup chopped walnuts


1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oils
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Monday, January 19, 2015

Graham turns 2. It can't be true.


My son, my baby boy, my little spit ball of fire, where in the world do I begin with you. First, you turned two. Not yesterday, or a week ago, but it was almost a month ago and your mama is just now sitting down writing your letter. I think I avoided it like I have avoided everything else that involved acknowledging that you are in fact...two. How could this be? I know the time has gone by fast—I have pictures to thank for that, but the realization that you are no longer a baby just has not hit me just yet. Maybe it's because when your sister was this age, you were born and so she automatically, in our eyes, grew a couple years older. For you? There is no other little sibling to do that. And so for you? You're still our baby. In fact, I'm convinced you will always be my little baby boy even if we do have another sibling to kick you out of that baby spot.

But, that's probably not what you want to be reading, and I'm way off track. Probably because I still don't want to talk about it.

You're two. You're two and you are all boy. You run, jump, hit, throw, and all bits of rough when you want to be. And just when I think that you have totally forgotten me and my existence, you bat those eyelashes and throw out "I love you mama." Not to mention the way that you just come over to me on the couch and want to "snugga." It's funny to me how rough one can be, and yet how gentle their qualities are at the same that. That's you.

We celebrated your birthday, on your birthday—the day after Christmas.  You were surrounded by those that you love the most, you had a big truck theme party, and it was exactly what I had imagined it would be like {minus all the Christmas decor}. I'm not sure how we are going to be able to pull that off every year as you get older, but for now, it works. I hate that you will ever feel cheated on your birthday, and I hope that I always work hard to make you feel the complete opposite. But if I was a betting woman, I think you will be just fine.

***Party supplies are courtesy of Big Dot of Happiness. Highly recommend, great quality, personalization options, and ships the next day! You name it, they can do it!

At your two year appointment, you were 34% for weight and 84% for height! Both numbers have increased as you were last 25% for weight and 50% for height! Maybe you will be
Your security blanket is mama's hair. Not a real blankie. Not a stuffed animal. Not a pacifier. But my hair. You will literally walk up to me and say "I won to hold your hair." Then you clench onto a fistful and are content. And if I put it up in a ponytail? You get mad. You also love other people's hair {if mama is not around}, and will rub the back of their head if they are holding you.
You use your manners well, but only the first time that you ask for something. If someone doesn't respond to you right away, and I mean RIGHT away, then you just get loud and mean. "Mama, I want cereal! MAMA...I WAAAANT CEREEEEAL." I don't know why I think you're cute even when you're mean, but I do.
Trucks, cars, and trains are by far your most favorite thing to play with in the world. You love to take your cars and "drive" them on people, on couches, chairs, the floor, and anywhere else that you can think of to be a road. The noises come along with the play as well. Recently, you have really enjoyed planes and helicopters as well. Mama and papa try to get you and your sissy different matchbox cars, and your collection is definitely over 100.
When you talk, it's low and exaggerated. Every word is drawn out, "Noo, I donnn't waaant toooo." Which by the way, that is a phrase that you say on the daily. Speaking of talking, you talk a lot. You can say 5-7 word sentences, and you say things that I think are more complex for your age.
We are still working on our ABC's {you know 80% of them}, your numbers, and recognizing your shapes. You are very stubborn when it comes to learning, and really have no interest. Honestly? I'm not in any hurry.
You're really into hitting and pushing. Thankfully the biting {mainly your sissy} now appears to be a thing of the past, but the hitting is still something we are working on. Not sure where you picked it up, or why you think it's a good idea, but I know that you will outgrow it eventually, so for now we are just trying to teach you different ways to deal with your frustration. Oh, and throwing. How could I forget the throwing.
You turned out to be a book lover, just like your sister.  For the first 9 months of your life, you wanted nothing to do with them. We kept on reading to you, kept taking you to the library every week, and now you get so excited when we get new books. It's funny to watch you two just grab books and go sit in the corner by yourselves and read. Sometimes you prefer books over toys. We have them in every room in the house, and even the car, and it seriously never gets old watching you two.

Speaking of your sister, she is hands down your best friend.  Besides the 10%

We chopped off all your hair. And by chopped, I mean buzzed. And not because we wanted to, or even that we like it that way, but because you hate getting your hair cut. You scream the entire time, and yell for "HELP!" True story. You would think that we were physically harming you. But no, it's just a hair cut. So this past time when we went, I just told her to take it all. I told the hairdresser that I didn't want to be back for a long time, and then she started buzzing it all off. As soon as she started, I realized what a mistake it was, but at that point, there was no turning back. It's slowly growing back, but I hope that by the time we go get it cut again, that you will outgrow this fear of the scissors.

Potty training. You know. You're ready. but you just have no desire. So? I haven't been pushing it, but we talk about it every day and we try about every other. You have gone 8 hours with no diaper on and held it because you refused to go. There's that.

Your favorite shows are Thomas, Jake, Super Why, and Chuggington.

Your favorite foods: bananas {3 a day}, blueberries, strawberries, apples, cucumbers, carrots and peppers {but only with dip}, cereal, granola bars, granola and yogurt, smoked salmon, salami, egg sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, homemade veggie pizza, tacos, and quesadillas. And? You can seriously out eat all of us!
Thank you Graham for knocking down all the fears I ever had of having a second child. You make us laugh, you make us proud, and you certainly make us honored to be your parents. I know that you are going to grow up into a fine young man, and I am so grateful that we get to be right beside you as you grow and discover this life. We love you forever and forever, to infinity and beyond!

Mama, Papa, and big Sissy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Never, have I ever.

 Do you remember playing that game in school, "Never, have I ever..."

The one where we had to keep our hands up, and when we couldn't say that we never did {whatever the person said they had never done}, then we had to put a finger down. When we were out of fingers, we were out. Out, and ashamed.

Yeah, that one. I see you guys nodding your heads. Question is, who actually lost the game? It wasn't me, that's for sure.

Well, in today's world, if we were to play that game, it would go something like this:

Never have I ever been able to get the kids ready for a day out in the snow in less than 20 minutes. And with my patience still intact.

Never have I ever regretted downloading an app the way I regret downloading time hop. Damn you time hop, damn you.

Never have I ever had two kids fall asleep on me at the same time. Ever.

I know that may sound strange. In fact, I've seen moms with 3-4 kids piled up on her and all of them out for the count. I've been amazed by that. And the kids who can fall asleep anywhere: the high chair, on the floor, sitting up watching TV. Anywhere.

Those aren't my kids. Yes, they have napped before at the same time. Plenty times. But that's also been a long time ago, since my oldest stopped napping months and months ago.

Eons ago.

So you should have seen my face when I was sitting on the couch, hearing my oldest snore away on top of my chest. Then my youngest climbs on top of me yelling something around the lines of "Food, water, FEED ME MOTHER." Something like that. Basically he was being demanding, and there was no way in this world I was moving from this spot where my one child that no longer naps happens to be... napping.

"No," I said. Not right now baby, you're going have to wait until sissy wakes up. "

Pretty sure there was some grunting noises coming out of him, a few huffs and puffs and then he just started talking to me about who knows what. I asked him if he was excited for music class tomorrow. I asked him about his favorite trucks. I asked him if he missed Christmas, happy, and Santa. I chatted with him for some time, and slowly his answers became few and far between until finally I didn't hear a peep out of him.

Heaviness is all I felt.

I had to whip out my phone to make sure that this was truly happening. I flipped the camera around to see the three of us, and what do you know, it was true. They were both sleeping. ON ME. Sleeping.

I was convinced this would be maybe a 20 minute nap, because surely one would wake another, my movement would disrupt their peacefulness, and of course they ought to be getting uncomfortable as well. Right?

And what do you know, 10 minutes into them falling asleep on me, my phone dies.

So I am laying there, with two kids sleeping, a dog passed out on the couch across from me, and me stuck there in the worst most awkward spot ever. And I have myself left for company. Which normally, I wouldn't be complaining, but I tell you what... you think about a lot of things when you are in a dead silent room with nothing but your thoughts left.

The window was in view, so I literally watched the sky turn from bright out, to darker, to a ray of pink as the sun began to go down. Then pitch black.

When I realized neither child was going to be getting up anytime soon, I decided to close my eyes for a little bit. Just as I started dozing off, I hear a knock and then the eruption of Carson barking away trying to scare away all those strangers with his scary little old self. The only person he scared was me. Right out of my sleep.

It was just the fedex guy. Normally, I love the fedex guy. But when he woke me out of my sleep, I liked him very little.

Then, I was again left with my thoughts. I thought about a lot.

I thought about Christmas, and how quickly it came and went and how hard it is now to even remember it all. With the tree gone, the stockings packed away, and every sparkle of gold, silver, red, and green tucked away in the attic. As I looked out the window, I noticed the Christmas tree and lights still out on our front porch. I want to remind Andrew to put those away, but at the same time, I don't.

I thought about Graham and how I have a 2 year old. I've had a 2 year old for some time not, but I still can't believe it. Two just sounds so old. Two doesn't sound like a baby. At this age, when Elliana was Graham's age, I was weeks away from delivering. I am neither that, nor am I even pregnant. I can't help but imagine what it would be like right now with a little baby in my arms.

I thought about how we are all just recovering from being sick and how being stuck in the house is not for us. We watched more TV then I ever care to admit, and I hate to say that I kind of want to wish winter away. After we get our share of sledding in. Then I'm okay with some hot temperatures.

I thought about how I've been secretly house hunting on the side. House dreaming I should say. Andrew got this idea in my head months ago, and I since then I will go to the realtor website and just look to see what is out on the market. We aren't anywhere close to moving. We could, but I don't want to. Not now. The next time we move, I want it to be our dream home. We aren't there yet. But boy is it kind of fun to dream and to look.

At some point, I kissed both of the kids' foreheads and contemplated waking them up. In fact, I think I did stir them a little. Some movement and grunts later, a change in position, and they were in a more awkward spot than before and passed out yet again. I would venture to say that they would probably stay asleep for the rest of the night, but my kids definitely aren't the kind that change positions without waking.

So I stayed there. I stayed there until I heard that glorious opening of the garage door, and my handsome stud of a husband walk through the door to find his favorite three people sprawled on the couch.

Dinner? Dinner was not made. It was thought of. That counts right?

For two hours I spent on that couch just admiring these two bodies that were on me, and thinking about all the things that I swear I feel like I haven't had "time" to think about. Do you ever feel that way? You don't have time for anything anymore, including something as simple as your thoughts?

I was thankful for those two hours. Peace, quiet, and the world standing still.

Never, have, I ever been stuck on the couch with two bodies on me, not knowing the time, and watching the world outside change right in front of my eyes.

Finger down. I have, and I'd do it again.

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