Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Load Your Own Dishes In The Dishwasher

This summer I decided to up the expectations for my kids.

For one, it is no longer acceptable to just clear your plate after lunch, leaving it by the sink as you run off to play.  Now you must also dump the contents of the plate and load it into the dishwasher!

I taught them all the proper plate positioning for our dishwasher.  My 7 year old demonstrating the technique:

I have no idea why I didn't start this sooner!

Find more Works For Me Wednesday here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

I finished a book!

I loved to read as a kid and read a ton just like my kids now do.  But, me, now I read to my kids, and I read the Bible, but otherwise I do not set aside much time to sit down and read a book for myself, to myself.  And it doesn't help that I'm always "reading" about 8 books at one time, no joke.  There is the Bible studish book, the Christian living book, the solving world poverty issues book, the adoption-related book, the parenting book, etc., etc.  And I typically don't finish a book, I just read a bit of each of them over the course of months.

But, another lovely aspect to our week-long vacation a couple weeks ago, was that I actually read an entire book!

And it wasn't even in a book I read in during the car trip, there was another I read then.  This book I started on our first full day at the beach and finished it by day 5!  It was that good and it helped that I had the time to read while on vacation!

Here's what I read:

It is a fiction book, but based in fact, from the 1850s to 1920s there really were trains that carried orphans and homeless children from crowded Eastern cities in the U.S. to the rural Midwest in the hopes of finding homes for them.

The book was a fascinating read and right up my alley as a person with a heart for orphaned children, but this book would appeal to a wide audience.  

Reading this book cover to cover in just a few days was so enjoyable and inspired me to make reading more of a priority even in my non-vacation life!

****This post contains an affiliate link, but I truly did read this book and would strongly recommend it to my friends and family!****

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In case the chaos wasn't high enough already, we now have a bright blue dog!

Right now I'm in the uncomfortable situation of re-entry into the real world after an awesome week-long Florida vacation and simultaneously, furiously planning and preparing for our upcoming Ethiopia mission (vision) trip.  The worlds coul not be more opposite, and I do feel huge gratefulness at being able to experience both.  But, the abject poverty so many people live in, children very much like my youngest daughter who was born in Ethiopia, has a way of making you feel guilty for your excees.  But, I'll take the uncomfortableness of stradling both worlds because really I see God there in the need more abundantly than here in the excess.

On to a lighter subject,

I taught my 11 year old to make quesadillas, which happens to be the favorite lunch of all 4 of my kids.  Can you appreciate the awesomeness of this situation?

And for a really, really huge 1st world problem:

The dog went to the groomer this week.  She left our house looking like this:

and returned looking like this:

Quite the transformation, right?  It's her "summer cut" I keep saying, but really it's her my-fur-was-super-matted-and-my-human-did-not-want-to-pay-the-comb-out-fee cut.

But, here's where the 1st world problem comes in, we did not even get to enjoy our clean, crisp dog for 18 hours before she somehow managed to get a large blue spot on her backside!

No, that is not a glare or blip from the camera.  Her fur is really bright blue in a large spot on her hind leg!

What in the world?

The 6 of us humans have put our heads together and the only explaination we can come up with is that she rubbed up against our chalkboard wall that currently has a large blue drawing!

But, unlike typical chalk, it does not rub off the dog!

Really, the ridiculousness of my life never ceases to amaze me.
Half-Past Kissin' Time

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tips For An Easier Beach Vacation With kids

We just got back from a beach vacation with our kids and I have some tips that made the travel easier.  We've done this same vacation the past 3 years in a row so we've learned some things.

I laughed when I saw this funny article about a mom on a beach vacation with her family, but it can be true if you are not careful, the "vacation" can turn out to not really be a vacation for the mom (or really both parents)!  We've certainly done trips in the past with 4 kids or even when we had 3 kids where it felt like even more work than being at home and I was exhausted at the end of the trip (yes, I'm talking about you Disney!).

So, here's a quick list of tips that help the beach vacation actually BE a vacation for the parents:

  • If you are driving and leaving early in the morning (we left at 4:30am), put the kids to bed the night before in the clothes they will wear on the trip (you'll want them wearing comfortable clothes in the car anyway).  This way you just get them out of bed, have them visit the potty, and then put them straight in the car -- so easy!
  • Leave in the wee hours of the morning and the kids will be sleepy, disoriented, and most important, quiet for the first couple hours of the trip before the sun comes up!
  •  Rent a beach house with a washer and dryer.  I know, wash equals work while on vacation, but it is tons easier than packing enough clothes for your family to survive the week without doing wash and plus it's nice to return home and not have a mountain of vacation laundry to tackle!
  • Before you leave home, write up a grocery list of things to buy once you arrive at your destination.  Plan to have easy breakfasts and lunches in the beach house to save cost and hassle of eating out every meal and then splurge on dinners out. 

  • I plan for one super easy dinner in, that way if it is raining one evening or we're all too tire or sunburned and don't feel like going out to dinner, there is a meal I can make at the house.  This year I boiled pasta added a container of store-bought pesto sauce and a package of those pre-grilled chicken strips for an easy pasta dinner.
  • Eat on paper plates.
  • Every year we turn our beach vacation week into junk food week as well.  You know the sugary cereal I say "No" to the other 51 weeks of the year, I allow during the one week at the beach.  Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms -- sure, but just for this week only and nobody let me read the list of ingredients!   Also, things like Twinkies that were staples in my childhood, but my kids have no idea about, we expose them to it during beach vacation week.
  • With big families where you don't want everyone drinking after each other (I'm a freak about containing potential cold and stomach virus germs to one member of the family as much as humanly possible; you never know when someone is about to get sick and already contagious before you even know they are sick), label water bottle lids.  My system is to label "Mom", "D" for Dad, and then numbers 1 through 4 for my kids, with 1 being the oldest, 4 the youngest, etc.

  • Pack bleach wipes and have kids quickly wipe down bathrooms and empty trash every other day, this way the messes don't pile up.
  •  To make the sunscreen application process easier (and when you have 4 kids and need to reapply every 80 minutes, you want anything to make it easier!), we used these Wet Skin Sticks for the kids' faces.  It goes on quick, they don't have to be super dry so it's great for re-applying while they are swimming, and with a stick instead of a liquid you don't have to worry about it getting in their eyes!
  • It's a family vacation, but that doesn't mean you have to spend every single minute together!  Trade off childcare with your husband so you each can go on a bike ride or shopping alone for an hour or two.  And we had rest time nearly every day of our vacation where we came back to the beach house and everyone was expected to rest or read quietly in their bed for 45 minutes to an hour.  That time definitely helps bring some parental peace!
  • I pack each person's clothes in one of these packing cubes, that way I am not having to help each child find their clothes and pajamas.  They have their stuff separated in their own cube.

  • Really I think the number 1 thing that made the trip so easy this year and a real vacation for me the mom was that we'd done this vacation 2 times already.  I knew the layout of the house, knew the amenities, and how to get everywhere in the little beach town.  We knew how to rent bikes and have them delivered to our rental house.  We knew the restaurants that were good to eat at and even what to order!  Sure, there is something exciting about a new adventure, but with 4 kids there is nothing restful about a new adventure! 

**** This post contains affiliate links, but I only link to product I own myself and truly love.****

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Favorites from our Seaside Vacation

The House.  We've rented this same house for our vacations the past 3 summers.  The kids refer to it as "our beach house".  Ha!  We can dream!

 Beautiful beach with crystal clear water


Bodyboarding!  Even I figured out how to ride the waves this year.  Such fun!

We rented a kayak one day.  The boys had their turn first.  I asked my 8 year old daughter if she wanted to ride next and she said, "If nothing bad happens to them, then I'll think about it, but if something bad happens to them then I'm not riding."  Smart girl!

The boys survived so the girls and I took over the kayak.

Watching my kids bury each other in the sand is always fun!

Eating dinner at a restaurant and having this view:

Girls in white dresses:

 A pool with no rule banning inflatables like our hometown pool does:

Watching frozen in the outdoor ampitheater


Tetherball was a hit with my oldest this year

And last, but not least, walking or riding bikes everywhere for the whole week!

We drove 10 hours to get to Seaside from our home, unloaded at the beachhouse, went to the grocery store to stock up for the week, and then parked our car and did not drive again for a full week!  We were able to walk to the beach and pool and restaurants and shops.  It was such a great break from our regular lives where we are always running around in the car mulitiple times each day!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Our Favorite Family Vacation Destination

We just got back from a week in Seaside, Florida, our favorite family vacation spot!

We've rented the same beach house for 3 years in a row now and honestly this year we thought might be our last as we expected to be ready for a new destination next year, but we had THE BEST WEEK and now we all want to go back.  Who needs some place new?  Seaside is pretty near perfect!

More details on the trip to come, including some tricks I've learned about traveling with 4 kids and still being able to enjoy the trip myself.  For now, though, re-entry into the real world is tough and ALL THE THINGS that I must now get caught up on leave little time for blogging.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What the First 28 Minutes of My Day Used To Be

In case it wasn't clear already, I've been going through my blog archives a bit lately!  Here's a post that is definitely a whole lot more hilarious to me now that it is 4 years later and I never wake up to children with poop accidents anymore!  From Jan. 27, 2010:

13 Snippets from my morning:

7:00 am - (It is a non-Shred work-out day because I plan to run later in the morning with the jogging stroller.) I wake-up to the sounds of feet pounding down the stairs. I hear my 2 year old telling my husband who is already in the kitchen, "There's dirt in my bed! Somebody need get dirt out!" I instantly know it is not "dirt" in the toddler's bed, but likely poop from an overflowing diaper. Pull covers up to my chin. Do I have to get up?

7:03 am - Realize no other mom is showing up today, so I must do the job. I get up, put on running clothes and begin working on packing 6 year old's lunchbox with all his favorite things, just like the day before.

7:10 am - Husband tells me, "He didn't eat any of his lunch yesterday. I unpacked it all last night and just some of the bread was eaten, nothing else."

7:13 am - I'm feeling the joy of packing a lunch that may return to me uneaten. Instead of writing, "Have a SUPER day. Love, Mom" on the napkin for the lunchbox, I write, "EAT YOUR LUNCH! Love, Mom"

7:14 am - Pour myself some cereal and coffee and head into dining room where my 3 children and husband are already happily eating breakfast.

7:15 am - Am OVERWHELMED by the smell of poop! And amazed that everyone is eating and nobody seems at all bothered by the smell! "Does Toddler have a dirty diaper?" I ask (Toddler still wears a diaper for sleeping). "Don't you smell that?!!"

7:16 am - Husband does not, in fact, smell that, but does manage to lean over to check the diaper status of the toddler sitting next to him. "He's not wearing a diaper!"

7:17 am - The realization hits. Toddler got his bath early last night and was put in jammies without a diaper since he'd still be awake for a while. Then when we put him to bed we didn't think to put the diaper on since he usually gets the diaper with the jammies. Suddenly the "dirt" in his bed makes perfect sense to me. My husband still doesn't get it. "Yeah, I didn't know what he meant about the 'dirt'"

7:18 am - Because I have already poured the milk on my cereal and not had even one swallow of coffee, I opt to try to finish a few bites of breakfast before dealing with the situation.

7:19 am - Toddler is done eating, gets out of his chair, and comes over to me. Toddler wants to sit on my lap! Smell is overwhelming! Breakfast is over!

7:21 am - Toddler gets hosed off in the bathtub.

7:25 am - I head into Toddler's room in total fear of what I'll find.

7:28 am - Thankfully not too bad, as poop hunts go anyway (yes, having 3 children it is not my 1st experience with such things). Fairly easily cleaned up, all the while explaining to my 4 year old daughter why there was poop on the floor. Sheets and jammies in the washer on hot with the color-safe bleach. Bathtub needs a bleach treatment, too!

What can I say? It's a glamorous job!