Thursday, July 9, 2015

Stay Late Over: The No Sleep Sleep Over

I am one of those that hate the sleep over. I know it’s fun, the kids love it, it’s a right of passage, and what kid doesn’t love the endless giggling and talking all night, I’m not suggesting that boys enjoy the giggling but hey my husband giggles. You’ve got to admit that the sleep over is associated with a lot of negatives as well. Kids are most likely to be exposed to something unwelcome at a sleepover. Kids staying up late and getting into trouble looking at porn, watching bad movies, playing violent video games, or being exposed to language or something else that you wouldn’t be okay with. Not to mention the most obvious consequence in my mind is that a sleepover is one of the most likely times that sexual assault happens. Now I know that you wouldn’t let your kids go spend the night at someones house that you did not trust of course not just anyones’ house is sleep over worthy. But I’ve decided to have a NO SLEEP OVER rule...
Are you saying...

"I Only let my kids stay the night with families I trust!”  - Sexual assault is most likely to happen with someone you know not someone you do not know, whether you trust them or not. Yes, I am going to be the one to say it, we do not want to admit it because we think that would mean that we do not trust someone we care about. I’m not suggesting that you go around not trusting people, I’m only suggesting that the sleepover has a high chance of sexual abuse and trusting someone does not take that away. There is just no way to protect your kids from sexual abuse completely but we can take out any risk we can. So take out the high chance item of sleep overs.

“My kids love sleep overs and they are a blast!” - Kids get uncomfortable sleeping over at a friends house. Yes there is fun and games but the truth is that once the giggling and fun is over it is uncomfortable to stay the night at a friends house. I remember begging my mother to allow me to stay the night over at a friends house. Even though I asked and I wanted to a part of my was nervous about “sleeping” over. It is much better for mom or dad to say no so that your kids do not have to. It is really hard to sleep at a friends, I remember calling my mom in the middle of the night on several occasions to pick me up at 1:00 in the morning.

“We will just have sleep overs at our house or with people we trust!” -  Making the choice before hand leaves out disappointment and hurt feelings. Kids can be convincing and if you’ve met the family and they seem legit it is easy to allow your kids to stay the night over somewhere that you do not know the family well enough. Also, if you say no and especially if it has to be repeatedly then the family might be offended. If you only have people stay over at your house then others will be offended when you do not want your kids to stay at their house especially if it is a close friend. Then your back to making the choice one sleep over at a time. If you have a blanket rule then no one takes it personally.

“My kids miss out.” - What are they missing out on. Having fun with their friends, movies, popcorn, late night giggling, and talking into the late night.

Here is what to do: Have a STAY LATE OVER

We invite friends over to have a pajama party and stay late watching a movie, eat popcorn, and then I take the kids home late but before bed. The kids still get the fun and they get to enjoy their friends and do nails etc. Make it fun for the kids you could make some fun snacks and have some fun board games. Get creative and do something your kids like and make it fun and worth missing the sleeping part.  Then you don’t have to deal with the awkward middle of the night phone calls or if the kid gets sick or dealing with having to tell them to “go to bed” all night.

If my kids get invited to a sleep over or a friends to stay the night or a birthday party sleep over then they just say I’d love to but I can not stay the night but I can stay until 10 o’clock (or whatever you decide) and then I let them of have fun at a friends and then I just plan on going to pick them up.

Another thing you can do is have a Pajama breakfast party at your house. Invite friends over for breakfast one Saturday morning and do a breakfast of Waffles and Ice cream. That is what I remember eating at one of my friends house. It was a great food memory. It’s not something that kids get to eat for breakfast so getting to have friends over to have some Ice cream on your waffle is a great way to make a memory!

Best of all you can rest assured that your kids have less chance of being abused, you do not have to worry about them all night, you do not have to wake up in the middle of the night and go pick them up, your kids can still get the benefits of a sleep over by planning other events or picking them up before bedtime at a friends. Start the trend in your community and maybe it will catch on. It is easier if the group of friends your kids hang out with all have similar types of parties. Be the start of change!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Traveling with Kids: Tips and Reward System

Travel season is coming up and it is time to come up with a travel plan.  Young kids have short attention spans, they are stuck in a car seat the whole trip, and everyone is in close quarters for a long period of time.  So you need some tricks up your sleeve,  some fun in your bag, some jig in your wig, okay now I’m just making up sayings.  I had three kids under the age of 4 and we took a 26 hour drive to Canada and my kids did awesome!  I had to go prepared.  Here are some tricks to travel with:

Itinerary:  A long trip with young kids requires a lot of planning.  Do not forget the itinerary and do not plan on just driving right through unless you want a lot of unhappy campers.  Plan stops alone the way.  Know when you are going to get somewhere and plan ample amount of time for stops.  I planned for half hour bathroom stops every three hours and at least two one hour stops a day.  The first time we went on a long trip I just thought we would find places on the GPS and just stop when we were ready to get out but this was not a good idea because we spent way too much time trying to find something and then we ended up in weird spots or the things that looked interesting to do were closed.  So plan your stops and do plan to stop.  Plan how much money you will need for gas and stops along the way.  Use cash or a recorder to make sure you do not go over budget.  It will also help make sure that the kids do not talk you into unnecessary purchases at the gas station or to splurge on the toy with the “happy meal."

Road Map: Print each child their own road map or map of the U.S. for the kids to color.  I marked where we were traveling and then we kept track of where we were and how far they’ve gone.  It was also neat for them to be able to see what states they traveled in.  Do not forget to mark your stops on their map to give them something to look forward to on the drive.  The other thing we used our road maps for was to play the license plate game.  Long summer road trips are perfect for trying to see how many states license plates you can find.  Have the kids color the states of the license plates they found or if your kids are a bit older you could even turn it into a game and have the kids see who can find and color the most states.

Travel Tickets:  Another tool that I used to help the kids understand how long we were going to be in the car were travel tickets.  For each day I would give them the same number of tickets as number of hours we had to drive that day.  I used the GPS to measure the hours in driving time not actual time.  This worked really well because even if we stopped for an hour we still had the same amount of driving time left and it was really easy to keep track of how many tickets they had.  Each hour they would give me one of their tickets.  So let’s say we had to drive 10 hours the first day each hour they gave me one of their tickets and they could see how many more hours were left to drive, so after the first hour they gave me a ticket and could see that they have 9 hours left.  P.S.  Do not wake sleeping children just wait until they wake and take multiple tickets then. ;)  This also helped with the “Are we there yet?” questions, they were not allowed to ask it.   If they did the answer is, “How many tickets do you have?”  Instead they could ask,”Where are we?”  Then they could check their map and see how much longer.  It makes the drive a lot more bearable if the kids know how long they are going to be there even if it is a long time.

Reward Clips: I made every member of our family, including mom and dad, clothes pin clips with their names on them.  The clips have a paper cut out on them with the names of the family or you could just write their names directly on the clothes pins.  You clip the clothes pins on the sun visor so they are visible to everyone.  If the person is behaving well and not screaming or fighting and the kids are not whining or asking, “Are we there yet?”  Then their clothes pin stays on the visor.  If they are not doing well then their clothes pin comes down.  The motivation to be good and keep your clothes pin up is an hourly reward.  If their clothes pin was up on the hour they would give me their hourly travel ticket and I would give them their reward.  I packed a reward bag and instead of giving them all of their things to do in the car at the beginning of the trip I would give them those as one of their hourly rewards.  I used snacks as hourly rewards,  I would let them even pick out something at the gas station if their clothes pin is up when we stop.  I bought a couple goodies at the dollar store to entertain them too that I used as rewards (This also gives you an excuse to say no to expensive Happy Meal treats.)  I had new coloring books, stickers, a new DVD, and things that I was planning on getting for the trip anyway but it was a privilege instead of a given.  It also spread out the things to do throughout the trip instead of all of the new things wearing out their newness by the end of the trip.  So they would give me one of their hourly travel tickets and then they would get their reward.  Do not forget a clip for mom and dad.  It was fun for the kids to ask us to put our clip down if we snapped at them.  If made for a fun and low stress way to stop the grouchy parents and for a no yell way to stop the kids from getting out of control.

Make sure that you put a list of these ideas in a travel binder so that you do not forget.  When you are angry or stressed or just plain done traveling you will not have the brain cells left to remember all of your wonderful ideas.

Game Ideas:  Try to find the alphabet on road signs, See who can get the most animals on their side of the car,  I Spy, and Travel Bingo or Scavenger Hunt all make fun games to play in the car.  Make Bingo Cards and then they see if they can color in a bingo by finding things on the bingo card, like stop signs, trees, and birds.
Find more detailed travel games on these websites: jumpstart,  mini time, MomsMinivan,, and kidsactivityblog.

Entertainment Ideas:  Do not forget the electronics.  While I am not one to use television and gaming as a baby sitter these close quarter conditions call for a little extra screen time...DVD’s, game boys, books on tape (Don’t forget to check out the library), their favorite music (our babe falls asleep to the Frozen Soundtrack every time), your favorite calming music, and tablets.  You can use electronics to keep down on the amount of extra stuff you need to bring as well.

Food Ideas:  Bring Ziplock bags...You will not regret it!  I made snack baggies with a variety of different treats similar to trail mix.  Make sure everyone has their own water bottle.  If you have to stop for lunch and go to the drive through you won’t have to buy drinks with those flimsy cups and lids.  I stored bottled water for refills in our under storage.  I also brought individual drink mix pouches for a little something different and they could just pour the individual drink mix into their water.  (This is a good idea for one of their reward hours too.)  Pack sandwiches for your first meal on the road to save time and money.  Keep a small cooler in between the front seats for easy access to food.

Give the kids one small bag for their things and then once that is full they do not get to take anything else on the trip.  This will give a place for all of their stuff so it doesn’t end up all over the floor.
Keep a folder or travel binder with all your travel tools.  Do not over pack you will not be comfortable! My sister is now coming to visit us this year from Canada.  I hope these tips help ya sis!!! Good Luck, because after you’ve done all you can do that’s all you need is some good luck!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Laundry Chaos!!!

One of the hardest chores to get done around the house is the....Laundry.  Why on earth do I have to wash clothes that aren’t dirty over and over again.  Or at least they weren’t dirty until someone took them out of their drawer, thought about wearing it, and then decided not to wear it but thought it should go on the floor instead of back into the drawer.  Furthermore, laundry is a never ending job.  Much like all of the other chores that we have but laundry is unique in the fact that it can not be ignored.  We need clothes and they need to be clean and they usually need to be clean NOW.  Not to mention the fact that if all necessary laundry steps do not get done the laundry just stares at me and either takes over my bed or the couch until it is done.  The worst is having to dig through a stack of clothes when I’m in a hurry and need the one thing that I can not find.

Try these steps to tame the laundry beast from taking over:

1.) Get rid of the clothes!  My kids got to pick out ten outfits.  Ten tops and ten bottoms and the rest went away to bless someone else. They still got to keep a couple dresses for church, some paint clothes, and a small number of activity clothing. This also lessons the amount of underwear and socks needed because I am doing laundry more often.  So I sorted through those items as well.  And now because the kids only have ten oufits the laundry needs to be done once a week which also keeps the chaos away because there is a lot less to wash fold and put away at one time.  It also cuts down on having to wash clean clothes that were just thrown on the floor because they will pick them back up and wear them because they do not have tons of options for the week.  Still not convinced...a person only has about 10 favorite outfits at one time anyway the rest are the clothes that are sitting there waiting for you to think, "Well, I haven't worn that in a while so I guess I'll wear it," or you really don't want to wear it but you don't have anything else to wear.  Kids do not need that many clothes they want to wear their favorites over and over again too.  The final point I am going to make about this is from the cannot organize clutter you can only get rid of it.  So stop trying to organize the clutter and extra's in your life just get rid of them.  I am telling you it's been the best step for taming the laundry chaos, my kids have plenty of clothes to wear!

2.) A load a day keeps the Chaos away!  Doing the Laundry is four steps: wash, dry, fold, and put away.  Not one and then another one and then oh yah it’s time to do the laundry again and they didn’t even make the drawer.  Try putting a load of laundry in in the morning switching it at lunch or after work and then folding it before bed!  Keeping up on this in small steps is the way to go.  Waiting for the last minute on laundry just causes chaos.  Doing a load a day makes sure that there are not huge piles of clothes everywhere.

3.) Pay your kids a buck if they get their laundry washed, dried, folded, and put away by Sunday night!  Something else I've done is have it washed and ready for them to fold while they watch their TV show and then they have to put them away before bed.  Now remember you have less clothes so it really doesn't take longer then one TV show and it's not like you have to extend their bedtime very long either because it's only a couple stacks of clothes to bring to their drawers.

4.) Get yourself the right equipment.  Laundry hampers, the ones that have three spots to sort and wheels are great too.  Organize your laundry room or laundry space.  Make it a place you love not dread, add some decorations or some fresh flowers, and maybe even it’s own radio or blue tooth speakers for audiobooks or music.

If it’s bugging you there is always something you can do about it.  How do you manage your laundry chaos?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Hubby’s Home Work Hours

I slave labor over the stove cooking, cleaning up, helping kids with homework and trying to fold laundry all the while my darling husband sits on the couch and watches TV or plays on his phone.  I am inclined to look over and glare for awhile and then I start saying things like, “The garbage could be taken out.”  And then I say, “Could you please take out the garbage?”  He says, “Ya sure I’ll do that.”  And then continues to watch TV.  “When?” I say.  Oh maybe when I leave for work in the morning.  Okay, then I just want to loose it.  And this is fair how?  Yah yah, I know life is not fair but sometimes I just do not think my husband understands.  When I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done why does he think watching TV is on the agenda.  Am I the only one with this problem?

No typical hunny do list will do.  We’ve got to kick this into overdrive.  We decided to implement...Hubby’s Home Work Hours.

Here’s how it work:

For every number of kids we have my husband works the same number of hours each week on anything I want.  We have four kids so for four hours on Sat. or whenever we can schedule it that week he does whatever I want.  The trade off is that he gets to do whatever he wants the rest of the day without glares or judgement.  If he wants to sit and watch TV and I want to fold laundry while we watch he can and I can.  We can both enjoy it then.  He can enjoy it because I do not get to glare or judge or make comments about all the things that need to be done around the house and I enjoy it because I’m doing what I want and he has already helped out.  

My Hunny do list is getting smaller since we have been doing this and I am actually about to add some things to it.  I feel more relaxed about the time he wants and I do not feel like I have to bother him because I feel like I get what I want too.  I had heard this idea a couple times from some books.  I’m glad that we decided to implement it.  One other way that we tried to  implement this idea is on a daily basis.  If I needed something done I would ask and then I would bribe him by leaving him alone the rest of the day if he did that one thing for me.  Which worked too but we just found it harder to keep up with and we tend to be busier on weeknight.

My husband is pretty awesome if I do say so myself.  He works hard and does a lot for our family.  I’m really grateful for him.  Sometimes husbands just do not have the same thoughts on getting things done as their wife’s.  Did I say sometimes I meant most all the time.  This gives me and him more of a timeline on getting projects done so there is not a miscommunication there.  These things are usually more important to me then to him and he just thinks differently then me.  I have found that the most beneficial thing to do after this is to just do the other things that need to be done myself because I want them done.  The most important thing here is just not to be resentful when you are doing the jobs just do them because they need to be done and you want them down now.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Proper Goodnight

I am a super busy body and usually can't stop all the stuff I have going on at bedtime and I want to stay up and usually write all the amazing things going on in my head down on paper or computer.  My husband on the other hand gets tired and starts falling asleep usually while I'm trying to tell him all of these amazing things.  I hope you know I'm exaggerating here however my sister can attest to falling asleep during my nighttime rantings when we shared a room as little kids.  The problem is that I want to go to bed with my husband and give him hugs and all the loving kindness he deserves!  But if I try to go to bed I'm just left with thoughts running and running and I can't sleep.  Which we all know is a small form of torture.  So I came up with....

"The Proper Goodnight" 

...and we actually call it that...I ask him, "Are you ready for your proper goodnight!"

So here's how it works...

Husband goes to bed because he's tired or vice versa you may be the one that has to stick toothpicks in your eyes to try to stay awake so you can go to bed with your go to bed with him...not to sleep just to snuggle get some back rubs and the low down on how each other's day was and then snap I'm back up out of bed to finish all the crap that won't get out of my head!  (PS sometimes the snuggling helps and I'm ready and needing to sleep too)

Why this is important and how it's blessed our far?

*This gives us the chance to show each other we love each other in our own personal love language.  I'm not just talking about sex here but sex is a plus!

*It renews our bonds daily and keeps them strong so they don't fade.

*It gives us a chance to talk about any concerns or anything that's hurt our feelings.  ***general warning for this not talk about stuff that you know is going to get one or the other of you ticked off because you know neither of you will be sleeping after that***

*I feel more Loved and Fulfilled.

This has been something much easier for my husband and I to do with a more "normal" schedule but this is not always something that we can physically do due to work schedules.  My husbands police officer hours did not help the matter in the least.  Looking back I wish we would have made the effort even if it wasn't at night.  Instead of a proper goodnight try a proper good morning, or nighttime phone call, or get the point.  Plan it some other time if you aren't able to do it at bedtime.

Our relationship is number one and I sometimes loose the focus of that amidst kids, house, work, and other responsibilities.  I notice that when I do not spend time with my spouse it shows.  Continued undivided attention is necessary to a successful relationship.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Chore Headaches Solved

Dividing the household responsibilities can always be a bit tricky.  Who does what, when, how often...Etc.  Someone is always feeling like they are getting the short end of the stick.  Is that the saying? Anyway, How to divide the work.  I love letting my kids be responsible for themselves.  I cannot believe the progress we have made with this, this year.  My kids are starting to get a little older and they really do get themselves ready and dressed without much pushing and fighting in the morning.  Well fighting with me anyway, fighting with their siblings is a different story.  In fact, I am going to admit that on a handful of mornings I even stayed in bed because I’d been up with the baby and they got ready completely on their own and out to the school bus all on their own AND not to mention that their chores where done too.  When our kids are responsible to help out and to make sure their part gets done they will strive to do it, and we are all a lot happier.  Here are some tools we have been using to help:

The Chore Wheel:  You cannot laugh at my shottie work, it was not designed for aesthetic appeal, however you crafty moms out there could come up with something a lot cuter I’m sure.  Please post a picture if you do!!!  I love the wheel we change it around (towards the sink) every sunday night.  So the kids have the same job for a week.  I have found that a week is just the right amount of time.  It is long enough that I do not feel like I am forgetting to change the wheel and it is not too long where someone really feels the agony of doing the dishes last forever.  Pick chores to put on the wheel that are age appropriate and that are daily chores such as feed the animals or clear the table.

The Checklist:  There are tons of things that the kids need to do in the morning that are not really considered chores but are necessary to personal health and hygiene and also to their environmental health.  I may have made that last thing up but it’s true.  I bought each of my kiddos their own checklist and I started them out small.  I hate those pre-made checklists with things already on them because first of all we are so excited when we first get them that we do it for maybe a week tops and then the novelty wears off and we are back to square one of yelling or forgetting etc.  So I made our own.  I wrote on the dry erase boards with sharpie so they could check them off as they went and not keep erasing the checklist.  At first I didn’t want to ruin their boards or not be able to change something on the list later on but believe me it is well worth putting it on in sharpie, you can always adapt still.  The major component to getting this one right is to start small put things on the checklist that the kids already do very well.  My kids brushed their teeth really well so that went on there, then I picked one or two new things that we needed to work on.  Such as picking out your clothes every night before bed.  We worked on the new items for about a month and then added items onto the checklist (such as reading 10 min. every night) as we began to master the new tasks.  If they finished their morning checklist they get to watch one TV show, if they finish their nighttime checklist then they get to have a night time treat.  It works wonders.  The treat isn’t extravagant but something small and they just finish then they get one they don’t or they take to long then they miss out.  They soon learn the tasks and they become habits for their lives.  I know I am still mastering routines so I need to remember to take it easy on them and give them the skills to master the routines instead of getting angry and saying, “I thought I told you to...” all the time.  In addition, I added a box for the kids to check if they checked everything for the whole day and I award them a dollar each week it’s done.  I love being able to teach the kids about money management.  We are creating wonderful routines with this system as well as acceptability and responsibility in the kids.

Home Blessing Hour:  This is one of the tips I took from the Fly Lady at  She suggests doing Home Blessing Hour on Mondays but since I am a busy mom and mondays are way too busy for it most weeks.  We do ours Saturday morning and this way everyone can pitch in and help too.  If you have a floppy schedule like my husbands job did choose a day that he has off so he can help too, but make sure to schedule it and discuss it at family meeting or it won’t happen.  Or if you like to do the work yourself schedule it when nobody else is around or when everyone else can be busy.  But it could be a good day to plan something fun with the family, you can tell everyone that if they all work hard for an hour cleaning the house then we will get to do something fun.  This is the quick cleaning day of the week.  The Fly Lady has other 15 min. deep cleaning tasks that she does daily instead of a day of cleaning.  So it’s a quick vacuum, sweep/mop, dust/polish, throw out old magazines/take out garbage, and change sheets.  Take about 10 min. each give or take.  I set the timer and go.  I made these flower pots for a pick me jar for church but they would also work great for chores.  Just put the names of the chores on the bottom of the popsicle stick and let everyone pick their jobs. Can you think of more ways to use these?

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!

***Update:  Conversations about these packs have been circling and I’d like to share some of the ideas that have been shared.  A friend suggested using oats and lavender in the heart packs and even using a tube sock so you can tie, add more, and then retie.  Another idea is to add essential oils to your heart pack.  Oils that aid in sleeping are Lavender, Calming Blend such as Serenity, Roman Chamomile, and Frankincense.

If you are not into sewing and do not want to make your own.  My sister has opened up shop on Etsy.  Check out her shop and her own version of the Heart Pack Here.  Only $6.79 USD.

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. :)