Sandy’s Shoes & Toys: Happy Feet in Austin

If you live in Austin, TX, and you haven’t checked out Sandys’ Shoes & Toys, you’re missing out on a sweet treat for little feet. We discovered this cool shop many years ago and it’s really the only place I buy shoes for my kiddos.

The staff is helpful, the new store is amazing and the shoe selection is phenomenal.  The folks at Sandy’s turned us on to Tsukihoshi brand shoes about four years ago and we’ve been buying them ever since. These are my most favorite tennis shoes for the kidlets. I like Pediped too. You should see the new Teva sport sandals. They’re so cool.

In addition to the shoes, Sandy’s has a great toy selection. The new store on West Anderson Lane has lots of extra room and is the perfect home for lots of awesome brands including the largest selection of Melissa & Doug toys in the entire country!

Family Life is in Bloom at Momologie

Momologie is my new favorite daily newsletter! I know you already gets lots of email, but this one is worth the space.

Momologie is a free daily newsletter and website that delivers must – read information for living family life to the fullest.  It is the one-stop location for practical, creative recommendations, tips, and picks that are a simple reflection of every mom’s lifestyle and personality.  These daily emails are addicting and you’ll be sure to love the tidbits of inspirational and creative information focused on home / organizing, holidays / celebrations, personal style, food / recipes, and travel.  As a bonus, Momologie subscribers have the chance of winning great items through the giveaways offered within the daily newsletter.  Michele and Gia from MiGi launched Momologie in the fall – smart girls!

Hop on over to Momologie and have some fun! Also, check out a Momologie’s giveaway on Droolicious. Enter to win an adorable 4-piece MiGi Baby Bedding Set.  The drawing will be held on Mother’s Day 2010!

A Balanced Breakfast for Picky Eaters: 5 Tasty Tips

I know breakfast seems like a no-brainer, but what if you’ve blessed with picky eaters? My kiddos don’t like milk or eggs, so cereal and scrambled eggs don’t work in my house. Here are a few tips from Connie Evers, M.S., R.D., nutrition expert and mother of three:

1. – Get up & eat! – Get the kids up earlier on weekdays to spend time together and eat a proper breakfast.

2. – Be a role model – Moms who eat a balanced morning meal benefit and set a great example.

3. – Provide small portions – If your kiddo claims to not be hungry in the morning, offer a smaller breakfast and pack a snack.

4. – Get organized – Keep your kitchen stocked with “grab and go” foods like yogurt, bananas, grapes, juice boxes, whole grain English muffins, pita bread and Nutella. Even on the most rushed days, you can send them out the door with a balanced meal!

5. – How can Nutella be part of a balanced meal? Spread it on whole grain toast and serve it with fresh fruit. Just make sure you don’t go crazy on the portions. Eating an entire jar of Nutella in one sitting isn’t really part of the plan. 😉

I’m excited to announce a Nutella Giveaway on Droolicious! The contest will go live in the morning and the lucky winner will get THREE FREE JARS of Nutella. Click here to find the post.

Shining Through: Proving Autism Wrong at a NASCAR Race

As you know, MommyQ is a huge NASCAR fan and has been for many years. Oddly enough, I grew up in Virginia and had no interest in NASCAR whatsoever while living there. Now I’m practically a Texan and a NASCAR fan for about 3 years. My hubby & I headed to Texas Motor Speedway last weekend for the Samsung 500. Yeehaw! What started out as a rainy, cold, muddy mess turned out to be one of the best weekends ever.

We arrived hoping for sunshine, but spent the day in a gloomy, wet mess. We’ve seen races get rained out on television many times, but this was the first one we had to experience in person. Not fun! The worst part was the mudfest in the parking lot. We got stuck almost instantly, but thanks to pushes from a few fans (in exchange for beer) we got out and found a tiny slice of dry land. Anyway, we shopped for fan gear and ate corny dogs and then they called the race. The new start time was noon on Monday. Back to Austin…

During the 3-hour drive home on Sunday, we decided to come back the next day for the race and bring our kiddos. Our little ones are HUGE NASCAR fans and we thought it would be the ultimate surprise. As you may know, our oldest child is 5 and was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder a few years ago. What could make a NASCAR race difficult for an autistic child? They usually detest loud noises, they don’t do well in huge crowds, they become easily overstimulated in a stadium environment and so on. We discussed the potential issues and decided to give it a try anyway.  Three more hours in the car that may or may not be worth the effort.

To make a long story short, our kids were in shock & awe as soon as they heard the roar of the engines. We arrived a bit late, so the race was underway. In Dallas, you can hear the cars long before you can see them. With headphones on securely, we walked up the stadium steps and the look on my kid’s faces was a look I will always remember. Sheer joy! The youngest was a bit scared of the noise, even with headphones. But my oldest child defied every trait of autism and he was in heaven. He immediately started pointing to the cars as they flew by us at an amazing rate of speed and named the drivers.

We stood there for a moment, all of us trying to absorb the thrill and the magnitude of the race. We moved to our seats and my little distracted duck continued to point at each car until he had probably named them all about 10 times. Last year, this would not have happened. Last year it was hard to simply communicate, let alone attend an event this big and this loud with so many moving pieces. I’m not sure he would’ve understood where he was or made the connection or understood he was supposed to sit and watch. It would’ve been a three hour drive for a 10 minute stay.

Monday was special because we enjoyed a family pastime together as any normal family. We cheered when our drivers did well and cheered even louder when Jeff & Tony wrecked right in front us! We avoided the rain and enjoyed a beautiful cloudy day together, inhaling race fuel and cigarette smoke. Sounds gross, but it’s the smell that lets you know you’re a true fan. Best of all, two things were shining that day — the sun and my son.