Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Blog Birthday Giveaway!

Win a $20 gift card to Target! Giveaway ends August 1st, 2009.
Click here for more info.

Mother/Daughter Book Club: Starting in the Fall!

I can picture it all in my mind now. Sitting in the living room in a cozy circle, the girls drinking hot cocoa while the moms sip on tea or coffee, nodding along intellectually while discussing the great literary classics of our past. ;-)

As you can tell I am so excited about starting this Mother Daughter Book Club and for several reasons:

1. My absolute favorite thing to do with my children is to read with them.
The books I choose at night to read aloud are often the ones I enjoyed as a kid; the old forgotten classics. These books will be a perfect springboard for discussions.

2. I am always looking for different ways and ideas to spend time with my kids. With school around the corner and Megan and Lucy being gone all day this will be something that will help connect us at night and give us something to look forward to. This will probably be better quality time spent then running them to ballet, gymnastics or soccer; which admit it, doesn't really count as time spent together anyway.

3. Book classics can easily be overlooked in our busy day and age. Reading from quality literature will not only help our children be more well rounded, smarter, but it will be fun for us moms to revisit those quality books.

Each month a mother/daughter will pick the book and host at their house. We will discuss the book, draw connections between the book and real life. Lessons will be learned, points emphasized and we will all be brighter because of it.

Of course, treats will be served and I am thinking it would be fun to connect the food with the snacks. Chocolate fondue spread for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, anyone?

The club will be open to anyone ages five and up and am excited to think about the different perspectives the kids will have and how much they are all going to learn from one another.

Each month will highlight a different book.

Possible Book Ideas:

Charlotte’s Web
James and the Giant Peach
The Secret Garden
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Little House on the Prairie
Ramona, The Pest
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
Wind in the Willows
Pippi Longstocking
How to Eat Fried Worms
Stuart Little
Sarah Plain and Tall

These books are merely a springboard and we would be open to any book that is chosen. Each Mother/Daughter can choose the book together when it is their turn to host for the month. Possibly meeting Sundays from 3-4:30. Please let me know if you are interested or have any other ideas! This is going to be fun!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Its National Cheesecake Day! Get your half-price cheesecake!

Got a Cheesecake Factory near you? Grab a slice for half price today only (July 30th, 2009). Now the tricky part is figuring out which kind...

First Triathlon Ponderings, Musings and a Peanut Butter Sandwich

part 5 of a series. Click here to begin.

This was great! I ran up the blue carpet of the swim exit, and heard several people shout and call my name. As I headed into the massive transition area I made my way over to my bike. Immediately I wondered what all these people were doing just standing there by their bikes. Didn’t they know they were in a race? Did they call it all off? Why was I analyzing this so much, but I was seriously the only person that seemed to be in a hurry. Then it occurred to me. They were doing this as a team and waiting for their swimmer to get out of the water. Enough with the thinking. Get on that bike.

I seriously had the best bike spot in the world. Right next to the bike repair tent and second from the end. It was easy to spot the tent, therefore easy to find my bike. I had heard horror stories of people coming out of the water, being disoriented and unable to find their bike in the sea of thousands. Not me! I ran straight to it, saying a silent thank you for no wetsuit to remove, fastened my helmet, slid on my bike shoes (no socks!), heaved my bike from its resting pole and began jogging with it toward the bike exit. The bike would be the longest leg of the race, but it was also where I knew my family would be waiting to cheer me on. Swinging my leg over the bike, a quick shoe clip in and I was off to find them.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Triathlon Ponderings, Musings and a Peanut Butter Sandwich

Part 4 of a series. Click here to start.

Swim waves started every four minutes. At 6:16, my group and I made way into the water. I splashed some on my arms, legs and face to get myself used to the temperature. Thank goodness it was warm. I absolutely hate to be cold. With the swim, I had been told it was all about position. You don’t want to be in the middle of the pack as it’s hard to stretch yourself out to swim. You don’t want to be too close to the front and be trampled and swam over. Being in the back could also have complications. In other words—there really was no perfect position to be in to start the swim. There really wasn’t much time to second guess it anyway. My wave had begun.

It was crowded in the water, but not terrible. Once I rounded the first buoy, I had gotten my rhythm down and the crowd had spread out. “I’m doing Hy-Vee, I’m doing Hy-Vee…chanted around and around in my head. It was a beautiful morning for a swim. It felt good. I was having fun.

Before I knew it, I had cornered that omniscient orange buoy that had looked so far away moments earlier when I was standing on the beach. I was in the final stretch. I could hear the loud speaker before I could see the beach and knew I had to be getting close. The sun was blinding in that direction and it really was difficult to see anything. Bam. Felt sand with my hand and I got up and ran the rest of the way through the water. Quick watch check. 31 minutes?! I couldn’t believe it. That was the fastest mile I had ever swum in a lake.

click here to continue

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Triathlon Ponderings, Musings and a Peanut Butter Sandwich: part 3

this post is part of small series. Click here to begin.

I had gotten separated from my group and that was ok. I needed little a quiet and reflection and was really taking the entire experience in. I headed over to the giant football field transition area where my bike was in place. Once again the atmosphere had shifted. Upbeat music played over the speakers. Announcements were being made. People were everywhere; getting bike tires topped off, setting up their transition area, standing in line at the porta potty-basically doing anything to keep your mind off what was really going to be happening very soon.

Time flew. Before I knew it, the transition area was closed. We were not allowed back in. Did I have my goggles? Swim cap? Time to eat that peanut butter sandwich! We had to be down on the beach at 5:30 and because of the wave start, my age group was scheduled to go until 6:20. I had time, but I didn’t. Suddenly it was all coming so fast. I wanted it over with, but I didn’t want it to start.

The national anthem played. The sun was peeking over the edge of Blue Heron Lake. The horn blared. It had started. There was no turning back.

click here to continue.

Fastest Summer on Record

Come on, you know you feel that way too. Where did time go? Where did time go? I am hanging onto summer for as long as I can. School supply ads are brushed aside as I read the Sunday paper. For the first time the annual back to school shopping trip will be taken after school starts. There is too much I want to do with my kids. We still need to hit Adventureland, an Iowa Cubs game, Living History Farms, camping, picnics, leisure afternoons at the pool. The list goes on. Lucy and Megan are each planning a just mommy/daughter outing for August. I refuse to give up summer yet.

Monday, July 27, 2009

First Triathlon Ponderings, Musings and a Peanut Butter Sandwich

this is the second post of a small series. Please click here for the first.

I left the quiet and stillness of my house, knowing upon my return that it would all be over. I would be done. I pulled into the parking lot of the gym to meet up with my training buddies. I saw once again the value of doing something like this with others. Triathlons can be a very personal and solo sport, but it is a heck of a lot more fun to go through this with others. Music was blaring from someone’s car; the mood was light and festive. People were taking pictures, thumping each other on the back. This was it. It was really happening.

We arrived at Raccoon River Park and the mood shifted. It was quiet. Even as hundreds of people were parking and filing in, I couldn’t get over the stillness. It was dark, but huge football lights had been brought in to light the way. I stood in line to check in and get my body marked with age and race number. I stood in another line to get my timing chip securely fastened around my ankle.

I had the oddest sensation that this is what a concentration camp might have felt like. Glaring lights blaring down on half dressed people. Numbers written all over our arms and legs with security ankle bracelets in place. It was so quiet.

click here to continue.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Sara Says! Win a $20 gift card to Target!

My blog turns one in August! Although I am not one to get sentimental about the turning of age of inanimate objects, I do want to recognize my blog’s birthday. I have loved writing it and it has served its purpose as a springboard in capturing ideas, thoughts, and happenings.

I enjoy expressing myself and ideas in this way and want to thank my readers for all of the inspiring comments and times you have said, "its just like I am sitting across the table from you and having a conversation." That is more of a compliment then you would think.

In honor of the big birthday, Sara Says would like to do a giveaway: a twenty dollar gift card to one of my favorite stores; Target!

Just leave a comment below about something you have done this year to save money with your family. A winner will randomly be picked on -August 1st (the official Birthday). The winner will be posted on this site. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

First Triathlon Ponderings, Musings and a Peanut Butter Sandwich

“You never forget your first triathlon.” “Enjoy it”. “You never quite get that feeling back." Those were some of the words spoken to me leading up to the week of my first Olympic Triathlon.

Reflection needs to be taken on my Hy-Vee Triathlon experience. I don’t ever want to forget the vast range of feelings, so I am putting my experience down. Embedded in my memory forever.

Triathlons come with an early start. A 6 AM start. Meaning a 3:30 wake-up call. That was nothing. I had been getting up before the sun for six months anyway for training.

I had spent the night on the couch not wanting to keep Dave up with all of the tossing, turnings and restless sleep that accompanies a lot of athletes before a race. After the alarm went off, I took a shower. Yes, a shower. I knew I was getting into a dirty lake in a few hours, but there was something about it just waking me up and officially starting my day. Next I had my usual morning bowl of oatmeal and protein powder and checked and rechecked the gear bag (there is so much stuff you need (swim cap, goggles, biking shoes, helmet, running shoes, black tape for the gu's, race belt number, and a peanut butter sandwich…).

I had so worried about getting hungry as I had no idea how long this race was going to take me. What if it was days? I had packed that sandwich and planned on eating it a half hour before the race began. Some people get nervous jitters and can’t eat before a race. I was already excited about eating that peanut butter sandwich.I truly do love them and eat one every day.

Not to say I wasn’t nervous. I was, but really had a sense of peace about it all that early morning. I knew I was properly trained. I had done all I physically could do. The only thing that really made me nervous were the unknowns, the technical part that I had control over. What if my chain came off my bike? What if I got a flat tire? I would be devastated knowing I had trained so hard and couldn’t finish the race because I never learned how to fix a flat. What if my goggles got kicked off in the swim? What if people swam over me, grabbed my ankles and pulled me under. Enough. It was time to go.

this is the first post of a small series. Read here for part 2. Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 24, 2009

T.G.I. Friday's: $5 off Each Entree

One of my hubby's favorite places! Coupon wording is a bit different, but looks like everyone you take to Fridays can receive $5 off their entree.

Go here for the coupon for $5 off entrees at T.G.I. Friday's.
Good through August 31, 2009.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Forget about jazz...bring on the Sno Cones!

Here is an excerpt that was in the Des Moines Register on Thursday;

W.D.M. Jazz in July concert turns life into a picnic

....The Weis family had some snacks, too, but the real treat was after the concert when they rode their bikes to Tropical Sno for treats.

Sisters Megan, 7, and Lucy Weis, 5, both agreed snow cones were going to be the highlight of the evening.

"I like snow cones and riding with Daddy on tag-a-long," Lucy said.

Read rest of article here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Incredible Pizza Co. is in Des Moines!

Go Karts. Bumper Cars. Mini Golf. 100's of interactive and video games. All inside?! Des Moines needed a family friendly place like this. Incredible Pizza Co. opened a few weeks ago in Urbandale and has gotten rave reviews for the cleanliness, friendliness, and huge buffet. This place is definitely on our summer to-do list. Can't wait!

Click here for coupons and more info.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Arby's: Free Food Wednesdays

Need a reason to love Wednesdays? My husband will think he's a king. check out the various deals here they are running every Wednesday through the end of August.

And don't forget to get your free Roastburger with any soft drink purchase. They've extended this deal through July 17, 2009.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baskin Robbins: Free ice cream ages 13-25

Baskin robbins cone
If you are between the ages of 13 - 25 (darn!) and have done something to volunteer this Summer, you can print this coupon here and take it to a local Baskin Robbins store for a free regular-sized soft serve cone. Offer ends July 17th.

Swim, Bike, Run...and Yoga?!

I love yoga. I love it, love it, love it! Yes, I was apprehensive seven months ago when I first started. Weird visions of meditating (ohmmmmm), standing on my head and snacking on granola afterward kept filtering through my mind. I only gave it a try after I was so sore from my new triathlon training and thought that forcing myself to stretch for an hour under the watchful eye of a buddha-like teacher might be a good cure.

The rest is history. I absolutely go weekly, twice a week if I can. I truly believe that it has kept me from suffering any major strains and tears on my muscles. While it wouldn't put Shawn Johnson to shame, my flexibility and balance that I have gained has been amazing.

Now I find out that I may be on to something. According to this newly released article from Triathlete magazine, yoga should be a new mandatory sport. That is, if you don't mind a lot of deep breathing and a few zen like poses.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Long John Silver's: Free Baja Fish Taco on Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Fish tacos were all the rage when when we were out in San Diego in May. While I doubt if Long John Silver's can hold a candle to a fresh fish taco from the coast, here is your chance to find out! Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 14, 2009) is Free Baja Fish Taco Day at Long John Silver's. Dine-in, carry-out, or drive-thru customers can get a free Baja Fish Taco until 2:30 p.m. More details here.

Free Potty Training Kit from Pampers

Can we send the two year old to Pampers headquarters to train? Potty training is actually what is next on the horizon for the Weis household. I've heard boys are more difficult and since Pampers probably won't take Max for a week maybe this kit will help...


Go here to request your free Potty Training Kit from Pampers which includes a free sample of Pampers Easy-Ups, coupons, stickers, incentives, and more.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Return of Oregon Trail

Do you remember this old Apple computer game? Traveling back to the 1800's and pioneering your way across the unknown territory between Missouri and Oregon. The game involves naming others who will be traveling with you, buying supplies, packing up the covered wagon and heading out on uncharted territory.

Beware of crossing rivers, thieving Indians, cholera, and food rations running low. I was obsessed with this game when I was in elementary school and have so many fun memories of playing it hour after hour with my friend Lynn. We had it down to a science and would everything in our power to get ourselves to the Promised Land. Taking the bare minimum of supplies, giving small food rations and not stopping to look around were a few of our tactics. Come to think of it, that was very similar to how my family traveled when we were growing up. Get from point A to B as quickly as possible so we could get to our destination and begin our vacation.

I couldn't wait to introduce this game to my daughters this summer. Megan and Lucy are already very interested in pioneer life, Little House on the Prairie and "old fashioned times." I found a free version online, gathered them near the computer and was deeply impressed that they didn't balk at the simplistic graphics-after all this game is old and computer games have come a long way since then.

They loved it. They hooted with laughter when it showed up that we had gotten lost, Daddy had a broken leg and Max was experiencing "exhaustion." Then they became concerned when we lost a wagon wheel in the river, our food was running out, and no one could seem to master the arrow keys and space bar to hunt for food.

Did we make it to Oregon? Not this time. I will unveil all of my little tricks as time goes on, but for now--seeing Lucy and Megan enjoy the same game and experience their own little innocent addiction that I had 25 years ago, gives me great pleasure. Sharing ideas and memories of things things that I enjoyed as a kid is one of my favorite aspects of parenting.

Friday, July 10, 2009

7-Eleven: Free Slurpee Day on July 11, 2009


How long has it been since I have had a slurpee? ummm...I am pretty positive it would be dated back to the braces and permed hair days of junior high. But tomorrow on (7-11...get it??!!) 7 Elevens are giving out free slurpees. What a fun idea!

More details here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Aye! Build a Treasure Chest

This Saturday is the next free Lowes Build & Grow clinic where your child can build a free treasure chest.

We have done these in the past and there really is constructing involved. (Flashbacks to the gingerbread house with Me, all 3 children, 6 pgs of instructions and lots and lots of little nails). We perserved and the kids were tickled to keep the aprons, safety goggles and have really cute houses which they still use as banks.

Treasure chest looks fun for the older kids. Leave the two year olds with someone else!

Easy Homemade Pretzels

(ahhhh....peace! The rain is pattering down. Megan is at camp, Max asleep and Lucy is playing with a friend. Sure laundry needs to be done, stacks of papers could be be sorted and I know there are garage sale preparations that are beckoning. That stuff will wait. I want to write).

This easy homemade pretzel recipie has only four ingredients, but tons of possibilities. The kids have done these several times with playdates and the variations for them keep growing.

1 pkg. yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
4 c. flour

Mix yeast and warm water. Add salt and sugar. Add flour and knead until smooth. Make into desired shapes. The kids have a ball making the letters to their names. Lucy did a volcano and a t-rex head the other day.
Spray cookie sheet with Pam. Brush dough with beaten egg, sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

For a healthier option use whole wheat flour and spread or did with peanut butter (carbs + protein=perfect snack). For a not-as-healthy-but-still-very-tasty option would be to add cinnamon and sugar (you were right on, Shannon!). This dough has a good flavor to it and I am seeing mini pizzas in our future...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Free Food at Chick-fil-A (Friday, June 10, 2009)

Here's the catch: In honor of the annual Cow Appreciation Day, Chick-Fil-A is giving away combo meals to people dressed like a cow. If you wear a cow accessory you'll receive a free entree item. See more details here if ya don't believe me. Fun, but I think I will just hold out for my mocha. ;-)

McDonald's: Free Iced Mocha or Hot Mocha on Mondays excited about this!


McDonalds has announced that they are giving away a free Iced Mocha (7 oz.) or Hot Mocha (8 oz.) every Monday from July 13, 2009 through August 3, 2009 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m at participating locations.

see more details here

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Flat Stanley craze enters Weis House

Have you heard of Flat Stanley? I admit, I never read the book until this week, but know a lot of teachers that do a really fun activity with the book. Its the story of a boy that gets flattened by a falling bulletin board. (Silly, I know, but stay with me). The fun twist is that Stanley can visit all sorts of places because he is able to be mailed around in an envelope (it's a lot cheaper then a plane or train ticket).

I read the book to the girls in about an hour (I needed a break from our current heavy series of Harry Potter). Megan and Lucy then made flat replicas out of paper of themselves. Next they each chose someone out of town to mail themselves to along with a little journal. Megan picked neighbors that moved to North Carolina and Lucy picked friends that live in Nevada (Iowa). The Flat Lucy and Flat Megan are to have all sorts of adventures in their new place that is journaled and then mailed back to us. This could be kept going on and on with an opportunity to learn about new places.

What to do in the meantime while we wait for our Stanley's to return? Back to Harry Potter...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

...and a Hit for 4th of July Fun

This painted American flag is our new 4th of July tradition. It is so cute and made with only three ingredients; Cornstarch, cold water and food coloring (equal parts of cornstarch and water). Mix it up and then all you need is a couple of paint brushes.

Megan and Lucy had a ball doing this. I was amazed that it worked so well. Then notice the trickle of water behind them in the picture? That we me panicking halfway through because the paint worked so well that I had to test a little bit to make sure it did indeed wash off with water. It did. ;-) Now I am also thinking that Max would love it if we painted roads and he could roll his cars along it. Next time!

Click here to see my 4th of July "miss".

One Strike for 4th of July Fun

In honor of it being July 1 (already!), I decided to whip up some red, white and blue pancakes this AM for the kids. I was excited about the thought of them and planned it all out: blue food coloring in the mix, red strawberries and white powdered sugar on top. I imagined my children marveling at my cleverness upon wakening.

In theory, it sounded great. Reality: not so good. The only strawberries we had were frozen, which caused the pancakes to cook unevenly, (meaning burned on outside and gooey on the inside). The blue coloring just looked plain weird with the burn color so I hastily sprinkled the powdered sugar on top to cover it all up.

Viola! I plopped the pancakes in front of my children. Silence. Then bless Megan's heart. "I know what you want us to do, guess which state the pancake most looks like!" Its true, these cakes did not resemble regular silver dollar roundness.

I knew Megan was thinking about the state and capital placemats I had just given them (for fun, learning and inspiring dinner conversations). "You are exactly right, Megan! Guess which state your red, white and blue pancake most looks like. The states did get their independence on the 4th. Wasn't your mommy thinking?!"

Click here to see my 4th of July hit.