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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Get the kids in the game!

Get the kids involved as soon as you can! Aiden has been "helping" with laundry and dishes since he was about 22 mos old. He's 3 now. The help they offer may not really be that helpful, and it may make the task take longer, but in the end they will eventually learn the routines and they will become self sufficient in areas that will help them and mom & dad down the road!

A perfect example-and so glad I snapped a photo of this tonight...Aiden likes to help put dishes away. He had to take an early bath due to a mess he made (lol) and after his bath I sat him on the couch to warm up in his towel and I decided to unload the dishes. He heard the sounds of dishes being put away and came in to help me. He refused to get dressed first when I told him "Go get on your jammies" because I'm guessing he knew I would get it done before he got back!

So...in his towel dress he helped stack the kids cups together for me, he put up the spatulas and rubber scrapers in the drawer, put the silverware away, and stacked the ramekins from tonights applesauce!

I also suggest you put the baby in a high chair if you can and give the baby something to do for 5-15 minutes while you do the small stuff, like clearing the table, wiping down the counters, etc. The baby could color, or play with a puzzle, etc. in the high chair.

The toddler can either help you with small stuff, which will totally make him feel big and important, or you can give the toddler a bowl and spoon to pretend to cook while you clean up in the kitchen. It's the little things we moms need to learn in order to give us 5-15 mins of uninterrupted time to get the jobs done!

I take advantage of bath time with Aiden to clean up the bathroom while he plays in the tub. I'm already in there, so I spend a few minutes washing him and playing and then I move onto cleaning stuff while he plays with bath toys.

Naptime is a nother big one. I can do the hustle during a nap time! It's a great time to get stuff done, and if housework is caught up I steal naptime for a good book, to watch a show on TV, or to spend some time talking with a friend.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tween birthday!

Today we celebrated the birth of my sweet, only daughter with family. I love that all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and even great grandmacome to celebrate my children's births every year!

Here's my birthday girl!
We hang a sign on the fireplace for every birthday child. It's one of our little traditions. 
I normally make the kids cakes myself, but she saw this at the store and loved it so I bought this for her wish cake, and we had lots of cupcakes to feed the masses.
She's a lucky girl. She got 2 wishes this year. ;)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Tweens are fun!

Tonight we hosted a birthday party with just a few friends for our tween daughter, Nadine. We have a family party planned this weekend, but she's a diva and thinks she deserves 2 parties ;)

The kids, just hanging out before dinner.
Pizza time! Always a hit with the teen sector!
Nadine wanted the giant cupcake, as seen on TV. Since I knew this would not be enough cake for our family party I made it for the friend event. It was super cute, fun and easy to make, and the kids loved it!
The kids singing Happy Birthday
Nadine making her wish!

We get the kids each 4 gifts. Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. It works well for us, and makes gifting so much easier and more reasonable.
Here is the "Something she wanted" a skateboard! 
"Something she needs" New socks, and she was actually happy about it. She'd been bickering about her lack of socks lately. Haha!
Something to wear" a really cute OP tank, jean skirt, and flip flops. I scored this cute outfit at Wal-Mart for $3 total. Major end of season clearance makes me super happy!
The "Something to read" was a big hit this year. In years past we've given magazine subscriptions or a new Twilight series book. This year we opted for every magazine on the stands during her birthday month with Justin Beiber on the cover. The girls were swooning over the articles on him, and his posters for hours.

It was a fun night for the girls, and when the tween daughter is happy momma is very happy! 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cheating Child

The school just called my cell...to inform me my child was caught CHEATING!!! Sooo dissapointed!

You know, I really truly know my children aren't perfect. I've never claimd them to be...but there is really no excuse for this behavior. I have raised these kids to know better than that. It's beyond disheartening to me because I know how I was raised, and I practically kill myself to be more than the polar opposite of a parent to the I had. It's a complete insult to my job as a parent, and I just really have no words for this child right now. We may not speak until bedtime. I'm that upset by this.

Later that day...

I'm calming down...and I'm leaning twoards this being a lengthy conversation and apology letters for teacher, and accomplice, as well as to myself, and even to self. Beyond that, we will be writing up new contracts for gaming privleges, and responsibilities at home.

Later that night...

Well, we had a nice talk. My child is full of remourse, and basically, according to the Dean, this is how it went down. My child did not complete one Math problem because my child was spaced out in class, not paying attention to the lesson, and didn't understand the question. Instead of asking mom and/or dad for help my child had decided to take a deduction in points for the unanswered question. Apparently Mom is so scary that my child would prefer to take a B instead of asking me for homework help at pm. :( Lesson learned! Mom will work on that :)

So, while getting ready to turn in the homework my child told the student sitting at the next desk "I didn't do question #5 because I didn't understand it." to which the other student offered up his homework and said "Just copy down my answers." So, my child decided to go for it, and the Teacher witnessed the whole thing.

We talked about honesty, cheating, responsibility, who all was affected by your actions, and what decision could have been made differently for a more favorable outcome. ... See More

The rule is no game time until homework is completed in it's entirety. The new rule is no game time, TV watching, or playing until homework is completed in it's entirty, AND until mom or Dad has verified that all homework is completely completed and placed into hte school binder and in the backpack. This may mean waiting far longer to play games, as mom will not stop what she is doing to check your homework immediately. You will wait.

On top of the chat, my child is also writing a letter of apology to the teacher for disrupting class, being disrespectful, for not giving 100%, and for not asking for help.

A letter of apology for the other student involved will be written to say I'm sorry for involvong you in this situation, and I apologize for accepting your offer to copy your homework. I should have said no because cheating is never appropriate.

Lastly, while dear old mom is at her 2nd job tonight a letter will be written apologizing for whatever my child feels should be apologized for. I personally think it should be a thank you letter for busting my rump to provide a good life for these kids, but we'll see what my child comes up with.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Morning Madness

Create a morning routine, because you and your family deserve it!

Set bedtimes for you and your children. Time your mornings to gage how much time you really need to get ready and adjust your schedule to suit that timeframe. Be realistic, and give extra time for hiccups. :)

Split some of the responsibilites for the younger siblings between the older siblings. (Help find shoes, put on socks, put on coat, etc.)

Have your children pick out and set out clothing the night before.

Encourage independence and responsibility with your children. If they can do something on their own, encourage them to do so.

Pack lunches, snacks, and medicines the night before.

Ensure all homework is finished, put away, and all backpacks and diaper bags are set by the door the night before.

Limit the households morning phone calls to urgent needs.

Set your breakfast table the night before.

Keep all electronics off in the morning. No TV, radio, games, computers. No one needs these distractions and it's just not a good way to start your brain in the morning if it can be avoided!

Try your best to meet the school bus on time so you don't have to make an extra trip to drop the children off at school. One day last year we just skipped breakfast all together and had the kids eat school breakfast in order to catch the bus. It was worth the $1.50 to save me from loading up 3 kids and possibly missing another bus in the process!

Wash breakfast dishes before you leave to work. Coming home to a sink full of dirty dishes is depressing!

Eliminate repeat complications in your morning. Come up with unique soloutions for your own family that will eliminate that morning madness.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Meal planning

Planning out your meals for the week is a real time saver. By meal planning the week out you ensure that you know what to cook, that you have the ingredients on hand, and that you have meals that fit the time your schedule allots. This save time, and money since we are less likely to do take out if there is a plan!

On busy nights with sporting events we opt for easy meals like spaghetti and meat sauce with garlic bread. On free nights when everyone is home early we like to try out new, and more complex recipes. Same goes for busy mornings. On busy days we may do cereal, or pre-made frozen pancakes, while on lazy days we may do homemade waffles, or eggs & sausage w/toast.

My husband and I plan our meals every weekend. We shop on Sunday, so I try to have the list ready by Sunday, late morning. We look at our calendars, and decide what days we will need quick and easy meals.

We write the meals on our weekly calendar, and we review what ingriedients are needed and see what we already have on hand in the pantry. We make a list of what we don't have, and then add to it. Things we check each weekend to see if it needs replenished are laundry materials, health and beauty items, cleaners, snacks, and paper goods.

I use a printed shopping list. Mine is sorted by departmen (Dairy, meat, produce, dry goods, frozen, etc.). I'm not reinventing the wheel here...you can find templates from MSWord for shopping lists, or do a Google search for "grocery shopping lists", and customize it yourself to make it work for you!

Happy shopping, and saving!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dear Daughter,

The day has come. I always knew it would. Today was the very 1st time you scoffed at me that you didn't have anything to wear. EVERYTHING is dirty. Despite owning 7 pairs of school pants, and only being 2 days into the school week, somehow all of your pants have dissapeared into the dirty clothes hamper.

I am trying to be patient, kind, and understanding. I remember what it was like to be a tween. I remember when my parents would share stories of their less fortunate childhood, and how I was "lucky". I hated that. I swore I would never do that to my own children.

Well, news flash sister. When I was your age I had 2 pairs of jeans. 1 pair were Sasson brand, and I hated them because they weren't acid washed. They looked like farmer jeans, which was so not the style at the time. The other pair were a trendy pair of Jordache. Grandma H bought them for me. They were acid washed denim. They were awsomeness. I had to wear them gently, and fold them up neatly at night so I could wear them a 2nd time, and sometimes even a third time, or else I would have had to wear one of the long skirts my seriously dated grandmother bought me every year. What did she want me to look like, a nun?

In all seriousness Sis, you have no one to blame but yourself. You change clothes everyday when you get home, even though I've asked you not too. You know how you turn off the kitchen faucet on me while I am doing dishes, and tell me "water conservation mom"? Well smarty pants, we waste 10X the water washing YOUR wardrobe than I do washing your dishes.

There are 7 days in a week, 6 family members who wear clothing, 2 dogs, and 6 sets of bedding to be washed. Tuesday is your day. I washed your bedding so you could come home to fresh clean sheets at bedtime. I washed one load of your laundry. I couldn't believe you crammed 3 LOADS into 1 hamper!?! You know how to use the washing machine, right? Well...use it!

As of today I will no longer be a slave to your wardrobe. You will get one load of laundry washed and dried from me each week, on Tuesday. Anything you need above that is up to you. The washer is free to use on Sundays.

Thanks for starting my day off right. After all the hard work I've done to kee the house running, take you and your siblings to countless practices, birthday parties, and games, this is the thanks I get? By the way...I still totally wear my fave jeans 2-3 times before I wash them when I can. If I didn't I'd surely never get to wear them thanks to my selfish daughter thinking her clothing takes priority.

I thought I raised you to be a kind, and loving spirit. I guess I didn't read the fine print. Apparently there is a mother daughter clause in which at the age of almost 12 my daughter would lose her kind and loving spirit, but only for dear old mom.

Have fun wearing those Khaki pants you hate tomorrow. I left your fave pair crammed in the bottom of the hamper where you put them, dear.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Welcome Brayden Anthony!

My Bestie, and neighbor, had her beautiful baby boy yesterday. Welcome to the wold, gorgeous! He's so snuggle I could seriously steal him. She had better keep her windows locked at night for a few weeks ;)
I look good holding babies. Just sayin' ;)
Brayden, you are so beautiful <3
Look at all of that hair!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Daily Routine

I swear by my daily checklists, and every single time I stop using them things fall apart! I have to get back to using them. I have been slacking on them since school started and it's time to get that routine back! Here is what my daily routine looks like. My routine is based off of the FlyLady system. Many moms tell me her system in hard to follow because of all of the emails.

It took me a while to create my routine, but once I got all the kinks worked out it really suits me. Feel free to modify it to meet your needs. I printed mine off and put it into sheet protectors. I can then make check marks with dry erase marker on the sheet protector and reuse the checklist every day! I keep it in a binder with my monthly zone cleaning and my other household lists...which I will post blogs on those another day.

I know it seems like a lot, and it may seem silly to have so much stuff in a routine, but when I don't follow the checklist I get overwhelmed and I forget things! Plus it makes it easier to think of one task at a time instead of rethinking of the same task over and over, only to forget it eventually! I suggest you use 3 pages for the morning, afternoon, and bedtime routines so you eyes have less to be visually overwhelmed by.

Morning routine

• Make the bed

• Drink 20 oz. water

• Get showered & dressed

• Quick wipe down of the vanity and toilet

• Eat breakfast

• Put laundry in the dryer

• Start washing bedding

• Put clean dishes away

• Load dishwasher

• 6am wake-up the oldest

• Breakfast for him

• 6:15 wake-up the daughter

• Breakfast for her

• Check oldests binder

• Sign daughters planner

• 7am wake-up the middle son

• Breakfast for him

• Give him his meds

• Sign his planner

• 7:30am wake-up the baby boy

• Breakfast for him

• Pack his diaper bag

• Check e-mail

• Gather reports

• Load camera battery & memory card

It may seem daunting to wake-up and serve 4 kids at 4 different times, but it works for us. We have 3 different busses to catch, and this gives me a small bit of one on one time to help the kids start the day off! I usually cook the breakfast all at once, and just serve it in shifts.

Afternoon routine

• Put bedding in dryer

• Wash laundry

• Drink 20 oz. water

• Check e-mail

• Check in on social networking websites

• Do homework with kids

• Start dinner

• Set the table

• Zone cleaning

• Use 2 minutes to tidy one spot

• Use 5 mins for  quick tidy of the worst room

• Pick up trash around the house (wrappers, boxes, tissues, etc.)

• My home power hour (I'll link this to another blog about my power hour)

Evening routine

• Put laundry in dryer

• Drink 20 oz. water

• Check schedule

• 7:30pm bath routine

• Have kids brush teeth

• Set out school clothes

• Sign planners & logs

• Visit social networking sites again

• Fold laundry

• Charge cell

• Charge camera battery

• Enter reports

• Charge home phones

• Load and start dishes

• Clean out the kitchen sink

• Brush teeth

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Italian Pork loin (crockpot)

We made this concoction on a whim. We needed a lot of meat for a birthday party, and something easy to serve and maintain. We had planned to do BBQ Pork with buns. Instead we came up with this, and it was a hit with everyone from toddler to Seniors!

4-5 lb Pork loin
16 oz. jar of pepperonchini
1 can of beef broth
2 cups of water
(Season to taste if you think it needs it-Next time I plan to add fresh chopped cilantro right before serving!)

Place Pork Loin in crock pot, and ad pepperonchini's, broth, and water. Cook 0n low for 8 hours.
Drain enough of the liquid to keep the meat wet without it being completely submerged. You want your guests to be able to spoon out a portion of meat without it being to wet for a bun, but not so dry that it burns up sitting in the crock pot. How's that for precise? ;)

Shred meet in the remaining liquid. (Optional: remove pepperonchinis, or chop up pepperonchinis and return to crock pot.)

Add 2 TBSP minced Garlic (We used the jar kind...it's okay. Emeril approves)

Serve right from the crock pot with BBQ sauce on the side, and buns/pita/tortillas/etc. of your liking.

Serves many many happy people.

Forgot to take a pic, but it smells wonderful, and tastes great without the BBQ sauce as well!

It's official, I'm a mom to a teen...

and I gotta be honest...I'm scared shitless! My Andrew is not a typical boy, and will not really be a "Teen" mentally, although he's catching up quickly! I just cannot believe my first born is oficially a Teen. Yikes!

As usual we had the whole fam damily over. There was lots of food, of course there was cake, and a small pile of gifts. For those with only little ones don't feel bad...the gifts just get more expensive and smaller the older they get! He received ridiculous amounts of gift cards and cash. Rotten child. ;)

I added a pic of sis and her friend at the end because it was just too sweet.

Here are some pics from his 13th birthday party. Happy birthday my beautiful baby boy!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Italian Meatloaf


1 lb ground beef (or ground meat of choice)
2 cups Spaghetti sauce, divided (I use Hunts 4 cheese)
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzerella cheese (Could sub. Parmesean, 1/2 cup for top)
1 cup of crushed fried onions + 1/4 cup for garnish
Seasonings: Salt, pepper, garlic (to taste, could use McCormicks Meatloaf seasoning)
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg
Nonstick cooking spray


Mix ground beef with bread crumbs, crushed onions, 1 cup spaghetti sauce, egg, 1 cup Mozzerella, and seasonings until well mixed and all ingreients are wet.

Spray baking dish with non-stick spray, and spread meatloaf evenly into the dish.

Top with remaining 1 cup spaghetti sauce, and remaining 1/2 cup of shredded Mozerella

Bake at 350 for 1 hour

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Simplify your Christmas

With the Holiday season recently ending it's a good time to take a look around at the bounty of gifts your family just received. Gain some perspective on the Holiday loot. Is it too much? Just right? Feel like it's not enough?

Several years ago I hear a great poem shared by my friend, Heather, over at Inepensively. It has saved my family from the Holiday over gifting habit!

"Something you want. Something you need. Something to wear, and something to read."

Each of our 4 children receive so many gifts. With a great grandma, 2 sets of grandparents, great aunts & uncles, and 2 uncles, they receive more gifts than any family of 16 should!

We startd the 4 gift rule, and the kids took to it without a single complaint. Instead of getting 3-5 toys, they get one big thing...something they want, and the small stuff, we let the extended family buy those items.

Something you need could be a new coat, new shoes, socks, new bedding, etc.

Something to wear is usually a new outfit. I stalk the clearance racks and black friday sales so I always get the outfit on the super cheap! Last year our daughter received a Miley Cyrus T-shirt, Jeans, & Scarf outfit which I purchased for $3!!!

Something to read is an easy one. We may buy a chapter book, or a years subscription to a magazine, like National Geographic kids. I love the magazine idea because it's the gift that keeps on giving all year long!

No matter how you celebrate the Holidays it's a great time to remind children about those less fortunate. We purge toys and clothes around the Holiday season and donate to local shelters for thse whom are less fortunate. 

Friday, January 1, 2010


As a mom of four I find a lot of bliss in my crazy daily life. I am constantly organizing, prioritizing, and trying to find ways to make the little things in life simpler. Back in November of 2008 I woke up one day and decided I was sick, sick, sick of living in a cluttered, and chaotic home. We have 2 boys with special needs and I knew this environment was not the most conducive for good behavior. Things had to change! I ready about a gazillion books about living the simple life, how to simplify your life with kids, and even books about living the simple holiday! I worked for a year at purging, decluttering, and organizing my families worldly possessions. I hit a rut and I started to lose my motivation.

I started a group called Simplify Your Life on http://www.blogger.com/www.momsLikeMe.com, a message board for moms...like ME!, back in December of 2009. My goal was to get some accountability from my fellow mommy friends to get back no track with simplifying my life.

Our group quickly grew to over 100 members by the time the New Years Urge-to-purge had worn off mid January. We've been going for about 6 months strong now and we have worked together to make our lives a little more joyous every day.

Along this journey I have had many people telling me I should write a book with all the ideas I come up with for my home, as well as for the group. Since I already mentioned there are a gazillion books on the market I decided I would just blog about my tricks of the trade from time to time, and give it up for free. Who doesn't love a little free help every now and again?

So, the birth of Simplify Your crazy Life was born! I hope you enjoy some of the tips I post, and stories I may share. I really love organizing and simplifying so I look forward to sharing my love with you!

Thanks for checking out my blog!