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Monday, October 15, 2012

Proof that "the book really is better than the movie"

The kids are old enough now (4 & 2 - almost 3) that I decided to try out reading to them before bed.  They'll sit still to read picture books but I wanted to try a chapter book.  We started with "The Littles Go Exploring", a book that I picked up cheap at a consignment sale.  They are LOVING it and after the very first night of reading they spent the whole next day playing "the littles" & talking to "the littles" through the vents & the walls in the house.  They've seen The Littles cartoons and movie before but they had never taken it the step further to actually play pretend about it afterwards.  To me, that is proof that the book is better than the movie because it awakened their imaginations!

We'll be done with this books soon & I want to find another one.

I need your recommendations of good chapter books for this age!  Help, please!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Constant Adjusting with a house full of Little Ones

With 4 little kids (including 2 babies), it seems there is a constant adjusting around here.  In the last couple of weeks we have . . .

  • Put boxes of baby clothing away in crawl space storage until another baby comes our way (because they're in the nasty crawl space, the boxes had to be sealed up tight in garbage bags and tagged so we could easily see what was inside.
  • Sorted & moved all small toys out of the playroom to keep it safe for the babies that are now "on the move"
  • Taken additional toys out of the playroom, the ones the older kids like to play with like blocks, train sets, etc. that could be destroyed by a baby on the move so the older kids can play undisturbed
  • Changed up the baby food so they are eating some things with their hands and more of table-type foods
  • Put away the infant seats into crawl space storage
  • Arranged the kitchen for a 2nd high chair
  • Sorted out items we won't be needing for any future babies to be sold at a consignment sale in the spring
  • Found a new home for the "shoe basket" that was housed in the playroom and had become Alexi's favorite new "chew toy"
  • Changed up our exercise schedule since the older kids are being unco-operative (to say it nicely) in the stroller these days
This week I will be . . .
  • Putting up baby gates
  • Arranging bedrooms to fit a 2nd crib and the toys that have now been moved upstairs
It doesn't sound like much when I put it on paper, but added to our already busy day, it feels like we're in constant adjusting motion around here.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chore Chart

I've been wanting to put together a chore chart for a while now.  I remember even the cute pictures that my mom used on a chart we had as a kid and it brings back such fond memories.  While my 4 & 2 year old don't have a ton of "chores" right now, I thought it would help us keep with a routine during the day & when they are dragging their feet through activities, it helps to remind them that as soon as they finish they get to move their card on their chart.  I did a separate one for each kid but for now, their cards are the same.  I'm thinking of adding some additional cards (scripture reading, help with laundry, help take out the trash, etc.), but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Here's what I came up with:

  1. The board came from Michaels and is a 7x7 size.
  2. Painted the board black (didn't worry about painting the back side).
  3. Printed the child's name onto a piece of scrapbook paper.
  4. Mod podged the paper to the board.
  5. Went over the board with a coarse piece of sandpaper to rough it up a bit.
  6. Attached 2 hooks for the chore cards.  The cards sit on the left side & are moved to the right side when completed.
  7. Printed & laminated the cards.  I got the graphics from a site where you could purchase clipart for a low fee.  I just LOVE this clipart & wish I could share it, but the site where I got it has closed up shop :(  I did manage to track down the artist, Carolee Jones, but her blog still links to finding her artwork on the site that has closed.
  8. Used a staple gun to attach ribbon (for hanging) to the back of the board
  9. Voila!  You're done!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Twins Sharing a Crib

Can someone tell me how babies can get from THIS:

to THIS:
or THIS:

That little Landon (on the left) is quite the Houdini!  All swaddled like that, he is often found in a complete 180 degrees from where he was laid down.  Unfortunately for poor Alexi, that also means that she wakes up to him kicking her or with his legs resting on top of her.  Its always fun to get them up from a nap because of the anticipation to see what position they'll have wrangled their way in to!

Weight Loss: Week 8

TEN POUNDS is a HUGE milestone!  I lost 2 lbs this week, which gives me a total 10 lb loss so far & I'm ecstatic!  The great thing about 10 lbs is that its enough to see a change in the way clothes fit & even though no one else will see a difference, I can see a difference when I look in the mirror.

This week's SECRET WEAPON, is that I started a 12 week challenge where we get daily points for good eating, exercising, etc.  I had been doing great with my running and trying to eat sensibly, but this challenge has gotten me eating much better, including cutting out sweets - which I had been trying to hang on to but eating in moderation.  I have a very competitive nature, so the prize at the end isn't what is driving me, but just the competition of the whole thing.  There were many nights when the only thing that kept me from late night eating or eating the ice cream in the freezer was the fact that I knew I would miss out on a point in the competition for doing so.

10 lbs lost, 33 lbs to go!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Weight Loss: Week 7

Not much to post for this week.  I hate to see that scale going up & down all week long.  On Sunday morning, my scale gave me the news that I would be reporting in at the same loss as last week.  I'm happy for no weight GAIN, but sad for no weight LOSS and hoping for a better week this week.  Today, I started as part of a weight loss challenge.  There are things to do or not do each day that I can earn points for & they'll also be looking at the total body percentage lost at the end of 12 weeks.  I need things like this to help keep me accountable and I always love a challenge, so I think it will help.  I kept my to do/not to do list in the kitchen & made sure to get full points today, which kept me away from the brownies that kept calling to me!

8 lbs lost, 35 lbs to go!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer of Fun: Week 1

I don't know what it is, but even though I just have a preschooler (two days a week), the beginning of summer makes for a great time to start a new routine & add in some extra fun.  Maybe its the beautiful weather or the feeling of a "new start".  Anyway, I thought I'd share a list of what we're doing around here for fun & learning this summer.  The items that are bolded are specifics or topics we're going to do every week.  I'm trying to come up with an idea for each topic for each week.  These are the things we did last week:

Movie Monday -- something we started a few months ago & will continue.  The kids love to spread out a blanket & have popcorn while watching a movie.
Kids National Geographic -- learn about a new animal each week with the details, videos & soundbites from this website.  I'm printing out a card for each animal & we'll store them in a 3x5 card file box for each kid.
Computer Games/Activities --  Mr. Roger's Neighborhood
Hooked On Phonics & Letter Writing
Outdoors -- planting seeds, played in the water (blow up swimming pool)
Games -- Red Light, Green Light

Cooking -- made, frosted & added sprinkles to cupcakes
Additional Activities -- Just Dance on the Wii

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week 6 Weight Loss

Woohoo (as is my 4 year olds favorite thing to say these days)!  I'm back on track.  Not only did I lose my 2 "cruise pounds" but I lost an additional 2 pounds this week, for a total of 4.  However, the bad news is that we had to get a new scale, and just as I was afraid of, its showing a different number than the old one.  Its only 1.5 lbs higher, but that 1.5 lbs is a lot for me right now.  So, I'm going to go ahead and switch to those numbers on the new scale & only count a 3 lb loss for this week . . . still pretty good, right?!

This week was really tough.  I was back into my running (though that was limited a bit due to a muscle strain) and healthy eating and the numbers just weren't moving all week long.  I was getting discouraged & also feeling like I was actually gaining weight with the pants feeling a little bit snug, etc.  So, I was surprised, when I woke up on Saturday to a 2 lb loss and elated when I woke up this morning to an additional 2 lb loss.  Like I said, WOOHOO!

This week's SECRET WEAPON was my iPod.  I finally got a playlist to run to a couple of weeks ago & it definitely keeps me going & makes a huge difference!  I need to get a 2nd playlist & maybe even a 3rd so I can mix it up a bit, but here's the one I've been working with.  Its my country playlist:

"My Front Porch Looking" In by Lonestar
"Heads Carolina, Tails California" by Jo Dee Messina
"Would You Go With Me" by Josh Turner
"This One's for the Girls" by Martina McBride
"Life is a Highway" by Rascal Flatts
"Love Story" by Taylor Swift
"This" by Darius Rucker
"The Climb" by Miley Cyrus

8 lbs lost, 35 lbs to go!!!

Surviving & Thriving with Twins

I've been thinking about this post for quite some time, but am finally sitting down to write it.  The twins are 4 months old now and life has changed dramatically at our house . . . for the better.  To be truthful, I was miserable during the pregnancy but scared to death of life when they were "out".  I struggled when I had my first baby & again when the 2nd baby came along & couldn't even imagine life with 2 babies at one time and a total of 4 kids under the age of 4.

It took me 10 years of marriage & trying to have a baby to actually become a mother.  Those were very difficult years and I was surprised when that first baby came along that life wasn't just peachy.  I love my kids to pieces, but its hard to admit that I did not love being a mom.  There's a lot of difficult day to day stuff . . . the endless diaper changes and constantly picking up after & caring for little ones that just didn't seem very fulfilling to me, especially when it meant I had to make some big changes & limit the time spent in my business that DID give me fulfillment.  Its hard to admit all of this because, honestly, I felt like a failure a lot since I know that raising children is the most important job out there & I see a lot of women who do it very well & seem to be happy & fulfilled.

I am so happy, that that joy & fulfillment with motherhood are finally mine!  As crazy as it can be around here, I am so happy with being the mom of 4 kids, age 4 & under, and I thank my Heavenly Father every day for this opportunity & blessing in my life.  Along with that change in my attitude, has come a more organized & happy household.  I am finding time to get projects done -- a little at a time -- and doing more activities with my older kids.  Life isn't perfect & there are still days when I want to pull my hair out, but now those are fewer & farther between than they once were.  I thought I would share some of the things that are making a difference for me:
  • I thought I was busy before, but adding newborn twins to the mix which required 8 hours of feeding babies a day (at first) just left me with a lot less time in my day.  With my other babies, I fed them on a schedule, but now the whole house runs on a pretty tight schedule; I even printed it out & posted it around the house!  I have to know exactly when to be doing what (getting older kids dressed, exercising, reading scriptures, doing household cleanup) or it doesn't get done.  They say that if you want something done you should ask a busy person.  Well, I really get that now.  I feel like I have to make the most of every minute of my day so I am able to accomplish a lot more than I did in the past when I felt busy.
  • We start each day by listening to some of the music that the kids are learning in church while they eat breakfast.  It really helps us get off to a positive start.  I also like to open the blinds (& the windows when the weather is nice outside) and light a scented candle to help set that right tone for our day.
  • I have an awesome husband that is a true partner at home.  It took some time to figure out, but we have a great schedule that allows him to take on some of the duties around the house.  He gets up at 4am to get ready for work so that he can be home from work around 3 or 3:30pm.  Most of the time, he takes the last 2 feedings of the day for the twins and will also do a lot of the care for the older kids on certain days of the week so I can either run errands (grocery shopping, etc.) or work on my business.  We have a 1 hour block set aside, after the older kids are in bed & before the last feeding of the babies, to spend with each other;  it doesn't seem like enough, but one day it will get better!
  • Prioritizing is HUGE!  My home life is my priority right now.  I still work my business & give service through church, but I know that those things have to be worked around my life at home.  I always knew that mothering was the most important job that I had, but sometime in those first few days after we brought the twins home, I felt a tangible change in my heart.  I knew, without any doubt, that my most important job was in my home & that I could find fulfillment in it if I did it right.
  • I MAKE time to exercise every day.  Sometimes that's me heading out to run as soon as my husband walks in the door from work.  Other times, we take the kids out for a walk -- 2 adults & 2 double strollers (we're quite a sight!).  There was a while there when that exercise was the only thing that was keeping my energy level high enough to get through the day.
  • PINTEREST!  Okay, it might sound crazy, but I love Pinterest & I really think it makes a difference in our home life.  I find great ideas for new recipes, organizing tips, crafts & activities for the kids.  And I don't just "pin" those things, I'm actually using them to improve our life & give me a creative outlet.
  • I'm a competitive person by nature.  I think I feel a little bit like I've been issued a challenge or a dare with 4 kids age 4 & under.  When people hear that I have that many little ones that close together, their jaws usually drop.  I think the fact that it sounds hard to people has given me the drive to do it better, if that makes any sense at all. 
  • I have a new appreciation for good health.  I felt miserable for most of the pregnancy & even before it began -- we did InVitro which includes a lot of injections about a month prior to & the first 3 months of the pregnancy that leave me hurting and feeling pretty sick.   Honestly, once those babies were delivered, I felt like new woman with a renewed amount of energy and strength.  After feeling awful for so long, the feeling good felt that much better!
  • The last & most important, is that I don't feel like I'm doing this alone.  I really feel like I am partnering with my Heavenly Father to raise children who will love Him & keep His commandments.  There is a greater weight & importance to the things I do and I feel His help with me as I pray for my kids & for myself to be a better mom.
I am by no means perfect at this.  We still have the occasional "movie & pajama" day or days when I just feel the need to get out of the house for a few minutes. Every day is a test and adventure for me but I am sure enjoying the ride, most of the time.   I LOVE MY LIFE with 4 kids 4 & under!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Week 5 Weight Loss

Last week we were on a cruise!  We hired some great, trusted babysitters to stay with all the kids and got to get away for a vacation with my parents & siblings & their spouses.  We had a great time on the cruise ship and ended the vacation with a trip to Disneyland. 

With all of that going on, I was warned that weight GAIN was in my future instead of weight LOSS for the week, especially with all the buffets and yummy food on a cruise.  Well, "they" were right.  After getting home, I had a 4 lb weight gain, but after just one day, I lost 2 of those pounds that I'm sure were due to travel -- my ankles had swollen up and I was definitely retaining water.  So, I'm claiming a 2 lb weight gain for last week and getting right back on track this week to lose those 2 lbs.  And really, I feel pretty good about that.  I was careful with what I ate, but did enjoy Chocolate Melting Cake each night after dinner.  The amount of whole grains available as food choices was almost non-existent and there was no greek yogurt to enjoy each day.  I did get to enjoy 3 workouts during the week on the track at the top of the ship and tried to get a lot of movement in by being involved in lots of activity . . . walking around Disneyland, climbing to the top (as high up as we could) of Catalina Island, and enjoying the water slide on the ship!

Last Week's SECRET WEAPON was Accountability!  Knowing that I would have to check in here about my weight and would have to check in about my running to the leader of our running group definitely had an impact on what I ate and the running that I was able to fit in.

5 lbs lost; 38 lbs to go!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Week 4 Weight Loss

It was a great week this week!  My husband & kids have been passing around one cold after another for the past month & I had managed to evade it until this week.  I did end up getting sick but was only out of commission with a fever & everything for a single day.  I really feel like I owe that to the more healthy lifestyle --- well, and maybe to the fact that mom's just don't get sick because there's no time for it!  Our running group went to a running clinic at a local running store which was a huge help for me & I got new running shoes that I can't wait to try out next week!  I felt great, overall, and lost another 2 pounds!

This week's SECRET WEAPON to help me stay on track was getting some new workout clothes.  After a losing just a few pounds, I am starting to see a difference & wearing cute workout clothes just makes me feel better when I'm working out than the sloppy t-shirt I was wearing before.  I discovered the DANSKIN line at Walmart when I was pregnant and actually wore their yoga pants through my whole twin pregnancy, instead of struggling with maternity pants & I LOVE them!  What I love most is that they have some "relaxed" fit stuff instead of everything being so tight.

So, this week's Secret Weapon was feeling good about the way I look during exercise with some new workout clothes . . . I highly recommend it!

One of the great new shirts I got -- Danskin, from Walmart!  Online they're listed as $12, but I got mine for only under $7 each!    

7 lbs lost; 36 to go!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 3 Weight Loss

Oops!  I totally forgot to check in on Sunday night; we've been busy, busy planning for an upcoming cruise with my family (just the adults, no kids), so I spent the evening on skype with my mom & a couple of my sisters.

Anyway, back to the weight loss thing.  I've been enjoying the slower pace of my workouts.  Instead of 2 heavy workouts a day, I'm not just focusing on the running thing through a program with Stroller Strides.  By the way, I love Stroller Strides & highly recommend it to any stay at home moms.  I would still be going if I had a stroller to accommodate all 4 kids!  But I was able to sign up for this 8 week running course.  We meet on Saturday morning for a run/walk workout and then have "homework" workouts during the week to do on our own and an optional group run/walk one evening a week.  My goal is to be able to jog for 30 minutes straight by the end of the 8 weeks.  Its tough, but I am pushing myself and doing as much as I can each time because I know it will work.  I also know, from past experience, that jogging is the only exercise that makes the weight start melting off, honestly, for me it just melts off, LIKE BUTTER -- and that's a pretty good motivator to keep it going!  So, in addition to my jogging, I am doing a 13 minute stretching video & 12 minute abdominal video each day.

I lost 1 pound last week, but the greater results is that I'm starting to see a difference when I look in the mirror.  No change in clothing size yet, but seeing a difference is great motivation to keep working at it!

5 lbs lost, 38 lbs to go!

I love the running/motivation pictures on Pinterest; here's one that I've pinned:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 2 Weight Loss

Ba Humbug!  (is that supposed to be one word or two?)  Anyway, I was so excited about that first week & 4 lbs lost that I kept right on going into week 2.  And was so discouraged to be doing the same things & seeing no improvement.  I mean the scale seemed like it was stuck & I was sure it had to be broken, right?  That is, until it started going UP.  How could I be exercising so hard & eating so well and be getting THOSE results?

I'm convinced that it has something to do with leftover side effects from my pregnancy.  My hormones have been all messed up & crazy things going on and for the last 3 weeks, the doctor has even had me on estrogen patches to try to even things out.  Well, the patches are gone now & I really hope that things will level out a bit.

On the positive, even though I went up for a couple of days, I did end the week exactly where I started the week.  So, I'm still down 4 lbs from where I started 2 weeks ago, which is good progress.  I also started with a running group through Stroller Strides (I love this group in Castle Rock)!  It was fun to workout with some new friends on Saturday & push myself a little bit more.  I'll have "homework" workouts to complete on my own this week and will continue with a couple of video workouts as well.  But I think my focus will be more on the running so that I will be able to run for a solid 5k in 8 weeks . . . that's the goal!

Still 4 lbs down & Still 39 to go

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lost 4 lbs in One Week!

I've really been struggling with "body issues" since the twins were born. I was very good and didn't gain too much weight during the pregnancy and even lost ALL of my baby weight within 2 weeks of giving birth. However, I wasn't happy with where I was before I got pregnant and the twin pregnancy left me with even wider hips and all this, what I like to call, "fluff" around my middle. So, even though my weight was the same, the clothes I wore before the pregnancy are just not fitting right.

Several people have told me, "Don't be worrying about that; you have TWINS. This is a hard time so you shouldn't be worrying about stuff like that." But we all know that its something that we think about every time we have to put on clothes or leave the house in something other than yoga pants! And frankly, I could do with some feeling good about myself while going through the tiring job of mothering 4 children age 4 and under.

Over the last couple of months (babies are 3 months now), I've tried a few things & nothing has seemed to be working. I seem to be STUCK at the same number on the scale, like my body is just not willing to budge from that number. I even tried the GM Diet that I found on Pinterest. That moved the scale! I lost about 10 lbs in a week, but it all came back within a couple of weeks -- that was a bummer -- even though I was exercising and eating pretty well.

Last week, I started on a new journey, my journey to being 43 lbs lighter, having a ton more energy, and just plain being able to keep up with these kids! I decided to blog about it to help keep me accountable and because maybe it will help someone else.

Since nothing was working, I decided that I really had to ramp things up and the results have been great! On day 1, I felt sick & miserable but by the middle of the week, I was feeling pretty good and by the end of the week, I already felt a higher energy level and had lost 4 lbs. Keep in mind that it was not necessarily "easy", but it wasn't all that hard either (once I was committed to it) and I can see myself doing this for the next 3 months to reach my goal. And, if I keep up the 4 lbs a week pace, 3 months is what it will take to get there.

The Exercise Plan
I really believe a big key for me is exercise. But the daily workout videos just weren't cutting it, so I knew I had to ramp things up. I will be starting with a running group on Saturdays to train for a 5k, but decided to start a little early. Here's what I did last week:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 40 to 60 minute exercise video (enough intensity to leave me very tired) in the morning, 60 minute walk in the afternoon, 10 minute Ab workout video before bed
Tuesday, Thursday - 30 minute exercise video (a little less intensity than the one on Mon/Wed/Fri), 60 minute walk with some jogging mixed in in the afternoon, 15 minute stretch video before bed
Saturday - 60 minute walk with some jogging mixed in in the morning (I jogged for 2 minutes at every 10 minute mark which came to 10 minutes of jogging), stretch before bed
Sunday - REST

The Food Plan
I got the book The Lean Belly Prescription by Dr. Travis Stork (from the tv show "The Doctors") from the library & LOVE IT! In fact, I'm going to buy a copy for myself. I am using this plan to change my eating habits for life. I didn't even feel deprived or hungry over the past week. Here's what my days looked like:
Breakfast - steel cut oats with fruit (I have a great recipe done in the crock pot over night!)
Lunch - sandwich on whole wheat bread or salad
Dinner - just a regular meal I would cook for my family, but I have a smaller portion & fill up on veggies or fruit; I also did a little bit of substituting with whole grains, greek yogurt, etc. in my cooking to try to make the meals a little healthier
Snacks - This is my favorite part; I love these snacking foods! I eat 3 snacks a day that keep me feeling full and choose between: peanuts & dried cranberries, plain greek yogurt with fresh pineapple, wedge of laughing cow cheese with 3 whole grain ritz crackers, or piece of string cheese with a handful of peanut butter filled pretzels

4 lbs down, 39 to go

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Arrival of the Twins

Introducing Landon & Alexi! They were born at 35 weeks and are just over 2 weeks old.

My water broke about 1/2 hour after leaving my baby shower. We headed to the hospital and after several hours, they had to give me pitocin to get things going. The babies were born in the operating room very early in the morning after about 12 hours of labor. Landon was head down & such an easy delivery but Alexi gave us a little more of a challenge. She was in a breach position and the doctor tried to turn her, but she refused. They went ahead and delivered her breach, bottom first - folded in half. It was a little scary since I could see her legs while still trying to push her shoulders & head out after the contraction had ended. But she was delivered just fine, thanks to an awesome doctor!

Landon was 5 lbs. 1 oz and Alexi was 5 lbs. 10oz. (5lb babies are much easier to deliver than 8+ lb babies!!!) Landon had a little bit of a hard time breathing and so he was taken straight to the NICU, but he ended up doing fine before they even got him there. They kept the babies in the NICU mostly because of precaution for being born at 35 weeks, but both babies did very well & were able to go home with me 2 days later.

We struggled a little bit with keeping them warm & getting them to gain some weight at the beginning but they are both flourishing now. They are keeping us busy with feedings every 3 hours but they still sleep A LOT but we had a lot of meals brought in for us & I've had constant help for the last couple of weeks, so I'm just hopeful that I'll be able to handle everything once the help is gone.

Between several different attempts yesterday, we were finally able to get some good pictures. Getting 2 babies awake, alert, and happy at the same time is quite a challenge!