Teacher Gifts Are Done!

There is always so much pressure on wannabe supermoms to perform well when it comes to giving awesome and creative teacher gifts. That pressure mounts when there are not only classroom teachers but also “specials” teachers such as art, music, librarians, etc. and you have a budget to stick to. There are 15 teachers that we have to have an end of the year gift for this year so the cost on will really add up fast. That means that it is difficult to figure out gifts that are creative, unique, useful (teachers have enough smelly candles on their closet shelves) and affordable. Luckily I am always up for a challenge and was raring and ready to get started.

Something that helped me stay on budget this year was my discovery of The Dollar Tree. They have so many good things there for only a buck so finding a budget worthy gift is easy. Using this knowledge I decided to get the main classroom teachers (there are 3 this year) each a beach tote bag and fill them with a water bottle, sunscreen, flip flops, word search book, sunglasses and a cooling headband wrap. If you were counting then you know that is 7 items for each teacher. Then I picked out some tissue paper to use as a filler in the bags and at $1 for 20 sheets that was a GREAT bargain! So the grand total for each one was about $7.25 each. When I got home I printed out some tags on cardstock that I already had and addressed them to each teacher. Then I tied each card around the handle of each bag after the kids signed their names. Easy peasy!

For the specials teachers I wanted to do something smaller and simpler, afterall, they only put up with my kids for an hour every 6 school days. I used some Pinterest inspiration for this. There are tons of great ideas on Pinterest for this type of thing but I finally settled for the “mint” idea. Now I just had to figure out how to implement it. I started at The Dollar Tree. Unfortunately The Dollar Tree let me down and did not have any mint flavored candy that was individually wrapped. They also did not have any plain clear goody bags. Dollar Tree was losing my affection. What they did have were little clear punch cups 10 for $1 and spools of ribbon for $1 and they had another package of that tissue paper so The Dollar Tree and I overcame out rough patch and are still in a relationship. I did have to stray to Kroger for the mint candy selection though. When all was said and done I had spent less then $15 for everything and had some ribbon, tissue paper and cups left over. 825 helped me distribute the candies into 12 of the cups and then I wrapped them in tissue paper and tied it with a ribbon. The tags I printed out were on cardstock using a play on words with the word ‘mint’. Again, I had the kids sign the cards and tied them to the ribbons that tied the tissue paper together.

So, When it was all over I only spent about $35 on 15 teacher gifts that meet all of the above requirements for supermom gifts. Today is a good day to be a mom, maybe even a supermom.

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My Guilty Pleasure

In my early 20s I worked in an office with several friends. A couple of them liked the daytime soap General Hospital. Since one of them worked half days most of the time she would watch it and come in the next day and tell us what happened. After a while I got interested and would also watch on days that I got off early enough. After 825 was born I had plenty of time sitting around nursing and snuggling him so I started watching more t.v. One of the shows I started watching was All My Children because it was on during one of 825’s regular feedings. I quickly got sucked in to the drama and amusement of the bad acting. A few months later I started to get interested in One Life To Live because of the commercials for a particular plotline that they played during All My Children. I was going to start watching it just to find out what happened in the particular storyline. Unfortunately, that one story turned into another followed by another and another.

So, here I was, sucked into 2 daytime soaps. The days that I had somewhere else to be and couldn’t watch were sadder than I would like to admit. Then the best thing possible happened! We got a DVR! Now, not only could I watch AMC and OLTL even when I couldn’t be home from 1:00-3:00 in the afternoon but I could also watch it commercial free! What a great invention! The person that had this idea and made it into reality is brilliant! As far as I was concerned a DVR could truly change a persons life in every way possible.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. When we decided to move we got rid of the DVR and I got so busy with remodeling the new house that I couldn’t keep up with any of my shows. After the move was over and I could have picked it back up on live t.v. I got pregnant with 1119 and AMG/OLTL time became nap time instead. The next thing I knew both of these shows were being canceled by ABC. I hadn’t watched in over a year but it had been comforting to know that when I was ready to start watching again they would be there with all of the same characters, some new ones and even some who were thought to be dead years before yet somehow survived and found their way back. What a sad way for this to end.

Looking back now I realize that these shows, their characters and the dramatic plot lines were an escape from life. A momentary break from mommyhood which most moms will agree that we all need in some form. To be ourselves for a few minutes everyday and not just “Mommy”. Thinking about it like this helps me feel slightly less guilty about watching such trash t.v. I watched plenty of other drama filled shows on t.v. and Netflix and they were entertaining but none have been quite the same level of brainless escape that AMC and OLTL provided.

Then, one day I saw a wonderful advertisement on Facebook. Hulu Plus was taking AMC and OLTL and letting them air new episodes! There would be some of the old actors returning to reprise their roles as well as several new characters. I immediately got excited about having my escape back from the grave. How ironic that so many soap characters “come back from the dead” and now the soaps themselves are doing the same thing. How weird that while watching these shows that is as deep as my thought get.

Last week was the blessed week and I was not disappointed. The old characters were just as conniving as always. The new characters came with plenty of drama. The acting left plenty to be desired but with unrealistic plots that leave you wanting to know what happened more you still can’t go wrong. These are not the real reasons I am happy that AMC and OLTL are back with new episodes though. The real reason is that now I have an escape. A way to take a break. A somewhat regular time to remember that even though one of the biggest and most important parts of me is “Mommy” that is not the only part of me.

Does a super mom watch soaps? I suppose no one can be a super mom without the occasional break and rest from their reality. So, these nights that I sit here watching trashy t.v. are not keeping me from being super mom they are getting me one step closer to it, right?

Baby-Wearing, How Old is too Old?

I love baby-wearing! I had a simple pouch sling that I wore 825 in all over the place when he was little. It worked out great because I could still let 314, who was 3 1/2 when he was born, ride in the cart or be able to hold her hand while she walked next to me. When I got pregnant with 1119 I got even crazier about baby-wearing. After all, he was number 4 so I was going to have to keep him comfy while attending to 3 other kid’s needs and going to all of their activities with baby in tow. When all was said and done I had collected 2 pouch slings, 1 ring sling, a Moby wrap, and a Mai Tai soft structured carrier. It was great! I had a baby wearing contraption for every possible situation.

1119 loved baby-wearing too. He got to be close to me and have easy access to a boob to nurse as he pleased. I wore him when we were out running errands, going for a walk and even around the house so that I could get housework done while he was napping on me or just checking out his surroundings. Once he started walking at 14 1/2 months I quit wearing him as much and let him walk more on his own and of course we could always use a stroller or shopping cart if necessary when we were out. Occasionally I would still wear him (usually on my back) while I made dinner and we listened to the radio having a dance party or when we were running an errand where there was not stroller access or shopping carts for him to sit in.

Then yesterday 1119 was fussy and only wanted to be held but I needed to get several things done around the house. So, in the most natural flow of movements I grabbed my ring sling and placed him in it positioned on my hip. I had not done this in a while. I actually tried to remember the last time I wore him around the house and I couldn’t. It was at least a month ago. It worked for us though. In that position he felt loved and snuggled which was his need at the time and I got to get my stuff done which is what I needed at the time. He even helped me by reaching over and picking up items he saw me putting into bags to be frozen so he was able to learn and mimic at the same time. After about 25 minutes he started wiggling and so I put him down and he went off to play feeling like his emotional needs had been taken care of and I was able to continue to work on my projects.

I never thought that there was anything wrong or even weird about 1119 wanting to be worn so much. When I think over the last year and a half I remember all of the times that 825 helped me figure out a new baby wrap by letting me put him in it and wear him before trying it out on 1119. I also remember the times that 825 asked why 1119 got to be worn and he did not. They are mama’s boys and I love that and am o.k. with that. I adore their need to snuggle and be close to me and I love that I have such a natural way to do this for them.

After reading this you can imagine my surprise the other day to read some posts on Facebook that a friend of a friend made about baby-wearing being unnecessary especially in an extended time frame and implying that myself and other moms were spoiling our children by doing this. Now, I am not naïve enough to think that baby-wearing (extended or not) is for every kid because, like everything else, it is not. But, am I really being naïve by thinking that meeting my babies needs is spoiling him? Is it bad to want my baby to know that I love him and meet his snuggle needs? Is it going to ruin him to not make him walk everywhere while he is only a little boy? Of course not! Baby-wearing has been around for generations in several countries. In many cultures baby-wearing is as normal and common place as seeing a baby wearing a diaper. There are studies showing that baby-wearing can significantly improve a young babies heart rate (think about skin to skin in the NICU). Most importantly, for us baby-wearing meets my baby’s needs and is something that I enjoy. So, why wouldn’t I want to wear my babies as long as it is still mutually enjoyable for us both?

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Grocery Shopping and the Fridge

Yesterday was a rainy Saturday. The kind where you really want to stay inside and watch t.v. or movies all day and not even think about going outside. Unfortunately, there was not time for this. Since John was working all weekend it was either get the grocery shopping done on Saturday with 2 kids or do it Sunday in between church and Cub Scouts with 4 kids. Despite the rain, Saturday won out. Friday afternoon I had gone through my coupons and looked on line at the weekly ads for the stores I would go to, made a menu for the upcoming week and got my grocery list narrowed down to get me the best bang for my buck.

So, at 9:00am, in the pouring rain 825, 1119 and myself set out. We started by trying out the “day old” bread store down the street from us. I pass by it almost everyday but had brushed it off and never actually went to it so I decided to give it a shot. It was well worth my time! Among other deals I got Nature’s Own hot dog buns for only 50 cents a pack!. So, the bread store has now been added to my rotation of grocery stores. The bread store feels very lucky to be on this select list.

Next up was the bank to deposit John’s paycheck for the week. Of course a trip to the bank with kids is not complete without lollipops so both kids got a Dum-Dum. Now, this is a seemingly innocent thing to give a kid and when that kid is 5 like 825 it is pretty innocent. When that kid is 17 months old like 1119 it is not so innocent. He had his lollipop as we drove from the bank to Home Depot to do the monthly kids workshop building project. When I opened his door to get him out at Home Depot he immediately handed me an empty, sticky, slobbery stick with an equally sticky and slobbery hand. Of course that hand was not the only hand that was sticky and slobbery. His other hand was absolutely gross too. His face also had a shiny layer of sticky slobber on it. Luckily I always have tons of baby-wipes in the car for just such events and got him cleaned off easily.

As usual we had so much fun at the Home Depot workshop even though I forgot to bring the work aprons (mommy fail). This was the 2nd month that I got a building kit for 1119 as well as 825. This month’s project was a hanging herb planter and was a great project for both kids as it only had 1 screw to put in and no nails. We were finished in no time and ready to head out the door when we realized that there was a children’s planting project going on near the garden center. Each of the boys got to plant a flower in a clay flower pot. When we were done we found out that they will be doing a free planting project for kids every Saturday through the summer! How exciting! We love Home Depot projects and we love plants for our garden so it is a perfect fit for us to plan on doing most of the Saturdays.

After Home Depot we headed to Dollar Tree to see what they had that we could cross off the other grocery lists for cheaper. Of course we can’t just call it “Dollar Tree” because that is soooo boring and the Dollar Tree is such an exciting store to go to so we call it “Dolla Tree WOOT, WOOT”. It is very important to 825 and I that it is referred to correctly. This was a great trip. I found a number of things that were on my list anyway and for only $1 it was well worth my time to go to an extra store.

4 errands down and 3 more to go. Next was the local international farmers market. Of course this one is really more like an international grocery store as they have tons and tons of dry goods as well as produce and meat like you would expect at any other farmers market. The produce prices and meat prices are out of control there! I got several packs of 99 cent strawberries this week so that I could take advantage of the good price and cut them up to freeze for smoothies and I got John a picnic ham (like a Boston butt) for only $1.09 per pound! What a deal! So exciting when I see such great deals and can take advantage of them. Since my little helpers were being so well behaved I let 825 pick out a treat from the check out line and I got a treat for 1119 and me to share. Apparently I am not dieting today anyway since I had 2 bowls of cereal for breakfast.

Our next stop was Publix. Normally I think that Publix is too expensive but if you stick to their sale items, especially the B1G1 items, and you can find a coupon for those items too you can do really well there. This week was just so-so at Publix. A lot of the stuff that was on sale was not stuff that I use and the cashier I got insisted that the coupon policy was different than the one that I have been able to use in the past so I didn’t get out of there with as much savings as I would have liked. Still not a waste of time just not as save-tastic as I prefer.

While I was at Publix John called and told me that he was on his way home for a little bit so after Publix we went home to unload the stuff we had already purchased and have lunch. I got the cold stuff put away, told John about all of the good deals I got while he smiled and pretended to be interested like a good husband then I had lunch. I put 1119 down for a nap and headed out for 1 last store. This time it was Kroger. Now, don’t get me wrong, Kroger has good sales sometimes and if you have coupons to match up to the sales they are even better but they don’t live up to the Publix B1G1 sales. Mostly I go to Kroger for things that aren’t on sale anywhere else but I still need because the Kroger everyday price is typically really good. I also go to Kroger if I don’t have time to run around to all of the other stores and plan out multiple grocery lists. This week my Kroger list was really pretty short so I got out of there pretty quickly although since I didn’t have any kids with me I did take my time and enjoy the peace and quiet a little bit.

Once I got back home John had to leave to do some more work so I got started putting groceries away. Not long after John left though Leo woke up so I had to take a break and nurse him and then he only wanted to be held so I did something that I haven’t had to do in a while, I put him in a sling so that I could keep working around the house. I don’t know what happened after that. I just know that the next time I took a break to look around my kitchen was a disaster zone. What did I do during that 3 hour time lapse? Apparently I cut up strawberries (remember the 99 cent ones from the farmers market?), put them in bags and froze them so that we can use them for smoothies. I also organized my kitchen freezer using little plastic boxes and buckets that we had out in the shed (which means I went out to the shed in the rain). Then I looked in my fridge and saw that it too had been cleaned out and organized. Lots of expired condiments were thrown out, the condiments in the door shelves were organized with like things together and the other condiments were organized on a shelf also with like things together. It was at this moment that I realized that we had 5 different kinds of BBQ sauce open in there. I think that this is indicative of some kind of mental health problem that I should really look into having treated. Next up I looked in the cheese and meat drawer and was amazed! I had taken a Rubbermaid box and put all of the bags of shredded cheese in it standing up so that it is easier to see what kinds I have and if there is a bag that is already open or not. Then I put all of the bags of sandwich meat next to that so that they are easily visible and not covered up by the bags of cheese anymore. Genius I tell you!

Next came the most exciting part of the fridge transformation! I opened the produce drawer and saw the apples all in containers separated by type. No more guessing which kinds we have and ending up with 30 of one kind and only 1 of the other kinds! Then I looked on the shelf above the produce drawer and saw the most amazing thing that made by OCD self so incredibly happy! All of the other fruits were divided into individual containers. Strawberry containers with the lid cut off and a paper towel at the bottom to be exact. They were all easily visible. Nothing was getting squished or bruised by all of the other fruit on top. The containers would be easy and cheap to keep clean or even replace when the time came. This is by far the BEST produce organization system I had ever seen or implemented in my house! I patted myself on the back and congratulated myself on being a brilliant organizer. Then I looked around and saw the mess that my kitchen was and decided that I might not need quite so much praise just yet. The groceries on the table, toys and Tupperware all over the floor from 1119 playing while I was busy organizing. It was a disaster. It was so bad that I decided to put that off a little bit longer and go ahead and make dinner.

Dinner was avocado chicken salad wraps with chips and fruit. It is a simple recipe: shredded chicken breast (3 was perfect for the 4 of us that were eating that night) avocado (I used 1 1/2) mixed with cilantro, green onions, salt, pepper and lime juice all to taste. I mixed it all up and let it sit in the newly organized fridge so that the flavors could melt together while I cleaned up the kitchen. It is amazing how many things a 17 month old will find to pull out of cabinets when you are on organizing mode and not paying enough attention. I finally got it all cleaned up and put away though and felt much better about my day after that and began to pat myself on the back again.

Next up was serving dinner which was tastylicious and well received by all followed by dessert. Dessert was a winner for sure! I used some chocolate ice cream and peanut butter then healthied it up with almond milk and a banana. Throw all of that into the blender and turn it on and you have a flavorful milkshake sure to please the kids and make them call you supermom even if you did forget the Home Depot aprons earlier that morning and it was the end of their world at that moment. Mommy win!

It is always hard to get out and do things on a rainy day especially when I have to take kids with me but I sure am glad that I got all of that done and over with when I did. Now I don’t have to worry about doing it later today and can just relax. O.K. so maybe I can’t relax since I have o work in the church nursery, prep for a Cub Scout meeting, attend the Cub Scout meeting with all 4 kids in tow, make dinner, etc. but at least I don’t have to do any of the grocery store stuff and my fridge is organized and clean. Sometimes being the crazy mom out in the rain with her kids is just what it takes to get you one step closer to being a supermom in the long run.

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Not Really Super

I get it a lot, “You’re the perfect mom”, “I wish I was like you”, “I don’t know how you do it”. Some days I am one of those other moms in aww of myself and all of my accomplishments for the day because I am a supermom on those days. You know the type, the one that always cooks great meals, has a perfectly clean and organized house, is patient with her children, works out regularly and always gets her to-do list done. Then there are days like today when I am not sure what went wrong but I was certainly not supermom. Even thinking about it now I can’t quite place what the problem was. So much for hindsight being 20/20.

It started out like a normal day. I got up and did a leg and back work out in the garage, got 314 and 825 off to school and got 107 to get started on his school stuff before Cookie came over for her class along with CW. I started getting basic stuff done around the house and kept 1119 from getting in the way of the class at the kitchen table. I even got dinner AND dessert into the crockpot. Then I went out with 1119 to do some yard work. Maybe this is where the downhill slide started. 1119 was really cranky and not at all thrilled to be outside with me. To be honest I wasn’t happy being out there either, it was cloudy and cool and threatening rain at any moment so I really couldn’t blame him for being upset about being there. I got enough done to be able to cross it off my list and not a bit more. Doing the bare minimum? That does not make a supermom so strike 1 for the day.

While Cookie took the big boys to art class I made it to the bank, showered, did hair and make-up and fed 1119 and myself a healthy lunch. Once they got home from art CW and 107 alternated playing and working on a stop action Lego movie based on the Tortoise and the Hare fable. I put 1119 down for a nap and got started on my transcription for the day. I know what you are probably thinking now, “Sounds like you are doing pretty good so far”, and you are right. Only 1 strike by 1:00, that is nothing to complain about for sure.

It was my day to pick up the kids from school so at 2:30 I woke up 1119 to head out. He was less than happy about what he saw as a schedule conflict. The school kids were very well behaved in the car which was good because 1119 reminded me all afternoon and evening that he was still upset about having to pick them up. This was strike 2. A whining toddler is never a good thing for a mama’s day.

Everything went well with the other kids at home. Homework got done, school stuff put away, chores done and playing got started. I was even able to finish my transcription before getting dinner on the table. It was yummy by the way. Tonight was Philly cheesesteak sandwiches with chicken instead of beef. I added some shredded mozzarella cheese and A1 steak sauce to make it extra tasty. You can find this super easy recipe here: http://pinterest.com/pin/146015212890859045/ When dinner was over I really was supermom (at least to the kids) because I ran out for ice cream since it was practically a necessity for the pumpkin pie bread pudding that I made for dessert. Of course I was right and the dessert was AMAZING! IF you want that recipe you can check it out on at http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Pie-Pudding-3/Detail.aspx.

After I got the kitchen clean I started making lunches for 314 and 825 for tomorrow. They got the usual fruits and pretzels with water to drink but instead of my usual sandwich I decided to spice things up a little bit. I gave them each an English muffin half along with containers of shredded cheese, pepperoni and sauce for them to make little pizzas. I am super excited so I hope they love it when they open their lunch boxes tomorrow. If they are excited then I will have a supermom moment for tomorrow.(Always trying to get ahead on my list.)

Next up was bath time for 825 and 1119. I got the water in the tub, 1119 to sit on the potty calmly (nothing happened) and both of them in the tub. Unfortunately, within 2 minutes it was a mommy’s worst nightmare. If you are a mom then you know that what I am talking about is that moment when you look into the clear water and see a turd floating away from your toddlers bottom. This means that both kids had to get out of the tub while the tainted water was drained, the tub rinsed and then refilled and the kids redeposited into their bath. This was my strike 3 of the day. Thankfully, there was not a round 2 and the remainder of bath time was poop free. After their baths I went downhill quickly. Maybe it was 1119’s constant whining, maybe it was the constant sound of Fat Princess being played on the PS3 in the living room or maybe it was just because I was tired of the day. Only 6:45 and I started the debate on how early I could put the kids to bed.

Hubby finally got home and started eating his dinner and everything seemed to get worse for no reason at all. I could just feel my mind shutting down. At 7:20 I gave 1119 some Tylenol for his swollen gums (damn teeth) and deposited him in his crib for the night. 10 minutes later I was sending 825 and 314 to bed. Of course that had to include some tears. This time it was from 825. He didn’t want to turn off the Fat Princess game that he was still playing. In my “done” state of mind I was not interested in arguing and when he persisted I told him that pitching a fit lost him his video game privileges for tomorrow. This brought a sobbing apology and hug in a desperate attempt to get that privilege back. This also meant that 825 picked Daddy to put him to bed instead of me. Mommy fail and strike 4! I know that there are only supposed to be 3 strikes and you’re out but when you are a mom you never really “get out” so they just keep adding up instead.

Next up on my “Mommy is about to lose it list” was sending 107 and CW to the playroom with strict instructions about keeping quiet or they will get sent to bed too. They agreed as the idea of not being able to play video games during their sleepover was a very upsetting thought for them.

Once all was quiet I did the only thing a less than super mom could do. I made myself a huge bowl of ice cream topped with caramel, peanut butter chips, coconut flakes and maraschino cherries and ate the entire bowl. I did this while checking Facebook and Pinterest instead of doing the last items on my to-do list. And now here I sit typing about what a failure I feel like today and watching episodes of, wait for it, One Life to Live and All My Children on Hulu. So there is strike 5 (breaking my diet) and strike 6 (not finishing my to-do list).

So now you have it. The story of my day and how I am really good at making it look like I am a supermom on the outside but not very good at actually being a supermom. Oh well, tomorrow is another day!

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