How We Survive the After-School Rush (+a Giveaway)

Let me tell you a little about Wednesdays and Thursdays in our family right now. They’re awful. They’re rushed. I don’t really like being rushed, but I also don’t like sitting in the house with nothing to do ever, so we do things.

Right now our thing is soccer. Practice for BigBrother is on Wednesday evening. Practice for LittleBrother is on Thursday evening. Both at 5:00. Pee-em. Five o’clock. Like, quittin’ time. I could turn this into a rant based on “how are working parents supposed to swing that,” but this is the eleventieth time we’ve had a five o’clock practice (and a few times, a 4:30!), so I’m used to being rushed and ticked off, occasionally on a conference call or sitting at the field with my laptop on my lap. I mean, it is called a laptop, is it not?

Instead, I will tell you how we survive.

The boys’ bus rolls up at 3:30. After making our way inside, we look through backpacks, set out homework, and get started. I then serve up a snack. I make/finish dinner and serve it between 4:00-4:15. You read that right. We normally eat between 4:30-5:00, so it’s not a huge departure, but on Thursdays, it doesn’t always work. Thursdays I have a conference call from 3-4. This means I can’t help with homework or finish a meal. I’ve utilized the crock-pot more and more on Thursdays, but what if a call runs over? Or what if I’m finishing a work project?

Or so on. So I decided to up my snack game on Thursdays in case we can’t eat until after LittleBrother’s practice. His practice, being U6, is only 45 minutes, so we’re home before 6. We can eat at 6. We can’t eat at nearly 7:00 on Wednesdays as BigBrother’s practice is an hour and a half (and sometimes runs over). So back to upping the snack game on Thursdays.

Hello, Bagel Bites.

Bagel Bites

I like Bagel Bites. They use real cheese and from-scratch sauce (which is more than I do when I make our own pizza on Fridays, so Bagel Bites beats me). And they’re quick to boot. They only take 14 minutes in the oven, so I drop them in around 3:00, take them out as I’m heading outside to watch for the bus, and by the time we’re inside, they’ve cooled down and are ready for eating.

Bagel Bites

Bagel Bites

The kids like Bagel Bites because they taste good. I can’t disagree.

Bagel Bites

They also think they’re getting something special. Which, I suppose they are. It’s a different snack than the rest of the week, it allows us to finish homework and get out the door on time, and it’s just something fun to do. I’m pleased with our new little routine. (And fully ready for Thursday night practices to be ohhhh-ver.) You can grab yourself a coupon and then win yourself a $100 Visa gift card, courtesy of Bagel Bites, right here. Just answer this question: What’s your favorite after school snack? 

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

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

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an 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. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 9/29-11/2.

Be sure to visit the Bagel Bites brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

Where’s the Family Planning with EngenderHealth (+Giveaway)

I’m passionate about a number of things. Good coffee, bed times, running, mental health, and women having the information and care they need when it comes to their own bodies. The latter of those comes from my first pregnancy, an unplanned pregnancy that ended up endangering both my life and the life of my unborn child. It was a scary time, one during which I had a lot of questions and felt like no medical professionals were forthcoming with the necessary answers. I felt alone.

But here’s the thing: I live in the United States of America. While my doctors didn’t possess the best bedside manner, my medical facilities were clean. My doctors cared about keeping me alive, about my child’s health. Other women around the world don’t have the same luxuries.

In working with EngenderHealth over the past few weeks, I’ve learned some scary statistics about what family planning looks like around the world. Here in the United States, we’re not only privy to birth control, condoms, and other things that help us plan our families, but we have a wealth of information at our fingertips. When I actively wanted to conceive my second child with my husband, I went about learning how to chart my temperatures and other signs and symptoms of ovulating. Women in other countries don’t always know how pregnancy occurs. That boggles my mind and breaks my heart at the same time.

Kisses

EngenderHealth’s Where’s the Family Planning?! (WTFP?!) campaign is working to train health care professionals in more than 20 countries to ensure that reproductive health and family planning services are available to all women. Women like Rashida Begum of Bangladesh who experienced nearly fatal postpartum hemorrhage after the birth of her first five children. Upon becoming pregnant for the sixth time—with twins—she was seen by Uma-Shree Pal, a government health official trained by EngenderHealth. Uma-Shree worked with Rashida to teach her the best ways to avoid postpartum hemorrhage, two tablets of misoprotosol immediately after birth. Rashida’s husband was also taught this information. After the birth of the twins, she began to bleed, but took the misoprotosol, and the bleeding subsided. She never hemorrhaged and kept her strength to care for her new twin babies.

Other women like Mariam benefited from EngenderHealth’s trained professionals as well. Agness Minja taught Mariam about intrauterine devices, thus allowing her and her husband to spend time building their rice business. Now that they are stable, Mariam feels excited to have hers removed so she and her husband can try to have a third child. And then there are women like Mouima who have the unfortunate fate of obstetric fistula, a tear between the vagina and urethra or rectum during a prolonged, obstructed labor without emergency intervention. The fistula results in an uncontrollable leakage of urine or feces. They are often shunned by their husbands and families due to the smell surrounding them; they are deemed less than. Mouima’s second child was stillborn after a prolonged obstructed birth and she suffered an obstetric fistula. Mouima chose to eat and drink as little as possible because of the leakage. Most women don’t live decades as Mouima has because of the dehydration, hunger, and illness that often befall these women. When Mouima learned that EngenderHealth has launched a fistula repair clinic in Guinea, her son paid for her treatment. Four other women in her village have received treatment since hers; no one in the village knew that treatment existed.

These stories don’t happen here. But they happen around the world. And that’s simply not okay. Please visit WherestheFP.org to see how you can get involved, how you can help educate women about their bodies, their lives, their futures. This fall, EngenderHealth wants American women to get involved in spreading the word about their work, wants us to get involved in talking about these topics. I know this is one of my new passions, and I’ll be sharing more information as EngenderHealth shares it with me.

How will you get involved? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a Social Good Goodies bag. Learn more about EngenderHealth by visiting their website, Facebook, Twitter,  LinkedIn and YouTube.

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
  5. Sign up for EngenderHealth newsletter at the following link, and leave a comment on the post saying you did so.

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. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 9/22/14 -11/4/14

Be sure to visit the EngenderHealth brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

I Like Flowers

This post is sponsored by The Bouqs.

When my husband works a 36-hour shift (or longer), I buy myself flowers. It’s just what I do. I’ve done it for years and years, dating way back to when he worked at the ambulance company and was still in the Army. “Oh, you’re going to be gone for longer than 36 hours? Imma buy myself some flowers.” I like being reminded that what I do matters, that I matter too.

Also, I just really like pretty things. Flowers are pretty.

My favorite roses are yellow roses. My second favorite roses are hot pink roses. So when The Bouqs, a company who grows their flowers on the side of an active volcano (!!), asked if I wanted to pick a bouquet, send it to myself, look at pretty flowers, and then tell you guys about it, I picked Hot Lava. Hot Pink and Yellow roses? Volcano reference? Yes, please! (Though, the Rainbow Bouq was super tempting. OMG.)

Oh, Hi, Flowers

They came on the day that I scheduled—right in the middle of a 36—and were absolutely perfect. The flowers come boxed carefully so they don’t get dinged up all the way from South America. The blooms held tight for the first day or so and then started to open up and share their true beauty. I enjoyed having them around the house, and they lasted for just over a week.

SHINY

The Bouqs is a company I would use again. They offer a wide variety of beautiful bouquets and some interesting/new-fangled “concierge” services, including regular flower deliveries, calendars and reminders so you never forget a special person or celebration, and random, surprise deliveries. (I kind of want to sign up for that last one. Or someone else to sign up and send me random, surprise flowers. OMG. You know, if you’re looking for a gift idea for me. #justsayin)

I Love Beauty

I’ll make an order again soon, because another 36-hour shift will show up on the calendar. They always do.

 

Affiliate link in use. I could make money if you send flowers to your significant other to apologize for being an idiot self.

 

Recipe: Hershey’s Syrups, Cream Cheese, and a Dippin’ Good Time

Do you know what my favorite thing about get togethers is? Summer, spring, winter, fall? Dips.

I adore dips. Sweet dips, savory dips, sweet-and-savory dips. Dips for chips. Dips for fruit. Dips for pretzels and cookies and, well, spoons. Basically, I could eat an entire course of just dips. An entire meal even!

My children have inherited my love of all things dip. They love dipping everything from chips to fruit in any number of dips. So when Hershey’s asked me to make something with their delicious syrups, I decided to make… yes, you guessed it: dip!

I made three different-but-the-same dips with three of their Hershey’s Syrups: Strawberry, Caramel, and Special Dark. They each are crazy easy to make, kids can help, and are a great addition to any get together. Or, in our case, “summer is ending and we need to celebrate with something that tastes amazing” little party we had with the friends who came to play regularly this summer.

Here are the recipes:

Hershey’s Strawberry Cream Cheese Dip

Hershey's Dips

2 blocks cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2.5 tablespoons Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Hershey's Dips

Mix with a blender. Put in a bowl. Voila!

Hershey's Dips

Hershey's Dips

Hershey’s Caramel Cream Cheese Dip

Hershey's Dips

2 blocks cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Hershey’s Caramel Syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Hershey's Dips

Mix with a blender. Put in a bowl. Voila!

Hershey's Dips

Hershey’s Special Dark Cream Cheese Dip

2 blocks cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark Syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Hershey's Dips

Mix with a blender. Put in a bowl. Voila!

Hershey's Dips

Hershey's Dips

All of these dips are best served chilled.

Seriously, I told you these dips were easy. Some suggestions I would make to add a little fun to the dips or change it up a bit: chocolate chips in any of these dips (folded in with a spoon, not a blender), little pieces of dried strawberries in the strawberry dip, dried coconut in any of them (but I really, really love coconut, so you may want to ignore me), or butterscotch chips for the Caramel dip. Or, really, let your imagination take you where you want to go.

Hershey's Dips

As far as dipping goes, we tried:

  • apple slices
  • banana slices
  • honey wheat pretzels
  • shortbread cookies

Other dipping things that would be fantastic: pound cake, brownies, grapes, cherries, marshmallows, other kinds of cookies, regular pretzels (I love salt and sweet, don’t you), and so on. What you dip in these dips is really kind of taste based. You could honestly grab a spoon and just eat them as well, because they tasted delicious. (And, oh, I wish I had some lemon cake in the house when I made the strawberry dip because I imagined it tasting fantastic together. Someone needs to do this and report back, immediately.) Oh, and I after I wrote this post, I realized I forgot to cut up the strawberries to dip into these dips. Whoops?

The boys loved the dips as they got a pre-taste before their friends arrived.

Hershey's Dips

Hershey's Dips

Hershey's Dips

Hershey's Dips

Hershey's Dips

Me? I made sure to hoard some of the strawberry dip before their friends showed up because it was my favorite. But they were all delicious and greatly appreciated by a bunch of little kids celebrating the end of a fun summer.

Thanks, Hershey’s, for the fun you brought to our home this summer.

 

*This post is sponsored by Hershey’s. All ideas and images are my own. Be sure to visit CelebrateWithHersheys.com for more dessert and syrup inspiration.

Runner’s Review: ASICS Gel Nimbus 16

ASICS America contacted me recently to see if I’d like to try a pair of their shoes. Never one to turn down shoes because shoes, I said yes. I had my pick of any running shoe on their site, which felt awesome and overwhelming at the same time. ASICS has been a brand I love watching run past me (remember, I’m a middle pack runner, so people pass me; it’s okay, I’m fine with it) because they’re always so colorful and fun. I also helped my husband pick his first pair of running shoes earlier this year, and they just so happen to be a (brightly lace colored) pair of ASICS. I thought it would be fun to brightly match!

So at first, I looked through the site to find the brightest, most colorful shoes. SO. MANY. CHOICES.

Then I got serious and started searching for a shoe that would be the best fit for my feet. Literally.

I underpronate. The rest of the world overpronates or lands neutrally, but I’m a Special Snowflake, and my foot rolls out instead of in. Or, you know, instead of landing normally. This is why I ended up with a strained foot after the EQT 10 Miler last year: two races, too close together, with a shoe that wasn’t keeping my foot from rolling out, rolling out, rolling out. (And yes, when I think about underpronation, I sing, “ROLL OUT.” Every time.)

ASICS Options for Underpronation

63 options for an underpronator is like heaven. Normally brands leave us roller-outers with one or two ugly, clunky options. Nope, not ASICS. They were like, “LOOK AT ALL THESE SHINY SHOES.” I briefly considered the GEL Kinsei because the color options were downright fantastic, but ended up with the GEL Nimbus 16.

SO PRETTY!

I’ll be totally transparent: I adored the pink and green color combo and that played heavily into my decision. If the Nimbus hadn’t had any nice color options, I might not have ended up with this particular shoe. But if ever there was a shoe that said, “I’m made for Jenna,” it’s one that’s pink and green. I mean, obviously. The brighter the better. The people who complain about brightly colored shoe options aren’t my kind of people.

My ASICS arrived while I was in California, so I put them on within 20 minutes of returning from the airport and took off on a six mile run. Not always the smartest move, as a 1-3 miler is often suggested to “break them in” and see how they fit with your arches, soles, toes, and so on. Me? I just needed to run. Six hours on a plane with a back that wasn’t feeling all that hot required six miles on the road.

First Run in My ASICS

I was very pleased with my first run. My feet didn’t roll. They didn’t feel heavy or clunky, though heavier than some neutral shoes I’ve worn to avoid the heavy/clunky problem. I finished the run with happy feet despite fighting my six hour flight sore back.

And so, I wore the GEL Nimbus on every training run for the following week.

That included the previously mentioned 6.13 miler, a 3.03 miler, a 4.01 miler, a 4.00 miler, and and a 6.01 miler.

Four Runs in ASICS

I will say one thing: Road running in a shoe that doesn’t let your foot roll out is a smidgen more difficult. Think about it for a second: When you run on the side of the road, you are angled with your left leg and foot lower than your right leg and foot. As such, my right foot, being unable to roll at all, was stuck at an odd angle as I ran on the side of the road. I definitely felt the difference, and then tested the middle of the road and our local (flat) trail. Perfection. Absolute perfection. My foot was held the exact way it needed to be held.

As such, I would wear the GEL Nimbus in my half marathon as I don’t run on the edge of the road. I tend to run on the left side, closer to the middle of the road. I should be absolutely fine with these shoes for 13.1 miles—and the training that goes along with it.

If you are an overpronator and you want to stop rolling out, I’d give the GEL Nimbus 16 a try.

 

I was provided a free pair of shoes from ASICS America. I was not required to post a review.

 

Coffee Coffee Bo Boffee: A Review of Market District Coffees (and a Giveaway!)

I like coffee.

A lot.

But I had to cut back recently. I drink one cup in the morning, and if I’m feeling like I need it or if I’m feeling frisky, I’ll have an afternoon cup as well. It’s been good for me, and I adjusted really well to less caffeine. But one thing I’ve learned in this whole “let’s drink less coffee” thing is that I want good coffee for my 1-2 cups per day.

I was recently asked if I’d like to try out Market District’s new coffees, and I said, “WELL YEAH!” In my hunt for good coffee, I’m definitely up for trying new things. I haven’t been disappointed.

Mmm, Coffee

I was sent two medium roasts, Moka Java Blend and Kenya, and one flavored coffee, French Vanilla. I’m super pleased.

Right now my favorite is the Moka Java Blend. It has a deep, rich flavor that really helps perk me up in the morning. It also makes my kitchen and office smell amazing. That’s one thing I have noticed about my good coffee hunt: I am super sensitive to the smell of the coffee. I can tell if I’m going to like it before I even taste it.

As for the French Vanilla, I love it as my afternoon or early-evening/post-dinner cup of coffee. It’s light, it’s fun, and it tastes yummy.

Of note: I drink all of my coffee black, the way God intended.

I’m actually interested in trying some of their dark roasts, like the Espresso or the French Roast. I think I’m going to grab a bag or two after we make our way through what we have now. I may also grab a bag of the decaffeinated Breakfast Blend. I never understood why people would drink decaffeinated coffee until I cut back my caffeine consumption. Now I miss the taste of coffee!

Would you like three bags of Market District Coffee? Good! I’m giving them away!

WIN ALL THE COFFEEZ

I have a bag of each of the flavors we’ve tried—Moka Java Blend, Kenya, and French Vanilla—to give away to one lucky winner. To win, simply leave a comment on this post telling me how you drink your coffee. For an extra entry, share this post on any of your favorite social media outlets, leaving an individual comment for each social share. I will draw a random winner on Thursday, May 15, 2014 and contact the winner by email.

 

Disclaimer: I was given coffee in hopes that I would like it and share it with my readers. If I hadn’t liked it, I wouldn’t have shared it. I’m nuttin’ but real up in this piece, n’at.

 


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