Friday, August 30, 2013

Week In Review: August 26 - August 29

It's been a short week with the kiddos but lots of fun packed into the four days! The weather has been soooo hot, like can't take the kids outside kind of hot. It's been an indoor fun kind of week. The kids enjoyed the typical painting and coloring pictures, wooden shapes, cut out shapes,  and doing stickers. They also enjoyed sensory bins, the Education Bin, making houses with the Magformers, playing vacation road trip (Harrison had them going to Kansas City and the beach this week), and having races with the Wheelies. Here's a look at our week:

The Education Bin is filled with all educational activites. It has small-ish pieces in a lot of the activities so if you have kids around younger than 3 years old, I recommend watching closely and help them with the activities. The kids have a great time getting everything out. The magnetic dress up people are a favorite!

The kids painted egg cartons, which will be turned into caterpillars when they dry. We've done this project a couple of times, but the kids really love their finished caterpillars! 

Max has had a great time with his first almost full week of school and is loving his new school and friends. I am so happy he can't wait to get out the door in the mornings, although the quick "bye mom!" as he's halfway out the door, as if I'm an afterthought, stings a bit. We had Harrison's meet the teacher night. He's pretty pumped to be in 3 year old preschool this year and has something of his own to come home and brag about. Elizabeth has been talking a ton, even trying to speak in sentences. She's hardly clear as she mumbles, but I've found the best response is "uh-huh, yea Bup!" Then if she gets irritated (usually by throwing world's greatest tantrum), I know that was NOT the correct response. Fall has always been a season of change, but I've never had it apply so directly to life than at this time.

 Harrison can't wait to play on his new playground! "It's mine!" he says.

The next few weeks will be transition weeks for the kids. Another semi-new kid starts next week (I've had this child for a short time in the spring and we're really looking forward to having him back!), several of the kids start preschool, and a lot of the kids are still adjusting to not having Max here during the days. So far all of the kids seem to be doing well with all of the changes and I'm sure within a couple of weeks this will all be the norm for them.

But before we start thinking ahead to next week, we've got a very fun four day weekend planned! Happy Labor Day weekend!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kool Aid Colored Rice Sensory Bin

We love sensory bins here! They are a crucial part of me keeping my sanity intact during the winter, rainy days, and hot, hot summer days. This week, with temps above 100, I haven't been able to take the kids outside and still need to keep them busy. Enter the Kool Aid colored rice sensory bin. I colored this rice several months ago and it still smells amazingly fruity, has good color (I was told the colors would wear off), and provides entertainment for the kiddies.

It's very simple to make: Let uncooked white rice sit in water with Kool Aid mixed in for about a half hour. Then sit in the sunlight until completely dry. The kids love sifting through the rice, scooping, and digging. I bury toys for them to dig out or do a letter dig with foam letters. The rice can get messy so I recommend doing this on easy to clean floors and keep an eye on the kids, because this smells so good, you may just have kiddies attempting to do a taste test!

3 Year Old Preschool-Here We Come!!!

Watch out world, Harrison James is starting three year old preschool next week!! He is so excited to go and have something that's just for him. We are trying out a different school this year and after our Meet the Teacher Night, I'm very pleased with our choice. The teachers seem great and I really like how they run their classroom (not much different than how I run my daycare, but different enough that it will provide some great learning resources).

At first I was uncertain if we should send him to preschool at all. Max never went to three year old preschool, does great in all areas, and is right on track educationally. However, Harrison lacks independence (something Max does NOT need help with). He has always been my clingy child. The child that when we show up at a park, he sits next to me for a half hour before he gets the courage to go down a slide. The child that would still rather be a baby than a big boy. After a particularly frustrating day with him last winter, I made the decision that he was going to three year old preschool. Not so much for the learning aspect, but for the socialization and to learn how and to want to do things himself. Just the build up to the start of preschool has brought out many of these qualities. We are so excited for his first school year!

Some encouraging words from mom. Harrison was rather overwhelmed by all of the kids at Meet the Teacher night.

The Big 3-0

Six months from today I will be turning 30. I really have no real feelings about the big 3-0. I'm not freaking out about it, just thinking harder than I probably should. When I was fifteen and thought of thirty, I never pictured my life as it is. I had in mind a big city and money. I could have cared less about being married, staying in touch with friends, having kids, or staying in Des Moines. Fifteen year old me was, well, a stuck up private schooled bitch. I thought thirty was old. Thirty seems to be the new twenty, in my mind at least. I'm sure I'll be saying this at forty as well. To me, turning thirty seems to be a time of reflection of life. Have I accomplished everything I wanted? Am I happy? I don't believe in thinking about if I had done things differently because I believe every little action leads to something greater. I have no way of knowing what life could have brought if I had done one simple thing differently, but I know some people do think about this.

Well, I can say this: going by my fifteen year old self's standards, I have accomplished nothing and would be absolutely miserable. By my standards today: I have accomplished everything I've wanted and needed too (thus far at least) and am extremely happy. Not every step of the way was happy go lucky for me. College years were a bitch and a half for me and I had many different jobs because I had no idea what I wanted to do (and really, once I eventually, no time soon though, stop doing daycare, I have no idea what I'll do, but that's what a turning 40 blog post will be about). But, I can safely say, all of those hard times and triumphs led me to where I am today. My minis and the daycare are my greatest joy in life. I'm pretty proud of myself for starting my own business and running it successfully. This is something I never dreamed of happening. I pictured myself being a writer somewhere in a great city like Chicago with trips to tropical islands and Europe numerous times a year. Instead, I'm nixing a trip to Las Vegas for my 30th birthday so we can take the kids to Minneapolis for spring break. I will more than likely never have money. I feel blessed to have enough to cover our needs, many of our simple wants, and quite a few "extras" but we'll never money to throw around. Fifteen year old me would be thinking "oh how sad and pathetic." Today, I'm happy with what I have because I know it's a lot more than what some people have.

If I have learned anything in my almost thirty years, it's that it's the simple things that count. I fully and truly realize this statement now at twenty nine and a half years old. Some people will be carrying around the latest Coach purse on their way to Mexico while I'm on my way to the nearby park with my kids....and I guarantee I will make this experience just as magical as a beach in Mexico (just not as relaxing). Why? Because it's the simple day to day stuff that makes us who we are. It's donuts on a Sunday morning, letting my kids eat McDonald's for the second time in a week because I've run out of time to cook a decent dinner, the clean laundry sitting in baskets because I chose to run around the backyard with my minis (or I just didn't have time to do, which happens a lot too), cleaning up poop off of the floor because a certain three year old missed the potty chair, taking evening walks, telling my kids not to jump on the bed yet not enforcing it because look how much fun they're having, reading books until my voice is hoarse, cuddles, middle of the night snuggles, school assignments, play dates, and running through the backyard that means the most and will be remembered the most.

What will I do in the next six months until I'm thirty? Nothing I'm not already doing. I vow to spend my time seeing the world through my children's eyes. I will complete our Fall Fun To Do List with them, I will make each day magical so that one day when they have kids they'll know how to be there for them and show them their love, I will teach my children about the world and give them experiences so they won't grow up to be small minded, and most of all, I will give them hugs and kisses and tell them I love them. Because they are the greatest thing I have done with my thirty years. Every step of the way has led to this day, this moment in time, in which I find myself a writer (we'll consider this blog makes me a writer), a mother, a business owner, where I find myself rich beyond belief (just not in the money sense). So, I'd say I've done just about everything I needed to do in my thirty years.....and I've still got six months to make it even better.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

First Weekend of the School Year

The first weekend of the school year has come and gone. Our biggest goal for the weekend was to get out to Big Creek Park so we could cross it off our Summer of Fun To Do List. It just so happens to be one of the first things on the list and the last to be crossed off. We are proud to say we accomplished our goal this weekend. We have had such an amazing summer that it's rather hard to say goodbye, but I'm more than thrilled to start in our Fall Fun To Do List.
We started our Saturday morning with breakfast at Hy-Vee, fruit and veggies shopping, and then off to Big Creek. We drove over the mile long bridge over Saylorville Lake, which prompted Max to inform us we need to take a boat ride. While we did not do that this summer it's waiting on our list for next summer.

We had made no plans to get in the water. Obviously, the boys had different ideas.

Sunday morning, we had coffee and donuts with Grandma and Grandpa Sheaffer:

Sunday evening, we enjoyed homemade chicken tacos with Grandma and Grandpa Harmeyer and Aunt Jenny:

Of course it was sprinkler time after our visit to Grandma and Grandpa's:
"Look, it's getting my butt!" says Harrison.

Tomorrow we're back into the new groove of things: Max has a full week of school, Harrison's meet the teacher and school activities, allergy testing for Mr. Max, Matt's 32nd Birthday, a water day for the kids, painting, coloring, planning the kids fall projects, and a bit of birthday shopping. Once again I find myself on this Sunday evening, taking a deep breath and asking myself: "are you ready for this?" Admittedly, I answer myself with an "always!" Lets see what fun we can get ourselves into this week!

Fall Fun To Do List

This was the first summer we've done a Summer of Fun To Do List and it was a huge hit with our family! We had an absolute blast this summer taking mini road trips, visiting zoos, hiking, farmer's markets, swimming, and more. The kids and I have decided to make a Fun To Do List for every season. Our list includes simple, fun, some free (and some pricey) family activities. Since we've worked hard on our Fall Fun To Do List, I would like to share it with you to give you some ideas

  • Pumpkin Express
  • Center Grove Orchard and Pumpkin Patch
  • Happy Apple Orchard: we are looking forward to some serious apple picking
  • Ledges: we've spent a good part of our summer hiking numerous trails at Jester Park and I'm pretty sure our kids are ready to do a trail at Ledges State Park.
  •  Hiking at Jester Park: the last time we were there, we discovered a new trail. Once the weather cools down a bit, we're looking forward to spending a day exploring!
  • Hickory Park/Pizza Ranch: after our hike at Ledges, I was thinking of heading to Hickory Park. Others in this household want Pizza Ranch. To make everyone happy, they're both on the list. Stay tuned to see who wins this round of "where should we eat?"
  •  Crockpot applesauce
  •  Carving pumpkins
  •  Baking pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins
  •  Trick or Treating
  •  Beaverdale Fall Fest
  •  The Grotto
  •  Make pumpkin cookies
  •  Go on a colorful leaf hunt and make collages: the kids had a blast with this project last year! I may do it with the daycare kids too since the boys loved it so much.
  •  Walking trail at Saylorville: On our way home from Big Creek, the kids pointed out that we had never been to the visitors center or Butterfly Garden, so it seems we now have plans to go.
  •  Zoo: I doubt we go to Night Eyes (the kids love it, I am completely against it and think it's a waste of money) but a trip or two to the Blank Park Zoo is inevitable the next few weeks.
  •  Honey Creek Resort
  •  Tanger Outlet: okay, so this one is mostly for me since the last time we passed through we didn't do much shopping. The Coach outlet seems to be calling my name!
  •  Fall/Winter Farmers Market: Capital Square hosts two, one in middle of November, the other in middle of December. We're trying to make it to the one in November since December is always a crazy month!
  •  Christmas shopping: so I know this isn't really a fall thing, but my goal is to be done with Christmas shopping by the time Thanksgiving rolls around so I'm not on a crazy toy hunt all of December. Then maybe the day of Thanksgiving shopping deals won't be so tempting.....
  •  Smokey Row: love this place!! Haven't been here in a while and it's very kid friendly.
  •  Make a new chili and a new soup recipe once a week.
  •  High Trestle Trail Bridge: we have yet to walk across it and I know the kids would love it! May be an excellent evening activity on a weekend.
  • Science Center: we got a Sci Center/Zoo combo pass but have yet to go to the Science Center (spending time indoors during the summer does not go well with my kids!). We have plans to make good use of our Sci Center pass the fall and winter.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Week In Review: August 19 - August 23

What a busy week with lots of changes around here! Max started kindergarten and having him gone during the days will take some getting use too. Max had a great first two days and is the tallest kid in kindergarten. Harrison is so jealous that Max got to start school before him, but having H be the big kid during the days seems to be paying off. He's been doing a much better job of using words and not whining (music to this mama's ears!) and as of today, said no more pull ups/diapers and has been wearing underwear with no accidents. This reaffirms my belief that kids potty train themselves when they're ready. You really can get through potty training with no accidents and painlessness if you wait until your child is fully ready.
With all of the changes about this week, I made sure to do some of the kid's favorite activities. Here's a taste of what the kiddos enjoyed doing throughout the week:

We started the week with a water table car wash ( 
It was pretty hot this week, so we didn't spend a ton of time outside. When we did though, the kids got to jump in the bounce house, swing, and slide. Here's Bup trying out the climber slide by herself. 
The kids have spent a lot of the week playing with slime. They've made snakes, pretended to cook with it (one child made their slime into a pepper), roll it, flatten it, make it into a ball, and let it run in between their fingers.
Kool Aid painting is always a hit.
Their masterpieces! It was a windy day so they had to be weighed down with the cement blocks while they dried.
Stamps. All of the kids love doing stampers, I  just have to carefully pay attention because it seems kids younger than four, prefer to try out stamping their hands rather than using the stampers. The ink is washable, but it definitely takes some scrubbing to fully remove!

Max's favorite lunch: tortilla pizzas (see previous post on how to make)! I had the kids color crowns (found at Michael's for $2.99 for a 6 pk) to wear during their pizza party lunch. On Thursday, the kids also colored face masks (also found at Michael's, with the paper shapes cut outs for $2.99 for a 6 pk). The kids love coloring these and playing with them. The crowns have made the kids become kings, queens, and pirates. With the masks, they really enjoy playing animals or scaring each other while they wear them.
Max's first day of kindergarten.
Saying goodbye to my baby boy and hello to our new every day normal. I am pleased to report there were no tears (from either one of us) and I held it together surprisingly well. It still saddens me to think he's moved on to kindergarten already, but he was sooo ready so I can't complain or be too sad about it!
The kids and I made M&M Oreo chocolate chip cookies for Max's first day welcome home treat. Using Betty Crocker cookie mix, I gave each child a small bowl that contained some M&M's and Oreos that they dumped into the mix. I put in the egg and butter and stirred it together. 

We also read LOTS of books this week! Next week, I'm going to do a book and a treat every morning. Monday we'll be reading "If You Give A Moose A Muffin" while the kids eat muffins. I'm really excited to try this out with the kids. I like trying new and different things with the kids so I know just what these little minds and bodies are capable of and helps me create new activities for them.

The kids spent lots of time building their own train tracks together. Sometimes it ends in fights and tears because the track didn't get built a certain way, but for two and three year olds, I was very pleased to see them working together to build it. The kids also got to have a play date with one of my friends and her two kids, jump in the bounce house, draw on the chalkboard tabletop, color with markers (we need to work on putting caps back on!), and two of the kids played "vacation." This included pretending the couch was the car and loading all of the toys onto half of the couch, pretending it was their "bags and stuff." I loved the creativity, especially when the other kids joined in!

I will close this week with a cute saying from my middle child, Harrison: He was "helping" me with this blog post and chimed in "so this is your blog, huh? What do you do? How do you talk to it?" "Talk to it?" I replied curiously. "Yea, how do you talk to it to get it to do what you want? Like put pictures on and get the words and letters on you page. Can I talk to it next?" On that note, we are off to the weekend to make some magical memories!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Making a Responsible Change

It all started with me having too much to do in the evenings. Try living off of four hours of sleep a night for months and you're ready to make a change. My feet hurt from being on them all day and had cuts on the bottoms from stepping on the little Lego pieces scattered about the boy's room. Then came a Saturday afternoon, just me and the kids. I had a TON of housework to get done. So when two little faces asked to unload the dishwasher, I said yes. I couldn't believe what I saw: my five year old and three year old knew exactly where every dish, pan, and spoon went. Sure they needed help putting stuff high in the cupboards, but it got done quicker than if it were just me doing it. As the last baking dish went in the cupboard and the boys walked out of the room, I decided to push my luck. "Please clean up the toys. Put them back in their proper places and we can have a special snack." Then they did just what I asked them too. I thought maybe it was a fluke.

When Monday morning rolled around and I had 9 kids to take care of, I decided to try a few things to make the day roll easier:

1.) Blankets/cuddle items on the couch or in bed (during naps) only. I was just done with kids dragging blankets behind them and getting upset when another child touched it. I implement this rule from the oldest (5) to the youngest (4 months). I am amazed at how quickly this changed how our day went, kid's attitudes, and how every child instantly understood what was going on.
2.) You can get as many toys as you want out, but they will all be cleaned up before lunch and naps. I also have them clean up toys in the afternoon before everyone leaves for the day and the boys clean up before bed. I was quite shocked when I realized even the one year olds knew where every toy went and every child's willingness to help and making an effort.
3.) No whining, use words. I'm shocked and pleased to inform people that when you tell a newly turned one year old (who obviously can't tell you exactly what the problem is), say to he/she: "show me" and they will in fact show you.
4.) There are very few time outs anymore. An offending child will need to sit on the sofa until he/she says sorry and is able to listen and "talk" about the problem. It's amazing when a two year old gets in trouble for hitting, is made to sit on the couch, and then we have a "talk." A talk usually goes something like this for a toddler: "hitting is not nice. It hurts. Do you want someone to hit you?" It seems to be that last line that gets all toddlers and preschoolers. Instantly, the look on their faces screams 'no I don't want anyone to hit me!!" and then it seems to sink in-what they've done, why they're on the couch not playing, away from the other children, and why they shouldn't do it.

These four changes have really made a huge difference in my day, cut down on upset children, and while these do seem like very strict rules, they have really helped the day run a lot smoother for both the kids and myself. I've always implemented a variation of these four rules, but lately, with 9 kids around during the days, I've had to be a bit more strict with them and it's paying off!

 After some discussion, my husband and I are also trying a new approach with the boys. We are giving them more responsibilities and rules. The biggest rule that we've implemented has been that our 3 kids (more so the boys than one year old Bup) are in charge of making sure the toys get picked up every day. They need to clean up after themselves in their room (and keep it clean). They need to help put their clothes away (mostly Max because if I have Harrison do it, it turns into dress up time and creates a HUGE mess!). They help take out recycling. They need to help unload the dishwasher (this is not an everyday thing. Usually only a couple of times a week). They need to have good behavior and follow the rules (no hitting, pushing, sharing, using words, etc).

To go along with our new parenting approach, we started a simple reward system for their cooperation. Instead of a weekly allowance that some parents do (we have not done this and have no plans to), we reward them with a pre-chosen toy (lately it's been Legos as they're in an obsessive Lego phase), a special dessert (a trip for ice cream), or a fun weekend activity (go somewhere or do something they've been wanting to do). However, in order to receive this reward, we have to talk about the week they've had. Good behavior/bad behavior, choices they made, what they could have done differently, what activities they liked best, what was the worst thing that happened this week, and what can be done next week (we also do this "high/low" thing every night before bed, it's a nice closure to the day and an excellent opportunity to hear my babes thoughts and talk about behaviors). I'm not going to lie, there have been weeks where they have not gotten their reward, mostly because of bad behavior and not listening. Last week, they got their reward Legos from the week before taken away because instead of cleaning them up, they threw them around their room. I was not happy. In order to get them back, they had to be extra good and do extra duties.

So far, this new system that has been successful. It has really lightened my daily To Do List! I love that this is a step in the teaching responsibilities direction and lays a good foundation of expectations. I have been flabbergasted as to how young a child understands what is expected of them and what they are capable of. While I'm happy to have some pressure lifted off of myself, I am mostly proud of the kids and how well all of them (mine and daycare kids) have listened, understood, and done with these new rules.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Meet The Teacher Night

We had our first ever grade school Meet the Teacher night. I am pleasantly surprised by the school: there's only 19 kids in his class, everything seemed very organized, his teacher was very nice and I was very happy to see how she interacted with the kids (and remembered every child she had previously). The nervousness is still there, mainly because it is NOT a peanut free school and he's the only child with a nut allergy in the whole school! Instant headache for this mama. The other thing we're not pleased with is we learned tonight, two days before school starts, that his first day of school is an early out. This has never been posted anywhere on the school's website or information sheets, it was casually mentioned by his teacher as we left, and it was just posted tonight on the schools sign.

Despite this, we're excited for a great, promising school year!

LOVED seeing this on the gym wall in the school. This has pretty much been our motto the last several weeks!

I Am Not a Cookie Cutter Person

I think too many parents focus too much on education. Yes, I think education is extremely important. But every child first needs some basic things in order to thrive educationally. I am not a cookie cutter person. My kids are not cookie cutter kids. In fact, every time we make cookie cut outs, they never turn out. Our circles are always somehow oval. Our squares somehow have way more than four sides. Yet biting into that cookie, it tastes damn good (unless I screw up the recipe, which has happened, but for the sake of this blog, it tastes damn good). As my oldest starts kindergarten on Thursday, I want him to know I don't want him to be perfect. I don't want cookie cutter kids. I can't stand reading lists stating what my children should be doing by the time they're in kindergarten. I refuse to look at a list given to me that tells me if my kid is on track or not. I'm his mother, I've spent practically every day of his life with him. I can tell you, without looking at that list, what he can and can't do. I can tell you my just turned five year old can count to 100, with help, but still skips the numbers 15 and 16. It's like they don't even exist in his mind. He's clumsy, but can hop, skip, jump, and run for miles. He may not be the fastest, but he does it. He's the most creative and imaginative kid I've ever known. He refuses to do anything he doesn't want to do. This will both hurt and help him. He knows all of his letters and their sounds. He can sounds out words. He's ready to start reading, but would rather be read to. I will never complain about this. The longer I can do my reading snuggles with him, the better, I just have to deal with him telling me I "mispronounced that word."
Parents need to stop stacking kids up to their peers. This starts in infancy when mom's get together and start focusing on milestones. "Can your four month old pick up a toy? Eating food? Oh no, well mine is," said in a slightly smug voice. Trust me, every mom (especially first timers and only one child mums) will do this. Don't lie, you still do this and will throughout their life. It's called bragging and all parents deserve some bragging rights. You are after all raising a superstar. I refuse to expect my kids to be the smartest, to know everything, because no one is truly the smartest and no one truly knows everything. I refuse to expect too much from them. I want them to know they are loved, will always be loved. I want my children to be open minded. I want them to love unconditionally. Education alone does not make kids into who they're meant to be. Education alone can not carry you through life. Parents, before you get lost in the world of "well, my child is doing this..." remember these things:

Sleep is so important. For everyone. As an adult, you know how horrible you feel after a crappy night's sleep. It's the same for children, and children need a lot more sleep than adults.
Schedules should be kept consistently.
Read to your child.
Give them kisses.
Don't tell them they are bad. Naughty is one thing, but bad, no.
Relish in their imaginations, creativity, and talents, no matter how odd they may seem. Someday you will have to share that beautiful imagination, creations, and talent with the world. Enjoy it while it's only yours.
Everyone has a weakness(es) and strong suites. Same can be said for children. Don't fault them for their weaknesses. Instead, help them strengthen their weaknesses.
Teach your children how to behave. Teach them this by showing them. I don't care if your four year old can read if they act like they're two years old.
Listen to your children, so they will know how to listen to others. I know it's hard to imagine that strong headed toddler will ever listen, but I promise, someday it will happen. When it does, they will learn more than that algebra equation parents are trying to teach their second grader.
Give your children responsibility. I wish I had started this long ago. I'm shocked to see just how much a two year old can understand. It may take constant reminders and some help on parent's part, but give them jobs to do around the house. It teaches them responsibility and they earn their keep.Toddlers and preschoolers love to feel helpful. Use it to your advantage. My kids beg to unload the dishwasher just so they can touch the knives (with two boys I really should be more concerned about this). They may need help putting the bowls up in the cupboards and things may not be put away properly, but it really does help me out. It teaches them they must help out.
Whining is a no-no. Have them use their words. Remind them of this. Discipline them when they don't. Whining will be instantly knocked out.
Discipline your children. It's not always fun, but it's needed. There is no excuse for not disciplining your children.
Let your child(ren) decide their own interests. Don't do it for them.
Don't squander their dreams. Do everything you can to make their dreams a reality.
Don't raise lazy children. Exercise, running around, and being active make life fun.
Encourage creativity and imagination. It's a HUGE part of childhood development (and is just as important to education and learning).
Children learn best from each other.
Before you interrupt your three year old for another round of flashcards, pay attention to what he/she is doing. You may just learn something from your child.
Play with your children. Even if it means playing tea party for the millionth time, or building with those teeny tiny Legos that make your fingertips hurt. Getting down to their level for some fun makes them open up and gives you fantastic insight to their minds.
Give them kisses.
Give them hugs.
Don't spoil them and give them everything they want.
Follow through. Remember every time you've threatened to leave a store because of bad behavior? Leave once and they'll remember forever. It's a pretty sure promise you'll never have to actually leave again.
Give them opportunity to think for themselves (with a little guiding of course, mommies).

Parents, if you take anything away from this, take this: do not make your children into cookie cutters. They are their own person. Instead, posses them with the power to become their own cookie cutter. A new shape. One that is unique and different. That is what makes the world go 'round. This is what makes a difference in the world. I am not a cookie cutter person and neither will my children.

p.s.-For the record: I will always brag about my child, speaking highly of their good qualities, no matter how old they get.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Car Wash for the Kids

The final few days of summer are here along with 90 degree temps. What better way to cool down and celebrate these last few days than with every kid's favorite thing: water! Monday morning, I created a "car wash" in the water table. The kids had a blast scrubbing the toy cars and splashing in the bubbly water.

Here's what you'll need:

I did our car wash in the water table, but I've also made this an indoor activity and filled medium sized Sterilite plastic bins with water (or baking pans work great too) and soap. If you're doing this outside, I recommend doing it on a warm day so the kids dry off quickly or put them in swim gear. The kids spent a nice, long time splashing in the bubbles and cleaning all of the cars with the bubbles and brushes. Any activity that gives the kids a 1+ hours of entertainment is a keeper in my book!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Snack for Moms

I've given some yummy snack ideas for the kids, but what about for us mommies??? I don't know about you, but I'm looking for something a little different than cheese and crackers. So there's this:

1 container Chobani Greek nonfat plain yogurt
1 tsp Hershey's cocoa
1 tsp Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
sweeten with Stevia
add a few chocolate chips for some extra sweetness

Chobani is packed full of live cultures and protein. I've been eating this most of the summer instead of ice cream and it is wonderful! It makes a pretty good late night snack, or midday, or dessert, or breakfast. Chobani makes a to die for pineapple yogurt as well. The flavored yogurt packs a few calories (between 160-180), but is still a very healthy snack so we mommies have enough energy to run (or carry) after the little ones.

One Last Summer Weekend

This was our last weekend before school starts and we've successfully crossed all but a few things off of our Summer of Fun To Do list. We got to see the boy's best friends and we decided to go the fair Sunday morning. We haven't been to the fair in three years so it was fun to take all of the kids, but I've decided I'm definitely not a fair person.  Here's a few weekend highlights:

Saturday morning we hit up Colby Park for a fruit and donut picnic with the boy's best friends. These two little girls also happen to have been my very first girls I had for daycare. Even though the days of "Maxie and Georgie" are behind them/us, these four friends hold a special place in my heart. After a morning of running, playing, and eating, Matt went to work and the kids and I took naps. I was VERY happy to fit in a much needed nap!
Saturday evening was perfect for some backyard fun! We drew with sidewalk chalk, played chase, hit a few golf balls, and ended the evening with a run through the sprinkler! Our little Lily girl loves to be outside and watch her brothers.
Sunday morning started off too early. There should seriously be a rule against children getting out of bed before 8 am on a Sunday. However, we made the most of our 6:30 am wake up call and made it out to the Iowa State Fair.

The 3 took turns feeding the animals. This picture happened right before H freaked, screaming "he's gonna bite my hand off!!"

The boys loved it so much that they asked to go again. After the second time, they asked for a third slide down, but we talked them into going to the barns to see the animals. Harrison was worried the sheep were going to eat him so we ended up at:
The Fountains! This was a perfect way for the kids to cool down and run around.

Second best line from today, again, goes to Max: "ya know what we haven't had in a while? Ice cream. Doesn't ice cream sound so good and creamy...look! Look there! There's some ice cream right in front of us." We awarded the kids with some whipped ice cream due to Max's subtly.

Looking through our photos from this summer, I'd say we did a pretty good job of having fun and working through our Summer of Fun To Do List! The only thing left on the list is Adventureland (we've already made the plans for next summer when Lily girl can join in too) and Big Creek Park, which I'm thinking will be next weekend's First Weekend of the School Year Adventure.