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Thursday, August 30, 2012

On the Road Again

2 of you (haha) may remember that I accidentally deleted my original blog earlier this year. I had to add the word blog to U8MyCrayons for my new blog. As luck may have it my old blog address was released by the Google Gods and I was able to secure the old name.

For now I have set up the new old blog to FWD to This blog will remain up for now so that the old posts can be located. I have decided not to merge the two, for now. I may combine them at a later time but for now...fresh start. Again.

Thanks for hanging with me.



Monday, July 30, 2012

Daily Routines and a Fail proof Checklist!

I swear by my daily checklists.Every single time I stop using them things fall apart! I have been slacking on them since school ended and we moved into the rental house. School starts tomorrow and it's time to get that routine back! My routine is based off of the Fly Lady system. Many moms tell me her system in hard to follow because of all of the emails. It's too overwhelming. I get that. That's why I had to make up my own thing! It was seriously overwhelming. That was many years ago. Maybe she has simplified the process?

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 print mine off and put them 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! In the beginning I suggest you use 3 pages for the morning, afternoon, and bedtime routines so your eyes will have less to be visually overwhelmed by.

Now, you will undoubtedly question the method to a few of these things. One thing to know is that spending just 2 minutes tackling a pile on your counter may not clear it away completely but it is a start and I can assure you that 2 minutes every day is better than no minutes at all. It will slowly decrease and you will start to see results and THEN you may be motivated to dedicate 5 minutes instead of just 2. Just take baby steps and believe that you don't have to do it all at once. You have to start somewhere. Small steps lead to bigger steps and before you know it, if you do your checklists every single day, you will see results. It will feel fantastic.

You're not going to finish it all.  Not today, anyway.

If something on these lists doesn't apply to you, remove them. If everything on these lists applies to you that is very creepy. Perhaps we should meet? have to make it your own so copy, paste, print, and use a pencil to add in things and cross off things for a week until you get your final routine figured out. At that time you can reprint your final official list. The best thing about this is that you can adjust the lists as need be depending on if the kids are in school, on break, etc.

Here is a basic copy of my daily routine checklists.

Morning Checklist

 Wake up-make bed
 Wake Daughter 5am
 Fix her Breakfast
 Drink Water
 Eat Breakfast

 Wake the oldest 5:30
 Give him his meds
 Feed the oldest
 Kids Uniform Check

 Take Shower
 Get dressed

 Start washing bedding
 Clean the Master vanity & toilet

 Wake the middle boy 6am
 Give the middle boy Meds
 Feed the middle boy
 Put clean dishes away
 Load dishwasher

 Sign school planner
 Sign reading logs
 Clean the hall vanity and toilet

 Pack moms lunch
 Print reports
 Check e-mail
 SYL Check-in
 TOAO Check-in
 Camera battery & SD 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 with each child to help the kids start the day off! I usually cook the breakfast all at once, and just serve it in shifts.

Afternoon routine

 Fold/sort Laundry in dryer
 Load bedding into dryer
 Start new load of laundry

 Dinner prep.
 Drink water
 Check e-mail
 SYL Check-in
 TOAO Check-in
 Kids chore charts
 Homework w/kids
 Set Table
 Prepare dinner
Zone cleaning (15 mins)
 Work on one pile of clutter (5 mins)
 Pick up in the messiest room (5 mins)
 Walk around and pick up all trash, recycling,  (5 mins)
 Work on Power Hour checklist (More on this another time. It's basically like which room gets vacuumed on which day, and whose room gets dusted each day)

Evening routine

 Put laundry in dryer
 Load and start dinner dishes
 Shine sink!
 Fold/sort laundry
 Put laundry away

 7:30 bath routines
 Kids brush teeth
 Set out school clothes
 Sign planners & logs

 Charge home phone
 Charge cell phones
 charge camera batteries
 Check alarms are set/on

 Brush teeth
 Drink 16oz. water
 Check calendar
 SYL Check-in
 TOAO Check-in
 Blog post? <--see that question mark? That's is why I rarely get around to blogging. I need to change that!

Family Photo Session

We had family photos taken last night with Elisabeth Smith Lifestyle Photography. She is incredibly gifted with newborn sessions and I can't wait to see how she does with crazy family sessions! She sent a few previews last night and I'm anxious to see more!

This is me!
 My beautiful family <3
 ...and this is my gorgeous barely teen daughter whom will be locked away for the next 17 years or so. 

*Sigh*...Elisabeth knows her stuff!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Day Trip to Indiana Beach

I haven't been to Indiana Beach since I was a pre-driving teenager. I remembered very little about the park itself. I just remember the cute boy I met, the window seat we sat at when we shared a soda in the Skyroom, and the Boardwalk Funway Video Game Arcade where said cute boy liked to hang out with the cool kids.

I purchased our tickets from GetMyPerks when the deal o' the day was "Ride & Swim All Day at Indiana Beach for Only $16". Smiley, from WZPL had advertised $10 off your GetMyPerks purchase with a secret code so 2 tickets were just $22. At $11 a person I could not pass up the deal. I had my husband purchase 2 tickets as well, and our oldest son purchased 2 tickets. A family of 6 rarely get into anything for $66. Hey, we can't even eat out for that!

I posted about the excitement of going to Indiana Beach on a social networking site. Immediately the bad reviews started pouring in. Friends were asking "Have you been there? How long ago did you last visit the park? etc..."

I started wishing I had asked people about it first but at $11 per person how could I NOT take a chance?

I believe that every experience is what you make of it. I knew that if nothing else, at $11 the kids would surely enjoy swimming and water slides. I was determined to prove to my friends that Indiana Beach was, in fact, a good time.

When we arrived at the park at noon, an hour after opening, I was pleasantly surprised at how few cars were in the free parking lot. I assumed that the others must have been in the VIP lot. Closer parking is nice, but free is good and we got a front spot. Score!

As we entered the line was very short to check in with our tickets. We had no problem using the vouchers. I always worry about the discount tickets purchased online being rejected at the gate. I asked for a park map and was disappointed that they were apparently out of maps. We had no idea what the park was like, where facilities were located, etc. but we forged ahead. We had all day to figure it out.

When we entered the park the first thing we saw was Adventure point. This area includes The Flying Crow Zip-Line, High Ropes Course, Rock Climbing Wall, and the Adventure Point Outfitters Shop. Since these attractions were an additional $10 to our tickets we did not try them out. I figured if we ran out of things to do we could always come back later and try them out. We were able to see patrons using the new zip line. That looked like a lot of fun. It goes across the lake so I was not willing to ride it but it looked like the riders were enjoying the ride!

The next ride we came to, the Splash Battle, was apparently out of service. Our youngest was disappointed but we assured him that there were surely lots of other fun rides to enjoy down the boardwalk. Next he spotted the Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain. Sadly it was not operational today either. I told him that we could move on and maybe it would be up and running when we came back through. As I thought to myself "This has got to be just coincidence..." we decided that maybe we should walk to the end of the boardwalk and start with the water park attractions. I knew that the kids would not be disappointed there!

 Along the boardwalk we found a hut selling "Fish food" for $ .50. There is a swarm of Carp right next to the boardwalk. These gigantic fish were another thing that I remembered seeing here from my childhood!

 Our 1st stop was at the Splash Bash. It is what it is, a splash park. We have similar splash parks for free around our hometown. It's nothing fancy but the younger kids enjoyed it. This area offers updated lounge chairs so we could enjoy watching the boys play from a comfortable, clean, and dry seat!

 The 6 and 10 year old boys gave their seal of approval on splash grounds!  

We hopped over to Sandy Beach. This is a lake. Several of my friends had spoken to how nasty this area was. Given that my family are campers, and boaters I had an open mind about it. I suspect they thought the beach would be cleaner water, like one might see near the ocean. I have to say that it was, in fact, pretty decent for a beach in Indiana. I've seen far far worse. Again, this is an amenity that we enjoy for free at several state parks on many weekends. It's not really the feature that I would pay for but the kids enjoyed it and that's what is most important. 

The lounge chairs at the beach were pretty nice. They seemed to be a recent update to the area. They were sturdy and comfortable. I don't like swimming a lot so these things are important to mom while the kids are swimming! Sister seemed to enjoy the chairs as well.

 My little guy thought this gator was fun!

The kids tried out a few of the six water slides that Indiana Beach has to offer. They all enjoyed them. I take their word on those reviews over testing them out myself, thank you very much. 

The kids enjoyed Action river. This lazy river was nice. It had ample room, and was a long ride around the water park area. They seemed to have plenty of tubes for the amount of visitors as the kids only waited a few minutes each to get in. 
They thought it was fun without a tube too!

After the kids were done with the water rides we went to the shower house to get dressed. This left a lot to be desired. The entrance to the locker room is unisex and I watched patron after patron enter with a confused look, as if "Is this it?" or "Are men supposed to be in here?" I just rushed the kids into stalls to get changed and we got out of there. I mean seriously...I've seen nicer bathhouses at campgrounds. There is a lot left to be desired about the shower house at Indiana Beach. 

I knew that we would be eating soon and there was an ATM along the boardwalk. Too bad it was not working. I know that this is not Indiana Beaches fault but after all the shut down rides we had encountered during our walk of the park...seriously? 

We walked up to the Skyroom for dinner. I figured that surely they took debit cards and air conditioning sounded like a great idea at this point! Sadly they were not open yet, and it was hotter in there than it was outside. Luckily we stumbled upon The Burger Shake. Again-it really would have been nice to have a map of this place! The layout is very confusing.

The prices at the Burger Shake were reasonable ($6-ish for combo meals) and the food was good. We tried the BBQ sandwich, the Grilled Cheese, the Cheeseburger, and the Tenderloin. All combos came with fries and a soda. Since a soda was $2.75 the price for a combo seemed like the way to go. Surprisingly, the fries were hot, fresh, and tasty and the sodas were not crammed full of ice. I was quite pleased with the dining experience at the Burger Shake. Good food, reasonably priced in a clean, air conditioned space. Win!

After we ate we decided to walk the boardwalk and see what rides we could try out. I was hopeful that we would find no more closed rides but knew that the kids had a good time in the water should the rest of the day be a bust.

In the Kiddy Land area Aiden enjoyed the Convoy race.  
 ...and the Frog Hopper
We also rode the Den of lost thieves. It was beyond stinky, and overall pretty lame. Half of the targets that you were supposed to shoot at didn't seem to work and the smell was just horrific. 

 My husband attempted to take our youngest on his first Flying Bobs ride. Our daughter had been a fan of this ride for years. Sadly after I took this photo the ride was shut down. They turned it on and you could hear a grinding sound coming from the motor and they emptied the ride. What a bum deal. This boy cried so many times during this visit over rides that were not operational. That's hard for a six year old to comprehend.
Luckily the Galaxi coaster was running so daddy took him on the big kid coaster. He loved that!
 We rode the Tilt-a-Whirl which nearly made feel so sick. Dear old mom just couldn't stomach the whirl! The kids enjoyed that. 
 They also liked the Scrambler and the Paratrooper. 

The kids rode the Music Express while this guy took a time out to rest. This area of the park seems to be a recent addition. I hope they plan to add some real seating. These rocks did not feel as comfortable to my seat as they were for this guy! 

We rode the train back to Adventure Point. The views during the train ride left A LOT to be desired. It was like a tour of all of the behind the scenes action. I really felt like this stuff should have been in a building or at least hidden more from the rides. I do not recall ever seeing piles of things like this at  Holiday World.  

So, all in all here's my take on Indiana Beach. It's no Holiday World. It is basically like a County Fair with a lake, and some water slides. I would never pay $35 to get into the Indiana State Fair. Heck, I'm not even willing to pay the $10 they are charging for the fair this year! So...was it worth $11 a person? Absolutely!

Had I paid full ticket price I would have been very very VERY disappointed.

The Pro's at Indiana Beach are free parking, shorter lines, and reasonable food options.

The Con's are many. The park is pretty run down. I hear that it is under a newer ownership so to be fair...they may be working on it. Everything needed repainted. EVERYTHING! The wood decking on every ride could stand to be power washed. The landscaping was pitiful and looked like it hadn't been mulched in years. The shower house is in dire need of improvement. The broken down rides, if they were broken down, should be fixed. It wasn't clear if they were broken down. Some patrons just thought that they didn't have enough staff members to run them. The Blue Bunny Ice cream stand appeared to be abandoned. No sign of it being open for business on this day. In fact, many of the retail store fronts along the boardwalk were vacant or not open. Perhaps this is another sign that the business is failing.

The impression I got from the park is this. Indiana Beach doesn't care about their visitors. They care about making money. Why do I feel this way? The lack of operational water fountains to keep people, who cannot afford six Dasani waters at $ 2.50/bottle, properly hydrated. Not allowing guests to bring in their own water bottles. Not providing sunscreen, and not selling sunscreen. (I would honestly not expect them to provide sunscreen, although Holiday World does provide it in unlimited quantity, but at least sell it for parents who forget it) and lastly because the park looks like it is lacking so severely in basic maintenance I am sure there are some not-so-safe areas within this park.

Would I go again? If they offered tickets as cheap as the one's that we purchased, perhaps. Would I go again with full price or slightly discounted tickets? Not a chance.

We had a good day as a family, and we did have fun at Indiana Beach but when I rate the value on the quality of fun we had we could have had more fun at Holiday World for a comparable full priced ticket or we could have had about as much fun for much less back home without the four hour drive time.

I'm glad that we went so the kids can say they did something new in Indiana this summer. I'm sad that such an iconic park has gone so downhill, and also that I wasn't able to prove my friends wrong about how poor the facility was, overall. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Your Highest Heights

A good friend of mine once asked me if I felt that someone in my life helped me achieve my highest heights". The phrase/question stuck in the back of my mind for nearly a decade. As of late it's found it's way to the forefront and I've put some major focus on reducing the things in my life that don't help me be the best me that I can be. 

I strive to help others achieve their highest heights too. In fact, I think that I may be better at helping others than I am at supporting myself. With that said I have had an increase in friends whom have needed extra love, support, and positive energy lately.

I have a friend facing an unwanted divorce, and another who's only sibling was in an accident and has been hospitalized and has undergone surgery. Friends suffering with illness, and broken hearts. I've had a friend catch her husband having an affair, and the depressing list goes on and on.

One thing that I am really struggling with today is this. I have some friendships that are teetering on dissolution over really minor things in the big game called life. There. I said it. I have friends who are not happy with me right now because I choose to continue to befriend others that they do not like. 

I could say that we are not in high school anymore but that doesn't seem to hit home with those who behave, at times, like a child.

When I call someone my friend it's because I feel that they know me well enough on a personal level to have earned the title of friend. Once you are my friend I will go to the ends of the earth and back to support you in living your best life, in whatever way that may be. I try. I'm not perfect but I always try to help when I can do so without taking too much away from my family. 

Lately I have some friends who seem to be confused about how my actions could be helping them achieve their highest heights. I have some friends who feel like I should be taking sides. I absolutely refuse to do that. I've said it before...if you ask me to or expect me to take sides you have already made the decision for me. 

When I do not agree with your actions I will do my best to respect your right to do what is best for you. Do not expect me to always agree with you, or light a torch and jump in line behind your bandwagon. Expect me to be a good enough friend to be honest with you. If you don't want to hear my honest opinion about your actions I suggest and request that you do not ask me.

My "job" as your friend is to support you. It is not to engage in petty cat fights with you. It is not to condone your behaving like a child. It is not to condemn someone else for being a bitch to you. It is not to fill your ears with lies. If I lie to you then I am doing you a great disservice, and you will experience NO growth from that. 

So, if you expect me to jump on anyone's "team" simply because I am their friend then you don't really know me that well. I'm not in a clique. I don't have a crew. If you ask me I think that I'm the most uncool mother up in this place. I have too much life to live to be sucked into every messy situation that comes up.

I'm not a leader. I'm not a follower. I'm just a girl who is trying to live her life with love and light while I lift those around me up whenever I can. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tackle Box 1st Aid Kit

When I met my husband he had this tackle box in his apartment bathroom. I thought it was a pretty clever way to organize his 1st aid things. I'm pretty sure his mommy made it for him. It reminds me of the Caboodle make-up cases we had back in the 80's. 

Being the organizational nut that I am as well as a mother whom also enjoyed fishing I was kind of surprised that I had not thought of this one myself!

The compartments for the lure's is the perfect size for band aids. The bottom section is deep enough for tape, and ointments, and the open top shelf is just a random mix of salve, finger cots, and larger band aids. 

It's just one of those small little things in our home that makes life easier. Everyone knows where the band-aids are. They are easy to access, and it is easy to see when they need replenished. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Boundaries, and Taking Back The Master Bath!

I think that the struggle to define boundaries is one of those universal parenting challenges. Not only do we struggle with where to draw a line with our children, society has it's own set of opinions on where those lines should be.

One of the lines that I feel I let be stretched too far is the use of our Master Bath. When the kids were little they had a hard time getting in and out of the tub in the main bath. The Master had a stand up shower and it was just...easier. They also preferred the shower head in the Master bath. I was okay with this because frankly...I didn't care to share a bathroom with my husband. Boys are gross! I gladly took over the main bath with the generous storage and more square footage.

I was reading The Love Dare and somewhere along the way I realized that we should probably be sharing spaces whenever possible and that we should probably have more privacy now that the kids are older. So...I told the kids they had to start using the main bath and that they could only use the Master toilet if the main bath was occupied.

They, for the most part, have cooperated.

Since that battle was over I started seeing other boundaries that at ages 5 to 15, should not longer need to be crossed. I can't use the restroom much less shower without someone coming to talk to me, and more often than not barging in on a closed door when I am otherwise indisposed.

Today I was enjoying a late morning shower. I was deep into massaging my scalp and 50 lbs of hair when our youngest son, age 6, comes to the door. He starts speaking to me through the door. I cannot understand him between the closed door and the shower running. know what ensued. Five minutes of

"What honey?"

"Bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah" (sounding like Charlie Brown's teacher from Peanuts.)

"Honey, I can't hear you."

"Bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah"

"I cannot hear you son. You are going to have to speak louder."

"UGH!!! Bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah"

"Oh for crying out loud! Just open the door and come in here so I can hear you!"

"Do you know my password for Club Penguin?"

"...are you freakin' kidding me right now? I don't know. I will have to call daddy when I get out of the shower to ask him. Now please get out of the bathroom!"

As I was drying off I hear my son say "Mom. Your coffee cup is upside down on your bed." and as I ran into my bedroom I see that my travel mug of coffee was indeed upside down on my bed. As I grabbed it the coffee poured out.

Thank God I literally bought a waterproof mattress cover just 2 days ago because I have no idea how you clean this new memory foam mattress that we just bought. I ripped the towel off of my body to blot the spot. I'm not taking any waterproof chances if I don't have to! As I ripped the sheet and mattress cover off of the bed I was naked and reprimanding my youngest because clearly he had been bouncing on MY bed while I finished my shower and knocked my coffee off of my Cozy laptop tray in the process.

I'll admit it was a rookie mistake to leave that coffee in the tray on my bed. How naive of me to assume that a rambunctious little boy wouldn't dive bomb my bed while I was showering.

So. After today's shower I gathered up all of the childrens and we had a talk. I reminded them that being a mom is a tough job. They agreed. I told them that on some days the shower I take is the only time I have alone, and explained that I need that time to relax, process the days events, and just be as alone as I can be for the moment. They seemed to understand.

We also revisited the "If it is a closed door, you knock and wait for permission to enter" conversation. Since my youngest just got a full on nude shot of mom frantically stripping the bed, and I had the realization that all of them had barged in on my nudity recently I felt that the reminder must be needed. Again!

I told them that from now on no one is to interrupt mom when she is showering unless it is about a phone call, someone at the door, or someone is hurt...and we aren't talking about scratches and minor bumbs that can wait 10 minutes. They all agreed that this was a reasonable request.

Sometimes you just have to stop and take a look at the things that are no longer working in your life. 4 years ago this was a non issue. It was what worked for our family. Today it is no longer working. I'm glad that we were able to discuss it and hopefully mom can have some peaceful showers in the near future that don't involve video game passwords, and tattling. Ha!

It's funny how we let ourselves come undone about these things, as mothers, and don't immediately recognize that it doesn't have to be this way. advice to new parents is to remember that it's okay to change the rules in this game. You have to do what works for your family and if mamma's not happy, ain't nobody happy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chili Cheese Tater Tot Casserole

There is nothing healthy about this meal. In fact it is everything that is wrong with our diet in America. I'm almost embarrassed to be sharing this recipe. It's processed, it's not fresh, it's not local, and it's probably not half real food.

I'm a mom of 4
I work outside of the home.
Sometimes life is what it is.

Chili Cheese Tater Tot Casserole

1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, pork, chicken...whatever you like!) cooked & drained
1 can Chili ready beans
1 can Chili ready tomatoes
1lb bags tater tots
1 can Fiesta Nacho cheese soup (Or use cheddar for less heat!)
1 can cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
1 cups milk

Directions: Brown meat, and place in large casserole dish. Cover with frozen tater tots. Mix milk, both soups, beans, and tomatoes.. Pour over top of the entire pan.

Bake at 350 for 1 Hour. I only cook mine for 45 minutes because my boys don't grasp the concept of hot. They are sure that they will die before their food cools off.

*Makes  a 9”X13” pans (about 8 servings)

I usually mix the soup and milk first to get that incorporated before I add the beans and tomatoes.

Sometimes we top it with shredded cheddar cheese, diced white onion, and slices of Jalapeno too.


Monday, June 25, 2012

The things you learn at the gym

I was at Zumba class tonight and had a ton of things on my mind. I'd been really torn about some friendships that I had been holding onto as well as some groups that I just felt that I no longer belonged to. I thought that maybe I could just take a step back and avoid participating in the group and see how it went. I knew that this would be too much of a challenge for me.

Here's the thing. Facebook is a wonderful tool when it is used responsibly. If you let it become your whole world you will no doubt find yourself wondering where hours of your day went.

We're buying a new house which will need to be remodeled once we close. We will be moving again. School is starting in 4 weeks. Cross Country season is already underway. Busy, busy, busy, busy.

With 4 kids, a husband, and 2 life is pretty full. I don't have enough time in the day as it is. I figure that anything I do beyond the care of myself and my loved ones should really be worthy of my time. It is my most precious commodity, right?

So, as Zumba class ended our instructor said some words about resolutions, and how it is almost half way through 2012 and she asked had any of us obtained our goals. She then said that maybe this isn't for you.

She said if you do something over and over again you get used to it and you stop seeing results that it may be time to find something new to challenge you.

That is precisely what I need to do. I need to separate myself from some groups. I need to take back the time I normally dedicate to these groups. These groups are not helping me achieve my highest heights right now. I need to dedicate that time to something that challenges me. Like relaxing!!!

I will miss my groups, and those mommy wars from time to time but I look forward to the growth that all of that free time may afford me!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Giant Microbes!

We had our weekly visit to The Children's Museum so the kids could climb the rock wall. Aiden graduated to the intermediate wall and found it to be quite the challenge!
 We don't usually visit the gift shop but Aiden had birthday money burning a hole in his pocked and he wanted to buy a Lego Lantern so we went in to check those out.

The kids found bins of stuffed creatures that we found were actually diseases and microbes. Ummm...kind of disturbing if you ask me but to each his own. Ha!
 Mono looks cute enough but I hear it can be a real pain in the neck...
 E. Coli does not look very pleasant and I wouldn't want him swimming around in my lower intestine, for sure!

I guess these guys would be a great teaching tool but I'm not sure that I would want them in our toy box. 

I've been horrible about posting anything here's to another start. Oye!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Reasonably Dining Out

I am a dining out failure. I have zero portion control. I'm like the honey badger, man! I just takes what I wants! In all seriousness though I used to have myself trained to know what I could have BEFORE I went to a restaurant and I knew what I would drink, and I adjusted my activity levels and calorie intake that day with the expectation that I was eating out.

These days...Oh girl just doesn't care! I have got to get a system in place for dining out. I went to Qdoba with my husband for lunch. I ordered a burrito. The Angus Steak 3 cheese queso (which, by the way, makes no sense! 3 cheese cheese?) and I was looking at the nutritional menu they had so responsibly placed at the front of the store which I so irresponsibly chose to read after I had finished my burrito as big as my head. Guess what? 1,250 calories. My entire days calorie intake in one freaking burrito. Are you kidding me? It really should be illegal to sell such a portion. I think the government just might need to put out some regulations to protect stupid. Like...if my fat ass really wants 1,250 calories worth of burrito I should have to order 3. I'm just sayin'.

I should have only eaten half of it and in reality...even half of it was way more calories than I should eat for lunch. That's a dinner!

So, the next time I visit Qdoba I will have a Naked burrito with pulled pork (which is surprisingly less calories than beef or chicken), with pinto beans, 3 cheese-cheese, pico de gallo, and lettuce for just 400 calories, and a water to drink.

In my defense I had just finished Zumba 500. 2 hours of straight Zumba will make a girl think she needs to eat a whole cow!

So...I am going to work on making myself a list of restaurants I frequent in my travels, and choose one or two menu options and find out the calories and keep that list on me at all times. I may even make a copy of it for my cell phone so I really ALWAYS have it until I memorize it.

I know for breakfast at McDonalds the only thing I can really have and feel satisfied is the Egg McMuffin. At 300 calories it is a good calorie range and not too awful in fat.

A hamburger is 250 calories.

A Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich is 350 calories.

A side salad is 20 calories, a Premium Caesar Salad is 90 calories, and the new tiny bags of apples are just 15 calories.

A small fry is 230 calories. Have you SEEN their "new" small fry? It's the tiniest fast food french fry portion you will ever see and yet it is still 230 calories. Ridiculous. Just say no to fries!

The snack wraps are 250-270 calories, but I really don't feel like they are as filling as a hamburger. They might be a better option as far as carbs and fat are concerned but if I dont' feel satisfied I will eat more sooner rather than later!

4 Chicken nuggets are 190 calories, 6 are 280 calories and yes, I am well aware of what they are made of. My fat ass really doesn't care, They are delicious chicken pieces parts. Unhealthy as they may be. Gross as they may be. Yum!

So, for McDonalds my best bet for Breakfast is an Egg McMuffin and a black coffee at around 300 calories. For lunch I should opt for the hamburger, side salad, apples, and an iced tea at around 285 calories for a lunch and a decent dinner could be a Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich, a side Caesar salad, apples, and an unsweet iced tea at around 455 calories. I never eat fast food 3 times a day so this would just be one of the above per day.

I know it is possible to eat fast food and stay on target. I have traveled for my job for 6 years and have managed to stay on target before while eating out. I just need to get back to setting limits and adjusting my day accordingly.

I am sure that once we close on the new house, and get settled in it will be more feasible for me to pack my snacks and I really do better at calculating my foods at the start of my day so...just 6 more weeks or so and hopefully I can see some results by Christmas! Ha!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Painting the house

We are painting the rental house to prep for listing it this summer. I am hoping to have it 100% ready when we move out so we don't have to come back for projects here and there. We have a few pieces of siding to replace, and then the scraping, and caulking, and the power washing. It's a lot of work but we will save a ton of money by doing it ourselves.

My goal is to have it done by the end of May. This was the 1st weekend and we got the front 98% completed. We still have 1 trim board to replace, and I need a 2nd coat of paint on the deck.

Here are some pics from this weekend's progress.

This is a close up of the front entry before and after

This is the front of the house near finished!

So, what do you think? I'm pretty happy with it. I may add a few things if time permits. I'd like to do the trim around the garage door in that dark brown and also the window trim or perhaps add shutters to the window to carry out the brown to each side. For now it is greatly improved!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Getting back to life as usual

With the house sold, the move completed, and a few months before we can close on the new house I finally have some time to breathe, and get the daily life tasks back in order.

Today was super productive! I was expecting an all day rainy day, but instead it stopped raining in the mid morning and stayed dry the rest of the day. It was just cool enough for a hoodie which made for great yard work weather!

The front landscaping beds are cleaned out and new perennials have been planted. The grass has been cut, and edging was completed. The sandbox got a new bag of fresh sand, and the mud pit by the road got fresh dirt in preparation for seed.

The most exciting task of the day was planting some veggies. I am not going to get to have a garden this year because of waiting to close on the house so I am trying container gardening this year. I planted 2 patio tomatoes, 2 bell peppers, and 4 jalapenos. I would love to plant some zuccini as well but am not sure if I can get a large enough container. We'll see!

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rest In Peace Elias

I was going to blog about a new book I had started this weekend. I hadn't had much time to pull my thoughts together when I heard the news. One of our Original IndyMom members had lost her son. His name was Elias. He was 3 years old...just a few weeks shy of his 4th birthday, I do believe. His momma found him in his bed, unresponsive. He died in his sleep.

I cannot imagine what Amanda is going through right now. My thoughts and prayers to her entire family. My heart goes out to Indy Moms. Hundreds of them are hurting with and for Amanda tonight. Many of them holding their babies a little bit tighter. Taking extra hugs and kisses goodnight.

As I watched my 5 y/o skip off to bed after I forced some extra hugs and kisses on him I couldn't help but feel guilty. Amanda will not get that opportunity with Elias again. Elias will not get to receive anymore hugs and kisses, "sugars" as we call them in our home, from his mamma. The very thought of that makes me cry.

I'm just such a fixer. It's in my nature to swoop in and help others. There's no amount of help that will ever fix this. Nothing that I can say or do will make this go away.

Ever since I nearly lost my Aiden 5 years ago it has been one of my biggest fears to find my child had died in his sleep. There were so many concerns about Aiden's breathing after the accident that I instantly became a master at waking from a deep sleep when his breathing patterns changed. I never thought I would be able to pack away the baby monitors ever again. I still check on the kids frequently when one is coughing or raspy in their sleep. After today's events I am sure it will be along time before I sleep sweet again.

It is totally cliche to say it but Life really is too short. I've wasted a lot of life lately with the distraction of the Internets. The loss of Elias has really resounded in my's time to make some changes in my life.

Thoughts and prayers to Amanda, her husband, children, and the rest of their family.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Inner Peace

A friend of mine shared a post from Symptoms of Inner Peace today on Facebook. Upon reading it I realized that I have been way more at peace this weekend than I can remember being for a long time. Months!

I've been working on accepting life for what it is, and people for who they are. I've come to understand that I cannot change these things. I have to just accept them and move forward. Go on.

Getting upset with someone over something that I cannot change is a waste of energy. I don't have any energy to spare right now so I've been trying to conserve, and it is working. I actually had a really great weekend. I enjoyed time out with friends, did some DIY projects with my husband, and we had a lunch date.

I'm hoping this trend continues for me. I've been praying that we get this house sold and that our family can be reunited. I am hopeful that tonight's home showing produces an offer, and that it is enough to pay for the mortgage, the Realtor and closing fees!

I leave you with the post I read on Facebook last night.

Signs & Symptoms of Inner Peace

A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears, based on past experiences
An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment
A loss of interest in judging other people
A loss of interest in judging self
A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others
A loss of interest in conflict
A loss of ability to worry
Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation
Contented feelings of connectedness with others & nature
Frequent attacks of smiling
An increasing tendency to let things
happen rather than make them happen
An increased susceptibility to love extended by others and the uncontrollable urge to extend it

Starting over. Again.

I have been blogging (more off than on) under the handle U8MyCrayons for many years now. I've tried re-branding myself. I've tried following memes. I've tried a lot of things to control my bloggy madness.

Recently I deleted my old Google account. I didn't think I needed it. I forgot that Google owns the world now and in the process I deleted my blog along with a few other accounts. Oops!

For weeks I have been trying to think of a new name to blog under. I felt like losing my old account was a blessing. A chance to start over. I've toyed around with a large spectrum of names. I've had a few suggestions along the way.

Spiritual Heathen
Heathen Mom
Indy Mom of Four
Mom In Indy
Maternal Disobedience
Which Craft
Midwest mom

The truth is...there really probably isn't a name that could even come close to describing who I am and what I do. My interest are too broad. I'm a lot of things. I DO a lot of things. I WANT to do a lot more things.

Things on my agenda are posting more of my cooking adventures, sharing about my spiritual path, helping you simplify your life with life organizational tips, and of course the occasional update about my crayon eaters.

I less than those of you who have followed my madness over the years. I promise to try harder to give you something to read more than once a quarter.'s the deal. Today is Super Bowl Sunday. The Super Bowl XLVI is in MY city today. By all rights I am supposed to give a hoot.

I don't like football that much.
I have little interest in crowds, and hoopla...unless it is the heathen kind of hoopla.
I feel like I should have been blogging something about this once-in-a-lifetime event for weeks now.
I haven't. I'll use not having a blog as an excuse.

So, here it is. MY Super Bowl Sunday post. The day that I resurrected U8MyCrayons. The day that my blog came back to life. Again.

Let it prosper and be dusted off more often than the past many years.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Writers block
Writers block
Writers block

<-insert interesting read here->

Writers block
Writers block
Writers block

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Day That It Snowed

It finally snowed here in Indiana. It's not much. Not even a full ground cover. The kids decided to go outside while the gettin' was good. You case we never get a heavier snow this season. 
 Ansel enjoys rolling in the snow. I'm sure the cold feels good on his fat back. <3
 The lake is thawed out and looks pretty lined in trees dusted with snow. 
 Ansel and Max enjoyed some rough play!
 Max is not a fan of cold puppy paws either!
 Andrew actually came outside with us for 5 minutes. 
And of course the Artist had to take advantage of the opportunity for some snow art.

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Meatless Monday: White Bean Chili & Cornbread

White Bean Chili & Cornbread

I created this recipe on a whim when I realized that none of my dinners from this weeks menu plan would work without meat. I'll update with pics after I've served it. If it's not good...I will delete it. Ha!


8 cups water (You could use veg broth for more flavor. I didn't have any)
1 4 oz. can green chili's (chopped, diced, sliced, doesn't matter)
1 cup chopped white onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 chopped green pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp chili pepper
1 cup dry Lima beans
2 cups dry Great Northern beans


Pour water into crock pot. Add all ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Test beans for tenderness to ensure cooked through.



1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1 box Jiffy Buttermilk Biscuit Mix
1 can creamed corn
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce


Combine all ingredients. Pour into bakign dish and bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.

Meatless Monday's

Last year I pitched the idea of Meatless Monday to my family. I was widely out voted 5 to 1. It kind of bummed me out that they didn't seem to appreciate the fact that I am not that big of a meat fan, much less the many benefits of cutting back on our meat consumption.

Balance.  If there is only one thing I manage to accomplish in my life in 2012 it really needs to be Balance.  

Now...I'm not really sure where I found the idea for Meatless Mondays. I'm sure I heard it somewhere. I recently came across an article about Meatless Monday and I remembered all about my failed attempt to eat less meat.

Well, this is 2012 and it is my year of transformation. I'm the head chef of this joint and I want to participate in meatless Mondays. So, I will prepare a new meatless meal every Monday, and will try to blog it out over on Cheecha's Cookin' page. If my beloved family does not like my cooking they are welcome to prepare themselves a PB&J...another meatless option.

There are many benefits for everyone in eating less meat. If you would like more information you can visit for more info!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Kids Have Goals Too

I asked my children what accomplishments they were proud of achieving in 2011.

My teen son said he was proud to have survived the first half of his freshman year in high school.
He said he hopes to try harder to get good grades in Spanish and learn better study habits in 2012.

My pre-teen daughter said she was proud to have all A's in her advanced classes and one B in Biology.
She said she has the irrational goal of beating the 1 mile school record. I think she can do it.

My 8 year old son said he was proud to have been chosen for the Math Bowl team, and Spell Bowl even though he didn't accept the invite to the Spell Bowl team.
He said he is going to prove that the world is NOT going to end on Dec. 22nd by staying awake all night and laughing when the next day comes and we're still here.

My 5 year old son said he was proud to have learned how to read in kindergarten this year.
He said he wants to learn how to tie his shoes this year.

We've been working on it. To be honest...I never really understood the whole bunny rabbit in the hole thing. It'a probably the worst subject for me to teach a child. Shoe tying 101. I'll take Physics any day over that.

Good Stuff. Here we come 2012. Watch out!

Resolutions for 2012

I have a few goals that I've set for myself in 2012. I'm hoping that creating this list will give some direction to my days as we enter 2012. I'm not real big on big commitment resolutions but I do well with new year goal setting so here are the things I am set to accomplish in 2012.

For my mind:
Reading goal: I would like to read 12 new books this year. It may not seem like a lot but I am easily distracted and have 4 busy kids so this one is really a challenge. I usually get through 4-6 a year.

Blogging: I'd like to blog 3-5 days a week even if it is just a quick blog with pictures.

For my body:
Weigh loss goal: I want to lose 40 lbs. This would bring me down to my goal weight. I want to be healthy and toned but I work best with a measurable goal that I can see as obtainable.

Running goal: I would like to run 5 days a week. I am going to commit to running 3 days a week as a start. I'm guessing if I stick to 3 a week I will eventually fall back in love with running and work through some of the pain and make it to 5 days a week. I was considering setting a goal for a set number of miles but for now I think just running is all I can ask for. Maybe later on this year I can make mini challenges for lengths and times and such.

Stop biting my nails. After 36 years this will be a huge challenge but I quit smoking in 2011 so surely I can do this in 2012, right?

For my soul:
Meditation: I want to make more efforts to meditate daily. My goal is to keep a meditation book so that I may journal the feelings that wash over me during my morning meditations.

Yoga: My goal is to start every week day off with a morning yoga routine. I think starting off each day more centered will do my spirit a great service.


Rumaki is an hors d'oeuvre that I came to know growing up as my Aunt has made it at least once a year for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. I've never used a recipe before for this but today I decided to actually measure the ingredients out so that I could share this with you. I've never been a very precise person when it comes to measurements...I'm an "ish" kind of cook's safe to say if you are a little short or have a little extra the math will all work out in the end. 


1 15-20 oz. Tub Chicken Livers (I bought a 20 oz. Tyson brand but did not use it all
1 package of bacon (cut slices in half)
1 can sliced water chestnuts (You could buy whole and slice them yourself, but why?)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 clove of garlic, minced (approx 1/2 tbsp)
1/4 tbsp ginger, ground (I used the powdered stuff but I am sure fresh is better) 
1 cup low sodium Soy sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees

 Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and ginger into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
 Cut bacon slices in half. Open and drain water chestnuts. Clean and cut Chicken livers into approx 1 inch chunks. (The rolling pin? I used it to smash the garlic clove for easy peeling.)
 Lay a piece of bacon down, lay a chunk of chicken liver and a slice of water chestnut on top. 
 Wrap it up with the bacon and use a tooth pick to secure the end of the bacon. Place the Rumaki into the bowl of Soy marinade. Roll the next piece and repeat until you use up all of the bacon. You will have left over water chestnuts and chicken livers as well. If this bothers more bacon. :)

This is only half of the batch. I cooked them in 2 batches because I have small baking sheets. 
Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper at 400 for 20-25 minutes until the bacon is thoroughly cooked and crispy. This makes approx 40 Rumaki. 

Do not marinade for more than 10 minutes...they will be VERY salty if you do!

Happy New Year!

Well, it's 2012 and i could not be more relieved. 2011 had some really great parts, but it has had it's fair share of downs, and most of them came in the last quarter!

I was recently hit by a drunk driver and this made the idea of going downtown to the bar scene less appealing, and staying home and risking dying of boredom a more attractive option.

So...we did just that.

I made some Rumaki
 Jon made some Guacamole!
 I drank some beers
Jon tried to make a chorizo queso dip. 
It wasn't bad. It wasn't good. 
You win some, you lose some. 
After the grazing hors d'oeuvre's we did the "make your own pizza" night for our dinner.
 Aiden likes pineapple, ham, and sausage.
 Dane likes everything with just a little cheese
 We used pita bread pockets for the crust this time.
 Andrew always uses a half a jar of sauce, a can of pineapple tid bits and 3 shreds of cheese. True story.
 They were pretty good!

After the eating, and the eating, and the eating, we watched Rio.
For the umpteenth time since Christmas Eve.
Cute movie. 
 After the movie we played Hedbanz. Nadine had a really hard time with "bicycle".
 Dane watched the timer closely.
 Aiden is just really cute with the questions he asks!
Andrew was in a panic. The pressure of the dropping sand was so hard on him.
He knew that his object was food, and that it had meat and bread and that it was not a sandwich or a burger. He could not figure it out for the longest!
 A family tradition passed down from my momma. You beat on pots and pans at midnight.
Our neighbors hate us.
The feelings are mutual.
Happy New Year Everybody!