Thursday, March 27, 2014

The things you learn

The other day I posted a status on my Facebook page that said something like "The things you learn when you're a mom".  And it got me thinking about how much you really learn when you become a parent.  It's a never ending class and to be honest I hope it doesn't ever end. Or I hope I get to a point where I get to share my knowledge with my kids. Wouldn't that be ironic, teaching my kids about things that they actually taught me about?  Yes, they are too young now to understand what I've learned or to take interest in the things I've found out in these last (almost) four years.

Wow! FOUR years, I am coming up on the four year mark of being a stay at home mom. April of 2010 I quit my job as a many to twin boys to get ready for the arrival of my own little boy. That means in April, I will celebrate that anniversary. Then in May I celebrate being a mom for four years and again in June, I get to celebrate being a mom to two children for two years. That's just crazy to me!  So, here's a list of just a few of the things I have learned.

1. Every child is SO different from the next. We have two children (which you know) they are complete opposites. It's outrageous to me everyday the different characteristics they have. They have the same parents, they are the same sex, even born in the same season, just two years and three weeks apart. Yet, they different. Sometimes the same, but not often! This is how I learn so many different things. Dallas taught me so much about being a first time mom, he taught me how to be selfless, patient, compassionate. Liam has taught me how to be tough, how to be EXTRA patient, how to face fears. However, they both taught me how to love unconditionally, how to share my heart equally, how not to judge people, how much sleep you don't need (and how much coffee you do!) along with so many other things.

2. Sickness: blah! I hate when my kiddos are sick. I swear, Dallas was sick ONE time before the age of three. I get so sad when they are sick. I feel bad for them, I wish I could take all their pain for them when they are sick.  It's not only impetigo (which I JUST learned about a few weeks ago, what the heck is that?!?!) strep, sinus infections, ear infections, etc. It's also sensitive skin, eczema, bug bites, stubbed toes, slivers, peeling skin.  Things we have to learn how to take care of as we go. Test out hundreds of different lotions and creams, how to distract while we get slivers out, how to make it exciting when they need a band aid.

3. Car seats, where to even begin. I'm not an expert but here are some things you may want to research if you need a car seat, if you have a car seat, if you think buying a used car seat is a good idea. First, they expire!!! Who knew??!! Yep, sure do! They all have a sticker or an imprint on them with an expiration date and a manufactured date. It's true, check yours out! Second, there are LAWS about when your child can be forward facing. Rear facing is of course the safest way, the longer, the better, even with bent/crossed legs...still the safest. Next, the placement of your child's head is important. Meaning how high up on their seat their head is. The chest strap is also important when it comes to placement!  Oh and the straps aren't supposed to be twisted...just saying.  Fourth, winter jackets are a no no when it comes to car seats. I never knew this until this winter. I watched a few videos and learned why...scary stuff! And last, Graco recalled a billion million buckles on their seats. That's just awesome because we have two Graco seats. It's annoying, but they are doing what they can to fix it. Will I buy another Graco seat? Probably not. Will this make them go out of business? Probably not. Can it happen to any manufacturer? Probably.  I just have a sour taste in my mouth from the experience and will avoid them if possible. Anyway, I've learned from all of this and much much more that the car seat is important to me and I like to buy ones that not only look cool but that they are also super safe for my boys. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollar, but you should at least be doing some research on that pretty bright yellow and grey seat that looks cool before you buy it second hand off craigslist from someone you never met.  Oh and PS: and car seat in any kind of accident, even just a fender bender, SHOULD be replaced.

Here's just one helpful link
Here's one about wearing winter jackets in the seat

4.  How to love. Before I had kids, I loved. I loved my family, some friends too. Now that I have kids I really truly know what love is. I know unconditional love. I've seen my kids get hurt  and then turn around  and forgive so quickly. Even when I still hurt for them, they are long past being hurt. I need to start reacting how they do to people who don't always make them 100% happy. I have high expectations for others and sometimes they fall short. I don't know if this is due to how I was raised or if it's something I've acquired in my "Grown up years".  My parents have always stood by my side and  never given up on me. They had expectations for me and I hope I met or exceeded those expectations. I try to do the right thing. Always. I try to please others. I always worry about what other people think or me and I wonder why other people don't think that way. Why wouldn't you want others to be impressed with you? Why wouldn't you want them to look at you as a parent and admire the way you handle situations? That's what my kids are teaching me. It doesn't always matter what people think of you, we all have bad days where we are not impressive. What matters at the end of the day is that we are happy, healthy and family.  If other people hurt our feelings or make is mad, that's okay. It happens and we move on. The world is still turning and we are still alive.  We can't control other people....

What have you learned from your kids?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I've got the whole world...

...on my wall!

Back story:  I had a great idea for a birthday present for my husband three years ago.  Yes, you read that right.  Three years.  I wanted to mount a large world map on the wall and mark each place he has been (either during his time in the Navy or during work).  So, I headed to a local store that sells teaching supplies called The Learning Shop and picked up world map and a map of the US.  They were about $10 each.  And then I...did nothing!  See, I had this grand idea to make the maps looks old.  I looked up every possible way to do this and it just didn't seem like I would be able to.  I either had to put them in the oven, which wouldn't work because my maps were BIG.  My oven was not.  Or I had to use stain, which meant outside and it was either too cold out when I remembered to do it or I was pregnant and didn't want to ask Michael to make his own gift.  So, after three years I found new maps at Costco, $10 for a set of two, larger, laminated maps.  This seemed like the better option for me.  They would hold up longer because they were laminated and they were bigger, so they would take up the large wall space we had available.  I skipped the idea of making them look old.

Fast forward six months, because I am forgetful like to mull things over, and here we are!  Guess who helped with his own birthday present?  What took me so long this time?  Well, I couldn't figure out an inexpensive way to actually hang the maps.  Here were my dilemmas  this time. A: I didn't want the pins to go into the wall in case we actually move someday and are left with approximately 10 millions holes in the wall to cover.  and 2: I wanted to be able to keep the map and pins (hopefully) in tact if we did in fact move one day!

So, I sent in a question to a site called Craftaholics Anonymous and the readers responded with some great ideas.  The one I went with was to buy foam board from the hardware store, adhere the map to that and then attach the foam board to the wall.  Here's how it went down (or up):

 I gathered our supplies: the map, the foam board, spray adhesive, double sided 
tape, a knife (not pictured) and Velcro (not pictured)

We put the double sided tape on all of the edges of the map and strips down the center

We rolled the map up so the tape was on the outside

We sprayed some of the adhesive spray onto the foam board (about 6 inches at a time) and 
then unrolled the map 

While we were unrolling it, we slid yard stick (also not pictured) along the front of the map to make sure the map was smooth and flat and we pulled the backside of the tape off as well

Here it is attached to the foam

Then my husband used a knife to cut the excess foam board off

Then we added Velcro to the back in multiple places and...

Put it on the wall! 

Here's the world map.  We followed the same exact process and it worked so well for us! 
(Don't mind the missing trim, this is our basement and it's still in the final steps of being completed)

Now, who wants to guess how long it will take me to add all the pins to the places we have been?  Yes, now we will have pins where Michael has been and where we have been as a family.  I'm lucky he isn't a picky husband who doesn't mind helping with or sharing his birthday present!

Did you find this post helpful?  Pin this image to Pinterest!

Cost breakdown: 

Map: $5 (each)
Foam Board: $10 (I needed one for each map since mine were so large, but with smaller maps you could use one piece of foam for two maps)
Tape: already had
Velcro: already had
Adhesive Spray: already had
Yard Stick: already had
Knife: already had

So, I spent $15 per map, $30 for both.  If you didn't have most of these items on had, I'm guessing you would spend maybe $40-$50 on both maps?  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Organizing: The Spice Cabinet

My husband loves spices/seasonings/sauces.  So we have a ton.  We were using these guys from, but they kept falling off the doors.  Maybe due to the steam that a stove creates when cooking?  I'm not sure, but I wouldn't recommend them.

I saw this pull down organizing rack a long time ago.  We used to keep our spices in the cabinet above our microwave and because our microwave stuck out past the cabinets we knew that rack wouldn't work for us. Then we decided to do a little moving around in the kitchen and put our spices in the cabinet next to the microwave because it was a "full" sized cabinet as opposed to just a small, high space.  (How many times have I said "microwave" so far??!!)  It was impossible to find any thing in there, we were always rearranging them and we just weren't able to get it right.  So one evening my husband and I took care of this issue.  It didn't take much time at all and we are super happy with the finished product.

So here's how we did it:

Emptied out the cabinet and tossed old items or condensed multiples down to one bottle

(Don't mind the cords, those are for my kick butt under cabinet lighting that my dad and husband installed for me awhile ago.)

Bought this from Lowe's 

took the middle shelf out of the cabinet

Attached the pull down organizer per the directions (well I read them, but I'm not
sure my husband listened, as usual!)

Placed the shelf back in the cabinet

Tested it out

Filled it up!  The top is now all the baking supplies and the bottom is a small container we already had filled with a few packets and the larger spices we use the most often.  We also had space on either side of the new shelf to store large bottles.

Boom! My lift is now just a little bit easier!

How do you store spices and sauces?  Do you feel like you have a million on hand, but never the one you need?  I feel like that happens more than it should! 

Total cost: around $20!  Can't beat it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Swoon worthy #1

I'm starting a new series called "swoon worthy", if you didn't already assume that from the title of this post. This series will include items I'm currently loving and wanting!  I see a lot of great items but most of the time I don't pull the trigger and buy them for myself.  I like to shop, that's no secret to anyone who knows me, but I don't usually just go out and buy things for myself, especially the more expensive items.  I will easily pick up things for the boys and sometimes my husband, but the things I like take a backseat.  So without further ado, here's what I'm swooning over currently!

1.  Nike Fuel Band: I have been wanting one of these for a while now.  I think they are pretty neat gadgets for a non-techy chic like me:)

2.  Clean/Dirty Dishwasher Magnet:  I have always thought this would be super helpful and they are now on sale!!

3.  Michael Kors Watch: I have been slowing adding bits of MK to my closet here and there and I think it's about time I add this gem!!  Pun intended.

4.  Swim Cover Up: We may or may not have some warm weather vacations in the works and this would have to be in my suitcase for sure!  I first read about it here...I may need that hat too!

5.  Chalk Markers: A friend on mine used these for signs at her daughter's birthday party recently and I thought it was a great way to be crafty with chalk without that messy dust!!  She's super creative so I'm sure my signs wouldn't look half as great as hers but I can try, right?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Something different

It has been WAY too long since my last post!  I have already failed at my "goal" of posting twice a week.  I don't know what happened, but I'm back and I missed writing here!  So, as I sit here and type while listening to A Great Big World "Already Home" sipping a lukewarm cup of coffee (because I don't want the microwave to wake my finally sleeping baby boy) I am wondering how people do it.

People who have it much harder than I.

People who don't have healthy children.

People who are sick and take care of others.

People who go to bed not knowing what the next day with bring.

I follow people on Facebook who have stories like these.  They take care of a child who can't walk or talk and should be able to.  They are fighting that courageous fight against cancer.  They go to work feeling ill and still find strength to be there for other people.

When I am at my breaking point, I try to remember that "it could be worse".  If we are "friends" on Facebook, then you've heard me say over and over again that I know I'm lucky to have two healthy children. They are my greatest gifts, my biggest blessings, my never ending rays of light.

It has been a long, cold winter for those of us living here in Wisconsin.  Every time you go somewhere, people say SOMETHING about the weather.  Mostly negative comments and something about not being able to wait until it warms up.  It's normal that this time of year brings us all a bit of anticipation for warm weather, melting snow and rain showers in lieu of snow but this year seems to be worse than others.  I don't know if I'm the only one who thinks that because I now have two busy boys who want to go outside, run everywhere, let their "sillies" out (if you will).

My reason for talking about the weather is that we have been having a ton of tough times in our household lately.  We have been sick and sick and tired of being stuck inside.  So my breaking points have been happening more and more.  My boys don't want to listen, I'm tired and my great sleepers have been replaced with mediocre sleepers!

A few days ago we decided to turn my 21 month old son's crib into a toddler bed.  He was climbing out of it every chance he had.  We would lay him down after our normal routine (which I hope to share with you later since a lot of people ask why I think I have such good sleepers) and 2.7 seconds later he would be out of his crib and walking around the house looking for us.  For his safety, we converted the bed.  I'm not okay with this for multiple reason!  First, he's not even two!!  How has he grown up so quickly?  What happened to my baby?  Second, I never thought in a million years we would be dealing with this at this age.  I like to plan, this was NOT in my plan.  And lastly, I paid good money for his crib.  I wish it was still being used as a crib!  :)

So, while I am back to getting up 3-4 times a night and letting Liam "cry it out", which by the way is WAY more painful when they are almost two than when they are 6 months, I feel like I'm reminding myself that life could be worse.  I'm reminding myself that we don't have it that bad.  We have a comfortable house, I get to spend everyday with my loves, my husband has a great job and I have a great support system of friends and family.

I have special plans in the works to honor those with more speed bumps in their  lives than me, those who are sick, those who have lost someone close to them, those who I think of every day and never want to forget about.  So stay tuned:)