The night that the big snow storm hit, we were driving back from Richmond.

The photo above wasn’t taken on the drive home to Charlottesville…but before he was beyond exhausted…before we spent all afternoon and early evening in the Children’s Museum of Richmond–watching him run himself silly when he was only afforded a 15 minute power-nap.

In the photo above, he was snacking on cheese, wearing a cute monkey hat, and saying the photo-appropriate, “Cheese!”

When we were at the museum, I noticed a milking cow…that actually produced something that looked a lot like milk.

A few minutes later, our friends’ son went over to the cow and said, “Look Daddy, it’s peeing!”

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FedEx has jumped on the blogging bandwagon with fun and creativity…and they’re using a few mom bloggers!

A total of six bloggers contribute to a DIY idea blog with projects categorized for parents, offices, business growth, holidays, event planning, and home organization.¬† It’s kinda like a department store, albeit a FedEx department store, captured via blog.

I love the post on the updated Christmas cookie swap and the family recipes cookbook.  In fact, my grandmother and great aunts very painstakingly hand write their favorites on recipe cards to pass along to family.  I think I may make a book to share with my family, and as something that I can pass along to my son.

I can’t wait until he’s older and I can teach him how to REALLY cook.

What would I create?¬† Actually, I’ve been making mosiac mobiles and magazine cut-out posters for my son’s room.¬† To help them last a little longer, I think I’d get them laminated.

Once he starts churning out finger painting and coloring pictures, I’d like to add his name and date to the very best ones, and laminate those and add them to a 3-ring notebook that I will forever cherish.

YOUR TURN:

Would you try any of the ideas listed on the Out of Office blog?  What are some of your creative suggestions?

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I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of FedEx Office.  In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.  Read my full disclosure policy.

Have you made your shopping and preparation plans for Christmas dinner?  Is the current economy affecting how you will plan and spend on holiday meal preparations?

This December, Walmart is offering a budget-savvy option to help moms entertain while staying within a reasonable budget.  With options to create a Christmas meal for 8 at the price as little as $20 and a New Year’s meal for 10 for under $40, who could say no?

Chef Aaron Sanchez, co-host of Food Network’s, Chefs vs. City, has teamed up with Wal-Mart to create easy and affordable recipes for entertaining your guests this season.

I’m eager to try the green bean & pecan casserole and the chipotle mashed potatoes.¬† (Drooling on the keyboard…)

Walmart’s $30 Christmas feast for eight starts with family-favorite ingredients, including the following:

  • One 10-pound spiral cut half-ham
  • Three 8-ounce cans Del Monte Green Beans
  • One 10-pound bag of Russet potatoes
  • One 12-count package of Sara Lee dinner rolls
  • One 10 inch Pumpkin Pie

Of course, if Walmart had consulted a nutritionist or a doctor mom (I know of such a doctor mom!), there might be different ingredients on that feast list.

I’m not a fan of anything ham or pork since it’s processed and laden with chemicals that aren’t necessary or beneficial to the body (quite the opposite, actually).¬† So, instead I’d recommend a turkey or prime rib on that menu.

Also, not a fan of bleached white flour–it’s just gluten and paste to add inflammation to the body and impede nutrient absorption and digestion.¬† Instead, I’d recommend creating homemade stuffed mushrooms or even sour dough based rolls (the fermentation process of sour dough makes it digestible and non-inflammatory to the body).

As for the pumpkin pie, I’d recommend making a buttery and delicious gluten-free pie from scratch.¬† In fact, I’d like to make this one from Gluten Free Cooking.¬† Making a pie from scratch might take more time and preparation, but it will cost less than purchasing a pre-made white flour pie–and it will probably taste 10 times better!

Even so, I know I can stretch out a dollar with coupons and sales flyers to create a fabulous holiday feast for my family with healthy and delicious dishes.

YOUR TURN:

What are you planning to serve for your Christmas or holiday dinner?  What have you done to save money during the 2009 holiday season?

WIN IT!

Two winners will receive a gift card to Walmart valued at $30.

To enter, leave a comment relevant to this post prior to January 2nd at 11:59 p.m.  Please follow the contest rules and avoid any generalized comments, or you will be disqualified.

FOR A SECOND ENTRY: Blog about this giveaway, then leave a comment with a link to your post.

FOR A THIRD ENTRY: Tweet (include @drdolly) about this giveaway, then leave a second comment telling me that you tweeted with a link to your tweet.

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I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Wal-Mart.  In addition, I received a Walmart gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate and two to offer as a give away.  Read my full disclosure policy.
*UPDATE*

Congratulations to the winners (#32) Cheryl W, and (#26) Sky!

My son put on the red art smock all by himself–the same smock I wore in Kindergarten.¬† Sensing he was in a creative mood, I happily gave him his box of colors.¬† I even scrawled colors on a few pictures in the old coloring and writing books that I used as a child that I’d handed down to my son.

Even as I reached for my camera to snap a few photos of this creativity-filled mother-son bonding moment…Calvin said something that made me pause.

Chew.

A closer look…

Bluey-green smudges on the corners of his mouth and smashed into his molars like the gooiest of caramels.

Mother-son bonding moment and numerous cute photos were suddenly cut short.  Colors were returned to their out-of-reach shelf.

Someone’s toothbrush got an incredible workout.

Then, someone’s mother downed a mug of blueberry green tea in 30 seconds flat.

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During a blizzard, it’s been pretty rad getting realtime temp and snow level updates online and via Twitter from others in the Charlottesville community.¬† I’ve been following @cbs19weather and @nbc29 for the latest during the storm, and after the fact to hear about road conditions and more.

My husband’s been out and about every day in his 4×4 truck, but I’ve been at home with Calvin.

We’ve ventured outside to build a snow boy. (Calvin was particular about the name).

And today, we went on a walk around the block today to see the neighbor’s chickens.

Along the way, we helped an elderly lady who’d stumbled in the snow while trying to shovel her sidewalk (and avoid the ticket the city threatens to give starting tomorrow).¬† We also found a very large UPS truck that couldn’t quite make the turn in the snow…since the city hasn’t been able to plow all the secondary streets (yet, they’re going to fine city residents who don’t shovel their walks…makes perfect sense).

Side note: 30 minutes later, the UPS truck was still stuck…even with 2 employees shoveling around the tires and 6 other neighbors pushing…Steve “towed” them out and pulled them downhill.

A recent tweet from @nbc29:

There is a hidden benefit to a snow storm like what Charlottesville experienced this past weekend: it has kept crime down. http://ow.ly/OIoW

That’s pretty awesome.¬† Even more awesome is seeing this place act more like a community when everyone’s going through a similar hardship.

  • Folks with power and running water offered to house friends who were without
  • Over 1000 people with 4 wheel drive volunteered to shuttle hospital personnel to work, family members to care for their parents in nursing homes, and help stranded motorists
  • Neighbors shared snow shovels, and some even shoveled snow for their neighbors
  • Neighbors shared food with one another

This place started to feel like Christmas a little early…not because of the hustle and bustle with shopping, pretty sparkly lights, or guys dressed in red suits with white beards…but because people in this town cared for one another when there was a freakish snow storm that made this place feel like it was a little less modern and convenient.

Neighbors acted a little more neighborly.

Although nature’s storms bring lots of havoc and residual problems, I do like that time and time again, they usually cause communities to knit together a little tighter as we pick up the pieces after the fact.

May your home be warm, and your loved ones be by your side this Christmas…that’s all that really matters, anyway.

Merry Christmas!

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