Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Be a Mom for your own Reasons not Pinterests'

There are so many great ideas on Pinterest, Facebook, and awesome blogs like this one!  But in all seriousness, these awesome ideas everyone has and all these wonderful things everyone is doing with their kids, their families, and their talents it can be difficult not to compare yourself to what everyone else is doing and feel like, “Am I doing enough.”  “Is what I’m doing good enough.” Well I am hear to say the answer is....Complicated. I was going to say, “Yes, Yes I am!”  I cannot leave a thought at that I have to think it to death but in this case it is going to be worth the read.  "Am I doing enough?"  There is a good way to tell if you are doing enough or doing it right.  Here are some questions to help you answer this question...

“Do I LOVE what I am doing?” ...  One of my all-time favorite dreams come true, being a mom.  In a recent study done at my household I found that I completely suck at cooking healthy meals and spending my day cooking and cleaning the house and perfecting them.  Just suck at it!  Not to mention the fact that it is not my bag.  I don’t like it.  It does not drive me or give me passion in life.  I have some fabulous friends who are the best cooks, in fact I hear it from my kids, other friends who are really good at being patient and quiet and nurturing, and yet more friends who make the cutest crafts and baked goods for their kids.  I sometimes think, “Wow they have it all, Why can’t I.” Well, I try, I try really hard to pull all of this off, because that is what being a good mom is right?  No.  Most of us do not have it all even if they seem like it.  Being a mom is not an idealistic fantasy of having perfection.  A mom who can DO IT ALL.  A mom who can work, craft, cook, and make a ladybug sandwich.  I LOVE my friends I gain great insight from how they parent and do things in their family and I have the best examples around me, I am truly blessed and truly grateful.  What I have realized is that I need to use in my life what works and appreciate others for what works for them but leave it at that.  So if I do not like to cook elaborate meals, clean a spotless home, or make cutesy crafts then don’t.  The people blogging and pinning and sharing these ideas, do LOVE them, I don’t have to too.  I do not have to live up to this ideal, all I have to do is be the mom that I LOVE and my kids will love me too.  Sure we are the adults in the relationship so we will occasionally have to do things that the kids like that we don’t but that is what I LOVE about being a MOM.  Seeing those happy smiles on my kids face.  I found that I wasn’t happy being a mom, it wasn’t because I did not like being a mom it was because I did not like being the mom I thought I had to be.  So I am learning that even though these are generally things that moms are in charge of I can find a way to make it work for me and what I enjoy.  So I throw some food in the crock pot, make crafts that I can do if ever needed (or that saves me money), and clean in stages and time myself so I do not feel like I have to have the home spotless.  The real love of being a MOM is the ones who make it all possible, my kids!  The smiles, hugs, and talks I have with my kids; those are the memories that I will keep with me and that they will keep with them.  The burnt grilled cheese, the bike rides, the soccer games, decorating the house, and the same old caramel popcorn that we LOVE will be my passion for being a mom.  Put your focus on what YOU love, not what someone else does!    

“Do I idle my time away?”  ... DO NOT SAY LAZY, do not say it, do not even think it!!!! You are not LAZY you are most likely just a perfectionist and just want to have everything perfect, which isn’t possible, so stop that and stop that negative talk.  Try writing down everything you do for a week.  How much time do you spend online, watching TV, Sleeping, Hanging out with friends, working, and time with your family etc.?  This will give you the reality check you are in need of.  Maybe you do need to waste less time or maybe you need to rest some more and give yourself a little pampering.  I find that when I am depressed I do the ZONE OUT!  TV, Facebook, Internet, whatever will take my mind off the pain.  Maybe you just need help.  Get some if you do, it’s okay, the best thing I ever did.

“Am I enjoying my Kids?”... Maybe you are doing a ton of really neat “Mom” things that you like but are you missing out on special moments with your kids.  Make sure that we do not over do it so that we have time to enjoy our kids.  When do you need to slow down and take a minute to just spend time with your kids.  Do you catch yourself saying, “Not right now,” “In a minute,” or “I’m too busy.”  Maybe you could slow down and read the kids a book, go for a walk with the family, or just sit around and hang out telling each other about your day.  Now I’m not saying that you always have to drop everything to do this.  In fact, the other night my daughter tried to come out of her bed and read me a book in the middle of my night time pick up.  Well, I had just spent a bunch of time with her and I needed to get some things done before I went to bed and so I could sleep at a decent hour so I could be a happy mom tomorrow.  You just need to listen to that little voice inside of you.  It will tell you when to put something down, you just have to listen.  If there is a lot of anger in your home chances are that nobody is getting what they need.  We need love, we all need love and in order to feel love we have to have time to show our love and get to know our kids.  Spend at least 2 minutes of undivided attention with each kid everyday.  It is doable and not overwhelming.  You can do it.  Before bed is a great time.  You will be surprised at the changes you see.   Chances are you won’t want to stop at two minutes.  On busy days you have to, just tell yourself, "I have two minutes."

“Are you doing enough?”

Make changes that would benefit you and your family.  Keep the good.  No jealousy, comparisons, or put downs; simply appreciate and leave the rest.
"It’s Enough"

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Birthday Month

So this month is our Birthday Month!  I am sure you all know what I am talking about.  Two birthdays in March and one the beginning of April.  And that’s just the people that live in the house.  There are also six other birthday’s in the immediate extending family.  This year my daughter is turning eight and getting baptized.  So yet another event to plan for.  I have stupidly planned the fun things to all happen on this eighth birthday as well.  What have I done to myself?  Since we do have three sibling birthday’s so close we do have to plan.  Our family has had the tradition of having a “BIG FRIEND PARTY” every four years.  This was to eliminate the stress and cost of having big parties every year, but yet still give the kids the experience of getting to have a big party.  So they get a friend party on their 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th birthday’s.  I thought these were good milestone years and were good for having birthday parties.  Luckily the three girls birthdays land on different years for their “friend parties" so that is going to work out great.   I have an 8, 6, and one year old this go around.  So not only do I have the three birthday’s, my eight year old gets a friend party, and a baptism, and one more thing my nine year old got to do on her 8th birthday is that she got to get her ears pierced and have a special dinner with mom and dad.  Whew!!!  One things for sure once you do it for one, the rest do not forget!  Not to mention Easter on the Horizon!  So now what to do the stress of the events are starting to add up...Where do I start?

Here is a List I am going to use to get myself straight and maybe it can help you with your birthday month too:

1.) Budget how much money I’m going to spend
2.) Pick the times and Dates of the events
3.) Book any locations that are going to be used
4.) Order or make invitations
5.) Mail or Pass out invitations
6.) Delegate some of the responsibilities
7.) Start making cakes, or order them
8.)  Plan the meals for the baptism, guests, special birthday dinners, and Easter
9.)  Make a grocery list
10.)  Make a gifts list and order any gifts that need to be ordered:  Also Add Easter Gifts to the List
11.)  Go Shopping
12.)  Make a list of needed decorations and start making and ordering them/Make Programs
13.)  Prep any foods that can be done before hand and freeze some things like desserts or casseroles
14.) Finish decorating cakes a couple days in advance, and put them in the freezer/fridge
15.) Plan any games or activities and prepare any items necessary
16.)  Go in before hand and decorate and have things set up/Print and Copy Programs
17.)  Finish foods and setting up
18.)  Clean House
19.)  Get everyone ready including nice Hair
20.)  Enjoy the Celebrations!

*Number One tip! Write it all down and plan a time for it all.  Do not leave it up to chance, but be prepared to be flexible when things do not turn out the way you planned.

I use COZI family planner to organize my To Do Lists, Menu’s, and Shopping Lists.  It is an online Calendar as well as an App for your Phone or Tablet.  It is nice to have everything in one spot!

I really like the idea of letting them have their own parties with their friends because it is not very often that we get to celebrate them individually and show them how special they are to us.  So I really like to be able to take their birthday and do that.  I know a lot of people say to do a combination birthday but I would rather make a plan and make each birthday special because if they weren’t so close together they would get their own day.  On their birthday when they are not having a friend birthday we usually let them pick dinner and have cake and ice cream and some gifts from family and then they can usually have one friend over and depending on the day we will do something together as a family.  We do not live close to extended family so it is not usually a big crowd.

What do you all do for birthday’s?  Did I forget something that you like to do when planning for parties?

Monday, March 9, 2015

What We Stand For

A couple years back my mom suggested that I watch a Ted Talk about families.  She wanted to show me that a lot of the things that I was doing were right and to keep going.  But let’s be honest there was probably some hidden pointers in there too. :)  Thanks Mom!   I did find some helpful pointers and was motivated to keep on trying!  One of the things that Bruce Feiler mentions is to come up with and post a family mission statement.  In my stubbornness I made excuses for this advice...”We have House Rules posted (oooo blog post to come), that’s good.”  Or “We’ve talked about what we stand for that’s good enough, we don’t have time to do this and I don’t want to worry about how posting it...we know already.”  Well, my heart finally softened when two things happened not only did Bruce talk about it in his video but many posts I read about successful families said that they had mission statements.  The other thing that was happening in our home with more consistency was fighting.  I thought if we all discussed how we wanted to feel at home and how we wanted others to treat us then they might get on board with this idea of treating each other nicely.   So we...
  • Held a Family Meeting: Or rather put it on the agenda for our weekly Family Meeting
  • Discussed things that we wanted in our home
  • I made a list of all ideas including the have a horse comments
  • Then later compiled them into an organized mission statement
  • I let everyone listen to what I came up with and make any changes they thought
  • I have a friend whose sister does vinyl lettering and I had her cut out our mission statement
  • I had an old cupboard that had layers of paint on it, I sanded down sections of the cupboard to show parts of the old coloring to give the cupboard an antiqued look and then I put my vinyl lettering on it.  I’ve got some more antiquing ideas to come from some future projects.
Casey Family Mission Statement Display
Here are some highlights from the video.  It is a good one check it out...
1.) "Adapt all the Time:”
-Move "family dinner,”  if you don’t have time to have family dinner at dinner time.  Spend that time together in the morning or just before bed.  There is only about 10 minutes of productive family time at dinner, it is needed, but just move it to another part of the day if necessary.  Remain open minded, make things flexible and work for the different stages of your lives.

2.) "Empower our children:  Enlist the children in their own upbringing”

 -Practice being independent.  Plan their own goals, set weekly schedules and build up their own work habits, succeed and fail on their own terms.  If they are responsible now then they can learn to have confidence in their choices later.  Let them make the mistakes while they are young and the consequences are busting 5$ worth of allowance rather then a 3,000$ tax return.  Help them make a checklist of their responsibilities so they can be responsible for themselves.  I will post our checklists in a future post.

Hold family meetings and enlist their help in the running of the family.  When we feel we have a say in something we feel we are more a part of any problems and therefore also the solutions.

3.) "Tell your story."
-Adapting is good but we also need “bedrock.”  We need to preserve the core and define a mission.  Create a family mission statement include what is important to your family and what values you uphold.
-Worry less about what you do wrong and worry more about what you do right.
-Tell your children where you came from.  Kid who know where they come from have higher self esteem and a greater sense of control.  It is research based knowledge that they have better emotional health.

Words of Encouragement from Feiler:
You do not need a grand plan you need small steps to progress.
Secrets to a happy family is to keep trying.
Happiness is not something that we have to search for.  It is something that is already there that we need to learn to see (Feiler, 2013).

I love having our family mission statement posted.  It does help in times of trial especially when we aren’t getting along to remember how we want to feel in our home.  I like to refer back to it and let the kids see where they are making mistakes and see where they can improve on the terms they set.

Feiler, Bruce. (2013) Agile Programming - for your family. TEDSalon NY2013. retrieved from

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Get the Temperature Right at Night

A common complaint at our house at bedtime in the winter is...”I’m too cold!” and in the Summer, “I’m too Hot and I can’t sleep!”  When I was little if I was too hot at bedtime and I could not sleep I remember my mom always giving me a cool wet wash cloth and it felt soooo good and I was able to sleep a lot better.  The downside to this is that I always woke up with something wet and uncomfortable.  It did not surprise me that me kids would complain about this at night before bed so I started giving them the cool wash cloth or an extra blanket but I just remember the uncomfortable wet feeling in the morning so I came up with a gift for my kiddos not just to keep them cool/warm at night but also a little something for them to know I love them and that I am with them even when they go to sleep.  It is a spin off of the rice packs that are use for sore muscles.  

It’s a Heart Pack!

My kids LOVE them.  In the winter we just put them in the microwave and warm them up and then they have a nice warm pack to snuggle and keep them warm at bedtime and in the summer we keep them in the freezer and they have a nice cool Heart Pack to keep them cool at bedtime.  Not only that they have multiple problem solving abilities.  They are great for Headaches, BOO BOOs, and a nice Snuggle at bedtime after mom and dad say goodnight.  I have all girls and I liked the idea of a heart meaning love for them at night but a friend of mine liked my idea and she has boys so she decided to make hers in all different shapes: Triangles, Squares, Diamonds..etc.

Here is what I did:

1.) I made a Heart Template out of a cereal box, you could do whatever shape you like.  I made mine about the size to fit in my hand, make sure you make it slightly bigger then what you want it so you have room to make a quarter inch seams when you sew.

2.) I used the Heart to trace the heart on two pieces of fabric.  I used scrap fabric from old projects and I wouldn’t recommend fleece because it is harder to feel the temperature through the material.

3.)  Put front side to together and sew all the way around the outside edge of the heart leaving quarter inch seams and do not forget to lift your foot and turn when you get to the points of your heart.  Leave an opening about an inch wide so that you can turn it right side out.

4.)  Cut the Fabric no the seam at your points of your heart so that the heart will flip right side out all the way and then turn it right side out you can use a pencil point to help you push out your points.

5.) Fill with regular old white rice (NOT INSTANT/MINUTE).  I Loosely folded a piece of paper and fed the rice into the opening.  Fill it enough where it feels like a been bag not too tight and not too loose.

6.)  Then do a hidden stitch and hand sew up the inch wide opening.  You are good to go!  The rice will help it stay cold in the freezer and the rice will heat up in the microwave.  I always keep ours in the freezer because it can be heated up fast but it does not get cold very fast.  Just remember it takes a little longer in the microwave if you take it out of the freezer.

So here you have it, one less complaint at bedtime!  Now to tackle the other bedtime headaches...more posts to come on bedtime!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kid of The Day

I was at my friends for the Super Bowl and I saw on her fridge a Laminated picture of a throne that says, “Kid of the Day.”  And then she had all her kids names also printed out and laminated and on the fridge and one of the kids names is above the throne.  So I had to know what this was about so I asked her about it.  It is a revolutionary idea, thanks Cassie!!!

Photo From Cassie

 Here it goes...

So everyday you designate a “Kid of the day” and that kid gets to pick.  What do I mean by pick?  Do your kids get into fights?  Do your kids fight over toys?  Who gets to sit where?  What do we want to have for dinner?  Who needs to stop singing because it is bugging me?  You get the idea.  I often times feel like a referee in my own home by trying to manage and figure out who gets what or who gets to win the fight.  I often times will let the kids work our their own arguments and in fact I will often times charge them a dollar if they want me to work it out for them.  They will usually opt to figure it out for them selves.  Kids want someone else to make the decision and I feel like what I am put in the position to decide who gets to sit where or who gets what color of sucker that the kids can feel like I am favoring one child over another even though I have no intention to do so.  This is why I loved this idea that my friend had.  To eliminate having to pick who had the toy first etc.  The answers is...well who is the KID OF THE DAY!! They get to pick.  If you are the one singing and it is bugging someone well sing on, if you want to sit by the baby in the car then go right ahead.

She said that is has become such a wonderful routine in their home that they do not even question it.  They know that when it is their day they will get to choose so the fighting has stopped.  Or at least it stops shortly after it starts.  How awesome not to have to be the bad guy or referee and just get to enjoy the kids.  We are going to try this in our home!  We are going to change it up a bit and try “Kid of the Week.”  We change chores every week so whoever has dishes for the week, the job everyone hates including me, will get to be Kid of the Week.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Orange Rhino

I have to say that I have had a no yelling resolution since I’ve become a parent.  Sadly I am not perfect and need some help.  And I’m still working on this resolve yet again this year!  I thought I had myself under control and I had kicked that nasty behavior.  So, I was emotionally stable and ready for a new kid.  Well, It turns out that new kids are the reason for the added stress and tendency to yell.  So, back to square one, well not completely I have all the skills now but I have to implement them and with little ones needing you 24/7 it is next to impossible to accomplish.  My friend Alice told me about this awesome lady who challenged herself and promised her kids that she would not yell for 365 days.  If she yelled she had to start over.  SHE DID IT!  She now has a blog and a book and I love her Facebook group called THE ORANGE RHINO CHALLENGE.  She gives us a look at her journey and the skills she learned to "YELL LESS and LOVE MORE” - Orange Rhino.  She has some great tips and she encourages you to take the Orange Rhino Challenge.  Start your goal off small and then add up to it.  She has some free printables on her website to help you get started but if you do not like all the paperwork and have gone paper free and now do your planning and everything on your tablet or phone she also has an app called the Orange Rhino.  I love the app because I do not have added paper hanging around which adds stress too!  The App is only available for apple right now but if it gets enough traffic it will also be available in android.

Orange Rhino Helps you to:

*Track your Triggers:  I track what types of things trigger my yelling and come up with a strategy to deal with it next time.

*Set your Goal and start over if you need to.

*Forgive yourself when you mess up and try again.

*Give you a support system to help you realize you are not alone.

I have had to start over plenty of times but I feel like just knowing that others are struggling with this too helps me to feel normal and helps me to make changes because I know others are cheering for me.  My kids even helped by coloring the Orange Rhino’s from her blog and we posted them around the house.  While it doesn’t always help it is a good reminder and it did help to get the kids involved and it gave a chance for us to talk about it and for them to feel okay to speak up about it too.

Orange rhino’s are peaceful but charge when provoked. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Reinvent Snacks?

I know that I posted a wonderfully well written post on how to present snacks to kids.  If I do say so myself.  But I was presented with a problem and therefore had to find the solution.  My husband presented the problem to me.  He said that we had entirely way too many snacks in the house and he wanted them gone!  Now if you know my husband he is most generally joking.  So I initially shoved it off and kept buying snacks and organizing them like I did.  Okay it was not just initially it was for years.  He began to get persistent so I figured he must be serious.  I asked him about it a bit more and he was very serious about it.  We were spending a lot of money on snacks and the kids were eating too many snacks and not eating their dinner well.  So I said we would give it a go and I would stop buying snacks.  I know what you are thinking.  "Poor women!"  Or poor kids whoever you feel more sorry for.  I did too.  At first it was hard not to just have handy snacks to reach for especially on the go.  I have to admit that I had a bit of a laugh when one of our kids asked to have a snack and dad said yes. hummmm. I wondered what snack fairy had come to visit and ran to the pantry.  No, but really what was he thinking this was his idea after all.

Surprisingly no one wilted away and died.  No one went starving.  We even were satisfied actually.  I, most of all, because everyone ate their dinner!!! What?  I know, now you're jealous!  They were hungry and well fed at dinner, imagine that.

Here is what I did to make it work:
1.)  Vegetables and fruit anytime you want.  "Don't Even Ask!"  That is my response.  If you are hungry you know what you can have.  After all, if you ruin dinner with a carrot I'm not going to be that upset.

2.)  Make treats!  Okay okay a bit counterintuitive but they had healthier home made treats once or twice a week not processed snacks everyday.  We eat them for dessert or for a family home evening snack.

3.)  Eat dinner early!  Dinner is more at 4:30 or 5:00.  The kids are usually pretty hungry after school.     So instead of making them suffer we just eat dinner.

4.)  Put any foods that need to be eaten out on the counter.  It is surprising how fast food is eaten when it is visible and easy to eat.

5.)  Homemade bread!  I also made bread and my kiddos enjoyed it with jelly.  Or I'd make over ripe banana's into banana bread.  There always seems to be a nighttime "snack"  even when I'm not buying snacks.

If you are spending too much money on snacks or your kids are over snacking and they won't eat their dinner.  Try it! At least for awhile and it will change your mindset to what is really essential snacking.  Thanks hubby for the great idea!!