September 30, 2014

How to Train your Toddler to Pick up Their Toys


Clean up Clean Up
I'm seeing a parenting theme in my posts this week.
Please don't think I'm an expert in parenting because I am soooooo NOT. Trust me, this parenting gig is hard. SO hard! And I often get it wrong….not just daily, more like hourly.
Ok so after many, many…..many months of trying to get the girls to pick up their toys, I think I've finally figured it out!
It's so simple.
Are you ready to hear what it is?
Ok.
Here it is.
A timer.
Duh.
How many of you use a timer for yourself for tasks? I know I do. I have to. I get distracted otherwise.  So why not use it for your kids?
One night, out of desperation (again with the desperation…see? Parenting. Hard.) I downloaded a (free) timer app for kids on my iPad and you know what? IT WORKED!
Since the girls have no concept of time I found an app that uses a picture that is slowly uncovered as time passes. It also plays music…which can be annoying but if my kids are picking up their toys, I can deal.
Here's what I do:
  1. I tell them to get their shopping carts (or you could use a basket or shopping bag…basically anything that they can use to collect their toys.
  2. I tell them to go through the house and any toy that is not in the playroom needs to be collected in their shopping cart and dumped into their playroom.
  3. Then I set the timer for 15 minutes. (I will often tell them where the toys are that need to be collected)
  4. Once they have dumped all of their toys in their playroom, I set the timer again for 15 minutes and tell them to put all of the toys in the floor in their proper places.
Now when I tell them it's time to pick up their toys, they ask, no, beg for the timer.  I have to put it where they can see it because they love trying to guess what picture I have chosen (I recently paid to upgrade the app so I could use other pictures and pictures from my camera roll).
We have been using the timer app for about a month now and I'm happy to say it still works.



Here's a few pointers if you decide to try this….
  • Limit the amount of time to 15 minutes – setting a time over 15 minutes for 2-4 year olds is pointless since they have very short attention spans.
  • Direct them on what to pick up – toddlers get overwhelmed by the big messes they make and don't have a clue where to begin when picking up. Tell them certain things to pick up like "pick up the blocks and put them in their box"
  • Help them pick up – I usually get the girls started and then I go do my own picking up. If I hear them playing or notice they've gotten off task, I go in and get them back on track. Yes, this means you'll do a lot of the picking up but remember, you are training them and one day (hopefully soon) they will be doing it all by themselves!
I hope this helps! If you try it, please let me know if it worked for you.


September 29, 2014

How to get Your Busy Toddlers to Eat


Muffin Tin-Get Your Toddlers to Eat
The girls are at the age where it's hard to get them to slow down enough to stop and eat a full meal. Along with that has come some frustration on our part because come bed time, they tell us they're hungry. They are also at the age where they try to delay bedtime so we never know if they are truly hungry or just delaying the inevitable.
Now I know the muffin tin meal idea is not a new thing.  I had never tried it because I just thought it was a fun way to serve your child(ren)'s food to get you cool mom points with other moms. Then one day, out of desperation to get my children's bellies full, I decided to try it.
Muffin Tin Meal-Lunch Snacks
The girls loved it and had fun emptying each section and crumpling up the liners to throw in the trash. They went on and on about how good the food was and said, "this is fun!"
I have to admit though, finding a variety of foods small enough to fit in the tins can prove to be challenging. I started off with simple and healthy snack type foods. Eventually they started asking for sandwiches so I used cookie cutters for sandwiches and that has worked well. I have also cut up them up into strips.
Muffin Tin Meal-PB&J
As with anything, the fun-ness of it tends to wear off so I have backed off of serving their food this way for every meal. I might do it once every other day or so. It just depends on what type of foods I decide to serve that day.
So what I learned from this is that if you want to get your toddler/preschooler to eat more/better, just try serving their food in new ways. Don't worry about going out and spending a lot of money on fancy containers and gadgets. In all honesty, your children don't really care about that stuff.  All you need to do is change up they way you serve their food every once in a while. Grab a special or new to them plate or bowl and I promise they will be excited about eating.
Muffin Tin Meal-Quesadillas
How do you get your children to eat? I'd love to add some ideas to my list!

September 28, 2014

This Week's Meal Plan

The price of groceries are going up.

The cost of meat is shocking. Produce is high too.

Our budget isn't able to change with the rising prices either so I'm having to get thrifty.

I sort of stopped couponing. I was getting good deals but still had to buy other groceries (that I didn't have coupons for) so I ended up going over budget every month. We also only have one grocery store chain in town that doubles coupons but they keep changing their policy so it's hard to keep up. We won't even discuss how hard it is to run around to all the stores with the twin tornados. With that said, I may have to get back to it…maybe find a new approach.

Anyway, our meals are getting more and more simple. I planned this week's meals using as much of the stuff we already had on hand. My grocery list ended up being meat and basics like milk and coffee. I still ended up spending almost half of our budget for the week. It's so frustrating.

Sept 28-Oct 4 Meal Plan

On Thursdays we have been having tacos for dinner. They are on sale for $0.49 on Thursdays so I can feed my family for $5 or less!

So how do you feel about the rising prices on groceries? Got any thrifty advice for the rest of us?

September 26, 2014

Heaven on a Graham Cracker

I was going through pictures on my phone today and came across a picture of a super yummy snack. I shared it on Instagram but I'd thought I'd share it here too.

Graham Cracker Treat

I was kind of surprised at how many people hadn't heard of this little treat. Maybe it's a southern thing?

I made it one day this summer for my niece and nephew. They had never had it. They couldn't stop talking about how delicious it was. It was kind of funny watching them eat it. :)

Anyway, here it is.

Are you ready?

It's only 2 ingredients.

  • 1 Can Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Graham Crackers

Spread frosting on graham cracker and top with another graham cracker.

Enjoy!


heather

September 23, 2014

Bath Time Shenanigans

TnT overall are good kids. When we are out, people stop me and tell me how good they are being. The cashiers at Target love them and are always giving them stickers.

However, this is not always the case……

Bath Time Shenanigans

The other night, I thought I would be fun mom and let the girls take a bath in our tub. The girls were beyond excited when I told them my plan.

I grabbed all of their bath essentials from their bathroom and headed down the hall to our master bathroom. When I saw how dirty our tub was (oops) ,I told the girls I had to clean out the tub first and I went back down the hall to the laundry room and grabbed some tub cleaner.

When I got back to our room, one of the girls had the bottle of body wash in her hands and was playing with it. I took it away and said, "this is only for the bath tub" and then I began to clean the tub. They went into our room and were wrestling and giggling.

Suddenly, just as I started rinsing the tub, I heard coming from our bedroom, "Sissy! You got soap on me!"

I immediately stopped what I was doing to see what was going on. What I found horrified me.

Here is the scene that I saw:

Girl #1 is standing on our bed across from Girl #2.

Girl #2 had somehow managed to sneak the body wash away once again and had the OPENED BOTTLE POINTED AT GIRL #1!

Also seen was a nice long stream of Veggie Tales Lavender body wash ON MY FAIRLY NEW COMFORTER.

To say I was upset is an understatement. I was so NOT ready to extend any grace to my children in that moment.

I yelled their names and then immediately yelled for JMac. When he arrived, I walked away. I had to. I needed a time out.

Because I needed to vent, I sent off a 'guess what your grandchildren just did' text to my mom to which she responded, "I don't even have words."  Me either Mom, me either.

Eventually I calmed down and they got their bath…..but not in my big fun tub.

Got any stories like this about your kids? I'd love to know my children aren't the only ones that pull these kinds of stunts.

heather

September 22, 2014

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

A lot of the things I make now for my family are meals I had growing up.

Since I'm a meat and potatoes kind of girl, this Swiss Steak recipe is one of my favorites.

The best part about this recipe? It can be made on the stove or in the crockpot!!

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak

I typically serve it with mashed potatoes (using the extra sauce as gravy) and corn. JMac likes to layer his with the mashed potatoes as the base, then the steak & gravy and tops it off with corn.

Crockpot Swiss Steak
(Right click on recipe card to save or print.)

Bon Appetite!


heather

September 21, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan

Grocery day isn't until the end of the week so we are down to slim pickin's around here.

Sometimes I'm thankful for having to scrounge through the freezer and pantry to come up with meals because it usually means simpler meals that leave more time for family, working and relaxing.

Sept 21-27 Meal Plan

What are you eating this week?


heather

September 19, 2014

Home Tour: Theatre Room

I think the theatre room is officially the first room that is ready for a tour! To be totally honest, it has been the easiest one to furnish and decorate.

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Since our "new" (post tornado) house has basically the same footprint as the "old" (pre-tornado)house, I thought it would be fun to show you what the theatre room/man cave looked like before.

 Loft 00009Loft 00010 Loft 00011

And here's the new and improved version! (Just FYI, it's hard photographing a room with no natural light and two different kinds of lighting!)

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We ordered posters of each of our favorite movies to personalize the space.

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Our bar area was relocated to accommodate a second row of theatre chairs. It just made more sense this way.

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We added a little nook  across from the sink to house a mini fridge, microwave and shelving for components. I like that it's tucked away because the movies on those shelves? They're usually not that organized. Also, I need to move the rest of the movies up there.

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Just some of the small details….

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Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

heather

September 17, 2014

Lesson Planner Freebie

Our homeschool preschool is going good! I'm still trying to get into a groove with lesson planning though.

Finding or coming up with lessons can be pretty overwhelming. Pinterest has a plethora of lessons and activities but finding the right ones to fill up our week is quite a task! I tend to over plan but I'd rather have too many activities prepared than not enough.

Like I said, I'm still trying to find my groove.

I designed these very simple lesson planner pages to help me stay organized. I haven't offered a freebie in a while so I thought I'd share with all of you!

Not homeschooling? No worries. These pages are so basic you could easily use them for other tasks!

Lesson Planner Pages

 

Click on Picture to download.

Happy Planning!

heather

September 16, 2014

Our Fall Schedule

We started our new schedule last week. By Tuesday I was completely exhausted (I took a 2 hour nap with the girls if that tells you anything). Of course, we were all getting over head colds so some of that exhaustion may have been because we were a little bit under the weather.

I tried my best to have our week planned out but it turns out, life doesn't always happen according to a schedule…..especially if you have toddlers.

We went from having basically no schedule to a pretty busy one. We now have speech therapy twice a week, bible study once a week and homeschool. Not to mention I'm also trying to keep up with a blog and an Etsy shop. I'm also trying to fit in some exercise by walking a couple times per week.

New Schedule Week 1-Park

This was our first day of our new schedule….

I woke up way past my alarm and rushed to get in the shower before the girls woke up. While I'm in the shower they show up peering at me in the shower. I finished up quickly and got out of the shower.

I turned on cartoons to keep the girls busy so I could finish getting ready. Once I was ready, I threw some Eggo's in the toaster and gathered up all the stuff we needed to take with us to speech.

As herd the girls out the door I grabbed the Eggo's out of the toaster and passed them out. We got in the car and headed out (but not before I said "GET IN YOUR SEAT SO I CAN BUCKLE YOU IN") five million times.

We barely made it to speech on time. It went quickly and before I knew it we were headed back to the car and heading home.

When we got home, I grabbed stuff to make lunch and got it on the table right as scheduled. Once we were done, we headed upstairs to have school.

New Schedule Week 1

After school time, I attempted to enforce nap time. I failed. I ended up chasing toddlers and yelling "NO" six million times. I finally gave up and got everyone ready to head to the grocery store. Of course, the toddler twosome ended up falling asleep in the car on the way to the store. Good thing it's only 5 minutes away.

New Schedule Week 1-Nap

Surprisingly (and thankfully), we made it through the grocery store quickly and without any typical toddler behavior. We got home, unloaded the groceries, and I declared leftovers for dinner. The girls passed out on the couch at 4pm (there was that nap I was aiming for earlier).

The rest of our week went a little bit smoother but not much. By Friday I was done and it was raining so we ended up staying in our jammies and for school we worked on our fine motor skills with playdoh and pipe cleaners. Oh and we had a few dance parties.

New Schedule Week 1-Playdoh

Needless to say, I'm considering week one a trial run and am looking into making some adjustments this week.

It's all trial & error. We'll get there….eventually.


heather

September 15, 2014

Meal planning at it's best

So a couple things on this week's meal plan might look a little familiar to you. Obviously I'm not following my meal plans exactly. In my defense, last week was a little hectic being our first week of homeschool. I was exhausted by Tuesday!

Sept 14-20 Meal Plan

Just so you know, the breakfast and lunch meal plan didn't work out so great either. We're not good at doing breakfast and lunch. Let's just say my picky and demanding toddlers didn't exactly like everything I planned. I'm trying a whole new approach this week….two words.

Muffin.

Tins.

I'll report back soon.


heather

September 12, 2014

Football Party Food

When I throw football watch parties, I like to have food people can munch on throughout the game. The best way to do that is to have a food bar!

Here are some of my favorite food bar ideas.

Sandwich Bar

Sandwich Bar | Source

Hot Dog Bar

Hot Dog Bar | Source

Walking Taco Bar

Walking Taco Bar | Source

Soup Bar

Soup Bar | Source

Baked Potato Bar

Baked Potato Bar | Source

What's your favorite football/tailgating food?

Happy Friday!


heather

September 10, 2014

A Marble Tile Mishap and How We Fixed It




We had only been in the house for 12 days before our first major oopsie when it comes to household maintenance.

Just Wait til You have Kids | Usin a poultice to clean marble

As you can see in the picture above, our backsplash is marble subway tile. I knew very little about marble but I did know that it was porous and that in a practical sense, it's not recommended for kitchens. I didn't care. It was pretty and that's what I wanted so that's what I got!

The morning I walked into the kitchen and found the numerous grease spots on the backsplash above our cooktop, I nearly had a full on panic attack. I made sweet & sour chicken for dinner the night before and if you've ever made sweet & sour chicken, you know that you have to brown the chicken.

I thought we were very careful and didn't even think about the grease splattering on the backsplash. But I was exhausted from the previous 11 days of unpacking so I'm sure I didn't pay attention to a lot of things. ()

Anyway, I immediately texted JMac a picture (the grease spots really didn't show up very well in the picture) along with a very panicky text. Then we both began researching methods to hopefully undo my horrible mistake. He came home that day with a sack full of products used for marble. I had found a method of using a poultice of flour, water and a marble cleaner. We tried a few cleaners with our poultice and nothing seemed to work.

Poultice for Marble Mishaps

Finally, I decided hey, let's just keep it simple and try a poultice without a cleaner mixed in. So we made the poultice mixture one more time but this time, we did not add any cleaners. We just used plain old flour and water. We slathered that stuff all over the backsplash and waited overnight for it to dry.

Poultice Clean Up

The next morning I was so scared to scrape the poultice off the backsplash but I grabbed my Pampered Chef pizza stone scraper and got to work. Much to my surprise it had worked! My once beautiful marble backsplash was restored!

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We swore we'd seal the marble once we got it all cleaned up but to this day (4 months later) we still have not sealed it.

Ok so here's step by step instructions should you ever find yourself in this situation.

To make a Poultice:

  • Mix flour and water to make a paste like texture. It needs to be thick enough that it won't move or slide down (if on a wall).
  • Slather the mixture on the "stains". You will need to make sure the "stains" are completely covered
  • Let sit long enough to dry (we put the poultice on in the evening and let it sit overnight).
  • Gently scrape off dried poultice with a plastic scraper or a razor blade.
  • If stains are gone, wipe down well using hot soapy water.
  • Seal your marble! (Do as I say, not as I do. lol)

heather

*Linking up with Lamberts Lately for Create it Thursday

September 8, 2014

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I love mashed potatoes.

Sadly, my children don't. Sometimes I wonder if they are mine.

Garlic-Mashed-Potatoes_thumb2

I like to experiment with my mashed potatoes.

I have a secret ingredient that I often use. Want to know what it is?

Sour Cream. It makes them so creamy and adds a nice flavor.

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

September 7, 2014

Our Weekly Meal Plan

We are starting a CA-RA-ZY schedule this week so I became an overachiever and planned every meal for this week.

TnT (ok, mainly one of the T's) is so picky and they never can tell me what they want to eat for breakfast and lunch so I've planned those meals for them. If they don't eat, they have to wait until the next meal time.

I just need this week to go smoothly. :)

You're going to see carry over meals from last week because we had a couple of days where I changed up the menu. With the nasty cold I've had, I had a craving for some spicy Taco soup so we had that on Saturday and we ended up having leftovers today.

Sept 7-13 Meal Plan

Here is the girls' Breakfast and Lunch menu for the week;

Monday Breakfast – Eggo Wafflers
Monday Lunch – Turkey Sandwiches / Watermelon

Tuesday Breakfast – Cereal
Tuesday Lunch – PB&J / Carrot Sticks

Wednesday Breakfast – Strawberry Banana Smoothies
Wednesday Lunch – Chicken Nuggets / Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday Breakfast – Pancakes & Bacon
Thursday Lunch – Grilled Cheese / Strawberries

Friday Breakfast – Blueberry Muffins
Friday Lunch – Mini Pizzas / Peaches

I could really use some simple ideas for their meals since they are so picky. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment below!


heather

September 4, 2014

Our Homeschool Space

Our Homeschool Space

When we re-built our house, I knew the new craft room would possibly be used for our homeschool room should we decide to homeschool. With our decision to homeschool this year I really had to kick it into high gear to get it ready for school.

I began unpacking my boxes from my old craft room a couple of months ago. (I wanted all of that unpacked before I started on the homeschool part.) I started hauling one box at a time up the stairs to unpack but it was going slowly (especially trying to unpack with the twin tornadoes under foot) so I scheduled a Saturday for JMac to keep the girls busy while I worked by butt off hauling stuff from the barn up to the craft/homeschool room on a 90+ degree day.

Once the unpacking was done, I began searching for desks. I initially wanted some vintage school desks but it was really hard finding two just alike. Ultimately, we decided to get desks the girls could grow into and could use later in their bedroom(s). I'm very happy with our decision.

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Our little space is pretty simple but it's really all we need right now.

When I was the teacher's pet in school I had some mad bulletin board skills. I think those skills went away because this one needs a little help.

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I made the girls their own binders for their school work. I thought it would be neat for them to have something they can look back on.

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As the space evolves (as I'm sure it will), I post more pictures.

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But for now, this is it.

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We start class this coming Monday.

Homeschooling here we come!


heather

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