Saturday, December 31, 2011

This Mom Recommends

This is a Petal Pusher cap.  It is made locally by Stormy Kromer Mercantile in Ironwood, MI.  I have one and I love it.  It is fun, pretty and warm.  My husband bought it for me (mittens too!).  People comment on this hat every time I wear it.  Mine is winter white with a raspberry flower to match my coat.  It is also great to shop from a Michigan company.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

At long last....The Winner is!

Marinell H.

I am sorry for the delay.  I was without my computer for a few days and could not log on.  I will be getting the bowls to you soon!

There will be more giveaways soon....I promise!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A great giveaway!

In honor of my new business I am offering a giveaway:

This Bamboo Fiber Mixing Bowl Set (a $39 value).  Here is the description from The Pampered Chef catalog: Made from Mother Nature’s amazing renewable resource — bamboo! Natural bamboo fibers show their earthy beauty. They’re durable too; they won’t warp or distort and can stand up to just about any mixing you can think of. Set of three: 1 1/2, 2 1/2 and 3 3/4 qts. Dishwasher-safe.

Here is how to enter:

1. Leave a comment here and tell me what your favorite product is from The Pampered Chef.
2. Like my business Facebook page. Come back and tell me you did!
3. Like my What This Mom Thinks Facebook page.  Come back and tell me you did!

This would be a great addition to your kitchen or as a Christmas gift to the baker on your list.  Entries should be received before 11/27/11 at 12:00pm EST.  The winner will be announced on 11/28/11.  The winner has 2 days to contact me to discuss delivery.

Good Luck!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Working at Home

Since I last posted (I know they have been far apart) I have entered the world of direct sales.  It was not something I had planned, but thought I would give it a try until Christmas.  I am doing okay, but it has added a new level of planning to my world.

As the picture suggests, I have become a Consultant for The Pampered Chef.  I enjoy cooking, teaching and well, eating.  This is a fun and flexible way for me to do that, enjoy an evening with other like minded ladies and earn a bit of money.  I will add these earnings into my budget updates. (I need to do one soon!)

I am currently doing about 4 shows a month and having fun.  If you want to learn more about my business send me a message at whatthismomthinks at gmail dot com.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Schedule

When you have children it is nice to have plans, but plans can also be stressful, overwhelming and exhausting.  That is how I have spent the last couple of weeks - living and dying by the schedule. 

I try my best not to overschedule.  I mean, my kids don't do half of the stuff they could do.  We have scouts, a sport, and music. That was the plan.  Oh, and school work, and therapies, and religion, and sleepovers, and play dates, and ...  You get the idea.  With 4 kids, 3 with activities, there is a lot of running.  It makes me sad that we are so busy.  It makes me happy that  we are so busy.  Our family is lucky to have the opportunity.   But I find myself losing my patience and not getting to some things I wish I could.

I have been spending the last couple of weeks searching for a balance.  School work, basketball, piano lessons, baths, dinner together, religion homework, and everything else.  Some adjustments need to be made and priorities reexamined. 

How do you fit it all in?  What works for you?  I'll keep you posted.( More frequently, I promise) on the NEW schedule.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Date Night on a Budget

I have made it no secret that we are on a budget.  It is expensive enough to go out to dinner, but when you factor in a babysitter for 4 kids...  Let's just say we don't go out much.

One thing my husband and I have done a few times is date night in.  I feed the kids something easy at their normal dinner time like soup and sandwiches, mac and cheese or breakfast.  Then after bed time we order take out with a coupon, take advantage of a carryout pizza special, or splurge on a dinner at home.  We also watch a program on Netflix.  Not the candlelight dinner for 2 we'd like, but it is working for now.

How do you save on date nights?

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Mom Recommends...

Win a copy for Mother's Day!

The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Dr. Meg Meeker.  I mean, who wouldn't want to learn to be a happy mother.  Dr. Meeker makes it clear that this book is not about making you a BETTER mother, but rather a HAPPIER one.  I wasn't unhappy, but really wanted to learn how to shake off those little things that get in my way.


She tackles those issues we all know we have, but don't talk about: competition with other mothers, money issues, low self esteem, anxiety, faith, fear and more.  She offers practical tips at the end of each chapter to help make the changes needed. 

Her website even offers a free Tool Kit to really get you started.  I am going to read one of her other books Boys Should Be Boys and get Strong Fathers and Strong Daughters for my husband.  Something for everyone, so check out Dr. Meeker's website.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Learning from Large Family Logisitics

Large Family Logistics

I mentioned before that I was reading this book and I have finally started to implement some of the ideas into my family life.
I have assigned tasks to each day.  At first the thought of giving jobs to each day seemed ridiculous, but now I totally get it.  While mine are not exactly the same as the book, here is how my week is structured:

Monday: Office/paperwork day
Tuesday: Laundry and cleaning day (Shared areas)
Wednesday: Errands (Running around) day
Thursday: Laundry and cleaning day (Bedrooms)
Friday: Outside and pet clean up day
Saturday: Meal prep and bulk cooking day
Sunday: Rest and plan day
I am also trying to get the work done before 4 as she suggested.  This way I am available for the kids in the afternoon.  So far having a plan feels good.  Keeping with the plan is another thing.  I'll keep you posted. 

Do you plan your days?  What is your plan?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Cross in the Woods

While we were up north we went to the Cross in the Woods.  I just love it there.  So beautiful.
The kids with the Holy Family.  (I picked one where they aren't all looking, darn.)

At the statue of Kateri Tekakwitha.  (Still one not looking!)
#1 and #2 looking at the turtles at the feet of Kateri Tekakwitha.
With Blessed Mary!  (And all looking in the same direction!)
#3 helping #4 with her shoes!

We all enjoyed some quiet time.  The kids explored the grounds and walked from one statue to another.  #1 read signs and plaques to the others.  Hubby and I sat for a while, prayed quietly and chatted a bit.  It was a beautiful day!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wrapping up summer

I know I did these backwards, but we took a trip to Northern Michigan to wrap up summer a week or two before school started.  My parents have a house up there, so it is comfortable and the kids have plenty of room to move around.
One (#1) whittled the time away.  He is so proud to have earned his Whittling Chip!
One (#2) gave another (#4) a push.  She is so proud to be a big sister!
And one (#3) master the art of tree climbing.  She was so proud of herself!
Even Gibson (#5?) got some much deserved rest time.  He is such a good dog!

We even made a road trip further north from here, but that is another post....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back To School

The kids have been in school a week.  We are off to a good start.  Working hard to get back in the swing of things.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Decision...

I have been trying to make a decision about schooling for my kids for months (I think it might be approaching a year!).  Last year I made the decision to send #1 to school all day, #2 for half a day and #3 to do preschool at home.  It went well, except...

#1 - Really doesn't like school.  He is going through some stuff.  I am hoping he can sort it out.

#2 - Loves being with the kids at school, but her medical needs are high.  Lots of kids love her, but a full day seemed like a lot.

#3 - Longed to be at school.  She enjoyed being home with her baby sister and I, but she really wanted to go to school, have a backpack and be with kids.

So, I have spend the last 4 months going back and forth.  I didn't register #3 for kindergarten for months.  I started looking at plans for homeschooling multiple children and thinking about curriculum.  I have read every homeschooling blog I could find.  I have looked at private schools, catholic schools and other local schools of choice. 

Here is what I have planned:

#1 - He is going back to school.  He is in the second year of a 2 year program.  He wanted to stay home, but when given a school plan he decided to go to school this year.  I think he thought staying home equaled summer vacation all the time. 

#2 -  She is going to school part time.  She will receive the special education services while she is there.  She will get to be with kids her own age and that motivates her to try things!

#3 - She is going to half day kindergarten.  I will do some schooling with her the second half of the day - just like I did Kid #2 last year. 

#4 - I have some really great tot plans from a few blogs and I am going to start some simple units with her this year. 

My plan is to reevaluate as the year goes along.  I will be more likely to change gears mid-year depending on how the year is going this year because of all the research I have done this year!

I will be homeschooling religion too.  I picked up Lacy's book from Catholic Icing.  Really great stuff!

I am also working on a plan for cleaning and organizing the house, oh and the budget....

Monday, August 15, 2011

Breakfast Back on Track

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain, Rolled Oats, 32-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4)

As far as meal planning goes, we have been off track for the summer.   The kids are getting up at different times.  It had been hot even early in the morning.  I have become a short order cook (at lunch too, but one meal at a time).  Even at 9, Kid #1 is realizing that without a bit of protein he is hungry again sooner.

Here is the plan:

Monday: Breakfast Sandwiches
Tuesday: Oats (Oatmeal, berry crisp, etc)
Wednesday: Eggs
Thursday: Sweet rolls,  biscuits, muffins, etc.
Friday: Breakfast leftovers
Saturday: Waffles or pancakes
Sunday: Big Breakfast

As I begin to put things back on track I am starting at the beginning with breakfast.  We are finishing up the little bit of cold cereal we have in the house.  I realize it isn't that healthy and my kids prefer it for a snack in the afternoon or before bedtime.  So when it is gone, I am not replacing it.  My kids enjoy a warm, hearty breakfast.  This is something that requires a little prep, so I am getting ready by prepping and freezing pancakes, waffles, sweet rolls.  I boil up a dozen eggs for the week.  I also have plenty of low fat breakfast meats and cheese on hand.  My kids also love cream cheese and a slice of lunch meat on a toasted bagel.  We love Meal Makeover Moms breakfast recipes too!  I need to find a gluten free breakfast bar recipe.  I am sure I will find one!  Any suggestions?


Friday, August 12, 2011

No Car Payments

This month will be the first month in my adult life that I have no car payments!  We paid off my husband's car when we received our tax refund.  Last month, we found a big truck that fits everyone and the wheelchair, walker stroller and dog!  It is huge, but we paid cash.  We were able to sell the newer car I was driving with enough profit to buy new tires are a few things for the big truck.  This has freed up $1000 of our family budget.

So, what are my plans for that money you ask?   I am taking half and paying towards some other bills we want to be done with.  The other half is going into a car fund.  There is bond to be a repair or two.  My husband needed a new transmission 2 weeks after we paid off his car!  I have to say, I am really proud of us.  We resisted the temptation to buy a new car and found a good one at a nice price.  I must also add that my husband is handy.  He was able to replace the shocks in a couple of afternoons and does all the oil changes and stuff.  Those things can really add up.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

This Mom recommends...

Large Family Logistics

Large Family Logistics is the book I have been waiting for.  I have spent the last year feeling like I needed to get a plan.  A laundry plan, a shopping plan, a meal plan...you get the idea.  In this book Kim Brenneman, whose large family makes mine look small, carefully outlines in small readable steps how to organize and carry out the plans I have been been searching for.  She also blogs at Large Family Logistics.

Let me also say this book is beautiful.  Not only is the info valuable, the book is large and light and stands out from any other book I own.  Right now it covers my bedside table.  It is lovely.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting organized

Okay, no laughing.  I have realized that 1 year (almost!) in to having 4 kids I need to get this family on a schedule.  I have been feeling a bit like I am running on a treadmill.  You know, always on the go, but never really going anywhere.  Nothing is more discouraging than sitting at the end of the day and wondering to yourself what really got done. 

My kids are good kids and are helpful, but sometimes they just don't get it.  I have been left frustrated and feeling a bit taken advantage of.  Well, they are kids.  And I need to give them the direction to do what needs to be done.  We are getting a chore chart and implementing the screen time schedule.  I am also going to get my own cleaning schedule and calendar. (I will post it when I am ready).  I have also seen household notebooks.  I want to get one of those together.

I have been working on decluttering the basement (again) and getting the learning room organized.  We are going to start a bit of schooling next week.  Hopefully we can get a plan together and get to work!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Constrant Induced Therapy

Just a couple of weeks after the serial casting on both feet was over we have begun Constraint Induced Therapy to help with Kid #2's hemiparesis.  Because she had a stroke in utero she has one side of her body that is weaker than the other.  I wasn't sure how this would work, but this is the second summer we have done this and last year's results were promising.  I don't believe she would be able to hold on to her walker with both hands if we had not done it.

I have been trying to find activities that will encourage her to use her right hand (or "righty" as we call it).  We have done quite a few things, but all my kids LOVE playing with dough.  I stuck these chopsticks in the dough and she had to use righty to get them.  In addition to the activities we do at home she receives therapy several times a week with occupational, physical and recreational therapists.
After all the hard work, I let her use her cast to play too!  She works so hard she deserved a break.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Budget

A while ago, I spent a year cutting over $5000 out of our family budget.  I cancelled magazines, newspapers, and cut out cable TV.  I am cloth diapering kid #4 and have been reselling my kids clothes.  I am posting lots on eBay and have considerably downscaled the birthday celebrations at my house.  I clip coupons, buy on sale and am always on the look out for a bargain.  Since is it has been sometime, I thought I'd document where we stand with our budgeting.

Here are some positive moments in the budgeting process:

Paying off my husband's car
Getting all the kids on board with the "party or a bike" birthday plan
Great garage sale haul for kid #4
A TON of summer clothes for kid #1 given to us by a friend

Here are some down times:

Paying more out of pocket for health coverage
Husband's transmission died 2 weeks after pay off
Kid #3 wants to play hockey (YIKES!)
Copays for kid #2 over and above what we are used to
Adding a gluten free diet for kid #3 (Those groceries aren't cheap!)

So, I am getting ready to take some of our extra items to my parents' house for a neighborhood yard sale.  I have some items listed on eBay.  I am looking for a flexible part time job.  I am trying to get okay with telling the kids no.  I am missing a real hair cut and highlight.

We have goals.  I want to be debt free.  We want to move or renovate.   So I am trudging along.  I know that the real blessing is that I am home with the kids and I need to appreciate that. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where have I been?

It has been several weeks since I have made a post.  I have been so busy.  Actually it took me taking a vacation to get back on track.  Sounds crazy, doesn't it? 

To be honest, I have been running on empty.  I have been running from one activity to another, one commitment to another, one appointment to another.  I am often asked how I do it.  The answer I always give is: I just do.  Lately, it has become apparent that there are some things lacking in This Mom's household.  We have been so busy that our mornings are stressed, the house is a cluttered, our diet is awful and we have been tired and grouchy.  The children have become increasingly irritated (and did I mention grouchy). 

My husband has been saying for a while that we need to focus on the "business of the family" and I would take offense to that.  Isn't that what I was home doing?  But after some reflection, and a strong dose of reality, I realize he is right.  We need to focus on what matters most, what our values are and what our priorities are.  So, I have been spending the past weeks (and will be spending a few in the near future) putting together the systems to improve the family's business.  Also, we will be making those decisions regarding schooling, activities, and volunteer commitments.  We will be decluttering, selling and budgeting.  We will be paying off and saving.  I have already realized that some of the decisions are not going to be easy, but they need to be made. 

We have been just moving through life, but without a real blueprint or set of goals.  That is all about to change.  It is time for me to focus on doing a few things well and not lots of stuff in the nick of time.  I do believe I have been trying (without really thinking about it) to justify my role as stay at home mom, as special education mom, as mom of 4.  Always trying to prove that "this" wasn't going to slow me down.  I haven't slowed down, but I need to change my focus.  I will spend the next few weeks chronicling these changes and the sources for them.  Hopefully there will be tips everyone can use. 

I figure that I my children are only young for a little while and I only get one shot at this.  I want to make it count!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Buying Local

With the recent economy, everyone is thinking more about not only how, but where they spend their money.  My family is no exception.  I had never really given much thought to where I was shopping or where the products I purchased had come from until recent years. 

There has been a real marketing push to purchase products made in locally or sold by locally owned companies.  I really see it as reinvesting in the community and helping to rebuild the economy the only way I can right now.   I have listed below a few items that families already buy and how those dollars can be redirected back into the local economy. 
Groceries – I am fortunate to have 3 grocery stores within a 15 minute drive that are owned and headquartered in my state.   I also shop at local farmers markets and buy items directly from local farmers.  I get meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and vegetables directly from local farmers.  It doesn’t get any more local than taking right out of the hands of the person that produced it.
Pharmacy – I also avoid large chain pharmacies.  I prefer the locally owned pharmacy.  Having a special needs child means I am at the pharmacy for something all the time.  I like knowing the owners are active in the community I live in
Bakery – There is nothing better than fresh doughnuts and pretzel
Hardware – Perhaps I am nostalgic for the trips to the local hardware store with my dad, but do enjoy the local hardware store.  I like to just browse.
Eating out – We tend to avoid chain restaurants and opt for locally owned restaurants.  Even when we travel we try and eat at locally owned restaurants as much as we can.  This is not to say that chain restaurants are not locally owned.  You can do your homework to find out if your favorite chain restaurant is a corporate store or a locally owned franchise.  We do frequent a few locally owned francises as well.
Vacations – I have lived in this state my entire life and I know there are many attractions I haven’t seen.  The ones I have seen will be completely new when sharing them with my children.  We have planned local vacations for the last few summers and have several spots we still want to see.  We live in a state with lots to see and do. 
There are also hundreds of other items that can be purchased with an effort to help the local economy.  Cars, car repairs, books and gifts, furniture, clothing, hobby and craft items, pet supplies, baby supplies, and home repairs are just a few others that we have purchased locally.  It is just about taking the time to research a local option first. 
I am not saying that my family only consumes locally made products, but we have become more educated consumers.  We shop locally first, look for American made next make our peace with buying the rest from other sources.  If all families just changed a few of their buying habits maybe it would make a difference.

Friday, June 3, 2011

This Moment

Photo by J. Baughman
A picture, a moment to savor and remember.  For more see Soulemama.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Day in the Life of a Kid with Celiac

Kid #1 was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at 17 months.  He was so sick.  He was up to 20 diaper changes a day and vomited at least once every day for 2 and a half months.  He was so sad.  He lost 4 pounds (he weighed 22 to start)  The diagnosis seemed like such a big deal (until we had Kid #2 to put things in perspective!).  Gluten free food wasn't everywhere.  Most people had no idea what I was talking about.  But not now.  Even the most conventional grocery store has a gluten free section.  I thought I would write about what a day as Kid #1 looks like.


When he wakes up in the morning he has a gluten free bagel.  He has his own toaster slots and his own cream cheese. (and butter, peanut butter, and any other spread that could be contaminated with the "double dip" of a knife)  I keep it all clearly marked for everyone's convenience.  I found some squirt bottles to make buying in bulk (and avoiding the expense of smaller squeezable versions) easier for all of us. 

We pack his lunch everyday.  This doesn't break my heart.  It was a real shock to find out how many of the school lunch options have gluten (wheat).  Taco meat and french fries just to name a few.  I tried to let him buy his lunch a couple of times, but it was usually a hamburger or a hot dog without the bun and a vegetable.  For us, it was not a value and he was still hungry.  It also wasn't the nutrition I thought he needed.  He also packs a snack.  This gets tricky as schools crack down on nuts in the classroom.  (Get it, crack down?)  In years pasts we have had a written plan to allow him to have nuts in the classroom.  This year he was placed in with a student with a nut allergy.  Fortunately, it is just peanuts, so we try and avoid those when choosing a school snack.  (Nuts often are used as binding ingredients in gluten free products.)  I prefer the idea of each kid bringing their own snack.  It was always a bit more stressful when one student brought snack for the entire class.  And don't even get me started on cupcakes!



Once he gets home snack is easy.  He has fruit, vegetables, crackers and hummus, or yogurt.  Most of our dinners are gluten free.  If not, there is a gluten free substitution (like 2 different pastas).  I have found this a more economical way to shop for stuff, since gluten free items are so expensive.  We have 2 pizza cutters, multiple cutting boards, items labeled in the pantry.  I really think this has been a blessing to our family.  I was forced to start reading labels.  Once I started reading them I became shocked by what I was reading.  Kid #1's Celiac Disease got me on a plan to feed my kids healthier, less processed foods.  We did it at first because we had too, but now we do it because I can't imagine eating those fillers and chemicals. 

Recently, I put Kid #3 on a gluten free diet to see if her tummy trouble (which was different from Kid #1's, but not exactly) would go away.  It did! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

This Moment

No words, just a picture of a moment to remember!  For more see Soulemama.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Casting

For the past 8 weeks Kid #2 has been in 2 casts on her feet to lengthen her heel cords.  (During the last week we only had 1 cast.)  Because of her CP, her range of motion is limited and her heel cords are TIGHT!  So tight, that she finds it difficult to stand on her feet.  When she pulls herself up to the standing position she often stands on her toes.  We decided to do this to see if walking would be easier for her.  I should say if walking on her feet would be easier.  She walks EVERYWHERE on her knees.  She has excellent balance and can move both legs perfectly.  I am happy to say that yesterday was the last day of our casting.  She got out of the casts, put on her braces (with no struggle, since her feet were so nicely bent) and walked by herself (with a walker) about 200 feet!!  Thank God!!  She was so proud of herself.  So the walker is being ordered and the walking program begins.  And to those doctors that told me it probably wouldn't happen, don't count this girl out!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In 11 Months

This post is an ongoing effort to get myself on track before my 40th birthday.  Not that 40 is a big deal for me, but it is the newest milestone.  I have spent the last month or so feeling a bit overwhelmed.  Our spring schedule is hectic and I am lacking the downtime to get my thoughts together.  Add to that all the things I feel like I SHOULD be doing and am not and it is a recipe for disaster.  Ever since Kid #4 was born my husband and I have been taking turns saying things like, "We need a bigger house." and "We need a new car." and "I wish we had ____."  Facts are we don't NEED any of it.  And wishing and stressing about it has set an tone in our house that isn't always pleasant.   

This month I am focusing on what we really need.  What we really need is happiness, food, love, warmth, and faith.  A bigger house or a new car isn't going to bring me any of that.  In fact, I feel like it may take that away from those.  My kids all love to sleep together in one room.  They love to read books together and snuggle under the covers.  If we have a bigger house and everyone has their own room one of two things will happen: #1. They will all go to their own space and not connect with one another.  Or #2. They will still all be together in one room and I will be cleaning a much larger house.  I am finishing up the decluttering that I began during Lent and preparing to sell, donate and pitch more stuff.  I want to make this entire house organized, usable and tidy.  I plan to finish the decorating and begin working on the garden.  I want to spend time on what really matters.  Our Home.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This Mom recommends...

I love this new homeschooling website (well, it is not new, but it is new to me!) Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Her resources are fabulous.  She has tons of free printables, but also sells Letter of the Week (beginner and advanced) lessons and 2 great geography lessons, Road Trip and Expedition Earth.  These things are great whether you homeschool or not!  I have them all and my kids love them.

Right now she has a super giveaway, a  $100 gift card to Educational Insights.  Perfect to add educational toys to your collection!  I added her button to my page!  Check out Erica and her stuff!

And the winner is....

Karla G! 

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients

Contact me by Friday and let me know how you want the book delivered!  Enjoy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lowe's Build and Grow

This is a fun, free activity for you and the kids on a Saturday morning.  My kids have enjoyed these projects.  For more information click here.

Current Free Clinics
Biplane: Saturday 05/28/2011
Goofy Golf: Saturday 06/11/2011
Your child will love this kit! This cool Biplane comes with two complete sets of stickers and punch out pilots!
This kit is fun to build and makes a great Father's Day gift! Bring your child in and they can build this awesome Goofy Golf kit!
 
I already have the next few of these clinics in my calendar.  If we have the time we will be there!
 
 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This Mom Recommends...

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More FunIt is rare that I read a book that isn't about child development, learning styles, or educational theory.  When I do read for pleasure it is typically some self help book instructing me how to get organized, lose weight or live the life I was meant to live.  I think that is why this book The Happiness Project: Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin appealed to me.  She sets of on a year long quest for happiness.  The changes she made were totally the ones I need to make in my own life.  She even has a companion blog to assist others on their own happiness project.  This was a quick read and I had fun reading it.  This dialogue she includes with her husband could very well have happen in my own house.  This mom recommends this book!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Facebook Giveaway

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients

To celebrate my facebook page and the creation of my new button (Thanks Geof!) I am offering a giveaway of one of my favorite cookbooks: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients.   It is a wonderful book with step by step instructions on how to make yummy, healthy, and sometimes gluten free breads at home.  I like it and I know you will too.

Here is how to enter:

1. "Like" What This Mom Thinks on Facebook.  Leave a comment on this post to let me know you did.

2.  Post this giveaway on your wall.  Again, leave a comment that lets me know you did.

3. Link this giveaway to your blog.  Leave the link in the comment section.

4. Tweet about the giveaway.  I tweet (sometimes) @thismomthinks. Then leave me a message in the comments.

5. Sign up to follow me by email on the sidebar of my blog.   And comment to let me know!

The giveaway lasts until Mother's Day, May 8, 2011.  A winner will be randomly drawn on May 9, 2011.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Institutionalized Snacking

* This is a reprint from last July, but baseball just started and I am battling snacks again!

Snacks have been a subject near and dear to my heart for years.  I have fond memories of an after school snack waiting when I got home.  I still enjoy a mid-afternoon bite every once and a while, but I have grown a bit tired of what I call “Institutionalized Snacking”.  Everywhere my children go, they are offered a snack.  It has become a bit much.  Perhaps I have become more aware of it because kid #1 is gluten intolerant and can’t eat most snacks offered.  It seems that I am constantly running gluten free junk food to school, baseball games, church, and Cub Scout events.  There are birthday parties, pizza parties, bake sales, ice cream parties, and the standard Valentine, Halloween, and other holiday parties.  When kid #1’s class had a young authors’ event, there were cookies and lemonade. I forgot to send a cookie and kid #1 was the ONLY child that didn’t eat a cookie.  Then to make matters worse, there were so many cookies donated for the event the class ate them for an afternoon snack for the next two days.  Kid #3 insists on going to the barber shop with her father every three weeks when he gets his hair cut because she leaves there with fists FULL of candy.  Kid #1 (used to) gets off the bus with a lollipop or a stick full of sugar as a reward for good behavior. 

Now that kid #1 and kid #3 are playing organized baseball, the snack issue has again reared its high fructose corn syrup covered, ugly head.  When my children are going to participate in exercise I prepare a meal (or snack) ahead of time to give them the energy to complete the task.  I also provide them with adequate water while competing.  When we get home my kids will also get a healthy meal (or snack).  Don’t get me wrong, our family has gone to the local ice cream shop after one of the games this year and all enjoyed a frozen treat, but my children were not allowed to have that AND the snack offered.  I do not feel that parents are intentionally sending chocolate sandwich cookies and “punch” boxes to sabotage the health of children, but enough already! 

Here are the institutionalized snack rules at our house.
1. Always use your manners.  We simply say, “yes please” or “no thank you”.  (Kid #1 once began to explain that the “juice” box wasn’t really juice and that is why he didn’t take it!  We don’t want to offend people!)
2. You must ask your parents before you take a snack.  Especially since there is some label reading that has to go on with us!
3. If you take the high sugar snack food, then you may not have the juice.  It is one or the other, not both.
4. The snack has to come back to us to be opened.  At one of the recent ball games the snack was fruit snacks.  Each 4 year old was given a bag that had 3 servings in them!  Kid #3 ate those snacks on and off for a week.  Most of her teammates had them finished before reaching the parking lot. 
5. We don’t eat anything until we get to the car.  We have a lot of kids, gear, and a wheelchair to push. The addition of snacks can add 20 minutes to getting to the car.

My kids aren’t always happy about our snack rules.  Don’t feel too sorry for them though.  They eat junk food too, but I have noticed that they are now turning down the offered food because they prefer what’s at home.  After the last few ball games we have had freshly popped popcorn, frozen fruit smoothies, watermelon, and Larabars.  We recently took our turn at snacks and I let my kids pick what they wanted to take.  Their choices: 100% juice pouches, apple slices (in individual bags – a big treat) and cheese sticks.  I was pretty impressed. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

40 Bags Update

Here is the last update for my Lenten plan to get rid of 40 bags in 40 days.

I deep cleaned my closet and really looked at the items inside it.  I got rid of all the "stuff" I had plans to fit into, was holding on to for no reason and was worn out or stretched out.  I was able to get 3 garbage bags of clothes out of my closet and drawers.  I also had a bag of garbage. (4 bags)

Even though it snowed a week ago, I cleaned out the front coat closet.  I got 2 bags from there in shoes, boots, gloves and coats.

I cleaned under the bed in the girls' room.  Kid #3 is hoarder.  1 bag!

Got rid of a broken car seat (fit in a trash bag), broke down a ton of cardboard (I have a habit of saving the boxes of items I buy.) 3 bags.

I also cleaned out the laundry room!  1 bag.

That is 11 bags.  Taking my total to 42 bags!  Whoo  Hooo!

This is a project I will continue.  I am enjoying decluttering.   Looking at my closet makes me happy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kid #4

I am finishing my Kid Profiles with Kid #4.  She is actually #4.1, a gift from God to heal my broken heart after losing Mary Grace at 21 weeks.
She is such a happy baby.  Easy going and cuddly.  Perfect attitude for Kid #4.

She loves her siblings and always wants to be with them (which is never a problem, someone is always around).
Her relationship with Kid #2 is amazing.  Kid #2 is such a good sister.  Having a baby sister has taught her so much.
She is patient and smiley.  She is a good eater and her chubby legs are adorable!
She is so wonderful.  She is beginning to scoot and roll.  I love how excited the big kids get while watching her!
Still not sleeping through the night, but I look forward to getting up (most of the time) and cuddling her.  I know the blessing I was given.  I am having so much fun!