I overheard a DJ on the radio this morning talking about a 30 day "No Mumbling, No Grumbling" challenge that they're doing. (I obviously listen to Christian radio - can you imagine a secular station doing that? HA!)
I turned to Mike and said, "We should totally do that. OOOH! And we can start tomorrow! Do you think we should? Try to go the whole month of June with NO complaining?"
That's kind of an unfair question for my dear husband. As in most relationships, we have opposite personality types. One of us is "glass half full" and the other has a tendency to be "glass half empty." If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you can easily guess who is the natural optimist...
But I think he agreed. He avoided answering at the time, but I say, "I think," because several times today, I said to him, "Is that complaining...?" and he quickly responded, "It's not June 1st yet! I'm getting it all out of my system!!!"
With that said, I've decided to get all of the complaining out of my system before June 1st. (I have about an hour left...) Here we go.
- I have 300 new blog posts to read in my blog reader. Three. Hundred. I am so out of the habit of checking it anymore. I check when I want to create my grocery lists and check for coupons, or when I want to see if any friends have posted, but other than that, I'm so behind! Not to mention the 240 saved posts that I fully intend to go back and print, read, try a recipe, recreate an idea, expand my knowledge of whoknowswhat, etc.
- I also don't seem to have time to blog as much as I used to. I wish I did...my bloggers block has been lifted. I have plenty to share. But I have less and less time lately. Hopefully I'll reconvene with a new summer schedule that will give me some more blogging time.
- Mike and I went to a counselor last week and it was time and money well spent. We're not screaming and fighting 24/7 or anything, but there's been some repetitive issues popping up for a while that we needed help getting past once and for all. I guess that's not a complaint, necessarily, but it's more of the fact that I'm dying to share what we learned in our first session, but I need to get Mike's permission first. I keep forgetting to ask him. Stay tuned on that one.
- Ryan and Kaylin were a BEAR to be around once he got out of school last week. I declared last Friday, "You're Best Friends Boot Camp Day." This weekend was a little better, but I'm so over the fighting already. They'll spend the whole summer in their rooms if they don't learn to get along.
- I'm tired lately. A lot. I can't seem to get myself in bed before 10pm these days and it makes for a tired mama in the morning. And I'm not working out as much, which makes me more tired. And I'm eating sugar like a maniac, which zaps my energy even more. Maybe I'm not on the computer as much anymore because I'm always napping when the kids nap? Hmmm...light bulb moment... And NO, I'm not pregnant. (I don't think...just kidding!)
- I'm so sick of having no self control with food. I need to get serious about getting in shape. Shorts and tank tops show A LOT of skin!
- I hate drama. No details there; just going to say that I hate it. Or rather, I hate being a PART of it.
Okay, I think that's it. Nothing else to whine about just now.
So I think we're doing this. I am certainly going to try it. I'm hoping it will change the tone of our home a bit. Of course, my poor, unsuspecting children have no idea that I'm going to drag them along with me on this little journey.
What do you think - wanna join me? 30 days with NO complaining...can you do it?
Monday, May 31, 2010
I overheard a DJ on the radio this morning talking about a 30 day "No Mumbling, No Grumbling" challenge that they're doing. (I obviously listen to Christian radio - can you imagine a secular station doing that? HA!)
Simple Mom's List of Household Cleaners
Making Homemade Cleaners Work Better - Small Notebook
25 Safe, Non-toxic, Home Cleaners
Homemade Dryer Balls (no more dryer sheets!)
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of liquid soap
1 55 oz. box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup Mule Team Borax
2 Cups Oxygen Cleaner
1/2 cup Simple Green
1/2 cup Water Softening Powder
Details about ingredients:
- Washing Soda – The Arm and Hammer is the only brand I’ve ever seen. Walmart and most grocery stores carry it. Strong enough to actually change organic compounds (pee & poo) and keeps them suspended in the water so they can easily be washed away. It is a naturally occurring compound free from enzymes, dyes, and perfumes, and is the main ingredient in most powdered laundry detergents.
- Oxygen Cleaner – I use Sun Brand…it’s the cheapest and most pure….Oxyclean brand has additives and fillers. For Oxygen Cleaner…the cheaper the better. Stain remover and whitener. Oxygen cleaners do not react well with extremely hard water and will add to scum build up. If you have extremely hard water, as noted above, add additional water softener.
- Water Softening Powder – This is a key ingredient…and if you have hard water you will want to double it. White King makes a powder, but it can’t be found in all areas. If you can’t find a water softening powder, use ½ cup of liquid. You’ll need to use a 1 lb box of baking soda for each half cup liquid added to offset the additional liquids so you don’t end up with a solid mass of detergent in a couple of days. (I can’t find powder in my area, so I use Calgon Liquid + baking soda).
- Put all dry ingredients in a large container – (bucket, dishpan) mix with your hands to combine.
- Use 1-2 1/8 cup scoops (the kind that came with the oxygen cleaner) per load. You’ll have to experiment a bit to find what works best with your water condition and washer size.
- Other effectiveness issues come from those with extremely hard water. I would suggest leaving the recipe as is and adding additional water softener to the washer. You may have to experiment to find the proper amount….the water should feel silky. Water softener should be added before clothes and detergent.….and definitely use vinegar in the rinse cycle.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
- The transition when Mike arrives home
- Getting the kids to bed
Working backward, we started with bedtime. My kids dawdle and play when it's time to get ready for bed, so we got creative.
It started with dessert as an incentive for racing to get their PJs on. Sure enough, we learned that the kids are physically able to get changed in under five minutes. Why it takes them 15-20 minutes without the dessert bribe is beyond me. On nights that we don't eat dessert, they also brush their teeth after PJs. The faster they do this bedtime routine, the longer they get to play with Daddy before stories.
This has been working like a charm.
The next issue was dinner. Everyone fought for their turn to talk, interrupted each other constantly (a no-no in our house), the kids often made non-sense noises just to drown out their sibling, Mike got frustrated, dinner was interrupted with time outs...it's not the pleasant family dinner experience that I want for our home.
Last week, Mike decided that we needed to use a "talking stick." Whoever has the stick, has the floor. I never put away this little gingerbread man spatula after Christmas, so we decided to use him as our talking stick.
So far, so good. It took a couple of nights to get the hang of it, but now Ryan is the talking stick monitor. He reminds us to grab it at meals, points out when people talk without it...he's our little police officer in training.
The kids raise their hands when they want a turn with the stick.
Kaylin bounces the stick man around like a puppet when she talks. I find myself using it like a microphone.
Dinnertime is not only quieter, it's so much more pleasant!
The last issue is Mike's transition home after work. I finally noticed yesterday why it's so tense. Often while I'm finishing up dinner, I'll give the kids things to do. (ex: wash your hands, set the table, put the toys away on the counters, etc) Last night, I heard Mike giving the kids instructions while they were trying to follow my directions. I think he gets home and it appears that they're wandering aimlessly around, so he goes into delegation mode. That's fine, except that the kids are getting orders barked at them from two different directions and get confused, which usually leads to them doing the task they'd rather do and getting in trouble from the other parent.
Now that this is so obvious, when I hear Mike giving orders, I stop him and we decide who is going to be "in charge" of the kids' direction at that moment. It's working out beautifully! And Mike no longer wonders why everyone melts down once he's home for the night. I never thought it was his fault, necessarily, but I didn't understand why the dynamic changed so much once he walked in the door! I'm so glad we're figuring this out.
There have been a lot less tears since we addressed these issues this weekend. I actually enjoy our family time again instead of anxiously awaiting bedtime for the kids. Shocker! I'm enjoying my kids after a long day together - who would have thought?
It's been in the back of my mind that I wanted to have "high tea" with my mom and Kaylin for a while now. I love tea. Especially high tea! What's not to like about tiny cakes and sandwiches??? Throw in some shopping and you have a girlie day fit for a queen.
Well, at the last minute, I decided we needed pedicures, too. It was brought to my attention the other day (when I paid a babysitter handsomely so I could attend Ryan's last day of school party) that my mom has saved us boatloads of money by babysitting during our date nights through the years. The least I could do is treat her to a pedicure!
Kaylin was so excited to pick her polish when we arrived. A whole wall full of colors to choose from...
She was so patient while my mom and I got our pedicures. She played with the buttons on the massage chair, drank her Juicy Juice and quietly licked her lollipop. People actually commented about how well she behaved. I love my mellow little girl!
Kaylin loved every minute of her first professional polish, but it will be a while before we do that again. The employee made $2/minute from this tiny client.
In the end, we all got the same polish color. Look at our purple piggies...
After our pedicures and some shopping, we went out for high tea at the foofiest place on the planet. They even had a huge chest of hats to wear while we were there.
Kaylin thought the sugar cubes were the greatest invention ever. She ordered the "nursery tea" which included PB&J crustless sandwiches, strawberries, grapes, oranges, chocolate covered strawberries, mini cakes and cookies. The pink decaf tea topped it all off.
We had such a fun girls day out.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
I'm turning into "that mom." You know...the one that goes over-the-top for birthdays. Given the impression some of you have of me, that might not surprise you, but this was never my intention.
I have no problem putting a little work into my parties. Instead of paying $10 per child to go to a pizza fun place or spending $200 to have an inflatable bounce house company host our gathering, I do it all myself. Sure, it's a little more time and effort, but let's face it: I'm not an overtired working mom that has to squeeze in time to run errands or work out. If I have time to blog, I have plenty of pockets of time here and there that I can dedicate to planning and preparing.
My birthday parties probably appear ridiculous to some, but I assure you: I'm just as frugal when I throw a party as I am in every other area of my life. I plan. I shop around. I don't wait until the last minute to make purchases...I stock up throughout the year. I stalk the clearance section all year long.
I have a storage bin dedicated to all things birthday: hats, banners, confetti, games, you name it. When I see something that I can't pass up, I buy it and stick it in the bin. Then when we have a birthday approaching, I'll pull out the bin and check my inventory.
If you keep your eyes open, you can find some great stuff on sale. A while back, I found the Elmo party hats in the picture below for $.47. I couldn't leave them on the shelf! I figured: worst case scenario, we could use them for Mike's birthday as a joke.
A few months ago, I found Elmo napkins and cupcake wrappers at Party City on clearance and voila: we now have a theme for Jason's 1st birthday. To top it off, I saw a "Fun to be One" blue baseball hat for $.50 and threw that in the box for later. Add a box of cake mix and Jason's birthday party is going to cost under $5.
Let's talk party favors. After Kaylin's Princess Party last year, Michael's put all of their Princess and Pirate party themed items on clearance at 80% off. I bought as much pink-but-not-princess-y stuff as I could find, knowing that Kaylin will love pink for years to come. I now have mini nail files, mini polish, blowers, goodie bags, even a giant pink Happy Birthday banner for cents on the dollar.
There are other ways to keep birthday parties from getting out of control. For instance, you can alternate big parties with smaller gatherings every other year. If you have multiple kids, this is a great way to spread out the cost and not be overwhelmed with extra expenses year after year.
Another idea is to limit the number of friends invited to coordinate with the age they're turning - 8 year olds could invite 8 friends.
I recently heard of a mom giving her daughter the choice between a big party and small gifts or a big gift and a small party. This little girl wanted bunk beds, so she had a simple party with 6 friends at the park with pizza, cake and games. The concept behind this idea is to set a combined budget for the party and gifts and let your child choose.
Other ideas for saving money: make your own cake or cupcakes. Most people order cakes to save time and hassle, but cake mix and frosting are cheap! If you're pressed for time or concerned about baking the day-of, cakes and cupcakes freeze really well. Just thaw on the counter and frost the morning of the party - or even the night before, if you're really stressed about it. Kids don't care how much a cake costs. Sure, bakery cakes taste better, but you're not trying to win any contests here. Plates are licked clean in under 3 minutes and everyone's ready to open gifts. (PS - Safeway had a Betty Crocker sale a couple weeks ago and I bought enough cake mix and frosting to cover both Ryan and Kaylin's birthday parties for free, after sale and coupons.)
Decorations are another area I try to save. I buy things that can be reused or repurposed. Basic pink or primary colored signs and streamers, things like that. I try to avoid theme-based banners and centerpieces, unless I borrow them (which I do a lot) or buy them used. I also buy plain-colored paper products so the leftovers can be used for other occasions.
After Ryan skimmed the Oriental Trading Company catalog for his upcoming dinosaur themed birthday, something made me do a search on Craigslist and - sure enough - I found someone selling many of the items Ryan wanted! I may even try to turn around and re-sell them when I'm done. Let's keep the recycling love going, shall we? (okay, let's be honest - I just want my money back...)
The cost of balloons seems ridiculously high to me, but sometimes I'll splurge and spend the $8 to get a dozen. (seriously - ouch) But you can get just as much of an effect with good old fashioned HOT AIR. Helium balloons have their place, don't get me wrong, but at $.50-$1 per balloon...I think twice. Plus, helium balloons are on the ground the next day. Just sayin'.
My last rant is going to be about store-bought invitations. They're almost $1 each anymore. Not to mention the $.50 for a stamp! (okay, I just realized how cheap that sounded...but I'd rather spend that money on party favors)
Anyway, I'm a big fan of Evite.com. It's free, it's easy to use and it even tracks your RSVPs for you. I printed some cute dinosaurs on green paper and cut them out for Ryan's party this year. (because I didn't have email addresses for the kids in his class...I needed something to put in their backpacks) They turned out really cute and took me all of 30 minutes to make. Ryan even cut them out for me, stuffed them in envelopes and wrote the kids' names on them - he loved being involved.
What frugal birthday party ideas do you have? I'm sure I'm missing something. Leave a comment if you want to share you're tips!
Friday, May 28, 2010
They had pizza, carrots, fruit, cake and Sprite. (two dozen 5-6 year olds loaded with sugar - yikes!) The teacher gave them goody bags filled with books, they had a huge flamingo theme complete with flamingo glasses, they even made graduation caps from black paper bowls glued to black paper plates with a tassle on top.
In this picture, the teacher told the kids to "stand straight like soldiers," so a couple of them saluted.
I've always been one to think Kindergarten graduations were a little cheesy, but the way Ryan's teacher did it was really sweet. During the last 10 minutes of class, she pulled each child aside and publicly told them what she'd remember about them from the year before giving them a laminated "diploma." I cut off the first part of Ryan's turn, but here's most of it:
It will be interesting to see the little friends he makes next year. Good bye, Kindergarten!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Those of you who have read any of the Baby Wise books have an understanding of "Couch Time." The concept is to spend 10-15 minutes with your spouse, near (but separated from) the kids, to make your marriage a priority. Spending this time together in front of the kids shows them that their parents still love each other and helps them feel more secure, in addition to giving them a chance to play on their own for a little bit without mom and dad entertaining them.
A friend of mine has a different kind of couch time. Every night, she and her husband have a standing appointment to meet on the couch at 9:00. They talk, catch up, watch tv, reconnect, just spend time together as a couple.
Lately, Mike and I have been doing our own thing at night. When I watch t.v. or read, he catches up on the computer or practices his guitar. When I'm on the computer, he's watching shows on t.v. that I'm not into. (specifically 24, Flash Forward and recent playoff games) It feels like we rarely hang out together during the week anymore.
So Monday night, we adopted my friend's version of couch time. We're early birds, so we set our time for 8:00. This gives us a few minutes before meeting together to do our own thing if we want, because we're getting more disciplined about making sure the kids are done with stories and prayers and their doors are closed at 7:30.
It's going well so far. Tuesday night, I was exhausted and Mike had a headache, but I purposely went downstairs at 8:00 and he paused the Suns playoff game so we could catch up from the day. We chatted for 15 minutes or so, then I
completely wasted spent about 20 minutes watching the game with him, since I know he likes that shoulder-to-shoulder bonding time.
I'm excited to get back to reconnecting at night. I think we stopped spending time together when I tried not to get into the new season of certain t.v. shows. It has resulted in him watching lots of DVRed shows all alone downstairs. (I know - how sad, right?)
There aren't many shows that we watch together. (The Office, Modern Family, Parenthood, and World's Strictest Parents, to name a few) Hopefully this 8:00 nightly appointment will benefit us as a couple. I thought I'd mention it, just in case someone else wants to give it a try!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Dawn asked, "What plans do you have for the summer. This is your first summer with Jason so will it be more diffucult to do things you usually do. I babysit my baby cousin who will be 2 soon and she has a napping schedule and can't do everything outside yet without help and has to be constantly watched over. Any ideas or advise would be helpful."
Tomorrow is the last day of school for us. Ryan's Kindergarten year went so fast!!! Probably because I birthed a whole child since he began school...
I'm looking forward to summer, to be honest. I've quickly tired of waking Jason up to drive Kaylin to and from pre-school. And I noticed that the kids got along better during Spring Break than they normally do when Ryan is in school during the days. I'm ready to de-program him from his "school attitude" and get him back on track with how he knows he should act at home.
As far as things being more difficult now that we have baby Jason, I'm not expecting that much will change. I'll be more limited as to when we can get out of the house due to naps, but he's the third kid: he's learned to tag along!
Summer here is different than most of the rest of the country. It gets hot. As in "you-can-rarely-go-outside-for-more-than-five-minutes" hot. I liken it to winters up north...we just do a lot indoors for those few months. (and by "few months" I mean May through October)
Before it gets too hot (highs in the 115 range where it cools down to 102 during the 10pm news) we'll pull out other water toys like our Slip 'n' Slide, sprinkler, baby pool with buckets and water guns.
With a pool in our backyard, we swim daily. Sometimes twice a day toward the end of the summer. By July, if you're not wet, it's unbearable to be outdoors in Phoenix. Having a pool has major perks: I can take the big kids swimming during Jason's naps. We can also take a quick dip without committing to a whole hour in the pool. We can throw on our suits, lather on some sunscreen, and go play for 15 minutes if we want.
My daily routine in the summers usually involve going to the gym and running errands with the intent of getting home and staying home by 10:30am. I try to rotate toys every few weeks, so the kids don't get bored. We do crafts, paint, color, do puzzles, play games, bake, have puppet shows, dress up, build forts, occasionally we'll have play dates, things like that. I also try to take advantage of events around town like the free story time at Barnes & Noble and the library, playing at the play place at the mall (anything for free A/C) and "open gym" at a nearby gymnastics studio.
Last summer was right after I decided to turn off the t.v. and boycotted most media for the kids. They learned to use their imaginations and found ways to get creative. I don't think I'll ever go back to having the tv on much in our house. This will be another tv-free summer, but we'll make a big deal out of family movie night on Sundays.
Before I had Jason, I made a list of all of the activities that Kaylin could do both with and without my help. You can see my pre-school activity list here. I'm the type of mom who schedules "independent play" into our days so that my kids don't need me for every. little. thing. If I have a project to do or a phone call to make, I can look at that list and get the older kids started on an activity to buy some quiet time for me.
Both kids' birthdays are in the summer, so between those, my birthday, Father's Day, Independence Day and Christmas in July, we always make a big stink over holidays to keep things fun. Last year, I involved the kids in the planning and preparing for Ryan's Carnival Party and Kaylin's Princess Party and Mike took the kids camping with some of our other dad friends. Having a few bigger events to look forward to keeps the day-to-day from getting too boring.
To get the kids out of the house a couple times a week, I've scheduled some other activites into our summer:
Movies - The local theatres here offer a "Summer Movie Fun" program where you can see one kids movie each week at 9:45am (before the theatre gets busy) for 10 weeks for a mere $7 per person. $21 and we'll get to see 10 movies this summer! I'm planning on bringing Jason with me, but we'll have to see. I might try to find somewhere to lay him down for his nap while I take Kaylin and Ryan.
VBS - Many nearby churches offer a week-long Vacation Bible School for cheap or even free. I signed up the big kids for two different VBS programs this summer; one in June and one in July. Those will be a fun break for them.
Phoenix Children's Museum - I think I'm going to break down and buy an annual pass to our children's museum. The kids love it, it's air conditioned, and by the time Ryan's back in school, Jason will be turning one and won't be free anymore. I'm planning on getting it in July so we can utilize the passes part of this summer and part of next summer.
That's what the summer holds for my family. Anyone else have different ideas?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I work best under pressure. Personally, I hate this about myself, but it is what it is. So the concept of setting a timer and rushing to get things done works well for me.
I recently read about the idea of doing this for family chores. One pastor I know sets the kitchen timer from 9-10:30 every Saturday morning. All hands on deck, working quickly to get as much done as possible during that time. The kids know that if they have a sleepover, they need to be home at 9am to do chores...it's a weekly family commitment.
So I tried this on Sunday. Normally, Sunday is our no-work, all-play family day, but since Mike golfed all day Saturday, the house was a wreck, I was behind, and there were lots of little things that needed to be done. I didn't want to spend all day working on the to-do list, so I set the timer for an hour.
I wrote a list of things I wanted to get done on our dry erase board on the refrigerator. The list was long. About 20 items, things like emptying the dishwasher, putting away laundry and trimming the bushes in the backyard.
I was met with a bit of resistance, but once the momentum started, everyone was motivated. The kids were amazing. Seriously, beyond my wildest expectations. Ryan would hurry to get his task done, race back to the fridge to watch me cross it off the list, then eagerly ask, "What next???" His excitement got Kaylin excited, which motivated me even more.
With 31 minutes left on the clock, all of the items I'd listed for the kids to do were done. I sent them outside to help Mike by putting the yard trimmings into the trash. Once that was done, I let them relax in front of the t.v. while Mike and I finished up.
I know not everyone has their kids help with chores, but it never fails to surprise me how much they love to help. Especially at this age: they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and crave the positive reinforcement they receive after each completed job.
Give it a try! Set the timer and start crossing things off the list together. As a family.
If you need ideas, here is a list of things I've taught my kids to do...
Both kids know how to:
- pick up the playroom
- pick up their bedrooms
- bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room
- put away their clean laundry
- vacuum up the crumbs under the kitchen table with the Shark cordless sweeper
- clean the sliding glass door with homemade glass cleaner (vinegar and water - no chemicals)
- pour their own cereal (Ryan is in charge of the milk)
- help me cook dinner
- set the table
- clear the table
- empty the dishwasher (Kaylin does the silverware while Ryan does everything else, putting things that belong in higher cabinets onto a clean towel on the counter - I put those away)
- dust (they still need some supervision on this one)
Ryan (at almost six years old) can:
- take out the recycle bin
- empty the trash and replace the bag
- take sheets off his bed
- wipe off the kitchen table with a sponge after meals
- pack his own lunch (including making his sandwich)
Kaylin (at three and a half) can:
- fold clean washcloths and dish towels
- use a Swiffer on the kitchen tile
- make her own PB&J sandwich
- feed the baby, with supervision (this is her new favorite task)
For their birthdays this summer, I've been thinking about the one extra responsibility I'm going to give each kid to accompany their new privilege. (I talked about that in my birthday traditions post) I think I've decided to teach Ryan how to clean the counter and mirror in his bathroom. The kids' bathroom counter is disgusting and I think it's mostly because they don't know how long it takes to scrape dried toothpaste out of nooks and crannies. I'm hoping that by teaching Ryan how to clean it, he'll be a little less messy in between cleanings. (This could be wishful thinking...I'll let you know!)
I haven't quite decided what Kaylin's new responsibility will be when she turns four, but I'm thinking it might be the dusting. (what she can reach, that is)
Does it sound like I'm raising my own Merry Maids crew? I guess I'm recently a believer in getting the kids involved. I know that there's a very small window where kids actually want to help and I want to set the expectation now instead of springing this on them when they're 10 years old and unwilling. They're much more capable at this age than I've given them credit for!
What kinds of chores do you have your kids do?
Sunday, May 23, 2010
- it's official: his hair is definitely going to be red
- he's finally laughing
- he babbles constantly "dadadadada...babababa...bda...bda...bda"
- still no teeth
- blows raspberries
- he sucks on top and bottom lip
- he's eating cereal with mix-ins at breakfast and dinner (bananas, apples, sweet potatoes, gren beans, avocado and peas, so far)
- moved him into the pack 'n' play in the playroom at night so he and Ryan don't wake each other up at 5:30am - both are sleeping so much better
- often wakes up talking and cooing, rarely crying
- consistently takes two long naps and one short nap (long in the morning for sure, the other is usually late afternoon dinner)
- he waves (at himself, because that's how he sees us wave)
- lights up in a huge smile when you sing to him
- very self entertained in the exersaucer
- loves the Baby Mozart movie
- rolls to tummy and back; just back and forth, not willingly around the room yet
- holds his own bottle
- still rarely spits up
- started sitting in restaurant high chairs this week instead of in his infact carrier
- can sit up in a tri-pod for short periods of time (or in a Boppy to keep him from crashing to the ground)
- has regular dirty diapers 4-6 times a week now instead of once a week. (Is that TMI? Sorry - I need it recorded for his scrapbook so he can be embarrassed in 20 years...) It's probably the solids he's eating now.
- still loves baths; takes them with Kaylin sometimes in his bath seat (I can't wait to get him in the pool!)
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Oh. My. Goodness. These were so good that I immediately packed the leftovers up and delivered them to neighbors. I acted like it was because I'm a good friend and wanted to share my treats, but it was more because I needed to get them out of the house. WOW, these are so good! (Warning: There is a lot of butter in these. Seriously...a lot.)
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast (or two .25 oz. packets )
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup water (approximately 110 degrees)
1 cup warm milk
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temperature
7 cups all-purpose flour
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in 1 cup warm water; set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup warm milk, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 tsp. salt, and 2 slightly beaten eggs. Add yeast mixture and 5 cups of flour to mixture; beat until smooth.
Continue to add the remaining 2 cups of flour by hand, kneading until dough is no longer sticky.
(convince daughter that this mixture does not taste like cookie dough)
Coat two bowls with cooking spray. Divide dough in half and allow to rise in the bowls until doubled. (60-90 minutes)
(doubled dough looks like this - I flipped it over once before rising to moisten the whole thing with cooking spray)
Roll dough onto a generously floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with 1/2 cup melted butter, then sprinkle with 1 cup sugar and 3 T. cinnamon. (you can mix the cinnamon and sugar; I didn't for this picture)
Beginning with one end, tightly roll the dough. Pinch the edges to seal, using extra butter as "glue," if needed.
(If you want truly decedent cinnamon rolls with no regard for calories...) Melt 1/2 cup butter in a 13x9x2 pan.
Floss the rolls (I use thread) and place into prepared pan. Allow to rise 30-45 minutes.
(Picture below shows risen rolls on the right, unrisen on the left. These slanty rolls were NOT flossed, by the way.)
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Carrie asked, "What activities do you have your kids use tickets for (in the Accountable kids system)? I need some ideas!!"
I've mentioned my love for Accountable Kids, but it's been a while. AK was recommended to me when Ryan was three and a half. To summarize, it's an system that gets kids to be accountable for doing their own "chores" (for example, getting dressed, brushing teeth and eating breakfast were Ryan's morning chores in the early years) and being rewarded for their chores with tickets. The tickets mean nothing unless they are given value, so the point is to have the child "pay" you for activities with tickets.
When the child doesn't follow an instruction, talks back, fights with their sibling, has a tantrum or anything else that would cause you to get frustrated, you simply ask them for a ticket. No yelling, no drama. Things got really quiet in our house when I started taking away tickets instead of doing time out or taking away other privileges.
The ticketed activities for our family are basically anything that I want to limit or that I need to monitor: watching tv, playing the Wii, playing with neighbor kids, having a piece of gum, riding bikes in the front yard, having a sleepover in each other's rooms, playing online pre-school games on the computer, things like that. Things that I want to encourage them to do are NOT ticketed activities: playing in the backyard, doing puzzles, doing crafts, I can't think of anything in the house that's a ticketed activity.
I also don't make the kids give me a ticket to have dessert. I'm a little funny about tying rewards to food.
The Accountable Kids kit comes with dozens of chore cards and the parents choose what's appropriate for the child. Cards include things like brushing teeth, cleaning up toys, doing homework, vacuuming, feeding pets and mowing the lawn. This system works well for toddlers up through high schoolers. No need to nag, just remind them to turn over their chore cards.
Now that the kids are getting older, I'm expanding their chores. I just added a Bible ticket to their morning chores so they can remind me to do their Bible lesson. I also added the recycling ticket to Ryan's afternoon chores; it's something he often does anyway. The recycle bin gets full daily and it's a perfectly age-appropriate chore for Ryan.
If you're interested in buying the AK kit and you have a website, I recently read on their newsletter that you can get a 25% discount if you write a review of the system on your blog. (more info here)
Monday, May 17, 2010
Monday - Lasagna Roll Ups with salad
Tuesday - Taco Salad
Wednesday - Grilled Salmon and corn on the cob with salad
Thursday - Garlic Chicken Farfalle with Whole Wheat French Bread Rolls
Friday - Veggie Packed Pasta plus eggplant
Saturday - Chicken Fried Rice
Sunday - Crust-less Quiche with broccoli and artichoke
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The kids had so much fun celebrating Jason's "halfy birthday" that I decided to start celebrating half birthdays in our house. Maybe not always with a cake, but at the very least letting that person choosing the dinner menu for their halfy birthday night and doing something to make them feel special for a day. (today is Mike's half birthday and the kids had a ball helping me surprise him with a cake)
It got me thinking about some of the other birthday traditions out there. Last year, I came across this post with one tradition I want to start for sure. I'm already planning what new responsibilities and privileges I want to give Ryan and Kaylin this summer. This is what the post explained:
A wonderful way to make your children feel grown up and help them understand what “growing up” really means is to give them two special envelopes on their birthday. One is labeled “New Privileges” and might include a later bedtime. The other is marked “New Responsibilities” and might include a new chore such as doing the dishes. The birthday child will be so proud of their new privileges that they will take on the responsibilities with greater commitment. What a great way to teach them that these two things come hand in hand. Tie these envelopes with a thin gold ribbon and prop them up against a set of candles on the dinner table.
One thing we already do for our kids on the morning of their birthday is fill their room with balloons for them to wake up to.
We also put candles in every meal all day long.
What birthday traditions did you have growing up? What do you do with your family now?