Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rainy Day Fun!

As of late, we have had several rainy days.  While we have gone on a few outings, my kids are going a bit stir-crazy!  We are still working on our ocean unit, so we busted out the paint last week and made some jellyfish.  We cut a paper plate in half, glued on some crepe paper, grabbed some cut up sponges, and off to work they went.  They turned out really cute and the kids had a blast painting.

We brought out those trusty poms again and came up with a new game.  Toss them in the muffin tin.  That brought about a competition and they had fun playing that for quite some time!

One day the kids went downstairs and after awhile called me down.  They had created a zoo!  They played this together for two straight days.  It was quite elaborate and took awhile to clean up, but it was fun!

Now we're hoping for this rainy weather to go away for awhile so we can enjoy our time outside!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Another Dairy-Free Recipe

I'm still on the quest for some yummy dairy-free recipes.  This one I'll take credit for myself (which doesn't usually happen!).  It's pretty simple and my husband declared we could eat it every week.  Must have been good, right?

Awhile back I had purchased some Puff Pastry and threw it in the freezer.  A few weeks ago I decided it was time to pull it out and try something with it.  I also had some shredded rotisserie chicken in there as well that I had thawed, so I wanted to to use that up too.  I originally looked at recipes on, but I couldn't quickly find anything that used my ingredients and didn't contain dairy.  I decided to try my own.  This is what I made!

Chicken and Mushrooms Wrapped in Puff Pastry

2-3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 package fresh mushrooms
Olive Oil
Chicken broth
Puff Pastry
Chicken gravy

Saute mushrooms in olive oil.  Add chicken and chicken broth.  Heat through.  I added enough broth to give it some liquid to juice up the chicken, but not too much.  Cover a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Unwrap one sheet of Puff Pastry and roll out a bit.  Place in jelly roll pan.  Using a slotted spoon, spoon half of the mixture into the middle of the pastry.  Wrap the outside around and pinch off the corners.  Repeat this with the other sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.  Let it cool a bit and slice it up.  Serve with gravy over the top.      

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fitness Challenge

Whew, last week was a busy one and this one is shaping up to be as well!  In addition to keeping up with the household chores,  I have so many projects to do around the house as we are getting ready for baptism this weekend.  Oh, and then there are those four kids that I have to watch over and keep busy!  Even though my day usually begins no later than 6:30 and ends at 10:30, there are still not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I would like or to enjoy much "me" time.  

Sometimes I feel like it is selfish to desire "me" time, but in reality it's good for the mind and the soul!  While I know there are great benefits to having time to engage in activities that I enjoy, it is still hard to find time to fit that in, especially with a new baby who prefers to nurse than take a bottle and really loves her mother (in other words, being held by others only lasts so long).  I decided that I could fit in one of my hobbies while nursing:  reading.  I'm slowly making my way through books in short increments while I feed her and the others don't need my attention.  I am not on pace to read as much as I would like, but at least it's something.

My other priority right now is fitness.  Obviously I have baby weight that I need to lose, but a good workout also helps my mood, reduces my stress, and gives me a bit of that coveted alone time.  We have joined our local YMCA again, but unfortunately I am not able to utilize it as much as I'd like, because I am not comfortable leaving the baby in the play room quite yet.  Instead, I have decided to begin a program called From Couch to 5K.  It is a guided program that is to get me running a 5K in 8 weeks.  Last month I signed up for the Color Me Rad race near the end of August, so I should be ready to go by then.  In order to make this work, though, I have had to get up and get out the door in the morning.  It takes 30 minutes to do the program right now (though that may change in the future), so I have to hit the sidewalks before my husband goes to work or wait until later in the evening.  So far, so good.  I completed the first week and wanted to start the second week today, but the thunderstorms we are having this morning put a damper on that.  I am hoping to sneak out tonight and get my workout in so that I can stay on schedule!

I'd like to challenge you to find time in your schedule to fit in some "me" time and set a fitness goal that you would like to achieve.  Make it a priority!  The other things can wait.  Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do for your family, because in the end everyone benefits.  Recently there have been many fellow moms posting on Facebook about fitness goals they have set for themselves from a triathlon to a half marathon to a 5K.  I've seen a group of women from my hometown try out a boot camp fitness program (that starts VERY early in the morning might I add!) and become hooked.  It is so awesome to see them post about their success, how much they are enjoying it, and how much better they feel.  

I think that everyone, regardless of whether or not you're a parent, is busy and feels like there are just not enough hours in a day to accomplish all that you would like.  Take a step back and prioritize:  surely there are things that can wait while others cannot.  Your health is one that cannot wait.  Block out some time and get to it!  

What goal would you like to achieve?  Take the plunge and make it happen!  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Stay-At-Home Mom's Guide to Survival

I have been a stay-at-home mom for six years.  It's the longest amount of time I've had the same "job."  While the pay isn't great and the hours are long (it's a 24/7 gig), it's the most challenging and rewarding job title I've ever had the privilege to have.  Throughout the past six years I've learned many lessons.  I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I've gone days without leaving my house or interacting with another adult other than my husband.  I've watched hundreds of hours of Dora, Yo Gabba Gabba, and The Wiggles.  I've learned to function with very little sleep, eat quickly, and not count on getting one moment to myself some days.  Best of all, I've seen countless firsts happen for all of my children and been their first teacher to guide them through life.

While I love my "job," there are many things I wasn't prepared for when I started.  Today I've prepared a little "survival guide" for all those new (or not-so-new) stay-at-home moms out there.

No matter how fashionable you once were, you will eventually succumb to the stay-at-home mom uniform:  sweats or yoga pants and a t-shirt.  When you've had very little sleep, are being spit up on all of the time, and haven't showered, you'll appreciate the easily laundered, who-cares-if-they're-wrinkled versatility of these clothing items so stock up.  There may be a way to make them fashionable, but I'm all about comfort and practicality.  Stacy and Clinton would have a hay-day with my wardrobe.  In fact, maybe someone would like to nominate me?!

The glory days of singing in the shower for minutes on end are over.  If you get to shower at all, it will be quick and probably not without company, especially if your kids are mobile and able to open a door.    You will have several mornings when you will have to decide what is more important:  an extra ten minutes of rest or showering.  More times than not, the sleep will win out.  Better get creative with that hair or buy some cute hats.

While we're on the topic of the bathroom, be prepared to say goodbye to privacy while relieving yourself.  It is almost a guarantee that someone will follow you into the bathroom, pull up a stool, or ask twenty questions while you're there.  Just try to sneak off.  If you announce where you'll be, it's a guarantee you won't be alone.  

Enjoy the days when your child (or children) nap.  Grab a book, close your eyes, indulge in a snack you don't want to share.  Put off the chores and relax.  Someday soon, those days will end.  Nap time will become a battle you will not win.  The time and effort it takes to get them down will only result in a child who is not sleeping and a parent who is more than ready to.  

Keep a stash of your favorite treat.  There will be days when you will want to pull your hair out, scream, cry, or all of the above.  Somewhere up high and out of sight, stash something that will make you happy.  For me, it's chocolate.  Don't be ashamed to stuff as much in your mouth as you can while hiding behind the pantry door.  If it gets you through the moment, it is so worth it!

Accept that your house will never look as you would like it to.  Yes, you may be at home all day, but there are people running around that will not help your cause.  You will not have the time to deep clean frequently and toys will always be scattered around.  Stick to the basics.  If your husband chooses to negatively comment on how your house looks on any particular day, kindly suggest he clean it himself or hire a maid.

Schedule dates!  No, not dates with your husband (though those are important, too), but play dates with other moms, preferably with children near the age(s) of yours.  They will be your sanity-saver.  Don't be alarmed if you forget you're in adult company and begin conversing in the third person. Soon you will realize your mistake and stop.  No need to be embarrassed, as I'm sure they will slip up and make this mistake, too.  If the date must be at someone's house, offering your own is the best.  That way if your child spills, breaks something, or does the unthinkable on the floor, it's no sweat off your back.

Find parent and tot classes in your area.  It is a great way to meet other moms who stay at home.  Music classes are always great for little ones.  If the thought of dancing silly and singing in front of others makes you skittish, have no fear.  The room will be full of other parents just like you trying to have fun with their kids.  Before you know it, you'll be comfortable sticking out your tongue and closing your eyes while turning in a circle singing the Tooty-Ta.

Contrary to popular belief, don't expect to be catching up on your favorite shows during the day (you know everyone always assumes because you stay at home you have all the time in the world to watch Soaps and trashy shows).  Instead, be prepared to learn basic Spanish to keep up with the new phrases your child will learn from Dora and listen to the new hit songs by The Fresh Beat Band or Yo Gabba Gabba over and over and over again.  If you find yourself presenting everything in three steps, it's okay.  Dora gets to the best of us.  Hang in there!  Soon you'll be learning more than you ever wanted to know about the Mesozoic Era and humming along to catchy tunes about math concepts.  All in a good day's work!

Last, but not least, try to remind yourself at least once a day that this time will go by all too quickly.  I am more than guilty of feeling stuck in a rut, restless, and irritated by the unpleasant phase my kids may be going through.  There are times I am incredibly stressed, ready to throw a tantrum of my own, and pining for just one minute alone, but this too shall pass.  Before I know it, my kids will be too busy or too cool to hang out with Mom.  All of those days I felt would never end will have and all that will be left are the memories that we made.  Enjoy the time that you have now, no matter how crazy and tiring it may be, for someday soon we will be lonely and wishing for just one more day of the chaos that was once our everyday norm.

I always say that this picture pretty much sums up life around our house!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer School With Mom Week #2: Rainbow Fish and an Ocean Snack

We are continuing with our ocean and sea life theme this week.  I think it may last all of June at this rate!  The kids are interested in learning more about everything that lives in the ocean and we are having fun doing it with food, crafts, reading, and math activities.  One of our summer bucket list items is going to the aquarium.  I think that would be a great treat at the end of our unit.

Today we read the story The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and made our own Rainbow Fish.  Each kid got a paper plate and tissue paper and tin foil scales.  They glued them on and topped it off with a googly eye.

Rainbow Fish in Progress

Working Hard

 For an afternoon snack we made an ocean in a cup.  We crumbled up graham crackers in a Ziploc bag and put them on the bottom for sand.  We made vanilla pudding in a bag, too, and added just a touch of blue frosting coloring to make our water (which turned green because of the yellow pudding!  We decided our water was a little dirty!).  You could add Swedish Fish or another type of gummy fish, but my kids aren't fans of those, so we added chocolate chips and called them sharks because of their points.

Working on the Pudding

Shaking it Up!

Smashing Up the Graham Cracker

Adding the "Sharks"

The Finished Product

We topped off our afternoon with a Finding Nemo movie party.  They had fun naming the sea creatures and my oldest even got out a book from the library to find the right names for the fish!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ocean Food

We are enjoying our first week of Summer School with Mom!  Yesterday I taught the Princess how to do a simple dot-to-dot and she begged for more.  She was so proud of her fish bowl that she made around two fish!  She even took extra time coloring her fish just the way she wanted them.

We had a pretty busy day yesterday, so we didn't dive into any projects.  We did, however, plop down some beach towels in the middle of our living room and have a beach picnic.  We had turkey and cheese starfish sandwiches, Goldfish crackers, and some apple slices.  The kids had a blast and I can see them asking to do it again in the near future.

The Picnic Lunch

Today we had octopus hot dogs on a plate in a sea of fish (not pictured).  They were also a hit!  The one time it's okay to play with your food is when your mom turns it into something too hard to resist!

The Octopus Hot Dog

We're going to knock one of our bucket list items out today:  making cookies!  I think this is more for Mom's benefit than the kids.  I am craving a good old oatmeal cookie.  Nothing better to do on this cloudy, rainy afternoon!  I may even pop in Finding Nemo!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Time for Summer School with Mom! This Weeks Theme: Ocean and Sea LIfe

Summer has officially kicked off at our house.  This summer I am planning to work with my kiddos on a variety of skills and hold my own Summer School with Mom.  Oddly enough, my kindergarten graduate was already asking for math worksheets Friday afternoon, so I think we're on the same page!  My middle two always like projects to complete, so I am hoping to have some fun with it.  

This week we are starting a unit on Ocean and Sea Life.  Each day I hope to complete a few activities that have to do with our theme.  Today we made an octopus and completed a developmentally appropriate math worksheet.  We will also be reading a lot this summer.  We have set our goals and the kiddos will receive a reward once we've reached our milestones along the way.  They will also be participating in the summer reading program at the library.  I plan to keep them busy (though I'm sure I'll still hear, "I'm bored" plenty!)!

To make our octopus, we used a balloon and crepe paper.  I blew up the balloons first and let them have some fun batting them around for a little gross motor work.  We turned on some music and I challenged my oldest not to let it fall on the ground more than ten times during a song.

Gross Motor Fun

Once they were done playing, I gave them a Sharpie and had them draw a face on their balloon.  I cut the strips of paper for the tentacles and they counted out eight legs to glue onto their balloon with a glue stick.  Simple project, but they turned out really cute!

The Finished Product!