Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Best is Yet to Come

I'm feeling a little down these days.  I'm going to admit it . . . having 4 kids isn't easy.  There. . . I said it.  In fact, it's really freaking hard.  I appreciate all of the comments from everyone who will say "But you do it so well." and "You are doing a wonderful job."  The truth is . . . I am feeling kind of like I'm not doing so hot these days.

Someone is ALWAYS crying.  Someone ALWAYS needs something.  Someone is ALWAYS doing something that I've asked them not to or that they know they shouldn't be.  Someone is ALWAYS making a mess that needs cleaned up.

I consider myself to be a pretty patient person.  I know that I can put up with a lot but I'm having a tough time these days. I've had several moments where I've felt like I've reached my limit.  I'm not really sure exactly how I didn't fall off the deep end - but I didn't.  I dealt with it and could almost laugh about it later.

A big part of the problem is that the past few weeks have been full of trying to adapt to our changing schedule.  The lazy days of summer are gone and this is the first year we actually have 2 kiddos in school every day.  That means we have to get up and have breakfast early.  We have to catch a bus and I have to be at a bus stop at drop off time.  It's been a challenge to get everyone on the same page in the mornings and the living things in the house adjusting well is more important than worrying about all of the other things that need done.  Things like the laundry that is piling up and the bathroom that needs scrubbed...not to mention the kitchen floor.  I'm working on getting everyone together so that I can get myself together.  It's not as easy as I thought it would be.  I'm frazzled and overwhelmed at least once a day...on good days.

It doesn't help that stupid people add stress to my life. . . by stupid people I'm talking about the moron who stole a lawnmower out of our yard while Jerry was cutting the grass.  Yes . . . he left it in the yard so that he could run in and get the key to unlock the back gate and when he got back . . . no lawnmower.  That person sucks.

Jerry would also tell you that I try to do too much.  A lot of it is with hopes that it will simplify my life a little.  Like cooking for a month . . . I can honestly say that that experience has made thing A LOT easier around here.  Now, I can't even imagine what it would be like around here if I had to make dinner every night.  It was a lot of work but it wasn't stressful.  It took a lot of planning (that part of it was probably the most difficult for me . . . finding time to sit down with my 1/2 of the list and working out what I needed and making sure I had it all) and it took an entire day away from home but it was SO worth it!

I've also changed the way I'm couponing, again.  I've switched back to The Grocery Game and to saving inserts instead of clipping coupons.  I just don't have the time.  I'm a little (okay, a lot) sad about it because I love my binder and having all my coupons organized and ready to just pull out when I need them but having coupons to clip on my To-Do list was adding a lot of stress to my life.

The thing is . . . even with all of this going on and all of the stress I've been feeling, I'm hopeful.  I'm excited about moving soon.  Of course, not anytime REAL soon because we haven't found the next owners of this house yet and we need to do that before we can jump into another mortgage but it will happen.  I'm excited about the holidays coming.  I'm excited about cooler weather and spending more time with my family.  I'm excited about making more great memories because I know in years to come those are what I will remember vividly.  I won't remember EXACTLY why I was stressed out (I'm sure I will remember that is wasn't easy) but I will remember the look on my kids faces when we wake up on Christmas mornings or how cute they will look in their Halloween costumes or how much fun they had doing this:

They are pretending to be race cars...they did this for about 25 minutes.

I'm kidding myself if I think I'm in control - I'm just along for the ride!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Maybe I do know what I'm talking about

I very rarely complain about people on my blog.  In fact, I try to make it a point to not put anyone down and try to stay very positive - you never know when someone will stumble upon what you write and put out there and be offended or upset.  However, I just have to complain a little today.  I have a major issue with someone. Someone who lives in a pineapple under the sea.  Someone who has one of the most annoying laughs in the whole entire world and has the IQ of a . . . well, a sponge.

I tried very hard to not expose my children to this annoying, yellow square but my FIL really does enjoy watching his antics.  I always found it funny that he would tell everyone about the episode where they are swearing but you never actually hear it because there is always a fog horn or dolphin or something that makes a loud sound every time someone says the bad word.  Then, in the same breath, would talk about how it is appropriate for my 2, 3 and 4 year old children to watch.  I didn't push it . . . but I'm now thinking that maybe I should have.

The dangers of SpongeBob have now been brought to light and I'm feeling kind of guilty about not sticking to my guns a little more.  I'm not sure it would have helped much - but I'm thinking I should have tried.  I'm also not naive enough to think that I ruined them for life because I let them watch SpongeBob but now that I know it isn't a good idea for them to be exposed, before it was more of a gut feeling and now it is documented,  I can do something about it now.

The twins are not allowed to watch SpongeBob anymore.  The "big" kids know it.  I don't think it has really phased them - Nate is the only one who kind of misses it a bit but I have told him that he can watch 1 episode after they go to bed if he absolutely has to.  He did the first night and hasn't since.

Our new obsession around here . . .

Which I can totally live with.  It makes me feel like I am letting them be kids.  I'm not letting them grow up too fast.  They actually enjoy something AGE appropriate and something that is innocent and educational.

I do have to say that the SpongeBob thing is more my fault than the creators of SpongeBob.  SpongeBob is not made for 2, 3 or even 4 and 5 year olds to watch.  SpongeBob is more for the 8, 9 and 10 year old crew.  It is hard, though, to avoid it all together when it is everywhere.  

I'm enjoying the little difference I'm seeing in their personalities, too.  It seems like they are happier and less "violent" - Dean is a biter, pusher, puller, hitter - now that we are watching something that engages them a little bit when we are watching TV.  It's kind of amazing how one week without the yellow guy can make a difference.

Of course, we did a no TV Monday this week and they were awesome!  They played together with only a few minor problems here and there.  They laughed a lot more and seemed happier in general.  I didn't get anything done, though.  I was fully engaged with them all day and by the time nap time came I was BEAT!  One day a week, though . . . I can handle that!

Okay . . . off to throw a load of laundry in before the Hot Dog song comes on!  Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Either REALLY smart or totally INSANE

A while back I talked to a few of the mommy friends I have about spending the day cooking with me.

You see, I came across this site where you are GIVEN menus, grocery lists, directions and recipes for how to cook a bunch of meals for your family in one day.  Essentially, you cooked 8 different dinners (4 of each - so 16 meals for you and 16 for your partner in crime), 4 lunches (again 4 of each - 8 lunches for you and 8 for your partner) and 3 breakfasts (4 of each - 6 for you and 6 for the other crazy person who decided to spend all day cooking with you).

A few of them looked at me like I was crazy.  A few of them seemed interested but they weren't really ready to commit to it.  I had one friend who seemed as interested as I was but life kind of got in the way (as it usually does) and I never really did anything about it.

Then the twins turned 2.  Dinner time around this place turned into a nightmare.  I couldn't get anything done and everyone was crying and miserable.  I was ready to run out the door and straight to the nearest bar for a glass (or three) of wine as soon as Jerry got home - not that I ever did . . . but MAN was I tempted a few times!

So, I started thinking about once a month cooking again.  I started thinking about how much easier it would make that crazy time between 4 and 6.  I started to really like the idea of not rushing around and trying to think of what to make because I forgot to thaw out the meat the night before or never made it to the store to get that one missing ingredient.  Then I started thinking about my friend, Christine, and if she was REALLY as interested as I thought she was.  I figured if she was interested then I would take the next step and start planning with her - if she wasn't or couldn't do it for whatever reason (trust me . . . I know how reasons pop up when you have as many children as we do!) I was going to chuck the idea and just start buying cases of wine instead.

She was interested.  In fact . . . she was excited!  We talked back and forth through emails and picked a date, a menu and discussed who was purchasing what for our big cooking day.

Here's what we picked:  September 2009 Menu @ Once A Month Mom  

Here are some pictures that Christine took of our big cooking day - which was this past Sunday:
This doesn't include any Dairy, Meat or Produce that we used.

This is without any of the meat, dairy or produce we used.  It was A LOT of stuff!!!
The good news is, though, that we spent under $150 a piece on the whole venture!  16 dinners, 8 lunches and 6 breakfasts for under $150!!!
My first time making muffins from scratch - I usually use a mix.  They are really good, too!!!

I was so excited when I finished these - the first time I've ever made muffins from scratch and not out of a box!  They were good, too!!!

Mmmm ~ Baked Ziti

Christine had this for dinner tonight and said her family gave it a thumbs up - she did warn me that it has a kick because of some added Red Pepper Flakes but I can only think of one little girl in this family who will complain about that!

  They tasted a lot better than they look

 I smoked up Christine's house making these . . . but the one we sampled was REALLY yummy!

  Dividing a giant pot of liquid into 4 ziploc bags is a lot harder than you would think!  Great Job, Christine!!!   ;)

 Seriously . . . you can't imagine how tough it is to put liquid in a ziploc without making a mess...

  The first time I ever made an honest to goodness cheese sauce!!

 This might be what's for dinner tomorrow night . . . it looked interesting enough and I learned how to make a cheese sauce for it! :)

  Smelled amazing  :)

 We had this for dinner tonight and 3 out of the 4 kids liked it - Jerry and I enjoyed it, too. We paired it with some leftover grilled chicken breasts! It worked out great!

It was a lot of work but we are already planning our next big cooking day.  I had a wonderful time getting to know Christine a little better and I feel like I gained a ton of experience in the kitchen!!  I also feel great knowing that my family will enjoy eating warm dinners that won't drive me to drink!

I betting it isn't for everyone, though.  Don't let my excitement fool you . . . it was HARD work!  We put in a 10 hour day and only stopped for about half an hour to eat Subway that Christine's wonderful husband, Jim, brought home for us for lunch.

  However, I think we picked the perfect time to start doing this because fall always makes me feel like cooking and the cooler weather definitely makes it easier to be in a kitchen all day.  It is really hard not to sample, though!!!  :)

I'd love to hear stories from anyone else who has tried something like this.  I'd love any tips or suggestions that you think we need to know as we continue on this journey.  I will say that I'm sure we will cut some of our time down once we start to figure out how things go a little better.

I'll keep you posted!  Now . . . off to bed.  My newest venture -

Inspired To Action Button

starts on Thursday and I'm not sure I'm quite ready!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

So much has changed . . .

I have a blog post brewing about what I did today - 10 years after so many people's lives were changed forever - but it will have to wait for another day.  I am exhausted and can't wait to crawl into my bed and sleep until the alarm rings at 7 am so that I can get my kids up for school and ready for Miss Ginnis (Hey, that's what Danika calls her!) and the bus stop.

My kids.  10 years ago I didn't have any kids.  Now, I have 4.  10 years ago, I wasn't married but I was madly in love with my husband.  10 years ago, I was living with my parents...sleeping soundly in my bed after having my gallbladder taken out a few days earlier, when my mom came up to my attic room to wake me up and tell me that we were under attack.

Of course she didn't mean we as in specifically me, my father, mother and sister...she meant we as a nation.  Even though I do not personally know anyone who lost their life that day - or anyone who lost a loved one that day - I feel their loss when I remember what happened and I don't only remember on the anniversary every September.

I remember what others lost every day when I kiss my husband goodbye in the morning...I remember to tell him I love him because you never know.  I remember their loss every time I get off the phone with my parents . . . I remember to tell them I love them because you never know.  I remember their loss every time I start to lose my patience with one of my children . . . I remember to tell them I love them and kiss them instead of raise my voice at them because you never know.  I remember their loss every time I start to worry about things that aren't really important . . . I remember what I have and how amazing my life really is because you never know.

One of my friends posted this as her status on facebook today:   "Live & love like you did on 9/12/01 versus how you lived & loved on 9/10/01."

It made me think of how 9/11/01 really did change how I look at the people I love.

Then I think of the brief conversation I had with a friend's husband today - he commented something along the lines of it being a shame that it takes a horrific tragedy like 9/11 for people to appreciate what they have. We should appreciate what we have every day. . . because you never know.

I'm pretty sure I had decided that I didn't want any kids on 9/11/01.

There were a lot of reasons but mostly because I didn't want to bring them into a world like we had that day.  I didn't want them to be somewhere where they could be hurt like I had seen so many people hurting.

Of course, I do have children and am grateful for them everyday.  I love them so much - and hate to think about something bad happening to them. . . I'm sure a lot of the parents who lost their children on 9/11/01 felt the same way.  Having kids really is like having your heart walk around outside of your body.

God bless America and all of the men, women, children and volunteers who died or lost someone they loved  10 years ago today...I remember and will never forget.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The differences . . .

I am not worried about Danika.  However, it is hard to avoid comparing my children to one another.  They are only 14 months apart.  So, the stuff that Danika is doing now . . . Nate just did last year.  Here's where this is all coming from - Danika had homework.
Danika this morning - on her first day of school
Preschool homework is pretty least that is what I thought when Nate brought his letter bag home and we searched the web for pictures of things that started with that letter.  I remember how Nate would spout out so many words I had trouble helping him find the pictures fast enough . . . then, there is Danika.

Me:  Danika, we need to find some pictures of things that start with the letter A.

Danika:  Like Ice Cream?

Me:  No, Ice Cream starts with an I.  We are looking for words that make the (insert a sounds here).

Danika:  Like a car?

Me:  Listen to me . . . A..A...Apple.  A...A...Alligator.  See?

Danika: How about a picture of a balloon like the one for Dean and David's Birthday?

Yep.  No comparing there!

Speaking of Dean and David's Birthday . . . here's some unedited pictures of when they turned two on Sunday.