Thursday, February 28, 2013

Horse Feed Packets

It's been my mission for about a year now to try and streamline my life - including what I purchase. While obviously not belonging to any sort of extravagant spending club, I did/do think there is room to "cut" with our spending. We're trying to save more, so we can give more. And then there is the healthy aspects - trying to "trade up" our food for the healthier choice (while still trying to maintain the integrity of taste:-)

Over the past year we've tried to cut our budget as we can, and we've made a variety of changes, all of which we're enjoying and haven't noticed any ill affects at all from the cuts.

This brings me to oatmeal. Or horse feed, as I used to call it. There are really only a few things you need to know about me, if you didn't already. I love to laugh. I am petrified of basically anything that is not a cat or a dog. Any type of bird or lizard/frog/snake top the list. And I hate oatmeal. My mom, being the frugal mother of a large brood, and also health conscious - made us eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast growing up. Well, mostly oatmeal, Red River or Cream of Wheat (which I do like) were thrown in there for the occasional treat. Saturdays we got a plain cereal like Cheerios. So basically, we ate a lot of oatmeal. In turn...I would choke down the minimum required amount (1 spoonful, and I made it a small one), and that was it. So basically other than the small portion of horse feed, I did not eat breakfast for 24 years in a row. :-)

Brooks' breakfast today. They love to add a scoop of whatever frozen fruit we have on hand (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries etc), and they stir them in.
 Trying to be a good mom, I bought oatmeal for my kids, and they love it. Good for them. So I bought them the packets (they like the fruit ones), and they love to make it. Enter Pinterest. Make your own. It is WAY cheaper than buying, so why not give it a try? I adapted the recipes I saw floating around, and added milled flax seed for extra health:-) I'm not eating it, so I have no idea how that tastes, but the kids have not issued a single complaint, so it must be fine.
We use 6 ziploc bags, and simply refill them once empty. All kept in the black & white "Oatmeal Bag"
1/2 C Quick Oats
2 T brown sugar
1 T milled flax seeds

Put in ziploc bag. To eat, pour into bowl and add 3/4C hot water. Top with fruit if desired.
Best part? The kids make the packets themselves! It's an easy recipe, and not one that requires super measuring precision to turn out, so the kids do all the re-loading of the baggies

All done! My kids will eat it plain, or they love to add a spoonful of frozen fruit right to the top.

They (mostly Kenna, Brooks tries when he gets a chance) also make it themselves too. They heat up the hot pot, and pour the water into the larger measuring cup, so there is no fear of hot water over spilling the edge. Then they pour into bowl and stir. Done!
Obviously the cost savings is pretty huge, there are no extras added by way of preservatives and the work involved is very minimal! We're sold on oatmeal!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Birds Again - Video

I would not suggest watching this video if you are easily nauseated. You will not be able to focus on a single image for the entire 3 minutes. And I really can't even tell what they're saying. Crazy people:-)


Random pics:-)
Snuggles always turn into wrestles:-)

World of Tanks. What else?

Basketball Finale

Brooks had his final day of basketball on Saturday. That night was the "grand finale" for the year. A former Harlem Globetrotter came and spoke to the kids, it was really good. After his speaking he performed a few tricks (on the video).

Also on the video...cheerleaders. Until Saturday, Kenna was completely unaware of the existence of this opportunity. And now no more. Guess who want to do cheerleading next year? I knew about it, they start cheering in Kindergarten, actually, but since Brian and I had not been involved in this league before, we didn't know what all it would entail, and we just decided not to go there this year. Seeing what they do and the organization, I am more comfortable with it now, so perhaps next year she'll have her chance:-) You should have seen her jaw drop when she saw those cute little girls come out.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Donuts & Pancakes - Recipes

Easy Peasy Donuts 
1 package grands biscuits (the normal kind)
oil (I used peanut, since I have an abundance of it)
white sugar (or whatever else you want for topping)
brown paper bag
Either cut the biscuit rounds into 4ths or 8ths for Timbits (I did 4ths), or, if you have a small circle cookie cutter, cut out the center for a real donut shape. Heat the oil, and fry them up!
Put some sugar in a bag, drop in the hot donuts, and shake.
Eat while hot. YUM. Bet you can't eat just one! They are sooooo good, and take only minutes to make. Beyond amazing.
This is what I do with any discarded oils from cooking (beef fat, bacon grease etc)...I wash out a spaghetti sauce jar or similar (pickle etc), and keep it under the sink. When it's full of gross oils, I toss it, and use another jar. Don't pour the oils in there boiling hot, you don't want the glass to shatter. Wait until cooled to pour into the grease jar.
Healthy pancake type thing, with only 2 ingredients. Naturally gluten free, and paleo etc approved!

2 bananas
4 whole eggs
(oil for pan - I used coconut)

whir them all around in food processor until smooth
Oil/grease your pan, and use about 1/4C per pancake. They are more fragile than a normal pancake, so don't make them too large, and be careful when flipping.
Top with fruit if you like, and syrup for a yummy pancake experience! The kids and I all loved these. The banana flavour is very light, and it is rather crepe like perhaps in it's feel. I bet it may taste pretty good with a bit of cocoa powder added for a chocolate version? I'll try that next time. A healthy meal overall, and one that even the kids liked and I didn't feel like it was "diet food".

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Pet Peeves"

I just have such a "thing" for quotation marks, when inappropriately "used". You know what I "mean", right? People seem to have lost the integrity of the English "language" and place quotation marks for "emphasis" alone, instead of proper usage. It drives me "crazy".

Take a looky here. "Lleyton". *IF* that's your "real name". Apparently "someone" doesn't believe it is.
Should I ever be in charge of anything at Walgreens, this is the first thing I would fix. Calling people "names" that are their own..."hilarious"

Look at this book, on "Amazon". Browse the look inside pages for a few "laughs"...or whatever you want to "call it"...

The Common Place

A little encouragement for all today. (I typed this out dictation style:-)

an excerpt from: Victory Though Abiding (disc 1) - by Michael Wells

He overcame everything that's common. Now listen to this passage, and what He said "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much, and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much". You know there are very few people that have ever overcome the world of the common place? They don't have victory over the world of the common and they've yet to discover that there's any glory at all in the common, in the simple, and in the every day tasks in which the majority of believers live.

They waste time, in my opinion, looking forward to the great Christian "someday" when they enter into productivity. When they get to have that ministry that they wanted, when all the opportunities are there and they're not doing this boring thing that they are confined to day after day. And a scary thing about wasting the moment looking for the future is that moments can eventually turn into a lifetime. And there's many people that have wasted their lifetime looking for the uncommon instead of finding Christ in the midst of the things that are common.

Now look at Jesus, and this is the amazing thing to me about Him. He allowed the common occurrences of life to make Him uncommon, and as we share in Him, the same thing happens to us. He grew up in a small village and it was a village that was despised. Can anything good come out of there? With a bunch of dull, narrow minded, shallow people. Every day getting up in the morning, walking past some orphans with his widowed mother and going out to a carpenters bench, probably the size of this table. Day after day after day. You know I don't think it would be hard not to be able to see past that. Would it?

How many times do we look at the jobs that we have and we can't see past that. It's just getting up and it's the same old, dull, mundane thing and we can't see anything at all past it. And the incredible thing to me is that Jesus possessed exactly what the world needed and had to have, and He got up every morning and walked past those kids and that widow to that little bench and began working. And He had exactly what the world needed!

He was content to live 90% of His life in the common place and 10% being uncommon. But believe me it was the 90% that made the 10% uncommon. It was as He found God in those things that He became uncommon. Victory in Christ is being a happy man in the common things of life that few ever ever share in, and do you know I believe that it's one of the most important victories that all of us in this room need to find.

That we're victorious and happy in the small and insignificant things. Jesus had one foot in the hard realities of life and He had one foot in the Kingdom and He was never torn between them. Not like us. He didn't make a separation between what was Godly work and ungodly work. And in Jesus, as He's our focus, those two worlds become one world and you won't make that distinction any longer, nor will you be torn between those two worlds. You won't separate the two...

I hope you have a blessed day in Him, and see God's glory in the common place of your everyday life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Ten - Potty Training

My Top Ten Potty Training Tips! I would not consider myself an expert by any means. What I would consider myself is practical. I've also been privy to MANY potty training experiences, as the oldest of 11 children, and now having trained/training 3 of my own (plus those I've babysat/cared for). These are just a few tips I feel are very practical and work, from experience, no matter what "route" you choose to take in the end, as there are enough "methods" out there to make your head spin. Almost all of my experience comes to you courtesy of my mother, who has potty trained a whopping 13 toddlers!

1. Talk it up - The age and readiness of each child will vary greatly. But one thing that will aid in the readiness is the discussion. I won't get all graphic on you here, as I think you get the picture. Discussion about "where we put the pee and poop" are obviously pretty key. If the child does not mentally understand the concept, its not going to happen easily. All discussion should be hyped up to a pretty obnoxious extent. Lots of excitement and !!! used, so they get the idea that this is something you LOVE (and actually, you do), and this is something that is exciting, new and FUN!

2. Use undies - not pull ups. When the child is truly ready to train, go straight to the undies. They need to feel the sensations associated with an accident. Pull ups make that scenario too similar to what they are already familiar with - diapers. I've let each of my three - in advance to beginning training, and as part of the "talk it up" phase, select a brand new package of "cool" undies. Whatever they like or choose. Kenna chose My Little Ponies, Brooks was sports stuff, and Grey chose Cars. Going along with the "talk it up" - you want to keep your Lightning McQueen (etc) dry! You don't want him to get wet!  If your house if full of carpeting, you can purchase plastic "underwear", to go over the real ones. It will allow for the full (and awful sensations) of being wet as there is no absorption, but will not allow for as much of a puddle on your floor.

3. Plan your attack  - Despite some books claims that you can train your child in one day - I have never found this to be true. It IS a process. However, I do think that it is true that you can knock out the "bulk of the work" in about 5-7 days. Choose wisely when you start, because, if you feel your child is ready, you do not want to have to take a step backwards. For example, 2 weeks before going on vacation or having a new baby is NOT the time to start. Wait until you get home or are settled in with a new schedule. I would probably suggest that you have about a month of "normal" planned for your household, when you start. A month of just the regular daily activities. When you begin to train, you can also start to legislate how much liquids are consumed from approaching dinner time onward. Even if they don't quite night train at the same time (this can take longer), it's never going to hurt to start doing that and getting them on that track.

4. Methods - This is where it helps to be YOU. There are a lot of methods you hear about. From household to household, from child to child even, there may be some differences in methodology that you can adapt. I won't go into the myriads of possibilities, but just a few of the standards - or what I believe to be standards/what I have done. There is so much that could work here, nothing is gospel. Figure it out for what works for you using other Mom's suggestions. Here are mine:  Get a small potty and a potty "ring" to go on the big toilet. Use both/have both as options. Undies on body - no pants - for ease and quickness. Because you will have to move quick at times!! It will also save you on laundry:-) and also, depending on the age of the child, they can learn to start pulling up and down their own undies. This is harder to do for kids, with pants on too, so its a great start with just one layer of clothing. Set a timer for about about every 15 minutes, recurring. Every 15 minutes they must sit on the potty, for a little while. Basically because you have to "catch them" when they pee, and because you have to figure out their little patterns. After the first or second day, you can likely scale that back to 30 mins or so. Or have it be every 30, unless you've given them a drink recently, and then make it every 15, etc. Once you've figured out the gist of their patterns you can adapt your timer accordingly. The timer makes it so that you don't forget about them!! And the "riiing" sends them running to try! I loved the little potty for this. I kept it in my living room, and easily accessible. since they will be sitting on it quite a bit - until they've learn to sit and immediately go - you are making them sit until they do go, I found it helped if they were not totally excluded from the regular goings ons. Movie can still be watched, toys can still be played etc. They can also get on and off little potty easily and without help (regardless of location). My potty has a removable (washable) "pee catcher", and a lid that closes on the top, so it's not gross to have hanging out in the living room, it kind of looks like a little plastic stool, when lid is closed. Once you have established their pattern, and they are used to going on potty, you can start to ease up on the timer, and just make them sit at predetermined times (after breakfast and before lunch), but ask them in between those times, lots. If they say no, but then have accidents, then they aren't quite there yet, and you have to up your intervals again, until they've got it. This obviously takes some Mommy time, and lots of conversation about it. While they are sitting on potty, and then they do go, you talk up that sensation of feeling it coming before it came. Once they start getting it and will tell you they have to go, they can usually only hold it for seconds. So run, because it's coming. Having the little potty handy and no pants to contend with makes it easier, and then the "hold it"/"don't let it come out" lessons start to come into play.

BONUS - Going out. Naturally life goes on. It will not be possible to stay in your home for the entire week (or month) of the process. It would also not be possible/would be very rude to have your kid leaving a puddle behind them, everywhere they go. In the initial week, try to limit their going out, but when you take them out, just explain, as you put a diaper on them, that we don't want to have any accidents, and we want to keep the diaper dry. Offer an additional reward if returning home with dry diaper, and keep your Mommy brain on while at the store, and offer them, or take them potty and give them the opportunity to go, making the dry diaper more possible. Church/sunday school. Teachers do not need to train your children. You do. Put a diaper on them so they can focus on the class, however, take your children right before you place them in the class, and then tell the teachers to take them at the normal potty interval (as they usually have 1 or 2 per class at those ages). But then replace the diaper, just in case. I have never noticed any sort of regression at all, by employing this method. The kids are thoroughly indoctrinated on the "whys" of the diaper scenario, and greatly encouraged to treat it as undies. And are rewarded for keeping them dry. When you are very sure they are trained and will tell you - or another adult they do not know well (a teacher) that they have to go, and you are confident in this ability - then it's time to test the waters with going to a class etc, with only undies on! I am smart, careful, and try to remain a step ahead in these situations - and none of my 2 children, have ever had an accident in public, ever. Grey is newer to this process, so I am not counting him yet;-) But so far we're good, fingers crossed!

5. Delays and Mind your definitions: Mommy encouragement - Do not get frustrated. It is possible that your child is too young to anticipate the sensations beforehand, and things may have to be put on hold until they are more ready. This is not a failed attempt, it was successful, in the way that, you know they are not quite capable. Do not become frustrated with the process, if you are, then it's time to put it on hold and resume at a later time. Continue great and exciting discussion on the topic, and it will come. Children are not potty trained, until they no longer have accidents. This is my opinion alone - but, peeing on the potty does not mean you are potty trained. It must also accompany NEVER peeing in your undies. If your child still has 1 accident per week or more, they are not trainED, they are trainING. Other Mom's in your circle may tell you their 18 month old is potty trained, and maybe they are. But don't feel bad. Not everybody defines things in the same way. So while you then feel like a failure because you are not training your child, and maybe your child is not advanced, and maybe blah blah blah. Don't even give it two thoughts. It is possible (although rare) that children are truly trained that young. It is not a competition and has nothing to do with genius levels:-) And chances are - the definition is off. That mom is likely cleaning up MORE than her share of accidents, meaning, her 18 month old has started training, but is not yet trained. (I personally count day trained and night trained separately)

6. Boys - Oh boys! Boys add interest and fun to potty training. They can wield that thing like a fire hose, and unless you want to be cleaning up pee from around the toilet for the next 10 years, teach them to pee sitting down. Using the guard, and the "hold it down" instruction should do the trick. Do not neglect that instruction!! When they are older, taller, and more capable, in your opinion, you can teach the standing/aiming stuff. Also teach them the cleaning stuff. They will not like cleaning it, and will begin to appreciate that you don't either. The biggest factor when standing, is also paying attention. I am not a boy, and really have no idea why it should take so much concentration, but as their eyes and head wander around the get the idea. Brooks generally prefers the standing method, but has (and will again, I'm sure) lose that privilege, due to "how did this even HAPPEN" disaster occurrences. Naturally, the child has no earthly idea. *shakes head*. Teach them the courtesy of the toilet seat, and his future wife will praise you someday. Boys just add a "that is super gross" factor to just about everything they touch in life, so naturally this is no exception:-)

7. Rewards - (and the oops too). Do what motivates your child! Small candy (m&m's, mini marshmallows, etc - anything they think is special and yummy. I shy away from anything that takes too long to eat, or is visibly noticeable to other children like a lollipop), sticker charts, a bigger reward (toy etc) for a certain number of stickers etc. Lots of high fives, I'm so proud of yous, you are the bests, etc. As they get the hang of it, you can lessen the reward, so you would get one candy at the end of the day, if dry all day, instead of one candy for each little pee. Don't make a big deal about the accidents, just a "uh oh" voice, of "oh no, what happened? We have to run to the potty! We don't let the pee pee come out. Now we have to clean the mess". They can help, or get a towel, but deal with it without much fanfare. Getting angry, or showing lack of patience about the accidents sends a message that you don't want. They are young, they are learning, and they are trying. And you are at least 20-something years older than they are. Don't get bent out of shape over an accident. You want them to come running when they are peeing, but if met with anger or incredible disgust over an accident, you just may be encouraging them to hide it, and not tell you. You want them to learn, you don't want them to feel like they disappointed you. Cleaning up lots of accidents is not fun, and will make you want to scream sometimes. But it will pass, and you'll live. There will be many such accidents over the years. Learn to deal with your emotions in the moment, and it will serve you well in the future too. After all, this is only pee. When they are 16, the "accident" could involve your car and their lives. Save the drama for when you need it, perhaps;-)

BONUS - Products - choose carefully so you don't waste your money. I would personally not want a small potty that did not have a lid (because it looks grosser, and other children could potentially get into a mess). I inherited my little potty from my mom, I believe she bought it in 1990 or there abouts. It's Fischer Price and will last many many more years!:-) If you have boys, or ever will have a boy, make sure the pee-guard thing is sufficient. Some that they make are NOT. It needs to provide adequate coverage/come up high enough to block that whole area:-). Same goes for the potty ring for a regular toilet. Remove the guard if using for a girl, but don't lose it, you'll need it someday! I have never used those flushable wipes, because they seem to me, a girl on a budget, to be an extreme waste of money. But...whatever you choose to use, just make sure it works for you and your needs.

8. Night time training - Some kids just get it. They day and night train at the same time. If you limit beverages from 4pm onward to bedtime, and they wake up with a dry diaper 7 days in a row, leave it off, and see how they do. They've likely got it! If not, put a diaper back on for night time, and even nap time, especially if they are deep sleepers or nap for a long time. Sometimes this just takes time to kick in. Kids can be fully day trained at 2, but not night trained until 4, perhaps. It depends on each child and their brains ability to wake from a deep sleep. Sometimes it comes with age and time. Don't make a big deal about "scolding" for nighttime accidents. They can't help it, and aren't doing it on purpose. Dispose of the diapers and move on. You will notice as they age (and you control the liquids), that it will change. IF IT DOES NOT - by the time your child is about 5 (although, pediatricians will not consider this an "issue" until your child is 6 or 7 years old) - but depending on the maturity of the child in other aspects, I feel like 6 or more is a little too "old" - they are no longer babies, and will resent the diaper situation. There is something you can use. My mom discovered this years ago! We call it "the beeper". Basically, some kids just cannot stir out of that deep sleep, they just can't. Maybe they'd be 15 before they did, who knows. We don't want to wait that long. All the packaging says not to use it before 5 years of age (give your body and brain a fair chance to figure it out and develop. This is not for 2 year olds). Kenna night trained perfectly. Brooks struggled with it. On his 5th birthday, I ordered this. He was still wetting the bed 4-5 days of 7, so I decided an intervention would solve the problem. How it works - it hooks to undies (no diapers), and has a very sensitive sensor. Even a drop of wet, and it goes off like a siren, and it vibrates. So the sensor is linked to a pager like device that clips to shirt - and as soon as they wet BOOM. It will mean mom gets less sleep - as you have to get up, wake the child - yes, they do sleep through that alarm even!! And make them aware of what is happening, and take them to the toilet. It becomes like a pavlov's dogs situation. Your brain will subconsciously associate the feeling of going with the alarm and the vibration and it will wake you up. It took about a week for the alarm to wake him, and another week of the alarm waking him, but soon enough that he could still make it to the bathroom without a big accident. And that was done. 2 weeks with the beeper, and he's never had an accident since. It's kind of a miracle worker, really! I highly recommend this product for any child that struggles with night time training as they get older. The packaging states it takes 2 months, so our results might not be typical, or maybe they are being very careful with their estimations. But there is no reason to let it continue and potentially embarrass the child to any extent, when the fix is so quick and easy. It is also important to note that this is NOT something that the child can help, nor, as I mentioned already, does it have anything to do with their level of competency in other areas.

9. Accidents - Be smart. If you have only 1 room with carpeting in it, and it's possible to avoid that room, do it. If you have a few areas rugs under tables, coffee tables etc. Roll them up for a few weeks. You know there will be accidents, so plan as much as you can for them. While in undies, a "newby" is NOT allowed to sit on my green couch (microfiber), but is only allowed on the black couches (leather, more easily cleaned) etc. If it is critically important that you never have an accident on the carpet (say, if you are renting or something) - than that is fine. You will have to go a different route (using pull ups perhaps) and know that although the process will happen eventually, it will take you longer, and will require more diligence on your part. There is no perfectly right way to do this. Everything depends on everything else. You have to do what is best for your family, child, and situation. Be respectful of others property. Just because you don't mind a mess on your floor doesn't mean you friend has the same views. Keep a change of clothes in your diaper bag or purse or vehicle. Plan for the worst, in other words, while all the while planning for it never to happen:-)

10. For older children - (or difficult ones). There are some times when either age or understanding and maturity make accidents unacceptable. Hopefully you never have to deal with any of those stubborn children:-) Who knows WHY on earth a child would decide that pooping their pants is "fun" or whatever, but they do, sometimes. A power struggle? Who knows what they are thinking, or what they hope to gain. Generally speaking, potty training is all positive. Children are not reprimanded in a serious way, or punished, for an accident. It's all just "oh no! We run to the potty!" blah blah blah. It is meant to teach and instruct and bring awareness, and not meant to truly make them feel bad:-) There will reach a point though, when enough is enough. There are a few tactics one can take. You may need to look into what to do - you know your child best. Are they being willful, or lazy, or spiteful, or ?? This can give you an idea of how to proceed with curbing their current issues. A few things, that would probably universally helpful in the case of the older, stubborn child. Don't make the "clean up" time an enjoyable one. Do not use soft warm wipes, and lotions. I'm not saying you should yell either, but generally, try to match the unpleasantness of the situation. As unpleasant as it is for you to clean poop out of underwear - match that on their end. A cold washcloth perhaps. Making them clean their mess (supervision, and cleanliness tips on-going would be required. It is amazing how they shudder to think that they should have to touch it). A barely warm/cold bath. Something that would be considered fairly shocking to the child, and get the point across, of course always in love. I am in no way suggesting being unkind or losing your temper. But oftentimes "extreme" measures need to be taken so that the child will realize that this behaviour is not acceptable, and will not be met with a sunshine and roses response, like in the past when they were young children. Like I said, hopefully you never have one of these children! When Kenna was training, I would obviously put a diaper on her for naps and nighttime, and every single time, she would poop in it. In fact, she never pooped on the potty, and saved it up for the diaper. So I explained to her the way it goes. She was fairly young (still under 3 years old), and so we had a conversation. If you can do it in one place on purpose, you surely can do it in another. She got to skip her nap. However, she had to spend the entire nap time, and more, if needed sitting on the toilet. I did not make it unpleasant...I set up a tv tray in front of her. She had books and toys and games at her disposal, but she was not allowed off the toilet, until she went, because I knew, based on prior patterns, that she had to go. The first day, it took her 1.5 hrs to go, and there was much praise and rejoicing. The second day, it took her about 45mins to go, again much fanfare. The 3rd day, she did not go after an hour, and I let her go on her own recognizance:-) She was fine after that, it totally got her over her issue, but in a way that was not entirely unpleasant for her. Get creative!

Great Wolf Lodge Vacation

Back in early September I was made aware of the homeschooling discount that Great Wolf Lodge offers (only during certain times of the year)...just so happened the next applicable dates coincided with one of my days off (Presidents Day). The discount made all the rooms just $130 per night. The room we booked is normally (as of today) $350 per night!!! Significant savings! So we decided to book the room for one night and take advantage of something we would otherwise not be able to afford to do. For those that don't know, Great Wolf Lodge is a hotel with a massive water park attached to it. It's basically the total kid fun zone.

We made it our birthday presents for the season, since we all 5 of our bdays from Feb 2 to May 10.

We also "convinced" some friends to join us/go on the same days as us (they were gonna go anyway!) - Perfect little vacation!!

We didn't tell the kids what we were doing, only that it was a birthday surprise.
Lalaloopsy is buckled in and ready for the journey. Great Wolf Lodge, Williamsburg is a quick 45 min drive, door to door.
Since the discount made all the rooms the same price, we went with a loft fireplace suite. It actually sleeps 8, so we had plenty of space:-)

I gave the kids their bday presents from my mom & dad too - since they were perfect for the trip/traveling. New comfy soft blankets were just the right size for their backpacks.
Kenna wasted no time in getting us settled in, just like home
The kids were SO excited, although even when we pulled up, they didn't know where we were or what fun was about to happen - or that their friends would be there too! The words Great Wolf Lodge meant nothing to them - we won't have that luck again. Now they KNOW what its all about! When we pulled into the hotel, Kenna said, "where's the wrapped up part of the surprise?" Haha.
Next time I might have to legislate what gets put in their backpacks a little more closely:-)

Boys bed!
The way the hotel/waterpark works is that you have 1 nights stay, but 2 days access to the water park!
Drying out towels
snacking at night. We had rooms next to each other, so we put the kids to bed and the adults hung out in the other room while they slept. It was very fun to have multiple adults there, because there was always someone to take "kiddie pool duty" for the babies, so we all got a chance to try something fun. Otherwise, I basically would have been stuck in the kiddie pool with Grey (he loved it!) while Brian and the kids had big kid fun.

from the loft:-)
We all brought food for breakfasts and lunches, but we ate dinners together, all three families. On Sunday night we got BBQ, on Monday night, pizza!
Enjoying Pierces famous pulled pork BBQ!

Some slides = fun! Kenna and Brooks are "yellow" the only thing they were not allowed to do was the Tornado water slide.

In the Kiddie Pool, his fave spot. He was tall enough for other slides too, and we sent him down a few, but he didn't like it. They were more for big kids - you can't hold them and go together, he went all by himself!

The big bucket on top dumps when it gets full!

Grey's slides. He loved these little ones. They were his style:-)

I couldn't capture the other two, they were always on the go!

The waterpark is sooo fun, and huge. Swimming pools, wave pool, kiddie pool, hot tubs for kids and adults, flow rider, tons of water slides, obstacle courses, lazy river. This is only a small part of it, visible from our 4th floor:-)
Us, and 1 other family, only were staying one night, but the other family was staying 2 nights, so on Monday morning, we packed up our room, put it all on a cart and brought it to Sam & Heathers room. So we used the water park allllll day (from it's open at 9am until 5pm!!) and had a blast, and it was very convenient to be able to use their room for eating dinner and changing, instead of the change rooms and our van! We actually got refunded $20 off our bill, because we checked out of our room early (before 9:30). WOW. Made it even cheaper!! It was just easier to check out early and get everything into the other room, so we could play, instead of coming back up later to pack up/checkout.
Some of the kids, eating dinner on Monday

All of the kids!!

The lights of Norfolk over the ocean - coming home!
We came home absolutely exhausted! The kids were beyond tired-out. They played hard for 2 days!! We all had a great time, and Brian would love to go again, when the discount is offered again (rumor is it will be in Sept?). For all you're getting for a nights stay, when the discount is applied, it makes it the price of a normal hotel stay! And when they offer you a bonus $20 back for getting out of your room early?! This deal lover can't pass that up!

Enjoy some video - I did break it down a little bit (see timeline under video), so you can watch what is of interest to you. Sam & Heather have a waterproof camera, so most of the footage is from them. I kidnapped their SD card:-)
:00 - Libby & Brooks, underwater
:20 - In the wave pool
:33 - Sam, flow rider
1:03 - Brooks, flow rider
1:25 - Brian, flow rider
1:51 - Libby & Brooks, talking waiting for their ride
3:29 - Sam & Libby, going down a slide
3:52 - Brian & Brooks come off slide
4:00 - Darla, Brian, Nate & Sam, the Tornado slide - the scariest one
5:00 - Brian, Kenna, Brooks & Eli - tube slide
5:12 - Nate, flow rider
5:25 - Sam, flow rider
5:56 - Eli, flow rider wipe out
6:10 - Grace, flow rider
6:31 - Libby, flow rider
6:47 - Kenna, flow rider
7:00 - Brooks, flow rider
7:22 - Kenna, flow rider
7:44 - Brian, flow rider
8:13 - Jaeden, flow rider
8:41 - Brooks, flow rider
9:07 - Kenna, lazy river
9:47 - Grey, talking

Friday, February 15, 2013

Girly Girl

It's always amazing to me how girls are so...girly. May is 15 months old, and she did this all herself. A "lovely" hat, and a little purse. She's ready to hit the town!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chick-Fil-A - Recipe

There are a great many people that I know personally who adore Chick-Fil-A. It's a Christian company and the food, while fast, is "real", and tasty. It really seems to have a cult following, and that's cool I guess.

I do not belong to this group. I have nothing against their food, and certainly like the company as a whole, but wonderful ideals aside - it doesn't fit my budget. I have eaten at Chick-Fil-A a whopping TWO times. I know some would gasp in horror. But I have an extremely small "eating out" budget, and high-priced fast food* doesn't work for me:-/ (Secret: I've never been to Panera Bread. I know you're all dying right now. In fact, there are so many places I have never eaten, it would be much more expedient to list the places I have been:-) To say I don't get out much would likely be the understatement of the century, haha!! (*about their affordability, I am not saying the food is not worth what they are charging, I am only saying that I can't justify it's cost, personally)

To clarify: I have paid for my food at Chick-Fil-A two times. I have eaten their nuggets at social gatherings where people bring a big party platter of them, and I really like them. But just to explain that I am in no way qualified as a connoisseur of said nuggets, and so while the recipe I am giving you claims to be a knock off, and is quite tasty - I cannot vouch for its dead-on accurateness. But for Canadians who wonder about the hype down here in the South, or for people who love the nuggets but can't afford them, I present to you...

Chick-Fil-A Bites!

This is a pinterest find, and Chick-Fil-A has their own honey mustard sauce. I did not try the recipe for that (listed in link), I just used the one I had in a bottle in my fridge, but the C.F.A. version I know is a little different than standard honey mustard. But it'll do.

2 large chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces and seasoned with salt & pepper.
3/4 C milk
1/4 C pickle juice (juice from a dill pickle jar)
1 egg
1 1/4 C flour
2 T icing sugar (powdered sugar)
2 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 to 1 C peanut oil (can sub out canola or veg., but C.F.A. uses peanut, officially)

Whisk together milk, egg & pickle juice and put in ziploc bag. Add chicken, and marinate in fridge for 2-4 hours.

Combine flour, sugar, salt & pepper in another large ziploc. Shake to combine. Remove chicken from marinade, and add to bag; shake to coat it.

Heat about 1/2 the oil in large pan until ready to fry, and cook the chicken in small batches, so you're not over crowding the pan. Add more oil as needed.


(I did use peanut oil, we have lots left after our turkey frying adventures in '11, so I am happy for the chance to use it up, and remain "authentic" to the recipe:-)

Frozen nuggets about to be reheated for a quick dinner
I have been really trying hard to make the best of my grocery budget, and have less food waste or "forgotten items" in the back of the fridge. I've made these nuggets twice now, the first time we ate them "fresh" and they got rave reviews. A few weeks ago, I opened a package of chicken breasts, and had 2 leftover. So I decided to make another batch of these, and freeze them for a quick dinner later on. Last night was that dinner;-) I just reheated the nuggets in the oven with the fries (450 until heated through). They were equally delicious by doing this too!

Valentine Smiles!

Grey, today shouts out during Valentines snacking "Happy Valentime's Santa Cwaus, fank you for da cannies!" It was too cute. Then, over the next 10 minutes, he kept on with the Santa Claus thing, so I grabbed the camera and asked him to say it again. I guess we find out Santa is for "Priss-miss" and he's "even dead".

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mexican Drug Lord?

I saw this online...this is so my kids! LOL!

Random Post

When I was searching for an Easy Bake Oven for Kenna, for Christmas, on Craigslist, I found a pretty good deal. Not only all the stuff for Easy Bake, but also all the stuff for Gourmet Girl Cupcake Decorator included for a cost of $20 total. I figured, why not?!

Sunday we tried to use it for the first time, and it was hilarious. I really had my doubts that it would work, and they were confirmed. At least the easy bake actually works, giving us teeny tiny little snacks - but it works;-)
Cupcake flinging fail

Grey took a bath on Sunday morning, and spent the entire day at church, or napping. I bathed him again on Monday night. When I drained the tub, this dirt was left. HOW do kids (boys) get so dirty in 1 day?! I'll never know.
Here is a video from last week - Kenna reading a story. She has a handle on her silent e's (with a's and i's specifically) and is doing well working her way through the curriculum!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Basketball - Video

In case you've ever wondered how cute Kindergarteners are, while playing basketball. The term basketball used's more like basketball, football, boxing & soccer, intertwined. It's hilarious. Brooks is in the burgundy colour, and is #13 (lucky 13!). Today in the game he got 4 shots/scoring opportunities but none of them went in:-)

*they wear the sweat/wristbands that are colour coded. They are supposed to block/guard the person on the opposite team wearing the same wristband as they have on. Neat idea.

Hobo Purse

I bought a kit for a "Hobo Tote" at Walmart in the sewing section, because it was cute, cheap ($12), and came with instructions. How can I go wrong?
I got 2 pieces of fabric, 2 handles, and more words than pictures. Eeek. Last night I decided to give it a go. The directions calmly and easily stated things like, "sew a 2" pleat on three sides". I have never sewn a pleat before, and had no idea how to make one. Googled it.

It actually was not that hard, and I did it all (I pre-washed fabric prior) - from cutting to sewing on the buttons from 8pm to 10:30pm. Now that I've done it once, I bet I could shave almost an hour off that time (googling, reading, re-reading would not be necessary)
It's SUPER cute, I love it!
wow. My pleating sooo worked perfectly:-)

Best of all, it's reversible!! :-D
I sewed a button on both sides of the flap, just to give it more weight to hold it down, it is not attached to the purse, but just flops over the top. It also has the option to be tucked inside and not showing from the outside.
Stuff inside!! See how the flap is tucked inside?
I love this. Too easy and way too cute. I think that the bolder pattern is my fave for the outside and the small circles for the inside, but at least I have options!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Photo & Video Blog

I have been recently able to convert lots of video (mini tapes from camcorder, and VHS tapes). Posting these on my Archives blog. I didn't want to add all kinds of way old stuff here. These video are raw and unedited - straight from the tapes.

I have tried to post them and tag them with kids names, and the proper dates of when it was taken. Since I started this blog (My Crazy Life) in 2007, of course we missed all of Kenna's first year. So I started an archive blog, in 2007 also, for all her first year pics. Oh how I wish I had known about blogging in '05-'06, I regret so much not having her first year as our only baby documented, as I do for the others. Oh well! Brooks has a shocking lack of video footage compared to Kenna - back then we only had the camcorder with the tapes, and it was just so cumbersome to get out and use, compared to my "new" digital camera.

Anyway, this stuff is literally home movies (similar to snippets I post here), so nothing very interesting, truly. Unless you want to smile and go back and see a pudgy baby face:-) I only mention it, really, for the sake of the grandparents, and as an explanation as to why I've not taken many pictures recently.

I am continually updating with more of my videos - my goal is to have them 100% converted and uploaded by March! I have been hitting this goal hard over the past 2 weeks, and wow. It's time consuming! Up next, converting footage from our first Christmas together in 2003. Wowsers.

Here is an ADORABLE video from 2007. My youngest sister, Maryn just turned 7 years old the week before. She had quite a dramatic flair for storytelling. It is sooo cute. And to think, now Kenna is about to turn 7. 

Watching this video, Kenna says "Wow. I wish I could have been there to see this, because this story sounds soooo ahhhh, complicated." Maryn spares no details, so while complicated, it is a fairly thorough description of the death of one of our family dogs, Kirby.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gun Control

Well, new rule. No shooting at your "awesome target" while Mom is cooking in the kitchen. I feel like I barely escaped with my life after being repeatedly pelted!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Darla's 20th birthday

This video was made for me by my friends, Joel & Audra. I posted it on facebook on my birthday, just to embarrass everyone, but forgot to post it here! They surprised me with it (on VHS tape) on my 20th. No Brian pics in here - we'd met, but he wasn't yet in Chicago, and I didn't know him (well) yet. I tagged everyone I could remember the names of. Fun times!

Buzz Lightyear - Video

Forgot to post this on Friday!
A random May picture: She is a rocking horse pro now!

Mom watch this: To infinity and beyond!

Groundhogs Day

It's supposed to be an early spring. Yay. My birthday was a fun a busy day! It started out early, as Brooks has basketball at 8:30am. The game (I forgot camera) was hilarious, as always. Brian was laughing so hard. They have moments of brilliance and moments of awful, and its just so cute!

After basketball - I got a great gift from my husband and friends - A day "out"! He stayed home with the kids, and me and a few friends went and saw a matinee showing of Les Miserable, and then a late lunch/early dinner together. The movie is incredibly impacting and wonderful all around, the music has been stuck in my head for 2 days now.

After coming home, Lauren (sis in law) and Chae (friend) surprised me with a wonderful birthday cake they made. It was sooooo good!!
So good in fact that Grey helped himself to a handful when no one was looking:-)

Here a few songs I cannot get out of my head. This movie is HIGHLY recommended by me:-) This is "On My Own" sung by Eponine's character
The song of Angry Men has always been a favourite of mine, going back to about 1999, and hearing my roommates CD of the soundtrack of the broadway play. Here it is, I can't embed it...

And before the song Do You Hear The People Sing, there is the call to battle - It's Red - the blood of angry men, and Black - the dark of ages past.

There are soooo many songs that grip you as the story goes on. Naturally, the I Dreamed a Dream one is something to be seen, but I feel like sharing it out of the context of the movie does it an injustice.

It is a story of Redemption that is truly inspiring.

A great song for a birthday, really - One Day More!

Friday, February 1, 2013

NOT Pregnant

Random realization: This is the longest I have not been pregnant, since getting married.

Married - 2 year anniversary = pregnant
Baby - 5 months later = pregnant
Baby - 2 years later = pregnant
Baby - almost 3 years later = NOT pregnant!
Pic taken on Mar 10, 2010. Grey was born 11 days later, and yes, I got even BIGGER. I am wearing an XL maternity shirt in this pic, and it's stretched to the max!
I guess I can't say I really miss that very much. Haha. Love the baby results like crazy, but the whole lugging them around for 40 weeks thing I could definitely do without;-)

Basically, all this really does is make me realize how FAST time has flown by, especially since Grey has been born. Can't believe he's coming on THREE. Whew. Life is such a blur.