Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

Wow, has it really been three weeks since I posted?! I am so sorry!! The flu took two weeks to go through our family. We had 4 anti-nausea prescriptions and one trip to the ER with DD1. The twins were puking for 10 days alone. Then it has taken me a week to just recover. BUT we are all better now and hopefully will stay that way for a while. :)

I thought I would start back in with a weigh in. This has been SO helpful for me to have y'all along for the ride. Since I last posted I have lost another 5 pounds. That makes 20 so far. Can you believe it?! When I started it seemed like such a huge thing to do. Now, I only have 10 to go. I am consistently running 3 miles - slowly. But I am able to do it without stopping.

It has been very helpful to look at this as a lifestyle change instead of just wanting to obtain a certain size. After a while the look looses it's fun when people get used to you being skinny. But when I am trying to be healthy for life then I keep going.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Flu Battle

Dear Readers,

The DH had a bout with the stomach flu over the weekend, the twins started today, and it looks like I am up to bat. Then who knows who is up next...

I am sorry to do this to you, but I am not going to post the rest of the week... Just wanted to give you a heads up so that you don't keep checking in and wondering what is going on.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

This morning started out as a tough run. My ipod ran out of batteries just as it was getting hard (which was pretty early on :). Also, I couldn't find my workout hat so the sun was in my eyes, and DD1 was out with an injury.

Despite all of that, the morning was gorgeous and I ran 3 miles without stopping!! When I started all of this all I did was run down our street and walk back up it three times. Now I ran the whole development. Small and simple steps can take you long distances.

Also, I lost two pounds this week. So that makes 15 so far!! I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight and halfway to where I want to be.

The tip this week comes from my father-in-law -and he doesn't even know it. He and my MIL are avid runners. I asked him once how he got to LIKE running. To my surprise he told me he doesn't like it. He said it is like banging your head against a wall - it feels so good when you stop.

So today when it got hard, I thought, "It's like banging your head against the wall Jen, it will feel so good when you stop." And it did!!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cheap Teacher's Gifts

Dear Mags and Emily,

Thanks for posting to the Hum Drum post. You have given me topics that should keep me going for the next little while. What a relief for all of us! ;)

So first off I will tackle cheap teacher gifts since the end of school is just around the corner. (sob, sob.) Mags, I LOVE the vase idea. I can envision it and it is adorable. You are so crafty!

Another version is an empty soup can, covered with paper your child has decorated, filled with pencils. If you want to go a step further, you can order pencils with the teacher's name on them. This helps her/him not loose so many to borrowers. ;)

*I have given sticky notepads to teachers who send home lots of notes on them. (Not glamorous, but meaningful.)
*A gift card for an icecream/coffee shop. (Ten dollars at one of these places will cover the cost of whatever they want, vs. only covering a pittance of the tab at a resturant.)
*Wildflowers your child picked for them put in a vase decorated by them.
*DD1 is giving a clearance coffee mug to her teacher this year because the teacher kept breaking hers.
*Do a Google search using "cheap teacher gifts" as the key words. I hit the first link from There were a lot of fun cute ideas. (If you click on the title of this post it will take you to this website.)

Hope this helps!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hum Drum

For those of you who write blogs, you know how difficult it can be to come up with new and exciting material multiple times per week. It is a bit like running a small scale magazine. There are times when the ideas come fast and furious, and then there is the brain block. Right now, I feel a bit of blog block going on.

This is where you come in....Do you have a great tip/idea to share? What do you want to know from me?

Please tell me so that I can get through this block...


Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

This post is dedicated to my friend and reader Sara. She pops in comments here and there, and I knew she was trying to be more healthy. She is keeping to her plan and looks terrific! She really helped inspire me this week. Her tip - more veggies and water. I tried to focus on that week. It was hard because I'm not a big veggie lover, but I am trying....Thanks Sara!!

This week I lost another pound. So far that makes 13. It seems like it is taking forever and I can feel that I am in a slump. The newness has worn off, and the workouts are becoming harder. I have found it helpful that we are signed up for a 5k. I really want to run it without stopping and that helps get me out the door.

The good news it that I can now run two miles without stopping. That is such a huge improvement over where I started. I am dedicated to making this a lifestyle which is helpful too. It's not just about the weight, it is about being healthy for our five kiddos and the sweet DH. Have a great weekend!!

Weak Things Become Strong - FINALLY!

For the last ten years, I have been fighting with clothing. I can sort and organize a million coupons but clothes were kicking my trash. Keeping track of the sizes, the seasons, what's stained, what matches, what to save, etc. just makes my head spin and I would literally shut down.

Recently we were handed 8 bins of clothing. A wonderful blessing, but a mental nightmare for me. I made DH literally sit right by me to help me and this time I finally figured out a system!! So bring on the hand-me-downs because I can rock it now!!

First step: Sort into sizes. Don't worry about seasons, matching outfits, etc. at this point.

Second step: Sort into pants, shorts, long sleeve, short sleeve, dresses, etc. Then cascade layer them so that you can see exactly what colors and how many repeats you have. I allow 10 of each category and I get rid of any patterned bottoms. (This is key for me. Pattern bottoms are so hard to match with other things!!!)

Third step: Take your tops and place on top of cascade. This makes it really easy to see how many pants the shirt actually goes with. If it doesn't go with more than two or three, the top gets tossed.

Fourth step: Keep a tally of what you have in each size so that it is easy to pick up what you need at yard sales. Having plain bottoms also makes this easy because you can get really cute tops without having to worry about if you have pants to match.

Fifth step: put in bin and store away until needed.

I am so excited about this!! I have been working on it for such a long time and it finally clicked!! I'd like to know how you organize your clothes. Please tell me so that I can tweak if need be.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Did the Doctor Say?

Hopefully by now my DMIL has picked herself up off the floor from the doctor post. :) (Don't worry, DH and I are doing just fine.) But I have had many inquiring minds want to know two things: 1. How did DH handle the situation and 2. What did the doctor say when I called him.

DH was a super star through the whole thing, which I give him major points for. But he said that he appreciated the fact that I told him I had these feelings up front AND that I didn't like it. He said it would have been much different if I had been trying to hide it and he found out from someone else. Like I mentioned before he said that we all get tempted with these kinds of feelings, it's what we do with them that matters. Do you see now why I feel so strongly about being faithful to him?! He is AWESOME!!

Now for the Doc...First of all it was a totally awkward conversation for both of us, and he handled it well. He said that these situations are common and that I needed to go to someone I felt totally comfortable with. He thought I was talking about just my care, and said that he would see me at the twins' check-up. I just wanted to get off the phone at that point and didn't correct him. I think he'll get the picture when we don't schedule with him. ;)

DH thought it was pretty gutsy that I posted this. But I am so shocked with all the marriages I see failing around me - many due to affairs. I want to be a voice saying that these things don't "just happen". We may be tempted, but we also make conscious decisions and have control of both our feelings and actions. I hope that this post will give others the courage to tackle this head on, save their marriages, or at least make them stronger. Use it as a conversation starter. We need to fight for fidelity!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dececeptively Delicious - Sloppy Joes

Happy Monday to everyone! It has been a while since I critiqued a recipe so let's do that today... Jessica's sloppy joes leave much to be desired. She packs in a lot of nutrition with both butternut and sweet potatoes. However, the tomato past makes it a really pasty texture and the taste was really bland. So I give this a 5 out of 10. My kids ate about half of their serving before calling it quits. I even had a hard time finishing it out.

If you want a really fast and good sloppy joe try this.

1 lb. brown hamburger drained
1 can condensed tomato soup
mix together, heat either on the stove or in the microwave.
serve on whole grain or whole wheat buns.

*Tip. Buy your meat in bulk and brown it with dried onion all at the same time. Drain, let cool, the divide into quart ziplocks putting one pound in each. Then freeze. When you need to use it, thaw in the microwave and it is ready to go. SO handy to make dinner go faster.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

So sorry to skip the midweek post. It has been one of those CRAZY weeks. So I am triple posting today to make up for it. I promise you won't want to miss these posts. ;) Read the Fidelity one first and then the date night. It will make more sense. I tried to fix it, but I am out of time. (Babies are up and DD3 is begging to play.)

It is time for the Friday weigh in....I lost another pound! That makes 12 total so far and I am now only 8 away from what I was before I got pregnant with the twins! See small steps turn into big distances.

Last night I was able to run over a mile without stopping and then mostly ran another 2 miles. I never thought I would be able to do that!! Yeah baby.

*Tip. This comes from Dr. Phil's Weight Loss Solution. Don't have junk food in your house. If it's not there, you can't eat it. Make your environment healthy and then you don't have to have will power to say no to the junk food.

Date Night

During the doctor saga, DH and I decided that we couldn't be passive about our marriage. We needed to keep dating each other, even though it seemed impossible with five kids. To find and pay for a sitter every week would be so expensive. So we do at home dates.

Once a week, we feed the kiddos an early dinner and have them in their room by 7 or 7:30. They can play or read, but they have to stay in their room. And then it is lights out at 8:30. They are in charge of this themselves. The older DDs are in charge of DD3. This has worked out nicely.

We get take-out and have a kid free dinner. Then we watch a movie, play a game or Wii. It isn't much, but it is time to just hangout and reconnect. We LOVE it and look forward to it every weekend.

I'd love to know, what do you and your significant other do to keep the flame burning brightly?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fighting for Fidelity

Did I get your attention with the title of this post? I have been mulling on this one for a while. With the revelation of Arnold's affair, fidelity has been the big talk this week. I have been floored when I read an article saying that it was not realistic to have sex with the same person (being the spouse) for the rest of your life. So the new popular thing to have "negotiated monogamy" where both people can have sex with other people and it was okay. REALLY?! Well, it is time to fight back! Affairs cause so much damage. It is time to fight for fidelity!!

I have to start by saying that I think (and DH does too) that it is normal to feel a spark of attraction for another person. But it is what you do with it that is important. Do you fan the fire or put put it out?

Probably the shortest way to do this is to tell you about my recent struggle. There was a new, young, really cute doctor that joined the practice we go to. Every time we went to see him I noticed that I was getting more and more attracted to him.

Now, I had heard moms talk about the crushes they had on their pediatricians and always thought it wasn't fair to the husbands. (Even though these women viewed it as "normal".) I know if my DH got decked out for a co-worker I'd flip, and I didn't think it was fair that wives do it for their doctor.

When I found myself in a similar situation I decided to douse it. I feel so strongly about being faithful (both physically and emotionally) to my sweet DH that I decided I was going to get rid of the emotions to make sure nothing of the physical would EVER happen. ALL affairs start with emotions.

What did I do? Well, DH and I had a very open discussion about how we both need to be careful. I told him about the struggle with my emotions with the doc and reiterated my determination to be faithful in all ways. I decided that I needed to remove the situation from my life and promised DH that I wouldn't schedule with that doctor anymore.

But I was still struggling. So I did the ultimate douser - I called the doc. I told him that I wasn't going to be scheduling with him anymore - not that he was a bad doc, but because I was too attracted to him. (Pretty gutsy huh? ;)

I did this so that he would know he needed to be careful around me. (He was starting to become more casual with me and had told me that he and his wife had just separated.) I also didn't want to change practices, and may have to see him again. I needed to make sure that we could have a good working relationship.

You know what? After that phone call, the internal struggle stopped. I had taken steps to make sure nothing COULD ever happen. It was over and I felt so peaceful. The fight to protect my emotions and my family was so worth it. I NEVER want to put my family through what affairs do and I will fight forever to be faithful!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Big Race

We had our big race this weekend - and it was AWESOME! The girls loved all the free stuff from the vendors and their cool shirts. I loved that they were having such a great time. Many people took our pictures. I think because we are such a big crew - and the twins too. Don't we just look like a big operation?!

This is us after the race. It started to down pour right as we started and ended shortly after we stopped - go figure. I was so proud of the DDs they ran the whole thing without stopping. (Not many of the kids were able to do that.) They were so stoked that they did it and were begging to do another one. We are now training for a 1 mile and DH and I just signed up for our first 5K. We are a running family!!

*DH was such a trooper. He took care of the twins and DD3 - in the rain and still took footage. (Thankfully he remembered umbrellas.) What a guy. Oh, and Mags, after the race we took them to their favorite restuarant and let them order whatever they wanted. Thanks for that reminder!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

Sorry for the delay with posting today. Blogger was having issues.

This week I lost another pound, but it was a hard fought fight. I must be really stressed because I haven't been as good with the food. (I am a stress eater.) It was also really hard to get to the grocery store, which meant I was out of fresh produce for a few days. NOT a good thing. To compensate, most days I did double workouts - in the morning with the girls and then the exercise bike at night. I need to figure out this stress though, because I can't keep up this schedule!

Tip for this week: Olive Garden Italian dressing. It has as many calories per serving as a fat free dressing. Only the fat comes from oils instead of extra sugars they put in the fat free stuff. You can buy a bottle from an Olive Garden restaurant, but I found a knock off recipe at This stuff is so good that I actually WANT to eat a big salad.

New Recruit

DD2 has been thinking about joining our run for a few months now. She really wanted new shoes, but didn't know if it was worth it. But she decided to take the plunge and is doing great with our training! She is learning all the lessons that DD1 is learning - which I am loving. It is really fun to see them running together as well.

Our first race is tomorrow and we are really stoked about it. Also, we are training for our next race - 1 mile. I am so excited that we are sticking with it and getting better!

*True story. The other night DD2 was whining and flopping around because she was SO tired and just COULDN'T make it to her bed. I said, "Remember, just like with running, you need to take control - even if you're tired." She stopped, got a little smirk, and kissed me goodnight. Lovin' it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Be Your Own Beautiful

DD2 is very aware that she lives different standards than other people. It worries her that she won't fit in or that others think she's weird. So DH and I decided that we needed a lesson on being "different".

I started with daisies. I gave each person a stem and we talked about the qualities of the flowers. What the stem was like, the flower qualities, there were many flowers on each stem, etc. Then we put them in a vase. I pointed out that there were many flowers that were all the same. They were beautiful, and enjoyable, but all the same.

Then I handed each person a rose and we talked about their qualities. One bud per stem, the stem was smooth with spikes- very different than the daisies. I put a rose in with all the daisies and it really stood out, and it was beautiful.

We talked about how our standards are different than many people's, but it is okay. We stand out sometimes, but we are beautiful. Then I had each person stick their rose in and we talked about how even if they felt alone, they always have people in the family who are the same.

It was a really great hands on lesson. I love it too because if they are having a hard time when they are older, I can deliver a bunch of daisies with one rose to their school and they will know exactly what I am saying. Beautiful.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy "Smothers" Day

I hope you had a WONDERFUL Mother's Day. I wasn't planning on posting about it, but it turned out to be such a funny day I thought I needed to.

My family kept asking me what I wanted, and I kept thinking - time alone. That's what I want every year, but how do you say that when they are the reason you are a mother and want to be near you so badly? So this year I decided to change my expectations. I expected that things were NOT going to be what I wished, but I wanted to make it special for my kids. So EVERYTHING they did I tried to love and made a big deal about it.

So here is the funny story. DD3, who is four, really got into the spirit of things Saturday night and started to bring me all sorts of things, saying, "Happy Mother's Day!" I would say, "Oh, green dinosaurs are my favorite!" or "I LOVE Belle." She would beam and run to get me something else. She even started giving me other people's things. DH and I were totally laughing at it all. (Look above for the collection I was getting.)

Then Sunday she kept saying, "Happy Mother's Day" over, and over, and over. Once it came out as Happy Smothers Day and I started laughing so hard. That is the way I felt - smothered - but I was really trying to love it. And you know what, by the end of the day I did.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

This week I have reached a milestone - I fit into a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans!!! I posted a pic of me the night before the twins were born. They were 8 and 7 pounds. (Doesn't that just look painful?! It was. :) I am super excited that I am getting back to where I was before!

So this week I lost 3 pounds!!! So that makes is ten so far - YEAH!! I'm 1/3rd of the way there.

My tip for this week? Sugarfree lifesavers. Whenever I crave a party in my mouth, I pop one of those super low calorie candies in and it satisfies my sweet tooth.

Free Family Fun

If you are looking for a fun, free, family activity. I highly recommend Cabella's sporting goods store. It is like a zoo for outdoor animals, has a live fish pond and tanks. There is also free fudge tasting, and a restaurant if you get really hungry. (However we opted for the dollar hamburgers at the nearby McDonald's.)

We had so much fun and made a lot of fun memories. Here is a fun clip from our trip. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Village People - Saling

It is taking a village to raise our kids. We have many people helping and teaching in many ways. Today I want to introduce you to Eileen. She is a master yard sale woman. She is so good, she actually makes money re-saling the stuff she picks up.

She takes the girls yard saling when they do enough extra jobs to earn $10. They learn how to negotiate, look for quality, walk away from a deal, help each other get the lowest prices, and other business techniques. Our girls LOVE her and love going saling with her.

I love her too and love that she is willing to take our girls out. Sometimes kids listen better to people who are NOT their parents. Also, Eileen is so much better at this art than I am. I love that they are learning from the best. I am excited that yard sale season is on again. I can't wait to see the girls get even better in their negotiating techniques.

*True story. After Halloween DD1 wanted more than just one piece of candy for movie night. I told her she could have three. She said, "mom, it is a special night. Can't we have six?" "SIX?! No way. Four." I said. She responded, "Fine, how about five." "Okay."

Then she says, "I didn't want six anyway. That would make me sick. But I knew I needed to over shoot so that I had room to come back down to five. That is how many I wanted in the first place. Eileen taught me that."

I couldn't believe that I had just been out negotiated by my eight year old. I had to admit - I loved it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Unexpected Lesson

We were eating in the parking lot of Wendy's when the girls asked, "Mom, what does sublease mean?"  I asked where they saw that.  They pointed to an empty bank across the street.

It led to a lesson on leasing, subleasing, contracts, and other money management lessons.  For a while the DDs were really into leasing AND subleasing their stuff to each other.  We finally had to put an end to it because they wouldn't just share, it had to be a business deal.

I love it now when they hear people talking about leasing cars, or renting other things.  They know exactly what that means, and they can ask me educated questions about it.  I love the unexpected lessons.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

I was really nervous about this weigh-in. It was our anniversary and Easter this past weekend so there were a few days where I loosened up a bit. I also didn't touch the scale this week (thanks Mags). I was tempted, I looked at it, but I was strong.

So what happened this week? I LOST ANOTHER POUND!! Yeah!! I am down seven now. I am also noticing that my body is changing. If I try to eat as much as I used to, I feel sick now. I am laying off the carbs and eating more fruits and veggies.

Here is one of my diet tools. I found a Hunger Satisfaction drink at Wegmans. It is made by Crystal Light and is a powder mix-in. There are 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and only 30 calories. I drink one of these for my mid morning snack and my afternoon snack. They are super handy when I am in a rush or getting really munchy. Special K also makes something similar as does South Beach.

Have a great weekend!

Extreme Couponing

extreme couponing, extreme savings, coupon savings, coupon binder I have had a lot of people ask me about the Extreme Couponing show on TLC. How do they do it? Does it really only take them 2-3 hours per week? etc. etc.

In the past I have been one of these people. In fact, I became so good at it that I started a business. (Hence the name of my blog.) Here are my feelings about my experience with Extreme Couponing.

1. It takes about 12 weeks of start up time to get a well rounded coupon inventory. And it takes about that long to start seeing significant savings.

2. It does take time. I would spend anywhere between 2-10 hours per weeks clipping, sorting, matching, and shopping.

3. It has the potential to save a lot of money, but you need to be careful about what you buy. Especially at the beginning you are tempted to get stuff you don't need, just because it is cheap.

4. You need a place to store stuff.

5. You will be shopping and cooking in a different way. You will be buying mostly what is on sale matched with what you have coupons for. So you end up cooking with what you have in your storage, not from a menu. (That was hard for me.)

6. You have to visit different stores to save the most money. That takes time, and gas.

7. Some weeks you totally score, others it's not even worth going out.

8. This is a big one. If you are going to get serious about coupon shopping, get a coupon binder. Period. (Too bad I shut my business down. This would be a perfect plug. :)

9. The more copies of one coupon you have the bigger the savings. I used to get six papers. I isn't that much more work to clip, sort, etc. six papers than it is one.

I feel that this show can be misleading in that they make it look so easy and the savings so big. The women that they show spend hours and hours before hand preparing what they show you. The kind of shopping trips they have only come around every-so-often or with tons of work every week. Plus they know the ins and outs of the coupon world and that takes time to learn.

There is a lot of potential to save money with coupons. And if you need to save money, it is a great thing. However, I have seen that budgeting is actually a more powerful way to make a significant difference with your money.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Do You Do In the Summertime?

It is that time of year, where summer plans need to be made. This hit me last week when the kids were all home for Spring Break, the house was in complete chaos, and I realized this is what it would be all summer. Let's just say I'm scared. So I need ideas - what do you do with your kids in the summer?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dresser Pockets

I have never owned a designated changing table. Instead we put a changing pad on the top of a dresser. For the twins, our nana designed a sides organizer from an over-the-door shoe organizer she picked up at the dollar store. Let's take a look at it...

I love that it converts both sides of the dresser into usable space.

She cut the shoe organizer in half to make the two shorter sides. Then she sewed in to sticky shelf liner to give the changing pad something to grip onto. She also sewed two elastic strips on the bottom pieces to connect them to keep the organizers from flopping around.

This has been so handy to keep all the small stuff that gets jumbled in the drawers and baby shoes that get lost easily. It holds tights and hair bows, meds and thermometers, nail clippers, etc. (I think you get the point.) And it cost about $2 to make. Love it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dececeptively Delicious - Chicken Kebabs Aloha

Today is a review of another recipe. This time the chicken kebabs. The recipe called for whole wheat bread crumbs. Of course I didn't have any on hand so I had to make them. I thought doing them in the oven would take too much time and energy to heat the whole oven. So this is what I came up with. It took about 20 min to completely dry the bread pieces up and I had to stir them occasionally. DH got a kick out it. You never know what you are going to get with me. Ha, ha!

This recipe was super labor intensive and was so messy.

These were also hard because the butternut squash in them would burn while they were cooking. If you make these, be sure you cut the chicken strips very thin for fast cooking.

The finished product. My kids hated these. DH thought they were good. Overall I give them 3 out of ten. Too labor intensive, huge mess maker, and not a big hit.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

This post is a little frustrating for me. I weighed myself yesterday and was down two more pounds. But this morning I am back up one. Ugh. Oh well, at least I am still down one. That is still moving in the right direction! Overall, I am down six pounds. I am 1/5 of the way there! Now I just have to make it through Easter weekend. (Good thing I'm not a huge chocolate fan.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We did it!!

Yesterday, DD1 and I ran 1/2 mile without stopping!! It has been such a challenging, wonderful, and educational journey for us both. It has given me the opportunity to teach her that you have to keep going - even when things get tough. Also that she needs to take control of herself. Especially when she feels she is at her limit and starts whining and flopping around.

It has given us time to chat about her life and makes her feel special because it is just "us" time. If this is a habit I can help her develop for her lifetime I will be happy. I am also hoping that when she becomes a teenager, and no longer wants to hang out with me, maybe she will at least still run with me.

And maybe, when I reach the end of my life and feel I am at my limit, Katelyn will be able to remind me that I need to take control of myself, stop whining, and push through. (Wouldn't that make a great movie?:)

**Some funny things she said this morning...
I saw a mom and dad duck. I pointed them out to her and said the more colorful one was the dad. She said, "I know. But you know, you don't need to be colorful in life to be noticed."

We saw a bus with a teenage boy on it. She thought she recognized him. It wasn't who she thought it was. I said that all teenage boys looked and acted the same. She smiled and said, "Yeah, just like six year olds, only they have more technology and like girls."

As we were walking home I said, "We are stinkin' awesome!!" She replied, "Emphasis on the stinkin'."

And best of all....
We were stretching out and I said, "Aren't you proud of yourself?! You did it!" She replied, "Yeah I guess I over reacted to how hard it would be. It wasn't that bad." Hooray!!! All my pushing and sometimes the moods I had to pull to keep her going payed off!!

To our 1/2, 1/2, 1/2, 1/2, 1/2 Marathon - HERE WE COME!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Professional Mom

Today I am musing about skills. I used to think that if something was going to be done it needed to be 1. Something I was already good at or 2. Done by a professional. Professionals seemed in this completely different realm from me, because I wasn't "professional" at anything.

However, through the years I have realized that the only difference between me and a professional is knowledge. And if I gather enough info and practice I can be a "professional" at most things.

With this said, most of my time is spent being an at-home-mom. So I decided that I wasn't going to be just any at-home-mom. I wanted to be a professional mom. After all, this is the career I have chosen.

How am I doing this? I watch other moms and am constantly asking about how they do things. I read many books/articles and go to classes. And I work on becoming better. I make many mistakes along the way, but overall it seems to being going well-so far.

Now, I tell myself that I am a professional mom - not just a stay-at-home-mom. I save our family HUGE amounts of money by being frugal and we don't have to pay for daycare. We are more healthy because I can cook things from scratch. My bonuses come in kisses and watching my kiddos become more independent. And I am already the CEO of our family so there are no more promotions needed.

This has completely changed my feelings toward my job and I am finding much more satisfaction from it. Lovin' it!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Weigh-in

Okay, so I lied, I'm triple posting today...Just wanted to report that I have lost another pound this week! So that is a solid 5 pounds so far. I'm hoping that if I report to y'all that it will help keep me motivate.

Also DD1 and I can almost run 1/2 mile with out stopping! I know it isn't that far, but it is a HUGE improvement over where we started and we are celebrating that! We are running our first race in a few weeks and are so excited!

I do need your help though. I am getting tired of eating the same foods. So I need your ideas. What do you eat that helps you either maintain or lose weight?! Do you have any other tips that would help? Please tell me!!!

Double Post Friday-Deceptively Delicious- Muffins

The Deceptively Delicious cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld has intrigued me. Could I really hide veggies in foods and still have my kiddos like them? I owned the book for a long time before I dove in. I was intimidated by the purees, but have discovered that it really isn't that bad to make them, if you do them in mass. But I will cover that another post.

Anyway, today I am going to review the Applesauce Muffins. For copyright reasons I don't feel I can write her recipe. However, I will tell you some shortcuts I found and how I made them even MORE healthy than dear Jessica did.

First of all instead of using all-purpose flour I substituted 2/3rds of the flour with bread flour and 1/3 with whole wheat flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content, and whole wheat more fiber. Also, I sprinkled in a few tablespoons of flax seed meal into the batter the second time around and no one could tell a difference.

To make things easier, I mixed the dry and wet ingredients separately the night before and baked in the morning. That worked out okay, except that the brown sugar hardened so that was a pain. But now I just make them at night. They stay fresh for at least 24 hours just sitting out covered with a towel, but they also freeze really well. So don't be afraid to double the recipe. And if you need a quick breakfast or snack, just pop in the microwave for 30 seconds and you're good to go.

When I was making these, my kids were giving me a seriously hard time about it. They were NOT going to eat muffins that had butternut squash in them. However, once they tried them, they were hooked. DD2 said things like, "You're my hero mom!" and, "These are magnificent!" In fact, when I brought home another butternut squash to puree, DD2 was so happy because that meant more muffins!!

Overall, I give these a 10 out of 10. They are super nutritious, low fat, are very filling, and my family LOVES them. I think this recipe will stick around for a long time. Stay tuned for more reviews.

It just went downhill from there....

DH has been pretty busy at work lately which means he leaves early for work. Usually this isn't a big deal because the girls are pretty good to get through their routine badges independently. However, DH is usually the breakfast guy and since he wasn't here today, DD3 decided to be independent and my day went downhill from there...

DD3 LOVES pancakes so DH usually makes a big batch and freezes them. Then it is easy to just warm them up in the microwave. Well, today DD3 decided that since daddy was gone she would do it herself. Well, as you can see, it didn't turn out so well.

I didn't know that things COULD burn in the microwave - let alone this badly. The smell is even worse. My whole house reeks of burn smell and I the air freshener doesn't help. DD3 was crying, but I wasn't mad. How could I be? She was trying to be independent (a skill I LOVE). And I hadn't done microwave training with her. I didn't think she was ready for it. But it looks like ready or not, here it comes....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hair Wars

So you might think that my having FOUR girls, I get to do a lot of hair. If you have seen my girls, you KNOW that they are their own hair dressers. The "Hair Wars" all started with DD2. From the time she could talk (about 18 months) she has been our little fashionista. Still to this day she is unwavering that she will one day be a hair dresser. (I am scheming on how to do this and get her through college. :) Anyway I digress.

When I would try to do her hair she would fight and fight me. When I finally breathed enough threats she would sit still, only to take my hair do out, right after she walked away. What could I do except to raise the white flag on this one? I figured there would be many other fights that were much more important, and I wasn't going to go full out with this one.

After DD1 saw that I wasn't going to fight this, she jumped on the bandwagon too. So for the last 5 years I have had to bite my tongue while my girls have looked vagabond-ish. They however, have taken great pride in the fact that they CAN do their own hair. I took pride in the fact that they were building self-confidence and independence. (At least I could have that.)

Through the years, they have actually gotten much better and so now it isn't such a big deal. But now that they are getting older they want their hair to look really good. So finally they are starting to ASK me to do their hair. I think it is funny how it has come full circle. Some things that are not worth fighting about, you end up winning after all. When they see that mom actually does know best.

*This is a pic of DD2 all dressed up for a date with the DH. She thought she looked spectacular.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tot Tool

I don't know about you, but I get so tired of having to stop what I am doing to turn on/off a light for my kids. But it isn't really fair to make DD3 brush her teeth in the dark when she isn't tall enough to reach the light.

That is when we discovered the highly sophisticated Light Tool a.k.a. a children's clothes hanger. This tool has been awesome and has given DD3 a sense of independence and pride. This is still a new tool to her so as you watch the video, pay attention to how she uses it in different ways until she gets it. She is also demonstrating two different kinds of light switches - the kind that pokes out that you could flip and the other is the kind that is flatter that you push on.

Also a little funny side note. In the first one, if you listen carefully you can hear DD4 spit up and that is when DD3 grosses out. I thought that was so funny! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm Losing It

Some of my dear friends read the title of this post and probably thought, "You've already lost your mind Jen!" My DFs, you are right, I lost my mind a long time ago. This time I'm talking about the baby fat. After seeing myself in the last few posts, I knew it was time to reclaim my body. "How?" you ask. Well, the doctors were right - diet and exercise.

HOWEVER, I do have a few tools that I am finding super useful. The biggest is the food and fitness planner on WebMD. It is like Weight Watchers online, only I find it so much more useful and it is FREE to boot! Every morning, I log into my account and type in the foods I am going to eat that day. Their program counts the calories so that it is easy to configure a menu for the day that meets the caloric needs I have. Then I have a plan for the day - this has been key for me. It takes about 10 minutes. (Click on the title of this post to go to WebMD.)

I also log in my exercise for the day. I don't like how they make you count every little activity you do, but in some ways it makes doing the laundry feel more productive when you know you are burning 100 calories.

Another thing with the exercise is that I am doing it EVERYDAY. I started with the goal of getting out of bed. It has been a month now, and it has gotten so much easier! DD1 and I love spending the time together and are getting stronger. I like exercising first thing in the morning. Then it is just a distant memory for the rest of the day instead of doing it at night and dreading it all day.

I'd love to have you along for the ride. If you are interested, comment to this post. Maybe can can report our weight loss on a weekly basis. (Our own little Weight Watchers group). We won't say WHAT we weigh, just how much we've lost for the week. Let's see how many pounds we can lose together! I've already lost 4!!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Heard Angels Singing

You know, we have been at Life Skillz training for about 20 months now. It has been A LOT of work, with much whining, and pushing on the DH's and my part. Most of the time we wonder if they are ever going to be able to do these things without us constantly pushing. (It is more work to teach your kids to work than just doing the work yourself.)

Then it happened. The last time they cleaned their bathroom, they did it by themselves. No whining, no asking for help, and it didn't take all morning. I walked by it after they were done and I swear I heard angels singing. I was so impressed at how well it was done that I just kept saying, "Wow!" over and over. (DD1 thought that was pretty funny.)

So this is what it looked like. I didn't touch a thing for the pic! One of my big things is that they put everything away. Most of the time they leave stuff out and I am constantly saying, "If you're going to clean, it should look like you did." They did a pretty awesome job huh? Maybe they are getting it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Thankful Tasting

We have been so blessed by the kindness of others in many ways. For the last six months we have had many meals brought to us during real times of struggle. I am always grateful for this kindness and think ALL the meals are delicious. (Things taste so good when you don't have to cook them. :)

Our kids, however, don't always get excited about new foods. So what do we do? If there is a meal that they don't like, they are required to find ONE thing that they do like. We don't care if it is a pea, or the dessert, or the rice, etc. They have to find at least one thing that they can say they liked. This way they can truthfully tell the person that they, "really liked the peas in the dish," instead of, "I didn't like the meal you brought us."

It has been a wonderful tool for them to be able to look for and express real gratitude for the service others have given to them. And it has been good for them to try new foods - looking for something that they do like. And it has given them a way to be truthful without hurting other's feelings.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Giveaway Winner and Double Post Friday.

So today is a bonus day. You get the winner of the giveaway AND another post so make sure you scroll down for that.

The lucky winner of the Giveaway is...Em! So Em, you know my email (or send me a message on FB), send me your new address and I will get these bag clips off to you! Thanks to Em and Crystal for entering, following, and Tweeting!

Have a great weekend everybody!

*The winner was chosen by writing the entries on paper pieces then DD1 chose from a hat. Totally scientific. :)

Tough Times

TGIF!! Wow, it has been a tough week and I am glad it is over. Did yours drag too or did it fly by? I had a conversation this week with a dear friend that made me think about some of the really tough times we've had with our kids. I'm sure I'll blog every-so-often on this topic, but today I'll reminisce about DD2.

When she was about 1-4 years old, she was a TOUGH one. At 18 months old, she started saying things like, "You no talk to me like that mommy!" At 2 y.o. she would intentionally do things to make DD1 mad in the hopes that she would get chased. She LOVED the feeling of getting chased and didn't mind getting in trouble. One time she climbed up on the table and poured out a full pitcher of orange juice all over the floor. And then, as you can see from the pic above, she would find markers in their bedroom at night and color ALL over herself. Time outs were no big deal to her, so I started putting myself in time out so I wouldn't hurt her. :)

I would cry and cry, in frustration. All of my parenting, childhood development, and education classes did not prepare me for this and I just knew that someday, DD2 would end up in prison.

So what did we do? We were CONSISTENT with our consequences and praises. We asked other parents for advice. We prayed A LOT. We found her Achilles heel - she can't lie. And that helped us be consistent because she would fess up when she did something bad. Then we just hung on.

Finally, she grew up and out of that phase and is now so enjoyable. So if you have a kiddo like that, hang in there. It is HARD. But with God's help, a lot of work, and patience, you will get through. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vacumming....My Lawn

Every winter, we get A LOT of gravel plowed onto our lawn by the snow plows. And every year our lawn looks deader and deader. We have put our lawn on project mode and are following a plan that includes vacuuming out the gravel. Yes, I vacuumed my front lawn.

I tried this a few years ago with our indoor vac, but it didn't work so well. Then I borrowed my neighbor's Shop Vac, but the hose was too floppy and short of vacuuming on my hands and knees this did not work.

So this year I had a brilliant plan...DD3 would use the Shop Vac to vacuum the lawn. She was the perfect height after all. Well, you can guess how long that lasted for so this is how my "brilliant plan" played out... We sprinkled dried oatmeal all over the lawn. The oatmeal is light enough both in color and weight to stay on top of the lawn and make it possible for us to see where we had been and where we were going. DD3 thought this part was so fun!
I thought, "Of course DD3 will have such a good time vacuuming up the oatmeal." How many kids do I have again?! I should have known this would last for about 3 seconds - which it did.
So I'm left with a lawn COVERED in oatmeal, two babies that will need attention, and a Shop Vac with a floppy hose. I ran into the garage, looked around saying, "What can I use, what can I use?" and ended up with this...
A PVC pipe and painters tape. I lashed the hose to the pipe to make it stiff and the pipe was long enough that I could hold onto that and still stand up. Pretty cool huh? It still took a couple of hours, but my lawn was seriously thanking me afterward. And my neighbors got some good laughs too.
This was all the gravel I vacuumed up. So my less than brilliant plan actually ended up pretty well. All I have to say is our grass better look AWESOME this year. ;)

Monday, March 28, 2011

My First Give Away!

Happy Monday everyone! Are you having a hard time jump starting your week? Well, hopefully this will help - A Giveaway!

Up for grabs is a set of 6 grocery bag holders. Now you too can shop with your bags on the OUTSIDE of your cart. We also found out that they are pretty good for fort building too. (As shown in the pics.)

There are two ways you can enter and you can use each one of them.

1. Become a Follower (If you are already a follower you can have an entry for that - but just this time ;)

2. Tweet me.

(I have buttons that make it easier to tweet. Look at the box under my profile pic.)

Make sure you leave a seperate comment for each thing you do. We will draw the winner on Friday so stay tuned....

**I am trying to set up a facebook account, but we all know how technically challenged I am. It will be ready for the next giveaway.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Great Grind-off

So, if you don't know it by now, I'm a Mormon. There are many things we are known for, and one of them is food storage. We are encouraged to buy whole wheat berries (among other things) and store them in our homes, and we own grinders so that we can turn that wheat into flour.

The ladies in my congregation were putting together an order for the K-tec grinder. I happen to own that grinder AND HATE IT! I said as much and before you know it the Great Grind-off was born. It was a very fun, informative night. To see pics of the actual grinders click on the title of this post (it is a link). I was busy running the event so I was only able to snap a few.

The results (winner stated first):

Coarse Grind: Hand grinder, church grinder, Nutrimill, Wondermill, K-tec
Fine Grind: Wondermill, Nutrimill, K-tec, church grinder, hand grinder
Noise (quietest): Hand grinder, Church grinder, Nutrimill and Wondermill tied, K-tec
Speed: Wondermill (this thing is FAST), Nutrimill, church grinder, K-tec, Hand grinder
Clean up: Nutrimill, Wondermill, Handgrinder, Church grinder, K-tec

It was a pretty close race between the Nutrimill and the Wondermill. However, I think I am going to buy the Nutrimill. The Wondermill is lightning fast, however, you CANNOT start with wheat berries in the grinder. Also, you can't stop it in mid grind. It also needs to be tended to during the grinding because you have to keep feeding it and emptying the flour holder. The Nutrimill will swallow a #10 can and you can walk away. Also you can turn it off mid grind and not have to worry about it jamming. Both of these run about $260.

So let's talk about my awful K-tec. There is really NO difference between the flour when on coarse or fine settings. It is the loudest and the biggest pain to operate. It was also the slowest by quite a bit. I DOUBLE HATE this grinder and can't wait to get rid of it. It was the cheapest of the electric grinders, $180, but in this case you get what you pay for. Save up the extra $80 and get something you'll love.

The hand grinder wasn't that hard to crank - however, it is hard to keep on the table and took two people to run it because of that. Also, it can't grind as finely as the other. But it won on the coarseness. It esencially broke the wheat kernels in half. It was also pretty messy because it was hard to load the wheat in the top. But it would be nice to have if you don't have power. ;) Cost $50.

The church grinder is a dinasour. It is old, HEAVY, and hard to clean. It is the same as the Wondermill in the fact that you can't put wheat into it unless it is on first, and you can't stop mid grind. There were a few times that it had technical difficulties and had to be tipped over and shook out. No small task given how heavy it is. You can buy these for about $300 on ebay, but it isn't worth it.

Here are some fun pics of the night.

Racing Flags

Father/Son duo. They were sports to run this one for us.

Silliness. Not a good idea to wear dark pants to a flour grind-off. :)

Trying to un-jam the church grinder.

The challengers with their toilet paper sashes. Thanks ladies (and gents) for the great night!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Piano Practicing

Okay peeps. I know that many of you are waiting for the results of the Great Grind-off. But this week has been CRAZY. (Also sorry about no picture today.) I promise I'll have it on Friday.

Today I'm going to talk about piano practicing. Our kids do it on.their.own. You may think I'm not telling the truth. I am. I only take them and write the check. How? It was actually pretty simple.

I thought that when a child did piano the timer needed to be set for a certain time. So when DD1 started, that is what I did. It was only 15 min., but she would wine that she was already done, and why should she have to keep going? She was starting to get really upset and I could see the power struggle starting. So I backed off.

I said, "Fine, if you are ready for your lessons, you won't need a timer. BUT if you're not, I will micromanage you to make sure you are." It was a deal. And she made sure she was ready. (She knows how "Moody" I get when I micromanage. ;)

When DD2 started, we had the same deal. I knew that there would be a point where I would have to micromanage for a week so that she could feel the unpleasantness of it. It happened, she hated it, and now makes sure she is ready every week.

They are doing great and get superiors (the highest ranking) at all their festivals. Plus, they LOVE playing the piano. I find them playing it even when they are not officially practicing. I think it is because I didn't use it in a power struggle. It is their thing and they take great pride in what they can do now. (See how powerful it is when kids feel they are in control of their lives?)

*Side note, DD1 even gets up early to practice- on her own. Amazing huh? I didn't teach that, she decided it was better to get it done early so that she could get through the rest of her routine badge. Sometimes my kids amaze me!

Monday, March 21, 2011

We're runners!

I have wanted to be a runner for a LONG time. But I have had all the same old excuses: I am too tired, too busy, too poor for good shoes, it's too hot/cold, who will watch the kids, etc., etc. Well, I finally decided that there will ALWAYS be an excuse, but that I need to make it a priority. So how am I doing it? Here's how:

My first hurdle was getting out of bed - love my bed. So I set my alarm clock and set it across the room - with my running clothes right by it. Once I am actually out of bed, the rest doesn't seem so difficult.

Next, I decided that DD1 was going to join me. She needs to find a sport and I wanted to spend one on one time with her. So this seemed perfect. I am so slow that I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for us to get stronger together.

I decided I couldn't expect to start by running five miles. I needed to ease into it. So I walk up our street and run back down three times. That's it. When we started a month ago, DD1 could walk as fast as I was jogging, but I was moving and that was the point! Now, she actually has to run with me. We are making progress!

One key thing I have noticed among avid runners is that they enter races to motivate them to keep working out. DD1 is so NOT competitive that she will shut down when the word race is even mentioned. So for now, we are just focusing on getting out and moving.

I'm excited that this time working out is actually working! Remember - baby steps are still steps in the right direction! Happy trails!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Proudly Introducing....Maggie

I'd like to introduce you all to my dear friend, Maggie. I have known Maggie now for almost ten years and she is very good at many things. She, however, is exceptional at working out, eating healthy, and being green. Even DH says that she is, "Inspirational". So without further adieu, here she is...

Thanks Jennie for the chance to write! Jennie has taught me so much! She has great, practical ideas that have made my life much better. I am a Coupon Shopper. I don't do as well as Jennie, but I love it! I Speed Clean - not enough, but the method is there for me, saving me time while ensuring my house really gets clean. I could go on about Jennie, but she runs a tight ship and I need to get to my point. :)

Since January, I have really focused on losing weight. For 15 years, I have wanted to lose weight. A HUGE energy drain, on my mind - and my middle - every day. Now, I am committed! Every Wed, I email a friend my weight. This accountability is key for me. It is taking a long time, but I am on the right path, and I will not quit! It is often hard to make good choices. With practice, it is getting easier. When (not if - but only once) I have 3 pieces of cake for dessert, I enjoy it. Then I resolve to do better the next day. I am happier with my weight now, but I am not at my goal. I will go all the way this time! I have lots of practice committing to losing weight and I am ready to follow through!

I also try very hard to be green. With these 2 priorities in mind, I have an easy snack recipe to share. SAVE THE CRUMBS FROM YOUR CEREAL BOXES! We don't like eating them, so I save them in a container, all different cereal bits mixed together. These are the basis for the bars. These bars are healthy, the kids like them, there are no granola bar wrappers to throw out, and you don't throw away your cereal dregs!

Good For You Bars:
2 cups cereal crumbs and whole cereal - multiple types are fun for the kids to identify!
2 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup Flax seeds, chia seeds or wheat germ
1/4 cup sesame, pumpkin or other seeds
Mix together

Heat on stove:
1 cup of honey
Just before it boils, remove it from the heat

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir the honey mixture into the cereal mixture. If it's not sticking together well, you can add more honey or maple syrup. After you have stirred it together, add" 1/2 cup chocolate chips, craisins or raisins. If you add the chocolate chips at the beginning, they will melt.
Spread in a 9x11 pan coated or lined with wax paper. Cool in the refrigerator. If you are in a rush, put them in the freezer. Cut into bars. Put them in a Tupperware in the fridge. Otherwise I am tempted to take a piece out of the pan every time I open the fridge!!

Modify however you like and enjoy!

*This is Jennie again - I have had these bars and they are really yummy and my kids love them too! Thanks Mags! And a disclaimer - the twins in the photo are mine. However, Mags you can borrow them ANYTIME you want. ;)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Glad you could join us...

DH (Dear Hacker),

I'm happy to see that you finally found my blog. (FYI, I've changed my password :). Yes you are right - most of the time we are flying by the seats of our pants. We have had many good ideas go bad, and we make many mistakes along the way. But you have to admit that there are times that we totally ROCK. (If I do say so myself.)

To be quite honest, I am glad that you pulled away from the DF, finished the ice cream, and typed away. I am getting a little tired of reading my own ideas and am itching for some advice from some really amazing parents. There are many people I know that are very good at things I am not. So I am planning on inviting guest bloggers. (The next post will be from Maggie and we both know how awesome she is.) And if you want, you can be one too.

I, however, cannot let behavior like this just slide. This was "inappropriate" and for that, you get The Eye. I think you see what I am saying.

All my love,


(Her Majesty, The Queen)

p.s. Nice try about Photoshop. We all know how technically challenged I am. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

DH infiltrates blog

Psst! This is the DH, or so I appear to be named in blog speak, sneaking into the blog. I rarely read the blog, because after all, I'm living it. Plus, if DW is writing a post, guess who is doing the dishes, or cleaning the DGP's cage, or possibly eating ice cream so as to make more room in the DF? You got it, self-sacrificing me.

But I digress... Having read several posts, I feel it is my duty to let the readers of this blog know that you are all being hoodwinked. Reading the blog, you might think that we have this whole parenting thing figured out--I was almost duped myself! Don't let those photoshopped pictures (did you really think I would pose in a flowered cleaning apron?) and carefully edited blog posts fool you, in the interest of full disclosure you must know that we are flying by the seats of our pants.

There. Having gotten that confession out in the open, you are now free to believe anything you want to on the blog. After all, I'll be the first to admit that DW is a pretty remarkable mother. Perhaps I should log on more often to get some pointers.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Speed Cleaning with Jeff Campbell, kitchen clip

So here it is. The Speed Cleaning clip I have been promising. Jeff Campbell is cleaning the kitchen, but the principles are basically the same for every room. This clip is from a full video that you buy from his website I own this video and found it very helpful since I am a visual learner.

They cut this clip a little short. Here are the things he missed.

Caked on things, like dried pancake batter, on the counter. Spray with red juice and use plastic scraper.

Stove top. Take off burner grates on the left side, placing them on top of the right side grates. Clean left part of stove. Then replace and switch, placing the right ones on top of the left ones.

Oven. If you have burned thing inside the oven, spray with red juice and use plastic scraper to scrape off. Also, you can clean the glass on the oven door with red juice, and the razor blade.

Floor. Do this last. Sweep/vacume the debris. Fill the sink with about two inches of hot water and cleaning solution. I use murphy's oil floor, but vinegar works fine too. Submurge the mop cloth into the sink. Ring out, place on mop and start to mop the floor at the farthest point away from the door. (You will be mopping yourself out of the room.)

If you come across something caked on like dried jam, pull out your plastic scraper and scrape it off. Once one side of the mop head is dirty, take it off and flip it to the other side. Once that side is dirty, get a new one, get wet in sink, ring out, and keep going.

Sink. The last time you get a new mop head, drain the sink and clean. Spray with cleaner, scrub with scrub brush. Polish crome with windex and rag. Then continue mopping yourself out of the room.

I am trying to make my own videos, but my equiptment is a little lacking (and so is my time right now :). I hope this helps at least get you started. Happy Cleaning!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DD3 - Retail Training

The same day we did the Five Below Challenge, DD3 also started her retail training. I feel it is very important that the kids learn confidence and independence. This is the very first retail experience that I give the kiddos. We start simple. Here's how...

There is a Philly Pretzel Factory that is close by. I pull up parallel to the curb (that way they don't step foot in a parking lot), give the DD $3, tell her to buy as many pretzels as she can, open the door, and out she goes - alone. She goes into the store, hands them the money, and tells them she wants pretzels. Then out she comes - BEAMING - because she has done something so big - by herself!

Now, there is a training period. So that is where DD2 came into play. DD2 demonstrated to DD3 how to do it the first time. (Good teaching opportunity for DD2.) Now the next time we do it, DD3 will go solo. The people at the pretzel shop know us and the routine now. So I know that everytime will be a success.

I love this because they can start young DD3 is 4. We all get a snack, which is important for our moods, and it is really fun to see them stand on their tip toes to open the shop door. I love that they can be so independent so young!

*This skill was born out of desperation. With so many kiddos, it is hard to schlep everyone into any store, but especially for little errands like this. It is easier to send one kid in to get the goods. Happy Shopping!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Whining a Super Power? Who Knew!

DD2 has a real talent for whining. (I say that with all my love. :) She is so good at it that we have decided that it is her super power. Now when she starts to whine we say, "Oh, looks like your super power is starting up." One day she had a particularly bad session and was sent to bed. When DH got home *he helped her decide how she could be more powerful than her whine. She decided that when she felt a whine coming on she would take a mental time out and count to ten, taking deep breaths. (This is what she looks like when she does that.) She still whines, but she is getting much better about being able to stop herself. She is becoming more powerful than her super whine!

*We are very determined to teach the kiddos that they have control over themselves. They like to say, "But I can't help it." We don't accept that answer. We do have control over how we act, take care of our bodies, treat others, etc. It is hard to do the work to change, but they need to know that they do have control of themselves.

We also help guide them to figure out how to control behaviors. That way they can decide if something will work for them. They will also be more likely to do it because it is what THEY decided - not what was imposed on them.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Kid Made Dinner!

DD1 is getting old enough to do more advanced life skillz cooking. So I decided to teach her how to make a pot pie. I made one along side of her so that I could demonstrate with mine and then she could practice on hers. Then we baked hers for dinner and froze mine. Here is our training session....
It was pretty tough to stir all the ingredients because the mixed veggies were frozen (and it was a double batch). So she posed with a "this is SO hard" face. I think it looks like she thinks the filling is disgusting. Either way, we had a really great laugh and were silly the rest of the time. SO FUN!!

Fun is very important during these trainings. It builds great memories and helps them to love that skill.

Yes, we used ready-made pie crust. DH is a pie crust purist and thinks it's a waste of money. I say, let them make $2 off of me. SO WORTH IT. Plus I needed it to be easy for the training. Here she is stretching the crust to fit the pie plate well and then pushing it into the edges.

Filling in...

Putting on top crust. Lookin' good so far!

The importance of venting the top. This is where our family loves to write messages on top. She wrote, "Manga! My first time." (DH usually writes love notes to me and I to him. The kiddos LOVE that.)

She didn't realize that she needed to vent the entire top of the pie, so we added a few other holes. But that is what these training sessions are for. The next time, she will know that her lettering needs to take up the whole top.
For the cooking she learned how/when to put the crust ring on and how to tell when it is done. I did all the oven work because she didn't feel comfortable yet. I demonstrated/taught this time. next time she will do it. I think it is BEAUTIFUL, it was delicious, and I am so proud of her. Great job DD1!!