Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Day in the Life

Here is a breakdown of what my day looks like, in response to a request from Heather.  Please keep in mind that this is what works for me and my family but might not work for you.

Break down of my average day
  • 6:00 am—Wake up, devotional/prayer time
  • 7:00 am—Get children, make beds, and feed kids breakfast, take out dinner
  • 7:30 am—Do morning make-up and dress routine
  • 8:00 am—eat breakfast, read the paper
  • 8:15 am—clean up breakfast dishes, get kids cleaned up and dressed
  • 8:40 am—Take M.E. to school (storytelling and free play)
  • 9:00 am—put Pax down to nap (M.E.’s solo-play time)
  • 9:10 am—start a load of laundry, clean routine, facebook/e-mail if time
  • 10:00 am—switch laundry, homework, computer time (Day of Play time)
  • 10:30-11:00 am—get Pax and feed him
  • 11:15 am—Pick M.E. up from school (free time or errand running)
  • 12:00 pm—lunch, clean up, and story time
  • 1:00 pm—naptime for Pax/quiet time for M.E.
  • 1:00-2:00 pm—House Zone cleaning, switch/fold laundry—phone time
  • 2:00-3:00 pm—homework, blog/internet/read
  • 3:00 pm—get kids up and give them a snack
  • 3:30 pm—Intentional Play Time
  • 4:30 pm—bath time (M.E. stays in forever!)/ Pax’s solo-play (10 min) (errand running)
  • 5:00 pm—start dinner, feed Pax his solids—5 at 5
  • 5:15 pm—M.E. out of the tub, watch a show or book on CD.  Keep working on dinner.
  • 5:45 pm—Stories and bed for Pax.  Read M.E. stories
  • 6:00 pm—Matt is home, dinnertime
  • 6:45 pm—Matt plays with M.E. while I clean kitchen—dishes, counters, remind myself what is for dinner tomorrow, get tea ready to go for the morning, exercise.
  • 7:30 pm—Story time, M.E. goes to bed.  Mom and Dad time! Time to play on computer, watch a  movie, do date night, read …
  • 9:30 pm—shower and bedtime routine
  • 10:00 pm—get in bed. Be asleep by 11 at the latest (hopefully!)

Why the italics in the break down?
M.E. goes to pre-school a couple days a week.  Items in italics show what we do when she’s home.

M.E.'s first day of preschool.  September 2009

Clean Routine:
 My clean routine assumes I’m starting with the house picked up, including toys put away, kitchen counters cleared and dishes done. 

I find that if I clean for 20 minutes each day that I never get snowed under by what needs cleaned up.  And yes, I can vacuum, sweep and mop in 20 minutes (it takes a while to dry).  Laundry and home improvement take a bit longer J

  • Monday—floors, errands
  • Tuesday—dust, laundry
  • Wednesday—floors, 5 minute bathrooms 
  • Thursday—glass, laundry
  • Friday—floors, dust, bathrooms (I take a bit long today so there is nothing to do on the weekend)
  • Saturday—home projects, errands
  • Sunday—home projects and laundry

House Zone cleaning:
This is a deeper cleaning I do every day for no more than 15 minutes.  Divide your house into zones and focus on REALLY cleaning that zone for 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  Start at the ceiling and work down—get cobwebs, wipe baseboard, etc.  If your basic cleaning and tidying is already done, it means you can focus on deeper cleaning.

My Zones :
Week 1--Entry way and bathrooms (2)
Week 2--Kids bedrooms (2)
Week 3--Kitchen, Dining, Living room
Week 4--Master bedroom and laundry room

Again, each zone gets 1 full week of deep cleaning and then it’s off to the next zone.

Need to organize a closet or your kids’ rooms?  That’s BIGGER than a cleaning task; it’s a home project.  Wait to do it until you can devote an hour or two.  Even then, start small (which means NEVER take out more than you can put back in an hour).

Intentional Play Schedule
Monday—Manipulatives (clay, sand and water, etc.)
Tuesday—make believe
Wednesday—board games
Thursday—crafts (painting, coloring, etc.)

We also do a focused Day of Play activity on the days when M.E. doesn’t have school.

Snowed in at the cabin but with Board Game Day with Grandma Ginny, we were anything but bored!

I hate running errands so I only do it 1 or maybe 2 times a week.  Get a re-usable bag and put it near the door.  For a week put everything in it that requires an errand: library books, mail, receipts and goodies to return, grocery list, etc.  Once (or twice) a week grab your bag and run errands. Even more time saving, plan your route so you have as few left hand turns as possible (hey, it works for the UPS).

I have a gray Fashion Express bag, similar to below, that I use for my errand bag.  Function+fashion=hot mom

2-3 times a week I run on the Elliptical and do Elise Gulan's Straight to the Core 8 minute ab routine.  Do 20 push-ups before bedtime. You won't look like Elise but you'll feel great!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Follow

Friday Follow

We are going strong! Here is the 4th week of Friday Follow. This idea is a fun way to find out about new blogs, find new friends, and grow in followers. Come join the party. We have had a great turnout so far and are finding some wonderful blogs to share.

Welcome to the Friday Follow celebration hosted by One 2 TryHearts Make Families and Midday Escapades! We invite you to join us every Friday to get more blog followers and to follow other interesting blogs. It is all about sharing and having fun.

Here's how YOU can join the celebration:

--Link up your blog name and URL using the MckLinky below. Only need to add on one blog to be seen on all the blog hops. 

 --Follow the Friday Follow hostesses listed in the first 2 slots. This week Hearts Make Families will not be participating due to technical issues. She will be back next week.

--Follow as many blogs as you'd like.

--Take a moment to comment on the blogs telling them you're from Friday Follow.

--Follow back when you get a new follower through Friday Follow.

The Blog Hop is the same at each of our three hosts blogs so you do not have to add your blog at each site. Just one - but you can follow each blog. Follow a few or follow them all.

The list is new each week. The links do not carry over. Please link up each week for new participants to find your blogs. The list is only open to add your blog links on Fridays. It will be visible all week to visit the blogs listed.

Please be patient with following or getting followers. With the tremendous response there are a lot to visit. The Mcklinky will stay here so you can visit blogs at your own pace. 

MckLinky Blog Hop
Friday Follow Blog Hop #4
Hosted by Rita @ One 2 Try Tami @ Hearts Make Families and Lynn @ Midday Escapades . Join us every Friday as we celebrate followers! Link up your blog name and URL below to follow and be followed!
Want to be a part of this Blog Hop? Click here for instructions and code...

Days of Play: tea party

Break out silly shirts, hats, ties, and socks and enjoy a tea party together.

This is an old photo of the Divine Miss M but it is one of my favorite tea party outfits!

You'll need:
clothes to dress up in--boys might like dad's shirts or ties, girls will love your old necklaces
tea set if you have it--if not, pitcher and cups
snack cookies (nilla wafers, Oreos, etc).

Make your kiddos a special drink (kool-aid, ice tea, soda if you drink it) and serve it to them at a tea party.  Show them how to talk with an accent or how to hold their pinkies up.

For Younger Kids
Play dress up and drink milk. Invite teddy.

For Older Kids
Let your children set up the tea party and serve you.  Music and dancing might be warranted.

What's Cooking 2/8-2/14

At the request of a reader, I'm going to post my weekly menu in advance so you can hit the grocery store on the weekend, if you are crazy enough to go there!

My DH will be traveling the next 6 weeks or so; therefore, I might have meals twice, skip meals, etc.  Don't be surprised to see some repeats!

Here's what's cooking at my house next week:

Monday*--Pizza Casserole 
Tuesday*--Lemon Chicken and rice with mixed greens
Wednesday--Taco Salad
Thursday--Spanish Rubbed Chicken with couscous (Thanks, Alicia)
Friday*--Sirloin and wine sauce (similar )
Saturday--out to eat with family
Sunday--Vegan soup bar and dinner rolls (to celebrate Paxton's dedication).

~No V-Day dinner for us since family will be in town but check out Spy School for a GREAT V-Day recipe to cook with your lover!~

*These meals are from Jenny, a member of my OAMC group.  Thanks Jenny!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Custom Apron Giveaway

I LOVE the blog Frontier Kitchen (which is why I talk about it often).

Right now, through February 8th, you have a chance to register 3 times to win this uber cute custom apron.  100% cotton; 100% awesome! Head on over and register to win !

P.S.  I'm secretly hoping NONE of you will actually register and that I'll win the apron but it's no fun to not have a little competition :)

Things I love: Sick Baby Snuggles

Get well soon, Gooey Guster!

Paxton has been sick the past few days and I hate it when my babies are sick.  The germies, the gooey noses, the spit throwing sneezes, the poor sleeping, the crying, the "stuck inside and can't do anything crazies," the fevers and phlegmy coughs are the worst!

But there is one thing I LOVE about sick babies (at least my sick babies) and that is how much they want to snuggle.

Pax wants to be held constantly which gets a bit old but it only takes about .8 of a second of him sitting on the floor crying crocodile tears over toys while his boogies come dangerously close to his lip for me to whoosh in like Super Mom.  As soon as I pick him up the crying stops, the nose is wiped, the tears are dried and he pops his left thumb into his mouth (and curls his pointer finger over his nose--too cute!).  Then the best thing of all happens.  He dramatically throws his head onto my shoulder, cuddles and sighs.

There are few things worse than having a sick baby. But I figure as long as I have to wipe his nose and inhale his germs, I might as well get a few loving snuggles out of the deal.  And what a sweet way that baby reminds me how much he loves and needs mommy.  When everything else is wrong in his life, somehow just holding him makes him feel better.

And it makes me feel better too.

Holding my 3 week old--May some things never change!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spy School #7 (perfect for Valentine's Day)

I'd prepare to do this challenge for your Valentine's Day Date!

Are you the cook or is he?  For this challenge it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you both whip up something sexy in the kitchen.  Get your head out of the gutter; I’m talking about cooking a meal together that you wouldn’t normally eat and then sharing the meal over candlelight.

To prepare you’ll need to choose the date and time of your husband's cooking challenge and get the groceries necessary to make your aphrodisiac meal.  You might also want to come up with some dialogue questions (no talking about kids tonight!)

Here’s what I suggest (with the exception of the salad, these recipes are from one of my favorite cookbooks InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook)

For Dinner:

Strawberry Salad
1 lb washed and torn spinach
1 pint washed and sliced strawberries

Combine the following in blender and pour over salad:
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. vinegar
1/4 c. poppy seed
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. grated onion
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 c. salad oil

Strawberry Pasta

(see the cookbook)


Chicken and Asparagus Black-bean Enchiladas

See the cookbook

For Dessert:

Strawberry Chocolate Crescent Rolls
2 strawberries sliced
chocolate chips (semi-sweet, bittersweet—you choose)
1 package of crescent rolls (package of 4 is perfect)
powdered sugar

Lay out crescent rolls.  Put a few pinches of chocolate chips and a strawberry slice in the center.  Roll up.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Bake according to package directions.  Cool a few minutes.  Dust with powdered sugar.  To make dessert taste better, feed each other.

Sample discussion questions:

·      In what ways have I changed since we’ve been married?
·      What song from the 80’s best defines you and why?
·      If we could get on a plane tonight and go anywhere in the world, where would we go?
·      If someone was to make our marriage into a movie, what actor and actress would portray us?

Text or e-mail this to your husband inviting him to the challenge:

 The Challenge:

Bond is a man of distinguished taste.  If you choose to accept this challenge, your skills and tastes will be put to the test.  Meet me at ____TIME_&_DATE____ .  Dress in a manner that makes you feel sexy.

What I think about--Turning 31

Yesterday was the big 3-1 for me.

Since I was 29 my husband has been a bit skittish about my aging BUT since I've teased him relentlessly about that fact, he really backed off this year (that or he's in denial).  For some reason turning 30 didn't bother me.  Would turning 31?

I needed to soak in the whole day before I could decide what I really think about being 31.  But here are my thoughts.

Our culture devalues the good things that come with aging: wisdom, joy, and family. I really don't want to be one of those people who gets all upset because I'm getting crow's feet (I'm not, by the way.  See my previous post on Mary Kay) or because my boobs aren't as perky now as they were ten years ago.  I really want to be a woman who confidently recognizes it isn't what I am that matters; it's WHOSE I am.

When I think of the type of woman I want my daughter to grow to be or my son to marry, I envision Godly women who care more about WHOSE they are than what they look like.  If I want this to be the woman my daughter becomes, I must model it for her.  Now.

So this 31st year of my life, I plan to take hold of the fact that I am the child of a King, and the King is delighted by my beauty!  The world can keep their fascination with always looking 20; I'm determined to being fascinated by my God!

Here is how I looked in second grade.   I'm the one in the white turtle neck with the feathered do.  Awesome.  Side note, doesn't that flowered wall thing look like it's growing out of my sister's head?

Here's how I look most recently (The truth really has to come out.  I can't find my USB cord so even though there are more recent photos of me, I can't get them off the camera):

Survey says .... better at 31.

What I loved about my 30th year:
  • My Super Bowl birthday party.  Wait.  I didn’t love that.  I’m pretty sure Spy School was Matt’s  was of making up for my “Homer” party last year.
  • My mom lived 1 year past what docs at the Mayo Clinic expected (and in March it will be 2 years past!).
  • Giving birth to my delightful and peaceful son, Paxton.
  • Going to Texas to see my husband’s family, a wedding, and Sea World. 
  • Watching M.E.’s fascination at flying in a plane for the first time.
  • Celebrating Dee’s 80th Birthday.
  • Welcoming Jori Gracyn into my sister’s family.
  • Celebrating my parent’s 40th anniversary.
  • Building and moving into our new home.
  • Celebrating Drew’s first birthday.
  • Continuing my quest for my Ed. D.
  • Going to the cabin in Spearfish.
  • Taking M.E. to see a live, mostly-wild bear for the first time.
  • Snowshoeing, sledding, and digging in the snow.
  • Spending Thanksgiving with almost all of the Kaufmans.
  • Organizing my sister’s new kitchen.
  • Playing dress-up for hours with Meems.
  • Quiet alone time feeding Paxton.
  • My 7th wedding anniversary.
  • Hearing Pax say “ma ma.”

    I realize as I write this that the list could go on and on.  The truth is, even the trouble I encountered this past year is not enough to cover the joy I experienced. The longer I live, the more wondrous His works are.  Praise Jesus for another year of life--may I use it to glorify Him!

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    It's a Clorox Anywhere Day

    I got up at 6:06 this morning, made my cup of tea, grabbed my UW Snuggli (nope, no shame!) and settled down to do my Bible study.  By the way, you should know that my church issued a 90-Day Breaking Free challenge and the challenge I took was to read the Bible in 90 Days!  My personal trainer Rauch "The Breath" Yahweh is infusing me with His Vision.

    Anyhow, at 6:12 Baby Pax woke up screaming.  He's sick.  Of course I didn't get to him before the Divine Miss M woke up.  So by 6:15 I had two children up and wanting to eat.  Normally my kids sleep until at least 7:00 so this was a bit of a bummer.

    Below is a photo of the kids strategizing a way to spice up Ground Hog Day.

    By 6:30 I'd made M.E. cheesy eggs and Pax had breast milky and peaches with oats.  Matt was up and offered to help but by this time, my vision of a quiet morning and 16 chapters of the Bible had slowly drifted away.

    On the upside, I got time on my own to prepare for the day.  After brushing my teeth (4 zones, 30 seconds a zone), I examined my face closely.  I don't look a year older!  To celebrate I put on my favorite graphic T-shirt and the jeans my husband thinks makes my butt look high and perky.

    I hate jean shopping.  I love my AE boyfriend jeans!

    By now it was 7:30.  M.E. was continuing her breakfast.  She's a Euorpean eater and can't possibly finish a meal in under an hour and a half.  I ate and then somehow, I started seeing GERMIES.

    Now I know most of you can't see them, but I can (as a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure my sister can see them too.  I'll ponder another day if this is genetic).  Germies fly out of mouths and noses and stick to everything in sight.  When my kids are sick I'm convinced I'm breathing in green germie goo.  Now don't be jealous because germies only show themselves to me.  In fact, don't even be bothered by the fact that the voices only talk to me. But trust me on this, I am in a battle against germies.

    Luckily, Clorox created this fantastic stuff called Clorox Anywhere .  It is basically watered down bleach that you can spray on hard surfaces, let dry (or wipe, your call), and move on.  Take that germies!

    Matt took M.E. to school for me and I should have been resting and doing my Bible study. Instead I waged war on the green goo germies and cleaned every hard surface in my house (and vacuumed up the dead germie bodies. Did I do my Too Clean routine of spraying my carpet with fabric softener? You know it!).

    With the germies if full-on retreat, I finally sat down to read my chapters.  I came to Genesis 17:17 which states,  "Abraham fell face down; he laughed."  This is what he did right after God told him he would become a father at 100 years old.  He was laughing because he doubted God.  But God was earnest.  He would keep his covenant with Abraham.  

    This morning, perhaps I laughed and doubted God.  Is this the kind of morning He'd give me on my birthday?  Is this as good as it gets? 

    As I type this, my house smells lightly like bleach and lavender.  It might not be exactly how I'd envisioned starting my birthday but it's the little things that remind me how much I love life.

    • Like M.E. saying she had to get up to be with me on my birthday.
    • Like my parents and nephews and niece calling to sing to me.
    • Like Matt insisting I give him a biscuit squeeze before he went to work.
    • Like being germie free (until Pax wakes up and Meems comes home and the germies wage war on the second front).
    • Like remembering my sister once had a mullet. Sorry, SD.
    By the way, she is the tall one and it was a fancy permed mullet.

    May the lingering aroma be my reminder of the covenant He made with me.  He makes all things work together for my good (Romans 8:28).

    Even on Clorox Anywhere days.

    Tuesdays Too Clean Tip--5 at 5

    After a fun day of playing, it is time to clean up to start the evening routine.  

    5 at 5 is a something I use before my husband gets home.

    At five o'clock I set a timer for 5 minutes.  During that time my 4 year old cleans up her toys and puts them away and I do a quick 5 minutes clean-up routine (wipe counters, store shoes where they belong, put coats in the coat closet, etc.).   That way when DH comes home the house is *mostly* in order.

    Side note--as my children get older items left out after 5 minutes will go into a box in the closet for 2 days (this will include, of course, MY items I leave laying around!).

    To make this even more fun, call it a "pick up party" and sing songs.

    Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere, clean up clean up everybody do your share.
    Pick up Pick up put the toys away.  Pick up pick up we are done for the day.

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    10 Tips to Better Pictures of Your Children

    Please welcome our first guest blogger!  Jamie from Mommy's Camera is a pediatric nurse, a Heritage Makers consultant, and a mom.  For more tips and information on taking better photos with point-and-click cameras, please check out her blog!
    Without further ado ...
    10 Tips Anyone Can Use To Take Better Pictures of Your Children

    Think you have to have a fancy DSLR camera to take great pictures of your children?  Think again.  With these 10 tips, anyone, even your average mom with a point-and-shoot camera, can take great pictures of their kids.  

    1)  Have fun and keep it natural.  The less you tell your children to stop, pose, and say “cheese” the better pictures you’ll get.  Have fun while taking pictures, laugh, let your children do their own thing, and their personality will shine in the pictures you take.

    2)  Snap, snap, snap!  The great thing about digital cameras is that you don’t have to worry about wasting film.  Simply click away and delete the pictures that don’t work.  With children, you’ll end up taking ten pictures before you get one good one.  Along that same line, if your camera has a continuous shooting mode, try that.  Some of the best pictures I’ve snapped of my girls have been in the middle of the continuous shooting mode.

    3)  Get down at your child’s level.  Too often we look down on our children to take pictures.  Getting down at your child’s level creates a more natural angle for pictures.

    4)  Be quick, be ready, and anticipate movement.  Children move, and they move quick.  If your child is walking toward you, back up and anticipate the fact that by the time you snap the picture, your child will already be a few (or more than a few) steps closer to you.  If your child is running, aim your camera just slightly in front of your child.  By the time you snap the picture, your child will be in the frame.  You could also try continuous shooting mode for anticipating movement too.  If your pictures look blurry due to too much movement, try changing your camera to action mode.

    5)   Zoom in.  On of the biggest mistakes people make with photographs is taking them too far away.  Zoom in and watch your photos pop!

    6)  Turn off your flash.  Flashes create a very un-natural, harsh light.  When ever possible, take pictures in a place bright enough to avoid using your flash.

    7)  Try a different angle.  Straight on shots can be good but adding a bit of an angle or taking the picture from a different perspective can add some interest to your photo.

    8)  Watch the lighting.  Contrary to popular belief, bright, sunny days are not the best for outdoor photos.  Too much sun can cast harsh shadows in your picture.  Cloudy days will give you more even lighting for photos.  If you must take pictures on a sunny day, you just might want to turn your flash on!  Believe it or not, your flash can help fill in those dark shadows caused by the sun.  Just be careful not to overexpose your photo by using your flash.

    9)  Add some color.  Gone are the days of solid, neutral tones for photos.  Adding color and patterns can make a more fun, interesting photo.  Make sure however, not to overwhelm your child with color and an overly busy pattern.  You want the color and pattern to complement your child, not take over the picture.

    10)  Take your camera everywhere.  You never know when the perfect photo opportunity might pop up!


    Thank you, Jamie, for the awesome insight.  If you have questions or comments, please check Jamie's blog or e-mail her at

    I won a blog giveaway!

    If you are one of those people who never wins anything, like me, REJOICE!  I totally won some awesome kitchen artwork.  I can't wait for it to arrive!

    Check it out here!

    And thank you Dandy Bread and Candy!

    What cookin' at my house this week?

    On Friday the gals I OAMC with and I swapped meals so I am looking forward to a new month of yummy dinners.  Here are the meals I have planned for this week.

    • Sunday--Orange Beef with broccoli (FYI--I double the sauce, omit the cornstarch, fry in MUCH LESS oil, and serve with a whole bunch of broccoli.  If you don't like sweet Asian flared dishes, skip this one!  Also skip this if you don't have OJ concentrate or a fresh orange.  Orange juice is too watered down and your sauce won't thicken).
    • Monday--Nachos (taco meat is pre-cooked and DH can handle the rest).
    • Tuesday--Sesame Chicken in spring greens with Asian dressing (we didn't eat this last week because DH and our besties surprised me at the Melting Pot for pre-birthday dinner)
    • Wednesday--White Lasagna (courtesy of Sarah at Frontier Kitchen )
    • Thursday--Lime Chili rubbed Steak with lime cilantro rice 
    • Friday--Chicken Caccitore (again, thank you Miss Sarah!)
    • Saturday--Rilda's Kickin' Chicken Corn Chowder 

    Sunday, January 31, 2010

    Days of Play: Fast Food

    My 4 year old loves to play fast food!

    You might consider rounding up:
    tray or cookie sheet
    tupperware and plastic silverware
    pretend food
    laundry baskets

    Set up an ordering booth (think drive thru at McDonlad's) from a couple of laundry baskets.  "Drive" through (this looks like crawling for me) and order silly foods: peanut butter and cheesey mustard sandwich with sugar fries and a grass milkshake.  This is really all there is to it.  M.E. can play this for hours (it loses it's fun factor much faster for me!).

    For younger children
    Let them explore the tupperware etc.  Show them the pretend food and describe the color, texture, where it comes from.  Push them around IN the laundry basket.

    For older children
    Help them make a menu of food items they can make (cereal, PBJs) and order your lunch from them.