Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treating Practice

Last night, I read an amazing idea that I wanted to share with you.

As adults, I think all of us have experienced those kids who come to the door, don't even say 'trick or treat', take the candy, and leave.  No thank-you, no acknowledgement, nothing.  I find it incredibly rude and will not allow that kind of exchange to happen with my kids.

So, what am I going to do about it?

Tonight, during that lull between school/naps and dinner/trick-or-treating, we are going to practice!  Especially, my little shy guy needs to know that you don't just walk up to the door, grab candy, and walk away.  We look our neighbors in the eye (or at least in that direction), say or scream "Trick-or-Treat", get candy, say thank you, and run to the next house!

By no means is this some serious make it or break it matter, I just want to make sure my kids are prepared.  I don't want to be correcting them tonight because I didn't teach them from the start.  What better way to teach them, and get them excited, than to PRACTICE!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

One Girl, One Boy...

On this day, 12 years ago, I met the boy who would become my husband! 
This picture was taken two years after we met.
I was a 13 year old, boy crazy, attention seeking Georgia girl and he was a 15 year old, cool, about to get his drivers license, New Hampshire boy.  We met by complete chance but that chance ended up to be the greatest life changers I've had.  When we got married, 7 years later, we had never lived in the same city, but he was my absolute best friend!

Its funny how the best things in life are the ones that are not planned or organized, rather they happen just because they are supposed to happen.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Common Sense Dad: Let Kids Be Tough - Because They Already Are

Welcome to the first Common Sense Dad Friday! 
Naturally, my first spotlighted dad is one of my husband

Our children are our future. It is our jobs as parents to prepare them for the life ahead of them.  From an early age, we have the opportunity to teach our children how to be tough; and it is our responsibility to ensure that they learn this invaluable trait.  The funny thing is, children are born tough,and they learn weakness and fear from their parents.  When I say “tough,” I am not suggesting that we raise all of our children to be bullies or heartless robots.  The “tough” I am referring to is found in our day to day activities. 

When I was growing up, I loved a good electric storm.  Being from New  Hampshire these storms were rarely of any great significance, but I always hoped for a bright flash and a loud crack.  My younger siblings had mixed feelings about these storms; at least one of my sisters was petrified by them.  One night I got outwardly excited about an upcoming storm, we set up pillows on a bed and waited for the storm to hit.  The positive anticipation was like that of going to the movies, and it changed the entire experience. 

Fast forward about 20 years and a storm was coming our way, Little P and Little C had no idea what electrical storms were about.  Living considerably south of NH, storms are a bit more intense.  The three of us were outside playing as the winds picked up, at this point, they knew something was going on.  I told them that there was going to be “HEAVY” (which at the time was universal for “BIG” in our house) rain, and with the rain was going to be HEAVY lights and HEAVY bangs.  Their response was: “oh wow.”  I told them we would go inside the house and watch all of the heavy lights and bangs, and watch them we did.  They enjoyed it even more than I imagined. 

A couple strikes were extremely close, the type that stir fears that have been ingrained into us over the past million years or so, but even then, they just looked to me and observed my reaction (wow!) and mimicked it from then on.  Little P and C enjoyed it so much that they didn’t want to go to bed (there is typically no push-back on bed time in our house).  I made a deal with them that I would open the blinds and they could watch the storm from Little P’s bed.  They ran up and laid down next to each other, I pulled the blanket over them.  They were so focused on waiting for the next bolt of lightning; they never noticed that I left the room.  When we checked on them that night,they were right were I left them, at the foot of Little P’s bed, facing the window, passed out.

How many ten year olds cry when they scrape their knee?  How many are scared of thunder?  Children are naturally tough; they can endure anything we throw at them so long as we show them the way to handle themselves.  Whether it is a “boo-boo”, a storm, or a parent traveling for an extended period of time, kids are born with the capacity to overcome hardship.  It is our duty as parents to instruct them in how to approach the difficulties of life, we can teach them to fall back on weakness, or rise above with strength.   

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mommy Hormones - Migraines and Moodswings

I wanted to share something that I have recently discovered.  After having my youngest, mini C, I began having 5-8 migraines a month.  I'm talking the kind of migraine where you have no choice but to lay in a dark room with no noise.  They were not something I could tough through and Tylenol, Excedrin, etc did not even TOUCH them. 

In addition to these migraines, I also started experiencing incredible PMS symptoms.  My mood swings were out of this world and there was NOTHING I could do about it.  I am one of the lucky ones who has never really had too many symptoms around that time of the month but, holy macaroni, something had changed.

At one point, my mood swings reached an all time high and I decided to go to the doctor.  I am very lucky to go to a doctor who does not resort straight to birth control.  Instead, she actually looked at my hormones and treated the problem...not the symptom.  She gave me a hormone supplement and off I went.  The first month, my mood swings were immediately better and my migraine's decreased by 2 or 3.  The second month, they were gone...completely and utterly gone.

The point of me telling you this is that we are rarely told to have our hormones checked.  With every baby, your hormones shift and change.  If you are experiencing any symptoms that you have never experienced before and especially if they are affecting your life negatively...GO TO THE DOCTOR!  Ask them not to jump straight to the 'pill' as that does not pinpoint the problem.  If you go in confident that you know what you want, they will listen to you and check your hormones.

We, as women, need to take our hormones very seriously.  They can make or break a day, a week, A LIFE!  I wish hormones were talked about more openly because they really do have huge effect on our bodies and our lives.  Think about it, every month our hormones change dramatically and then, if we get pregnant, we've got a solid 18 months of being out of whack (not to mention nursing!)...THAT'S HUGE! 

Pay attention, acknowledge them, and take control.  It is your body.  Just because we experience so many changes does NOT mean that we can't feel great on a daily basis!

End pep talk ;-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trouble Falling Asleep - Adventure In Odyssey

It is officially 11:35pm and I am still awake.  It's one of those nights that I actually got in bed early but can't turn my brain off.  So many things are going on right now ranging from ridiculous excitement to overwhelming anxiety that I can hardly keep it all together.  In a few weeks I'll be able to come clean about things going on in life but for now, I suppose I will just have to lay here in silence, tossing and turning until I eventually fall asleep.

I remember feeling like this as a child.  I was usually in bed at a decent hour but, more often than not, would stay awake for hours just thinking.  I'd drive myself crazy! 

One day, my mom stumbled upon 'Adventure in Odessey' tapes.

It is part of Focus On the Family and each episode tells a story that teaches a biblical lesson.  They are awesome!  For Christmas that year, my parents gave me my very first 'stereo' (complete with a remote control).  I loved it so much because it allowed me to listen to those tapes every night when I got in bed.  If for some reason, I wasn't asleep by the end of the first episode, I could, with my nifty remote control, play the other side of the tape as well.  It was great!

At the time, I thought that listening to Adventures in Odyssey was just a way to fall asleep.  I had no clue that it was calming my nerves and distracting my pre-occupied brain at the same time.  (I have always struggled with bouts of be discussed on a later date). 

Anyways, as embarrassing as it is, I listened to AIO every night through high school and a lot of college.  It was my wind-down time. 

Now, as a mother, I was SO excited to pull out my tapes and Cd's and share them with my own kiddos.  We listen to a few of the (age appropriate) episodes in the car and THEY LOVE IT!  Little P busts out laughing every time Jimmy sprays his dad with the hose...its hilarious. Without knowing it, they are learning different virtues and bible stories, and I have found that I find the same peace in that I did when I was little...there really is something about these stories.

Anyways, the fact of the matter is that I highly recommend Adventures in Odyssey.  They are an awesome resource from parents.  Whether you listen as a family or play them at night, I can promise that they will serve as a contribution to your kids lives.

And man, I sure wish I had a tape or two tonight.  Waking up in the morning is going to be ROUGH.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do You Miss Your Kids?

While I was in Atlanta, my kids stayed home with a close family friend whom we all love dearly.  There has never been a questions of trust and, quite frankly, they usually tell me to go 'bye-bye' when she comes over.

I was a little surprised, though.  In most of my conversations, people kept asking me, "Do you miss your kids?"  to which I would respond, "No, they are in good hands.  We all needed this break."  80% of the time, they would look at me like I was crazy. 

On Saturday night, I was telling my dad that I felt kind of guilty that I wasn't pining for my kids.  Obviously, I thought about them and was hoping that they were having fun, but I wasn't dying to get home to be with them. 

He had a great response.  He said,
"That's really an unfair question.  You took this weekend because you needed a break from the day-to-day.  Being a mom IS your job.  As much as you love your kids, there is a lot of work involved in your day.  Of course you don't miss that."

In talking with my dad, it gave me great peace and frustration all at the same time.  It gave me peace in that I wasn't a bad mom for not missing them, but it also made me frustrated because, somehow, missing them has become equated to loving them.

When I told people that I wasn't missing them, they looked at me like I was crazy.  It was as if they thought I didn't love my kids and enjoy being a mom...and that's not true.  I love my kids dearly and I do enjoy my job (although very challenging, frustrating, and exhausting) but quite frankly, sometimes we all need a break.  I don't want my kids to be incapable of operating without me.  Although age appropriate, I want their security to be within themselves, not in me. 

I want other mom's to know this same thing.  Admitting that you need a break from the day-to-day grind does NOT mean that you don't love your kids or your job.  It means that you all have personalities and sometimes they clash.  It means that, oh my gosh, you get tired and it would best for everyone for you to step back, take care of yourself, and then go back into the game with a full battery. 

I encourage you to recognize your limits.  Be confident in your mothering and your love of your children, but know that if you are worn down, you won't be a good mom.  You will have nothing left to give besides your day to day chores.  And guess what!?!  When you take your break, ENJOY IT!  Don't spend your time worried about home.  Life does, in fact, go on without us!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Circle of Marriage

  I hope ya'll have gotten your week off to a great start and aren't too worn out...yet.
I'm excited for today because this is my first 'The Common Sense Wife' post.  From here on out, Tuesdays will become all about marriage, being a wife, and all the craziness that goes along with it.  Please feel free to comment openly.  I love to hear what other people have to say and tricks (or failures) that have (or have not) worked for them.

So, onto today's post.  I approach this post with excitement but reservation.  It speaks to the more 'intimate' part of a marriage but is, without doubt, one of the biggest lessons I use in my marriage.  So, here it goes.

When I was a senior in high school, I was given the opportunity to go on a retreat about the psychology of men and women, particularly within marriage.  Over the course of the weekend, we learned about what makes women and men tick, how we are different, and how to mesh it all together.  It was one of the most interesting weekends I have ever experienced. 

With all of the information that was thrown my way, the lesson that has stuck with me is this:

Women connect to their husbands through communication.  Men connect to their wives through the physical.  When one stops, the other stops.  It is the circle of marriage.

So, basically, as a woman, I need my husband to take time to sit and talk to me and hear the things that are going on inside my head and heart.  I need him to show that he cares and that he is hearing me.

At the same time, he needs me to show an interest in the physcial aspect of our marriage on a regular basis.  He needs to feel desired and he needs that intimate time together.

If I stop giving him that part of me, he will stop talking.  If he stops talking, I will, more than likely, stop giving him that intimate time.

Once I was married, I found this statement to be absolutely true.  I was amazed at the simplicity of the psychology.  While there are definitely other factors in a marriage, in its most basic form, the simple need and acknowledgment of the need for connection between a husband and wife is enormous.  What is even bigger, is the acknowledgement of how each of us attain that connection.  HUGE!

So, next time you and your spouse are at a standstill, butting heads of the stupidest of things, take a step back and see where the breakdown is located.  Re-establishing that connection and trust will usually get you back on the same page. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Buying Boy Gifts Can Be So Difficult!

This weekend, I was in Atlanta celebrating my Dad's 60th Birthday!  It was a fantastic weekend full of family, friends, and surprises!  It's always nice to take a break from the routine and refresh our hearts and minds.

Leading up to the weekend, I was trying to figure out what to get for my dad.  He isn't a man who needs a whole heck of a lot.  It got me thinking that every year, I always struggle with buying gifts for my brothers and dad.  Men aren't like women, unless they have a hobby or specific requests, you can't just buy them clothes or jewelry. 

Over the years, I have developed my list of 'Go-To' Boy gifts.  Unfortunately, my list has run a little dry this year as all of my brothers and brother-in-law's have already received everything on this list so I need some more suggestions!  Even though I am lacking new and creative gifts, I wanted to share this list with you!

1. Space Pen
Closed Pen-fits in the palm of your hand
This pen is one of my husbands LOVES.  He has carried these pens for years.  When they are closed, they fit in the palm of your hand.  They are tiny.  When you open it, it is the size of a normal pen.  These pens are awesome because they can write upside down, in water, and in space (since I know that we are all going to Space).  Anyways, coming in the low $20.00 range, this is a HIGHLY recommended boy gift. 

2. Atomic Clock
This is another favorite in our house.  We have both really enjoyed having an atomic clock.  It is operated by a satellite and gives you both the indoor and outdoor temperatures.  It's fantastic!  We have had ours for several years and we continue to use and love it!

3. 3 Day Weather Station

This gift cracks me up because my husband thinks it is the best!  It comes in very handy when you don't want to wait for the weather channel to roll around to your information or when you don't have immediate access to the computer.  I think its a boy thing because he went banana's over this gift!

4. Change Cup

As a child, I remember watching my dad come home from work everyday, pulling endless amounts of change out of his pockets, and putting in the kitchen counter.  Somehow, men always end up with change in their pockets!  This was one of those, "I hope this is good" gifts that I bought a few years back.  My husband uses it religiously.  He usually leaves it in one of the cup holders in his car.  What is nice about it is that it counts your money for you.  It's nice to see that your penny's and dimes are actually amounting to something.  At $10, you can't go wrong.

5. Anything Under Armour

This is always a very reliable gift for guys.  They make EVERYTHING and there is something about wearing Under Armour that makes a guy feel tough.  My husband LOVES their shirts and the quality is fantastic!  Thankfully, UA is no longer a 'new' brand so its easy to find their merchandise for pretty cheap.  Always a good boy gift!

Well, that's my short list.  I am doing a little research and will do another list as we get closer to Christmas.  I hope one of these ideas has sparked an idea in your brain and made gift giving a little easier! 

I have tons of pictures from this weekend that I will be putting up sometime this week!  It really has been a fantastic weekend and it's been nice to remember that even though I'm a wife and mother, I'll always be 'Daddy's little girl'.  

Happy 60th, Dad!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Common Sense Grandmama - You Are My Favorite!

IT'S FINALLY FRIDAY!  I have been looking forward to today for so many reasons!  One, I am going out of town for the weekend...alone.   Two, it's friday!  And three, I get to start my Friday feature!  Woohoo!

I hope ya'll have a great weekend!  I'm about to board my flight...more details on Monday!
Without further ado, my favorite 'Common Sense Grandmama', my mom:

A friend told me recently about attending a funeral where the oldest daughter gave the eulogy.  After saying some very thoughtful and kind words about her father, she proceeded to say, "I was my Dad's favorite daughter because..."  Evidently, the air left the room as everyone gasped and held their breath while watching the other two children as they sat with their Mom.   "...and my Brother was Dad's favorite because..." and later, "My sister was Dad's favorite because..."  Hooray for that Dad! 

My goal for many years has been for each of my children to believe that they are my favorite, because they are!  Once I changed my attitude about these kids being who they were created to be vs. who I wanted them to be, it was easy!  They each have outstanding qualities making them unique and I admire and respect them for who they are.  This realization has truly been one of the greatest gifts to me and it has also been one of the greatest gifts I could give my kids.  Thankfully, I learned it early enough and continue with my husband, grandchildren and try with every person I meet.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Crayon Catastrophe: Part II

Last week, I told you about my crayon catastrophe and how to clean your dryer.  In that post, I also told you that I had put the clothes in a black garbage bag and stuffed them back into the dryer.  Well, obviously, they came out of the dryer, but until today, they did not even come out of the garbage bag. 
(Yea, I know.  At least I only use the avoidance tactic on my house and not my relationships.)

I am not sure why I stalled for so long, but I was very intimidated by these clothes.  I had asked so many people about solutions for my problem and I heard anything from, "throw them away, you won't get it out" to "use and iron and wax paper to transfer the wax to the paper".   There were so many possibilities so I just decided to ignore it!  ha!

Well, today, I conquered my fear!  I had talked to my sister in law and she suggested using Borax.  Honestly, I had never even heard of it.  After doing some more research, I decided that this was it...I was going to try it!

So, today, I took my garbage bag full of crayon covered clothes,

And my cleaning products,
And prayed for success. 

I put my laundry in the washing machine, put in my normal amount of laundry detergent, a 1/2 cup of Borax, used hot water, AND...


It worked!!!  WOOHOO!  Excited might just be an understatement!  I was worried I'd have to spend countless hours with an iron and wax paper and all it took was adding another ingredient into my wash! 

Needless to say, I will be keeping Borax on hand for the rest of my life!  I bet it works wonders on spit up baby clothes too!  I feel like I have discovered something huge here!

Do you have any other secret weapons that I should know about!???

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Living With A.D.D.

What a week!  Sorry for the lack of posts this week!  The doctor put me on a new A.D.D. medication and WOW, it has messed me up!  Yes, I have a big way!

I was actually diagnosed when I was in third grade.  Back then, I had several days of testing and was then sent to a psychologist that specialized in that arena.  Over the years, in addition to medication, my parents and I worked hard to try and figure out what would work best for me.   Life, as a kid, was always a struggle for me.  NOTHING was easy.  School was hard, social stuff was hard, my home-life was hard...EVERYTHING was hard.  It was quite defeating but my parents were so wonderful about reminding me that I was created for a purpose.  Eventually, I would find my purpose and all of these struggles were helping me become the person that I needed to be when that revelation came.  What amazes me, is that they were right!

Once I graduated college, I stopped taking my medication.  For some reason, I had always equated my A.D.D. to school.  After having little C, I couldn't keep ANYTHING together.  It didn't matter how many lists, calendars, and organizing tools I had, it wasn't working.  It really made me doubt my worth and ability to be a mother and a wife.  In addition to the anxiety I already suffered from, I was more anxious than ever because I couldn't see ANYTHING clearly.  What was wrong with me?

Eventually, I went to the doctor and told them that something was CLEARLY wrong.  I didn't know what it was, but I needed to figure it out.  I couldn't go on like this...I was miserable.  She referred me over to the psychologist to talk about adult A.D.D.  I went to my appointment and spoke to him for all of 10 mintues before he stopped me and said, "Jeanne, I don't even need to test you.  You pass with flying colors.  A.D.D. does not stop when school stops, its about how your brain works.  Let's address this."

I cried.

I cried because I felt embarrassed, I cried because I was relieved that someone was going to help me, and I cried because I felt like I should have known.

We started back on medication and bi-weekly appointments.  He was great because, like I had learned about my learning style when I was younger, he wanted to teach me techniques to manage life that would help me to be successful as an adult.  He also helped me to understand that A.D.D. is not a bad thing, it's part of who I am!  Because of it, I can bring things to the table that many other people can't.

Since then, I have been able to adjust my life to work WITH my A.D.D.  My laundry room, organization of clothes, and cleaning schedule are all examples of ways that I do this.  I try to organize my life in a way that is broken down to begin with so I don't have to break it down as I go.  In addition to this, my husbands support is HUGE.  He knows to take over specific tasks when I get overwhelmed.  If the kitchen or laundry are ever out of control, he will step in and get them back to a manageable place. 

Before I end this post, I just want to say that A.D.D. is a very real thing.  When my husband and I got married, he was of the opinion that it wasn't 'real', just an excuse.  He quickly adjusted his opinion.  If you or somebody you know is ever struggling to understand what it is like, just follow these steps and it will be clear.

1. Get a book, headphones with loud music, a few kids, and a drum.
2. Tell the kids to scream, run, jump, and talk as loudly as they can.
3. Have someone bang on the drum
4. Put on your headphones
5. Start reading

Now, do you remember what you read?  Were you able to focus?

While this is an obvious example, this is daily life.  When I walk into a store, the background music is SO LOUD and I am distracted by the slightest thing.  I do not have the ability to weed this stuff out.  It is SO FRUSTRATING!  Eventually, I will get so overwhelmed by everything that is going on and will just shut down and quit.

So, there you have it.  I was actually not planning on writing about this today, but I guess it was inspired...haha.  I hope this helps someone to understand what its like to live with A.D.D. or helps another mom know that there are others out there who are struggling just as much.  Now you know just a little bit more of my heart...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Well, today is officially my one month blogging anniversary!  Yea, I know, not very long, but exciting nonetheless!  In celebration of this milestone (okay, I'm taking this a little far...haha) I am going to repost my very first post.  Tomorrow, I'll be back with something fresh and new!
Without further ado, 'Just Spit On It'
When my son, little P, started walking/running, we had to deal with the inevitable drama that surrounded his frequent falls. I was bound and determined to ignore my maternal instinct to run for him EVERYTIME he found himself on the ground. Rather, I wanted to give him room to stand back up, dust himself off, and keep going, reassuring him the whole time that he could do it!

I quickly noticed how my reaction directly effected his reaction. If I looked worried when he fell, he'd cry. If I looked at him, smiled, and said, "uh oh! Its okay, get back up!" he'd smile, get back up, and keep moving. Mommy lesson learned, have control over your
facial expressions!

So, when that first big fall came, the one with blood, I was amazed at how my husband handled it. He took the same approach that we had taken on the little falls. He scooped my son up, put him on the picnic table, and told him to spit on it. GROSS! Well, it worked. Little P spit on his boo-boo to 'clean it' and magically felt all better. Despite the fact that it did actually hurt and needed a bandaid, my husband was able to dedramatize the situation.

As simple as falling down is, especially when your toddler is learning to walk, there is definitely something to be said for learning how your own reactions can either dramatize or deflate a situation. Our kids watch us with great intensity. They see everything that we do. It is in these lessons, that we realize that we have the opportunity to teach self control and confidence even in the simplest of moments.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nipping Whining In The Bud

With two toddlers under foot, whining could easily become a second language in our house.  Once Little C reached an age where she could communicate pretty openly, there was a pretty dramatic increase in whining.  Not because Little C is a whiny girl, more because Little P was so behind in his speech that he was being pushed along by his little sister.  They were at about the same level in their language and they were both quickly figuring out ways to get what they wanted faster!
I noticed this trend shortly after we moved into our new house.  I decided to give it a little time to see if it was related to the move but after a few weeks, it only continued to get worse.  I knew I had to nip it in the bud...IMMEDIATELY. 
I'm not quite sure where I came up with the idea, but one day it just hit me;     Don't listen!

I remember standing over the stove, remembering my middle school days and how if I wouldn't react to the girls who were being mean, they would stop because it took the fun out of it.  All they wanted was a rise.
I want my kids to tell me when they need something. I love when my kids sit in the kitchen and talk to me while I'm cooking. But, I DO NOT like when they stand at my feet whining. And let me tell you, that will not be rewarded with my attention. I want to give them positive and appropriate attention.

So, this is what I did.  Keeping in mind my tone of voice (thanks SuperNanny), I began responding to their whines with,
"Ooooh, [Little P or Little C], mommy doesn't hear whining.  I only hear talking.  If you would like to talk to mommy, I will listen."
I said this is a completely calm but direct fashion.  No irritation, no frustration, just plain and simple, matter of fact.  And then until they could change it around, no attention was paid to them.  At first they didn't quite know what to do with it so I started suggesting words for them.  For instance, if Little C was whining for milk, I would say,
"Oooooh Little C, mommy doesn't hear whining.  I only hear talking.  Can you say, 'mommy may I have some milk please?'"  And sure enough, 9 times out of 10, they respond WITHOUT whining.  At that point, I always respond with, "oh, THANK YOU for talking!  Mommy doesn't like whining!" and usually a high five.
Now, after doing this for a few months, they've got it.  Generally, all I have to say is 'mommy doesn't hear whining, I only hear talking' and they will adjust their tone of voice and words. 
Now, if challenging a whine ever leads to a fit (and there is a difference between an attitude fit and a melt-down fit) that is also handled quickly.  When this happens, it is usually my son and I just tell him that if he chooses to scream and throw a fit, he can do that in his room.  If it continues, he goes to his room and I 'tell him' (meaning he's usually screaming so there isn't much of a conversation) that he can come downstairs when he has a smile on his face.  At three years old, he knows exactly what I am saying and follows the instructions.  Most of the time, he simply needs time to recollect himself...but it's not happening in the kitchen and the rest of us are enjoying our day.  Remember, we are a family centered family, not a child centered family.
With all of this said, I do take into consideration extraordinary circumstances (I.E. missed naps, sick, change of routine, etc.).  In those situations, my tolerance level is higher but they are not gone.  We still have to keep it together within reason.
So, this is my technique for whining and it has saved my sanity!  At two and three years old, these sweet kiddos know exactly what they are doing when they whine.  Not only that, but they burst with such incredible pride when they catch themselves whining and correct it without me even saying anything!
What is hilarious is that if we are out and they hear other children whining, they will often tell me, "Mommy, he should TALK.  No whining!"  Proof!  They get it!

Making a Few Changes: Friday Feature

When I started this blog, my intentions were to link up with other parents, trade what has worked for us, and support one another.  I have always enjoyed hearing other mothers talking about their successes (and failures) because it can often take the guess work out of my day.

In order to broaden our spectrum of advice, I have decided to start something new!  Starting next Friday, October 21st, I will begin a Friday Feature.  From now on, my Friday blog will be written by a dad or a grandparent.  My plan is to alternate between the two every week.

I always find it interesting to hear my husbands' take on situations and why he does things the way that he does them.  Usually, its incredibly practical and I have learned so much from him!   Given the basic differences between men and women, there is a reason we were created to compliment each other.  We have totally different vantage points and its time to hear his side of the story!

Likewise, I LOVE listening to parents who have already 'been there, done that'.  By far, my #1 mama resources are my parents and my in-laws.  I call with questions often and, to be honest, they are usually right.  Like they say, hindsight is 20/20...well, I want to hear that 20/20. 

So, put it on your calendar!  On October 21st, this blog will turn into The Common Sense Grandparent.  And who else to start this new feature off than...


I am so excited to hear what these dads and grandparents have to say! 

If you are a grandparent or father or want to suggestion someone, feel free to e-mail me at 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Activity Idea: The Big Thank You

If you are looking for an activity to do with your children, I've got it!

The Atlanta Radio Show, Q100's Bert Show, is trying to collect 400,000+ letters to send the troops for Thanksgiving. 

As the wife of a veteran, I can tell you that letters from home go a long way.  We all know or know of somebody who has served our country.  They have sacrificed on our behalf and now its time to say thank you!

I love having opportunities, outside of our normal routine, to teach my children about serving others.  It is such an important lesson especially when everything inside of them is screaming 'me, me ,me'!  This is a super tangible way that I can show them how easy it is to serve somebody else, similarly to how the troops are serving for us.  Outside of the activity, we spend time talking about the mommy's and daddy's (everybody over the age of 15 is considered a mommy or daddy in my kids eyes) who are away from their families keeping us VERY safe.  It helps me to give them another example of generosity.
So, PLEASE join my children and I and write, color, and paint letters for these hero's.  When we are sitting at home enjoying our turkey dinners, they will be out standing tall protecting the country that we are celebrating. 
Please click here to read the information.  Thank you again for supporting our troops!

Little P waiting for my husband to arrive last summer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Crayon Catastrophe

The other day was laundry day.  I was on my second load and about to switch my third and final load from the wash to the dryer.  I opened my dryer, took out the clothes, and saw this:


Seriously?  C'mon!  Once I saw that, I immediately looked down at the clothes that I had just pulled out.  They. Were. Covered.  AHHHHHH!  So frustrating!

So, my way of coping with this frustrating situation?  I got out a garbage bag, put all of those clothes in it, shoved it all back in the dryer, and shut the door.  Not dealing with it!

Well, that plan could only last a few days b/c my second laundry day was coming up.  So, today, I decided to face least the dryer.  (The clothes are still in the garbage bag in the hallway.  I'll let ya know how I deal with that.)

I did a little bit of investigation and began my cleaning.  This is what I used:

WD-40, a soft cloth, dish soap, and a sponge.
(You should have seen my husbands face when I told him that I needed the WD-40 for my dryer...oh, ye of little faith!)

I began by spraying the WD-40 on the soft cloth and wiped over all of the marks.  While it lightened them, it did not get rid of them.  So, then I put soap on the tough side of the sponge and scrubbed.  It came off pretty quickly, but it definitely took a lot of elbow grease.  I repeated this all over the dryer drum and this is what I ended with:

Pretty good!  There are still some faint marks but I think thats fine.  It took about 20 minutes to thoroughly clean the entire dryer and I'll admit, my arms and hands are TIRED.

So, if you ever find yourself with a crayon filled dryer, here's your solution.  OR, if you are finding your arms to be a bit flabby this would also be a good solution!  Either way, I have learned my lessons!  I will never NOT check pockets ever again!  Scrubbing my dryer is not exactly how I picture myself spending nap time!

Work in Progress...

Obviously, I am not very good at this whole 'blogging' thing because I thought that my 'Work in Progress" post would only be seen on The Common Sense Wife, Dad, and Grandparents pages.  BUT, since it went onto the main page, I guess I'll just fill you in.

I have a plan.  My hope for this site is to feature a few posts a week from dads, grandparents, and topics related to marriage.  I love hearing other prespectives so I wanted to share them with you! 

So, I'm not sure when these posts will start but I will surely let you know. 

Thank you for your support thus far...I am having a blast and I hope you are enjoying it as well!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Make Memories!

Have you heard the new Trace Adkin's song?  If not, take a moment and listen.

When I first heard this song, it brought me to tears.  It reminded me of my childhood and the memories that I have with my family.  Like most children, I remember begging my parents to do everything under the sun KNOWING that it would 'mean' so much!  Well, guess what, I don't remember going to Disney World, I don't remember specifics about snow skiing trips, and I don't remember any of the toys that I had to have.
What I do remember is all of those countless hours my dad spent driving the boat so my brothers and I could tube and water ski at the lake.  I remember singing and dancing in the car with my mom.  I remember my brother and I BELTING out Backstreet Boys and NSYNC on the way to school.  I have so many fond memories of my childhood and very few of them have to do with a whole lot of hoopla.
After hearing this song, it got me thinking about how we are raising our children.  Are we trying to make memories or buy them?  Or are we so wrapped up with our day to day life that we're not even finding time for special moments?
Thankfully, I married a fantastic man who is so eager to share his childhood memories with our kids.  By the time Little P was 15 months, he had already gone on his first overnight camping trip...boys only.  I have LOVED watching him take the kids hiking and camping in the woods behind our house, fishing at the pond down the street, and spending countless hours in the backyard playing basketball and baseball.  He's making memories.

Likewise, during the course of our everyday, its hard for me to remember to make memories and not go from one chore to the next.  Will my kids remember the laundry always being done on time?  No.  Will they remember if their bathroom was always sparking?  Definitely not.  Will they remember that I sang my heart out with them in the car?  Probably. 

By no means am I saying that our daily chores should fall to the wayside, but I am saying that we need to remember that not to get caught up in our brain and forget to see whats in front of us.  So, take a break from the day to day and take the kids into the woods for a hike and a picnic, dress up in a silly costume and have a dance party, or whatever your kids' little heart desires.  After all, they only stay this little for a day.  Tomorrow they will be just a little bit bigger...

Mama Recommendation: Toddler Sleep Clock

A few months ago, we were having some serious problems with our two toddlers (2 and 3) waking up at the crack of dawn, really, BEFORE dawn.  We searched high and low for suggestions on what to do and finally came upon the

KIDS"Sleep Classic Toddler Sleep Training Clock
At first, I was very impatient so I thought it didn't work.  But I was wrong!  If you give it a little time, make the kids excited, and keep reminding them of what to do, it will work!

All you have to do is set the time that you want your toddler to get out of bed, tell them to wait until the bunny is awake, and WA-LA!  Like I said, be patient, it may take a week or two for them to fully grasp the full concept but now it is such an exciting thing for them to walk out of their room screaming, "Good Morning Mommy!  The bunny is awake!" 

The other nice feature of this clock is that you can also set it for naptime.

This is just another resource that has helped to make my life easier and helped me to be more rested and prepared for my day! 

Do you have any sleep tricks for your kids?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Daily Grind

Lately, I have received a lot of questions about our day to day routine. 
Before I lay out our typical day, I want to say that I am a huge believer in making your routine work for you...the mom.  When I was pregnant with Little P, I read something that made so much sense to me.  It said to make your home a FAMILY centered home, not a child centered home. Meaning, as an adult, we have the ability to look at the big picture to see what works for the WHOLE family, parents included, not just the kids.  This means, within reason, mom and dad make the schedule.  That was a huge revelation to me and boy has it changed the way I parent.  Of course, you are going to have your days where nothing goes as planned but on a typical day-to-day basis, mama sets the schedule.

So, our general routine with a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and 10 month old is as follows:
6:30-7:30 They wake up   
           Get Dressed
8:30-11:00 Mini C's first nap
                                                                Kiddos are usually playing, doing an activity, etc
12:30 Lunch         
              1:00-4:00 All kids are down for nap
5:30 Dinner      
6:00 Bath time  
    6:45 Mini C to bed
               7:30 Little P and C to bed
So, that's it.  Every parent has to come to the point of deciding whether they want their kids to stay up late and sleep in or go to bed early and wake up early.  For my husband and I, we need that time every night to unwind and spend time together.  For others, sleeping in the morning is important.  Its all in personal preference. 
The only point I have to make is that you have recognize that as a mom, you have to take care of yourself.  Make sure your daily schedule works for you and gives you a little break somewhere so you can gather and prepare yourself to finish your day.  You can only put out so much before it becomes too much.  Your glass also need to be filled up...make time for that to happen, even if its 5 minutes.

Mama Sale Alert: Signing Time

I am the BIGGEST 'Signing Time' fan!  We were introduced to signing time when my son was 16 months.  He was not talking at all and we needed to find a way for him to communicate.  It was AMAZING!  Within one week, he had over 50 signs! 

I had never really entertained the idea of teaching my kids sign language, but once it was a necessity and therefore carried over to my other children, I have been forever changed!

Besides the 'love it' factor that it was the ONLY show I could get my kids to watch when they were little, it also made life so much easier.  By 9 months, both of my girls have been able to communicate their basic needs and desires.

Most people are concerned that by teaching their children sign language, it will delay their speech.  This is not the case.  Both of my girls have been right in line, or early, for talking.  If anything, it has added to their vocabulary and ability to communicate what they are trying to say.  Additionally, I found it easier to help my son LEARN to talk because he could sign what he was trying to say and I could help him SAY it.  Took the tandrum right out of the equation and added confidence.

Today, 10/10/2011, is offering 25% off of anything in celebration of Rachel Coleman's birthday (she's one of the co-founders and the woman on the DVDs).  I HIGHLY recommend all four Baby Signing Time DVDs to start signing with your little one.

I also highly recommend reading her blog as her life is an inspiration for mothers everywhere.  With two children with disabilities, she and her husband are DETERMINED to not let their disabilities define them.  So incredible.  Go back a bit and read forward.

Happy Signing!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

When Less Is More

As a busy mom, I am always trying to find ways to simplify my life.
Less dishes?  Tell me how!
Less Laundry?  I'll do it!
I wanted to share with you a few things that I have done to simplify my day-to-day.
Bottles and Sippy Cups
After learning the hard way and having a sink like this:

I vowed to never to do it like this again!  I learned my lesson.
Now, whether I am pumping or using formula, I never have more than 3 bottles...EVER!  I have to admit, I was little skeptical of my own idea but it made my life SO much easier.  Not only did I not have a sink full of bottles but it FORCED me to clean them almost immediately which meant that I usually did one or two other dishes while I was standing there.  It really helped with not letting the dishes get out of control.
So, once the kiddos got to the sippy cup stage, I refused to have this:
For some personalities, that works.  For me...O.V.E.R W.H.E.L.M.I.N.G.
So, each of my kids has 2-3 sippy cups.  One is for water and then the other one is for juice or milk.  There is no specific designation, I just always have a water cup going and they get a cup of juice with breakfast and usually a cup of milk at some point throughout the day.  At the end of the day, its super easy to round up the cups and pop them into the dishwasher.  Works for me!
Dishes and the Dishwasher
Dishes, oh, dishes.  You can ask my mother and she will tell you that I HATE doing dishes.  My father-in-law, whether he knows it or not, always has this special way of doing the dishes when he visits.  There is no better gift.  I don't know what it is about it, I just HATE them! 
Anyways, given that they are necessary, I have had to learn to love accept them.  What I have discovered is that even if I don't do the dishes all throughout the day, I DO NOT sit down at night until they are done.  Period.  My kitchen has to be done before I sit down to read, watch TV, go to bed, etc.  For me, there is nothing worse than waking up to work.
As of now, I only have three kids (yes, yes, I'll cover the whole 'how many do you want' question another time)  so, generally, I only have to run the dishwasher once a day.  I have struggled to find the 'perfect' time to run it and have finally decided that starting it right before I go upstairs for the night is the best.  This way, I can load it all throughout the day, unload it in the morning, and then start all over.  My bottles, sippy cups, bowls, and spoons are always ready in the morning for breakfast. 
If you haven't read it already, here is my clothing system.  In short, at the beginning of each season/size, each child gets:
8 daily outifts
6 PJs
1 Extra Pair of Jeans
2 Church Outfits
Any seasonal pieces necessary
Seriously, a lifesaver on the laundry front but also on the organizing and shopping front!
Without a doubt in the world, I have found that less is WAY more when it comes to most kid things.  The more I have, the more chaos there is.  So, simplify, simplify, simplify is the name of my game.  Sometimes it requires more immediate discipline on my part but in the long run, it makes my life so much better.  And lets face it, there's some truth the saying, 'If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy'. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mama Recommendation: Scentsy

My friend, Lauren, sells Scentsy.

Because she knows of my aversion to smelly things (I get serious headaches), she never told me about it. 

But, once September hit, I had this incredible desire to have SOMETHING fall smelling in my house.  (It was probably because of all of Lauren's blog posts about making apple cider, fall decorating, and pumpkin pies.) Anyways, I looked into a few different options but didn't try TOO hard.  Finally, I decided to call Lauren and ask her about scentsy.  My biggest concern was my headaches and I wanted to know if there were any scents that were either very mild or could be controlled. 
I was DELIGHTED when she told me that you could use as much or as little of the wax therefore controlling the strength of the aroma.  So, after she told me, much to my surprise, how incredibly affordable scentsy is, I decided to try it out and buy one. 

Enchanted Mid-Size Warmer with the Pumpkin Roll Scent

Isn't it pretty?  It looks so pretty on my kitchen counter!

Anyways, for those of you who don't know how it works, here's a little run down.  Scentsy uses ZERO fire.  It is not a candle (very child friendly).  Instead, the light you see coming through the holes is from a lightbulb.  You place your wax bar on the plate on top, turn it on, watch the wax melt, and fill your home/office/whatever with a wonderful smell!  What is amazing is that in order to get another scent, you don't have to buy another warmer, just pay $5 for the new scent block, AND THATS IT!  AMAZING!

So, I HIGHLY recommend scentsy.  I can't tell you how excited I am to order my Christmas Tree Scent for Christmas...WOOHOO!  If I didn't already have my Christmas gifts, I know quite a few sister-in-laws, mothers, and grandmothers who would be recieving one of these.  I. LOVE. IT.

Hop on over to Laurens Scentsy page and check it out!
Checkout through Lauren Beckers party.
I can tell you now, if you buy from her, you are supporting a military wife who is preggo with baby boy #2.  Seriously, she's the kind of girl you want to support! 
If you want to read more about Lauren, her family, and her style, this is her blog:

Have a great fall weekend!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Will Never Understand...

Just over 4 months ago, one of my dear friends was killed by the father of her children.  There is no denying that their relationship was not healthy but she had left him, was back in school, and the kids were happy.  While he was always in the back of everybody's mind, we were so proud of what she was accomplishing.  She was finally moving on.

For some reason, he felt it necessary to take her life during a custody swap.  While I understand that he was/is unstable, it just doesn't make sense.  I have no understanding of how a person can drive to a place for the purpose of taking the life of another...his children's MOTHER at that! 

Shannon was one of the most joyful people I have ever known.  Over the course of their relationship, she dealt with some crazy stuff but we NEVER heard her speak badly of him.  She prayed for him CONSTANTLY and she respected him as the father of her children.

Her funeral was, by far, one of the most stunning experiences I have ever had.  There were over 1000 people in attendance.  I clearly remember watching her casket passing my pew.  It just did not compute.  How could one of MY friends be gone just like that.  That COULDN'T be Shannon's body in there.  How?

Over time, the sting has dulled but there are still those days that get me.  Usually, it's when I am least expecting it but most needing it.  Today, it has hit me like a brick wall.  The anticipation of tomorrows court date is overwhelming.  The thought that people who do not love Shannon as we do are going to decide the fate of the man who killed her.

  I'm angry. I'm aggrevated that he gets to be defended.  More than anything, I miss her.  It is in these moments that I hear Shannon perfectly.  She just wants me to pray.  For him.  For the judge.  For everybody who is involved in this thing.  When I let her into my heart, she brings a peace, but with that peace, I can no longer be mad.  For me, thats a hard thing to give up.  It makes me feel like I am somewhat in control.

So, even though I may be struggling to get there, I ask you to please pray.  Pray for Shannon's family, her children, and her friends and family.  Pray for the judge, the lawyers, and the jurors.  And because I know Shannon would have it no other way,
pray for him.

One of my friends, Natalie, made this video shortly after she died.  It has helped me a lot, especially in my moments of anger. 

So, readers, meet Shannon.  She was SUCH a cool girl.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wise Words

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
--Steve Jobs

You Can Call Me 'The Fruit Fly Killer'

Fruit Flies.  I HATE fruit flies.

For some reason, I have had this crazy infestation of fruit flies for the last month.  I have no idea why.  I have cleaned and cleaned and cleaned.  All dirty diapers go outside immediately.  I have swept like a crazy woman.  I have been wiping down the counter and table after every meal.  EVERYTHING!

Still...they continued to annoy me day in and day out.

Yesterday, I had it!  I was going to conquer these things even if I had to run around my house with a spray bottle spraying every last little wing...I was going to win!

So, yesterday, in my crazed fury, I googled it.  Yes, you heard me, I GOOGLED it...DUH!!!

So this is what I learned. 

Get small bowl and add a cup of apple cider vinegar and few drops of dish soap

Now, sit back, and wait for them to...well, you know...drown.

This was after an hour and a half.  AMAZING!

Happy Fruit Fly Killing!

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