Friday, December 18, 2015

Merry Christmas {Christmas Break 2015}

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Merry Christmas to you all! I am thankful for this time of year because of what it means to us. It means that Jesus Christ was born and that He lived and died for us. I will be taking two weeks off to enjoy some time with my family. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! I have linked some of my most popular posts from the end of 2011 for you to peruse if you want some posts to read over the break. Many of these should be quite helpful to you for this time of year as you fit in last minute gifts and visiting with family over the break. I will be back January 4, 2016!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Making and Keeping Goals

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I don't want to skip over Christmas in any way. Christmas is the next holiday, and the most important holiday of the year. However, that also means Christmas break is coming up, which means by the time I am back to share ideas with you, we will be past January 1 and past the time you will have been thinking about making and keeping your resolutions. I am, therefore, talking about this today. You can read and ponder today, or you can set it aside and read in 8-13 days to make your goals.

People can definitely be cynical about making New Year's Resolutions. It seems cliche and how many people actually achieve the goals they set anyway? I am all about goals, no matter what the time of year. The start of a new calendar year is a perfect time to evaluate how things are going in life and what you are improving on. I don't care when you decide to take that time to evaluate, but I do think you should pick a time to evaluate at least yearly. Ideally, you are looking at yourself daily and trying to improve upon that. I am talking about bigger life changes. Big resolutions. Don't coast through life. You can always improve, so take some time to think of realistic goals you can make. If you don't like January 1, go with January 13. Or February 1. Or your birthday. Whatever. Just pick a day and do it. 
  1. Evaluate what you need to improve on. See Resolutions that Matter and Figuring Out What is Essential for help on what is worth the time to worry about.
  2.  Make a list of possible goals.
  3. Choose a manageable number of goals to set. 
  4. Set the goals. Don't stop there!
  5. Make a plan for how to achieve these goals. 
  6. It can be helpful to have some accountability. Tell your spouse. Tell your friends. Tell Facebook. Share with the number of people you need to that will help keep you on track. 
  7. Accept that you most likely will make mistakes and have setbacks. Don't give up once those happen. It takes time to change.
  8. Evaluate your progress from time to time. 
Like I said, I believe in goals. Here are four reasons you should make them. I have some posts that can help guide you on what types of goals you might want to make and also help with the how of keeping them. 

Resolutions that Matter


Making and Achieving Goals


Goal Tips





Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Poll Discussion: Chores

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As college-aged students get more and more unable to handle the pressures of college, people are starting to try to analyze why this is. As I have read over the many articles circulating on this topic, I have noticed that most (if not all) articles talk about the importance of having your children do chores while raising them. And so, that is the topic of our current poll.

It is very helpful for me when compiling answers if you at least number the answers you give. You can also copy the questions and answer them. If the question does not apply to you, simply put "N/A."

1-What is the age of your child?
2-Do you have your child do chores?
3-What are 3-5 examples of chores that your child currently does?
4-What age did you start chores?
5-Do you think it is important for your child to do chores?
6-In reference to question 5, why yes or why no?
7-Any words of advice of comments on chores?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

When YOU Can't Sleep

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One of the most stressful things for me as a mom is when I can't sleep at night. I want to get sleep while the getting is good, and yet there are moments when I just can't sleep at all no matter what. I don't want to be a grumpy mom, and being a tired mom makes it hard to avoid the grumpy. Here are some tips for helping yourself sleep better.

1-Figure Out Why You Aren't Sleeping
There can be a lot of reasons you can't sleep. A major reason for insomnia in women is hormone cycles. Each month, right before my period starts, I have a night of major insomnia. This is very regular, but it took me years to figure out the pattern. On that night, I know to just accept it. I don't stress and I know I am just not going to get much sleep that night. 

I always had a very hard time sleeping when I had a newborn. I am a light sleeper anyway. Adding to that the crazy hormones and the need to listen for a baby in the night just made it so I slept even lighter. I would wake at every sound. I started to sleep with earplugs. I still could hear everything. I eventually moved to moving the monitor to the other side of the room, covering it with a pillow, and wearing ear plugs. I still woke at every chirp the baby made. This is something I moved away from as my baby started to consistently sleep through the night. I could finally rest without worrying about when the baby would wake up. 

I also had a hard time falling back asleep once I nursed the baby. I would start calculating. "If I fall asleep now, I should get 2.5 hours before the baby wakes back up." I desperately wanted to sleep, but I had a hard time getting there. Remember that sleep begets sleep. An overly tired adult can have a hard time falling asleep just like a baby can. 

2-Turn Your Brain Off
A major reason women have a hard time sleeping is that they have a hard time turning the brain off. I consistently hear from other women that if they get woken up too close to wake up time, they get thinking about what they have to get done that day and cannot fall back into dreamland. 

The trick here is to find a way to get your brain to stop thinking. You might find reading helps you do that. You might find watching the television helps you do that. 

When I hurt my ankle, I had to sleep with a large boot on for 6 weeks. It was not comfortable and it led to me sleeping in a lighter sleep state. I woke up in pain often and could not fall back asleep. We had always been against having a TV in our bedroom, but my husband knew from experience I often fell asleep watching TV, so he turned to the classifieds and bought a cheap TV to put in our room while I was healing. It worked very well! It helped distract my brain so I could go back to sleep. We liked it so much, we still have a TV in there. If you have a TV for this purpose, I highly recommend a TV with a timer so you can set the timer to turn the TV off after 30-60 minutes so it isn't on while you are asleep (which will cause you to be in a lighter state of sleep). 

3-Have a Routine
Adults benefit from a sleep routine just like a baby or child does. Interrupting the routine, for anyone, can make it harder for them to sleep. Having a routine is a great way to prep the brain and body for sleep. Make a routine and keep it. 

4-Exercise
Exercising each day helps your body be ready for sleeping at night. Just like a child needs to burn energy to sleep well at night, an adult does, too. 

5-Know Sleep Science
I have commented on a couple of things already. Sleep science is very helpful in helping you sleep better. Make sure your body gets natural light in the day to help with melatonin and circadian rhythm. Realize that you have an ideal time when you can fall asleep well at night. I have a ten minute window where if I go to sleep in that ten minute window, I fall asleep quickly and sleep deeper at night than I do if I go to sleep before or after that window. Expend enough mental and physical energy each day. Don't eat foods before bed that will keep you up. Know if you sleep better with or without socks. Know what kind of bed you sleep best in and how you should dress at night. Experiment with house temperatures and blanket layers. Apply the science of sleep to not only your children, but to yourself also. 

Something helpful to know about insomnia is if you can't sleep, it is good to get up and walk around for a few minutes. It is not helpful to lay in bed for hours, tossing and turning. If you have been trying to fall asleep for 20-30 minutes, get up and walk around for a few minutes and then try again. 

6-Sleep Aids
When I have a newborn, I have learned I just need to have some extra sleep help. My OB offered to give me a prescription strength sleep aid after I had Kaitlyn, but I didn't want anything that could be habit forming. He told me to try Tylenol PM. I tried two pills a night for a while and it worked well! The trouble was that I needed more sleep than I normally do because of it. Where I am more of a 7-7.5 hour a night sleeper, I was needing 9ish. I didn't like needing more sleep to function, especially with a newborn! So I went down to one a night. that was the right number. It was just enough to get me drowsy, but I could still  function on less sleep. This post contains affiliate links.

I took one Tylenol PM until I weaned my baby. Then I stopped taking the pill. It was not a problem to stop using it. 

You could also try melatonin and essential oils

Conclusion
In your quest for a good night's sleep, just be cautious about what you introduce into your life. Just like a baby can develop a dependency on sleep props, so can you. Sleep begets sleep, so sometimes an aid can help you get back on track of sleep so you can get back to being able to sleep well once you aren't overly tired. Once you are there, remove your sleep prop. 

What have you found helps  you sleep?

Monday, December 14, 2015

How I Lose Weight

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If there is any conclusion I have come to on the subject of weight loss it is that there are A LOT of tips out there, and they can often conflict with each other. It is hard to know what will work and what won't.

For me, the weight loss is about being healthy. That's a nice cliche line to throw out, but it is true. Actual weight loss is also a big challenge for me. I have not only PCOS but I am hypothyroid, both of which not only make it hard to lose weight, but cause weight gain. It is a battle. I can go months without losing a pound, but I keep going. 6 years ago, I thought I was likely done having children and started to put real effort into getting in shape. I also was diagnosed with PCOS at the same time. I got into great shape (over 2.5 years of effort). Then we decided to have another baby. After this baby, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The battle has been longer since having Brinley (my fourth). I am almost 3.5 years in and have just gotten to the same spot. I have the thyroid, I have my 30s, and I also had a severely sprained ankle, which was the biggest setback.

Over the years I have learned a lot/ Here are the things I have learned in the last 6 years of working on this. Now, whenever I meet someone in real life who has "heard" me talk about weight loss frustrations and goals inevitably has a comment of how I don't look like I need to lose weight. You might be wondering about it, too, if you have seen pictures of me on this blog over the years. My body really hides my weight well. Since last June, I have lost 8 pounds and very few people have even noticed (although some have noticed even just through pictures). In the last 2.5 years, I have lost 14 pounds. So I am not a person with amazing before/after shots. I do look very similar, though you can see differences if you study pictures side by side. I also haven't been severely overweight. My current numbers would satisfy everyone for life--even the infamous BMI. 

1-Make it About Health
Jillian Michaels says "Change is not a future event; it is a present day activity." You have to have that mentality. Exercise is your new normal. It is not what you are doing until you lose weight. You will exercise at least several times a week indefinitely now. Just make that your new lifestyle goal.

image source

It can't be just about the weight. If it is about weight, your exercising won't stick. There are so many ups and downs and plateaus along the path that will deter you and get you down if your only focus is weight. Exercise is good for you no matter what your weight loss goals are. It helps with cholesterol, depression, general mood, and healthy sleep. Exercise reduces the risk or at least the impact of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Even if (and when) you are perfectly happy with your weight, you should be exercising. 

Exercising is not fun initially. If you stick with it, you will come to appreciate it (even if you harbor a loathing on some level). I initially started out exercising three days a week. I dreaded it the night before every one of those days. I worked up to five days for sure every week. Some weeks I do six. I never dread it anymore. In fact, when I hurt my ankle and couldn't do a lot (I still exercised five days a week but I was obviously limited) I very much missed intense exercising. I craved it. 

2-Count the Calories
I loathe counting calories. Loathe entirely. BUT it is often a necessary evil for me for a 2ish week period every so often. 

When you exercise, you burn more calories than you would otherwise. This will likely translate to you being more hungry than you would otherwise be. A huge rookie mistake people make with exercising as a means to lose weight is that they only exercise. They think exercise means they can eat more and so they just eat away.

In some ways you can eat more, but let's put this into some perspective. This morning, I did 43 minutes on my elliptical. It was intense and I was literally dripping sweat when I was done. The estimation for that workout is that I burnt 244 calories. That means if I add 244 calories to what I would normally eat in a day, then I have replaced what I expended for that work out. It doesn't take much food to get to 244 calories. When you are pregnant, you add about 300-350 calories a day. Breastfeeding adds about 500 calories a day. You are burning some more calories when exercising, but not enough that you get to eat whatever you want every day. 

Losing weight must include the calorie in vs. calorie out game. If you are eating more than your body is burning, you will not lose weight. If you are equal, you will not lose weight. If  you want to lose weight, there must be a deficit. As a mom, you probably are going to be be lucky to fit 30-60 minutes of daily exercise in each week. The way to help with the weight loss is to watch the calories. By the way, if you are struggling trying to figure out how to fit in exercise, see How I Do It: Exercise.

For me, I find if I count calories for about 2 weeks, it helps reset my cravings. It helps me regulate my hunger patterns. It helps me learn what I can be eating each day. It is a reality check. After that two weeks, I can stop counting and just go off of feel and be fine.

There are times I have to count calories again. For example, I had to count calories for a few days after our Chicago trip. On the trip, we ate a lot of delicious food that was very high in calories. I didn't gain any weight on the trip because we were so active each day, but I did come home with a taste for the high-calorie foods again. I had to retrain my cravings. It only took a few days and I got it under control. This post contains affiliate links.

I like the app "Lose It!" for counting calories. I know a lot of people like "My Fitness Pal." If you use a Fitbit, the app for that is good, too. 

I have come to realize that for me, I can't have as many calories as the apps say I can have and lose the weight they say I can. I am sure it is a combo of the PCOS and thyroid issues. If I put a goal of losing 1.5 pounds per week, the calories it "allows" me will really get me .5 a pound of weight loss each week. So my point is, if you are struggling with losing weight and doing things "right" according to your calorie tracker, you might have to go lower and more aggressive.

Know that counting calories doesn't mean that you can't eat yummy things. I still eat desserts. Sometimes you have to choose between seconds and dessert. Sometimes you have to hop on the elliptical or go for a long walk at night because you ate too much that day. 

3-Change Your Workouts
This is something commonly discussed with weight loss, but when I first started out, I didn't know about it. You need to change up your workouts when exercising. You can't just do cardio every day. You must have some strength training in there, also. I initially started with a cardio only focus 6 years ago. I saw a small result that way, but the big results didn't start coming in until I wised up and realized I needed some strength training in there also.

You will have to figure out what kind of workout system works for you. I do elliptical two days a week. The other three, I do strength training. I typically do Jillian Michaels DVDs because I find they work really well for me. I have 3 different ones that I rotate among. When I finish one round up (her DVDs are aimed at a one month process), I will usually throw something different in for a week. I often do pilates and/or Zumba for a week in between. They are just fun and different. 

In nice weather, I also walk or run.

Just experiment with what works for you. You might need to go to a gym rather than workout at home. I have written in the past on Exercise and Weight Loss

4-Track Your Activity
Last summer I got a Fitbit and it was really eye-opening to me. I have really loved it. The thing I love about a Fitbit is that it tracks your activity, so the amount of calories it tells you that you can have will vary from day to day based on your activity level. If you eat too much for your activity for the day, then you know you need to add a walk into your day or maybe even hop on the treadmill that night. It just really helps you be more self aware of what you are putting in vs. putting out. I have a Fitbit Charge and I really like it, but if I did it over again, I would get one that tracks your heartrate--I feel like that would provide better intel into your calorie burning. Read more about my newest Fitbit here

5-Be Patient
Expect no quick fixes. When you are exercising and watching what you eat, progress will be slow. But the progress you make will be progress  you can maintain. It is more about lifestyle change and adjustment. I want my change to be something I can maintain. I want my adjustments to be things I can live with long-term. Like I said, I go through periods where I don't lose weight. I keep going with the exercise. The payout does come. Be like the tortoise--slow and steady. 

6-Drink Water
Do not underestimate the power in drinking enough water. If I am not drinking enough, my body will not lose weight. It just won't. Not only does it help your body function as usual, but it helps control cravings. Sometimes you eat food when what your body really wants is a drink. Being hydrated also significantly impacts energy levels, which means you will be more active AND you won't turn to things that contain sugars to get an energy boost. 

Make sure you drink enough water. I use an app called "WaterMinder" to track my water intake. 

7-Figure Out How to Track Progress
Recognize there are many different victories in the journey. Be aware of and accept the different signs of progress.

As you get into shape, you will be building muscle. Sometimes you aren't seeing weight loss but you are seeing your body getting healthier. You might be losing inches or you might find your clothes fit in a more flattering way.

You will also notice changes in energy levels. You will notice changes in what you can do before becoming fatigued or out of breath. 

Celebrate those victories! 

Now, the scale is something I stay in touch with. Some people say to never weigh yourself or to do it once a month or once a week. I weigh myself every day. Doing it every day helps me learn my natural fluctuation--there are consistent times of the month my weight goes up and times it goes down. If it is going up when it isn't normal, I step back and look at what I am eating. Too much Halloween candy going on? Better watch it for a couple of days. It helps me not get too comfortable in my efforts. Some people find it very discouraging, but it works well for me.

What things have you found helpful and essential in your own weight loss journey?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Feed Me Friday: Simple Fudge

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For me, fudge is a Christmas dessert. Each year, we would spend Christmas break at my Grandmother's house. Each year, she would prepare for our arrival by cooking up many treats, including fudge. Fudge can sound like a scary thing to make, but thanks to the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, we all can make fudge with their easy recipe. Just because it is easy doesn't mean it isn't delicious. Give it a try!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 5 ounce can of evaporated milk (2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups tiny marshmallows
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional--I don't use these myself)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Method:
  1. Line an 8x8x2 inch baking pan with foil, extending over the edges. Set pan aside.
  2. Butter sides of a 2 quart saucepan (according to the cookbook, the size of pan is very important to being successful with fudge).
  3. In saucepan, combine sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. It will take about 10 minutes to get to this point.
  4. Reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 6 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.
  5. Add in marshmallows, chocolate, nuts and vanilla. Stir until marshmallows and chocolate melt and the mixture is combined.
  6. Beat by hand for one minute. 
  7. Spread fudge evenly in a prepared pan.
  8. Cover and chill for 2-3 hours or until firm. 
  9. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one month (like it would last that long!). 
My Addition:
I love to change up the flavor of things. This recipe calls for vanilla. I use whatever extract I feel like that day. Almond is always a favorite of mine and you can't go wrong with that. The last time I made this, I did orange extract. It tastes like those orange balls you can buy at Christmas time. I think next time, I will try mint. You could go peppermint, raspberry...whatever extract you have that you think will taste good with chocolate. 


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Making the Most of Your Kids Schedule {How To Get Things Done} Guest Post

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By Carrie Wiley

One thing I get asked a lot from other moms is how I get anything “else” done (other than keeping 4 little humans alive). Some days, it can be a challenge to figure out when I’m going to shower much less do the laundry or write a blog post. The honest answer some days is, I don’t get anything else done. But for most days, the beautiful thing about Babywise and a Parent-Directed Schedule is that it provides a framework for the day and offers opportunities to be productive and keep your home running smoothly.

It doesn’t take a very long time of using Babywise to see the ways it benefits your baby. I have watched all of my babies relax into the schedule and thrive from consistency and from getting enough sleep. But what’s great about your baby and kids benefitting from a schedule, is that you also reap benefits.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a “day in the life of” post about what a typical Monday looks like for me. My sister called me after reading it and said “You had a very productive day… how did you do that?” As I read back over it, it was so clear to me that the reason I was so productive that day is because I utilized my schedule in ways that allowed me to spend time with my kids and get things done.

Here are a few tips to make your schedule benefit you to get things done:

1.    Make a schedule and write it down

I always like to think of my schedule in the “ideal” realm whenever I’m making a new one or adjusting one. If things went perfectly, this is how the perfect schedule would look. It RARELY ever fleshes out completely to the ideal, and recognizing this is important, but it gives me a starting place, a goal, and a place to come back to if I need to re-group.

Just because you write something down doesn’t mean it will magically happen, but it certainly helps with the “mommy brain” and helps you stay ahead of yourself instead of later in the day thinking “Oh yeah… I was going to try to do it this way”.

2.    Plan Ahead and Make A List

Make a list. The days that I make a to-do list are significantly more productive than the days I leave it to chance. The tasks continue to float in my head until I have to end up staying up late to get them done or putting them off.

Look at your daily schedule and think through times that you can plan on showering, household chores, devotionals, fun (ß dare I say it!). The key times I plan for are naptimes, independent play times, and screen times. None of those things are a free-for-all in our home, but are always a planned, consistent time.

3.    Think creatively and flexibly

If you are really struggling to complete a specific task because of lack of time, think through your schedule to how you can move something around or change something. One of the best changes I made in my schedule was moving screen time to the time when I am fixing dinner in the evening. Like most Moms, it is my most stressful, tired, time of the day. It might be as simple as moving family dinner up 30 minutes or back 30 minutes to create more time for bedtime routines or more time for dinner prep.

It might also mean you need to eliminate something from your schedule or relax your schedule on something. One of the biggest critiques to Babywise or scheduling in general that I hear is that it lacks flexibility. My thoughts are that if you have a schedule, YOU are in charge of it and can flex it to fit your needs. If it were just a free-for-all every day, I would feel like I am serving the day more than my day serving me.

Ultimately, I think it is important to remember why you use a schedule in the first place. For me, it is because it helps meet the needs of my whole family, not just a baby or child, and it keeps my family running on a long-term basis as well as a daily basis.

Related Posts:


Carrie has four kids and blogs at Wiley Adventures    

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Check me out over at The Moses Home today--I am talking about the dreamfeed. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

November Date Accountability

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Here is our summary and accoutability report of our parent/child dates for the month of November. This month, I had Brinley and McKenna and Nate had Kaitlyn and Brayden. 

Brayden (age 10)
The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, so the saying goes. This is true with a boy, also. Brayden chose to go to Pizza Pie Cafe with Nate this month. Brayden loves that place. If you don't know, it is an all you can eat pizza place. 

Kaitlyn (age 8) 
Kaitlyn and Nate went to a local place called The Jump Zone. This place is full of trampolines and foam pits and things like that to play in. She loved it and said she wants to do that every time she has a date with her dad. This brought discussion to us on exactly how much we want to spend for each date night. Right now, we just try to not have big stuff every month because it adds up. The Jump Zone is on the bigger side--it isn't huge financially, but it is little either. We don't have a solid conclusion, other than we are sticking with it can't be big every month. 


McKenna (age 6)
McKenna and I went to the Nutcracker ballet. McKenna loves watching the ballet. I am not such a big fan myself. I am happy to say, though, that I found the Nutcracker entertaining and would happily watch it again. Before the ballet, we spent some time doing some shopping. 



Brinley (age 3)
I always find figuring what Brinley and I should do difficult. She is too young for a lot of the bigger and more exciting types of things. She and I spend every day together. We play games, we play with toys, we do art projects, we cook...we just do a lot together each and every day. Truth be told, we probably don't need a special date day between the two of us. She gets a lot of time and attention from me already. But we do it anyway, and she does get very excited if it is called a "date."

For Brinley's birthday (back a few months ago), my mom and I had gotten her the same toy. So one has been sitting waiting to go back and be exchanged for something different. Brinley and I went and exchanged her toy for our date. We spent a lot of time looking at all of the toys while she decided what to get. Then we got a small treat. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Brinley Preschooler Summary: 40 Months Old

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This is a summary for Brinley from 39-40 Months Old.

SLEEPING
I tend to be overly cautious with the potty training during sleep. With Brayden, we went straight to underwear for naps and night when potty training, but with my other children, I am slow to jump to that ship. I just don't want to complicate life with an extra load of laundry each day.

But at some point, you have to give it a whirl. I decided to try Brinley out at naps with no diaper. She has never had a problem! (knock on wood). It has been so nice with getting her ready for a nap to not have to change her into a diaper. That has also led to her requesting to stay in her clothes for naps instead of changing into PJs like she always has. That has also helped immensely with the nap routine. 

EATING
Eating is good. She definitely has times when you can tell she is saying she is done eating just because she is looking forward to playing something after she is done eating. 

PLAYING
Playing is good with nothing new to report.

COLD
Brinley had a cold this month. She always gets a bad-sounding cough when she gets a cold. I decided to try out some children's musinex for her. It was amazing! It helped clear her lungs out and helped her cold go away faster. I ended up buying some for adults, too, for me to try out the next time I get a cold. 

STORY CUBES
I have to tell you about a great game I have discovered. Every Sunday, we have a tradition where our family plays a game together. As you can imagine, it can be tricky finding a game that is age-appropriate for a 3 year old and yet entertaining to a 10 year old. I recently purchased a game called Story Cubes. It is really simple. You have the dice that each has a picture on it. You roll the dice and tell a story that involves each of the pictures. All of the kids loved it, even Brinley. She loved listening to our made up stories and got a big kick out of making up her own story. You can see how animated she got.


NUTCRACKER TEA PARTY
Each year, I take my girls to the Nutcracker Tea Party. The local ballet company has a tea party before their matinee performances where you can mingle with characters and get your photo taken. This was Brinley's first year to go. She loved the tea party. I then stayed with McKenna, who loves ballets, to watch the Nutcracker. Nate took the other girls home. Brinley later told me she really wanted to see the Nutcracker ballet. Since, she has been requesting I turn the Nutcracker music on and she is dancing to it. I think I will take her to the matinee next year. I felt like she was a little young this year. 


SWIMMING LESSONS
Brinley is doing well with swimming lessons. She doesn't love it. She will say she doesn't want to go and she might even cry during her entire lesson. But she does everything her teacher asks her to do (even while crying) and she can float on her back and on her face. She will even kick and propel herself on her back. Again, all while whimpering. 

SCHEDULE
Here is our typical schedule:

8:45 AM--wake up/eat breakfast/scriptures
9:15 AM--get ready for day
9:30 AM--watch 30 minutes of TV (usually Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood)
10:00 AM--Independent Playtime
11:15ish AM--Learning time
12:00 noon--Lunch
12:30 PM--free play
1:30/2:00ish PM--Nap
4:30/5:00 PM--Wake up and free play
5:30 PM--Dinner
6:00 PM--Family time
8:00 PM--Get ready for bed
8:30 PM--Bedtime

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Super Baby Food Cookbook {Giveaway!}

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This is a sponsored post. I received this book for free to review it in exchange for this product. This post contains affiliate links.

I have talked about the book Super Baby Food on this blog several times. I love the book! The author, Ruth Yaron, has just released a Super Baby Food cookbook. Hurray! This book is full of recipes for baby on up through children. The recipes include full color photos, which I always love in a cookbook. It is also much smaller than the big purple book, which is handy for using in the kitchen and/or taking around with you when on the go.

This is kind of like the Cliff's Notes version of the original book. If you want healthy food ideas for your baby and don't need the massive amounts of information in that book, you can get this book and just put it into action. 

Or if you are like me and love the massive amounts of information but also love photos for recipes, this is a great addition to the Super Baby Food book you already have. 

In the Super Baby Food Cookbook readers will find:

  1. Nutritious, delicious and easy to follow recipes that include favorite ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, as well as recipes for smoothies, nut milks, granola, and mock ice cream—many the whole family will enjoy!
  2. A bonus of  “healthy extra” tips and how to use them in recipes, including chia seeds, wheat germ sprinkles, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and more. 
  3. Super Baby Food recipes come to life, from the simplest Avocado Smash to the infamous “Super Porridge,” to complete breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.

If you want to know my thoughts on the original book, see this post: Book Review: Super Baby Food

You can enter to win your own copy below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Entry Rules
  • You must enter the giveaway to have an entry.
  • No entries are mandatory--you can enter using one or all options. But as I said, you do have to enter to have at least one entry.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 12:00 AM December 12, 2015.
  • The winner will be randomly selected through Rafflecopter.
  • The winner will be announced sometime after the winner is chosen. I will email the winner.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back and/or check your email. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time.
  • I will not use your email address for any purpose other than contacting you if you are the winner (and FYI, I don't have access to the email addresses except for the winner).
  • US or Canada shipping addresses only.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

All I Want For Christmas...

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Christmas is coming and with it a variety of new things to think about. I have some posts to help you out with unique things you will face, from striving to keep the Christmas spirit in your home to striving to keep the peace at family gatherings ;). 


You know I love to organize. Here is how I choose what gifts to get and how I organize it all. It includes FREE printables!



Many of us have concern for how to keep the Christmas spirit in our homes. Here are some ideas to help you focus on the reason for the season. 


Before we can really keep that spirit, we have to identify why there is that spirit to strive to keep. Here are five ways to teach the reason for the season.


Are you having troubles with Christmas tree touching? Here is a post to help you figure out how to keep the ornaments on the bottom half of your tree.


Christmas is a great time to focus on Jesus Christ, but it isn't the only time. Here are some ways to teach about him year round

One night, I woke in the middle of the night with this poem in my head. I couldn't get it out and so I wrote the ideas down. This poem speaks of the symbols of Christmas.


Are you feeling conflicted about Santa? Here is a guest post from Gary Ezzo sharing his thoughts on the dilemma. 


Of course with the many holidays and the visiting of family comes the well-intentioned but often difficult comments that come your way. There are also differences of opinion on what is best for your child. Here are some tips for dealing with the difficult family members

Now, Christmas brings with it other facets that impact life. One is travel. I have a lot of posts on travel:

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