Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine's Day Countdown

Once again we will be counting down the days of February until Valentines Day.  I have the envelopes filled with experiences and already hung in the playroom and the house is decorated with the few things we have (all of them homemade).  There will be no gifts again this year, just focusing on friendship and love.

Here is what we will be doing each day as we countdown to Valentine's Day.

1.  Make Valentines for Family
2.  Ground Hog Day Fun
3.  Good Deed Day
4.  Movie Night (Charlie Brown's Valentines Day)
5.  Call/Skype Someone we Love
6.  Make a present for our friends
7.  Bake cookies for our friends
8.  Friendship Day--bring our gifts that we made to our friend's house
9.  Play a Game with Someone You Love
10.  Adventure Day
11.  Special Family Night
12.  Make Valentines for Friends at School
13.  Candlelight Dinner
14.  Valentine's Day and School Party

Friday, January 27, 2012

We are Going To Recharge in February

I am so excited about Erin Goodman's 10-Day Family Re-Charge!  February can be a very tough month for our family as we long for the warmer days of spring.  I think that this is a wonderful way to revive us as a family unit, enjoy some quality time together and focus on what is really important. I can't wait for all of the fun that it is coming our way next month.

"Celebrate, reconnect and love up your family!"

I first heard of this e-program a few weeks ago over at the Little Acorn Learning's website.  I have been a big fan of Little Acorn for about a year and a half (I have a few of their guides) and they are very excited about this program.

The 10-Day Family Re-Charge is an e-program is filled a "lovely combination of inspiration, ideas, activities and recipes to help you and your family reconnect with healthy eating, nature, music, creativity and most importantly EACH OTHER!!" It was designed for school-age children but it says that it can be adapted for younger children as well.  Another great thing about this program is that it is a "pay what you can" program.

So if your family needs a jump start or a break from the winter blues....check out the 10 Day Family Re-Charge.

 I have not been compensated in anyway for this blog post.  Just wanted to share with you all what we are going to be doing :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'd Like to Thank My Children....

I woke up, rolled over in bed and checked the bedside clock to see what dreadful hour it was.  I read 6:04 and at first this time did not register.  I was terribly confused, where was I? What day was it?   Could it really be 6:04 AM?  The last time I had looked at the clock it read 10:44pm, did I really sleep for 7 hours straight????

I DID and it felt great.  Most nights I am woken up at least 2 times, usually 3-5 times.  Between my husband crawling into bed, my own full bladder, Z waking up to tell me he is wet or the 2-3 wake ups per night from Lil'C.  I am in a season of my life where there is NO SLEEP....I have tried everything but nothing seems to matter.  We have humidifiers in every room, cut off liquid at 6pm, have sound machines going, have played with Lil' Cs naps and have let her cry bloody murder for over an hour (many times) where she has then woken Z up and we all suffer.

On the rare moments where nobody wakes up, I usually wake up in anticipation.  This night of seven hours straight was a rarity and it felt so good.  It is amazing how well your body can "adjust" to no sleep but I do need it.  I am hoping to make this my goal for February...go to bed earlier so that I can get in as much sleep as I can.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Making Memories...

We had a busy week last week and a lot of fun.  I even got brave and took out the paints.....a first at the easel with Lil' C.  They both loved it so I am going to have do to it more regularly.  We also went to the Children's Museum with my niece and nephew...their first trip with their new membership!

Making snowflakes with Z
baked glazed donuts (or monuts because they look like muffins ;))
Before I "fixed" the sink
Lil C made a snowman...the girl LOVES glue

Painting Time

She LOVED it and made 6 paintings

This is a Star Wars ship
Z's first time at T-ball

He did great and loved it
Children's Museum with G and J

she loved the fake rocks
Sailing a ship

My little scientist

dino dig
checking out the fossils

working in the submarine
captain of the sub
Such a fun day!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Finding our Rythmn

I have been really struggling this month to find a groove.  I've been feeling unfocused, scatterbrained and a bit restless.  The holiday season was so busy and chaotic that the quiet of January has thrown me for a a loop.  I think Z is unaffected by my spaciness but Lil'C is definitely out of sorts.  When I read this article on Allison's blog, I knew it was time to revisit our daily schedule.

During some quiet time I took our schedule that hangs in our kitchen and revamped it. What I love about her Winter Rhythm is that it is seasonal and that everything for the week is in ONE place.  Right now I have my daily kid schedule on the wall, my personal schedule in my family management book, my meal plan on the fridge and I am lucky if I have time to glance at one of these during the day.  I am so excited to now have it all in one place, where I can quickly refer to it until it becomes a part of us. 

Much of our new Daily Rhythm (click here to see my version) is the same as what Z and I had worked on last year when he was home all day.  Since he started school this year, we ended up pulling away from a lot of the things we use to do each day.  I think if we can get back into our flexible routine, then Lil'C might have an easier time on the mornings/afternoons we are not out and about.

I made a new version for Z....he is constantly referring to it
In our new Rhythm, I did put in Allison's suggestion for 20 minutes of House Keeping (love that), Simple Mom's One Bite at A Time morning and evening routines for moms, added a story time to our two snack times and decreased screen time from 90 minutes to 60 minutes (it use to be 30-60 minutes but it crept up during the Holidays).  I was also very mindful about transition times (a very difficult time in this house) and made a chart for Z that hangs in the closet to help with the steps for getting ready for school (this has been soooo helpful).
This article from Allison came at a moment when I really needed it.  Funny how that happens. She suggests that in order to find your own daily rhythm, that you do not focus too long on another persons.  I glanced at hers, took the few things that I liked (especially her format) and made the rest work for our family.   Unfortunately I am too far away to attend any of Allison's workshops for Simplicity Parenting but I do appreciate all of her insight and tips on her blog :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Terrible Twos, The Prequel to the Teen Years

I have to imagine that the mother of a two year old girl and the mother of a 16 year old girl have more in common than they might think.  In both cases there is usually a great battle brewing.   Yes the subject of the battles are very different...the two year old is crying over not being allowed ice cream at 9am or having to nap instead of play and the 16 year old is crying because you won't let her go to the unchaperoned party or on a trip to Cozumel with her sleezy Biology Teacher...but never the less the energy of these battles is much the same.

Check me out....yes I appeared to be the perfect "geeky" teen but inside was a volcano ready to explode!
 I often have moments with Lil' C where I get visions of the future and what is in store and it scares me! I was not an easy teenager to raise, quite moody in fact, and went through a terrible blue period my senior year of high school.  I had a temper (wonder where Lil' C gets it from) and though I was a good girl (the girlfriend of a Mormon has to be good), I was a bit of a B*#*H when it came to my mom (sorry mom!). 
Mama and Me :)
So here I am, now raising a daughter (karma coming back to bite me ;)), and who knows what is in store.  She is the sweetest, most loving, feisty, independent, funny, energetic little person I know.  She is like me in so many ways and foreign to me in so many others.  I never know what mood or pair of shoes she will be wearing next (the girl LOVES shoes).  She loves to be nude, is so focused, is as stubborn as a mule, loves to snuggle her George, is so considerate of her brother, has the loudest screech (I should rent her out to sound effect studios) and is so stinkin cute!
The other night I was talking about Lil'C in the teen years with S and told him that we are going to have to make sure that she gets herself a good Mormon boyfriend to help her fly straight.  It helped me stay "pure" and because of him I stayed away from booze until college.  S told me that it was a great plan but that reverse psychology might work better with Lil' C.  So the plan is to forbid her from dating Mormon's and then she will run right into their waiting arms (although at the dances I went to you had to be 6 inches apart). A mother can dream......

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mama Mia!

My favorite kind of gift is that which includes an experience.  Research has been done that the average "thing" brings a person joy for an average of 9 months but the joy of an experience can make memories which can last a lifetime.  Even though you might not have the instant gratification when giving or receiving an experience gift, the waiting and anticipation can be half the fun.

For Christmas there were lots of "Experience Gifts" going around.  My mom gave Lil' C money towards her Kindermusik class, we gave my niece and nephew a year membership to the local Children's museum (we also gave Z and Lil' C a renewal), my sister got us a gift certificate to our favorite local restaurant and S gave me family passes to our local amusement park.

My dad loves to give his girls experience gifts.  Each year he usually surprises us with some super fun family outing.  We saw Lion King the musical in Boston one year, have been to a few Red Sox Games and this year we went to see Mama Mia!!!  Unfortunately my baby sister K couldn't go because she was traveling for work but our second mama J stepped right into take her place.  Dad treated us to dinner before at a very nice restaurant before the show and then we walked over to the theater.  I had never seen this show, not even the movie, so my expectations were not high.  I knew of the storyline and couldn't imagine a traveling production of this show could be that great.  But I was ready for a fun night at the theater with the people I love.

The show was OUTSTANDING.  I have since seen the movie and the show that I saw was far superior.  I laughed so hard, cried (being at the theater always makes me miss Kiki) and was HAVING THE TIME OF YOUR MY LIFE;).  It was so much fun and J and I were dancing out of the theater.  She said she wanted to sing and swing from the banisters (and even had her foot over ;)). What a great evening.

The next morning I pulled up the few ABBA songs I had and listened all morning long.  I danced around the house, sang at the top of my lungs and Lil' C found this hilarious.  The music drove Z NUTS but I told him that If I could live through a month and a half of the Chipmunks Christmas and that he could endure one morning of Waterloo ;)

Thanks Dad for a wonderful gift, it means so much that you are always so thoughtful and creative!  Love you.

Oh and Happy 1/2 Birthday Mama!  I love you :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baby Steps

After two very lengthy budget meetings with my dear husband (where we actually laughed, smiled, sipped wine had a "good" time) we have finally made a plan.  A plan to become debt free and then save up 6 months of expenses (with my husband's volatile job...6 months is a must).  We have read Dave's book, planned out our goals and have even taken a few of our first baby steps.  

 Dave Ramsey often relates the process of getting financially fit to that of losing weight.  He says you can solve 90% of your problems by looking in the mirror and admitting that you have a problem, that you are financially fat.  Once you have done this, it is important to get everything down on paper and see where it is you stand.  This can be quite scary but it is even scarier if you live your life without knowing.  Budget meetings for S and I use to end in tears, excuses and with me a frantic mess.  This time around I feel empowered, I know where we stand, I know what we have to do and though it is going to take time to get through the steps of the Total Money Makeover (at least 2 years to get to the end of step 3), we feel so much freedom now that we have a plan in place. 
My letter to friends and family was meant to share our situation but in doing so, we have inspired my good friend R.  She went to the library to check out the book, the librarian there told her that the book had changed her life (even more validation to start this program) and went home and told her husband that they were going to do this together.   That is the most important part...doing it together.  Dave stresses that communication be open and that you work together as a team.
So I am happy to say that baby step one is complete, we have already paid off my college loan (there wasn't much left) and we are working at snowballing the rest of our debts.  We have also set up an appointment with a lawyer to finally do our will/trust and are working on accounting for every dollar spent.  It does take time, it is not easy but in the end it will make us stronger and better people.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Time to Celebrate!!!

The SINK is FIXED!!!!  

It took 298 days but it is fixed!!!!  

And it was a group effort, I got fed up and took my sisters advice and poured some draino down the sink (not very environmentally friendly but desperate times call for desperate measures). Then S did not want me to take lone credit on my blog for this feat so he took the sink apart yesterday and cleaned it out!!!

It works, no more hand sanitizer in the middle of the night when I pee!  I can brush my teeth in my own bathroom now.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Making Memories...

Last weekend our very good friends treated us to a trip to the Aquarium ( Z's birthday present).  It was so much fun to see them, "chase the shark" and get soaked in the touch tank together.  Thanks Sey, O and L for a great day!!!

At the top are a few pictures of the snow play we did yesterday morning before it all turned to rain.  We had a great time and then came in and Z said, "Can we decorate the rocketship today??"  I told him we'd wait for the next snow day.  I guess I am mean but there was so much to do and we baked donuts monuts (looked like muffins) instead.

Snow Fun

baby jaguar almost went swimming with the penguins

Add caption

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"I Think It Snowed While We Were Sleeping"

This is what Z says every morning as he runs to the window.  As he looks outside his happy face falls into a frown and he says, "no snow today Mommy".  With no snow in the extended forecast last week, the local meteorologists were actually apologizing.  Today we have a wintry mix that will end in rain....no fun for the little guy at all.  It is an interesting turn of events for a state that had snow on both Halloween and Thanksgiving.
So we wait...wait for the white stuff to fall from the sky and stick to the ground.   I can't say I am too bummed out...I mean snow in these parts usually means no power!  However the kids got snowshoes from Santa and when my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said I wanted snowshoes for S so the whole family could go together (I got mine a few Christmas' ago).  So now we are outfitted with snowshoes and new snowball makers and snow brick makers, and snow pants and boots......and there is no snow.
Z is even more impatient because I told him we would wait for a snow day to open up the big 5 foot cardboard rocket ship that Uncle B got them.  He can't wait to open it, turn our playroom into a launch pad and color the entire ship ("Mommy, you will help right?").  So we wait, we wait for snow to come and stay for a bit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Fun of LIving in the Granite State

Today is Primary day!  The day where the nation turns to NH to see who they think should be the republican front runner.  It is an exciting day, even for an independent like myself.  I love the energy that has been building and the fact that in NH we have the opportunity (and many of them) to get close and personal with each of the candidates.  I personally have not attended anything (hard to do with kids in tow) but I do know who I am going to vote for and can't wait to bring Z into the polls.

I am also excited that today is Primary day because that means the dozens and dozens of phone calls that we have been receiving over the last two weeks will STOP.  It got so crazy over the weekend that S started answering the phone in a different accent and telling each survey/caller that he would be voting for a different candidate ;)  Yes we may have upset some polls but it was so much fun to watch him.  I even handed the phone to Lil' C twice.  The first time she sang, "We are Santa's Elves" and the second she had a long conversation with her Mimi :)

So here is a video of my candidate :)  Enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dear Family and Friends....We're Going on a Diet!

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing this letter to let you know that the Raising Z and Lil 'C family is going on a diet.  Yes the entire family will be dieting and working to be a healthier family.  Now before you get your shorts in a bunch and think, "children on a diet??" (yes they are joining us too), this diet is not centered around food but rather finances.  We are tightening up our finances and following the advice of Dave Ramsey and participating in a Total Money Makeover

This book was taken out from the library...don't worry no resolutions have been broken yet!!
The reason I am writing this letter is to ask for your support on this journey. So often when people decide to do something for their health (emotional, physical, financial, spiritual) they are met with so much opposition and negativity.  "Why would you want to do that?" "That will never work?"  "You make good money...what's the problem?"  "You aren't fat."  "That exercise program is too extreme."   I am guessing that these negative comments come out of fear of looking in the mirror and seeing that they too need to make a change.
Time to get in Financial Shape
 I remember when my friends La and J decided to enter into their own Beach Body Business.  They had transformed their own bodies using the programs and wanted to help others.  The negative comments were astounding and they had to work so hard to overcome them.  Now they are trying a vegan diet for their health and once again the negative comments are flying.  My aunt, also a vegan, said she would never speak badly of what other people put into their body so why does being a vegan open her up to comments and negativity from everyone she meets.  People need to mind their own business and support those they love in these endeavors to be healthier human beings.

That is why I am writing this letter, to ask for your support in this long endeavor we are about to embark on.  Please don't make negative comments, don't give pity where it is not due, don't judge....just support.  No we are not in a bad place financially (yet) but it is in times of good when you should make the changes you need to make so that when bad things happen (and they will happen) you are more prepared.
We can still have fun :)
The kids and I have $20 a week for entertainment/food out.  That means dunkin donuts, trips to play places, eating out, movies, museums, sports teams...etc.  Their music classes are paid for and we have memberships to the major museums but other than that we have $20 to spend.  So if you want us to join you on a fun adventure, please give us as much notice as possible so we can save for it.  Please don't get angry with us when we can't sign up for every activity under the sun...this is what we are doing right now to be healthier people.  There are many inexpensive options for play dates and we would love to join you at a museum anytime.   We love you all and hope that you will understand this decision to be more financially responsible.

Thanks for your support!!

J,S,Z andC