Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Just Had to Share...

Last week I posted about things I've learned on vacation. You can click here to read about it & I suggest you do because otherwise this will not be nearly as funny to you.

A friend of mine, who is a true Southern gal through & through, sent me this text. I thought you'd appreciate it. I literally laughed out loud.

I enlarged the photo so you can see it clearly:

I love my friends.

Happy Tuesday y'all!

Monday, July 29, 2013

This Week's Project...

I like to be crafty & creative; I just never seem to have to the time  be willing to make the time. Nobody ever has time to just sit down & bust out a craft. You've gotta make time to get your creative juices flowing. My problem is that by the time I have a window to get something created I'm kinda tired, or I have to fold laundry... it's always something. I'm having a hard time getting motivated so I'm hoping to use you guys to keep me accountable. Hope you don't mind :)

So, I'm putting it out there. Here's the craftiness that I'm hoping to get my hands on this week:

I have this perfect space in my hallway right by the garage door where I can hang this baby. My plan is to put cute fabric inside the frame as well as the dots to form the quote bubble. Then, I'm going to write on the outside with a dry erase marker. 

What am I going to write? I dunno.... maybe something inspirational, something I want the boys to learn/remember, Bible verses, math facts, my grocery list... whatever I feel the need share & display. The possibilities are kinda endless. 

Where did I find this little gem? Of course, at Pinterest. Click here for the link so you can pin it too. 

Now that I've committed, let's see if I can get it done! Check back at the end of the week for the after pics!

What project is hanging over your head, waiting to be completed? Share your craftiness with me! @preschoolmomma on Twitter
Find me on Pinterest @ joyriley

Friday, July 26, 2013

Things I Learned on Vacation

Hey-o! Happy Friday everyone! 
This blog post is being brought to you my new laptop- I'm in looovvee! Sorry kids, you're on your own for the next few days while Mommy gets reconnected. 

Just kidding... sort of :)

Because we're friends & everything, and I have a new laptop to put to use, I decide to bring you some fun heading into your weekend. That, and my kids have been home sick all week & I'm bored to tears. Take your pick. Here are some fun things I learned while on vacation in sunny Fripp Island, SC. 

Things I Learned on Vacation

Alternate Title: Deep Thoughts While Relaxing

Other Alternate: Things I Noticed That I Found Amusing and Wanted to Share But Didn't Want My Old Laptop To Catch On Fire While On My Lap

I'm all about choices today.

1. People in the south like to monogram everything.

I'm not dogging this, I just never knew you could get a sweet monogrammed hat, swim shirt, Tervis mug, car decal, I could go on & on. 

I get it, I monogram the heck out of my boys' backpacks, lunch bags, etc. But I've never seen quite the volume like I did this past week. Anyone who has an embroidery machine should head down south. You'll clean up.

2. You can basically wear anything you want to the beach/pool while on vacation.

Again, not hating. Just observing. Quite literally anything goes; size, shape, amount of fabric. There are no longer rules about this stuff. You should be warned, though. Random teenagers will discuss your cellulite at will, according to a convo overheard by my husband while at the pool. He also mentioned that it was a bit of a pot/kettle moment for them so just because somebody's hatin' doesn't mean that they should be. I say do your thang. Haters gonna hate. Just wait until they have kids...

3. It is possible to sneak a milkshake into your car without having to buy your children one.

Are the angels singing to you too? It was a beautiful moment. The Hubs ordered a milkshake while we stopped at Zaxby's on the way home. I was expecting tears & yelling (from me "Seriously, you had to have a milkshake, ugh. Kids are going to melt!") but nope! Didn't happen.
*side note, Zaxby's is divine. I bet you heard angels singing when you read that part too.

Here's how it went down, in case you want to take notes:

  • placed order inside the building instead of the drive-thru; kids running amuck, no one was listening.
  • one parent exits the restaurant under the premise of "getting the kids back in the car" while the other stays inside waiting for the food
  • remaining parents exits the building with the food while discretely covering the milkshake in the drink carrier
  • both parents begin passing out food in a frenzy to distract the children while placing said milkshake in a front seat cup holder, making sure said milkshake is covered by the debris involved in road trip
  • exit the parking lot in your vehicle while everyone eats happily & never speak of the milkshake, using hand gestures to indicate that it's your turn for a sip
  • relish the fact that you got to have a treat & share a secret that the masses would have cried about

I accept thank you notes at confessionsofapreschoolmom@gmail.com

Hope your vacation was as educational as mine. 

Wrapping it up with a family beach photo. This is your awwwww moment :)

Love ya right back

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Back At It

Bet you thought I quit, didn't you?

I'm still here, pluggin' along. I hit some minor snafu's & then, took a vacation. Ya know, regular stuff.

A few weeks ago, my laptop got so hot it nearly burnt my hand. I decided I probably shouldn't use it or leave it plugged in. That left me with blogging on the desktop- not easy with a toddler since he likes to remove all of the books from the shelves in the office where I would've been working.

So, limited blogging time + packing 6 people for vacation = no blogging

Last week, our family spent the week in sunny Fripp Island, South Carolina. Fripp is the most relaxing place to go if you have multiple children, especially while they're small. You park your car & don't get back in it until you leave. Everyone drives golf carts around so there's no shuffling people in & out of vehicles. It's a beautiful thing. There isn't much to do other than go to the beach and/or the pool, which is just fine with my family. It was a fun week with some much needed R&R.

Now, I'm back. New laptop arrives tomorrow; I have big plans for you guys. It's amazing how much time you have to think when the only thing you have to decide for the day is beach or pool

What did I miss while I was gone? I did hear someone mention something about a baby... ;) 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Houston, We Have a Problem

I thoroughly enjoy being organized. I get a lot of satisfaction from order & orderly things. Having said this, I've found that I have 2 levels of organization: super organized or super not organized. Initially, I can get the mess under control. But one day of letting it go can turn things upside-down. Then, I just don't do anything about it until it piles up to the point where I can't take it anymore & I spend the day cleaning things out & starting over. It's vicious cycle.

I decided that this year my resolution was going to be to get our house in order & keep it that way. I'm fairly successful in a few rooms, but I'm still working on it. I've got a year to finish. I enjoy taking my time :) 

One of the things that really put me on edge was the mountain of paperwork that came home with the kids from school. Classwork, homework, invitations, etc. this paperwork was going to be the death of my resolution unless I came up with something to help me keep it all straight.

Enter the Command Center

This idea was the brainchild of something I saw on the Today Show about keeping your house organized. It said that every mom needs an area of the house where they can operate the day to day: schedules, homework, paperwork. I was instantly hooked so I started looking around my house for a space where I could spread out & manage the stuff that was slowly suffocating me. We are lucky enough to have a giant laundry room where the boys already hang their coats & backpacks. The unused wall space was screaming at me so, I set to work.

One of my goals as a parent is to make my boys responsible & self-reliant. I wanted to make sure the space I was creating for them (and for me!) was conducive to independence; meaning that I wanted them to be able to navigate this area without help from me. I did a LOT of searching for the right items to make this happen. After several trials & errors, I landed on the items below:

The Set Up

The general set up is that each child has his own corkboard & folder slot. The schedule is above for everyone to see. Right now, it's our summer schedule that you can read about here. During the school year, it's the "specials" schedule (music, art, etc) that I put up for them to check every morning. That way, they know what they need to pack: library day means pack library books, gym day means wear your gym shoes. They can read the schedule themselves & I absolve myself of any responsibility. Oh, you forgot your library book? Make sure you check the schedule. Too bad that you forgot your gym shoes, don't forget to check the schedule.  Responsibility & independence: check & check! To the right of the cork, is a calendar and to the left is their summer chore chart.

Break It On Down


Let's dive in a little deeper. Each kiddo has a corkboard where their individual paperwork gets pinned. Right now, it's their goals sheet (click here for more info) & their summer reading program chart. During the school year, homework gets pinned there as well as other important info that needs our attention: birthday invites, yearbook orders, etc. I've found that if I put something out of my sight, it completely disappears from my memory. If I pin it where we can all see it, I'm much more likely to remember! The boys are responsible for pinning & returning things to their board- i.e. go get your homework from your board, return it when it's finished. Again, I've completely taken myself out of the equation. You are responsible for the whereabouts of your homework. I found these lovely little corkboards at Michaels.

The folder slots I looked long & hard for but had a harder time finding. I got these at IKEA & they're perfect for my family because they have ENOUGH slots for my brood of children. Apparently 3 letter bins are the most that the majority of you need :) IKEA, once again, saved the day! I use these to hold the boys planners & folders. The kids come home from school & put their mail folders & planners in their slots. That way they're not coming in with papers blowing everywhere & piling them on my island- a place I work hard to keep clean because it's the #1 dumping zone at our house. I like this because it helps me keep the paperwork in order of what goes with whom & it helps me control what we keep & what gets recycled. I also like it because I can check the folders when its convenient for me instead of having paper strewn around while I'm not ready to tackle it. In the folder slots, I keep a pen for signing planners right away. I also keep a green file folder where any "save" paperwork gets stored until I'm ready to organize it: art projects, stories they've written, basically things I want to save but don't have time to file right away. 

I like having the folders all in one place because it's easy for me to put in paperwork that needs to be returned in everyone's folder at the same time. I can also add teacher notes to their folders so I know it's at least getting to school... I always wonder about that one! The boys are responsible for returning their folders & planners to their backpacks in the morning before getting on the bus. Again, more responsibility for them, less for me :) 

To the left, to the left...

I've just taped up their summer chore chart so they can check it easily. Click here for the link to what extra jobs my boys are doing this summer to help around the house. 

To the right, to the right...


Here, I've put a dry erase calendar that will house the boys' schedule for that month. That way they can see when they have football practice or when camp is coming up. I'll also put doctor's appointments on here so they know when I'm picking them up from school early. Along the bottom, I'll pin anything that applies to all of them: lunch menu's, physical forms, etc. 

So, that's how I conquered Mount Paperwork. How do you control the paper chaos at your house?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July 4th Celebrations

This is the 1st holiday in a very long time that we have NO PLANS! I've gotta say, I'm a little bit pumped about this. With both sides of the family local, our holidays book up pretty quickly. We love having family close by but sometimes its fun to make your own plans too.

I'm not really a Pinterest parent. In my mind, I am, but when it come to actually executing some of these fun ideas I just don't quite get there. I'm okay with it. But since we're home for the 4th, I actually planned ahead for once & have some fun things I'm going to attempt to carry out tomorrow. (Roll over the titles to get the Pinterest link.)

Fourth of July Layered Drinks

This are kid-friendly & fairly easy. I'm just hoping all the colors don't mix together!

I splurged & got the Ghirardelli white chocolate for these. Yum!

Can you tell I have a sweet tooth this week? Thought we'd have this as dessert.

Happy 4th of July! I'll be dodging the neighborhood fireworks- eek!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Help Yourself

Alternative Title: How to Make Your Life Easier

The general pace of our house tends to run 100 mph. That's the way it goes when you have four boys & two type A parents. We always seem to have about 8 different "irons in the fire" to quote my father. This is, in part, because neither Will or I seem to be able to say no to anything that pulls on our time. It's also partly because we both have a need to control things. Because of this hectic pace, I am constantly in search of a way to simplify & to be more efficient as household. This week, I'm going to share with you some things that we do at our house to simplify day to day living, but are also things that empower our kiddos to be more independent. 

The Problem: Hungry & Thirsty Kids

If your house is anything like mine, your kids are constantly hungry and/or thirsty. I've found that my boys are almost always in need of something to eat or drink. I would sit down to answer a couple of emails only to be almost immediately interrupted by someone needing something. Can I have a glass of water? I'm so hungry, I need a snack. I'd try to fold a load of laundry. But I'm sooo thirsty, I can't wait.  Or, heaven forbid, I try to make a phone call. Mooo-ooomm, my stomach hurts. I really, really need a snack. I know I just ate lunch but I'm still really hungry. Ultimately, this would lead to me snapping & someone would get in trouble. Generally, we'd both have to apologize. 

I decided that if I was going to retain any of the sanity I had left, something needed to be changed around here. So, I started thinking, looking around & eventually, reorganizing. I made the following changes to make this place self-serve instead of full-serve (fool-serve?). 

Plates, Bowls & Cups

Plates & cups were my 1st move. You can't be expected to serve yourself if you can't reach the plates. I cleaned out a drawer that was reachable for even the smallest of my inhabitants & stashed all the plastic kid plates, bowls & cups in there. Problem #1 solved.


The Refrigerator

Now that they are equipped to serve themselves, how do I get them to eat what I want them to eat? I started by setting some boundaries. The refrigerator is free game, meaning that you can pick a fridge snack whenever you want unless it is close to mealtime. I try to cut off snacks around an hour before meals. I've designated the bottom half of the refrigerator for kid snacks. Check it out & then, we'll break it down.

The bottom row, which you can't see, houses cheese: string cheese, Babybel, whatever we happen to have gets put in here. The next row up is for apples & grapes, already washed & ready to eat. Next row is yogurt & individually packaged fruit. When I come home from the grocery store, I try to wash & cut up fruit to put in these snap containers. They can grab one & go if it's already ready. A little bit of time initially saves me some work in the long run. Those tube yogurts are actually Chobani Greek Yogurts instead of Gogurt. Finally, the last reachable row is for water bottles. I wash the water bottles every night & fill them up before we go to bed. Then, they're ready for the next day. The boys can also refill their waters themselves throughout the day.

The Island

Again, another place the boys can access anytime during the day is the fruit bowl located on the island. This is where I put fruit that I shouldn't refrigerate. 

The Pantry

Now, this is a section I do regulate to some degree. This is the "ask Mom" section of our snack supply. I try to keep things in here that I don't want them to eat constantly, but things that I don't mind them eating once/twice during the day. In my book, natural things get eaten whenever; processed things get eaten sometimes.

Anything boxed, I like to try to the control portions so I will help them with these things. Things in the polka-dot box are self-serve, because they are already portioned.

I moved all of the junk food up to the highest pantry shelf to help curb all of the asking for chips & cookies. It also helps me not eat it because its not in my direct line of sight. I taught my boys that junk food is a "treat" and not a "snack".

So, Why Does This Make My Life Easier?

A couple of reasons: 1. The obvious, I don't have to serve anyone or refill things. 2. The arguing over what is an "appropriate" snack is no more. They know which snacks are always a choice & which snacks are sometimes a choice. If they want cookies, they have to specifically ask for cookies instead of just grabbing them off the shelf. It took a little while to break everyone in, but now that they know the rules, there is almost no arguing. Notice that I said almost :) 3. Everyone is eating healthier with only a little more work up front from me. It does take some time to prep after coming home from the store, but I truly think it's saved me time day to day. Also, during the school year it makes lunch packing quick & easy. Win-win.

What About the Veggies?

My boys are not big vegetable eaters. Our veggie eating tends to involve ranch so that requires another step from me. Most of the time, the boys won't voluntarily choose vegetables so I tend to stick with fruits during snack time & save veggies for meals when I can monitor & bribe appropriately. We pop a multi-vitamin every night & call it day. I do sometimes sneak veggies into things I know they like, but that's another post for another time. 

What do you do to make your snack time more efficient? 

Need tips on how to get your child is eat at mealtime? Check out my previous post: Toddler 101: Food Wars

follow me on twitter @preschoolmomma