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 http://www.thecleanteam.com/. 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!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meet My New Ride

Last week, this rolled into our neighborhood. I jokingly thought, "Wow! That is exactly what I need to cart around my big family and all our stuff now." My true feeling is, "WHY in the world does someone need this kind of rig?" I was very curious....
A closer look at the truck. Look how little that guy looks (and he wasn't a little man. :)

This is what they were here to pick up - a little tiny scooter. But now remember how HUGE that trailer is? It should be no problem to find a place, right? Well look at the next photo...

They had to EMPTY stuff out to fit it in!!! This whole trailer was stuffed!
I was going to give my opinion on this, but I would LOVE to hear what you all think about it or what you (our your DHs) would do with it.