Friday, April 29, 2011

Kiki's Garden

My Sister In-Law's birthday is today and as we organize the foundation that will be set up in her memory, we are asking all who knew and loved her to plant a Kiki's Garden.  This garden could be a large vegetable garden, a small butterfly garden or even one potted sunflower.  Whatever the size or make up of your garden, we are hopeful that people will reflect upon their memories of Krista as they watch it bloom and grow.  Photos of these gardens will be collected and put up on the foundation's website.   It is our goal, as we get this foundation off the ground, to have Kiki's Gardens all over the globe honoring our beautiful angel. 

Z and I are planning a sunflower garden for his Kiki's Garden.  Today we will plant some in pots and the rest will go into the soil around Memorial Day.  We are hoping to plant it at the end of our driveway so we will think of Kiki every time we come home.  We bought my mother in-law a dragon fly ornament for her Kiki's Garden and my mother and father will be planting a Kiki's Garden at the lake.   My sister in-law loved nature and loved to garden.  I know she will be smiling down on all of the Kiki's Gardens this summer and we can't wait to have our dragon fly "Kiki" visit us and our garden once again.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sink Standoff Update

I know I have left you hanging with the sink standoff for the last month.  I am sure you have all had many sleepless nights wondering if I was able to wash my hands in my bathroom once again.  I am sorry to say that my bathroom sink still looks like this :(

Yes it is still clean but that is because nobody has used it in over a month!!!  The worst part is that S confessed last week at breakfast that he had read my post days after I wrote it!  So here we stand....the sink is still clogged and S's schedule is back to CRAZY.  I don't think I will ever wash my hands again in my own bathroom unless I unclog it myself (don't worry, I rarely use this bathroom anymore and if I do, I go down the hall to the kids bathroom and wash up in there ;).

On a more positive note, I just sold off the last of my classroom on ebay this week.  I have downsized from 30 large rubbermaid totes to only 2 (stuff I kept for the kids) :)  It feels so good to have gotten rid of it all and our basement has a lot more room!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Feed Play Love--Recap

Wow.......The Feed Play Love virtual conference was inspiring!  I am so grateful to Kiva Leatherman of the Wise Woman Network and Donna Ashton of the Waldorf Connection for putting this incredible conference together.  I am still in shock that the entire event was FREE!!  It was jam packed with three weeks of amazing speakers who have truly changed the way I think about parenting.  I so enjoyed the quiet evenings of folding laundry, sipping wine and listening to all they had to say.  I learned so much and S has also really enjoyed all that I have shared with him thus far.  I cannot say enough good things about it.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to Kiva and Donna!!

For those who missed it, you can buy the entire conference on MP3's by visiting their website or you can read my recap and do your own research on these wonderful speakers :)  I did not buy the MP3's but I took lots of notes, signed up for emails on many of their blogs and websites and even bought a few of their books :)

So here is my recap of my favorite speakers at the conference.   They were all great but these 5 have truly inspired me to be a better mother, wife and person.  They were just incredible!  You might be surprised to see that I did not include my hero, Kim John Payne on this list.  Though I did enjoy listening to him and found him very humerous, his topic of reducing media in the home is not the reason I worship the man.  He is still my hero and not to worry, the shrine I have created for him is still intact ;)  So here are my top 5 :)

Week 1--Feed 

Impacting Behavior through Nutrition – a Natural Approach to Wellness--Dr. Michael Gaeta    
        Dr. Gaeta focuses his work on natual health and accupuncture.  This session was all about simplifying our children's diet and he talked about the importance of whole foods, removing processed foods, simplifying choices, cutting back on sugars and consuming raw dairy products.  You can go to his website and if you click on the radio microphone on the top right corner, you can find all the archives of his past radio shows.  There are so many topics and lots of them about eating whole foods (he even has a few shows with my hero, Kim John Payne!).  
Week 2--PLAY

Boys Alive!: Bring Out Their Best---Janet Allison 
       This session opened my eyes and has helped me to better understand and relate to both my son and husband.  I bought Janet Allison's book and can't wait for it to arrive.  She spoke about how men (especially boys) take much longer to process information than women and how important it is to simplify our language and give them adequate processing time.  She had so many tips and suggestions of ways to deal with our young boys to help them be successful, strong and caring men.  
 Week 3--Love
Supporting Our Child's Natural Gifts--Daria Boisssanas
     Daria Boissanas is a healer and she spoke about the 7 principals of Awakening (all are listed on her website).  The thing that most struck me about this session was what she said about everyone having a gift to share with the world.  Our gift may be a skill, talent or something much more subtle but it is up to us to help our children (and ourselves) find their gifts and help them to figure out ways to share it with others.  She is far more eloquent than I and I encourage you to go to her website and read more.   This was a very powerful session for me.
Raising Happiness: Fulfilling the Promise of a Happy Childhood--Christine Carter
       Dr. Christine Carter is a sociologist at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center.  This session was AMAZING and inspired me to buy her book (all based on science!!).  The session was about the power of gratitude, empathy and raising happy children.  She had some wonderful tips and suggestions for "happiness habits" that can be easily incorporated into your own daily routines.  These habits of gratitude help us all live a more fufiling and happy life.  I have started her book on my kindle and love it so far!
Complaint Free Kids--Will Bowen
       This session really hit home for me and I have already started to make change and bought the book.  Mr. Bowen said that the average person complains 20-30 times a day!!!  He encourages people to wear a rubber band on their hand and everytime they catch themselves complaining, switch it to the other side. The goal is to have 21 complaint free days in a row and this takes about 8-10 months.  I have yet to make it through one day :(  Mr. Bowen talked about the fact that nothing good can come of complaining and it is up to us to teach our children and model for them a more positive way of thinking and speaking.  One quote from Mr. Bowen that I loved was, "You want the world to be a better place? It starts with your interactions with your child".

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Very Happy Easter :)

The Felt Eggs I made the kids (thanks Sey ;))
Mimi's Birthday Cake--We partied on Saturday night!  It was a whale theme ;)
Dying the Eggs with Mimi and Grandpa
The finished eggs :)
The Easter Egg Hunt
A beautiful morning!
Egg Hunting with Grandpa
Looking for worms
Lil' C is enjoying the day
Swing Time
A Wonderful Weekend!
A wonderful Easter at home with Mimi and Grandpa :)  We relaxed, played, celebrated and had a lovely time.  We also had a great afternoon with my mom on Saturday.  Lots of love, hugs and fun with grandparents, who could ask for more????  Well maybe a hug from Chi Chi but we will have to wait until he gets back from Turkey in two weeks).   Thanks everyone for a magical weekend!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sick Kids + Rainy Weather + No TV = Tough Week!

Listening to a book on tape :)
Here is a little journal from our Screen Free week :)  As I told my sister, I often felt like a woman in labor who had been given pitocin but was trying to hold off on an epidural.  As my sister (a labor and delivery nurse) always says,"They do not give you an award for going natural".  I probably should have taken this advice this week but we stayed strong and I am proud to say we made it through.  Here are the gory and beautiful details....

Sunday--Daddy was home so there were lots of distractions.  I did have a bit of whining from Master Z but overall it was a peaceful day.  Z and C both had fevers by the nightfall and went to bed early.  S and I played the board game "LIFE" ;)  He cheated and won!

Monday--WOW!  DETOX IS ROUGH......Z was up at 4:40 with a fever of 101.8...he never went back to sleep.  He and I were downstairs at 5AM and he was begging me to watch TV.  I stayed strong and we played board games and did puzzles.  We were housebound and he cried on and off all morning due to being sick, over tired and the fact he couldn't watch TV (we rarely watch TV in the morning anyway).  At nap time he and I laid down in my bedhe promised to be quiet) but he ended up waking both Lil' C and I up (after only 20 minutes of snoozing) and then after I ordered him downstairs, he passed out on the couch.  He is the only one who got a good nap that day (ironic, don't you think??)

Tuesday--I used books on tape during the dinner Prep when they usually watch George.  I was most nervous for Tuesday though because of our "Breakfast at Night" tradition where they watch George while they eat dinner.  I set them up in front of the tape player with their pancakes and as I flipped more pancakes from the kitchen I could hear, "IIIIIIII  WWWWWAAAAAANNNNNTTTTT AAAAAAAAA..."  yes the tape player bit the dust!  Can you believe it??  I had the worst day with whiny sick kids, finally got them quiet in front of the tape player and it stopped working!  At this point I HATED Screen Free week.
Wednesday--Day three of being housebound went pretty well but once 4pm hit, life went down hill fast.  Both kids were feeling a little better but both were still very clingy and whiny.  My mom convinced me to give in for a 30 minute George Treat while I made dinner.  After a lot of debate (oh the mom guilt), I agreed and approached Z with this notion.  He said, "No mommy, we have to finish the week.  No TV until Easter".  Shocked at this, I agreed, smiled and so appreciated his will power to stick this through! I am soooo proud of him!!!!

Thursday--We had a great morning at the local science museum and a fun afternoon. Then Lil' C woke up on the wrong side of the crib and cried on and off all afternoon.  About 5:30 I was longing for George but we held strong and made it through.  We did invest in a new tape player so books on tape were back in action.  I am really proud of S...NO TV this week and he has been going to bed before 9:30! 

Friday--Today was finally a nice day so we got outside to play :)  After a hectic morning at the doctor, it was nice to have some quiet downtime.  I did have one weak moment where I considered letting them watch 30 minutes of George so I could get a break but I am proud to say I stayed strong!

Saturday--Today is Saturday but with S home all day, my mom coming to visit and S's parents coming for the night....I am hopeful that we will make it through the day without TV.  There are eggs to dye, my MIL"s birthday to celebrate and lots of people to play with :)

Overview--It was a tough week with the kids being sick and the weather being lousy but I am soooo proud of us for making it through.  I learned that I do use TV as a crutch but more importantly I am on the computer WAY too much.  This week of having the computer tucked away in my bedroom made a huge difference.  I limited my time throughout the day (would check email if I had to run upstairs for something) and had an hour at night.  This really was enough and I plan to keep this the norm from now on.  I also plan to limit Z's computer time to 30 minutes every other day :)  S has fallen into a great habit of reading before bed and going to bed about 3 hours earlier than normal and he hopes to keep that up too :)  Other than that, we will be back to watching George from 5:00-5:30 and hope to limit TV to only that and then the occasional movie night :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Simple Acts of Kindness

 The other day we found a special gift in our driveway.  Two of Z's very good friends (brothers M and Z) left him their Planet Hero Solar Lab and Sun Commander Toy.  These are two toys that Z treasured every time he went over to M and Z's house and even though M and Z had outgrown Planet Heroes, they would play with them just for Z.  When the boys mom suggested that they get rid the Solar Lab to make room for their other things, they asked if they could give it to my Z (along with Sun Commander.

Z and I were so touched by this gesture. It was as if Christmas came in April this year.  Z has spent hours in his room with these two new toys and can't believe that the boys would give him such a special gift.  Z made a very big thank you note (he told me it had to be big) and we dropped it off yesterday with some books I pulled out of the yard sale for them.

Thanks M and Z for being such wonderful boys and such good friends to Z.  Your simple act of kindness meant the world to us.

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Earth Week Goals

I do agree with the saying that "Earth Day should be Every Day".  It is true that we need to think about our carbon footprint each and every day of the year, not just on April 22nd.  That being said, I have a few of my own goals for the year that I plan to put into place this week.

1.  Get the Compost Pile Going

We got off to a great start last year but things went downhill fast with the crazy, emotional spring we   had around here last year.  This year I hope to compost until the snow falls (maybe beyond) and do some more research about vermicomposting (worms).

2.  Set up a Clothes Line

This has been something I have wanted to do for awhile now.  Having a clothesline will help me to save energy (money) by not using the dryer, whiten my whites naturally and I love the smell of clothes that have been out in the fresh air.  I think this will be a fun chore to do with Z as well (will let you know ;)).

 3.  Stop Buying Plastic

For both health and environmental reasons, reducing the use of plastic is our family's goal.  I have been trying to make a conscience decision to avoid it whenever I can.  I try to buy things in glass or at least in plastics that can be recycled (or reused).  I no longer microwave in or wash my plastics in the dishwasher but I would like to reduce our dependency on it.  We have slowly replaced our plastic storage containers with glass and we now make an effort to buy the kids toys that are made of more natural materials (this is hard though).
4.  Reuse as much as I can

Did you know that the average person throws away 4 lbs of trash a day??  That is 16 lbs a day for a family of four...CRAZY!  Every time I go to throw something away (or even recycle it), I plan to ask myself if it can be recycled, composted or used for something else.  This process should reduce the amount of trash we are throwing away and will force me to be creative. 

5.  Switch to Soap Nuts 

I have been very intrigued by the idea of Soap Nuts for over a year now but have decided that once the last of my laundry soap runs out, I am going to make the change.   Of course I like the idea that they have no chemicals, do not pollute and are fragrance free but I am most intrigued by the idea that they help to eliminate washer odor and build up.  This is a huge problem in my front loader and I hope that soap nuts are the answer (not much else has worked).  I will let you know. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Love the Hand-Me-Down Bins :)

This was the very LOUD outfit that S dressed Lil' C in while I was gone last weekend :)
I just went through Lil' C's spring/summer wardrobe (courtesy of my sister and my best friend) and I am sooooo excited.  She is going to be WAY better dressed than me this season and it is not costing us a dime (Reusing is my favorite of the 3R's ;)).  I am so grateful to my sister, La, Sey, my mom and all of the friends who have dressed Lil' C since the day she was born.  She has had all of her clothes, pajamas, bathing suits, shoes, even g-diapers handed down :)  I think I may have spent $150 on her clothes in the last year and a half and that was only on things that I liked for Christmas presents!

My Hand-Me-Down supply for Z has almost dried up so I am forced to seek out bargains (might even try the consignment shop or Goodwill this year) but plan to not go crazy at all.  He doesn't need much to get through the summer and he already has a fall wardrobe waiting for him (bought it all on clearance last fall). 

As for me, well I will not be adding anything new to my wardrobe this year (sob, sob) but hope to give some life to what I already wear by mixing it up.  Hopefully my Power 90 journey will help me to look better in the clothes that I do have and that will be enough to keep a spring in my step :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Earth Week

Earth Day is this Friday and so I have decided to focus on it all week with Z and Lil' C.  Each day we will focus on a different reason why we should love and take care of this big, beautiful planet.  Here is an outline of what I have planned :)  There are a lot of books planned for this week (I have dozens of good books on this topic from my teaching days) and since I have two sick kids (100.7) and no TV or computer...we need all the books we can get!

Monday--Introduction to Earth Day
       -Book--The Lorax (our favorite!) and For the Love of Our Earth
       -Activity--Reenact the Lorax, talk about the meaning of Earth Day

        -Book --Wartville Wizard and the Berenstein Bears Don't Pollute Anymore
        -Activitiy-Z and I will go out (with work gloves) and clean up the trash that collected in the yard
                        over the winter

Wednesday--The 3 R's
       -Book--Where does the Garbage Go? and Recycle
      -Activitiy-Make Sculptures out of our Recyclables (Z has been wanting to do this for awhile!),  
           listen to Jack Johnson's 3R's song (love that song!)

Thursday--Water Conservation
       -Book-A Drop Around the World and Drip! Drop! How Water Gets to Your Tap
       -Activitiy--Make a list of ways we can save water, sing the Water Cycle Song (see below), Play a
            water cycle  game, do a water cycle dance :)

       -Book--Composting and The Vegetables We Eat
      -Activitiy--Clean out our compost bin and get our indoor collection bin ready for the season!

Saturday--Trees and Nature
       -Book--Tell Me Tree and Just a Dream
      -Activitiy--Plant a few saplings in the yard, talk about the importance of trees to our planet and go
                          on a tree hunt in the yard (ID as many trees as we can without leaves ;)).

Have a Great Earth Week!

Water Cycle Song (sung to She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain :))
Water travels in a cycle, yes it does
Water travels in a cycle, yes it does.
It goes up as evaporation,
Forms clouds as condensation,
Then comes down as precipitation, yes it does.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Yard Sale :)

For the past week and a half I have had nothing on the brain other than YARD SALE.  I worked a little bit each day, a whole lot on Wednesday and Friday and it all payed off!  Unfortunately S wasn't able to help at all due to work but I had everything priced, organized by category, (teacher stuff, books, baby stuff, housewares etc.) and signs made to make set up as easy as possible on Saturday morning.

The baby alarm (Lil' C) went off at 5:40 and I woke up and started the coffee.  I DRAGGED S out of bed at 6:10 and had him down a cup of coffee ;)  S went out into the yard and began setting up the tent and tables while I paced madly from inside.  Z was at my mom's (the boy would have cried if he saw all the toys I sold) and Lil' C was attached to my side, there was nothing I could do to help.  When Scott had the tables set, I parked Lil' C in front of Curious George (thank goodness Screen Free week Starts today....BTW it is 5AM and the kids are still asleep, unaware that I am using a screen) and RAN around to set stuff up.  Our yard sale began at 8AM but the babysitter wasn't coming until 9am and my sister who was selling her stuff too didn't arrive until after that.  This meant that we had no childcare for the busiest part of our sale (6-9am).  This was very challenging with a 17 month old.  At one point I had to leave her in the house to help S and she SCREAMED at the door.  Someone asked me if there was someone in there with her and I smiled and said, "NO".  Oh well!

Overall we had a very good day (we were the first yard sale of the season...sooo cold) and we made over $350 (my sister K sold $18 worth too).  More importantly we got rid of SO much CRAP!   What we didn't sell went right to Goodwill and the rest of my classroom books will be donated to our library's book sale.  I looked around after the sale and I swear I heard our house take one big sigh of relief.  After Goodwill we went out for a celebratory Mexican dinner at 4PM (talk about early birds).  We were all exhausted and fast asleep by 8PM. 

Thank you Mom and K for all of your help!  We couldn't have done it without you.

 S's coffee and the girly change purse I made him carry around ;)

 The Stuff before it was organized
The stuff when it was partway organized

I don't have any pictures of the sale :(  I was too darn busy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

For My Non-Blogging Readers--Mom that's You!

Hey everybody,  I know there a lot of you (friends and family) that check in with my blog from time to time and so I wanted to make things easier for you :)  Rather than checking to see if I posted anything (and finding I haven't ;), you can enter your email address in the box on the left hand side (where it says "Subscribe via email") and then anytime I write a post, it will get emailed to you :)  You will even be able to read it right in your email if you want to :)

Just trying to save some time in all of your busy lives!   Happy Weekend :)  If you are in the area, come on by to our Yard Sale tomorrow (Saturday 8-2).  I have HUNDREDS of kids books from my classroom as well as some other crap jems :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Screen Free Week is Next Week!!!

So once again the Raising Z and Lil' C household is participating in "Screen Free Week".  Last year we ended up going almost two weeks before the television was turned on (Z had no concept of time back then) but this year I am getting a little resistance.  Z and C watch anywhere from 30-90 minutes of TV a day.  I try to keep it to 30 minutes of Curious George (while I make dinner) but sometimes I will turn a DVD on in the car to keep Lil' C from falling asleep or sometimes they watch 30 minutes of Dinosaur Train in the AM on our Home Days.   Z also has scheduled computer time (30 minutes) while I shower from working out.  He LOVES this time and I think he is most upset about giving that up.

After listening to Kim John Payne and Dr. Thomas Cooper on Monday night of the Feed Play Love Virtual Conference, I knew it was important for ALL of us to go on a "Media Fast" :)  I do not watch TV much at the moment but I am attached to my laptop!  My plan is to not be on the computer while the children are awake (that will be tough) and only go on after 8pm.  I also plan to keep my time to only an hour....we shall see.  S and I have vowed to not look at any screens in front of the children.

Z and I created a list of things we can do during our "Screen Free Week".  Like last year, this list will hang on the TV to help remind us of our mission.  Here is what we came up with :)

-Work on the Garden    -Do Puzzles       -Play Games      
-Build with Blocks      -Play Doh            -Bubbles          
-Clean Compost           -Work on Mimi's Birthday Party
-Dye Eggs                    -Bake                 -Exercise             
-Go to the park             -Read                 -Play Wall-e     
-Play Whales                -Celebrate Earth Day!!!
-Go to the Library       -Bubbles           -Go to the local Science Museum (again ;))

I understand that for some families, giving up Screens is very hard.  Perhaps you can use next week (April 18th-24th) to limit some of the time children are in front of a screen and remember that children really shouldn't watch more than 2 hours of any screen, Kim John Payne recommends no screens before the age of 7.  I am not sure that this family can do that but I do hope that this "fast" will help to inspire new habits, especially for me and the computer!
This was last years Sign :)