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!