Thursday, June 30, 2011

Busy, Busy Thursday! (And a Long Weekend)

My To Do list for the day is three post it notes long.  Written in three columns each with tiny handwriting.  I have a lot to do today!  We begin with the last swimming lesson until August, then we're running errands, going out for lunch and coming home to make something fun for my mom's birthday.  Of course we have all our usual responsibilities, too, plus getting organized to visit my mom for her big day.   So, I'm getting off line in so I can start crossing some things of my big list.

Oh, and because we're traveling for Independence Day, I'm taking a long weekend break from blogging.  This will be the last post of this week, and I'll be back on Wednesday. 

Have a fun and safe holiday!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Well, There Went That Channel.

I like having some background noise as I go about my day, and it's usually the television.  I'm a news junkie, so I usually tune in to Fox News.  There's actually a small block of channels I switch between that includes TLC, Animal Planet, The Food Network and HGTV.  Fox is my default channel because I can follow what they're talking about without actually stopping to watch.  I used to have TLC on all the time, until one day I walked in and saw a four year old Miss E watching a breast augmentation surgery.  After that I tried to be more aware of my background noise.  Slowly but surely I had to eliminate TLC, Animal Planet and even The History Channel unless I was really able to pay attention.  They all had shows that, while not objectionable by themselves, I didn't want the kids randomly watching.  News is usually a safe bet because the kids are less likely to stop and watch. Also, the topics change quickly so they're not marinating in something I don't want them watching anyway.  Then came the Casey Anthony trial.  I swear Fox News has carried every disgusting second of it and invited guests to screech about every lurid detail and allegation.  It's on constantly in the mornings.  I try to change channels when the trial comes up - I mean, I really don't want my kids hearing about how this pretty young woman apparently researched doing horrid things to her toddler, then carried them out and hid the body.  I understand why it's a newsworthy story, but the Fox coverage is just over the top.  They repeat and repeat the most awful parts till I can't stand to see anymore myself.  I've still caught Miss E raptly watching this sad story when I wasn't aware it was on.  I don't want her steeping herself in the worst of humanity  so I am declaring Fox News on my do not watch list unless I'm right there, aware of the conversation. 

Are there television shows (or entire channels) you're careful about in your homes?  I don't mean things like MTV or Comedy Central.  They're obviously not family friendly.  But who knew The History Channel would inspire nightmares?  (It did in Miss E.  She watched a show about WWII airplanes with me once and hand nightmares for several weeks.)  What do you avoid when your kids are around?  Is there a channel I'm overlooking that you find generally safe to just leave on a background noise?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Time to Maintain Those School Skills

June is almost over.  We took almost three weeks to just relax and play and enjoy being out of school, but now it's time make sure the girls aren't total vegetables when they go back to school.  Mostly that's going to mean I just make sure we dedicate some time to reading every day, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep the kids guessing and learning at the same time.  To get the ball rolling, I'm simply going to break out the play doh today to strengthen Mr. A's small motor skills and get the girls creating.  Then we're going to have a little reading session.  I'll read a book to Mr. A - of course the girls are likely to sit down and listen, too, since they can't resist a good picture book - then while he's resting I'll have both girls read to me.  It's really easy to remember that an emerging reader like Miss M should read aloud every day, but many people forget that older readers benefit from it, too.  At school, some reading tests require reading to the teacher, but kids often stop reading aloud as they become more independent. Then they perform poorly on oral reading tests simply because they are out of practice.  That's one reason it's good for older kids to read aloud.  I can also check her pronunciation and comprehension in ways I can't possibly if she's reading silently.  It's a simple thing to have Miss E read to me (or Miss M or Mr. A), but it could make a big difference in her reading success. 

I haven't figured everything out yet, but I'm working on a little reward program for their reading.  Both girls are just dying to have the new Leapster LeapPad but on their tiny weekly allowance it's going to take them years to save up enough to buy their own.  I'm thinking of assigning a monetary bonus to their reading minutes so they can earn a LeapPad faster, but I haven't made a decision on that yet.  So, for now I've created a simple reading calendar for both girls to track their minutes.  When I figure out a reward program I'll post it here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Regular Food Please: Meal Planning Just Got Easier

This is not my kid, but this is the reaction our dinners get many nights.
Miss E is the second pickiest eater I've ever met.  The pickiest is her father.  He generally has the good manners to at least pretend not to hate whatever he doesn't like.  The last few months have been hard on him because in an effort to make dinner prep more interesting for me, I've been experimenting with new recipes several nights a week.  I thought that was doubly good because it was exposing my picky eaters to new foods as well.  However, the spouse has declared that he's ready for less variety and more "old standby" meals for dinner.  That's a drag for me because I don't love cooking and trying something new fairly often makes dinner prep more interesting, but I do see where he's coming from.  Some of the unfamiliar recipes I've chosen have been really good, but some have been dreadful.  It would be good to know what we're getting in to more often.  I asked if the spouse had any dinner requests and he said "regular food."  That means super simple and meat & potatoes type meals.  Well, okay.  That's easy enough.  Sadly for him, there were some recipes from last week that I don't think he was jazzed about but for a variety of reasons we didn't make them.  They had rather specific ingredients that I don't want to go to waste, so they are back on this week's menu.  I tried to choose simpler, more familiar fare for the rest of the week though.  Hopefully everyone will be happy at least most nights.  (Oh and this week's meal plan is here.)

Now, I'm off to swimming lessons.  Have an awesome Monday!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stay At Home Mom Plans Gets a Facelift

If you've been to this blog before today, you can see I've made some major changes.  The one that makes me happiest is the addition of follow buttons in the upper right of the blog.  I have to give a huge THANK YOU!!! to Dan Pearce from Will Work 4 Followers (also known as Single Dad Laughing).  He provided the basic template and instructions for installing them.  This glorious service allowed me to clean up the right side of my blog, which had been driving me crazy. These little buttons make me very smiley inside.  Thanks again Dan!

I moved the links that used to be listed on the main page to their own little page so I can add more as we find new ones.  You'll find their new page labeled Links We Love at the top of the blog.

I also updated the About Me description at the bottom of the page.  It's now labeled "Who Am I?" and it's a little more relevant to this blog.

Finally, I made a major change to the overall look of the blog.  I changed the layout and background and all of the colors.

What do you think?  Love it?  Hate it?  I welcome your comments.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Phew! It's Been a Long Week but It's Going to be an Awesome Weekend!

Photo Credit
Between swimming lessons, errands and vacation bible school, we feel like we've been running non-stop all week.  It's a relief to have a three day break from swimming lessons.  I think we'll take it easy this morning and just putter around the house and yard.  In fact, I think I see an at home car wash in our future.  The kids all love washing my truck,  but it totally makes Mr. A's day when he gets his own little scrub brush and can go from one end to the other, cleaning and examining the whole truck.  I think after sitting in his stroller every morning while the girls swim, he deserves to do something he loves.

This afternoon we're going to the last day of vacation bible school, which will include a parent program and ice cream party.  Then, we'll have no shortage of fun activities for the weekend.  Our city is hosting a huge independent music festival which includes a small art festival and all sorts of fun activities.  We'll spend some time there, and of course the movie we've been looking forward to all year
opens today!!!  Yay!  It's getting very unPixar-like rotten reviews, but even if the movie stinks, Mr. A is going to go so nuts over it the price of admission will be money well spent.

Here's to an awesome, fun filled weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Free E-books! All the Summer Crafts You Could Ever Make

Like virtually every stay at home mom I know, I pinch pennies where I can.  I follow several blogs that focus on great sales and even free stuff.  Yesterday two of them featured links to two free e-books about summer crafts for kids.  The first is 4th of July Crafts and Recipes.  So far my favorite idea is a Stars and Stripes planter.  I'm generally a fan of painting terra-cotta pots to make them more fun (My kids painted big pots last year and they could not wait to replant them again this year.  Having their own special space really got them excited about gardening.) I think this is a super cute and inexpensive idea.  I'm considering making a few of these for my mom's birthday, which is July 4th.  It would be simple for me to spray the pots navy blue w/ a white band then let the kids paint on the stripes and use stamps or stencils to make the stars.  Yeah, I'm loving this idea more and more.

The second book is Summer Crafts for Kids.  These crafts are generally more little kid friendly than the 4th of July book but that doesn't mean they aren't all adorable.  I'm pretty sure the first one we'll make is the recycled bottle Cat Bank.  Miss M is 100% NUTS about cats. She rarely stops pretending to be a cat, her favorite toys are all cat themed and I'm sure we own every t-shirt featuring a cat she's ever seen.  This cute little kitty will no doubt join her collection very soon.

I can't guarantee you'll find something you'll love in these books, but if you don't, just delete them!  No harm, no foul.  I love free stuff.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sometimes You Have to Follow Their Lead

Yesterday was a success - sort of.  Mr. A more than happily grabbed his pirate book How I Became a Pirate and settled in for a good read.  In fact, we had to read it twice, which I was more than happy to do.  He's totally engaged with this book.  He points out the shark eating the soccer ball every time, and loves the pirate cat.  After the second reading I asked if he wanted to color a picture of a pirate.  Mr. A yelled "YES!!!" I thought I was really on a roll.  I broke out the coloring pages and crayons.  It turned out he only wanted to watch me color, not actually handle the crayons himself.  I got exactly three black lines on a jolly roger before he was ready to move on.  We went outside to play instead.  That was alright because even though he didn't want to color, we got to read and have just-the-two-of-us time.  Those were my big goals for the day anyway.

Today, we're going to do more of the same.  I filled the wading pool this morning and I'm thinking the little guy will have more fun in it when his sisters aren't splashing him to death.  We'll break out our large collection of balls again, and have fun floating them and throwing them and whatever he wants.  And since I am still encouraging his interest in books, just before it's time to head in for nap time I'll teach him to jump like a frog.  We'll jump and ribbit till he's tired of that, then get ready for a rest.  If I'm lucky he'll be excited about this froggy book The Icky Sticky Frogbefore he goes to sleep.

Here's to growing a reader and enjoying our time together!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"The Best Book I've EVER Seen!" Apparently, Mr. A Likes Pirates.

My girls are readers.  From day one both of them would happily drop whatever they were doing to sit with me and read a book.  Since I'm a teacher and complete book fiend myself, I have was always been in heaven when they brought me a favorite book and asked me to read.

Mr. A was different.  Oh, he'll snuggle up for a bedtime story, but generally he's pretty uninterested in reading.  I'll invite him to pick out a book and he'll say "Oh, no thanks" and run off to play with his trucks.  Sometimes he'll choose a book about tractorsJohn Deere: Big Book of Tractors but only want to quickly flip through the pages, touching all the pictures, and then he'll run away again.  I know boy's brains are different.  Boys are less language based and more action driven than girls.  Yeah, yeah, everyone knows that.  I can't help but be a little disappointed when he refuses even a silly Sandra Boynton book.  It's the active boy stereotype come to life. 

I have seen some positive changes recently.  He's started pulling his books out and looking at them when he's supposed to be napping.  Last week he handed me this bookHow I Became a Pirate and, in his sweet little sing song voice asked "Will you read this to me?"  Of course we stopped right there and read it.  He asked me to read it again.  And again.  I asked him if he liked the book and he yelled "IT'S THE BEST BOOK I'VE EVER SEEN!!!"  I was completely thrilled!  I mean, there have been books he's requested night after night (Snuggle BunniesLlama Llama Mad at Mama), but he's never been completely, jumping up and down excited over one before.  He's dropped whatever he's doing every day since when I suggest reading about pirates.

Because the girls will be at Vacation Bible School this week, Mr. A and I get to do things that revolve around him.  It seems like the perfect time to boost reading and coloring skills.

Printable Link
We'll start by reading his pirate book, and I found a cute little counting rhyme about pirates. (He's going to love it!)  Then, I found a P is for Pirate coloring page.  Mr. A has also differed from his sisters in the coloring/drawing department.  At this age they were both drawing complete figures and coloring rather than scribbling.  Not my boy.  Frankly, I was thrilled that he picked up some markers and scribbled a little bit on a Father's Day card.  It's obvious he needs some encouragement on that front, too, so I printed another coloring page and with any luck I'll get more than a few scribbles on them both.
Printable Link

If you have a little pirate fan, we also recommend these books.

Roger, the Jolly Pirate
Tough Boris

And of course,  DLTK-kids  had pages of pirate themed activites for all ages.
And I have to include Disney's Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  There are fun games about them here.

Yo Ho Let's Go!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Meal Plan Ready to Go!

Our lazy days of summer are over.  Well, at least for this week.  The girls start swimming lessons today, and they are also going to vacation bible school every afternoon.  That means no more lounging in our jammies till eleven o'clock, but the trade off is that Mr. A and I will have quiet afternoons all week.  I have a few special, Mr. A centered activities in mind for this time (which I'll probably write about tomorrow), but today he and I are going grocery shopping.  With any luck we will be able to run the whole week's worth of errands today, and spend the rest of our afternoons enjoying some our time together.  

That's our plan for today!  Also, my meal plan is ready.  Check it out here!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fun Father's Day Secrets (And Lots of Fun Crafting Ideas!)

Today is the day we're working on Father's Day projects!  The kids are all very excited because they love crafting in general, and they especially love making presents for their daddy.  Of course, my spouse reads this blog so I won't be posting exactly what we're doing for him, but I found so many great ideas around the web that I thought it would be fun to post a few of them here.

I'll start with a project I loved from Shutterfly's community blog.  It's just a simple paper weight, but I believe all kids love play dough and rocks so it's kind of a perfect craft!  The link above will take you to the Shutterfly blog, which is chock full of fun ideas.  However, I want to specifically point you to the writer's own craft blog for the instructions. I love her projects and would like to give her some blogger love.  So, go check out Crafts By Amanda.  You'll find the recipe for the dough, instructions for baking it rock hard and lots of other fun stuff I'm sure. 

Amazing Moms has a fun idea for personalizing everything Dad needs for a great Father's Day BBQ.  I don't know about yours, but my spouse doesn't wear an apron when he grills.  The hot pads would be handy though, and everything is cute enough that even if he didn't use them they would be nice keepsakes.  Follow the link for these instructions, and explore the site for many more fun plans!

Photo Credit   
A pop up story book about Dad is such a great idea I really wish I'd found it sooner.  I immediately got some great ideas for stories I could help the kids write and the things we could do to illustrate it.  Sadly, everything I thought of would take multiple work sessions and possibly the collection of photos/materials that I couldn't possibly come up with before Father's Day.  I am definitely keeping it in mind though.  This one could even be a fun Christmas present.  e-How has easy instructions here.  Or, click the photo credit link under the picture for a site full of great bookmaking tutorials.

Finally, since my spouse is a contractor and many of his hobbies involve building things, I really love this idea for monogrammed tools.  I wouldn't expect him to actually use these tools - he has his favorite, professional grade hammers and such that he never deviates from - but these could be a cute reminder of his little helpers every time he opened his tool box.  I'm even thinking up fun ways these could be mounted or framed for display in his shop.  Again, this idea could also be a fun gift for other occasions. 

I think these are my favorite projects, but there are so, so many out there it's impossible to not find something perfect for your family.  All of the sites I linked to above had tons of other ideas so check them out, and have fun showing Dad some love this weekend!

(I'd love to see what you all did for the special guys in your lives!  If you'd like to link to your own blogs or favorite ideas in the comments, please do!  I love comments!)

Here are a few more Father's Day related links you may like.
  • DLTK  A clearing house of Father's Day printables, crafts, recipes, and other assorted Father's Day info and links. 
  • Disney's Family Fun  My Go To website when I need a great idea.
  • Kaboose  This one is featured above (monogrammed tools) but had so many cool projects I decided to put the direct link here.
  • Disney Family Another Disney site stuffed with activities

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aren't You a Little Young for That?

I live in a very safe neighborhood. That said, I'm the type of mom won't let my kids play in the front yard unless I'm able to keep an eye on them.  When my girls play with the neighbor girls (the oldest of whom is 11) I know the parents are all keeping watch.  We try not to be helicopter moms, but we're aware that the world is crazy and just because we live on a safe street in a good neighborhood doesn't mean we're comfortable just letting our kids roam.  This is four households who don't let the kids play unsupervised where strangers have access.  It's nice to live on such a protective street. 

Yesterday, I saw something that disturbed me a little. A girl Miss E's age, who lives about a quarter of a mile away, was walked past our house with another little girl whom I know to be a year younger.  That's an eight year old and a seven year old, walking fairly far from home, by themselves.  They were carrying pool toys and towels, so they were obviously heading for the new city pool which is very nearby.  It's entirely possible they were meeting up with responsible adults at the pool, but it really drove me nuts thinking about kids that young not only walking alone, but heading for the pool!  This pool has enough lifeguards that I allow Miss E to swim with her friends without keeping her under my nose at all times, but I would never, ever just allow her to be at there with out a grown up.  Geeze, I wouldn't even let her go to the bathroom there by herself!  And don't even get me started on seeing such small girls walking unaccompanied.  Yes, this is a nice neighborhood in a quiet little town but in yesterday's paper alone there were two stories about child predators and attempted abductions are reported a few times a year.  I'm trying not to judge - I know the older girls mother.  She's a splendid person and an excellent mother.  She and I just see these things differently, obviously.  I still wanted to rush out and make sure they at least got to the pool safely. 

This all brings me to wonder at what point I WILL feel comfortable giving my kids this kind of freedom.  Geeze, it was wrench to let Miss E ride the school bus every day and she has four older neighbor friends who watch out for her.  At what point do I let her ride her bike to a park with a friend, or play at someone's house where I don't personally know the parents?  Urgh...  I don't even want to think about it.  Parenting is hard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Best Grocery Shopping EVER!

Okay, I have to brag about yesterday's trip to the grocery store.  As I mentioned yesterday, my kids are usually pretty good to shop with.  Oh, they like to stop and goggle in amazement at products that are mundane to me and I have to prod them to keep walking.  They always ask for 10,000,000 things we're just not going to buy.  But they usually don't have fits or fights.  They love to help find things and listen when I need them to.  Aside from slowing me down, they're no trouble.  Yesterday, however, was a fabulous day even for them.

Miss M wouldn't make a crazy face for me today, so Miss E filled in.
First, I have to put another plug in for Food on the Table.  The shopping list I printed there was organized perfectly by section of my store.  I went smoothly from one end to the other gathering all the things on my list.  I only had to back track once and that was for a last minute item I'd added to the list myself.  (And, because I bought so many sale items I saved 17%!!!)  So, that was glorious.  The kids, however, were beyond glorious.  They were so cheerful and helpful I could scarcely believe they were mine, especially since we were shopping right before lunch which is a dangerous time for Miss M.  (She's very sensitive to hunger.)  Miss E is big enough that she could read the list and track down items and Miss M stayed right next to the cart where I asked her to - I consider it a minor miracle that I only had to ask her once to stay put.  Mr A is getting new molars and they must have bothered him as we were checking out because he started to whine LOUDLY.  Miss M made crazy faces for him, which made him laugh.  By the time we were finished the checker was laughing along with him and complimented me on my wonderful kids.  Oh, and we managed to buy 74 items 35 minutes.  That has to be some sort of record for someone shopping with three kids.  Yes, it was an excellent trip to the store.

Today, I want to do something with the kids to let them know I appreciate them.  We have three nice playgrounds within walking distance but I am pretty good at finding excuses not to enjoy them - after all, our own back yard is perfect for playing AND I can work on my own projects while they play if we're at home.  I think I'll surprise them this morning by suggesting we go out to a park.  It's been a while since we've been to a playground so they'll love it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Meal Plan (and Shopping List) Complete!

Today, I learned something new about the site I was so happy to find last week, Food on the Table.  If you have a free account you can only add three entrees to your meal plan.  That was kind of a drag, but easy enough to work around.  Turns out three entrees was enough for this week, but if I'd wanted more, it would be easy enough to build a menu, email or print the recipes and shopping list then build a new menu with the additional meals and repeat with the printing/emailing.  The whole thing wouldn't be elegant or concise, but it's still free, which I always love.

Anyway, this week's Meal Plan is complete and you can see it here.  I did use Food on the Table to build my shopping list for the recipes I chose from there, and I love that it tells me I'll save $31.51 by shopping through the ad.  Of course, the ad changes tomorrow so we are grocery shopping this morning.  With three kids in tow.  Oh.  Boy.  Can you hear my excitement?  Actually, shopping with my kids could be worse.  They don't have fits, they listen when I ask them to do something and they are eager to be helpful.  The only drawback is that shopping with them takes at least twice as long.  Sometimes it just kills me when I see what could have been a 30 minute grocery run takes over an hour.  But, cest la vie.  Such is life with kids.

My back yard on Sunday: tree trimming, fire and blanket forts.
After grocery shopping, we're going to spend time in the yard.  We spent the weekend trimming trees, planing new shrubs and flowers and generally loving the warm weather.  The kids spent all day Sunday building forts and playing in a wading pool before we built a little fire for toasting marshmallows.  I'm guessing the kids will do much of the same today while I finish planting the garden.  It's shaping up to be a beautiful day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

I Think We Should Stop Eating Dinner

We didn't eat dinner last night.  Okay, we ate some healthy food and you could even call it a light meal, but I normally cook our biggest feast of the day for dinner.  Last night we had watermelon and yogurt and it was quite refreshing.

I've come to hate having a big meal at night because I, for one, don't sleep as well after eating so much.  I hate it because I don't like spending the hours in the afternoon when we're all ready to chill out and wind down before bed cooking and then cleaning up.  This is something I've been mulling over for some time, but I haven't come up with the perfect solution.  I could move "dinner" to lunch time, but that is less than ideal for many reasons.  I could try harder to have dinner earlier in the afternoon so we aren't going to sleep with  full stomachs, but I've tried that before and it's really hard, especially during the school year.

Right now I think the solution may be planning fewer "big" meals and more "light" meals.  It's not the way my mom ran her house, but I've decided that especially in the summer time there is nothing in the world wrong with actually planning on cheese sandwiches and fresh fruit for dinner.  This week's meal plan will be my experiment.  I'm shooting for three heavier, probably meat based dinners and four lighter, possibly even raw foods nights.  I'm going to be spending some real time today playing with a site I wrote about last week hoping for some good ideas (that will also help save some grocery dollars).  This venture comes with one big potential bonus - my girls usually just eat things like a piece of fruit and some cottage cheese for dinner anyway because they don't like foods like pork chops or baked potatoes.  With this plan, they'll hopefully eat what is planned instead of having to pull out something additional for them.

I'll post again when I have this week's meal plan all figured out.  And of course, if anyone has suggestions for simple meals, please post them in the comments!  I'm always looking for tried and true ideas!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Second Verse, Same as the First.

Yesterday didn't happen exactly the way I had planned.  Turns out, we wound up going swimming with friends and then having them over for dinner.  So, the messy house that we were supposed to finish picking up yesterday is now messier than ever.  That's okay though.  We had a great time with our friends, and we can always clean the house up today.  Of course we can also make the cat toys today, as well.  I think we're going to take it easy this morning though.  The kids are still pretty tired after swimming and playing so hard, and then staying up late. 

Here's to a mellow Friday, and starting the weekend with a neat house!  See you on Monday!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Disney, You Are My Friend (And, We're Making Cat Toys Today!)

Mornings are hard on me.  Miss M often wakes before she's really had enough sleep and when she's awake she's raring to go, rested or not.  I am rarely raring to go upon waking.  I need a little time to myself.  Therefore, Disney is my friend.  Some days I simply flip the TV on to Disney Jr.   Other days, like today, I turn on a movie and Disney gives me time to turn my brain on.  Today's movie is Miss M's absolute favorite, The AristocatsThe Aristocats (Special Edition).  And when I say favorite, I mean she could watch this movie all day, every day.  She's generally obsessed with cats anyway and everything from the visuals to the music in the movie appeals to  her.  (She even asked if we could buy the soundtrackSongs From The Aristocats, which we naturally did.  She immediately figured out how to find it on the old iPod I let her use.)  Because she loves the movie so much I use it as a motivator when I really need her to do something - like leave me alone while I wake up.

All that lead me to this.  We didn't get all of yesterday's clean up finished even though we all worked hard.  Today, I'm going to have to motivate them with an actual reward for finishing the job.  My favorite rewards are activities we can do together.  With The Aristocats playing in the background, I was inspired to find something with a feline theme.  I found this cute idea for making cat toys.  If you click the link you'll see a nice selection of cat crafts ideas so it's entirely possible we will end up doing several fun kitty type things today!

More fun links:  Aristocat's coloring pages
                           Great music from classic Disney movies:
Disney Jazz Volume I: Everybody Wants To Be A Cat

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Whoa! What Happened Here?

Part of the playroom.  Wow...
I am not a clean freak.  I am frequently heard saying "that's good enough for now".  In fact, you're more likely to catch me in a cluttered house than not.  Nevertheless, I do have limits on how much mess is acceptable and yesterday we hit those limits.  The girls had friends over for a few hours and when they left we couldn't see the floors in large swaths of the house. 

The other half of the playroom.  Even more Wow.

 It looks like we'll be spending at least a big part of our day correcting this problem.  It's such a disaster I know the kids are going to balk at even starting to clean up, so I'll have to stay with them to keep things rolling smoothly.  It's really amazing how much better their attitude about cleaning is when I'm there with them, even if all I'm doing is bossing them around. 

I'll also employ one of my favorite strategies for breaking a big job like this into less intimidating pieces. 
The girls room.  Wow, wow, wow.  
Even my little gym room wasn't immune to the mess.

I like to fill medium size plastic tubs with things they need to put away.  Each child gets a tub and when they start to look fatigued, it's easy to tell them "just finish what's in the tub and then you can take a break".  That helps them see the light at the end of the tunnel and power through to a little rest time.  While they're resting, I refill the tub so I'm ready to crack the whip again. 

Another little trick I know I'll use today is threatening them with the vacuum.  Miss E is bad about leaving Barbie shoes and accessories on the floor after she's cleaned up the bigger stuff.  Miss M leaves chunks of moon dough under the craft table.  But if I tell them I'm vacuuming they're much better about picking everything up.  The tiniest beads suddenly find a proper home when they know the vacuum is coming. 

Between my participation, breaking everything up into smaller jobs and holding the vacuum over their heads (figuratively, of course!) I hope to reclaim my floor space with maximum help from my little mess makers.  That's the plan anyway. 

Here's to a fabulous Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Meal Plan & Sword Fighting!

It's a 100% GORGEOUS morning at my house, so this post is going to be very short and sweet!  First, I actually completed a meal plan for the week!  Yay me!  Second, Miss E really wants to have a Wii tournament today, but I told her we have to get a huge list of things to finish first.  I'm going to start with the yard work, hoping I can finish it before the wind picks up.  (I swear the ten o'clock hour flips the switch on a giant wind machine.  I'm sure we haven't had a truly calm day in all my 19 years in this town.)  Then I'll move indoors where the kids and I will hopefully whip everything into shape in no time at all.  Miss E is so excited to teach me how to sword fight I'm sure I'll have at least one great helper! 

So, those are my plans for today!  Here's to a beautiful, productive day!

10:15 AM update

I had a request for my cousin Dahlene's Pink Salad recipe, so here it is!