A Late Valentine's Tale

A belated Valentine’s greeting to you all! I hope that you all had a great day with the exact amount of candy and flowers that you desired. This Valentine’s Day was a first for me, in a sense. My twins are four now, and they simply view this as a candy holiday. My daughter has actually been talking about getting Valentine’s candy since last Halloween. Apparently Halloween is more of a costume holiday? But back to my first: this was our first Valentine’s Day where one of my children has a crush. And not just any crush. A teacher crush.

Oddly enough, it’s not even one of their teachers. I suppose I should say his teachers, since it is my son who has the crush. See, they currently attend a small private school with two Pre-K classes, and one class for each grade from Kindergarten through 8th grade. A few weeks ago, they had “Step Up Day” where each class visited the next grade up to see what it will be like next year. That is where my son met the Kindergarten teacher, aka his new love.

I only found out early last week when my daughter announced that she painted me a picture in art class. I asked my son if he painted me one and he said "No, I painted one for Miss Peterson." I asked if that was his art teacher (I’m horrible with names, but I didn’t recognize this one at all). He said that it was the Kindergarten teacher, and that he loved her, and that he loved her for Valentine’s Day. Did I mention he is FOUR?

So last Thursday, I did what I never thought I would. I gave my son a Valentine we made for his teacher crush and encouraged him to give it to her. He was so nervous; it was the cutest thing ever! I figure at this age it’s harmless. It also helps that we’re moving to public school next year, so he won’t be in her class. Of course, that will also break his little four year-old heart. 

image from here.


Free Goals Printable!

Happy New Year!! I don't know about you, but the beginning of anything new, whether it's a new year, a new job, a new family member, tends to make me step back and examine my path moving forward. I for one, love to set goals for the new year, so I wanted to re-share this goal chart to help you in this process along with me. My biggest goal for the year is to have a clean, decluttered house that doesn't cause panic whenever people come over. Given that somewhat vague goals, such as that one, have proven difficult for me in the past, I do have a plan! I have mapped out a monthly schedule of rooms/areas to declutter and organize one at a time. January is my desk and work area at home!

My second main goal is to set and actually follow my meal plans for the week. The setting part is easy, but I tend to get lazy after the first few days. In August of 2012 my husband and I bought this great little hamburger joint down the street from our Baskin Robbins, so it is a little too easy to just pick up dinner there when I don't feel like cooking. And while we do have healthy options (grilled chicken, veggie burgers), it can still take it's toll. I'm working on getting some fruit cups on the menu!

So, throughout the year, I'll be sharing my adventures in house and meal planning organization. Who wants to come along? Did I mention that my four year-old twins can make messes 5 times faster than I can clean? They're getting a chore list!

Click here to download your goal chart. This is for your personal use only. Feel free to share it on your blog, facebook, twitter, but please link back here to LobotoME.com. What's your biggest goal for the new year?


End of the Year To Do List

Hello out there!! I've been gone for too long, I know. So much going on and I can't wait to share everything with you as it unfolds. For now, I think it's time to get ready for the New Year, don't you? I'm not talking about resolutions, but those ugly little things you have to do to before 2012 escapes us for good. Not all are must-dos, but all are good ideas to either accomplish or plan for. So, get out your favorite notepad (you can find mine here) and let's get started on that to do list!

1) Use up your FSA

FSAs are great ways to decrease your taxable income, but don't get caught with an unspent balance! Now, some FSA will allow you to spend into the new year, but you still need to plan! Check your plan and make sure you don't leave a balance out there. Here are some ideas on how to use those FSA dollars.

2) Get to Goodwill

Another way to decrease your 2012 taxes is charitable donations. Have a favorite charity you've been meaning to donate to? Get online and contribute before the end of the year. Too much in your closet? Clean it out and get to Goodwill (or your charity of choice). Just remember to get a receipt! To maximize your donation credit, it's helpful to take a picture of what you donate and itemize the worth. Here's a helpful guide on valuing your donation. And now that the kids have all those new Christmas toys, it's time to cycle out the old ones, right? That's what we're doing today!

3) Put away the Christmas decorations

Okay, so we may not get this all done before January 1, but it's a good goal. No one wants to be the neighbor with lights still up on Valentine's Day. And what better way to start the new year than with a nice, decluttered house?

4) Start a new tradition

Get together as a family and start a new tradition. I love this idea of a thankful jar that you can open at the end of the year. Or write out goals for the new year. Or start a journal. Or start a family game night. Do what works for you!

What are your must-dos for the end of the year?


{on my Friday mind}

As a new runner (for the second or third time), I love this post about learning to love running. I actually look forward to my Couch to 5K runs... sometimes!

Love these rules.

With Cinco de Mayo coming up, I might have to splurge and try this. Also, this is a great article about how Cinco de Mayo is more celebrated here than in Mexico. My wedding anniversary is actually on Mexico's independence day. My husband loves to say it's the day Mexico got its independence and the day he lost his! I then remind him that his independence was way gone by that time. :)

Tonight for dinner I think I'll make these. Something I actually have all the ingredients for? And that my kids will love? Perfect for a Friday.

For now, I must go. Gymnastics is almost over and next we're heading out to buy the twins their first real bicycles!! Bye bye trikes!

Don't forget you can still get Mother's Day gifts for 15% off with MOM15 at checkout! You can even use it to get a treat for yourself!

image from here


{catching up}

I know I've been away too long, so how is everyone doing? I'm fighting off a cold, but woke up with almost no congestion this morning. Finally! I even managed to push through my run/walk for today for my Couch to 5K training. I peeked ahead and I'm running 20 minutes straight on Saturday. WHAT??

This week my to-do list is full of catching up items. The last two weeks involved TWO road trips (one planned, one not), one sick kid, a grandmother/babysitter with a bad back and then a sick mommy. This week is recovering and getting us back to normal! I also made the decision to change my kids' schedule for this summer. For June and July I'm putting them in school (daycare?) 5 days a week, 8:30am - 2:30pm. I'll miss our Monday and Friday trips to the zoo with no crowds, but how often would we want to go in Texas heat in the summer? I think afternoon trips for an hour or two will be fine for the summer. Plus, this way they can take swimming lessons 5 days a week at their school.

I know my kids are only 3 (4 in June), but I find myself wanting to sign them up for every activity I can! The thing is, I think they would love it; you've never seen kids with more energy. I just know that I couldn't do it. I just don't know how to figure out where they belong. I took dancing and gymnastics when I was little. I loved the dancing and stuck with it, but ditched the gymnastics pretty quick. But part of me wishes I had been involved with sports. That being said, while my son LOVES playing soccer my daughter couldn't care less. So, maybe I would have been the same way? This summer we're sticking with dance/gymnastics/swimming for the girl and T-ball/swimming for the boy; he gets one less activity since T-ball involves a practice day and a game day. I think in the fall we'll switch out swimming for Tae Kwon Do, but I'm not making any decisions yet.

For now, I'm just focusing on the next few months! Dentist appointments, pediatrician appointments, summer classes, and some new products for the fall/holiday season!

image from here


{rainy day thoughts}

As the rain comes down, I'm just thankful that I don't live in a part of the country where tornadoes are a common threat. Don't get me wrong, in Houston we get hurricanes which are terrifying. But you know what? We know when they're coming, usually days or weeks in advance. Once when I was in college, I was back home in Corpus Christi on a break and a hurricane popped up in the gulf and was supposed to hit the next day. I left early the next morning to return to College Station, but the storm ended up hitting south of the city, closer to Brownsville. That's short notice for a hurricane. With tornadoes you get what, a minute or two? Insane. The storm that's coming through now has hit Texas with tornadoes and high winds, but it hasn't been bad so far at our house. I did see a few branches in the street on our trip to preschool, but that was about it. The rain even let up a bit as we pulled into the school enabling me to get the kiddos inside fairly easily. That was a blessing!

Lately my mind has been scattered, especially as I start planning my twins next birthday party and their move to a more traditional school. I immediately start thinking of their future and how I'm raising them. I'm in love with this movement. I am a firm believer of empowering our girls, and doing it in a way that doesn't take down our boys. Hmmm, it is an interesting dilemma isn't it? Teaching girls that they don't NEED a man, but that men are still pretty awesome. Of course, it's also my responsibility to raise my son to be that awesome man for another girl. Okay, moving on.

I'm also loving this guide to eat cleaner. Of course, the first week might take me a month or two. I've been known to drink a cup of coffee followed by 1-2 Coke Zeroes per day. Last week I think I drank 3-4 Coke Zeroes ALL WEEK! None yesterday, trying for none today. Week 2 will be easier since I rarely eat fast food.

Found this old blog entry going through the LobotoME archives. It's also helped me with the decluttering, specifically Action Step #2. Of course, it would take a small miracle for my husband to agree to canceling cable. I blame the Red Zone Network.

That's it for now. I just realized how late it is and I have to get this in the crockpot!! Stay dry folks!

image from here


{organizing and party planning}

Sometimes it feels like time is just flying by me and I have so little to show for it! I am pretty excited about the slow progress that is happening in my house. Together my husband and I cleaned out a huge chunk of our laundry room and pantry (picture above). I know it's nothing fancy, but I really love it and it's so much better than before. I still want to add chalkboard labels to the baskets, but I'm celebrating even this accomplishment.

I'm also beginning the planning of my twins' fourth birthday party. It's almost three months away, but their birthday is the day after my daughter's first ballet recital. At first I thought it was exciting, but then I realized, what a mess! It looks like we'll do the big "kid party" a week earlier at either their gymnastics gym or one of those indoor-jumper-castle-party-room places. That's where we'll invite classmates and soccer teammates. Then we'll do a smaller home party for the family around recital time. I'm thinking something along these lines, but toned down a bit.

All that being said, I'm loving this post on energy. I need more!

But I did take the time out to make these on Monday morning. With the twins starting Pre-K 4 in the fall, I figure I won't have much more time for Monday pancakes!


{kitchens and menu plan}

My current obsession is organizing my kitchen. It's either because I saw this post, or because I really don't feel like packing for our trip to Disney. I am the worst packer ever. Thank goodness for my Pack ME!!

But back to my kitchen. I attempting something like this, but with dark brown baskets. I know that we're not using our pantry space in an optimal way, and things get lost as a result. This could easily be a year-long project! Luckily there's pinterest and its never-ending ideas!

On my menu (when we get back):

I actually started to try this, but burned the last of our quinoa. Sunday mornings are too distracting in this house!

I'm late to the Pioneer Woman party, but saw her make this on her Food Network show. I'm obsessed.

And this, because I really love quinoa. It must be the Peruvian in me.

And this, because I also really love avocados. Did I mention I'm half Peruvian?

I'm also overwhelmed with the amount of ground deer meat in my freezer and desperately need suggestions. I can only make so many meatloafs (although, this is our current favorite).

image from here


{rainy day}

Today is a yucky rainy day in Houston. It makes me want to stop at the store on my way back from the gym later to get the ingredients for this.

In the mean time, I've been thinking about chores lately. My twins turn 4 this summer and will *hopefully* be starting Pre-K 4 at a new school. We've always considered where they are now more of a daycare. They'll have to be there by 7:30 am! Eek! Lately I've been dropping them off closer to 8:30... or 8:45.

Speaking of late drop-offs, today was really bad because my son was up all night throwing up, but no fever. So I kept them later this morning to make sure he kept his breakfast down. I can't believe I still woke up to do Yoga X this morning! I might have to do these this afternoon to make it through the day!!

I have been doing good with my New Year's resolution to get in shape, workout-wise, but the eating has been a struggle. Down 2 lbs since New Years, but it's been slow. If I can get out in this rain, I plan on heading to the gym for some treadmill time this afternoon. I LOVE this blog on slow runners. I am very slow. Very.

I hope you have better weather wherever you are! Any tips on chore charts for the preschool crowd?

Image from here


{getting it in order}

I've really tried to spend January getting everything in order. From my house, to my workout plan, to my businesses. My accomplishments so far have been cleaning out one box from our bedroom (baby steps?), learning how to count drawers at our Baskin Robbins, starting my P90X/Turbo Fire hybrid (and creating a separate blog for it) and brainstorming new products with my husband.

I did make a meal plan for this week, but my hubby kept bringing home meat that he wanted to cook, so alterations have been made. I really wanted to make these mini meatloafs, but it might have to wait till next week. I did make this mango chicken and it was delish! We ate it over quinoa, but I would recommend it as part of a salad (hubby doesn't do salads).

Amidst all that, this is what I'm reading now:

I am newly in love with this blog, and found this post at exactly the right moment.

I pre-ordered this book and still haven't started it. I had signed up for the online Jump Start, and just started that yesterday. It's already changed my entire perspective... there are no words!!

This post both scares me and reassures me that there are good teachers out there. We just registered the twins for Pre-K 4, and I am so nervous and overwhelmed about their upcoming educational journey.

I'm also dying to try this if for no other reason that it's cited to someone in my hometown of Corpus Christi!!

image from here


{quick look back}

Happy New Year to you all from my family and me! But, before we get too far into 2012 I realized that I wanted to take a quick second to let you know what I was thankful for in 2011. So here are my 11 thankful moments from 2011.

1. Celebrating the twins' 3rd birthday. I'm thankful for everyday with them!

2. Celebrating my 5th anniversary with my husband. We didn't get to take that trip to New Orleans, but we'll get there soon!

3. Having our Baskin Robbins next to a doughnut shop. If they had not come in at 4am to make the doughnuts, who knows how much damage the fire would have done.

4. No one was hurt during the fire. Buildings can be (and were) rebuilt.

5. Getting this opportunity with lobotoME. If I didn't have such an amazing support group, I never could have pulled this off.

6. FaceTime!! I love that my kids can talk to their grandparents so easily. Which reminds me, we need to do this again tomorrow. We even talked to my mom when she was in Paris celebrating her 60th birthday!

7. Aggies win the Meineke Car Care Bowl!! Hey, it's a big deal to us Aggies. :-)

8. Getting to see so many family members over the holidays. Not everyone made it this year, but I'm thankful for the ones who did.

9. Being able to leave a job that made me unhappy, and doing it on my terms. I knew I needed to leave for awhile, but didn't want to jump to another job that would be more of the same. I knew I needed out of the office.

10. Discovering my CSA. I can't honestly say that no food has been wasted, but we're getting better. Looking forward to the spring season.

11. Ending the year with a family full of healthy people. Even my 84 year-old grandparents are still going strong and coming with us to Disney World!

image by October Dawn


{it's a new year... almost}

Well, 2011 was a crazy year full of ups and downs. Luckily in my case, there were more ups: leaving the office for lobotoME and more time with my kids, celebrating their 3rd birthday and my 5 year anniversary. But I still had to face the downs: the fire, losing site of my fitness goals. This was our first full year as Baskin Robbins owners (opened December 2010), and the year I quit my corporate job and gave up a fixed salary. We've learned a lot, made a few mistakes, and while 2011 was a year of transitions, 2012 will be a year of growth.

I try not to focus on the past, except for the ways that I can learn from it. So, I'm trying to learn why I let my eating habits go without disparaging myself for doing it. I'm learning how to be a better business owner, not only of lobotoME, but also of my Beachbody business and our Baskin Robbins (especially since we hope to open location #2 soon!). I'm also constantly learning how to be a better mom. Especially since 3 is a fun age where my kids are little sponges!

Whether you believe in resolutions or not, I love the way a new year almost forces us to take a second and look back on our lives as well as looking forward. And there are so many ideas out there for resolutions, goals, etc that I want to try them all! I love this calendar, and this project. I also love these resolutions (but so much fish?? not a huge fan) and must do this.

With all that said, here are my 12 for 2012:

1. Read this everyday. I find this very intimidating, but my mom is reading it too. It will be nice to have someone to call if I want to talk about that day's reading.
2. Be more active in the day to day at our Baskin Robbins. As I've mentioned, we're hoping to open our second store soon, so it would be nice if I could contribute something. Scooping makes me nervous but surely I can handle some of the money stuff. I mean, I am a CPA.
3. Get back on the fitness track. I do have a weight loss goal, and it's a big one. It sounds huge to me, but it involves losing the weight I gained this year, plus a few more. Okay I'll tell you. I want to lose 20 pounds. And I want to lose the first 10 in 3 months. I'm starting a P90X/Turbo Fire hybrid in January that will last 3 months. I was hoping to start it on 1/1/12, but we're missing two P90X discs! Must call Beachbody to see about getting them replaced.
4. Take my kids to Disney World. Okay, this is cheating a little since our trip is already booked for February. They're vaguely aware of its existence, but have no idea we're going. I can't wait to see their little faces light up when they see the castle!!
5. Start volunteering again. I used to have a regular gig with Children's Art Project once a week in the evenings, but being a mom took over that time slot. I just don't want to force this because I want to find the right situation. I may wait till the fall when the kids move to PK4 and are there 5 days a week. Unless something finds me first.
6. Be more consistent with my meal planning. I make the meal plan, but allow myself to veer away. I may forget to defrost something, or lose track of time, or who knows what else. I think I'm just not confident in my cooking skills yet, so I make excuses. Maybe my Christmas gift will help?
7. Get our family cookbook printed. I was inspired by this post. My January goal is to get a preliminary outline put together and set up something in Google docs so everyone in my family can contribute recipes. I am a little worried that it will contain mostly baked goods...
8. Make our bedroom what I want it to be. This is mostly an organizational issue since somehow a huge pile of stuff has accumulated there. Most of it is stuff I can clear out, but there is a large safe waiting for our second Baskin Robbins. I'm also dying to put in some crown molding. I really want to paint it another color, but I doubt I can convince the hubs.
9. Open our second Baskin Robbins. Granted, this is mostly my husband's doing, but I consider it a family goal. We think we found our location, but the lease hasn't been signed. Hoping to have good news soon.
10. Organize my workspace. This is a constant battle because my husband thinks the desk is his too. I might need to convince him to move exclusively to his desk at our store. I might be in trouble if he reads this.
11. Start a debt payoff plan. We've had struggles as of late with giving up my salary, the fire, and all that. Once we open the second store (again, really hoping this works out!), we can really start to evaluate our finances and expected income. The fire did show us how much money we need to keep on hand in case our store is closed for an extended period. We're fully insured, but the insurance company has their own timeline on when they'll pay you, and it takes awhile for people to come back.
12. Launch new lobotoME products. I have a few ideas, but nothing to announce just yet. Hope to have some new stuff very soon!

What are your goals/resolutions/wants for 2012? If anyone is looking for a fitness accountability buddy, just let me know!

image from here


a guest post from jenny… founder of LobotoME and former owner…

hello friends! i've missed my blog and all of you :)

I thought i'd post a quick update on life post lobotome…

For the first time in 3 years we were able to take an extended family trip during the holidays (this has always been LobotoME's busiest time of year (as Jill just experienced) so I always spent thanksgiving thru christmas at our local post office instead of some tropical location). My husband & I really wanted to "test" the waters with a longer international trip with the kids (now age 3 & 7) so we spent almost a month in a lovely little surfing town in Mexico. It was all we hoped it would be and then some but now we are back in holiday & new year planning mode.

We achieved many of our goals & aspirations for 2012 - selling LobotoME, launching a new race series, listing our rental properties on the market and turning over some of the property management aspects in the meantime, attempting to sell our airstream (getting close); simplifying our schedules, commitments and life (always a work in progress); getting rid of things that we no longer found to be useful, beautiful or treasured in our home (again always a work in process especially post holidays); getting more involved in the kids school (educating our youth has got to be the most important thing on everyone's to do list); etc.

The spending hiatus goal was reignited when we were in Mexico…seeing how little the locals have and how happy they are for the food on their tables made me appreciate what we have even more. There was a wonderful local named Mannie who sold homemade fruit popsicles every day on the beach for 10 pesos (about 79 cents)..we got to know him a little bit as my kids loved his popsicles. He was telling us about how his 12 year old daughter didn't want to go to school the other day because she had a big hole in her shoe and she was embarrassed and he told her he'd work extra hard that week (he busts his butt daily) to earn enough extra to get her a new pair of shoes. Anyway, he said that God was looking out for him because the very next day there was a wedding on the beach and the bride's family treated the entire wedding to ice cold fruit popsicles and he sold out within an hour. He took an earlier bus home, bought a new pair of shoes for his daughter and left them under the pillow for her that night while she was sleeping. He wasn't trying to get our sympathy or money, in fact, he wouldn't even take the extra pesos we tried to slip him daily, he wasn't ashamed...he was grateful and happy. I want to be more like him. Grateful and happy for the simple things. I want to create more than I consume.

Having said that there are still many more things we want to do in 2012 & beyond. I don't have big things on this list like publish a book (not a clue what I'd write about), travel the world (someday), build forty schools in Africa (someday) or compete in a fitness competition (never ever). Sometimes its good to just be happy with where I'm at and know that all is well with my soul. I give you my 12 for 2012.

1) A year long spending hiatus - we have way more than enough clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry, toys, books, etc. If something is needed, only buy it second hand. Spend mindfully on things needed and continue to put money towards local & organic produce; traveling and paying off our mortgage early. Buying only things that are made sustainably and will last. Not buying crap that I'm going to end up putting in a box for the thrift store within 6 months.
2) Family trip to Florida & Dominican Republic.
3) 10 year anniversary trip, just the two of us.
4) A successful (and safe) 2012 Event production season.
5) Pay off remaining business debt. Kill it.
6) Sell one of our rental properties even if its at a financial loss in order to have emotional gain.
7) Sell the airstream (use this money to build up our emergency fund). Still no time to use the adorable thing.
8) Go on a week long raft trip with the kids this summer. Feeling the pull & call of the river.
9) Re-paint living room & bedroom walls in house. They need it. Badly. And I've been putting it off for years.
10) Get fit. I know this is a little ambiguous - but really push my body harder than it has been pushed in years. Having 2 young kids is no longer a valid excuse. I want to kick a little ass this year. I just started Crossfit classes so that may be the ticket.
11) Run a marathon. I don't know why this always appears on my list but it always does and I'm not a huge running fan. I've done triathlons and adventure races but never a bloody marathon. But I'm not getting any younger so there on the list it goes.
12) But mostly I want to focus on being a fun & present wife & mother, to make time for the people in our lives we adore and take good, solid care of myself - not just when I'm sick or run down but on a daily basis. Last January's breast cancer scare was a wake up call and I need to continue to focus on caring for myself.

Wishing you and your families a healthy & happy 2012!


{frantic christmas}

I feel like I've been away for so long. This last month has been rough, with torn muscles and now the never-ending cold from... well, you know. After over a week with this cold, I finally broke down and got a z-pack. Only after trying every medication that has ever worked for me with no luck. So, this year I'm asking Santa for the ability to breathe through my nose again.

On a happier note, since I'm starting to feel a little better, I decided to salvage what's left of this holiday season! We did put up the Christmas tree and outside lights this year, which is sadly a big step for us. We usually leave the Christmas decor to my parents since we spend the holidays at their house. Granted, half our ornaments are now broken because my daughter think they're toys, but that's okay. At least I caught the ones she hung on the light strands instead of the actual tree.

BUT, today was my favorite holiday prep-day. For the first time, I made Christmas cookies with my kids! We were making them for their teachers, so I got a little upset (unfairly) when they kept eating them. I finally promised them we'd make more when we get to my parents' house, and that they could eat as many of those as they wanted. We made skinny sugar cookies from Dashing Dish - great place for lower calorie treats! (I also recommend the monkey bread. Simple and yum!).

For teacher gifts, we also made chocolate covered coffee beans, and then dipped some candy canes and pretzels sticks in milk chocolate and white chocolate (no fights here since I let the kids eat the leftover chocolate & pretzels). Tomorrow I'll pick up some cute baskets to hold all of this with a MEpad, a CheckME and maybe a ListME, because I think they're fun :) Did I mention there are 3 teachers and one school director?

Now I just have to pack up everything I'll need for a week or so at my parents' house! Come Friday, the extended family descends upon South Texas and the insanity begins. AND, this is one of the special years where Hanukkah (Chanukah?) falls during Christmas and we get to celebrate it! This is because my amazing Aunt Cheryl & cousin Miriam will be leading the celebration. I can't wait for my kids to experience it and spin a dreidel!

So, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year!!

image from here


{create your own 5 pack}

Yes, on lobotoME.com you can get a 5 pack of our best selling note pads, but what if you want something different? Wish you could get the Fit ME to help you get into shape? Maybe you don't travel so you'd give up the Pack ME... Or maybe you just want to throw in a Bite ME or two for your Obsessive Cullen Disorder?

Now, and until the end of the year, you can make your own 5 pack! Use code MY5PACK at checkout when you purchase 5 note pads for a 20% discount!! Mix and match to get the pads you want. OR pick 5 for stocking stuffers.

Maybe Aunt Sally & Aunt Patti would love the Feed ME, but mom needs the Fit ME to motivate her to hit the gym. And your cousin loves to travel so Pack ME would be perfect... Then throw in a ME pad for yourself! Perfect!

Whether your shopping Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday, you can't go wrong with lobotoME!


{giving thanks & the best cranberry recipe ever}

This year has been such an incredible roller coaster ride, that I don't even know where to start. Rather than reliving it all, I'll just start with now. I'm so excited that I'm spending the entire week with the kids and most of that week at my parents' house. The bonus there is that I don't have to compete with our Baskin Robbins for my husband's attention! It's also great because while my mom visits a lot (thank goodness!), I don't get to see my dad as much. AND we have extended family coming as well. I just love the holidays and all the craziness it brings.

My only goal for this next week is to watch my food intake! Yes, I believe that you should enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and that there is no room for calorie counting at that table. However, I still need to have limits! Especially since our Thanksgiving involves at least two family dinners and two football games. With all the changes in the last year, my eating/exercise has not been as well maintained as I would like. So, we'll take it one week at a time. This week my goals are simple. One piece of pumpkin pie, with whipped cream (because I'm human). Shakeology for breakfast everyday. Watch the carbs. Workout everyday. Probably Turbo Fire. And ChaLean Extreme. And maybe I'll crash a Zumba class with some friends back home here.

Now for the best cranberry salad recipe ever. I make this for every pot luck/Thanksgiving dinner we are invited to. It's from my Great Grandmother, but it's not a family secret! I pass out the recipe to anyone who will take it. Nothing would make me more happy than to have the entire country eating this next Thursday!! Seriously, just try it.

1 lb. cranberries - ground up (we use a mini-Cuisinart)
2 C. sugar
1 small can crushed pineapple
Mix the above together and set for one hour
Then add:
1 C. chopped celery
1 C. chopped apple
1 C. chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, whatever)
1 box red jello dissolved in 1 C. hot water (we use cranberry jello if we can find it. Cherry works too)
Chill till set

The great thing about this is you can make it the day before Thanksgiving and keep it in the fridge. One less thing to worry about on Thursday! At Thanksgiving dinner I will pour this on my turkey and eat them together. And I've been known to eat a small bowl of it by itself for a snack. We've also made it with Splenda to cut the calories. It has a slightly different consistency, but still tastes yummy!!

image from here



If you are familiar with our products, then you already know about our amazing BiteME pads. These are a must-have as we are only DAYS away from the premiere of Breaking Dawn!!! In honor of the fourth Twilight movie, we're offering a special discount on these note pads -- $4 OFF!! Enter discount code BITEME4 at checkout!

Be sure to get a few extra for the Twilight fan in your life. These make great stocking stuffers! Offer good till the end of the month!

Is anyone else dying to know what the wedding dress will look like?


{money lessons}

This past weekend our neighborhood had its annual yard sale. For some reason, this annual event is ALWAYS on the same day as opening weekend for deer hunting. I never thought that would effect my schedule!! Growing up with a dad from Peru, deer hunting was never part of my life. Apparently this is unusual for those of us raised in South Texas, or maybe anywhere in Texas? Regardless, my husband was unavailable so I had to do it all myself. On the bright side, it was great motivation to clear out a lot of stuff. I did however miss my kids' last soccer game. Now, let's remember that they are three and there will be a lot more sports in their future. They were pretty excited to show me their medals, and they had a great time with Aunt Ashley (my cousin) and Matt (her boyfriend). They did much better that morning than I did in the cold, unable to drink anything because bathroom breaks would be impossible, but I digress.

When I got back to the house and finished counting our earnings, my daughter was obsessed with the stack of ones. She kept begging me to give her money. I told her that since they are three years old, her and her brother could each have $3 to take to Walgreens. So, they jumped in the wagon for the ~.25 mile walk. On the way, we talked about what they might buy, and I warned them that $3 wasn't much, but they still went straight for the biggest toys they could find. Once I explained that those were too big and expensive, my son immediately zeroed in on the hot wheel type cars. When he found out he could get 3 for his $3 he was done shopping. My daughter was so much harder! She could get a book, or some flash cards, or a small toy. But then we found it. A bug catching kit! It had a little cuppy thing to catch the flying bugs, some ladybug tweezers to catch the crawling ones, and a little mesh box to keep them in (temporarily). Perfect!

When it came time to pay, we were blessed to get my favorite checkout woman who is always so sweet to us. She rang them up separately, gave them their own bag and showed them where to get their change. I did try to rush them through a little since a line was forming. The gentleman behind us did not seem impressed with how well my kiddos were handling their money!

The best part is that they both got change which I'm putting in their piggy banks. First deposits! I think we'll have to do this a few times a year, and eventually they'll understand about the change collecting in there. As an accountant, this whole process was very exciting to me. I especially loved how excited they got when they received their $3 and put it in their pocket. So cute!

Side note -- I love walking with the twins in their wagon. Since they're facing each other, they have the best conversations!

image from here


{current obsessions}

I pinned this, which is quite frankly laughable. I don't know how to sew. How can I convince my grandmother to make this for me??

I am obsessed with this idea. I would put one on my cat, but he's an indoor cat who spends most of his time hiding from my twins. I would end up with pictures of the stuff under my bed. Wait. That might be interesting...

I love this for a kid's birthday cake. But only if Baskin Robbins cakes aren't available of course!!

Today we got another spaghetti squash and more sweet potatoes from our CSA. I'm saving the spaghetti squash for Saturday since my husband will be hunting. He's not as big a fan as I am!

I really don't understand why I don't own this. Other than the fact that I live in Houston where today's high was in the 80s.

Image from here.


{random weekday thoughts}

I just found out that we're getting more eggplants this week from my CSA. Luckily, I had this recipe saved in my favorite tweets! Thursday night dinner it is!

If you want to stop eating processed foods, may I suggest following FoodFacts.com on twitter? I believe they're on Facebook too. They'll pretty much ruin any processed food you eat, so click with caution!

Three year-old boy/girl twins bring all sorts of challenges. It's so hard when one struggles with something while the other gets it so easily. We went through it with potty training, and now it's riding tricycles. My daughter never had a problem with it, but my (very athletic & coordinated) son just can't get it. I think he gets distracted after the first pedal or two, and then the trike stops. Then it's frustration.

I encourage everyone to visit missrepresentation.org and sign the pledge. Also, set your DVRs to record the Miss Representation documentary on OWN this Thursday. Raising a daughter can be intimidating!

Our preschool's Fall Festival this Friday and I'm excited because it gives me an excuse to bake! I'm thinking my grandmother's famous Snickerdoodles and these. I've also heard that the Barefoot Contessa makes some awesome cake mixes, so I might do one of those too! (It doesn't count as cheating since the cookies will be from scratch).

I wish I had the motivation to try to make these, but I'm trying to keep it simple! What are your favorite treats to take to school?

image from here


{adventures in cooking}

As I mentioned in my first post, one of my goals with working at home was to learn to cook. My excuse in the past was that I never got home before 6 so I never really had time to start anything. Thanks to my husband being home so much since the fire, I've been letting him cook as usual, but I'm trying to get better! So, here are some of my recent exploits...

Those of you who follow LobotoME on twitter may have caught that we recently bought a CSA share for the fall. I'm so excited about getting fresh, locally grown produce! Our first delivery had eggplants, cucumbers, onions, squash, salad greens, mustard greens and possibly things I'm forgetting already! I was so excited to see that today I'll be getting sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash (among other things). I can't believe that I went 34 years without discovering the awesomeness that is spaghetti squash. When I'm lazy I microwave it, scoop it out and toss it with pesto. Even my husband and kids will gobble that up. This time I'm thinking of making a spaghetti squash casserole that was emailed to me recently. We're also getting bell peppers, so I think I'll make stuffed peppers tonight and the casserole later in the week. We'll have to see how many of each I get!

I realize that the above paragraph may make it sound like I know what I'm doing in the kitchen, but I really am a horrible cook. My husband seriously dreads the days I declare that I'll be taking care of dinner (unless I make the announcement at 5pm while searching the web for good takeout). I have a tendency to get overwhelmed, forget steps, mis-time things and I am always missing ingredients I thought I had. You have no idea how proud I was last night for cooking two side dishes. I made a simple quinoa recipe (that was made even more simple since I didn't have the celery, or lime juice) and creamed mustard greens. YES, the same mustard greens from my CSA! I actually used a recipe that was sent to me from the farm and it was everything I dread in a recipe. It started with "wash and destem the mustard greens." Yeah, I don't exactly know what destem means, so I had to google it. It was also lacking cooking times (give me an estimate, please??) and the milk measurements. Seriously, the ingredients just listed cream (or milk) and the instructions said to add it till the mixture gets thick and creamy. Thanks! With that said, and despite the fact I had to use Philadelphia Cooking Creme instead of regular cream cheese, it came out surprisingly yummy. I normally don't get near any "creamed" veggie so I was pretty happy!

I was on such a high from the side dish success (translation - family ate it) that I decided to make the slow cooker oatmeal I've been wanting to try for over a week now. Slow cookers are a miracle device aren't they? Throw in a bunch of ingredients and voila! Food! Unfortunately, I was again missing ingredients. I was convinced that if we had ~50 jars of spices in our cupboard, surely we have cardamom, right? Apparently not. I thought it came out pretty good (once I remembered to add the sweetener), but my finicky kids weren't so sure. I'm going to try again when the weather cools down and I have everything I need!

On a side note, I recently signed up for pinterest, but I'm not sure I'm doing it right. So far I've been using it to pin recipes I want to try, but that's about it. At least it helped me keep track of the slow cooker oatmeal!

image from here


{getting settled}

So this describes my Sunday... More about that in a minute. I wanted to post a picture my son took of me. He just grabbed my camera and said "I want to take a picture of you!" Unfortunately my camera isn't working right now, but still. How sweet is that? I love that my twins are still at that age where they run to me when I walk in the door and want goodnight kisses. What will I do when that goes away?

So, I've been meaning to post for the last, well, since my last post! It turns out that taking over a new business while taking care of twin three year-olds is a little time consuming. Especially with your hubby a little preoccupied with getting our store reopened (still don't have a date) and trying to find a location for our second store (I think we have it!!). I'm hoping to get into a rhythm with the business side of my life this week, and maybe by the end of the weekend I'll get a home schedule??

This weekend was a little hectic with the hubby being out of town for most of it, but I did manage to bake these. YUM. I already use PB2 in my Shakeology, but now I suspect I'll be baking with it more too!

The only problem with my timing was that I baked them on Sunday and Monday I started the Turbo Fire Inferno Plan!! It's a 5 day plan (comes with Turbo Fire) and includes some serious cardio and a very specific meal plan. I'm hoping that 5 days of good workouts and healthy eating will get my body used to eating this way again. I must nix some of these sweet cravings! It's not a lot of food, but I'm not starving either, like I would be with a cleanse or a fast. For example, Day 1 breakfast includes 2 pieces of toast, a scrambled egg, a slice of turkey bacon & half a tomato. Last night we had chicken and broccoli with Parmesan cheese for dinner. Delicious!

So, all I want to get done this week is organize my inventory, decide what to sell in our neighborhood yard sale, clean our guest room for my cousin & his wife's visit and take my kids to the zoo. You know, in addition to normal "work" stuff. {sigh}

image from here



Now that it's official, I just wanted to take a quick minute to say hi! I'm Jill and I'm the new owner of LobotoME! I'm so excited meet everyone and share my adventures as I ditch the corporate world for working from home, more time with my kids and maybe learning to cook??

First, allow me to tell you a little about myself. Yes, the two cuties above are my kids. They are three year-old twins Gabriel and Debra. They are all things sweet and difficult at the same time. I'm looking forward to introducing them to a less frazzled mommy who is not always running to work, late picking them up at daycare or shuffling them off to bed so I can open my laptop.

I also have a loving and supportive husband named Shawn. Together we own a Baskin Robbins and are preparing to open a second location. Our store was doing fantastic until we had a minor setback in the form of a small fire. Luckily, the damage is not as bad as the news makes it out, but we'll still probably be closed till October. Did I mention this happened the morning after I left my corporate job? Not the best timing!

In my spare time, I also run a Beachbody business. I love the idea of helping people reach their weightloss and fitness goals. I'm hoping that I'll be better equipped to this as I take more control of my schedule.

For now, I look forward to sharing my adventures as I learn to manage my time, build a successful home business or two, organize my house and take more control of the things that happen at home. Starting with... a meal plan for the week.

I know we all with Jenny the best of luck putting on races and enjoying life after LobotoME. I'm sure we'll be hearing from her soon!

As a final note, as the tenth anniversary of 9-11 is upon us, I can't help but worry about the time when my kids will start to ask about this tragedy or the subsequent war. I'm saving this post to help me know how to talk to them.


{ cha cha changes ... & a farewell }

Todays the day. The day I close on the sale of LobotoME. Its more difficult for me to write this post than it should be... As I launch lots of new things in my life right now I am also bidding farewell to others. I mean its a business and a blog I'm saying so long to, its not like saying goodbye to a person...right? But the thing is I have gotten to know so many of you through this business and thru this blog that saying goodbye is hard... Yet, I also feel space. Space opening up for me to explore new things, new opportunities, new adventures and let me tell you, that is a wonderful feeling.

I want to thank you for all of your support these past 3 years while I launched a small business with a small child under tow; figured out to manufacture stationary products using eco-friendly materials in the USA; figured out how to freight ship things overseas; supported my husbands business endeavors; paid off debt; sold beloved things on ebay to simplify & de-clutter; adopted another child; set ambitious goals; made life plans; trained for hard races & more. I felt like I had my own private cheerleading squad in my computer (and I will miss that). I haven't decided if I will return to blog land under a new name or if I'll take a permanent hiatus now that the business is in Jill's hands. Speaking of which, I can't wait for her to introduce herself later this week!

I only wish I had a bit more time to revel in the selling of the business and to celebrate what this means for me and for my family, but that will have to wait, as we've got a jam packed fall with 2 major events we are producing and a school fundraiser that I am at the helm of. But then this winter we have a month long hiatus to Mexico where I'm hoping I can get some good solid rest, yoga + rejuvenation in. And of course we'll celebrate with margaritas then! :)

A fond farewell my friends. Thank you again for all of your love + support. I do hope you'll keep in touch. Please keep spreading the LobotoME luv and give a warm welcome to Jill.

Wishing you a heart wide open with whatever beginnings and endings are happening in your life right now.

xoxo, jenny

ps - { you can find me on pinterest here }

image from here


{ the bag that keeps on giving }

I love this organization and I love this project that provides African health care workers with supplies and a uniform and I love the bag. I just bought a few bags. You should too.


{ hello again }

1. The best $10 I've spent in a long time. HOURS of entertainment for my 3 year old.
2. Loving this book.
3. Thought this was a great article about overbooked kids.
5. And this post struck a cord with me. I am naturally such a planner that I have to constantly remind myself to be in the here + now. Consider myself reminded.


{ ME-time }

I don't know about the rest of you but it seems as though in the summer ME-time is almost always replaced with Family-time or Keep the kids occupied-time or host visitors from out of town-time. One of the things I look forward to in the fall is a return to routine and the ability to schedule in some more pockets of self-care. We all need to create within our day time that matters to us. I try to spend 15 minutes at the start of each day prioritizing how I spend my time. What I need to get done. What matters the most. What I want the rythm of the day to bring. Its not that there aren't times I'm an over caffeinated under downward dogged kind of girl...there are. During those times, everything catches me off guard and I spend all of my time putting out fires. And I find myself saying that I have no time for what really matters to me.

Fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes is fifteen minutes. Spend that time doing something that matters. Spend that time on YOU. Spend that fifteen minutes organizing your head for the day in whatever manner you like...perhaps you are a list maker like me. Spending fifteen minutes prioritizing your time and poof, the fabric of time will abundantly provide for you and all that matters to you.

Once I am able to do this I notice immediately, that I find myself on my yoga mat more frequently, reading to my kids more often, sitting in meditation daily.

Treat yourself. Plan your day. Start now. You have fifteen minutes. Go.


{ feed ME }

This is a pretty simple but oh so important concept to remember as you plan your weekly meals, grocery shopping outings and back to school lunches. The key here is {don't buy the crap}. If you have a bag of Oreo's in the pantry, there is just not enough WILL POWER to stay away from it. But if there aren't Oreo's and there is only a bowl of fresh fruit, you'll be FORCED ;-) to grab and apple. The same goes for kids food. Until they are old enough to go to the store and buy their own food, there is no reason they should dictate what is brought home from the store. I hear countless times a day, "But my kids only eat hot dogs, chips and popsicles." WHAT?!?@?! I guarantee you that if you stop buying that crap and put REAL food in front of them, sooner or later they are going to start eating what is available. They won't starve until they figure it out. So, bottom line, just don't buy it in the first place. Stock your home with REAL food, fruit, veggies, etc.

image via here.


{ fresh start }

I love, love the start of a new school year. And one of our favorite traditions is the end of the summer great purge. We give/throw away what we no longer need, and clean and reorganize what we do use. We spend several days over break doing this. Its so good to start the school year off with a fresh, clean slate...and creating space for new ideas & time for new activities, etc.

Anyone else love to purge at the start of a new school year?

image via peg and rail