Monday, October 31, 2011

Catching Up When You're Behind

In this season of life, I am falling behind with housekeeping. Not that I want to, it's just too busy right now to stay on top of it all. However, with company (my mother-in-law and sister-in-law) coming to visit, I knew last week I had to get real busy, fast. (Plus, my mother-in-law is super, super neat. She's admitted her standard is very high). Talk about pressure.

Some things that helped me get caught up:
  • Teamwork (taking a night to work with my husband; having the kids help pick up, too)
  • A friend offering to watch the kids for a few hours, so I could have some focused work time (my now 3-year old stayed with me, and I gave him a microfiber cloth and a bottle of Basic-H spray, which is non-toxic, and he helped me spray and wipe. "There's a spot, Mommy! There's some spots!..." Yes, lots of spots.)
  • Simple meals and clean-up (time for paper plates!) (A friend who knew my predicament ordered pizza for us one day so that I wouldn't have to make lunch. Bless her!)
  • Focusing on two rooms to clean well, instead of picking around in multiple rooms and continuing to feel overwhelmed at the lack of overall, measurable progress. After two rooms were cleaned quite well (kitchen and living room), I chose to do the best I could with the time I had left in the rest of the rooms
After all that, ultimately, I just had to humble myself. The house was as good as it was going to be. At that point, I needed to loosen up and let people in anyway--focus on enjoying their company, rather than feeling anxious that it wasn't up to my erroneous pre-conceived notions of people's reactions.

I think we judge ourselves and others' expectations more harshly than what the reality is. I was expecting to feel embarrassed. Yet, I was wrong. I was putting undo pressure on myself. Family and friends understand we can't do it all, and they don't expect us to. People are often much more merciful (and willing to help) than we think they may be. 

Now that things are somewhat caught up, it takes discipline to keep them that way. Put things away where they belong right away. Keep pickup routines in place. Stay caught up on the laundry. Stay off the computer!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It's always fun to take some time and flip through the assorted recipes I've clipped from magazines through the years. (I keep mine in a large flip-style photo album, with three slots per page, like for 4x6 pictures. Then you can buy index tabs and create categories). So some of the recipes this week come from ideas I came across while flipping through my collection (it seems like you can find lots of lost recipes on Others come from the latest issue of Simple and Delicious magazine. And others are simply old favorites.

  • Oatmeal with coconut flakes and Craisins
  • Apple Butter muffins (Better Homes and Gardens, 1990--an oldie! Found pretty much the same recipe at, and that is what I'm linking to)
  • Spinach and feta cheese omelets (lightly saute spinach in butter or olive oil, with a little onion if desired. Prepare omelets filled with the spinach and some feta cheese).
  • Greek yogurt with flaxseed, berries, granola
  • Cream of wheat, oranges
  • Whole wheat pancakes, orange juice
*A great list of new, heart healthy breakfast ideas can be found here.) (The recipes are on the right side of the page)


  • Leftover manicotti
  • Pork Roast, Autumn salad, butternut squash, possibly brussel sprouts in butter sauce and possibly apple-walnut crisp
  • Waikiki meatballs over rice, grapes, steamed broccoli
  • Spaghetti, caesar salad, garlic parmesan bread
  • Taco night
  • Homemade pizza night (using my Toastmaster  Bread and Butter Maker with the recipe from Toastmaster Corner Bakery Cook Book
  • Parmesan tilapia, sweet potato fries (have you tried these yet? I sampled the Ore Ida brand at Sam's and they were yummy!), salad 
See more menu ideas at Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Late for Pickup

Motherhood is full of so many delightful firsts: first smiles, first words, first steps. Then there are the not-so-pleasant firsts: the first time you lose your temper, the first time you make a mistake, the first time you're late to pick up your kids.

That happened to me today. And I felt terrible.

It was AWANA night at church. Not having been out of the house all week, I was feeling a little stir-crazy and was excited to drop off the boys, leave the little ones behind with Daddy, and head to the store for some shopping and sanity. Before I left the house, I made sure to find my watch and put it on so that I wouldn't be wandering around in Walmart (the Mom getaway) long past pickup time. 

As I browsed and picked up a birthday present and some items on my grocery list, I kept checking my watch to make sure I wasn't running late. I checked out with 15-20 minutes to spare before pickup time, which presented a dilemma: arrive early and visit with whichever friends happened to be there early as well, or make a quick run without kids to Walgreens, which was on the way. The running-in-without kids sounded really appealing and won over.

Big mistake. By the time I had found the five packages of toilet paper I was buying, the two dish soaps, the two Cover Girl concealers (which were .49 cents each after coupons), and checked out with my coupons, I was already a few minutes late for pickup. Right then, this whole trip just seemed silly. So I was getting a great deal on the t.p. and the dish soap, but really? My kids are so much more important to me than my Charmin and Cover Girl.

Since I don't have a cell phone, there was no one I could call to say I was on my way. It seems like when you're in a hurry, you always get behind the slowest driver in the world, and this night was no exception.

Finally, I arrived at church...25 minutes after they are supposed to be picked up. I thought that surely there would still be some kids and moms there. But no, it was just the AWANA commander and my boys, one in tears, because all the other kids had long since been picked up and taken home and yet their mommy wasn't there. He said he thought he was going to "have to stay at church for a long, long time."

I could have told him the Bible story of Hannah and Samuel, how she left her son with Eli in the temple for ever, but I didn't. :)

Lesson learned: errands always take longer than anticipated. If you think you can squeeze in just one more itty bitty thing before x, y, or z, you probably can't. Err on the side of caution if it matters to you to not be late. (The plus side is I am stocked up on toilet paper for a good long while, though). ;)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It Was Just a Test

I awoke this morning to blaring sirens. The emergency alarms in our city were sounding over and over again. I jumped out of bed, complete with nursing infant in my arms (no longer nursing), and rushed over to the door of our upstairs master bedroom so I could hear the announcement following the sirens.

"Take cover immediately. A tornado warning has been issued. Take cover immediately," urged the robotic voice of the pre-recorded siren message.

But it was snowing softly...

Maybe there was warm air high above?

Thoroughly puzzled, I booked it downstairs, where my husband had fallen asleep in our boys' bedroom, after he had gone down to help them in the middle of the night, since they are sick. We were all awake and confused. Ready for the tornado--the kids in their warm footy jammies, me in my fleece bathrobe, the baby in her nightie, and my husband in his...well...Hanes.

Turns out the morning news host was confused, as well. When we finally fumbled around and found: 1) an alarm clock downstairs, and 2) the proper radio station, the host was saying he thought it must be a glitch.
My husband thought the emergency management coordinator hit the wrong button on his alarm clock this morning: "tornado warning siren", instead of "snooze."

What a way to wake up on a rainy, 39-degree morning, otherwise perfect for staying under the covers for a few extra minutes.

The benefit of the glitchy sirens is they roused me from my bed, bright and early (ok, at 7:00). But that's better than staying in bed until almost 8:00. I got up and got going, just like in the pre-4th-baby days. Despite our nudgings, the sick kids chose not to go back to sleep and woke up, too.

Having everyone up early worked out great. I have to say that using that 7-8:00 hour sure made the day more productive. It ran more smoothly from the get-go.

Even if there isn't a tornado warning tomorrow morning, I think I'll get up and get moving as if there is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tips for Organizing Kid's Toys and the House

I could open a toy store with the sheer volume and assortment of toys we have for our boys. But to them, the toy store is boring. No matter how many they have, they seem to only play with a few favorites, leaving the rest to clutter up the basement floor/play room. Should I pack up all the toys and donate them to charity?

While that is certainly one option, there is another way, which rotates the toy selection and keeps things fresh and exciting. Zesty.

Buy some Bankers Boxes and fill them with toys. (The best price I found was at Sam's Club: 10 for $18; Office Max was four for $18.) They look like this:

You could box toys according to category, such as monster trucks and bulldozers in one, Little People in another, electronic toys (like Buzz Lightyear in another. Or, the option that my husband thought would be best would be to just box up an assortment of toys, so there are multiple choices to play with when that box is opened.

Here's how the system works and the rotation comes in:

I read in an Emilie Barnes' book once (I think it was More Hours in My Day: Proven Ways to Organize Your Home, Your Family, and Yourself) that to organize your home, you box up all unused items in the banker's boxes (they are recommended because they stack well and are durable). Number each box. Then, on a rolodex, list each box number on a card and record on that card what is inside. For example, if you are looking for the box with the Transformer toys, or the Christmas decorations, you can easily flip through the cards and find what number box the item is in. (It would probably make most sense to file the box number for Christmas decorations under the "C's").

Setting up this system certainly takes some time, but I believe (and I come to believe more and more with the more children I have!) that the rewards are worth it. I remember reading in The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families--How they Do Itthat this is the system Michelle Duggar went with after she had her fifth child. She wrote that she either had to do something or she was going to go under. That's where I'm at now, with four kids!

Getting back to how this works with toys, simply rotate the selection once every few days or once every week, at your choosing. This way you ensure the toys you've purchased with your hard-earned money are played with more than once. It also helps keep the kids from getting bored with the same toys. Mostly, it helps keep the toy clutter under control, since there can only be one boxful of items out at any one time.
(And if you want to donate a box or two to charity, that's fine too!).

(linked to Works for Me Wednesday)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

If you compare this week's menu to last week's, you'll see a few repeats. That doesn't mean we're eating the same thing again, but rather, we didn't get to it last week, so we'll see if it happens this week instead!

  • Oatmeal with brown sugar, raisins, walnuts and dates; bananas
  • Pumpkin waffles (such a great source of B vitamins and yummy!), milk
  • Swedish pancakes (like crepes), cottage cheese, raspberries
  • Pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins, yogurt
  • Coco-wheats with a spoonful of peanut butter stirred in (kids' favorite), orange juice
  • Whole-wheat pancakes (I grind my own wheat using a Nutrimill Home Grain Mill), orange juice

  • Cheese quesadillas, tomato soup
  • Broccoli-cheese quiche (except I make mine altogether in a pie plate, with a pie crust), mandarin oranges
  • Beef stroganoff (from dinner leftovers, over rice or noodles, depending on how many noodles are left after dinner)
  • Sandwiches, carrot and celery sticks
  • Goulash, biscuits
  • Dinner leftovers
  • Parmesan pork chops, scalloped potatoes, peas
  • Beef tips over noodles, applesauce, green beans
  • Chili, cornbread, peaches
  • Leftovers
  • Pork Roast, butternut squash with butter and brown sugar, brussel sprouts
  • Homemade pizza night (really easy actually--I make my own dough in my bread machine on the dough cycle, using a recipe in Toastmaster Corner Bakery Cook Book. We received the Toastmaster Bread and Butter Maker as a wedding gift, and I love it! I actually think it was one of the best gifts we received. You can do so much with it.
  • Manicotti (less expensive to use cottage cheese than ricotta), spinach and mixed green salad, garlic bread 
Visit Menu Plan Monday, hosted at, for more menu planning ideas!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Embracing The Season

Like all of life, motherhood is made up of countless seasons that follow each other with change, just as in nature. There's the adjusting-to-life-with-your-first-baby season. Remember that one? What an adjustment it was! Then, after the seasons of smiling and crawling, walking, and talking, there was perhaps the season of adjusting to life with two.  And more seasons followed.

The season I'm in right now, with four kids six and under and homeschooling one, is not terribly productive in terms of accomplishing lots of noticeable work. Dishes are always piled in the sink. I can get them done, but then a new batch comes in, and you'd never notice--unless you had an inventory list--that I really had washed, dried, and put away a previous batch. The laundry is getting washed, but being put away? Full laundry baskets all over my house testify that the clothes aren't making into the drawers and closets.  Many days, my nearly three-year old is still in his jammies at 10 o'clock in the morning (and sometimes his older brother, too). Much to my chagrin, PBS cartoons educate the kids first thing in the morning, while I nurse my newborn upstairs. (At least they're educational!)

I can either feel like a failure for all the things that aren't getting done each day, or I can embrace the season I'm in right now. With joy. See, I realized--after too many days of feeling depressed and beating myself up for how miserably I was falling behind--that this is just a season. This is what the season of being a stay-at-home mom, with four under six (including a newborn), and homeschooling looks like. Do I want to look back on it down the road, when I'm in a different season, and regret how I felt defeated and discouraged each day? How I just wanted to hurry up and get to a more productive season? Or, do I want to look back with no regrets--remembering instead, that even though it may have looked unproductive according to measurable standards, we had joy. We lived each day to its fullest. I didn't try to change the way it was. I changed me instead.

That's what I want. A transformed heart that recognizes I can't do it all. So the dishes and laundry can stack up during this season, just as long as I am cheerfully loving my husband and children and making memories that I can look back on and cherish--not regret.

How about you? What season do you find yourself in now? How can you find more joy in it?  What tips have you found to help you embrace it fully?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

I love the weeks when you have most everything you need to execute the menu plan already at home, in your pantry and in your freezer. This is one of those weeks for me, making it fairly frugal and relatively easy to pull off.

Oatmeal, brown sugar, bananas, orange juice
Ham and cheese sandwiches, apples, milk
Skillet Ziti with chicken and broccoli, garlic parmesan bread (Walmart bakery), salad

Fried eggs, toast, juice
Chicken stir-fry over rice
Enchiladas, corn, tossed salad

Granola with milk or yogurt, triple berry blend (frozen from Sam's Club)
Broccoli-cheese quiche, mandarin oranges

Scrambled eggs, toast
Chili, cornbread (grinding my own cornmeal from popcorn kernels), peaches
Riso alla Pitocca (chicken thighs on sale for .99 cents/pound), biscuits

Cream of wheat or Coco-Wheats, juice
Pasta Fagiole, breadsticks
Homemade pizza night (making dough in bread machine--it's a cinch!), salad

pancakes (grinding my own wheat), juice
Roasted pork shoulder (on sale for 1.49/pound with rain check), butternut squash, sauteed cabbage or brussel sprouts

Sunday dinner:
Stuffed shells (manicotti), salad, garlic bread

(Linked to Menu Plan Monday)

The Missing Redbox

The kids were asleep. The house was quiet. My husband and I were all set to have a fun date at home. I was looking  forward to relaxing on the couch with a bowl of popcorn while watching a romantic comedy. The only problem was we couldn't find the movie. Anywhere.

After scouring the house, the mini-van, the kids' rooms (they make off with the strangest things sometimes), the garage, and the house again, the Redbox finally turned up. All that time, all that searching, and it was directly next to the entertainment center, on the floor under a throw pillow.

The messier our homes are, the harder it is to find something. In a more pristine environment, out-of-place items are much easier to locate, mainly because they're--well, out-of-place. We waste time searching here and there, moving clutter around to discover where our hidden item has chosen to make its new home.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out some systems to help me stay on top of it better, or at the very least, to not become so buried. It is difficult to housekeep for five other people while also mothering those other people. I can't pick up the soldiers spread out at Fort Living Room while also acting as commanding officer--stopping duels and redirecting unauthorized exercises; mess haul cook; and chaplain.

We need mercy. A helper provides that mercy. There is power in two.

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

My husband and I worked together this weekend. Together, one could oversee the troops while the other could focus fully on clearing the mine field. Together, progress was made.

If your husband is unwilling or unable to help, perhaps you could find a friend to swap kids with. One week, she takes your kids (on top of hers) for two hours while you clean like mad. The next week, you take hers while she gets some time to do what she'd like. I have tried this before on occasion, as well, and it is also helpful.

What strategies do you employ to get caught up and stay caught up?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Hour that Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal

Recently, I was sent a copy of The Hour that Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal by Les and Leslie Parrott, and Dream Dinners' founders Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna. The book's back cover states that "Researchers across the board are finding that an hour around the dinner table can really tether a family together and help you raise up healthier, happier kids." The book aims to show you "how to nourish and nurture your family through regular meal times," and it includes recipes (with photos), basic cooking tips, and conversation ideas to use at the table.

This book was much different from what I expected...but in a good way.

At first, I was thinking--after reading the first chapter--that the book was geared toward families who have never experienced sharing dinner together, those who want to make it happen, but--night after night--run a mini-cafeteria for the kids and other family members, who grab individual selections and eat on their own at a place of their own choosing. I really can't relate to that, since we make dinner together a priority in our family.

But that is where authors Les and Leslie Parrott were at with their two boys. Similarly, Stephanie and Tina were also finding it difficult, because of busy schedules, to manage dinner as a family each night. They didn't like it; they wanted to spend more time together. They set out to make it happen. Then they discovered the power of sharing evening meals together and wrote a book about it--this book.

So, although the first few chapters seemed redundant to me (since I already appreciate the value of togetherness at the table), the book quickly caught me off-guard. Who knew it would be a book about dinnertime that would cause me to have a major reassment of my parenting, and my relationship with one of my children, in particular?

It was shortly after the birth of my fourth child that I was reading this, so granted, I was sleep-deprived and extremely emotional. But in a chapter called "How to Listen So Your Kids Talk," I had an emotional break-down while reading what the authors' wrote about active listening and empathy (the Parrotts are relationship experts). I realized I had been too harsh with my son in far too many areas. I was jumping to my own conclusions about certain things and wasn't really listening to him, giving him a chance to explain--from his perspective--the "why" behind the "what."

A book that I thought I didn't need surprised me by showing me how much I truly did need what it had to say.

Beyond patching up the rough spots in my relationship with my son, the book also gave me some great ideas to make meal-time more enjoyable. A chapter called "Enjoying More Laughter" suggests ways to get everyone smiling, which makes dinner more fun, and thus, more anticipated as the hour that matters most each day. My boys really loved the jokes printed in the book (ideas can be found by doing an Internet search  for "clean kid's jokes," or something similar).

There are also practical tips on: setting a positive mood, curbing conflict at the table, teaching manners, instilling values, and starting a fix-and-freeze dinner club (although it is a relatively short chapter, so if you are looking for more in-depth information, I would guide you to books written exclusively on that topic). Each chapter ends with either a never-before-published Dream Dinners' recipe, and/or a family recipe.They look great. You'll find one below, along with two questions I asked Les and Leslie Parrott. 

Slow-Cooked BBQ Short Ribs
3 pounds boneless country-style beef short ribs
1/2 chopped onion
2 T. oil
In a heavy skillet over high heat, add oil, onions and ribs, browning ribs by cooking 2-3 minutes per side. Combine sauce ingredients in slow cooker:
1/4 c. vinegar, 2 T. sugar, 1/2 c. ketchup, 1/2 c. barbecue sauce, 3 T. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. dry mustard, 2 tsp. salt
Add browned ribs and onion to slow cooker. Cook 6-8 hours. If you are pinched for time and/or do not have all the sauce ingredients, you can combine raw short ribs and an entire bottle of barbecue sauce in the slow cooker and cook.
Taken from Hour that Matters Most by Les and Leslie Parrott with Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna. Copyright © 2011 by Les and Leslie Parrott and Dream Dinners. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

Since the focus of the book is getting your family to spend more time at dinner together, I wanted to ask Les and Leslie a few questions to help us moms with young children (and short attention spans).

Q: "In the debate between quality time and quantity time, when you encourage families to make spending an hour at the table together, are you intending for a literal hour? Or is it the principle of being together to share a meal and conversation (whether it's twenty minutes or an hour and twenty) the goal we're striving toward?"

Les and Leslie responded:
"The magic is not necessarily found in a literal 60 minutes. It’s the simply the pattern of having this routine that the family can count on. So no need to set a time or a start a stop watch. Focus instead on simply making that time together happen – and then being fully present for it."

Q: "In encouraging families to spend an hour (or more time than is currently being spent) over the table together, what tips could you share (beyond what is already in the book) to help families with small children and short attention spans get beyond the eat-and-run stage?"

Les and Leslie responded:
"The goal with small children at the dinner table is to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone else – including you. So don’t make this the place for power struggles. If you want your little one to eat something specific and you’re getting the toddle stiff arm, save the power struggle for later (when the rest of the family isn’t trying to enjoy their meal together). And to help you manage the short attention span of these squirts, have something at the [table] ready to entertain them when they grow tired of the table talk. You want to keep the time around the table as pleasant as possible for everyone – a safe place where people linger (not where they watch a small one dominate the time)."

So although reviewing the power of the family meal didn't surprise me, there is plenty in this book that did. While we already make dinner a priority in our home, this book renewed my excitement for just how valuable that togetherness time really is, for each of us. It encouraged me to think not only about the food I'll serve, but how to make the time fun for everyone--what jokes and table-talk topics can I bring to facilitate laughter and meaningful conversation? There are some great, free resources available at, including coaster topics that you can print off and laminate (or put contact paper over), table setting guides (for kids), and more.  

"Thriving families don't just happen. Merely going with the flow or taking what comes is fatal to the heart of a home. Healthy and happy families are the result of deliberate intention, determination, and practice."--The Hour that Matters Most: The Surprising Power of the Family Meal

So where are you at with family dinners? Do you make them a priority in your home? Would you like them to happen more frequently but are having trouble bringing everyone together? I encourage you to take a step, wherever you're at, to be more intentional about eating together--and enjoying it.

Disclosure: I was sent a promotional copy of this book and requested, but not required, to review it. I've reviewed it solely at my discretion, with no monetary compensation, because I truly enjoyed it and believe in its message.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Wyoming Wind

Compared to Chicago, we live in the real windy city. Where we sit in the Northern Rockies, the wind can get pretty gnarly. On this day last week, gusts were up to 75 miles per hour. Let's just say the kids were definitely not playing in their sandbox that day!
The wind gets worse in the winter, making those of us who live here in definite need of God's mercy to  remain cheerful while the wind blows through the winter months.

(linked to Wordless Wednesday)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where Do Smiles Come From & Where Do They Go?

Have you ever wondered how it is exactly that a baby learns to smile? A baby innately learns to mirror expressions by simply watching the faces that smile down upon him or her.  Yet, it is also somewhat of a complex skill. The actual physical act of smiling requires both the will (choosing to smile) and the act (moving the muscles to form a smile).

Isn't it neat that this is one of the first skills babies learn? I marvel at how fearfully and wonderfully they are made. In the face of a smiling infant, we see that smiling is an instinctive response to the joy and love one feels inside.

We coo over and smile madly at our newborn babies to the point it would seem silly if we were to look at anyone else that way and smile at them as long.

What happens to these smiles? I've smiled incessantly at all my newborns, showing them how to smile at first, and then smiling back at them when they show me those great big happy grins on their own.

But where do those smiles go? Chances are, you don't smile at your six-year old the same way you smiled at him when he was a six-week old. (I know I don't). Yet, this reflection caused me to realize, no matter what their age, they still need us to smile at them. Lots. The kind of smiles where you just sit and stare and smile at them and remind them how much joy they bring to your life.

So let's sit and smile today. Silly long smiles that teach our newborns to smile big, happy smiles; and the kind that cause our older children to stop and say, "Mom, why are you looking at me that way?"

Let the love you feel inside come out with a smile, just like a baby is learning to do.

(linked to We are That Family)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finding a Focus

Has your house ever been so messy and so chaotic that you feel like you're going to have a panic attack? Mine has. Everywhere I look, I feel overwhelmed. My head starts to spin. The dishes are backed up. The laundry's backed up. There are piles everywhere. Clothes. Toys. Books. Clutter. I feel like I'm living in chaos.
In moments like these, it's important to just get busy and do something. Anything. Take 10 minutes and load the dishwasher. Get the dishes out of the sink. Looks better. Now do something else for 10 minutes. Just keep working in short chunks, working around the kids, interruptions, tantrums, phone calls. The key is to just keep plugging away here and there, as you have time, using those minutes. You will soon notice progress. You will soon feel better.

Maybe it's not your house. Maybe for you, it's your schedule. Maybe you're so busy that you feel overwhelmed. Do you feel like you can't focus?
No matter what the source of our disclarity, just find something to focus on. Plug away at the task directly before you, without allowing yourself to panic about what else is also laying ahead. Focus on the minute at hand. Like the saying--"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
Tackle whatever need's tackling in manageable chunks. You may be amazed at how quickly the fog clears when we're putting a lot of productivity into a few minutes. (See this post for more on that).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Have A Button!

From time to time, I get asked if I have a "Moms In Need of Mercy" button that readers can put on their own blogs.  I haven't had one. But thanks to my tech (and graphic)-savy husband, I now do.

So if you'd like to share on your site that you like this site, you can grab the code for the button in my left side bar.
Enjoy your day!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Super Frugal, Semi-Fun Date Idea

By the time you budget for a sitter, there usually isn't a whole lot left over for the date. But we all know how important those date-nights with our hubbies are (of course, you could always have one at home. See some ideas on how to make this happen here). A friend told me their favorite date night idea is to head to Sam's Club and hang out on the furniture and talk. I love it! My husband, not so much. (But I think he could be convinced to give it a try).

To make this more fun, you could stop and pick up some coffees or other tasty beverages before heading over to your local big-box store. You could also eat an inexpensive dinner or snack in the cafe section. Share a pizza? A sundae?  Just don't tire your husband out by grabbing all the items on your regular grocery list. Remember, this is date night!

Who knew club memberships could have marriage benefits as well?

(linked to Frugal Friday and Works for Me Wednesday)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Under The Dark Cape

You know you're having a mom's-in-need-of-mercy moment when you're at the salon, trying to get a haircut, while also trying to manage your hungry, crying newborn baby. The "rock-the-baby-in-the-car-seat-with-a binky-in-her-mouth" trick worked long enough to get through the shampooing. Then she fell asleep for half of the haircut. But when she woke up, she was not a happy camper. The pacifier no longer pacified. The haircut was only half done. What to do?

Enter: the dark cape.

Sounds like the title for a new Batman movie, hugh?

I decided it was in everyone's best interest to take her out of her car seat, which I was holding sideways on my lap to keep falling hair off her, and slip her under the cape, where I could nurse her.

It's funny how the breastfeeding-in-public (even under a cape where no one can see) debate can affect one's judgements at the time. It was completely in my baby's best interest to feed her. It was in everyone else's, too.

Still, I hesitated. What will people think? Will someone be offended that I'm nursing my baby during a hair cut? (Someone had already made a comment, while my baby was crying, that she never wanted "a thing coming out of her," and that "it just wasn't worth it" after I said motherhood can be challenging at times but it's also a great joy.) Obviously, it wasn't the optimum situation with a supportive crowd. (For the record, I normally have no problem nursing under a blanket if I'm out and about somewhere, although I do aim to find a private place, such as a fitting room, if possible).

It wasn't supposed to happen like this. My baby was supposed to be home during this haircut, happily napping. If she woke up while I was still away, my husband or father (who's visiting right now) could feed her a bottle. But I ended up having to take her in for an emergency doctor's visit at the same time I was scheduled for a hair cut.

See, just before my hair appointment, I had called the doctor about what I thought was an infected eye due to a blocked tear duct. The area was a little puffy, and she had some discoloration under her eye. The doctor wanted to see her right away, since I guess the infection can become so serious that the baby needs to be admitted to the hospital for IV antibiotics. It wasn't exactly like I could say, "Well, I was just about out the door for my haircut, so could this wait 'til tomorrow?" Bad mom of the year award right there.

So we went to the doctor's office together and we went to the salon together. (They let me push the appointment back a little).

In hindsight, I wish I would have felt more confident to nurse my newborn sooner. It wasn't like I was whippin' it out for everyone to see, after all. She was under the dark cape.

As women, we so aim to please everyone. We worry what others will think. This sensitivity is polite, to some extent, but not so great when we compromise the needs of those most vulnerable--such as our newborn babies--to cater, instead, to the opinions and possible judgements of those with much larger stomachs and bigger brains.

This Coffee Talk Thursday, I'd love to talk about your experiences with breastfeeding in public. Do you feel comfortable nursing out and about (under a blanket or similar covering)? Have you ever had a negative experience with it? Let's chat! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Missing Toilet, Cleaner House

It is amazing how simple things are taken for granted until they're gone. Then you realize how much you appreciate them.

Take our toilet, for instance. Stinky thing. Wondered why, no matter how much I wiped it clean, it always smelled like pee.

Now I know.

Son sitting on it this weekend. Announced, "Something's wrong. Water's coming out of the back of the toilet." Handy man husband checked it out.  Discovered broken tank. Took toilet apart. Went to Menard's. Realized it would just be easier to install a new toilet. Bought new toilet. Came home.

Removed old toilet. Discovered old toilet installed incorrectly by previous owners. Leaked under toilet. Leaked. Leaked. Leaked. Ruined tiles. Removed tiles. Discovered rotted floor. Could not install new toilet as planned. Cleaned. Cleaned. Cleaned.

Travelled back to Menard's. Bought shop-vac. Cut out old floor. Vacuumed up rotten wood.  Thinking about new flooring options. Waiting for new toilet. Missing main floor toilet.

Not missing cleaning main-floor toilet. Boys learning about the importance of not missing, too.

Now for the moral of the story:
When doing a job, do it correctly, the first time. I know I wrote last week about not taking too long for routine chores. Dusting doesn't have to be perfect, just done. But when it matters (like installing a toilet), do it right. Or else, down the road, you'll pay the price for what seemed like a shortcut at the time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tips for Kid's Cups

At my house, it seems like a never ending story: the kids are thirsty, so they get a cup out of our cup-drawer (down where little hands can reach), fill it with water, take a drink, and leave their cup either on the counter or the table. Then they get thirsty again, take a new cup, get a drink of water, and put that cup somewhere (usually on the table or on the counter). It's as if the thought of reusing the same cup is foreign to them. By the end of the day, we've stacked up a bunch of cups on the kitchen counter.

Recently, I came across a great solution here:
  • Buy each child a reusable water bottle (you can find them at Wal-Mart, or wherever you shop) for around a dollar
  • Every day, fill it with water and place it on the table (this could be a child's chore)
  • The kids drink from their water bottle whenever they are thirsty--no more dirtying unnecessary cups
I thought this was a fabulous idea and just had to share it with you!

(Linked with Works for Me Wednesday)