Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Fresh Picked

Flowers picked by Alena along the road and from our own grown Peony bush. They are beautiful and smell so good!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bedtime Stories And Checking Out

Confession time: Up until two weeks ago, I had not been reading books to my kids since the move. Ugh, I feel horrible about it. When we moved just over two months ago, life got crazy to say the least. There was a lot of adjusting on our part, the kids had actual live TV to watch for the first time and were hooked, we were busy, and to be honest... I was just so exhausted. Heck, I'm still exhausted but it's getting better.

In this day and age, everyone is so connected and plugged in. I admit I struggle with that... A lot. I have friends all over the world not to mention a husband too so my phone and internet is about the only way I stay in contact with them. Being at home with the kids 24/7, I crave that adult interaction. With everything so portable now, it makes it easy to "check in" real quick; too easy.

I found myself checking in more than I should. A few minutes here and there mostly while nursing Noah or after the kids' bedtime turned into checking while the kids played, were entertained, during commercial breaks, and more. It was distracting me from what was most important and right in front of me. My kids. I would get frustrated because I was trying to comment on a blog or Facebook post and they were pulling me away with their "I wants and I needs". It was always "Hold on a mintue while I finish."

Don't get me wrong, I don't neglect them at all; their needs were met and attended to. My mind was just not focused on the moment. It was off somewhere else thinking about what so and so had posted that day, or the blog post left half read or written, the tv show I wanted to watch, or wondering when Gabe's phone call was coming. I was distracted by what was out there on the web or tv, plain and simple. Distracted. I was constantly "checked in" whether a computer, tv, or phone was in front of me or not. My mind was there.

Something had to change. I was feeling stressed out and unhappy. So I sat down and thought. And thought. And thought some more. Soul searching if you will. The answer didn't necessarily come to me at that moment but I knew something had to change. But what?

Bedtime has been a struggle since the day we moved. For one, driving cross country and through three times zones started us off on a bad foot. Add in living with grandparents, a daddy overseas, different house, different beds, different life, and you have a recipe for disaster. I dreaded bedtime. Dreaded it. I usually just couldn't wait to get it over with. I tried to rush it because I knew we were going to spend the next hour playing the 'get back to bed game'.

Then one night, I don't know why, but as I was getting the kids ready for bed, I told them they could pick out some books to read. They happily obliged and we all gather on the bed cuddled close while I read their books. Noah even sat with us for a while and then got up and played nearby with his own book. After reading, we were all in pleasant moods as I put the kids to bed and headed downstairs.

And you know what? They stayed in bed! Neither Alena nor Christian got up and they were asleep within a few minutes. Hmm. Come the next night and we read stories like the previous day. Bless me, they did it again! I was baffled. The only thing that had changed was taking 15 minutes to read some bedtime stories. I was still rushing them and had to constantly be on them to stay focused while getting ready for bed. But we weren't immediately heading to bed afterward feeling frustrated because now we were taking a little time to relax and calm down before settling in bed.

Sure, there have been a few nights where they have gotten out of bed and had to be put back but nothing like before. Reading bedtime stories has helped my sanity. I'm less "checked in" and more focused on the important stuff. Even if it is just for the hour I'm getting the kids ready and put to bed, it's a start. Here's to keeping the ball rolling and continuously easy bedtimes.

Have any of you made a small change that had a big impact?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend Rewind

This past weekend was probably the best one yet since we moved back home! If there were any doubts about whether moving home was the right decision, they are now gone. Being with family like this was what Gabe and I missed the most and after living away from home for about ten years, I am so glad to be able to be part of the fun rather than jealously hearing about it. Remember how we had spent the weekend at a cousin's house for Memorial Day weekend? We had so much fun that weekend that we decided to do it again for Father's Day! And I remembered to have a camera handy this time. :)

But let's start with Friday. The kids and I had heard of a new playground opening so we went to check it out. It was located next to a fruit farm in a great park complete with tons of paths and trails winding around the park and even through the apple orchard.

After having their fill of the playground, Alena and Christian broke out their bikes and rollerblades while Noah continued playing. After a bit I strapped Noah in the Beco carrier and we took a nice long walk through some park trails. It was cut a bit short when it started to rain and even though I despise being in the wet rain, we were having such a good time that I didn't even mind being sprinkled on!

Can't wait to come back for apple picking!
 Saturday, we headed back down to my cousin's house for another great sleepover. Last time we were there, they had just opened the pool but it wasn't quite ready. The pool was ready this time and it was put to good use! The kids had a blast running around, playing, driving the 4-wheeler, and then noshing on some s'mores around the campfire before a late bedtime. After the kids were finally down, us ladies sat around the fire for some uninterrupted conversation while enjoying a glass of wine before heading to bed ourselves.

Can't believe they can drive!

Sitting behind Christian while he gives me a 4-wheeler ride.

Sunday, Father's Day, the kids were up bright and early (of course) and those who hadn't spent the night came down and we enjoyed an absolutely gorgeous day. The kids were in and out of the pool, the dads went kayaking, and the ladies prepared a late lunch in between taking breaks for kids and fun.

The babies thought the pool was a little too chilly so we let them enjoy the kitchen sink!

After another busy fun filled weekend, we headed home thoroughly exhausted. And bonus, I got to talk to Gabe for the first time in five days!

How was your Father's Day weekend?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tips to Make Your Next Move Easier

Moving. Is it ever enjoyable and stress free? If you're anything like me, it's not. We've had three cross country moves and each one has shown me new things to do or avoid. Since I'm currently going through the unpacking process, I wanted to share what I've learned in order to help others avoid the same mistakes.

1. Declutter declutter DECLUTTER! I can't say that enough. The less clutter you have to begin with, the less stress you'll have when the time comes to pack and move. Not to mention that you will save time by not having to go through your clutter. Take some time, even if it is just 10 minutes a day, to tackle your paperwork or whatever it is creating clutter and sitting around. Everything should have a home and if you don't know what to do with it, chances are that you should get rid of it. Some great resources for helping you figure out where to start with decluttering and cleaning are FlyLady (she breaks it down to an easy 15 min a day) and The One Minute Organizer by Donna Smallin. She has a blog with great tips for anyone wanting go the web route. Or for those who like something tangible, she has written a book that I have actually read, still have, and use. She has several other books that I'm sure are just as great.

2. Stop buying junk! Do not buy something unless you know you will love it and use all the time. If you buy something just because it's on sale, stop doing that! I can't even tell you how much STUFF we threw away or got rid of where I thought to myself "What were we thinking?!" Only buy things you need and make sure it is something that you will want to take with you should you have to move in the future.

3. Group like things together in boxes. This. is. important. I have learned this the hard way. Nothing is more annoying when you're trying to find something for a specific room and you have to dig through all the boxes only to find it in with stuff having nothing to do with your item. (ie - finding your hair dryer in with kitchen supplies) Towards the end of my packing when I'm just done with it all, I always end up grabbing anything and everything and tossing it into a box. Bad idea!

4. Label your boxes. Folks, label your boxes. It will make things so much easier to find. I'm actually in the process of trying to find my address book but because I did not label my boxes well enough (or put it in with like items), it's currently still missing.

5. Give yourself lots of time. And if you don't have time, make time. We had only three weeks before Gabe left and then two weeks after to pack. We spent much of the three weeks getting rid of stuff and then two days before Gabe left, we finally went to fill our moving pod and barely filled it leaving me to do the rest. It was not efficient time management. And those last two weeks after Gabe had left and before I moved were extremely stressful. I was trying to pack up the rest of the house with three kids underfoot, but with having too much clutter and junk (see #1 and #2) it was not easy. I ended up hiring a babysitter every morning for the whole last week because I had so much to do. As soon as you find out you are moving, start getting rid of excess stuff (or don't have any to begin with!) and packing. You will find that you have more stuff and there will be more to do than you think!

If I think of more, I may add them later. Do any of you have some tips that I haven't put down that I should add? Let me hear them.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Moments Like This

I don't want to forget. Here are some pics I snapped of recent moments that made me happy and wish time would slow down or pause so I could relish in them a little longer.

Can you tell I have a thing for sleeping babies and kids?!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Weekend Rewind

Last weekend the kids and I had some fun. Friday, the kids had their last day at their homeschool co-op. When they came home, we headed to the store to pick out some things for Father's Day to send over to Gabe (can't tell you what we got because he reads the blog. Hi honey!). We went home for dinner and then afterwards headed out and supported my nephew at his baseball game (they won!).

I'm trying to teach the kids about saving and spending their money wisely. We had already had dinner so I let them know I was not buying them snacks and junk food at the concession stand and if they wanted anything they would have to buy it with their own money. They both opted to spend a dollar on a Sno cone.

Saturday, we went to visit some baby chicks at my brother-in-law's mother's house. We had gone the previous week when they were just a few days old. The kids love animals and I love that they do.

Noah LOVED watching them.
After the kids had enough chicken love we headed over to my old high school's town park for their annual fireman's festival. The selection of rides was sparse but we still had a good time. And seeing old school mates is always fun too.

On Sunday, my parents left to go camping for the week. The kids and I enjoyed the beautiful evening outside. Noah's pants ended up filthy so I took them off and let him run around half naked before I took him in for a bath. It made for some cute photos. :)

This upcoming weekend is looking to be another good fun filled one that I'm sure you'll hear about. :)

Making the Adjustment

After living back in Ohio for the past six weeks, reality is starting to set in... and set in hard. We do not live in Arizona anymore and never will again. All those things that we always thought we would have time to do and kept pushing to the back burner, the places we wanted to go, gone. It's too late.

This was our fourth cross country move so therefore I was sure it would be easier. HAH! It's not. The kids and I are staying with my parents and that in itself is a challenge all its own. Just finding room to put our stuff or store it is a difficult and slow process. The moving pod we used is currently at a local U-Haul (10 miles away) and I've only gotten a quarter of it emptied. I'm having to separate our things between three houses and loading and unloading it all on my own.

Our moving pod still with tons left. Oy!
Another adjustment that many wouldn't think much about is that a quick trip to the store is no longer actually quick. In Arizona, everything was less than 15 minutes away. Now, 15+ minutes is a normal time and distance resulting in a "quick" trip taking at least an hour... IF I'm alone and get in and out of the store fast.

The weather. Can I talk about the weather?! Thankfully, we are not into the hot and humid days yet but we have experienced a few days like that and it was not pleasant. Not pleasant at all. Come July, you'll probably be able to find me on the floor in a puddle of sweat camped out in front of a fan trying to find some sort of relief. I won't even mention the winters because I'm just going to hibernate this year.

The time change, oh the time change! Arizona does not do daylight savings and boy do I miss that. It made bedtime SOOO much easier. Daylight was always over by 9 pm at the latest during the summer. But here, the kids are still trying to stay up later because duh mom! There is still light outside. They're having a hard time with that adjustment.

I really hate to sound like I'm complaining or ungrateful so I'll just move on to the GOOD adjustments.

I can see my family more than once a year! I love love love to see the kids playing with their cousins. I grew up in a large family with literally hundreds (not exaggerating at all, my parents came from families of 12 kids) of cousins and I can still remember the family get-togethers where we would all play hide and seek, kick the can, tag, and all those other fun games that we played until dark and even after.

There is room to roam. People have yards with room to play and run and you can't look directly into your neighbors' yards/houses. That was probably my biggest complaint about Arizona (or at least city) living. The yards were teeny tiny and even if you lived in the Arizona countryside, you didn't have beautiful green yards (unless you worked HARD at it) where kids could run barefoot without having to worry about stepping on things that would hurt you. That's the other thing. In Ohio, we don't have to try to grow grass. It just does! We had to water our yard EVERY day in Arizona if we wanted any hope of a green yard.

I could prattle on and on about the adjustments I'm making or the differences between the two places but I'll spare you or turn it into a whole post in itself. :) My point was that things aren't going according to how I thought they would (do they ever?!) and making these adjustments is taking a little longer.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Enjoying the Weather

Ohio doesn't have many beautiful days so when it does, we make sure to get out and enjoy them. I love the fact that I can shoo the kids out the door when they need to run off some energy or when boredom begins to set in.

I'm glad that they have been adjusting well to country living. Noah just absolutely LOVES it! He could spend all day outside if I let him. He had his first experience with puddles recently and I eventually had to drag him out of there kicking and screaming. After a spring rain, the driveway had plenty of puddles to find and play in and he took right to the wet and dirty mess. Walked up and plop! Sat right in the middle of it. I undressed him and let him have at it.

Swings are also a favorite.

Our little climber.
And when we want to get out of the house, we head to the park. Noah is now at the stage where he is able to climb the playground to the slides and come down on his own. All I have to do is make sure he doesn't jump off any openings in the playground and then catch him at the bottom. My sister and I recently got together with our kids and our niece she was babysitting at the park. The kids had a blast swinging, running, playing, riding scooters, and just being kids.

Those who built the park added in a sledding hill that is perfect for rolling down in the warmer months. Or as we used it for... running up and down to make sure they got out every last ounce of energy. :)

I really hope this 75-80 degree weather holds out for a while longer. This mama is not ready for hot and humid weather without the comfort of an air-conditioned house!