Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What I've been doing while the computer is turned off...

Well, I've pretty much been completely off the computer for the last 2 weeks and its been crazy! I've been so busy each day that by the time the computer goes back on, I'm too tired to use it! Thus, the post at 9:30 in the morning. My kiddos have contracted some evil coughing bug and we are stuck at home and in bed, so I thought I would take some time to catch up on blogging (luckily Kevin forgot to lock the computer this morning!) Here is a little of what I've been using my extra time for:

(Click HERE for the recipe)

Kevin and I BOTH have been cooking tons of fun and semi-healthy food for our family in our spare time. This is the Pork Salad from Cafe Rio that we made for my birthday. YUMMO!

I've spent a lot of time getting Lily used to the idea of the potty. Not potty training yet... just helping her overcome her fear of sitting over a gaping hole with a sucking whirlpool inside threatening to swallow her up to her impending doom.

I've also been able to have one on one time with the girls and teach them more about the world around them.

And when we're not doing one on one, we've been able to play together. I don't have any pictures of it (because we were playing) but last night we played pillow hop and then spent an hour riding our sleeping bag down the stairs. So much fun!

We've been able to exercise EVERY DAY too! I have now completed 9 days in a row of the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels, and several of those days the girls worked out with me. We've also been able to play outside and go on some very fun walks (thanks to a surprisingly warm Chicago November!)

(Click HERE to see where I bought the pattern)

And when the girls have been napping, Mommy's been busy making Christmas presents! We decided to have a completely homemade Christmas this year and thanks to months of addictive behavior on Pinterest, I've gathered tons of ideas that have finally been able to be put to good use. I started with these crocheted puppy dogs...

(These patterns are FREE! Click HERE to get them)

...and last night I finished these Barn Yard Hand Puppets! I still have to make the barn curtain for these, but so far they look pretty good.

Anyway, I AM tired, but I am having a blast utilizing my newly found time. How are you all doing on your internet goals? I would love to hear from you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Outdoor Adventures: Pilgrims and Indians by Erin Uda

This week we’re going back in time to experience life as a Pilgrim or an Indian. Create a teepee in your yard using an online pattern, or a sheet and some sticks/PVC pipes. Let the kids help you tie, sew, and decorate. If you’re not crafty, feel free to use a tent and some imagination.

(Click HERE for image source and the pattern to make this Teepee)
If the teepee is a bit too involved for you, try making a fort using blankets, chairs, and books or tarps and rope. You can pretend to be the Pilgrims instead of the Indians.

Or do both – first be Indians, then be Pilgrims.

Spend a few hours living outside and learning what they went through that first winter. You could make it an immersive experience, actually having them carry buckets of water around and trying to re-create their simple, impoverished lives; or you could keep it fun and light by simply reading books and telling stories together in the teepee or fort once it’s finished, and then leaving it up for them to play in for a few days.

When it gets closer to Thanksgiving, plan a children’s feast. Bring the meal outside and talk about the first thanksgiving, the pilgrims, the Indians, and how they worked together and helped each other.

And remember to dress the part! Make a feather headdress and a paper grocery sack vest or a Pilgrim hat/bonnet and buckles for your shoes.

Recommended Reading:
  • Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation, Diane Stanley
  • Alligator arrived with apples: a potluck alphabet feast, Crescent Dragonwagon
  • Friendship’s First Thanksgiving, William Accorsi
  • I know an old lady who swallowed a pie, Alison Jackson
  • Thanksgiving Day, Anne F. Rockwell

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The "G" Date

Yesterday, Kevin and I had our "G" Date. So, as soon as Kevin returned home from work, we loaded the Girls into their stroller, and headed out for some Geocaching! There were Gobs of caches near our home and it didn't take long before we were Gallivanting around with our GPS to find these random treasures. The trail lead us through Gaggles of Geese (and Goose poop), Giant corn fields, and Gnarly forests. We ended up finding 2 Groovy caches before Going to Get some ice cream and then heading home for a Good night's sleep!

Anyway, it turned out to be a Great date enjoyed by all, and one that can be enjoyed for Generations to come. If you are interested in learning more about Geocaching, go to

Friday, November 11, 2011

Outdoor Adventures: Winter Fashion Show by Erin Uda

This week I've been getting a little behind on computer stuff now that I am trying to avoid it during my "work hours". So today I had to convinced my hubby that I could practice self control if he left the computer unlocked, and that I would only use it during nap time! Well, it is now nap time and I have another fantastic post for you from my sister Erin. Enjoy!


Winter Fashion Show

It’s finally starting to get cold outside, and for those of us who can’t wait to start wearing our favorite winter gear, this activity is for you.

This week, host an outdoor winter fashion show using what’s in your closets. Pull out a few pieces of your child’s favorite winter clothing – snow suits, striped tights, boots – and walk the runway outside.

Set up an area in your yard or at the park for the kids to walk up and down and show off their new (and old) winter clothes. Pull out a few props, like a snowboard or sled, or invite your neighbors and friends to make it even more fun. An elevated catwalk (try using the park tables) lets everyone have a good view of the action.

See how many unique winter outfits you can create with what you already have. If you need some fashion inspiration, spend a few minutes with your kids looking at their favorite stores’ websites. How are the pint-sized fashion plates dressed? Or ask yourselves: Where do we like to go and what do we like to do in the winter? Then create activity-appropriate outfits. If you need a little bit of creative direction, try picking outfits for the following categories: winter sports, school day, play time, party wear, pajamas, or holiday.

Consider using an older sibling or parent as the announcer, and another as a photographer. Prepare an introduction for each child and be ready with some witty comments about each outfit while the kids are showing off. And remember the music!

Take a picture of each child’s outfits. Hang them on the inside of their closet door or put them in a book so your child can find her favorite outfit quickly when it’s time to get ready. You could also include a few pictures of hairstyles to choose from, making mornings a little bit easier.

If you’d rather show each piece individually, you could lay the clothes out on the floor to make a collage, or use a site like THIS ONE to make a personalized outfit collage using items found on your favorite store’s website.

Recommended Reading:
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes, Hans Christian Anderson
  • Ella Sarah Gets Dressed, Margaret Chodos-Irvine
  • Fancy Nancy, Jane O’Connor
  • All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go, Daniel M. Joseph
  • Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, Judi Barrett
  • The Kettles Get New Clothes, Dayle Ann Dodds

Monday, November 7, 2011

Because sometimes Mommies need discipline too...

I've joked around about it a time or two, but last week I came to the realization that I ABSOLUTELY have a real life addiction to the computer, and a real life addiction to food. Sure, a lot of moms love a chocolaty snack and a little computer time... but I seem to be incapable of controlling my need for both. Let me give you an un-exaggerated, true example:

The situation? The other day I woke up, stayed in my PJ's, gave my kiddos yogurt and grapes, plugged them into the TV, and then sat and surfed Pinterest and Facebook for 3 hours! When I finally realized how much time I had wasted and how long my kids had been watching TV, I decided to FINALLY get myself and my kids out of our PJ's and attempt making a recipe from pinterest rather than just staring at one. So we all got dressed and then made some of the most amazing cookies on the planet earth... but then what? Well, then we all ate a cookie and some lunch, Lily went down for a nap, Brooklyn went up to her room to color for quiet time, and I sat back down at the computer desk and ate 15 cookies BY MYSELF whilst wasting my time (and simultaneously storing extra calories) checking, and rechecking my email and facebook to see if anything new happened in the last 30 seconds. Its sad but true. I thought long and hard about this situation (that happens more than I'd like to admit) and decided I would put an end to it. I threw away all the yummy snacks in my cupboards and turned off the computer in hopes of having more productive and meaningful days.

The problem? I still had ingredients to make snacks when a craving hit (and I did). Also, my kids are very independent and easily entertained, so I had too much time on my hands and chose to use it playing around on the computer since I still had the power to turn the computer on. Every time I passed the darn thing I turned it on and compulsively checked my emails and my favorite blogs... and every time I passed the kitchen, something new and yummy entered my mouth, and incidentally, my already full belly.

Moral of the story? Sometimes mommies need discipline too, and sometimes they can't give it to themselves. I realized I actually needed help. I identified the root of the problem: I often feel lonely in the stay-at-home mom universe and I turn to food and the computer to fill the void. Then I asked for help! I asked my wonderful and always supportive husband to take ALL the Halloween candy to work and only bring home one piece per child each day. I made him throw away all the cookies, cake, and frosting in our fridge and on our counters. And then I had him do the unthinkable! I made him lock the computer. That's right! Last week every morning before he left to work, my husband locked our computer so I could not access it. Then when he got home he unlocked it.

Why so extreme? Well, I recognized my need for purpose and motivation when trying to overcome a problem, and I needed to see my role as a stay-at-home mom as a job that starts at 8 am and ends at 5 pm. After that, parenting is a joint effort shared between my wonderful husband and myself. But during those hours it is my responsibility to teach and care for my children. And like many work places, the employee (me) should not be allowed to waste work hours on websites like pinterest and facebook.

The result? Last week was the funnest and most tiring week I've ever had with my children! When they colored, I colored with them. When they ate, I ate with them. When they ran around outside, I ran with them. I did not merely sit and observe their activities, I became an itrigul part of them, teaching along the way. I had so much fun and so did they. On top of that, my house was clean each night when my husband came home from work, and dinner was on the stove! And our whole family slept better than ever at the end of each active and productive day!

The point? If you are struggling with an addiction yourself, ASK FOR HELP. Sometimes we just can't do everything by ourselves. And sometimes we just need a little discipline enforced by people we love, and who we know love us as well. Obviously I am still using the computer, but I am learning moderation. For the next 3 days my husband is out of town for work and he left the computer unlocked for me. After a week of going without, I am trying to catch up on blogging, but still trying to remember to use moderation and to play with my kids. I think this will be a long process but one that will really make a difference in my life and the lives of my family members. All addictions, no matter how harmless they seem, cause damage to the addicted person and those they love. But I will overcome my vices! Wish me luck!