Just Precious

Exciting news! Just Precious is moving

Posted in Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on November 29, 2009

We’re growing up and moving on… to our own site. Please change your bookmarks to our new site: www.just-precious.com.

We’ve sent all of our fantastic articles on education, parenting, shopping and cooking from our wordpress site over to Just Precious. And there you’ll find newer posts in the same topics. We’re exciting about whats to come for Just Precious. And to celebrate, we’re planning a few great giveaways just in time for the holidays.

So, please, bookmark our new site and stop by very often. Let us know what you think. We’re always looking to grow.

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5 Things… I’m Thankful for this Thanksgiving

Posted in Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on November 23, 2009
  1. easyish labor and a not-so-steamy pregnant summer
  2. 3 kids who finally understand how to stay in bed (bite my tongue!)
  3. Trader Joes
  4. Keurig Coffee Machine and www.Coffeeforless.com who ships very quickly
  5. A husband who loves me enough to put up with my late nights planning our trip to Disney. I’m surprised he doesn’t think I’m having an affair with Tour Guide Mike!

5 Things… Teachers love to receive for holiday gifts

Posted in 5 Things..., education, Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on November 9, 2009

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Last week, we posted things that collect dust when gifted to a teacher for the holidays. This week, we’re featuring the good gifts. Want that teacher to really appreciate your thought? Go with one of these:

  1. Gift Card. Really, this is hands-down the best gift. What kind of gift card, though? We’re big fans of Barnes & Noble or Borders, local  movie theater, Sephora (for a female teacher) or a local spa. Amazon is great, too.
  2. Magazine Subscription. Giving a magazine subscription requires a little bit of work. You have to really know the teacher and her interests. Then, once you’ve identified a magazine that she’ll enjoy, call the subscription center. They’ll tell you if she already has a subscription. You’ll also need her address, which isn’t always easy to get. An alternative to all the work? Give a Giftscriptions Magazine Gift Certificate: 50 Choice Magazine Collectionwhere the teacher will get to select the magazine. 
  3. Does she drink coffee? Then a travel mug like this personalized one (not a teacher-y one) is always useful. Slipping a Starbucks gift card inside is an extra bonus–even a $5 card will treat her to a coffee)! And if the school has a Keurig coffee maker for the teachers, find out her favorite flavor and gift her a box of k-cups with a big bow.
  4. Have a teacher new to teaching? Find your local parent teacher store. She’ll love a certificate to use here. Teaching, unfortunately, costs a lot.
  5. Slippers! After a long day on her feet, a teacher loves to come home and get comfortable. Plush slippers (or warm, soft socks) are always a welcome gift. You can usually find great ones that aren’t too costly at Sears or JCPenney. Or spoil her feet with slippers by N*A*P.

The gift that’s most important won’t cost a lot of money, its just the promise to stay on the teacher’s side and to work together to help the children. As a teacher, my favorite gift each year was from a family who sent me their holiday card with the kids’ picture. On the back were quotes from the kids from the past year. I still have those in a box of memories. The teacher mugs, scented candles and lotions were given to charity… usually about a week or two into January.

Making dinners easier, Step 1: Sign up with a Menu Planner

Posted in Just Precious is Cookin', Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on October 22, 2009

As I said before, I didn’t always know how to cook. And I’m certainly not a chef. But a few handy helpers have made a huge difference in my abilities.

One of my initial problems with cooking was always the planning. 2 pm would roll around and I would have nothing planned. So I’d go with a stand-by, usually tacos or Shake & Bake. But that would always require a trip out to the store for last minute lettuce. If not, I’d just bake a piece of chicken with dressing drizzled on top, which never works unless you marinate it and let it sit for at least 4 hours and toss any canned veggie in the microwave two minutes before we sat down. Dinner was getting later and later. Less and less original. And more and more unhealthy. I recall my husband saying, “I think when I was younger my mom always had at least a meat, a starch and a vegetable on the plate.”

On a very random search for a last minute meal plan, I came across DinnerPlanner, a resource that became my cooking guide for the next year. Yes, an entire year. I didn’t hesitate to sign up for their newsletters (there’s a nominal fee, which is totally worth it because in the end you’ll learn to plan meals, you’ll teach yourself how to cook and adapt and you can create a year long cookbook dinners if you print out each week of meals ).

Each Thursday in 2006 a newsletter landed in my mailbox with 7 suggested meals, a color-coded shopping list and a menu–for the week. I printed it out immediately. Over the weekend I would select 4 or 5 meals*, depending on the week ahead. Following selecting, I pulled out the shopping list and crossed off the items from the recipes I didn’t need. (Of course, I also added my staples). Every Monday morning (and this is key because part of meal planning is living by routine) I took my list to the grocery store, bought exactly what I needed and left. My weekly grocery shop was lower than everyone I knew. And I only went on Mondays, no more wasting an hour every other day to pick up lettuce. And each day I knew exactly what I was going to make, not just that night, but the next night, too.

The meals at most menu planning sites are simple enough to make in less than an hour, often around 20 minutes (though that doesn’t include chopping–we’ll get to that in a few weeks.) But make sure you read the instructions ahead of time. You may need to marinate overnight. Or your dinner could be a roast or to make in crockpot which will take a bit longer. It took me more than two months to remember to check for marinades and messed up my dinner plans way too often.

There are plenty of menu planning websites and cookbooks. Most important for you is to select one and stick with it. Make sure you subscribe with an active e-mail. Trust me, you won’t motivate remember to visit the site weekly.  Give it a few weeks to get used to it and make it your new routine. Then come back here and look for Step 2: Adapting your meals and picking favorites.

*Never plan for 7 days, you’re certain to waste food. Plan for at least one night of leftovers.In addition, I like to plan a pizza night and/or a night out.

Another once-a-day shopping site: this time for kids

Posted in Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on October 15, 2009

totsy

I’m a little overloaded on the must-see-once-a-day shopping sites. You know, the ones that announce a different sale each day at amazing prices. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a huge list that I scroll through each morning over coffee.

Here’s a new one, just launching this month: Totsy. Go ahead and check out the private sales for moms and kids. You’ll get 40-70 percent off fantastic, quality lines. Today they’re featuring discounts on Kettler, My Vintage Baby, and Zigo. I even have an invitation code for you:  JustPrecious, just then fill in your contact information and get started shopping.

Just in time to finish start holiday shopping.

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My kids don’t know their Princesses (A Night at Disney on Ice)

Posted in Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on October 15, 2009

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I realized this last night at Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic in Philadelaphia. About halfway through the first act, I was narrating the story of Beauty and the Beast to Middle, my four year old son. He was amazed at this enormous monster that the audience loved. “Why,” he asked, “does everyone “boo” the “normal man”?” There was total confusion, too, when the candlestick, mop and teapot started singing. Of course, it ended happily with the Beast turning into a handsome prince, but that part went way over Middle’s head. He never realized that Beast becomes Prince.

I wanted to relax and enjoy the rest of the show quietly, but following Belle’s story, several other princesses and handsome princes greeted us with a gorgeous couples skate. As I introduced each to Middle it occured to me: my boys  know every action-adventure animated feature by Disney. They can repeat Buzz and Woody’s script. They tell you what Dash will do 3 scenes ahead of the scene on the screen, and they’ll summarize Marlon’s search in the  most detailed description. But they have no idea who the princesses are, much less their stories.

Not knowing Disney’s Princesses didn’t stop them from loving the event. From the second Mickey and company skated out onto the floor to open the show to the finale when every child in the packed Wachovia Center felt a character truly waved good-bye to him personally, my boys (even my babysitter who, of course, knew all the princesses) were captive to the enchantment that is Disney. For two hours we were all lifted to that magical world where life happens around us, the stories take us in and we sit in awe unable to wipe smiles from our faces. I can’t fathom a person in the arena who wasn’t enchanted last night.

As we were leaving, my sitter asked Middle what his favorite part was?  “The cotton candy.” (Good, because it was $10 and I had to get two since someone in marketing oh-so-cleverly attached a crown with ears to each bag of cotton candy… and there was no way to get by with just one crown with ears.)

“Okay,” I asked. “What was your favorite part on the ice?”

“The Incredibles!” Big, my 6-year-old shouted.

“Ummm… Yeah, The Incredibles!” copied Middle.

About 30 minutes into our car ride home, when I thought they were all sleeping, Middle whispered, “Mommy, do you know when Mickey came out in the very beginning on ice skates with all of his friends?”

“Of course I do,” I whispered back.

“That was my real favorite part,” he said. And with a smile and his crown with ears on his head, he drifted to sleep.

We recieved tickets to see Disney on Ice: 100 Years of Magic from Feld Entertainment. If you don’t yet have tickets and have a 3-8 year old, you should. Buy your tickets at www.comcasttix.com with coupon code MOM for four tickets for $44 for Monday through Friday matinee shows, and  $4 off Friday night and weekend shows.  At least four tickets need to  be purchased for the code to be valid. My favorite part was the Mulan segment (which also had to be summarized), followed closely by Toy Story because my boys were so in awe of what was in front of them.

phillies image – Bing Images

Posted in Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on October 7, 2009

 

phillies image – Bing Images

A quick shout out: GO PHILLIES!!!!!

Happy Birthdays

Posted in Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on September 15, 2009

 

Friday’s Facebook Status: can’t believe she has a 6-year-old, a 3-year old and a 4-week-old.

Saturday’s Facebook Status: can’t believe she has a 6-year-old, a 4-year old and a 4-week-old.

Sunday’s Facebook Status: can’t believe she has a 6-year-old, a 4-year old and a 1-month-old.

Yes, its that time of year at our house. Birthday time. No, it wasn’t planned. My boys were born 2 years and 20 hours apart. To the minute. In the same hospital room. My daughter came along 3 years, 11 months and 1 day later.  Always a busy time for us, this year we’re hosting 3 parties in 3 days. 

I try to make birthdays big around our house. I’m not hosting a Bar Mitzvah or wedding every year, but a person’s birthday is worth celebrating and recognizing. In-other-words, not just another boring day. The first time that I realized that a birthday is not a holiday, was the year my mom explained that she still had to go to work on her birthday.

Making a birthday a holiday isn’t for everyone. In fact, it was a sort of culture clash for me when I realized that my husband hadn’t celebrated his birthday with his family in years. They didn’t call, didn’t always write and he hasn’t been gifted since I met him. It still takes a lot for him to celebrate my birthday.  Our first birthday together time he got my mom flowers–very sweet. But the following few years my birthday was never a celebration as I had hoped. I remind him time and again that the day is approaching and usually end up making my own plans. We  do this for the kids, if not for me. Attentioning a birthday is meaningful, its respectful, and it shows one cares. And while I know he cares, he needs to show it and to teach it to our children. He is, after all, the children’s role model.

I’m grateful for every birthday we can celebrate. And I’m hoping for many, many more for all of us. I’ll attention birthdays with the respect and celebration I think they deserve: for they celebrate a life. And I’ll teach my children to recognize these days as a cause for celebration with that same respect.

[This was written the last week of August. Sigh. Someday I’ll catch up… It was originally written to celebrate the American Cancer Society’s More Birthdays Campaign.]

Set your DVRs, Program your TiVOs

Posted in Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on September 8, 2009

I made a mistake tonight. A big one. With everything going on (beginning of school for the kids, the baby, the huz getting back on his regular work schedule, blogging, my store, birthday parties… shall I go on?) I missed season premieres. I’m now going to have to watch 90210 over the internet which is less than ideal when I could have seen it on my big screen while my husband worked and I fed the baby.

I’m NOT going to make that mistake with one of the season’s hottest new shows: CBS’ The Good Wife, starring Juliana Margulies and Chris Noth. The huz and I viewed the pilot a few weeks ago and we were immediately hooked. We actually resented being sent the pilot over the summer because it was too much of a big tease. We loved it. We wanted more. And instead of being told to wait a week for a new episode, we had to wait about 8 weeks. And with a scheduled September 22 premier dates, we’re still waiting.

Alicia (Margulies) was a fledgling lawyer before putting her career aside to be the wife of a politician (Noth) and raise her family. Several years later, when her husband admits to corruption, Alicia’s left to raise her family alone (though with the “help” of her MIL) while her husband fights his sentence in jail. Quickly hired by a competitive law firm, Alicia must be a wife, a mother and a lawyer required to fight to keep her job.

Its something I fear. Though I trust my non-political husband to never be corrupt, or cheat, or us have a problem big enough to send us through a spin quite as big as Alicia, I do recognize that having given up my career in education 6-and-a-half years ago, it won’t be easy to get back into it, should I ever need to. Alicia’s lucky. She has connections and is hired; perhaps if my life was a serial I, too, would win a high-paying position within a few days of looking. But the competition with the new, younger associates at the firm intimidate her, just as they may intimidate me as I would compete for a position against new teachers: who would you rather have represent you: A lawyer out of the court room for several years or one who just earned his JD, with a resume full of apprenticeships? A teacher who took 8 years off from teaching to stay home with just 3 children or a teacher who is fresh out of school, but has the experience of a student teaching position?

In addition to the competition, I fear the adjustment: I’ve lived life without a boss (if you don’t count my kids and husband as bosses), without a schedule that never changes, no homework, nothing keeping me from my family for hours at night. I’ve been to every milestone and large and small in the kids lives. Soccer game at 3 pm? No problem. Their biggest cheerleader will be there. And if the husband needs me to join him at a work dinner at 5 pm, I can drop everything, call a sitter and be his pleasant wife. But if I’m working, I’m on a set schedule, leaving at 7 am, returning home as late as 6, and on evenings with meetings even later. Its a change I’m terrified of making.

I look forward to watching Alicia and family adjust to their new routine, their struggles to suddenly enter this new world of a WOHM, and without the support of her husband. I’ll watch it for the competition in the firm. For the stress of the courtroom scenes. For more fast talk and deep thinking to determine how to solve a problem. I’ll watch for the smart script, Alicia’s strong character and quiet determination. I

And, really, I’ll watch because I’m already hooked.

Get hooked: check out the preview on CBS’ website.

Here’s something ABSOLUTELY precious

Posted in Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on August 2, 2009

My new baby girl! I’m trying hard to keep personal pictures and stories over on my family blog, but some things are too precious to skip mentioning.

Baby girl surprised us early! Born Thursday at 4:54 am. We’re home and enjoying every little hic-up, coo and gurgle that she shares.