Sunday, July 30, 2006

Mom2Mom Tips: Grocery Shopping

I don't enjoy cooking. Therefore, it makes some sense that grocery shopping is not high on my list, either. But it is a chore necessary to anyone who eats, so let's make it simpler!

"Grocery Shopping"
  • Create a store-specific list - I got this idea from my sister's partner, Nancy. I have made up a spreadsheet detailing the regular items that we buy by aisle number for my favorite grocery store. I keep copies in my kitchen, and when we run out of an item, I simply circle it on the list [if it is not on the list yet, I write it in for the proper aisle]. I save A LOT of time in the store by knowing exactly which aisles I need to go down (and skipping the ones I don't!) I then take a highlighter and mark any items I have a coupon for, so I can recheck the coupon once I get to that aisle. I staple any coupons I will be using directly to the list, so I don't lose them.
  • Leave the kids at home - This is sometimes my best option, but I usually don't feel like shopping after they go to bed.
  • Take hubby to the store - If we go to the store as a family, we take two carts and split up. Since we have a printout of the grocery list by aisle, I simply rip the list in half and Mark takes one half of the store while I take the other. Shopping really goes quickly!
  • Making many trips - Before the kids were born, I shopped in a two-week cycle: The first week, I made one really big shopping trip and bought all of the non-perishables for two weeks plus any perishables I would need for one week. The next week, I made a second trip limited to the perishables we needed. Now, since I bring the kids to the store with me, I have found that going twice a week for shorter amounts of time makes each trip more manageable. The kids can behave well for 30 minutes, but an hour or more is definitely pushing it!
  • Cool carts - our grocery store just got new carts that have TV's built in. For $1, you can rent the cart while you shop. I will not do this every time, but if it is necessary to shop at a time when the kids are really cranky, I won't hesitate to pay up.
  • Choose the time wisely - My kids are the most well-behaved early in the morning. Our most successful shopping trips are right after breakfast, when they are full, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Our worst shopping trips are right before naps are due, or right before lunch. I make sure to plan a shopping trip the night before so we can be out the door early in the morning.
  • Hand it over - In order to keep the kids happy during the trip, I let them hold some of the groceries to "help" me. If they try to open the package, or bite through it [Ethan!], I immediately take it away. They will usually be happy holding the same box of cereal with characters on it for the whole trip.
  • Rewarding the kids - a.k.a. bribery. We start each trip with, "if you behave while we shop, and stay in the cart, you can have [prize.] If you don't, you won't get to have [prize.]" Our prizes include: a trip to the pet department of the store, where we can look at the fish, hamsters and birds; a ride on the penny horse (our store still has one, if you can believe it!); a donut at the bakery (they split it); and fruit snacks in the check-out aisle (which I bring in my purse). I stick to my guns - if they have not behaved well in the store (like, I have to tell them to sit down and buckle up three or more times, or they just aren't listening to me), they do not get the prize. Sometimes, only one of them gets the prize and the other is carried out of the store crying. In that case, I hold my head high, knowing I'm doing right by my kids in the long run!
So... what are your grocery shopping tips? [I encourage you to write your own post about this topic, or comment on this post.]

Gathering nuts

It has been 5 months since our home study was completed. Five months of waiting, essentially. And I have not spent very much time preparing.

The thought of another child has been on the back burner - the very back burner. When I was carting around a broken arm this spring, I was grateful that I wasn't trying to cart around a newborn at the same time. When summer began, and all of our weekends were filled, I was glad that I was well-rested enough to keep up with our schedules. But now, as fall is approaching, I am starting to think like a squirrel and to gather nuts for the winter.

Preparing for Abby's arrival in our family was a long process. From the time our homestudy was finished to the time Abby was born, 21 months had passed. I had a lot of time to get the nursery ready and stock up on the essentials. And I had more than enough time to pine for a newborn.

When we were contacted by Ethan's birthfamily, we hadn't even started our second homestudy. There was no time of waiting for someone to be interested in us, or time spent worrying. Within three months of meeting his birthfamily, Ethan was born. We already had an infant at the time, so everything was ready for his arrival. Everything was prepared for him.

Over the past five months, my busy schedule has been a great distraction. I haven't taken any time to prepare. To worry. To pine. My memories of waiting for Abby are still fresh, and I am certainly not yearning for those helpless feelings again. But as our summer activities are winding down, I find myself thinking more and more about the possibility of another child, another sibling for our kids, another personality in the mix of our family. About how our lives would all change. About what kind of mother I could be to three amazing kids. About what awesome siblings Abby and Ethan could be to a little brother or sister. About the sacrifices that Mark, Abby, Ethan and I would have to make to welcome a new member of our family. About how incredible and incredibly difficult it would be. And I am hopeful.

We've started to physically prepare for a baby, should we be so blessed. This week, we purchased bunk beds. For now, they are separated and Abby and Ethan each sleep in one. Eventually, if we have a third child, they will be bunked to hold two boys or two girls. When the new beds were installed, the old cribs were taken down. One crib went to our neighbors, who are expecting a second baby. The other crib now lays in waiting, a reminder of our current status.

I am excited to start gathering nuts for winter, to really wait for a baby. I am filled with hope and with joy.

Full of bunk

The kid's have new bunk beds (currently de-bunked) --- ta da!

Abby is very excited about her new bed. She loves having sheets, and a new soft blanket. She looks so small in her bed now!
Ethan loved shopping for bunk beds. When we were finished shopping, he actually cried. "More bunk beds!"

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Best of Luck to Robbie Baby and Dawne

On Saturday, Mark's brother Rob and his girlfriend Dawne will be moving to New Mexico. Rob will be attending art school there, getting closer to his dream of being a professional artist.

We wish them the best! We will miss them! And although I'm not Irish, I still send them with the Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Best of luck to you both, and may you flourish in your new home!

An Eye for Photography

Yesterday, Ethan says, "Mommy, take picture!" While I'm grabbing the camera, he and Abby set up their pose by the front door. Maybe Ethan has "the eye," eh?

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

That's My 'Rinse!

While Aunt Jennifer, Uncle Danny, Emma and Ally were visiting a couple weeks ago, they decided to give Abby her birthday presents a little early (her b-day isn't until the end of August).

This video shows Abby opening her most prized gift, her very first Barbie doll. You would think they gave her a million dollars! Abby's so very happy about her "'rinse!" (princess). Jennifer's famous quote: "That's the best $5 I've ever spent!"

Video Highlights: Off-key birthday singing, "That's my 'rinse!", Emma opening Abby's present in the background
Video Lenght: 1 min. 44 sec.
Video Quality: Definitely not my best work, but what else can I do with a digital still camera? :)

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mom2Mom Tips - Rewarding Kids Inexpensively

I have decided to start a new weekly feature item in my blog, which I will call Mom2Mom Tips. My hope is that other blogging moms will also write weekly about the same topic I am (for instance, this week is "Rewarding Kids Inexpensively"). That way, we can share tips with one another and hopefully all learn new techniques to help our daily lives run smoother. Those of you who read this but do not have a blog yourselves, you can simply post a comment to offer your own tips related to the subject. Simple, right? Jump on the bandwagon --- you know you want to! ;) And if you do write a post, let me know about it and I will link to it from this post.

"Rewarding Kids Inexpensively"
  • Sticker charts - my kids really respond to sticker charts, and I give a prize for receiving a certain number of stockers for good behavior (prizes start at 5 stickers for a new behavior, and 10 stickers for a behavior that is more of a pattern).
  • Calling someone to brag - I make a point to call someone if my kids do something great or really cool (for instance, we called Grandma when Ethan slept in his big-boy bed for the first time). The kids beam with pride when they are bragged about.
  • High Fives - I give high fives for cleaning up, going potty, figuring out a puzzle, etc. Abby and I developed "Far-Away Fives" (high fiving the air from across the room) and "Foot Fives" (high fives given in the car, my hand to the kid's foot). Abby especially thinks this is really cool.
  • Silly songs - I am forever making up songs, so I make up a song when the kids do something spectacular. We have a special potty song that goes, "Abby did a peepee, a peepee on the potty, Abby did a peepee, a peepee on the potty! Do-do-do-do-do-do-do!"
  • Feeding the pig - Mark keeps a collection of his pocket change, and if the kids have been good, they get to put some into their piggy banks.
  • Dollar store - as a reward for sticker-chart behavior, I will take the kids to the dollar store to choose an item. They think it's fun to look at all the items, and they get to take one home, even!
  • Self Pride - I watch Dr. Phil regularly, and I was very impressed with this parenting concept. He said that in addition to showing your kids that you're proud of them, you should teach them to be proud of themselves. I make it a point when Abby or Ethan do something really impressive to say, "wow - I bet you're proud of the great job you did!" or "you should be really proud of yourself!" I hope this teaches them to be their own best friends.
So... what are your tips on "Rewarding Kids Inexpensively"?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ponies and Princesses

Today, Abby was playing with a Barbie doll and asked me to put a rubberband in her hair. I put her hair into a ponytail, and said, "see, her hair is in a pony!" Abby of course said, "[she's] not a pony, [she's a] Princess!" Recognizing how I had confused her, I restated, "her hair is in a pretty ponytail." To which she replied, "not pony tail. Mommy tail!"

Of course, she's right.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I Wanna Soak Up the Sun

Yesterday, I was reminded how nice it is to live just minutes away from family instead of hours as we used to be. My parents took the kids and I, along with my nephew Dylan, out to the beach on Lake Michigan. My kids hadn't been to the lake yet, and they LOVED the sand and surf. The weather was perfect - air temp of 80, water temp of 72. It was the perfect day for their first experience of the "big water." I hope we can go again before summer is over!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Day at the Spa

Friends are family you choose for yourself.

Well, I did it. I cashed in my gift certificate to the spa from Mark and the kids for Mother's Day. And instead of going alone, I traded in my certificate for a "Friends" package and took my best friend Jennifer! Her family is visiting for a week, and we decided that we needed a girls afternoon at the spa while we were together.

We started with luxurious full-body massages (Jennifer's favorite part). Next, we were ushered to a room where we received whirlpool pedicures (my favorite part - my feet felt soooo good afterward). From there, we each headed to a hair stylist and finally a make-up artist. We had such a good time, talking and enjoying each other. We almost forgot that we had kids and husbands to get back to!

When we got home, we grabbed our husbands and enjoyed a really fun dinner at a Spanish tapas restaurant (where you order all sorts of dishes and pass them around so everyone can try). We had some really good food, including some alligator that Jennifer ordered for us. From there we took a walk around our downtown area, passing a motorcycle rally and an outdoor rock concert. We finally ended up at a deuling piano bar, which turned out to be too loud, too smoky and a bit uninteresting. Oh well, we always have fun together anyway! It's great to have time together as couples, like before we were married. It's wonderful that we are such great friends after all these years!

Choosing my toenail polish. I had no idea there were so many choices - and the names of the polishes are hilarious! I ended up with "Can't Help Falling In Love" and Jennifer had "Not Really a Waitress."

Jenn's hair was gorgeous!

Our makeup artist was so fun. Jennifer said, "I'm your canvas. Just don't make me look like a wh@re." HAHA!

Our feet have never looked so good!

Two hotties and their hubbies. :)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Overheard from the Backseat

While driving home from brunch today, the minivan was filled with the loud rrrrrriiiiiipppp! noise that only Velcro can make.

Ethan: "Abby Daniel! No shoe off!"

We had to turn our heads so he wouldn't see us laughing.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Mini Vacation

This past weekend, Mark and I went to Indianapolis for both business and pleasure (for me, it was all pleasure!) Mark and his colleague, Bill, had a meeting with a potential client scheduled for Sunday, so Mark and I made it a two-day affair and had ourselves a mini vacation. Our niece Courtney stayed with the kids, and acted as their junior mom while we were gone.
Mark and I went to Conner Prairie, and learned a bit about life in the midwest during the early/mid 1800s. It was actually very interesting, we especially liked talking to the volunteers there who dressed up in period clothes and told us all about life at the time. The only downside was that the day was way too hot and humid for comfort (about 90 degrees/90 percent), so we were sweating buckets. It made us appreciate the modern convenieces we are afforded, like air conditioning!
We had a nice dinner at a really cool contemporary place called Music Mill, which houses a stage/dance club as well as a restaurant. Shawn Mullins was scheduled to perform that night, but we opted for the hotel pool instead.

The next day, we met Bill for breakfast and the guys left for their meeting. I went shopping. I shopped at a local open-air mall, which was so nice. It was so hot and humid again, that I was really excited to go from store to store and get back into the air conditioning! In all, I shopped for five hours (wow!) I bought a few shirts for myself and a couple of things for Mark and the kids. It was really nice to have nowhere else to be than shopping for fun. Heavenly!

The kids kept Courtney on her toes, but she did a great job. When I was her age (and beyond) used to help my sister out by watching their 3, then 4, and finally 5 kids while they went away. It's cool to see one of those kids filling that role with my kids! :) I am proud of the way Courtney is so responsible. We're very fortunate, and grateful to be able to have time as a couple!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Parenting Mistake #236

#236 Washing your children's Loveys.

When they figure out they're missing, you may get this resonse...

Or this one...
They may try to find a substitute...

Or try to pry them from the dryer when they're still wet...
But when the Loveys are clean, you become a hero to a boy who loves Baby...

And a girl who loves her blankie.

PS... please read the post below and delurk if you haven't already!