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Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

 "He is not here, for He has risen," Matthew 28:6

I just love Holy Week. There have been so many great conversations with our kids, so many opportunities to reflect on the sacrifice of our Savior and the great hope we have in Him. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

We'll be making these.

And attending here.

Of course there's always a little bit of this action going on too...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Nighty Night Dance

Continuing on in the little series I'm stealing from my friend Ryan at The Swans are Nesting - this week we're talking about bed time routines. Last week it was all about bath time in case you missed it.

Here were the questions Ryan posed and answered in her post:

What's your bed time routine with your kids? Does it work for you? Do you read books? How many books? Does your child ask for 500 sips of water before bed? Do you lay down with them before leaving the room? Do you sneak out of their room? Do you enjoy the routine or loathe it?

Our bedtime routine today actually looks pretty similar to what it was 2 years ago, with the addition of 2 more children and about a 30 minute extension. 

We aim to eat dinner at 6:30 most nights and as soon as plates are in the sink we start the bedtime dance. Our goal is lights out somewhere around 7:00-7:30pm for Blue Eyes, and 7:30-8:00pm for Sweet B and Squirt.

Blue Eyes is at that glorious low-maintenance stage where he doesn't need a bottle and there's no point yet in reading a book. (At least in my mind.) We brush his teeth, change his diaper, zip up jammies, hand him his lovie and give him a quick snuggle before laying him in his crib. Bam. Boom. Done. It's awesome. Takes 10 minutes tops.

While Parent 1 is engaged with Blue Eyes, Parent 2 is tackling the toddlers. The Squirt chooses his PJs, puts his clothes in the dirty hamper, changes and brushes his teeth/pees all by himself now. He's been doing this for a while...probably because he got tired of waiting on us while we were working on Sweet B. 

So Parent 2 supervises Squirt while changing Sweet B's diaper, putting on her PJs and brushing her teeth. Yes - she's back in diapers. Let's don't talk about it. 

By the time Blue Eyes is counting sheep, the toddlers are prepped for bed and choosing the books they want to read. We're a ONE book family. When the kids liked board books we indulged and read several, but now they prefer these FOREVER LONG Disney or Dr. Seuss books, so we hold the line at one. If they pick a short book I like I'll read them another one too. I'm mature like that. 

Parent 1 reads to Sweet B in her room while Parent 2 reads to Squirt on the couch (Blue Eyes and he share a room). We try to switch off which parent reads to which toddler each night. 

After book time, each child has a very particular routine. I'm not sure what B Daddy is required to do after book time, but if I'm with Sweet B we head over to her crib, where she stands on the rail and hugs me while we sway back and forth like middle schoolers at a dance. Only instead of The Goo Goo Dolls the soundtrack is  Away in a Manger. Always Away in a Manger. Always. After that there is the Big Squeeze, the Smooch, the Eskimo and the Butterfly kiss before I am allowed to lower her into her crib with accompanying monkey and blanket. There's a request for more kisses and hugs and for Daddy to come give a kiss and hug. Then I scoot out the door and throw a Good Night Brit! over my shoulder. From book to bed it's usually less than 5 minutes, but it feels like 16 years. 

If I'm with Squirt, I carry him from the couch to his room with his little monkey over my right shoulder and big monkey over my left and lower him into bed before asking what song we should sing. It's usually Away in a Manger, Jesus Loves the Little Children or Hosanna. Apparently I make Sunday school songs sound good. After singing he'll usually tell me he can't go to bed because he doesn't feel good. I'll tell him it's a good thing sleeping always helps us feel better.  He'll tell me he's thirsty so I'll trek to the kitchen for a sippy cup. He'll drain it and tell me he can't go to bed if it's dark in his room. I'll promise to leave the door open and get up to leave. He'll tell me he wants me to come check on him in a few minutes. I'll say ok. He'll ask how many minutes. I'll say 10. He'll ask how long 10 minutes is. I'll say, not too long buddy...and high tail it outta there without a backward glance. Again, this is probably a 5 minute process but I swear I come out of there with new gray hairs.

I would love to say this is something I look forward to each day, having some one-on-one time with a child, but by 7:30 I'm on hour 12 of parenting duty and in all honesty I'm ready to close the book on one more day. 

What's your routine like? And the same question - love it or loathe it?! Can't wait to hear from YOU. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Keeping it Clean

My friend Ryan wrote a great post last week listing all the questions she has about other families' lives. (Well probably not ALL the questions...but a heck of a lot.) I often wonder along with her how other families manage all the day-to-day stuff. Is our family normal? Are we the lazy ones? Are we totally on top of things around here?

She's taking her questions and answering them a post at a time and I liked the I'm linking up with her and answering them as well. Pop on over to her blog to get another perspective and leave your own answers in the comments if you care to join us!

Today's topic: Bathroom Habits

Here are Ryan's questions: When do you shower and do your hair?  At night?  Every morning?  And if you shower at night how do you not have the dreaded bed head look every day?  And the little you give them a bath every night? Every other night?  Or do you shower with them say on the weekends?  On the days you don't bathe them, do you wipe them down with a wash cloth and soap?  How do you get the dirt out from under their nails on non-bath nights? 

Oh and a question of my own: who does the bathing? You or your spouse?

Remember this is a safe place - no judgment. Thanks.

I shower and do my hair on days I work-out. Typically Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. When we get home from the gym, Blue Eyes goes down for his nap and the other two munchkins play or watch a show while I do my business. Every now and then I'll shower at the gym, but this is always awkward for me, so I try to avoid it. When I was pregnant and not working out I could easily go for three days without washing my hair, but now that I wash it more often, it needs it more often and after the second day I'm in desperate need or I look homeless. Did you know that when you wash your hair you strip out its natural oils and prompt your scalp to produce more? So the more you wash your hair, the more you need to wash your hair. Make sense? I just discovered that about a year ago. You should try washing it less if you can. At first it's yucky and you have to get creative with hairstyles to not look homeless, but after a week or two of less-frequent washing, your scalp will adjust and produce less oil. Try it - I dare you.

As for the little ones - our goal is to bathe them every other day. On Sunday nights and Wednesday nights we have a sitter and they don't get baths then (although for $15/hr they probably should...) so we always try to get a bath in on Monday or Tuesday so they don't go four days without one. In the summertime they are outside all day, so they get baths pretty much every night and I get a glass of wine pretty much every night. Three kids in one tub = total chaos. 

They get a washcloth wipe down only if they desperately need it on a no-bath night and if their fingernails are dirty - it means they are too long and I cut them.  Short nails don't show dirt! 

Oh and who does bath duty? It used to be all B Daddy all the time. But he works pretty long hours and as we've added kids I've been doing it more. If B Daddy gets home early enough, it's all him. 

So now it's your turn to dish the dirt - how often do your kids REALLY get bathed? 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

5 lbs 5 wks: Week 2 Report

Sorry for the lack of posting this week - I have been sick since last weekend and now all three kids have picked up on whatever gross virus I've got.

In the course of my illness I've discovered two things about myself: 1. I like to medicate with food and 2. I'm not one of those people who get sick and lose weight. I think the two go hand in hand somehow.

In spite of these setbacks I've managed to work out a few times and was pretty pleased when I hopped on the scale this morning.

Starting Weight: 148.6
Current Weight: 146.6
Goal Weight: 143 (and change...)

I don't know why I fudged when I originally reported my weight at 148. My brutal honesty today probably has something to do with wanting to report a weight loss of 2lbs rather than only 1.4. It's a bit slower than my goal, but I think if I buckle down I can get to 143 (and change) by the second week of April.

Things that are working for me: protein loaded, low-calorie breakfasts. My go-to breakfast is an egg + egg white omelet with veggies or a bit of cheese on top. This comes in under 200 calories and keeps me happy until lunch. Everything else I eat for breakfast is usually closer to 400 calories and doesn't keep me as full.

Things that are not fun: this is actually work. In all my previous attempts to lose weight, I kind of just paid attention to calories a bit, amped up my work outs a bit and watched the weight fall away.  I went out for dinner three nights last week (a total anomaly) and was not pleased to see that the scale had not budged. It turns out that chips and salsa are not conducive to weight loss. I think it's something about being 30. I don't like it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Getting Up REAL Early

It's Monday morning and I'm not planning to post this til the end of the week at least, so I hope it's still relevant by then. PS I just had to type relevant three times before I got it right. More coffee please. 

I love getting up real early.

I don't love the getting out of bed part, or the dragging myself to the kitchen and making coffee part, or the warm-up routine part of Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred.

But I love everything that comes after that.

It's 7:22 and I am worked out, quieted down, showered up and caffineated.

At least today Daylight Savings Time has something to do with this as well. My kids would normally be up already, but they have been tricked by the sun into an extra few minutes of sleep it appears. Hallelujah.

Back in 2011 I posted about this getting up early thing and I fear I left little room for grace. There are so many times in a mom's life when getting up before the kids is just not happening. Off the top of my head: when you're pregnant, when you're nursing all night, when your kids are sick, when your kids are teething, when you are sick, etc. And to working moms who are due at the office at ungodly hours - please don't take this as one more guilt-trip - I'd be sleeping 'til the last second too.

But right now, none of those situations apply to me. And they haven't for a while. My usual routine involves setting my alarm for 6am and managing to get out of bed and to the kitchen by 6:15. That gives me 30-40 minutes (on a good day) to have a quiet time (prayer/Bible reading and reflection) before the first toddler toes come pounding down the hallway.

Today I got up with B Daddy at 5am so I could get in a work-out (I won't have a chance to get to the YMCA today and I'm doing the #5lbs5wks thing) and shower in addition to the usual. And crazily enough, I LOVED it. I joined him this early one morning last week and it too was heavenly. Update: I actually got up at 5:30 today (Friday) out of desire, no working out involved. Does that sound like crazy talk or are you with me?? If I get up at 5am, that gives me around TWO HOURS to myself before I'm expected to pour milk, change a diaper or entertain toddler questions. TWO HOURS. That's like - ridiculously indulgent.

Getting up this early means I can drink an entire cup of coffee while it's still hot. Coffee is very important to me. It also gives me a chance to think straight about what I want/need to do that day and prioritize my daily to-dos. Getting up around 6am really only allows me to get in my quiet time (my absolute minimum requirement for surviving 24 hours with a 3yr old, 2yr old and almost 1yr old) and even that is a bit rushed if I snooze til 6:15.

It's highly likely that other people don't need this much prep time to handle their days. I like to think that I am in the toughest stage of life I have ever faced right now. For example...

Things I like: doing things on my own schedule, control, in-depth adult conversation, order, gourmet food.

Things my day is full of: little people watching me shower, finding Legoes in the pantry, questions like, "Why does Ben have so many boogers?", multiple children crying at once, peanut butter & jelly

To me, going to bed earlier is completely worth the gained hour of almost guaranteed peace and quiet. I'm thinking of making the 5am wake up an at least once-a-week thing. Anyone with me or am I just a complete control freak?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why Do You Read? Follow Up

Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on the little survey I put on the blog a few weeks back. It turns out that not as many of you are family as I thought.  Also you all want to hear me talk politics and religion more often. Just kidding! I'll save that for when you come to dinner.

I was surprised to see that the deep stuff outweighed the mommy stuff and the house stuff, so I'll have to up the ante on that portion of the blog.

Thanks again for reading and for the feedback. It's nice to know that my words aren't bouncing around aimlessly in cyberspace.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Join the Chicken Club

Maybe you saw the pictures on Facebook - we just added 4 new pullets to our backyard flock (which had tragically dwindled to 1 solo hen). I know some of you are tempted by the idea of getting your own chickens, and Spring is a PERFECT time to do so. Here's a breakdown on the cost and time commitment from our (very limited) experience keeping chickens.


BIRDS - We purchased the original pair of hens (Hester and Charlotte) for $15 each through a fellow bird-lover on Craigslist. Alternatively you can buy day-old chicks for $1 apiece. They won't reach laying age until 4-6 months, but you will probably develop a close bond with your girls as you watch them grow up. Buying chicks intimidated me as it's a pretty high maintenance process to get them to the independent/outside stage (2 months old) Since buying the original girls, we've gotten all our new birds for free from various sources. 

COOP - We built a coop instead of purchasing one. Pre-built coops can range anywhere from $400 to well over $1000 and will definitely set you back on the whole break-even process. We built ours using scrap materials we had on hand, but still spent about $150 on supplies (chicken wire, cement blocks, plywood siding, a couple 2x4s, etc.) Our coop will easily house 6 hens. You can find blueprints to DIY your coop on many websites - but we just Googled around, found some good ideas to base ours off of and then B Daddy and my father-in-law tackled it. They're awesome like that. 

FOOD - We spend $13 each time we buy a 50lb bag of good quality chicken feed. I'd estimate it costs $5-$10/month to feed a few (2-3) chickens. You could easily reduce this cost by allowing your chickens to free range and scratch for their food. We aren't able to because of the hawks and coyotes in our area (you'd think we lived in the country or something). I collect our kitchen scraps (ends of carrots, tops of onions, eggshells, bread crusts) and supplement the chickens' feed with that when I can. 

You also need to provide clean water for your hens. We use a rain barrel to collect rainwater from our roof and fill their waterer up from that. Occasionally we'll to use the outside hose to fill it.

PINE SHAVINGS - Our coop floor is covered in a thick layer of pine shavings. We use the Deep Litter Method which keeps the coop warmer in the winter, requires less maintenance (see the time commitment section below) and provides us with awesome compost for our garden beds. A big bag of pine shavings costs about $8 and we only use a couple a year. 


FEEDING: We made "auto-feeders" from 5 gallon plastic buckets and plant saucers that save an enormous amount of time when it comes to daily care for the girls. We fill up the buckets, turn them over and generally don't have to re-fill them for two weeks. The water saucer we do clean up every few days as our chickens like to poop on top of the water bucket on occasion. If you invest up front in a nice waterer, you'll probably cut down significantly on your time here.

CLEANING: Once a week I'll pull out the nesting box we made, which is where the girls tend to poop, (they lay in a corner) and dump it in our compost bin.  We only "muck" out the coop a few times a year. Which means scooping out all the old pine shavings and piling new shavings in on the floor. Typically once a month I'll just add new pine shavings in on top of the old shavings. The coop NEVER SMELLS BAD. Either of these tasks takes me about 15 minutes tops. We have a compost bin right next to the coop and the dirty pine shavings go straight into it - ready for the garden. I think the compost bin is a great time-saver because you never have to haul the dirty shavings away and it composts down beautifully. 

EGG-GATHERING: Takes approximately 2 minutes each day. This is one of the kids' (and my) favorite things to do and the neighbor kiddos (and their parents I think) enjoy checking for eggs too.


Obviously the eggs are an immediate benefit of having laying hens. With 3 laying hens I was getting 2-3 eggs a day. We share the overage with friends and family and have incorporated a lot more egg-eating into our routine. Once the new arrivals start laying, I may offer up eggs for sale in the 'hood during the spring and summer when the girls are in over-drive.

Using the Deep Pile Method provides us with really nice compost for our garden. Instead of throwing kitchen scraps straight into a compost bin, giving them to the chickens basically speeds up the process a zillion times. What comes out of the chicken is pure gold for growing veggies. Even though my thumb is no where near green, I've worked the compost into the front bed for three years now and the soil there is much nicer compared to our other non-compost receiving beds.

I love that our kids connect eggs to animals and not just an aisle at the grocery store. Even though we don't have any plans to eat our pet chickens (at least not yet) Sweet B says "bok bok" when we serve chicken for dinner. It's probably going to scar her in some way.

I think watching the hens is pretty entertaining. They are like any social animal in that they all have different personalities and watching them interact is enjoyable. Our newest pullets have been handled a lot more than Hester and will come right up to us and let us carry them around. We all really enjoy watching them do their chicken-thang. 

I hope this was informative...we are still learning a lot about the chicken world and have a long way to go. But do send any questions you might have my way!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Meet the Author

I thought I'd take a time out from my usual fare of witty insights and pictures of my children to share a bit about myself. These things that are absolutely unimportant to your life today and yet precisely the kinds of things best friends know about each other. If you read my blog we're basically BFFs, so I trust you'll love me in spite of and perhaps because of a few of these things. 

I am a stickler for grammar. If you send me an email with a spelling error I will question your IQ. I can't help it. Top grammatical pet peeves are the misuse of its/it's and your/you're. I particularly hate it when I see billboards that say, "Open Sunday's." 

I talk too much. As far back as I can remember this has been a problem for me. I struggled through being a BIG liar and I think it was primarily because I ran out of true things to say.

I married up. I mean...clearly B Daddy did well for himself. But comparatively speaking, I think I did better.

I think I'm pretty good at everything I do. Don't judge. Once I discover I'm not good at something I generally drop it. This explains why motherhood has been so tricky for me.

I don't mind if our toilets have black rings around them, but even one dirty dish in the sink makes me anxious.

I love to read. And I love people who love to read. It's like finding a kindred spirit, even if they love Vince Flynn and you're more the Jane Austen type. Yesterday I bought some new books at the thrift store and I introduced B Daddy to each one last night like they were guests in the house. 

I like to talk about politics and religion.

I hate small talk. Unless I really love the people I'm small talking with and then I will small talk you under the table. But really I'd rather talk politics and religion.

I've always wished I were a musician. My musical skill set in no way qualifies me to perform publicly, but it doesn't stop me from wishing I was on stage.

I went to two elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools. Each time we moved, we moved in the middle of the school year. My parents had a theory about making friends before summer ...the jury is still out on whether or not theirs was a valid theory.

I have crooked pinkies. They are both so crooked people ask if they were broken and not set. Yup folks I had a freak accident where only my pinkies were injured. My GranStan has them too and now Blue Eyes. I love that.

My sister is my best friend. She's the yin to my yang, the snap to my crackle, the cheese in my macaroni. She is the worst shopper in the world and I still love her.  

I don't know what people are talking about when they say asparagus makes your pee smell. I wonder if it's because my pee always smells weird.

I LOVE to dance. One time in college I was dancing at a tailgate (totally normal) and a lady standing around me said, "You'd never believe she's as sober as a judge." That remains one of my all-time favorite compliments to this day. 

I have never had a favorite color. I was always uncomfortable when people would ask that when I was little. Now I find myself asking my kids. Jerk.

But enough about to share any inane tidbits with us about yourself? 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

5 lbs, 5 weeks: Round #2

It's that time of year again. Swimsuits are on the racks and I know shorts weather is rapidly approaching. Last year I was 36 weeks pregnant today and decidedly NOT looking forward to spring weather and bathing suit season. This year it's on.

I'm starting a self-imposed challenge to lose the last 5 pounds in the next 5 weeks.  Yesterday at the gym I impulsively jumped on the scale - something I'm usually far too wise to do. The numbers weren't exactly surprising, but they confirmed I need to pay some attention to this department if I'm planning to rock some bandage minis or short shorts this season.

Current weight: 148
Goal weight: 143 

If those numbers sound strangely familiar, it's because it's almost exactly where I was the last time I did this challenge. Funny huh.

I'm using My Fitness Pal to track my calories and work outs just like last time as well. It's a really awesome (free) program. I'll also be taking pics of my super healthy (or not so healthy) food choices each day and sharing them via instagram. I would love you to follow along there if you don't already.

My sister has agreed to hold me accountable (so we can all blame her if this is a total fail) and of course y'all are all welcome to ask how it's going and bring me yummy healthy things to eat. Here's to short shorts and toned tummies!

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