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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dream, Dream, Dream....

It's not too often I buy anything for myself. I mean really, I don't need a lot. I can over look a lot of little things. But if I could buy a dream kitchen I'd sell a kidney, ovary and pancreas to do so. As we approach our next crossroad in deciding where to finish school the idea of moving has been bouncing around quietly in the background of our conversations. We could use some garage space, a place for kids to park (a need we didn't have six years ago when we moved here). I could use a kitchen I don't have to acrobat across to get dinner in and out of the oven while some child is finishing their dishes. We really want some big space to entertain.

What to do, what to do??? There are still a few semesters to knock out before we get to our crossroads, but come Hell or high water--a degree will be had, at some point. And that my friends, will create a new opportunity and more hard questions about which "path" to take. I like the ones less traveled, but the man likes a bit of safety built into his adventures. True that opposites attract....

It doesn't cost a thing to look at houses...right? And you just may learn what you can and can't live with. House hunting as a pastime, without the emotion attached to it like "Oh our house just sold and we have nowhere to go" can really be educational.

There's always the option to remodel. My parents are old pros at this, but even my Mom has suggested we look into moving before making major renovations. My husband has loads of experience remodeling, that's how he put himself through school when we were first married. So maybe we re-do the kitchen and then PRESTO it's fine and I can cook in peace without tripping over the dishwasher to open the oven. Big decisions were not a stumbling block for me, until I had kids. Suddenly it's not one future on the line, it's seven.

So either way--moving or not--I am creating a pared down version of my dream kitchen and hoping that in some house, somewhere it will exist and have my name on it. As I've been searching I've learned that I love the floors in my house. See I didn't really appreciate that until I looked at 5 or 6 different houses that had flooring options long since in style. I've learned that painting is not scary, or hard and if that lime green pantry doesn't work for me, it's not a deal breaker. I've learned that main floor laundry would be a real plus.

In my dream kitchen there would be a place for everything, and my kids would know what those places are and act accordingly. This pantry pretty much takes my breath away. It's from Better Homes and Gardens (aka my Bible) and it's called "Pretty and Practical Pantry Solutions." Seriously the title has alliteration! Dream Pantry Pics can be found here. Once the pantry is recreated so it's actually useful, and not just a space to hoard spices and half-eaten boxes of crackers, I would have to move onto creating an island. This is a great concept--storage space, versatile, serving area, and won't break the bank. Click here for awesome islands and my favorite Dream Island is on page 14.

In the meantime, I think that adding color to any room, or rearranging decor you already have, is easy and cheap. Spray painting furniture is a new hobby of mine, and I can't believe how a $4 can of paint can reinvent a sad piece of furniture. The dollar stores are a crazy place to find inexpensive, new things to brighten up your space. My favorite thing to do is put fresh flowers in the house--and we have a florist down the street that has beautiful arrangements, and they're inexpensive too.

Long story short...I am learning again that I have partial control over a few things. It's okay to dream; those dreams have inspired solutions to many problems. Things may not work out the way I want them to, but they will work out...eventually.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Everything Easter! Or How to Focus on Holiday Time, not things

OK- so maybe not E-V-ER-Y-THI-NG Easter, but some great ideas. I hate to admit this, but I hate some holidays. Maybe all holidays---not every part, certainly not the essential meaning of them, but the commercialization of them. Isn't a love note to my child on Valentines every bit as meaningful, if not more important, than a new outfit, toy or thing???!!

I hate clutter, and maybe that is partially the inspiration behind this post. We cleaned out some children's rooms this weekend, and while I thought I was doing great at containing the "Mess Monster" apparently it has sneaked in while I wasn't paying attention. I think it travels in backpacks and comes home, then multiplies in the way of "prizes" for good behavior, and assignments that each kid "has to keep." Anyway we played clutter exterminator and then I looked down my to-do list and viola--Here comes Peter Cottontail. Easter is early this year!

The thought of more stuff makes my stomach churn. So this year almost everything they get is consumable. Play-Doh, crayons, candy (I know-sugar is bad), paint, sidewalk chalk and bubbles. This way they can play, have some fun, and throw away the evidence without feeling too badly about it. As I've been packing away these little items I also thought it would be fun to stick a couple of meaningful (at least by my standards) things in the eggs for the annual Easter egg hunt.

Here are some ideas that may provide you with some peace, time together, and a little extra spending cash--cuz they don't cost a thing.

This coupon is good for One Extra Story at bedtime.
This coupon is good for 15 extra computer/electronic device time
This coupon is good for extra help from Mom or Dad with the dishes
This coupon is good for 15 extra minutes of Outside Time
This coupon is good for one late night with friends at our house

I've created a FREE printable to take the work out of it for you.  Click HERE for the Easter Coupon printable. It includes the above ideas, plus a few others. Print them off, stick them in a plastic egg, or right in the Easter basket--and that's it!

So you can use the above ideas, or maybe they will inspire you to do your own. Either way, you don't have to buy a ton of "things" and you get extra time with your kids. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, just take a minute to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. If you can't remember, maybe it's time to make a few changes.

Along with that, maybe you could dye some eggs together (click here for directions) and then use the eggs for Potato Salad (see below) or Egg Salad Sandwich. For dessert try making pudding cups, topping them with granola or toasted coconut and a Peep Chick to add a bit of fun!

Joycee’s Spud Salad   (this is my mother-in-law's recipe, and it rocks)
10 pounds                   Red potatoes
12                                Eggs
4 cups                         Mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
To taste                     Onion salt

Wash and boil potatoes and eggs for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
Drain water. Peel potatoes and eggs and slice them into small cubes.
Add mayonnaise and Onion salt.
Garnish with fresh Parsley and Paprika for added color.

And if you celebrate Easter as part of your religion, don't forget why you are doing it. We've all been given a tremendous gift. Happy Easter! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Paddy's!

Confession: We are not Irish; We are not Catholic; but we love chasing Leprechauns! Today we had a whole day to hang out as a family and it was spectacular.

We began our day with a "Magically Delicious" breakfast. Ok, so when you are under the age of 10--it's really appealing. The rest of us hung in there. Funny thing is that it tastes just the same, but since it didn't look the same there was a bit of anti-green bias going on. I chose to forgo the lesson on acceptance and prejudice and just drink my green milk. It was seriously a great breakfast.

Really? Who could say no to this face? She's the reason for said breakfast.Doesn't she look like she's got something up her "magical" sleeve?!?

Our next big treat of the day was to watch Hugo. Again, I love this sweet and innocent. Family fun for sure. Then we just spent the rest of the day hangin' out, finishing projects, eating (of course) and playing football. 

Great Weekend! Thanks St. Patrick for giving us a reason to celebrate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

So True

March is a busy month for us! We've been married 14 years! Where did time go??? 14 years, and honestly I've learned so much in the past year, and am so grateful to be on the other side of some extreme trials. I am a lucky girl and am so glad to have the many opportunities I have had the last 14 years.

Since I am such an overachiever, we managed to have twins almost exactly 2 years after we got married. Our girls turn 12 in about a week. I don't even know what to say about that, except where did that time go? Ever since I found out we were having twins I have found a strange curiosity surrounding my pregnancy, and the conception of my twins. Like somehow my freak of nature condition allowed people to ask ridiculous questions. So over the last 12 years, as I've conducted my "science experiment" of conceiving, giving birth to and raising twins, I've received some strange inquiries.

Now I know I am not alone. I found this article last night, and let's just say this author is right on the money!

Top 15 Stupid Things People Say to Parents Of Twins

15. “I could never do it.” (Oh really. What would you do? Are you suggesting I put them on the curb with signs around their necks that say, “Free to a good home. My mom can’t do it.”?)

14. “Do they have different personalities?” (No. They are the same human being divided into two parts.)

13. Said by a stranger, “They’re identical, right?” Mom answers, “No. They’re fraternal.” Stranger response, “They are NOT!” (OK. You’re right. I have no idea what I’m talking about. These are not my children. I thought it would be fun to borrow them from a mom down at Baby Gap. It’s been more than an hour. I guess I should return them.)

12. “Are they ‘paternal’ twins?” (Yes. They have a father. There was only one virgin birth.)

11. “Just wait till they’re older. It only gets harder.” (Thank you. I woke up this morning hoping I’d receive a word of discouragement while pushing a cart of preschoolers down the cereal aisle.)

10. “When one cries, does he wake the other?” (No. Twins cannot hear each other’s cries because they all communicate with their special telepathic language only.)

9. From a perfect stranger: “Were they in the same sac?” (Hello. Nice to meet you, too. Will you be sharing your gynecological history with me as well?)

8. “Are they developmentally behind?” (Well, let’s see. They’re 3 years old and thus far, all their graduate school applications have been denied. We’ll get back with you on that.)

7. “How do you do it?” (Haven’t you seen the Nike commercials?)

6. Said by a dentist: “I was shocked that they didn’t have the same bite patterns.” (They are two different human beings, not clones.)

5. “You must be SO busy.” (Are you volunteering to clean my house?)

4. Said to a mom of fraternal twins who are different sizes, have different eye color and different face structure: “How do you tell them apart?” (I just look at them.)

3. “What do you do when they both cry at the same time?” (Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I go to Starbucks.)

2. Said to a mom of boy/girl twins: “Are they identical?” (Uh. Not exactly.)

1. Only one comment could be voted No. 1. The choice was clear. Drum roll, please. After a stranger had been informed that the toddler boys were twins, she asked a simple question: “Are they brothers?” (Enough said.)

Let’s be honest. People are fascinated with twins. They don’t mean to say stupid things. It just happens. It happens to all of us. Saying stupid things is one activity that joins us all together as human beings. Learn to forgive the frailties of others and enjoy the laughs later. Life is a journey. Enjoy the double-stroller roller coaster ride! 
Dear Author: Thank you for sharing what all of us who are parents of twins are thinking. And to those of you who haven't had the opportunity to experience the miracle of multiples, maybe this will help you think before you speak. ~Kate

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mom Jeans

This is not about how to find the literal right fit of jeans. This is a much more serious topic--how to accept yourself, and stop the ridiculous comparison game between you and other women.

Imagine your favorite pair of jeans. Maybe these are from high school or when you first fell in love. Remember how they were the perfect fit, color and style? They hid your flaws and you felt unstoppable! If you haven’t had this experience with jeans--pick some other piece of clothing that was your one "go to" piece. Imagine you’re wearing that now.

I'd like to relate your favorite jeans to being a woman. Just like your favorite jeans are the right color, style and fit, you fit being you just the way YOU are. You have curves, you have talents and abilities. You are enough the way you are, and IT DOESN'T MATTER if someone else doesn't like your "jeans." As women we often compare our worst selves to others best selves--or our perception of what others best selves are. This is an epidemic and will only destroy you and your family. I think as women have earned their empowerment and had the option to work in and out of the home, wear pants, burn their bras and let their voices be heard, somehow some of us began thinking that we had to do and have everything all at once, and all the time. Don't waste the opportunities we have been given.  Make sure you are “wearing” the right “jeans” for today.

1. You can have everything, just not all at once. Prioritize for what you need now and let that be your focus. Realize that your jean size, style and colors need to be updated--just like your priorities. Sometimes things that were really important at one point in life are replaced by new things. It's OK to say goodbye to the Girbaud jean and replace it with a cute True Religion jean.

2. QUIT CARING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK ABOUT YOU. If you like the way your jeans fit, wear them. If you know your decisions are right for you then own it. Other people's opinions are worthless. Quit caring about what your neighbor does that you don't do. If they have a skill or talent you would like to acquire, then ASK for advice. Chances are there are others who want to learn from you. Opinions are different than advice--and really you should only be asking advice from those you truly trust--not from “friends” on Facebook.

3. Take time for you--cuz we all know if "Mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" (And yes I cringed writing ain't, but you get the point).

4.  You are the only one who can stop this “comparison game” for yourself. Accept you are the way you are, and if there are legitimate reasons for improvements then have the courage to change and move on.

5. Get support. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s probably healthy.  Put down the ridiculous farce that “you can do it all, all by yourself” and realize that it takes a village to survive. Talk to other women—but don’t compare yourself to them. Don't be unrealistic and expect perfection from yourself or anyone else every day. Some days it will happen, other days it won't. And either way it's OK!

6. Involve your families in your struggles. You have to ask for help. You have to initiate your happiness; don't expect anyone else to do it for you. Ask you boyfriend/husband to take out the trash; ask your kids to do the dishes. Remember the story about teaching a man to fish? If you give him a fish he eats for a day; if you teach him to fish he eats for a lifetime. So teach your families how to fish--you don't have to do everything for everyone, and your children will become better, stronger people for learning skills from you.

I guess I have some pretty strong opinions about this subject --shocker! I just get so tired of people whining and complaining and doing nothing to better their situation.  You have the POWER to be the woman you want to be.  How are those “jeans” feeling? If it’s time to reinvest in yourself and buy a new pair of jeans—literally or figuratively—go do it! It’s the first step in realizing you can be YOU and are enough being so.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Delicious Dessert

Awhile ago I figured out a trick to delicious, sugar free, nearly guilt free Mousse. We had dessert crepes and I was running low on fillings, so I ran---OK, I had one of the kids run--to the storage room for some sugar free pudding. I then discovered that I could do the following little trick...and I want to share.

Delightful Mousse
2 packages (4 serving size) of sugar free pudding
3 cups of milk (I use skim)
1 cup of cool whip (light or fat free work just fine)

Mix it all together and chill for 10 minutes. As it sets it gets really thick and creamy!

Cheap, fast, low calorie, low sugar, low fat AND easy....who could ask for more?? You will--you'll want seconds for sure!