Friday, July 29, 2011

I Can't Believe I Forgot!

Miss E made everyone breakfast.
In yesterday's post I made a list of fun things we could do in the mornings to add a little fun to our remaining summer days.  I forgot one of the kid's favorite things - a play date!  We've been meaning to have friends over all summer, but with the exception of the neighbor kids we haven't actually set anything up.  Both girls have been asking when their friends could play, so I decided to get off my duff and invite someone over.  Fortunately, one of my friends is very understanding about my general flakiness and brought her little boy to play with little advance notice.  Mr. J is Miss M's age and they are like two peas in a pod.   Miss E is excited to have him here, too, because she likes being the big kid in the crowd.  They should have a great time today. 

Now that I think about it, it's really not that surprising that I didn't think to include play dates.  When I was a kid I lived on a farm that was 20 minutes from anywhere.  There was only one other girl my age nearby, and even she lived too far away to simply go to each other's houses whenever we liked.  I grew up playing with my sister and alone.  It's no wonder playing with a friend isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of summer fun.

I want my kids to have good friends though, and stronger social skills than I have.  I spent so much time alone, it was sometimes hard for me to know what to do in a group.  Plus, we don't live 20 minutes from anywhere.  Most of the girl's friends are less than 10 minutes away.  As they get older I know how important their friends will be - friends are generally more influential than parents in the teen years.  I want their bonds to be strong and I want to know their friends myself.  Right now I can have a lot of influence over their friendships because I have the power to approve play dates.  I need to exercise that by actually setting some up.  I hereby vow to invite more friends over for my kids sake now, and in the future. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's Morning! Let's Have Fun!

When school let out for summer vacation we took a three week break.  We made a point of laying around and enjoying having nothing to do.  July was a crazy month full of tumbling and swimming lessons and dance camp.  Now July is all but over and we're all but exhausted.  I am purposefully delaying any more structured activities so the kids have some down time before school starts in *yikes!* 21 days.

Even though I don't want more classes or lessons,  I do want to enjoy the last days of summer.  We had enough just laying around in June.  I've decided to try planning fun activities we can do in the mornings before every one feels hot and lazy.  We should be able to squeeze more fun out of our school break, yet we're not running around trying to be on time for more classes.  Also, the kids can still have the afternoons to be bored - which can be very good for kids in the right doses.

Here's a list of the ideas I've come up with so far.  These are mostly things we haven't done yet this summer.
  • walk the dogs on a different walking path each week
  • nature hikes - gather interesting stuff for crafts
  • visit playgrounds we haven't been to yet this summer
  • visit the library (We haven't been once this summer!)
  • go to the pool just for fun
  • picnic at the lake
  • photography session (I like to go someplace pretty and make the kids model.  I also give them their own cameras so they can be photographers in their own right.)
  • visit our favorite ice cream parlors
I'm sure the kids will have their own ideas, too.

Ideally, I'd like to do one of these things every morning from now till school starts.  And, since there's no time like the present, we're starting now.  This is a good day to hit a pretty  little walking path near our house.  Our city has several paved paths all over town that are perfect for strollers.  They wind through mostly quiet, natural settings so you feel like you're hiking even though the walking is much easier.

That's what we're doing today.  What are you up to?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Ode to Beads

photo credit
When Miss M was two she fixated on things way too teeny for a two year old to play with.  First on her list - beads.  Wooden beads, seed beads, pony beads - she loved them all.  When she was three she found the stash of beads in the craft supplies.  I tried hiding them again but she was an excellent bead finder.  I had to stop putting them away out of fear she'd hurt herself looking for their new secret spot.  People started gifting her with beads.  Beading kits appeared for birthdays and Christmas and just because.  We are now awash in beads.  

As I cleaned out the girl's closet last week, I once again vacuumed up volumes of beads.  They have so worked their way into the fabric of our home I barely even notice when one (or ten) rattles through the vacuum.  I am inspired to write an Ode to Beads.


Beads are round and smooth
They are sometimes angled
An artist's pallet of colors
Running through fingers
Bouncing crazily on wooden floors
Scattering through the house.  
Tiny little seed beads wedged under base boards
Bigger beads threaded over plant leaves
Expensive beads and cheap beads
I'll die a happy person if
I never see another 

Today's plan is to organize the craft supplies - beads included.  I have about six medium size boxes full of crafty stuff, and I'm sure if I try I can pare it down to five.  This is a good project for all three kids to help with because even a three year old can put markers with markers.  At the very least we'll have  a lot of fun sorting through it all and I look forward to making a craft when half our time isn't spent digging out supplies. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"This is the Best Night of my Life!"

We had a fabulous day yesterday.  Of course the girls loved being in the parade.  I actually feel terrible because I couldn't spot them on the float full of similarly dressed dancers till they were almost past us.  Even then I only found Miss E.  I wound up chasing the float and still didn't get one decent picture. I never did spot Miss M till the parade was over.  The only pictures I have of her are before and after the actual parade.  Oh well, they loved it, and I don't think they care about the lack of pictures.

After the parade we went to a celebration at a park where we bounced in bouncy houses, jousted and ate enough frozen treats to rot our teeth as we walked.  We also stopped by a splash pad to cool off before lunch.  (Notice the Sponge Bob shaped ice cream they're enjoying?  Yeah, it was an ice cream before lunch kind of day.)

The highlight of the whole day had to be an impromptu moment after dinner.  We've had all the fixin's for s'mores for at least a week now but haven't gotten around to building a fire for them.  As I was making dinner last night Miss E argued that it was a good night for s'mores.  We tried to talk her out of it.  It had already been a very long day, it was close to bed time, it was even raining a little, but she prevailed.

We huddled close to the fire toasting our giant marshmallows (Have you seen the Giant Roasters Marshmallows?  They are awesome!)Campfire Giant Roasters Marshmallows Huge 28 Ounce Bag Pack of 3   Miss M sat wrapped in her favorite blankie and declared "the is the best night of my life!"  Let me tell you, nothing makes a mommy feel good like hearing such happiness over such a simple moment.  It was the cherry on top of a great day.

Just goes to show you that kids don't need extravagant activities or detailed planning to find happiness.  All they need is a little simple fun and together time. And giant marshmallows.

*My plans for the week are updated!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pinkalicious Princess Pioneer Parade

Yesterday was Pioneer Day here in the Beehive State (statehood day in Utah for those unversed in our dialect).  In Utah, holidays falling on Sundays are often celebrated on either the preceding Saturday or the following Monday. Our city is holding it's Pioneer Day parade today.  Yay!  Everyone loves a parade! 

Actually, I have to admit I've missed all 19 Pioneer Day parades since I've moved to my current town.  When I was a kid I loved parades, but now they just start too dang early for me!  Today, however, we will be making the effort to get to main street before 9 A.M.    Both girls will be in the parade with their Pinkalicious Dance Camp school.  Of course they are giddy at the prospect of being in front of all those people.  They both have delusions of grandeur, and view this as a step into fame.  Their excitement is pretty hilarious.  They've almost been bragging that they get to be in the parade.  Good thing they have no idea how hard it actually can be to march (or dance) an entire parade route.  I'm quite entertained by their enthusiasm.  I hope they feel the same way after the parade is over. 

I'll update my Week at a Glance page with new meals and activities tomorrow. 

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cleaning out a Closet: Should I Be Frightened?

Half of the closet about to be cleaned.
Today is the first day this week we haven't had to be up and getting ready for either tumbling or dance camp so we're taking it easy for a while.  We'll lounge around in our jammies a bit, maybe watch a movie, and get caught up on our summer reading minutes that we skipped all week in favor of dance camp.

Once we've enjoyed a little down time, I'm planning to completely clean the girls' closet.  I'm really good about pulling out clothes that don't fit anymore, and I mostly put out of season clothes in storage (I say mostly because our climate is so unpredictable, you never know when you'll want long pants and a hoodie, even in July).  Still, closets accumulate a lot of flotsam.  It's been a couple of years since I've pulled everything out of their closet and really cleaned out the stuff that has been forgotten in it's corners.  I'm expecting to find some, um, interesting items to say the least. (Last time I pulled everything out I found a formerly beloved blankie had been turned into a cat bed behind Miss E's shoes.  It was so furry I didn't even try to wash it.  Straight to the trash it went.)

I think it will take most of our afternoon, but it will be really nice to start the school year with an organized closet. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Murphy's Law for Moms

Photo Credit
Murphy's Law for Moms lists are nothing new.  They always contain truth, but what surprises me is that they are not more common than they are.  There is nothing like living with newish people, famous for their unpredictability, to bring Murphy into your world.

Last night Mr. A dropped a whole cup of yogurt on my newly cleaned floor - and then walked through it - and I was inspired to write my own.  Like all good Murphy's, each of these has actually happened to me. 

  1. The longer you work clean a floor the faster someone will spill something sticky, slippery and stinky.
  2. As soon as you buy the expensive boots for school because she wore the same pair from fall to spring last year so it's okay to splurge,  her feet will grow two sizes that same month.
  3. The harder you work preparing a new recipe, the fewer of your children will eat it
  4. When you take apart and wash the car seats, at least one child will throw up during their next trip in the car.  
  5. A scary fever only develops at 7 PM on a Friday night. 
  6. The more you need a night out to save your sanity, the fewer sitters are available with in the month.  
  7. The more you spend on their bedding, the faster they will color on it with permanent ink.
  8. The more disgusting the cat puke, the more likely your youngest child will be the one to find it - with his feet.  
  9. The more expensive the toy, the more appealing the box.
  10. Just when you think you're on time, someone will remember they forgot to tell you practice started an hour earlier this week.  
I'm sure that if you're a mom, you have some Murphy's of your own.  I'd love to read them in the comments!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Multitasking Through the Pain (and Loving It!)

Walking and blogging in the sun.
I'm walking on my treadmill as I type.  And I'm in pain.  Mr. A dropped a heavy bottle of bubble bath on my toe last night and it still hurts!  I'll probably live though.  Plus, I'm distracted by the happiness that is blogging from my treadmill!  Three miles per hour and I'm blogging distraction free!  *No kids allowed in the exercise room when the treadmill is on.*  Now this is multitasking I can get in to!

Normally, I whole heartedly agree with research that says you actually accomplish less when you multitask.  That is completely true for me.  However, I know I'm not alone when I say I'd be content spending my day doing what ever pleased me.  Reality doesn't work that way.  We all have responsibilities and such that prevent us from becoming self-centered slobs, thankfully.  Having said that, the longer I'm a Mom the better I'm getting at squeezing all the me time I can out of every day.  There isn't very much of it, so I try to get the most out of what I have.  Oddly enough, multitasking during my me time DOES make me feel like I have more of it.

I'm pretty good about finding some time every day to do what I like without letting everything I love go to pot, but I keep running into the same problem.  I have too many things I simply like to do!  I could sink into the tub with a good book for hours each day.  I could take the dogs hiking quiet trails, again for hours.  Heck, I like walking so much my girls share a room so I can dedicate another room to my treadmill and Wii Fit.  And then there's the Internet.  I'm an information junkie.  No matter how useless, I love information.  The Internet is like heroin to me.  (Plus, it's my primary means of communication.  Half the time I don't know where my phone is, but I always answer an email.  When I go off line for a while my friends think I've been kidnapped.)   

Enter the treadmill laptop stand!  SurfShelf Treadmill Desk and Laptop HolderThis little baby lets me cross two likes off my list.  I can get a nice work out AND surf or blog or post the hundreds of pictures I take each week to my photo sharing site.  Now the I still have the problem of wanting to spend the whole day doing it, but hey, at least I get to do two things I love in the same time I used to do one!

Bonus: I leave my laptop on the treadmill when I'm done.  You would be amazed at how much more I accomplish when I'm not stopping by it's usual spot in my kitchen a thousand times a day!  I can still pop in to check my email often enough that no one will think I'm dead, but its so much easier to leave the on line world behind and really live!   

What do you do for yourself every day?  Do you find small tricks to maximize your "you" time?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Back to School Dry Run - And a New Meal Plan

Seriously?  Fall is closer than I'd like.
I looked up the other day and realized our summer break is almost over.  Yikes!!!!  How in the world did that happen?  So, now we're thinking back to school... 

This week our schedule slightly resembles the school year.  The girls have a three day dance camp (Pinkalicious Princess Dance Camp - seriously, does it get any better if you're a little girl?)  Both of them will be out of the house for a two hour block, which is close to our school year schedule because Miss M's kindergarten class will be a similar length.  Mr. A and I have a chance to practice having a little time just the two of us.  I think it's been kind of hard on him to constantly have his sisters vying for attention, even though he's loved having them around to play at the same time.  I have resolved that this week, I will I will just enjoy my time alone with him rather than doing housework. 

Unfortunately, we do have to spend some time grocery shopping today.  Since I've started meal planning my trips to the grocery store are faster because they're focused (and I make a lot fewer of them because I'm better prepared in general).  Now that I'm also trying to organize my list by category I'm practically zooming through the store!  So, while I don't get to spend the whole two hours playing with Mr. A, I should still have time to do something fun just with him. 

The Week at a Glance page is updated with a new meal plan!

*If you're unfamiliar with Pinkalicious and you have a little girl in your world, you must live in a cave.  Ha Ha!  Just kidding.  Seriously though, this newish series of picture books has everything little girls love.   These are our favorites.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Boy Wizard and Kids: Proceed with Caution

I took a break from my kids this weekend to see a certain boy wizard movie with my best friend.  (And I LOVED it, by the way.)  I'm a bona fide  Harry Potter junkie. I waited with baited breath for the mail man to bring the books the day they were released.  I see the movies as soon as the people wearing costumes have thinned out a bit.  This was the first movie I've seen where I wasn't alarmed by the small children in the theater.  What a nice surprise!  Yes, I'm the mom who cringes when I see people who don't understand that Harry Potter really isn't a great franchise for little kids.  During Deathly Hallows pt.1 a four, maybe five year old boy was actually crying and telling his mom he was scared and wanted to leave.  She kept telling him to be quiet and watch the movie.  I wished I'd had the nerve to stand up and yell at her for being a rotten mother.  Deathly Hallows pt.2 is about 89% violent imagery and 100% complicated plot.  Not exactly the type of thing I think my kids will enjoy.

It's true, the books start out as great fun for kids, and the first ones were definitely marketed to kids specifically, but really after the third book/movie, I don't feel they are appropriate for younger kids anymore.  I don't ever feel they're right for preschool kids. 

I know I'm prejudiced because I love the books so much I want everyone to read them before they see the movies, which I view as dim shadows of the books.  My opinion is that if a child is too young to sit through a reading of the book they are too young to see the movies.  They are missing the beautifully rich details anyway and the content is just to mature for them.  Not everyone agrees with me.  Friends whom I truly respect are comfortable letting their kids of all ages watch all the movies.  Their families, their rules. For my family though, I prefer to keep them away from not only violence, but from realistic evil intent.  There is a pretty big difference between the bad guys in, say, Hotel for Dogs, who chase kids with bad intentions and Lord Voldemort.  The former is violent in a Looney Tunes way.  The latter is very dark and very real.  I'd rather my kids didn't see that side of the world at their ages.

As I said above, I'm crazy about the world of Harry Potter.  In no way do I think HP is bad for kids in general.  I just think they need to be more mature before they jump in.  The summer Miss E was six and a half I decided she was ready to not only enjoy The Sorcerer's Stone, but generally understand all of it.  I was practically giddy as we read it together because I was so happy to finally open that world up for her.  But, we stopped with book one that year.  The books grow with the characters, and I knew Miss E wasn't ready for the next one yet.  We read The Chamber of Secrets the following summer, when she was seven.  This summer, at age eight, and we read The Prisoner of Azkaban.  She's a fully developed reader now.  She can read the books without help and is completely in love with Harry's world.  She begged and begged to read The Goblet of Fire.  I considered it.  I reread the book myself and decided to wait another year.  There are not only elements I just don't want her reading yet, but I'm not sure she'd fully grasp the nuances of the story, which are elemental to fully enjoying it.  So, we'll read that one next year.  It's a tradition to watch the movies together when we finish the books.  It's a great way to spend time together and share something I love.

When it comes to Harry Potter, I'm very familiar with their content and it's pretty easy to make a judgement about letting my kids read/see them or not.  There are many other things I'm not so sure about.  If I'm considering a movie, book or video game, but don't know much about it, I usually visit Common Sense Media.  It's a really great review site for families.  It doesn't necessarily review for entertainment value, but evaluates based on violence, sexual content, and other things a concerned parent might want to know about.  It gives age recommendations and allows user reviews so you can hear from other parents, too.  It's only let me down once (I thought the movie Coraline was quite a bit scarier than they had rated it).  If you're like me and want to know what you're getting in to before you take your kids to a movie - or the bookstore or turn on the game console - visit Common Sense Media.  A good parent still has to judge for themselves if something is appropriate for their family, but it's good to have a resource to help make an informed decision.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mini-Manicures for Everyone!

Simple tools I need to use more often.
There are few things that make me cringe like being somewhere - say the pediatrician's office or hair salon - looking down at my kids hands and seeing jagged, sometimes dirty little claws on their fingertips.  Even worse is when I see their toe nails would look more at home on a dragon than my beautiful children.  Gross!

For some reason I'm terrible about making sure their nails are neat.  It simply slips my mind.  Of course it doesn't help that when I do bring it up, they all have learned to say they want their dad to do their nails instead of me.  I always fall for it but then forget to follow through and make sure they go to him directly.  Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't and sometimes a day or two will pass before I remember to check their nails.  Urgh.  Time for this to end. 

Today I am inspecting sixty little digits and their nails.  I'm trimming the ones that need to be trimmed, and I might paint the ones they want painted just so everyone thinks they're having fun.  And more importantly, I vow to repeat this inspection every single Sunday for the rest of their natural lives.  Well, at least till I can trust them to do their own.  I'm even adding it to my Week at a Glance calendar.  Little things like nails are still important.  I never want to cringe over them again! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Successful Celebration!

In Japan, birthdays seem pretty low key.  Kids traditionally wear all new clothes and may receive a bag of candy wishing them long life.  In Brazil, instead of birthday "spankings" kids pull on the earlobes of the birthday boy or girl, once for each year.  At my house, I've started setting the kids presents, balloons and cake on our dining table so I can pose the kids with it all and take a commemorative picture.  This is the first year I've done this with Mr. A.  I hadn't made a tradition of it for his first year.  Last year we had a small BBQ with friends and forgot to get the "birthday photo" before we cut his cake.  This is the best picture I got of Mr. A and his 2nd birthday cake.

Mr. A and his presents.
This year, the girls were SO excited to help open presents and eat cake they almost didn't let me get a picture again.  In the end, they remembered their own birthday pictures and helped set everything up.  They also made their funniest faces so the birthday boy would laugh for his pictures. 

The Dump Truck Cake
Another little tradition we have is choosing the cake.  I've always loved how excited they get about their cakes.  We talk about them for weeks, till they really know what they want.  Whether we buy one or make our own they always have great ideas and cannot wait to have a cake with their name on it.  This year, Mr. A saw a construction themed cake in the bakery display and that's all he had eyes for.  He didn't want to look through the design book.  He didn't want to consider other themes.  He just wanted the dump truck cake.  The word "excitement" doesn't do justice to how Mr. A reacted when he knew he had his dump truck cake.  He literally could not take his eyes off it.  Later, after we'd cut the cake, he didn't even want to eat it. He only wanted to play with the equipment.  
Otherwise, our birthday celebrations are usually pretty low key and vary from year to year.  However, I do have to share what we finally found for his big gift.  I actually spotted it as we drove past the yard and garden department at our local big box store.  As soon as I saw it, I knew he had to have it.  The picture on the left show Mr. A sitting in our turtle sandbox.  But that's obviously not your run of the mill sand.  You can see it's brilliant blue.  Yes, Crayola has come out with it's own line of super, incredibly cool play sand. 
I couldn't believe it when I saw it, and it was simply a matter of luck that I did.  We haven't really used our  turtle since we built a huge sandbox into our landscaping, but it's the perfect place for the new blue sand.

It's safe to say Mr. A had a fabulous birthday!

The birthday boy taking a rest with some new equipment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why Don't Mom's Stop?

So, how 'bout yesterday's guest post?  Kinda funny, I thought.  And sweet.  My poor spouse is a small businessman who often spends every waking hour on his business.  When he is able to just chill, he wants me to chill with him.  Sometimes I don't realize that's the case and am doing my own thing.  Other nights he specifically tells me it's time to hang out with him but I'm tragically good at finding that "one more thing" I either forgot or just didn't get to during the day that suddenly seems really important.  He feels neglected.  Occasionally, I really do have something very important I need to do, like wrapping the last few gifts for the next day's birthday.  Last night Mr. miniginny (calling him that totally cracks me up) asked what he could do so I could hang out with him.  I jokingly answered that he could write my blog.  I seriously laughed when, after I put the kids to bed, he asked how to sign in and start blogging.  That was such a limb for him to go out on, he obviously wanted my company quite a bit.  It made me think about why I don't just sit and relax more often.

A lot of moms say they feel like their work never ends.  Why is that?  Do the jobs add up because taking care of a house full of people too small to truly clean up after themselves is such a huge task?  Can you chalk it up to the fluid situation that is parenting?  I know sometimes I don't get anything done all day because all three kids are having a rough day and need some real attention.  Or if we start having fun, sometimes we just don't stop and then I have to play catch up around the house.  Is it because moms aren't very good at saying "no", even at some expense to themselves?  I know this blog is something I do simply because I choose it.  I like the creative outlet and the discipline of writing regularly.  It also helped organize my life in a tremendous way.  But, I have added it to a To Do list that wasn't exactly short.  The time I spend writing could be spent on the other 7,000 To Do's.  Should I just say no to blogging?

Personally, I think a mom's multiplying job problem is way to complex to deconstruct in one little post.  Every time I improve something I find at least three more areas still lacking.  Oh, Fly Lady is right, you don't have to clean like your mother if you have good routines.  (I know my mom cleaned from sun up to sun down most days, but then again we lived on a farm and she had two more kids than I do so...)  I am getting better and better at my routines, but I have yet to run out of work.  Honestly, I doubt I ever will.  This job is like plate spinning - if you dare ignore one thing you're gluing it back together before you know it. Sometimes it seems like all you do is run from one thing to the next.  However, when you really have all your plates spinning, it's a pretty awesome show.  I think we all ought to stop and enjoy that show as often as possible!

Just in case the phrase "plate spinning" dates me and you have no clue what it is, here's a funny video of a guy spinning plates.  I loved variety shows that featured plate spinners when I was a kid.  My kids don't even know what a variety show is.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Post From a Guest Blogger!

Well, not so much of a guest blogger; but a spouse.  Yes, "Stay at Home Moms," this is not miniginny; this is "Mr." minnyginny.  My spouse is busy wrapping presents for the Birthday Boy's party tomorrow, doing dishes, putting kids to bed, and some of that other "Mom" stuff; so I am writing her blog.  This is my only chance to get some spouse time tonight.

I realize that being a stay-at-home-mom is at least as time consuming as having a full time job.  The daily commitment of raising kids, with all the joys, stresses, and demands for attention, are taxing on the brain and can make you a little crazy.  I get that.  After a long day of shuttling kids to ballet, shopping, changing diapers, fixing lunches, cleaning house, and balancing the dismal household budget- the last thing a mom wants or needs is a demanding, whiny husband.  So....even though I am demanding and whiny, I can at least help out tonight by writing her blog.

So, cut her some slack today on the blog content, because it was written by a construction guy.

Mr. minnyginny blogging, as miniginny wraps gifts.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New Week, New Plans, and (non)Rewards

Monday!  Yay!  Okay, I must say it's pretty easy to cheer for a Monday when you're a stay at home mom in the summer.  Even when we have somewhere to go we rarely have to be anywhere before nine.  It's pretty hard to dread a Monday when every day is like a weekend.

Today, I'm still mulling over a schedule and reward outline for the kids regarding their academic skills.  At first I thought I'd set goals linked to rewards, but now I think they don't really need goals and rewards.  They still want to earn the new LeapPad tablet game systems and have been doing extra jobs for money.  However, we've been pretty loosey goosey about actually tracking specific jobs and dollars.  Both girls have continued to be especially helpful, knowing I'm keeping their good deeds in mind.  This lack of concrete tracking is much easier for me, of course, and it hasn't been demotivating for them.  So, for now, I think I'll keep setting aside a little time each day to work on academic skills.  I'll remind them that doing what they are asked is scoring karma points - which may be redeemed at the end of summer for something they really want.

(I may make them some calendars to track their reading minutes, but only because it pleases them to add up the time they spend reading each month.  Miss E always says it doesn't seem like that long.  Of course I have to smile at that.)

Here's to a fabulous Monday and "fabulouser" week!   Oh, and check out this week's plan.  I included a recipe from one of my favorite blogs "Half-Assed Kitchen".  If you don't love cooking, you'll want to spend some time there.  They write about tasty food made as simply as possible.   Everyone loves that!

Bloggers Need Love, Too!

I wrote this for new page here on the blog yesterday. Someone suggested I should make a post out of it so it would go out on all the syndicates people subscribe through. So, here it is as a post.  If you already read this yesterday, feel free to move along and have a wonderful Sunday!

Do you enjoy my blog?  It's easy to show me!

Read Regularly - I know it's narcissistic, but I get such a boost from each page view.  I have a few readers who check in every day and I honestly love them.  It's nice to know I'm not talking to myself here.

Share a post - When I see a post has been shared I get a little thrill up my spine.  It's seriously pleasing to know my writing is good enough to share.  There are share buttons at the bottom of each post.  Or, you can share the whole blog through the share links on the right column.

Comment - I love comments.  If you have thoughts to contribute about a post, I truly enjoy reading them and try to reply to as many as I can!

+1 - Google has added a new little gadget which lets you tell them content is good with one little click.  See the +1 button at the bottom of each post?  Click that and you tell me (and Google) that entry is great!  It's just like the "Like" button on facebook, but it interacts with Google to drive up my standing in their search results.  *The other check boxes near the +1 button (interesting, funny, etc.) give me feedback on each post, which is quite valuable.  Check those boxes to quickly tell me what you think.

Follow Me! - Although most people reading this blog are my personal friends and pick the link up on facebook, every time someone follows me in some way it's a serious boost to my ego.  Even if you are my real life friend, I love seeing you Follow Me!

Click an Ad - This blog does not exist to make money.  However, it is nice when it turns up a few pennies here and there.  Clicking one of the Google Ads is painless for you and gives me moral and monetary support.

Buy a Little Something - I am an Amazon Affiliate seller.  That means when I post a link to a product on Amazon, I'll earn a small advertising fee if you buy through that link.  Again, my intent with this blog is not to sell stuff, but if I love something enough to blog about it I'm genuine in my recommendation.  Everything I write about here is directly from my life and when I find something I love, I like talking about it.  Also, it's fun to find people with similar interests and tastes.  If you think something sounds good enough to buy, I greatly appreciate it when you buy through my link.  (Sometimes when I talk about a book or a toy I only post a picture of it.  You may not know that's an Amazon link unless you hover your mouse over it.  If something is interesting, try clicking on the picture.  It will probably take you to Amazon.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's Time for a Birthday Party!

Three years ago I was pregnant out.... to.... here.... with Mr. A.  He wasn't due for a few more days, but I was very ready and excited to meet my little guy.  We'll celebrate his third birthday on Tuesday, and I'm marveling at how quickly the last three years have flown.  They went so fast, in fact, that I have to admit that his birthday kind of snuck up on me this year.  Now I'm scrambling to figure out what to give him.  I have his big day all planned out - before the kids start preschool we  have little family parties with cake and ice cream and since it's summer maybe a trip to a park, lake or pool.  The cake and balloons are ordered, candles and decorations bought.  His gift, however, isn't so easy. 

As our third child, there are few age appropriate toys he doesn't already have.  In fact, our play room looks like an entire toy store was dropped into it.  Since he's our only boy, he's gotten cars and trucks and tractors for every previous gift giving occasion until he has hundreds of Hot Wheels cars and every model of tractor in every size.   We have Power Wheels and bikes and movies and everything under the sun.  *sigh*  What an American problem to have - so many toys we can't find anything new to give him.  At this point it's just more stuff and I hate giving just stuff.  I guess I'll have to  put on my thinking cap today, surf assorted toy store sites, and hope I'll discover something fabulous.

As always, anyone have a suggestion?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We're Counting Blessings and Building a Care Package

Almost eleven years ago, my sister was killed in a freakish car accident.  It was a rather minor accident, but for want of a seat belt she was thrown from the car.  The wreck itself was a matter of seconds, being in the wrong place for literally seconds too long.  Sometimes catastrophe hinges on seconds, or inches.

Brendan, reading in the shade.
Yesterday, her son avoided catastrophe by inches.  He was driving an ATV and whether he misjudged a turn or something else happened we don't really know, but he tipped the ATV into a ditch full of water.  A tiny sapling stopped the ATV from pushing my nephew completely into and under the water.  An inch or two farther and we would have had a true tragedy.  But because of those inches, he was not pushed under water.  The ATV fell on him, severely burning his leg, but he'll be okay.  He's in a lot of pain and our avid soccer player is out for the rest of the year, but he'll be okay.  That's the important part.  So, we're counting our blessings today.   We're so grateful that although his injury is serious, it's not nearly as bad as it could have been.   We're thankful for those mere inches and the little tree that saved his life.  We're relieved that his burn isn't worse than it is.  We're also grateful to his incredible sister, Lindsey, who was nearby and handled the whole thing calmly.  They were with my mom, but Lindsey was the one who called 911.  My mom was so upset that Lindsey drove them to the hospital and helped everyone stay calm.  Bless her little heart, she even took her little brother and sister to a movie later in the day to distract them from the drama. 
Lindsey leading a water fight.

The kids and I are going to make some care packages for Lindsey and Brendan today.  The girls are already thinking of the pictures they'll draw for them.  They don't understand how lucky Brendan is, or how brave Lindsey was, but they know what it means to be hurt and upset.  Miss E especially is brainstorming fun things to put in their packages.  It's the best way I know to focus on the good things the future now holds, rather than the terrible that might have been.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hit the Ground Running

I'm back!  After four days at my mom's house celebrating her birthday and Independence Day it feels so good to be home.  It feels even better to get back into our routine.  We miraculously woke at our regular time and, thanks to having my day preplanned, we're already back in our groove. 

The girls begin a new session of tumbling this afternoon and we have to run assorted errands today in addition to grocery shopping.  After using a list created on Food on the Table, I am in love with shopping lists organized by store section.  I've done this from time to time myself but I usually just kind of group like items together and then backtrack around the store if I miss something.  Even though I didn't use Food on the Table for my meal plan this week, I still wanted a truly organized list.  I remembered a neat little printable organizer I blogged about last fall.  Pocket Mod seemed like the perfect little tool to help organize my trip to the store.  I simply built one using only the shopping list template and now I have eight separate sections, which ought to be enough to get me through the store.  Each part of the store gets a section on my Pocket Mod and I have a neat little booklet to carry.  It should make shopping a breeze!
Click to see my Pocket Mod full size.  Drag it to your own desktop for a printable jpg.  Visit Pocket Mod for folding instructions.

 Meal plans for the remainder of this week are ready in the Week at a Glance tab above.