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Easy Paint Edger {Friday Finds}

Once upon a time, years ago, I was browsing Pinterest. I saw a pin for an item that helped you paint easier--without taping or having to have the steady hand. I thought it looked amazing but went on my merry way.

Flash forward to 2017. We are doing an addition on our home. We are in part adding a large room to our already existing great room. Fantastic! One slight problem. The current great room was a beige color, and I am long since over and past beige in my life. So the new room would not be painted beige. I knew the old great room would need to be repainted so the rooms matched, but I also knew getting my husband's help would not be possible for a long time with the painting.

See, he is the "cutter." He goes along the ceiling and does the line without taping. I do the taping on the moldings and pain the edges with my paintbrush. But taping takes forever! 

I needed to be able to paint all by myself without waiting for my husband. I also needed to be able to do it in a reasonable time frame because of the kids needing things like food and all. 

So I turned to Amazon and searched for painting tools. And I found it. The tool to change my life. Life changing find coming your way! This post contains affiliate links.

I read the reviews and some said the product didn't work. I read one review that made a lot of sense. Basically that it is a tool and learning to use tools takes some work and practice. That made sense and worked for me! Buy!

Life changing!
I painted the great room almost entirely by myself. I didn't have to tape! And the edges look even better than when I have taped things in the past! I had to have Nate go along the ceiling edge and do some cutting because the ceiling is textured and I couldn't get right up to the edge because of that. It only took him about 30 minutes, though. I painted that large room faster by myself than Nate and I did our small office together.
Here are my tips for this tool:
  • Before you paint the walls, clean your base moldings.
  • Then paint the base moldings. Make sure you get the molding color up onto the wall some. 
  • Go along the top corner along the ceiling/wall and paint it with your ceiling paint. This should help so you don't need a cutter at all. 
  • Read the instructions for the product and follow them. 
  • Keep a damp washcloth by you when painting so you can quickly fix any mistakes that might come. 
  • Make sure the tool stays clean. If you get paint on the parts that block the brush from your moldings or walls, then you will get paint on those places! Keep it all clean. 
My world is opened and I am excited to tackle the rest of my house! Time to update it all. 

How to Have a Fun Summer Even With a Routine

How to Have a Fun Family Summer Even With a Routine

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Life gets super busy, and a break sounded super nice. So we did it. We started summer with no routine plan at all. Each day would be "winged." It would be so nice! We would be able to relax and just roll with life! After a very busy spring (as spring always is for us), we would live it up with little to no structure!


As you might imagine, a family who typically is very structured doesn't land well on a long-term plan of "winging" things. Winging things can be great for a time. A short time. Maybe that means a day for you you. Maybe a week. But at some point, we all need direction. We don't even "wing" vacations, why would I think the full summer would be a good idea?!? I had grumpiness and bickering among the ranks, which really isn't an everyday thing at our house. Structure sounds stuffy and like it removes all fun, but there can still be fun and even relaxation with structure!

There is a way to have flexibility built in to your schedule and still have a schedule. There is a way to relax and still have order to life. You don't have to wing every step in order to chill.

You have to know yourself and play to your strengths. I am not good at being spontaneous. It just isn't a talent of mine! People often ooh and ahh over my ability to organize, but a huge driving factor for my organizational efforts is that I am not spontaneous. Approaching summer "spontaneously" meant nothing got done because I totally blank when faced with life without a plan. My strength in life is planning ahead and I thrive with routine and structure. If I want to thrive as a mom, I need to plan ahead. Even if that planning means planning spontaneity.

1-Plan In Relaxing Time
Just because you have a routine doesn't mean you can't relax. Schedule relaxing into the plan. Make it part of the routine. Maybe that means you have every afternoon of the summer totally unplanned. Maybe that means you take the first week and totally stay in pajamas all day every day and do whatever seems fun. Maybe that means you take a day each week and make it unplanned and spontaneous. Think about it and figure out what works for you. Something we love to do in summer that is fully planned but also fully relaxing is Sustained Silent Reading. Basically, everyone reads to themselves at the same time.

2-Keep The Planned Routine Flexible
In summer planning, I like to keep things more in "routine" than in "schedule" mode when I can. I plan more of an order to the day with a general idea of when we should be starting things than planning exact times.

This has been more true as my children have aged. When I had a nursing baby, things were much more structured. I had to feed baby at certain times. But you can make the time between feedings more flexible.

So you can say, "Between breakfast and lunch each day, I want us to get chores done, get ready for the day, have outside play time, and have learning time." One day, we might spend more time outside and less time on learning time, while another day might be a lot more time on the learning time. Have anchor points in the days (meals make great anchor points), but don't worry about planning exact time slots for everything else.

3-Plan in Spontaneity
I know. It sounds like that can't work. But it can! Plan days or events that you spring on your kids for fun surprises. Those can be days you throw the normal routine out the window and go for the surprise. Maybe you will have a day at the splash pad or local pool. If you have young ones who still depend on naps, do half days or just a couple of hours instead of full days. These days or events will help break up the monotony and throw some excitement into the weeks.
How to Have a Fun Family Summer Even With a Routine

4-Keep a Master List of Fun and Relaxing Activities
This could be considered a bucket list. What are the things you want to get done this summer? Where would you like to go, what would you like to do, what would you like to see? Make the list and refer to it every so often to get ideas for fun and relaxing things to do.

5-Have Some One-on-One Dates
I am big on parent/child dates. If you have a baby at home, it can be harder to get out of the house as much, which can leave summer feeling rigid and no fun. If you have one-on-one dates, one parent can take an older child out to do something fun while the other stays back with the baby to keep baby on the routine she needs.

On that note, keep in mind that children do not need as grand of activities as we think they do to enjoy something. A backyard water party can be fun and spontaneous to a child. Storytime in the shade of your tree can be a fun, relaxing mix-up to your regular old couch.

You can have the best of both worlds this summer. You can have time for relaxing, lazy days or days of major fun while still having a routine as part of your day to day living. It is simple to do, with a little planning ;) .

The ladies of the BFBN are talking about summer today. Check their posts out today, too!

I Remember Him Still

still birth

I think of him every single day. Some people raise their eyebrows in surprise when they hear that. But any parent only needs to ponder it for a moment and imagine themselves in that position. Then they understand. They realize they would, too. It isn't just once each day, like it pops in my head at some point each day. It is throughout each day. Every day.

I think of him as continuously as I think of any of my other children. Because he is mine. Today marks 11 years since I lost my baby Braxston. He was stillborn. Each year on his "birthday," I write about him. Often times I write something in an effort to be helpful about this type of process. 

Allow Grief to Be FeltNot Less Painful--Just Better At Handling ItTraditions for Lost Child's Birthday. Other times, I haven't been able to say much more than I am hurting (Stillbirth: Still Painful 9 Years Later). 

This year, I just want to say that he was. And he is. 

He was and is my baby. He was and is a brother. He was and is a part of our family. Throughout each year, I report on what is going on with each of my children. Each of them except one.

He was and is a part of our daily conversation at our house. I don't think a day goes by that we don't talk about Braxston in some way. The children will also tell anyone and everyone about him. "How many brothers and sisters do you have?" is a questions Brinley is often asked. "I have two sisters and one brother. I also have a brother who died" is the theme of her response each time. That usually draws a startled look from the inquirer. 

He was and he is.

We talk about him. We don't tiptoe around him. 

Each year, to celebrate his birthday in a happy way, we go to the cemetery and bring flowers. Sometimes we bring a toy. We then grab pizza and go to the best park in the valley. It isn't close to our home so we don't go often. It is Braxton's park. It is where we have fun together to remember him. 

This year, McKenna and I bought the flowers. She wanted tulips, and they had to be white because he is with the angels. The cashier commented on how beautiful they are and asked what they are for. "They are for our brother. He died" McKenna replied cheerfully. The cashier searched for something to say, and I simply smiled kindly at her. It is okay. 

He was and he is. 

He is. 

And he will be. Forever. 


How to Organize Your Cleaning Schedule

Cleaning is a chore that never ends. It seems like you can never be done where you feel like there isn't another list in the back of your head of things that could be cleaned (hi, blinds). You have to figure out what works for you, your standards, and your time available. Here are some ideas of ways to organize your cleaning.

1-Have a 10 Minute Cleaning Every Day
This is an age-old tip, and there is a reason for that! Give yourself ten minutes to get as much picking up as you can. You can get a surprising amount done in ten minutes, and it is easy to focus for only ten minutes. This is also helpful to do at the end of the day after the kids have gone to bed. You can look at all there is to do and feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Dedicate ten minutes to it and you will be waking up to things much cleaner!

2-Decide on a Weekly Schedule
There are all sorts of ways to set up your cleaning schedule, and I have done many of them. Honestly different ways work better at different points in my life. My personal favorite way is to do all of the main cleaning in one day each week. That is my cleaning day. I like everything to feel clean all at once.

That hasn't always been feasible, however. There were a lot of years when I had to do some each day. Those were the years when my children were younger. I just couldn't focus on cleaning for a whole day, so I had to have a job each day of the week. One day was dusting. One day was bathrooms. One day was floors. So find what works for you right now in your season and go with that. It is okay if things change and even if they change often. 

3-Make a Plan for Deep Cleaning
Not everything is done every week. Have a list and a game plan for when you will do things like clean the blinds, moldings, curtains, washing machine, etc. You can do some each week, some each month, or have 2-4 times a year you have a big cleaning day that hits those things. 

4-Add Your Children Where You Can
In the young years, having your child have jobs absolutely makes cleaning take longer. For sure. I promise, promise, promise that it is 100% worth that effort. I promise. As your children get older, you have less time to clean and they make bigger messes. You need their help if you want to do more than clean up behind people. There are of course many benefits to your child for learning to clean and contributing to the home, but for now, I am talking about your time and how it is spent. For more on this, see:
There are a lot of fun printables on Pinterest for cleaning. I have a lot of ideas pinned on my cleaning board if you want a place to start.

Related Posts: 

A Mother's Impact on Her Daughter

Being a mother can be difficult. It is hard enough to just get through the day-to-day cooking, cleaning, running errands, bathing, dressing, etc. without adding in the stresses of what type of life-long impact we might be having on our children.

We can't be ostriches in the sand, however. Mothers have a huge impact on their daughters, and that will remain true whether we face it or not. It is better to acknowledge it and be aware of it so we can do our best to have a positive impact on our daughters rather than a negative one. We as mothers can be instruments in the hands of God if we only tune ourselves and be ready. 

Self Image
The biggest single impact that comes to mind when I think of a mother's impact on her daughter is that of self-image. Experts agree time and time again that the way a woman talks about and treats her daughter has a profound effect on what she will grow to think of herself. Girls are impacted by our talk younger than we might realize.
"According to a Wall Street Journareport, one study found 80% of ten-year-old girls had already dieted to lose weight, and another found that girls as young as five have a preoccupation with body image. " source

It isn't just about how we talk about our daughters; it is also how we talk about ourselves. Women get all up in arms about Barbie or the media giving their daughters complexes. Those things have very little impact in comparison to the impact of a mother. 
""Moms are probably the most important influence on a daughter's body image," said Dr. Leslie Sim, clinical director of Mayo Clinic's eating disorders program and a child psychologist. " source
What is a mother to do? Don't talk about weight. Don't do it. Not at all. Don't talk about your daughter's weight or your neighbor's weight. Don't let your mom or your husband's mom talk about their weight and need to lose weight in front of your daughter. If you are like me, then the generation before you ALWAYS talks about their weight and their latest diet. I have expressed to my mother and my mother-in-law that I am absolutely not okay with them talking about those things in front of my girls, but it is a rule I have to remind them of time and time again. 

Here is the thing. Much of how we look is genetic, right? Yes there are lifestyle changes that impact things, but there are many genetic components to how we look that we can't control much. Some day, your daughter will start to have those same genetics impact her. And what will happen? She will remember you or grandma talking about how terrible that trait is, and she will either succumb and hate that about herself or she will fight herself every day to not succumb and hate that about herself. 

We must be intentional about not criticizing ourselves and our weight. I know for many of us, we grew up with that talk and the inner voice telling us how terrible we look is strong. The cycle must be broken at some point. It might as well be you.

For more on this topic, see:

Number One Role Model
A mother is a girl's number one role model. From her, she learns how to be a woman and mother herself. She learns how to treat other people. She observes how to respond in social situations. She is an apprentice to become a mother herself one day. She will learn how to view everything in the world of a woman, from make-up to menstruating. 
“Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance that there is love in the world.” David O. McKay
The phrase "I'm turning into my mother" exists for a reason. The emulating is usually not even intentional. Women act like their mothers, even when they don't want to. 
image source

You have a huge impact on who your daughters will become. Take that responsibility seriously and do your best each day to be a woman your daughter will hope to be like. 

Health Impacts
I came across some articles discussing the literal physical impact mothers have on their daughters, specifically their daughters' health. Read How Mothers Influence Their Daughters for more.

With all of this said, I do believe there is a great amount of grace that is applied to being a mother. We don't need to be perfect; we just need to be doing our best. 
"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children." M. Russell Ballard
Be aware of the real impact you have on your daughter. Strive your best to be a positive impact on her, and in instrument for good in her life.

See also:

Where is the guilt coming from?

 Fighting the body image battle for our daughters

 Fighting the body image battle

 A Mother's Impact on her Son

4 Essential Oil Diffuser Perks {Friday Finds}

I love the smell of skunk. One whiff and it takes me right back to driving through Wyoming. Wyoming meant grandparents, family, and fun. Every time we made the trek to Wyoming, we smelled skunk, and even today, when I smell skunk on the road, it brings me back to that feeling of excited anticipation.

The sense of smell is powerful.
"A number of behavioral studies have demonstrated that smells trigger more vivid emotional memories and are better at inducing that feeling of “being brought back in time” than images. " source
This post contains affiliate links.

This past December, I finally jumped on the train of using a diffuser for essential oils. I have been using doTERRA essential oils for four years, but had not yet tried the diffuser. We only got "aromatic" in our application by smelling it from the bottle and maybe rubbing it on a hand. With Christmas approaching, and me owning a fake Christmas tree, I was pushed to finally give the diffuser a try.

You know when you finally try something and then wonder why in the world you thought so long about it before actually trying it? The diffuser has been that for me. I initially bought one for the house. After having it a short time, it was clear we needed a lot because everyone wanted it in their rooms at night. In the course of a month and a half, we went from trying one out to owning six. Yep. Six. That number will grow!

Oh my how much I love it! Seriously, love. The diffuser really utilizes the ability for essential oils to reach you emotionally. My hands-down favorite oil to diffuse for smell is Citrus Bliss. I also really like Lime and the blend Cheer. Then of course you have fun smells at different times of year, like Cinnamon and various Firs at Christmas. Here are my favorite uses for the essential oils in a diffuser:

  • Change mood. Need kids to calm down? Use a calming oil. Need them to wake up in the morning? Use a nice citrus oil or peppermint. Need to keep yourself focused? Put an essential oil in while you work (I almost always have it on when I am blogging these days).
  • Disperse OnGuard. I love OnGaurd for protecting against sickness. I have found the diffuser the most effective way to use it.
  • Make things smell good. I like my house to smell good, and this is a way to do it that is a safe way to get the smell through the house. 
  • Help with sleep. Sometimes we have had a busy day and the kids are getting to bed late. Or sometimes a big day is coming up the next day and I want to be sure sleep comes easily and stays solidly for the night. Those are nights I use Serenity in the diffuser. 
In my kids' rooms, I like to diffuse On Guard like crazy. Any time one of them is sick, I diffuse the On Guard through the night in every bedroom. During the play, I had it going all night every night to prevent sickness (none came even though sickness was going through the cast like crazy!). Sometimes we do the blend Serenity to help anyone having a hard time sleeping at night. I love diffusing so much that every bedroom in my house now has a diffuser (two in our master bedroom since it is larger), as does my office. doTERRA of course sells diffusers. I bought this one from Amazon and really like it. There are two different models of the same diffuser. I bought one, then bought one more and it was a little different, then bought three all at once and one was one way and two were the other. I have liked them both, though they have some slight differences and I also think it is very strange that there are different versions being sold.

I plan to get my next one from doTERRA just to get one that can cover a larger area. The one I have is great for a smaller room, but I want something that can fill a large room (like our new family room, which should be done very soon! Follow me on Instagram to track the progress). Also, I think if you are not totally positive you will love using a diffuser, it is nice to go with something less expensive initially. As a side note, the one I have can light up, but you can use it with no lights at all. That was a must for me with them being in my kids' rooms at night.

In the past, when I have recommended an oil for you, I have linked to the oil on Amazon. I recently decided to start selling them myself and sending you directly to doTERRA. It isn't a decision I came to lightly. I literally went to their corporate headquarters and toured the facility for a day. I analyzed every detail. I saw where the customer service reps work and walked among them. I saw their break room. I ate in their cafeteria. I saw where they bottle the oils and where the scientists test the oils. I saw where the oils are stored before they are shipped out (that room is a major sensory overload for the olfactories!). I walked through the board room and saw the main offices. I learned about their efforts to give back to people all over the world. I was impressed with the company, the moral I felt throughout, and their practices and procedures. Above all, it had a good feeling.

That evening, when I got home and was perusing Facebook, I came across a post on how easy it is to swap out oils. There are apparently sellers on Amazon selling oils that have either been swapped out or diluted in some way under the guise that they are doTERRA oils. The video showed how simple it is to do so. Because of this and because of the rise of fake oils being sold, doTERRA came out and asked their consultants to not sell on Amazon.

That was the final tipping point for me. I felt good about the company, I know I love the products. Like I said, I have been happily using them for four years. I already recommend them to you and I didn't feel good about sending you readers to Amazon for the oils anymore. I don't have to carry inventory; when you order, it ships from doTERRA to you. So I am essentially becoming an affiliate for doTERRA . A perk of buying from doTERRA instead of Amazon is you can get the promotional offers. You can get free oils and other products when you order so much. I always like free!

You can buy oils here at my doTERRA site. If you chose to buy doTERRA oils through my link, I will get a percentage of your sale, but that doesn't change your cost at all. As with anything else I talk about, if you have any questions about essential oils, let me know and I will help you out! You can just buy as a retail customer. You can also buy as a wholesale customer, so you get oils cheaper and can get the free oil of the month if you spend enough money. Another cool thing is your shipping costs are recouped as product credit points. Or you can become an advocate yourself and get all of the same perks, plus get a percentage of what people buy from you.

To read more about my doTERRA thoughts, see my doTERRA page on this blog. You can create happy associations with smells for your kids with oils and a diffuser! You can probably even make it smell better than a skunk ;). 

Preschoolers and Naps

In the preschool age group, "naps" vary among the children more than any other age group. One three year old may be done napping 99% of the time while the next three year old turns into a swamp monster if the nap is missed. This post contains affiliate links. If you read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (affiliate link) under preschool naps, you will see that "Years Three to Six: Naps Disappear" (page 338). Guys, that is a three year spread of when naps disappear. Remember the spread of dropping to one nap? 14-20 months of age seemed like a huge range. Instead of six months, we are talking three years. So how exactly do you navigate the naps for your individual preschooler?

What Age Will Your Preschooler Drop the Nap?
As I just said, the age of dropped naps is a three year spread. While it is normal to have the age of dropping the nap spread quite a bit, there are some very common consistencies.
  • Most three year olds still nap (91 percent according to Weissbluth). 
  • Half of the four year olds will still nap.
  • Only about 25 percent of the five year olds still nap. 
  • Most six year olds do not nap (page 338).
For most of you, your child will stop napping as a four year old. There are outliers. Some will stop at three and some will stop at 6. Four is a good anchor age, however. 

What Are Signs Your Preschooler is Ready to Drop the Nap?
Look for signs of readiness that your preschooler is ready to drop the nap time; however, always remember you are the parent. Most preschoolers aren't going to thank you for having nap time each day. Some might love it. I had one child who was that way. Some might seem kind of neutral or just resigned to understanding that is life. I had one like that, also. Many will hate it and fight with every ounce of power they have--even mentally and physically. I had two who used every ability of cunning as could be dreamed up to try to get out of naps. I say that to say, you need to lead out on when it is dropped, not your child. You are the parent and you get to decide. Decide based on your observation skills. 

  • Your preschooler will stop napping altogether, or may still nap but stop sleeping well at night. If the latter is the case, you might start with shortening the nap rather than cutting it altogether.
  • If you drop the nap and your child slowly gets less obedient and more grumpy, do not write it off as being a "three year old" or "emotional four year old." There is an excellent chance your child is acting out because he/she wasn't actually ready to not nap at all.
Please be wary of dropping a nap in order to add in extra-curricular activities. If your child is truly ready to drop and activities are available to do at the old nap time, that is totally fine. Do not, however, drop a nap in order to start an activity. If you can't move that nap, do not do the activity. I promise delaying the activity by a year will not prevent your child from a lifetime of happiness and achievement in that area. 

What Should You Do When Your Preschooler is Ready to Drop the Nap?

  • Be aware that you will likely need to add sleep to your child's night. This might mean an earlier bedtime, and/or it might mean your child needs to sleep in later in the morning. If neither of these things is possible in your life at the moment, hold off on dropping that nap. 
  • Keep a rest time. Rest time is your insurance policy to provide a time for naps to happen as needed. They also allow your child to get a mental and physical break even if not sleeping. My youngest is currently four years old, and she cannot have a skipped rest time and maintain being pleasant past 7 PM. If we have something scheduled beyond 7 PM, I am absolutely sure to get rest time in there. 
Related Posts: 
How to do rest time instead of naps

 How to know when your child is ready to stop napping

Birthday Parties {Poll Discussion Post}

While you can always change things up as you go along in parenting, starting off with a solid game plan you can live with is definitely helpful when it comes to establishing your birthday party traditions. Younger children will expect that they will have the same opportunities for birthday parties that the older children had, and older children will quickly notice if you vary things for the younger siblings. Life circumstances change often, and I am not suggesting that birthday party policies absolutely can't change. I am saying it is nice to start the policies with some plans and with your eyes as wide open as possible so you can make the most informed decision you can.

Your answers and ideas can help other parents make these decisions for themselves! Please take a moment to answer the questions below. Doing so will help other parents now and in the future. 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-How often do you (or do you plan to) let your child have a birthday party with friends (for example, every year, every other year, on certain key ages, etc.)?
2-How long do you like the party to be (please include the age of the child)?
3-How much notice do you give guests (in other words, how long before the party do you pass out invitations)?
4-Do you limit the number of guests? And if so, what is your limit?
5-When you do a friend party, how do you work in family? Do you invite them along, have a separate party, not do a family party that year, etc.?
6-Any tips for a successful party? Themes, locations, resources, etc.?

For some of my thoughts on these topics, see:
 Friend Birthday Party Tips

McKenna Child Summary: 8 Years Old!

This is a summary for McKenna from 7.75-8 years old. She is now 8!

Eating is great! Same as ever.

Sleeping is great. It is the same. For those who don't know or don't remember, McKenna needs a lot of sleep. She is a high sleep needs person. I find people manifest things differently for their sleep needs not being met, and the way McKenna shows she isn't getting enough sleep is by debating, arguing, and flat out disobeying. So I am mindful to make sure her norm is to get enough sleep. She is a great sleeper, so it is just up to me to make sure she is in bed on time.

School is great! At McKenna's parent/teacher conference last fall, her teacher challenged her to work on having nicer handwriting. McKenna can write nicely, but she often rushes so fast that it is sloppy. She took that challenge and worked to improve her handwriting.

It is so nice! At her parent/teacher conference in February, her teacher commented how she has continually written her best since the last conference. She also commented that she was surprised because most of the time kids will start on a goal, then go back to their old habits, especially with handwriting. She said she rarely has a child who continues to write nicely months later. 

For those of you with a strong-willed child, I think this is just one example of the positive that can come from that personality trait. They are persistent and tenacious. When they set a goal, they meet that goal and they stick to it. Those personalities can be hard, but with patience and guidance, they can be unstoppable in all the right ways!

McKenna continued with swim team and loves it! She had to take March off because the swim team times changed and overlapped her other activities, but she is back on. Brayden has since been moved up to the Gold B swim team, so with that and the practice times changing, they aren't the same time anymore (wah). 

McKenna still has dance. That has been just rehearsals so far. She also still has piano. Again, just practices and lessons.

She did the musical at the school and was a cute lost boy ensemble member. 

She played basketball and had a great time doing that. 

School Schedule:

7:00 AM--wake up. Eat breakfast. Get ready. Do morning chores. Read scriptures. Practice piano.
9:15 AM--school starts
4:00 PM--home from school. Homework. Then free play.
5:30 PM--Dinner. Then time with family.
7:00 PM Start getting ready for bed.
8:00 PM--in be

How To Successfully Do a Technology Fast

I expected weeping and wailing. Gnashing of teeth. I at least expected gasps of utter horror.

Instead I got nonchalant, "Okay" responses from my children. My four-year old may have furrowed her brow in consternation a bit, but no words were uttered.

I had made the announcement. We were going to have a technology fast. 

A fast. To abstain from. Completely. 

No television. No movies. No devices. No video games.


For an entire week. 

We already limit technology at our house. 3 hours a week per child of video game/device time. Maybe a movie each week. Rarely television during school weeks. Like, maybe one evening a week if they do that instead of the movie. 

Even so, the kids were addicted. Technology was the only thing they could think to do. We probably had some extra technology time with the extra harsh winter we were going through, but not by much. All they could think to do was watch TV or play video games. 

So we needed a little detox session. 

A little into the fast, Kaitlyn made a comment one more that everyone was so happy. Brayden piped in and said it was because we were doing the technology fast and having no screen time made everyone happier. Kaitlyn then asked if we could do a technology fast every month and Brayden agreed.  

Here are the details of the fast.

Step 1: Start with a warning
I told my kids one week before the fast that we would be going without technology for a week. This gave them plenty of time to process the idea and mentally prepare themselves. I of course reminded them periodically throughout the week, and the night before. 

When you give your warning, your children might ask why you will be doing that. Brayden asked me. I was fully honest with him. I had been doing my research for my 

Rules for Balancing Screen Time post and explained the situation to him. Technology has been found to be as addictive as drugs, and at times we might need to cut back to help ourselves maintain control over ourselves. 

Step 2: Start the fast on the start day
This is a simple task! Remind the family that the technology fast is starting.

Step 3: Stick to the fast
Stick to the fast! No screens for no reason. There will be things that come up that leave you wishing you chose a different day. Stay strong! Do not cheat! You are DEtoxing. You can't sprinkle it in there when it seems convenient and expect to get detoxed. 

During our fast, Brayden had a swim meet. Swim meets are loooong (hours) and they are not the kind of event that draw you in the whole time. You get excited when your swimmer swims, which lasts half a minute to a couple of minutes depending on the distance. You might look up if there are a lot of cheers for other swims, but for the most part, you do a lot of sitting. We typically let the girls do some movie watching during a swim meet. Couldn't do this one!

Kaitlyn and McKenna had already taken up weaving through the week since they were doing no technology, so they had their weaving stuff with them. Brinley did some coloring, looking at books, and some sitting on my lap harassing me. It was definitely harder with her without the technology to distract her, but it wasn't a terrible, horrible experience. 

Step 4: Point out the happy feelings that come
Just like Brayden pointed it out for us, when people have that extra perk in their step, find a great new hobby, or have fun inventing a new game, point out how they were able to do it all thanks to the technology fast. 

Step 5: Repeat when necessary
We really are doing a fast for one week of each month, and it is so worth it! Repeat your own fast as needed.

A technology fast can be hard, but it is a great way to help break obsessive focus on technology in the home. You might be afraid and expect that gnashing like I did, but you will definitely find positive results if you give it a go.

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Great Bicycles You Can Buy From Amazon {Friday Finds}

I am a major online shopper. Big time. I don't just go to the internet, randomly pick something, and purchase it. No. I get an idea of what I want. I do some research. I read reviews. I put my top 3-5 contenders in a wish list.

Then I wait. I wait for a while.

I think about it. 

Then after I feel like I have thought long enough, I decide and buy.

Sometimes I think about it for well over a year. 

That's why I like to shop online. It allows me to over-analyze the purchase. Plus it helps that the things get delivered right to my door!!!

And these bicycles were no different. We spent our years heading to Walmart and grabbing a bike and crossing our fingers. Didn't usually end well (did it ever end well???...). I changed and went to online shopping. The whole over-analyzing thing. These are bikes that have stood the test of time. These are bikes that can be passed down among the children because they will last that long. This post contains affiliate links.

We have owned this bike two times; we owned it once for Brayden in boy version and we now have one for McKenna in girl version. We have never had any issues between the two  bicycles and I would totally buy this again. This is a great style for a child who likes to ride hard. This bike retails for 125-ish. Don't pay more! I have seen it listed for far more than that.  Right now, it is on sale for $99.99. 

This is Kaitlyn's current bike and she completely loves it. She finds it comfortable and of course being stylish matters to her. Since it is a cruiser, it is of course great for the child who likes to be relaxed in riding. Again, no issues with this bike and we would totally get it again. This is currently on sale for $93.49.

This is Brayden's current bike. It has been a great bike and we haven't had any problems with it. I would get it again and the price is great! 

There you have our current bikes. We have had them all for over a year. They have lasted through the weather and the treatment of children. One of them (the first) is one we have had for many years (we still have Brayden's version) and it is in fantastic shape. The seats are all still in one piece and the bikes look good (one bike we got from Walmart had its seat in pieces by the end of the summer...). So I am all around happy with these!

Tips to get solid twin naps {Guest Post}

By Kimberly Cartwright

I hear all the time how lucky I am that all my children nap at the same time.  I am blessed with decent sleepers, but that is just part of it.  If we are being totally honest here I had to put a lot of work and deliberate planning into getting my children to nap at the same time.  Twins are not born on the same schedule.  Fraternal twins are 'regular' siblings that happen to be born at the same time.  Identical twins might share DNA, but they do not share personalities.  This means you have two distinct little people who might have different napping tendencies.  You can let them nap on their own, but that could mean someone is always napping.  That also means someone is always awake.  I love my kids, but I need my time during the day to get things done!  I needed to get my twins on the same schedule for our whole family to function well.

Getting one child on a schedule can have challenges, and getting two on the same schedule can sound impossible.  Don't worry.  I am here to help you out.  You can get your twins to nap at the same time.  It is possible, and it happens in my house every day.  You might have to make some adjustments to how you do things, and you will have to prioritize.  It is hard when one baby doesn't nap well, and you have two babies to handle.  You need to give your babies and yourself some grace, and maybe lower your nap standards a bit. But you will get there.  I am not an expert, but I do have a set of twins that nap successfully.  Here is how I got my twins on a solid nap schedule.

To begin with, you need to think ahead.  Naps in the first six months change relatively frequently.  You go from four to three to two pretty fast.  Once you hit two naps a day you tend to stay there for a decent chunk of time.  Then you move to one nap for a couple of years.  I like to look at where I would like that one nap to be.  I know you can't predict a few years down the line, but adjusting what is already working is much easier than starting from scratch with a toddler.  That one nap is going to be your anchor.  This is the nap you want to make the most important one of the day.  It should be in the babies' bed as much as possible.  You want to utilize all your night time sleep aids you feel comfortable using- white noise, swaddles, pacifiers- whatever you feel is best.  You will want to be home as much as possible for this nap.  Schedule your day around it.  This time is going to be protected for the next few years, so it is best to get used to that now.

The exact timing of this anchor nap will shift (i.e., it might not always be at 1pm every day for three years), but it needs to be one you focus on.  The next most important nap is the first nap of the day, the morning nap.  This is the second to last nap to drop, so it makes sense you want to make sure a long term nap is important.  Do your best to make this one as consistent as possible as well.  Unfortunately, two major naps a day kind of limits how much you can get out and about.  If you have other kids, this can really be an issue.  If given the choice between messing with your afternoon and morning nap, focus on the afternoon.  Once again, that's the anchor nap.  Focusing on one nap at a time limits some of the stress in a day.  You have one period you work really hard on naps, and you can relax the rest of the day.  The midday and evening naps are dropped within the first few months.  I wouldn't worry too much about them.

This might sound like it goes against the babywise thoughts to not worry about some naps.  Let me explain that a bit more.  I don't mean don't try to get your baby to nap during the non-anchor naps, you should.  Do your best.  But when you have two babies that are crying or not wanting to sleep you sometimes need to draw a line and decide when to call it a nap.  These early to go naps are, in my opinion, just not worth the stress and struggle.  Aim to get your twins to nap.  If they are just not having it these are the naps to relax about though.  Try a bouncer or swing, let them nap on you if they need to, or just move on with your day.  You will not ruin your babies or their napping ability if you are not a drill sergeant at each nap.  It is very easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out when a baby is having bad naps, and you have two babies.  An important part of babywise is that the baby fits in to the family.  This means if you have other kids that need to get out of the house that midday nap might be in the car.  The evening catnap is sometimes only 20 minutes.  Making a whole production of it was not something I wanted to do, so that was done in the bouncers.  We made these naps work with the whole family knowing that yes, our babies needed to rest, but we had to meet the needs of the other family members.

I chose to rely on the clock for my anchor nap more.  This was the nap I put all my hardest efforts into.  As I said for us this is the afternoon nap.  With two babies, I relied on the clock because I had two different sleep personalities.  Basically the goal is to do everything in your power to keep your babies in this nap time and sleeping if possible.  Don't worry about one baby's crying waking the other.  In the early months it really doesn't seem to faze them.  I am a fan of the pacifier.  If my girls were crying, I would go in and first replace the pacifier.  If that didn't work I would try to shush them gently.  Pretty much do what you would normally do to help soothe your baby.  A few things helped me out.  I did my best to not pick them up.  I know, this is so hard!  But if your goal is to get your babies to sleep you don't want to be picking them up repeatedly.  I tried not to make eye contact.  This sounds mean, but seriously a little eye contact can be all it takes to perk up your baby if they reach a lighter sleep stage.  If you look at their bellies you can still see everything you need to help settle them, but you avoid perking them up with eye contact.  The goal is to be almost an object yourself, uninteresting and as unobtrusive as possible.

I'm going to be really honest here.  Handling the anchor nap this way can be hard.  I personally don't like doing cry it out, so I spent a lot of these early anchor naps popping in and out of the room.  For me, it was worth it that I was soothing my babies as I felt I needed to, but I was still working towards a solid anchor nap.  (It was also my son's nap time, so it was beneficial not to have a ton of crying.)  This can be stressful.  I would sit outside my babies' room with a book, making it easy to pop in and out quickly and quietly.  My husband would take a turn and give me a break on weekends.  I would do everything in my power to have my girls stay in nap time the full length of the nap, by the clock.  It was so hard sometimes.  All I wanted to do was do things for my family most of the time, like make dinner.  I didn't want to spend hours of my life trying to get my babies to nap!  There is no nice way to say it, but the results are worth it.  Set yourself up for success and lower your expectations of what you will get done during nap times in these early months.  This is frustrating to say, especially knowing I didn't like it either.  You want to get some me time, maybe grab a nap yourself, or even just throw in a load of laundry during nap time.  Instead you are nap master the whole time.  This is so annoying!  It is easy to get discouraged, especially with two babies.  This is the time to consider your larger priorities here.  Your biggest goal is to get your babies napping.  If that doesn't happen nothing else will.  It is way better and easier to bite the bullet and accept focusing on getting this nap down than spending months wishing your kids napped at the same time.

For those naps that were going to be dropped early, I would get my girls up if they really were not in to napping.  I couldn't and didn't want to spend my entire day just getting babies to sleep.  If they were fussing too hard I would move the naps to the bouncers, or just let it go.  It sounds a bit like quitting, but really it is cutting your loses.  Two babies crying is STRESSFUL.  Give yourself and your babies a break on these naps.  I would start them out, and if my girls slept for them awesome.  If they hit the 45 minute intruder hard, I would put them in the bouncers.  If they just wanted to be awake, we would just be awake. I think twin naps are a great case for choosing your battles.  I chose to fight for the naps that were going to last the longest, and looking back I think I made the right decision.  Yes, some days had a lot of little cat naps.  Some days had perfect naps.  But I tried not to worry about perfection; I kept my eye on the prize.

Twin naps are a good time to take some notes.  Yes, you have homework to get good naps in.  It is very easy to forget who woke up early, who had a hard time falling asleep, or who rocked the nap.  I wrote down how naps went for each of my girls.  By doing this I could see the individual patterns each girl had.  This allowed me to see who needed work where.  More importantly, it let me see progress that can get lost in all that goes in to caring for twins.  My girls had a tendency to take turns having rough naps.  It made me feel like naps were not going well at all.  But when I looked over my notes, I saw that as individuals the girls were actually doing okay.  It was just that their rough times didn't overlap at all, so overall there were more of them.  Seeing this pattern encouraged me to keep working towards our nap goals.

Once the anchor nap and morning nap started to be consistent you can start to take advantage of the times one twin wakes early.  It can be hard to find one on one time with twin babies.  Both of them need you so much you can feel like you don't get to just be with them.  When my girls started taking more consistent naps I would get whichever girl woke up too early and snuggle with them on the couch.  This gave me the chance to really love on just one baby at a time, which is so needed with twins.  These cuddle sessions were some of the sweetest I had with the girls, and neither of them had issues with naps as a result of getting up early for extra love.

Getting twins on the same nap schedule can be tough, but it is so worth the effort!  I am thrilled that my girls nap at the same time every day (and at the same time as their big brother).  Focusing on the anchor naps allowed me to still get the needs of the whole family met, and it gave me a much needed break when things didn't go well.  I didn't waste time stressing about naps that would disappear in a few weeks’ time.  Taking notes let me see how well things were going with my girls as individuals, even if as a duo, well, things weren't so awesome.  Taking advantage of some early wakings gave me much needed one on one cuddle time.  Again, I am not claiming to be an expert.  I'm just a twin mom who has been there with rough naps.  I have never regretted the work I put in to getting my girls on a consistent nap schedule.  My girls go happily to naps, take their full naps, and are rested and healthy.


You can read more about Kim and her twins at

Poll Results Post: Morning Wake-up Time

The start time of your day can have more of an impact on the flow of your day than you might think. Let's discuss this start to the day. You can find original answers on the blog here and on Facebook here.

1-What time does your child get up each day (whether you wake him up or he wakes on his own)?

2-How consistent are you with this wake up time each day? How many days a week would you say you usually have this be your start time?
Very consistent: 15
Try to be very consistent: 3
Don't push it, but consistent on own: 1
NOTE: A few people commented that they are very consistent on weekdays, but more relaxed on weekends. I put them in the very consistent category.

3-What time is your child's bedtime the night before?

4-Do you notice an impact on the day if wake up time is off? If so, what sort of impact?

Natalie said: " Seems the only impact is that if she wakes too early and doesn't take long enough naps, then there is too much wake time between her last nap and bedtime and bedtime ends up being too early."

Erin said: "-No real impact. Usually, if he happens to wake early, there's a reason (light getting into the room, still weaning off the pacifier dependency). But he's a pretty happy boy no matter what."

Leah said: "No. I mean, it's never outside of the 7:30-8:00 AM range, though. But I notice no difference whether I get her up at 7:30 or 8:00."

AllieK said: "Kids are more cranky, schedule is thrown off."

Julie said: If wake time is too far off, we get off schedule, which probably bothers me more than him.  

Faith said: Generally, if he wakes too early, he'll just take an earlier, longer first nap and get himself back on schedule or pretty close to it.

Nicole said: I can't remember the last time wake up time was off. Everyone shares a room here, so the first kid up tends to wake up the second kid. No one ever sleeps in...

Jess said: Because we are so consistent with wake time, this isn't often affected. However it does make him moodier if he wakes up an hour or more early and doesn't fall back asleep. Again, this doesn't happen very often.

Krista said:Not really for the older kids. It definitely throws baby's schedule off and makes nap time more difficult to predict when wake time is off. 

5-Any comments on morning wake up time?

Melanie said: "Preface: Bedtime used to be 8 p.m. with a 6 a.m. wake up time, but after we had to have a consultation with a sleep specialiast for an breathing issue, one of his recommendations was for our 3yr old needed another hour of sleep at night. 
Our new schedule is as follows:
We wake her at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays. On Saturdays she sleeps until she wakes up and on Sundays we wake her at 7 a.m. if she hasn't already gotten up (which is rare).
Bedtime is 7:30 p.m. (sometime closer to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, but we try!).
Since adding the extra hour, our 3yr old has been easier to wake up and get going in the morning. Additionally, she doesn't fight going to sleep at night. Doctors advice seems to have been on the money."

Natalie said:"I have noticed that whether I put her to bed at 6:30 or 8pm, she still wakes up about between 6:30 and 7, so it is better to put her down earlier so she isn't tired the next day."

Erin said: "-Morning wake ups used to be a lot harder - especially when I wanted to sleep and the baby WAS sleeping. I just wanted to let us all have a late wake up. But it really was worth it to keep on the schedule. The routine is so much a part of our lives now that it really helps us avoid a lot of power struggles, grumpy wake ups, and frantic rushing around before work."

Leah said: "Not really. I've been getting her up at 7:30 every morning since she was about 1.5 weeks old. I get up at 7:00 and eat breakfast before getting her up because that makes me a happier mommy. :)"

AllieK said: "Having a 100% consistent morning wake time was the key to sleep training success when my kids were babies! "

Julie said: I think having a consistent wake time makes the day so much smoother, and also makes consistent bedtime so much easier! 

Brittany said: It's super important to be consistent with the wake up time while sleep training and while nursing in order establish a routine.

Nicole said: I chose 7:30 because I felt like it was a time I could live with for 20 years. By the time my youngest is 10, I will have been getting up at 7:30 for almost that long. I doubt I'll bother changing it back 😃

Jess said: If you are consistent with "not before x time" from the beginning it is much easier to enforce as they get older! I cringe when my friends and family talk about their child waking up at 4:30 or 5 some days and some days sleeping until 9. Consistency makes us all more pleasant!

Krista said:Prior to school age, I found it important to keep the kids on schedule, meaning the same wake up time each day as it made the day predictable as far as nap and eat times and I knew when baby would start to get fussy for food or nap and could easily predict what they wanted when they fussed. 

Anita said: Both these wake times have been selected to best suit my school-age child

6-How old is your child?
10 weeks: 1
4 months: 1
5 months: 1
7 months: 1
10 months: 1
16 months: 1
19 months: 1
20 months: 1
2.5 years: 1
29 months: 1
3 years: 1
4 years: 2
5 years: 1
6 years: 1
7 years:1
8 years: 1
9 years: 1
11 years: 1