1. Goodbelly - In the last several weeks of December, my household suffered from bronchitis, strep, and some other unknown cold/fever nasty thing that went undiagnosed. Me, who usually gets it worst and last because I'm so exhausted and run down taking care of everyone else, did not get sick at all. This has never ever happened in the my personal history of parenthood. I kept waiting for it and it never came.
Was it a miracle? Was it because I've been working out every day and eating a meticulously healthy diet with zero stress? Ha ha ha...that's so funny. Not! It was holiday season, remember?
The only thing I did differently was drink a shot of probiotics every day without fail. I friend of mine recommended GoodBelly and I'm sooooo grateful! I was sneezed on, coughed on, barfed on, exhausted from listening to coughing all night, and yet I didn't get sick. My little shots of probiotics aren't cheap (just over a $1 each), but much cheaper than a doctor visit, prescription meds, cold medicine, hot and sour soup, and being unable to take care of my family. Plus, there's a bonus smiley face with every shot!
2. Live internet streaming on my tv - We bought a Wii two years ago for Christmas, and for some unexplainable reason, never realized it included WiFi that could talk to the wireless router. We thought we either had to hook up the internet directly with a cable (total pain!), or buy a special device that we could connect to transmit a signal that would talk to the router. When people said they streamed movies through their Wii, I thought they did something like the direct hook up or special device. I had NO IDEA they were simply using their Wii. Duh!
Only until I posted a please-tell-me-what-you-know-that-I-don't status on Facebook, did a kind (and way more technologically saavy ya kinda nerdy and much much younger) friend, Nicole, instant message me with a step-by-step personal and very patient tutorial on how to make it happen. And, much to my beyond appreciative delight, we were finally (and easily) connected. Yessssssssssssss!
I kicked myself around for a bit for being such a major dork for not knowing something so simple, but hey, all that is in the past now. Besides, it only took me twenty two of my adult years to discover puff pastry and I couldn't be happier!
Bonus: For Christmas, my husband just so happened to get a Blu-ray player with WiFi, so now we can also get Netlix through that (with much better quality) and all kinds of other cool stuff.
Live streaming is AWESOME!
3. Conditioner that really works - Hey, a woman needs her favorite beauty products that work exactly the way she wants...and hopefully even better. I recently discovered this conditioner by Bead Head called Urban Anti-dotes after trying dozens of different brands through the years. My fine curly (dry) hair has never felt softer and my curly haired daughter squealed with glee the first time she tried it and was able to run the brush through her conditioner filled hair in the shower. Yes, I know, it's only conditioner, but if I don't have to fight my hissing screaming crying daughter over brushing out those nasty tangles, my life is SO MUCH HAPPIER.
4. Puff pastry - A new discovery this year. I even wrote a whole post about the flaky yummy goodness. I buy several boxes at a time from Trader Joe's so I always have some on hand for bursts of inspiration. The slow cooked pork leftovers? Why, how perfect for a pulled pork, corn, and cheese turnover! Very ripe bananas? Hello Nutella and banana pastry! Need a quick but impressive cookie? Yumm to the cinnamon-sugar palmiers I tried for a holiday party. Oh, the possibilities are endless for this new staple in my baking repertoire.
perfect french toast recipe (you only use the egg yolks!).
5. Soundhound app - I use this clever app all the time on my smartphone when I like a song and want to know the artist and song name. I'm not the best with remembering artists/group names, so I LOVE this and just think it's a fantastic invention. Just point at the music, tap, and wait as it listens, then it amazingly tells me all about the song. Plus, if I'm in the mood for buying some new music, I can go back over my history and see what artists and songs I liked.
Now, if only someone would invent an app that I could point at the tv screen, take a picture of an actor, and tell me what tv show or movie I know them from. How cool would that be?!
6. Water fountain - At the end of the summer, I snagged a water fountain on sale for a steal. I always dreamed of a having a water feature in my backyard, ideally a flowing stream with koi fish and natural plants, but realistically a simple fountain that doesn't require much effort. The new fountain sits on a dirt area right by a backyard facing window. There are big plans for that dirt area (a kind of "zen" garden meditation spot), but I didn't want to wait until that was finished to benefit from having a working running fountain.
I always thought I'd like hearing the sound of water flowing in my backyard and now I know for sure - I love it and it makes me so happy!
8. Eight year olds - What a different breed these eight year olds are! My "tween" kids are much more introspective, opinionated, philosophical, independent, serious, aware of other people's actions and how it compares to them, more confident in who they are, easy and fun to talk to, understanding what's imaginary versus real, active and sporty, into humor and funny stuff (the endless jokes abound), friendships and relationships (it's such a girl thing!), and all around fascinating people to be around.
When my kids were much younger and I'd talk to friends with older children about how hard parenting was at different stages, and many told me that the age of eight was their favorite age. I keep this in mind when my very own eight year olds get a little bit too cocky or obnoxious or annoying. I savor this wonderful age because, well, next stop...puberty!