Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kids In the Kitchen

Last night at dinner my 5 year old proclaimed, "this is the best salad ever!"  All my kids had seconds on salad last night.  When my 5 year old asked, "Mom, why is this salad soo good?", my response was "because you made it!".  When kids are involved with meal planning & preparation it makes a huge difference.

Dinner last night was pizza and salad, and my girls made it.  The girls were closely supervised and involved in every step of the meal: planning the dinner, gathering ingredients, preparation, setting the table and sweeping the floor.  I had lofty ambitions of having my girls (ages 3 & 5) help roll out the dough and thought it could be a fun activity while getting dinner made.  Well, that didn't quite happen.  Due to time constraints and flour fights, I pulled them off the dough and put them on the cheese station!  I rolled the dough and put it on the pans.  They were my supervisors for the sauce - telling me how much sauce to put on and where to spread it, then I gave them each a bag of shredded mozzerella and let them go to town (after they washed their hands of course!).  Normally I would have also included some veggies - black olives, peppers, mushrooms, etc.  But this was a last minute meal idea and we used what we had on hand.

For the salad, the girls picked from the fridge what they wanted to include, nothing fancy: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots.  I did the washing and chopping, they took care of the assembly.  We sat down and ate together as a family.  During dinner the girls shared how much fun they had and ideas for pizza toppings and salad fixings for dinners to come.  They were proud of the meal they created and I was very proud of them.

(This was also a very affordable dinner.  Pizza dough is $.99 for each ball at Trader Joe's.  Tomato Sauce is $.99 per jar at Wegman's, and cheese is around $1.99 a bag at Wegman's.)

Have a great day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I've Got A Dream

Rapunzel's dream in the movie Tangled is to see the lanterns gleam.  My Dream is not as a grand.

I dream of the day when I can use the bathroom in peace.  No one banging on the door, frantically shouting out to me as if I have been gone for a few years and not a few seconds. I dream of the day that I can walk in the bathroom and find it just how I left it.  Towels hung up on the rack, soap next to the sink.  No contents left behind in or around bowl!  I've learned to let go of the whole soap & towel thing, and could care less about the seat being left up.  If the wet towel and soap container are on the floor, it means my kids are washing their hands. Which is a very good thing.  But the flushing is another story....

Out of my four kids, two are boys.  They don't have the best aim (hence the where is that pee smell coming from in our powder room!?!) and mine don't always remember to flush.  But, someday my dream will come true!  (I hope).

Have a great evening!

Friday, February 10, 2012


My younger kids go to a wonderful Christian based preschool.  My 5 year old is there daily in the pre-k program and my 3 year old twins go once a week in the 2 1/2 year old class.  (Friday's are MY morning - all of my kids are at school!  This morning I manged a visit to the doctor, a quick trip to Target & Starbucks and still managed to get about 1/2 hour of work done for a client!).

There is a mom I see at the preschool pretty much every day, but I have never spoken to her.  She has twins in the same class as my twins.  She is not very friendly and I would say border line rude.  Drives way, way too fast in the parking lot, has been known to take up two parking spots, never holds the door open, even if you are standing right there, never says hello or even smiles.  I have been seeing this woman on a regular basis since September.  Today I looked at her and got it. She is surviving. She has four beautiful children and she had them within four years.  Her children are clean and put together.  Their hair is always done.  They are always smiling and happy.  Her oldest is about 4, then she has 2 1/2 year old twins and an infant in the carrier.  I was this mom.  Survival mode is very different from regular mom mode.  You are not thinking about yourself or others or getting through the day.  You are thinking about your kids and you are focusing on getting through the next 30 minutes or hour and constantly thinking about everything you need to do, constantly counting heads and making sure you have everything you need to get through those next 30 minutes (backpack, coat, bottles, diapers, etc).  As my kids have gotten older, things have gotten easier. A lot easier.  We have our good days, our not so good days and our BAD, wait until your father gets home days.  I'm sure my sisters will be the first to tell you that I am still a hot mess.  Yes, I do pick up hair ties off the floor of my house and use them to hold my hair back.  But who cares.  My kids are happy & smiling.  My kids are clean (for the most part), they are fed, they are loved.

When I was at Target this morning, I saw a mom struggling to get her kid in the car, her bags in the trunk, while trying to hold the cart. Then she had to take the cart back.  I went up to her and said let me help you, I understand how hard it can be.  The look of relief on her face was thanks enough.  Next week I am going to approach this mom at school, and just say hello, I get it.

I hope you have a wonderful, Blessed weekend.  I will be spending some time in the laundry room as I have had a slight relapse - I have one basket of washcloths to be folded (which I will ask the kids to do), one load in the washer and one load in the dryer!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It seemed like a good idea at the time.....

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  This phrase was coined by friends of ours.  They have since moved out West, but it is something that we still say in our house on a daily basis and brings a smile to my face thinking about our friends.  Try it. It fits most situations, especially with the kids.  Here is how we have said it in our house lately:

-"It seemed like a good idea at the time to get the twins wooden blocks for their birthday."  I said this while caught in the crossfire of a block war zone.  It hurts to get hit with a wooden block.

-"It seemed like a good idea at the time to give the kids gum." Said while scraping gum off floor.

-"It seemed like a good idea at the time to let the twins have stickers." Said while scraping stickers off wall.

-"It seemed like a good idea at the time for the twins to have an easel." Said while washing marker off walls, carpet and easel.

Today is Thursday.  My sitter will be here in 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Not that I am counting.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Lunch Time Dippers!

My kids are good eaters.  This is something that I really don't notice on a daily basis or appreciate until we are around other kids.  Yesterday, my 5 year old had a friend over for lunch & play date.  Friend did not touch lunch, (lunch was something that Friend liked too) while my 5 year old and 3 year old each polished off two hot dogs (nitrate free, 100% organic etc. of course!).

We try to stick to a schedule for meal time.  But if my kids are hungry and the meal is not ready it is time for major meltdowns and mutiny!  I try to be prepared.  If I know I am running late or things are just taking longer than I anticipated, I put out some dippers.  What kid does not like to dip! 

In the picture above, on the plate to the left we have baby carrots, celery sticks and low fat ranch dressing.  On the plate on the right there are apple wedges and yogurt dipping sauce.  We buy the big containers of yogurt - this is vanilla yogurt with Cinnamon mixed in.

Some of my kids other favorite dippers are:

-Hummus with fresh veggies - I use store made hummus (we like the one from Sam's Club) and use the veggies I have on hand.

-Bruschetta with bread or crackers (Wegmans has a great brucshetta in a jar for $2.99)

-Bread Sticks with Pizza Dip.  This is a good one and we have be known to make a meal out of this!  The kids are involved with making this too.  For the Pizza Dip - soften cream cheese in microwave, top with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni slices.  Bake until it is all gooey!

-Pretzel sticks with cheese sauce or honey mustard

In case you were wondering, my laundry room is still in really good shape!  I have one basket of neatly folded kids' clothes to be put away.  An empty washer and a few things ready to come out of the dryer.  Only clothes hanging are clothes that are drying!  And, I also discovered the pee smell in the powder room.  It was the Dora potty ring seat.  I took the entire thing apart and scrubbed it.

Have a great day! Please share some of the favorite food items your kids like to dip!

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Monday, February 6, 2012


Empty baskets in a semi-organized laundry room!

no more tripping over laundry baskets!

I am the Queen of the Laundry Room!  I have conquered the clothes and I won....for now!  Thank you to everyone who contacted me with the tips and tricks that you use in your home to stay on top of this!  I spent close to 3 hours Sunday morning, sorting, folding and putting clothes and linens away.  There was a Nora Robert's Movie Marathon on Lifetime to keep me company while I did all of this, and yes, I watched a good part of two movies. (I never did find out though if Heather Locklear's character really did witness a murder, or was she going crazy?) 

I am going to try out some of the tips you sent to me this week.  I have also added some household rules I am going to try to stick to:

1) If you put it in the machine, you are responsible for taking it out of the machine!

2) If clothes are not in your hamper, they will not be washed! (today was the first morning my oldest did not leave his pj's on the floor!).

3) I will do one load of laundry each day. (Emergency loads can change this rule at any time.  Emergency loads - urgent stains, blood, pee, vomit etc.  Or when I forget it is "purple" day at school and there are no clean purple shirts to be found!)

4) Laundry will be folded or hung appropriately as soon as it exits machine! (please note in photo above:  green sweater hanging to dry, freshly pressed Easter clothes for the kids and neatly folded baskets of towels ready to be put away!)

5) I will put basket of folded laundry away within 24 hours.

6) Let the kids help - they can run clothes to their own rooms and fold towels and match socks!

I must say that the bedroom looks so much bigger and cleaner without all of those baskets of clothes! I currently have an empty washer - which is a first - and one load of sheets in the dryer.  The dryer is still running.  I will let you know how this new system goes.  Have a great day!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Buried Alive!

Baskets taunting me and waiting for my attention!
My lovely laundry room!

I currently have five baskets of clean laundry that need to be folded and put away; one load in the dryer that needs to be removed, folded and put away; one load in the washer that needs to be placed in the dryer; a pile of clean linens from Christmas on top of the dryer that need to be put away and an assortment of items on the laundry room floor that need to be sorted & laundered. Not to mention the kids Holiday Clothes that are hanging and need to be put away.  This number can change at any given time.  Usually it goes up and up and up.  I just cannot keep up with the laundry!  I'm seriously considering leaving the Christmas linens out and using them for Easter.  We can have red and gold plaid at Easter time, right?

One day, my husband is going to come home from work and ask the kids where I am.  They won't be able to find me, because I will be buried under all the clothes.  (Maybe I can nap while I am trapped?!)

To try to keep up with this, I have stopped ironing and I have stopped folding my husband's clothes (he is lucky if they get sorted and washed).  I have tried having "laundry day".  You know, one day a week where I am chained in the laundry room getting all of this done.  That didn't quite work out for me.  Instead, I am buried by laundry on a constant daily basis.  It never stops and is out of control!  On an average week, I will have 8-10 loads of laundry to do. That is a regular week - a week that does not include bedding covered in vomit or pee.  Week's that I have those lovely extras can easily add on 4 extra loads!

My machines run constantly and I always have a back log of baskets that need to be dealt with!  I love when my mother-in-law comes to visit.  I will just happen to have a basket or two of the kids clothes and ask if she will mind folding them.  She doesn't mind (or at least never says she does!) and will stay up late into the night folding all the kid's clothes.  (Last time she was here she even put them away and cleaned out one kid's drawers and closet.  It was a very good thing!)  I'm sure Nana knows by now, that I will not fold the kids clothes for the entire week before she comes to visit and instead save it for Nana!  My mother is here now and is an excellent sheet folder.   That basket in front of the dryer is all for Grandma to help out with! I will admit, I will role the sheets up in a ball and ask her for help.  She gets so disgusted she re-folds everything!  She can fold sheets better than Martha Stewart (yes, I have watched her tutorial many times!).

Do you have any tips for keeping this in control?  My husband has advised me to stop folding all the clothes.  Just put the basket of clean clothes in each kids' room and let them forage through it for an outfit. That really doesn't work.  The other day while I was standing in line at the store, the woman in front of me asked for extra hangers.  She said that in her house she takes the clothes out of the dryer, puts them right on hangers and takes them immediately to the closet.  She also only has one kid.  I would have to invest in a lot more hangers, but maybe I will try this!

I'm off to try and make a dent in this and find somethign to wear.....  I'm still in my pj's because I have no clean clothes!  Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Heart Smart - go put on your red!

This morning my oldest son woke me up at 5:22am as sweet as could be: "Mom you are here!  Are you feeling better? Are you okay?"  It was the first time I was happy to hear his little voice that early!

We had a little "challenge" in our house yesterday and I did not realize until this morning how scared my little angels were. 

I have a minor heart thing, I get occasional arrhythmias.  An arrhythmia is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.  My heart beats way too fast.  I usually only get them every so often and they go away just as quickly as they start.  No big deal. Yesterday was a different story and I did end up in the ER.  I am okay, I spent most of last evening  in Atrial fibrillation which caused my blood pressure to be dangerously high.  I was given medication and closely monitored.  My nurse and doctor at Loudoun Inova were beyond wonderful.  Yes, they were my health care providers first, but I learned that they too have small children (my nurse has twins & my doc has 3 kids under 5) and they "got it".   I am so Blessed to have family and friends who live close by and literally dropped everything to come and help my family.  Thank you, Thank you. Thank you.  Our neighbor was at our house seconds after I called her and asked to watch the kids.  My brother came and sat with me and watched Grey's & Private Practice and never once asked to change the channel and my brother in law came to pick me up in the middle of the night!

Today, things in our house are back to normal. I have some follow up tests today, but  I was up with the kids this morning, getting them ready & off to school.  My husband did get up first and take the breakfast shift.  Then I had to kick him off the couch, hoping I would get a few minutes to sit and rest. (yes I did! and I told him I was going to put that in here today for all is MS2K+ people to see!)  His response " the doctor said it wasn't life threatening".

During the ride to school my 5 year old had endless questions about the pictures they took of my heart, was my doctor a girl or a boy and the sharpies (needle) I had to get in my arm.  I could see the little wheels in her head turning as she was trying to understand it all.

What I have is not life threatening, but many heart problems can be.  Did you know that according to the American Heart Association, Heart Disease is the #1 Killer of Women.  February is American Heart Month and today is National Wear Red Day.  Please support this cause.  More importantly, please learn the warning signs of heart attack and stroke.  The signs and symptoms are very different for women, having that knowledge can save a life.  Heart attacks are not "some old man's" disease.  Heart attacks do not discriminate by age or race.  Please take a minute today and go to the American Heart Association's Web Page at: 

Their website also has some wonderful tips on getting "Heart Healthy" - everything from diet and nutrition tips to how to relieve stress.  I plan on checking this out and incorporating them into my family's lifestyle. Will you join me? 

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Thursdays and I have a love - hate relationship.  Thursdays are my favorite day of the week so I love them (more to come on this), but they are also my busiest day of the week, so I truly hate, hate, hate them.  On Thursdays I go nonstop from the moment I get up until the kids are in bed.  Here is how my day has gone so far:

12:20 am Twin B comes into room - mama are you there?  Yes, I am here, pull her into bed with me.

3:20am Twin A comes into room - Hi Mom. What are you doing?  I am sleeping, it is still night night time, pull him into bed with me.  He shouts - there's sister!

5:02am 7 year old comes into room - Mom, I'm ready for school.  Me - it is too early, go back to bed.

Somewhere around 5:30 Twin A demands milk.  Husband goes and gets!  I am then entertained by Twin A's singing, talking and non stop questioning until I get up!

6ish - go downstairs look for coffee pot....then the fun begins:

Get all kids fed, get oldest to bus, come back in from bus, 3 little ones want 2nd breakfast.  Feed them again (and clean up the kitchen again). Put laundry in, make beds, clean 2 bathrooms. Give three 3 little ones shower, get them dressed.  Get myself showered and dressed.  Take 5 year old to school, then go to 7 year old's school for 1st Grade Award Ceremony. Go home and start lunch. It is 9:40am.

Over the next two hours, I will make lunch for the little ones and our Thursday afternoon babysitter and clean up the main level of the house (I have already scrubbed the powder room 2x today and it still smells like pee!), get some work done for a client (which I really need to start on!).  Get myself changed then go pick up 5 year old from school and rush home from school.

All throughout the morning I remind myself at 12:15pm our babysitter will be here and I will have a break.  Each Thursday I have a babysitter and I go play Tennis.  I have one hour and half.  Ninety minutes to myself one day each week.  I don't think about my kids, my husband or my dirty house and 5 baskets of laundry that need to be folded.  The ladies I play tennis with don't care that my house is dirty.  They care that I am there and that I can hit the ball back to them.  My coaches don't care that my house is dirty or that I left dishes in the sink.  During this time I don't care either.  I am able to leave my mommy hat at home and be me.  Now, I am well aware that I will never be on the pro tennis circuit.  My goal is to have fun, get some exercise and be able to play Tennis Socially with friends or my kids.  I started playing tennis last summer.  It was frustrating, it was hard, it was challenging, it was FUN!  I am not athletic or sporty - never played any formal sports.  Thought about quitting several times.  But I have a wonderful, supportive coach who keeps me motivated!  I now treasure my time each week on the courts.

After Tennis I do race home and pick back up where I left off.  I have about a 1/2 hour before I get oldest from the bus, then I have about 1/2 hour before we leave for his weekly OT session.  We get home around 5:15pm, then it is dinner, homework, baths and bed.  

How do YOU spend your Thursday?  Enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Breakfast Battle!

I am very fortunate that all four of my kids are good eaters.  By no means are they members of the clean plate club (well, one kid is!).  But the the cpc is not something that we enforce in our house or even need to.  Good eaters in our house means that they eat a variety of foods, including many fruits and vegetables, stop eating when they have had enough and they are open to trying new things.  Like all kids they have certain favorite dishes. My kids do have expensive tastes!  All the kids love shrimp & lobster. My 5 year old loves ribs, salad and salmon and my 7 year old often will order a crab cake when we are out in a restaurant!  My 5 year old often will declare that she prefers "fancy food" to "kid food".  Also, like all kids there are certain things that my kids will not touch with a 10 ft pole.  Fortunately, the things that they don't like tend not to be as healthy - pasta with cream sauce, casseroles and frozen dinners, etc.  We eat together as a family and the kids are involved in the grocery shopping and meal preparation.  We also try to get the kids out to local farms as much as possible and pick our own produce. (Loudoun County, VA has some wonderful farms!  I cannot wait for the Spring Farm Tour! Great Country Farms & Crooked Run Orchards are two of our favorites!)  This helps them to see where their food comes from and if it is something that they dug up from the ground or picked, they want to eat it!

Even though they are good eaters, we still have breakfast battles on a regular basis.  My oldest needs to be at the bus stop by 7:23am. Mornings in our house are pretty rushed and I like to do a quick and easy breakfast on week days. I do not like being a short order cook, fixing a different meal for each kid.  Oatmeal and cold cereal will only go so far in my house!  My oldest is also not a fan of "traditional" breakfast type foods - he won't eat eggs or french toast; doesn't really even like regular toast.  Some mornings his breakfast is a PBJ or Nutella sandwich!  I have found that the more creative I am with breakfast and the more things I make myself the kids like them better and will eat them!  On weekends we will make a big batch of pancakes and put them in the freezer.   I can take them out as needed and microwave for a few seconds.  This morning we had funny faces for breakfast!  My 5 year old decorated the above face herself!  I put a big plate of sliced fruit in the middle of the table and let them go at it (we also did have chocolate chips available in moderation and whip cream for hair!) I also will make mini muffins and different types of bread.  Again, I try to do several batches at once and freeze them.

What do your kids eat for breakfast?  What works in your house?

Have a great day!