Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I cannot get over the fact that I really have not blogged anything of real quality for the past month. It's been crazily busy around here and all of any spare time that I once had is now gone.

Admittedly I have been feeling a post-holiday down period. My mood has shifted and my "happy" level is really down too. I was talking to a good friend the other day about this and I was explaining that I just feel plain tired and worn out. I also have been feeling like a slave in my own house. My husband helps out and there is a balance there but definitely there is trouble looming with the balance of work that my kids have been doing. She recommended a wonderful book to me that I have really comsumed. It's called "The Blessings of a Skinned Knee" and it is written by Wendy Mogel. I am halfway finished reading it and already I feel like it has totally changed my outlook on parenting and what I am doing wrong when it comes to raising my children to become self-reliant people.

I highly recommend that ANY parent go out and read this book.

Since reading this book, I have enacted a better balance of responsibilities around my house even for the 5 year old and 3 year old. They also have to share in the household chores.

For my 3 year old he is responsible to make his bed, dress himself in the morning, brush his teeth without being told, put his toys back in his toy chest. I also have him help set the table. He is in charge of the placemats, napkins and silverware. He is to be in bed and lights out by 8:30 no questions asked and no crying allowed.

My 5 year old is in charge of making her bed, dressing herself, making breakfast for herself and her little brother, brushing her teeth and hair without being told, setting the table, and helping me with dinner preparation. She is to be in bed and lights out by 8:30. No crying, no talking, and no questions asked.

The older teens are taking on much more responsibilities such as laundry - cleaning, folding, and putting away, making dinner, cleaning the dishes, setting the table, cleaning their rooms, and helping with some outside chores too.

All of them get incentives but only when everything is done. For the little ones the incentives are up to them. They can choose extra play time on the Wii, a rented movie, a trip to the ice cream store for an ice cream cone, etc. The older kids get beefier incentives because they are doing more work but I let them pick them incentive among a list of options.

So far the results have been really great. The kids are doing more work around the house which helps them to learn how to be more self-sufficient and it also helps me balance the workload which in turn boosts my "happy" levels. I have also raised the bar on my expectations of respect inside the house. For example, there is now a zero tolerance for interrupting anyone in the house. If someone is speaking everyone must wait their turn to speak. This also includes interrupting when someone is on the telephone. It seems like common sense but a lot of times these common sense items tend to get unaddressed and eventually the house becomes tense and chaotic.

But greater than that is the sense that everyone is participating in the family effort and that everyone understands that in order to keep this family and house moving in a positive directions we need participation by everyone because we are all in this together. There is always more work to be done but I am enjoying taking these first steps.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Easiest Chicken Soup recipe ever

If you have a crockpot you won't want to pass up this quick and easy chicken soup recipe. And if you don't have a crockpot, you need to go out and get one. It is the best investment any busy mom who wants home cooked meals can make. And this is coming from a person who doesn't have a lot of kitchen gadgets.

I made this soup last night for myself and my better half because both of us are fighting terrible colds and I thought chicken soup would be just what we needed after a long day of coughing and working.


Whole or cut up chicken
Cut up pieces of carrot
Cut up pieces of potato
One or two medium onions peeled and cut up into sections
Salt and Pepper to taste
Macaroni or noodles

Throw all of the ingredients into the crockpot
Turn on the crockpot to slow for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours
Pour water into the crockpot until the ingredients are covered or semi covered
When soup is ready to eat, cook up macaroni or noodles for the soup.

This is so easy. It takes 5 minutes to get it all together and tastes delicious and you don't have to slave over a hot stove making dinner which is so helpful when you are feeling sick.


Dinner Plans from a 5 Year Old

This morning this is how it went

Her: Mommy, what are we having for dinner tonight?
Me: I am not sure. I have not thought of it yet.
Her: Can I pick what we eat tonight?
Me: (reluctantly) Ok. What did you have in mind?
Her: Crackers, peanuts and brownies.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Craft Show Coming

I am so excited. I just signed up for my first real arts and crafts show. And I don't know a thing about what I am doing. But that's the real fun part of it...not knowing a thing and learning along the way.

I scoped out this show last November and it frightened me a bit. There were so many jewelry vendors and I noticed a lot of things they were not doing that I would do. I also noticed that none of them sold youth jewelry. Everyone was selling adult jewelry. Another good point for me.

I need to get organized though. I need to make sure I have enough jewelry (but not too much) for the show. Since this is my first, I don't really have any idea of what will sell and what won't so I don't want to make too much of something that doesn't sell. Since this is my first show I won't go into it with really high expectations. This is mostly a learning venture.

I will try to make the most of the show though without spending a lot. I plan to get some cheap styrofoam and fabric to cover it for my displays. I also need to make sure I have enough of a variety of jewelry to see what customers like and don't like.

I have also been learning a lot from the internet. I downloaded an e-book from an experienced artist who is very successful at art shows and home shows. What I have learned is in the first few shows that I should put stuff out there and see what sells. So I will not just put out necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Some other things I will put out will be keychains, cell phone dangles, and webkinz jewelry.

The show is at the end of February so if I can get everything together by then I will be a happy camper.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Easy Pot Roast Stew

I was flipping through my crockpot cookbook to find the easiest crock pot recipe for over the holidays that would cook enough food for my big family but be so easy so that I would not be slaving all day over the stove. I found the easiest pot roast recipe EVER. The best part is that it takes no measuring. Here is how it goes:


White potatoes peeled and cut into small pieces
Carrots peeled and cut up into small pieces
Large pork roast or beef roast (doesn't matter what cut or size, whatever you like and the size you want it)
Jar of mango salsa
Frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste


Sprinkle salt and pepper on the roast and put in the crock pot.
Add potatoes and carrots to the crock pot.
Pour the salsa on top of the meat and veggies.
If the salsa is a bit too thick add a little bit of water to it and stir to thin out the salsa.
Turn the crock pot on to MEDIUM for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Before you are ready to serve, add the frozen peas.
Serve over rice or noodles.

So Delicious!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Back Into Routines

It was pleasantly hectic over these past few weeks with family down and all of the holiday festivities. Our normal routines and schedules were definitely out of whack and I had too much take-out/restaurant food. Don't get me wrong. I love restaurants but I love eating at home and cooking a lot better. Last year I tried to limit our family restaurant eating to a couple of times a month. This year my goal is to do as good or even better. I find that as I grow older the crowds, noise, heavy food, and expensive bills bother me much more. It's hard to carry on family conversations and that sometimes irritates me as well. Am I getting too old?

Probably not. I just think that my personality is moving towards that of a much simpler person. I love 30-minute meals and crock pot cooking and have learned how to be good at both. I love to save tons of money at the grocery store. This year I will learn how to do more creative things with ice cream. (It's the family favorite).

I also have learned how to buy really nice wardrobe staples and how to change them up with accessories. It's amazing what you can do with a plain white shirt, a few tanks, a pair of jeans, and assorted pieces of jewelry.

This year one of my resolutions is to play more family games at home. I may even subscribe to Netflix. I plan to read more and spend more time with my kids. I plan to take more photos and videos. I plan to blog more about all of the things I do to simplify my hectic life. I love to share my successes.

This past Christmas I sent a Christmas card to all of my co-workers. One guy came to me and thanked me for the card. He said to me, "I don't know how you find time, with a full time job and 4 kids, to send Christmas cards." His comment gave me pause. I don't have the luxury of a lot of free time so I have learned how to run my life in the most efficient manner so that I do have free time to do the things I love the most. I plan to write about all of what I do. Maybe it will be enough to fill a book. I would love that.

For now stick with me on my blog because I plan to spend a better part of this year's blog posting on the many things I do to keep this wel-oiled machine going.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...