Wednesday, December 28, 2011

long time, no blog

Yeah, about that. 
Nothing major major going on, but plenty of life getting in the way the past couple months.  I was hit with colds/bronchitus/cold/another bout of bronchitus, which knocked me out for awhile. 
Thankfully, I started feeling better right before Christmas.
Dude, moms just cannot get sick!

Now I am on an upswing and trying to get the household back on track.  Perhaps I will find time to write a bit more now too...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pinning all the things...

If you are wondering where I went, I have been spending all my spare time on Pinterest (and dreaming about redecorating my entire house) ---->

Follow Me on Pinterest

In my non-spare time I have been doing the homeschool teacher thing, a little more (part time) work-at-home action, trying to manage a very active 2 year old and a very fiery 5 year old and generally trying to juggle all of life's many demands.  The Maximize Your Mornings Challenge has been going well overall.  Still struggling to get to bed at a decent time and get up early consistantly.  But I do feel I have made some progress and am going to stick with it.  Besides that extra hour or less that I lie in bed until the kids start screaming calling for me is not adding much to my energy level.  Getting up at at 'em before they do is way better.

So that's it.  Have lots more to blog about but can't seem to make the time right now.  Maybe soon...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Linky Love

How do you deal with challenging behavior? (An attitude check for moms) - yup.  Needed that!

Upcycle a board book into a chalkboard book! - So cool and thrifty.

Clipboard Kids' Art Display - I had been planning a similar project w/ scrapbook covered clipboards, but I didn't think of using it as an art display.

Upcycled Glass Bottles - LOVE these and have some kombucha bottles earmarked for this project.

Under Sink Solution: Hang spray bottles from tension rod - Genius!

Craigslist find goes from Stately to Seaworthy - I love a good furniture makeover and this one is really great.

Identification Charts as Art - We have been taking lots of nature walks this year and I think these would be awesome decoration/learning tool in our playroom.

10 Sewing Projects for Every Room in Your House

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finding my Groove

Well we are almost through our second week of homeschool.  I. am. tired.
This is new and therefore a bit awkward... and exhausting.  Did I mention that?


We had our ups and downs for sure.  Tuesday this week was pretty terrible.  We were coming off of a three day weekend (daddy was home Monday) and also the boys' big party and grandparent time on Sunday.  Plenty of melt-downs all around.  (Including me... sigh)


However, I changed things up a bit and Wednesday was much better.  Thursday was a wash due to some pretty major personal things going on.  We got back on track today and had a really great morning.  I was commenting on it and W said, "Everyday should be like this."  Love that kid.
I am finding that once I get W's attention in the morning I need to keep it for a bit.  This is turning out to be a good thing.  Considering that my boys are early risers, we can get all of our schoolwork out of the way pretty early.  This morning after lessons, we had a lovely nature walk at the local park. 
 

It is frustrating when something doesn't go as planned, but I remember that this is normal when you are a teacher!  Good intentions and careful plans don't always get you where you want to go.  Flexibility and knowing your student(s) are essential. 

I know I need to continue to work on my attitude and fake some confidence for awhile. 
Slowly, we are finding our groove.


And seriously, how adorable are my students?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Challenge: Maximize Your Mornings


"For those of us who are mothers, the fundamental idea is to stop waking up TO our children and start waking up FOR them"

I'm signing up for this 3-month challenge.  I'm participating via Facebook and my check-in time is 6:00am.  I've been getting up around 6:30-7:00 when the littlest one wakes me up so hopefully this is not completely unattainable.

This SO-NOT-A-MORNING-PERSON mama needs all the help she can get!  I can sometimes manage to get up before the kids and get my day off to a good start.  It always sets us up for a better, more peaceful day.  I just can't seem to do that consistantly or for more than a short season.  Self-discipline is not one of my strengths but hopefully this will make my morning routine more of a life-long habit.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

School at Home

In less than a month I am officially homeschooling my oldest boy! 

This is a strange realization.  I was homeschooled for (most of) my elementary and all of my Jr. High years.  To be honest I didn't see myself jumping into this lifestyle again.  Maybe I was just in denial.  ha!

I have been reading up on curriculum and philosophies and trying to get some goals in mind.  I figured this would be a good place to put it all down.

Back Story:
I know enough to know that I should never say "never."
I know that different things work for different families and there are seasons for everything. I truely believe that the one right way to educate your children is what works best for your family, and that might change from year to year.

Last year I joined the local homeschool email loop and a co-op in a neighboring town for some preschool experience.
I wanted to see what was out there.

I have some misgivings about the public school system from my years as a teacher.  (Not to say I didn't have some awesome coworkers who were doing great things, 'cause there were some quality people there.)
With a very active, just-turned-5yo boy I just didn't see the traditional school model working for my son right now.

Philosophy: 
There are so many ways to do school at home!  It can be overwhelming at first.  There are basic summaries of different philosophies here and here.

Personally, I am drawn to the Charlotte Mason method.  From what I've seen so far, her views on children and education match up with my own.  Her focus on short lessons and plenty of time outdoors feel like a good match for my child's temperament.  I also love the learning-by-doing approach of Montessori and will likely be pulling activities from that method.  (Here's a good site.)  I can see how I might incorporate some unschooling ideas and in-depth unit studies if I'm still doing this when they are older.  (Five in a Row, see below, is considered a Unit Studies method.) 

I still need to read up some more and will likely have a more solid philosophy after a bit of on-the-job training.  (Did I mention that I studied educational philosophies in college too? ha!)

Curriculum:
We used Before Five in a Row last year for a casual pre-school curriculum.  (It's not really a curriculum though, more like a book of literature based ideas.)  I love the approach and am using Five in a Row this year as the basis of our school work.  You read the same classic children's book each day for a week. (Five days in a row, get it?)  Then you choose from the activities suggested in the book to tie in content areas.  Of course their site explains it more in depth.

We have been slowly working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and will continue.

I think Handwriting Without Tears will give us a fun place to start with writing.

I'm hearing wonderful things about Math-U-See so I will probably be introducing that next quarter. 

I will be keeping the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards in mind as I check our progress.

Socialization:
Of course whenever you mention homeschooling, the old "socialization" question pops up. 

I'm not saying that there aren't homeschoolers who stay home all day and only have their siblings for companions, but I would say that is the exception and not the rule.  Most homeschoolers I know are involved in many community activities throughout the week, from dance class to playing sports to volunteer work to youth groups to co-ops and play groups with other homeschoolers.
(Not to mention that peer interaction isn't the only valuable opportunity for learning social skills.)
   
In our area there are sooo many options!
We are planning on attending the weekly playgroup for kids pre-k to early elementary, monthly nature classes at the nature reserve, weekly Awana's meetings at a local church, weekly story hour at the library, plus the usual playdates and trips to the children's museum.  I am sure some field-trips will pop up too.  As you can see, our social calendar is the least of my concerns.

I have to say, I'm now excited to get the school year going! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy World Breastfeeding Month

August is World Breastfeeding Month!  Also the month when my first born joined our family and I started breastfeeding.   I couldn't let it go by without a post.

I am almost 2 for 2 here... meaning 2 years nursing each of my 2 boys. 
It is a special relationship.  Like any relationship, there are sweet, easy times and times when it's a struggle.  I always viewed breastfeeding as "normal" and just assumed it was the way I would feed my babies. 

The first two weeks were hard... He cried. I cried. 
But we persevered.  Just like a new mom, I didn't understand the complex emotions and hormones I'd be dealing with in those early weeks.  Not to mention the physical changes.

When my first babe turned out to be fussy/colicky/high needs/whatever label that means they are basically unhappy all the time and let you know about it, I felt like nursing him was the one thing, and sometimes the only thing, I could do "right."

By six weeks we both knew what we were doing in this deparment, though he was still a super cranky dude.  I hoped to make it to 12 months, but really couldn't envision nursing beyond that.  The closer we got to one, I didn't see the reason to stop.  At about 10 months in, I started attending La Leche League to get some more support.  Turns out there are lots of benefits for extended nursing (beyond a year) too.

Fast forward a few years and I am currently nursing my 23-month-old.  I've learned a lot on this journey and don't regret a single minute.  I encourage any new or expecting moms to educate themselves, find good support and give it a shot. 

Here are some of my favorite links:

* 101 Reasons to Breastfeed

* What are the Booby Traps? "Women are being pressured to breastfeed but set up to fail!"

* KellyMom.com is my most favorite site for late night trouble shooting and reference.  The Normal Course of Breastfeeding info is a must read for any mom preparing to breastfeed or a new mom just getting started.

* La Leche League - Use the dropdown box at the top to find LOCAL support.  Nothing beats in-person support from a group of moms who have "been there done that" and who want to see you succeed.  It's amazing to think this international organization started with just a handful of moms who got together back in the 50's to support eachother and share information.  Mother-to-Mother support really does work. :)
photo from about.com

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Howdy!

We just got back from a trip to visit family in MI.  I have been busy busy over here, thus the lack of posting. 

The big news for this fall is that we have decided to homeschool our oldest.  Not sure I want to turn this into a homeschool blog, but I will likely be posting about it a bit soon.  I know I have to step up the time-management to fit all that needs to be done in a day.  Should be interesting...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blueberry Ice Cream

We have gone blueberry picking 3x's this season.  I'd love to get over there one more time before the season ends.  Loving the cheap, organic berries!  We froze a bunch for smoothies and snackin' and so on.  I wish we could put up enough to last the winter, but I'm only one Mama.  The littles are more into the eating than the storing up.   As a change from the muffins and crisps, I made blueberry ice cream this year.

The orginal recipes was from food.com, but I tweaked it a bit.

Blue Berry Ice Cream
4 c. blueberries
1 1/2 c. sugar
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
4 c. half n half

Cook the berries, sugar, lemon juice and water over medium heat.  Mash them down with a potato masher and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and add half n half and vanilla.  Cool for the fridge overnight or in an ice bath if you need it sooner.  You want the mix very cold before putting it in your ice cream maker.  Freeze for 15-20min in your maker.  Allow to "ripen" in the freezer for a couple hours more. 
Kid Approved!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quantity vs Quality

I stumbled upon this article by a dumpster diving mom.  (Yes, really.)  I think the "Freegan" movement is fascinating, but that is not entirely what this article is about.  What struck me most was the author's commentary here:
There is a strange sort of shame in wanting the best when you have so little allotted for your family’s needs. I’ve talked to so many moms who’ve suffered reproving looks or even disparaging comments when they’re buying organic, high-quality food using a food stamp card.  The judgment being made is this: how dare you opt for quality over quantity?  How dare you want better food even if it means less food for your family? 
Thankfully my situation is not as bad as the author's, but I have been struggling with this for awhile. 

I completely understand the feelings of shame in wanting the best.   Is eating responsibly really an "elitist luxury"?  It feels pretentious to buy higher quality foods when things are so tight.  On the surface, it is cheaper to buy lower quality items. 

(Not to say we never eat the "regular" stuff, we do.  It's just that I try to avoid processed foods and stick to whole, mostly organic foods at home.)

On the other hand, there is guilt when I choose quantity over quality. 
How can I buy coffee that is not "fair trade" when I know that the industry is notorious for child labor? 
How can I feed my children chemically laden foods when study after study links those chemicals to cancer, hormone disruption and many other terrible side effects? 

I have stopped couponing much partially for this reason.  Yes, I can find some q deals on organic foods, but they are few and far between.  So I do it when I can, but mostly my time is better spent cooking from scratch or growing/picking/processing my own produce.

I haven't figured it all out yet, but there are some tricks to eating well frugally.  There are compromises to be made.  I have had to be creative and invest a lot more time in planning and food prep.  I have had to decide what is really important and let the other stuff go.  I have also let go of the illusion of perfect consistency.  For me, educating myself and doing the best I can is what feels right. 

And then I see what the average American family spends on groceries.  That makes me feel super "thrifty" in comparison.  ;)

Quality over Quantity...  I'm working on it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sourdough

I've been working on making more scratch foods for health and thrift.   Sourdough has been going well enough that I will share the recipe.  I got this from The Complete Tightwad Gazette


Sourdough Starter:
2 c. white flour
2 c. water, filtered (apparently chlorinated tap water kills the good bugs) or you can "air it out" in a open jug for a couple days
1 Tbs yeast

Sit at room temp for 48+ hrs (loosely covered w/ plastic) then cover and move to the fridge. Each time you remove some starter you must "feed." Just add back 1.5 c. flour and 1.5 c. water, stir, cover loosely and return to the fridge.

Sourdough Bread Recipe (two loaves):
5 1/2 c. flour (you can sub whole wheat for 1 or 2 cups... I've been having good results using 2 c. wh wh)
2 c. starter
1 Tbs Salt
1 c. water

Dissolve the salt in the water in a mixing bowl. Add starter, and then the flour. Stir, then knead until a nice elastic dough forms. Cover w/ a damp towel and let rise overnight (~8 hours) at room temp. The next morning punch down and divide in half. Shape each half into a round loaf, make an X shaped slash on each top and place the two loaves on a greased baking sheet. (You could put it in two loaf pans if you prefer that shape.)  Cover w/ damp towel and let rise about 4 hours. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Bake for 35 min.

I have also been using this to make pizza crust.  I start it in the morning.  After the first rise, I roll it out into two large crusts and let it rise for only an hour or so, depending on how soon I need it.  I brush with a little olive oil, bake it at 400 for about 10 minutes, pull it out, put on the sauce and toppings, back in the oven until it's golden brown and cheese is melty.  mmmm

Linky Love

What Children Can't Do... Yet. - Love this list.  A great reminder for those of us with preschoolers in our life.  I have often thought child development classes should go hand in hand with childbirth classes for new parents.  Heck, I had all those classes back in the day and I still need the reminder from time to time.

Dry to Preserve: A Quick Guide to Dehydration - Interesting.

How-To: Woven Paper Gift Wrap - cute and thrifty!

Grilled Corn on the Cob - This is how we do it too. Yum!

Outdoor Color Match - Can't wait to make this for our next nature walk.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Parenting Quotes

One my fav things about Facebook is that I can steal all these great quotes.  Now sometimes I don't know who the authors are and I have to go Google (or Swagbucks) them. ;)  Here are some parenting ones I've enjoyed lately.

"Babies needs haven't changed much over the past thousands of years, but cultural practices of meeting those needs change every generation." ~ Judy Arnall


“Parenting is 10% what our child does -- and 90% how we react to it.” - Dr. Laura Markham


“Parenting is difficult. What separates great parents from poor ones is their ability to fully accept this truth, even embrace it. That way they can stop themselves whenever they’re tempted to get whiny. Every behavior challenge with our kids is a direct invitation for our own growth; they are, in their own immature way, asking us to provide them with leadership.” ~ Hal Runkel


“It is the nature of the child to be dependent, and it is the nature of dependence to be outgrown. Begrudging dependency because it is not independence is like begrudging winter because it is not yet spring. Dependency blossoms into independence in its own time.” ~ Peggy O'Mara


"I really am your gift. I am not just a little person who needs to be "raised" and taught, and taken to activities....I came to the people in my life to bring a message: slow down. Feel. Be. Over and over again. When you do, you will notice immediately, that I am not an obstacle to your work, or… inconvenient to your daily life. Instead, you will come to appreciate my honesty, humor, presence and love."-Bruce Scott

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Frugal Life

No doubt about it, times are hard. It is harder for some than it is for others.
It seems like most young families I know are really feeling the pinch.
We are no exception.  While we have tried to live frugally and budget our resources carefully, the facts are that our income has decreased while our living expenses have gone up dramatically.  Some of this is the result of our choices, namely to start a family.  Most of it has been a direct result of our national economy.

Needless to say, I have been thinking about finances a lot lately. Susie Orman had a presentation on PBS the other week that I really got sucked into. I want to read her new book now.



I recently pulled out The Complete Tightwad Gazette from my shelf again. I have had it forever. My mom actually had a copy of the original book when I was growing up. While some of the ideas are dated and a little quirky, the message is good.  I am seeing it with new perspective now.  Having a mindset of frugality is the way to go. Instead of focusing on all you don't have, you are focusing on what to do with the resources you do have.  I can't possibly touch on all that is in there, so I will just recommend that you skim through a copy.



I have a few frugal living blogs and sites that often provide inspiration too.
Simple Mom
Living Rich With Coupons
Keeper of The Home

I don't have much hope that the economy will improve dramatically while I still have little ones at home.  So we will have to do the best we can focus on what is really important.  Anyone have any other resources to share?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day

Oh Mother's Day. 

My existence has been eternally altered.

First by this guy:

Then by this guy:
My heart has grown a million times bigger to hold all the love that resides there.  I never knew my tolerance for dealing with human excrement could be so high.  Or that I could survive, and (almost) function on so little sleep.  I didn't realize how hard it would be to be on-on-on 24/7... sharing my body, my food, my time, my stuff, pretty much everything.  Being a mom has been the hardest, most selfless thing I've had to face.  Not gonna lie, I have had some really terrible days (and nights) thus far. I have been disappointed, doubted myself and wondered what I got myself into.
Then you get to see a glimpse of all your hard work paying off. A child spontaneously says please and thank you.  Or a little one comes up to comfort me when I stub my toe.  Or I catch a drive-by hug or "I love you, Mommy."  Or I witness my boys showing each other some small gesture of kindness.
And I think, "Wow, I am really doing this, raising a decent human being.  They see all the love and grace I try to show.  They are going to contribute something positive to this world." 

I really liked this post on Mother's Day my friend linked up on FB, Mother's Day - Reality vs Idealism.  Especially these lines:
Mother’s Day isn’t about me.  It’s about the calling God has placed on my life when He blessed me with children.  It’s about my love for Him.  It’s about my service for Him.  It’s about my mission.
I completely agree. 
It's about service.  It's about giving when even only God sees.
It is about relationships.  It is about loving people who aren't 100% "lovable" all the time.
It is about humility.  It's realizing that I am far from perfect or easy to live with myself. 
It is about contentment.  After all, I chose this life.  I have to embrace it.  When I do, it gets easier to enjoy.  Then I can start to see the big picture.

And mostly, I think it is about unconditional love...  God is giving me just a little bit of insight into what that really means.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

An Announcement

As of this weekend, I am now officially a leader for La Leche League in NJ
It took me a few years and a couple false starts to reach this goal.  But I did it!

Along with the other group leaders, I will serve our local chapter by leading meetings, fielding phone calls and generally keeping our group going.
I am proud to be serving the community and supporting other mothers in their breastfeeding (and parenting) goals.  What can I say?  It is something close to my heart and has played a big part in my life over the past 4.5+ years.

Our Mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.

Linky

Popping on to share this linky:
The Beatitudes for Parents

Friday, March 25, 2011

Changing Education Paradigms

Food for thought!
I found this VERY interesting, as both a parent and a (former) public school educator.

Monday, March 21, 2011

why hello there

I unintentionally took a little bloggy break there.  Truth is, life has been getting a little crazy over here. 
Dealing with some usual motherhood stresses.  My lil darling is a full-on toddler now.  Otherwise known as  a baby who breaks all your stuff and tries to kill themselves daily.  heh.

Then there is some other big important stuff going on thats too personal to get into.  So we are trying to navigate through it all. 

The internet time, as much as I enjoy it, has had to take a bit of a back burner.  I'm trying hard to focus (what little brain power I have left) on the day-to-day stuff. 

So this is my attempt at an update.  I don't know if I'll be posting again soon or if I'll be "off" for a bit more.  Either way, I am still knitting.  So you can find me on Ravelry. ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Parenting Your Opposite

I just read this great post over on Steady Mom
Parenting Your Polar Opposite

I can so relate!  Not to say my boys are nothing like me, but the oldest has definitely been harder to "parent" thus far.  I have conciously and deliberately looked for the good in our relationship and the positive attributes his personality brings.  (And some days that is hard work!)
When dealing with a child who is so different from yourself, it is easy to label their way of doing things as wrong.  (Because our way is the right way, no?) 
Fortunately I have years of practice as my DH's personality and temperment are very different from my own.  I have learned that different does not equal wrong.
Different can even be good sometimes as you are forced to stretch and grow beyond your comfort zone.

This part resonates with me:
She is going to be who she was created to be; it’s up to me to see that in all the ways she is different from me, I can find a powerful invitation to stop anticipating and just experience life together.
When I first became a parent I had a lot of ideas of how my choices would factor into this new baby's life.  Now I realize that I am only part of the equation.  A very important part of course, but my little guy is not a blank slate that I can write upon. 
He is who God created him to be, with all his quirks and imperfections.  Always wishing he lived up to my expectations of what a "good" baby/toddler/child should be, is damaging to us both.  I can't say I don't wish he was easier to parent.  But "easy" is so far gone from my vocabulary these days! :)

To love him unconditionally means to accepting him right where he is.  To show him respect by not belittling him when he is struggling or complaining about him all the time.  To model grace and compassion as I teach and guide him.  That whole "doing onto others as you would have them do unto you" has never been so challenging or so important.


 "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."  Matthew 7:12 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

PICTURES!!!

My camera finally made it home.  Yay!

I took tons of pics on our trip... 330 to be exact.  If you are my FB friend you've seen some.  Anyway, while on was on vaca I was working on a baby gift.  Here are some shots of the Baby Surprise Jacket in progress:

Getting Started: Lake June Park

Making Progress: In The Car

Slow and Steady: Highlands Hammock State Park
Nice Stripes: Punta Gorda
I See Sleeves: Lake Placid
 
Almost done! (I finished the seams and stitched on the buttons once we got home.)


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Linky Linky Loo

Spring Petal Tee - Look!  An adult sized embellishing project I'd actually want to wear!  (Over at I am Momma Hear me Roar, of course. She rocks.)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie - Why hello there.  (101 Cookbooks always has some really amazing looking, healthy recipes.)

How to Make Your Own Planner - This girl has some really crafty skillz.  While I know this is a little too involved for me, it has given me some great ideas to pimp out my plain planner that I got free from a Realtor. :)

Toddler Friendly Sewing Basket - What an awesome way to introduce sewing skills to little ones!  Not to mention all the potential for sensory exploration, fine motor skills practice, hand-eye-coordination, color matching and so on.  You know I will be raiding the craft supplies to put one of these together.

Very Simple Catapult - oh yes.  We will be making this.

Boy Projects!!!! If you have a boy to sew for, get thyself to Made for a month long celebration of all things boy.  I love the funky, retro and hipster styles.  Move over tutus and ribbons, boy clothes are way cool to DIY too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quote of the Day

“The bad news is, life is not perfect. The good news is, you can have a perfectly wonderful life, even with imperfections. The secret is in your attitude. There's wisdom in accepting things we cannot change. And there's growth in finding ways to appreciate what's good about where we find ourselves.” ~ Dr. Laura Markham


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's that time of year...

seed catalogs are stacking up

longing for lush organic gardens in my own backyard

facing the frustrations of failed gardens past

so reluctantly, I make a plan

let the cursing of the chipmunks begin!!!!

(Really. I hate those motheflipping things.)

< insert photo of killer tomatoes and murdered seedlings here >

Thursday, February 24, 2011

my boys

It goes without saying, I love my boys more than life itself. 

But sometimes I just can't. keep. up.

So much has gone down this morning.  Nothing overly naughty.  They just have so much energy.  They are constantly experimenting and pushing the boundaries of everything... including laws of gravity.  Their curiosity is relentless.

The final straw was the baby grabbing a half-full mug off coffee and dumping it into the full washing machine. Well, at least the clothes were already dirty. 
Can't say as much about the wall, floor and rug that also got doused.  (Seriously, how does 2oz of liquid make it to so many locations?)  *sigh*

This event prompted me to sit down and write this and center myself a bit. 

Sometimes I think, it's just 'cause they are boys.  And there is no denying that amongst the preschool set, boys and girls generally have a very different "energy" going on.  (I have four brothers.  I know of what I speak.) 

But really it's just that they are intelligent preschoolers who need to DO.  And it's winter.  And I am ready for winter to be over.  Oh and I could really do with a nap... and a massage... and while we are dreaming, let's throw in a maid and the Clean House team. 

I suppose a fresh cup of coffee and a handful of chocolate chips will have to do for now...

COME ON SPRING!!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

one more link...

Stumbling upon a DIY tutorial list like this one:

http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/diy/

totally makes me giddy. 

For the record, if I ever had a little girl to dress I would totally put her in cheeky stuff like this cateye glasses onesie.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Linky Love

I have been storing up favorite links in my feed reader for awhile so it's time to share.


How to be a More Patient Mom in Just 24 Hours -
I am going to work on this this week.  I am fwding the link the Papa K.  Read it.  (And then actually DO it.)

Homemade Pancake Syrup Recipe - Yes!  I have been looking for something like this as real maple syrup is so expensive, but I'm not down with corn-based alternatives.  I think I may be using this to "cut" the good stuff for my guys.

How to make Flubber, Glurch and other Homemade Art Supplies at Home - Master list of tutorials at OhDeeDoh.  Right up my alley!

DIY Dress Up Storage - Even with a boy house, we have some dress up stuff.  I think I just might tackle this! (And drag my handy bro along to Home Depot to help. heh.)

Gorgeous Rose Cake - Pretty icing technique!  Sweet and feminine.

White Pizza - I made this white pizza topping this past week.  It was so good, so simple and the kids loved it.  Trifecta!  Oh and not unhealthy either. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Glimpse

I belong to this on-line support group of sorts.  It's for mamas who have have suffered a pregnancy loss at some point. 
It sucks to belong to such a "club," but I found a lot of support and help there when I needed it the most. 

Long story short, there was some collaboration and the result is a charity sale of some really gorgeous yarn.  I wanted to help get the word out. 


Here's the link explaining the inspiration behind this:
http://www.yarnista.com/blog/2011/2/16/i-dont-know-why.html

And if you feel like supporting this cause with a yarn purchase, here's the link for that:
http://www.threeirishgirls.com/product_p/y-glimpse.htm


To me, the colors do represent how I feel about what I went though. Deep emotions of sorrow and loss with little bright flecks of hope and healing. I guess that is what a good artist does, takes the intangible and makes it into something tangible. 
In life there are lots of struggles and pain, but there is hope and joy and peace... sunshine after the rain.  Anyone can relate to that. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vaca Numbers

8 action packed days - 2 spent traveling

5 hours in flight round trip = 2 bags of goldfish crackers, numerous snack bars, a bag of gummy bears, two packs of gum, too many Yummy Earth lollys to keep track, and a generous sprinkling of "stop kicking that man's seat!"

3-1/2 days of glorious SUNSHINE!

8 playgrounds visited

1 really cool park (Highlands Hammock State Park)
-> 2 trails traveled
-> 1 alligator sighting

1 strawberry farm

1 wildlife rescue

1 children's please touch museum

3 thrift stores

1 amazing used book store... no really it was amazing

3 books purchased at said book store  (including a knitting book from 1942!!)

6 sleepless nights + 1 where we slept = 2 tired parents

1 Baby Surprise Jacket (mostly) completed

0 pictures to show you because I left my camera there...
(I will get it back eventually, but will likely be a bit anxious until its safe return.)

many happy memories... we are counting it a success!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

just like cats


I remember reading advice on how to keep indoor cats from getting bored and destroying stuff.  (Yes, this was before I had kids and actually cared to read articles about pet care.)  They said to get a bunch of empty boxes and rearrange them every few days. I guess to stimulate the cats or something?  This useless info popped into my head today.

This week my boys have been straight up crazy.  BOUNCING into the walls. 
Literally. 
Climbing, jumping, spinning, throwing with all the BOY energy they have.
We have a mini trampoline so this afternoon the 4 year old hurled himself from couch to trampoline to chair and back for a good 10 minutes.
The 1 year old also flushed his toothbrush down the toilet while I was on the phone.
But that's another story.

Breakfast on the floor, honey on the floor, cat food in the cat water, etc etc

A simple solution would be to get them out of the house.  However, they've been sick and the weather has been bad.  We are attempting a family vacation next week so I just want everyone to get healthy gosh-darn-it.  We've been PBS-ing it and Netflixing even, but there is only so much screen time one can justify.  We've been cooking and doing our housework, but the days are just so long.

So while we were watching the washing machine fill up and agitate.  (Yes really.)  I remembered the cats.  And laughed. 
Little children are not unlike animals in that they need to be stimulated or they will start getting nutty. 

I then thought about how puppies that are left unattended will start chewing the legs of your furniture and eat your shoes and destroy all your stuff.  The baby doesn't eat shoes, but he will chew the wheels off of toy cars.  I digress...

Do I have a point?  Not so much.
Yes I realize that my precious little ones are not animals.  I really do enjoy them (most of the time). We have so much fun together.
But I am darn glad we don't have more pets. 

And we really really need to get out of the house...

Monday, January 31, 2011

$1 box of kids stuff

Here's a dealo I had to pass along. 

Today this site, DealPulp, has a voucher for ThredUp, an on-line swapping site for children's items, on sale for $6.  But if you are new to DealPulp, you get a $5 credit making this deal only $1!!!

In a few days they email you your code, you go over the ThredUp and order your box of clothing or whatever you need.  Shipping is included.  Sounds like a great way for moms to swap gently used items their kids no longer need for things that you do. I figured it was worth a shot for a dollar.

If you feel like giving me credit, use my linkies.

DealPulp - where you purchase the $1 voucher
ThredUp - where you will redeem the voucher once they email it to you

More info about ThredUp:
•Pick a box of pre-loved kids clothes in the size and gender you need for only $6 (or $1 w/ this deal) and have it delivered to your door for free
•The average box on thredUP contains 15 clothing items and includes top brands like: GAP, Carter's. Children's Place, Osh Kosh and Gymboree
•95% of the boxes reviewed on thredUP have been rated 3 or 4 stars (out of 4) by other moms

•Need to de-clutter? Box-up your kids' gently used stuff and send it to another parent for free
I am thinking about some gently used toys we have been gifted that need to find a new home.... hmmm

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Balance

I thought this was a great post and I thought I'd share.

How to Balance Structure and Flexibility in Your Life as a Mom

I like how she tells you to drop the guilt and embrace what you are instead of always focusing on what you are not.

I feel like I am always seeking balancing in my life.  There are times where my life felt somewhat balanced.  So I know it is possible.  It's not a completely unrealistic goal. 

Still I find myself wondering...

How much time do I spend tending to the kids' needs while still meeting mine?

How much do I focus on keeping everything neat and tidy while still letting my kids play and make messes and just be kids?

How do I balance time spent on the housework with time spent on the many other things I'd rather be doing?

When my baby was a newborn, the answer was clear: Soak up every moment of his precious babyhood... I did that and I don't regret it.

Now he is completely a toddler.  A feisty, curious, climbing, tenacious "baby on wheels"... 

I guess that is part of what January is about, setting goals and deciding what is really important.  A new year, a new start and all of that.

So I will continue to seek a balance that works for me and my household.  I embrace this season of my life and realize it comes with a decent level of chaos.  It's ok to be me and it's ok to strive for improvement.  :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snowflakes

Call me a science geek, but I love this stuff.  During a recent snowfall I looked up on my windshield, after we stopped of course, and I noticed that I could see the actual shapes of the snowflakes.  So I got my camera out and tried to capture some.  Here are my results.



If you want to try this, just take a dark piece of construction paper out and set your camera to "macro."  Most digital cameras have a macro setting represented by a flower icon.

This week, W and I have been learning about snowflakes and reading The Snowy Day


(We have been working our way through Before Five In A Row this year.)  While searching around for related info, I stumbled upon this neat site:


They used some special microscope and captured tons of amazing images like this one.  I just love the beauty of Creation.  Check it out!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

shopping linky love

I love on-line shopping.  Especially if it's a great deal!
I usually don't have any problems but at Christmas there were a few mess ups (coughJCPennycough).  Anyway, it isn't enough to keep me away.

There are some really fun sites I like to check that offer baby and kid's items at about half-off.  I am not affilated with these guys.  Just thought I'd share.

http://www.babyhalfoff.com/
http://www.babysteals.com/
http://www.kidsteals.com/
http://www.mamabargains.com/

Then there are similar sites that you have to sign up to view.  I'm guessing this has to do with the companies not wanting their products advertised at such low prices.  I have signed up for a couple, but the only one I have purchased from and actually check frequently is Lil Luxe.  Here is my referal link:

http://lilluxe.com/rewardsref/index/refer/id/9939/

They have some good deals on cute, name brand stuff. Right now they have squeaky shoes, puzzles, some seriously cute hampers, clothing and more.  I have ordered from them once and would order again if the right item came up.  Oh and if you "like" their Facebook page there are coupon codes they run for more savings. 

Happy Shopping! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Knitastic

My needles have been a'clickin' lately. (My hands are even a little sore! heh)

Here are a few FO's (that's crafty talk for finish objects)....

New Hat for the Big Guy
Hat for my 1yo Nephew
(My big boy was a good sport and modeled it.)

A Squishy Vest for Baby

I started a vest for the big bro too, but it is turning out huge. So I set it aside to cast on a new pair of longies (aka wool pants) for the little one. 

Knitting has been a steady hobby for about 5 years now.  I never get tired of trying new fibers and patterns and techinques but I am less productive in the summer months. The cold weather and a pile of wool on my lap just go together like hot cocoa and snow days!

I participated in a "pay it forward" game on Facebook so I have a few gifties I need to decide on next.  hmmm

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Child Labor

errr, I mean Montessori-based preschool activities.  ;)

A big component of Montessori for preschoolers is teaching them about daily activities.  I have two books on Montessori and there are some good ideas in there:


I've discovered that even though doing chores with the kids takes about twice as long, it can be less frustrating.  Why? Because if they are actively engaged they are not going behind me making more messes while I am not paying attention. 
Gotta keep 'em busy or they will keep you busy, no?
This week I have been trying to kick my serious lack of motivation in this department by getting the kids involved.

Here are a list of chores you can do with the under 5 set. Please let me know if you have any new ones to add!  I am always learning (and forgetting) about new stuff to do with the littles.

Laundry - Toddlers can put laundry in the washer and push wet clothes in the dryer.   They can also scoop dry laundry detergent from a big container.  Oh and putting clothes in a hamper is great fun.  Preschoolers can fold simple items like washcloths and hand towels, hang small items on child-sized clothes line and match up socks.  My four year old can put away his socks and underwear in low drawer. 

Dishes - Toddlers can place clean silverware in a drawer sorter thing and load dirty silverware in the dishwasher.  Preschoolers can help hand wash dishes, set the table (with the help of a place mat guide... these are pretty, this is really easy), and clear their plate when they are finished.

Vacuuming - Could just be my kids, but using the hand vac is pretty much their favorite thing ever.  Close supervision and specific instructions are essential of course.

Sweeping Floors - They sell child-sized brooms and dust pans on Montessori sites.  I have also heard of cutting down a wooden broom handle is a more affordable option.  I don't have either, but I did take a section out of a swiffer to make it shorter. 

Straighting - In the afternoons I have the boys deliver all the wayward socks, shoes, coats, trash, etc from the living room to their respective homes.  We live in a rancher so this is quick.  The oldest loves racing around.  I think it's good for 'following directions' practice.

Other cleaning - A small spray bottle filled with water and vinegar cleans lots of surfaces.  With some guidance, little ones can clean windows, doors, mirrors... basically any hard surface.  Oh and they think feather dusters are a lot of fun. I just started teaching my 4.5yo how to clean a toilet and scrub out the sink. 



Things are not nearly as perfect as I would do them, not even close.  I figure I am trading perfection for teaching life skills.  And yes, some days I just do things on my own because it is easier and quicker.  I also try to keep all this very fun and matter-of-fact.  When they are in a bad mood and don't feel like doing it, I drop it.  (Forced chores will come then they are older. haha)