Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WFMW- Surviving with Kids in the Car (or minivan)

I remember when my sister and I shared a backseat and my mom would come up with creative ways to keep us from killing each other in such close quarters. If someone had ever told me that some day kids would have entire entertainment systems in the car just for them, or vehicles big enough that each child could have their very own seat, I probably would have wept for joy. It reminds me that my children just don't appreciate what they have, but why should they they don't know any different. And really my sob stories of when I was a child fall on deaf ears, they have heard too many of them.
So my tips for this Wednesday involve the family car, SUV, minivan, etc.

1. We rotate seats once a month, except for the baby. The two older children take turns sitting in the second and third row of the minivan or suburban. This helps to quell some of the "But she always gets to sit there!" and the mad rush to the car in which the children are "calling" which seat they get.

2. Everyone is responsible for their area and keeping it neat. I've found a great use for those plastic coffee containers. They are small enough to tuck under the seat and the kids can put their trash in them , plus they have a lid so the trash doesn't spill out or fall victim to Little One's curiosity.

3. Whatever goes into the car goes out every time we get home. The only exception are the toys and books that are stashed in Little One's box that sits in front of her seat.

4. They have headphones to listen to music and a built in DVD, but these are privileges. If they argue or don't take care of them they don't get to use them, period.

5. We play lots of games in the car: guess an animal (one person thinks of an animal and the rest ask questions to try to guess it), I spy, alphabet game, etc. Many times they bring a book or sketchbook t0 entertain themselves.

Those are just a few things that make life a little easier on the road, for more tips head over to Rocks in My Dryer!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quote for the Day

Just wanted to give everyone a quote from one of our founding fathers as we head off to the polls next week:

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 27, 2008

MMM- Fall Festival

I almost missed posting my Memorable Moment Monday post because I've been a mom taxi today. I just got back from Soph's Brownie activity in which we made bandanna aprons. That was full of memorable moments! And Little One dressed as a ballerina for dress-up day in Kindermusik, which was another great moment. I just love those tiny ballet slippers:) But my most memorable moments came during the fall festival at the kids school Saturday night.

We went up to school in the afternoon to drop off my cake (picture following) for the cake decorating contest and ended up staying to help from about 12:30 until 10:30 that night. Since I was treasurer I knew I'd be there late gathering and counting money, but we hadn't planned on the early set-up part. WB ended up being in charge of the brisket dinner. The woman in charge had been praying for someone to come along to help her with that part of the festival and in walked WB. Having worked in a BBQ restaurant all through high school he knows his way around the kitchen. He got everyone into their hairnets and started barking orders in no time. Soon all I was hearing was ask WB he's in charge, even the manager of the school cafeteria was doing his bidding...geez. But I was so glad he was there to help out, he was a blessing and the dinner made a lot of money.
WB would make a great health inspector, no one was allowed in the kitchen without one of these fashionable head dresses. You'll notice I neglected to take any pictures of myself. ..(I did bring him a baseball cap later though)

The girls had lots of fun with the carnival games. We managed to tear WB away from the kitchen long enough to come with us. I managed to not lose the petty cash bag I had tucked under my arm, which was a huge accomplishment on my part.

My cake won first place, I think out of three adult entries, which I found hilarious. I entered because the contest was sort of my idea and my children had no interest in entering, so of course I felt obligated to. It brought back memories of my school carnival and the year I won the cake decorating contest in my division...I still have the trophy. This story failed to move or motivate my children however:)

Here is my award winning cake titled, "When the Witch hits the fan." (please ignore the terrible bright spot in the corner from my flash!)

Hope you had many memorable moments this Monday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Frugal Friday - Kids and the value of money

I know there are many, many ways to help teach our children the value of money. Recently our 1st grader has been studying coins and our 3rd grader is learning about making change, etc. This all helps when they look at the change in your purse and realize just how much money you have to spend on something! But WB and I sort of both came up with the idea that we could give them a certain amount of money and take them to the store to buy something. A couple of ideas are:

1: Write down the price of their favorite meals when we go out to eat add it together and then give them that amount of money to go to the store with. Help them plan a home meal and then search for the ingredients, they have to pay with their money. Quickly they realize that with the money we spend on their two out to eat meals we could feed the entire family spaghetti, salad, and some bread. Wow!!! It's fun to watch their eyes pop:)

2: Those packaged sweets they always beg me to get at the grocery I rarely give in to because of nutrition as well as cost. But every once in awhile I say yes. Give them a few dollars and see how much prepackaged sweets they could buy as opposed to making something from a cake mix for cupcakes. They will quickly see they could get more for their dollar by making it themselves. Not to mention it won't have all the preservatives etc.

I know there are tons more examples along these lines, but so far these have made an impact on my older girls. It's important that they understand that being frugal is not a terrible thing, just a smart choice:)

Since Biblical Womanhood is still on a blogging break you can head over to my mother-in-law Pat's blog to see another frugal Friday tip:)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday- The Cleaning Inspector

I must admit I read about this idea in a magazine once. Some poor, worn out mom was tired of nagging, I mean always asking her kids to pick up their rooms. So one day she came up with the idea that an inspector needed to come visit and check out the state of her kids rooms and leave a report. I really had no idea such a thing would work, but I was willing to give it a try with my 6 and 8 year old. I told them that they needed to pick up their room because Inspector Gerard (in my house funny sounding names work best!) was coming to check their room. I told them he would be here later, when they were out playing. I think I mentioned something about how I hoped he didn't condemn the place etc., etc.
Immediately my children began putting away, dusting, vacuuming. It was amazing. They wanted a good report from this Inspector Gerard. Later when they were finished I checked their room, wrote up a quick report on a piece of paper (he did find a pair of shoes under the bed that needed to be corrected:) ) signed the report and stuck it to their door. When they found the report they quickly put away the shoes, smiled over all the "stars" they received and then we celebrated passing inspection with a mug of hot chocolate.
Now, really, I don't think my kids really fell for Inspector Gerard, they knew it was me. But it was just the added excitement that helped motivate them. So hats off to Inspector Gerard, he'll be visiting again soon.

For more helpful hints head over to Shannon's at Rocks In My Dryer!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Memorable Moment Monday-Pumpkin Patch Party

This Saturday was our 2nd annual Great Pumpkin Patch Party. Even though it was too dry for our pumpkins to grow this year we supplemented our patch with some bought pumpkins and all was saved! We had a blast. This year we moved the time up so I wouldn't have to worry about serving dinner and had everyone bring their favorite treats. It worked great. Again, it filled my heart with such joy to have our place filled with friends and family. I just love watching the kids and catching up with all our friends. I feel so blessed to have a place where we can entertain in such a way.
There's Farmer John, he came to take the kids on a hayride.

Oh, wait, no that is WB. Hmmm, I'm liking the farmer look. But before I get off track I'll show you some more pictures from the party.

A daddy helping his kiddo with the pumpkin picking.

Decorating the pumpkins.

Little One showing me her sticker.Our friends brought a pinata again this year and the kids had a blast!!

It was a great afternoon filled with laughter and fun, thanks everyone for coming...see you next year!! That was my memorable moment for this Monday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday...Storing and Organizing Kids Clothes

Around here I sometimes feel like between the changing weather and the children's growth spurts we are constantly switching clothes in and out. Now don't get me wrong I love having three girls because for the most part all we have to do is send WB to the attic for a box of clothes and we have what we need for the season. But WB was making a lot of trips up and down those attic stairs and I was thinking how could I make his life easier. You know, us wives are just constantly thinking of ways to make our hubby's life easier (it's to make up for all those difficult things we seem to put them putting pantyhose on a toddler). Anyway, here is the system I came up with...
I keep two storage boxes either under my girls bed or in their closet. One box is for clothes they have outgrown or is no longer seasonally appropriate. I just throw the clothes in the box as I'm putting away the laundry. The other box are clothes that are a little too big for right now or clothes that will be perfect for the upcoming season. This way as we transition into bigger or warmer(cooler) clothes I have a stash handy so I don't have to send hubby running up to the attic each time. This system allows me to see just what clothes or shoes my kids are going to need and what they have plenty of. Oh, and I also have at least one box somewhere in my house that is going to be taken to a thrift store. That way the clothes don't take up unnecessary room in their drawers or closet.
So that's my tip for today, head over to Shannon's for more!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Memorable Moment Monday

Today's memorable moment was when Soph swam across the width of the pool during her swimming lesson today. It is hard to believe that at the beginning of the last summer she wouldn't leave the pool stairs much less put her head under water. Today I watched as she made several very determined attempts to swim freestyle to the other end of the pool. I smiled as I watched her listen to her teacher's instructions then bowed her head and with folded hands said a prayer. I watched as her little brow furrowed and her lips moved as she concentrated on her conversation with God. Suddenly she was finished and she took a deep breath and pushed off the wall. Her strokes evened out and became more fluid, which was just the boost she needed to push herself to the opposite wall. Her teacher jumped out of the water and gave her a high five. Soph turned to me as I sat watching her from the observation window and with a huge grin she waved. I gave her a big thumbs up as Little One clapped in glee. I can't even begin to tell you the confidence this sport has given her both in and out of the pool. It makes a mom proud!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's Still Raining...

We are getting some much needed rain, it's just a shame it's on the weekend and the weekend we were having a photographer come out and take our portraits (outside).

But we were able to make early mass and then the girls had their faith formation afterwards. So for this Sunday I'm going to treat you to one of my favorite church songs, The Lord of The Dance. I've included a YouTube video of this song which is how I envision it was originally intended. It's lovely to think that this song was sung and played around campfires, at family gatherings etc. I believe that whenever we gather a group of people together to sing such songs, no matter where we congregate, God is smiling down upon us.
We do not play it this way at church, it is a much more subdued version with hand bells instead of guitars and violins. But either way it makes me want to jump up, dance, and sing my praises.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday- Updating Kitchen and Bathroom Hardware Cheaply!

Last week I mentioned removing my the door to my kitchen cabinets and it isn't because I have pretty, matching glasses and plates that I was just dying to show off. If I did I would probably leave the doors off because it does seem to make things easier. But no, the reason is because I had to take the doors off so I could replace the hardware. The knobs and hinges we have now are a very date glossy brass, yuck. The knobs and hinges that I have drooled over at the hardware stores are pretty pricey, like I'd spend hundred of dollars just on knobs and, no. So I've decided to paint the ones I have.
First I went to Lowe's and purchased some textured spray paint. I like the hammered effect myself. (not pictured is the silver)
Then WB helped me do a few sample colors to see which we liked best.

WB stuck them on wooden skewers to spray easily (so handy isn't he?).

So here are our choices: the top left looks almost like hammered iron, the brass is the old, the bottom left is a hammered silver (appliances are stainless) and the bottom right is a sort of bronze color. We've eliminated the silver so it's between the iron and bronze...what do you think?

The good news is that this little project will only cost us a few dollars for the paint and it will really spruce up the kitchen. Oh, and WB really got into this and spray painted all the hardware in our guest bath. The toilet paper holder, toilet handle, robe hanger, switch plates, and towel hanger in the hammered iron. It was amazing the difference it made!!

For more great tips head over to Shannon's!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

One Must Be Disciplined In Order To Stay Fit

Here at Cotton-Top Hills we believe in fitness and exercising. But as we all know in our busy schedules sometimes planned exercise falls way down on the list somewhere ( in my case it is non-existent). Now WB takes his fitness seriously, as he just completed his first triathlon a few weeks ago. He is disciplined. Let's take a look at his rigid exercise schedule shall we?

He wakes up way before sunrise every morning to go to the gym...

he takes advantage of nice mornings to go on bike rides...

he builds things...
And here is where we can all learn by his example, at least I could, that no matter where you are there is always time for a little exercise. Even if it is sitting poolside...

smoking a cigar, while doing leg lifts.

And if you add some smoke rings to the fun you exercise your lungs as well. See Big Daddy in the background, he is so proud of his son's dedication to being fit!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Memorable Moment Monday- It's Autumn!

It seems fall has arrived here in the panhandle. A cold snap moved through with some much needed rain and cooler temperatures. The leaves on our new tree seem to have turned overnight!!

I love the autumn season: leaves changing, pumpkins, hot apple cider, the smell of pumpkin spice candles. It just brings back so many wonderful memories. It was in October that I found out I was pregnant with Soph. We had just had a family portrait done with WB, Em, and I. The next week I was very surprised to learn that I was expecting. My first thought after the shock wore off was that our portrait, which we didn't even have yet, was going to need updating soon after we received it! That fall I glowed with the look of an expectant mom, but by Christmas I was green around the edges from morning sickness. I was grateful that I was able to enjoy the crisp fall mornings at least before the yuckiness set in.
That's my memorable moment for this Monday, do you have any?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lone Pumpkin

"What? This is the only pumpkin!"

"Well, it's a good thing it's just my size."

We're getting ready for our pumpkin patch party in a couple of weeks and I am sad to report that we have only one pumpkin so far that is home grown. The very dry summer pretty much depleted our pumpkin patch, pooh. I guess we will be buying some pumpkins to place out in the dirt covered ground that was supposed to be overgrown with the orange vegetables by now. Next year we'll have our irrigation system in place and hopefully we will be more successful!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Works For Me Wednesday- Kitchen Organization

This week Rocks In My Dryer is hosting a WFMW themed edition about managing or streamlining your kitchen. I have a few things that have really helped me:

1. I have a pot rack above my island. I hang my most used pans from it along with cooking utensils that I often use. It's great to just reach up and get what you need instead of searching through cabinets.

2. My husband bought a label maker, remember he is an engineer, and proceeded to label our pantry shelves. So it's divided into sections of things like baking goods, bread, cereal, canned items, pasta, etc. This makes it nice when the kids put away the groceries, as well as when family comes to visit and are searching for things.

3. I've taken all the doors off my cabinets so you don't have to guess where things are...wait, no that's not why I've taken my doors off my cabinets... but I can't tell you why because it has to do with next weeks WFMW so check back in!

If you'd like to see some more great kitchen ideas head over to Shannon's!