Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Barn Door!!

If you happen to enjoy my mishmash of photos on Instagram (@mama_m) then you've likely already seen this news. However, for those of you that don't peruse Instagram...boy, have I got a treat for you in this blog post!

The remodel. Yes, I'm working on a "Before and After" post...I'm dragging my feet a bit because there are a few things we still need to do, but I think I'll do it anyway and hope that maybe you won't notice our missing backsplash or lack of appropriate floor transitions.

However, in the meantime, there IS something I want to show you (missing floor transition and all)...remember the barn door plans I talked about? Well, it was something I tucked away on a wish list when we realized we had worked ourselves into a custom door. But then, we need more wood work stuff done and we decided, what the heck. Let's just do it.



And it was like Christmas ALL. OVER. for me! When I came home from work the day this beauty was installed, I was like a kid in a candy store!!



Oh my friends. I love it. I love its practicality. Its functionality. And its sheer beauty. It turned out magnificently.

And I am one happy mama.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Large Family Chore Checklist...for Kiddos That Like to "Check"!

Have you heard of this thing called "Pinterest"? Oh...you have? Silly me. ;)

Anyway, the Mr. and I were trying to find a good chore checklist to help with our kids getting their chores done. We're terribly inconsistent about making them stick to their duties and there is so often a "it's not my kitchen night" battle happening, that we decided we needed something in writing.

And a little positive reinforcement.

Back to aforementioned Pinterest...I scoured Pinterest, trying to find just the right checklist...but they were all just...well, not right. Pretty, yes. Some organized by day, some by week, some by room, some by the phase the moon was in, or the correct alignment of the stars...but nothing that was quite what we were looking for.

So, I took it upon myself to create a little something that worked for our family. And this is what we came up with (for winter, anyway...summer will be different chores...like, no shoveling snow, for instance!), which seems to be working quite well for our large family:







 

I don't know about your kids, but our kids LOVE checklists. We've found that a checklist will not only help to keep our kids on track, ensuring that their assigned chores are getting done fully and completely, but it also gives them a sense of on-going accomplishment. How great is it to see the progress you're making, by being able to check items off a list?!

One of the problems I had with the "other" checklists on Pinterest is that they would say, "Kitchen" or "Bathroom" but not list out the actual chores that needed to be completed. It was important to us to list out what, exactly, we expect to be cleaned in those rooms.

And the icing on the cake? The carrot to keep them going? A weekly incentive drawing...ranging from $5 to a night free from kitchen duties to one-on-one time with mom and dad. The incentive keeps them going during the week and we've found them frequently talking about "what do you think this week's incentive will be?!". They now know that chores must be completed in a thorough and timely fashion to be included in the drawing.

The weekly chore day is more of a "suggestion" as the deadline for being included in the incentive drawing is Friday at 6pm. Chores MUST be done by then to be included.

What have you found works well to keep your kids on track with their chores?


Monday, January 5, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wow. I have been SERIOUSLY remiss in documenting the goings-on of our home on my blog! It's been over three weeks since my last post?! Why, I never...

Anyway...can y'all believe another Christmas has come and gone? I can't. It makes me sad...Christmas is my most favorite time of the year and it goes by SO STINKING FAST!! In fact, my Belle said, the day after Christmas, "Mama, Christmas is so slow to come and goes by way too fast!". Yes, my love. It does.


But, go by too fast or not, it was wonderful! I absolutely love the traditions, the big, loud, crazy Christmas celebrations, the fun and family and getting together and ALL THE CHRISTMAS EVERYTHING!



One thing I did not love...missing "midnight Mass". Somewhere along the line we missed the memo that my beloved, cherished, most looked forward to mass was changing from midnight to 10pm. I had always been SO PROUD of our church for continuing to celebrate midnight Mass...for honoring sweet Baby Jesus at the VERY START to his birthday and when I found out it had changed (at 10:10pm on Christmas Eve, mind you...), well, my heart broke a little. It actually makes me a little teary to know that this tradition is gone.

Gah. I can't think about it any more or I'll be cryin' all over my keyboard!!!

Okay! Moving on...*wipes eyes*...so, New Year's celebration. Yes, let's move on to that...we turned down to very tempting, incredibly fun offers of a night out in exchange for? A quiet night in with our brood! (Well, most of 'em, anyway...two were away...) We had a dance party (and ohmigosh...check out this link of my hubby shakin' his booty to Just Dance!!! I die.), played Qwirkle, had some plain old "simple" fun, and rang in the New Year with champagne (us) and kid booze (sparkling juice) (them). It was delightful!



And we woke up feeling like a million bucks!

Now...we cherish the remnants of another Christmas gone by, the start to another year, and the simple prayer for "health and safety" for our family (and yours!).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Friday, December 12, 2014

#DubyaDoesFL

Why yes, I did, indeed, just use a hashtag in the title of my blog post, but only because: Dubya Did FL!! (And yes, that was the Insta hashtag that I used to document our trip!)

Remember the fabulous 11th birthday tradition my parents have with their grandchildren? Well, guess who just turned 11? Yup...my sweet, big hearted, non-stop talking, thrill ride loving middle child turned the big ONE-ONE.

So, without further ado, let me bring you up to speed on the whirlwind trip that is our 11th birthday FL tradition...(oh, and I "get" to go along, but I pay my own way!)

First up...Dubya's first airplane ride.


Gosh dang is it cute to watch a first time airplane rider. At least...I think it was cute. Maybe it was cute? I dunno...I was chillin' with a little Valium coursing through my veins, so who knows, really, how "cute" his first plane ride was. :)


(Actually, I don't get that zonked from the drugs...it just leaves me a little chill...a little "meh"...a little sleepy...and a lot less panicky.)

As we're soaring higher and higher into the sky he kept remarking about the cars..."Look how little they are!!!"...and thought it was the coolest thing in the whole wide world that we ALL, each and every single passenger, got our own TV screen to look at AND could choose a movie to watch! I chose "Divergent". His choice? "Willy Wonka"...you know, 'cuz he hasn't already seen THAT movie 87 times.


Somewhere over, oh, I dunno, Nebraska maybe? I took a nice long nap and missed the middle chunk of "Divergent" (thankfully, I read the book, so no worries) and woke up as the plane began to descend. We landed, got our car and took off to the hotel...the first night we were there? Downtown Disney, baby!


Day #1 in FL: Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. He loved the Yeti ride at Animal Kingdom...I nearly lost my delicious jalapeno cheese filled pretzel after we careened backwards for far longer than my brain could handle. My dad told me I looked a little green coming off that ride. Dubya though? Coulda stayed on it all dang day! Hollywood Studios brought the Tower of Terror (yay!!!) and Rockin' Rollercoaster (fun!!) and dinner at the Prime Time 50's cafe...which Dubya thought was the best thing since sliced bread. And then? the Osbourne Christmas Lights!! Wow.




Day #2: Seaworld. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blackfish. Bad stuff. Evil company. But still TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY fascinating to me. I nearly got my hand bitten off by a dolphin (true story...I think she liked the ring on my hand...thankfully my lightening fast reflexes kicked in and I was able to spare my hand) and the second time she came around, I sacrificed myself for my boy so that he could touch the dolphin. They are such amazing creatures. Ride highlights? Manta. A strap-you-in-so-tight you can't move ride that hurtles you, head first, through the park at the speed of sound. Or light. Or something. It was a thrill!! (And, I didn't get green afterward!!)



Day #3: HIGHLIGHT DAY!!! Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I could've stayed at these two parks ALL day and JUST done the Harry Potter stuff. It was absolutely amazing...Diagon Alley? I was awestruck!! I think I rattled my brain loose on one of the rollercoasters at Universal...but, to make up for it? Mannheim Steamroller was there for a concert!! I mean. I can't even. :) Dubya's fave ride of the day? The Hulk rollercoaster.





Day #4: Final day...Epcot and Magic Kingdom. And the weather was AWFUL. Cold, constant drizzle, cool wind. Gross. We spent a lot of time in the "countries" of Epcot (mostly because they had a lot of shops and we could be sheltered from the yuck outside). We headed over to Magic Kingdom where I had one goal: Dole Whip (and it did not disappoint!!). I think at this point in the trip, we were all exhausted. And cold. And damp. But, at the end of the night, they had a projection show on the castle that was absolutely jaw dropping. And fascinating...I mean, HOW do they do that??? It looked like the castle was on fire, then Wreck-it-Ralph wrecked it, then it was striped like a candy cane, then all different colors, all interspersed with a variety of Disney characters??? I was in awe. The rest of my party? Not so much...I mean, they thought it was cool and all, but I was riveted by it!




Day #5: Fly home day. And boy was I ready. I missed my husband. I missed my other babies. I missed my bed. So, we repeated the valium/nap/movie scenario and we were home before supper!


Now, we're nursing a multi-day Disney hangover. I'm still pooped. All I want is a day in my jammies at home and it doesn't look like its coming anytime soon.

Next up: Finish getting ready for Christmas!!

Eeeeek.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Baby, It's COLD Outside!

Actually, I digress, it's a bit warmer today. But anyway, back to regular scheduled programming...

Lemme tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, a young couple (that'd be me and Mr. Wonderful) and their little family (that'd be Pal, Belle, and Dubya) bought a house from a couple that had previously had a wood stove in aforementioned house and, hence, were eligible for "dual fuel", or "off peak" heat.

Quick factoid regarding "dual fuel" heat: you get a significant savings on your electric heat if you have a back up heat source and allow the electric company to turn off your heat (only for a couple of hours) during peak usage times. Another factoid: electric heat is SPENDY, so the inconvenience of the electric company shutting off your heat, temporarily, is well worth it.

Back to the story:

So, we also have fireplaces...more for looks, but they'd prob do in a pinch if we were in dire straights...so, we still qualify for the dual fuel thingamajig.

Anyway...so, we've made do. Noticed some chilly times here and there turning out 10 years here, but nothing we couldn't handle. AND THEN...we remodeled. And we knocked out walls and lost a baseboard heater. No big deal, right?


WRONG.

Oh, so wrong.

Our current baseboard status is sorely lacking...and the last "off peak" day just about offed me. 

I noticed a chill to the air the other evening...it was FRIGID outside, so figured we just had to wait it out. And then it got colder. And colder. And OHMYGOSHI'MGOINGTODIE colder. I had on leggings. Sweatpants. A cami. A Sweatshirt. Socks. Slippers. And my big fuzzy, fleece robe. AND IT WASN'T CUTTING IT PEOPLE.

We said bedtime prayers (mine included a "Please, Lord, Baby Jesus, please let me survive") and I sat down on the recliner. Then, my oldest daughter looked at me, giggled and said, "MOM! Your nose is RED!!"...I was so cold it looked like I had been out in the elements!

It was then (when I determined I was getting frost bite, dying from hypothermia, and slowly losing feeling of my appendages) that I threw in the towel. I changed into flannel jammies, kept my socks and robe on, snuggled up with my fleece footie jammied baby, had my hubby heat up our fave hot pack and hoped for the best.

Turned out, I over dressed...slightly...because, OF COURSE our heat kicked in and I woke up in the middle of the night SO FREAKING HOT!!!!

The outside temps have risen and so, we haven't yet experienced another cold snap/peak usage night but guys? If I got that cold when when the mercury hovered at 0 outside, what the heck is gonna happen when it plummets to -30 in January??????

Help.

Please send warmth...and a baseboard heater or five.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Why "Title 1" Isn't a Four Letter Word.

Last year, at about this time, during conferences, our Baby Girl's teacher told us that according to her standardized test results she was "borderline qualifying" for Title 1 service.

Those words made me catch my breath. "WHAT??? MY daughter? Qualifying for Title 1? Couldn't be." And so, Mr. Wonderful and I talked it over, I talked with a few of my teacher friends, I scratched my head in confusion...she seemed to be at (if not further) the same "place" as our other children. The difference? Her personality. Shy (especially with strangers), where they were more outgoing. Stubborn, where they were "go with the flow". 



We all agreed...we'd wait it out. Let her get more accustomed to school, tests, etc. Let her get more confidence. And so, we rode it out until winter when we were informed, via letter, "According to your child's test results, she qualifies for Title 1 services which will start...". And just like that, my world was crushed.

I was CERTAIN it was something I had done wrong. SOMEHOW, I had failed my youngest born. I had let her down. And yet...I was STILL confused. She STILL seemed to be just as knowledgeable as our other kids...and when we sat down at home and went over the things they test in school, she KNEW them. A LOT of them. A LOT more than what she scored on those dang tests (yet another reason to kick standardized testing to the curb...but that's a whole 'nother post).

So, the Mr. and I talked again. He was still resistant to the idea of Title 1...I, on the other hand, was a bit more open to the idea. I knew she knew more than what those dang test results showed but...BUT I saw Title 1 in a different light. Perhaps, the closer attention with a different teacher would help build her confidence. Would help her realize she KNEW those answers, she just needed to be able to say them out loud.

I quickly saw her blossom...she adored her Title 1 teacher and the time she and a handful of her classmates had with Mrs. H. To be honest...I kind of think she thought it was pretty cool...getting to spend that extra time with someone else, that not everyone got to!

Kindergarten ended, summer started and flew by and before we knew it, it was time for her to start 1st grade.

Wanna know what's interesting? Her test scores are at, or above, where they want them to be! There's been no mention of Title 1 and the girl is reading like crazy! (Which, let me digress, is absolutely adorable...is there anything more precious than a new reader, walking into a store/building/office and reading ALL THE WORDS?! I mean. Her world just exploded with words! Anyway...)

In hindsight...Title 1 was not the "stigma", not the "four letter word", not all the bad stuff I thought it was. And no, she was not automatically "labeled" as Title 1 when she entered 1st grade, as I had worried she would be. 
Turns out, Title 1 was a pretty beneficial thing for our Babe.

And I had nothing to fear, afterall.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Christmas Kick-off!!

As we speak, my mom, SIL and myself are power shopping our way through the Mall of America! It's our annual Christmas shopping kick-off and man alive...was I due for a little "me" time!

After single-parenting it for the last two weekends (hubby was deer hunting), I was ready to have a night that I didn't need to worry about bedtime or supper or baths or laundry! Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being a mom and very rarely "need" time away AND I have a husband that is "all in" when it comes to parenting, but sometimes? Sometimes a mama just needs a night away.

A dinner out, where she doesn't have to share even ONE bite of her salad. 

A bedtime where the ONLY person she needs to worry about brushing their teeth is HERSELF.

And that night was last night. At the Radison Blu...attached to the mall so we didn't even have to step foot outside and could haul bags to and from our room! Like a little slice of heaven, right here on earth. And BONUS: a Caribou coffee RIGHT at the mall entrance to our hotel!

The mall is decorated for Christmas (SANTA IS EVEN HERE!!!!) and this annual trip really kicks my Christmas spirit into high gear!

So...happy Monday to you! I'm off to find some "perfect" Christmas gifts!

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