Month: June 2014

Daily Rhythms: Morning Routine

Having two toddling little ones, I have found most mornings it is actually easier to get out and stay out of the house until about lunch time.  This serves several purposes: 1) it keeps the house relatively picked up and clean, 2) it keeps the girls and I from going stir crazy and 3) it helps wear them out so they want to rest and relax when we come home.  We average about 3-4 mornings out a week, with at least one of the days in being my cleaning day.  Not every mom is wired this way and I totally get that.  Especially you that have older children (that play with each other!!) and more children (how do you do it?!).  I’m sure our morning routine will slow down a bit as the girls age and begin to self-entertain a bit more…but for now, this feels necessary.

On an IDEAL morning (meaning everything goes smoothly and according to plan), I am able to wake up, work out, shower, and dress before the girls.  We eat breakfast together, I look over my calendar for the day and prep dinner if need be.  The girls get dressed and then, depending on the day we either leave shortly after or if we have time, Bea takes a short hour nap while MG watches a show or does a school activity with me.

 

Here are some of the ways we spend our mornings out:

(asterisk marks the ones that are free)

grocery store* This definitely eats up an entire morning but I like that it is an anchor in our week

mops / Bible studies Mops only runs through the school year but it is a nice outing on winter days when we’ve been cooped up for far too long

-playground* Even in our little rural community there are several area play grounds.  Bonus: these are a great place to meet other moms

-splash park* Sadly, no splash parks exist out here…yet.  For the ages of the girls, splash parks are a bit more manageable than pools when I’m single parenting, and I do miss their accessibility.  But there are a few within an hour’s drive if we are desperate

-field trips* In talking to a few other moms, we discovered a FREE field trip program that runs through the summer.  So far we’ve done the fire station, car wash, and airport…upcoming are the recycling center and zoo!

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-library* Ah, I can’t say enough good things about the library.  Isn’t it a wonderful resource?  Even out here we have three pretty good ones to pool from and we could find a free activity there just about every day of the week if we wanted to.  Story time, crafts, movies, science experiments, summer reading programs, all for FREE.

 

-pool  Ours isn’t free but only cost $2 for all of us to get in, and thankfully our generous neighbors have had us over to swim a few times too.

indoor track* Probably only a resource we will have available in our current location, but it is AMAZING…especially in the dead of winter.  Having it as an outlet seriously got me through some dark days last winter

 

-play dates* Always a nice way to spend a morning and a win for both parents and children.  There are tons of resources on FB to help connect you to a local group or you can start by asking around at your church or library

 

-zoo/museums/local attractions

It’s amazing to me that even living out here in the rural cornfields there are still plenty of opportunities to get out and explore, mostly for free!   Anything I’m missing?  Let me know!

-smk

Party!

Well I think Miss Bea can officially be done with babyhood.  Her first birthday party is in the books!

 

I had so much fun planning this party and seeing the vision come to fruition.  It is SO much easier planning a summer party versus a fall one.  We barely spent any time indoors and even though it was a little hot/buggy, no one complained!

 

For food we grilled hamburgers and made fruit skewers, veggies and roasted eggplant dip (eggplants for Bea, of course :)), and chips.  We asked everyone to bring a side which greatly helped and then served cupcakes for dessert.  It was very easy and required no cooking the day of!

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For activities we had water balloons, yard toys, ice blocks/chisels with toys frozen inside (plan to do a post later to explain), and our very kind neighbor hitched up his carriage and took the dads and kids for a ride!

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Even though it was a good month after Bea’s birthday, she still devoured a cupcake and played along while we sang.  I loved that it was the first day of summer and felt like it was the perfect soiree to bring in the season.

 

Here’s a little video of the fun:

lb 1st party from Kate  on Vimeo.

-smk

13 months

I didn’t intend to carry on the month-to-month updates, but Bea just started doing the cutest thing.  She is now saying, “hi” complete with a twisted-arm wave whenever she see us (or is excited about something…horses! “hi!”, food “Hi!”, fan “HI!”)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-vNaEWn6S0&w=420&h=315%5D
(sorry for the poor video quality, it has been compressed a few times and is from instagram)

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Her balance is excellent and her walking seems to be looking more and more “human” every day.

 

She has almost weaned herself and has really made up for it by wanting to eat all of the time.  One child we have to bribe to eat, this one we can’t keep her full!

Bea is still taking two naps a day but mostly because she wakes up around 7am (hungry!).  She is also doing better by responding to our requests and demands but still can be sneaky if she wants :).

 

I forgot how exhausting this stage is…all they want to do is walk/run everywhere, get into everything, sit for only 10-15 minutes to eat and then they want down.  It’s going to be interesting to see how she handles being a lap baby on the plane in a few weeks…Thankfully she still takes to the stroller as she doesn’t like to be carried, be in the Beco anymore, or walk while holding hands (working on that one).

Bea, it comes as no surprise that your second real word is “hi”.  You seem to be our blossoming extrovert, always making the old ladies at the grocery store’s day with your mouthy smile. Being bold and confident isn’t something I pretend to understand but something I will fiercely protect and nurture in you.

You are also all-consuming.  You want to see/do/touch/TASTE everything.  Starting with the safety of our house, and then gradually our yard, and finally everything beyond; there are many things I can’t wait to explore with you and watch you learn.  You will take me on many adventures, this I am sure.

 

“You keep me wild, I’ll keep you safe.”

-Mama K

Daily Rhythms: Laundry

There’s always something intriguing about how others complete the same tasks as you, right?  For something seemingly mundane, there are a hundred different variations. (note: this is a continuation on a series started last week)

For me, laundry is a pretty regimented activity (not surprising if you know me) worked into our weekly well-oiled routine.  I know some people who do laundry every single day, others only when the basket is full, but as for us we do it once a week, every week.  (We also cloth diaper, and that accounts for extra loads  that I do at least two times a week as well.)  But when it comes to our clothes, I wash them nearly every Friday, almost without fail.

Friday has been our chosen day for awhile now for several reasons: 1) it is the end of the work week which feels like a natural time to tackle it 2) our Friday mornings usually aren’t very busy allowing me to tend to the washing machine and 3) it allows for our Friday night ritual (as explained further down)

We only have two laundry hampers in our house and each serves a purpose.  One is for light/white clothes, the other for colored.  As dirty clothes are tossed in, they are being sorted, eliminating one more step for laundry day.

When Friday morning arrives, I try to start the wash as early as possible.  Now that we have four members of our family, our loads sometimes stretch to 4-5.  Also, we need to reconfigure our dryer vent because of its location.  It is extra long and sometimes takes two cycles to dry each load, adding unnecessary time to the process.

Ever since the girls were born (or even before), I have switched to scentless/dyeless/perfumeless detergent for all of our clothes.  MG is especially sensitive to perfumes and this helps prevent her skin from becoming red and blotchy.  I do add in some essential oils to the wash, which is a newer step to my routine but something I have come to enjoy.  My favorite is Melaleuca because it does double duty, also acting as a germ fighter.

Oh, another thing I should mention is we still use the old school washing machines.  The same ones we’ve been using for seven years that were a hand-me-down wedding gift. The ones that aren’t very pretty, don’t have a sparkling, clear glass door to watch the clothes spin, and still make a decent amount of noise (no pretty chimes to let you know when the cycle is up, just a loud bullhorn).  I won’t give them up though because they are great for cloth diapers (you can control the amount of water you want & the agitator helps scrub them clean).  We’ve only had to have the washer repaired once and even the repairman said to hold onto it for as long as possible.  “They don’t make ’em like this anymore.”

We dry nearly everything in the dryer (except for diapers), but N has just finished a bona-fide clothes line for the yard.  All it lacks is to be anchored it in the ground!  And no dryer sheets or softeners for us (free, already soft water thanks to our well :)), but two tennis balls help speed up the drying process a bit.

Friday nights after the girls are in bed, we usually unwind from the work week by watching a show and folding the laundry together.  Such a small, mundane task, that somehow feels much lighter sharing it with someone else.

If I’m going to be doing a chore, I’d definitely prefer to be doing it side by side with my best friend 🙂

-smk

What are you…

Time  for another round of what are you…

Eating:  Anything with strawberries!  We went picking last week and have made strawberry muffins, pancakes, and waffles for breakfast almost everyday since.  Other than that, a little boring.  Tonight we are having turkey, mozzarella, and spinach meatballs.

Watching: Not much of anything.  Too busy to sit down for a show and our Internet (satellite) is the pits here.  Easily my least favorite thing about living in the country.

Listening: On the other hand, I have been listening to so many podcasts lately both as I drive to and work around the house.  I’ve been on a This American Life kick lately. If you are new to the show, start here.  I didn’t, but most of my faves are on the list. (currently working my way through the short list)

Reading:  Fiction: Defending Jacob, Empty Mansions

Nonfiction: Really intrigued by Spiritual Mothering.  Haven’t read it yet, but it’s in my queue.

Working on: oh just the never-ending house list.  N has been ripping out ceiling wainscotting and whitewashing the planks underneath.  I have been painting trim and banisters.  Pricing out carpet, wood, and tile for upstairs.  Doesn’t get much more “welcome to adulthood” than that!

Looking forward to: Other than our upcoming family vacation (!!), just simply enjoying the spoils of summer.  Having N around is always a luxury.  Time has just creeped along this week as everyday has felt like a Saturday.  We have picnicked, zooed, biked, field tripped, and just soaked up time together.  Both of the girls really seem to eat up all of the extra attention.  I love it too.

-smk

Daily Rhythms: Grocery Shopping

Every once in a while, social media gives a glimpse into other people’s daily routine.  I always find it interesting to see how people live and then compare notes with how I do things.  Sometimes I pick up on things I would like to add to my routine, other times I just enjoy noting the differences.

I thought it might be fun to do a series on some of the weekly routines I find myself doing around here.  If nothing else, it may be fun for the the girls and me to look back on one day.

The girls and I go the grocery store on the same day of the week practically every week.  Planning, arriving, shopping, and driving back home takes almost an hour and a half in total.  Therefore, we don’t have the leisure (nor desire) to go more than once a week.  Fortunately if I forget something (which is more often than not these days), N is usually able to stop for me on his way home.

The night before I go, I always sit down with my weekly calendar, Pinterest (all of my recipe books are still packed away :(), and my pen & paper.  N and I have a shared calendar and I take this time to carefully fill in a meal for each night’s dinner.   Often I review the calendar right after breakfast to know if I need to pull something out of the freezer, turn on the crock pot, prep early, or anything along those lines.

After making my list, I go through and put the items in order by how the store is laid out.  It is a tedious extra step but I have found with having two kids along (and more importantly a TALKER) it is worth its weight in the time it takes.

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(Isn’t my handwriting atrocious?  I always assume I will be the only one reading the list so I write extra fast and use all sorts of abbreviations.  Heaven help N if he ever needs to go in my stead)

Mid-morning the following day the girls and I head out to the store.  MG is a great helper and Bea will sit in the child part for most of it but usually starts to get antsy towards the end (sidenote: isn’t it funny how two children can be so different.  I NEVER buckled MG into the child seat and Bea gets buckled in every single time and also knows how to get out of the restraint!)

Also, because Bea is eye level with me through most of the store, I find myself talking and cooing to her quite a bit.  Instead of getting jealous, MG always follows up my coos with coos of her own.  If I kiss Bea on the head, she stands up and kisses Bea on the head.  Double the love.

MG talks and talks and talks the entire time at the store.  She is quick to spot her favorite items, flavors, and all of the child-geared marketing items placed so kindly around the store (I never knew there were so many princess-geared items in the grocery store.  Those Disney princesses are everywhere).  She also asks me about everything I place in the cart.  “What’s this?  Is this for Bea?  Can we have this for dinner tonight?”  This week she placed all of the items in a line and called it a “train”.

 

Meanwhile, Bea chums it up with all of the old ladies in the store.  If someone stops to chat with the girls, MG turns her head down in embarrassment while Bea turns her smile up a few notches and reaches out to be picked up.

MG has only two demands in the store: 1) that we visit the lobsters…who she finds creepy but intriguing.  And 2) that when we are done she be allowed to ride Sandy the penny pony. With those I can easily comply.

At the checkout line, MG helps me by placing the items on the belt.  She also likes to help the cashier bag and then load the groceries in the cart.  This is also about the point where Bea asks to be removed.  MG helps me distract her while I am paying and finishing up.  She is a saint.

I hope my girls always enjoy the grocery store with me as much as I do with them.

-smk

 

Finish Line

Wow the last nine months have been a marathon.  Going from having a baby with lots of help (N + family were around so much), coming off of that and it was just me and the little ones (4 months and 2.5 years), to  N’s new job that required much more out of him (and us), to selling and moving, to setting up our temporary home, to an extended stay in California (minus Daddy), to buying and setting up house again, to all of the home projects we have attempted to accomplish since…And that only touches the physical aspect, not the emotional ebbs and flows as well.  I am exhausted.

But summer is upon us, we have made it.  N’s schedule begins to significantly slow down this week and I am soooo ready.

When we first moved into the house, my drive to complete projects was overwhelming.  I didn’t sleep very much in the early days but in that time I accomplished much.  For a while the adrenaline kept me going.  Now I am chugging along on fumes.

I’m sure this week we will take time for a lot of R&R but once I get the bug back I do hope that N and I can knock-out quite a few projects this summer.  Worried that it was going to be all work and no play, I also created a bucket list for our summer to make sure we really enjoy this special time as a family.  I’m so excited MG is at a great age to do and learn so much.  We are no longer tied down to her nap schedule if we don’t want to be.  And Bea is old enough to absorb things too.  This is the magical age where you get to see them observe things for the first time!

Here is what I came up with (with a few blank spaces to add in more ideas as they come…I already realized I forgot to put the State Fair on there!)

2014 bucket list summer

I printed this out on card stock and hung it on our fridge.  Whenever we have a free day we will attempt to check something off as a family!    Also in the plans: We also hope to have people over to the house and improve our hosting skills.  The attainable (?) goal is once a week.  We’re including Bea’s party as one of those weeks.  We also have a W family vacation (can’t waiiitttttt) and maybe another family trip somewhere in there.  N is starting his doctorate this summer so that will suck some time and also have the routine things like doctor’s appointments that we try to save for this time of year. Whew!  This summer is going to be busy but in the best possible way!  Maybe we’ll get ice cream tonight to kick it off?

If you want to create your own bucket list similar to mine , here is a blank printable for you to save to your computer and print off.  You can either hand write in your list or if you know how to use any type of photo editing software you can add in your layer of text on top. Enjoy!

 

2014 bucket list summerx

-smk